Five to seven industries will be selected as national key industries under a draft industrialisation strategy for the period until 2020, which is expected to be submitted to the Government by June.

At the fifth meeting of a special team charged with selecting the key industries, organised by the Central Institute for Economic Management (CIEM) in Hanoi on Feb. 16, participants agreed it was critical for Vietnam to set up an industrialisation strategy and action plans to transition from a low-income nation to an industrialised, middle-income country by 2020.

The list of key industries will be selected from around 12 fields including electronics, motor vehicles, shipbuilding, food processing, steel, petrochemicals, textiles and software.

A list of support industries will also be considered, comprised mainly of equipment production industries such as engine manufacturing, flat steel products, agricultural products and raw materials including crude oil, composite plastics, artificial rubber, aluminium and synthetic fibres.

At the meeting, Minister of Planning and Investment Bui Quang Vinh said the establishment of the industrialisation strategy and action plans toward 2020 and the list of key industries will play an important role as the country's economy restructures.

Vinh said that improving the competitiveness of key industries needs to be part of the strategy, adding that the Government should call for international funding, alongside domestic sources.

Sectors involved with the manufacturing of motorbikes, automobiles and heavy industries attracted the most attention at the meeting.

In terms of motorbike production, foreign experts said the high rate of local production – nearly 100 percent – made Vietnam the fifth largest motorbike market and that domestic production could take advantage of exports to South America and Asia .

However, Vietnamese experts disagreed, saying that automobile production with a focus on trucks should be higher on the list than motorbikes.

Many experts also noted bicycle and garment production as the strongest industries to develop.

Several participants said those two industries should be established to promote exports, transfer technology, improve human resources and develop support industries.

Several foreign investors suggested the electronics sector is also one of the country's key industries, while Japanese experts said Vietnam should establish a petrochemical zone in southern provinces and a bicycle production area focused on exports in the central region.

Several northern provinces have been developed as bicycle production centres for the domestic market, while electronics production zones are being expanded in HCM City and Hai Phong.

Textiles, agricultural products, seafood and software have been some of the country's leading exports, but there are doubts about the future of these industries.

Experts said the existing advantage of low-cost labour for garment and footwear producers would decrease in the future./.