• Björn Koslowski

Dong Nai: High-Flying Industry


Dong Nai is an economic powerhouse in Vietnam. Within the country’s 63 provinces and cities it ranks fourth in FDI attraction, third in GDP generation as well as sixth in GDP per capita. It has the most industrial zones in Vietnam and is also a magnet for German industrial manufacturing. Dong Nai lies right next to Vietnam’s main economic hub, Ho Chi Minh City, and its many options for business, living, education and entertainment. Recently, the province has also made huge headlines with the start of construction operations of the biggest airport project of the country: Long Thanh. We are proud to introduce this bustling industrial center to you.


Please note that this article is part of a marketing project in cooperation with KTG Industrial Nhon Trach 2


Dong Nai is located in Southeast Vietnam. It thus has a tropical climate with warm temperatures throughout the year with a dry and a rainy season. The Dong Nai river is the eponym of the province’s name. It runs from northeast to southwest through Dong Nai. In the northern-central part the river forms a reservoir called “Tri An”. With a surface area of 323 sqkm, it is the biggest inland water body of Vietnam. The western part of the province, close to Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) with the capital of “Bien Hoa” is heavily urbanized forming an “industrial belt”. However, the northern part of Dong Nai is covered by tropical forest as well as the national park of “Cat Tien”. The eastern and southern parts are largely rural. The province has a flat topography with elevations averaging 20 to 200 m. A couple of hills and mountains are doting the area. The “Nui Chua Chan” with a height of 795 meters is the tallest point of Dong Nai. The province is land-locked and bordered by six provinces, most notably HCMC in the west. However, Dong Nai is also adjacent to the industrial and logistical centers of Binh Duong (in the northwest) as well as Ba Ria – Vung Tau in the South.



Points of interest in Dong Nai



Proximity to HCMC


Dong Nai is part of the greater HCMC metropolitan area. With a population of 9 million, HCMC itself is the biggest municipality in Vietnam. However, with its surrounding provinces of Binh Duong, Long An and Dong Nai the city forms a megalopolis with roughly 16 million inhabitants contributing roughly half of Vietnam’s economic output. For many businesses HCMC is therefore the first point of entry into the country. Apart from its enormous business opportunities the city is also Vietnam’s major hub for culture and leisure. With its lively dining and party scene it is able to attract top talent from around the world. Furthermore, HCMC hosts some of the country’s best medical facilities as well as many international schools. Many foreigners reside in district 2 of the city. From here the facilities of our partner - KTG Industrial - in Dong Nai are only 40 km away. And thus, the proximity of Dong Nai to HCMC surely is a major reason why international companies choose to invest here.



Infrastructure


While a lot of provinces claim that they are “strategically well positioned” Dong Nai might say that it is the best-connected area of Vietnam.

  • Road: Currently, the two most important highways connecting Dong Nai are National Route 1A and 51. The 1A leads all the way from Ca Mau in the South over 2,300 km to Lang Son in the North. It also passes through Dong Nai, connecting it with the rest of the country. National Route 51 traverses from the provincial capital of Bien Hoa to Dong Nai’s neighboring province in the South; Ba Ria – Vung Tau and its harbor Cai Mep. A new Expressway is developed parallel to the existing 51 and will make access to Cai Mep even more convenient. It will be finished in 2025. Furthermore, from this year on the Ben Luc – Long Thanh Expressway will connect Dong Nai with the province of Long An. This connection will be part of the new North-South Expressway that will eventually be straddling from the Mekong Delta to the Chinese border. And thus, suppliers in the Greater HCMC Metropolitan Area can easily be accessed from Dong Nai. Also, shipping in and out of Vietnam is convenient because of two major ports that lie right next to these road connections.

  • Sea: While Dong Nai itself does not host a big international harbor, two of the biggest Vietnamese ports are located very close to its industrial belt.

  • Cat Lai Port / HCMC: Currently, this is the busiest port in Vietnam. Cat Lai is handling roughly half of the freight in southern Vietnam serving mainly Asian routes. It is located on the Dong Nai River just 20 km away from Bien Hoa and close to many industrial zones in the province. Distance to this blog entry’s partner - KTG Industrial - is just 30 km.

  • Cai Mep / Ba Ria Vung Tau: Operating since 2009, this is a relatively new development. While Cat Lai is a river port, Cai Mep is a true deep sea port located close to the mouth of the Soai Rap river. It is able to receive huge container ships of up to 200k DWT. Cai Mep aims to develop direct shipping lines to Asia and America and to become a transshipment hub. In 2019, the port handled about a third of southern Vietnam’s shipments. Cai Mep’s distance from Boustead is 40 km.

  • Air: The biggest airport of Vietnam, Tan Son Nhat (TNS) in HCMC, handles about 36 million passengers annually. It is just 50 km away from Boustead and provides access to many national and international destinations. And then, there is of course a new major airport development happening in Dong Nai…



Long Thanh International Airport


This new airport will be built in the southern part of Dong Nai in the district of Long Thanh. With an investment sum of 16 billion USD (thereof: 7.8 billion USD for first phase) this is Vietnam’s most expensive infrastructure project so far. It is suggested that Long Thanh will eventually take over all international flights from TNS. Its annual passenger capacity will be 100 million. Hence, any investor in the province will have direct access to international flight routes. Construction of the airport has started in January of 2021. Completion of the first phase is scheduled for 2025. It may be expected that in the future the name of Dong Nai will be synonymous with Long Thanh International Airport. The location of this blog’s partner - KTG Industrial - is basically right next to this project.



