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Long Thanh International Airport may be kicked off in late 2020

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The Ministry of Transport is urging Airport Corporations of Vietnam (ACV) in collaboration with the consultant unit to complete the feasibility study on the first phase of Long Thanh International Airport and submit it to the prime minister and the State Appraisal Council in June so that the construction of the project can be kicked off in October 2020.

There are a number of important milestones from now until the construction is implemented. Notably, the State Appraisal Council will study the feasibility study for two months from June to August., after which it will be submitted to the National assembly for approval in November and then to the government for approval in December.

Between August 2021 and February 2022, the investor will organise a bid to select the contractor of the terminal segment.

Previously, in June 2018 ACV and the joint venture JFV (Japan, France, and Vietnam) signed a contract on consultancy and conducting a feasibility study for the first phase of the Long Thanh International Airport project.

After the third phase, the airport will be able to serve 100 million passengers and handle five million tonnes of cargo a year.
JFV includes Japan Airport Consultants (JAC – Japan), Nippon Koei (NK – Japan), Oriental Consultants Global (OCG – Japan), ADP Ingenierie (ADPi – France), Airport Design and Construction Consultancy (ADCC – Vietnam), and Transport Engineering Design Inc. Company (TEDI – Vietnam).

Covering a total area of more than 5,580 hectares, Long Thanh International Airport will be located in six communes in Long Thanh district, Dong Nai province.

The construction of the airport will cost VND336.63 trillion ($14.64 billion) and will be divided into three phases.

In the first phase, a runway and one passenger terminal, along with other supporting works, will be built to serve 25 million passengers and 1.2 million tonnes of cargo each year. This phase is expected to be completed by 2025.

In the second phase, one more runway and another passenger terminal will be built to serve around 50 million passengers and 1.5 million tonnes of cargo a year.

After the third phase, the airport will be able to serve 100 million passengers and handle five million tonnes of cargo a year.

Decree 37 brings local and central planning closer to dispel administrative bottleneck

After around one month of issuance, businesses remain concerned about the possible impacts of a new decree guiding the implementation of the Law on Planning on their future business strategies.

Vaibhav Saxena, lawyer at Vietnam International Law Firm, delves into how the new decree contributes to solving the congestion and stagnation of hundreds of projects, as well as removing problems in

The Law No.21/2017/QH14 or the Law on Planning was introduced in 2017, and it has significant impacts on the Vietnamese business environment. This law has improved the quality and efficiency of planning and adjusted current planning to market-based orientation and international integration.

However, it is yet to provide specifications on the obligation of the state and local agencies in conducting planning, time limitation, and detailed content requirements for planning formulation. Decree No.37/2019/ND-CP was issued on May 7, 2019 with a view to guiding the implementation of Law on Planning. Specifically, Decree 37 has provided certain noticeable regulations on the following issues.

First, the national planning in formulation and ­database systems shall be ­established and operated in the form of a portal connecting ministries, ministerial ­authorities, and provincial people’s committees in order to serve the purposes of formulating, enquiring, announcing, and providing information on planning, and supervising and assessing implementation. Competent authorities shall update the database of planning dossiers within the scope of administration to the online national system no later than 10 days from the date of planning approval.

Next, the time limitation for formulating national comprehensive, marine spatial, land use, and regional planning is 30 months, among which integration of planning for national comprehensive, national marine spatial, and regional planning shall be formulated within 18 months. For national sector planning and provincial planning, the time limitation is 24 months from the date of planning approval. The issuance and effect of Decree 37 shall contribute to solving the slowdown of hundreds of projects and other works, as well as removing problems in production and business activities across many sectors.

Third, by the year 2020, it is expected that Vietnamese enterprises shall be able to compete with global companies and reach sustainable development. The government’s targets also include increasing clarity and transparency of regulations and enhancing management effectiveness by simplifying procedures to shorten the timeline for granting approvals and permits.

Lastly, planning on different levels is being formulated with directions provided in Decree 37. Specific guidelines on these plans stipulated in Annex 2 and 3 of the decree boost synchronisation between levels of agencies, hence avoiding discrepancies during project appraisal.

In addition, since district planning has been integrated with the provincial planning, and the total number of planning is contracted in accordance with the issuance of the Law on Planning and Decree 37, procedures in project dossier submission for approval are simplified and more effective. Thus, the cost of time-consumption and resources that enterprises endure is cut down, leading to enterprises being able to enhance efficiency and keeping pace with emerging business opportunities.

