President of Pacific Group Co., Ltd.: Efforts to Connect Vietnamese and Japan Businesses

9:31:43 AM | 6/14/2023

The Vietnam-Japan relationship has always been strong in terms of economic, trade and investment cooperation. This is largely thanks to the efforts of businesses and entrepreneurs who have been promoting Vietnam’s potential and resources to Japanese partners and bringing investment and technology to Vietnam. Mr. Le Ngoc Anh Minh is one of them. He has dedicated nearly 30 years to promoting Vietnam-Japan business cooperation. Our reporter has an interview with Mr. Le Ngoc Anh Minh, President of Pacific Group Co., Ltd regarding this issue.

President of Pacific Group Co., Ltd Le Ngoc Anh Minh (right) and Japanese Ambassador Yamada Takio at Vinh Phuc Conference on Vietnam-Japan cooperation and development connection, June 2022

Could you please tell us about what has made you persistently promote Vietnam-Japan business cooperation over the past three decades?

Vietnam-Japan business cooperation has developed for a long time. After World War II (1939 - 1945), Japan quickly rose to become the world's second-largest economy. In 1990, its per capita GDP was higher than that of most Western countries. It was also the time when Vietnam reformed and opened up. In 1992, Japan resumed its official development assistance (ODA) aid to Vietnam, opening up opportunities for many Vietnamese people to access new Japanese resources such as capital, technology, techniques and experience.

I was born in Vung Tau City. After 1990, I worked for some Japanese construction companies and participated in many transport and energy projects such as Phu My Thermal Power Plant and Nhat Tan Bridge. In 1996, when I had the opportunity to go to Japan and witnessed its development achievements, I admired the Japanese people but felt sorry for our nation and wanted to see Vietnam learn from them to have a new development. Happily, my Japanese friends seemed to understand and expressed their willingness to share resources and experiences with me. Since then, I have gradually invited and encouraged Japanese friends to do business in Vietnam and always tried my best to establish business relations between companies of the two countries.

Japan's top priority is supporting Vietnam in developing infrastructure. This field is also your crosscutting activity over the past time. Would you tell us more about it?

I have been to many countries such as China, Korea, Malaysia and Japan whose governments always pay attention to investing in infrastructure to promote economic development. It is also easy to imagine why Japanese ODA projects prioritize infrastructure.

During the first years of cooperation with Japanese friends, I consulted and managed projects under programs agreed upon between the governments of the two countries. Later, we cooperated to develop and invest in many highway, seaport, industrial park, urban area and energy projects. One example of such cooperation is the intensive industrial park designed for Japanese investors in Ba Ria - Vung Tau.

Pacific Group has developed renewable energy projects such as a 125-MW biomass power plant in major input provinces like Quang Tri, Nghe An, Quang Ngai, Phu Yen, Binh Dinh and Gia Lai. The group has also promoted offshore wind power projects and new-generation industrial complexes in Gia Lai province, as well as many projects in Hai Phong, Quang Ninh, Hau Giang and other localities.

Leveraging its experience with many projects and its good international relationships with prestigious Japanese investors, Pacific Group consults and manages large infrastructure projects. In addition, the group develops new-generation projects that create different added value for customers and aim for sustainable development for the community.

Pacific Group meets with IHI Delegation of Japan

Besides infrastructure, how has technology transfer been focused on by you and Pacific Group in recent years?

Japan possesses advanced technologies in the world and also takes the lead in scientific and technological applications. Japanese companies and organizations have launched training and consulting programs on manufacturing technology innovations for Vietnamese companies. Notable Japanese firms include Aots, Toyota and Denso.

In that common context, we have also cooperated with many Japanese partners to transfer and apply new technologies to production and life. Specifically, we cooperated with JS Trading Co, Ltd to introduce electronic glasses technology to make products that help blind people see and read words; provide nanocoating paints and input robots in place of office workers; and apply AI technology in agriculture. We also collaborated with Hayabusa Holdings Inc. to distribute Ecomo energy-saving equipment directly connected to transformers to reduce power loss by 3-15%. Pacific Group also joins hands with Japan Innovation Consulting to bring Vietnamese agricultural products to Japan; with Kansai Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) to carry out the zero-carbon chain I-REC program; and with SkyDrive to bring flying vehicles into Vietnam.

I believe that, with the determination and strong support of the Vietnamese and Japanese governments, cooperation in tech innovation is not only an opportunity but also an effective tool to realize sustainable development goals and aspirations.

Mr. Le Ngoc Anh Minh meets with Congressman Yochiro Aoyagi (2nd from right) 

The cooperation with SkyDrive is of great interest to Pacific Group because of its new innovative ideas that help remove traffic infrastructure “bottlenecks” in major cities in Vietnam today. Would you mind revealing your expectations for this?

Traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions are challenging issues in big cities in our country. At COP26, the Vietnamese government pledged to achieve zero emissions by 2050. Many businesses and localities are also aiming for zero-emissions energy consumption and transportation.

Pacific Group has always strived to develop new-generation projects to reduce environmental pollution and has lobbied for the establishment of the Vietnam ASEAN Hydrogen Club (VAHC) to promote hydrogen industrial development and reduce harmful emissions. The cooperation with SkyDrive is aimed to solve environmental and traffic problems in Vietnam today.

SkyDrive is a flying car company established in July 2018 and granted a safe flight license by the Japanese Government. Since its inception, SkyDrive has always promoted the development of flying vehicles and drones and tried to make airplanes popular transportation for all. SD-05 is a compact two-seat electric aircraft with vertical take-off and landing, operated by the pilot and supported by a computer. SD-05 can travel up to 10 km at a maximum speed of 100 kmph. This capability can well meet the needs of transportation in urban areas and resorts and for emergency services.

On November 28, 2022, after a considerable study, Pacific Group and SkyDrive signed a memorandum of understanding to buy 100 SD-05 flying vehicles for distribution in Vietnam. The two sides also cooperated in evaluating the landing and take-off infrastructure, routes, network planning and infrastructure requirements. We are currently coordinating with a number of agencies such as the Ministry of Transport, the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam and the Ministry of Defense to clear “bottlenecks” to make flying cars a means of transport soon.

Pacific Group also arranged working sessions between SkyDrive and its partners in order to make Vietnam a leading base for the development, production, maintenance and distribution of flying vehicles in cooperation with Japan. Faced with the diverse and necessary needs of life and especially with the advantages they bring, I believe that flying cars will become a means of transport in some key cities and tourist areas in Vietnam in the near future.

Pacific Group "shakes hands" with SkyDrive to distribute flying vehicles in Vietnam

You have recently also tried to arouse and spread the spirit of innovation in the Vietnamese business community following advanced models, including Japan. Could you please tell us more about this?

Recently, the Government of Vietnam is making efforts to build an innovation network with the participation of experts and intellects from developed countries around the world, including Japan.

With its role, Pacific Group has carried out many startup and innovation activities like consulting Vietnamese companies to cooperate with Japan; supporting business connections, promoting cooperation between Vietnamese and Japanese companies; organizing innovation and entrepreneurship events; and exchanging information on innovation and startups in Vietnam and Japan.

I know that young people in Vietnam are currently seizing this opportunity to acquire Japanese technologies, which is very gratifying. I think that young people should not be afraid to try, should take brave action to go beyond their own limits and immerse themselves in creativity, from which we can have initiatives and solutions to create sustainability and take advantage of every opportunity for development.

What do you think about your Japanese friends?

Many Japanese people, such as the late Prime Minister Abe Shinzo, are popular with Vietnamese people. Personally, I have many Japanese partners and friends, but I adore and have a close relationship with Congressman Yochiro Aoyagi, who always makes great efforts to cultivate a good relationship between the two countries. He was also awarded the Certificate of Merit by the State of Vietnam for these contributions.

Mr. Yochiro Aoyagi has actively cooperated with agencies and individuals to successfully organize annual Vietnam festivals in Tokyo since 2008, both creating great encouragement for the Vietnamese community and helping introduce the image of Vietnam and promote Vietnam-Japan cooperation. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Vietnam-Japan diplomatic relations, in June 2023, he will continue to chair this important event. With the theme "Hope", the 2023 Festival will bring good aspirations of Vietnamese and Japanese people, businesses, localities and governments.

Mr. Le Ngoc Anh Minh talks with Mr. Yasuyuki Fujishima, former Ambassador of Japan to Panama 

What do you personally think about cooperation prospects? What are the bottlenecks that need to be cleared to enhance business cooperation flows between Vietnam and Japan?

Recently, governmental leaders of the two countries affirmed that Vietnam-Japan cooperation is at the "best" stage and their business flows are also very strong. Mr. Yamada Takio, Ambassador of Japan to Vietnam, also said that business activities of Japanese companies in Vietnam are buoyant, connected by three chambers of commerce and industry in Vietnam, with more than 800 members in Hanoi. He believed that 2023 is the year to lay the foundation for great strides in the Vietnamese and Japanese relationship.

Before the commitments made by the two governments, the business communities of Vietnam and Japan are delighted. That motivates us to further strengthen connectivity and tighten cooperation ties. However, in order to achieve more effective and substantive cooperation, it is thought that ministries, branches and localities should soon remove bottlenecks in vision, planning, institutions, and people. I also believe that, with the determination of the Government and the endeavor of businesses, existing bottlenecks will soon be cleared to enable Vietnam and Japan to lift their business cooperation to higher planes as expected.

Thank you very much!

Source: Vietnam Business Forum