Dear American friends,
We write this letter to remind you that we Vietnamese – living in a country that is on the other side of the Earth – also followed your recent election results and its effects closely.
We also deeply hope that America will not isolate itself from other countries and will still consider Vietnam as an important partner within South East Asia. Here’s why, and maybe you want to tell your President-elect, just in case he hadn’t noticed:
- Vietnam loves American products. From fashion to PCs to food to big-ticket commercial products like airplanes, we appreciate America’s innovation and we want products made in the USA. We of course like products from other places too, including those made right here at home, but many American brands in the US do very well here.
- Vietnam also loves to make things. Vietnam is a significantly large labor market with low costs. The standard of living of a typical Vietnamese is still 10-20 times lower than that in the US. We know Donald Trump says he want to bring jobs home. But we also believe we can make many things with quality and prices that are hard for anyone, anywhere to beat.
- The main reason products made in Vietnam are hard to beat is that we have become a factory of the world. With high quality goods, low cost of expense for raw materials, labor and management: These factors make our products highly competitive in the world market. This will be especially true, if and when, America and China no longer have the most cooperative of relationships.
- Location, location, location. Viet Nam has a critical position in Asia. If the US wants to remain influential in this part of the world, maintaining our relationship is key. We know the Obama pivot to Asia is now a big question mark – but we think it would be prudent for the US to consider what is at stake before thinking about turning away.
- Vietnam has deep connections with the US. Sure, our history has seen many very tough challenges. But today, the relationship with the US is important to us. We value what has been built – and we would like it to remain this way. Millions of people with Vietnamese heritage live in the US. And tens of thousands of Vietnamese students go to the US every year for education. In many ways, we are oriented to the US – and we hope to keep it this way. Like my American friends, we Vietnamese are friendly and hard working – and always do our best not just for profit, but because we truly care about the experiences of our customers.
There is obviously a long list of reasons we hope the US will continue to engage with Vietnam. We believe it is important for the world to build connections, and not tear them down. And while we hope Mr. Trump won’t turn away from Southeast Asia, if he does, we believe the US will be missing an opportunity to engage for the better.
Since Vietnam’s economic reforms began in the 1980s, we have been on a journey – much of it in step with the US – that has driven prosperity and development. This journey will continue, with or without Mr. Trump. But we do hope that he, and the American people, will carefully consider heading down the road with us. It would be for the best – and serve the greater good for both the people of Vietnam and the US.
(Clāra Ly-Le is the managing director of EloQ Communications (formerly Vero IMC) in Vietnam. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Missouri and spent time working with the American Red Cross while studying.)
(X-posted on Clāra’s blog)