Business owners share views on regional economic deal

Business owners joined a workshop in Hanoi on May 22 to share their opinions on the opportunities and challenges they will face once Vietnam joins the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) by December 2015.

A representative from the Central Institute for Economic Management shared the positive news that farming, industry and construction exporters will be able to access wider markets and they will stand a chance of buying materials at lower costs and joining the global value chain.

However, some voiced concern over the possibility of high tariff ceilings for several kinds of goods, and warned of barriers to a few exporting items.

As Vietnam mainly exports crude materials, it will face a stiff competition with regional rivals which are striving to meet better quality requirements and overcome tax barriers.

Claudio Dordi, chief advisor of the European Trade Policy & Investment Support Project vowed to help Vietnam enter the global trade system and boost agreements with ASEAN and the EU. He said he will help ensure that the country will fully enjoy the fruits of economic development, including comprehensive growth and poverty reduction.

The RCEP is a proposed free trade agreement between ASEAN member states and Australia, China, India, Japan, the Republic of Korea and New Zealand.-

Da Nang promotes PPP for disaster risk management

Representatives of Vietnamese and foreign organisations gathered at a forum in central Da Nang city on May 22 to seek ways to boost public-private partnerships (PPP) for disaster risk management in the locality.

The function, part of a project funded by the US Agency for International Development, was organised by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), the Asia Foundation and the Disaster Management Centre.

Participants said to maximise the effectiveness of this partnership model, which involves cooperation between private enterprises and government agencies, Da Nang needs to step up the promotion of information to local businesses to raise their awareness of the issue and build an action plan on PPP for disaster risk management.

The city was also urged to create a legal framework defining interests and responsibilities of businesses and State agencies when engaging in the partnership.

Attendees said that the implementation in Da Nang will set an example to be expanded across Vietnam.

Nguyen Dien, Deputy Director of the VCCI office in Da Nang, said climate change is an urgent issue at present, therefore PPP is necessary to minimise disaster risks to the business circle, helping them grow sustainably.-

Mekong Delta targets reduction in post-harvest loss

Mekong Delta localities are set to mechanise up to 80 percent of rice harvest process in order to reduce post-harvest loss to 12 percent by 2020, according to a plan by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Toward this goal, the localities will encourage the manufacturing of combine harvesters and paddy dryers, while giving financial assistance in the form of loans for farmers to buy the machines.

By 2020, the localities expect to have 20,000-25,000 additional combine harvesters and dryers to ensure 100 percent of harvested paddy rice is dried using machines.

Meanwhile, this year, the region will double the capacity of their storehouses to 4 million tonnes, mostly in provinces with high rice outputs of Kien Giang, An Giang, Long An and Soc Trang, ensuring 90 percent of the country’s export volume.

At the same time, new technology in rice husking and polishing will be applied to reduce the rate of broken rice to 0.2 percent, thus increasing the volume of rice with 5 percent of broken rice to 60 percent of the total rice export in 2017 and 70 percent in 2020.

The efforts are expected to help the region cut their rice production cost by 30,000 VND each tonne and increase turnover from rice by 500 billion VND per year.

According to the Mekong Delta Rice Research Institute, the region needs about 20,000 combine harvesters to serve 1.6 million hectares of rice each crop. However, the region currently has only 10,000 machines.

Storing capacity of farmers has yet to meet requirement, resulting in a decrease in rice quality after 1-2 months, added the institute.

The combined losses throughout the post-harvest process can climb to more than 20.6 percent, equivalent to 635 million USD per year, reported the Agricultural Post-Harvest Engineering and Technology Sub-Institute under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.-

Textile and garment industry eyes rural market

After four years of implementation of the Buy Vietnamese Goods campaign, garment and textile enterprises have achieved many positive results. Vietnam’s garment and textile brands have been enhanced and gained consumers' trust, bringing a new face to the market and increasing revenues for enterprises, said Vietnam Economic News on May 22.

