BUSINESS NEWS 2/9

Tra fish export continues downward trend

BUSINESS NEWS 2/9

The export value of tra fish in July continued to drop for the fifth consecutive month, down 12.7 percent year-on-year, according to the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP).

As a result of the downward trend, the figure for the January-July period also decreased 5.5 percent from the same period last year to 1.13 billion USD.

It is noteworthy that export of the fish to the US market in July declined by as much as 56.2 percent to 25.6 million USD, bringing the seven-month figure down 34.3 percent to 167.6 million USD.

Even though the US is still the second biggest market of Vietnamese tra fish, shipments to this market are forecast to continue decreasing towards the end of this year, partly due to many technical and trade barriers to imports of white fish, including those from China and Vietnam.

On the contrary, tra fish export to China and Hong Kong surged 71.1 percent in July, resulting in a 10.4 percent increase in the export value of the 7-month period, reaching 320 million USD.

In the EU market, signs of slowdown and decrease were observed in tra fish export to the UK, the second biggest of the fish in the EU, with a 10 percent reduction in July. However, the 7-month figure, at 33.3 million USD, still showed a 36.3 percent increase.

On the bright side, tra fish export to Germany and Belgium in the first seven months of this year picked up 39.6 percent and 32.5 percent, respectively, partly contributing to a 12.6 percent rise in the figure of the entire EU market to 156.7 million USD.

For other markets, rises were seen in the ASEAN, Mexico and Japan, but reductions were reported in Brazil and Colombia.

VASEP General Secretary Truong Dinh Hoe said the target of 2.3 billion USD worth of tra fish export this year is still feasible, as exports tend to increase towards the end of the year.

Vinh Phuc delegation seeks investment from Czech Republic

A delegation from Vinh Phuc held several activities and meetings in the Czech Republic on August 29 and 30 to attract investment to the northern province.

In a meeting with Vojtech Filip, Deputy Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies of the Czech Republic’s Parliament on August 30, Hoang Thi Thuy Lan, head of the delegation and Secretary of the provincial Party Committee, stressed Vinh Phuc is now an attractive destination for foreign investors.

As of the end of June, the province housed 357 foreign-funded projects worth more than 4.7 billion USD from 17 countries and territories.

Considering the thriving relations between Vietnam and the Czech Republic, Lan urged leaders of the Chamber of Deputies, particularly Filip, to encourage Czech enterprises to invest in Vinh Phuc in the sectors of automobile engineering, clean agriculture, industrial waste treatment, and health.

She highlighted that the signing and expected ratification of the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) will create favourable conditions for EU firms, including those from the Czech Republic, to carry out long-term investment in Vietnam and boost exports to the market.

Agreeing with his guest on the impact of the EVFTA, Filip stated his country wants to strengthen cooperation with Vietnam to implement bilateral agreements sealed as part of an official visit to the Czech Republic by Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc in April this year.

The official said he always supports Czech firms’ investment in Vietnam in general and Vinh Phuc in particular.

He unveiled that executives of the Czech automobile manufacturer Skoda are scheduled to visit Vietnam next October to look for cooperation and investment opportunities in the local auto industry.

Filip noted that the Czech Republic wants to receive 3,000 caregivers from Vietnam, as discussed by both sides in his latest visit to Vietnam last June. He added such collaboration needs a specific roadmap that focuses on language training for the carers.

Earlier, the Vinh Phuc delegation visited the Vietnamese Embassy in the European country, during which Lan expressed her wish that the embassy, Union of Vietnamese Associations in Europe, and Vietnamese Association in the Czech Republic will continue connecting potential Czech investors to the Vietnamese market.

Vinh Phuc is also willing to created best conditions possible for Vietnamese expatriates to make contribution to their home country, she affirmed.

Eight-month industrial production up 9.5 percent

The industrial production index in the first eight months of 2019 saw good growth of 9.5 percent year on year, according to figures released by the General Statistics Office (GSO).

