Investors look for safety, economic promise

By JOHN SPRAGENS Jr.

DAYTONA BEACH -- In the future, canny American firms may well be able to do business with Vietnam, says William P. Wallis Jr., president of Mac Equip Inc.

His Daytona Beach firm has had 15 years of experience trading with and investing in Third World countries, some of which have rather precarious economies.

"I think Vietnam one day is going to be a viable country," Wallis says. "It could be another South Korea."

Trade is likely to offer better opportunities than investment, he says.

"A person who knows what he's doing can make a lot of money" trading with a country like Vietnam, Wallis says. But he cautions that even if the U.S. trade embargo against Vietnam is lifted, there is not likely to be much U.S. government support for U.S.-Vietnam trade.

Many companies are willing to take their chances on trade, even without official support. And when they are dealing with cash-strapped countries like Vietnam, they may be willing to barter goods for goods if they think they can make a profit on the deal.

But fewer American companies are willing to risk investing in a major project overseas without support from Washington.

Wallis says companies considering investments in the Third World take a hard-nosed look at questions like these:

Potential investors also have to take a careful look at the gap between theory and reality.

In some countries, the laws and regulations look good, Wallis says, "but the bureaucracy will kill you. You never finish going to ministries to sign papers, and most of them want a handout."


Text copyright © 1989 The News-Journal, Daytona Beach, Florida

Published Jan. 13, 1989


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