Local companies need x-factor to hit Indonesian market

Vietnamese companies need to clearly offer products with unique characteristics in order to sell to buyers in the Indonesian market, according to experts.

"Indonesia is one of the biggest markets in Southeast Asia with a population of more than 250 million. However, it is very hard for Vietnamese companies to get a foothold there," said Truong Cung Nghia, managing director of Truong Doan Marketing Group.

Nghia, who recently visited the country on an exploratory trip, explained that Indonesia buyers would choose locally made products over imported ones if the latter were similar.

Bich Chi Food Company, for example, has had success in the market despite having slightly higher prices.

Bui Thi Ngoc Tuyen, of the company's Import and Export Department, told Viet Nam News that "while other Indonesian food companies used aromatic spices, our company uses natural food and foodstuff to make our products, creating our own characteristics."

Likewise, a representative from Lien A Company that makes mattresses said local companies must define their own segment to deal with strong competitors.

Another factor in achieving success in Indonesia is price competition.

"In Indonesia, if Vietnamese companies choose to compete by price, they will totally lose," Nghia said, explaining that wages in Indonesia are lower than those in Viet Nam.

"It is better to find a niche market to develop business in Indonesia," he added.

Finding a partner is also necessary or no one would be able to sell in department stores or malls, he said.

"Imports come to Indonesia through agents and then are distributed to modern retail channels like supermarkets or trade centres. Fewer retailers can directly buy products from exporters due to complicated logistical procedures," he added.

Nghia also suggested that companies open manufacturing plants in Indonesia to enjoy cheap labour and then re-export products to Viet Nam and other countries.

Vu Kim Hanh, general director of the Centre of Business Studies and Assistance, said that entering the challenging Indonesian market was"difficult but we can still do it."

The Indonesia consumer market is expected to increase from 45 million in 2010 to 135 million in 2030. —

Food processing industry given financial support

A signing ceremony for a 1.5 million euro (U$S2 million) export promotion programme for Viet Nam's food processing industry took place on Wednesday in Ha Noi, with the goal of improving export competitiveness and creating a favorable business environment for Vietnamese food processors.

Joop Scheffers, Ambassador of the Netherlands in Viet Nam, said traditional Vietnamese commodities such as rice, coffee and pepper had successfully penetrated world markets. However, entering the European market was a more significant challenge due to the increasing demand for products with sustainable organic farming or Fairtrade certification (Fairtrade is a product certification system that allows people to identify products that meet agreed environmental, labour and developmental standards).

Do Thang Hai, director of the Trade Promotion Agency under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, said the programme would help make high added value products more marketable and improve their quality so they met export requirements.

Of the programme's budget, 1 million euros (US$1.3 million) came from the Centre for the Promotion of Imports from Developing Countries (CBI) and the remainder came from Viet Nam, including the cost of participating in annual food exhibitions in Europe.

The programme will run from 2013 to 2016 and will benefit potential exporters of coffee, tea, cocoa, cashews, honey and spices. Through the programme, CBI will help Vietnamese partners organise an international food processing fair in late 2014.

Can Tho eyes hi-tech incubator

A hi-tech incubator expected to cost over US$21 million will be developed in Can Tho City's Tra Noc 2 Industrial Zone, according to the municipal People's Committee.

With financial support from South Korea, the 4.5ha hi-tech incubator will assist the development of farm and aquatic product processing, machinery manufacturing, biological technology, IT and communications, chemicals, clean technology and the shipbuilding industry. Construction will begin in November.

HCM City, Kyushu firms seek co-operation

Over 40 firms from the Japanese prefecture of Kyushu met their Vietnamese partners at a seminar in HCM City on Tuesday to seek business opportunities.

Participants at the event explored the possibilities of co-operation in information technology, food, engineering, ceramics, construction and education.

Director of the Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) branch in HCM City Vo Tan Thanh noted a wave of Japanese investment in Viet Nam, especially projects by small- and medium-sized enterprises.

Japan is now the biggest investor in Viet Nam, with over 2,000 projects worth nearly US$33 billion.

