ASEAN investment pours into local market

Saturday, Dec 06, 2014 13:02

Workers produce cooking oil at the Cai Lan Oils and Fats Industries Co., Ltd in the northern province of Quang Ninh. Viet Nam has attracted US$44 billion in investments from ASEAN countries. — VNA/VNS Photo Hong Ky
HA NOI (Biz Hub)— Viet Nam continued to attract further investment from ASEAN countries this year, according to the Ministry of Planning and Investment's Foreign Investment Agency.

Figures from the agency showed that as of November 20, the ASEAN community had invested an overall total of 2,485 projects in Viet Nam worth US$44 billion. This is higher than the average foreign investment of $14.2 million per project in the country.

Singapore took the lead with 1,344 projects worth $32.7 billion or 61 per cent of the total, followed by Malaysia with 480 projects worth $11.99 billion or 22 per cent, and Thailand with 371 projects worth $6.65 billion or 12.4 per cent.

The ASEAN countries poured most of their investments into the manufacturing sector with 965 projects worth $21.6 billion, followed by real estate and construction.

Most of the projects, numbering 1,838 and worth $34.4 billion, are entirely foreign-invested and make up 64 per cent of the total.

ASEAN countries have invested in 55 cities and provinces this year. HCM City placed first in attracting ASEAN investments with 1,065 projects worth $14.9 billion, followed by Ha Noi with 399 projects worth $8.54 billion and Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province with 67 projects of unspecified value.

Some of the big ASEAN projects in Viet Nam include Singapore's $4-billion South Hoi An Resort, Thailand's $3.7-billion Long Son Petrochemicals Complex, Samsung Electronics Viet Nam project's $3-billion second phase and Malaysia's Berjaya Viet Nam International University.

AEC: opportunities

Meanwhile, Vietnamese enterprises were warned to prepare for the challenges and opportunities arising from the establishment next year of the ASEAN Economic Community, with a market of about 600 million consumers.

The AEC is expected to become the sole market where the bloc will promote the free movement of goods, services, investment and labour.

In line with this, Viet Nam has completed the scrapping of 80 per cent of import tariffs and plans to remove 13 to 15 more at the beginning of next year. It will be flexible in its implementation of the remaining seven tariffs till 2018.

Hoang Van Phuong, head of Multilateral Trade Policies Department's ASEAN Office, said the AEC would bring more markets to Viet Nam because of the consequent decrease in the cost of transporting goods and would help Vietnamese labourers, especially highly-skilled professionals, get new jobs.

Phuong noted that Viet Nam's economic development has been strengthened ever since it joined the community because of larger investments and export earnings.

However, the country will continue to face challenges arising from the creation of the AEC. Figures showed that 70 per cent of Vietnamese businesses were in the agricultural sector while the remainder were in the service sector.

More than half of the businesses are small- and medium-sized enterprises focused on agricultural and handicrafts production.

Because of this, several companies have paid more attention to the markets of the United States, European Union and Japan instead of those of neighbouring countries. This could bring about fierce competition from foreign investors with the advantage of huge capitalisation, deep experience and modern technologies, Phuong added.

He observed that the economy was mainly based on cheap labour and natural resources with low-level technologies, which served as big challenges in the anticipated trade competition.

Viet Nam could lose against competitors in the community in terms of goods and market scale, he added.

On Viet Nam's strategies for integration, Nguyen Trung Chinh, CMC Group general director, explained that in the information and technology sector, businesses should not choose confrontation as a solution. — VNS

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