HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc on Tuesday urged Japan to invest more in the Southeast Asian country to become its top foreign investor.
Speaking at a conference of business leaders from both countries also attended by visiting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Phuc said Vietnam would like to see Japan invest more in infrastructure, agriculture, manufacturing and services.
"At this meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, we wish that Japan would be the largest (foreign) investor to Vietnam, not other countries," Phuc said.
South Korea is Vietnam's largest foreign investor with total investments of $50 billion, followed by Japan with $42 billion.
Phuc said the Vietnamese people and businesses have high levels of trust for Japanese businesses, adding that Abe, on his third visit to Vietnam as prime minister, is a close friend of Vietnamese people.
Abe told the conference that after talks with Phuc on Monday, the countries had agreed to expand trade and investment, and improve the investment environment.
"Currently, ASEAN is the center for growth in the world and Vietnam is part of that center," Abe said, referring to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
He said more than 1,600 Japanese companies are operating in Vietnam, urged Phuc and the Vietnamese government to continue to support them.
Abe, accompanied by executives from 76 Japanese companies, was wrapping up a four-nation tour to push Japan's trade and security engagements in the region amid rising China's dominance in Asia.
He previously visited the Philippines, Australia and Indonesia.
On Monday, Abe pledged to provide Vietnam with new patrol vessels to improve its maritime law-enforcement capabilities. Japan has already provided Vietnam with six used patrol boats.
Vietnam and Japan both have separate maritime disputes with China — with Vietnam in the South China Sea and Japan in the East China Sea.