BEN TRE, located at the downstream of the Mekong River's basin, is known for long having an agriculture-based society. This is one of the smallest in land area among Mekong Delta provinces, sitting just next above the smallest one, but its population density stands at the 4th place. Its above-average economic criteria in comparison to other Mekong Delta provinces depends largely on livestock farming and aquaculture, particularly the aquaculture output of which shrimp stands at the 2nd place, followed by cattle herds. Other general economic criteria such as GDP, industrial production, food, import and export turn-overs, budget balancing, etc and several per capita criteria are below average. Specifically, Ben Tre's GDP per capita is equal to just 90% of the whole

Mekong Delta's, 58% of the Southern provinces', and modestly 30% of the Southern Economic Dynamic Area.

Ben Tre's overall economic structure is divided into three main sectors. Sector I includes agriculture, forestry, fishery, and some other supporting industries. Sector II includes industry, handycraft and infrastructure construction serving the socio-economic development toward industrialization and modernization in line with the country's main course of development. And Sector III comprises the services such as commerce and tourism, among others. Of these sectors, Sector I has the largest proportion in the province's GDP, next comes Sector II, and finally Sector III accounts for just 12%-13%. It is determined that based on Sector I, the province's socio-economic development would lean toward the rapid growth of Sectors II and III on balancing the volume ratios between all three Sectors.

Growth Indicators:

- Ben Tre's gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate was averaged at 6.07% annually between 1991 and 1995, and that moved slightly up to 6.18% annually during the 5 years from 1996 to 2000, which is double the rate of 1990. In 2003, the GDP growth rate was estimated at 9.03%, slightly higher than the targeted 9%.

- The economic structure has been rationally inching toward the increase of industrial and services volumes. Still, Sector I keeps on playing the most dynamic and driving role in the whole economy.

Sector I: So far, Sector I is still considered the greatest contribution to the economy's growth. The reason is that this sector currently has fairly high growth rate, averaging 5.15% annually during the decade of 1991 and 2000. In 2003, the growth rate was 6%. The volume ratio of Sector I in the overall economy, though downsizing lately, is upheld at as high as more than 60%.

Sector II: The average growth rate of this sector was fixed at 9.25% throughout the decade of 1991 and 2000. The volume proportion of this sector suffered a big decline from 13.6% in 1991 down to 11.4% in 1995, then it made a U turn back to 12.7% in 2000, and in 2003, it was galloping to 15.26%.

Sector III: The average annual growth rate of the services and tourism sector in the 5 years from 1996 to 2000"stood still" at 7.2%. The volume ratio of this sector in the same time span was hence fluctuating around 20% to 21%. In 2003, this ratio grew by 14.65%.

On the other hand, the GDP per capita grew dramatically from VND1.69 million (US$151) in 1991 to VND2.68 million (US$243) in 1995, and in 2000 this was already jump to VND5.01 million (US$353). There has also been some improvements in the overall living standards, and, of course, differences in incomes between groups of agricultural and non-industrial population as well. The incomes difference between non-industrial and agricultural earners has been growing larger, from 2.53 times in 1991 up to 4.1 times in 2000.