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Foreign direct investment in Vietnam triples in 2008: gov't

HANOI -- Foreign investors promised US$64 billion to Vietnam in 2008, more than three times the US$20.3 billion pledged last year, the government said Friday.

The flow of foreign direct investments (FDI) in Vietnam, a member of the World Trade Organization since 2007, has increased steadily over the past few years. In 2008, the amount of actually disbursed capital soared to US$11.5 billion, up 43.2 percent compared with 2007, said an online report from the Hanoi-based Foreign Investment Agency (FIA).

Vietnam relies heavily on FDI. The foreign-invested sector created more than 200,000 jobs in 2008 and employs 1.4 million people, according to the FIA.

But the communist country's economy, which relies on exports, has already started to feel the effects of the international economic turmoil. And experts warn that the flow of FDI could slow down in 2009.

“It is certain that we will see a decline in FDI registration next year due to the global economic crisis,” Phan Huu Thang, head of the Planning and Investment Ministry's Foreign Investment Department, told the police newspaper An Ninh Thu Do this week.

“Maybe we can reach US$20 billion (in pledged FDI), and that would already be a high result,” he added. However, “so far, I have received no sign from any foreign investor asking to pull out of any project due to the crisis.”

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