European FDI in Vietnam: A Historical Review

Trường Lăng

November 28, 2023


European FDI in Vietnam: A Historical Review

Trường Lăng

November 28, 2023

The rapid growth of European Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Vietnam over the years has marked a compelling story of economic cooperation and opportunity. This article delves into the history, trends, and the dynamic landscape of European FDI in Vietnam. We will explore the three distinctive periods of European investment in Vietnam, examining the pivotal role played by key agreements and partnerships in shaping this significant economic relationship.

European FDI in Vietnam: 1988-2010

Early European Investment (1988-2000s)

The initiation of Vietnam’s Doi Moi (Innovation) policy in the late 1980s opened the doors to foreign investors, with the first European capital trickling into the country. However, in the first years from 1988 to 1994, the registered capital of European countries in Vietnam remained rather modest. As reported by the Foreign Investment Agency (FIA), a substantial surge was witnessed in 1995, with European investments experiencing remarkable growth. Investments from Europe skyrocketed from a modest $15 million in 1988 to an impressive $707 million in 1995. This period saw the Netherlands and France taking the lead with the highest number of investment projects, primarily focusing on the processing and manufacturing industry. Notably, in 1999, direct investment capital from the UK saw a remarkable increase, spiking from 0.99% in 1995-1997 to 8.43% in 1998-1999, further solidifying the EU’s foothold in the Vietnamese market.

Growth and Challenges (2000s-2010)

The 2000s witnessed a transformative phase in European FDI in Vietnam. The country’s accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2007 further heightened its appeal to European investors. As per the FIA’s records, during the early 2000s, from 2000 to 2005, Dutch FDI saw substantial growth, increasing its share to 20% of total direct investment capital. Simultaneously, investment from the UK continued its upward trajectory. Collectively, the European Union (EU) became a prominent investor in Vietnam, contributing approximately 38% of the total registered FDI capital.

However, there were notable fluctuations in European FDI. From 2002 to 2004, the European FDI share dropped significantly from over 40% of total registered FDI in Vietnam in the 1998-1999 period to just 16.8% in the 2002-2004 period.

The year 2005 marked a resurgence for EU FDI capital flows into Vietnam, with investments totaling $1.7 billion. European investors showed a particular focus on the manufacturing and processing industry, accounting for 32% of their investments with 573 projects and $6.29 billion in capital. Manufacture and distribution of electricity came next with 19 projects and $3.5 billion in capital, constituting 17.8% of the EU’s investments. Real estate activities also gained traction during this period.

In the face of the worldwide economic downturn in 2008, which left its mark on European investments, Vietnam’s registered FDI managed to surge by $2.3 billion. Although the subsequent year witnessed a notable decline, 2010 marked a remarkable resurgence, with European FDI reaching $2.6 billion. These fluctuating patterns during the early 2000s highlight the remarkable resilience and flexibility displayed by European investors in Vietnam’s dynamic market.

European Investment in Vietnam: 2011-2019 (PCA Vietnam – EU)

The Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA)

The Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) brought forth a multitude of opportunities for Vietnam, enhancing its access to the lucrative European Union (EU) market. The agreement paved the way for closer consultation, more effective utilization of Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) incentives, and provided Vietnam with unique treatment. The EU’s endorsement of the PCA marked the inception of a comprehensive, substantive, and fruitful collaborative partnership between Vietnam and the EU.

Expanding Trade and Investment (2011-2019)

Based on research conducted by the Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences (VASS), during the period spanning 2011 to 2019, bilateral trade between Vietnam and the EU experienced remarkable growth, surging from 24.4 billion USD in 2011 to an impressive 56.44 billion USD in 2019, reflecting an increase of 2.3 times. By the end of December 2019, the EU had initiated a total of 2,375 projects in Vietnam, representing an increase of 182 projects compared to 2018. These investments originated from 27 out of 28 EU member states and amassed a combined registered investment capital of $25.49 billion. This accounted for 7.70% of the projects in Vietnam and constituted 7.03% of the nation’s overall registered investment capital.

As indicated by VASS, data on the capital’s source highlights the Netherlands as the primary contributor, boasting 344 projects and a substantial investment of 10.05 billion USD. This accounts for a significant share of 39.43% of the total EU investment capital in Vietnam. Following closely was the UK, with 380 projects and an investment of 3.72 billion USD, making up 14.48% of the total. France secured the third position with 563 projects and an investment of 3.60 billion USD, contributing 14.13% to the EU’s total investments in Vietnam.

EU Capital Flows in Vietnam
Expanding EU Investment during the period spanning 2011 to 2019

These investments extended across a wide spectrum of industries, spanning 18 out of 21 sectors. The processing and manufacturing industry was at the forefront, absorbing 36.3% of the total investment capital. Notably, it included subsectors such as coke and refined petroleum products (11%), textiles (6.94%), electronics (6.4%), food products (5.6%), and motor vehicles (5.2%). Additionally, the EU demonstrated interest in other fields like manufacture and distribution of electricity and gas (20.7%), real estate (11%), and information and communication (6.6%), underscoring the diversity and significance of EU investment in Vietnam during this period.

European Capital Flows in Vietnam: 2020-2022 (EVFTA & EVIPA)

The EVFTA and EVIPA’s Impact on European FDI

The European Union (EU)-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) and the EU-Vietnam Investment Protection Agreement (EVIPA) have emerged as pivotal drivers of European Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Vietnam. Since they took effect in August 2020, these groundbreaking accords have not only reshaped the business landscape but also fortified the economic bonds between the EU and Vietnam.

