Printing industry calls for stronger policy support

The printing inudstry has told the Government to improve policies governing the industry so that it can reach its full potential.

They raised their voice at a workshop held yesterday by Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) and Viet Nam Printing Association (Vinaprint).

The chairman of Vinaprint, Nguyen Van Dong, said the Government should remove import permits and simplify business licensing procedures to help printers.

Dong proposed that the Ministry of Information and Communications, instead of the Ministry of Science and Technology, regulate terms for the use of imported machinery and equipment.

He said this meant printing companies would have to get approval from the information ministry to import second-hand machines and devices, Dong said.

The head of Gia Dinh Information Technology University, Nguyen Dang Liem, outlined several requirements to establish a printing company.

He suggested companies should be owned and represented by Vietnamese individuals or organisations.

Another requirement was at least a member of the board of directors was specialised in the printing profession, Liem added.

The chairman of HCM City Printing Association, Le Van Tron, said that many post-printing operations, including cutting, folding, assembling and binding, were done in private homes and were now managed by the authority.

This created a problem for those doing the work because householders were required to perform administrative procedures once carried out by printing companies.

Participants also showed concern about a policy that prevents domestic printing companies from co-operating with each other in processing end products.

The regulation was considered to limit companies' power in competing with foreign players.

PetroVietnam surpasses goal for 9-month revenue

Viet Nam National Oil and Gas Group (PetroVietnam) yesterday reported its revenue hit VND290.5 trillion (US$13.8 billion) in the first nine months of this year, a 10 per cent rise over the group's revenue target for the period.

Net profit reached VND36.5 trillion ($1.73 billion), a 31-per-cent rise over its nine-month profit target.

PetroVietnam's chairman Nguyen Xuan Son said total revenue for the whole group, including affiliates and subsidiaries, reached VND560.1 trillion ($26.5 billion), surpassing the quarterly target by 19.5 per cent and equivalent to 84 per cent of the group's yearly goal.

In the first nine months, PetroVietnam's contribution to the State budget also exceeded the target by 24 per cent. A total of VND125.5 trillion (nearly $6 billion) was handed over to the State budget, equivalent to 89 per cent of the goal set for the whole year.

The company's total production output reached 20.34 million tonnes of oil equivalent (TOE), 8.7 per cent higher than the quarterly target. Of this, crude oil comprised 12.71 million tonnes, an 8.8-per-cent rise over the target; and gas reached 7.64 billion cubic metres, an increase of 8.6 per cent over the target.

Production of electricity, fertiliser and petroleum was also above target - by between 5 per cent and 22 per cent.

Electricity production reached 11.92 billion kWh in the first nine months, up 9.4 per cent over the target. Fertiliser output reached 1.23 million tonnes and petroleum production hit 4.06 million tonnes, up 5.2 per cent and 22.6 per cent, respectively, over the target set for the third quarter.

It is expected that PetroVietnam will achieve its financial targets by late October or early November. These include its contribution to the State budget, which is likely to reach VND167 trillion ($7.9 billion), up 19 per cent over the yearly target.

According to Le Minh Hong, deputy general director of PetroVietnam, the group will focus on implementation of the group's restructuring scheme in the next three months.

It will speed up equitisation of its units while divesting capital from non-core businesses, as well as enhance the competitiveness of companies in the group.

In addition, to accomplish its development strategy, PetroVietnam will closely monitor activities of exploration, exploitation and development of oil and gas fields in the East Sea.

Local firms face FTA challenges

Vietnamese enterprises are preparing for further integration as the country is close to signing many free-trade agreements (FTAs), which will bring not only opportunities but also challenges.

According to Pham Xuan Trinh, general director of the Phong Phu Corporation which operates in the garment and textile sector, foreign firms are pouring investments into this sector to take advantage of the benefits that the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement will bring.

Domestic producers, as a result, will face increased competition from international firms that have the advantages of capital and technology.

Van Duc Muoi, general director of Vissan, said food products must meet the requirements of displaying the place of origin, meeting hygiene and safety standards and having competitive prices.

Companies need to hasten their restructuring and plan a clear development strategy, according to experts from the Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Enterprises said that the government should provide related information in advance to help them prepare well for the integration, or else they will not be able to perform well.

Tran Do Lien, deputy president of Tien Giang Province's Business Association, said that about 80 to 90 per cent of the companies in the province do not have adequate understanding of the coming economic agreements.

Vietnamese enterprises might fail to grasp the opportunities without careful preparation, he warned.

