BUSINESS NEWS 18/6

Year's 2nd Vietbuild to be held in HCM City this week


The Vietbuild International Exhibition with the theme construction, building materials, real estate, and interior and exterior decoration will be held in HCM City from June 19 to 23.

The second Vietbuild expo to be held this year in the city -- five on various themes will be held this year -- will have 2,350 booths set up by nearly 800 companies from 27 countries and territories, including the US, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Australia, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Thailand, China and Viet Nam.

On display will be building materials, electrical equipment, interior and exterior decorative items, hygiene equipment, smart home systems, door and door accessories, paints, and others.

Business-matching events and seminars will be held on its sidelines, including a seminar on new building materials and another on technology and building materials for smart cities.

Nguyen Quang Cung, deputy chairman of the Viet Nam Construction Materials Association, said: “Many new building materials will be introduced at the exhibition, including nano concrete and composite doors."

Nguyen Tran Nam, chairman of the Viet Nam Real Estate Association and head of the expo’s organisation committee, said it would be one of the largest Vietbuild exhibitions to be held this year.

The exhibitions offer companies a forum to meet, exchange information, explore co-operation prospects, and introduce their latest products and technologies, he said.

The exhibition will be held at the Saigon Exhibition and Convention Centre in District 7.

VinaCapital Ventures announces Rever investment

VinaCapital Ventures, the technology investment arm of VinaCapital, announced last week it has invested $4 million in Rever, one of Vietnam’s leading tech-enabled real estate brokerage platforms.

While there is no lack of real estate agencies in Vietnam, home buyers face an often-daunting task. Rever’s technology helps make the process a little easier and builds customer trust. The company offers price preference tools using real market data analytics, with listing tracking incorporated with interactive media. The real-time transaction management gives the most value to homebuyers and sellers, while equipping agents with a smart CRM and property database.

Aiming to become a one-stop shop for all accommodation-related needs, Rever expects to add more valuable tools and services to its platform soon, including loan brokerage, digital furniture fitting, and smart-home solutions. Rever’s roughly 400 agents will close 2,000 transactions through the platform this year.

The company hopes to play an important role in the Vietnamese Government’s initiatives to develop digital economy 4.0 by making real estate transactions in Vietnam safer and more transparent.

“This investment is consistent with our philosophy of targeting startups that are disrupting how industries operate, are operated by founders with vision and experience, and are capitalizing on the continued robust expansion of Vietnam’s economy,” said Mr. Khanh Tran, Partner at VinaCapital Ventures.

“VinaCapital is a long-time real estate investor and developer, so this investment is also very strategic for us. Rever has the potential to lead the transformation of the real estate business, from one that is still very much based on bricks-and-mortar to one that is a key part of the digital economy.”

“We are excited to partner with VinaCapital, whose experience and network will give us the resources to reach our potential in Vietnam and potentially beyond,” said Mr. Manh Phan, Co-founder and CEO of Rever. “With one of the strongest track records in both real estate and venture capital, VinaCapital is the ideal partner to help us take our company to its next stage of growth.”

Founded in 2016, Rever defines itself as a brokerage company connecting technology with brokers and a pioneer in using 3D technology to introduce housing to customers. It completed nearly 300 transactions in the first quarter, after growing more than four-fold in 2018 compared to 2017, earning revenue of more than $1.6 million.

Rever believes the application of technology in real estate brokerage will help with the search process and information comparisons, make real estate transactions faster and more transparent for buyers, and help sellers have a clearer picture of valuations, while allowing brokers to increase their performance and service quality.

Vietnam’s property market continues to expand, both in new developments and secondary sales, according to Mr. Tran. A growing middle class and demand for affordable homes should continue to drive strong market growth for the foreseeable future.

In addition to Rever, VinaCapital Ventures has also announced investments in FastGo, Logivan, Urbox, and Wee Digital.

