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Global Support Booms for Vietnam Expo from Exporters and Importers

Growing awareness of the potential of Vietnam as both a viable production base and an affluent consumer market in its own right has seen the number of international exhibitors signing up for the Vietnam Expo soar over recent years.

Photo: Traditional handicrafts jostled with state-of-the-art machinery for attention at the Vietnam Expo.
Traditional handicrafts jostled with state-of-the-art machinery for attention at the Vietnam Expo.
Photo: Traditional handicrafts jostled with state-of-the-art machinery for attention at the Vietnam Expo.
Traditional handicrafts jostled with state-of-the-art machinery for attention at the Vietnam Expo.

More than 500 companies from 20 countries gathered in the Saigon Exhibition & Convention Center for the recent Vietnam International Trade Fair (Vietnam Expo). Speaking at the opening ceremony, Ho Thi Kim Thoa, the Deputy Minister for Trade and Industry, said: "In the context of economic globalisation, we are committed to creating ever more comprehensive opportunities for co-operation and development."

Indeed, her message seemed to strike a chord with businesses from across the region. This saw the show attract a wide variety of exhibitors, all of whom seemed singularly positive about the prospects of importing to, and exporting from, Vietnam, with the South Korean contingent particularly upbeat.

A prime example of this was Incheon-headquartered Nail Ace, a manufacturer and exporter of nail files and buffers. Assessing the opportunities the company sees within Vietnam, Export Manager Derick Lee said: "There is considerable demand for beauty products here. We've received enquiries from several of the country's leading supermarket chains, including Co.opmart and Lottemart. In fact, later today, we are hoping to conclude a deal with Co.opmart.

"As well as supplying the major supermarkets, we're also looking to work with resellers and beauty salons across Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC). Each order, though, has to have a minimum quantity of a few thousand pieces."

Charged with looking after wider Korean interests in Vietnam was the Bucheon Chamber of Commerce and Industry, a trade body representing a number of businesses based in South Korea's second-most densely populated city. Explaining just why Vietnam has such allure for his constituent members, Cho Chun Yong, the Chamber's President, said: "South Korean businesses are keen to come here as Vietnam has such huge growth potential. As its infrastructure improves, it's emerging as a key investment destination in Southeast Asia. All of the Bucheon businesses participating in this event have reported that they have made a number of promising contacts."

An exhibitor that was far closer to home was HCMC-based Dai Hiep, a subsidiary of the Rinnai Group, a Japanese manufacturer of gas appliances. Outlining why trade events are so important to his company, Marketing Manager Thi Xuan Tien said: "We specialise in providing sterilising machines of a variety of sizes and specifications, so our customer base is quite diverse and includes hospitals and restaurants as well as residential users. Trade fairs like this allow us to contact a host of potential clients."

Apart from the general air of meet and greet that characterises many trade shows, increasing production efficiency was one of the chief preoccupations at this year's event. This was particularly the case for domestic companies, many of which were keen to boost their competitiveness compared with their rivals elsewhere in the region.

Photo: Nail Ace: Korean cosmetics on show.
Nail Ace: Korean cosmetics on show.
Photo: Nail Ace: Korean cosmetics on show.
Nail Ace: Korean cosmetics on show.
Photo: LogiForm: Modular manufacturing.
LogiForm: Modular manufacturing.
Photo: LogiForm: Modular manufacturing.
LogiForm: Modular manufacturing.

One business with this clearly on its agenda was LogiForm, the HCMC-based subsidiary of a Korean firm specialising in the manufacture of modular components. Outlining the company's need to stay abreast of changing international standards, Factory Manager Nguyen Hung Thanh said: "Overall, the current production trend is towards the simple, compact and efficient. If we are going to compete, we have to comply with that. As we work with a number of large manufacturers – such as Vina Plastic [an HCMC-based manufacturer of plastic piping products] – it's absolutely vital for us."

In the case of Tran Nguyen Huynh Construction Services, a Binh Duong-based specialist supplier of compressors and other industrial equipment, it was keen to capitalise on the changing demands in Vietnam's manufacturing sector. Highlighting this shift in priorites, Nguyen Ngoc Trung, a Sales Superivisor with the company, said: "There is huge potential for the heavy-industrial sector in Vietnam. More and more manufacturing is being relocated here and there is a need for state-of-the-art machinery.

"To date, though, Vietnam's strengths have veered more towards the light industrial. As a result, there is now a huge demand for overseas production equipment, which is the basis of our business. At present, our customers tend to be the larger manufacturers, typically those specialising in furniture or textiles."

This year, Indonesia was the focus of the event's overseas spotlight and, accordingly, had the largest single display area. Highlighting the connections between the two countries, Ibnu Hadi, Indonesia's Ambassador to Vietnam, said: "After a period of time researching the Vietnamese market, we chose the Vietnam Expo as our preferred showground. Vietnam is one of our most important economic partners, with US$5.6 billion of trade between our two countries last year. We are now aiming to increase this bilateral trade based on mutual economic growth."

As well as its focus on heavy industry and high-level international trade, the event also accommodated a number of smaller scale, more traditional manufacturers. This saw the Hanoi Industry and Trade Department sponsor a mini-pavilion, which proudly displayed a banner reading 'Preserve and Develop Handicraft Villages in Hanoi'. This collective stand grouped together a number of small, traditional handicraft businesses, all keen to both promote their wares and find partners that would allow them to extend their range and distribution reach.

In terms of the local buyers attending the event, the sentiment expressed was generally positive. A typical response came from Nguyen Huu Dat, a first-time visitor to the show. Reflecting on his experience, he said: "This is the first time I have been to this fair. I have found it genuinely interesting, while the range of products on offer has been impressive. The origin of everything on was also clearly established, which was something of a refreshing change.

"For my part, I was most interested in Korean ginseng, as well as a number of food supplements that are said to be good for the heart or the blood. While some of these products can be found elsewhere in Vietnam, many of them have to be specially ordered from overseas. I am hoping to introduce many of these products to my friends and family. Then we can order on a group basis and save on shipping costs."

One young couple visiting the event was similarly impressed, saying: "We primarily came here to buy tools for home use, particularly hammers and pliers. My wife also bought a number of cosmetics products and we jointly bought a tent and some camping accessories for a forthcoming family picnic."

This year, the event's organisers also debuted a business-to-business promotional programme. Taking 'effectiveness with value' as its inaugural theme, the programme was said to have been supported by some 670 companies and commercial organisations.

Overall, organisers were bullish about the success of the event. The previous Vietnam International Trade Fair attracted 450 exhibiting companies from 20 countries, with a total of 550 exhibition stands. The latest event, however, saw 520 businesses taking a total of 600 stands.

Photo: The Vietnam Expo: An expanding showcase of the country’s expanding economic opportunities.
The Vietnam Expo: An expanding showcase of the country's expanding economic opportunities.
Photo: The Vietnam Expo: An expanding showcase of the country’s expanding economic opportunities.
The Vietnam Expo: An expanding showcase of the country's expanding economic opportunities.

The Vietnam International Trade Fair (Vietnam Expo) took place at the Saigon Exhibition & Convention Center in Ho Chi Minh City.

Pham Tuong Vi, Special Correspondent, Ho Chi Minh City

Content provided by Picture: HKTDC Research
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