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Vietnam ‘right’ place to open new business

Date Posted: 2004-09-16

Asia’s economy is moving forward, and tiny Vietnam is leading the industrial movement.

Already, more than 100 Japanese companies have opened factories in Vietnam, and Okinawa representatives are now racing to get more involved. They’re now visiting one of Vietnam’s Okinawa factories, where traditional crafts are fashioned.

Glass factories, pottery industries, and clothing manufacturing are all shifting to Vietnam because of the lower labor costs. Workers in Vietnam average ¥6,000 ~ ¥10,000 a month, with the average in Hanoi being ¥6,000 ($59). HoChiMinh City, the former Saigon, pays a bit better, with wages in the $100 a month range.

Comparatively, Okinawan goods made in Vietnam are more expensive than the local products. Business leaders say that’s because original Okinawa products are special, and require higher degrees of craftsmanship. “Sure, it has to be different, and we pay a very expensive salary to pay for the skills needed to make it. Okinawans have experience since they were born; in Vietnam we must train people in the skills”, said one entrepreneur.

More companies are making the move to smaller, less developed countries in Asia, citing rising costs in Japan. The trend, said one economist, is for middle and small size companies to now join their larger brothers in moving. Each year, the number of companies studying and making moves is increasing.

Thirty companies are visiting Vietnam this year, and Vietnamese officials are hopeful a good many of them will make decisions to invest in their economy and move away from Japan and its higher costs.

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