By Minh Phong – Translated by Kim Khanh
Kingdom of caves
Authorities in Hai Phong City, home to famous beaches like Do Son and Cat Co, have ordered a swimming ban from Friday after nearby Hanoi reported a surge in transmissions in the last three days, with 47 cases as of Friday morning.
About 150 km east of Hanoi, Quang Ninh, known for beautiful beaches like Tuan Chau, Quan Lan and Ti Top, has closed public beaches until May 23.
Nam Dinh Province, home to Hai Hau and Quat Lam beaches, and Thai Binh Province, famous for its Dong Chau Beach, both in the north, have banned swimming since Thursday.
Ha Nam, which neighbors Nam Dinh, has recorded 14 coronavirus transmissions in the country’s latest outbreak that began on January 27, while Thai Binh has reported five.
Ancient town Hoi An in central Quang Nam Province closed its popular beaches like Cua Dai and An Bang starting Wednesday.
Neighboring Da Nang, with a coastline of 30 km and many of Vietnam’s most beautiful beaches like My Khe, Non Nuoc and Nam O, shut all of them on Monday after recording its first case of Covid-19. The source of infection has yet to be identified.
So far Da Nang has had five cases and Quang Nam Province, home to Hoi An, has reported one.
Ly Son, an island district in Quang Ngai Province and a popular tourism beach hub, suspended receiving visitors from Friday after the central province recorded one infection.
Son Tra Peninsula overlooking a beach in Da Nang, central Vietnam. Photo by Ha Vu Linh.
Nha Trang and Phu Yen, famous beach towns in the central region, have not announced to close their public beaches but put up barriers to prevent crowds.
Central Quang Binh Province, Vietnam’s ‘Kingdom of Caves,’ suspended all tours and closed its tourist attractions on Friday until further notice. It is home to UNESCO heritage site Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park and many limestone caves including Son Doong, the world’s largest.
Vietnam has had 121 domestic Covid-19 cases since April 27 after being clean for over a month. Infections have been found in 15 localities.
To mark the Netherlands’ National Day on April 27, Dutch ambassador Elsbeth Akkerman writes to Việt Nam News
King’s Day is the Netherlands national day, on which we celebrate our unity in diversity. I would like to take you on a short journey through a few of many Dutch-Vietnamese co-operation projects and activities in the spirit of this joyous day. Việt Nam and the Netherlands enjoy strong ties, built on a solid foundation of economic co-operation. Did you know that Netherlands is the largest European investor in Việt Nam? And the second largest European trading partner?
But there is more than trade and investment only. We also enjoy strong cultural ties. I would like to highlight one project in particular: The World Press Photo. Every year, thousands of photographers from all over the world, including Việt Nam and the Netherlands, submit beautiful photos and stories that matter from the Andes Mountains in Latin America to the Mekong Delta in Việt Nam to the World Press Photo Foundation. The most meaningful photos and stories are then selected by an independent jury. The Netherlands Embassy and Consulate General in HCMC have both, in close co-operation with the local government and People’s Party, shown the exhibition in public spaces in both cities. We will continue to do so in future years, so the people of Viet Nam get to enjoy the same beautiful exhibition that is shown in Amsterdam and many other cities in the world. The exposition helps to create a deeper understanding for different people from diverse cultures all around the world.
The Netherlands and Việt Nam share a long history with each other, and we also share part of our geography. Both countries are rich in deltas and have long-standing strategic partnerships to collaborate on climate adaptation and water management. That is both a blessing and a risk. Floods can bring many benefits such as fertile sediment, pest control and fish. The Netherlands, therefore, works closely with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment to develop a strategy for living with water in Việt Nam by creating space for water and floods.
When water and floods are not managed and contained, storms and heavy rainfall will continue to produce disasters like the past year in the central provinces. Such disasters expose the vulnerabilities of coasts and deltas that both Việt Nam and the Netherlands face. The aim of our co-operation is to turn vulnerabilities along the coast and in the Mekong Delta into resilience and sustainable, inclusive development.
Apart from our structural support to improve water security and water safety, the Kingdom of the Netherlands has granted 2 million euros in disaster relief funds for the victims of the recent disasters in central Việt Nam, on top of EU funds. This additional fund was provided to the Dutch Relief Alliance, a coalition of fifteen NGOs, who then disbursed the funds through their local offices and partners. The role of civil society organisations proved to be pivotal and contributed to an effective distribution to Vietnamese people in need of support.
