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Quest Means Business

Biden Touts Economic Agenda In Swing State Of Wisconsin; Microsoft President: New AI Facility Will Boost US Manufacturing; Israeli Activity In Rafah Expands From Airstrikes To Ground Operations; FTX To Pay Back Most Of Its Creditors; AstraZeneca Withdraws COVID Vaccine Citing Low Demand; Vietnam, A 21st Century Economy Success. Aired 4-4:45p ET

Aired May 08, 2024 - 16:00   ET



ISA SOARES, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: The closing bell is ringing on Wall Street, very excited people. Mixed day with the Dow finishing higher while

the NASDAQ lag behind.

Let me look at the markets as you can see, we are about four-tenths of a percent or so at 175, those are the markets and these are the main events

for you.

A CNN exclusive sit-down with the US President Joe Biden saying no other president has his track record in turning around the economy. We have that

for you.

Plus, the US has paused the shipment of bombs to Israel amid concerns over its Rafah incursion. We will take you to Jerusalem.

And AstraZeneca withdraws its game changing COVID-19 vaccine, citing low demand.

Live from London, it is Wednesday, May the 8th. I'm Isa Soares, in for Richard Quest, and of course, I, too mean business.

A very good evening, everyone.

Tonight, US President Joe Biden sits down for an exclusive interview with CNN as he tries to sell his economic achievements in the key battleground

state of Wisconsin.

Mr. Biden is in Wisconsin on a campaign stop. He announced a $3.3 billion investment from Microsoft to build an AI facility there.

Former President Trump broke ground on an electronics factory on the same site in 2018 and that investment from Foxconn failed to truly materialize.

This is an important context there for you.

Well, President Biden used the fact, that very fat to draw a sharp contrast between himself and Trump during a speech. President Biden told CNN's Erin

Burnett that US economy has already turned around. He says, most people are confident about their own finances even if they feel the country as a whole

is troubling. Have a listen.


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: So when you talk about the economy, of course, it is by far the most important issue for voters. It is also true right now,

Mr. President, that voters by a wide margin, trust Trump more on the economy, they say that in pools and part of the reason for that, maybe the

numbers and you're aware of many of these, of course, the cost of buying a home in the United States is double what it was when you look at your

monthly costs from before the pandemic.

Real income, when you account for inflation, is actually down since you took office. Economic growth last week, far short of expectations. Consumer

confidence, maybe no surprise, is near a two-year low.

With less than six months to go to Election Day, are you worried that you're running out of time to turn that around?

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We've already turned it around. Look, you look at the Michigan survey, where 65 percent of American people

think they're in good shape economically. I think the nation is not in good shape, but they are personally in good shape.

The polling data has been wrong all along. How many -- you guys do a poll at CNN, how many folks you have to call to get one response?

The idea that we are in a situation where things are so bad, folks that -- I mean, we've created more jobs. We've made -- we are in a situation where

people have access to good paying jobs, and the last I saw, a combination of the inflation -- the cost of inflation, and all of those things, that's

really worrisome to people with good reason. That is why I am working very hard to bring the cost of rentals down, to increase the number of homes

that are available.

But let me say it this way, when I started this administration, people were saying there is going to be a collapse in the economy. We have the

strongest economy in the world.

Let me say it again, in the world.

BURNETT: Although GDP last week was far short of expectations.

BIDEN: Oh, it wasn't. Look, GDP is still -- look at the response in the markets, overwhelmingly positive. Overwhelmingly positive, and one of the

reasons why people feel good about it, not being as strong as it was before, is they believe that the Fed is going to respond.

BURNETT: They hope they're going to get a rate cut.

BIDEN: Yes. Well so -- but I mean, no president has had the run we've had in terms of creating jobs and bringing down inflation. It was nine percent

when I can to office, nine percent.

But look, people have a right to be concerned, ordinary people. The idea that you're you bounced a check and you get $30.00 fee for bouncing the

check, I changed that. They can't charge more than eight bucks for that, or your credit card. You're late payment, $35.00. I mean, there's corporate

greed going on out there, and it has got to be dealt with.


SOARES: And you can watch Erin's full exclusive interview with President Biden on "Erin Burnett OutFront" that's tonight at 7:00 PM in New York

right here on CNN.

