BASF placing focus on education and sustainability

11:34 | 06/10/2020
German chemical giant BASF has been very active in the Vietnamese market and, with the official entry of the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement, the company is seeking to make an even bigger mark. Erick Contreras, managing director of BASF Vietnam, talked with VIR’s Thanh Van his insight into the trade agreement and the company’s key focus areas moving ahead.
1512p10 basf placing focus on education and sustainability
Erick Contreras, managing director of BASF Vietnam

The EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) has allowed the trade relationship between the two to further develop. What is BASF’s plan to tap into this?

As a global leading chemical company headquartered in Germany and active in Vietnam since 1994, we are thrilled to see the trade relationship between EU and Vietnam now brought to the next level with this milestone. With this trade pact, both markets will enjoy preferential import duties, of which many are with immediate effect. We are confident that local consumers will have a greater access to safe and quality goods made in Europe and the EU consumers can now enjoy more Vietnamese clothing, electronic, and agricultural products, among others – now increasingly popular for its quality and affordability.

In addition, both sides have agreed to streamline customs procedures, facilitate new investments, and protect labour rights and the environment. All in all, this will certainly help boost the trade between the two markets and support in economic recovery for both the EU and Vietnam.

At BASF, we supply high-quality chemical ingredients and cutting-edge technologies to export-oriented companies, many of them to the EU market, to help them meet the EU’s stringent standards in terms of quality, safety, and other technical barriers. At the same time, we contribute to the success of those serving the domestic market, which increasingly requires higher quality of food and environmental standards.

Which positive impacts does the EVFTA bring to BASF’s sustainability commitments in Vietnam?

The agreement goes beyond just tariff elimination. It also covers protecting human rights and the environment, among other measures, which creates a lot of opportunities for us to further contribute to Vietnam’s sustainable development. In fact, we have been helping our customers and communities for more than two decades to address numerous challenges, including air pollution, food safety, and energy efficiency.

For example, our agriculture solutions help crops tolerate droughts and lack of irrigation water, while maximising nutrition absorption and stress tolerance, therefore improving crop yields and quality. Our micronutrients for staple food fortification help provide better nutrition to children and adults. We also offer comprehensive automotive solutions of coatings, polyurethane, and fuel additives that improve not just comfort, quality, and appearance but also emissions control and fuel efficiency.

With our focus on sustainability, BASF also works with our partners across the value chain to offer training and capability building in chemical safety, health, and the environment, helping our suppliers and customers enhance the safety and competitiveness of their products and businesses.

Last but not least, we also play a crucial role in educational development with our signature programme BASF Kids’ Lab along with other initiatives, nurturing the next generation of scientists and young leaders.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, the world is facing a new normal with many changes as a result. How does this year’s events impact BASF and BASF Vietnam in particular?

We highly value the health and safety of people. We have rapidly adapted ourselves with the new normal in many aspects to protect our business continuity and wellbeing of our employees, business partners, and customers.

We have introduced a wide range of hygiene and safety measures in all our offices and plants, including handwashing, mask wearing, social distancing, and conducting virtual meetings. Shortly after the outbreak began, we also introduced remote working options for our employees, allowing our teams to maintain their daily work at home while taking care of their children.

Amidst the prolonged pandemic, what I miss the most is the daily interaction with our teams and our customers. However, thanks to new technologies, we can still organise virtual discussions on a regular basis from the comfort of our home or offices, seamlessly. I am proud to see how our colleagues have demonstrated their great sense of teamwork and commitment despite the challenging backdrop of the pandemic.

What contributions has BASF made to fight against COVID-19 globally and in Vietnam?

BASF has contributed considerably in the fight against the coronavirus. We conducted a global campaign called “Helping Hands” to donate 100 million protective masks to Germany, and another one million masks to the western German state of Rhineland-Palatinate, where our headquarters is located. BASF has committed to fighting the pandemic worldwide with a total donation of approximately €100 million ($117 million).

Another focus is the production of hand sanitisers. Around one million litres of disinfectants have been delivered free of charge to hospitals and medical facilities in many countries. Nevertheless, our teams around the world have also initiated diverse activities to support those who need it the most in this critical time. In Vietnam, we conducted a matching funds campaign between the company and employees to support frontline workers at quarantine centres through the Red Cross and around 150 elderly people at Lam Quang Pagoda, a nursing home for senior citizens.

We are very proud to see even the smallest contributions can help to flatten the curve and build community resilience amidst the coronavirus.

By Thanh Van

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