10:19 | 03/10/2019 Companies
(VEN) - The British Business Group Vietnam (BBGV) has worked in Vietnam for more than 20 years, helping UK businesses connect effectively with Vietnam.
BBGV Chairman Chris Jeffery spoke to Vietnam Economic News’ Phung My about different activities that undertake to support UK businesses in Vietnam and also contribute to local socioeconomic development.
What are the highlights of BBGV’s presence in Vietnam for more than two decades?
BBGV has been operating in Vietnam now for over 20 years. During this period, we have successfully provided quality services to UK companies based here. This has included a range of briefings, seminars and events. Just last year BBGV organized 63 events, 27 of which were business-oriented and 25 were social, marking a 10 percent improvement upon the previous year. Other highlights include the charity work we have undertaken - the annual fun runs and corporate football competitions. Over recent years, establishing the Business Centre to support companies entering the Vietnamese market and obtaining full consortium membership of the Vietnam Business Forum are major achievements for BBGV.
|Chris Jeffery, BBGV Chairman|
What are Vietnam’s advantages and disadvantages in attracting British investment, given the country’s growing importance in the Southeast Asian region?
Vietnam ranks 69th amongst 190 economies in the latest World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business 2018 rankings. Significant improvements have been made in the area of paying taxes, trading, enforcing contracts, access to credit, and electricity reliability, all of which are support attracting business.
Vietnam still has a young population, many of whom have a growing disposable income. There is a large supply of good labor which together with the gradual liberalization of the economy is attracting investors to Vietnam; Vietnam’s economy has also maintained healthy growth, growing by some seven percent in real terms.
However, transparency and bureaucracy remain two key challenges for foreign businesses working here.
What do you see as likely impacts of Brexit on British businesses here now and in the future?
During the first two months of 2019 the two-way trade between Vietnam and the UK reached US$950 million. Irrespective of the BREXIT outcome we are seeing a significant increase in UK companies doing business in Vietnam. This increase is likely to continue over the coming years. BBGV has also established the British Advocacy Committee comprising of KPMG, Diageo, Dragon Capital, HSBC, Standard Chartered Bank, Prudential and Jardines to support the profile and potential for UK companies in Vietnam.
What are the areas or sectors that British firms are likely to be most interested in Vietnam in the years to come? Education remains a high priority service sector for UK companies in Vietnam. This is very likely to continue due to the demand across the country. Other sectors we see likely to develop include technology and renewable energy. The demand for renewable energy is a relative new sector but it is showing large demand already. Currently, machinery and pharmaceutical products are the top two UK exports to Vietnam and electrical and footwear products are the top two products exported from Vietnam to the UK. This is also likely to continue for a while.
What message would you give British companies interested in Vietnam?
Firstly, we encourage companies to come and visit Vietnam for themselves. The potential is clear to see even from a short visit. Also, Vietnam is still a developing market with big demand but also an established supply in many areas. Doing business face to face is an important factor for UK businesses coming to Vietnam for the first time. Other countries as well as the UK are considering this market we explain to companies that they have to be prepared for strong competition from both domestic and international companies. Good conditions remain in Vietnam and we are clear that companies should take advantage of the current environment.
BBGV is well known for its charity events here. Can you elaborate on some of them?
BBGV and its members have always been active in charitable works and we see this as a very important part of our work. BBGV has raised NET VND1.35 billion for its charity during the past 12 months. The main themes of our charity support are: education, healthcare, wildlife and disability. Our support to various organizations is spread across the country to different provinces in Vietnam.
What are BBGV’s future plans, especially long-term?
BBGV is looking forward to the next 20 years of activity in Vietnam. We want to build from our established activities and see increased trade and investment between the two countries. We will be especially keen to further develop links with the provinces in Vietnam and have established some linkages already.