HO CHI MINH CITY–Taiwan’s representative to Vietnam, Huang Chih-peng, said Monday he hopes Vietnam will join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free-trade agreement soon as this will help the many Taiwanese businesses that plan to invest in the Southeast Asian country. Vietnam still has some economic issues to be resolved before it can enter the TPP, Huang said, at a ceremony that marked the completion of a project in Vietnam called China Steel Sumikin Vietnam Joint Stock Company (CSVC), a cold rolling complex funded by Taiwan’s China Steel Corp. Huang said he hopes, however, that Vietnam will be able to join the TPP soon as this will open up enormous business opportunities for Taiwanese businesses wanting to invest there. Currently, there are 50,000 Taiwanese enterprises with investments in Vietnam, mostly in the manufacturing, breeding and aquaculture, textile and tea-planting industries, Huang said.
Last year, Taiwan was the third largest investor in Vietnam and the biggest foreign employer of Vietnamese, with 1.4 million workers, Huang added. Taiwan attaches great importance to foreign trade and investment, Huang said, noting that Taiwanese businesses made a huge exodus to Southeast Asia in the 1970s, to China in the 1980s and again to Southeast Asia in the late 1990s. Vietnam a Top Choice for Investment Among the Southeast Asian countries, Vietnam is the top choice for Taiwanese businesses, given its political stability, friendly people and rich resources, he said. Over the past 20 years, Vietnam has attracted global investments of US$300 billion, with Taiwanese businesses contributing at least US$30 billion, Hang said. Despite Vietnam’s weak economy over the past two years, many of its economic indicators point to a rebound, he said. With Vietnam’s property market starting to recover, the steel business is expected to stage a comeback, the diplomat said. Formosa Plastics Group, therefore, has invested US$9.5 billion in Formosa Ha Tinh Steel Corp., a steel mill in Vietnam, while China Steel has also invested a large sum in the CSVC steel rolling mill, according to Huang. When Formosa Ha Tinh Steel is completed in 2015, its initial annual production output is expected to be 8.5 million metric tons, while the China Seel cold rolling mill will produce an annual output of 1.2 million metric tons, he said. The total output will exceed Vietnam’s annual domestic demand of 6.5 million metric tons and the two companies, therefore, are expected to export their products to other Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states, Huang said. China Steel Chairman Tsou Jou-chi said CSVC, his company’s largest overseas investment project, is aiming to break even in three years.