The southern province of Binh Duong has acted as a magnet for both Vietnamese and foreign investors, helping drive future growth. Feature by the Vietnam Investment Review.

* New administration hub

The local authorities inaugurated a new integrated administration centre in Binh Duong New City on February 20, marking a milestone in the province’s development and providing fresh opportunities for investors.

Located in the Binh Duong New City project, the new hub includes 20-storey twin towers and a helipad.

Work on the centre started in November 2010 and the towers now house the province’s Party, Government and public agencies.

The new Becamex IDC-constructed centre cost more than 1.4 trillion VND (67.54 million USD), and was designed by Singapore’s infrastructure development and management services provider CPG, with French group Apave as project supervisor and manager.

* For stronger future growth

Deputy Chairman of the Binh Duong provincial People’s Committee Tran Van Nam said the new administration hub was a symbol of the province’s development, and marked the efforts of the local authorities to provide fast, transparent and modern administration.

Only an hour’s drive from Ho Chi Minh City, the Binh Duong New City project is home to the hub and will be the focus for a central government-managed Binh Duong City by 2020. Set for completion by that year, the project will house 125,000 residents and provide work for 400,000 people.

Part of the new city is the 1,000-hectare Tokyu Binh Duong Garden City, which is being developed with an investment of 1.2 billion USD by Becamex Tokyu, a 35-65 percent joint venture between Becamex IDC and Japanese town developer Tokyu Corp.

“By 2020, the Binh Duong New City project will become Binh Duong City’s core district to further foster the whole province’s sustainable development,” Nam said, adding that the province was working on plans to build a railway line with funding from the Japanese government to link the new city with Ho Chi Minh City’s first metro rail route Ben Thanh-Suoi Tien, which is currently under construction.

Also on February 20, local authorities introduced a raft of key projects for this year, including developing an express bus service to connect the new city with neighbouring areas in the province and Ho Chi Minh City.

Another project is Sora Gardens, which will consist of a residential, service and shopping complex in the Tokyu Binh Duong Garden township including three quarters - Gate City, Core City and Gardens City. The concept design architect is Tokyu Architects and Engineers Inc., the architect is Australian firm PTW, and France’s Apave is the tender consultant. Sora Gardens would include up to eight tower blocks with 1,500 residences, together with commercial facilities.

Other projects include a new Binh Duong Television centre, construction of the Binh Duong Development Fund Office, opening of Japanese retailer Aeon’s 62,000-square metre shopping mall and building new major roads including a road linking Binh Duong New City with Thu Dau Mot City, construction of Tan Van Logistic Centre and Port Complex, finishing An Son Port Services Complex, and building a 1,500-bed general hospital. Aeon is due to open the 95-million-USD Binh Duong Canary mall in October 2014 and will be its second shopping centre in Vietnam after Aeon Celadon Tan Phu in Ho Chi Minh City.

A major project is to turn Ben Cat district into Ben Cat municipality and Bau Bang district, to transform Tan Uyen district into Tan Uyen municipality and North Tan Uyen district. The project also includes construction of the 300-hectare Bau Bang Industrial Park (IP) for garment and textile companies, and support industries.

* Industrial force

Nam said the Bau Bang IP was tasked with finding new opportunities as Vietnam prepared to sign the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement. In its development strategy, the province has attached great importance to industrial development, and from being an agricultural province 15 years ago, Binh Duong has transformed itself into an industrial force.

As part of efforts to lure more investors, Binh Duong has completed infrastructure in 26 of the province’s 28 IPs, developed human resources and enhanced its service quality by simplifying administrative procedures and promoting transparency, said Mai Hung Dung, director of the Binh Duong Provincial Department of Planning and Investment. The local IPs include popular Vietnam-Singapore Industrial Parks I and II, Dong An, and Song Than.

The province recorded its GDP growth of 12.8 percent last year and is targeting 13 percent growth for 2014. It is predicted the industry sector to grow 16 percent, trade and services 20 percent, and agriculture 4 percent this year, up on last year’s results of 8.7 percent, 19.6 percent and 1.8 percent, respectively.

Binh Duong’s efforts to attract foreign direct investment (FDI) have been rewarded, with the province having this year already attracted 715.7 million USD in FDI, equal to almost three quarters of its 1 billion USD year target by February 20, said Dung. Among the new inflows, 189.8 million USD was from 20 newly licensed projects, and 525.9 million USD was added to 19 already operational projects.

He added the performance showed investors had faith in Binh Duong’s investment environment and that the province was eager to support investors as part of its efforts to continually improve its business climate.-VNA