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Northwest region calls for $10b investment

In Uncategorized on September 30, 2008 at 6:24 pm

A corner of the Danish-invested US$1 million Ecolodge tourism complex in Lao Cai Province’s famous town of Sapa. The region is hoping to attract $10 billion in investment in two years to reach its 2010 development goals. — VNA/VNS Photo Anh Tuan

HA NOI — The northwestern region needs a total investment capital of at least US$10 billion by 2010, so as to achieve the target of social and economic development set by the government, according to local authorities.

Following the scheme, the region including Lao Cai, Yen Bai, Phu Tho, Dien Bien, Lai Chau and Ha Giang provinces aims to ensure an economic growth rate of 11 per cent each year.

Despite the advantages in land space, natural resources and hydro-electric power potential, the provinces have failed to attract foreign investors due to insufficient infrastructure and a shortage of skilled labour, said Lao Cai Department of Planning and Investment director Doan Van Huong.

During the period between 1998-2007, the region attracted only 92 foreign-invested projects worth $675 million. In the first nine months of this year, only Lao Cai and Yen Bai could attract foreign investment with Lao Cai Province attracted four projects valued at $73.4 million and Yen Bai Province gained $3.2 million with one project.

Slow land clearance, cumbersome administrative procedures and higher investment costs than that of other locations were identified as the main challenges facing the northwestern provinces in attracting foreign direct investment.

Among the six provinces in the region, Lao Cai has proved the most attractive to foreign investors. By September this year, foreign investors pumped $318.6 million into 33 projects. However, only $23 million or 7.2 per cent of the sum had been disbursed.

Yen Bai Department of Planning and Investment director Nguyen Ngoc Han said that the provinces should focus on fostering industrial development rather than depending on agriculture and animal breeding. The director also emphasised the importance of foreign investors who could bring the latest technology to the provinces’ process of economic development.

Phu Tho People’s Committee Chairman Nguyen Doan Khanh spoke of the need to upgrade regional road systems and roads connecting the provinces with large economic hubs, so as to make life easier for investors.

Streamlining administrative procedures was also necessary to create a favourable investment climate, as well as to improve awareness of officials in charge of investment promotion, Khanh added.

Under a decision by the Prime Minister, the northwestern provinces will receive financial support from the Government to upgrade infrastructure facilities to encourage development and attract investment capital.

Last year, the average annual GDP growth in the region stood at 12.4 per cent. It hopes to increase this by 1.5 percentage points this year. —

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