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Eximbank delays AGM to June 30, adjusting business plan for 2020

The Viet Nam Export Import Commercial Bank (Eximbank) plans to delay its Annual General Meeting of Shareholders (AGM) to June 30 due to the impacts of COVID-19, announced its leaders.

The initial meeting was scheduled to be held in April.

Difficulties and interruptions inflicted by COVID-19 also caused Eximbank's Board of Directors to adjust the business plan for 2020.

This year, Eximbank aims to drastically reduce operating costs by VND326 billion (US$14 million), down 11 per cent compared to the original plan.

It plans to raise VND147.8 trillion this year, down 8 per cent compared to the initial plan. Outstanding loans are estimated to reach VND122.3 trillion, down 4 per cent compared to the original plan.

With the above adjustments, the profits generated from core business activities are set to decrease by 10.3 per cent.

The settlement of collateral of customers with bad debts and the settlement debts at the Viet Nam Asset Management Company (VAMC) have been postponed until next year, causing the total pre-tax profit in 2020 to sharply fall by 40 per cent to VND1.3 trillion compared to the original plan set for 2020 but still up 22 per cent compared to the results achieved in 2019.

Currently, the bank’s capital adequacy ratio (CAR) stands at 10.5 per cent, fulfiling the CAR requirement of 8 per cent as per Basel II norms starting in 2020.

The ratio of short-term funds used for medium- and long-term loans is 31 per cent, still under the maximum limit of 40 per cent.

The loan-to-deposit ratio (LDR) is kept at 81.2 per cent, under the maximum ratio of 85 per cent and other liquidity safety ratios are guaranteed within the permissible thresholds as prescribed by the State Bank. 

VNDirect buys three million shares of Dong Nai Port

A view of Dong Nai Port, managed by Dong Nai Port JSC in the southern province of Dong Nai. — Photo

VNDirect Securities Corporation (VNDS) has announced it bought three million shares of Dong Nai Port JSC (PDN).

After the purchase, VNDS’s holdings in PDN reached 16.1 per cent.

The transaction was executed on May 13, the same day that the Vietnam Electrical Equipment Joint Stock Corporation (Gelex or GEX) sold three million shares of PDN, reducing its ownership in PDN to 765,000 shares, equivalent to 4.13 per cent.

It is likely that this was the transaction between the two organisations with a value of VND200 billion (US$8.6 million), meaning that the price of each share was VND67,000.

Dong Nai Port JSC is currently the owner of the seaport in the southern province of Dong Nai.

The company was established in 1989 and equitised in 2006, with the current chartered capital of VND185 billion.

Shareholders of Dong Nai Port now include Sonadezi Corporation holding 51 per cent of the capital, VNDirect with 16.1 per cent and Gelex keeping 4.13 per cent, in addition to other shareholders.

GEX’s divestment from Dong Nai Port showed GEX’s definitive intention to withdraw from the logistics sector, one of the company’s key operations besides electrical equipment, energy infrastructure and real estate.

Leaders of GEX acknowledged that companies involved in logistics bear direct risks caused by several specific characteristics related to the value chain in the industry. 

Checkable deposits see first decline since Q4, 2018

Checkable deposits saw a significant quarter-on-quarter decline as of the end of March, despite more payment accounts opened in the first three months of this year.

Statistics of the State Bank of Viet Nam showed that checkable deposits at payment accounts of individuals totalled VND476.5 trillion (US$20.5 billion) as of the end of March, nearly VND23.2 trillion lower than the end of 2019, or a quarter-on-quarter drop of 4.64 per cent.

This was the first drop in checkable deposits after five months of increases. This was also the biggest drop in many years. The most recent drop was in the third quarter of 2018 which saw the checkable deposits fall by VND5.3 trillion.

The number of payment accounts rose from more than 88.5 million at the end of last year to more than 90.8 million as of the end of March, however.

The average balance of payment accounts posted a quarter-on-quarter drop of 7.6 per cent to VND5.25 million at the end of March, after increasing consecutively from VND4.76 million in 2018.

Statistics of 22 banks which announced Q1 financial reports also showed that deposits at current accounts and savings accounts (CASA), of both individuals and organisations, fell by 11 per cent to VND113 trillion.

According to the central bank, the drop in checkable deposits was partly caused by enterprises’ withdrawal of cash in the first months of this year.

Statistics showed that the deposit of economic organisations fell by more than 4.8 per cent, or VND190 trillion to VND3.77 quadrillion as of the end of February.

Deposits of individuals rose by 3.91 per cent to more than VND5 quadrillion. 

Hai Duong ships first batch of litchi to Singapore, US, Australia

A ceremony was held in the northern province of Hai Duong on May 25 to launch a litchi harvest programme for export and mark the shipment of the first batch of litchi to Singapore, the US and Australia this year.

Particularly, Ameii Vietnam JSC exported the first container of litchi to Singapore while Rong Do production, trade and services Co. Ltd also shipped the first batch to Australia and the US.

Earlier, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Xuan Cuong visited a litchi cultivation zone in Thanh Son commune which is granted code to export to Japan, and Ameii Vientam farm produce processing plant in Thanh Xa commune, Thanh Ha district.

