US chip giant Intel Corp was yesterday expected to receive approval from Vietnam to boost to US$1 billion its investment in a plant it is building in the communist country.
The news, seen as a vote of confidence in the fast-emerging economy, comes a week before US President George W. Bush arrives in Hanoi for an APEC summit and as Vietnam readies to join the WTO.
The world's largest microchip maker in February announced it would build a US$300 million research and development plant outside Ho Chi Minh City, with an option to increase the project to more than US$600 million.
Intel Products Vietnam said on Tuesday that corporate vice president Brian Krzanich would receive an amended investment license at a ceremony yesterday at the Ho Chi Minh City people's committee but released no further details.
A company source, who asked not to be named, said Intel would be allowed to boost the project, set to start operations late next year, to about US$1 billion and employ double the previously approved staff of 1,200.
The investment will be the largest so far by a US company in Vietnam giving a boost to a dynamic emerging economy that has grown by 7 percent to 8 percent in recent years.
The WTO on Tuesday approved Vietnam as its 150th member, a move the national assembly is set to approve before the end of the month.
WTO accession has forced the country to scrap many restrictions on foreign companies doing business in Vietnam and is expected to lead to an influx of foreign investment in the country of 84 million people.
Alain Cany, president of the European Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam, said the Southeast Asian nation is "becoming a player in the IT sector. Some Taiwanese companies are also coming in. We can expect more companies to invest in Vietnamese IT."
The new Intel plant in the Saigon Hi-Tech Park will assemble, test and ship microprocessors used in PCs and other electronic devices, Intel chairman Craig Barrett said in February.
It will be the Santa Clara, California-based company's seventh such site worldwide.
Intel already has similar facilities in China, Malaysia, the Philippines and Costa Rica.