BUSINESS IN BRIEF 28/4

Deputy PM discusses bad debt settlement with VAMC

Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue and the Vietnam Asset Management Company (VAMC) discussed the settlement of bad debts during a working session in Hanoi on April 27.

Chairman of the VAMC board of directors Nguyen Quoc Hung said the VAMC has purchased more than 24,500 debts worth over 244 trillion VND (11 billion USD).

The VAMC has worked closely with the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) to build a legal corridor for debt trading, he said, adding that it has also classified purchased bad debts, to adopt appropriate solutions.

Hue admitted that VAMC still meets difficulties involving mechanisms, legal regulations and management.

The Deputy PM said he requested the SBV review the three-year implementation of the Prime Minister’s decision on bad debt settlement among credit organisations, thereby devising a similar scheme for 2016-2020 in which those regarding legal regulations, market development and VAMC’s improved efficiency must be specified.

Relevant ministries must closely liaise with the banking sector during the process, he stated.

Forum focuses on business support solutions

The Investment and Trade Promotion Forum 2016 themed “TPP Agreement: Business support solutions,” was held in Ho Chi Minh City on April 27.

At the event, which was organised by the HCM City Union of Business Associations (HUBA), participants discussed solutions to help small and medium-sized enterprises enter into the markets which have free trade agreements (FTA) with Vietnam.

HUBA’s president Huynh Van Minh said Vietnam considers the private sector an important driving force of development and the country has actively taken measures to boost the equitisation of state owned enterprises (SOEs).

The Government has implemented policy to help enterprises improve competitiveness, he said, adding that ministries and relevant agencies are focusing on administrative reforms with the aim of creating favourable conditions for businesses.

According to Minh, the Government should further encourage enterprises operating in supporting industries through low interest rate loans, and development of national-level science and technology research institutes.

In accordance with the principle of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, import tariffs will be reduced to zero and Vietnamese businesses have a chance to participate in the TPP’s new supply chain, said La Thi Lan, general director of Tien Loc Co.,Ltd.

She said enterprises should boost cooperate in order to raise their competitiveness due to the fact that weak businesses will face difficulties in competition and market expansion.

Experts suggested top priority be given on products’ quality, meeting FTA’s requirements.

Affordable green buildings gain favour

Applying green initiatives to the segment of low- and medium-price property will create sustainable communities in line with development goals set by the Ministry of Construction, said Deputy Minster Do Duc Duy.

He made the statement during a workshop on the issue, which took place in Hanoi on April 27.

Duy said he noticed environmentally friendly designs that save energy and use smart technologies are mostly used in the high-end segment.

The largest part of the population, however, reside in affordable housing, thus consuming much higher amount of energy, he added.

According to Vu Thi Kim Thoa from the USAID Vietnam Clean Energy Programme, green architecture is capable of saving up to 50 percent on energy use compared to traditional designs, without pushing up costs.

Dang Thanh Long from the Vietnam Green Building Council (VGBC) said the VGBC’s rating tools (LOTUS) are popular in the country, as they were specially developed to match the local environment.

He pointed to an example of some LOTUS-labelled construction in response to flooding, which is common in Vietnam.

Attending Dannish experts said green building became compulsory in their country in the 1960s. Denmark is striving to reduce energy consumption of local buildings to zero percent by 2020.

Vietnam is ranked seventh among global countries damaged by climate change.

Some experts said green building is less likely to be selected for the segment of low- and medium-price property due to the profit factor and low social responsibility of Vietnamese developers.

Australia considers dragon fruit imports from Vietnam

Australia considers dragon fruit imports from Vietnam, Viglacera to increase charter capital to $137m this year, Viettel Global earns $58 million profit from overseas markets, Kim Long Securities to close doors

Dragon fruit in Thanh Tan commune, Tan Phuoc district

Australia has officially commenced a review to import fresh dragon fruit from Vietnam into its market.

According to a press release published by the Australian Embassy in Vietnam on April 27, fresh dragon fruit is one of the agricultural products given top priority to access Australia.

Earlier, the country completed its preliminary evaluation of pests and diseases on the fruit through cooperation between the two Governments, it said.

In the coming months, the two sides will join hands to identify risks, with the participation of Australian experts, in judging dragon fruit production and export processes. A draft report outlining the risks will be announced in the end of this year for stakeholders’ consultations.

The Australian Embassy in Vietnam also said that the country is promoting the review process for shipments of other fresh fruit from Vietnam.

Last year, some 28 tonnes of Vietnamese fresh lychees were sold in the Australian market. The first batch arrived in the country in May, 2015.

