Vietnam On The Move

(HO CHI MINH CITY, VIETNAM) – Did the Americans Win the War in Vietnam? After visiting the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City I was reminded most unpleasantly of the terrible toll taken on French, American, Korean, Pilipino, Australian, New Zealand, and Vietnamese soldiers and civilians.

In a sense, one side was fighting for what they thought was democracy as threatened by communism. The North Vietnamese were fighting to advance communism and defeat the imperialism of capitalist aggressors, and with the goal of reunification with South Vietnam.

Close to 58,000 American soldiers gave their lives and countless others were maimed psychologically and physically. Vietnam estimated in 1995 that some 4 million civilian deaths occurred with 1.1 million Vietcong and Vietnamese soldiers dying.

The US military estimates some 200,000 to 250,000 South Vietnamese soldiers died. These are grim statistics.

I witnessed a second world country trying to lift itself into a modern industrialized state. My thoughts, before entering Vietnam for the first time, was that it would be a beautiful country geographically, but economically drab and gray, like the East Bloc countries in Europe I had visited prior to the collapse of the Berlin Wall.

I was in for a huge surprise.

Driving into downtown Hanoi from the airport I was amazed by many things including the rampant commercialism, with countless business establishments and so many internationally recognized brands being advertised. Even at the Hanoi Airport, on landing there were actually advertisements on VietJet airplanes, including one for beer.

Perhaps this is all a good sign for Vietnam and its people, but I must admit I gave serious thought to all those who died to advance communism. My vibe from Vietnam was mega capitalist.

Please excuse my ignorant statement, but my feeling is that, in the end, the Americans won the Vietnam War.

Foreign direct investment in Vietnam the first quarter was $7.71 Billion US. This is up from the same period in 2016 by 77.6%. Almost $2.92 Billon flowed into 493 newly licensed projects, $3.94B into exiting 223 operational projects, and there were $853 million worth of share purchases and capital contributions by foreign investors. This includes a $319 million investment by Coca-Cola.

The top foreign investor in the first quarter of 2017 was South Korea, with total capital pledges of $3.74B, followed by Singapore with $910.8 million, and China with $823.6 million.

The manufacturing and processing sector received the most FDI with $6.54B followed by real estate at $343.7 million.

The Prime Minister of Singapore visited Vietnam in March where, in a ceremony, approval was granted to Singapore United Overseas Bank, 100% foreign owned, to operate in Vietnam. There was also a memorandum of understanding between the Vietnamese Ministry of Industry and Trade and a Singaporean corporation concerning the development of a software park in Danang and another concerning the development of a Vietnam-Singapore Industrial Park in Quang Tri.

Singaporean Mapletree Investments, a Singapore-headquartered real estate development and capital management company, has announced the official opening of the Mapletree Business Centre in Ho Chi Minh City. This will be a 17-story office tower.

The Israeli’s were also in on the action as its Jasmine Group and Vietnam’s Dat Vang Real Estate Trading Co. signed a contract where Jasmine would provide $200 million to develop two healthcare projects in HCMC.

In addition to the Singaporean and Israeli deals, the World Bank has also pledged $1.8B to reduce poverty, manage water resources, develop urban areas and agriculture, and spur the private sector.

Not to overload you, but Mazda has started construction of an automobile plant at a cost of $527 million and Exxon Mobile Corporation has signed a cooperation agreement with the Vietnam Oil and Gas Group to tap an offshore natural gas project with a total investment of around $10B.

And if you can believe this, Vietnamese firm Anphabe and Nielsen Vietnam, in late March 2017, announced the top 10 best workplaces in Vietnam for 2016. Unilever scored as #1 for the 4th consecutive year followed by Vinamilk, Nestlé Vietnam, Microsoft Vietnam, and IBM Vietnam.

In terms of exports, the USA is Vietnam’s top export market where textiles are the most important component followed by footwear and mobile phones. Both Samsung and Canon have huge plants on the outskirts of Hanoi.

I have more statistics, but I think I have made my point, which is both encouraging yet terribly tragic for those who gave their lives promoting the spread of communism. My rather horrible and stunning conclusion is that the facts strongly point to the fact that capitalism is alive and well in Vietnam and that rather strangely my conclusion is that the United States was the ultimate victor in the Vietnamese War.

History can be cruel.

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About the Author

Robert Stephen (CSW)

Robert K Stephen writes about food and drink, travel, and lifestyle issues. He is one of the few non-national writers to be certified as a wine specialist by the Society of Wine Educators, in Washington, DC.

Robert was the first associate member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. He also holds a Mindfulness Certification from the University of Leiden.

Be it Spanish cured meat, dried fruit, BBQ, or recycled bamboo place mats, Robert endeavours to escape the mundane, which is why he loves The Square. His motto is, “Have Story, Will Write.”

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