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BUSINESS IN BRIEF 2/12

EuroCham releases White Book on Vietnam trade, investment; Heavy investment poured into Dung Quat EZ; HCM City to host three int’l exhibitions and fairs; Nearly 25 million households access social policy bank loans; Vietjet considers going public

EuroCham releases White Book on Vietnam trade, investment

The European Union is committed to providing 400 million EUR for Vietnam over the next six years, according to the 2015 White Book on Trade, Investment Issues and Recommendations that was released in Hanoi on December 1.

The launch of the book, the seventh edition of its kind, is the end result of work conducted over the course of the year by the European Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam (EuroCham) and its members, to identify investment and trade issues affecting Vietnamese business climate and give recommendations.

The content of the book covers a number of major industries that EuroCham’s almost 800 members operate in, including agricultural business and food safety, banking and finance, fast-moving consumer goods, information technology, tourism and hospitality.

The book remarked that the EU is the second largest trade partner of Vietnam with a total trade of 24.2 billion EUR.

Over the last 12 months, EuroCham has observed and welcomed effort and reforms that have been initiated by the Vietnamese government, yet there is more to be done to both secure the achievements and realise further investment and trade in the market, its press release said.

The 2014-2015 World Economic Forum (WEF) report showed that Vietnam improved its overall global competitiveness ranking from 70th place to 68th this year.

Heavy investment poured into Dung Quat EZ

Three additional projects are expected to receive investment license to operate in Dung Quat Economic Zone (EZ) in central Quang Ngai province at the end of this year, with a total capitalization of more than VND4,000 billion.

Since the beginning of this year, the Quang Ngai provincial People’s Committee has licensed 10 new investment projects in Dung Quat EZ, with a combined registered capital of over VND1,000 billion.

Vice Chairman of the Quang Ngai provincial People’s Committee Pham Nhu So, who is also Head of the Dung Quat EZ management board, said nine investors with a total investment capitalization of US$130 million have registered to operate in VShip urban and industrial complex of Dung Quat EZ.

Three of these investors will complete building infrastructure by the year-end to start operation early 2015. They are the URC Central beverage from the Philippines, Xindadong garment from Taiwan and Kingmaker footwear from Hongkong.

HCM City to host three int’l exhibitions and fairs

Vietnam Expo 2014, Inter Cycle Vietnam and Turkish Products Expo will take place in Ho Chi Minh City from December 3 – 6.

A representative from the Vietnam National Trade Fair and Advertising Company (VINEXAD) said at a press briefing in HCM City on December 1 that Vietnam Expo 2014 will attract 426 companies from 16 countries and territories to showcase their products and services on 450 stands.

Particularly, among foreign participants, India, Taiwan, the Republic of Korea (RoK), China and Indonesia have been taken part in the annual event for 12 consecutive years.

Tseng Hsien Chao, Director of the Commercial Division, Taipei Economic and Cultural Office based in HCM City, said Vietnam is currently Taiwan’s 13th largest trade partner. Taiwanese firms attach much importance to trade exchange events like Vietnam Expo and consider it a good chance to introduce their products and seek cooperative opportunities.

Inter Cycle Vietnam held in the framework of Vietnam Expo attracts great attention from bike manufacturing and trading businesses, including renowned brand names like Vietbike, Thong Nhat, Shuaigete, Sune Electric, Fonix and others

The Turkish Products expo in Vietnam is a key component of Turkey’s national trade promotion programme. It serves as a bridge linking the two countries’ economies and culture.

More than 50 Turkish businesses and economic groups will introduce a wide range of products and services, such as machines and chemical, industrial and agricultural products, souvenirs, electrical equipment, electronic products, construction materials, automobiles, food and drinks and plastic ware.

Nearly 25 million households access social policy bank loans

The Vietnam Bank for Social Policies (VBSP) has provided preferential loans for around 24.8 million poor and near-poor families, allowing 3.2 million of them to escape from poverty.

A report on the bank’s nearly-12-year operation showed that it had a total credit balance worth 126.8 trillion VND (6 billion USD) by the end of October 2014. Its annual growth rate hits 29.4 percent on average in the reviewed period.

In its Instruction 40-CT/TW on enhancing the Party’s leadership over social policy-benefiting credits, the Party Secretariat requested enhancing the VBSP’s capacity and operation efficiency as the credits it offered have yet met actual needs.

Despite great achievements made during more than 20 years of renewal, Vietnam remains poor compared to other Asian countries.

Statistics show that the country’s annual per capita income in 2013 reached 2,960 USD, equivalent to 3.5 percent, 7.3 percent and 18.6 percent of the figures of Singapore, the Republic of Korea, and Malaysia, respectively.

