Opportunities for Kansas Companies in Southeast Asia: Vietnam
In a post-pandemic world, the countries of Southeast Asia are open for business and looking to continue to modernize their economic sectors. In September, our CEO Laura Lombard visited Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam. In this post, we will talk about what we learned about opportunities for Kansas companies in Vietnam.
One of the fastest growing economies in Asia, Vietnam is growing at 7.7% in the post-pandemic environment and its middle class is rapidly expanding. Today, 13% of Vietnam’s population is middle class. It is expected that 26% will reach middle class status within the next three years and as much as 40% by the end of the decade. This is partially driven by a young, educated population. Vietnam’s average age is 31, and young people are engaged in global trends, conversant in English, and in some cases, educated in the U.S. Vietnam is 5th in foreign student population in the U.S. The young and growing middle class population wants U.S. and international products, particularly in the areas of food, e-commerce and digital products, electronics, and other consumer products.
There is significant opportunity in Vietnam for the U.S. agricultural and food sectors. U.S. agricultural exports have increased in value by 40% over the past five years. Vietnam lowered import tariff rates on corn, wheat, pork, and planting seeds. In the case of wheat, the tariff was reduced to 0%. As mentioned above, access to international foods, particularly U.S. foods is increasing as well. As a result, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is actively promoting U.S. agricultural and food products in an initiative called United Taste. Kansas products like sorghum and wheat, along with food products, are included.
The country will need to focus on upgrading its infrastructure to keep up with its economic growth. Its current infrastructure is a significant vulnerability. Lastly, Vietnam is open to tourism but not yet seen as a major destination for U.S. tourists, particularly in comparison with nearby Thailand. However, the country enjoys many of the same attributes (beaches, islands, countryside, mountains, etc.) that could attract a stronger American tourist base and U.S. tourism-related companies could help pave the way.
Interested in learning more about opportunities for your business in Vietnam? Contact us today.