Vietnam’s economy has experienced one of the region’s quickest growth rates since its introduction of market-oriented economic reforms in 1986. The country has advanced, becoming the region’s top investment destination after more than 30 years of global integration and prosperity. Various investment fields expanding in magnitude, paired with diversified business types, are all explicit indicators of Vietnam’s burgeoning outbound investment activities.
Overview of FDI Outflows in Vietnam
Vietnam’s total outward investment value
Accumulated as of December 20, 2022, Vietnam had 1,611 valid aboard investment projects with total registered investment capital of above $21.75 billion USD. Specifically, there are 139 projects of state-owned enterprises with a total investment of nearly 11.6 billion USD, accounting for 53.5% of the country’s total investment capital, as stated by the Ministry of Planning and Investment.
In 2022, the country’s total newly-registered and additional investment raised up to roughly $534 million. Of which, 26 projects registered for capital adjustment of $107.4 million and 109 projects were granted new investment registration certificates, with total registered capital of 426.6 million USD, representing an increase of 78.7% in projects and up 4.3% from last year.
Investment categorized by market fields
There’s an emerging trend in recent years of Vietnamese investors investing in manufacturing as well as high-tech industries rather than pouring millions of capital into agriculture, forestry, and mining as they used to in the past.
As of December 2022, Vietnamese investors have invested in 14 sectors abroad. With more than $251.9 million in investment, the processing and manufacturing sector took the lead with 15 newly-registered projects, accounting for 55.2% of the total capital. Next came the real estate sector with 2 new projects and 3 times capital adjustments worth $76.8 million, equivalent to nearly 14.4%. Followed by wholesale and retail, mining sector, agriculture, forestry, fisheries, and so forth.
Investment sorted by countries
A few years ago, the majority of Vietnamese companies made expenditures in underdeveloped countries in Africa or in neighboring markets, including Laos, Cambodia, and Myanmar. However, things have changed drastically since enterprises are constantly venturing out for greater opportunities in riskier but more established economies such as the USA, Germany, and the Netherlands.
Up to this point, 29 countries and territories have recorded Vietnam’s investment, with Singapore being the biggest destination with 21 newly-registered and 3 capital-adjusted projects worth $79.5 million, accounting for 14.9% of the total investment capital. Laos ranks second with approximately $70.5 million, representing 13.2% of total investment capital. Followed by Australia, the US, Germany, and the Netherlands respectively.
Vietnam’s giant outbound investment projects
Vietnamese enterprises’ overseas investment has been on the rise with many big projects. Many of these projects on technology, rubber, and coffee production have reaped great success and sent back profits to the homeland, helping with the balance of international payments and increasing the country’s foreign exchange reserves.
After 15 years of operation in the global market, the juggernaut military telecom Viettel today claims to have more than 35 million users across 11 different territories and is ranked among the top 30 telecom companies worldwide by subscriber counts.
Viettel also tries its hand in much more distant countries such as Mozambique and Tanzania as well as challenging markets such as Peru or Myanmar. Being praised as the “miracle of Africa”, Movitel (Viettel’s brand in Mozambique) achieved the highest growth over the course of seven years of operation, reaching close to 4.5 million subscribers.
On 21st September 2022, Nutifood Nutrition Food Joint Stock Company announced that its member company, Nutifood Sweden (Sweden) has successfully owned up to 51% of the shareholdings of Cawells – a well-established supplement firm in the EU. The company’s representative believed that this strategic move will allow the company to anticipate new trends and get ahead of other competitors in the food supplement industry in the Asian market.
The unit of Vietnam’s biggest conglomerate Vingroup has made the US market one of its primary targets – an ambitious endeavor that will pit it against established companies like GM, Ford, and Tesla as well as EV newcomers Rivian and Fisker.
The corporation announced it plans to make a total investment of $4 billion in its first U.S. factory complex. The automaker Vinfast has signed a preliminary deal to initially invest $2 billion to build a factory in North Carolina to make electric buses, and sport utility vehicles (SUVs) along with batteries for EVs.
Trung Nguyen Legend
In late September 2022, the giant Vietnamese coffee maker successfully brought the diversity of the coffee world to the vibrant cosmopolitan city of Shanghai, which is the headquarters office of Trung Nguyen Legend China and the location of its first overseas flagship store.
Since entering the Chinese market, Trung Nguyen Legend has always been committed to sharing Vietnamese coffee culture while pursuing professional quality. Its ace product, G7 instant coffee, is well-known among coffee lovers as well, with 800 million cups sold in China since the beginning of 2022.
Challenges ahead the road
Regardless of the positive figures, the investment journey of Vietnamese businesses in the global market can be grueling at times as the government report also reveals that there were up to 44 projects incurring losses, with the total cumulative loss volume reaching $1.33 billion in 2021, up 42% compared to 2020.
Up to this point, the Vietnamese government hasn’t fully developed a clear mechanism to promote or incentivize outward investment, nor does it have specific regulations on domestic investors from investing abroad. Volatilities in economic, political, social, and security aspects at investment locations; risky investment fields such as oil and gas exploration, and mineral extraction; changing and less transparent policies and mechanisms in the host countries; limited capacity with forecast and planning of local investors, among others are the reasons which have dampened the investment’s efficiency.
A boost to Vietnamese Outbound investment
To improve outbound investment efficiency, the Vietnamese government has proposed the National Assembly to facilitate state-level diplomatic relations between Vietnam and the countries which are the recipients of investment from Vietnam’s state-owned businesses as well as businesses holding state investment. In addition to that, the country is working to propose the recipient countries adopt more incentives along with consistent and transparent policies, in order to create a stable and healthy environment for Vietnamese investors jumping into their market.
Many experts believe that, in the near future, as the private enterprise grows stronger and the policy system improves, a new wave of outbound investment from Vietnam is just a matter of time.
Vietnam anticipates new waves of outbound investment
Prof. Dr. Nguyen Mai – Chairman of the Association of Foreign Investment Enterprises (VAFIE) said that outward investment of Vietnamese enterprises is changing positively with many enormous projects. In the future, the value of overseas investment of Vietnamese enterprises may exceed 1 billion USD/year from about 700 million USD/year as of present. Many technologies, rubber, and coffee projects have gained great success, repatriating great profits, contributing to the balance of international payments, and increasing foreign exchange reserves.
Economist Dr. Tran Du Lich also added that in the context of foreign firms trying to acquire Vietnamese brands, the fact that Vietnamese enterprises are consistently making moves to acquire foreign companies in order to expand their business on a global scale can be seen as a major turning point in the development process of the country’s economy. Therefore, many experts and policymakers now call for Vietnam to step up outbound investments to maximize advantages from outside resources and contribute to bolstering the country’s position and status in the regional and international arena.
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