BUSINESS IN BRIEF 16/2
Vietnam’s financial services sector growing fast
Vietnam’s economy has a proven track record for growth and is shedding a wealth of potential employment opportunities for young people and this is the message that Dragon Capital will convey to its clients, said the company's CEO Dominic Scriven.
“Vietnam is a highly dynamic economy in the Southeast Asian region and its economy is generating enormous business and employment opportunities, particularly in the financial services sector,” Scriven said at a recent dialogue in London with Vietnamese students.
The government’s determination to equitize state-owned enterprises (SOEs) is a significant factor in the nation’s economic success and its working— that's the word we want to send to our investors throughout the world, he said.
In 2014 alone, the Vietnam Vegetable Oils Industry Corporation (Vocarimex) and Vietnam National Textile and Garment Group (Vinatex) were equitized successfully, he noted.
The dialogue in London was organized for the purposes of expanding the horizons of Vietnamese students to help them better understand employment opportunities in the financial sector as a whole.
Dragon Capital Group is a leading integrated investment group centred on the emerging financial markets of Vietnam with offices in Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, the United Kingdom, Bangkok and Hong Kong.
Diverse SCT rates on cars proposed
A proposal of diverse tax rates from the relevant management authority on cars is confusing businesses as well as local consumers.
As of now, automobiles with a cylinder capacity below 2.0L incur a special consumption tax (SCT) rate of 45 per cent; those with a cylinder capacity between 2.0 and 3.0L are subject to 50 per cent SCT rate, while the rate of 60 per cent is applicable to automobiles surpassing 3.0L.
About a month ago, Truong Thanh Hoai, head of the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Heavy Industry Department was quoted as saying to local media that the ministry (MoIT) may propose sharply raising SCT rates on automobiles above 3.0L in cylinder capacity.
Specifically, the SCT rate would be divided into four levels: automobiles from 3.0L to 4.0L in cylinder capacity will be subject to a SCT rate of 120 per cent, while the rates of 145 per cent, 170 per cent and 195 per cent would be applicable to automobiles with cylinder capacities between 4.0 and 5.0L, 5.0L and 6.0L and above 6.0L, respectively.
For automobiles below 1.5L in cylinder capacity the proposed SCT rate would be lowered to 30 per cent.
In a recent meeting earlier this month, Nguyen Ngoc Thanh, deputy head of the Heavy Industry Department stated that the MoIT considers increasing SCT rates on automobiles beyond 3.0L in cylinder capacity from the current 60 per cent to 70 per cent and lowering the rate applied to cars below 2.0L from the current 45 per cent to 35 per cent.
These different proposals all came from the groves of the MoIT which was tasked by the government to join hands with relevant governmental bodies and pen draft policies to materialise Vietnam’s auto industry development strategy.
The strategy was rubber stamped by the government last July.
Many MoIT proposals on revising SCT rates on automobiles, however, were not applauded by the Ministry of Finance (MoF).
Earlier, in November 2014 when commenting on MoIT tax policy proposals for the implementation of the auto sector development strategy, the MoF markedly distanced itself from advocating the MoIT’s SCT tax revision proposals.
The MoF argued that following Vietnam’s commitments to economic integration many tax lines on imported components would need to be eased down, casting a dent on state coffers.
Besides, corporate income tax (CIT) rates are expected to fall to 20 per cent by 2016. In the context of a lower import duty and CIT rate, reducing SCT rates on automobiles would lead to lower budgetary revenues.
This partly explains why SCT rates on automobiles have remained unchanged when it was submitted for consideration to the National Assembly’s final section late last year.
Incentive policies necessary to develop support industry
More support should be given to several key industries to help add value and increase the localisation ratio of exports, the Industry and Trade Department of HCM City has said in a new report.
The department urged the city to develop incentive policies for support industries, especially for engineering, electronics and garments, and encourage local enterprises to use domestic technology, machinery and materials.
To help businesses, the department said it had provided capital, business space, IT application and re-investment for new technology.
In the near future, the city plans to give priority to increase exports that have special advantages, including high value-added and high-technology exports.
It will also reduce exports of raw materials.
Support industries will be set up in high-tech parks, new export markets will be approached, and high value-added agricultural products and food will be created. More worker training courses are also part of the city's plan.
As for exports, the proportion of technology, processing and manufacturing industries comprise 68.26 per cent, more than the city's target of 62 per cent by 2020. On a national level, it is 58.5 per cent.