Australia also accomplished risk evaluation for Vietnamese mangos last November.

Vietjet Air ramps up flights during holidays

The low-cost carrier Vietjet Air will launch an additional 140 flights on both domestic and international routes from April 28-May 4 to meet increasing travel demands during the upcoming holidays, including National Reunification Day and International Labour Day.

Accordingly, the carrier will operate 246 flights every day over the holiday period, rising 66 percent from the same period last year.

Extra seats will be available on four return flights on the HCM City-Da Nang route, two on HCM City-Phu Quoc island route, two between Hanoi-Phu Quoc island and two between Hanoi-Da Nang.

There will also be additional flights on routes connecting HCM City to Hanoi, Hue, Vinh, Hai Phong and Thanh Hoa. Flight frequencies will also be increased on the Hanoi-Cam Ranh and Hanoi-Da Lat routes.

Detailed information can be found at www.vietjetair.com and compatible with smart phones at https://m.vietjetair.com , www.facebook.com/vietjetvietnam or via 19001886.

Owning a modern fleet of aircraft, with a friendly and professional crew as well as top-quality services, Vietjet Air has brought customers fascinating flying experiences together with special airfares and a line-up of gifts during daily golden hour.

Vietjet is the first airline in Vietnam to operate as a new-generation airline with low-cost and diversified services to meet customers’ demands. It provides not only transport services but also uses the latest e-commerce technologies to offer various products and services for consumers.

In addition to the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) certificate for operational safety audit (IOSA), the carrier won the “Best Asian Low-Cost Carrier” title at the TTG Travel Awards.

Last year, Vietjet also entered the top three fastest growing Facebook airline brands in the world as rated by analysis website Social backers.

Currently, the carrier, with a fleet of 35 A320 and A321 airplanes, is operating nearly 250 flights a day on 47 domestic and international routes, including those to Singapore, the Republic of Korea, Taiwan, China, Thailand and Myanmar.

The carrier is planning to increase its presence in the Asian-Pacific market to serve the demands of customers. It has signed agreements with prestigious aircraft manufacturers to purchase additional new-generation planes.

Vinh Phuc accelerates land clearance for industrial park

Sectors and local authorities in the northern province of Vinh Phuc will take strong measures to quicken land clearance for a Japanese-invested industrial park (IP), said Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Nguyen Van Tri.

During a working session on April 27 with representatives from Japan’s Sumitomo Group – the project’s investor, the province’s leader committed to completing the work before the slated schedule that was agreed previously.

According to Tri, as many as 98.5 hectares within the project have been cleared and the locality plans to have a further 95 hectares cleared in May. The remaining land clearance and other works will be also completed as soon as possible.

Yasushi Fukuda, Managing Director of the group’s business, supply and transportation and insurance division said construction of the project will be further accelerated in order to meet the increasing demand of Japanese investors who registered to operate in the IP.

He said he hopes the local authorities will soon fulfil a road to the park and continue supporting his firm in implementing the project.

In October last year, the provincial People’s Committee granted an investment certificate to Sumitomo to build infrastructure for the Thang Long IP, which aims to serve Japanese investors.

Once completed, the IP is expected to draw 79 investment projects worth about 1.5 billion USD from Japan, generating jobs for around 25,000 workers.

Viglacera to increase charter capital to $137m this year

State-owned Viglacera Corporation approved a plan to raise its charter capital to VND3.07 trillion (US$137.4 million) from VND2.64 trillion at the annual meeting on April 26.

In addition, the ceramic building material producer will decrease State-owned capital from 91.5 to 75 per cent, as approved by the Ministry of Construction in 2014, as well as register trade or list shares on the stock market by the last quarter of 2016.

In 2015, the company started trading its 264.5 million shares in the unlisted public company market on the Ha Noi Stock Exchange (HNX) with a preference price of VND10,600 each.

In 2014, Viglacera sold nearly 19.5 million shares at an initial public offering (IPO) on HNX. The company earned more than VND200 billion from the IPO.

Viglacera’s profit before tax in 2015 reached VND524.275 billion, 80 per cent higher than its target, and revenue in 2015 was VND8 trillion.

As of December 31, 2015, Viglacera’s total assets reached VND8.77 trillion, 10 per cent lower than the beginning of last year.

Chairman of the company’s member board Luyen Cong Minh said at the company’s annual meeting that the company this year will focus on investing in high-tech and environmental projects such as energy-saving glasses and clinker bricks.