You do not want to miss the exclusive interview.


Let's get more now. MJ Lee in in Racine County in Wisconsin.

And MJ, this is of course critically, lets add the political context here, President Biden's fourth trip to Wisconsin this year, an indication perhaps

of how central the state is to his re-election roadmap.

Talk us through his message and how that message MJ was received.

MJ LEE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you know, you heard in that interview that the president had with Erin, the president really trying to

give a fulsome defense of his economic record, and that really is the reason that the president came to Wisconsin today.

We are some thirty-forty minutes south of Milwaukee and the president made earlier today a big announcement on Microsoft investing some $3.3 billion

to build a new artificial intelligence facility here that the White House says is going to create some thousands of permanent jobs once that facility

is actually constructed, and the reason that this site has some real political significance is because where Microsoft would build this facility

is the very same site where Donald Trump some years ago had promised that Foxconn, a Taiwanese electronics company, would do something similar where

they would build up factories, investing billions and billions of dollars.

He had promised that that whole creation would lead to some thousands of jobs being created, and unfortunately for this community, those big

promises didn't actually materialize, and it ended up being a huge disappointment for this community.

And when we heard the president talking about all of this earlier today, he basically said that the former President Donald Trump had fooled this

community. Take a listen.


BIDEN: He came here with your Senator Ron Johnson, literally holding a golden shovel, promising to build the eighth wonder of the world.

Are you kidding me?


BIDEN: Look what happened. They dug a hole with those golden shovels and then they fell into it.


BIDEN: Look, they didn't shovel a lot of dirt, they did shovel us under, 100 homes were bulldozed.

They wasted hundreds of millions of dollars in your state and local tax dollars and promised a project that never happened.

Foxconn turned out to be just that, a con. Go figure.


LEE: The president also made a second stop that was a campaign organizing event where campaign officials are training local volunteers on voter

outreach efforts and importantly, the president was speaking to a meeting with a Black voters from the local community and he commented on how

throughout the course of his political career, the African-American community has been loyal constituencies.

So it just goes to show and is a reminder that the president and his campaign certainly recognize what an important group that is particularly

in a state like Wisconsin, where all expectations are that it is going to be a very, very close race between Donald Trump and President Biden come


Now, remember this is a state that Donald Trump won in 2016. President Biden won in 2020, but only by the slimmest of margins. And so reaching out

to the Black community and trying to make sure that come November, that this is a group that is not unmotivated, that is not unenthusiastic, that

of course, is a very important political goal for the Biden campaign right now.

SOARES: Now, the smallest of margin, it is fewer than 21,000 votes. That's how tight it was.

MJ Lee, appreciate it. Thank you very much.

And staying in Wisconsin, in particular this factory, Microsoft factory. Microsoft President Brad Smith spoke to CNN early in the day. He says its

new AI facility in Wisconsin will be a big boost for US manufacturing. Have a listen well.


BRAD SMITH, PRESIDENT, MICROSOFT: This is all part of bringing artificial intelligence to this country and really using it to propel the next

generation of manufacturing including here in Wisconsin and Michigan and across the Upper Midwest, and that's why we are investing not just in this

massive build-out, money we will spend just between now and the end of 2026, but training of workers especially with people who are leading

manufacturing companies, co-innovating with them, so they can put AI to work to ensure that American manufacturing is globally competitive.

Manufacturing in many ways started in the Upper Midwest, it started Wisconsin. There is a legacy of innovation, but it is also a place where

people, I think get things done by working together.


This has required the leadership of President Biden, a congressman here, Bryan Steil, the local village president for the Village of Mount Pleasant,

people have come together to make this project possible for a company like Microsoft.


SOARES: And President Biden is taking his economic page to Wisconsin for a reason. It is expected to be a key battleground state this November and

whoever of course carries it may very well win the presidency.

Now, most polls are forecasting and incredibly tight race there as you can see there. This April survey from Marquette Law School has Trump polling at

51 percent with 49 percent backing Biden in a two-man race, that's well within the margin of error.

Well, our Jeff Zeleny asked voters in Wisconsin about Biden's economic track record, how they think he compares to Donald Trump. This is their




JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Dave Flannery is talking about the state of American politics.

