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Vietnam to export more fruits; First Lexus dealership in Hanoi makes debut; Vinatex prepares material sources for subsidiaries; Remittances to HCM City top US$5 billion; Vietnam needs US$30 billion for green growth

Dung Quat refinery expansion unveiled

The Dung Quat Economic Zone Authority (DEZA) and the Binh Son Oil Refinery Co. Ltd on January 23 unveiled a plan to upgrade and expand the Dung Quat Oil Refinery in the central province of Quang Ngai.

The Binh Son Company received the investment approval for the project last month.

The 1.82 billion USD project, invested by the Vietnam National Oil and Gas Group, will increase the plant’s annual capacity from 6.5 million tonnes of products to 8.5 million tonnes.

The expanded refinery will cover more than 300 hectares, including 108 hectares of land and 196 hectares of water surface in Binh Tri and Binh Thuan communes, Binh Son district. The work is scheduled to be completed by 2022.

Vice Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee and Head of the DEZA Pham Nhu So said the authority is entering the third phase of construction for the Tay Bac Van Tuong (Northwest Van Tuong) resettlement area, which will accommodate 341 households with 1,247 people relocated for the project.

Dung Quat and its smaller counterpart Cat Lai in Ho Chi Minh City are the only operational oil refineries in Vietnam. The Dung Quat plant opened in February 2009 and currently satisfies about 30 percent of domestic demand.-

Bank credit swells in two largest cities

Growing demand is expected to significantly boost commercial banks' credit for January, based on information from banks in the country's two largest cities Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

The HCM City Statistics Office reported that the city's lending in January has risen by 11 percent, against the same period last year, and is up 1.9 percent from last month to 1,057 trillion VND (49.39 billion USD).

During this month, lending for the Vietnamese dong contributed to a growth of 9.9 percent against the same period last year, while lending in US dollars increased by 16.9 percent.

Medium and long-term outstanding loans accounted for more than a half of the city's total loans, up 2.3 percent from the same period last year.

Deposits at commercial banks in HCM City in January also grew by 10.5 percent against the same period last year and are up 0.3 percent month-on-month to 1,293.7 trillion VND (60.45 billion USD).

Deposits in US dollars accounted for 15.6 percent of the city's total deposits, up 7.6 percent against the same period last year, while deposits for dong jumped 11 percent.

The Hanoi Statistics Office also reported that the city's deposits in January grew by 1.1 percent month-on-month to 1,204 trillion VND (56.26 billion USD), while the city's lending rose by 0.7 percent to 1,017 trillion VND (47.52 billion USD).

Vietnam to export more fruits

Multiple kinds of Vietnamese fruits and flowers will be exported to foreign countries this year, including selective markets, according to the Plant Protection Department under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Nguyen Huu Dat, director of the Post-Import Plant Quarantine Center under the department, said local companies had shipped longan to the United States in the first half of this month.

The U.S. is expected to allow mango and star apple imports from Vietnam in the coming time.

Many other countries are opening doors to Vietnamese fruits. Specifically, Australian authorities have inspected irradiation plants in Vietnam before considering licensing mango and thanh long (dragon fruit) imports from Vietnam.

Last year, the first batch of Vietnamese dragon fruit went to New Zealand. The Plant Protection Department is now in talks with Japan over a resumption of dragon fruit and mango exports.

Domestic enterprises are completing procedures to sell mango to South Korea, mangosteen and plum to China.

Nguyen Xuan Hong, head of the Plant Protection Department, said the agency is seeking licenses for exports of rose, carnation, chrysanthemum and other flowers to India.

Vietnam has finished the pest risk analysis for eight types of fresh fruits from Australia, Argentina, France and Spain, and is now assessing fresh grape from India and blueberry from Poland.

Vietnam earned more than US$1 billion from fruit and vegetable exports last year, up around US$250 million over the previous year.

First Lexus dealership in Hanoi makes debut

The first Lexus dealership in Hanoi was inaugurated on January 19 one year after the HCMC dealership came into existence.

Lexus Thang Long covering 9,000 square meters in Nam Tu Liem District has an initial investment of VND160 billion and comprises of a 1,400-square-meter workshop for repair and maintenance services.

Le Hong Thai, chairman of Lexus Thang Long, said the facility meets the global standards of Lexus for sales, services and spare parts.

The Lexus brand in Vietnam is managed by Toyota Vietnam. Yoshihisa Maruta, general director of Toyota Vietnam, said Lexus Thang Long will focus more on service quality than sales in the initial time.

Lexus Vietnam has sold 385 cars, with 45% of them in the northern region, 45% in the southern region, and the remaining 10% in the central region.

Lexus Thang Long now distributes the newest Lexus versions of LS 460L, GS 350, ES 350, LX 570, RX 350 and GX 460.

