The Prime Minister has agreed that work can begin on the development of Ledana Industrial Park in Binh Phuoc Province.

Nguyen Xuan Phuc has issued Decision 738/QD-TTg giving the green light to the five-year project.

The industrial park will cover a total area of 424.5ha in Loc Ninh District’s Loc Thanh Commune. Le Dai Nam International JSC is the project investor.

Total investment for the development is VND1.2 trillion (US$51.5 million), including VND200 billion provided by the investor.

The provincial People’s Committee and Binh Phuoc Economic Zone Management Unit will work with the investor to complete the Industrial Park in a maximum of five years.

The investor has been told to strictly follow construction rules and provide guarantees to prove the company is financially capable to carry out the work.

The company is required to introduce different plans to raise enough capital, assuring its capability of financing the project.

In addition, environmental protection tasks must be accomplished in the investor’s environmental impact assessment when preparing for the project.

Binh Phuoc provincial People’s Committee and the Economic Zone Management Unit are asked to oversee the project development regarding the progress, environmental protection, and land and water use.

The agencies are also tasked to clear land and develop a settlement plan for affected people. 

Deputy PM: VNAT and localities focus on developing regional tourism activities


Tourists in Hoi An, Da Nang. Total tourism revenue in the first five months of this year reached VND150.3 trillion, a reduction of 47 per cent year on year. — Photo

The Viet Nam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) needs to coordinate with local administrations and the Viet Nam Tourism Association (VITA) to advertise tourism destinations in the northwestern, northeastern and central coastal regions.

Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam made this request during a meeting with the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism, Ministry of Transport, Ministry of Finance, Viet Nam Tourism Association (VITA) and several travel firms in Ha Noi on Wednesday to help the tourism industry weather the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Deputy PM also requested relevant ministries to soon set the schedules for this year’s upcoming public holidays and school summer break to boost domestic travel demand.

Viet Nam has more than 40,000 businesses and about 4.5 million people working in the tourism industry, one of the sectors hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, he said.

Many small-size tourism enterprises have been put under great pressure by the outbreak so the government must find ways to re-energise them, he said.

Dam noted that though small firms like community-based tourism and homestay service providers are not large contributors to the State budget, they have played a crucial part in reducing poverty and improving living standards in remote and disadvantaged areas.

The Deputy PM asked the relevant ministries, agencies and local administrations to slash fees for hospitality firms fairly to help them overcome difficulties.

He also suggested to the stakeholders to organise more virtual international travel promotion events and develop tourism programmes to promote Viet Nam as a safe destination amid COVID-19.

“At present, the promotion of domestic tourism activities is important. This is also the choice of many countries with tourism advantages in the context of suspended international tourism due to the pandemic," said Nguyen Trung Khanh, VNAT general director.

According to VNAT, to remove the current difficulties of the tourism industry, the Government is requested to permit the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and relevant ministries to implement the communication programme "Viet Nam - safe and attractive destination".

In addition, the Government should have support for local tourism businesses. Of which, the Ministry of Industry and Trade should adjust electricity prices for tourist accommodation establishments to be at the same rates as electricity prices for production. This adjustment should be applied until the end of this year.

At the meeting, Nguyen Quoc Ky, Vietravel general director, said the Government should have policies to attract domestic tourists in the peak period from July to October.

It also needs to build key tourism regions for promoting tourism development in each region and regional links, and develop a tourism product chain connecting travel, aviation and service enterprises. Those activities would aim at stimulating tourism in the domestic market, he said.

Ky proposed the Government to have financial support for travel companies, the leading factor in the chain of tourism development, including transportation, accommodation and services.

He suggested a reduction in entrance fees at historical relic sites and tourist attractions managed by the State until the end of March 2021.

Regarding these fees, VITA vice-chairman Vu The Binh said many localities have not offered discounts for tourists.

"The price is not reduced much, but the reduction is localities' action to share the current difficulties with businesses of the tourism industry. These enterprises have discounted hotel prices and travel costs,” Binh said.

According to VITA, international tourist arrivals to Viet Nam in the first five months of this year totalled 3.7 million while the number of domestic holidaymakers stood at 16 million, down 50 per cent and 58.5 per cent, respectively, from the same period last year.

The total tourism revenue during this period reached VND150.3 trillion, a reduction of 47 per cent compared to the same period in 2019. Average room occupancy reached about 20 per cent, a sharp decrease compared to 52 per cent in the same period in 2019. 

Seminar calls for farm production, consumption link-ups within southern economic hub

Localities in the Southern Key Economic Region need to enhance co-operation to develop safe agricultural areas and ensure consumption of safe food and farm produce, a seminar heard in HCM City yesterday.