FLANNERY: It's a mess.

ZELENY (on camera): How does it get fixed?

FLANNERY: I wish I knew.

ZELENY (voice over): Flannery has a ringside seat to the noisy presidential race from his quiet orchard in battleground Wisconsin.

President Biden will be just miles away Wednesday when he returns to the state for his fourth visit this year.

FLANNERY: A lot of construction going on, several thousand jobs are -- that are going to be created over there during the construction process.

ZELENY (voice over): The president is touting his economic agenda. It's an open question whether any projects will ease anxieties of small business

owners like Flannery.

ZELENY (on camera): So this is the top of it.

ZELENY (voice over): Who debated if he should add a new building on his Apple Holler Farms.

FLANNERY: Things are really uncertain, not knowing what's going to happen with interest rates and what's going to happen with the whole economy.

ZELENY (voice over): Wisconsin is an essential piece of Biden's re-election roadmap.

MAUREEN GLYNN, WISCONSIN VOTER: I hope that people will look to reason, integrity, character of our national leader, and vote appropriately.

ZELENY: In your view, which way is that?

GLYNN: Biden. He's old. So what?

ZELENY (voice over): Maureen Glynn and her husband, Dennis, worry and wonder why the Biden-Trump rematch seems so bitterly tight.

GLYNN: I just think that people had forgotten how chaotic it was when Trump was president. I feel a lot better now that we've had almost four years of

Biden. It's not great, but it's better.

ZELENY (voice over): Biden is visiting Racine, home to one of 46 Democratic offices across the state. A key piece of his coalition is Black voters.

Some of whom don't see how they benefit from his economic plan.

JAVONNA LUE, BLACK LEADERS ORGANIZING FOR COMMUNITIES: As I see the prices rise with Biden, they think Trump made the economy better and Biden is

making it worse.

ZELENY (voice over): JaVonna Lue and Kyle Johnson are community organizers. They say the president must address his challenge with young voters who

question his foreign policy and more.

KYLE JOHNSON, BLACK LEADERS ORGANIZING FOR COMMUNITIES: What I want is something to vote for and not vote against. You know, we hear a lot of, you

know, what is -- what is the other guy going to do? What is Trump going to do? What happens if he wins?

I understand that. I think a lot it us understand the stakes.

ZELENY (voice over): At the Cozy Nook Farm, Tom Oberhaus fondly recalls Trump's policies, but is far from his biggest admirer.

TOM OBERHAUS, OWNER, COZY NOOK FARM: It's more Trump's mouth that we're not happy with --

ZELENY (voice-over): -- or Biden's biggest critic.

OBERHAUS: Once he was elected president, I was, yes, he's our president, you know, support him.

ZELENY (voice over): He believes the country deserves better.

OBERHAUS: I think we need a new constitutional amendment that says if you're 70 or older, you can't run for national office. And you know, we're

like, I can't be on the local coop board, but I could be president of the United States.

ZELENY (voice over): Back at the orchard, Flannery worries, neither side will cool the rising tensions.

FLANNERY: I consider myself an independent.

ZELENY: Is your vote up for grabs in November?

FLANNERY: If -- at this point in time, I would say no. But November is a long ways away.

ZELENY: For President Biden, there is no path to re-election that does not include winning Wisconsin. His advisers are well aware of that. It is why

he is coming back here again on Wednesday as part of his Investing in America Tour, trying to make voters see his economic achievements and feel

them through the inflation.

Now, former President Donald Trump also campaigning in Wisconsin here just last week, expected to come back again, of course. Wisconsin is part of

that blue wall, including Michigan and Pennsylvania that Trump carried in 2016, Biden flipped in 2020 and won the White House.

Jeff Zeleny, CNN, Racine, Wisconsin.


SOARES: We are going to leave the United States and go to Israel because Israel's military operation in Rafah has now expanded from airstrikes to

ground operations. Satellite images show IDF activity outside the border crossing it took control of. Of course, it comes as Israeli officials

privately expressed deep frustration after the US paused the scheduled bomb shipment.

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin confirmed the decision early today. This is what he said.



LLOYD AUSTIN, US SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: We are going to continue to do what is necessary to ensure that Israel has the means to defend itself, but that

said, we are currently reviewing some near-term security assistance shipments in the context of unfolding events in Rafah.


