Vietnam's growth to open up new business opportunities: Iswaran

SINGAPORE - Vietnam's economic priorities and growth story will open up new opportunities for Singapore businesses, said Mr S Iswaran, Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry).

There continues to be "great potential" in the manufacturing, consumer services and urban solutions sectors, in particular, for cooperation between companies from the two countries, he added.

Mr Iswaran was speaking at the Singapore-Vietnam Business Forum at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel on Monday, held in conjunction with Vietnam President Tran Dai Quang's first official state visit to Singapore.

He noted that the business forum was taking place at a time when Vietnam has become "one of the most attractive emerging economies in Asia", citing the country's sound economic fundamentals and political stability.

"Vietnam's economy has been performing well and forecast to be on a strong growth trajectory."

With Vietnam emerging as a choice manufacturing base in Asia, businesses can tap on the country's competitive advantage in this aspect, and offer supporting services like automation and logistics services to multinational corporations that are establishing manufacturing operations there, noted Mr Iswaran.

Vietnam's maturing consumer services sector also means Singapore's food service and lifestyle brands can offer innovative products and services to the market, thus expanding the options and customised customer experiences available.

He added that Vietnam's industrialisation and urbanisation continues to offer Singapore companies opportunities in urban solutions.

"As Vietnam urbanises, Singapore's track record in urban planning and city management will be increasingly relevant to Vietnam's needs for urban solutions. New opportunities will also arise as Vietnam moves up the value chain, and its industrialisation extends to higher-value add activities," Mr Iswaran said.

Bilateral trade between Singapore and Vietnam has doubled over the past decade to $21.6 billion last year, according to figures from IE Singapore. Singapore's investments in Vietnam amounted to US$38.1 billion as at April this year, making it the latter's third-largest investor and its top Asean investor.

Yesterday's forum also saw the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) and the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry ink an agreement to further trade and economic relations between the two countries.

The memorandum of understanding is aimed at facilitating trade and investment and mutual co-operation among the member companies, as well as promoting the exchange of economic and trade missions between the two countries.

tsjwoo@sph.com.sg