US companies including Netflix and Boeing join ‘biggest’ business mission to Vietnam

A street vendor pushes a bicycle along a road in the old quarter in Hanoi, Vietnam, on Tuesday, March 21, 2023. Vietnam is scheduled to release it’s annual gross domestic product (GDP) figures on March 29. Photographer: Linh Pham/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Originally Published: 21 MAR 23 21:12 ET

    (CNN) — Dozens of American companies are in Vietnam this week in hopes of pushing further into the fast-growing Southeast Asian economy, which has emerged as an attractive potential alternative to China as companies seek to diversify their markets and supply chains.

Senior executives from 52 US firms are taking part in the biggest business mission ever organized by the US-ASEAN Business Council, the trade lobby told CNN.

The trip, held annually and currently led by former US Ambassador to Vietnam Ted Osius, began Tuesday and runs to Thursday. The council did not specify who was attending, but corporate heavyweights Boeing and Netflix confirmed they had joined the delegation.

Boeing’s president for Southeast Asia and managing director for Vietnam are representing the aerospace giant and expected to meet with government officials, the company said in a statement to CNN.

The discussions “will focus on Boeing’s growing partnership with Vietnam and ways to strengthen the country’s aviation and defense capabilities,” it added.

“Boeing has been developing its presence in Vietnam by investing in local capability building and collaborating with Vietnamese organizations across manufacturing, infrastructure, engineering services, aviation safety, sustainability, research and technology, training, and skills development,” the statement said.

Netflix declined to comment further. But according to a person familiar with the matter, the media giant is examining how to comply with a new regulation that requires overseas media companies to register for a business license from Vietnam in order to provide streaming services there.

The firm hopes to have more clarity on the rule, which is called Decree 71 and took effect in January, following the trip, the person added.

Netflix’s streaming service is available to viewers in Vietnam, though it does not have a direct presence there.

That may soon change. Citing unidentified sources, Reuters reported last month that the company was planning to open its first office in the country. Netflix declined to comment.

The blitz by US companies this week underscores how Vietnam has emerged as an attractive destination for foreign businesses, as its rapid economic growth and rising middle class continue to lure investors. The country’s GDP expanded by 8% last year, defying a broader global economic slowdown.

But the nation of more than 97 million is also facing heightened risks due to the continued effects of the slowdown. As one of the world’s most trade-dependent economies, Vietnam would be among those “hardest hit by further weakness in global demand” for exports this year, according to Capital Economics.

In a recent note, Oxford Economics predicted the country’s GDP growth would slow to 4.2% in 2023, citing “a weak outlook in its global trading partners and rising financial risks.”

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