Vietnam – Handling COVID-19, ASEAN Chairmanship & Future Expectations
The Asia-Ready Webinar Series is co-curated with various partners to allow youth to gain a better appreciation of the regional developments and a greater awareness of Singapore’s interconnectivity with the regional markets.
About the Webinar
Dr Nguyen Tuan Anh – Head of Department of Social and Economic Studies at the Institute for Southeast Asian Studies, Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences (ISEAS-VASS) in Hanoi
Ms Nguyễn Ngọc Mỹ (Sylvia Nguyen) – CEO of Alphanam Real Estate JSC, Board Member of Alphanam Group – a conglomerate in Vietnam operating in industrial manufacturing, investment, real estate, and hospitality.
2020 has been a big year for Vietnam. The country took on the role of ASEAN chair and had to navigate the bloc’s priorities through a global pandemic. It has been lauded for its handling of COVID-19, becoming the first country in ASEAN to lift lockdown restrictions.
Vietnam is also seen as a bright spot in Southeast Asia as a strong economic success story, and as a beneficiary of the US-China trade war. This provides opportunities for Singapore which is Vietnam’s third largest foreign direct investor and with existing business ties in areas including industrial parks, finance and information technology.
Moving forward, what are Vietnam’s plans to spur recovery and how can Singapore invest and contribute? What are the thoughts of Vietnam’s next generation business leaders and how can that strengthen relationships with Singapore youths?
This webinar was brought to you by the National Youth Council (NYC) and the Singapore Institute of International Affairs (SIIA).
What We've Learnt
Vietnam’s handling of COVID-19
Vietnam has been lauded as the few countries that managed to handle the pandemic relatively well. While there was much uncertainty in the first wave of cases, the Vietnamese government was decisive and clear in their communication, by utilising Facebook and other modern methods of communication to communicate regularly with the public. One key example is a catchy hand-washing Tik Tok song, which went viral. Vietnam was also quick to close its borders and returning Vietnamese had to be quarantined for 14 days in a dedicated military facility.
Vietnam as ASEAN Chair in 2020
In a poll conducted during the webinar, more than half of the participants indicated they have some knowledge about ASEAN and that the ASEAN community is important to them. As ASEAN chair this year, Vietnam had a challenging year and the theme “Cohesive and Responsive” was put to the test. The pandemic, US-China trade tensions, and domestic political uncertainty in ASEAN member states (AMS) such as Thailand and Malaysia, were some of the challenges Vietnam faced. Both speakers ranked Vietnam’s performance as ASEAN Chair as 8 out of 10, as Vietnam has been largely successful in coordinating between AMS. Vietnam’s significant achievements include hosting virtual summits, the signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement (RCEP) and the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework (ACRF).
Future Expectations for Vietnam
In another poll conducted during the webinar, 22% of participants indicated that if given the opportunity they would want to work in Vietnam and 62% would consider taking the leap. As the region becomes more interconnected, it is important for youths to be aware of the growing economies around us. After many years of building its economy, Vietnam is on a path for growth and the path includes its ASEAN neighbours. As one of the few countries that provided a strong response to the pandemic, Vietnam is expected to continue growing strong. ASEAN is the fourth largest export market for Vietnam and the opportunity for businesses are immense, especially with businesses shifting their supply chains out of China.
The Vietnam Communist Party will be holding their party elections in January and will be describing their policy plans for the next five to ten years. The immediate priority for the government would be to contain the pandemic and manage the impact. Both speakers expect the government to focus on reducing poverty, increasing literacy rate, developing rural areas while pursuing sustainable development.
By Dr Nguyen Tuan Anh and Ms Sylvia Nguyen (Ngọc Mỹ)
As a female CEO, how do you remain strong in your values and beliefs as you traverse through a patriarchal world?
In order to make change, it is sometimes not that difficult. If you see something, say something. If the goal is to have more female CEOs join discussions in order to promote inclusivity, it is very important to acknowledge that women CEOs are equally talented and represent themselves and their business. If you see any discussion that does not seem inclusive, it is important to include other points of view to ensure gender equality and avoid “group think”.
How can ASEAN youths play a part in being more globally impactful?
If we want to drive trade and connectivity, it is important that we understand each other. And there’s no better way to understand each other than to use ASEAN member state’s products, in order to understand more about the culture and the strengths of individual countries. I envision some sort of platform where people from across ASEAN can connect and talk to each other and share their experiences and resources in order for the online and offline experience to work more seamlessly. Travelling would be another way to see for yourselves what each country has to offer. Having partnerships with youth councils across ASEAN would be another way to foster connectivity between ASEAN youths.
What is the employment situation in Vietnam and how are Vietnamese youths responding?
We are facing many challenges in our labour market. There is a mismatch between education and the employment market. Many graduate students are not fulfilling the requirements set by the companies and the Vietnamese youths have to re-educate/ upskill themselves while working.
How do you encourage youths to be more interested in Vietnam?
I would say do not believe everything you read or watch online about Vietnam, but come experience the country for yourself. Seeing is believing, and if you speak to Vietnamese youths, you will see that Vietnam is a very exciting place to be.