BUSINESS IN BRIEF 1/12

Demand of cheap condos to increase in 2017

The demand of inexpensive apartment outweighed the supply in several last months of the year, though developers cried out for selling many blocks lately. 

In 2016, the supply of deluxe apartments has been mushrooming, exceeding the demand, said experts, while there was a few of projects of inexpensive apartments sold under VND1 billion. The supply could not meet the increasing demand.

A report by U.S. research agency JLL, Ho Chi Minh City currently is building 64,000 condos and 2,700 villa. Of the figure, half of them have been advertised at price of VND45 million per meter square, accounting for 70 percent of the supply.

Similarly, in Hanoi, over 59,000 condos are being built  and it is scheduled that more than 11,000 condos of many projects will be supplied for the market in the quarter and 70 percent of them are deluxe. 

Meanwhile, there was a few condos sold at price of VND15-17 million per meter square in the market and most of them locate in outlying districts Hoai Duc, Ha Dong, Long Bien, Gia Lam, and Thanh Tri.

Realty experts said that in 2017, customers will favor in condos worth VND1-1.5 billion. Accordingly, largest property developers will provide average condos whose supply is limited.

It is forecast that in early 2017, deluxe condos will be abundant while there was a shortage of cheap ones for low-income people. Supply of commercial apartments worth VND15 million per meter square  in the market is also limited because of low profits, developers are uninterested in it.

Finance Ministry talks to southern businesses

The Ministry of Finance, the General Department of Vietnam Customs and the General Department of Taxation yesterday held a dialogue with over 400 businesses in the southern region, listening to their difficulties and opinions for better services.

The dialogue was held in Ho Chi Minh City which is the economic hub of the country.

Hoa Binh Refrigeration Electrical Engineering and Trading Company, importing water heaters for sale, said that in July the company unexpectedly received a decision of ten-day inspection from customs agency who wanted to check to all import documents of the company for the last five years.

The inspection largely affected the company’s operation because it had to supply and print out a pile of documents. Import water heaters were not levied taxes until June 29, 2016 but a circular was issued to change the product’s code making it belong to the taxable list.

Inspectors said that the company used a wrong code for the product and make a decision to fine the company and collect tax arrears totaling VND3.5 billion (US$154,000).

It was forced to pay the penalty and arrears to prevent operation stagnancy and damage from signed contracts.

Mr. Vu Ngoc Anh, deputy head of the General Department of Vietnam Customs, said that businesses must keep their documents within five years after customs clearance and authorized agencies are entitled to inspect the documents to prevent budget losses.

He urged customs agencies to return the tax they had collected for Hoa Binh Company.

Can Tho city based Kim Xuan Company importing steel to make export items said that according to regulations, these items are exempt from taxes but the company has to pay safeguard duty.

A representative from the General Department of Vietnam Customs answered that the new anti-dumping tax has been issued by the Ministry of Industry and Trade. Customs agencies just collect the tax in advance. Afterwards they will inspect to determine if the company dumps goods. If the company does not, the agencies will give it drawback.

However the answer did not satisfy the company so deputy minister of Finance Vu Thi Mai said that she would talk to the Ministry of Industry and Trade about the issue.

At the conference, businesses say that the lump sum tax policy to individual business households is unfair. Some earn high turnover but pay a low amount of the tax because they have not invoiced.

Hence businesses proposed the Ministry of Finance to uniform regulations forcing all individual business households as well as businesses to issue invoices for an item sold at the price of VND200,000 and higher.

Soc Trang province Food Association said that when tax refund exceeds VND40 billion ($1.76 billion), businesses will receive the rebate first and tax agencies will inspect later. In fact the agencies have reversed and much slowed down the process.

Enterprises have to pay fines for late tax payment, so why officials have not been penalized for slowing the tax refunding, asked an association representative.

In response, deputy head of the General Department of Taxation Cao Anh Tuan said that it was wrong for tax officials to inspect before refunding tax when the amount tops VND40 billion. He promised to look over and tackle the issue.

Khuong Mai Steel Company said that tax agencies raised it difficulties in tax refund. Deputy Minister Vu Thi Mai asked the HCMC Taxation Department to have a specific answer.

Mr. Nguyen Nam Binh, deputy head of the agency said that inspections found that 70 percent of the company’s purchasing invoices, attached in documents it filed to propose tax refund, were from 13 shutdown companies.

In addition, the company refused tax agencies’ requirement to examine its warehouse. Therefore they have transferred the case to investigation agencies, he said.

Deputy Minister Vu Thi Mai said that the Government creates the best conditions for businesses to develop. However they will be strictly handled in accordance with the law if breaking regulations.

Export turnover of commodities achieve US$15.6 billion in Nov

Export turnover of commodities in November is estimated to achieve US$15.6 billion, up 1.3 percent compared to October, said the General Statistic Office (GSO).