According to Lexus Vietnam, more than 100 customers are waiting for their orders to be fulfilled before the Lunar New Year Holiday, better known as Tet in the country.

Vinatex prepares material sources for subsidiaries

Vietnam National Textile and Garment Group (Vinatex) has invested in many projects to produce materials for its apparel subsidiaries in preparation for capitalizing on the opportunities that will come when the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement is signed.

Vinatex general director Le Tien Truong told a media briefing over the weekend that the group is spending heavily on fiber and dyeing projects that will supply its subsidiaries.

The investments, funded by Vinatex and its partners, will enable the group to meet strict requirements for origins of products thanks to the localization of the whole production process from fiber to finished products.

“Fabrics produced by Vinatex will not be for sale on the market but for its affiliates. Therefore, we do not have any plan to sell it on the market,” Truong said.

Since last year, Vinatex has invested in 51 projects worth a combined VND8 trillion (US$375.7 million), including 14 fiber projects, 15 weaving projects, 15 garment projects and seven related projects for infrastructure development and staff training.

These projects will help improve the group’s fabric output to 300 million meters from the current 200 million meters, meeting 50-60% of the demand of the group’s subsidiaries for input material when they are commissioned.

Truong said the projects will not be completed until 2016. Viet Tien Garment Company alone will need some 100 million meters of cloth a year.

Vinatex’s export revenue stood at US$3.26 billion last year, rising 12% against 2013 while its import turnover rose 5% to VND1.28 billion.

Last year, exports of the local apparel industry exceeded US$24.4 billion, a year-on-year increase of 15.9%. The sector spent US$15.8 billion importing materials, up 16% over the previous year.

The materials included 743,000 tons of cotton worth US$1.4 billion, surging 28% year-on-year, 745,000 tons of fiber with US$1.6 million, rising 7% in volume and 3% in value respectively, US$9.5 billion worth of fabrics, up 14%, and other materials costing US$4.7 billion, soaring 25%.

Vinatex to make more materials to reduce use of imports

The Vietnam National Textile and Garment Group (Vinatex) will invest most of its capital in material production projects in a move to reduce dependence on imports.

Vinatex General Director Le Tien Truong has said that Vinatex is investing in 51 projects, 29 of which are of yarn and knitting production.

This year, Vinatex is set to produce more than 100 million metres of clothing, which is expected to increase to 300 million metres in 2016, when a number of new yarn and knitting production projects will become operational.

Earlier, Vinatex had to import roughly 37 percent of its materials required for production.

Truong said after equitisation, Vinatex will operate as a joint-stock company from February 1, and the firm will offer shares in 2017.

Vietnam's textile and garment industry witnessed good growth in exports last year, reaching 24.5 billion USD, up nearly 16 percent compared to 2013.

The textile and garment sector is expected to benefit from several free-trade agreements (FTAs) that are likely to take effect, and it aims to export goods worth 28 billion USD to 28.5 billion USD in 2015.

Owing to the advantages accruing from the FTAs, the textile industry could double production in 10 years. However, textile enterprises need to be well-prepared to seize the opportunity, especially to increase the domestic material production.

In addition to the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, which includes the United States and Japan, Vietnam has either signed or in the final stages of negotiations for the FTA with the European Union, the Republic of Korea and the Customs Union of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia.

Vietnam, RoK share experience with co-operatives

The Republic of Korea (RoK) has shared its experience in developing the local economy by promoting co-operatives and social enterprises during a conference in the central city of Da Nang on January 20.

Lessons learnt by the RoK during their implementation will be used to improve upon Vietnam’s models, making them more effective and sustainable for future development, said Nguyen Manh Toan, Headmaster of the University of Economics at Da Nang University – one of the organisers of the event.

Dr. Bui Quang Binh from the University of Economics pointed out that many co-operatives have not remained active in developing production and business plans, while workforce quality remains low with only 11.2 percent having received formal training leading to difficulties in developing co-operatives.

Meanwhile, Professor Dr. Seungkwon Jang from the RoK’s Sungkonghoe University asserted that co-operatives and social enterprises in Vietnam have failed to tap the full potential of their locality.

The majority of the production facilities are small-scale without efficient connections to the tourism and service sectors, he contended.

Assistant Professor Dr. Sangsun Bak from Sungkonghoe University noted that Vietnam is strong in trade village tourism; as such it would be wise to drive the development of co-operative and social enterprises towards tourism-service orientation.

He suggested that Vietnam design additional policies to enhance training for local labourers and form close links among localities and regions.

During the conference, Vietnamese and RoK specialists also discussed a number of examples of effective implementation of the model in both countries, including the RoK’s Jeju eco-tourism area and Buljeong agriculture co-operative, as well as Vietnam’s Thanh Ha-Hoi An trade village model in Quang Nam.