Last year, nearly 1.8 million poor households and almost 1.4 million near-poor families were recorded in the country, requiring greater efforts in eradicating hunger, reducing poverty, and improving living standard for people.-

Belgium media introduce Vietnam’s investment climate

The largest French-language TV channel in Belgium, RTBF, aired a reportage on November 30 on the occasion of the cooperation between Walloon Region and Vietnam entering the 20th year.

The report recalled that Wallonia Export & Investment Agency (Awex)’s office in Vietnam was established in 1994 with the aim of promoting bilateral ties between the French-speaking community in Belgium and Vietnam, a member of the Francophone community.

The relations have expanded over time, the report said, highlighting a project in the medical sector under which the University of Liège ( ULg ) and the Ho Chi Minh City University of Medicine and Pharmacy had worked closely to train family doctors in Vietnam, boosting health care services in rural areas and reducing the burden of major hospitals.

In the field of economic ties, the TV footage cited the example of Sopura, a world leading provider of cleaning and disinfection solutions in the beverage and food industries, which has just invested a million EUR to build its plant in Vietnam.

Jean-Claude Marcourt, Minister of Economy and Foreign Affairs of Wallonia, encouraged investors to do business in the Southeast Asian nation due to its growth potential, abundant and low-cost human resources.

The TV report said Vietnam is among the most dynamic Asian countries and an ideal destination for foreign investors.-

Ministries shake hands in macro-economic management

Representatives of the Ministry of Planning and Investment, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the State Bank of Viet Nam on Monday in Ha Noi inked a regulation specifying their cooperation in macro-economic management and regulation.

The signing ceremony was witnessed by PM Nguyen Tan Dung and the Cabinet.

The regulation paves the way for the ministries to implement assigned tasks detailed in the PM’s Decision 1317/QD-TTg, dated August 6, 2013 approving scheme on reforming the coordinating mechanism in managing and controlling the macro-economy, especially for the policies of finance, monetary, credit, investment, trade and prices.  

On March 24, 2011, the PM instructed the Ministry of Planning and Investment to work with the Office of the Government and relevant ministries to compose a project on institutional reform and strengthening coordination in macro-economic management and regulation for the 2011-2020 period.

Tra fish diseases reported in delta

Diseases on tra fish in the year to date have been found in four Mekong Delta provinces of An Giang, Dong Thap, Vinh Long and Hau Giang with the affected area of 730 hectares, making up 12% of the total tra fish farming area.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, one of the main reasons behind the disease outbreak is the lack of funding for taking prevention measures. Besides, poor treatment of the water environment has also led to the spread of the diseases.

Van Thanh, a tra fish farmer in Dong Thap Province’s Chau Thanh District, said though it costs him a lot to buy medication for fish ponds, the affected area has still been widening.

The outbreaks are feared to adversely affect Vietnam’s tra fish exports given more stringent quality inspection criteria imposed by buyers.

The agriculture ministry said some major importers have applied many rules and barriers on Vietnam’s seafood export. In addition, many countries have sent inspection teams to Vietnam checking the processing facilities of local seafood exporters, food safety and disease control.

To cope with the situation, the ministry has issued a master plan on prevention and control of diseases on tra fish in the 2015-2020 period, aiming to conduct disease surveillance and control the use of antibiotics and vaccines in production facilities with funding from State and provincial budget.

Many luxury car purchase deals signed at motor show

Many visitors clinched contracts to buy luxury cars at a recent automobile exhibition taking place at the Saigon Exhibition and Conference Center in HCMC’s District 7.

Participating auto companies shared the better-than-expected sales with the Daily several days after the Vietnam Motor Show 2014 ended over the weekend.

Euro Auto, the authorized importer of BMW and MINI in Vietnam, reported 50 orders during the country’s biggest motor show, or 16 cars more than the previous year. The company brought to the event 11 car models of various types such as hatchback, coupe, sedan and sport utility vehicle (SUV).

Euro Auto attracted more buyers thanks to its promotional programs and supportive policies, including free maintenance service and gifts.

In previous events, Audi Vietnam always inked a significant number of contracts with buyers. The enterprise did not disclose the number of orders this year but said that it almost doubled that of last year.

Meanwhile, Mercedes-Benz Vietnam won over 200 orders at the Vietnam Motor Show 2014, doubling that at last year’s event. For FUSO truck, which was introduced by the enterprise for the first time at the show, customers registered to buy more than 60 units.

According to the organizers, exhibitors struck over 560 car purchase contracts at the motor show this year, or 2.5 times higher than last year.

