Vietnamese Fisheries Associated with Corporate Social Responsibility Practice (19-11-2020)

Most multinational companies in the world have developed Corporate Social Responsibility Practices (CSR) Programs that apply in their global supply partners and systems. The benefits of this practice have been recognized in many large corporations such as: Microsoft, Google, BMW, Apple, Wal-Mart, and Metro (in which, Microsoft is ranked No.1 in the list of the top 10 best social responsibilities in the world.
Vietnamese Fisheries Associated with Corporate Social Responsibility Practice

In Vietnam, Corporate Social Responsibility has been implemented in many businesses in many different industries such as textile, footwear, banking, fisheries, etc. Survey showed by the Institute of Labor Science and Social Affairs. Besides of economic efficiency, companies also gain benefits from building images with customers, employees' commitment and satisfaction, and attracting highly skilled workers. Currently, many certification systems of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) are required by international customers for Vietnamese seafood such as: SA8000, BSCI, COSTCO, SMETA, METRO, WALMART, BAP, ASC, etc. In addition, CSR is also heavily mentioned in the FTA, TPP and in the FAO's supplementary guidance for small-scale fisheries.

In order to raise awareness and capacity to implement CSR for Vietnamese seafood enterprises, the fisheries sector has organized many events: seminars, forums, seminars, dialogues, training, etc. Thereby, step by step improve knowledge and skills to apply and practice Social Responsibility for fisheries enterprises.

On October 2, 2015, in Can Tho city, Directorate of Fisheries, Vietnam Fisheries Association, Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) and Oxfam Vietnam Organization under the sponsorship of the Swedish Government organized a National Forum on Practicing Corporate Social Responsibility in Fisheries. The forum was attended by representatives of state management agencies, non-governmental organizations, fisheries production and business enterprises and fishermen in the southern provinces. Accordingly, Corporate Social Responsibility is one of the criteria required by international importers. At the same time, CSR is also proof evidence to the compliance of the business with the following criterias: Product quality, employee rights, responsibility to the ecological environment and community, conservation of natural resources, etc.

The practice of Corporate Social Responsibility is an important element in enhancing the competitiveness of the Vietnamese fisheries sector, ensuring the benefits of small-scale producers and workers in the seafood value chain, contributing to protecting the environment, ensuring fair sharing of natural resources and values, and ensuring the cohesive role of small-scale producers. At the forum, speakers shared their knowledge to improve understanding of the urgency and role of stakeholders in promoting the practice of CSR. The speakers also shared their experience in strengthening gender issues in CSR practice and discussing action plans to advocate for the implementation of policies that create a favorable legal environment to promote CSR in Vietnam's fisheries sector in order to enhance the competitive position for the Vietnamese fisheries sector in the international arena.

On December 4, 2015, at Luxury Nha Trang Hotel,  International Collaborating Centre for Aquaculture and Fisheries Sustainability has cooperated with Oxfam Vietnam, Vietnam Fisheries Association and SGS Vietnam to organize Workshop on Sharing experiences of practicing Corporate Social Responsibility in the fisheries sector in Vietnam with 2 main objectives: (1) Enhance understanding of businesses about the requirements of the import market Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) practices; (2)At the same time, share good practices to motivate Vietnamese seafood businesses towards CSR practicing in the whole industry. Therefore, the harmony between the development of social, economic and environment was ensured.

 In the framework of the two projects "Developing a sustainable and equitable shrimp production value chain in Vietnam-SusV" and "Strengthening gender equality in the shrimp value chain in Soc Trang province - Graisea", from 17th – 19th, November 2016, in Soc Trang and Bac Lieu provinces, the Center of International Cooperation for Sustainable Aquaculture and Exploitation worked together with Oxfam Vietnam and cooperated with consultants from SGS Vietnam and KNA Certification Co., Ltd organized a training course on internal assessment of seafood processing factories according to international certifications of Corporate Social Responsibility for companies and processing enterprises in order to meet the development trend of manufacturing industries.

Currently, many major export markets such as the US, EU, Japan and certification standards such as SA800, BSCI, BAP, ASC also put high requirements on Corporate Social Responsibility. Therefore, CSR practicing is an important step to ensure the sustainable development of the industry. The objective of the training course is enhancing capacity and advisory supporting in the application, process development, and documentation in the CSR practice for seafood processing enterprises. The training course was taught by leading experts on certification fields in seafood production and processing. Attending the training course were more than 30 trainees from 16 companies and enterprises of seafood processing in Soc Trang and Bac Lieu provinces. Through the training course, the trainees have mastered the practical knowledge of Corporate Social Responsibility. Thereby, they can develop production in a sustainable direction and meet export standards.

On October 26, 2017, in Can Tho city, International Collaborating Centre for Aquaculture and Fisheries Sustainability has cooperated with Oxfam Vietnam to hold a seminar on Corporate Social Responsibility forward to the goals of sustainable development and branding Vietnamese seafood. At the seminar, the representative of Viet Hai Seafood Co., Ltd said, that since focusing on good CSR practice, the company has attracted more customers. From an international perspective, Mr. Alba Caratis, a consultant said that Vietnamese seafood enterprises want to build good brands, besides having good CSR practice, they should be having a clear and transparency communication strategy on strict compliance with international regulations and standards.

