BUSINESS NEWS 1/9

Vietbuild Hanoi 2019 to open next week

BUSINESS NEWS 1/9

Vietbuild Hanoi 20019 will take place from September 4-8 in the capital city, featuring 1,600 pavilions from 18 countries and territories, organizers said at a press conference on August 30.

According to Nguyen Quang Cung, Vice President of the Vietnam Association for Building Materials, the event is expected to draw more than 450 businesses, including 243 domestic firms, 125 joint ventures and 101 foreign enterprises and groups.

This is the second among three editions of Vietbuild in Hanoi this year, following the first from March 27-31. A total of ten exhibitions of this kind will be held across the country in the year.

The upcoming Hanoi exhibition will also feature exchanges between domestic and foreign firms, aiming to push ahead with scientific-technological transfer, joint venture and market integration, said Nguyen Dinh Hung, General Director of Vietbuild Construction International Exhibition Organising Corp.

Vietnam’s labour productivity needs to catch up with ASEAN

Vietnam’s labour productivity has improved but is still low in comparison with other ASEAN members, according to a report by the Ministry of Planning and Investment.

The report shows that Vietnam’s labour productivity index reached 102.2 million VND (4,400 USD) per labourer in 2018, nearly double that of 2011. In the period 2011-2018, the country’s labour productivity increased by an average of 4.88 percent annually, in which the period of 2016-2018 witnessed an average increase of 5.77 percent annually.

However, in comparison with other countries in ASEAN, Vietnam's labour productivity is still low. This means that Vietnam’s economy is facing a huge challenge to catch up with other countries. If measured by purchasing power parity (PPP) value in 2018, Vietnam’s labour productivity reached 11,142 USD, only 7.3 percent of Singapore, 19 percent of Malaysia, 37 percent of Thailand, 44.8 percent of Indonesia, and 55.9 percent of the Philippines.

Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyen Chi Dung said improving Vietnam’s labour productivity is an urgent task, playing an important role to promote growth, overcome the middle income trap, avoid falling behind and narrow the development gap with countries around the world. However, this task should be solved in the long-term, he added.

Experts said it is necessary to understand the capacity of workers and why Vietnam’s labour productivity is still low in order to find solutions, which must be radical, effective and comprehensive and capable of covering all causes.

Chairman of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) Vu Tien Loc said that Vietnam’s competition has mainly been based on cheap labour and low costs of raw materials. This has occurred for a long time, making many Vietnamese private enterprises neglect improvements to strategic planning, management skills, and promoting the application of science and technology in production and business as well as increasing capital efficiency.

“In the context that Vietnam has become a low middle-income country, while the traditional competitive advantages are gradually disappearing, the low labour productivity will be a major cause hampering the country’s investment attraction and international integration,” Loc said.

Professor Kenichi Ohno from the Japan Policy Research Institute said that Vietnam needs to build an overall strategy to increase labour productivity, moving sustainable labour productivity growth of 7-8 percent.

He said it should focus on boosting labour productivity in industry first, then on other sectors such as agriculture and services. For countries that receive a large amount of foreign direct investment like Vietnam, the strategy can target high-quality FDI projects and enhance the competitiveness of domestic manufacturing industries, setting up close links between these two areas.

Ohono said that despite many years of close economic co-operation, Vietnam has not yet applied any Japanese productivity tools. Some productivity measures such as 5S (sort, set, shine, standardise and sustain) and Kaizen (changing for the better) have been tested at the enterprise level with the support of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), but the scale is too small and only lasts a short time.

General Director of Duc Giang Chemical Joint Stock Company Dao Huu Huyen said the State needs to have suitable policies, creating conditions for a number of "leading" enterprises to make breakthroughs and promoting small- and medium-sized enterprises for development.

“This will be an effective and practical way to promote labour productivity in enterprises,” Huyen said.

According to Chairman of Thien Phu Energy Investment Joint Stock Company Tran Anh Dung, to increase labour productivity when Vietnam and many countries in the region and around the world are catching up with Industry 4.0, businesses need to make efforts to raise their level, actively applying technology in production and business and encouraging creative ideas in every activity.

