Accelerating Involvement Of American Companies

March 2nd, 2023
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The visit by Vietnamese Prime Miniter Pham Minh Chinh to the United States and his scheduled meeting with President Joseph Biden and business leaders are solid markers of the growing, robust working relationship that exists between the Uinted State and Vietnam.

The two countries have a growing economic relationship. The United State is Vietnam’s largest trading partner by a considerable margin.  Vietnam provides a substantial 4% of US imports.

Iconic American companies such as Intel, Coca Cola and 3M, have a long, comfortable history operating in Vietnam.  But Vietnam’s rapid acceleration on many economic and quasi-economic fronts has persuaded many other companies to commit to Vietnam as a manufacturing base, as a market–and with increased frequency–as a place where new ideas thrive and fresh talent is abundant.  Even during the darkest days of Vietnam’s experience with Covid, 80% of members of the America Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam (AmCham) were either “positive” or “very positive” about Vietnam’s long term prospects.

What has Vietnam done and what must it continue to do to accelerate the involvement of American companies in Vietnam?  Following are some of the messages that the American business community can be expected to share with the Prime Minister Chinh.

  • Vietnam’s push toward adoption of 5G carries many positive effects. It has the potential to move toward a digital economy, maximizing the efficiency of interaction with government and accelerating corporate decisions and response time within the private sector.
  • Vietnam needs to continue to seize opportunities to address the trade imbalance, by, say, increasing its purchase of American agricultural products, American aircraft, American liquefied natural gas products (at the appropriate time) and, where they exist, to phase out state subsidies for exports.
  • There is an acknowledged need for Vietnam and for American employers to prepare Vietnamese technical and executive staff for the rapidly growing economy. However, and in the meantime, it is essential that American companies continue to be allowed to employ their foreign, experienced staff.
  • There is a need for the language of new laws be clear, fair, transparent, predictable and unambiguous in the growing economy. It is obviously important to remove the ambiguity that sometimes exists in legislation so that rules on investment and the regulatory framework are clear.
  • Business believes the government has focused a large and a public effort to uncover and address corruption and manipulation. This creates a level of confidence that the issue is recognized and is being addressed.
  • American investors expect that modern infrastructure to support growth will go hand in hand with cleaner energy, green supply chains and gender opportunity. The government will be applauded for its work and urged to accelerate its efforts.
  • The United State and Vietnam have been partners throughout the pandemic, and US companies are prepared to move this partnership forward by committing to a deeper involvement in healthcare: medical device manufacture, avenues to promote greater healthcare and wellness, and the development and availability of health enhancing drugs and pharmaceuticals.
  • The American community will point to its help to increase the level of education and training of an already talented work force. Cooperation by the American business community is reflected through the focus of AmCham’s Scholarship program and its Women in Engineering program, which together have provided scholarships for over 1,400 students.
  • Vietnam should create the format and accelerate the use of technology sandboxes so that Vietnam can accumulate the necessary experience and to create the right financial and technology framework to encourage world class technology development.
  • In this connection American companies will seek to increase their growing financial support of partnerships with technology startups.

There will be much to talk about and Vietnam will see that many of its goals are shared by the United States and by the American business community.

This article appeared in the Vietnam Investment Review on 11 May 2022.

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