VietNamNet
BUSINESS IN BRIEF 18/5

Last update: 08:30 | 18/05/2017

Conference helps exporters improve e-commerce

The 2017 Vietnam eTrade Conference (VETC) was held on May 16 by the Vietnam E-commerce Association (VECOM) in cooperation with the Vietnam Export Support Alliance (VESA) to help exporting firms and organisations improve their e-commerce activities.

“This is the first event of its kind in Vietnam, which focuses on online export trends, the benefits of online exchanges and international retail trends,” said Nguyen Ky Minh, Deputy Director of the E-commerce Development Centre under the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) at the conference.

Multiple Vietnamese businesses are applying e-commerce technology in export, according to Tran Thanh Hai, Deputy Director of the MoIT’s Import-Export Department. In fact, the number of Vietnamese enterprises participating in online export programs and training in online export skills in 2016 showed a 34 percent increase from 2015, as reported by the VECOM in its 2017 e-Business Index.

Hai also confirmed that in addition to accessing online public service such as e-customs, online certificates of origin and other export-related services, businesses in Vietnam have been using the internet to look for foreign trade partners and sign contracts online.

E-commerce is considered an effective way to help business enhance efficiency in dealing with market research, contract signing, payment, customs regulations and bureaucratic legislations.

E-commerce is also believed to be a cost-cutting and time-saving solution to "unofficial fees" in the export process, according to VECOM’s Chairman Nguyen Thanh Hung.

Meanwhile, the number of consumers buying directly from international retailers is rising rapidly, which further emphasises the potential of e-commerce as a means to manage complicated import and export activities.

The conference is not only a chance for businesses to learn about e-trade exchange and the trend of online retail to foreign customers, but also for them to propose that the State provide online public services for import and export, said Hung.

The 2017 VETC was divided into three sessions focusing on the three main pillars of online export and import activities: online public services between government and business; export opportunities based on online exchange and the business to business model (B2B); B2B development trends aimed directly towards end consumers.

This year’s conference also marked VESA’s introduction as a unit jointly created by OSB Investment and Technology Jsc, the Vietnam Prosperity Joint Stock Bank, the Telecommunication Joint Stock Insurance Corporation and the T&M Forwarding Ltd. Business members of VESA are entitled to better support from this e-commerce, logistics and insurance trio.

State budget faces deficit as fuel import tax cut down


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Special consumption tax must be adjusted to avoid a serious budget deficit when fuel import tax is cut in line with various trade agreements Vietnam has signed, President of the Vietnam Petroleum Association Phan The Rue has said.

Currently, income from fuel import tax accounts for 7 percent of the State budget, he said at a conference in Hanoi on May 16.

Rue said that in order to ensure harmony of State budget income, agencies should carefully calculate a roadmap for raising other taxes.

According to the association, fees and taxes make up more than 50 percent of the fuel price. Therefore, cutting fuel import tax to zero percent necessitates increasing other taxes to make up for the lost income.

Shrimp breeding quality too low

Although Việt Nam’s shrimp production has the potential to become the country’s spearhead economy, the sector is facing small-scale production challenges and shrimp breeding stock limitation, said Trần Đình Luân, deputy head of Directorate of Fisheries under Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Among 1,800 shrimp breeding stock production bases nationwide, quite a few fail to meet quality and biological safety criteria, the result of poor breeding stock quality management, Luân said.

More than 90 per cent of breeding stock of white-leg shrimps in Việt Nam are imported, while the breed for prawns depends on natural catching, he said.

Sharing the same view, Lê Anh Xuân, president of the board of directors of NG Việt Nam Fishery Company, said that Việt Nam’s shrimp breeding stock production bases are enough in terms of quantity but lack quality, which seriously affects shrimp sector development.

Shrimp breeding technology and infrastructure bases remain weak and incomprehensive, limiting the capacity to produce high-quality shrimp stock that meet biological requirements and at a large production scale. The shrimp quality and prices in the market are uneven, he said.

He said that State agencies must step up unscheduled inspections on shrimp breeding stock production bases and categorise these bases following three levels - A, B and C, so that consumers can be aware of shrimp quality.

Farmers should buy stock from prestigious shrimp production bases and keep monitoring stock quality while raising shrimp, he said.

Trần Đình Luân said the challenge is that small scale shrimp farming households lack access to high quality breeding stock production bases. The breed is transferred from factory to two to three intermediary dealers before being provided to farmers.

Luân said that to help farmers access high quality shrimp breeding stock and reduce costs for breeders, it is necessary to organise co-operatives which connect with quality shrimp breeding stock selection agencies.

Promoting domestic production of shrimp breeding stock is very important along with application of science technology and industrialised production, Xuân said.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Việt Nam’s shrimp production ranks the third in the world, with total annual output of 600,000 to 650,000 tonnes.

