Speaking at a virtual conference called ‘Invest in Vietnam. Wins and challenges’ organised by Adamed and Davipharm last week, Nguyen Hai Minh, partner at Mazars and Vice Chairman of EuroCham, said: “In Vietnam, FDI plays an important role, contributing a lot to the growth of the country, especially exports.”
There was a slowdown in foreign investment in the country due to COVID-19 this year, and some people were even concerned that foreign investors would not come or even move out of the country, he said.
“So Eurocham did a survey in August. It showed that 18% of surveyed companies have already shifted part of their production to other countries and another 16% are still considering.
“But we need to be very specific here to have a correct understanding of the situation. Companies actually are not moving factories or investment out of Vietnam, but just part of their production and orders.
“We talked to many companies. [Many said] ‘COVID will not last long, we see Vietnam is still a good location for investment.' Many companies are even looking at Vietnam as a hub for sales in the region.”
Michal Wieczorek, CEO of Davipharm, said he saw a great opportunity in Vietnam’s pharmaceutical market.
Domestically produced drugs only met 47% of demand, healthcare spending was expected to continue to grow, there was an ageing population with an increase in non-communicable diseases, and there was growth in the private hospital sector, he said.
Vietnam’s pharmaceutical market would remain one of the fastest growing in the world, he said.
When in 2017 Adamed bought 70% of shares in Davipharm, becoming the biggest direct Polish investor in Vietnam, it had a crystal-clear strategy, he said.
Despite pandemic challenges, the company succeeded in achieving the EU-GMP certification for the drug manufacturing line in its factory in Binh Duong.
“With this EU-GMP certification, we are ready to achieve our other ambitious goals,” he said.
Speakers at the event also talked about challenges that businesses had faced.
Minh said the business environment had improved a lot, especially in the last three or four years, though administrative procedures was still a big barrier, especially in terms of implementation of regulations at the provincial level where there were a lot of uncertainties in terms of implementing regulations.
Jean-Jacques Bouflet, former head of Trade Affairs in the EU Delegation to Vietnam, said since last year foreign businesses had experienced many regulatory challenges.
Today, faced with the pandemic reality, the country should also find a solution to live with COVID -19 since having workers live on-site proved to be very difficult for companies to implement, he said.
“The global COVID situation has proved that it is possible to combine both health protection and economic activities. This is what we need in Vietnam today: running an economy with welcoming institutional regulations for foreign investors, especially the pharmaceutical industry, which is so critical for protecting health.”
Wieczorek said: “If the Government creates an attractive and welcoming investment environment for the pharmaceutical industry, I’m convinced that many more companies will follow in our footsteps.”
“But we need incentives, not obstacles. Unquestionably, Vietnam is going to stay on the list of top priorities for Adamed this year and in future,” he said.