On November 26, 2019, in Ho Chi Minh City, the General Department of Fisheries has cooperated with the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry - Ho Chi Minh City Branch, International Labor Organization (ILO) to organize the national dialog on the fisheries sector in the context of global integration. In particular, the dialogue shared the roadmap to promote the CSR practice in the fisheries sector of Vietnam in the context of the implementation of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA), the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (CPTPP) for sustainable participation in the global seafood chain.

On Febuary, 2020, in Hanoi, International Collaborating Centre for Aquaculture and Fisheries Sustainability (ICAFIS) organized a meeting of promoting Corporate Social Responsibility practice in the seafood supply chain in Vietnam. The Advisory Board officially was launched, consisting of 14 members who are leaders and experts with in-depth knowledge, experience and reputation. The Board will assist the fisheries sector in developing strategies and plans to implement promotional activities and replicate good business practices.

And most recently, on October 16, 2020 in Can Tho city, International Collaborating Centre for Aquaculture and Fisheries Sustainability (ICAFIS) cooperated with the International Labor Organization (ILO), The Project on Responsible Supply Chain in Asia (RSCA) organizes a policy consultation workshop with the theme on sustainable employment for competitive and productive Vietnamese fisheries.

Attending the seminar were leaders and representatives of the General Department of Fisheries, Department of Processing and Market Development of Agricultural Products, Center for Agricultural Extension of Bac Lieu Province, Sub-Department of Fisheries (Soc Trang and Tra Vinh provinces), Sub-Department of Quality Control (Tra Vinh and Tien Giang Provinces), Vietnam Cooperative Union, Cooperative Union (Tra Vinh and Khanh Hoa Provinces), Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers Vietnam, Vietnam Fisheries Association, Vietnam Tuna Association, Catfish Association, Bac Lieu Shrimp Association, Can Tho Fisheries Association, Center for Resource Research and Rural Development, Cooperatives (Thanh Dat, Hoa De, High Tech Bac Lieu, Hung Phu, Toan Thang), Oxfam Vietnam, VCCI Ho Chi Minh, VCCI Can Tho, and Vietnamese seafood enterprises. In particular, on the international delegates, there were representatives of the Delegation of the European Union, the International Labor Organization, the IDH Organization in the Netherlands, the IDH Organization in Vietnam, the WWF Organization in Vietnam.

According to leaders of the Directorate of Fisheries: Vietnam needs to strictly handle violations. If violations were done strictly and tightened, everything will definitely be better. On May 16, 2019, the Vietnam Government issued Decree No.42/2019/ND-CP on stipulating the sanctioning of administrative violations in the fisheries sector. Accordingly, the Decree stipulate administrative violations, forms, levels of sanctions, remedial measures, competence to make records and competence to sanction administrative violations by each title for each action.

At the workshop, the first secretary, Trade Division (European Union Delegation), Mr. Bartosz Cieleszyński was very pleased to be invited by the Vietnamese side to attend and speak at this important and meaningful event. According to European culture, the concept of "good work" is when fundamental human rights are respected and guaranteed. Addtion, ensuring labor safety and remuneration conditions; Respecting and protecting the physical and mental health of employees were mentioned. Effective work is the core for businesses to gain benefits/profits.

In the framework of the Partnership-Cooperation Agreements, the European Union is promoting production efficiency through trade and development policies exchanged in dialogue on labor rights and human rights. In the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) also contains a chapter on sustainable development, the updated agreements also cover topics such as efficient work and responsibility practice in business.

It can be seen that, in Europe, the chapter on Trade and Sustainable Development (TSD) got the most attention, even before EVFTA was approved. Trade and Sustainable Development chapter in the EVFTA includes ambitious provisions, similar to those in agreements with developed countries (such as Japan, Canada). The EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement contains commitments that each party must effectively implement labor standards of the International Labor Organization (ILO) and ILO-ratified Conventions. At the same time, each party must also fulfill its commitments towards ratification of the Core Conventions; Do not violate and effectively enforce domestic laws, such as the Labor Law, the Law on Environmental Protection to attract trade and investment.

The EU side was particularly impressed by the extent to which Vietnam's commitments were implemented, preparing to implement the provisions in chapter of Trade and Sustainable Development. Notably, Vietnam's reform of the Labor Code of 2019 is a turning point in the development of Vietnam's Labor Rights, creating a legal basis for ratification and the implementation of the two core International Labor Organization (ILO) Conventions. Specifically, the Government of Vietnam has properly implemented its commitment to ratify ILO Convention 98 on organize and bargaining rights, ILO Convention 105 on the elimination of forced labor. These moves have shown an unprecedented renewal and modernization in the economic - political system of Vietnam.

Viet Nam should be noted in that the chapter of Trade and Sustainable Development has established a role not only for the members of the dedicated committee but also developed for social organizations. Social organizations participation is a whole new thing in Vietnam. The challenges are in actual implementation. In this regard, the EU was providing technical assistance through the International Labor Organization (ILO) to ratify the core ILO Conventions. The specific objective is to promote the effective application of ILO basic conventions within the framework of the Vietnam - EU Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA).

The Vietnamese government has shown openness in discussing all areas, including those that are difficult for Vietnam, but very important to the EU. Vietnam - EU can only progress through continuous partnership and dialogue. Therefore, the Vietnam - EU Free Trade Agreement will increase the connection between Vietnam and the European Union. The EU will continue to work with Vietnam and the ILO as well as other partners to ensure that its commitments become a reality.

Le Mai

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