Import-exports to go up by 13 percent

Vietcombank to apply Basel II next month, Vietnam, Republic of Korea step up technological application in garment, Cement exports record strong growth in H1, Vietnamese farm produce shines in Paris

Vietnam’s total import and export turnover in the first six months of 2018 is estimated to hit 225.29 billion USD, showing a year-on-year rise of 13 percent, according to the General Department of Customs.

Of the figure, the export value is likely to reach 113.93 billion USD since the beginning of this year, up 16 percent against the same period last year, while import value is calculated at 111.36 billion USD, a rise of 10.2 percent.

As a result, Vietnam will run a trade surplus of 2.57 billion USD in the first half of the year.

In January-June, the country hopes to gross 22.5 billion USD from exporting mobile phones and spare parts (up 15.4 percent) as well as 13.42 billion USD from garment-textile (up 13.8 percent), nearly 13.46 billion USD from computers, electronic products and components (up 15.7 percent), and 3.96 billion USD from aquatic products (up 11 percent).

Also in the reviewed period, imports of computers, electronic products and spare parts are estimated at 19.7 billion USD (up 14.3 percent), machinery, equipment and components 16.15 billion USD (down 7.3 percent), mobile phones and spare parts 5.97 billion USD (down 4.4 percent), and fabric 6.43 billion USD (up 17.1 percent).

Vietnam’s trade surplus hit a record high of 2.92 billion USD in 2017, according the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

The country had 29 groups of items whose export revenue exceeded 1 billion USD, 20 groups with export turnover of above 2 billon USD and eight groups with export value of more than 6 billion USD. 

2017 was considered a good year for Vietnam with its exports crossing the 200 billon USD mark for the first time and ending at 214.02 billion USD, a year-on-year increase of 21.2 percent and well above the Government’s target.

Textile industry expects high growth rate

The textile and apparel industry was defined as a field with one of the highest growth rates over the next 12 years.

It’s expected the business will grow by 14 percent over the next two years and a further 10 percent up to 2030.

Speaking at the 4th Vietnam Textile Summit 2018 held in Hanoi on June 27, Dr. Tran Du Lich said he believed the future would be bright.

“Garment and textile is a key economic sector in terms of employment creation and contribution to exports. It creates 20 percent of jobs in Vietnamese industry,” said Lich.

This sector has the second highest export turnover and occupies the fifth position in the world. Last year saw goods worth more than 31 billion USD, exported, representing 10.23 percent year-on-year increase.

The rapid growth rate was expected to continue this year with an estimated turnover of 33 billion USD.

In addition to maintaining traditional markets such as the US, Europe, Japan and the Republic of Korea, Vietnamese garment and textile firms have been expanding to new areas such as China, Russia and Cambodia.

It also promotes the development of the cotton fiber industry; petrochemical industry and other textile supporting industries as well as trading, services, and fashion industry.

“The textile industry contributes to the success of FDI attraction policy. FDI accounts for about 60 percent of apparel and textile export turnover,” he said adding that in the economy industrialisation strategy, the industry played an important role in the economic structure of Vietnam.

However, he said the Government policies played an important role to help businesses develop. Vietnam’s vocational training policies in the industry had not been effective and would need further support.

In addition, the Government should encourage enterprises to mobilise capital on the stock market. The application of the Decree No 111/ND-CP on supporting industries should be promoted and be included in research budgets, application of new technologies and reduction of corporate income tax.

The Government should also encourage the linking of value chains by supporting small and medium enterprises under the Law on the promotion of small-and-medium sized enterprises (SMEs).

Tran Thanh Hai, Deputy Head of the Department of Export and Import under the Ministry of Industry and Trade said new Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) which Vietnam signed or negotiated would benefit the country’s garment and textile sector.

“In the 2018-22 period, the export tax of some products would be reduced to zero, creating new opportunities for the country to increase export added value and promoting the economic growth,” Hai said.

On the other hand, the competitive labour costs and preferential policies would continue to help Vietnam become one of ideal destinations for investors in the sector.

However, Vietnam should continue to compete to maintain competitiveness with countries such as Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Cambodia.

