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The ask-and-grant mechanism and US billionaires’ beliefs

VietNamNet Bridge - Many American billionaires have made investments in Vietnam because they believe they can find great opportunities here, though Vietnam is a developing country with a different business culture.
VietNamNet Bridge - Many American billionaires have made investments in Vietnam because they believe they can find great opportunities here, though Vietnam is a developing country with a different business culture.

The Ho Tram project in Ba Ria – Vung Tau province

Having returned from the US, Vietnamese Minister of Finance Dinh Tien Dung told VietNamNet: “I could not imagine that the event would attract so many US businesses. They are really very interested in Vietnam.”

On the occasion of the US Independence Day and the Communist Party Secretary General Nguyen Phu Trong’s visit to the US, Dung led a delegation of businesspeople from 30 of Vietnam’s largest enterprises to the US to call for investments.

Philip A Falcone, President of Harbinger Fund, said that the fund began making investment in 2007. At that time, the billionaire’s decision surprised many people who could not understand why he decided to come to a developing country with a political, economic and business culture quite different from the US.

He said he could see great business opportunities in the differences between the two countries.

Falcone is the 188th richest billionaire in the world, according to Forbes. 

His fund, with total assets of $1.2 billion, is the largest shareholder of Asian Coast Development (ACDL), which is the investor of the $4.2 billion Ho Tram project in Ba Ria – Vung Tau province.

In the billionaire’s eyes, Vietnam has political stability, high economic growth rate of 5-7 percent per annum and young industries which need investment capital. Meanwhile, it is a vast market with 90 million consumers.

Peter F. Wilkinson, Vice president of Manulife, which has been present in Vietnam twice as long than Falcone, said that he made the right decision to invest in Vietnam.

Manulife, one of the three largest life insurers in Vietnam, set foot in Vietnam in 1999, before the Vietnam-US Bilateral Trade Agreement (BTA) was signed. 

Dung told VietNamNet that American investors all promised to come to Vietnam to learn about investment opportunities, or expand their investment scale here. 

Vietnam, he said, has opportunities from the TPP Agreement, expected to be signed soon; from the national plan on selling $3.7 billion worth of state’s capital in the state-owned enterprise equitization plan; and from the new policy on 100 percent foreign ownership ratio in enterprises in unconditional business fields.

However, Phan Huu Thang, former head of the Foreign Investment Agency, noted that if Vietnam does not enhance reform and if it continues the ‘ask-and-grant mechanism’, it will not be able to attract US capital. 

He said that Vietnam had many times missed the opportunity to attract investors from the powerful country.

Pham Huyen


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