The requests that textile factory manager Huynh Thi Ai Diem receives are almost always the same: A foreign company is desperately trying to relocate production from China to Vietnam. Tariffs imposed by the U.S. have eaten away their profit margin. Can she help?
Huynh would like nothing more but is swift to provide a reality check. She only has enough workers, raw materials and factory space to produce one-fifth the volume of bath towels and apparel churned out by her chief competitors in China. Her prices are competitive, she says, but contrary to popular belief, they aren’t cheaper than those of her Chinese rivals.
“Our prices are reasonable and we can deliver good quality, but we can only take small orders,” said Huynh, a manager at Phong Phu, a 54-year-old manufacturer.
Few countries have benefited more than Vietnam from the year-old trade war between the United States and China. Companies, already under pressure from rising production costs in China, have been scrambling to identify factories to work with in the Southeast Asian country to avoid heavy tariffs.
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