Government advocacy represents boon to cashless payments

BUSINESS NEWS 18/6

The Government should build up and complete centralized databases that allow connections with e-payments for public services, with the aim of giving a push to nationwide cashless transactions, Pham Tien Dung, head of the Payment Department under the State Bank of Vietnam, has suggested.

Cashless payment has emerged as an inevitable trend of the domestic financial and monetary markets as non-cash consumption has witnessed a string of positive changes, especially in major cities.
Addressing a recent workshop, Dung stressed the need to upgrade and integrate the information technology systems of public service providers in order to make them compatible with payment solutions.

Cashless payment has emerged as an inevitable trend of the domestic financial and monetary markets as non-cash consumption has witnessed a string of positive changes, especially in major cities. Elsewhere, credit institutions have begun diversifying products dedicated to enterprises and public units with non-cash transactions.

Over the past few years, e-wallets have become more familiar to urban residents, particularly young people. It is now common among young consumers to use e-wallets as a means of payment for most of their expenses, especially those for ride hailing services, shopping, and drink orders.

E-wallet providers have teamed up with commercial banks to increase their network of users while installing additional e-wallet acceptance points to better meet the needs of customers.

“How to change the habits of consumers remains a challenging issue. It comes as a positive sign that the number of e-wallet providers is increasing while the Government is pushing for the development of e-payment," said Nguyen Ba Diep, Vice Chairman of MoMo e-wallet provider.

Credit institutions have been strongly involved in promoting e-payment methods through expanding their network of card users and developing new card products for businesses, notably customer (C) to business (B) services and B to B ones.

In fact, cash management costs enterprises 4.7 to 15 per cent of their total expenses, while 92 per cent of their orders are made manually, costing them an additional 5 per cent, said Le Thi Diem Phuong, senior manager of the small and medium - sized enterprise division of VPBank.

According to a report by the multinational professional services provider PwC which surveyed 27 countries, Vietnam was the fastest growing market for mobile payments in 2018 with the proportion of mobile payment consumers increasing from 37 per cent to 61 per cent.

Last year, the country’s inter-bank electronic payment system safely handled transactions with a total value of VND73 quadrillion (US$3.13 trillion), a hike of 25 per cent on year. Most notably, mobile payments leaped by 169.5 per cent in value compared to the previous year.

There are many advantages to boost e-payments via the internet and mobile phones nationwide. In a bid to bolster the development of such payment methods, the central bank should continue to direct commercial banks and payment service providers to raise public awareness of e-payment related benefits. They are also being encouraged to increase the use of leading-edge banking and finance technologies in operations.

The adoption of cashless payments will definitely go up if non-cash payments are used for public services such as health care and education, rather than regular electricity and water bills.

Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue noted that the rapid growth of cashless payments, which is believed to further bolster the development of services, would help to shorten the gap between Vietnam and regional peers.

A vast adoption of non-cash payments is needed to accelerate the implementation of a comprehensive financial strategy with no one left behind.

VinFast car factory put into operation

Local automaker VinFast, a subsidiary of Vietnamese conglomerate Vingroup, today, June 14, inaugurated its factory at Dinh Vu Industrial Park in the northern city of Haiphong.

As the most crucial facility in the carmaker’s automobile and electric motorbike manufacturing complex, the plant began construction on September 2, 2017, covering over 500,000 square meters of land, with an annual capacity of 250,000 automobiles during the first phase and up to 500,000 units during the second phase. It can churn out 38 cars per hour.

Besides leading the regional market in terms of scale and modernity, VinFast is also the first local car plant to have a production process that is completely synchronized, closed and almost fully automatic with six workshops for stamping, welding, painting, engine production and assembly.

These workshops were connected to various robots and smart manufacturing monitors to maximize productivity.

VinFast is the only local carmaker that can make major car parts, such as engines.

Besides this, the plant has set three world records, including reaching completion three months ahead of schedule. It took the plant 21 months to complete construction work and install a production chain for mass production. Also, it rolled out sample cars 11 months after the plant was built. Further, VinFast commercial cars were launched on the market in less than two years.

