What “Good” Looks Like for the Vietnam Digital Economy

On 27 March 2024, the Tech For Good Institute convened a Roundtable discussion in Hanoi, Vietnam for senior government officials, business leaders, academics and civil society representatives shaping Vietnam’s digital economy. Dr. Vu Tien Loc, Advisor to the Tech for Good Institute was the Guest of Honour. This copy is also available in Vietnamese, click here to read.
(From left to right): Ms Regina Ng, Partnership Lead, Tech for Good Institute ; Ms Phuong L Nguyen, Lead of Digital Regulatory Policy Research Program, Institute for Policy Studies and Media Development; Mr. Nguyen Hoa Cuong, Deputy Director, The Central Institute for Economic Management; Ms. Pham Thuy Hanh, Deputy Director, Legal Department, Government Office; Dr. Vu Tien Loc, Advisor, TFGI; Ms. Đặng Thuỳ Trang, Head of Public Affairs, Grab Vietnam; Mr. Tran Minh Tuan Director General, Dept of Digital Economy, Ministry of Information and Communication; Dr Ming Tan, Founding Executive Director, TFGI; Ms. Thúy Anh, Head of Digital Economy Division, Vietnam e-Commerce and Digital Economy Authority, Ministry of Industry and Trade; Ms. Vu Thi Minh Tu, Senior Vice President, Government Affairs, Lazada; Mr. Keith Detros, Programme Lead, TFGI; Mr. Hoanglinh Nguyen, Senior Manager, Public Affairs, Grab Vietnam

The digital economy is a key driver for Vietnam’s economic growth. As of 2023, the total GMV of digital goods in Vietnam was estimated to be at US$30 billion, a 19 percent increase from 2022. This growth is expected to continue given the rapid digital transformation of industries and rapid digital adoption in society. While this presents opportunities for growth, it is also important to recognise that there are also challenges for businesses, policymakers, and the society.

To discuss the challenges and opportunities for Vietnam’s digital economy, the Tech for Good Institute hosted a roundtable discussion with government officials, business leaders, academic, and civil society representatives involved in shaping the country’s digital economy.

The participants highlighted the transformative impact of technology in Vietnam’s digital economy and society, shared key priorities to enable digital economy growth and emphasised the importance of a whole-of-society approach to govern emerging technologies.

 

Participants:

  • Ms Phuong L Nguyen, Lead of Digital Regulatory Policy Research Program, Institute for Policy Studies and Media Development
  • Nguyen Hoa Cuong, Deputy Director, The Central Institute for Economic Management
  • Pham Thuy Hanh, Deputy Director, Legal Department, Government Office
  • Vu Tien Loc, Advisor, Tech for Good Institute
  • Trang Dang, Head of Public Affairs, Grab Vietnam
  • Tran Minh Tuan, Director General, Dept of Digital Economy, Ministry of Information and Communication
  • Ming Tan, Founding Executive Director, Tech for Good Institute
  • Thúy Anh, Head of Digital Economy Division, Vietnam e-Commerce and Digital Economy Authority, Ministry of Industry and Trade
  • Vu Thi Minh Tu, Senior Vice President, Government Affairs, Lazada
  • Keith Detros, Programme Lead, Tech for Good Institute
  • Hoanglinh Nguyen, Senior Manager, Public Affairs, Grab Vietnam

 

Key Takeaways

  • Vietnam is in the midst of a dual transition towards digital transformation and environmental sustainability.

While digital economy sectors such as e-commerce and online travel drive digital economy growth in Vietnam, participants emphasised that digitalisation of other key industries such as manufacturing, logistics, and shipping is vital to enable the country’s economic growth. Vietnam stands to realise its full potential by enabling more industries to embrace digitalisation, which will generate positive ripple effects throughout the economic supply chain. Moreover, stakeholders highlight the potential of digital solutions to catalyse the sharing and circular economy, aligning with the country’s long-term vision for a more sustainable future that benefits both the environment and the economy.

 

  • Digital transformation relies on responsible digitalisation of its economy and society.

Three areas will support Vietnam’s target: the digital economy contributing 20% of the gross domestic product (GDP) by 2025, and 30% of GDP by 2030: 1) strengthening key policies; 2) developing digital talent; and 3) increasing public awareness to foster the adoption of digital technologies.

While significant progress has been made over the last few years, stakeholders have noted that enabling policies such as data privacy regulations, cybersecurity measures, and competition in the digital marketplace need to be strengthened. These aspects are crucial to safeguard personal data and maintain a safe and trusted digital environment. In addition, alongside regulations, Vietnam needs to enhance the development of its digital talent. This not only entails capability development across society but also within government. For instance, there are still areas of improvement in e-government initiatives from data sharing to delivery of public services.

Finally, promoting digital adoption throughout society is crucial for further fostering innovation and entrepreneurship, especially among the next generation of Vietnamese.

 

  • Policy alignment and coordination creates a more responsive regulatory environment.

Digital economy stakeholders recognise the need for policy coordination and alignment to tackle the horizontal nature of digitalisation and complex challenges posed by emerging technologies. Participants emphasised that government coordination among various ministries is essential to streamline policy making and facilitate a more responsive approach to governing Vietnam’s digital economy.

Private sector participants reiterated their readiness to support the development and implementation of laws and regulations. Co-creation and collaboration can foster stability and certainty in the operating environment and proactively address challenges to compliance. In addition to interagency government coordination and public-private partnerships, participants highlighted the necessity for cross-border collaboration within ASEAN. With the upcoming ASEAN Digital Economy Framework Agreement, representatives from both the public and private sectors expressed interest in knowledge-sharing sessions with ASEAN member states to exchange best practices in policy innovation. However, regulations also need to be responsive, fit-for-purpose and appropriate for Vietnam’s context. Lastly, participants noted that a platform for candid and neutral discussions, led by think tanks and civil society organisations, are vital to encourage sharing of knowledge and views on how Vietnam can unlock the full potential of its digital transformation.

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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.