According to the latest statistics, Japan now ranks third among leading foreign investors in Vietnam, but first in terms of disbursed capital with 735 valid projects capitalised at US$7.4 billion. Japanese investors consider Vietnam the fourth attractive investment destination in Asia.
The figures were released at a workshop held in Hanoi on August 8 by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Vietnam-Japan Business Forum. Experts discussed opportunities for business cooperation to bolster economic and trade relations between the two countries.
In his presentation, Nguyen Bao, head of the Asia-Pacific Bureau under the Ministry of Industry and Trade said that Japan supports Vietnam’s renewal and open-door policy as well as its regional and international integration. Meanwhile, Vietnam heightens Japan’s role in maintaining peace and stability in the region and other parts of the world and supports its bid to become a permanent member of the UN Security Council for the 2008-09 period.
Mr Bao noted that both countries completed the feasibility study for the establishment of the Vietnam-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) in April 2006 and ignited the first round of negotiations on the EPA in Tokyo in January 2007, the second in Hanoi in March, the third in Tokyo in June and the fourth in Hoi An town (Central Vietnam) in July.
According to Mr Bao, trade ties between Vietnam and Japan have grown and flourished in recent years, and besides China, Japan has been Vietnam’s leading trade partner. Two-way trade rose from US$4.5 billion in 2000 to more than US$8.5 billion in 2005, and US$9.9 billion in 2006. In the first five months of 2007, bilateral trade hit US$4.2 billion, an increase of 8 percent from a year earlier.
Vietnam’s major exports to Japan include garments, handicrafts, footwear and industrial manufacturing products. Garment exports alone fetched US$627 million in 2006, up 3.9 percent against 2005. In the January-May 2007 period, garment exports hit US$271 million, up 10.7 percent against the corresponding period last year.
Ken Arakawa, chief advisor to the Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO) said Japan is Vietnam’s leading trade and investment partner. He predicted that there would be a strong wave of Japanese investment into Vietnam in such fields as electricity, electronics, high technology, cement and transport following a recent fact-finding tour of a Japanese delegation of businesses that had committed nearly US$1 billion in investment in the Southeast Asian country.