Economic Development and International Investment


Due to its favorable location, Dong Nai has developed into one of the economically most successful provinces in Vietnam. It has the biggest GDP after HCMC and Hanoi. In 2020, the GDP of Dong Nai grew by 5.8%; despite the ongoing Corona crisis. Its 3 million inhabitants achieved a GDP/capita of ca. 5,300 US-Dollars in 2020, far above the national average of 2,700 US-Dollars. This success is also due to the international investors of whom Dong Nai has attracted a lot. On average, the province attracts roughly 1 billion US-Dollar per year in foreign direct investments (FDI). Continued FDI growth may yield additional opportunities for local developers to collaborate or joint venture with foreign partners looking to enter or grow in Vietnam market and promote the mutual exchange of knowledge and experience. Until the end of 2019, the overall FDI stood at 32 billion US-Dollars. Dong Nai was only topped by HCMC, Binh Duong and Hanoi.


The province has a long history providing excellent investment opportunities. In 1963, Vietnam’s first modern industrial zone (IZ) of “Bin Hoa I” has been established here. Today, Dong Nai has 36 IZs; more than any other province in Vietnam. Binh Duong comes in second with 32 IZs and HCMC third with 21. All but five of Dong Nai’s IZs are in the west of the province. The provincial government has recently announced to allow the development of industrial zones with an area of 6,500 ha.


While the majority of international investors comes from Korea and Japan, German companies are also very fond of Dong Nai. After HCMC, Hanoi and Binh Duong, Dong Nai is the province with the most German investments. 12 companies invested roughly 540 million USD. Eight of them invested into manufacturing activities for which Dong Nai is the second most attractive province only topped by Binh Duong.


Overview: German manufacturing investors in Dong Nai

While infrastructure has a high importance as a “Unique Selling Point” for Dong Nai two other major factors are also at play when attracting foreign investment.

  • Availability of highly skilled labor: Adjacent HCMC hosts some of the most renowned universities and colleges in Vietnam. The labor force educated here is also available in adjacent Dong Nai. But the province itself also provides outstanding HR development. A case in point is the LILAMA2 International Technology College which is implementing German-style vocational education for Vietnamese staff.

  • Accessibility of local suppliers: As noted above, the HCMC Metropolitan Area is the farthest developed industrial region of Vietnam. Hence, a multitude of potential suppliers can be found in the area. For companies looking to localize supply chains this region is therefore ideal to invest.



Our Partner


KTG Industrial Nhon Trach 2 is located within the industrial complex of “Nhon Trach” (containing seven separate industrial zones). With an area of roughly 2,500 ha this is probably the largest industrial agglomeration in southern Vietnam. It has about three times the size of HCMC’s district 1 (800 ha).


The project of our partner, KTG Nhon Trach 2, is developed by Boustead Projects – a leading provider of innovative real estate solutions in Singapore and KTG Industrial, an innovator in industrial development and management, the 18.69ha development comprising of ready-built factories and built-to-spec industrial facilities are located in Nhon Trach District, Dong Nai Province, next to Ho Chi Minh City.


The project’s phase 1 was completed in July 2019 and is fully occupied. Phase 2A comprises ready-built factories consisting of approximately 39,000m² of gross floor area, which is available now. Phase 2B comprising of ready-built and build-to-suit factories is tentatively scheduled to start construction in 2022.


Overview: Nhon Trach Industrial Complex in relation to HCMC


KTG Industrial is offering “Ready – Build Factory” (RBF) as well as “Ready – Build Warehouse” (RBW) which the first phase has been completed and is fully-leased. In both models, the sub-developer will remain the owner of the factory buildings and rent them out the client. This drastically reduces the need for capital by the investor. RBF and RBW are therefore an increasingly popular alternative to “traditional” investment models where the investor acquires land and builds the factory buildings; so-called “Greenfield Investments”. Especially with German investors, we are seeing massive interest into these plant types.


Models of factories available in Vietnamese industrial zones


At KTG Industrial, the following special features for RBF and RBW are being offered:

  • Design in accordance with production and business requirements, high quality construction, construction management on schedule, ensuring compliance with international standards for quality and safety.

  • Implementation of the construction of solar systems throughout the factory for lease system, which is considered the largest solar energy project.

With its high-quality “factories-for-rent”, KTG Industrial is offering an outstanding solution for companies looking to establish a first foothold in Vietnam.



Conclusion


In Vietnam, Dong Nai is a household name regarding industrial development. The province has established itself as an enticing location for manufacturing operations close to the business hub of HCMC, with superb infrastructure and – due to its fantastic development – offering an excellent supply of highly-skilled workers. Because to these advantages, we believe that the province nowadays is well-suited for higher value-added, capital-intensive operations while comparatively expensive wages and rising land prices will make labor-intensive manufacturing challenging. In the coming years, the development of the new Long Thanh International Airport will bring additional impetus to Dong Nai. An airport business zone is already being discussed. And thus, Dong Nai will probably become a place for “high-flying industry”.


If you have any further questions or are in search of a manufacturing location in Vietnam, feel free letting us know. For contact details see: https://vietnam.ahk.de/en/services/investment-location-analysis

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