China Aggression Sounds Wake-Up Call for Vietnam Makers

June 17, 2014

For more than eight years, Luong Thi Kim Oanh bought cases of thread from China for her garment factory in Hanoi. Last month, rattled by an anti-China riot in her country, she placed her first order from South Korea.

“I used to buy 90 percent of my thread from China,” said Oanh, 52, who employs about 200 people at Viet Hung Garments & Embroidery. “Shifting sourcing may cost us more, but we need to think of it now, or it may be too late. You never know how things may turn out.”

Oanh fears a further disruption in trade after last month’s violent protests following China’s placement of an oil rig in disputed waters. The unrest halted production at foreign-owned factories and caused Chinese workers to flee. While China is the nation’s largest trading partner, Vietnam must reduce its dependence and develop a contingency plan to cope with any “hiccups, turbulence,” Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chairman Vu Tien Loc said this month.

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