Generally, in 11 months of the year, total export turnover was estimated to reach US$159.5 billion, 7.5 percent higher than that in the same period last year.

Of the amount, domestic economic sector reached US$45.4 billion and foreign-invested sector achieved US$114.1 billion.

Import turnover in 11 months was US$156.6 billion, an increase of 3.5 percent compared to same period last year.

Of the amount of US$156.6 billion, domestic businesses posted US$63.8 billion while imports of businesses with foreign direct investment strongly rose to nearly US$92.8 billion.

Vietnam ran a US$400 million trade deficit and thus posted a trade surplus of US$2.84 million in 11 months.

As per GSO, Galaxy Note 7 incident did not much affect on Vietnam’s export turnover and telephone and electrical accessories. 

Novaland to list 600 million shares

Demand of cheap condos to increase in 2017, Export turnover of commodities achieve US$15.6 billion in Nov, Novaland to list 600 million shares, Vietnam’s first public procurement centre launched in Hanoi

Novaland plans to list 600 million shares (100 per cent of its shares) on the Ho Chi Minh City Stock Exchange (HOSE) this month.

The starting price will be VND50,000 ($2.2) per a share and is expected to be financed by private placement. 

“The listing is expected to be conducted at the end of December,” according to Ms. Hien Cao, Novaland’s PR Executive. “Plans for an initial public offering (IPO), however, will not be conducted this year.”

The Ho Chi Minh City-based property developer has also successfully sold 10 per cent of its shares to 18 investors, mainly overseas financial institutions from Hong Kong, Singapore and Thailand. The deal was worth $120 million. 

“We received more than twice as many bids as our offering volume. About 70 per cent of our investors are overseas financial institutions from Hong Kong, Singapore and Thailand,” Novaland’s CEO Phan Thanh Huy was quoted as saying.

The developer previously announced it had raised $60 million in convertible bonds from Swiss and Hong Kong investors earlier this year after raising $50 million in 2015.

“With this plus the upcoming private placement offering, the target of $200 million is within reach,” said Mr. Phan Le Hoa, Director of Capital Markets and Investor Relations at Novaland. “We believe that with this new capital source, Novaland will have sufficient financial capability to grow in the next stage and we target to be in the VN30 group of shares.”

The stake sale will be the biggest investment in a Vietnamese property developer since Warburg Pincus invested $200 million in Vingroup’s subsidiary Vincom Retail in 2013, which later in 2015 received a $100 million follow-on funding from the global private equity firm.

Warburg Pincus has recently announced a joint venture with Vietnam’s leading fund manager VinaCapital, which invested $15 million in Novaland, to make investments into Vietnam’s hospitality properties.

The joint venture will be seeded initially with approximately $300 million in capital commitments from the two parties and best-in-class hospitality assets including a 100 per cent stake in Serenity Holding as well as select resort and city hotels in Vietnam.

Novaland is one the leading real estate enterprises in the south of Vietnam having a range of apartment projects in the mid and upper segments such as Sunrise City, RiverGate, Tropic Garden, Lexington Residence, Galaxy 9, and Icon 56. Last year, the real estate developer stood at VND6.7 trillion ($294.8 million) and had a net profit of VND446 billion ($19.6 million).

In September this year, the domestic property developer announced plans to replace South Korea’s Daewon Cantavil to resume the construction of the long-delayed Da Phuoc International New Town project in the central city of Da Nang.

Mr. Huy told local media that the company will cooperate with Bac Nam 79 Construction JSC to develop the project. The project will be renamed The Sunrise Bay.

Consumer spending soars as new year holiday nears     

Consumer spending in November posted a significant year-on-year increase as the Tet (Lunar New Year) holiday neared.

According to the General Statistics Office (GSO), total retail sales of goods and services in November totalled more than VND302.9 trillion (US$13.5 billion), representing a rise of 1.9 per cent over the previous month and a 10.4 per cent increase over November 2015.

Retail sales of goods accounted for more than 76 per cent of the total value.

Vu Manh Ha, GSO’s analyst on the domestic economy, said November witnessed strong purchasing power as the shopping season for Tet holiday would arrive earlier than normal. The holiday will fall in early February 2017; usually it is later in the month.

Strong purchasing was seen in wedding, house repair and beauty care products.

Total retail value for the 11 months of this year touched VND3.2 quadrillion, rising by 9.5 per cent over the same period last year. If inflation was excluded, the rate would be 7.6 per cent, lower than the 8.3 per cent rate for the same period of 2015, due to the higher consumer price index (CPI).

Statistics showed that CPI grew at 4.5 per cent in the 11 months of this year compared with only 0.58 per cent in the same period of 2015.

