European business sentiment inches up as Vietnam reopens

By Kieu Mai - Nov 14, 2021 | 09:40 AM GMT+7

TheLEADEREuropean business leaders in Vietnam are more optimistic about the country’s business environment following the ending of lockdowns and the ‘new normal’ of post-pandemic trade and investment.

The growth in positive sentiment was revealed in the the third quarter Business Climate Index (BCI), a regular barometer of the perceptions of business leaders from the European Chamber of Commerce (EuroCham).

Commenting on the data, CEO of YouGov Vietnam Thue Quist Thomasen, said that beneath the headline BCI figure, some interesting trends are emerging.

While confidence in the prospects for Vietnam’s business environment has seen a small but encouraging rise, companies are a little more hesitant when it comes to their own operations.

This suggests that business leaders are waiting to see how conditions and regulations in the ‘new normal’ unfold before making significant commitments in terms of investment projects or recruitment plans, he stressed.

European business positive sentiment inches up as Vietnam reopens
Business Climate Index.

In details, the BCI saw a small but encouraging uptick to reach 18.3 points. That represents a three-point rise from its historic low of 15 points during the depths of the fourth wave outbreak in September.

Though the index remains low, the BCI uncovered improving perceptions about Vietnam’s economic outlook.

Just under half of business leaders and investors (49 per cent) now predict a stabilizing and improving economic outlook next quarter, compared to less than a fifth (19 per cent) in the second quarter.

However, business leaders remain cautious concerning their own recruitment, investment, and profit projections.

Companies are taking a ‘wait-and-see’ approach to staffing, with around one-fifth planning to hire more workers in the next three months - a figure consistent with the last quarter.

Likewise, the proportion of business leaders planning to maintain or increase their investment in the last quarter of this year (69 per cent) is just two points higher than in the third quarter, with revenue projections seeing a similar increase.

Meanwhile, around half of companies are still operating at reduced levels compared to before the pandemic, while prolonged travel restrictions and staff shortages continue to affect two-thirds of companies.

This indicates that there are still issues to be addressed if Vietnam is to reach its full potential in post-pandemic trade and investment.

Alain Cany, Chairman of EuroCham, stated that though the BCI remains low in historic terms, the most important thing is that the Index is now moving in the right direction.

With the pandemic now back under control in Vietnam, the confidence and optimism of European business leaders should continue to climb as companies get back to normal and consumer confidence rises.

“However, despite this positive progress, business leaders are still encountering challenges in their commercial operations. With two-thirds of companies suffering from the impacts of travel restrictions and staff shortages, this highlights the urgent need to speed up the entrance of vaccinated experts and accelerate the vaccination of domestic workers,” said he.