Being the second-largest agricultural exporter in the world, the Netherlands is eager to support the development of the agricultural sector in Việt Nam. Việt Nam and the Netherlands have signed a Strategic Partnership Agreement in the field of agriculture of which an Agricultural Transformation Programme (ATP) is an integral part. The programme aims to mobilise and co-ordinate international assistance to support Viet Nam in speeding up its agricultural development. The objective is to move Vietnamese agriculture up in the value chain, provide access to the world market and contribute to the global sustainable development goals by promoting sustainable and climate-resilient agriculture.
Part of the solution to combat climate change is to reduce our carbon footprint by making our economies more circular. The Netherlands economy is currently 24.5 per cent circular, where the worldwide figure is 8.6 per cent. The Netherlands aims to realise a 100 per cent circular economy by 2050. Most Dutch companies in Việt Nam, like Dutch Lady, Heineken and Unilever, work hard to make their product cycles more circular. The Netherlands Embassy supports the ambition of Viet Nam to make its overall economy more circular by sharing best practices from the Netherlands.
The celebration of King’s Day in the Netherlands fits very well in a circular economy. Did you know that every year on King’s Day, Amsterdam and other cities, towns and villages turn into one big flea market? One man’s trash is another’s treasure and King’s Day is certainly a day for treasure hunting. Millions of people (including children) set up stalls and become entrepreneurs for one day.
Entrepreneurship is the lifeblood of every economy and benefits from the participation of as many entrepreneurs as possible, regardless of ethnicity, race, culture, age, or gender. Therefore, we are working with Viettrade and SheTrades on a project aiming to enhance the competitiveness of Vietnamese women-owned enterprises. E-learning courses for women entrepreneurs will be developed and multiplied via Train the Trainer activities to reach a wider community of women in localities. E-women participants to the courses can take part in a competition for The Best Business Plan, with a cash award of VNĐ100 million (US$4,357) for the first prize winner. We hope that many Vietnamese women will develop their entrepreneurial skills, will write a business plan to improve their business and will join the competition!
As Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Việt Nam, I look forward to continuing our co-operation in the realms of trade and investment, water, agriculture, sustainability and culture. But also hope that our understanding of one another will continue to grow and allow for our King’s Day, Vietnamese National Day and all national days over the world to soon be celebrated in person again. VNS
Land subsidence due to groundwater exploitation in Hanoi, as well as many other localities, has become a concern for the management of water resources.
A sinkhole caused by drilling a well in Quang Bi Commune of Hanoi’s Chuong My District.
Earlier this month, a household in Quang Bi Commune of Hanoi’s Chuong My District drilled a well, causing a large sinkhole to open and forcing households to evacuate. Cracks were also reported along nearby roads.
According to experts, the drilling of underground wells was one of the main causes behind recent sinkholes.
Geologist Hoang Van Hoan, head of Water Resources Investigation under the National Water Resource Planning Centre, said this was not the first time such incidents have occurred in Hanoi.
Sinkholes have been reported in many communes, including Dong Quang, Ngoc My and Yen Son in Quoc Oai District, as well as An Tien, Hung Tien, Hop Thanh, Le Thanh, Xuy Xa, Hop Tien, An My and Phuc Lam in My Duc District, said Hoan.
Subsidence mostly happened when people drilled wells to reach underground water, he said.
According to the geologist, the locations with significant subsidence are in the west and southwest of Hanoi, where there is a lot of limestone and underground karst structures.
“This was the dissolution of rock, creating cave systems with different shapes and sizes, distributed at different depths under the ground,” said Hoan.
“Through land subsidence in the west and southwest areas of Hanoi, the causes and mechanisms were quite diverse,” he said
“Apart from natural factors and underground karst structures, direct human impacts such as drilling wells would create vibrations, especially when penetrating the rock layer above the caves, combined with water loss in the borehole which causes the cave ceiling to collapse,” said the geologist.
This phenomenon also occurred in Quang Bi Commune.
According to Nguyen Ha Linh, the leader of the drill group, when drilling to a depth of 42m, there was a hard rock layer, because the drill used was not a rock drill, so after 20 minutes, it was impossible to drill through and the ground started to cave in.
A number of people in many of Hanoi’s suburban areas do not have access to clean water supply.
In the past, people mainly used rain water and wells. Gradually, the groundwater became exhausted and polluted, and water from wells could not be used, so many households turned to drilling deeper to exploit groundwater.