Purchasing power was strong in major cities such as Ha Noi, HCM City and Vung Tau, with increasing rates of more than 10 per cent. 

French city supports lighting project in HCM City

France’s Lyon city has inked an agreement on technical support for a lighting project at the Ho Chi Minh City Fine Arts Museum, according to Sai Go Giai phong newspaper.

The deal was signed on November 29 as part of the ongoing visit to France by Vice Chairman of HCM City’s People’s Committee Le Van Khoa.

This is the fifth lighting project between the two cities, following projects carried out at the Ho Chi Minh Museum, the municipal People’s Committee building, the Opera House, and the Central Post Office.

During his stay in France, Khoa participated in the 27th international exhibition of environmental equipment, technologies and services, which is underway in Lyon from November 29 to December 2.

He also joined bilateral meetings between Vietnam’s Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Tran Hong Ha and Minister of State for Economy and Finance Chirstophe Sirugue and President of the French Environment and Energy Management Agency Bruno Lechevin.

On November 28, Khoa talked with Lyon officials about cooperation in education, international relations, and urban development.

Vietnam’s first public procurement centre launched in Hanoi

The capital city of Hanoi launched a public procurement centre, the first of its kind in Vietnam, November 30.

The centre operates under the city Department of Finance. It is in charge of public procurement for agencies in the city and also provides financial consultation services.

As of late 2016, 64 hospitals and health centres, 22 departments and 21 district administrations of the city have registered their public purchase, worth a total amount of 377 billion VND (166.7 million USD) at the centre.

Chairman of Hanoi People’s Committee Nguyen Duc Chung said that the concentration of public procurement is a policy in line with international practice. It will contribute to reducing public spending and improving transparency.

He also stressed that it is necessary to devise a plan for the efficient and transparent operation of the centre.

Cooking gas price down in December     

Cooking gas price for HCM City and other southern provinces will drop by VND2,500 (US$0.1) per 12kg canister in December compared with the previous month.

On December 1, 2016, retail price for cooking gas from household names such as Vietnam Oil and Gas Group, Vietnam Gas Co Ltd, Vietnam National Petroleum Group and Oil & Gas Company of HoChiMinh City (Saigon Petro Co Ltd) will fluctuate from VND291,000 ($12.8) to VND300,500 ($13.22) per 12kg canister.

Tran Van Phuc, Saigon Petro’s business manager, explained that the drop in December gas price from November was a result of a drop of $15 per tonne in the December world gas price against last month, which is currently at $400 per tonne.

The recent increase in currency exchange rate from VND22.350 per $1 to VND22.730 per $1 also contributed to the downward shift in domestic gas price.

At present, domestic gas production accounts for more than 40 per cent of the market supply, although the retail price for cooking gas is still based on imported gas price post tax, which would hence be affected by the exchange rate.

Vietnamese gas companies had to, therefore, to adjust accordingly within HCM City and its neighbouring southern provinces. 

Tuna exports to EU on the rise

Vietnam tuna exports to the EU is showing signs of recovery and upturn in the remainder of this year after several months of declines, hitting US$87.9 million in ten months, a year-on-year rise of 4.9%.

Last year, EU countries imported processed tuna products while fresh, frozen and dried tuna products are staple imported items for this year reaching nearly US$49 million in 10 months, up 22%.

Exports of processed tuna stood at just US$39 million, down 10%.

Vietnam tuna products are shipped to 20 EU countries, primarily to Italy, Germany and Belgium.

High tax rates have driven canned tuna products from Vietnam in a fix to compete at the EU market while similar products from Ecuador and the Philippines enjoy a zero percent tariff.

Experts forecast that tuna exports to the EU continue to increase in the remaining months as holidays of the year begin to come.

Govt to ban rice exporters without farms

Key domestic rice exporters cannot ship the staple food abroad if they have neither rice farms nor partnerships with farmers, according to the Government.

Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung said in a statement released recently by the Government Office that leading rice exporting companies must have paddy cultivation areas or cooperate or place orders with farmers in line with a road map already approved by the Government. 

Ministries and relevant agencies are responsible for monitoring rice exporters and helping them carry out the plan effectively, Dung said in the statement, which reviews the implementation of the Government’s Decree 109/2010/ND-CP dated November 4, 2010 on rice export business.

In specifics, the ministries of industry-trade, agriculture-rural development, and finance, the State Bank of Vietnam, and the Vietnam Food Association (VFA) will have to review the documents guiding the execution of the decree and adjust them in a way that creates favorable conditions for rice exporters.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade is tasked with working with relevant agencies to draft amendments to the decree and report to the Government within the second quarter next year.

The ministry should abolish a regulation that allows traders to export rice, and work with the agriculture ministry to assess the development of rice farming zones for export and the link between rice exporters and traders, and work towards making this link compulsory in the draft amendments to Decree 109.

