Vietnam: one of the most vibrant economies in Asia

Vietnam has made rapid economic progress since launching its first major economic reforms in 1986. It continues to develop from a low-cost labour economy to a high value, high-quality enterprise marketplace. Vietnam is forecast to be one of the top 10 fastest growing economies in the next few decades.

The country is a one party state, run by the Communist Party of Vietnam, and is divided into 8 regions and has a population of 91.7 million people, 42% of which are under 25. The country has a literacy rate of 94%.

Since their economic reform in 1986, Vietnam introduced private sector reforms in 2000 and at present the Ministry of Education is introducing a new Education Curriculum which opens opportunities for UK companies in the market.

UK – Vietnam Trade was £4bn in 2015, most of that was Vietnam to UK but exports to Vietnam are rapidly increasing.

The UK government is drawing its attention to the Vietnamese Market and have recently paid visits to the country. In 2015 David Cameron was the first serving Prime Minister to visit the country.

There are a number of British education institutions conducting business in Vietnam. However, there is room for many more due to the size of the market. The UK is amongst the top 5 favourite destinations for overseas study with more than 8,000 Vietnamese students. The number is rising 15% every year.

Vietnam which has a relatively young population, see education of paramount importance and in dire need of better vocational training

The Vietnamese Prime Minister in March 2015 signed a decision to approve a curriculum project worth USD 37 million. The Ministry of Education and Training plan to launch the curriculum and textbooks within the 2018/2019 academic year.

The MoE and DoET have spent more than USD 10 million on equipment for a pilot smart school project in the last 2 years. A further USD 89 million will be spent in the next 3 years.

Due to the curriculum change, there are a considerable amount of opportunities for UK companies in areas such as: content, teacher training, ELT, vocational and technical education and school equipment & resources.

If you are considering entering the Vietnamese market there are a list of issues that need to be considered in order to take advantage of the business opportunities available. These include:

  • export directly
  • set up an agency
  • appoint a distributor
  • open a representative office
  • open a branch
  • form a joint venture
  • set up a 100% British owned company
  • enter into a business cooperation contract
  • enter into a Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) type contract
  • franchise/licensing

The main challenges of doing business in Vietnam are:

  • inadequate infrastructure
  • corruption
  • lack of skills
  • bureaucracy
  • grey areas of Vietnamese law
  • lack of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) enforcement
  • language barrier means translators and interpreters often needed
  • IP: Although Vietnam has a regulation in place to protect IP, this is not strongly enforced.

All of the above challenges should not discourage UK business from penetrating the market. Vietnam is one of the most vibrant economies in the region, it has its difficulties like most emerging markets but this should not deter anyone searching for business opportunities in the country.

The Vietnamese government in the next couple of years will be carrying out the biggest educational change the country has seen in decades, this is a massive opportunity for UK business interested in the market, due to the fact that in order to make this changes feasible the government is looking for outside assistance and guidance.

More information on Vietnam please go to: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-for-international-trade