Việt Nam is the world’s leading prawn exporter and the provider to big markets such as Japan, the US and European Union. Shrimp export turnover is expected to reach US$10 billion by 2025. 

Plastic company leaders to sell 27% ownership     

The chairman and general director of An Phat Plastic and Green Environment Joint Stock Company have announced the sale of over 15 million shares, equivalent to 27 per cent of their ownership.

Pham Anh Duong, chairman of the company registered to sell more than 9.26 million shares, accounting for 16.26 per cent of the ownership.

Nguyen Le Trung, general director, will sell his entire 6.22 million shares, equivalent to 10.92 per cent ownership.

Both transactions are expected to take place from May 22 to June 20 through an agreement.

In the first quarter of this year, An Phat recorded total revenue of VND731 billion (US$32.2 million) and after-tax profit of VND66 billion, up 79.6 per cent and 131.6 per cent, respectively, against the same period last year.

The company is set a target to reach VND888 billion in revenue and VND50 billion in after-tax profit for the second quarter. 

Banks recruited over 1,000 new employees in Q1     

Commercial banks have consistently recruited thousand of new employees, especially for retail banking services, to meet business targets in 2017.

According to reports from 13 banks, the personnel scale increased by 1,035 people in the first quarter.

Nearly half of the total comprised VPBank’s newly-recruited employees. Specifically, VPBank recruited 489 people, increasing the total number of employees until the end of the first quarter to nearly 10,000.

VIB also newly recruited 316 employees, compared with 260 employees in ACB. The number of newly-recruited employees in Sacombank and Vietcombank was 215 and 190, respectively.

Some banks, however, witnessed a decline in the number of employees, including BIDV and VietinBank.

As of March 31, 2017, BIDV had 23,386 employees, down 218 people from the end of 2016. VietinBank’s personnel scale, meanwhile, reduced nearly 100 people to 21,740.

However, compared with the entire system at present, BIDV is still the bank with the largest personnel scale with 23,386 employees, followed by VietinBank and Sacombank with 21,740 and 16,243 employees, respectively.

Banking system’s liquidity positive after months     

 Liquidity in the inter-bank market has showed positive signs after several months of being under pressure.

The latest report from Saigon Securities Incorporate (SSI) showed that the central bank withdrew a total of VND18.46 trillion (US$811.4 million) through open market operations (OMO) last week, reducing the money being circulated in OMO to VND6.54 trillion, the lowest level in the past two months.

This is the first time since Tet (Lunar New Year) that the banking system has shown abundant liquidity. The central bank had to inject a significant amount of money through OMO to support liquidity of the banking system in the past months.

In the past week, owing to good liquidity, interest rates in the inter-bank market slid down constantly, hitting a two-month low of 4.16 per cent on May 11, down 27 basis points against the previous week. 

HCMC says to channel public investment into five sectors

HCMC has mapped out a medium-term public investment plan in 2016-2020, which puts a focus on five key sectors -- traffic infrastructure, flood and storm control, environment, education and health.

According to a report of the HCMC People’s Committee, public investment in the 2016-2020 period is estimated to reach around VND150 trillion (US$6.62 billion), increasing nearly 40% versus the 2011-2015 period.

The traffic infrastructure sector will receive the most investment with about VND52.67 trillion, accounting for 35.1% of the total. Some of the key projects are aimed at easing traffic congestion in Tan Son Nhat International Airport and Cat Lai Port areas, and building new bridges to replace deteriorating ones.

Flood and storm control projects will get the second largest amount of capital, VND23.88 trillion (nearly 16%). They include coping with flood tides and upgrading Ba Bo Canal, Hiep Tan Canal, and Kinh Duong Vuong, Ngo Gia Tu and Go Dau streets.

The city plans to spend about VND8.74 trillion (5.9%) on the environment sector. Official Development Assistance (ODA) loans will be prioritized for three major environment projects, namely phase two of a project for rehabilitating the water environment of Tau Hu, Ben Nghe, Doi and Te canals with total capital of VND4 trillion; phase two of an environmental sanitation project worth VND950 billion; and a technical assistance subproject for the city’s environment sanitation project phase two worth VND33 billion.

The city plans to invest about VND22 trillion (14.7%) in education. New schools, especially in districts 12, Binh Tan, Binh Chanh and Hoc Mon, will have to be built due to fast urbanization there.

The health sector will receive VND12.54 trillion (8.4%) to deal with overload at hospitals and improve service quality.

Thousands of other projects also need huge capital. Therefore, the city is calling for investors to get involved through public-private partnership (PPP) format and other modes.