Nguyen Huynh Trang, deputy chairman of the city Department of Industry and Trade, said linkages for production and consumption of agricultural products and foods is important for promoting economic development in the region and the application of good agricultural practices.

As the chair of the Southern Key Economic Region Council, the city has assigned the HCM City University of Economics in collaboration with the city Department of Industry and Trade, and partners to develop a project named "Building linkages in production and consumption of agricultural products and foodstuffs towards ensuring food safety standards between HCM City and provinces and cities in the Southern Key Economic Region."

The seminar sought to collect participants’ opinions on zoning areas for safe agricultural produce and foodstuffs and suggest policies for localities in the region for building linkages in production and consumption of agricultural produce and foods from the region, she said.

Tran Tien Khai, representative of the project’s executive board, said, “The provinces and city in the region have not established close links with each other for formulating production plans locally, and do not share information about market and demand to balance supply and demand.”

Localities in the region have enhanced food safety management and adopted VietGAP standards for cultivation and animal breeding, but only 5-10 per cent of the products meet those standards.

“Farmers have sufficient knowledge to apply VietGAP standards in their production and awareness of safe food production, but many of them do not apply them.”

The cost of growing vegetables to VietGAP standards is higher than conventional methods, while productivity is lower and the appearance of the vegetables is not very attractive, he said.

Modern distribution channels can buy around 20 per cent of vegetables grown to VietGAP standards. So farmers have to sell the rest at traditional markets at normal prices, which discourages them from adopting the standards, he said.

“Farmers usually care about short-term benefits over long-term and sustainable benefits.”

He suggested that localities should make plans for safe farm produce production and consumption as well as expand the application of VietGAP standard in production.

Nguyen Ngoc Hoa, another representative of the project’s executive board, said the region has about 21-22 million consumers with increasing income.

With the consultancy and consensus of provinces in the region, HCM City should preside building a zoning plan on safe farm produce production and trade within the region so that each province in the region will base on that to make plan for its local production and trade.

“HCM City is the largest market in the region, consuming about 50-60 per cent of farm produce and food products manufactured in other localities.

“Provinces all have demand to sell their products in the city and are willing to comply with regulations prescribed by the city.”

Representatives of many provinces and cities in the region said building a wholesale market and centre for agricultural products and enhancing food safety management from the production to consumption stages are urgent requirements.

They also called for enhancing traceability of products to ensure food safety.

Producers must focus more on building brands for their products and improve product designs so that they could be exported, they added.

The region, which consists of HCM City and seven provinces – Tay Ninh, Binh Phuoc, Binh Duong, Dong Nai, Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Long An, and Tien Giang -- plays a special role in the country’s socio-economic development, accounting for more than 45.5 per cent of its GDP.

PetroVietnam’s oil equivalent output up in 5 months

The Vietnam Oil and Gas Group (PetroVietnam)’s oil equivalent output reached 8.99 million tonnes in the first five months of this year, 4.4 per cent higher than its target.

Of which, crude oil output in May reached 0.96 million tonnes, 2.1 per cent higher than the monthly plan, while gas production fulfilled the monthly goal at 0.84 billion cu.m, according to PetroVietnam.

The firm generated 2.05 billion kWh of electricity and produced 149,800 tonnes of nitrogenous fertiliser, surpassing the monthly targets by 4.7 per cent and 4.2 per cent, respectively.

Its production of oil and petroleum exceeded 1.01 million tonnes during the month, only equivalent to 91.5 per cent of the monthly goal, largely because the Nghi Son Oil Refinery was cutting capacity for maintenance and the PetroVietnam Oil Corporation (PV Oil) reduced production of petroleum as demand dropped.

During the first five months, PetroVietnam followed fluctuations on the global and domestic markets to have reasonable solutions preventing the COVID-19 pandemic and also coping with difficulties in production and business due to the serious development of this disease.

The group also built scenarios to deal with situations of the global oil price falling. Of which, the worst scenario was to stop operation of mines and refineries.

PVN member companies shared information and resources and cooperated with other foreign and local partners to optimise operational efficiency in the PVN value chain.

The company has also made drastic efforts to cut nearly VND8.7 trillion in costs during the first five months of the year.

From January to May, the State-owned enterprise earned VND124.2 trillion (US$5.33 billion) in revenue, down 29 per cent from a year earlier. Its post-tax profit nosedived 49 per cent year on year to VND7.1 trillion. 

