Superior quality rice yields hope for Vietnamese farmers



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Experts at a recent conference in Ho Chi Minh City urged Vietnam agriculture to move away from high-yield to superior quality rice varieties to best compete with other rice exporters in the Asian region such as India and Thailand.

The European Union will offer the Vietnamese rice segment import duty-free tariff rate on increased quotas when the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement comes into force, which should happen sometime in 2018, said Tran Ngoc Thach, director of the Mekong Delta Rice Research.

Therefore, Mr Thach advises the segment to change production practices post haste to fully capitalize on the advantages posed by these beneficial quotas and lower border taxes.

According to the Agreement as approved by the Delegation of the EU to Vietnam, the European states will permit duty free import of 30,000, 30,000 and 20,000 metric tons milled rice, fragrant rice, and husked rice, respectively.

The agreement also provides for a 50% reduction in tariffs on broken rice with the remaining tariff phased out over a five year period, noted Mr Thach.

He emphasized the point that many experts believe that the preferential border tax could potentially save the Vietnamese rice segment US$20 million annually, which is a tremendous savings.

Mr Thach continued to say that though Vietnam has been hailed as the globe’s third largest rice exporter, its rice consignments to the EU over the past few years can be described as lacklustre at best.

He noted that over recent years, Vietnamese rice exports dipped because far too many actors in the segment focused too much on planting high-yield rice. Meanwhile, other countries are concentrating on higher-quality rice production.

According to a report by the Vietnam Food Association, Mr Thach said, that rice exports to the EU market dropped from 24,000 to 20,000 metric tons in 2014, a further 18,000 tons in 2015 and again in 2016.

The EU is a demanding market with strict requirements for factors ranging from product quality to environmental standards as well as the brand prestige and production process, Mr Thach said.

In addition, though not being regular rice eaters, EU customers prefer rice of higher quality than Vietnamese rice. That’s why Vietnam has become less competitive against other rice exporting nations.

It is no secret that European consumers are fonder of fragrant rice from Thailand, while the Vietnamese rice segment is only now just beginning to focus its efforts to elevate its image, Mr Thach concluded.

Huynh Van Nghiep, deputy director of the Mekong Delta Rice Research Institution, in turn said it is hard for the Vietnamese industry to compete on an equal footing with Thailand, but the country can learn from the experience of Cambodia.

The Cambodian rice segment is on the mend, Mr Nghiep noted, due to its winning the world’s ‘best rice’ title for three consecutive years.

He suggested if the Vietnamese segment would switch away from growing high-yield and short-term rice varieties that the improved production practices would help create better tasting varieties of rice.

Therefore, to better compete with other countries in the Asian region, farmers and other actors in the industry should expeditiously shift from high-yield to superior-quality rice varieties, Mr Nghiep said.

VN targets US$3.5 billion of rice exports by 2020

The Ministry of Industry and Trade has unveiled a strategy for developing rice exports in 2016-20 that targets reversing a declining trend over the last two years and increasing overseas sales to US$3 billion in 2017.

 It also targets a gradual shift towards export of high-quality, high-value, organic, nutritional, specialty and Vietnam brands of rice and rice-based products.

The export of low-quality white rice is expected to fall to 15% of total shipments by 2020 and 10% by 2025.

 In the latter year medium-quality white rice will account for 20% and high-quality white rice, fragrant rice and glutinous rice for 60%.

The ministry will make efforts to diversify export markets, with a focus on markets with demand for high-quality rice. The ministry has sent the draft strategy to relevant ministries and industries to solicit their opinions.

Middle East targeted for agro-exports

The Middle East is not only a large market for Vietnamese agricultural products but a bridge to the European market, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Xuan Cuong discussed the issue outside of the Middle East business co-operation conference held recently in Hanoi.

According to Cuong, the Middle East includes 16 core countries with a population of nearly 400 million. Vietnam can meet many demands for agricultural products from these markets. For example, the annual demand for rice from the Middle East is about five to seven million tonnes and there is huge demand for vegetables, fruits and aquaculture products.

Trade turnover between the Middle East and Vietnam was low because of payment difficulties. Both sides have to use banks in other countries such as China and Singapore for transactions, which increases the financial risks, Cuong said.

“Agricultural product export turnover to the Middle East could reach over US$10 billion,” he said.

The ministry has carried out extensive research into the Middle East, especially Iran. They will speed up the process, expecting to earn about US$2 billion from Iran. 

Cuong urged businesses to improve the management, technology and quality of the products. He also encouraged farmers to collaborate to set up co-operatives for different products.

Vietnam’s export turnover of agriculture, aquaculture and forestry products was valued at US$32 billion last year. Statistics from the Ministry of Industry and Trade show that trade turnover with the Middle East had been on the rise in recent years. 
Last year, total turnover reached US$10.9 billion, double that of 2011. Import turnover was US$2.8 billion and export turnover US$8.1 billion.

Domestic maker exports mooncakes to US, China

Mooncakes under Mondelez Kinh Do’s brands have been exported to the US and China so far this year for the upcoming Mid-Autumn Festival.

A representative from Mondelez Kinh Do said Kinh Do mooncakes have been exported to the US for several years and this year they hit retail shelves in the US in late August to serve Asian customers in the Mid-Autumn Festival.

This is the second year Mondelez Kinh Do exports mooncakes to China. This year, the mooncakes called Oreo have hit retail shelves in China.

For domestic market, the company supplies 84 kinds of mooncakes with different flavours. Average prices for a traditional cake is VND40,000-470,000 and  VND600,000-VND3.2 million for a cake of best quality.

Mondelez Kinh Do Vietnam is a new brand company between the two confectionery makers, Mondelēz International and Kido Group.

Binh Duong urges investment in hi-tech fields
     
The southern province of Binh Duong will focus on the attraction of investment in hi-tech industries that are less labour intensive and more environmentally friendly.

The statement was made by Tran Thanh Liem, chairman of Binh Duong People’s Committee, at his meeting with James Ha, chairman of South Korea-based Sae-A Group, held in Binh Duong on Tuesday. Besides the existing industrial parks, Binh Duong Province plans to establish new industrial zones to welcome investment from foreign investors, Liem said, adding that by 2020, 14,000ha will be utilised for industrial parks in the province.

Binh Duong will also develop a number of specific beneficial policies related to administrative procedures, land and facility construction to attract foreign investment, with the expectation that enterprises will continue to invest and expand their production, contributing to economic development of the locality, Liem said.

The province expects to receive feedback and sincere comments from enterprises on issues related to business operation to make reasonable adjustments and avoid difficulties and obstructions in the investment progress, he said.

Speaking at the meeting, James Ha said that at present, Sae-A group has more than 70,000 employees, of which nearly 19,000 are working in Viet Nam.

The group currently operates in the field of textile and garments, however, Ha said, the group plans to expand its investment into electronics and hi-tech in the future.

According to the provincial People’s Committee, South Korea is Binh Duong’s third-largest investor after Taiwan, China and Singapore, with 619 projects valued at more than US$2.69 billion.

In the first months of 2017, many South Korean investors continued to pour investment capital into Binh Duong with 16 new projects and 17 projects registered to increase capital, amounting to total investment of $306 million. 

Top Asia-Pacific reps to mull small business help
     
The 24th APEC Small and Medium Enterprises Ministerial Meeting (SMEMM) and related meetings, scheduled to take place in HCM City from September 10-15, are expected to enhance the competitiveness and creative capacity of micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in the digital era.

The event will create valuable opportunities for businesses to exchange effective cooperation ideas in the context of globalisation and integration, said Ho Sy Hung, Director of the Enterprise Development Agency under the Ministry of Planning and Investment at a press conference in Ha Noi on Tuesday.

Ministers will discuss measures to facilitate business access to markets and deeper engagement in global value chains; enable MSMEs to get access to new technologies, improve management capacity, and increase their competitive edge; and promote entrepreneurship and business ethics.

They are also expected to adopt a number of documents, including a declaration on promoting start-up businesses, and a strategy developing green, sustainable and innovative SMEs.

A series of related meetings will take place during the event such as the 45th APEC Small and Medium-sized Enterprise Working Group Meeting, APEC Online to Offline (O2O) Forum, APEC Startup Forum, and Forum on APEC Digital Economy.

Established in 1989, APEC comprises 21 economies, including Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, the US and Viet Nam.

Viet Nam joined APEC in 1998. SMEs employ more than 50 per cent of the workforce and contribute over 40 per cent of the GDP in Viet Nam.

HCM City sees retail sales boom during National Day holiday
     
Supermarkets and shopping malls as well as traditional markets in HCM City saw a strong uptick in sales during the National Day holidays, which this year lasted from September 2 to 4.

Co.opmart outlets on Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Ly Thuong Kiet, Dinh Tien Hoang, and Binh Trieu and Co.opXtra were crowded from September 1.

Do Quoc Huy, marketing director of Saigon Co.op, which owns the chain, said sales had been up 40 per cent from normal while footfall had doubled.

Fresh and processed foodstuffs and beverages were the top sellers, while sales of household utensils and clothes increased slightly.

