PM approves equitisation plan for Vietnam Seaproducts Corp.

The Prime Minister has approved the plan to equitise the Vietnam National Seaproducts Corporation (Seaprodex).

Under the plan, Seaprodex’s total value for equitisation is more than 1.48 trillion VND (70.47 million USD), including more than 1.37 trillion VND (65.14 million USD) owned by the State, part of which will be sold.

After equitisation, the company’s charter capital will stand at 1.25 trillion VND (more than 59.52 million USD), 51 percent of which will be owned by the State.

Out of the remaining capital, 423,600 shares or 0.34 percent of the chartered capital will be sold to the firm’s employees at preferential prices. Another 60.8 million shares, 48.66 percent of the chartered capital, will be put up for public auction.

From 2015 onwards, the State-owned shares in Seaprodex are scheduled to be divested to account for less than 51 percent of the chartered capital.

The PM tasked the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development with the organisation of the auction of shares and the stock market listing for Seaprodex.

In addition to the parent company, Seaprodex currently owns five affiliates, five partner companies and a joint venture.

In recent years, the company’s consolidated revenue totalled approximately 3.5-3.6 trillion VND (more than 165 million USD) a year.

In 2013, the corporation recorded 3.46 trillion VND (more than 164.71 million USD) in net revenue and 105 billion VND (5 million USD) in pre-tax profit.-

Finance Ministry supports businesses in customs procedures

The Finance Ministry issued a guiding document for customs officials on dealing with the current challenges in customs procedures stipulated in Circular No.128/2013/TT-BTC and Circular No.22/2014/TT-BTC in an effort to support import-export businesses.

Regarding the procedures for temporary imports and re-exports, as mentioned in Point b Clause 1 and Point b Clause 2 under Article 41 of Circular 128/2013/TT-BTC, customs officials no longer need to request customs declarants to submit copies of their export contracts.

Customs officials have to supervise re-exported goods until they are released and can confirm customs declarations without the signatures of department leaders.

In the case of goods being brought from outside the country to bonded warehouses via road and waterway border gates, businesses are not required to submit documents on their load along with their customs records, according to Point b.4 Clause under 1 Article 59 of Circular 128.

When completing procedures for on-site exports, in addition to the measures mentioned in Point c Clause 5 under Article 27 of Circular 22/2014/TT-BTC, the respective customs department must send a completion certificate for on-site export procedures to the department in charge of completing the on-site import paperwork.

Meanwhile, in addition to the measures mentioned in Point c Clause 5 under Article 27 of Circular 22/2014/TT-BTC, the customs department that completes on-site import procedures has to set up a data-base of completed on-site export declarations. In case loads need to be inspected, the import customs office does not need to check if an inspection was already carried out by the export customs department.-

German enterprises eye up Vietnamese market

German enterprises are showing an increased interest in the Vietnamese market, proven by their decision to host the Asian-Pacific Conference of German Businesses (APK) in Vietnam this November.

Since the two countries upgraded their relations to a bilateral strategic partnership in October 2011, their business communities have benefitted from increased mutual trust and investment links, according to the European Market Department under the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

German businesses are keen on exploring Vietnam , the dynamic and promising market, which acts as a bridge between ASEAN and the northeastern Asian nations, including China, Japan and the Republic of Korea.

Trade between Germany and Vietnam reached over 4.9 billion USD during the first eight months of this year, with Vietnam generating nearly 3.32 billion USD in export revenue and importing goods worth more than 1.63 billion USD.

Currently, the European country ranks 22 nd out of Vietnam’s 101 foreign investors, with 238 valid foreign direct investment projects worth 1.3 billion USD.

Notably, leading German brands such as Mercedes Benz, Siemens and Adidas are very popular in Vietnam, which has evolved as a new promising market.

The Vietnamese Government’s efforts to implement its economic development policy in the light of rapid and deep global integration are considered a plus point, German Ambassador to Vietnam Jutta Frasch said.

Particularly, Vietnam and the EU are accelerating negotiations on a free trade agreement (FTA) in a bid to increase demand in the respective markets.

As one of Vietnam’s biggest trade partners, Germany provides technical assistance that enables Vietnam to penetrate the EU market, especially the markets for garments, textiles, footwear and seafood.

Sugar production firms struggle with high inventory

The total inventory of sugar stored in factories throughout Vietnam amounted to 280,000 tonnes on September 15 this year, 58,690 tonnes more than last year, according to statistics released by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD).

Domestic sugar producers’ monthly sales reached 50,000–60,000 tonnes, much lower than the average of 140,000 tonnes sold in 2013, MARD’s Department of Processing and Trade for Agriculture-Forestry-Fisheries and Salt Production reported.