The processing and manufacturing sector led the growth with a 10.6 percent increase. However, this is lower than the growth rate of 13.1 percent in the same period last year.

It was followed by the electricity generation and distribution sector with a 10.2 percent rise, and the water supply and waste, waste water treatment with a 7.4 percent rise.

The mining industry also reported a 2.5 percent increase in the period.

Major industrial products with high growth include crude iron, steel (up 56.9 percent), petrol and oil (42.9 percent), television (23.1 percent) and aquaculture feed (14.6 percent).

In August alone, the industrial production index picked up 5.4 percent compared to last month and 10.5 percent from the same month last year, driving by strong increases of the mining industry (14.4 percent), processing and manufacturing (10.3 percent) and water supply and waste, waste water treatment (7.6 percent).

Autotech & Accessories show 2019 to be held in Hanoi

The 16th International Autotech & Accessories Show 2019, themed “Autotech – Automation”, will take place in Hanoi from September 4 – 7 with nearly 200 pavilions.

The organising board said it will be the first time the event has been held in combination with an automation show.

At the “trade networking” event, exhibitors will have a chance to meet and connect with enterprises working in automation.

The show is expected to bring domestic support industry businesses closer to foreign partners, as well as update them on technological and automation trends in their sector.

The event will be co-organised by the Asia Trade Fair and Business Promotion JSC, under the guidance of the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Industry Department, in collaboration with the Vietnam Association of Supporting Industries, and the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI).

August sees trade surplus of 1.7 billion USD

Vietnam enjoyed a trade surplus of 1.7 billion USD in August, which brought the trade surplus for the January-August period to 3.4 billion USD, according to the General Statistics Office (GSO).

In the 8-month period, export value was estimated at 169.98 billion USD, up 7.3 percent on a yearly basis. The domestic sector earned 52.04 billion USD, up 13.9 percent, which was much higher than the 4.6 percent growth posted by the foreign-invested sector.

The share of the domestic sector in national export value also rose to 30.6 percent, compared to only 28.8 percent in the same period last year.

Meanwhile, the foreign-invested sector earned 117.94 billion USD, accounting for 69.4 percent of the national figure, and up 4.6 percent year on year.

Twenty six export items earned more than 1 billion USD each for the country, and together they accounted for 89.5 percent of the total export value.

In the period, the US was the biggest export market, buying 38.6 billion USD worth of Vietnamese goods, up 25.3 percent year on year. It was followed by the EU with 27.7 billion USD, down 0.5 percent. China came third with 23.8 percent, down 2.5 percent, and the ASEAN was next with 17.3 billion USD, up 3.6 percent.

The country spent 166.58 billion USD on imports in the 8-month period, up 8.5 percent from the same period last year, with the domestic sector spending 70.43 billion USD (up 13.9 percent) and the foreign-invested sector, 70.43 billion USD (up 4.8 percent).

China was the leading import market of Vietnam, selling 49.2 billion USD worth of products to Vietnam, up 18.2 percent, while the Republic of Korea came second with 31 billion USD, down 0.3 percent.

Next came the ASEAN with 21.6 billion USD, up 4.6 percent, and Japan with 12.4 billion USD, up 0.6 percent.

Building brands for craft villages

Handicraft products made by craft villages in Hanoi are currently very similar in design, impacting competitiveness.

To solve this problem, Hanoi’s Department of Industry and Trade has cooperated with domestic and foreign experts to provide advice and support to artisans and businesses to improve design quality as well as promote creativity ideas to have valuable products and meet the needs of customers.

Hanoi has 1,350 traditional craft villages, accounting for 45 percent of the total number of trade villages in the country. However, most businesses, production facilities and craft villages are not aware of the importance of building a brand.

The main reason is that the craft villages are mainly small and fragmented operations which lack cohesion, making it difficult to access capital as well as lacking resources and methodical training on brand management and professional design.

Design is the soul of the product, handicrafts, as well as fashion, need new patterns constantly. Good design creates good business, according to Claire Driscoll, an expert in handicraft product design at the British Council.