The local carmaker has now set a new record as it has received 10,000 purchase orders from customers one year prior to the official launch of its cars.

After the ceremony to launch the plant today, VinFast will hand over the first cars to customers two months earlier than scheduled. Its Fadil cars will be delivered to customers starting June 17, while its Lux A 2.0 and Lux SA 2.0 models are slated for handover by end-July.

300 local product lines expected to enjoy sharp tariff cuts under CPTPP

The Ministry of Finance plans to issue tax frames on preferential import tariffs, which are expected to also apply to 300 Vietnamese products, as part of its implementing the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) in the 2019-2020 period.

In a draft decree on the tax frames, 300 Vietnamese product lines are entitled to much steeper tariff cuts than products in other free trade agreements (FTA) between Vietnam and other countries.

The finance ministry and the General Department of Vietnam Customs have also released comparisons between tariff lines under FTAs and CPTPP, so local firms can choose the most appropriate preferential duties for them.

In order to enjoy the sharp tariff cuts under CPTPP, local firms must own preferential Certificates of Origin meeting the requirements of the 11-member trade pact. These certificates must be provided for multiple batches of goods to be used for no more than 12 months, as well as for different importers.

The preferential tariffs applied to Vietnamese product lines being shipped to countries that are CPTPP members are carried out in two phases.

At the end of 2018, four CPTPP member countries, including Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Singapore, had abolished tariff lines for aquatic products, rice, coffee, fruits and vegetables imported from Vietnam. In addition, Vietnam has been entitled to tax reductions from Mexico, Chile, and Peru beginning in 2019.

Data released by the Import-Export Department at the Ministry of Industry and Trade indicates that a combined import turnover among the 10 CPTPP partners reached almost US$2.5 trillion, while Vietnam had exported products worth some US$42 billion to these countries, accounting for a mere 1.7% of the total figure. Accordingly, there is much room left for Vietnam to continue shipping more products to CPTPP partners.

Trade disputes take toll on local firms

International trade disputes involving local enterprises are found to have caused great economic losses for them, said officials at a workshop in the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho on Friday.

Held by the Can Tho branch of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI Can Tho) and the Vietnam International Arbitration Center (VIAC), the workshop focused on risk management in trade and legal barriers in key markets, given the rising tendency of protectionism across the world.

Vo Thi Thu Huong, deputy director of VCCI Can Tho, said that between 1993 and March 2019, the VIAC offered its resolution services to 168 trade disputes in China, 97 in South Korea, 58 in the United States and 23 in Japan.

“The total number of cases was a small number from 1993 to 2018, but their value was enormous,” she said, adding that the accumulated value amounted to more than VND2.27 trillion for those disputes handled by the VIAC in South Korea, VND3.5 trillion in Japan, and VND366 billion in the United States.

Notably, the accumulated value of the disputes in China was 179 times higher than in the United States, at more than VND65.4 trillion during the period.

These figures are only “a slide of the picture” about the number of disputes during the international economic integration of Vietnamese firms, according to Huong.

She added that local firms might take much time in dealing with these cases, while their business operations could have been severely affected. Their value could cause them to risk possible bankruptcy, as well.

Le Thanh Kinh, head of the HCMC-based Le Nguyen Law Office, who is also a VIAC arbitrator, told the Saigon Times on the sidelines of the workshop that the disputes between local firms and their Chinese partners are largely due to trade in border markets involving a variety of agricultural products, including fruit and food.

The payments for many deals are made in cash, with 30%-50% of their value in advance. In case of market fluctuations, Chinese partners have opted not to receive goods ordered from Vietnamese firms. This means local firms could not receive the entire value of their products, leading to disputes in payment.

Another issue is when the quality of goods and input materials, mainly in garment and chemicals from China into Vietnam, is of poor quality. As a result, local manufacturers find it difficult to ensure the quality of their products, and they have no other choice but to file lawsuits about substandard commodities.