In Chuong My District, there are over 6,000 households, equally to 8 per cent of the district’s population using clean water.
There were many families who have not registered for a water supply, but have paid to drill underground wells because the cost was cheaper than installing pipes and monthly water bills.
The widespread exploitation of underground water caused quality degradation, ground subsidence and impacts underground karst caves, leading to dangerous sinkholes.
According to experts, in order to solve the problem, temporary and long-term measures were needed.
In the case of drilling wells, it was necessary to apply appropriate science and technology, with the consultation of professionals.
According to preliminary statistics, the total volume of groundwater exploitation nationwide was estimated at 10.5 million cu.m per day, with Hanoi reaching 1.8 million cu.m.
According to the Department of Water Resources Management, the law stipulates that organisations and individuals involved in underground drilling and exploitation must ensure requirements on capacity specified by the Government in Decree No 60/2017/ND-CP, providing for a number of conditions for business investment in the field of natural resources and environment.
Organisations and individuals drilling must have a license issued by a competent authority and must fulfil their obligations in accordance with the law on water resources, including the need to comply with technical procedures and regulations on the protection of underground water.
|Local automobile businesses are dependent on major foreign car manufacturers and their core technologies, a sticking point for true progress, photo Le Toan|
Vietnam has received praise for its control of the pandemic, which has also contributed to its prestige among South Korean businesses. “Vietnam’s auto parts sector has reached an export scale of $5 billion and an import volume of $4 billion, thus attracting many South Korean businesses during the past three years,” said Lee Jong Seob, president of the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (Kotra) in Southeast Asia-Oceania and general director of its branch in Hanoi. Seob came to Vietnam under a special entry programme nine months ago.
According to Seob, Vietnam’s auto part exports are in the high growth group. In 2020, these exports grew by 48.6 per cent but “have not yet entered a stable period”, Seob pointed out, adding that “the development of the auto-business in Vietnam is based on the understanding of the government’s policymakers, promoting a business strategy that is consistent with the reality of Vietnam.”
In mid-April, VinFast – a subsidiary of Vingroup – announced that it would sell three electric car models in the US market in 2022. Previously, VinFast introduced the Sedan Lux A 2.0 and SUV models. The Lux SA 2.0 participated in the international exhibition of the Paris Motor Show, one of the largest auto events in the world, and received an enthusiastic reception from the international public.
Vietnam may already be on the map of the world’s auto industry, but there is still a lot to do to gain a firm foothold in the global market, such as the right policies to develop the production of auxiliary automobile products.
A panorama of Vietnam’s auto industry was faithfully described by Pham Tuan Anh, deputy director of the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s (MoIT) Industry Agency at a seminar hosted by the ministry’s Trade Promotion Agency and Kotra that took place last week.
Vietnam’s car production has increased steadily in recent years, from around 287,000 vehicles in 2018 to 323,000 in 2020 – figures which include manufactured and assembled vehicles. The responding growth rate of the industry amounted to 2 per cent per year. However, despite the increase, Vietnam’s automobile industry remains behind other regional countries such as Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia.
Vietnam has 50 companies operating in automobile assembly, 45 companies manufacturing chassis and vehicle bodies, and over 200 companies producing spare parts, data from the MoIT shows. However, local businesses are only participating in the lower ends of the value chains in the automobile industry and are heavily dependent on global automobile manufacturers as they are not yet proactive in the development of core technologies.
The production and assembly of Vietnamese automakers have not yet met the criteria in the global industry and have not created links among businesses in manufacturing, assembling and spare parts, as well as with large-scale suppliers of raw materials.
While some companies are participating in the global supply chain, domestic automakers are still dependent on technological factors and the designation and distribution decisions of major manufacturers worldwide. Similarly, domestic suppliers only produce basic components, mainly for welding and painting.
Meanwhile, one of the MoIT’s regulations on the development of the country’s supporting industries lists conditions for companies to enjoy tax incentives. The Industry Agency’s deputy director Anh said, “South Korean supporting businesses make good use of an overwhelming number of incentives from the Vietnamese government’s auto industry development policy.”
The domestic automobile industry – with one of its focal points being spare parts – is one of the important industries for the nation’s industrialisation and has thus been given special incentives by the government, such as the prime minister’s Decision No.1168/QD-TTg from 2014 and the new Law on Investment, which reaps not just investment incentives for the industry but also additional ones to develop assembly activities.
