VCCI Leaves Deep Impressions on Me

9:53:13 AM | 5/5/2023

I worked at VCCI for 37 years, from 1966 until my retirement in 2003. It is already 20 years since my retirement, but my predestined relationship with the Vietnamese business community has given me many chances to come back to VCCI. More than half a century with VCCI has left a deep impression on me, and perhaps these things have kept me close to VCCI for so long.

Ms. Pham Chi Lan and Mr. Duong Van Dam, the first President of VCCI

First of all, I like VCCI for its mission and nature as a social organization for community. Since its establishment in 1963, VCCI - officially known then as the Chamber of Commerce of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam - was called a "populace" organization (the name referred to a social civil organization or nongovernmental organization at that time) to support businesses and promote trade relations with countries outside the socialist bloc. In the past 60 years, our country has experienced many changes and VCCI has also changed many times, from its name, charter, functions and tasks to its organization, scale, operation method and specific activities. However, its mission and nature as a social organization for the business community has not been altered, but further reinforced and made deeper, more open and more comprehensive, according to the development momentum of the business community and the national economy. VCCI has increasingly firmly established its position as a national representative agency of the Vietnamese business community in domestic and international relations, linking businesses, protecting legitimate interests of companies, raising a voice for them and providing services for them as other chambers of commerce and industry in other advanced countries.

Second, I like the flexible, open and cooperative nature of VCCI. As a social organization, outside the power system, with the mission of serving the business community and promoting trade, VCCI of course needs to be open and cooperative with businesses and related partners in Vietnam and in the world, and knows how to listen to and readily serve their legitimate requirements. VCCI leaders, from generation to generation, from the first days of its establishment during wartime as well as the subsidy period, created that distinctive feature for VCCI. Later, when the country was reunified, reformed, opened and integrated, they deepened the identity of VCCI and made VCCI quite outstanding from other organizations in our country. VCCI staff is mostly enthusiastic, dedicated, passionate about the work and highly aware of the service spirit, a sense of cooperation, and a friendly attitude. For a long time, VCCI has been trusted by businesses and other organizations for its willing cooperation based on its reputation for being knowledgeable, professional, enthusiastic, objective and impartial in work and having a good working environment.

Third, I like VCCI's sense of active learning and willingness to adopt innovations and creativity to adapt to new contexts. With a quite different position in the early days, neither a state agency nor a corporate entity - VCCI did not administer anyone (except itself) and was not being controlled too tightly by other agencies, thus, VCCI leaders were always active to learn and look for jobs in accordance with its Charter to do. In early 1982, VCCI actively submitted a new Charter that was later approved by the Government, changed from the Chamber of Commerce to the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, expanded its functions, duties and membership, and developed services for enterprises and adopted the financial autonomy mechanism based on the not-for-profit principle. That milestone created an important turning point for VCCI to attract a large number of new members in manufacturing industries, recruit many qualified people, open a series of new practical activities to meet the needs of "breaking barriers" of many companies, industries and localities to promptly catch the new wave of development when the Doi Moi (renovation) policy was launched. In 1993, the second VCCI Congress was held, opening a new era for VCCI to develop strongly, improve its position and create a worthy stature for the business community and the booming economy as a result of the Doi Moi policy.

Fourth, I like VCCI’s pioneering and bold approach to many jobs. Regarding its organization and operation mode, VCCI was considered the first agency to "dare" the abandon of free state budget to adopt the self-financing mechanism, actively develop many revenue-generating sources, self-make solid human, financial and facility foundations for continuous expansion of domestic and international operating networks.

In 1992, Mr. Ta Ca (3rd from left) - Acting President of VCCI, Ms. Pham Chi Lan (2nd from left) led the business delegation to attend a trade and investment promotion program in Japan

Many services initiated by VCCI in the north attracted other agencies and enterprises to work together to create a much richer supply of business services. VCCI also always trailblazed activities that helped improve the business environment, facilitate institutional reforms, criticize policies, protect legitimate interests of enterprises, organize and mobilize enterprises to exercise social responsibility, environmental protection and business ethics according to international standards.

Regarding foreign affairs, with the support of relevant state agencies, VCCI actively promoted trade exchanges with many Western countries even before Vietnam’s diplomatic relations with them were officially established, such as Japan, Singapore, Australia, the United Kingdom and Germany. In particular, VCCI actively helped pave the way for trade relations with South Korea, Taiwan, Israel and the U.S., which Vietnam found it very hard to establish due to complicated conditions. After our country joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) and signed a series of free trade agreements (FTAs) with other countries, VCCI quickly launched research programs, information dissemination and guidance for enterprises to carry out new commitments and take advantage of new opportunities to compete and grow stronger.

Working at VCCI for a long time, through many twists and turns of history, has been a blessing for me. I always feel fortunate to have been trained and matured by VCCI, to do the work I love and thereby fulfill my aspirations to serve the country and the people of Vietnam.

I am grateful to VCCI leaders and all my colleagues who have worked in the VCCI system and those who have collaborated with VCCI over the years for standing by and helping me “grow up” in my work, especially VCCI’s early leaders such as Presidents Duong Van Dam, Le Dung and Hoang Trong Dai or President Doan Duy Thanh (from 1993 - 2003) and General Secretaries Nguyen Tam and Doan Ngoc Bong, who had deep impacts on VCCI.

I also will never forget the gratitude to late national leaders, from Prime Minister Pham Van Dong who signed the decision to approve the Incorporation Charter of VCCI to Prime Minister Vo Van Kiet and Prime Minister Phan Van Khai, who elevated and facilitated VCCI in the Doi Moi era, as well as subsequent leaders for seeing VCCI as a reliable partner that has worked hard for Vietnamese business development. Without their vision, it would be impossible to have the strong VCCI we have today.

Pham Chi Lan

Former VCCI Vice President

Source: Vietnam Business Forum