Binh Duong attracts nearly US$1.2 bil in FDI

Binh Duong’s industrial zones attracted more than US$42.4 million in foreign direct investment (FDI) in October, bringing the ten-month volume of FDI to US$1.198 billion.

Of 116 newly-licensed projects worth US$713.7 million are the Binh Hoa – Binh Duong VSIP Complex (US$199 million), Panasonic Eco Solutions Vietnam Co., Ltd (US$38 million), a paper packaging plant of Japan’s TOMUKU Vietnam company (US$47.62 million), and Amway Vietnam Co., Ltd (US$21.4 million).

Among the 115 existing projects with large additional capital are URC Vietnam Co. Ltd (US$50 million), Palm-Song Be Golf Co., Ltd (US$28 million), Zeng Hsing Industrial Co., Ltd (US$16 million) and Anheuser Busch InBev Beer Co., Ltd (US$15 million).

To attract more FDI capital, Binh Duong is focusing on pushing through administrative reform and ensuring timely land clearance technical infrastructure upgrade in industrial parks. Provincial leaders have regular contact with foreign diplomatic agencies and business associations in Japan, the Republic of Korea, and Taiwan to encourage investment in the development of high-tech and support industries.

Seafood exports hit US$5.5 billion in 10 months

They showed a 7.3 percent increase from a year earlier, with the October shipments estimated at US$680 million (up 14 percent) and the third-quarter value at more than US$1.9 billion (up 17.4%).

Since the second quarter of this year, the volume of shrimp has increased sharply due to a decline in world supplies while that of other seafood products stayed almost at the same level.

According to the Vietnam Seafood Exporters and Processors (VASEP), a steady rise in shrimp exports has contributed to the sector’s positive growth of 6.4%. Shrimp exports will continue to grow on key markets, such as the US, EU, Japan and China from to the end of this year.

In the first nine months of this year shrimp exports hit more than US$2 billion and are estimated to reach US$2.4 billion by October (up 30 %) to fetch US$2.8 billion, a year-on-year increase of 27%.

White-legged shrimp shipments in October alone were estimated at nearly US$200 million (up 168%), raising the ten-month figure to US$1.18 billion (up 95%) from a year earlier.

In 2013, global shrimp output dropped by 15% compared to two years ago due to the spread of early mortality syndrome (EMS) disease in Mexico and Asia. Located at the centre of epidemics are the world’s leading processors - Thailand and China, thus providing opportunities for other suppliers like India, Ecuador and Vietnam to gain the upper hand. Vietnam’s shrimp export value sees an average monthly rise of 19-66% in the reviewed period, except in February (down 32.8%).

Experts say shrimp exports from now to the end of this year will further pick up as prawns and while-legged shrimps are most favoured in the Japan and US markets.

Meanwhile, tra fish exports were on decline due to low consumption demand, with the 9-month volume worth US$1.3 billion (down 1.4%) and estimated at US$1.43 billion by October (down nearly 2%).

Tuna and other seafood products also saw a decline in export value, such as octopus (down 17.2%), crabs (12.3%), fish (5.7%), tuna (4.5%) and molluscous (4%).

From now to the end of this year, mollucuos exports will continue to go down – a negative sign for the fifth consecutive year.

Tuna exports have already dropped sharply by 20% in recent months and their total value in 2013 is estimated at US$540 million, 5% less than last year’s figure.

However, with more than 600 businesses exporting different products to 165 markets, the seafood sector’s yearly export volume will exceed the US$6.5 billion mark to achieve a –year-on-year increase of 5%.

PM encourages stronger Vietnam-Africa cooperation

Vietnam and Middle East and North African countries have great advantages and potential for boosting effective cooperation in the future, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has said.

Addressing an international forum in Hanoi on November 4, Dung noted Vietnam is an ideal investment destination, with a stable socio-political environment, a lucrative market of about 90 million consumers, and an abundant labour force.

In addition, he said the country is located in Asia and the Pacific – a dynamic region that is leading the global economy.

PM Nguyen Tan Dung said Vietnam is improving the business climate to support foreign operations

Dung highlighted the economic geographical position of the Middle East and North Africa which connects Asia-Europe and Africa, and has rich natural resources, especially oil and gas.

The Vietnamese government hopes the Forum for Economic Cooperation between Vietnam and Middle East and North African Partners will add fresh impetus to bilateral cooperation, primarily in economics, trade, investment, oil & gas, and labour, said Dung.

He asked policymakers and business executives of both sides to share information and experience to create a highly competitive and attractive investment environment for the two business circles to successfully operate in each other’s markets.

He called on them to make in-depth discussions and proposals to help their governments to improve the efficiency of cooperation mechanism and ease business difficulties, facilitating their operations.

Both sides should expand cooperation in the areas of their strength, such as trade, energy, mining and infrastructure development. To do this, Dung said, they need to formulate and sign agreements to create a stable, long-term legal corridor for cooperation in these areas.

