British Consulate General Ho Chi Minh City
UK expertise is helping to stimulate increased interest in Canary Wharf as a model for Thu Thiem, Ho Chi Minh City’s future financial district. We are also promoting UK export financing and Public-Private Partnership experience to support major infrastructure projects such as the 2019 Asian Games in Hanoi.
On a bend in the Saigon River lies Thu Thiem (pron: Too tee-em), a plot of land where Ho Chi Minh City’s municipal government plans to develop a new financial district. At present it remains an undeveloped marshy peninsula. We have identified the development of Thu Thiem as a high value opportunity (HVO). Several British construction, development, architecture and professional services companies already established in Vietnam have shown interest. Under our initiative they have joined together in an “urban development working group” and registered their interest in the project development to the People’s Committee (HCMCPC).
Thu Thiem is similar in topography to the Isle of Dogs in London. Experience of the Canary Wharf development there gives the UK an opportunity to engage more closely with key decision-makers on this project. In February we arranged for HCMCPC Vice-Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Hong to visit London, where she met with the Canary Wharf Group (CWG). This appeared to stimulate real interest in the Canary Wharf model, and Howard Dawber, Strategic Advisor at CWG followed it up with a visit to HCMC from 27-28 August. At a widely reported round table discussion involving Hong as well as officials from the Thu Thiem Corporation, he compared the Canary Wharf experience with the challenges at Thu Thiem, and offered cost-free mentoring by CWG.
Hong’s visit to London also promoted an offer by the People’s Committee to fund a visit to Vietnam by Infrastructure UK. From 4-5 September, Claire Philips, Director of Local Partnerships and Ali Sherwani, Head, Business Development at UK Export Finance (UKEF) visited HCMC to promote UK expertise in PPP delivery as well as the potential for project finance. At a workshop in HCMC attended by over 100 officials, Philips shared UK experience and Sherwani spoke about the use of ECA finance to support infrastructure projects internationally.
In Hanoi, the visitors were able to present the UK offer to central government, including the Ministries of Planning and Investment, Finance, and Construction. Officials from the PPP Office within MPI, which in principle acts as a central point of coordination, were keen to draw upon UK expertise. Sherwani set out to the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism how UK export finance might also support preparations for the 2019 Asian Games, another of our HVOs. The Ministry expressed interest in exploring this further as planning developed.
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