Mekong Delta localities pitch for Australian investment

 The event aimed to call for investment in developing value chains of agriculture, aquatic processing, tourism, and energy in Dong Thap as well as the neighbouring localities of Long An, Tien Giang, Ben Tre, Can Tho, and An Giang. 

Speaking at the event, Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Nguyen Van Duong said that the Mekong Delta is a trade gateway between Vietnam and ASEAN and Mekong Sub-regional countries. 
As one of the few national economic hubs that also has a natural green landscape, the region supplies up to 90 percent of rice for export, 70 percent of fruit output, and just short of 60 percent of aquatic products for export. However, its potential for farm produce processing and tourism is yet to be fully tapped. 
Hailing Australia for its modern agriculture and food processing, Duong said that regional localities call on Australian businesses to come to work together towards products of high added-value, contributing to the modernisation of agriculture in the region. 
Chairman of the Australian Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam Matthew Lourey held that joint work between Australian firms and Mekong Delta localities will improve the value of key local products and open up more business opportunities. 
Chairman of the Board of Directors for Mavin Group David John Whitehead, lauded Dong Thap as one of the top localities in the nation boasting high competitiveness, adding that this was one of the key factors in their decision to build an animal feed plant worth 675 billion VND (30.2 billion USD) there and expand investment in other projects. 
He pointed out that infrastructure and logistics services in the region remain poor. As a major farm produce and aquatic products manufacturer and exporter, the region still lacks a deepwater port. Meanwhile many bridges are weak and in need of upgrade, making it hard for goods transportation. 
At the event, the provincial People’s Committee signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Mavin Group on building a food processing plant up to European standards, and another MoU with Sun Rice Group on developing rice value chain via linkages with local material zones. The two projects are already worth nearly 1 trillion VND (43.4 million USD). 
Representatives from the Australian Business Group in Vietnam also signed several memoranda of understanding on promoting investment with Long An, Ben Tre, Dong Thap, and Tien Giang.
Dong Thap attracts Australia investors     
Dong Thap Province in the Mekong Delta region has become a magnet for foreign investment, especially those from Australia, speakers said on September 27 at an investment conference held in HCM City.
Nearly 100 investors and financial institutions from Australia explored business opportunities at the meeting organised by the Australian Chamber of Commerce in Viet Nam (Auscham in Viet Nam) and Dong Thap Province.
Shaun Fitzgerald, Australian counselor of politics, economy and trade in HCM City, said: “The economic development of the Mekong Delta region is inextricably linked with Viet Nam’s prosperity, as the region is a critical driver of future economic growth.”
Australia has contributed to major infrastructure projects in the region, particularly in Dong Thap, including the Cao Lanh Bridge, which will connect five million people with markets across Viet Nam, Thailand and Cambodia.
The My Thuan Bridge also received support from Australia as part of the country’s commitment to the economic development of the region.
The bridges, along with other significant infrastructure, will enable companies based in the Delta to expand operations and seek trading opportunities beyond the region, and fuel Viet Nam’s economic growth, according to Fitzgerald.
David John Whitehead, director of Auscham in Ha Noi and chairman of the Marvin Group - an agri-business operating in Viet Nam since 2004, said Dong Thap has great investment potential, especially in agriculture.
“We normally consider two major issues before we make a decision to invest: ease of administrative procedures and investment incentives,” he told Viet Nam News.
“I think the Mekong Delta region and Dong Thap in particular should continue to improve transport and logistics services,” he said, adding that many bridges have a low load capacity, and there are no deepwater ports.
“To attract more foreign investors with large projects, the province should continue issuing tax and investment incentives, especially for agricultural exports, the Delta’s strength,” he said.
Nguyen Van Duong, chairman of the provincial People’s Committee, said that Dong Thap was calling for investment in hi-tech agriculture, the processing industry, urban development, industrial park infrastructure and manufacturing, in addition to tourism, trade and services.
The region has great potential in agricultural products and ecotourism, as well as renewable energy such as wind power, Duong said, adding that with its strategic location, the Mekong Delta is the gateway for trade between Viet Nam and ASEAN members, and the Mekong sub-region.
The delta’s Provincial Competitiveness Index (PCI) ranks among the top six areas in the country, while Dong Thap in particular has been in the top 10 in the National Competitiveness Index for 10 consecutive years, according to Duong.
“Dong Thap will continue to create the most favourable conditions for investors and will improve infrastructure construction, administrative reform and personnel resources,” he said.
At the conference, three Memorandum of Understanding (MoUs) on investment cooperation were signed between the province and investors, including an MoU signed between the province and Marvin Group to build a food-processing factory with total investment of US$20 million.
Dong Thap in Mekong Delta is about 160km southwest of HCM City. With its mild climate, widespread irrigation systems and abundant fresh water and fertile sediment, the province has abundant agricultural resources as well as many precious species of fauna and flora.
With its historical sites, old architecture and traditional craft villages, it also has great potential to become a popular tourist destination.