Samsung, LG plan multi-billion-dollar additional investment in Vietnam

HANOI (Reuters) - South Korean electronics giants Samsung and LG plan to pour billions of dollars of additional investment into Vietnam, the Vietnamese government said on Tuesday.

The announcement comes after Samsung cut smartphone production in Vietnam twice this year in response to weaker global demand.

Samsung Electronics, the largest single foreign investor in Vietnam, will raise its total investment in the country to $20 billion from $18 billion, the government said in a statement.

The company declined to comment on the investment. A source familiar with the matter on Tuesday said the investment would be completed by the end of this year.

Samsung has for years produced about half of its smartphones in Vietnam and accounts for nearly a fifth of the country's overall exports.

The additional investment will further firm up Vietnam as Samsung's key production site, the government said, following a meeting on Tuesday in Seoul between Vietnamese President Nguyen Xuan Phuc and the company's chief executive Han Jong-hee.

The Vietnamese government said in a separate statement that LG would also invest $4 billion more in the country to make it a smartphone camera production hub.

LG, which has so far invested $5.3 billion in Vietnam to make such products as electronics home appliances, cameras and car parts, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The announcements came as Vietnam and South Korea said on Monday they upgraded their relations to "comprehensive strategic partnership", which Vietnam has so far established only with China, Russia and India.

The two countries aim to raise bilateral trade to $100 billion next year, and to $150 billion a year by 2030, up from $78 billion last year.

Vietnam has over the last decade emerged as one of the most attractive production hubs for electronics companies, but weakening global demand has prompted production cuts this year.

(Reporting by Khanh Vu; additional reporting by Joyce Lee in Seoul; editing by Francesco Guarascio, Kanupriya Kapoor)