The industrial sector has shown signs of recovery in the past year but a shedload of challenges lying ahead need to be addressed to make it a pillar of the economy, officials said.

Minister of Trade and Industry Vu Huy Hoang said with the growth rate rising throughout the year, from 6.9 percent in October to 7.5 percent in November, there are grounds for optimism about the development of industrial production in 2015.

Electricity production and distribution led the upward trend with an average increase of 11.7 percent, followed by the processing and manufacturing areas, which posted a growth of 8.6 percent.

However, Truong Thanh Hoai, deputy head of the Ministry of Trade and Industry’s Heavy Industry Department, said despite the growth, many problems remain.

He noted that industrial production is still focusing on assembling and processing without many products with added value, thus limiting locally-made products’ competitiveness. Industrial production in general and the supporting industry in particular have not attracted investment, while the government’s investment has not been enough to create breakthrough in the sector.

According to Hoai, in the long-term, the industrial sector should shift strongly to products of highly added value with contribution to the economy in order to reduce import surplus and create jobs.

The steel industry is believed to be a key in reducing import surplus, as the country has to spend 9 billion USD on importing approximately 14.5 million tonnes of steel of all types, according to figures from the Heavy Industry Department.

In addition, experts also said the development of the supporting industry will not only help reduce imports but also change the overall situation in the industrial sector. The Government recently issued a range of policies designed to encourage investment in the supporting industry.-VNA