SOARES: Let's get more on all of this. Jeremy Diamond is in Jerusalem for us this hour.

And Jeremy, you know, what does this then operation that the IDF is saying, changing the operation in Rafah, expanding from airstrikes to ground. What

does that mean, ground operations in real terms for the more than 1.4 million civilians in Rafah?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Isa, it was on Monday night when we saw Israeli tanks first beginning to roll into the eastern part of Rafah

near the Rafah border crossing. They haven't entered the major population center of that city of Rafah, but we have already seen as this military

operation that is now stretching about 48 hours in has already begun to have an enormous impact on the ground, not only in terms of the dozens of

people who have been killed over the course of these last two days in Rafah, but also in terms of what it means for the medical support and the

humanitarian aid that is getting into Rafah.

That Rafah Border Crossing is a lifeline for millions of Palestinians. It is also the only entry point in and out for humanitarian aid workers, for

people who are getting medically evacuated from Gaza and then you have the hospitals in Rafah themselves.

One, there were only three of partially functioning hospitals in Rafah when this military operation began. One of those hospitals, the Al-Najjar

Hospital in Eastern Rafah has been forced to shut down, evacuating after the Israeli military dropped evacuation leaflets on Eastern Rafah,

including where that hospital is located.

And so the question now is, will this operation expand? And when could it potentially expand? The Israeli Prime Minister and his War Cabinet have

continually said that a military operation in Rafah, a ground offensive in Rafah to take out Hamas entirely was in the offing, and while they have

said they've given space to negotiations, they now arrived at a point where they've been willing to send troops and tanks into Eastern Rafah.

And now the question is, will they do so in terms of a broader ground offensive into that city entirely.

SOARES: Yes, that is a big unknown at this hour.

Jeremy, appreciate it, as always. Thanks very much.

And still to come, rising reports of GPS interference are raising concern in parts of Europe, it is even interrupting air travel. I spoke about it

with the vice president of Finnair. That interview is coming up.



SOARES: Welcome back, everyone.

Ukraine says Russian forces launched a massive missile attack overnight on its energy infrastructure. Dozens of strikes targeted power facilities from

Lviv in the west to Zaporizhzhia in the southeast, among other locations.

Local officials say at least three people were injured, including two near Kyiv, and the attack comes as Ukraine commemorates the victory over Nazi

Germany and the end of World War Two in Europe.

Russia is also suspected of causing disruption in other parts of Europe. Estonia's Foreign Ministry says it has summoned a Russian diplomat to

protest jammed GPS signals. CNN reached out to the Russian Foreign Ministry about the accusation, so far, they have not responded.

Air traffic disruption is a major concern. Finnair is suspending its routes from Helsinki to the city of Tartu, Estonia because of GPS interference, I

asked Finnair's vice president of Flight Operations about the issue.

Juho Sinkkonen says he won't speculate about who is responsible.


JUHO SINKKONEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF FLIGHT OPERATIONS, FINNAIR: We have had occasional GPS issues over the years, so that is something that we have

been used to, but the number of events has increased significantly from 2022, so for about two years now, and currently we see daily cases of GPS

interference on our flights and they are basically during the enroute phases.

We get pilot reports, so we are able to understand the areas where the interference mostly happens, and basically we have assessed that the

interference doesn't cause any imminent safety issues, but it is more like a nuisance for our crews currently.

SOARES: Right, but this is happening now, you're saying daily, right?

SINKKONEN: Yes, it is.

SOARES: So, I mean, how is that? How has that impacted then your operations in itself?

SINKKONEN: Well, if I walk you through a little bit of a technical details, so when we are flying on the enroute phase, the aircraft has a so-called

performance-based navigation requirement, meaning that the aircraft has to obtain a certain level of navigation accuracy and it can be done with

several navigation sources, GPS being one.

So if the GPS signal is not valid, the modern aircraft is able to detect it by itself, and then reject it, so it doesn't use it for navigation

purposes. And then it gives a signal or a message to the crews so that the crews are aware of the situation or the status of the aircraft.

SOARES: And is this impacting certain routes or where are you seeing this more prevalently?

