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Restrictions on export of medical masks proposed




The Ministry of Finance has proposed removing licenses for medical mask exports from May 16.

Under the government’s instruction issued in February, the Ministry of Health controlled the export of medical masks. Medical masks are only permitted for export for the purpose of international aid and assistance.

Additionally, no more than 25% of the country’s output of medical masks can be exported, while the remaining 75% must be ensured for the national Covid-19 prevention.

However, the regulation is not applied for businesses which specialise in the production of export goods that were already granted investment certificates, and companies manufacturing medical masks for foreign trade that had signed processing contracts before March 1, 2020.

According to the Ministry of Finance, Vietnamese mask producing capacity has been raised to around 13 million per day, including seven million medical masks and the remainder being antibacterial cloth masks. So, the licensing needs to be maintained until May 15 to ensure domestic demand, including the reserve.

Under the Ministry of Finance’s recommendation, from May 16, the licensing regulation should be removed.

To date, the Ministry of Health has signed contracts to buy 46.15 million medical masks and 268,000 N95 masks along with hundreds of thousands of safety clothes for the Covid-19 battle.

Vietnam has seen no new Covid-19 case over the past week. Among 268 patients, up to 224 have been discharged from hospital. The country has relaxed some social distancing measures.

Hyundai wins bid to build mall in Cambodia

Hyundai Engineering of the Republic of Korea recently announced it has won a 164-million-USD bid to build the AEON Mall 3 project development in Phnom Penh.

Officials of the Korean company said that it secured the project from AEON Mall, one of Japan’s largest distribution groups, which operates more than 200 shopping centres around the world.

The site is 170,000 sq.m, the largest of the three AEON malls in Cambodia, all of which are in Phnom Penh. The mall is expected to open in 2023.

In an interview with Khmer Times newspaper, President of the Cambodian Valuers and Estate Agents Association (CVEA) Chrek Soknim said that the news will help to give impetus to building more projects in the area.

Chrek, who is also the CEO of Century 21 Mekong realty firm, said that with the city’s urbanisation, more investment projects are expanding to the outskirts, creating great potential for the future.

To expand the city, more infrastructure investment, including roads, commercial buildings and shopping centres are needed, he added.

According to Chrek, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the price of real estate has not changed much and transactions stalled. He said that after it is over, property prices will see an increase of 15 to 20 percent.

AEON Mall plans to continue to expand its large shopping mall business in Southeast Asian countries, according to its financial results for the fiscal year that ended in February.

The report shows that AEON Mall recorded operating revenue in ASEAN to the tune of about 123 million USD, an increase of 18.1 percent year-on-year while operating income amounted to 25 million USD, up 168.7 percent compared with the previous consolidated fiscal year./.

Vietnam Airlines upgrades "Flight Pass"Vietnam Airlines has teamed up with Optiontown - the world's only provider of innovative travel options - to upgrade its Flight Pass in order to better facilitate passengers.

Optiontown’s Flight Pass is used by more than 40 airlines and millions of European and American passengers, especially frequent flyers on certain routes.

With only one purchase, customers can choose between four to 1,000 flights operated by Vietnam Airlines, to one or multiple destinations, valid up to 12 months. Once purchased, passengers can decide when they want to travel at a later date.

Introduced in July 2019 by Vietnam Airlines, this is the first Flight Pass option product in Vietnam, which has been upgraded to offer greater flexibility compared to existing products in the market.

It allows up to 400 individual customer names to be added to the same Flight Pass and make bookings just six hours before departure.

The whole package includes the entire ticket price, taxes, fees and surcharges so that passengers do not need to pay anything extra.

According to the national flag carrier, the more flights a customer buys, the bigger their savings of up to 50 percent.

Vietnam Airlines is offering Flight Pass on most of its routes (except for flights to/from Japan) and on all classes, including Economy, Premium Economy and Business.

The product’s price is determined by the number of routes, flights and passengers using Flight Pass, departure times, reservation times, and service classes./.

