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BUSINESS IN BRIEF 14/3

Last update: 08:20 | 14/03/2018

Binh Duong grants 19 investment certificates


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Binh Duong provincial People’s Committee granted investment certificates to 19 projects yesterday for the first investment stage in 2018, including 15 foreign direct investment (FDI) projects.

The major projects included two investments on logistics services and industrial real estate, jointly invested by Warburg Pincus Financial Group and Becamex IDC Corp in Bau Bang and My Phuong industrial parks with total registered capital of US$135.2 million; and a $20-million apparel manufacturing factory of Far Eastern Apparel Co Ltd at VSIP II-A.

Tran Thanh Liem, chairman of Binh Duong People’s Committee, said the improvement and transparency in the province’s investment climate helped increase investors’ trust and strengthen their long-term investment commitment.

Binh Duong Province is Viet Nam’s second biggest magnet for foreign investment after HCM City. The province has attracted $435 million worth of foreign capital in the first two months, including 31 newly-granted investment certificates with total registered capital of $233 million, an additional capital of $141.5 million for 13 existing projects, and nearly $60 million capital contributed by foreign investors. 

Saigon Petro proposes to bring A92 back
     
Saigon Petro has proposed to bring petrol A92 back to the market when the consumption of E5 bio-fuel is low and it is not meeting the target of environmental protection.

The proposal is part of a recommendation on environmental protection tax and policies to develop bio-fuel in the future, which was recently sent to the ministries of Trade and Industry and Finance, and after two and a half months, fuel A92 or RON 92 was replaced with E5 bio-fuel.

According to the prime minister’s decision, E5 fuel, which is a mix of A92 petrol (95 per cent) and bio-fuel ethanol (5 per cent), has been officially sold nationwide to replace A92 since January 1, this year.

Currently, there is A95 gasoline, which is suitable for vehicles with high-engine displacement, and E5, which is suitable for low-engine displacement.

Although the price of A95 is about VND1,600 per litre, higher than E5, many consumers prefer A95.

Nguyen Thanh Huong, a Ha Noi resident who owns a scooter, told Việt Nam News that she still used A95 for her vehicle because it was said that it was much better than E5, which may cause problems to the vehicle’s engine.

“Its price is higher than E5 but I do not care much about it. I always spend about VND100,000 for a full tank of petrol; it is just about VND6,000-7,000 higher than E5,” said Huong.

Saigon Petro said through references of its big fuel wholesale agents, the volume of E5 bio-fuel sold was 30 per cent of the market share, while the remaining 70 per cent was gasoline A95. Previously, A92 occupied 65 per cent of the market share.

A firm leader told nguoilaodong.com.vn that the sale of E5 petrol is expected to account for 70 per cent and A95 30 per cent of total volume of petrol sold in the market.

According to the calculation of Saigon Petro, in the first two months of this year, the consumption of non-essential A95 petrol was up to VND400 billion per month, due to the consumers’ psychology. Many types of motorcycles can use A92 or E5. There is no need to use the high-priced A95 gasoline.

Saigon Petro said if there was no way to raise the consumption volume of E5, the Government and relevant ministries should allow bringing A92 back to the market to curb usage of A95. The price of A95 is currently 8 per cent higher than E5, while the different rate should be 20 per cent to encourage consumers using E5.

“Our opinion is that people who use A95, which affects the environment, will be charged a higher price in order to support people who use E5, which is to protect the environment,” said the Saigon Petro leader.

“The environment protection tax of A95 should be raised from current VND3,000 to VND4,000 per litre and the tax on E5 should be decreased from VND2,850 to VND2,500 per litre in order to lure the consumer,” he added.

The Deputy Director of Cu Chi Commercial and Industrial Development Investment JSC, Nguyen Van Tam, said that if the use of A92 petrol is allowed, it will be a step backward.

“We need to use E10 and E20 like many other countries in the world. The main issue is to raise people’s awareness so that people understand the use and efficiency of bio-fuel,” said Tam. 

Can Tho enhances collective economy
     
Can Tho Co-operative Alliance aims to further enhance the development of co-operatives as well as the city’s collective economy in both scale and quality this year.

Specifically, it plans to establish at least 100 new co-operative groups and 35 co-operatives, unions of co-operatives and form at least 15 co-operative models that have sustainable value chains.

It also aims to raise the number of co-operative members by at least 10 per cent compared to last year, the ratio of co-operatives that have high operation efficiency by 50 per cent and increase the charter capital of the Co-operative Assistance Fund to reach at least VND20 billion (US$879,000).

