Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung speaks at the Shangri-La Dialogue, a security summit, in Singapore. (AFP)
Having received praise from the international media over the last week for an “electrifying” speech at Shangri-La Dialogue 2013, Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has become the star of Asia’s polity. His outstanding role has strengthened the trust base for investors coming to Vietnam, and he is an indispensable leader for this emerging economy facing many challenges as a result of the global economic crisis.
Various renowned international scholars have given Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung warm praise, advocating his message of “building strategic trust” as a key to maintaining peace and promoting development.
In Vietnam’s post war era, Dung is the first leader to have exerted such influence on the international political playing field. Dung, the youngest Prime Minister of Vietnam since 1975, is, like other Vietnamese leaders, a war veteran. He is of revolutionary stock; his father demonstrated courage on numerous battlefields. He has taken on many tasks from grass roots to central government. He was previously vice minister of public security and was also the governor of the State Bank of Vietnam. His outstanding ability and vast experience enabled him to solve many critical chess traps. He made a turnaround for Vietnam.
Dung took the prime minister’s office in the face of the global economic crisis, yet Vietnam achieved economic growth of over 8 percent in 2007. Export revenue was $40 billion, an increase of 24 percent from 2005, or $2 billion beyond its target. The stock market reached the 800 level, foreign investment reached $10 billion, and the ODA commitment was $4.5 billion. Vietnam became WTO’s 150th member, and the United States offered Vietnam the Permanent Normal Trade Relation (PNTR). More importantly, political stability and social security have been relatively well maintained in Prime Minister Dung’s two terms in office. He has strongly promoted poverty alleviation and his government embraced an even more open diplomacy towards multilateral relationships. That’s why the international community has praised him as Asia’s outstanding politician.
Being a prime minister or people’s soldier, nothing is more precious and important for Prime Minister Dung than national sovereignty. During the past 30 years, from holding guns to inking signatures on important decisions that affect the country’s fate, Dung has never ignored that responsibility. Resolute but flexible, Dung’s bravery has made him an influential politician, with a persuasive voice on the Eastern Sea issue, with respect to the national stance of maintaining peace, stability, security, and safety as well as freedom of navigation. He has been persistent in solving conflicts with peaceful means. In the Shangri-La Dialogue 2013, once again his message of peace was voiced out in his vision of “building a strategic trust base.” He was enlightening in the forum whilst debating trust among nations to strength and maintain Asian security, and regional and world peace.
Showing such great desire for trust, Prime Minister Dung has also oriented investors who often look at Vietnam with a long-term view and confidence. He has consistently shown investors that they can believe in the Vietnamese government, through fiscal policy, enterprise-promoting programs, transparency in attracting investment, public administrative reform and the fight against corruption. The International Monetary Fund recently made a positive assessment of Vietnam’s macroeconomic performance and policy governance. The IMF affirmed that Vietnam’s financial sector had been re-stabilized, thanks to the State Bank’s move in providing liquidity and mergers of some weak, small banks. The current account surplus has increased by $9 billion, partly due to lower imports and a weak economy. As a result, total hard currency reserves have grown to be equivalent to more than 2.5 months of imports. Also through the IMF, Vietnam’s economic policy has been relatively successful in re-stabilizing the macroeconomy. This is witnessed in falling inflation, resulting trust in the domestic currency.
FDI capital’s inflow has increased again, especially from Korean firms. Currently, more than 1,500 Korean plants are present in Vietnam. At this moment, Korean investors are setting aside billions of dollars to invest in Vietnam through hi-tech establishments, making Vietnam a bright example for attracting foreign investment.
After completing a smartphone facility worth $1.5 billion in BacNinh, this March, Samsung has begun another capital injection of an additional $2 billion for a smartphone and high-tech devices complex in ThaiNguyen. The firm is expected to produce each year some 100 million units at this new plant. LG Electronics has also planned a project for electrical appliances and electronics in Haiphong. Recently, Heasung Vina, a camera producer for Samsung smartphones, committed $36 billion that will enable a new capacity of 25 million units per year. On May 14, Doosun Industries also received an investment license for $14 million for a high-tech printing plant, as part of another support industry for Samsung. The Chairman of the Korean Chamber of Commerce has noted there will be more companies investing in Vietnam for developing support industries for Samsung and LG.
It is no doubt that only confidence in political stability, economy and social security can hold investors’ strategic movement of foreign investment to Vietnam instead of Myanmar or the Philippines. Dung’s government has done a good job in building a trust base for investors. And Dung, an outstanding Asian leader, every day has consistently built such a trust base for his nation, through endless effort in governance as well as diplomacy. He’s a brave captain, highly experienced and ceaselessly determined in navigating Vietnam’s vessel to the great ocean.
By Lee Moon-shik
The writer is senior director of Kidmatic Co.Ltd. The opinions expressed in the article are his own. -- Ed.