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Vietnam: Scores of billion dollar US deals in the pipeline

Vietnam Investment Review

Scores of billion dollar US deals in the pipeline

US investors are weighing up $8 billion in energy and infrastructure projects in Vietnam.

US Ambassador to Vietnam Michael Marine, who has finished his three-year term and will leave Vietnam this week, has forecasted that there could soon be a significant increase in the amount of US investment in Vietnam.

“My prediction concerning the surge of investment is predicated on Vietnam fulfilling its commitments to the WTO and its Bilateral Trade Agreement (BTA) [with the US]. Reform must continue if the country wants to become competitive,” Marine said in a press conference last week.

Marine, while declined to reveal any specific details, said that a number of leading US firms were in discussion with their Vietnamese counterparts on projects in power production, bauxite and alumina exploitation and port construction.

“Many of the projects under consideration are quite complex and there is a lot of work to be done before either sides can give a definitive ‘yes’,” he said.

Trade between the two countries has flourished since Vietnam signed the BTA and particularly since the US Congress approved permanent normal trade relations with Vietnam. However, US investment in Vietnam remains below its potential.

As of July this year, American businesses had committed $2.42 billion in direct investment in Vietnam, one-third of which has been disbursed. The US ranks eighth in foreign investment in Vietnam, following South Korea in first with $10.33 billion and Singapore in second with $9.6 billion.

In late June, Vietnam and the US signed the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), a pact that aims to create a platform where both countries can improve bilateral trade and the investment environment.

Marine said the first formal TIFA working session would be launched before the end of the year, with possible topics including intellectual property rights protection, labour rights and the improvement of working conditions.

US Commerce Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez also plans to lead a delegation to Vietnam in early November to explore trade and investment opportunities.

“Secretary Gutierrez is one of two leading trade officials in the US and one of his primary objectives is to expand the market for US goods and services. That is why he is coming here,” Marine said.

US service suppliers now enjoy improved market access in Vietnam in many sectors including telecommunications, financial services, distribution and energy services.

By Lien Huong

 source: VIR