To achieve the above objectives, the Can Tho Co-operative Alliance will coordinate with the People’s Committee of the city’s districts and the relevant agencies to reform propaganda of the Government’s policies on promoting the development of co-operatives and intensify communication about developing new-style co-operatives that link with value chain.

In addition, the alliance will coordinate with the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to review difficulties faced by co-operatives to help them solve difficulties.

Organising training courses to improve management capacity for co-operative leaders, training for local officials on collective economic knowledge, strengthening solutions to mobilise capital for agricultural cooperative production and trading, and expanding the linkage in production and consumption of farm produce through promoting linkage among co-operatives, co-operative groups and businesses, are among its other focuses for this year.

It also advocates the development of diversified forms of co-operative groups, and creating conditions to boost the development of unions of co-operatives in localities and inter-regions, with a focus in agricultural and rural areas.

At the same time, it will concentrate on raising its capacity in support, consultancy and supply services to meet co-operative demand as well as improve services providing capacity in terms of technology, governance and trade promotion for co-operatives

It proposed that the Co-operative Assistance Fund renew its operations to increase the capacity to mobilise more resources so as to offer more loans to co-operatives.

The alliance will co-operate with the city’s Department of Planning and Investment and other relevant agencies to promote external activities in the direction of actively expanding international co-operation; seeking and calling for international investment in serving the development of co-operatives and the cooperative economy.

In addition, it will build and implement a scheme to improve professional skills and foreign languages for staff members in charge of external affair jobs.

Nguyen Duc Phuong, chairman of the Can Tho Co-operative Alliance, said the city now has 223 co-operatives and 1,349 co-operative groups operating in the fields of agriculture, handicrafts, transportation and construction, commercial services and credit funds.

Many co-operatives specialising in rice seed production and pangasius farming for export have achieved high revenue and profits, contributing to an increase of income for members. Last year, the city had 35 new co-operatives, up 46.5 per cent over 2016, with agricultural cooperatives accounting for 51 per cent.

Many co-operatives have enhanced linkage between production and consumption, resulting in higher economic efficiency, he said. 

Viet Nam-Japan forum strengthens ties
     
The Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) hosted a Vietnam - Japan Economic Dialogue on Monday, with the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI) and a Japanese business delegate in attendance.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Hoang Quang Phong, VCCI’s Executive Vice President, acknowledged Japan’s leadership and Viet Nam’s willingness to cooperate as driving factors in the recently concluded Comprehensive Partnership and Transparency Partnership (CPTPP) agreement between the 11 member countries.

Cooperation between Vietnamese and Japanese firms, as well as bilateral trade, have been growing steadily over the years, with Japan remaining one of Viet Nam’s most important partners, he said.

In 2017, Japan was the biggest foreign investor in Vietnam with US$9.11 billion worth of capital, accounting for 25.4 per cent of Viet Nam‘s total foreign direct investment capital, while the value of total two-way trade reached over $33.4 billion.

Viet Nam is also the recipient of the majority of Official Development Assistance from Japan, he added.

Kobayashi Yoichi, Chairman of JCCI’s Mekong-Japan Business Cooperation Committee, and Co-chairman Nekoshima Akio expressed their appreciation towards the VCCI for hosting the dialogue, saying the event was a good opportunity for both sides to understand the current economic situation and bilateral trade and investment cooperation potential.

Kobayashi noted that not only will the CPTPP promote export and investment between the two countries, it will also help increase export value in sectors such as textile, garments or seafood for Vietnamese firms.

In addition, Kobayashi hoped that Japan would continue playing an important role in diversifying the structure of Viet Nam’s exports, replacing raw materials with manufactured products.

Nekoshima said that in the upcoming time, there will be even more potential for cooperation in new fields such as agriculture, tourism, training and development of human resources and transportation, with a focus on Vietnamese small and medium enterprises.

With a market of 95 million people, of which nearly 35 per cent live in urban areas, Viet Nam is considered an attractive destination for Japanese businesses in the service sector, he said.

Nekoshima also noted that travel and transportation have immense potential for growth, with the number of Vietnamese tourists coming to Japan growing in recent years to reach more than 300,000 visitors in 2017.

Japanese companies have previously focused on investing in Viet Nam’s manufacturing sector, with recent investment trends shifting to other areas like services.

The dialogue consisted of two sessions discussing business opportunities, advantages and disadvantages for services, tourism and transportation.

The Japanese business delegation, consisting of 50 senior executives working in general trade, manufacturing, machinery, aviation and services, was eager to exchange information and seek cooperation with potential Vietnamese partners, among Vietnamese companies such as distributor Phu Thai Group Jsc and travel company Vietravel.

Business representatives from both countries also expected the newly signed CPTPP to further promote bilateral and multilateral economic and trade cooperation.

