Vietnam, ideal gate for entry into vast Asian market

(VEN) – Vietnam Economic News’ reporters Nguyen Huong and Hoa Le talked with Michele D’Ercole, President of the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam (ICHAM) on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of Vietnam-Italy diplomatic relations.

Michele D'Ercole, President of the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam (ICHAM)Michele D’Ercole, President of the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam (ICHAM)

How do you assess the growth rate of Vietnam after working here for five years?

I think that the performance of the Vietnam growth rate was very impressive during the last five years due to uncertain global financial situation. The country has had a lot of positive changes in many fields such as infrastructure, banking and luxury market retail. Also the improvement of living standards, a young population of about 90 million and a growing income from exports are all factors for the growth of the local market, but there is still a lot of work to do. The current trend of growth is slower than before and probably will not be faster than five percent unless there is a strong external positive increase of demand or another period of excess liquidity.

What opportunities has the Vietnamese market offered Italian investors? What advantages could they see?

The rapid economic development has led to an acceleration of urbanization and industrialization offering spacious and attractive opportunities for Italian companies wishing to invest and export their products and services.

In addition, one key factor for the Vietnamese market is its political stability. Business Monitor International has ranked Vietnam in 2nd place, along with Hong Kong-China, for its level of political stability.

Another key advantage is the quantity and quality of Vietnamese workforce. Although often lack the technical skills and practices, the average worker is diligent with a strong desire to learn. The population is young, with 60 percent under the age of 30. Beside, wages in Vietnam are relatively cost-competitive.

The pro-business strategy of the Vietnamese people is also manifested by the policies of the government. Vietnam joined the WTO in 2007 and is currently encouraging foreign investment.

Finally, the geographical position of Vietnam is another one of its main assets. It has a long coastline with many ports. The proximity to China and the emerging port capacity give an ideal location for companies seeking to improve the cost-competitiveness of their global supply chains.

How many Italian companies are investing in Vietnam? What successes have they reaped? Which sectors do they want to promote together with their Vietnamese partners?

More than 50 Italian companies are investing in Vietnam including Ariston Thermo, Datalogic, Hung Yen K&D, Microlys, Rino Mastrotto Group, Franco Pacific Vietnam, Viet Y Trading Service, etc.

The feedback about the Italian investment in Vietnam is very positive as no Italian company has closed their activities. They have achieved quite good results in production and quality standards. The logistic location that Vietnam has in Asia gives them a good opportunity to improve their sales in the Asean market and all Asia, because they are very near to final customers. Piaggio and Ariston became household names in Vietnam and some of them have also established their R&D departments here.

Major sectors that we would like to promote for working with Vietnamese companies are automotive, petrol and gas, machineries, IT, food and beverage, banking, insurance, coffee, services, leather ware, textile, furniture, fashion and tourism. These are some sectors of the Italian excellence knowledge and expertise.

Could you tell us about ICHAM’s programs to promote relations between business communities of the two countries in the future especially this year?

ICHAM’s main goal is to promote trade between Italy and Vietnam and to support enterprises from the two countries to make business. From September to November 2012, in cooperation with the Vietnamese Embassy in Italy and the Italian Embassy in Vietnam and with Toscana Promozione, ICHAM opened the first Vietnam Desk in Florence for promoting trade between Tuscany and Vietnam. This May we opened another Vietnam Desk in Bologna thanks to Unioncamere Emilia Romagna.

The office is a reference point where enterprises can find information about the economy in Vietnam, advice and analysis to have a better understanding of the Vietnamese market. Thanks to an innovative approach, Vietnam Desk has received many positive feedbacks.

In 2013 ICHAM will carry out many trade promotion activities between the two countries such as business visits from Umbria region, Uniocamere Emilia Romagna, Pordenone Chamber of Commerce to Vietnam or other business delations the Tutto Food Fair in Milan Lombardia region. Besides this, in March ICHAM organized a business meeting with H.E. Romano Prodi, former Prime Minister of Italy and former President of the EU Council.

This year is very important for the 40 anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries and we plan to take many Italian companies to Vietnam in the remaining months of the year in order for them to seek Vietnamese partners.

Of course we will continue to organize seminars, workshops and networks to promote Italian business in Vietnam and help Vietnamese companies seek new opportunities for selling their products in Italy.

I think that Vietnam is the ideal gate for entry into the vast Asian market and I hope that Italian companies could take this opportunity to be more and more present in one piece of the world where our famous Italian businesses which are known for their creativity, design, technology, quality and know-how are not yet protagonists as they should be./.