Smart busi­ness

Viet­namese cross-bor­der work­ers ride China’s eco­nomic boom

Global Times - - Front Page -

It is the busiest time of the year at Nguyen Thien Kam Wan’s goods store in Dongx­ing, a Chi­nese bor­der city in Guangxi Zhuang Au­ton­o­mous Re­gion.

Ahead of Sin­gles’ Day, China’s an­nual shop­ping bo­nanza, the Viet­namese busi­ness­woman had been ship­ping Viet­namese spe­cial­ties to Chi­nese buy­ers, who placed or­ders for more than 2,000 bags of dried jack­fruit alone.

“It [Sin­gles’ Day] is larger than our sales in a nor­mal month,” she said.

For many years, Nguyen Thien Kam Wan has crossed the bor­der from the Viet­namese city of Mong Cai to Dongx­ing ev­ery morn­ing, be­fore re­turn­ing home to Viet­nam af­ter the work­ing day is over.

She re­ceived less than $100 a day when run­ning the busi­ness in 2003, but now, her daily rev­enue sur­passes $500, partly thanks to the Chi­nese e-com­merce plat­form Taobao, which she and her Chi­nese friend have used since 2014.

“Back in 2003, I didn’t see many Viet­namese busi­ness­peo­ple like me, and I al­ways fin­ished work early. But now, cus­toms has ex­tended the clo­sure time to 7 pm,” she said.

Grow­ing cap­i­tal

In the 1990s, China be­gan al­low­ing bor­der res­i­dents to con­duct small-scale cross-bor­der busi­nesses, at­tract­ing Viet­namese res­i­dents to Dongx­ing, which is just across the bor­der from Mong Cai.

In 2012, the Dongx­ing gov­ern­ment al­lowed Viet­namese res­i­dents to open stores in the city, fu­el­ing an­other surge in the num­ber of work­ers cross­ing the bor­der.

Ac­cord­ing to gov­ern­ment data, there are now 1,886 Viet­namese stores op­er­at­ing in China, with reg­is­tered cap­i­tal of more than 28 mil­lion yuan ($4.3 mil­lion).

Fur­ther­more, as of March 2016, there were 10,000 cross-bor­der work­ers filling a va­ri­ety of jobs in Dongx­ing, ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cial statis­tics.

Busi­ness be­tween China and Viet­nam is boom­ing, with bi­lat­eral trade hit­tig $100 bil­lion in 2016, which has led to an in­creas­ing num­ber of Viet­namese work­ers com­ing to work in the city dur­ing the day.

China’s mirac­u­lous eco­nomic growth since the coun­try’s open­ing up and re­form in the late 1970s has ben­e­fited its neigh­bors, in­clud­ing Viet­nam, es­pe­cially in bor­der trade, ac­cord­ing to Phung Thi Hue from the In­sti­tute of Chi­nese Stud­ies at the Viet­nam Academy of So­cial Sciences.

In ad­di­tion to tra­di­tional trade in goods, some bor­der res­i­dents of the two coun­tries have seized op­por­tu­ni­ties in China’s boom­ing e-com­merce sec­tor, said the se­nior re­searcher.

Fig­ures from data provider Syn­tun show that China’s ma­jor e-com­merce sites recorded nearly 254 bil­lion yuan (about $38 bil­lion) in sales over 24 hours dur­ing this year’s Sin­gles’ Day on Novem­ber 11, the name of which de­rives from the date 11/11 as it re­sem­bles four “bare sticks,” a term used in China to re­fer to sin­gle peo­ple.

Fac­tory op­por­tu­ni­ties

Be­sides com­muters, an in­creas­ing num­ber of Viet­namese work­ers have been sta­tioned in fac­to­ries in Guangxi’s bor­der ci­ties such as Pingx­i­ang as well as Dongx­ing.

Dongx­ing be­gan im­ple­ment­ing a pi­lot scheme in 2015 al­low­ing eight lo­cal fac­to­ries to hire about 1,000 Viet­namese em­ploy­ees for a sin­gle stay of up to six months. Now, more than 4,000 Viet­namese work­ers are hired by nearly 20 fac­to­ries in the city as the scheme ex­panded. Pingx­i­ang be­gan its pi­lot scheme in early 2017.

As a ben­e­fi­ciary of the pi­lot, Hoang Chun­yan works at Dongx­ing Yicheng Food De­vel­op­ment Com­pany, earn­ing at least 2,000 yuan a month, higher than a sim­i­lar job would of­fer in her home­town.

The com­pany, with more than 300 Viet­namese work­ers in the peak sea­son, pro­vides em­ploy­ees with ac­ci­dent in­sur­ance, giv­ing its ma­chine work­ers peace of mind.

Viet­namese em­ploy­ees help re­lieve the short­age of blue-col­lar work­ers in bor­der ar­eas, ac­cord­ing to Jiang Lian­sheng, head of Guangxi’s com­merce depart­ment.

“China’s Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive will bring closer co­op­er­a­tion be­tween the two coun­tries and bor­der trade will be more pros­per­ous,” Phung Thi Hue said.

“There­fore, more and more Viet­namese peo­ple are ex­pected to seek jobs in China.”

Sev­eral Viet­namese ven­dors from the Viet­namese city of Mong Cai, just across the China-Viet­nam bor­der, sell goods in Dongx­ing, Guangxi Zhuang Au­ton­o­mous Re­gion dur­ing the Na­tional Day hol­i­day.

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