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BUSINESS IN BRIEF 11/11

Last update: 08:30 | 11/11/2017

Hosting APEC opens up new FDI opportunities


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Hosting the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Week, especially the APEC CEO Summit 2017 with the participation of a series of CEOs of the world’s leading group, is expected to open a new age in attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) capital from APEC economies.

On November 8, the APEC CEO Summit 2017 was officially opened in the central city of Danang with the participation of more than 800 CEOs from leading groups in the Asia-Pacific, including Elon Musk–the founder of Tesla Motors, Sheryl Sandberg–CEO of Facebook, Liam Mallon–chairman of ExxonMobil, Mark Konyn–investment director of AIA, and Scott Price–deputy chairman of Global Leverage-Walmart International, as well as the CEOs of DHL, Johnson & Johnson, and FedEx Express, among others.

Many of the above mentioned groups has expressed interest in investing in Vietnam, including ExxonMobil with the $10-billion Blue Whale gas-to-power complex project and Walmart with the ambition to set its foot in the retail market.

Thus, after the APEC 2017 CEO Summit, Vietnam expects to shake hands with more groups from APEC economies and attract more investment capital to numerous sectors, including processing and manufacturing and real estate, as well as new sectors in the framework of the Industry 4.0.

The APEC Year 2017 was seen as a golden opportunity for Vietnam to lure FDI capital from APEC economies, and the past ten months have lived up to expectations. Notably, APEC economics poured $24 billion into Vietnam, making up 85 per cent of the total FDI inflow. The figure is expected to be much higher by the time the APEC 2017 ends.

Vietnam officially joined the APEC in 1998 and during the past 30 years, APEC economies made significant contributions to Vietnam’s development. In particular, Japan, the US, the Republic of Korea, Thailand, and Singapore were the first foreign investors pouring investment capital into Vietnam after the economy opened to FDI capital in 1986.

According to statistics released by the Foreign Investment Agency (FIA), as of October 20, 2017, with the exemption of Peru and Papua New Guinea, who have yet to invest in Vietnam, all APEC members poured an accumulated capital of $246.3 billion, equalling 78.6 per cent of the total FDI inflows coming to the country in the nearly 30 years past.

Besides the British Virgin Islands, nine of the ten foreign investors having the largest FDI capital in Vietnam are APEC economies. These particularly include South Korea, Japan, Singapore, China, and the US, among others. All of them are strategic investors to Vietnam with the total investment capital of $237.5 billion, equalling 96.5 per cent of the total FDI capital from APEC economies and 76 per cent of the total FDI capital inflows.

These economies and their projects have made remarkable contributions to the socio-economic development of Vietnam. For example, investments from Samsung (the Republic of Korea), Honda (Japan), Sembcorp (Singapore), as well as Microsoft, General Electrics, and Intel from the US are all great success stories that propelled Vietnam along its speedy development. 

According to Prof. Nguyen Mai, chairman of the Vietnam Association of Foreign Invested Enterprises, FDI in general and FDI from APEC economies in particular play an important role in establishing spearhead economic sectors, including exploiting and refining petrochemicals, automobile manufacturing, cement, iron and steel processing, as well as electronics and food production, among others. These capital inflows have generated momentum for the Vietnamese economy at large.

However, after 30 years of attracting FDI capital, Vietnam should establish a new strategy to optimise the benefits of this capital. Especially, Vietnam should focus on FDI capital from APEC economies because they are world-leading economies with modern technology and professional management capacity. Taking these opportunities will make it easier for Vietnam to join the global value chain.

Thai Binh hosts international agriculture trade fair

More than 200 domestic and international enterprises are displaying their agricultural products at a trade fair that opened in the northern province of Thai Binh on November 8.

The event forms part of the annual national trade promotion programme to enhance cooperation in agriculture and rural development.

Addressing the opening ceremony, Bui Huy Son, Director of the Trade Promotion Agency under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, hailed the locality for hosting the annual event over the past 12 years, adding that it presents opportunities for enterprises to meet consumers and seek partners.

The event features local products and those from other northern localities, namely Hanoi, Hai Phong, Nam Dinh, Hai Duong, Ninh Binh, Thai Nguyen, Phu Tho, Yen Bai, Lai Chau, Ha Nam, and Hung Yen.

The seven-day event also comprises a photo exhibition on the development of Thai Binh.

APEC 2017: Vietnam has successful economic development model

Vietnam has been appraised for its successful development model thanks to impressive economic growth and radical reform to attract investment, particularly after the country joined APEC forum in 1998, said PhD Arisman, director of the Centre for Southeast Asian Studies (CSEAS).

In an interview with Jakarta-based Vietnam News Agency correspondent, he praised Vietnam’s meticulous preparation for APEC 2017 events with the most important APEC 2017 Economic Leaders’ Week in Da Nang city.

He said that this is an opportunity for Vietnam to popularise national images as well as promote socio-economic development.

Meanwhile, Kim Sang Yeol, Vietnamese honourable Consul General in Gwangju-Chonnam region, the Republic of Korea, made positive comments on Vietnam’s socio-economic development after more than 30 years of Doi Moi (reform) as well as expressed his belief in the Southeast Asian country’s economic potentials.