Quang Ninh seeks to remove difficulties facing firms amid pandemic

A series of different scenarios and measures to support businesses and people in the northern coastal province of Quang Ninh in the case of a prolonged COVID-19 pandemic were proposed at meeting in the locality on April 21.

According to the provincial Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, about 530 enterprises with over 15,000 workers in the locality have been affected by COVID-19. The disease also caused negative impacts on about 41,000 freelance workers there.

Local departments and sectors reported that local enterprises have encountered difficulties related to materials for production, wages for employees; and suspension or reduction of operational scale, especially those operating in the transport, tourism and service sectors.

At the meeting, business representatives asked the provincial People's Committee to help enterprises access credit packages with preferential interest rates.

They also called for extensions of tax and land rent payment deadlines, restructuring of debts and reduced interest rates for those affected by the disease.

Other measures such as accelerating the implementation of social housing projects to retain and attract workers and tourism promotion programmes were discussed.

Vice Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Bui Van Khang affirmed that the local authorities are ready to listen to opinions from businesses, thus helping them find proper solutions to these problems.

Attention has been given to removing difficulties facing businesses in each group of sectors, he said, adding that for workers who had lost their jobs due to the disease, the provincial Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs has been working to ensure the full implementation of support policies for them./.

Over 450 million USD poured into Ba Ria-Vung Tau’s IZs in Q1

Industrial zones (IZs) in the southern province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau attracted a total investment capital of more than 450 million USD in the first quarter of this year.

Of the sum, 360.7 million USD came from seven newly-licensed projects while the remainder of 97.8 million USD from eight capital-added ones.

The industrial zones-based enterprises, especially those in textile and garment, footwear and bags have encountered many difficulties as raw materials and accessories for production have been interrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic in major supplying countries such as China and the Republic of Korea.

About 52 percent of enterprises said they have been ensuring production with their stockpiled raw materials since the beginning of this year, but these enterprises will not have enough raw materials to fulfil export contracts in the following months, according to local authorities.

Notably, 6.8 percent of enterprises said they completely lack raw materials and will face risks of stopping production next month.

In order to overcome the current difficulties, the firms called for the Government's supporting policies including interest rate reductions, debt freezes and lending limit extensions, as well as loan restructuring.

Ba Ria-Vung Tau is now home to 15 IZs, covering a total area of more than 8,800ha. Of the total, nearly 2,680ha or 71 percent are occupied, according to the provincial IZs Authority./.

ASEAN moves ahead with digital push

The digital transformation is narrowing the gap between people amid social distancing measures, helping citizens and companies solve urgent issues amid the pandemic.

PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc chaired the ASEAN Special High-level Video Conference on Responding to COVID-19
The current global health crisis is preventing people from travelling anywhere and meeting others. However, fortunately it cannot prevent them from discussing ideas and even making deals via online meetings. On April 14, for the first time, the online Special ASEAN Summit on COVID-19 and the online Special ASEAN+3 Summit on COVID-19 were held, with the participation of all leaders of the member countries.

“During the ASEAN’s development, there has never been such high-level online meetings, even in 2003, when the region faced the SARS pandemic. This makes the meetings meaningful,” said Vu Ho, director of the ASEAN Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

According to Ho, although each country has its own technological background, regulations on cybersecurity, and different time zones, both meetings were greatly successful. “This is an immense advance of Vietnam’s technology. All infrastructure and applications used for the video meeting are made in Vietnam by Viettel. The international IT experts participating in this organisation highly appreciated the quality of the online meetings as well as the technical infrastructure and capacity of the Vietnamese,” Ho added.

For many years, the digital transformation has been discussed among ASEAN countries. In 2018, the area established the ASEAN Smart Cities Network, and last year, under the chairmanship of Thailand, the Fourth Industrial Revolution became one of the priorities of the ASEAN. The success of online meetings has been a great test for the policies and decisions of the bloc so far on both communication technology and digital life.

“It is also an impetus for the ASEAN to completely advance into a digital world,” Ho said.

