Foreign investors committed to pouring over US$900 million into the Mekong Delta while they were attending a conference on Mekong Delta investment and development in Can Tho City on Monday.
There were 10 memorandums of understanding and a letter of intent signed for 11 projects in a range of sectors such as infrastructure, energy, tourism, seafood processing, education, housing, industrial park, trade and services.
Speaking at the conference, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung said the conference provided an opportunity for investors and local authorities to learn about investment policies and find ways to cope with difficulties and improve connectivity in the region.
The conference was aimed at calling for domestic and international investors to get involved in projects in the Mekong Delta which is responsible for around 18% of Vietnam’s gross domestic product (GDP). The region also contributes 50% of the nation’s rice output, 52% of the seafood output, 70% of the fruit production, 90% of the rice export volume and 60% of the seafood export value.
However, foreign investment activity there remains lackluster in the 13-province region around 450 projects worth over US$7.7 billion licensed there so far.
Minister of Planning and Investment Vo Hong Phuc said insufficient infrastructure and manpower were major bottlenecks for investment in the delta. Although the region has Can Tho and My Thuan bridges connected to National Highway 1A, its national, interprovincial and regional road networks still have limited or no connectivity, Phuc said.
The Mekong Delta has a population of 18 million but over 85% of the work force remains untrained. Among the skilled workers, only 0.65% of them have obtained certificates, 1% vocational training diplomas and 2.57% college, university or post-graduate degrees.
Victoria Kwakwa, country director of the World Bank (WB) for Vietnam, said the WB would help the Mekong Delta attract human resources given its development potential. With WB support, the region will be able to attract more investment, she said.
In the 2006-2010 period, the delta has reached a GDP growth rate of between 10% and 12% a year. However, there remain many shortcomings in socioeconomic development in the region given slow economic restructuring, and inadequate scientific and technological applications.
The competitiveness of local businesses and products are poor and investment attraction is lower than in other parts of the country.