Time: 5:00 PM – 8:00 PM, Wednesday, February 3, 2020
Venue: Poolside villa, 3rd Fl., Park Hyatt Saigon, 2 Lam Son Square, District 1

Colleagues, you are invited to our first 2021 Chairman’s Circle reception next Wednesday, February 3, from 5-8:00 PM at the Park Hyatt. This event is invite-only, no substitutions. Registration is on a first-come, first-served basis with a limit of 20 participants. While some of our speakers may join us virtually, this exclusive event will be in-person only.

Our event will take place two weeks after the inauguration of the Biden-Harris administration, and just after the January 25-February 2 Vietnamese National Party Congress in Hanoi.

The topic is 2021 U.S.-Vietnam Leadership Changes and the Impact on Your Business. By joining, you will be part of an exclusive group of business leaders gaining access to a critical business intelligence briefing. You will also have the opportunity to contribute to AmCham Vietnam’s strategy to leverage these leadership changes to strengthen our bilateral trade and investment partnership, and lay the groundwork for a U.S-Vietnam free trade agreement, either bilaterally or as part of a regional FTA.

We will begin with soft drinks, wine, and cocktails poolside from 5-6 PM. From 6-7:30 PM, we I’ll move inside to the poolside villa where you will have the opportunity to hear from a panel of top economic and political experts from Vietnam, the region, and Washington DC about the impact of new leadership in both the United States and Vietnam, and the opportunities and challenges these leadership changes create for those of us doing business here in Vietnam. Chatham House rules will be used to enable a candid discussion.

During the discussion, you will be served a series of elegant small plate hors d’oeuvres, with continued free flow of beverages. If your schedule allows, we invite you to return to the poolside terrace for a drink or coffee or tea after from 7:30-8 PM.

Please reserve your place as soon as possible by replying to [email protected] to enable our planning.


Nguyen Xuan Thanh
Lecturer of Public Policy
Fulbright School of Public Policy and Management

Nguyen Xuan Thanh has twenty years of experience in teaching, designing, and implementing development policies in finance and public investment. At Fulbright University Vietnam, Thanh teaches at the Fulbright School of Public Policy and Management. Nguyen Xuan Thanh also is a senior fellow at the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, Harvard Kennedy School (HKS). Prior to joining the Fulbright School, Thanh served as an official in the municipal government of Ho Chi Minh City.

Thanh’s research interests are banking, public investment, and infrastructure development. His recent and ongoing research projects include financing infrastructure development and cross-ownership in Vietnam’s banking sector.

At the Fulbright School, Thanh teaches courses on Introduction to Public Policy, Local and Regional Development, Appraisal of Public Investment, and Leadership in the Public Sector. He also teaches regularly in the Fulbright School’s executive education and participate in policy dialogues with public sector agencies in Vietnam and Southeast Asia.

Thanh earned a B.A. (hons) in economics from the University of New Delhi, an M.S. in economics in finance from the University of Warwick, and an M.P.A. from Harvard University.

Nguyen Khac Giang (virtual from New Zealand)
Co-author of “Civil Society in Vietnam: An Institutional Approach”

Nguyen Khac Giang is a researcher on Vietnamese affairs. He was formerly Head of the Political Research Unit of the Hanoi-based Vietnam Institute for Economic and Policy Research (VEPR). His co-authored book, Civil Society in Vietnam: An Institutional Approach, was published in 2018 and received the IRED’s Best Book in Economics Award. He writes extensively for major Vietnamese and English news outlets, including the VnExpress, Saigon Times, Zing News, Vietnamnet, the Diplomat, and the East Asia Forum. Giang is currently a PhD candidate at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, where he compares the Vietnamese and Chinese political developments.

Michael Kokalari
Chief Economist

Michael Kokalari, CFA is the Chief Economist of Vietnam’s largest private equity fund manager, VinaCapital ($3b AUM), where he sits on the investment committee and is responsible for guiding the firm’s overall investment strategy.

Mr. Kokalari worked in Vietnam for 10 years, prior to which he was a derivatives trader in Tokyo & London for 15 years, running multi-billion dollar trading books at JP Morgan Chase, Credit Suisse First Boston, Lehman Brothers, and Paribas. Mr Kokalari co-authored the CFA guide to Credit Derivatives, and was a contributor to the book “Risk Management: Foundations for a Changing Financial World (2010)”, along with Nobel Prize winners Myron Scholes and William Sharpe of Stanford University.

