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Footwear exports aim for US$8 billion; ÆON Japan invests in Vietnam;  Businesses suggest tax, customs overhaul; FDI up 65.5% in 10 months; Hanoi to host 28th Asian Advertising Congress

Vietnam, EU begin new round of FTA negotiations

Vietnam and the European Union (EU) kick-started the fifth round of their free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations in Hanoi on November 4.

Head of the European Parliamentarian delegation Werner Largen said discussions will focus on the creation of an equal playing field for State and private businesses, intellectual property rights protection, geographical indication, and sustainable development.

A European Parliament (EP) committee is expected to consider ratifying the trade pact when bilateral negotiations are concluded. The EP will issue a resolution detailing the European Union’s expectations from and requirements for Vietnam.

Vietnam and the EU are making every effort to conclude their FTA negotiations in 2014. Both sides have shown their strong political commitments towards this goal, according to Largen.

The EU is Vietnam’s biggest export market and the country’s second biggest trade partner. Bilateral trade rose sharply in the first half of this year, with Vietnamese exports increasing 25% and EU exports surging 20%.

The trade pact will help Vietnam attract more foreign investment, especially from EU countries, sharpen its economic competitive edge, create jobs, and use domestic resources more effectively.

Footwear exports aim for US$8 billion

Footwear businesses are busy with a number of new contracts. Their exports are expected to hit a record high of US$8 billion this year.

The Vietnam Leather and Footwear Association (Lefaso) says if monthly exports are equal to the average level of US$675 million in the first nine months of this year, the sector’s export earnings will reach nearly US$8.1 billion by the end of this year, even up to US$8.44 billion thanks to strong growth in November and December.

The preliminary statistics of the General Department of Vietnam Customs show that footwear exports in the first half of October was US$309.6 million, bringing the total export value to US$6.31 billion so far this year.

Export earnings in the first nine months of this year rose 15.08% to nearly US$6.01 billion, accounting for 6.24% of the country’s total export revenue.

Export growth depends on market movement. September was the fourth consecutive month the footwear sector saw its exports drop by 25.14% compared to August to US$549.14 million, for instance to the US (9.63%), the UK (19.16%), Japan (19.12%), Germany (31.19%), China (65%) and Brazil (72.12%).

However, there are signs of positive growth in most markets. The US still ranks first among Vietnam’s footwear importers with its total volume worth US$1.93 billion (up 17.2%), followed by the UK worth US$399.67 million (up 9.27%), Germany with US$296.86 million (up 8.14%), Japan with US$290.76 million, the Netherlands with US$260.09 million, China with US$256.17 million, Brazil with US$210.8 million and Spain with US$210.32 million.

Currently, there are more than 1,100 businesses involved in footwear production, creating over 720,000 jobs. In addition, craft villages can mobilise ten of thousands of labourers from household production units to manufacture for export at the peak of the season.

As foreign direct investment (FDI) businesses make up 76.4% of total export revenue in the footwear sector, domestic businesses should improve their operation capacity to raise the added value for their products.

To deal with the shortage of highly skilled workers it is necessary to hire foreign experts to help improve the competitiveness of product lines for export.

In the face of slow world economic recovery, domestic business should be careful in their production strategies.

Thai Binh host int’l agricultural fair

The 2013 International Agriculture Northern Delta Fair opened in Thai Binh province on November 5, attracting more than 200 domestic and foreign enterprises.

There are 500 display stands filled up with various kinds of ornamental plants, pets, agricultural machinery and equipment, agricultural and craft products, timbers and construction materials.

The seven-day event provides a chance for Vietnamese and foreign enterprises to exchange experience, boost trade and investment cooperation and seek business partners.

Major activities include seminars to introduce the latest agricultural technologies, an award ceremony for outstanding businesses and exhibitions on socio-economic and cultural achievements.

The annual fair attracts more than 100,000 visitors and the total sales revenue of participating enterprises is estimated at VND 20 billion.    

Hau Giang, RoK boost cooperation

Vietnam and the Republic of Korea will strengthen friendship and cooperation for the sake of prosperity and development, based on principles of equality, mutual benefits and respect for cultural tradition and customs of each country.

To this effect, a cooperation agreement was signed in Vi Thanh City on November 5 by representatives from the Phung Hiep district, Hau Giang province, and Gangjin-gun district, Jeollanam-Do province.

Under the agreement, the two provinces will establish ties of friendship in the fields of investment, land, construction, agriculture, services, tourism, education and health care.

They will also promote trade exchange under contract between their cooperatives as well as businesses and investment cooperation in the socio-economic fields.