One day after the ASEAN meetings, an important agreement between Vietnam’s Ministry of Planning and Investment and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) was signed virtually. Accordingly, the USAID will provide a $42 million budget to advance Vietnam’s economic competitiveness through strengthening the private sector, innovation, the startup ecosystem, and human capital. The agreement will also foster greater entrepreneurship, enable deeper links between Vietnamese startups and global corporations, and lure in investment capital, as well as strengthen high-quality human capital needed for a robust knowledge-based economy.

Meanwhile, FPT Group, one of Vietnam’s leading tech companies, also impressed the business community by holding its annual general shareholder meeting online thanks to applying AI and an online conferencing system.

“This effort of FPT ensures the rights and safety of shareholders, depicting its determination to overcome all challenges during this war-like time,” said Truong Gia Binh, CEO of FPT.

According to Binh, the meeting has passed the business plan for the remainder of this year, in which further investments and project implementations are two of the three major targets. “The pandemic is also a driver for the digital revolution. The application of technological achievements to organise meetings such as the shareholders’ general meeting in the context of the epidemic is a testament to FPT’s efforts to ensure our activities,” he added.

According to him, amid the crisis, FPT is seeking new opportunities and has earned valuable contracts from the global market to further boost local digital transformation. “We have just become a service provider for one of the largest car makers in the United States, and signed many contracts with medical equipment manufacturers in Japan, and co-operations with US and Italian companies enable us to foster the digital transformation of one of Vietnam’s biggest motorbike manufacturers,” Binh said.

International Data Corporation predicts that next year will be the year of a surge in cloud services, considering that the COVID-19 pandemic represents an important impetus for business flexibility. By 2022, more than 90 per cent of businesses around the world will rely on cloud platforms to have a strong, scalable, and cost-effective IT infrastructure. The demand for digital transformation in recent years has grown rapidly and is likely to rise increasingly after the epidemic ends.

Hanoi will support connection in trading goods with localities

The People’s Committee of Hanoi on April 23 issued plans on organising activities to connect production and distribution of goods between Hanoi and other provinces and cities nationwide by year-end.

These activities are aimed at strengthening regional links and supporting consumption of goods and agricultural products to ensure supply for the capital city.

Accordingly, in the last two quarters of this year, Hanoi will organise delegations of municipal officials and businesses to many provinces and cities nationwide to enhance trade promotion activities.

They include Bac Giang, Hung Yen, Lao Cai, Quang Ninh, Son La, Hoa Binh, Nam Dinh, Bac Kan, Yen Bai, Ha Giang, Lang Son, Long An, Ben Tre, Can Tho and An Giang.

Hanoi and those provinces and cities will open conferences and goods trading activities to display products and sign contracts and memoranda of understanding. Those will help Hanoi to have increased supply of goods, meeting the city’s demand.

At the same time, the city will organise delegations of Hanoi’s businesses to join the programme on cooperation and support to connect consumption of agricultural products and goods with economic regions. It expects to implement this programme in Ninh Thuan province or Lam Dong province in the central and central highlands region and Tra Vinh province in the southern region.

In Hanoi, the city will organise weeks for fruits and agricultural products of provinces and cities to support localities facing difficulties in consumption and export. Those weeks will introduce farming produce of other provinces and cities to the capital city’s consumers.

In addition, Hanoi will support provinces and cities nationwide in opening their weeks for fruit and agricultural products in the capital city.

Those activities are expected to support businesses, cooperatives and farmers in Hanoi and other provinces and cities in following supply and demand of the market to have flexible production and business plans and ensure the balance of supply and demand.

At the same time, they will support businesses and cooperatives to promote brands and products in the domestic market and to export goods to foreign markets via distribution systems of foreign firms in Vietnam, such as Central Group, Aeon and Lotte./

Indonesian central bank buys gov’t bonds in primary market

Bank Indonesia (BI) has directly purchased 1.7 trillion Rp (108 million USD) worth of sharia sovereign bonds during an auction held by the government in its first such purchases in the primary market.

