The Red River Delta region took the lead in attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) in the first eight months of this year, according to the Ministry of Planning and Investment's Foreign Investment Agency.

Over 4 billion USD in FDI was poured into the region, accounting for 42.6 percent of the total investment registered in the country. The southeastern region ranked second, receiving 3.77 billion USD or 39.4 percent of the period's total registered investment.

Meanwhile, the Mekong Delta region attracted only 126 million USD, just above the Central Highlands, which saw the lowest level of foreign investment among six regions in the country, the agency noted.

The region's unsatisfactory performance can be attributed to poor overall strategies to attract investment. This has resulted in unhealthy competition among the provinces and a lack of co-ordinated investment promotion, said Tran Huu Hiep from the South-western Region Steering Committee.

Insufficient infrastructure facilities and a shortage of skilled workers are also major challenges to attracting investment, Hiep said.

He called for closer cooperation among provinces to effectively exploit the region's advantages, especially in infrastructure and agriculture. He also urged provincial authorities to take steps to improve labour resources.

The committee plans to join hands with the Cuu Long Delta Rice Research Institute and 13 provinces and cities in the region to develop a co-operative programme on farm produce, seafood production and human resource training.

Furthermore, the 2011 Mekong Delta Economic Cooperation Forum (MDEC) will be held next month in Ca Mau City to work out effective measures to boost regional economic connectivity, Hiep said.

Participants plan to discuss ways to develop a regional linkage mechanism, a trade-tourism-investment promotion plan towards 2015 and a co-operative strategy between the region and other areas inside the country as well as foreign establishments./.