International Commercial & Trade

Sanctions, international trade, and investment compliance rules can result in the imposition of onerous restrictions on businesses. Violations can lead to substantial risks, including criminal liability, fines, penalties, loss of business, reputational harm, and a variety of associated costs which can be difficult to quantify.

Our lawyers help clients overcome these challenges and successfully compete in the world’s developed and emerging markets. We advise major industrial, technology, consumer products, manufacturing, distributing and selling their products and services in Vietnam. We also help clients select, monitor and manage their relationships with the third-party suppliers, manufacturers, distributors and sales agents in their supply chains.

Well-versed in regulatory and commercial law, we advise companies on compliance issues such as trade sanctions, as well as commercial contracts, product labelling requirements and sales promotion. No matter the issue, we focus on simplifying complex trade requirements so our clients can focus on growing their businesses.

We provide the full range of support to clients including:

  • assessing potential risks associated with particular contracts, relationships or proposed business ventures, including in relation to sanctions and foreign direct investment; 
  • advising on mergers & acquisitions, on dealings with agents, distributors and other third parties. This includes conducting due diligence, drafting and negotiating appropriate contractual protections, and setting in place operational, compliance. 
  • drafting compliance policies and assisting clients with the implementation of these policies
  • providing sanctions compliance training to senior management, boards of directors, employees and agents
  • assisting clients faced with regulatory investigations or prosecutions concerning sanctions and other regulatory breaches, including approaching authorities and negotiating settlements
  • tracking regulatory developments 


Pham Hong Manh

Senior Partner/CFO

Phone: +84932014986

Le Tien Dat

Managing Partner/International Development Manager

Phone: +84939107387


[Legal Updates] New social distance policies under the Directive No. 16/CT-TTg: How should it be understood?

1| New social distance policies under the Directive No. 16/CT-TTg: How should it be understood?

In the efforts to prevent the spread of Covid-19 epidemic, on March 31st, 2020, the Prime Minister of Vietnam issued Directive No. 16/CT-TTg on the Implementation of Immediate Measures for the Prevention of the COVID-19 pandemic (“Directive 16”). Under the Directive 16, there are several strict social distancing rules set forth on a nationwide basis for fourteen (14) days starting from April 1st, 2020, including:

  • Everyone is required to stay at home, except for essential trips such as buying food, medicine, for emergency circumstances, going to work at factories and businesses that do not close or suspend their operations;
  • A minimum distance of two meters is required for meetings;
  • Gatherings of more than two people are prohibited in all public places, except for workplaces, schools, and hospitals;
  • Factories and workshops are required to ensure a safe distance among employees, facemasks must be worn, and workplaces must be sterilized according to regulations;
  • All State agencies are required to implement work-from-home policy for their staff members, except for special needs;
  • Public transportation services will be suspended and travel from region to region will be minimized, except for essential goods and services; and
  • Border crossings between Vietnam and Cambodia and Laos will be temporarily closed from 1 April 2020. Immigration will be tightly controlled at all international border crossings; all those entering from Cambodia and Laos will be quarantined in central facilities for 14 days.

Currently, there are differences around the country in how Directive 16 is interpreted and what the companies should do to comply with this Directive. Therefore, on April 3rd, 2020, the Government Office issued an Official Dispatch no. 2601/VPCP-KGVX detailing the instructions on the implementation of the Directive 16 regarding a 14-day nationwide social distancing measures.

Some main points of the Official Dispatch include:

  • Factories and production units, traffic and construction sites, and organisations supplying essential goods and services – food, medicine, oil and gas, utility, energy, etc. – will still operate normally.
  • Banks, treasury offices, stock trading floors, and other services directly related to banking activities and businesses – notaries, lawyering, registration, or secured transactions – are also allowed to open.
  • Post offices, logistics services, funeral services and healthcare services can also still operate.
    • The Official Dispatch also noted that it’s up to each province and city administration’s discretion to make a list of what services and businesses would need to be temporarily shuttered.

Although this document is not a very comprehensive guide for Directive 16, it however provides much greater confirmation that Directive 16 does not, in fact, impose the lockdown measure.

2| The urgent Notice of the Intellectual Property Office of Vietnam on applying the laws on statutory deadline in the context of the Coronavirus outbreak

On March 31st, 2020, the Intellectual Property Office of Vietnam (VNIPO) issued urgent Notice No. 5277/TB-SHTT (“Notice No. 5277“), adopting measures in relation to the deadline extension for establishment procedures of industrial property rights affected by the global COVID-19 outbreak, and laying down guidance on transaction procedures between the VNIPO and the Applicants over this period, in particular:

  • All deadlines that relate to procedures for the establishment of industrial property rights and fall within the period from March 30th, 2020 to April 30th, 2020 will now be automatically extended until May 30th, 2020. The VNIPO has further elaborated on the procedures in this regard, including requests for claiming priority rights, submission of the required documents, submission of responses to the VNIPO’s notices/decisions, maintaining the validity of patents, renewal of certificates of trademark registration, fees payment, and submission of appeal petitions.
  • The VNIPO will begin to receive the requests for fast-track examination of patent applications filed under the PPH Program, pursuant to the agreement between the VNIPO and the Japan Patent Office, on May 4th, 2020, instead of the previously announced date of April 01st, 2020.
  • From April 01st, 2020 until further notice, all transactions between the VNIPO (including its representative offices in Da Nang and Ho Chi Minh City) and applicants will only be performed through post-office services or the VNIPO’s online filling system. The applicants’ payment of the fees to the VNIPO will be made through post or by bank transfer to the VNIPO’s account at The State Treasury of Vietnam until further notice.

[Legal Updates] Letter Of Quick Legal Update 30/3/2020

1| The Government issued new Decree 35/2020/ND-CP guiding the implementation of the Competition Law 2018

The Decree 35/2020/ND-CP issued on March 24th 2020, providing detailed guidance on the implementation of the Vietnamese Law on Competition 2018. The Decree specifies two important points, namely:

a) The two cases considered as controlling, dominating the acquired company or certain business lines of such company, including:

  • The acquiring company owns more than 50% of the charter capital or more than 50% voting shares of the target company;
  • The acquiring company acquires the ownership right or usage right over more than 50% of the assets in all or some of the business lines of the target company.

b) Specifying the barriers to enter into or expand the market that restricts the market competition, including:

  • The legal barriers created by the laws and policies include regulations on import duties and restrictions; technical regulations; conditions and procedures for producing and trading in goods and services; regulations on the use of goods and services; professional standards and other administrative decisions of state agencies;
  • Financial barriers including costs of investment in production and trading of goods and services, accessing to capital, credit and other financial resources of companies;
  • Initial costs of entering a market that enterprises cannot recover when withdrawing from such market;
  • Barriers to access and hold supply and essential infrastructure for companies’ production and business operation; distribution network, consumption of goods and services on the market;
  • Consuming customs;
  • Business customs and practices;
  • Barriers related to the exercise of intellectual property rights of organizations and individuals, including copyright and neighbouring rights, industrial property rights and rights to plant varieties as prescribed by intellectual property laws;
  • Other barriers to enter or expand the market.

The Decree will be effective from May 15th, 2020.

2| The Decree 15/2020/ND-CP outlining the administrative fines for violations in telecommunications, radiofrequency, technology information, and e-transactions

Notably, Article 101 of the Decree regulates fines of between 10 million – 20 million VND for the following behaviours:

  • Providing and sharing fake information, untruthful information, misrepresenting, slandering, insulting the reputation of agencies, organizations, honour and dignity of individuals;
  • Providing and sharing information promoting the superstition, obscenity, depravity inconsistent with the traditions and customs of the nation;
  • Providing and sharing fabricated, confusing information, inciting violence, crimes, social evils, gambling or serving to gamble;
  • Advertising, propagating and sharing information about prohibited goods and services;
  • Providing and sharing images of Vietnam map but not showing or improperly displaying the national sovereignty;
  • Providing, sharing links to prohibited online contents.

The Decree will be effective from April 15th, 2020.


[Legal Updates] Some new notable legal provisions during Covid-19 epidemic

1| Customer who affected by Covid-19 epidemics may have restructured of the term for debts payment, exempt or reduce interest/ fee, and keep intact of debts group at credit institutions

Circular No. 01/2020/TT-NHNN issued by the State Bank on March 13th 2020, providing for credit institutions and foreign bank branches restructure of the term for debts payment, exempt or reduce interest/ fee, keep intact of debt group to in support of customers affected by  Covid-19 epidemics. In there:

a. Cases restructured of the term for debts payment for principal balance and/ or interest, including:

  • Balance debt which is due or overdue up to 10 days from the due date of payment, to the time of debt payment under contracts, loan agreements or financial leases signed.
  • Balance debt (except for the overdue case mentioned above) within the period from January 23, 2020, to the next day after 15 days from the effective date of this Circular.

b. Accordingly, the principal balance and/ or interest, which restructured of the term for debt payment must meet the following conditions:

  • Arising from lending, financial leasing activities;
  • Arising the obligation to pay the principal debt and interest within the period from January 23rd, 2020, to the next day after 03 months from the date the Prime Minister announces the end of the Covid-19 epidemics;
  • Customers are unable to pay their debts on time according to contracts, loan agreements, financial leases signed due to the revenue and income are decreased from the effects of Covid-19 epidemics.

c. Credit institutions and foreign bank branches shall decide on the exemption and reduction of interests and fees according to internal regulations for balance debts arising from credit extension activities (except for activities of purchasing and investing in corporate bonds) for:

  • The obligation to pay the principal debt and interest is due within the period from January 23, 2020, to the next day after 03 months from the date the Prime Minister announces the end of the Covid-19 epidemics;
  • Customers are unable to pay their debts on time according to contracts, loan agreements, financial leases signed due to the revenue and income are decreased from the effects of Covid-19 epidemics.

d. Credit institutions and foreign bank branches keep intact of debt group (classified as prescribed) at the latest time before January 23, 2020, for:

  • Debt balance restructured of the term for debt payment;
  • Debt balance exempted or reduced interest;
  • Debt balance for the two types mentioned earlier and the whole debt balance has restructured of the term for debt payment, exempted, reduced interest, adjusted debt group as prescribed from January 23, 2020, to the next day after 15 days from the date of this Circular takes effect.

Circular No. 01/2020/TT-NHNN comes into effect on March 13th, 2020.

2| Some new highlights about certifying copies from the originals; authentication of signatures; authentication of contracts, transactions

On March 03rd, 2020, the Ministry of Justice issued Circular No. 01/2020/TT-BTP detailing and guiding the implementation of many Articles of Decree No. 23/2015/ND-CP of February 16, 2015, of the Government on the issuance of copies from master registers, certifying copies from the originals, authentication of signatures and authentication of contracts, transactions.

Accordingly, some new highlights are as follows:

a. Some papers issued by foreign competent authorities such as passport, identity card, permanent card, residence card, driver’s license, diploma, certificates, certificates and academic transcripts attached diploma. When certifying copies from the originals or authentication the translators’ signatures on the translation of these papers are also not consular legalized.

b. Authentication of signatures on power of attorney performed in the following cases:

  • Authorizing the submission and receipt of the dossiers, papers, unless not authorized by law;
  • Authorization to receive pensions, postal, subsidies, allowances;
  • Authorization for keeping the house;
  • Authorization of household members to borrow money at the Bank for Social Policies.

Note: The authorization mentioned above must meet the conditions: authorization without pay remuneration, without compensation responsibilities of the authorized party, and bearing no relation to the transfer of ownership of assets and the right to use estate.

Circular No. 01/2020/TT-BTP comes into effect on April 20th, 2020.

3| Applying the export licensing regulations for medical masks in the stage of Covid-19 epidemics prevention and control

The Resolution No. 20/NQ-CP of Government dated February 28th, 2020, regulating the application of export licensing for medical masks in the stage of epidemics Covid-19 prevention and control.

The essential contents approved by the Resolution include:

  • The Ministry of Health applies the granting of export licenses for medical masks in the period of Covid-19 epidemic prevention and control;
  • Only allow export of medical masks for international aid and assistance made by the Vietnamese Government (maximum of 25% of the production for export, 75% of the production for prevention and control epidemics in the country);
  • For export activities of export-processing enterprises that have granted investment certificates and enterprises producing medical masks for foreign traders that have signed producing contracts before March 01st, 2020, do not apply the above provisions;
  • Dossiers and procedures for granting export permits and determining standards for medical masks be carried out by the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Ministry of Finance;
  • Establishments producing medical masks are responsible for reporting on production capacity under the request of the Ministry of Health.

[News] How Does Apolat Legal Approach Covid-19?

We know that corona virus (COVID-19) outbreak has affected law firms across the country. Many enterprises have closed their offices, required staff to work from home in order to limit crowded places where the virus is most likely to spread. Some several State agencies (for example, the National Office of Intellectual Property of Vietnam is restricting the in-person contact with examiners) and many courts have stopped activities that require face-to-face contact in close distance.

At Apolat Legal, we are carefully observing the current corona virus outbreak. We have been proactively implementing measures and developing plans to prioritize the health and well-being of our members, clients and partners, while ensuring firm continuity in order to meet our clients’ needs throughout this unpredictable period.

We understand that what we should do now is to take very careful steps in line with the efforts of health authorities to prevent the disease.

What are we doing?

Limiting in-person contact with clients/partners/state officers within close distance

Apolat Legal requires members to limit face-to-face work and communicate with clients/partners/state officer as much as possible to protect themselves.

Utilizing tele conferencing platforms

Apolat Legal is hosting many meetings with clients and internal meetings by audio or video conferencing on digital platforms.

Preparing disinfectant hand wash and masks

We have been placing disinfectant hand wash and masks in easy-to-see locations in our office, which is convenient for everyone to use and regularly remind members.

Organizing of medical declaration

Our HR team regularly organizes basic health checks for all members.

Limiting business trips

We have been trying to decrease the number of business trips and is supervising all our members’ business trips.

Cleaning the office more regularly

Apolat Legal requires members to clean surfaces several times every working day with disinfectant wash and keep them dry.

Updating information via firm’s official portal

Bearing in mind the negative impacts of fake news, Apolat Legal is making updates about the disease to all members via official portals, avoiding confusion and rumours.

We are doing our best in fighting the disease and protecting clients, who need us to solve their legal issues in the stressful epidemic situation, for our partners as well as all our members.

Joining with us in fighting the disease with the above very easy measures to protect you and your family.