U.S. Water News Online
MILWAUKEE -- Members of a Wisconsin Department of Commerce
trade delegation to Vietnam will wade through sludge pits and toxic
waste sites this fall.
Five environmental remediation companies going along from Oct. 30
to Nov. 6 hope to come home with sales prospects. The Southeast Asian
nation is looking to counter a legacy of environmental destruction to
tap into foreign aid and earn greater international acceptance.
"It's very typical of developing countries," said Mary Regel,
administrator of the division of international development for the
state commerce department.
Vietnamese officials are realizing environmental cleanup can
position the country for growth, possibly translating to growth in
The state's exports to Vietnam grew 93 percent in the first four
months of 2004 compared with the same period a year earlier. State
firms exported $9.7 million worth of products, mostly machinery, to
Vietnam in 2003, up 15 percent from 2002.
Kenosha-based Great Lakes Bio Systems Inc. has a product line that
includes enzymes to treat the water used in aquaculture, such as
shrimp farms. The company is part of the mission.
Pollution has kept Vietnam from producing shrimp comparable in
quality to others in the region. Great Lakes' enzyme additives speed
up natural processes that break down bio-wastes -- possibly improving
"So the double whammy for us is we can help Vietnam improve its
shrimp production," while helping control a source of water
pollution, said Tom Repp, the company's international sales manager.
Aquarius Systems Inc. of North Prairie makes aquatic weed
harvesting machinery used in the United States to clean out
infestations of loosestrife.
Company president Jane Dauffenbach said the company, which also is
part of the mission, depends on international business for its growth
and in some years does 45 percent of its business outside the U.S.
"The U.S. market is basically saturated. So we have to snoop
around everywhere" to find new opportunities, she said.
Hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign aid has flowed into
Vietnam in the last decade for projects to provide clean water,
improve sanitation and upgrade sewer systems.
But experts say U.S. companies headed to Vietnam should be
careful, because government corruption remains a major problem.
"Most foreign companies find it pretty frustrating to do business
in Vietnam, as the bureaucratic wheels move very slowly and there are
political impediments to otherwise standard business procedures,"
said Ian Coxhead, director of the Center for Southeast Asian Studies
at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
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