AmCham Vietnam Weekly Update - 20th Week of 2020 - May 16, 2020
Activities Update
Colleagues, we hope you are enjoying the unique almost-normal environment we are enjoying in Vietnam now that most of the COVID restrictions have been lifted. Unfortunately, traffic jams are returning, too.

We were delighted to reopen for our first visitors at our office in the New World Hotel this week. Temperature screenings and use of hand sanitizer is required on arrival to the hotel lobby. 

We look forward to seeing many of you next Wednesday afternoon, May 20, at our first post-lockdown public event. Our Business Intelligence Briefing: Vietnam's Economic Recovery Prospects will feature an all-star panel of experts: Dean of Fulbright School of Public Policy and Management and Prime Minister Economic Adviser Dr. Vu Thanh Tu Anh; Managing Partner of McKinsey & Company Vietnam Marco Breu; VinaCapital Chief Economist Michael Kokalari; and Cimigo Managing Director Richard Burrage. The panel discussion, followed by a networking cocktail, will take place at the New World Hotel and will be a great chance to reconnect with colleagues, friends, and new contacts. Virtual participation will also be available.. 

Next week, we will start to hold some of our committee meetings (Digital Economy, Manufacturing, Healthcare) in a hybrid form to allow face-to face meetings and networking, while continuing to facilitate remote participation for our members throughout Vietnam, the region, and the world (time zones permitting). Some committee meetings (Logistics and Supply Chains, and HR) will remain all virtual next week.

We are delighted to be able to once again hold a live AmCham 101 New Members Orientation at the New World Hotel on Tuesday, May 26 (with virtual participation possible). We will also have a live-only Connect & Cocktails networking event poolside at The Reverie Saigon on May 27. 

Meanwhile, we want to let you know what AmCham Vietnam-HCMC is doing to support you as Vietnam reopens and begins its economic recovery. We also welcome your feedback at   team@amchamvietnam.com  to let us know how we can serve you better, including what topics you would like to see covered in upcoming events. A summary of recent actions is below:

1. Policy Recommendations.   AmCham Vietnam-HCMC continues to make an impact. Thanks to your feedback and recommendations, and expert advisers in our COVID19 Policy Task Force (Baker & McKenzie's Fred Burke, Nguyen Thuy Hang, Chung Yee, and Nguyen Thanh Vinh; AIM's Mark Gillin; and Mayer Brown's Ursula Szotyory-Grove), we are providing timely, constructive recommendations to the Vietnamese government on both COVID-related and general trade and investment policies. Last Saturday, both AmCham Hanoi and National Chair Ginny Foote and I participated in a meeting chaired by PM Phuc and government and business leaders from throughout the country (me virtually from HCMC). Ginny subsequently sent a letter with policy recommendations in her capacity as AmCham National Chair. This week, AmCham Vietnam-HCMC also submitted policy recommendations to the Ministry of Health from our F&B and Healthcare Committees, as well as recommendations to MOLISA from our HR Committee, and recommendations to VBF's Power and Energy Working Group on behalf of our Energy Committee. The HCMC People's Committee has requested a meeting with AmCham leaders in early June to discuss partnering to manage the COVID-19 response, and promoting economic recovery that should provide additional opportunities for policy discussions. HCMC Party Secretary Dr. Nhan also has requested to meet with AmCham in early June to discuss partnering to support HCMC's Digital Transformation and Innovation District plans, a meeting that should provide another opportunity for us to partner on issues of mutual concern.

2. Contributions of Goods and Financial Contributions by AmCham and our Member Companies to Support the Vietnamese Government's Response.   AmCham Vietnam-HCMC commends the effectiveness of actions taken by Vietnamese Government leaders in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and is proud of the contributions toward this response made by our member companies. We are delighted to see Vietnam's response finally getting global recognition.  

We really really hope we are going to announce an appeal next week for another COVID-19-related donation, this time to the HCMC Centers for Disease Control. We are ensuring due diligence as we facilitate purchase of a RNA/DNA extractor and a PCR analyzer. They are both critical equipment for COVID and beyond. T he total cost will be about $120,000. We hope you will be able to contribute to this important cause. Thank you to those who already have contributed, we hope to be able to arrange delivery of the RNA/DNA extractor to HCMC CDC late next week - we will keep you informed! For those who are wondering about the delays - both AmCham and the HCMC PCC are trying to avoid the lack of transparency issues that occurred in Hanoi CDC with respect to COVID-related equipment acquisitions.

Meanwhile, we are happy to highlight any COVID-related contributions from our member companies on our social media and with the U.S. Mission. Please email details to  Cindy Tran .