Vietnam enterprises look to expand Russian network

Vietnamese businesses operating in the fields of garment, farm produce and food, are interested in expanding their network in Russia by building an industrial zone in suburban Moscow, Vietnamese Ambassador Nguyen Thanh Son has said.

Son made the statement at a working session with Moscow Governor Andrey Vorobiov on measures to boost economic, trade and investment ties between the two countries’ localities on January 20.

During the session, the two sides agreed to speed up technical negotiations for the early establishment of the zone.

According to the Vietnamese ambassador, the dairy producer TH True Milk plans to invest about 1 billion USD in animal feed, dairy cow breeding and milk production in Russia while some oriental medicine businesses are considering the building a health care centre in the capital city of Moscow .

On the occasion, Son invited to Andrey visit Vietnam in an early date to sign inter-locality cooperation agreements and meet Vietnamese firms which wish to invest in Russia . The Moscow leader accepted the invitation with pleasure.

Vietnam’s favourite brand names announced

Vietnam’s 2014 Favourite Brand Names were awarded to 29 outstanding businesses at a ceremony in Ho Chi Minh City on January 20.

The honours were bestowed to groups operating across tourism, trade, services, manufacturing, transport, and banking industries.

Speaking at the event, Vice Chairwoman of the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee Nguyen Thi Hong lauded these businesses for building prestigious brands, improving consumer’s awareness and shopping habits.

The annual award, determined by the customer vote nationwide, aims to encourage enterprises to develop high-quality brands and enhance the competitiveness of Vietnamese goods in both domestic and foreign markets, especially as the country further integrates into the international economy.

Many of the winners have received recognition over several consecutive years including Saigontourist, AIG Insurance , Saigon Co-op, Big C, Vinasun and Saigon Petro.

Central Highlands region records highest food production

Food production in the Central Highlands region experienced a robust year with the highest ever recorded output of 2.56 million tonnes in 2014, representing an increase of 100,000 tonnes from the previous year, according to the Steering Committee for the Central Highlands.

Dak Lak led the five egional provinces with nearly 1.24 million tonnes, followed by Gia Lai with 568,000 tonnes.

The results were attributed to a number of measures taken by the provinces, such as the enlargement of cultivation areas to over 238,000 hectares and investment in 2,000 water resource constructions.

In addition, farmers brought hybrid and certified rice varieties such as ML48, OM900, CT16 and HT1 into mass production, helping to generate high yields.

A number of workshops were organised to introduce new hybrid rice and corn varieties, cultivation techniques, and pilot large-scale field models as well as to connect farmers, businesses, scientists, and managers.

Thanks to these efforts, the region has not only ensured food security but also produced enough to export and sell to other provinces, thus increasing the farmers’ income and improving the quality of their life.

Local farmers are currently planting winter-spring crops and upgrading water resource systems serving the cultivation of rice and farm produce to further increase productivity.

Thua Thien Hue hopes to draw 140mln USD into industrial parks in 2015

The central province of Thua Thien Hue has set the goals of attracting from 2,500 to 3,000 billion VND (119-142 million USD) in investment and creating from 1,000 to 1,500 jobs in its industrial parks in 2015.

In order to fulfil the targets, the provincial Industrial Park Management Board said that it would continue reforming investment promotion activities and administrative procedures as well as improving infrastructure in the industrial parks including transport infrastructure, water and power supply and telecommunications.

At the same time, the Board will also support investors via incentives such as preferential land rent and tax rates as well as assistance in land clearance and human resource training.

Thua Thien Hue is home to six industrial parks, which attracted a combined investment capital of 2,250 billion VND (107 million USD) last year through 10 new projects and 9 existing ones.

All industrial parks in the province until now have 92 valid projects, of which 70 projects are from local investors, with a combined capital of 19,587 billion VND (932 million USD).

Disbursement has reached 7,397 billion (352 million USD) or 38 percent of the total registered capital.

Enterprises in the parks posted a total production value of 9,930 billion VND or 472.8 million USD in 2014, up 16 percent against last year, and a combined export value of 418.4 million USD. They contributed 1,455 billion VND (69 million USD) to the State budget.

Last year, the industrial parks generated 1,100 new jobs, bringing the total workers working at the parks to 17,048.

According to the provincial Industrial Park Management Board, the Prime Minister has approved adjustment to the development plan of industrial parks in the province to 2020. Accordingly, the area of Phu Bai IP will be cut by 75.29 hectares while the Phong Dien IP will be expanded by 300 hectares. The plan remains unchanged for the four others – Tu Ha, Phu Da, Quang Vinh and La Son. As a result, the six IPs will have a combined area of 2,393.4 hectares.

