Cai Rang floating market on Can Tho river__Photo: Duy Khuong/VNA
Can Tho is the centrally run city of the Mekong River delta, encompassing an area of 1,401 square kilometers (roughly 3.49 percent of the region’s total area). Located on the southwestern bank of Hau river, the largest branch of the Mekong River, the city is 75 kilometers from the East Sea and 168 kilometers to the south of Ho Chi Minh City. It has a dense system of canals and river tributaries which serves agriculture, aquaculture, navigation and water supply for the city and the region. It has a typical monsoon climate with two distinctive seasons: rainy season from May to November and dry season from December to April. Its annual rainfall is between 1,500 mm and 1,800 mm and its average temperature is 27 degrees Celsius.
The city has five urban districts (Ninh Kieu, Cai Rang, Binh Thuy, O Mon and Thot Not), four rural districts (Phong Dien, Co Do, Vinh Thanh and Thoi Lai) and 85 administrative units, including five towns, 36 communes and 44 wards. It has more than 1.1 million people (2010) with the Kinh (Viet) being the most populous group followed by the Khmer, Hoa and Cham ethnic groups. Under Prime Minister Decision No. 492/QD-TTg of April 19, 2009, Can Tho is among four localities in the Mekong River delta key economic region set to be developed into a rice farming, aquaculture, fishing and seafood processing center and make great contributions to the country’s farm produce and seafood exports.
Can Tho is not rich in minerals, most of which are construction materials such as clay for making bricks and tiles (with an estimated reserve of 16.8 million cubic meters), elastic clay and sand (about 70 million cubic meters) and peat (30-150,000 tons).
In the first two months of this year, Can Tho recorded an industrial production value of VND 10.6 trillion, a year-on-year rise of 4.2 percent. Its total retail sales and service revenues exceeded VND 11.1 trillion, an increase of 16.4 percent and export and service turnover, USD 168.5 million, a decrease of 10.4 percent compared to the last year.
Director of the Municipal Planning and Investment Department Nguyen Van Hong said this year his city is targeting a GDP growth rate of 12.5 percent to reach VND 87.5 trillion, a per-capita GDP of VND 70-70.5 million (USD 3,280-3,330), and an export turnover of USD 1.6 billion. The city is striving to raise the proportion of industry and construction to 39.3 percent and services to 52.7 percent of the economic structure and bring down that of agriculture and fisheries to 7.9 percent. In 2014, it expects to generate 50,000 jobs and reduce the rate of poor households to 2.95 percent.
It aims to raise the export value of rice, seafood, garments, footwear, iron, steel, handicrafts and pharmaceuticals to USD 1.65 billion in 2014, 10 percent higher than in 2013.
Can Tho city boasts convenient transport routes, including roads, waterways and air routes. Along with Can Tho and Tra Noc ports, Cai Cui port is capable of accommodating ships of 10,000 to 20,000 DWT and handling 4.2 million tons of cargoes per year in the first phase of construction. It is now undergoing the second phase of construction and upgrading which cost hundreds of billions dong and will soon become an international seaport once the dredging of the Quan Chanh Bo canal is completed.
The city is connected to the neighboring provinces and the whole country thanks to National Highway 1A and the Can Tho airport, the fourth international airport in the country. The Can Tho airport has a design capacity to serve up to three million passengers per year taking local and international flights and accommodate long-haul aircraft like the B777-300 and the B747-400.
The city is currently home to eight industrial parks covering a total area of 2,356.6 hectares and all located in the heart of agricultural and aquatic material zones with easy access by waterway or road.
At its monthly meeting on March 4, 2014, the municipal People’s Committee announced that by February 2014, the city has attracted 58 FDI projects with a total registered capital of USD 883.7 million, including USD 260.9 million of disbursed capital. It accommodates 135 branches, representative offices and business locations of foreign-invested enterprises throughout the country and representative offices of foreign businesses. Export turnover of the city’s FDI enterprises reached USD 17.5 million in a total turnover of 39.7 million in the first month of 2014.
Also according to the municipal Planning and Investment Department, by the end of 2013, Singapore ranked first among 18 countries and territories investing in the locality. The USD 58 million Wilmar Agro Co. Ltd., a wholly Singaporean-invested project for processing oil and fat for domestic consumption and trading in all types of oil and fat, cereals and oil and fat packaging, has been licensed. It is followed by the USD 26 million C.P. Vietnam Corporation, wholly invested by Thai’s Charoen Pokphand Group to produce aquatic animal feed.
