Large retail formats will dominate the retail property market in HCM City, especially destination and lifestyle malls in township projects, market researchers have predicted.

Looking forward to 2030, CBRE said many street shops in the Central Business District (CBD) will be styled up as appearance will become an important factor to attract shoppers. The Thủ Thiêm new urban area will become a new entertainment and shopping hub for Việt Nam by that time, it said.

CBRE noted that the HCM City retail market is shifting gradually from small-scale shopping malls to destination malls which focus on millennials and provide millennials with experience-based shopping.

These malls require the presence of anchor tenants who are usually large and draw a high level of foot traffic. Anchor tenants in HCM City’s most popular shopping malls have traditionally been confined to cinemas and supermarkets but now fashion stores are a new type of anchor tenant that has taken over 1,000sq.m of Net Leased Area (NLA), such as Zara, H&M and Uniqlo as the latest examples.

“Usually, anchor tenants in the fashion category are well-known international brands and are very sought after by young people, and thus create a constant strong flow of foot traffic even on normal days. For this reason, landlords usually offer an attractive mix of turnover share and base rent for these anchor tenants. The trend will grow in the future as it brings many values to retail projects. Other trends that will continue to grow are green living, health consciousness, food & beverage (F&B), entertainment, lifestyle stores, and more,” said Thanh Phạm, senior manager at CBRE Vietnam.

In the next three years, the HCM City market will welcome more than 400,000sq.m NLA of new supply and most of that will be in the non-CBD area, according to CBRE’s report.

In the CBD, construction of The Spirit of Saigon was restarted in Q4 2019 and Parkson Saigontourist Plaza is expected to re-open this year. Other projects do not have clear construction plans.

Most of the future supply will be clustered in the East, accounting for over 70 per cent of new supply, followed by the West and the North. The Central and The North will not record new developments. Rental rates are expected to grow healthily in the next two years in both CBD and non-CBD areas, while the occupancy rate will slightly decrease yet still remain at a level of above 90 per cent.

Commercial real estate services firm JLL predicted that some shopping malls in non-CBD areas will enter the market this year, namely, Satra Centre Mall, Socar Mall, Elite Mall and Central Premium Mall, contributing more than 280,000sq.m of Gross Floor Area (GFA).

In addition, after renovation and brand restructuring, some existing malls are expected to improve their occupancy rate.

As a new trend in the market, both retailers and mall developers are reinventing themselves with a focus on F&B and experiential retailers, providing better customer services and applying technology and consumer analytics to enhance their popularity and increase foot traffic, JLL research has predicted.

Public companies fined for late share trading

Six companies have been fined VNĐ300-350 million (US$12,920-15,070) each for not trading shares on the stock market after becoming public.

The total fines for the six companies is VNĐ1.79 billion. According to the State Securities Commission (SSC), the action aims to push equitised firms to put shares on the stock market after they become public.

SSC on January 20 issued a fine worth VNĐ350 million to Quảng Ninh Port JSC. The company has not yet listed shares on the stock market.

There are now three platforms for equitised companies to trade shares on, which are the Hồ Chí Minh Stock Exchange (HoSE), the Hà Nội Stock Exchange (HNX) and the Unlisted Public Company Market (UPCoM).

Among the three markets, rules are stricter on HoSE and HNX – the two main bourses – and often loosened on UPCoM.

Post-privatisation State-owned enterprises (SOEs) have been widely expected to at least trade shares on UPCoM so the shares are liquidable and shareholders can trade based on market-driven principles.

Current regulations require a company to trade shares on UPCoM within 30 days after the SSC approves it has become public or after the firm completes its IPO.

Companies are also encouraged to skip UPCoM and trade shares on the other two stock markets if they are confident about business operation and information transparency.

Other companies that have been penalised for not trading shares are Hà Nội Concrete Construction JSC, cement producer Công Thanh Group and construction material maker Trung Đô JSC.

Meanwhile, others such as the HCM City-based tourism business Vietravel was fined for starting to trade shares too late after the day it became public.

Vietravel had not submitted listing files to the market regulators for more than 12 months after it became public.

