Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Hanoi! Ford Assembling Plant and American Chamber of Commerce

This morning we woke up to the sound of the communist propaganda news radio. Refreshed from our trip to Ha Long Bay, we embarked on another business trip to the Ford Assembly plant. When we arrived, the general director Mike Pease and a few of his colleagues greeted us. Throughout the presentation, Mike highlighted that he has been working in Asia for over 20 years and specifically with Ford for 15 years. He explained that economically Vietnam is one of the smallest areas for the auto industry; however, its growing middle class is creating a platform for great success in the future. Currently, cars produced by Ford are considered luxuries in Vietnam. Because of the taxes, a car sold in Australia may cost around $25,000, while a car sold in Vietnam may cost $50,000.
Another key part of the presentation explored one of Ford’s initiatives, Project 30. Project 30’s goal is to improve the regulatory environment in Vietnam by reducing the costs and risks of administrative procedures, producing concrete results, and transforming the government’s ability to effectively manage the market economy.

After the presentation, we took a tour of the plant. From the frame of the car to the placement of the seats and accessories, we saw how the car was made from start to finish.  Thirty minutes later, we found ourselves eating in the canteen with some of the local plant workers. The visit ended with a group picture with Mike and another bus ride back to the hotel.

Our second visit of the day was with members of the American Chambers of Commerce in Vietnam. We met with representatives from the Associated Press, T & C Investment, Indochina Capital, ExxonMobil, and VNCI (Vietnam Competitiveness Initiative). This meeting was more of a question and answer session. We discussed various topics pertaining to lobbying in Vietnam, the Communist government, corruption, taxation on foreign goods, and their relations with other foreign countries. One of the biggest points we discussed was the overlapping of Confucianism and Communism. Both entities focus on controlling the population. Confucius believed that people should be less educated so the Communist government can have more control over them. Because the Communist party is so controlling this prevents efficient business practices in Vietnam. We ended this meeting with eating dinner with the American Chamber of Commerce members. After this meeting we were free to do explore Vietnam.

Some headed back to the hotel while others ventured out to interact with the locals. While shopping for North Face bags and Jackets, a couple of us encountered a group of little girls selling postcards. The night consisted of everybody cramming their bags for our next adventure in Hue, Vietnam!

Ashley Gill & Lauren Beckham

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