This is revealed in a report titled Enabling Trade in the Greater ASEAN Region, released on June 3 by the World Economic Forum (WEF).

The report assessed trade in the seven ASEAN nations, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Cambodia.

It also ranks 125 economies worldwide based on four criteria, including market access, border administration, transport and communication infrastructure and business environment.

In the report’s 2010 Enabling Trade Index, Vietnam leapt 18 places to rank 71st.

The Associate Director of the Global Competitiveness Network, Thierry Geiger, said that Vietnam’s progress was due to the fulfillment of its commitments after joining the World Trade Organisation in 2007. This led to a significant liberalisation of trade in goods and services.

As a result, Vietnam now ranks 50th in the market-access sub index that measures the openness of domestic trade policies, the quality of the trade regime and the extent of policy barriers encountered by the country’s exporters.

Geiger said border administration and transport infrastructure are two areas in which Vietnam needs to make a greater effort.

Border administration is still the weakest aspect of the country’s performance, despite policies to streamline customs procedures. This had led to a 10-place improvement.

The report said that customs procedures remain burden some and time consuming.

Inefficient border administration and poor infrastructure were also common major shortcomings in other ASEAN countries. This has hindered trade in the region and the competitiveness of exports.

“Improving regional trade could unlock ASEAN’s potential and help to rebalance global growth,” said WEF chief business officer Robert Greenhill.

According to the report, Vietnam needs to address several issues affecting business operations, such as government efficiency and corruption.

Experts believe that despite the Government’s efforts to fight corruption and the fact that investors do not consider it a major obstacle to doing business, corruption is still a major area of concern for those hoping to improve the business environment.

The report singled out Singapore as the world’s most open country, earning it top marks for border administration, the quality of its logistics and transport services and transport and communications infrastructure.

Economic forum

The World Economic Forum (WEF) on East Asia will be held on June 6-7 in HCM City. It will be the first time the meeting has been held in Vietnam.

The forum will focus on Asia’s role in global cooperation, global risks and improving competitiveness through innovative technologies and green economies.

At least 450 delegates from regional countries and leading business executives plus several academics will attend the forum.

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Doan Xuan Hung said that the event, held during Vietnam’s presidency of ASEAN, will be an excellent opportunity for Vietnam to promote its dynamic image.

Radio Voice of Vietnam - June 4, 2010