Roadmap for localisation
Vu Ba Phu, director of the MoIT’s Trade Promotion Agency, sees a great opportunity for Vietnamese industrial parks and manufacturing enterprises to connect with South Korean businesses and invest in and cooperate in developing the value chain manufacturing auto parts.
In Vietnam, the production capacity of Hyundai Thanh Cong reaches 100,000 units. “We plan to develop more auto parts in Vietnam as the government has issued policies to focus on localisation,” said Yang Yun Goo, general director of Hyundai Thanh Cong.
Currently, the company does not directly manufacture auto parts itself but cooperates with local businesses to gather supplies of components.
The government already has preferential programmes for imported parts. However, the support of these programmes is not enough to lower car prices as the current tax remains relatively high compared to regional countries.
As the nation is further opening its market, Vietnam signed many free trade agreements (FTAs), but the implementation of technical factors under these schemes has received many reactions from several countries around the world.
Regulations on importing vehicles into Vietnam are an example of the remaining barriers. Luong Duc Toan, deputy director of the Industry Agency’s Department of Processing and Manufacturing, believed that Vietnam has been “unlucky”, similar to Thailand, when developing its industry at a time of blossoming bi- and multilateral FTAs as well as increased barriers. However, the application of technical measures by the Thai government has not suffered as many harsh reactions as Vietnam.
According to Toan, regulations on the production of spare parts imported by the Thai government in the 1980s did not receive any negative response. At that time, investing in manufacturing components in Thailand always followed the conditions of the supply chain.
The kingdom’s market capacity of around one million vehicles per year has also been an important factor contributing to the development of supporting industries and a sharp reduction in the cost of domestically produced vehicles.
Thailand had chosen the best time to become a country with a developed automobile industry in ASEAN, Toan said, with most major automakers wanting to enter Thailand as they turned the country into a car hub.
Meanwhile, Vietnam’s consumption of about 600,000 vehicles per year will increase to one million units by 2030. Companies like Hyundai Thanh Cong see this the reason to open cooperation with partners and speed up the localisation of spare parts manufactured in Vietnam as they hope that the localisation rate will increase to 40 per cent.
“We have had many visitors looking for opportunities to cooperate with spare part manufacturers in Hanoi and other regions,” said Kim Kwang Young, regional deputy director of Hyundai Thanh Cong. “The localisation rate of 40 per cent cannot be achieved in the short term. Instead, the government needs a roadmap to develop supporting automotive industries sustainably.”
Currently, the Vietnamese market is still small, and even if it is localised, the costs will not be reduced in the short term but may even increase over time.
Young pointed out that it may be simpler and less risky to let foreign enterprises invest in Vietnam and import components for assembly than building ancillary factories. However, the initial investment costs are huge, and these procedures also take a lot of time. That is why foreign businesses remain cautious in expanding investments in Vietnam.
According to Young’s observations, domestic manufacturers do not have much incentive to import complete units. “On the contrary, we have to bear many costs related to building factories or training workers. This situation leads to difficulties for businesses who want to invest in the Vietnamese market,” he added.
Kim also hopes that the government will soon have appropriate incentives to develop a supporting industry network, helping businesses of both countries to use each other’s products, which could benefit to local customers and contribute to the development of Vietnam’s automobile industry.
By Hai Anh
|Raymond Mallon, a senior economic expert based in Vietnam|
Most external observers recognise Vietnam’s socioeconomic performance since 1975 as a remarkable development success story. From one of the world’s poorest countries, Vietnam has drastically reduced poverty and leapfrogged to middle-income status, while also achieving health and education outcomes typically seen at much higher income levels.
The Party formally adopted central planning as the economic model for the reunified country in 1976 with a focus on state-owned heavy industry, collectivisation of agriculture, and abolishing private enterprises.
The country faced enormous difficulties over the following decade with limited resources, economic instability, food shortages, and negligible private investment, coupled with US led-economic sanctions and cessation of development support from major western development agencies.
There was some decentralised experimentation with economic reforms in the early 1980s targeting market-based production incentives. This experimentation helped demonstrate that economic reforms could improve well-being.
Despite a struggling economy, Vietnam was able to develop a relatively effective and equitable system for delivering public health and education services to the bulk of the population. The resulting improvements in human capability helped lay the foundations for subsequent successful economic reforms.