In addition, he said, they need to enhance the efficiency of cooperation in agriculture, labour, education-training, health care, culture, and tourism.

Vietnam and several African countries have gained a wealth of experience in agricultural production under a current tripartite cooperation model (between Vietnam, an African nation, and the Food and Agriculture Organisation).  

With its abundant and skilled labour force, Vietnam is able to meet a high demand for employment from Middle East and North African nations.  It has developed cooperation projects with a number of African countries in the area, and the efficiency for this cooperation should be enhanced in the near future.

PM Dung said Vietnam is implementing its socio-economic development strategy till 2020, focusing on finalising its institutional and legal system, developing modern infrastructure, and generating quality human resources, along with restructuring the economy and renewing its growth model for rapid and sustainable development.

The country is joining negotiations of key free trade agreements (FTAs) such as Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, Trans-Pacific Partnership, and FTAs with the European Union, and the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.

These agreements will open up plenty of cooperation opportunity for not only Vietnamese businesses but also foreigners doing business in the country.

“We are committed to creating the best possible conditions for foreign investors to do efficient, long-term business in Vietnam,” Dung assured the participants. “Your success is ours.”

During the two-day event, policymakers and business executives from Vietnam, and Middle East and North African nations are scheduled to examine the investment and business environment  in both sides, and the possibility of greater cooperation in energy, trade, infrastructure development, labour, agriculture and tourism.

Vietnam has established 12 diplomatic missions in Middle East and African nations, while 15 African nations have opened their representative offices in Vietnam.

Two-way trade has increased b y 878% in the past decade, from US$889 million in 2002 to US$7.4 billion in 2012.

African businesses are investing in Vietnam’s oil & gas, seaports, industries, and real estate market. In turn, some Vietnamese businesses are developing projects in the region, including oil and gas projects in Algeria by the Vietnam National Oil and Gas Group.

Approximately 26,000 Vietnamese nationals are currently working under contracts in Middle East and North African nations.

European consumers taste Vietnamese dried rice noodles

Duy Anh Foods in HCM City’s Cu Chi district is currently exporting between 100-150 tonnes of dried rice noodles (rice vermicelli) to the European market at a price of US$1.3-1.6/kilo, up 70% from a year ago.

Tuoi Tre newswire quoted Le Duy Toan, director of Duy Anh Foods, saying European importers have reduced rice vermicelli shipments from China for the past two years and shifted to the Vietnamese rice products.

Vietnamese rice vermicelli, mostly made of brown rice (whole grain rice), is a favourite with European consumers for high quality.

Nam Con Son pipeline brings 50 billion cu.m of gas ashore

The Nam Con Son gas pipeline in the southern province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau brought a total of 50 billion cu. m. of natural gas to the shore over the past decade.

The information was announced by the Nam Con Son Gas Pipeline Company under the Vietnam Gas Corporation- PV Gas during a ceremony held on November 1 in the province to mark 10 years of the pipeline’s operation.

With a total investment of US$1.3 billion, the pipeline was the largest foreign investment project in the first years of the 21st century.

It helped transport and process gas from the Nam Con Son basin to power plants in the province.

As one of the country’s major projects, it has been operating safely and effectively to ensure regular gas supply for many industrial parks in Ba Ria-Vung Tau and Dong Nai provinces, thus contributing significantly to the country’s industrialisation and modernisation.

Since 2011, the pipeline’s capacity was increased to 21 million cu. m. per day and the capacity was up to 22 million from May, 2013.

Along with its production and business activities, the Nam Con Son Gas Pipeline company is always active in social activities. It has donated over US$$7 million to welfare programmes in many localities nationwide.

Over US$200 mln for second lift-off oil rig

The PetroVietnam Marine Shipyard JSC (PV Shipyard) and the Vietnam -Russia Oil and Gas Joint Venture (Vietsovpetro) have recently signed a US$200 million contract on building a new lift-off oil rig in Vietnam.

The Tam Dao 05 lift-off oil rig, the second of its kind in the country, will be completed after 32 months of construction and is expected to help Vietsovpetro be more proactive in oil and gas exploitation and reduce the cost of hiring drilling rig.

Vietnam’s first 90-metre rig, Tam Dao 03, has been put into stable and effective operation since June 2012. It has received a certification of international standard from the American Bureau of Shipping.

Lang Son needs ODA for 96 infrastructure projects

The northern border province of Lang Son is calling for official development assistance (ODA) and other sources for 96 projects, mainly in infrastructure building, said a provincial leader.

At a conference to call for ODA on November 1, Nguyen Van Binh, Vice Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee, said Lang Son is in need of VND29.6 trillion (US$1.3 trillion), accounting for 25-28% of its total investment.

As a locality with low and unsustainable economic growth, slow economic change, poor infrastructure and education as well as inadequate healthcare development, Lang Son has given priority to the construction of modern infrastructure, especially major projects in the Dong Dang-Lang Son border gate economic zone, he said.

