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Factory processing fruit for export launched in Ben Tre


Factory processing fruit for export launched in Ben Tre, Gem, gold firms look to India, Vietcombank hopes to buy HCM City's urban bonds, Vietnam plans sugarcane, rubber intercrops for higher output




The Thuan Phong Agricultural Product Processing Co., Ltd inaugurated parts of a factory processing frozen fruit and vegetable for export in Chau Thanh district, the Mekong Delta province of Ben Tre on August 22.

Facilities put into operation include a frozen warehouse covering an area of 1.2 ha, and a 3.5 ha processing workshop with a capacity of 6,000-10,000 tones of products per month.

The second phase of the project will comprise two workshops, a plant for processing fruit and another for coconut milk production for export.

On the occasion, Thuan Phong company donated 300 million VND (13,500 USD) to the scholarship fund of Chau Thanh district.

Last year, a factory manufacturing canned coconut milk was launched in Ben Tre by the Ben Tre Import Export Joint Stock Company, becoming the largest of this kind in Vietnam.

Ben Tre is the country’s largest coconut cultivation area, with 63,000 hectares of trees generating 500 million coconuts each year.

Hanoi’s CPI falls slightly in August

Hanoi’s consumer price index (CPI) in August dropped slightly from the previous month, the city’s Statistics Office reported on August 23. 

A downturn was seen in three groups of goods, while a slight rise was recorded in the remaining eight groups, reported the office, adding that the highest price rise was marked in education as the new school year is approaching. 

Meanwhile, transportation price fell sharpest as fuel prices was cut down two times in the month, while prices of food and catering services was also down sharply due to a plunge in price of food and foodstuff, especially rice in Hanoi through the month when supply was abundant. 

Decrease was spotted in prices of housing, power, water, fuel, and construction materials. 

In August, the gold price climbed 1.6 percent month on month and 19.8 percent compared to December last year, while the US dollar price fell slightly over the previous month and 0.7 percent over December 2015. 

Meanwhile, total domestic goods sales and services revenue was estimated at 176.28 trillion VND, a rise of 1.5 percent month on month and 9.9 percent year on year, while total retail value was 43.16 trillion VND, up 1.5 percent over the previous month and 7 percent compared to the same period last year. 

So far this year, total goods sales and services was nearly 1.38 trillion VND, a rise of 9.5 percent year on year, with total retail sales reaching 325.42 trillion VND, up 8.4 percent. Of the total, the State sector contributed 395.87 billion VND, an increase of 6.5 percent over the same period last year, while the non-State sector added 919.29 trillion VND, a rise of 10.8 percent, and the foreign-invested sector, 65.65 trillion VND, up 9.8 percent. 

In August, Hanoi earned 893 million USD from exports, increasing 0.3 percent month on month, but dropping 1.8 percent compared to the same time last year. 

Rise was seen in a number of exported goods, including machinery and spare parts, 16 percent, computers and peripheral devices, 2.9 percent, and footwear and leather products, 7.5 percent. 

In the first eight months of this year, the capital’s total export value was worth over 7 billion USD, a drop of 1.4 percent.

Hanoi imported over 2.1 billion USD worth of commodities in August, up 7 percent month on month but down 8.4 percent year on year. 

In the January-August period, Hanoi imported 15.7 billion USD worth of goods, a decrease of 5.2 percent year on year. The sharp fall was seen in the import of petrol, with 27.5 percent, followed by fertilizer, 19.1 percent, and chemicals, 21.6 percent.

FTA to open new cooperation prospects for Vietnam, EU: diplomat

The free trade agreement between Vietnam and the Europe Union (EVFTA), once ratified, will open up more cooperation opportunities for both sides as their economies supplement each other, stated Vietnamese Ambassador to Belgium and Luxembourg Vuong Thua Phong. 

In an interview with the Vietnam News Agency on the sidelines of the 29th Diplomatic Conference in Hanoi from August 22-26, Phong said that the EU is a big market with advantages of high technology and capital. 

Meanwhile, with the population of 90 million, Vietnam is a newly-emerging market with dynamic growth and an abundant workforce, which is attracting much attention from other countries. 

Vietnam is located in Asia-Pacific – a region with an important geographical and geo-economic position, where the EU is focusing on seeking cooperative partners, the diplomat stated. 

The stability of the country is also a factor appreciated by the EU, he added. 

Once it becomes effective, the agreement will bring huge economic benefits for Vietnam, he affirmed. 

