Hanoi - Singapore President Sellapan Rama Nathan, arriving in Vietnam on an official visit, urged his hosts to take advantage of Singaporean expertise to unclog the country's congested ports and transportation infrastructure. "One of your problems is infrastructure," Nathan said in a meeting with his counterpart, Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triet. "You need to address the problem of containers moving in and out of your main ports."
Vietnam's economy, which grew more than 8 per cent in 2007, has begun to run into bottlenecks as its transportation infrastructure proves inadequate to rising volumes of exports.
A report delivered last December by Paul Hoogwaerts of the shipping firm Maersk International warned that Vietnam needed immediate investment in roads and container ports near the southern economic capital of Ho Chi Minh City.
The report said failure to meet road construction deadlines in the next two years would have a "serious impact on Vietnam's long-term economic growth and development."
Nathan also warned of the need for greater economic integration among South-East Asian countries in order to compete with the vast markets of India and China. "Unless we develop ASEAN as an area of 500 million people and an integrated society, foreign investment will move away from us," Nathan said.
Triet said Singapore's high level of economic development served as a model for Vietnam.
"Singapore's development is very important in encouraging many other economies to develop, including Vietnam."
Vietnamese government officials regularly travel to the city-state for study tours on economic management and anti-corruption efforts.
Singapore is the second-largest source of foreign direct investment in Vietnam after South Korea, with 10.6 billion dollars. Bilateral trade between the two countries reached 8.6 billion dollars in 2007. Trade between Vietnam and the US, its largest export market, was 12.2 billion dollars.
Nathan said Singaporean firm CapitaLand, the largest real estate developer in Southeast Asia, planned to sign deals with Vietnamese investors during his trip.