Message from the Chair – December 2019

Warmest greetings of the season!  We at AmCham Vietnam-HCMC are grateful for our members and for all of your wonderful support this year.  We could not have achieved the many successes and opportunities for our members and the Chamber without your active participation and generous sponsorships.  Together with you, our engaged Board of Governors, dedicated staff, and our new Executive Director Mary Tarnowka, we have reached a record number of members at AmCham Vietnam-HCMC, engaged in important national and local advocacy efforts, and hosted many high-quality business and signature events.  As we wind down 2019 and embark on our 26 th  year in 2020, we continue to strive to improve the business climate for trade and investment between the U.S. and Vietnam.

December has been very busy for AmCham—from our signature annual Governor’s Ball and Santa’s Breakfast—to our Annual General Meeting with new Board members announced—to an important meeting with the People’s Committee of Ho Chi Minh City—and other advocacy papers and business events in between and after—the month was packed with important AmCham work and a bit of fun!

Arguably the most fun and anticipated AmCham annual event of the year—this year’s Governor’s “Silver” Ball on December 7 th  was once again a huge success.  Our dedicated ball committee of community volunteers and AmCham staff worked many months to pull off an amazing, festive event, transforming the Intercontinental Saigon into a glittering wonderland with incredible food, beverages, entertainment and amazing prizes, with over 100 raffle and auction items.  New this year, we offered four one-of-a-kind items for live auction. Through the generosity of our sponsors and many guests, we raised a record high $46,000 for our flagship corporate social responsibility activity—our two AmCham scholarships programs. Thank you ball guests and sponsors for helping us reach a new high!

To see more great photos and to check the many raffle prize numbers drawn at the end of Ball, see the following link:

One week prior to the Ball, we awarded 60 university students with the annual AmCham Scholarship. Now in its 19 th year, the merit-based AmCham Scholarship supports university students with funds for their education, as well as training and experience for their post-graduation future.  Since its founding in 2001, AmCham has awarded 935 scholarships, now working with 19 partner universities. Congratulations to our new AmCham Vietnam Scholars!

Earlier this year, we awarded 55 scholarships to female university students in STEM majors through our Women in Engineering scholarship. Since its founding in 2001, this program now has 315 alumnae, with 8 partnering universities in HCMC and Da Nang.

Again, thanks to your generosity at the Ball and the corporate sponsors and volunteers who help us all year long, we are able to reach and promote many talented students at local universities, many who also find opportunities with AmCham corporate members through internships and jobs after university.

On December 10 th  we hosted our Annual General Meeting, where we updated our members on the accomplishments, as well as an overview of the membership and financial position of AmCham Vietnam HCMC. We were honored to also have  U.S. Deputy Principal Officer Tim Liston participate and address the importance of continuing the AmCham partnership with the U.S. Mission in Vietnam. Our Nominating Committee Chairperson, Walter Blocker, also announced the following members have been elected to continue an additional term or begin a new one as an AmCham Vietnam HCMC Governor: Michael Beckman (EY Law Vietnam); Milton Hagler (Fluid Power & Controls, Co. Ltd.), Michael Kelly (Ho Tram Project Company – The Grand); Jahanzeb Khan (Suntory PepsiCo Vietnam Beverage); Colin McCandless (InterContinental Saigon Hotel & Residence); Kevin Moore (Vietnam Waste Solutions); Jonathan Moreno (Diversatek Vietnam); Hang Nguyen (Baker & McKenzie); Chad Ovel (Mekong Capital); Soren Pedersen (SSA Marine); Sai Ramana Ponugoti (P&G Vietnam); and myself (Indo Trans Corp). I look forward to working with these great individuals who will join the full Board in January 2020 to govern our organization, uphold its mission, and assist the Chamber in supporting our business communities. At the end of 2019, we will say good-bye and thank you to departing Board Members: Sandra Cho, John Nguyen, Bill Watson, and Sasha Stinchfield.