To achieve remarkable results, domestic enterprises have continuously invested in production and focused on renewing designs, developing brand and expanding distribution system. The campaign on bringing Vietnamese goods to rural areas has taken effect thanks to reasonable prices and higher product quality compared to made-in-China goods.

The Vietnam National Textile and Garment Group (Vinatex) has focused on investing in production and promoting domestic business through the Vinatexmart distribution channel.

To date, Vinatexmart has expanded its distribution system to 82 retail supermarkets in 28 cities and provinces. In addition to Vinatexmart, member units such as Garco 10, Nha Be Corporation, Viet Tien, Hanosimex and Duc Giang Corporation has also actively expanded its stores to introduce products with nearly 4,000 sales points.

However, in terms of remote and rural areas, garment and textile goods’ competitiveness remained limited. Expanding distribution system in these areas remained difficult due to low consumption and small distribution channel.

According to Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association (VITAS), garment and textile exports in 2014 have posted a good growth in key export markets such as the US, EU, Japan and the Republic of Korea.

In addition, when participating in free trade agreements (FTAs) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement, garment and textile enterprises will have more opportunities. Vinatex Deputy General Director Le Tien Truong said that export growth of 12 percent in 2014 is entirely feasible.

Besides to export activities, the garment and textile industry will focus on reorganising the domestic market system. Vinatex’s well-known enterprises such as Viet Tien, Garco 10 and Nha Be Corporation established their own stores while medium-sized enterprises need to depend on Vinatexmart to form distribution chain.

The paper said in addition, enterprises need to actively find out domestic material resources. The state should offer mechanisms and policies to encourage the development of garment and textile enterprises.

HCM City-based firms need 20,000 workers in June

Enterprises in Ho Chi Minh City will need around 20,000 workers in June, with those based in local industrial and export processing zones planning to recruit 5,000, according to the city’s Centre of Forecasting Manpower Needs and Labour Market Information (FALMI).

The labour demand is high in business and marketing, services, information technology (IT), accounting and auditing, electronics and telecommunications, mechanical engineering, garment and textile, leather footwear and property.

There is a greater need for skilled workers, with 63 percent of the available jobs requiring degrees from technical-vocational schools, universities and higher education. Only 37 percent of the jobs are expected to be given to unskilled labourers.

According to FALMI Vice Director Tran Anh Tuan, recruitment need has been on the rise in the finance-banking and property sectors since early this year.

There is a shortage of qualified workers in the fields of IT, business administration, mechanical engineering, electronics, and garment and leather footwear.

On the other hand, supply is outstripping demand in the accounting-auditing, architecture-construction, personnel-administrative work, and law-legal sectors.-

Vietnam’s investments in innovation to fuel growth

Vietnam is seeing positive growth as a knowledge economy as investments from government complement those coming in from international technology firms, according to latest Economic Insight report of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), a world leading professional membership organisation that promotes, develops and supports over 142,000 chartered accountants worldwide.

The report also points that the country’s capacity is taking off with economic growth projection hitting 5.8 per cent by 2017.

Mark Billington, regional director of ICAEW South East Asia, said “Investment in education and skills is key to building a knowledge economy. As one of the developing economies of ASEAN, Vietnam still lags behind its regional peers in the provision of basic education at the primary and secondary level.”

Mark added that “This is an area the Vietnamese government can look to improve, especially as it is the foundation needed in order to eventually develop a highly-skilled, qualified workforce.”

“Knowledge and skills are the best investment for a country looking to build long-term prosperity,” he underscored.

The report states that once the foundation of a highly educated workforce is set in place, the extent to which the economy will thrive will depend partly on the amount of inflow of foreign direct investment which is an area Vietnam is flourishing in.

Accordingly, the country has seen a recent bout of investments from international technology firms to set up a chip-testing and assembling facility in Ho Chi Minh City, a partnership programme with Finland to fund innovation as well as government efforts to establish a cluster of high-tech small and medium size enterprises in the country; this presents a hopeful outlook for Vietnam.

The ICAEW Economic Insight report is produced by Cebr, ICAEW’s partner and economic forecaster.

Commissioned by ICAEW, the report provides its 142,000 members with a current snapshot of the region’s economic performance.