At the signing ceremony, Tran Cong Chanh,  Chairman of the provincial People's Committee said this is a good opportunity to strengthen friendship between the two countries after their 20-year establishment of diplomatic relations.

ÆON Japan invests in Vietnam

ÆON, Japan's single-largest shopping mall developer and operator, will open its shopping mall in HCM City on January 1, 2014, to break into Vietnam’s lucrative retail market.

The shopping mall is located in Tan Phu district, which is only 5km away from Vietnam’s largest international airport – Tan Son Nhat – and has just several trading centres.

This mall will target young families rather than wealthy people, says Yukio Konishi, ÆON Mall Vietnam General Director.

Dozens of retailers have entered Vietnam during the past decade, turning it into a competitive market. Some of them were later dissatisfied because their malls have received fewer shoppers than expected.

However, the ÆON representative believes it is not late to invest in Vietnam, saying the economic slowdown is creating investment opportunities for retailers.

According to Yukio Konishi, Vietnam has a lucrative market of approximately 90 million consumers, mostly young, and his group expected to achieve success in the next 10 years after Vietnamese consumers are now more aware of product and service quality.

This investor hopes to attract crowds of Vietnamese shoppers by offering Japanese-style services – a combination of shopping, entertainment and relaxation services.

One third of the displayed products at ÆON Mall Vietnam are made-in-Japan, another one third are locally produced, and the remainder are imported from other countries. Fifty-two entertaining events will be held throughout the year.

ÆON plans to open its second shopping mall in the southern province of Binh Duong in October 2014 and the third in Hanoi in 2015.

Vietnam- new strategic partner of France in Asia

Many opportunities have been opened up for Vietnam and France since the two countries signed the strategic partnership agreement during Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung’s recent visit to France.

The remark was made at a seminar entitled “Vietnam- new strategic partner of France in Asia” held at ESSEC school in Paris on November 5 with the participation of nearly 100 delegates, including leaders of French banks, and business groups.

Ambassador to France Duong Chi Dung gave a presentation on Vietnam’s land and people, economic potential, development strategy, and incentives for foreign investors.

Dung emphasised the need for closer cooperation between Vietnam and its key partners, including France and some other European countries.

Ambassador to France Duong Chi Dung said Vietnam is the gateway to other Asian markets

Vietnam is an important gateway for French investors to penetrate other Asian markets and to enjoy incentives given under the terms of regional free trade agreements Vietnam has signed, Dung said.

He added that the seminar provided a good chance for the Vietnamese embassy and representative offices to introduce the country’s new achievement, especially its economic potential to international friends.

On the occasion, the Vietnam Cultural Centre in France showcased many photos of Vietnamese landscape and people.

Philippe Pasdelou, President of the ESSEC Alumni International, spoke highly of new trade and investment opportunities in Vietnam. Some ESSEC alumni are doing business in Vietnam and many Vietnamese students are studying at the school.

Participants in the seminar discussed issues related to Vietnam’s business and investment environment.

HCM City hosts hi-tech Agro 2013

The first international hi-tech agriculture and food processing fair will be held at Le Van Tam Park in HCM City from December 11-15.

This is the second time the HCM City Investment and Trade Promotion Centre (ITPC) will host such a fair to create favourable conditions for the city and neighbouring provinces to grasp scientific-technical advances in the field of hi-tech agriculture.

During the fair domestic and foreign businesses will exchange information and share experience in improving the quality of products, promoting sales and marketing, building trademarks, and attracting investment in agricultural production and food industry.

 Businesses suggest tax, customs overhaul

Over 500 southern firms on November 5 recommended solutions for removing red tape in administrative procedures, taxation and customs.

A majority of them shared the view that tax refunds remain slow while guiding documents still contain misleading details.

They also dug into how property developers pay for land use and corporate income tax is cut at appropriate rates.

Chairman of the HCM City Real Estate Association Le Hoang Chau called on the Ministry of Finance (MoF) to make the US$1.4 billion support package available to more home buyers as scheduled because numerous property developers are on the brink of bankruptcy.

Chau said the property market is closely linked to other economic sectors and its recovery will be helpful for them.

Referring to customs, representatives from over 1,000 enterprises in industry lauded the launch of e-customs that have helped facilitate exports-imports. However, they noted that it is necessary to upgrade the system so that more data will be processed.

Tax and customs officials cleared up a number of queries and vowed to consider feasible suggestions for supplements to taxation policies in the future.

Vietnam, Burkina Faso strengthen trade ties

Vietnam and Burkina Faso have signed a memorandum of understanding on trade and industry cooperation in an effort to boost bilateral trade ties.

Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Le Duong Quang and Burkina Faso Deputy Ministry of Industry and Commerce Bernard Gnessa Zougouri signed the MoU in Hanoi on November 4.

During their talks, both sides discussed strengthening trade relations by finalising regulatory frameworks, signing cooperative economic, trade, and industry agreements, creating the conditions necessary for their businesses to prosper, and expanding visit exchanges in the interests of advancing mutual understanding.

Authorities of both countries should keep each other up to date regarding business and investment opportunities, international exhibitions and fairs, and reputable import-export companies. The Mekong River Sub-Region’s Francophone framework can be used to foster trade exchanges with West and Central Africa and expand cooperation in investment and telecommunication services.

A Vietnam-Burkina Faso business forum, to be held in Ho Chi Minh City on November 6, is expected to attract more than 100 businesses from the two countries.

Vietnam and Burkina Faso established diplomatic ties on November 16, 1973. Two-way trade turnover remains modest. Of the US$21.1 million record high in 2010, Vietnamese exports contributed US$6.3 million (mainly garments) and Burkina Faso’s accounted for US$14.9 million (mainly cotton).

Bilateral trade reached US$13.5 million in the first half of 2013, with Vietnamese exports valued at US$4 million.

Geographical distance restricts trade turnover to its current modest levels, a challenge exacerbated by a lack of market information and insufficient cooperative agreements.  

The new MoU creates important legal foundations for the two countries to strengthen cooperation in trade and industry in the future.

FDI up 65.5% in 10 months

Vietnam attracted US$19.234 billion in foreign direct investment between January-October 2013, a year-on-year increase of 65%.

The Ministry of Planning and Investment’s Foreign Investment Agency (FIA) reported the country granted licenses to 1,050 new projects worth US$13.077 billion in October alone, a 79% improvement from a year earlier.

Additional capitalisation licenses worth US$6.158 billion were approved for 393 existing projects, up 42.5%.

FDI projects disbursed US$9.58 billion in 10 months, up 6.4%, according to the FIA.

The FDI sector’s exports (including crude oil) were estimated at US$72.085 billion during the reviewed period, up 22% and accounting for 66.7% of total export value.

Foreign businesses have invested in 18 fields, with processing and manufacturing industries taking the lead, pouring US$14.923 billion into 494 new projects. Investment in electricity, gas, and water supply and air conditioner manufacturing stood at US$2.031 billion, followed by real estate with US$588.23 million.

Japan leads Vietnam’s 52 country and territory investors, with capitalisation totaling US$4.842 billion. The Republic of Korea’s US$4.019 billion ranks it second, and Singapore’s US$3.985 billion rounds out the top three.

Thai Nguyen province attracted the most FDI capital (US$3.408 billion), followed by Thanh Hoa (US$2.921 billion) and Binh Thuan (US$2.03 billion).

Hanoi to host 28th Asian Advertising Congress

Hanoi will host the Asian Advertising Congress (AdAsia 2013) for the first time on November 11–14 themed “Communications and Advertising Restructuring”.

AdAsia 2013 is expected to draw more than 1,000 experts and industry leaders representing a variety of regional and international advertising enterprises.

Addressing a November 5 press conference, Vietnam Advertising Association President Dinh Quang Ngu said the event provides a good opportunity for Vietnamese advertising agencies to learn from the world's most successful speakers and promote trade, investment, and tourism in Vietnam.

It will also reinforce Vietnam’s mantra of peace, friendliness, cooperation, and development.

The Congress’ opening ceremony will take the form of the “Faith in Asia” art show to be held at the National Convention Center on November 11. Another performance, the “Tones of Five Continents”, will grace AdAsia’s closing ceremony at Bao Son Paradise Hotel on November 14.

AdAsia 2013 also includes seminars on "Re-Engineering Advertising”, an online Photo Beauty Contest, a special “Asian Wings” Hot Air Balloon Show,  an international exhibition on advertising technology and equipment, and an exhibition on Vietnam.

Rice exports earnings hit nearly US$2.5 billion

Vietnam exported over 5.7 million tonnes of rice worth nearly US$2.5 billion in the past ten months of this year, according to the Vietnam Food Association (VFA).

The volume included more than 537,000 tonnes shipped in October, about 10,500 tonnes higher than total shipments in the previous month.

However, the price of exported rice dropped by around US$2 per tonne to US$435.37 per tonne.

Africa is emerging as a market with great potential for Vietnamese rice exports, according to the VFA.

In the first nine months of the year, African countries imported over 4.79 million tonnes worth US$2.05 billion from Vietnam, making the continent the largest importer of Vietnamese rice during the period.

