Bridge built with Korean loan opens in Vietnam

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Bridge built with Korean loan opens in Vietnam

A bridge built with Korean financing opened for traffic outside the Vietnamese capital yesterday.

Earlier in the day, government representatives from Korea and Vietnam attended a completion ceremony for the Vinh Thinh Bridge northwest of Hanoi, according to Korea’s Ministry of Strategy and Finance.

Korea offered a $100 million low-interest loan for the construction of the bridge, the largest amount of Korea’s Economic Development Cooperation Fund offered to the Indochinese country.

The 4.4-kilometer bridge, which connects Hanoi and Vinh Phuc province, is the largest of the six bridges built across the Red River. Two other bridges under construction are shorter than the Vinh Thinh Bridge, the Korean ministry said. GS Engineering & Construction began work on the bridge in 2011.

The ministry expects the bridge will ease chronic traffic congestion in the areas leading to and from the Vietnamese capital. It will also help significantly reduce distribution costs and accelerate economic development in the Red River Delta to the north, one of the three industrial centers in Vietnam along with Ho Chi Minh City and the Mekong River Delta, the ministry said.

“The Vinh Thinh Bridge completed today not only shows the current status of the economic development partnership between Vietnam and Korea,” said Choo Kyung-ho, a Vice Minister of Strategy and Finance, in a congratulatory speech at the completion ceremony yesterday, “but also it will be important momentum for the bilateral relationship in the future.”

Many top senior officials from the Vietnamese government participated in the ceremony, including Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai, Minister of Transport Dinh La Thang, Minister of Construction Trinh Dinh Dung and Finance Minister Dinh Tien Dung, according to Korea’s Finance Ministry.

The loan for the Vinh Thinh Bridge project will be repaid over the course of 40 years with a 0.05 percent annual interest, with Vietnam repaying only the interest in the first 10 years.

The EDCF is a major channel for Korea’s aid to developing countries. Since 1995, Korea has endorsed 49 EDCF projects for Vietnam worth $1.919 billion in total. That accounts for 20.6 percent of all the EDCF funds Korea has executed, making Vietnam the leading beneficiary among 50 recipients of EDCF funds. Operated by the Korea Export-Import Bank, the EDCF also aims to create opportunities for Korean companies in recipient countries.

Since the start of diplomatic ties in 1992, trade between Korea and Vietnam jumped 56 times from $500 million to $28 billion. Korea’s investment in Vietnam skyrocketed from $100 million to $17 billion, now making Korea the second biggest investor in Vietnam.

BY MOON GWANG-LIP [joe@joongang.co.kr]


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