Obama praises VN’s entrepreneurial spirit

May 25, 2016 - 09:00

US President Barack Obama discussed the status of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement and Việt Nam’s entrepreneurial growth during a talk with 100 young businesspeople after a brief meeting with the Secretary of HCM City’s Party Committee Đinh La Thăng yesterday.

US President Obama looks at products made by Vietnamese start-up businesses at Dreamplex. - VNS Photo Văn Đạt
Viet Nam News

HCM CITY — US President Barack Obama discussed the status of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement and Việt Nam’s entrepreneurial growth during a talk with 100 young businesspeople in HCM City yesterday.

The US President last night spoke at the Dreamplex Co-Working Space at the Miss Áo Dài Building in the city’s District 1 and saw products made by young Vietnamese, including virtual games created for people with nerve injuries, a smartphone-controlled laser cutter, and other innovations.  

Dreamplex, which now has 60 start-ups, is a place for young entrepreneurs. Though the business model is popular in the US, Europe and Asia, it is fairly new to Việt Nam.

Next month at our global entrepreneurs’ summit, something that I have been hosting now for several years, I will welcome eight Vietnamese entrepreneurs to Silicon Valley so they can learn from some of the best entrepreneurs and venture capitalists in the world,” he told the audience at Dreamplex.

“Dreamplex is not only home for digital entrepreneurs like you, but it is also a place where you can share ideas and work together and build a community that supports each other,” he added.

“Incubators like this allow Việt Nam, alongside its emphasis on entrepreneurship, to see more start-ups happening in this country than ever before.”

Obama said that entrepreneurship was the fuel for “prosperity that puts rising economies on the path to success”.

“It’s what gives young people, like so many of you, the chance to channel your energy and your passion into something that is bigger than yourselves,” he said. “It allows us to go across countries and cultures to solve some of the world’s biggest challenges.”

"Ultimately, what makes start-ups and entrepreneurs successful is good ideas and human capital. Obviously, investors are important and infrastructure is important. But the most important thing is people. The culture of entrepreneurship has really begun to grow in Việt Nam," he said.

“The world is taking notice,” said Obama, who noted that a leading global venture capital firm called 500 Startups had just launched a US$100 million-fund in HCM City.

Three young entrepreneurs, Hằng Đỗ, vice president of Seedcom; Lê Hoàng Uyên Vy, managing director of Adayroi; and Khoa Phạm, director of legal & corporate affairs for Microsoft took part in a panel discussion with the US president after his speech at Dreamplex.

Obama spoke about the interconnectness of today’s world and the global marketplace, and the need for every business to think globally. With good products and business strategies, companies can now reach billions of people, he noted.

Phạm told the President that he returned to Việt Nam to give the same opportunities to Vietnamese that he had received in the US.

He praised the spirit of entrepreneurship in Việt Nam, saying that it had inspired him to return and continue to work with Microsoft in the place of his birth.

Obama told the entrepreneurs that the 12-country TPP trade agreement represents a huge portion of the world’s marketplace, creating “standards for trade and commerce that are fair, that create a playing field that has high standards, including intellectual property protection,” he noted. 

He closed his message with encouraging words for the country’s dynamic entrepreneurial community.

“My message the other day is that I believe in you, America believes in you, and we will keep investing in your success. Ultimately, it’s the inventors and dreamers people like those that I’ve just met, those who we will hear from soon and all of you in the audience, who are going to shape Việt Nam’s future in the decades to come,” he said.

“I think that if you had any doubt about the outstanding future of Vietnamese entrepreneurs, then all those doubts have been pushed away because of the outstanding presentations by these three individuals. Give them a big round of applause,” Obama said at the end of the talk with the young businesspeople.
Relations between the US and Việt Nam are at a historic high following the establishment of the US-Việt Nam Comprehensive Partnership in 2013 and the celebration of 20 years of diplomatic relations in 2015. 

Trade between the two countries has nearly tripled in the last seven years, and now tops $45 billion. 

US exports to Việt Nam increased by 23 per cent in 2015, the largest increase of the US’s top 50 trade partners, and only one of two markets with double-digit growth. 

At the same time, the US remains Việt Nam’s largest export market, growing 24 per cent year-on-year. 

Economic ties between the two countries are poised to expand even further with the implementation of the TPP agreement, which would hold nearly 40 per cent of the world’s GDP, accountable to the highest labour, environmental, and intellectual property rights standards of any previous trade agreement, while leveling the playing field for workers and businesses, the White House said in a press release. 

The US has committed to help Việt Nam continue on its path of economic reforms, including efforts required to fully implement its commitments under the TPP through technical assistance, the department said. — VNS