SINKKONEN: Well, we have observed this interference mostly within our route networks in the areas of the Baltics currently close to the Kaliningrad

area, Black Sea, Caspian Sea, and also the eastern parts of the Mediterranean Sea.

SOARES: Just clarify this for us. In terms of safety, flying to Finland is safe. Can you just clarify that?

SINKKONEN: Yes. I can assure you that flying is safe and like mentioned, we have assessed that it is not a safety issue, it is a nuisance basically. We

have procedures that take into account this interference. Our flight crews are well-trained so they are able to handle it.

NEWTON: I wonder if Finnair -- what compensation Finnair is having with the Finnish government about who could be behind this.

SINKKONEN: Well, for us, we are not able to know where the interference comes from and actually, we are not willing to speculate too much on the

source of that, so we mainly focus on the implications on our side and how our aircraft are able to the operated safely with this interference.

SOARES: Also important for viewers to know that the Estonian government has summoned Russia's charge d'affaires over the GPS signal interference, and

they said jamming the satellite navigation system by Russia has only increased over time sowing confusion and heavily affecting civil aviation.

I mean, this is coming from the Estonian press, Foreign Ministry in particular.


SOARES: I mean, is this -- how concerned, critically, Juho is Finnair about the increased frequency of the GPS jamming here?

SINKKONEN: Of course, everything or every act that tries to interfere with the commercial air traffic is to be condemned, so that's where we stand.


And the Estonia part that you are referring to, we have had a few flights to Tartu, Estonia that we are not able to conduct their approaches and

landings because of the GPS jamming, and that's a bit of a different case because for the instrument approaches that the aircraft performs, there are

specific navigation aid requirements and with the current procedures in Tartu, it is required to have a valid GPS signal and if we don't have it,

then we are not able to perform the approach, so we make the safe choice and proceed to our alternate airport.


SOARES: Now, we have some news just coming in to CNN, a major US healthcare network says its clinic operations have been disrupted by a cyberattack.

Ascension operates 140 hospitals in 19 states along with 40 senior living facilities. The company says it has detected unusual activity on its

computer systems prompting an investigation.

Now, a spokesperson said Ascension is taking steps to minimize the impact to patients and will notify them if their data has been hacked.

Of course, we will stay across the story just breaking here on CNN.

Still ahead though here on the show, pulling its jab. AstraZeneca withdraws its COVID-19 vaccine worldwide. Find out why in just a few moments.



SOARES: Well, FTX says it will be able to pay back most of its customers the money they lost when the crypto exchange went bankrupt. The company

made the announcement Tuesday as part of a restructuring plan filed in U.S. bankruptcy court.

FTX says it will have up to $60 billion in cash once, of course, it has finished recovering as well as selling its assets, and that it owes $11

billion to eligible customers as well as creditors. The ability to pay them back is thanks in part of course to the massive rebound, as you can see

there, of crypto.

Following all of this for us is Clare Duffy, who joins us now from New York.

I mean, Clare, just that I supposed this speaks to perhaps leadership and how they have managed to quite frankly just turn this around.

CLARE DUFFY, CNN BUSINESS WRITER: Yes, Isa, I mean, I think there still is a long way to go for this company, but this is a really important first

step. This is something that FTX customers have been waiting for since the company filed for bankruptcy two years ago. They did get some

accountability when former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried was found guilty of fraud and conspiracy and sentenced to 25 years in prison earlier this year.

But it's really important that now they will also potentially be getting their money back. The company did say that it expects around 98 percent of

its creditors to be paid back in full with interest. And so I think, you know, will customers be trusting FTX going forward? I don't know, but I

think this is a really important first step.

SOARES: Yes, on that, on the customers and whether they'll be trusting it because, you know, the collapse of FTX really, really undermined confidence

in crypto. Do you feel that is reviving? Is this a sign?

DUFFY: I mean, we certainly are seeing crypto prices rise. I do think it's interesting that these FTX customers won't necessarily be seeing the gains

that they would have seen if they had invested their money and crypto elsewhere, as we've seen crypto prices rise over the past couple of months.

So I do think it's going to take more time for customers to feel like this is really a secure place to be investing their money. But again, I do think

important that at least they're starting to make their former customers whole.

