By just over three years from now, Hai Phong City aims to achieve the goal of becoming an industrial city. This is a significant pressure on the Party, the government and the people of the coastal city. Not only being an industrial city, Hai Phong is shouldered the mission of being a large, highly competitive industrial service centre and capably boosting the northern economy.
Expectations of integrating Hai Phong turn on it being a pillar of economic growth. After becoming a city over a century ago, Hai Phong was an open gateway to the ocean and to the world from the north of Vietnam.
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc outspokenly requested Hai Phong City, with its tradition, better infrastructure and strategic location in “two corridors - one belt” economic cooperation with China, to nurture the desire of becoming a smart city to make greater contributions to the national economy.
Regarding Hai Phong City’s economic growth, we can cite impressive figures such as a GRDP per capita of nearly US$3,500 (1.4 times higher than the national average) and an economic growth of 9.6 per cent in 2011 - 2016 period (higher than the national rate of 5.91 per cent). The city was a top recipient of foreign direct investment (FDI) in the country with US$14.03 billion in the 2011 - 2016 period.
However, those cannot equate the city’s ambitions and position in the national economy. According to Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, among 13 provinces and cities with contributions to the Central State Budget, Hai Phong does not appear in the top group and presently contributes just 12 per cent of its total budget revenue. Indeed, the city’s economic size remains small and its ripple effects on the development of the northern key economic zone are below expectations.
For example, eight out of 10 key exports of Hai Phong City are unprocessed or semi-processed, and the remaining two - apparels and footwear - have low surplus values. Its economy needs the further development of high-tech industries and high-value modern services such as finance, credit and banking.
Its economic limitations also come from objective factors like global economic downturn. As the centre of shipbuilding industry and a platform for Vietnam to become a shipbuilding powerhouse, the city seriously suffered economic downturn because of shrinking demand for new ships. Economic crisis and recession wrecked the shipbuilding industry. After nearly 10 years, this sector has not regained its previous growth momentum. In addition, other industrial products like steel and cement are also negatively impacted by the recession.
To become an industrial city by 2020 and, to a greater extent, a smart, highly competitive city, Hai Phong needs to take new bold actions. Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc hopes that the city will create a new vitality, a new belief and an aspiration for people and enterprises to make investment and do business. The central government is willing and ready to side with the municipal government to create this new vitality.
Creating new inspirations
Hai Phong City deserves to be called a trailblazer of integration and renovation in the country. And, the status of being the first and largest seaport in northern Vietnam has added to the generosity, might and resolution of Hai Phong people. We pledge that “The success of investors means the development of the city.”
Looking back on the city’s impressions on shaping a friendly and effective environment for business start-ups, Hai Phong climbed seven places in the Provincial Competitiveness Index (PCI) rankings to secure the 21st position in 2017. On May 30, 2017, when the Public Administration Reform Index (PAR Index) 2016 was announced by the Ministry of Home Affairs, the city was ranked second out of 63 provinces and cities. Furthermore, Hai Phong City targeted to reduce by at least 30 per cent the time required to settle procedures related to investment, land and construction from current regulations.
In addition to administrative reform, the city has accelerated the construction of key infrastructure projects to enhance the appeal of the investment environment. Remarkable projects include Hai Phong International Gateway Port, Bach Dang Bridge, expanded National Highway 10, urban transport development projects, coastal expressways (commenced in 2017), and expanded National Highway 37 (started in 2017). And especially, on May 12, 2016, Cat Bi International Airport was officially inaugurated.
The city’s new inspirations do not just refer to its leadership in attracted FDI value, technical infrastructure or specific policies and mechanisms for a centrally-planned first-grade urban city that the central government is going to announce. The inspiration is also the entrepreneurial spirit of Hai Phong people.
With 2.2 million people, Hai Phong City has over 30,000 enterprises, standing in the top group of localities in the country. The will to do business of people unlocks resources. The city has promoted the development of innovative business start-up ecosystem. The ecosystem includes plans and orientations of authorities, the involvement of start-up entities, the engagement of investors and start-up funds, and the participation of media agencies. The government, financial institutions and entrepreneurs are all ready to inspire business start-ups in Hai Phong.
Come to Hai Phong City, do business and earn success with Hai Phong; we always try our best to make that success happen. Hai Phong people are courageous. They used to be at the forefront and make great contributions to renovation (doi moi) process of the nation. That success is pushing forward the city on the way to become an industrial city, a trade centre and a growth engine of the northern economic zone.
Nguyen Van Tung
Chairman of Hai Phong People’s Committee