It is followed by Asia, the Middle East, US and EU.

Vietnam has lowered bar for its rice export for 2013 to between 7-7.2 million tonnes from the targeted 7.5 million tonnes and is striving to open new markets.

As domestic businesses currently meet difficulties in exporting to traditional markets, promoting exports to new markets such as Africa and Mexico is considered an important solution.

11 export items surpass US$2 billion

Telephones and components earned as much as US$17.7 billion, topping the list of twenty key items exceeding US$1 billion in export turnover by October.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) said that in the past ten months, the country’s exports reached US$107.97 billion, up 15.2% against the same period last year. Of the figure, foreign-invested sector’s exports (excluding crude oil) were estimated at more than US$66.14 billion, (up 27.2%).   

By far, 11 groups of commodities have boosted US$2 billion in export value. In the industrial processing sector, the largest export earners include telephones and components (US$17.7 billion), garments and textiles (US$14.8 billion), electronics, computers and components (US$8.7 billion), footwear (US$6.7 billion), wood and wooden products (US$4.4 billion), bags, wallets, suitcases, caps and umbrellas (US$1.5 billion).

In addition, seafood exports earned US$5.4 billion, means of transport and components (US$4.2 billion) and vegetable and fruits (US$0.8 billion).

Petrol prices primed for stability

Domestic fuel retail prices would remain unchanged despite decreasing global prices, said Vo Van Quyen, head of the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT)'s Domestic Market Department.

Speaking at a press conference in Ha Noi on Monday, Quyen said the drop in global prices was not enough for local fuel traders to reduce retail prices.

He said the ministry would always lower prices if there was the opportunity to do so, and try to keep rates steady if the global price rose.

He added that the ministry would ensure local prices followed the global market while curbing inflation.

He said the amended Decree No 84/2009/ND-CP on petrol trading was drafted to make the market more transparent while controlling and enhancing competitiveness.

The Finance Ministry said that 70 per cent of petrol in the local market was imported, so retail prices depended heavily on global fluctuations.

It also said that the management of petrol prices was based on a market mechanism controlled by the Government that stabilised prices when needed using the price stabilisation fund and taxes.

Last month, crude oil productivity was estimated at 1.38 million tonnes, a decrease of 4.3 per cent from last October.

Gas productivity also fell 4.7 per cent to 0.65 billion cu.m due to falling demand.

Phu Quoc hooks up to national power grid

The power supply from the national grid is expected to pave the way for socio-economic development on Phu Quoc Island when an underwater 110kV cable connecting the district island with Ha Tien Town is installed later this month.

According to the Southern Power Company under the Electricity of Viet Nam Corporation (EVN), construction of the 55.813 km Phu Quoc - Ha Tien Cable is scheduled to start on November 21 of this year and be completed on January 13. It will cost nearly VND2 trillion (nearly US$95 million).

Household customers as well as tourism businesses on Phu Quoc Island are facing power shortages.

In areas powered by Kien Giang Electricity Co., household customers pay over VND5,000 ($0.2) while businesses pay nearly VND8,000 ($0.4) per kWh, compared with VND1,500 ($0.1) per kWh on the mainland.

Tran Ngoc Nga, deputy director of Thien Hai Son Hotel in Duong Dong Town, said a 100-guestroom hotel must pay VND450 million ($21,000) per month, three times as high compared with the electricity bills of a hotel of the same scale on the mainland.

Le Minh Hoang, director of Kien Giang Department for Culture, Sports and Tourism, said that poor infrastructure development, especially shortages of electric power supply, has been one of the major hindrances facing development on Phu Quoc.

Hoang said of the 13 tourism projects on the island, only Ba Keo Resort in Duong Dong Town was supplied with electricity from Kien Giang Electricity Power Company.

"This is a major problem that hinders efforts to attract investment to Phu Quoc," Hoang was quoted by Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper as saying.

The operation of Phu Quoc International Airport has helped increase the number of tourist arrivals in Phu Quoc to rise by over 30 per cent, leading to an overload at existing hotels and guesthouses," according to Huynh Quang Hung, deputy chairman of Phu Quoc District People's Committee.

Investors of a number of tourism projects licensed in the past few years resumed construction after hearing about the new national grid connection.

To prepare for the cable link, a VND76.7 billion ($3.6 million), 18.2 km transmission line linking Kien Luong and Ha Tien have been built.

Two transformers worth VND156.2 billion ($7.4 million) in Ha Tien and Phu Quoc and a 7.6km 110kV tranmission line linking Ham Ninh and Phu Quoc, worth VND101.8 billion ($4.8 million), were also built.

