VietNamNet Bridge – Scientists have warned that the import of backward
technologies would turn Vietnam into a technology landfill.
A recent report by the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI) showed that
high technologies have not been transferred to Vietnam as it expected when
attracting foreign direct investment (FDI).
According to MPI’s Deputy Minister Dao Quang Thu, 80 percent of Vietnamese
enterprises are utilizing middle class technologies, 14 percent using low and
backward technologies, and only 5-6 percent using high technologies.
In many cases, foreign investors exploiting the loopholes in the Vietnamese
laws, brought backward and environment polluting technologies to Vietnam.
“The imported low technologies have led to the fact that Vietnamese enterprises
mostly do the outsourcing for foreigners,” the MPI’s report reads.
“Some enterprises are listed as “high technology firms,” which are the
subsidiaries of global groups. However, the production phases which need high
technologies are not carried out in Vietnam. As a result, Vietnamese enterprises
can only make low added value, thus unable to join the global production chain,”
the report continues.
According to the Ministry of Science and Technology (MST), only 838 technology
transfer contracts were registered and granted licenses in 1999-June 2012. Of
these, 50 percent belonged to FDI projects. It’s obvious that 400 technology
transfer contracts is a too modest figure if noting that there were 14,000
operational FDI projects.
Despite the great efforts made by the government of Vietnam and the policies to
encourage the high technology transfer, the high technologies still have been
staying away from Vietnam.
MST believes that Vietnam can only approach the world’s advanced technologies in
some industries, including telecommunication, oil and gas, civil engineering.
However, in general, the technology transfer to Vietnam remains far below the
Economists urge to change policies
Also according to the ministry, most of the technologies transferred to Vietnam
are the ones equal or higher than the existing ones, but these are just the
medium class technologies in the region.
The problem is that the technologies brought to Vietnam have been chosen to
serve the investors’ benefits, while they are not the technologies Vietnam wants
to serve in its program on technology renovation.
In principle, foreign investors take responsibility about the technologies they
utilize for their investment projects in Vietnam. They have to give explanations
to the state management agencies about the technologies and prove that they fit
the purposes of the projects, and that these are the optimal choice in
comparison with other technologies.
However, as Vietnamese tends to simplify the administrative procedures, foreign
investors nowadays are not required to give detailed explanations about
technologies any more. Therefore, the agency in charge of examining the
technologies in FDI projects cannot make exact appraisals.
Under the current decentralization mechanism in licensing investment projects,
local authorities have the right to grant licenses to investors. Meanwhile, they
don’t intend to consult with local or central science departments before
Vietnam tends to focus on the post-licensing examination instead of
pre-licensing examination. As a result, it cannot prevent backward and
environment pollution technologies from entering Vietnam. Meanwhile, no state
management agency would come forward and take responsibility for the
consequences caused by the backward technologies when they find the problems in
the post-licensing period.