Sharing the ideas, Ven Tran, Director of Vietnam Office of Weave Services Limited said Vietnam had experienced strong growth in textile manufacturing thanks to three key advantages as trade barriers are gradually removed.

In addition, Vietnam ranked second lowest in the regions, after Bangladesh. Its global position made it an ideal choice for investors who want to leave China.

However, there were still three main challenges to sustain this strong growth including low productivity, environmental regulation and long lead time, he said.

Long lead time means retailers and manufacturers fail to meet customers’ expectation and managing raw materials is key to speeding up productivity. Material accounts for a half of total lead time and it can even be 70 percent when it comes to overseas supply.

He suggested the solutions were to set up a common language with supply methods while factoring in risk.

The event co-organised by ECV International and Vietnam Cotton and Spinning Association (VCOSA) aimed to better understand the market, as well as mitigate risks and identify new opportunities. Meanwhile, the summit can also act as a platform for exchanges, communication and mutual assistance.

Cement exports record strong growth in H1

     
Viet Nam’s cement consumption continued to register strong growth in the first half of this year, especially cement exports, according to the Ministry of Construction.

The ministry’s Department of Building Material reported that in the first six months of this year, the domestic cement consumption was estimated at 51.42 million tonnes, a year-on-year increase of 25 per cent, fulfilling 61 per cent of the yearly plan. Of this, the Viet Nam Cement Industry Corporation (VICEM), holding 34 per cent of the local market share, consumed some 11.93 million tonnes.

Cement exports in the first six months gained a year-on-year surge of 50 per cent to reach 15.42 million tonnes, reaching 85.6 per cent of the annual export target.

Experts said the strong growth in domestic cement consumption against the same period last year was due to a favourable weather for construction and a higher cement export volume to China that had reduced domestic cement production.

The domestic cement industry’s inventory in the first six months stood at only some 3.10 million tonnes, including mainly clinker.

The department said in June, the total cement consumption was estimated at 8.71 million tonnes, 30 per cent higher than the same period last year.

Of this, the domestic cement consumption was 6.91 million tonnes, a year-on-year increase of 29 per cent. VICEM consumed some 2.18 million tonnes.

The cement export volume in June was estimated at 1.8 million tonnes, a surge of 35 per cent over the same period last year. 

Vietcombank to apply Basel II next month
     
Vietcombank will become the first major State-owned bank to apply Basel II standards, two years earlier than the deadline set by the central bank.

According to the bank, it is finalising the final steps to apply for the international standards thoroughly next month.

Basel II is the second edition of the Basel Accords, which are recommendations on banking laws and regulations issued by the Basel Committee on banking supervision. Basel II comprises minimum capital requirements, supervisory review and market discipline. It aims to enhance competition and transparency in the banking system and make banks more resistant to market changes.

Three years ago, the State Bank of Viet Nam (SBV) selected 10 commercial banks to pilot Basel II standards and set the deadline of 2020 for the banks to meet the standards. It was part of the SBV’s plan to restructure the domestic credit institution system, as risk management gaps remain a major reason for increasing bad debts.

The selected banks were Vietcombank, Vietinbank and BIDV, along with MB and Sacombank, Techcombank, ACB, VPBank, VIB and Maritime Bank. Until now, none of them has completed the application for the standards.

However, another member of the Viet Nam’s credit institutions, private bank OCB, late last year, became the first Vietnamese bank to complete the implementation of a Basel II project, equipping it with the infrastructure of a modern and safe bank that meets capital, supervisory review and transparency requirements.

OCB said it implemented 10 tools to support credit work and risk management while drafting and amending nearly 30 processes or regulations relevant to credit and data work and risk management to meet Basel II standards. It also held communication and training programmes for its employees.

Phu Yen, Binh Dinh attract huge foreign investments
     
Foreign companies are interested in investing in giant projects like oil refineries and deep-water ports in the central provinces of Phu Yen and Binh Dinh.

On June 20 and 21 the people’s committees of the two provinces and the State Bank of Viet Nam’s Phu Yen branch held a meeting with executives from Singapore’s Gia Phu International Pte Ltd, Japan’s Kato Corporation and the local ABC International Trade Investment Consultant Ltd.

