THE Hongkong and Taiwanese business communities are in pole position to benefit from the economic boom expected to follow the lifting of the United States trade embargo on Vietnam and resumption of multilateral development lending. Hongkong leads the foreign investors table in Vietnam in terms of number of projects, and is second in terms of value behind Taiwan. Private investors from the territory have now pumped US$854 million into Vietnamese projects, capped only by the Taiwanese whose investment total now stands at more than $1.1 billion. Secretary for Trade and Industry Brian Chau Tak-hay yesterday spoke of fostering even closer economic ties with Vietnam, when he addressed the ''Managing Doi-Moi'' seminar. He said: ''At present, both trade and investment flows are towards Vietnam. ''But, with the economic development of Vietnam and with her people's increasing prosperity, there should also be trade and investment flows in our direction as Vietnamese businessmen are bound to want to take advantage of Hongkong's strategic position as a major international trade, financialand business centre.'' His cause should be furthered by news that the Hongkong Trade Development Council intends to establish a presence in Vietnam, starting with a consultant's office in Ho Chi Minh City. The Hongkong General Chamber of Commerce has done much to help open up opportunities for Hongkong investors in Vietnam, having sent six trade delegations since 1989. Its seventh is due to leave on June 7. Bilateral trade between Hongkong and Vietnam has increased sixfold over the past five years. Total trade between Hongkong and Vietnam reached HK$8.4 billion last year, almost double that in 1991. Hongkong's exports to Vietnam have also recorded impressive gains, increasing 150 per cent in 1992 to $7.3 billion, up 180 per cent on 1991. In 1991, Hongkong ranked as the second largest market for Vietnam's exports and third largest source for its imports. The textile and garment industry has become an important area for Hongkong manufacturers operating in Vietnam, particularly among those keen to export their products to countries where no quota restrictions have been imposed on Vietnamese exports. Manufacturers have also set up factories for electronic goods, including television sets and audio equipment, which have access to the local market. Hongkong firms have also been interested in infrastructure projects, such as ports, airports and telecommunications. Tourism has been another key area for Hongkong investors who have embarked on many hotel renovation and new development projects. Amongst the many projects is New World Hotels' $300 million joint-venture development of a 600-room, four-star hotel in Ho Chi Minh City, the New World Hotel Saigon. Hand in hand with the growth in commodity trade, service links between Hongkong and Vietnam have also increased. Hongkong Bank is one of the 12 foreign banks that have established representative offices in Vietnam and is applying for a full banking licence.