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Foreign-related policies come into force in 2018

VGP – A range of fresh foreign-related policies on compulsory social insurance of foreign employers, free visa extension, granting of tour guide licenses took effect in 2018.

01/01/2019 02:46

Key policies come into effect in 2018

Sea lanes announcement

The Government issued Decree No. 16/2018/ND-CP of February 2, 2018, on the announcement of sea lanes and traffic separation in the territorial sea of Viet Nam.

Accordingly, vessels transporting cargos, passengers and luggage or military vessels and other non-commercial vessels crossing Viet Nam’s territorial sea and inland waterway to enter Vietnamese seaports must travel the right lanes and carry out procedures for vessels as regulated.

Tougher lending regulations on non-cash payment

Under Circular No. 21/2017/TT-NHNN, the State Bank of Viet Nam (SBV) tightened lending regulations, prohibiting credit institutions and foreign bank branches from disbursing loans in cash, effective from April 2, 2018. 

The new circular is aimed to better supervise loans, seeking to have them comply with the stated purposes for requested loans. The disbursement of loans through bank accounts will help commercial banks supervise the use of borrowers’ loans from the beginning to avoid funds being used for incorrect purposes, such as rollovers, resulting in an increase of non-performing loans. 

New regulations on printing activities

Decree 25/2018/ND-CP, dated February 2, 2018 amended and supplemented some articles of Decree 60/2014/ND-CP, dated June 19, 2014 on printing activities. 

Accordingly, Decree No.25/2018/ND-CP amended and supplemented regulations on the prepress, press and postpress of printed products for foreign organizations and individuals. 

Fees for granting travel service business licenses

The Ministry of Finance issued Circular No.33/2018/TT-BTC dated March 30, 2018 on prescribing the rates and the collection, remittance and management of appraisal charges for grant of international tour operator licenses or domestic travel service business licenses; appraisal charges for grant of tour guide’s cards; and fees for grant of licenses for establishment of Viet Nam-based representative offices of foreign travel service business enterprises. 

The Circular took effect from May 14, 2018. 

Foreign investment in education sector

The Government on June 2018 issued Decree 86/2018 on cooperation and investment by foreign investors (Decree 86/2018).  

Decree 86/2018 no longer applies to foreign investment in vocational education. For the first time, joint cooperation with foreign investors is permitted at all level of education including preliminary schools, secondary schools and high schools. 

Decree 86/2018  provides that a foreign investor to invest in education sector by contributing capital or to purchase shares and capital contribution from (1) a Vietnamese educational institution or (2) a foreign-invested business entity that establishes an educational institution in Viet Nam. Decree 86/2018 also defines a foreign-invested educational institution as an education institution invested by foreign invested business entity.

Foreign exchange management of border trade activities between Viet Nam and China

On August 28, 1818, the State Bank issued Circular No. 19/2018/TT-NHNN on management of foreign exchange for border trade activities between Viet Nam and China. This Circular takes effect on October 12, 2018. 

Accordingly, the State Bank shall issue licenses for banks located in the border of Viet Nam. At these branches traders, Vietnamese as well as Chinese may set up accounts, withdraw money, send money, pay and other banking activities with both VND and CYN to serve their business activities, exchange of goods. 

Compulsory social insurance for foreign employers

The Government on October 15 issued Decree 143/2018/ND-CP, detailing the Law on Social Insurance and the Law on Labor Safety and Hygiene with respect to social insurance for foreign employees working in Viet Nam (“Decree 143”).

The employers are obliged to contribute amounts equal to 3% of the employee’s monthly salary to the sickness and maternity funds and 0.5% into the occupational accidents and hazards starting in December 2018, and 14% into the retirement and survivor benefits fund starting from 2022.

Decree 143 took effect on December 1, 2018.

Visa exemption extends to five European countries

The Government decided to extend unilateral visa exemption for tourists from the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Spain and Italy by three years.

Accordingly, tourists from these five countries will enjoy visa exemption until June 30, 2021./.

By Huong Giang