The number of hotel and guest rooms on the island could double in two years after Phu Quoc is linked with the national grid, Hung said.

He said thousands of electricity poles had been installed on the island, awaiting the power supply from the national grid to reach households in rural areas.

A project to build a VND296 billion (US$12 million) water plant on Phu Quoc Island has been approved by the provincial authority of Kien Giang in the Mekong Delta.

The plant, which is scheduled to become operational in 2016, can supply 16,500 cu. m. of clean water per day.

According to Nguyen Duc Hien, director of the State-owned Kien Giang Water Supply - Drainage Co. Ltd., facilities of the plant include a 16,500 cu.m/day water treatment plant and and 50km of pipelines.

Hien said 74 per cent of funding for construction of the plant will come from a World Bank's loan and 26 per cent from counter-capital of Kien Giang Water Supply - Drainage Co. Ltd..

All necessary formalities for the loans have been completed and construction of the water plant is scheduled to start in 2014, Hien said.

According to figures released by the investor, Phu Quoc has a total of 950 million cubic metres of rainfall per year and the planned reservoirs can help supply water for local residents' daily activities, production and tourism industry on the island.

Hien said the existing water supply plant on Phu Quoc can supply 5,000 cu.m/day of water to 110,000 local residents and visitors on the island.

Such a small water plant cannot meet the demand for water in the future as Phu Quoc has been developing very rapidly and will soon become a Category 2 city and a special administrative and economic zone affiliated with the Central Government, Hien was quoted as saying by the Vietnam Investment Review.

HNX-Index to be phased out in exchange revamp

The HNX-Index will be replaced by a new benchmark index, the HNXFF-Index, in a year's time, the Ha Noi Stock Exchange has announced recently.

The new index will be put into operation in December. After another year, the HNX-Index will no longer exist.

The HNXFF-Index's debut value will be the HNX-Index's December 2 value.

The establishment of the HNXFF-Index marks the first time a benchmark index is formed by the free-float methodology, which means taking the equity's price and multiplying it by the number of shares readily available in the market. Instead of using all of the outstanding shares like the full-market capitalisation method, this method excludes locked-in shares such as those held by promoters, company officers, controlling-interest investors and the Government. Therefore, stocks eligible for the HNXFF-Index must have a minimum free float rate of 5 per cent.

In addition, the exchange will also launch a set of indices based on the scale of shares, including the HNX Large Cap Index and HNX Mid/Small Cap Index.

Specifically, the HNX Large Cap Index will be comprised of 50 stocks with the highest average market capitalisation value within six months prior to the calculation and charter capital of at least VND120 billion (US$5.6 million) by the time of the calculation.

The HNX Mid/Small Cap Index will consist of stocks listed for at least six months with a free float rate of at least 5 per cent, which are not suspended for three months before the time of calculation.

The revision of these indices will be conducted periodically in April and October.

Another set of indices is the industry index, including the HNX Manufacturing Index, HNX Construction Index and HNX Financials Index. In order to limit the impact of large stocks on each index, the exchanges applies the maximum capitalisation proportion of 20 per cent for each stock.

HSBC: Vietnamese economy showing signs of recovery

There have been a number of positive signs for the Vietnamese economy, which indicate recovery but at a slow rate, according to a marco-economic report from the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Cooperation (HSBC).

Vietnam’s Purchasing Managers Index in October was at 51.5 points, indicating an improvement in the domestic business climate. Output, new orders and the labour force have also all been strong.

Meanwhile, GDP per capita income remains low, at around USD1,700, but Vietnam has a good chance to raise it's income level, the bank said.

HSBC warned that it is essential to raise the skills of the workforce in Vietnam, particularly in rural areas.

The bank also considered a move towards more foreign direct investment (FDI), especially in the manufacturing sectors, a positive sign.

So far this year, Vietnam has pulled in total registered FDI of USD13.1 billion, up 95.8% on-year. FDI to the manufacturing sector was at USD9.3 billion, up USD136.5% compared to the same period  last year.

Sustainable FDI and lower trade deficits, as well as stable inflation are good foundations for Vietnam to deal with the economic challenges that face the nation. The country’s focus should be on dealing with bad debts, state enterprise reform and infrastructure development, according to HSBC.

However, the bank also warned Vietnam of risks of inflation in the coming months, which may come from rising food prices.

The weak domestic demand has also affected bank operations. Since early this year, credit growth has been very modest, reaching only 6.6% compared to the same period last year.

Bac Ninh to have 24 industrial clusters by 2020

The northern province of Bac Ninh has set a target of building 24 modern industrial clusters (ICs) by 2020.