The proportion of four key industries in HCM City to total industry increased from 54 per cent in 2006 to 59.4 per cent in 2014.
Engineering rose from 15.4 per cent in 2006 to 19 per cent in 2014; electronics and information technology, from 3 per cent in 2006 to 4.1 per cent in 2014; chemical substances-plastics-rubber, from 16.8 per cent to 19.2 per cent; and food and food processing, from 14.8 to 17.2 per cent.
For two labour-intensive industries, shoes and textiles and garments, most workshops have been moved to rural areas where industries can take advantage of the supply of labourers.
Value-added processes like design, new models and luxury fashion have remained in HCM City with a proportion of 18 per cent.
Farmers hit by falling price of vegetables
Tet is almost here, but sales of numerous vegetables and fruits in the Mekong Delta have been slow, even though prices have fallen.
As prices tumble, with some having declined by 50 per cent, farmers are willing to accept losses and sell at a much lower prices to regain part of their investment.
Pham Van Deo, a farmer from An Giang Province's My Hoi Dong Ward, said his family was not going to harvest crops from his 2,000sq.m coriander field this year since the price was pushed to VND2,000 (10 US cents) per kg.
He chose instead to wait another two months to collect the seeds, hoping he would find a buyer for them to minimise his losses this year.
Other farmers did not have that privilege, since they had to pay VND3-4 million (US$150-200) a year for their fields and were under pressure to quickly get rid of the harvest and start planting again.
The large supply of coriander in the market and un-coordinated crop sales have resulted in a very low price for coriander and other crops across the region.
Farmer Tran Van Hai said other factors such as bad weather and increased expenses also contributed to the problem.
Prices for favourite Tet fruits such as watermelons and pink tangerines were holding up after a slight decrease. However, there was a risk that prices would fall again, as many farmers still couldn't manage to empty their stock before the holidays.
"Prices for various vegetables and crops have gone down by 50-70 per cent from last month," said Tran Thi Le Thu, a vegetable merchant in My Hoi Dong.
She said the market couldn't handle a large supply of vegetables so close to the holiday, but farmers kept bringing them.
Merchants often try to buy from farmers early to avoid the price surge closer to Tet, but if prices fail to pick up before the holiday, they will have to negotiate with farmers again or incur financial losses.
Farmers in many provinces in the Mekong Delta have switched to growing vegetables as an alternative to traditional but low-yield rice. However, vegetable prices have proven difficult to predict and farmers have been struggling.
Switching to growing vegetables without first taking measures to improve product quality made it difficult to raise the price, said Nguyen Phuoc Tuyen, head of the Mekong Delta Dong Thap Province's Department of Scientific Research and Information.
"In addition, vegetables that can't be sold are wasted after just a short time, showing that farmers don't have technology to preserve their products," Tuyen said.
The lack of a master plan for the whole region could result in a scenario where the market wouldn't be able to handle what farmers produced and prices would continue to plummet, Tuyen warned.
Vietnam’s shipment to Hong Kong jumps 26 percent
Vietnam’s exports to China’s Hong Kong saw a significant yearly increase of some 26.7 percent to top 5.2 billion USD in 2014, Vietnamese Consul General in Hong Kong and Macau Hoang Chi Trung said.
Although relations between Vietnam and Hong Kong were affected by China’s illegal positioning of an oil rig in Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf last year, their ties have been improved thanks to efforts by both sides, he told Vietnam News Agency correspondents.
The Chinese special administrative region invested more than 3 billion USD in 99 new projects in Vietnam in 2014, ranking second among 60 countries and territories directly investing here.
Meanwhile, the number of Hong Kong tourists to Vietnam rebounded towards the end of the year after a fall triggered by the oil rig incident, the diplomat noted.
According to him, Hong Kong will remain a leading partner of Vietnam in 2015 as well as a gateway for the country’s goods to enter major markets like Europe and the US.
Good will and efforts from both sides are needed to realise their relations’ potential, he added.
He further said Vietnam will actively take part in trade meetings, workshops, and fairs and organise tourism and trade promotional activities in Hong Kong and Macau, another special administrative region of China.
The diplomat also reported that shipments of Vietnamese goods to Macau last year rose by 17.4 percent from 2013 and more Vietnamese guest workers came to work here.
