Northwestern Vietnam has made stable economic progress over the past few years, helping improve local people’s living conditions and ensure security and defence in this mountainous region, an official has said.

Vietnam’s northwestern region groups the provinces of Ha Giang, Lao Cai, Yen Bai, Lai Chau, Dien Bien, Son La, Hoa Binh, Cao Bang, Bac Kan, Lang Son, Phu Tho, and Tuyen Quang and 21 western districts of the central provinces of Thanh Hoa and Nghe An. Up to 83 percent of the region’s population live in rural and mountainous areas.

Truong Xuan Cu, deputy head in charge of the Steering Committee for Northwestern Region, said the provinces in recent years have focused on agro-forestry and aquaculture, with large-scale areas of cash crops formed in the region.

About 74,000ha of land in the region was zoned for tea cultivation while another 180,000ha and 15,000ha were under fruit and coffee trees, respectively. The localities are also working to expand the rubber planting area to more than 62,000ha.

At the same time, the herds of buffalos and cows have been growing at over 3 percent annually, generating stable incomes for local farmers, he said, adding that Lao Cai, Lai Chau and Yen Bai have succeeded in farming salmons and sturgeons.

Regarding industrial development, the region has prioritized industries that can make use of its advantages and potential, Cu noted, citing as examples several key industrial projects such as the hydro-power plants of Son La and Lai Chau, the Lao Cai steel factory, and the Cam Duong apatite sifting factory, which have contributed greatly to local socio-economic development.

The official also highlighted the emerging industries such as mining and processing.

The region’s trade and service sector region has seen good growth, particularly in cross-border economic exchanges. The tourism sector is also booming, making full use of the region’s spectacular natural landscape and rich cultural and historic heritage.
The region expects to see further development in the coming time with a series of infrastructure projects already completed or underway.

The Hanoi-Lao Cai highway was open for traffic in last September, and nearly 3,700km of national ways and other roads traversing the region have been upgraded. As a result, 95 percent of regional communes are now accessible by automobiles, while the national electricity grid has reached 97 percent of communes.

The Steering Committee for the Northwestern Region has played a key role in leading the region’s development through recommending priority issues and urgent problems as well as possible solutions to the government.

The committee has defined three priorities as prerequisites for the region’s growth, which are infrastructure, human resources and poverty reduction. In this direction, in 2012 the committee coordinated with the Ministry of Transport to develop a plan on transport infrastructure for the northern midland and mountainous region to 2015 with a vision to 2020. In 2013, the committee hosted two major conferences, one to promote investment and support for the northwestern region and another on improving business and investment environment to attract ODA and non-governmental organisations to the region.

This year the committee has made tourism promotion as its key task and has organized an event for this purpose, attracting the participation of 35 foreign diplomatic delegations.-VNA