Can Tho plans huge hi-tech agriculture park

Can Tho City is drawing up a project to develop a hi-tech agriculture park on more than 244 hectares at a total cost of nearly VND1.9 trillion.

The project would be divided into two phases, with phase one in 2017-2020 and phase two in 2021-2025, and consist of a central area, a processing and production area and a storage area.

The hi-tech agriculture park is aimed at promoting the development and application of high technology in the agriculture sector of Can Tho City, contributing to developing modern agriculture on a larger scale and boosting the competitiveness of farm produce.

In the first phase from 2017 to 2020, the project would focus on preparing investment procedures, training human resources, founding a management board and working with science and technology organizations and hi-tech agricultural enterprises.

Can Tho will develop traffic infrastructure, electricity and water supply, wastewater drainage and fences around the park while establishing five to ten hi-tech agricultural firms and training 500 to 1,000 agronomists a year.

In the second phase from 2021 to 2025, the project will center on research and development, technology transfer and mass production of plants and livestock such as rice, vegetable, flower, fruit, pig, cow, chicken, duck and seafood.

The project would also incorporate tourism cooperation between Can Tho City and other provinces in the Mekong Delta.

Dao Anh Dung, vice chairman of Can Tho City, said the project would be sent to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in early June 2017 before it goes before the Prime Minister.

The nation now has 29 hi-tech agricultural parks, with seven of them already put into operation.

Binh Phuoc eyes more cashew products reaching global markets

Southern Binh Phuoc province held an international clients conference in the cashew industry on May 16 with a view to having more cashew products reaching global markets.

Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Nguyen Van Tram said Binh Phuoc has some 143,000 hectares under cashew, accounting for nearly 50 percent of the country’s total, which yield 150,000 tonnes a year. 

Earnings from cashew exports were worth 500 million USD last year, or nearly a third of the province’s total export income, he said.

Binh Phuoc is home to more than 200 enterprises and establishments involved in cashew processing, providing jobs for more than 50,000 people.

Despite having the largest cashew cultivation area in Vietnam, its products lack diversification, and are mainly semi-processed products with low value addition.

A majority of the processing firms are small and their technologies are not uniformly modern, which limits the competitiveness of the industry, Tram said, adding that climate change too has caused difficulties for the industry.

“Therefore, through this conference, Binh Phuoc calls for and wants cooperation with provinces and cities and international friends.”

Nguyen Anh Hoang, Director of the provincial Department of Industry and Trade, said Binh Phuoc is seeking domestic and foreign partners to invest or cooperate in producing more diversified products and expanding consumption both in domestic and foreign markets.

“We are also calling for international support to help businesses in the province improve their management capacity in terms of nutrition and food safety to enable more cashew products from the province to penetrate your [foreign] markets.”

At the conference, attendees said to enable sustainable development of the sector, enterprises will need to pay more attention to product quality.

Tjasse Pieter Dijksterhuis from the Netherlands’s Decamerone BV said major customers in Europe and the US are increasingly demanding mandatory quality testing, and so companies must ensure specification compliance when exporting.

Nguyen Duc Thanh, Chairman of the Vietnam Cashew Association, said many cashew producers and processors, acknowledging that hygiene and food safety requirements are increasing in the global market, focused on producing clean cashew nuts and ensuring consistent quality.

“Enterprises have shifted from competition in prices to competition in quality, with many firms investing in modern technologies to add value to their products.”

Small and medium-sized firms could face financial difficulties in this regard and should co-operate with large firms, he said.

Industry and Trade Department Director Hoang said: “We have made great strides in improving product quality at all stages from planting to processing based on stringent hygiene and food safety standards.”

The French Government is sponsoring the province’s efforts to obtain geographical indication certification for Binh Phuoc Cashew. Hoang said this would be a good foundation for the province to promote its best cashew products around the world.  

Vietnam exported 79,000 tonnes of cashew worth 735 million USD in the first four months of this year, a 13.1 percent fall in volume but an increase of 7 percent in value year on year, with the US, China and the Netherlands being the largest importers.

Tra fish price to be more stable     

After skyrocketing to 10-year highs in April, tra fish price has shown signs of cooling down and is forecast to be more stable in the second half of this year.

According to the Viet Nam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), the price of raw tra fish in the Cửu Long (Mekong) River Delta is currently fluctuating at some VND25,000-26,500 (US$1.2) per kg, from a high of VND29,000 in April.

However, it was VND2,500-3,000 per kg higher than the same period last year.

In the second half of this year, the increase in harvested fish and tra fish breeds will make up for the shortage, pushing down the price.

According to a report of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, tra fish price in the region witnessed a significant rise from the beginning of this year due to a severe shortage in tra fish breeds and decrease in farming area.

