HÀ NỘI — Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc expressed his hope that Thai businesses would make the most of co-operation and investment opportunities in Việt Nam, especially in the context of Việt Nam promoting mergers and acquisitions along with the equitisation of State-owned enterprises (SOEs).
He made the remarks while addressing the “Việt Nam – Thailand Economic Co-operation Forum” held in Bangkok on Friday. PM Phúc was attending the event as part of his three-day visit to Thailand from August 17-19 at the invitation of Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.
The forum, hosted by the Thai Business Association in Việt Nam, Thailand’s Kasikornbank (KBank) in co-operation with the Ministry of Planning and Investment of Việt Nam and the Vietnamese Embassy in Thailand, featured some 500 firms from both Thailand and Việt Nam.
Phúc said Việt Nam was stepping up merger and acquisition (M&A) activities in combination with equitisation of State enterprises in transport, infrastructure, food, agriculture, telecommunication, trade, services, tourism and construction.
The Vietnamese Government leader invited Thai businesses to become shareholders of Việt Nam’s State-owned groups and corporations.
According to the PM, since the two countries established a strategic partnership in 2013, co-operation between Việt Nam and Thailand has flourished, with bilateral trade turnover increasing from US$5.78 billion in 2009 to $12.5 billion in 2016.
Thailand now has 470 foreign direct investment (FDI) projects worth more than $8 billion in Việt Nam.
Vietnamese tourists to Thailand hit 830,000 while nearly 270,000 Thais visited Việt Nam.
According to Phúc, Việt Nam has a stable macro economy and has consistently recorded growth of about 6 per cent over the past 30 years.
It is home to about 23,000 FDI projects with a total investment of over $325 billion and has signed 12 free trade agreements and is negotiating another four deals to link its economy with 55 nations, including those from the G7 and G20.
The Vietnamese Government is intensifying efforts to reform institutions and legal framework while promoting public-private partnerships in infrastructure development and enticing foreign investors with flexible capital contributions and favourable mechanisms.
The country encourages startups and connects the country’s startup ecosystem with the region and the globe as well as creating the best conditions for foreign companies to invest in local startups.
PM Phúc affirmed that the Vietnamese Government would support foreign investors in the country in the spirit of win-win co-operation, adding that his government would develop infrastructure, train human resources and improve the business environment to fuel development.
At the forum, PM Phúc and Thai Deputy Prime Minister Prajin Juntong witnessed the signing of co-operation agreements between the two countries in power, hi-tech agriculture, goods distribution, sales of farm produce and construction.
The two leaders also witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Thailand’s Siam Cement Group and the Việt Nam National Oil and Gas Group on investment into Long Sơn Petrochemicals (LSP) Complex worth VNĐ122.5 trillion ($5.4 billion) in the southern province of Bà Rịa – Vũng Tàu.
Located some 100km from HCM City, LSP is the first petrochemical complex in Việt Nam. The project aims to develop a one million-tonne ethylene cracker with flexible gas and naphtha feed, creating an olefin capacity of up to 1.6 million tonnes per year.
After the forum, the PM met with leading Thai enterprises.
At the meeting, Phúc said the Vietnamese economy was worth more than $220 billion and the country is striving to become an ASEAN 4 level economy by 2020. Việt Nam is also in a golden population period, with 60 per cent of people in working age.
Thai business representatives thanked the Vietnamese government for creating favourable conditions for investors from Thailand and the ASEAN member states to join in SOEs equitisation.
They pledged to keep expanding business operations in Việt Nam in the fields of retail, food, farm produce manufacturing and processing, energy, tourism and transport.
Thai companies said they were also learning about Việt Nam’s tourist attractions and wanted to link up with Vietnamese airlines to increase tourist arrivals in the two countries.
Meeting Chairman of the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand Kornrasit Pakchotanon, PM Phúc asked for accelerating the construction of a thermal power plant in the central province of Quảng Trị.
Pakchotanon pledged to ensure environmental protection and use advanced technology in construction.
Meeting CEO of the Central Group Tos Chirathivat, Phúc hailed the firm as one of the largest retailers in the region, which is performing well in Việt Nam. He asked the group to bring more Vietnamese farm produce to Thai supermarkets.
Chirathivat said his company wanted to work with Vietnamese partners to do business in hotels, tourism and retail, adding that the Central Group is ready to sell Vietnamese fruits in Thai supermarkets.
During a reception for Chairman of the Board of Directors and CEO of KBank Banthoon Lamsam, the PM said the Vietnamese government wants KBank to continue partnering with the State Bank of Việt Nam, ministries and agencies to share experience in settling bad debts and help firms overcome difficulties.
Lamsam said KBank planned to launch a financial support model for Vietnamese businesses, part of efforts to help the Vietnamese government achieve its goal of having one million firms by 2020.
Talking with an executive from Siam City Cement Public Company Limited (SCCC), the PM suggested SCCC continue investing in industrial projects and construction materials using modern technology, as well as transfer technology to Vietnamese partners. — VNS