Although domestic sales increased to 92,000 tonnes during a month from mid August, the figure still falls short of the same period last year’s figures by 10,000 tonnes, the department said.

Chairman of the Vietnam Sugar and Sugarcane Association (VSSA) Nguyen Thanh Long attributed the situation to sugar smuggling, which is posing a challenge for domestic firms.

Meanwhile, Bui Thi Quy, Director General of the Con Long My Phat Company, said the Government has allowed some domestic factories to import as much as 70,000 tonnes of sugar, contributing to harming the domestic enterprises.

Long explained that the decline in sales is partly a result of Vietnam ’s commitments to the World Trade Organisation. The VSSA leader proposed the country seek suitable measures to ensure equality.

Regarding the control of illegally imported sugar, Long asserted that it is was necessary to address the shortcomings of the licence granting procedure for sugar producers and traders by strictly verifying their capacities.

In reality, many enterprises were abusing their licence and selling sugar illegally, he added.

On top of this, improving sugar producers’ access to capital and bank loans was crucial for their development and future existence, he concluded.

Ca Mau strives towards sustainable shrimp production

As many as 741 households in the southern-most province of Ca Mau joined a Dutch project in 2013-2014 to farm certified organic shrimp and protect forests.

The Mangroves and Market (MAM) Project was funded by the Dutch Development Organisation (SNV) in cooperation with Minh Phu Seafood Corp., a local shrimp exporter who pledged to buy certified local organic shrimp at a ten percent premium.

MAM manager Nguyen Thi Bich Thuy said certified shrimp production helped increase farmers’ incomes and forge links between shrimp farmers and businesses.

Target households and businesses are provided with training on organic shrimp production techniques in compliance with international requirements.

Currently, an additional 200 households are being supported financially and practically to farm shrimp and replant forest on an area of around 40ha.

The project aims to expand the coverage of shrimp farming integrated with forestry to 5,000ha, and help 1,300 household producers get certification by 2015.

Four stocks excluded from HNX 30 Index Basket

The Hanoi Stock Exchange has decided to remove Bim Son Cement JSC (BCC), Doan Xa Port (DXP), Education Development and Investment JSC (EID), and PetroVietnam Construction Co (PVX) out of its HNX 30 Index Basket.

The decision came after the October regular review on the adjustment of the index system and will come into effect on November 3 this year.

Among the removers, PVX and DXP were earlier added to the basket in the April review.

Substitutes for them are Song Hong Construction JSC (ICG), Hudland Real Estate Investment and Development (HLD), FIT Investment (FIT) and PetroVietnam Coating JSC.

The HNX 30 Index opened on July 9, 2012, with the base point of 132.07 points, and closed at 173.93 points on July 16, 2014.

The index review is carried out in April and October annually, focusing on considering conditions to keep stocks in the current basket and selecting substitutes.

After the adjustment, the new basket consists of at least 25 stocks from the old basket and five new ones.

Updated information on the reviewed financial statement and disclosure of information on corporate operations are also considered to remove certain stocks from the basket.

Garment and textile sector sees material localization up to 50%

According to the Vietnam Garment and Textile Group (Vinatex), local material suppliers have so far satisfied 50 percent of apparel producers’ needs, including 2 percent of cotton orders, one eighth of garment needs and 140,000 tonnes of fibre a year.

Local supplies, however, serve mainly the manufacturing of average-grade products and working clothes while high-grade products are still using imported materials.

Specifically, seven factories are producing vest-made garments while six others are engaged in kaki and high-end jean materials. Fasteners and other auxiliaries are now locally made.

Vinatex Vice Director Hoang Ve Dung unveiled that industry businesses have worked together to form a full material supply chain.

Accordingly, Vinatex-Hong Linh, Phu Bai 2 and Dong Van fibre plants have been put into operation, churning out an additional 1,270 tonnes of fibres coded Ne30.

It is expected that the local apparel turnover will see a rise of 10-15 percent. Vinatex alone is estimated to contribute around 22 trillion VND to the total, or 30 percent.

Russian firms explore Vietnamese market

A delegation of Russian businesses is on a working visit to Vietnam from October 20-25 as part of the Russia-Vietnam: new economy project

The delegation includes representatives from Russia’s high-tech companies in a number of fields, such as chip manufacturing and production, electrical equipment, water supply, marine ships, and energy-saving technology.

Russian firms are eyeing up the Vietnamese market and keen to transfer advanced technologies to Vietnam, said Strozhaeva Lubov Viktorovna, head of the project, told reporters at the October 20 press conference in Hanoi.