In fact, some participating enterprises did not announce their car sales. For instance, Toyota Vietnam said the figure announced by the organizers did not include Toyota and Lexus cars.

The organizers said 18 automobile companies and over 100 supporting exhibitors occupied booths on a total area of 12,000 square meters at the Vietnam Motor Show 2014.

The five-day show, which ended last Sunday, was aimed to help enterprises speed up sales and introduce new products to customers. The show attracted nearly 162,000 visitors, which were higher than 150,000 the organizers estimated before the event kicked off.

The Vietnam Motor Show 2014 was co-organized by the Vietnam Automobile Manufacturers Association (VAMA), authorized car importers in Vietnam, CIS Vietnam Company and Le Bros Company.

Experts pinpoint Vietnam’s hurdles to market economy

Vietnam is facing various hindrances on the way towards a market economy due to a number of internal woes, experts said at a seminar in Hanoi City on November 27.

They raised the point at the seminar held to review a report on Vietnam’s market economy development progress. The report was prepared by a research team from several agencies such as the Central Institute for Economic Management, the Vietnam Institute for Economic and Policy Research (VEPR), the Vietnam Institute of Economics (VIE), the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) and Friedrich-Naumann Vietnam.

VEPR director Nguyen Duc Thanh said Vietnam’s economic freedom score is 50.8, making its economy the 147th freest in the 2014 Index of the Heritage Foundation.

Quoting the 2014 Index of Economic Freedom report of the foundation, Thanh said the score is 0.2 point worse than last year, reflecting declines in freedom from corruption, monetary freedom, and business freedom that outweigh improvements in labor freedom and fiscal freedom.

Vietnam is ranked 33rd out of 42 countries in the Asia-Pacific region, and its overall score is lower than the global and regional averages.

Between 1997 and 2006, Vietnam made steady improvements in economic freedom. Yet, the index just oscillated around 50 points from 1997 to 2014 and even saw signs of decline in 2011.

“Over the past years, Vietnam has put much effort to win market economy recognition through diplomatic and political channels,” Thanh said and added that the team wished to make a report to evaluate Vietnam’s current status toward a full market economy.

Thanh pointed out many factors that have gone against the progress such as State budget overspending, rising public debts, the fast expansion of State-run commercial banks and high expenditure, among others. Moreover, Vietnam has lagged behind regional countries such as Singapore in terms of inflation control.

Economic expert Pham Chi Lan questioned the status of Vietnam’s economy in the market economy development progress.

She said Vietnam’s legal system is relatively complete but law enforcement is poor. Investigations show that enterprises have detected many faults in the legal system for a market economy.

Huynh The Du, a lecturer of the Fulbright Economics Teaching Program, said Vietnam has sped up international integration with an aim to boost internal reform. However, it has brought about some reverse impacts.

Equitization of State-owned enterprises (SOEs) is on a tough path and it seems that SOE leaders have been granted more power while State-run banks are taking the upper hand of the sector, Du said.

To help Vietnam develop a market economy, the report suggested interest groups should not intervene in the development progress while enterprises and citizens must raise their voice in law making.

In addition, the Government needs to protect legitimate properties of citizens and businesses, issue reasonable land management policies and streamline administrative apparatus to reduce regular spending and public investments.

Vietjet considers going public

The private carrier Vietjet is planning to conduct an IPO that will allow it to enhance competitiveness and further expand its international network.

Luu Duc Khanh, managing director of Vietjet, revealed last week in Toulouse, France, where the carrier was receiving the first of its order of 100 Airbus A320s and A321s, that the carrier was planning to make its IPO sometime “between 2015 and 2016.”

“The IPO is a major step in our development strategy, and a pivotal part of our plan to form an international aviation alliance,” said Khanh.

Vietjet will be the second airline to implement an IPO in Vietnam, following Vietnam Airlines’ IPO last month where it sold 49 million shares, equivalent to a 3.48 per cent stake.

“The equitisation of Vietnam Airlines is certainly a positive sign of a healthy, open, and transparent aviation market, and it is also a progressive step against monopolisation. Once an investing system is established and the market is operational, investors and customers will be the ultimate beneficiaries,” Khanh said.

With its current fleet of 18 Airbus A320 aircraft, Vietjet now operates 150 flights per day, and has transported eight million passengers in total to date. The airline covers 28 local and international routes across the country and the region.

After three years in operation, Vietjet has rapidly grown and according to the Centre for Aviation – a leading provider of independent aviation market intelligence – Vietjet now holds a 31 per cent market share.

Khanh said Vietjet was not only expanding locally but also internationally.

“Vietjet has fully covered Vietnam, and now the airline is actively expanding its network across the Asia Pacific region. We have successfully established routes from Vietnam to Thailand, Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan, while preparing to open routes to Cambodia, China, Russia and Japan,” said Khanh.

In order to expand its international network, Vietjet must first expand its fleet. According to Vietjet, the delivery of the first Airbus A320 aircraft last week “marked a major milestone in the development of Vietjet”.

“Receiving this plane highlights how far we have come in three years of operations but it also marks the beginning of the next phase of our development,” said Khanh. “With a solid business plan and a strong fleet, we can better control operational costs and offer even better fares and more flying opportunities to our customers so everyone can ‘Enjoy Flying’.”

The carrier revealed that it will receive two or three planes from Airbus this year, and from 2015 onwards Airbus will deliver 6 to 12 planes annually until the order of 100 planes is complete.

John Leahy, CEO in charge of customers at Airbus claimed that the delivery of the first plane in the deal “signals the start of an exciting expansion plan that will see the carrier acquire up to 100 new A320 Family aircraft in the coming years.”

“Vietjet is a rising star in the Southeast Asian low cost market,” said Leahy.

Over 800 promotions for ‘Black Friday’

More than 750 e-commerce enterprises have registered over 800 promotion programs for the Online Shopping Day 2014 slated to take place next Friday, the organizers of the event have announced.

Le Duc Anh, a representative of the organizing board, said the organizers are selecting appropriate promotion programs for the Online Shopping Day, which will be operated like the ‘Black Friday’ in the United States. Enterprises will be allowed to put their names down to participate in the shopping day until this Sunday.

Customers will have chances of winning various prizes when they shop at www.onlinefriday.vn from next week.

Nguyen Thanh Hung, general secretary of the Vietnam E-commerce Association (VECOM) who also serves as deputy head of the organizing board, said two mobile carriers Viettel and MobiFone will send messages to 50 million subscribers to inform them of the shopping day.

The organizers expect that 10 million out of the 50 million people will join the Online Shopping Day this year.

Customers shopping at the websites for the Online Shopping Day will get free delivery of the products they buy. Promotions during the day will only apply to those orders made online.

The Vietnam E-commerce and Information Technology Agency under the Ministry of Industry and Trade in collaboration with VECOM earlier held a ceremony to launch the websites at www.onlinefriday.vn and www.ngaymuasamtructuyen.vn for the Online Shopping Day.

HCM City firms diversify import sources

Enterprises in HCMC have diversified their import sources to reduce heavy reliance on imports from China in the January-November period, according to the city’s Department of Planning and Investment.

During the period, the volume of goods imported from Singapore, the U.S., and Israel into the city have increased by 77%, 10.6% and 132.6% year-on-year respectively.

Material imports from Taiwan and South Korea have grown by 7.1% and 54% in terms of volume while shipments from China have tumbled by 46.5%, said Tran Thi Binh Minh, deputy director of the department, at a meeting on November 27 on the city’s socio-economic situation in the 11-month period.

The city’s import spending has increased by 8.7% year-on-year to nearly US$33.5 billion in the period with major imported products being chemicals, pharmaceutical products, plastic, and apparel and leather-shoe materials.

Its export revenue has grown 9.9% year-on-year to US$31.2 billion.

Export sales of the city to Singapore soared by 191%, South Korea 71%, Hong Kong 175.5%, Taiwan 371%, Indonesia 664%, Switzerland 136.6% and Denmark 132.6%, while exports to China fell by 14.2%.

Last year, Vietnam suffered a trade deficit of up to US$23.7 billion with China when importing US$36.9 billion worth of goods from the neighboring country.

In May, given the tension in the East Sea between Vietnam and China, the city’s Department of Industry and Trade predicted that in the worst senario, export of the city to China could decrease by US$310 million this year.

In response, city enterprises said they would have solutions to reduce their dependence on China in both exports and imports.

HCMC Chairman Le Hoang Quan told the meeting yesterday that the city will take pains to achieve the new target of 9.7% for gross domestic product (GDP) growth this year instead of the previous goal of 9.5%.

In the rest of this year, the city authorities will check prices of services such as transport charges and prices goods at markets after fuel prices have fallen continuously since the year’s beginning.

Siemens Vietnam and Bitexco group deepen relationship

Siemens Vietnam, part of German engineering conglomerate Siemens AG, recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with local partner Bitexco group in Hanoi.

Accordingly, the two sides managed to promote their existing relationship in building technology and energy management, power generation and distribution, and keep each other updated with the upcoming projects to seek mutual cooperation opportunities, striving for building sustainable infrastructure in Vietnam.

