Ca Mau provincial People’s Committee Chairman Pham Thanh Tuoi takes Vietnam Investment Review on a tour of the province’s advantages and strategies to appeal to investors.

* Could you please shed light on some of what the province has accomplished as one of the four main economic focuses of the Mekong Delta?

Ca Mau is the southernmost province of Vietnam, 180km from Can Tho city. It is an economic, cultural and education-training hub in the Mekong Delta and faces the ocean on three sides. Particularly notable is its position on the southern coastal corridor project linking Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand which, once completed, will make the province an economic hub of the Mekong River Delta and a gateway for trade with ASEAN.

The province has the advantage of well-rounded economic development, with fishing our most developed focus. With its expansive coastline, Ca Mau is a shrimp feeding ground and an aquaculture giant.

Its total annual seafood output topped 420,000 tonnes with shrimp along accounting for 30 per cent of that total. The province accommodates 28 seafood businesses and 38 export processing plants with a designed capacity of 190,000 tonnes a year. Ca Mau is the leading province in terms of processing and export. We ship products to 40 countries and territories globally including markets like the US, Japan, and the EU.

Ca Mau is also abound with rich forest and minerals. Our forests, mostly mangrove and indigo, are a habitat for a wide variety of flora and fauna. With such an abundance we have dedicated a significant 64,000 hectares to producing plywood materials with an output of 120,000 to 150,000 cubic metres every year.

Ca Mau’s gas fields are a huge energy source, a major factor in spurring gas-fired industries such as power, metallurgy and many more. We are home to two power plants producing 9-10 billion kilowatts a year.

In terms of agriculture, along with 90,000 hectares of rice, the province has potential to grow other plants and cattle as material region for the food processing industry. There is also expansive fertile land producing rice and with the potential for other fruits and vegetables, as well as cattle.

This vibrant natural environment also lends itself to tourism with the U Minh Ha mangrove forest recognised as a world biosphere – a valuable legacy from mother nature.

* Could you point out some of the province’s socio-economic achievements in recent years?

Ca Mau has seen a spike in economic growth and holding now at around 10 percent a year on average. The province’s economic structure has changed as services become more in demand.

We have seen socio-economic infrastructure improve significantly particularly with large projects like a gas power-nitrogenous fertiliser complex and upgrading bridges on the Ca Mau-Nam Can national highway and along the southern coastal corridor.

In the first nine months of 2013 our total GDP reached 13.4 trillion VND (640 million USD) in value, up 8.1 percent on year. We are estimating the indicator for the whole year at around 19 trillion VND (911.9 million USD), up 9 percent. We received investments of 5.8 trillion VND (276.7 million USD), rising 45.7 percent on-year and estimated to hit 9 trillion VND (428.6 million USD) in 2013. Export value went up by 7 percent to 714.7 million USD in the first nine months and is expected to reach 1 billion USD by the end of the year. Average income for this year was around 1,340 USD.

* Ca Mau is one of the first Mekong provinces to implement the three in one – trade, tourism, and investment – model. Could you share some highlights?

Ca Mau established this model to promote investment and has held several promotion events with the participation of numerous enterprises, businessmen and state management officials. On these occasions the province made use of its tourism advantages has seen the participation of many foreign businesses and overseas Vietnamese.

In terms of promoting domestic investments, Ca Mau has held 4-5 conferences as well as trade fairs and is moving much of its promotion online.

Thanks to these activities, over the last 10 years we have gained extensive experience that we will put to good use in achieving sustainable development.

* What will the province do to boost investments in the coming time?

As we are far from Ho Chi Minh City and our infrastructure is underdeveloped, Ca Mau is far from being successful in attracting foreign investors. To narrow the gap between us and other more successful provinces we are focusing on the following targets.

Firstly we will push forward the construction of industrial parks and the Nam Can Economic Zone through local resources and will call on investors to build basic infrastructure to support these areas.

Secondly we have a plan to improve our competitiveness index score through 2020 with a vision to 2030 by creating a sustainable environment for investors.

Last but not least, we are supporting and educating localities on investment procedures to improve their attractiveness. We will soon co-operate with foreign investors to build the Hon Khoai port.

* What are your expectations from this year’s Mekong Delta Economic Conference (MDEC)?

The results of the previous six MDECs have been less than expected, and we are still working to improve the linkage between the Mekong Delta provinces and Ho Chi Minh City, particularly in terms of policies. This year’s conference in Vinh Long will work to improve this and set the following targets.

Firstly, to achieve growth targets while contributing to sustainable development of both the economy and environment as per the government’s green growth plan.

We will also boost investment promotions and communicate better with potential investors on current, upcoming, and theoretical projects. The conference will also strive to improve the cooperation of Mekong provinces to ensure successful social welfare activities.

Finally the conference is a place to create and gather ideas and solutions for policies that will fully exploit regional advantages through green economic development to enhance added value while bolstering our efforts to mitigate climate change.-VNA