While in Vietnam, the delegation is scheduled to have meetings with officials from the National Assembly’s Committee for Science, Technology and Environment and the Vietnamese Academy of Science and Technology (VAST), relevant ministries and the business circle.

As part of the two countries’ technological cooperation, bilateral dialogues have progressed substantially in recent years, Viktorovna said.

The two sides signed a number of significant agreements on trade cooperation and technology transfer, established numerous manufacturing units, and built business networks in Vietnam, she added.

Vietnam exports 4.9 million tonnes of rice

Vietnam has exported more than 139 tonnes of rice during the first two weeks of October, bringing the total rice export volume so far this year to 4.9 million tonnes, generating more than 2.1 billion USD in value, according to the Vietnam Food Association (VFA).

The price for rice in October is 458.35 USD per tonne, a slight increase from 439.11 USD per tonne in September.

Without Government interventions to increase temporary rice stocks, the price remained high due to the large volume of rice exported to China via border gates.

Vietnam expects to produce 25.48 million tonnes of paddy for all of 2014, of which over 17 million tonnes of paddy, equivalent to 8.5 tonnes of rice, will be shipped abroad.

Lang Son’s anise export expected to increase

Lang Son’s anise export volume reached about 1,300 tonnes in the first nine months of 2014, the Vietnam Economic News reported.

According to the provincial Department of Industry and Trade, the export volume by the year’s end is expected to reach more than 2,000 tonnes, up about 700 tonnes compared with 2013.

Vietnam has become one of the world’s two biggest star anise producers. Anise trees are mainly grown in the northern provinces of Quang Ninh, Cao Bang and Bac Can but the most famous region for growing this tree is Lang Son.

Anise tree has long been a strategic product for Lang Son and the province’s star anise products built its own brand name as it registered geographical indication in 2007.

Anise has been used as a spice and medicine for thousands of years in Vietnam and China. The anise fruit and attar are also attractive for food processing (aperitif alcohol, soft drinks and confectionaries).

Its attractive taste has good effects for digestion and boosts appetite. In traditional medicine in Vietnam as well as in China, Japan and India, the anise is also used to cure stomachache, relieve pain and reduce heartburn, vomiting, arthritis, back pain, food poisoning and snake bites.

According to statistics, in 2011 Lang Son only exported over 500 tonnes of dried star anise. The export volumes increased to 1,100 and 1,500 tonnes in 2012 and 2013 respectively and expected to reach about 2,000 tonnes this year. This is a good sign for anise growers in Lang Son.

Not only increasing in volume, this year’s anise export prices also increased sharply compared to previous years. In 2012, dried anise export prices reached only 20,000 VND per kg, in 2013 it ranged from 40,000-48,000 VND per kg and topped 60,000 VND per kg in 2014. It is notable that the products are not only increasing in volume and prices but there are more countries taking interest in importing Lang Son’s products.

Several years ago, anise export was mainly through informal channels to China, but now, a large amount of dried anise is exported through customs procedures to India, Malaysia and Indonesia.

There are about 33,000ha of star anise production areas in Lang Son, of which 10,000 ha are in harvest time. The annual output of the local anise is from 6,000 to 7,000 tonnes.

Vietcombank ranked first amongst Vietnamese listed companies

The Bank for Foreign Trade of Vietnam (Vietcombank) came first in Forbes Vietnam’s top 50 of listed companies this year, its second year on the list.

With over 31 trillion VND (over 1.47 billion USD) in revenue and 67.2 trillion VND (3.2 billion USD) in market capitalisation, the bank was praised for its number of business clients, its payment and trade services, and its strategies for the domestic retail market.

In 2014, Vietcombank was also named Vietnam’s best retail bank by the Asian Banker magazine. It is the only Vietnamese bank included in the list of the world’s top 500 banks selected by The Banker magazine for a two-year period (2013-2014).

Forbes Vietnam’s list honoured companies operating in 12 sectors that stand out for their excellent business performances and healthy profits.

Along with Vietcombank, the Ho Chi Minh Securities Corporation and the Military Commercial Joint Stock Bank were also included in the financial sector.

Other firms on the list include the Petrovietnam Technical Services Corporation, the Petrovietnam Gas Joint Stock Corporation, the Hoang Anh Gia Lai Group, the Vietnam Dairy Products Joint Stock Company (Vinamilk), and the Masan Group.

Altogether, the 50 listed companies hold a market capitalisation of more than 741 trillion VND (nearly 35.3 billion USD), accounting for 65 percent of the entire market capitalisation based on the prices of the closing session of April 25, 2014.

Forbes Vietnam is a monthly magazine published in Vietnamese for leading CEOs and entrepreneurs.