During the 2020 crop, the total litchi production is expected to near 230,000 tonnes.

Hai Duong is now home to 9,700ha of litchi cultivation, mostly in Thanh Ha district with about 3,600ha and Chi Linh city with 3,900ha. The total litchi output is estimated at 45,000 tonnes this year. The early lychee harvest is estimated to be 20,000 tonnes and the main crop is about 25,000 tonnes./.

German newswire: Vietnam upbeat about economic recovery

Germany’s DW newswire recently ran an article saying that Vietnam still aims for an economic growth of 5 percent this year despite global economic crisis and likely recession in some of its neighbouring countries.

It said the ambitious goal was announced by Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc during a recent online conference with thousands of local and foreign business representatives taking part.

The target is significantly higher than the prediction of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which announced that it is expecting Vietnam's gross domestic product (GDP) to grow 2.7 percent. Even that prediction puts Vietnam ahead of its neighbours and ensures that the country will continue to be Southeast Asia's fastest growing economy. The forecast growth rate, however, is in stark contrast with the 7 percent expansion of 2019.

By May 23, Vietnam had recorded 324 COVID-19 infections and zero death. The country hasn't seen new communuity infections in weeks. All recent infections have been imported cases of Vietnamese who were repatriated from countries that suffer from much severe outbreaks of the virus.

Experts believe that Vietnam was able to contain the virus because it acted quickly and decisively. The country decided to close schools, shut down borders and suspend international travel much earlier than other nations. It also set up quarantine camps, where tens of thousands of travellers arriving from overseas were quarantined for 14 days.

Vietnam receives praise from all over the world for how it has handled the outbreak. With the economy restarting, the country hopes to use this newly gained trust to attract more foreign investors and businesses, it said.

Adam McCarty, the chief economist of research and consultancy firm Mekong Economics, said Vietnam has shown the world that it can manage a complex threat as the coronavirus health crisis.

"They're showing that they can handle it much better than most European countries and the US. That's a signal to foreign investors and to foreign governments", he said./.

Cambodia bourse sees first bank listing

Cambodia's largest commercial bank Acleda listed on the country's stock market on May 25, making it the first lender to trade on the exchange.

Acleda Bank became the sixth firm to join the Cambodia Securities Exchange (CSX), which opened in 2011.

The bank has been operating since 1993 and its assets reached 6.1 billion USD as of the end of 2019.

Its Chairman and Managing Director In Channy said about 2,500 public investors became its shareholders on the day, opening a "new chapter" for Cambodia's financial sector.

He also downplayed the risks of debuting on the CSX during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Acleda's trading started at 16,200 riel (3.93 USD) per share and closed at 16,500 riel./.

Ha Giang, WB sign strategic cooperation framework for 2020-2025

The People’s Committee of the northern mountainous province of Ha Giang signed a strategic cooperation framework for the 2020 – 2025 period with the World Bank (WB) in Vietnam on May 25.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Nguyen Van Son said Ha Giang launched nine projects funded by the WB at a total cost of over 1.99 trillion VND (86.5 million USD) during 2011-2020, four of them have been put into use and the remaining are underway.

Under the new framework, the WB in Vietnam will partner with the Ha Giang authorities to develop green and sustainable tourism, transport infrastructure and health care, as well as offer water supply to residents at Dong Van karst plateau geopark.

WB Country Director in Vietnam Ousmane Dione suggested the province issue practical solutions to implement projects in key infrastructure, transport, clean water supply, environment hygiene, energy, start-ups and business.

He hoped that Ha Giang, as a poor province, will pool public consensus and involvement in building transport infrastructure. developing tourism and agriculture, and improving local livelihoods. He also pledged that the WB will stand side by side with the province during its development.

Secretary of the provincial Party Committee Dang Quoc Khanh, for his part, said the signing will lift bilateral ties to a strategic level during 2020-2025.

Earlier, Dione took a fact-finding trip to four local districts to learn more about their situation./.

Honda Vietnam posts motorbike sale increase

Honda Vietnam sold 2.6 million motorbikes in the 2020 financial year, a year-on-year increase of 0.5 percent.

The motorbike maker currently holds 79.7 percent of the market, Honda Vietnam released the information at an event on May 25 to review its activities in 2020 and launch plans for the 2021 financial year, which started from April and ends in next March.

The combined Vietnamese market in the 2020 fiscal year reached 3.2 million motorbikes, a decline of about 3.1 percent compared to the previous year.

In addition to domestic production and consumption, Honda Vietnam exported 181,600 completely-built-unit (CBU) motorbikes and spare parts for different markets, raking in 386.7 million USD, up 5.1 percent compared to the 2019 financial year.

It is also set to ship more than 177,500 CBU motorbikes abroad in the 2021 fiscal year, down 2.2 percent compared to the previous year./.

Quang Ninh: Tourism promotion efforts pay off

More than 170,000 tourists visited Quang Ninh between May 1 and 24 as a result of promotional programmes the northern coastal province has launched following the resumption of tourism activities this month after social distancing measures to tackle COVID-19 were eased, according to the local Tourism Department.