On December 13 th  we held a joint working session with the People’s Committee of Ho Chi Minh City, where we held meetings with both Chairman Nguyen Thanh Phong and Standing Vice Chairman Le Thanh Liem and many City department leaders for an afternoon session of open collaboration with many from the AmCham Vietnam board, our Executive Director Mary Tarnowka, several sectoral member experts, and Consul General Marie Damour and others from the U.S. Mission about partnering to develop the physical infrastructure, regulatory ecosystem, and talent to take U.S. investment in HCMC to the next level.

Earlier in the day, Mary Tarnowka also met with Director of the Department of Foreign Affairs Huynh Duc Truong from the People’s Committee of Da Nang, who visited to thank us for our support of U.S. trade and investment in Da Nang and to plan for joint programs in Da Nang in 2020.

This week, Mary Tarnowka traveled to Hanoi to participate in a private-sector roundtable discussion on Vietnam’s draft PPP law coordinated by VCCI, the Ministry of Planning and Investment, and AmCham.  AmCham members, including LNT Partner and Founder Le Net, had the opportunity to share their views with global PPP expert and Harvard Professor Akash Deep and Fulbright School of Public Policy Dean and Prime Minister Economic Adviser Vu Thanh Tu Anh, prior to their high-level meetings this week on the draft PPP law with senior Vietnamese officials.  Mary also met with VCCI Chairman Dr. Loc to raise other key advocacy concerns of AmCham members that we hope can be resolved in the lead up to the Vietnam Business Forum (VBF) meeting with the Prime Minister in early January.  One of the issues she shared was a position paper advanced earlier in the month to the State Bank of Vietnam from our ICT committee on the introduction of foreign ownership limits to the fast-growing payments and fintech sector which, if enacted, will significantly restrict the ability of Vietnamese fintech startups to raise institutional capital from foreign investors. The position paper addresses the current draft decree amending Decree 101 that imposes a foreign-ownership cap which may drive out current innovation and prevent others from coming.

Looking forward to 2020!

We are already making plans for early 2020 before the Tet holiday. On January 10, 2020, I am honored to present the joint paper for the HCMC and Hanoi AmCham chapters at the annual VBF as the National Chairwoman of AmCham Vietnam. Our AmCham submission to the VBF is now being finalized with our Hanoi chapter, based on member concerns raised largely through our committees. This session’s focus is on identifying sustainability efforts and innovation opportunities to take Vietnam into the fourth industrial revolution.  The following week will continue on that theme as we launch our  Entrepreneurship and Innovation Initiative with an interactive workshop on January 14 with a design thinking interactive event led by an innovation firm in Ho Chi Minh City. Later that day, we will be launching the Capital Markets Committee at an event to bring together industry members to network, share business insights, and identify issues for advocacy.

We will also welcome our new and returning board members for our first meeting of 2020 and planned strategy session to identify top objectives and initiatives for the coming year.  As always, we are interested in your ideas and feedback on how we can improve the Chamber, so please reach out to anyone on the board as we undertake our planning next month.

Membership – Renewal & New Members

Renew Your Membership TODAY for special savings

For many of you, it’s time to renew your membership for 2020 and continue your involvement in AmCham, with opportunities for networking, information-sharing, advocacy to improve the business environment, and promotion of your business. Your calendar year renewal can be renewed for 2020 with the 2019 membership price–so act now and pay before December 31, 2019 for this savings opportunity.

Do not forget to update your company profile online and for printing in the 2020 Membership Directory  when you renew.
Contact Ms. Sam Hoang  with any questions.

New members

On December 10th, we welcomed several new AmCham members prior to our AGM at another AmCham 101 session. We were pleased with the turn-out, and our Executive Director Mary and Membership Manager Sam are always excited to meet and share all the opportunities in person with new members.

This month, we welcome the following new members:
Bronze Premium Member:  TH Group
Corporate Members:  Amorepacific Vietnam, Areco Realty Company (Maihouse Hotels & Resorts), Dong Thai Company, ILA Vietnam, KalaPress Vietnam, ILA Vietnam, Lab Group International Vietnam, Lab Group International Vietnam, Northstar Precision Vietnam
Senior Professional Member:  Mr. Larry Lane

Again, thank you for your support in 2019!  Wishing you a Happy Holiday and joyful New Year.

With Best Regards,
Amanda Rasmussen