A delegation of key United States-backed companies has come away from a trip to Vietnam singing its praise despite concerns over the country’s macroeconomic situation.
The US business mission to Vietnam-illustration photo
The US business mission to Vietnam, included representatives from close to 40 large groups including ACE Group, Coca-Cola Company, Boeing, Chevron, Google, Microsoft, Ford Motor Company, JP Morgan, Time Warner, IBM, Intel and MasterCard Worldwide wrapped up its nearly week long trip to Vietnam late last week.
Alexander Feldman, president of the US-ASEAN Business Council, said: “Across all sectors, US businesses are looking at Vietnam and the other ASEAN nations and recognising South East Asia, and Vietnam in particular, as the key growth market for the 21st century.”
“The surge of interest we are seeing in Vietnam is unprecedented,” he added.
Stuart Dean, chief executive officer of General Electric (GE) for ASEAN, said: “The reason that this is the council’s largest business mission ever is US companies see enormous opportunities here.”
A representative of global private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts Company (KKR) said: “We are optimistic about opportunities to invest in the Vietnamese market in the long term.”
His company recently paid $159 million for a stake in Vietnamese food processing firm Masan Consumer Corporation in the largest private-equity investment in Vietnam.
Meanwhile, Dean said Vietnam was an ideal place for GE to invest and expand its manufacturing capability because it had a skilled work force and prospects were bright for its energy sector.
“We expect to expand the $61 million plant that manufactures wind turbine components in Haiphong as well as develop other sectors such as transportation and health for both Vietnamese market and ASEAN in general,” he said.
Nguyen Thi Kim Loan, a representative of Procter & Gamble Company (P&G), said: “P&G would commit to deep investment in Vietnam in the long term.”
She added that P&G entered Vietnam in 1995 and so far it had increased its investment capital threefold with two factories in the southern province of Binh Duong having total investment capital of up to $140 million.
Loan said: “P&G expect Vietnam will be a hub in the ASEAN region,”
However, Lan and Dean raised concerns about the country’s unstable macro economic situation and highlighted inflation, interest rates and market opening.
Dean said the legal framework and high inflation remained major issues of great concern for US businesses. But he hoped that Vietnam would deal with these challenges in the future to enable US businesses to achieve greater penetration of the Vietnamese market.