Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Philippine banks explore Vietnam opportunities

Lucio Tan’s PNB joins Vietnam mission

By Jenniffer B. Austria

Two local banks will explore the possibility of setting up business in Vietnam.

Lucio Tan-owned Philippine National Bank and Yuchengco-controlled Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. are among the companies joining the four-day trade mission to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietman later this week.

The first Philippine-Vietnam business mission aims to promote bilateral trade and explore investment opportunities in both countries.

The Philippine mission will be led by Trade and Industry Undersecretary Thomas Aquino and will comprise top 50 businessmen engaged in various industries, including agribusiness and aquaculture, mining, energy, real estate and construction, light manufacturing, food manufacturing, banking and insurance.

The mission comes in the wake of a series of high-level meetings in the Philippines involving Vietnam and the Asean community, such as the recently concluded 40th Asean ministerial meeting and the visit of Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, who was accompanied by a delegation of 40 top Vietnamese businessmen and industries.

Delegates will meet with top government officials of Vietnam, who will explain the procedures and regulations of doing business in that country. Filipino businessmen will also get the opportunity to meet and have a dialogue with their counterparts in their respective industries.

Vietnam has been the fastest-growing economy in the Pacific rim after China, with real gross domestic product growth averaging 8 percent in the past eight years.

Exports have also been growing at an annual average of 20 percent in the last two years, with total trade reaching $85 billion in 2006 alone. Vietnam also attracted $10 billion in foreign direct investments last year and is expected to get as much as $25 billion this year, which is 10 times higher than the goal of the Philippines.