By Phuong Nguyen and Francesco Guarascio
HANOI (Reuters) -Executives at top U.S. and Vietnamese firms in the semiconductor, tech and aviation sectors met on Monday seeking to forge business partnerships during U.S. President Joe Biden’s visit to Hanoi which has seen new deals on on planes and AI.
Senior executives from Google, Intel, Amkor, Marvell, GlobalFoundries and Boeing attended the Vietnam-U.S. Innovation & Investment Summit, according to the meeting agenda.
From Vietnam, there were executives from half a dozen companies, including Nasdaq-listed electric car maker VinFast, flag carrier Vietnam Airlines, tech company FPT, MoMo, the country’s biggest e-wallet by users, as well as internet firm VNG, which filed in August for a U.S. IPO.
Biden reiterated at the meeting that the two countries were deepening cooperation in cloud computing, semiconductors and artificial intelligence, and stressed Vietnam was crucial for critical minerals supplies.
The country has the world’s second-biggest estimated deposits of rare earths, which are used in electric vehicles and wind turbines.
The meeting, which followed a historic upgrade of diplomatic relations agreed on Sunday, underscored U.S. desire to boost Vietnam’s global role. This is particularly so in chipmaking with Washington seeking to reduce the sector’s exposure to China-linked risks, including trade friction and tensions over Taiwan.
Deals unveiled by the White House during the trip include Vietnam Airlines’ purchase of 50 Boeing 737 Max jets, in an agreement that it said was worth $7.8 billion, in line with an earlier Reuters report.
The White House also announced plans by Microsoft to make a “generative AI-based solution tailored for Vietnam and emerging markets.”
Nvidia will also partner with Vietnam’s FPT, Viettel and Vingroup, VinFast’s parent company, on AI in the country, it said.
The White House also highlighted the number of chip-related investments by U.S. firms in Vietnam, including plans by Marvell and Synopsys to build chip design centres in the country.
A new $1.6 billion Amkor factory near Hanoi that will assemble, package and test chips is due to start operations in October, it added.
The investment value is on par with Intel’s $1.5 billion chip assembling plant in the south of the country – the company’s biggest worldwide. Sources said earlier this year that it may be expanded.
U.S. conglomerate Honeywell will cooperate with a Vietnamese partner to launch a pilot project to develop Vietnam’s first battery energy storage system, the White House also said.
U.S. State Secretary Antony Blinken and Vietnam’s investment minister Nguyen Chi Dung chaired the meeting, which was followed by discussions with Biden and Vietnam’s Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh.
Dung also told the meeting that he hoped Vietnamese companies could expand in the United States and join the globlal supply chain, according to a government statement.
(Reporting by Phuong Nyugen, Nandita Bose and Francesco Guarascio @fraguarascio; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)