British PM David Cameron asks Vietnam to tackle corruption; Praises Singapore as role model

By @diplomatist10 on
Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron makes a statement to the media
Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron makes a statement to the media following the killing of Scottish aid worker David Haines, at Number 10 Downing Street in London September 14, 2014. Cameron chaired a meeting of the government's emergency response committee on Sunday under growing pressure to sanction air strikes after an Islamic State video showed the beheading of a British hostage. Reuters/Stringer

British Prime Minister David Cameron has urged Vietnam to move into the next stage of development and take steps to address issues of corruption. Mr. Cameron visited Vietnam as part of the recent South East Asia tour that covered four nations with the agenda of trade and development.

“When we talk it is about some of the difficult stuff, how we tackle corruption, how we ensure business integrity, how we have fair rules,” Cameron told a business forum in Ho Chi Minh City, recently. “I’m absolutely certain it’s getting those things right that will make sure Vietnam is as successful in the next decade as it has been in the last decade,” the PM said.

Corporate governance

The British Prime Minister's advice was given at a business forum, while noting that Vietnam needs good corporate governance and a level playing field for foreign and domestic firms with better display of integrity in government and business. Mr Cameron advised Vietnam to look at Singapore as a model, where clean governance is the main attraction of investors. “Singapore has one of the least corrupt governments and businesses anywhere in the world. It’s just a natural stopping off point for businesses around the world. There are thousands of British businesses that choose to make Singapore their home in Southeast Asia and I think that speaks volumes.” Singapore comes at No. 7 on the corruption perceptions index while Malaysia is placed at 50.  Singapore has few complaints of bribery and its bureaucracy is known to be investor-friendly.

At the forum, Milton Lawson, managing partner at the law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer pointed to Transparency International ranking of Vietnam at 119 on a list of 175 countries, on the basis of corruption perceptions. He noted that Vietnam had been stagnating there for three consecutive years and urged it to improve its ranking. Lawson also regretted that there is less enforcement of foreign arbitrations. At the business forum, World Bank country director Victoria Kwakwa spoke about the “irrelevance” in distinguishing between Asian nations and others in establishing governance or business standards. She said the trend is “convergence” in which economies are increasingly driven by the private sector and not the state. Therefore corruption is always bad for business.

Vietnam’s growth

The Prime Minister complimented the economic transformation of Vietnam and called it extraordinary. It has grown per head 350 percent between 1990 and 2010 and is now growing 6 percent a year and is tipped to become one of the 10 fastest growing economies in the world, reports The Guardian.  

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