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PM kicks off UK tour with $1 billion in deals   2008-03-05 - VNS

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung began his visit to the United Kingdom with a meeting with Lord Mayor of London David Lewis and by witnessing the signing of deals worth US$1 billion between UK and Vietnamese businesses.

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung addresses financial experts in the City of London yesterday. — VNA/VNS Duc Tam

LONDON— Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung began his visit to the United Kingdom with a meeting with Lord Mayor of London David Lewis and by witnessing the signing of deals worth US$1 billion between UK and Vietnamese businesses.

The deals included a reciprocal agreement between PetroVietnam and the UK-based exploration and production company, Salamander, under which PetroVietnam would take a working interest as a partner in Salamader’s Block operation and Salamander would take a working interest as a partner in PetroVietnam’s Champasak and Sanravan Block operation;

An additional agreement was struck between PetroVietnam and oil and gas company Soco International under which PetroVietnam would take over Soco exploration acreage in the Republic of Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Among other contracts signed, Standard Chartered Bank agreed to provide funding to Viet Nam’s Incombank that would enable it to achieve the minimum capital holdings required for equitisation, while Bao Viet and Lilama asigned agreements respectively with HSBC and Mott MacDonald on consultancy and training.

Meeting the Lord Mayor

In his meeting with Lewis, Dung said that he was delighted to visit the City of London financial centre and said finance and banking played an important role in socio-economic development in Viet Nam. The sector had much undeveloped potential in Viet Nam, he added.

Viet Nam’s Government was exerting every effort to develop a safe and effective banking and financial system to meet the demand for fast but sustainable development of the national economy, Dung said.

Dung applauded the co-operation between the London financial centre and UK financial institutions with Vietnamese partners in the past few years, saying the co-operation had brought practical results for both countries. He said Viet Nam hoped to receive support from the London financial centre and from UK financial institutions in the training of banking and financial professionals.

Viet Nam would continue to create favourable conditions for financial institutions to expand and increase their effectiveness, said Dung, and to that end Viet Nam had agreed to licence the establishment of wholly-foreign invested banks by HSBC and UK-based Standard Chartered in Viet Nam.

Lewis noted the economic achievements of Viet Nam, especially in developing its financial markets. He said the City of London looked to co-operate more effectively with Viet Nam in this area.

Speaking at another meeting with Lewis and businesses at the London financial centre, Dung said Viet Nam had established friendly relations with the UK, especially in trade, investment and education.

Bilateral trade in 2007 was nearly US$1.7 billion, an increase of 21 per cent compared over 2006. UK investors have licensed 100 investment projects in Viet Nam with a capital of nearly $1.5 billion, ranking third among EU countries investing in Viet Nam.

About 6,000 Vietnamese students were studying in the UK, noted Dung.

Viet Nam would do its best to bring relations with the UK in commerce, trade, investment, culture, education and science to a new height, he added. Viet Nam was already creating every possible condition to faciliate investment. Foreign investors were an integral part of Viet Nam’s economy and would be treated as equal to domestic businesses, Dung said.

Overcoming hurdles

At an earlier meeting with UK leading financial and investment experts, Dung said Viet Nam remained a developing country with low income and facing many difficulties and challenges despite its achievements.

He cited the low level of competitiveness of the national economy, lack of skilled human resources, and high inflation rate as obstacles.

Even though faced with these difficulties and challenges, Dung said Viet Nam was intensifying its efforts to escape from poverty and achieve an average income of more than $1,000 per capita per year by 2010.

The Government was implementing measures to control inflation and draw investment to development projects, Dung said.

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