Rice export is now a conditional business field under the revised Law on Investment which will take effect next year. The Government will issue a decree guiding the implementation of the law, which will include conditions for rice export.

VN tightens car import controls

The Ministry of Finance has made procedures more stringent for import of automobiles to fight smuggling and trade fraud.

The ministry has urged the General Department of Customs, the General Department of Taxation and the provincial tax departments to take measures to verify the origin and the customs value of imported automobiles.

For imported cars (excluding those eligible for incentives and diplomatic immunity), certificates of origin (C/O) and customs dossiers must be submitted at the time of performing customs clearance procedures.

Customs offices are obliged to do careful examinations and refer to the rules on the legitimacy, stamp and signature of the C/O. In suspicious cases, they must ask for verification or discuss with the countries where the C/O is issued to identify the origin of the vehicles.

In addition to the C/O, the customs has to look into the VIN code and the websites of carmakers to gather information for management. If the VIN code displays signs of eradication and abrasion, they must request verification.

For those cars that had gone through customs before November 28, 2016, a post-clearance check might be conducted if their C/O had not been provided at the time of import.

To strengthen controls on the taxable value of imported cars, the Ministry of Finance has asked customs agencies to closely examine the value declared and have price consultation right when customs procedures are performed.

Customs offices are responsible for building a national database and supplying the value declared to local tax authorities. In return, tax agencies are in charge of providing customs units with the selling price quoted by importers, the price for calculation of excise tax and registration fee of imported cars, for reference and tax administration.

For those cars whose customs procedures have not been completed, they may not be brought to warehouses of importers. In addition, inspection and supervision should be tightened for the records of temporarily import for re-export, as well as the time and the location for storage of the vehicles brought into Vietnam in this method.

The General Department of Customs is tasked with providing monthly updates and completing the price database and the list of items with pricing risks as a basis for consultation.

Vietnam’s Nov retail sales put at VND302.9 trillion

Vietnam’s total retail sales of goods and services are estimated at around VND302.9 trillion (US$13.3 billion) this month, up 1.9% against the previous month and 10.4% over the same period of last year.

Total November sales of goods are put at VND227.4 trillion, up 1.7% against the previous month and 9.5% over the same period of last year. Food and accommodation services providers have obtained total revenue of VND37.3 trillion, up 2.6% month-on-month and 19.4% year-on-year, travel services revenue VND3.4 trillion, up 3% versus October and 33% from the year before. Revenue from other services has grown 2.5% from the month before and 6% from the year-earlier period to VND34.8 trillion.

January-November has seen total sales of goods and services nationwide amounting to VND3,201 trillion, up 9.5% year-on-year, or 7.6% with the price factor excluded.

Sales of catering and accommodation services in January-November have reached VND374.5 trillion, a 10.4% year-on-year increase.

Revenue from travel services is put at VND31 trillion, up 11.4% year-on-year.

Lending expands over 14% as of November 22     

Lending of the banking sector as of November 22 had expanded by around 14 per cent against December last year, with dong loans rising 15.3 per cent and foreign currency loans increasing 2.8 per cent, State Bank of Viet Nam Deputy Governor Dao Minh Tu reported.

At a regular Government meeting on Tuesday, Tu said that a credit growth rate of 17-18 per cent this year was reasonable and attainable as lending usually rises sharply during the final months of the year.

He also affirmed that the central bank would regulate credit growth to meet the Government’s growth and inflation control targets. It would also focus on lending quality to minimise the risk of non-performing loans (NPLs).

Earlier this year, the central bank targeted an annual credit growth of between 18 and 20 per cent, up from 17.26 per cent in 2015. However, it affirmed that the credit growth rate might be adjusted based on the actual situation, as it happened last year. 

In 2015, the central bank first targeted a credit growth rate of 13 per cent, then adjusted it to between 15 and 18 per cent to meet rising capital demand.

Viet Nam’s economy was originally expected to grow 6.7 per cent this year, compared to 6.68 per cent in 2015.

However adverse weather conditions and the en masse fish deaths along the central coast have forced the Government to revise the 2016 target down to between 6.2 and 6.5 per cent.

The central bank will direct lending capital to flow mainly into the five prioritised sectors of agriculture, exports, spare-parts industries, small- and medium-sized enterprises, and hi-tech firms besides startups, Tu said.

National export turnover up in Nov     

Export turnover in November reached US$15.6 billion, up 1.3 per cent since last month, pushing export value in the 11 months of 2016 to $159.5 billion, an increase of 7.5 per cent year-on-year.

The rise in export turnover in the last 11 months is because of a spurt in the manufacturing sector, which makes up a large portion of the export market, the General Statistics Office (GSO) said.