With the introduction of a national information and database system as a portal connecting multilateral entities participating in the process of planning and project appraisal, the process is more transparent and effective. Since information and database must be updated within 10 days by the competent agencies under their scope of administration, dissemination of data among agencies and enterprises is to be more efficient. Enterprises will have better access to all planning approvals, project announcements, and notifications via the portal.

The draft planning is also required to be sent for enquiry on the national information and database system and announced on the official website of the agency formulating the planning. Objects of enquiry shall be the central committee of the Vietnam Fatherland Front, ministries, ministerial agencies, provincial people’s committees and resident communities, organisations, and individuals in relation to the planning.

Prior to the issuance of Decree 37, a number of ­national-level plans, regional plans, and provincial plans had been elaborated according to Article 58 of the Law on Planning. However, some of these plans are not ­properly prepared in accordance with detailed instructions on the contents and order of planning formulation, obtaining comments, and appraisal according to Decree 37. Therefore, if the government and the provincial governments decide to reorganise these plans, it shall have an impact on the resources and extend the planning time.

The Law on Planning ­regulates the national master plan as a basis for establishing national maritime spatial planning, national land use planning, regional planning, provincial planning, and urban planning. However, the system stipulated in the Law on Planning is different from the planning system developed for the 2011-2020 period.

Some plans have never been prepared such as national master plans or national marine spatial planning. Thus, there is currently no adequate zoning and regional orientation for regional planning. If the regional and provincial planning is made after the national master plan is approved, it may not guarantee the required progress for planning level for the 2021-2030 period.

The Law on Planning and even Decree 37 do not stipulate the adjustment of planning in the transition period until the regional, provincial, and national plans are approved. Therefore, if there is no mechanism in this transition period, the projects that are applying for additional planning may have to wait at least one to two years, that is, until 2021, to be approved.

Vietnam Railways signals for growth

Amid the growing trade across the ASEAN bloc, Vietnam’s railway industry is seeking new partnerships to ­develop the rail network in order to cash in on the growth potential ahead.

This week representatives of state-owned railway giant Vietnam Railways (VNR), which operate all railway lines in the country, visit China to work on a new partnership model, pinning high hopes of making positive changes in its future operations.

The visit follows a memorandum of understanding (MoU) late last week signed between VNR and a Chinese company, which is expected to make investment in Vietnam in train manufacturing, employing Vietnamese labourers, raw materials, and infrastructure. Trains will then be leased by VNR for about 10-15 years before taking ownership of them.

“This new partnership is an effective tool for Vietnam’s railway sector to develop amid limited capital for transport infrastructure development,” said Vu Anh Minh, VNR chairman. “As proven, train manufacturing is costly while its maintenance cost is huge. Thus, the partnership is expected to help us cut financial and maintenance costs, and improve capacity of the mechanical railway industry to meet demands of the domestic market.”

Also last week, VNR worked with AREP, a subsidiary of the French National Railway Company (SNCF), a world-leader in high-speed rail, on the possibilities of co-operating in investment in development of rail infrastructure, including railway stations.

VNR’s new moves show its positive mindset towards the market orientation by boosting co-operation with the private sector and international partners in order to tap into growing transportation demands, driven by regional growing trade. The railway corporation is now waiting for the completion of some regulatory frameworks to take the next steps with the French company.

Decree No.46/2018/ND-CP dated March 14, 2018 on management, use and operation of national railway infrastructure, is considered groundbreaking for the railway sector and for VNR, which has for years been the only manager and operator of state-owned national railway assets.

Accordingly, under Decree 46, national railway infrastructure assets are divided into two categories. The first is the assets directly used for train operation such as railways, bridges, tunnels, and rails. The second is the assets indirectly used for train operation such as the station square, warehouses, inland container depots (ICDs), and service and training facilities. The assets indirectly used for train operation will be handed over to VNR to own, use, and develop the equivalent state capital.

The move will enable the giant to take the initiative with its investment plans and to be looked upon more favourably when calling for private investment in upgrading stations and logistics facilities, and developing stations that enjoy commercial advantages.

“For the assets indirectly used for train operation, the railway operator plans to co-operate with other funders to invest in developing ICDs and warehouses along the railway network from Song Than Station in the southern province of Binh Duong, to Dong Anh Station in Hanoi, and then to Lao Cai and Dong Dang to increase transportation capacity,” Minh added.

