We had another early start today as we took off for our two site visits at 7:30 after breakfast in the hotel. The first site visit was to VSIP, a township developer that is a partnership between the Vietnamese Government and Singapore. The whole idea behind the company is essentially to lease land within the large industrial parks they own to different companies and allow them to build their factories there and eventually manufacture their products. Within the industrial parks there are restaurants, residential areas, and shopping areas. The representative from VSIP put a lot of emphasis on the fact that they have houses and apartments within the parks and that they are trying to encourage the people who work in the industrial parks to live there as well. To me, it almost felt like they were trying to create societies within each of the industrial parks where the people who work there don’t ever have to leave. I also kind of got the sense that the whole company exists just to get the foreign investment from Singapore. Because people in Vietnam cannot own land and can only lease it from the Government, it seems like the whole company could be run through the Vietnamese Government itself. But, because foreign investment was needed to set up the framework for the industrial parks, a new company was created to pair the Vietnamese Government with Singapore. Partnerships and agreements like this one seem to be common for the Vietnamese Government as they continue to develop. The government has partnerships with other countries within companies like Phu My Hung, and they have also entered themselves into several free trade agreements to boost investment and continue expanding their economy. I think the idea of partnerships and free trade agreements is a great idea for the Vietnamese Government. If they had tried to fix their economic issues internally, they most likely would not be having the same amount of success they currently are, but by opening their borders and allowing other companies and countries to take advantage of the efficient labor and other opportunities within the country, they have been able to kick start their economy.
For lunch we went over to the mall in the industrial park and had the chance to walk around for a while where I was surprised to see a lot of the name brand stores that we are used to in the US like Nike, New Balance, and Adidas. I also saw a grocery store that had a lot of foods that I am not used to seeing in the US, especially in the meat and seafood section. There was a whole section filled with just fish heads. There were also a few small tanks that had things like turtles and eels available for purchase. Also, a lot of the meat in the grocery store wasn’t covered and if you were planning on buying it you had to grab it with tongs off the ice. But, I did buy a really good strawberry donut that was only comparable to the giant donuts that you can get in Springfield, The Simpsons section of Universal Studios in Orlando.
After lunch we stayed inside the industrial park and went to visit II-VI, a manufacturing company that produces engineering materials, optoelectronic components, and optical systems. A lot of the engineering concepts used throughout the production process were complex and confusing, but I enjoyed the tour of the factory and seeing how everything is produced. Within the factory, each worker had one job which they repeat all day in order to produce their products. It is efficient as each worker is eventually able to master their part in the process and create a lot of products, but I couldn’t imagine doing the exact same thing every day. The training process for these workers was also interesting. II-VI has a highly skilled labor force compared to a lot of other companies in Vietnam and has to spend a lot of time training their employees. I couldn’t believe that some of their employees are trained for up to a year before they are working in the factory, but I understand why it is necessary after looking at the tiny, complex parts being created that need to work perfectly every time.
Today was another tiring, but exciting day and I can’t wait to get back to UEF for another language class before our trip to the market tomorrow.