The prime minister was optimistic that infrastructure development will be the key to unlocking socio-economic development for Lang Son.

At the Lang Son Investment Promotion Conference 2019 themed "Lang Son – Destination of Success for Investors" on September 30, 2019, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc confirmed that the province has been developing at a rapid pace and in a comprehensive manner and that the state's budgetary revenue has always exceeded the plan, while people's lives have been improved.

The PM said that economic development has been integrated with social and environmental development. Recently, infrastructural development, especially the Bac Giang-Lang Son Expressway opening several days ago, has been emerging as the foundation for a breakthrough in the province's development in the time coming.

The PM confirmed that it is not easy to build a 64km expressway, and Bac Giang-Lang Son has cut travel time from the capital to the province by a full hour, which is one of the most important conditions to mobilise investment. At the same time, the provincial investment climate has been improving significantly.

Lang Son has been carrying out numerous measures to improve the investment climate and provincial competitiveness to lure investment and develop the economy, especially the private sector.

Pham Ngoc Thuong, Chairman of Lang Son People's Committee, said that the achievements of the province still fall short of the potential and advantages of the province and the expectations of the government. "There is empty room, a promising land for investors to explore," he said.

"Lang Son leaders commit to fully satisfy all their responsibilities towards investors in Lang Son. The province always supports and facilitates investors and businesses to reach success," Thuong added.

Representatives of foreign agencies and organisations expressed great interest in Lang Son's specialities.

In the opinion of Eric Sidgwick, country director for Vietnam at the Asian Development Bank, most of the economic gains have been accrued in urban areas, while rural areas, including provinces in the northeast, are still lagging behind.

"The conference is, therefore a very important step to make sure that the region continues to develop and thrive. We see great potential in Lang Son, especially in cross-border trade and investment, agriculture, and tourism," he said. "ADB pledges to support Lang Son to improve cross-border infrastructure and to maximise its geographical advantages in the Economic Corridor. We look forward to a strong and continuous partnership to help realise new opportunities for a better future for Lang Son."

Meanwhile, Nguyen Quang Huy, deputy director general of Apec Group, said that Lang Son has all the conditions needed to become the centre of FDI and a flourishing private sector, highlighting the province's 12 international border gates as well as the diverse culture and cuisine, and scenic spots.

"We hope that Lang Son has enough land to develop industrial zones and lure in multi-national corporations. In the time coming, Apec Group pledges to invest here for the long term," said Huy.

In order to rapidly develop and breakthrough, the province needs high-quality human resources. Apec Group has discussed with the provincial leaders the development of a campus in Lang Son to train skilled employees to meet the demand for human resources. "Apec Group will continue developing big projects here. The province should further innovate, especially improve its Provincial Competitiveness Index (PCI) in the time coming," added Huy.

As a developer of the Bac Giang-Lang Son Expressway, chairman of Deoca Group, Ho Minh Hoang, said that the 64km expressway is the outcome of the collaboration of the state, the province, and the developers, to create a miracle in Vietnam's transportation industry.

The expressway connecting Hanoi to Bac Giang, Lang Son, and Cao Bang is the foundation to open trade opportunities between Vietnam and ASEAN countries, as well as breakthroughs in socio-economic development.

Lang Son project has welcomed $4.6 billion in investment pledged by domestic and international investors.

Also at the conference, Lang Son's leaders announced the list of 37 projects calling for investment in 2019-2025, including eight industrial infrastructural projects, nine urban and transportation projects, nine trading-services-tourism-sports projects, nine agriculture-forestry-rural-development projects, and another project.

Furthermore, over 100 projects by 80 businesses valued at around VND105 trillion ($4.57 billion) have received their investment certificates.

Some of the largest projects and investors in Lang Son, which received a memorandum of understanding (MoU) or investment certificates include:

- FLC Group with a VND400 billion ($17.4 million) hi-tech farm project and some infrastructure, tourism, and resort projects worth VND6.564 trillion ($285.4 million);

- Sun Group with a VND3.5 trillion ($152.17 million) eco-tourism project in Mau Son district and some infrastructure, tourism, and resort projects worth VND12 trillion ($521.74 million);

- Hoang Anh Gia Lai Group with VND1 trillion ($43.48 million) of infrastructure and logistics projects;

- TNG Holdings Vietnam with infrastructure and urban projects valued at VND7.829 trillion ($340.4 million);

- Infrastructure Investment and Transportation Construction JSC (Intracom) with the VND2.346 trillion ($102 million) Lang Son anise processing plant and the VND1.055 trillion ($45.87 million) Ban Nang Lake resort and tourism project;

- TMS Group with a resort, entertainment, and sports centre in Chi Lang district invested VND13.858 trillion ($602.52 million) and infrastructure, tourism, and resort projects worth VND5.5 trillion ($2390.13 million);

- Asia-Pacific Investment JSC (APEC) with an apartment and commerce centre building valued at VND778.3 billion ($33.84 million), inter-level international school worth VND1.5 trillion ($65.22 million), and an eco-urban area in Lang Son city valued at VND3.126 trillion ($135.9 million);

- Son Ha International JSC with VND5.808 trillion ($252.52 million) going into a dry port and a clean water supply project;

- DABACO Group with a VND550 billion ($23.9 million) high-quality husbandry project;

- IDJ Group with the VND1.582 trillion ($68.78 million) Diamond Park urban area and shophouse;

- Military Petrochemical JSC (MIPEC) to invest VND1.034 trillion ($44.96 million) into the processing zone I project in Dong Dang-Lang Son border-gate economic zone;

- KoSy Group's VND1.399 trillion ($60.83 million) new urban area in Lang Son city;

- Hoang Duong Investment & Construction JSC to develop a five-star Marriot hotel and commerce centre with the total investment of VND2.297 trillion ($99.87 million);

- The joint venture of NNP Investment JSC and CDC Hanoi JSC to develop an affordable housing project valued at VND671.4 billion ($29.2 million);

- 3D Vietnam JSC to develop transportation and logistics projects from VND1.483 trillion ($64.48 million);

- The joint venture of Vinaconex Power & Construction JSC and Hanoi Real Estate Investment (HANDICO) to develop power projects from VND4 trillion ($173.9 million);

- The joint venture of Thinh Phat Lang Son JSC and Truong Thinh Phat JSC to develop the VND2.218 trillion ($96.43 million) Huu Lung new urban area project;

- Tan Viet Bac Lang Son Hydropower JSC to develop the VND214.3 billion ($9.32 million) Deo Khach hydropower project, and the VND1.56 trillion ($67.83 million) hydropower project in downstream Ky Cung River.

Apart from these, a lot of projects worth dozens of million dollars each, covering the sectors of power and infrastructure, have received MoU, in-principle approval, or investment certificates at the conference.

Thien Tu (summarize)