However, the ratification process is quite complicated for both sides, as this is a new-generation agreement with numerous new binding issues for Vietnam, such as labour, environmental protection and intellectual property. 

The EVFTA was officially signed on December 2, 2015, after over three years of negotiation. 

The EU is one of the top trade partners of Vietnam, with two-way trade increasing from 17.75 billion USD in 2010 to 41.4 billion USD in 2015.

Gem, gold firms look to India

Indian and Vietnamese gem and jewellery companies, which met yesterday at an event organised by the Indian consulate in HCM City, agreed there is much potential for bilateral co-operation.

They discussed the possibility of greater collaboration since India is one of the world’s largest manufacturers and exporters of jewellery and polished diamonds.

The industry generated revenues of over US$40 billion from exports for India last year. The country exports around 95 per cent of the world’s diamonds.

But Vietnamese industry insiders said the value of gold, gems and jewellery imported directly from India is not significant, with most of the imports being routed through middlemen in Hong Kong.

Cao Thị Ngọc Dung, chairwoman of Phú Nhuận Jewelry Joint Stock Company (PNJ), said most of her company’s diamonds are imported from India through a Hong Kong company.

She complained about the high import tariffs, saying it is as much as 50 percent including value added tax.

She urged Indian enterprises to sell gems, technologies and software for gem and jewellery trading management to Việt Nam.

Nguyễn Văn Dưng, chairman of the Sài Gòn Jewellery Association, also blamed the high import tariffs for hindering co-operation between Vietnamese and Indian companies.

HCM City has 3,000 manufacturers and traders of gold and jewellery, who produce and sell nearly 40 tonnes of finished gold products a year.

Of them, 1,600 are members of the association.

BRG to take over Hue ITC

BRG Group will become the owner of Century Riverside Hotel Hue, one of the biggest hotels in Huế City, through holding of a 74-per-cent stake in Hue Investment and Tourism Ltd Co after the company’s equitisation.

Hue ITC is scheduled to make its initial public offering on September 16 on the Hà Nội Stock Exchange. It will sell 2.9 million shares, equivalent to 25 per cent of the company’s charter capital, at a starting price of VNĐ12,700 (US$0.60) per share.

Foreign investors are allowed to buy all the shares up for sale.

About 74 per cent of shares will be offered to its strategic investor, BRG Group, a Hà Nội-based private company in finance, banking and golf resorts. It operates some famous golf resorts including Kings’ Island, BRG Ruby Tree and Legend Hill.

The company’s upcoming IPO is forecast to attract few investors due to its poor business results. Holding one of the biggest hotels in Huế Imperial City, Hue ITC is still a loss maker with cumulative losses reaching almost VNĐ35 billion at the end of last year.

The modest proportion of shares offered to the public also decreases appeal to investors who expect to have controlling stakes in the company.

According to analysts, sales of State holdings in State-owned enterprises could only be attractive if share offering ratios are high enough to help investors control and operate the company.

In December 2015, the State Capital Investment Corporation successfully sold its entire 52.4-per-cent stake in Kim Liên Tourism Joint Stock Company, the owner of Kim Liên Hotel, for more than VNĐ1 trillion, a nine-fold increase over the starting price of VNĐ30,600 per share.

Century Riverside Hotel Hue, situated on a vast area of 20,000 square meters, has a prime location in Huế City, next to Trường Tiền Bridge and the bank of romantic Hương River.

BRG Group has been selected as Hue ITC’s strategic investor as it was the only one filing to participate in the hotel company’s equitisation.

BRG is expected to spend at least VNĐ75 billion to acquire the shares as the selling price will not be lower than the highest successful bidding prices at the IPO.

Vietcombank hopes to buy HCM City’s urban bonds

Vietcombank expects to invest about VND2 trillion (US$89.5 million) to VND3 trillion in urban bonds issued by HCM City, the bank’s chairman, Nghiem Xuan Thanh, said on August 22.

Thanh said at a meeting with Secretary of the HCM City Party Committee Dinh La Thang that Vietcombank also hoped to join the financial services for local enterprises such as payment and card.

He proposed to the local authorities that they support Vietcombank to push up its process on solving assets and bad debts, making capital flows run smoothly to serve the city’s economic development.

With orientation of the government and the State Bank of Viet Nam, Thanh said Vietcombank had defined its vision and strategic target by 2020 to become the number 1 bank in Viet Nam and one of 300 largest banking and finance institutions in the world which would be managed by international rules.