Some industries experienced high growth: machinery and spare parts touched $9.33 billion, up 26 per cent; electronics and computers reached $16.75 billion, up 17.1 per cent, and the mobile phone and accessories segment reached $31.3 billion, up 10.2 per cent.

The export of agricultural products and crude oil slipped compared to the same period last year, pushing down export growth rate from January to November this year to below 10 per cent.

The major export markets in November included the US at $34.7 billion, up 14 per cent, EU at $30.5 billion, up 8.3 per cent and China at $19.6 billion, up 26.7 per cent. The ASEAN market went down by 6.6 per cent, with a turnover of only $15.7 billion.

Overall, the balance of trade from this January to November maintained a surplus, with exports exceeding imports by $2.84 billion.

Imports increased only by 3.5 per cent in 11 months compared to the same period in 2015, with a $156.6 billion turnover. The country with the largest exports to Viet Nam was China, at $44.6 billion, an increase of 0.5 per cent.

The 2016 export growth rate of 7.5 per cent is much lower than the National Congress’ target of 10 per cent, which will be hard to achieve with just one month left in this year. 

Workshop helps Vietnamese timber industry export to Europe     

Once the Voluntary Partnership Agreement on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (VPA/FLEGT) comes into force, there will be opportunities for Viet Nam to export more wooden products to Europe and other new markets as well as get higher prices, according to the EU Delegation to Viet Nam.

Speaking at a workshop in HCM City on November 30, Nguyen To Uyen of the EU Delegation to Viet Nam said the forest pact would increase the competitiveness of Vietnamese timber products compared to those from countries that do not have much control over the forestry sector.

A VPA is a voluntary trade agreement between the EU and countries making wooden products to promote trade in legal timber and help ensure only legally harvested timber is imported into the EU from these countries.

The EU and Viet Nam finished negotiating a VPA on November 18 and an agreement is expected to be signed in early 2017.

Nguyen Manh Dung of the Ministry of Industry and Trade said under the agreement Viet Nam would create a timber legality assurance system (TLAS) in line with the country’s situation and the EU’s requirements on identifying the origin of timber.

Full operation of the TLAS would significantly contribute to identifying the origin of Vietnamese timber products exported to the EU and other markets, he said.

Once a VPA is fully implemented, the country will issue FLEGT licenses for exports of wood products to document that they meet all relevant local laws. If a license is in place, EU companies do not have to conduct any due diligence.

To help Vietnamese firms understand about the forestry pact, the Nature Economy and People Connected (NepCon), an international non-profit organisation, and the Research Institute for Sustainable Forest Management and Forest Certification, have implemented a project called “Increasing capacity of civil society organisations and small and medium sized enterprises to implement FLEGT requirements.”

Co-funded by the EU and NEPCon, the project was launched in March 2014.

Reviewing the performance of the project in the past years, Ann Weddle, auditor and project manager of NepCon, said, “We have developed a toolkit to help Vietnamese companies comply with relevant requirements and communicated this to European buyers.”

The toolkit contains 18 tools, including guidance documents, checklists and templates.

Besides, training courses have been held to show Vietnamese companies and organisations how to use the toolkit.

National Forestry Risk Profiles have been created for Viet Nam and the five main countries it imports timber from.

This would help Vietnamese timber companies assess the risks when importing timber from these countries, Weddle said.

Huynh Van Cuong, director of Ngan Dai Sin, an SME specialising in children’s furniture in Dong Nai Province, said, “The toolkit provided by the project is very useful and helps enterprises evaluate and manage timber sources.”

Le Vo Thanh Binh of the Viet Nam Rubber Group said the company’s subsidiaries are aware of the need to obtain certificates for producing and exporting timber products.

Viet Nam earned US$5.76 billion from wood and wooden products exports in the first 10 months of the year, a year-on-year increase of 0.8 per cent, with the US, Japan, and EU being the largest importers. 

HCM City international trade fair attracts large participation     

The Vietnam International Trade Fair (Vietnam Expo) opened on November 30 in HCM City with 520 companies showcasing their products at nearly 600 stalls.

They are displaying products like paper, building materials, interior decoration items, car components, lubricants, pharmaceuticals, food and beverages, textile and garments, machinery, electrical-electronic appliances, craft products, consumer goods.

The exhibitors are from 20 countries and territories including China, Indonesia, India, Japan, Kenya, Nepal, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Taiwan.

Indonesia is participating for the first time in this annual event with 60 stalls in its national pavilion.

“After studying carefully we chose this expo in HCM City as a venue to directly introduce our enterprises to potential Vietnamese partners to boost bilateral trade and investment,” Indonesian ambassador Ibnu Hadi said.

Indonesia organised a seminar on the sidelines on turning challenges into opportunities in the seafood industry as part of the same effort.

Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Ho Thi Kim Thoa said the expo is a bridge enabling Vietnamese and international enterprises to meet and find co-operation and promote trade and investment.