Of the total, 65,000 visited Ha Long Bay, which was recognised as a world natural heritage site by UNESCO in 1994 and 2000. On May 24 alone, the number of visitors to the bay topped 55,000.

The complex of Yen Tu monuments and landscapes and the Quang Ninh Museum welcomed close to 7,800 and 23,000 visitors, respectively.

Co To Island, another local attraction, hosted 4,000 holidaymakers last weekend, with the occupancy rate at one- to three-star hotels reaching 70 percent.

Quang Ninh is endowed with natural advantages in sea and island tourism. It has a coastline of more than 250 km and over 2,000 islands and islets, which account for two-thirds of Vietnam’s total.

The province welcomed just 1.54 million holidaymakers in the first four months of 2020, a year-on-year decline of 77 percent, due to COVID-19.

In early May, when the pandemic was brought under control, Quang Ninh launched a campaign to stimulate the local tourism sector, with the provincial People’s Council approving a tourism promotion programme for 2020 worth about 200 billion VND (8.6 million USD).

Starting from May 15, tickets to Ha Long Bay, Quang Ninh Museum, and the complex of Yen Tu monuments and landscapes are exempted for all visitors, both Vietnamese and foreigners, in May, June, and July and upcoming holidays. Passengers passing through Van Don International Airport will receive free round-trip bus transfers to Ha Long city and Uong Bi city until the end of the year.

In response to the campaign, major businesses such as Vingroup and Sungroup have launched various summer discount programmes. 

From May 16, local real estate giant Vingroup has been offering seven preferential packages for vacationers, including free return air tickets and free entry to the Vinwonders and Vinpearl safari parks for those who book rooms for two nights or more at Vinpearl Nha Trang, Phu Quoc, or Da Nang-Hoi An.

Meanwhile, Sungroup, one of the largest real estate developers in Vietnam, is providing a free programme worth 290,000 VND per passenger when they visit Ha Long Bay through Ha Long International Cruise Port.

Local tourism and services companies have teamed up in alliances by launching discount packages of between 30 and 50 percent./.

Philippines: Q1 metal production plunges due to COVID-19

The Philippines saw metal production falling nearly 11 percent to 24.86 billion peso (490 million USD) in the first quarter of this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, data from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) showed.

The lackluster start was attributed mainly to the disruption in the operations of mining projects throughout the country amid the pandemic where movements of people and supplies were restricted, the MGB said.

There was also zero production at one of the country’s major mining projects, Didipio Gold Project of OceanaGold Philippines located in Nueva Vizcaya, it explained.

Gold led the total metallic mineral production value with a 43 percent share at 10.66 billion peso (20 million USD), down 13 percent from a year earlier.

It was followed by the nickel group which accounted for 41 percent of the total production value during the period.

Revenues from copper production, which accounts for 15 percent of the total, fell 27 percent to 3.69 billion peso, mainly because of a 9-percent drop in copper price to 5,651.25 USD per tonne.

The production value of silver decreased 22 percent to 170 million peso as production fell 25 percent to over 6.33 tonnes.

Out of the 29 listed operating nickel mines, 11 reported their production while all the remaining 18 were either under care and maintenance programmé or reported zero production due to unfavorable weather conditions./.

COVID-19 pandemic causes severe losses for Indonesia’s railway industry

Managing director of Indonesia’s national railway company PT Kereta Api Indonesia (KAI), Didiek Hartantos, said its revenue has plummeted 24.2 billion rupiah (1.6 million USD) a day due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The company’s average daily turnover was previously from 20-25 billion rupiah (1.35-1.68 million USD), but since the outbreak has tumbled to 800 million rupiah (54,000 USD).

Hartantos said daily revenue of the country’s railway industry stood at 39 billion rupiah (2.6 million USD) in January but was down to 32 billion rupiah (2.1 million USD) in April. The revenue decline comes as the numbers of commuters travelling by long distance train and tram have both slipped.

To comply with large-scale social distancing regulations, long-distance trains and trams are only allowed to run at 50 percent and 35 percent of their passenger capacity, respectively. The number of passengers, however, is even less than that.

KAI is also preparing for the possibility that the pandemic will last until August and even December, which would result in losses of between 90 and 93 percent./.

Quang Ninh seeks ways to improve competitiveness

The northeastern province of Quang Ninh on May 25 held a conference to analyse the local PCI (Provincial Competitiveness Index) in 2019 and seek ways to improve its PCI quality this year.

The province looks to raise its PCI score from 73.4 points in 2019 to 75.3 points, and have eight component indexes in the top five, while the remaining two in the top 10 among the total 63 localities in the country.

Priority will be given to enhancing the score and ranking of three component indexes on market entry cost, land access and business support services.

Secretary of the provincial Party Committee Nguyen Xuan Ky said Quang Ninh should continue to promote the people’s right to mastery, facilitate the public’s engagement in building the local administration and enhance the people’s supervision and inspection of the operation of units in the political system, especially government agencies.

The province will also strive for a streamlined and efficient apparatus while tightening the Party’s leadership of State agencies at different levels. 