Huynh Tan Viet, Secretary of the province Party Committee and Chairman of the Phu Yen People’s Council, said Gia Phu and ABC did a study of the Vung Ro refinery and petrochemical complex for the last three months.

Technostar Management of the UK and Telloil of Russia began the project in November 2007, but pulled out recently due to financial difficulties, according to the Phu Yen Economic Zone Authority.

Gia Phu is hoping to replace them.

A Gia Phu spokesperson said the company is extremely interested in and has carefully studied the Vung Ro refinery.

Vung Ro’s annual refining capacity is eight million tonnes of crude oil.

Gia Phu plans to plough US$5 billion into the project, including $3.5 billion in the refinery and petrochemical complex, $1 billion in the oil pipeline and $500 million to build the Bai Goc deep-water port.

Around 404ha of land will be earmarked for the refinery and 134ha for Bai Goc Port besides 500-1,300ha of sea.

“Phu Yen Province warmly welcomes investors to the Vung Ro refinery and petrochemical complex as well as other projects in the province,” Viet said.

“However, companies should show the financial wherewithal for investing in Viet Nam and completing the work on schedule.

As proof of its financial capability, Gia Phu transferred $500 million to HDbank in Phu Yen.

William Luong, deputy chairman of Gia Phu, said: “Our company has already mobilised 50 per cent of the total investment of the project, and we are ready to transfer the funds to Viet Nam.

“Besides, we have tied up with HDbank, MBbank and VPbank to raise the rest. If all legal formalities for the investment go smoothly, the project is expected to start this year-end or early next year.”

Construction on the Bai Goc deep-water port is expected to take 19 months. Thus, if work begins later this year, it will be finished in 2020.

Gia Phu, whose chairman is Lee Wa Ngoh, has experience with many oil refinery projects around the world.

The Singapore-based company has invested in a 500,000cu.m petroleum terminal in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta province of Tien Giang besides other projects in HCM City, Hue and Nghe An and Hoa Binh provinces.

Gia Phu, Kato and ABC are also interested in developing supporting industries for the Vung Ro facility and residential areas for experts including expats working there.

A Gia Phu spokesperson said: “Gia Phu International company has studied and would like to develop a 600ha urban residential area in Phuong Mai Peninsula in Binh Dinh Province. The urban project aims to build housing for experts and develop tourism on the peninsula.”

The Singapore company is also interested in building the Nhon Hoi deep-water port at an estimated $700 million.

Ho Quoc Dung, Chairman of the Binh Dinh People’s Committee, said: “We will create a favorable environment for investors in the province.”

Nhon Hoi Port is expected to be a key port for Binh Dinh, easing pressure on Quy Nhon Port when it is built. A new road will be built linking Nhon Hoi with National Road 19, which in turn links up with roads leading to the Central Highlands.

Tourism and industry have developed rapidly in Binh Dinh, which receives 400,000 foreign visitors a year.

Open internet key for economy
     
A free and open internet that facilitates cross-border data flows plays an essential role in promoting the digital economy of Viet Nam and the ASEAN region, speakers at a workshop held in HCM City said yesterday.

Speaking at the “Understanding Cross-Border Data Flows: E-Commerce and Beyond” workshop, US Consul General Mary Tarnowka said Viet Nam has an opportunity to be a global leader in e-commerce and smart city technology.

“But policies that limit the free flow of ideas and data threaten these goals,” she said. “The fourth industrial revolution could fundamentally change the way in which our daily lives interact with technology, and some of these changes are already happening.”

Through advances ranging from biotechnology to self-driving cars, the evolving technology industry promises to find solutions for real problems and improve the quality of life for people around the world, she said.

“Regardless of where you live, from the middle of Silicon Valley to Southeast Asia, we all feel the impact of creative disruption,” she said.

She said it was important to prepare for the technological revolution so that “we can shape this world into the one we want to inhabit”.

“The rapid pace of technological change means we cannot be complacent. International cooperation will be critical as we adapt to the new norms of trade and investment,” she said.

HCM City is a great example of Viet Nam’s dynamic transformation, with thousands of young entrepreneurs, but enabling the entrepreneurs to create value and digital solutions requires a strong vision and the right implementation.