The magazine plans to create more lists of outstanding companies and individuals on the Vietnamese market, including a list of the top 30 most successful individuals under 30.-

Garment sector urged to tighten operations

Garment and textile businesses should assume defensive postures to maintain market share and tighten up operations, as a precaution against decline, said Hoang Ve Dung, Deputy General Director of the Vietnam National Textile and Garment Group (Vinatex).

A trending downturn in the overall number of manufacturing orders could signify deterioration in the business in 2015, according to the General Statistics Office of Vietnam.

But Dung said the shortage of orders appears temporary, and does not betray a long-term market downturn.

Vietnamese garment and textile exports jumped 18.9 percent in the last nine months to 15.5 billion USD, buoyed by growth in traditional markets such as the US, the EU, Japan and the Republic of Korea.

Dung's advice to businesses translates to focusing on shoring up weak spots in marketing, boosting trade promotion to existing partners with a view to not losing any customers and keeping a close eye on the company's purse strings.

Business plans should be strictly aimed at maintaining the company's existing market share, Dung said. To this end, domestic businesses should become more proactive through participating in public events such as fashion shows and exhibitions.

The Vietnamese garment sector is facing fierce competition from Bangladesh, India and Indonesia, which have more material and labour resources. Local garment and textile businesses have been greatly affected by other nations, especially China, which can lower product prices to attract customers. Vietnamese businesses are likely to lose on their home turf in 2015, unable to compete.

But these businesses have already started renovating their methods of production from outsourcing activities to Freight on Board and Original Design Manufacturers models, which is a step in the right direction, Dung said.

Free trade agreements between Vietnam and the EU and the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan and the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) bring hope for the future of the industry.

These agreements will open up future opportunities for the sector, but first businesses need to play defence and focus on improving their competitiveness.-

Vingroup inaugurates trade centre in Quang Ninh

Vietnam’s property developer Vingroup officially launched its Vincom Centre in Ha Long city in the northern province of Quang Ninh on October 19.

As the group’s third trade centre in the country, the five-storey centre covers an area of over 37,000m2 and was designed in a grand European architectural style.

It is considered an oasis for modern shopping with a wide choice of products from domestic and international brands on offer.

In addition to retail outlets, the facility includes a supermarket, restaurants and entertainment venues.

Vingroup is Vietnam’s leading private sector real estate and tourism company, including subsidiaries such as Vincom (high-end shopping centres), Vinhomes (residential properties), Vinpearl (tourism and recreation facilities) and Vinmec (hospitals).

Vietnam to lift casino ban for Vietnamese citizens

Casinos are to be open to Vietnamese citizens aged 21 and above who meet certain background and financial criteria, according to the amendments to the draft decree on casinos that are currently under consideration.

The current regulations only allow foreign nationals and Vietnamese expatriates to play in casinos, Deputy Head of the Ministry of Finance’s Department of Finance and Banking Trinh Phong Lan told the media.

In mid-2013, the Politburo approved in principle a pilot scheme to allow Vietnamese nationals to enter the casino in Van Don’s exclusive economic zone in the northern province of Quang Ninh.

The country now boasts seven casinos, five small-sized and two large-scale ones.

In addition, the Politburo has also allowed calling for investment in casinos in Phu Quoc and Van Don’s high-end tourism complexes.

The 5 billion USD Van Don casino was funded by Tuan Chau Group and Australia’s ISC Corporation. Meanwhile, Phu Quoc casino, the first to be approved by the Politburo, has yet to find an investor.

Farmers profit from improved salt yields

Farmers in Ho Chi Minh City's outlying Can Gio district have seen higher incomes as a result of advanced production techniques, including the use of canvas sheets on fields to produce cleaner salt.

The use of the sheets has increased both quality and yield, with farmers earning about 38.2 million VND (1,800 USD) per hectare per year, doubling the profit made from traditional methods, according to local authorities. Most farmers harvest two hectares of salt fields.

In 2007, the district initiated the canvas-sheet programme over an area of 2,000sq.m. Fields lined with canvas sheets protect the salt from soil contamination, improving quality.

Today, there are 909ha of fields that use canvas sheets, or 54.6 percent of the district's total salt area, according to the city's Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The district's salt fields are located mostly in Ly Nhon, Thanh An and Long Hoa communes and Can Thanh town.

Nguyen Thi Bich, who owns 3ha of salt fields in Thanh An commune's Thieng Lieng hamlet, began using the sheets this year. She said they have helped reduce the production time from 10-15 days to seven days per harvest.

Early this year, the Thieng Lieng Women Union in cooperation with the Thieng Lieng Salt Cooperative showed farmers in the hamlet how to use canvas sheets to increase their profits.

