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Sembcorp Group pledges to stand firmly behind its investments in Vietnam (25/11/2008)


Low Sin Leng

Can you give a brief outline of Sembcorp’s activities?
Sembcorp is a large economic group from Singapore, operating in the areas of services, logistics, environment, development and operations of industrial parks. We have years of experience in operating industrial parks of which the largest is the Batam Industrial Park in Indonesia, which was born as a result of a joint initiative by the governments of the two countries.

It now employs 800,000 people and has won the title of the most successful Singapore business. In Vietnam, VSIP is also a typical example in terms of industrial park development. We also invest in tourism in Singapore, China and Indonesia.

Can you tell us about Sembcorp’s plans for developing industrial parks in Vietnam?
VSIP was established in 1996 in Binh Duong province and it is a model of strategic development. We now have over 380 investors from Taiwan, Japan and Singapore operating in VSIP and employ more than 60,000 people. We have also attracted another 300 investors. I know that Vietnam has hundreds of industrial parks, but the Vietnamese government appreciates VSIP and encourages us to expand investment to other localities. So, in 2007 we started to invest in Bac Ninh and are doing so in Haiphong.

How does the global financial crisis impact on Sembcorp’s investments here?
The impact of the crisis does not exclude any countries. The more the countries are developed and the closer ties they have with the US the more they are affected. The crisis also impacts on countries which do subcontracted work for other countries. A year ago Vietnam was a very hot market in terms of investment attraction, but now a number of investors are unable to continue their investment plans as a result of a decrease in demand for commodities.

I think attracting investment to VSIP is also facing the same situation and it is a major challenge for us.
But, you certainly still remember how the Asian financial crisis impacted on Asian countries and we also suffered heavy losses, but we are still present in Vietnam with VSIP and we have so far achieved a lot of success. We will also overcome the challenge this crisis poses to us.

What are Sembcorp’s plans to deal with the situation?
We have learnt from developing industrial parks that we must have a logical investment attraction strategy. At this stage, our VSIP investment attraction strategy is to limit new investments, choose a number of projects related to health, education and projects that contribute directly to social security.

We will still implement industrial park and urban infrastructure development projects in the north, a project in Bac Ninh is 700 hectares in area, the one in Haiphong is 1,600ha in area, including 500ha for an industrial park and the rest is for environmental improvements and urban development, as we have pledged.

Some foreign investment projects in Vietnam have recently violated environmental regulations and have been dealt with. What is your view on this matter?
I think Vietnam is opening its doors to attract investment and achieving good results. However, there are good investors and bad ones, for that reason there must be a mechanism to select good investors. I agree to the view that one cannot attract investment at all costs, investors must comply with the strategy for sustainable development.

Source: VIR

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