According to the planning to 2020 with a vision to 2030 approved by the provincial People’s Committee, the locality will restructure 13 industrial clusters, keep 22 others unchanged and establish two new ones.

In the 2020-2030 period, the province will build five more industrial clusters and shift six others into urban and service areas.

In order to realise the goals, Bac Ninh will gradually stop granting new investment licences to projects that cause environmental pollution.

It will give priority to businesses that manufacture end products for consumption, while calling on enterprises in the locality to invest in developing industrial cluster infrastructure in neighbouring provinces to serve the projects.

The planning adjustment will contribute to promoting provincial socio-economic development, making it an industrialised locality in the country by 2015.

PPPs foster sustainable agricultural growth in Vietnam

Public-private partnerships (PPP) may be a good solution to attract private domestic and foreign investment in agriculture in Vietnam, an official has said.  

Vietnam has set up a public-private task force on sustainable agricultural growth which has shown considerable results over the past three years.

A meeting was held in Hanoi on November 4 to review the implementation of five commodity working groups after a three-year implementation period. The meeting drew the participation of officials from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), international organisations and officials from 15 trans-national groups such as Nestle, Unilever, Pepsico and Metro Cash & Carry.

“This is a really good chance for Vietnamese agriculture and the sector should fully utilised it to intensify cooperation with foreign partners and bring high quality Vietnamese products to the world market,” said Dr. Dang Kim Son, Director of the Institute of Policy and Strategy for Agriculture and Rural Development (IPSARD).

To date, Metro Cash & Carry has built up a fish supply chain in Vietnam. Fish from the Mekong Delta represents 60% of volume of METRO fish assortment.

It has set up the Can Tho fish platform, which serves 19 METRO Cash & Carry Vietnam stores nationwide. It has also trained and certified over 400 farmers and collectors and ensured a basic income for farmers of VND9 million (USD425.83) per month at the peak time.

As Vietnam has a surplus of rice but is still an importer of corn and soybeans, the commodities working group has been lobbying MARD to realise a plan to convert 100,000 hectares of low yield rice fields in the northern mountainous provinces to corn and soybean crops.

In 2013 about 1,000 ha of low output rice land has been covered to corn, specifically in Lao Cai and Yen Bai provinces, providing farmers with incomes five to six time higher than they previously earned.

In the Mekong Delta, the task force has successfully converted 2,200 hectares of rice to corn, and farmers earned VND9 million (USD425.83) per hectare, much higher than what they earned growing rice, just VND2 million (USD94.63) per hectare.

Meanwhile, the tea task force aims to help increase annual tea procurement in Vietnam by Unilever to 30,000 - 35,000 tonnes of Rainforest Alliance (RA) certified tea.

The first phase of the project, from 2011 to 2012, has already helped quadrupled import quantities from Vietnam to 12,000 and improved their quality. They target to export between 30,000 and 35,000 tonnes of fully RA certified tea by 2015.

In order to increase the efficiency of the coffee supply chain, a coffee coordination board was set up on July 31, 2013 with the membership of MARD, Ministry of Industry and Trade, coffee firms, local authorities and coffee growers. The board has helped map out development policies for the sector and desires to create trade promotion programmes.

The Global Sustainable AgroForestry Fund has been working closely with MARD to ensure realisation of the ambitious goals of the 2011-2015 Green Growth Strategy, which aims at transforming Vietnam’s agricultural sector to be able to create a 20% reduction in emissions, 20% reduction in poverty and 20% increase in growth.

“PPPs have the potential to give the development of professional supply chains a boost and ensure sustainable development of all stakeholders,” Son added.

Foreign companies hunt for workers in Bac Ninh

Leading recruitment company VietnamWorks has reported online recruitment in big cities is surging, with a 46% increase in Bac Ninh province alone.

VietnamWorks CEO Jonah Levey said Bac Ninh’s high-tech industry is driving the recruitment demand, highlighting Nokia’s recent investment expansion.

Bac Ninh’s support industry is also prospering and Japanese conglomerates including Canon, Nittan, and Kyocera are seeking workers to fill training programme vacancies.

According to VietnamWorks, finding work is easier in Hanoi and Danang than in HCM City. Recruitment in Binh Duong and Ba Ria-Vung Tau provinces has also witnessed impressive growth.

Customer service positions are the most frequently advertised (up 38%), followed by sales and information technology (33%), and software (19%).

Labour demand in the tourism, personnel, and non-profit sectors slumped during the third quarter, falling 25%, 14% and 11% respectively.

Inventories to drop in remaining months of 2013

The volume of inventories is expected to sharply decrease in the last months of this year, especially garments and textiles and footwear, heard an online meeting held by the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MIT).

