Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Trade Fair Exposes Cultural Divide Vietnamese Seem Baffled by Some U.S. Products

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Trade Fair Exposes Cultural Divide Vietnamese Seem Baffled by Some U.S. Products

Article excerpt

Thousands of guests surged through a single doorway Thursday to see American products on display at Vietnam's first trade fair for U.S. companies.

The morning crowd of government officials and businesspeople in a Hanoi exhibition hall gave way in the afternoon to ordinary Vietnamese in conical rice hats and army shirts.

Giang Tran, whose Vietnam Investment Information and Consulting organized the event, said participants aimed at "building bridges rather than drawing differences" between their countries.

But opening day of Vietnamerica Expo '94, which drew about 50 U.S. companies, illustrated the cultural gap still dividing America and Vietnam 21 years after hostilities between them ended.

Willert Home Products of St. Louis was the only company selling directly from its booth. Willert is the world's biggest maker of mothballs and bathroom fresheners.

"They should offer samples first because people don't know what it is or how to use it," said government worker Bui Thi Thoa, referring to the fresheners. …

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