In Vietnam, a significant share of domestic cargo is moved via sea transport due to the cost-effectiveness as compared to overland transport. Having one of the highest liner shipping connectivity indexes in Asia, Vietnam has become internationally recognized as a regional maritime trade hub. Given its location advantage and potential for shipbuilding, the Vietnamese maritime industry has been relatively attractive for foreign investments. Additionally, this industry is highly integral for Vietnam’s export-based economy, as exports accounted for a high share of the container cargo throughput.
Vietnam's major seaports and shipping fleet
Vietnam benefits from a long coastline that borders the Gulf of Thailand, the South China Sea, and the Gulf of Tonkin. The country had the second-highest number of international ports in ASEAN after the Philippines. 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. Among the leading container ports based on cargo capacity in Asia, the Ho Chi Minh City port handles the largest share of cargo throughput in Vietnam. Meanwhile, the northern port of 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, reducing time and cost for shipments to northern Vietnam. With its strategic location, Da Nang port manages cargo in the central region and connects Vietnam to Myanmar, Thailand, and Laos.
Vietnam is also one of the leading shipowners in the world, with a shipping fleet of 929 national flagged vessels and 166 international flagged vessels in 2021. In that year, the dead-weight tonnage of its fleet was also among the highest in the Asia Pacific region. Additionally, Vietnam has an expanding shipbuilding sector with growing capacity in recent years.
Challenges and opportunities in Vietnam's maritime sector
Despite the advantages, the sector still faces certain challenges. Compared to other developed countries, the maritime shipping time and costs are still higher in Vietnam due to its smaller capacity. Due to underdeveloped port facilities, outdated assets, and a shortage of port operators, some ports are not able to operate at full capacity. Meanwhile, high investments are needed to ensure growth in the sector. Vietnam is a socialist-oriented market economy. Hence, many businesses are state-owned, and the government protects several industries from private ownership and foreign investments. Nevertheless, the shipbuilding industry is a priority sector where investment incentives are allowed. Moreover, the Master Plan on developing Vietnam’s seaport system towards 2030 encourages investment into this sector.
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In the following 5 chapters, you will quickly find the 25 most important statistics relating to "Maritime industry in Vietnam".