BUSINESS NEWS 12/7

Hanoi: 80 percent of new landed property supply located in the east

BUSINESS NEWS 12/7

The east of Hanoi leads the new supply of landed property, covering 80 percent of the total new launch in the first half of 2019, property consultancy CRBE Vietnam announced in an event to review the capital city’s real estate market from January to June and the future trends.

The first six months of the year witnessed the excitement of the landed property market in Hanoi with a total of 3,241 new units, most of which were launched in the first quarter. The six-month figure is nearly 1.5 times the total supply of last year, sending out a positive outlook for the market in the time ahead.

The improvement of urban infrastructure and inner-city traffic continued to boost the expansion of supply in emerging locations. Better infrastructure has not only facilitated the launch of new projects in the emerging locations but also energized delayed projects. The CBRE Vietnam reported a dynamic rise in supply of landed property in the outskirts of the city, compared to that in inner districts

Sales were impressive during the months under review despite the massive stock of new launches. About 2,980 new villas and shop houses were sold in January – June, 14 percent higher than the total number of 2018

The secondary prices for villas in the first half averaged 4,075 USD per sqm, with VAT and construction costs all included. The average price was mostly fetched at emerging locations, such as Gia Lam, Long Bien and Ha Dong districts, which benefited from developed infrastructure and well-known developers.

The recent establishment of many well-developed large-scale projects has further intensified the competition within the supply of landed property in the city. According to the CBRE, for the remaining months of this year, high-quality products, consistent management and reputable developers will remain key factors affecting both end-user buyers and investors.

2019 is also set to welcome a great volume of new supply in the landed residential market with many subsequent phases of previously launched projects expected to come onboard, insiders said.

Switzerland wants to step up EFTA-Vietnam FTA talks

Head of the Swiss Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research Guy Parmelin is leading a business and science delegation to Japan and Vietnam.

In Vietnam, the continuation of negotiations on a FTA between EFTA countries – including Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein – and Vietnam will be at the top of the agenda.

According to the Swiss Federal Council, Parmelin is accompanied by representatives from Swiss firms and the Swiss education, research and innovation landscape and his Vietnam trip includes visits to a number of economic development cooperation projects.

According to Parmelin, Switzerland wants to further develop trade with Vietnam, whose economy has been growing at an above-average rate for several years now.

The annual volume of trade between Vietnam and Switzerland amounted to around 2 billion CHF (2 billion USD) in 2018, an increase of about 5 percent. This makes Vietnam Switzerland’s fourth largest trading partner in Southeast Asia.

Figures from the Swiss National Bank show that Swiss companies have so far invested a total of around 690 million CHF (694 million USD) in Vietnam, and are represented in numerous sectors.

Switzerland has been Vietnam’s economic development partner for over 25 years and is currently running 40 different projects.

As Vietnam inked a FTA with the European Union, the country has met certain international standards, Parmelin said.

Kien Giang’s exports fall short of expectation

The Mekong Delta province of Kien Giang earned over 275 million USD in export revenue in the first half of the year, lagging behind the set target, according to the provincial Department of Industry and Trade.

Although the export value is 1.45 percent higher than the same time last year, it only accounted for 40.4 percent of the yearly plan, said director of the department Ngo Cong Tuoc.

He pointed out falling demand for rice and leather shoes were the main reasons.

Prices of rice slid 84 USD per tonne on average as compared to first half of 2018, and there were only three out of seven rice export firms operating, with major markets of China, Ghana and the Philippines.

Rice shipments to the Chinese market alone tapered off 70 percent, and merely one third of the local firms overcome technical barriers like warehouses and milling capacity.

Meanwhile, leather shoes firms’ exports made up over 32 percent of the target as most of the orders relied on parent companies.

Other factors that affected export activities included unstable seafood material supply, weak management capacity of local companies, and high standards in food safety and environmental protection of the importers. Furthermore, key exports have not given brand names, and value chain has not been well developed in the province.

The department said that the province is striving to gain 405 million USD from exports in the second half, the only way that helps it achieve the target of 680 million USD for the whole year.

Competent authorities have kept a close watch on local firms’ business activities, and helped them remove bottlenecks in capital, material sources, labourers, and technology investment.

