Business development

Forum makes case for responsible business agenda

The event hears that the time is right for Viet Nam to integrate responsible business practices into its policies and corporate operations.

Press release | 20 November 2019
Fundamental principles and rights at work are pivotal to corporate social responsibility policies of many multi-national corporations.
HCM CITY (ILO News) – Viet Nam’s strategy to further integrate into the global economy will be strengthened by following the principles and practice of responsible business, a forum has heard.

Taking place on 25-26 November in HCM City, the Viet Nam Responsible Business Forum sees representatives from the Government, business, trade unions and the international community come together for wide-ranging discussions on maximizing the positive contribution of business to labour rights and developmental goals in Viet Nam.

In his opening remarks, Vice President of Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) and General Director of VCCI Ho Chi Minh, Vo Tan Thanh, said: “To encourage and foster domestic enterprises running their business operations in compliance with the internationally acknowledged rules related to human rights, environment protection, business integrity and anti-corruption is part of the strategy for strengthening the capacity of Vietnamese businesses participating in the global supply chains.”

The forum also heard that the free trade deal with the European Union (EVFTA) and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) represent defining opportunities in enhancing Viet Nam’s engagement with responsible business practices for fair international integration and trade.

According to Vice Chairman of Eurocham in Viet Nam, Jean Jacques Bouflet, the EVFTA will provide many new opportunities for Viet Nam’s economy as well as European investment into the country but extensive economic integration also brings challenges from private sector’s perspective.

Carsten Schittek of the EU Delegation to Viet Nam agreed, adding that the implementation of the EVFTA will require a transformation of the Vietnamese economy in certain aspects.

“These reforms will also help Vietnamese companies to become part of the global value chains,” he said. “The use of international standards is essential for global EU businesses to include Vietnamese businesses in these value chains.”

The EVFTA, as well as CPTPP, requires Viet Nam to respect the four principles set out in the eight fundamental conventions of the International Labour Organization (ILO), namely freedom of association, eliminating discrimination, child labour and forced labour. Viet Nam has ratified six of these Conventions with the remaining two – Convention 105 on forced labour and Convention 87 on freedom association – due to be ratified in 2020 and 2023.

These fundamental principles and rights at work are also pivotal to corporate social responsibility (CSR) policies of many multi-national corporations.

The forum is co-hosted by the ILO, VCCI, the EU, the Eurocham in Viet Nam and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) within the framework of the Responsible Supply Chains in Asia programme to provide inputs for future policy development in the country.

This joint EU-OECD-ILO programme aims to enhance respect for labour rights and the environment in business operations in six Asian countries, including Viet Nam.

“We plan to take the priorities for action discussed here to further dialogues on policy design to promote responsible business conducts scheduled for 2020,” explained the Programme Manager, Fredy Guaycan. “Hopefully the forum’s outcomes will be used to embed the responsible business agenda into Viet Nam’s business practices and wider national policy framework, as well as in the corporate policies of MNEs and Vietnamese enterprises.”

Among other subjects, discussions focus on the role of Government in setting the environment for responsible business conducts and how businesses’ commitment to human and labour rights, and the environment, can contribute to progress towards the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.

Also under discussion are the latest CSR trends in Asia and the benefits of the empowerment of women in global supply chains. Evidence is clear that eliminating discrimination and promoting women to leadership roles leads to gains in productivity and competitiveness.

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