Vietnam seeks to capitalise on Clinton visit

Ulhas Joglekar ulhasj at
Sun Nov 26 05:19:03 MST 2000

25 November 2000

Vietnam seeks to capitalise on Clinton visit
HANOI: Vietnam is launching a flurry of business events both here and in
Singapore in a bid to maximise the boost to investor confidence from US
President Bill Clinton's landmark visit, officials said on Friday.
A host of big-name foreign investors already doing business here are to join
Vietnamese officials in promoting the investment opportunities at two
conferences to be held over the next few weeks.
BP, Coca Cola, Ford, Fujitsu, Korea Telecom, Telstra and Unilever are among
80 foreign firms who have confirmed they will take part in the first
conference in Hanoi on December 1, an official in the planning and
investment ministry's foreign projects department said.
The date for a second similar conference in Singapore has yet to be
finalised, the official said.
The trade ministry has meanwhile organised a visit by representatives of 12
big US firms to assess the new opportunities that will be opened up by the
signing of landmark trade agreement between Hanoi and Washington in July.
The deal has yet to be ratified by either side.
The delegation, which arrives here Monday, will visit both Hanoi and Ho Chi
Minh City and attend seminars with Vietnamese businessmen, trade promotion
official Nguyen Viet Hoa told AFP.
Vietnamese officials have been keen to use the blaze of publicity
surrounding Clinton's visit to stem a precipitous decline in foreign direct
investment over the past four years.
New investments stood at just 1.9 billion dollars last year, 53 percent down
on 1998, and continued to fall in the first part of the year.
A flurry of confidence-building events in July, including the signing of the
US trade deal and the launch of a first stock exchange and capital market,
helped to slow the fall and Clinton's visit has further focussed the
attention of US investors.
But analysts say they do not expect foreign investment to return to the
dizzy levels of 1996 any time soon.
Asian subcontracting firms, particularly in the clothing and footwear
sectors, are expected to make new investments here, particularly around Ho
Chi Minh City, to take advantage of the lifting of the punitive US tariffs
currently levied on Vietnamese-made goods.
But bigger US firms are expected to time their entry to the Vietnamese
market strategically in accordance with the time-frame set down by July's
trade agreement.
When it is ratified by both parliaments, the accord gives Vietnam grace
periods of between three and nine years to open up its key services sector.
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