Policy Innovation in the Digital Age: Spotlight on Vietnam

On March 28 2024, the Tech For Good Institute (TFGI) and the Central Institute for Economic Management (CIEM) jointly organised a research dialogue with the theme "Policy Innovation in the Digital Age: Spotlight on Vietnam” in Hanoi, Vietnam. This workshop discussed trends in the evolution of tech regulations in Southeast Asia’s digital economy, highlighting the various regulatory sandbox initiatives and the different approaches taken in sandbox administration to enable a responsible regulatory environment as guardrails for emerging technologies.

Front row (from left to right): Ms. Tran Binh Minh, Deputy Director, Department for Sectoral and Industrial Policy Studies, Central Institute for Economic Management; Ms. Luu Huong Ly, Head of Civil Law Division, Department of Civil and Economic Law, Ministry of Justice; Dr. Ming Tan, Founding Executive Director, Tech For Good Institute; Dr. Nguyen Minh Thao, Director of the Business Environment and Competitiveness Research Department, Central Institute for Economic Management; Keith Detros, Programme Manager, Tech For Good Institute; Ms Regina Ng, Partnership Lead, Tech For Good Institute. Back row (from left to right): Mr. Nguyen Vo Hung, Head of the Innovation Policy Department, National Institute for Science and Technology Policy and Strategy Studies, Vietnam Institute of Science Technology and Innovation, MOST; Dr. Nguyen Quoc Viet, Deputy Director, the Viet Nam Institute for Economic and Policy Research; Mr. Pham Xuan Hoe, General Secretary, Vietnam Financial Leasing Association; Prof. Tran Tho Dat, Former President of National Economics University (Hanoi); Dr. Nguyen Dinh Cung, Former President, Central Institute for Economic Management; Mr. Nguyen Quang Dong, Director, Institute for Policy Studies and Media Development; Mr. Nguyen Nhat Quang, Vice Chairman, Vietnam Software Association; Madam Pham Kieu Oanh, Founder and CEO of Centre for Social Initiatives Promotion.

By: Dr. Nguyen Minh Thao, Director of the Business Environment and Competitiveness Research Department, CIEM

 

In 2023, Southeast Asia’s digital economy was estimated to have grown 11% year-on-year, with the travel and transport sectors of the digital economy being expected to exceed pre-pandemic levels by 2024.

With growth, however, comes corresponding challenges. Across the region, governments are wary of unintended consequences of the rapid adoption of digital technologies and the products and services they enable.  As a result, policymakers are recognising the importance of reviewing roles and responsibilities as well as updating laws and regulations.

In partnership with Central Institute for Economic Management (CIEM), the Tech for Good Institute organised a research sharing session on trends in policy innovation, which was followed by an in-depth discussion with government officials, business leaders, academics, and industry representatives  on how Vietnam may foster a responsive regulatory environment to encourage innovation.

Speakers and moderator

Moderators:

  • Nguyen Minh Thao, Director of the Business Environment and Competitiveness Research Department, Central Institute for Economic Management
  • Ming Tan, Founding Executive Director, Tech for Good Institute

Speakers in roundtable discussion:

  • Keith Detros, Programme Manager, Tech for Good Institute
  • Vo Xuan Hoai, Deputy Director, National Innovation Centre, MPI
  • Nguyen Quang Dong, Director, Institute for Policy Studies and Media Development
  • Luu Huong Ly, Head of Civil Law Division, Department of Civil and Economic Law, Ministry of Justice
  • Nguyen Nhat Quang, Vice Chairman, Vietnam software and IT services association
  • Madam Pham Kieu Oanh, Founder and CEO of Centre for Social Initiatives Promotion
  • Tran Tho Dat, Former President of National Economics University (Hanoi)
  • Pham Xuan Hoe, General Secretary, Vietnam Financial Leasing Association
  • Tran Binh Minh, Deputy Director, Department for Sectoral and Industrial Policy Studies, Central Institute for Economic Management
  • Nguyen Vo Hung, Head of the Innovation Policy Department, National Institute for Science and Technology Policy and Strategy Studies, Vietnam Institute of Science Technology and Innovation, MOST
  • Nguyen Dinh Cung, Former President, Central Institute for Economic Management
  • Nguyen Quoc Viet, Deputy Director, the Viet Nam Institute for Economic and Policy Research
  • Ho Cong Hoa, Deputy Director, Department for Social Policy Studies, Central Institute for Economic Management
  • Tran Binh Minh, Deputy Director, Department for Sectoral and Industrial Policy Studies, Central Institute for Economic Management

 

Key takeaways

  • Transforming key economic sectors will drive Vietnam’s digital economy growth.

According to Vietnam’s General Statistics Office (GSO), the contribution of Vietnam’s digital economy to GDP averaged 12.62% from 2020 to 2023. The country has set a target of the digital economy contributing at least 20% of GDP by 2025 and 30% by 2030. Yet, there is still no standard definition of the digital economy and a uniform methodology to estimate its contribution. Participants called for clarity on definitions for better evaluation and evidence to inform responsive recommendations. 