This year, traders have offered an average price of 1,300 VND a kilo of salt harvested on canvas sheets, 100 VND higher than salt produced in fields without the sheets.

In 2012, Can Gio authorities began to offer funds to help farmers build cellars to store condensed salt water from fields after rains.

In the 2013-14 salt harvesting season, district authorities and the city's Sub-department of Rural Development and Department of Science and Technology gave financial support to 17 households who harvested a total of 34 haof salt in Ly Nhon and Thanh An communes.

Hoang Thi Mai, deputy head of the city's Sub-department of Rural Development, said the city will expand the area of salt fields lined with canvas sheets.

With a 23-km long coastline, Can Gio, one of the country's top salt producers, has produced 1,666ha of salt this year, up 150ha over the same period last year, according to the city's Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.-

Additional loans of 94 million USD for agricultural development

The governor of the State Bank has approved nearly 2 trillion VND (94 million USD) in loans to 19 agricultural project under a pilot preferential credit programme tailored for agricultural development.

The 19 projects in 16 cities and provinces were announced in the State Bank’s Decision 2064-QD-NHNN. This is the third credit package approved by the State Bank under the pilot programme.

Accordingly, the Mekong Delta province of Soc Trang will receive the largest sum of 385 billion VND ( 18.1 million USD) for one project, while the northern province of Lao Cai is only borrowing 13 billion VND (613,000 USD).

The central province of Ha Tinh plans to implement 3 projects worth 192.14 billion VND (9 million USD), and Ninh Thuan province announced 2 projects worth 155.7 billion VND (7.3 million USD).

The two previous packages provided a combined over 2.7 trillion VND (127 million USD) from commercial banks.

The pilot preferential credit programme for agricultural development was initiated in the Government’s Resolution 14/NQ-CP issued on March 5 this year.

Selling by foreign investors prompts caution

Six consecutive weeks of net share sales by foreign investors, worth more than 1.1 trillion VND (52.1 million USD), have spooked the Vietnamese stock markets.

At the Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange, foreign investors were responsible for a combined net sale of 1.031 trillion VND (nearly 49 million USD) during the week.

Most of their sales focused on leading shares that negatively affected VN-Index performance, such as PV Gas, PetroVietnam Drilling and Wells Service, Hoa Phat Group and VinGroup.

The benchmark VN-Index lost a cumulative 5.25 percent to fall below 600 points, closing the week at 585.28 points. Meanwhile, the VN30, which tracks the top 30 shares by market value and liquidity, declined by 1.14 percent to end at 651.72 points on October 17.

The investors also unloaded shares at the Hanoi Stock Exchange, but the sales value of sold shares was modest, at 71.7 billion VND (3.4 million USD).

Nguyen Van Quy, analyst at FPT Securities Company, said the downward trend on global stock markets would likely undermine the role of foreign investors in the domestic market, particularly when they keep selling shares.

At the Hanoi Stock Exchange, the HNX-Index was trimmed down by 3.11 percent during the week, finishing at 87.64 points on October 17.

Rising caution also brought down liquidity at both exchanges.

Daily market volume at the Ho Chi Minh City market dropped by 23 percent compared with that of the previous week, averaging nearly 132 million shares worth 2.46 trillion VND (116.6 million USD) per session.

In Hanoi, the trading volume was down by nearly 10 percent against the previous week, averaging 71.6 million shares worth nearly 1.02 trillion VND (48.2 million USD) per day.

However, long declines have brought the price range of many stocks to levels that were attractive to bargain-hunting investors. This cushioned the market on the week's last session.

"The current prive level becomes rather attractive. Accompanied by the third-quarter reporting season, many shares will likely recover and facilitate a short-term rebound," Quy said.

He mentioned blue chips which declined substantially during the past downtrend but could be the target of money inflows in the future.

"A recovery with the support of major stocks will be longer and more sustainable," Quy added.

Hanoi to host industrial, biotechnical technology fairs

Two fairs on industry and technology and biological equipment will take place in Hanoi from October 21-24.

Covering 4,500sq.m, the Vietnam International Industrial Fair 2014 (VIIF), will attract 250 businesses including 100 foreign companies from Russia, the Republic of Korea, China, Malaysia and Chinese Taiwan.

The participating firms specialise in many fields including energy, mining, mechanical engineering, support industries and technology.

Meanwhile, Biotechmart 2014, organised by the National Agency for Science and Information Technology, is described as a good opportunity for scientists from the biotechnology sector to present their research and help enterprises to access advanced technologies.

Seminars on the application of biotechnology in agriculture, pharmaceutical and environmental treatment will also be held on the sidelines of the event.

