Vietnam a trade and investment beacon in 2024: business leaders

(VEN) - Vietnam’s internal strengths and advantages, coupled with the Government’s efforts, help it remain an attractive business destination in a challenging global economic environment, business associations and international economic organizations agree.
Vietnam a trade and investment beacon in 2024: business leaders

CHOI BUNDO, CHAIRMAN, KOREAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE IN VIETNAM (KOCHAM): There’s cause for optimism that the business and investment climate in Vietnam is going to be promising in 2024.

Vietnam is one of the few countries that maintained its strong growth in 2023 while the rest of the world experienced a severe recession. Vietnam is also a politically stable and peaceful country and a safe destination for serious and long-term investment plans.

In recent years, Republic of Korea (RoK) has been the biggest investor in Vietnam, thanks to the open market policies of the Vietnamese government, the diligence of its people and the stable long-term cooperative relationship between both countries.

After eight years of implementation, the Vietnam - Korea Free Trade Agreement (VKFTA) has delivered significant benefits for Korean businesses and investors in Vietnam. The agreement, signed on May 5, 2015 and effective on December 20, 2015, was the first bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) that Vietnam signed with an Asian country.

The VKFTA aims to boost trade and investment between the two countries by eliminating tariffs, reducing non-tariff barriers, and enhancing cooperation in various sectors. The VKFTA has created a favorable environment for businesses in both countries to thrive.

More than 9,000 RoK firms have entered Vietnam so far, and cooperation has strengthened in various fields, including manufacturing, energy, education, and tourism. The field that Korean companies invested most in Vietnam in 2023 was processing and manufacturing, especially in the electronics, machinery and food processing sectors. RoK is the largest foreign investor in Vietnam, with about 9,500 projects and over US$80 billion in registered capital. South Korean projects were typically of small- and medium-scale, but a number of large-scale projects have come in recently, including projects from Samsung in the northern provinces of Bac Ninh and Thai Nguyen provinces and Ho Chi Minh City, and from the LG Group in the northern port city of Hai Phong. Vietnam has become a global production base for many leading South Korean corporations.

The business and investment climate in Vietnam is going to be optimistic and promising in 2024. Vietnam is seen as an increasingly attractive investment destination for Korean investors. South Korean investors no longer see Vietnam as their manufacturing base. Instead they see the country as a market with high potential.

In line with global economic trends, Vietnam will be interested in attracting investment in the following industries in 2024: semiconductors, chip design technology, artificial intelligence, big data and digital technology. These industries are also Korea's strengths. Therefore, in the coming years, these fields are likely to be the focus of upcoming investments by Korean companies in Vietnam.

Vietnam a trade and investment beacon in 2024: business leaders

MATSUMOTO NOBUYUKI, CHIEF REPRESENTATIVE, JAPAN EXTERNAL TRADE ORGANIZATION (JETRO) IN HO CHI MINH CITY: Japanese companies' interest in Vietnam remains high.

According to a survey conducted by JETRO in August 2023, Japanese companies' interest in Vietnam remains high, with 56.7% of firms indicating that they plan to expand their business in the next 1-2 years. This is higher than the ASEAN average of 47.5%. By industry, the sectors with the highest readiness to expand operations are food (80.0%), transportation equipment (75.0%), chemicals and pharmaceuticals (70.8% ). Both manufacturing and non-manufacturing industries believe that increasing domestic market demand and increased exports are reasons for Japanese companies to expand their business in Vietnam.

Although it will depend on the speed of the global economic recovery and the degree to which the yen's depreciation improves, it is expected that investment from Japan in 2024 will be focused on targeting domestic demand in Vietnam.

Vietnam aims to become carbon neutral by 2050, the use of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and renewable energy is mentioned in Power Development Plan VIII (PDP8), and many Japanese Investors see this as a great business opportunity for Japan as well. As the Direct Power Purchase Agreement (DPPA) and carbon credits begin to make concrete progress in the future, we hope that many bilateral cooperation projects will make progress.

2023 marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and Vietnam. Based on the cooperative relationship between the two governments, exchanges at the private sector level are expected to become even more active, and JETRO will do its utmost to be of service in this regard, and we look forward to even closer economic ties between the two countries.

Vietnam a trade and investment beacon in 2024: business leaders

GREG TESTERMAN, FORMER CHAIRMAN, AMERICAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE IN VIETNAM (AMCHAM VIETNAM): The Vietnamese government has done an amazing job in maintaining economic stability.

The Vietnamese government has done an amazing job in maintaining economic stability in 2023, even though the general world situation was very difficult. I am really impressed by Vietnam's commitment and openness to new ideas, including free market ideas – by how Vietnamese government leaders are committed to getting the impressions, opinions and advice of the international business community including AmCham, which represents US companies.

The US business community welcomes and supports the vision and actions of the Vietnamese Government in support of sustainable growth and low-carbon energy transition. We believe that Vietnam has great potential to become a regional leader in renewable energy, as well as a strategic partner of the United States in advancing the global climate agenda. The US business community is ready to contribute expertise, technology and capital to help Vietnam achieve its energy goals. Healthcare and semiconductors are also areas of investment interest for US companies in Vietnam.

Vietnam is very well positioned in terms of manufacturing costs and the education level of its labor force. This is part of what attracts US investors to Vietnam. The first thing the international investment community knows about Vietnam is its high growth rate; and AmCham is very optimistic and bullish about the performance of the Vietnamese economy in 2024.

Vietnam a trade and investment beacon in 2024: business leaders

GABOR FLUIT, CHAIRMAN, EUROPEAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE IN VIETNAM (EUROCHAM): Vietnam's attractiveness as an investment destination is on the rise.

In 2023, despite ongoing global economic uncertainty, Vietnam has offered many great opportunities for the European business community. Renewable energy was a major focus, with Europe investing heavily in Vietnam's wind and solar energy projects. These efforts are in line with Vietnam's plans to boost its renewable energy sector, including big projects to improve power systems and increase solar and wind energy.

Vietnam's attractiveness as an investment destination is also on the rise, experiencing a remarkable 14.8% increase compared to the previous year. This growth is particularly prominent in the manufacturing and tech sectors, highlighting the growing trust and recognition of Vietnam's potential among global investors.

Regarding the business and investment climate in Vietnam, European businesses remain optimistic. Despite the global slowdown, European investment in Vietnam is expected to rise in 2024, but at a slower pace compared to the pre-2020 period. EuroCham's Business Confidence Index reflects this positive sentiment, increasing from 43.5 in Q2 to 45.1 in Q3, and reached 46.3 in Q4 of 2023, indicating growing confidence from European businesses.

Vietnam's recent enhancements in visa policies have significantly increased its attractiveness to both companies and tourists. In 2024, Vietnam remains a top choice for European investors due to its diverse and promising investment environment. The country is growing economically, supported by healthy demographics and social trends, as well as policies that encourage growth.

Manufacturing is a key sector for European investors, especially as global supply chain dynamics shift. Vietnam's strategic location and favorable trade policies make it an ideal place for manufacturing, providing European firms with diversified sourcing options and greater supply chain stability.

Green energy is also getting a lot of attention from investors. Excitement around events like EuroCham’s Green Economy Forum (GEF) back in November 2023 and our upcoming Green Economy Forum & Exhibition (GEFE) toward the end of 2024 signals a keen interest in this area, as well as the green economy generally.

My Phung

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