Vietnam is seen as an attractive destination for investment. We are introducing ourselves as people who "want to play" with the world in a transparent, legal manner.
Dr. Vo Tri Thanh, Director of the Institute of Branding and Competition Strategy, former Deputy Director of the Central Institute of Economic Management, talks with VietNamNet about the national brand.
The brands valued at millions of USD
There have been many changes in the world, including strategic changes caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. How do you see Vietnam's current position in the international arena?
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, Vietnam underwent very meaningful changes. The economy saw a dramatic change in speed. Vietnam turned from a poor country to a middle-income country. Vietnam was relatively successful in hunger eradication and poverty reduction and realizing millennium goals.
Dr. Vo Tri Thanh. Photo: Pham Hai
The second is the increasing emergence of the middle classes. From an agricultural country which is still strong in agriculture today, the economic structure of Vietnam is shifting more to service industries.
The third is starting as a small, closed economy, Vietnam has become one of the developed countries in some fields and the most open country in the world.
Thr role of the private economy is growing, not only in quantity. In the past 5-7 years, large private enterprises have shifted towards industrial production and creative industries, and Vietnam has had brands worth millions or billions of USD.
In terms of institutions, this is a very difficult road because the Vietnamese economy used to be a command economy and bureaucratic. Now it is basically an economy operating on a market mechanism. Certainly, Vietnam is still a developing economy, and the transition still has a lot to do.
In terms of integration, Vietnam has gone from a closed economy to integration. We are introducing ourselves and showing us as people who "want to play" with the world in a dignified and transparent manner, through the signing of a series of high quality free trade agreements such as TTP, CPTTP, EVFTA ... Along with that is the fact that Vietnam has a cooperative relationship and,m partnerships on a high level, ie, as a partner with almost all major countries, strategic partners, comprehensive partners...
The Covid-19 pandemic has two major impacts: Negative impact on the world economy, including Vietnam, which can slow development and changes in Vietnam. It also impacts all trends such as geopolitics, lifestyle, consumption, technology, value chain, way of integration ...
In the first aspect, we have to manage ourselves to overcome difficulties, not only overcoming difficulties in anti-epidemic, in supporting businesses but in this challenging context, we must take into account the problem of economic restructuring, continue reform to keep pace with new demands, to deal with difficulties.
Looking at the behavior of Vietnam domestically and internationally, I personally think that Vietnam still faces many difficulties, but the world view towards Vietnam is more positive and more respectful. It is clear that Vietnam is also extremely affected by the pandemic. However, despite the decline in economic growth, Vietnam’s situation is still quite good compared to the region and the world, even in terms of epidemic control and economic growth, or restricting negative social impacts.
Secondly, the image of Vietnam in trade and investment. The world is moving, especially the value chain. And Vietnam is seen as an attractive destination for not only a business but a strategic choice. An example is that the Japanese Government is giving support to their firms to shift their factories and half of them have chosen Vietnam as a destination.
|Many leading economic groups in the world choose Vietnam as destination|
For South Korea, in the look-south policy, Vietnam is also a destination, a strategic choice. Even in trade tensions between major countries, Vietnam's attraction to investors is acknowledged.
The other thing that is also appreciated is Vietnam’s reasonable and flexible behavior in international cooperation. When Vietnam assumed the ASEAN Chairmanship, the Covid-19-pandemic had not occurred yet, but in a moving world, this year's ASEAN theme "solidarity and adaptation" is very relevant.
And we are moving very rapidly both in terms of commitment and real action, such as anti-epidemic cooperation, digital transformation, restricting the fragmentation of supply chains and value chains to help businesses overcome difficulties.
Although there are certain limitations, it is clear that in the difficult time, Vietnam has tried hard to do much. The world not only highly appreciates the efforts but also the effectiveness and efficiency of Vietnam’s organization and manner.
Vietnamese competitive identity
Simon Anholt was the first to introduce the concept of "national brand" and consider it as a competitive identity for each country. What are the highly competitive identities of Vietnam in the current context, in your opinion?
When it comes to branding, there are a few important things. The first is awareness, feeling. Higher is knowledge, belief, then action and then dissemination. Vietnam has had a national brand building program since early 2000. Initially, it was associated with large firms, but recently was upgraded for both small and medium enterprises and as well as localities.
Vietnam is integrating very strongly, daring to play and becoming more and more confident in that game.
Vietnam is considered a country with great potential for development. Besides efforts on reform, connection and stability, there are also Vietnamese culture and traditions.
The second thing is the attempt to gradually erase the world's previous impression of Vietnam as a poor country and a country of war.
The third is the story of integration. We have integrated very strongly, dared to play and become more and more confident in that game. Back at the time Vietnam signed a bilateral trade agreement with the United States, it took years for many reasons. But there was also a reason that at that time we worried that we could not catch up with or play with the developed US economy. In 2000, two-way trade was around $1 billion.
Today the United States has become Vietnam's leading export market, with bilateral trade reaching more than $70 billion. This shows that we are much more confident and that confidence has pushed us to open the door for strong integration. Vietnam will be more attractive if it continues on that path of reform and integration.
Dr. Vo Tri Thanh: Vietnamese brands will shine when the country strives to reform and innovate. Photo: Pham Hai
Let the Vietnamese brand shine
How should Vietnam approach the issue of national brand building in the strategic vision to 2045 that the Party General Secretary and President Nguyen Phu Trong pointed out that Vietnam will become a developed, high-income country?
The most important thing about brand building is to create trust, feeling, understanding, positive reviews and thereby action to connect. The destination is still in an increasingly modern process of innovation.
We have already discussed many aspects of this process and we must continue to explore it. At a higher level it is international cooperation in opening up for integration of Vietnam to achieve the ultimate result in the development of the country.
Our contribution to the international community and the world is also the process of building Vietnam's brand image. This began in 1945 as President Ho Chi Minh said that Vietnam has to “stand shoulder to shoulder with the great powers of the five continents".
President Ho Chi Minh said these words when the country had to fight hunger and ignorance but now, despite the challenges or weaknesses, the position of Vietnam is different, the Vietnamese people are more eager, understand themselves better, and they better understand the value to do with themselves and the world.
The Vietnamese brand will be gradually absorbed and shine more and more when the country makes effective reform and innovation efforts.
The national brand will help build a new flag to turn all Vietnamese people around the world to look forward a common vision.
One of the important decisions made by many countries is to implement a methodical strategy to build and promote a national brand.