Le Thi Thu Lai, director of a handicraft company, said that the government should improve the legal system to ensure consistency and transparency, and also improve the business climate.

Vo Tri Thanh, deputy director of the Central Institute for Economic Management, in an interview with Tin Tuc newspaper said that companies themselves must innovate to adapt to integration, while the government should have policies to support vulnerable industries.

The country is in the process of negotiating important FTAs, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Viet Nam-EU FTA.

Belgian sweets maker opens research centre

Belgian-owned Puratos Grand-Place Vietnam, which specialises in cakes, pastries, chocolate, and cocoa, yesterday opened an innovation and distribution centre in Binh Duong Province at a cost of US$2.5 million.

Spread over 6,000sq.m at the Vietnam-Singapore Park 1, the centre will research into chocolate and bakery and patisserie products and act as a logistics centre for Indochina, Gricha Safarian, the company's managing director, said.

It is also a "fantastic state of the art tool" for training customers in using a wide range of products that the company manufactures in Vietnam, he claimed.

PGPV currently buys around 1,000 tonnes of cocoa beans a year in Vietnam, or 30% of the country's total output.

SMEs key to Ha Noi's success

Sixty years after the capital was liberated from the occupying French troops, the city had become a central force in the national economy thanks to small and medium-sized enterprises, heard a workshop in Ha Noi yesterday.

Speakers said the city's industrial enterprises had focused on the high-tech sector, which formed the backbone of sustainable economic development. Moreover, the city had shifted in recent years to prioritising high-value industries, with the goal of becoming a leading research, design and manufacturing hub. Therefore, enterprises had innovated equipment, technology and human resources, creating more competitive products and increasing export turnover.

Despite difficulties in the 2011-13 period and the earlier financial crisis and recession in the 2006-10 period, which brought decreasing interest rates, high input costs and high inventories, the city's average growth rate of 15.8 per cent demonstrated that the efforts of small- and medium-sized enterprises had been worthwhile, they said.

In the past 60 years, the city had seen businesses contribute hundreds of billions of dong in taxes to the national budget, as well as creating jobs, speakers said. The city had also introduced policies to create opportunities for the establishment and development of enterprises which related to financial support, production space, market expansion, public services and tax reduction.

The workshop was co-organised by the Ha Noi Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises Association (Hasmea) and the Ha Noi People's Committee.

Ministry backs State funding for Vung Ang EZ

The Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI) has agreed to support the Ha Tinh provincial authorities' proposal for more State funding for infrastructure projects in the Vung Ang Economic Zone.

After a recent meeting with the authorities, the ministry said it would seek Government approval for the release of the remaining VND219 billion (US$10.4 million) of the VND819-billion ($39-million) State budget for the projects in the central province's economic zone.

However, Minister of Planning and Investment Bui Quang Vinh asked Ha Tinh to provide the MPI with information regarding the distribution of VND600 billion ($28.6 million) in State funds earlier released to the zone, as well as the plan for the use of the remaining VND219 billion in the zone.

He also noted that the MPI has so far asked the Government to use the State budget for the construction of a housing project for workers at the zone. After getting Government approval, the ministry will continuously fund the project in 2015 and in the coming years.

The ministry will also seek Government support for Ha Tinh province's land clearance and housing resettlement for residents affected by the steel factory and the Son Duong sea port projects which Formosa Heavy Industries Corporation has funded.

To speed up the pace of implementation of important projects during this year's flood season, the MPI also proposed that the Government advance VND800 billion ($37.55 million) on the recommendation of Ha Tinh authorities.

Vinh has also sent a proposal for the Government to support the sustainable socio-economic development of communes affected by the projects.

The 22,000-hectare Vung Ang Economic Zone was established in Ha Tinh Province's Ky Anh District in 2006 and is considered as one of the country's five key coastal economic zones.

A total of 226 enterprises were granted business and investment licenses in the zone. Roughly 12,500 labourers work in the area, and the figure is forecast to reach 67,000 in 2015.

Binh Duong electronics exports surge

The southern province of Binh Duong earned more than US$1.7 billion from exporting electronics products in the first nine months of this year, an increase of 20 per cent compared to previous years.

Local businesses produced 1.2 million electronics units during the period, according to director of the provincial Department of Industry and Trade Vo Van Cu. Many of these products posted high export growth such as phones and spare parts (41 percent) and computers and others (4-10 per cent).

Electronics products surpassed garments and wood products to lead Binh Duong's key export items, he said, adding that the province had encouraged investment in technology projects, especially those producing computers, phones and spare parts.

Binh Duong's three-quarter export turnover surpassed $11 billion, up 14.5 per cent year-on-year.

VN Tax Consultants, CPA Australia ink co-op pact

CPA Australia and the Viet Nam Tax Consultants' Association signed a co-operation agreement yesterday that aims to help the professional bodies work more closely together.

"It will further strengthen the accounting profession and tax agents in Viet Nam through a range of joint initiatives," said Adam Awty, CPA Australia Chief Operating Officer.

CPA Australia has over 500 members in Viet Nam and membership is continuing to grow.

KBC aims to clear all debts

Property developer Kinh Bac (KBC) plans to sell 120 million shares at a minimum price of VND15,000 (US$0.7) each and convertible bonds worth VND1.2 trillion ($56.6 million).

The company said it expected to earn at least VND3 trillion ($141.5 million) from the plan to pay all of its debts and invest in industrial zones.

MoF to create 26 investment funds

A total of 26 securities investment funds have been established since August, according to the Ministry of Finance (MoF).

The figure includes 15 open-ended funds, an exchange-traded fund, two close-ended funds and eight funds established as partnerships.

The MoF said more funds would be set up in the future as it continued the restructuring of fund management and securities companies, tightened their capital adequacy ratios, governed their investment activities and handled their links to commercial banks.

FLC Group meets 85% of target

FLC Group earned about VND300 billion (US$14.2 million) in profits in the first nine months of 2014, thereby meeting 85 per cent of its annual target.

The company also earned five times more than in the same period last year. In the third quarter alone, the group achieved a profit of VND130 billion ($6.2 million).

Doan Van Phuong, FLC general director, said the company promoted all of its business activities during the period, especially significant revenue from its mergers and acquisitions this year.The company expects a surge in revenue in the last quarter, when it will be offering several property projects for sale.

FLC has launched several large-scale projects, including Sam Son Golf Link and Resort, FLC Complex 36 Pham Hung, FLC Garden City and the terrace housing project in central Thanh Hoa Province.

It was chosen as investor of the VND7-trillion administrative centre in southern Khanh Hoa Province. The Kien Giang Province also wants the group to be investors of a 577-hectare golf course and resort in Phu Quoc.

Firms make top brokerages list

Two companies managed to make it to the list of top 10 brokerages in terms of stock market share on the HCM City Stock Exchange for the third quarter of 2014.

Maybank Kim Eng Securities and Saigon-Ha Noi Securities (SHS) replaced Vietcombank Securities and BIDV Securities on the list, which Saigon Securities Inc. (SSI) topped. HCM City Securities (HCM) ranked second and VietCapital Securities ranked third.

The top 10 brokerages accounted for 62 per cent of the southern market. Meanwhile, only four companies have so far joined the country's bond market. They are Bao Viet Securities (BVS) at 46.8 per cent, VP Bank Securities at 26.6 per cent, Vietcombank Securities at 26.5 per cent and BIDV Securities at 0.1 per cent.

Advanced technology as new focal point in Vietnam-Russia cooperation

Vietnam and Russia should diversify and expand bilateral cooperation into new areas, with a focus on high-tech projects, Chief Representative of the Russian Trade Office in Vietnam Golikov Maxim suggested at a business forum in Ho Chi Minh City on October 8.

He reported that Russia is carrying out a number of trade promotion programmes to expand the presence of Vietnamese goods on its market.

Russian consumers are particularly interested in seafood, vegetables, fruit, and canned goods.

In order to reach 7 billion USD in bilateral trade by 2015, both countries need to accelerate the establishment of a free trade zone between Vietnam and the Customs Union of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia.

This would benefit socio-economic development in all States involved and open up new opportunities for business communities.

As of September, Russia implemented 20 investment projects worth 44.4 million USD in Ho Chi Minh City. Furthermore, Russian tourists were amongst the top 10 nationalities to visit the city.

Vice Chairwoman of the municipal People’s Committee Nguyen Thi Hong considered Russia a key market for the city in a number of areas, such as trade, investment and tourism.

With the hope of making inroads into Russia, the city is carrying out a number of measures to study its business climate.

Ministry of Transport accelerates equitisation process

The Ministry of Transport approved the equitisation value of 17 enterprises and equitisation plans for six enterprises during the first nine months of this year, heard a press conference in Hanoi on October 7.

The ministry reported that it also conducted value assessments for 10 domestic waterway management enterprises and the Vietnam Salvage Company.