The corporation is targeting revenue and pre-tax profits of VND8.2 trillion and VND560 billion this year, respectively.

BFC to expand to ASEAN market

Binh Dien Fertilizer Joint Stock Company (BFC) planned to pay a 30 per cent dividend in cash for 2015 and would enter the regional markets of Cambodia, Myanmar and Thailand this year, said the firm at its general shareholder’s meeting in HCM City on April 27.

The firm reported that it earned VND6.1 trillion (US$273 million) in revenue and VND203 billion profit after tax in 2015, adding that its sales and profits saw some reduction due to less consumption by central highland farmers under the impact of a prolonged drought and lower coffee prices.

This year the firm planned to produce more than 650,000 tonnes of fertilizer, up 17 per cent compared to 2015. It also scheduled a revenue of VNĐ6.6 trillion and a before tax profit of VNĐ369 billion, as much as a year-on-year increase of 9 per cent and 5 per cent, respectively. BFC leaders told shareholders that if they met the plan, they would pay another 20 per cent dividend in 2016.

Also at the meeting, Binh Điền Fertiliser announced an issuing of 9.5 million bonus shares at the ratio of 5:1 for existing shareholders in 2016. After issuance, the total shares of BFC would reach 57 million, with a charter capital of VND570 billion.

In order to better serve the export and import of the products, the firm said it would accelerate the construction of a 3,000 tonne port in Long An Province where they transfer goods via a local river.

Binh Dien Fertiliser said after some introduction campaigns, its fertilizer brand Buffalo Head had gained a lot of trust from farmers in Cambodia and Myanmar, adding that sales in the two countries kept increasing.

BFC, one of the country’s leading fertiliser producers, canceled a fertilizer plant in Dong Nai Province due to local difficulties with infrastructure. Instead it would research and invest in a fertilizer factory in Myanmar to dominate the new market, said the director of the board.

The fertilizer firm also planned to make gains in Thailand’s market with special products that were developed to serve specific plantations. According to the firm, with its strong agricultural production, Thailand was a big market for three-component fertilizers that provided nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (NPK fertilizer) products. However the local fertilizer products in Thailand were mostly generic for all plantation types, and were less effective than BFC products that are developed for specific types of plantations. Thus, the firm said the Thai market was a good destination for development.

Based in HCM City since 1973, the firm engages in the manufacture and trade of fertilizer, cattle-feed and aqua-products. It also produces, processes and packages insecticides. It is among the largest fertilizer firms in the country, serving 30 per cent of the nationwide NPK fertilizer demand.

With one plant in Long An, and four subsidiaries in other provinces, BFC has the capacity to produce over one million tonnes of fertilizer each year. Its distribution system of 200 wholesale points and over 2,500 retail points also included Laos, Cambodia and Thailand.

On April 27, BFC shares ended at VNĐ30,900 each on the HCM City Stock Exchange.

AVG changes name and logo

An Vien – MobiFone Television on Tuesday officially changed its name and logo.

According to the company’s website, the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) approved Audio Visual Global (AVG)’s new name and logo for MobiTV, replacing the name An Vien.

AVG said the change won’t alter its policies and services.

Earlier this year, MobiFone announced the acquisition of AVG to prepare for its focus on mobile, TV, retail sales and media.

Mobifone said the two sides will co-operate to maximise resources and create a new product for the television market and mobile telecommunications.

AVG entered the pay-TV market in 2011, and offers both terrestrial television and satellite digital television services. It has eight channels and more than 700,000 subscribers.

Statistics from the ministry show that total revenue of the pay-TV market reached more than VND9.6 trillion (US$430.9 million). It has about 9,500 employees and 9.9 million subscribers.

Agro-forestry-fisheries export turnover in April estimated at US$2.97 billion

This brings the figure for the first four months of this year to over $10 billion, up 11 per cent against the same period last year.

In the first four months of 2016, Viet Nam shipped 2.06 million tonnes of rice abroad and raked in $916 million, up 11.8 per cent in volume and 13.8 per cent in value.

Meanwhile, the shipping of 91,000 tonnes of cashew nuts brought home $689 million, an increase of 14.6 per cent in volume and 7.1 per cent in value.

The average export price of coffee dropped 18.3 per cent year-on-year. However, the export value of coffee in the period rose 18.2 per cent to reach $1.16 billion after the coffee export volume recorded a sharp increase of 44.6 per cent to reach 681,000 tonnes.

Germany and the United States remained the biggest coffee importers for Viet Nam.

