Lao Cai rated friendliest business environment in Vietnam

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The northwestern province of Lao Cai has surpassed the central city of Da Nang as Vietnam's top business environment, according to an annual survey released Thursday.

The annual Vietnam Provincial Competitiveness Index (PCI) analyzes Vietnamese locations in terms of ease of access to information and favorable conditions for private investment.

Lao Cai topped the 2011 list with 73.53 points, improving upon its second place in 2010 (with 67.97 points).

The northeastern province of Cao Bang, in the same mountainous region of Vietnam as Lao Cai, however, finished at the bottom of the list.

Bac Ninh Province in northern Vietnam jumped to second place in 2011, up from its 6th place standing in 2010.

Da Nang, the chart topper of 2010, fell to 5th place in 2011.

The PCI measures nine criteria, including transparency, access to land use, labor policies and ease of paperwork.

Top 10 in the 2011
PCI rankings

1. Lao Cai Province

2. Bac Ninh Province

3. Long An Province

4. Dong Thap Province

5. Da Nang City

6. Ba Ria - Vung Tau Province

7. Ha Tinh Province

8. Binh Phuoc Province

9. Dong Nai Province

10. Binh Duong Province

The annual report, released by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry, ranks 63 provinces and centrally-governed cities nationwide on a 100-point scale based on results of a survey distributed to 6,922 companies of all kinds.

According to the report, Da Nang fell in the rankings due to poor performances in the categories of labor training and assistance services for businesses.

Binh Duong Province, ranked the 5th in the 2010 PCI, fell to 10th place in 2011.

Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City both improved in the rankings, moving up to 36th and 20th place respectively, up from the 43rd and 23rd spots in 2010.

According to the report, surveyed companies are much less optimistic about their business prospects for the coming years.

Before Vietnam joined the World Trade Organization in 2007, 76 percent of surveyed companies said they planned to expand, but only 47.4 percent of them made the statement in 2011, the report says.

The main reasons are rising costs and low access to credit resources, according to the report.

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