Vietnam (official name: the Socialist Republic of Vietnam) is the 8th most populous country in Asia, and the 13th most populous overall. More than a decade of average growth rates of roughly 7% starting in the early 2000s has made Vietnam one of the world’s premier emerging markets, although subsequent economic stumbles have tempered somewhat the early enthusiasm.
Vietnam is a traditionally Confucian society, and this holds a variety of implications for business. As with many other Asian cultures, building a personal relationship is an essential part of the business relationship. Consensus is prized in the decision making process, and “committee decisions” are common. This can lead to delays in arriving at a final decision. Since most decisions are made by a group, there will rarely be a single person who can help “push through” a decision, as is the case in some other countries in Asia.
Relationships and trust are essential, so whenever possible, arrange for an introduction to prospective business partners through a mutual third party associate. Commitments are very important, so do not say anything or make any commitments unless you intend to follow-through.
Always be sure to demonstrate ample respect for seniority. The most senior person always enters the meeting room first.
Vietnamese generally have a strong sense of national pride and value their independence tremendously. It can be useful to acquaint yourself a bit with Vietnamese history.
In Vietnam, “yes” does not always mean “yes”. Confirm, double confirm, and even triple confirm all understandings to avoid confusion. If someone says “no problem”, it can sometimes mean that there is a problem.