Cargo shipping has seen positive growth in the first six months of the year, with 254.8 million tonnes handled via the country’s seaports, up 17% on last year.
The Vietnam Maritime Administration (under the Ministry of Transport) reported that 8.7 million TEUs (20-foot equivalent units) of freight containers were processed, up 28% against the same period last year, and fulfilling 57% of the target set for 2018.
During the period, Vietnamese container ships carried about 69.9 million tonnes of cargo, representing a year-on-year rise of 9%, according to the administration.
According to Nguyen Dinh Viet, deputy director of the Vietnam Maritime Administration, despite the positive growth in the first half of the year, there remains inherent weaknesses that need to be addressed.
“The Vietnamese sea fleet still doesn’t have any container ships capable of long-distance journeys, such as to the United States, Europe and Africa. These journeys are usually undertaken by foreign fleets,” Viet told the Thoi bao Kinh te Vietnam (Vietnam Economic Times).
The Vietnamese fleet currently commands about 10% of the market share and mostly handles short-distance transport such as China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, or within the Southeast Asian region.
To push the development of maritime transport in a sustainable direction, there needs to be a strong logistics system.
Currently, there are nearly 297,000 firms in the country registered to operate in the logistics sectors, with 0.43% of them, or around 1,300, are providers of maritime logistics services.
“There are a decent number of domestic logistics firms in Vietnam but their market share is fairly small, with most of them only providing a certain service-related part in the logistics chain, or acting as agents for foreign maritime shipping companies,” Viet said.
Most ports are small-scale, operating inefficiently, and lacking modern loading and unloading infrastructure.
Deputy Minister of Transport Nguyen Van Cong said that many import-export firms are still not fully aware of the importance of logistics. They usually only understand logistics as purely transport, without knowing that it contains many different activities.
“In the last five or six years, the transport ministry has implemented its logistics development project, aimed at promoting multimodal transport, in which sea routes and inland waterways will be fully utilised,” Cong said.
However, connectivity between modes of transport has not seen considerable improvement. In rail freight transport, even with the key route of the North-South railway, there is a lack of appropriate warehouses or equipment to provide services such as storage, loading and unloading, delivery, or short-distance transportation – especially tailored for cargo containers.
“This shortage must be corrected before we could hope for future logistics development,” the deputy minister stressed.
In the last half of the year, the transport ministry has asked the customs department to facilitate legal document revisions, especially in terms of pricing schemes to prevent arbitrary price hikes by foreign companies.
In the future, efforts and resources would also be spent on dredging operations to ensure uninterrupted traffic in seaports.
Vietnam has a total of 42 public navigation lines stretching 935.9km and 10 specialised navigation lines, with major maritime shipping routes including Hon Gai – Cai Lan, Hai Phong in the north and Da Nang or Vung Tau – Thi Vai in the south.