Off to Vietnam

By Daniel Nardini

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Commentary

For all my readers, all those of you who possess iphones (and that is just about everybody), the chances are they may be Samsung Galaxies. More than any other single telecommunications company, Samsung dominates the iphone market, and is intent on expanding its share in the market. But to do this, the corporation must continually lower its costs in order to achieve maximum profits. The other thing is that all other telecommunications corporations are set up in China, so where does Samsung go to outpace the competition? The answer is Vietnam. Vietnam’s costs are way lower than those of China, and Vietnam now has the infrastructure for Samsung to be able to set up shop and move its 19 factories from China to Vietnam.

For years, South Korean companies have been moving their operations into Vietnam, and during this period of time Vietnam’s business infrastructure grew tremendously due in part to the investments by those South Korean corporations flooding into the country. Like Vietnam, South Korea had experienced devastation due to war (in the case of South Korea the Korean War from 1950-1953, and with Vietnam the Vietnam War from 1963-1975). Most of South Korea’s corporations essentially got their start with helping to reconstruct that country’s economy. The South Korean corporations want to help Vietnam in thoroughly modernizing its economy for the 21st Century.

One question; will Samsung’s move help to not only modernize but also democratize Vietnam? That is a major unknown. It did not do so in China, but then China is a much bigger country with a far more powerful Communist Party resistant to change. Could South Korean corporations have more influence in Vietnam? Being a much smaller country that needs all the investments it can get to balance off China, this is all a maybe. Still, I believe that the Communist Party of Vietnam will do all it can to retain absolute power, so I would not bank on any important political change. As for social changes……that remains to be seen. But the sad truth is that with single party rule there will also remain slave labor camps, political and religious prisoners, no real freedom of speech and of the press, and no way to change the structure of the government. So the next time you look at your iphone, you may want to think about all this.

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