VN firms see positive impact from CPTPP
     
Sixty three per cent of businesses in Viet Nam believe the newly-signed Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) trade agreement will have a positive impact on their operations, according to an HSBC Group survey.

The survey, conducted between December 2017 and January 2018 by market research group Kantar TNS on behalf of HSBC of key decision makers at 6,033 eligible companies, sampled 26 markets around the globe, including six member countries of the CPTPP - Australia, Canada, Malaysia, Mexico, Singapore and Viet Nam.

Of around 1,000 firms based in these six markets, including 200 firms in Viet Nam, 46 per cent anticipate positive benefits from the trade agreement.

Winfield Wong, country head of Wholesale Banking, HSBC Viet Nam, said CPTPP is a big, ambitious deal for Viet Nam and it will greatly impact future growth, jobs and living standards.

“Now is the time for both firms and the Government to focus on implementing the agreement to achieve its full potential. It’s encouraging that many businesses are already expecting to see benefits.”

The revised version of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement was signed on March 8 in Chile without the US after President Donald Trump withdrew from the deal in November 2017.

The pact now includes Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Viet Nam.

Across the 11 economies involved, recent estimates from the Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE) suggest trade flows will be boosted by 6 per cent to 2030, with members enjoying total real income gains of US$157 billion every year, HSBC noted. 

LienVietPostBank’s profit to rise by 27% in 2018
     
Lien Viet Post Joint Stock Commercial Bank (LienVietPostBank)’s profit is predicted to increase by 27.4 per cent to reach VND2.2 trillion in 2018.

This was announced by VNDIRECT Securities Corporation in its newly issued report about the bank.

According to VNDIRECT’s analysts, in 2017, the credit growth of LienVietPostBank, listed as LPB, was lower than predicted. But the bank’s deposit growth was higher than expected, so its loan-to-deposit ratio was only 67.4 per cent, much lower than projected.

LPB, therefore, still has plenty of room for credit growth. Experts have raised the credit growth of LPB to 20 per cent in 2018 from 18 per cent in 2017, and the figure for the 2019-20 period is predicted to be at 18 per cent, also higher than the previous forecast of 16 per cent.

Experts also raised their forecast for the bank’s NIM (net interest income), thanks to LPB’s expansion in the retail segment. LPB will continue to promote retail lending, especially key products such as retirement credit and loans to cadres and workers as well as the armed forces.

“These credit products were implemented in 2015, so they are still in the early stages of the product life cycle. However, we think these products are in a high-growth stage,” the analysts said in the report.

LPB has great networks in remote areas so the bank can approach a large number of customers who have never used banking services.

The bank has already been allowed by State Bank of Viet Nam to convert 185 post offices into banking transaction offices. According to LPB, 80 post offices were converted in 2017, and the remaining will be converted this year. 

SSI targets 15% growth in profit this year
     
Saigon Securities Inc (SSI) targets a total revenue of VND3.41 trillion (US$150 million) and pre-tax profit of VND1.615 trillion this year.

This marks a year-on-year increase of 12 per cent and 15 per cent, respectively.

The information was revealed in the company’s business plan for 2018.

The annual shareholders’ meeting of SSI will be held on April 20 in HCM City.

At this meeting, the Board of Directors will submit reports on business results, financial statements and profit distribution plan in 2017, approve the chairman of the board of directors and general director in 2018, elect an additional member of the supervisory board and change the company’s name.

In 2017, SSI recorded a revenue of over VND3.04 trillion, up 19.8 per cent compared to 2016 and surpassing 44.35 per cent of the plan. The pre-tax profit reached more than VND1.4 trillion, up 23 per cent and exceeding 32.8 per cent of the plan. 

41 investors eye stakes at Vinafood 2
     
HCM Stock Exchange has announced the results of registration for the shares auction of Viet Nam Southern Food Corporation (Vinafood 2).

Up to 114,831,000 shares will be put up for sale for the first time in the run-up to the initial public offering (IPO), at a starting price of VND10,100 (44 US cents) per share. The IPO is scheduled to take place at 9am on March 14.

Forty one investors registered to take part in the auction, including 31 domestic investors and 10 foreign investors.

The total registered volume was 115,603,300 shares, of which 115,096,500 shares were from domestic investors.

According to the equitisation plan of Vinafood 2, the charter capital after equitisation will be VND5 trillion, of which the State will hold 255 million shares, representing 51 per cent of the charter capital.

The number of shares offered in the IPO is over 114.8 million, representing 22.97 per cent of the charter capital. Nearly five million shares will be sold to employees, equivalent to 0.99 per cent of the charter capital. The stake sold to the trade union organisation at the enterprise is 200,000 shares, representing 0.04 per cent of the charter capital. 

