Accountant group meets in Viet Nam

Members of the Chartered Accountants Worldwide in Vietnam last week met for the first time in Viet Nam to develop a chartered accountants’ community in the country.

The prestigious title of chartered accountant is earned by leading professionals in accounting, finance and business. They often hold high positions including business leaders, decision makers and trusted consultants in the largest listed firms.

These talented specialists with their knowledge, experience, vision and a commitment of professionalism, ethics and integrity are the driving engine that helps companies, organisations, individuals and comities to achieve their financial and strategic goals.

In Việt Nam, chartered accountants are still a new concept. Thus, the meeting is an important step to give them opportunities to meet and exchange experiences as well as tighten the bond among members of the community.

Organised by the Institute of Chartered Accountants for England and Wales (ICAEW), the event is expected to be a quarterly activity to allow a strong development of this community in Việt Nam.

Chartered Accountant Worldwide has 60 active members in Việt Nam who are leaders, financial mangers or holders of important positions in various agencies and organisations, both domestic and international.

Mark Protherough, Vice President, ICAEW Global, spoke about this milestone event in Vietnam.

He said: “Among the many organisations for chartered accountants around the world, ICAEW is the only one having representation in Vietnam. So we are well aware of the responsibility and role we bear in initiating activities like this to create a bond and strengthen our commitment related to professionalism and ethics in Việt Nam.

“CAW members are not only active in accounting and auditing, but also spread solidly over a number of fields. These events orchestrated by ICAEW in Hanoi and HCM City represent an effort to contribute to the bonding and overall development of the chartered accountant community in Việt Nam and the world as a whole.”

Former minister: TPP to help reduce dependence on China

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact will bring big opportunities for Vietnam to implement institutional and economic reforms and reduce its dependence on China, said former Minister of Trade Truong Dinh Tuyen.

At a seminar on the TPP held in the northern province of Vinh Phuc last week, experts agreed that Vietnam is the biggest beneficiary of the TPP, which was signed in New Zealand in early February, saying the country stands a big chance of being less reliant on the Chinese market, VnExpress reports.

“The TPP will pave the way for Vietnam to expand export markets, instead of exporting farm produce and raw material to China,” Tuyen told the seminar organized by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Vietnamese National Assembly Committee for External Relations.

According to Tuyen, the TPP will make it possible for Vietnam to effectively implement its policy of diversifying and multilateralizing ties with the rest of the world.

“To reduce dependence on China, Vietnam will have no other choice but to carry out institutional reforms. Our institutions should be different from and better than China’s,” Tuyen said, adding the next step Vietnam should do is to focus on technological innovations and creativity. Tuyen played a pivotal role in Vietnam’s signing a bilateral trade agreement with America in July 2000, and in Vietnam’s accession to the World Trade Organization in November 2006.

Minister of Industry and Trade Vu Huy Hoang also agreed the TPP would offer opportunities for Vietnam to diversify export and import markets, thus avoiding dependence on a single market. “The TPP together with other free trade agreements that were already signed and will be signed will facilitate Vietnam’s export market diversification,” Hoang said.

Virginia Foote, chair of the American Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam (Amcham), said the TPP would create good conditions for enterprises and the Vietnamese economy as a whole to grow further and decrease reliance on the Chinese market. The high-standard TPP deal will create an impetus for Vietnam’s economic development, bring in more international tourists and attract more foreign capital inflows, she added.

According to Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Quoc Khanh, the TPP will contribute to ensuring macroeconomic stability for the corporate sector to grow.

US Ambassador to Vietnam Ted Osius told the seminar that implementing a trade agreement with high standards like the TPP will prove tough for Vietnam. He noted the US would be on hand to help Vietnam execute the deal.

According to the General Statistics Office, Vietnam had a trade deficit of US$32.3 billion with China last year while the economy’s total trade deficit with the world was a mere US$3.2 billion.

Last year Vietnam’s imports from the northern neighbor, mostly machines, tools, phone parts, computers and electronic devices, amounted to US$49.3 billion while Vietnam exported US$17 billion worth of products to China last year.

Thai startup business, Getlinks expands investment to Vietnam

Bangkok-based tech recruitment platform Getlinks has secured US$500,000 seed funding from Cyber Agent Ventures to expand operation to Vietnam and Singapore.

GetLinks – which counts Google, Uber, Line and Lazada among its customers in Thailand – sees a huge potential for tech recruitment offering in Vietnam, which has recorded a surge in investment inflows into the startup space.

Nguyen Manh Dung, chief representative of CAV in Vietnam and Thailand said recruiting is one of the biggest obstacles facing startups. He hoped that Getlinks will help tackle the problem not only in Southeast Asia but also global market.

