15:08 | 09/04/2015 Economy
Until a few years ago major Vietnamese conglomerates were the sole driving influence for investing in international markets and single-handedly reaping the rewards of a global economy.
However, the Foreign Investment Agency (FIA) recently reported that outward investment by Vietnamese small businesses and inpiduals has picked up considerably as they too – aim for a bigger piece of the economic pie.
According to FIA statistics for calendar year 2014 they issued investment permits and licenses to 109 businesses, 13% of them owned by inpiduals and 76% were private companies to invest in overseas projects.
Overall Vietnamese investors pumped more than US$1.8 billion into 28 countries principally in ITC, agriculture, forestry, aquaculture and mineral projects – in Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos, the US and Singapore.
This year, government economists at the FIA have forecast outward investment to set a new milestone, rising up to US$2 billion.
The investment, which began in the 1990s, has principally focused on oil and gas exploration, hydroelectric and reforestation projects of state run enterprises and large conglomerates in Laos, Cambodia and Russia.
Doing business in countries overseas can be extremely complex as the general economic environment is significantly different from Vietnam and investors face many legal hurdles to obtain the proper licenses and permits.
However in recent years investing overseas has become more persified in large part as a result of efforts by the government to streamline the process of obtaining necessary licenses and permits and provide other consulting services.
Obtaining the necessary licenses and permits is implemented under an – ask and receive – model and still a bit cumbersome but most investors have reported it has been steadily improving.
In particular small business and inpidual investments in projects in the US and Eastern Europe have been on the rise. These investments have served as a major source of foreign currency for the nation.
Bui Quang Ngoc, CEO of FPT Corporation recently revealed his company currently does business in 19 countries including the US, UK and Japan along with many countries in Asia such as Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Singaporeand Myanmar.
Last year, the Group conducted its first overseas merger and acquisition with a Slovakian company named RWE IT, which operates in the electricity and gas field, he said adding that future mergers are planned with an aim of reaching US$2 billion in revenue from overseas operations.
Last year, the conglomerates group wide revenue was VND35,114 billion. The revenue from overseas projects accounted for 10% of the total revenue and grew at a 37% rate, which was much faster than the domestic growth rate of 23%, he added.
Vietnam Dairy Products Joint Stock Company (Vinamilk) also has far-reaching plans to increase its share of the global pie. It now operates dairy plants in New Zealand, Poland, the US and Cambodia.
The company has set a goal of generatingrevenue of US$3 billion and entering top 50 largest dairy companies in the world by 2017, said its executive director of public relations, Bui Thi Huong.
Hoang Anh Gia Lai (HAGL) Group is one of the largest investors in Myanmar having sunk US$550 million in a HAGL Myanmar Centre commercial real estate project. The group has also spent over US$1 billion in rubber, minerals, hydropower and sugarcane projects.
A number of joint stock commercial banks such as Sacombank, SHB and HDBank have opened branches in Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar, which facilitates investors and others transfer money in and out of Vietnam to other countries.
Nguyen Lien Phuong, director of the LP Vietnam Academy of Entrepreneurs, said investors should seize more opportunities to invest abroad. They should participate in international fairs, fact-finding tours, increase their competitive edge and find out more about the law or rules in global market.
He suggested that the Vietnamese Government should create the most favourable conditions for businesses to invest abroad through legal framework and support programmes to advertise and market domestic products around the globe.