Vietnam prime minister encourages foreign investment in state companies

By Manh Quan, Thanh Nien News

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 Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung speaks at the Vietnam Global Investment Forum in Hanoi on September 30, 2015. Photo credit: government website
As Vietnamese government is boosting the privatization of state-owned enterprises, capable foreign investors should take part in the process, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung said Wednesday. 
Vietnam has privatized around 90 percent of more than 12,000 state-owned enterprises over the past 20 years, Dung said, adding that in the last four years alone, 350 businesses had their initial public offerings.
He said the trend will continue and foreign investors are encouraged to participate. 
Dung was speaking at the Vietnam Global Investment Forum in Hanoi on Wednesday, where several participants pointed out that the privatization process has been sluggish and the number of shares offered to prospective foreign investors is very small. 
Minister of Planning and Investment Bui Quang Vinh conceded that many state-owned companies have managed to sell only 5 to 10 percent of their stake. Real administrative restructuring efforts can only happen when new investors buy a majority stake.
More improvement
During his speech, Dung said the government will continue to improve the local business environment to attract private investors.
He said although the environment still has "certain shortcomings," the government has been making efforts to improve legal systems and administrative procedures to make it easier to do business here.
In the financial market, the government has recently lifted restrictions on foreign ownership at listed companies, as well as foreign purchases of government and corporate bonds, he said.
"In the time to come, the signing and implementation of new-generation Free Trade Agreements with higher standards such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Vietnam-EU FTA will make the investment and business environment in Vietnam more favorable and competitive in the region," he said.
More than 19,000 foreign-invested projects have been registered with a total capital of around US$270 billion, he noted.
Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung (R) shakes hands with Tony Shale, CEO of Euromoney Institutional Investor PLC in Asia, after delivering his speech at the opening session of the Vietnam Global Investment Forum in Hanoi September 30, 2015. Photo: Reuters/Kham

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