Garment sector targets 3 bln USD export value to RoK

Vietnamese garment and textile companies are targeting a total export turnover of an estimated 3 billion USD to the Republic of Korea this year, Vietnam Investment Review reported.

The total export turnover of Vietnam's textile and garment sector to the RoK reached 2.4 billion USD last year, an increase of 27 percent compared to 2013.

The highest growth was seen in jackets, overcoats, suits and male and female trousers.

The Republic of Korea is Vietnam's fourth-largest textile and garment export market.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade said last year the market share of Vietnam textile and garment export to the RoK reached 16.4 percent, an increase of 2.1 percent compared to 2013.

This year, the RoK's textile and garment import turnover is expected to reach 16.3 billion USD, an increase of 11.6 percent over last year.

Tran Viet, head of the Vietnam Textile and Garment Group's market department, said the RoK is still a major market for Vietnamese textiles and garments, along with markets such as the US, the EU and Japan.

He said that textile and garment export turnover to the RoK is expected to keep pace with exports to Japan and to narrow the gap with exports to the EU.

Viet pointed out that textile and garment exports to Japan reached 2.7 billion USD last year, only 300 million USD higher than the Korean market. Export turnover for the EU market was 3.4 billion USD.

Nguyen Van Thang, Production Director of the Bac Giang Garment Joint-Stock Co in Bac Giang province, said last year the company's export turnover reached 160 million USD, of which the RoK market accounted for 40 percent.

The company plans to give priority to the RoK this year and in coming years, he added.

Thai Binh's Dong Phong Ltd. Co said it will raise investment in order to increase exports to the RoK this year, as it sees many opportunities there.

Le Tien Truong, Vice Chairman of the Vietnam Textile and Garment Association, said compared to other export sectors, textile and garment businesses have made adequate preparations ahead of upcoming foreign trade agreements.

According to the General Customs Office, the number of Vietnamese businesses with import/export activities with the RoK increased from 10,900 in 2013 to 13,100 last year.

In the textile and garment sector, there are more than 100 domestic enterprises and 510 RoK-invested companies.

Remittances to HCM City top US$5 billion

Vietnamese living abroad remitted over US$5 billion to HCM City last year, 4.2% higher than in 2013, according to figures released at a meeting held by the city's Committee for Overseas Vietnamese on January 21.

Since 1993, total remittances through official channels have amounted to nearly US$96.7 billion, or an average US$4.4 billion per year and accounting for 6.8% of the city's economy.

Last year overseas Vietnamese hailing from HCM City took part in many social activities including building houses for the poor and concrete bridges to replace bamboo bridges in remote areas and grant scholarships worth over VND3 billion (US$15,000) to poor students.

The committee also co-ordinated with the overseas Vietnamese communities in Laos and Cambodia to organise medical examinations and give gifts worth nearly VND1 billion to some 1,300 ethnic Vietnamese and locals living in Laos' Savannakhet Province and Cambodia's Prey Veng Province.

According to the committee, HCM City welcomed 756,974 overseas Vietnamese in 2014 and nearly 1,000 of them visited the office of the HCM City Committee to learn about new policies and laws on investment, business, labour, residency, land and house management, nationality, and inheritance.

Speaking at the meeting, city People's Committee deputy chairman Le Thanh Liem hailed the contributions made by the Viet Kieu (overseas Vietnamese) community to HCM City.

He urged the committee and relevant agencies to help overseas Vietnamese facing difficulties and provide support and guidance to businesses established by the community.

At the meeting, the People's Committee awarded certificates of merit to four organisations and two members while the committee awarded its own certificates of merits to 10 organisations and 35 members for their contributions to the activities of the community abroad in 2014.

TH true Milk plans to corner Russian fresh milk market

The finishing touches are being put on a plan by TH True Milk Joint Stock Company to invest more than US$1 billion in the Russian dairy industry in what promises to be a ‘game changer’ for Vietnam in the rapidly expanding market.

The announcement was made by Vietnam Ambassador to Russia Nguyen Thanh Son at a meeting with government leaders in Moscow on January 20 discussing the establishment of a Vietnamese industrial zone in the city.

Son said many other Vietnamese enterprises operating in the garment and textile, agriculture and food sectors have also expressed an interest in the industrial zone and most likely will follow suit.

In addition, several Vietnamese pharmaceutical companies are contemplating expanding into the Russian market and industrial zone, Son added.

Both sides have agreed to speed up negotiations to get the industrial zone up and running in the near future.

Outlook for rice exports mediocre for 2015

The Vietnam Food Association (VFA) has scaled back its forecast for rice exports in 2015 on the back of a lacklustre 2014— as it continues to search for measures to jump start exports and power up the sector.

For the year ended December 2014, Vietnam exported 6.316 million tonnes of rice, grossing US$2.789 billion in revenue, down 5.47% on-year in volume and 3.59% in value.