SOARES: Yes, perhaps, and relief also for investors, right, who thought they might not see any of that money.

DUFFY: Yes. I mean, I do think investors felt like maybe this was never going to happen and look, the CEO that took over when FTX filed for

bankruptcy, he previously worked for Enron and he said that FTX was the biggest mess that he had ever seen. And so I think it is significant that

they've made it this far, that now they're able to pay their customers back -- Isa.

SOARES: Clare Duffy, as always, great to have you in the show. Thanks, Clare.

Now, it helped lead a historic breakthrough in tackling the coronavirus pandemic. Now, AstraZeneca, the brand of course behind the landmark vaccine

first approved in the U.K. at the height of the pandemic is withdrawing the jab. The company has supplied more than three billion doses since the first

one administered in Britain back in January 2021. And here's just a reminder of just how a story that was for so many people.


TREVOR COWLETT, VACCINATION PATIENT: To have this protection straight away is a great moment really, and being an Oxford man, being an Oxford

University man, I was absolutely delighted that they've done it. And I'd like to congratulate them.


SOARES: Historic indeed. Well, AstraZeneca says there's been a decline in demand because of the number of new jabs now available.

Hanna Ziady is with me now.

Hanna, just explain for our viewers, because we all remember this, right? This was a historic moment back in 2021. I mean, is it withdrawing? Is it

simply because of competition? There are more drugs on the market? Just explain what the thinking here is.

HANNA ZIADY, CNN WRITER: Right. I mean, worth pointing out that AstraZeneca is not even making this vaccine anymore because, as you said, sales have

fallen and really sharply by how much? They peaked at $4 billion in 2021 and last year they came in at just $12 million. And really that is because

of these newer updated vaccines, the MRNA vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna. Some experts say these are simply better, they are more effective,

they're more easily adapted to newer COVID variance.

So this week's announcement really means that the AstraZeneca vaccine will no longer be authorized to be sold in the European Union and we expect that

to extend to other countries in due time.

SOARES: And it has, I mean, this is something that you've written about extensively here on, being dogged also, AstraZeneca, by concerns of

headlines of side effects, it's facing a class action lawsuit here. Does that have -- does that play a part at all in this decision?

ZIADY: Well, the company is citing commercial reasons, a decline in demand. It hasn't made any revenue from the vaccine since last April, and it was

selling it out largely at cost for a long time, but there are dozens of cases in court by claimants who alleged that they have suffered injuries as

a result of the vaccine. And some are claiming on behalf of loved ones who have died.

SOARES: This is blood clotting, right, as some of the concerns?

ZIADY: Exactly. So complications related to blood clotting, very dangerous blood clotting, although rare.



ZIADY: And also, you know, in April '21, (INAUDIBLE) regulators in the U.K. and elsewhere did update the product information to make mention of this

issue, AstraZeneca itself has acknowledged that it is a possible though rare side effects. So those cases are important and we will watch to see

how they unfold in the coming months.

SOARES: I mean, was this to be predicted for coming from AstraZeneca given the competition and how quickly will this be taken off the market? How

quickly will we see that?

ZIADY: So withdrawal process I'm not sure, but I think in reality that the vaccine is just not really being used anymore because of these other newer

varieties. It was a very crucial vaccine in the early stages of the pandemic, as we saw that gentleman Trevor. It was of course developed in

partnership with Oxford University and he mentioned that. And it was very crucial for low-income some countries because AstraZeneca sold it at cost

largely, only later making a small profit from some richer countries. But by then, sales had already started falling sharply.

So I do think this is a competition issue and also worth bearing in mind that AstraZeneca came into this COVID-19 crisis with very little experience

in vaccine development. It's known for its popular cancer drugs, in particular lung cancer treatment. So it was a bit of an outside player. It

faced quite a bumpy ride. It came under fire from policymakers in the U.S. and Europe over mistakes in clinical trials, over data that it didn't fully

disclose, over production delays, which meant that promised doses weren't delivered in Europe. But the company says that it is very proud of the role

that its vaccine played in the pandemic.

SOARES: It has indeed. It should be. It was historic.

Hanna, appreciate it. Thank you very much.

