With nine projects licensed last month, Vietnamese firms in the first four months this year invested nearly 1.8 billion USD abroad, according to the Ministry of Planning and Investment's Foreign Investment Agency (FIA).

The agency said that most of the projects were in power, rubber cultivation and telecommunications. The latest licences were granted to the 800 million USD Se San hydro power plant and a 31.7 million USD rubber plantation in Cambodia .

Vietnamese enterprises pumped about 3 billion USD into 25 countries and territories last year, according to statistics from the FIA. Venezuela attracted the largest share of Vietnamese investment with 1.83 billion USD. It was followed by Cambodia with more than 387 million USD, Mozambique with 345 million USD and Laos with 132 million USD.

However, the rate of return on overseas investments has been poor, although the investment volume has risen steadily over the last few years, raising concerns about the efficiency of overseas investment.

FIA Director Do Nhat Hoang said it was necessary to monitor overseas investment to regulate capital outflow as most of the investment capital was from State-owned groups and enterprises.

To better check the efficiency of overseas investment projects, the agency has recently required Vietnamese investors with projects in other countries to submit reports on their business performances.

Reviewing more than 20 years of investment abroad, the ministry said the country had no comprehensive mechanism to oversee overseas investment, which were mostly funded by the Government.

A lack of oversight might lead to inefficient use or even loss of that capital, it said.

Investment abroad has increased, but with a small economy, high trade deficit, an unstable international balance of payments and a low foreign currency reserve, overseas investment activities must be closely checked to regulate cash flows and ensure macro-economic stability. /.