Assoc. Prof. Dr. Tran Dinh Thien, former head of Vietnam Institute of Economics and member of Economic Advisory Board for Prime Minister has shared under an economist's perspective about the image of Vingroup and the man behind this corporation: Pham Nhat Vuong.
Apart from taxes or notable titles that make the Vietnamese proud, what kinds of motivations and inspiration have the rich like Pham Nhat Vuong and Vingroup bring to our country?
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Tran Dinh Thien: About the vice of hating the rich in Vietnam, I have to say that the social attitude on this issue is gradually shifting from hatred to respect and honour.
Talking about the contribution of the rich to society, we can list a few things. While pursuing their careers, the rich help generate jobs and income for workers, pay taxes to increase the national budget, contribute to the social welfare, and support charity.
All of these are tangible. Besides, there are others that seem "invisible" but worth no less.
First, they create a driving force for the development of our nation. The emergence of Halong, Danang, Nhatrang, and Phuquoc as international tourist centres or the rise of VietJet airline, Truong Hai and VinFast automobiles, FPT's technology or TH TrueMilk’s hi-tech agriculture are all new forces for the national economy.
Second, the rich lead the way. I think this contribution is vital.
Third, with their companies, the rich often play a pivotal role in building and developing the forces for the nation’s enterprises, such as Japan with Keiretsus, Korea with Chaebols, China with giant corporations like Alibaba, Wanda, or Tencent.
In Vietnam, this role has not been clearly established. Large private corporations in Vietnam have not fully developed yet in such a difficult business environment. Hence, they cannot play the expected role for a business community in which 96 to 97 per cent are micro-, small, and medium enterprises.
Also, the rich inspire and create good models in earning money among the society. If the rich decently make money and aim at the national prosperity, they will be shining examples to follow. Vietnam has had such examples.
The widespread hatred towards the rich will reduce as the business environment becomes clearer with a legal system that cannot raise and feed rich people with dirty money.
Every day, Vietnamese people are leaving our country to look for opportunities in other countries. Pham Nhat Vuong, however, decided to return to Vietnam for long-term investment after decades of success in foreign countries. Even more, Vuong and Vingroup are developing all of their projects only in Vietnam. What do you think?
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Tran Dinh Thien: In general, it is normal for people to move to other countries to seek opportunities, especially in the context of globalisation nowadays.
Recently, Vietnam has attracted foreign investment quite strongly. Many people have recognised Vietnam as a promising land.
Decades ago, long before this trend started, Pham Nhat Vuong had withdrawn all of his investment capital from foreign countries to Vietnam only. He said that he would "commit the whole life" for his homeland only.
I believe in Vuong's commitments, at least based on what he said. First, he believes in Vietnam's potential. Second, he is Vietnamese, a son of this country.
He once said, international investors heavily investing in Vietnam meant that they highly valued Vietnam's prospects. So why could the Vietnamese ignore the opportunities in their own country?
Vuong himself has been investing in Vietnam and has attained notable success. This fact proves that he is trying to create new development motives and good products for the Vietnamese.
There may be doubts about his achievements and goodwill as well as his business strategy. Nevertheless, that is normal, and as I know, Pham Nhat Vuong has the quality and capacity of a genuine businessman for our nation.
Vingroup is expanding the business really quickly. Recently, it also started in pharmacy, animation, football training, VinFast automobiles and even made-in-Vietnam smartphones. In your opinion, is there anything worth considering in the way it quickly reaches to so many other areas?
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Tran Dinh Thien: In theory, this strategy is worrying me because spreading out investment for too many sectors is prone to weaknesses.
However, Vingroup’s actual business performance, as I know, is still solid thanks to following the right direction. Apart from that, there are also other reasons as follow:
First of all, Vingroup does not limit itself to the real estate sector. It is shifting to more innovative areas with the strategy of inheriting achievements.
Second, Vingroup is not limited by its leading position. Pham Nhat Vuong once told me that the motives for innovation and innovation are Vingroup's life-and-death issue, and it always haunts him.
Vuong rarely appears on the media. If my memory serves me right, for the past several decades, it seems that he had only been interviewed twice. How can you draw his portrait for readers?
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Tran Dinh Thien: I do not have much contact with Vuong in person, only three to four times. But I was very keen on his personalities and the way he developed Vingroup.
As I know, Vuong is calm and consistent with his targets, but he is also very flexible. His knowledge and vision make him capable of convincing his associates.
Perhaps thanks to those qualities, Vingroup has steadily grown and reinforced the trust in the society.
Once Vuong mentioned that Vietnam must have permanent businesses, and Vingroup always aspired to become a stable corporation which helps make Vietnam known in the world. In your opinion, what factors does Vingroup have and lack for such a target?
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Tran Dinh Thien: About the longevity of a business, I think "a permanent enterprise" should only be understood as one with sustainable development in a long time. In an unpredictable world as today, to "survive permanently", businesses have only one way: to innovate and move forward constantly.
25 years ago, Vingroup demonstrated its innovative capabilities in the way it conducts its business activities, but not technological advances. But I believe, when the whole world entered the new technology era, Vingroup's opportunities for innovation and creativity are great.
Currently, apart from Vuong, three more Vietnamese names make it in the World’s Billionaires list. According to you, after decades, what will Vuong and Vingroup become? In another ten years, will a second Vingroup appear in Vietnam?
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Tran Dinh Thien: The world is changing so fast. But I forecast the optimistic outlook of Vingroup as follows.
The Vietnamese economy is forecast to be optimistic. If I remember correctly, last year, World Bank's experts predicted that Vietnam would be among the 25 economies with the largest GDP in the world by 2050.
Besides, Vuong and Vingroup committed “the whole life" to do business in Vietnam.
Vuong and Vingroup are still forward in innovation strategy and capacity compared to their competitors.
There has not been any reason to doubt the mentioned arguments yet.
About another enterprise as Vingroup in the next ten years, nothing is impossible. There is Pham Nhat Vuong; there will be other names, especially regarding the technology boom at the global level as now.
The business environment should improve and promote talents. The government is making significant efforts, and we must continue to work harder for it.
Could you please give comments about super-rich entrepreneurs in Vietnam today: What do they have and lack? What can they do to help lay the foundation for the prosperity of Vietnam?
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Tran Dinh Thien: Among Vietnam's super-rich entrepreneurs in Vietnam today, most of them are smart and lucky. They are dynamic people, especially in identifying and making the most out of opportunities. However, the number who exposes true business talent remains low.
In fact, the super-rich have not formed a group, hence not generating enough strength. Not only are they too few (just less than two per cent of businesses are considered large enterprises), but mainly because they lack linkage and have not been well supported by the institution.
They have not been supported yet by the national strategy of developing the super-rich force as a focus of the nation.
We need to do many things to increase the number of the super-rich people, to make them a firm foundation and a potent force for businesses of the nation.
To do so, we must respect decent rich people, encourage the rich to make money, and support all honest efforts to make money.
Thank you very much!