Credit institutions recover US$251 million of bad debts each month

Credit institutions have handled an average of VND5.8 trillion (US$251.52 million) per month since the implementation of a National Assembly resolution on the pilot settlement of bad debts began in August 2017, much higher than the figure recorded over the previous five years.

The information was released by the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) during a June 13 press conference briefing participants on the outstanding results of the banking sector during the first half of the year.

Nguyen Quoc Hung, head of the SBV’s Credit Department, said that by June 10, the total outstanding loans rose by 5.75 per cent in comparison with the end of 2018. Credit was being increasingly allocated for prioritized production and business fields as directed by the Government. The control of loans to risky business sectors was also tightened.

Hung added that after nearly two years of implementing the National Assembly’s Resolution 42/2017/QH14 on the pilot settlement of bad debts of credit institutions (Resolution No. 42), the banking sector has reaped a number of positive outcomes on curbing bad debts while leveraging credit institutions to rearrange their operations and tackle bad debts as well.

Nationwide credit institutions settled VND907 trillion (US$39.33 billion) between 2012 and March 2019. As for 2018, as much as VND163 trillion (US$7.06 billion) in bad debts was handled. The bad debt ratio stood at 2.02 per cent by late March this year.

Since the implementation of Resolution No.42 between August 15 2017 and the end of March 2019, the banking sector settled an average of VND5.8 trillion (US$251.52 million) per month, far higher than the VND4 trillion (US$173.46 million) level of the 2012-17 period.

Nguyen Thi Hong, SBV Deputy Governor, said that in the near future, the central bank would continue to carry out a scheme to restructure credit institutions as a means of bettering their bad debt settlement by 2020, with a particular focus on tackling poor-performing ones.

Attempts are to be made to realize efficiently Resolution No.42, handle debts in accordance with market mechanisms, as well as curb the internal bad debt ratio below 2 per cent, the deputy governor stressed.

Netherlands eyes cashew industry in Binh Phuoc

Orientations to develop Binh Phuoc cashew nut brand was the focus of discussion at a meeting between representatives from the People’s Committee of southern Binh Phuoc province, the Dutch Embassy and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development on June 14.

Marco Trimborn - CEO in charge of European and Asian markets of the Mekong Corporation Europe BV (MCE) of the Netherlands - highlighted the great potential of Binh Phuoc for developing cashew, saying that his firm wants to join in the field, towards developing Binh Phuoc cashew into an international brand.

He said MCE plans to invest about 250 million USD in the work, focusing on building infrastructure facilities for planting organic cashew trees and processing clean cashew nut for export.

It will consider the possibility to expand the high-quality cashew material area in Bu Dang district with a total area of 200,000 ha, and support the development of another 5,000-ha material area that is capable of tracing and complying with strict export conditions to the European market.

MCE will also serve as a bridge for exporting the locality’s cashew nut meeting standards for the European market, towards exporting organic cashew nut and by-products from cashew trees.

Representatives of Binh Phuoc’s relevant departments and sectors provided information on cashew development in the locality, and hoped Dutch enterprises will consider specific investment plans to help increase the value of products.

Vice Chairwoman of the provincial People’s Committee Huynh Thi Hang said the locality has planned to plant 200,000 ha of cashew in the coming time, proposing the Dutch side to have specific plan for investment, thus supporting Binh Phuoc in building organic cashew material zones.

Payment means up 5 per cent in six-month period

 

The total means of payment rose by 5.17 per cent during the first half of 2019 compared with the end of 2018 whilst the liquidity of the credit institution system remained secure.

The State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) made the statement in a report highlighting the outstanding outcomes that the banking sector has achieved during the six-month period.

Pham Thanh Ha, head of the SBV’s Monetary Policy Department, said that the six-month credit was poured into prioritized production and business fields as directed by the Government, whilst that for risky business fields was tightly controlled. Deposit and lending rates remained stable, with annual short-term lending rates ranging from 6 - 9 per cent and medium and long-term ones at 9 - 11 per cent.

Ha noted that the central bank will continue to regulate monetary policy in a harmonious and prudent manner while seeking to refinance enterprises in line with the Government's guidance. “A synchronous combination of tools and measures to intervene the foreign exchange market will be deployed if needed”.

