Inchcape Pacific blames legislation for slack trading

PUBLISHED : Friday, 18 February, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 18 February, 1994, 12:00am

DESPITE being among the first foreign firms to set up a representative office in Vietnam, Inchcape Pacific continues to find it difficult to establish a vibrant trading operation in the country.

Inchcape Special Markets managing director Lord Cromer feels that current legislation in Vietnam is preventing the international trading firm from establishing a proper importing and distribution business there.

''We would like to form a joint venture to import and distribute products in Vietnam, but this is a no-no,'' he said.

''If we want to import products in Vietnam, we have to do it in alliance with state-owned enterprises.'' As a result, Inchcape's trading operation in Vietnam was modest, Lord Cromer said, and the company had to be content with building up relations with companies there to position itself for possible legal changes down the road.

Until the importing process had been made easier, a large amount would continue to be smuggled into the country to avoid the high tariffs and stifling bureaucracy, he said.

Last month, Inchcape expanded its operations in Vietnam by becoming the first insurance broker - with state-owned Baoviet - to become fully licensed to conduct retail business in the country.

Lord Cromer said that was a huge step forward because the Vietnamese Government saw manufacturing as its first priority and took a long time to be convinced of the importance of insurance.

''I think they could see that if they didn't do it, they were not following progress in the rest of the world,'' he said.

''They could see that foreign investors would look for this sort of service, and if they did not find it in-country, they would go outside.''