EB5 Investors Magazine Volume 3 Issue 3 | Page 72

“You’re Chasing Rainbows in Vietnam” The Stunning Growth of EB-5 in Vietnam by Brandon Meyer Everyone in the EB-5 industry knows that the People’s Republic of China (China) is the epicenter of investor volume, having comprised 80 + percent of overall EB-5 investors for several years now.1 While China’s dominance within the EB-5 industry has various benefits and virtues, few experienced businesspeople would seek to be completely dependent on one market for all, if not most, of their business. Yet, in the EB-5 industry, this is exactly how many stakeholders structure their business. Many stakeholders pay lip-service or aspire to the diversification of their distribution channels, but when it comes down to actually following through, reluctance often wins out, and little effort to diversify away from China actually takes place. For instance, before I made my first trip to Vietnam to gauge interest in EB-5 in March 2011, one regional center principal told me that I was “chasing rainbows in Vietnam.” The country, he said, was too poor to generate sufficient numbers of EB-5 investors to justify any marketing initiatives in Vietnam. There was no point in even trying to see what potential EB-5 had in Vietnam. Many in the EB-5 industry would agree with his recommendation: that “China is the only place to be” in EB-5. China was poised for endless, rapid economic growth with no dark clouds on the horizon. After all, the academic and think-tank circuits were replete with seminars, articles, and books on the “China Model,” in which a super-competent authoritarian state had the all-knowing and all-seeing ability to stage-manage political stability and economic growth simultaneously.2 The “China 70 Model” was all about the upside, and no downside existed. China, in short, had become the functional equivalent of an economic Disneyland. Oh, what a change four and a half years can bring.3 China is currently in the midst of several simultaneous mini-economic crises, which may presage the “hard landing” of the Chinese economy that some have been predicting for some time now.4 As with the law of gravity, a rule of thumb for EB5 INVESTORS MAGAZINE