Besides, Siemens will support Bitexco some free training programmes on building management systems for Bitexco Financial Tower project, human resources training and development in the field of energy and power management.

“Siemens and Bitexco are contented with our effective cooperation so far. But the relationship has not yet been proportionate with the actual potential, which is the reason of the signing ceremony today. The signing of this MOU marks a significant step in our mutual relations,” said Armin Bruck, CEO of Siemens ASEAN.

Siemens Vietnam CEO Pham Thai Lai emphasised, “Based on many similarities in business philosophy and that both Bitexco group and Siemens are pioneers in their field, Siemens with the working experience in 190 countries around the world, is likely to accompany with Bitexco for successful implementation of upcoming projects.”

Lotte Mart opens ninth supermarket

South Korea’s leading retailer Lotte Mart on November 27 opened its ninth supermarket in Vietnam at the corner of Ba Thang Hai and Thi Sach streets in Vung Tau City.

The US$29-million Lotte Mart Vung Tau in Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province covers a total area of more than 30,000 square meters and is expected to generate monthly sales of VND55 billion (around US$2.57 million).

Lotte Mart Vung Tau encompasses shops selling fashion and jewelry items and food brands like Lotteria, KFC, BreadTalk, Mochido, The Blues, Diamond World, PNJ, SJC as well as a cinema and other recreational facilities.

On this occasion, customers with bills worth VND300,000 or more at Lotte Mart Vung Tau are eligible to join a lucky draw to win prizes worth a combined US$248 million.

On December 1-4, holders of Lotte Mart membership cards will be allowed to buy many products at special prices.

Lotte Mart plans to inaugurate one supermarket in HCMC’s Tan Binh District later this year.

Host of foreign retailers set up shop

Vietnam’s retail market continues to flaunt its attractions as foreign retailers increase their presence in the country.

Central Group, Thailand’s leading retailer, will open its second Robins department store at Crescent Mall, District 7, just 15 minutes from the centre of Ho Chi Minh City late this week. It will occupy 10,000 square metres over four floors at Crescent Mall.

Marketing executive Huynh Hong Hai told VIR that the company would continue to expand Robins department stores in Vietnam in the coming time.

The Thai retailer officially set foot in Vietnam in March with its 10,000 square-metre Robins store at Royal City in Hanoi, its first overseas.

According to Hai, Central Group is looking for local partners in Vietnam and is seeking a European fashion and luxury-goods brand franchise worth about $50 million.

In July this year, under a franchise operated by the Central Group, Iconic British retailer Marks & Spencer entered the Vietnamese market with a new flagship store in Ho Chi Minh City. The store offers an extensive range of women’s wear, men’s wear and lingerie as well as accessories, shoes and sleepwear.

Tos Chirativat, CEO of Central Group, said that with 90 million residents and growing middle class, Vietnam was an exciting market with high potential for growth and an excellent destination for investors in the retail sector.

In a similar move, last week, South Korean retailer Lotte Mart continued its assertive push into Vietnam with a $29 million/30,000 square-metre shopping centre in the southern province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau.

Lotte currently operates eight shopping centres – two in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi respectively, and one in Dong Nai, Danang, Binh Duong and Binh Thuan. By 2020, Lotte Mart aims to have expanded its chain here to 60 supermarkets.

By entering the market early, the company believes that it will be able to select the best strategic locations in Vietnam’s marketplace, Hong Won Sik, general director of Lotte Mart Vietnam told VIR.

Many laws lack consistent guidelines, says NA deputy

National Assembly (NA) deputy Vu Tien Loc proposed three principles for the revised Law on Promulgation of Legal Documents at the NA session yesterday so as to ensure consistency between laws and legal guidelines.

The draft law has not included effective measures to make laws and circulars consistent, said Loc, who is also president of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI).

Therefore, Loc suggested three principles to safeguard such consistency.

Legal documents issued by ministries or below must not limit the rights or impose more obligations on organizations and individuals compared to documents of higher-level bodies.

Only legal documents issued by the Government or equivalent bodies should have guiding documents, and lower-ranking bodies that fail to provide guidelines in a timely manner will be subject to penalties.

According to Loc, ministries and management agencies are the ones proposing and drafting laws and issuing guiding documents. There is a fact that many policies tend to make it easy for management agencies and make it harder for those governed by such legal documents, but there is no mechanism to curtail ramifications of this issue.

“Therefore, I expect the draft law to have new regulations to limit the authority of ministries, agencies and localities in issuing legal documents to ensure the legislative integrity of the NA and the Government’s power in the issuance of guiding documents,” he said.

According to Loc, in eight years implementing the law, it has been found out that many laws are promulgated but guiding documents are not issued when the laws become effective.