The province will focus on developing a trans-provincial road system and roads connecting its districts, and upgrading water drainage and waste treatment systems.

Education and healthcare infrastructure in poor districts will also be improved, while human resources development and the modernisation of administrative agencies in districts will also be supported, bettering the investment environment.

According to the provincial People’s Committee, ODA has been allocated in the province since 1995. To date, the locality has received VND3 trillion (US$1.42 trillion), with 80% of which being ODA. Notably, it has implemented a VND33 billion forestation project funded by the German Government.

So far, 37 out of 44 ODA projects worth VND1.6 trillion in total have been completed. The remaining seven capitalised at VND1.4 trillion, are underway, focusing on transport, agricultural and rural development, health care and education.

Major ODA providers include the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank, the Finnish Government, and the Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), among others.

During the conference, the province signed a memorandum of understanding with KOICA and Shinhan Bank of the Republic of Korea on cooperation in building local schools.

Vietnam prepares for CISG membership

Vietnamese policymakers and economists have stressed the need for Vietnam to carefully evaluate advantages and difficulties before joining the UN Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (CISG or the 1980 Vienna Convention).

At a seminar in Ho Chi Minh City on November 1, Nguyen Sinh Nhat Tan, Head of the Legal Department under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, said that Vietnam has consulted the CISG in building legal corridors and laws relating to trade and investment cooperation over the years.

He highlighted the active participation of different social sectors, especially those experienced in international trade and import-export activities in the southern region, in preparation for the country’s membership to the CISG.

Sharing Tan’s views, Dr. Nguyen Minh Hang, an advisor to the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said joining the convention is of paramount importance to Vietnam, especially when the country is accelerating its international economic integration.

The CISG, together with free trade agreements and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, is expected to make it easier for Vietnam in trade and investment activities, creating a legal foundation for Vietnamese businesses to penetrate the international market, she said.

Apart from Vietnam, several other Asian countries such as the Philippines and Thailand are also stepping up efforts to join the convention, she added.

According to Nguyen Trung Nam, Executive Director of EPLegal Company, most countries that have trade ties with Vietnam have become CISG members.

Therefore, he said, the convention surely affects the country regardless of its membership.

Delegates at the seminar pointed to common legal difficulties facing Vietnamese businesses such as transactions based on relationship and belief, poor knowledge of legal issues in contract negotiations and the lack of budget for legal consultation.

Signed in Vienna, Austria, in 1980, the CISG is a project of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL). The self-executing treaty aims to reduce obstacles to international trade, particularly those associated with law issues, by creating even-handed and modern substantive rules governing the rights and obligations of parties to international sales contracts.

As of September 26, 2013, 80 states had adopted the convention.

Vietnam, Russia eager to boost energy cooperation

Energy cooperation is one of the key areas in the Vietnam Russia traditional friendship and cooperative relations.

Energy projects on hydro-power and thermal power plant construction and oil and gas exploitation are regarded as key pillars in a long-term cooperation between Vietnam and the former Soviet Union and Russia today.

Vietnam considers energy cooperation with Russia as main targets for national development, construction and long-term energy security. It is also seen as Russia’s efforts in expanding investment overseas and promoting national economic development.

Russia also priotizes boosting energy cooperation with Vietnam and wants to become the latter’s most reliable trustful partner.

Russian PM D.Medvedev affirmed priotizing energy cooperation with Vietnam in an interview granted to the Vietnamese media

In a recent interview with the Vietnamese media before his trip to Vietnam last year, Russian Prime Minister D.Medvedev emphasized the importance of strengthening energy cooperation with Vietnam.

Russia and Vietnam can collaborate on high-technology and energy and fuel supply and processing and exchange products and semi-products, such as oil, and gas, he said.

The first Deputy Prime Minister Igor Ivanovich Shuvalov shared the same view at the first Vietnam-Russia Economic Forum in Hanoi in Mid-October.

At the forum Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai also affirmed Vietnam’s priorities given to enhancing Vietnam-Russia energy cooperation and intensifying investments in energy infrastructure.

Both nations have made great strides in oil and gas cooperation in recent years with millions of tonnes of oil exploited, gaining profits worth dozens of billions of US dollars.

Cooperation between Vietnam National Oil and Gas Group (PetroVietnam) and Russian petroleum companies and groups has delivered huge benefits, contributing to the development of the two countries’ petroleum industries. Along with Vietnam-Russia Oil and Gas Joint Venture (Vietsovpetro), many more other joint ventures have been set up proving their effective operations.

Russian petroleum companies, such as Zarubezhneft, Gazprom, Rosneft, Lukoil have expanded oil exploration on the continental shelf of Vietnam, engaged in oil refinery projects in Vietnam and PetroVietnam’s projects in Russia.

Joint ventures between PetroVietnam and Russian companies have contributed to increasing total exploited oil volume in Vietnam.

During Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung’s visit to Russia in May, the successful signing of cooperation documents between PetroVietnam and its Russian partners marked a turning point in bilateral cooperative relations

Vietnam greatly values Russian group Zarubezhneft’s long-term operation in Vietnam.

At the ceremony to mark the 45th anniversary of Zarubezhneft, the Vietnamese President presented Labour Order (first class) to the group and its General Director plus certificates of merits to outstanding individuals and units.

Ambassador Pham Xuan Son delivered a speech at a ceremony to mark the 45th anniversary of Russian group Zarubezhneft.

Regarding cooperation between Zarubezhnev and PetroVietnam, ambassador to Russia Pham Xuan Son said Vietnam never forget the support and assistance given to Vietnam by Zarubezhnev staff and experts’ and Russian veterans. Nuclear energy development is another Vietnam’s prioritised field in its cooperation with Russia.

Russia is willing to work hand in hand with Vietnam as a major partner in building nuclear power plants, typically Ninh Thuan 1.

Russian government has pledged to provide scholarships for Vietnamese students who follow nuclear power field to meet the demand for human resources of Ninh Thuan 1 Nuclear Power plant.

Agreements and documents are scheduled to be signed during President V.Putin’s upcoming visit to Vietnam, including those on energy cooperation which will help raise mutually beneficial cooperation in oil, gas and nuclear energy to new heights.

HCMC hosts Vietnam Fashion Fair 2013

More than 200 local businesses joined in the launch of the 2013 Vietnam Fashion Fair (VIFF 2013) at the Tan Binh Exhibition and Convention Centre on November 1.

The exhibition’s approximately 300 stalls are showcasing the garment and textile industry’s latest product ranges as well as new collections for the latest fashion season.

Famous brand names such as Viet Tien, Binh Minh, and Len Vietnam have all scheduled special displays during the event.

The garment industry has made significant contributions to Vietnam’s total exports in 2013, growing at a rate of more than 15%.

Its export earnings amounted to US$16 billion after the first eight months of this year. Its imports were valued at US$8 billion.

Minister confident of 5.4% GDP growth in 2013

Minister of Planning and Investment (MoPI) Bui Quang Vinh has reassured the National Assembly session underway in Hanoi that 2013’s targeted 5.4% GDP growth is well within reach, citing concrete evidence.

Speaking on November 1, Vinh stressed the MoPI’s General Statistics Office (GSO) has scorned excess optimism, considering ongoing economic difficulties.

The GSO reported the national economy grew by 5.14% in 2013’s first three quarters, slightly higher than last year’s 5.1%.

Vinh said the reliable quarterly improvements in GDP growth suggest an economy on track to recovery. From  Q1’s 4.76%, GDP growth stepped up to 5% in Q2, 5.54% in Q3, and an expected 5.6–5.7% in Q4. Vietnam’s 2013 GDP growth rate as a whole is estimated at 5.4%.  

The processing and manufacturing industry has weathered economic storms, recording 6.8% growth during 2013’s first nine months. Its export value increased 15.7% and is expected to hover around 15% by year’s end.

The Index of Industrial Production (IIP) also improved on a quarterly basis, backed up by more incoming foreign direct investment (FDI) capital and official development assistance (ODA) disbursement.  

Six FDI projects, each worth more than US$1 billion, were licensed between January–September 2013, pushing the reviewed period’s total registered FDI capital beyond US$15 billion and far exceeding the US$13–14 billion target set for the entire year.

Impressive imports and exports have helped the economic recovery along. Defying recent trends, the State economic sector’s exports grew by 4.4%.

Imports rose 15.5%, mostly courtesy of input material, machinery and equipment for production purchases.

Taken together, the statistics indicate the economy has bottomed out and recovery’s green shoots are poking through. More time will be needed to achieve sustainable growth.

Minister Vinh said meeting the 5.4% growth target will depend on the government’s performance during the rest of 2013 as well as efforts from ministries, agencies, and localities. He remains confident the 5.4% goal is realistically achievable.  

Vietnam enjoys 26% surge in export to Canada

Vietnam’s exports to Canada during the past nine months of 2013 were valued at US$1.063 billion, a 26% increase over the same period last year.

According to the Centre for Industry and Trade Information under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, Vietnam’s main exports to the North America country include garments (US$280.78 million, up 16.9%), aquaculture (US$120.33 million, up 21.6%) and footwear (US$112.93 million, up 23.7%).

Vietnam and Canada marked the 40th anniversary of their diplomatic ties on August 21, 2013.

Since the two countries signed their Bilateral Trade Agreement in 1995, two-way trade surged by 20 times, hitting US$1.6 billion in 2012.

Canada jumped from 23rd position among foreign investors in Vietnam in 2006 to 15th position currently. Both countries are now joining the negotiations for a Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) – the largest trade agreement in the region.

Promotion month launched in Hanoi

More than 1,000 stands of products will be set up in various venues across Hanoi, opening the biggest trade promotion month in the capital city.

The programme, which will run for the whole of November, will offer at least 15% discounts on many products.

