VietNamNet publishes the last part of our round-table talks with Dr. Nguyen Chu Hoi and Dr. Tran Dinh Thien about Vietnam’s marine economy.
Dr. Tran Dinh Thien: I would like to cite the example of China’s Shenzhen. It was a fishing village at the beginning, with 300,000 poor people. The initial policy to develop Shenzhen was the most free policy at that time, so it is called “special zone”. After 30 years, that fishing village has become a big and modern city that no city in Vietnam can compare. Its GDP is higher than Vietnam’s GDP. That is the imagination of an economic zone.
Our economic zones are only bigger than industrial zones, around 10,000-15,000 hectares. The policy for these zones are not special at all and investment in these zones prolong forever because with that policy, no investor wants to enter these zones. These zones must be the centers of the best things.
I think we should build special zones like China or at least they have to cover several hundreds of square kilometers.
VietNamNet: Both of you see Hai Phong as the ideal place for develop a coastal economic zone. What do you image of the face of Hai Phong in the future?
Dr. Tran Dinh Thien: We need further research to answer this question in details. I think that Hai Phong has had big plans and the vision for the future but it is necessary to discuss its vision. Hai Phong has to look at Singapore, not to Vinh or Da Nang cities in Vietnam. That vision must exceed the border of a port city.
Hai Phong has many advantages but it needs more airports, good roads, modern technology to become a modern port city, and with port authorities.
VietNamNet: We know that Dr. Nguyen Chu Hoi worked with an international organization about the so-called “living in peace and developing together” in Da Nang city. What do you think about Da Nang as a place for develop a coastal economic zone?
Dr. Nguyen Chu Hoi: Da Nang is a model of development with initial success. The city is praised to have a good development plan and seriously implementing that plan. However, the city still abuses coastal areas in the context of climate change and sea rise level and more natural disasters.
I think Da Nang is quite subjective with natural disasters. The city has licensed many beach resorts that cut off its coast into many pieces. It is not a beautiful coastal city if you can only see the beach through the gaps between buildings. Da Nang should choose “green investment” to have “green economy”.
In 1998, the World Bank planed to develop the coastal area of Quang Ninh, Hai Phong under a complete development frame (CDF) and it advised Vietnam to focus on four fields only. However, Vietnam did not approach to this way because at that time, there were some foreign-invested projects in this region, which did not appropriate to CDF.
Dr. Tran Dinh Thien: Early this year, Da Nang took initiative in organizing a national conference on building Da Nang into a big city in the region, but what region? Attendants brought world models to the conference to compare with Da Nang. Through that conference, Da Nang authorities can see the truth of itself.
I know that Da Nang plans to develop an ambitious development plan but at the current situation; it is very difficult because its land is limited and the city has been taken shape already.
VietNamNet: What is the future for implementing the marine strategy to 2020 because until now, we have only organized workshops to discuss the strategy?
Dr. Nguyen Chu Hoi: The Vietnam marine strategy to 2020 and other important resolutions often point out many ambitious targets, but they do not have specific solutions to achieve these targets as well as parameters to measure the level of success of these plans.
The marine strategy’s strategic goal is turning Vietnam into a strong and rich country based on the sea. This is very difficult to assess and difficult to achieve because we have only nine years to do it.
Our marine science and technology seems to not change in the last four years, since the marine strategy was issued. We still use old laboratories, do not have standardized surveillance ships and modern technologies, the human resources are not trained…
It is very obvious what we have to do.
VietNamNet: Which government agency is in charge of the sea strategy?
Dr. Nguyen Chu Hoi: The Office of the Party Central Committee and the Government Office are responsible for guiding and implementing the marine strategy to 2020. Similar organizations at ministries, sectors and provinces also involve.
The goal to turn Vietnam into a strong and rich country based on the sea has two aspects of one issue: strong and rich. This relation is very interesting and it shows the political determination of the Party, the State and the government and it is also the legitimate aspiration of Vietnamese people.
It is uneasy to be a strong and rich country. How is a strong and rich country? We must have parameters for this concept.
Our fishery sector earned $4.5 billion of export revenue last year, ranking in the world’s top ten for seafood export. But it does not mean Vietnam has a developed and sustainable fishery sector because we earn from large quantity, not from added value of seafood products. We do not have international cooperation in fishery.
To achieve that goal, we have to define specific tasks to do. We must have specific designs and requirements for projects that serve the marine strategy; otherwise someone will take advantage of the marine strategy to “draw” projects which have no contribution to the marine economy.
Dr. Tran Dinh Thien: This is a long-term but specific story. Firstly, we need to settle to some level disputes in the sea to ensure stability for development.
Secondly, to have good marine strategies, there are two significant factors. The first is the contingent of businesses must be strong, including strong sea-related businesses. The second is developing sea-related science and technology and human resources.
If we do not concentrate on these factors, our marine strategy will be still general because we do not have necessary conditions to implement it.