Mr. Kokalari holds Masters Degrees in Business, Engineering and Mathematics from Stanford University, and is a graduate of the Advanced Management Program (AMP) at the Harvard Business School.

Steven Okun (virtual from Singapore)
Senior Advisor
McLarty Associates

Steven Okun is a renowned expert on US politics, government and trade and an in-demand speaker.

Steve is a Senior Advisor for geostrategic public affairs firm McLarty Associates based in Singapore, where he works with global clients across the Asia Pacific region. Previously, he was head of public affairs for UPS and then for global investment firm KKR. He serves on the Board of Governors of the American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore.

Steve provides analysis on a regular basis for both CNBC and Channel NewsAsia with appearances on other global media, as well as writing regular commentary for Singapore’s The Straits Times.

Formerly Deputy General Counsel in the Clinton Administration at the US Department of Transportation, he worked on each of the presidential campaigns of the Democratic candidates from 1988-2000.

Dr. Deborah Elms (virtual from Singapore)
Founder & Executive Director
Asian Trade Centre (ATC)

Dr. Deborah Elms is the Founder and Executive Director of the Asian Trade Centre (ATC). She is Vice Chair of the Advisory Board for the Asia Business Trade Association (ABTA), Co-Chair of the Trade Policy Committee of the Global Trade Professionals Alliance (GTPA), and also a senior fellow in the Singapore Ministry of Trade and Industry’s Trade Academy. Previously, Dr Elms was head of the Temasek Foundation Centre for Trade & Negotiations (TFCTN) and Senior Fellow of International Political Economy at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. Dr. Elms received a PhD in political science from the University of Washington, a MA in international relations from the University of Southern California, and bachelor’s degrees from Boston University. Dr Elms publishes the Talking Trade Blog.

Charles Freeman (virtual from Washington, D.C.)
Senior Vice President for Asia
U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Charles Freeman, senior vice president for Asia at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, has been helping companies navigate complex markets in the Asia-Pacific for 25 years. His career included senior stints in government, business, law, and academia, giving him a unique perspective on the challenges and opportunities in the world’s most dynamic region.

During his government career, Freeman was assistant U.S. trade representative for China affairs, serving as principal U.S. trade negotiator with China. He also was legislative counsel in the U.S. Senate, where he concentrated on East Asian economic and trade issues.

After leaving government, Freeman consulted on Chinese and other Asia-focused business and policy matters for some of the world’s leading companies during market entry, expansion, and crises phases alike. He also served as PepsiCo’s vice president for global public policy and government affairs for Asia, the Middle East, and Africa.

In addition, Freeman was chair of China studies at Washington, D.C.-based think tank the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). Earlier, he was based in Hong Kong with The Asia Foundation and the International Herald Tribune and worked as a securities lawyer and venture capitalist investing in emerging markets in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and China.

He is on the board of directors of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations and Harding Loevner Funds, an internationally focused mutual fund group. He is also a senior adviser to CSIS.

Freeman earned his doctor of law degree from Boston University’s School of Law and his bachelor’s degree in Asian studies and economics from Tufts University.He did postgraduate work at Fudan University in Shanghai and studied Mandarin Chinese at the Taipei Language Institute.


Mary Tarnowka
Executive Director
AmCham Vietnam

Prior to her time with AmCham Vietnam, Mary worked extensively to help U.S. businesses thrive in Asia. As U.S. Consul General in Ho Chi Minh City from August 2016 to July 2019, she oversaw a period of tremendous growth in the U.S. comprehensive partnership, including two unprecedented visits by a U.S. president to Vietnam in 18 months. Mary actively promoted mutual peace, prosperity, and people-to-people ties in central and southern Vietnam. She particularly focused on strengthening the bilateral trade and investment partnership in the dynamic southern region.Mary was a member of the senior Foreign Service, with decades of experience in Asia, including postings in Seoul, Delhi, Shanghai, and Taipei, as well as at the State Department’s China Desk and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. Prior to joining the State Department, Mary worked as a Certified Public Accountant and Manager at KPMG’s International and High Tech Tax Division in San Francisco.


Limited seating: 20 maximum. Registration will be on a first-come first-served basis.

Please confirm your attendance by replying to [email protected].

Registration fee: VND 2,500,000

We are unable to accept reservations/cancellations by telephone.