Stuart Dean, chief executive officer of GE in ASEAN, talks with VIR’s Song Ngoc on the sidelines of Vietnam Summit Economist Conference 2012.
I heard that the GE factory in Haiphong plans to expand?
For GE, demand is looking pretty good this year, globally. The US economy in particular is surprising but to the upside, there was such great pessimism coming out of Europe. We’re finally getting some significant job creation in the US which I think is really what is needed and I’d say significant consumption in the US has increased. Asia is, continues to be very strong.
Commodities remain very strong so commodity-based economy like Australia and Canada, Middle East, Africa are performing very well, and they’re going to buy the kind of products that we’re producing in Vietnam. It’s a good news.
Can you provide some more details about GE’s plan to expand in Haiphong?
The answer is we are doing well in Haiphong and going to continue to grow the number of wind turbine generators that we produce in Haiphong and we are looking at other products to build in Haiphong. But I can guarantee you there’ll be additional products that we will manufacture. We have about 500 employees today. You know the vision is to grow the employment there to 1,000. It means twice what we are today.
You said that 20-25 per cent of parts in GE’s factory in Haiphong are now locally manufactured?
Yes, it is the right number.
In some interviews with VIR, you talked about the shortage of skilled labour. Is GE’s factory in Haiphong now running very smoothly?
No, it’s not a problem now. You know, we don’t expect a perfect workforce on day one. So just like we do everywhere else around the world, we’re developing and training our workforce to get better because our customers expect us to get better all the time. But I think we’ve got workforce that wants to learn and that are excited about the challenges of being really the leading source of high technology wind turbine generator for the world.
Foreign direct investment (FDI) in Vietnam has fallen in the last few years. As a foreign investor in Vietnam, what do you think about the FDI in Vietnam in 2012?
I think Vietnam was probably too successful in attracting foreign investments for such a long period of time. So I don’t think it’s such a bad thing that things are slowing down a little bit and Vietnam can digest the investments that it has and the investors can prove, like GE doing business in Vietnam. So I’m not too concern about the FDI in Vietnam slowing.
Slowing down will also help the country deal with inflation which is very serious. Again I think Vietnam has a lot of selling points for investors both local and foreign going forward. Vietnam is becoming more administratively efficient place to do business, eliminating subsidy and creating a playing field. It’s the great thing that the government has said that. Vietnam’s growth is about 5-7 per cent. We’re very optimistic about Vietnam both in term of market as well as a place for GE to invest.
Song Ngoc (vir.com.vn)