Ties between Singapore and Vietnam are poised to grow even stronger, with the two countries celebrating two decades of a successful joint venture.
In the southern province of Binh Duong yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean and Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Trung Hoa Binh marked 20 years of the Vietnam-Singapore Industrial Park (VSIP) joint venture.
The two parties signed memorandums of understanding to explore two new expansions in Binh Duong and Bac Ninh provinces, potentially adding 1,500ha to the 6,600ha already occupied. The Straits Times understands that new industrial parks are in the pipeline.
Vietnam state-owned enterprise Becamex IDC and a consortium led by Sembcorp Development - part of conglomerate Sembcorp Industries - are behind the VSIP.
The joint venture also unveiled its new corporate logo yesterday which "captures the spirit of partnership and the power of shared aspirations", it said in a statement.
The portfolio of VSIP consists of seven parks across Vietnam, which have created more than 174,000 jobs and drawn US$9 billion (S$12.3 billion) in investments from more than 630 multinational companies.
VSIP co-chairman Nguyen Van Hung, who is also chairman of Becamex IDC, said: "VSIP has been a great success in showcasing Vietnam's sustained economic reform strategy and its abundant market potential, through seven integrated industrial parks across the country.
"The success of Binh Duong has been a key feather in our cap and encourages us to extend this transformation further in Vietnam."
Binh Duong, home to the first two industrial parks, has been transformed from an agricultural area to an industrial powerhouse. By late last year, industries and services accounted for 97 per cent of total economic output, making it one of the top-performing provinces.
The top investor companies in the parks are from Japan and Taiwan, and a significant number are international joint ventures with Vietnamese firms. About 11 per cent of the companies are from Singapore.
In a separate interview with The Straits Times last week, Mr Kelvin Teo, Sembcorp Development's chief executive and VSIP co-chairman, said that while the parks were designed to attract international investors, they also cater for small and medium-sized enterprises. "We know that SMEs don't want to buy big plots of land, so we have built factories for them to lease... We always cater for SMEs through factories and smaller shophouses."
Singapore firm Ramatex, a textile and apparel manufacturer, said it was persuaded to invest in Vietnam last year after eight years of exploratory work there. "We chose VSIP because of our familiarity with the company - it is our first investment there and knowing someone there makes it easier," said the firm's general director, Mr Chris Ma.