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Apple’s Shifting Supply Chain Creates Boomtowns in Rural Vietnam

  • Global electronics factories are transforming rural region
  • Bac Giang citizens who couldn’t buy meat now plan for college
Workers make their way to the factories in Van Trung Industrial Park in Bac Giang Province.
Workers make their way to the factories in Van Trung Industrial Park in Bac Giang Province.Photographer: Linh Pham/Bloomberg

Not long ago Vietnam’s Bac Giang province was one of the nation’s poorest regions, known for producing rice, lychees and poultry dubbed “running chicken.” That was before the global tech supply chain shifted its way.

Now officials in the rural area north of Hanoi host representatives from Apple Inc. and Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. The growth in foreign investment is almost doubling every year -- even during the coronavirus pandemic -- and the province forecasts the value of exports this year will reach $11 billion, a tenfold leap in six years. Residents have swapped loud, dirty motorbikes for new Honda two-wheelers while others drive Toyota SUVs and Mercedes sedans on freshly paved roads.