The SBV has taken over solutions to synchronously handle bad debts in line with those aimed to exert the control of newly arising bad debts, thus helping to improve credit quality and curb the bad debt ratio of the credit institution system.

Nguyen Trong Du, deputy chief inspector of the SBV Banking Supervision Agency, reported that the entire credit institution system settled VND907.330 trillion (US$39.01 billion) worth of bad debts from 2012 to the end of March 2019.

In 2018 alone, as many as VND163.140 trillion (US$7.01 billion) of bad debts were handled. The internal bad debt ratio stood at 2.02 per cent by late March 2019, Du added.

In the coming time, the central bank will increasingly supervise the implementation of the National Assembly’s Resolution No.42 on the pilot settlement of bad debts for credit institutions. Specific focus will be placed on inspecting credit institutions whose bad debt settlements have not significantly improved, the inspector unveiled.

Pham Tien Dung, head of the SBV Payment Department, said that the central bank made great attempts to perfect the legal framework and implement a comprehensive range of solutions to accelerate cashless payments.

The number of transactions made through the inter-bank e-payment system reached 64.16 million during the first five months of 2019, with the total value of VND35.728 quadrillion (US$1.53 trillion).

The central bank looks to further promote the implementation of a project on restructuring the credit institution system in association with bad debt settlements by 2020.

Focus is to be placed on effectively handling poor-performing credit institutions, speeding up the handling of bad debts under market mechanisms, tightening control of newly arising bad debts, and slashing the internal bad debt ratio to below 2 per cent.

Đồng Tháp converts rice fields to grow more lucrative crops

Farmers in the Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta province of Đồng Tháp have switched to growing short-term crops often in rotation with rice and perennial trees on more than 16,000ha of infertile rice fields since last year.

They mostly grow vegetables, corn, sesame, soy bean, sweet potato, lotus, mango, longan, orange, and jackfruit.

The short-term crops provide an income of VNĐ10-300 million (US$428-12,850) per hectare more than rice while the perennial trees fetch VNĐ90-500 million ($3,850-21,420) more, according to the province Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Lê Thị Kim Châu, who now uses her 4,000sq.m of land to grow water spinach for their seeds in Hồng Ngự District’s Thường Phước 1, said she needs less water now than for rice and the crop is easy to grow.

Amid climate change and drought, rice yields in her area are not high, and so she decided to grow water spinach, she said.

“[It] offers higher incomes than rice.”

The switch to drought-resistant crops in the dry season has been providing farmers with high incomes in recent years.

Now, in the ongoing summer – autumn rice crop, farmers have switched to sesame on more than 1,000ha.

Lê Hồng Hòa, chairman of the Tân Tạo farmers’ clubhouse in Tân Hồng District’s Bình Phú Commune, said after harvesting his 3ha of winter – spring rice, he decided to switch to sesame in summer – autumn.

The income from sesame is many times higher than from rice, he added.

The rotation also helps reduce diseases during the succeeding rice crop and the soil to regain fertility, according to the department.

Nguyễn Phước Thiện, its deputy director, said the province plans to use a total of 77,000ha of infertile rice fields to grow short - term crops and perennial trees in 2018-20.

Agricultural restructuring in the province has improved the value of agricultural produce and established co-operation models for producing and consuming agricultural produce.

The province, which was the country’s first locality to implement restructuring agriculture five years ago, has chosen rice, flowers and ornamental plants, mango, tra fish and ducks as key products for restructuring.

Nguyễn Văn Dương, chairman of the provincial People’s Committee, said the province has many support policies to expand advanced farming models and the use of advanced farming techniques to increase value.

The advanced farming models include a model to grow flowers and ornamental plants in net houses with spray irrigation facilities at the Tân Quy Đông Flower and Ornamental Plant Co-operative in Sa Đéc City.

