Onwards and upwards for business

May 05, 2022 | 00:40
Since last year, Vietnam and plenty of other countries have been clawing and scratching their way out of the pandemic woes thanks to strong vaccination programmes.

Vietnam had the experience of a strong 2020 and 2021 in terms of growth, contrary to nearly every other nation on Earth. Business leaders below discuss how these factors, along with a full reopening of borders, have helped their companies and the wider economy to get back on track.

banyan tree and angsana lang co among top 20 resorts in asia
Laguna Lang Co's Banyan Tree and Angsana are among top 20 resorts in Asia

Glen Cook-Area general manager Laguna Lang Co

Onwards and upwards for business

It has been a challenging time for everyone but we have survived and started the road to recovery with confidence in the future of the industry.

We have been preparing for a new era of travel and the new normal, including the launch of SafeSanctuary, an integrated programme that incorporates assurance and wellbeing standards. Furthermore, apart from the natural beauty and culturally-rich experiences that Lang Co Bay has to offer, we also create unique well-being travel experiences aligned with our brand’s core value by introducing a new villa type – the Wellbeing Pool Villa, featuring a wide range of healthy cuisine, an indulgent travel experience, and impactful healthy practices. We have started recruiting so that we can prepare to provide the high level of services our guests have come to expect. This has its challenges, as many people have left the industry. Banyan Tree launched its wellbeing programme, and we project that personal health has become more important and aim to provide healthy lifestyle choices for travellers.

Stuart Livesey-Vietnam country director Copenhagen Offshore Partners; CEO, La Gan Wind Power Development Corporation

Onwards and upwards for business

Vietnam has undertaken many significant steps forwards as a country in terms of collaborations, industry maturity, and economic advancement. In terms of the renewable energy industry, the commitment to net-zero by the Vietnamese prime minister at COP26 shows that Vietnam also has a key focus on the need for a green transition, and playing its role to counter the effects of climate change created through burning fossil fuels etc.

As one of the most experienced international renewable energy developers, Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners and Copenhagen Offshore Partners, the main developer of the La Gan offshore wind project in Binh Thuan province, believe that with clearly defined open policies and encouragement from the government for renewable energy, we can support Vietnam in reaching and potentially exceeding the green targets and create more value for the community through the investments in offshore wind energy in Vietnam.

We are eager to share knowledge of the offshore industry with ministerial and provincial bodies, and the supply chain to ensure a good maturity of the supporting industry and the necessary actions in supporting the local communities. This is the time for Vietnam to develop sustainably by using new tried and tested technologies from the renewable energy industry to avoid emissions as well as reduce the negative impacts on the environment.

Joseph Perucca-General director, GIVI Vietnam

Onwards and upwards for business

As a responsible company, we try to put foresight at the forefront of our decision and, in a healthy system, this should also be put first before any action at the political level.

Thus, beyond the analytical will and the assessment of any situation, I hope that at the beginning of every act, of every decision to be taken in the implementation of economic and social policies by the Vietnamese government, it can always act in accordance with this. What we have experienced in the last year must teach us that even the unexpected can happen and the future is certainly not free from other emergencies.

A policy aiming at the health of foreign companies that operate and invest in foreign countries is always an advantage for the country that welcomes them. Soon we will be united, and as always, in celebrating important goals pursued and achieved by this and other governments in the world, the day of independence and workers are important moments that we want to keep in memory. Independence and work are fundamental conditions for the development and growth of any country, as are welcoming policies and the facilitation of guest companies.

Federico Vasoli-Managing partner dMTV Global

Onwards and upwards for business

Vietnam did remarkably well to curb the pandemic and managed to recover swiftly. The speed and efficacy of the vaccination campaign were extraordinary, and the government coupled this with a number of measures aimed at providing job training and giving loans to businesses, as well as modernising the healthcare and the IT landscapes, physical infrastructures, and the environment.

Even if Vietnam’s economy did grow in 2020 and 2021, these measures are still needed to alleviate the costs of the pandemic from the shoulders of families and businesses and render the system even more resilient for a future that looks very demanding. Vietnam will probably gain even more traction as a manufacturing base to serve regional markets, precisely due to logistics and freight forwarding disruptions, but this requires a few important improvements, such as a leaner legal framework with less paperwork and more certainties and a broader value proposition.

