Remarkable improvements in the investment and business environment have drawn more foreign and local hi-tech investors to Ho Chi Minh City, the biggest economic hub in Vietnam.

In late 2010, the city welcomed the First Solar Technology Group from the US to join its hi-tech industry, which has to date seen the presence of Intel (US), Sanyo and Nidec (Japan), and Robert Bosch (Germany), which are among the world’s leading names in the field.

The HCM City authorities licensed First Solar to build a plant to manufacture solar cells at the Dong Nam industrial park in the city’s outlying district of Cu Chi.

The 1 billion USD-plus plant, which was estimated to be the largest FDI project in the city’s hi-tech sector in 2010, is expected to become operational in April, 2012. It would help add one billion USD to HCM City’s export value per year thereafter.

Experts say First Solar’s investment in Ho Chi Minh City signals a trend of moving plants to foreign countries by US solar cell producers.

Herb Cochran, Executive Director of the American Chamber of Commerce in HCM City, predicted that Vietnam in general and HCM City in particular would welcome more hi-tech companies from the US in the future.

More local hi-tech investors have pumped investment into the city, whose population is growing beyond 7 million.

Early this year, HPT Informatics Technology Service company received a licence for setting up a 14. 8 million USD IT research and application centre at Ho Chi Minh City Hi-tech Park, which houses FPT and Vinagame, the big names in the country’s IT industry.

HPT also plans to establish an IT training centre to provide consultancy and practice services for businesses.

Thu Duc Electronics company (VTD) plans to build an environmentally friendly LED factory, at a cost of 400 billion VND, at the HCM City Hi-tech Park in the fourth quarter of this year.

Realising that hi-tech industry can help its economy grow in a modern and sustainable manner, HCM City will implement a host of key programmes on IT, communications, and biotechnology and bring into use more hi-tech parks./.