BizLIVE - This is the first time Quang Ninh took the highest position after years of being in the top five.
Quang Ninh Emerges as Vietnam's Most Business-friendly Province
A view of the center of Quang Ninh province. Photo: Ha Long Tourism
The northern province of Quang Ninh has been ranked the most business-friendly locality in Vietnam for the first time, according to an annual survey conducted by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Quang Ninh, which has been ranked in the top five since 2013, climbed to the top of the Provincial Competitive Index with 70.7 points on a 100-point scale.
In the past five years, the provincial authority has focused on administrative reforms through the operations of its Center for Public Administration and the Investment Promotion Agency. These institutions concentrate decision-making in a single entity and streamline administrative procedures to shorten waiting periods and reduce transaction costs for investors and businesses, the survey said.
Only 6% of surveyed enterprises had to wait for over a month to complete all required paper work to start operations in the province.
  The top PCI rankings for 2017.
Da Nang, which took the lead from 2013 to 2016, came second with 70.1 points, thanks to the government’s transparency and regulatory procedures. The runners-up were Dong Thap (68.8) and Long An (66.7).
Ho Chi Minh City (65.2) ranked eighth while Hanoi (64.71) ranked 13th.
The 2017 PCI Report is the 13th iteration and is based on responses from 12,000 enterprises, including more than 10,200 domestic private enterprises from 63 cities and provinces and nearly 1,800 foreign invested enterprises in 21 provinces in Vietnam.
“Positive improvements have been the dominant trend in Vietnam’s business environment for the past year,” said Chairman of the VCCI Vu Tien Loc.
The 2017 PCI survey revealed that optimism among private businesses and foreign investors regarding their economic prospects is growing. Fifty two percent of surveyed domestic firms said they planned to expand their operations in the next two years, the highest level since 2011, while only 8% planned to scale down or close their business.  
The share of foreign-invested enterprises (FIEs) that plan to expand their businesses in Vietnam rose to 60%, a level of ambition unseen since the apex of 2010, thanks to significant improvements in the regulatory burden in entry procedures.
However, the business community expects to see continued reforms in the business environment, particularly in the fields of tax, customs, specialized inspections, social insurance, and firefighting and prevention, the VCCI said.
The PCI report has been produced annually since 2005 to assess the ease of doing business, economic governance and administrative reform efforts by provincial and city governments in Vietnam to promote the development of the private sector.
The PCI is comprised of sub-indices such as entry costs, land access and security of tenure, transparency, time costs, informal charges, proactivity of the provincial leadership, policy bias, business support services, labor training policy, and law and order.