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|Market Focus Vietnam webinar|
Le Linh Lan, Ambassador of Vietnam to Switzerland and Liechtenstein, said at a Market Focus Vietnam webinar last week that Swiss investors with comparative advantages and strengths in tech, innovation, capital, and expertise in finance, pharmaceuticals, and food manufacturing will look more to Vietnam as a safe and attractive destination for doing business in a post-pandemic world.
“In addition, there is still potential in areas of trade and investment given the complementary nature of the two economies,” Lan added.
Switzerland, as a member of the European Free Trade Area, has been in negotiation with Vietnam for a far-reaching free trade agreement (FTA) since 2012.
“Negotiations between Vietnam and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) have completed their 16th round,” Lan said. “We are hopeful about the possibility of the conclusion of the trade deal especially this year, when we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two economies. An early conclusion of the FTA between Vietnam and the EFTA will give a big boost to economic and trade relations.”
With forthcoming conclusion of the FTA, Swiss companies can enjoy similar benefits as their EU peers under the provisions of the EU-Vietnam agreements, which entered into force last year.
Indeed, more Swiss businesses are exploring investments in Vietnam. Last November, a group of Swiss and German investors paid a working visit to Vietnam. Former German Vice Chancellor Philipp Rösler led the delegation, meeting with Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and leaders of a number of ministries. Business leaders decided to invest $350 million in the healthcare sector, tech start-ups, and notably a tourist resort in the southern island of Phu Quoc.
Last week, the non-profit Swiss Vietnamese Business Gateway (SVBG) also made its official debut to promote investment and trade cooperation between Swiss and Vietnamese companies. The SVBG, founded by Vietnamese expatriates in Switzerland, will pave the way for more Swiss investors to join the market by providing updated information and legal consultations and guidance, as well as introducing quality human resources.
Swiss companies such as Nestlé, Roche, Holcim, and Schindler were among the first to set foot in Vietnam when the country opened up its economy in the 1990s. Today, more than 100 Swiss companies are operating in Vietnam. As of February 20, Switzerland is the 21st biggest investor in Vietnam with the total investment capital of around $1.77 billion.
Will Mackereth, supply chain director of Nestlé Vietnam said, “At the moment, 80 per cent of Nestlé products made in Vietnam is for domestic sale while 20 per cent goes to export. The success of the business in both the domestic market and export gives us a lot of optimism that we should see continued investment in Vietnam in both areas.”
Meanwhile, Axel Armellin-Nguyen, co-founder of The Happy Turtle Straw, explained why Vietnam is an ideal hub for foreign startups including those from Switzerland. Vietnam is one of the most dynamic countries with the growing trend of innovation and fintech solutions. The government is very supportive of innovation by offering many incentives like tax relief and providing facilities for startups.
The Happy Turtle Straw is now focusing on a green tech model by developing better biodegradable straws in Vietnam. Using sustainable potato and cassava starches in a process that’s 100-per-cent free of harmful chemicals, as well as being completely vegan and gluten-free, the company’s plant-based drinking straws are already making all the difference. Its straws have been used in assisting natural preservation initiatives in Vietnam caring for sea turtles, as well as making drinking water safer in Lebanon.