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S Korea plans to continue investing   2009-03-05 - Viet Nam News

The Republic of Korea – a pioneer of export-oriented industrialisation – was among the major investors in Viet Nam last year. Viet Nam News reporter Van Nga discussed the further promotion of bilateral trade with the embassy’s Commercial Affairs Counsellor, Kim Kyung-han.

What is your assessment of bilateral trade between Viet Nam and the Republic of Korea?

The volume of trade between the Republic of Korea and Viet Nam has increased twenty-fold since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1992. It totalled US$9.8 billion in 2008.

We don’t have concrete figures to show the consumption of Korean goods in Viet Nam or Vietnamese goods in Korea. But robust bilateral trade promotes bilateral consumption.

Inter-and intra-industry co-operation has been enlarged and intensified in both quantity and quality. Korean goods have been used as parts, materials or equipment in the production of exports. This has made a significant contribution to the expansion of Viet Nam’s international trade. We expect that our bilateral trade will continue to expand simultaneously with the strengthened co-operation between industries.

Viet Nam’s Planning and Investment Ministry figures show the Republic of Korea among the major investors in Viet Nam last year. What is likely to happen this year?

Korea was ranked first among investors with projects approved in Viet Nam last year and Viet Nam is a favourite destination for Korean investment. With accumulated investment of $15.8 billion in Viet Nam, Korea has created more than 350,000 jobs and contributed 4.3 per cent of the country’s total exports.

The global economic crisis will mean a significant reduction in foreign direct investment this year and Korea will not be immune from this situation. But Korean investors are likely to maintain their confidence in the medium-to-long-term potential of Viet Nam’s economy and continue investment.

The latest survey of 250 of Korean businessmen in Viet Nam shows that 93.4 per cent would continue or enlarge their investment in Viet Nam in 2009–2010.

What should be done to promote more trade?

Export-oriented manufacturing and trade had a vital role in the development of Korea’s economy. But with other countries, exports declined in January and the government is now taking comprehensive measures to boost trade, especially through the upgrading and fostering of technology and the manufacturing process to enhance competitiveness.

We also need to diversify our export market in response to the substantial fall in demand from our major trading partners. Further, the government has given a "Green-Growth Policy" high priority as the new model for growth and development.

My government has embraced a vision of "Low Carbon, Green-Growth" policy to upgrade Korea’s economy and ensure competitiveness. It’s crucial that each country does not introduce measures to protect its domestic industries. This will not benefit those industries but threaten a global depression. As World Trade Organisation members, we should honour the obligations to which we have committed. Governments should not take measures to the contrary.

What are the advantages and difficulties of working in Viet Nam?

Viet Nam location is ideal and it has enormous potential in both human resources and domestic markets. We share many similarities in culture, history and customs.

The commitment of FDI worth up to $64 billion last year shows that Viet Nam deserves the attention of international investors with its ample business opportunities. We, as does the Viet Nam Government, recognise the need to improve infrastructure, education and innovation and to upgrade the administrative system.

Planning and Investment Ministry statistics show Korean enterprises finance services rather than manufacturing. Why?

More than 1,600 Korean companies – or about 20 per cent of all international companies – do business in Viet Nam. They employ more than 350,000 workers or 27 per cent of all Vietnamese employed by foreign companies; 293 Korean projects were approved in 2008. Of these, 175 projects were in manufacturing and construction and 115 in services.

These figures show that Korean investment is spread throughout industry. Government approval of major projects will reinstate Korea as the major investor.

What will both countries have to do in response to the contraction of the global economy and attract investment?

I believe an active Government and the timing of policies will be critical. Governments should renew their vision for the future and fully utilise all of their resources to revitalise economies. Measures taken by governments should address difficulties immediately. The governments should earn trust and win credibility in the market through the provision of a stable, predictable and transparent environment for business community and the compliance with their policies.



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