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BUSINESS IN BRIEF 2/11

 VN Motor Show revs up record new car sales; Banks quizzed over interest rates; MoF explores import tariff increase; HCMC enjoys trade surplus in ten months; Experts optimistic at mobile marketing

Vietnam remains attractive business location, says Singapore

Vietnam is still a very attractive location to do business and multinational corporations such as Samsung, Intel, Hewlett-Packard and Rebisco have recently made large-scale investments in the country, remarked some presenters at a forum held in Singapore on Oct. 30.

Dr. Francis Hutchinson, coordinator of the Vietnam Forum, held in Singapore on Oct. 30 by the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS) under the theme “Emerging Business Opportunities”, said in his concluding remarks that some presentations pointed to Vietnam’s advantages as being well-located to act as a transport hub, linking mainland Southeast Asia and southern China with the eastern part of Southeast Asia, and regulatory changes in relations to legal recognition of the private sector and greater openness to trade and investment.

About 100 participants from government agencies, academia, international financial institutions and the private sector shared views on Vietnam’s outlooks in the changing global political and economic landscape; explored trade and investment opportunities from the perspectives of Vietnam and foreign countries; and exchanged experiences and ideas of various socio-economic issues in conjunction with increasing business activities and connectivity in the country.

According to Dr. Francis Hutchinson, presenters also raised recommendations to Vietnam, including state-owned enterprise reform, greater transparency in regulation, increasing the quality of post-secondary education and strategic pursuit of free trade agreements.

In the view of Dr. Aekapol Chongvilaivan, fellow of Regional Economic Studies Programme of ISEAS, to further promote fruits of the Vietnam – Singapore Industrial Parks (VSIP) which are not only the hallmark of the two countries’ economic relations but also a success story of Singapore’s regionalisation strategies, the Government of Singapore should render more assistance by providing training equipment to the Vietnam – Singapore Vocational College (VSVC) and educating VSVC staff.

He added that the Government of Vietnam should build up business environment conducive to global investors, continue financial market reform that effectively builds up efficiency and private sector participation, and solve some social issues relating to poor education system and income disparities.

Assistant Professor Vu Minh Khuong of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, told Vietnam News Agency’s Singapore-based reporter that speakers at the Vietnam Forum all put forward ideas meaningful for Vietnam and Singapore to study in order to elevate bilateral relations.-

Vietnamese businesses praised for dynamism

Vice President of the Berlin Chamber of Commerce and Industry Stephan Schwarz has said that Vietnamese businesses in Berlin are one of the most dynamic communities in the city.

He made the remark at a Berlin-Ho Chi Minh City conference focusing on infrastructure held in Ho Chi Minh City on October 30.

According to Schwarz, there are now 1,734 Vietnamese companies in Berlin, mostly operating in retailing, hotel and services sectors. They account for 4.5 percent of the number of foreign businesses in the city and constitute the fifth largest foreign business community.

Mayor of Berlin Klaus Wowereit, who is on a working visit to Vietnam, expressed his belief that this conference will contribute to boosting the cooperation between the two cities, and help the business communities of Germany and Vietnam seek partners and share experience.

Director of Ho Chi Minh City Transport Department Tat Thanh Cang stated that the city is shifting its economic structure towards trade-services-new technology application. Therefore, its infrastructure should be also upgraded to protect the environment and eco-system and reduce gas emissions.

He called on German businesses to participate in the fields of infrastructure and science and technology.-

VN Motor Show revs up record new car sales

Over 200 cars were sold at this year's Viet Nam Motor Show, the largest number of new car deals in a single fair since the first show was held in 2005, organisers said.

Mercedes-Benz was the top selling brand with over 100 cars sold at the show, followed by compatriot Audi with 28 cars sold, Land Rover with 15 units and BMW with 12.

The five-day show, which ended on Sunday, also attracted a record number of visitors, with a total of 153,300 people attending and 50,000 on the final day of the exhibition.

The show, held in HCM City, attracted eight domestic and seven international car brands, the largest ever number of participants in a car show in Viet Nam.

First timers to the show included Lexus and Infiniti, the luxury brands for Japanese auto giants Toyota and Nissan, respectively.

Lexus models worth billions of dong were on display, including the RX350, GX460, LX570 and ES250; alongside Infinity models QX70 and QX80.

UK's luxury giant Land Rover introduced high end models, including the Range Rover Evoque, new Range Rover and the new Range Rover Sport.

The show also featured flagship Audi models including the R8 Spyder 5.2 V10 quattro and the R8 Coupe 5.2 V10 quattro.

