Lê Hùng Vọng
The Government has approved a plan to build three special economic zones (SEZs) to spearhead the country’s growth and exploit local advantages to impel growth there.
The SEZs, to be built in the coastal districts of Vân Đồn (in the northern province of Quảng Ninh), Văn Phong (in the central province of Khánh Hoà) and Phú Quốc Island (in the southern province of Kiên Giang), will pilot key new economic and administrative policies before they are applied nation-wide to develop the maritime economy.
They would be superior to existing economic zones - where mostly tax and lease incentives are offered - that have failed to attract strategic foreign investors with truly large projects and cutting-edge technologies.
Experts said a Law on Special Economic Zones (or the Law on Special Administrative-Economic Units) needs to be enacted quickly, and administrative and economic policies in conformity with international practices promulgated, to help these SEZs compete with existing special economic zones and free trade zones around the world.
The Ministry of Planning and Investment has been instructed by the Government to draft the law.
The concept of special economic zones has been a familiar one for decades. The Vũng Tàu - Côn Đảo Special Economic Zone was created in 1979, but was dissolved in 1991.
A policy on special economic zone construction was also added to the Constitution in 1992 and reiterated in a Resolution passed by the Party Central Committee in 1994.
Việt Nam has no special economic zones though there are 15 coastal economic zones and 28 border gate economic zones.
World-wide around 4,000 economic zones have been established in 135 countries, creating over 68 million jobs and adding more than US$500 billion worth of traded-related value.
Economic zones, while belonging to a country, have relatively independent status in relation to the outside, enjoy great autonomy, are run through modern and free administrative and economic management mechanisms and are integrated deeply into the global economy.
Raw material shortage
Though shrimp exports in the first eleven months of the year have been worth $2.6 billion, processors have been facing shortages of raw shrimp for processing since, with just a month to go to execute export contracts, demand is huge.
The Cà Mau-based Minh Phú Seafood Corp, which needs 200 tonnes of shrimp daily for processing for exports, said it has to buy raw shrimp every day.
Lê Văn Quang, CEO of the company and deputy chairman of the Việt Nam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), said some processing companies in Cà Mau have had to suspend operations due to the shortage of shrimp.
Trương Quốc Tuấn of Bạc Liêu Seafood JSC said “Shortages impact the employment plans of these companies. The suspension of operations also affects the life span of the processing lines.”
Ngô Thành Linh, deputy chief of planning at the Cà Mau Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said most shrimp processing factories in the province have faced raw material shortages.
The shrimp processing season does not coincide with the shrimp farming season, causing shortages, he said.
Most factories are operating at 40 per cent capacity, he added.
However, Trương Đình Hoè, general secretary of VASEP, denied there was any shortage of raw shrimp, saying most purchase contracts have been fulfilled and processors have bought enough shrimp for this year.
In turn, the processors have fulfilled most export contracts signed with Japanese, Korean, American and European buyers, he said.
Only some contracts with Chinese buyers are remaining to be executed later this month, he added. — VNS