Can foreign investors do e-commerce business?-

According to the provisions of Clause 1, Article 3 of Decree 52/2013/ND-CP dated 16/05/2013, E-commerce activities are the conduct of part or the whole process of commercial activities by electronic means connected to the Internet, mobile telecommunications networks, or other open networks.

Moreover, according to the provisions of Decree 09/2018/ND-CP dated 15/01/2018 on guiding the Commercial Law:

Foreign investors are allowed to participate in e-commerce activities including:

– Foreign individuals residing in Vietnam.

– Foreign traders and organizations have a presence in Vietnam through investment activities, setting up branches, representative offices, or setting up websites under Vietnamese domain names.

Thus, according to the above regulations, foreign investors in the form of individuals or commercial economic organizations are entitled to do business in e-commerce services in Vietnam

II. Conditions for doing e-commerce business

According to the provisions of the Investment Law 2020, e-commerce business lines are conditional industries. Specifically, for foreign investors to do e-commerce business, it is necessary to meet the following conditions:

For each type of e-commerce business, enterprises will have certain conditions, types of e-commerce activities of entrepreneurs:

– E-commerce website for sales.

– Websites providing e-commerce services include the following types:

            + E-commerce trading platform.

            + Online auction website.

            + Other types of websites prescribed by the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

With applications installed on electronic devices with network connection that allow users to access databases of other traders, organizations, and individuals to buy and sell goods, supply or use services, depending on the features of that application, traders, organizations must comply with regulations on e-commerce websites for sale or websites providing e-commerce services in Decree 52/2013/ND-CP.

Accordingly, traders and individuals operating e-commerce business need to comply with the following principles:

1. Principles of freedom and voluntary agreement in e-commerce transactions

Entities participating in e-commerce activities have the right to freely negotiate not contrary to the provisions of law to establish the rights and obligations of each party in the transaction. This agreement is the basis for resolving disputes arising during the transaction.

2. Principles for determining the scope of business activities in e-commerce

If traders, organizations, and individuals conducting activities of selling goods, providing services and promoting trade on e-commerce websites do not specify the geographical limitations of these activities, such business activities shall be considered to be conducted nationwide

3. Principles for defining obligations to protect consumers’ interests in e-commerce activities

a) Owners of e-commerce websites selling goods and sellers on websites providing e-commerce services must comply with the provisions of the Law on Protection of Consumers’ Interests when providing goods and/or services to customers.

b) Customers on websites providing e-commerce services are consumers of e-commerce services and consumers of goods and services provided by sellers on this website.

c/ Where traders or organizations providing e-commerce services provide information on goods and/or services of sellers to consumers on e-commerce websites, such traders or organizations shall be third parties in providing information in accordance with the law on protection of consumers’ interests.

4. Principles of trading in goods and services restricted from trading, conditional business, conditional business lines, and lines of investment through e-commerce.

E-commerce activities for goods and services restricted from trading, conditional business, conditional business lines, and industries must comply with relevant legal provisions.

Entities applying e-commerce to trade in goods and/or services restricted from trading or conditional business goods and services must comply with legal provisions related to the trading of such goods and/or services.

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