The city is calling for investment in 29 projects in the locality in six fields, including tourism infrastructure; infrastructure of industrial parks (IPs), hi-tech agriculture and information technology; trade and industry; transport infrastructure; urban and environment. Three infrastructure construction projects are among six projects calling for domestic or foreign investment capital in the city’s IPs. They are the second phase of Thot Not IP covering 400 hectares with a total capital of USD 164 million, the O Mon IP on an area of 317 hectares capitalized at USD 130 million and the northern O Mon IP with a total capital of USD 164 million and an area of 400 hectares for both IP infrastructure and supporting facilities. The others include a USD 30 million project to manufacture and assemble agricultural machinery in O Mon IP, a USD 10 million plant manufacturing electric cables and equipment in Hung Phu IP and a USD 15 million tinned fruit processing plant in Thot Not IP.
The city also calls for investment in Thot Not urban-industry-service complex along Hau river, a hi-tech urban center near O Mon river, a heavy industrial park in the southern port of O Mon river, Cai Rang industrial port, and eco-tourism sites in the southwest.
Investment projects in sectors on the list of sectors eligible for investment incentives will enjoy the highest incentives in accordance with the law on corporate income tax, according to Government Decree No. 108/2006/ND-CP of September 22, 2006. If investing in sectors eligible for special investment incentives, investors will be entitled to tax exemption for four years after earning first taxable income and 50-percent reduction of payable tax amounts for the subsequent nine years and eligible for 10-percent tax rate for 15 years. If investing in the sectors eligible for investment incentives, investors will be exempted from corporate income tax for two years after earning first taxable income and enjoy a 50-percent tax reduction for the subsequent three years and 20-percent tax rate for 10 years. In addition to land and water surface rental incentives, investors will benefit from the personal income tax policy and other incentive policies when building housing for workers.
This year, the city hopes to attract eight new projects with a combined registered capital of USD 50 million and USD 2 million of additional capital for existing five projects. FDI enterprises are expected to achieve a turnover of USD 400 million and generate jobs for 5,200 people.
Head of the Can Tho Export Processing and Industrial Zone Authority Vo Thanh Hung said this year, the city’s functional agencies will focus on assisting enterprises, especially those operating in export processing zones and industrial parks to get access to capital and technology, advertise products, seek outlets and train workers.
In addition, the municipal People’s Committee is offering incentive policies for investors to build IP infrastructure and sewage system and to provide environmental and public sanitation services. Investors will enjoy 20-percent reduction in interest rates for loans provided within projects’ term. However, capital for each project will not exceed VND 2 billion.
Can Tho city is on a big traffic junction linking the provinces in the region to Ho Chi Minh City and Cambodia. It is well known for bird gardens, picturesque canals, Ninh Kieu wharf in Ninh Kieu district and Cai Rang floating market, the biggest fruit and agricultural wholesale market in the Mekong River delta.
The city is also famous for My Khanh tourist village where visitors can taste specialty fruits and see various types of bonsai trees and fauna species like birds, turtles, snakes, crabs and shrimps. It is home to historical and cultural relics such as Ong pagoda, Nam Nha pagoda and Binh Thuy temple.
Can Tho city welcomed 181,523 tourists in February, including 36,560 foreigners, and earned a turnover of VND 152 billion.
Deputy director of the municipal Culture, Sports and Tourism Department Dang Thai Hoa said this year, the city sets the targets of attracting 1.3 million tourists, including 300,000 foreigners, a year-on-year increase of 4 percent, and raking in a tourism turnover of VND 1.1 trillion, an increase of 13.4 percent.
In order to achieve the above targets, the city plans to promote tourism activities, diversify ecological, cultural and river tours to meet visitor demands.
The city will cooperate with the Mekong delta provinces of An Giang and Kien Giang to establish a “tourist triangle”, developing river, island and mountain tourist services.
Can Tho will also complete upgrading the infrastructure in more than 20 eco-tourism parks covering an area of around 300 hectares, and develop models of environment-friendly tourism on Cai Rang and Phong Dien floating markets and other tourist sites.
The city has encouraged and supported enterprises of all economic sectors to build 165 hotels with some 4,000 rooms and 6,000 beds and several tourism resorts along Hau river.-