August trade surplus hits US$176m

Viet Nam's balance of trade hit a US$176 million surplus in the month of August, according to the General Department of Customs.

The result marks the third consecutive month of a trade surplus for Viet Nam.

Figures released by the department showed that the country's total import and export revenue reached $170.1 billion in the first eight months of this year, increasing 14.8 per cent on last year's figures and achieving 67.6 per cent of the year's target.

The country earned $85.16 billion from exports, accounting for a 15 per cent increase on the same period last year. Meanwhile, Viet Nam imported $84.99 billion in the in the first eight months of the year, representing a 14.4 per cent increase.

Last month, the country reaped $11.92 billion and imported $11.32 billion, increasing 2.8 per and 0.9 per cent increase against the previous month.

Key export items including telephone and spare-parts earned a revenue of $13.39 billion, garment and textile $11.45 billion, computer and electricity products $6.78 billion, shoes $5.47 billion, machinery and equipment $3.87 billion, and $3.38 billion from wooden products.

Foreign direct investment (FDI) enterprises remained a driving force in import-export activity as the sector recorded export revenue of $51.55 billion from the beginning of the year, surging 26.7 per cent against the same period last year and accounting for 60 per cent of the country's total export value.

FDI brought in $48 billion in import revenue between January and August, up 24.3 per cent from last year and accounting for 56.5 per cent of total imports.

The department said the trade balance's return to surplus was due to a surge in exports in the second half of last month, reaching $755 million, an increase of 18.5 per cent over the first half.

Viet Nam's import staples including machinery and equipment, spare parts and crude oil saw a decrease of 3.3 per cent from the same period last year, according to the official data.

It added that the trade surplus would help the country improve its balance of payments, increase foreign reserves and help stabilise the foreign exchange rate.

The department said the result was encouraging given the economic downturn and high inventories.

Zero export tax for steel scrap proposed

The Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) has proposed to remove the tax rate of 15 per cent imposed on the export of stainless steel scrap entirely, to ease the financial burden on domestic stainless steel manufacturers.

The Ministry of Finance also recently proposed the Government consider offering a zero tax rate for one of the country's big stainless steel manufacturer, Posco VST Company, in response to the company's plea for a financial incentive to keep the cost of exporting the metal waste a viable option.

The current tax was estimated to cost Posco VST around VND87 billion (US$4.14 million) in export duties a year.

There are currently no stainless steel furnaces in Viet Nam. Stainless steel scrap is exported to other countries to be refined, according to the ministry. This reprocessed steel is imported back into the country for use in domestic manufacturing.

One steel manufacturer said that the tax rate of 15 per cent on the export of the scrap was a considerable issue for domestic manufactures, pushing up production costs enough to lower the competitiveness of domestically produced steel products against those imported from countries like China.

According to the MoIT, the export of stainless steel scrap did not impact the country's natural resources and minerals because the scrap originated from imported raw stainless steel products in the first place.

The ministry said that the export tax should be removed altogether based on Circular 87/2010/ND-CP.

Previously, the Viet Nam Steel Association called on the Government to enhance the inspection of low-price steel products containing boron imported from China to protect domestic production.

Companies vie for Myanmar prospects

Entrepreneurs doing business in Myanmar or have studied the market counselled patience for those hoping to enter the country, but warned there is no more time to lose.

Speaking at a conference on investment in Myanmar held in HCM City on Tuesday, Le Duc Duy, marketing director of Vinamit Joint Stock Company, said: "Myanmar is a very promising market. But it has many risks for Vietnamese investors because most of us lack experience in the market."

Competition there is very tough, especially in terms of price, he said.

Vietnamese products are often expensive due to high raw-material and transport costs, he said, so investors must be ready to

Duy told Viet Nam News: "We need to promote investment in Myanmar right now or we will lose the opportunity.

"We are one step behind other investors. It is now or never.

"Vietnamese companies can compete in consumer products, food and foodstuffs, beverages, confectionery, and cosmetics," he said.

Vinamit carried out a study of the Myanmar market several months ago.