It will start with an online sale from November 1-15 at , where customers can buy products at good prices from over 100 businesses.

Golden Days will also be held from November 16-17 at supermarkets and trade centres across the city, where discounts of up to 50% will be applied to major items including electrical goods and machinery.

The Golden Promotion Fair will take place from November 29 - December 3 at the Vietnam Exhibition and Fair Centre (VEFAC), with over 150 stands providing thousands of products of high quality and beautiful design at preferential prices.

This year’s programme, the sixth of its kinds, aims to stimulate consumption and help businesses raise their turnovers.

The organising board is working with the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) and Asian Advertising Congress to lure more visitors.

Bank restructuring scheme moves on

The central bank will continue with the banking network restructuring project after several credit institutions have been merged over the past two years, according to a report the Government presented before the National Assembly on Monday.

The central bank will finish merger procedures for a commercial bank, acquire two financial companies and close six foreign bank branches through asset transfers in the near future.

Nine commercial bank restructuring plans have been realized on a voluntary basis, of which eight projects have been approved. Three banks Tin Nghia, Ficombank and Saigon Bank have merged into one, Western Bank has merged with PVFC, Habubank has merged with SHB while three other banks have had restructuring plans approved, the report said.

Restructured banks have seen more stable operations so far. Five credit institutions, including three banks, one domestic financial company and one foreign financial leasing firm, have been disbanded after the mergers. Meanwhile, three foreign bank branches have seen licenses withdrawn.

From now to the year-end, the central bank will complete procedures for the merger between DaiABank and HDBank, the purchase of two financial companies and closure of six foreign bank branches. Two joint venture banks will be converted into 100% foreign-owned banks.

In 2012, the restructuring scheme focused on ailing commercial banks. But this year, local credit institutions have undergone restructuring on a voluntary basis. It is not just struggling banks; healthy local lenders also have merged with others.

This tendency suggests that credit institutions have a changed attitude toward governance, admitted shortcomings to overcome difficulties and want to improve competitiveness, the Government commented.

According to reports of credit institutions, total bad debt of the entire network was over VND142 trillion as of August 31, making up 4.6% of total outstanding loans and rising 20% against late 2012. Bad debt growth rate declined strongly in the first eight months compared to the same period of last year.

Banks have rescheduled loans to curb bad debt growth rate, saving thousands of customers from paying overdue interest rates while helping them access new loans. As of August, over VND296 trillion worth of loans were rescheduled. In 2012 and the Jan-Aug period of 2013, banks handled VND95 trillion worth of bad debts with risk reserve funds.

Palme Vietnam opens in city next month

The much-anticipated Vietnam’s International Showcase for Professional Audio, Lighting, AV, Broadcast, Systems Integration, Music Software and Entertainment Technology Exhibition or Palme Vietnam will come back to HCMC next month.

The event will be back to HCMC after being absent for one year. Following the success of the same exhibitions in HCMC in 2010 and in Hanoi in 2011, the exhibition will take place at the Saigon Exhibition and Convention Center in District 7 from November 6-8.

It is expected to bring many interesting and attractive activities along with the latest products and technologies in the entertainment, music and television industries, the Singapore-based organizer Informa Exhibitions said in a press release.

This year’s expo gathers up to 130 companies and brands from 25 nations in Europe, America and Asia, including AKG, Antari, Antiq, Black Magic Design, BSS and Christie Digital.

Besides, there will be seminars and functions introducing products of the participating producers at the seminar with the participation of popular speakers providing updates on the latest television technologies in Vietnam like the over-the-top service or multi-windowing display.

Specially, there will be a contest themed “Pioneer Dj&Me Competition” lasting for three days at the expo under arrangement of Bao Duong Company.

Samsung keen on shipbuilding, oilrig projects

Samsung Heavy Industries and 16 South Korean enterprises operating in the supporting industries on Monday had a meeting with Vietnamese partners who are shipbuilder, manufacturers of rigs and oil-gas equipment.

According to Cheolhwa Jung at Samsung Heavy Industries, Vietnam has a potential for shipbuilding, manufacturing of oil-gas equipment and supporting industries, and thus the visit of South Korean enterprises to Vietnam aims to seek cooperation opportunities and exchange technology with Vietnamese partners.

The meeting between enterprises of the two countries is held via Sopas Co., an agent of Samsung Heavy Industries in Vietnam.

Jung said at the meeting that the delegation’s Vietnam trip was meant to sound out business opportunities only, but Vu Hai Ha, director of Sopas Co., said the Korean enterprises aimed high from the visit.

They came to introduce technologies for building ships and oilrigs and other supporting equipments, and to look into related products in Vietnam because they wanted to outsource production of certain equipment here, Ha said.

The Korean delegation will also have a meeting with PetroVietnam and Vinashin in Hanoi this week.

In late September, the Ministry of Planning and Investment had signed a memorandum of understanding with Samsung C&T to boost cooperation in infrastructure. This shows Samsung Group wanted to expand its business in Vietnam beyond electronics, which was very successful for the Korean conglomerate.

