Vietnam embarked on an economic reform program in 1986 aimed at transitioning from a centrally-planned to market-oriented economy. Since then, market competition has steadily increased with the participation of non-state owned enterprises which dominated the economy during the period of central planning and, indeed, for much of the post-reform period. This has been the case particularly since the year 2000, when a breakthrough Enterprise Law was introduced resulting in strong growth of new business transactions. At the same time, the Vietnamese economy has taken significant steps towards closer economic integration with regional and international markets through its membership of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation), and the WTO (World Trade Organisation).
The introduction of a Competition Law in 2005 further provided a legal framework with which to promote business development in Vietnam. This Law aimed to provide a fair competition environment for all businesses and types of ownership operating in Vietnam. This chapter discusses the basis, and the process, for the introduction of the Competition Law in Vietnam. It describes key features of the Law including specific provisions given to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). It highlights the challenges in implementing the Law in general and to SMEs in particular. It also discusses the roles of key stakeholders in the implementation process, including the Vietnam Competition Authority. The chapter concludes with some suggestions as to how the Competition Law can be made more effective and relevant.