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Vietnam’sMade-in-Vietnam phones only have plastic covers made in Vietnam phone set exports have been increasing steadily year after year. However, most of the exports are made by foreign invested enterprises.

According to the General Department of Customs (GDC), the phone set export turnover had reached 9.24 billion dollars by mid October 2012, an increase of 4.66 billion dollars (101.8 percent) in comparison with the same period of the last year.

Phone manufacturers still have been gaining high growth rates despite the economic downturn. However, “phone manufacturers” here mean foreign invested enterprises, not Vietnamese.

The made-in-Vietnam products

Vietnam reportedly exports 2.3 billion dollars worth of phone sets in 2010. Since that year, phones have been added into the list of the key export items of Vietnam and the list of the products with high growth rates.

In the first nine months of 2012, the phone set export turnover reached 8.63 billion dollars, up by 122 percent in comparison with the same period of the last year.

However, the high export turnover does not mean the strong development of the Vietnamese phone manufacturing industry.

2009 and 2010 were considered the golden age for the manufacturers that make the products bearing Vietnamese brands, namely Q-Mobile and Bluefone.

The “Vietnamese brand mobile phones” means the products are bearing Vietnamese brands, but are made in China. The only thing that can be made in Vietnam is just the phone’s plastic cover, which makes up less than one percent of the value of the product.

“We don’t have chip, board or battery manufacturing factories. How can we make really Vietnamese mobile phone products?” said Dinh Anh Huan, Business Director of The Gioi Di Dong (Mobile World), one of the biggest mobile phone distribution chains in Vietnam.

Dr Nguyen Minh Phong, a well-known economist, said that Vietnamese enterprises deserve no credit for the high achievement.

The big export turnover of mobile phone products has been associated with the South Korean manufacturer Samsung whose export turnover is up to one billion dollars a month.

What does it mean by “Vietnamese phone industry?”

Experts all affirm that Vietnam still cannot make mobile phone products from A to Z. Vu Minh Tri, General Director of Microsoft Vietnam, said Vietnamese enterprises just simply assemble parts, or import finished products for domestic sale, do the marketing for foreign products, or make some mobile apps.

Nguyen Van Dao, Deputy General Director of Samsung Vina, also said made-in-Vietnam mobile phones have been churned out and distributed all over the world since 2009, when a Samsung’s mobile phone factory in Bac Ninh province became operational.

However, a purely Vietnamese mobile phone, designed and made in Vietnam, or designed and outsourced to foreign companies has not come out yet.

“Vietnam still does not have a fundamental for the electronics – telecom industry. We can design some parts of the products or organize small scale production, but we are not experienced enough to design and make a complete product,” Dao said.

A long path ahead

In early October 2012, Viettel Group launched into the market Sumo 2G mobile phone V6206, stating that the product is designed by Viettel and made on its production line. This is a very important step made by Viettel in implementing its strategy to produce telecom equipments.

However, experts say with the product, Vietnam is still at the very beginning of the mobile phone industry development, and that Vietnam still needs to do many more things before it can obtain a phone manufacturing industry.

(Vietnam Net)

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