HCM City Economic Forum to discuss the impacts of digital on competitiveness

VIETNAM, April 15 –

HCM City said it aims to become a digital government and smart city by the end of this year. Photo VNA/VNS

HCM CITY – The 2022 HCM City Economic Forum, which opened on Friday, discussed policy mechanisms, challenges and solutions to drive digital transformation and improve business competitiveness.

The forum basically focused on how the country’s largest city and economic hub can help businesses achieve digital transformation to help grow a digital economy.

The annual international event, themed “Digital Economy: Driving Growth and Development of Ho Chi Minh City,” brought together more than 900 delegates, including leaders from government, various ministries and sectors.

Representatives of foreign diplomatic agencies and international organizations such as the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and Asian Development Bank as well as renowned economists also participated in the forum.

The three-day event will feature 25 international speakers, double the number from last year. Nine Vietnamese speakers will also address the forum.

Speaking at a recent forum press conference, Võ Văn Hoan, Vice Chairman of HCM City People’s Committee, who is also the head of the event’s organizing board, said that HCM City has great potential to develop its digital economy as it has the highest number of smartphone and internet users in the country.

However, many companies, especially small and medium enterprises, face obstacles in achieving digital transformation as they lack capital, human resources and supportive policy mechanisms, he added.

Nguyễn Phước Hưng, Vice President of HCM City Business Association, said the forum also discussed experiences and lessons in digital transformation of local and international businesses.

Long term investment

Đỗ Phước Tống, chairman of Duy Khanh Mechanical Engineering Company, said digital transformation was a long-term and expensive affair, meaning it would take years to recoup the investment.

“The cost of digital transformation should be seen as a long-term investment that can only be recovered in 10 or even 20 years rather than a production cost to be included in the price of the product.

“Companies need to be patient and persistent,” he advised.

He said it took his company up to five years to complete its digital transformation and digitize all data, resulting in increased productivity, better strategic planning and higher revenue.

He recommended that the city include digital transformation in its investment stimulus program to support businesses.

To that end, “all businesses that meet the criteria set by the investment stimulus program should be offered preferential loans,” he said.

Apart from investing in machinery to improve production capacity, companies now need to invest in digital transformation to improve management capacity, Tống said.

Economist Nguyễn Thị Cành pointed out that Việt Nam, especially Ho Chi Minh City, has developed a legal framework for the development of digital economy.

However, the city lacks policy mechanisms to support businesses in digital transformation as they attempt to recover production; and the human resource base for carrying out the process remains weak, she noted.

“The four main pillars of a digital economy are institutions, human resources, technology and infrastructure,” she stressed.

HCM City aims to become a digital government and a smart city by the end of this year.

It has set a target for the digital economy to account for 15, 25 and 40% of its regional gross domestic product (GDP) this year, by 2025 and by 2030, respectively.

It will prioritize the digitization of 10 sectors – health, education, transport, finance – banking, tourism, agriculture, logistics, environment, energy and human resources.

Currently, HCM City ranks fifth out of 63 provinces and cities in the ranking for the application and development of information technology.

The digital economy last year accounted for about 15 percent of the city’s gross domestic product, or VN191.8 trillion ($8.27 billion), according to a study by the Institute for Development Studies. —VNS

Melvin B. Baillie