Japan workshop promotes investment in Quang Nam

Quang Nam province’s investment potential was introduced to more than 100 enterprises in the fields of industrial manufacturing, banking and human resources training in Japan’s Kansai region.

Located in the central region’s key economic zone, Quang Nam province, with its wealth in natural resources and advanced infrastructure, is in a good position to develop its processing and manufacturing industries, said Nguyen Duc Hai, Secretary of the provincial Party Committee.

The locality has implemented numerous measures to improve its investment environment and support businesses, he added.

Representatives of Japanese enterprises spoke highly of the measures taken by the province to attract foreign investment and improve its business climate.

They expressed their hope that Quang Nam will continue to facilitate Japanese businesses’ operations and strengthen trade links with Kansai region.

Several companies that currently operate successfully in Quang Nam, such as H.I.S Travel Agency and Makitech Co. Ltd, shared their experience in doing business in the locality and in Vietnam in general.-

Two FDI enterprises awarded customs priority treatment

The Prime Minister has freshly approved a proposal on considering and applying a pre-investment licensing customs priority mechanism to labor-intensive, capital-intensive enterprises even when they remain under construction.

The Ministry of Finance will revise and supplement Circular No.86/2013/TT-BCT dated June 27, 2013 in line with the PM’s instruction. The Ministry is allowed to consider the application of the principle to eligible companies during the time when the Circular has yet to be amended.

Together with approving that proposal, the PM agreed to grant the customs priority mechanism to the Vietnam Samsung Electro-Mechanics Limited Company and the Vietnam Hansol Electronics Limited Company. The PM assigned the Finance Ministry to instruct these companies to undertake necessary procedures.

The Vietnam Samsung Electro-Mechanics project has a total investment capital of 1.2 billion USD. It started in September, 2013, and is scheduled to become operational officially in January, 2015 at the Yen Binh I Industrial Park. It was designed to serve the Samsung Thai Nguyen High-tech Complex (SEVT) – where such products as mobile phones, smart phones and tablets will be produced.

The Vietnam Hansol Electronics Ltd. Co, is an affiliate of the Samsung group. The Vietnam Hansol Electronics project, costing around 150 million USD, was commenced in December, 2013 and is to complete its investment phase within 10 months.

Under the current regulations on the application of the customs priority mechanism, these companies have yet to meet the condition for the operation duration which requires them to have been operating at least two years, said the Finance Ministry.

However, to realise the efforts to streamline administrative procedures while offering incentives to investors employing a large number of workers and having a big amount of capital, and to take into account these companies’ commitments as well as the global prestige of the Samsung group, the Finance Ministry’s proposal received the nod from the Prime Minister.

The customs priority programme for enterprises was piloted in 2011 and officially ran from 2013 in accordance with the Finance Ministry’s Circular 86/2013/TT-BTC.

Under the Circular, enterprises benefiting from the scheme will enjoy simpler paperwork involved, such as fewer company documents, inspections; undertaking tax refund before inspection; having customs procedures cleared any time in a day/ seven days a week; making customs declaration once for multiple exports and imports.

In particular, when Vietnam signs an Agreement on Authorized Economic Operator (AEO) with other countries, the benefiting enterprises will also enjoy preferential treatments in these countries.

Apart from the two enterprises of Samsung, 24 out of the 50,000 import-export companies nationwide have so far been entitled to the customs priority programme.

Ben Tre expands coconut groves

Ben Tre province, the country's largest coconut cultivation area, plans to grow an additional 10,000ha of coconut trees in areas affected by climate change to 2020.

The trees will be planted in erosion-prone areas as well as sites affected by high salinity and brackish water, mostly in the three coastal districts of Ba Tri, Binh Dai and Thanh Phu, according to the Ben Tre Coconut Association.

Ho Vinh Sang, the association's chairman, said farmers will earn more profits with coconuts than with fruits, rice and vegetables in these areas, even though the yield of coconuts in the three districts is lower than in other districts.

The fibrous root system of the trees would also help prevent land erosion, he said.

The Cuu Long ( Mekong ) Delta province has a total of 60,000ha of coconut trees, accounting for 40 percent of the country's coconut cultivation area. Of that figure, 13 percent are coconut varieties sold for their juice, and the rest for their flesh.

The province's average yield is 9,700 coconuts per ha a year, 1,400 coconuts per ha higher than the country's average yield, according to the association.

Traders who harvest the whole dry coconuts at farmers' gardens can buy them for 80,000-85,000 VND a dozen. However, if the farmers harvest the coconuts, traders must pay a higher price.

In recent years, local authorities have encouraged farmers to inter-crop cacao trees with coconut trees to increase income. They have also been urged to breed blue-legged giant prawns in ponds in their coconut orchards. About 150 households that routinely grow coconut trees have been breeding shrimp on 20ha in Giong Trom and Mo Cay districts.