The opportunities for domestic and foreign private investors will increase when VNR dumps its monopoly in cargo transport by merging with Hanoi Railway Transport JSC and Saigon Railway Transport JSC into one joint stock company, due to take place next year. The new company would then be split into two, with one part specialising in passengers, in which VNR would hold a controlling stake, and another part focusing on cargo transport with VNR possibly divesting the stake.

The Vietnamese railway industry, with 2018 revenues estimated to have risen by 8-10 per cent on-year, has been attracting growing interest among international investors from the likes of Japan, France, China, Germany, and the US, who are all seeking business opportunities in anticipation of huge future demands to upgrade and develop the system.

Currently, the ASEAN represents a market of about 650 million people and a regional GDP of over $2.4 trillion. Intra-ASEAN trade is about a quarter of the ASEAN’s total trade. The bloc is now Vietnam’s fourth-biggest export market behind the EU, the US, and China.

According to the General Statistics Office, Vietnam’s export turnover to the ASEAN region was $21.7 billion in 2017, up 24.5 per cent on-year, and increased to $24.7 billion last year. The figure hit 8.4 billion in the first four months of 2019, up 7.3 per cent on-year.

However, Vietnam’s downgraded railway network, which currently connects to international markets via the Haiphong-Lao Cai and the Hanoi-Lang Son routes, fails to meet the potential due to undeveloped infrastructure. Thus, upgrades are required in order to increase the connection.

According to the country’s railway development strategy, the industry is estimated to require VND110 trillion ($4.78 billion) by 2030 to revamp the existing network, of which VND48 trillion ($2.08 billion) will be needed by 2020.

ABB partners with Ministry of Science and Technology to accelerate factory of the future

ABB and the Vietnamese Ministry of Science and Technology (MoST) exchanged a Letter of Intent on May 27, 2019 in Stockholm, Sweden in order to accelerate the realisation of smart manufacturing in Vietnam.

The Letter of Intent (LoI) was exchanged by the two parties under the witness of Vietnamese President Nguyen Xuan Phuc and his counterpart, Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven during a high-level breakfast roundtable in Stockholm, Sweden. The roundtable was part of the Sweden-Vietnam Business Summit which took place between May 27 and 28 in Sweden on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the two countries establishing diplomatic relations.

The partnership highlights ABB’s long-term commitment as a strategic partner to the Vietnamese government in advanced robotics and smart manufacturing technologies, and in realising the potential of Industry 4.0 for the country.

The scope of the partnership includes a capacity building programme and accelerating the deployment of advanced technologies in the manufacturing sector. The capacity building programme will foster leadership of domestic businesses and startups to gain hands-on experience of advanced robotics technologies via ABB’s Robotics Technical and Services Center – the first centre of its kind in Vietnam. In addition, with its domain expertise, ABB will also support the realisation of the “factory of the future” model and offer expert recommendations for the adoption of robotics technologies.

Speaking at the LoI exchange ceremony, Phung Bao Thach, director general of the department of International Co-operation, Ministry of Science and Technology, said: “Vietnam and Sweden have enjoyed a profound relationship over the last 50 years. ABB, as a global leader in cutting-edge digital and robotics technologies with a long history in Sweden and a well-established presence in Vietnam over the last 26 years, is a great partner for the Ministry’s strategy to realize Vietnam’s manufacturing goals in the context of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. I firmly believe that this co-operation will be effective and beneficial for both parties.”

“At ABB, we see the growing importance of capability building for the social and economic development of Vietnam in the field of digital technologies and application of advanced technologies into manufacturing. We believe that this partnership together with our ongoing investments in the country will reinforce ABB’s commitment to take local manufacturing to the next level,” said Johan Söderström, managing director for ABB Sweden.

ABB started operations in Vietnam in 1993. In the 25 years since, it has grown to be a reliable partner in the field of technology, providing turnkey solutions and services in the market. ABB has recently installed and commissioned robots in the automotive, electronics, animal feed, food and beverage, chemicals, as well as the metal and brick fabrication sectors to drive efficiency and quality. ABB will be opening the second robotics center later this year in Ho Chi Minh City to enable faster response nationwide to support its customers to meet manufacturing goals of today and tomorrow. In addition, the ABB AbilityTM control systems are ensuring several new solar farms and factories across the country’s food and beverage, automotive, water, and wastewater sectors to ensure their operations with the highest possible efficiency.