Citizens and enterprises have to wait for the issuance of guiding circulars and decrees. Many civil servants refuse to perform procedures in the absence of guiding documents.

Bauxite project short of payment for environmental remedy

Although Tan Rai bauxite project in the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong has been put into operation for over one year, the Vietnam Coal and Mineral Industries Holding Corporation (Vinacomin) as project owner has just paid 16% of deposits for environmental restoration until now.

According to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, after completing procedures on environmental impact assessment, Vinacomin has been told to make deposits for environmental restoration with the total sum of VND187 billion.

However, as of the first half of this year, the amount paid by the corporation just reached VND29 billion, or 16% of the total liable.

Previously, a large amount of red mud discharged from the ore cleaning process in the bauxite project submerged a road due to a broken embankment of its reservoir. The Government reprimanded the project owner as the incident affected the environment.

Since its establishment in 2013, the aluminum consumption of Lam Dong Aluminum Co. Ltd. has been increasingly favorable. The firm produced 214,000 tons of aluminum and exported 160,000 tons in 2013, but its tax payment was VND93 billion only, accounting for 26.2% of the expected amount of VND430 billion a year.

In January-August period of this year, the alumina plant turned out 307,000 tons of aluminum and shipped 305,000 tons abroad at an FOB price of US$320-340 per ton.

GSO: Business confidence improves

The increases in numbers of newly-established firms and enterprises back to operations this month reflect an improvement in the confidence of the business community in the country’s economic recovery and business environment, according to the General Statistics Office (GSO).

Figures of GSO showed there are more than 7,760 new business startups in November with a combined registered capital of VND38.8 trillion, rising by 13.7% in number and 20.8% in capital compared to October.

The average registered capital of a new enterprise is VND5 billion, up 6.3% against October. Notably, those new companies have recruited a total of 108,800 employees, up 23.7% over last month.

In the January-November period, 67,790 new enterprises have reported a total registered capital of VND391.3 trillion, falling by 4.5% in number but rising by 8.9% in registered capital compared to the same period last year. The registered capital of these newcomers in the period is VND5.8 billion per enterprise, increasing by 14% over a year ago.

The new enterprises in the first 11 months of this year have employed 992,000 people, a slight rise of 1.9% compared to the same period last year.

The GSO’s data indicated since early this month, 1,205 enterprises have resumed operations after temporary shutdown, a rise of 6.5% against October. The figure in the January-November period has grown 11.8% year-on-year to 14,208 enterprises.

In the 11-month period, 20,800 firms have adjusted up their registered capital by a combined VND544.7 trillion.

Based on the rises in the numbers of new enterprises and registered capital, GSO said the business environment has improved, lifting the confidence of companies in the country’s outlook.

GSO noted that there remain a number of economic difficulties in January-November when 60,340 enterprises have halted operations or been dissolved, a year-on-year increase of 9.8%.

However, November sees a month-on-month decrease in the number of companies stopping operations or going dissolved. The number this month is 7,033, down 1.5% compared to October.

GSO regarded economic challenges as a test to the ability of enterprises to weather tough times and find new business opportunities.

In the processing and manufacturing industry, there has been a 2.7% rise in the number of new players but an 8.6% increase in those withdrawing from the market in the January-November period.

The respective proportions are 29.3% and 1.2% for real estate; 30.2% and 6.7% for agro-forestry-fisheries; 4.9% and 17.7% for electricity, water and gas distribution and production; 2.36% and 9% for finance, banking and insurance, and10.5% and 17.5% for transport and warehouse.

Retail, car and motorbike repair sectors have still coped with a host of difficulties in the first 11 months when the number of new enterprises is down 13.8% but those going dissolved are up 12.7% year-on-year.

The respective percentages are 0.6% and 9.3% for accommodation and dining; 0.8% and 19.6% for mining; 3.2% and 9.5% for consultancy, design and advertisement; and 6% and 7.7% for construction.

To deal with challenges ahead, enterprises need more supportive policies and measures from the Government and relevant agencies, according to the GSO said in its report.

Cholimex Foods shares not for Masan

Cholon Investment and Import-Export Company (Cholimex) and Nichirei Foods Inc. have stated that they will not sell their stake at Cholimex Foods Company to Masan Food Company.

Cholimex and Nichirei, which own a combined 60% stake in Cholimex Foods, made the joint statement about two weeks after Masan Food offered to buy a 49% stake in Cholimex Foods. The two major shareholders said they will not sell part or their entire stake to Masan Food.

In early November, Masan Food said it wanted to acquire over 3.9 million shares of Cholimex Foods between November 28 and December 29 to become a major shareholder of the enterprise. However, Masan said it would cancel the purchasing order if the shares put up for sale were not equal to the volume it wanted.

