Vietnam, in the minds of a few select people, remains a war. But the tide has slowly shifted. In the mid to late 2000’s, Vietnam started an aggressive textile strategy that started putting the fledgling Southeast Asian country on the map. If you’re in the states and you walk into a local clothing retailer like JC Penney, Target, or even REI, you’re bound to run into clothes made in Vietnam. Vietnam has slowly crept up as a major clothing manufacturer.
But today, Vietnam isn’t about clothes anymore, it’s about electronics. In January this year, I noted the billions of dollars international and domestic electronics manufacturers were pumping into Vietnamese factories. It’s now paid off, phones are Vietnam’s top export. And they’re bringing in a whopping $21.5 billion for 2013. That’s 69.2 percent more than last year. Clothing was $3 billion behind with $17.89 billion in exports. Just behind clothing was electronics, computer parts, and computers. That was $10.67 billion. Combine the latter number with phones and you have $32.17 billion in electronics exports total.
In the Philippines, the electronics exports have dropped from $21 billion to $20 billion and in Indonesia, despite its massive size, it is projected to hit $22.5 billion in electronics exports by 2017. That’s three years away. In other words, Vietnam is the new dark horse of Southeast Asia. But not for all of Asia, as China exported over $487 billion in electronics in 2012. And for further perspective, Taiwan shipped $7.8 billion in electronics in September 2013 alone. These East Asian countries have, of course, been in the electronics manufacturing industry for much longer.
The increase in exports is no doubt the result of a growing cooperation between the Vietnamese government and international electronics manufacturers. In 2010, the Vietnamese government outlined a plan to put Vietnam on the map with a strong emphasis on electronics manufacturing. Samsung, Intel, and foreign electronics manufacturers get tax exempts and special import and export rates. This favorable environment has increased the investment from foreign manufacturers in Vietnam. If Vietnam continues the 69.2 percent growth of this year into 2014, electronics exports could hit $54 billion. And this is very possible, as Vietnam’s economy seems to be picking up.
(Editing by Josh Horwitz)