Despite fulfilling the set target, rice exports were lethargic ranking third among the world’s largest exporters after Thailand (10.5 million tonnes) and India (10 million tonnes).

Market analysts at the VFA attribute the slump to the sharp decline in demand for rice in the African markets, overproduction by Thailand and India along with lack of growth in Asian markets.

Analysts at the VFA have reported that the difficulties from 2014 will carry over and continue to negatively affect the market in 2015.

Last year, exports of rice via the Chinese borders skyrocketed, helping clear stockpiles; however, the border trade is fraught with risks and does little to bring in the large foreign currencies.

According to VFA statistics, rice exports on record through the Chinese border was roughly 650,000 tonnes, but, in fact the real volume of rice transported from the Mekong Delta region to the northern region via Haiphong Port was substantially higher.

The best estimates available put the figure at closer to 2 million tonnes.

On the bright side, VFA Secretary General Huynh Minh Hue said in addition to processing and consuming rice, enterprises have improved coordination with farmers and improved the quality and value of rice.

Hue added that there are also advances afoot to develop a national brand name expand markets and raise production efficiency, but businesses faced many difficulties in 2014.

The VFA has forecast the rice supply and demand for 2015 to remain unchanged from 2014, but the market will continue to face challenges with sustainability and a lot needs to be done to rev up the industry.

Based on real situation, VFA forecast that more than 7 million tonnes of rice will be exported in 2015, including 900,000 tonnes in the first quarter. This is the lowest level for the quarter for the past several years.

VFA Chairman Nguyen Hung Linh said for the first quarter of the year, businesses have only signed contracts to ship around 500,000 tonnes of rice and they must export an additional 400,000 tonnes to meet the set plan. Currently, the domestic price is competitive as it is lower than or as same as other rice exporters at US$380 per tonne for 5% broken rice.

The VFA is hoping to meet the plan to export 900,000 tonnes of rice in the first quarter while it strategizes for longer term solutions to shore up the industry exports and power up the economy.

HCM City supports firms to boost sales of local goods

HCMC will continue supporting domestic enterprises to speed up sales of Vietnamese goods this year, especially those under the city’s price stabilization program.

The city government will help enterprises develop facilities and stores to sell Vietnamese goods on the outskirts and near industrial parks and export processing zones, HCMC vice chairwoman Nguyen Thi Hong told a meeting held on Monday to announce a Buy Vietnamese campaign this year.

Hong said to run the “Vietnamese use Vietnamese goods” campaign effectively, enterprises should improve service quality at their retail points and at the same time, diversify their goods.

The HCMC Department of Industry and Trade will collaborate with relevant agencies to survey the demand of consumers, work out viable sales plans, and provide products meeting food safety requirements at reasonable prices for consumers, including students, workers and low-income earners.

At the meeting, Le Ngoc Dao, deputy director of the department, announced the results of the campaign last year. She said Vietnamese goods on sale at traditional wet markets in the city accounted for 80% of the total and made up 90% of the total volume of goods at supermarkets and convenience stores.

The city organized six fairs for nearly 300 companies to showcase and sell Vietnamese goods at 398 stalls last year. These events attracted more than 130,000 visitors.

Besides, the price stabilization program emerged as an important channel for local consumers to buy Vietnamese products. As a result, the number of stores selling Vietnamese goods kept growing last year and the program helped stabilize goods supplies and prices on the market.

Dao said the major tasks this year are to promote the campaign, online sales of local goods, and the expansion of the distribution system. The department will organize more trade promotion activities and support participating firms to win on the home market and penetrate into foreign markets.

HCMC will support firms to join fairs and exhibitions in foreign markets and do the marketing on the Internet.

HCMC will join hands with more localities so that more Vietnamese goods produced here in the city can reach out to consumers in many other parts of the country.

Dao also stressed the city will intensify market monitoring to crack down on counterfeits, goods with unclear origins, and substandard foodstuffs.

State budget collections beat target

State budget revenues last year surpassed the target by more than VND75.3 trillion (around US$3.6 billion), according to the latest figures released by the Ministry of Finance.

Deputy Minister Nguyen Thi Mai told reporters in Hanoi on January 20 that State budget collections were nearly 10% higher than the initial target, reaching more than VND858 trillion, with more than VND80 trillion in value-added tax refunds excluded.

The figure was also nearly VND11.7 trillion higher reported to the National Assembly more than one month ago.

“Most provinces posted higher budget collections than estimated,” Mai explained, adding that the State would use VND10 trillion from the extra amount to pay wages for State employees this year and settle debts.

Minister of Finance Dinh Tien Dung said the global oil price plunge had had both negative and positive impacts on the country’s economy and that the ministry had submitted a detailed report on these impacts to the Government.

