PM Phuc at Davos: Industry 4.0 a policy revolution for Vietnam

By Minh Huong    January 24, 2019 | 07:55 pm PT
PM Phuc at Davos: Industry 4.0 a policy revolution for Vietnam
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc (second, left) greets executives of multinational groups at the Vietnam economic dialogue in Davos on January 23. Photo courtesy of Vietnam News Agency
Vietnam considers the fourth industrial revolution “a policy revolution, not only one of technology,” Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has said.

Speaking at a meeting with executives of leading global firms on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos Thursday, he said Vietnam aims to develop a legal framework that will accommodate the new technologies of Industry 4.0 and accelerate public-private partnerships to create environment-friendly breakthrough products and services.

Elaborating on Phuc’s message, Minister of Information and Communications Nguyen Manh Hung said, "Thus, policies will favor new business models based on new technologies."

Vietnam and the WEF Thursday signed an agreement for the establishment of a Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution in Vietnam, which will be connected with similar centers in the U.S. and the EU.

The Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution is a hub for global, multistakeholder cooperation to develop policy frameworks and advance collaborations that accelerate the benefits of science and technology, according to the WEF.

"Industry 4.0 is knocking on the door of every single enterprise, bringing about in-depth changes. Vietnam considers it a big opportunity when countries compete through innovation and not only through traditional elements like trade liberalization, scale, experience, labor and capital," Phuc said.

Replying to ride-hailing firm Grab’s CEO Anthony Ping Yeow Tan’s query about his government’s view on new business models like Grab, the PM said the government supports breakthrough business models, innovations and the start-up spirit. "This is an aspect of the sustainability of an economy, an element of a digital economy."

In Vietnam the Singapore-based Grab has been taken to court by local taxi firm Vinasun, which sought compensation for causing it losses.

Grab has appealed an order by the court to pay Vinasun VND4.8 billion ($208,000), claiming it did not commit any wrong against Vinasun since it only provides technical services and does not have a transportation business.

Tan however told Phuc his firm is a happy investor in Vietnam. Vietnam was Grab’s second market and it has invested $100 million in the country, developing technology centers with hundreds of engineers, he said.

Phuc met with a number of top business executives.

Speaking with Apple CEO Tim Cook, he welcomed the company’s plans to establish a database center in Vietnam.

Vietnam is one of Apple’s fastest growing markets. In a recent letter to shareholders, Apple, admitting to facing difficulties, said it still has high hopes on several markets including Vietnam.

At a meeting with Facebook’s head of global affairs, Nick Clegg, Phuc said he wanted the company to help develop Vietnam’s IT industry and especially work with startups and enable small and medium-sized to access information and facilitate trade through social media.

But bringing up the problem of dissemination of "incorrect information" on social media, he said Facebook should improve its information verification system to avoid distortions and fake information.

Many global executives told the PM they were happy with their business in the country.

A Heineken executive said Vietnam hosts its most creative production facility in the globe, while a Unilever official said its Vietnam business is a big success.

An executive from Italy's Ariston, which makes water heating appliances, said Vietnam is one of the firm’s important markets and manufacturing bases and it intends to set up new facilities.

Phuc said in preparation for Industry 4.0, Vietnam is set to pilot 5G technologies this year and begin commercial services in 2020, hoping to become a global leader in 5G.

Vietnam is among the countries with the largest optical cable network coverage of nearly 1 million km of cables and has 60 percent of its population using the Internet and 98 percent using 3G and 4G mobile services.

PM Phuc called on international firms to come to Vietnam and make Industry 4.0 products here.

He told the executives that Vietnam is an open economy, and increasingly so, as reflected by its trade rising to as much as 185 percent of GDP.

Its economy grew at 7.08 percent last year, the highest rate in 11 years, and GDP per capita is $2,600, according to official data.

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