Vietnam rising

Competition for foreign direct investment (FDI) has become tighter among the 10 member-states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean). Latest data from London-based Financial Times shows the Philippines at fifth place, with an FDI value of $8.5 billion in 2015.

Indonesia was way ahead of the Asean pack, capturing $38.5 billion worth of capital investments. It was followed by Vietnam, $21.1 billion; Malaysia, $13.4 billion; and Myanmar, $10.8 billion. Countries that captured the largest share of FDIs were those least exposed to the stagnation of the Chinese economy. In 2014, Vietnam topped the FDI list with $23.8 billion, while the Philippines was at sixth place with $7.0 billion, edging out Myanmar at $4.8 billion.

Veteran Filipino economist Gerardo Sicat observed that Vietnam’s rapid growth, averaging close to 8 percent per year, was due to high FDI inflows. In his study published last year, he observed: “this became possible when, despite its economic system of state enterprise control (a feature of communism), the government allowed a liberal opening of the economy to the world, to FDIs, and to rely on the market mechanism to propel its growth process.”

Sicat said Vietnam’s main sources of FDI investments are Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, China and Asean. “In the short time from the late 1990s, Vietnam’s policy of inviting FDIs has succeeded well,” said the Philippines’ first economic planning secretary.