We are kicking off our series on country representatives with Hans Docter, who became our representative in Vietnam in September 2023. Find out what motivated Hans to take up this new challenge, which sectors he’s focusing on, what his day-to-day looks like and how he supports potential clients, such as Dutch SMEs.
After spending most of my career as a diplomat in many countries, especially developing and emerging markets, I joined Invest International in September 2023.
My passion for sustainable development has been my primary motivation throughout my career. Dutch businesses are crucial in driving the sustainability agenda globally, and I am happy to contribute by expanding our portfolio in Vietnam.
Between 2017 and 2019, I was Director for Sustainable Development at the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where I also focused on helping to solve issues in value chains worldwide. While in that role, I became familiar with the origins of Invest International and the rationale behind many of the programmes it implements.
Vietnam is one of Asia’s fastest-growing economies, benefitting from countries keen to spread their high-tech manufacturing production. There is a pervasive feeling that Vietnam is moving to the next level. Locally, I have come across much enthusiasm about collaborating with Dutch partners and Invest International facilitating this cooperation.
In November 2023, I joined the digitalisation and high-tech mission led by Prime Minister Rutte. 23 high-tech companies and organisations with serious plans to start or ramp up production in Vietnam joined the government delegation. I left that mission with many follow-up contacts and potential clients.
Traditionally, Vietnam has been and is still attractive for the water sector. Take the Mekong Delta, which is at risk of salinisation and flooding. Dutch engineering and water management expertise can contribute to public infrastructure solutions.
Another exciting sector is agrifood, which sustains around half of the country’s jobs, and green energy, which the government actively supports.
I live in Hanoi, where I work closely with the Dutch embassy and consulate to stay in touch with the Vietnamese government, but my role also involves frequent travel.
For instance, I spent an entire week in Ho Chi Min City, attending three large trade fairs on agriculture, water, and waste management. These fairs were great opportunities to get to know companies interested in expanding their operations to Vietnam.
I am also regularly in touch with the Dutch Business Association Vietnam to find new leads. I attend many events, such as those organised by the Netherlands-Vietnam Chamber of Commerce, and regularly visit companies.
You can always find me on the road – on a shared scooter, getting to know people and understand the country.
“There is a pervasive feeling that Vietnam is moving to the next level.”
In 2024, I aim to get three strategic projects in infrastructure off the ground and ten private sector clients.
We have some innovative and transformational project proposals from Dutch companies, which can help us realise our mission: financing impactful infrastructure solutions that contribute to the SDGs.
As for the private sector, I am in touch with many companies, including startups, SMEs, and corporations active in the high-tech industry, mainly focusing on semiconductors.
The Netherlands has a whole ecosystem of mid-sized companies in this field, and they can genuinely benefit from what we offer.
While working with clients, sitting down with them, and thinking along is essential.
Thanks to our substantial knowledge about circular, net-zero, and responsible business, we can tailor our collaboration to help companies maximise Invest International’s financial solutions and create or amplify sustainable business cases.
For instance, I sometimes talk to companies that believe the transition to using 100% renewable energy is not feasible due to prohibitive costs. So, I explain that solutions from existing clients might be helpful for them.
If we want a greener, better future, we must accompany our clients on their impact journeys and support them in making the transition.