46 pct APEC firms plan higher investments in Vietnam nex year

By Dat Nguyen   November 16, 2018 | 06:05 pm PT
46 pct APEC firms plan higher investments in Vietnam nex year
A man works at an e-scooter assembly line of a motorcycle factory in Hai Phong City, Vietnam. Photo by Reuters
With 46 percent of APEC firms planning to increase their investments in the country, Vietnam tops the region in business attraction.

According to the "PwC 2018 APEC CEO Survey" recently released by professional services company PwC, China came second with 45 percent, followed by the U.S. and Australia at 44 percent, and Thailand at 39 percent.

It also found that international trade is likely to continue being a source of growth for Vietnam-based firms. Four out of ten Vietnam-based businesses expect an increase in revenue opportunities because of a new bilateral trade agreement, while this figure for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) as a whole was three out of ten.

A multilateral trade agreement will also bring more opportunities, according to 34 percent of respondents in Vietnam, higher than that the APEC figure of 30 percent.

Only seven percent of respondents in Vietnam expect to see an increase in barriers to moving goods across borders next year, while the APEC rate was over three times higher at 23 percent.

Dinh Thi Quynh Van, general director of PwC Vietnam, said: "With major trade deals like the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and ASEAN-Hong Kong FTA on the horizon, Vietnam has the potential to attract even more investment and generate new cross-border business opportunities."

However, businesses also have to face challenges, especially in recruiting people with the right skills and experience, she said.

Almost three out of ten businesses said that they are struggling to fill job positions with the people/skills they need.

The gap is felt acutely in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) skills area with 76 percent of respondents in Vietnam stating that their governments need to do more to train STEM professionals. This rate was higher than the APEC rate of 65 percent.

Only 4 percent of business leaders in Vietnam said the government was doing enough in this area, lower than the APEC rate of 14 percent.

They also said that there are a number of other areas that need to be improved in Vietnam, leading with "improvements to the digital infrastructure."

Digital infrastructures are foundational services that are necessary to the information technology capabilities of a nation, such as data centers and communications satellite.

"While businesses need to determine their infrastructure requirements and communicate them, the government's role is to understand these requirements and introduce policies and regulations for the sustainable development of digital infrastructure," Van said.

The survey polled 1,189 business leaders from among all 21 APEC economies from May to July.

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