Viet Nam News
by Hoàng Nguyên
BẾN TRE — To “attract eagles”, Bến Tre needs to build nests first, Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc told an investment promotion conference held by the Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta province yesterday.
More than 500 Vietnamese and foreign investors from various sectors - like renewable energy, eco-tourism, and agricultural and aquatic processing - participated in the event.
Phúc was impressed by the big investor turnout, especially the presence of some major companies, whom he called “eagles”.
To persuade them to stay and invest, Bến Tre needs to focus on four things, he said.
“The first is to offer land to investors, especially in aquaculture, high-tech agriculture, processing and manufacturing, to support the agricultural sector and build more industrial parks.”
The others are to build infrastructure; provide investors with high-quality human resources; and adapt to changes and improve public services to take care of investors; and work together with them and share difficulties with them, he said.
“I am very happy to see that many executives, even the ambassador of Denmark to Việt Nam, and investors from Thailand, Japan and [Việt Nam] have hailed the support provided by Bến Tre authorities.
“But that is not enough, the province needs to listen to and work together with enterprises.”
It needs to have a strategic plan to overcome the challenges of salinity intrusion since Bến Tre is one of the places severely affected by climate changes, he said.
Recently the Japan International Co-operation Agency agreed to provide loans worth 24.2 billion yen (US$216 million) for the Bến Tre Water Management Project to mitigate salinity.
Phúc said he would soon hold discussions with the Dutch Government on measures to deal with climate change and rising sea levels in the delta, especially the worst hit areas like Bến Tre.
Danish Ambassador Charlotte Laursen said Bến Tre has a long history of co-operation with Denmark, whose projects there cover both capacity building and poverty reduction, and include biogas, fisheries, agriculture, the environment and water.
Though there are an increasing number of Danish investors interested in the Mekong Delta, especially Bến Tre, most Danish investments in the country are in Hà Nội or HCM City.
“I think I need to make the Danish investors more aware [of Bến Tre’s potential] because they look at bigger areas like Hà Nội and HCM City. I am very happy to come to Bến Tre and bring some investors with me so they can see the potential for themselves.”
According to Ureerat Ratanaprukse, the Thai Consul General in HCM City, Thais rank among the top foreign investors in the province with a total registered capital of $142 million, and Bến Tre is home to four leading Thai companies.
“For Thailand, Bến Tre is definitely one of our important economic partners in Việt Nam.”
She said the Thai companies choose to invest in Bến Tre due to “3Ls” -- location, logistics and labour.
“Bến Tre Province and provinces in Thailand share many common characteristics. Situated in the Mekong Delta, Bến Tre is suitable for agricultural production. Its abundant and high-quality natural resources, especially fruits and fisheries, make Bến Tre a strategic location for food processing industries, including those from Thailand.”
Thanks to its geographical proximity to HCM City and Cần Thơ and two bridges connecting to nearby places like Tiền Giang, Bến Tre has very convenient transportation, she said.
Bến Tre has an abundant and skilled workforce, with 50 per cent of its 1.5 million population being workers, more than half of them trained, she said.
“But more importantly, the province’s support for all investors through several measures including tax exemption plus the determination and commitment of the leaders, which are clearly reflected in the 2017-20 provincial Master Plan on improving the infrastructure, industrial clusters, tourism, agriculture and renewable energy - in particular solar and wind energy, make Bến Tre an attractive hub for investment.”
With its incentives and constant support to investors, Bến Tre has attracted 40 new projects this year.
Of them, 37, worth VNĐ20.6 trillion ($900 million) are by local investors and the remaining three are FDI projects worth $217 million.
At the conference, 30 projects worth VNĐ 45 trillion ($2 billion) received licences from the provincial authorities. — VNS