9:44:29 AM | 21/2/2006
Vietnam Business Forum interviewed Lo Ich Giang, deputy secretary of the Cao Bang province’s Party Committee and chairman of the Cao Bang People’s Committee.
Can you highlight the economic advantages of Cao Bang province?
Cao Bang is a northern mountainous province, with a natural area of 6,690 square kilometres and a population of over 520,000 people belonging to eight ethnic groups. The province boasts high quality minerals, such as tin, aluminium and iron. Also, the province is home to many famous tourist sites, including the Ban Gioc waterfall, the Nguom Ngao cave and the Thang Hen lake. The people in Cao Bang have a revolutionary tradition as the province was selected by the Party and President Ho Chi Minh as a revolutionary base during resistance wars. The province has famous historical relic sites, including the Coc Po cave, the Tran Hung Dao forest and the Bao Dong mountain, where President Ho Chi Minh watched the Dong Khe battlefield. With such factors, Cao Bang province has great potential for economic development in agriculture and forestry, industry and services.
With a 311 kilometre border line and three border gates to China, Cao Bang province has attracted much attention from investors. The local authorities have planned border economic zones and issued priority policies. Investing in border gate economic zones in Cao Bang, investors will have a good opportunity to get access to the large market of China, apart from enjoying priorities given by the province.
However, Cao Bang has faced many difficulties in its socio-economic development as it is located far from key economic regions with only roads for communication. Also, the province’s infrastructure facilities remain poor. Its terrain is unfavourable for developing concentrated production establishments for farm produce. Furthermore, most labourers in the province have yet to be trained. In the coming years, Cao Bang will have to overcome these difficulties to fully tap its potential for economic development.
What achievements has Cao Bang gained during 20 years of ‘doi moi’ (renovation)?
Having implemented the renovation policies, initiated by the Party since 1986, the people of ethnic groups in Cao Bang recorded important achievements in political, social and economic fields. Accordingly, the province’s economic structure has changed for the better with an increase in industrial production, from 5.5 per cent to 20 per cent, and services, from 29 per cent to 42 per cent, and a sharp reduction of the contribution of agriculture and forestry, from 65.5 per cent to 38 per cent. Gross domestic product (GDP) of the province remains higher than the average level of the whole country. Export and import turnover has seen a high growth rate, over 30 per cent per annum. The border gate economic zones have seen a rapid development, making significant contributions to the province’s budget.
Agricultural production has made progress with a high increase in food output, reaching 380 kilograms per capita per annum. Cao Bang has planned and built some concentrated commodity-based production areas, creating materials for processing establishments. A rapid development in animal husbandry has been seen, especially in dairy cow raising. In recent years, Cao Bang has had enough food to meet the local people’s demand and to sell to other localities. Some farm models have been developed, giving local farmers high hopes for better incomes. Furthermore, Cao Bang has formed some forests of high economic value.
Over the past few years, many enterprises have been established, thus changing the province’s industrial production. Cement, tunnel brick, sugar and iron factories and plants have been put into operation, thus helping the province gain a high growth rate of between 15 and 20 per cent per year industrial production value. Also, handicrafts have been restored and developed, creating jobs and incomes for many people in rural areas.
At the same time, many infrastructure facilities have been built to create a new face for towns and rural areas in the province, helping boost economic development.
The scale and quality of education and training activities have been improved at all levels. Poverty reduction and gratitude showing activities have been implemented in all regions of the province. As a result, the number of poor and hungry households has seen a rapid reduction. The locals’ living standard has improved.
What has Cao Bang done and what will it do to develop trade and services, thus boosting its economic restructuring?
Cao Bang has potential for developing trade and services. Over the past number of years, the sector has seen a high growth rate, over 13 per cent per year. The contribution of the sector to the province’s economy increased from 35 per cent in 2000 to 42 per cent in 2005. Total retail sales of goods in 2005 reached over VND 1,347 billion, up by 13.2 per cent against 2004. Products of Cao Bang province include articles made of bamboo, bitter tea, tobacco materials, tin ingots, and iron. Export and import activities via border gates have seen a high growth rate. However, added value of the trade and services remains low. Its trade and service potential, especially border gate economic and tourism potential, has not been tapped fully yet.
To boost economic restructuring, the province has considered it necessary to tap fully its border gate economic and tourism potential, mobilising all financial sources of different economic sectors. In the short term, the province will concentrate on reviewing and perfecting its socio-economic development plans throughout 2020, in which the province will have plans to develop trade and services, so as to meet the local people‘s demand for food. Also, the province will develop strategies to develop local trade and service enterprises, developing goods and commodities for export, so the province will have its spearhead products, which are capable of export.
At present, Cao Bang is mobilising capital for developing infrastructure facilities, in particular roads, water supply and drainage, electricity supply systems, and post and telecommunication networks, as well as trade centres in Cao Bang town, and the border economic zones of Ta Lung, Tra Linh and Soc Giang. Accordingly, the province will concentrate capital on perfecting infrastructure facilities of border gate economic zones and tourist sites, creating favourable conditions for enterprises. At the same time, the province has encouraged the development of import and export activities, the development of bonded warehouses, duty free shops and showrooms, advertisement, financial and banking systems, and hotel, travel and entertainment facilities.
To this end, Cao Bang has issued priority policies, offering most favourable conditions for investors as stipulated by the State. The province has created more open legal corridor for enterprises to develop and expand their production and business activities. The local authorities have boosted administrative reform in investment licensing, land allocation, and procedures for export and import. In addition, the province will promote the training and retraining of cadres for capability building in trade and services.
What are the objectives and solutions for socio-economic development of Cao Bang?
On a basis of analysing and predicting advantages and disadvantages, Cao Bang has considered its socio-economic targets throughout 2010. Accordingly, the province will strive for a high economic growth rate of over 15 per cent, and a rapid economic restructuring in a manner of industrialisation and modernisation with an increase in the contribution of industry and services. Also, the province will expand and upgrade Cao Bang town into a city. The local authorities will mobilise all resources for poverty reduction and job creation, unemployment and social vice reduction.
Accordingly, local authorities and people will promote the development of socio-economic infrastructure facilities, prioritising education and training for developing human resources, thus meeting the demand of industrialisation and modernisation, as well as international integration. The province will boost administrative reform and improve the effectiveness of the local State apparatus, promoting the fight against bureaucracy, corruption, and capability building.
Reported by Nhat Minh