“In the Vietnamese business community, young businesses and start-ups need to raise awareness about technology and labour discipline, which is the most effective and practical solution to boost labour productivity,” Dung said.

Vietjet’s recruitment day to land in Tokyo

Vietjet's large-scale Cabin Crew Recruitment Day prepares to "land" in Tokyo, Japan, after taking place in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, the two biggest cities of Vietnam.

The Cabin Crew Recruitment Day will take place from 8:30 on August 31 at TKP Shimbashi Shiodome Business Centre, 2 Toyo Kaiji Building, 4-24-8, Shinbashi, Minatoku, Tokyo.

Interested candidates can also apply directly on the recruitment day. More information about requirement and application form is available at http://careers.vietjetair.com/Jobs/Vacancy/2029.

In the future, Vietjet will continue to bring the large-scale Cabin Crew Recruitment Day to other cities around the world to search for candidates who have the “dream of flying".

Currently, the new-age carrier is operating four direct routes connecting Vietnam and Japan and will operate its fifth service between Tokyo and Da Nang this October. Vietjet has also recently become the first LCC joining the Japan Business Federation (Keidanren).

Vietjet is the first airline in Vietnam to operate as a new-age airline offering flexible, cost-saving ticket fares and diversified services to meet customers’ demands. It provides not only transport services but also uses the latest e-commerce technologies to offer various products and services for consumers. Vietjet is a fully-fledged member of International Air Transport Association (IATA) with the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) certificate.

Vietjet was named “Best Ultra Low-Cost Airline 2018 - 2019” and awarded the highest ranking for safety with 7 stars in 2018 and 2019 by the world’s only safety and product rating website AirlineRatings.com. The airline has also been listed as one of the world's 50 best airlines for healthy financing and operations by Airfinance Journal in 2018.

Currently, Vietjet operates around 400 flights daily, carrying more than 80 million passengers to date, with 129 routes covering destinations across Vietnam and international destinations such as Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, the Republic of Korea, Taiwan, China, Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia, Indonesia and Cambodia.

HCM City posts 0.24-percent rise in August CPI

The southern largest economic hub of Ho Chi Minh City recorded a month-on-month rise of 0.24 percent in the consumer price index (CPI) in August, according to the municipal statistics office.

The office said on August 30 that this month’s CPI grew 1.76 percent from last December and 3.75 percent from the same period of 2018.

Compared to July, price increases were seen seven of the 11 main groups of consumer groups and services, namely food and food services (up 0.16 percent), beverage and cigarette (0.21 percent), housing fees (0.29 percent), household equipment and utensils (0.05 percent), medicine and healthcare services (3.93 percent), education (0.1 percent), and other goods and services (0.07 percent).

Meanwhile, four other groups posted price declines, namely headwear and footwear (down 0.01 percent); transport (0.39 percent); postal and telecom services (0.08 percent); and culture, entertainment and tourism (0.1 percent).

Experts said food prices have been on a slight upward trend since May, rising 0.83 percent from the year’s beginning.

Meanwhile, local medical services have followed the same trend nationwide since August 20 under the Ministry of Health’s circular on prices of medical services covered by health insurance.

Several schools have also adjusted their tuition fees in August to prepare for the new academic year, which subsequently raised the price index of educational services, the statistics office said, forecasting more fee hikes in September and October.

Vietnamese spices introduced in Italy

Vietnamese spices and farm produce are being displayed at the international chilli trade fair Rieti Cuore Piccante in Italy’s central city of Rieti.

This is the second time Vietnam has participated in the fair. The Vietnamese booth at this year’s event has attracted crowds of visitors and partners.

Taking place from August 28 to September 1, the fair, the ninth of its kind in Italy, features 150 pavilions introducing 500 kinds of chilli in the world.

Vietnamese Trade Counsellor Nguyen Duc Thanh said Rieti Cuore Piccante’s organising board has introduced Vietnam’s agricultural products, especially spices and tea, to other farm produce fairs across Italy.

Within the framework of the event, the Vietnamese delegation led by Ambassador Nguyen Thi Bich Hue attended the Spicy World Workshop.

