Accommodating WTO rules of non-discrimination in domestic law : the case of Vietnam

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The WTO is the only global international organisation dealing with the regulation of trade liberalisation between countries. The WTO commits to support developing members to take advantage of trade liberalisation for their economic growth and national development. Given its significance, it is understandable and desirable that many developing countries have joined the WTO for their economic growth and national development. However, joining the WTO means that all members have to accept the WTO rules and implement them in their domestic law. This is a very complex task for developing members, especially for a transitional economy such as Vietnam, because of the large gaps in economic development and legal regime between developed and developing countries. In the case of Vietnam, with its communist political regime and unique circumstances, its accession to the WTO has significantly impacted all aspects of Vietnamese society. Vietnam made a concerted effort to integrate into the regional and international economy by its 1986 comprehensive reform, in which legal reform was central. In such reform, Vietnam had to adjust its legal system and trade regime to comply with WTO rules. In the circumstances of Vietnam ' s transitional economy, accommodating WTO non-discrimination rules in domestic law was the core matter of legal reform to ensure its adequate legal system and trade regime for trade liberalisation as required by the WTO. As a result of its constant efforts over 20 years of Reform, Vietnam was accepted as a full WTO member in late 2006. Legal reform has proved positive changes towards market economy in Vietnam's economic and legal system. However, determination is needed for still ongoing legal refom involving the very complex and strategically painstaking task of implementing non-discrimination rules to warrant that all economic sectors are treated equally before the law. This thesis will explore the level and extent of legal adjustments needed for Vietnam to meet ongoing requirements for WTO members. In the scope of its seven chapters, this thesis investigates the nature of the WTO's relationship with developing members; analyses its significance in the context of Vietnam; and identifies the driving factors behind the need for further reform. It also explores progress with accommodating of WTO non-discrimination rules in Vietnam, and existing hindrances in its domestic legal system which need to be overcome for its fuller integration into the global economy. Finally the thesis concludes with recommendations on means of improving the Vietnamese economic legal system and trade regime.
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