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Jun 26, 2020 / 16:16

Time for Hanoi to focus on greener and cleaner investments: Norway envoy

Ambassador of Norway to Vietnam Grete Løchen has shared her thoughts with Hanoitimes about how Vietnam and Hanoi, as a safe and stable investment destination for investors, can advance green growth.

In May 2019, Chairman of the Hanoi People’s Committee’s Nguyen Duc Chung, while accompanying Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc on his official visit to Norway, had a meeting with leading companies and business groups of Norway to discuss cooperation opportunities. 

 Ambassador of Norway to Vietnam, Grete Løchen. Photo: Embassy of Norway

Covid-19 has also showcased the importance of developing better digital platforms within health, education, finance as well as more focus on healthy living and eating habits. With a more health-conscious Vietnamese population, fresh Norwegian seafood would be very attractive for the Vietnamese market. As soon as Vietnam resumes international commercial flights, I’m confident that Norwegian businesses will be coming to Vietnam and Hanoi.

Not just Vietnam’s economy has been hit hard due to the Covid-19 pandemic but the global economy as well. It’s important to recognize that the pandemic is not over at the global level and in some countries, we do see increasing numbers of infected persons. 

The challenge for every country is to balance the task of containing the virus while reopening the economy. In short, the world needs to learn to live with the virus until we have an affordable vaccine available to all.

I do think it’s important to recognize that it is not about getting back to the situation before Covid-19 but that there is a new normal after Covid-19. This goes for businesses as well. The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated trends in the global economy such as protectionism and digitalization. 

It’s important to safeguard a rule-based international trade regime and to look for new business opportunities in a sustainable manner. It’s not about quick fixes, but more about innovation and ensuring fair distribution. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are more relevant than ever before.

 Ambassador of Norway to Vietnam Grete Løchen and Hanoi's mayor Nguyen Duc Chung hold a meeting. Photo: Embassy of Norway.

It is encouraging to see the entire Vietnam and Hanoi city are now striving to perform the dual tasks of recovering the economy while containing Covid-19. The fact that the city is to organize the “Hanoi 2020 – Investment and Development Cooperation” Conference in the current situation shows the City’s determination to speed up economic recovery and continue to grow.

Many analysts feel Vietnam’s performance with the fight against Covid-19 would enhance its credibility among the international community and could make it more attractive to foreign investors. Asia was the first continent hit by Covid-19 and the first one probably recovering. This gives Asia probably some advantages.

It is true that Vietnam and Hanoi remain a safe and stable investment destination for investors. In general, foreign investors always consider several important factors when making their investment decisions, which include (1) the political stability, (2) a business enabling environment with consistent and predictable legal and policy frameworks, (3) transparent and accessible information, (4) simplified administrative procedures, and (5) skilled workers.   

However, the way to attract foreign investors post Covid-19 should be different from the traditional one. First of all, it means that Vietnam must open up again its international borders for business. Incentives should be specific and meet foreign investors’ expectations matching it with Vietnam’s needs to strengthen and develop its domestic private sector. 

It is time to focus on greener and cleaner investments to tackle Hanoi’s serious challenges, when it comes to air pollution and to ensure sustainable and environmentally friendly development.

 At the upcoming “Hanoi 2020 – Investment and Development Cooperation” conference, the city's leaders will issue licenses for 116 projects with registered capital of a combined VND339.67 trillion (US$14.66 billion), according to the municipal People’s Committee.

The event, scheduled to take place at the National Convention Center on June 27, is set to attract up to 1,850 delegates, including senior government officials, 29 ambassadors and diplomatic officers, representatives from eight international organizations, foreign experts, among others.