3. Identifying companies that want to manufacture Personal Protective Equipment for export to the United States.   The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has asked AmCham for assistance in identifying companies that may want to manufacture PPE for export to the United States. USAID is coordinating this initiative through the LinkSME program. If your company has interest/capability in manufacturing and exporting PPE, please contact Frank Weiand at  fweiand@linksme.org  for more information. We have had some AmCham companies express interest in a virtual workshop to help guide them through the regulatory requirements both in Vietnam and the United States. If you are interested, please let us know at  team@amchamvietnam.com .

4. Supporting Local Business.   We are happy to see some of the lockdown measures lifted, but know many businesses in Ho Chi Minh City and throughout Vietnam are struggling, due to the COVID-19 virus outbreak. The impact of the outbreak has been particularly hard on small, local businesses. We at AmCham want to support local businesses which contribute so much to our quality of life in Vietnam by inviting them to join our 2020 AmCham Discount Partnership Program. Please consider joining for your company or refer a favorite local business by sending their email address or a copy of their business card to Membership Manager  Sam Hoang . To our members, please make sure you support our Discount Partners, many of which now offer online shopping or delivery services. Click  HERE  for our Discount Partners information.  Note that Le Corto, P'ti, and Saigon Spring all joined this week! 

5. Supporting Vietnam's Front-Line Workers.   To continuously support the Vietnamese Government in the COVID-19 fight, AmCham Vietnam-HCMC would like to call for your contribution of less perishable food items to some of the front-line workers in Vietnam's hospitals and public quarantine areas. We are working with the Vietnam Fatherland Front of HCMC for this campaign. Contact Office Manager  Cindy Tran , who can ensure contributions are still welcomed and coordinate delivery.

Please stay well, be safe, and enjoy our new normal environment! And consider traveling in Vietnam or taking a staycation in HCMC. Many of our member companies' wonderful hotels are offering special deals!! 

Mary Tarnowka, Executive Director
Stay Informed- Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Outbreak
The COVID-19 situation is changing rapidly throughout the world, including in Vietnam. Vietnam is increasingly being recognized as a global leader for the effectiveness of its response. It has had 30 consecutive days of no community transmission, 314 total cases, 260 recovered, and 0 deaths; 12,236 individuals are now under quarantine or isolation.

Recommended precautions for most healthy individuals are careful hand washing, avoiding touching your face, disinfecting frequently-touched hard surfaces, wearing a mask when out in public, and practicing social distancing, including avoiding crowded or large gatherings.

We know that one issue of concern to many is when it will be safe to travel internationally and what options there are for quarantine on arrival. The current policies are stated on the U.S. Consulate's website, excerpted below. 

* For those wishing to depart Vietnam, international flights are presently very limited. Additional information regarding flights departing Vietnam can be found  here .

* The U.S. Embassy and Consulate cannot intervene in the quarantine rules established by the Vietnamese government, and may not issue any documentation requesting the Vietnamese government to waive the quarantine requirements for U.S. citizens. Please also note that the Vietnamese government has imposed strict penalties on violations. For further details, please see  “Question: What can you do for me if I’m forced into quarantine?”  on our Frequently-Asked-Questions page here.

As the recent positive cases in Vietnam - all while in quarantine upon arrival- demonstrate, quarantine somewhere will continue to be a critical part of Vietnam's reopening plans - at least in the near future. The HR Committee and our COVID Task Force are seeking to clarify these policies and will share additional information when available. 

Some additional tips below from Dr. Mason Cobb, Vice-Chair, and Dr. Andy Meadows, of AmCham Healthcare Committee’s Medical Providers Subcommittee:

One ray of sunshine in this pandemic is new scientific understandings from intensive study of this highly contagious infection.  New research emerges almost daily describing the biologic behavior of SARS-CoV-2, medications or other therapies already available or under investigation.  These advances will make us more effective in future viral outbreaks.  

Very recently, the US FDA cleared Remdesivir for more widespread use in a highly publicized announcement. Other agents showing promise are selected HIV medications, convalescent blood plasma transfusion, stem cell treatment, and immune suppressants to calm the “cytokine storm.”

Current hospital and ICU treatment for COVID-19 patients, however, is supportive care – intravenous fluids, oxygen, artificial ventilation if necessary, in the more severe cases. The idea is to let the body manage the viral infection itself via the immune system, as is often the case with viral infections as compared to bacterial infections, where antibiotics are effective and widely available.  Looking back, this new pathogen has only been recognized for about 5 months, with little specific information about it, but new and innovative treatments are already emerging to meet the deeper understandings of the disease.