Kim, who is also General Director of Hoban Construction Co., Ltd and President of the Korean Broadcasting System (KBS), highlighted that Vietnam is a promising market which offers favourable conditions for foreign investors including those from the RoK to enlarge their business.

Shang Feng, a lecturer from China’s University of International Business and Economics, noted opportunities of Vietnam, the host of the APEC 2017 events, include rapid economic development, abundance of workforce, competitive labour costs and sound business climate.

However, its formidable challenges are poor infrastructure system, shortage of skillful workers and incomplete economic institution reforms, he said.

Thousands of people join H&M launch in Hanoi

Despite there being two days left until the official opening day, thousands of people started shopping at the H&M store in Hanoi on its launching ceremony organised on November 8.

People, especially young people, were excited to line up to buy their first H&M products in the Hanoi store.

Besides, the launching ceremony attracted famous actors and models, including models Thuy Hanh and Kim Dung, among others.

To celebrate the opening of their first stores in Hanoi, all customers will receive a complementary discount for all items at the stores in the capital and have the opportunity to receive special presents.

The store showcases the latest menswear, women’s clothing, footwear, undergarment, and accessories, as well as products for kids.

HCM City works with Indian firm in urban flood control

Ho Chi Minh City wants to work with Kirloskar Brothers Limited from India in fields of mutual concern, especially in urban flood control and solutions to saltwater intrusion, said Vice Chairman of the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee Tran Vinh Tuyen.

The official made the statement on November 7 while receiving Shipra Tripathi, Vice President of the Indian firm.

At the meeting, Tuyen lauded the development of Vietnam – India relations as well as the cooperation of Ho Chi Minh City and Indian businesses, including Kirloskar Brothers Limited. He vowed to create best conditions for the firm to set up projects in the city.

For her part, Tripathi expressed her hope to expand ties with Ho Chi Minh City in the firm’s strong suits like flood management in urban areas, agricultural irrigation and solutions to fire control.

The two sides agreed to study feasible projects in the future.

Vietnam enjoys strong growth in shrimp exports to RoK

Vietnam has so far this year exported US$243.2 million worth of shrimp to the Republic of Korea (RoK), a surge of 29.8% year on year, reported the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers.

The RoK is currently the fifth largest market of Vietnamese shrimp after the EU, Japan, China and the US.

vietnam enjoys strong growth in shrimp exports to rok hinh 0 In 2007-2016, Vietnam’s shrimp exports to the RoK enjoyed strong growth, with the country a stable market where shrimp are sold at a high price.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development views the RoK as a promising market with opportunities for domestic shrimp exporters amidst difficulties in traditional markets such as the US and the EU.

Bac Ninh: A spotlight in drawing FDI

The northern province of Bac Ninh had attracted 1,102 foreign direct investment (FDI) projects by the end of October with total registered capital of US$15.8 billion, sixth among the 63 cities and provinces nationwide in FDI attraction.

According to the provincial Department of Planning and Investment, Bac Ninh recorded impressive growth in drawing foreign investment with 145 new projects and 103 existing ones with increased capital.

The province came second nationwide after the southern economic hub of Ho Chi Minh City with total newly registered and additional capital of US$3.19 billion.

Deputy Director of the department Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao said major groups such as Samsung from the Republic of Korea, Nokia from Finland, and ABB from Switzerland have invested in the locality.

Among them, Samsung is the biggest overseas investor in Bac Ninh. The company was granted an investment license in 2014 and has increased its capital to US$6.5 billion, she noted.

The FDI sector made positive contributions to local export growth, budget collection, and employment, Thao said, adding that foreign firms have generated jobs for more than 169,000 workers.

Deputy Director of the Foreign Investment Department under the Ministry of Planning and Investment Vu Van Chung said Bac Ninh recognised the local achievements in FDI attraction; however, adding that the outcomes have yet to match potential.

He called on local authorities to map out long-term strategies to lure foreign capital while improving the investment climate, administrative procedures, and infrastructure in addition to reforming investment promotion activities and developing high-quality human resources.

Singapore’s businesses pour US$41.7 billion into Vietnam

Vietnam attracted more than 1,900 foreign direct investment (FDI) projects from Singaporean businesses in January-October, which were valued at US$41.7 billion.

According to the Ministry of Planning and Investment, a Singaporean project has average capital of US$21.6 million, above the foreign project average in Vietnam of US$12.9 million.

Singapore is investing in 18 out of the 21 economic sectors in Vietnam, including the manufacturing and processing industry with 548 projects worth nearly US$18 billion, making up 44% of the country’s total investment in Vietnam.

Singapore has also invested in 48 out of the 63 cities and provinces in Vietnam. The southern metropolis of Ho Chi Minh City drew the biggest number of Singaporean projects (992) with total registered capital of US$10.3 billion, followed by Hanoi capital (310 projects).

Speaking at a recent ministerial meeting on connecting Vietnam and Singapore’s economy, Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyen Chi Dung said one of the highlights of Singapore’s FDI in Vietnam is the Vietnam-Singapore Industrial Park (VSIP).

So far, the VSIP Group has invested in eight projects in Vietnam, including three in the southern province of Binh Duong, three in the northern provinces of Bac Ninh, Hai Phong and Hai Duong, and two in the central provinces of Quang Ngai and Nghe An.

