Horasis Asia highlights Binh Duong as a magnet for foreign investors

Horasis, the global business and social organization held its Asia conference in Binh Duong from November 25 ~ 27 and more than 500 business, government and media executives from around the world convened in the Binh Duong convention center in Binh Duong New City to discuss the future of business in the news 4.0 Industrial Era.

Horasis is an independent think tank based in Zurich, Switzerland, which was established in 2005 by Frank-Jürgen Richter, its chairman. Horasis holds invitation-only meetings of global business leaders with a regional focus on China, India, and Southeast Asia. This year’s Southeast Asia conference was planned with the cooperation of the Binh Duong provincial government and Becamex IDC Corporation and the VSIP Group.

Binh Duong is one of the fastest growing provinces in Vietnam and one of the hottest investment destinations in the country. Dr. Richter, chairman of Horasis said that having everyone participate in the conference in a location outside of Ho Chi Minh City was ideal because it allowed for the participants to have stronger interactions among each other and learn about Binh Duong and investment opportunities in this key southern economic zone.

On November 27, participants who attended Horasis were taken on a tour to see for themselves what the province has done and will do to support investors. Mai Hung Dung, deputy chairman of its People’s Committee of Binh Duong said the province has become a “golden land” for business and opens its doors wide to welcome investors.

The province is located in the southern economic zone, the most vibrant business region in the country and which is growing at 1.5 times the country’s average. Just two decades ago Binh Duong was an agricultural area with modest infrastructure.

Binh Duong is now the third largest FDI destination in the country behind only Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. It is home to more than 3,400 foreign-invested projects from 64 countries and territories and trades with 200 countries and territories.

Dung told participants at the meeting that the province gives priority to investment in high-tech industries, supporting industries, IT, precision engineering, trading, and services. “I believe the combination of technological and financial advantages, international trading network and business skills of the investors and the strengths of Binh Duong will bring mutual benefit.”

Frank-Jürgen Richter, chairman of Horasis, said in a media interview that the areas that “stuck out” and drew the most attention from participants at this year’s meeting were the ICT sector and anything linked to the fourth industrial revolution, including automotive manufacturing. Dr. Richter noted the following:

• More than 50 Japanese investors and a large number of Indians came to Binh Duong seeking opportunities in IT

• Education was another sector that participants had their eyes on ~ some universities were looking to enter into partnerships for setting up a research lab or a small campus

Dr. Richter also said: “I think the future is here and our investors and participants are delighted to be here.” He said the next step now would be to follow up on the discussions, and capitalize on the enthusiasm of the participants, and turn them into action and get people into working mode to make the investments happen. Binh Duong already has very impressive infrastructure, but it also needs “soft infrastructure.”

“We have to get the people, we have to get the education, attract foreigners, offer schools for expats, and bring more lifestyle options here because in an investment development zone you need all of the services. If we call this is smart city it should not only focus on investment but also lifestyle.”

In 2016 the province began to work on the Binh Duong Smart City Scheme. The detailed plans for building the smart city are available online in a strategic program called Binh Duong Navigator 2021.

The program lists the following tasks among others: strengthening workers’ skills and education; expanding R&D activities and building a start-up eco-system; attracting more FDI in high-tech manufacturing; improving the transport and ICT infrastructure, business climate and people’s living conditions; and enhancing the province’s international co-operation.

The province aims to become a modern tier 1 city before 2020 and join the Intelligent Community Forum (ICF) before 2021, which will allow it to link up with a network of 160 smart provinces and cities around the world. Besides building the smart city, the province is also developing a smart region based on ICF standards. Binh Duong New City will be the center of the smart region and house the most important urban areas, research and educational institutions, and industrial zones.