Vietnam is currently going through a growth spurt while entering an era with more modern and people-centred considerations rising in prevalence. What role does “soft power” play in GDP growth as well as regional and global success?
|Vu Ba Phu, director general of the Vietnam Trade Promotion Agency under the Ministry of Industry and Trade|
Vietnam’s soft power stems from not only the promotion of its own values such as the heroic history, rich culture and traditions, and pacifist foreign policy but also the development and optimisation of a range of new positions and advantages.
Amid the difficulties of 2020, the successful dispensing of its dual role as both ASEAN chair and non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council is testament to the successful application of soft power in Vietnam’s foreign policy. In 2020, the world lauded Vietnam’s rapid response and contributions to regional and international affairs thanks to its ability to grasp opportunities, taking the initiative in coping with dynamic situations and ensuring economic recovery while promoting multilateralism and international solidarity to get through the COVID-19 crisis.
Vietnam not only dived deeper into the global economy and made increasing contributions to shaping the ground rules of international organisations, it also prepared for further comprehensive integration. Possibly the greatest achievements were extending Vietnam’s diplomatic relations to 187 out of 193 member states of the United Nations while completing negotiating and signing new-generation free trade agreements (FTAs), making the country an integral factor in all regional and intra-regional economic links.
With these steps, Vietnam is now one of the most open economies in the world, with the ratio of foreign trade to GDP increasing from 136 per cent in 2010 to approximately 200 per cent in 2019. Amid COVID-19 shutdowns in early 2020, Vietnam was among the very few countries to achieve positive GDP growth of nearly 3 per cent.
Vietnam’s soft power is a combination of many factors and has made significant contributions to increasing its prestige and position in the regional and international arena.
Branding is a strong tool for advocacy among global stakeholders. How is Vietnam globalising its homegrown brands?
In today’s continuously evolving economy, the greater a brand’s recognition in the international market, the more strength it provides to its country. Notably, branding will play a crucial role as Vietnam steps up participation in more and more new-generation FTAs.
Recognising this, the Vietnam Value Programme, launched in 2003, is the government’s unique and long-term trade promotion programme aiming to build Vietnam’s image as a country of high-quality products and services, to increase the pride and attraction of the country and its people, and to boost foreign trade and national competitiveness.
As the programme management agency, the Ministry of Industry and Trade of Vietnam (MoIT) has been actively supporting Vietnamese enterprises to improve their capacity through business development consultancy, establishing information systems, and updating branding knowledge. Promotion and public relations have also received a lot of attention to increase public and international awareness about the programme and Vietnam Value products through various channels.
The MoIT also builds and promotes geographical indications and collective trademarks from across the country in foreign markets, improving competitiveness of businesses based on a reputation for quality, environmentally-friendly production, and professionalism, thereby consolidating the position of Vietnamese brands globally.
Thanks to the support of the programme, many Vietnamese corporations and businesses have become aware of the importance of branding. Enterprises have gradually learned to promote their brands professionally, improving their competitiveness and reaffirming their position in the domestic and foreign markets.
Many outstanding Vietnamese brands have resonated with regional and international consumers and partners. For example, Viettel is in the globe’s top 15 in terms of mobile subscribers and the top 40 in terms of revenue. Meanwhile, Truong Hai Auto Corporation is gradually rising to the top position in the ASEAN region and state-owned Khanh Hoa Salanganes Nest One Member LLC has the largest swiftlet exploitation output. TH Group is the first Vietnamese company to successfully penetrate the Chinese market, the second-largest dairy consumption market in the world.
All these successes by individual brands have been continuously raising Vietnam’s national brand to a stronger global position.
How has COVID-19 impacted Vietnam’s international relations?
The far-reaching impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have pushed many countries into a health and economic crisis. Despite the unprecedented challenges, Vietnam has been one of the world’s success stories in getting the outbreak under control, maintaining socioeconomic stability, and promoting bilateral and multilateral diplomatic activities. The initial great successes in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic were due to the successful combination of the nation’s strength, in which soft power played a significant role.
