VN on track for full industrialization by 2020, says Minister

Published: 01/02/2010 05:00



VietNamNet interviews Minister of Science and Technology Hoang Van Phong on the occasion of the ministry’s 50th anniversary.

Minister Hoang Van Phong.
VietNamNet interviews Minister of Science and Technology Hoang Van Phong on the occasion of the ministry’s 50th anniversary.

VietNamNet: Half a century has passed since the Ministry of Science and Technology was established (its forerunner was the State Committee for Science). Could you tell our readers about the ministry’s development since its birth?

Hoang Van Phong: The Ministry of Science and Technology was established in 1959 with two key missions: controlling scientific activities and applying sci-tech advances to production, daily life and defence.

The ministry’s missions have since spread into various areas: research and applied science, technological development and transfer, developing Vietnam’s scientific and technological potential, standardization, quantitative and quality management, nuclear power development and safety, developing scientific business and technology markets, statistics and information about sci-tech fields plus promotion of international cooperation.

After five decades, the scientific institution system has expanded from eight research institutes to 1500 institutes and centres in all economic sectors. Sci-tech research and development human resources have reached more than 2.6 million, including nearly 60,000 working in 664 specialised fields of research. We also have hundreds of scientific businesses as well as sci-tech organizations operating like enterprises.

VietNamNet: In the past, the sci-tech field motto was “Science and technology are the key.” Now it is “Science-technology and education-training are the top national policies.” How have these policies been carried out?

Phong: In the last 50 years, the sci-tech sector has always traveled the same road with Vietnam’s development.

In the current period of boosting industrialization, modernization and international integration, science and technology holds an important position. It motivates not only development, but also the “top national policy.”

Investment in science and technology accounts for around 2 percent of the total budget spending (0.5 percent of the GDP). This figure is modest in comparison with many countries in the region and quite far from that of developed countries (3 percent of GDP), but it shows that Vietnam is determined to make efforts for sci-tech development.

The sector has also contributed to the country’s development, especially in agriculture, aquaculture, mechanical engineering, construction technology, health care, vaccine production and also applied information and communication technology.

Vietnam’s scientific and technological standards have improved greatly, reaching those of the region and the world in some areas. Vietnam has built suitable technology and effectively serving the country’s development even though it is not very synchronous or modern.

VietNamNet: The Law on Science and Technology issued in 2000 led to many new policies in sci-tech management. Do these policies favour sci-tech development?

Phong: Pursuing the strategy of boosting industrialization and modernization to turn Vietnam into an industrialized country by 2020, the Ministry of Science and Technology has developed and completed the legal foundations for sci-tech development: the Law on Environment Protection (1993), Law on Science and Technology (2000), Law on Intellectual Property (2005), Law on Technology Transfer (2006), Law on Technological Standards (2006), Law on Product Quality (2007), Law on Nuclear Power (2008), Hi-tech Law ( 2008) and the Law on Measurement (to be submitted to the National Assembly this year).

In a short period of time, eight laws and guiding documents have been issued and are extremely important for the success of industrialization, modernization and international integration.

The Ministry has reformed its organization and system to liberate maximally the creative research abilities of all organization and individuals in the sci-tech sector. We also develop policies to make breakthroughs in sci-tech activities and to connect sci-tech with businesses.

The progressive laws and policies have made a positive impact on society and the sci-tech sector in recent years.

VietNamNet: What do you think about sci-tech research facilities and the scientists of Vietnam? How about in the near future?

Phong: Investment in science and technology is still modest, but it has brought about positive changes in Vietnam’s potential.

Many research institutions and businesses have modern research equipment. The State has built some modern laboratories to serve profound research projects.

The team of scientists has developed strongly in quantity and quality. We lack scientists in some fields of research, but in new areas like biotechnology, information and communication technology, we have young qualified researchers.

Not only research institutes and universities, but also many enterprises have scientists and researchers. This is a new trend reflecting Vietnam’s economic development as sci-tech is gradually becoming considered as a direct production force.

VietNamNet: The gap between research institutes and businesses is a big hindrance for sci-tech development and the improvement of training. Is there a solution?

Phong: It is not a matter for Vietnam, but for other countries to build policies to improve the effectiveness of research through interactions between research institutes, universities and businesses.

In Vietnam, to link these sectors, the Ministry of Science and Technology has changed policies and set up sci-tech organizations and businesses to attract scientists from research institutions to create high-value commercial products.

VietNamNet: How would you rate the gap between Vietnam’s science and technology regionally and internationally?

Phong: Vietnam has narrowed the gap in science and technology we have made some achievements.

Thanks to sci-tech progress, Vietnam’s average rice productivity has increased remarkably in the last 20 years to reach 5.22 tonnes per hectare in 2008, 2.03 times over 1990. Vietnam has become the second largest rice exporter in the world.

Vietnam has also reached a high level in the region in aquaculture. Revenue from seacooking exports in 2008 hit 4.4 billion dong. This is 22-fold more than that of 1990 and 220-fold over 1980. Seafood exports have met HACCP standards and the strict quality standards of Japan, the US and the European Union.

The mechanical engineering industry manufactures many types of precision machines, as well as super-length and super-weight equipment of high value. The 450 tonne crane for Nam Trieu shipyard was manufactured with the localization rate of 90 percent is the first super-length, super-weight equipment made in Vietnam and Southeast Asia.

After that, we manufactured cranes of 700 tonnes for the Dung Quat Oil Refinery, of 500 tonnes for the Se San hydropower plant, 1,200 tonnes for the Son La hydropower plant and transformers up to 125 MVA. These locally-made mechanical products helped Vietnam save hundreds of US dollars.

VietNamNet: How can Vietnam narrow the gap in science and technology between it and the world?

Phong: Aiming to reach a per capita income level of $3000-4000 by 2020, we need to build science and technology to the average level for the region and the world. We will focus on advanced technology in key industries (energy, mining and metallurgy, metallurgy, mechanical engineering, chemistry, infrastructure technology and electronics) to build the foundation for Vietnam to become an industrialized country.

Thank you for answering our questions!


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VN on track for full industrialization by 2020, says Minister - Interviews - In depth |  vietnam travel company

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