Quang Ninh topped the Provincial Competitiveness Index (PCI) ranking in 2019, the third year in a row, according to the PCI 2019 report released by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI).

Vu Tien Loc, Chairman of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry said Quang Ninh is home to several models of reform in the country, which helped the province rise to the top in attracting investment.

Besides the PCI, Quang Ninh also led the country in the Public Administration Reform Index (PAR Index) for three consecutive years (2017, 2018 and 2019). The province has always been among the top localities in Satisfaction Index of Public Administration Services (SIPAS), rising to the top position in 2019. It also made a great stride in improving governance and public administration capacity, moving from the 62nd place in 2016 to the third place in the Vietnam Provincial Governance and Public Administration Performance Index (PAPI) last year./.

Thailand identifies three driving forces for economic restart

Agriculture, tourism and state spending will be driving forces to rebooting the Thai economy in the second half of 2020, said Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak.

The state-owned Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC) is implementing a programme to bring technology to assist local communities and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the farm sector, he said.

The BAAC wants to help 100,000 local communities and 10,000 SMEs nationwide each year, he added.

Somkid said the government expects to allow domestic tourism in provinces with no COVID-19 cases by the third quarter to help tourism-related businesses.

The government's plan to splash 1 trillion baht (over 31 billion USD), especially 400 billion baht slated for economic and social rehabilitation through projects aimed at creating jobs, strengthening communities and building infrastructure, will also help stimulate the local economy in the remainder of the year, he added.

Thailand’s GDP in the first quarter of 2020 fell by 1.8 percent year-on-year after growth of 1.5 percent in the fourth quarter last year. This was the first contraction since 2014.

The dismal results prompted the National Economic and Social Development Council (NESDC) to cut its economic forecast to a contraction of 5-6 percent this year, down from the 1.5-2.5 percent growth projection issued in February./.

Thailand: COVID-19 presents no hurdle for RCEP negotiations

Thailand is expecting the signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) to go forward this year as the COVID-19 is presenting no hurdles for the trade deal, the negotiations of which can be sped up through video conferencing.

Local media quoted Ronnarong Phoolpipat, Commerce Ministry Chief Inspector-General and chief negotiator of RCEP for Thailand, as saying the pandemic is expected to hamper already-delayed RCEP negotiations because scheduled meetings were cancelled to follow travel ban lockdown measures in member state countries.

However, recent trade negotiations and meetings via video conference were surprisingly efficient and helpful, he said.

Trade negotiators have completed many negotiation issues during the past two months, the official said, adding that it is faster and saves time and costs.

The pandemic brings a new normal situation to trade negotiations, he noted.

He said RCEP dialogue partners are reviewing legal texts and expect the process to finish in July so the pact can be signed later in the year during the ASEAN Summit.

The RCEP is a proposed free trade agreement between the 10 ASEAN member states and six dialogue partners – China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, India, Australia, and New Zealand. India withdrew from the deal last year./.

Cambodia’s GDP to fall 0.3 percent in 2020: Moody’s

Cambodia’s GDP growth is projected to drop 0.3 percent due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and economic slowdowns in China, the EU and the US, Moody’s Investors Service has said.

According to Moody’s Vice President and Senior Analyst Anushka Shah, Cambodia is particularly exposed to a slowdown in China given their extensive economic linkages.

China represented 43 percent of foreign direct investment in Cambodia while Chinese tourists accounted for 36 percent of arrivals to the Southeast Asian nation in 2019, he said.

Moody’s said Cambodia’s latest credit profile reflected the country’s “solid growth prospects” as well as its “moderate and highly affordable debt burden.”

Economic slumps in the EU and the US “will hurt demand for Cambodian goods” and that any sharp decline in asset prices “could pose economic and financial stability risks”.

However, the US credit rating agency also forecast that Cambodia’s GDP will rebound by almost 6.0 percent in 2021.

The overall outlook for the country is “stable,” it said./.

More than half of travel companies in HCM City reopen

Around 60 percent of travel companies in HCM City have resumed operating while the rest are expected to regain business in the fourth quarter of the year, according to the city’s Department of Tourism.

Travel companies specialising in inbound and bound markets, however, must wait to reopen when foreign tourists are allowed to enter the country again, according to Nguyen Thi Anh Hoa, deputy director of the department.

Travel agencies are now focusing on domestic air travel as part of an effort to recover from the fall-out caused by COVID-19, Hoa said.

Most travel companies are seeking help from the Government’s relief package so they can remain in business.

The department has submitted to the State Bank of Vietnam’s HCM City branch a list of 50 travel firms in need of aid packages from the Government and banks.

Travel firms are coordinating with airlines, hotels and resorts, restaurants and tourist spots to develop tour stimulus packages discounted by 50-60 percent.

Tours from HCM City to the Central Highlands for two days, for example, have discounts of 500,000-1 million VND (21-42 USD) and are sold for 1-1.5 million VND (42-64 USD) per person.

Tours to destinations in the north are priced at 4.5 million VND (193 USD) per person, down from 7 million VND (300 USD).

