Channel NewsAsia

S’pore businesses in Vietnam confident despite riots

Singapore businesses operating in Vietnam say they continue to have confidence in the country, despite the recent violence which broke out following anti-China protests.

VIETNAM: Singapore businesses operating in Vietnam say they continue to have confidence in the country, despite the recent violence which broke out following anti-China protests.

China-owned businesses outside Ho Chi Minh City were targeted by protesters angry over China's oil drilling in a part of the South China Sea also claimed by Vietman.

Factories and foreign corporate buildings were destroyed and at least 4,000 Chinese nationals fled Vietnam for fear of their safety.

But more than a week later, international and local corporate leaders were present for
Channel NewsAsia's Business Insights forum in Vietnam.

Hosted in the country for the first time, observers say it shows investment confidence in Vietnam.

"My business has been here in Vietnam for the past 10 years. These (the protests) were just individual cases -- like some workers that are not happy with the China bosses and they just took it out (on them) and tried to rob and riot.

“Some investors will understand that this is a small issue," said Ken Ang, technical director of United Paints.

Singapore is Vietnam's third largest investor, with investments amounting to about US$30 billion.

Singapore has a long-term interest in Vietnam and many believe the recent violence is not a sign of more trouble to come.

"None of the Singaporeans that I know literally left the country because of this incident. We don't see it as a threat directly at Singapore or Singapore assets or Singapore businesses.

“It is a hiccup to the economy here but overall, there's no major damage done and the government of Vietnam actually took measures to prevent such incidents from happening again,” said Norman Lim, president of the Singapore Business Group and general director of Parker Hannifin Vietnam.

Such developments in Vietnam require accurate and reliable coverage, which Channel NewsAsia aims to provide.

The regional channel wants to open a bureau in the country -- its 14th in Asia.

Debra Soon, managing director of Channel NewsAsia, said: "We intend to base a team here. It will allow us to cover business opportunities, report on how a new generation of Vietnamese see themselves and the rest of Asia.

“We can help all of you tell the story of your nation from different perspectives of businesses, development and culture."

Dang Huy Dong, vice minister for the Vietnam Ministry of Planning and Investment, said: "Now, (there will be) more images, more information, more news about Vietnam reaching into the world. I think this is a very good move. I personally welcome the move.

“I do hope that you have balanced and timely coverage of happenings in the country. There are a lot of good developments happening in the country as well and we need that to be known as soon as possible to the audience in the region and in the world."

The Vietnam government has also met with businesses to find out their concerns and what the authorities can do to provide better assistance, which helps to address any lingering worries that foreign investors may have after the incident.

Some say the move also shows the government's commitment to restore confidence among the foreigners living in Vietnam as quickly as possible.  

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