Mercedes-Benz boasted its lead in Viet Nam's luxury car sector; displaying ten high-end models at the event, according to organisers.

According to the Viet Nam Automobile Manufacturer Association (VAMA), car makers in Viet Nam sold a combined 9,785 units in September, up 24 per cent on the previous month and 28 per cent over same period last year. Of the figure, 4,070 units were cars and 5,715 units were trucks, up 32 per cent and 19 per cent month-on-month, respectively.

In a statement released earlier this month, VAMA said that if the recovery continued, the association would maintain its forecast of 109,000 units for the year compared with the original forecast of 100,000.

Meanwhile, Viet Nam imported 3,000 CBU (complete built unit) cars worth US$58 million in October, according to the General Department of Customs.

The figure brought the total of car imports in the first ten months of the year to 28,000 units worth $551 million, up 30.1 per cent in quantity and 12.9 per cent in value over the same period last year.

Banks quizzed over interest rates

Lending rates have struggled to gain momentum despite lower interest rates significantly beneficial to commercial banks.

The issue stirred debate at a forum to review the State Bank of Viet Nam (SBV)'s policies for the 2011-13 period, held in Ha Noi yesterday.

Nguyen Xuan Thanh, director of the Fulbright Economics Teaching Programme in HCM City said their survey of commercial banks showed that the yearly lending rate was between 12-13 per cent.

ANZ figures revealed that 20 per cent of loans were at interest rates higher than 13 per cent.

Thanh said that despite the annual deposit rate being 7.5 per cent and lending rates between 12-13 per cent, the 6-7 per cent difference was considered to be excessive compared with the normal 3-4 per cent.

However, Le Xuan Nghia, director of the Business Development Institute said the difference was not high.

A recent survey from the National Financial Supervision Commission (NFSC) at eight big banks showed that the difference between the mobilising and lending rates was 4.3-4.5 per cent a year, and the highest level of 5 per cent in some banks.

The disparity suggested the lending rate sharply reduced while the mobilising rate had not lowered, Nghia said.

Truong Van Phuoc, NFSC's vice chairman, said figures from some banks showed the difference was only 2.8 per cent a year.

Phuoc said the difference could not be calculated by deducting the lending rate from the mobilising rate and needed to factor in administrative and management costs.

The difference would be between 1.3-1.8 per cent a year or even 1 per cent if we took into account the above mentioned costs, he said.

SBV Deputy Governor Dao Minh Tu said the central bank had to complete its own assessments on the issue.

Our calculations showed that the difference at commercial banks was much lower than the figures released by experts, Tu said.

Pham Xuan Hoe, deputy head of the SBV's Monetary Policies Department agreed, saying that the difference in the whole banking system was 3 per cent, not 5-6 per cent.

Hoe added that if the difference was high, banks' profits announced on the stock market would be surely huge.

Statistics from the central bank showed the mobilising rate of credit institutions which offered no-terms or terms less than 1 month were 1-1.2 per cent while those more than 12 month were 7.5-9 per cent a year. However, the policies have been produced encouraging results and helped stabilise the economy.

MoF explores import tariff increase

The Ministry of Finance (MoF) has called for submissions from Government agencies on a proposal to raise import tariffs in line with the nation's World Trade Organisation (WTO) commitments.

In a move that could also provide a boost to domestic production, the ministry is expected to increase import tariffs for around 462 product lines, while tariffs on the remaining 2,963 products will not change; including products from the agriculture, forestry and fisheries sectors.

Taxes on imported materials able to be produced in Viet Nam, will increase 2-3 per cent, in a bid to encourage local production and rein in the nation's trade deficits.

The proposal will also see import duties raised from zero to 3 per cent on some crude minerals that are imported or mined for immediate export; to encourage onshore processing and the use of domestic minerals.

Tax rates below the ceiling rates stipulated in the nation's looming WTO commitments will also be adjusted between 0.5 and 1 per cent, while taxes for products on the import quota list will be increased 5-10 per cent to lift the nation's balance of trade.

MoF commented that the changes would not affect business operations in Viet Nam and would allow the country to meet its WTO commitments by 2014.

The reforms will also align with the tax framework regulated by the National Assembly Standing Committee.

JICA and Government agencies discuss reform projects

The Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA) is currently in talks with the Ministry of Finance (MoF) over a new joint project to assist the restructure of State-owned enterprises (SOEs).

The organisation also confirmed talks with the State Bank of Viet Nam over the restructuring of the banking sector were ongoing and included the provision of technical support.

Both projects are still under consideration, with no immediate plans to sign cooperation agreements this month, JICA confirmed.