“For example, in the digital economy, the inability to move data freely places unnecessary barriers and obstacles on future investment in Viet Nam,” she said. “It is an opportunity to demonstrate that enabling cross-border data flows can positively contribute to all of our growth and shared prosperity.”

Peter Thorin, director of US-ASEAN Connect at the US Mission to ASEAN, said Viet Nam’s eagerness to join the global supply chain of the digital economy and the strength of HCM City’s private sector made it an ideal location for the event.

Jane Bocklage, deputy representative at the US Mission to ASEAN, said in today’s interconnected world, e-commerce plays a role not only in domestic and cross-border trade, but also facilitates foreign investment and vibrant services for consumers.

Speaking at the event, Dr Peter Lovelock, a digital economy expert from Singapore, described regional trends in the digital economy and their implications for Viet Nam.

He spoke about the advantages of the digital economy to citizens and companies, highlighting how cross-border data flows can develop the economy.

Other speakers included representatives from the private sector in Viet Nam, academic institutions, and local and multinational firms who rely on the digital economy for growth and economic opportunity.

The ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint 2025, adopted by the ASEAN Leaders at the 27th ASEAN Summit in 2015, recognises e-commerce as a vital element in the regional and global economy.

The workshop was jointly organised by the US-ASEAN Connect, the US Consulate in HCM City, the US-ASEAN Business Council, and the USAID’s ASEAN Connectivity through Trade and Investment Project.

The forum was part of the Digital Economy Series organised in the ASEAN region by US-ASEAN Connect, which sponsors regional events to promote best practices on policy and regulatory ecosystems to foster a thriving digital economy. 

G-bonds raise over 3 billion USD in first half of year

The State Treasury of Vietnam raised about 4.4 trillion VND (more than 190.7 million USD) in the last Government bond (G-bond) auction of June, according to the Hanoi Stock Exchange (HNX).

The amount brought the total funds collected from G-bond auctions in the first half of 2018 to nearly 74.6 trillion VND (3.23 billion USD).

The HNX said the auction it held on June 27 was a success as it sold 73.33 percent of the total volume offered, despite interest rates continuing to rise for all maturity terms.

The auction looked to sell 6 trillion VND, or 260.1 million USD, worth of G-bonds with 5-year, 7-year, 10-year, 15-year, 20-year and 30-year maturity.

As much as 2.1 trillion VND (91 million USD) was mobilised from 10-year bonds with an annual interest rate of 4.37 percent, up 0.02 percent from that of the previous auction on June 20.

Bonds with 15-year maturity were sold for a total of 1.8 trillion VND (78 million USD) with an annual yield rate of 4.7 percent, 0.02 percent higher than that of the June 20 auction.

As for 20-year bonds, 500 billion VND (21.68 million USD) was raised at an interest rate of 5.2 percent per annum, an increase of 0.02 percent from that of an auction on June 13.

No bonds of 5-year, 7-year and 30-year maturity were sold.

The National Financial Supervisory Commission has predicted that the G-bond market in 2018 will see modest changes from last year thanks to the economic growth of more than 6.7 percent and inflation of below 4 percent. It expects the value of G-bonds issued this year to reach 180 trillion VND (7.92 billion USD).

Last year, Vietnam sold some 159.9 trillion VND, or 7.03 billion USD, worth of G-bonds with average maturity of 13.52 years and annual interest averaging 6.07 percent, down 0.2 percentage points against 2016.

The interest rates of Government bonds have been on the rise lately, after a long period of decline throughout 2017 and the first four months of 2018.

Nortalic launches first cooking oil product line with added MCT in Vietnam

The new factory of North Continental Oils & Fats Vietnam Company Limited (Nortalic) has officially come into operation, producing a new cooking oil product line with added MCT available for the first time in Vietnam, offering additional health benefits for consumers.

North Continental Oils & Fats Vietnam Company Limited (Nortalic) is a 100 per cent owned subsidiary of Singapore-headquartered Musim Mas Group. 

The three high-end edible oils products Tiara soyabean oil, Tiara vegetable Oil and Livvy vegetable oil are produced with heathy ingredients soyabean oil rich in Omega 3,6, 9, rice bran oil rich in Gamma-Orizynol, sunflower oil rich in Vitamin E, now added with MCT giving additional benefits compared to other products in the market.

