|Foreign-invested enterprises are ramping up COVID-19 prevention measures, no matter where they are. Photo: Duc Thanh |
Global personal protective equipment producer 3M is expected to announce in June the launch of its new disposable KF94 respirator – the 3M Particulate Respirator 9013 – designed to seal to the face allowing air to go through the filter, not around the outside edge of the respirator.
The product marks 3M’s move to diversify its portfolio in Vietnam in order to meet market demands amid the serious development of COVID-19.
In late 2020 as part of 3M’s strategy to drive superior operational excellence and efficiencies amid the development of the global health crisis, the company announced closing the 3M Vietnam manufacturing facility located in Long Thanh Industrial Zone (IZ) in the southern province of Dong Nai after four years of operation, moving manufacturing to other locations.
Similarly, while taking measures to protect their workers, Carlsberg Vietnam is now looking not only to survive but thrive in the new economic environment, through flexible fixes and workarounds, as the prolonged pandemic and the recent re-emergence in Vietnam are posing significant challenges to all economic stakeholders. Carlsberg Vietnam’s brewery is located in Phu Bai IZ of the central province of Thua Thien-Hue.
Nathaniel Moxom, managing director of Carlsberg Vietnam, told VIR, “Since the pandemic has emerged, our top priority has been safeguarding the health and wellbeing of our employees – also a way to ensure the continuity of our business. We are also extending support to our customers and the community where we operate, accompanying them in the fight against the pandemic.”
“In terms of business, we believe this is high time for us to optimise our operations and brew another long-term strategy for the new normal,” he added. “With this achievement at the peak of the pandemic last year, we are optimistic about our prospects this year, especially after the positive results of the first quarter and forecasts that Vietnam’s overall economic growth rate would be around an impressive 6 per cent this year.”
3M and Carlsberg Vietnam are located outside the most risky areas as it stands. However, they are still on high alert with different scenarios because COVID-19 remains at large in Vietnam. Moxom noted, “Carlsberg Vietnam remains prepared for the outbreak turning for the worse with emergency measures ready to be deployed without any hesitation to ensure the health of our business and stable employment for our people.”
Their preparations are in line with the Vietnamese government’s drastic determination and strict measures to accelerate the localisation of high-risk areas, tracing, taking samples, and testing those coming into contact with infected people, while strictly taking prevention measures regarding facemasks, disinfection, distancing, social gathering, and health declarations so as to protect all people and ensure the continuation of production and the local supply chains.
This approach is not unique to 3M and Carlsberg Vietnam, but is also shared by other foreign-invested enterprises (FIEs), including those from Europe. COVID-19 is present in around 30 cities and provinces across Vietnam, hitting many IZs in the northern provinces of Bac Giang and Bac Ninh and the central city of Danang, causing the enforcement of lockdown and social distancing measures. FIEs affected include South Korea’s Hosiden Vietnam, Samsung Electronics Vietnam, Johnson Health Vietnam, and Canon Vietnam, among others.
The country has been one of the international success stories of handling the global health crisis throughout the past year and more, protecting both lives and livelihoods through swift public health measures and effective economic support.
The European Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam (EuroCham) has highlighted the government’s continued measures to contain the spread of the virus and to protect the health of citizens would boost foreign direct investment and trade, as well as accelerate Vietnam’s economic recovery.
FIEs and European companies are pinning high hopes on the vaccine rollout in Vietnam, which they expect will soon accelerate through the mass vaccination programme already underway, with over one million people already vaccinated.
Alain Cany, chairman of EuroCham said “We encourage the government to allow more European business leaders to travel here as long as they have been vaccinated and can show proof, such as with the EU’s proposed ‘digital green certificate’ – with reduced quarantine requirements.”
The Ministry of Health said it has signed agreements to procure 110 million doses of vaccines. They include 31 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which will arrive in the third and fourth quarters, 38.9 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine provided through the global mechanism COVAX, 30 million doses of AstraZeneca through a deal signed by Vietnam Vaccine JSC, and 10 million additional doses through COVAX under a cost-sharing scheme.
Like Carlsberg Vietnam and many other FIEs, European companies have also been preparing plans to boost their footprint further in Vietnam, as they now have privileged access to the Vietnamese market, thanks to the recent implementation of the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement.