There is only one month left until the APEC Economic Leaders’ Week 2017, hosted by the central city of Danang. Danang has been preparing for the event for a year, paying special attention to investment promotion events for the week, and the Invest Danang 2017 Forum which will open the week. Danang People’s Committee
Vice Chairman Nguyen Ngoc Tuan talks to VIR’s Phuong Linh about the city’s preparations so far.
Hosting the APEC Economic Leaders’ Week 2017 (AELW) is a tremendous opportunity for Danang. What has the city been doing to welcome the event?
First, Danang is aiming at building a reputation as a hospitable and civilised city before, during, and after AELW 2017. Recently, the Danang Department of Tourism launched a campaign called “Danang smile” in order to widely spread the image of our amiable and friendly locals. Accordingly, every citizen can be considered a tourism ambassador, making a good impression on foreigners.
Another sector that the city is concentrating on is investment attraction. Danang is going to hold the Invest Danang 2017 Forum on October 14-15 with the participation of governmental leaders as well as national and international businesses. Leveraging this occasion, Danang will express its wishes, potentials, and development visions for the future.
More importantly, in preparing for this event, the city is deciding on which key projects are in need of investment promotion. So when meeting up with the 21 leaders of APEC as well as business leaders in AELW 2017, Danang can demonstrate these projects and enhance their chances of finding the most appropriate investors.
How can Danang support local enterprises and authorities of other localities who want to attend events in the framework of AELW 2017?
Danang will create favourable conditions for them to meet up with CEOs from member economies. However, these CEOs who accompany APEC leaders will have quite limited time. Hence, business leaders have to be cautious and conscious to achieve the best benefits from meeting these decision-makers. This year’s APEC CEO Summit is expected to see the participation of approximately 1,000 CEOs. Authorities of 63 cities and provinces of Vietnam will also be attending the event. Enterprises wishing to participate in this activity must pay $3,000 to buy a ticket.
Could you please give us more details about Danang’s current preparations to successfully host AELW 2017?
The city recognised quickly that hosting AELW 2017 is a great responsibility as well as a golden opportunity for Danang and Vietnam, to promote the country’s reputation. Thus, along with allocating state funds for infrastructure, a shift in the infrastructure investment structure from state funding to private investment was also very important as an alternative to give a fresh boost to infrastructure development, as well as providing the private sector with the chance to play its own role.
Construction projects for AELW 2017 using state funds include the conversion of the Danang International Exhibition Fair Centre into Danang International Media Centre, with enough capacity to house more than 1,000 domestic and foreign journalists; an upgrade to the Tuyen Son Sports Complex, where a gala dinner for the CEO Summit will take place; and upgrades to 21 major roads to welcome the 21 leaders. These projects have been completed.
Some capital is also being spent on upgrading internal roads and technical infrastructure facilities in the InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort, which is one of the venues selected to host a number of activities during AELW 2017. Knowing the importance of this venue, the investor has conducted the work with great care in every detail. Ariyana Danang Exhibition and Convention Centre, the location for the 2017 APEC CEO Summit, is also well prepared for the upcoming event.
Another project is the APEC sculpture garden, built near the Museum of Cham Sculpture. This garden is going to feature symbols of the 21 member economies. The sculptures displayed in this garden will be collected from each member. Additionally, this will be the location for the 21 leaders’ spouses to plant commemorative trees after visiting the Museum of Cham Sculpture. The garden is expected to become a meaningful and popular tourist attraction in the future.
Danang catches investors’ attention
Danang is considered to be one of the most liveable cities in Vietnam. VIR speaks to business leaders about investment opportunities in this engine of the central region’s development.
Hong Sun - Vice chairman, Korean Chamber of Business (KorCham)
Currently, the south-central city of Danang is considered to be one of the most liveable cities in Vietnam. That’s why Danang has attracted a great deal of foreign direct investment (FDI), including Korean investment.
Danang has a very convenient geographical position, which is located in the middle of the country. The city is the central region’s development hub, with relatively developed infrastructure and relatively low costs. Thus, we have always regarded the city as a good investment destination, and also want to seek more investment opportunities here.
We know that Danang is focused on calling for investment into the sectors of high technology and manufacturing and processing, which are also strengths for Korean enterprises.
Furthermore, direct flights from South Korea to Danang have grown in number, making it convenient for investors and firms of both countries to cement their co-operation. Besides, Danang’s government has been creating good conditions for enterprises, with simplified procedures and policies. This has helped the city attract a great volume of foreign investment over the past few years.
I do believe that in the time to come, Danang’s business and investment climate will continue to be improved, and the city will be able to attract more investors. We also hope that we can make bigger contributions to Danang’s strong development in the future.