Speaking at the meeting, Party Committee Secretary Thang said Vietcombank had become a big brand name, making an important contribution to the country’s socio-economic development, especially HCM City.

With the target of making HCM City one of the leading cities in the region, Thang said the city had been implementing an action strategy with seven breakthrough programmes, including investment in infrastructure and restructuring of enterprises.

The leader said Vietcombank would continue to prove that it was leading bank in the southern region, as well as contributing to the city’s development.

He expected that Vietcombank would study policies on expanding investment in order to increase revenue on banking services, regularly contributing to improving the city’s growth quality.

As for proposals from Vietcombank, Thang assigned the municipal People’s Committee and relevant units to work with Vietcombank about issues such as their banking services, borrowing capital and issuing bonds for the city’s key works and supporting places for the bank’s operations.

Vietnam plans sugarcane, rubber intercrops for higher output

Vietnam’s agriculture officials are considering a new model to intercrop sugarcane with rubber trees in an attempt to halt an ongoing decline in sugar production.

The Department of Cultivation and the Department of Processing and Trade for Agro-Forestry-Fisheries Products and Salt Production under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development are developing the model aimed at providing more sugarcane for sugar mills. The low sugarcane supply has been attributed to climate change and shrinking cultivation.

Statistics of the Department of Processing and Trade for Agro-Forestry-Fisheries Products and Salt Production showed that in the 2015-2016 crop Vietnam had 284,367 hectares under sugarcane farming, down 6.7% year-on-year. Its sugarcane output was 18.3 million tons, down 8%, with an average yield of 64.4 tons per hectare.

Data also showed that sugar production reached nearly 1.24 million tons in the crop, a second consecutive annual decline. The department predicted similar output for the next crop.

Pham Hong Duong, chairman of the Sugar Committee of Thanh Thanh Cong Group (TTC), said that in the 2015-2016 crop, many sugarcane growing provinces were severely affected by drought and climate change. In the Mekong Delta, over 10,000 hectares was hit by saltwater intrusion, or about 20% of the region’s sugarcane area.

TTC said sugar prices should hover around VND10,500 per kilogram, or else sugar factories will run the risk of shutting down.

According to the Vietnam Sugar Association (VSSA), there are two ways to solve the problem of sugarcane shortage: increasing productivity and expanding cultivation.

However, the former solution requires time for selecting high-yield sugarcane varieties, automating farm work, and building irrigation systems.

The quicker solution is to expand the cultivation area. But as Vietnam has no available land for growing sugarcane, intercropping with rubber is an optimal method, the association said.

Nguyen Thi Huong, a farmer in Binh Phuoc Province, said her family has one hectare of cashew and four hectares of rubber. The rubber trees, which are almost three years old, are not ready for harvest. Meanwhile, rubber prices are now low.

Hong said her family is willing to intercrop sugarcane in the rubber area if factories are committed to providing technical support and buying all output.

According to the Vietnam Rubber Association (VRA), as of August last year, the total rubber planting area in Vietnam was 981,000 hectares.

Malaysia property firms woo Vietnam buyers

Malaysian real estate companies UMLand and Symphony Life Berhad on Sunday showcased a Kuala Lumpur luxury project to homebuyers in HCMC, betting on Vietnam’s middle and affluent class and the ease of movement between the two countries.

The Star Residences Two project is developed as part of the bigger Star Residences mall and residential area complex in the Malaysian capital. Only a three-minute walk from the iconic Petronas Twin Towers, it features 58 floors with 482 apartments measuring 68-120 square meters each.

Once finished, Star Residences is expected to serve as a cultural, fashion, art and food center of Kuala Lumpur apart from being a luxury living space.

So far 11 Vietnamese have registered to buy units at the property project.

Star Residences Two’s investors hope Vietnamese people will find their project attractive as it is situated at the heart of Kuala Lumpur. It costs US$5,754 to US$6,851 per square meter, which is almost the same as apartments in HCMC’s District 1, and even lower than luxury housing projects in downtown Hanoi.

In addition, the Malaysian ringgit is currently 30% lower than the five-year average, bringing more benefits to those investing in the real estate sector in Malaysia.

With 13 flights lasting less than two hours from HCMC to Malaysia every day, owning an apartment in Kuala Lumpur is convenient for Vietnamese people to shuttle, the investors said.

