A farmer carries a bag of rice in Hau Giang Province the Mekong Delta region in March 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Nguyet Nhi.
The Mekong Delta region’s economic growth has been slow for decades due to poor infrastructure and lack of participation in global supply chains.
In 1990 Ho Chi Minh City’s GDP was two-thirds of the delta’s, but this ratio is now reversed, according to a report by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) and Fulbright University Vietnam.
The region is the nation’s rice basket and has been mostly focusing on agriculture and tardy in transitioning to other industries with higher productivity, it said.
It failed to foster an agricultural economy with supply chains and therefore failed to bring prosperity to its inhabitants, it added.
Vu Kim Hanh, chairwoman of the High Quality Vietnamese Product Business Association, said that the region’s 12 provinces and one city account for nearly 20 percent of Vietnam’s population but only 8 percent of its businesses.
Nguyen Phuong Lam, director of VCCI Can Tho, said one of the reasons for the high outward migration from the delta is its underdeveloped infrastructure, which is precluding investment in manufacturing.
As a result, there is no increase in the number of jobs available while the working age population is rising, forcing many people to migrate to find work, he added.
The report said if government’s policies for the region stay the same and businesses keep doing what they have been doing, the region would continue to fall behind.
Officials from the region said at the forum they are seeking to bring local products into the global supply chain through selling them on e-commerce platforms like Alibaba, Amazon and Shopee.
The delta accounts for 17.7 percent of the country’s GDP, 54 percent of rice production, 60 percent of fruits and 70 percent of seafood, according to official figures.