According to the MOU, focal areas for cooperation would include shipbuilding, power generation, airport construction, petrochemical complexes, and information technology among others.

According to the Energy Department under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, Samsung has conducted surveys of power plants in the central and southern regions to look for a potential project to invest in.

Solutions sought for budget housing projects

Problems encountered while seeking approval to convert commercial housing projects to budget ones as well as the disbursement of the VND30-trillion package may be improved in the coming time as management agencies are looking for solutions to these issues.

Representatives of the Government Office, the Steering Committee on Housing and Real Estate Market Policy, the Ministry of Construction, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, the State Bank and the HCMC Department of Construction on Monday started to inspect budget housing projects converted from commercial ones and the management of apartments in HCMC.

The inspection aims to accelerate the disbursement of the VND30-trillion home loan package. Besides, the delegation will work to remove problems concerning interest rates and loan terms.

Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai, head of the Steering Committee on Housing and Real Estate Market Policy, will have a question and answer session before the National Assembly on this early next month.

According to Truong Anh Tuan, chairman of Hoang Quan Real Estate Corp, although it has a project allowed to be converted and a bank has agreed to offer loans, it still takes the firm over one more month to complete all procedures before starting work on the project.

As the process of approving projects to be converted is taking place slowly, there have been only three projects in Hanoi and one project in HCMC approved.

With such implementation process, the number of converted projects will be modest as the conversion of projects will be only valid until December, 2014 as mentioned in Circular 02/2013/TT-BXD.

Vingroup to finish condo project handover

Vingroup Company is trying to launch Royal City and Times City, two urban complex projects in Hanoi City, into operation and finish the apartment handovers within this year.

Vingroup until now has handed over 4,000 condos to customers and will give out nearly 2,000 more before the year-end as part of an earlier commitment.

For the remaining 2,000 apartments at the two projects, the investor will only finish construction and decoration if buyers register to buy them. The enterprise has plans to launch the sale and finish these condos within the next two years.

Royal City project has started operating with Vincom Mega Mall Royal City, boasting Asia’s largest underground retail and entertainment complex, which opened on July 31. Vingroup will complete the final works to launch the entire project into operation early next year.

Meanwhile, the infrastructure network of Times City project has also been completed. The Vincom Mega Mall Times City, a commercial and entertainment complex, and the pre-school Vinschool will open on December 24.

Vingroup has also announced a preferential policy for residents of Vincom Center Ba Trieu, which was launched into use and handed over to customers five years ago. The enterprise will give management fee exemptions for the condo section for one year starting from next month and apply the rate of VND10,000 per square meter within the next five years.

In addition, the enterprise will apply hot water usage fee of just VND30,000 per cubic meter. Vingroup will also give similar support to residents of Vincom Center Dong Khoi in HCMC’s District 1.

Late site handover for metro project costs city dearly

Late handover of the site for building the first metro line project in HCMC is sending local authorities into the hot water, as the city is bound to pay the contractor as much as VND2.5 billion for each day of delay.

The HCMC Management Authority for Urban Railways (MAUR) now is persuading the contractor to reduce fines for the late site handover to make room for constructing the Metro Line No. 1 connecting Ben Thanh Market and Suoi Tien Theme Park. The contractor is a consortium grouping Japan’s Sumitomo Corporation and Vietnam’s Civil Engineering Construction Corporation No. 6 (Cienco 6).

The metro line which started construction on August 28, 2012 is set for completion and operation in 2018.

Under the agreement between the two sides, the city should have handed over the cleared site to the contractor at the end of last year. However, given the troubled site clearance, MAUR has extended the handover schedule on several occasions, with the last one set for September 30, 2013.

In an announcement on the project’s construction progress released last Friday, the city’s government said that the belated site clearance was mainly in Thu Duc District and Di An Town in Binh Duong Province. Nearly 100 households in Thu Duc and Di An have yet to hand over the sites to the consortium, according to the announcement.

Owing to the later-than-expected handover, the city will have to pay fines of up to VND2.5 billion a day, causing huge losses for the State budget and sapping the prestige of the city in its relationship with the foreign loan providers and investors.

Speaking with the Daily on Monday, Le Hong Ha, deputy head of MAUR, informed that his authority now was negotiating with the consortium to lower the fines. Given the current financial constraints, it is difficult for the city to pay the VND2.5 billion to the contractor a day as stated in the contract, Ha said.

To have the sites handed to the contractor so that they could continue working on the project on schedule, the city’s authorities have asked the governments of the related localities to focus on accelerating site clearance.

The consortium of Sumitomo and Cienco 6 are in charge of designing and constructing the elevated section of the Metro Line No.1 going through Ba Son Shipyard, Van Thanh, Tan Cang, Hanoi Highway and Suoi Tien Park. The elevated line which runs roughly 17 kilometers will have 11 stations and costs up to 45 billion yen.

