Vietnam, once seen as on its way to joining economic tigers Taiwan and South Korea, has seen foreign investment decline sharply amid labor problems, crumbling roads, and the global financial crisis.
Bein Hoa, Vietnam
Vietnam's economic future is on the rocks.
Foreign firms in this ramshackle but once booming factory district just outside Ho Chi Minh City are watching bottom lines and studying other markets closely, both of which have become threats to Vietnam's economic growth.
But after the global financial crisis, foreign direct investment pledges fell from $66.5 billion in 2009 to $20 billion in 2010. Now, the number of foreigners leaving Vietnam slightly exceeds those entering, contrasting a 4-to-1 ratio favoring arrivals in 2008, says Ralf Matthaes, regional managing director with market research firm TNS Global.
Nightclub clientele has dropped, foreign patrons say, bubble tea shops popular with Taiwanese business people have closed, and Bien Hoa’s four-star hotel is barely half full.
“Most foreign firms will wait,” says Nguyen Xuan Thanh, public policy director with the Fulbright Economics teaching program in Ho Chi Minh City. “Of course some will choose [to invest] elsewhere. There are serious structural problems [in Vietnam]." He adds that there's some concern among investors about whether Vietnam will ever return to the type of growth it once knew.
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