Expressed by Mr. Jens Ruebbert, Chairman of German Business Association, in a talk with Vietnam Business Forum on the occasion of 40 years of Vietnam – Germany diplomatic ties

Q: As new Chairman of German Business Association (GBA) in HCMC, what topics will be at the top of the agenda of GBA in Vietnam in the coming time?

A: In the GBA Board we have a clear agenda for the way forward. First of all, we would like to further raise the profile of the German business in Vietnam. The overall size of German activities in the country is not yet fully reflected in our public presence and perception. Secondly, we would like to improve the services for our members. To get a clear picture of their needs we are currently conducting a survey. Offering an optimized service portfolio will in return support our third target, namely to further grow our member base. Finally, we actively support the successful merger with the future German-Vietnamese Chamber of Commerce while at the same time making sure our members´ interests are fully reflected in this process.

Q: In ASEAN region, will Vietnam be particularly in the spotlight for German businesses in the future?

A: I definitely think so. More and more German companies see growth opportunities in many business sectors in Vietnam and would like to tap this potential. This is reflected in the growing number of German companies entering the Vietnamese market. The upcoming Free Trade Agreement between Vietnam and the EU will further boost this development and make doing business here easier. I hope the ongoing negotiations will be concluded soon, ideally quickly followed by an agreement between EU and ASEAN as a whole.

Q: According to you, how will the Vietnam – Germany Joint Chamber of Commerce (expected to be set up soon) contribute to the economic coperation relations between Vietnam and Germany?

A: First of all, the German businesses in Vietnam will speak with one voice and offer one contact to our Vietnamese counterparts. The merger will focus our human, financial and operative resources to strengthen the German business presence and visibility in Vietnam. AHK is a long-standing and highly experienced organization that will provide the German business community in Vietnam with a broad range of support tools as well as direct links into its global network. I am highly convinced that this will benefit our members´ operations and help German business to further grow in Vietnam.

Q: Although Germany always stands as the biggest trade partner of Vietnam in Europe, German investment here is still modest. What are the reasons for this?

A: From my point of view a key reason was, and partly still is, the strong focus on China and its huge opportunities. German companies have very successfully tapped the potential of the Chinese market, now turning their attention more strongly towards the other growth countries in the region, especially the ASEAN nations. Vietnam will clearly play a role in this development, both due to the range and size of business opportunities but also due to other ties such as the sizeable Viet Kieu community in Germany. I am sure that German investment in Vietnam will continue to grow, especially in line with the further strengthening of the legal framework. GBA has been working on giving German investment in Vietnam a boost for a long time already and will continue to do so.

Q: Given that ASEAN Economic Community concluded end of 2015, how do you comment on co-operation opportuntities between Germany and ASEAN in general and between Germany and Vietnam in particular?

A: I see loads of opportunities between Germany and ASEAN as well as with Vietnam, both in terms of business but also far beyond, in areas such as education and culture. Apart from Vietnamese-German University (VGU), German companies already support the educational and vocational training system in the country and counterparts such as Goethe Institut and DAAD strengthen our cultural ties. But also beyond the two countries´ activities I see many opportunities between EU and ASEAN as a whole. Both organizations can profit a lot from each other. On the one hand side ASEAN can learn from the EU development and integration – both its undisputed successes as well as from some of its current challenges. Europe in return will have an economic and political counterpart that will become a much more active and powerful player in the future.