Vietnam’s Ministry of Industry and Trade is taking heat from retail industry insiders who fear its proposed legislation aimed at regulating the development and management of the country’s distribution sector will only serve to complicate operations for local businesses.
The ministry is currently seeking feedback on the bill, which would tighten regulations governing stores, auction centers, supermarkets, and shopping centers, claiming they are necessary to improve the ‘inadequate’ rules currently imposed on the distribution operations of these businesses.
Many industry insiders have condemned the proposal, saying it goes against the government’s efforts to ease the business landscape for local enterprises, especially when the government’s aim was to review the development and management of small markets only.
One of the bill’s most controversial propositions is requiring all supermarkets to have a minimum of floor space of 250 to 10,000 square meters, which Dinh Thi My Loan, president of the Vietnam Retailers Association, said “does not reflect the reality,” and restricts the operational scale of retailers.
The bill also calls for the imposition of a minimum floor space requirement of 10,000 square meters for shopping centers.
“There are supermarkets that are larger than 10,000 square meters, but they do not meet the standards and requirements to be legally considered a shopping center. How will they be classified?” she asked.
Another section of the bill stipulates that supermarkets and shopping centers may not run more than three sales programs per year, with each lasting a minimum of 30 days and separated from the previous sales program by at least 30 days.
At least 70 percent of goods available at supermarkets and shopping centers must be covered by the programs as well, the draft says.
The Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) said in a written complaint that the bill would be an unnecessarily deep intervention in retailers’ operations, particularly with regard to rules on promotional programs.
Other conditions such as regulating supermarkets’ opening hours from 10:00 am to 10:00 pm and forcing them to offer delivery services, telephone and post office sales, and e-commerce platforms are also being decried as unreasonable.