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In brief

Under the new Investment Law 2020, which will take effect on 1 January 2021 (“New Investment Law”), the most notable change is the introduction of the “negative list” approach, according to which foreign investors will be entitled to market access conditions applicable to domestic investors for any sectors not included in the list of sectors, which foreign investors are restricted from accessing (“List of Restricted Sectors“).

The government recently released a draft regulation that guides market access by foreign investors and provides the List of Restricted Sectors applicable to the foreign investors, which is to be included in the decree guiding the implementation of New Investment Law (“Draft Decree”).

  1. List of Restricted Sectors

The Draft Decree provides the List of Restricted Sectors detailing: (i) the sectors where market access is not yet allowed; and (ii) the sectors where market access is conditional. The List of Restricted Sectors is attached in the appendix of this client alert.

  1. Application of the List of Restricted Sectors

The Draft Decree also provides that the List of Restricted Sectors is applicable to foreign investors and foreign foreign-invested economic organizations in the following cases, when they make investments by way of establishing a new economic organization, acquiring shares and capital contribution in an existing entity, or entering into business cooperation contracts:

  • Having foreign investors holding more than 50% of the charter capital, or having the majority of the partners being are foreign individuals if the business organization is a partnership (“Foreign Majority Entity”);
  • Having the Foreign Majority Entity holding more than 50% of the charter capital;
  • Having foreign investors and the Foreign Majority Entity holding more than 50% of charter capital.
  1. Principles of applying the List of Restricted Sectors
  • Foreign investors will be entitled to market access conditions applicable to domestic investors for any sectors not included in the List of Restricted Sectors.
  • Foreign investors conducting investment activities in different sectors must satisfy all market access conditions applicable to those sectors.
  • The business lines for which Vietnam has not yet committed to national treatment according to international treaties of investment and Vietnamese laws do not have provisions on restrictions applicable to foreign investors, the foreign investors are able to apply the market access conditions as prescribed for domestic investors.
  • In cases where foreign investors are subject to international treaties and the market access conditions applied for such foreign investors are more favorable than that of Vietnamese law, then the foreign investors are allowed to apply the market access conditions of the international treaty.
  • For foreign investors who are subject to the application of different international treaties with different regulations about the market access conditions in the same business line, such  foreign investors are able to choose to apply the conditions according to one of the treaties, except where the relevant international treaties provide otherwise.

List of Restricted Sectors

A. List of sectors where market access is not yet allowed

  1. Trading in goods and services that fall under the list of goods and services subject to state monopoly
  2. Press activities and activities on gathering news, broadcasting and television in any form
  3. Fishing
  4. Investigation and security services
  5. Judicial administrative services, including judicial verification services, bailiff services, property auction services, notarization services and asset management services
  6. Services of sending workers abroad
  7. Business in cemeteries and cemetery parks
  8. Public opinion polling services (opinion polls) (CPC 86402)
  9. Blasting services
  10. Testing and certification services for transportation vehicles
  11. Importing and dismantling of used ships

B. Sectors where market access is conditional

  1. Production and distribution of cultural products, including video records
  2. Production, distribution and projection of television programs and cinematographic works
  3. Radio and television
  4. Insurance, banking, brokerage, securities trading, monetary and other related services
  5. Telecommunication services
  6. Advertising services
  7. Print services, publication distribution services
  8. Land surveying and mapping
  9. Educational services
  10. Exploration, exploitation and processing of natural resources, minerals, oil and gas
  11. Hydroelectric and nuclear energy
  12. Passenger transportation and freight transportation by railroad, airway, road, river, sea and pipeline
  13. Aquaculture
  14. Forestry and hunting
  15. Betting business, casino
  16. Services related to industrial property
  17. Guard services
  18. Manufacture of military materials or equipment
  19. Operation and management of river ports, seaports and airports
  20. Real estate business
  21. Legal services
  22. Veterinary services
  23. Distribution services
  24. Technical inspection and analysis services
  25. Travel services
  26. Health and social services
  27. Sporting and recreational services
  28. Manufacture of paper
  29. Manufacture of transportation vehicles having more than 29 seats
  30. Development and operation of traditional markets
  31. Commodity trading exchange
  32. Service of collecting inland retail goods
  33. Auditing, accounting, bookkeeping and tax services
  34. Valuation services, consulting services of valuating enterprises for equitization
  35. Services related to agriculture, forestry and fishery
  36. Manufacture of aircraft
  37. Manufacture of locomotives and railroad carriages
  38. Manufacture of cigarettes
  39. New business lines that do not exist in the territory of Vietnam at the time the Investment Law becomes effective

Yee Chung Seck leads the Firm’s Mergers & Acquisitions, IT/C, Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Practices in Vietnam. Chambers Global (2014, 2013) and Chamber Asia (from 2010 to 2015) rank him as a leading lawyer in the field of Corporate M&A and TMT in Vietnam. He is a member of the Singapore Bar Association and serves as vice president of the Singapore Business Group. He also serves as AmCham's IT/C Sub-Committee Co-Chair. Mr. Seck is fluent in English and conversational in Mandarin.


Phuong is a senior corporate/M&A practitioner with over 20 years of advising clients on FDI and M&A transactions in Vietnam. She has worked on deals covering a wide range of areas, including real estate, renewable energy, consumer goods and retailing, logistics, production. Over the last few years, she has established a strong reputation in the retail distribution market, having helped several global clothing brands and global retailers to establish their stores chain in Vietnam. Phuong also heads our Vietnam offices' corporate services department. An active member of the Vietnam Business Forum, Phuong has contributed comment and consultation to the drafting of major laws of Vietnam, including the current Enterprise Law and Investment Law.