It was an honour to host the Deputy Prime Minister of Vietnam, Mr Vu Van Ninh in London last week. We, the Vietnam-UK Network, welcomed Mr Ninh and senior government officials at our ‘Business, Investment and Export Opportunities in Vietnam’ morning seminar, kicking off his week-long tour of the UK. In a two-hour program with speakers including global economic forecaster Dr Gerard Lyons and Mr Ninh himself, the key message was; Vietnam is rich in opportunities for those that want to take them. As the Vice Chairman of the Vietnam – UK Network it was an honour to introduce DPM Ninh to his first business audience in the UK.
We listened to Mr Ninh speak on Vietnam’s background of providing a sustainable environment for development and investment. Vice Minister of Commerce and Industry, Mr Cao Quoc Hung highlighted Vietnam’s stability such as their 20% growth in 2013 and Gerard Lyons, cief Economist The London Lord Mayor, was compelling on the, still largely untapped, potential within Vietnam and the wider ASEAN region. British businesses have a real opportunity here and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) a particular advantage. More agile and less hampered by many of the restrictions (both internal and external) that govern global corporations, the way is open for mid-sized operations in a country where SMEs make up 80% of GDP. NashTech, a part of Harvey Nash Group plc, is a perfect example, having become the largest IT and software company In Vietnam in just over a decade – this ahead of much larger but later arrivals such as Microsoft and IBM.
Despite the on-going economic squeeze in the UK, or perhaps because of it, UK support for doing business in/with Vietnam is strong and continues to grow. Organisations like the Vietnam-UK Network, advice from the UKTI and events such as our Business seminar, fully supported by the Vietnamese Embassy, are just a few examples of the resources available to SMEs. I would agree with some press that see an element of Mr Ninh’s trip as ‘wooing’ UK business. Yet the atmosphere among almost 100 diverse, UK-based professionals on Monday morning was positive and energised – two things we have been lacking in UK business for some time.
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