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Having just returned from a visit to Vietnam, Ron Ainsbury has seen first-hand the trade opportunities that exist there for New Zealand exporters.

I was enjoying my first post-COVID visit to Vietnam recently. As I entered a Japanese supermarket in Hanoi, I was offered slices of apple to try by one of the supermarket staff. It turned out to be a New Zealand apple. I looked around the supermarket to see if there were any other Kiwi products on sale. The refrigerated meat section included produce from the US and Australia, but I could see no New Zealand lamb.

In my travels around Vietnam there were few signs of New Zealand products. I enjoyed a New Zealand ice cream and I saw the New Zealand flag flying over a multi-country festival in the centre of Ho Chi Minh City. But not much else.

In November, as reported in ExporterToday, Prime Minister Ardern opened the first Ecostore flagship store in Ho Chi Minh City.

In August 2019 I wrote an article for ExporterToday entitled “Vietnam opens its doors”, with the goal of encouraging Kiwi exporters to look at the opportunities there.

Those opportunities still exist.


Time to look again?

Statistics are favourable with two-way trade between New Zealand and Vietnam on an upward trend (see table below).

I wonder whether now is the time, after all the COVID interruption, for New Zealand businesses to look again at trade opportunities with Vietnam.

Earlier this month I surveyed more than 150 of my Vietnamese students and discovered some interesting facts. The most used adjectives to describe New Zealand were “scenic” and “peaceful” and, of course, “clean and sustainable”. There were references to fruit and Lord of the Rings – but also words like “mysterious” and “potential”.

Potential! I wonder how many New Zealand businesses appreciate the potential market that is Vietnam?


The new Vietnam

Vietnam’s population is approaching 100 million. It is a young country with 29 percent of its population under the age of 20 and some 46 percent between the ages of 20 and 50.

Updating data for one of my lectures I was surprised to learn that in 2021 the number of US$ millionaires in Vietnam rose to just under 69,895. That’s up 218 percent from 2017.

More importantly for many exporters, the number of households with a monthly income of US$1,000 topped 1.5 million, up 24 percent from 2017.

If you’re keen to start exploring opportunities for your products and services, you can begin online.

Vietnam is a wireless nation. Ninety-seven percent of adults have a smartphone. There’re more than 70 million people on Facebook and 64 million using Zalo (the local equivalent of WhatsApp).

Vietnam’s Internet economy has experienced significant growth in recent times, with the annual

Gross Merchandise Volume (GMV) reaching US$21 billion in 2021.

Most importantly, Vietnam is a wonderful country to visit. Go on. Have a short holiday there and while you enjoy the hospitality, scenery, historical sites and the food, make sure you explore all the opportunities for your products and services.


Ron Ainsbury is an internationally-experienced executive, consultant and coach. After some 20 years based abroad, he is now based in the Wairarapa, from where he consults on business. He is a director of Ecadame, which has launched the innovative primary industry training business, Ron is also a regular visitor to Vietnam where he advises SMEs, coaches entrepreneurs, and lectures university business students.

Glenn Baker

Glenn is a professional writer/editor with 50-plus years’ experience across radio, television and magazine publishing.


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