A report by the National Committee for International Economic Co-operation has rated Ho Chi Minh City as being the nation's most internationally competitive city.
The city leads Vietnam's 63 cities and provinces in the committee's second Provincial Economic Integration Index (PEI Index) measuring each locality's capacity to integrate with the global economy based on eight criteria.
The criteria assesses each city and province's infrastructure, culture, local natural features, human resources, trade, investment and tourism sectors.
The first report was launched in 2010 with Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi and southern Ba Ria-Vung Tau province leading the 50 surveyed localities.
According to the report, Ho Chi Minh City sealed first place this year on the back of strong trade, investment and public institutions, and Hanoi retained the biggest advantage in workforce quality and culture which helped improve the political capital's competitiveness.
Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City were lauded for their roadway systems but failed to address concerns with traffic congestion; which placed upward pressure of petrol usage and car emissions.
In terms of trade, Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi and Ba Ria-Vung Tau were shown to be the major hubs for Vietnamese goods, while the three localities and southern Binh Duong province were also shown to be most the attractive to investors in the last five years.
The total number of foreign direct investment (FDI) projects approved in the four localities totalled 4,000 projects, accounting for 60 percent of the country's FDI projects.
The Mekong Delta provinces of An Giang and Kien Giang saw improved trade figures after moderating prices of key products, including rice and aquaculture produce.
Northern Cao Bang, Bac Can and Ha Giang provinces were praised for significant improvements in trade and investment this year, showing growth from 2010 results that put the three provinces at the bottom of the ranking.
However, some localities including Ca Mau, Ben Tre, Dien Bien and Soc Trang fell in their competitiveness.
Speaking at the report launch ceremony on November 27, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Nguyen Cam Tu said the report had helped qualify the efforts and impacts of locality efforts to tap into global trade and improve the welfare of citizens.
The results will be used to help the Government support localities looking to implement integration policies, he said.
Mai Thi Anh Tuyet, director of the Industry and Trade Department of southern An Giang province, said the report's PEI Index would make localities aware of their comparative advantages to improve the accuracy of policy efforts.
Raymond Mallon, senior technical advisor of the Beyond WTO Programme, said that although most economic integration agreements were being made at the top level, the implementation of agreements at the sub-national level was critical for development.
He said economic integration and policy changes could be sped up if provinces co-ordinated their efforts and that the assessment of each province was an important step to boosting regional and national integration with the global economy.
The report also polled around 2,300 citizens and 2,300 businesses, mostly including limited companies and joint stock companies.
The report's investigation was conducted in the fourth quarter of last year 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.