Jurisdiction - Vietnam
Vietnam – Seaport Development: The New Master Plan For Seaport System Development 2020-2030.

25 February, 2015


Legal News & Analysis – Asia Pacific – Vietnam – Shipping Maritime & Aviation


I. Main Content


Vinamarine has been assigned by Vietnam’s Government to prepare a new Master Plan for ports for the period 2020-2030. Three reports have been produced so far and, after completion, the plan will be subject to Prime Minister’s approval and then promulgated. The master plan focuses on development of seaports in order to foster Vietnam’s economic growth. It should be regarded as a significant progress as the development of seaports played a secondary role to industrial development. The master plan stipulates six port groups. It must be underlined that comments and recommendation of various companies and of the VBF subgroup were taken into consideration and incorporated. More emphasis was put on enhancing the infrastructure and development of channels, access roads and connection of regional ports.


Management and administration mechanisms that are applied in Vietnam considerably differ from those in other countries. In other parts of the world, local governments take responsibility to manage and control local ports, in Vietnam however, it falls within the scope of responsibility of the central Government. Therefore, the connection of different terminals into a big port seems to be practically challenging and will take some time before relevant legal framework is ready.


Vinamarine and the Foreign Investment Agency declared their willingness to cooperate with the Port Subgroup and include their recommendations.


While drafting the plan, focus was laid on four key aspects:


  • Development concepts
  • Development objectives
  • Development scale, and
  • prioritized strategic projects till 2015


Development Concept


The main focus of attention was laid on synchronized planning and building the supported infrastructure, while the main stress should be consistently put on the construction of port infrastructure and logistic centers. Beside this, priority is given to the development of international transshipment and gateway ports with application of new advanced technologies.


Relocation Of River Ports Into Areas Close To The Coast In Order To Compensate For The Lack Of Channels And Passages.


Development of seaports means not only construction of terminals, but also building of supported infrastructure. The implementation of the plans stipulates mobilizing of domestic and international investments. In order to ensure sustainable growth, the developments should be consistent with environmental management and protection.


Development Objectives


Development objective consist in coordinated development of seaports and port-related infrastructure in all regions.


Below you will find an overview of forecasted cargo volumes transiting through Vietnam’s seaports:


  • Until 2015, ca. 480-590m tones cargo annually (Container: 13-16m TEUS; 1.3 -1.6m international Tourists and North-South travelers passing through).
  • Until 2020, ca. 820-1,080m tones cargo annually (Container: 24-30m TEUS; 1.9 -2.4m international Tourists and North-South travelers passing through).
  • Until 2030, ca. 1.400-2,100m tones cargo annually (Container: 50-60m TEUS; 4.0 -5.9m international Tourists).


According to the 2008 statistics, the total cargo throughput gained 196.58 million tons (container: 5.023m TEU).


The forecasts were made on the base of global market movements. The master plan should also contain analyses and projections for different types of cargo.


Development Plan:


Vietnam’s seaports are organized in 6 groups:


  • Group 1: consists of seaports in the North(QuangNinh and NinhBinh provinces)
  • Group 2: includes sea ports in the North of Central Vietnam: ThanhHoa and Ha Tinh provinces)
  • Group 3: covers sea ports of the middle region of Central Vietnam: (QuangBinh and Quang Ngai provinces)
  • Group 4: includes seaports in the south region of Central Vietnam: (BinhDinh and BinhNinhThuan provinces)
  • Group 5: encompasses sea ports of the east region of South Vietnam: (Ho Chi Minh City, Dong Nai, Ba Ria – Vung Tau and along Soai Rap River in Long An and Tien Giang provinces)
  • Group 6: covers seaports in the Mekong Delta region ((Mekong Delta, PhuQuoc Island and southwestern Islands).