Huynh Kim Thu Thuy, director of Co.opmart Dinh Tien Hoang, said the supermarket had increased stocks by 15-20 per cent and kept adding them to ensure there was no short supply.

It had also increased the number of checkout counters, she said.

Programmes to promote consumption of Vietnamese goods launched by many retailers on the occasion greatly contributed to higher sales.

Saigon Co.op has for instance launched the “Tu hao hang Viet” (Proud of Vietnamese Goods) programme, its largest promotion of the year, offering discounts of up to 50 per cent on thousands of products, hundreds of valuable gifts and many times higher points that normal.

Big C, which offered discounts of up to 50 per cent on more than 1,000 essential products during the holidays, said sales had risen by more than 30 per cent.

Fresh and processed foods, beers and other beverages were among the bestsellers, the supermarket said.

Ho Quoc Nguyen, public relations manager at Big C, said stocks had been increased by 30 per cent for the holidays.

The number of customers was up strongly thanks to the promotion programme and also daily entertainment activities held at its outlets, he said.

Sales also doubled at Lotte Mart supermarket, with processed products, seafood, beers and soft drinks being the biggest sellers.

A large number of people visited the Phu Tho Indoor Stadium for the 2017 Sales Promotion Fair, where Vietnamese goods were promoted.

According to the city Department of Industry and Trade, sales at the fair had been higher than expected thanks to many companies offering discounts of up to 49 per cent on products such as food, fashion, electronics and others, with fashion products being the most popular.

At traditional markets like Tan Dinh, Ba Chieu and Thi Nghe, business was slightly better than on normal days, with fresh and processed foods and beverages being the biggest sellers.

With supply being abundant, prices were steady during the holidays.

On September 4-5, sales of fruits, flowers and vegetarian foods at traditional markets increased sharply as customers shopped for the occasion of the full moon. 

Vietnam, Laos sign cooperation deal in agriculture, forestry for 2017-18

The agriculture ministers of Vietnam and Laos signed a cooperation agreement on agriculture, forestry, fisheries, and rural development in 2017-2018 at a meeting in Hanoi on September 5.

Vietnam’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Xuan Cuong and Laos’ Minister for Agriculture and Forestry Liane Thykeo co-chaired the annual event on bilateral agro-forestry-fisheries ties. 

Under the agreement, the two countries will focus on cooperating in science-technology and human resources training. The two sides will also increase trade promotion of Vietnamese and Lao agro-forestry products.

They agreed to promote investment, production and processing cooperation programmes in agriculture and forestry while removing difficulties for Vietnamese firms to expand investment in manufacturing activities in Laos.

Minister Cuong particularly underlined a joint programme on cattle breeding development, which he said is important to both Vietnam and Laos, and expected to be a breakthrough in agricultural development.

At the meeting, the two ministers also reviewed the implementation of the agreement signed between Vietnamese and Lao governments in agriculture and rural development in 2016-2017.

In the period, the two countries actively coordinated to carry out projects using non-refundable aid of the Vietnamese government for the Lao counterpart.

Specifically, an agricultural technical service centre in the north-eastern province of Xiangkhouang, built with total investment of 35.6 billion VND (1.5 million USD), was put into operation in December 2016.

The construction of a similar centre in the Laos’ eastern province of Houaphanh was launched in February 2017.

The two sides also held regular visits by high-level delegations, experts and technicians to share experience in agriculture, forestry, water resources, agricultural encouragement, and food safety.

The Vietnamese ministry pledged to support Laos to develop rural areas and diversify goods production, as the Lao side said the country is concentrating on developing production of agro-forestry-fishery products and building new rural areas.

Petrol price continues rising slightly

The Ministries of Industry and Trade, and Finance decided to raise the retail price of RON 92 petrol by 306 VND to maximum 17,792 VND (78 US cents) per litre from 3pm on September 5.

The price of E5 bio-fuel also rose by 285 VND to a maximum of 17,539 VND per litre, while the prices of diesel and kerosene up 155 VND and 149 VND to 13,950 VND a litre and 12,547 VND a litre, respectively.

Meanwhile, the maximum price of mazut was 11,148 VND per kilogram, an increase of 43 VND.

The average global price of RON 92 during the last 15 days prior to September 5 was 65.827 USD per barrel, while the figures for diesel 0.05S and kerosene were 63.823 USD and 63.547 USD per barrel, respectively.

An Giang earns over 500 million USD from export in 8 months

The Mekong Delta province of An Giang earned 506.3 million USD in the past eight months, up 6.5 percent year on year, fulfilling 61.7 percent of the yearly plan, reported the provincial Department of Industry and Trade.

The high result was mostly due to growth in exports of rice and frozen tra fish. In the reviewed time, the province shipped abroad 243,400 tonnes of rice for 112.6 million USD, equal to 92.7 percent of the revenue in the same period last year.  

The province raked in 156.5 million USD for selling 81,300 tonnes of aquatic products.

At the same time, An Giang also earned 64 million USD in exports of garment and textile, up 2.9 percent year on year.

Vo Nguyen Nam, Director of the An Giang Department of Industry and Trade said that the province will continue providing local firms with market information, especially developments and policies of the Chinese market, while removing obstacles facing enterprises in case of negative developments in the markets.

The province will also provide early forecast on the demand and prices of major export products, thus helping local businesses design production plans, he added.

Vinacomin mines 24.58 million tonnes of coal in 8 months

The Vietnam National Coal and Mineral Industries Group (Vinacomin) has produced 24.58 million tonnes of coal in the first eight months of the year, accounting for 68.3 percent of the annual plan.

Of the total output, 21.38 million tonnes were consumed domestically while 866,000 tonnes were exported, raking in over 35.3 trillion VND (1.55 billion USD) in revenue.

In September, the group plans to mine 2 million tonnes of coal and sell 2.5 million tonnes, including 2.34 million tonnes in the domestic market and 155,000 tonnes for export.

Building a production and business plan for 2018 in accordance with the market demand and rational inventory balance will be the main target of the group. Vinacomin will pay due attention to its restructuring, with a focus placed on renovating techniques and technologies, organisation and management system, finance and workforce.

In addition, Vinacomin will also tighten management of natural resources and product quality, and join hands with local authorities to prevent coal losses.

Ho Chi Minh City’s economy on steady growth track

Ho Chi Minh City’s economy continued its steady growth in the first eight months this year, said the municipal authorities during a working session reviewing the city’s performance in the period on September 5. 

Speaking at the event, Director of the municipal Department of Planning and Investment Su Ngoc Anh said the total retail value rose 10.3 percent annually to surpass 599.1 trillion VND (26 billion USD) during the period. The total export is estimated at 22.8 billion USD, up 13.6 percent while the industrial production index went up 7.31 percent. 

Four key industries, namely mechanical engineering, electronics, chemicals – rubber – plastics, and food processing, continued expanding their markets. Investment in advanced equipment to improve quality and competitiveness surged 11.8 percent year-on-year. 

Since early this year, the city has granted licences to 26,614 new firms with a total registered capital of over 358.89 trillion VND, marking 13.1 percent and 82.9 increases in the number of businesses and registered capital, respectively. 

Up to 1,171 business households have switched their status to businesses. Meanwhile, the total foreign direct investment attraction hit 3.23 billion USD, representing a 1.57-fold increase annually. 

Anh attributed the growth to the city’s support in delivering innovation, improving the business climate and refining start-up ecology. At the same time, the city has also facilitated technological transfer in agriculture to produce safe and quality farm produce. 

The total agro-forestry-fisheries value was estimated at over 7.63 trillion VND, up 6.5 percent on the yearly basis. 

Director of the municipal Department of Finance Phan Thi Thang said the city collected in excess of 224 trillion VND to the State budget, or 64.39 percent of the estimate and up 11.47 percent from the same period last year. The total spending stood at 33.58 trillion VND, or 47.54 percent of the estimate and up 20.64 percent. 

Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee Nguyen Thanh Phong took the occasion to request agencies concerned to continue perfecting start-up ecology, encouraging innovation and improving the business climate.

Binh Duong calls for investment in less labour-intensive industries

The southern province of Binh Duong will focus on attracting investment in hi-tech, less labour-intensive and environmentally friendly industries in the time ahead.

Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Tran Thanh Liem made the remark while meeting with CEO of the Republic of Korea (RoK)’s Sae-A group James Ha on September 5.

Liem noted his province will enlarge existing industrial parks and build new ones to welcome more foreign investors, thus expanding the total industrial park area to 14,000ha by 2020.

It is going to devise a number of concrete policies to attract foreign investment, hoping that foreign firms will step up operations in Binh Duong and help fuel local economic growth.

The provincial People’s Committee, departments and sectors are ready to provide favourable conditions in terms of administrative procedures, land and factory construction so as to give investors the best possible business environment, he said.

The official added Binh Duong also wants to receive sincere feedback on relevant issues from entrepreneurs in order to make appropriate adjustments.

For his part, James Ha said more than 7,000 of his group’s 19,000 employees in Vietnam are working in Binh Duong. Sae-A is currently concentrating on apparel production, but it intends to expand investment to electronics and high technology, which suits the local industrial development orientation.

