New City Taking Shape in South of Vietnam 

binh duong new city

Writer: By Chris Runckel
President of Runckel & Associates (www.Business-in-Asia.com)

In these times of financial uncertainty and falling exports, most projects are being put on hold or delayed.  In Binh Duong province Vietnam, however, business and government leaders are continuing to push ahead with a new city that will be the most modern and advanced anywhere in Vietnam and could well be a model to the region.  Binh Duong new city is a project conceived by the Binh Duong provincial government and the provinces leading state-owned company, Becamex IDC Corporation.   The project involves a new provincial capital with surrounding industrial parks and factories and integration of work locations, housing and public amenities that is already taking shape in the province.

Burapha University Nursing school met with Binh Duong Vietnam group
Picture: Mien Dong University's delegation met with Burapha University's Nursing school in Chonburi, Thailand
Business is a big part of the new city but public amenities and the needs of a well-trained and serviced workforce have not been ignored and have in fact frankly gained a prominent place in the plan.  A new University, Mien Dong University, is already planned and construction has commenced.  This University is already in negotiations with well-established Thai Universities who have agreed to support and nurture the new University and to help build programs in Nursing, mechanical and electrical engineering and other technical skills plus basic business and other programs. 

A modern and state-of-the-art medical hospital is also taking shaped under Singapore and other nation planning and potential for further collaboration with Thai hospitals that lead the region in medical expertise are in the initial stages.

Binh Duong maybe a new name to those outside of Vietnam but is already well known in Vietnam.  Binh Duong is one of the four neighboring provinces to Ho Chi Minh City in the South of Vietnam.  Ho Chi Minh City and the surrounding four provinces including Binh Duong also comprise what Vietnam and international groups have termed the Southern Key Economic Zone (SKEZ).  This zone produces nearly 50% of the entire GDP for Vietnam and is the area where the highest level of economic growth has centered in Vietnam.  Binh Duong is one of the most active portions of the zone and has been named repeatedly by the Provincial Competitiveness Index (PCI) as the most transparent and welcoming investment location in all of Vietnam.  One of the reasons for this designation is the progressive business policies adopted in the province by provincial leaders.  The government has often used Binh Duong to try out new policies on business promotion and facilitation that after proving themselves have then been adopted at the national level and taken countrywide.  Binh Duong leaders have benefited from this leading position of national innovation and the current President of Vietnam and the Chairman of Ho Chi Minh City (roughly equivalent to the Mayor of the City) are both from Binh Duong as are many government Ministers and other senior government officials.

SKEZ map 1
SKEZ map2

Picture left and above: Map of Vietnam showing the Southern Key Economic Zone (SKEZ), which includes Binh Duong Province

From July 25-30, 2009 a senior delegation from the province visited Bangkok, Thailand for the second time in less than a year to follow-up briefing Thailand businesses and investors on the new city and on the opportunities for Thai companies, banks, funds and real estate developers and service companies in the new province.  The centerpiece of this visit was a seminar hosted at the Landmark Hotel on Tuesday, July 28, which attracted over 275 participants to learn more about this opportunity. 

Vietnam seminar in Bangkok
Chris Runckel speaks at the seminar
Picture left and above: Seminar in Bangkok on July 28, 2009 attended by 275 Thai and foreign businesses in Thailand.

This seminar saw presentations by provincial and government officials and from Becamex, the largest industrial park operator in Binh Duong with over 15 industrial parks and also the largest infrastructure company in the South of Vietnam.  Binh Duong’s industrial parks currently total over 30 and host over 1,800 foreign industrial projects and about 4 times as many local projects.  Despite the financial crisis, these projects are continuing to produce and expand as the participants were informed during the seminar.

seminar in Bangkok
networking in the seminar

Later the group met with major Thai governmental groups like the Export-Import Bank (EXIM), the Board of Investment of Thailand (BOI), many banks and major industrial companies to further discuss Binh Duong and to respond to Thai government interest in ensuring maximum access for Thai investors in this new and expanding area.  Many of the companies who met with the group both at the seminar and later in individual meetings are planning follow-up visits or awaiting responses to research requests laid out in the meetings.

meet with Exim Bank
Meet with the BOI
Picture left: The delegation meets with the Export-Import Bank (EXIM); and picture right: meeting with the BOI

Binh Duong is young but looking to take advantage of the expertise that Thailand has gained in areas such as hospitality and tourism industry, the hospital sector, university education, supply chain industries and all facets of the service industry.  Because of its close location to Bangkok (only a one hour flight), young and dynamic workforce, stable and business oriented government and strategic location and lower costs, Binh Duong offers Thai and many other investors a great springboard to building sales, export and other opportunities in the growing Vietnam market.

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