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Potential and problems in Ho Chi Minh City


BUSINESSMEN, some of them Singaporean, shared their optimism about Vietnam’s economy with Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong over lunch yesterday when he arrived in Ho Chi Minh City on the final leg of his week-long visit to the country.

But the businessmen, among them executives from Singapore’s Keppel Land and Kim Eng Securities, also spoke of the problems they face in doing business there – which Mr Goh later conveyed to Le Hoang Quan, chairman of the People’s Committee in Ho Chi Minh City.

The businessmen complained about infrastructure bottlenecks and the shortage of skilled workers, among other issues.

In his hour-long meeting with Chairman Quan in the evening, Mr Goh suggested that Vietnam, with the help of foreigners, could set up a technical institute to train more skilled workers which, in turn, would attract more foreign investors to the country.

Mr Goh, who has urged Vietnam to shoot for double-digit economic growth during his current trip, is upbeat about Vietnam, especially Ho Chi Minh City.

He told Mr Quan that the city is obviously doing very well.

Mr Goh, who was last in Ho Chi Minh City in 1996, said that as he was driven from the city to the downtown hotel where he is staying, he noticed there were many cars on the road, many of them new.

Indeed, he said, traffic congestion is now a problem.

Shops were filled with branded goods, Mr Goh observed. There were also new buildings, including those built by Singaporean companies like Keppel Land. And Mr Goh said he was impressed with the Saigon South City project, which he was given a viewing of in the afternoon. The city project is built by Central Trading Development, a Taiwanese company.

According to him, these signs suggest that Vietnam’s economic growth took off only in recent years. But Mr Goh expressed concern about rising inflation in Ho Chi Minh City, which Mr Quan pointed out was also a worldwide problem. Mr Quan said inflation would be tackled at the national level in Vietnam.


Source: Business Times 15 Dec 07


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