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German official sees more ASEAN potential

Update: November, 24/2014 - 09:21

Vice Chancellor and Federal Minister of Economic Affairs and Energy of Germany, Sigmar Gabriel speaks at the event.

HCM CITY (VNS) — German companies have already made substantial investments in many Asian countries, but they can still do much more in the region, the Vice Chancellor and Federal Minister of Economic Affairs and Energy of Germany said at a meeting in HCM City last Saturday.

The EU features high up in Asian FDI rankings, Sigmar Gabriel said to open an "Openness for FDI" session at the 14th Asia-Pacific conference of German Business.

German companies have invested around 45 billion euros in China, 15 billion euros in Japan, and 9 billion euros in Korea. German business is also well-represented in ASEAN, particularly in Singapore (12 billion euros), but also Indonesia, Thailand, and Malaysia.

"Countries where I see major potential are Viet Nam and the Philippines, but also Myanmar and Cambodia, which all have vibrant economies," he said.

German companies, however, often experience grave difficulties in the region, he said. These include reliability, the fulfilment of contracts, the rule of law, and an efficient, ethical public administration.

In addition, there are also issues with infrastructure and a lack of vocational training.

"German companies are more than willing to help your countries expand their infrastructure. They are ready to use their technology to help overcome the challenges that arise from the growth of the middle classes and from urbanisation," he said.

There already are a number of promising infrastructure projects underway in India, Thailand and Indonesia and the "ASEAN connectivity" project, which is in the planning stages.

German businesses are world leaders in industrial equipment and can tailor their outstanding products and services to create the perfect solution for almost any specific application.

Regarding vocational training challenge, he said: "This is an area in which Germany excels. Our dual-education system is a tried-and-tested concept that we are now exporting to countries across the world. We are already working closely with many Asian countries on this."

Professional training that prepares people for complex tasks is one of the keys for economic development in Asia, he said, adding that vocational training is also essential for German companies that want to recruit skilled professionals from abroad.

The "Make it in Germany" campaign was launched to help skilled professionals from Viet Nam and other countries work in Germany.

Giving young people an opportunity to obtain additional qualifications abroad is also in the best interest of emerging economies with a young workforce.

"We are looking for people who have completed vocational training for careers that are essential for the well-being of our society and industry. For instance, we have been working with Viet Nam on a pilot project that brings Vietnamese nursing staff to Germany," he said.

So far, 100 of them have started their training in Germany, and another 125 are to come to Germany next year.

Investment from Asia

Germany is open to skilled professionals as well as investment from Asia, he said.

There are around 55,000 foreign-owned companies in Germany, including 4,700 from the Asia-Pacific region. These companies provide 180,000 jobs in Germany.

"That is an impressive figure, but I think we could do even better than that," he said.

There is a growing trend of Asian companies investing in Germany. Last year, the Asia-Pacific region accounted for roughly a quarter of all inward investment in the greenfield and expansion projects in Germany.

That made the region the second-most important source of inward investment, even ahead North America.

Germany is situated at the heart of Europe and can boast excellent infrastructure. It also has a strong track record in high technology, research and development and a highly-skilled labour force.

Germany would do more to attract valuable inward investment, including streamlining visa application procedure for Asian business representatives, he said. On the other hand, "we would like to see Asian countries also allowing for German investment based on simple and clear rules."

The negotiations between the EU and several Asian countries for investment and free trade agreements are strategically important in this regard.

"For us, what we want to achieve most is lower tariffs, access to the services sector and public sector contracts, as well as the protection of intellectual property rights."

German firms to expand VN presence

Peter Kompalla, deputy chief representative of the German Industry and Commerce in Viet Nam, said 80 per cent of German companies operating in Viet Nam planned to expand their business in the country.

Goh Wee Hong, senior vice president of TUV SUD ASEAN's product services, said "Viet Nam is one of our fastest growing markets in Asia-Pacific. So Viet Nam is definitely a very key country for us to continue our investment."

Martin Brudermueller, vice chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of BASF, a chemical company, said Viet Nam was an interesting market for BASF, adding that its operation in Viet Nam was growing well.

"We are looking in a positive way on Viet Nam's development and we want to be part of this, and contribute to Viet Nam and benefit from this development," he said. — VNS

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