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Maritime industry in Vietnam - Statistics & Facts

In Vietnam, a major share of domestic cargo is moved via sea transport due to the cost-effectiveness compared to road transports. Internationally, Vietnam has become globally recognized as a regional trade hub ranking seventh in liner shipping connectivity in Asia. Given these advantages and the fact that Vietnam has been one of the largest shipbuilding countries, the sector has also attracted foreign investments. The maritime industry is highly integral for Vietnam’s economy as a high share of container sea cargo is traded internationally. As an export-based economy, the country generates most of its revenue through export trade. Import trade is equally important for Vietnam as the manufacturing industry depends on imported raw materials.

Vietnam's major sea ports

Vietnam benefits from a long coastline which borders the Gulf of Thailand, the South China Sea and the Gulf of Tonkin. There are three main port cities along its coastline – Hai Phong in the North, Ho Chi Minh City in the South and Da Nang in the central region. The Ho Chi Minh City port handles the largest share of cargo throughput in Vietnam. With its port network, Saigon port is the fifth largest container port in ASEAN and is ranked 19th among leading container ports across Asia. Hai Phong is a major port for international container traffic. The Hai Phong International Container Terminal (HICT) was opened in May 2018 and can accommodate larger container ships which reduces transshipments in northern Vietnam. This reduces the time and cost for shipments. Da Nang port manages cargo in the central region and connects Vietnam to Myanmar, Thailand and Laos.

Vietnam's ship fleet

Vietnam has the second highest number of international ports in ASEAN after the Philippines. In 2018, the southern ports had the highest number of vessel calls, followed by the northern and the central ports. In that year, the gross tonnage of newly built ships amounted to over 480 thousand. In 2019, the number of national flag vessels was 880 with a total capacity of 7.74 million dead-weight tons while there were 140 foreign or international flag vessels with a total capacity of 1.9 million dead-weight tons in that year.

Challenges and opportunities in Vietnam's maritime sector

Despite the advantages, the sector still faces some challenges. Compared to other developed countries, the maritime shipping time and costs are still higher in Vietnam due its smaller capacity. Some ports are also not able to operate on full capacity due to underdeveloped port facilities, outdated assets and the lacking number of port operators. To ensure growth in the sector, high investments are needed. Vietnam is a socialist-oriented market economy where most of the businesses are state-owned and where the government protects several industries from private ownership and foreign investments. Nevertheless, the ship-building industry, for instance, is a priority sector for the government where investment incentives are allowed. Moreover, the Master Plan on Development of Vietnam’s Seaport System towards 2030 encourages enterprises to invest in seaport development.

Interesting statistics

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Maritime industry in Vietnam

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Sea ports

Sea traffic

Ship fleet


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