Other attendees said 85 per cent of the people in Myanmar are poor, and low-end segments are dominated by Chinese investors and manufacturers.

The remaining 15 per cent of the population prefer products from Thailand, the US and the EU, they said.

It is optimal for Vietnamese companies to find a prestigious local partner while entering Myanmar, they said.

One delegate said that an important issue for investors to consider carefully is financial payment since Myanmarese banks do not issue letters of credit.

"Vietnamese companies must have close co-operation with each other," Vu Kim Hanh, general director of the Centre of Business Studies and Assistance, said.

She urged investors to closely follow the market and said they should never quit.

Production in Myanmar remains underdeveloped, and the country imports around 80 per cent of its consumer products, offering a huge opportunity to foreign investors and manufacturers.

VFA promotes rice sector tie-ups

The Viet Nam Food Association (VFA) has urged its members to strengthen links with rice co-operatives and farming groups to gradually develop their own sources to buy the grain, which is soon set to become one of the criteria for export licences.

Speaking at a seminar in HCM City on Tuesday, VFA chairman Truong Thanh Phong said in recent years local authorities and businesses have been working on various linkage models in the rice sector.

They include the large-scale rice field model in which businesses invest the entire costs upfront — from that of seeds to harvest — and buy the entire output.

This has been implemented by the An Giang Import Export Joint Stock Company and Dong Thap Trading Corporation (Docimexco) among others.Under other models, businesses provide farmers with seeds or place orders with farmers to produce certain varieties of rice and buy their produce, Phong said.

Companies that have not tied up with farmers for rice supply, he said, should work with co-operatives or small groups of farmers starting from the upcoming winter-spring crop.

Depending on their status, they can choose to invest 100 per cent or just provide seeds and sign deals to buy the output at agreed prices.

They have to also co-operate with local agricultural officials to teach farmers cropping techniques and supervise the farming process, he said.

After the winter-spring crop, the association plans to organise a meeting to review the effectiveness of the models and discuss measures for further expansion.

Pham Van Du, deputy head of the Department of Crop Production, said establishing large-scale rice fields is imperative for ensuring quality, developing brands, and, ultimately, improving farmers' incomes.

More and more areas have switched to the model in recent years, but the biggest remaining difficulty is improving co-operation between the businesses and farmers, he said.

They have only focused on providing inputs like seeds, fertilisers, and insecticides, but not on buying farmers' produce, he said.

He urged the association's member companies to strengthen co-operation with farmers in rice production and purchase, especially the latter.

The seminar also heard attendees hold forth on typical linkage models like large-scale rice field models developed by the An Giang Import Export JS Company and others.

Viet Nam hopes shrimp exports exceed annual target

Viet Nam expects a year-on-year increase of 15 per cent in shrimp export value to US$2.5-2.6 billion, higher than the yearly target of $2.4 billion, according to the Viet Nam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP).

The fisheries industry predicts it will gain $250-260 million in export value each month.

In August, shrimp exports saw a dramatic recovery, with export value increasing 38 per cent from last year to $280 million. The shrimp export value for the first eight months this year achieved a year-on-year surge of 18 per cent to $1.7 billion.

Truong Dinh Hoe, VASEP general secretary, said that in early months, shrimp exports faced many challenges, but aggressive efforts by the industry and enterprises had largely been successful.

Meanwhile, exports of other seafood products had reduced, Hoe said. Shrimp exports to the US increased 43 per cent, while those to China went up 37 per cent, those to Canada rose 36 per cent, those to Japan went up 11.4 per cent and those to the EU increased 5.3 per cent.

Early this month, the US dropped an anti-dumping tax it had previously announced, meaning that all 33 Vietnamese shrimp exporters will not have to pay taxes on shrimp products exported to the US.

VASEP said Vietnamese shrimp products were popular in the US because of their size and diversity and expected the US decision to significantly boost exports.

However, shrimp processors face a shortage of raw material because foreign traders purchased a huge volume of shrimp to sell to China, the association said, damaging the reputation and trademark of Vietnamese shrimp and cutting into shrimp supplies that would otherwise be processed for the local market.