Over 4,400 Suzuki FU150 FI Raider units recalled
     
Suzuki Viet Nam is recalling more than 4,400 Suzuki FU150 FI Raider units to replace the contacts in the electric locks.

The motorbikes were manufactured from November 10, 2016, to August 1, 2017. The recall time will last until December 31, 2019, with an estimated replacement time of one hour for each vehicle.

The replacement will be free of charge.

According to Suzuki Viet Nam, in the process of producing the contact in the electric locks by its supplier in Indonesia, the welding catalyst was left on the contact surface. This can lead to flickering in the main electric locks when temperature is generated during use.

Moreover, when the ignition switch is turned on, the vehicle’s power system might occasionally lose power. This will either not start the vehicle or stop it abruptly while the engine is running, which can prove to be dangerous. 

Vietnam is Laos’ third largest trade partner in 2017

Vietnam remained the third largest trading partner of Laos in 2017, trailing Thailand and China, according to the Vientiane Times.
 
Vietnam exported US$552 million worth of goods to Laos in 2017.

The newspaper quoted the Lao Ministry of Industry and Commerce as saying that two-way trade between Vietnam and Laos reached more than US$1.27 billion last year, with Laos’ imports of goods from Vietnam worth US$552 million.

Last year, the landlocked country’s exports rose by 13.4% to more than US$4.8 billion while its imports climbed by 7.6% to more than US$4.5 billion.

Laos’ major export markets were also Thailand, China, and Vietnam, followed by India, Japan, Germany, and the United States.

The Southeast Asian country’s main exports were electricity, goal, camera accessories, garments, sugar, cassava, coffee, rubber, and corn.

Two-way trade values between Laos and its two largest trading partners, Thailand and China, were US$5.3 billion and US$2 billion respectively.

VinEco acquires Hung Vuong’s feed arm

VinEco holds 24 per cent stake of Viet Thang Feed JSC (VTF) and expects to raise it to 60 per cent without a public offering.

The shareholders of Viet Thang Feed JSC have just approved VinEco Agricultural Investment, Development and Productions LLC. to increase its holdings without a public offering. VinEco currently holds 25 million shares, equivalent to 24 per cent of VTF’s charter capital. They will purchase an additional 37.6 million shares to raise ownership in VTF to the maximum of 60 per cent.

Earlier, VTF was a subsidiary of Hung Vuong Corporation (code: HVG), which held 90.38 per cent. On January 8, HVG. announced selling over 50 per cent of VTF to overcome financial difficulties. VinEco, a member of Vingroup, bought 24 per cent on March 1.

The total output of HVG’s fishery feed processing factories is more than 1.5 million tonnes per year, which is the highest in the sector and surpasses foreign producers like Cargill, CP, and Proconco. Three of VTF’s factories in Dong Thap received an investment of around VND1 trillion ($44 million) to produce 1 million tonnes per year. However, consumption reduced from 410,000 tonnes in 2014 to 331,000 tonnes in 2017.

VTF has invested heavily into pig husbandry in An Giang and Binh Dinh and a feed processing factory for poultry and livestock in Long An. However, they had to set aside a provision of VND375 billion ($16.5 million) in 2017. According to the firm’s financial report, VTF owes over VND2.1 trillion ($92.5 million) to BIDV, 65 per cent of its total capital, while half of the company’s assets—nearly VND1.6 trillion ($70.5 million)—are in receivables.

With VinEco as a new shareholder, the company has set a target of VND6.303 trillion ($277.7 million) of revenue and VND383 billion ($17million) of after-tax profit this year.

In addition to VTF, HVG has also sold numerous real estates at golden land plots recently, as well as 54 per cent of its capital in Sao Ta Foods JSC (FIMEX VN).

CP TPP – a progressive trade direction in 21st century

One year after the US’s withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the remaining 11 Asia-Pacific countries, including Vietnam, have signed a new Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) to remove tariff barriers in the region.

This is considered a move towards progressive, open and equal trade, without the threat of trade wars.

The signing of the CPTPP has delivered a strong message against protectionism, which is emerging across the world as a barrier to global trade growth.

The new deal also marks the endless efforts of the remaining 11 member countries to revive the TPP.

Japanese Minister of State for Economic and Fiscal Policy Toshimitsu Motegi described the CPTPP as a historic achievement that creates free and fair rules in Asia-Pacific.

The deal not only benefits member countries but also creates new momentum for regional economic-trade cooperation and connection.

Many leaders from the 11 CPTPP nations have welcomed the pact as a clear message of support for free trade and multilateralism.