According to Nguyen Thanh Hai, Deputy Director of Hanoi’s Department of Industry and Trade, craft villages in Vietnam are very weak in designing handicraft samples. Therefore, the department has cooperated with local and foreign design experts to advise and share experiences with artisans and businesses in this field.

Thereby, the design experts help artisans and businesses promote creative ideas to make new products with high economic, technical and artistic value suitable to customers’ tastes. This is a premise for businesses to promote the development of new product designs to serve market needs.

Hai also emphasised that Hanoi is the leading region in handicraft sector. Particularly in 2018, the export turnover of handicrafts reached 192 million USD, attracting nearly one million workers with an average income of about 55 million VND (2,367 USD) per person per year.

In addition to the achieved results, Hanoi's handicraft industry has not yet fully developed its potential and strengths. Products have not met the needs of the market yet, especially the export market, the competitiveness of the product is still weak compared to similar products of other countries in the region such as China, India and the Philippines.

Nguyen Anh Hieu, a representative of the Chuc Son Rattan Bamboo Export Company Limited, said the products of traditional craft villages are mainly based on traditional models or foreign models brought by customers. Most businesses are still passive in finding, creating and designing products.

Economic experts say that there are many causes for this, including slow innovations of models, products that are not creative, many products have not yet originated from the needs of customers, most of them moulded according to the models available on the market or orders from customers.

Many good artisans have beautiful designs but lack commerciality and are difficult to mass produce.

Regarding this weakness, Luu Duy Dan, Chairman of the Vietnam Association of Craft Villages, said this was the general situation of handicraft production establishments, especially small-scale establishments, in our country.

Due to limited resources, these facilities did not dare invest in a dedicated design team, lacked conditions to research and understand the tastes of international consumers.

Meanwhile, many facilities were also afraid that if they invest in basic designs, they would be counterfeited after a short time due to Vietnam’s loose protection of intellectual property rights. Therefore, enterprises and manufacturing facilities need the support of departments and agencies in improving and creating product designs.

Ha Thi Vinh, Chairwoman of the Hanoi Handicraft and Craft Villages Association, said compared with other countries in the region such as Thailand and Indonesia, Vietnamese handicrafts were less competitive in design.

In order to boost the export of handicrafts, traditional craft villages needed to change by innovating designs to meet consumer tastes, while retaining the traditional identity and values of the products, Vinh suggested.

Mooncakes makers stepping up their game

For this Mid-Autumn Festival, which falls on September 13 this year, many mooncake brands are increasing their output and varieties and focusing on environment-friendly packaging.

Many have announced an increase in output of 5 - 30 percent compared to last year's.

Thanh Long Bakery is offering more than 10 new flavours to target youths such as avocado, sesame and garlic and almond and coffee, Sai Gon Giai Phong (Liberated Sai Gon) newspaper reported.

Bibica Corporation is reducing the sugar and fat content in its mooncakes and using more natural ingredients such as lotus seeds and sesame in place of jam.

Hemant Rupani, CEO of Mondelez Kinh Do Vietnam, which is offering two new mooncake lines, said the brand's "Rich portfolio of 83 kinds of products can satisfy consumers’ diverse demands, from premium to classic, mid-level mooncakes, and special needs."

The company also announced that this year it is using recyclable and reusable paper bags to cut plastic waste in addition to offering vegan and low-sugar mooncakes.

Nguyen Thi Ngoc Thuy, head of Thanh Long Bakery, said that more cardboard is now used in packaging to reduce waste.

Prices have also increased from same period last year, ranging between 5 to 7 percent per box.

According to Tran Huu Linh, general head of the Vietnam Directorate of Market Surveillance, authorities would closely monitor the mooncake market during the Mid-Autumn Festival, keeping an eye on production facilities and storage of ingredients and collecting samples for testing.