BI Governor Perry Warjiyo said the central bank acted on April 21 as a noncompetitive bidder during the auction and only bought “a small portion” of the bonds in order to maintain low inflation levels.

The government pocketed a total of 9.98 trillion Rp of proceeds from the auction to finance the country’s widening budget deficit, he added.

The Indonesian government issued six series of sharia bonds on the same day, aiming to raise 7 trillion Rp to 14 trillion Rp to finance the 2020 state budget.

According to the Indonesian Ministry of Finance, the government will issue nearly 450 trillion Rp worth of so-called pandemic bonds to finance efforts to combat the health crisis and economic turmoil caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

The government is also planning to increase its bond sales target by 160.2 trillion Rp to 549.6 trillion Rp this year to address the country’s budget deficit, which could reach 5.07 percent of gross domestic product (GDP)./.

HCM City prepares to foster economic recovery

Ho Chi Minh City has begun to implement a number of measures to gradually revive business activities post-social distancing necessitated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Nguyen Thanh Phong, Chairman of the city People’s Committee, said some essential activities that involve less risk would resume gradually, with small-scale businesses in low-risk sectors reopening on a trial basis first and then large ones.

The city would then review, evaluate and expand, he said.

Depending on the trajectory of the pandemic, the city would adjust the trial period.

The city has also approved a plan to support businesses affected by the outbreak through this year, with a focus on enabling them to ensure production in a safe environment, cut costs, improve production and trading technologies, and generally revive things.

Many businesses in the city have also taken measures to safeguard their employees’ health and prevent the spread of the disease.

Huynh Van Tuan, Chairman of the trade union of the HCM City Export Processing Zone and Industrial Park Authority (HEPZA), said more than 640 companies carried out an assessment of infection risk based on indicators issued by city authorities, and most rated their risk at less than 50 percent.

HEPZA has set up a committee to verify their assessment and ensure the companies apply safety measures to protect their workers such as insisting on face masks and checking workers for fever at the gate, he said.

They have rescheduled shifts and meal timings to prevent crowding and installed safety screens at dining tables, he said.

Despite facing difficulties due to the pandemic, the city sustained a certain level of production and business in the first quarter. Exports grew by 7.5 percent to over 9.85 billion USD, with the electronics and computer segments driving the growth.

The HCM City Computer Association and its member businesses have launched an e-commerce platform for the information and communications technology sector at

Le Quoc Cuong, Deputy Director of the city Department of Information and Communications, said the platform, still being improved, would at first meet business matching demand from businesses.

Over a longer term it would play an important role in enabling ICT enterprises across the country to enhance connections and boost e-commerce sales, he said.

Businesses do not have to pay a fee to post their product information on the portal./. 

Bac Giang: More lychee to be grown for export to Japan

The northern province of Bac Giang has granted cultivation area codes to many orchards growing lychee for export to Japan this year, according to the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Nineteen cultivation area codes have been issued to date for 103 ha of lychee in the province to be exported to the country, primarily in the communes of Hong Giang, Nam Duong, Tan Son, Quy Son, Giap Son, and Ho Dap in Luc Ngan district and Phuc Hoa commune in Tan Yen district.

The province is actively directing lychee growers in following standardised production processes while encouraging businesses to buy lychee for export to Japan.

Bac Giang has over 28,100 hectares of lychee trees expected to produce some 160,000 tonnes of the fruit. The early lychee harvest is estimated to be 45,000 tonnes on 6,000 hectares, with the remainder grown during the main crop.

The province has recently expanded its VietGAP-standard lychee coverage to 14,300 hectares and its GlobalGAP-standard coverage to 80 hectares.

It also has 200 hectares of lychee with cultivation codes granted for exports to the US.

Given the COVID-19 pandemic, Director of the provincial Department of Industry and Trade Tran Quang Tan said scenarios have been prepared for lychee to be consumed when the pandemic ends or if the situation becomes more complicated.

