Swiss firms remain upbeat about Vietnam business despite pandemic

10:07 | 13/12/2021 Cooperation

(VEN) - Representatives of Swiss businesses from different industries say that the adverse impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic have not dimmed their optimism about growth prospects in Vietnam.

swiss firms remain upbeat about vietnam business despite pandemic
Vu Huy Ta, General Director of Schindler Vietnam

Vu Huy Ta, General Director of Schindler Vietnam

Schindler, founded in 1874 in Lucerne, Switzerland, was one of the first foreign-owned elevator companies to start operating in Vietnam, back in 1996. Just two years later, we opened our own factory here, producing brackets, beams and builder’s elevators for both local and export purposes. Schindler Vietnam is headquartered in Ho Chi Minh City with branches in Hanoi, Da Nang and representative offices in Can Tho, Hai Phong and Nha Trang.

Our growth is steadfastly premised on customer service and digital innovation besides investing in and fostering local talents. In 2019, we built a new US$8 million factory in the Hiep Phuoc Industrial Zone. Apart from exports, we have developed new products exclusively for the Vietnamese market. With the growth of Industrial Zones, there are a lot of opportunities for us to expand.

The six months of social distancing has had a major impact on our business plans for this year. However, we have been flexible in our responses, which include: working from home; running our business virtually; and using digital remote-control elevators to keep them running. We are also providing essential services to front-line employees who are in the most hazardous zones, like hospitals, quarantine zones and apartments. Furthermore, we have offered a wide range of compensation and benefits to employees who’ve got infected.

Despite the pandemic, I believe that our industry will bounce back strongly in 2022. We are preparing for sustainable and healthy growth over the next few years, since Vietnam is still in its urbanization phase.

We have proved our strong purpose, commitment and dedication with our 25th year in Vietnam. Vietnam possesses several advantages including a dynamic and emerging market with endless potential. In particular, its economy continues to grow fast with huge support from government policies and an increasingly business friendly environment. I believe Vietnam is one of the top destinations in the ASEAN region for companies with global aspirations.

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swiss firms remain upbeat about vietnam business despite pandemic
Jacobo Perez Polaino, General Manager of Sika Vietnam

Jacobo Perez Polaino, General Manager of Sika Vietnam

Founded in 1993, Sika Vietnam develops rapidly into the market leader for construction chemicals in Vietnam. During those years Sika has been able to open two factories, one in Dong Nai Province in the south and another in Bac Ninh Province in the north. Throughout these years Sika has participated in the most prestigious infrastructure, residential and commercial projects in Vietnam like: Tan Son Nhat Airport, Da Nang Airport, Cat Ba Tunnel, Saigon Center, JW Marriott Hanoi and Landmark 81. Sika Vietnam employees approximately 350 people and is a regional production hub for some key technologies like PVC waterbars and polycarboxilates polymers for concrete admixtures.

Sika Vietnam has been affected from the fourth outbreak of Covid-19 in Vietnam. Our south teams have been unable to visit our customers during the third quarter of the year. Our focus at that time was to secure vaccines for our team and to keep all employees safe. Technology has made possible that the complete office team has worked seamless during the mandatory social distancing. As for our factory team, we implemented “three-on-site” scheme in both factories during more than two months.

We hope that first quarter of 2022 will be a continuation of the rebound of construction that we are witnessing in November and December 2021. We will have of course to consider Tet vacation and other seasonal adjustments.

With its very resilient market proved during last Covid-19 outbreaks, Vietnamese construction industry is expected to deliver a solid growth during the next decade. Infrastructure, mega cities and renewables energies will lead the development.

Despite Covid-19 pandemic, Vietnam remains a very attractive market for Swiss companies like us. Its location in Southeast Asia with access to a large domestic market and surrounded by other emerging markets, places Vietnam as an ideal hub for manufacturing and services industries.

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swiss firms remain upbeat about vietnam business despite pandemic
Anlee Do, Country Manager Vietnam of Lufthansa Group

Anlee Do, Country Manager Vietnam of Lufthansa Group

For the entire Lufthansa Group - including Edelweiss - it was crucial to adapt to the impacts the pandemic has had on aviation. Several measures were taken, including strict cost management towards retaining the competitiveness of the company and its airlines and preparing it for post-pandemic times.

As restrictions become less severe, we see that people are eager to travel, be it for private or business purposes. The more unnecessary travel restrictions are removed in favor of vaccinations, the more airlines like Edelweiss will be able to recover and offer their customers the full range of their services. Governments should continue to strongly encourage vaccinations and keep air travel open instead of imposing travel bans, quarantine restrictions, etc.