To take full advantage of the freshly-inked EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement and the EU-Vietnam Investment Protection, the province will pay heed to trade promotion campaigns to expand new markets and consolidate traditional ones.

Quang Tri: over 1.7 bln USD poured into economic, industrial zones

Economic zones and industrial parks in the central province of Quang Tri attracted over 40 trillion VND (over 1.7 billion USD) from 150 investment projects as of July this year.

Quang Tri is currently home to the southeast coastal economic zone, Lao Bao special economic zone and three IPs, namely Nam Dong Ha, Quan Ngang and Tay Bac Ho Xa. These have lured a great number of investment projects, mainly in the fields of thermal and gas-fueled power, and infrastructure development.

The My Thuy deep sea port, invested by the My Thuy International Port Joint Venture Company with total capital of 14 trillion VND (over 602.4 million USD), is among major projects implemented in the locality. Covering an area of 685 ha, the port includes 10 ports, which are capable of receiving 100,000-tonne ships.

The Lao Bao special economic zone located in the East-West Economic Corridor, has attracted 50 projects in service, garment and processing.

Meanwhile, the local IPs are attractive to investors in garment for export, medium density fibreboard (MDF) production, and high-tech agriculture.

More and more foreign enterprises are interested in IPs and economic zones in Quang Tri.

The Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand invested in Quang Tri 1 Thermal Power Plant a capacity of 1.320MW under the form of build-operate-transfer (BOT); and the Gazprom Group of Russia injected money in a gas power plant with a capacity of 340 MW.

Industrial production value in economic and industrial zones in Quang Tri has reached nearly 5 trillion VND, creating jobs for about 6,000 workers.

The local authorities have offered many incentives on taxes, insurance, and land, aiming to lure more enterprises to invest in economic and industrial zones. The locality gives priority to investment projects in energy development, towards turning it into an energy centre in the north central region.

According to Chairman of the provincial People's Committee Nguyen Duc Chinh, the locality aims to have 5,000 MW of electricity from thermal, gas, wind, solar and hydropower plants by 2025.

Son La avocados make inroads into foreign markets

The northwestern mountainous province of Son La is striving to export approximately 50 tons of avocados with an estimated export value of US$50,000 during the harvest season to markets such as China, the UAE, Japan, and the Republic of Korea.

Son La province is home to an avocado cultivation area of more than 1,000 hectares with an expected output of nearly 4,000 tons this year. This year's harvest season lasts between July and September

According to local farmers, an avocado can weigh between one and 2.2 kilos with the average price of an avocado ranging between VND30,000 and VND35,000 per kilo.

With a number of high-yield avocado varieties and the use of organic farming techniques, the price of avocado can increase to between VND40,000 and VND50,000 per kilo, bringing in additional high income to many households in Son La.

To date, avocados from Son La have largely been consumed in the domestic market and are commonly sold to supermarkets in Hanoi such as Fivimart, Metro, and VinMart in addition to several other localities such as Yen Bai, Lang Son, Ha Nam, Hung Yen, and Thanh Hoa.

June's pepper exports up 58.8 per cent

Viet Nam exported 35,000 tonnes of pepper in June worth US$85 million, increasing by 58.5 per cent in volume and 20 per cent in value year-on-year.

The information was released by the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Import and Export Department. It said the price of pepper in the Vietnamese market is increasing following the world price, up from 1.1 per cent to 4.5 per cent compared with that of the previous month.

The lowest price is VND44,000 ($1.9) per kilo in the southern province of Dong Nai, while the highest price is VND47,000 in the southern province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau.

It is estimated that Viet Nam’s June pepper export reached 35,000 tonnes, worth US$85 million, down 7.9 per cent in volume and 9 per cent in value compared to the previous month. Its average price was $2,429 per tonne.

In the first half of this year, Viet Nam exported 181,000 tonnes of black pepper, recording revenue of $461 million, down by 25.7 per cent year on year.

The department forecasts that in the coming months, pepper exports may face difficulties due to Brazil and Indonesia preparing for their main harvest.

In the world market, the June pepper prices increased despite abundant supply. The upward trend is expected not to last long due to oversupply pressure.

According to the Vietnam Pepper Association, the pepper supply worldwide has currently surpassed demand. In the coming years, pepper production will continue to increase rapidly, and many pepper producing countries, including Viet Nam, will have significant inventory volume.

Pharmaceutical industry expects high growth

The European Chamber of Commerce in Viet Nam (Eurocham) highly values the potential of Viet Nam to become a centre for the research-based pharmaceutical industry including production, export and supplies of high quality healthcare services in the ASEAN region.

Pharma Group (PG) – the Pharmaceutical Sector Committee of EuroCham, which represents the voice of the international research-based pharmaceutical industry in the country – said Viet Nam has many advantages in the sector thanks to its population of 95 million, stable political climate and trained human resources. In addition, it is the gateway to ASEAN countries.

Viet Nam wants to clearly see the transition from production to innovation, research and development, services and e-healthcare, PG said.

The healthcare sector has become an industry which can promote innovation and creation. In which, research-based pharmaceutical companies would provide the main momentum.

Research from PG showed that Viet Nam has the ability to reach a higher position in the value chain of the science and life sector in comparison with other countries in the ASEAN region.

To fully tap this potential, Eurocham suggested foreign companies operating in the sector receive support from the Government, the Ministry of Health and other relevant ministries.

It said that foreign investors supported Decree 155, which has made many positive changes towards cutting procedures, thus creating favourable conditions for businesses in tenders and drug imports. However, they expect to have more dialogues relating to new requirements on certificates of pharmaceutical products (CPP).

Accordingly, they need formal dialogues between pharmaceutical management agencies and the Ministry of Health to have formal responses relating to the feasibility of new requirements on CPP in Viet Nam.

In addition, the ministry and businesses should conduct meetings to seek solutions on the quality of traceability of pharmaceutical products.

With the Government’s new policies, it is forecast that more foreign companies will enter the Vietnamese market to enjoy the country’s growing medicine demands.

The ministry’s data showed that the country’s drug imports last year increased by 8.8 per cent year-on-year to US$3.7 billion, reflecting growing local demand.

The Vietnamese drug market posted turnover of $5.2 billion in 2017, according to data from Business Monitor International. This is up about 10 per cent year-on-year and is expected to continue double-digit growth over the next five years.

Viet Nam’s drug spending per capita rose by 10.6 per cent on-year to about $53.5 in 2018, and is forecast to rise further in the near future, the ministry said.

Ministries need to complete regulations for equitisation of SOEs

Ministries and sectors by the end of the year need to complete legal documents promptly clear obstacles that are hindering the equitisation of State-owned enterprises, Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue said at a meeting of the Steering Committee for Innovation and Development of Businesses held in Ha Noi on July 8.

During the meeting to review equitisation, divestment and restructuring of State-owned enterprises (SOEs) and corporate development in the first half and tasks for the remaining months of this year, Deputy PM Hue, who is also the head of the steering committee, said the Ministry of Finance (MoF) should review decrees relating to equitisation of SOEs and public assets at equitised enterprises such as Decree 126/2017/ ND-CP, Decree 167/2017/ND-CP and Decree 32/2018/ND-CP.

It would review the plan on SOEs, especially economic groups and corporations in the period 2016-20 to propose solutions on implementation of the plan by year-end and next year, he said. The ministry must have a report on the review and the solutions this month to submit to the Government.

The MoF will work with the Government Office to issue a decree replacing Decision 22/2015/QD-TTg on conversion from non-business units into joint stock companies, he said.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment was asked to review regulations on the approval of State land use plans by equitised SOEs, and issue a circular guiding the implementation of Decree 126/2017/ND-CP on conversion from SOEs and one-member limited liability companies with 100 per cent charter capital invested by SOEs into joint-stock companies.

The Ministry of Planning and Investment must work with relevant ministries and agencies to hold a conference discussing the guiding role of major SOEs and groups in connectivity and renovation.

Also at the meeting, Hue asked the MoF and the State Bank of Viet Nam to review the situation and submit a corporate bond issuance plan to the Government for consideration, which must detail quota, criteria and credit rankings for the process.

The Deputy PM said the issuance of corporate bonds in Viet Nam is still developing while the nation needs more capital for the economy from other sources to reduce capital mobilisation from banks.

He requested ensuring transparency and safety for the issuance of corporate bonds.

