Today, Vietnam’s modern infrastructure is able to accommodate the world’s largest ships ( photo: Tan Vu port, Hai Phong)
Overcoming postwar difficulties
Dr. Chu Quang Thu, the Former Director of VMA ( Vietnam Maritime Administration), expressed that it was an unforgettable time after the American Vietnam War, when the Maritime Industry along with the whole country was reviving its Society and Economy. It had only 8 poorly facilitated seaports including: Hai Phong, Quang Ninh, Ben Thuy, Song Gianh, Da Nang, Quy Nhon, Nha Trang and Sai Gon.
“Hai Phong was the only one equipped with a few old cranes with a cargo capacity of only 3-10 tons, accommodating 5000-7000 tons weight ships. The fleet had just 3 ships of Vietnam Shipping Company, including Hoa Binh, Huu Nghi, Thong Nhat, which could load a maximum of 700 tons. These ships are for carrying in exported agriculture goods from Vietnam to Hong Kong”, he added.
According to Dr. Thu, on Nov 28th 1978, the government, as a result of innovation requirement, established the Vietnam General Department of Seaway, under the Ministry of Transport (the predecessor of VMA today). In the period of 1976-1978, VMA had bravely subscribed loans to buy and build thousands of tons of ships from many foreign banks. The ocean going fleet developed more transport routes, such as Bangkok-Japan, Bangkok-Philippines, Japan-Bangladesh, India-Europe,etc.
“In order to implement the 5-year plan assigned by MOT, the maritime industry had to expand Hai Phong port and its routes, build another two ports in the North of Vietnam, Chua Ve and Vat Cach ports. Besides, the Middle continued the construction of Ben Thuy port to double Danang port’s capacity and restore Quy Nhon port, while ports in the South including Sai Gon, Can tho, Vinh Long was also “upgraded”, Mr. Thu informed. During the period, it was necessary for the industry to change to replace its previous mode. Specially, it would no longer rely on a subsidized regime, shift to economic accounting business and production mode, which is responsible for its own interests and losses instead.
Since 1980, as industrial production had come to a deadlock, the General Department of Seaway decided to establish management board for renovation projects in ports, speeding up their recovery and upgrading. In 1984, the Maritime applied the hire-purchase agreements to buy two Japanese ships for the first time contributing US $26 million to national income while the world’s maritime market was in crisis.
Growing up by each Maritime Code
In 1986, together with the country’s renovation, Maritime had a significant transformation, especially in the field of Seaports.
Mr. Nguyen Ngoc Hue, the Former Director General of VMA, explained that the development of Vietnam’s seaport system is closely associated with Maritime Code.
“In 1990, the first Maritime Code was promulgated, allowing a general seaports system project which concentrated to develop not only ports located in quiet sea areas but also semi-open ones in the Middle. In 1990, the Prime Minister of Vietnam signed to approve this project until 2020 to legalize investment activities in ports, increase the efficiency of maritime exploitation”-said Mr. Hue.
After the economic embargo was lifted, many construction projects were deployed by Japan’s ODA. As a result, there was a high increase in both the port margin’s length and cargo volume. Here, port exploitation operations was separated from State management function.
Maritime Code in 2005 lets domestic and foreign port operators invest maritime industry. The open policy helped Vietnam to attract investments from many exploiters and prominent shipping lines such as APMT-Denmark at CMIT port, Singapore PSA, etc.
Next, Maritime Code 2015 plays an important part in managing and developing port projects, construction mobilizations, operators selection by bidding and maritime services. So that, the efficiency of investment and exploitation will be enhanced, role as a launching pad for Vietnam’s seaport in particular and maritime industry in general.
Moving towards integration
Today, Vietnam’s seaport system is constructed on large scale. Total length of bridges and ports is nearly 83 km with the capacity of about 600-650 million tons. Latest seaport is able to receive the world’s biggest feeder vessels (with a tonnage of 194,000 DWT).
A part of the cargo volume from Vietnam is directly shipped to the West and East coast of America, which must transit in many other countries.
According to the forecast of a research, Nguyen Xuan Sang, the Director of VMA, said that Vietnam export turnover to CPCTT countries would increase from 54 billion to 80 billion USD. EVFTA will help Vietnam exports to increase by an average of 4%-6% per year within 10 years. By 2025, the export to Europe market will reach US 220 billion, an increase of 70-75 billion compared to the case without FTA.
“VMA will advising MOT to do a seaport planning for the period of 2021-2030, focusing on developing deep water port system, improve seaport capacity by combining with inland ports and seaport service hubs. The co-ordination will be the base for promoting the function of modern seaports as goods distribution and logistics chain control”- said Mr. Sang.
Finally, Mr. Sang emphasized that maritime industry will continue to review and cut administrative red tape. In 2020, the target of VMA is to upgrade it to level 4, which includes electronic toll collection of every procedure through the national Single-window, towards the digistiation of maritime state management operations so as to catch up with industry 4.0.