Bãi Bằng is an industrial area northwest of Hanoi. It is home to the large paper mill of the same name, completed in 1996.
Controversial development project
The construction of the Bãi Bằng paper mill was controversial. This project was signed as a cooperation between Sweden and then North Vietnam in 1969, with construction beginning in 1975. The construction was evaluated by the Chr. Michelsen Institute, an independent, non-profit research foundation based in Norway.
However, many problems caused the project to take until 1996 before reaching the projected capacity. The projected cost was 770 million Swedish kronor, but instead totaled to 2.8 billion Swedish kronor. For many years, the Bãi Bằng paper mill was seen as problematic. In the long run, Bãi Bằng became a success. It is the largest paper mill in Vietnam, and currently,[when?] one of the most successful paper mills in the country.
Production and importance
Now[when?] the machines in the paper mill are operating at maximum capacity. Bãi Bằng is producing about 40 percent of all the paper in Vietnam and is one of the largest manufacturers of toilet paper in the country. In 2008, they produced 110,000 tons of paper, twice as much as planned.
The paper today is made from bamboo, eucalyptus, and acacia.
Around 2,000 people work at Bãi Bằng. This investment has contributed to a high standard of living around Bãi Bằng. The village has grown into a small town with about 20,000 inhabitants.
100 km northwest of Bãi Bằng is Ham Yen, which is the center of the forest part in the project.
Many Swedes who worked and lived in Bãi Bằng are coming back as tourists. The Swedish travel agency TravelBase arranges special tours to the paper mill.
- "Pappersbruket Bai Bang i norra Vietnam har fått svidande kritik och kallats det största svenska biståndsfiaskot genom tiderna." Translation from Swedish: "The papermill Bai Bang in northern Vietnam has received scathing critique and been labelled the largest Swedish development fiasco ever." Archived 2007-10-23 at the Wayback Machine.
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