By Trung Chanh - The Saigon Times Daily
CAN THO – More policies are needed to draw foreign investors to the Mekong Delta where investment activities have still been insignificant compared to its economic contribution and potential, heard the conference ‘The Mekong Delta’s investment and development promotion’ held in Can Tho City last Friday.
The Mekong Delta is known as the country’s biggest farming and aquatic products producer and exporter contributing 18-19% to the national gross domestic product (GDP) annually.
Many experts in the conference shared the view that it was the right time to promote investment and related policies which will allow the delta to explore its potential and strengths to the max.
Tran Bac Ha, chairman of Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam (BIDV), said the delta’s potential has yet to be fully tapped to serve the country’s economic development. “For instance, the planned rice, seafood and fruit production schemes have been deployed for years but their economic value is still very low. Besides, foreign investors find the area unattractive due to its poor traffic infrastructure system,” Ha stated.
In fact, the nation’s key rice growing area has welcomed inconsiderable foreign direct investment capital (FDI). From 1988 to 2011, it only lured 565 foreign-invested projects with total investment of US$9.5 billion or less than 5% of total FDI into the nation.
The area last year only enticed 96 projects worth US$402 million from foreign investors, lower than a quarter of the figure in 2010 and equivalent to a mere 3.5% of the national FDI in the same year.
In the agricultural industry, Mekong Delta provinces enjoy dozens of billions of U.S. dollars a year, with rice export revenue amounting to more than US$3 billion with over six million tons per annum being shipped out. For the aquatic product exploitation and fishing sector, the region yearly fetches US$8-9 billion from exporting seafood products while its output volume and cultivation areas account for up to 52% and 70% of the country respectively.
“In the future, we need to set up a specific mechanism and policies to attract investment into works and projects in the Mekong Delta to deal with local social security issues. Also, we need to focus on addressing human resource difficulties to ensure necessary resources to construct and develop the region better,” Ha pointed out.
Vo Hung Dung, director of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) in Can Tho City, reported the Mekong Delta contributed over 25% of GDP of the nation in the 90s. However, the figure dropped to 17.5% during 1995-1996 and now only makes up 18-19% of the national GDP, Dung added.