The report undertakes a quarterly review of South East Asian economies, with a focus on the following countries, namely Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Danang luxury real estate projects hit brick wall

Many plans for five-star hotels in Danang City remain on paper as investors have left them stagnant for many years.

Many people in Danang still remember the big ground-breaking ceremony for Danang Centre and Han Riverside buildings, planned by Vu Long Chau Real Estate JSC, which was to cost USD125 million. The project was expected to be complete in 2011.

However, over the past three years, the project has been left idle and is now covered with wild grass, waste and unused building materials.

The 48-storey Vien Dong Meridian Tower, with a total investment of USD180 million, which supposed to be the tallest building in the central region, is in the same state.

After several warnings of land withdrawal from local authorities, the investor promised to restart the project. However, these plans have been delayed and there has been no activity on the site.

The VND1 trillion Golden Square Project was started in January, 2008. To date, however, only small portions have been completed, and all that is visible are some rusty posts laid in the foundation.

According to CBRE, by the end of November 2013, there had been no construction activity on 12 construction projects in Danang City.

Real estate investors said that the projects were started at a time of great excitement, but that this excitement has died down in the context of a weak real estate market.

Tran Ngoc Thanh, General Director of Dat Xanh Mien Trung Company, said that in the next five to ten years, demand for luxury apartments in Danang could increase.

Danang authorities have urged local management agencies to take measures to speed up projects. Accordingly, the delayed projects must have a commitment for investment within the year.

The chairman of the city People’s Committee Van Huu Chien said that many investors have promised to resume their projects, but that is only solution to the problem at present.

"We want to find investors to replace them, but it is not easy,” he noted.

UAE firm to restart Ha Long Star project

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) -based Nakheel Group plans to resume work on Ha Long Star project next month, Dau Tu (Investment) newspaper quoted a source from the provincial People's Committee.

The 125-ha urban and tourism centre project, in the northern border province of Quang Ninh, with capital of US$550 million, will include a five-star hotel, a luxury hotel, villas, apartments and a trading centre. The project got off the ground in 2007, but was delayed due to the investor's financial difficulties.

During a trip to the UAE last year, Pham Minh Chinh, secretary of the Quang Ninh provincial Party Committee, and Ali Rashid Lootah, chairman of Nakheel and Limitless, signed a memorandum of understanding, pledging to carry out the large project. Later, in May 2013, Sovico Holdings also signed a joint venture contract with the UAE partner to implement the project.

PM urges ministries to support enterprises

Three key ministries need to kick off new integrated lending models, finish guidelines of corporate income tax deduction, credit guarantee funds and funds for development of small – and medium-sized enterprises.

The instructions, which are interpreted in the newly issued Directive No11/CT-TTg, were given by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung to The State Bank of Viet Nam, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Planning and Investment on Wednesday, aimed at supporting the business community to achieve socio-economic targets towards 2015.

The prime minister instructed the ministries to carry out intensive and coherent policies to set up and strengthen inter-industry connection, regional collaboration, SMEs and large corporations to boost sustainable development and support efficiency.

The State Bank of Viet Nam was urged to pilot a science-technology integrated lending model, and agricultural production and export sector at reasonable costs.

Within the second quarter, the Ministry of Finance must finalise guidelines for corporate income tax exemption and deduction. Till the end of this year, the ministry is expected to submit proposals that will help enterprises handle inventory or unpaid items.

The prime minister required the Ministry of Planning and Investment to accelerate the completion of paper works and push SMEs Development Fund and SMEs Credit Guarantee Fund to work as soon as possible.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade was asked to tighten market administration to ensure a fair and competitive market for all players.

The directive also instructed municipal people's committees and ministerial agencies to cooperate closely to enhance the state administration, keep administration reforms going, particularly in the sectors of foreign trade, capital assessment, taxes, investment, construction and natural resources.

Central economic zone seeks funds

Chu Lai Open Economic Zone in the central Quang Nam province has asked for an investment capital of US$540 million for its two major projects, local media reported.