Additionally, seven subsidiaries of the Vietnam Railway and the Vietnam National Shipping Lines (Vinalines) were given the nod.

A proposal to equitise the Vietnam Expressway Corporation (VEC) in 2016 is currently under consideration, said Deputy Minister Nguyen Hong Truong.

During the reviewed period, as many as 23 enterprises under six corporations withdrew State capital from non-core business activities, raising 357.5 billion VND (17 million USD) for the ministry.

The ministry instructed other corporations, including the Civil Engineering Construction Corporations 1 and 4 (Cienco 1 and 4), Vinacomin Waterway Transport JSC and Transport Engineering Design Inc. (TEDI) to implement their State capital divestment.

It also urged the Southern Waterborne Transport Corporation to transfer its State capital ownership right to the State Capital Investment Company (SCIC).-

Maintenance centre for transport system in mines opens in Quang Ninh

Vinacomin Motor Industry Joint Stock Company (VMIC), a subsidiary of the Vietnam National Coal and Mineral Industries Group (Vinacomin), officially opened a centre for producing and maintaining monorail conveyor systems in mines on October 7.

The centre was set up as a result of the cooperation between VMIC and several Czech enterprises including Perrit and EIMM.

VMIC recently also put into operation a monorail system built under a contract it signed late last year with Perrit company, which has a capacity of carrying 150 workers and features an early warning system for toxic heavy metal particles. According to Nguyen Van Son, Deputy Director of Ha Lam Coal JSC, the monorail system is an effective and safe means to move workers and equipment in mines.

BIDV announces profits of 200 million USD

The Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Investment and Development Vietnam (BIDV) generated profits of 4.26 trillion VND (200 million USD) by the end of September, making it one of the top 10 contributors to the national economy.

The bank’s total loans reached 419 trillion VND (19.68 billion USD) during the first nine months, up by 8.1 percent compared to the same period last year, whilst bad debt only accounted for 2 percent of its total loans.

In addition, capital mobilisation reached nearly 468 trillion VND (21.98 billion USD) during the period.

With over 18,000 employees, and 127 branches and more than 600 transaction offices in 63 provinces and cities nationwide, BIDV is now one of the country’s leading financial institutions. The lender currently holds assets of more than 600 trillion VND (28.18 billion USD) with an average annual credit growth of 18 percent from 2011-2014, said Phan Duc Tu, General Director of BIDV.

Regarding international cooperation, Tran Bac Ha, BIDV Chairman and President of the Association of Vietnamese Investors in Laos (AVIL), stated that BIDV and the Laos-Vietnam Bank (LVB), a joint venture between BIDV and a Lao bank, funded 23 projects in Laos so far, with a combined investment of approximately 740 million USD in the fields of infrastructure development, rubber plantations, hydropower and mining.

BIDV has also been involved in social welfare activities in the Lao community, donating nearly 10 million USD to socio-economic programmes. These efforts have helped tighten the friendship and solidarity between the people of Vietnam and Laos.

Textile, garment exports exceed targets

Vietnam’s textile and garments exports are likely to increase by 15-16 percent this year, valued at 24.5-25 billion USD, and exceeding the annual target by 0.5-1 billion USD, Le Tien Truong, General Director of the Vietnam National Textile and Garment Group (Vinatex), reported.

During the first three quarters of 2014, the sector generated nearly 18 billion USD in export revenue, a year-on-year increase of 19 percent, and imported 11 billion USD worth of materials.

Vinatex alone enjoyed a 19 percent increase in its export earnings compared to the same period last year, accounting for 2.36 billion USD.

Truong said the sector’s exports to traditional markets increased significantly such as the US (up by 15 percent), the European Union (up by 19 percent), Japan (up by 14 percent), and the Republic of Korea (up by 32 percent).

Regarding import, India has now replaced China as the second largest cotton provider to Vietnam, he noted. Vietnam imported 550,000 tonnes of cotton worth 1.1 billion USD during the first nine months, including cotton worth more than 500 million USD from the US and 300 million USD from India.

Truong added that Vietnam is establishing itself as a global textile and garment powerhouse. In order to maintain its position, it needs to increase labour productivity and apply cutting-edge technology.-

Vietnam saves over 2 billion kWh of electricity

Electricity consumption declined by 2 billion kWh over the past nine months, accounting for 2.19 percent of commercial electricity output, Electricity of Vietnam (EVN) reported.

This reduction is attributable to EVN's cooperation with the media to increase awareness of electricity conservation.

Power companies launched a number of campaigns and programmes, such as the Power Saving Family, Power Saving Streets, and Power Saving Schools to encourage households, enterprises and agencies to use energy sparingly and efficiently.

Numerous conferences and discussion rounds were organised at schools and businesses to explore power saving solutions.

Additionally, EVN’s power saving programme for the 2014-2015 period included replacing incandescent bulbs with compact alternatives, and jointly organising electricity saving campaigns with the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union.

EVN’s Southern Power Corporation plans to pilot the ESCO model, installing solar water heater systems for its largest customers towards the end of 2014.

From January to September, EVN’s Southern Power Corporation and Ho Chi Minh City Power Corporation (EVN HCMC) took the lead in saving electricity, with the decline in consumption accounting for more than 2.5 percent of their commercial electricity output.-

Dong Nai’s coffee exports fetch over 420 mln USD

The southern province of Dong Nai earned more than 420 million USD from exporting 193,000 tonnes of coffee in the first nine months of this year, up 43 percent in value and 42 percent in volume compared to the same period of 2013.

According to the provincial Department of Industry and Trade, the province’s coffee export turnover is expected to reach over 80 million USD in the last quarter of 2014, bringing the total yearly figure to more than 500 million USD.

Le Van Danh, Director of the department, said this year, coffee is among the province’s exports with sharp rises in both volume and value in comparison with the previous years.

To boost sustainable coffee development, the provincial People’s Committee has assigned a local firm to build a specialised cultivation region with a view to increasing the locality’s coffee growing area to 22,000 ha, he said.

The model is expected to draw the participation of more businesses which will form a linkage chain in coffee production.-

Conference focuses on establishing seafood production chains

Creating effective seafood production chains was the main topic of a conference in Ho Chi Minh City on October 8.

The event was jointly organised by the US organisations Global Aquaculture Alliance (GAA) and Sustainable Fisheries Partnerships, and the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP).

Speaking at the conference, Jeff Sedacca from the US’ National Fish and Seafood (NFS) emphasised the need to pay more attention to developing small-scale farms since they produce a large proportion of total shrimp output.

NFS has developed a chain model for sustainable shrimp breeding based on close linkages between farmers, processors, investors and distributors, he said, adding that the organisation has also devised a broader network, including many components of the supply chain.

Such a chain will pave the way for farmers to improve their livelihoods and increase incomes, he stated.

However, James Baros, the NFS coordinator for aquaculture certification, noted that it is hard for small farms to obtain certification as they often fail to meet international standards.

When cooperating with small producers, the NFS confirmed they would meet global standards and their products could be sold worldwide, he added.

According to VASEP Vice President Nguyen Huu Dung, Vietnam ’s shrimp businesses must work closely with farmers to develop shrimp breeding areas whilst applying quality and disease management systems in an effort to meet international standards on food safety.

Once the NFS project is implemented in Vietnam , it will help local breeders to produce shrimp in a sustainable manner, he said.

Statistics from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development showed that the country earned 4.95 billion USD from seafood exports during the first eight months of this year, up by 25.4 percent compared to the same period in 2013.

Shrimp exports alone accounted for 2 billion USD during the first seven months of 2014.

VASEP estimates seafood exports will reach about 7 billion in 2014, up by 4.5 percent compare to last year.

Dak Nong ideal for hi-tech agriculture

The Central Highlands province of Dak Nong’s primary target in its agriculture development is building a comprehensive system geared toward modernity and sustainable development with high competitiveness capitalised by large-scale hi-tech commodity-based production.

Dak Nong enjoys a favourable geographic position allowing easy trade with neighbouring Dak Lak and Lam Dong provinces, which have fairly developed hi-tech agriculture, and Ho Chi Minh City and southeastern localities which serve as a promising, huge agriculture consumer market.

The province has vast agricultural land and advantageous natural and socio-economic conditions which favour the application of hi-tech agricultural production.

Between 2005 and 2010, the province’s agricultural production value grew by an average 7.5 per cent per year. By 2012 the sector’s total productivity surpassed VND5 trillion ($238 million), more than half the province’s GDP.

Agriculture continued at a reasonable growth pace in 2012-2013.

Several major crops have seen exceptional growth in terms of production output in the recent time. Coffee rose from an average 1.5 tonnes per hectare to 2.3 tonnes per hectare in 2013. Corn increased from five tonnes/ha to seven tonnes/ha, and rice from 4-5 tonnes/ha to 5.8-6 tonnes/ha.