The two latest projects will provide crucial assistance to the Government to develop policy and build capacity to reform lagging SOEs and restructure the banking sector.

In a press release issued yesterday, JICA said what recently published in some local newspapers of the organisation's concrete commitment to restructure Viet Nam's bad debts were not correct.

HCMC enjoys trade surplus in ten months

Ho Chi Minh City’s total import-export turnover in the past ten months is estimated at US$43.36 billion, according to the Municipal Department of Customs.

Of the total figure, 10-month export earnings hit US$21.76 billion, leading to a trade surplus of US$160 million.

The export value of shipments in October alone accounted for US$2.2 billion.

Among export commodities seeing their highest growth were computers, electronic products and components (up 17%) and textiles (1.6%).

Ho Chi Minh City’s imports hit US$2.3 billion in October, rising 7.8% over the previous month and 15% compared to a year earlier.

HCM City Exchange joins World Federation

The HCM City Stock Exchange (HOSE) was officially welcomed as a new member of the World Federation of Exchanges, at the federation's annual meeting held in Mexico on October 30.

The World Federation of Exchanges, established in 1960, is one of the world's biggest associations in the financial sector with 62 official members, 17 affiliates and 27 correspondent members.

The federation aims to enhance the accuracy of market statistics, improve transparency and efficiency, while promoting inter-market trade.

A HOSE representative said the membership will provide opportunities to strengthen stock markets in Vietnam.

Vietnam's stock market is currently classified as a frontier market according to some stock market indices such as FTSE and MSCI. Officials said this classification has negatively affected the inflow of the foreign capital.

Officials hope the membership will improve the credibility of Vietnamese stock markets among investors, and show when relevant standards are being met.

Stock exchange experts also said the world federation will help enhance the value of HCM City-listed stocks and attract more foreign capital.

Bulgarian firms eager to invest in Vietnam

Bulgarian enterprises stay ready to invest and cooperate with Vietnamese partners, said President Rosen Plevneliev at the Vietnam-Bulgaria Business Forum in Ho Chi Minh City on October 30.

Addressing the event, the Bulgarian President, who is paying a State visit to Vietnam, lauded the organisation of the forum and said that the traditional relation and mutual understanding between Vietnam and Bulgaria will pave the way for the lifting of bilateral cooperation in the coming time.

Vietnam can be a bridge linking Bulgaria and Southeast Asian countries, while Bulgaria will help Vietnam penetrate EU market, he added.

The leader also pledged to share with Vietnam the country’s experience in energy, health care, education and environment areas.

A representative from the Bulgaria Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI), co-organiser of the event, said the country is now strongly developing the infrastructure of industrial zones, and improving its policies and incentives to lure investment.

According to the BCCI, Vietnam and Bulgaria can boost cooperation in healthcare, pharmaceuticals, ecological agriculture, IT, telecommunication, clean energy, and personnel training in atomic energy.

The Foreign Investment Agency introduced Bulgarian businesses to Vietnam’s advantages in manpower, rich natural resources, and open policies for foreign investors.

Deputy Chairman of HCM City People’s Committee Le Manh Ha said two way trade between Vietnam and Bulgaria was worth US$60 million last year and Bulgarian enterprises are now investing in seven projects in Vietnam, with total capital worth US$30 million.

He said the figure is still very modest in comparison with the two countries’ cooperation potentials. He urged businesses from Vietnam and Bulgaria to grasp the occasion offered at the forum to exchange information and promote cooperation and investment in the time to come.

Japanese-funded safe vegetable model targets expansion

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Cao Duc Phat has asked the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to continue funding the safe vegetable growing model in northern Hung Yen province to help growers develop a consumer-driven production network.

Phat made the request when inspecting the model in Yen Phu commune with Chief Representative of JICA Office in Vietnam Mutsuya Mori on October 29.

With funding from the Japanese Government, which was channeled through the JICA, the project has been implemented since 2010.

Under the project, the benefiting 40 households have been provided with seeds, biological fertilisers and pesticides, standard growing techniques as well as capital to build facilities to treat wastes stemming from the growing.

The model helps change farmers’ awareness in producing vegetables that meet food safety standards for customers.

Japanese businesses seek investment cooperation in Ha Nam

Representatives from 60 Japanese enterprises operating in various sectors made a fact-finding tour of the northern province of Ha Nam on October 30 to seek investment opportunities.

At a working session with leaders of the provincial People’s Committee, Kohei Watanabe, Chairman of the Mekong-Japan Cooperation Committee, said the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI) are encouraging and assisting small and medium-sized enterprises to invest in Asian developing countries, including Vietnam.