Statistics showed that tra fish farming area in Mekong River Delta region dropped by 16 per cent to 2,705ha in the January-March period, along with a 1.5 per cent decrease in output to 247,600 tonnes.

The decrease occurred due to a severe shortage in tra fish breeds for the 2017 crop because many breed farms stopped production following a slump in price at the end of 2016. In February, tra fish breed price tripled to touch VND40,000 per kg.

At present, the supply of tra fish breeds has improved significantly and the price is more stable. 

Central Bank approves BIDV bond issue of $900 million     

The State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) recently permitted the Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam (BIDV) to issue VND20 trillion (US$893 million) worth of bonds in 2017.

BIDV’s targeted demography includes both domestic and foreign organisations and individuals. Credit organisations, their subsidiary companies and foreign bank branches are not allowed to buy these bonds on the primary market.

The yields will be decided by BIDV in accordance with market interest rates and the current set of bond yields regulations as dictated by the SBV.

BIDV repurchased its shares in 2017 based on strict safety requirements, excluding tier two capital bonds, which require a different set of regulated legal documents. 

Quang Ninh’s first world-class condotels opening for sale     

Property developer BIM Group will officially launch Citadines Marina Halong – the first world-class condotel project in northern Quang Ninh Province – at Melia Hotel here on Sunday.

Assigned to be run by The Ascott Limited, one of the world’s leading serviced-apartment operators, Citadines Marina Halong, with all its apartments and condotels overlooking Ha Long Bay, is expected to heat up the northern property market in 2017 as a destination for optimal investment, a luxury resort and a comfortable home.

The project consists of 176 condominiums and 637 condotels as well as modern facilities such as an infinity pool, shopping centre, restaurants, gyms, a recreation complex and a smart car-parking system.

Located in BIM Group’s Halong Marina Urban Area along the coast of Ha Long Bay, the project will benefit from the urban area’s developed infrastructure and have good connectivity to surrounding complexes.

The development is just five minutes away from Halong Marina Plaza, CGV Cinema, Little Vietnam shophouse, Singapore SIS International School and a park and a beach and just three kilometres away from Sunworld Ha Long Park, Sun Wheel, Zen Garden and Tuan Châu Complex.

A sales agent said, “We believe Citadines Marina Halong is worth the investment because of its quality and premium services guaranteed by the prestige of BIM Group and The Ascott Limited. The profits will be promising, given the large tourism potential (of the area) and the boom in tourist arrivals in Quang Ninh Province.”

On this occasion, the developer will offer irresistible sale policies to buyers. For condotels, buyers joining the rental pool will enjoy a profit share of 85 per cent with a guaranteed profit of no less than 10 per cent of the condotel price in the first five years, together with 15 days of free stay per year and a VIP card with a discount of 20 per cent for hotel services. For luxury apartments, buyers will enjoy zero service charges for five years.

A discount of 5 per cent will be offered to buyers who pay 95 per cent of the contract value upfront when signing the contracts.

Besides this, buyers will enjoy a zero interest rate policy for 24 months.      

TLG to pay off residue dividend     

Thien Long Group (TLG) held its 2017 annual shareholders’ meeting yesterday, announcing a 15 per cent residue dividend from 2016 would be dispersed this year.

The company’s dividend for 2017 would amount to 20 per cent of total earnings, while in 2016 the figure was 30 per cent in cash. Fifteen per cent were paid last year, leaving the rest to be paid in July 2017.

TLG also reported its business plan this year to include an expected revenue of VND2.45 trillion ($109.5 million), post tax income of VND265 billion ($11.84 million), up by 13 and 10 per cent compared to 2016, respectively.

The board approved TLG’s plan to issue more than 11.4 million shares with a 10:3 ratio to increase charter capital from VND383 billion to VND498 billion ($17.11 million to $22.25 million) in the third quarter of 2017.

This year meeting also announced TLG’s plan to increase foreign investors’ percentage of ownership from 49 per cent to 100 per cent. 

Oman wants to boost investment in Hanoi

Omani Ambassador to Vietnam Sultan bin Saif bin Hilal Al Mahrouqi asked for information on infrastructure projects in Hanoi for investment promotion during his meeting with the city mayor on May 16.

Receiving Ambassador Sultan bin Saif bin Hilal Al Mahrouqi, Vice Chairman of the Hanoi People’s Committee Nguyen Duc Chung said he hopes the diplomat will help connect Omani investors with Vietnamese enterprises.

He noted that the capital city is calling for investment in a range of infrastructure projects on transport, clean water supply, environmental sanitation and waste treatment, adding that these projects will be carried out in the next five years.

Chung said Vietnam-Oman partnership will be included in the agenda of a conference on investment and development in Hanoi scheduled for June. He invited the diplomat to take part in the event.

