Will increasing regulations have a deterring effect on Vietnam’s booming high-tech market?

Vietnam’s high-tech market started to develop in the early 2000. Thanks to a strong internet infrastructure and thousands of young, motivated and relatively skilled, yet cheap coders and designers, big investments by Intel, Samsung and Microsoft quickly followed.

Today Vietnam’s high-tech industry is booming, smart phone sales are steep, online shopping is exploding and IT businesses – big or small – are popping up everywhere.  According to the ministry of Industry and Trade online sales from businesses to consumers are expected to reach 4 billion US $ in 2015. Dung Nguyen, director for Vietnam and Thailand at a Tokyo-based venture capital firm called CyberAgent Ventures, sees Vietnam as among Southeast Asia’s most promising markets for high-tech growth. CyberAgent Ventures has invested in 15 Vietnamese start-ups since 2009.

But small entrepreneurs and multinationals are increasingly complaining that increasing government regulations are becoming an impediment to the growing industry. Content administrators of social networks and news websites are now required to have university degrees and obtain licenses. One rule currently drafted would require oversees companies like Google, providing services in Vietnam, to have local representatives. Furthermore the grip on social media has tightened since the popular social media site Haivl.com has been shut down for offensive content, followed by a dozen other sites.

Mr. Tran of Glass Egg noticed that during recent months the government displayed a “heightened sense of security” around Internet content, but does not think this will be a game stopper. For young entrepreneurs, however, it might be a big block in the road.

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