Hai Phong was one of the first localities to welcome Japanese firms seeking business opportunities after Viet Nam initiated Doi moi (reforms). Its achievements in the past three decades are partly thanks to Japanese investors, noted Le Van Thanh, secretary of the municipal Party Committee.
Japan is Viet Nam’s fourth biggest trade partner and its largest official development assistance (ODA) provider, Thanh added.
Currently, 486 foreign direct investment projects from 36 countries worth around US$14 billion are underway in the city. These include 130 Japanese projects, which have a combined capital of $4.14 billion. Japan ranks first in the number of projects and second in investment capital in Hai Phong.
The country has also provided significant ODA funds for key projects in Hai Phong and has helped the city develop waste treatment plants and transport infrastructure, Thanh said.
At the forum, Thanh also promoted Hai Phong as a coastal, tourist city with its magnificent landscape, hundreds of islands, including Cat Ba, a UNESCO world biosphere reserve, and beaches such as Do Son.
Jun Yanagi, vice-ambassador of Japan in Viet Nam, said 2016 had been a successful year for tourism in both countries. Last year, Japan welcomed 230,000 Vietnamese visitors, while Viet Nam welcomed 470,000 Japanese visitors.
Japan now plans to establish an office of Japan National Tourism Organisation in Viet Nam, the 16th of its kind abroad, to promote Japan’s image to Việt Nam, especially Hai Phong.
Japanese investment and trade promotion agencies will also work to further boost cooperation between the two countries in general, and Japan and Hai Phong City in particular, Yanagi said.
In 2016, Hai Phong City posted an economic growth of 11 per cent, which is 1.7 times higher than the national average. Its port handled more than 80 million tonnes of goods, a year-on-year rise of 17 per cent.
Around $3 billion worth of foreign investment poured into Hai Phong, making it the top foreign investment destination in Viet Nam, he said. Among the Japanese-invested projects in the city is the Nomura Industrial Zone (IZ), a $140 million project located on 153 hectares of land, all of which is now occupied.
A representative from Dinh Vu Industrial Zone, an infrastructure firm, said the city had welcomed 55 investors, which included huge international groups as well as local companies. The project to expand the current IZ and establish Deep C complex had been taken up to attract more investors, especially Japanese firms.
At the forum, Japanese entrepreneurs talked about how Hai Phong can benefit from more partnerships with them, especially in the industry and tourism sectors, and create employment opportunities in Japan for Vietnamese people.
Hai Phong and Japan signed three memorandums of understanding (MoU) on cultural exchanges and tourism promotion. The city also inked a MoU on flower cultivation with Greenwin Company and another on developing logistics and transportation systems with Fukuyama Transporting Co Ltd.