The Omani ambassador accepted the invitation and affirmed that he will push for Omani investments in Hanoi through the Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

He stressed the potential of the Omani market and suggested Vietnamese firms export more tourism and food products to the Middle East country.     

Catfish segment seeks to regain market share in the EU

Vietnamese farm raised pangasius catfish sales in the European Union have hit troubled waters in recent months following the airing of a damaging Spanish exposé in early January, say leading seafood distributors.

At a roundtable held late last month on the side-lines of Seafood Expo Global in Brussels, Belgium they sat down to try to come up with a workable strategy to right the sinking ship and get sales back on track. 

Leading Dutch consultant Alfons van Duijvenbode led the session, which was also attended by Tran Dinh Luan, deputy head of the Vietnam Directorate of Fisheries and Esther Luiten, director of the Aquaculture Stewardship Council.

There was all around agreement that there was no veracity to the allegations made in the Spanish report, and the focus of the discussion quickly centred on how to cope with the negative perception that it had left in the minds of consumers that sent sales into a downward spiral.

Factually, the fallout has become so bad that it led French based multinational retailer Carrefour, one of the largest supercentres in the globe, to temporarily halt the sale of farm raised catfish from Vietnam.

The move was followed in quick succession by other retail outlets from Belgium to Italy, said the speakers at the roundtable.

The issues that prompted Carrefour to take the action to stop selling product related to perceived overuse of chemicals and other environmental concerns, said Mr. Luan, which though factually untrue have had devastating consequences on sales of product.

Fake news is everywhere today, said Mr. Luan, and it brings the issue of the need for improved public relations by the farmers, processors and exporters in the Vietnamese farm raised catfish segment to the forefront.

Mr Luan noted that sales in the EU marketplace have plummeted by 75% in the early months of this year since the Spanish documentary was broadcast and he doesn’t see the situation turning around anytime soon.

Esther Luiten, director of the Aquaculture Stewardship Council, suggested that Vietnam should apply for ASC certification.

Founded in 2010 the Council is the globe’s leader for establishing standards for responsible farm raised fish and seafood and its certification is globally recognized as a credible and cost efficient way that would add real value to Vietnam farmed catfish.

Attaching the ASC logo to catfish and all Vietnamese aquaculture products would send a strong message to international consumers about the environmental and social integrity of the product they are purchasing, he added.

Leading Dutch consultant Van Duijvenbode agreed with Mr Luan.  He said the Vietnamese segment should follow the lead of Alaska, Norway and the Netherlands and obtain independent certification from a reputable organization such as ASC.

Simply refuting the allegations made by the Spanish exposé won’t solve the problem and may just exacerbate it. The problem isn’t whether the allegations are true or false, the problem is that consumers accept the allegations as being true and simply refuting the claims solves little.

The industry in Vietnam on the whole needs to take decisive proactive action and get independently certified by a globally recognized organization such as ASC, said Mr. Duijvenbode.

In addition, the segment must improve its ability to communicate with the world in most importantly— the English language.  English is the language of business, and like it or not, Vietnamese must learn to communicate effectively if they are to be competitive in the global marketplace.

Good public relations and marketing is all about communicating in a manner where people focus on the message and not in the way it is relayed. Vietnamese by and large have poor English skills and consequently always come up short on the public relations front, Duijvenbode concluded.

The farm raised catfish segment needs strong spokespersons with excellent English communication skills who can relate to international consumers in a language using terminology and a sentence structure they understand to earn their unbreakable confidence and, in turn, their business.

Otherwise international consumers will continue to believe there is something seriously wrong with Vietnamese catfish.

Region eyes global cashew co-operation

Binh Phuoc Province wants to strengthen co-operation with other provinces and cities as well as foreign countries to aid its industrial development, especially its cashew processing industry, according to its leader.

Speaking at an international clients conference in the cashew industry held in the south-eastern province on May 16, Nguyen Van Tram, chairman of its People’s Committee, said the province had some 143,000 hectares under cashew, accounting for nearly 50 per cent of the country’s total, which yield 150,000 tonnes a year.

Earnings from cashew exports were worth US$500 million last year, or nearly a third of the province’s total export income, he said.

The province is home to more than 200 enterprises and establishments involved in cashew processing, providing jobs for more than 50,000 people.

Despite having the largest cashew cultivation area in the country, its products lack diversification, and are mainly semi-processed products with low value addition.

A majority of the processing firms are small and their technologies are not uniformly modern, which limits the competitiveness of the industry, he said.

Climate change too has caused difficulties for the industry, he said.

“Therefore, through this conference, Binh Phuoc calls for and wants co-operation with provinces and cities and international friends.”