The two projects are among the 127 projects in the national list that are waiting for foreign investment by 2020. The list consisting of five major categories – technical infrastructure, social infrastructure, agriculture, processing and preservation, and production and services – was approved by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung recently.

Accordingly, the zone has called for foreign direct investment (FDI) of $500 million to build an aircraft repair and maintenance service centre. Spanning 300 ha in the commune of Tam Quang, Nui Thanh District, the centre was designed to meet not only the local aircraft repair and maintenance works but also an increasing demand from the region and the world.

The zone has also called for either FDI or joint-venture investment to a $40 million technical and vocational college, which aimed to provide high-quality human resources for domestic and FDI firms.

Earlier, Quang Nam Province reported that it will offer tax exemption on land use for special projects, such as university dormitories, housing for workers and public works, in the fields of education, healthcare, culture and sports, adding that businesses that invests in high-tech projects will enjoy a preferential tax of 10 per cent during the initial 15 years of the project.

Comprising 24 communes and five industrial parks across 3,500 ha, Chu Lai Open Economic Zone has been chosen as one of the five key economic zones to be prioritised in the 2013 – 15 period. Developments in the zone have created jobs for about 50,000 direct and indirect workers in the locality.

According to statistics, the Chu Lai Open Economic Zone has so far attracted more than 90 projects with a total registered investment of nearly US$1.7 billion, two-thirds of which have become operational.

Trade turnover hits a deficit as exports fall back in May

After making a trade surplus of US$810 million last month, the country reported a trade deficit of $400 million in May due to the decline of many export staples.

The General Statistics Office (GSO) estimated that the country exported $12 billion worth of goods in May, down 8 per cent from April, while its import value inched up $100 million to touch $12.4 billion.

The foreign direct investment (FDI) sector reported $1.1 billion in trade surplus this month.

The month of May saw a fall in the export revenue of many export staples against last month. The exports of cassava, machinery, equipments and spare parts reported the highest fall.

In the same month, the exports of mobile phones and accessories reported the highest value at $2.5 billion, followed by garments and textiles with nearly $1.5 billion and footwear with $800 million.

The office also reported that in the January-to-May period, the country's export value surged 15 per cent year over year to reach $58.5 billion, while the import value increased 10 per cent to touch $56.8 billion, making a trade surplus of $1.6 billion. The FDI sector had a $15-billion trade surplus in the period.

Cell phones and accessories topped the list of Viet Nam's exports in the first five months with $10.5 billion, making a year-on-year increase of 30 per cent; followed by garment and textiles, footwear and crude oil.

The imports of machinery and equipment in the January-to-May period hit $8.6 billion and the value of imported clothes and accessories, and footwear reached nearly $5.5 billion.

Inspections target social housing

The Ministry of Construction has carried out an inspection on social housing projects in three major cities, Ha Noi, Da Nang and HCM City, focusing on quality and prices according to a newly-issued decision.

The ministry's decision 548/QD-BXQ was issued early this week to establish a group, headed by Deputy Minister Nguyen Tran Nam, to inspect construction quality, selling and leasing prices of social housing projects in the three cities.

This follows findings that apartment prices of several low-income housing schemes have been higher than commercial projects, although social housing projects were provided support in land-use rental, taxes and preferential credits.

A recent investigation by the ministry also revealed misuse of 20 per cent of the land fund designated for social housing projects.

According to the ministry, preferential treatments were provided to social housing projects with the aim of making houses affordable and accessible to low-income earners. However, facts have revealed that many social housing projects across the country have failed to meet the expected standards of quality and prices.

The ministry pointed out that the inspection was necessary to tackle these issues.

Construction Minister Trinh Dinh Dung also ordered the municipal construction departments to send reports on their social housing projects to the inspection group before the end of this month.

Across the country, 98 social housing projects had been completed and 129 others were underway, to date, with a total of 55,000 apartments.

Customs office turns to online procedures

The HCM City Customs Department has begun its e-customs clearance procedures based on the VGACCS/VCIS system.

