Diverse funding needed to maintain rural power supply




Petrolimex earns pre-tax profit of $107m in H1, FPT to cut its stake in retail unit to below 50 per cent, Vietnam looks towards better investment climate, Vietnam posts best lychee crop in 60 years



All sources of funding, including state and local government budgets and the public, should be mobilised to maintain power supply for new-style rural areas, according to the Electricity of Vietnam’s Southern Power Corporation (EVN SPC).

Last year, the Prime Minister issued a decision to define criteria for new-style rural areas in 2016-2020, requiring qualified communes to meet rural development standards for planning, transportation, irrigation, electricity, health care-culture-education, production, environment, security-social order and more.

Big investment is needed to develop rural power networks in areas having met standards for electricity, the corporation said, adding that it will be very challenging for the corporation to raise the funds.

The corporation’s capital for construction is limited so it can only afford to renovate existing networks and build new main lines to improve safety.

The EVN SPC also underlined the importance of ensuring the progress of key rural power projects, particularly those in the southern provinces of Vinh Long, Binh Phuoc, An Giang and Bac Lieu and Can Tho City.

Petrolimex earns pre-tax profit of $107m in H1
     
Viet Nam National Petroleum Group (Petrolimex) reported a consolidated pre-tax profit of VND2.443 trillion (US$107.6 million) in the first half of 2017, which is 52.2 per cent of its annual target.

In this period, Petrolimex’s consolidated revenue of affiliates reached VND74.25 trillion, up 26.4 per cent over the same period last year.

The group’s increasing revenue is a result of the average price of world crude oil in the first six months of 2017 being around $49.95 per barrel, a year-on-year rise of 25.6 per cent.

Its petroleum business earned VND1.18 trillion of the consolidated pre-tax profit, and accounted for 48.3 per cent of the group’s total pre-tax profit.

The non-petroleum business contributed to around VND1.26 trillion of the profit. Of this, the profits from petrochemicals, bitumen and chemicals reached VND440 billion, while that from the gas business stood at VND98 billion.

The transportation and aviation fuel business brought in a profit of VND129 billion and VND171 billion, respectively. The company’s insurance and banking business also generated a profit of VND112 billion. Petrolimex’s subsidiaries in Laos and Singapore contributed modest profits of only VND27 billion.

Petrolimex has contributed around VND18.2 trillion to the State budget in the first six months of the year, the group revealed.

Overall, the consolidated after-tax profit of the group is VND2.02 trillion, and the ratio of after-tax profit on charter capital is 15.6 per cent.

Till date, Petrolimex has completed the sale of 20 million treasury shares, with an average selling price of VND50,533 per share, and earning around VND1 trillion, of which the capital surplus is VND810.66 billion.

The group has also opened payment gateways for 90 million ATM cards from 41 banks at its petrol stations across the country from August 1.

In the future, Petrolimex plans to implement the replacement of E5 RON 92 gasoline with mineral gasoline RON 92, creating a RON 95-IV gasoline and diesel oil grade IV business plan, as regulated.

This year, Petrolimex has targeted a revenue of VND143.21 trillion, a year-on-year increase of 16.3 per cent; a pre-tax profit of VND4.68 trillion; a minimum dividend of 12 per cent; and total investment of VND1.45 trillion. 

Vietjet’s pre-tax profit rises by 45%
     
Vietjet Aviation Joint Stock Company (HOSE code: VJC) posted a pre-tax profit of US$84.7 million in the first half of 2017, a year-on-year rise of 45 per cent.

The company’s revenue in the period stood at $730.7 million, an increase of 31 per cent compared to previous period, shows its unaudited business results, which were released last week.

Vietjet’s revenue in the second quarter reached $503 million, an increase of 89 per cent year on year, while its pre-tax profit for the same period hit around $66.1 million.

In the first six months of 2017, the company’s growth in passengers on international routes rose by 130 per cent, making it the main momentum for last quarter’s growth, Vietjet said in its statement. As of June 30, Vietjet’s total assets were around $1.1 billion, representing an annual rise of 50.8 per cent, while its owners’ equity reached $355.04 million, an increase of 130 per cent year on year.

Around 8.27 million passengers flew on Vietjet in the first half of 2017, an increase of 22.4 per cent year on year, with a load factor of 87.7 per cent, as per the latest data. From January to June, the carrier operated 49,151 flights, with a technical reliability rate of 99.55 per cent and on-time performance rate of 85.7 per cent. In July, Vietjet broke ground for the construction of Vietjet Aviation Academy in HCM City’s Saigon Hi-Tech Park. The first feature of the academy – full flight simulator – is expected to be ready for operation in the next 12 months.

Last month, Vietjet and Japan Airlines also reached a formal comprehensive partnership agreement aimed at improving customer convenience, the quality of operations and services, as well as enhancing the corporate value of both companies.

FPT to cut its stake in retail unit to below 50 per cent
     
Information technology group FPT Corporation (FPT) has announced it will reduce its ownership in its retail arm FPT Technology Production Distribution and Retail to below 50 per cent.

The group said in its management board’s resolution on Tuesday that the divestment will be carried in 2017 and divided into two stages.

In the first stage, FPT will sell 30 per cent to institutional investors to reduce its ownership to 55 per cent from the current level of 85 per cent.