DjoannFal, CEO and founder of GetLinks, said “Asia’s tech industry is entering into its golden age, startups, corporates and governments want to get into tech. But with this growth comes massive challenges for startups to build the right team due to limited talent pool and lack of quality supply channels. We aim to bring efficiency to this tech hiring market by providing a quality tech talent pipeline at an affordable price.”

To facilitate its foray into Vietnam, GetLinks will co-organize the Saigon Tech Startup Fest for startups at the Independence Palace on March 12, expecting over 3,000 tech attendees.  

Bac Ninh’s major industrial park expanded

Work started on the expansion of the Yen Phong 1 Industrial Park in Yen Phong district, the northern province of Bac Ninh, on March 7.

The industrial park will be expanded by 314 hectares at a cost of some VND3 trillion (US$135 million), raising its total area to over 658 hectares.

The project is expected to transform Bac Ninh into a hub of electronics, telecommunication and green industries in Vietnam, said Tran Anh Tuan, Director of the Viglacera Infrastructure Investment Development Company.

The Viglacera Corporation, which owns the company, began building the industrial park in 2005. The park is considered as an attractive destination for investors from the Republic of Korea, Japan and other countries with major businesses operating there like Samsung, Orion, Flexcom, Dongsin, Mobase, Dawo Vina and Hansol.

Yen Phong 1 has drawn nearly US$8 billion of investment capital so far, including US$7.2 billion of foreign direct investment. Notably, Samsung earmarked an additional US$3 billion for investing in the park last year.

Deputy Minister of Construction Le Quang Hung said it is one of the industrial parks with the most effective land use, elaborating that the park attracted US$0.31 billion on each of the existing 246 hectares of industrial land. Enterprises based there also significantly contributed to Bac Ninh’s total export of US$28 billion in 2015.

He added that the firms have created jobs for over 60,000 workers, including local residents and labourers from around the nation.

Located at the centre of the northern economic development triangle (whose three points are Hanoi, Haiphong city and Quang Ninh province), the Yen Phong 1 Industrial Park was built with the ultimate goal of turning Bac Ninh into a modernity-oriented industrial province.

Some foreign investors said the park’s attraction comes from Viglacera’s continual improvement of infrastructure and services. The facility also boasts an abundant and quality workforce.

New luxury resort opens in Vinh Phuc

Hoang Thi Thuy Lan, chair of the Vinh Phuc Province People’s Committee on March 6, spoke at the grand opening of the city’s newest luxury resort, constructed by Vietnamese property developer FLC Group.

“The new FLC Vinh Thinh Resort is only a short one-hour drive from Hanoi by taking a route via National Highway 2A, 2C, and the Hanoi-Lao Cai railway,” said Miss Lan, which holds for great promise for lifting tourism and business travel to the city.

Miss Lan told those in attendance that the resort is a tremendous boon to the local economy, generating thousands of good paying jobs, helping people lift themselves and their families out of poverty and into the middle class.

At the launch an FLC representative in turn said the resort aims to provide provide customers with high-end services such as luxury villas, five-star hotel and restaurants, entertainment areas, swimming pool, even including a helicopter pad on its rooftop.

Viettel becomes first 4G services provider in Burudi

Vietnam’s telecommunications giant, Viettel, has become the first supplier of 4G LTE services to the Republic of Burundi in East Africa, according to a company announcement.

Viettel is now providing Internet 4G services with speeds of up to 100Mbps in the East African provinces of Bujumbura, Gitega, Ngozi, Muyinga and Makamba Rumonge, the announcement said.

Since it first began operating in the market last April, the company has already gained one million clients, making it the biggest Internet supplier in the country with a market saturation rate in excess of 90%.

Cam Ranh International Port inaugurated

The Cam Ranh International Port in the central coastal province of Khanh Hoa was inaugurated at a ceremony on March 8.

Speaking at function, President Truong Tan Sang hailed the Saigon Newport Corporation and the Vietnam Oil and Gas Group (PetroVietnam) for completing the first phase of this important project.

He urged the Saigon Newport Corporation to step up the implementation of the second phase of the project, ensuring its progress and quality.

Once completed, Cam Ranh International Port is expected to become the biggest port in Vietnam in terms of wharf length, which could handle 18 ships at one time and accommodate ships of up to 110,000 DWT.

It is capable of receiving 185 ships each year, and is designed to protect ships against 8-level wind and storms.

The port will serve both civilian and military vessels.

Cam Ranh Bay holds a strategic position in the East Sea due to its proximity to international navigation routes and Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) Archipelagos, as well as to oil and gas areas in the south-east continental shelf of Vietnam.

Honda, GM recall over 5,000 cars

Honda Viet Nam is recalling 4,922 Honda Civic cars with a faulty airbag, according to the Register Vietnam.

Honda Viet Nam began the recall on March 4. The affected vehicles will include the Honda City 1.5L AT and 1.51 MT produced in 2013-2014 and the Civic 1.8L 5MT FD1, Civic 1.8L 5AT FD1, Civic 2.0L 5AT FD2 and CR-V 2.4L AT RE3 produced in 2012.

