Bac Ninh: The Land of Cultural and Economic Convergence

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Bac Ninh, which was formerly known as Kinh Bac – the northern territory of the capital, is a fertile land with favourable conditions for developing the economy and preserving the traditional cultural values of Vietnamese people. Especially since it was re-established over 15 years ago, Bac Ninh province has promoted its revolutionary tradition, dynamism and creativity to accelerate the reform process and create strong changes in all economic, cultural and social aspects.

Imbued with national identity

The land of Bac Ninh is firmly linked to the Red River civilisation. It is not only the political centre, but also the economic and trade centre and the oldest cultural and religious centre of Vietnam. Bac Ninh is well-known for its historical and cultural values. Typically, temples and pagodas are associated with traditional rituals and festivals like Kinh Duong Vuong Temple, Do Temple, But Thap Pagoda, Dau Pagoda, Phat Tich Pagoda, Ba Chua Kho Temple, Temple of Literature and Lim Festival. Traditional handicraft villages are also places of interests for tourists, including Dong Ho village famous for woodblock prints, Dai Bai village famous for bronze casting, Da Hoi village famous for metalworking, Dong Ky village famous for wooden furniture and Phu Lang village famous for pottery. Especially, Bac Ninh is characterised by quan ho singing. The duet singing has been recognised as the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. This folk singing is known worldwide. Besides, Bac Ninh people are hospitable, hardworking, creative and skilful.

A changing Bac Ninh

Bac Ninh is now a prosperous, modern, bright, green, clean and beautiful province. The province manages to utilise its favourable geographical position bordering Vietnam’s capital city of Hanoi, about 30 km from the Hanoi downtown, 45 km from Noi Bai International Airport, and 110 km from Haiphong seaport; lying in the Hanoi – Hai Phong – Quang Ninh growth triangle, and near key industrial parks in the northern region. Many major traffic routes go past the province and connect it with northern economic, cultural and trade centres. Trunk roads include the National Road 1A-1B, National Road 18 (Ha Long City of Quang Ninh province – Noi Bai International Airport of Hanoi), National Road 38, and the trans-Vietnam railway that reaches China. The province also has many large rivers connecting with neighbouring provinces as well as Haiphong Port and Cai Lan Port. The geographical location is an advantage for Bac Ninh province to interact and exchange with other localities, creating tremendous opportunities for socioeconomic development and to exploit existing potential.

In recent years, Bac Ninh province has achieved remarkable results in socio- economic development. In 2012, the province’s gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated at VND13,607 billion (based on fixed price in 1994), up 12.3 percent over 2011, ranking second in the Red River Delta and the ninth nationwide by growth rate. Particularly, agriculture, forestry and fisheries raked in VND1,265.2 billion, down 0.56 percent year on year, industry and construction sectors made VND8,874.2 billion, up 17.9 percent, and service sector generated VND3,467.5 billion, up 4.46 percent. Converted to the current price, the value was estimated at VND72,649 billion. Industry dominated the economic structure. Industry and construction sectors made up 77.82 percent of the province’s GDP, the service sector contributed 16.57 percent, and agricultural, forestry and aquatic sectors accounted for 5.61 percent (compared with 70.7 percent, 20.8 percent and 8.5 percent in 2011, respectively). GDP per capita reached VND67.4 million (US$3,211) in 2012 (inclusive of foreigners’ incomes).

In the new stage of development, Bac Ninh needs to continue promoting motivation factors while adding new dynamic elements of scientific development and international integration trends, promoting human factors, encouraging innovation, attracting and employing talents to create development breakthroughs to build Bac Ninh into a growth engine of the northern key economic zone.

Mr Park Ki Won, CEO of DK UIL Vietnam Co., Ltd

Bac Ninh province has a relatively favourable position, typically bordering Hanoi and nearing Noi Bai International Airport, thus travel and transportation are quite easy. Many Korean people are living in Bac Ninh, or working in Bac Ninh but living in Hanoi. Easy travelling is a plus. The Bac Ninh Industrial Zones Authority also strongly supports investors. However, Bac Ninh province has a disadvantage against Hanoi as it does not have many apartments, supermarkets and schools. If Bac Ninh had more of these facilities, more foreigners will invest and live in Bac Ninh.

Mr Nguyen Quoc Tuan – Director of Thong Hiep Company

In the past years, with efforts and determinations of the provincial government for a better investment and business environment to facilitate business development, I believe that Bac Ninh will continue to be an ideal destination for investors in the future. However, in my opinion, what the province needs to do right now is to reform administrative procedures towards one-stop source and single-window mechanism, upgrade transportation infrastructure, and listen to the feedback and aspirations of enterprises and entrepreneurs to support them in dealing with difficulties in production, thus motivating and assuring them of a good investment environment.

Mr Tran Van Khang, General Director of Dong Binh Joint Stock Company

Currently, Bac Ninh province is giving priority to investment attraction. This is indeed essential to accelerate development. To do this well, firstly, Bac Ninh needs to focus on attraction and employment of high-quality human resources. Secondly, Bac Ninh-based companies must be united to support each other in business and production activities and go through this difficult period together.

Mr Dang Ngoc Quyet, Director of Ngoc Quyet Bamboo and Rattan Export Company

From our inception as a small cooperative till our transformation and operation as a company, we have always received a lot of very practical support and assistance from local governments in the province. But, Ngoc Quyet Bamboo and Rattan Export Company is confronting difficulties with production space as well as continued workmanship training for workers. These are great sources of motivation for Ngoc Quyet to tap all potential and strengths to maintain its good operation and boost development.

In the near term, to further raise the provincial competitiveness index (PCI), Bac Ninh needs to invest for infrastructure upgrading, from ​​transportation, electricity and water to public utilities and plan industrial zone system for operational companies to base on when they consider production and business expansion. In addition, local governments must have more business support policies, particularly policies on land, site clearance, and investment project management and licensing. Hopefully, with the endeavour of the leaders of the Provincial People’s Committee and competent departments of Bac Ninh, the investment environment will be increasingly improved to attract more domestic and foreign investment projects.

Mr Luong Van Thu, Chairman of Dap Cau Garment Joint Stock Company

In recent years, Bac Ninh province has many mechanisms and policies to support and facilitate enterprises and investors when they do business in the province. In order to further uplift the province competitiveness index (PCI) and attract more domestic and foreign businesses and investors, the province should add more efforts for a better environment for investors and enterprises to do business. The issues of special concerns include land, site clearance, labour force and labour quality. Then, the province will have the trust of investors and enterprises when they choose Bac Ninh to locate their business.

Duy Binh

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