“It gathers investors and producers in the sectors of machinery, equipment, chemicals, building materials, agriculture, food processing, textiles and others from around the world.”

This year the Ha Noi Department of Industry and Trade is highlighting the message of preserving and developing craft villages.

Today there will be a seminar on the role of new technologies at small and medium enterprises amid global integration.

The expo is on at the Saigon Exhibition and Convention Center in District 7 where another exhibition on hardware and hand tools also opened yesterday with 152 domestic and foreign companies displaying their items.

Both four-day exhibitions, organised by Vinexad, will go on until December 3. 

Cashback for Online Friday     

As many as 18 banks and credit organisations agreed to implement a cashback policy to customers joining in Online Friday 2016 on December 2.

Le Duc Anh from the Viet Nam E-commerce and Information Technology Agency (VECITA) under the Ministry of Industry and Trade said under the cashback policy, banks would give people a discount into their bank accounts after buying products or services online.

Last year, the rate of card payment on Online Friday was only 4 per cent while the remaining was cash on delivery (COD). COD has caused difficulties for both delivery firms and retailers as only 1 out of 10 orders were successfully implemented. Businesses have suffered costs for goods which were not delivered to customers.

This prompted the move to call for banks’ participation in the cashback policy. The payment would bring benefits to businesses, delivery firms and customers.

Customers could get VND500,000 (US$22) for a VND1 million order if they pay by bank cards on Online Friday 2016, Anh said.

VECITA said the Maritime Bank and ACB have the highest rate of cashback of up to 50 per cent while Agribank, Kien Long Bank and SCB give a 30 per cent discount.

Eximbank, NCB, VRB, BaoVietBank, HDB and MB would give 20 per cent discounts to people paying by cards. An Binh Bank and VP Bank have the discount of 10 per cent in the day. Sacombank also joined in the programme with a discount rate of 5 per cent.

SeABank gives VND500,000 cashback for bills of more than VND1 million.

Vietcombank would add VND200,000 cashback for its local debit card for online purchases of more than VND500,000 on 27 big online websites in Viet Nam such as Adayroi, Tiki, Shoptretho, Lazada and Fptshop.

The cashback will apply only on December 2.

The year’s largest e-commerce event will take place from December 1 to 4 with two main events of Online Friday at website store.onlinefriday.vn/ and Big Off in the pedestrian streets around Guom (Sword) Lake in the centre of Ha Noi.

VECITA said the organising board this year has taken solutions to prevent fraudulent promotions.

It has co-operated with price comparison websites such as Top Mot, Websosanh and Chongiadung to help consumers compare prices of goods and services.

People could also use the iCheck app to check product information.

As of Monday, the organising board removed more than 60,000 products registering in the day as they have higher prices than the average level in the market. 

Businesses urged to actively join global supply chains

Together with producing high-quality and competitive products, businesses should actively engage in the global supply chains, maintaining growth in both revenue and profit, and securing their firm foothold at home and abroad.

President Tran Dai Quang made the suggestion while receiving a delegation of businesses winning the national brand awards 2016 in Hanoi on November 30.

He spoke highly of national brand winners’ efforts to gradually improve their products’ prestige and trademarks, saying that they have increasingly confirmed their pioneering role in production and business, making significant contributions to the country’s socio-economic development.

According to the State leader, the extensive and intensive international integration and engagement in new-generation free trade agreements have opened up a new development horizon for Vietnam’s economy. However, it also poses a lot of difficulties and challenges for the country.

He called on businesses to push ahead with manufacturing activities and closely pursue values that the National Brand programme is targeting, while ensuring the quality of products via advanced production system and healthy financial capacity.

The President suggested promoting innovation, applying state-of-the-art science and technology to increase productivity and competitive edge as well as embracing connectivity and forming domestic and regional production value chains.

He asked the National Brand Council, the Ministry of Industry and Trade, and relevant ministries and sectors to proactively remove difficulties for businesses, reform administrative procedures, and create a favourable business environment.

Korea Expo underway in Hanoi

The Korea Trade Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA) and the Vietnam National Trade Fair & Advertising JSC (Vinexad) are co-hosting the Korea Expo 2016 in Hanoi from November 30 to December 1.

Chairman of KOTRA Kim Jae Hong said the event draws 67 businesses from the Republic of Korea (RoK) along with 65 ASEAN enterprises and 350 Vietnamese ones.

On display are popular made-in-Korea products such as cosmetics, jewelry, fashion items, kitchen-household gadgets, food and beverages, LED devices, kid toys and light industry materials.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee Nguyen Duc Chung said the RoK is the largest investor of Hanoi, with 1,175 projects worth over 5 billion USD by November 2016, making up 31 percent of total valid projects and 20.86 percent of total registered foreign capital in the city.

