Binh Duong province, at the center of the Southern Key Economic zone and just north of Ho Chi Minh City is fast emerging as a favorite for foreign investors. The province, with its 28 industrial parks spread over 10,000 ha, is second only to Ho Chi Ming City, in terms of FDI attraction. With its renewed focus on high-tech industries, development of new industrial zones, and a gross regional domestic product (GRDP) of 8.5 percent, the region will continue to be a priority for foreign investors.
The province’s GDP grew by 8.5 percent in 2016, higher than the national average of 6.2 percent. The average GDP per capita in the province was US$ 4949.56 (VND108.6million), more than twice the national GDP per capita at US$ 2,215 (VND48.6 million). Currently, industry accounts for 63 percent of the economy, while services and agriculture account for 23.5 percent and 4.3 percent respectively.
The region’s total retail value of commodities and services was more than VND143.31 trillion (US$ 4.41 billion), an increase of 21 percent compared to 2015, while the agro-forestry-fishery production value increased by 4.1 percent in 2016 to VND15.37trillion (US$678 million).
Exports reached US$24.3billion, while import value was recorded at US$20.5billion in 2016.
In the first six months, the province’s total Gross Regional Domestic Product (GRDP), grew by 7.85 percent in comparison to the same period last year. For the first half of the year, export turnover was calculated at over US$ 13 billion, an increase of 16.7 percent over the same period last year, while imports increased by 15.8 percent to US$ 9.8 billion.
According to the Provincial Competitiveness Index 2016, Bing Duong ranks the fourth most competitive province in the country, a staggering jump of 21 places from 2014 rankings. The rankings were led by Da Nang, Quang Ninh, and Dong Thap.
The business community in the region has attributed the jump of 21 places to mainly administrative factors. For example, the percentage of firms facing informal charges related to harassment during administrative procedures dropped significantly from 76 percent in 2014 to 52 percent in 2016, while the percentage of enterprises, not required to make numerous trips to obtain stamps and necessary signatures, increased from 56 percent in 2014 to 70 percent in 2016. There was also a notable increase in the percentage of firms highlighting a positive attitude of provincial government officials towards private business from 36 percent in 2015 to 45 percent last year.
Binh Duong emerged at the top of the infrastructure index in the Provincial Competitiveness Index 2016. Infrastructure surveyed included industrial zones, roads, energy/telecom, and internet connectivity. The region also emerged as the fourth most attractive place for future investors, with Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang, and Hanoi leading the scores.
Foreign direct investment
FDI continues to be a significant source of socio-economic development in the region. As of October 2017, Binh Duong province has over 3,000 FDI projects, worth over US$ 29.5 billion from 60 countries. The province is second only to Ho Chi Minh City in FDI attraction, accounting for 9.4 percent of the total FDI capital into Vietnam.
FDI contribution accounted for 49 percent of the total social investment, 67 percent of the industrial production value, and more than 82 percent of total export turnover. Some of the major global firms in the region include KIA, Samsung, Nike, Unilever, Bosch, P&G, IBM, Hyundai, AkzoNobel, and Intel.
The province has already achieved 140 percent of its annual target of foreign investment, in the first nine months of 2017, at US$ 1.97 billion, an increase of 27 percent compared to same period last year. Out of the total invested capital, US$ 1.165 billion was for 148 new projects, while US$ 765 million was added capital for 87 projects. Almost 90 percent of all projects were set up in the industrial zones. Major sectors include electricity, electronics, mechanical engineering, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and trade.
In total, Taiwan leads the group of foreign investors, with investments worth US$ 5.73 billion in 757 projects, accounting for 20.8 percent of the cumulative FDI. Japan follows closely at US$ 5.2 billion of investment capital in 249 projects, with the Tokyu Binh Duong property project being one of the largest investments at US$ 1.2 billion.
Over the years, emerging economies have recognized the need for better infrastructure to achieve a sustainable growth and attract foreign investors. To move towards an advanced high-income economy, infrastructure is crucial for enhancing connectivity and creating a conducive environment for foreign investors, leading to higher productivity.
Following on similar lines, Binh Duong has consistently invested in its transport infrastructure to increase connectivity with the rest of the country, especially HCM City, the Mekong Delta, the Southeast region and southern Central Highlands. Transport routes include such as Binh Duong Boulevard and Mỹ Phuoc – Tan Vạn, which connects the industrial parks with seaports and airports. The closest international airport and seaport are within a 40 km radius.
There are over 28 industrial parks spread over 10,000 ha with an occupancy rate of 71 percent. In addition, there are also 11 industrial clusters covering 802 ha and an occupancy rate of 55 percent.
As per an approved master plan for industrial park development, the provincial government is planning for an additional 34 industrial parks covering 15,000 ha by 2020.
In the 1990s, Binh Dung province mainly relied on agriculture, which accounted for over 90 percent of the economy. In the last two decades, the province has made a remarkable transformation into an economy with industry and services accounting for 63 percent and 23.5 percent respectively, driven by the growing number of industrial parks and large-scale investments in infrastructure.
With its evolving socio-economic landscape, the provincial government is collaborating with businesses and research institutions to increase value addition in manufacturing, educate and train workers, increase R&D activities, build startup eco-systems, improve transport and ICT infrastructure, enhance living conditions, and attract investments in high-tech manufacturing for a more sustainable development. The government is aiming to develop a Tier 1 city by 2020, aptly named Binh Duong New City.
In 2015, the city collaborated with the Dutch city of Eindhoven for development based on the Triple Helix model of collaboration, which involves a partnership between research institutions, businesses, and the government. This has led to the establishment of a lighting laboratory by Becamex IDC, Eastern International University, and Dutch-based Philips Lighting. Other similar partnerships include Germany’s Bosch and the Vietnamese-German University to develop electronic bikes and between the Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications Group and Thu Dau Mot University for building an ICT lab.
The provincial government has recently announced 20 projects requiring investments, which will be prioritized by the government until 2020. Total investments are between VND 14 trillion (US$616 million) to VND16 trillion (US$704 million).
Transport infrastructure leads the list with 15 projects, while education, training, and vocational training were allocated three projects. In addition, the government has prioritized two healthcare infrastructure projects as well.
Some of the investment opportunities include:
- Thu Dau Mot University, to be built in the build-transfer (BT) or build-own-operate (BOO) form or be fully private at a cost of VND4.06 trillion (US$ 178.6 million);
- A 500-bed orthopedic hospital in Di An town with an investment of VND2 trillion (US$ 88 million), as a BT, BOO or fully private project;
- The Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Development Project between Binh Duong New City and Suoi Tien Railway Station in Ho Chi Minh City. It will run through Thu Dau Mot and Di An and has a total investment of VND1.9 trillion (US$ 83.6 million). This project is expected to increase linkages between Ho Chi Minh City, Binh Duong and Dong Nai provinces;
- Expansion of the Cai Stream in Tan Uyen, in two parts, with the first at a cost of VND3.5 trillion (US$ 154 million) and the second at VND1.1 trillion (US$48.4 million).
The provincial government has increased its focus on high-tech, less-labor intensive and environmentally friendly industries. With the industrial parks under development, the government is devising investor-friendly policies, in the hope of attracting high-tech investments. The government has already improved much of the public administrative procedures related to foreign investments in terms of business establishment and registration procedures and is in the process of reforming them further to ease investor concerns.
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