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Final Workshop in Ho Chi Minh City

The last day in our journey began with Mr. Othmar Hardegger, Consul General of Switzerland in Vietnam opening the workshop by shortly explaining us the task of the Consulate General as well as trade promotion and support for investors in Vietnam. Mr Hardegger explained to us that 80% of the Swiss companies in Vietnam are headquartered in Ho Chi Minh City. The Consul General of Switzerland touched on some fact and figures about Vietnam, for instance, that the inflation rate has fallen from 20% to 3.5% over the last few years and Vietnam has regained stability. He told us that the most Swiss companies are from the commodity trading, IT, pharmaceutical, real estate, engineering and consulting industries. However, the biggest barrier to entry into the Vietnamese economy is still corruption and the various rules of regulation. One of the biggest challenges of the country is the improvement of infrastructures. Mr. Othmar Hardegger said that this would improve the economic situation more rapidly.

Following the presentation of Mr. Othmar Hardegger, Mr. Beat Schürch from Dragon Capital was called to the front to make his speech. He prepared the topic FinTech and doing business in Vietnam. For reasons of time, Mr. Schürch was only able to present FinTech. He told us that Dragon Capital invests in stock market, real estate and start-ups. Its investor includes pension funds, banks, insurance companies and Swiss families. Mr. Schürch indicated us that the North Vietnamese population has more luxurious buying behavior that the South Vietnamese. Another interesting aspect about Vietnam is that the credit card penetration is just 2%. A Vietnamese does not like to get into debt and therefore prefers to borrow money from friends or family.

Soon thereafer, our next guest speaker Mr. Le Van Vinh was called up. He made it clear to us from the beginning that Vietnam is the heart of ASEAN. He drew our attention to the demographic change. He presented us a statistic showing that Vietnam has a very small older generation. The majority of the people are between 20 and 30 years old. Mr. Vinh shared with us some interesting facts and figures about his country. For instance, the GDP growth in Vietnam in recent years averaged 6%. Mr. Vinh summed up the insurance industry briefly. To date, there are 18 insurance companies in Vietnam. The five largest companies account for 80% of the market. Mr. Vinh told us that the insurance industry in Vietnam has an annual growth rate of 30%.

With the end of Mr. Le Van Vinh’s presentation, our project team introduced the roundtable discussion and our numerous high-level speakers answered all questions from the explorers, related to their field of expertise, Vietnam or Southeast Asia in general.

After the workshop, the project team organized a joint lunch in the sky tower. We had the opportunity to ask our guest speakers individual questions. The food was a buffet of Vietnamese and other Asian food. After the joint lunch, the official program was over and the delegation had time to discover Ho Chi Minh City.

Since this was our last evening together, we had decided to spend it together. First, we all went to the Barbecue Garden restaurant to enjoy delicious meat. Each one became a personal grill master. After eating we wanted to test our singing skills and went to a karaoke bar. We sang all night and played songs by Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Eminem. It was an unforgettable evening; too bad it was over so fast.

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