The relatively equitable distribution of agricultural land early in the reform process was also crucial as it helped ensure broad-based benefits, thus helping build support for such reforms.
Renovation and integration
The economic situation was dire when the doi moi reforms were formally announced in 1986 with food shortages, high poverty rates, hyper-inflation, and macroeconomic instability. External economic inflows from the former Eastern bloc countries were also set to decline further with the break-up of the former Soviet Union.
The reforms were introduced incrementally as the process required “learning by doing” and because extensive consensus building was often needed prior to securing the support needed to implement reforms.
Key initial reforms included allowing farmers to use agricultural land to farm and to allow farm produce to be sold in the markets. Restrictions on small-scale private retail activity were also lifted. The previous sector focus moved from heavy industry to more labour-intensive agriculture, manufacturing, and services. These reforms generated an immediate positive supply response, boosting food availability and economic growth rates.
The successful macroeconomic stabilisation programmes in the late 1980s and early 1990s were also critical to improving living standards and providing the greater certainty needed to mobilise foreign and domestic investment in business activity.
Tax and budget reforms implemented from the late 1980s, together with increased inflows of development support, led to increasing budget revenues, and a greater concentration of public expenditure on providing better public services and infrastructure.
Following the adoption of a foreign investment law in 1987, and subsequent trade reforms, foreign direct investment (FDI) and trade increased dramatically. By the late 1990s trade and FDI to GDP were high relative to other comparable countries. These ratios have continued to grow over the last two decades.
The United States lifted its objections to multilateral (World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and Asian Development Bank) financing operations in 1993 and loosened its trade embargo in 1994, further expanding the range of investment financing and trade opportunities available to Vietnam.
Vietnam actively pursued international trade and economic integration agreements since the 1990s. Membership of ASEAN in 1995 and the ASEAN Free Trade Area was an important turning point in Vietnam economic development and its place within the region.
Vietnam acceded to the World Trade Organization in 2007, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership in 2019 and signed the Regional Economic Cooperation Partnership last year. It has also signed bilateral trade agreements with several countries, notably the EU, Japan, South Korea, and the US.
Rapidly-growing external economic links stimulated competition and facilitated rapid inflows of tech, know-how and ideas in addition to increased capital and access to international markets. Increasing numbers of Vietnamese began travelling abroad for business and leisure further facilitated the transfer of ideas.
The late 1990s/early 2000s enterprise law and related reforms marked an important turning point leading to the gradual emergence of a domestic corporate sector. Prior to these reforms, bureaucratic obstacles had made it difficult for private businesses to grow and develop the scale often needed to engage with foreign investors and to be competitive in international markets.
Since the 2000s, the government had focussed on regular review of, and actions to address, bottlenecks to trade and business. Business-related laws were periodically amended, and bureaucratic and administrative procedures were gradually streamlined despite periodic setbacks.
Government consultations with the business community and other stakeholders to identify constraints became more regular and systematic. This was important as businesses faced increased competition from new business entrants.
The net result is that domestic private output, employment and exports grew at a faster rate than both the state and FDI in recent years. While the pandemic has particularly impacted the domestic private sector over the last 12 months, overall private sector growth is expected to recover strongly from 2021.
|Vietnam has transformed immensely over the past few decades, photo Le Toan|
Reaching developed country status
Vietnam is already close to, or exceeds, average developed country levels for some health and education indicators. However, there remain major gaps relative to average per capita income in developed countries and in areas such as the human living environment.
Reducing these gaps will not be easy, given the challenging global economy, climate change, the ongoing impacts of the pandemic, and a population that will soon start ageing. Rapid urbanisation provides an opportunity for accelerated poverty growth but needs to be managed well to improve living environments in urban and rural areas. Global technological innovations related to Industry 4.0 will disrupt the status quo generating both opportunities and risks.
Sustained broad-based productivity growth will be essential for reaching developed country per capita income levels. Accelerated progress in developing vocational training, higher education, and lifelong learning opportunities, while continuing to strengthen the relevance of primary and secondary education, will be critical to accelerating productivity growth.
Reducing the substantive productivity gaps between informal and formal employment, between women and men, between rural and urban areas, and between different sectors needed could boost growth, generate more benefits for marginalised groups, and promote more equitable economic growth.
Sustained efforts to enhance the competitiveness of domestic private enterprises will also be critical. Policymakers should continue working with the business community, workers, educators and the community to identify and address bottlenecks. Renewed efforts are needed to further reduce corruption.
