Hanoi is Vietnam’s capital and second largest city, with eight million people living in the metropolitan area as of 20191.
It is also home to some of Vietnam’s largest conglomerates, including Vingroup, T&T Group, and DOJI Gold & Gems, and one of the country’s top FDI destinations.
Looking ahead, Hanoi is being primed as a hub of innovation. The launch of the National Innovation Center at the Hoa Lac Hi-Tech Park in January 2021 is an example of the government’s efforts towards this.
1 General Statistics Office of Vietnam, extracted 12 Jan 2021
Home to one of Vietnam’s two stock exchanges and many international and national banks, Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) is Vietnam’s financial hub.
It also aspires to be Vietnam’s first smart city. In 2020, the National Assembly approved the establishment of Thu Duc City, a city within a city in HCMC, to drive the development of an innovative urban area.
Other developments in the pipeline include a shared database supported by an open data ecosystem; a smart city operations and control centre; socioeconomic forecasts and simulation; and information safety centres8.
HCMC is also becoming a key innovation and technology hub in Vietnam. Strong government support and abundant tech talent have drawn a steady stream of startups and investors to the city. Recruitment companies from Singapore, such as Glints and FETCH Technology, have also set up offices in HCMC to help companies tap the pool of talent in the city.
2 “Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh Is On The Path To Becoming A Globalized Smart City”, Techwire Asia, 18 Sep 2020
Da Nang, which houses the country’s third largest seaport, is typically known as the transport and logistics hub of central Vietnam. However, it is now poised to become a smart city with improved industry capabilities as well.
Singapore companies Surbana Jurong and Sakae Corporate Advisory Services are working with the Da Nang authorities to develop and review the city’s economic development strategy and smart city masterplan. This means investment opportunities for companies in the infrastructure development and sustainable urban solutions sectors.
With its pristine beaches and proximity to Hoi An, a UNESCO heritage site, Da Nang is also a tourist hotspot, prompting many international hotel chains to set up shop over the past few years. As Da Nang continues to draw tourists, demand for hospitality-related services will grow, creating more opportunities for hospitality players.
One of the five major cities in Vietnam with direct railway connection to Hanoi and strategically located on the main economic corridor along the north-eastern coastal area, Hai Phong is a key import and export gateway in the northern region. In 2019, Hai Phong port handled 129.2 million tonnes of goods, up 18.51% from the previous year3.
Its connectivity is set to improve further, with local authorities investing in developing transport infrastructure. For example, the new Van Don-Mong Cai expressway will help to reduce the trucking time between Hanoi and Dongxing port in China to three hours4.
The expressway will also connect Hai Phong to Mong Cai and its industrial zones, and the Van Don International Airport at Ha Long, enabling the delivery of time-sensitive components.
Hai Phong’s proximity to China also positions it as an attractive base in ASEAN for manufacturers adopting a “China Plus One” strategy. Global manufacturing giants, such as Germany’s ZF Friedrichshafen and South Korea’s LG and Samsung, and domestic conglomerates, such as Vingroup, Sun Group and Gelexmico, have therefore invested in Hai Phong.
3 “Hai Phong Continues To Be Magnet For Investors”, Vietnam Plus, 14 Jan 2020
4 “Vietnam’s Rising Power: Hai Phong “The Shenzhen of Vietnam”, Golden Emperor, 5 Nov 2020
The province is one of the most developed industrial hubs in southern Vietnam. It is also one of the country’s top FDI destinations, behind only Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. By September 2019, Binh Duong had already received US$9.7 billion in foreign investments, exceeding its 2016-2020 goal of US$7 billion5.
Binh Duong derives two-thirds of its gross regional domestic product from industrial activities – mainly furniture, apparel and textile, wood products, metal, and plastic manufacturing.
The province not only leads the country in terms of infrastructure quality, but is also well connected, with quick access to Cat Lai port, Cai Mep deep-water port, and Tan Son Nhat International Airport.
5 “Binh Duong Surpassing FDI Attraction Targets”, Vietnam Investment Review, 19 Nov 2019