Many travel companies have reported a rise in the number of domestic travel bookings in the past few days.

A Vietravel representative said there has been a surge in bookings for car and hotel services, but the number of tour package bookings remains modest./.

Tien Giang province to aid travel businesses hit by COVID-19

Businesses in the Mekong Delta province of Tien Giang hit hard by COVID-19 are seeking support, including deadline extensions for tax payments, from the provincial authorities.

Director of the provincial Department of Culture, Sport and Tourism Nguyen Duc Dam said that more than 1,200 businesses, households and clubs in the fields of culture, tourism and sport had to stop operating due to COVID-19.

In the first quarter, Tien Giang received over 375,000 tourists and earned 160 billion VND (6.9 million USD) in tourism revenue, a drop of 43 percent and 50 percent, respectively, year-on-year.

Phan Hoai Lam, deputy director of Saigontourist's branch in the province, said that revenue had dropped drastically and there were no foreign tourists. Domestic tourism had just started to pick up, he added.

Lam said his company was looking for tax reductions and extended deadlines for social insurance and VAT payments.

Nguyen Thi My Trang, deputy director of Lang Viet Travel Co., Ltd, said she hoped that local authorities would lower land rent and insurance fees and extend payment deadlines.

The Tien Giang Tourism Association has asked authorities to lower bank loan interest rates and extend payment deadlines.

The association said that loans with low interest rates are needed for organisations in the fields of tourism, sport and culture. To help those businesses recover, reduction in land rent fees and extension of payment deadlines are needed as well.

Dam said the department had been working with other agencies to carry out policies from the central and local governments to assist businesses affected by COVID-19.

In the future, departments would develop a media campaign on safe travel to Vietnam and Tien Giang to encourage tourism.

The province would also help businesses improve tourism products and build tourism stimulation programmes.

Dam said that tourism businesses should provide newer tourism products and services, and that departments should focus on promoting tourism and work cooperatively with HCM City, Hanoi and Mekong Delta provinces./.

Cambodia approves five projects to create jobs for locals

The Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC) has recently approved five investment projects worth 174.8 million USD that are expected to generate 2,458 jobs for locals.

The projects include the construction of a five-star hotel and facilities serving solar power production in the provinces of Preah Sihanouk, Kampong Speu, Battambang, and Svay Rieng.

Investment pouring into the country amid the spread of COVID-19 manifests investors’ confidence in the country’s macro-economic conditions and political and social stability.

The number of jobs to be created, however, cannot fully compensate for those lost, as thousands of Cambodian workers are still unable to return to work in Thailand. The EU, meanwhile, is likely to revoke the Everything But Arms (EBA) trade preference scheme for Cambodia in August, which will add to unemployment numbers.

Some 55,000 apparel workers and 4,300 people working in the tourism industry who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic will receive financial assistance of 40 USD per person per month, starting next week.

The Garment Manufacturing Association in Cambodia (GMAC) said about 180 plants have ceased production while another 60 or so will do so shortly, affecting 150,000 workers./.

Trà Vinh expands organic coconut cultivation

Another organic coconut area in the Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta province of Trà Vinh has achieved international organic standards, according to the province’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The 220ha organic coconut area, which is owned by 202 farmers in Tân Hòa Commune, has met US Department of Agriculture (USDA) organic standards and European Union organic standards. 

The area has been guaranteed outlets by the Asia Coconut Processing Joint Stock Company in Bến Tre Province.

This is the second organic coconut area in the province to be awarded international organic certificates.

In 2018, a 327ha organic coconut area of 348 farmers in Càng Long District’s Đại Phước Commune met USDA organic standards, EU organic standards, and Japanese Agricultural Standards.

The 327ha organic coconut area has been guaranteed outlets by the Bến Tre Import and Export Joint Stock Corporation (Betrimex).

Nguyễn Ngọc Hài, deputy director of the province’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said the organic coconut model links the State, scientists, companies and farmers.  

The department has used funds from the province’s Small- and Medium-Sized Company Development Project to give instructions in organic-coconut growing techniques to farmers.

The province’s organic coconut areas are guaranteed by companies and are paid a price of 10-15 per cent higher than the market price, she said.

In Trà Vinh, which is the second largest coconut producer in the delta after Bến Tre Province, more companies are co-operating with farmers to grow organic coconut to international standards.

The Lương Qưới Coconut Co. Ltd in Bến Tre Province is working with farmers to establish a 150ha organic coconut in Trà Vinh City’s Long Đức Commune.

The Trà Vinh-based Trà Bắc Joint Stock Company is also working with farmers to develop 300ha in Tiểu Cần District’s Phú Cần, Hùng Hòa and Ngãi Hùng communes.

Trà Vinh has more than 23,000ha coconut, mostly in Châu Thành, Tiểu Cần and Càng Long districts.

The province has 50 companies and co-operatives that specialise in producing coconut-related products like coconut milk, coconut oil, dried coconut flakes, coal and threads.

In recent years, the provincial authorities have implemented many projects to develop sustainable coconut cultivation, including new coconut varieties and coconut-related products.