With the offered price of VND90,000 a share, over 3.9 shares of Cholimex Foods are worth more than VND357 billion, which is four times higher than the chartered capital of Cholimex Foods.

Currently, both Cholimex Foods and Masan Food are major players in the country’s chili sauce sector.

Property awards aim to encourage housing market

Vietnam Television's VTV9 channel has instituted the 2015 Vietnam Excellent Property Awards aimed at promoting growth of the housing market.

Outstanding companies will be conferred the awards based on what customers say and assessment of their capacity and performance by a jury of industrial experts.

The awards will honour businesses in six categories – developers, real estate services, construction, architecture, banks, and houseware providers.

There will also be a special award for outstanding social housing developers.

A poll of buyers/residents is being done about projects with at least 200 apartments or land lots and amenities like kindergartens and healthcare facilities in Ha Noi, Da Nang, HCM City, and Binh Duong and Dong Nai provinces.

Nguyen Hong Quan, a former construction minister, said on behalf of the jury that the market has recovered up somewhat thanks to the efforts of property-related companies and the awards would encourage their further contribution to market growth.

He also expected the amendments to the Housing Law and Law on Real Estate Business that the National Assembly recently approved to provide a more transparent legal framework and facilitate the market's development.

The awards, sponsored by the Central Steering Committee on Housing Policies and Real Estate Market and organised in co-operation with the Housing Media International company, will be announced next March at a property exhibition to be held at the Reunification Palace in HCM City.

Big C opens latest supermarket in Bac Giang

Supermarket chain Big C yesterday inaugurated its 30th outlet in the northern Bac Giang City, contributing to the expansion of its network nationwide.

Big C Bac Giang hypermarket and shopping center has an investment capital of VND275 billion (nearly US$13 million). It covers a total area of 22,000sqm, of which the supermarket occupies nearly 3,600sqm. The supermarket sells more than 24,000 items, ranging from fresh and dry food, garment and textiles to household utensils and electrical appliances, 95 per cent of them being local products.

The retail space has nearly 70 shops and mobile kiosks, offering products of familiar fashion brands such as The Blues, John Henry and Anta, Owen and Citizen. There are also food, coffee and healthcare products, as well as a bookstore and an area for games.

With the aim of protecting the environment, Big C Bac Giang uses green building concepts, and also has a green campus spread over an area of nearly 5,500sqm. The supermarket provides employment to 500 local labourers.

Deloitte to offer risk management to HCM City stock exchange

The HCM City Stock Exchange (HOSE) has entered a memorandum of understanding with Deloitte Vietnam to strengthen risk management of market players.

To improve competitiveness, they will focus on improving the effectiveness of the corporate risk management system at listed and securitites companies as well as training programmes on domestic inspection and auditing.

Phan Thi Tuong Tam, general director of the exchange, said at the signing ceremony on Thursday that risk management was a significant task, because of its importance to the sustainable development of the market, especially in difficult economic times.

Kinh Bac Urban City set for $56m bond issuance

The State Securities Commission has granted Kinh Bac Urban City (KBC) a licence to issue bonds worth VND1.2 trillion (US$56.3 million).

The property developer earlier reported that in the third quarter of 2014, its revenues reached VND360 billion ($16.9 million) while its profits reached VND128.6 billion ($6 million).

The company reported a loss of VND58 billion ($2.7 million) during the same period last year. Land leasing at industrial zones have significantly contributed to its profits so far this year. KBC yesterday closed unchanged at VND16,700 per share.

Furniture firm buys Hong Kong's Mass Noble

Furniture provider Duc Long Gia Lai (DLG) has purchased Hong Kong-based electronics equipment company Mass Noble by issuing 23.2 million shares to swap for Mass Noble shares.

In its announcement last Thursday, DLG said the purchase would help it save a huge amount of money upon entering a new market segment. In addition, the company plans to issue five million convertible bonds to fund its projects. DLG yesterday finished lower by 3.2 per cent at VND12,100 per share.

BIDV enjoys more than $164m in profits as assets rise

Net profits of the Bank for Investment and Development of Viet Nam (BIDV) slightly exceeded VND3.5 trillion (US$164.3 million), a 13.5-per cent year-on-year increase, in the first nine months of 2014.

In addition, the bank's total assets reached VND598.94 trillion ($28.12 billion), a 9.2-per cent increase over that at the beginning of this year. Its total outstanding loans reached VND428.54 trillion ($22.65 billion), a 9.4-per cent increase. Of these, non-performing loans made up 1.97 per cent, a 0.33-per cent decline.