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet declared that the signing of the CPTPP is a commitment to global integration and a strong signal against protectionism. It is also an ambitious and strategic multilateral cooperation deal in the context of globalisation.

Covering 500 million people on both sides of the Pacific Ocean, the pact represents a new vision for global trade as the US imposes steel and aluminum tariffs on even some of its closest allies.

The New York Times quoted Wendy Cutler, a former United States trade negotiator who worked on the Trans-Pacific Partnership as saying it’s hard for the US to ignore rules that other countries have agreed and must look carefully at these rules.

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal posted a story titled “In America’s Absence, the TPP Goes On”, highlighting the survival of the TPP, now CPTPP or TPP – 11, which will be a boon to traders in Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. 

The CPTPP is also the latest illustration that other countries are accelerating efforts to conclude trade deals. 

The CPTPP was inked at a ceremony chaired by Chilean President Micelle Bachelet in Chile on March 8, 2018.

Trade ministers of 11 countries participating in the trade pact, namely Australia, Brunei, Canada, Malaysia, Mexico, Japan, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam, attended the event. 

The ambitious deal came after the US pulled out of the TPP agreement last year. It sets high criteria in numerous fields, including labour, the environment, intellectual property, digital economy and cyber security.

The pact will create one of the world’s largest free trade blocs with a combined market of 499 million people and GDP of about 10.1 trillion USD, accounting for 13.5 percent of global GDP.

Vietnam Airlines launches summer promotional programme

The national flag carrier Vietnam Airlines is set to launch a summer promotional programme from March 15 to 28.

Under the promotional programme, one-way tickets to domestic destinations will start at 299,000 VND (13 USD) while roundtrip tickets for international flights will be from 899,000 VND (39 USD).

The prices exclude taxes and fees, and come with certain conditions. The programme is applied for flights departing from April 1 to October 31.

A representative of Vietnam Airlines said that last year’s summer promotional programme, which was launched for 14 days, attracted dozens of thousands passengers on domestic and international flights.

The carrier has recently extended time for self-check-in by one hour, helping passengers save time in the upcoming peak season. Wide-body aircraft will be increased on its key routes.

In addition, a new air route connecting Nha Trang city in the central coastal province of Khanh Hoa with Seoul capital city of the Republic of Korea (RoK) will open on March 25.

More information could be found at website www.vietnamairlines.com/vi/sites/chao-he-2018, the carrier’s Facebook page and hotline 1900 1100.

Hai Duong lures 185 million USD in FDI in first two months

The northern province of Hai Duong attracted more than 185 million USD in foreign direct investment (FDI) in the first two months of this year, up 39.8 percent year on year. 

According to the provincial Department of Planning and Investment, the locality licensed eight new projects with a total registered capital of 32.1 million USD, including five projects worth 24 million USD located outside industrial parks. 

During the period, nine projects increased their investment capital by 153.45 million USD, including two projects outside industrial parks with 23 million USD added.

In order to attract more foreign investors, Hai Duong will focus on improving its investment environment and pushing administrative reform, while maintaining dialogues with businesses. 

Nguyen Manh Hien, Secretary of the provincial Party Committee, said in 2018, the province will continue to invest in infrastructure development to lure more investments in industrial areas and clusters, priotising the production of high-tech and competitive products, and support industry.  

Hai Duong has 370 FDI projects valued at more than 7.4 billion USD, directly generating jobs for over 170,000 labourers.

Vietnam encourages Japanese investment in manufacturing, hi-tech agriculture

Vietnam always encourages and creates all possible conditions for Japanese firms to invest in the country, especially in manufacturing industry and high-tech agriculture, Vice President Dang Thi Ngoc Thinh has said.

While receiving Yoichi Kobayashi, Chairman of the Japan-Mekong Business Cooperation Committee under the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI) in Hanoi on March 12, the Vice President highlighted that the bilateral cooperation is developing comprehensively and intensively.

Regarding economic relations, Vietnam always considers Japan its leading and long-term partner, she said, adding that Japan is a leading provider of official development assistance (ODA) for Vietnam and among top investors in the country.

Acknowledging contributions made by Japanese businesses and JCCI to achievements in economic cooperation between the two nations, she expressed her wish that more Japanese enterprises will invest in developing services in Vietnam in order to improve locals’ living conditions and serve consumption demand of the rapidly growing middle class in the country.

Vietnamese and Japanese businesses should step up cooperation in education and tourism development by taking advantage of cultural similarities and beautiful landscapes of both countries, she said.

She added that Vietnam hopes for more opportunities to learn from Japan’s experience in clean agricultural production.  