Pepper price hike in Cambodia attributed to high demand from Vietnam

Increased demand from Vietnam has led to a significant recovery in Cambodia’s pepper prices at the beginning of this year’s harvest season, the Phnom Penh Post quoted Cambodia Pepper and Spice Federation president Mak Ny as saying.

The prices of the spice rose from 9,000 riel to 11,000 riel (2.19 to 2.67 USD) per 550g compared to the same period last year, he said.

According to Ny, the prices have soared since the beginning of May, while the harvest season in Vietnam ended in April.

He assumed the harvest is low, raising concerns of a shortage, as Vietnam is a big market distributor. That’s why the country has bought a lot of pepper from Cambodia to stockpile, resulting in a price hike, he added.

Ny said the prices of Cambodian pepper started to decline in 2018 and the local sector now relies 80 percent on the Vietnamese market and around 15 percent on the Thai market./.

Bac Ninh authorities hold dialogue with workers

Authorities in the northern province of Bac Ninh held a dialogue with workers on June 4 to listen to their inquiries and aspirations.

The participants represent over 300,000 employees who are working at businesses across the locality.

They touched upon difficulties caused by COVID-19 and issues relating to the implementation of social insurance; traffic safety, security and order at industrial parks; and environmental pollution.

Addressing the workers’ concerns, Director of the provincial Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs Dinh Van Duan said the province is assisting social welfare families, national revolutionary contributors, and needy people under the Government’s aid package worth 62 trillion VND (2.7 billion USD).

Earlier, at a dialogue with Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc on the occasion of his visit to a sound device factory in the province’s Tu Son town, workers appreciated the Party and State’s efforts against COVID-19, as well as the Government’s aid package for people affected by the pandemic, including labourers. 

They expressed their hope that the Government will keep a good control of the disease, support businesses and export activities, and facilitate the building of housing, day-care centres and supermarkets to meet their daily needs.

In response, PM Phuc said housing for workers is an issue that needs more attention. He asked the Vietnam General Confederation of Labour and Bac Ninh authorities to reserve more resources and provide more favourable mechanisms for the housing construction.

He affirmed the Party and State always create the best possible environment for all domestic and foreign investors to operate successfully in Vietnam. Therefore, both enterprises and state agencies are responsible for developing a healthy business climate.

Bac Ninh is a major industrial hub in the north of Vietnam, attracting large firms from Japan and the Republic of Korea./.

Video meeting discusses Vietnam-Russia economic ties amid COVID-19

The Russian Academy of Sciences (RAN) and Vietnam’s National University of Economics (NEU) hosted a video conference on June 4 to discuss the Vietnam-Russia economic relations amid new challenges.

The event, which marked the Vietnam Year in Russia and Russia Year in Vietnam, was attended by Chairman of the Vietnam National Committee for the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council (PECC) Vo Tri Thanh and experts from ministries and governmental agencies as well as leading universities and academies from both sides.

In her opening remarks, Dr. Elena Lenchuk, head of the RAN’s institute of economy, said the event aims to mark the 70th anniversary of the two nations’ diplomatic ties.

She spoke highly of the close cooperation between Vietnam and Russia, saying against the backdrop of globlisation and new global challenges, Russia is interested in strengthening relations with the Asia-Pacific, particularly Vietnam which has seen robust economic growths in recent years.

A total of 14 presentations were delivered throughout three sessions of the event. The first session reviewed the main trends in the trade and investment cooperation between Vietnam and Russia over the last decade (2010 – 2020), the second discussed the bilateral relations which are being challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the third was on declining global oil prices and the energy cooperation between the two sides.

Seminar calls for farm production, consumption link-ups within southern economic hub

Localities in the Southern Key Economic Region need to enhance co-operation to develop safe agricultural areas and ensure consumption of safe food and farm produce, heard a seminar in Ho Chi Minh City on June 4.

Nguyen Huynh Trang, deputy chairman of the city Department of Industry and Trade, said linkages for production and consumption of agricultural products and foods is important for promoting economic development in the region and the application of good agricultural practices.

The seminar sought to collect participants’ opinions on zoning areas for safe agricultural produce and foodstuffs and suggest policies for localities in the region for building linkages in production and consumption of agricultural produce and foods from the region, she said.

Localities in the region have enhanced food safety management and adopted VietGAP standards for cultivation and animal breeding, but only 5-10 percent of the products meet those standards.

The cost of growing vegetables to VietGAP standards is higher than conventional methods, while productivity is lower and the appearance of the vegetables is not very attractive, participants said.