The province’s well-known variety is sáp coconut, a specialty with soft and thick pulp, which is grown only in Cầu Kè District, which has the most suitable conditions for the fruit. Sáp coconut has high economic value and is resistant to alum-affected soil and saltwater intrusion.

Cao Văn Lùng, who has planted sáp coconut for 13 years in Cầu Kè’s Hòa Tân Commune, said the coconut is sold at a price of VNĐ90,000-120,000 (US$3.9-5.1) each. It offers a profit of more than 10 times higher than other coconut varieties.

Farmers earn more than VNĐ200 million ($8,750) per hectare of sáp coconut a year, according to farmers.

Sáp coconut is used mostly for desserts like coconut shake, ice cream and jam.    

Cầu Kè has more than 1,000ha of sáp coconut. 

Bac Giang seeks for more chances for exporting lychees to Singapore

Bac Giang Province will have a good opportunity to find partners for exporting its lychees to Singapore at an online trade fair held at the end of this month.

Le Hoang Tai, deputy director general of the Viet Nam Trade Promotion Agency under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, said the online Viet Nam-Singapore Agricultural Trade Fair 2020 will be held on May 29-30 in cooperation with the Singapore Business Federation.

The Viet Nam Trade Promotion Agency and the Trade Office of Viet Nam in Singapore will assist Bac Giang to promote export of Bac Giang lychees to the Singapore market.

Tran Thu Quynh, trade counselor in Singapore, said that besides Vietnamese lychees imported by Chinese traders to Singapore with a small quantity, this market is importing lychees from Thailand and Taiwan, but the Singapore market likes Vietnamese lychees due to their good taste.

Tai said strengthening trade promotion activities for Vietnamese lychees in general and Bac Giang lychees in particular in the Singapore market is a good solution to increase Vietnamese lychees being directly exported to Singapore.

Besides that, the exports to this Southeast Asian country would force local enterprises to find measures on improving preservation and transportation of lychees to ensure the quality of this fresh fruit, he said.

The online trade fair would be a good chance for Bac Giang to promote exports of its famous lychees to Singapore.

Tran Quang Tan, director of Bac Giang Department of Industry and Trade, said this year this province has a total area of 28,000ha growing lychees with an estimated total output of 160,000 tonnes.

Of which, there are 15,000ha planting lychees according to VietGAP standards and 218ha developed under GlobalGAP standards.

The US has granted IRADS (Irradiation Reporting and Accountability Database) codes for 19 areas growing lychees in Bac Giang to permit the provincial lychees to be exported to this market.

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

Lychee production hubs seek to boost consumption amid export difficulty

Viet Nam’s lychee production hubs in the North have entered the early harvest season this year and are preparing plans for its flagship fruit consumption amid export difficulties due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On total cultivation areas of more than 28,100ha, Bac Giang Province expects to harvest 160,000 tonnes of lychees this year, up 10,000 tonnes over 2019, of which 45,000 tonnes are early maturing lychees collected during May 20 and June 10.

The main crop is scheduled for harvest between June 10 and July 10 with an estimated volume of 115,000 tonnes.

In the 2020 crop, the cultivation area produced by VietGAP standards in the province has reached 15,000 hectares with estimated output of 110,000 tonnes, accounting for more than 50 per cent of the total cultivation areas and 68.7 per cent of total output.

In previous years, about 50 per cent of lychee production used to be consumed locally while another 50 per cent was exported, mainly to China. However, the export of the fruit this year is expected to decrease due to the pandemic, especially when China also increased its cultivation areas.

Bac Giang Province has prepared specific plans and scenarios for promoting local fruit consumption, targeting local consumers and diversifying export markets to Japan, the United States, Australia, Europe and ASEAN countries besides China.

The province will organise an online promotion conference on a national scale on June 6 with attendance of leaders of many ministries, representatives of foreign embassies in Viet Nam and corporations and distribution businesses.

The provincial Department of Industry and Trade said that large distribution groups such as Aeon, Central Group and Mega Market have worked with local lychee traders in Bac Giang for the signing of purchasing contracts.

These groups will also help export local lychees to Thailand, Singapore, the US and the EU.

In addition, 28 other distribution companies, six wholesale markets, and 31 enterprises and cooperatives both in and outside the province have registered to consume this season’s lychees.

For export, as of May 18, 250 Chinese traders registered to cometo Luc Ngan District to buy lychees. Besides, Bac Giang authorities have coordinated with the Plant Protection Department to ask the Japanese side to approve 19 cultivation area codes covering an area of 103ha to be able to export the first batch of fresh lychees to Japan by the end of this month.

Meanwhile, Hai Duong Province is also ready for the early lychee harvest. Output of the Thanh Ha District is estimated to reach 35,000 tonnes this year with quality expected to be better than last year.

The province is also seeking to increase consumption in the local market through sales to supermarkets and agricultural product processing companies to offset the declining demand from oversea markets, especially China.

According to Hoang Thi Thuy Ha, vice chairwoman of the Thanh Ha District People's Committee, the district will continue working with local departments to invite businesses and traders to the locality to buy lychees. Although exports will be difficult due to the pandemic, consumption of lychees will not be in trouble if it takes full advantage of the domestic market, she said.

