Southern region lures foreign investment

Southern provinces remain as attractive as ever to foreign investors, drawing in more than 1 billion USD in foreign direct investment (FDI) so far this year.
Southern provinces remain as attractive as ever to foreign investors, drawing in more than 1 billion USD in foreign direct investment (FDI) so far this year.

A major convention and tourism complex and a large resort are just two of the 10 projects already in the pipeline this year for the southern coastal province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau .

The US-based property developer Skybridge Dragon Sea will develop a 902 million USD convention and tourism complex in Vung Tau, while a joint venture between the Republic of Korea 's Daewon Co Ltd and Vietnamese property developer Thu Duc Housing Development Corporation will build a resort in Long Hai Town for 20 million USD.

Ho Van Nien, the provincial People's Committee deputy chairman, says
Ba Ria-Vung Tau has targeted 20 FDI projects with a combined capital of 2 billion USD for 2010.

In 2009, foreign investors poured more money into Ba Ria-Vung Tau than in any other province. Some 6.7 billion USD was pledged for 26 projects that had received licences, and 12 projects are already underway.

In addition to Ba Ria-Vung Tau, foreign investors have found other southern provinces attractive.

According to the Ministry of Planning and Investment's Southern Centre for Foreign Investment, seven of the country's top 10 FDI attractions are localities in the central and southern regions.

They are Quang Nam , Phu Yen, Ninh Thuan, Binh Duong, Dong Nai, HCM City and Ba Ria-Vung Tau.

As of December 15, 2009, the combined registered capital for FDI projects in these localities amounted to 103.6 billion USD, accounting for 58.5 percent of the total registered capital for nearly 11,000 FDI projects still valid across the country.

Housing, hotels, property, manufacturing and construction are the most attractive sectors for foreign investors, according to Nguyen The Hung, deputy director of the Southern Centre for Foreign Investment.

Hung says improved and better coordinated development of infrastructure such as highways, railroads, ports, airports, industrial parks and economic zones helped make the investment environment of the southern region more competitive.

"The southern region's business and investment environment has a good foundation which was built much earlier than that of the northern region."

This foundation can now help the region adapt to the market-oriented economy and better integrate with the global community," Hung adds.

To mobilise more FDI, provincial authorities need to be more aware of the important role of FDI in economic development.

Hung says provincial authorities must pay greater attention to the FDI situation in their localities so that they can give timely and flexible guidance on these issues.

He points to the southern province of Binh Duong , saying it has taken the lead in attracting foreign investment because it was the first locality in the country to initiate the "Red-Carpet Welcome to Investors" policy.

In 2009, Binh Duong licensed 99 FDI projects capitalised at 2.5 billion USD, 2.4 times as high as the FDI target set for last year, according to MPI's figures.

Hung says Binh Duong also has mapped out a roadmap to attract, assess and license investment projects in the province.

The process includes publicising investment opportunities, introducing the province's investment environment, and assessing projects and offering licences.

Managing licensed FDI projects and supporting investors during implementation of FDI projects are also part of the process.

To better attract FDI capital, Hung says the provincial authority should avoid actions that benefit their own localities, and

instead should co-operate with other provinces to have inter-provincial measures that will help better attract FDI into the region./.

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