Harry Loh - CEO, UOB Vietnam
Vietnam nowadays is very different from when I was here on assignment in the late 1990s, at a time when UOB was one of the early banks to be set up here.
The country’s economy has developed and improved by leaps and bounds as what could be observed from the numerous high-rise buildings, the increases number of cars, and the significant influx of foreign investors.
I recall that there was no Internet during the 1990s, but now almost every Vietnamese can be connected to the world through their mobiles. I think Vietnam is changing very fast and people enjoy the benefits from foreign direct investment and stability.
We are very positive and upbeat about Vietnam’s economic future. UOB will continue to play our part to facilitate cross-border trade between Vietnam and the region, and provide connectivity and facilitating investment flows into the country as well as support Vietnamese companies to expand overseas.
David Pan - General manager TCL Smart Device Vietnam
As a country in Southeast Asia which is currently one of the fastest-growing regions in the world, Vietnam possesses advantages in location, technology, and many other fields. Over the years, Vietnam’s economy has maintained fast growth and GDP, and economic openness has also increased.
Aiming to be a modern industrial country, Vietnam has paid attention to the building of a sustainable and high-quality economic model. With clear development directions, Vietnam is an interesting destination for international investors, including many Chinese investors and businesses.
Besides this, the Vietnamese government has continuously issued preferential policies which have been a magnet for such businesses to invest and develop.
Operating in Vietnam for over 20 years, TCL has received great support from the government. However, Vietnam still needs to improve in terms of traffic, and importing tax should be lower.
The import tax of some materials should be 5 per cent lower, in my opinion. With the hope to contribute to development of Vietnam’s economy, we are building a 73,000 square metre factory in the southern province of Binh Duong to expand our scale.
We will invest in technology to produce high-quality products and, with this factory, we will promote products exported to Europe.
Nguyen Ba Luan - Country president Cargill Vietnam
After 24 years in Vietnam, Cargill is today among the established and key foreign-invested players in the local agri-business industry.
What keeps us in a strong position for growth and success in Vietnam is our customer focus strategy: our tremendous efforts to enhance animal nutrition and farm management capabilities for farmers to create a better living for them; our people development strategies with an increasing focus on building local leaders; and our commitment to enriching local communities.
Vietnam is an exciting market and will continue to be a key market for Cargill as the country is in the process of reinvigorating its growth potential, not only in terms of quantity but most importantly in terms of quality and sustainability of growth. This is essential for Vietnam to realise its aspiration of becoming a successful upper middle-income country.
Because of this, Cargill will continue to invest in Vietnam and our people, in helping farmers to be more efficient, more productive, and to grow their business. This in turn allows us to grow together with them as a trusted partner who can bring to Vietnam our global expertise, know-how, and supply chain capabilities.
Alain Cany - Country chairman Jardine Matheson Vietnam
Vietnam has managed its economy well in the last three decades and the driving force of its economic success has been the export-oriented manufacturing FDI.
Located within the most dynamic geographical part of the continent, coupled with political and social stability, the Vietnamese government has built a close relationship with the foreign investor community.
As a long-term investor in Vietnam, we have seen how the country has transformed itself, from a closed economy to one of the most dynamic emerging countries in Southeast Asia. Jardine group have made investments in many sectors in Vietnam and we will continue to look for new opportunities to materialise our commitments to the development of Vietnam.
We believe foreign investors will continue to play a central role for the next phase of development, as they can help bring capital and expertise that are needed to build new infrastructure, which are key to maintain the country’s competitive edge and to ensure that Vietnam is among the best destinations for investment.
We have seen labour-intensive manufacturing dominating foreign-invested enterprises during the past decades. Now we think Vietnam must attract environmentally-sustainable industries and high-quality technologies, because we believe the country possesses a high-quality workforce that could integrate well into global economy.
Reforms need to be continued, and equitisation of state-owned enterprises must be accelerated to make Vietnam a friendly destination for foreign investors.