The company submitted its profile to the Hà Nội Stock Exchange on June 4, 2019, then made its UPCoM debut on September 27, 2019 with more than 12.6 million shares.

According to Quảng Ninh Port JSC’s general director Đinh Anh Tuấn, the board does not fully understand the rules about putting shares on the stock market.

The company only focuses on its business activities while it is hard for the firm to be fully aware of the regulations. Tuấn expects the market regulators will provide additional assistance for the company and it will trade shares when the market conditions are met.

According to the SSC, unlisted and untraded companies often claim losses and unsettled post-equitisation stage are the major obstacles for trading and listing shares.

To resolve the problems, the SSC and the Ministry of Finance have proposed the Prime Minister ask ministries and sectors to take a look at all SOEs to see why they have failed to list shares on the stock market.

The finance ministry also proposes the Prime Minister give disciplinary measures for company boards who manage the State capital in the firm if they intentionally delay trading shares.

Real estate firms dominate bond issuance in January

Real estate firms were the major corporate bond issuers in the market in January, according to updates from SSI Securities Corporation.

SSI’s statistics showed that real estate firms issued bonds worth VNĐ7.36 trillion (US$317.2 million) in January, accounting for 55 per cent of the total value of corporate bonds issued in the market.

In comparison, the value of corporate bonds issued by banks in January accounted for just 2.1 per cent of the total issuance value, while energy and mining firms 2.7 per cent and infrastructure development firms 1.9 per cent

Corporate bonds of real estate firms had average yields of 11.78 per cent per year and average term of 4.98 years.

More than VNĐ7.36 billion worth of corporate bonds issued in January came from only seven real estate companies.

Notably, Paradise Golf Development Joint Stock Company had the highest bond value issued in January, worth VNĐ2.68 trillion, with 10-year terms and average yield of 11.5 per cent.

Among the seven real estate firms, City Garden Joint Stock Company issued bonds at the highest yield of 13.3 per cent per year.

Other issuers were APEC Land Huế, Cù Lao Chàm Trading-Tourism and Investment Joint Stock Company, Phú Thượng Construction and Investment Joint Stock Company, Phú Hưng Real Estate Investment Company and TNR Holdings.

Real estate firms tended to issue bonds as a channel to raise capital as credit in the property sector was being tightened.

As the corporate bond market was overheating in recent years, the Ministry of Finance was planning to make regulations on corporate bond issuance more stringent, including regulations related to conditions for corporate bond issuance, rates, issuance approach in domestic and international markets, information disclosure and reporting mechanism.

Statistics from Hà Nội Stock Exchange showed that 211 firms issued bonds worth a total of VNĐ280 trillion in 2019, up by 25 per cent compared to 2018.

The scale of Việt Nam’s corporate bond market expanded from 9.01 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2018 to 11.3 per cent GDP in 2019 with a total of nearly VNĐ670 trillion worth of corporate bonds in circulation.

SSI’s statistics showed that the total corporate bond value issued by real estate firms in 2019 reached VNĐ106.5 trillion, or 38 per cent of the total issuance value, only after banks.

Coronavirus hurts German businesses in Vietnam

Seventy-six percent of German companies operating in Vietnam said the spread of coronavirus has significantly affected their business activities, according to a survey by the Delegate of German Industry and Commerce in Vietnam (AHK Vietnam).

The survey was conducted by AHK Vietnam on February 10 to analyze the extent of the economic impact the epidemic has had on German businesses in Vietnam through collecting the feedback of 84 German companies and investors active in various fields.

Fifty-five percent of the companies have already made preparations and taken preventive action in the face of the increasing risk of coronavirus infections.

Forty-seven percent of them have already banned all travel to China, while 38% have restricted business travel to the country.

Thirty-eight percent of the German companies have applied bans against incoming visitors from China, and 41% of them have restricted receiving other foreign visitors who have traveled to China recently. For foreign visitors who have not visited China recently, 52% of German companies still welcome their visits. Thirty-eight percent of them have restricted travel to countries affected by the virus.

