Dec 25, 2012

Vietnam - Sector is busy turning heads

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Vietnam’s agro-forestry-aquatic sector continues to spread its roots despite turbulent economic times.

The sector’s progress was championed by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung who said: “The most salient point in the Vietnamese economic picture for 2012 is that the agro-forestry-aquatic sector continues witnessing very high growth, with a record export turnover of $27 billion, up from the record $25 billion level last year.”

This $27 billion will represent 24.6 per cent of Vietnam’s total export turnover of $109.5 billion expected for this year.

Dung ascribed the new achievement to a rise in quantity and prices of staple exports. “Despite economic difficulties, the sector has been playing a crucial role in stabilising and developing the country’s economy,” he said.

Vietnam produced 43.7 million tonnes of rice this year, up 1.5 million tonnes against last year. A record volume of over 7.7 million tonnes of the grain was expected to be exported, raking in about $3.8 billion in turnover.

Vietnam-based exporters were forecast to earn a turnover of $6.2 billion and $4.4 billion from exporting aquatic and wooden products, respectively, compared to last year’s $6 billion and $3.9 billion, respectively.

They were also projected to ship 1.8 million tonnes of coffee overseas to fetch $3.5 billion in turnover, up from last year’s 1.2 million tonnes for $2.54 billion.

Shipments of rubber were also forecast to reap a record crop, with nearly 970,000 tonnes exported to earn about $2.8 billion, against last year’s 816,500 tonnes and $3.2 billion in turnover.

However, at the 13th National Assembly’s fourth session taking place between October and November 2012, many delegates said while Vietnam could enjoy big agro-forestry-aquatic export turnover this year, such turnover was unstable. Some cited the need to import 70 per cent of input materials for agro-forestry-aquatic production and emphasised that volatility of world’s market for raw material exports with low added value.

“The Vietnamese government needs to give much more support to farmers in terms of capital and quality improvements. This is to help Vietnam ensure its agro-forestry-aquatic sustainable development,” said delegate Luu Thanh Cong representing southern Vinh Long province.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), the government’s investment into agro-forestry-aquatic development reduced from nearly 14 per cent of total development investment capital in 2000 to only 3 per cent in 2012. Meanwhile, foreign direct investment (FDI) into the sector also declined from 8 per cent of Vietnam’s total registered FDI in 2001 to below 1 per cent in 2012. Domestic private investments into the sector currently occupies 13 per cent of the country’s total private investment.

However, Vietnam’s agro-forestry-aquatic sector performance was praised as a leading practice of agricultural development in developing countries at the Davos World Economic Forum in January 2012, said MARD Minister Cao Duc Phat.

Professor Peter Timmer, an American agricultural economist who has long studied Vietnam’s agro-forestry-aquatic sector, said this sector would continue playing a crucial role on Vietnamese economic growth and social stability, and would open opportunities for investments over the next 50 years.

Thanh Dat |

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