Honda Viet Nam will check, repair and provide free replacements for the affected vehicles through its agents nationwide. The recall is scheduled to end in January 2017.

As for imported cars on the list of recalled vehicles announced by Honda Japan, if Honda Viet Nam receives a replacement request from a customer, the Japanese company will provide support and a contact for checking and repairing the vehicle.

At the same time, GM Vietnam is recalling 565 Chevrolet AVEO Klasn1 FYUs and AVEO Klas SN4/446s produced between July 27, 2015, and December 4, 2015, to have their ball joints checked and replaced at GM Vietnam’s authorised dealers.

The campaign will end in September this year.   

Viglacera expands Yen Phong industrial zone

The Viet Nam Glass and Ceramics for Construction Corporation (Viglacera – CTCP) officially started construction to expand Yen Phong Industrial Zone (IZ) in the northern Bắc Ninh province on March 7.

With a total area of 660ha, the construction of Yen Phong IZ is divided into two phases. The first phase, which started in 2005, covered 350ha.

Viglacera is now launching the second phase, covering 314ha, with a total investment of VNĐ3 trillion (US$140 million).

Viglacera’s Director of Infrastructure Development Investment Trần Anh Tuấn said this project was expected to develop the province into a centre for the electronics, telecommunications and high-tech equipment industries in Việt Nam.

When completed, the IZ is expected to help Bac Ninh reach a total investment of $10 billion, Tuấn said.

Yên Phong IZ became operational in 2005, backed by many large investors such as Samsung, Orion, Flexcom and Dongsin, as well as Mobase, Dawo Vina and Hansol. It is considered an attractive destination for South Korean and Japanese investors as well as other multinational corporations, Tuấn said.

With Samsung’s decision last year to invest an additional $3 billion in the project, Yên Phong Industrial Zone has so far attracted a total investment of up to $8 billion, of which $7 billion came from FDI capital.

Launch of KPMG NEXT Programme for Vietnamese Entrepreneurs

Today, KPMG in Vietnam – one of the leading “Big 4” professional services firms – and the Centre for Support and Development of Vietnamese Young Entrepreneurs announced the launch of KPMG NEXT, a unique programme designed to fast track Vietnamese private businesses and entrepreneurs.

Selected participants will receive intensive training through a series of bootcamp workshops to help them meet the myriad of complex challenges they face as they continue to grow into a sustainable and competitive business.

In addition, KPMG NEXT offers participants access to unique one-on-one mentoring from an expert advisor from KPMG Vietnam.

The programme culminates in a facilitated workshop in Singapore where entrepreneurs will network with Global and Regional business leaders as well as visit innovative companies such as KPMG Singapore, Google and LinkedIn.

“With the right networks, advice and training, we believe that a good company can become even greater. KPMG NEXT allows private businesses here in Vietnam, to better understand the challenges critical to success, so that they can take on the world,” said Warrick Cleine, chairman and CEO of KPMG in Vietnam and Cambodia.

“This is especially important in 2016 as Vietnam moves further into the ASEAN Economic Community and adopts further reforms under the TPP and other trade agreements. Vietnamese companies cannot ignore these challenges and opportunities,” Claine added.

“We are excited to work side by side with KPMG on this exciting project to develop and enhance the capabilities of Vietnamese entrepreneurs.

“We strongly believe that The KPMG NEXT programme will enable Vietnamese businesses to review their current growth strategy and tactics; understand the latest fund-raising processes, financial management and operational management, with the objective of transforming their business to a professionally managed entity with clearly articulated objectives,” said Nguyen Doan Thang, secretary general of the Vietnam Young Entrepreneurs Association, and director of the Centre for Support and Development of Vietnamese Young Entrepreneurs.

Applications for KPMG NEXT are currently open and will close on April 14, 2016, with the bootcamp workshops to commence in April 2016.

Full details of the programme, including timeline, selection criteria and application process can be found on the KPMG NEXT website at

Self Wing gets investment licence in Da Nang

The central city’s planning and investment department granted an investment licence to the Self Wing Viet Nam Company in the business start-up education sector yesterday.

The central city’s planning and investment department grants an investment license to the Self Wing Viet Nam company in business start-up education yesterday.- VNS Photo Cong Thanh

Viet Nam is the first country where the company has set up its personal education system in Ha Noi, HCM City and Da Nang.

As per the plan, the Self Wing International College will open in the central city next July to support an anticipated surge in Japanese investment into Viet Nam and Da Nang City in the coming years.

According to the city’s investment promotion centre, Da Nang has drawn 390 foreign direct investment (FDI) projects with a total capital of US$3.6 billion, of which nearly 100 projects, worth $390 million, are from Japan.

