The Ministry of Planning and Investment has released two master zoning plans for socio-economic development for the Southern Key Economic Zone (SKEZ) and Mekong Delta Economic Zone (Mekong KEZ) until 2020, with a vision towards 2030.

The SKEZ consists of Ho ChiMinh City and Binh Phuoc, Tay Ninh, Binh Duong, Dong Nai, Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Long An and Tien Giang provinces.

Under the zoning plan, the Government targets developing the SKEZ into an active economic zone with high quality and sustainable growth. It would also be the economic, trade, cultural, training, healthcare and scientific research hub of the country and the region.

It will have a unified economic structure and modern urban system, of which Ho Chi Minh City will be a multifunctional economic centre with modern infrastructure equal to regional countries, said Vu Quang Cac, head of the ministry's Zoning Plan Management Department.

Accordingly, the SKEZ will have an annual GDP growth rate of 8-8.5 percent from now to 2015 and 8.5-9 percent for the 2016-20 period.

To 2020, the industrial, construction and service sectors will contribute up to 95-96 percent of the region's total GDP, of which the service sector would account for 44 percent of GDP, he said.

GDP per capita would reach 3,900-4,000 USD by 2015 and more than 5,000 USD by 2020, he said.

The plan also seeks to raise the region's export value per capita to 3,700 USD by 2015 and 5,400 USD by 2020, as well as increase technology reform and the ratio of trained labourers.

Regarding socio-economic development, under the plan, the region would have a population of about 21-22 million by 2020, and create jobs for about 340,000-350,000 labourers a year.

The region will strive to reduce the unemployment rate in urban areas to less than four percent and the rate of poor households by two percent each year.

In addition, the plan targets improving residents' health and reducing the malnutrition rate among children under five to less than 10 percent by 2015 and 8 percent by 2020, he said.

The plan also seeks to improve environmental protection by raising the rate of forest and perennial coverage, and ask new production establishments to use clean technology, he said, adding that that all industrial parks must be equipped with concentrated waste water treatment plants by 2015.

By 2020, all trading and manufacturing establishments must meet environmental standards, and all solid and harmful waste treated.

The number of people in rural areas using clean water would reach 96 percent by 2015 and 98 percent by 2020, the rate in urban areas would be 97 percent and 99 percent, respectively.

Regarding security and national defence, the region was asked to strengthen activities to ensure security, politics, social order and enhance national defence potential, closely combining national defence and security with socio-economic development.

To implement the plan, the Government has asked localities in the SKEZ to strengthen economic restructuring reform by improving productivity, quality and competitiveness of economic sectors, and by using modern technology in production and trading.

In addition, the region should focus on developing industrial products that have high added-value such as software, industrial electronics, high-end construction materials, mechanical engineering and spare parts, as well as high-quality services like finance, trading, telecommunication, transportation, tourism, capital markets and property.

More investments are needed to complete the region's infrastructure and to develop high-quality human resources.

Mekong future
Under the approved master plan of socio-economic development in the Key Economic Zone in the Mekong River Delta, by 2020, the zone including the Can Tho city and the provinces of Ca Mau, An Giang and Kien Giang, would be a major region specialising in production of food, seafood and fruits.

The aim is to have the region make an important contribution to ensuring national food security, and exports of agro-products and fisheries.

The zone will also be the country's major energy centre with three electric facilities, namely O Mon, Ca Mau and Kien Luong, and a major services and tourism centre. It will also continue to act as a bridge to help the country integrate into the regional economy.

To realise these functions, the Mekong KEZ will be developed to have a modern economic structure, modern infrastructure network and improved living standards. It is expected to make significant contributions to the country's economic development.

The newly approved master plan includes specific socio-economic targets for the development of the Mekong KEZ.

In particular, the zone will reach GDP growth of 11 percent per year by 2015, and 10.5 percent in the next five years.

The zone's per capita GDP is estimated to be 2,470 USD by 2015 and 4,400 USD in 2020. Its total export value is expected to reach about 5.6 billion USD in 2015 and 10.3 billion USD in 2020.

For agricultural production, the zone expects to annually produce about 9 million tonnes of rice by 2015 and 10.2 million tonnes by 2020. Meanwhile, fisheries' output will rise from 2,030 tonnes in 2015 to 2,420 tonnes in 2020.

The Mekong KEZ is expected to create employment for 170,000 and 17,500 people in the 2016-20 period.

Also under the master plan, by 2020 all industrial parks and urban areas in the Mekong KEZ would have standard waste water treatment systems, and all households would have electricity.

The zone will have a sustainably developed agriculture sector with an annual growth rate of 5.4 percent by 2015 and 5 percent by 2020.

The zone will focus efforts on developing industries with competitive and comparative advantages such as agro-product processing and renewable energies, including biomass power, in order to reach an industrial growth rate of 17 percent by 2015 and 16 percent by 2020, the planning and investment ministry said at the briefing last week.-VNA