Oct 14, 2019 / 05:10

Foreign firms keen to invest in wide range of sectors in Hanoi: Diplomats

The Hanoitimes - On the occasion of the 65th anniversary of Hanoi’s Liberation and the Vietnam Entrepreneur Day, foreign diplomats recognized the capital city’s efforts to make its investment climate more conducive, and pointed out the sectors in this city that companies from their countries are interested to get engaged in.

Norway: ICT, digitalization, and environmentally friendly investments
 Norwegian Ambassador to Vietnam – Grete Løchen. Photo: Norwegian Embassy in Hanoi
Norwegian Ambassador to Vietnam – Grete Løchen. Photo: Norwegian Embassy in Hanoi

I have been in Vietnam for one year and have observed strong determination of your city’s leaders, particularly Chairman of the Hanoi People’ Committee Nguyen Duc Chung in making Hanoi a better place not only for the city’s people, tourists but also investors. Your efforts have been recognized by the fact that Hanoi jumped up four places and became one of the 10 cities and provinces with the highest competitiveness score in Vietnam. But I know Hanoi will not stop there.

A friendly investment environment should make sense in all meanings: enabling businesses, promoting e-government with simplified and digitalized administrative procedures, and having a smart and green environment. My home city, Oslo, has a lot of lessons on promoting a green and smart city, for example banning cars in some parts of the city, removing parking spots and replacing them with new lanes for bicycles and tiny parks, improving public transport, electric city buses and making cycling safe and comfortable etc.

ICT, digitalization, and environmentally friendly investments have great potential. Hanoi and Norwegian companies and institutions should explore cooperation opportunities in these areas. I can recall Chairman Chung met with Norwegian companies about this during his visit to Norway in May with Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc.

It is encouraging to know that Hanoi is now working on a ban of single-use plastics in the city’s supermarkets by the end of next year. In this regard, I am sure Norway has many advanced and ecogreen technological solutions for efficient waste treatment including plastic recycling. An exciting new regional pilot project, OPTOCE funded by Norway on how to use non-recyclable plastic as energy source in the cement industry should also be of interest for Hanoi. Public-private partnership is key to push the green agenda not just in Hanoi but globally. We are ready to transfer knowledge and technologies.

I’m concerned about the serious air pollution in and around Hanoi which we are experiencing. It affects people’s health and quality of life. That’s why green investment and initiatives are urgently needed for Hanoi and its people.

Singapore: Smart city, high-tech urban solutions
Singaporean Ambassador to Vietnam Catherine Wong
Singaporean Ambassador to Vietnam Catherine Wong

Vietnam and Hanoi have made great strides in improving the business climate in recent years, especially in terms of attracting foreign direct investment. In particular, the Hanoi People’s Committee has been very active in engaging our businesses, who are keen to grow their investments in Hanoi.  

For instance, in July 2019, Enterprise Singapore (ESG) and the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) led one of the largest Singapore business delegation missions in recent years to Hanoi and other Vietnamese cities. During that visit, they had fruitful talks with Chairman of the Hanoi People’s Committee Nguyen Duc Chung on new business opportunities in Hanoi.

Singapore is the third largest investor in Vietnam and second largest in Hanoi.  Hanoi is an attractive investment destination for Singapore companies. There are many opportunities here. For foreign investors wanting to invest here, it is important for the Hanoi government to provide a conducive and predictable operating environment for them. Singapore appreciates the Vietnamese government’s and Hanoi authority’s continued support to maintain a conducive investment environment for foreign companies to operate in.

In addition, both sides should encourage more investment beyond traditional sectors of investment. For example, Singaporean firms are excited to contribute to Vietnam’s and Hanoi’s smart city agenda, from high-tech urban solutions to e-government, to bolster public service delivery, convenience, and quality of life for the Vietnamese people. Another area Singaporean firms are keen to participate in is in urban solutions such as master-planning, traffic management, waste and water management. Fintech is yet another area of opportunity.

America: Emerging technologies, infrastructure

According to a US Embassy official, the business environment has improved greatly over the past few years in Vietnam, in general, and Hanoi, in particular. In 2018, Vietnam attracted US$19.1 billion in FDI, a 9.1 % increase from 2017.  

The United States is now Vietnam’s largest export market, and Vietnam is one of America’s fastest growing markets. We credit continued economic reforms, a young and dynamic population, political stability, and inexpensive labor for much of this growth.

Some challenges remain, of course. The annual US Investment Climate Statement this year noted that corruption, a weak legal infrastructure, poor enforcement of intellectual property rights, and a shortage of skilled labor are all factors that hinder Vietnam from reaching its full potential.   

We see a number of areas that Vietnam and Hanoi could improve upon. To highlight a few:

- Vietnam should maintain a predictable investment and tax environment, not just for American companies, but all foreign companies.

- There are several exciting opportunities in emerging technologies like e-payments, online streaming, artificial intelligence, and smart cities. US companies stand ready to invest and provide expertise. The US government also looks forward to providing input as you draft new policies to protect data privacy and maintain cybersecurity, which will encourage that investment.  

We also encourage you to strengthen and enforce laws to protect intellectual property rights. Getting these key policies right will further strengthen your ability to attract FDI.

- Finally, we see great potential for foreign investment to help Vietnam meet its growing infrastructure demands. Given the right business climate, US companies can help to support and build the infrastructure that will help create jobs and prosperity for Vietnam.