Modern distribution channels can buy around 20 percent of vegetables grown to VietGAP standards. So farmers have to sell the rest at traditional markets at normal prices, which discourages them from adopting the standards, they added, suggesting that localities should make plans for safe farm produce production and consumption as well as expand the application of VietGAP standard in production.

Representatives of many provinces and cities in the region said building a wholesale market and centre for agricultural products and enhancing food safety management from the production to consumption stages are urgent requirements.

They also called for enhancing traceability of products to ensure food safety.

Producers must focus more on building brands for their products and improve product designs so that they could be exported, they added.

The region, which consists of HCM City and seven provinces – Tay Ninh, Binh Phuoc, Binh Duong, Dong Nai, Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Long An, and Tien Giang -- plays a special role in the country’s socio-economic development, accounting for more than 45.5 percent of its GDP./.

HCM City attracts 1.6 billion USD in FDI in first five months

Ho Chi Minh City attracted a combined 1.6 billion USD in foreign direct investment (FDI) in the first five months of 2020, or 57.67 percent compared to the same period last year.

The information was revealed during a conference on the city’s socio-economic development held on June 4.

Of the 47 countries and territories investing in the southern hub, Japan was the top with 44 projects worth 80.5 million USD, holding a lion’s share of 32.4 percent in terms of additional capital.

Singapore came second with a total of 50.8 million USD in registered capital, followed by Hong Kong (China) and the Republic of Korea.

The city posted a budget collection of nearly 139.40 trillion VND (6 billion USD) during Jan-May, hitting 34.35 percent of the year’s estimates and 84 percent of the same period last year.

Singapore imports Vietnamese litchi directlyfor first time

Singapore has directly imported Vietnamese litchi for the first time.

Ameii Vietnam JSC in the northern province of Hai Duong recently exported the first 6.5 tonnes of litchi to Singapore; while Rong Do Production, Trade and Services Co Ltd also shipped the first 20 tonnes of litchi to Australia and the US.

Trinh Van Thien, chairman of Hai Duong Province’s Thanh Ha District, said that in previous years, Chinese traders used to come to Vietnam to buy litchi and then exported the product to neighbouring countries such as Malaysia and Singapore.

Since February when the Covid-19-pandemic broke out, Singapore has sought to import farm produces from different markets due to being suspended by the supply from China. Southeast Asian markets such as Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand are among the top priorities of Singapore.

At a recent online meeting to boost Vietnam’s farm produce and seafood exports to Singapore, some Singaporean fruit importers expressed their interest in the high-quality litchi grown in Bac Giang and Hai Duong provinces.

Vietnam News Agency cited Tran Thu Quynh, trade counsellor in Singapore, as saying that besides Vietnamese litchi imported by Chinese traders into Singapore, the market was importing litchi from Thailand and Taiwan, but the Singaporean market likes Vietnamese litchi due to their good taste.

Strengthening trade promotion activities for Vietnamese litchi and Bac Giang litchi in particular in the Singapore market would be a good solution to increase Vietnamese litchi being directly exported to Singapore.

This year, Bac Giang has 28,000ha growing litchi with an estimated total output of 160,000 tonnes.

Meanwhile, Japan has granted area codes to 19 areas. China has granted area codes for 149 areas and export licenses for 288 packaging facilities in Bac Giang.

Car prices predicted to fall until Tet Holiday

Car prices in Vietnam are predicted to continue falling with many discount programmes due to large inventory and slow sales.

It is estimated that up to 50,000 cars are left in the firms' inventories. Many of them are cars made in 2019 and 2018. Some firms have to search for more warehouses to store the cars. The oversupply situation has occurred since late 2019 and got worse during the Covid-19 outbreak.

According to the Department of Industry, most firms have resumed operation after social distancing but at low capacity due to high inventories. Data from the General Statistics Office showed that a large number of the cars in inventory were assembled domestically. This has been the most difficult time yet for the local automobile industry. Moreover, domestically-assembled cars still have to compete with completely built-up imported cars from Thailand and Indonesia.

The government has reduced the registration fee for new domestically-assembled cars by 50% for 2020 and extended the deadline for excise tax payments and other fees incurred since March. Decree 57 has been issued to help domestically-assembled cars have lower prices. The decree will waive import duty for parts needed in car assembling that Vietnam can't make yet.

Meanwhile, various discount and promotional campaigns have been launched to attract customers. VinFast announced that they will pay all registration fees for customers who buy Lux A2.0 and Lux SA2.0 this year. Cars dated back do 2019 and 2018 have even higher discounts. Many firms have worked with banks to provide preferential loans for customers. For some small cars, customers don't have to pay interest for the first two years.