Pepper exporters earned $569 million from shipping 70,000 tonnes of the product abroad, up 28.3 per cent in terms of volume but down 14.6 per cent in value.

The country also shipped 318,000 tonnes of rubber abroad and earned $376 million, up 29 per cent in volume and 6.6 per cent in value.

In stark contrast, the volume of cassava exports decreased by 8 per cent to 1.76 million tonnes, compared with the same period in 2015. Revenue was down 23 per cent to $447 million.

Tea exports saw a decline of 3 per cent in volume to reach 32,000 tonnes, generating $47 million, down 12.2 per cent. Exports of key forestry products reached $2.25 billion, a yearly rise of 4.3 per cent.

The value of aquatic exports for the first four months was calculated at nearly $1.97 billion, a rise of 6.3 per cent from the same period last year. The United States, Japan, China and the Republic of Korea remained Viet Nam’s largest seafood consumption markets, accounting for 51.47 per cent of the market share.

Vietnam’s green produce has real chance in US

Vietnam has increasingly seen U.S. demand for its agricultural products rise, and has the chance to penetrate this market thanks to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has said.

Among the Vietnamese green produce, mangoes have emerges as the fruit to win over American consumers, Vilsack told reporters in Ho Chi Minh City on April 26, after touring an outlet of Vietnam’s leading supermarket chain Co.op Mart.

Mango is not grown in the US so Vietnamese businesses have an opportunity to sell this fruit to America, he explained.

The agriculture secretary was on two-day visit to Vietnam to discuss the details of the US-led TPP agreement with his Vietnamese counterparts from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, and the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack (L) is pictured during a visit to a supermarket in Ho Chi Minh City on April 26, 2016.

Vietnam, the US and ten other Pacific Rim countries signed the TPP on February 4 in Auckland, New Zealand, after seven years of negotiations that ended in October 2015.

The accord, which would liberalize trade in 40% of the world’s economy, has not yet come into force, pending ratification in each member country.

Once the TPP takes effect, the US is expected to drop up to 90% of the tax lines for Vietnamese goods, which Vilsack said will make Vietnam’s produce more competitive in the US market.

On the other hand, Vietnam will also reduce and eventually eliminate tariffs across a broad range of food and agricultural products, which will help put US exports on a level playing field and give the US a leg-up on non-TPP competitors.

Vietnam’s average tariff on US agricultural products is 16%, while the average US tariff is 5%, according to the US Department of Agriculture.

The Southeast Asian country remains one of the fastest-growing markets for US food and agricultural products, with US exports totaling US$2.3 billion in 2015, a massive 357% increase from 2007, when Vietnam joined the World Trade Organization (WTO), the department said in a press release on April 25.

It now ranks as the US’ 11th-largest agricultural export market, with top products including cotton, tree nuts, soybeans, and dairy.

Vietnam has so far managed to sell rambutan, longan, litchi and dragon fruits to the US, with local exporters lamenting the fact that the licensing process remains lengthy, complicated and costly.

Forum focuses on business support solutions

The Investment and Trade Promotion Forum 2016 themed “TPP Agreement: Business support solutions,” was held in Ho Chi Minh City on April 27.

At the event, which was organised by the HCM City Union of Business Associations (HUBA), participants discussed solutions to help small and medium-sized enterprises enter into the markets which have free trade agreements (FTA) with Vietnam.

HUBA’s president Huynh Van Minh said Vietnam considers the private sector an important driving force of development and the country has actively taken measures to boost the equitisation of state owned enterprises (SOEs).

The Government has implemented policy to help enterprises improve competitiveness, he said, adding that ministries and relevant agencies are focusing on administrative reforms with the aim of creating favourable conditions for businesses.

According to Minh, the Government should further encourage enterprises operating in supporting industries through low interest rate loans, and development of national-level science and technology research institutes.

In accordance with the principle of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, import tariffs will be reduced to zero and Vietnamese businesses have a chance to participate in the TPP’s new supply chain, said La Thi Lan, general director of Tien Loc Co.,Ltd.

She said enterprises should boost cooperate in order to raise their competitiveness due to the fact that weak businesses will face difficulties in competition and market expansion.

Experts suggested top priority be given on products’ quality, meeting FTA’s requirements.

Delegates propose changes to competition law

Delegates to a conference discussing competition law on April 27 in Ho Chi Minh City proposed measures to assist small and medium sized companies better compete with larger and more experienced foreign rivals entering the marketplace.

Huynh Van Minh, president of the HCM City Entrepreneurs Association, wants to encourage major Vietnamese companies, both private and state-owned, to do more business with domestic smaller companies.

“One way in which this could be accomplished is by requiring a certain level of purchases of goods and services by these larger companies be from smaller businesses,” Mr Minh told delegates at the conference.

“There are also goods and services that smaller companies cannot deliver, or they are of poor quality, which consequently put them at a disadvantage without more governmental support.”

Small and medium sized companies currently account for 40% of the nation’s GDP, said Mr Minh, and unless changes in the competition law are enacted this percentage is like to drop as more foreign competitors enter the market.

Mr Minh said the formation of the AEC and signing of other free trade agreements has brought about a heightened sense of the awareness of the need to support small business as they transition to a more competitive local marketplace.

“One of the most pressing areas where small and medium sized companies need support is with access to working capital bank loans and longer term loans to finance investment in improved technologies,” said La Thi Lan, director of Tien Loc Investment JSC.

VN firms join int’l seafood expo

Twenty-four Vietnamese enterprises are participating in the 2016 Global Seafood Expo in Brussels, Belgium, on April 26-28.

Hoping to increase seafood exports to the EU, the enterprises have brought famous Vietnamese products, including tra, basa fish and shrimp, to the event. Trần Văn Dũng, representative of the Việt Nam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), said Vietnamese seafood businesses have prepared equipment and processing technologies to further penetrate the European market once the EU-Vietnam free trade agreement (EVFTA) comes into effect.

Alexis Fergay, general director of French seafood company NEPTUNE, told Vietnam News Agency’s correspondent in Brussels that he was a loyal customer of Vietnamese seafood enterprises. He said he particularly enjoyed Việt tra and basa fish and was hoping to further expand his business partnership with Vietnamese enterprises, especially once the EVFTA was enforced.

Karakou Pheni, a customer from Côte d’Ivoire, said Vietnamese catfish was his favourite. He said the seafood dishes presented at the expo tasted wonderful and hoped he could buy these items at supermarkets in Belgium soon

The Vietnamese Trade Office in Belgium also organised a workshop on the EU’s seafood market and opportunities for Vietnamese enterprises during the event.

Nguyễn Ngọc Oai, deputy head of the Việt Nam Directorate of Fisheries, said Việt Nam had improved its legal framework and institutions for fishery management following the European Commission’s proposals.

According to statistics from VASEP, Việt Nam earned US$1.4 billion from seafood exports in the first quarter of 2016, a year-on-year rise of 9 per cent.

Together with the United States and Japan, the EU is an important importer of Vietnamese seafood, accounting for 18 per cent of the country’s total export volume.

Business MoU inked ahead of TPP

The HCM City Union of Business Associations  on April 27 signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with foreign business associations to support enterprises when the country becomes a member of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement.

The MoU was signed between the association and Hepza Business Association (HBA), the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Việt Nam and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Việt Nam.

Under the MoU, the signatories pledged to create the best conditions to support companies in HCM City so they can have more opportunities to co-operate with foreign companies and seek investment opportunities.

This decision was one of many steps that the union has taken in an effort to assist its 8,000 members in developing businesses in the future.

Currently, companies in Việt Nam in general and in HCM City in particular, especially small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), are facing challenges like poor knowledge about the TPP.

According to a survey conducted by the Việt Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), awareness of companies in HCM City was limited.

By the end of last year, 91 per cent of HCM City’s companies reportedly had a weak understanding of TPP. Of these, 20 per cent had never heard about the agreement. Forty-five per cent had heard about it, but did not understand it well, and 26 per cent had never studied the TPP.

Only 9 per cent of the companies had studied the agreement and knew its content well.

The survey results were seen as a wake-up call. Companies must carefully study the TPP, and if not, they will fail in the domestic market, the union warned.

After the signing, the union heard companies’ concerns about difficulties they are facing. The ideas will be collected and submitted to the Government, the union said.

The union also said that co-operation with other organisations and business associations would be enhanced to help their members more easily find credit sources and guarantee resolutions to their difficulties.

Kim Long Securities to close doors

The Kim Long Securities Corporation (KLS) has released a resolution from its shareholders meeting on the company ceasing its operations.

The reasons for doing so include ineffective operations in recent times, the pressure of the competitive environment presenting a greater risk to operations, strict regulations on finance companies affecting large, long-term investments, limitations on management by finance companies in invested companies, and the ineffective use of idle capital in the monetary market.

The decision was agreed to by 99.02 per cent of shareholders.