Nguyen Anh Hoang, director of the local Department of Industry and Trade, said the province was seeking domestic and foreign partners to invest or co-operate in producing more diversified products and expanding consumption both in domestic and foreign markets.

“We are also calling for international support to help businesses in the province improve their management capacity in terms of nutrition and food safety to enable more cashew products from the province to penetrate your [foreign] markets.”

Attendees said to enable sustainable development of the sector, enterprises would need to pay more attention to product quality.

Tjasse Pieter Dijksterhuis from the Netherlands’s Decamerone BV said major customers in Europe and the US were increasingly demanding mandatory quality testing, and so companies must ensure specification compliance when exporting.

The US’s food safety regulations are now stricter, with more inspections of suppliers’ facilities, to shift the focus from responding to preventing contamination, according to delegates.

Vu Thai Son, general director of Long Sơn Joint Stock Company, the world’s second largest cashew exporter, said a new law in the US shifted inspection of imported goods from the US to production chains in countries exporting to the US.

"US importers also require their suppliers to ensure corporate social responsibility, and so Vietnamese cashew exporters should learn more about such regulations to ensure that they meet requirements," he said.

Nguyen Duc Thanh, chairman of the Vietnam Cashew Association, said many cashew producers and processors, acknowledging that hygiene and food safety requirements are increasing in the global market, focused on producing clean cashew nuts and ensuring consistent quality.

“Enterprises have shifted from competition in prices to competition in quality, with many firms investing in modern technologies to add value to their products.”

Small and medium-sized firms could face financial difficulties in this regard and should co-operate with large firms, he said.

Nguyen Anh Hoang, director of the province Department of Industry and Trade, said: “We have made great strides in improving product quality at all stages from planting to processing based on stringent hygiene and food safety standards.”

The French Government is sponsoring the province’s efforts to obtain geographical indication certification for Bình Phước Cashew.

Hoàng said this would be a good foundation for the province to promote its best cashew products around the world.  

Huynh Thi Hang, deputy chairwoman of the province People’s Committee and head of the conference organisation board, said the event provided an opportunity for cashew farmers, processors and traders to exchange information and explore business opportunities with local and foreign partners.

The event would also help local cashew farmers and processors and exporters to get updated on global market information and understand customers’ needs, she said.

Vietnam exported 79,000 tonnes of cashew worth $735 million in the first four months of this year, a 13.1 per cent fall in volume but an increase of 7 per cent in value year-on-year, with the US, China and the Netherlands being the largest importers.

HCM City hosts printing exhibition

The Asia-Pacific Screen Printing and Graphic Imaging Association’s exhibition held in HCM City from May 18 to 20 comes to Vietnam for the first time.

Screen printing, speciality printing, digital inkjet, textile printing equipment and related products will be showcased at the three-day Việt Nam International Screen Printing & Digital Printing Technology Exhibition.

To be held at the Saigon Exhibition Conference Centre, it has attracted more than 200 exhibitors from Japan, Vietnam, China, India, Thailand, Korea, Singapore, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, and Hong Kong.

“Digital textile printing is seeing tremendous growth in applications like window displays, upholstery, and apparel,” Johnny Shell, deputy president of the Specialty Graphic Imaging Association, said.

Industrial applications are a new frontier for screen and digital printing technologies, he told a press meeting on May 15.

Direct to garment inkjet, dye sublimation, and heat transfer technologies have all seen tremendous growth in recent times.

Digital package printing technology for a wide range of applications is beginning to come to the market, and this would also be a new opportunity for the corrugate and folding carton markets, he said.

New systems are also being developed for flexible packaging, he added.

ASGA, founded in 1994, represents 11 country members: Japan, Korea, China, Thailand, Indonesia, India, Philippines, Việt Nam, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Australia.

Since 2001 ASGA has organised industrial exhibitions to popularise new technologies in screen printing, speciality printing and digital printing in the Asia-Pacific and to learn and exchange information with related industries and foster trade co-operation globally.

Thanh Hoa calls for investment in 50 big projects

The central province of Thanh Hoa is offering numerous incentives to call for investment in 50 projects totaling 5 billion USD in the locality.

They include exempting land rental fees and providing financial assistance for industrial parks (IPs) infrastructure construction and solid garbage treatment.

Organisations and individuals who encourage enterprises to invest in the local IPs will also get a cash award of up to 500 million VND (22,000 USD).

According to Tran Thi Thu Hang, Director of the provincial Centre for Trade and Investment, nine out of 50 projects are in tourism sector with combined capital of 1.7 billion USD, together with 13 industrial projects worth 1.425 billion USD and nine urban area, industrial park and cluster projects valued at 945 million USD.