Research indicates MCT is extremely important nutrition supply energy for brain, boosts metabolism, reduce excessed fat and bad choleterol in blood. Nortalic is proud to be the first cooking oil manufacturer to produce cooking oil product with MCT ingredient.

Besides Nortalic also offers other range of products in Freda and Nortalic brands so as to meet the various choices and preference of consumers.

Inheriting the achievements of the research and development centre of Musim Mas Group, operating globally in the production of cooking oils and specialty fats, Nortalic brings high quality products, improve health and improve the quality of daily life for Vietnamese consumers.

“The market now has a lot of edible oils that Vietnamese consumers can choose. We are confindent that our product will be well received by the market because our MCT series offer additional benefits, which meet today’s consumer needs for more healthy brain, boosts metabolism and help in weight management. According to several international research studies about the MCT ingredient, the MCT series will be ideal for those who want to maintain clear mind, improve memory, mentality and brilliant mind, control weight, and improve physique,” said Lee Nio Kwee, general director of Nortalic.

Located in the central province of Thanh Hoa, Nortalic expects the $71.5 million plant to lay the foundations for Musim Mas Group’s strong investment in the Vietnamese market.

Vietnam cooking oil market is considered to have good growth. According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, in 2017, per capita consumption of edible oil in Vietnam is 9-10 kilogrammes per year, lower than the 13.5 kg recommended by the World Health Organization. The forecast for cooking oil consumption will reach 16kg by 2020 and 18.5-19kg by 2025.

Headquartered in Singapore, Musim Mas Group’s business is involved with every parts of vegetable oil supply chain: from managing plantations and mills to refining crude vegetable oil and manufacturing vegetable oil based products, supported by an extensive fleet of ship tankers and barges that enhance our logistical capability.

Musim Mas Group have 37,000 employees in 13 countries across Asia Pacific, Europe, and the Americas, committed to meet global vegetable oil demand in an environmentally, socially and economically viable way.

Traphaco and Cadivi fined for tax arrears

The Hanoi Department of Taxation has just issued a fine of nearly VND1 billion ($44,000) to Traphaco JSC (code: TRA) and VND5.5 billion ($242,300) to Vietnam Electric Cable Corporation (Cadivi, code: CAV) for erroneous tax declaration.

This is the four consecutive years that Traphaco was fined for tax arrears.

Due to the erroneous declaration of value-added tax (VAT) and corporate income tax (CIT), Traphaco was fined for 20 per cent of the difference between its declared and actual tax obligations, equalling VND159 million ($7,000), according to Article 1 of the Law on Amendments and Supplements of Articles of the Law on Tax Administration.

The company’s tax burden increased by VND795 million ($35,000) after the inspection, including VND715 million ($31,500) in CIT and VND80 million ($3,500) in VAT.

Traphaco also has to pay VND20 million ($880) in penalty for late payment (as of June 15, 2018). Traphaco has to calculate and pay the additional late payment fees applicable between June 16 and the time the company repays the state.

Earlier, in May 2017, Traphaco was sent a notice over its tax violations in 2014, 2015, and 2016. Total additional tax, penalty, and the late payment fees of the company come to VND5 billion ($220,000).

According to Traphaco’s consolidated financial statement, sales in 2017 were over VND1.87 trillion ($82.4 million), equalling 94 per cent of the yearly plan. After-tax profit was VND242 billion ($10.66 million), up 14 per cent on-year, and equivalent to 99.6 per cent of the annual target.

Meanwhile, Cadivi was also fined for a total of VND5.5 billion ($242,300) after the inspection during 2016-2017, according to Decision No.1101/QD-TCT of the General Department of Taxation.

Accordingly, this company has to pay VND4.3 billion ($190,000) in additional tax, VND857 million ($37,800) in penalty for administrative violations and invoice usage, and VND363 million ($16,000) in penalty for late payments.

Cadivi has to calculate by itself and pay the additional late payment fees applicable from June 16 until the company makes its payments to the state.

In 2017, Cadivi recorded VND326 billion ($14.36 million) in after-tax profit, up 36 per cent on-year. In 2018, Cadivi set the target of VND8.209 trillion ($361.63 million) in sales revenue, up 20 per cent against last year, while pre-tax profit is targeted at VND455 billion ($20 million), up 11 per cent on-year.

