There is huge opportunity for Viet Nam and the US to further boost investment and trade ties in many sectors, a seminar heard in HCM City on Wednesday.
Tran Dinh Thien, general director of the Viet Nam Institute of Economics, told “Meet the USA” that the US is among Viet Nam’s largest trading partners and investors.
Bilateral trade increased from US$1 billion 17 years ago to more than $46 billion last year.
The US ranks ninth among 119 countries and territories investing in Viet Nam, with investments of around $12 billion, but the amount is modest compared to the potential, he said.
Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Ha Kim Ngoc said during the US visit by Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, the two sides pledged to promote economic ties.
The two economies are complementary rather than competing, and so co-operation would result in a win-win situation, he said.
Nguyen Thanh Phong, chairman of the HCM City People’s Committee, said, “Viet Nam, particularly HCM City, wants advanced technologies in manufacturing, environment and services from the US.”
Smart city development, environment, agriculture, and clean energy are among the sectors in Viet Nam offering great incentives to investors, he said.
Nguyen Thien Nhan, the city Party Secretary, Viet Nam wants to co-operate with the US in the fourth industrial revolution.
Viet Nam is currently in the third, he said.
US firms can utilise the low labour costs in Viet Nam – of just $3 per hour compared to $30 in the US – he said.
Many Korean and Japanese businesses have seen this advantage and invested in Viet Nam, Nhan said.
“Investment by South Korean firms now is five time that of US firms,” he said.
Fred Burke, managing partner of Baker & McKenzie Vietnam, said even without the TPP investment and trade between the US and Viet Nam would continue to increase.
Viet Nam has done a lot of good things to make its investment environment better, and its robust implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement would reduce its trade costs, making the country competitive as an investment, he said.
“Those are the key drivers for increasing trade and investment with Viet Nam, and US companies are watching that very closely.”
Ted Osius, the US’s ambassador to Viet Nam, said US businesses want to bring innovative technologies to Viet Nam, and to do this they need to develop effective partnerships with provincial governments and leaders.
US companies need confidence and security with respect to their investments here, he said.
This means a level playing field, especially in terms of property rights, and rules of competitions that are clear and well informed, he said.
“US companies also need a platform of modern services and infrastructure which allow them to connect their global trade networks,” he said.
Jonathan Moreno, chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in Viet Nam – HCM City, said a lot of US companies do not come to Viet Nam because they worry about transparency, predictability, and infrastructure.
So building a system of trade that is modern, predictable, and transparent where US companies do not have to worry about corruption is needed, he said.
The supporting industry supply chain is not developed here yet, he said
Agriculture, technology and healthcare (medical devices) are among the sectors with great business opportunities now, he added.
Cao Duc Phat, member of the Central Committee and standing vice chairman of the Central Economic Committee Commission, said Viet Nam would pursue a consistent policy of economic reform and international integration, creating favourable conditions for foreign companies, including those from the US, to do business and invest.
Viet Nam has signed 11 free trade agreements, and so US companies can also take advantage of them when investing in Viet Nam, he said.
Organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the US consulate general and AmCham Vietnam, the seminar – a sideline event of APEC 2017 – attracted about 350 delegates, including government officials, local leaders, and Vietnamese and US business executives. — VNS