Another appealing factor is that the project is built near the headquarters of multinational groups and international economic organizations, as well as five-star hotels and luxury shopping centers, making it suitable for experts, economists and managers. 

On top of that, the first high-speed rail of Southeast Asia, which is expected to be ready in 2020, will allow passengers to travel between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore within only 90 minutes. This will lure more real estate investors from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur.

Malaysia’s government has recently formulated a policy called “Malaysia My Second Home – MM2H” to allow foreigners to buy houses in the country.

Under this scheme, foreigners can purchase houses in Malaysia and bring along their spouses, children and parents, and even their domestic helpers to the country.

The government will grant foreign homebuyers a ten-year visa which can be extended. Foreigners can also buy automobiles imported duty-free and enjoy other tax incentives.

Agribank pledges huge loans for VRG

The Vietnam Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Agribank) has clinched a comprehensive cooperation agreement with the Vietnam Rubber Group (VRG) to further strengthen their partnership including a loan package worth VND2-3 trillion (US$134.6 million) for the group.

The credit package with preferential interest rates will help VRG expand operations, plant rubber trees in Vietnam and neighboring Cambodia, and purchase and process rubber products for export.

Agribank also pledged to aid VRG in other banking and financial products and services such as deposits, capital management, payment in foreign currency, consumer loans, and salary payments via bank accounts.

The two sides will cooperate in investing in a number of areas where they are strong. This investment will be made based on mutual benefits and in line with their development strategies.

Agribank branches have closely supported VRG and its affiliates with payments, transactions, and capital disbursements for investment over the years. Agribank also provides banking and financial products and services for companies under VRG to invest in Cambodia.

As of end-May, total outstanding loans of VRG at Agribank had amounted to VND645 billion (US$28.9 million), accounting for 28% of total outstanding loans of enterprises in the rubber sector.

China sets tough requirements for Vietnam seafood exporters

Vietnamese seafood exporters must acquire a code and be put on a list of firms approved by China to sell products to the neighboring country, according to the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP).

Previously, VASEP said, seafood companies needed to be confirmed as exporters by local authorities, but now they are required to be pre-approved by China.

China also demands that seafood firms earn a health certificate from Vietnamese authorities for their products, VASEP said in a report sent to the Ministry of Industry of Trade last week. This requirement means Chinese importers have to reduce their purchases or refuse small seafood shipments via border trade with Vietnam.

The association urged the ministries of agriculture-rural development and industry-trade to help exporters by requesting China to clarify its regulations on the export code and expand the list of Vietnamese seafood products allowed in its market.

China is now the fourth biggest buyer of Vietnamese seafood after the U.S., the European Union (EU) and Japan.

In the first half this year, seafood exports to China jumped 43% year-on-year to over US$384 million, with shrimp contributing US$217 million, up 42%, and tra fish accounting for US$117 million, soaring 67%.

Vietnam spent over US$32 million importing seafood products from China during the period, an increase of 16% from a year ago.

Mekong infrastructure poor: Deputy PM

Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue has instructed ministries and local governments in the Mekong Delta to prioritise investment in transportation projects that would help enhance connectivity.

Hue, who chaired a conference in Can Tho yesterday on development of transport infrastructure and logistics in the delta, said the region’s significant achievements notwithstanding, in these areas it lags behind the rest of the country.

Poor connectivity between roads in production and consumption areas directly affect the region’s socio-economic development, he pointed out.

Investment in infrastructure remains low, he said. The dense river network, the delta’s big advantage, has not seen the investment required to develop water transport, he said.

However, infrastructure and logistics plans should dovetail with the socio-economic development strategies of local governments and the transport sector, he said.

Hue, who is also chairman of the Southwestern Region Steering Committee, suggested that after the conference local governments and ministries should inform the Government about plans for developing transport infrastructure and logistics so that budget allocations and investment plans can be made.

Deputy Minister of Finance Nguyen Huu Chi said while the country has 740km of expressway, the delta accounts for only 60km.

Construction of the HCM City – Can Tho Expressway has been delayed for eight years after ground was broken for it, he said.

He urged the government to speed up extension of the HCM City-Trung Luong Expressway to Can Tho so that the construction is finally finished.

With the project, the delta’s infrastructure would partly improve, Chi added. 

Nguyen Van The, Secretary of the Soc Trang Province Party Committee, concurred with Chi that the HCM City – Can Tho Expressway is vital for the delta.