The Consulate General plans to arrange for about 100 Hong Kong and Macau entrepreneurs to visit Ho Chi Minh City and Da Nang city in April in order to learn about local investment climate and seek business opportunities, he added.-
One million tonnes of rice to be purchased for stockpile
The Prime Minister’s Office on February 13 agreed to a proposal on purchasing 1 million tonnes of rice for stockpile in the context of abundant supply from the Winter-Spring 2014-2015 crop harvest in the Mekong Delta region.
The proposal was put forth during a conference earlier the same day held by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), Ministry of Finance, the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV), and the Vietnam Food Association (VFA) in Hanoi.
The purchase will be made via rice trading enterprises under the VFA from March 1 to April 15, 2015 with the VFA and provincial People’s Committees responsible for assigning specific quota to each trader. The enterprises will receive interest subsidy for up to 4 months for bank loans taken to purchase the rice.
According to the MARD’s report, the total output of the Mekong Delta’s Winter-Spring 2014-2015 crop is expected to reach 11.3 million tonnes of unhusked rice, equivalent to 4.3 million tonnes of commercial rice while there are still around 707,000 tonnes in the rice inventory accumulated from last year. This has brought the total commercial rice stock to 5 million tonnes. Meanwhile, rice export is estimated to amount to only 1.4 million tonnes in the first four months of the year, resulting in falling domestic rice price.
According to the VFA General Secretary Huynh Minh Hue, now is the right time to start purchasing rice for stockpile, which will help keep rice price stable.
The Mekong Delta, the country’s largest rice granary, comprises of 12 provinces and one centrally-run city with a total area of 40,000 square kilometres and a combined population of 18 million.
Vietnam, India look to strengthen trade links
The Governments and business communities of India and Vietnam should work together to achieve the 2015 trade target of 7 billion USD and 15 billion USD in 2020, said Vietnamese Ambassador to India Ton Sinh Thanh.
The ambassador made the suggestion during a seminar in India on February 12, jointly organised by the embassy and the Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) to provide Indian businesses and investors with insight into Vietnam’s recent economic growth and its renovated tariff and investment policies.
Thanh highlighted the increasingly fruitful relationship between Vietnam and India, noting that the two nations work closely in regional and global forums, such as the United Nations, World Trade Organisation, ASEAN, East Asia Summit (EAS) , and Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM).
He discussed the status of Vietnam’s negotiations on free trade agreements (FTA) between ASEAN and India and the signed FTAs with China, the Republic of Korea, Australia, New Zealand, and the Russia-Belarus-Kazakhstan Customs Union, as well as current negotiations with the European Union and on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement.
India is now one of Vietnam’s ten largest trading partners with a 14 percent increase in annual trade since 2008, Thanh said, adding that Vietnam is an attractive destination for Indian firms.
Indian investors have poured 258 million USD into 85 projects in Vietnam thus far. The two nations are cooperating in oil and gas exploitation projects.
Speaking at the event, FIEO General Director Ajay Sahai spoke of Vietnam’s role in his country’s Look East policy, saying that Vietnam serves as a gateway between India and other Southeast Asian nations and that there is great potential for the two sides to further promote their future economic cooperation.
According to Ajay, the Vietnam-India trade revenue has surged remarkably in recent years, from 2.36 billion USD in 2009 to 8.03 billion USD in 2013-2014.
At the seminar, representatives from Indian enterprises shared their experience in the Vietnamese market for those interested in entering.
Phu Yen declares 19 ships eligible for government loans
The southern central coastal province of Phu Yen on February 13 declared the first 19 fishing ship building projects, which belong to fishermen in Tuy Hoa city and Dong Hoa district, to be eligible for loans from the Government.
The province, the country’s mainstay of oceanic tuna fishing, said that this first batch of ships met conditions under decree No 67/2014/ND-CP issued on July 7, 2014 concerning polices on fishery development.
Among those ships, 15 will be built with wooden or composite shells and equipped with engines of 500-800 horsepower. The remaining four are upgraded.
The work is estimated to cost 126 billion VND (5.9 million USD), in which 95 billion VND (4.45 million USD) is sourced from commercial banks and the rest comes from ship owners.
According to the province’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, since the implementation of decree No 67/2014/ND-CP, the fishermen have set up projects aiming to build 104 new ships, which need 1.01 trillion VND (47.328 million USD).
Government Decree No. 67 provides a full, systematic and synchronous set of basic policies to encourage fishermen building high-capacity and iron-covered ships capable of fishing offshore.
