Japan and the United States are eager to invest in Vietnam’s infrastructure projects

Vietnam’s plans for building and expanding its airports, seaports roadways and other parts of its infrastructure have attracted the interest of companies in the Japan and the United States.

Tsukasa Akimoto, Japan’s Secretary of State, recently had a meeting with Vietnam’s Deputy Minister of Transport, Nguyen Ngoc Dong, and said that many Japanese investors are eyeing key transport projects in Vietnam. He said that Japanese companies are especially interested in the Long Thanh International Airport project and the planned high-speed, north-south railway project.

Layout plan for Long Thanh terminal – Photo courtesy of the Airports Corporation of Vietnam

Joel Szabat, Deputy Assistant Secretary in the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of Aviation and International Affairs, said the United States wants to strengthen ties with Vietnam in the transport infrastructure area, especially airports and seaports.

In a meeting with Le Dinh To, Vietnam’s Deputy Minister of Transport, Szabat said that his department would facilitate investment by U.S. companies in Vietnam’s infrastructure projects in the form of public-private partnerships (PPPs), but that Vietnam needs to have open policies and policy consistency.

At the meeting with Szabat, Deputy Minister of Transport, Tho, said that Vietnam is focusing on five areas of transport infrastructure: aviation, railways, roads, waterways and network connections to boost logistics.

One of its national infrastructure projects is the $50 billion USD, North-South high-speed railway project. Instead of converting the current rail to an express line, which is considered not only infeasible but also costly, the project will upgrade the existing railway and simultaneously build high-speed rail in connection with the current one. With the country’s railway network being obsolete, there is need for an upgrade to both its long-distance and inner-city railways.

High-speed railways are part of Vietnam’s future

Deputy Minister of Transport, Tho, said that, “Our ministry is considering feasibility studies for the north-south high-speed railway. The transport ministry is set to report on the high-speed railway to the National Assembly next year.”

Additionally, the Ministry of Transport is now consulting various agencies for a feasibility study for the Long Thanh airport in southern Dong Nai Province. The Long Thanh airport feasibility study is still undergoing design modifications and is expected to receive approvals in 2019. 

Vietnam has 21 airports, eight of which receive international flights and the country’s major airports in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City are receiving more visitors than the designs call for and are in need of immediate upgrades. In order to meet rising demand for air services, the government plans to build, expand and upgrade airports across the country. 

The ministry recently approved changes to the upgrade plans for Tan Son Nhat Airport, including the addition of a third terminal and a 250-hectare expansion of the airport, expanding it to 791 hectares in size

French consulting firm ADPi’s proposal on Tan Son Nhat expansion includes new terminal in the 
south and supporting structures north of the airport – Graph courtesy of ADPi

Tan Son Nhat airports expansion will include upgrades to terminals 1 and 2 and a new terminal 3 as well as increased cargo areas and aircraft parking spaces. 

When completed, the three terminals will give the airport the capability to handle 50 million visitors per year. The original design capacity for Tan Son Nhat is 25 million passengers a year, and the airport is straining to handle its current load 36 million visitors so relief against overcrowding at the airport is desperately needed.

Representatives from Japan and the United States, when meeting with Vietnamese government officials have stressed in their meetings that their countries are willing to invest in these projects and that the government should do everything possible to speed up its plans for these projects so that funding for the projects can be put in place.