|Dung Quat Oil Refinery Plant in central Quang Ngai City. Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has said the central coastal region has the potential to boost socio-economic development but is being held back by a system of poor quality roads, airports and sea ports. — VNA/VNS Photo Huy Hung
DA NANG (VNS)— Central coastal provinces are, to a certain extent, trapped by underdevelopment and poverty as well as poor infrastructure and economic connections, Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc told the Central Region Economic Forum yesterday.
"The central coastal region has plenty of potential to boost socio-economic development, but the infrastructure system, including road, airports and sea port, are in poor condition," Phuc said.
"The region could be a key zone for Viet Nam by expanding its tourism, marine economy, oil and gas industry and economic zones," he said.
The deputy PM also said poverty in the region was still higher than the country's average rate.
"The number of poor household amounts to 17 per cent of the population," he said. "Twenty five of the 62 districts are still classed as poverty-stricken situation."
Phuc said the region had yet to attract a world-level business or a major international trademark airport or seaport.
"The forum today is a chance for leaders of nine provinces in the region to find ways to boost the advantages in the region, restructure the economy and complete a master plan for the region's prosperity."
Head of the central region's Development Consultancy Council, Tran Du Lich, said the linking of the provinces in 2011 had led to good achievements in socio-economic development.
"The establishment of a management board for the central provinces ended 500 years of separate development," Lich said.
"Leaders of the nine provinces agreed on overall development of tourism, car building, ship-building, fisheries, logistics, including more connections to the Mekong River and the Central Highlands."
"The links between the provinces have created more favourable conditions for equal economic growth - with advantages for each," he said.
Lich said the region's GDP, about VND310 trillion (US$15 billion), accounted for only 9.56 per cent of the total for Viet Nam,
"The region has an average of 10 per cent growth of GDP, higher than the country's average GDP growth (5.96 per cent).
However, investment capital for development was just 13.47 per cent of the national average, while export turnover was just 3.89 per cent.
He said the coastal central region had six airports, 13 seaports, six coastal economic zones, a high-tech park and 14 national roads and rail roads.
The region was also building a 500km coastal road to connect tourism destinations from Thua Thien-Hue to Binh Thuan.
Head of the Viet Nam Economic Institute, Tran Dinh Thien said that the coastal central region should play a key role for the country's socio-economic development.
"Viet Nam's economy could not take off if the coastal central region and the Central Highlands region remain still underdeveloped," he said.
"The region needs a special mechanism and positive support from the Government to boost its potential for a marine economy, tourism, fishing and high-tech agriculture," said Thien.
Thien said that developing the coastal urban region with sea and air ports would be a crucial step in its socio-economic development.
He suggested the Government invest more in infrastructure to link destinations and UNESCO-recognised heritage in Quang Nam, Thua Thien-Hue and Quang Binh.
He said the fishing industry would play a key role in the region's advancement.
At the forum last year, the region granted investment licences to nine projects worth nearly US$200 million.
Regional industrial parks have attracted 943 projects, of which 775 involve foreign direct investment, with a total capital of over US$1.3 billion. — VNS