Vieät Nam's future lies connected with the sea
With a coastline of more than 3,000km, the country’s development is inextricably linked to the sea, and while in the past people relied on fisheries for their main source of resources, now tourism and shipping have the potential to boost local growth.
With a coastline of more than 3,000km, the country's development is inextricably linked to the sea, and while in the past people relied on fisheries for their main source of resources, now tourism and shipping have the potential to boost local growth.
Vieät Nam is considering strategies to develop a sea economy, not just to make the most of its resource-rich waters, but to capitalise on a heritage that promises to lead the nation's economy. The waters offer ideal conditions for tourism, aquaculture, shipping wind energy, and oil and gas exploitation. The opportunities are there, but it means co-operating and working with the nine ASEAN member states with common interests.
A highly developed sea economy could possibly contribute 53-55 per cent to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) within five years - and 5560 per cent to export turnover. The nation has already begun a series of sea-driven projects along its 3,260km north-south coastline which borders one million square kilometres of exclusive economic zones.
To date, development of these resources has been patchy, leaving policy-makers much to handle. Studies suggest that the central coastal area should be used as the base for the development of a sea economy.
"If Vieät Nam considers this is pivotal to its existence, the central region must be in the driving seat," Traàn Du Lòch, head of consulting group for central coastal development, told a meeting last month.
The director of the Vieät Nam Institute of Economics, Traàn Ñình Thieân, argued that if the central coastal provinces did not "take-off", the North and the South alone could not develop the country to its fullest potential.
Following this view, Voõ Trí Thaønh, deputy director of the Central Institute for Economic Management, said three key sea-related sectors were under-
“Of course Vieät Nam is profiting from fishing, but strategic regional and international co-operation is necessary to boost the industry.”
developed - tourism, fisheries and logistics.
Thaønh said the central coast had beautiful and unique beaches, but provinces mostly focused on beaches and palm trees, but offered little in the way of heritage and adventure tours.
"Vieät Nam's tourism is quite weak and uncompetitive," said Leâ Quyù Quyønh, director of the National Border Committee's Sea Division under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. "Connections with regional countries like Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia will open other routes for tourism," Quyønh said. "But most provinces offer the same type of experience, so the industry fails to develop."
Quyønh said in the past cruise ship tours from Singapore and Thailand visited Phuù Quoác Island, and others from Hainan Island in China visited Quaûng Ninh Province. However, he added that tour operators could not drum up enough business because of poorly managed attractions.
"It was a big pity, but we learned from the experience," said Quyønh. He suggested coastal provinces needed to invest in and develop sea and island tourism to compete with other countries.
Fishing with ASEAN
The nations that comprise ASEAN have been a major supplier of fish and other sea products for thousands of years. Combined, ASEAN nations account for a quarter of global fish production. Of the world's top 10 fish producers, four are from ASEAN - Indonesia, Thailand, Vieät Nam and the Philippines.
Fishing has the biggest searelated labour force in Vieät Nam. Five million fishermen, millions of indirect workers and tens of thousands of boats provide six million tonnes of seafood a year for domestic consumption. The export trade brings in US$6.7 billion a year.
"Of course Vieät Nam is profiting from fishing, but strategic regional and international co-operation is necessary to boost the industry," said Quyønh. "We need to change individual, national fishing habits so that we can share information on marine resources and co-operate on safety issues, research and development - and human resources.
"It would be a sign of strength if ASEAN member states could sit down together and draw up liberal measures allowing fishermen from