The projects mainly focus on real estate, health, education, processing-manufacturing, and construction services, he said.

Hanoi is home to six projects worth around 15 million USD funded by the RoK’s official development assistance (ODA). They are being carried out in the fields of vocational training, healthcare, urban management, and infrastructure building.

According to KOTRA, the free trade agreement between Vietnam and the RoK came into force in 2015 with the removal of a number of tax lines.-

Vietnam forges ahead with free trade agreement with EU

Vietnam has been actively preparing for the ratification and enforcement of the free trade agreement with the European Union (EU), Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue told Ambassador Bruno Angelet, Head of the EU Delegation to Vietnam, at a reception in Hanoi on November 30.

The Deputy PM expressed his pleasure at the positive development in the bilateral cooperation in recent years, citing the Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Partnership and Cooperation (PCA) between Vietnam and the EU came into force on October 1, 2016, and the two sides are looking towards to the signing of the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA).

He said the Vietnamese Government is pushing ahead with economic reshuffle and growth model reform along with increasing productivity and competitiveness, restructuring budget collection and spending and public debts, improving the business climate, and supporting the startup ecosystem.

Vietnam is revising and fine-tuning its legal system in line with development process and international commitments, he said, adding that he hopes the Ambassador will act as a bridge to help Vietnam push the signing, ratification and enforcement of the trade pact for mutual benefits.

He called on the EU to boost investment in Vietnam and soon recognise its full market economy status.

Ambassador Bruno Angelet said 2017 will be an eventful year for Vietnam and the EU, offering good chances for them to boost cooperation.

The EU has a big ambition to implement the EVFTA as it is the first free trade pact that the union signed with a middle-income Asian country, he added, noting that Vietnam is leading Southeast Asia in export to the EU, while the union is the third biggest investor in Vietnam. 

With the EVFTA, the EU will approve Vietnam’s proposal on the provision of technical assistance, he said, adding that 50 EU experts are willing to support Vietnam in this field.

The union will spare no efforts to help Vietnam enforce this agreement, he affirmed.

Vietnam Expo 2016 opens in HCM City

The 14th Vietnam Expo opened at the Saigon Exhibition and Convention Centre in Ho Chi Minh City on November 30.

The four-day event features 600 booths of 520 businesses from 20 counties and territories, including Indonesia, the Republic of Korea (RoK), Nepal, China and Taiwan (China). 

Indonesia is the country of honour at this year’s expo, sending over 60 businesses to display modern technology products at the event.

The RoK’s state businesses and provincial trade organisations, such as the Bucheon Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and representatives of Incheon, Suwon and Daejeon authorities are among those present. Nearly 100 Korean businesses are introducing their latest technologies, services and products at the expo.

Especially, for the first time, the Hanoi Department of Industry and Trade introduces the capital’s traditional craft villages to visitors in the southern region and from foreign countries.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry Ho Thi Kim Thoa said the fair serves as a bridge for Vietnamese and foreign businesses to seek partnerships, especially in support industry.

The same day, the Vietnam Hardware and Hand Tools Expo 2016 was kicked off at the the Saigon Exhibition and Convention Centre.

Airlines to increase flights for Lunar New Year 2017

Vietnam’s carriers are ready to operate plans to meet domestic travel demand during the 2017 Lunar New Year.

The national flag carrier Vietnam Airlines has announced to launch additional 900 flights, equivalent to 185,000 seats, on domestic routes from January 15 to February 13, 2017. Accordingly, the total number of seats the airline provides during the holiday soars 46 percent from the same period last year, and 13 percent against the normal day.

The new-generation airline Vietjet Air said that during the Lunar New Year festival, it will use 44 aircraft, an increase of 12 planes compared to last year. 

Meanwhile, the low-cost carrier Jetstar Pacific plans to raise its capacity up to 50 percent compare to the 2016 Tet Holiday.

Besides, sale of tickets one year earlier at various costs has created favourable conditions for customers and contributed to reducing ticket shortage at peak time.

Wood enterprises helped to meet EU requirements

A conference was held in HCM City on November 30 to review a project on enhancing the capacity of small and medium-sized enterprises to meet requirements of the European Union Forest on Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan.

Sponsored by the EU, the project has been implemented by the Vietnamese Sustainable Forest Management Institute (SFMI) in collaboration with the NEPCon, an international non-profit organisation.

According to Ann Weddle, director of the project, after three years of implementation, the project has built a set of tools to support Vietnamese enterprises in meeting requirements on legal wood, enable them to work with the European Union businesses.

It has compiled forestry legal risk profiles for Vietnam and five other countries that Vietnam imports wood from, she said, adding that the profiles helped Vietnamese companies access legal risks when importing wood from those countries, thus helping them export their products to the EU market easily.

