The new achievements were highlighted by Kate Harrisson, deputy head of Mission at the British embassy in Vietnam, and British Consul general Tim Brownbill at their meeting with reporters in HCM City on Tuesday, or more than a year after the two sides inked strategic partnership.

Brownbill, who is also director of the UK Trade and Investment in Vietnam, put the UK investments in Vietnam at $2 billion and expected the number to exceed $3 billion by the end of next year.

Harrisson confirmed UK investors were very keen to come to Vietnam and a number of British companies were very active in this country. Brownbill named a list of areas in this country attractive to British investors, from oil exploration and development, financial services, and infrastructure to education, retail and other sectors that they have strengths.

"We see a number of big investments start to come online," Brownbill said. He proved that Premier Oil was going to invest over $1 billion in Vietnam in an oil project which will be the biggest British-led investment in this country.

Soco is another energy company that is also planning major investment in Vietnam, according to Brownbill. But he said British companies were also looking for projects in infrastructure development, including the Long Thanh International Airport that they wanted to share know-how and invest in as well.

The diplomat said British companies were exploring the opportunity to get involved in the country's upcoming biggest international airport in Dong Nai Province, about 40km from central HCM City.

The first phase of Long Thanh Airport project requires more than $6.74 billion, including $696.5 million for site clearance and compensation. Work on this project is scheduled to begin by 2015 and this 5,000-hectare airport is planned to start servicing international flights by 2020.

Vietnam's determination to draw funding from different sources and via forms of investment, including public-private partnership (PPP), is opening opportunities for British companies, Brownbill said.

Brownbill said transport, power, running water supply and flood prevention were among the areas that British companies wanted to support.

The British embassy's deputy Head of Mission Harrisson said there would be a strategic dialogue in London next week on enhancing relations between the two countries as well as regional and global issues.

The Saigon Times Daily - October 22, 2011