Dear CanCham members and supporters,

 

The following is an interview with Mr. Dang Hoang Phuong, Director of Thuan Chuong Company, a local Vietnamese businessman and CanCham member.

I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Hoang Phuong in early 2019 and learned about his business exporting live shrimp and black tiger prawns. I also learned that after working in the industry for about 15 years, he is an innovator who is redefining how aspects of his operations are being conducted that are impacting the whole industry.

Although most of his market has been in Asia due to the challenges of transporting live products, he is working to expand his market to Canada and to start importing Canadian seafood back to Vietnam. With this desire and the implementation of the CPTPP, along with a love of Canada, he joined CanCham.

Thuan Chuong Company has been a member for one year and Mr. Hoang Phuong has been active in chamber activities, joining last year’s AGM, our Canada Day celebration at the Consul General’s residence, and our annual Canadian Thanksgiving Dinner.

Mr. Hoang Phuong and his growing bilateral endeavours highlight a new era of Canada-Vietnam business possibilities and speak to the challenges – and the opportunities – ahead for those pursuing them. Businesses like Thuan Chuong are pioneers in the new trade environment and CanCham is excited to support his success.

Mr. Hoang Phuong agreed to share his story and outlook with the CanCham community. I hope you will read this interview and get to know a fellow CanCham member a little more.

Colin McDonald

Secretary, CanCham Board Member

 

  1. How did you get into the shrimp exporting business and how long have

you been doing it? Why are you working in this industry?

 

I grew up and was part of my family’s seafood business since 1987. After graduating from university, I worked in the field of civil construction because I wanted to build my own career. In 2004, when I was doing my favorite job at a large construction corporation, my family invited me to come back to expand and develop the family business.

 

I decided to quit my job in construction to join my family’s business in 2005 because I thought it was a very meaningful job. In particular, I could play an important role in business development while creating and stabilizing the market of black tiger prawn (oxygenated black tiger prawn), which was a very young market in Vietnam at that time.

 

The prawn’s market plays an important role in helping prawn farmers to increase their revenue and maintain their prawn farming activity. At the same time, our company is a reputable purchasing organization which they can rely on (back then, some companies bought prawns without transparency so prawn sellers were sometimes confused).

 

  1. What do you hope to accomplish this year? How do you see your

company changing in two years?

 

Achievements I look forward to achieving this year are:

 

First, I hope the Coronavirus will soon be contained and the market will soon stabilize.

 

Next, I would like to renovate our management system and expand our market, trade activities, and produce new products (high quality value-added products from black tiger prawn) for export. I would also like to successfully build a new brand in Canada or import seafoods products from Canada (Alaska lobster, Dungeness crab, salmon, etc.) to Vietnam.

 

In the past two years, our company has continuously developed, expanded, and gradually renovated technology as well as management ability, improving our prestige and position in the market of black tiger prawn and white prawn.

 

  1. Can you discuss or describe any innovations you have used in your

business in order to improve the performance of your employees or

business in general? Why is innovation more important than ever for

businesses today?

 

In the past 15 years working in the field of living prawn (oxygenated prawn), I have had many initiatives as well as innovations, to improve the efficiency of employees and the efficiency of our business in general.

 

For example: improving the technology of carrying and transporting living prawn which helps stabilize and increase the survival rate of prawns. Previously, the survival rate of prawn transported by truck from Western provinces (Ca Mau, Bac Lieu, etc.) to Ho Chi Minh City was 80%. Now with innovative and reasonable processes, survival rate of prawns can reach 90-95%. Another example is my improvements to the packaging of living prawns (black tiger prawns and white prawn) in the water-free environment of airplane, which have reduced the cost of transportation by 10-20%.

 

I am also particularly proud to be the initiator of innovations and to have successfully implement those through the black tiger prawn market from the West to the North. This success has been bringing great value to prawn farmers and consumers.

 

In total, innovation and creativity are becoming increasingly important for the business sector.

