HCM CITY (VNS)— Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar present many new business opportunities for Vietnamese investors, according to speakers at a business forum held in HCM City yesterday.
Julien Brun, general director of Cel Consulting for Supply Chains and Operations in Southeast Asia, said the three countries were very different and investors should examine their individual characteristics carefully.
Myanmar, with 75 million consumers, limited competition, and an area rich in natural resources, has the highest potential of the three at the moment, he noted.
In Laos, besides the forestry and agriculture sector, mining is also a promising industry.
More textile companies are moving from Viet Nam to Cambodia because of cheap labour costs, making it a platform for basic manufacturing, Brun said.
"Look at overall, construction materials would be important to these countries," he said.
Because Viet Nam now has an oversupply of construction materials, he suggested that Vietnamese companies do business in the three countries in building housing, infrastructure and facilities.
Jean-Christophe Ngo, an infrastructure and value chains consultant, also urged Vietnamese companies to study the markets and act quickly to take advantage of trade and investment opportunities, especially in Myanmar.
In Myanmar, telephones, tables, furniture, pharmaceutical goods and consumer goods are all promising areas since most of those items are now imported from China.
However, China and Thailand have an advantage in this market because they share a border with Myanmar.
Despite many poten-tials, investors would face challenges when doing business in these countries, delegates agreed.
Brun said the top challenges in all three countries were a poor legal framework, corruption and underdeveloped transport infrastructure.
It would take from five to 10 years to improve, he added.
In Myanmar, the lack of trained human resources, various ethnicities, religions and low incomes also present challenges for investors, according to Ralf Matthaes, regional managing director of TNS.
"Despite obstacles, opportunities exist. Finding the right partners is key," Brun said.
"A lot of investors are focusing on profits right now, but sometimes these investments have a bad impact on people and the environment," he said. "Vietnamese companies should avoid these pitfalls and have a fair and transparent approach in these markets."
According to the Foreign Investment Agency, Vietnamese companies had 222 projects with a total investment capital of US$3.79 billion in Laos and 124 projects worth $2.56 billion in Cambodia.
The forum was organ-ised by the Viet Nam Supply Chain. — VNS