With the adoption of the Trans-Pacific Partnership ("TPP") and the European Union – Vietnam Free Trade Agreement ("EVFTA") in the upcoming months, we would expect a significant increase in trade between Vietnam and countries being members of the mentioned agreements. In order to reap the huge benefits that these agreement might bring to Vietnam, it is necessary to create an efficient deep sea container terminal. Cai Mep port would be fit for such purpose, in terms of a potential domestic and international transhipment hub and creating balance for demand and supply container terminal in Southern Vietnam. An operating cooperation contract has been signed between CMIT and Saigon Newport as the first attempt to develop Cai Mep as a hub.
Still, there should be more to do from the Government's side. A competitive environment for the operation of the container terminal must be created. To achieve this objective, we suggest the following actions:
First, reducing port dues for certain sizes of vessels. As a consequence, a greater number of vessels will no longer have to transit via existing hubs such as Hong Kong or Singapore. An estimate of USD 7 million per year in transport costs would be saved and the overall income of the country will increase.
Second, relaxing regulations on cabotage. The current local services on offer do not comply with the required standards. This should be fixed so it is not blocking the progress of creating a hub in Cai Mep.
Third, reforming customs rules. The Vietnam General Department of Customs with the advisory support of the Vietnam Trade Facilitation Alliance in conjunction with the American Chamber of Commerce is currently making great attempts in improving imports and exports procedures. This is also considered as a step towards a competitive environment compared with other ASEAN countries.
Finally, more interaction between the competent authorities and the transport/ logistics stakeholders. The recent Transport and Logistics Partner Quarterly Meeting held by the Ministry of Transport in conjunction with the World Bank is among the government's efforts to help create a dialogue to exchange problems and workable solutions in the logistics industry of Vietnam.
If the above suggestions are taken seriously, Cai Mep will become a hub and Vietnam would certainly enjoy lots of benefits, include, among others:
- Less pollution for Ho Chi Minh City as a result of truck flow diversion from Ho Chi Minh City to Cai Mep;
- Less traffic and less risk of port congestion thanks to large capacity in Cai Mep region; and
- Capitalizing on the opportunities from the TPP and the EVFTA.
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