This week, the Fisheries Department of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development required the agriculture and rural development departments of coastal provinces and cities to encourage farmers and enterprises to improve the quality of shrimp.

The VASEP also proposed the State impose an export tax on fresh shrimp that is not processed and frozen in order to limit exports of fresh shrimp and avoid a shortage of raw material at export shrimp processing factories.

At present, the price of shrimp as a raw material increased by an average of VND20,000-30,000 per kilo to VND250,000-255,000 per 20 unit-kilo, VND210,000-220,000 per 30 unit-kilo and VND180,000-185,000 per 40 unit-kilo.

The increase in price was due to high demand for shrimp as a raw material on the local market, the association said.

Banks devaluate dong amid concerns over gold imports

Commercial banks yesterday raised US dollar prices by VND10-20, after holding rates constant for nearly a week.

The central bank remained at VND21,036 yesterday, unchanged since June 28; while the interbank rate was also stable at VND21,036.

Vietcombank yesterday listed the exchange rate at VND21,110 for bid and VND21,170 for ask, up VND30 and VND20 on the previous day.

Rates also climbed at ACB and VietinBank by VND30; to VND21,090 and VND21,105 for bid and VND21,180 and VND21,185 for ask, respectively.

Eximbank's rate was VND21,090 for bid and 21,170 for ask, up VND20 and VND10, repsectively.

The move follows two weeks of devaluations against the dong by commercial banks, listing the dollar between VND21,200 and VND21,100.

Commercial foreign exchange rates remained lower than the central bank's, but within the 1 per cent margin of the central bank's official rate.

Concerned about the effect of gold material imports for jewellery production on the foreign exchange market, the central bank requested gold importers to balance supply and demand to avoid a backlash in the forex market.

Deputy director of the central bank's HCM City branch, Nguyen Hoang Minh said the application of Phu Nhuan Jewellery Co (PNJ) and Viet Nam Agribank Gold Joint Stock Corporation (AJC) to import gold materials had been approved in principle, of which PNJ would likely be allowed to import 1 tonne of gold and AJC, 1.3 tonnes. However, each import will be restricted to under 100 kg.

Le Thanh Border EZ attracts 80 projects

Le Thanh Border Economic Zone, in the northern mountainous province of Gia Lai, has attracted 84 domestically-invested projects with total registered capital of over VND210 billion (US$10 million).

The projects focus on agricultural processing, construction material production, wooden goods and warehouse development.

Big names set to draw crowds at motor show

The ninth Viet Nam Motor Show on October 23-27 will showcase the latest vehicle models, engines and advanced technologies, organisers announced at a press conference yesterday in HCM City.

The show is organised by the Viet Nam Automotive Manufacturers Association (VAMA) in collaboration with authorised car importers in Viet Nam, C.I.S Viet Nam Exhibition and Advertising Co, and Le Bros Co Ltd.

The organisers said this year's ninth show is the largest, with a record participation of automobile brands.

Fifteen automobile brands, including eight VAMA members, Ford, GM, Hino, Honda, Mercedes-Benz, Suzuki, Toyota and Vinastar, together with Nissan and 7, as well as official imported brands such as Audi, BMW, Land Rover, Renault, Nissan, Lexus and Infiniti.

Two brands, Lexus and Infiniti, are taking part in the show for the first time.

A wide range of products and services in the support industry, auto toys and accessories of well-known brands such as Michelin, Motul, Valvoline, NHC, JVC, LifePro, Robert Bosch, Hella and Pinaco are also present. Booths for banking and automobile insurance have been set up at the show.

The organizers are expecting to attract 200,000 visitors, compared to the number of 120,000 turns in 2012.

The general director of the Audi distributor in Viet Nam, Tran Tan Trung, said the exhibition was focused on products that are convenient, economical, eco-friendly and user-friendly.

It is a chance for auto brands to offer a series of services and sales promotions to promote the Vietnamese automobile industry, he added.