Speaking at the workshop, the ambassador said apart from chilli and peppercorn, Vietnam is a big producer of high-quality tropical spices like star anise, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger and garlic.

Rieti Cuore Piccante offers an opportunity for Vietnam to step up economic cooperation with Italy in not only farm product export and import, but also other support industries like machinery, equipment and production lines, she said.

The fair also included a photo exhibition along with music and entertainment programmes. It has been seen as the most anticipated culinary festival in Italy in the year.

CPTPP promises stronger ties with Singapore, Malaysia: workshop

Chances for trade and investment cooperation with Singapore and Malaysia under the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) were highlighted at a workshop held in the southern province of Long An on August 30.

Do Phuong Dung, Deputy Director of the Asia-Africa Market Department of the Ministry of Industry and Trade, said Vietnam-Singapore relations have been developing unceasingly in recent years.

Singapore is one of the biggest ASEAN trade partners of Vietnam with bilateral trade reaching 7.66 billion USD in 2018, including 3.14 billion USD of Vietnam’s exports.

Meanwhile, Malaysia is also a largest trade partner when bilateral trade hit 11.5 billion USD last year, including 4 billion USD of Vietnam’s exports.

Vice Chairman of the Long An People’s Committee Pham Van Canh said among the 576 foreign direct investment projects in the province, Singapore has invested 521 million USD in 36 projects while Malaysia 37 million USD in 12 projects, respectively ranking 7th and 14th among foreign investors in Long An.

They are also two important destinations of local exporters which shipped 316.34 million USD worth of goods to Singapore and another 95.7 million USD to Malaysia in 2018, he noted.

At the workshop, held by the Asia-Africa Market Department and the Long An Department of Industry and Trade, participants focused on the CPTPP’s benefits that Vietnamese enterprises can capitalise on to boost exports to Singapore and Malaysia. They also looked into trade and investment ties, along with prospects of cooperation in the fields between Vietnam and the two countries.

The CPTPP – one of the largest trade deals in the world – covers a combined GDP of more than 13.8 trillion USD and a market of 500 million people. It gathers 11 countries, namely Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

The deal officially took effect in December 2018 in Mexico, Japan, Singapore, New Zealand, Canada and Australia – the first six countries to ratify the pact. It came into force in Vietnam on January 14 this year.

US$300 billion in FDI remains undisbursed

Vietnam now has some US$300 billion in foreign direct investment undisbursed; of which US$200 billion finds itself in a hopeless deadlock, a senior expert has said.

Nguyen Mai, Chairman of the Vietnam Association of Foreign- Invested Enterprises (VAFIE), assumed that if the country does not increase its right to select proper investors for foreign direct investment (FDI) projects, it could fail to meet the target of attracting FDI with the aim of changing the economic structure and renewing the growth model as well.

Mai underscored the need to select FDI projects in accordance with the Resolution No. 50-NQ/TW newly signed by Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong, in order to ensure both FDI quantity and quality and prevent the transfer pricing of foreign investors and those making use of legal loopholes as mentioned within the resolution.

The VAFIE chairman reiterated major targets of the resolution. The Politburo stated that the average registered investment capital stood at US$30-40 billion per year during the 2011-15 period, while the average disbursed capital reached US$20-30 billion in the reviewed period. Five years later, the average registered capital is set to increase to US$40-50 billion a year; of which, US$30-40 billion is estimated to be disbursed.

If the FDI attraction is implemented efficiently during 2019, the whole-year disbursed capital could amount to nearly US$20 billion. For the 2011-25 period, the annual disbursed capital could reach US$25 billion on average, he expected.

He noted that the document makes a comprehensive assessment of the achievements Vietnam country has enjoyed from FDI attraction, along with shortcomings arising from the implementation of FDI.

“We appreciate the quality of FDI projects and give priority to high-tech and environmentally-friendly projects and those yielding high economic efficiency and technology transfer, in order to leverage the economic growth in conformity with world trends.”

Mentioning the resolution’s target of disbursing FDI, the VAFIE chairman said that of the undisbursed FDI worth US$300 billion, only US$100 billion is likely to be realized. This capital belongs to projects which face difficulties in seeking land plots, gaining construction permits, and mobilizing capital.

Competent agencies should provide investors with extra six months to implement their delayed projects before determining the revocation of investment permits, he added.

German investors to enjoy preferential policies in Thai Binh province

The northern province of Thai Binh has employed a wide range of preferential policies for foreign investors, including those from Germany, said Secretary of the provincial Party Committee and Chairman of the provincial People’s Council Nguyen Hong Dien.

He made the statement while meeting with authorities and enterprises from Thüringen state, the world’s leading wind turbine maker Enercon and the Vietnamese Embassy in Germany during his visit to Europe from August 18-25.

Thai Binh is home to 12 industrial parks, 50 industrial complexes and one economic zone, with favourable transport conditions and an abundant labour force. The province also has huge potential to develop agriculture, mining, renewable energy, leather shoes, garment and textile, among others.

Meanwhile, Thüringen has long-lasting relations with Thai Binh since the 1950s through agricultural projects and the ties will be enhanced after Vietnam and the EU’s agreements on free trade and investment protection take effect, Dien noted.

Working with Enercon, he said he hoped the corporation would seek investment opportunities in building an equipment production plant and a human resources training centre in the locality, adding several wind power projects have been developed in the province to take advantage of the 54-kilometre coastline.

Enercon and other businesses in Thüringen state expressed their interest in investing in the locality.

Vietnamese Ambassador to Germany Nguyen Minh Vu said the embassy will make efforts to help Thai Binh seek partners and call for German investment in local industrial parks and economic zone.

During his trip to Europe, Dien and his entourage will also study high-tech farming and renewable energy in Switzerland.

Vietnam’s exports face risk of US punitive tariffs: research entity

Vietnam is the country the US had its sixth largest trade deficit with last year and this deficit continuing to test new highs could put Vietnam’s exports at risk of punitive tariffs from the US, said a research entity of Fitch Group.

The macro research - focused Fitch Solutions are mulling over conflicting factors with regard to the prospect of the US levying punitive tariffs on Vietnamese exports, similar to that on Chinese exports.

Fitch Solutions analysts believe that the US is likely to want to avoid fighting its trade war simultaneously on too many fronts. This implies that until some resolution on the US-China trade war looks set to be reached, other countries such as Vietnam and India are unlikely to receive too much focus from the Trump administration.

Since the US-China trade war began in mid-2018, Vietnam has been frequently touted as a ‘winner’ amid elevated trade tensions.

Indeed, the ongoing US-China trade war has likely served to accelerate the structural shift in manufacturing operations to Vietnam from China, particularly in the lower value added manufacturing segment of electronics and textiles.

Fundamentally, Vietnam’s edge over China in this segment stems from a large labour force and low cost of labour, combined with an environment friendly to foreign direct investment and the country’s open door trade policy, having signed numerous free trade agreements with various countries and trading blocs.

The pick-up in Vietnam’s total exports growth from March 2019, and perhaps more importantly, strong growth in exports to the US from August 2018, likely reflects this shift as companies previously manufacturing in China sought to avoid paying tariffs on exports to the US.

However, the rise in Vietnam’s exports to the US could possibly involve some degree of transhipment fraud from China, the Republic of Korea (RoK), and Taiwan (China), as companies in these economies seek to circumvent the host of US tariffs levied across of wide range of Chinese exports, and on RoK and Taiwanese steel, warned Fitch Solutions experts.

In response to allegations of transhipment fraud, the US in July implemented tariffs as high as 400 per cent on steel exports of Vietnam with RoK and Taiwanese origin.

Regardless of the reason for the increase in Vietnamese exports, given that the Trump administration appears to be targeting the top economies the US has a trade deficit with, Vietnam, at sixth position in 2018, looks likely to provoke tariff action from the US.

The US’ trade deficit with Vietnam has soared from US$14.8 billion in 2012 to US$34.8 billion in 2018, with the 2019 figure looking set to surpass that of 2018, with the deficit in the first half of 2019 registering US$20.5 billion.

The large and growing trade deficit has not gone unnoticed by the Trump administration as US President Donald Trump said that ‘Vietnam takes advantage (of the US) even worse than China’, Vietnam is the ‘single worst abuser of everybody’, and that US has to work to reduce the ‘unsustainable trade deficit’.

There are two reasons that Vietnam is unlikely to see major tariff action from the US, at least over the near term. First, the trade tensions between the US and China remain elevated, and until some sort of resolution comes within reach, while that the US will likely keep its focus on China especially as Trump gears up for re-election in November 2020.

Vietnam is likely off the hook for major US tariffs in the meantime. Furthermore on August 13, President Trump delayed the imposition of import tariffs on certain categories of Chinese goods until December 15 ‘for the Christmas season’, with the aim of avoiding tariffs causing an adverse impact on American consumers over the festive season. These products span mobile phones, laptops, video game consoles, toys, computer monitors, and footwear and clothing.

This suggests that President Trump is now aware of the adverse upside impact on prices his administration’s tariffs would have on consumer goods in the country.

Given that the US’s imports from Vietnam are mainly in consumer electronics, textiles, and clothing, the US will similarly avoid levying tariffs on Vietnamese goods over the near term. This is to avoid a surge in clothing prices from tariffs being levied on both its two largest sources of clothing imports, China and Vietnam, which together account for almost 55 per cent of the US’s total apparel and footwear imports in 2018.

 

Mekong Delta expects 150,000 more tonnes from summer-autumn rice crop

This summer-autumn crop, the Mekong Delta – Vietnam’s biggest rice granary – expects to harvest 150,000 tonnes of paddy more than last year, according to an official from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD).

The Mekong Delta has so far harvested about two-thirds of its 1.57 million hectares of rice with an average yield of 5.7 tonnes per hectare, up 100 kg compared to last year’s same crop, said Le Thanh Tung, deputy head of the MARD’s Department of Crop Production.

The growth is more than enough to offset the falling output of the last summer-autumn harvest, estimated at around 50,000 tonnes, he added.

The harvest of this season’s entire rice area is expected to be completed in early September and to date, there has been no report on effects of drought or saline intrusion.

Tung noted that the harvest work of the summer-autumn crop is being favoured by low water and rainfall levels which pose no threat of flooding.

As the country struggles to secure orders for the grain in the second half of the year due to a drop in demand from major importers, rice is being sold 200 VND per kg higher than the last winter-spring crop but 1,000 – 1,200 VND per kg lower than the price of the same period last year.

This price gives farmers a profit margin of 30 percent which is still much lower than that of 2018.

To keep this year’s output stable or higher than last year, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development have recommended the Mekong Delta cities and provinces to expand the next autumn-winter crop by 4,000 hectares to about 750,000 hectares.

According to the General Department of Customs, Vietnam’s rice exports reached 2.76 million tonnes in the first five months of this year, down 6.3 percent from a year earlier. The country earned 1.18 billion USD worth of exports in the period, a decline of 20.4 percent over the same period last year.

Vietnamese rice products, the country’s key export item, are shipped to 150 countries and territories, including the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, mainland China, Cuba, Hong Kong, Singapore, Iraq, Ivory Coast, Ghana and Mozambique.

Vietnam and Australia boost economic co-operation

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison chaired a meeting on exchanging and promoting co-operation opportunities between Vietnamese and Australian businesses in Ha Noi on Friday.

The meeting was attended by Chairman of the Vietnamese Entrepreneurs Association (VEAS) in Sydney Nguyen Ba Luan along with experts and business people from both Vietnam and Australia.

Luan, who is also the Chairman of TMS Group, said Vietnamese businesses in Australia are inheriting knowledge, experience, advanced management and modern technology to develop through international-level projects which have great socio-economic significance.

“We hope the governments of Vietnam and Australia to create a more favourable investment environment to encourage us to develop,” Luan said.

Since Vietnam and Australia enhanced their relationship to the strategic partnership level in March 2018, the two countries have made rapid, real and effective development steps, in economic, trade and investment cooperation.

Vietnam is currently Australia's fourth largest partner in ASEAN, while Australia is Vietnam’s seventh largest trading partner.

Last year, the trade turnover between the two countries reached US$7.712 billion, up 19.3 per cent year-on-year, in which Vietnam's exports to Australia reached nearly $4 billion, up 20.9 per cent and imports from Australia reached more than $3.7 billion, up 17.8 per cent.

By the end of June, Australia had nearly 460 investment projects with a total value of more than $1.86 billion, ranking 20th in 131 countries and territories investing in Vietnam. Meanwhile, Vietnam also had 53 direct investment projects in Australia with a total value of more than $247 million.

At the meeting, Luan introduced his TMS Group, which has affiliates and offices nationwide and in some regional countries including Australia and Japan, employing almost 7,000 people.

He said in an effort to become a reputable real estate developer, pioneering the development of the sustainable urban ecosystem, TMS Group has successfully developed three project including TMS Hotel Da Nang Beach, TMS Hotel Quy Nhon and TMS Grand City Phuc Yen.

“In the future, we will develop a series of hotels, resorts, entertainment complexes and golf courses in many provinces and cities in Vietnam,” Luan said.

VEAS was established in February last year, gathering Vietnamese businesses and entrepreneurs living and settling in Sydney. In recent years, VEAS is one of the bridges contributing to promoting co-operation among businesses of the two countries.

Thai Binh introduces investment opportunities to German investors

The northern province of Thai Binh has untapped potential in many sectors such as agriculture, industry, mining, renewable energy, footwear, textile and garment and personnel training thanks to favourable transport conditions and an abundant labour force, according to local authorities.

Nguyen Hong Dien, Secretary of the provincial Party Committee and Chairman of the provincial People’s Council, said Thai Binh had been offering a wide range of preferential policies for foreign investors.

During a meeting with authorities and enterprises from Thuringen state of Germany as part of his ongoing visit to Europe, Dien praised long-lasting relations between his province and Thuringen which is home to the world’s leading wind turbine maker Enercon.

The ties would be enhanced after Viet Nam and the EU’s agreements on free trade and investment protection take effect, he noted.

Working with Enercon, he said he hoped the corporation would seek investment opportunities in building an equipment production plant and a human resources training centre in the locality, adding several wind power projects had been developed in the province to take advantage of the 54-kilometre coastline.

During the meeting, Enercon and other businesses in Thuringen expressed their interest in investing in the locality.

Vietnamese Ambassador to Germany Nguyen Minh Vu said the embassy would make efforts to help Thai Binh seek partners and call for German investment in local industrial clusters.

Thai Binh is now home to 12 industrial parks, 50 industrial clusters and one economic zone.

According to Thai Binh's portal, the province strives to have 12 industrial zones (IZs) covering a total area of more than 2,500ha by 2020. Seven have been approved for construction while six are already operational.

As of May 25, the province's IZs had attracted 189 projects, including 142 foreign-invested ones, with combined investment capital of more than VND31 trillion (US$1.33 billion).

Meanwhile, its operational industrial clusters had lured 380 projects as of May 27.

Indirect investment from Singapore keeps flowing to Vietnam

Vietnam has seen a continuous flow of indirect investment from Singapore so far this year through share purchase deals in the stock market.

In the first half of 2019, Singapore-based firms of F&N Dairy Investments and Platinum Factory showed its interest in purchasing shares of the Vietnam Dairy Products Joint Stock Company (Vinamilk).

Currently, it is the second biggest shareholder of Vinamilk with over 301.5 million shares or 17.31 percent.

Meanwhile, Platinum Victory bought more than 184.8 million shares of the Vietnamese firm over the past three years to take 10.62 percent of ownership.

Also in the first half of 2019, the Singapore Government’s Singapore Investment Corporation (GIC) bought 2.55 percent of Vietcombak’s shares at 55,800 VND per share and total value of 265 million USD.

The stated-owned firm of Singapore also increased its ownership in Masan group from 8.98 percent to 10.18 percent.

Jeffrey Jaaensubhakil, GIC Chief Investment Officer, said that Vietnam is forecast to become a “new factory of the world”, and the GIC has special interest in leading firms of the country.

Last year, the GIC restructured the investment portfolio, divested capital from big market and gave more investment to others such as Brazil, Vietnam and China, he said.

At the Investment Asia held by Maybank Kim Eng in Singapore recently, regional investors showed great interest in Vietnam.

According to Jeffrey Goh, Regional Head of Brokerage of Maybank Kim Eng, said that his customers, especially those from Singapore, wish to explore the Vietnamese market.

They requested more information of the market, including legal corridors and new products in the secondary market, he added.

However, Yeu Huan Lai, an expert from Nikko Asset Management, said that obstacles in the celling level for foreign ownership should be removed as many Singaporean investors are still facing problems with the regulation, especially in areas with restriction of foreign investment.

At the same time, many Vietnamese firms have yet to make reports at international standards and in English, making it difficult for investors to define businesses’ value, he added.

Hau Giang seeks investment in hi-tech agricultural park

The Mekong Delta province of Hau Giang continues to solicit investment in its hi-tech agriculture park, including in its infrastructure.

Truong Canh Tuyen, Vice Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee, said at a conference on August 19 that the province has great potential in agriculture with over 140,000ha of arable land.

Hau Giang has areas for producing safe agricultural products as well as for high-quality rice, sugarcane, pineapple, citrus fruits, and aquaculture. It has established a 5,200ha hi-tech agricultural park in Long My district and is seeking investment in it, including for developing infrastructure.

Nguyen Viet Trieu, Deputy Director of the Hau Giang Hi-Tech Applied Agricultural Park’s Management Board, said the park has collaborated with local and international investors to test several biological products, carried out many scientific projects and applied their results.

But it still lacks infrastructure and has limited funds for investment promotion.

Therefore the conference was an opportunity for the province to introduce the park's potential, advantages, investment opportunities, and investment incentives, he said.

It was also a good platform to compare notes with other localities on developing hi-tech agricultural parks and expand co-operation with local and foreign investors, he said.

Trieu suggested the managements of hi-tech agricultural parks in other provinces and cities should share their experience with the park in transferring technologies to farmers and attracting and incubating hi-tech agricultural firms.

He called on scientists and schools to partner with the park to enable more research to be applied practically in production to increase the value of agricultural products and farmers’ incomes.

Many other issues were also discussed at the conference, including the use of automation to improve the efficiency of agriculture, producing mushrooms in climate-adapted greenhouses, linkages in agricultural production: solutions for Vietnam's agriculture to develop effectively and sustainably, and drip irrigation: applicability for the Mekong Delta and areas that were affected by saltwater.

The event, organised by the Hau Giang Hi-Tech Applied Agricultural Park’s management board, attracted more than 100 agriculture and rural development officials from many provinces and cities; leaders of research institutes, universities and colleges and executives from local and foreign companies.

Hung Yen’s investment attraction incentives prove efficient

Hung Yen has worked to improve the business environment and provincial competitiveness, encourage innovative startups, and attract FDI in high-tech tourism preservation and processing of agricultural produce.

The long-established industrial parks like Pho Noi and Thang Long, and emerging ones in Van Giang, Khoai Chau, and Yen My are giving Hung Yen a facelift.

Hung Yen has advantages in a convenient transport network which is connected with the capital city of Hanoi, the seaports in Hai Phong and Quang Ninh, and other provinces in the Red River Delta. Hung Yen has capitalized on its geographical advantages.

Hung Yen has 10,000 enterprises with a registered capital of 4.3 billion USD.

Over the past years, it has adopted incentives for the business community to promote production and thrive, contributing to the Gross Regional Domestic Product (GRDP) growth of 9.6%, and economic restructuring with an export turnover of 4.2 billion USD.

The results are attributed to the province's focus on administrative reform, improving the provincial competitiveness index, and upholding the local administrations’ dynamics in investment attraction.

Tran Duc Dien, Director General of MAX Vietnam Company, an enterprise that has been based in Hung Yen province for a long time, said “Hung Yen has attracted many foreign investment projects and offered multiple mechanisms in favour of investment development.

For example, Hoa Phat Furniture or TNT Companies have strongly grown. They continue to thrive with more major projects. Hung Yen is home to many industrial parks where half of the total investors are foreigners.”

Beginning to operate in Hung Yen in 2016, Hoa Phat Furniture Company has recorded good performance thanks to the local favorable business and investment environment. The company’s annual growth has increased steadily between 15 and 20% a year, creating jobs for the locals.

Do Tuan Canh, a member of Hoa Phat Furniture Company, said “Hung Yen has many investment advantages including preferential policies and abundant and skillful workforce. In addition to favorable geographical advantages, Hung Yen is rarely affected by natural calamity, flood or storms.”

An information channel has been set up to publicize the policies on the management and planning in industrial zones. A committee to support Japanese businesses operating in Hung Yen and the Thang Long Industrial Park has been established. Support in regards of technological, and infrastructure production premises has been in place.

In addition, administrative reforms have been implemented. For example, now via the committee to support Japanese businesses, it takes about 3 days to get a business license instead of 18 days previously.

Hung Yen will focus on attracting investment in tourism as Do Tien Sy, Secretary of the provincial Party Committee, said at a recent meeting:

“We have successfully attracted investors in developing industries and urban areas. What we need to do now is to lure investment in tourism. To this end, it’s necessary to build a system of hotels and restaurants, set up tours, mobilize more social resources, and train human resources. We should form a mechanism on the management, encouragement, and call for investment in the hospitality sector. A provincial tourism association should be set up to create a number of signature tourism products for Hung Yen.”

After 22 years of re-establishment, Hung Yen has emerged as one of localities with the fastest industrial growth rate and the biggest production value in Vietnam. The achievements have been attributed to preferential investment attraction policies.

Dong Nai moves toward smart city

After Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang, and Binh Duong, Dong Nai is the next locality selected to pilot a smart city development model through cooperation with major corporations.

With its fastest urbanization in Vietnam, Dong Nai has applied several smart applications in traffic, healthcare, and education, which creates a foundation to build a smart metropolis in the future.
A smart city is a city that applies information technology and artificial intelligence to manage and improve the standards of urban people’s life and public services, and increase the efficiency of energy and natural resources

Huynh Quang Liem, Deputy Director General of the Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications Group (VNPT), said “The core foundation of a smart city is the connection of data, the Internet of Things, and all the data relating to e-administration. Ministries and sectors need to share data legally and transparently.”

By 2020 Vietnam aims to have three smart cities - Hanoi, Da Nang, and Ho Chi Minh City. Dong Nai, Binh Duong, Ba Ria-Vung Tau in the south, Bac Ninh, and Hai Phong in the north will be the followers.

Taking the lead in urbanization in Vietnam, Dong Nai has implemented several smart applications like bus tracking cameras, traffic surveillance cameras, traffic signal control systems, and convergence traffic control center. All are preparations for the building of a future smart metropolis.

Major Tran Trong Thuy of the Dong Nai provincial police force said the deployment of the automatic system is a big advance toward minimizing human resources working in the field.

“This is a modern technology that can automatically analyze and update data, as well as handle traffic violations at specific locations via cameras and other equipment,” said Thuy.

The establishment of automatic systems in education, waste water and pollution monitoring indicators has so far delivered positive results.

Since last year the Dong Nai health sector has piloted an IT program to manage personal medical records through apps and web platforms. The move has improved the management of medicine trading and preservation and personal medical records.

Dong Nai has created more than 3 million personal health records for local people. More than 80% of retail pharmacies and clinics in the province have been connected through a software. They have also participated in community health networks making it easier for the locals to look up medical services.
Dr. Phan Huy Anh Vu, Director of the provincial Health Department, said that Dong Nai will apply IT to serve the residents, noting that this is a revolution of the medical sector.

Once we can grasp the opportunity, we will deliver a much better service to residents. It’s necessary to apply IT to reduce time for paper work and give doctors more time to serve the patients.”

Although Dong Nai has not officially participated in the smart city project, local departments and sectors have applied IT in a wide range of work. Information concerning land, planning, business registration, investment and social affairs are now available on the Internet. The banking, customs, and tax sectors have offered online services to make their operation more efficient and improve their services.

 
 
 
 
 
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