Southeast Asia is home to some of the fastest growing economies in the world and presents great opportunities for Canadian companies looking to expand their businesses internationally.

Vietnam has come out of a successful year of ASEAN Chairmanship in 2020, and is on track for a robust economic recovery, evidenced by one of the world’s highest GDP growth rates. At the same time, Vietnam and Canada have built a solid foundation for economic partnership and are both signatories to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

Join the Canada-ASEAN Business Council and our partners in Vietnam and Canada to find out how the two countries can grow this important business partnership for shared success and prosperity. This event is the opening event of the Canada-ASEAN Business Leaders Series, organized by the CABC.

The event:

  • Provided an update on the business environment and opportunities in Vietnam
  • Discussed what Vietnam has to offer to Canadian businesses and learn from successful Canadian businesses operating in the market
  • Provided networking opportunities for the Canada-ASEAN business community

Event Summary

On January 21st, the Canada-ASEAN Business Council (CABC) hosted the Growing the Canada-Vietnam Business Partnership event jointly with the Quebec Government Office in Singapore, the Embassy of Vietnam in Canada, and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam. The event was also the opening session of the Canada-ASEAN Business Leaders Series 2021, organized by the CABC, in partnership with the Government of Canada, and supported by 7 CanChams and Business Councils based in Southeast Asia.

Over 200 attendees joined the event to better understand the business environment and various opportunities in Vietnam. The event featured a lineup of distinguished Canadian and Vietnamese business and government leaders. 

Mr. John F.G. Hannaford, Canada’s Deputy Minister of International Trade, and Mr. Do Thang Hai, Vietnam’s Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade attended as Guests of Honour, alongside H.E. Ambassador Deborah Paul, Ambassador of Canada to Vietnam, and H.E. Ambassador Pham Cao Phong, Ambassador of Vietnam to Canada. 

Key Takeaways

Vietnam is increasingly a key partner of Canada’s trade and investment within the ASEAN region, especially under the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). Vietnam has maintained steady growth in import and export activities for its fifth consecutive year, reaching a trade surplus of over $500 million in 2020. As such, Vietnam remains a key accessible trading hub for other ASEAN countries, encouraging the continuous exchange of goods between Canada and Southeast Asia. 

Vietnam also continues to climb the ranks of the best countries worldwide to invest in due to variety of factors, including consistent macroeconomic growth, geographic stability, land conditions, large markets, and human capital, which contribute to an overall attractive investment environment. Over the past decade, the Vietnamese government has also invested an average of 8% of its GDP into infrastructure, which not only continues to meet the needs of a rising youth population, but also expands its fast-growing industrial and manufacturing sectors. 

Canada-Vietnam Trade Relations

Canadian financial services companies operating in Vietnam, including banks and insurance firms, will continue to strengthen Canadian investment in the region, ensuring that infrastructure projects remain bankable, while following best practices. In addition to financial institutions, other Canadian entities interested in the Vietnam infrastructure sector – from law firms to engineering companies – are also encouraged to network within the region and collaborate with local partners to improve the quality of these large-scale urbanization projects.

Our panellists emphasized the importance of both Canadian and Vietnamese companies to continue leveraging the strong trade and investment partnerships that serve to mutually benefit both countries. Under the CPTPP, the Canada goods and services tax on products from Vietnam – which was previously over 12% – will be reduced to zero. As such, Vietnamese businesses will be able to expand capacity, increase market share, and adopt new technologies, giving both countries opportunities to diversify supply chains in sectors like the textile and garment industry, for which Vietnam is the world’s third largest exporter. 

The governments of Canada and Vietnam are also both working to prioritize further investments into green technology. As electric vehicles become a popular trend in Vietnam’s fast-growing automotive sector, Canada proves to be a valuable partner as a leader in the research and development of automotive components and car technologies. Canada is also an important market for automobile sales, as one of the largest auto-producing countries in the world. 

Following the event, the CABC hosted its virtual Market Entry Workshop and Networking Session tailored to support SMEs and companies interested in entering the Vietnam market. Given Vietnam’s highly regulated business environment, it is important for companies to consider their business case for exporting, identify market opportunities, and ensure that they acquire any required certifications and licenses for their products. Businesses can then proceed to enter the market through four different strategies: 

  1. E-commerce – Although e-commerce platforms work for the right products, they require investment in product localization, including social media, digital content, and packaging. 
  2. Agents/Distributors – Working with local networks help to manage import procedures and logistics, but finding the right agents/distributors to partner with take time and effort.
  3. Outsourcing – With low-cost and low-risk on-the-ground support, outsourcing is a flexible and scalable way to get products out onto the market fast, given the right partners.
  4. Investment – Direct investments require a lot of research and strategic planning into the business’ structures, industry (restricted or conditional), and capital requirements.

Exporting is a commitment that comes with many challenges – companies are encouraged to leverage the wide range of resources and supports available to them in both Canada and Vietnam to help them explore, access, and navigate the Canada-Vietnam business partnership. 

This article is brought to you by the CABC and the Quebec Government Office in Singapore.

Guests of Honour

  • Mr. John Hannaford, Deputy Minister of International Trade, Canada
  • Mr. Do Thang Hai, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade, Vietnam
  • H.E. Ambassador Pham Cao Phong, Ambassador of Vietnam to Canada
  • H.E. Ambassador Deborah Paul, Ambassador of Canada to Vietnam

Panel

Moderator: Ms. Nguyen Viet Ha, Managing Director, Vietnam, BowerGroupAsia 

Speakers:

  • Mr. Vincent Joli-Coeur, Chairman of the Board of Directors, The Infrastructure Council 
  • Mr. Sang Hui Lee, CEO, Manulife Vietnam 
  • Mr. Huynh Du An, CEO, VinFast Canada 
  • Mr. Le Tien Truong, Chairman of the Board, Vietnam National Textile & Garment Group (Vinatex)

This event will be followed by a CABC Market Entry Workshop & Networking session at 10:30am SGT onwards.
This workshop & networking session is exclusively for those attending the webinar. The meeting link will be shared during the webinar.