Regarding the effectiveness of all steps taken by the Vietnamese Government to handle the virus in Vietnam, 44% of German companies thought they were timely and effective. Thirty-six percent of them confirmed that the measures had supported them to some extent.

German companies in Vietnam also offered comments, suggestions and solutions to AHK Vietnam and the Vietnamese Government. They said they would like to receive updated information, facts and figures on the effects of the coronavirus on the Vietnamese economy. Many of them expressed the expectation that the epidemic is being controlled in Vietnam.

Decentralization helps fast-track expressway projects

Expressway projects in southern localities, such as HCMC, Tien Giang and Dong Nai, have been executed at a faster pace following the empowerment of local authorities to make decisions on these projects.

At present, the Ministry of Transport is responsible for calling for investment in and managing expressway projects. However, many of them have moved at a snail’s pace.

Some projects have had feasibility studies for 10 years but have yet to be executed. Therefore, the Government has allowed the HCMC, Tien Giang and Dong Nai authorities to directly call for investments in expressway projects in their localities.

On February 7, the Government also gave its nod to the Ba Ria-Vung Tau government to prepare for investment procedures and draw up the prefeasibility study for the Bien Hoa-Vung Tau expressway project in the province. The 47-kilometer expressway will require an estimated investment of VND9.3 trillion (US$399.1 million) in the first phase.

The Ministry of Transport already did the feasibility study for the project in 2010, but the project came to a standstill, causing an overload on National Highway 51 and hindering the transport of cargo to the Cai Mep-Thi Vai port complex.

In October last year, the HCMC government was also assigned to take charge of the HCMC-Moc Bai expressway project. Only 15 days later, HCMC and Tay Ninh governments worked out a detailed action plan for the project and signed an agreement on the project’s execution.

As planned, the 53.5-kilometer four-lane expressway could be completed by 2025. The project, which requires an estimated investment of nearly VND10.7 trillion, will be executed under the public-private partnership format through a build-operate-transfer (BOT) contract.

Last year, the Government also assigned the Dong Nai government to build the 3.7-kilometer Cat Lai bridge connecting Dong Nai and HCMC. The project requires VND7.2 trillion in investment.

Work on the project is expected to start this year.

The Trung Luong-My Thuan expressway project, after being assigned to the Tien Giang government, has moved faster. All 24 packages of the project are being executed day and night to ensure it is completed next year.

Danang proposes fee reductions for businesses

The Danang tourism industry has advised the municipal leaders to ask the Government as well as banks and credit institutions to support enterprises affected by coronavirus by rescheduling debt terms from six to 12 months.

This was one of the issues raised at the meeting yesterday, February 12, between representatives of the Danang Tourism Association (DATA), the Danang Tourism Department and city leaders, aiming to find solutions to the difficulties caused by the coronavirus.

DATA’s representatives also proposed visa fee exemptions for international group tours, including those from new markets such as India and Australia.

The new strict penalty for alcohol use should also be reconsidered because of its negative impact on the operation of restaurants and consumption among locals and tourists.

In addition, they suggested reducing value-added tax by 50% and reducing water and electricity bills for tourism-based businesses. The cost of advertising tourism products and services should be reduced by 50% once the coronavirus is eradicated.

Hotels and resorts also suggested reducing land rents in 2020 and 2021 by 50%.

Further, the tourism department will work with DATA to advise the city on asking airlines to offer flexible policies for travel companies.

In another development, the tourism department is drafting a cooperation plan for fighting the epidemic.

Accordingly, it has proposed cooperating with stakeholders such as the departments of Health, Police and Transport to prepare for four scenarios: when a positive case of the coronavirus is confirmed, when there are fewer than 10 cases, more than 10 cases and widespread disease in the city with over 150 cases.

Govt pushes for new ODA policy

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh has urged the Ministry of Planning and Investment to quickly complete a draft decree on the management and use of official development assistance (ODA) and preferential loans and submit it to the Government before February 20.