With the hope of expanding the VSIP model, Singapore’s Sembcorp Development group is preparing to build a similar industrial park in the north-central province of Quang Tri.

The Vietnamese Government has approved the project and directed the Ministry of Planning and Investment and the provincial People’s Committee to work with the Singaporean group to carry out the project.

VSIPs in Vietnam have lured more than 720 investors from 30 countries and territories with total investment of nearly US$10 billion. Businesses at VSIPs also earned US$32 billion from exports and generated jobs for about 200,000 workers.

State turns inward for PPP plans

Despite growing interest among international groups, Vietnam might have to pivot to domestic investment in developing the eastern spur of the North-South Expressway project amid a lack of a guarantee mechanism for foreign investors.

According to Deputy Minister of Transport Nguyen Nhat, Vietnam lacks the type of guarantee mechanism requested by international groups and in line with global norms. The country currently cannot offer a guarantee for investors’ revenue and exchange rate risks.

“Thus the project will be built with a plan to mobilise over VND63 trillion ($2.86 billion) worth of private investment, of which VND13 trillion ($590.9 million) will be from investors and VND50 trillion ($2.27 billion) from bank loans, aimed at targeting domestic investors,” Nhat told VIR.

Amid state budget constraints, the country is seeking internationally capable groups to join the project via international bidding. Many supporting policies have been considered.

Nguyen Danh Huy, head of the Ministry of Transport’s (MoT) Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Department, said, “For the first time, Vietnam agrees to provide a support of VND55 trillion ($2.5 billion), which includes site clearance, making it the highest state capital contribution in such a project so far. We have proposed the government increase the profit-to-equity ratio to 14 per cent to attract investors.”

At present, the ratio is curbed at 11-12 per cent a year for build-operate-transfer (BOT) projects, a PPP format.

In spite of that, at some meetings held in South Korea, Singapore, and India to consult international groups about this project, more than 28 leading international transport infrastructure developers and 17 international credit institutions all proposed the guarantee mechanism, while suggesting the profit-to-investment ratio be set at 17 per cent based on Vietnam’s economic scale.

“The proposals make foreign investment attraction for such a project more difficult. The Dau Giay-Phan Thiet Expressway project, which was built to attract foreign investors under the PPP format since 1997, is a typical unsuccessful example because of the lack of this mechanism,” Nhat said.

In the prefeasibility study for developing some routes of the project from 2017-2020 submitted to the National Assembly (NA) last week, MoT Minister Nguyen Van The said that priority will be given to the development of 11 routes in the first stage totalling 654 kilometres, including three public-invested ones and eight PPP projects. These priority segments include Cao Bo-Bai Vot, Cam Lo-Son La, Mai Son-Bai Vot, Nha Trang-Dau Giay, and My Thuan 2 Bridge.

The total investment for the 2017-2020 period is estimated at VND118.72 trillion ($5.39 billion), with over VND63 trillion ($2.86 billion) to be mobilised by investors and VND55 trillion ($2.5 billion) to be sourced from the state.

Over 700km of the expressway will be developed in each of the second and third stages. From 2021-2025, the Bai Vot-Cam Lo and Quang Ngai-Nha Trang routes will be built, and the La Son-Tuy Loan segment will be upgraded from two lanes to four. In the post-2025 period, the Can Tho-Ca Mau route will be built.

The minister admitted that mobilising funds from domestic credit institutions has proven difficult, while getting loans from international lenders requires a government guarantee, a mechanism that Vietnam still lacks. “If approved by the NA, some routes of the project will be able to kick off in 2019,” he added.

Vu Hong Thanh, head of the NA Economic Committee, agreed in principle with the investment plan. He, however, noted that the PPP model – especially the BOT format – has proven problematic, and asked the government to take measures to deal with the problems.

The eastern spur of the North-South Expressway project, which is estimated to cost VND230 trillion ($10.5 billion) – with over 2,100 kilometres to be built by 2025– is considered an economically- and politically-important project. It will run through 32 cities and provinces, affecting 45 per cent of the country’s population, 65 per cent of ports, and 67 per cent of economic zones.

The project has been attracting the attention of many foreign investors. South Korea-based Posco E&C has expressed its interest in the project after joining many transport infrastructure projects in Vietnam, including Hanoi-Lao Cai and Long Thanh-Dau Giay expressways.

Another leading South Korean infrastructure developer, Lotte E&C, and many other international groups from Japan and the US are also studying investment opportunities in the project.

Quang Ninh tourism reaches yearly target ahead of schedule

The northeastern border province of Quang Ninh attracted more than 8.6 million tourists in the first ten months of 2017, including nearly 3.4 million foreigners, year-on-year jumps of 18% and 21%, respectively.

In 2017, Quang Ninh aims to serve 8.5 million visitors, including 3.5 million foreigners, and earn VND13 trillion (US$572 million) in revenue.

The number of visitors to the province’s Ha Long Bay increased 25% to reach 3.2 million by the end of October, including about 2.1 million international tourists (up 26% against the same period last year).

The rise was attributed to the creation of more attractive and better-quality products and services along with improved tourism infrastructure and transport, experts said.

Furthermore, several festivals were held such as Yen Tu festival, cherry and yellow apricot blossom festival, Ha Long-Quang Ninh tourism week, and Ha Long art programme.