It is predicted that the industry will pick up in the last two quarters despite modest growth. If Covid-19 pandemic continues to develop complicatedly, the industry will be affected until 2021. Discount programmes will be rolled out constantly until Tet Holiday to help sell cars.

Finding customers and balancing monthly basic expenses are still the most difficult tasks. Many firms have to cut staff and operations in order to maintain businesses. Distributors and retail agents are also affected.

The automobile industry contributes 3% of the GDP each year with over USD7bn in 2019.

Cambodia passes draft bills to curb money laundering, weapon financing

The National Assembly of Cambodia on June 4 adopted two draft laws on anti-money laundering (AML) and counter-terrorist financing (CFT) and on combating the financing of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) proliferation.

Speaking at the assembly's session, Cambodian Interior Minister Sar Kheng said the country became a member of the Asia Pacific Group (APG) on Money Laundering in 2004 and as its member, the kingdom is required to follow international standards on combating money laundering, terrorist financing and WMD proliferation financing.

According to the official, the draft law on AML and CFT is designed to combat money laundering and terrorist financing by identifying measures to control, prevent, crack down on and eliminate them. It also stipulates measures to freeze, restrain and seize assets in criminal proceedings, and to punish perpetrators.

Meanwhile, the draft bill on combating the financing of WMD proliferation was aimed at controlling on providing funds and services, such as financing, related to the export and trans-shipment of items that would contribute to the proliferation of WMD, he added.

The two draft laws will need to be finally reviewed by the Senate before being submitted to Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni for promulgation./.

Agriculture aims to be among most developed countries worldwide by 2030

Vietnam is currently striving to have its agriculture rank among the 15 most developed nations globally by 2030, with hopes that the farm product processing industry can be among the top 10 countries in the world and a centre for deep processing and logistics of global agricultural trade.

This goal comes after Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc recently issued Government Directive No. 25 relating to a number of tasks and solutions aimed at developing the domestic agro-forestry-fishery product processing industry and mechanising agricultural production.

Many agricultural production models apply high technology, helping earn higher profits
The directive states that, despite the mechanisation of agriculture and the agro-processing industry achieving remarkable achievements in recent times, the development has still fallen below the inherent potential that exists for the agricultural sector along with the strengths of many localities. 

PM Phuc therefore requests that ministers, heads of ministerial-level agencies, heads of government agencies, and chairs of People's Committees of centrally-run provinces and cities perform well when following their assigned functions and tasks by directing and implementing orientations to boost the development of the local agro-processing industry and agricultural mechanisation.

The PM has also asked the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to review previously promulgated plans relating to agricultural mechanisation and the agro-processing industry in an effort to integrate them into national planning.

The ministry will therefore co-ordinate efforts with ministries, sectors, and localities in an effort to formulate and submit plans for approval to various national planning schemes ahead in the 2021 to 2030 period according to the Planning Law.

The ministry has been requested to build a project that can develop three agricultural processing industries towards being ranked among the leading five countries worldwide in terms of fruit and vegetables, sea food, timber, and wood products, all of which must be submitted to the Prime Minister for consideration during the final quarter of 2020.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade will also co-ordinate efforts alongside the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to implement synchronous solutions aimed at taking full advantage of the opportunities that exists through impending free trade agreements. This includes the European Union-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership with regard to processed agricultural products.

The Ministry of Science and Technology will be concentrating and prioritising investment in the application of science and technology in terms of production, processing, and preservation of agricultural products. This will effectively implement national science and technology schemes to support businesses, farmers, and co-operatives to upgrade agricultural product processing and preservation technology with a priority being given to key national agricultural products.

Elsewhere, the Ministry of Planning and Investment is set to balance and allocate investment capital for the implementation of the project aimed at developing three agricultural processing industries in the near future.

Cassava exports skyrocket during five-month period

Vietnam exported 1.27 million tonnes of cassava and cassava-based products during the opening five months of the year, raking in US$436 million, according to figures released by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The figure represented a year-on-year increase of 20% in terms of volume and 7% in value.   

Indeed, the export price of cassava starch is expected to remain low as a result of a drop in demand from the Chinese market, while the export price of cassava chips is likely to increase over the short term due to increasing demand from the northern neighbour whilst domestic inventories gradually become low.

The average export price of cassava and cassava-based products throughout the reviewed period stood at an estimated US$342 per tonne, a decrease of 11% on-year.

Most notably, exports of cassava starch were estimated to be at 900,000 tonnes with a value of US$352 million, representing an increase of 6.6% in volume and a decline of 3.2% in value in comparison with the same period from last year.

