Vietnam hub’s hi-tech, urban areas slow to attract foreign investment

Thanh Nien News

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A map of Thu Thiem New Urban Area, being built in Ho Chi Minh City's District 2, hasn't seen any new FDI projects in the first half o this year.
Although Ho Chi Minh City saw an 83.5 percent year-on-year rise in foreign direct investment inflows during the first six months, the city’s hi-tech and new urban areas failed to draw much interest.
According to the latest report from the city Department of Planning and Investment, 162 new FDI projects have been licensed by June 16, and another 49 projects had their capital increased--amounting to a total investment of more than US$900 million, news website Thoi Bao Kinh Te Sai Gon (Saigon Times) reported.
None of the projects will be built in Saigon's Hi-Tech Park, a hub for high-tech businesses in District 9, more than 16 kilometers from the center of town.
The city's new urban areas, Thu Thiem in District 2 (across the Saigon river) and Tay Bac in Cu Chi (30 kilometers northwest of HCMC’s center) also lack new projects.
Most of the new projects are located in or around the city’s industrial areas.
Speaking to the news site Le Bich Loan, deputy chief of Saigon Hi-Tech Park’s management board, confirmed that they have yet to license any FDI project so far this year.
She said the park’s infrastructure has yet to meet investors' demands and the management board is tightening requirements on investors in an effort to attract projects that help develop the local workforce and beef up Vietnam's technological capacity.
In order to obtain new licenses, investors must be world-famous brands which demonstrate a high technological capacity and agree to invest in local research and development facilities, Loan explained.
She expects that the park’s management board will license a few projects in the near future, as a few big investors are currently working toward obtaining licenses for their projects.
Likewise, Trang Bao Son of, deputy chief of the Thu Thiem New Urban Area Management Board, noted that several projects are currently under consideration.
Among the pending projects is a US$2-billion mixed-use complex that will include a  shopping mall, hotel, office, and apartment building. 
The project, once approved, will be jointly developed by the South Korean-owned Lotte and several Japanese companies.
Thoi Bao Kinh Te Sai Gon reported that the project has already been approved by the municipal authorities in principle.
In the meantime, Tay Bac Cu Chi New Urban Area had difficulty attracting FDI projects, because its zoning plan was not approved by the city until recently, the area’s management board said.
The board is now calling for investment, giving priority to infrastructure projects, the news site reported.

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