The diversification of tourism promotion activities drew much attention from domestic and foreign visitors.

Themed “Ha Long: Heritage, wonder and friendly destination", the National Tourism Year 2018 will include 100 events hosted by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism along with some cities and provinces nationwide.

A number of activities will be held in Quang Ninh, including the opening and closing ceremonies of the National Year, a cuisine festival, a paragliding competition, a photo contest, and a ceremony to present a certificate recognising Cua Ong temple as a special national relic site, among others.

Under the Overall Plan for Tourism Development in Quang Ninh, Quang Ninh strives to become an international tourism centre and a leading tourism destination in Vietnam with modern infrastructure and diverse, high quality and competitive tourism products.  

By 2020, Quang Ninh aims to welcome 15-16 million tourists, including seven million foreigners, and rake in VND30-40 trillion (US$1.3-1.7 billion) in revenue. The tourism sector is expected to contribute 14-15% to the gross regional domestic product (GRDP). 

In 2016, Quang Ninh welcomed 8.3 million tourist arrivals, a year-on-year increase of seven percent, and earned more than VND13 trillion (US$571 million) in revenue, up 23%, according to the Quang Ninh Department of Tourism. 

The world natural heritage site of Ha Long Bay alone welcomed 6.3 million tourists and grossed VND7.7 trillion (over US$338 million) in revenue, respective increases of 14% and 65% from the previous year. About 2.7 million of the visitors were foreigners, year-on-year growth of 16%. 

With a range of stunning landscapes, clear turquoise sea and spectacular limestone pillars together with numerous tourism investment projects, Quang Ninh boasts huge potential to develop tourism.

The province has a coastline of more than 250 kilometres and over 2,000 islets, two-thirds of the total number in Vietnam. The spectacular stretch of coast connects the UNESCO-recognised World Heritage Site of Ha Long Bay with majestic natural scenery, Bai Tu Long Bay, Van Don and Co To islands and Tra Co beach with Cat Ba National Park in the northern port city of Hai Phong.

Ha Long Bay, Cat Ba island and Do Son beach (Hai Phong city) are slated to be developed into national tourism sites. 

Along with the renowned Ha Long Bay, Quan Lan, Minh Chau, Ngoc Vung, Dai beaches in Van Don island district and Tra Co and Vinh Thuc in Mong Cai city have grown in stature among domestic and international tourists thanks to their breathtaking sea and coral reef.

Farm co-ops target int’l links     

Viet Nam wants to enhance co-operation with international organisations to promote the development of agricultural co-operatives, especially in supporting market access and management capacity, participants said at a seminar in HCM City on Monday.

Dang Van Thanh, vice director of Co-operative Development Department under the Ministry of Planning and Investment, said Viet Nam’s legal framework for co-operative development had contributed to increasing the number of co-operatives and their improvement in scale, technology and markets.

As of the end of last year, the country had 19,569 co-operatives with more than 6.25 million members. Of these, 10,726 were agricultural co-operatives.

But agricultural co-operatives are facing difficulties, including a shortage of capital, lack of consultancy from staff and post-harvest preservation systems, and weak linkages among farmers, co-operatives and enterprises.

There was also limited management capacity among co-operatives’ leaders, according to Thanh.

Most of the co-operatives supply inputs to household farmers’ production, and only 12 per cent of co-operatives were active in processing and consumption of farm produce, while many operate moderately, which has not brought about practical benefits for members. Some are on the verge of dissolution.

Tran Thanh Nam, the Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, said that agricultural co-operatives needed to learn from local and international experience to enable them to improve their performance and build new co-operative models to serve their members better and help them face challenges in the market.

In the past, Vietnamese and international organisations have had good co-operation in developing agricultural co-operatives, he said.

Through the seminar, the ministry wanted to provide international organisations with more information about agricultural co-operative development in Viet Nam and at the same time to enhance co-operation with them, he said.

JongHa Bae, representative of the Food and Agriculture Organisation in Viet Nam, said: “Viet Nam agriculture has demonstrated remarkable growth in terms of production in the last three decades, but farmers’ income is still low. So right now, we should focus more on how to improve farmers’ livelihood.”

Co-operatives provide an opportunity for small-scale farmers to improve their productivity, add value to their produce, and increase their access to national and international markets, Bae said.

Nguyen Ngoc Bao, President of Viet Nam Co-operative Alliance (VCA), proposed that the ILO, FAO, UNDP, JICA and other international organisations sponsor advise the VCA to improve its communication capacity, modernise its information system, its investment and trade promotion centre, and train human resources in the co-operative sector and others.

“The importance of co-operatives is especially significant in the context of restructuring of agriculture and new rural construction,” Le Duc Thinh, vice director of Department of Co-operative Economics and Rural Development, said.

The country targets having 20,000 agricultural co-operatives by 2020, of which 15,000 operate efficiently.

About 50-60 per cent of farmer households are members of agricultural co-operatives, with at least 1,000 safe agricultural product chains by then.

He also listed eight priority missions in agricultural co-operative development, including raising awareness of the role, effective model of co-operatives, improving policies for agricultural co-operative development, and providing training and capacity building.

Promoting linkages in the value chain, transferring science technology, and strengthening capacity of financial management and capital mobilisation are also considered important.

