US President Barack Obama talks with outstanding young entrepreneurs (Source: VNA)
HCM City (VNA) – US President Barack Obama discussed the status of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement and Vietnam’s entrepreneurial growth during a talk with 100 young businesspeople in Ho Chi Minh City on May 24.

The US leader spoke at the Dreamplex Co-Working Space at the Miss Ao Dai Building in the city’s District 1 and saw products made by young Vietnamese, including virtual games created for people with nerve injuries, a smartphone-controlled laser cutter, and other innovations.

Dreamplex, which now has 60 start-ups, is a place for young entrepreneurs. Though the business model is popular in the US, Europe and Asia, it is fairly new to Vietnam.

“Next month at our global entrepreneurs’ summit, something that I have been hosting now for several years, I will welcome eight Vietnamese entrepreneurs to Silicon Valley so they can learn from some of the best entrepreneurs and venture capitalists in the world,” Obama told the audience at Dreamplex.

“Dreamplex is not only home for digital entrepreneurs like you, but it is also a place where you can share ideas and work together and build a community that supports each other,” he added.

“Incubators like this allow Vietnam, alongside its emphasis on entrepreneurship, to see more start-ups happening in this country than ever before.”

Obama said that entrepreneurship was the fuel for “prosperity that puts rising economies on the path to success”.

“It’s what gives young people, like so many of you, the chance to channel your energy and your passion into something that is bigger than yourselves,” he said. “It allows us to go across countries and cultures to solve some of the world’s biggest challenges.”

“Ultimately, what makes start-ups and entrepreneurs successful is good ideas and human capital. Obviously, investors are important and infrastructure is important. But the most important thing is people. The culture of entrepreneurship has really begun to grow in Vietnam,” he said.

“The world is taking notice,” said Obama, who noted that a leading global venture capital firm called 500 Startups had just launched a 100 million USD fund in HCM City.

Three young entrepreneurs, Hang Do, Vice President of Seedcom, Le Hoang Uyen Vy, Managing Director of Adayroi, and Khoa Pham, Director of legal & corporate affairs for Microsoft, took part in a panel discussion with the US President after his speech at Dreamplex.

Obama spoke about the interconnectness of today’s world and the global marketplace, and the need for every business to think globally. With good products and business strategies, companies can now reach billions of people, he noted.

Pham told the President that he returned to Vietnam to give the same opportunities to Vietnamese that he had received in the US.

He praised the spirit of entrepreneurship in Vietnam, saying that it had inspired him to return and continue to work with Microsoft in the place of his birth.

Obama told the entrepreneurs that the 12-country TPP trade agreement represents a huge portion of the world’s marketplace creating “standards for trade and commerce that are fair, that create a playing field that has high standards, including intellectual property protection,” he noted.

He closed his message with encouraging words for the country’s dynamic entrepreneurial community.

“My message the other day is that I believe in you, America believes in you, and we will keep investing in your success. Ultimately, it’s the inventors and dreamers people like those that I’ve just met, those who we will hear from soon and all of you in the audience, who are going to shape Vietnam’s future in the decades to come,” he said.

“I think that if you had any doubt about the outstanding future of Vietnamese entrepreneurs, then all those doubts have been pushed away because of the outstanding presentations by these three individuals. Give them a big round of applause,” Obama said at the end of the talk with the young businesspeople.

Relations between Vietnam and the US are at a historic high following the establishment of the US-Vietnam Comprehensive Partnership in 2013 and the celebration of 20 years of diplomatic relations in 2015.

Trade between the two countries has nearly tripled in the last seven years, and now tops 45 billion USD.

US exports to Vietnam increased by 23 percent in 2015, the largest increase of the US’s top 50 trade partners, and only one of two markets with double-digit growth.

At the same time, the US remains Vietnam’s largest export market, growing 24 percent year-on-year.

Economic ties between the two countries are poised to expand even further with the implementation of the TPP agreement, which would hold nearly 40 percent of the world’s GDP, accountable to the highest labour, environmental and intellectual property rights standards of any previous trade agreement, while leveling the playing field for workers and businesses, the US State Department said in a press release.

The US has committed to helping Vietnam continue on its path of economic reforms, including efforts required to fully implement its commitments under the TPP through technical assistance, the department said.-VNA