Investing the VND28 trillion (US$1.2 billion) it requires should be the top priority, he said, adding the National Highway 1 passing through the delta also needs an upgrade.

The conference was organised by the Southwestern Region Steering Committee and Ministry of Transport.

The delta has roughly 4,718km of national highways, 2,030km of provincial roads, and 72,851km of district and country roads. It also has 13,000km of waterways, with 7,000km managed by authorities.

But the waterways have not proved very efficient. Marine traffic has not developed well despite the immense potential since many river mouths have not been dredged.

The delta has two international airports in Can Tho and Phu Quoc.

Rach Gia and Ca Mau airports have a combined capacity of five million passengers.

According to the Ministry of Transport, the delta has totally 10 build-operate-transfer projects that collect tolls.

In 2016-20, the government will invest VND91 trillion (US$4.1 billion) in transport infrastructure in the delta, with a third coming from its own resources and the rest from ODA loans.

Factory processing fruit for export launched in Ben Tre

The Thuan Phong Agricultural Product Processing Co., Ltd inaugurated parts of a factory processing frozen fruit and vegetable for export in Chau Thanh district, the Mekong Delta province of Ben Tre on August 22.

Facilities put into operation include a frozen warehouse covering an area of 1.2 ha, and a 3.5 ha processing workshop with a capacity of 6,000-10,000 tones of products per month.

The second phase of the project will comprise two workshops, a plant for processing fruit and another for coconut milk production for export.

On the occasion, Thuan Phong company donated 300 million VND (13,500 USD) to the scholarship fund of Chau Thanh district.

Last year, a factory manufacturing canned coconut milk was launched in Ben Tre by the Ben Tre Import Export Joint Stock Company, becoming the largest of this kind in Vietnam.

Ben Tre is the country’s largest coconut cultivation area, with 63,000 hectares of trees generating 500 million coconuts each year.

China’s Ningbo, VN firms look for ties

Dozens of Vietnamese and Chinese firms met at a seminar yesterday in Ha Noi to seek cooperation opportunities.

Hoang Quang Phong, Vice President of the Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), said that the seminar, jointly held by VCCI and China Chamber for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT)’s Ningbo’s Sub-Council, aimed to promote bilateral trade between Viet Nam and China, especially with Ningbo – a major port and industrial hub in east China’s Zhejiang Province.

It also provided opportunities for firms to look for business opportunities in sectors such as electric equipment, electronics, garment and textiles, cosmetics, chemicals, pharmacy, financial investment and property.

Chai Lida, chairman of CCPIT Ningbo of 15,000 member companies said that there was room to boost trade cooperation between companies of both two sides.

The Ningbo Delegation participating the in the seminar included names such as multi-sector Zhejiang Yongnan Holding Group, high-grade paint producer Ningbo Dada Chemicals and chemical producer Zhenhai Petrochemical Industry and Trade, who wanted to look for partners or sale agents and establish trade relationships.

VCCI and CCIPT Ningbo signed an agreement at the seminar to create conditions for boosting business cooperation.

China has been Viet Nam’s biggest trade partner with total bilateral trade turnover of more than US$6 billion last year, representing a rise of more than 13 per cent over 2014. 

Hanoi to restart horse racing track project

The Hanoi Tourist Corporation (Hanoi Tourist) and the Republic of Korean Global Consultant Network have signed a joint venture agreement to implement a US$500 project in Hanoi.

hanoi to restart horse racing track project  hinh 0 The project comprises a hotel, commercial and recreation centres, a horse racing track and a golf course.

The project was initiated in 1999 and approved by the Prime Minister and licenced by the Ministry of Planning and Investment the same year.

However, for various reasons it was delayed until recently. The Hanoi People’s Committee has decided to implement the project on 1,200ha in the outlying district of Soc Son and the Global Consultant Network was chosen as its partner.

The Ministry of Finance has nearly completed a draft decree on football and horse and dog racing betting to submit for Government approval, which creates a legal framework for the entertainment activity.

A representative from Hanoi Tourist said after the signing ceremony, the joint venture will ask the Hanoi People’s Committee for guidelines to carry out the project.

A horse racing track has been built recently in Binh Duong province by Dai Nam JSC on an area of 60-70ha.

VAMC can meet debt recovery target this year

The Vietnam Asset Management Company (VAMC) could meet a target to recover VND30 trillion (US$1.339 billion) of bad debts this year, VAMC Deputy General Director Nguyen Van Thang said.