Production value per hectare of cultivated land nearly quadrupled from VND15.9 million ($757) per year to VND60 million ($2,857) per year in 2013.

Dak Nong province is looking to develop a comprehensive agricultural system geared towards modernity and sustainability with a high level of competitiveness rooted in hi-tech commodity-based production, as well as to ensure food security and environmental sanitation standards while keeping abreast of adapting to climate change conditions.

Agricultural development is closely linked to industry, services and urban development.

The province has also focused on continuing to improve the lives of people, particularly those in rural or remote areas and ethnic minorities. Other goals are to improve the cultural background and production of farmers, implement national standards of the new countryside model, build a strong socio-economic infrastructure, and further empower the political system to support national defense and security, social order and follow environmental standards.

Dak Nong’s agricultural sector has taken the initiative in selecting suitable crops and livestock for development in specialised areas to meet growing market demands.

Notably, diverse cultivation models in different areas in the province have proven very effective, such as passion fruit production in Dak R’Lap, Tuy Duc, Dak Song, and Dak Glong districts, seedless lemon production in Dak R’Lap and Tuy Duc districts, safe veggie and quality flowers in Gia Nghia town, Dak Mil, Cu Jut, and Krong No districts, and Japanese sweet potato production in Tuy Duc and Dak Song districts.

The agricultural sector also successfully came up with the model of growing cocoa in cashew gardens in Dak R’Lap district, planting palm oil trees in Dak Glong district, and farming green asparagus in Tuy Duc district and citrus fruits in Gia Nghia town, Dak Mil and Dak Glong.

Efforts were also made to ensure sustainable development of cocoa, pepper and coffee production following the 4C UTZ certified process.

At present, Dak Nong is planning a 120ha hi-tech agricultural zone to develop demonstration models, implement scientific research projects and attract scientists and businesses to invest and transfer the latest science and technology achievements to support the province’s development ambitions.

Hi-tech agricultural areas have been established in diverse locations throughout the province and due attention has been paid to spur agricultural production following Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) standards and the application of models for pest prevention to ensure high crop output but also environmental protection.

The farm model has become increasingly popular in respect to seafood and livestock breeding. The planning of aquaculture and livestock breeding areas is closely linked to protecting the environment and bio-safety.

Diverse capital sources have been tapped to promote livestock breeding and seafood development, particularly the implementation of science and technology services in these areas.

Seafood and animal breeding centres were established in a number of districts and local cattle herds continue to be improved with quality crossbred Brahman cows in different locations throughout the province.

To develop agricultural production, apart from state backing and farmers’ efforts, support from businesses is of great importance. Therefore in the coming years Dak Nong will further call on businesses to engage in building seed and animal breeding centres, seafood breeding centres, and dairy farms and processing units.

The province has also called on investment into establishing slaughter houses that use cutting edge equipment and building agricultural processing units through offering attractive land and tax incentive policies.

Ascott's fifth property opened in Ho Chi Minh City

CapitaLand’s wholly-owned serviced residence business unit, The Ascott Limited (Ascott), has opened its fifth property in Ho Chi Minh City.

The new Diamond Island Luxury Residences is located in District 2, which is earmarked to become Vietnam’s new commercial and financial centre. This property offers 50 apartments for corporate lease.

According to Mark Chan, Ascott’s country general manager for Vietnam, for Diamond Island, Ascott is managing these luxury residences as corporate lease, unlike other service residences.

The main differences between corporate lease and service residences are corporate lease units comes either fully furnished or unfurnished, as some tenants may want to bring in their own furniture, and there are no or very limited housekeeping services provided.

Nevertheless, both serviced residences and corporate lease apartments offer dwellers the option of sharing spacious apartment with family or friends, ample cooking facilities, whilst having the privacy of individual bedrooms.

With the opening of Diamond Island Luxury Residences, Ascott will provide a wider range of accommodation options to cater to the different lifestyle needs of its customers. Diamond Island Luxury Residences is part of a landmark development that boasts strategic location with beautiful architecture and design.

Coupled with Ascott’s award-winning hospitality, the property will certainly cater well to high net-worth local residents, expatriates and business travellers looking for quality accommodation in Ho Chi Minh City's District 2.

Ascott currently has over 1,800 apartment units in 12 properties across four cities in the country – Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, Haiphong and Danang. To celebrate the opening of Diamond Island Luxury Residences, Ascott is offering special introductory monthly rates from $1,700 for one-bedroom premier apartment.