At a meeting on February 10, Minh, who also heads the National Steering Committee for ODA and Preferential Loans, said that the draft decree should ensure consistency with regulations in the 2019 Law on Public Investment, the 2017 Law on Public Debt Management, the 2015 Law on State Budget and the 2016 Law on International Treaties, the Government news website reported.

Under the prevailing regulations, foreign donors’ ODA and preferential loans are public investments, so the use of these loans must comply with the 2019 Law on Public Investment.

However, the draft decree providing guidance for the deployment of the 2019 Law on Public Investment is only applicable to programs and projects using public investment, not those using ODA and preferential loans from foreign donors.

In addition, the new decree is expected to remove obstacles in the deployment of Decrees 16/2016/ND-CP and 132/2018/ND-CP on ODA and preferential loan management and use.

Further, the new decree will simplify administrative procedures to receive ODA grants.

As Vietnam has graduated from the International Development Association, the World Bank’s fund for low-income countries, preferential loans for the country have become more limited, while the interest rates have risen.

Therefore, Minh expected new regulations on using ODA to create the most favorable conditions for receiving and using these funds.

In the past, the Government has issued a number of regulations to increase the effectiveness of foreign loan attraction and use, including a decree on the re-lending of the Government’s foreign loans to local governments, and a prime ministerial decision on orientations for the attraction, management and use of ODA and preferential loans from foreign donors in the 2018-2020 period with a vision for the 2021-2025 period.

The Government has also transferred capital from projects with slow disbursement to those in need of capital to accelerate their progress and tighten control over outstanding loans and has not used ODA loans for regular expenses.

Vietnam holds key to expediting infrastructure investment: Moody’s

Vietnam’s rapidly growing economy, rising income and urbanization are fueling a strong need to develop the country’s infrastructure, particularly for more and improved power utilities and road connectivity, Moody’s Investors Service stated in a new report.

The report, called “Infrastructure in Emerging Markets: Focus on Vietnam,” said that infrastructure development is essential for Vietnam to sustain its favorable long-term growth prospects, as well as support the scaling-up of the value chain in the country’s industrial activity.

“The importance of investment from private investors is highlighted by the sizeable infrastructure task required in Vietnam together with the country’s nascent capital markets,” said Mic Kang, Moody’s vice president and senior credit officer.

“The Government’s further progress in developing the country’s contractual legal framework for infrastructure will help attract more private capital, while the evolving regulatory framework and administrative deficiencies will remain key challenges for infrastructure projects."

Based on the World Economic Forum’s assessment, Vietnam’s overall infrastructure competitiveness ranked in the mid to low range out of 141 countries and territories globally, mainly because of its relatively weak quality of electricity supply, road connectivity and quality and the efficiency of its air and water transportation services.

This is despite the country’s continued progress in developing infrastructure, particularly in the power sector, where more than 98% of the country’s population has had access to electricity since 2010, up from some 86% in 2010.

The report indicated that the Government plans to develop further infrastructure, with power and toll roads likely to be the main areas for expansion and quality improvements. Other infrastructure, including ports and railways, will also be developed.

The continued development of Vietnam’s power sector is needed to meet the fast-growing power demand from increasing industrial activity and residential customers’ rising power consumption.

There is also a need to develop renewable sources of energy given the Government’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 8% with domestic resources and by 25% with international support by 2030 on a business-as-usual basis.

Renewables (excluding hydro) accounted for only 0.2% of the country’s power generation mix in 2018, which was much lower than the Government’s target of around 7% in 2025 and about 11% in 2030, according to the report.

Recognizing its vast infrastructure needs and constraints, the Government aims to increase public-private partnerships and foreign direct investment. Multilateral development banks (MDBs) will also continue to help fill some of the funding gaps.

However, Vietnam’s graduation to a lower middle-income country will likely reduce the availability of MDB funding, which is generally provided to poorer countries.

State-owned companies will remain important to the country’s infrastructure sectors, given their status as the main executors of government policy to develop infrastructure and their dominant market positions in the sectors.

“We expect State-owned companies, whose credit quality is typically linked to the Government’s, will continue to be under the Government’s control and supervision, given their essential nature and strategic importance to the economy,” said Moody’s.

