VN companies urged to go to Southeast Asian markets

Friday, Mar 29, 2019 08:39

Vo Tan Thanh, vice president of the Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry, speaks at the Southeast Asia Outbound Investment Forum in HCM City on March 28. — VNS Photo

Vietnamese companies should further invest in and trade with ASEAN member countries like Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia, a forum heard in HCM City on Thursday.

Vo Tan Thanh, vice president of the Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), told the Southeast Asia Outbound Investment Forum, “Thailand is Viet Nam’s largest trading partner among ASEAN countries, with bilateral trade reaching over US$17.5 billion last year, a year-on-year increase of 15 per cent.

“Viet Nam’s trade with Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar also grew last year.”

Viet Nam had a trade deficit with Thailand because it imported a lot of machinery and equipment, raw materials for domestic production and automobiles, he said.

In 2018, Thailand was the biggest source of automobiles for Viet Nam, he added.

Viet Nam’s exports to these markets include mobile phones and components, computers, electronic products and components, iron and steel, machinery and equipment, vehicles and spare parts, garment and textile products, crude oil, and gasoline.

As of last year, Thailand was the ninth largest investor in Viet Nam out of 130 countries and territories with $10.5 billion in 528 projects.

Laos ranked 52nd with $70 million, Cambodia was 56th with over $64 million and Myanmar, 99th with one project worth $800,000.

Vietnamese companies have invested in all these countries, including nearly $26 million in Thailand.

They have invested over $3 billion in Cambodia to make the country among the five largest foreign investors in there.

Viet Nam was the seventh largest foreign investor in Myanmar with nearly $2 billion in 70 projects.

Investment and trade ties between Viet Nam and these countries remain short of their potential and they are making efforts to set this right.

Viet Nam and Thailand for instance have set a target of increasing their trade to $20 billion by 2020, while Viet Nam and Laos target 10 per cent growth in trade this year.

To provide local companies seeking to expand operations in Southeast Asia with more information about these markets, VCCI in collaboration with Tilleke & Gibbins, a leading Southeast Asian law firm, held the first Southeast Asia Outbound Investment Forum, Thanh said.

Thomas Treutler, partner and managing director of Tilleke & Gibbins (Viet Nam), said many foreign investors are coming to Viet Nam because of the good quality of its products and services, skill of its workforce and the competence of its companies.

So there is no reason why these companies cannot go abroad and compete successfully there, he said.

“Many Vietnamese companies have succeeded overseas and that can be replicated further.”

He said companies should pay more attention to protecting their brands abroad.

Tilleke & Gibbins’ lawyers from its Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Thailand offices spoke to attendees about market entry in their respective jurisdictions, the process and legal framework for doing business there and the market opportunities and challenges in each country. — VNS

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