Secondly, FPT will sell a maximum of 10 per cent of its remaining stake in the retail and distribution arm to other investors via an initial public offering (IPO).

According to the Nikkei Asian Review, the sales of the distribution and retail arm could bring about VND2.3-2.7 trillion (US$103-121 million) to the firm. The sale income could be used to improve its technological infrastructure and provide new telecommunication services.

At the group’s annual shareholder meeting held in April, the group chairman Truong Gia Binh said selling the distribution and retail arm was a must so FPT could become a pure ICT group with rapid growth.

HCM City Securities Corporation (HSC) said in a report that the deal could be finalised in the third quarter of this year.

According to HSC, the IPO price has not been determined as FPT did not want its shares to be owned by a single investor, however, it could be lower than the share price of Mobile World Corporation.

HSC also said that FPT Retail could trade on the HCM Stock Exchange (HOSE) in 2018.

Shares of FPT, listed on the HOSE under code FPT, closed Wednesday up 0.8 per cent at VND49,400 per share. Shares of Mobile World Corp on the same exchange ended at VND99,500 per share.

FPT also plans to increase charter capital for FPT Software LLC to VND1.3 trillion from the current VND1 trillion, marking the group’s efforts to switch its core business from retail to technology and telecommunication.

The group also announced it will make a 10-per cent cash advance payment for 2017 dividend payout, meaning shareholders will receive VND1,000 for every share.

The group will finalise the list of beneficial shareholders on August 18 and payments will be made on August 31.

FPT in the first six months of 2017 recorded a post-tax profit of VND1.21 trillion, a yearly increase of 12 per cent. 

Thua Thien-Hue earns 474.7 million USD in export revenue

The central province of Thua Thien-Hue shipped 474.7 million USD worth of products to foreign countries in the first seven months of the year, a year-on-year surge of 24.88 percent.

Of the total, 268.2 million USD was contributed by the foreign-invested sector, up 28.3 percent and 137.4 million USD by the private sector, up 30.54 percent.

The US continued to be the largest purchaser, accounting for 44 percent of the province’s export revenue. Along with traditional markets like China, the EU, Japan, the Republic of Korea and Taiwan, local products have been shipped to Cambodia, India, Slovakia and Sri Lanka.

Key earners, including industrial processed products, agro-forestry-fishery products, fuel, mineral, beer, Sake, fine art and crafts recorded strong growth. Notably, exports of aquatic products doubled to 16 million USD.

The province also spent 303.9 million USD purchasing materials from foreign countries, increasing 8.35 percent from the same time last year. Most of the imports were garment support materials and spare parts, with China still the main source of these imports.

The province is targeting export growth of 15 percent per year during 2017-2020 and 1.25 billion USD in export revenue by 2020.

Can Tho Vietbuild International Exhibition kicks off

The Can Tho Vietbuild International Exhibition 2017 opened in the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho on August 2, with the participation of more than 200 domestic and foreign businesses. 

On display at over 600 booths are a wide range of products covering construction materials, property, smart electrical appliances, door and window systems, interior and exterior decorations, solar power machines and water pipeline systems, among others.

Many green materials for green buildings in the Mekong Delta region were also introduced at the event.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Chairman of the Vietnam Real Estate Association Nguyen Tran Nam, who is also head of the organising board, stressed that the event created a useful playground for domestic and foreign enterprises, architects, contractors, property trading floors and those in need of housing.

Several activities will be held during the event, such as an exchange between businesses, music performance shows, a business forum and signing of economic deals.

The exhibition will run until August 6 at the Can Tho Investment – Trade Promotion and Exhibition Centre.

Quang Tri attracts 88 million USD of investment in 7 months

The central province of Quang Tri has granted investment licenses to 12 projects with a total capital of nearly 2 trillion VND (88 million USD) since the beginning of 2017.

So far, the province has attracted 316 projects worth more than 68 trillion VND (nearly 3 billion USD), of which 208 were put into operation.

According to Tran Doan, head of the provincial management board of economic zones, 20 more projects worth over 82 trillion VND (3.6 billion USD) will receive investment licenses in the time to come.

Local leaders have organised many working delegations to promote investment and worked with strategic investors to attract these projects so as to foster socio-economic development, generate more jobs and increase the locality’s budget collection.

The province has cut down the number of small projects which require large land areas and cause environmental pollution.

Attention has been paid to improving its investment climate by building an attractive, open and transparent environment.

Quang Tri also signed memoranda of understanding on cooperation in building a Vietnam-Singapore Industrial Park (VSIP) in the locality with Singapore’s Sembcorp Group and Vietnam’s Becamex Investment and Industrial Development Corporation (Becamex IDC).

Vietnam looks towards better investment climate

Do Nhat Hoang, head of the Foreign Investment Agency under the Ministry of Planning and Investment, has underlined the need for Vietnam to further improve its investment environment in order to attract more Japanese businesses. 

Speaking at the second mid-term review of the sixth phase of the Japan-Vietnam Joint Initiative in Hanoi on August 2, Hoang said investment and trade ties between the two countries have developed practically, adding that Japanese investors have shown higher confidence in the Vietnamese investment climate. 

The official noted that Vietnam and Japan inked cooperation agreements worth up to 22 billion USD during Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc’s visit to Japan last June. 

