Cao Duc Phat, deputy head of the Party Central Committee’s Economic Commission, speaks at the conference. (Source: VNA)

HCM City (VNA) – Officials and economic experts have emphasized regional connectivity as the key to sustainable economic development in the southeast region.

Addressing the Southeast Region Economic Forum 2016 in HCM City on September 16, Cao Duc Phat, deputy head of the Party Central Committee’s Economic Commission, noted that the region’s economic development has not met its potential and advantages and pointed to growth quality, human resources, infrastructure and regional connectivity as areas in need of improvement.

Despite its status as one of key economic regions, institutions and mechanisms for economic coordination and linkage are absent, he said.

Doan Duy Khuong, Vice President of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the region should strive for strong intra-region economic linkage in order to optimize its advantages.

Dang Xuan Quang, Deputy Director of the Foreign Investment Agency under the Ministry of Planning and Investment, stressed the need to increase linkages with other regions, particularly the Mekong Delta and the Central-Central Highlands regions, to expand market and create supply chains.

He also stressed the need to train a workforce of regional and international capability, considering it as one of breakthrough solutions to ensure the region’s sustainable development.

Phat said the region should look at other economic hubs in ASEAN, Asia and the world to understand the need to reform mechanisms, policies and institutions to compete effectively and connect with other big economic centres in the region and the world.

He also urged the region to clarify the direction for industrial development, suggesting it give priority to high-tech and clean industries and those of highly-added value.

The southeast region, which includes HCM City and Ba Ria – Vung Tau, Binh Duong and Dong Nai provinces, accounts for nearly 60 percent of the country’s total export value and nearly half of foreign direct investment capital.

It is expected to become the locomotive of the country’s economy under a master plan to 2020.-VNA