Last year, the city’s investment promotion centre also launched its Japanese Desk Da Nang team, which will be available every Wednesday to help Japanese investors with information about administrative procedures, investment licences, priority policies and other adjustments.

The city plans to build a 134ha industrial park for medium and small-sized businesses from Japan.

FPT Software has sent 101 information technology (IT) trainees from Da Nang, Ha Noi and HCM City to participate in a nine-month training programme in Japan.

The training is being held as part of the 10,000-Bridge Software Engineer (BrSE) programme.

Vietnam Expo 2016 for April

The Vietnam International Trade Fair (Vietnam Expo 2016) will be held from April 13 to 16 at the Hanoi International Exhibition Center (ICE) at 91 Tran Hung Dao Street in Hanoi’s Hoan Kiem district.

With a theme of “Enhancing Regional and Global Economic Links”, the Expo will assist exhibitors and other participants to promote their business brands and operations, exchange business information, and seek potential partners and cooperative deals while also improving Vietnam’s attractiveness as a destination for foreign investment.

According to the organizer, Vinexad, the Expo will have some 450 exhibitors from 20 countries and territories such as South Korea, Uganda, the Czech Republic, Sri Lanka, Japan, Singapore, and South Africa displaying their products in 520 booths.

Vietnam Expo 2016 will also see the participation of Vietnamese enterprises that won a Vietnam Value Award for strong brand names, including the Vietnam Electrical Equipment Joint Stock Corporation (GELEX), the Tran Phu Electrical Mechanical JSC, the Binh Minh Plastics JSC, the Duy Tan Plastics JSC, the Hanoi Trade Corporation, and the Hoa Tho Textile – Garment Joint Stock Corporation.

A large number of participants will come from Belarus, hoping to contribute to promoting comprehensive relations between the country and Vietnam and boosting cooperation between enterprises on both sides in science and technology, defense, education, healthcare, culture, sports, and tourism.

2016 will be a pivotal year for Vietnam’s economy as it further integrates into the global economy after signing free trade agreements (FTAs) such as the EU – Vietnam FTA and the Vietnam – South Korea FTA, together with the TPP and the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC).

Vinexad expects that this year’s Expo will welcome around 20,000 visitors.

$500 million HCMC real estate deal signed

A $500 million cooperative deal was signed on March 6 in Ho Chi Minh City between the Phat Dat Real Estate Development Corporation (PDR), An Gia Investment, and the Creed Group, to build the River City project in District 7, which will have 8,000 apartments in 12 blocks.

Vietnam’s real estate market has similar potential to the markets in Japan, South Korea, and Singapore, according to Mr. Toshihiko Muneyoshi, Chairman of the Creed Group, a Japanese investment fund. Demand for real estate among citizens and enterprises is huge, he went on, requiring the participation of professional investors.

As Vietnam integrates deeper into the global economy, especially via the TPP, it will attract many more international investors. In cooperating with An Gia Investment and PDR, Mr. Muneyoshi said, the Creed Group expects to share its experience in real estate with Vietnam, especially Ho Chi Minh City.

This year is expected to see significant developments in infrastructure in the south with a range of key transport projects underway, said Mr. Le Trong Hieu, Secretary of the District 7 Party Committee. Thu Thiem 4 Bridge, which connects Nguyen Van Linh Street to the Thu Thiem new urban area in District 2, is just one such major project, he added.   

Last year, An Gia Investment and the Creed Group cooperated in the construction of the Angia Skyline and Angia Riverside luxurious apartment projects, supplying over 2,000 apartments to the market, said Mr. Nguyen Ba Sang, CEO of An Gia Investment.

According to Mr. Nguyen Van Dat, CEO of PDR, Thu Thiem 4 Bridge will be an important driver for the development of Ho Chi Minh City’s real estate market this year.

Hanoi Redtour introduces new northern trips

Hanoi Redtour is now providing three new tours to the north-east and north-west regions of Vietnam: Hoang Bay Temple – Sapa – Thuong Temple – Lao Cai Temple; the Hung King’s Temple – Tuyen Quang province – Dong Van Karst Plateau Geopark; and Ba Be Lake – Pac Ngoi Village – Ban Gioc Waterfall – Phat Tich Pagoda – Nguom Ngao Cave – Pac Bo Cave.

The tours will meet demand for spiritual travel to temples and pagodas at the beginning of the Lunar New Year.

Established in 1996, Hanoi Redtour provides ticketing, accommodation, visa services, and outbound and inbound travel services. Its connecting tours from Vietnam to Myanmar, China, Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand offer a “one-stop shop” for travelers to arrange trips throughout Southeast Asia.