Nagai Katsuro from the Japanese Embassy in Vietnam highlighted close cooperation between the two countries over the past time. 

He said Japan wishes to work with Vietnam to address issues regarding Vietnam’s investment climate, which, he said, is expected to be improved  through the Joint Initiative. 

During the meeting, the two sides agreed to put forth measures and process of identifying the minimum wage. 

Apart from labour and salary matters, they also focused on logistics and transportation services, support to small and medium-sized enterprises and regulations imposed on foreign investors as prescribed in the Investment Law, the Enterprise Law, the Land Law and other laws related to investment and business. 

The Joint Initiative, launched in April 2003 as a result of special cooperation between the two Governments, aims to create an open and transparent business and investment climate in Vietnam through a policy dialogue between Japanese investors and concerned Vietnamese ministries and agencies.

Vietnam posts best lychee crop in 60 years

Increasing exports helped Vietnam obtain its most successful lychee crop in 2017, with the highest prices in six decades, heard a conference on August 2 in northern Bac Giang Province, the country’s lychee farming hub.

According to the Bac Giang Province People’s Committee, lychee production brought a revenue of VND3.5 trillion (US$154 million) to farmers in the northern province.

Lychee prices averaged VND40,000-60,000 per kilogram this harvest season and even touched a record high of VND83,000 per kilogram, nearly doubling the previous crop.

The province’s lychee export revenue totalled more than US$90 million this year.

The province said that lychee penetrated a number of new markets this year, such as Dubai, Holland and Thailand, thank to the enhanced promotion activities.

China remained the largest importer of Vietnamese lychee, with 28,000 tonnes, or 76.5% of the total lychee export volume.

Domestic lychee sales reached 54,900 tonnes.

The province saw the best lychee crop during the past 60 years despite a drop of 64.2% in output over the previous year to 91,000 tonnes due to unfavourable weather conditions. 

However, this year’s lychee was of a higher quality, Duong Van Thai, Deputy Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee, said.

The province’s statistics show that more than 1,000 farmer households earned from VND100 million from lychee this harvest season, including 10 households with revenues higher than VND500 million and two earning more than VND800 million.

According to Tran Quang Tuan, Director of the provincial Department of Industry and Trade, promotion activities contributed significantly to the success of lychee sales this year, together with efforts of improving lychee quality.

Lychee plantation area totalled 30,000 hectares in the province. Bac Giang Province is famous for thiều lychee, which grows mainly in Luc Ngan District.

Luc Ngan thieu lychee is already granted protection certificate in six countries – Laos, Cambodia, the Republic of Korea, China, Japan and Singapore – by the Ministry of Science and Technology and is being registered for industrial property protection in three countries – The US, Australia and Malaysia.

HOREA reports no new case of social housing loan

After the housing credit package worth VND30 trillion (US$1.32 billion) ended last year, there has been no new case getting social housing loan according to Housing Law 2014 so far.

That is quoted from a report which chairman of HCMC Real Estate Association (HOREA) Le Hoang Chau has recently sent to authorized agencies.

According to a decision signed by the Prime Minister, social housing buyers will continue enjoying the preferential interest rate of 4.8 percent a year after the package ended last year. 

However, the extension has not been materialized for new cases partly because the Government has yet arranged budget funds for four banks Vietcombank, Vietinbank, Agribank and BIDV to carry out the policy. So far, only VND1.5 trillion has been allocated for the Vietnam Bank for Social Policies to loan social housing buyers.

HOREA has proposed the Ministry of Planning and Investment, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Construction to soon submit to the Government and the National Assembly’s Standing Committee a budget capital arrangement plan to implement the social housing policy.

Hà Nội’s tax department a shining beacon
     
Hoang Trung Hai, Secretary of the Ha Noi City Party Committee, met with the Ha Noi Department  of Taxation (HDT) on Tuesday to discuss their work in the past seven months and upcoming tasks for this year.  

During the meeting, Nguyen The Manh, HDT’s Director, reported the city’s total payment to the State budget for the first seven months of 2017 was about VND107.78 trillion (US$4.8 billion), 57.5 per cent of the department’s yearly goal and an 18.4 per cent increase from the same period in 2016.

Various economic sectors in the city recorded growing budget contributions, with the private trade and industrial sector increasing 25.1 per cent in the first seven months year-on-year, the foreign direct sector rising 21.2 per cent and taxes from individual income growing 26.1 per cent.

Manh also highlighted the HDT’s shining example among tax authorities nationwide, particularly in online tax payment and declaration. Since the beginning of 2017, up to 98 per cent of businesses operating in Ha Noi have been declaring income tax via the HDT’s online platform, while 95 per cent have been submitting tax payments online.

Furthermore, in the first seven months of 2017, the HDT was the first department to successfully implement online tax inspections, in addition to traditional methods of investigation.

The department completed more than 11,000 tax examinations, or 62.8 per cent of 2017’s target, retrieving up to VND1.5 trillion that would have been otherwise lost to tax fraud, up by 12.6 per cent from the same period in 2016. In total, since the beginning of the year, the HDT has managed to cut VND1.48 trillion in tax losses and VND177 billion in tax deduction losses.

