At least 2 billion USD is needed from now until 2020 to modernise Vietnam’s ships, according to Deputy Head of the Vietnam Maritime Administration Bui Thien Thu.

He said that modernising fleets is the key to developing the marine transport market so that it offers higher quality services at lower costs.

The Government has a policy to develop the marine industry and suggested it call for investment capital from foreign organisations and individuals to help with the funding needed.

If possible, foreign investors could contribute up to 49 percent in capital and this would then attract even more financial support, he noted.

Thu also advised businesses in the sector to comply with the recently approved Ministry of Transport project to restructure the marine sector by 2020. Upgrading different types of fleets is an important component of this plan.

At the same time, businesses should enhance coordination with other manufacturers and traders to seek goods transport contracts and create a professional logistics system, he recommended.

He cited weaknesses in the Vietnamese fleet, which numbers 1,800 at present. For example, while the number of small-tonnage vessels remains high, there are very few big ships capable of carrying oil and gas. Additionally, there are about 600 marine transport businesses in Vietnam , but over 500 are private and operate on small scale.

Chu Quang Thu, a maritime expert, said the notable weaknesses of the sector are the poor management of businesses and the loose coordination between fleets. Another limitation is that the average age of Vietnamese fleets is around seven years higher than many foreign ones, he said.

In 2014, Vietnamese fleets carried 98.5 million tonnes of goods, a slight increase of 0.13 percent over the previous year. However, the marine trade activities still face numerous difficulties and fierce competition. Currently, domestic ships can undertake only 10-12 percent of the import-export transport market share by seaways.

Most of the ships are operating in Southeast Asia and Northeast Asia, while they have yet to set routes to Europe and the US – the two major importers of Vietnam.-VNA