The committee reported that in the first half of this year, it collected over VND5.5 trillion (US$240 million) in revenue from SOEs equitisation and divestment.

Since 2016, as many as 162 SOEs have been equitised with a total value of over VND205 trillion, or 108 per cent recorded during 2011-15. Revenue from initial public offerings topped VND24.8 trillion.

As of June, 796 SOEs were yet to register for listing on the stock market.

Since early this year, there have been more than 66,900 newly-established companies with total registered capital of over VND860 trillion. Over 21,600 others have resumed operations while more than 7,800 shut down, and more than 21,800 temporarily waited for dissolution.

As of June, there were 737,000 firms operating nationwide.

However, the progress of SOEs equitisation and divestment remains slow due to the lack of drastic directions by ministries, agencies and localities, delay in calculation of corporate value and land use approval.

Representatives from several groups and corporations said they meet difficulties in trademark pricing, and issues regarding intellectual property right, cultural and historical values when it comes to calculating starting price upon divestment.

Trà Vinh produces more peanut seeds in rainy season to meet demand

The Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta province of Trà Vinh has expanded production of peanut growing during the rainy season to meet demand for seeds and raise farmers' incomes.

The province, which is one of the delta’s largest peanut producers, produces only 15-25 per cent of peanut seeds and has to buy the rest from south-eastern and central regions.

In the 2018 autumn-winter crop, Trà Vinh University and the IFAD-funded Project for Adaptation to Climate Change in the Mekong Delta in Trà Vinh Province (AMD Trà Vinh) kicked off a pilot model for growing peanut seeds in the rainy season in Cầu Ngang District.

Seventeen farming households in Cầu Ngang’s Long Sơn Commune participated in the model and grew a total of 4.5ha of peanut seeds.

Under the pilot model, financial support was given to participating households to cover the cost of peanut seeds for cultivation and 30 per cent of the cost of fertiliser.

The farmers also received instruction in growing techniques suited to the rainy season.

Farmers generally grow only a small quantity of peanuts in the rainy season because the yield and quality is only 50 per cent of peanut yields grown in the winter-spring crop.

The participating households have harvested 7.5 tonnes of peanut seeds per hectare and earned a profit of VNĐ22 million (US$944) a hectare.

Trịnh Ngọc Ái, director of Trà Vinh University’s Biotechnology Centre, said the average yield per hectare of peanuts grown in the province has been more than 8 tonnes per hectare, the country’s highest.

Peanuts grown in the province have high quality, bright peel, and are suitable for processing and export, he said.

Most of the peanuts are usually grown during the winter-spring crop.

The province grows about 4,400ha of peanuts each year, mostly in Cầu Ngang and Duyên Hải districts and Duyên Hải Town.

Peanuts are the key crop of more than 2,000 households in Cầu Ngang, according to the district’s Agriculture and Rural Development Bureau.

Last year, the province’s People’s Committee spent VNĐ12 billion ($516,380) to improve peanut value chains between 2018 and 2020.

Households and companies involved in peanut cultivation, processing and trading are given support from local government agencies.

The province’s People’s Committee targets increasing the peanut area to 8,450ha with an annual output of 45,000 tonnes next year.

It also plans to develop a 500ha area for producing peanut seeds for cultivation. The area will produce two crops of peanut seeds with an annual output of 3,500 tonnes.

Sand dunes

The province has also restructured agricultural production in coastal sand dunes where peanut vines can grow, according to the local Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The province has more than 17,000ha of coastal sand dunes, the largest area in the delta. The dunes normally lack water in the dry season and are not suited for growing rice.

Because of their potential, peanuts and coconut have been chosen by the province for further development to enhance their value.

In the first half of the year, the province planted 3,862ha of peanuts, nearly equal to the same period last year, according to the local Statistics Office.

Vietnam’s employment rate on the rise in first half

The overall number of employed workers has seen an increase, particularly in the proportion of workers in the industrial, construction, and service sectors while the labour structure has seen a dramatic decrease in the proportion of workers in the agro-forestry and fisheries sector during the first half of the year.

The information was recently released by the General Statistics Office (GSO), which painted a positive picture of the country’s labour market during the first half of the year.