The ministry’s report indicated that the Government mobilized more than VND248 trillion from G-bond sales last year, meeting 95% of the target and increasing 37% year-on-year.

Last year, 177 State-owned enterprises (SOEs) were restructured, with 115 of them equitized and the remainder merged. SOEs divested more than VND2.4 trillion from stock, insurance, banking and real estate sectors, a 2.5-fold increase versus 2013.

VSSA wants sugar imports delayed

The Vietnam Sugar and Sugarcane Association (VSSA) has proposed the Government postpone sugar imports this time as sugar production has reached its peak and supply has outpaced demand.

VSSA wanted a delay in sugar imports in line with the quotas Vietnam committed when it joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) and approved by relevant ministries for this year until the end of this August when the 2014-2015 sugarcane crop ends.

The association made the request after the Ministry of Industry and Trade sought approval from Government for the import of 50,000 tons of sugar produced in Laos by Hoang Anh Gia Lai Group (HAGL).

Statistics of VSSA showed that this year’s sugar inventory will exceed 600,000 tons, and that an oversupply has resulted in sharp sugar price falls and farmers’ losses. This has forced many farmers to quit sugarcane farming and shift to other plants with higher yields.

In addition, around 400,000 tons of sugar is illegally transported into the country a year. So VSSA Chairman Nguyen Thanh Long said the local sugar sector will sink into more difficulties if the Government approves the import of 50,000 tons of sugar with a zero tax as proposed by the ministry.

If such a volume is allowed in the country, it must be included in this year’s quota of 81,000 tons in accordance with the nation’s commitment to the WTO; otherwise, the Government should impose an import duty of 25% on the volume.

Multi-storey workshop buildings to go up in HCMC

Developers of infrastructure for industrial parks (IP) and export processing zones (EPZ) in HCMC are piloting schemes to construct multi-storey workshop buildings for small and medium manufacturers.

Tran Viet Ha, head of the investment department at the HCMC Export Processing Zone and Industrial Park Authority (Hepza), said construction of the multi-storey workshop facilities would help enterprises, especially those in supporting industries, have small space for production.

In the initial stage, the multi-storey workshop buildings will be up and running at Dong Nam and Hiep Phuoc IPs and Linh Trung and Tan Thuan EPZs. These structures will have three to eight stories and total floor space of 10,000-40,000 square meters each.

The multi-storey workshop model is popular in Korea, Japan and Taiwan but new in Vietnam. This model will be deployed in HCMC to make full use of limited land for production activity at IPs and EPZs.

Ha said multi-storey workshop buildings are appropriate for producers of items which are not heavy and particularly makers of hi-tech and supporting industry products. Tenants should have efficient waste and emission treatment solutions, though.

Ha said the city will continue encouraging enterprises to invest in ready-to-use workshops for such tenants and this model has helped the city attract investors, especially foreign-invested enterprises in the past year.

In 2014, 19 foreign-invested firms were licensed to lease production workshops at Cat Lai and Tan Thuan IPs, which are near the center of the city, seaports and roads including Nguyen Van Linh and the 20-kilometer-long section of HCMC-Long Thanh-Dau Giay Expressway.

Last year, the IPs and EPZs in the city attracted investment pledges of over US$752 million, 36.8% higher than targeted and up 23.52% against the previous year. Of which, foreign investments accounted for US$347.5 million, a slight decline of 4.39% over 2013, but domestic investments grew 64.8% to US$405 million.

The target for IPs and EPZs this year is US$700 million probably due to global economic uncertainties.

Bac Giang sets to earn 2.61 billion USD from exports

Northern Bac Giang province has eyed export earnings of 2.61 billion USD in 2015, up 24 percent against 2014, according to the provincial Department of Trade and Industry.

The value is expected to include 1.05 billion USD contributed by the garment and textile sector, 722 million USD from electronics products, 660 million USD from computers and components, 85 million USD from plastic products, and 56 million USD from vegetables, seafood and agro-products.

Tran Van Loc, Director of the provincial Department of Trade and Industry, said the province will implement many measures to achieve that ambitious target, including streamlining administrative procedures or reducing the time of customs clearance and the granting of licences.

Besides attracting more investments to the industrial parks, depositories, depots, inland ports and logistics centres will be built to facilitate export and import activities, Loc said.

The province plans to seek new markets in Africa and the Middle East while maintaining its foothold in the traditional export markets like ASEAN, Japan, China, the Republic of Korea, Taiwan, the European Union, and North America.

Enterprises will get support to take part in trade fairs as well as getting bank loans, provincial authorities stated.

According to the department, the province’s export revenue in January is estimated to reach 182.9 million USD, up 20.6 percent against the same period in 2014.

