Vietnam's IT market remains attractive to prominent investors such as Japan, Taiwan and Thailand, said Pham Tan Cong, deputy chairman of the Vietnam Software Association (Vinasa).

"Japanese IT firms now consider Vietnamese enterprises reliable partners. Therefore, there will be many opportunities for Vietnamese IT enterprises to develop business activities," he said.

After India and China, Vietnam is Japan's biggest outsourcing software partner.

Tadashi Higashino, deputy president of Japan 's NEC, said his group was looking for Vietnamese partners. Japan's economy is recovering and Vietnam has a skilful labour force that can meet NEC's strict requirements, he said.

NEC is looking to develop cloud computing and wants to join a number of Vietnamese State programmes, such as the e-Government project. NEC has already opened a branch in Vietnam, employing 150 software engineers, Higashino said.

Meanwhile, the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA) has chosen Vietnam to advertise its IT products and brand name.

Tso Wei-Dar, TAITRA's chief representative in Vietnam , said Taiwanese IT firms were attempting to co-operate with Vietnamese retailers, such as Phong Vu, Hoan Long, Microstar and Silicom, to expand the Taiwanese IT products distribution network in Vietnam .

Meanwhile, 16 Thai software companies, including well-known names like Adasoft, AI Soft, Arunawad Dot Com and Comance International, Computer Telephony Asia, Dynamic IT SP and IT Works, arrived in HCM City in mid-August looking for business opportunities.

The Thai Software Export Promotion Association (TSEP) is planning to enhance the profile of Thai products in 2010 by helping its companies find overseas markets, particularly in Vietnam . TSEP said Thai software firms would focus on Hanoi and HCM City. TSEP is looking to do business in Hanoi with the Government, while in HCM City it is targeting private companies, the association said.

Vietnam's information and technology sector hit an annual growth rate of between 20-25 percent in the 2000-2009 period, according to the Ministry of Information and Telecommunications.

The IT industry has averaged a growth rate of two to three times that of the gross domestic products (GDP) in the last few years. The revenue in the hardware sector reached 4.68 billion USD in 2009 – eight times higher than in 2000. Meanwhile, the software sector earned 880 million USD in 2009, 580 million USD more than in 2000, according to the General Statistics Office.

The IT sector has attracted 5.7 billion USD in foreign direct investment in hardware projects for firms such as Samsung, Foxconn, Intel, Canon and Fujitsu.

Meanwhile, market researchers such as AT Kearney and Gartner said Vietnam was one of the most attractive markets for software outsourcing in the world./.