The EVFTA and EVIPA's Impact on European FDI in Vietnam
EVFTA and EVIPA have emerged as pivotal drivers of European FDI in Vietnam. Source: VNA

One of the most significant outcomes of the EVFTA has been the removal of approximately 99% of tariffs on Vietnamese exports to the EU. This historic trade pact has fueled heightened commerce between the two parties and granted European companies a competitive edge in accessing Vietnam’s thriving consumer market and robust supply chains. These advantageous trade provisions have not only stimulated exports but have also catalyzed a surge in European investments within Vietnam, diversifying their scope from high-tech industries to encompass service sectors, clean energy, supporting industries, food processing, and high-tech agriculture.

On the other hand, the EVIPA has equipped European investors with essential safeguards and legal assurances while operating in Vietnam. This agreement establishes a comprehensive framework for safeguarding investments and expeditiously resolving investment disputes. These provisions have instilled a heightened level of confidence among European investors in Vietnam’s business environment, fostering an environment of trust and reliability.

Recent Trends and Opportunities (2020-2022)

Per statistics provided by the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI), the year 2020 witnessed European Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Vietnam reaching a total registered capital of $1.38 billion USD, representing a marginal decrease of 8.6% compared to 2019. Although experiencing a slight dip, it still accounted for a noteworthy 4.8% of the total FDI capital influx into Vietnam during the year.

The year 2021 saw a reversal in this trend, with the total FDI capital attracted surging to $1.41 billion USD, an impressive growth rate of 2.15%. As of the end of 2021, the European Union (EU) solidified its position as Vietnam’s 6th largest investment partner, ranking just behind prominent players like Korea, Japan, Singapore, Taiwan-China, and Hong Kong-China. The cumulative registered capital from the EU reached $22.47 billion USD, corresponding to 5.51% of Vietnam’s total FDI capital.

By August 2022, the EU had made substantial investments in Vietnam, with a total of 2384 projects and a registered capital of $27.6 billion USD. This sum accounted for 6.42% of the overall registered capital in Vietnam, affirming the EU’s growing presence and engagement in the Vietnamese business landscape.

When analyzing the source of capital, we observe the participation of 25 out of 27 EU member countries, each contributing to 2274 FDI projects in Vietnam in 2021. Notably, the Netherlands stands at the forefront with a total registered capital of $10.47 billion USD, constituting 46.6% of the EU’s investment in Vietnam. Following closely are France with $3.61 billion USD and Germany with $2.29 billion USD.

EU Capital Flows in Vietnam in
By August 2022, the EU had made substantial investments in Vietnam.

In terms of the investment landscape, European capital flows have permeated a multitude of economic sectors, spanning 18 out of 21 sectors. While the manufacturing and processing industry retains a significant share, other industries including manufacture and distribution of electricity and gas, real estate, information and communication have all become focal points. There’s also a notable shift towards service industries such as telecommunications, finance, office rental, and retail. Furthermore, the focus has expanded into supporting industries, food products, agriculture, high-tech, and pharmaceuticals. This diversification underscores the versatility of EU investments, contributing to Vietnam’s development across various sectors.

Final Thoughts

Throughout the historical progression of European FDI in Vietnam, the impact of EU capital flows has been significant, shaping the trajectory of foreign investment in Vietnam. From the early stages to the landmark EVFTA and EVIPA agreements, the evolution of European investment has been instrumental in Vietnam’s economic growth. As the landscape continues to evolve, staying informed about the intricacies of EU capital flows becomes crucial. Partnering with Viettonkin offers tailored expertise, enabling seamless navigation of the dynamic Vietnamese market. Discover how EU FDI can thrive with Viettonkin‘s dedicated support and comprehensive resources, ensuring a successful investment journey in Vietnam.

Related posts


FDI in Bac Giang: Growth and Impact

Bac Giang’s economic transformation has been nothing short of remarkable, and at the heart of this evolution lies the compelling story of Foreign Direct Investment ...
Read more

Hai Phong’s FDI Landscape: A Comprehensive View

Hai Phong, situated on the northeastern coast of Vietnam, is currently experiencing a significant influx of foreign direct investment (FDI). This bustling port city has ...
Read more

FDI in Ba Ria Vung Tau: Unveiling Opportunities

Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) has been a game-changer for Ba Ria Vung Tau, the coastal province in Vietnam. This region has attracted significant foreign capital ...
Read more

FDI’s Impact on Dong Nai’s Growth

Nestled in the Southeast region of Vietnam, Dong Nai has emerged as a prime destination for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). With its strategic location and ...
Read more

Download our Latest Ebook about Real Estate and Property!

Real estate holds a pivotal position in the development of a country, not only via the spillover impacts on other economic sectors such as construction, manufacturing, tourism, finance and banking etc. but also affecting the social dynamic by mobilizing the residency and infrastructure system. Foreign direct investment in real estate (RFDI) in Vietnam has a long running history and is unique in that it is largely dominated by the private sector compared to other industries which usually still have a rather large Government involvement. International capital has consistently been selecting real estate as the destination of choice, given that RDI has always been in the top 2 and 3 for volume inflow over the last 10 years, even throughout extremely turbulent periods such as COVID-19, per the General Statistics Office of Vietnam’s (GSO) data. Find out more in this ebook edition.

Tải cuốn ebook mới nhất về nền kinh tế số Việt Nam!

The digital economy of Vietnam has been fueled and accelerated by the global digital trends and the pandemic Covid-19. The movement of digital transformation is underway in every corner of Vietnamese life, strongly influencing the way people do things. Digital economy is the future of the Vietnam economy. Realizing the potential of the digital economy, the Vietnam government has issued policies, guidelines and created legal frameworks to support and further enhance this economy. In this ebook edition, the digital economy is looked at from different angles. Perspectives from the key elements comprising Vietnam digital economy are examined and discovered.

Our Happy Clients