The unemployment rate in particular has gradually fallen while the salary of employees has enjoyed an increase. The nation’s workforce aged 15 and above during the year’s second quarter is estimated at 55.5 million, a rise of 25,800 people compared to the previous quarter.

This is attributable to the fact that the demand for jobs among people has seen a rebound with an increase of 335,100 people against the same period last year.

 

Of the figure, male workers are estimated to have reached 29.1 million, accounting for 52.4 per cent of the total number while the number of female workers stands at 26.4 million, making up 47.6 per cent.

Labourers aged 15 and above in urban and rural areas are estimated at 18.5 million people and 37 million people, making up 33.4 per cent and 66.6 per cent respectively.

In the first half of the year, the workforce aged from 15 stood at 55.4 million people, an increase of 334.000 people against last year’s corresponding period. The rate of labourers participating in the workforce in the reviewed period is predicted to be at 76.5 per cent.

The labour force of working age in the second quarter of the year was 48.9 million, a rise of 41,600 people over the previous period and an increase of 454,400 people against the same period last year.

During the first half of the year, the number of workers of working age was 48.9 million, an on-year rise of 450,400 people.

In the five months leading up to June, the unemployment rate of labourers of working age was at 2.16 per cent, with 3.11 per cent in urban areas and 1.66 per cent in rural areas.

Vietnamese expat - founded bank debuts in Cambodia

MGN Emperor Bank will make bold investment in applying financial technology into developing its operation and products in pursuit of high efficiency and customer trust.

Om Visal, CEO of MGN Emperor Bank, made the statement during a ceremony held to debut the credit institution in the capital city of Phnom Penh on July 7.

Vu Quang Minh, Vietnamese Ambassador to Cambodia, and Chea Chanto, Governor of the National Bank of Cambodia, attended the event.

Huynh Kim Hao, a Vietnamese-Cambodian businessperson, is the founder and chairwoman of the bank.

Emperor has set a target of growing into a leading digital bank, not just in Cambodia, but throughout the region.

Governor Chanto voiced his high hopes on the future success of Emperor, which could help to further meet the increasing demands of customers for financial products and services, subsequently contributing to overall socio-economic development in Cambodia.

Two-way trade turnover between Vietnam and Cambodia has enjoyed vast growth in recent years. Last year, the bilateral trade amounted to US$4.7 billion in value, an annual rise of 23.5 per cent.

The number of Vietnamese companies eyeing deeper penetration into the Cambodian market is on the rise, which triggers increasing demands for financial transactions.

The debut of Emperor is expected to further facilitate business cooperation among firms from both countries.

Enterprises urged to take action amid Industry 4.0 wave

Local firms must prepare strategic digital transformation blueprints in line with technological changes emerging from Industry 4.0 in order to keep up with market trends, insiders have noted.

A recent survey by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) indicates that up to 75 per cent of manufacturing enterprises in Vietnam have run operations based on fully-depreciated machines.

Many also said that they had failed to remove out-of-date technologies from their manufacturing process. Up to 24 per cent of the queried firms affirmed that the technology they possess is of an average level of innovative performance. Indeed, only 1 per cent confirmed the use of advanced technologies.

Le Cong Thanh, CEO of InfoRe Technology firm, said that despite the Government priority given to leveraging the use of Industry 4.0 technologies and local firms’ additional attention to the advantages which the technologies could bring in, the widespread adoption faces considerable barriers relating to underqualified workforce. Therefore, Thanh called for the re-training of local IT engineers in order to make them adaptable to new technological waves.

Big data remains a common weakness for many companies, he added. “Vietnamese data sources are overused by overseas entities as they are primarily collected via software installed on local users’ smart phones. Therefore, domestic entities do not have much data necessary to build useful applications for the society.”

Another weakness is computing infrastructure which has forced most Vietnamese artificial intelligence researchers to stick to the free infrastructure provided by Google, he stressed.

Trinh Minh Giang, chairman of the Venture Management Consulting Group (VMCG), said that the key to domestic enterprises amid Industry 4.0 trends is to outline a clear and detailed plan to both update and make good use of technological advances.

In recent years, local firms have been paying closer attention to changes in digital advancements and technological applications.