VMS 2013 creates opportunities for policymakers, manufacturers, official automobile importers, experts and customers to discuss topics such as importing, manufacturing, tax policies and the support industry.

The seminar to take place on October 24 will focus on countermeasures for recovering the auto market, and a development plan for the Vietnamese automobile market.

It will also make policy forecasts for sustainable development of the domestic automobile market in the forthcoming context when Viet Nam completely becomes a member of the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA).

Jesus Metelo N. Arias Jr., chairman of the VAMA, said: "Discussions among all stakeholders will take place, including government ministries and officials, and both auto manufacturers and importers.

"These talks will help drive greater cooperation towards the development and eventual implementation of a new strategic automotive policy for Viet Nam," he added. The show will take place at the Sai Gon Exhibition and Convention Center.

Exports to the Emirates rise as trade deals flourish

Viet Nam's exports to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) topped US$2.29 billion in the past seven months, up 111 per cent against the same time last year, according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade's Africa-Western Asia-Southern Asia Department.

Cell phones and spare parts showed the strongest turnover at $1.92 billion, surging 164.5 per cent year-on-year and accounting for 84 per cent of the total Vietnamese exports to the market.

This was followed by computers, electronic products and spare parts, garments, rice, wood and wood products.

During the reviewed period, Viet Nam's imports from the Emirates hit only $204 million.

The UAE is now Viet Nam's largest trade partner in West Asia and its 17th largest export market in the world.

Two-way trade has increased from $550 million in 2008 to $2.38 billion in 2012.

Advantages in agriculture, food processing, aquaculture and seafood enabled Viet Nam to effectively co-operate with the UAE to ensure food security, the department said.

Viet Nam provides the UAE with products such as rice, fish, meat, coffee, dates, food and traditional beverage products.

Recently, many UAE firms have also shown interest in investing in Viet Nam.

Vinashin seeks to lay off thousands

Minister of Transport Dinh La Thang has asked leaders of the Viet Nam Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (Vinashin) to guarantee the rights of 14,000 dismissed workers, as it announced the lay-off as part of its restructuring plan at a meeting with the ministry on Monday in Ha Noi.

Cutting thousands of employees could have a huge impact on society and the economy, the minister said.

The restructuring plan was approved in 2010, after Government inspectors uncovered Vinashin's financial malpractices. At the end of 2009, the group was more than VND86.7 trillion ($4.1 billion) in debt.

In the first phase, the corporation plans to lay off 8,000 employees. After the second phase, only 8,000 will be left.

A representative from Vinashin's Department of Labour-Wage told Biz Hub: "Each company operates in a different business sector and uses a different operating model. So each company will classify its own employees and send the list to the corporate department of labour. This evaluation process is open, transparent and democratic." Economic expert Nguyen Minh Phong said that Vinashin needed to decrease multisectoral investment to get out of debt, which led to the mass dismissals.

"Dismissing workers must be carried out in public. The information must be open and the process of selecting employees to be let go must be fair and carefully supervised," he said.

"Vinashin can also choose a flexible option such as decreasing working hours."

Besides implementing the employee-restructuring plan, Vinashin will focus on restructuring its debt as well as business production, operation and management. In the first eight months of 2013, the corporation handed over 20 out of 69 ships. Its revenue reached VND2,700 billion (approximately US$128 million), or 39.67 per cent of the yearly target.

Viet Nam wood exports surpass regional rivals

With estimated exports of US$5.5 billion this year Viet Nam is set to become Southeast Asia's biggest wood and wood products exporter, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

In the first eight months, exports jumped 11.6 per cent to over $3.3 billion after strong growth in shipments to most markets including South Korea, Japan, China, and the US.

Nguyen Ton Quyen, general secretary of the Viet Nam Timber and Forest Product Association (Vifores), told Thoi Bao Kinh Te Viet Nam (Vietnam Economic Times) that orders have increased by 20-30 per cent this year.

At some companies they have surged by up to 50 per cent, he added.

He attributed the increase mainly to the global economic recovery.

The newspaper says most economies like Japan, the US and EU have recovered, pushing demand for wood products up.

