Corporate finance information

Promoting Viet Nam – Hong Kong trade cooperation


With the advantage of abundant labour force and open-door policy to attract foreign investment, Vietnam has become an ideal destination for Hong Kong enterprises during their operations expansion plan in ASEAN region. Meanwhile, Hong Kong (China) is considered the leading financial centre of the Asia Pacific region, it is an important gateway for Vietnam to approach other potential markets in the world. According to Dr Jonathan Choi, Chairman of the Hong Kong - Vietnam Chamber of Commerce (HKVCC), all those factors will be the foundation for Vietnam and Hong Kong enterprises to further tighten cooperation and trading exchange in the near future. Song Thanh reports.

As part of HKVCC's bridging role promoting cooperation between enterprises between Vietnam and Hong Kong in recent times, do you have specific activities supporting two sides’ enterprises to strengthen cooperation, to exchange experience, and to look for commercial investment opportunities? How have those activities affected the trade ties?
Take this year as an example, HKVCC has organised various events to enhance the cooperation and mutual exchange between Vietnam and Hong Kong, including various seminars, meetings and visits. On 6 April 2016, HKVCC held a Seminar on Vietnam Investment and Business Opportunities for members to get the latest information on opportunities of investment and business in Vietnam from a delegation led by H.E. Mr Dang Minh Khoi, Ambassador of Vietnam to China.

On 15 August 2016, HKVCC members joined a Hong Kong business delegation of 70 people to Ho Chi Minh City and had a meeting with Mr Nguyen Thanh Phong, Chairman of the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee to learn more about the business and investment environment in Ho Chi Minh City as well as areas of cooperation between Hong Kong and Vietnam corporations. A Meet Hong Kong Session was also organised for members to meet and network with officials from 11 provinces and cities. The delegation also had a fruitful discussion with the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Ho Chi Minh City branch, where they received in-depth information on the city’s policies for foreign investors. And on 16 August 2016, HKVCC was one of the supporting organisations of the “Luncheon on Opportunities for Hong Kong & Vietnam under ASEAN Regional Co-operation” in Ho Chi Minh City, which aimed at exploring the current state of Hong Kong - Vietnam relations, making suggestions on how to grow a bigger economic pie and benefit all parties concerned. On this occasion, Mrs Carrie Lam, Chief Secretary for Administration of the Hong Kong SAR Government was the keynote speaker of the Luncheon.
Regarding the economic relationship between Hong Kong and Vietnam, we are witnessing significant increases recently. Hong Kong was Vietnam’s 6th largest source of inward FDI and Vietnam was the 5th largest export market for Hong Kong during the first quarter of this year. Through our events and activities, we have attracted more investors from Hong Kong and China to Vietnam.
 How do you evaluate the investment environment in Vietnam?
From the experience learnt from almost half a century of doing business with Vietnam by our Sunwah Group, I believe Vietnam offers not only important momentum in fostering the development of the East Asian region, but is also one of the fastest growing economies in ASEAN, with a GDP growth rate of 6.7 per cent in 2015, the strongest in 7 years. More importantly, the country has an abundant workforce, with a large pool of young workers serving as a unique advantage for labour-intensive production. Vietnam is stable politically and is rich in resources. The Vietnamese government has also undertaken an ambitious market reform agenda coupled with policies that would open itself to more global trade like TPP, ASEAN-HK FTA, ASEAN + 6 (RCEP). All these factors would be enormous advantages in attracting investors coming to Vietnam.
Vietnam is willing to create favourable conditions for FDI investors, including those from Hong Kong. In your opinion, what opportunities will Hong Kong investors bring to Vietnam?
As a major international financial centre, Hong Kong is an ideal place to provide infrastructure financing for Vietnam and other ASEAN markets. In addition, Hong Kong’s competitive edge in a number of professional services, including accounting and law, will meet the needs for the growing business opportunities in the region.
Many Hong Kong companies are already in Vietnam covering the textiles, garment, shoe, electronic and property industry. Hong Kong companies are bringing in new industry areas including service industry, financial services, green agriculture and health food which will help further boost the economy of Vietnam.
For example, our Sunwah Group exports Vietnam seafood to Hong Kong, and also exports Vietnam coffee, not only to Hong Kong but also to the international market. Therefore, we help to increase exports from Vietnam to other parts of the world.
With FDI increasing and bilateral trade increasing, I am positive of a promising future for the cooperation between Vietnam and Hong Kong in the years to come.
What potential sections of Vietnam do you think that attract Hong Kong investors? What are HKVCC’s policies to orient Hong Kong enterprises to invest into those sections?
I think there are a few potential sectors that can attract investors from Hong Kong, such as real estate, manufacturing and service industry. The growing economy will attract property developers to come to Vietnam. Cheap land, cheap labour and low currency rate will attract manufacturers. TPP is also attractive to manufacturers as it will open the new US market. Hong Kong is strong in service industry and companies always seek to expand their services overseas.
HKVCC has been working closely with various government ministries and VCCI to introduce the Vietnam market to Hong Kong companies. We have organised many events for Vietnam officials and delegations, organised conferences and seminars on trade promotion, investment, tax regulations, legal system, new policies as well as business matching and networking for Hong Kong and Vietnam enterprises in various sectors. 

On the Vietnam side, in your view, how should Vietnamese enterprises prepare in order to access the Hong Kong market?
Hong Kong is a financial and economic hub of Asia and also the world. To access the Hong Kong market, Vietnamese enterprises should be very well-equipped with information on Hong Kong’s policies and regulations, as well as potential sectors and partners. A clear and thorough understanding on the market will be a plus for the newcomers. Moreover, they will have to prove themselves to be up to international standards and qualified for the requirements of the Hong Kong market.
For instance, Hong Kong is a leading financial centre after New York and London. Vietnamese corporations are welcome to list in Hong Kong, but need to comply with the strict international regulations. When Vietnamese companies do trading in Hong Kong, they can get into the China market easily. Vietnamese food, and manufacturing products are welcomed by Hong Kong people.
In the context of Vietnam joining the TPP and FTA Hong Kong - ASEAN agreement, which will be signed in coming time, to promote economic cooperation between Vietnam and Hong Kong, what strategies, solutions, and programmes will HKVCC implement to increase trade ties?
Regional developments like negotiations for the Hong Kong – ASEAN FTA, the ASEAN plus China, Japan and Korea, the RCEP, the AEC, the Mainland China’s Belt and Road Initiatives and TPP, all offer immense business opportunities for global companies based in Hong Kong. Vietnam will require a lot of infrastructure development, Hong Kong is strong in financing infrastructure projects, as well as operation and management of infrastructure projects like airport, seaport, mass transit systems etc.
In the coming time, HKVCC will continue to expand networks, relationship and partnership for members with Vietnamese corporations; to provide a forum for the identification of new business opportunities; to organise more promotional activities and public information programmes in Hong Kong and Vietnam for better understanding of business opportunities and to cooperate with relevant government bodies and chambers of commerce to exchange and disseminate information on business development.
HKVCC is also working closely with VCCI to strengthen the cooperation between the two organisations. As it is planned, we will sign a new cooperation agreement with VCCI in Hong Kong on 14 Sept 2016 for a closer and wider partnership. I believe that this will benefit both organisations and provide an enhanced platform for both sides’ business communities to further expand their business.