Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe witnessed the signing of business deals worth $22 billion between the two countries at a conference in Tokyo on Monday.
The Vietnamnese leader attended the Conference on Business Promotion into Vietnam as part of his four-day visit to Japan, which came shortly after his trip to the U.S.
The conference, attended by 1,400 Japanese and 200 Vietnamese businesses, inked deals in urban development, transport and infrastructure.
Among them was a strategic agreement between Vietnam's budget airline Vietjet and Japan's Mitsubishi UFJ Lease & Finance to finance three aircraft purchases worth $348 million.
“When talking about investing outside of Japan, we immediately think of Vietnam,” said Yutaka Watanabe, President of Towa Industry Vietnam.
But Japanese investors also noted that Vietnam needs a more skilled labor force, especially managers who speak Japanese, as well as more relaxed policies on import of equipment and the car industry.
Prime Minister Phuc pledged to carefully consider the propositions while continuing to reform Vietnam's economy to boost competitiveness.
“Everyone present today, at this conference hall, is considered Vietnam's close friend,” Phuc said, calling the conference attended by a record number of Japanese and Vietnamese business "historic."
The two countries have a limitless potential for cooperation, said Phuc, hoping Japanese businesses would make long-term investments in Vietnam.
Speaking at the conference, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the two countries will continue to cooperate to promote free trade.
Vietnam is currently negotiating the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a free trade agreement led by China, while also working closely with the remaining parties of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, now dubbed the TPP-11, both of which involve Japan.
Japan is Vietnam's largest source of official development assistance (ODA), as well as the country's second largest foreign investor, third largest tourism partner and fourth largest trade partner. By the end of 2016, Japan had more than 3,200 investment projects in Vietnam with total registered capital of more than $42 billion.