Manh added that for the first seven months in 2017, his department issued more than 1.3 million notifications of overdue income tax and published seven lists with 939 overdue taxpaying units with total unpaid amount of VND2.85 trillion. They also retrieved over VND7 trillion in overdue tax, cutting outstanding debts by nine per cent from the end of 2016.

As well as retrieving businesses’ income tax, the HDT also improved tax collection in other areas, such as monitoring taxation from ecommerce activities, real estate and land, automobiles and petrol stations.

Hai lauded the HDT’s efforts in accomplishing their duties, especially their innovation in using technology, helping tax payers and building a database.

Speaking at the meeting, Deputy Finance Minister Do Hoang Anh Tuan stated that for the remaining five months of 2017, the HDT should focus on improving their tax submission procedures and identifying businesses with signs of tax fraud.

Hai concluded that with the efforts they have been showing for the last seven months, the HDT will continue to enhance efficiency in their tasks, work with other government departments and encourage firms to pay their taxes on time. 

MoIT to remove safeguards on colour-coated iron
     
The Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) has decided to lift safeguard measures from imports of colour-coated iron for nine enterprises.

On May 31, 2017, the MoIT issued Decision No 1931/QD-BCT applying safeguards on colour-coated iron sheets imported from various countries and territories.

Since the decision, the MoIT’s Viet Nam Competition Authority (VCA) has received dossiers requesting exemptions of safeguard measures on imported high-quality colour-coated iron for production purposes.

After appraising the dossiers, the MoIT chose to exempt safeguard measures on the imports for nine enterprises, including Panasonic Viet Nam Company Limited, LG Electronics Viet Nam Hai Phong Company Limited, Hoa Phat Refrigeration Engineering Company Limited, Samsung Electronics HCMC CE Complex Company Limited, Viettronics Tan Binh Joint Stock Company, Aqua Electrical Appliances Viet Nam Company Limited, Dong Anh Investment Construction and Building Materials Joint Stock Company, Viet Nam Pride Construction Investment Company Limited and Metal Viet Nam Joint Stock Company.

Enterprises exempted from safeguards must submit reports on the imports to the VCA within the first 15 days of the following quarter.

If the enterprises fail to send reports on time to VCA, the MoIT will revoke the exemption. 

Vietnam’s biggest drug maker DHG to scrap FOL in early 2018

Vietnam’s biggest publicly-traded drug maker, Hau Giang Pharmaceutical JSC (DHG), will lift the foreign ownership limit (FOL) to 100 per cent from January 1, 2018.

DHG’s extraordinary annual general shareholders’ meeting held in late July approved the removal of the FOL. Shareholders also agreed to add real estate, travel agency services, and self-produced pharmaceutical business to its business lines from early 2018.

DHG now has Taisho Pharmaceutical Holdings, one of the five biggest pharma firms in Japan, as a big foreign shareholder with 24.5 per cent, followed by FTIF Templeton Frontier Markets Fund. State Capital Investment Corporation (SCIC) is the biggest stakeholder with 43.3 per cent.

In a recent interview with VIR, DHG said that the firm will focus on its advantages in sales systems and storage systems, meeting good distribution practice standards to expand the distribution of products to multinational corporations (MNCs), while co-operating with them in production stages.

The firm plans to partner with leading companies from the US and South Korea over the next few years, hoping to attain an average growth of 15 per cent in its net revenue annually—hitting $300 million by 2020—and become Vietnam’s biggest generic drug maker.

On July 29, DHG announced increasing its chartered capital to VND1.307 trillion ($59.4 million) by issuing more than 130.74 million shares.

DHG will be the second Vietnamese pharma firm to remove the FOL, following the third biggest listed domestic drug maker Domesco (DMC).

Last September, DMC became a pioneer in the industry when it decided to remove its FOL. At the time, other pharma firms, including DHG, were gripped by fear of being acquired.

Foreign pharma groups see the FOL removal as a positive signal. A clear path in converting partnerships into majority ownership would provide companies with much stronger grounds to convince their global headquarters to invest in Vietnam.

Right after DMC scrapped its FOL, US-based Abbott Laboratories increased its stake in DMC to 51.7 per cent, boosting its footprint in the local pharma market.

Taisho has already shown interest in raising its ownership in DHG, which has a nationwide network of 12 distribution affiliates and 24 branches.

Hanoi to receive $150 million amusement park

Hanoi has become an attractive investment destination for international-standard amusement parks.

Chairman of Bao Son Group Nguyen Truong Son has announced plans to develop an amusement park inspired by international theme parks like Lotte World in South Korea and Genting Highlands in Malaysia, with a total investment capital of $150 million. The construction is expected to be conducted in the next year in the campus of Bao Son Paradise Park.

This pushes the total investment capital in Bao Son Paradise Park to VND5.5 trillion ($241.9 million). The group expects that the project will help Bao Son Paradise Park become an indispensable destination for foreign visitors in Hanoi as well as a half of the Vietnamese population.

The information was announced in the opening ceremony of the safari complex in Bao Son Paradise Park, marking the opening of the first safari in Hanoi and the fourth in Vietnam. The 2.6-hectare safari comprises of a complex of waterfalls, a bird park, rivers, and primeval forest mountains.

The site has various animals from South Africa and North America, such as zebras, white tigers, white lions, dotted hyenas, cheetahs, and more.

