The Future of Nordic Business Interests in Vietnam

The Nordic business association NordCham organized a meeting on the 28 October at Press Club in Hanoi with the participation of the Nordic Ambassadors and Nordic companies in Vietnam. The purpose of the event was to discuss the future of the Nordic business interests in Vietnam. Around 30 companies participated at the event, which was opened to all Nordic companies in Vietnam.
       At the meeting the Nordic ambassadors each gave their perspective on how the Nordic business interests in Vietnam will develop in the coming years. This was presented by our Danish Ambassador John Nielsen, the Finnish Ambassador Pekka Hyvönen, the Swedish Ambassador Staffan Herrström and the Norwegian Trade Counsellor Kjell Nielsen. Subsequently, relevant questions were raised, demonstrating particular interests and concerns among companies of the Nordic business community.

       The ambassadors agreed on many of the positive aspects of business in Vietnam, among others, political and social stability, a good macro economic situation, high industrial growth rates (14-15% in recent years), good investment climate, a large, relatively well-educated and young workforce, an entrepreneurial spirit, low labour costs (compared to China) and established business networks.
       However, a number of challenges were also mentioned. Vietnam is placed high on TNI’s corruption index, and the ease of establishing a business in Vietnam is still an issue. Inadequate infrastructure is still a highly critical factor influencing the ease of doing business. Other issues mentioned were quality standards, level of education and lack of openness and transparency. A specific issue mentioned by the Nordic community is the uncertainty of copyrights, being an important concern to the IT sector.
       Some of the focus areas of the Nordic embassies for future business in Vietnam, that were mentioned at the meeting, are environment and climate change (cleantech), food processing and promotion, IT development, anti corruption and Corporate Social Responsibility.
       The Danish Ambassador John Nielsen said “Vietnam had started out as being interesting for Danish companies for production (outsourcing) due to low labour costs, but that Vietnam is increasingly becoming interesting as a market due to a fast growing middle class”.
      “However, Vietnam is still lacking behind its competitors in the region as regards know-how and technology. Investment in improving the quality of education and research will be crucial for the further development of the country.” He added.

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