Vietnam has proactively deployed its diplomatic strategy to orchestrate COVID-19 response, committed and stood ready to share information, and donated medical supplies to countries in need. The message of leaving no-one behind is one of the most vivid demonstrations of Vietnam’s wielding of soft power, proving the Vietnamese spirit of solidarity. That humanitarian spirit is also reflected in the help provided to overseas Vietnamese to return or the messages foreigners have posted about how fortunate they feel to be staying in the country during the outbreak.
Its effective anti-pandemic policies, along with the responsibility and dignity Vietnam has shown on the international stage, have been highly appreciated by international friends.
How will this successful use of soft power be turned into economic gains?
With the efforts of the government and the collaboration of the Vietnamese people to prevent and control the pandemic, Vietnam is now well-known as a safe country. This renown makes it easy for Vietnam to draw international investment, events, and tourists, which bring great opportunities for economic development.
Not only that, Vietnam has succeeded in turning the challenges of the COVID-19 crisis into advantages to enhance the image of Vietnamese products and national brands. Vietnam has defied the global trend with its brand value skyrocketing 29 per cent on-year, from $247 billion to $319 billion, ranking 33rd among the world’s top 100 national brands, and being the fastest-growing national brand in 2020.
Soft power is an extremely valuable asset for Vietnam to turn challenges into opportunities. In the midst of difficulties, Vietnam’s use of soft power was not weakened but became stronger than ever. Thanks to strong social consensus, national solidarity, and unity, Vietnam has gained impressive achievements which effectively improved its image in the international arena.
What are Vietnam’s goals for the next decade in terms of building up its soft power capabilities?
Vietnam aspires to achieve comprehensive innovation and extensive international integration, to become a country with modern industries and high average income by 2030, then a developed country with high income by 2045. To reach higher international stature, soft power will play an even more cardinal role, requiring efforts from the entire political system, each enterprise, and each Vietnamese citizen.
Firstly, Vietnam needs to create a systematic and long-term plan to promote soft power. It is also necessary to improve growth quality and labour productivity, and to promote creative industries, thereby improving the competitiveness of the economy as a whole.
At the same time, it is necessary to continue to preserve and promote the diverse and rich values of Vietnamese culture. Concurrently, studies and assessments by experts drawing comments from the community will also pave the way to pick out the unique, remarkable cultural elements for focused investment and development, thereby making great contributions to Vietnam’s socioeconomic development.
Vietnam should also increase its use of soft power in diplomacy. Globalisation is creating ever more complex interdependencies and in this environment, regional and global diplomacy should concentrate on leadership and mediation through softer means.
It will also be necessary to prioritise and focus investment on scientific and technological development to ensure Vietnam’s competitiveness. The creation of high-quality and highly competitive products requires proper appreciation of ICT in building national soft power as well as applying new and innovative technologies in production.
In addition to building and promoting soft power, Vietnam also needs to strengthen its hard power to create synergies, creating “smart power” in the new era to enhance integration and enhance its global strategic and economic position.
Vietnam rises in global soft power rankings
Vietnam has moved up three places to 47th in the Global Soft Power Index for 2021, which ranks the world’s top 60 soft power nations, it was revealed last week.
According to the Brand Finance report, Vietnam was the only country in ASEAN to earn an upgrade in the rankings.
Vietnam has been considered a bright spot globally thanks to the increasing value of its national brand, along with socioeconomic results reached during a tough 2020. As an obvious highlight, according to the report, Vietnam objectively managed COVID-19 extremely well. The country was spared a year of lockdowns and besieged hospitals, and has one of the lowest infection and death rates in the world.
Not only has the response to the pandemic been impressive, given its shared border with China, but Vietnam also experienced one of the highest economic growth rates globally in 2020.
Commenting on the achievement, Samir Dixit, managing director of Brand Finance Asia-Pacific, stressed that economic growth in the 21st century is all about sustained collaborations amongst various stakeholders and the correlation of perceptions of the nation brand with the brands from the country, which can truly enhance the country’s soft power, both internally and externally – something which Dixit says Vietnam seems to be managing well.