China remains Bac Giang’s key export market. If exports were to decline due to the pandemic, the province would increase the volume of dried lychee fruit and lychee juice while conducting online promotions.

The province will also continue to promote lychee sold in domestic supermarket networks, wholesale markets, and in the south.

Bac Giang sold over 147,000 tonnes of lychee last year, valued at 4,675 billion VND (197.3 million USD)./.

Plan to develop Binh Phuoc into industrialised province by 2030

Binh Phuoc is set to become an industrialised province by 2030 with GDRP among the top 15 localities in Vietnam.

This is among the targets that a development plan for the southern province must detail a roadmap to achieve.

The plan-making task was recently approved by the Government in Decision 518/QD/TTg.

Accordingly, a plan for 2021-2030 with a vision to 2050 will aim to tap into local potential, advantages, resources and human factors to develop Binh Phuoc in a fast, comprehensive and sustainable manner.

It will also look to turn the province into a modern industrialised locality with comprehensive and sustainable development by 2050.

In its decision, the Government said the plan must ensure close connections between economic development, social progress and justice, gender equality, poverty elimination, and improvement of people’s material and spiritual lives, especially in ethnic minority and mountainous communities.

The plan will also have to ensure the efficient use of land and natural resources, environmental protection and climate change adaptation; pay attention to mass mobilisation work and the consolidation of great national unity; and preserve and bring into play the cultural identities of each local ethnic group.

Binh Phuoc is currently part of the country’s southern key economic region./.

Cambodia approves 50-mln-USD budget to support agriculture sectors

The Cambodian government has decided to disburse 50 million USD through the Rural Development and Agriculture Bank (RDAB) to provide low-interest loans to support sectors of livestock and fisheries, and vegetable farming.

Representatives of the General Department of Animal Health and Production under the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and the RDAB met on April 22 to discuss the credit support package.

CEO of RDAB Kao Thach said loans will be offered to farmers and small companies with an interest rate of 6.5 percent.

Previously, on April 16, Cambodian Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Srey Vuthy said the government has encouraged local importers to buy pork products for stockpiling with a volume of 130 tonnes per day in the next three months as part of the efforts to ensure adequate supply of food and foodstuff to people during the COVID-19 outbreak.

It has also taken a number of measures to ensure food security such as zoning out potential areas for growing vegetables, ensuring supply of water and seeds for farmers, and promoting the application of modern technologies and equipment to expand safe vegetable production.

Annually, Cambodia consumes about 290,000 tonnes of meat, including 82,000 tonnes of beef, 153,000 tonnes of pork, 54,000 tonnes of poultry and 165 tonnes of other meats. The Southeast Asian nation can produce 239,000 tonnes of meat, meeting 82 percent of domestic demand./.

Thua Thien-Hue aims to draw 10 projects in IPs, IZs

Industrial zones (IZs) in the southern province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau attracted a total investment capital of more than 450 million USD in the first quarter of this year.

Of the sum, 360.7 million USD came from seven newly-licensed projects while the remainder of 97.8 million USD from eight capital-added ones.

The industrial zones-based enterprises, especially those in textile and garment, footwear and bags have encountered many difficulties as raw materials and accessories for production have been interrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic in major supplying countries such as China and the Republic of Korea.

About 52 percent of enterprises said they have been ensuring production with their stockpiled raw materials since the beginning of this year, but these enterprises will not have enough raw materials to fulfil export contracts in the following months, according to local authorities.

Notably, 6.8 percent of enterprises said they completely lack raw materials and will face risks of stopping production next month.

In order to overcome the current difficulties, the firms called for the Government's supporting policies including interest rate reductions, debt freezes and lending limit extensions, as well as loan restructuring.

Ba Ria-Vung Tau is now home to 15 IZs, covering a total area of more than 8,800ha. Of the total, nearly 2,680ha or 71 percent are occupied, according to the provincial IZs Authority./.