Many importers have also moved their orders from China to Viet Nam because of lower wages and the need to find an alternative to avoid risk.

Though the quality of Vietnamese timber products is acknowledged in many markets, some exporters said they remain worried because the orders have increased so quickly.

They were facing shortages of funds, human resources, and raw materials, they added.

Nguyen Quoc Khanh, chairman of the HCM City Handicraft and Wood Industry Association, said exporters should find ways to boost capacity and improve workers' skill, and this year is a good time to do that.

Small companies must co-operate with and support each other to ensure all of them execute their orders, while big companies should help smaller ones, Vifores said.

Last year exports were up over 15 per cent to $4.7 billion.

The ministry said if there were conducive policies to develop raw material sources and human resources, exports could go up to $15-20 billion by 2025-30.

Credit grows in line with annual target

Total lending of all credit institutions grew 6.45 per cent in the first eight months of the year, the State Bank of Viet Nam (SBV) has reported.

Loans in dong increased 10 per cent, with interest rates falling by 3-5 per cent. Foreign currency loans fell by 11.55 per cent in line with national anti-dollarisation policies, it said.

At the end of August, loans with interest rates of up to 13 per cent accounted for nearly three quarters of all lending, up 41.6 per cent over the end of last year. Loans with interest rates of 13-15 per cent represented about 17 per cent, down 29.3 per cent.

Loans with interest rates of over 15 per cent made up just 8 per cent, a drop of 20.6 per cent from the ratio at the end of 2012.

The SBV said lending continued to concentrate on prioritised sectors that assisted production and exports of the country's major products such as rice and seafood, and helped bring in significant amounts of foreign currency.

Lending for home purchases and rentals aimed to prop up the ailing property market was stepped up, but remained limited.

By August 31, commercial banks had registered housing loans worth a combined US$5.02 million to individual customers, and disbursed about $3.3 million. For businesses, they registered loans worth $33.71 million, but only disbursed about $2.12 million.

In the first eight months, total deposits at credit institutions grew about 10.5 per cent, although deposit interest rates declined by 2-3 per cent.

Deposits in foreign currencies rose significantly by 7.23 per cent, despite official commitments about the dollar/dong exchange rate stability, while deposits in dong were up around 11 per cent.

According to the SBV, total money supplies in the economy increased 9.16 per cent in the first eight months in line with the annual target of 14-16 per cent money supply growth.

SCIC charter capital likely to be increased

The State Capital Investment Corporation (SCIC)'s charter capital will likely be increased eightfold to VND40 trillion (US$1.81 billion), but the corporation will be dissolved if it loses money for a long time or fails to meet tasks assigned by the State, according to a draft Ministry of Finance regulation.

Under the draft, which was publicised on the finance ministry's website, the Prime Minister will decide whether the corporation is dissolved.

The draft also mentions the rights and responsibilities of members of the SCIC's Membership Council and its leaders. According to the document, members and the general director will be dismissed if they fail to meet assigned tasks and targets or wrongly report the corporation's financial status.

Under the draft, SCIC's primary objectives are to represent the interest of State capital in enterprises and invest in key sectors and essential industries in order to strengthen the dominant role of the State sector.

The corporation is required to oversee profits resulting from State capital invested in the corporation, as well as capital at State-owned firms that the corporation manages.

Senior economist Pham Chi Lan said that the document focused on the corporation's business performance but did not address raising capital. To raise capital, SCIC should sell firms that it managed, she said.

Banking expert Nguyen Tri Hieu said a company that had savings at banks like SCIC would not need much capital. Normally, a company needed capital for business performance but not for depositing at banks, he said.

Previously, SCIC raised concern when it reported that bank deposits accounted for 40 per cent of its revenue in 2012. Out of VND3.89 trillion ($185.7 million) in revenue, VND2.151 trillion ($102.4 million), or 55 per cent, came from dividends.

Interest from the corporation's deposits accounted for up to 40 per cent. Meanwhile, the sale of State capital, supposedly SCIC's main business area, accounted for just 4 per cent of revenue.