Development Scale:


Group 1


  • Estimated cargo volume for Group 1 ports by 2020 amounts to 95-150m tons annually (Container: 4.5-5.5m TEUS (0.6 -0.8m tourists); until 2030: 240-315m tons annually (Container: 10-16m TEUS; 1.4 -1.9m tourists).
  • Hai Phong international gateway port:
    • LachHuyen – accommodates vessels of 50,000-80,000 DWT and 4,000-6,000 TEUS length. Every 600m there is a berth for two ships. Vinamarine will begin with construction work at LachHuyen.
    • Dinh Vu – accommodates vessels up to 20,000-30,000 DWT.
    • Cam River – offers place for ships up to 5,000-10,000 DWT.
    • Chanh River – accommodates vessels up to 10,000-40,000 DWT, this seaport specializes also in ship-repair and shipbuilding and is suitable for industrial purposes.
  • Hon Gai is the regional focal port with CaiLan terminals for vessels of 50,000 DWT, 3,000 TEUS.
    • Other specialized ports are Cam Pha, Hai Ha, Van Gia, Mui Chua and Van Hoa
    • Additionally, an oil terminal should be built in this region to replace the existing B2 at CaiLan


Group 2


  • Estimated cargo volume by 2020 amounts to 140-160 mln tons annually (Container: 102,000-130,000 TEUS; until 2030: 210 – 230mln tons annually (Container: 180,000 -350,000 TEUS).
  • Nghi Son the region’s focal port with capacity of 25,000 DWT oil tankers and ships of 30,000- 50,000 DWT. Other ports are Cua Lo, Cua Hoi and Ben Thuy.


Group 3


  • Cargo volume by 2020 estimated at 80-105 mln tons annually (Container: 0.3-0.4 mln TEUS, 0.4-0.5 mln tourists); until 2030: 140-205 mln tons annually (Container: 0.6-1.1mln TEUS; 0.8-1.2 mln tourists).
  • Da Nang is the region’s focal port for ships of 20,000-30,000DWT. Other ports are Dung Quat, ThuaThien Hue, QuangBinh und Quang Tri.


Group 4


  • Cargo volume by 2020 forecasted at 160-210m tons annually (Container: 4.5-5m TEUS, 0.3-0.5m tourists); by 2030: 270-380m tons annually (Container: 9.0-10.5m TEUS; 0.9-1.3m tourists).
  • Van Phong, an international transshipment port for vessels of 9,000 TEUS und 30,000 DWT, oil tankers.
  • QuyNhon is the region’s focal port for ships of 30,000-50,000 DWT. Other ports are Ba Ngoi, NhaTrang, Ca Na und Ke Ga.


Group 5


  • Cargo volume by 2020 estimated at 250-310 mln tons annually (Container: 15-20 mln TEUS, 0.4-0.6 mln tourists); by 2030: 500-650 mln tons annually (Container: 35-52 mln TEUS; 1.0-1.3 mln tourists).
  • Vung Tau is an international gateway with terminals:
    • CaiMep, Sao Mai- Ben Dinh for vessels of 6,000 – 8,000 TEUS
    • Phu My-ThiVai for vessels of 50,000 DWT, 4,000 TEUS
    • Long Son for petrochemical complex, for vessels of 300,000 DWT and vessels of 30,000 – 80,000 DWT
  • Ho Chi Minh City is the region’s focal port with the following functional areas:
    • HiepPhuoc along the Soai Rap River for vessels of 50,000 DWT, 4,000 TEUS
    • Cat Lai for ships of 30,000 DWT
    • Can Giuoc (in the Long An Province) and Go Cong (in the Tien Giang Province) along Soai Rap River for ships of 30,000 DWT.


Group 6


  • Cargo volume by 2020 expected at 130-160m tons annually (Container: 92,000-125,000 TEU, 55,000-70,000 tourists); by 2030: 200-300m tons annually (Container: 180,000-350,000m TEU; 80,000-120,000m tourists).


Can Tho is the focal port for ships of 10,000-20,000 DWT. Other ports include ports along the rivers Tien, Hau and Cai Lon, Hon Chong in KienGiang Province, An Thoi und Vinh Dam in PhuQuoe, and specialized ports to import coal for power plants.


Priority Projects Until 2015:


  • deepen waterway in the ports of Haiphong, CaiMep-thiVai, Ho Chi Minh City on the river Soai Rap and Can Tho harbor on river Hau.
  • buliding of the general and container terminals in CaiMep-thiVai harbor, HiepPhuoc harbor, building terminals for export of goods and import of cruide oil for Nghi Son and Long Son oil refineries, building harbors for importing coal for coal plants.
  • completing of Phase 1 at the international transshipment port Van Phong and construction of the international gateway port LachHuyen.


