The formation of ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) and the quickening international economic integration process are expected to open up many opportunities for Vietnamese companies, as well as pose enormous challenges to them. For years, despite economic turmoil, the Ba Ria - Vung Tau Urban Sewerage and Development One Member Limited Company (Busadco) - the first science and technology company in Vietnam - still continued stable and sustainable development. The company is steered and led by Dr Hoang Duc Thao, a Labour Hero in the reform era, President and CEO of Busadco. He is also the member of the VCCI Executive Committee of the fifth term (1999 - 2013).

Before the sixth term of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), Vietnam Business Forum had an exclusive interview with him on this issue.

* How do you assess the position and role of VCCI in business development support and promotion in the past term? What should VCCI do in the next term to further promote its ‘gathering’ and ‘connecting’ roles?

As a national agency representative of the business community, VCCI has actually ‘gathered’ companies in Vietnam in various fields and ‘connected’ companies with companies, companies with markets, companies with domestic and international business associations. These activities have been, and will be, helping improve performance efficiency of companies in Vietnam in general and VCCI member companies in particular.

During the fifth tenure (2009 - 2013), VCCI has taken many joint measures to support the business community to deal with difficulties. Specifically, VCCI has created every condition for enterprises to forge joint venture, association, cooperation and mutual assistance to build a developed business community. VCCI has also created a forum for enterprises to share and exchange business information.

In my opinion, in the term ahead, VCCI needs to endeavour to strengthen and promote its role and position to meet new requirements for enterprise development, social, economic and political development. VCCI needs to quickly assess and analyse domestic and international market situations to take measures to help companies in Vietnam develop more sustainably. Besides, VCCI needs to further propose, advise and counsel competent State agencies on policymaking and enforcement to help enterprises to add more resources, enhance performance efficiency, protect intellectual property, speed up growth, and expand domestic and international technological markets, especially macroeconomic policies like science and technology development priorities, flagship industry development, local material utilisation, scientific breakthroughs, techniques, technology, environmental protection in the way that enterprises will strengthen their independence and boost production and business capacity, reduce excess imports, and reduce dependence on foreign technologies.

Besides, VCCI needs to increase activities to protect legitimate and legal rights of enterprises in Vietnam by adopting more measures to safeguard their intellectual property rights, prevent dumping, settle disputes in trade, brand and product designs, food safety and hygiene standards, and technical barriers.
* As a member of the 5 th term VCCI Executive Committee, how do you assess the current development of Vietnamese business community? For you, what are the biggest challenges against the Vietnamese business community when it enters the process of international economic integration?

As a member of the VCCI Executive Committee in the fifth term (2009 - 2013), I have some remarks on the current development of Vietnamese business community as follows. Vietnamese enterprises are undergoing an extremely difficult phase because they are shortly familiar with market economy driven by global economic integration. Their awful encounter is the ongoing global economic downturn. Escalating inflation, real estate market slump and stock market slump are wrecking on enterprises and send them to defensive positions. Exorbitant loans, unpaid debts, huge inventories and production stagnations are staining the overall picture of Vietnamese economy. These shocks have forced companies to change from advancing position to defensive position to seek survival opportunities. Besides, many companies are very bad and weak at business strategy orientation and information collection and processing and they apparently lack information about market and partners when they want to join hands.These shortcomings make them more vulnerable to crisis, underperformance and even bankruptcy.

In addition, Vietnam is now facing huge challenges, especially backward technologies and spontaneous business practices. Especially when the ASEAN Community comes into force, pressures from imports, exports, technical barriers, hygiene and food safety, competition in services and investment among ASEAN countries become more severe. Outdated industries and production technologies and uncompetitive products will have to narrow operating scale, even disappear from the market.

* As a business leader, what development strategy did you take to lead your company through current global and domestic economic turmoil to continue with your company’s sustainable development steps?
Busadco is the first science and technology company in Vietnam. The company’s development strategy is creativity - breakthrough - development. Busadco always takes science and technology as motivations and foundations for development.

Busadco’s major scientific and technological research activities are to actively utilise available resources (capital, assets and people) to finance scientific and technological research and application. Busadco is independent, self-reliant and self-responsible in scientific and technological research and application. To live through economic slowdown, Busadco always sticks to its core values ​​ that it has built over the past 10 years. These core values ​​ include 5 No’s (no bad credit debt, no product backlog, no tax and insurance owes, no unfocused investment, and no reliance on State budget for scientific and technological research and development) and 5 Have’s (have brand name, have reputation, have stable income, have regular employment, have patent technology, have accumulated capital for continued development).

Busadco always strives to find opportunities in any circumstances and bears in mind that the company only controls the market and sustains development only when it masters new technologies. If companies only do outsourcing based on orders placed from customers, they will never make breakthroughs to strengthen sustainable development. Investment for creativity and technological innovation is always the core value ​​ in the Busadco development strategy.

* Do you have any personal advice to the next VCCI Executive Committee in order to have more practical and effective activities to promote the development of Vietnamese business community?

Apart from accompanying enterprises and seeking solutions to difficulties against enterprises, the VCCI Executive Committee in the 6 th term needs to further enhance its advice on policies and laws, and improve investment environment for enterprises. VCCI should be more active and frequent in gathering feedbacks and recommendations from enterprises to propose to the government or competent authorities for solutions to deal with difficulties against enterprises. VCCI should also lean on domestic and international associations to promote its ‘connecting’ role, enhance communistic characteristics, and share and exchange information to improve production efficiency.

The next VCCI Executive Committee needs to have a sustainable business development master plan in the course of international integration. This master plan is the credo for Vietnamese companies to integrate with new directions, shift from order-based outsourcing and crude export to refined export. It should dignify companies that take the initiative in technological innovation and raise intellectual content in each product.-VNA