Credit growth inches nearly half of year target

Credit growth in the banking system approximated 7 percent by the end of September, half of this year target of 12-14 percent.

Several banks have been found in plod or even minus credit growth such as Eximbank, DongA Bank and VietA Bank.

Since the third quarter, the banks have offered a lot of credit packages with interest rates of 6-7 percent and 10 percent per year. However their disbursement has been inconsiderable.

Businesses have failed to present good production and trading projects making it hard to access the low interest loans, said deputy director of the State Bank of Vietnam in Ho Chi Minh City Nguyen Hoang Minh.

Similar condition is occurring to VND30 trillion credit package in the real estate market. Credit institutions have pledged to loan VND1,248 billion in the program but disbursed only VND600 billion so far.

The State Bank said that the interest rate was not a barrier for businesses to access bank loans because it has dropped and equaled to the rates in 2006 and earlier.

Deputy Head of the HCMC National Assembly Delegation Tran Du Lich acknowledged that the banks have much reduced the interest rate but it has been applied on short term not medium and long term loans.

About 30-40 percent businesses are well performing with good financial ability. Many of them are in demand of capital to broaden production and trading. However it is not easy because medium and long term interest rates now average above 10 percent per year while inflation rate hovers around 5 percent.

The State Bank and commercial banks should lower the interest rates of medium and long term loans to facilitate businesses’ loan access, Mr. Lich said.

Young entrepreneurs support 11 startup projects

Eleven startup projects have been patronized by members of the HCMC Young Business Association (YBA) under a business connection event organized last week by the Business Startup Support Center (BSSC).

Under a project held by BSSC and YBA, each trader will act as a mentor who instructs startups to develop their business ideas, share experience and offer investment in viable business ideas.

Nguyen Tuan Quynh, chairman and CEO of Saigon Fuel Joint-stock Company (SFC), told the Daily he highly appreciated the project for its practicality and usefulness towards young novices.

“Though experienced entrepreneurs try their best to offer practical guidance, some may be inappropriate in specific circumstances. Therefore, startup companies should absorb such guidance selectively and defend their choices,” Quynh advised.

Nguyen Duc Thanh, member of a startup project processing wine and syrup from dragon fruit, said he learned many useful things from his mentor. He knew how to give a meaningful and legal name for the firm or make a difference for the production after the first talk.

“Initially, I thought it is not easy to approach businessmen. However, I’ve changed my mind after participating in this event. I realized my production has greater potential than I assessed thanks to the consultant,” said Do Huu Tan, co-founder of the so-called transformation box project which seeks to turn paper boxes after use into hangers, photo frames and so on.

Nguyen Thi Dieu Hang of BSSC said her agency will maintain this annual supporting program for startup projects and make it increasingly better. BSSC is always willing to assist not only participants of the contest Startup Wheel 2014 but also any startup team who wants to start their business career.   

The final round of startup ideas contest Startup Wheel 2014 took place on the same day with the participation of six excellent teams in service and production sectors.

Motoway, an app for motorbike riders, won the first prize of the competition in the service sector with an award of VND20 million. The second and third positions belonged to, an online ticket-booking system, and GreenS, a restaurant providing salad from fresh ingredients and organic products. They were rewarded VND10 million and VND5 million respectively.

The first, second and third prizes in the production sector respectively belonged to Gong Vo Handbook, transformation box and heat-insulating glass projects with similar awards.

It was a pity that BabyMe, one finalist of BSSC and winner of DemoDay 2014, could not attend the competition. Do Huu Tai, co-founder of BabyMe, explained his team had to devote time to arrange for a product launching ceremony in October, and to prepare for the world startup contest.

The Startup Wheel 2014 starting from March was organized by BSSC for the second time, attracting thousands of startup projects. Last year’s competition was for students only. However, participants were extended to young people aged from 18 to 35 in HCMC this year.

1,900 condos find buyers in Jan-Sept

January-September saw 1,900 condos being bought, reducing HCMC’s apartment inventory of 14,500 recorded at the end of 2012 to 7,500, according to the latest report of the HCMC government.

Many investors have proposed splitting their big-size apartments into smaller ones for sale to low-income earners.

Statistics of the Department of Construction showed the city has 21 commercial housing projects whose owners want to divide their condos into smaller ones, with nine of them having gained approval from municipal authorities.

Some firms in the city which are struggling with high apartment inventories said it is tough to ask the local government for approval to turn out smaller condo units for easy sale.

