Dow Continues to Contribute in Solving Some of World's Most Pressing Challenges

To learn about the role of the chemical industry in economic development as well as Dow Chemical contribution and plans in the cooperation of manufacturing and industrial development in Vietnam, Vietnam Business Forum interviewed Mr. Tomoyuki Sasama, Vietnam Country Manager of Dow.

1.   As one of the leading companies in the chemical industry, how do you assess the role of chemical industry to the manufacturing sector in particular and the Vietnamese economy as general?

The chemical industry plays an important role in the society because it mainly contributes to producing consumer goods in the daily life. Specifically, the chemical industry is providing essential materials to the manufacturing sector to create many useful and indispensable products for consumers such as medicines, plastics, electronics, synthetic fabrics, petrochemical, petroleum, chemicals used in agriculture as fertilizers and crop protection. In addition, the chemical industry also supports other industrial sectors, not just consumer goods. For example, pure water which is essential in the semiconductor industry which plays an important role in manufacturing. In developed country, chemical industry supports other industries valued up to 50% of the GDP.

In Vietnam, the manufacturing sector plays an important role in the industrial development strategy of Vietnam which strives for the 2020 goal to basically become a modern industrialized country. In recent years, Vietnam has gained a great achievement in a number of manufacturing industries such as textiles, footwear, electronics... As a result, the export turnover annually increased and contributed to the GDP growth as well as the competitiveness enhancement of Vietnamese industrial products in the region and in the world. Thus, the development of chemical industry and manufacturing sector is very important and the driving force for the Vietnamese economic development to reach the 2020 goal.

2. The implementation of TPP and AEC is an important factor to push up Vietnam’s manufacturing and industrial sector develop. What is your opinion about the opportunities and challenges for Vietnam when join to these trade agreements?

As a TPP member, the Vietnamese manufacturing industry, for example, garment and textiles, automobile, electronics... would have more opportunities accessing markets in the other 11 members. However, Vietnam needs to develop its supporting industries. Specifically, the apparel, clothing and dying manufacturing process need to develop to benefit from TPP via the rules of origin. In addition, the development of supporting industries for the automobile industry which has relatively long supply chain should be speeded up because other car export countries like Japan and US will need parts manufactured in Vietnam to enjoy the preferential import tax.

Furthermore, with the realization of ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) at the end of 2015 which is known as a single market for goods, services, capital and labor, enterprises in ASEAN will have the opportunity to expand trade and investment with a huge market of US$2.6 trillion and over 622 million people. Currently, ASEAN is one of the key trading and investment partners of Vietnam. AEC will help the Vietnamese enterprises boost exports and lower production costs because tariff rates and non-tariff barriers are removed. However, apart from the benefits obtained from the AEC, this is a two-way street and some Vietnamese enterprises could face some challenges. These are the competition pressure from imported goods and services from other ASEAN countries as Vietnamese exports are mainly raw materials and lower value added products. Thus, the Vietnamese businesses need to innovate, improve product quality, improve labor skill and productivity, and invest in acquiring  new technologies and equipment to improve their competitiveness and increase value added to products manufactured while preserving the environment with sustainable development in mind.

3. International economic integration requires higher standards in manufacturing and services. What is the plan of Dow to cope the challenge in higher demand of quality product in near future?

Our founder, Herbert H. Dow, once said, “If you can’t do it better, why do it?” This is the attitude that has driven Dow people throughout our more than 100-year history. It’s all about pushing the boundaries of what the world thinks is possible to passionately innovate what is essential to human progress. Over the years, our innovative solutions have served customers across the globe and helped address many of the world’s most challenging problems.

One of the significant goals of Dow is to provide foreign and local manufacturers with customized products and services that will enable them to produce products of the highest quality to strengthen their industries. In addition, Dow is committed to offering excellent services, shortened lead time, and reduced costs, in order to help enhance business competitiveness by facilitating technology transfer, skills and global exposure in many aspects of production, marketing and after-sales services. Significantly, in order to promote sustainability, Dow continues to contribute in solving some of the world’s most pressing challenges, including energy, climate change, water, food, housing, and health by operating with strong environmental conservation and sustainable development platforms.