The average export price of cassava starch fell by 9.2% to US$391.3 per tonne during May and June due to China’s consumption demand for the product decreasing slightly.

The Chinese market was able to successfully keep its place as the country’s main export destination during the first months of the year. The figures show that the total export volume of cassava and cassava-based products to this market during the first four months of the year reached 959,200 tonnes, with a total value of US$324.7 million, representing an annual rise of 15% in volume and 1.4% in terms of value.

Despite this, the country’s cassava chip exports to China during April suffered a sharp decrease by 22% to 54,300 tonnes compared to March as a result of the price of alcohol experiencing a downward trend caused by the weakening of global oil and alcohol prices.

Elsewhere, both Malaysia and Taiwan (China) have also increased imports of Vietnamese cassava and cassava-based products over the course of the four-month period.

With the novel coronavirus being largely brought under control, the country’s agricultural exports, especially cassava exports, are predicted to recover with Vietnam-China border gates reopening in June.

Mekong Delta pushes boat out to attract more visitors

The Mekong Delta Tourism Association has launched a tourism promotion plan aimed at increasing traveler numbers by December, especially those from Southeast Asia.

The plan is being initiated through the participation of 57 serviced accommodation businesses, 36 food and beverage service firms, 25 tourism areas, and 22 tourism agencies that are based within the region.
At present, all of them have pledged to offer discounts of between 10% and 50% on service prices.

Trinh Cong Vinh, chairman of the Bac Lieu Tourism Association, said the province would also be reducing the entrance fees on 12 tourism areas by 10% to 20%. Moreover, the province is also working on the development of agricultural tourism in the districts of Phuoc Long and Hong Dan.

Simultaneously, An Giang province has finalised its upgrade of both the landscape and facilities at the Tra Su cajuput forest, a move that is anticipated to serve to attract additional numbers of cranes and other birds, whilst increasing the interest of visitors in the site.

This comes after Tra Su had been recognised as the nation’s most beautiful forest earlier in the year by the Vietnam Records Organisation, with the site also featuring the longest bamboo bridge in the country.

Vietravel, one of the nation’s leading tourism agencies, is currently outlining a new tour to link provinces and cities in the region, including Can Tho, Soc Trang, Bac Lieu, and Ca Mau.

Le Dinh Minh Thy, director of Vietravel's Can Tho and Southwest region, stated that the new tour has been widely welcomed by consumers, who love participating in day-long tours as a way of discovering the Mekong region.

Hiep, chairman of the Mekong Tourism Association, has moved to incentivise tourism businesses and organisations throughout the region in an effort to step up co-operation with Ho Chi Minh City to develop a fully developed tourism plan.

According to provinces and cities located in the Mekong Delta, the number of arrivals in the region during the first four months of the year endured a drop of 41.6% from last year, whilst revenue plummeted by 42%.

Billion-Vietnamese-dong meat processing factory abandoned

The cattle and poultry slaughtering and processing factory in Ky Trinh Ward in Ky Anh Town in Ha Tinh Province was invested more than VND100 billion. This factory that belongs to Mitraco Processed Food Limited Company, a member of the State-owned Ha Tinh Minerals and Trading Joint Stock Corporation, was planned to cover an area of 12.5 hectares. 

The factory was equipped with an advanced production line under European standards on food safety. The factory planned to slaughter 500 pigs per day and process 2 tons of meat per day in the first stage, and slaughter 1,000 pigs, 100 cows, and 3,000 chickens per day and process 5 tons of meat per day in the second stage; treat 400 cubic meters of wastewater per day and night.

The factory was started construction at the end of 2012 and handed over in June 2014. It came into operations with an initial scale of 100 pigs per day, accounting for 20 percent of its capacity. Processed products in the early stage included lean pork paste, sausages, ham, and some other high-class products. These products were consumed in supermarkets, stores, and markets in Ha Tinh Province, as well as for the domestic market and export.

However, after operating for some time, it did not achieve efficiency as expected but operated perfunctorily and suffered losses. By 2018, the factory faced stagnancy then came to a stop and has been abandoned until now.

Explaining the reason that caused the factory to stall, on June 4, Ms. Nguyen Thi Ha, Deputy CEO of Ha Tinh Minerals and Trading Joint Stock Corporation, said that the consumption was too low while consumers have not habituated with industrial processing and manufacturing process and they rarely use frozen products.

According to Ms. Ha, the company has just signed a cooperation agreement with a company in Hanoi to continue to invest in production but this company has not done anything yet.

