06:00 | 15/12/2021 Cooperation
(VEN) - Established on May 11, 1999, the Swiss Business Association in Vietnam (SBA) is a non-governmental, non-political and non-profit organization run by volunteers. The SBA is proud to have been, since its inception, a key contributor to promoting business, economic, cultural activities and other interests of common concern to the Swiss community which includes not only Swiss but also anyone with ties to and/or interests in Switzerland. SBA Vietnam President Jean-Paul Haessig tells Vietnam Economic News’ Phung Khuu that Vietnam’s unrivaled response to regional and international crises adds to its attraction as a good place to invest and do business.
What are the areas of highest interest for Swiss businesses in Vietnam at present, and what are the sectors likely to attract interest in the future?
Nestlé, Roche, Holcim, and Schindler were among the first to set foot in Vietnam when the country opened its economy in the 1990s. Today, around 140 Swiss companies are operating in Vietnam. As of now, Switzerland is the 19th biggest investor in Vietnam with the total investment capital of US$2.2 billion. Going forward Swiss investors with comparative advantages and strengths in tech, innovation, capital, and expertise in finance, pharmaceuticals, and food manufacturing will look to Vietnam as an attractive destination for doing business in a post-pandemic world.
How has the Covid-19 pandemic affected Vietnam as an investment destination, in your view?
Vietnam’s government response and management of the pandemic has, for the most part, been on point and further strengthened Vietnam’s position as one of the most attractive ASEAN destinations. In addition, Vietnam’s track record in managing its economy and delivering growth every single year since its opening, despite the Asian crisis, Global Financial Crisis, or the pandemic, is unrivalled.
What are the factors that will make Vietnam an ideal destination for Swiss small and medium enterprises (SMEs)?
Vietnam will be ideal for Swiss SMEs that seek competitive advantages like favorable investment policies, a cost-effective and productive labor force, geographic proximity to their major export markets or that see Vietnam as an attractive market for their products or services.
In terms of human resources, are the needs of Swiss companies being met in Vietnam?
While Vietnam offers an abundance of labor resources, the pool of highly qualified and experienced personnel is still thin. Therefore, most FDI investors rely on extensive training (including temporary overseas secondments) of their workforce and thereby develop the requisite skill sets and experience in-house.
Can you comment on Vietnam’s approach to handling the Covid-19 crisis?
The overarching goal of Vietnam’s government is to control the pandemic, given the limited healthcare resources. Businesses understand that this requires sacrifices and a willingness to follow strict measures. At the same time, it is crucial to keep the economy running so that the economic hardships for the general population and the country can be minimized. To achieve this goal, the government has prioritized immunization in the key economic centers and urban areas and significantly ramped up its vaccination roll-out, which has allowed the recent strategic shift to ‘living with Covid-19’.
So you think vaccination is the best way? When do you think the global economy will return to normal?
Vaccination is the only realistic route to achieve normalization, and Vietnam is now well on track to achieve two vaccine doses for 70 percent of the population by the end of 2021. Most countries with high immunization levels have been able to restore normal economic activity over the recent months. However, there are numerous dislocations globally, like the shortages of chip, labor, energy, etc., as also supply chain disruptions that will take time to be resolved and therefore will result in slower growth in 2022.
What about SBA and its future orientation?
The SBA will continue on the same path that has proven to work since inception which is to cooperate with the Swiss Embassy and the General Consulate of Switzerland and to organize events catered to different needs to attract new members.