Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Getting Ready

EMBA 22 is furiously packing, planning, and generally getting things in order for our upcoming trip to Vietnam. While we can't report from Vietnam yet (though a few adventurous classmates are already out touring neighboring countries like Thailand and China), we did want to provide some quick background, namely, "Why Vietnam?"

This question has resonance for all of EMBA, but especially for me, as my father-in-law never tires of telling me, "I spent the 1960s trying to stay out of Vietnam... why would you go there voluntarily?!"

It's a good question, but fortunately there's a great answer: When it comes to economic development in the "developing world", Vietnam is a role model for other nations. Vietnam has one of the fastest-growing, most vibrant economies in the world, with average GDP growth of 7% for the last few years and two-thirds of the population under the age of 35. While nominally a communist country, Vietnam's government has taken steps in recent years to liberalize their economy, including major tax reforms since 2006 and joining the WTO (World Trade Organization) in 2007. These actions have helped bring in numerous foreign companies as well as engendered growth in the local economy for Vietnamese entrepreneurs. We'll be meeting some of the key players in both the local and international economies during our upcoming trip, including Intel, Ford, and several NGOs.

In many ways, Vietnam is copying the model carried out so successfully by China over the last few decades, which used foreign investment and know-how to develop their own infrastructure and workforce. In fact, by 2015, it is projected that Vietnam's per capita income will have doubled from 2008 levels to almost equal that of China's -- a remarkable turn of events.

It's back to packing for EMBA now, but we look forward to providing more updates as our trip gets underway!

Written by: Phil Obbard

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