The agency explained that State-owned companies will be the off-takers of various infrastructure projects and will therefore have a significant impact on the credit risk of these projects in Vietnam.

Those companies will likely fill gaps in planned infrastructure developments that could be left over by slow investments from the private sector, to the extent that they can obtain funding from the Government and bank loans, issue bonds domestically and overseas and/or establish joint ventures with foreign investors.

The Government has been making progress in developing a contractual legal framework for infrastructure, but improvements are still needed in terms of the efficiency of regulatory approval processes, risk allocation and framework consistency.

“We expect the private sector to invest in infrastructure projects on a selective basis, depending on the projects’ credit risk relative to the expected returns,” said Moody’s.

It noted that foreign investors have participated in projects with acceptable risk allocation between the Government and private investors and/or with export credit agencies’ or multilateral financial institutions’ credit enhancements.

VCCI President: EVFTA will help move up value chains

The European Parliament’s ratification of the European Union – Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) on February 12 will open up a golden opportunity to improve value chains, said President of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) Vu Tien Loc.

Loc described the EP’s ratification of the deal and its adoption by the Vietnamese National Assembly during the next session as a milestone in the Vietnamese economy’s process of reform and global integration.

The European Union – a demanding market with the world’s highest standards, has officially recognised Vietnam’s efforts to reform, build a market economy and promote sustainable development, and stayed determined to enhance cooperation with Vietnam, he said.

As a new-generation free trade deal, the EVFTA has been dubbed an expressway to the west, connecting Vietnam with a wide and promising market in terms of finance, technology and market size.

The EU will cut 85.6 percent of tariff lines, thus improving the competitiveness of 70.3 percent of Vietnam’s exports to the region. Meanwhile, Vietnam will also remove 48.5 percent of tariff lines, or 64.5 percent of its imports, which will reduce input costs for the manufacturing and services sectors.

With the support of European partners, Vietnam hopes to increase value-added and hi-tech content in production, he said, adding that efforts to meet global standards in terms of corporate governance, labour and the environment will create new energy for Vietnam’s sustainable development strategy.

He suggested that businesses should learn about commitments, opportunities and challenges in their sectors while improving their competitiveness regarding governance, workforce, goods and services to reach European standards.

Loc also highlighted the need to reform institutions to facilitate transparent and fair competition, support micro-small, small and medium-sized enterprises, develop the support industry, and create an ecosystem beneficial to both domestic and foreign firms./.

Banks assist firms affected by nCoV outbreak

In response to the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV)’s appeal, a number of credit institutions have announced plans to support businesses affected by the novel coronavirus (nCoV) epidemic.

HDBank has offered low-interest loans and waived fees on international payments for businesses that supply drugs and medical equipment.

It has also cut their transaction fees for domestic payments by 50 percent.

It has cut the fees for issuing letters of guarantee for enterprises that supply pharmaceuticals and medical equipment and materials to hospitals, clinics and health centres at the central and local levels.

It has increased the unsecured loan limit for affected enterprises up to 10 billion VND (430,000 USD)

Kienlongbank has announced a cut in loan interest rate of 3 percentage points for farmers growing dragon fruit, watermelon, durian, jackfruit, mango, rambutan and banana between February 1 and April 30 this year.

It will also waive penalties on overdue loans in the case of affected borrowers.

ABBank has announced a loan support package of 4 trillion VND (172 million USD) at low interest rates for affected businesses.

It has conducted a review of its credit portfolio, especially the accounts of enterprises with trade relations with China, to offer them timely advice.

ABBank also regularly contacts borrowers by phone and email to apprise them about the epidemic status and offer them support.

With the epidemic severely affecting business, production and daily life, the central bank called on credit institutions to ensure they have enough funds to meet the demand for credit and support customers who are affected by the outbreak.

SBV Governor Le Minh Hung also said banks should keep watch on the business situation of customers who could be affected by the epidemic and evaluate the possible impact.

In a recent communication sent to banks, he called for focus on vulnerable sectors such as tourism, agriculture and exports so that measures could be put in place.

