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On 22 Septerber, 2021, the webinar “ASEAN’s E-commerce during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond: perspectives and lessons from enterprises” took place successfully with the presence of over 100 participants including international speakers, researchers, lecturers and students at VNU University of Economics and Business.
The special guest speaker is Mr. Piotr (Petter) Harasimowicz, Chief Representative Officer, Foreign Trade Office of the Polish Investment and Trade Agency in Vietnam. Mr. Piotr (Petter) Harasimowicz’s presentation is about “the perspective on the general context of Vietnam’s E-commerce and the Polish E-commerce businesses in Vietnam”. The content focuses on the overview of the E-Commerce market in ASEAN, especially, the huge opportunities from European and Polish investment in the E-commerce market in Vietnam. Simultaneously, he affirmed that Vietnam’s e-commerce market witnesses many potentials to develop in the coming time. This topic is driving giant enterprises’ interest, therefore, the Faculty of International Business and Economics, VNU University of Economics and Business implemented a deep interview with Mr. Piotr (Petter) Harasimowicz through several questions after the webinar ends.
Mr. Piotr (Petter) Harasimowicz, Chief Representative Officer, Foreign Trade Office of the Polish Investment and Trade Agency in Vietnam 
Poland has to share the maritime transportation routes with many other Northern European countries. Can you explain how Poland could overcome the geographical restrictions and solve the problems that distract the flow of goods during Covid-19?
Poland is not an isolated country and warehouses of big E-commerce companies like Lazada are moving from Western Europe to Eastern Europe. Poland for the last recent 4 years, we have the biggest FDI from the Western European countries, including the e-commerce and shipping companies.
There is a train connection between China and Europe. So many warehouses are located in Poland and from these warehouses, goods are distributed to over Western European countries, and Poland receives goods from Germany, Spain... and ship them to Asia.
Since Poland joined the European Union in 2004, there have been a lot of investments from Brussel, from European funds. Last year, we signed the EVFTA and we benefited a lot from the trade. We are growing 20% over the year and this is the highest growth ever for Poland for the last 2 to 3 years.
Everything is shipped to Poland and then distributed all over the world. The shortage of containers made the price increase 8 to 10 times more. And there are even more empty containers in Europe while there are no containers in Asia, especially in Vietnam.
In recent months, we see that Chinese companies switched their business model to start producing only the containers in Asian countries. We believe that in a couple of months, the pandemic will finish. Currently, in Europe, they have had the 4th wave. In Germany, they are having 20,000 cases per day, the UK is having 45,000 cases per day but nobody is locking down the country.
This time, it is like we can not kill the economy, we can not kill the logistics and transportation. So in the next few months, it will come back to normal again.
What do you think about the Vietnamese E-commerce laws, compared to the European’s? Is it easy to access the information for these laws for the FDI companies? Can you suggest some improvement for E-commerce laws, especially the terms of payment?
We are working with the Ministry of Foreign Affair of Vietnam and we discuss many issues in terms of innovation, directly with the government officers, following the diplomatic protocols. Poland also donated millions of vaccine doses and tons of medical equipment to Vietnam. Through this support, we are building better relationships with Vietnamese authorities and the Vietnamese government. We have been having direct conversations with the Vietnamese Prime Minister. We will discuss the law. My perception is that many European businesses are going down because they built the law to be very clear and tight. For the business, it is not very good because the laws don’t have gaps. If you follow policies, compliance, taxes, your profitability and margin are super small. For a big SME, you need to make big donations for the government to run your business.
In Vietnam, we are talking about payment, shipment. But for business, if everything is too perfect, there will be no room for the business’ improvements. Right now, there are 20 to 27% of people have bank accounts. There was a time when people kept money in the bank and they lost it. Then, they invested in properties, gold, or something that they can touch. Credit cards only 4% of people have them in Vietnam. In Vietnam, it is a tradition that before the Tet holiday, you will pay all the bills because you want to have the Tet holiday without any debt.
Which typical Polish products are beneficial from EVFTA that you want to promote to the Vietnamese market? If Vietnam wants to join the Polish market, which of our products do the Polish prefer?
For Vietnamese products to Europe, after 7 years, it will be like 99% zero tax while for European products to Vietnam, after 10 years, all the products will have 0 tax.
For the categories, cosmetic is number one. Polish companies are working with Vietnamese partners to sell the cosmetics because it is easy to transport, easy to ship, the weight of the product and the margin make it very beneficial.
Secondly, it is the food. 50% to 60% of our products exported to Vietnam are food products. Food is difficult to sell on E-commerce platforms.
For Vietnam products, clothing, garments, shoes are the sector that export to Poland. It is not heavy, easy to produce, easy to transport and the payment is not risky.
From experts’ sharing, the math of digital transformation and cross-border e-commerce adoption of Vietnam’s enterprise seems to find the answer. Despite standing in front of many difficulties and fluctuations of the world economy, the utilization of technology in business activity creates diversified opportunities for the companies, and even more, help these companies penetrate deeply into the world playground.
Special thank you for your time and sharing! Best luck to you!

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