Administrative reform, improved infrastructure and training for quality human resources would help the Mekong Delta area attract more investment, experts said at a conference held in HCM City on May 25.

The Mekong Delta is known as the country's key rice-growing and aquatic production and export area. The region annually contributes about 20 percent to the national gross domestic product ( GDP ).

However, despite its potential and numerous incentives offered by localities, investment in the region remains very low compared to other region due to infrastructure limitations, a shortage of skilled workers and poor development plans, according to Nguyen Huu Lam, director of the HCM City University of Economics' Centre for Excellence in Management Development.

Lam said provinces and cities in the area often offer many similar investment projects, some of which are not suitable for their areas. He said every locality should identify its strengths and advantages and seek practical projects to avoid scattered investment.

According to Pham Thanh Khon, vice-director of Department of Planning and Investment of Vinh Long province, lack of a support industry and business-development services has also driven away investors.

Ha Xuan Anh, chairman of Son Viet Garment Joint Stock Company, said poor infrastructure has caused difficulties for enterprises in distributing their products.

Another significant problem is the lack of qualified staff.

Vo Thanh Thong, deputy chairman of the Can Tho City People's Committee, said training has not met the needs of businesses because there are few linkages between training schools and companies.

Vocational training schools as well as universities should improve their training quality to improve human-resource quality, Lam said, adding that cities and provinces should also adjust their policies to attract talented people.

Lam called for tighter linkages among provinces to exploit the region's advantages, particularly in infrastructure and agriculture.

Many conference participants suggested that the region should focus on investment in projects using high-technology and bio-technology in order to raise the quality and export value of local farm produce.

During the conference, Can Tho City called for domestic and foreign investment in industry-construction, agriculture, trade-services and tourism sectors.

From 1988 to 2011, the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta attracted 565 foreign-invested projects with total investment of 9.5 billion USD, or less than 5 per cent of the total FDI in the country.-VNA