According to the Binh Duong administration, the RoK is the third biggest foreign investor in the province, following China’s Taiwan and Singapore, with 619 projects worth over 2.69 billion USD in total. RoK investors have invested 306 million USD in 16 new projects and 17 existing ones so far this year.

Can Tho eyes partnership with Japan tourism agency

The Mekong Delta city of Can Tho wants to establish a strategic partnership with the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO)’s Vietnam office to attract more Japanese tourists to the city, said an official of the city.

Vice Chairman of the Can Tho People’s Committee Truong Hoai Nam made the proposal during a working session with Takahashi Ayumi, head of the JNTO’s Vietnam office, on September 9.

Nam said while Can Tho is a socio-economic hub of the Mekong Delta region, the number of tourists visiting the city is low compared to other localities in the region. Therefore, the city wants to cooperate with other partners to give a boost to the tourism sector. 

The official also noted that the number of Japanese tourists visiting the Mekong Delta, including Can Tho, has to date increased nearly 10 percent from last year. He attributed the outcome to effective collaboration to promote tourism and tourist exchanges between the sides.

For his part, Takahashi Ayumi said Vietnam-Japan political relationship is at its best ever since it was established in 1973, thus opening up cooperation opportunities across multiple fields, including tourism.

He unveiled that JNTO Vietnam has planned a number of promotion events to introduce the Japanese tourism market to Vietnamese while helping Vietnam promote tourism in Japan. 

The agency will also work with the Japanese Embassy in Vienam to organize more international cultural events, and lobby for easing Japan’s visa policy for Vietnamese tourists, among others.

Takahashi asked the Can Tho authorities to consider opening more air routes from Can Tho to Japanese major cities to facilitate travel between the sides.

According to JNTO’s statistics, Vietnamese visitors to Japan saw strong growth in the past 5 years. In the first 6 months of 2017, over 234,000 Vietnamese travelled to Japan, up 28 percent compared to the same period last year. Vietnamese were also among top spenders in Japan with an average spending of 237,000 JPY ( 2,166 USD) per person per trip.

Vietjet carries 260,000 passengers during holiday

The low-cost airline Vietjet Air operated about 1,500 flights, serving nearly 260,000 passengers during the National Day holiday (September 2-4).

The number of Vietjet Air’s passengers this holiday increased 27 percent year-on-year, with punctuality rate reaching 88.3 percent.

The airline also launched various programmes during its flights, such as presenting gifts and domestic flight tickets to customers.

On the occasion, the carrier announced a new route from Ho Chi Minh City to Jakarta (Indonesia) and opened the Hanoi – Yangon (Myanmar) route.

Currently, Vietjet Air boasts a fleet of 45 aircraft, including A320s and A321s, and runs over 350 flights per day. It currently operates 73 routes in Vietnam and across the region to Singapore, the Republic of Korea, China, Thailand, Indonesia, Myanmar, Malaysia and Cambodia.

Public disagree with toll cut of controversial BOT tollbooth

The Ministry of Transport, the People’s Committee of the Mekong Delta province of Tien Giang and investors yesterday met and agreed to cut down tolls for all vehicles through controversial Cai Lay BOT (Build-Operate-Transfer) tollbooth.

However, the toll cut has yet to reach public expectation while the BOT tollbooth has continued halting operation to wait for decision from the Ministry of Transport.

Specifically, the toll will decrease from VND35,000 to VND25,000 for group 1 including less than 12 seater vehicles, less than two ton trucks and buses; from VND50,000 to VND35,000 for group 2 comprising 12-30 seater vehicles, 2-4 ton trucks; from VND60,000 to VND40,000 for group 3 including 31 seater and wider vehicles, 4-10 ton trucks.

The toll will be slashed from VND100,000 to VND70,000 for Group 4 of 10-18 ton trucks and 20 feet container trucks; from VND180,000 to 140,000 for group 5 of 18 ton and heavier trucks and 40 feet container lorries.

The new toll levels will be applied from August 21, 2017.

Owners of vehicles in Groups 1 and 2 who are permanent residents in Phu Nhuan, My Thanh Nam, Binh Phu and Phu An communes in Cai Lay district can travel through the tollgate free of charge. They must not do transport business to enjoy the fee exemption.

The remaining vehicles in the four communes and buses operating in Tien Giang province will see 50 percent reduction. The toll exemption and cut will be effective before September 10 this year.

After knowing the information, drivers and transport firms in the Mekong Delta have disagreed with the toll reduction, saying that the tollbooth should be placed in 12 kilometer Cai Lay bypass road not National Highway 1A where vehicles have already paid road maintenance fee.

A transport expert said that Cai Lay bypass road is separated from another project to fortify road face along 26.5 kilometers of National Highway 1 although they were built by the same investor.

Specifically, the Ministry of Transport permitted the investor to set up the investment project of a road bypassing Cai Lay town on July 28, 2009 at Decision 2174.

The ministry made Decision 3054 to approve the investment project, the bypass’ outline and survey estimates on October 20, 2009.

Meanwhile, the Directorate for Roads of Vietnam Road sent Statement No.95 on developing a bypass of National Highway 1A and fortifying the highway face in Cai Lay town under BOT form on December 4, 2013.

Afterwards, the ministry made Decision 4173 to approve the bypass and road face reinforcement project. So the road face fortifying was just a pretext for the investor to place the BOT tollbooth in the national highway, said the expert.

Replying to the press, the Ministry of Transport still affirmed that the tollbooth position is in accordance with the law.

Citing Circular 159 by the Ministry of Finance that toll stations must be built in the scope of projects, Mr. Nguyen Danh Huy, head of Public Private Partnership Projects Management Board under the Ministry of Transport said that Cai Lay tollbooth locates within the scope of the project.

Expenses for Long Thanh Airport’s land clearance compensation rise

The People’s Committee of Dong Nai province yesterday had a working session with authorities of Long Thanh district to discuss and make the final decision about land clearance compensation and resettlement assistance of Long Thanh International Airport project.

Accordingly, total capital for the clearance compensation, building resettlement areas is estimated to be up to VND 23 trillion, an increase of VND 33 billion compared with the general estimation issued 6 months ago. Of these, VND 4 trillion will use for building two resettlement areas for 4,300 residents of the Long Thanh district.

According to Mr. Nguyen Ngoc Hung, Vice Director of Natural Resources and Environment Department of Dong Nai province, the fund for clearance, properties and plants compensation has been sharply increased up to VND 500 billion.

Today, the working delegation of Dong Nai province has a working session with the Ministries of Planning and Investment, Finance, Natural Resources and Environment to agree the feasibility study report before submitting for the Prime Minister’s approval.  

More overseas Vietnamese companies invest in SHTP

Three overseas Vietnamese enterprises in the US have been granted with investment certificates in Saigon Hi-Tech Park (SHTP) in HCMC, which is an initial result from an investment promotion trip by SHTP management board to the country this year.

Three projects include US$215 million KNT Asia, $27 million Onsky Asia and $1 million Reqes software development center.

The certificates have recently granted at a ceremony in the US with the attendance by the representative of the Consulate General of Vietnam in San Francisco.

Head of SHTP management board Le Hoai Quoc welcomed the three new investors, once again introduced that Saigon Silicon City (SSC) in SHTP is the place which HCMC reserves for overseas Vietnamese businesses and committed to strongly supporting companies during operation.

During the trip, the board also witnessed a cooperation signing ceremony between Allied Telesis and SSC to develop a $50 million smart operation center in SSC. This is estimated to be a landmark in the development of SSC and a premise for SHTP to create breakthrough in the near future.

After the two events, many overseas Vietnamese companies have contacted the management board to discuss investment in SHTP and SSC.

HoREA petitions to support low-income buyers

The Ho Chi Minh City Real Estate Association (HoREA) petitioned the State Bank of Vietnam to offer housing credit stimulus package to directly support buyers of social and commercial houses with the price of VND1 billion ($43,986).
 
In its document to the bank to give the feedback on amendment for the circular 36/2014, HoREA urged the bank to offer the credit package soon to help low-cost apartments. As per the HoREA’s petition, when housing market was frozen in 2008-2009 and 2011-2013, the inventories and bad debt in the sector were serious.

The VND30 trillion (US$1.32 billion) housing credit package, which the Government has provided for low income people has helped reducing inventories and clearing bad debt. Thanks to the package, 56,000 beneficiaries have bought their own houses.

Accordingly, HoREA petitioned the bank to continue offering a such credit package.
In its opinion on amendment, HoREA said that the continuance of mid-term and long-term loans until 2018 will be a boost in supporting the economy’s growth because real estate markets is one of sector which boosts huge consumption.

Mining industry indicator continues to dip

Even though mining industry plays a pivotal role in the country’s economy, the industry dipped in two years because of difficult exploitation and dependence on world markets.
 
The mining production indicator in August has seen a year-on-year rise of 8.4 percent.

Amongst them, the mining sector dropped by 5 percent; the manufacturing sector increased by 12.4 percent; electricity production and distribution soared by 9.6 percent; and water supply and waste treatment sector leaped by 7.3 percent.

In eight months of the year, the industry production indicator represented a 6.7 percent year-on-year rise, 7.2 percent lower than the same period last year. For instance, mining sector dipped by 4.8 percent; meanwhile process sector increased by 10.4 percent; electricity production and distribution soared by 12.3 percent and water supply and waste treatment sector is up by 6.8 percent.