Banks required to tighten control over credit card payments

The State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) has directed commercial banks to tighten control over credit card payments to prevent the improper use of credit cards.

Under the instruction, the SBV has asked commercial banks to review transactions and terminate contracts with customers suspected of using their credit cards for improper purposes.

Banks should review contracts with units accepting credit card payments and supplement requirements on the use of credit cards, as well as work out solutions to supervise, inspect, manage and address violations by these units.

Also, criteria for choosing units that can accept credit card payments should be created.

Members of the Vietnam Bank Association need to update their information on the illegal use of bank cards.

If banks detect violations by units accepting credit card payments, they must report these violations to the SBV and the Vietnam Bank Association.

The central bank also asked units accepting credit card payments and cardholders to comply with regulations on bank cards.

The move was made after some banks have consulted with their credit card holders, allowing them to borrow consumer loans at a preferential interest rate of 1.69 percent per month or 20.28 percent per year.

To get the loans, whose interest rate is lower than that of consumer finance companies, credit card holders need only ask their banks to transfer money from credit cards to other bank accounts. The cardholders then will withdraw cash and pay the principal and interest in 12, 15, 18, 21 or 24 months.

According to the current legal regulations, credit cardholders are not allowed to transfer money from their credit cards to any other bank accounts.

Besides, it was reported some units accepting credit card payments have collaborated with cardholders to conduct virtual transactions to withdraw cash, which is illegal.

Businesses have yet to pay due attention to CPTPP: forum

The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) remains unfamiliar to and hasn’t received due attention from businesses as well as ministries, sectors and localities of Vietnam, heard a forum held in Hanoi on August 30.

According to a survey conducted by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), more than 70 percent of 8,600 interviewed companies haven’t known clearly about the CPTPP.

Director of the VCCI’s WTO and Integration Centre Nguyen Thi Thu Trang noted 84 percent of the businesses lack information about commitments under the deal and ways to realise them.

She said state agencies have also not been active enough, adding that ministries, sectors and localities’ issuance of their action plans for the CPTPP implementation has been half a year behind schedule.

Trang also pointed out the sluggish dissemination of the trade pact among civil servants and enterprises, along with cumbersome taxation and customs procedures which are hampering Vietnamese firms from improving their competitiveness.

According to the official, localities and businesses, not the Government or ministries, play a main role in realising the CPTPP’s commitments. Businesses will be unable to make use of opportunities generated by the agreement if they do not understand the deal. Additionally, local civil servants should also be given more access to CPTPP-related information so that they won’t violate the deal’s commitments or obstruct enterprises’ activities.

Echoing the view, Ngo Chung Khanh, Deputy Director of the Multilateral Trade Policy Department under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, said since the CPTPP took effect, businesses’ attention to the agreement has been limited to just 12 questions they sent to the ministry, which is too modest compared to the large business community of Vietnam.

Trang said state agencies need to take drastic actions to carry out the CPTPP while businesses should actively learn about and make use of the deal and report the difficulties facing them to authorities.

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.

It officially took effect in Vietnam on January 14 this year.

Vietnamese firms invest nearly 440 million USD abroad

Vietnamese businesses have invested nearly 440 million USD abroad since the beginning of this year, according to the Foreign Investment Agency (FIA) under the Ministry of Planning and Investment.

Of the sum, around 340 million USD was poured into 102 newly licensed projects while the remaining 99.6 million USD was injected into 23 already operating projects.

In the first eight months of the year, the wholesale and retail sector lured the largest share of Vietnamese investment with 97 million USD, accounting for 22 percent of the total.

The agro-forestry-fishery sector ranked second with 89 million USD, making up 20 percent of the total, and the science and technology sector came third with 84 million USD or equivalent to 19 percent, followed by real estate trading with 72 million USD or 16 percent.

Among the 30 countries and territories where Vietnamese investors were active from January to August, Australia was the largest recipient with 179 million USD or 41 percent of the total, mainly thanks to two large-scale projects of TH Group worth a total of 88.5 million USD, the FIA said, adding that the projects are in agriculture and dairy farming.

