Foreign investment in 2007 reaches $15b
A photograph taken of part of Bien Hoa 2 Industrial Zone (IZ) in southern Dong Nai Province. Dong Nai is one of the leading provinces in the country in terms of attracting foreign direct investment. — VNA/VNS Photo Van Khanh
HA NOI — Viet Nam attracted more than US$15 billion in committed foreign investments so far this year, and the number is likely to hit $16 billion for the year as a whole, a senior official from the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI) said at the investment forum yesterday.
These figures, compared to $10.2 billion in 2006, and $6.4 billion in 2005, meant that foreign investment was growing strongly, said Phan Huu Thang, general director of the MPI’s Foreign Investment Agency.
"That is the most practical measure of our efforts to improve the business environment in Viet Nam," Thang said. Viet Nam was ranked number six in the world for investment desirability, after China, India, US, Russia and Brazil, according to UN Conference on Trade and Development 2007.
Thang was speaking at an investment seminar entitled, "Viet Nam: the Rising Star - Prospects for Investment and Business", organised by Viet Nam’s MPI and the Malaysia-based Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute (Asli). It aims to promote investment by Malaysian businesses in Ha Noi and 31 of Viet Nam’s northern provinces.
Mirzan Mahathir, Asli’s president, said that Viet Nam has successfully changed from a centrally planned economy into a market economy and has attracted many investors from Southeast Asia, particularly from Malaysia, Thailand, and Singapore.
"As Viet Nam’s economy faces greater regional competition, economic resources should be used to bring greater income to the people," he said.
Nguyen Bich Dat, deputy minister of planning and investment, said that in this economy- which is being restructured from a very low starting point- Asian businesses can find competitive advantages that are complementary to their development.
Foreign investors can now engage in more forms for investment in Viet Nam, including setting up joint ventures, purchasing shares of domestic shareholding companies, mergers and acquisitions and indirect investments.
For conditional sectors such as finance, banking, insurance, securities and telecom, Viet Nam has committed to a market-opening roadmap that is transparent to foreign investors, Dat said.
Viet Nam’s economy is expected to grow at 8.5 per cent in 2007 and maintain the high growth of 9 per cent through to 2009. Investments are still increasing at 18 per cent a year, accounting for 41 per cent of GDP.
The State budget allocated 55 per cent of its investment for infrastructure and 20 per cent for education, Dat said, both areas whose improvement remains a major challenges facing Viet Nam.
Malaysian businesses said that Viet Nam’s offered the advantages of a large market, high-literacy and low-cost labour, and political stability.
"Viet Nam has more than three times the population of Malaysia," said Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Vincent Tan, CEO of the Berjaya Corporation Bhd. "Its recent entry into the WTO also signifies the Government’s committment to reform and the development of a market economy," he said.
Teow Leong Seng, executive director of S P Setia Bhd Group, said that he was impressed with Viet Nam’s vibrant economy and the fact that it attracted the second largest FDI inflows in East Asia, after China.
Setia has just received licence for a $800 million project to build a 226ha fully-integrated township in My Phuoc Industrial Park in Binh Duong Province, 40km north of HCM City.
Licensed on November 8, EcoLakes will be developed by SetiaBecamex, a joint venture between Setia and Viet Nam’s State-owned Becamex IDC Corp.
Teow Leoung Seng said that his group is currently interested in real estate and infrastructure development projects near Ha Noi and HCM City.