Vietnam is a relatively cheap manufacturing base that slowly expands into higher quality and the fostering of services in the broadest sense. Indeed, the government’s actions, such as the reduction of VAT, make us quite optimistic.

Kinoshita Tadahiro-General director Sojitz Vietnam Co., Ltd.

Onwards and upwards for business

We fully believe that the country will achieve strong growth thanks to the government’s policies to recover the economy. The country has become a destination for multiple supply chain and manufacturing relocations due to strong economic fundamentals.

In 2022, Sojitz focuses on developing a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal and a processing facility for cattle. By leveraging Japanese funding and our competitive advantages in securing LNG supply and engineering service arrangements, Sojitz hopes to contribute to the development of the LNG chain.

We continue to collaborate with Vinamilk in Vinh Phuc province to apply Japanese technical know-how of the integrated production of dairy and meat cows to provide high-quality beef in Vietnam, before exporting them to other Asian countries.

Edwin Tan-Deputy CEO Frasers Property Vietnam

Onwards and upwards for business

Vietnam has strong fundamentals and is in a strong position to overcome these challenges and take advantage of global macro trends.

At present, industry and logistics remain potentially strong segments and asset classes in Vietnam – and also core assets for Frasers Property in Vietnam. We are focused on developing Binh Duong Industrial Park. The first phase of this park, its infrastructure system, has been completed and the construction of the first 40,000 square metres of ready-built factories is expected to be completed by the third quarter. All of the residential units at Q2 Thao Dien are handed over at early of this year.

Occupancy at Melinh Point remained stable even throughout the pandemic, with strong upward rental reversions after the completion of the renovation and upgrades to the building with achieving the prestigious BCA Green Mark Platinum Certification while our newly launched office, Worc@Q2 in D2, has similarly achieved strong sign-ups with inquiries from both foreign and local customers.

Colin Terry-Finance director, INSEE Vietnam

Onwards and upwards for business

Vietnam’s economy after reopening in the first quarter of 2022 has been extremely prosperous and optimistic. Daily traffic has gradually returned to a busy rhythm, construction are also being implemented simultaneously and the service industry group has returned with a strong development speed.

Specifically, according to the report on socioeconomic situation in the first quarter of 2022 of the General Statistics Office, GDP in the first quarter of 2022 increased by 5.03 per cent, in which, the industry and construction sector increased by 6.38 per cent. This is a strong cause for optimism from these positive indicators.

For the construction sector, strong investment in infrastructure development and simultaneous construction of buildings throughout the southern provinces of Vietnam along with the warming of the real estate market has played a huge role in the recovery of the industry in the new normal.

Although in the construction market or in particular the building materials segment, there are some challenges with high input costs, and shortage of production materials, but with a growth rate full of potential of the market this year as well as the coming period will create a great impetus for the development of INSEE in particular and the construction industry in general.

Rahul Shinde-CIO Coca-Cola Vietnam

Onwards and upwards for business

When I first took my assignment in Ho Chi Minh City in 2017, I wasn’t sure how I would adjust to a place where the language and food are so vastly different from where I came from. I was pleasantly surprised by how welcoming and warm the people were.

I immersed myself in this culturally rich, rapidly modernising, and yet charming Vietnam. Being an Indian, I found a lot of similarities in terms of weather, traffic, and even some cultural aspects, but what stands out is the hospitality, gender equality, safety, and willingness to help from all quarters of society.

Working in the emerging tech domain, I got to meet and work with a lot of young, talented, ambitious, and focused individuals and the great resiliency of Vietnamese people that has been known historically is apparent in how they tackle complex challenges in the work environment throughout the country.

The younger generation is immensely talented, well educated, exposed to the global environment, hungry – a great asset to have for any country. I strongly believe the best is yet to come and I have no doubt many Vietnamese individuals and organisations will dominate globally. I am blessed to work, learn, and contribute to this dynamic environment for many years to come.

Patricia Marques-General director Starbucks Vietnam

Onwards and upwards for business

Over 11 years ago, I came to Vietnam and worked for another company for the first 18 months. I have witnessed amazing growth in the years since arriving, from the development of the economy to the way people behave.

I live in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 1 and can’t imagine how, in just a year and a half, the Japanese neighbourhood here has truly become a miniature Tokyo.