While the ICT sector currently accounts for around 70% of the digital economy, the goal for Vietnam is to digitalise key economic sectors so that the core ICT contribution reduces as a relative percentage. If accomplished, this shift will signal that Vietnam is maximising the potential of digital solutions and tech-based business models in sectors such as agriculture and services.

  • Technological and business model innovation must be met with policy innovation.

The application of digital solutions has disrupted traditional business models, from transportation to journalism and commerce to finance. At the same time, emergent issues include scams, frauds and misinformation. Addressing these challenges without curtailing innovation requires a balanced risk-based approach.

 With the fintech sandbox in Vietnam in draft stage, the speakers highlighted sandboxes as one of the governance approaches to consider. Pilot mechanisms to test new laws and policies were also discussed, as in the case of Resolution 98/2023/QH15 that grants Ho Chi Minh City special mechanisms and policies for pilots before national rollout.

  • Establishing a data market is a key opportunity for Vietnam.

Data is a vital component of any digital economy. Participants noted the importance of data sharing to further grow technology-related sectors.  However, the amount of data exchanged between parties and across borders is still limited. A data market with clearly defined and accountable marketplaces and exchanges can help businesses improve business decision-making and support research, leading to new business opportunities, value creation and socio-economic development.

Together with privacy, data quality and security, governance structures such as regulation, enforcement and transparency are required to build trusted data marketplaces. Initial steps in Vietnam to facilitate data sharing include draft policies on data sharing and data security. Other enablers to developing a healthy data market include data sandboxes, interoperability across borders and open government data to encourage collaboration between the public and private sectors. 

  • Collaboration is essential for a vibrant digital ecosystem

Effective collaboration requires a whole-of-society approach, with concerted participation of businesses, technology enterprises, educational institutions, government agencies and civil society.Regulators expressed interest in regulatory learning through cooperation with the private sector and also with neighbouring countries.

Initiatives such as sandboxes require cooperation toward shared goals. The aforementioned fintech sandbox is a first step, which may serve as a precedent for other domains such as for digital assets and energy to accelerate responsible innovation and adoption .

In summary, Vietnam’s digital economy targets reflect the country’s commitment to digital transformation. Responsive regulation is a key enabler to this goal, with strong interest among the government, private sector and civil society to collaborate in order to mitigate the unintended consequences of technology. Maintaining this policy-technology synergy will be crucial as the country transforms its economy through digitalisation.

Download Agenda

Download Report

Latest Updates

Latest Updates​

Tag(s):

Keep pace with the digital pulse of Southeast Asia!

Never miss an update or event!

Mouna Aouri

Programme Fellow

Mouna Aouri is an Institute Fellow at the Tech For Good Institute. As a social entrepreneur, impact investor, and engineer, her experience spans over two decades in the MENA region, South East Asia, and Japan. She is founder of Woomentum, a Singapore-based platform dedicated to supporting women entrepreneurs in APAC through skill development and access to growth capital through strategic collaborations with corporate entities, investors and government partners.

Dr Ming Tan

Founding Executive Director

Dr Ming Tan is founding Executive Director for the Tech for Good Institute, a non-profit founded to catalyse research and collaboration on social, economic and policy trends accelerated by the digital economy in Southeast Asia. She is concurrently a Senior Fellow at the Centre for Governance and Sustainability at the National University of Singapore and Advisor to the Founder of the COMO Group, a Singaporean portfolio of lifestyle companies operating in 15 countries worldwide.  Her research interests lie at the intersection of technology, business and society, including sustainability and innovation.

 

Ming was previously Managing Director of IPOS International, part of the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore, which supports Singapore’s future growth as a global innovation hub for intellectual property creation, commercialisation and management. Prior to joining the public sector, she was Head of Stewardship of the COMO Group and the founding Executive Director of COMO Foundation, a grantmaker focused on gender equity that has served over 47 million women and girls since 2003.

 

As a company director, she lends brand and strategic guidance to several companies within the COMO Group. Ming also serves as a Council Member of the Council for Board Diversity, on the boards of COMO Foundation and Singapore Network Information Centre (SGNIC), and on the Digital and Technology Advisory Panel for Esplanade–Theatres on the Bay, Singapore’s national performing arts centre.

 

In the non-profit, educational and government spheres, Ming is a director of COMO Foundation and Singapore Network Information Centre (SGNIC) and chairs the Asia Advisory board for Swiss hospitality business and management school EHL. She also serves on  the Council for Board Diversity and the Digital and Technology Advisory Panel for Esplanade–Theatres on the Bay, Singapore’s national performing arts centre.

 

Ming was educated in Singapore, the United States, and England. She obtained her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Stanford University and her doctorate from Oxford.