“There are businesses operating with only four to five staff but they can earn hundreds of millions of USD thanks to a proper operation scheme and the drastic application of technologies to optimize their business models. In the past three years, we have made investments into some subsidiaries to develop core technologies.”

Experts said that with Industry 4.0 approaching, businesses must sharpen changes to their perception of production methods and business environment, while also seeking ways to develop future technologies.

Vo Tri Thanh, Director of the Research Institute for Brand and Competitiveness Strategy, emphasized the significance of perfecting a legal framework of data development. This would be the first and foremost step in the process as data has close links to ownership, access rights, privacy, and data transfer, especially in cross-border shifting.

“We must take a drastic step in terms of data development for businesses, residents, and e-Government.”

A sufficient skill-based education system is also needed to provide the market with qualified workforce while efforts should also be raised to eliminate outdated and irrelevant technologies that hinder corporate development, and attract additional investment in developing and applying cutting-edge technologies into new business models.

Rising FDI calls for better supporting industry: experts

The domestic supporting industry needs to improve to take advantage of foreign direct investment (FDI) pouring into Việt Nam, experts have urged.

In the first six months of the year, Việt Nam attracted more than 1,720 new FDI projects with total registered capital of nearly US$7.5 billion, according to the General Department of Statistics.

The period also saw $9.1 billion of FDI being disbursed, an 8.1 per cent increase from the same period last year.

More foreign investors have also injected capital to buy shares of or contributed capital to Vietnamese businesses, totalling around $8.12 billion so far, nearly doubling the figure in the same period last year.

Dr Huỳnh Thanh Điền of the HCM City University of Economics said that while this was a positive sign for the economy, authorities should examine the capability of domestic businesses, especially those in the supporting industry.

The localisation rate in the supporting industry, for example, needs to be increased to attract foreign-invested companies.

Businesses' ability to be part of the global supply chain for supporting industries is still limited. For instance, car manufacturers in Việt Nam have to import most parts, while the electrical and electronics industry has to import nearly all of its auxiliary products such as components, plastics and rubber products.

Nguyễn Phương Đông, deputy director of the city Department of Industry and Trade, said that many domestic supporting industry businesses continued to struggle with capital problems, lack of access to market information, and limited management capability to participate into the global supply chain.

A survey conducted by the department and Samsung showed that the number of faulty products and inventory goods in Vietnamese supporting businesses was still high, and the prices of their products were relatively high and non-competitive.

In addition, there is no concentrated industrial park dedicated to the supporting industry, so manufacturers in the industry are dispersed throughout many areas.

Without an industrial park and adequate infrastructure, businesses find it difficult to satisfy FDI companies' demands.

To help improve business capability, the department and the city have organised many programmes, one of which businesses received capability evaluation, innovative advices, and preferential interest rates to renovate their technologies.

Đông said the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the city would organise more events for the supporting industry to network and learn more about the demands of end-product manufacturers.

Việt Nam’s research-based pharmaceutical industry expects high growth

The European Chamber of Commerce in Việt Nam (Eurocham) highly values the potential of Việt Nam to become a centre for the research-based pharmaceutical industry including production, export and supplies of high quality healthcare services in the ASEAN region.

Pharma Group (PG) – the Pharmaceutical Sector Committee of EuroCham, which represents the voice of the international research-based pharmaceutical industry in the country – said Việt Nam has many advantages in the sector thanks to its population of 95 million, stable political climate and trained human resources. In addition, it is the gateway to ASEAN countries.

Việt Nam wants to clearly see the transition from production to innovation, research and development, services and e-healthcare, PG said.

The healthcare sector has become an industry which can promote innovation and creation. In which, research-based pharmaceutical companies would provide the main momentum.

Research from PG showed that Việt Nam has the ability to reach a higher position in the value chain of the science and life sector in comparison with other countries in the ASEAN region.

To fully tap this potential, Eurocham suggested foreign companies operating in the sector receive support from the Government, the Ministry of Health and other relevant ministries.

It said that foreign investors supported Decree 155, which has made many positive changes towards cutting procedures, thus creating favourable conditions for businesses in tenders and drug imports. However, they expect to have more dialogues relating to new requirements on certificates of pharmaceutical products (CPP).

