A state-owned Vietnamese industrial park manager is coming to Atlanta to recruit firms eager to capitalize on the country’s manufacturing momentum.
The U.S. office of Becamex IDC Corp., which owns 20 industrial parks across Vietnam including a well-known joint venture with the Singaporean government north of Ho Chi Minh City, is putting on a North American roadshow that will make a stop in Atlanta Oct. 26.
The informational event at the Metro Atlanta Chamber will include one-on-one meetings with Becamex representatives, who will share about the advantages of using an industrial park to tap into Vietnam’s low labor costs. Local companies will also provide testimonials about their experiences in the country, which is emerging as a lower-cost alternative to China in industries ranging from garments to semiconductors.
As if it needed a boost after landing American brands from Gap Inc. to Intel Corp. and General Electric, Vietnam’s fortunes are expected to improve further under the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a 12-country deal finalized a few weeks ago in Atlanta that still requires approval by all partner nations. The deal would eliminate tariffs on most products shipped between those countries; some would be phased out over time.
The garment industry, already covered by a previous U.S. trade agreement, would see expanded access that has some U.S.-based textile manufacturers worried about the TPP, the full text of which still has not been released. As part of the negotiations, Vietnam did agree to adhere to international labor standards, which could add to its extremely low cost base.
But as Becamex comes to Atlanta, it’s electronics and machinery that will outshine garments.
“We chose Atlanta because Atlanta has a lot of small and medium-sized manufacturing companies. We focus on SMEs, because the SME sector is very active. They’re smart and they take action more quickly than the multinationals and big companies,” said Bill Dao, head of Becamex’s Washington state office.
In addition to the chamber luncheon, Mr. Dao told Global Atlanta has appointments with local companies like East West Manufacturing, Solaria Lighting, Hera Lighting, Atlanta Light Bulbs and others. In addition to meeting people at the event, Mr. Dao said he and his team will visit metro area factories to consult with companies on whether Vietnam is right for them.
Few companies here understand what the country has to offer, he said.
“It’s not like in California, it’s not like Houston,” he said.
East West Manufacturing is the exception. The company went to Vietnam in 2008 to diversify away from China and now makes circuit boards, injection-molded plastic pieces and other motor parts in three company-owned buildings in the second Vietnam-Singapore Industrial Park in Binh Duong, the southern Vietnamese province that has aggressively courted foreign businesses.
“We made a great decision at the time, and it’s going to make a lot of money,” says Scott Ellyson, CEO, who employs about 300 people there. “I don’t know what my next Vietnam’s going to be.”
Becamex, established in 1976 and owned by Binh Duong’s communist party-led government, strives to help companies like East West avoid getting tied up in red tape, offering a one-stop shop for environmental permits, business licenses and other approvals.
“We don’t make things complicated for the foreign companies,” Mr. Dao said.
And this engagement is not a one-way street, he added. Binh Duong is seeking American vendors in a massive new city currently under construction.
“It’s like Pudong 25 years ago,” he said, comparing the new area to the Shanghai district that sprouted from soggy rice paddies to become an international finance center in two decades. “Once you build initially, you need a lot of things from the U.S. You need cables, you need telecommunications, you need asphalt for street construction, you need McDonald’s franchises. Vietnamese people love American quality products.”
Target manufacturing industries for the Oct. 26 event include garment and shoe, electronics, machinery, home appliances, food and beverage and more.
Learn more and register by clicking here.