Bui Van Len in Mo Cay's Hiep Phuoc commune said last year he earned a profit of 7 million VND (330 USD) from breeding 500 blue-legged giant prawns in a 500 sq.m pond in his coconut orchard.

The province's Agriculture and Fisheries Extension Centre has also provided farmers with advanced techniques to breed giant prawns.

Leading shirt-maker shifts to Vietnam

TAL Group, one of the world’s biggest producers of menswear, is turning to the Vietnamese market due to rising labour cost in China.

The Hong Kong-based group provides its products to many famous brands such as Brooks Brothers, L.L.Bean, Eddie Bauer, and Burberry. One out of every six dress shirts sold in the US comes from a TAL Group factory.

TAL Chief Executive Officer Roger Lee said Vietnam accounts for only 12-15% of its production, but in the next two years the percentage may grow to 25%.

Lee affirmed TAL is reducing its reliance on Chinese workers who make up around one-third of production. However, he said, this proportion will drop in the future.

The TAL Group leader revealed labour costs in China’s Guangdong province have risen 15-20% over the last five years.

Bloomberg cited the movement of TAL Group to Vietnam as a positive response of investors to the Southeast Asian market and vivid evidence of investors growing trend of doing business in the country.

Peru seeks closer trade ties with Vietnam

The Foreign Trade Association of Peru (ComexPeru) hopes to clinch a trade and investment deal with Vietnam in the near future.

ComexPeru cited WB statistics, saying that Vietnam economy has been developing dynamically in recent years with an average annual growth rate of 5.7% during the period from 2009 to 2013.

Viettel launched its Bitel brand in the South American country of Peru on October 15

Peru exported more than US$86 million worth of goods to Vietnam in the first eight months of this year, a year-on-year increase of 256%. Of which, seafood exports reached US$59 million and agricultural and livestock exports hit US$7.6 million.

Meanwhile, its import turnover from Vietnam gained US$152 million, up 88% compared to the same period last year.

ComexPeru said a trade agreement with Vietnam will foster trade exchange between the two sides, allowing Peru to diversify its export products.

China - major market for Vietnamese fruit exports

China is the leading fruit importer of Vietnam with an import value of US$321.4 million in the first nine months of 2014, rising by 37.7% from a year earlier and accounting for one third of the country’s total figure.

It is followed by Japan with US$56.2 million and the Republic of Korea (RoK) with US$43.68 million.

Vietnam has also exported fruits to the US, Russia, Thailand, Taiwan, and Australia.

The General Department of Vietnam Customs reported that in the nine-month period, the country earned US$1.16 billion from exporting fruits abroad, a year-on-year increase of 45.2%.

Key fruit export items included litchi, banana, dragon fruit, rambutan, and star-apple.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Vietnam mainly exported fruits and vegetables to China through unofficial channels. Meanwhile, cross-border trade policies imposed by China and technical barriers and strict standards required by other markets such as Japan, RoK, Russia, and the US are really a challenge to domestic businesses.

Exports to grow by 15.9% this year: HSBC

Vietnam is quietly fixing itself. After years of credit-intensive growth, with most capital channelled into the inefficient state-owned sector, the country is taking a breather and focusing on a more sustainable growth strategy – exports.

According to HSBC report on Asian economics in the fourth quarter of this year, despites the global slowdown Vietnam’s exports are punching above their weight, expanding by 14.1% in September. Thanks to slower growth of imports, the trade balance also turned to a slight surplus of US$2.5 billion. HSBC expects export growth of 15.9% this year, taking the export-to-GDP ratio to 81.4%. The economy will likely expand by 5.7% this year and accelerate slightly to 5.8% in 2015.

HSBC hopes that some good news is likely ahead in end-2015 and 2016. The EU-Vietnam FTA is expected to conclude end-2014 or early 2015. The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) initiative will likely boost Vietnam’s manufacturing sector competitiveness. Firms that want to take advantage of its trade liberalisation policy are setting up shops in the country, boosting FDI inflows. Agricultural exports are also gaining momentum, although more work is needed to raise value-added rather than competing on pure volume.

The government’s fiscal management is improving. In the past decade, the economy suffered from too many wasteful projects that did not improve productivity. Public projects are increasingly more scrutinised and more demand-driven. The government is focusing on key infrastructure projects to alleviate bottlenecks such as highways and distribution.

A high non-performing loan ratio and the still inefficient state-owned sector remain a concern. However, the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) will likely accelerate the pace of reform towards the end of the year and into next year, although the reforms will probably increase the SBV’s supervisory capability within the regulatory framework. The government plans to equitize key firms in the fourth quarter of this year, although the state will retain majority stakes in these ‘strategic’ firms.

