Mr. Sanket Ray, CEO of Coca-Cola Vietnam, tells VET's Hai Van about Vietnam's potential.

Can you tell us about Coca-Cola Vietnam’s achievements in recent times?

2017 was a satisfactory year for Coca-Cola Vietnam in terms of business performance. We completed our last commitment of $300 million for the 2013-2016 period. We also announced new investment of $285 million for 2017-2020, for our manufacturing plants in Hanoi, Da Nang, and Ho Chi Minh City. We launched Fuzetea+ and Ginger Coke, which were greeted with wide acceptance and success. And Coca-Cola was also listed in the Top 100 enterprises paying the highest corporate income tax in 2016 by the General Department of Taxation (GDT). Overall, we achieved stable growth and are ready for even higher growth in the years to come as a total beverage company with new innovations for our consumers.

At Coca-Cola, however, we do not just focus on producing and making profits - we also strive to fulfil our social responsibilities. We are committed to helping society in as many ways as possible with our sustainability programs, which totaled $1.5 million in 2017 and spanned various practices such as women’s empowerment and local development. We are grateful for our success here in Vietnam and we are honored to be among the Top 4 most sustainable companies in the production sector, based on the Corporate Sustainability Index from the Vietnam Business Council for Sustainable Development (VBCSD) at the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI).

What is your view of the impact on Vietnam’s business environment over recent years by foreign-invested enterprises in the retail segment? What has been impact of the country’s business environment on Coca-Cola’s development in recent years?

Vietnam is an emerging market, growing fantastically, and is a very good market for any business. I was very impressed by the speech Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc made during the Vietnam Business Summit at APEC 2017 about the development of Vietnam’s economy in recent years. One of the key business indicators he mentioned was Vietnam’s movement up 14 places to 68th among 190 countries in the 15th edition of the World Bank’s Doing Business 2018 report. I am also pleased with the government’s continued investment in infrastructure development, which will help open up more business cooperation opportunities for international businesses. These actions enable us, as an international business, to be increasingly confident in continuing to invest in Vietnam.

As a multinational company, Coca-Cola appreciates all the support we have received from the government since the very first day we began operations here. All of this support has allowed us to continue to make our business sustainable, with more products for consumers and greater contributions to the community.

The success of a company is reflected in the prosperity of the surrounding community, which is a key factor in our business. We and our partners are very happy to witness what we have done and contributed to both the business environment and the Vietnamese community. We have coordinated with many localities and non-government organizations to carry out practical projects to help local people, such as clean water provision at EKOCENTER and the 5by20 project to promote the empowerment of 5 million women to 2020. We have also worked on climate change projects, most notably Monkey Cheeks for water management. Last year, together with the VBCSD and the US-ASEAN Business Council (USABC), we launched a project called “Supporting SMEs in Vietnam for Sustainable Development 2017”, to provide training for SMEs and focusing on innovation, supply chain management, and corporate social responsibility.

Do current policies and procedures support Coca Cola’s business activities?

As mentioned above, we appreciate all of the support we have received from the government since we arrived in Vietnam, especially support for foreign investors. This support has allowed us to continue to make our business sustainable, with more products for consumers and more contributions to the community.

As a multinational company with extensive experience in doing business in many countries, we have cooperated with government agencies to improve policies and procedures and provided the most suggestions to support businesses in Vietnam.

What are Coca Cola Vietnam’s plans in the time to come? What would you propose regarding policies or administrative procedures to support foreign enterprises in the retail sector and improve the country’s business environment?

Since our entry into Vietnam, Coca-Cola Vietnam has firmly established our position as a key and trusted partner of Vietnam in achieving its vision of being a highly integrated and competitive country. Beyond expanding operations and business-driven goals, Coca-Cola has a longstanding commitment to deliver sustainable and inclusive growth for Vietnamese citizens with our continuous investments. For example, our plants in Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang and Hanoi provide up to 4,000 direct jobs and 6-10 times that number in indirect jobs. We aim to maintain this momentum by being successful on a larger scale and having a deeper impact on local communities.

Regarding regulatory practices, we are committed to adhering to the World Health Organization (WHO)’s call to limit the intake of free sugars to less than 10 per cent of total energy. We will reformulate our products with a lower sugar content by introducing smaller pack sizes and adding new categories such as tea and coffee into our product portfolio, to offer more choice to Vietnamese consumers. As for our sustainability strategy and the local business environment, we are planning to install solar power at our plants, which is aimed at accounting for 20 per cent of current power consumption. We will also highlight our recycling efforts to encourage public participation in climate change response and environmental protection. Jointly, we will generate more value in a circular economy like here in Vietnam. Having an influence on both the economy and the society will take more than just investments, so hopefully Coca-Cola will receive endorsements from Vietnamese consumers for our upcoming investment implementation for the 2017-2020 period.