Even though Vietnam is not one of the world's most technologically advanced countries, it has still been able to make a series of positive economic strides recently. Within the first economic quarter of 2018, Vietnam achieved a GDP growth rate of 6.81%, export growth of 21% with a surplus of nearly $3 billion, and an overall market growth of 7.38%, which its highest rate in 10 years .
Notwithstanding the encouraging numbers, there is still a lot of room left for economic improvement. Vietnam’s unemployment rate is at 2.2%, which has caused inflation, and the country has a lack of free trade with foreign nations. According to the Index of Economic Freedom, Vietnam ranks 141st freest in the 2018 index amongst all countries from around the globe, scoring just above a 53. The more “free” the country, the easier it is for them to trade freely globally and domestically and the ability to hold private property rights .
One of the areas the Vietnamese economy needs exposure to is artificial intelligence. What would hold back such an economy that’s trying to grow back to a globally competitive level from getting into this new wave of AI technology? Herve Vu Roussel, the current head of data engineering at the AI firm, Sentifi, points out in an interview how hard it is for AI companies to enter the Vietnamese market. He says, “A big problem that we have with AI is that there is such a high barrier of entry. It’s normally required to put in a year or two of research, and there just isn’t enough manpower here in Vietnam – not enough data, machine learning engineers, data scientists” . By making it easier for robotic and computer based companies to enter the Vietnamese market, the desire for more data and artificial intelligence will surge in throughout the country.
At Vietnam’s CEO Summit 2017, many of the country’s local businesses were encouraged to start developing new high-tech products that go hand-in-hand with AI. Nguyen Anh Tuan, CEO of the Boston Global Forum, spoke to these business leaders about the outstanding potential the country has to become an AI and technologically-advanced country. With an increasing population and consumption of new technologies, the Vietnam market is “more attractive to high-tech investors, such as Google, Facebook, Apple and Samsung” . To go along with this, some of the most well-know IT firms in the world are based in Vietnam, such as Viettel and FPT. If these IT companies join forces with local businesses, Vietnam can quickly join superpowers in the race for an AI driven economy.
Since Vietnam has some of the lowest labor costs in the world, the use of robots for labor would cost machine learning firms more money. Until the barriers to entry for technology companies, along with the inflation rate (3.53%), decrease to a standard level, it will be up to local businesses to get the Vietnamese people into big data and AI. These companies need to show their government that the hype surrounding this new market is real and opening trade borders will prolong the country’s recent string of economic growth and success.
Written by Robert Malzberg & Edited by Jack Vasquez & Alexander Fleiss
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