At a national level, Vietnam had established diplomatic relations with 187 out of 193 member states of the United Nations and completed the process of negotiating and signing new-generation free trade agreements, making the country an important factor in all regional and intra-regional economic links, which is a booster for Vietnam’s imports and exports.
Dixit added that the Vietnam Value Programme management agency, through the Ministry of Industry and Trade, has actively supported Vietnamese enterprises to improve their capacity through consulting business development, establishing information systems, and updating branding knowledge.
All these initiatives and efforts have helped increase the awareness of the public, international consumers, and customers about the programme and products through various domestic and international media channels.
“Thanks to the efforts of the Vietnam Value Programme, Vietnam’s processed food industry now contributes upwards of $17 billion of the country’s exports, and the apparel industry makes up over $22 billion of Vietnam’s exports. These economic contributions are absolutely crucial for Vietnam’s overall growth, its reputation, and contribution to Vietnam’s soft power,” he added.
The Global Soft Power Index covers over 75,000 respondents in 100 countries, and aggregates how the world views the top soft power nations, as well as enables a more granular snapshot of nation-to-nation attitudes. The findings are often deemed crucial for governments seeking to better manage their national brands and improves their soft power metrics.
By Van Nguyen
The Taiwan Food and Drug Administration (TFDA) has announced a list of 697 Vietnamese seafood enterprises permitted to export their products to Taiwan, reported the Vietnam Association of Seafood Processors and Exporters (VASEP).
|Taiwan has mainly imported from Vietnam frozen/fresh tiger and white-leg shrimp and frozen pangasius fillet. Photo baodansinh.vn|
This list of eligible Vietnamese seafood enterprises is valid from February 23, 2021, according to the TFDA’s announcement sent to the Vietnam Economic and Cultural Office in Taipei, the association said.
The VASEP said Taiwan is not among the top 10 seafood export markets of Vietnam. But this market also has a relatively stable seafood import value from Vietnam with more than US$100 million per year, accounting for 1.3 to 1.8 per cent of national total seafood exports in recent years.
This market mainly imports frozen/fresh tiger and white-leg shrimp, frozen pangasius fillet, processed shrimp, surimi, squid and octopus from Vietnam.
However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, seafood export turnover to this market in the first half of 2020 decreased by 14 per cent compared to the same period the year before, reaching $50.5 million. Of which, the export value fell by 18 per cent for shrimp to $27 million, 27 per cent for pangasius to nearly $10 million and 4 per cent for other seafood products to $22 million.
According to the General Department of Customs, in 2020, Vietnam’s seafood export value to Taiwan was $120 million.
Before the pandemic, Nam Viet Joint Stock Company gained an export value of between $5-6 million each year from exporting pangasius to Taiwan.
However, since due to the worldwide COVID-19 outbreak, the company’s seafood exports to Taiwan have declined. Therefore, it has focused on key markets such as the US and the EU or potential markets in Asia like Thailand and Malaysia that have similar value exports and are also members of the CPTPP agreement, Do Thi Thu Thuy, Nam Viet’s business manager, said.
The Thuan Phuoc Fishery and Trading Joint Stock Company has also faced a reduction in seafood exports to Taiwan due to lower purchasing during the pandemic.
The company will focus on larger markets and ignore this Asian market, said Tran Van Linh, Thuan Phuoc JSC chairman.
According to experts, it is completely reasonable for local seafood enterprises to focus on major markets. The attraction from the EVFTA makes more and more businesses in the seafood industry concentrate on exploiting the European market.
However, although the export value of seafood to Taiwan is not high, the demand for seafood in this market is increasing. This is an opportunity for Vietnamese businesses.
The VASEP also noted that to export to Taiwan, the businesses’ products need small packaging, nice design and full instructions for use. In addition, when entering the Taiwanese market, they need to pay attention to advertising.
