Vietnam and Qatar in $1bn joint fund deal

Gulf Times | Tuesday, 2 September, 2008

By Arvind Nair

Qatar and Vietnam have signed an agreement to set up a joint fund with a capital of $1bn to facilitate investments in both countries.

Phung The Long, ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary of Vietnam in Doha, said Qatar’s contribution to the fund, through Qatar Investment Authority, would be $900mn and the balance by Vietnam.

So far, there wasn’t any major Qatari project in Vietnam. “Now, it is the time for study and we are looking for opportunities”. The two countries have discussed co-operation in agriculture. Already, “we have exchanged ideas about setting up an animal farm for breeding cattle and lambs.”

For agriculture farming, Vietnam “is a very good country”. The land is very fertile, and the farmers very hard working. “We like to have co-operation in this field. Qatar can provide the finance to grow food grains in our land and these can be exported to Qatar”.

The governments have established the legal framework for joint ventures. But the actual implementation of plans will depend on entrepreneurs in both the countries “though we wanted to speed up things”.

Phung said Vietnam welcomed foreign direct investment (FDI) in different areas like industry, real estate, tourism, service industry and telecommunication.

He pointed out Vietnam was a good investment destination. During the first half of this year, the GDP grew at a rate of “more than 6.5% and we think we will be able to achieve our target of 7% by the end of the year”.

Currently, bilateral trade is “minimal” and amountd to just $30mn, with the balance favouring Qatar which exported fertilisers to Vietnam worth $20mn. Hanoi exports mainly agriculture produce, furniture, footwear and electronic products. For instance, he said, Samsung’s slim TV was made in his country.

Since the Vietnam embassy was established in March this year, the ambassador said, bilateral relations were developing rapidly. There had been a lot of high-level exchange of visits, including one by Qatar’s Prime Minister and Foreign Minister HE Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Jabor al-Thani to Hanoi last April.

The two countries have signed various agreements including one on labour co-operation, another on economy, culture, science and technology, and a third one on commerce and industry.

A new agreement on protection of investment and avoidance of double taxation was being discussed. This could lead to a Qatari bank setting up a branch in Hanoi, he said.

He categorically said a recent media report on cannibalism by some Vietnamese men in Doha had had no impact on bilateral relations. “Everyone knew it was someone’s imagination and a false and baseless report. The paper which printed the story ran a correction too. Since it is a false report, we don’t care much about it”.

He said he was not aware of the court case against the concerned newspapers and reporters.

Phung added that “our workers are living in camps together with people from other countries. We are like other Asians, our traditions are similar. So, no one will believe the report”.

Currently, there are some 8,000 Vietnamese working in Qatar. Though both sides wanted increased labour co-operation, it depended on the choice of individual workers, he said.

He did not expect this number of increase dramatically since unemployment was not a major issue in his country. Some 70% to 80% of the people depended on agriculture and any unemployment was only seasonal. Besides, the country was currently experiencing an economic boom.

He said currently not many Qatari tourists visited Vietnam. But, now that the embassy had been established here, “we will work gradually to promote tourism” to Vietnam, which had great scenery and good beaches.

Original source: Gulf Times

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