Day 2 – Visit to the Hanoi Hilton and Forum with AMCHAM
2016 International Study Trip, Vietnam
Day two of our international study trip featured visits to the Hanoi Hilton and Forum with AMCHAM
The Hanoi Hilton
We visited the Hoa Lo Prison, also known as the Hanoi Hilton, and spoke to the American Chamber of Commerce on our last day in Hanoi.
The Hanoi Hilton was a prison used by the French colonists and later by the Vietnamese for U.S. prisoners during the Vietnam War. We toured the prison and walked through the chambers, where captives were once held, and saw the flight suit that belonged to John McCain when he was as a POW.
AMCHAM – The American Chamber of Commerce
“You can make an outsized difference here,” said Adam Sitkoff. Adam left the United States 15 years ago and landed in Vietnam. He is now the executive director of the American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM). He led a panel discussion that ranged from opportunities in Vietnam to laws, experiences living abroad, business etiquette, and the impact of the Trans Pacific Partnership.
Panelists stressed the importance and challenge for American companies to stay compliant with U.S. laws. For example, the Foreign Corruption Act applies to all U.S. citizens dealing business abroad. One speaker pointed out that investigations and audits can become material costs for companies to stay compliant with the Foreign Corruption Act and with SEC regulations.
The speakers expressed that investing in Vietnam requires patience and also oversight. The key questions for foreign investors are how patient are they, and how much ambiguity can they handle? Without tolerance for either, foreign investments in Vietnam may never have a chance to turn profits.
The discussion left a lasting impression on me. The speakers made valuable points, especially about the mentality of stakeholders who are at different income levels. Depending on a individual’s situation, one’s mentality when opportunity is presented is to act by trading or investing. If you have abundant resources, you will probably invest in your future. For others who limited or no resources, opportunity means trading for short gains, which may be at other people’s expense.
After our meeting, we headed to the airport for our flight to Ho Chi Minh City to continue our trip.
Thoughts from Guest Blogger: Joshua Taylor, MBA candidate
“As we flew over Saigon, and the lights below came into focus, the difference between Vietnam’s two premier cities quickly resolved. Clusters of lights organized into distinct roadways, clear divisions. Where Hanoi felt haphazard and built at whim, Ho Chi Minh immediately appeared definitively planned.
“At the hotel, we wandered up to the rooftop, where a bar and restaurant was open late. The city was oddly devoid of the honking and chaos of Hanoi. We marinated in the silence, wondering if we’d miss sitting on barely-knee-high stools, slurping up noodles in broths of dubious origin, as the new city seemed a cleaner more western space.
“Beverages arrived. Tomorrow will find us soon enough.”