Localizing Global Rules: Public Participation in Lawmaking in Vietnam


  • John Gillespie is Professor of Law and Director of the Asian Pacific Business Regulation Group, Department of Business Law and Taxation at Monash University, Australia. His current work concentrates on comparative law and the analysis of legal transplantation into developing East Asia, legal transplant theory, and the application of regulation theory in East Asia. He wishes to thank the many Vietnamese lawmakers, lawyers, and entrepreneurs who assisted in this project, and the Australian Research Council for research funding: grant number DP0665517. Questions and comments may be sent to john.gillespie@buseco.monash.edu.au.


As the pace of legal harmonization in developing East Asian states increases to comply with international trading treaties, a disjunction is forming between legislative expectations and everyday business practices. Evidence considered in this article suggests that Vietnam is no exception. State control over public discourse favors the interests of business elites, while small-scale entrepreneurs struggle to make their views known. Lawmakers exposed to this asymmetric discourse rarely adjust global legal rules to suit the transactional requirements of small-scale entrepreneurs. As a consequence, the largely imported commercial legislative framework is increasingly reflecting the interests of business elites. The article concludes that for the state to develop a more inclusive regulatory regime, it needs to relax its control over public deliberation and give small-scale entrepreneurs more opportunities to convey local precepts and practices to lawmakers.