From a purely agricultural province, Long An has made every effort to utilise internal resources and attract maximum external forces to impressively develop industry, become the best economic performer in the Mekong Delta and one of the best performers in the Southern Key Economic Zone. To learn more about these achievements, Vietnam Business Forum interviews Mr Tran Van Can, Chairman of Long An Provincial People’s Committee. Hoang Lam reports.
Could you introduce Long An province’s potential and advantages for economic development?
One important advantage of Long An province is the Soai Rap Estuary facing the East Sea, with Long An International Port capable of serving ships of 30,000 - 50,000 tonnes. The province also shares the 133-km borderline with Cambodia, with Binh Hiep International Border Gate (Kien Tuong Town), My Quy Tay National Border Gate (Duc Hue district) and three border gates (Hung Dien A, Long Khot and Tan Hung), and steps now underway to upgrade and open Khanh Hung border gate (Vinh Hung district) with 06 openings.
The Long An economy is closely linked with provinces and cities in the Southern Key Economic Zone and plays an important role in connecting the Southern Key Economic Zone with Mekong Delta provinces and neighbouring Cambodia.
Long An province’s natural conditions are also favourable for balanced agricultural and industrial development. The raw materials are abundant and sufficient for the agricultural and food processing industry with over 378,000 hectares (85% of the province's natural area). Agricultural products: Rice, dragon fruit, banana, lemon, meat and eggs, are eligible to export to other countries.
The province has arranged a big land fund for industrial development, with 28 industrial zones and 32 industrial complexes covering about 14,000 ha. The infrastructure system is getting better, with four passing national highways. In addition, highways from Ben Luc (Long An) to Long Thanh (Dong Nai), Ring Road 3, Ring Road 4, the traffic axis connecting Tien Giang - Long An - Ho Chi Minh City will be deployed investing in the coming times.
Long An has an abundant workforce with nearly 1 million workers (with nearly 900,000 working in economic sectors), accounting for nearly 70 per cent of the provincial population. 42.43 per cent of the labour force are trained to meet industrialisation and modernisation requirements. In addition, the province has great potential for developing trade and services. Particularly, the Dong Thap Muoi (Plain of Reeds) in Long An province has two wetlands, namely Lotus Village Conservation Area in Tan Hung district and Dong Thap Muoi Medicinal Plant Conservation Area in Moc Hoa district, in addition to numerous archaeological relics, historical relics, valuable architectures, festivals and folk artists. These all offer valuable potential for future tourism development.
By tapping and promoting available economic potential, how has the socioeconomic development of Long An advanced?
Long An is the only province in the Mekong Delta that is almost completely bordered by Ho Chi Minh City - major economic centre of Vietnam. There are national highways and highways connecting Ho Chi Minh City and the South East with the Mekong Delta region. This helps Long An have many advantages in socio-economic development as well as attracting investment, becoming a locality with rapid economic growth and stability. In the period of 2000-2005, the economic growth rate was 9.4 percent, 11.8 percent for the period 2006-2010 and 11.25 percent for the period 2011-2015. In 2016, due to the impact of the world economic crisis, the economic growth rate reached 9.05 percent (achieving the set target) and the per capita income reached 2,280 USD/person/year.
In the first 6 months of 2017, gross domestic product (GRDP) reached over VND31 billion (at comparative prices), growing at 8.81 percent (target for 2017 growth was 9.2 percent); Sector I (agri-forestry grew by 2.02 percent; Region II (construction- industry) increased by 16.51 percent; Region III (trade - services) increased by 6.14 percent. Exports in the first 6 months reached US$ 2.1 million, up 13 percent over the same period, imports reached US$ 1.7 million.
Social culture has many positive results, social security is guaranteed, timely. Education and training continued to be positive; The work of protecting and caring for people's health has made great progress. To attach importance to the development of high-quality human resources, employment creation of positive effects, practical contributions to the implementation of programs and objectives of socio-economic development and the process of industrialisation and modernisation of the province.
You have just mentioned the Ho Chi Minh City - Long An Socioeconomic Development Cooperation Programme, signed since 2007. Could you detail the remarkable results of this programme, after 10 years in effect?
Long An and Ho Chi Minh City signed the Socio-Economic Development Cooperation Agreement in June, 2007 for the period 2007-2015, and the two localities have also signed the Cooperation Agreement on Economic Development for the period 2016-2020. Accordingly, there are many programs and contents of cooperation in specific fields in order to bring into play the potential and strengths, and contribute to the socio-economic development of the two localities
In the field of agriculture, the coordination of production, business and consumption of agricultural products are controlled in a concentrated manner. Long An joins the chain of safe vegetable production with Ho Chi Minh City and businesses in Ho Chi Minh City also signed many contracts to buy agricultural products of Long An in large numbers. Up to now, five chains of safe food chains, including vegetables, rice and meat, have been developed and promoted (03 vegetable chains, 01 rice chain, 01 chicken chain) in Ho Chi Minh City.
Also from the cooperation programme, overland and waterway traffic routes are increasingly upgraded. Roads from Long An province are well connected with neighbouring districts of Ho Chi Minh City such as District 7, Nha Be, Cu Chi, Hoc Mon, Binh Chanh and Can Gio. Belt roads are projected to be expanded such as Provincial Road 830 (a part of Belt Road 4) and Ben Luc - Long Thanh Expressway, connecting Ho Chi Minh City - Long An - Tien Giang.
In the trade and service field, 28 enterprises and cooperatives of Long An province signed contracts with Ho Chi Minh City-based distributors and supermarkets to supply consumer goods. The implementation of the Commercial Infrastructure Development Programme also attracted many companies in Ho Chi Minh City to invest in livestock and poultry processing projects in Ben Luc and Duc Hoa districts and invest in Phan Khang Supermarket and Co.opmart Supermarket in Tan An district, Co.opmart Supermarket in Ben Luc district and two commercial centres in Tan An City.
With the Socioeconomic Development Cooperation Programme with Ho Chi Minh City, the province has created favourable conditions for Long An province to exchange information and share experiences to improve the capacity and performance of State management. Over the past 10 years, the cooperation programme has achieved positive accomplishments, especially in such areas as transportation, investment attraction, trade promotion, science and technology to significantly contribute to mutual socioeconomic development.
Long An is a Mekong Delta province and is one of eight provinces in the Southern Key Economic Zone - a dynamic economic engine that plays a particularly important role in Vietnam's economic development strategy. Based on this advantage, how has the province focused on promoting this connectivity value?
To promote the regional connectivity value, Long An province launched plans to connect with the Southern Key Economic Zone in the 2016 - 2020 period, with a focus placed on developing inter-regional infrastructure connectivity such as Tien Giang - Long An - Ho Chi Minh City transport and urban connectivity infrastructure, as well as connectivity projects with Ho Chi Minh City; concentrated on coordinating with agricultural production and supply chains with the Southern Key Economic Zone, especially Ho Chi Minh City.
In addition, Long An province is coordinating with Tien Giang and Dong Thap provinces to implement the project for the sustainable development of Dong Thap Muoi Sub-region connectivity in which central tasks will be agricultural restructuring and branding typical of Dong Thap Muoi, processing industrial development, agricultural trade promotion, traffic and irrigation infrastructure linkage of Dong Thap Muoi.