German Business Interests and Opportunities in Vietnam
A delegation of 21 CEOs and high-ranking business representatives visited Vietnam from 19 to 26 November 2019 to explore future business opportunities for German enterprises and to understand more about key concerns faced by foreign investors. The group comprised of companies of sectors like architecture, banking, chemical industry, insurance, IT, legal advice and trade.09-12-2019
The delegation from Germany was headed by Ms Almut Rößner, Executive Member of the Board of OAV, who herself had lived 9 years in Vietnam before she joined the OAV in February this year: “Even after having worked in Vietnam for a long time, it was amazing to see the speed of development and influx of investment especially in Central and North-eastern Vietnam. It was a pleasure to build on my existing network and assist OAV members with contacts and insights.” In order to better understand the current developments in one of Southeast Asia’s most thriving economies the delegation travelled from South to North and visited the 4 major economic centres of Vietnam: Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang, Haiphong and Hanoi. In Haiphong the group was joined by Mr Philipp Rösler, former German Vice-Chancellor, who is now advising the Vietnamese government and big private companies on innovation and start-up support.
Highlights of the eight-day programme included meetings with H.E. Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment Vu Dai Thang, H.E. Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Do Thang Hai as well as meetings with key business figures in Vietnam like Mr Vo Quang Hue, Vice President of Vingroup and CEO of Vietnam’s first local automotive company Vinfast, Dr Truong Gia Binh, co-founder, Chairman and CEO of the Vietnamese technology company FPT Corporation and Mr Do Quang Hien, President and CEO of T&T Group JSC. Furthermore, the delegation had exchanges with representatives of the Investment Promotion Agency of Da Nang and the local chapter of the Vietnamese Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Haiphong.
Company visits included German and Vietnamese companies alike. In Ho Chi Minh City, the delegation started at the Deutsches Haus, a lighthouse project of Germany in Vietnam where the German Consulate, several German companies and institutions are under one roof and which serves as a symbol of Germany’s economic prowess and advancement in sustainability. Chairman and CEO of Deutsches Haus, Mr Horst Geicke, welcomed the delegation and joined our mission also for the leg in Haiphong and Hanoi later on. The first introduction to Vietnam happened at the Deutsches Haus after words of welcome by the German Consul General in Ho Chi Minh City, Dr Josefine Wallat. Several experts e.g. from the European Chamber of Commerce contributed to an intensive briefing session on the macro economic situation in Vietnam, the upcoming EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement and how to enter the Vietnamese market regarding legal issues and IPR Protection. In the evening, the delegation members had the opportunity not only enjoy the view of the amazing skyline of the buzzling city from a rooftop bar, but to mingle and exchange with representatives of OAV member companies based in Ho Chi Minh City. On our second day, we visited one of the latest co-working spaces where we could witness first-hand the entrepreneurial spirit. A representative of Viessmann shared his experience setting up their operations in Vietnam before the group headed to the first industrial zone of Vietnam, Tan Thuan Export Processing Zone, where we were kindly invited to visit the industrial sensors producer Pepperl+Fuchs .After that the delegation travelled to Central Vietnam, where we visited Thaco, a Vietnamese conglomerate producing buses and other vehicles as well as license producing cars. Visits at Messer Group’s recently established largest gas producing facility in Southeast Asia and the Hoa Phat steelwork followed. In Da Nang, the main economic hub of central Vietnam the group learned more about the region’s ambitions to develop a Vietnamese Silicon Valley and become a hub of Vietnam’s IT industry. mgm technologies, a German IT company, shared on their experiences in this thriving sector and the benefits of establishing their first footprint in Asia in Vietnam. At Groz-Beckert, a leading manufacturer of industrial needles, we learned more about Technical and Vocational Training programmes in Vietnam and how to tackle the shortage of skilled labour in the manufacturing field.
During a three-day visit to Haiphong the main port city of North Vietnam the delegation visited the Belgian invested Deep C industrial zone and had a tour of Vietnam’s automotive company Vinfast. Within only 21 months an impressive automated production facility was established where passenger cars and e-scooters are produced. The delegates had also the chance to test drive the first Vinfast models and exchange their experiences on Vietnam with Mr Philipp Rösler who joined the group for the last leg of the delegation trip. After a short drive to Hanoi, a mere one and a half hours away from Haiphong thanks to recently improved infrastructure, the group was invited to a lunch by Vingroup and met with the German Ambassador to Vietnam Dr Guido Hildner and Björn Koslowski of the Delegate of German Industry and Commerce in Vietnam before visiting the FPT University in Hanoi where the group was received by FPT Founder and Chairman Dr. Truong Gia Binh who shared his vision on digitalisation. The last day of the business mission was reserved for political meetings with Deputy Ministers of Planning and Investment and of Industry and Trade. Lastly, the group met with Mr Do Quang Hien, Founder and President of the conglomerate T&T Group JSC.
All delegation members who came to Vietnam for the first time were highly impressed by the dynamism and many untapped business opportunities. Wolfgang Schmitz-Heinen, CEO of Witte Group, a world-leading provider of industrial printing solutions from Germany sums up: “Many thanks to the OAV team for the great journey, their organization and support. The numerous visits and discussions gave us a deep insight into a country that we had not previously had on the agenda. We are curious how to proceed and plan next steps.”.
But also German companies long established in Vietnam valued the business mission as a tool to deepen or establish contacts with Vietnamese private sector conglomerates and political figures alike. Mr Erick Contreras, Managing Director for BASF Vietnam Co., Ltd., who started his post in Vietnam just few months ago, stated: “The OAV mission was a welcome enrichment to my onboarding as the newly installed managing director of BASF Vietnam. I gathered a lot of insights on the country's business landscape that I wouldn't have found by just reading economic reports at the office. It was also an excellent opportunity to exchange ideas and learn from the accomplished leaders of German and Vietnam industries.”
Overall the OAV business mission attracted a lot of attention. It was featured in Vietnam Investment Review, Vietnam's leading international business newspaper (see download section). Also, Almut Rößner’s coverage on LinkedIn attracted over 15,000 views.
The engagement of German companies in Vietnam is still low compared with their competitors from East Asia, but the country’s potential is obvious and likely to attract more German and European investors in the future.
About OAV (German Asia-Pacific Business Association)
Since its foundation in 1900, OAV has become the leading network of German companies with interests and activities in the Asia-Pacific region. With about 800 members, OAV is a privately held, non-profit organization that strives to promote stronger bilateral economic relationships between Germany and the Asia-Pacific region.