The first metro line has a total length of 19.7 kilometers with an underground section stretching 2.6 kilometers. The route comprises of 14 depots with three underground facilities and 11 elevated ones. It is expected to be completed in 2017 and put into operation in 2018.

The line No.1 was initially estimated to cost US$1.09 billion sourced from official development assistance (ODA) loans and counter capital from the State budget, but the cost has now swollen to US$2.07 billion.

As the city will develop six metro lines to meet 30% of local public travel demand, the local government is expected to clear the planned sites for the schemes’ construction more reasonably to avoid such punitive payments.

Entrepreneur forum helps strengthen Vietnam-Canada trade

Around 200 representatives from the Canada-Vietnam Friendship Association, the Canada-Vietnam Trade Council and overseas Vietnamese businesses attended a forum held in Toronto, Canada on October 28.

Addressing the event, held by the Vietnamese Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) and the Vietnamese Embassy in Canada, Vietnamese Ambassador To Anh Dung praised the efforts made by OV entrepreneurs to boost the two countries’ trade and investment ties.

He affirmed that despite their geographic distance, the two countries are finding many opportunities to intensify cooperation.

Deputy Director of MoIT’s Department for European Markets Nguyen Duc Thuong stressed the State’s policy of creating favourable conditions for OV entrepreneurs to do business in their homeland.

Delegates expressed their hope that similar activities will be held to connect and support the Vietnamese business community inside and outside Vietnam in the future.-

Cooperative sector makes positive contribution to economy

Over the last ten years, the cooperative sector has made a considerable annual contribution of 6.43 percent to the national Gross Domestic Product despite its meagre investment (0.63%) compared with the total investment capital in all economic sectors.

Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai unveiled the figure at a ceremony marking the 20 th founding anniversary of the Vietnam Cooperative Alliances (VCA) on October 29 in Hanoi.

According to the Deputy PM, developing the cooperative economy should be part of the national process of industrialisation and modernisation, turning the country into an industrialised nation by 2020.

He emphasised the key role of developing the cooperative economy in agriculture, adhering to industrialisation and agricultural modernisation and new rural area building.

To reach this end, the VCA should improve its staff’s capacity, making proposals matching the aspirations of cooperative units, thus contributing to the efficient renewal and development of the cooperative economy.

The country has about 19,800 cooperatives and 54 cooperative unions, home to about 12.5 million workers.-

FDI rises 25% in Ho Chi Minh City

Foreign direct investment in Ho Chi Minh City in the first 10 months of this year increased by 24.8 percent compared to the same period last year, according to the municipal People’s Committee.

Statistics made public on October 29 said in the 10-month period, city authorities lisensed 363 FDI projects with a combined capital of 847.4 million USD, a rise of 12.4 percent in the number of projects and 69.6 percent in capital.

Furthermore, they also allowed 108 existing projects to increase their capital by 639.3 million USD.

The committee said the city, the country’s biggest economic hub, contributed 186.6 trillion VND to the State budget in the past 10 months, representing 78.8 percent of its yearly plan and increasing 8.3 percent over the same period last year.-

HCM City faces export difficulties

Ho Chi Minh City faces difficulties in the export field in the remaining months of this year due to general difficulties in the country’s economy and the global economic crisis.

The information was revealed by representatives from the municipal People’s Committee at a meeting held on October 29, which was held to review the city’s socio-economic development in the first ten months of this year.

According to Thai Van Re, Director of the municipal Department of Planning and Investment, the city’s total turnover from goods retail and services in October reached over 52 trillion VND (about 2.4 billion USD), bringing total turnover of the fields in the first ten months of this year to more than 493 trillion VND (over 23 billion USD), a year-on-year increase of 12.2 percent.

Meanwhile, export turnover for the ten-month period in the city was estimated at 21.7 billion USD, down 6.8 percent against the same period last year.

Shrinking value added of several export commodities such as farm products and seafood were the major causes behind the fall in export turnover.

Dao Thi Huong Lan, Director of Ho Chi Minh City Department of Finance, said in the reviewed period, the city’s total budget collection was estimated at over 186 trillion VND (over 8.7 billion USD), reaching 78.8 percent of the budget forecast and representing a growth of 8.3 percent compared to the same period last year.

Speaking at the meeting, Tran Anh Tuan from the Ho Chi Minh City Institute for Development Studies said the city’s 10-month industrial development index saw a 5.9 percent rise but the four key industrial sectors only registered an increase of 5.5 percent, despite the city giving many priorities to the sectors.

In past months, transport and tourism sectors saw high growth, thus contributing to pushing the city’s growth, Tuan noted.

He stressed that it is necessary to expand price stability programmes of essential goods in the final months of this year, while promoting the disbursement of investment projects.

The city’s authorities should also boost coordination between the restructuring of the banking sector, enterprises and public investment, he added.-

HCM City encourages OV contributions

HCM City has around 2 million residents who are residing overseas or developing cooperative ties with their compatriots in the city.