Dragon Capital becomes large shareholder of GELEX

Dragon Capital has just bought 813,110 shares to raise its ownership to 5.05 per cent in Vietnam Electrical Equipment JSC (GELEX).

Dragon Capital has just announced to successfully buy 813,110 shares of GELEX (code: GEX) to raise its ownership to 13.6 million shares and become a large shareholder, holding 5.05 per cent of the charter capital.

Grinling International Limited bought 154,100 additional shares, and Hanoi Investment Holdings Limited bought 659,000 shares.

Dragon Capital’s remaining holding in GELEX is in the hands of six other member funds, including Norges Bank (4.24 million shares–1.58 per cent), Amersham Industries (2.85 million shares), Viola Ltd. (2 million shares), Idris (1.7 million shares), Samsung Vietnam Securities Master Investment Trust (668,000 shares), and Aquila SPC (550,000 shares).

GELEX has been restructuring its operations through raising the charter capital of Gelex Electric Co., Ltd. to VND2.3 trillion ($101.3 million) from VND1.4 trillion ($61.7 million) and transforming its ownership in other subsidiaries to Gelex Energy.

Gelex’s subsidiaries include Vietnam Electric Cable Corporation (Cadivi, code: CAV), Electrical Equipment JSC (THIBIDI, code: THI), and Hanoi Electromechanical Manufacturing JSC (code: HEM).

According to Gelex’s financial statement, its total consolidated net revenue in 2017 hit VND11.98 trillion ($528 million), up 64.2 per cent on-year, and consolidated after-tax profit reached VND1.3 trillion ($58 million), exceeding the yearly plan by 25.2 per cent. The parent company’s total net revenue was VND2.216 trillion ($97.6 million) and its after-tax profit was VND369 billion ($16.26 million), up 21 per cent on-year.

In 2018, GELEX targets VND15 trillion ($661 million) in total consolidated revenue and VND1.82 trillion ($80.2 million) in consolidated pre-tax profit.

Savills: Property retaining interest of developers

Major transactions continue to be made in Vietnam’s property market, according to latest Savills report.

Property remained an attractive proposition for developers interested in mixed-use projects with residential components in major cities, according to the latest report from Savills.

CapitaLand, for example, acquired an approximately 0.9 ha site in a prime location within Hanoi’s Tay Ho district in March. The project will comprise a 380-unit residence, around 21,400 sq m of office space, and over 19,300 sq m of retail space. This latest acquisition will expand CapitaLand’s portfolio to 12 residential developments, one integrated development, and 21 serviced residences in six cities in Vietnam.

Another Singaporean developer, Keppel Land, acquired the remaining 10 per cent stake in Jencity Limited, which has plans to build a township – Saigon Sports City – for approximately $11.4 million. Covering an area of 64 ha, the township will comprise about 4,300 premium homes and Vietnam’s first one-stop lifestyle hub with comprehensive facilities for sports, entertainment, shopping and dining.

Investors were also seeking to acquire development sites and properties in the country’s hospitality sector amid increasing consumer demand and surging international arrivals in Vietnam. In January, Japan’s Mikazuki Hotel Group announced plans to invest $100 million in a project in Da Nang. Covering an area of nearly 11.5 ha, the development aims to accommodate a five-star hotel, a waterpark, a theme park, and an F&B complex fronting the beach in the central city.

Also in the first quarter, Vietnam-based investment company Bamboo Capital acquired the Malibu resort project for approximately $14.8 million from Indochina Hoi An Beach Villas Co., Ltd.

There were very few investment transactions in Ho Chi Minh City’s office market due to a shortage of available properties for sale. One notable transaction was the January acquisition by Nomura Real Estate of a 24 per cent holding in Sun Wah Tower, a Grade A office building in the city center.

Agro-forestry-fishery posts highest GDP growth in decade

The gross domestic product (GDP) of agriculture, forestry and fishery is estimated to expand from 3.95 percent to 4.05 percent in the first six months of 2018, the highest level in 10 recent years.

