TOKYO (AFP) — Vietnam's Communist Party chief on Tuesday pledged to make his country more attractive for Japanese investors, speaking on a four-day visit to boost ties.
"We would like to increase our country's appeal as an investment destination," said the ruling party's general secretary Nong Duc Manh, who met with Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso late Monday.
"I heartily welcome Japanese companies' investment in Vietnam," he told a luncheon with Japanese business leaders, referring to ongoing bilateral talks on investment rules in Vietnam and a trade pact signed in December.
Manh and Aso issued a joint statement which called on Japan to further promote investment in Vietnam, while asking Hanoi to improve the investment environment.
Japan is Vietnam's second-largest trade partner after China and the Southeast Asian country's second-largest export market after the United States.
Nobuo Katsumata, chairman of both the Japan Foreign Trade Council and trading house Marubeni Corp., said "we can invest in Vietnam with a sense of safety, because the country is full of rich human resources."
"We have to point out that the Vietnamese and the Japanese have something in common in their national characters," he said. "Vietnamese people are very diligent."
More than 800 Japanese companies have invested a total of 17 billion dollars in Vietnam over the years, he said.
Vietnam's economy grew by 6.18 percent last year, its lowest level in almost a decade. The World Bank has projected 5.5 percent expansion for Vietnam in 2009, a better rate than most Asian economies amid the global downturn.
Japan and Vietnam signed an economic partnership pact in December with a promise to cut tariffs on some 92 percent of goods and services traded between the two nations within a decade.