He said the strategy is expected to help both Japanese investors and local businesses in the countries to develop.

Watanabe spoke of increased Japanese investments in Vietnam and Ha Nam province in particular, saying that he hopes through the visit, Japanese businesses will get better their understanding on the province’s investment attraction policies and environment, paving the way for future specific cooperation projects.

Mai Tien Dung, Chairman of the Ha Nam People’s Committee, reiterated the province’s commitments as well as preferences it will offer to Japanese enterprises.

Ha Nam pledges to provide sufficient electricity and human resources to the firms, while streamlining administrative procedures and accelerating the construction of facilities serving Japanese staff’s essential needs, he said.

The province has made necessary preparations for infrastructure construction to welcome Japanese businesses, especially those in the support industry, he added.

On the same day, the delegation visited the Dong Van Industrial Park and met with representatives of Japanese businesses here.

Currently, as many as 41 Japanese enterprises are operating in the province.

South Africa views Vietnam as potential trade partner

South Africa considers Vietnam as a promising market for further cooperation in economics, trade and tourism.

At an investment and trade seminar in Can Tho City on October 30, Dao Anh Dung, Vice Chairman of the Municipal People's Committee noted Vietnam-South Africa relations have developed well over the years, particularly in politics,  diplomacy, economy, culture, education, and national defense.

Vietnam’s export value to South Africa hit US$630 million in 2012 while imports reached US$120 million.

Adriaan du Pisanie, the First Secretary of the South African Embassy in Vietnam, said South Africa is leading developing countries in infrastructure construction and services,  particularly in road, port and ship building, banking systems, and telecommunications technology.

He added South Africa is the world’s largest producer of platinum and gold mining and has the advantage of ecological and archaeological tourism. Its spearhead economic sector includes mines and minerals.

South Africa has strong economic potential in the fields of agricultural product processing, automobile industry, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, biotechnology, metallurgy, textiles, leather shoe making, and electronic technology.

So far, the country has launched promotional programmes for foreign investors including Industrial Development Zone (IDZ), Critical Infrastructure Programme (CIP), Technology and Human Resources for Industry Programme (THRIP) and National Industrial Participation Programme (NIPP).

Vietnamese businesses thrive in Berlin

Vietnam is one of Berlin’s big trade partners in Asia and the wider world and Vietnamese businesses are emerging as one of the most dynamic communities in Berlin.

This evaluation was made by Stephan Schwarz, Vice Chairman of the Berlin Chamber of Industry and Commerce at the Berlin-HCM City Conference on October 30.

Stephan said around 1,734 Vietnamese businesses are operating in Berlin, accounting for 4.5% of the total foreign businesses in the city. Among 16 major fields they involve, the retail sector makes up nearly 50%, hotels 31.2%, and other services 16.1%.

Cooperation in infrastructure products and health care has brought many mutual benefits and has great potential for further exploitation.

At the conference, Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit said although many European countries have yet to get out of the woods yet, Germany has maintained economic and social stability, with capital Berlin taking the lead.

Berlin is considered an attractive investment destination thanks to advantages in transport, modern infrastructure, and efficient and economical energy use..

In addition, the city is strong in many other fields, such as health care, energy technology, optics, transportation, logistics, information and communications technology (ICT), and innovation.

Klaus expressed his hope that the conference will help promote cooperation between the two cities as well as two business communities.

Tat Thanh Cang, Director of HCM City Department of Transport, said HCM City is restructuring its economy towards trade, services, and new technological application. Thus, infrastructure must be improved in line with protecting the environment, reducing gas emissions and effectively using natural resources towards sustainable development.

HCM City encourages Berlin businesses to invest in infrastructure and science and technology, Cang said

Currently, German businesses not only invest in HCM City but also support the city in developing banking-finance and technology transfer.

Some typical cooperative projects are underway in the city, such as the Vietnam-Germany University, Germany International School, German House and a Metro line.

Entrepreneur forum helps strengthen Vietnam-Canada trade

Around 200 representatives from the Canada-Vietnam Friendship Association, the Canada-Vietnam Trade Council and overseas Vietnamese businesses attended a forum held in Toronto, Canada, on October 28.

Addressing the event, held by the Vietnamese Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) and the Vietnamese Embassy in Canada, Vietnamese Ambassador To Anh Dung praised the efforts made by Overseas Vietnamese entrepreneurs to boost the two countries’ trade and investment ties.

He affirmed that despite their geographic distance, the two countries have considerable potential for intensifying cooperation.