Now, on his first visit to Europe in five years, the Chinese president has been pushing back against claims over Beijing's support for Moscow in the

Ukraine war. Xi Jinping is now in Hungary after arriving from Serbia. The visit there coincided with the 25th anniversary of NATO's bombing of the

Chinese embassy in Belgrade. Speaking on Ukraine in particular, Mr. Xi said China is neither the creator nor the crisis there nor a participant.

Tensions between Beijing and Brussels have frayed since the start of the war with concerns over trade as well as China's wider ambitions.

And tensions between China and the West have created an opportunity for countries like Vietnam. That is according to the country's largest asset

manager. Vietnam's economy has grown dramatically over the last two decades. And that's despite challenges like corruption. Last month a real

estate tycoon was sentenced to death over her role in a financial fraud case worth more than $12 billion.

And during a recent trip to Vietnam, Richard Quest spoke to Don Lam, the CEO of VinaCapital about how the country is positioning itself for growth.


DON LAM, CEO, VINACAPITAL: Vietnam should do a better job at actually promoting itself and get the message out there. You know, when I go see an

investor, some of the newer investor, even 10 years ago, they're asking me, is there a war still going on, and this is 10 years ago and the war is off

for like 30 years already. So it is an up and coming powerhouse. It's a new tiger. Most people, if they know Vietnam, they said new tiger economy of

East Asia.


LAM: Based around economic growth. We are now growing over 6 percent a year. At last 20 years or so, 6 percent or 7 percent per year GDP every

year. We're 100 million people and right now we are moving quickly, very quickly from textile, low-cost manufacturing, electronic, and then up the

value chain to semiconductor.

QUEST: Where do you think you are in that at the moment?

LAM: Yes.

QUEST: Not travel. You know, there's still a lot of garments made in Vietnam.

LAM: Yes. It's still making a lot. But even the garment, we're moving up the value chain off garment. So we are now making for the top end brand.

Even garment initially, you go for the low end cost and you move up to the top end brand. And then you move all of it completely. But most of our

export now, one-third of our export is actually in electronic and semiconductor. One-third. That's huge in the last, just basically seven,

eight years.

It's mostly driven by Samsung. Samsung had moved here, and pretty much half the mobile phone they produce globally is here.

QUEST: How important was the upgrading of the U.S. commercial relationship to being a strategic partnership?

LAM: That is probably the most important thing happened to Vietnam in the last 10 years. The reason is that once the U.S. and Vietnam have that

agreement in place, you have all these manufacturer thinking about coming to Vietnam. Now they move into Vietnam because that agreement is sort like

a stamp of approval. Please come to Vietnam, produce in Vietnam and now you can export to U.S.

QUEST: Does Vietnam benefit when China and the U.S. are at odds?


LAM: The answer is yes, because manufacturer are looking to relocate under this China Plus One policy. So they are relocating the factory to Vietnam

to be able to produce in Vietnam and export globally.

QUEST: What about corruption? Every country in some shape or form has corruption. But what this scandal has showed is, I mean, this is on a

herculean scale. Are you concerned?

LAM: I think the short term is yes. The answer is yes. But along the medium to longer term, I think it's the right thing to do. As a government is

trying to clean up under the anti-corruption drive, I think people now are more playing by the rules. People now are saying, look, we better play by

the rules because if you don't, you're going to get caught up in this. So investor who are looking at investment in Vietnam, medium to longer term, I

think it's better for us because now people are saying you better play by the rules.

QUEST: Finally, you've been here how long?

LAM: Thirty years. This year is actually 30 years. I arrive, oh, my god, April 1st, 1994. So 30 years and one month-ish.

QUEST: What's the biggest change you've seen?

LAM: People are much happier. Happier. I think because when I first arrived, you know, Vietnam has just opened up. So the poverty level is

still quite high. I think now people are more stable, more well-off.

QUEST: Are you and I the last of that generation that when you say the word Vietnam, we think of the war, we think of the helicopter taking off from

the roof? We're just about, you know, we're the last of that.

LAM: We are the last. We got the last of Mohican and now the next generation, a lot of young people coming back here to work. They don't even

remember that part of it.


SOARES: And that is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS for you. Up next, "Quest's World of Wonders." Have a wonderful day. Bye-bye.