Swedish Trade Council sees increased interest in Vietnam

The Swedish Trade Council in Ho Chi Minh City sees an increased interest in Vietnam from Swedish companies. To meet the demand STC will deploy more resources to consulting activities.
“Companies that are taking a closer look at Vietnam are often companies that have adapted the China plus one strategy, meaning that they do business in China but want to add one more country to reduce the risks. We want to be the plus one.”, Håkan Ottosson, Head of Vietnam Office, said when ScandAsia met him on a business trip in Kuala Lumpur.
He believes one explanation for the increased interest is that Vietnam in January 2007 became a member of the World Trade Organization and now is more integrated into the international business community.
Håkan Ottosson has been living in Vietnam since 1992 when he arrived to study Vietnamese in Hanoi. He became involved in setting up the Swedish appliance company Electrolux’s first show room in Hanoi and stayed with the company for 12 years. In late 2005 he joined the Swedish Trade Council as Head of their Vietnam office in Ho Chi Minh City.
As in most other Asian countries the key element to be successful in Vietnam is to find the right business partner. A mistake can be costly.
“The market is like a large minefield, if you don’t step on one it can be an enjoyable stroll.”, he says.
The shipyard industry is one area where he sees interesting business opportunities for Swedish subcontractors. Another is manufacturing where costs still are very competitive. Worth to note is that Ikea is one of Vietnam’s largest exporters.
Ericsson, Tetra Pak, SKF and Atlas Copco are some of the other currently around 70 Swedish companies in Vietnam. But Vietnam’s importance as a trading partner for Sweden is still limited even compared with other Southeast Asian countries. As an example Swedish exports to Malaysia are more than three times larger.
The STC is jointly owned by the Swedish government and the Swedish trade industry. One important task given and financed by the government is to provide at no cost information about exports and international trade. Consulting activities and business development are other areas where STC provide services for a fee.

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