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How to ensure effective intercultural communication for doing business in Vietnam

Doing business in Vietnam : develop strong intercultural communication

November 2023

Communication is the key to any project. Indeed, it enables the easy exchange of ideas, laying the foundation for strong relationships and smooth operations. Businesses have plenty of opportunities when they venture into Vietnam’s growing market. However, success mostly relies on effective cross-cultural communication.

In an interview hosted by Zach Herbors for Business Way TV, ALTIOS Vietnam’s Country Coordinator Thuy Minh Giang explores key tips and best practices for successful business interactions in Vietnam.

Overcome Communication Barriers

Communication is greatly influenced by cultural differences. Some words that have neutral meanings in one culture might mean something else in another.

For example, “ambition” or “being ambitious” is viewed differently in Vietnam and Europe. In Europe, ambition is usually positive; it is seen as a trait leading to success and personal fulfillment.

In Vietnam, however, there are two words for ambition, each ones carriying a different meaning. On the one hand, one is positive, like in Europe, while the other suggests competitiveness or even ruthlessness.

Here are some tips understand cultural differences in business:

1. Learn Vietnamese and build personal relationships from scratch

Getting to know people personally makes communication easier and shows a sincere interest in the local culture. Vietnamese partners are more likely to feel at ease and transparent when speaking to you in their mother tongue. Speaking in their native language helps build trust and stronger business relationships.

2. Show Adaptability and Cultural Sensitivity

Effective intercultural communication requires having an open mind and developing cross-cultural awareness, that is to say, being aware of cultural differences. It is important to embrace diversity and recognize that what may be customary in one culture may not hold the same significance in another. By respecting local customs and traditions, you will build credibility and trust.

3. Be clear in your statements

Misunderstandings can happen in any cross-cultural situation. However, in order to minimize it, you should always ask questions and seek clarification. By being proactive, you can prevent potential misinterpretations and develop a transparent and productive working relationship. Clear communication guarantees that everyone’s goals and expectations are in line.

4. Call on a mediator for smooth communication

Sometimes, despite best efforts, there may still be challenges. In this kind of situation, finding a trustworthy mediator can be very helpful. A mediator with expertise in both cultures can assist you in comprehension problems, and help you and your Vietnamese partner communicate effectively. By doing this, you will be sure that both understood messages correctly and that any possible disagreements or inconsistencies are resolved right away.

Three Impacts of Cultural Differences

1. Language barrier

The language barrier can be a real problem, due to the structure of the Vietnamese language. Unlike Latin languages, the Vietnamese language does not use tenses. This fundamental difference in grammar can make it hard to understand nuances.

Also, varying levels of English proficiency among Vietnamese people can also make communication harder. Thus, it requires patience.

2. Working hours

Some Vietnamese people work on weekends. Sometimes, they might send urgent requests or inquiries during this time. This is an aspect of the Vietnamese work culture that you have to take into account, in order to find mutually agreeable solutions when facing these time-sensitive issues.

3. Legal documents

Legal documents are often sent via platforms such as Whatsapp or Zello. While these methods offer convenience and speed, they may not be as secure as conventional methods. Extra precautions are needed to protect sensitive data.

Watch the full interview with Thuy Minh Giang for Business Way TV:

Want to learn more?

If you are interested in reading more articles about doing business in Vietnam, check out our article about how to choose a manufacturing site in Vietnam.

China’s MedTech Market

china medtech market

December 2022

The MedTech sector in China is quickly becoming the most attractive industry for investors.

With a 70% importing ratio, China is one of the world’s largest medical device manufacturing hubs, as well as a market dominated by foreign multinational companies. In this dynamic context, what will be the potential challenges, and keys to success for foreign players in the coming years?

Key Market Data

The Chinese MedTech market has grown at a consistently rapid rate in the past five years, and in 2019, the market reached RMB 7.82 trillion (US$1.1 trillion), an increase of 10 percent when compared to that from the previous year.

