Interview with Dr. Phan Hien, CBRA

31.8.2017: Dr. Phan Hien from the Foreign Trade University of Hanoi, Vietnam speaks about her current research engagement and previous activities at the University of Lausanne.


Hi Phan Hien! Thank you for joining today’s CBRA interview. Can you tell us a bit about your professional background and how you came to be interested in CBRA?

I am very happy to have entered CBRA’s global network and to join this interview. As a University lecturer in Vietnam, I am always eager to broaden my academic knowledge and make progress in my teaching and research career. In 2005, I became a lecturer of international trade transactions, customs and business negotiation after working as a business executive for a large state-owned corporation (Vietnam Motor Industry Corporation) for 5 years. These experiences triggered a strong interest in global supply chain management and customs operations, two important areas for both governments and enterprises for doing business in the international market.

I can recall that in 2008, I contacted several universities and educational institutes globally to apply for advanced courses for customs administrations, and received no response from anyone except Dr. Juha Hintsa, the founder and director of CBRA. He provided great inspiration and increased my interest in cross-border trade and customs operations. Through my research experience in Switzerland, I came to recognize the academic excellence and professionalism of CBRA in this domain. At this point, I would like to express my deep gratitude to Dr. Hintsa and CBRA.

Can you briefly describe your experiences as a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Lausanne and your involvement with CBRA in 2015-2016?

Frankly speaking, one of the best rewards I have received as an academician was my enrolment as a post-doctoral research at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland that was sponsored by the Swiss Excellent Scholarship for Foreign Scholars in 2015-2016. During this period, I received firm support from Professor Ari-Pekka Hameri from the University of Lausanne, and from Dr. Hintsa and his CBRA colleagues.

My research project focused on the socio-economic negative impacts of illicit trade, concentrating on three countries – Vietnam, Switzerland and Costa Rica. I worked hard to provide a comprehensive picture of law enforcement and cross-border trade operations in the developing economies of Vietnam and Costa Rica versus a developed one like Switzerland. The research outcomes indicate that increased globalization of markets leads to more effective cross-border trade policies and better implementation of law enforcement activities.  The project results also raise awareness of the business community and other global supply chain stakeholders to take interest and share obligations for sustainable development across the globe.

In addition, this project provided me opportunities to deliver high-level lectures on supply chain security and trade facilitation at the University of Lausanne and for other CBRA educational activities. Besides enhancing my knowledge, I could further develop my teaching and presentation skills that are essential attributes for a University lecturer and a scholar. I am also trying my best to transfer my newly acquired knowledge to my students at the Foreign Trade University of Vietnam and beyond. To conclude, my role as a post-doctoral researcher in Switzerland has been a professional milestone and a very meaningful stage of my career.

You are currently engaged in a study focusing on the timber supply chain between Vietnam and the European Union. Can you elaborate a bit on this project and specify the most pressing security concerns related to timber trade?

Thank you for your interest in my recent study of the timber operations of Vietnamese exporters to the EU, which is funded by the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation, SERI, of Switzerland. I am on the verge of completing this project and producing the final report within the proposed timeline. To be honest, conducting empirical research such as this is no easy matter in Vietnam, where there is a lower level of transparency about issues related to timber exports, in the context of trade liberalization and globalization. I am analysing all timber-related issues that are strongly affecting the timber supply chains and the export performance of Vietnamese firms. Higher security and technical standards in timber trade supply chains of the Vietnamese exporters will facilitate and foster timber exports to the EU markets.

I also hope that the research outcomes will enhance mutual cooperation between Vietnam and the EU for the implementation of FLEGT VPA and EVFTA, which will come into force in the next couple months. The Agreement aims to address illegal logging and promote the trade of certified timber products from Vietnam to the EU. Further, this piece of research is expected to contribute towards mitigating illicit trade of timber in Vietnam and its neighbouring countries and help reach the UN targets of sustainable development in the 21st century.

Thank you, Phan Hien, for the many interesting insights on your research work and outcomes.


CBRA Interview on 31.8.2017 by Dr. Sangeeta Mohanty.