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The regional association - an important measure for sustainable development of the southeastern region (P.1) Print
Friday, 19 April 2013 10:11

VIETRADE - General overview of the Southeastern Region

The Southeastern Region has six provinces and one city, namely: Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Binh Duong, Binh Phuoc, Dong Nai, Tay Ninh and Ho Chi Minh City.  The region has the highest population growth rate in the country due to attracting many immigrants from other areas. The geographical position of Southeastern Region is extremely advantageous to the socio-economic development. The region is adjacent to the Mekong River Delta–the country's largest region of food and ration and convenient to interaction through a networkof canals and road system. It easily exchanges with Cambodia and the Southern highland region via road system. And it can communicate with other provinces in the country, especially in the South Central Coast through road and railway system. Port complex of Saigon (by air and sea) and Vung Tau makes a gateway to foreign countries.


Natural conditions and natural resources: The quite fertile basalt soil makes up to 40% of the area, connecting to the basalt soil of Southern highland region and South Central pole. The Southeastern  Region has great potentialities to develop perennial crops (rubber pepper, coffee, cashew nuts), fruit trees and short-term industrial crops (soybean, sugarcane, tobacco, etc) on a large scale. The Southeastern Region is located near big fisheries, namely Ninh Thuan, Binh Thuan, Ba Ria-Vung Tau and Minh Hai-Kien Giang and has idealistic conditions to construct fishing ports. Furthermore, the coastal area with mangrove forests is favorable to farming saltwater and brackish water seafood. The outstanding mineral resource of the region is oil and gas on the continental shelf, apart from clay for building material industry and kaolin for ceramic industry. Importantly, Dong Nai River system has a large hydropower potential.


The Southeastern Region has a developed commodity economy in which the economic structure of industry, agriculture and services develops at a higher rate than that of other areas throughout the country. The locality strongly attracts highly expertise labor force, from skilled workers to engineers, scientists, and entrepreneurs. The dynamic and creative economic development, as a result, facilitates the region to have gray matter resource.


In the industry structure of the country, the Southeast region currently accounts for the highest proportion with prominent industries such as metallurgy, electronics, machinery manufacturing, information technology, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, food, etc. This is the most developing economic region in Vietnam with the urbanization rate of 50%. Its foreign capital is in the top rank area of the country, notably in the provinces of Dong Nai, Binh Duong, Ho Chi Minh City and Ba Ria-Vung Tau. The Southeastern region is considered as a leading developed economy in the country. The recent development of the southeastern region, however has not match with its available potentials and advantages. Actually, the economic development of provinces in the region is spontaneous in nature; the communication and coordination among localities in the region is not good; the quality of planning is low; the economic efficiency is still limited.


Current association situation among provinces and cities in the Southeastern Region

Referring to the Southeastern region, managers and economists do not know clearly whether its prominent strength is industry, agriculture, services, oil and gas, port, finance, banking or tourism. It is admitted that Ho Chi Minh City is an economic centre of the region with a fast growth of its economy. However it has still been under discussion whether the city’s strength is industry, service and financial center or science and technology so far.


Some analyst ideas show that it should be a service and financial center rather than focus on industrial development because the city does not have strength on land and resources. Instead, the industrial development should be transferred to other neighboring provinces in the region. Notwithstanding, the city is also being planned to develop according to the program of industrialization - modernization, that is, Ho Chi Minh City also needs to develop industries.


Regarding provinces in the Southeastern Region, they are only known as the industrial parks (IPs) than any other sectors and industries apart from or ports and oil and gas in Vung Tau. Perhaps IP is a strong point of the Southeastern Region. Actually, the strong development of industrial parks in the region has a positive contribution to the region’s economy. IPs of the provinces in the region, however are competing each other to attract investment projects. The development of industrial parks is spontaneous in each province and does not comply with the region’s master plan. In reality, the development space is separated and segmented by administrative boundaries. This leads to two different policies of land lease and labor price at two neighboring IPs. Such competition does not facilitate IPs to cooperate for the capital attraction, arrangement of professions and fields and development of support services.


In the Southeast, the unfair competition among IPs is very popular, mainly land rent and taxes are determined separately by the macroeconomic policy of each province. Each province has its own general plan for development of industrial parks but has no a regional master plan. They freely attract investment projects without preferential focus and direction.


The industrial parks are almost similar to each other because they mainly develop traditional industries such as footwear, textiles, furniture, electronic appliances assembly. Nevertheless high modern industries which facilitate province and the region’s economic development are negligible. Typically, industrial parks in Ba Ria-Vung Tau which can manufacture anything, from steel to flour, are adjacent to one indusdeveloped trial park. This is inappropriate and unacceptable for the regional economic planning.


In the absence of the regional planning, the development of industrial parks is also affected, especially the level development of infrastructure. Facilities such as roads, ports, electricity, water, internet services, telecommunications, etc. among areas are poor and not synchronous. Investors at each province are benefited only from facilities which are focused on improvement by that province but not from other provinces. Due to shortage of the regional planning, land fund for industrial park development is used ineffectively and rapidly depleted. Apart from consequence of environmental pollution, this especially leads to the development of population clusters meanwhile social welfare for residents of industrial parks seems to be floated.(to be continued)

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