Taiwan’s investment in Vietnam totaled US$644.81 million (NT$19.56 billion) in the first quarter of this year. Total foreign investment in the Southeast Asian nation increased 77.6% from the same period last year to US$7.71 billion.
Only South Korea, Singapore and Mainland China had greater investment in Vietnam in the quarter. Foreign investors from 71 countries and regions invested or expanded their investment in Vietnam, with South Korea investing US$3.74 billion.
In the first three months of this year, foreign investors invested mainly in Vietnamese processing and manufacturing and real estate industries, with investment amounts of $6.54 billion and $436.69 million, respectively.
In addition, Vietnam accounted for 15.7% of Taiwan’s exports to ASEAN in January. Exports to ASEAN totaled US$4.4 billion in the month, up 11.3% from the same month last year.
Vietnam is one of the countries mentioned as part of the government’s New Southbound Policy that seeks to attract better ties to nearby nations. The policy includes easing the tourist visa process for many citizens around South and Southeast Asia in an effort to reverse the effects of the shortfall in Mainland Chinese tourist arrivals which has fallen by almost 50%.
Not everyone in Vietnam has been satisfied with Taiwan’s investments in the country, as some have caused major problems related to labor law and the environment.
For instance, Formosa Ha Tinh Steel Corp. (台塑河靜鋼鐵), a unit of Taiwan conglomerate Formosa Plastics Group, caused one of the worst environmental disasters in since the end of the Vietnam War. The steel factory caused a chemical spill that killed fish and marine life along a 200-kilometer stretch of coastline in central Vietnam in April last year. The company issued a public apology and paid US$500 million to the Vietnamese government in compensation.