Japanese companies are more interested in Viet Nam than ever and prefer to invest here rather than anywhere else in the region, their country’s ambassador told reporters in Ha Noi yesterday.
At a press conference on Viet Nam-Japan relations and cooperation, Mr Norio Hattori said that Viet Nam had only been one of many investment destinations in the region two years ago but was now the country of choice for the Japanese.
Mr. Hattori, who has held his current post for four years, credited the heightened perception of Viet Nam on its sustained economic growth and political stability, and the many incentives available to Japanese companies.
Japanese firms don’t want to expand their investments in China any longer, and Thailand, one of Viet Nam’s biggest competitors in this regard, is politically unstable, he added.
Although Japan’s pledged direct investment capital ranked only third among the countries and territories investing in Viet Nam last year, the amount allocated per project was the highest on the list and was up 30 percent on the 2005 figure.
“Japan’s FDI capital will increase more in Viet Nam this year because some very big projects are being conceived,” Hattori said.
He also mentioned that several property developers from Japan were keen to build large hotels and up-market apartment blocks in Ha Noi.
He then announced that the negotiations for the Japan-Vietnam Economic Partnership Agreement would continue in March and the agreement might be signed this year.
Regarding Hoa Lac Hi-tech Park, Hattori pointed out that Japan’s next fiscal year would begin in April 2007 so Japan would wait until then before considering the plans and feasibility studies for the zone. After that, he said, Japan would help to build the park’s infrastructure in 2008.
“Small Japanese IT enterprises are investing there already. However, the available infrastructure can’t meet the requirements of large companies, so construction of better infrastructure is a must,” he said.
Mr. Hattori affirmed that Japan would continue to support Viet Nam technically and financially to build an express railway from north to south.
“A committee for the railway’s construction has been just established. Its Vietnamese members come from the Ministry of Planning and Investment, the Ministry of Transportation, and Vietnam Railways. Japan’s representatives on the committee come from the Japanese Embassy, the Japan International Cooperation Agency, the Japan External Trade Organization, and the Japan Bank for International Cooperation.”
He warned that building a track able to handle trains traveling at 300 kilometers per hour would be difficult, take a long time, and be costly.
He put the cost at around US$100 billion and noted that official development assistance from Japan would not be enough, so other sponsorship would be needed. “Still, Japan hopes to play a major role in the project,” he said.