A trial cooperation programme between Hanoi and neighbouring localities is critical to boosting trade and stabilising the regional market, a seminar heard last week.

The programme has helped improve organisation of the regional distribution system and facilitated the exploration of the range of food, agricultural and seafood products that are produced in key northern economic provinces.

The provinces, including Hanoi , Hai Phong, Quang Ninh, Vinh Phuc, Bac Ninh, Hai Duong and Hung Yen, play a key role in the economic development of the entire the Red River Delta region.

Participants said that each locality has its own potential to develop specific industries and commerce. However, the potential will remain untapped if there is no effort to cooperate.

Nguyen Van Dong, deputy director of Hanoi 's Department of Industry and Trade (DoIT) said there has been a supply shortage in recent years of several commodities such as cooking oil and high quality rice which are not produced in the city.

Thanks to the cooperation with neighbouring localities, Hanoi has been able to satisfy consumer demands, he said.

He also said that as the administrative centre, Hanoi must closely cooperate with neighbouring localities in order to develop supplies as well as the distribution system while ensuring growth in the entire Red River Delta Region.

Participants also said that the programme should be organised amongst businesses over the long term.

In the near future, Hanoi will create more favourable conditions for key traders with significant experience, abundant capital, good warehouses and transportation and distribution systems to sign long-term contracts with farmers and manufacturers in other localities, Dong said.

Hanoi 's DoIT will also help manufacturers in other localities access the capital's market to more easily sell their products and set up their own distribution systems.

However, the cooperation faces several obstacles due to unstable supplies, bad weather and diseases, the seminar was told.

Because there is no established wholesale market for foods and agriculture products in the region, trading has been done by small family-owned markets and small – and medium – sized enterprises. The region is also lacking a large corporation which can intervene to control fluctuations in the market, participants heard.

Vu Vinh Phu, chairman of the Hanoi Supermarkets' Association, suggested that in order to enhance cooperation, provincial departments of Industry and Trade must guide their businesses to focus on core products while also providing more incentives to encourage companies to find markets in other provinces./.