Japanese SMEs make inroads into Vietnam hinh anh 1A motorised vehicle spare part production line at the Nissin Manufacturing Vietnam Company. (Source: Internet))

A delegation of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) from Japan’s Ehime prefecture will tour Vietnam in early November to scope out the local market and seek investment opportunities in the country. 

The businesses are among Japanese SMEs interested in investing in the Southeast Asian country, especially in the support industry, amidst the Japanese yen’s depreciation.

Yanagawa, a representative of Business Innovation Partners Co., Ltd. which has been backed by the Japanese Government to bring SMEs to Vietnam, said the companies are seeking partners in the production and distribution of cosmetics, tissues and kitchen detergent.

Several are calling for cooperation in sea water desalination, fuels, solar energy and electric equipment, among others, he said.

Masashi Mochizuki, Deputy Director of the Vietnam Export-Import Bank (Eximbank), said the yen’s devaluation has pushed up material prices and labour costs in Japan, weakening SME competitiveness and forcing them to find new markets.

Despite the wave of Japanese SMEs, many groups such as Honda and Suzuki, which have operated in Vietnam for tens of years, are narrowing their investments as a result of the yen’s depreciation and Japan’s aging population.

Statistics show that Japan’s investments in the Southeast Asian nation dropped from 317.7 billion JPY (2.6 million USD) in 2013 to 141.8 billion JPY (1.1 million USD) in 2014.

According to Japanese Vice Consul General to Ho Chi Minh City Yakabe Yoshinori, the locality is currently hosting 787 Japanese firms.

He noted that Vietnam’s present economic growth rate and the pending Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement would facilitate the operation of Japanese businesses, especially the SMEs.

Quach Van Duc, General Director of Tin Nghia Corporation, said the company has partnered with Japan’s Forval Group to build warehouses across 18.3 hectares at the Nhon Trach 3 Industrial Park in the southern province of Dong Nai, creating a basis for the formation of a Japanese SME centre.

With support from the Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam (BIDV) and provincial authorities, the Japanese SME Development JSC was established to manage and operate the centre, he said.

HCM City is also constructing warehouses for lease at industrial parks such as Tan Thuan, Linh Dong, Hiep Phuoc and Dong Nam at a cost of about 600 billion VND (26.4 million USD). The project has received enthusiastic responses from Japanese investors.-VNA