ABB (ABBN: SIX Swiss Ex) is a pioneering technology leader with a comprehensive offering for digital industries. With a history of innovation spanning more than 130 years, ABB is a leader in digital industries with four customer-focused, globally leading businesses: electrification, industrial automation, motion, and robotics and discrete automation, supported by its common ABB Ability™ digital platform. ABB’s market leading Power Grids business will be divested to Hitachi in 2020. ABB operates in more than 100 countries with about 147,000 employees.

VN central bank to continue managing monetary policy

The State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) said on May 30 that it will continue to coordinate with relevant Vietnamese ministries and agencies regarding the US Department of Treasury’s issues of concern, in the spirit of cooperation.

The central bank made the statement after the US department released a monitoring list on May 29 of major trading partners that merit close attention to their currency practices, which includes Vietnam.

The bank will also continue managing the monetary policy to control inflation, stabilise the macro economy, spur economic growth appropriately, and manage the forex rate flexibly in line with developments of both domestic and foreign markets, as well as characteristics of the Vietnamese economy, so as to not create unhealthy competitive edge in international trade.

On May 29, the US treasury department issued its Semiannual Report on Macroeconomic and Foreign Exchange Policies of Major Trading Partners of the US, with the monitoring list comprising of China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Singapore, Malaysia, and Vietnam.

In the report, the department reviewed and assessed the policies of an expanded set of 21 major US trading partners, whose bilateral goods trade with the US exceeds 40 billion USD annually. Previously, it only covered the 12 largest trading partners.

The report concluded that “no major US trading partner met the relevant 2015 legislative criteria for enhanced analysis” as a currency manipulator.

Countries with a current-account surplus with the US equivalent to 2 percent of gross domestic product are eligible for the list. Other thresholds include persistent intervention in markets for a nation’s currency, and a trade surplus of at least 20 billion USD. Countries that meet two of the three criteria are placed on the watch list.

China only triggered one of the criteria, but still merited inclusion given its large, increasing surplus.

Meanwhile, Vietnam was put on the list as it satisfied the criteria for bilateral trade and current account surpluses.

The US Department of the Treasury will continue monitoring information and statistics regarding Vietnam’s trade, current account, monetary and macroeconomic policies, and may work with relevant Vietnamese agencies as it sees necessary.

Vietnamese firms promote products at Thai FB trade fair

More than 30 Vietnamese food and beverage (F&B) enterprises are displaying their products in Bangkok at one of Asia’s largest trade fairs.

The business delegation, led by the High Quality Vietnamese Product Business Association and the Business Studies and Assistance Centre, is taking part in the THAIFEX-World of Food Asia until June 1.

This year, Vietnamese manufacturers brought "clean" products that are environmentally friendly and have non-toxic standards. They include organic rice, honey, bird’s nest and cereals, among others.

Other Vietnamese agricultural and food products are promoted as “safe, nutritious and with high quality”, including fruits and vegetables, fresh meat, poultry, processed foods, and milk and dairy products, among others.

Vu Kim Hanh, chairwoman of the High Quality Vietnamese Product Business Association, said: “Vietnamese products being promoted at the event were carefully selected by the association, meeting international standards. The products are especially good for consumer health and are highly commercial.”

The Vietnamese delegation has taken part in Thaifex for many years, each year with a new theme, leaving a strong impression on international partners and customers, according to Hanh.

At the fair, Vietnamese businesses are expected to learn about consumer trends, packaging and label design, product display and advertising, and marketing and branding for products.

The show also provides a platform for 104 start-up companies to showcase their capabilities.

According to the event’s organisers, Viet Nam, as a rapidly growing ASEAN economy, has a great deal to offer the global businesses attending the trade show.

Vietnamese businesses will also visit companies or facilities of research and processing of prestigious agricultural and food products in Thailand during the event.

The 16th trade show features more than 6,000 booths from 2,537 companies from 41 countries, as well as 2,168 international hosted buyers.

The event is the leading annual international trade exhibition for F&B, food service technology, and retail & franchise in Asia.

The one-stop food exhibition features the latest food producing technologies, food safety standards, related businesses, and services, as well as the most fascinating culinary experience from the world of food.

