Vietnam bumps Thailand down to third place in survey of interest among Japanese businesses

by Kazuaki Nagata

Staff Writer

Interest in Vietnam among Japanese companies continues to grow, boosting the Southeast Asian country to the second spot, right behind China, for the first time in the Japan External Trade Organization’s ranking of countries and areas favorable for business expansion, according to a fiscal 2017 survey by the organization.

In the survey, disclosed Wednesday, 37.5 percent of 938 companies that have at least one business base overseas and have plans to expand their global operations chose Vietnam on a multiple-choice questionnaire.

The results were up from 34.1 percent in the fiscal 2016 survey and show the increasing interest in the country, especially compared to the 20.3 percent seen in fiscal 2011.

“The Vietnamese economy is in good shape now and the middle class population has been increasing, which has led to growing consumption,” said Hiroshi Yoneyama, director of JETRO’s international economy division.

Because of that, many service industry firms have hopes for the Vietnamese market, with trade and wholesale business also enthusiastic about the country’s potential.

Responses were received from 1,261 companies for another question in the survey, which accepted multiple answers, that asked the firms to choose the most appealing points of Vietnam: 82.2 percent identified the size of the country’s market, up from 75 percent in fiscal 2013.

While the latest fiscal 2017 survey figures show that interest in China dipped to 49.4 percent from 52.3 percent, the world’s second largest economy was still ranked number one.

Thailand, which had ranked second until the fiscal 2016 survey, was bumped down to third.

The United States remained in fourth place, but the proportion of firms interested in the nation’s potential decreased to 29 percent from 33.5 percent, signaling what would appear to be growing concerns over the economic policies of U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration.

The poll was conducted on a total 9,981 companies looking into overseas business opportunities. Valid responses were received from 3,195 firms between Nov. 17 to Jan. 5.