Below, please kindly find the entire opening speech by Mr. Nguyen Tien Huy, Director General, Office for Business Sustainable Development – VCCI at the workshop titled “Joining hands to promote a fair business environment in Vietnam”, which devlivered on 22 December 2022 in Hanoi. Ms. Ruth Turner, Political and Development Counselor, British Embassy in Vietnam, Mr. Tomas Kvedaras, Project Specialist, Judicial Integrity Network in ASEAN, FairBiz project, UNDP’s Regional Hub in Bangkok, Thailand, Do Thuy Van, Program Manager, UNDP Vietnam, Ladies and Gentlemen, distinguished delegates, businesses, press agencies…, We are now at the last days of 2022. For businesses, this probably is the busiest time to “speed up and reach the finish line” towards achieving business production plans. Therefore, the large participation of business representatives at the workshop today demonstrates the great interest of the business community in integrity and fair business environment which is always considered as a burning topic. On behalf of Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), I would like to express my sincere thanks today in particular to the representative of the British Embassy, the representative of UNDP’s regional FairBiz project and many businesses and media agencies for attending our workshop titled “Joining hands to promote a fair business environment in Vietnam” and also for actively joining efforts, providing support and coordinating with VCCI on the journey into forming a business integrity community during over time. Ladies and Gentlemen, “Corruption remains one of the biggest obstacles to global socio-economic development. Corruption affects the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; causes negative impacts on markets and generates unequal consequences for the most vulnerable among us. Collective action plays an important role to help implement business integrity and build a more transparent global economy.” As Mrs. Sanda Ojiambo, Executive Director of the UN Global Compact Network underlined in her statement. Sharing the same perception that corruption arises as an issue with global impacts so that a global approach to anti-corruption is required along with a vision for promoting sustainable development of the business community in Vietnam, VCCI understands that only through creating a transparent, fair, integrity business environment, we will be able to mobilize and optimize use of resources of the private sector, avoid losses and waste. From there, businesses can increase their trust and concentrate resources on business production, long-term investment which contribute to the goal of sustainable socio-economic development of the locality and the nation, also improve competitiveness and strengthen international integration. Regarding the National Anti-corruption Strategy until 2020 and the United Nations Convention against Corruption Implementation Plan, as a national organization representing and bringing together the business community and entrepreneurs in Vietnam, VCCI has taken drastic measures to promote the role of businesses, business associations and trade associations in anti-corruption through developing and building a healthy, uncorrupted business culture; creating a transparent and fair competitive business environment; raising awareness on legal compliance of businesses; eradicating step by step bribery in the relationship between businesses and state agencies; coordinating with competent agencies to prevent and promptly detect acts of harassment and bribery of officials and public servants… VCCI has built a cooperative and cohesive relationship with agencies, international organizations by implementing activities to promote anti-corruption practices in business. VCCI has been actively participating in initiatives to learn from experiences, recognize and highlight domestic efforts for the promotion of business integrity. VCCI is a member of the Executive Board of the ASEAN CSR Network, a member of the Integrity Working Group in ASEAN; is an effective partner with international organizations such as OECD, UNDP, and member of the Global Compact Network – UNGC, World Business Council for Sustainable Development – WBCSD… Ladies and Gentlemen, Since 2017, VCCI has been working closely with UNDP under the support from United Kingdom for implementing the FairBiz Project and the Government Business Integrity Initiative (GBII). Mentioning some notable results that we have achieved over the past time such as: nearly 1500 businesses have received training in internal control mechanism and code of conduct; engaging 15 business associations with nearly 13,000 members to sign a business integrity pledge; providing technical support for 05 businesses included Traphaco, Vietnam Maritime Corporation (VIMC), Fine Scandinavia, and 02 female-owned enterprises; initiating the Vietnam Business Integrity Network (VBIN) in 2021. The establishment of VBIN demonstrates great efforts of VCCI, UNDP, and British Embassy in Vietnam in raising awareness of the business community in Vietnam about business integrity, encouraging business leaders to act on business principles and practices, as well as enhancing multi-stakeholder engagement, policy dialogue which facilitates responsible business conduct, and creates a more transparent and equal business environment in Vietnam. VBIN has achieved a number of very important and encouraging initial results such as: the launching of Vietnam Business Integrity Index, assessing the current state of business integrity implementation among 30 listed companies in HCM and HN, building an online tool platform to evaluate the level of business integrity implementation. All these contents will also be shared in detail with delegates at the workshop’s program today. Ladies and Gentlemen, The outcomes of the Provincial Competitiveness Index (PCI) survey conducted by VCCI have shown that anti-corruption practices in recent years have known positive deliverables. Specifically, the rate of businesses having to pay informal fees in general in the PCI 2021 survey decreased to 41.4% compared to 44.9% in 2020. This is also the lowest level in the past 16 years (in 2006 it was 70%). The size of informal expenses also has decreased significantly over time when the proportion of enterprises spending more than 10% of revenue to pay for this type of expense is only about 4.1%, decreased twice as in 2016 (9.1%). However, there’s still a lot of space for improvement. For example, the percentage of businesses having said “The incident of troubling for handling business procedures is common” was 57.4% in 2021, higher than 54.1% in 2019-2020. That being said, in order to create a more transparent and fair business environment, in addition to the leadership of the Government and all bodies of government, the business community must proactively take collective initiatives which have a decisive meaning. Collective action saves time and resources generate significant inspirational influence, and helps accelerate systemic changes towards business integrity and transparency. To go fast, we go alone. But to go far, we must go together. That is also the spirit of SDG Goal 17: Partnership – Strengthening Cooperation. Together, we go further. Together, we go stronger. Let’s join hands and act together towards a fair business environment for all businesses in Vietnam, for the future and sustainable development of businesses themselves. And with that conviction, I would like to respectfully announce that today’s workshop is now open. Wish you all a successful meeting! Finally, I wish you and your family a Christmas season and a New Year 2023 filled with kindness, love and joy! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!