High-tech products, a key export item for HCM City, are expected to see strong growth in the near future, according to speakers at a seminar held yesterday in HCM City.

The seminar was organised by the Department of Industry and Trade, Sai Gon Hi-tech Park and WTO Centre's Development and Research Institute.

Huynh Khanh Hiep, deputy director of the city's Department of Industry and Trade, said that export turnover of high-tech products reached 2.46 billion USD, an increase of three times compared to 2011. This accounted for 11.4 percent of HCM City's total export turnover (not including crude oil).

The main export markets for hi-tech products are in Asia (Japan, Singapore, mainland China, Philippines and Thailand).

Among hi-tech products, the city's software exports are expected to reach an average growth rate of 40 per cent each year. By 2015, this is estimated to account for 2 percent of the total export turnover.
However, Hiep said to reach the target, support policies from the government were needed.

He noted that Japan, which imports a great deal of software, especially from China, has shifted its attention to the ASEAN region, including Vietnam. Domestic demand has also increased as more government agencies and businesses have invested in IT.

"Local companies need to restructure businesses, seek high-quality human resources and cooperation opportunities to strengthen exports of high-tech products," Hiep said.

Le Thi Bich Loan, deputy head of the management board of Saigon Hi-Tech Park (SHTP), said that in the first five months of the year SHTP's hi-tech product exports reached 695 million USD out of 1 billion in total export turnover.

However, most of this came from foreign-invested enterprises.

The localisation ratio of high-tech products was still low, at 18 percent. It isexpected to increase to 35-45 percent by 2020, she said.

"Currently, domestic enterprises are facing many difficulties including capital shortage. They are still weak in R&D and design. These are key to increase added value added for products," she said.

SHTP, in collaboration with city authorities, has offered incentives on taxes, land rentals and loans, as well as training support for high-tech support industry projects inside the SHTP.

Chu Tien Dung, chairman of the HCM City Computer Association, said the State should issue support policies on infrastructure for production, including land, technology and communications, to save costs and increase competitiveness with other countries.

Human resources are also an important factor to help software companies develop in an international market. Employees are plentiful, but the quality of staff is not high, failing to meet demand, according to Dung. The lack of skilled workers has hindered export growth of companies, he said.

Dung said there was also a need to build national trademarks for high-tech products and hold more trade promotions to introduce products to the global market.-VNA