Foreign investment leverage crucial for Quang Ninh’s goals

October 27, 2022 | 08:00
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The northeastern province of Quang Ninh has been attracting significant foreign direct investment with its efforts to improve the investment climate.

Quang Ninh has a politically and economically strategic position with unique potential and competitive advantages when it comes to attracting foreign direct investment, being the only municipality of Vietnam with both a land and maritime border with China, including three border gates.

In recent years, the province has been well known for its rapid development and its system of economic and social facilities, particularly its transport connections to highways, airports, and sea ports.

Foreign investment leverage crucial for Quang Ninh’s goals
Representatives of Vietnam Investment Q and DEEP C Industrial Zones signed a land reservation contract, Photo: DEEP C

Quang Ninh has 176km of highways (accounting for 16.8 per cent of the country’s total), and the travel time from Hanoi to Halong is only 90 minutes, while it takes only three hours to travel to Mong Cai city.

Quang Ninh Economic Zones Management Authority, since the beginning of the year, has contacted and cooperated with more than 20 different foreign financiers to discuss investments into the province’s industrial zones (IZs) and economic zones (EZs). They have praised the commercial environment of the province, and most have committed to exploring options to conduct more projects here.

During a conference for investment development earlier this year, there was a recorded commitment of more than $1.7 billion of funding into Quang Ninh. Specifically, Stavian Quang Yen Chemical Company has committed to investing in North Tien Phong IZ, to commence its project of polypropylene production, and has pumped in about $1.5 billion; Vietnam Investment Q Ltd. has committed to holding 7.6 hectares of land in North Tien Phong IZ, to develop warehouses and manufacturing factories, with total funding of about $23.9 million.

Bruno Jaspaert, general director of DEEP C Industrial Zones, said, “Like other investors, we are very cautious when picking a target, and Quang Ninh has many advantages as a destination for foreign investors. Businesses can easily access high-quality and well-trained labour resources with skills and experiences. Besides that, Quang Ninh has an abundance of real estate and many inviting policies to support businesses.”

Foreign investment leverage crucial for Quang Ninh’s goals

Positive leverage

Last year, the total foreign direct investment (FDI) registered into all IZs and EZs across the province exceeded $1 billion, a more than two-fold increase compared to 2020. Quang Ninh has awarded certificates for eight foreign-invested projects, with registered funding of over $960 million, while also awarding 17 adjusted certificates for other projects, at a total of around $112 million.

Exemplary projects include Jinko Solar PV Vietnam’s optical cells projects at Song Khoai IZ, with the total investment of over $900 million, among others.

Nguyen Van Nhan, director of Amata Halong, which is the investor of Song Khoai IZ, said that Quang Ninh has had many breakthroughs in terms of planning, with modern, standardised investment in facilities. “This is also the main reason Jinko Solar continuously invests in this IZ,” Nhan said.

During a conference for Japanese investors in Quang Ninh in December 2021, Soichi Inoeue from Marubeni Vietnam Co. Ltd. said, “The attitude of the authority, the transparency and clarity of policies, and the speed of the general process, along with the increasingly standardised facilities, are the magnets that attract investors into Quang Ninh.”

In 2021 alone, foreign-invested enterprises (FIEs) in Quang Ninh spent $423 million improving facilities and technologies. Specifically, there have been several large-scale foreign-led projects in the field of manufacturing and electronic technologies that have begun operation, such as Foxconn’s S-Vietnam factory, and Vina’s Bumjin Electronics factory, among others.

In 2021, revenue from companies and investors in Quang Ninh reached $1.6 billion, total export value reached $1.5 billion, and total import value exceeded $1 billion. The province contributed nearly $30.43 million to the national budget and created 34,000 jobs.

In the first nine months of 2022, the total non-budget investment of Quang Ninh has reached $1.9 billion. FIEs contributed more than $55.21 million to the national budget, or 113 per cent of the 2021 level.

FDI has contributed to the transformation of technologies in Quang Ninh and the development of important economies of the province, such as food processing, coal mining, tungsten manufacturing, rate metal mining, and electricity manufacturing, with modern managerial styles and systems.

Wider funding

Being patient with its target of transforming from a brown to green development model, the province has a clear direction when it comes to FDI attraction, with priorities in efficiency and sustainability, projects using environment-friendly technologies, and sustainable use of land and labour.