Deputy Director of MoIT’s Department for European Markets Nguyen Duc Thuong stressed the State’s policy of creating favourable conditions for OV entrepreneurs to do business in their homeland.

Delegates expressed their hope that similar activities will be held to connect and support the Vietnamese business community at home and abroad in the future.

Homebuyers besiege project owner on belated handover

Around 100 homebuyers of the My Phu apartment project in HCMC’s District 7 once again rushed to the head office of Petrocapital and Infrastructure Investment Joint Stock Company (Petroland) on Tuesday to ask the company to continue executing the project as committed.

One member from the group said that Petroland as the project owner in a meeting held earlier had agreed to let customers pay money through a bank account so that it could continue the project’s construction, with the disbursement supervised by the customers.

However, these people informed that Petroland had not lived up to its promise in executing the project. After hours without seeing the project owner, the group blockaded the building causing elevators at the main hall to stop operation.

Under the agreement between Petroland and customers, the company should have delivered homes last year but the scheme has yet to be completed while certain homebuyers had reportedly paid up to 70% of the apartment’s value.

Petroland’s failure in making timely handovers of nearly 300 units is ascribed to financial constraints.

This is the sixth time that the homebuyers have come and asked Petroland to make delivery. They once broke the glass of the building and then were locked in a floor forcing competent authorities to intervene.

Mercedes-Benz showcases newest lineup in Vietnam

Luxury car manufacturer Mercedes-Benz is introducing its youngest line-up with many models at the Vietnam Motor Show, which is taking place in HCMC from October 23 to 27.

With the largest booth of 600 square meters at the Saigon Exhibition and Convention Center (SECC) in District 7, Mercedes-Benz showcases 10 new cars. All of them are new makes launched in the second half of 2013, including the new Edition C, A-Class, E-Class, GLK, ML Diesel, GL and S-Class.

With the new car series displayed under the concept of ‘Vision Accomplished’, the automaker continues to strengthen its leading position and sets the pace for the future of Vietnam’s luxury auto industry.

“We are the fastest growing premium brand, up to 70% in comparison with last year. We have a market share of about 60% (for the luxury segment). We are No.1 when it comes to after-sales satisfaction according to independent auditors,” said Michael Behrens, CEO of Mercedes-Benz Vietnam, adding “and now we offer the youngest line-up of any manufacturer at the Motor Show.”

The new C-Class makes its debut at this year’s Motor Show. The C-Class once again proves its characteristics as the best-selling luxury sedan in Vietnam targeting young successful customers.

The company also introduces two new gasoline variants of the SUV line GLK, namely the GLK 250 and the GLK 250 AMG, equipped with a highly efficient 2.0-liter engine. GLK is the optimal choice for young families, said Behrens.

Meanwhile, the GL 500 attracts much attention of visitors. Considered as “the S-Class of the SUV world”, the new GL has won many titles, including "Golden steering wheel 2012" from AutoBild magazine, “SUV of the year 2013” from MotorTrend magazine, and “The best SUV of 2013” from Autoweek magazine.

The automobile company also announces the launch of its new GL 400 and ML 400. Both possess the V6 turbocharged engine, which will help GL and ML fill any gap in the luxury SUV segment.

Meanwhile, the new S-Class is the first car in the world not using any normal light bulbs. Every bulb in the new S-Class is a LED that should last several lifetimes of the car.

The new S-Class possesses a series of avant-garde technologies and deluxe functions, such as “hot stone” massage with six different modes. In addition, the air balance system package with two helpful functions (air purifying and ion balancing) lets passengers quickly recover from stress. The price of this premium car announced at the Motor Show is VND4.639 billion, with delivery starting December.

To make itself stand out, Mercedes-Benz has set up its booth with modern luxury design language, emphasizing the beauty from the contrast between the two colors white and black, and between curves and sharp cubes.

Mercedes-Benz has applied advanced technology in booth design. The cars stand out before a black background, with the contour LEDs inspired by the Ambient Lighting system of the flagship S-Class with its seven-color passive lights.

On this occasion, customers who buy any AMG variant of Mercedes-Benz are offered an AMG performance voucher to an exclusive advanced training course on the Bira International Circuit race track with the Mercedes-Benz Driving Academy Thailand in January 2014.

Experts optimistic at mobile marketing

Many experts still expressed optimistic viewpoint towards mobile marketing service in the future as the number of mobile subscribers will increase strongly, though mobile ad revenue remains modest now.

Speaking at the MMA Forum Vietnam 2013 organized by Mobile Marketing Association and Goldsun Focus Media on Wednesday, Aaron Boekestein, industry head of New Media Solutions in Southeast Asia of Google Asia-Pacific, said that the number of smart-phone users in Vietnam has made up 20% of population.

