Addressing the event, held by the Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO), the Vietnamese leader said that the Mekong region, located in the centre of Asia with dynamic development, is rising with its determination, potential and strength.
According to JETRO, in recent years, the GMS region has rapidly changed in both “hard and soft” aspects. It is one of the regions with the fastest growth in the world, with average growth rate of 6 percent in 2017.
The GMS countries have agreed on a vision on the region with sustainable, harmonious, balanced and inclusive growth, PM Phuc said, highlighting the central role of the business community as the source of new ideas and decisive factor for economic development.
He stressed that despite the unstable and complicated world economic situation, Vietnam has still maintained a stable socio-political environment and firm macro-economic foundation. Particularly, Vietnam has an important geopolitical and geo-economic and geo-commercial position in the region and the world, PM Phuc noted.
In the first nine months of 2018, the Vietnamese economy grew nearly 7 percent, ranking in the world’s top group in terms of economic growth, he noted.
The PM said that Vietnam and Japan have signed the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), accelerated the signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and engaged deeply into the global value chains.
Vietnam is a promising destination for multinational groups to diversify, renew and create differences, he said.
With a population of nearly 100 million people and an average age of 31 and the majority are well-trained, Vietnam has about 1.5 million people joining the global middle class each year. The figure is likely to reach 33 million people or 33 percent of the population in 2022.
Currently, 70 percent of mobile subscribers in Vietnam are using 3G and 4G services, and 72 percent of the population own smartphones, with average ownership of 1.7 phones per person, he said, adding that the ratio of online shopping via mobile phones in Vietnam is 53 percent.
According to the PM, in September 2018, Vietnam successfully hosted the World Economic Forum (WEF) on ASEAN 2018 which was themed “ASEAN 4.0: Entrepreneurship and the Fourth Industrial Revolution”. This is the most successful WEF on ASEAN ever been held over the last 27 years, attracting more than 1,000 businesses and many leaders, including of the five GMS countries and Japan.
So far, Vietnam has attracted nearly 26,500 FDI businesses from 127 countries and territories, including many leading Japanese firms like Canon, Fujitsu, Toyota and Honda, with total registered capital of over 330 billion USD.
According to a JETRO report released in February this year, nearly 70 percent of Japanese firms in Vietnam operate profitably, and about 70 percent planned to expand operations. Vietnam expects to have free trade agreements with 55 countries by 2020, including 15 nations in Group 20, he noted.
PM Phuc stressed that Vietnam is working to build a growth-enabling and action-oriented Government that serve people and businesses. By realising the high-standard commitments in new-generation free trade agreements, the investment and business climate in the country is becoming closer to advanced international standards, thus opening up chances to access many major markets around the world.
Vietnam prioritises attracting hi-tech investment into developing transport infrastructure, energy, manufacturing industry, agriculture, finance–banking and high-quality health care, he said, highlighting that: “The Vietnamese Government gives priority to the quality of investment projects instead of quantity.”
Regarding Vietnam-Japan relations, the government leader said their strategic partnership is now at its best with comprehensive and substantive development in all spheres. The year 2018 marks the 45th founding anniversary of diplomatic ties, but in fact, their trading activities date back to the 16th century, he said.
The PM added that Japan was the biggest foreign investors in Vietnam last year with total FDI capital of US$9 billion. There have been nearly 4,000 Japanese projects worth over US$55 billion invested in the Southeast Asian nation so far.
Vietnam’s economic growth prospect promises numerous cooperation and development opportunities for enterprises of the GMS countries and Japan, he said.
PM Phuc affirmed that opinions of Japanese companies have always been respected and solved by the Vietnamese Government in a timely manner.
The implementation of the Vietnam-Japan Joint Initiative, launched in 2003, has helped improve the investment climate in Vietnam and been highly valued by Japanese investors. It is also one of the effective information channels for local authorities to fine-tune laws and policies and help businesses, including Japanese enterprises, take part in the policy making process of the Vietnamese Government, he added.
PM Phuc expressed his belief that with the GMS’s potential and the sound Mekong-Japan relationship, the GMS, including Vietnam, will be a trustworthy destination for investors.