Prominent projects include a 700 million USD coastal resort in Quang Xuong district, a 300 million USD coastal tourism site in Sam Son city and a 250 million USD plastic factory with annual capacity of 100,000 – 300,000 tonnes.

Investment projects in culture, sport and environment fields will enjoy land lease exemption. They include the Thanh Hoa sports and fitness complex worth 210 million USD, the 100 million USD Nghi Son urban environment treatment economic zone with the daily capacity of 17,000 cubic metres and the 80 million grid-connected solar power plant.

A project to build the 300-bed Thanh Hoa Hospital of Traumatology and Orthopaedics also enjoys a reduction of up to 60 percent of the land rental fees.

Besides land incentives, the local solid garbage treatment projects with the daily capacity of 200 tonnes will receive an assistance of 320,000 VND per tonnes of solid domestic waste.

Businesses investing in developing infrastructure of industrial parks in districts and and textile industrial clusters with capacity of 250 million USD will be provided with financial aid of between 0.7 – 2.3 billion VND per hectare.

Vietnam encourages Korean investment in electricity projects

Vietnam encourages investment in electricity projects due to increasing domestic demand, Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung told President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Korea Southern Power Company (KOSPO) Yoon Jong-keun during a reception in Hanoi on May 16.

The Deputy PM said Vietnam wants to attract capable and experienced investors to power generation projects, adding that many Korean investors operating in the field have reaped considerable successes in the country.

He asked KOSPO to work closely with the Ministry of Industry and Trade and relevant units to choose business models best suited to their capacity and the Vietnamese market’s conditions to submit to authorities for approval. 

Yoon, for his part, said with more than 40 years of experience and one of the five largest power providers in the Republic of Korea, KOSPO expects to cooperate with Vietnamese enterprises to develop power projects. 

As one of the leading thermal and wind electric utilities in the RoK, KOSPO was established in February 2001 after being split from the Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO).

APEC urged to pioneer in trade, investment liberalisation

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum needs to hold aloft the flag of trade and investment liberalisation despite the fact that there remained scepticism about globalisation and protectionism has arisen in several member economies.

Vietnam’s former Deputy Prime Minister Vu Khoan, who was once Chairman of the APEC 2006 National Committee, made the recommendation while talking with reporters on the sidelines of the “Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue on APEC toward 2020 and Beyond” in Hanoi on May 16.

In 1994, APEC economic leaders convened in Bogor, Indonesia, where they fixed the deadline to realise the free and open trade and investment goals, known as the Bogor Goals, for developed member economies by 2010 and developing economies by 2020.

The Bogor Goals became an orientation for APEC cooperation until 2020 and were expected to turn APEC into a leading region in terms of trade and investment liberalisation. The goals have inspired APEC members to pursue their economic development targets through open trade and investment facilitation in the region.

In pursuance of the Bogor Goals over the past 23 years, APEC has obtained impressive achievements in trade and investment liberalisation. The Second-term Review of APEC’s Progress towards the Bogor Goals released in 2016 showed that the current level of trade and investment liberalisation, and open market has surpassed the level in 1994 when the Bogor Goals were laid out.

The Asia-Pacific region’s annual trade growth was 7.8 percent between 1994 and 2015, reaching 16.5 trillion USD in 2014, while the bloc’s inner trade value grew by four folds. Tariff on average had been slashed by half, from 11 percent in 1996 down to just 5 percent in 2015.

APEC’s trade liberalisation was also indicated by a rapid increase in the number of free trade agreements (FTA) and regional trade agreements (RTA). In other words, APEC became a catalyst for the establishment of many trade agreements. From 1996 to 2015, the number of FTAs/RTAs coming into force increased from 22 to 152, of which 62 deals were signed among APEC members.

However, APEC members are facing a wide range of challenges in realising the Bogor Goals on schedule as there are only three years left and the global economy has experienced various changes since 1994. The global economy has recovered slowly after the financial crisis in 2008 triggered sluggish trade growth in the region. 

Khoan told reporters that the progress in tariff elimination is now hindered by protectionism and non-tariff barriers in several APEC member economies, especially in agriculture, obstructing the process of trade liberalisation and economic connectivity in the region. But, the common trend will overwhelm, he said, adding that if the whole APEC advocates trade liberalisation, protectionism will be pushed back.

Khoan forecast that in the future, APEC will have to rely upon three pillars, namely trade liberalisation, digital technology promotion and response to climate change. The pillars will support each other and help APEC uphold its role, he elaborated.

As the host of APEC Year 2017, Vietnam has included the acceleration of the Bogor Goals into the list of important priorities in the APEC agenda. The country has worked closely with other member economies to deploy initiatives in order to remove obstacles mentioned in the Second-term Review of APEC’s Progress towards the Bogor Goals.

