One of the world's most attractive emerging markets, Vietnam's growth has been second only to that of China in recent years
The rise of Vietnam up the world economic league tables in recent years may have temporarily been halted by the global downturn, but many believe the long term story will continue to be dramatic.
A survey of world business leaders recently identified Vietnam as the most attractive emerging market beyond the BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India, China) club of elite highgrowth countries.
Over the past decade only China has shown stronger growth than Vietnam, which is now regarded as one of Asia's most open economies.
It has also been seeing the benefits of investment to exploit its oil reserves and is now the third largest producer in the region.
Neil Wallace, who visited the country many times as part of a project the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Scotland were involved in, said the growth he witnessed in the country in recent years was breathtaking.
"When I first went there you still saw a lot of push-bikes on the streets but by the time I left everyone had mopeds. You could see new factories opening almost before your eyes," says Wallace, who was involved as part of ICAS's role in an EU-funded project to help raise accountancy standards in the country.
While the global economic crisis will have put the brakes on its dramatic expansion, he believes that momentum will continue when recovery is underway and that the nation's work ethic will stand it in better stead than most.
"The Vietnamese are very hardworking people. They'll work seven days a week and all hours."
The potential for growth in trade with Vietnam has seen UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) identify it as one of its 17 priority markets around the world.
Key sectors which offer the greatest opportunities include financial, information technology, power systems and environmental technology.
Infrastructure is also an area where Vietnam is keen to bring in outside expertise.
"As a result of the economic expansion it has seen, the country's physical infrastructure has been placed under severe pressure," points out Wai-Kit Ho, vice consul of UK Trade & Investment in Vietnam.
He also highlights other opportunities in retail, oil and gas and business and consumer services.
"As with any emerging markets around the world, there are challenges but in our opinion the medium and long term business prospects in Vietnam remain positive."
Formal efforts to encourage more trade between the two countries have led to the formation of the UK-Vietnam Joint Economic and Trade Committee to smooth out obstacles and give businesses on the ground a platform to raise any issues directly with government ministers.
Although still a relatively poor country, consumers are also enjoying increasing disposable income, and with 90 million consumers and retail sales up 20 per cent year on year there are increasing opportunities for companies to get their products on Vietnamese shelves.
"Things like fashion are very popular among the younger generation in Vietnam now," says Vân Dundas, who is originally from Vietnam but married a Scot and now manages Edinburgh City Council's Interpretation and Translation Service.
"Whisky is also increasingly being seen everywhere - even if people can't afford it for themselves they buy it as gifts for others."
The potential for whisky exports has recently been boosted with Vietnam agreeing to reduce its tax on all spirits from 60 per cent to 45 per cent.
While Vietnam is keen to do business with the outside world - partly to meet the challenge it faces to create jobs for a labour force growing by more than 1.5 million people a year - those looking to build trading relationships with Vietnam need to be aware of cultural differences.
"It's probably a more different culture than anywhere else I've worked," says Wallace, currently working for the Asian Development Bank in the Philippines and who has experience of more than 40 countries.
"It is a hard place to get to know people because they don't open up to you immediately unlike somewhere like Russia where they are very forward from the first moment.
"The Vietnamese won't invite you to lunch until they know you but once they do they'll invite you every day." Respect is also a very important part of the Vietnamese culture extending to business meetings where it is advisable to address any comments to the most senior person there.
During negotiations it is common for the Vietnamese to sit on one side of the table with visitors sitting on the other with the most senior person taking the centre seat with staff next to them in descending order of importance.
Despite their initial reserve and formality Dundas points out that the Vietnamese are very keen to build relationships with other nations.
"We very much look to all the advanced countries to help try and grow our country."
Although English is not particularly widely spoken amongst older people, many younger Vietnamese speak good English.
"A lot of younger people have studied abroad and they are also very keen to practice their language skills and would try and speak to you in English where possible."
While the Scottish card may be a good one to play in other Asian markets, in Vietnam there is little awareness of Scotland as a nation.
"They don't really distinguish between England and Scotland. If you say you're from the UK they think you're from England!" says Dundas.
For Wallace, it can be a rather frustrating aspect of working there.
"From my experience it is just one of those places that has no real concept of Scotland.
"You tell people there you're Scottish and five minutes later they refer to you as English!"
Although still a relatively poor country with GDP of US$3300 per capita, much progress has been made in recent years and Vietnam has successfully reduced poverty levels to below that of China and India.
Although the influence of agriculture on the economy is falling it still accounts for around 20 per cent of output with major export markets in rice, nuts, tea and coffee.
Vietnam achieved 8 per cent annual GDP growth from 1990 to 1997 before falling back during the Asian financial crisis.
It continued to grow at around 7 per cent from 2000 to 2007, making it the world's second-fastest growing economy.
The Vietnamese government has made significant strides to become a market open to business with the world with steps taken in areas such as bringing intellectual property legislation in line with international standards.
Vietnam's chief trading partners include Japan, Australia, the US and western European countries with the UK being the biggest European investor.