Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc looked very happy during a visit to an industrial park last weekend. He talked to workers about their health and examined the speakers being produced in factories.
The visit was part of a government campaign to reopen Vietnam’s economy after containing the disease COVID-19. There is very little sign of the novel coronavirus in Vietnam. The nation has gone over six weeks without an infection, helping it to open earlier than other Southeast Asian nations.
HSBC bank used the term “Pho'nomenal Vietnam” when talking about the country, a reference to the well-known Vietnamese soup. In a report last week, the bank said Vietnam is the only Southeast Asian economy that will grow in 2020.
Devendra Joshi and Herald van der Linde are investment experts at HSBC. They noted in the report that the trade arguments between other nations are creating opportunities that will help Vietnam’s economy.
The trade tensions between China and the United States is just one example. Because of tariffs, goods in both nations have become more costly. Many companies moved their factories from China to Vietnam to escape the taxes. So Vietnam became the unexpected winner in the trade war.
The coronavirus also helped Vietnam’s economy in unexpected ways. When China took action to stop the virus, international supply chains suddenly stopped. Businesses looked to Vietnam as a supplier, and money flowed into the economy.
When the coronavirus hit Vietnam, forcing schools and companies to close, the economy slowed, but continued to grow at a yearly rate of 3.8 percent.
Experts say COVID-19 provides one more reason why companies should set up operations in Vietnam. When the supply chain stopped, companies around the world found that having one supplier – China – could damage their businesses. Since then, many have invested in Vietnam for the long-term.
The government of Vietnam ended its stay-at-home order for most of the country in the middle of April.
Since then people have returned to work and school with new social-distancing measures in place.
Businesses have also changed. Ford Vietnam no longer accepts cash, and price discussion takes place online. The company also disinfects each car when it is sold or repaired.
Pham Van Dung is the general director of Ford Vietnam. He told VOA that the company thinks of “keeping the safety of our employees, agents, customers and partners first.”
Some startup companies in Vietnam see new opportunities coming from the coronavirus crisis. In Ho Chi Minh City, a startup company called Vibeji created a teaching website. Anyone can make money by offering educational videos about any subject – from cooking to playing games.
This is a good time to social distance and work from home, the company said.
“We all should play a part during this difficult time,” said Tri Lecao. He is the chief executive officer of Vibeji.
I’m Susan Shand.
The Voice of America reported this story. Susan Shand adapted it for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.
Words In This Story
admire – v. to openly compliment something
customer – n. one who buys things
tariff – n. a tax placed on items sold from one country to another
cash – n. paper or coin money
disinfect – v. to remove germs
supply chain – n. the system used by international businesses to buy parts as they are needed
park – n. an area of land set aside for play or work
reference – n. to speak about something