The model to grow mango under Vietnamese and global good agricultural practice standards of the Mỹ Xương Mango Co-operative in Cao Lãnh District and a rice farming model of the Mỹ Đông 2 Agricultural Services Co-operative in Tháp Mười District are among the advanced farming models.

Most of the produce chosen for restructuring is subject to clean production standards and will be guaranteed outlets, according to the province’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The province’s mango cultivation, which tops the Delta, produces nearly 127,000 tonnes of mango a year.

Mango farmers can earn a profit of VNĐ200-220 million ($8,560-9,410) per hectare a year.

The province produces more than 3 million flower pots and ornamental plants a year. Farmers earn an average profit of VNĐ10 million ($427) for every 1,000 flower pots.

In rice production, the province has developed co-operation models between farmers and companies to help farmers increase profits by VNĐ3-4 million ($128-170) a hectare per crop.

Thiện, deputy director of the department, said: “The province will continue restructuring agriculture to adapt to climate change and establish advanced farming models for rice, fish and fruit cultivation.”

It will also expand efficient irrigation technologies and establish production chains in which farmers co-operate with companies to produce and buy agricultural produce.

The province, one of the country’s largest rice producers, grows about 520,00ha of rice with a total yield of 3.32 million tonnes of paddy a year.

Effective co-operatives

The province’s agricultural co-operatives have played an important role in restructuring agriculture and adapting to climate change.

As of the end of last year, the province had 166 agricultural co-operatives, according to the department.

The co-operatives had an average profit of VNĐ200 million ($8,560) last year. The province’s agricultural co-operatives have applied advanced farming techniques by using net houses, efficient irrigation facilities and organic fertiliser.

Nguyễn Văn Huỳnh, director of the Thuận Tiến Co-operative in Cao Lãnh District, said the co-operative has co-operated with companies to buy rice from its members’ 650ha of rice.

The rice from the co-operative members is bought at VNĐ150 per kilo higher than the market price, he said.

Lê Minh Hoan, secretary of the province’s Party Committee, said co-operatives are an important link in agricultural production chains and help farmers improve production methods in the context of climate change.

Over VND907.3 trillion of bad debts settled in 7 years: SBV

Local credit institutions had settled bad debts worth VND907.33 trillion (US$38.9 billion) between 2012 and March this year, said Nguyen Trong Du, deputy chief inspector of the Banking Inspection and Supervision Agency under the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV).

At a press briefing held on June 13, Du said the figure was VND163.14 trillion in 2018 alone.

Since early this year, the total money supply has increased by 5.17% over the end of last year, said Pham Thanh Ha, head of the SBV's Monetary Policy Department. The central bank aims to increase the rate to 13% this year, while credit is expected to grow 14%.

Interest rates at credit institutions have been kept stable. Lending rates ranged from 6% to 9% for short-term loans and from 9% to 11% for medium- and long-term loans.

As of June 10, the outstanding loans had increased by 5.75% against the end of last year, mainly going to production and business activities and priority sectors. Specifically, loans to the export-processing sector had increased 13%; hi-tech enterprises, 14.33%; and small and medium firms, 5.04%.

According to Nguyen Quoc Hung, director of the SBV’s Credit Department, banks have basically met the capital demand of individuals and enterprises.

Since the beginning of the year, the SBV has asked banks to deploy solutions to create easier access to loans and reduce black credit, Hung added.

Meanwhile, credit for sectors of high risks, especially the property sector, has been tightened. In order to ensure the sustainable development of the real estate sector, the Government had earlier assigned the central bank to encourage credit institutions to prioritize loans for projects to develop social houses, low-cost commercial houses and houses for rent.

In the coming period, the SBV will continue enhancing its control over credit for risky sectors, including property and securities, build-transfer and build-operate-transfer projects as well as consumer credit.

At the press conference, the SBV also informed that in the first five months of the year, 64.16 million transactions valued at some VND35.7 trillion were conducted through the interbank electronic payment system, up over 23% in the number of transactions and nearly 18% in value year-on-year.

