Doing Business

Vietnam’s Foreign Direct Investment Outlook In the First Quarter of 2023

Trường Lăng

June 7, 2023

Doing Business

Vietnam’s Foreign Direct Investment Outlook In the First Quarter of 2023

Trường Lăng

June 7, 2023

Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) has long been a driving force behind Vietnam’s economic growth. Vietnam, as one of Southeast Asia’s fastest-growing economies, continues to attract significant FDI inflows, with the first quarter of 2023 showing promising trends. This article will examine the most recent FDI data, discuss the opportunities and challenges that foreign investors face in Vietnam, and highlight some recent government measures that may have an impact on FDI inflows.

FDI situation in the first quarter of 2023

The world economy is forecasted to face 2023 with challenges due to the prolonged impact of adverse shocks in 2022. According to the IMF (2022), world economic growth decreased from 3.19 % in 2022 to 2.66% in 2023, mainly due to a slowdown in developed economies while there is no major growth change in emerging and developing economies.

FDI inflows were affected by the global economic downturn. Vietnam is without exception! Accordingly, in the first quarter of 2023, FDI attraction decreased by 38.8% over the same period last year (the Ministry of Planning and Investment – MPI, 2022). However, international financial institutions, foreign business associations, and investors have eyed Vietnam as a safe and attractive investment destination and had confidence in Vietnam’s economic prospects.

The proportion of capital contribution and share purchase by foreign investors increased slightly by 22.3% in 3 months of 2023, compared to the same period last year. Major provinces and cities namely Bac Giang, Dong Nai, Bac Ninh, Ho Chi Minh City, Hai Phong, among others have attracted diverse new investment projects. In particular, 522 new projects were granted investment registration certificates in Q1, 2023, with a total registered capital of over USD 3 billion, an 62.1% increase in the number of projects. 

In addition, the leaders of European businesses – European Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam (EuroCham) identified that Vietnam’s economy has made certain improvements and is showing promising signs in the business environment outlook for 2023. In the first quarter of 2023, manufacturing and processing FDI remained strong, contributing 47.8% of total registered capital. The real estate sector came third with 18.4%, while the remaining capital was distributed among other industries (MPI, 2023).

Singapore led the top 10 nations and territories investing in Vietnam with $3.18 billion, accounting for 41.6% of total FDI. Japan was second with $1.34 billion, accounting for 17.5% of total FDI, followed by South Korea with $1.28 billion, accounting for 16.7% of total FDI.

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FDI Prospects and Trends

Vietnam’s economy is forecast to maintain its robust growth trajectory in 2023, with GDP rising from 6.5% to 7.5%. This, combined with the country’s young, tech-savvy populace and advantageous geographic location, opens up tremendous opportunities for foreign investment.

E-commerce has experienced rapid expansion in recent years. Vietnam is a promising market for e-commerce enterprises, with a population of over 97 million people and a high internet penetration rate (over 98%). Vietnam’s e-commerce sector is predicted to reach $32 billion in 2025, rising at a CAGR of 37% (Google, Temasek, and Bain & Company, 2022).

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E-commerce GMV. Source: Google, Temasek, and Bain & Company, 2022

Another sector that is gaining traction is renewable energy. By 2030, Vietnam aims to generate 10% of its electricity from renewable sources. To that end, the government is enacting different policies to attract FDI into the sector, such as feed-in tariffs and tax breaks. According to the International Energy Agency, Vietnam has the potential to build more than 160 GW of solar and wind power by 2045, making it one of the most appealing renewable energy markets in Southeast Asia.

Government Policy Supporting FDI

The Vietnamese government has been implementing policies to attract and support investment, focusing on infrastructure, technology, and innovation. The government announced the establishment of the National Technology Innovation Fund in 2022, which will provide financial assistance to technology-based start ups and innovative projects. This fund is meant to stimulate the expansion of the startup ecosystem and attract more FDI into the technology sector.

Furthermore, the government has been taking actions to improve the business environment and streamline administrative procedures. Vietnam was placed 65th out of 190 countries in ease of doing business in the World Bank’s Doing Business 2022 report, up two places from the previous year. The government intends to improve the business environment even more by cutting bureaucratic red tape and simplifying company operations.

Challenges Ahead

The on-going worldwide turmoil induced by the COVID-19 epidemic has had an impact on both the Vietnamese and global economies. The epidemic has disrupted supply chains, caused sudden changes in demand, and restrictions on international travel, affecting the movement of people and goods. As a result, international investors may experience market demand and supply chain disruptions, resulting in production delays and increased costs. 

In addition, inflation is another macroeconomic challenge foreign investors in Vietnam may face. According to the General Statistical Office of Vietnam (GSO), the country’s inflation rate in the first quarter of 2023 was 4.47%, which was higher than the same period last year. This inflationary pressure could raise business input costs, reducing profitability. Furthermore, the current surge in oil prices driven by the Ukraine-Russia war may exacerbate inflationary pressures in Vietnam.

The conflict has also raised concerns for foreign investors in Vietnam. The possible effects of the conflict on the global economy, notably on oil prices, could have a ripple effect on Vietnam’s economy, for example, could contribute to greater inflation rates and higher costs for existing firms.

Besides, Vietnam’s infrastructure still has room for improvement, particularly in terms of transportation and energy infrastructure, which could result in increased costs and longer lead times for businesses, particularly those operating in remote areas. 

Notwithstanding these challenges, Vietnam’s economy has remained resilient and attracted foreign investment. To overcome the challenges and promote foreign investment in the country, the Vietnamese  government has established a number of regulations and initiatives. For example, the government has implemented inflation-control measures such as raising interest rates and tightening monetary policy through Directive No. 15/CT-TTg, Decree No. 31/2022/ND-CP, among others. These measures could reduce inflationary pressures and ensure long-term macroeconomic stability.

At the same time, the government has actively promoted digital transformation and innovation to assist firms in adapting to the shifting economic situation. For example, the government has launched the “National Digital Transformation Program through 2025 and orientations towards 2030”, which aims to promote the integration and usage of digital technologies in various sectors of the economy. Thus, by 2025, the digital economy of Vietnam accounts for 20% of GDP, and by 2030, this will increase to 30%. 

Recently, the Prime Minister – Mr. Pham Minh Chinh – has approved Dispatch No. 238/CD-TTg on promoting business, production, investment and import-export in the coming time. In detail, the government agents are fully focusing on supporting businesses in debt liquidation and taxes compliance, access to capital, among others while boosting the implementation of investment projects. 

To summarize…

All in all, Vietnam remains a desirable destination for foreign investment. While there are some micro and macro challenges, international investors can avoid these risks by completing thorough market research and building a sound business strategy that takes the country’s particular opportunities and challenges into account. Meanwhile, the government’s policies and activities resolving macroeconomic challenges and encouraging digital transformation create a favorable climate for international investment in Vietnam.

At Viettonkin Consulting, we are committed to helping foreign investors navigate the complex business landscape in Vietnam. Our team of experts provides a range of services to support investors at every stage of their journey, from market research and entry strategy to legal and financial advisory. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you succeed in Vietnam.

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