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Culture and Communication

Greet your Vietnamese business partners by name - make an effort to pronounce the name correctly (e.g. Mr Nguyen Van Nam would be Mr Nam, Nguyen is the family name);

Stress mutual co-operation (technology transfer/training) and mutual benefit. Avoid suspicion of motive;

Socialise without being lavish;

Avoid conflict (loss of face), retain a sense of humour;

Be patient, things do not work at the same pace as in the West. Avoid getting frustrated;

Build relationships first. Business will not happen without them;

Explain everything clearly, over and over again, if necessary.

Business Tips

Visas are required. Check with the nearest Vietnamese Embassy;

Make contact at an early stage with the decision makers at all levels;

Seek assistance from the Vietnamese Chamber of Commerce and Industry and other governmental organisations working to build business in Vietnam. These organisations have influence and a wide range of contacts;

If you are planning to set-up in Vietnam, consult a lawyer about the possible options and how you plan to conduct business here. There are limits to what some types of business entities such as “Representative” offices can do;

Use an interpreter at meetings. Follow-up immediately any agreement you may have been reached, in writing. Yes, may not mean “yes”. It may mean “yes, I understand what you are saying”;

At a working level the bureaucracy can sometimes be frustrating, pedantic and even seemingly obstructive. But things usually work in the end;

Shirt and tie is acceptable business wear for “everyday” meetings. You may wish to wear a jacket for more formal events;

Use a business card. Present it with your right hand or two-handed.

Money Tips

The Vietnamese Dong (VND) is not convertible and there are controls on foreign exchange transactions. Current rate of exchange is USd1.00 = VND21,000

Remittance of foreign currency outside of Vietnam is only allowed for certain “proper” purposes such as payment of goods and services (subject to the importer having an import licence and submission of other documentary evidence of the import, e.g. purchase contract, customs clearance documentation etc). Remittance of dividends subject to Tax Authority clearance;

Letters of Credit are a common method of payment when exporting to Vietnam. Foreign exporters should have a Letter of Credit opened by a foreign bank with a branch in Vietnam;

Seek legal/banking advice if you are not sure.

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