The truth is that flying is probably the safest way to travel as the risk of contracting the virus on a flight is extremely low. All Lufthansa Group aircrafts are equipped with state-of-the-art HEPA filters that continuously clean cabin air: all recirculated air is filtered and cleaned of impurities such as dust, bacteria and viruses. This is done to 40 percent of cabin air; 60 percent is added as fresh air from outside the aircraft.

Air travel is essential for connecting people, cultures and economies as well as helping the world recover from the pandemic. Enabling this connection is something the Lufthansa Group and all its airlines pride themselves on. Bilateral trade and tourism are crucial for countries like Vietnam and Switzerland. Therefore, one can say that both Switzerland and Vietnam - a top travel destination in Asia - have benefitted from Edelweiss connecting both countries.

At Edelweiss, we offer premium products focused on leisure. The pandemic and the resultant travel restrictions made tourism untenable and flights have been paused. As soon as the situation normalizes, we will evaluate restarting our routes. The first step would be re-establishing bi-weekly flights to Saigon. Additional frequencies and routes are a future possibility.

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swiss firms remain upbeat about vietnam business despite pandemic
Jeff Redl, Managing Director of Diethelm Travel Vietnam

Jeff Redl, Managing Director of Diethelm Travel Vietnam

In 1999, Diethelm Travel opened offices in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. We belong to the Swiss group, Diethelm Travel Holding AG, which is based in Zurich. We promote, sell, provide, handle operations and organize services for Swiss tourists when they arrive and travel in Vietnam.

The evolution of Vietnam’s tourism industry can be seen clearly in the corresponding number of arrivals and their spending in 2009, 2014 and 2019 at 3,747,000 and US$1.1 billion; 7,874,000 and US$2.65 billion; and 18,009,000 and US$6.15billion, respectively. (Source:https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/ST.INT.ARVL?locations=VN)

It is remarkable that Vietnam has managed to attract almost six times more tourists within a decade. The benefits in terms of revenue are also unprecedented. I also believe there is no other industry that could boast share similar growth in such short period of time.

Since April 2020, the entire tourism industry has been severely impacted by the pandemic. Companies like Diethelm Travel have no revenue. For more than 18 months, we are surviving with limited resources.

To recover step by step according to the country’s open schedule of tourism industry, the first and most important step for our company was implementing a new IT system. Digitization is the key for future success within the tourism industry. We are convinced that we have the right tools and procedures in place. This improves our efficiency by streamlining our procedures, providing instant information and booking confirmation to our business partners at the most competitive rates.

Beside this important work, we looked closely at our product portfolio to align it with the current demand and concerns, focusing on sustainability and wellness. We are tightening further our relationship with Community Based Tourism organizations, social enterprises, NGOs and estimating the carbon footprint of our operations and tours.

Although our business is down due to the Covid-19 pandemic, I believe that this is a temporary development. We expect recovery to happen the next year after Vietnam’s tourism industry opens completely.

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swiss firms remain upbeat about vietnam business despite pandemic
Markus Baur, CEO of Axon Active

Markus Baur, CEO of Axon Active

Axon Active, a Swiss software development company, has been in Vietnam for 13 years, during which it has developed a workforce of 500 Vietnamese software engineers who produce high-quality software applications for customers from all over the world.

The main reason we chose to enter Vietnam was the availability of talented software developers and the high density of technical universities. Personally, I feel very much at home in Vietnam.

In my view, IT development has been breathtakingly fast in the country. I would even say a little too fast. Vietnam trains around 50,000 IT specialists every year, which is a record breaking amount compared to the population - but it is still not enough to meet the demand. Thanks to the absolute top wages that are paid in our industry, more and more young people will be interested in studying IT, for sure. However, financial incentives must not be the only reason to take up this profession. If passion and interest in the work is lacking, the quality will suffer.

The pandemic has affected IT industry in the country in several ways. We have lost customers who went bankrupt and left many unpaid bills. This is not to whine… we can count ourselves absolutely lucky to have gotten off so lightly so far.

It is now evident that the IT industry is resilient and therefore important for the community and will probably become even more important in the future.

There are clear signs that the potential for IT growth in Vietnam is enormous in the years to come. To further develop the IT industry in Vietnam, our goal should not be to keep up with the other countries, but to get ahead of them! In terms of technological knowledge and ability, I would say we already are. If we take one more step in the field of foreign languages and in reliability, Vietnam can become the Silicon Valley of our planet.

Phung Phung