Addressing the November 4 meeting in Hanoi , Nguyen Tien Vy, head of the Planning Department under the MIT, attributed the outlook to domestic exporters’ move to fulfil their orders.

The ministry’s statistics show that by October 1, shuttle-knitted fabric, cement, cement products and electronic components experienced a drastic drop in inventory indexes with 44.2 percent, 43.1 percent, 14 percent and 74.9 percent respectively.

Meanwhile, the inventory index of processing and manufacturing industries increased 9.7 percent over the same period last year.

According to the ministry, the index of industrial production (IIP) in October went up about 5.9 percent against the corresponding time last year, with processing and manufacturing sectors, 8.2 percent and power production and distribution, 9 percent.

Aquatic product processing and preservation, beer, fibre, ready-to-wear and cement sectors saw their indexes of industrial production up 16.5 percent, 15.1 percent, 39.2 percent, 37 percent and 13.3 percent.

However, the mining sector’s IIP fell by 2.8 percent last month, the ministry said.

During the January-October period, the IIP rose by around 5.4 percent over the same period last year, with processing and manufacturing sectors up 6.9 percent and power production and distribution up 8.6 percent.

Tien Giang ships 160,000 tonnes of rice abroad

The Mekong Delta province of Tien Giang has so far this year exported nearly 160,000 tonnes of rice at an average price of 429.47 USD a tonne, fetching about 67.9 million USD.

According to the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, during the winter-spring and summer-autumn crops, local enterprises bought 184,000 tonnes of rice for stockpile under a government programme to purchase farmers’ rice.

The timely purchase has helped raise rice prices in the locality, said the department.

In 2013, local rice exporters have faced numerous difficulties such as shrinking markets and unstable export prices. The province’s rice export volume in the first ten months was equivalent to only 71.4 percent while export value fell 29.6 percent in comparison to the same period last year.

With the cultivation area of over 236,000 hectares per year, rice growers in Tien Giang province annually yield more than 1.3 million tonnes of rice for consumption and export.

To promote this important economic potential and remove difficulties for farmers, next year, the province will focus on intensive farming, reducing production costs and ensuring the quality of rice.

It will link enterprises in implementing the large-scale paddy field model and adopt VietGAP and GlobalGAP standards widely.

Vietnam exported over 5.7 million tonnes of rice for nearly 2.5 billion USD in the first ten months of this year, according to the Vietnam Food Association (VFA).

Can Tho supports farmers’ production

The Mekong Delta city of Can Tho has provided preferential loans worth 65 billion VND (3.1 million USD) for 186 farmer households to buy machines serving their production.

Since 2009, the city has supplied soft loans and non-refundable aid worth 197 billion VND (9.4 million USD) to 1,000 households. With this fund, the farmers have expanded the area of large-scale fields to over 7,500 hectares, upgraded 1,100 hectares of gardens and carried out agricultural production models.

It has also held hundreds of training courses on cultivation techniques meeting VietGap and GlobalGap standards.

Thanks to those efforts, the quality of agricultural products has been much improved, thus increasing farmers’ incomes.

The city’s per capita income has rose from 16.3 million VND per year in 2010 to 24.2 million VND per year in 2013. The rate of poor households has dropped to 5 percent.

In the coming time, Can Tho will provide financial support for 2,400 farmer households and transferred scientific and technological achievements to 3,000 others, striving to have 50,000 households with annual earnings of 40 million VND or more by 2015.-

Binh Dinh invests 13 mln USD in increasing sugar production

The Binh Dinh Sugar Joint Stock Company (BISUCO) has poured 13 million USD into expanding its production capacity and developing sugarcane material sustainably in the central province of Binh Dinh.

According to BISUCO General Director Pham Ngoc Lien, the company has spent 12 million USD installing a new production line with a daily capacity of 2,500 tonnes, raising the plant’s total capacity to 5,000 tonnes per day.

As planned, the line will be officially operational by 2014.

BISUCO has also invested almost 1 million USD in buying ploughing machines for farmers in material areas.

Additionally, the company has carried out research to grow new sugarcane varieties, while working closely with the provincial authorities and those of Vinh Thanh, Van Canh, Tay Son districts and An Nhon town to develop four large-scale fields with a total area of nearly 200 ha in the 2013-2014 winter-spring crop in order to ensure material supply to its plant.

In the 2012-2013 winter-spring crop, BISUCO built three large-scale fields on a total area of 117 ha, achieving an average output of 75-80 tonnes per ha, 20-25 tonnes/ha more than those of normal fields.

