In Hanoi this week, I asked a Vietnamese business executive whether he is optimistic about his country’s long-term future in light of its recent struggles. His response was that of a polished diplomat, which he was until recently. He said: “Nature is taking its course.”
That’s not only good diplomacy. It’s a powerful statement. Translation: Vietnam is struggling right now, as do all developing nations on the path to prosperity, but in the long run Vietnam will be fine.
For foreign investors, there’s a deeper message: Now is the time for winners to step up. After two years of negative international press that has repelled foreign capital, Vietnam’s opportunities are on sale. And the sale ends in the next year.
Vietnam has seen its share of unsettling headlines in the past few months about banks in crisis, corporate scandal, political disarray, bankrupt corporations, high inflation, and a real estate market that collapsed.
But throughout Vietnam, the reality on the ground is out of sync with reports from the World Bank to the Wall Street Journal. There’s a resilience in the countryside that has sustained Vietnam for millenia. People are industrious, hard-working and prosperous everywhere in Vietnam. Improvements continue to go forward in the country’s infrastructure. Freeways are under construction. Harvests are coming in as abundant as ever. And even as they complain openly about he government, families continue to do everything they can to improve their lives.
Meanwhile solid, well-managed companies throughout Vietnam are facing bankruptcy because they can’t get loans. Any investor traveling through Vietnam can see this is the time to swap capital for share of Vietnam’s future — and let nature take its course.