For companies that plan on investing in this promising sector, it is crucial to have an understanding of the Chinese MedTech industry’s statistics:

  • In 2020, China’s GDP saw a slower 2.3 percent growth, but its healthcare spending still rose from RMB 6584.14 billion (US$1,033.1 billion) in 2019, and to RMB 7230.64 billion (US$1,134.5 billion) the following year. However, it is still the 2nd fastest growing industry in the world.
  • China’s revenue in the Medical Technology market is projected to reach US$40.96bn in 2022.
  • The market’s largest segment is Medical Devices with a projected market volume of US$29.07bn in 2022.
  • By 2027, revenue is expected to show an annual growth rate (CAGR 2022-2027) of 8.12%, resulting in a market volume of US$60.51bn.
  • In global comparison, most revenue will be generated in the United States (US$200.20bn in 2022).

MedTech Market Trends

Medical Technology grows steadily due to China’s aging population: the elderly are predicted to reach 300 million by 2025 and 400 million by 2035. Due to a strong rebound of revenue structuring in 2022 and a steady rise in 2023, stable and consistent growth in the industry are anticipated as seen before Covid-19.

This ensures sustained investment in research and development, a proliferation of healthcare services, and the implementation of existing technology.

Moreover, the market presents considerable opportunities for growth. This is possible since the Chinese Government has more recently laid out multiple initiatives to support long-term growth and innovation in healthcare delivery. As for this sector, it will feature more heavily in the 14th Five-Year Plan (covering 2021-25) than it did in the 13th Five-Year Plan.

China’s Market Entry Strategy for Foreign Players

International foreign companies that wish to enter China, usually operate in three ways:

  1. Direct Investing by setting up a base in China via opening a WOFE, Subsidiary, or JV.
  2. Partnership with OEMs
  3. Importing to sell in the market.

However, things are evolving. Following recent global changes, since the pandemic and the tense political restructuring, most firms have realized which is the best way to take advantage of China’s profitable market.

Now companies are focusing on monetizing by selling to local markets rather than exporting. While developing with the end market, businesses are choosing to acquire bigger market shares by localizing the supply chain, rapidly responding to customer demand, and taking advantage of tax policies favorable to investment in R&D.

By localizing, the companies have enhanced their financial incentives, including, but not limited to, lower company tax of 15% and reduced VAT.

At the business model level, MedTech majors are stepping out of their comfort zones with cross-sector partnerships with peers, pharmaceutical companies, providers, and payers alike for disease and health solutions.

Some case studies to explore would be Radiometer’s partnership with AstraZeneca for kidney diseases, Illumina & Sanofi in rare disease treatments, and more.


With the right strategy and partnerships, China’s MedTech industry provides significant opportunities. Medtech companies should evolve and innovate to keep pace with the healthcare system highly driven by digital data-driven trends.

Want to learn more?

If you are still interested in reading about China, you can also read our latest article: Hong Kong Bouncing Back

January 31th, 2021

A “Comprehensive Agreement -in principle- on Investment” (CAI) has been reached between China & EU countries after 35 rounds of negotiations. It will replace the 25 bilateral investment treaties that China signed individually with EU countries.

For 20 years, cumulative FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) flows from the EU to China stayed higher compared to Chinese investments in Europe : +140 billion EUR Europe to China versus 120 billion EUR Chinese FDI to the EU (European commission data).

About half of EU FDI in China is in the manufacturing sector, with the German automotive industry as the main investor. Chinese FDI to Europe are primarily directed to strategic areas such as infrastructure and high technology.


What is the opportunity for EU?

The agreement establishes the obligation for Chinese stated-own enterprises to provide more business information and transparency on subsidies in the services sectors.

The CAI forbids requirements to transfer technology to a joint venture partner.


What is the opportunity for China?


Other outstanding topics regarding this agreement?

More information about key elements of the agreement

Contact our Teams in China