The sector wants to co-operate with international organisations to promote the development of agricultural co-operatives, according to Thinh.

At the event, a memorandum of understanding was signed to form the Network of Agricultural Co-operative Development Partners (NETCOOP) to promote the development of agricultural co-operatives, sustainable economic growth and the prosperity of the agricultural sector in Viet Nam.

The main partners in NETCOOP are: Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Ministry of Planning and Investment, the VCA, the School of Management for Agriculture and Rural Development, the Department of Co-operative Economics and Rural Development, the Institute of Policy and Strategy for Agriculture and Rural Development, FAO, the German Agency for Development Co-operation (GIZ) and Canadian Co-operation Society for International Development (Socodevi), together with many other Vietnamese and international organsiations.

The seminar was organised by MARD, GIZ and Bayer Viet Nam in the framework of the Better Rice Initiative Asia.     

VietinBank issues bonds with attractive interest rates     

Viet Nam Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Industry and Trade (VietinBank) is issuing 20,000 bonds in phase 1 of its public offering from October 25 to November 13, 2017.

The bonds are issued at par value of VND10 million (US$440) per bond, equivalent to a total value of VND2 trillion. This is a non-convertible, unsecured by property bond and has a term of 10 years.

The interest rate is equal to the reference interest rate plus 1.2 per cent per annum. The minimum number of registered bonds is 10 bonds, equivalent to VND100 million. The interest rate applicable to the whole 10-year period is a floating rate (periodically adjusted interest rate).

The interest is paid annually, exactly one year from the date of issue. Only the interest for the 10th interest payment period of the bond is paid together with the bond principal on the maturity date.

One can register to purchase bonds in the first phase from October 25 to November 13. The second phase is expected to take place from the end of November to December 2017. Customers can register to buy bonds at branches or transaction offices of VietinBank.

VietinBank can repurchase all bonds at the repurchase price that is prevailing five years from the issue date. Customers are free to transfer, donate, inherit and use bonds as collateral or engage in other civil and commercial transactions in accordance with the provisions of law. 

Banks offer high interest rates to mobilise deposits     

Many banks, especially small- and medium-sized ones, are offering high interest rates and promotion programmes to compete for the mobilisation of deposits.

They are offering high interest rates for long-term deposits to lure customers and to meet the rising capital demands in the last months of the year.

For example, customers will enjoy interest rates of 8.2 percent per year for an 18-month term when depositing money at Viet Capital Bank, or 8 per cent per year for a 24-month term at VietABank.

Besides, to attract customers, apart from high interest rates, the banks will also offer attractive promotion programmes. For example, HDBank has a promotion programme with a total value of nearly VND14.5 billion (US$638,700) for customers who deposit from just VND60 million for at least one month.

Kienlongbank and Viet Capital Bank are also attracting capital through promotion programmes for depositors nationwide, with a total value of more than VND6.8 billion and VND2 billion, respectively.

Apart from long term, some banks have also added an interest rate range of 0.2-0.4 per cent per year for medium-term deposits. For example, at PVcombank, customers will enjoy the highest interest rate of 7.9 per cent per year and an additional interest rate of 0.4 per cent per year when depositing at least VND30 million for a six-month term and above.

At larger banks, competition in savings mobilisation is also rather intense, with an average interest rate of 5.5-6 per cent per year for terms of 1-6 months, and 7-7.8 per cent per year for terms from one year. For example, at a Vietcombank’s transaction office in HCM City, when customers withdraw a large amount of money, the manager quickly offers invitations to make a deposit, with interest rates being calculated on a daily basis.

Another large bank allows customers to withdraw part of their principal when they urgently need capital and enjoy a no-term interest rate for that money, while the rest of the amount still enjoys a term interest rate.

Financial experts said that the last quarter of the year is a very good time for banks to improve outstanding loans, as the capital demand of businesses has always increased during this period. However, banks should be cautious with the bad debt risk, as credit growth is high. 

Rising capital demand puts pressure on liquidity     

Rising capital demand in the last few months of the year has put pressure on the liquidity of the banking system.

This has caused the central bank to pump a significant amount of money into the banking system to support the liquidity, a new report from the Saigon Securities Company (SSI) revealed.

In its weekly report on the monetary market, SSI said the central bank pumped VND6.8 trillion (US$299.5 million) into the banking system last week following seven consecutive weeks of withdrawing money out of the system.

The interest rate in the inter-bank market last week also increased for the second consecutive week. The overnight rate closed the week at 0.7 per cent, up 3 basis points from the end of the previous week. The rate for one-week loans rose by 14 basis points to 0.99 per cent.

SSI forecast that the liquidity of the banking system will suffer more pressure in the next few months when the capital demand rises sharply.

With the aim of meeting the rising capital demand, many banks, especially small- and medium-sized ones, are offering high-interest rates and promotion programmes to compete for the mobilisation of deposits.

According to statistics from the State Bank of Viet Nam, credit growth in the first nine months of this year rose 11.02 per cent against December last year. The increase was much higher than the rates of 10.78 per cent and 10.46 per cent in the same period in 2015 and 2016, respectively.

Gamuda Land plans to expand investment in VN     

Gamuda Land, one of Malaysia’s leading property developers, plans to expand investment in Viet Nam, particularly in Ha Noi and HCM City.