The leading travel company in Indochina, Hanoi Redtour has received such awards as “The Best Group Agent” in 2009 from Hong Kong Airlines, “The Best Services” in 2004 and 2011 as voted by readers of the Saigon Marketing newspaper, “Top Sales Agent” in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011 from Vietnam Airlines, “Top 3 Sales Agent with Highest Revenue” in 2014 from Vietnam Airlines, and “Top 3 Agent Selling Incentive Tours” from the Korea Tourism Organization.

Tra fish breeders stricken with price plunge in Mekong Delta

Tra fish prices have plunged causing heavy losses to breeders in the Mekong Delta for the last couple of days, said An Giang Seafood Farming and Processing Association on Sunday.

Oversized type weighing 1.2-1.5 kilogram a fish has been paid only VND17,400-18,000 a kilogram, resulting in farmers’ loss of VND4,000-5,000. With such a low price, they have still been unsalable.

Meantime the price of fish weighing 0.8-1 kilogram has slightly increased from VND19,000 in February to VND20,000 now. However breeders undergo a loss of VND2,000 a kilogram.

Businesses said that export difficulties and demand reduction from EU market have resulted in price drop and slow consumption.

The years-long price fall has caused heavy losses and many households stop breeding and transfer into farming other fish, lamented breeder Chuong Van Khanh in Can Tho.

It is forecast that a severe supply shortage will occur in the third and fourth quarters this year. Production recovery will be difficult because breeders have run out of capital and incurred debts.

In related news, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has updated the list of companies from four nations including Vietnam, China, Myanmar and Thailand who are eligible to export to US market under the country’s inspection program for Siluriformes fish, reported the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers.

Vietnam has 23 plants entitled to export to the US, China has 19, Myanmar 13 and Thailand 7 plants.

According to the inspection program, supervision to all Siluriformes fish products including Vietnamese tra fish comes within the jurisdiction of the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) instead of the Food and Drug Administration as before.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development expects to be worked with USDA to organize an international seminar on the program in HCMC by next month.

Hanoi builds 19 industrial parks

Hanoi has been implementing construction of 19 out of 33 industrial and hi tech parks under the socioeconomic development plan by 2020 with visions until 2030, according to the management board of industrial parks and export processing zones in Hanoi.

The 19 industrial parks cover over 4,100 hectares. Of these, eight have come into operation with occupancy rate reaching 95 percent of industrial land area.

Industrial parks in Hanoi have lured 611 projects, including 319 FDI projects with the total registered capital of US$5 billion. 292 domestic projects has the total registered capital of VND11,776 billion.

When buying high and selling low makes sense

Even though the Vinalines and Vinashin cases have ended and the guilty sentenced, the scandal continues to play out.

In 2007, former Chairman of Vinalines Duong Chi Dung spent USD9m on buying a floating dock which had been removed from active service by the Russian Maritime Register of Shipping. About USD5.1m was spent on repairing the dock but it remained unfit for use.

In February, Vinalines proposed to sell the dock to recoup some of the losses. However, due to it deteriorating condition and low steel prices, the dock now only worth USD1.6m. Vinalines suggested holding an auction to sell the dock as soon as possible.

There are many sayings about buying high and selling low being the description of unskilled or unlucky businesspeople. While the original purchase may have looked foolish on the surface, it can be argued it was a wise calculation because the buyers were able to embezzle state money due to the unrealistically high high price for the obsolete dock.

At the hearing for Duong Chi Dung, it was disclosed that the dock’s real price at that time was only USD2m. If Dung had bought the dock at that price then even with USD2.4m of repairing and maintenance fees added to the sum, the losses would not have been too unbearable. But instead Dung wrote off USD9m just to buy the dock.

Even though Dung and his accomplices caused huge losses to the state budget, they have failed to provide anywhere near adequate compensation. Dung and his accomplices were asked to return nearly VND359bn (USD17.1m). The court also decided to seize Dung’s three houses in Hanoi and former General Director Mai Van Phuc’s house in Quang Ninh.

However, as of last August, only VND13.4bn have been repaid, of which Dung paid VND5.2bn, Phuc paid VND3.9bn, Tran Huu Chieu, former deputy general director of Vinalines, paid VND340m and Tran Hai Son, former director of Vinalines, paid VND4bn. This is well short of the figures involved and their assets will not cover the debt.

In 2012, the former Vinashin executive was blamed for losses of more than USD43 million, most of which came from the illegal procurement of an Italian-made high-speed passenger vessel and two electric generators. Former chairman Pham Thanh Binh was asked to repay USD23.8m and pay USD31,000 court fee but he said flat out that he did not have the money.

Based on these kinds of issues and the way in which state agencies work, it’s no wonder that the country has incurred rising bad debts.

Hopefully cases such as those involving Vinalines and Vinashin will never happen again.

Finance Ministry says no to Vinaxuki’s debt transfer

The Ministry of Finance said it could not approve a request of Xuan Kien Automobile Joint Stock Company (Vinaxuki) to transfer its high-interest loans from two commercial banks to the State-run Vietnam Development Bank (VDB).

