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S’pore investors flock to CLMV

Mar 16. 2016
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By The Nation

SINGAPOREAN companies have built up a stronger presence in the CLMV countries in the past few years, particularly in fast-growing Vietnam and Myanmar.

CLMV countries are Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam.

To date, Singapore has invested in nearly 1,570 projects in Vietnam, ranking third among 112 countries and territories investing in that country.

Investment from Singapore in Vietnam has exceeded US$36 billion (Bt1.26 trillion) in numerous projects, including processing, technology, manufacturing, real estate, construction, transport and storage, according to Viet Nam News.

According to statistics provided by Vietnam’s Foreign Investment Agency, Singapore-based firms implemented 30 new projects and increased investment levels in six existing projects in the first two months of 2016. Total investment in newly registered projects, and additional capitalisation of existing ones, reached $470 million.

Of total investment, $15.6 billion or 43 per cent was poured into the processing and manufacturing sector. Singaporean capital is also invested in real estate ($11 billion), entertainment ($1.8 billion), construction ($1.7 billion) and transport and storage ($1.4 billion).

In Myanmar, Singapore is now the second-biggest foreign investor, with the aggregate value of permitted projects worth $12.3 billion at the end of February, or 20.56 per cent of total foreign investment flowing into the country since 1988, which was about $60 billion.

Topping the list of foreign investors by country was China, accounting for $15.45 billion or 25.79 per cent. Until 2014, Thailand had been the second-biggest source of FDI to Myanmar. It is now placed third, with $10.35 billion or 17.28 per cent, as Singapore pumped as much as $7 billion into Myanmar in 2014-15. That represented a huge increase from $775 million poured into the country in 2012-13.

Cambodia drew $298.8 million in FDI from Asean countries in 2013. Of that total, Singapore’s investment was $83.7 million. The investment value increased from $69.5 million in the previous year.

In Laos, a 2014 report from the Ministry of Planning and Investment noted that Singapore was a major investor, with total value of more than $187.76 million. That year it ranked 11th, followed by India with about $163.77 million and the United States with around $151.8 million, according to Vientiane Times.

The highest value in terms of foreign investment in 2014 was China’s with $5.29 billion, followed by Thailand in second with $4.45 billion and Vietnam in third with $3.39 billion.

The 2013-14 fiscal report showed that the value of Laos’s exports to Singapore reached $2.44 million, while imports were valued at $8.23 million.

While in Vientiane recently, Michael Aw, chief executive officer of the Singapore-based Mekong Group, said Laos was sometimes overshadowed by bigger economies in the region like Myanmar and Cambodia, but it showed potential.

Laos’s gross domestic product per capita is $1,700, higher than Myanmar at $1,200 and Cambodia at $1,000, he noted.

“Plus it has more stable political conditions, lower crime rates, a pro-business government policy and lower cost of living, making it a heaven for investors and expatriates working here,” Aw said at a partnership-agreement signing ceremony with a local insurance company in Vientiane.According to a report by Asean Secretariat, Asean member states as a group are a leading investor in the CLMV countries, which helps strengthen regional connectivity and contributed to the increase in intraregional investment. Asean investment to Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam rose by more than 75 per cent in 2013 from the previous year, attracted by wage cost differentials, market potential and opportunities.

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