Americans dreaming of new ventures

March 31, 2023 | 14:00
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The arrival of some of the largest American companies to Vietnam last week has cracked open new potential for investing opportunities in a range of areas.
Americans dreaming of new ventures
Americans dreaming of new ventures, illustration photo

Last week, representatives of businesses from the US-ASEAN Business Council (USABC) came to Vietnam in bigger numbers than ever before, with 52 enterprises looking at ways to get involved in industries from healthcare and aerospace to the digital economy and e-commerce.

Some of the biggest names included traditional companies such as Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Boeing, FedEx, and Ford, along with newer groups like Netflix, Meta, SpaceX, and Amazon. Pharma was also widely represented through the likes of Novartis, Pfizer, Viatris, and Abbott.

Abbott, Viatris, and MSD are paying attention to the distribution rights of pharmaceutical enterprises, as well as the mechanism of bidding for medical equipment, with the expectation of Vietnam perhaps becoming a medical tourism destination in the future. Elsewhere, SpaceX is interested in providing high-speed and low-latency broadband services to Vietnam and the region, while Meta is looking at the digital transformation strategies of the country to see where it can possibly get involved.

Last week also witnessed a meeting between the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI) and the USABC delegation.

“The US business community maintains very high confidence in growth prospects and stewardship of the economy,” said Ted Osius, former US Ambassador to Vietnam and current president and CEO of the USABC. “The fact that all of these companies are here looking for opportunities is a sign of the significance of the opportunities, with last year’s trade turnover hitting $138 billion and Vietnam becoming the eighth-largest trading partner of the US.”

Osius also said that the US companies are looking for opportunities in the digital and green transformation as Vietnam hopes to meet net-zero commitments by 2050, which is opening up new promising land for foreign backers. The two governments have already been strengthening bilateral cooperation and investment so that Vietnam will be able to lead in green economy and technology in the region.

Talking to the MPI, Rafael Frankel, director of Public Policy in Southeast and South Asia for Meta, said that Vietnam is an innovative economy with an open internet network, impressive growth, and a team of adaptable and hard-working personnel. “We have been training 20,000 small- and medium-sized enterprises in Vietnam to boost their ability to compete in this digital economy. I hope to continue cooperating to support these enterprises during digital transformation, and even in going global,” said Frankel.

Ee-Hui Tan, CEO of FedEx Vietnam and Cambodia, said, “Vietnam is strategically located, with more than 6.5 million packages shipped to and from 172 destinations daily. However, we are still looking to expand our network by adding more flights. At the same time, we want to invest in the infrastructure here, especially Long Thanh International Airport.”

The strengths of US investors are also developing trends over the world, including in Vietnam. Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyen Chi Dung said that Vietnam is transitioning to a green economy, circular economy, and knowledge economy. He proposed that US businesses support Vietnam to level up the economy in these areas and enhance the competitiveness of the country and its companies. The minister also asked the USABC delegation to look carefully at green energy, digital economy, healthcare, and semiconductors.

Minister Dung suggested that US aerospace manufacturers, including Boeing, enable Vietnam to become an aviation repair and maintenance hub, while further suggesting that groups such as investment company KKR look at state-owned enterprises, with Vietnam keen to strengthen restructuring and equitisation.

“Developing Ho Chi Minh City to become an international financial centre could open up numerous chances for foreign investors, including financial companies like KKR,” Minister Dung highlighted.

To date, the US has poured over $13 billion into Vietnam. Despite a large amount of investment in Vietnam through third countries, it is still far behind Vietnam’s top investors of South Korea ($81 billion), Singapore ($72 billion), and Japan ($69 billion).

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By Minh Vu

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