In addition, Quang Ninh plans to promote its central IZs of Quang Yen, Van Don, and Mong Cai to be leaders in development momentum. Hence, the province will focus on upscaling investments in these three IZs and give special priority to 16 new IZs planned for 10 out of 13 municipalities.

Nguyen Xuan Ky, Secretary of Quang Ninh Party Committee, said, “The province is now making great efforts to improve its business and investment climate. It always considers the successes of investors in the province as those of the province itself. Quang Ninh has identified its motto as partnership and service to businesses and others. It welcomes all forms of cooperation, ensuring security and safety, and providing the best service and conditions for businesses to invest.”

Cao Tuong Huy, Deputy Secretary of Quang Ninh Party Committee, said, “We have to attract multinational businesses with leading roles in the fields that Quang Ninh has competitive advantages, namely tourism, service, manufacturing, supporting technologies, high-tech fields, smart technologies, marine economy, logistics, ports and port service, and sustainable energy.

At present, Quang Ninh has 153 foreign-invested projects with over $10.33 billion in the total registered investment capital. In the IZs and EZs alone, there are a total of 91 valid projects worth over $4.36 billion, and 62 projects outside IZs and EZs registered with over $5.95 billion.”

Winnie Lam - General secretary, Hong Kong Business Association Vietnam

Foreign investment leverage crucial for Quang Ninh’s goals
Foreign investment leverage crucial for Quang Ninh’s goals

Our members continue to explore beyond the usual destinations in Vietnam, and Quang Ninh is definitely getting its fair share of attention of late. The province is known for its speed of development, completing a modern socioeconomic infrastructure system to ensure connectivity to the rest of the country and beyond.

Quang Ninh has a well-developed seaport system, adjacent to the centre of the largest seaport in the neighbouring city of Haiphong, making it a desirable place for businesses importing raw materials and exporting finished products to China and the rest of the world. It was ranked first in the Provincial Competitiveness Index in Vietnam for five consecutive years from 2017 to 2021.

In addition, Quang Ninh ranked second in regional GDP per capita in 2021, only behind the southern province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau, with around 13 per cent of growth for six continuous years and the projection for 2022 looks just as strong.

Quang Ninh is currently focusing on industrial zone development, with 15 zones and eight more in the pipeline. It is also the only locality with both land and sea borders with China and therefore a strong bridge connecting ASEAN with a market of over one billion people, which is convenient for trade activities and cross-border economic development.

Thomas Rooney - Senior manager, Industrial Real Estate Consulting Services, Savills Hanoi

Foreign investment leverage crucial for Quang Ninh’s goals

Quang Ninh is an ideal destination for a variety of industrial fields. The traffic system allows convenient movement to seaports, new international airports, and the Mong Cai international border gate. This is a strategic location with a lot of potential for development in the next two to three years. On the other hand, the biggest local challenge is labour force competency. Local talent is still limited, and most of the workers come from Hanoi or neighbouring provinces.

There are many domestic and international investors in Quang Ninh. The rental cost is more competitive than in southern industrial zones. The northern market still sees many investors coming from high value-added sectors such as electronics and automobiles. Much of that investment came from Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore.

Chi Vu - Head of Industrial Park Services, Colliers Vietnam

Foreign investment leverage crucial for Quang Ninh’s goals

Quang Ninh has great competitive advantages in attracting overseas investment, such as its geographical position, modern and synchronous infrastructure, potential to develop industrial real estate, and preferential policies for good investors with three economic zones.

However, Quang Ninh can still create momentum for industrial real estate to take off, attracting more high-quality and high-value investment projects.

The first is the issue of labour resources, especially the lack of high-quality labour to meet the standards for industrial production, services, and import and export. Besides this, it is also necessary to pay special attention to policies and investment conditions, as well as issues of waste treatment and emissions, to minimise impacts on the environment and landscapes and ensure sustainable development for this province.

As for the problem of human resource shortages in Quang Ninh, it is necessary to have the cooperation of all parties to increase the quantity and improve the quality of local labour in both expertise and foreign languages to meet these requirements and enterprise standards.