Don Lam - Co-founder and CEO, VinaCapital Group
International arrivals to Vietnam are increasing significantly and a lot of growth is coming to the centre of Vietnam. This is thanks to more connecting flights coming in, logistics opening up, and a huge international airport opening in Danang. Three years ago, I was able to get a room in the city for $75 a night, but now the price is much higher. Most of the rooms in Danang cost more than $150.
Central Vietnam is becoming a hub mainly because of the critical scale of rooms. More flights means more need for rooms. The next few years will be exciting. In Hoi An, we are building a large integrated casino and resort complex which will feature hotels, a golf course, and a casino. The project is slated to be put into operation in 2019 and will help the region gain traction. We are upbeat about the whole central region of Vietnam.
Tran Ngoc Thanh - General Director, Dat Xanh Mien Trung JSC
Danang has yet to attract the world’s leading players which would be major income sources for the local budget. The hindrances relate to the available land fund, human resources, and supportive mechanisms.
With respect to mechanisms, city leaders need to craft distinct mechanisms to attract investors, customisable to each enterprise’s development needs.
Jens Ruebbert - Chairman, European Chamber of Commerce (EuroCham)
The EU-28 alone – not counting the remaining European countries EuroCham also represents – is Vietnam’s third-largest trading partner in terms of total volume and its fifth-largest foreign investor. A strong connection is already there, but its potential is now even greater with the advent of the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA). Plugging Vietnam into the globally-connected economy must touch upon every corner of Vietnam. The central region is at the forefront of this process as a trade and investment destination.
In November 2016, EuroCham incorporated this vision in its own actions by opening its first representation outside Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City in 18 years: its Central Vietnam Chapter, based in Danang. Since then, the organisation has been co-operating with local authorities and partners, in exchanging ideas to improve the local business environment and market access in view of the coming EVFTA.
Central Vietnam is certainly a great place to invest now. European business presence in high-potential sectors in Danang is growing, with some success stories already recorded.
Larger European companies from all over the continent are present in Danang across industrial areas, but some fields are notably in the lead, with many opportunities for small- and medium-sized enterprises.
In ICT and technology, European tech companies such as Gameloft (France) and Sioux (Netherlands) have been developing strong business there.
In addition, expansion in state-of-the-art industrial process segments such as that of Mgm Technology (Germany) and Premo (Spain) is also noteworthy.
This sector definitely has room for more local trade and investment, and also technology and knowledge transfer.
Secondly, tourism and hospitality is undoubtedly a sector where the city has positioned itself well, as a leading tourist arrival and investment destination in Vietnam.
We also have many of our members in this sector who continue to expand their business. We expect more similar European companies in Danang in the near future, indicating that opportunities in tourism and hospitality are far from exhausted.
On the other hand, we hope that Danang continues to develop as a “green” and “smart” city, for which we believe many opportunities exist. Technology companies and consultancies in this field may find Danang a promising destination, also due to the openness that the local government has shown to this development approach. Green business related to renewables, energy efficiency, water and waste management, and green building, we believe, definitely enjoys a high potential in Danang.
Last but not least, there are of course sectors that are pulled by a “rising-star” city such as Danang. This is a broader perspective, but has to do with infrastructure in its broader sense, as well as transport specifically. We would also like to mention the education sector, whereby catering to growing demand for high-quality studies may pave the way for the need of new schools, higher education institutions, and partnerships with existing education providers.
Nguyen Duc Quynh - Deputy General Director, Furama Resort Danang
The central city of Danang, as a “green” and “smart” city, is attracting scores of local and foreign visitors looking for these qualities, which are hard to find elsewhere in Vietnam. I believe Danang has done all the necessary groundwork to direct development in this way.
As an example, most residents advocate the growing of trees, and travel firms have planted trees on their premises.
In the city planning, state agencies and real estate developers should dedicate space to developing a green buffer zone, not only on the ground but also in the associated aerial space. The city must also scale up efforts to keep existing lush green areas intact, such as on Son Tra Peninsula, Ba Na hill, and mountains and hills in the vicinity. On a broader level, a green city does not just feature green growth, but also encompasses a pure environment, ranging from safe drinking water to wastewater and recycled waste treatment. In this regard, Israel is looked to as a model, as their discharged wastewater is treated to be drinkable or used to raise fish and other kinds of aquaculture.
It is essential to have a long-term strategy on green city development, with a proper investment plan. Danang has yet to put in place a plan to radically tackle this issue. In many crowded residential areas there are no specific dumping sites, let alone effective treatment methods.
Green city development must be addressed in a macro-development plan, with the engagement of diverse sectors paired with growing community awareness.
Erik Billgren - General Manager, Savills Danang
Danang is right in choosing not to focus on heavy industry development, due to its negative effects on the environment and the tourism industry. Instead, it has given priority to IT development, which is cleaner compared to processing and manufacturing industries.
The consistent growth of the tourism industry and ever-increasing property transaction values attest to the fact that Danang is an ideal place to live and to travel. That is why Danang is considered the most liveable city in Vietnam.