Accordingly, they need formal dialogues between pharmaceutical management agencies and the Ministry of Health to have formal responses relating to the feasibility of new requirements on CPP in Việt Nam.

In addition, the ministry and businesses should conduct meetings to seek solutions on the quality of traceability of pharmaceutical products.

With the Government’s new policies, it is forecast that more foreign companies will enter the Vietnamese market to enjoy the country’s growing medicine demands.

The ministry’s data showed that the country’s drug imports last year increased by 8.8 per cent year-on-year to US$3.7 billion, reflecting growing local demand.

The Vietnamese drug market posted turnover of $5.2 billion in 2017, according to data from Business Monitor International. This is up about 10 per cent year-on-year and is expected to continue double-digit growth over the next five years.

Việt Nam’s drug spending per capita rose by 10.6 per cent on-year to about $53.5 in 2018, and is forecast to rise further in the near future, the ministry said.

Mekong, south-east regions told to take advantages of technology and favourable climate to develop mushroom production

The Mekong Delta and south-eastern regions have great potential for growing mushroom year round thanks to their favourable climate and availability of vast quantities of agricultural by-products that can be used as inputs, according to the National Agricultural Extension Centre.

Besides, farmers in the regions basically know all about mushroom breeding techniques and cultivation of straw, fungus, button and oyster mushrooms while the demand for the fungus has been growing gradually.

Tran Van Khoi, acting director of the centre, told a forum on hi-tech mushroom production held in An Giang Province last week that it has developed in southern provinces, generating good incomes for farmers.

They grow 16 kinds of mushrooms with an annual output of 250,000 tonnes, earning US$25-30 million from exports.

Oyster mushrooms fetch $2,600 per tonne, which is higher than from other agricultural products, besides which mushroom cultivation helps use up a large quantity of agricultural residues and creates employment, Khoi said.

The Mekong and south-eastern regions have farming residues like straw that could be used to grow mushrooms, but production of the fungi is well below potential because of poor use of technology.

Le Quang Thai of the Nacentech Technology and Business Incubator Centre, said the diversity of edible and medicinal mushrooms in Viet Nam is still poor.

The use of technology, such as environmental sensors and automation, has not been considered, he said.

The biggest problem is in the area of post-harvest preservation technologies since mushrooms are mainly consumed fresh or dried and salted for export within 24 hours after harvest, he said.

Mushrooms are mostly still cultivated manually in traditional ways since farmers do not know they can improve productivity with technology, he said.

They should use technologies more to increase production of high-quality mushrooms, he added.

​​​​​​​La Lanh brand of safe vegetables enters market

The La Lanh brand of vegetables grown to Vietnamese Good Agricultural Practices standards in the central province of Binh Dinh has hit the market.

It is being sold by Big C Quy Nhon supermarket since July 6.

The development of the La Lanh brand is one of the key components of the five-year New Zealand Aid Programme-funded Binh Dinh Safe Vegetables Project which begun in 2016.

The collaborative project between the governments of Viet Nam and New Zealand is implemented by the Binh Dinh Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and the New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research Limited.

Its goal is to improve the safety and economic and environmental sustainability of vegetable farming and the safety of consumers.

It is being put into practice in eight target districts and towns in the province.

Phan Trong Ho, director of the province Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said, “The launch of La Lanh branded produce is significant for Binh Dinh safe vegetable farms.

“The area under La Lanh safe vegetables will be expanded and [the produce] will be sold through commercial channels throughout the country.”

The cultivation systems used by farmers growing produce under the La Lanh brand are suited to local conditions and have been designed carefully for safe production and post-harvest handling and to meet high food quality and safety standards, Dr Michael Lay-Yee, programme director for the project, said.

The New Zealand ambassador to Viet Nam, Wendy Matthews, said more than 500 households have benefited so far from the project.

Quang Tri: over 1.7 bln USD poured into economic, industrial zones

Economic zones and industrial parks in the central province of Quang Tri attracted over 40 trillion VND (over 1.7 billion USD) from 150 investment projects as of July this year.

Quang Tri is currently home to the southeast coastal economic zone, Lao Bao special economic zone and three IPs, namely Nam Dong Ha, Quan Ngang and Tay Bac Ho Xa. These have lured a great number of investment projects, mainly in the fields of thermal and gas-fueled power, and infrastructure development.