Consumers are changing behaviors, preferring to use many devices at the same time with cell-phones playing the key role.

According to a survey of Google, up to 92% of consumers use cell-phones while watching TV, listening to music or playing games. Many people use smart-phones to surf the internet instead of desktops, Boekestein said.

A smart phone is considered as a strong connecting device as it can display all media channels. Many technology firms such as Google and Facebook are believed to earn huge profits from advertisements on mobile devices such as smart-phones and tablets.

To better mobile marketing effects, experts said that enterprises should connect it with advertising on other channels.

Nguyen Cuu Long, vice president of Goldsun Focus Media, said that thanks to advanced technology, mobile devices have turned more interactive with customers and become an attractive advertising channel.

Data show that Vietnam has nearly 20 million Internet users via smart-phones with nearly one billion accesses each month. In Hanoi and HCMC, up to 80% of Internet accesses are made with smart-phones.

However, mobile marketing has generated modest revenue compared to total earnings of the market.

According to Kantar Media Vietnam, Vietnam’s total advertising revenue via means of media reached nearly VND18 trillion in 2012. In the first half of this year, the figure was nearly VND11 trillion of which TV advertising made up 92%.

There has been no official data of mobile marketing sales, but experts estimated the figure at less than 1% of total revenue of the advertising market. Meanwhile, TV advertising is expected to decline while digital marketing, especially mobile marketing, will increase strongly in the coming time.

Phan Dang Tra My, managing director of Admico Company, said that around 120 brands in Vietnam have launched mobile marketing.

Anuj Khanna Sohum, chairman of Affle Company, a Singapore-based mobile marketing service firm, told the Daily on the sidelines of the forum that it is more interested in the local market now.

Early this month, Affle spent US$3.3 million on establishment of Affle M2X Fund to support small and medium-sized enterprises in launching mobile marketing. The fund will sponsor half of mobile marketing expenses of enterprises who use this advertising service for the first time.

Firms in joint effort to fight fake crop protection products

CropLife Vietnam and its six member companies, Arysta LifeScience, BASF, Bayer, Dow AgroSciences, DuPont and Syngenta, have launched a joint project to prevent counterfeit crop protection products.

CropLife Vietnam will use its own budget to implement the anti-counterfeit project, said Nguyen Ngoc Vinh, a member of the project.

CropLife Vietnam will make manuals and CDs, and hold workshops for farmers to raise their awareness of counterfeit and substandard products that imitate products of CropLife Vietnam’s member companies.

CropLife Vietnam in coordination with the Plant Protection Department of the agriculture ministry will hold Stewardship Day 2013 today in six Mekong Delta provinces – An Giang, Can Tho, Dong Thap, Kien Giang, Long An and Tien Giang. The event aims to boost the effective and responsible use of crop protection products among farmers.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has recently asked provinces and cities to inspect all companies trading crop protection items.

In Dispatch No. 3723, the ministry states that there are many counterfeit crop protection products.

Therefore, provinces and cities are required to collect and analyze samples, fine companies selling substandard and counterfeit products, and recall ones bearing wrong labels.

Previously, to prevent products from being imitated, a foreign-invested crop protection company has distributed products directly to agents rather than via a local company. However, local crop protection firms have yet to take similar action to protect their brands.

According to statistics of the Vietnam Pesticide Association (VIPA) released in May 2012, seven foreign-invested companies hold around 50% market share of crop protection products and 300 local ones the rest.

HCM City cooperates with Osaka in emission reduction

HCMC and its sister city Osaka (Japan) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on cooperation in emission reduction on Monday during a visit of HCMC Chairman Le Hoang Quan to Osaka lasting until Friday.

In addition to the MOU, an investment and trade promotion conference between HCMC and Osaka was held on the same day with the participation of representatives of 120 enterprises.

Osaka’s vice mayor said that the Japanese city would offer credits when transferring knowledge, technology and the urban development-management system while HCMC would be in charge of building a suitable legal framework, according to a member of the HCMC delegation.

“Projects will be implemented under the public-private partnership (PPP) format and the two sides will have mayor-level dialogues every year to inspect projects. Besides, lower-level meetings will be held regularly during the implementation of projects,” said the source.

At the meeting between Quan and Governor of Osaka Prefecture Ichiro Matsui, the two sides discussed issues concerning urban environment. Matsui said Osaka would assist HCMC in reducing carbon emissions, especially in the transport and electricity sectors.