Accordingly, the manufacturing sector rose by 10.8 percent contributing 7.5 percentage point to the general increase; electricity production and distribution was up by 8.6 percent attributing 0.6 percentage point to the whole.

Amongst second level industries, metal production, computer and electronic product manufacturing, rubber and plastic product production, paper and paper product rose. Meantime, medical, pharmaceutical and herbal sector fell by 2.1 percent and crude oil and natural gas exploitation dipped by 10.1 percent.

Amongst localities, the northern province of Hai Phong has drastic growth of20.6 percent in industry indicator in eight months compared to same period followed by the northern province of Thai Nguyen with 18.1 percent; Bac Ninh with 14.1 percent and Ho Chi Minh City with 7.3 percent.

LHG issues 1.3mln shares to invest in Long Hau 3 industrial park

Long Hau Joint Stock Company (LHG) will issue 1.3 million shares at a cost of VND 13,000 per share for its current shareholders.

Total revenue from selling shares will be used for land clearance compensation work of Long Hai 3 Industrial Park project.

The park covers an area of 124 hectares with total investment capital up to VND 1,1trillion. It is expected to be completed and put into operation in the 4th quarter of 2019.

For the first half this year, LHG said it profited VND 26.7billion, decrease of 31 percent compared with the same period last year.

SVC sets revenue target at VND 14,5trln

The Sai Gon General Service Corp (Savico- SVC) shareholders have just approved the plan to distribute 12 percent dividend payment rate in 2016.

As plan, SVC will close the shareholder list for this payout on September 15 and is planning a cash dividend payout at a ratio of 12 percent.

The 12 percent dividend is estimated to pay on September 27.

In 2017, SVC said the revenue target will reach at VND 14,5trillion, pre-tax & after-tax profit at VND 250billion and VND 200 billion respectively.

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.

CII to spend VND3.4 trillion on infrastructure projects

HCMC Infrastructure Investment JSC (CII) plans to spend VND3.4 trillion on infrastructure and real estate projects in the next three years.

Between 2018 and 2020, CII will pour VND3.4 trillion into some of its key projects, including VND1.64 trillion for infrastructure projects and VND1.76 trillion for the property segment, the company said in a statement sent to investors on August 29.

The company will invest VND300 billion in the second stage of the Binh Trieu road and bridge project and VND520 billion to expand Hanoi Highway. In addition, CII will purchase shares at potential projects and companies where it has yet to become a major investor.

According to CII, mergers and acquisitions (M&A) projects will help it secure long-term growth and raise holdings at large projects such as the Trung Luong-My Thuan Expressway. CII will focus on the Mekong Delta and HCMC, where it has developed a solid portfolio of build-operate-transfer (BOT) projects.

For the property sector, CII will invest VND950 billion in Thu Thiem Riverpark high-class condo project in cooperation with Hong Kong Land. Besides, it will develop a high-rise building project with a total cost of VND310 billion.

At the Thu Thiem area in HCMC’s District 2, CII will develop a lake project and get more land there in exchange.

Meanwhile, CII will focus on its existing water supply projects, especially the key ones such as Tan Hiep 2 and Cu Chi. In the next three years, however, the firm will not invest in new water supply projects or conduct M&A deals with water supply companies.

To mobilize capital for the scheme, CII will issue additional shares for existing shareholders at a 2-for-1 ratio within this year. It expects to sell the shares at VND15,000 each, raising VND1.85 trillion.

Besides, CII will use its own equity and take out loans worth VND1.55 trillion. It targets to obtain nearly VND1.5 trillion in revenue next year and VND2 trillion in 2020 while its profit growth is estimated at 18% a year during the period.

Regarding risks at BOT projects, CII general director Le Quoc Binh said the firm has stopped seeking investment opportunities at small BOT projects since 2015. It is difficult to find out a profitable BOT project due to sensitive issues at present.

CII will concentrate on large BOT projects with investment capital from VND10 trillion as their scale and procedures are different from small ones, he said.

Price of material shrimp increases in August

Price of material shrimp, especially tiger prawn, was on the rise in August, said the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. 

The surge is attributed to increasing demand of aquatic product processing plants due to a shortage of material shrimp.

In Bac Lieu, for example, the price of tiger prawn rose 20,000 VND against last month to 215,000 VND while that of white leg shrimp slightly climbed 1,000-3,000 VND to 130,000 VND per kilo.

Raining in August made a huge change in pond temperature, resulting in a drop in salinity level. Sudden change of weather also weakened shrimp’s resistance and growth. 

However, local authorities have increased monitoring of breeding facilities and warning of diseases on aquatic products, ensuring stable growth of brackish water shrimp. 

Breeding areas for brackish water shrimp nationwide reached more than 679,000ha in eight months, a rise of 4.2 percent year-on-year. Meanwhile, white-leg shrimp farms covered 63,000ha and that of tiger prawn was 580,900ha.

Over 12,400 new firms set up in August

As many as 12,404 new enterprises were set up in August with total capital of 131 trillion VND (5.76 billion USD), up 6.2 percent in volume and 39 percent in value, reported the General Statistics Office (GSO).

In the first eight months of this year, 85,357 firms were established with combined capital of 822 trillion VND (36.16 billion USD), up 16 percent and 44.8 percent over the same period last year, respectively.

Total capital pumped into the economy in the period was 1,930 trillion VND (84.92 billion USD), including 1,108 trillion VND added to nearly 24,700 existing firms.

The GSO revealed that 19,154 enterprises resumed their operation, an increase of 2.4 percent year on year.

Wholesale and retail sector drew the largest new businesses with 30,700 firms, followed by construction sector with 11,000 enterprises and processing-manufacturing sector, 11,000 firms.

In eight months, the northern midland and mountainous regions saw the highest rise in new firms, with 3,700 enterprises, up 31.8 percent, and the Central Highlands region, with 2,200 firms, a rise of 25.4 percent.

The GSO also reported that the number of dissolved enterprises in eight months were 7,754, an increase of 3.7 percent year on year, including 7,146 firms with capital of 10 billion VND, accounting for 92.2 percent.

At the same time, 45,776 firms halted their operation, a rise of 13.3 percent, including 28,545 enterprises waiting for dissolving.

Vietnamese company installs equipment in Brunei

Lilama 69-2 Company, a subsidiary of the Lilama Corporation, has completed the installation of its equipment at an Air Liquide plant in Kuala Belait, Brunei.

This is the first equipment installation project of Lilama 69-2 overseas.

To date, all equipment of the production line has been installed at the plant. A system comprising of five storage tanks for liquid Argon (LAR) and two tanks for liquid Nitrogen (LIN) has been completed. Meanwhile, pipeline and measurement system installation is underway.

Lilama 69-2 is scheduled to finish the whole project in October for the operation of the plant.

Air Liquide is one of the traditional partners of Lilama 69-2. The two sides have signed many contracts related to production line installation of the Brunei company’s plants in Vietnam.

After the completion of this project, Lilama 69-2 will continue its work in other plants of Air Liquide in Brunei and Singapore.

Bargasse-based electricity a possibility

The Vietnam Sugarcane and Sugar Association (VSSA) hopes to set up power plants that run on sugarcane by-products.

VSSA Chairman Pham Quoc Doanh said at the fifth annual International Sugarcane Conference recently held in the central province of Binh Thuan, that Vietnam’s 41 sugar factories annually produced up to 4.5 million tonnes of bagasses, the fibrous remains after the juice is extracted from the cane. He said this could generate up to 1.4 billion kilowatts of electricity per year.

By 2020, the country will produce about 20 million tonnes of sugarcane which can turn out 2,400 megawatts of electricity.

Doanh said that if Vietnam could manage to process these sugar by-products, they should eventually produce 10 percent of the national electricity turnover. Countries within the Asia Pacific region, such as Brazil, Thailand or the Philippines, have successfully used bagasse to generate electricity. 

Electricity generated by bagasse is a clean alternative source which lessens dependence on thermal power or fossil fuels and help reduce hydro power plant production during the dry season.

Pham Hong Duong, Chairman of TTC Bien Hoa Sugar Corporation, told the conference that the price difference between bagasse-based electricity in Vietnam and Thailand and the Philippines was the main reason why not many power plants have invested in this form of energy.

According to Duong, the current price for each kilowatt of electricity generated by bagasse in Vietnam is roughly 0.05 USD, while the same amount costs 0.11 USD in Thailand and 0.13 USD in the Philippines.

The conference, held in Phan Thiet city, was co-organised by the VSSA and TTC Group.

Dong Nai records 1.4 billion USD trade surplus in eight months

The southern province of Dong Nai enjoyed a trade surplus of nearly 1.4 billion USD in the first eight months of the year, according to the provincial Statistics Office.

In the eight-month period, the province shipped nearly 11 billion USD worth of products to foreign countries, a year-on-year increase of 11 percent.

The trade surplus was contributed by key staples like footwear (1.9 billion USD, up 9.4 percent), garments (over 1 billion USD, up 8.2 percent) and wooden furniture (722 million USD, up 12.3 percent).