Binh Duong’s FDI attraction surpasses 2013 target

The southern province of Binh Duong attracted 42.4 million USD in foreign direct investment (FDI) in October, bringing the ten-month figure to 1.198 billion USD, surpassing its yearly target of 1 billion USD.

Of the total amount, 713.7 million USD came from 116 new projects while the remainder was added to 115 existing projects.

To intensify FDI attraction, the province has streamlined administrative procedures, created an optimum business environment, and offered well-prepared infrastructure.

Provincial officials have supported this work through meetings with diplomatic agencies and business associations from Japan , the Republic of Korea and Taiwan . A number of dialogues have also been held by managerial units to remove obstacles for enterprises.

In the coming time, Binh Duong will focus on attracting investment in hi-tech industries and high added value products like electricity, electronics and medicine.

Priority will also be given to industries that support garments and textiles, footwear, mechanics and woodwork; healthcare, education, finance and banking services; as well as socio-economic infrastructure projects.

The province will attract more investment from enterprises with high financial strength and large market share.

Shrimp exports swim beyond $2.4b mark after strong show

Shrimp exports increased rapidly in the first 10 months of this year, significantly contributing to the growth of the nation's total seafood exports, the Viet Nam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP) said.

Shrimp export value surged 30 per cent year-on-year in the period to US$2.4 billion, including $1.18 billion from white-leg shrimp exports, thanks to high export prices and a reduction in global supply.

The association said the global market expected total shrimp output to decrease 15 per cent against the past two years due to disease outbreaks in Mexico and Asia – particularly hitting major shrimp producers China and Thailand.

The situation created a great opportunity for rival shrimp producers, including India, Ecuador and Viet Nam, while pushing shrimp export prices up by between $2-4 per kilo on the world market.

VASEP said shrimp exports were expected to increase across Viet Nam's major markets, including the US, EU, Japan and China, by the end of this year.

The fisheries industry estimated total export value of Vietnamese shrimp for 2013 to achieve a year-on-year increase of 27 per cent to reach $2.8 billion – higher than its initial target of $2.4-2.5 billion.

Meanwhile, other fisheries products saw a slide in export values over the first 10 months, according to the association.

Tra fish exports saw a year-on-year drop of 2 per cent to $1.45 billion.

In the first nine months, export values decreased 17.2 per cent for cuttle fish and octopus, 12.3 per cent for crab, 4.5 per cent for tuna, and 5.7 per cent for other kinds of seafood against the same period last year.

VASEP said with the strong growth of shrimp exports, total seafood export revenues for 2013 were expected to show a year-on-year increase of 5 per cent to $6.5 billion.

Mekong seafood show lures over 60,000 visitors

More than 60,000 people flocked to the Mekong Seafood Trade Fair 2013 in Ca Mau, the largest event of its kind.

Nearly 200 businesses from all over the country showcased products from processed seafood to machines serving agricultural production and aquatic farming models that apply advanced technology.

Many businesses offered discounts of 10-30 per cent. Some booths at the fair, which closed yesterday, ran out of goods

Dong Nai drives strong 2013 FDI growth

The southern province of Dong Nai climbed to number four on the list of provinces attracting the highest volume of foreign direct investment (FDI), with US$19.64 billion flowing into the province by October 20, according to the Foreign Investment Agency.

The province exceeded its yearly FDI attraction target in the first 10 months of 2013 with a total investment capital of more than $1 billion and 1,056 projects, the agency added.

Investors from as many as 36 countries and territories have invested in Dong Nai, with the lions share coming from Taiwan, the Republic of Korea and Japan. Investors from the ASEAN community, Europe and America were also ploughing investment into the province.

Japan, the province's third highest investor, poured a massive $3 billion into local projects in the hi-tech and support industries.

The results follow intensive efforts by Dong Nai to promote investment, including preferential policies to lure foreign investors, said provincial Planning and Investment Department director Bo Ngoc Thu.

The province has indicated a clear priority to develop hi-tech and support industries in the region, targeting value adding projects that are environmentally-friendly and energy efficient, she added.

Dong Nai has also created a healthy and transparent business environment, with administrative reforms and direct support to foreign investors.

The province is also looking to address concerns of environmental sustainability, with a particular emphasis protecting the Dong Nai River from high-polluting projects.

Backing up these claims, Dong Nai withdrew investment licences from 354 FDI projects ($4.4 billion) with inadequate waste water treatment facilities.

Viet Nam brought in $19.2 billion in FDI in the first 10 months of this year, a whopping 65.5 per cent more than last year's figure, according to the General Statistics Office.

As many as 52 countries and territories have launched new investment projects in Viet Nam since the beginning of this year.




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