Korean business travelers are checking in their luggage at Incheon International Airport to visit Vietnam on Aug. 19, 2021. Photo courtesy of Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry

How KCCI helps businesspeople enter Vietnam despite virus pandemic

This is the first article of a two-part series on KCCI’s efforts to help South Korean enterprises continue businesses in Vietnam through offering special entry to the country amid the virus pandemic. _ ED.

Back in early 2020, many South Korean enterprises were shocked as the virus pandemic caught the world by surprise. The stock market crashed, and many worried about their shutdown or defaults.

Those who did business in Vietnam especially got into a panic because the Hanoi administration put a strict entry ban to protect its people from the novel coronavirus.

Thanks to the prompt measures, Vietnam was dubbed as one of the early victors in a fight against COVID-19. But many South Koreans, who have businesses in Vietnam, struggled as they couldn’t enter Vietnam.

That was a big problem for Korea, one of the biggest foreign investors in Vietnam. As of the end of 2019, the number of Korean companies in Vietnam topped 9,000.

Then came the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), the country’s largest and oldest business organization, which joined hands with the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy and KOTRA. The country’s Embassy in Vietnam took part in the team.

Through tenacious efforts and brisk collaboration with the Hanoi government, the KCCI came up with a breakthrough _ Vietnam allowed special entries of South Korean businesspeople.

Koreans who visited Vietnam had to spend a two-week quarantine period, but they could resume their businesses in Vietnam _ factories started running again, and construction projects also continued.

Beginning on April 29, more than 4,000 Korean businesspeople and their family members could travel to Vietnam last year. The number also amounts to thousands this year.

“The measures normalized our construction projects, thus enabling us to finish them within the contracted period. We appreciate both the South Korean and Vietnamese governments for their efforts to care about us,” a Hanwha E&C official said.

“Vaccine track” introduced

The KCCI went a step further by introducing the so-called “vaccine track” system this summer, which reduced the quarantine period for vaccinated travelers.

Korean businesspeople had to go through just seven days of compulsory quarantine if they submit negative PCR and vaccination certificates.

It was a special treatment. Back then, the COVID-19 pandemic expanded in Vietnam, prompting the country to impose a 28-day quarantine for all visitors.

Up to 84 people from 50 Korean companies, which operated businesses in Vietnam, first enjoyed the benefits in the Southeast Asian country in late August.

After that, many Korean corporations could send managers and technicians to Vietnam, who could focus on their work after a reduced period of quarantine.

“After the fourth wave of COVID-19 broke out in Vietnam this April, we could not enter the country, and so we lacked people to operate facilities there,” a Kia official said.

“As we have restarted business travel, however, we will be able to continue the development of three cars there.”

A representative from camera module manufacturer Namuga also said: “Until now, none of our engineers could visit Vietnam, which made it difficult to develop and roll out products.”

“In particular, we struggled to manage quality control because our engineers were not there.”

KCCI Vice Chairman Woo Tae-hee commented that the chamber would continue to put forth efforts to cooperate with Vietnam for a win-win relationship.

“The ASEAN region, including Vietnam, is the overseas production hub for our corporations. Hence, the special entry to the country being pushed for this time, despite the pandemic,” he said.

“The special entry of vaccinated business travelers and the reduced quarantine period are feats, which greatly demonstrate our companies’ willingness to invest in Vietnam. Through such efforts, we also will be able to win the trust of the Vietnamese government.”