BIDV closed yesterday at VND12,700 per share.

VOF Investment Limited is no longer a large shareholder of Eximbank (EIB) after it unloaded 60,000 shares of the bank, the HCM City Stock Exchange announced yesterday.

The VinaCapital-managed fund's holdings in the bank fell from about 61.528 million shares to about 61.468 million shares, or from five per cent to 4.99 per cent, on November 26. This means that the fund no longer has to report information related to EIB share transactions.

VinaCapital is among the leading foreign investment management and real estate development companies in Viet Nam, managing a $1.5-billion asset portfolio. It covers capital markets, private equity and fixed income, as well as venture capital, property and infrastructure.

HCM City gets ready to sell E5 bio-fuel in Dec

Bio-fuel E5, a mixture of 95 per cent of petrol and 5 per cent of ethanol, will be sold at 58 gas stations in HCM City starting next month, according to the city's Department of Industry and Trade.

The number of stations selling E5 bio-fuel will increase to 115 by June, and then at all 510 stations by the end of next year, said Le Ngoc Dao, deputy director of the department.

Seven cities and provinces, including HCM City, Ha Noi, Hai Phong, Da Nang and Can Tho cities and provinces of Ba Ria-Vung Tau and Quang Ngai, were appointed to implement a Government-approved road map for supplying bio-fuel from December 1.

Around 90 per cent of gas stations in the city have updated their tanks and filling stations to meet requirements for selling the fuel, Dao said at a meeting held in HCM City on Thursday.

Dao asked major fuel wholesalers in the city such as PV Oil, Saigon Petro and Comeco to co-operate with the department to support dealers to supply bio-fuel to customers.

"Newly established gas stations have to commit to selling E5 bio-fuel," she said.

To promote the use of the green fuel among customers, Dao proposed that tax incentives should be applied to E5 bio-fuel trading firms to cut prices.

Rice exporters enjoy high prices

The value of agricultural and seafood product exports rose by 12.1 per cent year-on-year in the first 11 months of this year to reach US$28.2 billion.

This figure includes $2.66 billion gained this month, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The ministry noted that the volume of rice exports fell by 2.7 per cent to stand at 6 million tonnes, but the earnings rose by 1.9 per cent to stand at $2.79 billion. China remained Viet Nam's largest rice market, accounting for 31.1 per cent of the total export volume, followed by the Philippines.

The prices of Vietnamese rice exports increased by 4.61 per cent to reach $460.09 per tonne against the same period last year, while the world prices fell, the ministry said.

In the first 11 months, the Cuu Long delta provinces exported 2.7 million tonnes of high-quality rice, accounting for 52 per cent of the total rice export volume in the region.

Pepper exports earned $1.16 billion in the period, up 35.7 per cent from the same period last year. The United States, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates, besides India and the Netherlands, are the leading importers of Vietnamese pepper, accounting for half of the country's export volume.

Coffee, another export staple, posted an 18 per cent increase year-on-year in export volume, with 1.56 million tonnes being shipped abroad and a 35.7 per cent rise in value, earning $3.26 billion.

However, rubber exports generated only $1.62 billion, a year-on-year decrease of 27 per cent for a volume of 954,000 tonnes, up 0.5 per cent compared with 2013.

This was due to the fall in the global rubber prices, the ministry said, adding that demand had dropped in some important rubber markets such as China and Malaysia.

In the reviewed period, the value of seafood exports reached $7.22 billion, an increase of 19.9 per cent, including $666 million earned in November.

Valued at $1.56 billion, the United States remained the largest export market for Vietnamese seafood products. This was almost 20 per cent higher than the same period last year.

Meanwhile, seafood exports to other key markets, such as Japan, South Korea and China, also grew in the first 11 months.

The ministry also reported that the export value of forestry products went up by 13 per cent to stand at $5.88 billion.

The export value of forestry products to the United States and Japan increased by 14.17 per cent and 19.47 per cent respectively, but reduced by 9.37 per cent to China.

Shrimp factory opens in Kien Giang

Trung Son Seafood Processing Joint Stock Company inaugurated a shrimp processing factory in Duong Hoa Commune, Kien Luong District in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta province of Kien Giang yesterday.

The US$7.9 million factory aims to create 750 jobs. Its capacity in phase 1 is 5,000 tonnes per year and will double in phase 2.

Its capacity in phase 1 is 5,000 tonnes per year and will double in phase 2. — Photo vov

The corporation chose Japanese Mitsubishi Corporation as its strategic partner as Japan is a key market for factory products.

The factory is located in the company's industrial shrimp raising zone, which will provide raw materials.

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

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