ANZ Banking Group has developed a new strategy which will see it create links and boost investment and trade cooperation between foreign companies and their Vietnamese counterparts, said Mark Robinson, ANZ chief executive officer for South and Southeast Asia.
Reporter: ANZ is now implementing a super regional strategy for boosting trade and investment cooperation in Asia. How can the bank help foreign companies, especially those from Australia, to find business opportunities in this country?
Mark Robinson: We support companies both directly and indirectly. For example, two months ago, we arranged for a group of 20 Australian businesses to visit Vietnam. We set up meetings with local companies so the Australian businesses could look at expanding interaction with Vietnamese companies. This could either mean setting up an office in Vietnam, or importing from or exporting to Vietnamese companies. They really loved the visit and are excited about opportunities to work with Vietnamese companies. We are obsessed with connecting customers within and across our unique network with these opportunities. We are proud to be trusted by our customers to connect them with each other. I am contacted every week by new companies from other parts of the world, mostly in Australia and South East Asia, who are interested in doing business in Vietnam. There is broad-based strong interest.
Reporter: The south-south trading trend is growing rapidly while the United States and Eurozone are in difficulty. Many Vietnamese companies also want to get on board this trend, so what can they expect from ANZ’s new super regional strategy?
Mark Robinson: We arrange connectivity and bring offshore clients to Vietnamese companies. Our super regional strategy allows our customers to capture unique opportunities. They can rely on our deep understanding of local markets, experience and extensive networks across 32 markets.
Reporter: Vietnam’s economy is facing big challenges which are eroding the confidence of many foreign companies. Do you see your customers having concerns about Vietnam’s economy?
Mark Robinson: There are challenges in Vietnam, without a doubt, but Vietnam is not unique. In fact, I find that many people, who have come to Vietnam and compared this economy to Europe or other parts of the world, say that despite the challenges there are still a lot of opportunities. When I visit our customers and potential customers, a lot of them are doing pretty well here, especially when it comes to export operations.
Reporter: Can you fill us in on ANZ Vietnam’s business performance last year?
Mark Robinson: ANZ’s 2011 was a wonderful achievement by the ANZ Vietnam team. We have grown the number of customers banking with us across all segments in just over a year. We have grown our commercial banking base, and medium-sized companies and Signature Banking have grown significantly since we started this business here just one year ago. Companies are moving their key operating accounts to ANZ, to handle payments and cash management. Also, retail customers are transferring their salaries to ANZ, to make use of our spread of services. Vietnam is an important market for us in South East Asia and we are continuing to invest in and grow our business in Vietnam.
Reporter: Why is Vietnam important to ANZ? What challenges does the bank face here?
Mr Mark Robinson: We see a lot of opportunities in Vietnam and are confident the economy will continue to grow. Vietnam will benefit from growth in China and the rest of South East Asia. However, 2011 was not an easy year for many sectors, globally as well as in Vietnam. Banking is no exception. In Vietnam, we saw some small banks facing mergers. Inflation fell to 18.1 percent by the end of last year, from a peak of 23 percent in August. The trade deficit narrowed and the balance of payments showed a small surplus in 2011. However, depreciation pressures have not abated. We think the central bank should ease monetary policies only gradually in 2012. The key aim is to reduce inflation to below 10 percent year-on-year, while achieving modestly higher real growth of 6-6.5 percent.
Source: Vietnam Investment Review