Vietnam’s seaport development needs solutions for further growth

08:00 | 30/05/2019
Despite strong growth, Vietnam is urged to have solutions to deal with shortcomings in seaport development to unlock its full potential for economic growth.
vietnams seaport development needs solutions for further growth
Businesses and experts discussed solutions to seaport development

Businesses and experts gathered at a conference on May 29 to discuss the advantages and problems facing seaport development across Vietnam, as well as solutions to increase their efficiency to better serve the development of key economic hubs across the country.

“Vietnam’s seaports have many advantages and great growth potential, but they have not been fully exploited. Vietnam focuses on exports, meaning that we need seaports. However, the problems here are high logistics costs and serious congestions at seaports,” said Nguyen Dinh Cung, head of the Central Institute for Economic Management (CIEM).

Cung took the seaports in Ho Chi Minh City, the southern province of Ba Rai-Vung Tau, and Haiphong as examples, which are home to key economic hubs, with manufacturing making up 60 per cent of the country’s GDP. “If the region grows 1 per cent, the country’s GDP expands by 0.6 per cent. Thus, if we reduce logistics costs and traffic jams, we can grow further.”

The other problem is connectivity with other means of multi-modal transport such as road, railway, and waterway.

Having over one million square kilometre of sea area with more than 3,200 kilometres of coastline, Vietnam now has 45 seaports, a number of inland container depots (IDCs) and big logistics hubs. Annually, the seaport system handles about 90 per cent of the country’s total volume of imports and exports, creating a driving force for national economic development.

However, the country still faces difficulties and problems in developing seaports efficiently and comprehensively, including a lack of connectivity with other means of multi-modal transport such as roads, railways, waterways. There are also problems related to inconsistency in land use planning, master planning on industrial development, as well as infrastructure planning, among others.

Nguyen Duc Kien, vice chairman of the National Assembly's Economic Committee, said that seaports have an important role in national economic development. However, there is no technical infrastructure connectivity for them. For example, the Cai Mep-Thi Vai port area in the southern province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau now has no railway connection and for a long time had no roads to connect.

“We have developed the Lach Huyen international seaport with loans and consultancy from Japan. However, it also has no railway connection. It is a big problem,” Kien added.

All participants agreed that the country should soon have policies and solutions, including planning adjustments to fully tap into the potential of seaports.

They proposed the establishment of a seaport management authority and the issuance of policies to attract private investment into the sector.

Despite the shortcomings, Vietnam’s seaports have seen strong growth since 2000 with an average growth of 11.1 per cent, with container ports growing by 14.4 per cent. In terms of volume of goods, the figure is also impressive, rising from 73 million tonnes in 2000 to 525 million in 2018. Especially, container throughput rose 15-fold.

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By Bich Thuy

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