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80% of Vietnamese industrial zones violate environmental regulations: expert

TUOI TRE NEWS | 21 November 2016

Eighty in every 100 industrial zones in Vietnam are violating the country’s environmental regulations, an expert said at an economic workshop in Hanoi on Friday.

The figure was shared by Assoc. Prof. Dr. Dinh Duc Truong from the Hanoi-based National Economics University during the international workshop on ‘Vietnam’s Economy in the Medium Term: Prospects and Environmental Effects.’

The workshop was co-organized by the National Center for Socio-Economic Information and Forecast and the Republic of Ireland’s government agency for international development, Irish Aid.

Dr. Truong cited statistics from the General Statistics Office of Vietnam for his findings.

According to Truong, foreign direct investment (FDI) businesses account for up to 60 percent of the firms based in Vietnam that violate standards on waste discharge.

Many of these businesses bring outdated technology, banned in developed countries, into Vietnam in order to lengthen their life cycle and make use of  low environmental investment requirements and taxes.

“[Vietnam’s] low environmental standards and lack of a monitoring system allow FDI businesses to save between ten and 50 percent of investment costs compared to those of their parent companies,” Truong said.

The associate professor stressed in his report ‘Vietnam – Pollution Heaven for Foreign Businesses’ that Vietnam was already facing grave environmental risks despite having yet to become a fully industrial nation.

The country spends US$780 million every year on healthcare services related to environmental pollution, Truong said, citing a report by the Vietnamese Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.

Pollution damage accounts for an estimated five percent of the country’s annual gross domestic product (GDP), while the respective figure for China is ten percent, Truong said, citing World Bank (WB) studies at Friday’s workshop.

He warned that Vietnam could well surpass its northern neighbor in this regard should its pollution continue at the current rate.

Dr. Truong elaborated on his forecast in an interview with Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper on Sunday, saying that countries with serious pollution like China had adopted the green GDP, which factors the environmental consequences of economic growth into a country's conventional GDP.

Vietnam, Truong said, was still calculating its environmental damage as a stand-alone factor.