INTERVIEW WITH MR. RAFAEL CASCALES SISNIEGA – CASICONovember 12, 2021
1.Kindly tell us something about your work profile/business including yourself.
My professional background has always been linked to China and Asia. I started working for the international purchasing departments of 2 multinational companies, and then in 2005 I set up CASICO on my own. So basically I have been doing business with China for the past 20 years, and travelling all over the SEA region since then. Throughout these years my experience has been getting broader, not only about sourcing and purchasing services, but with consulting, investing and in the sales side.
2.When did you first start your business in Vietnam and how has your professional career or your company’s career developed since then?
I first started in Vietnam in 2016, although my earliest approach to the country was in 2015. I formally set up CASICO Vietnam in 2018, and since then we have been increasing our numbers of projects in the country. Vietnam has become the star country in ASEAN, and we can feel that in the interest among the companies in Spain.
3.How do you think EVFTA will benefit EU and Vietnam companies after this pandemic? Are there any new strategies that you’re adapting for this new situation?
The EVFTA has been clearly a huge boost for Vietnam in front of the eyes of the Spanish companies. It has been the no-excuse-reason for them to stop ignoring Vietnam as a market of interest. For that reason only, it has been fantastic news. Now, we know the implementation will be gradual, so the effective projects will also be gradual; but with no doubt it will benefit both Vietnam and Spain greatly. We are actively working for that every day.
The pandemic just postponed everything. It is still going on and we still don’t know when the borders will open freely and when business will come back as usual…so basically for the past 18 months we have been putting a lot of efforts in the online procedures to work: internal meetings, meetings with clients in the distance, etc. It has been working, but physical contact will always be needed. We just hope Vietnam can successfully get rid of covid as soon as possible, for the good of its people.
4. What do you think are the biggest challenges in your industry in the future with EVFTA?
I think the biggest challenge is to still make the Spanish companies understand that Vietnam is a winning market, and therefore, fundamental in their strategies. The increasing development of Vietnam of course will help, but we need encouragement and push from both the public and private sides to make it happen.
5.In relation to the current pandemic (CoVid-19) that the world is facing, how has your company been affected and what actions do you propose to better the situation?
We have suffered above all the logistic costs and uncertainty in the international supply chain, still hurting today. We forecast that the market will be more or less back to 2019 in the last quarter of 2022, so we still need to fight hard in the coming months.
Also, the pandemic has blocked any trip from Spain to Vietnam, so we have been unable to organize business agendas in place. However, we have boosted the online meetings which can replace approximately 60% of the work.
6.Please tell us a little about the future plans of Casico.
CASICO in Vietnam has great expectations for at least the coming 5 years. We are full of promising projects in the infrastructures sector, in services, tourisms, F&B….we cannot complain. Vietnam will become a bigger market than it is today, and there will be room for everyone; until new we are only very few people trying to develop the market, so the opportunities are still there to grab and develop.
We aim to become a leading company in Vietnam, providing high quality services and foreseeing a long time activity for the European and Spanish companies.
Many thanks to Mr. Rafael for sharing your experience with us.