For his part, Yoichi Kobayashi expected the economic-trade collaboration between the two nations to develop more fruitfully, especially in the context that the bilateral ties are becoming closer and their businesses are provided with the most favourable conditions.

Hailing Vietnam for its abundant, high-skilled labour force, he said the country has attained high economic growth in recent years on the foundation of political stability, adding that Vietnam, with a population of nearly 100 million, is a promising consumption market.

He also highlighted the developing people-to-people exchanges between Vietnam and Japan, noting that the number of Vietnamese students in his country is continuously increasing, making Vietnam one of the countries with the most overseas students in Japan.

He said he wishes that bilateral trade and investment ties will be further enhanced via periodical dialogues with the Vietnamese Ministry of Planning and Investment and the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Vinh Long to host investment promotion conference

The Mekong Delta province of Vinh Long will host an investment promotion conference later this month, aiming to present its economic development achievements and potential, and policies on investment attraction.

Truong Dang Vinh Phuc, Director of the Vinh Long Department of Planning and Investment, said the conference will take place on March 27, drawing 750 delegates from ministries, agencies, foreign embassies, international organisations, provinces and cities nationwide as well as domestic and foreign investors.

At the event, the local authority will present certificates of investment registration and memorandums of understanding to 25 projects with a combined capital of 12.43 trillion VND (546.92 million USD), Phuc said at a press conference on the upcoming event held in Vinh Long on March 12.

The province will sign cooperation documents to carry out a project on coastal sub-regional connectivity between Vinh Long, Ben Tre, Tien Giang and Tra Vinh provinces, thus boosting investment, trade and tourism cooperation in the Mekong Delta.

The local authority will also honour contributions by domestic and foreign organisations, individuals and enterprises to social welfare activities in combination with poverty reduction, contributing to change local face-lift.

There are activities held on the sidelines of the conference such as a trade fair, an exhibition on local agriculture, industry and trade, the inauguration of Vinh Long general hospital and an art performance.

Apart from a stable, transparent business environment, investors will take local advantages and be offered incentives, Vice Chairman of the Vinh Long province Le Quang Trung said, adding that the province hopes to become a liable, attractive destination of businesses and investors.

In the 2017-2020, Vinh Long is calling non-state budget capital in 67 projects capitalised at 27.568 trillion VND, focusing on industry, industrial complex infrastructure, rural agriculture, culture-tourism, transport infrastructure, urban-housing development, and trade-services.

CP TPP to bring both opportunities, challenges to breeding sector

The newly-signed Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CP TPP), is expected to create many opportunities and challenges for Vietnam’s agricultural sector, including the breeding industry, stated Hoang Thanh Van, head of the Department of Livestock Production under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Van said that as CP TPP will cut import taxes, breeding products of countries strong in the industry such as Canada, Japan and Australia will enter Vietnam, harming the breeding sector.

He stressed the need to focus on improving quality of strong products, as the production cost of Vietnam’s breeding sector is higher than in developed countries.

He said that the CP TPP will allow national branded products to be exported to all member countries without limited quota as long as they meet the countries’ requirements. This will pressure domestic production, but also benefit the country as Vietnam’s products will access more markets, he added.

Van asserted that domestic farms should change their management method for integration. Import tax for breeding equipment will also be reduced, cutting production costs.

Vietnamese agriculture is attractive as the economy is growing and consumption trends are changing, bringing opportunities to lure foreign investment, Van said, noting that many firms are looking to pour capital into building a genetic research centre in Hoa Lac hi-tech park.

Institutional reform is another urgent need for Vietnam when CP TPP becomes effective, he said, underlining the significance of reviewing technical standards.

After thoroughly studying the deal, Van affirmed that CP TPP will bring more benefits than negative impacts to Vietnam.

Van revealed that the Department of Livestock Production will hold several national conferences on developing production chains for pork and chicken meat, while reviewing cow breeding methods to restructure the breeding industry.

The CPTPP was signed in Chile on March 8 (local time) by representatives of 11 countries - Australia, Brunei, Canada, Malaysia, Mexico, Japan, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

Reference exchange rate drops on March 13

The State Bank of Vietnam set the daily reference exchange rate at 22,450 VND/USD on March 13, down 11 VND from the previous day. 

With the current trading band of +/- 3 percent, the ceiling rate applied to commercial banks during the day is 23,123 VND/USD and the floor rate 21,779 VND/USD.

The opening hour rates at major commercial banks saw only slight changes. 

Vietcombank maintained both rates unchanged from March 12, listing the buying rate at 22,720 VND/USD and selling rate 22,790 VND/USD. 