The provincial People’s Committee said that the footwear sector has witnessed the highest export turnover in the past years. Foreign direct investment (FDI) companies like Changsin, Taekwang Vina and Pouchen have enjoyed sound and stable growth. They are committing to raising production capacity to meet orders from the world’s big footwear brands in the coming time.

Despite facing fierce competition with Chinese, Indian and Bangladeshi enterprises, Vietnamese garment businesses still ensure stable orders thanks to their prestige and product quality.

Regarding wooden products, numerous firms have sought new markets while taking advantage of the free trade agreements signed with the Republic of Korea and Japan to boost their exports.

Meanwhile, several products saw high export growth like fibre (795 million USD, up 25.6 percent), machines and equipment (670 million USD, up 22.9 percent), computers and electronic products (318 million USD, up 22.8 percent).

High export prices of agricultural products also contributed to the province’s export revenue.

The largest importers of Dong Nai goods in the period were the US with revenue of 2.54 billion USD, China with 944 million USD and Japan with 934 million USD.

Gov’t cuts inspections on some imports

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has issued a decision repealing a list of 114 products and goods subject to pre-import quality inspection, cutting inspections on these products from two times to one.

The list was issued by then-PM Nguyen Tan Dung on March 7, 2006.

The repeal will take effect from October 5, 2017, aiming to reduce customs clearance time spent on these 114 products, which currently undergo two inspections, before and after they are officially imported.

This move is expected to aid businesses as well as consumers. The listed products will now only be inspected once they’ve already been imported.

The goods, which will no longer receive pre-import quality inspections, include medical equipment and facilities, vaccines, aquaculture feed, instant seafood products, pesticides, fertilisers, veterinary drugs and raw materials for veterinary medicine and animal feed.

The list also contains protective helmets for motorcyclists, children’s helmets, kettles, irons, electric cookers, electric ovens, electric pans, electric grills and toys for children under 36 months of age.

Some types of explosive products, explosion-proof equipment used in mining, cranes, construction machines for traffic works, tractors, some types of cement products, reinforced concrete beams, industrial safety helmets, insulated gloves, elevators and escalators will also no longer be inspected twice.

Vietnamese firm starts building fish trawler for Canada

Ha Long Shipbuilding Co., Ltd held a keel-laying ceremony on August 31 to mark the start of the construction of a fishing trawler for Hill Enterprises from Canada.

The ship for offshore fishing will be 29m in length, 10m wide and 5m high, following Canada’s and international fishing vessel safety regulations.

It will have special equipment for locating fish and a cold cellar for fish storage.

It will be the first fishing vessel Ha Long Shipbuilding Company builds for a Canadian partner. 

August retail sales in huge surge

Vietnam’s total revenue from retail sales and services reached 2.58 quadrillion VND (114.7 billion USD) in the first eight months of this year, a year on year increase of 10.3 percent, reported the General Statistics Office (GSO).

The figure amounted to an 8.9 percent increase, excluding the price factor, the highest rise recorded since the beginning of this year, said GSO domestic trade expert Vu Manh Ha, adding that the figure was also higher than 8.5 percent growth of the same period last year.

Ha attributed the growth in purchasing power to surges in demand for accommodation and catering services after high school graduation and university examinations as well in essential goods for the new school year which starts in September.

Recovery in revenue from accommodation and catering services in four central provinces – Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Tri and Thua Thien-Hue – after last year’s environmental disaster caused by Formosa also contributed to the retail sales increase, he said. 

From January to August, revenue of retail sales reached 1.93 quadrillion VND (86.1 billion USD), accounting for three quarters of total revenue, a yearly rise of 10.3 percent. Sectors posting significant growth included textile and garments, up 14 percent; equipment and home appliances, up 11.6 percent; food and foodstuff, up 10.6 percent; and transportation, up 7.6 percent.

Revenue from accommodation and catering services stood at 318 trillion VND (14.1 billion USD), an increase of 11.3 percent against the figure in the same period last year.

Meanwhile, the tourism sector experienced a revenue increase of 11 percent year-on-year in the first eight months to 23.1 trillion VND (1.26 billion USD), with several localities witnessing significant growth, such as the northern province of Bac Giang with 25.1 percent; the central province of Khanh Hoa (23 percent); HCM City (12.2 percent) and the southern province of Ba Ria – Vung Tau (12 percent).

The Association of Vietnam Retailers has forecast that the country’s retail turnover will rise to 179 billion USD by 2020.

Vietnam-Australia trade rises 4.7 percent each year: MoIT

Six years after implementing the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Area, trade between Vietnam and Australia has increased 4.7 percent each year on average, according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT).

Last year, trade between the two countries reached 5.26 billion USD, up 6.5 percent from 2015, with Vietnam’s trade surplus sitting at 480 million USD.

During a conference held by the Department of Asian Market on August 31, the MoIT said that Australia has high demand for goods from Asia-Pacific and has become an important market for Vietnam.

Popular Vietnamese exports to Australia include aquatic products, consumer goods, apparel, footwear and wooden products due to preferential tax deals in the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Area, added the ministry.

HCM City calls for foreign investments

Ho Chi Minh City authorities, on August 31, held a meeting with foreign consuls general in the city to discuss orientations to develop the southern metropolis and joint works to increase foreign capital.

Speaking at the function, Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee Nguyen Thanh Phong stated HCM City is committed to improving the local business climate to welcome long-term operations of foreign investors.

Phong said the city wants to learn from experience of cities around the world in terms of growth and living quality, asking participating consuls general to share initiatives and collaboration to help tackle the municipal development challenges.

HCM City leaders presented the hub’s master planning for growth by 2020 and nine major projects as well as its progress of becoming a smart city.

They expected the consuls general to become bridges connecting potential foreign investors to the city’s projects.

Singaporean Consul-General Leow Siu Liu acknowledged the city’s efforts to ensure strong development and boost people’s living standards.

Expressing her delight at the local development planning and seven breakthrough programmes for 2016-2020, she stressed the consuls general will inform business associations and firms at home on investment opportunities in the city.

At the meeting, the authorities also fielded questions by the diplomats.

In the first half of 2017, the municipal Gross Regional Domestic Product grew 7.76 percent, up 7.47 percent from the same period last year. As of August, the city recorded 22.8 billion USD in export revenue, an annual increase of 13.6 percent, and 650 new and extended FDI projects totalling 1.4 billion USD.

Hau Giang seeks capital for key investment projects

The southern province of Hau Giang will organise an investment promotion conference in the middle of September to attract investment capital for its key projects.

The information has been revealed by Truong Canh Tuyen, vice chairman of the provincial People’s Committee.

The key sectors that need investment include the infrastructure in industrial zones and complexes, the wholesale markets for farm produce, the processing and preserving systems for farm produce, the high-tech agriculture zones, and tourism.

The province leader said that the conference and the related activities, such as the trade fair, would draw the participation of some 300 investors.

On this occasion, the province will grant investment certificates to the investors, as well as sign memoranda of understanding with enterprises, Huynh Thanh Hoang, said deputy director of the provincial Department of Industry and Trade.

Currently, there are 4,200 enterprises with a total registered capital of 45 trillion VND (2 billion USD) in Hau Giang. The province has so far attracted 40 foreign and domestic investors, who have poured capital worth 760 million USD and 66.4 trillion VND, respectively, in the local industrial zones and complexes.

PV Drilling secures 6 million USD deal with KrisEnergy

The PetroVietnam Drilling & Well Service Corporation (PV Drilling) has signed a contract worth over 6 million USD to offer jack-up drilling services to Singapore-based KrisEnergy.

Accordingly, the PV Drilling I jack-up rig will be used for the exploration of six fixed and two optional wells in the Gulf of Thailand’s block G10/48, where KrisEnergy holds an effective 89% working interest in and is the operator.

The work is scheduled to start in October 2017.

The contract is the second drilling deal that PV Drilling has secured this year with foreign partners.

Previously, it served Total E&P Myanmar’s 164-day drilling campaign in blocks M5 and M6 of Myanmar’s sea.

Military Bank, VPBank to augment charter capital

The State Bank of Vietnam recently approved proposals to raise charter capital at the Military Commercial Joint Stock Bank (MB) and the Vietnam Prosperity Joint Stock Commercial Bank (VPBank).

The MB plans to augment its charter capital from nearly 17.13 trillion VND (753.72 million USD) to 18.15 trillion VND (798.6 million USD).

Meanwhile, VPBank aims to boost its charter capital from nearly 14.06 trillion VND (618.64 million USD) to 15.7 trillion VND (690.8 million USD).

The increases were agreed by MB and VPBank shareholders at their annual meetings last April.

The central bank requested MB and VPBank raise charter capital in line with legal regulations, including those on share ownership limits for shareholders.

Nearly 102,000 labourers register in August

A total of 101,700 labourers were registered at newly-established businesses in August, up 8.8 percent year-on-year, according to the General Statistics Office.

The number of workers at industrial firms also increased by 4.3 percent in August compared with the same period last year.

The number of labourers at State-owned enterprises fell by 4 percent while the figure at non-State enterprises rose by 0.9 percent and at foreign direct investment (FDI) firms, up 7.6 percent.

