Long-term solutions to ensure the sustainability of industrial zones in the southern region are long overdue, heard a recent conference of leaders of departments of industry and trade from 20 provinces and cities.

Nguyen Nguyen Phuong, of the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Industry and Trade, told the conferees that the city had developed a plan that could be adopted by other provinces to develop industrial zones by 2020.

"We will stop the development of any industrial zone that has incomplete infrastructure or contains residential areas within its borders," he said.

He conceded that the cost of wastewater treatment facilities in industrial zones required a large amount of capital, and suggested that the Government use funds from the state budget to invest in such equipment.

He revealed that the city had asked the Ministry of Industry and Trade to give more autonomy to management boards of industrial and export processing zones in HCM City.

It has also recommended that specialised industrial zones be established for investors who have advanced technologies.

In addition, it also suggested establishing satellite businesses that provide support products and services for the region.

Nguyen Minh Toai, Director of Can Tho's Department of Industry and Trade, has asked the Can Tho administration to approve a project to move factories that cause pollution out of residential areas.

Can Tho has also requested that the Government help build infrastructure in industrial zones.

Meanwhile, Nguyen Van Huu, Deputy director of Binh Duong province's Department of Industry and Trade, said the province needed support from the Government to develop a programme to save and use power efficiently.

Solutions needed for the power-savings programme include investment, training, technologies and cooperation, he said.

"In the long run, the region must strengthen linkages with the rest of the country to lure more investment to the area," said Le Duong Quang, Deputy Mminister of Industry and Trade.

He urged local departments of Industry and Trade in southern localities to complete development plans for the power and petrol sectors as well as industrial zones and other trade sectors.

The increasingly critical problems of environmental protection and food safety and hygiene, especially in the Southern region, were among the other pressing issues discussed at the conference.

The deputy minister noted that many processing firms such as leather and footwear as well as industrial zones discharge waste and contribute to air and water pollution.

"The Ministry of Industry and Trade has also asked local departments to work closely with the power sector to resolve site clearance issues related to the development of power projects," he said.

With the current development of industry and trade, there will be a serious shortage of electricity for industrial production by 2018, he said.

"Export businesses should also be more aware of trade remedies, such as anti-subsidy or anti-dumping cases, which major export markets can impose," he said.

He also emphasised the important role of associations in helping local exporters deal with anti-dumping and anti-subsidy lawsuits.

Covering an area of 71,963 square kilometres and accounting for 21.75 percent of the country's area, the southern region has 33.8 million people, or 38 percent of the country's population.

The region has two major cities – HCM City and Can Tho – and 18 provinces. It is an attractive destination for investment, accounting for more than 55 percent of the country's total foreign direct investment.

The first of its kind, the conference was organised by the ministry and Binh Thuan province's People's Committee. The second conference will be held next year in Can Tho.-VNA