The Mekong Delta's 12 provinces and lone centrally administered city, Can Tho, are working on a co-ordinated programme to increase the proportion of industry to 40 percent of their GDP by 2015.

The Southwest Region Steering Committee, which announced this, revealed some of the strategies they plan to achieve this target by increasing the value of manufacturing to 302 trillion VND (14 billion USD).

The delta, the country's largest rice, fruit, producing and aquaculture area, will speed up construction of the Ca Mau gas-electricity-fertiliser project and the O Mon power project to ensure there is enough electricity for industry.

It will develop the industrial axes of Long An –Tien Giang – Can Tho, Can Tho – Soc Trang – Bac Lieu - Ca Mau, and Can Tho – An Giang – Kien Giang.

The region will boost cooperation with HCM City and the south-east to develop, focusing on seafood and agricultural processing.

An Giang, Dong Thap, Vinh Long, and Hau Giang provinces and Can Tho will focus on processing tra fish, Ben Tre province on coconuts, and Tien Giang, Vinh Long, and Can Tho on fruits.

Kien Giang will develop the cement industry and An Giang will focus on mining sand and stones for construction.

Can Tho will develop heavy and high-tech industries, fisheries and agriculture machinery, consumer goods, technology-based sectors, and those that provide high value addition.

The region will build an additional 36 industrial parks and clusters, seaports that can accommodate 10,000-tonne ships, and the HCM City- Can Tho Expressway, and upgrade national highways from Can Tho to Ca Mau and Kien Giang.

An industrial parks association will be set up to facilitate investment.

The region will cooperate with research institutes and universities for technology transfer and training, especially to produce highly qualified workers.

Authorities will assist businesses in mobilising funds, improving their competitiveness, and creating brand names for local products.

With a population of about 17 million, the delta region accounts for more than 20 percent of the country's population.-VNA