The figure was released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at a meeting in HCM City on October 30 to review ten-year implementation of the Politburo’s Resolution 36 on Overseas Vietnamese (OVs) affairs.

Most of the OVs are residing in developed countries and 80% of them are given citizenship in the countries of their residence.

The Party and State have introduced a number of preferential policies on visa exemption, retaining Vietnamese citizenship, investment encouragement and house  ownership, creating the best possible conditions for OVs to return to the homeland.

The Association for Liaison with Overseas Vietnamese (ALOV) branches in some HCM City districts have worked with legal aid offices, tax bureaux and the police to help OVs adhere to laws when carrying out business, citizenship and driving license registration, tax declaration, and inheritance procedures, as well as dealing with difficulties.

From 2004 to June 2013, more than 5.3 million OVs returned home through HCM City’s Tan Son Nhat International Airport and most of them registered for temporary residence in the city. More than 3,000 OVs came back and 9,234 OV businesses were granted long-term stay in the city.

Over the past 10 years, banks and credit orgnanisations have lured more than US$33 billion in OV remittances, contributing to stabilising the national economy. OVs have donated more than VND70 billion to social and charitable programmes in its 24 districts and towns.

Participants at the meeting, however, agreed ALOV has yet to fully exploit OV intellectualism, primarily in business production and technology development, or to pay due attention to promoting people-to-people diplomacy and Vietnamese cultural abroad

The Vietnam Fatherland Front Central Committee’s HCM City chapter asked ALOV to conduct regular meetings with OVs to address their complaints and desires and to help young OVs to return home.

VN creates better investment climate for local firms: WB

A new World Bank Group report finds that Viet Nam's stronger investor protection and improved access to credit made doing business easier for local firms between July 2012 and June 2013.

The report, Doing Business 2014: Understanding Regulations for Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises, finds that since 2005, 24 of 25 economies in East Asia and the Pacific made their regulatory environment more business-friendly.

Across the globe, Singapore continues to provide the world's most business-friendly regulatory environment for local entrepreneurs, followed by Hong Kong Special Administration Region, China, the report found.

In the past year, 15 of 25 economies in the region implemented at least one regulatory reform aimed at making it easier to do business.

Among the region's economies, China made the greatest progress during that time in improving business regulations for local entrepreneurs.

Although the report finds that Viet Nam has implemented 21 reforms – the highest number in East Asia Pacific – since 2005, the country's ranking has not improved much over the years.

This year, Viet Nam is ranked 99th out of 189 economies, signalling that the country needs to do even more in order to improve its position on the list.

"œViet Nam has undertaken important reforms during the past nine years to strengthen its business environment, but much work still needs to be done to sustain its competitiveness, especially in adopting international best practices in regulating businesses."

The remark was made by Wendy Werner, investment climate advisory services manager for East Asia and the Pacific at IFC, a member of the World Bank Group.

In the past year, Viet Nam strengthened investor protection by introducing greater disclosure requirements for listed companies in cases of related-party transactions.

In addition, the country granted the first private credit bureau license following the issuance of a decree in 2010 that laid down the legal framework for establishing such bureaus.

Viet Nam, however, made paying taxes more costly for companies by increasing employers' social security contribution rate.

Globally, the Philippines is among the 10 economies that improved the most in making regulation easier for businesses over the past year.

The government implemented regulatory reforms in three areas.

The introduction of a fully operational online filing and payment system made tax compliance easier for companies.

Simplified occupancy clearances eased construction permitting. And new regulations guarantee borrowers' right to access their data in the country's largest credit bureau.

"œFor the first time, this year's Doing Business report measures regulations in Myanmar, a country that has started to open up to the global economy after years of isolation," said Augusto Lopez-Claros, director of Global Indicators and Analysis for the World Bank Group.

"œThe data show that there is considerable scope for reform, and efforts are under way to improve the country's business regulations. By removing bottlenecks to firm creation and growth, governments can signal the emergence of a more business-friendly environment, as has already been done in a large number of economies in the region."

Joining Singapore and Hong Kong, China, on the list of the 10 economies with the most business-friendly regulations this year are New Zealand, the US, Denmark, Malaysia, the Republic of Korea, Georgia, Norway and the UK.

This year's report features a case study on the Republic of Korea's electronic court system for enforcing contracts, Malaysia's electronic system for paying taxes, and Singapore's single-window system for trading across borders.

In addition to the global rankings, every year the Doing Business reports the economies that have improved the most on the indicators since the previous year.

The 10 economies topping the list this year are, in order of improvement: Ukraine, Rwanda, the Russian Federation, the Philippines, Kosovo, Djibouti, Cote d'Ivoire, Burundi, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Guatemala.

Yet challenges persist: five of this year's top improvers – Burundi, Cote d'Ivoire, Djibouti, the Philippines and Ukraine – are still in the bottom half of the global ranking on the ease of doing business.