Vinaxuki has recently asked the Government and the ministry for help to proceed with the debt transfer to VDB.

Vinaxuki specializes in making light trucks and four-seat cars with engine capacity of less than 1,300cc, with the ratio of local content in light trucks reaching 50%.

The local company has borrowed a total of VND630 billion (US$28 million) from the Bank for Foreign Trade of Vietnam (Vietcombank) and the Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam (BIDV). Due to the high interest rates in 2010 and business woes, the firm has not been able to repay the due loans while lender banks have suspended lending to it, leading its manufacturing facilities to be indefinitely shut down.

Vinaxuki chairman Bui Ngoc Huyen has proposed the Ministry of Finance allow it to transfer its debt from Vietcombank and BIDV to VDB for a period of eight years so that it could enjoy lower interest to restructure the debt. In exchange, the company would transfer automotive part production technology to small local businesses at low cost for joint development. He also suggested that the Government reduce the special consumption tax and tax calculation price for four-seat cars with less-than-1,300cc engines from 45% to 25% and for seven-seat autos from 45% to 15%.

The ministry replied that it would not intervene in the debt transfer between banks and said Vinaxuki should contact VDB and Vietnam Asset Management Company (VAMC) if it is to solve its problem.

Fuel prices steady despite higher import cost

Authorities have decided to keep fuel retail prices unchanged though import prices in the 15 days to March 3 had inched up but allow wholesalers to use the national fuel price stabilization fund to offset the gap between retail and base prices.

Fuel traders can get VND370 from the fund for every liter of gasoline sold, VND983 for diesel, up by VND444 per liter, and VND995 for kerosene, up VND406 per liter.

From February 18 to March 3, the price of A92 gasoline edged up US$42.31 a barrel, diesel up US$40.32 per barrel, and kerosene up US$42.61 per barrel.

The use of the price stabilization fund started from 3 p.m. last Friday. A92 gasoline, diesel and kerosene remain at VND13,750 per liter, VND9,580 per liter, and VND8,900 per liter.

Unbaked brick makers make profit

Manufacturers of unbaked bricks can obtain profit as the price of the product has increased significantly on the domestic market due to an undersupply.

Tran Trung Nghia, general director of Trung Hau Machinery and New Material Production Joint Stock Company, said unbaked bricks sell for VND1,100-1,300 apiece. Such bricks are made from coal ashes discharged by thermal power plants, cement and some other materials.

Nghia said the production cost of unbaked bricks is only half the selling price and

20% lower than that of baked bricks. Producers of those environmentally-friendly bricks can recover investment capital in one or two years.

About 25 factories nationwide have a combined annual capacity of 250 million bricks. The brick factory using coal ashes from the thermal power station in Tan Rai bauxite exploitation and alumina production complex can make 10 million products per year. Its investor is Vietnam National Coal and Mineral Industries Group (Vinacomin).

On average, a 600-MW coal-fired power plant discharges a volume of ashes sufficient for production of one billion unbaked bricks. Therefore, many investors have expressed interest in building unbaked brick factories near thermal power plants.

For instance, 12 investors are seeking to build factories to manufacture unbaked bricks from coal ashes discharged by Vinh Tan thermal power plant in the central province of Binh Thuan.

Each year, 18 operational coal-fired power plants nationwide need nearly 50 million tons of coal and discharge millions of tons of ashes.

Apart from supplying machines for 25 unbaked brick plants in Vietnam, Trung Hau will invest in unbaked brick factories, Nghia said.

He added in late January the Ministry of Science and Technology awarded the company a 20-year patent for unbaked bricks.

The Ministry of Construction’s Circular 09/2012/TT-BXD requires construction projects funded by the State budget in third-grade cities to use 100% unbaked building materials from 2013. The percentage for buildings of nine stories or higher is at least 50% and is applied after 2015.

Over 13.8 million Cholimex shares find buyers at IPO

Cho Lon Investment and Import-Export Company Limited (Cholimex) sold over 13.8 million shares at an initial public offering (IPO) auction on the Hochiminh Stock Exchange last Friday, equivalent to around 64% of the total put up for sale.

The shares were acquired by 194 individual and five institutional investors, with the average winning bid standing at VND10,000 per share. Cholimex fetched over VND138 billion from the share sale.

The HCMC-based enterprise will hold another auction for strategic investors with the price no lower than the average winning bid of VND10,000 per share at auction last week. Investors can submit their bids for Cholimex shares and place deposits from March 7 to 11.

The State-owned company in January announced its equitization plan with 50% of its shares going to investors. A 24.9% stake, or around 21.6 million shares, was offered at auction last Friday and another 21.6 million shares will be auctioned to strategic investors.

To become strategic investors, businesses must have at least five years in operation and equity of at least VND700 billion, and have been profitable since 2010.