Minister calls for highway progress
The Ministry of Transport again told the Viet Nam Infrastructure Development and Finance Investment Joint Stock Company (VIDIFI) to speed up construction on the delayed Ha Noi–Hai Phong expressway in order to complete it by the end of 2015.
Tin Tuc (News) newspaper found that barely 80 per cent of the road had been finished.
After a recent inspection, Transport Minister Dinh La Thang demanded the project complete the section between Hai Phong and Hai Duong before April 30.
VIDIFI chief executive officer Dao Van Chien said the project's bid packages EX1B, EX2 and EX4 were lagging behind schedule due to the contractors' lack of money, workers and equipment. The EX1B package, implemented by a consortium of Phuc Loc Construction Company and the Petroleum Construction and Investment Joint Stock Company, was more than two months behind schedule.
The EX2 package, undertaken by Namkwang and EX4 package by Keangnam (both from the Republic of Korea), was also progressing at a snail's pace due to the fact that both contractors owed their sub-contractors money.
Minister Thang ordered the contractors of the EX5 and EX6 packages running through Hai Duong Province, who are still struggling to handle the weak foundation of the road, to have employees work through the Tet holiday. He also told the contractors to work with authorities in the five provinces that the road runs through to ensure work safety.
For the package EX4 implemented by Keangnam, the minister dictated that VIDIFI withdraw its guarantee from the Korean contractor and sign a new contract with a substitute.
For the package EX1 running through Ha Noi's Gia Lam District, the ministry chief asked the consortium of Cienco 1 and Cienco 4 to make sure that they met the deadline because that would determine the speed of the whole project. Since the project had gotten several extensions, it could not be delayed any longer.
"There is not much time left, so the project owner and contractors must pull out all the stops to meet the deadline," Minister Thang said
The minister assigned his deputy, deputy minister Nguyen Hong Truong, to hold briefings about the project at least once a month to provide updates and resolve any issues.
Last July, during a supervising tour of the delayed packages, Minister Thang issued an ultimatum to the sub-contractors that if they did not improve, they would be banned from bidding for other projects in Viet Nam.
The six-lane Ha Noi – Hai Phong expressway runs from Ha Noi's Ring Road 3 to Hai Phong's Dinh Vu Port with the speed limit of 120 km/h.
Going through Ha Noi, Hung Yen, Hai Duong and Hai Phong, the project carries an investment tag of VND45.5 trillion (US$2.13 billion). It will cut the traveling time from Ha Noi to Hai Phong's seaport from the current three hours to one.
Jewellers make new products to meet surging Tet demand
Gold shops in HCM City are stocking many kinds of original products and hope to make big profits on them during Tet.
On February 9 the Sai Gon Jewellery Company (SJC) unveiled a series of products like a statue of the God of Wealth, 12 animals of the zodiac and goat head-shaped rings, each weighing from a 10th of a tael to a tael.
They all have designated 3D viewing angles that make them look very sophisticated.
Earlier, Bao Tin Minh Chau Jewellery Company had introduced a collection of gold coins associated with the shapes of the 12 animals of the zodiac. The coins weigh only a 20th of a tael, a 10th or a fifth and so are easy to be displayed or given as "lucky money."
To meet the demand for original gold products for gifting during the Lunar New Year, the company has also produced gift items including sacred objects like the "Lucky Gold Goat" created from various materials and costing VND5-150 million.
Nguyen Cong Tuong, deputy chairman of the company's wholesale office, said though the demand for bullion has not increased, the demand for gold products created specially for Tet is very high.
Gold traders expect the demand for gold products to be particularly high on the 10th day of the new year, which is the birthday of the God of Wealth.
Last year, many gold shops were hit by a shortage of stock after people flocked to buy gold on that day, according to market observers.
Bao Tin Minh Chau's turnover on the day last year increased by 300 per cent while SJC also had much higher sales than expected.
To meet demand, gold traders have focused their efforts on producing unique gold items this time.
Tuong of SJC said most people want to buy SJC bars of half, one or two taels, but there is a shortage now since the central bank did not produce enough last year.
So major gold companies like SJC, Bao Tin Minh Chau, DOJI have switched to various kinds of gold products to replace the gold bars, including packaged gold rings and gold sheets with the 12 animals of the zodiac.
