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Cultural understanding necessary for successful business with Vietnam

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Australia has a positive reputation and burgeoning trade with Vietnam, though SMEs need to invest in understanding the country’s culture. 

“We think it will eclipse the growth in China trade with Australia next decade, growing at around 8 per cent by 2030,” the head of global trade at HSBC told the Australian Financial Review.

Relations between Australia and Vietnam have been helped by Australia’s assistance in building the My Thuan Bridge, which passes over the Mekong River and was built between 1997 and 2000.

Lobana, a company trading in “agriculture, aquaculture, natural resources, consumer goods and property development across Asia, Russia and Australia” has been engaged in a development joint venture in Vietnam.

Nigel Macdonald, a development director at Lobana, said that Australian products were generally received favourably in Vietnam.

"A brand which is recognisably from Australia, such as having a kangaroo brand on fruit juice, is likely to be well received in Vietnam," he told the AFR.

He said that an understanding of local customs was essential to success, however, pointing out the benefit Lobana received by having two directors who had a deep background in trade in Vietnam and elsewhere in Asia.

“They have given us an insight into the culture and language of Vietnam,” said Macdonald.

“Clearly it can be hard to do business through an interpreter, so having language skills is important.”

Image: Lonely Planet

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