Vietjet Air to offer low-cost tickets starting from less than half a US dollar

Budget airline Vietjet Air has launched a promotional programme with tickets for domestic flights priced from as little as VND9,000 (39 US cents), excluding tax and additional fees, between the golden hours of 12:00 and 14: 00 from April 23 to April 25.

This huge discount on airfares comes following a decision made by the Ministry of Transport and the Civial Aviation Authority of Vietnam on April 23 that will see Vietjet Air increase the number of return flights to six per day on the Hanoi-Ho Chi Minh City route. In addition, three flights per day will be running on the Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City-Da Nang route, whilst the airline will also be operating daily return flights on a number of other domestic routes.

This promotion is applying to flights departing between April 23 and December 31, with the exception of public holidays. Passengers will be able to check on specific flight schedules through several of the airline’s official channels such as the website, Facebook, the hotline number at 19001886, and ticket offices which can be found nationwide.

In addition, Vietjet Air is also operating approximately 10 cargo flights each day to transport free medical supplies and equipment to support medical centres in their fight against the novel coronavirus. Moreover, health workers will be offered free flights during this period.

To ensure the safety of passengers and crew members, the airline’s flights will have to comply with the highest of safety standards set by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

As a result, passengers and crew members will have to strictly abide by health procedures before they are allowed to board flights, in addition to filling in medical declaration forms and wearing masks for the duration of their flight.

Vietnam launches national tourism campaign to stimulate domestic market

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism has decided to cancel the opening ceremony of the National Tourism Year 2020, scheduled to take place in Hoa Lu district of Ninh Binh province, and instead launch a campaign aimed at stimulating demand among the domestic tourism market.

The moves comes following a request made by the Ninh Binh Province Department of Tourism due to the slump faced by the tourism industry in the context of the complicated developments of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic.
According to the proposal, the National Tourism Year 2020’s opening ceremony will be replaced by a ceremony to launch a national tourism campaign immediately after the nation declares an end to the ongoing COVID-19 epidemic.

The ceremony will target potential customers in both the domestic and international tourism markets, as well as simultaneously providing a venue in which stimulus programmes can be unveiled for the aviation and tourism sectors.

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism has requested that Ninh Binh map out a detailed plan for the ceremony, and collaborate with the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism in carrying out related activities.

Survey: 71% of hospitality firms see Q1 revenue down over 30%

Up to 71% of enterprises in the hospitality industry responding to a recent survey said their revenue in the first quarter of 2020 fell more than 30% against the same period last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The survey was conducted from April 13-17 by the Tourism Advisory Board (TAB) and the Private Economic Development Research Board under the Government’s Advisory Council for Administrative Procedure Reform, in collaboration with Grant Thornton Ltd. and VnExpress, to assess the impact of the pandemic on hospitality companies and to propose suitable supportive policies for the government's consideration.

A total of 394 enterprises responded to the survey, of which 51.4% were tour operators, 15.3% hotels, and 14.2% transport companies. Some 92% of respondents were small and medium-sized enterprises with less than 100 employees, Hoang Nhan Chinh, Director of the TAB’s Secretariat, said on April 21.

Some 77% of respondents said revenue may plunge even further in the second quarter of 2020, perhaps by as much as 80%.

About 65% of hotel respondents said Q1 revenue was less than 30% of the figure in the first quarter of last year. About one-third said Q1 average room rates were equal to just 30 to 50% of rates last year.

Around 18% of respondents have laid off all of their employees while 48% have laid off 50 to 80%. Some 75% have provided different types of financial support to laid-off staff.

Most must still pay rentals, salaries, and interest during the temporary closure ordered by the government to contain the spread of COVID-19. Only 4% indicated they have not incurred any extra costs because of the pandemic.

Some 82.7% of respondents said operations could return to normal at the beginning of Q3 while 41.1% forecast they will not be likely to rebound before 2021.

About 72.6% said they want to receive support from the government or be allowed to defer their tax payments, insurance premiums, and other payables, while over 88% expect government guarantees when applying for loans.