On April 1, the Viet Nam General Administration of Customs (VGAC) started installing the system in Ha Noi and Hai Phong.

The VNACCS/VCIS, based on Japanese models, the Nippon Automated Cargo Clearance System (NACCS) and Customs Intelligence System (CIS), is a modern e-clearance system dedicated to electronic processing of air and cargo to enable faster and more efficient customs clearance.

The implementation of VNACCS/VCIS in HCM City will be carried out in four phases.

The first phase will be implemented at the Sai Gon Port Border Customs Sub-department Region 1, the Sai Gon Port Border Customs Sub-department Region 3 and the New Port Customs Sub-department.

The Sai Gon Port Border Customs Sub-department Region II, the Customs Sub department managing goods used for investment activities, and the Hiep Phuoc Port Customs Sub-department will apply the VNACCS/VCIS in the second phase.

In the third phase, the use of the e-customs clearance system will begin at the Tan Son Nhat International Airport Customs Sub-department, the Customs Sub-department managing Piece Work Goods, and the Express Delivery Customs Sub-department.

The Sai Gon Port Border Customs Sub-department Region 4 and the Customs Sub-departments in the Linh Trung and Tan Thuan Export Processing Zones will participate in the e-customs clearance system in the fourth phase.

A customs insider, who declined to be named, said the implementation of e-customs clearance has been a great success for the VGAC as well as the country's administrative reforms.

Import-export companies have also benefited from convenience, accuracy and savings in time and labour, as well as improved business efficiency.

Since Viet Nam joined the World Trade Organization in 2007, foreign direct investment in the country has increased rapidly.

Declaration documents have risen markedly from 1.16 million in 2002 to 4.16 million in 2010, placing a heavy burden on customs offices.

The Viet Nam Automated Cargo Clearance System (VNACCS) is aimed to improve the business environment as it helps reduce administrative costs and the time of handling customs clearance formalities.

In addition, it will contribute to stimulating the country's economic growth and strengthening connectivity between Viet Nam and the global economies through ASEAN's one-stop-shop mechanism.

Japan firm gets in on e-bike fad

Japanese electric bike firm Terra Motors said that it has started manufacturing electric bikes in Viet Nam in HCM City's Cat Lai industrial Zone.

It said that the US$ 10 million factory, which is wholly owned by Terra, manufactures e-scooters and e-bikes. "Terra Motors Viet Nam is planning to manufacture 9,500 e-scooters and 9,900 e-bikes in 2014," said General Director of Terra Motors Viet Nam Shingo Hayashi.

He added that Terra Motors, which is Japan's leading electric bike firm, plans to invest more for increasing the capacity to 50,000 units in 2015 and 100,000 units in 2016. "Our main market is Viet Nam, but we also export to the EU and the ASEAN countries" he stated.

The first model named A4000i, which has been completely designed in Japan and has new technology which can link it to an iPhone, will be launched in Viet Nam in June 2014. Hayashi said the people in Viet Nam are suffering from high gasoline prices and air pollution.

Founded in 2010, Terra Motors' headquarters are based in Shibuya, Tokyo, and has branch offices and factories in Viet Nam and the Philippines.

The company currently has over 1,000 dealers and 3,000 service networks in Japan.

Ha Noi luxury unit sales see little improvement

 The luxury apartment market in Ha Noi has had successful transactions in some places since early this year, but experts noted that the market has not yet actually recovered.

After a long term of frozen transactions, the market has seen some successful transactions early this year.

Some projects of luxury apartments at prime locations, such as Trung Yen Plaza in Tran Duy Hung Street and Lancester in Nui Truc Street, had many successful transactions with buying prices VND200 million higher than the asking prices per apartment, and even VND500-600 million per apartment in Mandarin Garden project, reported the Dau tu Bat dong san (Real Estate Investment) newspaper.

Some other projects at the completion stage have also attracted customers to order buying.

Experts stated that the successful transactions for luxury apartments were due to small area and nice location. Development meant that the market has real demand on luxury apartments.

However, they pointed out that positive development has happened for some products because of small area, nice location and on schedule construction, but complete recovery of the whole luxury apartment market in the capital city has not occurred because the market still has high inventory.

