Samsung Considers $1 Billion Vietnam Investment


South Korea's Samsung Electronics Co. is considering investing more than $1 billion in a third consumer electronics factory in Vietnam, an increasingly important manufacturing base for electronics companies.

The new factory will likely be built in a high-tech park in Ho Chi Minh City, Le Manh Ha, the city's deputy chairman, told The Wall Street Journal. Mr. Ha declined to provide a time frame for construction of the plant, its size or what would be produced there.

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A senior official with Vietnam's Ministry of Planning and Investment who declined to be named said Monday that the ministry is studying the investment proposal from Samsung, before issuing a license.

A spokesman for Samsung said plans for another plant in Vietnam are "under review." He declined to elaborate.

Samsung's move to expand its production base in Vietnam comes as the country is undergoing a swift economic transition. Exports of smartphones and computer parts are beginning to overtake those of coffee and garments. South Korea's LG Electronics Inc. and Taiwan-based Foxconn Technology Co. are among other companies that have either invested or announced plans to invest in the country.

Vietnam is also becoming increasingly important as a manufacturing base for electronics makers looking to take advantage of a low-cost and well-educated workforce. With a population of 90 million people, the Southeast Asian country has also attracted global tech companies such as chip maker Intel Corp. and camera maker Canon Inc.

Exports of smartphones and electronics totaled $31.8 billion last year, accounting for 24% of Vietnam's total exports, and an increase of more than 50% from the previous year, government data showed.

Samsung last year built a $2 billion complex in Thai Nguyen province in northern Vietnam. It also has a $2.5 billion plant that has been operational since 2009 in Bac Ninh province near Hanoi. Both are used to manufacture mobile phones.