DRAW FOR SINGAPORE COMPANIES ABOUT BIG MARKET VIETNAM
HO CHI MINH CITY, VIETNAM :It was a difficult decision for Quek Kawan Yi to leave the air force and move to Vietnam to join the family tableware business, but the former fighter pilot is glad he made the switch.
Speaking to The Straits Times on the sidelines of a Singapore Business Federation roundtable discussion in Ho Chi Minh City on Wednesday, October 19, 2022, the chief operating officer of Q Industries said business for the Singapore company is booming in Vietnam, and that his five (5) years in the country have been smooth and enjoyable.
He said: " Nothing can replace the excitement and the thrill of flying. But after close to 15 years in the air force, and seeing where my family business was growing, I thought that if I was going to be a successful entrepreneur and business person, I would have to make the switch."
Quek, 38, was one of about 100 participants at the event, which was held in conjuction with President Halimah Yacob's state visit to Vietnam.
Q Industries, started by Quek's parents in 1987, opened in Ho Chi Minch City in 2003. It now has offices in Hanoi, as well as in Malaysia and Singapore.
Sixty out of 100 of Q Industries employees are based in Vietnam, where the company supplies tableware to hotels and restaurants and has recently started a culinary training programme.
Quek, who is unmarried with no children, said his transition from Singapore to Ho Chi Minh City was an easy one, thanks in no small part to the strong travel links between the two (2) cities and perhaps, more importantly, the easy availability of Singapore food such as roti prata and bak chor mee (miced meat noodles).
" Culturally, there are differences, but overall, I find that living here is very comfortable," he said. Quek said he is likely to stay in Vietnam in the light of his company's success, which he expects will continue for the next five (5) years.
He added that the business is made easy in the country because of its large local market and openness to foreign direct investment.
Vietnam has a population of 98.2 million, with spending power on the rise and its gross domestic product expected to increase by about 7.5 per cent in 2022.
At the event, Halimah touched on the close trade and investment ties between Vietnam and Singapore, during her address to participants.
Singapore is the second-largest cumulative foreign investor, after South Korea, in Vietnam, with total investments amounting to US$68.68 billion (S$97.8 billion). In the first five months of 2022, Singapore companies invested a total of US$3 billion.
Halimah also said the two sides are exploring partnerships in the digital and green technology.
Guava Amenities is a Singapore company in Vietnam that is offering sustainable solutions. The firm, which provides amenities, healthcare supplies and other goods to the hospitality and travel industry, also links manufacturers to hotels and airlines, and focuses on minimising waste and carbon emissions.
Guava Amenities chief executive Gabriel Tan said: " Our focus is to make sure we have sustainable solutions. But for Vietnam, it's equally important to scale it to ensure that they are affordable." He added that if businesses keep their services affordable, Vietnam is a huge market full of opportunities.
Following the event, a reception was held for about 130 Singaporeans living in Vietnam. About 3,000 Singaporeans work and live in the country.
Halimah said all of them represent Singapore and its values, and urged them to give their perspectives on Singapore's future in the Forward Singapore exercise to shape and strengthen Singapore's social compact for its next phase.
On Wednesday night, Halimah met Ho Chi Minch City party committee secretary Nguyen Van Nen at the Reunification Palace in the city.
At a dinner after the meeting, she expressed her appreciation for the city's strong support for Singapore's businesses and called for continued collaboration to address common challenges such as climate change and urban management.
She said: " We can tap our complementary strengths to equip our cities for the future, including Ho Chi Minh City's aspirations to develop into an international financial centre.
" This will not just benefit our cities, but bring about growth and development to the wider South-East Asia region as well."
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