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Vietnam rues slow start in tapping Burmese markets

Vietnamese businesses have been slow to tackle Burma’s emerging markets and are missing opportunities while its ASEAN neighbours, China, Japan, South Korea and western nations move in, several of the country’s entrepreneurs have complained.

Quoting a delegation of Vietnamese business leaders, Thanh Nien News last week said: “There is plenty of scope to sell Vietnamese products in Myanmar [Burma], especially low-cost ones, but manufacturers have done little promotion to tap the market.”

Meanwhile Saigon Tiep Thi newspaper on Monday quoted Le Duc Duy, the marketing director of Vietnam’s leading dried fruit producing company, Vinamit, as saying Burma is a “promising destination”, which offers foreign firms a tax waiver for the first five years.

Than Nien News said that many supermarkets in Burma display Vietnamese brand products including instant noodles, canned foods, cleaning products and coffee. However, it said. “They come straight from Vietnam, without changes made to labels or tastes to cater to Myanmarese [Burmese] preferences.”

Vietnamese companies need to make English labels and analyse Burmese culture and tastes to make their products accordingly, a leading distributor was reported as saying.


The Vietnamese daily noted that Burma’s traditional markets are full of cheap products from China, Malaysia, India, and Thailand, meaning there is plenty of opportunity for Vietnam’s low-cost products. It added that the average wage in Rangoon is only around half the Vietnamese average, and even less in other parts of the country.

Pham Dung, Vietnam’s ambassador to Burma, is quoted by Thanh Nien as saying that the embassy in Rangoon has been busy receiving and assisting Vietnamese businesses coming to explore the market. But not many have returned or stayed, he said.

There are currently 23 Vietnamese companies with a presence in Burma, the report said.


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