In its 2022 ASEAN Business Outlook Survey, AmCham Singapore members indicated Vietnam is the top APAC country companies are considering expansion in (30%), followed by Malaysia (25%), Thailand (24%) and Indonesia (23%). Continued strong economic growth, ongoing reform, and a large population of almost 100 million – half of which are under the age of thirty – have combined to create a dynamic and quickly evolving commercial environment in Vietnam. Sales of equipment, technologies and consulting and management services associated with growth in Vietnam’s industrial and export sectors and implementation of major infrastructure projects continue to be a major source of commercial activity and interest for U.S. firms. In terms of infrastructure, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) released figures in April 2017 that mark Vietnam’s public and private infrastructure investment as the highest in Southeast Asia, accounting for an average of 5.7% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).
In 2022, Vietnam’s per capita GDP was USD 4,086. The Vietnamese government’s stated goal is to increase this to at least USD 18,000 by 2035. With disposable income levels in major urban areas four to five times the national average, significant opportunities in the consumer goods and services sectors are fast emerging. This is evidenced by strong growth in the number of Vietnamese students attending university in the United States, and the growing number of middle-class Vietnamese that are choosing the United States as a vacation destination.
Telecommunications, information technology, power generation, transportation infrastructure construction, environmental project management and technology, aviation, defense, and education will continue to offer the most promising opportunities for U.S. companies over the short term as infrastructure needs continue to expand with Vietnam’s pursuit of rapid economic development. Healthcare will also be a growing sector as the government expands programs and an increasingly wealthy population spends more on medical treatment.
The Government of Vietnam (GVN) plays a significant role in the economy, with state-owned enterprises (SOEs) making up 29% of GDP. The GVN strategy to “equitize” (partially privatize) SOEs in all sectors of the economy is slowly moving forward. While the GVN will maintain majority ownership in the largest and most sensitive sectors of the economy – including energy, telecommunications, aviation, and banking – the equitization process could present opportunities for U.S. companies.
Key U.S. agricultural inputs to production such as hardwood lumber, cotton, hides, skins, and feed ingredients will also continue to play a key role in helping to fuel Vietnam’s export led manufacturing strategy and as noted earlier, are responsible for U.S. agricultural products accounting for nearly half of total exports to Vietnam. Demand continues to also grow for consumption of products such as meat, dairy, and fresh and dried fruits.