Industrial development.


The Mekong Delta is not strongly industrialized, but is still the third out of seven regions in terms of industrial gross output. The region's industry accounts for 10% of Vietnam's total as of 2011 (GSO, 2011). Almost half of the region's industrial production is concentrated in Cần Thơ, Long An Province and Cà Mau Province. Cần Thơ is the economic center of the region and more industrialized than the other provinces. Long An has been the only province of the region to attract part of the manufacturing booming around Ho Chi Minh City and is seen by other provinces as an example of successful FDI attraction. Cà Mau Province is home to a large industrial zone including power plants and a fertiliser factory.


Since the mid-1990s the delta is not able to increase its relative contribution to the overall industrial production of the country. Consequently, the contribution of the industrial sector to the regional GDP is still far below the respective contribution at the national level and expectations formulated in development master plans, meaning that it can only to a limited extend unfold the potential to absorb the workforce released by the agricultural sector following intensification and transformation. Currently, around 30% of the Delta's GDP is generated by industry especially food processing, the production of agricultural and aquaculture inputs (e.g. fertilizers, pesticides, seeds, fish feed) and related industries in equipment and machinery. The agro-processing chain - which can be considered the base for developing regional innovation - is characterized by exports largely comprising unprocessed or semi-processed goods which have low added value and cooperation, exchange and synchronization between different actors and levels in the value chain is still in its infancy. Besides that, low-technology manufacturing such as textile industries and building material production play a major role. Within the Mekong Delta, the industrial production is highly concentrated, with Can Tho, Long An and Kien Giang provinces accounting for half of the industrial production.


To date, the Mekong Delta seems not able to fully profit from the proximity to HCMC and relocation of industrial sites due to increasing agglomeration costs in the same way as the provinces located north east of the city. Main restrictions are the lack of positive cluster advantages, insufficient transportation infrastructure and insecurity with respect to the availability of qualified workforce, as the general education level in the Mekong Delta is falling behind the national level and primarily supports and reinforces low-profile industrial production. Attracting substantial FDI would however require an increase of higher-skilled work force.


In general, industrial zones and parks suffer from lower-than-average occupancy rates (<30%). And although land conversion for industrial use has negative social impacts   such as an increase in outmigration, plans for the further development of industrial zones and parks are undeterred with 30 million hectares of potential fertile land converted to largely empty industrial zones.