Vingroup appoints Savills Viet Nam exclusive sales agent

Vingroup appointed Savills Viet Nam as its exclusive sales agent for the Hoa Sua 07, 08, 09 and Hoa Phuong 07, 08 zones of Vinhomes Riverside villas today.

Vinhomes Riverside is one of the key projects currently being developed by Vingroup.

At a special sales event on Saturday, Savills launched a series of villas and semi-detached villas in the Hoa Phuong and Hoa Sua zones of the market, with the total area for each villa estimated to be between 155 and 600 square metres.

After appointing Savills as the exclusive sales agent, the developer and Savills also announced a special sales promotion programme for buyers of these villas.

Located in the northeast gateway of Ha Noi, Vinhomes Riverside, which has been operational for three years, has become "the best urban township in Viet Nam" with its luxury infrastructure and amenities, as well as its friendly and civilised residents.

"We found that most of potential buyers tend to be interested only in completed properties that are ready to be occupied. Their decisions are made, based not only on the construction quality, but are also dependent on the surrounding landscape, facilities and the society.

"Having met all of these criteria, Vinhomes Riverside can be considered as the best choice for villa buyers" said Matthew Powell, Director of Savills Ha Noi.

Vietnam targets record-high labour exports for 2015

Vietnam has forecast 2015 to be another banner year for the labour export market, forecasting it will send in excess of 105,000 guest workers abroad, roughly the same number as 2014.

Tong Hai Nam, Deputy Head of the Department of Overseas Labour Management (DOLM) said that in spite of all the difficulties the market faced in 2014, the country achieved 120.68% of the plan for the year and sent 105,000 workers abroad.

Last year was the first time the number of guest workers surpassed the 100,000 milestone and we are optimistic that we can maintain at least the same levels in all foreign markets for 2015 and improve in a few.

Key markets where we expect growth include Taiwan and Japan, which we are predicting will increase 29.4% and 96.1% respectively, Nam said.

The Republic of Korea (RoK) has currently suspended Vietnamese guest workers but the impact is inconsequential to the overall picture as only 7,200 workers were sent to the market in 2014.

Ninh Binh province to be rebranded

The northern province of Ninh Binh is to be rebranded as part of a major overhaul, capitalizing on its new found status as a UNESCO mixed natural and cultural world heritage, it has been announced.

Speaking at a workshop aimed at increasing inbound tourism to the province, Deputy Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Dang Thi Bich Lien underscored the point that a refocused future strategy would be highly beneficial.

She said given the importance of tourism to jobs and economic growth the priority should be to ensure that we have the right structures in place to maximise the benefits this crucial sector can bring.

The province has seen significant growth in inbound visitor numbers and, more importantly, in tourism revenue over the last few years she said, adding that thechallenge is to maintain and build on that momentum and deliver a multimillion dollar thriving tourism industry for the province.

Giovanni Boccardi, head of Asia-Pacific unit of UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre in turn said the new image should be closely interwoven with nurturing its new UNESCO world heritage status globally.

The province should capitalise on the designation of the Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex as a UNESCO mixed natural and cultural heritage of the worldtorevamp its image through a highly coordinated effort, he added.

The workshop was held by the Ninh Binh provincial People’s Committee in collaboration with UNESCO on January 22 at the Legend Hotel, Ninh Binh city as part of the festivities celebrating the province’s UNESCO selection.

Vietnam needs US$30 billion for green growth

Vietnam will need US$30 billion for a green growth and sustainable development strategy by 2020, according to Pham Hoang Mai, head of the Science, Education, Natural Resource and Environment Department under the Ministry of Planning and Investment.

Some 70% of the capital is expected to come from the private sector, Mai said at a workshop held in Hanoi on January 21 to launch a project on capacity improvement and institutional reform for green growth and sustainable development in Vietnam.

Besides, the country should spend an amount of money equivalent to 2-6% of its gross domestic product (GDP) to cushion the adverse impact of climate change.

However, it is tough for the nation to achieve the targets. “We lack policies and incentives to mobilize money. It is still difficult to attract local and foreign investors,” Mai said.

The Government spends nearly US$1 billion a year on climate change and green growth projects. The country has borrowed US$11 billion in official development assistance (ODA) to fund green growth projects and programs since 1993 but this sum is much lower than needed, Mai said.

Cheating to dodge customs inspections found

Many import enterprises have taken advantage of the revised Customs Law with effect on January 1 this year to file different declarations for their imported goods to avoid customs inspections.

Nguyen Huu Toan, head of the import-export tax division under the HCMC Customs Department, estimated the number of falsified customs declarations account for up to 20-30% of 5,000 declarations a day.

Importers attempt to lodge multiple files for customs clearance for one batch of their goods and then chose the approved file to be exempted from customs inspections.