First on-demand Expert Service Cloud for analytics launched

Got It, an on-demand expert platform and artificial intelligence (AI) innovator, has launched Querychat for cloud data warehouses starting with Google BigQuery, making it the first on-demand Expert Service Cloud for analytics.

Querychat creates a scalable and elastic pool of vetted analytics experts to add business intelligence (BI) team capacity with usage-based pricing, and automatically delivers deep learning training data into a natural language processing (NLP) AI system. BI teams can now tap thousands of Got It experts around the globe 24/7 to quickly handle requests for queries and dashboards and eliminate backlog, while labelling user questions and corresponding SQL queries to train a Google BERT-based, Querychat TrueNLP AI without compromising data privacy.

“Analytics tools and cloud data warehouses are extremely sophisticated products. We help users get ten times more value from these products by empowering users to collaborate with our Querychat analytics experts anytime – just as we do for Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets users with Excelchat. Our on-demand platform with an analytics Expert Service Cloud now also gives line-of-business users and BI teams access to vetted analytics experts within 30 seconds for a 20-minute, chat messaging workflow to help them create the right query or dashboard,” said Peter Relan, chairman and CEO of Got It. "BI teams can now scale easily to handle unlimited requests, via a low-cost, usage-based pricing model. Plus, we are solving the single biggest problem in machine learning: quickly getting the training data needed to build and train a company schema-specific AI model.”

Got It takes advantage of the advanced, full-sentence NLP in Google BERT, which is already pre-trained on a massive English corpus of 3.5 billion words. Leveraging BERT transfer learning for NLP and the data exhaust from user-expert chat conversations to train Got It’s deep learning AI model, Querychat breaks the constraints of keyword search-based, auto-complete Q&A available today.

“BI and analytics teams are always strapped for time and resources, making it hard to address all the queries users have of their data,” said Alec Winograd, founder of AppsCanvas. Wingrad, who built the Google BigQuery data warehouse for Quizlet, the leader in learning tools for tens of millions of learners, continued, “When you’re logging almost 10B events a month into BigQuery, you can save a lot of time and money with a system that protects data and handles natural language queries accurately, combined with an Expert service to add analyst capacity on-demand.”

Either from Querychat TrueNLP AI or an on-demand Querychat expert, BI teams using columnar data warehouses in the cloud now have a way to guarantee answers to questions instantly, empowering marketing, operations, business and product managers to ask ad-hoc questions in plain English sentences. By only providing access to the data warehouse schema and not relinquishing control of or access to the data, companies are able to ensure data privacy while avoiding the long installation and configuration time issues of existing solutions. BI teams also get a workflow to verify Querychat results.

Currently, Querychat supports Google BigQuery cloud data warehouses carrying Google Analytics and Salesforce CRM data. Got It plans to extend Querychat support to Azure Cloud Data Warehouse and other environments in 2019.

Harnessing the world’s brainpower to deliver on the promise of on-demand expert-powered AI, Got It helps software product users achieve business outcomes quickly by helping them use the best and most powerful product features in SaaS and PaaS products for their intended task. Delivering product usage and engagement help for software products rather than traditional technical support, Got It has built the world’s largest on-demand expert service cloud with over 10,000 vetted, trusted experts from over 79 countries and hosted millions of chat messaging sessions already on the Got It Platform for products like Microsoft Excel, Google Sheets and columnar data warehouses.

Got It’s goal is to empower any business user to be matched with a product expert within 30 seconds for a time-boxed 1:1 chat messaging session at the lowest possible cost, and then leverage those user-expert conversations to train companies’ proprietary AI models. Spun out from Peter Relan’s YouWeb incubator and backed by the Capricorn Investment Group and Kinzon Capital, Got It is led by a proven leadership team from Google, Lyft, Oracle, PayPal and Rakuten. The company is headquartered in Silicon Valley with an R&D group in Vietnam.

Thai Nguyen province on cusp of funding progress

Driven by strong administrative reform and growing interest among investors, the northern province of Thai Nguyen is emerging as one of the most attractive investment destinations in 2019, with a series of promising projects in the pipeline.

