Vaccines the ‘game-changer’ for effective reopening: foreign firms

By Dat Nguyen   October 3, 2021 | 05:05 pm PT
Vaccines the ‘game-changer’ for effective reopening: foreign firms
A motorbike driver holds up his Covid-19 test result in Ho Chi Minh City, Oct. 1, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran
Prioritized vaccination, sufficient workers, a streamlined “green pass” policy and the lifting of transport restrictions are key to an effective economic reopening in Vietnam, foreign firms say.

As German businesses prepare to resume 50 percent of their activities, what they need most is an adequate source of labor, said Marko Walde, chief representative of the Delegation of German Industry and Commerce in Vietnam (AHK Vietnam).

It is likely that a subset of workers may delay returning to work until they are fully vaccinated, so it is essential to make them feel safe to return, he said.

"Vaccine availability is a game-changer in this scenario," he told VnExpress International.

After months of imposing social distancing restrictions in many localities, Vietnam has begun to restart its economy, switching its pandemic containment policy to safely living with the novel coronavirus. The gradual reopening aims for jumpstart growth in the last quarter.

HCMC resumed most activities last Friday after over four months of imposing different levels of social distancing.

The capital city of Hanoi has also been relaxing mobility restrictions in recent weeks and allowing outdoor activities for small groups. Restaurants can sell takeaways.

To hasten recovery, AHK Vietnam proposes that the government completes its "green pass" policy, a key factor in facilitating factories resume production.

"We expect to fully acquire the green pass by the end of October 2021 for the German business community."

The British Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam, meanwhile, wants more guidelines on acquiring the green pass for its workers, given the administrative hassles at present

The green pass, which could be physical or electronic or both, is set to contain all Covid-19-related information of a person, including vaccination status, recent test results and contact history.

"The update of vaccination status on the e-health book has been slow and inconsistent. Some people are required to take additional steps after being vaccinated to get the update done, especially after a long wait," said Chris Jeffery, BritCham Vietnam chairman.

Regular testing is needed until the greater percentage of the population has been vaccinated, but as this process is costly. Therefore, the government could consider mandating companies to test in house to reduce its financial burden, he added.

"If implemented well, testing does not need to affect business performance."

Jeffery also proposed a full resumption of food distribution, while tourism and the service sector should gradually return to the new normal.

Simplifying domestic and international travel and quarantine procedures for returning business owners and investors with double dose vaccinations and valid test results, and the granting of visas and work permits for managers and experts are all critical factors, he added.

Alain Cany, chairman of the European Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam (EuroCham), proposed that mobility restrictions be lifted for people who have been vaccinated.

All movement of goods needs to resume again as the supply chain has already been interrupted, he said.

Confident vibes

Foreign businesses have also expressed confidence in Vietnam’s strategy of controlling the pandemic and bring the country to a new normal.

Chris Helzer, Nike global vice president of trade, told government officials Thursday that the reopening process should be simplified and balanced between different areas and localities.

Vietnam can bring the pandemic under control without resorting to long-term social distancing measures, he said.

Although the fourth Covid-19 wave has caused temporary setbacks to foreign companies in Vietnam, many of them remain invested in the country with long-term vision.

Food and drink company Nestlé, electronics giant LG, and packaging firm Tetra Pak have all recently made additional investments in Vietnam, while Samsung has affirmed Vietnam as its new global research and development hub.

Foreign direct investment pledges rose by 4.4 percent year-on-year in the first nine months, according to the Ministry of Planning and Investment.

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