The situation has turned more complicated as the revised Customs Law allows enterprises to file customs declarations at any border gates instead of the gates they import their products as before. For example, firms import goods into at the ports in HCMC but can file customs  

declarations in Dong Nai, Binh Duong or Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province until they get customs inspection exemptions for their goods.

The new rule makes it more difficult for the customs to find out whether the importers have paid import tariffs for their goods or not, Toan said.

The HCMC Customs Department has suggested local authorities ask the Ministry of Finance and the Government to review the new rule as this may give rise to smuggling and trade fraud.

HCM City backed to develop hi-tech human resources

The authority of Saigon Hi-Tech Park (SHTP) and Holland-based FabMax BV (FabMax) have struck a memorandum of understanding on human resource development for the chip sector with funding from the Dutch government.

The two sides will cooperate in training programs related to integrated circuits and special courses at the training and research centers of the park in HCMC’s District 9.

They will jointly provide services and assessments regarding machinery and equipment, fab-care services, research and development (R&D), production, and distribution as well as organize seminars at home and abroad.

Besides, FabMax will assist in consulting, introduce experts and equipment.

The collaboration aims to increase the quality and quantity of personnel to meet the needs of high-technology enterprises operating in and outside SHTP.

SHTP last year granted investment certificates to 10 projects with combined investment pledges of US$1.9 billion. There have been 68 approved local and foreign investment projects with total registered capital of nearly US$4.2 billion.

Enterprises at SHTP posted exports of some US$3.1 billion last year and more than US$10 billion so far, accounting for more than 90% of the city’s high-tech export value.

Local content in products made at SHTP increased to over 32% last year from 20-22% in 2010.

The R&D Center has announced to commercialize four products at SHTP, including nanotech lotions, pressure sensors, container locks and galvanometers.

The number of companies involved in R&D at SHTP was 22 last year.



Fansipan among five top destinations for mountain trekking at year-end

Renowned tourism website Women's Weekly of Singapore has named Fansipan among the leading five destinations to visit for mountain trekking at the end of the year, with the website noting the Vietnamese mountain’s impressive views.

Dortmund chiefs predict bright future for VN football

Although this was only a friendly game with many of the German stars absent from the starting eleven due to the Qatar World Cup, the victory gave the Bundesliga team food for thought about Vietnamese players.

International designers dazzle fashion fans in Hanoi

International designers left a deep impression on fans of fashion in Hanoi with hundreds of fascinating designs presented at the Aquafina VN International Fashion Week (AVIFW) Fall/Winter 2022.

Monthly Government meeting focuses on year-end key tasks

The Government has established working groups on liquidity and currency, the real estate market and corporate bonds led by deputy prime ministers to stabilise these markets.

Vietnam to reduce environmental impact of textile-garment industry by 2030

The Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association (VITAS) has set a goal of helping Vietnam's textile and garment industry be more environmentally friendly by 2030.

Property brokers no longer manipulate prices as buyers become more cautious

As buyers have become more aware and careful about shady practices, real estate brokers have not been able to sell properties at prices much higher than their real value.

Hanoi to turn middle alluvium ground into park

One more park has been designed for Hanoians. However, it is still unclear when the project will appear, as a number of other projects are still on paper or pending.

Asian investors eye more M&A opportunities in Vietnam

Investors from Japan, the Republic of Korea (RoK), and Singapore are looking for more potential merger and acquisition (M&A) opportunities in Vietnam, pinning high hopes on the long-term growth prospects of the market.

Vietnam's fishery exports exceed 10 billion USD in 11 months

Fishery exports reeled in 10.14 billion USD as of November this year, up 27% annually, said the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

HCM City want foreign doctors to be fluent in Vietnamese

The HCM City Department of Health has just proposed that foreign doctors should be fluent in Vietnamese if they want to work in the country.

Use of toxic e-cigarettes among students on the rise

After a trial smoke, T lost consciousness, was foaming at the mouth, and his limbs were curled up. Two days later, T regained consciousness at the hospital, but was still in the status of extreme fear.

Vietnam spends US$7.74 billion importing petroleum products

Vietnam imported over 7.5 million tonnes of oil and petrol worth around US$7.74 billion as of mid-November, up 24.1% in volume and 122% in value year on year, according to the General Department of Vietnam Customs.

Vietnam won’t sacrifice the environment for economic growth: Prime Minister

Vietnam takes people as the goal in development. People will enjoy the fruits of a green economy and the government will not sacrifice the environment to pursue economic growth.

Vietnam’s bond market contracts amid monetary tightening

After strong growth in the previous quarter, Vietnam’s currency bond market contracted 0.2% due to a decline in the Government bond market and slower growth in corporate bonds.

AI used to predict renewable-energy capacity

Wind and solar power will account for an increasing proportion of Vietnam’s total electricity capacity.