They should be experienced and strong in sectors such as food processing, industrial park (IP) infrastructure development and real estate, and should not transfer Cholimex shares within five years.

The State will hold a 49% stake, equivalent to 42.43 million shares, after the firm goes public and its chartered capital will exceed VND866 billion, equivalent to over 86.6 million shares.

Huynh Van Nau, a board member of Cholimex, said after equitization  the company will concentrate on its core operations such as distribution (including storage services) and processing of food like soy and chili sauce. Cholimex will partner with foreign shareholders to diversify its products to gain a bigger domestic market share and boost exports.

Cholimex has three financially-dependent firms, one subsidiary and eight affiliates. The firm is active in food and foodstuff production, processing and distribution; agricultural and seafood export, and IP infrastructure development.

According to a corporate valuation announced on January 29, Cholimex’s total assets had amounted to VND807 billion by end-2014, with fixed assets nearing VND49 billion, intangible assets VND26.7 billion and realty investment VND5 billion. The firm has invested over VND752 billion in its subsidiaries and affiliates.

The parent company of Cholimex reported over VND300.8 billion in revenue last year, down 11% from a year earlier. Of the amount, over VND215 billion came from distribution and some VND46 billion from export and domestic sales.

Overall, Cholimex’s 2015 pre-tax profit grew a staggering 30% versus 2014 to VND24.7 billion.

Hanoi leads in attracting foreign direct investment

Hanoi attracted the most foreign direct investment in the first two months of 2016: US$250 million, 13% of Vietnam’s total. The figure is the result of the city’s efforts to simplify administrative procedures and improve its investment environment.

FDI projects are mainly in real estate (46%) manufacturing and processing in industrial parks, trade, and services. An increasing number of Japanese and Korean businesses are investing in trade and services.

Nguyen Anh Dung of the municipal Department of Planning and Investment said “Hanoi authorities have been focusing on administrative reform and improving the investment environment to facilitate business operations. The results in the first two months of 2016 follow Hanoi’s previous achievements in investment attraction.”

Dung said the city should work hard to maintain its momentum in attracting foreign investment. The People’s Committee, the Department of Planning and Investment, and other agencies have begun to streamline administrative procedures for investors.

“We’ve proposed reducing 10%-30% the time required for administrative procedures and making a list of projects calling for investment. We are reviewing a number of investment areas for licensing,” he added.

Hanoi has consistently been among the localities attracting the most foreign direct investment over the last 10 years. It ranked 3rd in the first 9 months of 2015 after Bac Ninh and HCM city.

Vietnam finds it crucial to build national rice brand

For many years, Vietnam has proven to be as one of the world’s leading rice exporters but profits remain low because product branding has not been developed and quality has been unreliable.

This issue topped the agenda of a recent conference held by the Ministry of Industry and Trade to find a way to improve rice exports this year.  

Last year Vietnam exported 6.6 million tons of rice worth more than US$2.8 billion in revenue, up 4% in quantity but down 4.5% in export value.

Vietnam’s rice exports in 2016 are forecast to decline due to El Nino causing prolonged drought and saltwater intrusion. The lack of water for irrigation has increased epidemic diseases and reduced the quality of Vietnamese rice and its competitiveness against rice from other countries in the region.

Realizing the risk of strong dependence on certain markets, local rice exporters have tried to expand to new markets in Europe, the US, Japan, and the Republic of Korea. But these are demanding markets and only 27% of Vietnam’s exported rice is high quality.

Tran Tuan Anh, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade, underscored quality, branding, and trade promotion as keys to increasing the value of Vietnamese rice.

“Vietnamese exporters need more help from the State, especially the Food Association in developing markets. This is a requirement set by the Ministry of Industry and Trade in renovating ways to promote trade for farm produce like rice to match each market,” he said.

To date Vietnamese rice exporters have signed contracts to export more than 1 million tons. Although it is a positive signal, the current situation still forces Vietnamese rice trading companies to keep China as its major export market.

Meanwhile, in order to boost exports to high-end markets Vietnam should actively invest in improving rice varieties, developing more large-scale fields, building trademarks, and expanding trade promotion programs.

Huynh The Nang, chairman of the Vietnam Food Association (VFA), said, “We’ve defined the development of value chains in line with the improvement rice quality and brand building. A specific plan will be completed in the first quarter.”

Domestic rice exporters hope that trade counselors will provide them more market information and that the Ministry of Trade and Industry will help farmers and enterprises in accessing to processing industry and investing in laboratories of international standards in the Mekong Delta.

According to Nguyen Trung Kien, President of the Gentraco Corporation, “The VFA and trade counselors should continue to support businesses with information on quality management, food safety, and plant quarantine, the TPP roadmap for rice products, tariff policy, commercial disputes, and technical barriers.”