The experts say that besides the large markets, local enterprises should still maintain smaller markets. Diversifying markets will help them to achieve the long-term goal of sustainable development. VNS
HÀ NỘI — Việt Nam have never won a gold medal in the men’s walking event at the regional Southeast Asian (SEA) Games despite having previously qualified for the Olympics in the sport.
Phùng Kim Quang is on a mission to change that.
Walking was little more than a blip on the Vietnamese sporting radar until siblings Nguyễn Thị Thanh Phúc and Nguyễn Thành Ngưng pocketed gold and bronze in the women’s and men’s races at the 25th Games in 2011.
Since then, with better support, Việt Nam have dominated the women’s discipline with four titles. However, the men’s crown is still out of the reach despite three silver medals.
Teenager Quang is the big Vietnamese hope in the sport after recording some outstanding performances at recent domestic competitions.
He is the record holder of the junior tournament and in the top three of the national championship.
Quang was born in Ba Vì District, in the outskirts of Hà Nội, in 2003.
The naughty little boy loved and played well in all sports such as badminton, shuttlecock, football and track-and-field. After dominating school competitions he became a member of the district athletics team.
Two years later, Quang was among several boys introduced to the walking event, a new sport in the city in 2015. His coach Nguyễn Văn Toản did not pick him at first but when the team did not have enough athletes, Quang was recruited after a second trial.
But Toản, who coached Phạm Thị Thu Trang to the SEA Games women’s title in 2019, gradually found the thin boy was suitable for the sport in which posture is of prime importance while arm, shoulder and leg actions must be well controlled to ensure balance.
After four years in the sport, Quang grabbed his first gold at the National Youth Athletics Championship and a bronze in the National Athletics Championship in 2019.
A year later, the 17-year-old defended his title at the junior 5,000m event and set a new record of 23min 14.21sec, 11 seconds than the old record of 23:14.32 by Dương Hữu Tín of Nghệ An Province in 2013.
“It is a record but I was not very happy. I expected to walk under 22 minutes but the result was more than 23 minutes. I considered it a failure because I could not do it again as I am overage next year,” Quang told Việt Nam News .
A month later he finished third with a time of 1:37:03 at the National Athletics Championship’s 20km walk.
Despite his strong effort, Quang who suffered a leg injury, could not surpass senior athletes Nguyễn Thành Ngưng and Võ Xuân Vĩnh at the finish line.
“I was really nervous when competing against such experienced rivals although it was my second time. Ngưng and Vĩnh are my seniors and idols. They have won national and international medals,” said Quang.
“However, I have learnt many things from them. From what they knew, they told me how to get better. Ngưng used to tell me ‘effort does not make success immediately, but if you try hard you will make it’. I have pinned it in my mind and will work harder to get better. I will find success by the end of the road,” he said.
Despite the third-place finish, Quang has been tipped for a big future.
“We will invest in Quang with an expectation that he will bring home regional and continental victories and even further he could reach world level if possible,” said Lại Phúc Lộc, deputy director of the Hà Nội Sports and Training Centre.
“We have set plans to send athletes including Quang to compete in open events in Thailand and Singapore (when the COVID-19 pandemic is controlled). Our goal is that Quang will secure a berth in the national team and have a high result in the coming SEA Games,” he added.
It is a huge job for Quang to vie for the national team slot against tough opponents. Ngưng has won the national title for 11 years in a row along with a SEA Games bronze and became the first and only Southeast Asian walker to win an Olympic berth in 2016. The Đà Nẵng-based athlete has vowed not to retire until he wins a SEA Games gold.
Vĩnh is also a big challenge he has finished behind Ngưng many times. He has even outperformed Ngưng in the SEA Games with three silvers in 2013, 2015 and 2019.
The only thing that Quang has on his side is his youth. He will be 18 while Ngưng 29 and Vĩnh 30 at the coming Games.
“My current result does not push me to the national senior team. But it will be my target now. I will have to improve my strength and technique. I also have to decrease my time because I want not only to be part of the coming big tournament but also win a medal,” Quang said. VNS
Twelve outlets of Big C, the long-standing supermarket brand run by Thailand’s Central Group, has had its brand identity changed after 22 years in Vietnam.