The My Thuy deep sea port, invested by the My Thuy International Port Joint Venture Company with total capital of 14 trillion VND (over 602.4 million USD), is among major projects implemented in the locality. Covering an area of 685 ha, the port includes 10 ports, which are capable of receiving 100,000-tonne ships.

The Lao Bao special economic zone located in the East-West Economic Corridor, has attracted 50 projects in service, garment and processing.

Meanwhile, the local IPs are attractive to investors in garment for export, medium density fibreboard (MDF) production, and high-tech agriculture.

More and more foreign enterprises are interested in IPs and economic zones in Quang Tri.

The Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand invested in Quang Tri 1 Thermal Power Plant a capacity of 1.320MW under the form of build-operate-transfer (BOT); and the Gazprom Group of Russia injected money in a gas power plant with a capacity of 340 MW.

Industrial production value in economic and industrial zones in Quang Tri has reached nearly 5 trillion VND, creating jobs for about 6,000 workers.

The local authorities have offered many incentives on taxes, insurance, and land, aiming to lure more enterprises to invest in economic and industrial zones. The locality gives priority to investment projects in energy development, towards turning it into an energy centre in the north central region.

According to Chairman of the provincial People's Committee Nguyen Duc Chinh, the locality aims to have 5,000 MW of electricity from thermal, gas, wind, solar and hydropower plants by 2025.

Dong Thap mobilises 9 million USD to develop border communes

The Mekong Delta province of Dong Thap has so far mobilised over 208 billion VND (8.94 million USD) for the construction of public works and infrastructure systems as part of the new-style rural area building programme in eight border communes of Tan Hong, Hong Ngu districts and Hong Ngu town.

The capital mostly came from the central and local budgets, and contributions from the community, said Nguyen Thanh Hung, Vice Chairman of the People’s Committee of Dong Thap.

Hung said that in the first six months of this year, 39 public works were built in the eight localities at a cost of 32 billion VND, while many transport works have been repaired and upgraded.

At the same time, 28 irrigation and power supply works were constructed, including six clean water supply works that provide safe water to soldiers in four border guard posts and 1,900 border residents.

Twenty-one flood-resilient works worth over 19 billion VND were built at local schools.

So far, Dong Thap has two border communes – Tan Hoi and Binh Thanh – recognised as new-style rural areas.

Meanwhile, the prevention and combat against cross-border criminals have been strengthened, ensuring security and defence, creating favourable conditions for locals in economic development.

Currently, the eight communes have had concrete roads allowing vehicles to access their downtown, while 99.64 percent of locals have enjoyed power supply, and 97 percent of households have been provided with clean water. Per capita income of locals has reached 35.74 million per year.

In the first six months of this year, the rate of poor households in the communes was reduced 3.67 percent.

Japanese firms eye former Vietnamese interns: newspaper

Japanese enterprises are competing to attract Vietnamese workers who used to work in the country as interns after the ‘specified skills visa’ policy was launched on April 1, The Yomiuri Shimbun reported in its July 8 issue.

The policy introduces a new visa category that allows foreign workers employed in 14 types of jobs, including nursing care, restaurants and construction, to remain in the country for up to five years.

According to the newspaper, in mid-June the Hanshin union of iron and steel workers, which includes manufacturers operating in the iron, steel and machine manufacturing sectors in Hyogo prefecture, organised a workshop in Ho Chi Minh City to introduce the new visa policy for former Vietnamese interns.

The union’s representative showed hope that these interns would return to Japan to work, said the article, adding that the union started receiving skilled interns in 2003, and has to date trained around 3,000 foreign workers.

In addition, another union in the construction field is planning to attract former Vietnamese interns.

However, Japan has so far made little progress in accepting more foreign workers. As of the end of June, there had been 320 applications for the new “specified skilled worker” residence status. Of that number, only 20 applicants had been granted the status. This is far from the government’s target of accepting up to 47,550 foreign workers this fiscal year.

Among 14 types of jobs regulated in the policy, just three are organising skill tests – a compulsory condition to receive foreign workers.

As of late 2018, there were 328,000 foreign interns working in Japan, a half of whom are Vietnamese.

 
 
 
 
 
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