Last month, there were 12,404 newly-established enterprises with total registered capital at 131.4 trillion VND (5.78 billion USD), up 6.2 percent in volume and 39 percent in capital against the previous month.

Hà Nội enjoys steady growth in all key sectors

Hà Nội’s economy has expanded since the beginning of this year with steady growth recorded in all key sectors of industry, trade, tourism and services and agriculture, reported the municipal People’s Committee.

The city’s industrial production index grew 6.5 per cent in the first eight months of 2017, of which the mining industry rose 7.1 per cent. The manufacturing and processing sector expanded 6.6 per cent while electricity production and distribution registered a 6.1 per cent increase. The water supply and waste treatment sector saw growth of 3.1 per cent.

During the January-August period, Hà Nội’s export turnover enjoyed a year-on-year increase of 8.5 per cent to $7.6 billion.

Since the beginning of the year, Hà Nội has welcomed more than 2.3 million foreign visitors, up 22.7 per cent year-on-year.

The number of newly-established business in Hà Nội rose by 14 per cent to 16,714 in the first eight months of 2017, with combined registered capital of approximately VNĐ130 trillion, up 4 per cent year on year. Statistics showed that over 223,900 enterprises are operating in the capital city. In the reviewed period, some 93,000 business registration applications were submitted online.

The municipal administration has provided free consultancy for nearly 50,000 firms and individuals, both in and outside the country, who are doing business in the city. 

The city welcomed 114 non-budget investment projects, worth VNĐ71 trillion; 22 Public-Private Partnership (PPP) projects with a total investment of VNĐ60 trillion; and $1.74 billion in foreign direct investment (FDI) projects. So far, Hà Nội has had 128 PPP projects with a combined investment of VNĐ333 trillion, of which eight projects have been completed and 120 others are underway or preparing procedures.

Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee Nguyễn Đức Chung emphasised that attracting investment is a very important task for the city though many challenges remain. Hà Nội has taken a wide range of measures to create favourable conditions for investors by stepping up the application of information technology and holding dialogues with businesses to remove difficulties they face, he added.

In the remaining months, Hà Nội will focus on stimulating consumption, exchanging goods with other localities, and promoting exports while managing the domestic market and developing tourism products.

The city will approve a planning scheme for developing industrial clusters by 2020 with a vision to 2030 while calling on more investors to build local industrial parks. It will take measures to remove difficulties in terms of procedures for investors and pay attention to big domestic and foreign-invested projects so that they could be licensed in 2017.

Military Bank, VPBank to augment charter capital

The State Bank of Vietnam recently approved proposals to raise charter capital at the Military Commercial Joint Stock Bank (MB) and the Vietnam Prosperity Joint Stock Commercial Bank (VPBank).

The MB plans to augment its charter capital from nearly 17.13 trillion VND (753.72 million USD) to 18.15 trillion VND (798.6 million USD).

Meanwhile, VPBank aims to boost its charter capital from nearly 14.06 trillion VND (618.64 million USD) to 15.7 trillion VND (690.8 million USD).

The increases were agreed by MB and VPBank shareholders at their annual meetings last April.

The central bank requested MB and VPBank raise charter capital in line with legal regulations, including those on share ownership limits for shareholders.

Gov’t urges focus on transport
     
Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung has asked ministries, localities and relevant agencies to address stumbling blocks facing key transport projects in order to accelerate their progress.

Dung said some transport projects have been slowed down due to difficulties in land clearance, slow procedure completion, or inappropriate investment allocation. The delayed projects include Tan Vu-Lach Huyen road, Da Nang-Quang Ngai expressway, Ca Pass tunnel, and the HCM highway running through Central Highlands.

The Deputy Prime Minister asked the transport ministry, relevant sectors, and localities to review the documents and procedures of these projects as well as clarify authority for their completion to the National Assembly, Government, Prime Minister, sectors and localities.

Difficulties which are slowing down the projects must be reported to authorized agencies.

During the project implementation, land clearance, compensation and resettlement must be put in focus. Sectors must also step up supervision to improve projects’ quality and efficiency and reduce waste, he said.

He ordered the transport ministry to ask investors and project management boards to work closely with local authorities in project implementation, especially land clearance, and to continue to collaborate with construction ministry to control project costs.

He urged early procedure completion for key projects such as North-South expressway in the east, expansion of Tan Son Nhat Aiport and Long Thanh Aiport.

People’s committees of central-level cities have been ordered to stabilise supply and costs of materials to meet construction progress.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment is in charge of reviewing mines of construction materials to ensure their reserves. 

Vinatex visits Armenia
     
After a new trade deal, a Vietnamese company is hoping to add a new country to their roster of important trading partners: Armenia.

A delegation of the Viet Nam National Textile and Garment Group (Vinatex) has recently made a fact-finding trip to Armenia to seek partners for production projects. Viet Nam is the first country to sign a free trade agreement with the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) that includes Armenia.

Vinatex general director Le Tien Truong said that during their stay, the group’s representatives held working sessions with a deputy foreign minister, the minister of economic development and investment, and some major businesses in Yerevan, the capital city of Armenia.

He said Vinatex will consider establishing production and business cooperation with big companies in Armenia that already have distribution networks in Russia and the EU. In the initial stage, Vinatex will mainly contribute machinery and production administration.

At the meetings, the Armenian Government expressed its desire to cooperate with major firms with much experience in production management like Vinatex, so as to revive the local garment industry and boost exports.

It also promised to encourage investment, create favourable conditions for foreign investors, and provide special mechanisms for Vietnamese investors through cooperation policies, multilateral and bilateral cooperation agreements, and granting of work visas, Truong added.

According to Vinatex, 94 businesses are operating in the textiles and garment industry of Armenia. The country exported US$50 million and imported $170 million worth of textile and garment products in 2014.

Despite their small scale, Armenian firms have experience in working with big fashion brands of Italy and Germany such as La Perla, Moncler, Armani and Porsche. 

New kinds of mooncakes ready
     
A new full-moon season starts in one month and confectioneries nationwide are ready with many kinds of mooncakes with new flavours.

Along with improving product quality, companies have invested in creating new products with attractive designs and packaging.

About 50 trademarks have joined the market this year, including Mondelez Kinh Do, Thanh Long, Huu Nghi, Dong Khanh, Hy Lam Mon, ABC, Duc Phat, Tous Les Jours and Dong Khanh.

Speaking with Viet Nam News, Modelez Kinh Do said they were ready to offer 84 different kinds of mooncakes this year.

The company first launched Oreo mooncakes in 2007, which are designed based on the modern technologies of Mondelez International and Kinh Do’s traditional experiences in making mooncakes.

These Oreo moon cakes will be made for the Vietnamese and Chinese market, the company said, noting that many other products had been exported to the US.

Other companies including Bibica and Dong Khanh have also begun introducing products for the mid-autumn festival season.

In HCM City, many booths selling mooncakes from these companies can be seen throughout the city.

A representative from Bibica told Viet Nam News that the company this year would introduce 600 tonnes of mooncakes with 60 different kinds, up by 10 per cent year-on-year.

The company added that this year it would make mooncakes in a Japanese style with materials imported from other countries.

He added that the company was focusing on design and packaging as well as using healthy ingredients.

Traders have also started their full-moon season by importing a big volume of mooncakes to sell on social networks like Facebook or websites.

These mooncakes are mostly imported from Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia and Thailand.
A trader said that she started to import mooncakes from the beginning of August, and that customers had been buying the moonackes out of curiosity.

Le Thi Thanh Xuan from the Delicacy shop said that her company’s full-moon imports this year will jump by 60 per cent. Last year, they imported 1,000 boxes.

Handmade moon cakes are also in high demand.

Dinh Truc, mooncake makers in Binh Tan District, said that the company had made mooncakes for years and most of his customers prefer those shaped like one the 12 animals of the zodiac.

He has received dozens of orders from customers. This year he will design more shapes and create mooncakes, with many new flavours.

Confectioneries said the price this year had slightly increased by between 3 per cent and 5 per cent.

They attributed the price hike to the increasing income costs for power, water, human resources and transportation.

Some traders, however, said that well-designed packaging had increased the prices of the cakes.
The cost for packaging accounts for 20 per cent of the total cost, according to traders. 

New regulations on import and export
     
The Ministry of Finance has held a meeting to introduce changes in the list of Viet Nam’s export and import goods as per Circular No 65/2017 / TT-BTC.

The new circular will take effect from January 1 next year.

At the meeting on Friday, Dao Thu Huong, Deputy General Director of the General Department of Customs, said that the change focuses on a number of industries including automobile, fishery, chemicals, porcelain tiles, machinery and equipment.

The industries have had technological and commercial development so they need to have an enhancement in State management of the environment and toxic chemicals, Huong said.

Notable changes have been made in the automobile sector with an addition of new subdivisions such as electric cars, electric vehicles, gasoline-electric or oil-electric hybrid vehicles.

The machinery and equipment sector is also added new codes reflecting new technologies such as LED diodes or multi-component integrated circuit (MCO) products.

The fishery industry details the names of some types of fish, molluscs that have high trade turnover or supplements the scientific names of fish and fish by-products to facilitate the State management.