4. Dow has implemented many programs of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) to contribute positively to the sustainable development of Vietnam after 20 years presence in the Vietnamese market. Would you share some more information about this program?

Dow’s typical smart CSR programs in Vietnam throughout its two decades of presence in the country include: Empowering more than 2,000 enterprises with knowledge about cleaner production through over 36 workshops on “Training of Cleaner Production and Waste Management for Businesses in Vietnam”; Training ISO 14000 for over 800 engineers in 2015 to improve their awareness on environment protection and sustainable development; Solving the needs of clean water for rural schools and hospitals through more than 20 reverse osmosis water purification systems with a capacity of up to 7,000 litres per day per system. In 2015, Dow in collaboration with People’s Aid Coordinating Committee (PACCOM) has helped more than 3,000 pupils and teachers in the country to access clean, safe and certified water; Collaborating with Habitat for Humanity to solve the challenge of decent housing for over 20 underprivileged families and a variety of other meaningful programs in education and healthcare.

Furthermore, acting as a Co-Chair and one of the founding members of Vietnam Business Council for Sustainable Development (VBCSD), Dow has actively contributed to Vietnam’s sustainable development through VBCSD’s action plans and the Vietnam Corporate Sustainability Forum to help Vietnamese businesses enhance their competitiveness in a sustainable way. Specifically, with our Dow 2025 Sustainability Goals, we aim to develop a blueprint for a sustainable planet and society through collaboration across our value chain. Over the next decade, we will advance the well-being of humanity by helping lead the transition to a sustainable planet and society. Dow will not only support the sustainable development projects, but also Dow involves our people and partners in Corporate Social Responsibility projects. Dow will implement the program of Engaging Employees for Impact Dow employees worldwide will apply their talents to positively impact the lives of 1 billion people, including Vietnam.

Significantly, on December 9, 2015, Dow was awarded by the American Chamber of Commerce in Hanoi (AmCham) – a prestigious association of American business community in Vietnam - and the United States Ambassador to Vietnam presented AmCham CSR Awards 2015 for its smart CSR projects done for many years in Vietnam. This award once again recognised Dow’s effective contribution to the sustainable development of Vietnam after 20 years of presence in the Vietnam market. Dow was appreciated by the United States Ambassador to Vietnam, Mr. Ted Osius for its continued contribution to the development of the industry and community Vietnam as well as to promote a good bilateral relations between Vietnam and the United States.

5. As a global provider of diversified and advanced chemical products, what are Dow’s specific supports to help Vietnam develop manufacturing and industrial sectors?

Dow combines the power of science and technology to passionately innovate what is essential to human progress. Dow is driving innovations that extract value from the intersection of chemical, physical and biological sciences to help address many of the world's most challenging problems such as the need for clean water, clean energy generation and conservation, and increasing agricultural productivity. Dow's integrated, market-driven, industry-leading portfolio of specialty chemical, advanced materials, agrosciences and plastics businesses delivers a broad range of technology-based products and solutions to customers in approximately 180 countries and in high-growth sectors such as packaging, electronics, water, coatings and agriculture. From energy-efficient building and construction materials, to semiconductors and advanced electronics, to food packaging and plastic applications, Dow’s expertise and innovative solutions incessantly strive to address growing national and economic challenges and concerns while focusing on sustainability and safety.

Since 1995, Dow has been a partner in Vietnam’s progress and development and has always been committed to contributing to the country’s industrial growth for the long term. Dow has been providing products which are essential to Vietnamese farmers and manufacturers who are involved in electronics, appliances, crop protection, water and waste water treatment, home and personal care, communications, alternative energy, health, and nutrition businesses, as well as in transportation and construction. Dow envisions to becoming a key partner of Vietnam’s economic growth and prosperity for the long term, by driving innovations that help enhance the strength of Vietnam’s industries sustainable. Significantly, Dow will help the Vietnamese supporting industries and manufacturing industry add value to make use of the TPP, AEC and other FTAs benefits.

Dow has made a firm commitment to be part of Vietnam for a long term. This commitment goes beyond the financial investment, but becoming a part of the industry, contributing to shape the society, sharing best practices to benefit the chemical industry, and developing Vietnamese to lead and manage the organization.


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