Encompassing an area of 6,099 square kilometers and having a population of around 1.2 million, Quang Ninh province is located in the northeast border area of Vietnam. It is the only province sharing both land and marine borders with China, with the land borderline of 118.825 km and marine boundary delineation of more than 191 km in the Tonkin Gulf. Having more than 2,000 islands and islets covering 620 square kilometers, Quang Ninh is also unique for having four provincial cities, namely Ha Long, Mong Cai, Uong Bi and Cam Pha plus one town of Quang Yen and nine districts. It is home to twenty one ethnic groups with the Kinh (Viet) being the most populous followed by the Tay, Dao, San Chay, San Diu and the Hoa (Sino-Vietnamese).
According to its Planning and Investment Department, the province recorded a positive growth in almost all sectors and fields in the first nine months of this year with a GDP growth rate of 7.1 percent. Its industrial production value was estimated at more than VND 20 trillion, a year-on-year increase of 4.7 percent. Its agricultural production and service sectors continued to grow stably and epidemics were under effective control. Price consumer index showed a sign of stability, interest rates fell and credit growth followed set orientations. However, there remain shortcomings in a number of domains. Its export revenues decreased by 5 percent down to USD 1.2 trillion while coal exports dropped 13 percent. The market purchasing power and the competitiveness of several products remain weak and the real estate market sluggish.
Moves to attract FDI from Japan
At the Vietnam-Japan conference on economic and investment cooperation 2013 in Hanoi on September 23, Nguyen Van Thanh, Vice Chairman of the Quang Ninh People’s Committee, affirmed that Japan is a strategic partner of Quang Ninh province. The province has exerted considerable efforts to formulate mechanisms and policies to attract investment from Japanese businesses in such key areas as supporting industries, construction of traffic and technical infrastructure in economic zones and tourist, service and trade infrastructure projects. However, Japan’s investment in Quang Ninh remains modest.
In order to effectively tap its potential and advantages and attract more investment projects from Japan, the province is doing its best to improve its investment environment, upgrade the intraprovincial traffic system, reform administrative procedures and improve quality of human resources through intensive training. At present, there are four Japanese businesses engaged in manufacturing water purification materials, pearl oyster farming, export timber processing, and product processing with a total registered capital of USD 7.255 million. As a result, Japan ranked 12th among countries and territories investing in the province.
Japan’s FDI only makes up a very small proportion of Quang Ninh’s total registered FDI amount (USD 7.255 million to USD 4.14 billion, representing 0.18 percent), far below the province’s expectations and Japanese investors’ potential and strength. On average, a Japanese investment project is around USD 1.81 million while an FDI project from another country is often capitalized at USD 44.5 million.
In 2011, Quang Ninh People’s Committee established the Department of Investment Promotion and Support to carry out investment promotion in the locality with the aim of luring more FDI, especially from Japan, through further improving technical and social infrastructure in industrial parks (IPs). Its People’s Council has also adopted a resolution on supports for building infrastructure to the fences of IPs.
Quang Ninh will also earmark its budget to perfect technical infrastructure, electricity supply and wastewater drainage systems and supporting facilities for several IPs in order to meet investor demands. Besides, the province will guarantee the one-stop-shop mechanism to settle administrative procedures simply, transparently, and quickly. It will also further speed up site clearance and create a clean land fund for projects and the best investment environment for investors.
On March 12, 2013, Quang Ninh province issued Decision No. 677/QD- UBND, approving the list of 32 projects calling for investment in the locality for the 2013-15 period, focusing on major fields such as transport, industry, urban infrastructure and tourism. Besides, the province focuses on investment promotion activities and holds more and more meetings with Japanese businesses. It has sent many delegations to study experiences of Japan and the Republic of Korea in building economic, industrial and hi-tech zones, and tourism and free trade areas. Since the 2012 investment promotion conference, more than 20 delegations of Japanese businesses and organizations have come to the province to survey investment cooperation opportunities.
Quang Ninh People’s Committee has also devised a scheme on promoting cooperation and luring investment from Japan into the province. It continues to update and finalize a volume of investment promotion documents, including handbooks, leaflets and videos in Japanese, so as to facilitate the introduction of its potential to investors. Particularly, it has signed four cooperation agreements with the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) for trade and investment promotion in 2013.
In order to lure more investors from the country of cherry blossoms, it plans to build Viet Hung industrial park in Ha Long city into a specialized IP exclusively for Japanese investors.
The province recently introduced 31 projects calling for investment at an exhibition that took place within the framework of the Vietnam-Japan conference on economic and investment cooperation 2013 in Hanoi last month. They include five major projects, namely a project to build an international-standard university and Viet Hung IP infrastructure project in Ha Long city; Van Tien bridge construction project in Van Don district; Ha Long-Cam Pha waste treatment plant, and a project to build an international-standard general hospital in Mong Cai city.
Tourism development potential
Quang Ninh boasts great tourism potential. It is well-known for Ha Long Bay, a UNESCO-recognized wonderland of over 3,000 whimsically shaped islands jutting sharply out of the tranquil green waters, according to the Huffington Post, an online newspaper in the US.
With more than 500 historical relics and scenic landscapes, especially Ha Long Bay and Yen Tu mountain - the country’s Buddhism capital, Quang Ninh has many other conditions to develop various forms of tourism (marine and island, eco-cultural and historical tourism) and entertainment and cultural industries which are considered the newest industry to promote the nation’s cultural values and image to the world.
According to Vu Thi Thu Thuy, Vice Chairwoman of the Quang Ninh People’s Committee, Quang Ninh welcomed 6 million tourists, including 1.8 million foreign holiday makers, and earned VND 3.8 trillion from tourism in the first nine months of this year. The province has so far had 1,000 tourism rentals, including two five-star hotels and 16 four-star hotels along with more than 500 tourism ships.
In order to lure 7.5 million tourists and earn a turnover of around VND 5 trillion VND this year, Quang Ninh Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism said it was coordinating with travel agents and the People’s Committee of Quang Yen town in opening tours with cultural tourism products to receive foreign cruise tourists at the year end.
Accordingly, tourists would visit Vua Ba temple, Phong Coc communal house and some local ancestors worshipping houses along with traveling by ferry boats and visiting places where traditional small bamboo boats are made.
Quang Ninh has chosen the US Boston Consulting Group (BCG) to formulate its tourism development master plan through 2020 with a vision toward 2030. The first phase of the master plan has been completed since both sides officially signed a consulting contract on June 7, 2013.
The province plans to receive more than 10 million tourists by 2020.-