A leader from KLS was quoted as saying that the shareholders meeting heard that the falling oil price in 2015 saw the company incur losses and it therefore had to set huge provisions due to its investments in oil stocks.

KLS currently has significant holdings in GAS, PVD and PVS.

Shareholders will receive VND11,000 ($0.49) per share against the current trading price of VND9,800 ($0.43).

Viettel Global earns $58 million profit from overseas markets

Viettel Global, a subsidiary of Vietnam Military-run Telecommunications Group (Viettel), obtained the pre-tax profit of US$58 million from overseas investment last year, announced the group at a shareholder meeting on April 26.

According to the company’s financial reports in 2015, total revenues from international investment was up 9 percent over a year back to $1.4 billion, quadruple the average growth rate of the world’s telecom industry approximating 2.3 percent.

Total subscribers reached 16.5 million, up 27 percent and sextuple the world’s average rate.

Viettel Global has set a target to broaden its service to 1-2 new markets this year, increase the total number of customers by 8.35 million to reach 25 million, get the revenue of $1.5 billion in eight markets except Vietnam and Peru and gain the pretax profit of $51.4 million.

At the meeting, the company presented a project to hike its chartered capital to VND8 trillion (US$359 million) by offering shares for sales to the parent company–Viettel Group.

That moves towards the company’s policy of raising the chartered capital to VND10 trillion to meet its market broadening demand this year.

Binh Duong expands Bau Bang industrial park by 1,000ha

The Investment and Industrial Development Corporation (Becamex IDC) on April 27 officially held a ceremony to commence the building and development of Bau Bang Urban-Industrial Park in Binh Duong province, and announce the expansion of the park by 1,000 ha, raising the total area of the park to over 3,200 ha.

The Bau Bang Urban-Industrial Park includes 1,000ha of land for industrial projects, 1,200ha of land for developing urban areas and services, and the remaining 1,000ha for technical infrastructure development.

Notably, 95% of the 1,000ha of land for industrial projects has been filled by 95 domestic and foreign investors with a total registered capital of US$1.2 billion.

According to Becamex IDC General Director Nguyen Van Hung, the additional 1,000ha of land will serve the industrial and technical infrastructure development to attract more foreign investment amid the effectiveness of many trade agreements including the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Vietnam-EU Free Trade Agreement, and the Vietnam-Republic of Korea Free Trade Agreement, among others.

The expansion of the Bau Bang Urban-Industrial Park to 3,200ha is expected to increase the population of Bau Bang district to 200,000, meeting the increasing demand for human resources and urban services at the park.

Becamex IDC said it will develop the urban area at the Bau Bang park into a satellite urban area of Binh Duong including public facilities such as hospitals, schools, sports and culture facilities, social housing, public transport, a centralised administration area, and others.

At the ceremony, Becamex IDC signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with TPP Investment LLC on the establishment of a Vietnam-US industrial zone with an area of 200ha at the Bau Bang park to attract investors from the US and Asia.

Becamex IDC in partnership with DDK Vietnam also signed a MoU with six FDI enterprises to develop a specialised zone on bike and bike components on an area of 80ha.

On the occasion, the Binh Duong provincial People’s Committee granted investment certificates to four FDI enterprises investing in the Bau Bang park. 

Việt Nam, Australia discuss agricultural collaboration

Representatives of 10 Vietnamese universities and institutions in agriculture and forestry and their Australian counterparts discussed, yesterday and today, expertise and excellence in agribusiness, education and research in Hà Nội.

The Việt Nam-Australia Agribusiness Research and Innovation showcase, organised by the Australian government in partnership with Việt Nam’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, provided a platform for the two sides to exchange ideas on how to ensure food security and safety as well as develop sustainable value chains and management systems.

Hugh Borrowman, the Australian ambassador to Việt Nam said that agricultural co-operation between the two countries had been increasingly promoted. Australia pledged to support Việt Nam’s economic development in general and agriculture in particular towards 2020 by promoting the private sector and improving workers’ skills.

Long-term investment in Vietnamese agriculture had been made through the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), focusing on enhancing competency, developing sustainable value chains of Vietnamese exported farm produce, he said.

Focusing on what brings success to Vietnamese agriculture sector, Dr Trần Công Thắng, deputy head of Institute of Policy and Strategy for Agriculture and Rural Development, mentioned hard-working, smart, innovative farmers, investment from the government in terms of infrastructure, science and technology. In addition, domestic and foreign direct investment (FDI) enterprises, and the country’s integration into the global economy were also important contributing factors.

