(VEN) - A workshop on how to develop and manage traditional markets in urban environments organized by the Ministry of Industry and Trade was held on June 20. Participants agreed that Vietnamese traditional markets act as an effective goods distribution channel, but the question remained how to develop traditional markets in modern urban areas.
According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade's Domestic Market Department, there are around nearly 9,000 markets and 600 supermarkets nationwide. Although supermarkets, convenience stores and shopping centers are blossoming in modern urban areas, traditional markets have remained the most effective distribution channel.
The Ministry of Industry and Trade's Head of Local and Territorial trade Administration Office Dang Thai Binh said, "At present, only five percent of fruit and vegetables are distributed through supermarkets while around 80 percent are sold at traditional markets. Local traditional markets are one important factor contributing to last year's achievement of US$99 billion in domestic commercial value."
Traditional markets are not merely a distribution channel but also a repository of Vietnamese cultural values. "Visiting traditional markets, we will discover local traits through examining local goods. I see that tourists are very interesting in this," said Ministry of Construction's Institute of Architecture, Urban and Rural Planning Architect Nguyen Van Dung.
Traditional markets play an important role in local economic development. However, it must be recognized that traditional market development has not been in harmony with modern urban growth due to a series of issues including environmental pollution, lack of clear origin of goods, food safety, and management. To overcome these, a number of cities and towns have piloted transforming traditional markets into shopping centers, but the results have been disappointing and the question remains how to develop traditional markets in modern urban areas.
Most of the researchers and managers attending the workshop agreed that the retention of traditional markets in urban areas needed to consider both economic and cultural values, but should be modified in terms of space, business environment and administration so as to meet the people's needs in an urban environment.
Existing management boards in traditional markets should be restructured into business administrative cooperatives or companies and operate under the Enterprise Law. Such restructuring has already been carried out successfully at some traditional markets including Dong Xuan and Lang Ha in Hanoi and Ben Thanh in Ho Chi Minh City.
Speaking at the workshop, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Ho Thi Kim Thoa said, "I see that traditional markets are economically and culturally important for local people and should be maintained along with modern urban development. However, we need to wisely choose between what to keep and what not so as to be able to retain typical traits of traditional markets while applying new appropriate changes for harmonious development."
She insisted that in the time to come, the Ministry of Industry and Trade would have support policies for the local implementation of the transformation and upgrading of traditional markets. In addition, the ministry would propose related incentives to the Government and coordinate with relevant ministries and departments to develop a uniform system of policies for the preservation and promotion of traditional markets in urban areas./.
By Viet Nga