Australia was followed by Spain which attracted 60 million USD or 14 percent. Other destinations for Vietnamese investments were the US (46.3 million USD or 11.2 percent), Cambodia (39 million USD or 9 percent) and Singapore (36 million USD or 8 percent).

Experts forecast that Vietnam’s overseas investment would continue to increase if the world economy stays stable. Meanwhile, free trade agreements which Vietnam has joined could help drive local enterprises to seek investment opportunities in foreign markets thanks to tax cuts.

Japanese firms seek investment chances in Thua Thien-Hue

A delegation of businesses from Asahikawa city of Japan visited Thua Thien-Hue on August 29 and 30 to explore investment chances in the central province of Vietnam.

The delegation includes firms working in the fields of construction, real estate, finance, banking, agricultural product processing, hotel and health care.

Welcoming the Asahikawa businesses, Vice Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Nguyen Dung said the projects that Japanese enterprises have invested in Thua Thien-Hue, especially those in tourism services, infrastructure development, smart city building and social security, are proving fruitful.

He noted Thua Thien-Hue have established cooperative ties with many Japanese localities, adding that the Asahikawa delegation’s trip to the province this time was a good chance to further expand multifaceted ties between Japanese localities and businesses and Thua Thien-Hue in the coming time.

Kazuhiko Sato, a representative of the visiting delegation, said through the trip, they wished to learn more about local investment attraction policies for trade, tourism and infrastructure development.

They also hoped to take part in cultural and people-to-people exchanges between Asahikawa and Hue city to help reinforce the traditional relations between Japanese localities and Thua Thien-Hue, as well as between Japan and Vietnam, he added.

Vietnam to have 2,000MW of rooftop solar power capacity in 2020

 

Vietnam's total rooftop solar power capacity is expected to reach around 2,000 MW by the end of 2020, according to Vietnam Electricity (EVN).

EVN said more than 4,000 households have installed rooftop solar power systems over the past three months with a total capacity of 200MW. It estimated that an additional 300MW of rooftop solar power will be added by the end of 2019, helping to ensure the nation's power security.

As traditional power sources run out, the development of renewable energy infrastructure, including rooftop solar power, is crucial to providing enough power to Vietnam's growing population.

By the end of June 2019, Vietnam had 89 wind and solar power plants with a combined capacity of 5,038MW, accounting for 9.5 percent of the country’s total power capacity.

It is expected that about 1,000MW of additional renewable energy will be connected to the national grid by the end of 2019, helping to ease power shortages.

EVN Deputy General Director Vo Quang Lam told the recent Vietnam Energy Forum 2019 that developing rooftop solar power helps reduce transmission costs and price pressure as well as increase energy use efficiency.

Vietnam currently applies a price of 9.35 US cents per kWh for rooftop solar power. The Ministry of Industry and Trade has proposed maintaining the price until 2021 to encourage the development of solar power.

Technical solutions have also been introduced to connect rooftop systems to the national grid.

In addition to providing favourable conditions in terms of policies and mechanism, technical solutions have been also implemented to connect solar power to the national grid.

Renewable energy experts said the country’s central and southern regions have big potential to develop for rooftop solar systems with solar radiation of 4.2 to 4.8kWh per sq.m per day.

They added that with supportive policies, the goal of installing 100,000 rooftop solar systems by the end of 2025 would be reachable.

AEON highly values Vietnamese market’s potential

Executives of Japanese retail giant AEON Co. Ltd. highly evaluated the Vietnamese market’s potential and stressed the necessity to focus on the market during a board meeting in Ho Chi Minh City on August 30.

The meeting, the second of its kind held outside Japan following the first in Jakarta capital city of Indonesia last year, was to discuss the retailer’s development strategy in the coming time and its operations in Vietnam.

Director and Chairman of the Board of AEON Co. Hiroshi Yokoo said the strategy meeting was held in Vietnam as the country is the most significant market of the company in Southeast Asia.

