The Role of Bribery in Vietnam

Vietnam’s Chamber of Commerce says nearly half of 270 surveyed Vietnamese companies acknowledged that they bribe government officials to win contracts, and local observers say the findings actually understate the role of graft in the country’s business culture.

About 80% of surveyed businesses reported corruption had hurt their operations, 63% said the licensing system was a key driver of corruption, and nearly 50% said they had to pay cash and/or expensive gifts to officials when they wanted to provide products or services in the public sector. One senior Vietnamese economist says the true picture of corruption might even be more serious.

Bribery is structured into Vietnam’s economy, largely because every employee in the public sector — from a first grade teacher to a heart surgeon — is paid significantly less than the cost of basic needs.

The question is: What can an American business or investor do about it –without violating corrupt practices law? The answer may start with an understanding that, from a Vietnamese perspective, American business practices are unsavory in different ways, such as the way the U.S. finances elections.

More on bribery in Vietnam business

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