Many businesses have visited and surveyed lychee gardens such as Big C, Thuan Thien Investment and Development Joint Stock Company, Ikon Food and Biggreen Vietnam. Companies such as Hai Duong Agricultural Products and Foodstuff Joint Stock Company, Ha Noi Trade Corporation (Hapro) and other supermarkets such as Co.opmart, Vinmart and Intimex also have plans to buy local lychees. 

Agricultural sector keen to capitalise on EVFTA opportunities

The European Union-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) is poised to offer a wealth of opportunities to boost the export of Vietnam’s agricultural and aquatic products once it comes into full effect, according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

The EVFTA is poised to offer a wealth of opportunities to boost the export of the country’s agricultural and aquatic products
It is expected that the export growth of rice, sugar, forest products, cattle and poultry, and seafood will increase by 65%, 8%, 4%, 3%, 4% and 2% respectively, between 2020 and 2030.

In line with the effects of the EVFTA, the agricultural sector is forecast to become one of the largest beneficiaries of the trade pact with an array of tariffs placed on several Vietnamese products such as broken rice and grain products being slashed to 0%.

With regard to fruit and vegetables, the EU has committed to eliminating import duties immediately after the EVFTA comes into effect. In terms of fisheries, approximately 50% of tariff lines are set to be abolished, while the remaining 50% of tariff lines will also be removed over the course of the subsequent five to seven years.

In addition, further international economic integration is expected to create a wave of new jobs for local farmers from agriculture and other fields, therefore serving to improve the lives of farmers.

As a result, the EVFTA is predicted to facilitate greater investment for the local agricultural sector, contribute to further technological transfer, and restructure production activities. These efforts will increase output and quality in terms of farm produce, thus helping domestic agricultural products to gradually meet the stringent standards placed on them by the European market.

Despite these positives, the country’s agricultural products must strive to overcome a number of EU technical barriers in terms of the rule of origin, quality, and intellectual property protection if they are to make inroads into the market.

Due to small-scale agricultural production, local farmers and businesses in agriculture must be proactive in improving production capacity and product quality, seeking out new markets and developing brands for local farm produce.

It is anticipated that the EVFTA will boost the country’s exports to the EU by 42.7% in 2025 and by 44.37% in 2030 once the trade deal takes full effect.

Vietnam, Canada work to optimise benefits of CPTPP

Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh has suggested agencies in Vietnam and Canada to devise a mechanism to exchange information and handle trade defence cases.

Anh made the request during a video conference with Canadian Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade Mary Ng on May 25.

The meeting aimed to bolster bilateral cooperation and maximise the benefits of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), paving the way for businesses of both nations to access trade and investment information as the economies gradually recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the event, Anh spoke highly of the two countries’ efforts to effectively implement the CPTPP, with detailed action plans to create favourable conditions for firms to make inroads into and explore each other’s markets.

Relevant agencies has promptly and efficiently dealt with problems incurred during the implementation of the agreement, he noted, facilitating Vietnamese firms’ participation in the CPTPP and Vietnam-Canada trade relations.

The Vietnamese minister suggested the two countries enhance connectivity in the supply chain, production and exports, particularly of face masks and personal protective equipment in the wake of the pandemic.

Vietnam and Canada need to strengthen trade promotions both offline and online, he added.

Canada has been invited to be an Honorary Country at the Vietnam International Food Industry Exhibition (Vietnam FoodExpo) this year, which is expected to bolster cooperation in the fields of agriculture, industry and trade, he said.

Anh took the occasion to thank the Canadian Government for providing technical assistance for Vietnam in the framework of the Canadian Trade and Investment Facility for Development (CTIF) and the Expert Deployment Mechanism for Trade and Development (EDM) projects.

He asked the Canadian side to consider the establishment of an inter-governmental committee on economy and trade to share information, review cooperation and discuss measures for economic, trade and investment ties.

Vietnam will improve its investment climate and create optimal conditions for Canadian projects, Anh pledged, voicing his hope that the new cooperation mechanism will foster investment in strategic sectors of mutual concern.

For her part, Mary Ng underlined the important role of Vietnam, which is Canada’s largest trade partner in Southeast Asia, in its trade diversification strategy towards the Asia-Pacific region.

Echoing Anh’s views, she said the two ministries need an enhanced cooperation mechanism to help firms access information and increase capacity to overcome the difficulties caused by the economic recession and the ongoing pandemic.

As Vietnam is holding the ASEAN Chair in 2020, the Canadian minister hoped that the country will support Canada’s talks on free trade agreements with other ASEAN members and its run for a non-permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council for the 2021-2022 tenure.

The two ministers agreed to hold regular video conferences at all levels to carry out activities, bolster trade and promptly remove bottlenecks for businesses, contributing to the bilateral economic partnership.

Two-way trade has been on the rise in recent years, the ministers noted, especially since the CPTPP took effect. The figure hit US$4.77 billion in 2019, a year-on-year surge of 23%. Vietnam exported goods worth around US$3.91 billion to Canada last year.