While in Vietnam, leaders of the retail giant are scheduled to pay a visit to the AEON Mall Tan Phu Celadon in HCM City, which was expanded in June.

AEON Co. Ltd. will double the value of products it procures from Vietnam from the current level to 500 million USD in 2020, said Eiji Shibata, executive officer and chief merchandising and logistics officer of the Japanese retailer in June.

The figure is expected to increase to 1 billion USD in 2025 as the Southeast Asian nation seen as having great potential as a supplier of quality food for Japanese consumers.

AEON, based in Chiba to the east of Tokyo, inaugurated four malls in Vietnam. The company will open another mall in Hanoi.

State Audit Office of Vietnam, World Bank to boost cooperation

Officials of the State Audit Office of Vietnam (SAV) and the World Bank (WB) have discussed cooperation in the fields of shared concern at a recent meeting that was part of the SAV delegation’s working visit to the US from August 27 to 30.

At the working session, the two sides looked into orientations for and forms of cooperation in the fields of common concern so as to help the SAV improve its capacity in IT audit, environmental audit and operational audit, and in the realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals.

SAV Auditor General Ho Duc Phoc said the WB’s assistance for the SAV and its cooperation with the Vietnamese agency in implementing the WB’s programmes and projects in Vietnam have greatly helped with the SAV’s development so far.

Highlighting the practical joint activities, he expressed his hope that the WB will assist the SAV to fulfill its role in holding the chairmanship of the Asian Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions (ASOSAI), including helping the SAV to organise and participate in joint audits within ASOSAI, improve Vietnamese auditors’ capacity, and carry out the SAV’s development strategy and IT architecture for 2019-2025 so as to help the SAV complete its digital infrastructure in 2025.

Phoc also called on the WB to increase support to the SAV to improve its auditing quality, including in the audits of the WB’s programmes and projects in Vietnam.

At the meeting, head for the WB’s East Asia and the Pacific Hassan Zaman expressed his readiness to enhance cooperation between the SAV and the WB.

He added the WB is willing to continue assisting the Vietnamese side to promote its auditing capacity and methods in IT audit, environmental audit and operational audit.

At the session, WB representatives also shared useful experiences and good practices in operational audit and the application of IT to audit activities.

Revised Law on Enterprises to add household business regulations

Vietnam has considered adding regulations of household business to the revised Law on Enterprises that is set to be submitted to the National Assembly for approval in October.

Vice Chairman of the National Assembly’s Economic Committee Nguyen Ngoc Bao said at a plenary session of the assembly’s Economic Committee on August 30 the country had an estimation of more than 5.1 million of household businesses.

They employ around 8 million people nationwide and contribute nearly 30 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). However, it only contributed 1.6 percent to the State budget, he said.

Chairman of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry Vu Tien Loc said adding regulations of household business would be a “breakthrough” for the new version of the draft law.

Participants at the plenary session said household businesses were believed to be an entity in the national economy.

But current regulations revealed some shortcomings such as regulations on legal status and civil responsibility of household business were not clear, business rights were limited within the district level, a household business was only allowed to hire less than 10 employees and was not permitted to open branches and representative offices, the participants said.

The shortcomings were preventing the businesses from taking advantage of opportunities and promoting the benefits of investment resources under the form of business household, the participants said.

According to Loc, bringing regulations of household business into the law was necessary and in line with the common developing trend. It also created an equal environment for household business so that they could contribute more to the GDP in the future.

Agreeing with Loc, Phung Van Hung, a permanent member of the committee, said the tax a household business had to pay was unequal to a micro enterprise.

The revenue of a household business could be hundreds of millions of VND per year but they had to pay only a tax of several hundreds of thousands of VND each year.

Meanwhile a micro enterprise had to pay a corporate income tax rate of 15 percent each year, he said.

Former Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment Dang Huy Dong said it needed to have the equality of policies and information disclosure of household business.