Ministries order petrol price stability over Tet
The ministries of Industry and Trade, and Finance have asked fuel enterprises to keep retail petrol prices stable during the Tet (Lunar New Year) holidays.
The order was issued in view of the "complicated" global oil price fluctuations.
The Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Do Thang Hai said he had sent express despatches to notify key dealers about the request. Any other changes can only be made, based on the directives of the authorities.
The companies have also been tasked with assuring that adequate petrol reserves and supply in terms of both volumes and types of fuel are maintained.
The ministries had set the new caps for retail petrol prices on February 5. They fixed the maximum prices at VND15,686 (US$0.75) per litre for RON 92 gasoline and VND15,183 ($0.72) per litre for 0.05S diesel.
They had also stipulated limits of VND15,623 ($0.74) per litre for kerosene, VND11,861 ($0.56) per kilogramme for 180CST 3.5S mazut, and VND15,356 ($0.73) per litre for biofuel E5 gasoline.
Retail prices for petrol have been cut twice this year in the context of global oil prices experiencing continuing declines.
The Government had asked the ministries to closely monitor the fluctuations in crude oil prices in the global market and to adopt timely measures for determining import taxes and retail fuel prices.
This is needed to harmonise the interests of the Government, enterprises and consumers, as well as help maintain macro-economic stability, it said.
ANZ Bank economists said in a recent report that the correction in international prices of oil will have a marginal net impact on Viet Nam, which is both an exporter of crude oil and an importer of refined products.
But they pointed out that Viet Nam's oil consumption has risen sharply, and that the projected oil shortage in the country requires continued investment in downstream projects in spite of lower oil prices.Buddha's Hand helps Dac So Commune
The lives of many farmers in Ha Noi's Dac So Commune in Hoai Duc District have changed thanks to the money they make from selling Phat thu (Buddha's Hand fruit). As the Tet (Lunar New Year) nears, growers busy cutting the fruit predict a bumper crop.
Phat thu, or finger citron, is the unusual, finger-shaped fruit that resembles the hand of Buddha. Trees yield all-year round, but is sought-after about a month before Tet for putting on altars in homes and pagodas.
The bright yellow fruit symbolises happiness, longevity and good fortune.
Situated near the Day river, Dac So Commune has alluvial land highly suited to Phat thu cultivation. Nguyen Van Hung, 27, recalled that the plots were planted out with vegetables, but they brought little income. "Most residents changed to this fruit because it has far more value," he said.
"With five sao of land , equivalent to 18,000 square metres, of plant cultivated I expect to make VND200 million (US$9,302) from selling this year," he said.
He added that he decided to quit his job as a printing technician with a monthly salary of VND5 million ($232) to start growing the plant two years ago.
"I saw the lives of many local growers change after planting the fruit. They built big houses and many are now rich," he said. "I also want to have a better life. My parents borrowed VND300 million ($14,000) from a bank to invest in the cultivation and I paid back the loan last month. After Tet , I intend to expand cultivation.
"I believe that I will soon have money to build a big house," the young man smiled. "All the plant growers are very grateful to Nguyen Van Thiet, 57, who first planted Buddha's Hand fruit here 13 years ago," Hung said.
Thiet said that years ago he worked as a fruit seller in Ha Noi markets and made little money, even though he woke up early and worked hard. "I realised that people like to buy Buddha's Hand fruit for much higher prices than for mangoes or other edible fruit," he said.
"At that time I thought that if I could grow the plant myself, it would fetch high earnings. I searched for information from other sellers," he said. "In 2002, I travelled to northernmost Ha Giang Province to buy seedlings and learn how to grow them. I had to borrow VND73 million ($3,400) from relatives and friends to invest in seedlings, fertiliser and pesticides.
"I was worried so much because the seedling seller told me that growing the plant would be a risk, that I would earn no money if the trees bore few fruit, and that growing it was not easy," Thiet said. "But I decided to take the risk," he said.
Thiet harvested a crop after 20 months of cultivation. "I made enough from selling the first crop to pay the loan and cover other expenses," he said.
Thiet said that he now has an annual income of VND500 million ($23,000) to VND600 million ($28,000), excluding all costs for fertiliser and pesticides and rent for land, from his 1.6 acres orchard.
"Three years after I planted the trees, I had enough money to build a three-storey house and five years later, I constructed another ancient-style timber house," he said. "The income is 10 times higher than what I earned as a fruit seller."
