Shipments of Samsung phones from Vietnam surge

Friday, 9 November, 2012

The visitor to Vietnam is confronted by so many contrasts that it’s difficult to make sense of the picture. A buffalo stubbornly pulls a traditional wooden plough through rice fields as a sleek Toyota Lexus whizzes by on dangerously pot-holed roads. Tired workers gulp down rice noodles at ad-hoc sidewalk restaurants while svelte communists shop for the latest designs in luxury brand outlets nearby. The disconnect is visible but there’s no time to stop and think about it because the turbo-charged pace of life bundles everything into the future.

There is one thing, however, that unites everyone: the smartphone. It is the ultimate status symbol and is always conspicuously displayed. Calling and texting are constant, game playing and social media activity offer endless distraction and most people seem to be skilled at editing photos, shooting video and all the other multimedia options offered by top-end Samsung phones. That’s right, Samsung. The South Korean conglomerate has the Vietnamese market locked down. So, when Bloomberg News publishes a story headlined “Vietnam Tech Exports Overtaking Garments Eases Trade Gap“, it’s not surprising to learn that:

“Intel Corp. (INTC), Samsung Electronics Co. (005930) and Jabil Circuit Inc. (JBL) are among a growing roster of companies setting up or expanding in Vietnam, spurring exports amid a global slowdown that has damped demand for goods from other Asian nations. Shipments of mobile phones and other electronics from Vietnam surged 91 percent in the first 10 months of the year to $16 billion, making them the biggest source of export revenue.”

Reading further, we see that the Florida provider of electronics manufacturing services, Jabil, plans to increase its investment in Vietnam and we get a very telling observation from Alessandro Parimbelli, who’s described as “a Bergamo, Italy-based senior vice president of global business units at Jabil.” He says: “We’re trying to offer alternatives to our customers for whom some products are made in China, who whether because of the currency’s appreciation or for other reasons, don’t want to have all their eggs in one basket.”

The “or for other reasons” there could include the relative cost of labour, but there are other ways of interpreting that “one basket”, too.

Bike in Hanoi

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