Russian hi-tech firms keen on Vietnamese market

A Russian delegation comprising representatives of 10 hi-tech businesses are paying a six-day visit to Vietnam to seek cooperative opportunities.

During the visit from October 20-25, which is under framework of the "Russia-Vietnam: New Economies” project, the delegation will get involved in a wide range of activities in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

At a press briefing in Hanoi on October 20, project director Strozhaeva Lubov Viktorovna said the project launched in April 2012 is aimed at strengthening trade and investment relations between Russia and Vietnam and helping their businesses transfer and apply new technologies to production.

Russian businesses are keen on enhancing cooperation with Vietnamese partners not only in traditional fields of economics, defence, science and technology and education but also in new technologies, Viktorovna said.

This is the sixth visit of Russian businesses under the project framework.

As schedule, the Russian businesspeople will work with leaders of the National Assembly’s Committee on Science, Technology and Environment, the Ministry of Science and Technology, the Ministry of Public Security, the Ministry of Construction, the Ministry of Transport, the Hanoi People’s Committee, the Russia-Vietnam Tropical Centre, Vietnam - Russia Joint Venture Bank, and some research institutes.

Several roundtable conferences will be held between Russian businesses and leading Vietnamese industrial groups including State-run corporations such as PetroVietnam and Electricity of Vietnam (EVN).

Mekong delta provinces cooperate to promote tourism

How to boost tourism connectivity among Mekong Delta provinces with the technical support of an EU-funded environmental programme was discussed at a high-level meeting in southern Kien Giang province on October 18.

The Vietnam National Administration of Tourism said the provinces of Can Tho, An Giang and Kien Giang have been identified as a key tourism development region of the country under the overall strategy  for tourism development by 2020 with a vision for 2030.

According to the EU-funded programme entitled “Environmental and Socially Responsible Tourism Capacity Development”, these provinces should more closely co-ordinate in devising action plans, encourage businesses to become involved in cooperation and improve the role of tourism local associations.

The three provinces signed a cooperative agreement to fully tap tourism potential  as a contribution to ensuring  sustainable green growth in the region.

Vu Quoc Tri, Project Manager said from now till the end of the year, the EU will continue to conduct training courses on socially responsible tourism and the Vietnam Tourism Occupational Standards (VTOS) along with other skills on service quality control for staff from provincial departments of culture, sports and tourism.

New group links female entrepreneurs

A congress held in Ha Noi yesterday launched the Viet Nam Association of Women Entrepreneurs and elected Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Ho Thi Kim Thoa its first president.

The association aims to improve women's roles in creating sustainable development in Viet Nam, and provide a forum for them to share their experiences and enhance their professional knowledge.

The association's first task will be to become a platform that connects businesswomen in all economic sectors and inspires them to contribute to national development in their chosen fields. It will also serve as a bridge between women in business and Government agencies.

Speaking at the event, Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said he appreciated the contributions made by women to the nation's development.

The Party and State have continuously strived to enhance female representation in the business community, he said.

He also said he hoped the association would help businesswomen improve their capacities and skills to contribute to socioeconomic development and social equality.

Phuc also highly appreciated the Women's Union's efforts in past years to support businesswomen trying to balance work and family.

He hoped the new association would help talented businesswomen contribute to the country's socio-economic development and gender equality cause as well as protect its members' legal rights.

Top 100 women leaders

The Quyen Nang Phai Dep (Powerful Women) gala held on Saturday in HCM City honoured the top 100 women leaders in Viet Nam.

The Women Leaders International Networking Club organised the first-time event in collaboration with Lady Luxury magazin, and Nam Huong Media and Investment Corporation under the instruction of the Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry. It attracted more than 300 businesses and celebrities.

The women were selected for their outstanding achievements in the economic, cultural and social sectors, as well as participation in their communities.

Vinamilk CEO Mai Kieu Lien was selected as one of the 48 most powerful women in the 2014 Forbes Asia Power Businesswomen list.

Mai Kieu Lien, CEO of the country's largest dairy producer Vinamilk, appears in the list at the 23rd place. Lien, 60, was honoured for her great contribution to Vinamilk, which Forbes describes as "one of the most profitable brands in Viet Nam and a blue chip on the local stock exchange," referring to its consistent growth in revenue and profit since listing in 2006.

Last year Vinamilk posted a 17 per cent increase in revenue, ranking in $1.5 billion; Lien plans to double that by 2017 as she takes the company global.

Lien was born in France and educated in Moscow. In 1976, she returned to Viet Nam and joined Southern Milk&Cafe.