However, he pointed out challenges including slowing down of agricultural growth in the past five to six years, along with low labour productivity, small-scale farms which hinder increased application of science and technology, and impacts of environmental issues.

The representatives from the Australian universities shared similar opportunities and challenges that Australia had enjoyed and suffered with drought being a major cause of crop losses.

They said there was a need for smart agriculture strategies to address challenges through partnerships while highlighting the importance of bilateral co-operation in the sector.

According to the Australian embassy, Việt Nam is Australia’s sixth largest agricultural export market overall. In the context of Trans-Pacific Partnership signed by both countries, Việt Nam is an important partner to Australia in the ASEAN region.

Trade fair underway in Soc Trang

Some 120 enterprises nationwide are taking part in a trade fair that opened in the Mekong Delta city of Soc Trang on April 26, with the aim of matching goods suppliers to consumers in the region.

The event features 220 stalls showcasing furnishings, clothes, footwear, food, handicrafts and high-tech products, among other commodities.

It entails an exhibition of 120 photos on the Mekong Delta in terms of socio-economic growth, landscape and residents. A plant and animal exhibition is also taking place.

The fair runs through to May 2, serving local demand for shopping and entertainment during the upcoming national holiday, with musical concerts staged every night.

Vietnam will enjoy a four-day holiday from April 30 to May 3 in celebration of the 41st anniversary of the Southern liberation and national reunification (April 30), and the 130th International Labour Day (May 1).

House prices inch up in April

The home purchase prices inched up in April, particularly the cost of houses in Hanoi, according to the Department of Housing and Real Estate Market Management under the Ministry of Construction.

Hanoi saw a slight price increase of 3-5 percent in residential buildings in the districts of Ha Dong, Cau Giay, and Southern Tu Liem.

Meanwhile, the housing prices in Ho Chi Minh City remains stable for the month.

Both localities saw improvements in sales volume with a six percent increase and 1,250 successful transactions in Hanoi, and seven percent and 1,150 successful transactions in Ho Chi Minh City.

Positive signs were also witnessed in other localities, such as Da Nang, Khanh Hoa, Kien Giang and Binh Duong, particularly in hi-end projects and tourism facilities.

Bac Lieu cooks up plans for first-ever shrimp festival

A taste of the ocean will come to Bac Lieu City on June 24-26 as organizers cook up plans to hold the first-ever shrimp festival at the Cao Van Lau Theatre in the city’s downtown centre.

At a press conference on April 27, Nguyen Viet Thang, head of the organizing board, said the goal of the – VietShrimp International Fair –  is to promote the positive social and economic impact of the shrimp industry on the citizens of the region.

“We specifically want to educate the public about shrimp and its importance to the local economy and publicize the wide variety of seafood indigenous to Vietnam as well as provide the opportunity for people to enjoy it,” said Mr Thang.

Seafood offerings will include both wild-caught and farm-raised shrimp, along with plenty of traditional Vietnamese fish and seafood fare and beverages of all types – soft drinks, craft beer and wine as well as coffee and tea, said Mr Thang.

The event is expected to draw about 150 exhibitors and additionally showcase the work of Vietnamese photographers, displaying more than 100 select photos reflecting the working life of fishermen, said Mr Thang, who is also chairman of the Vietnam Fisheries Association

The gallery will be open throughout the three-day day event and there is no admission to view the exhibit, he said.

Le Anh Xuan, director of Truc Anh JSC, said the event also provides an excellent opportunity to boost tourism and recreation in Bac Lieu City and surrounding region as well as highlight the region’s inherent natural beauty.

“We want to get the word out that the VietShrimp International Fair is an all-Vietnamese family weekend of food and fun not to be missed, and festival planners hope to exceed expectations and hold a festival that is bigger, better and more fun than ever,” he said.

Local companies look to gain footholds in global markets

To further internationalize operations, many Vietnam local companies are planning to expand their outward foreign direct investment (FDI) in the years ahead, says the Foreign Investment Agency (FIA).

In 2015 they registered total FDI of US$625 million in 102 new business ventures and increased their supplementary investment significantly in another 53 that were already in existence as of the beginning of last year, said the FIA in a recently released report.

The FIA report says the companies in 2015 not only increased the scale of funds committed but “fanned out to new non-traditional markets in the US, Russia, Singapore and Germany.”

“However, the bulk of outward FDI for 2015 was in Laos and Cambodia, two markets where investment has historically been strong.”

They focussed investment on the mining, farming, forestry and aquaculture industries, areas they consider their strong points, says the FIA, while spreading out to other industries such as real estate, banking and insurance.

