WB: Freight logistics should be improved

Tuesday, Jan 12, 2016 08:23

Loading import-export goods in Tien Sa Port in the central city of Da Nang. — VNA/VNS Photo Le Lam

HA NOI (Biz Hub) — Viet Nam's Government should work with private importers, exporters and transport companies to improve freight logistics because the evolving economy needs new strategies for strong growth, the World Bank reported.

Titled "Engaging the Private Sector in Transport and Logistics Planning and Policy Making: Options for Viet Nam", the World Bank report released last Friday said systematic engagement with freight stakeholders by government agencies responsible for planning and policymaking could boost trade competitiveness.

International experience has shown that private sector stakeholders, the end-users of the transport infrastructure and the key intended beneficiaries of public policies aimed at facilitating trade and reducing logistics costs, have a lot of feedback on supply and demand models in terms of transport and logistics, which could lead to improvements in public decision-making for the transport and logistics sectors, according to the report.

In Viet Nam, however, private stakeholders remain relatively untapped as a source of insight into transport and logistics policymaking and planning, the report said.

"By more explicitly, transparently, and predictably engaging with private-sector stakeholders all across the import-export and domestic supply chain, national agencies like the Ministry of Transport and sub-national ones like the provincial departments of transport can better equip Viet Nam with the logistics system it needs as it enters its next phase of logistics competitiveness as a middle-income country," Luis C Blancas, a World Bank Senior Transport Specialist and author of the report, said.

Malaysia, Thailand, the United States and the United Kingdom, among the world's top-performing countries in transport and logistics according to the World Bank's Logistics Performance Index benchmark, have considerable experience in engaging private-sector stakeholders in planning and policymaking to help public-sector agencies support strong logistics outcomes. Such experience elsewhere provides lessons learned and pitfalls to avoid for Viet Nam.

In the past, private freight stakeholders in Viet Nam have worked with government agencies to facilitate trade, rather than longer-term initiatives such as infrastructure planning and crafting policies to promote desirable sector-wide outcomes, including better service delivery, healthier market competition and cutting greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change.

The World Bank report contends increased public-private engagement can greatly enhance logistics competitiveness in these areas, going forward. It suggests establishing legally backed platforms for public-private and public-public collaboration and furnishing such partnerships with sufficient resources to carry out their mandate.

Other important steps include managing private sector expectations, ensuring comprehensive representation of stakeholders across the supply chain and observing common sense "business meeting" norms regarding timeliness and the prompt issuance of minutes with clearly assigned responsibilities and well-defined next steps.

In addition, the report calls for pursuing private-sector engagement opportunities throughout the planning and policymaking cycle, as opposed to only within selected portions of it, as a contributing factor to ensuring sustained engagement.

A survey of Viet Nam-based private freight stakeholders conducted for the report confirmed an unmet need for greater engagement between the government and private sector on planning and policymaking in logistics. Respondents strongly supported platforms for dialogue and collaboration consistent with the approaches suggested by the international experience. — VNS

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