Meanwhile, BIDV raised both rates by 5 VND, buying the greenback at 22,725 VND and selling at 22,795 VND per USD.

The rates at Vietinbank were adjusted up 4 VND to 22,728 VND/USD (buying) and 22,798 VND/USD (selling).

Vietnam’s steel exports increase over 38 percent

Vietnam’s total steel exports in the first two months of the year rose 38.6 percent from the same period last year to more than 728,000 tonnes, according to the Vietnam Steel Association (VSA).

Other statistics from the General Department of Customs showed that Vietnam’s steel exports to the US in particular had surged. The country shipped 124,600 tonnes of steel worth 104.2 million US to the US in the two-month period, double that of same period last year.

The US has been the second largest importer for Vietnam’s steel after the ASEAN market. Vietnam also took the 12th position among the 20 largest steel exporters to the US.

US President Donald Trump signed proclamations to impose a 25-per-cent tariff on imported steel and a 10-per-cent tariff on imported aluminum on March 8. With the decision, Vietnam would be one of the 12 most affected countries. Local steel producers have faced competition from others in the ASEAN market as well as higher tariffs.

Last year, Vietnam exported 567,000 tonnes of steel to the US, a reduction of 43 percent from the 2016 and accounting for 12 percent of the total steel exports.

Experts said coated steel producers would be most affected as the US accounted for 35 to 40 percent of Vietnam total exports of the product.

Outstanding businesses in made-in-Vietnam products campaign to be named

Ninety-six outstanding enterprises in the “Vietnamese people prioritise using made-in-Vietnam goods” campaign will be announced at an awards ceremony to be broadcast live on VTV1 on March 17.

Specifically, 10 business will be awarded with the “Top 10 Vietnamese product brands” title, while 10 others will be named in the “Top 10 businesses holding excellent Vietnamese brand services” category.

The remaining will receive the “outstanding Vietnamese brand enterprises” award.

The competition, the second of its kind, was launched in October 2017, with nearly 300 enterprises from across Vietnam nominated.

The event, held for the first time in 2014, aims to honour outstanding Vietnamese products and services, and encourage domestic enterprises to invest in production and business and take advantage of science and technology advances to increase product quality.

Speaking at a press conference in Hanoi on March 12, Le Viet Nga, deputy head of the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Domestic Market Department, said the awards ceremony is in preparation for the 10th anniversary of the “Vietnamese people prioritise using made-in-Vietnam goods”  campaign to be held in 2019. 

CP TPP opens ups opportunities for Vietnam-Canada trade: expert

The signing of the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (CP TPP) in Chile on March 8 will open up many opportunities for trade between Canada and Vietnam, said President and CEO of Asia-Pacific Foundation of Canada (APF) Stewart Beck. 

According to Beck, CP TPP is really important to Canada, as it gives the country unlimited access to the Japanese market and other potential markets such as Vietnam and Singapore, with which Canada is yet to have a bilateral free trade agreement.

He said the deal will bring Canada certain advantages in the Vietnamese market, and through Vietnam, helps it to enter the ASEAN.  

According to Beck, Canadian people and businesses have come to realise that Vietnam is a potential market thanks to publicity campaigns about the CP TPP. He expressed his belief that after two or three years of enforcement, the CP TPP will help further bilateral cooperation in fields of importance to both countries. 

Having visited Vietnam several times to push the implementation of the Women’s Initiative for Startups and Entrepreneurship (WISE) sponsored by the Canadian Consulate General in Vietnam and APF, the expert has his opinion on fields with great potential for bilateral cooperation after the CP TPP officially takes effect. 

He said Vietnam will be able to increase the export of seafood and other goods to Canada, and technology and service are also promising fields.

The Canadian side hopes that with the official signing of CP TPP, and considering the large Vietnamese community and increasing numbers of Vietnamese students in Canada, more opportunities for bilateral affiliation will be opened up based on the cultural and education bridges, Beck said.

The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CP TPP) was officially inked at a ceremony chaired by Chilean President Micelle Bachelet in Chile on March 8.

Trade ministers of 11 countries participating in the trade pact, namely Australia, Brunei, Canada, Malaysia, Mexico, Japan, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam, attended the event. 

The ambitious deal came after the US pulled out the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement last year. It sets high criteria in numerous fields, including labour, the environment, intellectual property, digital economy and cyber security.

The pact will create one of the world’s largest free trade blocs with a combined market of 499 million people and GDP of around 10,100 billion USD, accounting for 13.5 percent of the global GDP.

Steel exports increase 38%
     
Viet Nam’s total steel exports in the first two months of the year rose 38.6 per cent from the same period last year to reach more than 728,000 tonnes, according to the Viet Nam Steel Association (VSA).