Vu Cuong Quyet, general director of North Green Land Service Joint Stock Company specialising in selling of products at luxury apartment projects, said that the transactions of the luxury apartment market had increased but small-area apartments were sold more easily than large-area apartments.

Tran Nhu Trung, deputy general director of Tan Hoang Minh Group, noted that at present, even with luxury products customers were asking for small-area apartments.

Meanwhile, the luxury apartment market had a low rate of small-area apartments; investors had sold the small-area apartments while still holding a high inventory of luxury apartments with large-area, he pointed out.

Trung added that the key was that the investors of luxury apartment should restructure their products to promote sales.

Truong Chi Kien, deputy general director of Him Lam Thu Do Joint Stock Company, said that those who had sold their luxury apartments had to reduce asking prices for those products during the difficult period of market.

Many luxury apartment projects had high inventory, while investors must cut losses at some projects. The luxury apartment market was still facing difficulty and would be in future, Kien added.

Thirteen apartment projects have been offering cheap prices of around VND1 billion (US$47,620) to the Ha Noi property market since last month, including popular, medium and luxury classes.

The projects are almost completed or have finished construction on schedule, reported vnmedia online newspaper.

Many apartment projects with prices under VND1 billion per unit have attracted customers, including VP6 Linh Dam project that offered to the market last week and Vien 103-Van Quan project that is expected to hand over apartments to customers in the third quarter of 2015.

Margin lending soars in Q1

Total securities lending at brokerage companies has soared dramatically, raising concern that over-lending could lead to volatility when the market slumps.

Margin lending at the 10 biggest securities companies reached VND10.149 trillion ($481 million) in the first quarter, up 68 per cent over the same period of last year, according to

HCM Securities Co (HCM) was the biggest lender with outstanding loans reaching VND1.884 trillion ($89.3 million). ACB Securities Co followed closely with total loans of VND1.876 trillion ($88.9 million). Saigon Securities Inc (SSI) and MB Securities (MBS) lent around VND1.5 trillion ($71 million) each.

Margin lending increased robustly in the first three months of the year along with strong growth of the stock market. The VN-Index on the HCM Stock Exchange climbed 17 per cent from January to March, while the HNX-Index on the Ha Noi Stock Exchange jumped nearly 32 per cent.

Liquidity also soared on both markets, with the trading volume on the HCM City exchange rising 170 per cent compared to the previous quarter, averaging 132.2 million shares per session. The market volume on the Ha Noi exchange also doubled from the last quarter of 2013, averaging 81.2 million shares a day.

Improved trading also helped raise revenue at securities companies. Total turnover at the top 10 brokerage companies was recorded at VND404 billion ($19.2 million) in the first quarter, an increase of 63 per cent compared to the previous term.

SSI was the top earner with revenue of VND76 billion ($3.6 million). HCM came second with VND69 billion ($3.3 million), followed by VNDirect Securities Co (VND) with VND48 billion ($2.3 million).

However, the stock market has continuously fallen since the beginning of May, when the tension between Viet Nam and China began to escalate.

Analyst Thu Hoa at Vietstock Finance Co predicted margin calls would not last long as the long-term market outlook was optimistic and stock investment was considered the most profitable channel compared with gold, real estate or bank deposits.

In addition, the lending ratio at securities firms was still considered safe, as their total margin loans had yet to exceed 200 per cent of their equity, well in line with State Securities Commission regulations, Hoa said.

Water transport firms float on mixed results

Eleven of the 17 listed water transportation companies posted profits in the first quarter of this year but overall performance saw cumulative losses of VND51.44 billion (US$2.4 million).

The number of companies incurring losses during the period fell from eight to five, but combined losses decreased just 4 per cent from the same period last year, reaching VND186.5 billion ($8.8 million).

Meanwhile, 11 companies recorded total profits of just VND135 billion ($6.4 million), a drop of 59 per cent compared to the same period last year.

One company posted a budget neutral result for the quarter.

