Saturday, July 18, 2009

Vietnam a rising star for Thai investors

VIETNAM'S RISING STAR

Binh Duong province offers the advantage of proximity to Ho Chi Minh City but lower costs.

Writer: By Umesh Pandey
Published: 18/07/2009 at 12:00 AM
Newspaper section: Business

Following up on a successful seminar last year on Southeast Asia's newest tiger economy, industry leaders, government experts and bankers will gather later this month in Bangkok to update investors on opportunities in Vietnam.

The event, titled "Vietnam as a Potential Investment Location: Where and How?", will be held on July 28 from 2-6:30 pm at the Landmark Hotel Ballroom, with free admission on a first-come, first-served basis.

Participants will be a delegation of public and private-sector leaders from Binh Duong province, officials from the Embassy of Vietnam in Bangkok, representatives from Bangkok Bank and other organisations including the Charoen Pokphand Group.

As increasing pressure from the economic downturn has prompted Thai businesses to seek opportunities abroad, locations such as Vietnam offer the advantage of low-cost resources and labour as well as access to wider markets. Because conditions have changed significantly in the past year, investors are curious about what locations in Vietnam have the best potential, what types of business are suitable and what costs are involved.

According to the Foreign Affairs Ministry, Thailand ranks 11th worldwide in terms of the value of investment in Vietnam and second among Asean countries. Many foreign investment projects, including Thai-owned ventures, are located in the southern economic hub of Ho Chi Minh City. However, Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi are now facing problems of high costs for land rentals and buildings - even higher than in Thailand in many cases.

Binh Duong province is adjacent to Ho Chi Minh City in the South. It is planning a new city called Thu Dau Mot and will also expand the provincial economic and industrial zones. The development project includes a modern residential zone, industrial and service zones that will have shopping malls, financial services, a university, schools, hospitals, a golf resort and a horse-racing track.

The province is eager to attract Thai businesses, which can enjoy lower costs compared to Ho Chi Minh City, even though the distance is not that far. Factories and shops can take advantage of lower labour wages, a young population and enthusiastic workers.

Provincial officials have also simplified investment procedures and regulations and access to lending. Doing business in Binh Duong will not cover only the immediate local market but would also provide access to a larger Vietnamese market with a population of nearly 85 million.

The area could be developed as an export base and Thai companies can connect to China which offers higher purchasing power and is also experiencing high labour and other costs in major cities compared with Vietnam.

Investment in Vietnam from Thailand has been located mostly in Ho Chi Minh City, Binh Duong, Hanoi, Dongnai and Vungtau. The majority of businesses are in the travel and hotel sector, agricultural chemicals and animal feed, motorcycles, and plastic parts. Many are long-term investors such as Siam Cement and CP, with factories located in Binh Duong. However, small and medium-sized businesses now have more opportunities to invest. Since Vietnam joined the World Trade Organisation, it has opened more doors to Thai SMEs.

The participants at the seminar will be able to meet with authorities and decision-makers from the province to ask questions and receive current information. They will offer full support for visits, and the delegation will also introduce participants to the province's new resident representative in Bangkok for follow-up contacts.

To register for the seminar, e-mail Khun Penboon or Khun Soraya at seminar@business-in-asia.com or call 089-171-2099.

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