Other statistics from the General Department of Customs showed that Viet Nam’s steel exports to the US in particular had surged. The country shipped 124,600 tonnes of steel worth US$104.2 million to the US in the two-month period, double that of same period last year.

The US has been the second largest importer for Viet Nam’s steel after the ASEAN market. Viet Nam also took the 12th position among the 20 largest steel exporters to the US.

US President Donald Trump signed proclamations to impose a 25-per-cent tariff on imported steel and a 10-per-cent tariff on imported aluminum on March 8. With the decision, Viet Nam’s would be one of the 12 most affected countries. Local steel producers have faced competition from others in the ASEAN market as well as higher tariffs.

Last year, Viet Nam exported 567,000 tonnes of steel to the US, a reduction of 43 per cent from the 2016 and accounting for 12 per cent of the total steel exports.

Experts said coated steel producers would be most affected as the US accounted for 35 to 40 per cent of Viet Nam’s total exports of the product.

The prices of domestic construction steel have been continuously increasing due to an increase in imported material prices and affects from China, the world’s biggest steel producer, according to the Kinh te Do thi (Economic & Urban Affairs) newspaper.

A steel shop in De La Thanh Street told the newspaper that the steel price rose VND100,000 per tonne in January and VND500,000 per tonne in February.

The current selling price of construction steel is at VND15.3 million per tonne. This has been the highest level in the past few years.

Steel shops said the number of orders has been on the rise amid the steel shortage. Some people bought a large amount of construction steel, contributing to the price rise.

They added that the price would continue to rise in the upcoming time.

VSA’s vice chairman Nguyen Van Sua said the price increase in the first two months of the year was due to a price rise of steel billet of 3 per cent and ore of 7-8 per cent.

Sua added that the rise was not due to the US decision.

He said the price of input material for steel production would increase, making the construction steel price rise by VND300,000-500,000 per tonne by the end of May.

“Constructors and investors should calculate demand to ensure steel supply, thus reducing construction fees,” he noted.

Japonica rice to become one of main rice varieties for export

Japonica rice is likely to become one of the main rice varieties for export of Vietnam in the coming time, according to the Vietnam Food Association (VFA).

This variety currently accounts for a small share of the rice export structure, but the export volume of it has grown rapidly over the past year, reaching 4.4 percent of the country's total rice export in 2017, said the VFA.

The association said variety and quality of Vietnam’s export rice has changed remarkably in recent years, with a dramatic growth of fragrant rice from 6.6 percent in 2011 to 23.5 percent in 2017. Shipments of sticky rice also saw the same growth during the same period.

According to VFA, this is a positive trend as export of low-grade rice will gradually reduce, replaced by high-quality rice, thus improving the efficiency of rice production and export business.

Last year, Vietnam earned 2.6 billion USD from the export of 5.8 million tonnes of rice.

In 2018, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development expects the country to export 6.5 million tonnes of rice.

Vietnam needs to step up reforms to make full use of CP TPP

Vietnam needs to step up reforms to benefit more from the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CP TPP) signed by 11 nations in Chile on March 8, said Hoe Ee Khor, Chief Economist of the ASEAN+3 Macroeconomic Research Office (AMRO) in Singapore.

The economist said that, without the US, the new version of the TPP is still very important to the 11 remaining nations as it will span a market of nearly 500 million people and the member states together amount to more than 13 percent of global GDP and 15 percent of global trade.

Among five Asian members of the CP TPP, which are Brunei, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam, some have greatly benefited from surges in foreign direct investment (FDI), he noted, citing Vietnam having received large FDI inflows into the garment and textile industry and other manufacturing sectors since many investors want to get access to the CP TPP market.

More foreign investment will be drawn into the country after the agreement enters into force. It was forecast that Vietnam’s FDI growth will exceed 2 percent in 2025 and 6 percent in 2030, he added.

Though some 20 provisions of the original TPP have been suspended, the CP TPP remains a high-quality free trade agreement, including many provisions in non-tariff barriers, rules of origin, competition, labour protection, intellectual property rights and dispute settlement. 

To make the full use of the deal, member nations must accelerate restructuring. This is why some countries see the CP TPP as a driving factor for their internal reforms.

He suggested Vietnam step up reforms in several areas, including State-owned enterprises, labour standards, small- and medium-sized enterprises and business facilitation, in a bid to aid economic growth and improve competitiveness.

Binh Duong grants 19 investment certificates, Saigon Petro proposes to bring A92 back, Viet Nam-Japan forum strengthens ties, Steel exports increase 38%, VN firms see positive impact from CPTPP