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McDonald's opens first restaurant in Vietnam

Published on Feb 8, 2014 2:02 PM

HO CHI MINH CITY (AFP) - Four decades after the Vietnam war ended, United States fast-food giant McDonald's opened its first restaurant in the communist country on Saturday, aiming to lure a rising middle class away from rice and noodles.

The arrival of one of the most potent symbols of US capitalism in southern Ho Chi Minh City - known as Saigon when American troops dramatically withdrew in 1975 - is the result of a partnership with the son-in-law of Vietnam's powerful Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung.

McDonald's is following US rivals Burger King, KFC and coffee giant Starbucks into Vietnam - a country many Americans associate more with an unpopular war than a newly wealthy middle class.

But with its 90 million-strong population and average per capita income of more than US$1,500 (S$1,900), "Vietnam is on the radar now" for US franchises, said Mr Sean Ngo, managing director of consulting firm Vietnam Franchises Ltd.

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