Circular No 65 also introduces a draft decree to replace Decree 122/2016/NÑ-CP on export and import tariffs, under which it proposes two import tax reduction options on automobile components.

In the first option, the ministry proposes to reduce the most favoured nation (MFN) import tax rate of 163 tariff lines for imported cars to be assembled for two groups of vehicles to zero per cent. Accordingly, the average duty rate for whole sets will be cut from 14-16 per cent to about 7 per cent for cars under nine seats and about 1 per cent for trucks under 5 tonnes.

In the second option, the MFN import tax rate of 19 tariff lines for engines, gearboxes, actuators and high pressure pumps to be assembled for two groups of vehicles will be exempted.

The import tax rate of 42 tariff lines under Group 8708 for components assembled for the two groups of vehicles above will be cut so that the average duty rate for whole sets will be cut from 14-16 per cent to about 7 per cent for cars under nine seats and about 1 per cent for trucks under 5 tonnes.

According to Huong, the tax adjustment aims to harmonise the interests of the State, enterprises and consumers besides maintaining the stable growth rate of production and assembly for vehicles under nine seats and trucks. 

Bao Viet Insurance boosts international co-operation
     
Bao Viet Insurance Corporation’s main policy this year is to strengthen co-operation with reputed international partners to provide new products and services in Viet Nam’s market.

Deputy CEO of Bao Viet Insurance Nguyen Quang Hung stated this during the launch of “One Storm” insurance product, which was introduced for the first time in Viet Nam by Munich Reinsurance Company and Bao Viet Insurance on Thursday.

According to Hung, the new product is designed to protect organisations, power plant operators, large corporations, industrial enterprises and Government agencies against losses caused by typhoons in Viet Nam, with compensation limit from VND10 billion (US$440,000) to VND100 billion per insured location.

Due to its tropical monsoon climate, Viet Nam is on the path of many major storms, which regularly cause devastating losses.

This non-traditional insurance solution is a parametric trigger typhoon risk cover, which protects fixed assets in operation or under construction, determined by the exact insured location through latitude and longitude, both onshore and offshore. Unlike traditional insurance products that only cover a policyholder’s losses following physical damage, “One Storm” claims to handle pay-outs fast and is uncomplicated in case of pre-defined triggers even without any physical damage incurred.

Risk holders can check their triggered pay-out in real time after a storm takes place at onestorm.munichre.com, with data being identified and verified by the Japanese Meteorological Agency, an independent third party.

During the ceremony on Thursday, Bao Viet Insurance also introduced another new product called Baoviet Intercare. 

Cooking gas price up VND16,000 in southern regions
     
The price of cooking gas in HCM City and the southern provinces has been raised by VND16,000 (70 US cents) for a 12kg canister with effect from September 1.

Thus, the retail price for consumers will now be VND320,000-325,000 per 12kg canister.

Gas traders said the latest hike is on account of the $50 per tonne increase in world gas price this month compared to the previous month, adding up to $490 per tonne. The price of domestic gas had to be adjusted in accordance with the global market, traders said.

With this hike, September becomes the second consecutive month to post a rise in gas prices. In August too, there had been a hike of VND27,000 per 12kg canister.

Agents, gas shops and consumers in HCM City and the southern provinces have been informed about the new rates. 

VN seafood has potential in China
     
With the largest population in the world and an increasing affluent one, China is a lucrative market for Vietnamese seafood products.

But the market also comes with potential risks and unpredictability, requiring Vietnamese firms to be cautious when exporting there, a conference heard in HCM City on August 30.

Le Hang, deputy director of the VASEP (Viet Nam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers) Training and Trade Promotion Centre, told “China Seafood Market: Potential for Viet Nam’s Suppliers” that fisheries exports to China soared from US$152 million in 2007 to $860 million last year.

Shrimp and tra fish saw the strongest increase, but continue to have the potential for double digit growth rate in the coming years, she said.

Chinese are increasingly eating more fish than meat, while local output from aquaculture and fishing is shrinking, offering Vietnamese exporters a good opportunity, she said.

But the market also has risks, she warned.

China could tighten hygiene, food safety and quarantine regulations, she said.

Yang Yong, chairman of GuangZhou Nutriera Biotechnology Co Ltd, said Chinese consumers are increasingly looking at product quality, safety and convenience.

Brands are one of the key factors for them in choosing a product, and are willing to pay 20-30 per cent more, he said.

Therefore, Vietnamese exporters could increase processing to make products more convenient or nutritious for Chinese consumers, he said.

For instance, Vietnamese firms could add vegetable extracts to tra fish to increase the omega-3 content or additives to improve flavour, he said.

Hang said Chinese consumers’ tastes change rapidly and so producers must keep a close eye on the market to come up with appropriate products.

Nguyen Phu Hoa, deputy director of the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Foreign Trade Department, said Vietnamese companies should export products that meet US and Japanese standards and have strategies to build their brands in China.

Truong Tuyet Hoa of Vinh Hoan Corporation said her company’s tra fish exports to China have increased sharply.

Chinese importers have diverse demands in all segments, and her company focuses on processed products and products with high added value, she said.

Many importers send chefs to her company’s factory to adjust the spices to make the products suitable for Chinese palates, she said.

To avoid risks, her company does not sell through the border with China and only supplies goods after getting the payment, she added.

Viet Nam shipped $749 million worth of aquatic products abroad in August, bringing the total in the first eight months of 2017 to $5.13 billion, up 18.1 per cent from the same period last year.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the largest buyers of Vietnamese aquatic products included the United States, Japan, China and the Republic of Korea, accounting for 55.6 per cent of total exports.

Export value to China showed the biggest increase of 57.2 per cent, followed by Japan (30.8 per cent), the United Kingdom (30.1 per cent), the RoK (28.8 per cent), the Netherlands (25.3 per cent) and Canada (20.7 per cent). 

MARD to get involved in promoting organic farming
     
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) should coordinate with relevant ministries to promulgate a decree on organic agriculture.

This was said by Nguyen Xuan Hong, former director of the ministry’s Plant Protection Department, at a conference on organic farming held in Ha Noi on Thursday.

The event is designed to get opinions from experts, producers and enterprises to finalise a decree on organic farming before submitting it to ministries and departments for comments. Then, it will be sent to the Government for approval.

Once issued, the decree will contribute to developing Viet Nam’s organic agriculture sector, meeting the needs of domestic and international consumers, increasing income for farmers and businesses, and creating biodiversity and sustainable landscape.

At the conference, delegates revised the TCVN 11041: 2015 national standard for the producing, processing, labeling and marketing of organic food.

Participants spoke about the strict management of production, business and the certification of organic products.

Experts encouraged enterprises to invest in producing and trading organic products, investing in the production of organic fertilisers, biological fertilisers and biological plant protection products.

Hong said it was necessary to invest in scientific and technical research, create a favourable business environment for organic enterprises, and support cooperative groups who wanted to take up organic agriculture.

MARD deputy minister Tran Thanh Nam said domestic enterprises had invested in organic farming and actively applied international standards to meet the demands of the domestic market and exports.

Currently, many types of products are labelled organic, but most do not yet meet organic standards and safety requirements, causing lack of trust by consumers.

Therefore, Nam said it was necessary to develop a legal document to facilitate the development of organic griculture.

The conference was organised by MARD, in accordance with European Trade Policy and Investment Support Project (EU-MUTRAP).

It drew the participation of scientists, researchers, enterprises and producers of organic farming products. 

Coal imports reduce in seven months
     
Viet Nam imported 7.9 million tonnes of coal worth US$801 million in the first seven months of the year.

The imports represented a 5.1 per cent decrease in terms of quantity and a 49.2 per cent increase in term of value compared the same period last year.

Statistics from the General Department of Customs revealed that in the seven-month period, Indonesia was Viet Nam’s largest coal exporter with 2.9 million tonnes and turnover worth $192.7 million, posting an increase of 48.2 per cent and 65.2 per cent year-on-year in terms of quantity and value, respectively.

Australia came second in coal exports by Viet Nam with 2.3 million tonnes worth almost $283 million, reducing 12.4 per cent in quantity but increasing 40.2 per cent in value.

Notably, the country’s coal imports from China in the period were sharply reduced from the corresponding period last year, from 1.16 million tonnes to 614,125 tonnes. However, export turnover increased from $93.8 million at the end of last year to $110.4 million.

The department said the main reason was the continuous increase in coal import price from China in the last seven months. 

Sales Promotion Fair opens in HCM City
     
Scores of businesses are displaying a wide range of products at the 2017 Sales Promotion Fair that opened in HCM City’s Phu Tho Indoor Stadium on on August 30.

Organised by the Department of Industry and Trade, it has over 450 booths showcasing food and beverages, garments and textiles, footwear, electronic and electrical products, home appliances, handicrafts, cosmetics, interior and exterior decoration items, real estate projects, and tourism services, with many offering discounts of up to 49 per cent.

In response to the “For a Green Environment” movement, the fair’s organisers are providing free bags to shoppers.

The department has co-ordinated with the city Market Management Department and Commodities and Trademark magazine to display fake goods and identify genuine goods to warn consumers to be cautious.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Nguyen Phuong Dong, the department’s deputy director, said the fair is an important activity for stimulating consumption and attracting visitors to the city.