I have also witnessed difficult times for both the Vietnamese economy and Starbucks’ business here. Fortunately, things are slowly returning to normal. It’s been a long time since I had the opportunity to return to Hanoi and walk through some of the old streets. I feel very happy when the vitality is gradually returning to this city and daily activities such as people going to the gym become normal again.

I am Peruvian. I have lived in the United States and many other places, but I have never stayed as long as in Vietnam. Because my previous work has been related to internationalisation and integration, I can’t even remember the last time I was in another country for 11 years.

Vietnamese people are very similar to Latin Americans. We, too, sing together until late, and spend plenty of time with all our relatives.

Andrew Ge-Account director ZTE HK Vietnam

Onwards and upwards for business

In 2019, Vietnam is ranked among the top 10 best countries for foreigners to live and work in the world for the first time and I believe that it is a fully justified reputation.

Firstly, Vietnam has a booming economy and welcomes foreign investment as well as foreigners to work in their country. The government created many favourable conditions for expats, such as simple visa requirements. Further, the locals are very nice to foreigners.

They are always willing to help and support. I have many local friends and all of them are amazing. Next, the security in Vietnam, especially in large cities, is stable. Violent crimes are really rare. Finally, I cannot fail to mention the beautiful landscape in Vietnam. From the north to the south, there are quite a lot of overwhelming attractions. For example, Sapa and Ha Giang in the north, Danang and Hue in central Vietnam, and Phu Quoc Island in the south.

There are many other reasons that made me decide to live in Vietnam. Living here for more than three years, I have witnessed many positive changes. The country is becoming more modern and per capita income is getting higher. I believe that Vietnam will turn into a developed country in the near future.

Zachary Jones-Director of Outdoor Education NPX PA

Onwards and upwards for business

Reflecting on the three years my wife and I have lived in Vietnam, there are three things that explain why we have enjoyed our time here: safety, the sense of community, and friendship.

Safety is one of the fundamental components of life that people often take for granted, especially in the case of an expat living in a foreign country. The safety of Vietnam, Hanoi specifically, is one of the foundational things which have shaped our positive experience thus far. One of the great joys of living in Vietnam is the ability to wander down almost any alley and venture to any province with little concern for your safety and security. As a husband, I greatly appreciate living in a city where I do not have to be overly concerned about my wife’s safety when she is having a night out with her friends. Safety and security enable one to feel a sense of stability and peace.

Vietnam also has a strong sense of community, and the people care for their neighbours. Not only have I found this to be true in my own life, but it was also evident during the pandemic. While I watched many people from different nations focus on the rights of the individual, the Vietnamese put the needs of their neighbours, community, and country above themselves. The collective sentiment was not one of “what is best for me” but rather a spirit of “we will get through this together”. This spirit of caring for others permeates through everyday life.

Lastly, what I have come to cherish most are the friendships my wife and I have made over the past couple of years. I have found that once someone is accepted into a community of people as a friend, the friendship is deep and sincere.

These friendships have sustained my wife and me during our time here. We have found people who have walked with us through hardships, shared wonderful moments of joy and laughter, and helped make us feel at home by including us in their families’ holiday celebrations.

David Harrison-Partner, Mayer Brown Vietnam

Onwards and upwards for business

I first came to Ho Chi Minh City as a diplomat in 2003 after studying Vietnamese intensively for six months. I lived in Vietnam for two years back then and after other postings overseas, I resumed practising law in Vietnam in 2007 in Hanoi and moved to Ho Chi Minh City in 2010.

Vietnam is a beautiful country featuring diverse and stunning landscapes with intelligent, friendly, and hard-working people. What impresses me the most from a business standpoint is flexibility and adaptability in a rapidly changing world. Three examples are Vietnam positioning itself as an alternative to China as a production centre in the global supply chain, embracing the digitalisation of banking and payment services on a broad scale both in urban and rural areas, and developing an aggressive transition plan from thermal energy to renewable power and gas. The global community heralded Vietnam’s commitments to combat climate change and energy transitioning at COP26, with the country presenting its goals of phasing out coal power by 2040 and achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

As Vietnam has now re-opened its borders to business travellers and tourists, the country is well poised to resume its strong position in the global supply chain and attract international visitors, a critical component of the economy that has been non-existent for the past two years.