In the first four months of 2020, bilateral trade reached US$1.42 billion despite the complex developments of COVID-19, seeing a marginal decline of 2.8% compared to the same period last year.

Tourism sector focuses on developing domestic market

Since the Covid-19 pandemic has been brought under control in Vietnam, the tourism sector, which was affected most by the epidemic, has made initial “ice-breaking” steps to rejuvenate itself.

Accordingly, the development of the domestic tourism market is considered to be of the utmost importance during this time.

According to a report on outbound travel in Vietnam, which was conducted in 2019 by Outbox Consulting – a pioneering company in research and consulting solutions customised to destinations in Vietnam, the number of Vietnamese tourists traveling abroad has been increasing by 10-15% per year and was expected to rise by 9.5% by 2021. However, due to Covid-19, Vietnamese people’s foreign travel will be greatly reduced, offering an opportunity for the tourism sector to promote the domestic market.

A representative from Google Asia-Pacific also said that since the second half of April, when social distancing orders were eased in Vietnam, searches for domestic flights have accounted for 85%; searches related to sea tourism have doubled and those for national parks have increased 25%.

The figures show that Vietnamese people’s demand for domestic travel has been relatively high. While international tourism activities have not been able to resume, the sector should thoroughly grasp this “golden opportunity” to promote the domestic market, contributing to gradually increasing the total number of tourists as well as improving the difficult position of many travel enterprises. However, people’s incomes have been affected due to Covdi-19; therefore, attractive stimulus programmes are one initial solution to stimulate the domestic tourism market.

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism recently launched a programme entitled “Vietnamese people travel Vietnam”, aiming to attract the proactive participation of localities, airlines and travel enterprises to rejuvenate the domestic tourism market, while ensuring regulations on epidemic prevention and control for tourists, employees and community are abided by. With an implementation period of June 1 to December 31, the programme focuses on these key tasks: promoting attractive destinations and products; building and developing high-quality stimulus packages together with reasonable prices, the collaboration and cooperation and high level of commitment of service providers offering package deals or other services..

The Vietnam Tourism Association (VTA) on May 16 officially launched a national programme to stimulate domestic tourism, which will be implemented across two stages, the first from May 15 to July 15 and the second from July 15 until the end of this year. Under the programme, several principles have been highlighted, including ensuring safety for visitors, reducing prices but not reducing service quality or maintaining prices but adding more benefits. The relevant agencies should also pay significant attention to improving uniqueness and providing diverse promotions for the various stimulus products.

Vice Chairman of the VTA Vu The Binh said that the response of over 150 businesses, representing travel enterprises around the world, has shown their determination to rejuvenate the domestic market, helping the Vietnamese tourism sector regain its growth momentum. Despite being one of industries which suffered the most severe damage due to Covid-19, tourism has the ability to recover quickly and contribute to boosting other economic sectors.

The best evidence for the efforts to revive the country’s domestic tourism market is the fact that many participants in the tourism service supply chain have shared their difficulties and cooperated to create products with a high degree of competitiveness both in terms of quality and price. A series of provinces and cities, which are major destinations in the country, have applied a free admission policy and discounted sightseeing fees by 20-50% for visitors to famous landscapes and entertainment areas. Many accommodation establishments around the country simultaneously reduced the prices of room rates and services. The national flag carrier Vietnam Airlines, in collaboration with the VTA, has deployed the programme “Vietnamese tourism – bright destination”. The airline has also cooperated with prestigious travel companies, such as Hanoitourist, Saigontourist, Vietrantour, Vietravel and Hanoi Redtours, to offer tours with special discounts of up to 40% for groups of at least six tourists who travel between May 15 and December 31. Air tickets are included in the package distributed by travel agents. Director of Hanoitourist Company, Phung Quang Thang, noted that during this time, people are still a little nervous when considering travel, so enterprises should provide products that can both meet travelers’ demand and also help them feel secure.

Online transactions will "bloom" after Covid-19. Accordingly, tourists can book air tickets, hotel rooms and other services from the comfort of their home. However, they need to have some experience of this and also spend a lot of time “hunting” for cheap tickets and room rates. Therefore, travel businesses who can boost their digital transformation and quickly offer packages with reasonable prices and a professional service that meets the new demand of customers, will gain worthy results.

Many travel agencies have also launched their own products and strategies in order to promote domestic tourism. Hanoi Redtours his providing families with attractive tours with discounts of 30-50%; meanwhile, Vietravel has built packages with discounts of up to 50%. Grasping the backpacking trend, the companies have also added retail products and services, including booking hotels and air tickets as well as car rental. For example, the AZA Travel Company has introduced various attractive services, with discounts of up to 70% for air tickets and hotels and up to 50% off on vouchers to luxury resorts around the country. 

It can be seen that Covid-19 epidemic is also an opportunity for travel enterprises to face their challenges and examine themselves. As a result, they will be more resistant and adaptive to the fluctuations of nature and society. The tourism sector should also truly appreciate the importance of domestic tourism development because it must be considered a strategy for sustainable development with a high potential of creating cyclical local revenue flows.


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