General Secretary of the National Committee on Economic Co-operation Nguyen Cam Tu spoke to Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper about the country's 2013 report on the Provincial Economy Integration Index.

* How did the PEII report begin? The main goal of the PEII report is not the rankings of provinces and cities, why is that?

Vietnam began preparing its final assessment 30 years after it opened its markets to the world, and the Government, ministries and provinces are in need of evaluations of economy integration competency. The first PEII report was released in 2011, evaluating 50 provinces and cities. This year, the National Committee on Economic Co-operation received the report from 63 provinces and cities. The report will help provide suggestions and recommendations for building economic and social plans in the pursuit of integration for each province or city.

The main goal of PEII is to identify the ability for economic integration of each province or city. The report includes surveys of the opinions of local residents and enterprises. It also addresses the impact of integration on the social welfare of people, and businesses' abilities to develop enterprises. The suitability between provincial strategic visions and their current integration is reflected, as well, thus recommendations can be made and adjusted.

From the scientific analysis and figures, the report hopes to help provinces and cities select suitable elements for their own development, and not compete with other provinces on rankings.

* Is it possible that major cities with good infrastructures, such as Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, will be ranked high on the list, while remote and mountainous provinces will be in lower positions?

In the eight pillars used for PEII classification, each pillar has its own criteria. In general, there are many criteria for the assessment, including provincial import and export indexes, provincial trade and commercial attractiveness, foreign investment status quos, the effectiveness of existing investment projects, and tourism revenues. Regarding infrastructure, the PEII report not only assesses road and waterway systems, but also the impact of traffic quality on people's living standards. That's why it is possible that many major cities with improved infrastructure conditions might still not have high rankings if traffic problems are prevalent.

In order to move attention away from aiming at rankings, the report points out the strength of each of the provinces and cities. For example, southern An Giang and Kien Giang provinces rank 4 and 5 on trade and commerce, respectively, which is higher than northern Hai Phong city, despite the fact that Hai Phong city has an international seaport. This is because An Giang and Kien Giang provinces have focused on raising the quality of their agricultural products, which is their strength. Criteria on direct foreign investments and revenue from tourism are only some of the elements used for assessments. Thus, provinces without the advantages of having these elements can still have high integration indexes if they have real integration efforts.

* Is there any difference between PEII and the Provincial Competitiveness Index (PCI)?

PCI mainly takes into account private businesses and assesses provincial abilities on private business management and development. PEII bases reports from provinces and cities on figures provided by Government agencies, such as the General Statistics Office of Vietnam and the General Department of Vietnam Customs. Then we evaluate the relation between provincial conditions and the resources for development, labour transitions, tourism attractions, trade and commerce and services.-VNA