panasoniclogo.jpgJapanese electronics giant Panasonic plans to set up
a research centre in Vietnam, a country which is following in the
footsteps of China in its ambition to attract investment from
technology multinationals.

The country is starting from zero, and no-one is saying that Vietnam
is yet close to challenging China in terms of the size of FDI it
attracts from foreign tech firms.

But it is revealing that Panasonic has spurned the well-known
attractions and geographic proximity of China to locate its new centre
further afield in Vietnam, although Panasonic, like other Japanese
electronics firms, already has a well-established presence in China,
specifically in Dalian and Guangdong.

“Vietnam has the potential to become the second China, where the
open socialist economy could create a larger market rather than just
serving as a producing centre, ” said a company spokesman.

Panasonic recently set up two manufacturing plants in Vietnam, one
making hi-tech products like cordless phones and PBXs, the other
churning out components.

The Japanese firm will invest $500,000 to create the R&D
facility in Hanoi, which will focus on R&D for digital home
appliances as well as the design and development of software.

The company will send Japanese technicians to train workers and
start a software development course at the Hanoi University of
Technology. The initial workforce of 19 is predicted to reach 50 by
2009.

IBM also recently opened a facility in Vietnam — see this EngagingChina story for more.

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