New master plan for seaports needed to further boost economic development

Tuesday, June 1, 2021  10:28

A container ship anchored at Cái Mép - Thị Vải Port in Bà Rịa - Vũng Tàu Province. Việt Nam needs to develop a new plan for seaports to contribute to the country's socio-economic development. — VNA/VNS Photo Mạnh Dương

HÀ NỘI —  A new master plan for seaports is needed to further boost the country’s socio-economic development in the rapid international integration process, experts have said.

With a coastline stretching over 3,000 km, Việt Nam has a maritime and inland waterway transport system that plays an important role in the country. Every year, the seaport system handles up to 90 percent of import and export cargo, contributing significantly to economic growth.

The seaport system saw the volume of containers transported increase by more than 15 times in the 2001-19 period and was entering a new phase with new requirements for development.

According to Nguyễn Đức Kiên, Head of the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council, around 80 percent of the volume of goods traded between countries was handled by sea transport. Similarly, the percentage in Việt Nam was 90 percent, meaning that most of the country’s annual import and export goods were through the seaport system.

“Just look at the operation of the seaport system, one can see that country’s economic development,” Kiên said.

Kiên pointed out a number of advantages of maritime transport, including that it could handle large quantities and long-distance at low costs. “The economic development will affect the development of maritime transport and vice versa, when sea transport develops well, it will promote economic growth.”

Chu Quang Thứ, former Director of the Việt Nam Maritime Administration, said the seaport system saw significant development over the past two decades.

As of the end of April, there were 286 ports across the country with a total wharf length of 96 km, more than 4.5 times longer than in 2000. The seaport system handled a total cargo volume of more than 692 million tonnes in 2020, 8.4 times higher than 2000.

The seaport system was developed in association with the country’ economic hubs and regions, such as Quảng Ninh and Hải Phòng ports for the northern key economic region, Thừa Thiên – Huế, Đà Nẵng, Dung Quất and Quy Nhơn for the central key economic region, HCM City, Bà Rịa – Vũng Tàu and Đồng Nai for the Southeast region and Cần Thơ and An Giang for Cưu Long (Mekong) Delta region.

Việt Nam has set up 32 maritime transportation routes, 25 of which are international.

With open investment policies, Việt Nam has attracted many global port operators and shipping lines to invest in the seaport system, such as the UAE’s DP World, the US’ SSA Marine, PS from Singapore, APMT from Denmark, and Hutchison Port Holding from Hong Kong.

However, there was a lack of consistency between seaport planning and socio-economic development planning of localities and other industries, Nguyễn Xuân Sang, Director of the Việt Nam Maritime Administration said.

The transport infrastructure system was becoming overloaded and outdated, which together with rapid urbanization, industrialization, coastal urban areas, and tourism areas development resulted in congestion at some ports.

“It is necessary to develop new master planning for the seaport system of Việt Nam to ensure synchronous development and meet the country’s requirements for industrialization and modernization,” Sang said.

Lê Tấn Đạt, deputy director of the Construction Consultation Joint Stock Company for Maritime Building, said that the seaport master plan for the next period should take advantage of the favorable geographical locations and natural conditions combined with science and technology advancements to ensure comprehensive development and contribute to improving the competitiveness of the system.

The new planning should focus on investment in key seaports to become pillars for the maritime economy and promote the development of the logistics industry.

The seaport planning in the next period should give priority to the development of international gateways and transshipment ports in Hải Phòng City in the North and Bà Rịa – Vũng Tàu Province in the South and for the central economic region. Seaport clusters would also be developed to serve socio-economic development, including Hải Phòng – Quảng Ninh, Nghi Sơn (Thanh Hóa) – Đông Hồi (Nghệ An), Đà Nẵng – Quảng Nam – Dung Quất (Quảng Ngãi), Quy Nhơn (Bình Định) – Vân Phong (Khánh Hòa) and HCM City – Cái Mép Thị Vải.

Minister of Transport Nguyễn Văn Thể asked the Việt Nam Maritime Administration to evaluate the current situation of the seaport system to raise development orientations in line with forecasts.

Thể said that special attention would be attached to developing the seaport system for the Mekong Delta region which had abundant sources of agricultural products for export but the seaport system remained poorly developed.

He said the Mekong Delta region needed a deep-water seaport which together with Cần Thơ Airport would promote the economic development of the region. — VNS