Earlier in September 2, 2016, Sun Group organised the ground-breaking ceremony of the 198-hectare Kim Quy (Golden Turtle) Amusement Park, in Dong Anh district.

The $209-million park features both the traditional culture of Hanoi and the modern design of Universal Studios and Disneyland Hong Kong.

The project is expected to become a highlight of the city’s tourism and an attractive destination for domestic and foreign tourists in the future, turning tourism into a spearhead sector of the city. The first phase of the project would be completed as per schedule in 18 months, ensuring international quality standards. 

Eins Vina eyes investment expansion in Binh Duong

Eins Vina, a unit of South Korean Sea-A Group, is planning to increase investment in its projects in Song Than II Industrial II Park of the southern province of Binh Duong.

At a meeting with Tran Thanh Liem, chairman of the Binh Duong People’s Committee on July 31, Tony Pyeon, general director of Eins Vina, said that the company is operating two factories in Song Than II Industrial Park (IP) in Di An town and in Binh Chuan ward of Thuan An town, creating jobs for 9,000 labourers.

Tony Pyeon said that in the coming time, the company will continue to enlarge its projects. He also discussed with local leaders the province’s policy to relocate manufacturing factories into IPs.

Liem, in response, said that the province has a policy on restraining the licensing of investment projects outside IPs, as well as labour-intensive works in southern areas.

Binh Duong is now calling on investors to renovate business lines and technologies towards enjoying the country’s tax incentive policies. Liem affirmed that the province will continue to improve the business climate, develop IP infrastructure, and intensify administrative reform to facilitate business activities.

Keeping manufacturing and textile and garment operations in Binh Duong since 2005, Eins Vina has achieved good business results over the past 12 years, with 80 per cent of its products exported to the US.

According to local statistics, as of mid-July 2017, Binh Duong attracted an accumulated foreign direct investment (FDI) sum of $27.5 billion, ranking second among the country’s most attractive FDI destinations, just behind Ho Chi Minh City.

Manufacturing and processing remains the most popular among foreign investors. Big projects licensed so far this year include the factories of Kraft Vina, Polytex Far Eastern Vietnam, and TPR Vietnam.

“With the improved business climate, electricity, electronics, mechanics, pharmacy, chemistry, trade, and service have become more appealing to foreign investors as the number of business visitors seeking investment opportunities in the province increased significantly compared to previous years,” said Nguyen Thanh Truc, director of the Binh Duong Planning and Investment Department.

Former Oracle General Director now CMC Deputy General Director

Mr. Ho Thanh Tung has been appointed Deputy General Director and Chief Strategic Officer of the CMC Corporation, taking on the crucial responsibility of developing its “Go Global” strategy.

He was previously General Director of Indochina at Oracle Vietnam.

After graduating in Russia, Mr. Tung was charge of IT and business at Johnson & Johnson in the north of Vietnam, and then worked at Peregrine Capital Vietnam. In 1995, he began working at Oracle in the position of solutions expert, then became leader of IT support and governmental business, before becoming a Director of Business and Technical Support Services.

During that time, he earned his Masters of Business Administration at Washington State University.

“As part of the ‘Go Global’ strategy, CMC invited Mr. Tung to become Deputy General Director and Chief Strategic Officer and Mr. Kumeda Masakuni to be General Director of CMC Japan,” Mr. Nguyen Trung Chinh, Chairman of the CMC Corporation, said. This is within its human resources strategy, which is based on three core values: Innovation, Professionalism, and Team Spirit, he added.

In 2018, CMC is expected to have over 2,500 staff, Mr. Chinh went on. “Enthusiasm and belief is what CMC has, and that is a priceless asset,” he said.

Mr. Tung said that at Oracle he had the chance to dig deep into the field, staying abreast of global technology trends and understanding the application of technology in developing countries in terms of digital technology, cloud computing, the Internet of Things, and artificial intelligence. At CMC, he believes that he can fulfill his dream of applying future technology into reality.

CMC Corporation has over 24 years of development, with ten member companies in Vietnam and overseas. Its core services are systems integration, telecommunications – internet, software services, and manufacturing and distributing ICT products.

In Vietnam, it is a partner in many ICT and telecommunications projects relating to the government, education, treasury, customs, insurance, electricity, and banking and finance. 

Formosa still seeking partners in steel plant project

The Taiwan-based industry conglomerate the Formosa Plastics Group (FPG) said this week it is still in the process of finding partners to jointly invest in improvements to and the expansion of its mega steel plant in Vietnam, which reopened earlier this year after months of inactivity due to a toxic waste spill last year.

Following the environmental disaster, FPG pledged to invest $1 billion in two stages to bring total investment to $11.6 billion, aimed at improving environmental safety and increasing capacity at the Formosa Ha Tinh Steel Corp. (FHS) in the Vung Ang Economic Zone in the north-central province of Ha Tinh.

The first phase of the project was completed in late July by FPG and its major subsidiaries, while another $500 million will be put into the project in the second phase, by issuing new shares, FPG said.

The group, however, is still seeking new partners for the second phase of the project and has not yet decided on any suitors.

Taiwan’s Commercial Times newswire reported on August 1 that FPG, the major shareholder in the steel plant, had invited budget carrier Vietjet Air to invest in the second phase of the project by taking on a 4-5 per cent stake in the plant.

