Vietnam new opportunities for Scotland
“So far all the other major countries have sent their leaders to Vietnam, including the United States, twice already. But the UK prime minister? Not yet!” – Bui Thanh Son, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of Vietnam
ASI Chairman Roddy Gow and Mr Bui Thanh Son exchange giftsMr Bui Thanh Son won himself a lot of friends when he visited Edinburgh, as a guest of Asia Scotland Institute.
The Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of Vietnam was upbeat, engaging and positive. As indeed was the news he brought of developments in his home country.
“In the past 30 years or so the average growth of GDP of Vietnam was around seven percent annually,” Mr Son told an audience at the University of Edinburgh Business School.
“In the last three to five years, even while facing the difficulties of the world economy, the growth rate continued to be sustained at around five to six percent.”
Vietnam is a young and vibrant nation. More than half the population is aged under 25. Tourism is increasing by 15 to 25 percent annually. Despite being a poor country, 96 percent of the population is literate.
And all that brings opportunities for Scottish companies and institutions, particularly in the fields of financial services, infrastructure and education, and security and defence.
Mr Son said major reforms are currently under way to restructure Vietnam’s banking system, increase the efficiency of public investments, and improve education and training.
Further growth is expected when Vietnam and the other nine countries of ASEAN become a single regional common market of more than 600 million people at the end of next year.
The UK-Vietnam Strategic Partnership, signed in 2010, also makes it easier for Scots to help Vietnam as it continues its transition from a centrally planned to a market economy.
Benefits for all
And what of our national leaders here in the UK? Are there opportunities in Vietnam for David Cameron and Alex Salmond, too?
“We have increased the exchanges of high-level visits in the past years,” Mr Son said. “But one of the areas where I work with my counterpart here, Mr Hugo Swire, Minister of State at the Foreign Office, is that we should encourage more British leaders to come to Vietnam.
“So far all the other major countries have sent their leaders to Vietnam, including the United States, twice already. But the UK prime minister… not yet!
“We are looking forward to working on that, including getting the support of the business community here.”
Members of Scotland’s business community present at Mr Son’s talk included representatives of global drinks company Diageo and engineering multinational Arup, as well as senior figures from Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce, Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, Creative Scotland and Scottish Water.
“We have to change the way we look at each other,” Mr Son told them. “Increased cooperation will bring benefits to all of us – and contribute to peace and stability as well.”
You can watch Mr Son’s full presentation below. Our thanks go once again to the University of Edinburgh Business School for kindly hosting this ASI event