Phan Huu Thang, former head of FIA and current director of the Foreign Investment Research Centre, said the higher levels of investment, though modest is a step in the right direction.

Local companies have become more willing to invest overseas largely as a result of an amendment to the Law on Investment passed by the NA in 2014 that came into effect on July 1 of last year, said Mr Thang.

Mr Thang underscored the point that the amended law has created a clearer picture of the investment landscape saying it “substantially reduced the risks of investing overseas that previously existed.”

“The revised law along with a raft of free trade agreements have stimulated an eagerness on the part of many local companies to internationalize and bump up their overseas investment in business gambles heretofore considered too precarious.”

As it relates to investment strategy, Mr Thang said the lion’s share of outward FDI is flowing into Laos and Cambodia, more traditional markets local companies feel they have a good understanding of.

But we are seeing more activity in markets in Africa and in North America, Central America and South America along with the Caribbean, particularly with the Vietnam National Oil and Gas Group (PetroVietnam).

“Most recently PetroVietnam received a license to explore for oil and gas in Myanmar,” said Mr Thang, “which is a monumental development.”

Meanwhile, Viettel started to operate in Tanzania and Burundi in 2015, bringing the total number of foreign markets it is operating in to 10, said Mr Thang.  Viettel is actively pursuing expansion plans boasting it plans to be operating in 20 foreign countries by 2020.

Thang said only the oil, gas and telecom business endeavours have been substantive large scale FDI initiatives with most undertakings of local firms having been on a relatively small scale.

However, Tran Huu Huynh, chairman of the Vietnam International Arbitration Centre (VIAC), has a different take.  He said the important thing is that local companies have taken a step in the right direction.

Local companies are laying the foundation for future growth and getting toeholds in foreign markets, said Mr Huynh, which with some innovation and creativity along with experience operating in global markets will most likely quickly turn into footholds.

VITM launches its biggest online sales campaign ever

Vietnam International Travel Mart (VITM) has announced the launch of a new marketing campaign – the largest ever in the company’s history, reports the HanoiMoi online newspaper.

The benefits include programs that can be used for huge discounts on rooms, free Wi-Fi, and the ability to check-in, choose your own room from a digital floor plan and book your accommodation all from a mobile app on a smartphone.

Our customers don’t need to worry about sorting through a dizzying array of websites, enduring hundreds of clicks and wasting hours of time, to book their travel arrangement, said VITM, according to HanoiMoi.

Participating travel agencies include Vietravel, Saigontourists, Fiditour, Hanoitourist, APT Travel, Bluesky, Hanoi Redtours all offering great discounts of up to 30-50% off regular retail prices through third parties.

There is a huge misconception that third parties always offer lower prices for hotel rooms, which is simply not true, said VITM.

Customers can be assured that booking a room directly with us at any of the hotels we offer doesn’t require extensive searching and price checking to find the best prices online, said VITM, and booking direct provides a more personalized and memorable experiences for each stay.

These specials will be offered on accommodation in Vietnam, Singapore, Vientiane, Luang Prabang, Taiwan (China), Bangkok (Thailand, Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), and Yangon (Myanmar) from now through May 10.

PM names four key tasks for banking sector

The State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) on April 26 organized a ceremony to celebrate its 65th founding anniversary and receive Ho Chi Minh Order, the third of its kind.

At the event, PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc appraised achievements made by the banking system over the past 65 years and its key role in providing credits for the economy.

The central bank has made efforts and success in curbing inflation, monitoring the interest and exchange rates, stabilizing the macro-economy, maintaining the reasonable growth, restructuring, improving its operation and ensuring safety for the banking system.

The PM pointed to four key tasks for the banking sector in the future:

Firstly, complete the institution, enhance the management capacity and effectiveness, forecast foreign and domestic economic situations, flexibly monitor the monetary policy, coordinate the fiscal policy and other polices, control the inflation rate as planned, ensure the value of the VND, maintain the suitable interest rate, stabilize the foreign currency and increase foreign reserves.

Secondly, comprehensively restructure credit organizations along with drastically dealing with bad debt, increase the quality of credits, propose policies for restructuring, addressing bad debts and lending for socio-economic development as well as focus on accelerating the financial capacity, banking management, anti-corruption and preventing money laundering.

Thirdly, concentrate on administrative reform, reducing expenditures and organizing dialogues with businesses in a regular and practical manner to tackle obstacles and difficulties.

Fourthly, establish a high professional and capable banking staff to meet the national industrialization and modernization and broader international integration.

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

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