While medications and hospital care are vitally important, the ideal solution lies in prevention through vaccination. There are currently eight vaccines for COVID-19 undergoing clinical trials in humans.  In addition, the WHO states there are more than 100 other vaccine candidates in pre-clinical evaluation around the world.  

A few notables from this vaccine list: in early May, the Moderna project received permission from the US FDA to progress to a Phase II trial; and, University of Oxford models anticipate an 80 percent likelihood for success and could be available as early as September.

We know the vaccine is the Holy Grail in controlling the pandemic.  This is a race to the wire and could pit nations against others in terms of who is first and how to manufacture and distribute the vaccine.  Mass-producing enough doses for the entire world will be a challenge and who gets the early lead may best be able to protect their people and determine the conditions for the rest of the world.

At this stage, we still do not know much about how long immunity will last, because it is so new and direct research is still lacking. Up to this point, all assumptions and lessons are largely based on older Coronaviruses, like SARS and MERS, but we still lack certainty for COVID-19.

The scientific understanding of immunity and documented evidence of this immunity for individuals, businesses, and communities – either through infection or immunization – will be key to both saving lives and fully resuming economic activity. 
Upcoming Events
4:00-7:30pm, New World Saigon Hotel, 76 Le Lai Street, Dist. 1
Gain insights on prospects for Vietnam’s economic recovery from an all-star panel of experts: Dean of Fulbright School of Public Policy and Management and Prime Minister Economic Adviser Dr. Vu Thanh Tu Anh; Managing Partner of McKinsey & Company Vietnam Marco Breu; VinaCapital Chief Economist Michael Kokalari; and Cimigo Managing Director Richard Burrage.
4:00-5:00pm, New World Saigon Hotel, 76 Le Lai Street, Dist. 1
At this new members event, you will learn more from our Executive Director, Mary Tarnowka, about AmCham Vietnam benefits, our mission, and programs to help new members achieve success, and how to get involved in and maximize your investment in AmCham membership. It is also a way to meet other new AmCham Vietnam HCMC members. While this event is designed for new members, we welcome other members on a space available basis. Contact  Ms. Sam Hoang  for more information.
Wednesday, May 27
6:00-8:30pm, The Reverie Saigon's Poolside, 22-36 Nguyen Hue Boulevard, Dist. 1

AmCham will continue our monthly informal networking event – AmCham Connect and Cocktails! The social distancing directives liberalized so we can hold our event at the poolside of The Reverie Saigon. Our AmCham Connect & Cocktails provides an opportunity to meet AmCham members and other professionals in an informal after-work setting over a glass of wine, beer, or a cocktail. Please plan to join for a great night of networking and our essential Lucky Draw!!
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Committee Meetings & Activities (For AmCham Members Only)
9:00-10:00am. AmCham Office, Room 323, New World Hotel, 76 Le Lai Street, Dist. 1

Agenda :
  • Decree 72 discussion and impact on AmCham members
  • May virtual event – week of May 25th, set a time that works for AmCham team. Discuss topic and panelists
9:00-10:30am. Please register to get the link for virtual attendance.

  • Air freight terminals – current operations changes & impacts (ex. Time window for trucks to arrive, security checks and lead times)
  • Air freight pricing mechanism – developments on break weight and trends.
  • Lufthansa case study/ies of solutions provided during last 2 months from VN (Sea/Air, use of passenger planes, medical equipment shipments, other innovation)
Thursday, May 21
9:00-10:00am. AmCham Office, Room 323, New World Hotel, 76 Le Lai St., Dist. 1

  • Updating from Manufacturing Committee Leaders
  • Presentation from COVID 19 outlook on FDI in manufacturing by Michael Chang, BWI
  • Q&A
Wednesday, May 27
4:15-5:45pm. KPMG Office, 10/F, Sun Wah Tower, 115 Nguyen Hue Blvd., Dist. 1

Monthly meeting to discuss 2020 priorities.
Thursday, May 28
10:00-11:00am. Please register to get the link for virtual attendance.

  • Employee engagement amid Covid-19 outbreak
  • Update labor regulations
  • Sharing process of business reopening
  • Sharing company experience
  • Q&A
Do You Know?
Let’s support local businesses - many now operating online or delivery/takeout only to promote social distancing. If you have any questions regarding our program, please contact Membership Manager Sam Hoang at sam.hoang@amchamvietnam.com
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The American Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam
New World Hotel Suite 323
76 Le Lai Street, District 1
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Phone: +84 28 3824 3562