Mexico format fine tuned in Vietnam

King Carl XVI Gustaf brought with him to Vietnam the largest business delegation ever at any Swedish state visit.
     It was a diversified gathering of people from all sectors of Swedish industry who met with Vietnamese counterparts in sector specific seminars, followed by a joint meeting where representatives from all sectors reported on the outcome to the king.
     First in Hanoi, then repeated in Ho Chi Minh City.
     “We launched this format in Mexico and have fine tuned it ever since,” explains Ulf Dinkelspiel, president of the Swedish Trade Council.
     The focus is on knowledge sharing and discussions and not much at all on hard selling, even if that too took place now and then in the corridors outside the assembly hall.
     “They are really going for it,” says Urban Doverholt, CEO of Enlight.”A guy pulled my sleeve and drew me away to sit down and talk business.”
     Vietnam has purchased a computerised driving license testing system from Enlight, used nationwide, and other solutions from the company are apparently attractive for the Vietnamese as well.
     “Asia is our next growth market as I see it,” says Sven Mattsson, CEO of the Swedish cosmetics firm Oriflame.”It represents only five percent of our global turnover today.”
     Oriflame opened its Vietnam operation in September 2003. All forecasts were soon overtaken by a larger and faster growth than anyone in the company had predicted.
     “I am looking at China as the next step,” says Sven Mattsson.”Entering China is a huge commitment and local manufacturing is a precondition.”
     Sven Mattsson is not worried about the red tape encountered in Vietnam and elsewhere in Asia.
     “We are used to work in ‘difficult’ countries.”
     That can also be said about the mobile operations units in Kinnevik, the holding group that maintains all assets controlled by the Stenbeck family, today headed by Cristina Stenbeck who took over after her father Jan passed away 2002.
     Their Vietnam unit is Comvik International Vietnam AB, which together with Vietnam Mobile Services (VMS) runs the Mobifone network in Vietnam since July 1995.
     And on 4 February they signed a MOU with VMS to extend this cooperation for the long term.
     “It has been a tremendously good experience,” concluded Ulf Dinkelspiel after the Hanoi seminars were rounded off. “Several important contacts have been made. Vietnam is not yet a large market money wise but our trade is growing rapidly and the prospects for more business are good.”
     Just polite and courteous optimism? Maybe, but fact is that Vietnam has for the past two years been Sweden’s best market in Asean, measured in growth terms.
     No other nation in Asean is even close to the double digit export and import growth, thus benefiting both nations, recorded between Vietnam and Sweden during 2002 and 2003.

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