The key investment opportunities for foreign businesses in Vietnam track the three areas I mentioned above. The first area of opportunity is an investment in renewable energy. Vietnam has set high goals and now must ensure that the legal regime is in place to support both merger and acquisition activities and debt financing of renewables projects to realise these ambitions – this starts with finalising the Power Development Plan VIII in a manner that is consistent with Vietnam’s commitments.

The second opportunity is foreign investment in local commercial banks, whether through mergers or debt financing, as commercial banks have an insatiable demand for capital, and a stable and secure local banking system is critical to stability and growth. The third area is foreign investment in digital payment platforms.

Personally, I continue to enjoy living in Vietnam. Mayer Brown as a global law firm has operated in Vietnam since the late 1990s and we look forward to continuing to serve our clients in the market for many years to come.

Alex Crane-Managing director Knight Frank Vietnam

Onwards and upwards for business

Like many foreigners, I came expecting to be here for only a couple of years, but that was in 2011 and I am about to have my 11th anniversary here, so I have outdone my expectations. Still being here, I obviously love Vietnam and it is the people that make it such a wonderful place. Arriving and working here as a new, relatively young foreigner can be daunting, but the Vietnamese are so friendly and welcoming that it very quickly made me feel at home. I enjoy the amazing Vietnamese countryside as much as I do the bustling cities.

Vietnam is famous for its world-class response in handling the pandemic and this has put the country on an amazing foundation for a rebound, which feels like it is happening. Dispersed investment in Q1 was solid at about $4.4 billion and importantly, the index for industrial production is up 7 per cent versus 2021 and almost at 2019 levels.

From a personal standpoint, it is noticeable how many tourists are back, but also in terms of business sentiment, we have been inundated with overseas clients visiting and looking to invest. Through the two weeks of March alone, since the reopening, we had clients visiting with $500 million worth of inquiries for real estate opportunities here.

Having just established the new Knight Frank office in February, I am committed to being here for a long time and I would expect a minimum of another 10 years. We are a joint venture, so being an owner is a whole new game and I had never imagined owning a business in Vietnam, even up until a few years ago.

As for the business itself, we are having great fun growing around our existing client base and assisting new ones. Knight Frank is a huge international firm, but as we are essentially a startup in Vietnam, the expectation is to corner the market in a few key areas that match our expertise and then scale up into a full-service firm over the next few years. It is truly an exciting time.

David Salt-CPO and COO Logivan Technologies

Onwards and upwards for business

The government has successfully made the transition to living with the virus and reopening the economy for the benefit of the Vietnamese. The relaxation of travel restrictions has sent a strong message that Vietnam values international visitors, business, and trade relationships with the world - and we are already seeing the benefits.

Furthermore, the transition has reduced businesses’ costs in dealing with COVID-19. This is a welcome relief at a time when many companies are stretched by rising fuel and commodity prices, helping to mitigate the cost-push inflation that is affecting Vietnamese consumers as well as those of many other countries.

Although the data overwhelmingly shows that the Omicron variant is too infectious to be contained, China has failed to make the transition and continues with strict and futile attempts to contain infections – actions that can only delay and not prevent the inevitable Omicron wave.

Given these major difficulties, we can expect a growing share of any new investments planned in China to be redirected to other suitable markets, and Vietnam remains to be well-positioned to benefit from these capital flows through 2022 and beyond.

Ekkasit Lakkananithiphan-President Dow Vietnam

Onwards and upwards for business

We expect that the Vietnamese economy will strongly rebound in 2022 due to the border reopening for international tourists since mid-March and the bright perspectives in manufacturing, construction, and services. Meanwhile, we also foresee possible headwinds to Vietnam’s growth as commodity prices remain high and the disruption of supply chains could make a wide range of goods, including plastic and chemical materials, surge in the time to come.

Dow is a materials science company and solutions provider. Our strategy and vision is to be the most innovative, customer-centric, inclusive, and sustainable materials science company in the world. This year, we are very excited to celebrate our 125th anniversary, with relentless innovation, growth, and evolution.

Vietnam is one of the key markets for Dow in Southeast Asia. Currently, Dow products are essential inputs to many downstream and supporting industries in Vietnam. Dow envisions becoming a key partner of Vietnam’s economic growth and prosperity for the long term by driving innovations that help enhance competitiveness and sustainability in the country’s industries.

To better serve the customers and provide more innovative and sustainable solutions, we are working on new future investment projects, including the establishment of a research and development centre in the near future.

By VIR team

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