However, Dang Quyet Tien, deputy director of the Ministry of Finance's finance department, said that SCIC obeyed the law, saying that savings was a good option to protect State capital if financial conditions were not good.

Dak Nong can develop by capitalising on its strengths

Dak Nong Province should base its development on the advantages it has, namely land, crops and animals, Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has said.

Speaking at a meeting yesterday with provincial authorities, Phuc said 10 years after the establishment of Dak Nong, it remained the poorest province in the Central Highlands.

According to the provincial People's Committee, despite the global economic downturn and difficulties facing the country's economy, Dak Nong has achieved economic growth of 11.4 per cent this year.

It has attained 9.1 per cent growth in agriculture.

But the province has been facing a slowdown in revenues and is expected to miss its revenue target by nearly a third this year.

Infrastructure works like construction of district-level hospitals and other facilities have been delayed as a result of falling finances.

The immigrant population (from other provinces) is one of the biggest challenges facing the newly established province since the influx not only puts paid to the province's development master plan but also exerts pressure on its infrastructure and social welfare systems.

The number of poor and "nearly poor" account for 23.35 per cent of the population, with ethnic people accounting for 35.1 per cent of the poor, the highest in the five provinces in the Central Highlands region.

The province has people belonging to 40 ethnic groups.

Speaking at the meeting, Deputy Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development Le Quoc Doanh said enabling farmers to carry on intensive farming would be one of the best policies to alleviate hunger and poverty in the province.

Intensive farming would help improve the yields of crops like coffee, pepper, and maize and at the same time preserve resources like water and land, he said.

Deputy Minister for Transport Nguyen Hong Truong said his ministry had plans to fund projects to upgrade and expand crucial transport networks in the province.

The money would be raised from businesses and through public bonds, he said.

Japanese HR firm buys stake in Anphabe

Tokyo-based venture capital firm Recruit Global Incubation Partners has bought a 19.8 per cent stake in employer branding consultant Anphabe Joint Stock Company.

"The investment sets an important foundation for Anphabe JSC to support companies in Viet Nam to attract, develop, and retain talent more effectively through advanced employer branding solutions," Thanh Nguyen, founder and CEO of Anphabe, said.

The strategic investment will enable Anphabe to become the first in Viet Nam to offer four key services – employer branding strategy, employer branding creative development, employer branding activation, and employer branding health check.

The value of the deal has not been disclosed.

RGIP, a corporate venture capital arm of Recruit Holdings, invests in innovative start-ups in Asia and offers industry knowledge and expertise to entrepreneurs.

Recruit is a leading integrated human resources solution provider with revenues of US$10.5 billion last year.

ASEAN coffee, cashew training course begins

Agricultural extension officials and farm owners from Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Viet Nam are taking part in an ASEAN training course for intensive coffee and cashew farming techniques that began in Binh Duong Province on September 16.

Organised by the National Agricultural Extension Centre, it is part of the ASEAN co-operation programme in agricultural training and extension for 2012-15.

To run until September 21, it will provide a forum for trainees to discuss and share experiences on all aspects of coffee and cashew production such as selection of seedlings, disease control, and harvest, processing and preservation techniques.

They will visit cashew and coffee model farms, a cashew processing plant in Binh Phuoc Province, and a cashew research centre and a coffee processing plant in Dong Nai Province.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Mai Thanh Phung, chief of the National Agriculture Extension Centre's HCM City office, said the country's coffee and cashew industries have developed strongly in recent years, greatly helping improve farmers' earnings.

Last year for the first time Viet Nam surpassed Brazil to become the largest robusta coffee exporter, accounting for some 70 per cent of all shipments.

Dang Hoang Giang, general secretary of the Viet Nam Cashew Association, said the country has been the world's largest cashew exporter since 2006.

Viet Nam has around 1,000 companies that can process around one million tonnes of raw cashew nuts annually, he said.

The country is expected to export around 250,000 tonnes of nuts worth $1.5 billion this year, slightly up from 2012.

"Despite such achievements, the coffee and cashew industries face difficulties, including degradation of plants resulting in decreased yields, farmers preferring other trees for higher profits, diseases, and others," Phung said.

Besides, they mainly export raw products, which offer low value, he said.

He said the industries should adopt comprehensive measures to improve productivity and quality and improve their global competitiveness.

He listed measures like zoning to achieve dedicated cultivation areas, use of advanced technologies in farming, harvest, processing, and preservation, and building brands.

Conference says ‘Third platform' in computing will help develop Viet Nam

The so-called "third platform," which is expected to change the face of computing, will take strong root in Viet Nam to support industrialisation and modernisation, the Viet Nam ICT Outlook conference held in HCM City agreed.

Speaking at the conference held late last week, Chu Tien Dung, chairman of HCM City Computer Association (HCA) – one of the organisers — said the five key trends in the third platform are cloud computing, big data, mobility, social network, and internet of things.

"They have created a new revolution in ICT, creating a basis for sustainable development of the economy and society.

"It has created a significant change in the working environment, connecting people with people, equipment with equipment, equipment with people, supervisors with service and application suppliers, manufacturers and end-users, forming a new ecosystem.

"For Viet Nam's economic integration with ASEAN in 2015 and turn it into a strong nation in ICT and other industries, it is necessary to have a breakthrough in vision, mechanism, and management."

The mainframe and the personal computer are dubbed the first and second platforms.

Attendees offered several suggestions for developing the third platform.

One of them was a master plan for ICT development at State enterprises focusing on the role of the third platform.

Public spending policies should be drafted based on third platform services, some said.

Use of the third platform for business operations and management was also recommended.

Companies and organisations were encouraged to focus on improving customer services, human resources, and distribution channels by using the third platform.

Officials from the Ministry of Science and Technology said that despite the economic situation, the ICT industry managed to sustain its growth.

Tran Nguyen Chung, head of the National Steering Committee for ICT, said: "2012 saw slower growth in software and digital content revenues, no growth in mobile subscriptions, and a drop in fixed phone subscriptions."

Yet the hardware sector posted strong growth and telecom and broadcasting revenues recovered, resulting in reasonably good growth for the industry, he said.

This year is forecast to be another tough one for the Vietnamese economy and the ICT industry, and requires greater effort from the latter to remain sustainable, he added.

Titled "Compete on the new platform" this year, the 18th annual conference was jointly organised by the HCA along with the city Departments of Information and Communications and Science and Technology.

ASEAN coffee, cashew planters trade techniques

Agricultural extension officials and farm owners from Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Viet Nam have taken part in an ASEAN training course for intensive coffee and cashew farming techniques in Binh Duong Province.

Organised by the National Agricultural Extension Centre, it is part of the ASEAN co-operation programme in agricultural training and extension for 2012-15.

The course provided a forum for trainees to discuss and share experiences on all aspects of coffee and cashew production such as selection of seedlings, disease control, and harvest, processing and preservation techniques.

They visited cashew and coffee model farms, a cashew processing plant in Binh Phuoc Province, and a cashew research centre and a coffee processing plant in Dong Nai Province.

Mai Thanh Phung, chief of the National Agriculture Extension Centre's HCM City office, said the country's coffee and cashew industries had developed strongly in recent years, greatly helping improve farmers' earnings.

Last year for the first time Viet Nam surpassed Brazil to become the largest robusta coffee exporter, accounting for some 70 per cent of all shipments.

Dang Hoang Giang, general secretary of the Viet Nam Cashew Association, said the country had been the world's largest cashew exporter since 2006.

Viet Nam has around 1,000 companies that can process around one million tonnes of raw cashew nuts annually.

The country is expected to export around 250,000 tonnes of nuts worth $1.5 billion this year, slightly up from 2012.

"Despite such achievements, the coffee and cashew industries face difficulties, including degradation of plants resulting in decreased yields, farmers preferring other trees for higher profits, diseases, and others," Phung said.

Besides, they mainly exported raw products, which offered low value, he said.

He said the industries should adopt comprehensive measures to improve productivity and quality and improve their global competitiveness.