Bruno Jaspaert - Member of EuroCham Advisory Committee; general director of DEEP C Industrial Zones

Foreign investment leverage crucial for Quang Ninh’s goals

The EuroCham-hosted Green Economy Forum and Exhibition in November will be an opportunity to present the province as an alternative investment location. This will be a great opportunity to leverage the green expertise of European companies in developing the province.

Moreover, it may be necessary to completely restructure the current province’s marketing strategy to reposition it as the most sustainable investment location in Vietnam in the long term. This would help attract high-quality investments to the province.

Furthermore, I also believe that it would be interesting to analyse which foreign direct investment companies are currently based in Guangdong and experiencing difficulties with trade barriers. To remain competitive, all of these companies must seek alternative locations, and Quang Ninh is well-positioned to market itself this way. In addition to this, there is also a critical need to have a plan in place. Quang Ninh is unique that it hired McKinsey & Company over 10 years ago to prepare a comprehensive development plan for the province’s future.

It would also be beneficial for Quang Ninh authorities to reach out and make use of their existing contacts with European companies to serve as their ambassadors for promoting the province to potential investors. In the Quang Yen Economic Zone, the Belgian-owned DEEP C industrial zone cluster could be instrumental in attracting a considerable number of European investors to the region.

Lastly, it may be a worthwhile idea for Quang Ninh to contact the various European embassies and invite their economic delegations to visit the province to expand its economic development.

To raise its profile in the future as an attractive destination for investment, the province should also take part in the wide variety of trade missions that authorised agencies are organising.

Nguyen Van Nhan - General director, Amata City Halong JSC

Foreign investment leverage crucial for Quang Ninh’s goals

Quang Ninh has presented its viewpoint by prioritising attracting investment in the industrial lines of tourism, manufacturing, high-tech and smart industries, and marine economics, among others.

Furthermore, the province intends to promote green economy industries such as clean energy, renewable energy, and gas and wind power. In addition, the province has determined that foreign-invested projects with a negative environmental impact, outdated technology, and excessive energy utility will be limited.

It is evident that Quang Ninh has been promoting investment attraction in high-tech and low-waste technology industries. It would be a huge advantage if the province establishes an open investment environment and attracts high-quality human resources. On the other hand, to follow up on investment promotion activities effectively, it is necessary that the authority issues a list of prioritised and limited industries with more details.

Accordingly, it is essential to issue a set of criteria for effective investment projects so that infrastructure investors can approach customers and partners and increase the effectiveness of investment attraction activities. Moreover, it is essential that Quang Ninh issues specific incentive policies with additional conditions for receiving incentives. These attached conditions will benefit the investment promotion activities of Quang Ninh as well as infrastructure investors alike.

Nobuaki Hoshino - General director, JGC Vietnam

Foreign investment leverage crucial for Quang Ninh’s goals

Quang Ninh is a strategic economic location in the northeast of Vietnam. The province is one of the four major tourism centres of Vietnam.

The province is an attractive location for foreign investors, and it has a high urbanisation rate and well-developed transport and logistics infrastructure.

Before 2020, there were not many foreign-invested projects from Japan in Quang Ninh. But from 2021, several Japanese investors developed in the industrial zone infrastructure and energy sector, starting projects in the province. That shows the potential for Japanese investors in Quang Ninh in the future.

We believe this is due to good development plans, fast infrastructure investment, and public administrative reform over the years. In parallel, it is the consequence of many investment promotions and cooperation agreements of the province.

To attract investors, we think that Quang Ninh should focus on maintaining policies to attract investment, strengthen infrastructure, and maximise support mechanisms, as well as have an appropriate human resource development plan.

Do Gia Long - Deputy general director, Redsunland Investment JSC

Foreign investment leverage crucial for Quang Ninh’s goals

About a fifth of our foreign customers want to study investment opportunities in this northern province. We see the province has many advantages in attracting foreign investment. The first is one of the country’s most modern transport systems.

Quang Ninh is the first locality in Vietnam to build a highway by itself and now has a highway running through Hanoi and Haiphong to its Mong Cai international border gate. The province is also completing the seaport-industrial park complexes. Quang Ninh is the first province to establish a centralised public administration centre at provincial and district levels. Our partners are satisfied with the authorities’ support during the administrative procedures for business licences.

The province’s strength in attracting investment comes from the development smart industrial zones and economic zones, especially industrial, urban, and service complexes, such as Viet Hung and Dong Mai.

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By Thanh Son

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