Lao Cai: Continued Assistance for Investors

11:26:00 PM | 16/5/2012

In recent years, Lao Cai province has always maintained high standards in attracting investment, with an increasingly favourable business environment, ranking among the Top Ten in the Provincial Competitiveness Index (PCI), and winning the first position in 2011. Vietnam Business Forum interviewed Mr Nguyen Van Vinh, Chairman of Lao Cai People’s Committee. Tran Trang reports.
Please tell us how the province has developed its advantages in recent years?
Lao Cai is a highland and border province with 25 ethnic nationalities living in a natural area of 6,384 sq. kilometres and a population of over 635,000 people. It has one international border gate and four sub-border gates with China. With a large agricultural and forestry land area and a favourable climate, the province can develop the production of high-value agricultural products: vegetables, fruit, flowers, livestock, poultry, and aqua-products. While the province’s mountainous regions include famous tourist sites such as Sa Pa, Bac Ha and Bat Xat, attracting local and foreign tourists.
Lying on the economic corridor Kunming – Lao Cai – Hanoi – Haiphong, Lao Cai serves as the bridge between Vietnam – ASEAN and the large region of Western China. The province has over 35 kinds of minerals in 150 sites of high quality and large reserves such as apatite, iron, copper, graphite, and materials for ceramics and glass. Hydro power capacity of the province is nearly 1,000 MW. In addition, with railway and airport upgrades, Lao Cai will become the growth nucleus of northern mountainous provinces.
 To develop its potential and advantages, Lao Cai, in recent years, has carried out important solutions and attained significant success. For instance, the province established a 79.7 sq. kilometre border economic region with the International Border Gate Zone of Lao Cai, Muong Khuong, Lao Cai – Ha Khau, Kim Thanh Trade-Industry, Dong Pho Moi Industry, and Bac Duyen Hai industrial centre. The province has also expanded multilateral and bilateral cooperation, especially with Yunan Province (China) and provinces and cities along the Kunming –Haiphong economic corridor. As of 2011, the province has attracted 950 businesses to the border gate with 1.2 million tourists and business people, over 55,000 trucks and 140 trains carrying goods for trading a year.
Regarding industry, Lao Cai has established Dong Pho Moi industrial zone and Bac Duyen Hai industrial centre, expanded Tang Loong industrial zone and planned to invest in industrial zones of Tan An – Tan Thuong, Bac Nhac Son, and West Lao Cai. So far, industrial zones and centres have attracted important investment projects processing apatite, super-phosphor, yellow phosphor, copper and steel. By the end of 2011, 127 projects have been invested in industrial zones and centres with total registered capital of over VND15,700 billion, 52 projects are already in operation, with turnover of VND9,150 billion – 50 percent more than 2010.
In tourism, Lao Cai has developed 17 tours and 12 tourism sites, with centres like Lao Cai City, Sa Pa Town and Bac Ha, and increased promotion activities. So far, the province has 410 accommodation providers operated by various economic sectors, including 44 hotels of 1-4 stars and has developed Sa Pa –Kunming and Kunming– Haiphong – Quang Ninh tours.
Lao Cai has also participated in the development of important infrastructure projects such as Noi Bai – Lao Cai Highway, Red River administrative and political centre, Lao Cai airport, 600 km of roads to communes and 1,254 km of roads to villages to promote socio-economic development.
What are the lessons for successful management in the difficult year of 2011?
 In 2011, overcoming difficulties and challenges in socio-economic development, Lao Cai recorded important successes: economic growth of 14.2 percent; industrial turnover of VND2,560 billion or 18 percent more than 2010; high rates of investment attraction and efficiency with over VND10,000 billion, 40 percent more than 2010; positive transformation of investment structure with 26 percent from State budget and 74 percent from the business sector, mostly from local and foreign investment projects; 70 additional investment projects in 2011 with investment capital of VND3,700 billion; import-export value of US$1,55 billion, 56 percent more than 2010; and provincial budget revenue of VND3,157 billion, 58 percent more than 2010.
From its practical activities, Lao Cai has drawn the following lessons:
One, the province has focused on central tasks and applied appropriate measures, with new thinking and methods, to develop its potential advantages.
Two, with correct forecasts of advantages and difficulties in the turbulent conditions of domestic and international economies, the province set out a correct policy which was efficiently implemented by all related authorities.
Three, the province relied on grass roots levels and upgraded their dynamism and management skill.
Four, the province made the best use of assistance and support from the central government, donors and investors at home and abroad, to unceasingly expand economic development.
 To continue the improvement of investment and business environment, what will Lao Cai do in the coming years?
 To improve investment environment, we will focus on the following measures:
One, accelerating administrative reform, ensuring the smooth application of procedures not constraining businesses, processing information relating to the authorities and businesses, and punishing those officials who harass and cause difficulties for businesses.
Two, encouraging and facilitating the development of business supporting services, developing and implementing business assistance programmes, and increasing capacity, expertise and information for businesses.
Three, reviewing and making public the master plan and detailed plans on land use, urban development, industrial zones and centres, materials areas, as well as new programmes and projects of the province.
Four, implementing preferential policies and mechanisms on land use, land rent, financial support for land clearance, encouragement for development of economic sectors: agriculture, forestry, industry and service; reviewing and amending policies and mechanisms on preferential treatment of investments in border gate economic zones, new urban projects and housing projects in the province.
 Five, training and developing human resources, sponsoring meetings to publicize enterprises staff needs, signing cooperation programmes on workforce training, developing training at three levels (high, secondary and primary) for different sectors, and creating more opportunities for workers.
Six, increasing IT application in e-customs; making public related legal documents on websites, especially “Lao Cai PCI data”.
Seven, maintaining conferences and seminars between local authorities and businesses to increase mutual understanding, and issuing timely solutions to ease difficulties and constraints of businesses.
With those efforts in economic management, Lao Cai has been a reliable destination for local and foreign investors.