The southern province of Dong Nai has always been the most attractive destination for foreign investors in recent years, drawing an average of over 1 billion USD a year even in the face of global economic crisis.

In an interview given to the Vietnam Business Forum, Director of the provincial Department of Planning and Investment Bo Ngoc Thu, said the province selectively licenses investment projects, with priority given to those using advanced, environmentally-friendly technologies, manufacturing industrial parts, providing services and investing in infrastructure.

*Could you please tell us about foreign direct investment (FDI) attraction results of the province? What are the factors that make this success?

In the past years, although Vietnam saw decline in FDI attraction because of global economic downturn, Dong Nai province still managed to achieve good and stable results. FDI projects have had progress in quality. Most new projects focus on high-tech technologies and support industries which are in line with the province’s investment direction.

In 2012, the province attracted 1.2 billion USD of FDI capital, ranking fourth in the country, over 33.4 percent higher than the yearly plan. Among 53 new investment projects licensed in the year, 24 projects registered to invest in supporting industries (with 520 millionUSD) and three projects were engaged in high technology (14.6 millionUSD). Foreign investors disbursed 927 millionUSD, exceeding the annual target by 27.5 percent.

In 2013, FDI capital reached 1.64 billion USD, up 36 percent year on year and 82.4 percent higher than the 2013 plan. Among 82 new FDI projects are one hospital project, two high-tech projects and 26 supporting industry projects. Foreign investors disbursed 1 billion USD in the year, 11 percent higher than the full-year plan.

In the first quarter of 2014, Dong Nai ranked third nationwide in FDI attraction with 439.8 million USD, up 34 percent year on year and equal to 55 percent of the full-year target. Seven out of 15 projects licensed registered to invest in supporting industries and the rest was environment-friendly industrial projects. FDI disbursement reached 250 million USD in the quarter, equal to 25 percent of the yearly target.

As of March 31, 2014, the province had attracted 1,398 FDI projects with a total investment capital of 24.5 billion USD. For the time being, 1,091 projects are in force, with a total investment capital of 20.444 billion USD. Up to 97.2 percent of projects are in operation without any problems, only 0.02 percent of projects were slow to deploy, 0.03 percent of projects were suspended owing to financial difficulties, and 318 projects totalling 4.369 billion USD had their investment certificates revoked.

Dong Nai is always the most interesting destination for foreign investors because its industrial parks have complete infrastructure and smooth transport systems. Specially, the provincial government particularly focuses on administrative reform, and administrative procedures are processed in accordance to single-window and one-stop source mechanism where service quality is getting better.

On the other hand, the province is persistent with the working principle “government accompanies businesses" and investors are supported from the time they first come to the province to the time they put their projects into operations. The provincial leaders are ready to listen to investors’ feedback to provide solutions to their problems.

Besides, Dong Nai province has effectively carried out investment promotion and investors have been thus informed clearly of local situations before they make investment decisions. In addition, the success of operational FDI enterprises is a very convincing proof to new ones.

*According to economic experts, Dong Nai province’s ability to draw a lot of FDI capital proves its efforts to change the thinking of investment attraction. So, what are the changes in thinking?

The investment attraction results are accrued from many factors in combination. Apart from general solutions for a better investment environment, the changes in investment attraction orientations and the changes in investment promotion are very important.

In the past years, the province has promoted investment in some potential countries and signed contracts with foreign agencies to promote investment in their countries. Importantly, existing successful investors in Dong Nai are the most effective channel.

*In 2014, the province hopes to draw 700-900 million USD of FDI capital, including both fresh and added capital. Why did Dong Nai province set a lower target for 2014 than in 2013?

Dong Nai province targets to attract 700 - 900 million USD FDI capital for 2014, lower level than in 2013, because the province advocated selective licensing, with priorities given to projects using advanced, environmentally friendly technologies, manufacturing industrial parts, providing services and investing in infrastructure. Supporting industry projects often have small-scale and require small capital.

In 2013, the province attracted 1.6 billion USD FDI capital, 48.3 percent of which was added capital from existing projects. In 2014, some projects have announced investment expansion but they have yet to release the official figures.

*To facilitate FDI enterprises to invest in the southern key economic zone, what will the province do in 2014 and beyond?

In the coming time, Dong Nai province will mobilise all resources to develop technical infrastructure to meet social and economic development requirements, ensure water and electricity supplies, transportation and communication services; and encourage environmentally-friendly, energy-saving technologies in industrial production. Besides, the province will actively encourage supporting industry projects to serve backbone industries like mechanical manufacturing, electrics - electronics, organic food processing and relocate labour-intensive projects to rural areas.

In addition to supporting investors with information about policies and priority fields, Dong Nai province will continue to review regulatory documents to eradicate overlapping or unsuitable regulations. Meanwhile, the province will step up investment promotion activities to attract new foreign investors.-VNA