Thang said that VAMC has so far this year recovered VND11 trillion of bad debts, or a third of the annual target, however, the recovery often increases sharply in the last months of the year.

According to VAMC, it has bought VND251 trillion of bad debts from credit institutions since it was established in 2013. Of the total, roughly VND30 trillion was recovered.

The recovery of bad debts has also increased year to year with VND5 trillion reported in 2014, VND12 trillion in 2015 and some VND30 trillion expected in 2016.

According to the State Bank of Vietnam’s statistics, the bad debt ratio of Vietnam’s banking system, as of June 31, fell to 2.58% from 2.78% at the end of May.

The decline came mainly from debtor repayments, moving the debts to the VAMC, risk provisions, and increasing outstanding loans.

Total bad debts handled stood at VND59.71 trillion in the first half of this year, 14.55% lower year-on-year, SBV reported, based on final figures from the VAMC and financial institutions.

Of the total, debtors repaid VND30.97 trillion while VND8.88 trillion were moved to the VAMC, and financial institutions used VND7.24 trillion in risk provision to handle bad debts.

The government has for the past few months also issued some regulations related the debt trading market which is expected to boost debt handling next time.

The original instant noodle firm has stuck to its roots… and its paper packaging.

Miliket instant noodles held a 90% market share in the 90’s, but that figure has sunk to 2-4% due to cut-throat competition from other brands.

Miliket, produced by Food & Foodstuffs Colusa – Miliket Joint Stock Company, appeared on the market around 1975 and soon become a favorite among Vietnamese consumers.

When it came to instant noodles, the first thing that sprang to mind was the two shrimps on the paper packaging.

However, when the market opened up, Miliket’s share was quickly eaten up by competitors.

Data from the Ministry of Industry and Trade revealed that Acecook Vietnam, owned by a Japanese investor, is dominating Vietnam’s noodle market with a 50 percent market share, followed by two local brands with a combined share of 30 percent.

Unsurprisingly, this has punched a huge whole in Milliket’s profits.

In 2014, Colusa – Miliket recorded pre-tax earnings of VND26.7 billion ($1.2 million), down neary a third from 2013.  That figure rose to VND41 billion last year, but that was mainly due to falling prices for ingriedients and cutting-cost measures the the company had taken.

Declining profits have also prevented Miliket from investing in media campaigns.

Many branding experts and consumers think that the once king of Vietnamese noodles is too conservative and should have changed the packaging years ago. However, this would be unlikely to attract new consumers, and may upset the die-hard fans of the brand. 

Others say that the packaging has helped Miliket survive as it reminds customers of the old days.

Miliket noodles are rarely displayed on supermarkets shelves or in convenience stores. Instead the product aims at middle and lower class customers, especially those living in rural areas.

Leaders of Colusa – Miliket said that this year, they plan to expand their market share with a new strategy.

Financial experts, however, said that it won’t be easy for the company to cope with big competitors as the Vietnamese noodle market starts to slow down.

Data from the World Instant Noodles Association showed that Vietnam, the world’s fourth largest consumer of noodles, sat down to 4.8 million servings in 2015, down four percent against 2014 and nearly eight percent against 2013.

Vietnam emerges as a magnet for foreign direct investment

As usual, foreign investors want to cash in on Vietnam’s low-cost manufacturing.

Global investors have their eyes on “emerging Asian countries”, and Vietnam is no exception, according to the latest report released by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.

Statistics show that last year emerging economies in the Asian region welcomed US$541 billion in investment.

The report said investors have recently started to target Vietnam while many are moving away from China due to more expensive labor costs and geopolitical risks.

Foreign direct investment inflows hit US$11.3 billion in the first three months of this year, the closest period for which data was available, according to the Ministry of Investment and Planning,

Foreign investors have also started to enter Vietnam via mergers and acquisitions.

Official statistics show that foreign investors have become majority shareholders in more than 1,700 local companies in the past year. 

These investments, from July 1, 2015 to July 20, 2016, are estimated to have reached US$1.89 billion, according to the Foreign Investment Agency under the Ministry of Planning and Investment.

Given the fact that the country has concluded a variety of free trade agreements, it is increasingly easier for foreign investors to enter the Vietnamese market.

The Vietnamese government’s commitment to accelerate share sales in state-owned enterprises will provide more opportunities for foreign investors.

