Vietnam should seize a ‘rare’ opportunity to take on China – by Tim Culpan (Japan Times/Bloomberg – February 6, 2024)

Vietnam’s hopes of becoming a production hub to rival China are showing momentum. A big boost will come as the nation leans into its untapped reserves of rare earths, even as it struggles to find traction in new sectors such as electric vehicles.

Over the past decade, the country has built a beachhead in manufacturing, ranging from cars to electronics. Computers and accessories are now the largest export, surpassing textiles and footwear. The expansion of foreign assemblers like Foxconn Technology Group, GoerTek and Luxshare Precision Industry mean that Apple products like Macs and AirPods are made locally.

While that energy has spurred the birth of other businesses, some have stumbled. Electric-vehicle maker VinFast Auto, for example, recently posted full-year shipments that missed its own forecast by more than 20%.

Although Apple now has 25 supplier sites in Vietnam, that still pales in comparison to 151 for China and 41 in Taiwan. A key reason is the high concentration of component manufacturers in China.

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