|Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung (second right) holds hands with heads of delegations from countries attending the 7th Mekong-Japan Summit yesterday in Tokyo. — VNA/VNS Photo Duc Tam
TOKYO (VNS) — Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung said Viet Nam had room for growth and could give Japanese firms new opportunities at a business forum held with the five Mekong Delta countries yesterday in Tokyo.
The Vietnamese Government will allow smooth operations for Japanese investors in Viet Nam, the PM said while introducing Viet Nam's geographical, socio-political and macro-economic advantages. The country is fine-tuning its market economy regulations, developing human resources and infrastructure, and pushing international integration forward, he said.
Mekong country leaders and representatives from nearly 200 Japanese businesses attended the forum, an activity on the sidelines of the seventh Mekong-Japan Summit. It acted as a platform for both sides to discuss development and business prospects in the region.
Speaking at the forum, Chairman & CEO of the Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO) Hiroyuki Ishige said his group had opened six representative offices in five Mekong countries. As many as 1,000 Japanese firms applied for membership in the region's Japanese Business Association between 2012 and 2015.
Japan's direct investment in the region hit US$6.8 billion, rivalling Japanese inflows into China, he said.
Participants held that the Mekong sub-region, with a population of 230 million people and increasing income per capita, continued to be one of Japan's most significant manufacturing bases and consumption markets.
They said improving regional connectivity had created an encompassing network, which could make the region a new worldwide manufacturing base.
Over the past six years Mekong-Japan co-operation has greatly benefited the GMS's socio-economic development, especially in infrastructure, transport and logistics service, transforming the region into an attractive investment destination.
Meeting with Japanese
PM Dung and leaders of four other Mekong countries paid courtesy calls to Japanese Emperor Akihito, Speaker of the House of Representatives Tadamori Oshima and President of the House of Councillors Masaaki Yamazaki in Tokyo yesterday.
Emperor Akihito welcomed the Vietnamese PM, Cambodian PM Hun Sen, Lao PM Thoongsing Thammavong, Myanmar President Thein Sein and Thai PM Prayuth Chan-ocha to the seventh Mekong – Japan Summit.
He expressed his support for strengthening ties between Japan and Mekong countries for the sake of peace, development and stability in the region and world.
PM Dung said Japan's economic growth was crucial to Asia's development and prosperity.
Speaker of the House of Representatives Tadamori Oshima mentioned the Friendship Parliamentary Alliances with each Mekong country and the Japan – Mekong Parliamentary Friendship Association founded this April, which are tasked with facilitating exchanges between legislatures.
He thanked Mekong countries for their support of Japan's recovery efforts following the earthquake and tsunami disasters four years ago, saying that Japan was willing to share its disaster response experience – a key topic at the summit.
Oshima vowed to do his best to promote co-operation between the Mekong and Japan, and between Viet Nam and Japan in particular.
President of the House of Councillors Masaaki Yamazaki said the Japanese Parliament would continue promoting exchanges with legislative bodies and parliament members in other countries, especially those in ASEAN.
He expressed his delight at the Vietnamese PM's visit to Japan for the summit, adding that he valued the comprehensive collaboration between the two nations and backs Japan's continued socio-economic development assistance to Viet Nam.
More Japanese aid urged
Dung yesterday called on two major development partners to facilitate greater financial and economic support from Japan for Viet Nam.
His appeal was made in separate meetings held with President of the Japan-Viet Nam Parliamentary Friendship Group Toshihiro Nikai and President of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Tanaka Akihiko in Tokyo.
He praised the Japan-Viet Nam Parliamentary Friendship Group for its role in promoting bilateral relations. He requested the group to exhort the Japanese government to provide Viet Nam with more official development assistance, receive more Vietnamese nurses and trainees and encourage more Japanese enterprises to operate in Viet Nam.
He also urged Japanese parliamentarians to continue backing Viet Nam's and ASEAN's position on ensuring peace, security, maritime and aviation safety and freedom, and to call upon concerned parties to refrain from acts that can further complicate and extend disputes in the East Sea.
Nikai said the group would work to foster the Japan-Viet Nam relations particularly in areas suggested by PM Dung. He informed the PM about the planting of Vietnamese lotus in Japan, saying it was a symbol of the friendship between the two countries.
Huge ODA benefits
Receiving JICA head Akihiko, Dung said $27 billion worth of ODA that Japan has provided Viet Nam over the past 20 years has promoted sustainable development in Viet Nam, especially via infrastructure construction.
He suggested that Japan continue providing ODA provision for both ongoing and new projects.
Akihiko said the recently-inaugurated terminal at the Noi Bai International Airport facilities and the Nhat Tan Bridge were examples of effective collaboration between Viet Nam and Japan.
The host hailed the Vietnamese government's resolve in dealing with the recent ODA corruption case and affirmed that JICA will also exert efforts to prevent similar negative practices in the future.
PM Dung chaired a discussion with representatives from 15 major Japanese groups in Tokyo yesterday, reiterating the Vietnamese Government's commitment to providing optimal conditions for foreign direct investments, including those from Japan.
This was the second time the Vietnamese leader has attended a discussion with leading Japanese enterprises, including Tokyo-Mitsubishi, Canon, Sumitomo, Hitachi and Bridgestone this time around. The first function took place in late 2013 with executives from 11 Japanese firms.
The PM said Viet Nam was entering a new stage of development with a more stable macro-economy, faster growth and better controlled inflation. Gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 6.28 per cent in the first six months of 2015, and could expand by 6.5 per cent this year – the fastest pace since 2011.
Viet Nam is focusing on completing market mechanisms and developing human resources and infrastructure. It is also joining efforts with ASEAN members to build the ASEAN Economic Community, with a population of 625 million and GDP of US$2.5 trillion, by the end of this year.
Viet Nam is working with other countries, including the US and Japan, to conclude negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. Participation in free trade agreements is opening more commercial opportunities with 55 countries and partners – including 15 members of the G20.
The leader highlighted the development of the strategic partnership between Viet Nam and Japan. Japan is currently Viet Nam's third largest trade partner with trade expected to near $30 billion this year, and its biggest investor with $38 billion to be poured into Viet Nam in 2015.
He added that Viet Nam was undertaking measures to remove existing business obstacles by reforming administrative procedures relating to taxes, customs, construction and land.
In efforts to push the business environment criteria on a par with the ASEAN-4 group (Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand) in 2016, a number of important laws had been amended and enforced such as the laws on investment, enterprises, housing and real estate business, he said, adding that the Government had also issued a decree on public-private partnerships and was designing legal documents to assist small and medium-sized enterprises and support industries.
On the same day, PM Dung received Governor of Japan's Kanagawa prefecture Kuroiwa Yuji. — VNS