Peggy Keshishian is the Acting Senior Commercial Officer in the International Trade Administration’s Foreign Commercial Service Team in Vietnam.
It was an honor to host Commerce Secretary Pritzker here in Vietnam. She and the visiting delegation of U.S. CEOs and the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council are absolutely right to prioritize the Vietnam market and their visit to the country will do nothing but help solidify a promising commercial relationship.
Here’s what I know about Vietnam: Despite some potential pitfalls, it is a hotbed of opportunity for U.S. businesses.
There are two important reasons Vietnam is a promising market:
- The country is modernizing, meaning there are numerous needs for infrastructure development. Improvements of transportation systems — including subways, highways, and airports — not only mean opportunities for U.S. firms, but also an improved business environment in the country.
- The population is also young; 70 percent of Vietnamese citizens are under 40 years old. That means there is tremendous opportunity for developing brand loyalty among consumers. Vietnamese citizens recognize the quality of U.S. products, and incomes in the country are rising. That helps create a promising environment for U.S. goods and services.
That said, it’s important to recognize there are some risks in the Vietnamese market.
Much of the money being injected into the economy comes from foreign sources, and is often provided by nations that expect their companies to receive a leg-up when it comes to competing for state contracts. You need to aware of how projects are financed so that you don’t end up spinning your wheels competing for a contract your business is unlikely to win.
This is something Secretary Pritzker addressed in several meetings with Vietnamese leaders, and I believe the country is taking important steps to increase transparency and fairness.
Our Foreign Commercial Service team works hard to make sure any American company looking to enter this market knows how to succeed. We work with our Commercial Service colleagues in the United States to support U.S. businesses with services like market research, finding the most qualified local partners, and discovering the best opportunities available.
We’ll remain here on the ground, continuing to support U.S. businesses and building off the success of the Secretary’s visit.
If you’re interested in opportunities in Vietnam – or in any other market – you should contact your nearest Export Assistance Center to get started.