Benchmarking Vietnam’s performance with neighbouring countries has proved to be an effective tool for holding government agencies accountable for delivering improvements. This approach should be extended to other priority policy areas.
The potential scale economy benefits from urban agglomeration are substantial. Developing urban clusters can facilitate technology transfer and help nurture the development of a creative and innovation-led economy.
A renewed focus is needed to build market economy institutions. There is a need for strong and independent economic regulators (for example, for competition, energy, and telecommunications), to enforce property rights (for instance, courts, and arbitration), to better protect the environment, and to improve transparency, corporate governance, and accountability mechanisms.
A growing middle-income population will demand better environmental management and improved living environments, including better-enforced pollution controls, reduced environmental degradation, improved sanitation and waste management, and increased parks and green areas. Improved living environments will also be important in attracting and retaining the best national and international talent needed to build a creative, knowledge-based economy.
Better environmental infrastructure and management is also needed to sustain improvements in productivity and to facilitate urban agglomerations. In addition to promoting national and international action to slow climate change, increased attention should be given to the impacts of climate change when planning infrastructure development.
It will be increasingly important to boost public expenditure efficiency and to reallocate resources to better reflect the priorities of an increasingly urbanised and middle-class society, an increasingly more sophisticated economy, and an ageing population with declining workforce participation rates.
Despite these real and difficult challenges, there are good reasons for remaining optimistic that Vietnam will achieve its ambitious goals.
Manoj Barthwal – Chairman, Indian Business Chamber in Vietnam
As a prominent member of ASEAN, and with a host of free trade agreements with the developed world, Vietnam foresees a bigger role in world politics and trade. It, therefore, needs its strategic partnership with India to maintain its superiority and sovereignty in the region.
The uncertainty in global trade due to the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the over-dependence of world trade on China and the importance of the India-Vietnam trade route for international business. There is a growing realisation across the world to have an alternative cost effective manufacturing hub and a reliable source of finished goods and raw materials.
Vietnam, due to its proximity to China and India and due to its size, makes for a symbiotic partnership to achieve this goal. Vietnam has shown its exemplary resilience in fighting the coronavirus pandemic, whereas India has shown its manufacturing strength in being the largest supplier of COVID-19 vaccines to the world.
In light of the above, I foresee a possibility of very strong business ties between the two nations. My goal as a chairman of the Indian Business Chamber in Vietnam is to improve the understanding of each other’s business interests and inherit strengths, so that we may work towards realising the true trade and investment potential between the two nations and complement each other in getting due recognition on global platforms.
Michael Chiu – Chairman, Hong Kong Business Association Vietnam
Vietnam has done a stellar job in handling the pandemic and is admired by most of the world for a country that has limited resources to handle this level of adversary. Vietnam has raised its game to maintain growth during 2020 and the trend continues for a very positive trajectory into 2021.
The association has been a great source of information for our community during COVID-19 and we continue to disseminate information about business opportunities in Vietnam and for collaboration opportunities with the Hong Kong business community in Vietnam and in Hong Kong.
The investment from Hong Kong and China has not slowed down, and indeed we are seeing many first-time investors in Vietnam. Vietnam is on the road map for many to expand to and this will continue to materialise.
The association has been participating at high level conversations through the Vietnam Business Forum and other mediums, representing members and investors to communicate challenges and contributing to administrative reform and Industry 4.0 improvement with the Vietnamese government.
These constructive conversations will continue to benefit our community of members and their investments in Vietnam. We continue to assist our members to access the Vietnamese market by sharing our experience, knowledge, and connections.
Patrick Downey – Manager, Harrison Assessments Talent Solutions
My recommendation would be for the new government to follow the policies and procedures of the last one. This particularly applies to the COVID-19 pandemic which has been the most adverse event to happen to the world for many years but the past government did a very good job in handling it and keeping it under reasonable control. This needs to continue until it is truly eliminated.
Our business with the Success Software entity is focused via our Harrison Assessments Talent Solutions distributorship on assisting companies to recruit, develop, and also train personnel to maximise productivity, professionalism, and results.
However, with many organisations reducing staff and business functions because of the adverse effect of COVID-19, the negative reaction has not only been detrimental to them but has seriously and adversely effected our business. Here’s to the end of the COVID-19 pandemic and a bright and prosperous future for all.
