Seven Thousand Vietnamese Rescue the Urals from Dominance of Cheap Import
24.07.2009 — Analysis
Vietnam offers an alternative to the low-quality Chinese consumer goods. In an interview to RusBusinessNews Dr. Le Quy Quynh, Consul General of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam in Ekaterinburg, speaks of the location and profile of factories at which thousands of Vietnamese hands work for the benefit of the Urals economy now.
- How long have you been working in the Urals, Mister Consul?
- The Consulate General of Vietnam in Ekaterinburg was established one and half years ago. Our consular area includes 16 Russian republics and oblasts of the Privolzhski, Ural, and Siberia federal districts. Of course we do not only perform consular functions; we also aim to develop economic cooperation between Vietnam and the Russian Federation. Many projects have been contemplated but not implemented due to the crisis. Many business delegations from Vietnam have already visited our consular area.
- Which exactly spheres of the Urals economy are of the most interest for Vietnamese companies?
- It is joint production of consumer goods – in particular, clothes, shoes, and food. Prior to that, it takes time to study the Urals market, though. However, several projects have already been implemented. Thus, at least 4 clothes factories have been established in the Sverdlovsk Oblast. These are Russian companies owned by Vietnamese who obtained the Russian citizenship.
- Isn’t it more profitable to make clothes in Vietnam? Raw material is close at hand, climate is favourable, labour and rental of premises is cheaper…
- Yes, you are right. Workers are industrious and raw material base is good there. However, we know that Russia needs goods to be produced here. You have certain favourable conditions for small and medium size business operation.
Russia aims to develop its own manufacturing facilities. Meanwhile, many of the consumer goods are imported from China and other countries. This is not good. The Russian market is huge. Russia’s economy will benefit greatly from local manufacturing of goods for the domestic market. To achieve this, your country needs workers from Vietnam because they are highly qualified and capable of producing quality goods which are better than those from China. Therefore, this kind of cooperation is favourable for both Vietnam and Russia.
- Do the Urals factories that you have mentioned employ Vietnamese workers?
- Yes, they do.
- How many citizens of Vietnam currently reside in the Urals region?
- In my consular area, about 7 thousand Vietnamese citizens live and work. They work in markets. Some of them have become owners of factories that produce consumer goods – clothes factories, furniture factories (e.g. in Ufa), food factories (instant noodle), agribusinesses (pig farming, poultry farming, vegetable farming). They employ Vietnamese workers. They are very experienced, especially in the closing manufacture segment. Russian workers are unwilling to work there. This requires a lot of training because one must work very quickly.
- Vietnam is a fairly attractive country in terms of tourism development. A great many of Russian tourists travel to the neighbouring Thailand but not to Vietnam. What is it connected with?
- Today’s Vietnam is indeed a very attractive place for tourists. First, it's a safe country. We have wonderful beaches and a warm sea in which you can swim both in summer and in winter. A great number of tourists from many countries of the world come to Vietnam every year for vacations. However, very few come from Russia – about 45 thousand tourists a year. The reason is a very big distance between our countries. Besides that, there is no direct flight from the Urals to Vietnam. The only way to fly to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh is via Moscow. It is also possible to fly via Vladivostok, which is inconvenient since the connection is only available once a week.
- Ural Airlines have launched a direct flight to Beijing now. Is the opportunity of extending the flight to Vietnam with a stopover in the capital of China being considered?
- This is possible. As far as I know, there are 4 flights a week from Beijing to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh offered by Vietnamese and Chinese airlines. Flight time is saved substantially as compared to flying via Moscow. And, what is the most important, Beijing Airport is more convenient for making connections than Domodedovo in Moscow. I have already discussed these issues with many airlines; the problem is that there is not enough traffic to keep a regular flight busy.
- How are you going to increase the flow of tourists? Do you work with tour operators in the Urals?
- Yes, I have already passed all information on travelling to Vietnam to Urals tour operators. Our policy is favourable for Russian tourists. They do not need a visa to visit Vietnam unless they are going to stay for more than two weeks. As a rule, tourists don’t need to stay longer. However, should they need to extend their stay in Vietnam, they can obtain a visa on site. This is a very favourable condition.
In addition to that, Vietnamese hotels currently offer 50% discounts. However, tourists from the Urals still prefer a vacation in Turkey or Israel - countries to which regular flights are offered. There are people, though, who have been to Vietnam on vacation for five or six times, and are still willing to visit our country again every year.
However, working with Urals tour operators has been difficult so far. Since the only possibility to fly to Vietnam is via Moscow, even those tourists from the Urals who spend their vacations with us buy tours from Moscow tour operators.
There haven’t been any arrangements for chartered flights either. There were several charters from Ufa but they were discontinued due to the unstable traffic. Certain airlines – Vladivostok Air in particular – have plans to establish a flight from Ekaterinburg to Vietnam via Bangkok. Urals tourists will then be able to combine vacations in Thailand and Vietnam.
- The activity of the majority of foreign diplomatic missions in the Urals is focused on issuing visas. What is your main activity?
- Our area is very large. Vietnamese citizens who reside here often need to have their passports replaced; they require assistance in the issuance of documents related to residence and work in Russia as well as birth certificates. This is the first sphere of our work.
The second one is the development of relations between Vietnam and the Russian Federation. I must visit each of the 16 constituent entities of the Federation, and agree upon cultural and economic contacts. E.g. a major event – the Days of the Vietnamese Culture – is currently taking place in the Republic of Bashkortostan, since nearly 3 thousand Vietnamese live and work there. We have arranged many events – an exhibition of Vietnamese goods and performance.
The third sphere of our activity is the protection of legal rights of our citizens. In case of violations, we help in solving the issues.
- How comfortable it is for Vietnamese to live in the Urals?
- Vietnamese are very common industrious people. When they come to your country they want to peacefully live and work in compliance with the laws of the Russian Federation. However, not all of them understand the Russian legislation very well, therefore violations occur sometimes. The most frequent violation is the expiry of the registration term for staying in Russia. Vietnamese get 1 year visas but sometimes stay longer than that. We monitor the registration terms to avoid violations.
Solving these issues at once is of course very difficult. Having new visas and new registration issued takes time. Some of the Vietnamese citizens have already obtained a three year registration – a residence p[ermit. They live and work here, thus making their modest contribution to the development of the economy of the Russian Federation. They don’t commit any crimes. Vietnamese aim to live in peace and friendship with the Russian people.
Working in a market is of course a difficult sphere of activity. People that come there can be good or bad, that’s the way it goes. Moreover, this does not depend on the citizenship.
The interview has been prepared by Pavel Kober
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