SOUTH Korea's Daewoo Corporation has committed itself to one of the biggest single investments in Vietnam - a US$1.2 billion industrial park on the edge of Hanoi. Daewoo will spend $200 million to prepare 420 hectares of rice paddy for what will be Vietnam's biggest car plant, as well as electronics and tyre factories, company sources said last night. The joint-venture deal was signed this week with local state partner Hanoi Electronics Corporation (Hanel), owned by the People's Committee of Hanoi. Daewoo takes a 70 per cent stake in the park, spending $700 million on the car plant, with the remaining funds spread across video and television, refrigerator, washing machine and microwave factories. The signing cements Daewoo's position as the most aggressive foreign investor in Vietnam. It nearly doubles the total of South Korean commitments. The deal has the apparent backing of the highest levels of Hanoi's leadership and runs counter to a string of high-profile foreign pull-outs which have rocked the capital in recent weeks. The Office of the Premier has already approved the use of rice paddy on the strategic Highway Five while granting a 50-year term for the project - longer than for most joint ventures. Highway Five runs from Hanoi to the northern port city of Haiphong and is targeted as a major industrial transport route. Several Hanoi-based bankers and economists believe South Korea is seeking to dominate Vietnam's untapped market of 74 million potential consumers before more reticent Japanese conglomerates decide to strike. Daewoo currently is the biggest foreign investor in Vietnam, pushing South Korea into fifth place on foreign investment charts this year. It has more than $500 million in 12 licensed joint ventures, including other deals with Hanel. A further 30 projects, involving about $2 billion, are in the pipeline for the next five years. This week's deal was signed during one of many low-profile trips to Vietnam by Daewoo corporate chiefs. Company sources said it also reached agreement on speeding up a large property development on the outskirts of central Hanoi but would spend an extra $750,000 on electrical and telephone cables. The 15-floor office block in the Daeha Business Centre - another venture with Hanel - is now due for completion by the end of the year. It will bring 236,808 square feet of office space into an increasingly competitive market. The centre will feature an apartment block to be ready by March and an 18-storey hotel set to open in June. Private estimates show Hanoi will have more than 4,000 similar new rooms across the city by then, and one million sq ft of new office space.