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Filipino firms eye stronger investment in Vietnam

Three Filipino investors committed to expanding their investments in Vietnam at the HCMC-Manila Investment and Trade Promotion Seminar held in Manila on Tuesday.

The event was organized by the HCMC government in coordination with the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI).

The Vietnamese delegation led by HCMC vice chairman Le Manh Ha consists of 50 people, who are leaders of the city agencies and large companies from the city.

At the seminar, the Philippines-based fast food restaurant chain Jollibee said it would expand its Vietnam operations. Jollibee got a certificate from Vietnamese authorities to raise investment capital from US$5 million to US$20 million to expand the fast-food restaurant network of the company.

Similarly, pharmaceutical firm United Laboratories, shortly known as United Lab, said it would also invest more in Vietnam.

United Lab, via a Singapore-based subsidiary named United International Holding, has developed a US$20-million factory in HCMC. Another drug plant is under construction at the Vietnam-Singapore Industrial Park 2 (VSIP 2) in Binh Duong Province, with total capital of US$40 million.

At the event on Tuesday, United Lab and HPD Company of the Philippines signed a deal to develop a clinic specializing in diagnosis and medical tests in HCMC’s District 10.

Benedicto Caleda, general director of United International Pharma, told the Daily that the two companies would form a joint venture to invest in the clinic and promptly put it into use next year in order to address the rising demand for healthcare services.

Meanwhile, Gerry C. Ablaza Jr., CEO of Manila Water Company, specializing in clean water and wastewater management, informed the company had been operating in Vietnam since 2008. The Filipino firm has invested in two water plants in HCMC, making it the biggest investor in Vietnam’s water industry.

The company is seeking investment opportunities in other localities with an aim to reduce the volume of water loss and supply clean water to local residents.

Speaking at the seminar, Mike Valera, chairman of PCCI, called for Filipino businesses to boost investment in Vietnam in a bid to tap the market as well as explore the sectors that Vietnam wants to lure investment into.

A representative of the Filipino side proposed Vietnamese enterprises should invest in the Philippines to make use of the market with a population some 95 million and stable economic growth despite the global economic downturn. The Philippines is awaiting Vietnamese investors in agro-aqua-forestry, shipbuilding, housing development, tourism and green projects.

HCMC vice chairman Le Manh Ha said the potential for economic development cooperation in the two countries is huge, but bilateral investment and trade ties remain limited.

In addition to the seminar, around 25 HCMC-based companies had a direct meeting with some 100 Filipino enterprises to promote Vietnamese exports to the Philippines.

The Vietnamese firms said the Filipino partners had shown interest in their products, signaling chances for cooperation. The HCMC businesses are active in production and trading of farm products, paper, stationery products, bags, rubber, handicraft, and furnishing items.

(Sai Gon Times)

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