​Vietnam briefs investors on proposed key features of special economic zones

Investors will be permitted to lease land for up to 99 years and operate casinos

Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyen Chi Dung speaks at the M&A Forum in Ho Chi Minh City on August 10, 2017.

The three special administrative and economic zones Vietnam plans to develop will incorporate truly specific policies and mechanisms, such as legalized casino operations and longer land leasing terms, in order to attract international investors, the country’s investment minister shared at a forum on Thursday.

The special zones – Phu Quoc, Van Don, and Van Phong – will function as a new model for the Southeast Asian country to stimulate growth and lure foreign investment, said Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyen Chi Dung at the 2017 M&A Forum in Ho Chi Minh City.

The Phu Quoc special administrative and economic zone will be developed on the namesake island off the southern province of Kien Giang, whereas the Van Don zone will be located in the northern province of Quang Ninh, and the Van Phong zone will be developed in the south-central province of Khanh Hoa.

Vietnam’s government passed a resolution granting in-principal approval for the plan in December 2016.

The three administrative and economic zones will each incorporate a set of specific policies and mechanisms into its development guidelines relating to land use, immigration, finance-banking, and infrastructure development. 

These guidelines will be used as a vehicle to develop each area to its fullest potential and create a magnet for international investment.

Vietnam has also geared up efforts to create specific laws governing special administrative and economic zones, with the investment minister briefing the forum attendees on the most recent updates.

Laws relating to special administrative and economic zones will allow the areas to function with “advanced and greater constitutions than other domestic localities, and compete with international peers,” Dung underlined.

The special economic zones promise to create a new playground for international businesses to freely develop their investments, according to the minister.

One of the key proposals of the draft law is that the People’s Council, the law-making and supervision organ of Vietnam’s cities, districts, and provinces, will not have jurisdiction over Van Phong, Van Don, and Phu Quoc.

“There will be only an Administrative Committee governing these special economic zones,” Dung elaborated.

“Law-making and supervision tasks will the duty of the People’s Council in the respective provinces where they are located.”

This organization will ensure smooth paperwork for investors by removing unnecessary intermediate stages from the process.

The investment ministry has also suggested that investors in the special economic zones be permitted to lease land for up to 99 years, compared to the current limit of 50 years, or 75 years for certain exclusive cases.

“A 99-year term will help the Vietnamese economic and administrative zones stay competitive with their international peers,” Dung said.

The three special economic zones will also allow casino operations, another scheme Vietnam hopes will help lure foreign investors.

“The three special areas will of course not house only gambling facilities but also other economic sectors, depending on their own conditions,” Dung noted.

“For instance, Van Phong, one of Vietnam’s busiest transit seaports, could focus on logistic development and Van Don on healthcare, education, and biology.”

The investment ministry is waiting for approval from the law-making National Assembly for its propositions.

“We want to make real changes and these models are proposed using lessons taken from other international special economic and administrative zones,” the minister said.

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