Some participants said it should clarify what benefits household business would receive.

The revised Enterprise Law is scheduled to have 10 chapters and 213 articles, of which 60 articles are under revised and one chapter and eight articles added.

The aim is to continue making a business a cheaper and safer business tool for investors, thereby increasing the attraction and mobilisation of all sources for production and doing business.

It also aims to facilitate activities of business establishment, cut down cost and time in starting a business, improve mechanism to effectively protect the legitimate rights and interests of investors, shareholders and members of enterprises as well as make corporate governance meeting regional and international standards.

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.

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.

Vietnam attracts 22.63 billion USD of FDI in eight months

Vietnam recorded 22.63 billion USD of foreign direct investment (FDI) registered in the first eight months of 2019, equivalent to 92.9 percent of the figure in the same period last year, according to the Foreign Investment Agency (FIA) under the Ministry of Planning and Investment.

Of the sum, 9.13 billion USD was poured into 2,406 new projects, down 32.3 percent and up 25.4 percent year on year, respectively.

Nearly 4 billion USD was added to 908 existing projects, down 28.6 percent and up 23.4 percent, respectively, the FIA said, noting that during the eight months of 2019, there weren’t any projects with big additional capital like in the same period last year.

Meanwhile, foreign investors registered 9.51 billion USD to contribute capital to or buy shares of domestic companies, surging 80 percent from a year earlier and accounting for 42 percent of the total FDI capital in the eight months.

Among the 19 sectors receiving FDI, processing-manufacturing attracted up to 15.74 billion USD, accounting for 69.6 percent of the total. It was followed by real estate (2.31 billion USD – 10.2 percent) and wholesale-retail (nearly 1.19 billion USD – 5.2 percent).

There were 103 countries and territories investing in Vietnam between January and August.

Hong Kong (China) took the lead with 5.63 billion USD, equivalent to 24.9 percent of the total capital. It was followed by the Republic of Korea (3.48 billion USD – 15.4 percent) and Singapore (3.27 billion USD – 14.5 percent).

Data show that FDI was channeled into 56 provinces and centrally-run cities. Hanoi topped the list with 5.66 billion USD, or 25 percent of the total capital. The second and third largest FDI destinations were Ho Chi Minh City (3.86 billion USD – 17 percent) and Binh Duong province (1.95 billion USD – 8.6 percent).

Seminar introduces PPP infrastructure development opportunities

A seminar was held in Ho Chi Minh City on August 30 by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to introduce investment opportunities in infrastructure under public-private partnership (PPP) model.

Speaking at the event, Deputy Director of the HCM City Department of Planning and Investment Tran Anh Tuan said the city needs over 326.5 trillion VND (16.2 billion USD) to achieve socio-economic development goals for the 2016 – 2020 period. Meanwhile, the State budget only meets 52 percent of the total demand, equivalent to 171.8 trillion VND (7.4 billion USD).

He said the city will refine the legal framework on PPP investment, offer incentives, pool land and housing resources for the effort in the near future. It will also build a new portfolio and launch PPP projects on wastewater treatment and health care.

According to a survey of local infrastructure development and public services, 23 expanded PPP projects are being carried out in the city.

Among 294 projects calling for capital, 10 promising projects have been chosen, including Nguyen Tri Phuong hospital construction, underground parking lot at Hoa Lu stadium, waste-to-energy project in Phuoc Hiep commune, Cu Chi district.

Hashimoto Hidenori from JICA said apart from traditional official development assistance (ODA), JICA now offers another financial tool to develop infrastructure with the participation of the private sector, namely the Private Sector Investment Finance via lending or capital contribution.

Partners could borrow 10 – 150 million USD depending on each project for 20 years and pay every six months. JICA will also join projects as a minority investor with a maximum capital contribution of 25 percent out of the total.

HCM City steps up cooperation with Australia in high-tech agriculture

Ho Chi Minh City hopes to receive support and cooperation from Australia in developing high-tech agriculture, especially in processing farm produce.

Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee Nguyen Thanh Phong made the statement at a reception for visiting Australian Minister for Agriculture Bridget McKenzie on August 30.

He said the city is developing high-tech agriculture and restructuring towards urban agriculture, so it wants to strengthen cooperation with Australia through transferring technology and sharing experience in the field.

The official asked Australia to support local agriculture exporters to improve packaging and preservation of products while controlling quality and food safety to access the market.

He proposed the Australian minister support experience sharing activities in developing high-tech agriculture between the two sides and make it easier for the entry of fruits and farm produce of Vietnam, particularly of the Mekong Delta and southeastern regions, to the market.

McKenzie said the relations between Australia and Vietnam are thriving in various fields, especially agriculture, adding that the bilateral cooperation in this field will also create a foundation for stronger collaboration in other realms such as environment and biological science research.

She said the two countries’ agricultural products are being sold in the respective markets and are likely to increase in both quality and value.

As Ho Chi Minh City is a key destination in the Vietnam-Australia agriculture cooperation strategy, the country is willing to share its experience and transfer technology to help the southern city ensure food safety as well as provide technical guidance for local farmers.

Australia is also ready to boost cooperation in connection activities for businesses and people of the two sides, she added.

Currently, with 182 projects worth 188 million USD, Australia is ranking 17th among the 106 countries and territories investing in the city.

In 2018, trade between the southern economic hub and Australia reached 1 billion USD and 507 million USD in the first six months of 2019.

Australia has been among the top 10 countries with the largest number of tourists to HCM City over the past years.

Vietnam–US trade forum to run this week

The Ministry of Industry and Trade will hold the Vietnam–US trade forum in Ho Chi Minh City on September 6.

Themed “Shifting of global supply chain – opportunity to boost bilateral trade and investment”, the event will provide updates on relevant policies and analyse challenges and opportunities for enterprises amid trade conflicts among world economic powerhouses.

The forum is also a place for Vietnamese and US firms to connect and strike partnerships.

Two-way trade turnover between Vietnam and the US has increased nearly 120 times, exceeding 60 billion USD in 2018 from 450 million USD in 1994, since the normalisation of bilateral relations 25 years ago.

Vietnam is ranked 16th among the leading trade partners of the US and annual bilateral trade growth reaches 20 percent.

August CPI rises 0.28 percent

The country’s Consumer Price Index (CPI) in August increased by 0.28 percent over the previous month, and 2.26 percent over the same period last year, according to the General Statistics Office.

The GSO said that in the first eight months this year, the index saw a 2.57 percent year-on-year increase on average, the lowest rise seen in the last three years.

Among the 11 main commodity groups, eight experienced price rises in August, including medicine and health service with the highest rise of 2.81 percent.

Education prices rose 0.57 percent as some localities increased tuition fees for the new academic year.

Housing and construction material prices went up 0.33 percent mostly because of a 0.43 percent hike in rental costs. Restaurants and catering services increased 0.24 percent with food soaring 0.31 percent and foodstuffs 0.29 percent.

Garment and footwear prices rose 0.09 percent, household appliances 0.05 percent, beverages and cigarettes 0.03 percent, and other goods and services 0.14 percent.

Three groups saw decreases – transportation; culture, entertainment and tourism; and post and telecommunications – with decreases of 0.46 percent, 0.06 percent and 0.05 percent respectively.

The GSO said the health and education services price hike contributed to the CPI increase last month.

The spread of African swine fever also affected the index. As of August 20, 4.4 million pigs had been culled due to the disease, causing pork prices to rise 0.89 percent against the previous month.

Persistent scorching heat in some localities caused electricity and water demand to spike, resulting in 0.33 percent and 0.28 percent increases in their CPIs.

Core inflation in August rose 0.13 percent over the previous month and 1.95 percent over the same period last year. During the first eight months of 2019, it posted a 1.9 percent year-on-year increase.

 
 
 
 
 
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