SIAM Cement Group (SCG) yesterday confirmed it will join with state enterprise PetroVietnam in a US$5.4 billion petrochemical project, just as the Vietnamese prime minister was inviting Thai investors to be strategic partners in his country’s liberalisation of the economy.
In his keynote speech at the Vietnam-Thailand Economic Cooperation Forum, Nguyen Xuan Phuc said yesterday that the Vietnamese government welcomed Thai investment in many sectors, including energy, petrochemicals, food and infrastructure.
Vietnam is reforming its state-owned enterprises, selling part of their equities to private companies, he said.
Thai businesses are the 10th largest investors in the country.
He said the two countries aimed to increase bilateral trade from $13 billion (Bt431 billion) last year to $20 billion in 2020. Over the past five years, Vietnam’s gross domestic product driven by foreign direct investment and exports expanded about 6 per cent annually.
Foreign investors - especially Japanese, American and European - still planned to expand their own investment in the country, he added.
Roongrote Rangsiyopash, president and chief executive of SCG, said his company had the previous day signed an agreement with Vietnam Oil and Gas Group (PetroVietnam) for a petrochemical investment project worth US$5.4 billion.
“It’s so far the largest investment between a Thai company and a Vietnam state enterprise,” said Roongrote.
The two sides earlier made a joint investment by setting up the Long Son Petrochemicals Company to produce chemical products, with SCG holding 71 per cent to Petro Vietnam’s 29 per cent. The factory is under construction and commercial operation is expected by the first half of 2022, said Roongrote.
Kalin Sarasin, chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, said many options were open to Thai investors wishing to invest in Vietnam’s state enterprises, such as making them joint venture projects or being strategic partners.
Sanan Angubolkul, chairman of the Thailand-Vietnam Business Council, said the two sides could also collaborate in information technology, especially among startups. Many believe that as young people account for 65 per cent of Vietnam’s 91 million population, the domestic market will continue to grow.
Chokedee Kaewsang , deputy secretary general of the Board of Investment of Thailand (BOI) predicted that Vietnam would be a key driver of economic growth in the Asean region in the next 10 years.
The BOI will open its office in Hanoi early next year to facilitate Thai investors doing businesses in Vietnam.
Chokedee also said Vietnam had recently shifted its focus to high-tech industries, clean energy and environmentally friendly business, plus promoting investment in remote areas.
Meanwhile, Tran Tuan Anh, Vietnam’s Minister of Industry and Trade, urged Thai companies to invest in auto parts industries and other supporting industries in order to deepen a development of supply chains in the region.
Eight pairs of businesses yesterday agreed to work together, including two state enterprises - Vietnam Post Corporation and Thailand Post.
Two key areas of cooperation are cross-border mail exchange, in particular heavy and bulky parcels, and the development of new international services to support the growth of e-commerce.