Earlier this month, Nhu Van Tam, Deputy Chairman of the Thai Nguyen People’s Committee, made a fact-finding trip to the construction site of Song Cong II Industrial Zone (IZ) with a view to fast-tracking the project and completing the infrastructure for investors in this September.

Song Cong II IZ is one of six IZs in Thai Nguyen’s development planning scheduled to call for investment. The six IZs are planned on 1,420 hectares and will be complemented by 35 industrial clusters of 1,259ha to welcome potential investors.

This move is to prepare for the potential new investments in the months to come. According to the Ministry of Planning and Investment, Thai Nguyen attracted $445.5 million worth of foreign direct investment (FDI) in 2018, ranking 16th among cities and provinces. The figure is on an upward trend as in the first five months of 2019, the province approved the investment plans and granted investment certificates to 25 projects, totalling VND1.37 trillion ($59.57 million).

Industry insiders said that the figure is forecast to rise strongly this year thanks to many potential projects. At present, a number of projects are being prepared to be kicked off. In particular, Vietnam’s leading property developer FLC Group is preparing for its two projects worth VND18.32 trillion ($796.52 million): the FLC Thai Nguyen new urban area and the FLC resort complex, with compensation and site clearance for the first phase to be completed in 2019.

Similarly, the giants Masan and Samsung pledged to expand operations in the province, while T&T Group will develop five projects worth over VND46 trillion ($2 billion) in total. Many others from the 31 projects registered for investment in Thai Nguyen with the total investment capital of VND16.3 trillion ($708.7 million) at the 2018 Investment Promotion Conference are also in the preparation stage.

Thai Nguyen has become increasingly attractive to investors in recent years thanks to its huge economic growth potential, driven by a favourable geographical location: it lies around 100 kilometres from Hanoi, and just 50km from Noi Bai International Airport, 200km from Haiphong Port, and 200km from the Vietnamese-Chinese border gate. The province is also home to qualified education and training establishments. It is also rich in natural resources as it houses the second largest coal reserves in the country.

Thai Nguyen is also home to a Samsung Electronics complex, which has greatly contributed to the province’s social-economic development and FDI attraction by drawing in the South Korean giant’s satellite businesses. It is an attractive destination for a number of other domestic and international groups such as Vingroup, Indevco, TNG, Masan, and other companies from South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan. Their presence is obvious evidence for the success of the province’s strategies and policies on FDI attraction.

Thai Nguyen is now focusing investment attraction on industry, agriculture, eco-tourism infrastructure, and urban development, in line with the new FDI attraction strategy aimed at increasing the quality of FDI.

The province is calling for investment in 65 projects, including 15 in IZs, 19 in agriculture, 12 in trade infrastructure, sports and tourism, 15 in transport and urban area development, and four in healthcare and education.

“In the coming months, we will continue to focus FDI attraction on high-quality and environmentally friendly projects, as well as those with a potentially strong influence on domestic enterprises and local economic development,” said Nhu Van Tam.

To add to its attraction, the province has intensified administrative reforms on tax, customs, insurance, construction licensing, as well as land and investment procedures to increase its attraction to foreign investors, while holding regular dialogues with businesses to help them solve ­difficulties in time, and applying one-stop administrative mechanismas to help businesses save time and costs.

The province offers a number of incentive policies, including some for infrastructure development, especially in the agriculture sector. For example, the province offers a 30 per cent discount on site clearance fees for such projects. This incentive is higher than the one currently applied in the rest of the country.

With these solutions, the province produced big achievements 2018, when it enjoyed economic growth of 10.44 per cent, higher than the country’s average. Its industrial production value hit over VND679 trillion ($29.52 billion), while the export turnover reached over $25 billion, ranking it among the cities and provinces having the highest value. So far, the province has had 132 valid foreign-invested projects with the total accumulated registered capital of $7.63 billion, with the disbursed figure reaching $7 billion.

 
 
 
 
 
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