Vietnam last month officially scrapped a long standing 49% foreign-ownership cap in publicly listed companies, allowing foreign investors to own a 100% stake in several listed companies across various industries, including consumer, property, transport, construction, manufacturing, financial services and agriculture.

The Southeast Asian country has topped an index for foreign direct investment in emerging market countries for the second year in a row, according to a study by fDi Intelligence, a Financial Times data analysis report.

A 2015 study into inbound greenfield investment in 14 emerging markets showed that Vietnam scored 6.45, which meant the country attracted more than six times the amount of foreign direct investment that might be expected relative to the size of its economy, ranking far ahead of neighboring competitors such as Thailand (2.43) and Malaysia (2.86).

Vietnam Week to kick off in UAE

A Vietnam Week is set to take place on September 26-30 in Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with the aim of promoting the image of Vietnam and tourism and culture exchange between the two countries.

The event is expected to help draw more investment from the Middle East and Northern Africa in Vietnam’s energy, real estate, infrastructure, production, tourism, and agriculture. It also provides a good chance for Vietnam firms to study the region’s business culture and market demands and spur exports of food and other agricultural produce, fashion, furniture, construction and consumer products.

After an opening ceremony, a business forum, fashion shows and a culture and tourism exhibition will be held during the event.

The UAE is a potential tourism market. Emirates Airline opened direct flights from Dubai to Hanoi on August 3.

Vietnam may allow football betting … with US$45 daily limit

The finance ministry is seeking the government’s approval to legalize sports betting under a plan that has however been slammed by critics for keeping the maximum stake too low.

Nguyen Hoang Hai, deputy chair of the Vietnam Association of Financial Investors, said he is disappointed the ministry has stuck to proposals made in a 2010 draft.

“No one will bet within the proposed limit of VND1 million (US$45) a day. Or they will have others to bet for them.

“Betting should be either banned or legalized. But it should not be half allowed like this.”

A finance ministry official, who asked to remain unnamed, told Thanh Nien Sunday that the ministry would submit the proposal to the government this month.

It seeks to legalize betting on certain international football matches to be decided by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, and people can bet on the scores, number of red and yellow card, etc.

The 2010 draft had proposed legalizing betting on both domestic and international football games.

The official said about the new proposal: “The regulation aims at keeping a careful eye on gamblers and step-by-step development to avoid regrettable consequences.”

The draft excludes people under 18, those with mental or civilian incompetency and illegal immigrants.

The low ceiling has been panned, with critics saying it would not help stop illegal gambling.

A former chairman of the National Assembly’s Legal Committee, Nguyen Van Hien, said, “A drinking table can cost several million dong. People will still bet illegally on international networks due to the low betting limit.”

Nguyen Hanh Phuc, the NA general secretary, said only poor people would gamble under the proposed rule.

“Rich people and big gamblers will still bet illegally.”

Le Dang Doanh, former director of the Central Institute for Economic Management, said the draft plan would fail to achieve its target of preventing illegal betting.

Police busted many rings involved in betting trillions of dong during the recent Euro, including one in Haiphong that organized gambling of up to VND7.6 trillion, he said.

“The underground betting amount is huge. The low limit will be unable to attract money from gamblers.”

Ngo Tri Long, former director of the Prices Management Institute, said relevant agencies should not have taken nearly a decade to consider legalization of sports betting, which is allowed in 130 countries and territories.

Bến Tre farm produce processing plant starts operations

Thuận Phong Agricultural Product Processing Co Ltd yesterday launched a factory to process and freeze fruits and vegetables in Giao Long Commune in Bến Tre Province’s Châu Thành District.

Covering an area of 6ha in the southern province, the factory has modern machinery and a designed capacity of processing 6,000 to 10,000 tonnes per month.

The first agricultural product that will be processed by the VNĐ500-billion (US$22.4million) factory is Chu sweet mango of the southern Đồng Tháp Province.

At the opening ceremony, Nguyễn Hữu Phước, deputy chairman of Bến Tre’s people’s committee, welcomed the factory’s establishment, and said it would contribute to fostering the province’s GDP growth and create jobs for 1,000 local workers.

The plant will also help raise the value of the locality’s farm produce and boost consumption of agricultural products of other provinces in the Cửu Long (Mekong Delta) region.

The committee promised to create favourable conditions for the development of the factory so that it could diversify its products, Phước said.

VEF/VNA/VNS/VOV/SGT/SGGP/Dantri/VET/VIR

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