The event shows products like confectionery items, sweets, rice, ready to eat products, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, frozen food and nutritional food items.

Co-organised by Koelnmesse, the Thai Department of International Trade Promotion and the Thai Chamber of Commerce, the trade show is expected to attract some 62,000 visitors from 150 countries.

HCMC proposes using State budget for road projects

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The HCMC Department of Transport has proposed using the State budget to fund projects to expand National Highways 13, 22, 1A and 50, instead of calling for build-operate-transfer (BOT) and build-transfer (BT) investors.

Speaking at a meeting on the progress of traffic projects on May 29, the department noted that the investors in these projects had earlier proposed developing them under BOT and BT formats, but the expansion projects would be executed on the current routes.

In line with the National Assembly’s Resolution 437, especially since the Government has yet to issue regulations on allocating land to BT investors, it is necessary to switch the investment method to public investment, according to the department.

Besides this, the municipal department proposed the budget should finance some sections of Ring Road No. 2.

The construction of the road will be completed by 2022 if the fund is allocated adequately, the department said.

Addressing the meeting, HCMC Chairman Nguyen Thanh Phong remarked that as many traffic projects are being executed in the city, the Department of Transport and the relevant agencies should prioritize urgent projects and others that help ease traffic congestion.

In addition, reviewing all projects to identify their investment methods and completion time is needed, Phong stated.

As for the Ring Road No. 2 project, the city will use the budget for its site clearance compensation.

The municipal chairman also agreed to set up a fund with an initial value of VND1 trillion for project research to create more feasible projects instead of appointing investors for projects.

In addition, Phong noted that payments in terms of land for BT investors are made only when the projects are completed and put into operation.

Five-month CPI rises 2.74 percent year-on-year

 

The consumer price index (CPI) between January and May increased by 2.74 percent from the same period last year – the slowest five-month pace over the last three years, according to the General Statistics Office (GSO).

The GSO said on May 29 that the CPI in May grew by 0.49 percent from April, 1.5 percent from December 2018, and 2.88 percent from the same period last year.

Compared to the previous month, nine of the 11 groups of main consumer goods and services recorded price hikes in May, including transport (up 2.64 percent); housing fees and construction materials (1.28 percent); beverage and cigarette (0.18 percent); and garments, headwear, and footwear (0.12 percent).

Price declines were reported in medicines and healthcare services (down 0.06 percent), and postal and telecom services (0.05 percent).

Explaining the CPI expansion, Director of the GSO’s Price Statistics Department Do Thi Ngoc said the long National Reunification and May Day holiday fuelled demand for food services and travel, leading to higher prices in these groups.

Other contributors included routine petrol price adjustments, stronger electricity and water consumption due to hot weather, higher gas prices in the global market, and increased construction demand. They helped boost prices in relevant goods and services, she noted.

There were also some factors curbing the CPI uptrend, including the fall of rice prices due to abundant supply amid the harvest season, and the continued decrease of pork prices as a result of the African swine fever epidemic.

Ngoc said domestic gold prices dropped 0.5 percent from April to around 33.66 million VND per SJC-branded tael, which was in line with global fluctuations.

The USD per VND exchange rate soared at certain points of time, but did not rise suddenly thanks to the abundant forex reserves and the central bank’s effective exchange rate governance. The USD price in the market stood at the average of 23,351 VND per USD in May.

The GSO said the core inflation – which is the CPI excluding food items, energy products, and state-managed healthcare and educational services – in May inched up 0.13 percent month-on-month and 1.9 percent year on year.

It expanded 1.85 percent in the first five months compared to the same period of 2018.

Vietnamese Business Club in Myanmar set up

The Vietnamese Business Club in Myanmar (VBCM) made its debut in Yangon on May 28.

The launching ceremony was attended by Vietnamese Ambassador to Myanmar Luan Thuy Duong, Trade Councilor Vo Thi Ngoc Diep, and representatives from nearly 30 Vietnamese enterprises in the country.

Addressing the event, Ambassador Duong said that the club is being established as Vietnam and Myanmar look to celebrate 44 years of their diplomatic ties and the bilateral partnership has developed in various aspects towards a comprehensive cooperative partnership.

The diplomat said that the introduction of the club shows the growth of the Vietnamese business community in Myanmar and the demand for connection to make a single voice when issues arise with the local government and partners as well as businesses from other countries in Myanmar and agencies at home.