Guido Romagnoli - Director and founder Inxtead Consulting
Inxtead Consulting has been present in the central province of Danang since 2017 with the mission to coach Vietnamese executives, entrepreneurs, and university students so as to improve the soft skills necessary for the success of their companies and future startup businesses. We also support international companies to effectively enter the Vietnamese market and partner with local organisations.
I was personally impressed with Vietnam’s progress in critical areas like infrastructure development for the promotion of mobility, logistics, connectivity, and education, including investment in incubators for small businesses that also helped the startup of our company.
These past achievements in infrastructure and in people development will be the base for even brighter future successes for Vietnam in the areas of tourism, smart cities, e-government, Industry 4.0, environmental care, and the circular economy.
Kenneth Matkinson - Founder and senior board adviser Grant Thornton Vietnam
When you look back over the last 30 years, there has been amazing change in the quality and quantity of FDI into Vietnam and with the regulatory environment.
From humble beginnings when early investors were a mixture of large multinational companies, we can fast-forward to today and Vietnam is achieving relatively high levels of FDI that most developing countries would be envious of. It is preparing for the next generation for FDI with higher technology and higher value addition, in line with Industry 4.0.
The pace of economic development has certainly surpassed my expectations from 30 years ago. Especially in the last six to eight years, the economic fundamentals for Vietnam remain strong and compelling, aside from any major external shocks caused by the trade war between the US and China.
The quality of FDI on the whole has improved significantly in recent years both in terms of commitments and more importantly in disbursed capital.
To attract high-qualified FDI, the government should continue to focus on reducing red tape and bureaucracy, and cutting the time both domestic and foreign investors have to spend on compliance. It must also drive to increase transparency and reduce the hidden costs of business.
Ywert Visser - International sales manager Paul Mueller Company
The development of Vietnam in the last decade has been incredible. When I came to Vietnam, travelling from Hanoi to Haiphong would take half a day. Now you can do it in under 1.5 hours. There is an amazing choice of shopping malls and the 4G on my mobile phone is faster and cheaper than in my home country.
I am very positive about the future development of Vietnam, and I believe that it is set up for long-term growth. Vietnam has signed many advanced trade agreements with the worlds’ biggest economies, and it also is working on development of infrastructure, such as new ports, industrial zones, roads, and airports. This will help Vietnam’s long-term integration into the global supply chain.
I am especially happy with the decision of the Vietnamese government to focus on sustainable development and attracting sustainable FDI. Companies that use clean, efficient, modern production technologies and provide a safe work environment are welcome, while those that want to build new factories with outdated or polluting technologies are blocked.
In August the Party Central Committee issued Resolution 50-NQ/TW on orientations to perfect mechanisms and policies, and raise the quality and efficiency of foreign investment by 2030. It is an important step in creating a framework to evaluate the quality of new investment projects.
Matthijs van - den Broek Board member Dutch Business Association Vietnam
Vietnam’s economy is thriving. As manufacturers already began shifting operations away from China to cheaper locations such as Vietnam for a number of years, the trade conflict between the world’s superpowers is merely accelerating this shift.
Ideally located, with a stable political climate and a young hardworking and entrepreneurial population, Vietnam is poised to be the new powerhouse in Southeast Asia.
The recently concluded EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement, dubbed the most ambitious the EU has ever concluded with a developing country, will remove 99 per cent of trade tariffs between the EU and Vietnam and will see their current trade value of around $56 billion increase substantially over the years.
A growing middle-class, combined with a gradually improving playing field for foreign companies, makes Vietnam an attractive destination not only for manufacturers, but also for overseas consumer products with plans to enter the market.
Vietnam is on the right track economically, for sure, but also socially; poverty is being reduced dramatically; development beyond Hanoi, Haiphong, Ho Chi Minh City, and Danang features prominently on investors’ agendas; and renewable energy is now considered a serious option by the government.