The production value of agro-forestry-fishery is expected to increase by 4.2 percent, of which cultivation will record a year-on-year rise of 4.12 percent, animal husbandry 2.04 percent, forestry 5.21 percent and aquaculture 6.49 percent.

Speaking at a conference of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in Hanoi on June 28, Minister Nguyen Xuan Cuong recognised the sector’s proactive implementation of measures to achieve set targets for the January-June period.

In cultivation, 32,800 hectares of ineffective rice land has been shifted for vegetables, fruit trees and perennial industrial trees with high economic efficiency while the use of high-quality varieties has been increased along with the expansion of large-scale fields of rice and other crops and the promotion of production according to Vietnamese Good Agricultural Practices.

Livestock production is generally favourable with stable prices of beef and poultry products. Some livestock products have been exported to markets with high requirements for quality and control of food hygiene and safety.

The favourable weather conditions make it easier for fishing activities. Added to that, ministries and localities have actively implemented policies to support production and continue compensating damages, stabilising lives and resuming production for people in four central provinces affected by the marine environmental incident in 2016.

Aquaculture production was estimated at 1.79 million tonnes, up 6.2 percent over the same period last year with high growth in brackish water shrimp and tra fish.

The restructuring of the forestry sector is quite significant with the operation of high value forestry production models and large-scale timber trade ones. Particularly, the production and processing of forestry products for exports have seen strong development while the domestic wood market has been thriving.

As of June 25, the country had 3,370 communes (37.76 percent) recognised as new rural areas. The ratio is expected to increase to 40 percent at the end of this year. 

Head of the Department of Planning under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Van Viet said the agricultural production outcomes in the first six months of the year illustrates an optimistic economic panoramic, which will create a momentum for growth in the last remaining months. 

The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) forecast that the global rice trade will continue growing along with the surge of tropical fruits and high demand for aquatic products. 

Therefore, the country’s export of farm produce is likely to maintain higher growth than the first six months (over 12 percent) and the yearly export target is projected to reach 40-41 billion USD. 

The country could harvest 43.9 million tonnes of rice, up at least 1.2 million tonnes compared to 2017, if the weather is favourable. 

It is expected to rake in over 5.5 billion USD from selling abroad tea, coffee, rubber, pepper and cashew nuts in 2018 and 4.5-4.7 billion USD from vegetables and fruits. 

Minister Cuong said in 2018, the Government has assigned ministries to ensure high growth targets in the context of challenges posed by climate change, fiercer global competitiveness, trade protection barriers from countries, and risks of diseases. 

Thereby, ministries need to follow growth scenarios and targets of the Government’s Resolution No.1/NQ-CP on key tasks and solutions to realising socio-economic development plans and State budget estimate 2018.

Measures sought to support Vietnamese exporters

Measures to support Vietnamese exporters to expand markets amid global economic fluctuations was discussed at a workshop held Hanoi on June 28. 

Organised by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) as part of the Vietnam export assistance programme 2018, the event saw delegates from research institutes, foreign embassies in Vietnam and export companies.  

In his opening remark, VCCI General Secretary Nguyen Quang Vinh said Vietnam’s export enterprises, especially small and-medium-sized ones, are facing challenges related to market, forecast on market supply and demand, information, management and strategic planning.

In recent years, the VCCI has implemented numerous activities to support export firms, as well as national programmes and projects to improve the competitiveness in integration and promote sustainable development. 

These will continue to be accelerated in 2018, especially when the Prime Minister officially approved a project to establish strategic cooperation with important markets of Vietnam, he said. 

Accordingly, the VCCI will work to quicken the implementation of the project, cooperate with relevant ministries and sectors and arrange meetings with its partners to build practical activities for supporting Vietnamese export SMEs. 

An online information portal will be established, while workshops on export support and business link will be held. 

In addition, the VCCI will also publish a Vietnam Export Handbook and annually organise an export forum, making it easy for local exporters to get information related to Vietnam’s important export markets such as the US and Europe.

The VCCI will always work closely with relevant ministries and sector to assist export companies in improving their competitiveness and expanding markets, towards sustainable export. 

Nguyen Viet Hung from the General Department of Customs said in the first half of 2018, Vietnam’s export-import turnover hit 225 billion USD, up 13 percent year-on-year. Of the figure, the country’s export value reached 113 billion USD, while its import value was 111 billion USD. 