Support measures could include rescheduling debt payments and reducing loan interest rates, he said.

The central bank has instructed credit institutions nation-wide to co-ordinate with local authorities to resolve difficulties faced by affected businesses and borrowers.

Experts have warned many industries would suffer in the short term.

As foreign trade plays an important role in the country’s economy, any interruptions in trade with important partners like China could hit economic growth, they said.

Exports of farm produce and tourism would be hurt, at least in the short term, they added./.

Vinh Tuy bridge’s second phase project approved

Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung has approved the second-phase construction of Vinh Tuy bridge spanning Hong (Red) River in Hanoi with investment of more than 2.54 trillion (109 million USD) sourced from the city’s budget.

The project aims to complete the Belt Road No 2 of the capital city and promote linkage between two banks of the river, as well as connect the city centre with the city’s north and northeast.

Construction on the reinforced concrete bridge will start this year from the intersection of Tran Quang Khai-Nguyen Khoai-Minh Khai streets in Hai Ba Trung district and end at the crossroads of Long Bien and Thach Ban streets in Long Bien district.

It will cover more than 3.5km in length and 19.25m in width with four lanes.

The second Vinh Tuy bridge will have the same shape as the first one. The centre of the second bridge will be 21.25m from the centre of the current one to downstream Hong River.

Once completed in 2022, the new bridge is expected to create favourable conditions for socio-economic development of Hai Ba Trung, Long Bien districts and the whole city.

The Vinh Tuy Bridge 1 started construction in 2005 and was open to traffic in 2010 as one of the major construction projects to celebrate the 1,000th anniversary of Thang Long-Hanoi.

The bridge, financed by the city’s budget, had total investment capital of 3.5 trillion VND (150.5 million USD).

It spans over 5.8km in length, including 3.7km crossing the river. /.

Vietnamese firms to attend Gulfood Expo in Dubai

Some 20 Vietnamese enterprises will participate in the Gulfood Exhibition Dubai 2020 – the world’s largest annual food and beverage trade show, slated to be held at the World Trade Centre in the capital city of the United Arab Emirates from February 16-20.

The Vietnamese section at the expo will showcase foodstuff, farm produce, seafood and forestry products, processed fruits and vegetables, beverage and spices, according to the agricultural promotion centre under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The centre described the event as a good opportunity for Vietnamese businesses to seek new customers and expand their market shares in the Middle East, Africa and Southwest Asia.

This is the 25th year the trade show will be held, with more than 5,000 exhibitors from 200 countries and territories worldwide. It is expected to attract more than 100,000 visitors.

At the previous expo, Vietnamese enterprises signed contracts worth approximately 20 million USD, including some 7 million USD worth of seafood products and 4 million USD worth of spices./.

Vietnam’s aquatic product exports decline in January

Vietnam’s total aquatic product export value in January fell by 12.5 percent year-on-year to 644 million USD due to the impacts of the novel coronavirus epidemic, according to the Vietnam Association and Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP).

The epidemic is greatly impacting China, one of Vietnam's main aquatic product export markets, and causing a strong reduction in exports from Vietnam to China.

VASEP Deputy General Secretary Nguyen Hoai Nam said several enterprises exporting tra fish (pangasius), tuna and shrimp had faced suspension of payment for export contracts because Chinese banks were not open due to the coronavirus epidemic. It was expected that from February 16 when banks are set to reopen, Chinese partners would be able to pay Vietnamese export contracts for goods shipped by sea.

In addition, some large shipping firms had not agreed to ship goods to China while some large seafood importers had proposed ships not go past ports in China.

VASEP has predicted that aquatic product exporters will still be able to receive new contracts but the number of contracts will decrease. Chinese restaurants reducing aquatic product consumption will affect Vietnam's aquatic product exports.

Some local exporters have had aquatic products sent to China that have had to be stockpiled, racking up large fees to freeze the seafood in stock, according to Nam.

However, VASEP General Secretary Truong Dinh Hoe said the epidemic was likely to not have a great impact on Vietnam’s aquatic product exports this year because usually, demand for imported aquatic products from Vietnam to China increases in March and April, reported Dau tu (Investment) newspaper.

