An exhibition of agricultual products on the sideline of the 2021 Mekong Connect Forum in HCM City on December 17. — VNS Photo
HCM CITY — HCM City Chairman Phan Văn Mãi has said linking the city and the Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta city and provinces is an urgent need for the development of both places.
Speaking at the 2021 Mekong Connect Forum in the city last week, he said in the process of its economic development, HCM City always appreciates the connection with provinces and cities in the delta.
"The Mekong Delta region is rich in renewable energy resources, has advantages for marine economic development and possesses a strong start-up eco-system, while HCM City is a major commercial centre for the whole region.
“We share connections in transport, human resources, business and production chains, maritime economy, tourism, aviation,start-up eco-system and supporting industries.”
The city buys raw materials from the delta and sells processed goods to the region, and it is necessary to promote links between the two sides for mutual economic recovery and development after the epidemic, he said.
He expected the forum to help enhance the linkages so that they could jointly build mechanisms and policies to attract investments, fully exploit the region's agricultural potentials and strengths, and mobilise all possible internal and external resources for sustainable socio-economic development.
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Lê Minh Hoan said Mekong Connect is a chance for officials from local administrations, ministries and businesses to exchange ideas for improving connectivity between HCM City and the Mekong Delta’s cities and provinces.
The delta is not short of land for production, but lacks a vision for developing its rural economy.
It is necessary to involve enterprises more in agriculture and strengthen the links between farmers and businesses, he said.
Dr Vũ Thành Tự Anh of Fulbright University Vietnam said localities in the delta tend to be competitive rather than co-operative, pointing out they forgot about the need for sustainable development of the whole region during the fourth outbreak of COVID-19.
As a result, each had its own social distancing regulations, resulting in supply chain disruptions, he said.
Localities sign co-operation agreements at conferences and seminars but have undertaken no practical activities to promote linkages, he said.
Mekong Connect is an effort to create a common voice to advocate for policies for the delta and help turn promises for the region into real investments, he said.
The region must foster linkages for the Government to invest in the region, and develop a common database system, he said.
Nguyễn Anh Đức, general director of Saigon Co.op, said enterprises need to take initiatives for co-operation with local government and firms, and business support packages adopted by the Government need to be more consistent and accessible.
In a panel discussion on developing human resources for agriculture and the Mekong Delta at the forum, Assoc Prof Dr Lê Anh Tuấn, a senior lecturer at Cần Thơ University, said the region is home to 17.3 million people.
In the country, the delta has the lowest rate of immigration and the highest rate emigration, and is the only region where the population is not growing, he said.
So it faces a severe labour shortage, making it difficult to attract large investments, he said.
Dr Nguyễn Quân, a former science and technology minister and chairman of the Vietnam Automation Association, said the delta is “the country’s rice granary as well as seafood and fruit production hub. But now [it] is the area that suffers the most in terms of [not attracting] investment and human resources."
"Of the more than 17 million people in the Mekong Delta, a very low number have university or college degrees, even lower than in the Central Highlands and north-west.”
Tiêu Yến Trinh, CEO of Talentnet, said it is necessary to have strategies to attract talent and develop human resources.
"To attract talent, it is necessary to create a narrative for a company or locality that makes its employees proud of working for it, improve social security and, especially, offer appropriate salaries and bonuses."
Held by the city Department of Industry and Trade, the Business Association of Vietnamese High Quality Products and the Việt Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Cần Thơ branch, the forum also included an exhibition of agricultural products. — VNS