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Speeches & Transcripts December 19, 2017

World Bank Vietnam Country Director Speech at Dong Thap Investment Conference

Excellency Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc

Dong Thap Party Secretary Le Minh Hoan

Dong Thap Chairman Nguyen Van Duong

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentleman


It is my great pleasure to be here in the beautiful province of Dong Thap and participate in the Province’s Investment Conference today. I would like to thank the leaders, colleagues and the people of Dong Thap Province for your warm hospitality and the privilege extended to me to speak at this important event.

I am also honored to witness the participation of your excellency, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc here today. Your presence shows strong encouragement, commitment and leadership vision for the development and prosperity of Dong Thap Province, as well as the Mekong Delta Region. The recent government resolution 120 lays out a clear and comprehensive plan of actions to promote integrated development of the entire region while addressing effectively critical climate challenges. I hope this conference, and others that have taken place in neighboring provinces, will contribute to successful implementation of this important government resolution.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Given the rapid changes in the delta both from an economic and social perspective, let me join previous speakers to highlight several areas that are critical for the overall development of Dong Thap Province.

First, we believe that Vietnam and Dong Thap has great potential to develop agribusiness with a focus on promoting “high-tech” agriculture and modernization of the agri-food value chains. This implies having strong primary agriculture that is more diverse and resilient to climate change, producing safer and higher quality products for domestic and export markets. This requires agribusinesses to work closely with farmers, creating more jobs, and bringing new technologies and investments to the sector. The latter is important for mobilizing more private capital in the context of the public debt constraints.

We see four key critical areas and opportunities for supporting agribusiness development. This includes: (i) land consolidation, or more broadly, promoting economies of scale; (ii) climate smart agriculture; (iii) modernization of value chains; and (iv) promotion of start-ups in agribusiness. A mango orchid farmer can through internet allow customer to own a mango tree, follow its growth and learning its growth.

Second, the critical role of multi-modal transport system. The network of transport system in the Dong Thap Muoi region requires better connectivity through improvements in inland waterways and road network to connect with HCMC and Cai Mep Thi Vai Port complex for bulk agricultural exports. I also see a potential for the Dong Thap and provinces in the region to promote multi-modal transportation solutions for broader trade and cooperation with Cambodia on agriculture, industry and, construction materials.

Third, the region is experiencing structural transformation through rapid urbanization. With more people moving to cities, the region is under pressure to provide for basic infrastructure, services and jobs. Based on the experience of countries like Malaysia, if urbanization is planned well, it will present opportunities for agglomeration and clustering of industries. However, this requires flexibility of use of farmland in the context of climate change. Changing land use from rice to more suitable alternatives is critical to brackish economy and other fragile parts of the Mekong Delta affected by salinity and other hazards. This needs to be accompanied by compact spatial footprint of the cities. Such an approach is a win-win solution for the region.

Fourth, all these opportunities require financing and strong engagement of the private sector. Given the fiscal constraints at the national level, increasingly, Dong Thap will need to attract more private sector (foreign and domestic) investment in areas like agribusiness A friendly and modern framework is already in place and is being improved. Today’s event showcases an effective investment promotion model led by strong leadership of the province.

In closing, I would like to assure you of the World Bank Group partnership and support to the development of Dong Thap Province through a number of on-going projects, including the Vietnam Sustainable Agriculture Transformation Project and the Mekong Delta Integrated Climate Resilience and Sustainable Livelihoods Project through our Maximizing Finance for Development. We look forward to working with you to improve further the enabling environment to attract more investments in agriculture, especially in the important value chains such as rice, fruits, vegetables, and catfish.

I wish you all good health, happiness and success.

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