12:31:51 AM | 11/2/2015
Son La is a mountainous border province in the northwest of Vietnam, about 320 km from Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam. Sharing a 250-km borderline with Laos, the province has a natural area of 14,174 square kilometres, accounting for 37.88 percent of the northwest area and 4.28 percent of the country’s area - the third largest province in Vietnam. It is home to 12 ethnic groups and 1.16 million residents (in 2014). In recent years, the province has made efforts to accelerate social and economic development, but its peculiar difficulties have restricted its endeavours. To boost economic development, Son La is always open and ready to welcome and facilitate domestic and foreign businesses and investors to learn and implement projects to tap local potential and advantages.
Potential and advantages
Son La has a vast natural area and rich natural resources, which remain largely untapped. The province has a lot of favourable advantages for the development of agriculture, forestry, industry and services.
With nearly 927,000 ha of fertile agricultural land, Son La is able to develop large farming regions. Moreover, many sub-climate zones help diversify agricultural production and create characteristic local products. Especially, Moc Chau and Na San plateaus are suitable for industrial crops such as tea, sugarcane, coffee and rubber; fruit trees like mango, longan, pineapple and banana; vegetables; flowers; and medicinal herbs. Son La has many pastures for raising grazing livestock like buffalo, cow and goat (now has 2,505 ha, capable of being expanded to 5,000 ha). The province can plan its forest area to 934,000 ha, accounting for 66 percent of the natural area. In addition, Son La has 2,443 ha of ponds, over 500 irrigation reservoirs and dams, 5,000 ha of rice and fish fields, and 35 streams. Especially, Hoa Binh hydropower reservoir and Son La hydropower reservoir cover 432 square kilometres, good for farming tortoise, rainbow trout, sturgeon and other fishes.
Large-scale agricultural production also creates momentum for the development of processing industries. Son La is a big grower of short-day crops like maize (670,000 tonnes a year) and cassava (360,000 tonnes a year). Vast growing areas of coffee, rubber, tea, banana, plum and sugarcane are now in need of processing factories. The province has more than 150 mineral ores found to contain precious and rare minerals such as nickel, copper, magnesium, coal, gold and mercury. Son La also has large reserves of high-quality limestone, kaolin and clay for the production of building materials like cement, sand, construction stone and adobe bricks.
Son La province has rich potential for tourism development because it serves as a transit point on Hanoi-Hoa Binh with Dien Bien and and Lai Chau provinces along National Road 6, connects with Thanh Hoa province (along National Road 15) and Phu Tho province (Song Da River and National Road 43). It also has two border gates, Long Sap and Chien Khuong, with northern Laos provinces. Moc Chau Plateau, the largest of its kind in Vietnam, at an altitude of 1,050 metres and with a temperate, fresh climate, is increasingly attractive to tourists because it has many attractions and monuments like Son Moc Huong Cave, Go West Monument and Dai Yem Waterfall, as well as characteristic cultures of ethnic minorities like Mountain Ebony Festival, Nao Song Festival and Farming Festival. National Road 6 and provincial roads offer easy access to attractions like Chi Day Cave (Yen Chau district), Co Noi Fork (Mai Son district), Son La Prison and Que Lam Monument (Son La City). In recent years, tourist arrivals to Son La have increased sharply. Particularly, in the first 10 months of 2014, the province welcomed 1.5 million tourists, including 35,000 foreigners, and fetched revenue of VND500 billion. Specially, in late 2014, the Prime Minister approved the Plan for Moc Chau National Tourism Zone to 2020, with a vision to 2030. This is the opportunity to Moc Chau and Son La to develop tourism into a key driver for economic development.
In spite of slowing economic development in the country in recent years, Son La province still managed to maintain high, stable growth, hovering above 10 percent in three years from 2012 to 2014. Services sector contributed 40.6 percent to GDP in 2012 and 42.3 percent in 2014. Economic development also creates momentum for improving cultural and social life and building infrastructure. With the support of central government plus local efforts and resources, the infrastructure system is increasingly improved to meet essential needs of social life as well as business investment. The transport system, specially National Road 6, has been upgraded. Traffic routes ensure smooth and uninterrupted connections among 12 districts and cities in the province. Apart from the 2,400-MW Son La hydropower plant, the province has 48 small and medium hydroelectric plants, with individual capacity ranging from 3 MW to 30 MW, to meet local demand and supply the national power grid. The national grid has reached all 12 districts and cities and all 204 communes having access to electricity. In addition, postal, telecom, internet and education networks have been increasingly invested for development to satisfy local social and economic development requirements.
Ready for investment cooperation and support
Before the regional and international integration trends, Son La province hopes to welcome many domestic and foreign investors to study and carry out projects to tap local resources and promote local potential and advantages to sustain rapid economic development.
In order to attract cattle husbandry development projects, the Provincial People's Council issued Resolution 258/2008/NQ-HDND dated December 12, 2008 on cattle development policy in the province of Son La from 2009 to 2015, and Resolution 362/2011/NQ-HDND dated March 18, 2014 on amendments and supplements to Resolution 258/2008/NQ-HDND. Besides, the province had policies to encourage enterprises and cooperatives to invest in agricultural and rural development in the 2015-2020 period (Resolution 88/2014/NQ-HDND dated September 17, 2014 by the Provincial People's Council). Particularly, to implement Decision 2050/QD-TTg approving the overall planning for Moc Chau National Tourism Zone until 2020, with a vision to 2030, Son La province directed the Department of Planning and Investment to coordinate with Moc Chau and Van Ho districts and other agencies to devise mechanisms and policies on investment attraction for the Moc Chau National Tourism Zone and submit them to the Government for approval and promulgation in 2015.
While perfecting its investment incentive mechanisms, Son La actively supports investors to carry out their projects. Provincial authorities hold regular talks with businesses to learn about their problems, to develop the best solutions.
To draw more domestic and international investors, Son La province has actively introduced its potential, advantages and policies to investors.
Cam Ngoc Minh
Deputy Secretary of Provincial Party Committee, Chairman of Provincial People's Committee of Son La