The VFA and rice exporters all agree that to improve the rice value and be able to sell for demanding markets, there’s no other way to step up the brand building for Vietnamese rice.

Which companies are the best places to work in Vietnam?

Foreign companies continued to dominate the list of best employers in Vietnam, but more local firms successfully improved their workplace environment last year, a new survey found.

The 2015 “Best Places to Work” survey, conducted by solution firm Anphabe, named 22 local employers in the top 100, compared to 17 the previous year. They included Bao Viet Insurance, FPT, Hoa Binh Corp, Masan, Viettel and Vingroup.

But foreign companies took most of the top position, including the coveted number one spot for Unilever. It is followed by well-known companies such as Prudential, Nike, Abbott, Bosch and Mercedes-Benz.

The third annual survey polled 22,688 experienced employees in hundreds of leading enterprises.

It found an increasing trend among talents in favoring healthy work-life balance rather than a high salary.

“Employees nowadays are more demanding and they no longer focus only on high income,” said Thanh Nguyen, Anphabe CEO.

Some of the most popular objectives are achieving work-life balance, contributing to meaningful purposes and moving up the corporate ladder.

“Although income still plays an important role, it is in a less demanding trend, which also leads to a significantly higher satisfaction level compared to last year,” Anphabe said in a release.

Meanwhile, expectations of Vietnamese professionals towards employers included total rewards, leadership, company reputation and culture and value, the survey found.

The turnover rate was about 9%, with men in managing position more likely to quit their jobs. The rate was particularly high in the sectors of manufacturing/chemicals, fast moving consumer goods and service/consulting/legal.

Italian luxury products to appear on Vietnamese market

Numerous Italian enterprises have plans to expand their luxury product distribution networks to Vietnam by co-operating with Vietnamese distributors.

The Italian Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam (ICham) recently organised a business-to-business (B2B) meeting between Vietnamese distributors and representatives of eight Italian enterprises from Veneto city. The Italian guests  operate in manufacturing interior furniture, processing machinery, equipment and materials for the construction industry and the textile and garment sector.

“Veneto is one of Italt’s six economic regions. These enterprises are strong in manufacturing luxury furniture and high-tech machinery for the textile and garment as well as fruit and vegetable processing industry. They want to expand their distribution channels to Vietnam because they see potential in this emerging market,” said Pham Hoang Hai, executive director of ICham.  

“Consuming of Italian luxury products in its traditional markets is decreasing, thus Italian enterprises are looking for new opportunities and potential markets. Vietnam is considered a good destination because Italian enterprises can meet the ever-increasing Vietnamese demand for high-end products in the wake of a burgeoning middle class. We believe that by co-operating with local enterprises, we can develop our business in this potential market,” said Valeria Sotera, export manager of Modenese Lastone.

 “We are looking for distributors to open showrooms for our products. It is our second time looking for partners in Vietnam. This time, we have found two potential partners in Ho Chi Minh City, EURASIA Concept Corporation and CDC Home Design Centre,” she added.

Sotera shared that foreign enterprises in general and Italian enterprises in particular would face difficulties with the language. Besides, almost all Italian enterprises are small-to-medium sized, making it difficult to directly invest in Vietnam. Such companies prefer exporting their products through distributors to establishing long-term presence in the country.

Alongside the barriers in language and capital, Italian enterprises proposed the Vietnamese government to clarify its legal system, claiming that its complexity and lack of transparency obscures the benefits and obligations of investment.  

Besides, the Vietnamese government should closely control implementing legislation on intellectual property in order to protect foreign enterprises in general and Italian enterprises in particular.

“We want to apply Italian  technology at our new processing factory because Italy is one of the world’s leading suppliers of fruit and vegetable processing machines. Although Italian machines cost significantly more than machinery from other countries, including Korea, China, and the Netherlands, the quality of these machines make it a worthwhile investment,” said Nguyen Phuong Dung, director of Thanh Phuong Company Limited, operating in fruit and vegetable processing for export.

Petrolimex to sell more shares to increase capital: gov’t

Petrolimex, a state-controlled company that sells more than half of Vietnam’s oil products, plans to sell more shares to increase its registered capital by over 26% to VND13.5 trillion (US$596.84 million).

The share issue has been approved by the Ministry of Industry and Trade and Deputy Prime Minister Vu Van Ninh, the government website reported on March 10.

It will reduce state ownership of the company to less than 75% from around 95% now.

In a statement it released this week, the company said it would sell shares to a Japanese investor in the second quarter without divulging further details.

At the end of last month Petrolimex reportedly struck a deal to sell 10% to Japan’s JX Nippon Oil and Energy for 20 billion yen (US$117 million).

Petrolimex, which has 70 subsidiaries, mainly in the energy sector, posted a post-tax profit of over VND3.1 trillion (US$7.05 million) last year after making a loss of around VND9 billion (US$397,800) in 2014.


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