With untapped advantages, the midland and northern-mountainous region awaits projects with suitable investment models to accelerate its socio-economic development.

Deputy Prime Minister Truong Vinh Trong delivered this statement during an investment promotion forum on agriculture and rural development in Lao Cai province on July 29. The event witnessed the participation of 150 foreign and domestic enterprises.

Over past years, the region's authorities have made increasing efforts to speed up administrative procedures reforms to attract more investment capital, Trong said.

However, the region's investment attraction, especially foreign direct investment (FDI) has yet to match its potentials, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development's Planning Department

As of last year, the area attracted 420 foreign-invested projects worth 6.24 billion USD, making up only 3.2 percent of the total FDI registered in the country during the period.

Meanwhile, it also drew a total domestic investment capital of 203 trillion VND (9.85 billion USD) into 13,648 projects. But the investment accounted for only 2.6 percent of the country's total domestic investment capital.

Most of these projects were small-scale with modest investment capital, the department said, adding that few of them went into the agriculture sector.

Investors at the forum agreed that it is risky to make investments in the agriculture sector due to its distance from a big economic centre, inadequate infrastructure, lack of skilled labour and insufficient investment incentives.

Though there is a great potential to develop agriculture and forestry projects in the area, a large amount of investment capital remain the biggest challenge for investors, as they found it difficult to access credit sources, said Hoang Tung Limited Company director Bui Dac Quang.

Inadequate infrastructure and lack of good transport might result in an increase in production costs and lower businesses' competitiveness, Quang said./.