Vietnam, a dynamic growth destination for UK businesses

09:00 | 02/10/2019 MUTRAP Corner

(VEN) - Representatives of UK businesses in Vietnam assess the country’s attractions and potential growth opportunities and look at future trends likely to take root here.

vietnam a dynamic growth destination for uk businesses
Khalid Muhmood, Founder of Apollo Education and Training Organization

Khalid Muhmood, Founder of Apollo Education and Training Organization

Apollo Education and Training English Center was established in 1995 in Vietnam when everyone was rushing to China, Indonesia and other Tiger Economies. At that time, I visited a number of countries to research where was best to start. When I came to Vietnam it was clear that the people were so forward thinking and ambitious and very few other foreign organizations were looking at the country so we would have a head start. Since then, we have worked hard together on our mission to train students to become confident and fluent in English along with essential skills for the 21st century so that they can succeed in a global context.

Currently, Apollo has 39 centers with over 700 foreign teachers. Our biggest achievement in the past 24 years is the number of global citizens we have trained and the people we influence through education and training. By 2019, we have developed more than 500,000 global citizens. Being a global citizen means that they can speak the global language fluently, have a deep understanding about global issues and enhance their knowledge and perspectives of the world. In addition, we work in partnership with National Geographic Learning to allow students to learn through real life topics such as Exploring, Geography, Science, Nature; Every child who learns with us doesn’t just learn, they learn to love learning. Moreover, we stay up to date with using technology and believe that the blended methodology is the way forward. We recently launched the Estella Creative Application Center. This is the first English center to launch a unique collaborative blended learning method: Outside of class time with foreign teachers, they also learn individually with a teacher through a modern online application.

Although the English teaching market in Vietnam is quite competitive, I still remind the Apollo team that the market is still new and there is a lot of noise in the market place. We like to stay focused on what we do and remain the experts in delivering learning outcomes to all students who study with us.

In years to come, Apollo is focusing on investing in the improvement of teaching and learning methods. We also continue to invest in collaborating with publishers like National Geographic Learning to release new types of English learning books soon. Of course, we also plan to develop and expand new English centers.

I believe that Vietnam is an attractive destination for educational investors. The country still has a lot of room to develop. The challenge with education is that you need to have a long term mentality to succeed but many investors in education can think too short term. The Vietnam Government and UK Government are doing a good job to promote education cooperation between the two countries. The future is long and there is still a lot of potential.

vietnam a dynamic growth destination for uk businesses
Kenneth Atkinson, Founder & Senior Board Adviser, Grant Thornton Vietnam

Kenneth Atkinson, Founder & Senior Board Adviser, Grant Thornton Vietnam

Grant Thornton is a leading business consultant in Vietnam, helping dynamic organizations unlock their growth potential. Some of the other services we offer include Audit and Assurance, Tax Services, Advisory Services, Business Process Solutions/Outsourcing.

In Vietnam, we established the first office in 1993, when audit and accountancy was still new and not developed. Now, it can be said that we have contributed to the impressive development of the audit industry. We have also grown and now have more than 250 people working in two offices in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Our revenue growth is at around 10 percent per year. We are ranked 6th in this sector, and this is an achievement we are very proud of after 26 years of continuous effort.

As expert consultants, we still feel good about Vietnam’s economy, market and confident about our future here. There are many good reasons for our confidence. The country is more open with good and improved policies to attract foreign businesses. FDI continues flowing into the country and has increased, significantly, in recent years. Some FTAs have been signed, of which the EU - Vietnam FTA (EVFTA) is expected to be a key driver for economic growth. It will open up the Vietnamese market to EU investments, which will encourage more foreign investment inflows into Vietnam. In addition, the CPTPP has come into force at the beginning of 2019. It is the third largest trade agreement signed, after the North American Free Trade Agreement and the EVFTA. Gains from the CPTPP are expected to be concentrated in a handful of industries including: clothing, textiles, food, beverages and tobacco.

Then, apart from significant improvements in the legislative environment, there have also been improvements in bureaucratic procedures, which were a bottleneck for socio-economic development of Vietnam.

From my point of view, huge potential and chances in Vietnam are awaiting foreign businesses in general and UK companies in particular. If BREXIT happens, this will force British companies look for new opportunities in other destinations. Vietnam will be an ideal place for them to explore, to do business and to invest in. The Vietnam sectors with potential to attract British companies in near future are: services, Fintech, retail and some sectors that will upskill to join the global supply chain. The time is now! Take the chance and come to Vietnam, it will pay off. Just be patient about accessing its advantages.

vietnam a dynamic growth destination for uk businesses
Neil Harvey, Director and Ho Chi Minh City Office Leader, Arup

Neil Harvey, Director and Ho Chi Minh City Office Leader, Arup

Arup is an independent firm of designers, planners, engineers, architects, consultants and technical specialists, working across every aspect of today’s built environment.

We have been working in Vietnam since the 1980s. Recognizing the huge potential in the country, we established a local operation office in Ho Chi Minh City in 2008. Since establishing our official presence in Vietnam, we have established a track record of excellence in the private and public sectors in the country. Our portfolio includes some of the country’s tallest buildings, like Landmark 81, Vincom Center, and Times Square in Ho Chi Minh City, the iconic National Conventional Centre in Hanoi and the Van Don Integrated Resort located in Ha Long Bay. We also advised the government of Ninh Thuan Province on developing a strategic master plan for the province’s sustainable development, and of Ho Chi Minh City on MRT Line 2. Besides that, we are working on other complex projects in Phu Quoc, Da Nang and Hanoi.

We at Arup were proud to be invited to present our vision as consultant partners for the National Innovation Centre (NIC) in Hanoi recently. NIC, the first of its kind in Vietnam, will be the powerhouse of the country’s ‘Industry 4.0’ era. Leveraging our global expertise with local knowledge, we presented our vision for realizing this future growth symbol for Vietnam.

As an international consultant, we foresee lot of advantages in the country that offer many opportunities. There are more and more foreign companies coming to Vietnam and more complex building and infrastructure projects are in the offing. This gives our industry great promise and potential to prosper.

In the years to come, we would like to expand our business, broaden our clients network in the Mekong Delta and Da Nang, and open our office in Hanoi.

Even though the market predictability can be a challenge, we are confident about the future here. We look forward to further collaboration in sustaining the impressive economic growth of Vietnam and strengthening our relationship with partners in the country.

Drawing from the experience of Arup after more than a decade of operating in Vietnam, I think that UK businesses intending to come to Vietnam have to do their research, bring the right people to country, get advice from predecessors, understand the local business culture, and be patient. Then they will succeed here.

My My