Besides, HCMC introduced its key industrial parks to potential Japanese investors at the conference, including Quang Trung Software City, HCMC Agricultural Hi-tech Park, Tay Bac, Le Minh Xuan 2 and Tan Phu Trung industrial parks.

At the conference, the investor of Le Minh Xuan Industrial Park and Japan’s Kobelco Eco Solution Co. signed a cooperation agreement and an investment certificate was granted to the Japan-Vietnam technological park.

French postal firm to deliver assistance to Vietnam

The Vietnam Post Corporation and the Lien Viet Post Joint Stock Commercial Bank (LienVietPostBank) have inked a Memorandum of Understanding with France’s La Poste Group, who will launch a comprehensive technical knowledge transfer.

The French side will provide consultancy to their Vietnamese partners on three main issues: the merger of administration models between the two Vietnamese partners, the design of the bank’s retail products and launching them to the market, and the building of model post offices within five years.

La Poste Group will send experienced experts to work with the Vietnamese organisations and host staff training programmes in France.-

Bac Lieu targets ‘clean' salt production

Bac Lieu Province, the largest salt producer in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta, plans to increase the production of so-called clean salt to help farmers get more profits.

Nguyen Hoang Khai, deputy head of the province's Rural Development Sub-department, said farmers had received instruction on advanced production techniques to apply during the 2012-13 salt season.

One of the techniques involves using plastic canvas sheets in fields to produce clean salt.

This technique has advantages of having a shorter production period, higher yield, whiter salt and less labour costs.

In the 2012-13 salt season, Bac Lieu has 2,660ha of salt with a total output of 138,642 tonnes, meeting more than 94 per cent of the province's target, according to the sub-department.

The area of salt fields that uses plastic canvas sheets to produce clean salt has increased to 62.6ha during the current salt season. Bac Lieu began using this method in 2008.

Bac Lieu farmers had a bad harvest during this salt season because of unusual rains during the middle and the end of this salt season.

The salt production season normally begins in December and lasts until the end of August.

In recent years, Bac Lieu authorities have invested more in infrastructure in salt production areas. Most salt producing communes now have electricity, clinics and paved roads.

In Dong Hai District, which is Bac Lieu's largest salt producer, 60 farmers were provided with training on how to use the plastic canvas sheets for clean salt production.

"Farmers now have awareness about the benefits of using this method," Khai said, referring to the province's Aquaculture and Agriculture Extension Centre's training programme.

In the 2013-14 salt season, the province targets increasing the area that uses plastic sheets to produce clean salt to 100ha, with an estimated yield of 52 tonnes per hectare.

To meet this target, local authorities will train more farmers in the proper usage of plastic sheets, Khai said.

Local agencies have asked the State Bank of Viet Nam's Bac Lieu Province branch to urge local banks to offer loans to farmers who use this method.

They have also asked the Provincial People's Committee to develop support policies for salt farmers when unseasonable rains destroy their harvest, he said.

Ten month FDI at US$19.23 billion

Newly registered and additional foreign direct investment capital touched US$19.23 billion in first ten months of the year, up 65.5 percent year-on-year, according to the Foreign Investment Agency under the Ministry of Planning and Investment.

By October 20, around 1,050 new projects were licensed across the country with registered investment capital of $13.07 billion, an increase of 79 percent compared to the same period last year.

393 existing projects also asked for an additional investment capital of $6.15 billion, up 42.5 percent year-on-year.

FDI projects have so far disbursed $9.58 billion out of $11 billion which is expected to be disbursed this year.

Among 52 nations and territories, Japan continued to be the biggest investor with $4.84 billion, accounting for 25.2 percent of total FDI capital; South Korea took second rank with $4.01 billion; and Singapore ranked third with $3.98 billion.

Industrial manufacturing index set to rise 5.9 percent in October

The index of industrial production (IIP) in October is estimated to edge up 5.9 percent compared to the same period last year.

Thus IIP in the first ten months of 2013 surged 5.4 percent year-on-year, with industrial processing and manufacturing contributing 4.9 percent, power generation and distribution ticking up 0.6 percent, water supply and waste and wastewater treatment inching up 0.1 percent, whereas mining lost 0.2 percent.

Some industries which saw a sharp increase in IIP in first ten months include  textiles; leather and leather products machinery; prefabricated metal products manufacturing excluding machinery; vehicle manufacturing; garments; water exploitation, treatment and supply; medicines and pharmaceutical chemicals.

Ho Chi Minh City saw IIP in the first ten months climb higher than the country’s average growth--at 5.9 percent; Dong Nai Province and Binh Duong Province both gained 7.6 percent; Hanoi City grew 4.45 percent; and Vinh Phuc and Quang Ngai Provinces posted an increase of 17 percent and 21.1 percent, respectively.

