VSIP, II-VI, and a Mall

I put on my best business casual for today. The highlight of my morning was when I tied my tie without any help.

We visited Vietnam-Singapore Industrial Park (VSIP), an industrial and township developer, and II-VI, an engineering company that produces photonics, performance products, and laser solutions. Between the visits, we walked around a mall for a while.

First, we listened to the professionals at VSIP. It was originally founded as a joint venture between the governments of Vietnam and Singapore. Its goal was to create industrial land and residential areas. Currently, VSIP is working for profit- it is no longer managed by the governments. It is not a surprise that Vietnam pursued this effort with another country. Right now in Ho Chi Minh City, an expensive subway system is being developed with help from the Japanese government. These partnerships are beneficial since projects have the resources of two governments behind them. At the same time, communication between the governments, companies, and workers may be more difficult, due to differing culture, management styles, and levels of expertise.

VSIP produces three things: industrial land, ready-built factories, and commercial or residential spaces. A foreign company would lease land from VSIP and build a factory on that land. Or, VSIP could rent out one of its ready-built factories to a foreign company. On top of this, houses are built in the industrial parks for the workers. The park is managed with 24/7 security, and it offers amenities like golf and football. I see VSIP’s industrial parks as an indication of Vietnam’s transition into exporting more high-tech products. These spaces are perfect for engineering companies to bring greater expertise to the country.

Next, we went to a mall. It had three floors and lots of shops. Some areas, such as the shoe stores and fast food restaurants, looked identical to American malls. This mall differed most in the food area. We walked through a group of shops that reminded me of Reading Terminal Market in Philly. Fresh food was everywhere, the most popular being fish and rice. Large areas were dedicated to fruits, vegetables, and fish, much larger than stores I have seen in America. Vietnamese people value freshness and a connection to nature, so it makes sense that the supermarket would be organized this way. To make a long story short, I bought a donut there.

A sick ride we found

Within one of VSIP’s parks, we visited an engineering company called II-VI, (these numbers stand for group II and group VI on the periodic table). It is headquartered in Pennsylvania with locations worldwide. The company produces semiconductor equipment, extremely precise lenses, and electronic component coolers. Outside companies approach II-VI with a design for an electric component, and II-VI will fabricate it for them. II-VI also offers base models of their components for purchase.

The main reasons II-VI came to Vietnam are the tax incentives, the low labor cost, and the ability to operate in a VSIP industrial park, since II-VI has worked in Singapore. One downside to operating in Vietnam is training workers to produce high-tech products, a process that can take three months to two years. To get around this, II-VI chunked its production process into small steps so that workers can start earlier. I enjoyed seeing the high-tech side of Vietnam with my own eyes!

Tomorrow, I will learn about Buddhism.

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