Chapter 3
IT producers and IT users should join hands

The national IT program lacks a production dimension. No assessment of the resources needed for creating facilities for electronics manufacturing has been done. Several questions remain to be answered: Which resources will have to be mobilized in order to shape an efficient 'architecture of supply' of all the necessary elements of IT production, including full access to micro- processors and similar electronic components, that are necessary for produc- tion within Vietnam? What will the role of foreign companies be in the development of electronics production in Vietnam? How can trade policy be formulated to encourage the development of Vietnam's electronics manu- facturing capacity?

There are other plans in Hanoi designed to stimulate manufacturing of electronics in the country's IT industry, but these plans are not formulated in the new economic context and rely solely on ministerial guidance and support. In fact, for about two years, there has actually been a policy platform for the development of "the electronic and informatics industry" in Vietnam. It was drafted by the Ministry of Heavy Industry, as the responsible ministry, but the concepts and policy perspectives were those of the former economic system, when the state was in command of the economy. Hence, this policy statement concentrates on the nearly 100 "state-owned enterprises under central and local management", and raises the possibility of joint ventures between these public enterprises and foreign electronics companies. It discusses both the domestic market and foreign markets as possible driving forces behind a Vietnamese industry.

In most countries, if not all, the growing use of information technology in industry and in society stimulates the development of the manufacture of electronics products and their use in society. A widening market and a more sophisticated demand encourages the development of production. For instance, the design of new electronics products are often influenced by the needs of advanced local users. In furthering its national IT policy, the Vietnamese government should not focus solely on the diffusion of IT. The supply base of microelectronics and other IT by way of local production is equally important. There is a need as well for an advanced industry policy. Any efforts to diffuse information technology in Vietnamese industry and in

society should be matched by efforts to improve the country's manufacturing base for electronics products. In an economic environment of accelerated technological change, such as in today's Vietnam, one can be sure that people working with IT will have ideas about new products. The government should design its policies for industry to ensure that entrepreneurs and advanced users have the ability to implement their ideas quickly and effectively by drawing on the local elec- tronics manufacturing- and supply-base.

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