The inclusion of Vietjet would help build closer business ties between Taiwan and Vietnam and allow FPG to put down roots in the Vietnamese market and penetrate the ten-nation ASEAN bloc, the report said, citing unnamed sources at Formosa Ha Tinh Steel.

However, Vietjet’s CEO refuted the news, saying that the carrier does not invest in non-core business lines. “This information is incorrect and groundless. Vietjet’s strategy is to focus on aviation,” Mr. Luu Duc Khanh told local media.

The China Steel Corp., the largest steel maker in Taiwan, and Japan’s JFE Steel Corp. also hold stakes in the Vietnamese steel mill, as do FPG’s four subsidiaries.

By the end of this year or early 2018, total production capacity at the plant is expected to reach about 7 million tons per year, making it the largest steel mill in Southeast Asia.

In April 2016, a toxic waste leak at the steel mill caused pollution along some 200 km of Vietnam’s coastline, with tons of marine species washing ashore and thousands of local workers becoming jobless.

After a lengthy investigation by the Vietnamese Government, which found FPG responsible for the incident, it made a public apology and paid $500 million in compensation. 

The plant was closed until May this year after fixing almost all its faults and upgrading its waste treatment system.

At a July 24 meeting with FHS, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc firmly reiterated the government’s determination to safeguard the environment, saying the steel mill would close immediately if another toxic spill was to occur.

He asked FHS to apply advanced technologies and modern equipment in its production line in order to fully address any violations in terms of both machinery and social responsibility. 

“No operations are allowed if they are unsafe,” the Prime Minister said. “I want to make it clear that if any violations reoccur, the mill will be shut down.”

Tech employment expos on horizon

“Tech Expo 2017 – Tomorrow Land” will be held on August 12 in Hanoi and August 26 in Ho Chi Minh City, attended by talent seeking employment and sponsored by many top tech companies in the country, according to VietnamWorks.

The expo is expected to address the scarcity of employees at technology enterprises.

Due to IT enterprises always having high recruitment demand, staff numbers have long been in short supply, according to VietnamWorks’ latest report, which found that job seekers in the sector satisfy just 50 per cent of recruitment demand. 

Tech Expo 2017 therefore hopes to connect talented candidates and top IT companies and also help candidates move to certain fields to meet demand.

Technology workshops at Tech Expo 2017 are also expected to help candidates and enterprises stay abreast of the latest trends in high tech and learn new skills.

This year’s expo features activities such the launch of an mobile event app that facilitates the application process and an events directory with a QR code linked to company profiles, and a “CV Clinic”, with consultants from VietnamWorks and TopITworks helping improve candidates’ resumes.

Other technology workshops will be hosted by global experts, on new trends such as Machine Learning, the Internet of Things, and the Agile and Scrum method, etc.
According to VietnamWorks, at Tech Expo 2016 the Top 5 popular programming languages in Hanoi were Java, .Net, PHP, C/C+, and Database, and in Ho Chi Minh City were .Net, C/C+, Java, Web, and Database. 

This year, there will be new programming languages short of developers, such as Ruby on Rails, Golang, and JavaScript, while related frameworks such as ReactJS and NodeJs, etc., promise major opportunities in employment.

With its third holding on the horizon, Tech Expo is now the largest-scale jobs event for the technology community, with over 11,000 candidates registered to attend as well as more than 2,000 individuals and 54 partnership companies connected to 2,200 IT experts.
This third Tech Expo is being organized by VietnamWorks and TopITworks with the theme “Tomorrow Land”, providing experience in new job seeking methods integrated with technology to help candidates find their dream job and for companies to find the right talent.  
At Tech Expo 2016, 67 per cent of attendees in Hanoi had more than two years of experience and 25 per cent more than five years, while 62 per cent of attendees in Ho Chi Minh City had more than two years of experience and 20 per cent more than five years. 

US commences inspections over all catfish imports from Vietnam

All batches of Vietnam’s catfish products that are imported to the United States will undergo quality inspection at the warehouses designated by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), before being put into circulation in the country, starting August 2.

Specifically, the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) will conduct inspections over all Vietnamese tra fish (pangasius) imports at the official import inspection facilities beginning from August 2, instead of September 1 as previously announced.

FSIS’s inspections over tra fish batches include the adaptability of certificates enclosed with consignments, labelling, general hygienic conditions, residue sampling and the identification of pathogenic species and microorganisms.

Regarding the group of chemicals and antibiotics, FSIS will conduct multi-residue testing over 108 plant protection substances, 89 antibiotic substances, 17 metals and four dyeing substances.

As for the exporters found with food safety violations, all of their following catfish batches will be required to undergo sampling in order to test 85 indicators in antibiotics and 106 indicators concerning plant protection drugs.

The USDA has officially implemented the catfish inspection programme, including Vietnamese tra fish, since March 1, 2016, but it initially offered an 18-month transition period, giving foreign suppliers time to make changes needed to comply with the USDA’s requirements.

During that transition period, Vietnamese catfish exports to the US still underwent the USDA’s inspections, however this was done only by random inspection.