These will be a solid foundation for APEC to build and shape its operation orientations after 2020, focusing on the broader goals of trade and investment liberalisation in a bid to effectively cope with emerging challenges such as innovative, inclusive and sustainable growth, and e-commerce, among others.

To help APEC consistently pursue the Bogor Goals, it requires the steady goodwill of APEC leaders as well as the trust and consensus from businesses, workers and people about the benefits offered by trade liberalisation, and most important, the driver of growth and stability proved over the past two decades.

APEC seminar looks to boost cross-border credit information exchange

The cross-border exchange of credit information is critical to promoting the quality and efficiency of investment and business activities of all APEC member economies, an official of Vietnam’s central bank said.

Deputy Governor of the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) Nguyen Thi Hong made the remark at an APEC seminar in Ninh Binh province on May 16. The event was held on the fringe of the APEC Senior Finance Officials’ Meeting, part of the APEC Vietnam 2017.

Besides senior SBV officials, participants at the seminar included Julius Caesar Parrenas – Coordinator of the Asia-Pacific Financial Forum at the APEC Business Advisory Council, Tony Lythgoe – Advisor at the International Finance Corporation, along with Vietnamese and foreign experts in the field.

They discussed the necessity of cross-border credit information sharing, main factors to build a cross-border information exchange mechanism, a draft cooperation agreement, and the creation of a data dictionary.

Delegates from credit information-related agencies in APEC member economies, ASEAN and ASEAN 3 expressed their willingness to help promote the development of credit reporting systems. They also pointed out challenges to and prospects of cross-border credit information exchange among the APEC members.

Issues discussed at the seminar are particularly important to Vietnam, whose relevant legal frameworks and standards, including cross-border credit information exchange, remain incomplete. The successful formation of a cross-border credit information exchange model will help ensure equality and transparency in investment cooperation, minimising risks posed by unbalanced information.

Meanwhile, cross-border credit information exchange is also believed to open up big opportunities for relevant organisations to expand cooperation, learn from each other’s experience and gain more transparent and reliable information sources, thereby facilitating business activities and people’s credit access in each country.

Vinamilk imports more than 2,000 cows from the US

The Vietnam Dairy Products Joint Stock Company (Vinamilk) has imported from the US a further 2,000 Holstein Friesian cows, which are known as the world's highest-production dairy animals.

The cows have been carefully selected and undergone strict quarantine and health checks by experts prior to their arrival in Vietnam and sent to Vinamilk farm in southwestern Tay Ninh province.

As planned, Vinamilk will increase the herd of cows at the farm from nearly 5,000 to 8,000 heads in the near future.

According to a Vinamilk representative, the company sets an important goal in its development strategy to have fresh milk in place. With more investment, the farms will become a source of raw milk, helping the company improve the quality of products and increase the rate of industry localization.

Vinamilk plans to increase its total herd of cows to around 160,000 heads and 200,000 heads by 2020 to get 1,500-1,800 tons of raw milk a day in the next three years.

Since 2012, the company has spent billions of Vietnam Dong on importing more than 8,000 cows from Australia, New Zealand and the US.

Vinamilk is Vietnam’s largest dairy company and among the world’s top 50. Its products have been exported to 43 countries, including the US, Japan, Middle East, Thailand and the Philippines.  It now owns 10 farms and 13 factories in Vietnam and three factories in the US, New Zealand and Cambodia.

HCM City: travel companies roll out summer travel deals

Travel businesses in Ho Chi Minh City are offering discount tours this summer to attract more tourists.

Prices for 4-5 day package tours to central provinces have fallen to VND2.2-4.6 million (US$97-202) per person. Travel companies have also stabilised prices for foreign tours and offered deals for budget travellers.

Tour operator Fiditour has launched 300 tourism deals from the beginning of this summer, said Do Chau Quyen, a media official from Fiditour, adding that bookings have surged 15 percent from the same time last year.

Top destinations include Nha Trang, Con Dao, Phu Quoc and Mui Ne-Phan Thiet.

To meet increasing demand, Fiditour has opened new tours to Quy Nhon-Phu Yen, bringing vacationers to new tourist attractions like Ky Co- touted as Vietnam’s Maldives, Hon Kho (Dry island) and Eo Gio (wind strait).

It also offers new packages to visit lavender fields in Hokkaido (Japan), and experience nomadic culture in Mongolia.

Meanwhile, tour operator Vietravel will run the “colourful summer, full of joy” programme from May 19 to August 3, providing new journeys at reasonable prices, including skiing in Australia.

Special discounts will be offered to groups of tour buyers (up to VND800,000 (US$35.27) per person) and those who holiday in the country or South East Asia.     

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