China is one of Vietnam's four largest aquatic product export markets, accounting for 16-17 percent of the country’s total aquatic product export value.

On the other hand, Hoe said VASEP saw many opportunities for local businesses to increase the production of frozen and canned seafood because during and after the epidemic, customers would favour processed seafood.

Hoe also said that large global events like the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Euro 2020 football tournament would boost seafood consumption, especially of shrimp. The scale of the outbreak in China would cause many markets to reduce seafood imports from China.

Vietnam’s seafood enterprises could take those opportunities to increase exports to the US, Japan, South Korea and Europe, Hoe said.

In addition, businesses should also focus on increasing their market shares domestically, said the VASEP representative.

Duong Nghia Quoc, Chairman of the Vietnam Pangasius Association, said besides export strategies to key markets, businesses needed to enhance marketing activities and expand distribution channels at home./.

Bank customers warned of email scams amid coronavirus spread

Banks in Vietnam have requested customers not to open suspicious emails or click on dubious links sent as email attachments related to the coronavirus, where they are asked to enter online banking information.

As concern over the coronavirus outbreak grows, information on the virus, which emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year, and measures to stay free of the disease have been sent to bank customers frequently by email, text message or social media.

Scammers have taken advantage of these activities to deliver malicious emails to customers or use phishing emails to harvest their personal data, reported VietnamPlus newspaper.

These kinds of malicious emails and text messages feature subjects and contents related to the disease, asking users to click on attached links.

On clicking the link or opening the email or message, the user’s system could get infected with malware and have its data stolen.

In other cases, hackers can steal money by asking users to provide e-banking information.

Commenting on the issue, technology experts at Maritime Bank (MSB) said MSB and other credit institutions never ask customers to provide their passwords under any circumstances.

Accordingly, MSB customers should follow the given advice to avoid the ploys of hackers and only access the bank’s official channels at or

If customers discover their bank card or internet banking information has been disclosed, they should contact bank hotlines for immediate assistance.

According to a Vietnam Prosperity Bank (VPBank) representative, VPBank sends a one-time password to their customers’ registered phone numbers or email addresses when they log into their bank accounts on a new device. Customers should not reveal the code to anyone, especially imposters posing as bank staff, if they receive a code without attempting to log in.

Former general director of construction firm under arrest

Nguyễn Tuấn Anh, former general director of Đà Nẵng Building Materials, Construction and Trade One Member Limited Company, was arrested on Wednesday night.

As reported by Vietnam News Agency, in May 2018, inspectors in Đà Nẵng found mistakes were made in the construction of three resettlement projects in Hòa Liên Commune, Hòa Vang District, causing VNĐ30 billion (US$1.29 million) in losses to the city's budget.

At that time, Nguyễn Tuấn Anh's company violated the law with five bidding packages worth a total of VNĐ3.42 billion.

The case is under further investigation.

Fruit, vegetable segment needs revamp: agriculture minister

The fruit and vegetable farming segment needs to restructure production, enhance linkages among stakeholders in the value chain and invest in modern processing plants, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyễn Xuân Cường has said.

Speaking at a meeting with farmers and businesses in Long An Province on Tuesday to discuss measures to resolve difficulties caused by the novel coronavirus epidemic, Cường said the country has 60,000ha under dragon fruit, which yield three million tonnes a year and fetching nearly US$2 billion from exports.

In the Long An Province’s Châu Thành District alone, all agricultural lands are now under the fruit.

But he also pointed to limitations like mainly exporting fresh fruits and relying too much on the Chinese market.

So the dragon fruit segment in particular and the agricultural sector in general needs to restructure, especially in the context of the epidemic, he said.

“This is a good opportunity for major dragon fruit cultivation areas such as Bình Thuận, Long An and Tiền Giang to review the entire production process to restructure it and persuade businesses to participate in organising production and processing chains of the fruits.

“Besides continuing exports to traditional markets, we also need to seek more new export markets.

“Businesses must pay greater attention to the domestic market of 100 million population.”

