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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs       11  February 2011

Vietnamese optimistic on foreign investment

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Vietnam's Foreign Investment Agency (FIA) was optimistic about the level of foreign investment in Viet Nam this year, predicting 10 percent growth on last year.

FIA said in the first month, total registered foreign investment reached approximately US$1.2 billion, four times higher than the same period last year.

The bulk of the investment so far has come from the First Solar project in the technology sector. Siemens has recently been granted a major licence which they are hoping to expand on this year.

The largest US-based manufacturer of solar panels, First Solar received a Vietnamese investment permit to build a $1 billion factory in Cu Chi District, HCM City. The total investment capital for the project in the first phase (till 2012) was $300 million.

Vice President of First Solar Tymen de Jong said the construction of the plant to produce thin-film solar modules was expected to start this month to be ready for operation in September next year.

He noted his group chose Vietnam because of the competitive business environment and the government's enthusiastic support.

Economists said it was one of the biggest foreign-invested projects in Viet Nam and would lead the way for more solar panel production projects here as US companies looked offshore to build their factories.

Chairman and general director of Siemens Vietnam Erdal Elver expressed optimism about Siemens' operation in Vietnam.

He said the company was waiting for the adjustment of the new investment licence to increase business operations and production capacity of its factory in the southern province of Binh Duong to keep pace with increasing orders.

The planned expansion would produce more high-technology busbar systems and introduce new product lines in Viet Nam.

Siemens Viet Nam also aims to expand its bulb factory to increase operational efficiency. Herb Cochran, executive director of Amcham in HCM City, forecast more US companies in the high-tech sector would invest in Viet Nam this year.

According to the latest survey of consulting firm Grant Thornton, 65 percent of 200 company leaders said they had a positive outlook about the Vietnamese economy in the next 12 months.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More

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