However, it is not always easy to earn high income from Buddha-Hand fruit and some growers are struggling with their loans. Nguyen Van Doan, 48, mortgaged his land-use red book to a bank to borrow VND300 million ($14,000) three years ago.
"I rented land to grow the plant, however the land is obviously not suitable because the plants grow badly," Doan said. "And maybe my technical knowledge is insufficient. I am struggling with paying bank interest every month, but I will not quit and I will rent more suitable land to grow the special fruit," he said.
Doan is planting Canh orange trees together with the Buddha's Hand to get more income. The thin and tired man let out a sigh when looking at the fruit on neighbouring plots and resumed his work.
"To earn high income, growers must spend a lot of effort to tend the crops. They must love, understand and take care of the plants every day," Thiet said, adding that farmers must be meticulous in watering and fertilising to grow the best-looking fruit.
"Even though growing the plant requires patience and hard-working and seems risky, I believe that the number of plant growers in the commune is increasing thanks to its high income," he said.
Nguyen Thi Huong, chairperson of Dac So Commune, agreed with Thiet. "In 2010 we had 50 hectares of the plant under cultivation and the land doubled in 2013," Huong said, adding that 600 out of 1,100 local households in the commune now grew Buddha's Hand trees.
Huong added that some growers were unsuccessful, largely becuase their land was not suitable. "They are now hiring land in neighboring communes, including Yen So and Phuong Cach communes, to grow the plant," she said.
Dac So's Phat thu is delivered across the country. Huong said cultivation was quickly expanding because supply had still not met demand.
And, for those wondering, Buddha's Hand fruit, a type of citrus, is not edible. However, it does make a potent cough medicine.
Dong Nai hits $200m trade surplus in Jan
The southern province of Dong Nai posted a trade surplus of approximately US$200 million in January, the latest report by the provincial People's Committee revealed.
During the month, the province exported about $1.1 billion worth of goods, up 11 per cent from the same time last year.
Of the total provincial export turnover, the foreign-invested sector accounted for the largest share at 82.7 per cent or $910 million. The private sector came second with 13.8 per cent or $152 million.
Export items that recorded positive growth included rubber (up 142 per cent); cashew nuts (58 per cent); pepper (47 per cent); footwear (31 per cent) and textiles and garments (11.4 per cent).
Meanwhile, the province's imports topped $889 million, surging 10 per cent year-on-year, with major imports including chemicals, dress materials, footwear, machine and equipment, steel and iron, as well as pharmaceuticals.
Dong Nai forecast that its export turnover this year will surge 15 per cent year-on-year to touch $14.4 billion, almost doubling from the figure reported in 2010.
Last year, the province reported a record export value of more than $13 billion, surpassing the set target by $500 million and posting a 19 per cent year-on-year jump, according to the provincial Department of Industry and Trade.
So far, the locality's biggest importers are the United States, Japan, South Korea and China, it said, adding that local exporters have successfully forayed into several new markets, including Greece, Uruguay, Sweden, Colombia, Switzerland, Slovakia and Israel.
The province also enjoyed a trade surplus of nearly $500 million in 2014.
Tet goods exported to overseas VN
.Several Vietnamese producers are exporting a variety of traditional Tet goods to the diaspora living in many parts of world.
A banh chung (square glutinous rice cakes) business called Tran Gia in the southern Dong Nai Province has exported 40 tonnes to nearly 10 countries this year. It has also shipped more than 20 tonnes of materials used to wrap banh chung such as dong (phrynium) leaves, sticky rice, moulds, and spices.
Canada is the biggest market for its banh chung, importing around 15 tonnes, followed by Australia with more than seven tonnes, Toan said.
The main export to the US is of banh chung materials, he said.
He had to turn down many export orders this year since he was afraid the orders cannot be fulfilled.
Phan Quoc Nam, director of Long Uyen in Tien Giang Province's Chau Thanh District, said his company had exported about 20 tonnes of banh tet (cylindrical glutinous rice cake), sweet potatoes, and frozen fruits and vegetables.
He said banh tet, a specialty of the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta, is liked by many overseas Vietnamese.
To export to the EU, the company had to strictly control quality and follow the requirements set by the importing markets, he said.
A producer of banh tet and coconut cakes in Ben Tre Province said his business has 20-30 contracts to export 10,000-30,000 cakes this Tet.
