HCMC aims to become world financial hub: chairman

By Huu Cong   August 25, 2020 | 06:00 am PT
HCMC aims to become world financial hub: chairman
An aerial view of downtown HCMC, August 2019. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran.
Chairman Nguyen Thanh Phong has proposed that HCMC be turned into a world financial hub, using its infrastructure, economic growth and investment environment.

The government should consider this goal "a critical mission and an important national strategy, to be included in the socio-economic development strategy for 2021-2030, with vision until 2045," he says in a document sent recently to Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc.

A favorable business environment, and rapid, stable economic growth are essential conditions for financial centers to form and grow. Ho Chi Minh City possesses several such attributes like contributing around 22.3 percent to the national GDP and around 27 percent to the national budget, while attracting around 34 percent of all the country's FDI projects, the document notes.

The city's financial infrastructures also show great potential, having multiple commercial banks, financial intermediaries, investment funds and financial firms, among others. These play vital roles in attracting and distributing capital through direct and indirect investments, among other financial activities.

HCMC also has the highest financial institution density in all of Vietnam, with over 2,100 units operating under banks and other credit organizations. Amongst them are transaction offices and branches of 85 banks, including banks with 100 percent foreign ownership, joint-stock commercial banks or state-owned banks. The city's total mobilized capital and loans outstanding balance accounts for over 24 and 28 percent of the entire economy.

The southern metropolis is also the birthplace of Vietnam's stock market. The total capitalization of the HCMC Stock Exchange (HOSE) now accounts for around 95 percent of the market and is equivalent to over 54 percent of the national GDP last year. Meanwhile, the capitalization of companies listed on the HOSE amounted to over VND3.2 quadrillion ($137.9 billion), 17 times higher than those on the Hanoi Stock Exchange (HNX).

Geographically, HCMC lies in a different time zone than 21 of the largest financial centers of the world, giving it a unique advantage for attracting capital when other financial centers stop transactions. The city is also only three hours away by plane from some of the most energetic economies in Asia, including Singapore, Thailand, China and India.

Game plan

The HCMC People's Committee suggests that the city be developed into a financial center on a national level in the short-term, before regional and international levels.

The city should aim to provide financial services to nearby countries that are transitioning and developing quickly, like Laos, Cambodian and Myanmar, then work to join the regional financial center network, where it could provide financial services to countries outside of ASEAN as well.

In the long-term, HCMC as a financial center would be able to attract both supply and demand for financial products, which would serve commercial activities, investments and businesses, both inside and outside of Vietnam.

For now, HCMC would devise a concrete plan to achieve such a goal per instructions from the prime minister, before sending it to central agencies for approval. The city would also prepare resources to carry out the plan, the document says.

The idea of turning HCMC into a financial center for Vietnam and ASEAN has been on the Politburo's table since 2002, but not made any progress.

Previously, the city's authorities had designated the Thu Thiem New Urban Area in District 2 to be a future financial center following due infrastructural and technological investments.

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