The foreign direct investment (FDI) sector still holds the motivational force for Vietnam’s export growth as its total export value accounts for 70 percent of the country’s export turnover, Hung said. 

Vietnam’s export will maintain good performance in 2018, likely to reach two-digit growth and double the GDP, he predicted.

According to Hung, Vietnam’s export is estimated to reach 240-242 billion USD, 13 percent higher than that of 2017. The total export-import turnover is estimated at 475-477 billion USD, up 11.5 year-on-year. 

By 2020, Vietnam will have about 100,000 import and export enterprises, Hung noted. 

During the workshop, participants were updated on current developments, trends and impacts from the US’s trade policy at present and in the coming time for export goods to the country; and proposed initiatives to improve the competitiveness of Vietnam’s commodities in the US.

Export support services and information; opportunities to access preferential capital sources; experience to enter export markets; and issues related to cargo insurance and export credit guarantee were also introduced at the workshop.

Hanoi, Fukuoka boost agricultural cooperation

The People’s Committee of Hanoi and Fukuoka prefecture of Japan jointly held a conference promoting their agriculture cooperation in Hanoi on June 28.

The event marked the 45th anniversary of diplomatic ties between Vietnam and Japan.

Addressing the event, Vice Chairman of the Hanoi People’s Committee Nguyen Van Suu said cooperation between Hanoi and Fukuoka has been flourishing across various fields, such as culture, education, training, and education.

He said the conference is a good opportunity for the two sides to boost collaboration, towards sustainable development, hi-technology, and environmental protection.

Governor Hiroshi Ogawa said Fukuoka has strengths in manufacturing as well as robot, automobile and steel production.

With a lot of experience in high-tech application in agriculture, Fukuoka hopes it could contribute to agricultural development in Hanoi and Vietnam, he said.

Hanoi has a big population and large cultivating area, therefore the city has a high potential in agricultural development. However, there are some shortcomings that the city is facing now such as inadequate productivity, high-quality agricultural manufacturing, said Hiroshi Ogawa.

“Fukuoka has experience in these matters and readies to help Hanoi, including environmental protection, and infrastructure, among others.”

Ta Van Tuong, Deputy Director the  Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said local governments of the two sides will promote exchanges between their enterprises in order to further boost business collaboration.

Japan is currently the largest provider of official development assistance for Hanoi, as it has committed over 2 billion USD in total. It is also the biggest foreign investor in the city, registering over 5 billion USD in capital. 

Fukuoka is the third largest trade partner of Hanoi.

IMF willing to support Vietnam to achieve higher average income

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) hopes it would support Vietnam to become a country with higher average income and even high income in the next decade, said Changyong Rhee, Director of the IMF’s Asia and Pacific Department.

In an interview with the Vietnam News Agency correspondent in Washington D.C., the US, Rhee noted that partnership between Vietnam and the IMF has been growing in all fields, stressing that Vietnam is an important member of the IMF.

Since Vietnam joined the fund in 1956, especially after the country implemented the “doi moi” (reform) cause, entered the WTO, and became more integrated into the world, the partnership has been fostered through the IMF’s policy consultations for Vietnam.

The ties have been strengthened through visits of IMF Director-General Christine Lagarde to Vietnam in 2016 and 2017, he noted.

It has been formed through two channels – policy consultations (via Article IV Consultations) and the provision of activities to help Vietnam improve its capacity, and personnel training, said Rhee.

He said that the IMF has considered the good economic performance of Vietnam as well as the similarities between policy evaluations of IMF and Vietnam, and decided to apply the Lapse of Time (LOT) mechanism, which is seen as its recognition of Vietnam’s good economic efficiency in the past year.

Though the IMF predicted a growth rate of 6.6 percent for Vietnam in 2018, the country showed better performance in the first quarter of this year, he noted.

He showed his delight at the result as despite the strong growth, Vietnam’s inflation was kept in a relatively low level.

The results were attributed to some internal factors, such as the improvement in economic management policies and efforts in reforming State-owned enterprise governance and equitisation, apart from external ones, said Rhee.

The Vietnamese economy has made positive and good growths, according to the official. 

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