This year Soc Trang province is resolved to focus on supporting businesses active in industrial, commercial and service sectors to improve the quality of their products and thus boost their competitiveness, the Saigon Times Daily reported.

The Mekong Delta province also continues to make the most of its traditional markets and at the same time grasp chances of penetrating potential markets.

Soc Trang province recorded 8,090 billion VND in industrial production value, up 2.38% against 2012. Prices of majority products picked up such as rice, up 3%; frozen shrimp, up 2.22%; frozen squid and fish, up 15.04%; frozen fried fish, up 6.61%; and beer, up 14.62%.

Revenues from retail business and services amounted to 37,000 billion VND last year, up 17.11% against 2012. However, the protracted economic slump led consumers to continue tightening spending, resulting in the retail and services sector gaining lower growth than in 2012 (22.68%).

Soc Trang’s export sector performed well in 2013, buoyed mainly by seafood. The province earned 450 million USD from exports, 10% higher than in 2012, of which seafood accounted for 418 million USD, up 19,4% compared to the previous year. But farm produce export turnover slid 45.8% to 32 million USD.

Last year saw Soc Trang spending 22 million USD on imports, up 47.58% year-on-year. Most of imports were for production such as wheat flour, shrimp, chemicals, paints and materials for feed production.

Events hosted by the provincial trade promotion center last year attracted businesses to 35 trade fairs. The center also cooperated with Co.opMart Soc Trang to organize 11 mobile sales trips to districts with total revenues of 368.7 million VND. The Business Studies and Assistance Center (BSA) assisted the province in organizing three fairs featuring Vietnamese goods in Vinh Chau town, Nga Nam district and Tran De district.

Around 104 member enterprises of the High Quality Vietnamese Goods Club and one craft village club took part in the fair, which generated sales of 3.134 billion VND. Soc Trang also called for enterprises to join a project to support sustainable development of businesses and a programme to link producers and distributors.

This year is crucial to Soc Trang province’s socio-economic development plan for 2011-2015. Therefore, apart from seeking measures to ease difficulties faced by enterprises and help them strengthen their competitiveness, authorities have focused their efforts on boosting industrial, trade and service development by improving product quality and tapping opportunities on traditional and potential markets.

Four main tasks remain to be done. First, the province will have to make the business environment more favorable and help enterprises solve their problems to step up production and trade. Authorities will work with organizations and companies to draw up a project to innovate and diversify local products, develop key products meeting market demands and encourage businesses to invest in new technology and energy-saving equipment to sharpen their competitiveness.

Second, the province will develop the industrial sector through product quality and competitiveness improvement. Soc Trang has started to implement the Industrial Development Zoning Plan by 2020 with a vision towards 2030. This is aimed at boosting the processing industry and developing industrial sectors for agriculture and rural development. Agricultural production and processing, feed and wood processing, mechanical engineering and construction materials will also be on the radar. In addition, a plan to develop wholesale and retail networks by 2020 and wind power projects has been approved.

Third, the province will get tough on trade fraud, counterfeit and low-quality products and other violations.

The fourth task is about administrative reforms, management and anti-corruption.

Soc Trang expects to earn 8,400 billion VND from the industrial sector this year, up 3.83% year-on-year, and 44,000 billion VND from the retail, trade and service industries, up 18.92%. Its export turnover is expected to reach 480 million USD, up 6.67% against 2013, of which seafood and farm produce will account for 435 million USD and 45 million USD, respectively. Import spending is forecast at 22 million USD, the same as in 2013.-VNA