Vietnam a gateway to Asia-Pacific market for Zamil Steel

September 12, 2022 | 17:10
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Foreign direct investment inflows are set to increase as Vietnam rises as a new global manufacturing hub. Zamil Industrial Investment Company and Zamil Steel in Vietnam have a long-term vision for the country. Zamil Steel Holding Company’s president Nawaf Al Zamil shared the company’s vision with VIR's Thanh Van.
Vietnam a gateway to Asia-Pacific market for Zamil Steel
Nawaf Al Zamil, president of Zamil Steel Holding Company

Zamil Steel is one of the largest foreign-invested enterprises in Vietnam’s steel structure industry. How has a Saudi multinational become a pioneer in investing in Vietnam?

As an integral part of Zamil Industrial Investment Company, Zamil Steel has been engaged in the design, fabrication, and erection of steel structures since 1977.

Zamil Steel owns a global system of 11 modern factories, eight engineering offices with thousands of engineers across the Middle East, Asia, and Africa, and 53 representative offices worldwide.

In the early nineties, the expansion of the steel structure sector into the Asia-Pacific market was one of the critical strategic development plans of Zamil Steel. At that time, Vietnam had just entered the doi moi period, and the Vietnamese construction industry still relied heavily on traditional building materials.

“Pre-engineered steel building” was a new product with many outstanding advantages that we believed would facilitate the development of the Vietnamese construction industry and the national economy, and that’s why we decided to invest in Vietnam.

In 1997, we were the first and only Saudi Arabian group to invest in Vietnam. The extensive support from the governments of both Vietnam and Saudi Arabia, along with initial successes, encouraged us to expand production and business activities.

Vietnam a gateway to Asia-Pacific market for Zamil Steel
A project supplied by Zamil Steel Buildings Vietnam Co., Ltd

What advantages and disadvantages did Zamil Steel face when investing in Vietnam?

First, we would like to thank the Vietnamese government, the government of Saudi Arabia, and relevant ministries and agencies for improving the investment environment and removing obstacles to create the most favourable conditions for the operation of foreign-invested enterprises over the past 25 years.

Even recently, the support we received during the COVID-19 pandemic was outstanding. With the positive direction and support of the governments of both sides, Zamil Steel Vietnam (ZSV) has risen to become one of the leading steel structure suppliers in Vietnam and Southeast Asia.

With a growing economy, Vietnam is witnessing an increasing inflow of foreign direct investment in many fields. Accordingly, the need to construct a proper infrastructure system in line with the development strategy of the localities is an unprecedented opportunity for businesses like ZSV.

In addition, Vietnam is rich in cultural heritage, abundant in natural resources, and possesses a young, hard-working, and progressive workforce. These factors have enabled ZSV to do business while harmonising its corporate culture with local standards and creating added value ​​for our stakeholders.

On the other hand, like any other business in the same industry, ZSV also faces challenges in maintaining efficiency and managing risk due to numerous external factors such as rising raw material prices, supply chain disruptions, short-term labour shortages, or project delays. To tackle these challenges and improve competitiveness, quick information processes, reducing production costs, or supporting customers to find optimal solutions in terms of price and budget have become solutions to maintain sustainable growth.

After 25 in Vietnam, how does Zamil Steel’s long-term vision help achieve sustainable growth in the market?

When exporting the first steel buildings to Vietnam in 1993, Zamil Steel had foreseen the development of Vietnam’s construction industry over the coming decades. We wanted to bring a new type of product with flexible application in construction to Vietnam while still ensuring safety and architectural standards.

To our expectation, the country quickly absorbed the concept of “pre-engineered steel buildings,” and this product was soon widely applied in industrial construction. After ZSV’s first factory was established in Hanoi in 1997, the concepts of a “Zamil house” (nha zamil) or “Zamil frame” (khung keo zamil) became very popular in the local community of engineers and contractors.

The vision of Zamil Industrial Investment Company and Zamil Steel in Vietnam is long-term, and we have always considered Vietnam as the gateway to the Asia-Pacific market. Over the years, we have paid great attention to brand growth in this market, and we are pleased that our customers recognise our products and services.

Today, ZSV has affirmed its position as the leading manufacturer and supplier of steel structures in Vietnam and Southeast Asia. We own two modern factories with a total capacity of up to 120,000 tonnes of steel buildings per year, a team of nearly 1,100 engineers and employees, and 13 representative offices in Southeast Asia and Bangladesh.

ZSV has supplied more than 7,000 projects to customers worldwide. Our projects span the Asia-Pacific region: from Sri Lanka and Bangladesh to Southeast Asia, Australia, the United States, Japan, and remote areas such as the Fiji Islands, Mongolia, and Mauritius.

These achievements have demonstrated Zamil Steel’s strategic vision for 25 years, and we hope to continue those successes for many decades.

Could you share the company's plan for the next phase of development in Vietnam?

The global vision of Zamil Steel has remained unchanged over the past 25 years: “To be the world’s most reliable and innovative manufacturer, service, and solution provider in the steel industry.” We will continue our mission in the next stage of development in Vietnam.

We will continue to provide high-quality steel building products and excellent services and solutions to customers worldwide. We already have plans to invest significantly in digitalisation and Industry 4.0 initiatives to deliver high-quality, innovative products and solutions to our customers.

We will also utilise innovative technologies within an environment of motivated employees, focused on continuous improvement, the highest business standards, work ethics, and corporate citizenship, leading to added value for our customers and a sustained return on investment for our shareholders.

As a 100 per cent Saudi Arabian-invested enterprise in Vietnam and one of the largest steel structure suppliers in Southeast Asia, we hope to accompany the development of the ASEAN region and create greater value in the future.

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By Thanh Van

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