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ASEANAFFAIRS recently talked with Mr. Nguyen Thanh Hung, Counsellor of Commerce, Vietnam Embassy, Thailand, on issues covering investment opportunities in Vietnam and the trade ties between Vietnam and Thailand.

Q: What are the main opportunities for investors in Vietnam?

In terms of investment, Thailand ranks 11th in the list of foreign countries and territories investing in Vietnam with 150 valid projects and the total registered capital of $1.5 billion. Particularly, since Vietnam joined the World Trade Organisation on 11th Nov. 2006 and launched new investment law there have been many foreign big investment projects coming to Vietnam, generally speaking. There are many reasons why foreign investment coming to Vietnam more than before. One of the main reasons is the opportunity for exporting their products, after manufacturing, to the world market with low import duty and less NTB measures as benefit of Vietnam joining WTO.

Q: The Vietnamese government is making a lot of effort to improve the quality of its labour market. Would you please outline the major areas in which this is taking place?

Getting along with integration into the world economy, Vietnam government has been making a lot of effort to improve the quality of its labour market by changing the industrial pattern, reconstructing the national economy, improving salary and developing export labour to other countries, etc.

Q: Vietnam and Thailand have a long history together. Would you please outline the major areas of cooperation and friendship between the two countries?

Vietnam and Thailand has diplomatic relation for 30 years. Along with the 30 years, economic and trade relations have been developing dramatically. Especially, since the First Joint Cabinet Retreat held in Danang (Vietnam) and Nakhon Phanom (Thailand) in February, 2004. This is illustrated in the strongly developed annual bilateral trade turnover. The bilateral trade turnover increased from $1.2 billion in 2002 to $1.6 billion in 2003. In 2004, the figure was $2.3 billion and it was $3.2 billion in 2005, increase of 40 percent against 2004. Especially, in 2006 it reached at $4.25 billion, increase of 32.8 percent compare with that in 2005. In the first 5 months of 2007, the trade turnover reached $1.88 billion, showing an increase of 22.9 percent, in which Vietnam exports totaled $427 million, an increase of 0.95 percent. It imported
$1.47 billion, up 29 percent against the same period of 2006. In terms of tourism, in the first 5 months of 2007, tourist arrivals increased 38 percent over 2006. Cooperation in other areas such as investment, science, technology, cultural, tourism, energy, transportation, IT, etc. has also been promoted. (for example, rice export tendering, exploring the friendship Bridge from Mukdahan – Savanlakhet – Quang Tri etc.)

Q: In which sectors can we expect to see Vietnamese exports to Thailand starting to grow?

Major Vietnamese exports to Thailand include seafood, coal, crude oil, computers and PC parts, peanuts, cashew nut, plastic products, coffee, bicycles and spare parts,
electric cables, jewelry, foot wears, textile and garments, hand bags, vegetables and fruits etc.

The product
structures of the
two countries are
similar in many

Q: How can greater cooperation contribute to productivity and the investment climate between Vietnam and Thailand?

Enjoying dynamism, high growth and openness to the outside world, the economies of Vietnam and Thailand are based on foreign trade (Thai export value accounts for 70 percent of its GDP while Vietnam’s is 60 percent). All of these offer important foundations for the two countries to develop trade ties. The product structures of the two countries are similar in many ways. Thailand produces agricultural products, textile and garments, interior furniture and plastic products. These are also the strong points of Vietnam. So this presents a base for the two countries to cooperate in production and exports to the world market for mutual benefit.

Q: How can greater cooperation and friendship be foster between Vietnam and Thailand?

Vietnam and Thailand are neighboring countries whose people have numerous similarities in culture and a way of life. The two countries have signed agreements in many different fields aiming to promote bilateral trade, investment and economic relations etc. The cooperation in the framework of Asean, APEC, ACMECS, WTO etc. is encouraging cooperation between Vietnam and Thailand as well. To foster cooperation and friendship between Vietnam and Thailand, the two countries should expand cooperation in agro-processing, tourism and international cooperation instead of competition.

Q: Recently, Vietnam signed new agreements with the USA and has also had a lot of new investment from Korean companies. In the future, will trade with Asean or outside Asean be more important for Vietnam?

Vietnam as well as Thailand that also need to develop national economy, in which the investment and trade play a very important role in this area. Being one member of
Asean, Vietnam’s trade development with Asean is also the target of Asean agreement. And the trade relation with foreign countries is very important for any country
including Vietnam.

Q: What are the main issues you face in encouraging Vietnamese investors to come to Thailand?

To encourage Vietnam’s investment to foreign countries, generally speaking and to Thailand in particular is one of strong policies of Vietnam. To answer your question is that the investors will consider Thailand’s policy in a particular sector whether it is attractable or not.

Q: How do you foresee greater integration taking place with Asean?

Asean has a long history. For some recent years, Asean has been developing more cooperation among Asean and Asean with outsiders. Vietnam and Thailand will also have benefited from this cooperation as well.

Economic Data
Population (2006) - 84.11 million
Exchange Rate (as of October 30, 2007) - 16,080 Dong = 1US dollar
GDP Per Capita (2006) - US$ 723
Real GDP growth in 2006
(% change year-on-year) 8.2%
Consumer Price Index
(% change year-on-year) 7.0%
Current Account Balance (2006)
- US$726 million
Foreign Direct Investment (2006) - US$ 10.2 billion
Unemployment rate (2006)
- Urban areas only 4.4%


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