Representatives of participating enterprises said via the project, businesses were equipped with knowledge on legal wood and regulations of the EU and requirements of the FLEGT action plan.

The set of tools is very useful as it assists enterprises in assessing and managing wood supplies, thus making them ready to meet the FLEGT requirements.

Earlier, on November 18, 2016, after years of negotiation, Vietnam and the EU reached an agreement in principle to work together towards reducing illegal wood exploitation, improving forest administration and promote legally-produced wood trade promotion via the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) on FLEGT.

Nguyen To Uyen from the Cooperation Committee of the EU Delegation in Vietnam said though the VPA is just a bilateral agreement, its impacts will be beyond Vietnam’s border given the country’s centre role in the global trade of wood products.

The signing of the VPA will help improve domestic standards and help enterprises access EU markets easier, she noted.

In order to implement the VPA/FLEGT, Uyen said Vietnam must include the commitments in the VPA in relevant existing laws, emphasised the need to develop a system to define the legality of wood and wood products in the supply chain.

Hanoi’s November CPI rises 0.47 percent

Hanoi’s consumer price index (CPI) in November rose by 0.47 percent over October, according to the municipal statistics office.

The index was up 5.45 percent compared to the same period last year.

Price increases were seen in eight goods and services groups with the highest hike reported in transportation at 1.48 percent.

Other groups recorded price increase were housing, electricity and water (0.53 percent); food and catering (0.46 percent); and other goods and services (0.36 percent).

Prices increased slightly between 0.04 percent and 0.28 percent for medicines and health care services; cultural, recreational and tourism products; apparel, headwear and footwear; household devises and equipment.

Prices of telecommunication, education services, beverages and tobacco remained stable in the reviewed period.

The price of US dollar rose 0.17 percent, while the gold price dropped 2.14 percent against the previous month.

Wood enterprises helped to meet EU requirements

A conference was held in HCM City on November 30 to review a project on enhancing the capacity of small and medium-sized enterprises to meet requirements of the European Union Forest on Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan.

Sponsored by the EU, the project has been implemented by the Vietnamese Sustainable Forest Management Institute (SFMI) in collaboration with the NEPCon, an international non-profit organisation.

According to Ann Weddle, director of the project, after three years of implementation, the project has built a set of tools to support Vietnamese enterprises in meeting requirements on legal wood, enable them to work with the European Union businesses.

It has compiled forestry legal risk profiles for Vietnam and five other countries that Vietnam imports wood from, she said, adding that the profiles helped Vietnamese companies access legal risks when importing wood from those countries, thus helping them export their products to the EU market easily.

Representatives of participating enterprises said via the project, businesses were equipped with knowledge on legal wood and regulations of the EU and requirements of the FLEGT action plan.

The set of tools is very useful as it assists enterprises in assessing and managing wood supplies, thus making them ready to meet the FLEGT requirements.

Earlier, on November 18, 2016, after years of negotiation, Vietnam and the EU reached an agreement in principle to work together towards reducing illegal wood exploitation, improving forest administration and promote legally-produced wood trade promotion via the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) on FLEGT.

Nguyen To Uyen from the Cooperation Committee of the EU Delegation in Vietnam said though the VPA is just a bilateral agreement, its impacts will be beyond Vietnam’s border given the country’s centre role in the global trade of wood products.

The signing of the VPA will help improve domestic standards and help enterprises access EU markets easier, she noted.

In order to implement the VPA/FLEGT, Uyen said Vietnam must include the commitments in the VPA in relevant existing laws, emphasised the need to develop a system to define the legality of wood and wood products in the supply chain.

Local cement firm eyes Malaysian market for exports

Vietnamese cement manufacturer Song Lam Cement Joint Stock Company is eyeing to export thousands of tons of clinker to Malaysia every month.

Recently, the wholly owned subsidiary of Vissai Group, opened its first cement facility in the central province of Nghe An and now has exported its first shipment of clinker to a customer in the Malaysian market.

The Song Lam Cement Plant has a capacity to produce 18,000 tons of clinker per day, said Nguyen Tien Dat, deputy director of Vissai Group.

Its modernized production lines use state-of-the-art equipment of brands Loscher, IKN and ABB of Germany and Japan. 

Vietlott to expand lottery reach, sales into Hanoi

The Vietnam Lottery Company Vietlott has announced plans to launch a new computerized lottery game for the first time ever in Hanoi this coming December 5.

A representative of Vietlott said the new lottery game will be sold through sales agents – Kim Ma, Thuy Khe and Ly Thuong Kiet. Initially, Vietlott plans to install 150 terminals at each sales point.

Each computerized lottery ticket will sell for US$.44 (VND10,000). 

VEF/VNA/VNS/VOV/SGT/SGGP/Dantri/VET/VIR

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