“We are exploring new landbank in Viet Nam and some of the areas that Gamuda Land is considering is in the north of HCM City in Go Vap District and District 12, as well as District 9 in the south of the city,” the company’s Chief Operating Officer, Ngan Chee Meng, said.

Viet Nam was an investment destination for Gamuda Land’s first overseas project.

In 2007, the company decided to develop Gamuda City, a high-end real estate project comprising residential homes and a bustling business and commercial hub built around Yen So Park in Ha Noi. The project is divided into three precincts: the underway Gamuda Gardens, Gamuda City Central and Gamuda Lakes.

The company’s second project in the country is the ongoing Celadon City, which covers 82-ha in HCM City.

“When we first ventured into Viet Nam in 2007, township development was a new concept in the country as property developments in those days were on a smaller scale. The legal framework for larger scale projects such as Gamuda City was still work-in-progress so implementation was a slow process for us as we continuously work with the government through constructive feedback to enhance the framework. Today, the market is much more stable with the State’s monetary policies,” Ngan said.

According to Ngan, the high rate of urbanisation and the increased population allow his company to venture into new areas that have never been entered into previously by other developers, creating opportunities for new projects.

At the same time, the company also has an option to invest in developments that have been delayed by other underqualified developers, with the support and encouragement from local government, he said.

He further added that the company goal is to have a lasting presence in Viet Nam, to contribute to the company’s development, and to grow alongside the community.

“In the short run, we strive to become one of leading developers in Viet Nam,” he said, adding that his company also wants to further solidify its reputation as a ‘town-maker’ that creates places people will call home, be a part of, as well as where they will grow up and grow old.

Besides the business expansion, Gamuda Land has also joined many social activities.

Since 2013, the company has joined hands with Heart Beat Vietnam Fund to organise a charity run to raise funds for Vietnamese children with heart disease. After four years, the run has raised VND7.9 billion (US$350,000), helping 338 young hearts.

This year’s events will return to Ha Noi’s Yen So Park on December 3, and it is expected to attract more than 10,000 people. 

BIM Group, Regent develop first six-star resort on Phu Quoc     

Vietnamese property developer BIM Group is co-operating with Asian-based global hospitality group Regent Hotels & Resorts to develop the first six-star resort on Phu Quoc Island.

Regent Phu Quoc, a luxury resort and residential development, will be built on an area of 15ha with 76 villas, 42 sky villas and 120 hotel rooms, together with luxury facilities and amenities such as rooftop bar, sky bar, gym, beach club, spa and a Michelin-star restaurant.

It is expected that Regent Phu Quoc with its state-of-the-art design on an immense water surface in accordance with the typical colours of Vietnamese architecture will become a “pearl” of the island’s real estate market.

Carrying the Regent brand, which has set the benchmark for luxury hotels worldwide since it was founded in 1970, synonymous with timeless style, supreme comfort and intuitive service, Regent Phu Quoc promises to attract the upper class who want to experience timeless elegance, to appreciate age-old traditions in rhythm with modern-day trends and to indulge in underrated luxury.

Going beyond five-star luxury standards, it is easy to understand why Regent Hotels & Resorts is always on the list of favourite destinations of world celebrities such as singer Alicia Keys and model Cindy Crawford.

Many believed Regent Phu Quoc is another big step forward for BIM Group, following success in a series of previous projects such as InterContinental Phu Quoc Long Beach Resort & Residences.

Operated by one of the world’s leading hospitality groups InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), InterContinental Phu Quoc Long Beach Resort & Residences has become a “phenomenon” in the real estate market of Phu Quoc since the first day it was launched for sale.

Just a short 1-2 hour flight from the capital cities of ASEAN countries, Phu Quoc Island with beautiful white beaches, primary forest and abundant ecosystem is emerging as a must-go destination for tourists.

The island has attracted huge investment in tourism property development to exploit its potential by prestigious developers such as BIM Group, Sun Group and Vingroup.

The development of Phu Quoc Island in the southern province of Kien Giang is also promising, given the Government’s plan of developing it into a special administrative-economic zone.

Under the project of establishing the Phu Quoc Special Administrative-Economic Unit which recently got approval by Kien Giang People’s Council, Phu Quoc was expected to become a hub for tourism, trade, research and development, and finance-banking services.

The draft law on the Special Administrative-Economic Unit is being discussed at the fourth plenary meeting of the 14th National Assembly, which is expected, when it comes into force, will create a breakthrough for special administrative-economic units, including Phu Quoc, Van Don in the northern province of Quang Ninh and Bac Van Phong in the central province of Khanh Hoa.

ASEAN Green Bond Standards launched to drive sustainable investments     

The ASEAN Capital Markets Forum (ACMF) on Wednesdat held its first ASEAN Capital Market Conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Themed “Strengthening ASEAN Capital Market Connectivity”, the conference saw the attendance of over 300 participants from the region, representing issuers, investors, intermediaries, regulators and experts from institutions like the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), the International Capital Markets Association and the World Bank (WB).

The panel sessions at the conference discussed topics, including infrastructure and green financing, corporate governance and changing market dynamics in the age of digitisation.

