By Ngan Binh
LONDON — A British trade official and an executive chairman told participants at a business briefing in London on Tuesday that Viet Nam was an attractive destination for investment and that the country was ripe for British trade and investment.
Douglas Barnes, Consul General in HCM City and Director for UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) in Viet Nam, and Paul Smith, Executive chairman of Harvey Nash, a London-based company providing IT services, which has been doing business successfully in Viet Nam for 12 years, briefed British businesspeople about the Vietnamese market. The conference was held by the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry for British firms in a prelude to a trade mission which the chamber is organising for those interested in the market to visit Ha Noi and HCM City in November 12-16 this year.
Both speakers highlighted key strengths of the Vietnamese market, including a politically stable and safe environment; a strategic location with access to South East Asia, China and beyond and a growing population (87 million) which is young, dynamic, educated and pragmatic. They also noted other favourable conditions such as a growing domestic market; a burgeoning middle-class with significant spending power; accession to the World Trade Organisation and a signed strategic partnership agreement between the two countries to strengthen their bilateral relationship, including trade ties.
Douglas said other positive points of the Vietnamese market were that for three years running, British firms have ranked Viet Nam as the top destination outside of the BRICs in which they would like to invest and that the country has potential for long-term growth. One of the UK's 17 high growth markets, Viet Nam is estimated to be the fastest-growing economy in the world to 2050.
Smith, who works closely with UKTI to support UK businesses wishing to enter the ASEAN region, will lead the mission, as his local knowledge and support network will benefit the delegates.
He said through his knowledge, Viet Nam had market opportunities in the areas of ICT services and R&D; retail; construction/mining; manufacturing; energy; outsourcing; digital and media; financial services; education; and tourism & leisure.
UK exports of goods and services to Viet Nam in 2011 were 520 million pounds (around US$820 million), an increase of 7.9 per cent year-on-year, while Viet Nam's exports of goods and services to the UK were 1.75 billion pounds ($2.7 billion), a growth of 33 per cent. In term of foreign-directed investment, UK is the third largest EU investor (17th world wide) in Viet Nam. — VNS