However, HCMC Vice Chairman Nguyen Huu Tin told a recent meeting on real estate that tiny apartment units in the inner-city districts should be restricted because it may put pressure on population, traffic and environment.

Tin said that while it is important to help realty firms ride out difficulties, the sustainable and long-term development of the city must be prioritized.

Despite the large inventory, many new projects will still be executed in the city in the coming time. As many as 92 projects are expected to be complete with roughly 57,300 units between 2015 and 2017, according to Savills Vietnam.

Le Hoang Chau, chairman of the HCMC Real Estate Association (HoREA), however said those figures may not be realized due to financial constraints faced by certain realty firms.

The report also indicated there are currently more than 1,400 housing projects covering a total area of over 11,800 hectares with 426 complete and 201 underway. On the other hand, there are up to 689 out of the total number suspended and 85 revoked or canceled.

Lawyers want banned sectors added to Enterprise Law

Local lawyers have proposed incorporating and clarifying the list of prohibited business sectors and reasons in the amended Enterprise Law instead of putting it in a separate decree.

Speaking at a seminar held in Hanoi on October 7 to gather corporate comments on the draft amendments to the law, lawyer Truong Thanh Duc, chairman of Basico law firm, stressed the need to specify prohibited sectors in the law.

Duc said the banned sectors planned in the new law are even vaguer than those in the current law due to a lack of clarity on why the sectors are prohibited. It just leaves regulating prohibited business sectors in the hands of the Government.

As a result, Duc said barriers to doing business would reappear and intervention by administering agencies like now would stay.

“After the recent arrests of illicit gold trading floor operators, I looked into relevant laws and found that there were no bans against gold trading floors. The central bank has no right to prohibit such activities,” Duc said.

The current regulations stipulate that enterprises are permitted to conduct any business activity that is not prohibited by law. To follow the spirit, all regulations should be clear.

However, even after the Government and the National Assembly (NA) Standing Committee have considered and reviewed the draft law, there have been different numbers of prohibited sectors such as 14, 11 and 8, Duc said.

In addition, according to Decree 102 guiding the implementation of some clauses of the Enterprise Law, there are 14 sectors prohibited but it is wrong.

For instance, the decree bans illegal gambling and gambling organizations but the rule is unreasonable. In fact, anything illegal must be banned, not just gambling, Duc explained.

The trading of all kinds of firecrackers is banned given the decree but fireworks production bases still exist in the country and the State still allows fireworks displays.

Dau Anh Tuan, head of the Legal Department at the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), said there remain many illogical business conditions, which have hindered enterprises from market entry and led to monopoly and unhealthy competition.

According to a report of the NA Standing Committee, there are 386 conditional sectors stated in 391 legal documents that include laws, decrees, circulars and decisions and 322 sectors which the State holds a monopolistic position.

However, it has been found that local enterprises are subject to 398 licenses and much more auxiliary licenses when they want to take part in conditional sectors.

NA says stamp still needed in business transactions

The National Assembly Standing Committee has suggested businesses continue putting the seal on their documents instead of using signatures only.

The suggestion will be put forth at the next NA sitting scheduled to begin at the end of this month in Hanoi. The committee gave its suggestion following opinions from many agencies that the usage of the seal be scrapped to streamline procedures for enterprises.

Enterprises in many countries have no longer used stamp to determine the validity of documents in their business operations. Signatures of parties, or even digital signatures, are preferred in transactions.  

A representative of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, considered Vietnam’s business environment will further improve if regulations on stamping are dropped.

However, the NA committee is cautious about this suggestion. One member said:  “Due to business habits and technical conditions in the country, enterprises still have to possess their own seals; legal representatives of businesses must take full responsibility for using and preserving their seals in the coming time.”

The replacement of seals by signatures has been under consideration and applied when conditions turn appropriate.

Under draft amendments to the Enterprise Law, NA representatives proposed that businesses be allowed to decide on the form and content of their seals.

Stamping will be used in transactions in accordance with the law or by agreement of parties. In transactions with international partners who do not use stamping, the validity of documents will be defined by signatures of authorized representatives of the parties concerned.

Businesses have to register the seal specimen with business registration agencies so that the form will be archived on the national database on business registrations. The Government will issue specific regulations on seal registration and the transfer of management information after the law takes effect.

Article 44 on business seals in the draft of the amended law regulates the seal as the property of a business, whose form and content are decided by the business and registered with a business registration agency. The legal representative of the company is responsible for managing the seal. The use of seal is performed as prescribed by law or agreement between parties.