HCM City ranked first, followed by Hanoi and Ba Ria-Vung Tau province among 50 localities surveyed which summarised their capacity for international economic integration in 2010.

The figure was revealed in a report by the National Committee for International Economic Cooperation (NCIEC) last week.

The report, for the first time measures the capacity for international economic integration of localities in Vietnam , based on eight criteria including institutions, infrastructure, culture, local natural features, human resources, trade and investment and tourism.

HCM City ranked top in terms of trade and investment. Between 2005 and 2009, the city's total retail and consumer sales reached 2,444 trillion VND (over 1.1 triillion USD), accounting for more than 42 percent of the total of 50 localities nationwide.

The city's total export turnover reached more than 182 billion USD in the period, making up over 35.6 percent of the total 50 provinces and cities. The city had more than 29,000 import-export companies, compared to nearly 16,000 in Hanoi , that ranked second.

The report said that HCM City was also the most attractive city for investment in the country in 2010. Last year the city had 3,500 projects that were still operational with registered capital making up 15.82 percent of the country's total registered capital.

Nguyen Thanh Trung, a project representative said that HCM City , Hanoi and Ba Ria-Vung Tau were the most attractive places for investors in Vietnam .

He added that Ba Ria-Vung Tau was expected to become a major regional and international port.

Cao Bang, Ha Giang and Bac Kan provinces stood at the bottom of the list due to their limited trade development potential, ability or lack of development focus on trade and investment.

Trung said that provinces that had not attracted investment were struggling due to geographical location or poor infrastructure systems and transportation.

Most of the provinces, such as Bac Kan , Dien Bien, and Lai Chau in the north or Ca Mau, Bac Lieu, and Ben Tre in the south, are limited in their development potential.

In terms of tourism, Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Khanh Hoa and Thua Thien Hue were leading provinces due to their beautiful beaches and hospitality services.

Cao Bang, Kon Tum, and Lai Chau ranked low due to difficult terrain and poor access to airports or other provinces.

"The report aims to create an analytical tool for policy makers and localities to determine a locality's international economic integration status in the broader context of the nation's increasingly comprehensive economic integration," said Deputy Minister of Trade and General Secretary of the NCIEC Nguyen Cam Tu.

Tu also added that the report did not aim to rate localities in a negative way, but instead provided them with statistics and analysis in an effort to help them make more consistent decisions in socio-economic development by using province-specific integration criteria.

The report focused on the impact of economic integration on social welfare, hunger eradication and poverty reduction and development of enterprises. It also assessed the compatibility between local visions and the current integration capacity of each province or city in order for them to make the necessary adjustments needed to attract more sources for integration and sustainable development.

The report was conducted last June as part of a research project funded by the Australian Agency for International Development and the UK Department for International Development through the Beyond WTO Programme./.