Business risks

Australian companies are advised to spend time investigating the market, obtain professional advice where appropriate and thoroughly investigate the issues in entering the market and before establishing business relationships.

Australian firms wishing to operate in this country should commit to the highest level of corporate behaviour and familiarise themselves with Australia's laws and penalties pertaining to bribery of foreign officials.

Bribery of foreign public officials is a crime. Australian individuals and companies can be prosecuted in Australia for bribing foreign officials when overseas. Further information on the regulations governing bribery of foreign public officials is available.

For further information on frauds, scams, personal and asset security, intellectual property protection and other business risks please read more about legal issues.

Intellectual property protection

Sound legal frameworks exist to protect Intellectual Property Rights (IPR). Vietnam is a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization. Enforcement is gradually improving from a very low level, but remains precarious to date.

Enforcement through civil court action is nearly impossible in practice due to a lack of capacity. However, administrative action and criminal prosecutions are being carried out by several authorities. While counterfeiting medicine and foodstuff is generally perceived as a crime, it is not widely known that other categories can also be protected by IPR (source: Intellectual Property Office, Intellectual Property Rights in Vietnam, Apr 2013). For more information on specific countries and general tips on protecting IP offshore, visit Intellectual Property (IP) Australia.

Dispute resolution

Contracts are difficult to enforce in Vietnam, particularly for foreign parties. Dispute resolution procedures should generally be negotiated and included in contracts. Negotiations between the concerned parties are a common means of dispute resolution.

Economic courts hear bankruptcy cases and business disputes, whilst Administrative courts have jurisdiction over cases that concern infractions of administrative procedures. Processes are notoriously intransparent, tedious and long. Alternatively, dispute resolution can be sought outside of the court system through Economic Arbitration Centres. The Vietnam International Arbitration Centre (VIAC) operates in close coordination with the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry.