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Vietnam to allow firms to make military uniforms for other countries

Vietnamese apparel businesses will be permitted to bid for outsourcing contracts to supply uniforms to military forces of other countries, according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

Local firms had sought permission to make, supply and export uniforms for foreign military forces, and Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai has given them the nod, the ministry said in a document sent to its national defense and public security counterparts.

The trade ministry is soliciting advice from these counterparts to issue a joint circular on what requirements firms should meet to be allowed to sign military uniform manufacturing contracts with foreign customers.

It is expected that Vietnamese businesses will have to submit an application to the trade ministry if they want to bid for such contracts, according to the document.

The ministry will then seek consent from its national defense and public security counterparts using the information included in the application of the apparel firms, before granting them a license.

The customs agency will need such a license to allow businesses to import the product samples and materials, and will strictly oversee the use of the materials until the export stage, the trade ministry elaborated.

The Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association (VITAS) once complained that local businesses have lost contracts worth billions of U.S. dollars to foreign competitors just because they are not allowed to take army uniform orders from other countries.

Vietnam currently bans civil entities from importing and exporting uniforms and equipment used by military forces, according to a Ministry of National Defense directive.

Such prohibition has prevented many Vietnamese firms from receiving outsourcing orders from international customers.

In 2014, May Hoa Binh JSC, a VITAS member, got an order to produce uniforms for the police unit in the Australian state of Tasmania.

According to the contract proposal, the Australian side would supply sample products and all necessary materials for the Vietnamese firm.

But the shipment of the samples and materials was rejected by customs officers at Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City, who cited the defense ministry’s directive as saying they are banned products, according to Bao Dat Viet newspaper.

The Australian partner thus had to look to another country to find the supplier.

Hoa Binh Co. is not the only ‘victim’ of what the VITAS has repeatedly criticized as ‘unreasonable regulations’ by the defense ministry.

Vietnamese apparel businesses have received many army uniform making orders from Australia, Italia, Romania, and even the U.S., but none of them were able to grab the chance, according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Bao Cong Thuong newspaper.

“While other countries do not mind having their military uniforms manufactured overseas, why should we reject such a business opportunity?” the newspaper quoted VITAS deputy chairwoman Dang Phuong Dung as wondering.

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