According to the announcement of Central Retail, which is Central Group’s retail subsidiary, seven Big C supermarkets inside apartment buildings were renamed Tops Market, while five Big C hypermarkets were changed to GO!
Among that, three Big C supermarkets inside apartment complexes in Ho Chi Minh City, including Big C An Phu, Big C Thao Dien, and Big C Au Co, were the first to have been relabeled.
Four Big C supermarkets of the same type in Hanoi, including Big C The Garden, Big C Ha Dong, Big C Nguyen Xien, and Big C Le Trong Tan are set to follow suit by the third quarter of this year.
Meanwhile, all five Big C hypermarkets have been rebranded since the end of December last year.
The brand identity change took place nearly five years behind the Thai retail giant’s schedule as the firm had originally planned to do so immediately after its acquisition of Big C Vietnam from France’s Groupe Casino in 2016.
However, the transition was not easy as Big C was a familiar brand name that had given Vietnamese consumers a long-lasting and trustworthy impression.
It also marked the disappearance of the Big C brand after 22 years of existence in Vietnam.
Big C started its presence in Vietnam in 1998 as a subsidiary of Groupe Casino.
In addition to relabeling existing Big C hypermarkets to GO!, Central Retail already built new GO! hypermarkets in My Tho City in Tien Giang Province, Ben Tre City in the namesake province, Tra Vinh City in the namesake province, Buon Ma Thuot City in Dak Lak Province, and Quang Ngai City in the eponymous province last year.
Big C was founded by Central Group in 1993. It has operations in four countries, namely Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia.
As of 2019, Big C had operated 153 hypermarkets, 63 supermarkets, and 1,018 Mini Big C stores, according to Bangkok Post .
The Hanoitimes – Vietnam-made satellite weighs some four kilos and belongs to the CubeSat category, a type of miniaturized satellite for space research that is made up of multiple 10 cm × 10 cm × 10 cm modules.
Vietnam-made micro-satellite NanoDragon will go through a final test this month before it is put into orbit this September.
Developed and built by the Vietnam National Space Center (VNSC) engineers, NanoDragon is set to be sent to the Kyushu Institute of Technology in Japan between March 8-22, to undergo quality control before being launched into the orbit, VNSC director Pham Anh Tuan said on March 2.
Engineers at the Vietnam National Space Center works on the NanoDragon satellite. Photo: VNSC
The satellite weighs some four kilos and belongs to the CubeSat category, a type of miniaturized satellite for space research that is made up of multiple 10 cm × 10 cm × 10 cm modules.
In Japan, NanoDragon will undergo further tests in a simulating environment. Following the completion of these tests, the satellite is due to be returned to Vietnam before being launched by the Japanese Epsilon missile in September at free cost in line with the “Innovative satellite technology demonstration” program.
NanoDragon is the product of Vietnam’s nano-sized micro-satellite project for the 2016-2020 period, the VNSC director said, adding that its main task will be to integrate an Automatic Identification System (AIS) used for the purpose of tracking and monitoring vessels at sea.
Besides, it will make use of an optical imaging device in order to verify the quality of the satellite posture controller while operating in orbit, Anh Tuan added.
Currently, the VNSC engineers are putting the finishing touches to installing the ground station which will operate the satellite following its launch.
The VNSC is a pioneer agency in the country that researches and develops modern space technologies that aim to support economic development and environmental protection locally.
In addition to NanoDragon, the VNSC in 2013 researched and manufactured the PicoDragon satellite which weighs one kilogram, along with the MicroDragon satellite which weighs five kilos, both of which proved to be highly-successful projects. PicoDragon was Vietnam’s first indigenous satellite sent into space.
Vietnam is one of the countries in the world to be most affected by global warming and climate change. Space services and technologies will help the nation to gain a better understanding of climate change whilst supporting the process of monitoring and prevention of natural disasters, thereby contributing to mitigating their consequences.