They need to develop close links with farmers so that the latter can grow products that meet the demand in global markets and enterprises must upgrade their processing chain to improve quality, he said.

Farmers have begun harvesting dragon fruit, but exports to China, the largest market for it, has plummeted due to the impact of the epidemic.

“We will firstly seek measures to ensure farmers’ products are consumed and then proceed to comprehensive restructuring of agriculture in order to add more value to our agricultural products and ensure a better life for farmers,” Cường added.

Đặng Ngọc Cẩn, general director of Lavifood JSC, said: “We specialise in processing fruits and vegetables for exports to fastidious markets such as South Korea, Japan, the US and the EU. To help reduce farmers’ difficulties due to the impact of the epidemic, we have increased the purchase of dragon fruit and process it into various products such as juice, dried fruit, soft-dried fruits, and frozen products.

“A new product line, the 'We Love' fresh and natural dragon fruit juice, is about to be launched in the market.

“To do this, we had to completely change our business plan for 2020.”

Lavifood on Tuesday signed an agreement with the Saigon Commercial Joint Stock Bank, Saigon Co.op [owner of Co.opmart supermarket] and Green Start-up Fund to support farmers.

At a working session with Cường, Long An Province authorities called for subsidising electricity costs for cold storages until the end of March to businesses that buy, preserve and export agricultural produce and provide them loans at preferential interest rates to facilitate their purchase of dragon fruits from farmers.

The province also wanted the ministry to establish a distribution centre for agricultural produce in China and connect major dragon fruit-growing localities to avoid sudden increases in output.

HCM City promises adequate food supply, says epidemic not a cause for worry

HCM City authorities have assured there would be no short supply of foodstuff and other essential goods because of the novel coronavirus epidemic.

Nguyễn Huỳnh Trang, deputy director of the Department of Industry and Trade, said the supply of essential goods would increase by 30-40 per cent year-on-year in the first quarter.

The city has also made plans to ensure supply in case of any emergency to prevent hoarding and gouging, she said.

The department has been working with producers and distributors, especially those that are part of the city’s price stabilisation programme but also others to ensure the supply, she said.

The assured supply in the first quarter includes 187.1 million poultry eggs, nearly 15,700 tonnes of beef and more than 35,300 tonnes of poultry meat.

Businesses participating in the price stabilisation programme are ready to not only ensure the agreed supply but also exceed it by 30-50 per cent, according to the department.

City authorities have tasked major enterprises such as the Saigon Union of Trading Cooperatives, Saigon Trading Corporation, Saigon Agriculture Corporation, HCM City Food Joint Stock Company and Vissan Company with supplying large volumes of goods.

Vinh Phát Wilmar Investment Joint Stock Company has stockpiled enough rice to ensure supply until the end of this year while Tấn Vương Food Company can supply until next January.

Acecook Vietnam said it would provide consumers with free foods if the epidemic disrupts supply.

Supermarkets, malls and convenience stores in the city have also prepared for the epidemic by stockpiling double or triple the normal volume of goods.

The city plans to keep a close eye on supply and demand of food and other essential products, ensuring the market remains stable.

It will continue to focus on the market stabilisation programme and working with the Department of Information and Communications to provide accurate information and prevent distorted information about the market and prices.

In the long run, it will work with other localities with large sources of foodstuff supply such as Đồng Nai, Bình Dương, Lâm Đồng, Bến Tre, Đồng Tháp and An Giang to ensure there is adequate supply in the city.

It has also helped businesses access loans at low interest rates to expand production.

It has instructed districts to work with the city Market Management Agency to inspect and punish those who speculate in essential goods and increase prices.

Trần Duy Đông, director of the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s domestic market department, said supply of foods and other essential goods in large supermarkets and stores is abundant.

“There is no scarcity as feared,” he said.

“It’s true that more people are buying more goods than usual, mostly vegetables and fruits, due to fears of shortage caused by the epidemic. However, prices remain steady.”

The ministry said it would inspect any supermarket or food store that claims to have a short supply of goods if there are complaints from the public.