Other companies like Vinamit Joint Stock Company, Tan Dong Trade Production Co, and Huong Canh Co have also undertaken exports of Tet goods.
Tran Thanh Phu, director of Tan Dong, said his company got more orders than last year, mainly for banh chung weighing 0.5-1 kilogramme.
It had exported two tonnes of banh chung to the EU besides other glutinous rice cakes, dried foods, La Ba bananas and other products, he said.
Vinamit said it had completed shipments of dried fruits to China, Cambodia and Laos.
Tri Duc Food Company based in HCM City said it had exported around 20 tonnes of jams made from ginger, sweet potato, lotus seed, custard apple, and tomato to the US, EU and some Asian countries.
Besides cakes and jams, businesses have also exported dozens of tonnes of cat ear mushroom, vermicelli, and rice paper.
In order for the country to sustain its exports, food hygiene and safety must be a top priority during the production, preservation, and transport stages, Toan and other producers said.
Several local food exporters hope to earn a reputation for quality during the holiday season so that they can increase exports through the year.
Analysts said businesses should focus on expanding scale, improving product design, and building brands for their products to expand exports.
Exports to Hong Kong, Macau grow high
Vietnam’s exports to China’s special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau grew impressively last year, said Hoang Chi Trung, Consul General to Hong Kong and Macau.
Bilateral relations between Vietnam and Hong Kong were negatively affected by China’s illegal deployment of the oil rig Haiyang Shiyou 981 in Vietnam’s Exclusive Economic Zone and continental shelf. However, the two sides have made significant effort to improve bilateral trade value. Vietnam’s exports to Hong Kong hit US$5.2 billion last year, a year-on-year rise of nearly 26.7%. Meanwhile, exports to Macau increased by 17.4% and the number of Vietnamese migrant workers in Macau was also on the rise.
Hong Kong has invested US$3 billion in 99 projects in Vietnam, ranking second among 60 countries and territories directly investing in the country.
After the oil rig Haiyang Shiyou 981 incident, the number of Hong Kong visitors to Vietnam declined significantly, but it has resumed since late 2014.
Trung said this year Hong Kong still serves as a gateway for Vietnamese products to penetrate many countries in the word and remains the leading trade partner of Vietnam.
Besides taking part in relevant seminars, conferences and fairs in Hong Kong and Macau, Vietnam will create a niche for its businesses to access Hong Kong, Macau and other international partners and find outlets for Vietnamese products.
Trung revealed that nearly 100 businesses from Hong Kong and Macau will visit HCM and Danang cities in April to seek cooperative opportunities.
Harmon Group to anchor mega project in HCM City
British Hong Kong based-Hamon Investment Group and Son Kim Land Corp have signed a joint venture deal to construct a US$100 million luxury residential real estate project to be located in District 2 of HCM City.
The agreement signed on February 12 provides for a high-end project – Gateway Thao Dien – to include a total of 546 condominiums and apartments along with a hotel that will be managed in accordance with international ‘five-star’ standards by Hamon Investment Group.
Units in the project will go on sale later this year and it is expected to be completed in the third quarter of 2017.
In reference to the project, Huge Simon, executive director of Hamon Investment Group highlighted the projects investment potential for homeowners, underscoring his opinion that the Vietnam residential real estate market is on its way to recovery in 2015.
‘Doing Business with Vietnam’ seminar opens in India
On February 12, Vietnam Ambassador to India Ton Sinh Thanh welcomed over 100 delegates to a joint interactive seminar held in India on ‘Doing Business with Vietnam’.
The event was led by the Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) and its General Director Ajay Sahai.
Speaking at the event, Sahai underscored the point that Vietnam situated in the heart of Southeast Asia offers ideal advantages for economic development and is a gateway for India businesses to the ASEAN market.
Indian JetAirways has also recently established a new route from Mumbai and New Delhi to Ho Chi Minh City that will greatly facilitate trade Sahai said noting it is also expected to stimulate tourism between the two nations.
Vietnam Ambassador Thanh in turn answered questions of those participating in the seminar, helping them understand more about opportunities and the business climate in the nation.
Currently Indian businesses have invested US$258 million in 85 projects in Vietnam, Thanh said, adding that the two trade volume between the nations has been forecast to hit US$7 billion in 2015.
The seminar offered an expert panel of speakers who gave their insights into the practicalities, opportunities and challenges of doing business with Vietnam with particular focus on the manufacturing and technology sectors.