The launch of the ASEAN Green Bond Standards (AGBS) was held in conjunction with the conference. The AGBS were developed based on ICMA’s Green Bond Principles tailored to meet the needs and commitment of ASEAN. The AGBS label is to be used only for issuers and projects in the region and specifically excludes fossil fuel-related projects.

Addressing the event, Chair of ACMF Ranjit Ajit Singh said that ASEAN must grow in a responsible and sustainable manner. Growth cannot come at the expense of our future generations. It is necessary to support efforts to protect the environment and the ASEAN Green Bond Standards will help in the allocation of resources towards climate friendly investments.

Martin Scheck, Chief Executive of ICMA, welcomed the alignment of AGBS with Green Bond Principles. He also congratulated ACMF’s remarkable initiative to introduce the ASEAN Green Bond Standards, which will promote the development of ASEAN Green Bonds and their compatibility with the international market.

The ACMF remains committed to increasing ASEAN connectivity and facilitating the development of market solutions by engaging and collaborating with industry and stakeholders through dialogue. It will also increase its interactions with the Industry Consultative Panels that it established to gather industry input for its proposals.

The ACMF is a high-level grouping of capital market regulators from all 10 ASEAN, including Viet Nam.  

KBEE Ho Chi Minh City comes stronger than ever

The Korea Trade & Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA) held the Korean Brand & Entertainment Expo 2017 (KBEE 2017) at GEM Centre in Ho Chi Minh City on November 9,

This is part of the activities celebrating the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Vietnam and Korea and to promote Vietnamese-Korean friendly relations through cultural and commercial exchanges.

Being one of the biggest events organised by KOTRA, KBEE aims to promote the Korean wave and products to foreign consumers and businesses. The event was co-organised and supported by the Korean Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Korea Creative Content Agency, Lotte Homeshopping, Emart, Edutech, and Naver.

KBEE 2017 Ho Chi Minh City saw the participation of 100 Korean companies and 400 foreign enterprises. This event also featured famous celebrities from the two countries, such as Song Ji Hyo, iKON from Korea as the official ambassadors of KBEE 2017 Ho Chi Minh City; SNUPER from Korea and singer Noo Phuoc Thinh as special guests; and KRUNK–the iconic artist from YG as a special ambassador of the programme.

Taking place on November 8-10 at GEM Center, the exhibition consists of four main activities.

The first is business matching. Accordingly, there will be many trade and investment promotion activities between the two countries. Exhibition booths at KBEE will give visitors the opportunity to experience the latest fashion trends from Korea and the Pyeong Chang 2018 Winter Olympics. In addition, visitors can also approach a wide range of Korean products to improve living quality, such as cleaning products, kitchen utensils, and washing machines.

Other activities to promote economic exchange between the two countries are also organised at KBEE, such as Edutech Seminar and a Job Fair.

Korean educational enterprises will introduce the most outstanding products and services, such as education and training services, publishing, franchising, online learning, next-generation education, digital English learning platform, and a variety of other services and training products.

The second is experience. Many experimental programmes will take place with various activities, such as the livestream introduction of Korean products by leading bloggers in Vietnam, a home-shopping show for Korean products, Korean wave make-up demonstration by Korean artists, and a Korean style make-up show. There are also many entertainment activities at KBEE, such as movies, music, games, and virtual reality experience, among others.

The third is K-wave, whereby KBEE ambassadors and famous Korean artists will appear to meet fans and hand out signatures as well as perform and promote Korean products to Vietnamese consumers.

The last is that people will have the opportunity to enjoy K-pop music performances by Korean stars.

In addition, within the framework of KBEE 2017, the Korean Consumer Goods Festival was held at LOTTE Mart in District 7 on November 3-5 and at Emart Go Vap on November 8-12, with many exciting activities, giving the opportunity to experience high-quality Korean products and receive interesting gifts.

"KBEE is one of the biggest events held by KOTRA that aims to promote the Korean Wave and products to foreign consumers and businesses. This exhibition in Ho Chi Minh City is expected to promote cultural exchange and trade co-operation between the two countries,” said president and CEO of KOTRA, Kim Jae Hong.

The first time held in Thailand in 2010, KBEE has been successfully held in many countries around the world, becoming one of the largest events to promote Korean brands and entertainment to global consumers.

Vietnam highly entrepreneurial country: OECD official

Vietnam is a highly entrepreneurial country, and rapidly modernising, said Phil O’Reilly, Chair of the Business and Industry Advisory Committee to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

“It would be important for Vietnam to make sure that the domestic reform process is going on and is executed well otherwise some of the entrepreneurial opportunities that the country has might not work,” he said on the sidelines of the ongoing APEC CEO Summit from November 8-10.

Vietnam also plays its part in the multilateral system, including APEC and ASEAN, he said, adding that the future is bright for countries like Vietnam. 

According to the official, Vietnam is among many countries benefiting from globalisation.

“We can see people getting better jobs in places like Vietnam. So the energy around globalisation will continue but we need to explain it better, we need to make sure that more people benefit from it,” said he.

“We have to make sure we have good social protection system, good learning and re-skilling so that more people feel that they have a stake in the success of globalisation,” he added. 

He also expressed his belief that Vietnam will work well in improving human resources’ skills, which are good for the country in the 21st century, especially in the digital age. 

“Making sure that our young people are resilient to changes so that they can move jobs, making sure that young people in particular and also mature age people in the economies have more digital skills,” he stressed.