Kenneth Atkinson – Senior board member, British Chamber of Commerce Vietnam
We would like to congratulate Vietnam on its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, as all our members have been very grateful for Vietnam’s swift action and successful containment of community spread and all have considered themselves lucky to be in Vietnam.
As one of the oldest business chambers in Vietnam, it is especially pleasing to see the growth of Vietnam’s engagement with the international community and its success in the chairmanship of ASEAN in 2020 and election as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council in 2019, as well as the second tenure as council president during the 2020-2021 period.
These efforts help Vietnam attract continuing high levels of foreign investment and should continue to do so going forward. In 2020, we also celebrated the 10th anniversary of the United Kingdom’s strategic partnership with Vietnam and conclusion of negotiations of the UK-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement. This maintains the tariff reductions on trade gained as part of the EU-Vietnam deal and also improves market access for UK companies.
Our business centre, which supports trade and investment between our two countries, has already seen an increase in enquiries from the UK, and we have seen a significant increase in trade flows in the first quarter of 2020.
We look forward to continuing our engagement with Vietnamese authorities and companies and also to assisting in the growth of UK trade and investment.
Aleksandrs Parfjonovs – Head of Vietnam Operations, Grindeks JSC
Generally, compared with all other countries, Vietnam has handled the COVID-19 situation amazingly, as currently in Europe the pandemic is increasing and it has huge impacts on businesses. For example, most of our head office employees must work from home.
As for the new government, we have a new health minister who supported a very important law for the pharmaceutical industry and currently our business in Vietnam is actually growing because we can supply more high-quality medicines to the patients, despite COVID-19.
I think the Vietnamese government is doing a good job and needs more support to implement the EVFTA, as this new policy was extremely difficult to achieve, but is even more difficult to implement. I personally hope that the vaccination plan will be implemented faster and the government will open borders, especially for foreign experts who are vaccinated to move without quarantine. However, this is a global challenge which every country is working hard to resolve.
Greg Ohan – CEO and co-pioneer, The Sentry Vietnam
We have been very fortunate as the government has taken many effective measures to minimise the negative impact of COVID-19. Vietnam learned and drew from its experience in dealing with the SARS virus in 2003. Suspending flights immediately and restricting visas and visitors to contain the spread of the pandemic appears to have paid off.
As the number of cases began to drop, gradually lifting social isolation measures and reopening the economy allowed businesses to resume. This has maintained a positive environment for business and set the global spotlight on Vietnam.
Like other organisations, we have stepped up to the challenge, having to adapt our business to both protect our employees and to continue serving our customers and communities.
Business-model innovation was a key differentiator for our firm during the pandemic. New digital experiences and services in response to changes in customer behaviours and needs, in addition to new strategic partnerships, allowed us to be more resilient.
As a result of Vietnam’s policy, we have gained an advantage of resiliency compared to others. While normal business operations will never be the same, thanks to Vietnam’s recovery, both domestic and international investors are increasingly looking to Vietnam.
K. M. Leong – General manager, Southeast Asia, Xiaomi International
Despite COVID-19, the explosion of digital transformation and new platforms has been creating so many opportunities for corporations of all sizes.
During this uncertain time, technology is the key to opening opportunities for growth, enhancing operations, improving customer experience, and creating new business models. In these changed circumstances, digital transformation would have a bigger effect, enabling enterprises to play a critical role in shaping new realities to support the local market.
Xiaomi understands that digital transformation is a long-term process. Xiaomi achieved amazing results across all segments in 2020, and we will keep investing in research and development and support the local market in alignment with the government’s directions.
Katsuhiko Usui – General director, Sapporo Vietnam
Vietnam has made great efforts which and achieved great development in economic and social aspects. According to statistics, by the end of 2020, Vietnam’s economy has a scale of about $343 billion, ranking in the top 40 largest economies in the world and fourth in ASEAN.
In addition, Vietnam is the only Southeast Asian country to achieve five UN action targets, with groups of measures to reduce CO2 emissions, promote renewable energy, and enhance resilience to climate change. Efforts in many aspects have helped Vietnam’s national brand value reach $319 billion in 2020, ranking 33rd in the world.
We believe that Vietnam will continue to be one of the most attractive long-term destinations.
Sapporo Vietnam has been operating in this market for 10 years, and we will continue to bring new and unique experiences to Vietnamese consumers, thereby becoming an essential brand in Vietnam.