The inventory index of industrial processing and manufacturing by October of 1, 2013 soared 9.7 percent compared to the same period last year.

Vietnam warned over possible imbalance in electricity supply

While Vietnam exports energy, the country may face a serious power shortage in the next decades due to energy squandering and rising demand, experts warned.

Several energy experts discussed solutions to challenges to energy producers and sustainable development in Vietnam and in the world during an international exhibition on green, efficient energy, held in HCM City on October 25.

Currently demand for power is on the rise as a result of fast population growth and socio-economic development.

Lately, hydroelectricity development has saturated with a high-density of hydropower dams on major river systems. However only a few renewable energy sources have been developed in the country due to higher costs.

Energy experts estimated that the global energy demand would increase by 50% by the year 2050 and this would result in an imbalance of electricity supply and demand.

Vietnam’s energy demand is forecast to increase 15 fold during that same period. This means that the country may face power shortages in the future if it fails to issue sustainable energy development policies.

Cu Huy Quang, an expert in energy-saving from the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT)’s Energy General Department, predicted, “There would be a possible imbalance in energy supply and demand by 2020. By 2030, it’s highly likely that Vietnam will turn from an energy exporter to an energy importer."

He emphasised the necessity to work out smarter solutions to efficient energy management, especially in places with rapid urbanisation. It’s also important to improve awareness of saving energy, he said.

Nguyen Van Long, Deputy Director of the MoIT’s Department of Science, Technology and Energy Saving, said the lack of enough attention to energy efficiency would put pressure on the economy and worsen climate change and pollution.

Plant drug maker issues preferential shares to farmers

An Giang Plant Protection Joint Stock Company (AGPPS) last Friday announced to issue 2.48 million shares to farmers in the Mekong Delta to increase its chartered capital after delaying the plan on a number of occasions.

At the briefing at Dinh Thanh Agricultural Research Center in An Giang Province’s Thoai Son District, the company informed that more than 6,000 farmers who have collaborated with the company in developing large-scale rice field models since 2006 would be allowed to buy preferential shares at VND30,000 each, equivalent to half the current price of its shares on the market.

“Through share purchasing, local farmers will contribute capital to the firm to jointly do business and share profits as real business owners,” Huynh Van Thon, general director of AGPPS, said.

According to Thon, AGPPS dividends have always stayed at 30% annually in recent years, meaning farmers buying the company’s shares are expected to be subject to the same dividend payment. “Selling shares to farmers approved by the shareholders’ meeting in April is an important decision of AGPPS,” he insisted.

Besides issuing shares to farmers, the company has always accompanied farmers through different supporting programs over the last few years.

Established in 1993 with initial chartered capital of VND750 million and 23 workers, AGPPS equitized in 2004 and now has VND621 billion in chartered capital and more than 3,000 employees. Besides producing and supplying plant protection drugs, AGPPS is also the leading company in plant variety, rice processing and exports, paper package production and tourism at home.

AGPPS has already built and put into operation five rice processing mills in Chau Thanh and Thoai Son districts in An Giang, Vinh Hung District in Long An, Tan Hong District in Dong Thap and Hong Dan District in Bac Lieu. The enterprise is looking to complete and commission seven more rice processing factories with a designed capacity of 200,000 tons annually each and increase its rice growing area to 316,000 hectares by 2018.

Hanoi Telecom opens data center in city

Hanoi Telecom Corporation put into operation a data center in HCMC last week to expand its server leasing service in the southern market.

The data center of Hanoi Telecom in HCMC has an area of 150 square meters but can be expanded to 350 square meters and equipped with up to 120 racks. Regarding Internet infrastructure, the data center uses optical fiber technology and transmission network with a speed of 10Gbps.

Besides, the data center is equipped with the IP-KVM Switch enabling customers to interact with servers and monitor the problem-solving process from a distance.

Nguyen Anh Dung, director of Hanoi Telecom in HCMC, said that the launching of the data center aimed to meet the increasing demand of hiring servers in Vietnam, especially in the sector of financial-banking and communications and the governmental sector in southern provinces and cities.

According to Dung, the market of data center leasing in Vietnam is developing rapidly as the demand of enterprises is huge. Enterprises almost cannot afford to build a data center for themselves due to limited financial and technical capabilities and human resources.

The data center leasing market currently has the presence of many suppliers such as Viettel IDC, VDC, CMC Telecom and FPT Telecom.

Source: VEF/VNA/VNS/VOV/SGT/SGGP/Dantri/VIR

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