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Vietnam's FDI pledges dip, but actual inflows jump in 2015

[HANOI] Foreign investors in 2015 pledged to invest a total of US$15.58 billion in Vietnam, a drop of 0.4 per cent from the previous year, a government agency said on Wednesday.

The actual foreign direct investment (FDI) inflow, however, jumped 17.4 per cent this year to a record of US$14.5 billion, the Foreign Investment Department said in a report. The figures from the agency, under the Planning and Investment Ministry, confirmed earlier government data.

Nearly 70 per cent of the new investment pledges are for the processing industry, followed by the energy and property sectors, the report said.

South Korea retains its ranking as the biggest foreign investor in Vietnam, followed by Malaysia, the report said.

Major projects include an increase of US$3 billion to display module production by a unit of Samsung Electronics and the US$2.4 billion coal-fired power plant to be built by Malaysian firm Janakuasa.

Earlier on Wednesday, the government published a list of 17 business sectors that are open to foreign investors, with some conditions, in a bid to improve the investment environment.

FDI inflows, along with overseas remittances, are important sources of foreign exchange for Vietnam to help stabilise the currency, the dong, and to offset the country's trade deficit, estimated at US$3.17 billion this year.

Vietnam reverted to a deficit in its trade balance this year after three years of surpluses. The trade deficit is expected to widen to between US$4 billion and US$6 billion in 2016, based on projections by a government think tank and the trade ministry.

Overseas remittances are forecast to rise 7.7 per cent next year to US$14 billion, the National Financial Supervisory Commission said in a report released earlier this week.