Regarding MSMEs’ contribution to APEC economies, he said they are the backbone of every economy in APEC and the world as well. 

He shared that in New Zealand, his country, more than 90 percent of businesses are micro and small enterprises.

“They are real job engines in any economy,” he said, adding that one of the measures to support them is to make sure that everybody, including women, migrants and those who might be disadvantaged in the labour market can play, and small businesses can access to finances.

“That’s the kind of thing we should all be thinking about in APEC economies,” he suggested.

VietJet CEO wants a Walmart connection on her airline

The founder and CEO of Vietnamese budget carrier VietJet has said she wants to sell products from the world’s biggest retailer Walmart on her airline.

Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao, the first and only female billionaire in Vietnam according to Forbes magazine, presented the idea to Scott Price, executive vice president of Global Leverage for Walmart International, at the ongoing Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Vietnam’s central city of Da Nang.

“We call ourselves a consumers' airline,” Thao said on November 9 at the APEC CEO Summit.

"The idea to work with Walmart is an example of VietJet’s customer-oriented approach, emphasizing our philosophy of providing more convenient services for Vietnamese clients in the near future," she said.

She also spoke about the role of technology in trade and business, suggesting a tech connection with Walmart for VietJet’s passengers.

Price said the company is willing to work with VietJet as it has yet to open any stores in Vietnam, providing there is demand for its products.

“We plan to expand further," Thao said. "Vietnamese airlines play an important role in connecting Southeast Asia. In the near future we’ll collaborate with more airlines, such as the Republic of Korea’s ASIANA.” 

Vietjet already has deals with Quatar Airway and Japan Airlines, and is in talks with an airline in the US and another in Europe.

“Thanks to the connections that VietJet is building, passengers can fly anywhere they want to around the world,” Thao said.

The CEO Summit has gathered more than 2,000 local and foreign businesses and is one of the most important events at the APEC Summit. It is hosting leaders from the 21 Pacific Rim nations and thousands of businesspeople, including Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, UPS CEO David Abney, and chairman and CEO of J.P. Morgan Asia Pacific Nicolas Aguzin.

Last week, Thao secured 55th spot on the World's 100 Most Powerful Women 2017 ranking, jumping seven places from the previous year, and was the only Vietnamese national named on the list compiled by Forbes.

According to the magazine, Thao has an estimated net worth of US$1.93 billion, eclipsing the figure of US$1.2 billion it calculated in March.

Thao launched VietJet in 2011. Her “bikini” airline, nicknamed after its unique yet controversial promotion scheme of putting female crew in bikinis on some flights, now offers 300 flights a day, or more than 40% of the country’s flights, with a fleet of 45 jets.

In May, Bloomberg reported that the Hanoi-based VietJet Aviation Joint Stock Co. was in talks to become the first Vietnamese company to list on an overseas stock exchange.

"We’ve been approached by some foreign stock exchanges including London, Hong Kong and Singapore, which expressed their interest in our stock," Thao was quoted as saying in the report.

According to Bloomberg, VietJet reportedly received shareholder approval in April to boost its foreign ownership limit to 49% from 30%.

She told Bloomberg in an interview a year ago that she has plans to make VietJet a global airline. “We want to make VietJet the Emirates of Asia.”

Thai Vietjet opens new route to Dalat

Thai Vietjet has announced opening a new route from Bangkok to Dalat this December. Vietjet Group and the Thai affiliate will operate a total of six direct routes between Thailand and Vietnam, including Bangkok to Hanoi and Haiphong and Ho Chi Minh City, and Dalat and Phuket and Chiang Mai to HCM City.

Commencing on December 18, 2017, the new Bangkok-Dalat route will run with an Airbus A320, with four return flights per week on every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday.

Thai Vietjet has also been officially recertified with the Air Operator Certificate (AOC) from the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT).

The new certificate, bestowed to the airline by Minister of Transport Arkhom Termpittayapaisit, is in line with the International Civil Aviation Organization's (ICAO) standards.

Presented during a special ceremony themed “Let’s Enjoy a New Journey,” the airline also announced a new international route from Bangkok to Dalat, known as the ‘City of Flowers’ and a much loved mountainous retreat for local and international travelers, particularly from Thailand.

“We believe that the re-certification will further reaffirm the confidence of travellers across the globe in our services and the Thai airline industry as well,” said Nguyen Thi Thuy Binh, Thai Vietjet CEO.

“To further deliver our promise to contribute to the growth of Thai tourism, I am also pleased to announce the opening of Thai Vietjet’s new international route from Bangkok to Dalat in the Central Highlands of Vietnam. 

The new flight will be launched just before the International Flower Festival of Dalat, which is held in December this year. I am delighted that people from these two countries can now enjoy their neighbouring country even more through our expanding flight network,” said Binh.

According to Minister Termpittayapaisit, Thai Vietjet is the 12th carrier to pass the recertification process since CAAT started the programme.

“I have witnessed the airline’s dedication to prepare and improve itself to successfully pass the overall operational standards of ICAO. And the new AOC, bestowed to Thai Vietjet today, is a remarkable milestone for the carrier to further prove its safety and services as it spreads its wings and continues to fly further and higher on this journey of sustainable development," said the minister.

    

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