Tourism firms receive criteria for COVID-19 infection risk assessment

The Ho Chi Minh City Department of Tourism has moved to issue a strict set of criteria aimed at thoroughly assessing the safety of tourism companies to prevent and combat the potential spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

The set of recently-issued criteria aims to help travel businesses and lodging establishments manage the risk of COVID-19 transmission whilst simultaneously helping these firms resume business in the near future.
The guide features a list of 10 criteria from 10 risk groups that relate to information about the medical declarations completed by guests, providing training courses for employees regarding prevention measures, supplying hygienic cleaning products at workplaces, wearing face masks, and checking body temperatures in line with regulations outlined by the Ministry of Health.

Travel firms have been urged to carry out preventive measures for employees and guests, such as enforcing a two-metre safe distance while arranging backup isolation areas for guests.

When a business operating in the tourism industry is able to fully meet all of these criteria, then it will be considered safe to operate.

Mekong district tells sugarcane farmers to consider other crops to sustain income

Authorities in Trà Vinh have encouraged farmers in the province’s Trà Cú District to switch to other crops on low-yield sugarcane fields to ensure more reliable incomes.

Farmers in Trà Cú, which is the Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta province’s largest sugarcane growing area, have earned very little incomes or lost money in the last four crops because of low cane prices.

Lý Văn Toàn, who has a 1ha sugarcane field in Lưu Nghiệp Anh Commune, has been among the latter.

“The price of sugarcane has fallen more and more while production costs have increased, especially labour costs,” he said.

Despite suffering losses, he could not switch to other crops because his field is located in an elevated area and lacks water in the dry season.

Trà Cú is a coastal district and is the province’s hardest hit district by the effects of climate change including saltwater intrusion and droughts.

Its People’s Committee has urged sugarcane farmers in areas facing transport and irrigation difficulties to switch to other crops.

In areas where they cannot, it has encouraged sugarcane farmers to invest in machinery and advanced farming techniques to increase yields and reduce costs.

Last year district authorities helped sugarcane farmers switch to corn, sweet potato, vegetables and other crops and shrimp and snakehead fish on more than 1,500ha of land.

They enable farmers to earn VNĐ60 – 80 million (US$2,500 – 3,400) per hectare per year, according to the People’s Committee.

Huỳnh Văn Thảo, head of the district Bureau of Agriculture and Rural Development, said authorities have taught sugarcane farmers techniques to grow new crops.

The district has sought to create links between farmers and agricultural companies to ensure outlets, he said.

In the 2020-21 sugarcane crop, which began in February, farmers in Trà Cú have planted about 737ha so far, according to the district’s Bureau of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The district seeks to plant a total of 1,800ha.

The planting is usually completed in March, but the severe saltwater intrusion this year has delayed it.

Besides, farmers are gradually switching to other crops.

During the 2019 -20 crop, the district had sought to plant 3,500ha but farmers stopped at 2,478ha.

The yield too has fallen in recent years because many farmers are not interested in tending their crop because of the low sugarcane prices.

Farmers in the district have been growing sugarcane for dozens of years since the local soil is ideal for it and prices were steady until 2016-17. 

Huế, Đà Nẵng call for $215 million property investment projects

Đà Nẵng City and Thừa Thiên-Huế Province have approved some key property projects for construction in the third quarter of this year, calling for investment to help recover the real estate market growth that was postponed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Đà Nẵng has planned the Complex of Health-Medicine education school and luxury apartments in Ngũ Hành Sơn District, covering 1.2ha with an investment of VNĐ1.18 trillion (US$51.3 million).

The complex will include a hospital, a medicine school and a hostel for students – the first of its kind in Đà Nẵng. The project has been scheduled for construction in late of 2020 for full operation in 2025.

An area of 1.8ha in the district was reserved for a high-rise apartment project with total investment capital of VNĐ1.98 trillion ($86.4 million). The project would supply more than 1,100 rooms for lease or sale.

In Thừa Thiên-Huế Province, two residential projects have been planned in the new An Vân Dương urban zone in Hương Thủy Township, covering a total area of 19.8ha.