The top earner was PetroVietnam Transportation Co (PVT), posting an after-tax profit of more than VND50 billion ($2.4 million) for the end of March, up 14 per cent over the same period last year. Total revenue also rose 8 per cent to nearly VND1.34 trillion ($63.5 million).

The company said it deployed more cargo ships and oil tankers at the beginning of the year, which had helped boost its bottom line.

Decline in overall profits was partly due to decreases in growth of big companies, including Gemadept (GMD) and Vietnam Petroleum Transport Co (VIP).

GMD posted a net profit of just VND39.5 billion ($1.9 million) during the period, a significant decrease compared to a profit of VND146.5 billion ($6.9 million) in the first quarter of 2013.

Meanwhile, VIP recorded a loss of nearly VND15 billion ($410,900), while it reported a profit of VND112 billion ($5.3 million) in the first three months of last year.

VIP raised its revenue from selling off property at the Dinh Vu Container Port in northern Hai Phong City while GMD sold their stakes in Vinh Hao Mineral Water Co and GMD Tower.

At the other end of spectrum, some companies performed poorly and were potentially facing dropping out of the stock market.

Vinaconex Transportation Co (VCV) dominated losses, down nearly VND95 billion ($4.5 million) but lifting cumulative losses by the end of March to VND196 billion ($9.3 million), exceeding its charter capital of VND110 billion ($5.2 million).

The company has posted losses since 2011, meaning it will have to de-list shares from May 20.

Viet Nam Ocean Shipping Co (VOS), Vinaship Co (VNA) and Vitranschart (VST) also face similar risks of delisting as all companies suffered losses in the first quarter of this year, with losses ranging from VND10 billion ($474,000) to VND38 billion ($1.8 million).

Tay Ninh revokes licences of rubber-processing projects

The People's Committee of the southern Tay Ninh Province has approved the Department of Planning and Investment's proposal to withdraw the investment licences of two sluggish rubber-processing projects.

Two domestic investors, Thanh Liem and Hoan Cau Co in Tan Chau District, had funded the projects with VND25 billion or US$1.19 million each. The two investors blamed their projects' slow implementation on difficulties in processing and selling rubber latex.

The fall in global rubber prices and the large volume of rubber stock in the province have forced one-third of the province's rubber processing plants to stop operations or not run at full capacity.

JICA provides human resources funding for it sector

Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has funded 60 million yen (over US$589,000) to help Ha Noi develop its human resources in the information technology sector during the period 2014–16.

An Ngoc Thao from Vietnam Software and IT Services Association (VINASA) reported that the agency, Japan's Sapporo city and Sapporo IT Fron-SITF were in charge of the project.

The project includes preparing textbooks and curriculums for Viet Nam and organising training courses for core trainers and engineers in Vietnamese IT enterprises.

A quick survey by VINASA in nearly 40 Vietnamese IT enterprises revealed that firms, which had cooperated with Japan in 2012 and 2013, had gained a high growth rate of 30–50 per cent.

VinaCapital cleans up at APPA awards

VinaCapital on Thursday was awarded four prizes in the Asia Pacific Property Awards 2014.

The "Best Development Marketing" award was given to VinaLiving-Viet Nam's first lifestyle and tailored-living brand, while "the Best Residential High-Rise Development" award was given to Azura Apartment in Da Nang and "the Beach Front Enclave" was given to the Ocean Villas.

David Blackhall, VinaGroup's Real Estate managing director, reported that the international awards have elevated the global reputation of VinaCapital in property industry and accentuated the outstanding quality of its projects. VinaCapital is Viet Nam's leading group in asset and investment management and real estate development.

Planning approved for City's Binh Thanh District

The municipal People's Committee has approved land use planning by 2020 as well as planning in the five-year period 2011-15 of its Binh Thanh District.

Under the planning, all of the district's area of 2,070.66 ha will be non-agricultural land.

Of the total, around 833 ha will be used for infrastructure development, 761 ha will be urban area and 87 ha for production and business. In the period 2011-20, more than 233 ha of agricultural land will be converted into non-agricultural land.