Southwest Region Steering Committee Deputy Director Nguyen Phong Quang talked to the Lao Dong (Labour) newspaper about breakthrough measures for the development of the Mekong Delta region.

Q: Can you tell us about some of the Mekong Delta region's achievements over the past year?

A: The Mekong Delta region has contributed more than 50 percent of the country's total production, over 90 percent of total rice exports, 70 percent of fruits and 52 percent of aqua-products in the country. The region also has a lot of potential for developing the food, energy and tourism industries.

In 2014, the region's economic growth rate has reached 8.98 percent. It is estimated that rice output would increase by more than 25.4 million tonnes. More than 800,000 tonnes of tra fish and nearly 448,000 tonnes of shrimp were produced.

Total export turnover has reached more than 15.2 billion USD, an increase of 16.9 percent compared with the same period in 2013. Average income was 39 million VND (1,850 USD) per capita annually.

The committee has asked the Government to handle big problems in region, such as agriculture, policies for immigrants or preferential policies for development of Phu Quoc island.

Q: What have been the major difficulties facing the region?

A: A main difficulty in attracting investment was the shortage of preferential mechanisms and policies for the region. The area lacks skilled workers, while transport and irrigation infrastructure are still weak. Agricultural products for export haven't brought in high earnings or gained competitiveness in the global market.

There are many shortcomings in forecasting market and production, processing, consumption and application of science and technology in agricultural production. There is no substantial co-operation between regional and international investors.

Q: What are some measures that could help the region develop in the coming year?

A: Localities should collaborate closely and implement measures to contribute to rapid, sustainable development in the region in the coming years.

The committee will continue to ask the Government to work on projects and improve regulations in the Mekong Delta region between 2014 and 2019. It will also ask about a Mekong Delta regional project on improving farmers' training, and the production of rice, tra fish, shrimp and fruit.

The construction of expressways like Trung Luong-My Thuan My Thuan-Can Tho and other key national infrastructure projects will start in the coming years. We will continue doing research, and ask the Government to create a special policy for agriculture and rural development in the Mekong Delta region and on Phu Quoc island.-VNA