The province has been calling for investment from domestic and foreign investors with an estimated capital of VNĐ1.78 trillion ($77.4 million) for construction in 2020-22.

It said the new An Vân Dương urban zone, 5km south of downtown Huế, was designed as a ‘green’ urban area, offering low storey buildings, township houses, trading centre, parks, wastewater treatment centre and renewable energy.

Hung Yen must seize opportunities for development: PM

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has suggested the northern province of Hung Yen seize opportunities for development during an online working session with local authorities on Friday.

Speaking at the event, PM Phuc hailed Hung Yen for being one of the few localities that have been able to maintain a high growth rate amid the COVID-19 fight. It is also one of the localities chosen to lead development following the period of focusing on pandemic control.

The Government leader underlined the province’s development potential and quality workforce, saying its proximity to Ha Noi will enable the province to develop industry, agriculture and services.

According to the PM, Hung Yen has become one of the top contributors to the State budget even though it has an agriculture-reliant economy.

The province has performed well in attracting foreign direct investment and is home to 11,000 enterprises.

He proposed the province diversify investment, choose large-scale projects to tap its strength in light industry, farm produce processing, high-tech agriculture, transportation, tourism, services, education and high-quality health care.

Commending Hung Yen for bringing the poverty rate down to 1.9 per cent last year, the PM urged the province to reduce the rate to 1 per cent or lower.

In the immediate future, the locality must strive to achieve the dual goal of preventing the pandemic from returning while restoring economic development towards meeting or surpassing targets to contribute to national growth this year.

It was reported at the meeting that despite the COVID-19 outbreak in the first quarter, the province still posted growth of nearly 6.9 per cent and collected more than VND3.5 trillion (US$152 million) for the State budget. 

Discount programmes launched by supermarkets after end of lockdown

Vegetable prices are going up in HCM City as consumption rose rapidly after social distancing was lifted.

Prices of some popular vegetables such as bitter melon, cucumber, carrot, broccoli, choysum, cucumber and squash are increasing due to adverse weather and lower supply because of the Covid-19 situation.

At markets, the price of bitter melon, tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini is VND30,000 to VND35,000 (US$1.3-1.5), up by 10 to 20 percent compared to the previous few days.

The prices of all kinds of cabbage ranged from VND27,000 to VND30,000 ($1.1-1.3) per kg, up 5 to 10 percent compared to the previous days, and is expected to continue to increase.

Le Thanh Nhan, a director of an agricultural production cooperative in HCM City, said that the price of vegetables and fruits would continue to increase in the coming time due to farmers reducing production and to cost increases because of saltwater intrusion in rivers in Mekong Delta provinces such as Dong Thap, Ben Tre and Tien Giang.

In Tien Giang, saltwater intrusion has forced farmers to buy water from other provinces. Fearing that this would push up costs of cultivation of vegetables and cause losses, farmers stopped planting, experts said.

The situation is similar in other provinces such as An Giang and Long An, where vegetable output has fallen by 70 per cent.

Business activities and catering services will gradually recover, but supply is not ready, which will lead to shortages and temporary price increases for a short period, according to Nhan.

In face of the situation, Co.opmart supermarket systems, Co.opXtra hypermarkets, and Co.op Food stores are running promotions to May 5. They will offer 15 to 20 per cent discount for many kinds of vegetables and fruits and create favorable conditions for customers shopping at stores or via phone and Zalo and Viber apps.

Meanwhile, fashion, accessories, household and food shops at Vincom shopping malls in HCM City are offering up to 50 per cent discount programmes to stimulate consumption.

Specifically, a series of big brands such as GAP, Super Dry, CC Double O, Banana Republic, Jelly Bunny, OVS, Cotton: On, Giordano, Canifa, Boo, John Henry, Furla, Geox, LYN, Parfois, Adidas, Lining, Shooz and Vascara are offering many promotions with 30-50 per cent discount. Buy 1-get 1 free is being offered by Robins Department Store. 



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