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Dinh Vu

Int'l Cooperation

Last updated: Wednesday, May 23, 2018


Vietnam - Singapore: Comprehensive and Sustainable Cooperation

Posted: Thursday, January 19, 2017

“Singapore is the third largest foreign investor in Vietnam with registered cumulative investments of more than US$38 billion in over 1,600 projects. Bilateral trade has also grown steadily, doubling over the past decade to reach S$21.6 billion in 2015. Singapore is Vietnam’s 6th largest trading partner, while Vietnam is now Singapore’s 11th largest trading partner”, said Ms Catherine Wong, Singapore Ambassador to Vietnam. Thu Ha reports.

How do you assess the cooperation between Vietnam and Singapore 3 years after the signing of the Strategic Partnership in 2013, especially after the visit by President Tran Dai Quang in August 2016 and Singapore’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Vivian Balakrishnan to Vietnam in October 2016?

Singapore and Vietnam share longstanding and multi-faceted ties, with substantive cooperation in many areas. We elevated relations to a Strategic Partnership in 2013. What anchors this strong relationship is the close personal ties that our leaders share which are maintained through exchanges of high-level visits as well as frequent meetings at multilateral fora. We were happy to welcome Vietnam President Tran Dai Quang for his first State Visit to Singapore in August 2016. From Singapore, Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security Teo Chee Hean and Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan visited Vietnam in September and October 2016 respectively. We look forward to sustaining this momentum in 2017, during which many Singapore leaders, including Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, will visit Vietnam to attend APEC-related meetings throughout the year. 

Our bilateral relationship is also underpinned by strong economic ties. Singapore is the third largest foreign investor in Vietnam with registered cumulative investments of more than US$38 billion in over 1,600 projects. Bilateral trade has also grown steadily, doubling over the past decade to reach S$21.6 billion in 2015. Singapore is Vietnam’s 6th largest trading partner, while Vietnam is now Singapore’s 11th largest trading partner.

People-to-people ties have also flourished with greater connectivity, tourism and business links between Singapore and Vietnam. Close to 17,000 Vietnamese officials have participated in training programmes under the Singapore Cooperation Programme. Our tourism flows have also increased steadily with more flights and greater connectivity. There are currently 142 flights between Singapore and Vietnam each week, making it convenient for us to visit each other. There is scope for us to expand the air connectivity even further to facilitate greater business and tourist flows between our countries.

What are your comments about Vietnam’s investment environment? What does Vietnam need to do to improve its investment environment to attract more Singapore investors?

Vietnam continues to enjoy one of the highest economic growth rates in our region. With its young population, vibrant workforce and rising middle class, there remains huge growth potential for the country. In addition to the positive macroeconomic indicators, Vietnam has also taken some steps to reform and liberalise its economy, and has built up a strong network of bilateral and multilateral free trade agreements. Such efforts will improve Vietnam’s business environment, facilitate investments and open up new opportunities for foreign companies, including Singapore companies.

Singapore businesses take a long-term approach when investing in Vietnam. They acknowledge Vietnam’s strong fundamentals which include a positive population demography and the rich endowment of natural resources. We welcome the Vietnamese government’s continued efforts to reform and liberalise the economy, which will allow the Singapore companies in Vietnam to maximise these comparative advantages.

The Vietnam-Singapore Industrial Park (VSIP) just celebrated its 20th anniversary. What is your assessment on the success of VSIPs’ projects in terms of its contributions towards Vietnam’s economic development and bilateral relations?

VSIP is a strong symbol of the close economic ties between our two countries. Today, there are seven VSIPs across the whole of Vietnam that contribute to Vietnam’s economic development, creating more than 150,000 jobs and generating an estimated total investment capital of US$7.8 billion from 23 countries. The success of the VSIPs is very much due to the strong support from the Vietnamese central government, as well as the respective provincial governments.

The 20th anniversary of VSIP in 2016 marks a significant milestone in VSIP’s journey in Vietnam. The VSIPs have evolved over the years to cater to Vietnam’s developmental needs. I am happy to note that a number of MOUs were signed during the 20th anniversary celebrations, which signals VSIP’s continued interest to explore further opportunities in Vietnam.

Aside from VSIPs, Singapore companies are also actively involved various sectors in Vietnam, including real estate, manufacturing (including food processing and electronics components) and services sectors (such as port operations and logistics).

What will the trend of Singapore investors in Vietnam be in the coming time? What are some of the possible steps for advancing the two countries’ strategic partnership?

Looking ahead, Vietnam’s economic outlook remains positive. Manufacturing will continue to be a key sector given the competitive cost of production in Vietnam. Foreign investments in manufacturing will also drive demand for utilities and transportation needs, which are areas that Singapore companies can contribute towards. Consumer sectors such as food and retail form another potential opportunity given the young, large and growing middle income population. Singapore companies which have yet to enter the Vietnamese market are actively considering introducing their brands to Vietnam.

As Vietnam continues to grow and move up the value chain, its industrialisation will shift to higher value-added activities. This will be a potential area where Singapore and Vietnamese companies can collaborate to improve eco-systems in the various sectors from manufacturing and logistics to e-commerce. 

On the occasion of Lunar New Year, what messages would you like to deliver to the Vietnamese enterprises and the Vietnamese people?

On the occasion of Tet, I would like to wish all Vietnamese enterprises and Vietnamese people a happy and prosperous Year of the Rooster. As I have just taken up post in Vietnam as Ambassador, I look forward to celebrating my first Tet in Vietnam and discovering the many traditions and customs for this special holiday with my Vietnamese friends.

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