1,920 startup companies established in Ho Chi Minh City

At a meeting between the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Council's Economics and Budget Committee and HCMC Enterprise Association on startup ecosystem development yesterday, a representative from the Department of Science and Technology, announced 1,920 startup companies have been established in the city so far.

Of 1,920 startup companies, more than 70 percent are in IT field and the remaining in high-tech agriculture and other fields.

The Department of Science and Technology has launched four startup support packages. One is for consultation and training with maximum expenditure of VND200 million (US$8,590 ) per project. The second is for connection and the third one is for startup project incubation not exceeding VND500 million per project. The fourth package is for startup project acceleration.

So far, the city has given VND23 billion to support 40 startup companies. Additionally, a private investment fund has poured money into 21 startup projects.

Most of startup companies decided to invest in niche market to avoid competition. Presently, startup companies have been attractive for investors and private investment funds which agreed to pour money into startup companies.

However, on the other hand, General Secretary of the HCMC Enterprise Association Nguyen Ho Thien Nhan said many startup projects are copied from their foreign peers; therefore, there has been no breakthrough in the startup projects. Sponsors for startup companies complained of complex administrative procedures.

To make startup ecosystem more effective, the city needs to have financial mechanisms to attract capital in a bid to help startup companies grow more. Moreover, legal environment must be less complicated for establishment of investment fund. The most important factor is launching venture capital funds simultaneously with private venture capital funds.

Regarding tariff policies, startup companies are exempt from paying tax within 3 to 5 years.
Last but not least, activities such as commercial promotion, market connection, investment in new technologies must be organized to facilitate enterprise operation.

Furthermore, the city should re-orientate startup field which must link with IT, high valued industries and cultural and creative industries because these are potential with fast growth.

An effective startup project can satisfy three criteria including offering employment, creating value for society and sustainable development.

A representative from the People’s Council's Economics and Budget Committee emphasized that there are a lot of startup support package. The Committee listened to opinions about difficulties and then make petition to city authorities to have assistance.

Besides, the HCMC Enterprise Association should have detailed assessment of support policies and propose support solutions for each difficulty they are facing so that city government can adopt more effective support policies to push up growth of enterprises generally and startup companies particularly.

Vietnam tax revenue down 2.4% in Jan-May   

Tax revenue in May suffered a sharp plunge of 36.9% year-on-year to VND58 trillion (US$2.52 billion).

The impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic led to a decline of 2.4% year-on-year in Vietnam’s tax revenue collection in the first five months of this year to VND499.83 trillion (US$21.73 billion), according to the General Department of Taxation. 

The department attributed the 15-day nationwide social distancing campaign from April 1 to 15, in which non-essential services and businesses were forced to close or scale down operation, to the fall in tax revenue.

Meanwhile, government’s supporting programs, including the extension of payment deadline for land rental fees and taxes for enterprises, organizations and individuals affected by the pandemic, also contributed to the decline.

Notably, tax revenue in May suffered a sharp plunge of 36.9% year-on-year to VND58 trillion (US$2.52 billion), of which, revenue from crude oil fell by 74.9% and that of domestic sources dropped 34.2%.

Among measures to mitigate negative impacts on the state budget, the taxman aims to tighten the value-added tax refund process and recover at least 80% of tax arrears incurred before December 31, 2019, along with the reduction of tax debts in 2020 to below 5% of the total.

In the five-month period, tax authorities recovered VND12.37 trillion (US$538 million) in tax arrears, equivalent to 29.5% of the total recoverable amount at the end of 2019, and up 5.8% year-on-year. 

Tax authorities are expected to closely monitor operations and tax payment process of enterprises.

In the first five months of 2020, Vietnam had 48,341 newly established enterprises, down nearly 5,500 enterprises compared to the same period last year.

According to the General Department of Taxation, as of June 1, the agency has received 128,684 claims to defer taxes and land rental fees payment with an amount of VND36.96 trillion (US$1.6 billion).

The process of applying for extension of tax payment has now been integrated into the national portal of public online services, aiming to create convenience for the business community and individuals.

At a government meeting in early April, Minister of Finance Dinh Tien Dung said in case the pandemic ends within this quarter, the country's GDP growth would come in at 5.3% and if oil prices average at US$35 per barrel, the state budget may lose VND140 – 150 trillion (US$6 – 6.43 billion). The losses would be bigger if GDP grows by less than 5%.

The Ministry of Finance estimated fiscal deficit could increase to 5 – 5.1% of GDP, significantly higher than the target of 3.4% (excluding debt principal repayments) set in December 2019.