UK investor proposes tourism project in Ba Ria- Vung Tau

The United Kingdom’s Holdings Group has just worked with the People’s Committee of Ba Ria- Vung Tau province about a tourism project in Xuyen Moc district. 

The group desired to invest into a luxury resort in Xuyen Moc district, including marina, cinema, golf courses, healthcare center, Ice-skating stadium … with total capital of GBP 5 billion.

The People’s Committee of Ba Ria- Vung Tau province said it would discuss and submit the project for the Vietnamese Prime Minister’s approval.

Holdings Group was established in 1943, focusing on real estate investment, hotel, resort & spa … in countries across over the world.

Banks disburse VND9 trillion for fishing boat building program

Commercial banks have disbursed VND9 trillion (US$400 million) to build 761 new offshore fishing boats and upgrade 40 deteriorating ones under a program launched three years ago by the Government.

However, the program’s success has been discounted by recent irregularities over the building of steel vessels in central provinces, heard a conference held by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in Hanoi on August 1.

At the conference to review the implementation of the Government’s Decree 67/2014/ND-CP dated July 7, 2014, representatives of coastal provinces said 761 fishing boats had been put into use under the program, including 301 steel, 53 composite and 407 wooden ships.

Banks have signed credit deals to lend more than VND9.9 trillion to build and upgrade fishing boats, and have disbursed over VND9 trillion. The outstanding loans for fishermen as of now total some VND8.8 trillion, up 15.2% versus the end of last year.

Vu Van Tam, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development and director of the Vietnam Directorate of Fisheries, said the program has made significant contributions to the socio-economic development, helping fishermen boost offshore fishing activity. However, many shortcomings have been found.

Several steel fishing boats built for fishermen in Binh Dinh, Quang Nam, Thanh Hoa and Ninh Thuan provinces have deteriorated quickly, causing heavy losses for these fishermen and badly affecting the country’s policy.

Specifically, 40 steel fishing boats built under Decree 67 have seen their hulls, decks and cabins rusted quickly, while engines and equipment fitted in such vessels are of poor quality. These include 19 boats in Binh Dinh Province, two in Phu Yen, 18 in Thanh Hoa and one in Quang Nam.

Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung told the conference that the quick deterioration of steel boats in Binh Dinh and some south-central provinces is the most serious shortcoming in the implementation of the decree.

Dung pointed out some reasons such as poor management of fishing boat quality and loose inspections in all stages of the boat building process.

He required boat builders to take the responsibility for repairing such boats. Strict sanctions should be also imposed on violations of individuals and organizations in building and upgrading fishing boats.

He also assigned the Government Office to garner opinions from relevant ministries, agencies and local authorities on a draft decree amending and supplementing Decree 67 as proposed by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. The amended decree is expected to be issued in the last quarter of this year.

Uber and Grab expand business

Almost at the same time, both Uber Vietnam and Grab Vietnam have introduced their new services starting this month. Uber has now expanded to the central coast city of Danang while Grab has launched it high-class travel service GrabCar Plus.

On Uber Vietnam’s official website, the company has announced its launch in Danang City. Now, people in Danang wanting ride-hailing service can choose between Uber and Grab for their travels. On this occasion, Uber offers promotions in the city like free trips until this Sunday, with a maximum of VND100,000 per trip.

Grab Vietnam, meanwhile, deploys GrabCar Plus, the company’s high-class service available in HCMC only. Specifically, GrabCar drivers wanting an upgrade to GrabCar Plus must get the lowest rating of 4.85 stars in customer reviews, and must own cars that cost more than VND750 million with the manufacture date from 2012 onwards.

The fare of Grabcar Plus is VND24,000 for the first two kilometers, followed by VND11,500 for each next kilometer plus VND500 for every minute on the trip. The fare is VND2,500 higher than usual GrabCar service, which costs VND9,000/km plus VND300/minute on the trip for four-seat cars.

GrabCar Plus is basically the same as UberBlack, which uses more luxury cars than UberX and GrabCar. The fare of GrabCar Plus is a bit higher than UberBlack, which starts from VND5,000 for beginning a trip, plus VND9,597/km and VND800/minute.

At the same time, Grab Vietnam announced to increase the fare for seven-seat GrabCar, from VND11,000/km plus VND300/minute to VND11,500/km plus VND500/minute.

In this trial stage, Grab Vietnam will only provide the service for some of its customers before offering the service for all. Some of Grab’s customers have received an invitation email for the new service from the company.

Foreign investors eye local food processors

The trend of foreign investors recently taking over some domestic food processing firms or holding controlling stakes in such enterprises is forecast to gain more momentum, said Ly Kim Chi, chairwoman of the HCMC Food and Foodstuff Association, at a press conference on Vietfood & Beverage – ProPack 2017.

Chi told the Daily on July 31 that foreign companies have been finding ways to buy into local small and medium food processors that are in need of new investments. Notably, some major food players are now under the management of foreign enterprises.

She commented the situation is not necessarily due to the ineffectiveness of local food firms in the process of international integration, but partly due to the fact that foreign investors offer higher prices than their true asset values that are irresistible to local enterprises.

Chi stressed the market trend is inevitable and that international investors purchase controlling stakes in State-owned and private companies will continue in the future.

The Government should offer policy support for local food processing enterprises to improve their competitiveness, she said, adding they may find it tough to compete with rivals in other ASEAN countries.