Comments To The Master Plan And Recommendations


In comparison to the 2008 draft, the new master plan shows that at some points a considerable progress has been made. Vietnam seems to have understood that ports are a vital driving force behind economic growth. The reviewed draft was prepared more effectively and aims to meet the growth of the economy and the development of business centers. Cargo volume forecasts require a more in-depth discussion and should be presented in more detail and their fundamental bases should be clarified.


Vietnam’s production output surged rapidly and the existing ports are not adequate to support this growth either now or in the near future. Therefore, the Government should encourage more investors to build ports and supported infrastructure. Besides, the master plan should pay more attention to those ports which are able to accommodate big ships. Furthermore, dredging channels and passages to the depth of 16 m should be taken into consideration.


According to Nguyen Ngoc Hue, Deputy General Director, Vinamarine, the forecasts of cargo volume transiting through Vietnam’s ports are based on forecasted macro-economic indicators and internationally recognized methodologies. As soon as the Master Plan is complete and approved, Vinamarine will plan the building of port groups in detail and open more workshops to discuss further the detailed forecasts of cargo volume. The Ministry of Transport has completed a Vietnam Transport Network Master Plan in cooperation with the Japanese government which provides technical assistance. The plan covers planning of roads, railways and waterways. According to Vitamarinem, focus must be primarily laid on the construction of access channels and passages at ports in Haiphong, CaiMep-ThiVai, Ho Chi Minh City and Dinh An. The biggest difficulty is to maintain the depth of the access channels. By the end of 2009, at CaiMep-ThiVai will start works to dredge the access channels to the depth of 14 metres. The works should be complete in 18 months.
According to Vinamarine, the Master Plan was made in consideration of the development of other economic sectors. However a in-depth analysis of its effects has not been made. The Master Plan takes into account Vietnam’s geographical features such as Vietnam’s long coastlines.


Details as to the methodology of developing the Master Plan and forecasts were discussed at the meeting with the Port Sub-group in September, 2008. Based on Vietnam’s geographical features, locations are identified for development of ports. Currently, 24 ports are planned for development.


The Master Plan is built on the following principles:


  • Development of ports will not negatively influence the development of other economic sectors.
  • Development of ports must go in line with natural conditions and local demand.


According to Vinamarine dredging access channels too deeply would be too expensive. Therefore, the plan stipulates that, in the north, LachHuyen port will receive ships of 4,000 TEUS; in the south, CaiMep will receive ships of 6,000 TEUS. Ships of 9,000 TEUS and more will go to Van Phong international transshipment port.


In accordance to Power Plan 6, the Mekong Delta will have 4 thermal power plants and there will be built floating warehouses. Ships of 10,000 dwt will load coal into floating warehouses, and then coal will be transported to plants by ferries and small ships. According to calculations, this method would be the most economically efficient.


Vietnam’s Government will mobilize both domestic and foreign investment sources to develop new seaports and facilitate port projects invested by domestic and foreign enterprises of all economic sectors in forms FDI, joint ventures, BOT, BTO and BT. State funds will be only involved in developing public utilities at focal ports and developing some infrastructure items at focal port projects. Foreign investors can establish wholly foreign invested enterprises to build ports in the forms of BOT,BTO and BT.


Focus must be laid on the implementation of the Master Plan. The plan should propose new incentives to private investors and facilitate the development of connections of ports with the national transportation network (road, railway, airway etc). The existing mechanism discourage the private sector from investing in supported infrastructure projects. New ports should be planned in harmony with the growth of other sectors to ensure that the ports will be effectively used.




The Master Plan should have a wider and longer-term vision, based on the country’s resources in each period of time.


Further discussion concerning forecasts in cargo volumes, especially containers transiting through ports, should be held between state agencies and enterprises in order to provide more appropriate and accurate forecasts.


The challenge to develop transport systems in order to connect ports with industrial parks and urban areas must be addressed by a synchronized transport planning strategy in Vietnam, and an appropriate mechanism to mobilize sufficient sources to implement the strategy.


To enhance the competitiveness of Vietnam’s ports, channels and passages must be dredged to enable ports to accommodate big ships.


Measures should be proposed to mobilize sources to effectively implement the Master Plan.


It must be ensured that port development and the relevant management models do not negatively affect other economic sectors and the environment.


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For further information, please contact:


Oliver Massmann, Partner, Duane Morris
[email protected]


Giles T. Cooper, Partner, Duane Morris

[email protected]


Manfred Otto, Duane Morris

[email protected]

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