Hanoi’s tourism gradually recovers from Covid-19 impacts

The city’s tourism industry saw a slight increase in number of tourists in May compared to April.

With a total of 258,000 arrivals, the tourist influx to Hanoi increased by 6.1% in May compared to April, according to the Hanoi Department of Tourism.

The arrivals in May dropped by 87.7% inter-annually due to impacts from the Covid-19 pandemic. Of the total 258,000 tourists in May, international arrivals to Hanoi increased 41.2% compared to April to 12,000, while domestic tourists jumped 811% against April to reach 246,000. Foreign visitors are mainly expats, diplomats as Vietnam still bans foreign entry.

There were about 400 foreign tourists making overnight stay in Hanoi last month, according to the city’s Immigration Department.

In the first five months of 2020, Hanoi welcomed 4.13 million tourists, a decrease of 64.5% compared to the same period last year. Revenue from tourists to the city was VND16.6 trillion (US$713.2 million), representing an inter-annual fall of 59.3%.

The occupancy rate of hotels in the city reached 19.26% in May, up 6.46 percentage points from April, but still down 51.74 percentage points from a year earlier.

In the five-month period, hotels in the city had 32.25% of their rooms filled up, down 38.37% percentage points from the same period of 2019.

From May 14, many relic sites and tourist destinations in Hanoi, such as Temple of Literature, Hoa Lo Prison, Thu Le Park, Ngoc Son Temple, and museums, reopened to visitors after a period of the closure to prevent the Covid-19 pandemic.

To revive the tourism industry, Hanoi plans to focus on building typical tourist packages, the highlights are among which are the “Thang Long Tu Tran” (Hanoi’s four sacred temples) tour in the inner city and visits to craft villages and eco-tourism in suburban areas.

Singapore’s April retail sales see biggest drop in 35 years

Singapore's retail sales in April plummeted 40.5 percent compared to the same period last year – the biggest drop since 1985.

According to data released by the Department of Statistics on June 5, this was a much steeper fall than the 13.3 percent decline in March and marks 15 straight months that retail sales have decreased.

Sellers of discretionary items were hit the hardest by these moves, with the sales of watches and jewellery dropping 87.8 percent. Retailers of wearing apparel and footwear also saw takings drop 85.3 percent.

Sales at department stores and motor vehicle sales plunged 84.6 percent and 77 percent, respectively.

However, sales at supermarkets and hypermarkets rose 74.6 percent, while minimarts and convenience stores also saw an increase in takings of 10.7 percent.

Estimated total retail revenue of the country in April was about 2.1 billion SGD (1.5 billion USD), with online sales making up around 17.8 percent, more than double the share in March./.

Entrepreneurs hail ratification of EVFTA, EVIPA

Many business owners in the southern province of Dong Nai, a major industrial hub in Vietnam, have expressed delight at the National Assembly (NA) ratifying the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) and the Investment Protection Agreement (EVIPA) on June 8.

Nguyen Ngoc Tuan, Director of the Viet A Tax-Accounting-Law Co. Ltd in Bien Hoa city, said the two deals are of critical importance as they reflect Vietnam’s increasing integration into the global economy. They also show that the EU and its members attach importance to and highly value the country’s economic development potential.

Vietnam is one of ASEAN’s two largest exporters to the EU, he went on, noting that the ratification of the agreements will help reduce its export dependence on certain markets and bolster shipments to the EU, especially leather footwear, garments, and agricultural products.

The EVFTA and EVIPA will also help the country press on with improving its business climate to match international practice, he said.

To capitalise on the advantages generated by the two deals, he believed domestic firms should comprehensively study their regulations and commitments while enhancing their own governance to boost competitiveness.

Ministries and other central agencies also need to publicise the EVFTA and EVIPA to help businesses make use of the opportunities and must also amend the legal framework where necessary to ensure the interests of all enterprises, he suggested.

Echoing that view, Dang Tuong Khanh, Director of the Trong Duc Cocoa Company in Dong Nai’s Dinh Quan district, said the agreements will bring about considerable opportunities for Vietnam’s agriculture sector.

He took cocoa as an example, explaining that most of the major processing facilities around the world are currently located in Europe and primarily use materials imported from Africa. The majority of cocoa trees on the continent, however, are quite old and output and quality are on the decline. Given this, European processors are seeking new material suppliers.

Vietnamese cocoa, meanwhile, has been highly valued around the world and he proposed that authorities prepare detailed development strategies to help it enter the European market.

The State needs to pay greater attention to agricultural processing, Khanh added, as Vietnam is home to a number of quality farm products but processing remains weak, which has hampered product competitiveness./.