The fair is part of the city’s 2017 Sales Promotion Month in which 3,000 enterprises and 5,300 business households are participating.

The fair will go on until September 4. 

Thua Thien-Hue’s export turnover up 21%
     
The central province of Thua Thien-Hue shipped US$530 million worth of products to foreign countries in the first eight months of 2017, a year-on-year surge of 21.16 per cent.

The foreign-invested sector contributed $298 million, up 24.82 per cent, while $150 million came from the private sector, up 21.61 per cent.

The United States continued to be the largest purchaser, accounting for 40 per cent of the province’s export revenue. Along with traditional markets such as China, the European Union, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, local products have also been shipped to Cambodia, India, Slovakia and Sri Lanka.

The export value registered a year-on-year surge of 17.47 per cent for industrial processed products, and 35.79 per cent for agro-forestry-fishery products. Notably, the export of aquatic products has doubled to $35.25 million, up 24.78 per cent against 2016.

Leading Thua Thien Hue’s textile market, Hue Textile and Garment Joint Stock Company earned VND1.57 trillion ($69 billion) in revenue and its export turnover was $85 million. The average monthly income of its employees is VND7.3 million per person.

In order to achieve the targeted growth of 10 per cent in 2017, Hue Textile and Garment JSC has started construction of two factories to increase production, including a VND70 billion garment factory in Phu Da Industrial Zone and another factory valued at VND35 billion in Nam Dong District.

Thua Thien Hue Province has spent $345 million purchasing materials from foreign countries, a 6.76 per cent rise compared to the same period last year. Most of the imports have been garment-support materials and spares, with China remaining its primary source for these imports. 

Viet Capital Bank signs deal to distribute Bao Minh’s insurance products
     
Viet Capital Bank and Bao Minh Insurance Corporation on August 31 signed a bancassurance deal for non-life insurance.

Bao Minh Insurance Corporation will distribute its insurance products for assets, cargo, private homes, automobiles, personal health and accident, family health, domestic and international travel and others through Viet Capital Bank’s network of more than 62 branches in the country.

According to Viet Capital Bank, the tie-up will enable it to deliver the most cost effective and practical insurance products and services to customers.

Le Van Thanh, general director of Bao Minh, said after nearly 10 years of involvement in bancassurance, his company is confident of co-ordinating with Viet Capital Bank to offer appropriate product packages to customers.

New owner for unfinished AZ Lam Vien Complex
     
The Ha Noi People’s Committee allowed Lam Vien Construction and Investment Joint Stock Company to sell the entire AZ Lam Vien Complex to AZ Land, according to an announcement by the municipal Department of Construction.

Lam Vien Construction and Investment Joint Stock Company is responsible for handling any problems that may arise and ensure the rights of buyers and relevant parties.

Construction of the AZ Lam Vien, located on Nguyen Phong Sac Street, Cau Giay District, began in 2009 but its construction had been stagnant since then, despite the contractor changing from Vinaconex 1 to Lac Hong Investment in 2014. Its construction has stopped on the 13th floor for years.

The project has 29 floors and two basements with total investment of VND690 billion (US$30.4 million).

Phu Yen revokes VND800b hotel project
     
The People’s Committee of central Phu Yen Province has decided to revoke a VND800 billion (US$35.2 million) hotel complex project in Tuy Hoa City of Dien Bien No 1 Construction Company due to stagnant construction.

Muong Thanh Phu Yen’s investment policy was approved in July 1, 2016, covering 14,400sq.m. with 27 floors consisting of 200 five-star hotel rooms and 300 luxury apartments.

Accordingly, the developer was asked to complete legal procedures by September 2016, start construction of the project in October of the same year and complete it within one year.

Until now, the developer has, however, failed to start construction.

In June, the provincial People’s Committee asked the developer to submit the investment plan but received no response before the deadline. 

Vinpearl to purchase 13.5m Nha Trang Port shares
     
Khanh Hoa Province People’s Committee has registered with the Ha Noi Stock Exchange to offload 13.5 million shares, or 55 per cent stake, in Nha Trang Port JSC.

The transaction is scheduled for between September 5 and October 4 and the shares will be sold via put-through trading.

The Khanh Hoa provincial government is holding more than 15 million shares of the Nha Trang port operator, equal to 61.4 per cent of the company’s charter capital.

The number of shares to be sold by Khanh Hoa Province’s government is also equal to the amount of shares that will be bought by Vinpearl JSC – a member company of property developer Vingroup.

If the deal is completed, Vinpearl JSC will raise its ownership in Nha Trang Port JSC to 85.5 per cent from the current 30.5 per cent. Vinpearl became a shareholder of Nha Trang Port JSC in 2015.

Shareholders of Nha Trang Port JSC approved the deal at the company’s shareholder meeting in early August.

The main business activities of Nha Trang Port JSC include loading, storage, logistics and marine transportation.

In the first half of 2017, the company posted VND28.4 billion (US$1.26 million) in revenue and VND2.57 billion in post-tax profit. 

HNX raises $140m from Government bonds in August
     
The Ha Noi Stock Exchange (HNX) announced it has mobilised nearly VND3.2 trillion, or US$140 million, from 17 government bond auctions in August.

HNX said the number of bonds mobilised in the primary market decreased 79 per cent compared with July.

The bonds were offered for four tenures — five years, seven years, 10 years, 15 years and 30 years.

The coupon rates of five-year term bonds were 4.6 per cent per annum, seven-year term bonds were at 4.8 per cent per annum, 10-year term bonds were at 5.38 per cent per annum, 15-year term bonds were at 5.75 per cent per annum and 30-year term bonds were at 6.1 per cent per annum.

Compared with July, coupon rates in August of five-year bonds dropped 0.12 per cent per annum, seven-year bonds reduced 0.15 per cent per annum and 30-year bonds declined 0.12 per cent per annum.

Coupon rates of 10-year and 15-year bonds saw no change in August.

In the secondary market, the total number of government bonds in outright transactions reached 902.5 million, which was equivalent to VND99.5 trillion, down 10.3 per cent in value month-on-month.

The total volume of government bonds in repo (repurchase agreement) trading reached 1,186 million, equivalent to VND119 trillion, up 20.4 per cent in value month-on-month.

Foreign investors also made outright purchases of more than VND4.9 trillion and outright sale transactions of over VND5.5 trillion. They made repo sales of over VND98.9 trillion and no repo buys in August. 

Toyoda to build airbag plant in VN
     
Toyoda Gosei Co., Ltd. on Wednesday released plans on its website to establish a new plant for producing airbag parts in the northern province of Thai Binh, Viet Nam.

According to the announcement, the factory has total investment capital of US$24.6 million and construction is expected to start in March, 2018.

The plant is planned to be built on an area of 2.08ha in Thai Binh Province’s Tien Hai Industrial Park and is designed to meet growing demand for airbags, as safety regulations become more stringent in regions around the world.

The new plant will be established as a branch plant of Toyoda Gosei’s subsidiary Toyoda Gosei Hai Phong Co., Ltd. (TGHP), and will start production of airbag parts and steering wheels in July 2019 for export to final airbag assembly plants in Japan, North America, Europe and other regions.

In 2004, Toyoda Gosei established the first plant to manufacture airbag parts in Hai Phong City with investment capital of $74.95 million. To date, Toyoda Gosei has three plants in operation in Hai Phong’s Nomura Industrial Zone.

In 2016, the plants’ production capacity was 14.5 million airbag parts and 2.2 million steering wheels. The company targets to increase these figures to 23 million airbag parts and 3.2 million steering wheels by 2023.

Established in 1949 and headquartered in Kiyosu, Japan, Toyoda Gosei is a leading specialty manufacturer of rubber and plastic automotive parts and LEDs. Today, Toyoda Gosei Group provides a variety of high-quality products internationally, with a network of some 100 plants and offices in 18 countries and regions.

Airbags and other safety system products are a key business segment for Toyoda Gosei and the company is moving to strengthen its production capacities for these products globally. 

International shipbuilding expo returns to Ha Noi
     
The 9th International Exhibition of Shipbuilding, Shipping, and Offshore Technology (Vietship 2018) will return to the capital early next year, the event’s organisers announced on Thursday.

The forthcoming expo will draw the participation of leading enterprises, including those from foreign countries having developed maritime industries, such as Japan, South Korea, Singapore, China, France, Norway, Belgium and the Netherlands.

The biennial event will offer a good chance for businesses and investors to approach useful information, share state-of-the-art technologies and seek investment opportunities to further accelerate the development of the shipbuilding industry, organisers said.

Hosted by the Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (SBIC), Vietship 2018 will take place at the National Convention Centre from January 24 to January 26. It is expected to attract more than 10,000 visitors. Conferences on the shipbuilding and maritime industries will be held on the sideline of the expo.

The previous event saw 19 contracts and agreements worth over VND500 billion (US$22.4 million) inked between domestic and foreign partners. It had 220 stands from 130 companies, including 78 foreign firms.

VNA/VNS/VOV/SGT/SGGP/TT/TN/Dantri/VNEVET

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