Ex-Im Bank returns to boost loans for infrastructure

February 7, 2012

By Binh Nguyen – The Saigon Times Daily

HCMC – Fred P. Hochberg, chairman and president of the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank), is leading a business mission to speed up closure of nearly US$1.5 billion in infrastructure projects in Vietnam, which he said a key market for the U.S.

The credit support was touched on in a statement released by the U.S. consulate general in HCMC on Tuesday during Hochberg’s second trip to Vietnam from February 5 to 8 as chairman of the Ex-Im Bank. The first mission was made in June 2010.

Nearly US$1.5 billion in critical infrastructure projects is currently in discussion, according to the statement.

“We are looking to move forward, particularly on a number of infrastructure projects, public investment projects that we talked much on our last visit,” Hochberg told reporters in HCMC on Tuesday. He named the projects to include satellite communications, and conventional and renewable power generation.

The US$1.5 billion financing is the fulfillment of two memoranda of understanding (MOU) signed in 2010 and 2011 between the Ex-Im Bank and the Vietnam Development Bank and Vietnam’s Ministry of Industry and Trade.

The MOUs were aimed at facilitating U.S. exports to Vietnam in such important sectors as air transportation, power generation and transmission, and oil and gas development among others. In connection with these projects, there is also an additional US$500 million in financing that the Ex-Im Bank expects to finish in the near future.

Hochberg said some of the projects had not proceeded as fast as expected and this was one of the reasons why he came back to Vietnam for the second time in his role as chairman of the Ex-Im Bank.

“We are here to roll up our sleeves and get these transactions done,” Hochberg said. “Vietnam’s infrastructure continues to develop at a rapid rate, and I want to make certain that high-quality American goods and services are available for these projects.”

“Significant infrastructure developments are planned throughout Vietnam over the next several years, and I’m here to ensure that American companies invest in those projects, and that we maintain a dynamic and comprehensive partnership,” Hochberg stressed.

He said Ex-Im Bank also provided financing for small and family businesses in Vietnam to purchase goods and services from the U.S.

Vietnam is one of the key markets including Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Turkey, South Africa, Nigeria, India and Indonesia where the Ex-Im Bank is focusing its business-development efforts to meet the country’s infrastructure and development needs.

“We identified a number of key markets when I became chairman of the bank two and a half years ago. Vietnam is one of those markets and that’s why I came back here on Wednesday.” Hochberg explained.

Hochberg said as Vietnam was a country of 90 million people and a fast-growing economy, the U.S. should far more engage in trade with this Southeast Asian market. Increased trade helps bring the countries closer together and great benefits, particularly in the employment sector.

Hochberg said he would meet Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung when he traveled to Hanoi on Wednesday to try to move forward a number of projects that have been identified. Also on the agenda of Hochberg are meetings with Minister of Finance Vuong Dinh Hue, leaders of the Vietnam Development Bank and other agencies.

Asia is Ex-Im Bank’s largest regional market, representing nearly a quarter of the Bank’s portfolio. Last year, the Ex-Im Bank provided approximately US$7 billion in financing in the region.

Source: http://english.thesaigontimes.vn/Home/business/financial-markets/21658/


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