She said that the club will help connect the Vietnamese businesses and community in Myanmar, representing and protecting the legitimate interest of the firms, while contributing to boosting the economic, trade, and investment partnership between Vietnam and Myanmar.

She expressed her hope that the club will operate effectively and soon be upgraded into the Vietnamese Business Association in Myanmar, which is legally recognised.

Addressing the event, Chairman of VBCM Executive Board Dang Hai Nha said that over the years, a number of Vietnamese firms have promoted their pioneering role and effectively supported their Vietnamese peers. However, they have yet to connect with each other.

Therefore, the formation of a social non-profit agency will help to strengthen coordination and enhance the competitiveness and business efficiency of the firms, while preserving their rights.

VBCM is a voluntary social organisation of the Vietnamese businesses in Myanmar. It groups businesses, organisations, and individuals from all economic sectors operating in Myanmar. With the motto of “Connection, Cooperation, Success”, the organisation aims to enhance the prestige and image of the Vietnamese business community in Myanmar, while promoting economic, trade, and investment partnerships between the two countries.

Australia-based institute: Vietnam makes rapid progress in Asia-Pacific

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Vietnam has made rapid progress in strategic and economic spheres over the past year, according to experts from the Australia-based Lowy Institute.

Vietnam was ranked 13th among the 25 countries and territories in the 2019 Asia Power Index, after New Zealand and Taiwan, according to a report released by the institute on May 29.

The institute conducts annual research on power ratings based on eight main criteria, including military capability, power-economic resources, diplomatic influence, and culture.

The US topped the list, followed by China and Japan.

HCM City’s CPI up 0.58 percent in May

The consumer price index (CPI) of Ho Chi Minh City, the country’s biggest economic hub, increased by 0.58 percent in May compared with the previous month and 4.41 percent year-on-year, the municipal Statistics Office announced on May 29.

Among the 11 commodity groups, seven recorded monthly price hikes, led by transport with a rise of 2.92 percent.

Prices of housing, electricity, water, fuel, and construction materials went up 1.01 percent; culture, entertainment, and tourism, 0.29 percent; post and telecoms, 0.12 percent; education, 0.07 percent; medicine and healthcare services, 0.01 percent; and restaurants and catering services, 0.26 percent.

Experts explained that the rise was mainly driven by transport, housing, electricity, and water.

In May, prices of goods and other services dropped 0.18 percent; beverages and tobacco, 0.06 percent; and equipment and household utensils, 0.03 percent.

The group of apparel, headgear, and footwear remained stable throughout the month.

Vietnam Rubber Group plans FSC certification for rubber forests

The Vietnam Rubber Group (VRG) will work to have Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certifications for all of its rubber forests as part of the sustainable development programme for 2019-2024 tenure.

Under the programme, which was announced in Ho Chi Minh City on May 29, the group will enhance corporate responsibility, promote economic efficiency, and ensure benefits for relevant parties.

The VRG also plans to zone off 5,000 ha of forest land in its rubber project area for regeneration, boost cooperation with Swedish furniture retail giant IKEA to provide sustainable rubber and timber products, and encourage its members to apply clean production and sustainable management measures to further develop the VRG brand.

In the last seven months of 2019, the group will update its regulations on social and environmental responsibility and recruitment policies, and approach the FSC standards.

According to VRG Chairman Tran Ngoc Thuan, the sustainable development programme is a must in the context of global integration as most of the importers require products to have clear origins and FSC certification, which ensures products come from responsibly managed forests that provide environmental, social, and economic benefits.

Standing Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Ha Cong Tuan spoke highly of the VRG’s action plan, saying that besides ensuring quality, competitive prices, and prestigious business, rubber companies must be liable for the community and the environment.

Tuan said that the VRG should further its work to achieve FSC certification in the next one to two years, as well as fully realise local and global sustainable forest standards.

The same day, the VRG inked a cooperation deal with several agencies under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Oxfam, and PanNature.

The VRG is now managing more than 400,000 ha of rubber plantation across the country, as well as in Laos and Cambodia.

Work starts on waste-to-power plant in Bac Ninh

Construction was started on a high-tech waste-to-power plant worth 1.35 trillion VND (over 57.6 million USD) in Que Vo district, the northern province of Bac Ninh on May 29.

Covering an area of nearly 5 ha in the district, the project is scheduled to start commercial operation in the first quarter of 2021.

It is expected to treat about 500 tonnes of waste per day, generating a total of 11.7 MWh of electricity.

Speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony, Permanent Vice Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Nguyen Tien Nhuong said Bac Ninh is facing problems related to environmental pollution, especially domestic solid waste pollution.

Statistics show that about 870 tonnes of domestic waste are discharged in Bac Ninh each day, and the figure is expected to rise by 10 percent in 2020 to 1,000 tonnes.

Hanoi seeks to export Japonica rice

Sixteen cooperatives in Hanoi’s eight districts have produced Japonica rice on a total area of 800 hectares during the 2019 summer-autumn crop in service of export, heard a conference in Hanoi on May 29.

The cooperatives are operating fruitfully, especially in high-quality agricultural production, and able to develop production-consumption chains.

Each production area of Japonica rice spans at least 30ha and would be expanded in the time ahead. Besides, they have irrigation systems favourable for mechanisation.

According to the Hanoi Agricultural Development Centre, the city has stepped up high-quality rice production in tandem with export.

Japonica, a high-quality round grain variety, has been cultivated for many crops in Hanoi.

In 2018, Vietnam’s total rice exports reached 6.15 million tonnes, with export turnover of 3.15 billion USD. The industry saw a 5.7 percent increase in volume and a 19.6 percent increase in value compared to 2017.

The country’s rice exports in the first four months of this year were estimated at 2.03 million tonnes, worth 866 million USD, down by 7.9 percent in volume and 21.7 percent in value over the same period last year.

Aspirations for an agricultural cycle of sustainability

Circular economic models being applied in Vietnamese agriculture are increasingly popular, while also helping to ensure the sector develops in a sustainable manner. Phuong Hao reports.

In mid-May, Nestlé Vietnam received a certificate of merit from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development for the company’s contribution to the Vietnamese coffee industry and to sustainable development.

Over the last 10 years, Nestlé Vietnam has closely co-operated with Vietnamese partners to strengthen the chain link, increase the value of the country’s coffee beans, and take Vietnam towards becoming the second-largest coffee producer in the world.

With a modern and advanced waste treatment process, and a transparent control process focusing on recycling, Nestlé Vietnam has been considered one of the leading companies in implementing the circular economy in Vietnam.

According to Ganesan Ampalavanar, general director of Nestlé Vietnam, six factories of the group in the country are designed to the standards for preventing pollution, reducing emissions, and saving water. “By last year, all the factories completed the goal of ensuring no waste from production is discharged into the environment,” Ampalavanar said.

Since 2014, Nestlé has collected sand flowing out from the boilers, which is formed due to coffee production. By the fourth quarter last year, more than two million tonnes of sand waste was collected to produce nearly five million unburned bricks which adhere to the national standards in construction. “They have been widely used in civil and industrial projects. We also presented 10,000 such unburned bricks to Nguyen Hue Primary School in Bien Hoa of the southern province of Dong Nai to build a canteen building for over 1,000 students,” he said.

Ampalavanar said this is one of the activities helping to achieve their environmental waste goal. Nestlé has also ­collected domestic and non-hazardous solid waste, then assigned contractors to treat and recover heat instead of landfill. “Non-hazardous sludge after being internally treated is used to produce fertiliser. Milk cans are used to make ecological roofing sheets,” he added.

The company has announced a plan towards 2025 of recycling and reusing 100 per cent of used packaging products.

In addition, Nestlé’s advanced farming techniques has helped minimise environmental impact by saving 40 per cent of irrigation water, and reducing 20 per cent of chemical fertilisers and pesticides.

As a new small enterprise in Hanoi in developing sustainable agriculture, Thuy Thien Nhu JSC has been applying effective microorganism technology (EM technology). This Japanese technology helps to create people-friendly and environmentally-safe products that achieve synergistic effects by combining beneficial microorganisms which exist in nature, such as lactic acid bacteria, yeast, and phototrophic bacteria.

“EM activates local and native microorganisms that live in soil and water and maximises their natural power. EM enhances the diversity of effective microorganisms, and balances the microorganism community to make healthy soil, clean water, and no bad odours,” CEO Bui Bich Lien told VIR.

Thuy Thien Nhu manages both the ORFARM food distribution and manufacturing chain and EM GREEN Thuy Thien Nhu Farm.

Lien’s farm applies EM Technology in the processes of farming from food, drink, bedding, and antiseptic for animals. Animal beds are used to manufacture high-quality compost which has a soil that improves the growth of fruit and vegetables. With the circulation system, the farming close process not only protects the environment at the farm and its surrounding areas, but also enriches and bio-diversifies the soil.

Since 2013, the company has set up a chain of ORFARM showrooms in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to strictly control their product quality directly into the hands of consumers. For six years, they have managed and controlled the sustainable system to distribute from the farm direct to households, receiving prestigious feedback from Vietnamese consumers.

“It’s great that Thuy Thien Nhu Farm is not only environmental friendly but also friendly for animals and staff since there is no bad odour or flies,” said Toru Koshoji, deputy chairman of the Asia-Pacific Natural Agriculture Network. “Every pig house has sprayers that apply EM on the building. ­Vaccines are used only at the first stage of the lives of baby pigs. After this first vaccine, they do not use any antibiotics during the animals’ life. EM-fermented manure from pigs and chickens are reused to grow vegetables and fruits, along with aromatic herbs ­protecting them from harmful insects.”

Phu Quy Agricultural Farm JSC, a small company in the central province of Nghe An, specialises in fresh oranges and products derived from oranges. Here, plants are taken care of through an ecological method. Four key elements are taken into consideration involving nutrition balance in the soil and air, and ecological diversity.

“We aim to maintain ecological orange farms without chemicals which self-operate and self-regenerate energy,” said deputy director Nguyen Thi Le Na.

According to Na, her company may be able to plant different kinds of crops like soy, nuts, melons, corn, bumpkins, and watermelons between the orange beds depending on the seasons and the height of orange trees and their shade. Decisions are made based on careful study so that intercrops will be a part of the chain supporting the development of the orange trees.

“For example, passionflower planted around orange trees will help reduce drawing insects, and banana plants will provide potassium for oranges, while soy trees help increase nitrogen,” Na said.

Via the ecological method, grass in Na’s farms is cut to cover orange tree roots. “Sunlight and rain will gradually decay the grass and forming humus, containing nutrients to feed orange trees. Each species of grass will have different nutrient content, so the more grass species there are, the more humus, and better nutrition is created, helping orange trees develop,” Na said.

To minimise the waste at the farms, Na has decided to produce candied orange peel. “These oranges cannot answer the standards of fresh ones and are often sold at a very cheap price of about VND5,000 (25 US cents) per kilogramme, or even just thrown away,” she added. “One important thing that most people don’t know is that acid content in oranges directly go into the soil, creating soil degradation.”

Nothing is thrown away and all natural features are being made in a useful manner. This is the way people like Na and Lien are helping to create healthy farms using circular models which are sustainable for the green agriculture future that Vietnam is aspiring to.

Vietnam Dairy 2019 kicks off in Ho Chi Minh City

Vietnam Int’l Milk & Dairy Products Exhibition (Vietnam Dairy 2019) opened in Ho Chi Minh City on May 30 with the participation of 80 leading local and foreign businesses from the milk and dairy product industry.

The event, the second of its kind, was jointly held by the Vietnam Dairy Association and the Vietnam Advertisement & Fair Exhibition Company, attracting popular milk brands such as Vinamilk, Friesland Campina, Nestle, Mead Johnson, Abbott, Eneright, Nutricare, Noluma, and Dairy Pro.

On display were a range of milk and dairy products, additives used by the dairy industry, processing and packaging technologies used in the milk sector, cattle feed, veterinary medicines, environment treatment technologies, and food safety and quality management standards.

Addressing the opening ceremony, Tran Quang Trung, Chairman of the Vietnam Dairy Association, said Vietnam’s dairy industry has gradually developed in a sustainable and modern manner, from material production to finished products.

This sustainable development has helped the milk sector increase its competitiveness and actively integrate into the region and beyond as well as meeting the increasing demand for milk and dairy products from the domestic market, he said.

The sector has also actively contributed to the national economy during the 2010-2018 period, with the annual average growth of 12.7 percent in total revenue, the highest level seen in food products from the breeding sector.

International Children's Day and World Milk Day were also marked during the event with a wide range of activities at entertainment sites for children.

In addition, a series of workshops and a trade exchange programme between US-based packaging manufacturer Noluma and Vietnamese dairy firms are to be held during the exhibition – which will run until June 2.

 
 
 
 
 
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