The prime minister is expected to enact a draft resolution this week on tasks and solutions to resolve difficulties for production and business, promoting disbursement of public investment capital, and ensuring social safety in the context of the coronavirus pandemic. Under the resolution, expenditure on overseas business trips and conferences for the remainder of 2020 must be halved. The proposal would apply to ministries and central and local governments, excluding the Ministry of Defence, the Ministry of Public Security, and the Ministry of Health.
It is estimated that this cost reduction will save tens of millions of US dollars for the state each year since ministries and local governments organise hundreds of business trips a year for experts and officials, mostly funded by the state budget.
The prime minister’s new order is a chance for the development of online investment promotion, which has become a trend among ministries and localities, and even businesses.
According to Shirakawa Satoko, a representative from Japanese market of rental service factory provider, Kizuna JV Corporation, Japanese businesses and companies from English-speaking countries are continuing to explore the financing environment in Vietnam in general and Kizuna’s newly-built factories in particular via online methods.
“The current situation has thoroughly changed the working and operating methods of businesses. Numerous investors have plans to visit Kizuna workshops when international flights are reopened,” Satoko said. “Although this method will not fully replace traditional venues due to the specific characteristics of the industrial real estate business, Kizuna will still maintain and upgrade this model as an inevitable trend in the digital transformation era.”
Online investment promotion is not a new concept. Kizuna had already built its own hub, which is an online tool with e-library, e-business matching, and e-planning systems. Furthermore, it is also completing an e-serviced tool to help existing business partners register to use the supporting service and evaluate the service quality of workshops.
This strategy is being widely utilised during the ongoing pandemic, in which the government implemented social distancing and has suspended international flights, thus freezing all direct investment promotion programmes.
According to statistics from investment consultancy IPA Vietnam, at present the traffic on the company’s website is more than four million. In the pandemic period, daily traffic to its website doubled and tripled compared to six months back, with an average of 3,000-3,500 visitors per day.
Nguyen Dinh Nam, founder and CEO of IPA Vietnam, told VIR that the company has received around 25 emails asking for introduction to their products on the company’s website and several additional emails seeking support for their investment projects. Connections between the company and partners have been carried out via email or online meetings on Skype. “As of now, two business teams from Hong Kong and South Korea, as well as 20 others from Southeast Asia and Europe have expressed desire to work with IPA to support their investment projects in Vietnam, one of which is a UK technology group with a plan to develop a data centre, perhaps in Hanoi, in early 2021,” Nam said.
Cities and provinces are also making an effort to create friendly online channels for foreign investors. The northeastern province of Quang Ninh is an example, with its investment promotion agency providing updated information on opportunities and policies on its website in Vietnamese, English, Japanese, and South Korean. Furthermore, it posts videos to introduce the location as well as the business environment to potential investors.
The central province of Phu Yen has been working on these models for a couple of years. Previously in 2018, a large number of investors were present at the assembly room of Phu Yen People’s Committee for a web chat with VIR and readers about the province’s socio-economic development. It marked the initial step in connecting the mass media with Phu Yen’s investment-seeking journey, offering a new direction for the local investment promotion in line with the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Furthermore, a series of industrial park developers including Deep C, Kinh Bac City Development Holding Corporation, and BW Industrial Development JSC as well as agencies in such cities as Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and Can Tho are making efforts to enhance communication links to promote the image of Vietnam around the globe.
Local businesses are also being proactive in arranging capital for new promotion channels. Agencies in cities and provinces will have to allocate part of their budgets for these upgrades. However, it is still much cheaper and more effective compared to organising offline events abroad.
“Every year, agencies in cities and provinces organise hundreds of investment promotion trips overseas with an average expenditure of VND1 billion ($43,478) per trip,” said Phan Huu Thang, former director of the Foreign Investment Agency under the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI), and senior director of GIBC. “They should use the money to invest in online investment promotion programmes and on-spot promotion events. These changes not only save time and expenditures for localities but also improve efficiency.”
Thang added that it is necessary to establish close co-operation between state agencies led by the MPI, as well as other relevant agencies across the country in order to avoid competition and duplication. “Especially, it is urgent to build mechanisms for these activities in order to ensure transparency and avoid staff favouritism and coupling with close relationships to enjoy private benefits,” Thang said.
Last year the MPI, in collaboration with the Korea International Co-operation Agency, held the launching ceremony for a project on the development of the national investment information system (NIIS) for the private sector. The project aims to build data on foreign investment in Vietnam and overseas investment, to serve as the foundation for the formulation of investment policies. Moreover, it will integrate and share data with other national information systems and develop searching tools and provide information for investors and businesses about investment and business in Vietnam.
The project is expected to contribute significantly to improving the investment and business climate, strengthening transparency, as well as attracting more foreign investors to Vietnam.
Vietnam Investment Review