Currently, there are a total of 286 terminals scattered nationwide, encompassing an impressive expanse of over 96 kilometers of quays. These terminals boast a remarkable capacity to handle a staggering 706 million tonnes of cargo. Notably, the seaport complexes located in northern Hai Phong City and Ho Chi Minh City stand tall among the esteemed ranks of the world's largest container ports, securing their positions within the top 50.
According to Deputy Minister of Transport Nguyen Xuan Sang, the development plan for Vietnam's seaport system from 2021 to 2030, with a long-term vision until 2050, includes the establishment of two unique seaport complexes. These complexes, namely Lach Huyen in Hai Phong and Cai Mep - Thi Vai in Ba Ria - Vung Tau Province, will be specifically designed to cater to international ships and vessels.
Lach Huyen stands as the most profound seaport in the northern vicinity, encompassing a vast area of 57 hectares alongside its impressive main quays stretching for 750 meters. This exceptional port provides a direct route for cargo transportation to the United States and Europe, eliminating the need for intermediate stops at regional ports such as Singapore and Hong Kong. Consequently, this seamless connection significantly reduces logistics costs and bolsters the competitiveness of Vietnamese exports.
The Cai Mep - Thi Vai complex was specifically selected to serve as an international transshipment port due to its exceptional capabilities. Among the 23 ports globally with the capacity to handle vessels weighing up to 250,000 deadweight tonnage (DWT), this complex stands out. Additionally, it ranks among the world's top 50 seaports in terms of container volume, handling significant amounts of containers. Moreover, the Cai Mep - Thi Vai complex plays a pivotal role in the country's maritime operations. It contributes over 16% of the total cargo throughput across all seaports in the nation, accounting for a substantial 35% of the container cargo volume nationwide. Furthermore, in the southern region, it handles an impressive 50% of the container cargo volume. In summary, the Cai Mep - Thi Vai complex's status as an international transshipment port is justified by its ability to accommodate large vessels and handle significant container volumes. Its contribution to the national and regional cargo throughput further emphasizes its importance in Vietnam's maritime industry.
The Ministry of Transport (MoT) is currently evaluating appropriate strategies to advance the growth of international transshipment ports in Van Phong, situated in the central province of Khanh Hoa. Additionally, they are assessing the potential of the Tran De Terminal, located in Soc Trang province, to function as a specialized seaport serving as the principal entry point for the Mekong Delta region.
Despite not being included in the general plan, the Can Tho International Transshipment Port, set to be built in the near future, is being proposed for early construction by Ho Chi Minh City. This proposition has garnered support from the Ministry of Transport (MoT).
The Vietnam Maritime Administration of the Ministry of Transport envisions a significant expansion in the country's seaport system by 2030. Plans are underway to enhance its capacity to handle a staggering 1.14 - 1.42 billion tonnes of cargo, comprising 38 - 47 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) of container goods, and accommodate approximately 10.1 - 10.3 million passengers. By 2050, the aim is for Vietnam's seaport infrastructure to match the highest standards seen in the region and globally.
By 2030, a substantial amount of VND313 trillion (equivalent to US$12.7 billion) will be required for investments solely focused on seaports that offer goods loading services. The primary sources of this funding will predominantly stem from non-state budget resources, business investments, and other legally permissible avenues.
Deputy Minister Sang reassured that the concern of attracting investment to seaports is not a cause for worry. He emphasized that in recent years, the government's investment in this sector has only accounted for approximately 16-17%, while the majority of investments have been contributed by the private sector. Furthermore, numerous seaport projects have successfully attracted significant attention from both domestic and foreign investors.
He mentioned that the current challenge lies in optimizing the potential of the upcoming "super" ports.
Tran Khanh Hoang, the Vice Chairman of the Vietnam Seaports Association, believes that in order to effectively establish a marine economy development strategy, particularly for exporting nations such as Vietnam, it is essential to prioritize the advancement of top-notch seaport infrastructure and the efficient utilization of these facilities.
He suggested that authorities and businesses should exercise prudence when considering investments, ensuring their effectiveness. It is crucial for them to have a thorough understanding of the demand for cargo transportation and carefully plan their investment roadmaps. This approach will help prevent infrastructure redundancy, unnecessary competition, and resource scattering, which can result in increased expenses and financial risks.
Experts have highlighted several weaknesses that hinder the ability of Vietnamese seaports to attract major shipping companies. One notable issue is the lack of connectivity among quays, which makes it challenging for cargo from smaller vessels to be efficiently transferred onto larger ones. Additionally, the absence of dedicated examination forces, a robust logistics ecosystem, and an inter-regional and multi-modal transport system further contribute to the limitations faced by Vietnamese seaports. Notably, logistics costs remain high, and the clearance process tends to be prolonged.
He added that if significant ports are constructed but the existing issues persist, the efficacy of investment will be greatly diminished.
Minister of Transport, Nguyen Van Thang, has urged the Maritime Administration to promptly address existing challenges and formulate a strategic capital allocation plan for the years 2026 to 2030. This initiative aims to enhance transportation infrastructure networks linking key seaport regions, ultimately elevating the prominence of Vietnamese ports in the coming years.