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|Under the new guidelines by the Ministry of Health, foreign experts are allowed to enter the country even for short visits, albeit with strict regulations|
Semiconductor chip giant Intel Vietnam is looking forward to welcoming their foreign experts from across the globe whom, according to senior manager Uyen Ho, are needed to begin manufacturing.
“Vietnamese companies are eager to see the return of experts, including those who are on short-term business trips or stuck abroad, as they are essential in expediting their business,” Ho said.
However, she added that despite the encouraging signs there have not been any detailed instructions for companies in this regard.
The National Steering Committee on COVID-19 Prevention and Control issued Official Letter No.3949/CV-BCD dated July 24 regarding the entry of foreign workers, such as investors, technical experts, highly-skilled employees, and managers to Vietnam.
Accordingly, the National Steering Committee suggested ministries, municipal and provinical people’s committees, and localities to support foreign experts in completing procedures for entering Vietnam.
In addition, entities that invite experts must ensure
- that the experts take real time-PCR tests for SARS-CoV-2 between three and seven days before entering Vietnam at laboratories chosen by the government or the World Health Organization;
- that the experts have international medical insurance, or the inviting entities must commit to pay for treatment costs if they are infected with COVID-19; and
- safety in regards to fighting and preventing COVID-19.
However, these requirements do not apply to foreign workers who have already booked tickets and entered Vietnam before August 5.
Vietnam will also hire private companies to test passengers at airports. The hiring of businesses will allow for quick tests for the convenience of passengers and the relevant authorities.
It should be noted that mandatory quarantine upon arrival at a designated quarantine place or hotel still required.
“The government’s actions have been good news for companies in Vietnam at this difficult time. Yet, it is obvious that companies need to follow the necessary procedures to ensure their experts do not have to go through two weeks of mandatory quarantine,” Ho explained. “We need to know the detailed instructions so that no time is wasted nor problems arise in bringing our foreign experts into the country.”
Meanwhile Le Bich Loan, deputy director of Saigon Hi-tech Park Management Authority, told VIR that the decision of the government would take the country a step further towards building on manufacturing operations. Nonetheless, foreign experts who arrive for only 14 days are often people who mainly visit for conferences, contract signings, or surveys, and most companies need much more than that.
“Businesses desire experts who sign contracts for more than 14 days. I think the government should delegate the task of welcoming foreign experts to the businesses, and the task will speed up once they take responsibility for it,” Loan said.
There has not yet been any decision in allowing overseas experts to enter the country for jobs which take over a fortnight.
This week, six Japanese experts in charge of preparations for the import of the first train on Ho Chi Minh City’s Metro Line No.1 will land in Vietnam and undergo 14 days of quarantine following their arrival, as per Ho Chi Minh City Management Authority for Urban Railways.
Any positive decision made to loosen restrictions will be a good sign not only for domestic companies but also for international investors.
“The decision to ease entry restriction will give German investors the flexibility when setting up and managing their business in Vietnam, as well as inviting foreign workers and experts to come to work in Vietnam,” said Marko Walde, chief representative of the Delegation of German Industry and Commerce in Vietnam (AHK). “With new regulations, German companies will be more optimistic in increasing investment and expanding operations in Vietnam as they already have high expectations in the economic prosperity and business environment in Vietnam compared to other ASEAN countries,” Walde said.
On August 31, the Ministry of Health issued Official Letter No.4674/BYT-MT that provides new safety guidelines and quarantine requirements for foreigners who are entering Vietnam to work for a period of less than 14 days.
The guidelines apply to investors, experts, high-skilled workers, business managers, and family members, and other applicants according to agreements with their respective countries, as well as guests entering Vietnam for diplomatic and official purposes.
According to multinational law firm Baker McKenzie, the guidelines have shown that experts and guests entering Vietnam to work for a period of less than 14 days do not need to be under quarantine. However, they must strictly and fully comply with regulations on the prevention and control of COVID-19.
Experts and guests are required to enter Vietnam one day before their tentative working date to comply with all medical supervision regulations. Those who get in contact with experts and guests must also perform self-health monitoring.
Accommodation for both experts and guests must comply with requirements and conditions as provided in Decision No.878/QD-BYT from March 12, regarding medical quarantine at centralised quarantine facilities; and Decision No.1246/QD-BYT dated March 20 on Interim guidance pay-to-stay quarantine hotels.
The guidance provides detailed requirements for each step, including before and upon entry, at the accommodation, at meetings and workplaces, and transportation.
Meeting venues and workplaces must strictly comply with distance, health and safety, and also disinfection requirements, while experts and guests are encouraged to work from their accommodation premises. The guidelines are silent, however, on whether experts and guests can go outside for non-work purposes.
Sponsoring organisations must prepare a detailed plan for each step, while experts and guests must also implement preventive measures, including but not limited to frequent hand washing, refraining from shaking hands, and not sharing personal items.
Notably, if experts and guests want to continue working in Vietnam after the 14-day period, they can do so without having to be quarantined, provided that their SARS-CoV-2 test results come back as negative.
Marko Walde - Chief representative Delegation of German Industry and Commerce in Vietnam
The latest move from the Vietnamese government on easing entry restrictions for foreigners has important impacts on strengthening bilateral relations between Vietnam and other countries, while bringing more opportunities for many businesses to recover from the pandemic effects.
As Vietnam gradually resumes economic activities in a new normal, business will benefit from high-skilled foreign workers and experts by restoring production, expanding investment, and enhancing expertise when this new entry restriction regulation is implemented.
We definitely think that more investors and experts from Germany and the EU will have incentives coming to Vietnam for diplomatic and business purposes, as a result of the government’s commitment to creating the most favourable conditions for foreign investors and businesses, as well as the new free trade agreement between the EU and Vietnam. Currently we are also planning a second relocation flight bringing 260 diplomats, investors, experts, and their family members from Europe to Vietnam.
It is a very optimistic and supportive decision from the Vietnamese government to ease the entrance for foreigners because it allows the economic growth of Vietnam to recover quickly while benefiting from the development and expansion of foreign businesses in the domestic and international markets. It contributes to the successful achievement of the dual objectives of promoting socioeconomic development and effectively preventing the pandemic here.
In addition to easing entrance for foreigners, the government should also consider opening more international flights and support more work visas for those who wish to stay and work in Vietnam for a long period of time. More importantly, the government could improve immigration procedures to facilitate the entry of investors, managers, technical experts, diplomats, and their family members.