 

In the past, people made many innovations or inventions to improve the quality of life – such as steam engines. However, production capacity was still low and innovation speed was not high, so the requirements of consumers were not too strict.

 

Nowadays, products are always abundant (even redundant), diverse, and always waiting to meet the needs of people. Products’ lifespan are shortened and the level of competition is increasingly harsh. Businesses are always striving to meet almost every needs of their consumers so innovation and creativity are vital for any business.

 

For many companies, their business goals are not only about meeting the current needs of people, but also to create new products or trends by recognizing the problems of society to innovate and create products and solutions that solve those problems.

 

  1. Can you discuss your interest in Canada and expanding your business

to Canada?

 

Finding partners and potential customers in Canada to export and build a new brand for high quality value-added (VAT) products from white prawn and black tiger prawn from Vietnam is the top priority of my wife and I right now. We are also looking to import Alaskan lobster, salmon, or Canadian crabs to Vietnam.

 

Salanganes Nest products also has potential as this is a fairly popular product in Vietnam and has a high value in Canada.

 

I also hope that research and development from my startup company can bring new successes in the transport of the black tiger prawns and white prawns via airplane. These products can both help our company in Vietnam and help startups grow and sell to other countries around the world.

 

  1. How do you think Vietnamese businesses can benefit from the CPTPP

(Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific

Partnership)?

 

When the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) was approved, Vietnamese businesses benefited greatly. Businesses will have more opportunities to trade, import, and export to and from treaty markets with taxes and other barriers minimized. When other costs and tariffs fall, product costs will be lowered. This has led to many advantages for Vietnamese businesses, including two major advantages:

 

(1) Increase the competitiveness (competitive advantage) compared with businesses from countries without treaties

 

(2) Expanding the market size through increases in the number of consumers able to afford these products. For example, Canadian lobsters, crabs, and salmon will export to Vietnam at a lower price, so people with average income will be able to afford it instead of only Vietnamese customers with high incomes. Also, high quality value-added products from black tiger prawns will have lower prices when sold in Canada.

 

  1. What do you think Canada needs to do to improve or promote business

opportunities for Vietnamese businesses through the CPTPP?

 

This is a difficult question. However, I believe that promoting the understanding and dissemination of CPTPP regulations or provisions is a good way. Apart from other impediments, the lack of updated information or understanding of international agreements is a weakness of many Vietnamese businesses. Activities of trade promotion organizations such as CanCham to establish contacts between Canada and Vietnam are essential.

 

  1. What advice would you give to both Vietnamese and Canadian

businesses regarding working together and building partnerships?

 

According to my observations, some products (clothes, shoes, etc.) of big brands sold in Canada are manufactured in Vietnam. Some Vietnamese products (rice, frozen shrimp, etc.) are sold in Canadian supermarkets (Superstore, T&T …) but with brands from other countries such as Thailand. Or some products are very popular and cheap in Vietnam but sold in Canada (by companies from other countries) with high prices (chili).

 

I believe that in order to promote trade between Canada and Vietnam, businesses of the two countries need to improve their understanding and belief in each other.

 

In particular, Vietnamese businesses need to build credibility and strong brands so that Canadian partners can trust or confidently promote those brands to consumers in Canada.

 

Canadian businesses can also learn more about Vietnamese businesses. Many Vietnamese businesses also have their own strengths. There are still Vietnamese reputable businesses that are determined to build a sustainable brand in Canada. How wonderful it will be if products that are manufactured from Vietnam can be trusted and prioritized by Canadian consumers.

 

On the other hand, Vietnam is a potential market because of its young population with hundreds of millions of people. Canadian products are often very popular here. However, the price of many of these products are still high compared to the income of many Vietnamese people. Vietnamese and Canadian businesses can work together and build closer partnerships to reduce costs and lower the price. Then, the market size for products from Canada in Vietnam will be greatly expanded.

 

Vancouver – Feb 4, 2020

Hoang Phuong

Director

Thuan Chuong Company

 

Colin McDonald

Secretary – CanCham Vietnam

Core Team Leader-GSA Mentor – Empowered Startups