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Sub-regional Cooperation - Vietnam and its neighbours

Updated On: Aug 07, 2007

Vietnam’s economic reforms are taking off.  

In the past two years, Vietnam's economic growth rate reached a record figure of over 8 percent. Most foreign investment is coming from Singapore, the Republic of KoreaTaiwan and Japan. Its equity market has been among the world's best performers, rising more than 100% in 2006 and 2007 may top that as well, after the composite index hit its all-time high of 1170.67 points on 12 March 2007. ASEAN has invested a great deal in Vietnamese tourism, consisting of 31% of the total $6 billion invested in the industry, against the 182 projects worth more than $4.3 billion invested in the form of FDI in the sector over the past 10 years.

Bangkok Bank Public Co Ltd, for example, is organising a study trip to Vietnam covering Ha Noi, Da Nang and HCM City along with more than 50 companies from Thailand in August 2007. The Bangkok Bank Public Co Ltd’s branch manager, Tharabodee Serng-Adichatwit in Vietnam said the bank’s head office is the consultant to Thailand’s Board of Investment, the Thai Government Agency (similar to Viet Nam’s Ministry of Planning and Investment) to assist Thai business-people investing in Viet Nam.

The Vietnamese government plans to invest close to $25 billion in infrastructure development over the next five years. Vietnam is certainly benefiting from the wave of foreign investments into the country. To cope with surging demand, Vietnam is relying on foreign investors to develop its housing projects and infrastructure. One very close and suitable candidate is the Thai property entrepreneurs who can use their expertise and knowledge to do this.

"Over the next three years alone, existing government master plans for infrastructural improvements total some $25 billion. From now until 2010, the government and multilateral donors estimate a need for $3.9 billion in port investments, $5.2 billion for power generation, $1.8 billion for water supplies and sanitation, and $14 billion in road and rail projects. Looking forward to 2020, the total amount of planned infrastructure projects is close to $140 billion," Dzung Nguyen, head of the business promotion department for Ministry of Planning and Investment for Vietnam said. Not including investments of $8 billion in the new airport and $30 billion in the North-South railways.

But Vietnam is not only receiving. It is also making a contribution to regional growth. Deputy Minister of Transport Ngo Thinh Duc led a delegation to Vientiane for a working session with the Lao Ministry of Transport, Posts and Construction to implement economic, cultural and scientific co-operation agreements between the two governments, as well as their own protocol on transportation co-operation in 2007; and for working out policies to speed up the execution of signed projects on land routes in northern Laos and a railway in central Laos, as well as division of responsibility in air rescue operations. On the table included the negotiation of a memorandum of understanding on the transportation of passengers and goods along the East-West economic corridor and discussed the tri-partite agreement between LaosViet Nam and Thailand on overland travel and amendment of the Laos-Viet Nam Land Transport Agreement.

Other than such bilateral arrangements between Laos and Vietnam, there are also initiatives by other Indochinese states to foster cooperation. The Laotian government has prioritised ecotourism and issued its five-year national ecotourism strategy and action plan for 2005 to 2010 and Laos can learn from Thailand, a country that already offer ecotourism. Chananya Phataraprasit, director of Lisu Lodge in Chiang Mai, which offers tours into hilltribe areas, said success in operating an eco-tourism project depends on the commitment to preserve the cultural diversity of a site. Lisu Lodge works with the Lisu village which has enabled the business to grow slowly from a four-room lodge in 1993 to a small boutique hotel welcoming 7,000 overnight visitors plus 3,000 day visits last year.

At the subregional level, VietnamLaos and Cambodia will issue a joint tourism guidebook to promoting their sights and attraction (30 selected ones for each country in the 40-page book). The three countries will also host an international tourism exhibition to be held in Ho Chi Minh City from 5-7 Oct 2007 with around 140 enterprises displaying their products at the exhibition and this event is expected to draw 120 tourism businesses from 21 countries and territories worldwide, offering vast opportunities for tourism. (6 August 2007)

Sources:

Help thy neighbour and prosper (Bangkok Post, 4 Aug 2007)

Bangkok Bank promotes investment in Viet Nam (Viet Nam News Service, 4 Aug 2007)

Green's the way to go for Laos (Bangkok Post, 4 Aug 2007)

VN, Laos boost co-operation on transport (Viet Nam News Service, 4 Aug 2007)

VietnamVietnam's economy enjoys spectacular growth (Thai News Service English, 6 Aug 2007)

VietnamCambodia, Laos issue tourism guidebook (Thai News Service , 6 Aug 2007)