Foreign investors also show interest in Vietnamese beverage companies, Chi said.

According to experts, the strong economic growth has become a cornerstone for local beverage enterprises which collectively account for 15% of gross domestic product (GDP).

Vietfood & Beverage – ProPack 2017 is slated to take place from August 9 to 12 at the Saigon Exhibition and Convention Center in District 7, HCMC. The international exhibition has attracted the participation of over 500 enterprises from 20 countries and territories.

PM nod to revoke company’s infrastructure development licence

Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc has given the go-ahead to revoke Cam Ranh Shipyard Company’s investment certificate, meant for developing infrastructure in Khánh Hòa Province’s South Cam Ranh Industrial Zone.

The licence is being withdrawn as the company has failed to develop the project for  eight years, baodautu.vn reports.

The PM allowed the Vân Phong Economic Zone Management Board, under the direction of Khánh Hòa People’s Committee, to revoke the certificate based on investment-related regulations.

Since 2011, the central province’s committee has proposed four times to the PM that the investment certificate of Cam Ranh Shipyard Co, a subsidiary of the Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (SBIC) be cancelled, so that another firm with sufficient experience and financial capacity could be found to complete the much-delayed project.

Covering an area of around 200 hectares beside the Cam Ranh Bay, the project had a total registered capital of VNĐ980 billion (US$43 million). The company was to have built  infrastructure for a mixed industrial zone that would serve the shipbuilding and ship repair industry, the machinery, and the electrical and electronic assembly industries. The industrial zone was supposed to have attracted investors and become operational by the end of 2011. However, it has been lying abandoned due to the investor’s financial difficulties.

Till date, the company had not even initiated investment procedures to begin the project, the Vân Phong Economic Zone Management Board said.

Cognex opens first local office in Việt Nam

Global supplier of industrial barcode readers and machine vision systems Cognex Corporation has announced the opening of its first office in Việt Nam.

The setting up of an office in the country is a testament of its commitment to expanding the business in Asia.

Situated in Hà Nội, the office will provide a local base for Cognex to consolidate and coordinate the company’s efforts as it looks to tap into the huge manufacturing industry in Việt Nam.

“Given that Việt Nam accounts for 40 per cent of our regional sales in ASEAN, the new Cognex office will give us a stronger foothold in Việt Nam, where there is a heavy focus on manufacturing,” Wayne Goh, head of ASEAN, Australia and New Zealand at Cognex, said.

“We believe our presence will not just support the growth of the manufacturing sector, but also play an integral part in helping Việt Nam take the next step towards the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0) through the provision of machine vision technologies,” he said.

According to Goh, Cognex’s machine vision technologies help increase the quality and lower the cost of manufacturing across all industries through error proofing product assembly lines, detecting defects, identifying and tracking items for manufacturing and logistics, and providing robot guidance.

The key manufacturing industries Cognex is targeting in Việt Nam are the electronics, automobile and motorbike sectors, with well-known foreign manufacturers such as Samsung, LG and Foxconn already utilising the company’s machine vision technologies in their factories.

Goh said the Hà Nội office will include sales and application engineers and technical support engineers, where customers can witness Cognex’s advanced technology in action and attend classes to learn how to apply Cognex products in their manufacturing operations.

Cognex Corporation designs and manufactures a range of products that incorporate sophisticated machine vision technology. 

Its products include barcode readers, machine vision sensors and machine vision systems that are used in factories, warehouses and distribution centres to guide, gauge, inspect, identify and assure the quality of items during the manufacturing and distribution process.

Found in 1981 and headquartered in the United States, Cognex has regional offices and distributors located throughout the Americas, Europe and Asia.

Nam A Bank signs bancassurance partnership with FWD

Nam A Commercial Joint Stock Bank has signed a 15-year bancassurance partnership with FWD Vietnam Life Insurance Company Ltd. to provide comprehensive and diverse life insurance products for the bank’s customers. 

With this exclusive agreement, FWD will expand its bancassurance distribution network as it aims to become a leading insurer in Việt Nam and change the way people feel about insurance.

Lương Thị Cẩm Tú, Nam A Bank’s general director, said: “Through our stable customer base, nationwide network and similar strategies of ’customer centricity’ and mutual trust, I believe the cooperation between Nam A Bank and FWD will bring good results not only in the insurance sector, but also in the development of both companies.”

Through this collaboration, FWD is once again demonstrating solid steps to build a market-leading bancassurance distribution platform by investing in people, technology, partners and networks.

Nam A Commercial Joint Stock Bank began operations on October 21, 1992, and was one of the first commercial banks to be established after the Banking Ordinance was issued in 1990 to enable economic reforms. Since then, it has grown rapidly, and now owns a network of 60 transaction offices nationwide. Its charter capital has increased to VND30 trillion now from VND5 billion in 1992.

Nam A bank aims to establish itself as one of Việt Nam’s most modern and leading banks that is seeing fast, strong, safe and effective development, and making significant contributions to the country’s socio-economic development.

Established in 2013, FWD is the insurance arm of Pacific Century Group, an Asia-based private investment group. FWD operates in Hong Kong and Macau, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, Japan and Việt Nam, offering life, medical and general insurance and employee benefits across a number of its markets.

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