Economic Freedom
FNF – FRASER – FTU: Seminar on "Trade Liberalization for Regional Economic Integration"

© FNF Vietnam

On the morning of December 7, 2022, in Hanoi, the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF) and the Fraser Institute (Canada) collaborated with Foreign Trade University (FTU) to organize a scientific discussion on the topic “Trade Liberalization for Regional Economic Integration”. The seminar is an important component of the Asia regional economic freedom meeting, a series of discussions by the economic freedom network’s experts, conducted by the Fraser Institute and the FNF Southeast and East Asia.

The program takes place in the context of global and Asian economies are reeling from a perfect storm. COVID and the measures imposed to deal with it created global economic stress. Distrust between China and the West between Russia and the West—have unraveled decades of globalization. Interstate conflict in Europe and the threat of conflict in the Indo-Pacific triggered far-reaching sanctions, throttled economic activity, and exacerbated supply disruptions. Some companies in rich nations are moving to relocate supply chains closer to home and out of China, and, in some cases, other Asian nations. The old scourge of inflation has been unleashed by Covid-19 stimulus spending, supply chain bottlenecks, and disruptions to energy and food supplies.

The Asia regional economic freedom meeting will explore the impact of these factors on economic freedom in Asia with a special focus on Vietnam. It will examine the evolution of economic freedom in Asia and the path forward and how increased economic freedom can accelerate business environment and possibility to trade internationally.

During the seminar, Assoc.Prof. Bui Anh Tuan delivered a keynote about Vietnamese economy outlook and the importance of trade labialization in growth. Assoc. Prof. Tu Thuy Anh (FTU) presented Trade in Vietnam and how Vietnam has reformed to adapt with new-generation FTAs. The representative from Ministry of Trade gave example in Vietnam on how government agencies advocate the PM to change laws to adapt the Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) and update the reform to promote trade in Vietnam. Assoc. Prof. Vu Hoang Nam (FTU) moderated the conference and added his research about SMEs engagement with FTAs and how they benefit from FTAs in practice.

From the perspective of foreign experts, Dr. Juita Mohamand, Director of Research, at Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) agreed that Asian countries experienced a lot of improvement in trade freely, but the procedure is slow. She took Malaysia in ASEAN+ as example of long time in reform. Mr. Rainer Heufers, Founder and Executive Director of the Center for Indonesian Policy Studies (CIPS) described about the case of Indonesia in adopting RCEP. There is a variety of policy needed to be changed to properly take advantage of RCEP. The process has taken quite long in Indonesia.

The speakers and chairs got questions from Dr Nguyen Phuc Hien, Dr Cao Hong Vinh, Dr Nguyen Thi Ngan (FTU) on the topic of SMEs in Vietnam and their enjoyment to FTAs. Economic researchers, Dr.Tom Palmer and Mr.Fred McMahon clearly stated that Vietnam still stayed low in the ranking of free trade internationally for the reason of trade barriers which all countries in Asia are struggling to remove.

Regarding content, the program is divided into three sections. The first section prioritizes Vietnam who is facing economic freedom challenges and its economic reform in the pathway of promoting economic freedom in doing business. It is open to the public, especially for policymakers and media in a hybrid format. The second section is spent on an expert discussion on the application of economic freedom indexes in public management and temporary challenges around the world. Then, the last section highlights trade and international integration as key pillars on which countries could take action to accelerate the liberalization.