BUSINESS NEWS 23/5

Vietnam always welcomes Russian enterprises, says PM

Vietnam always welcomes and is willing to create favourable conditions for Russian enterprises to do business and invest in the country, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc affirmed when addressing the Vietnam-Russia Business Forum held in Moscow on May 22.

PM Phuc, who is on an official visit to Russia from May 21-23, said that the forum aimed to seek better and more effective and timely measures to ensure that bilateral cooperation matches the Vietnam-Russia sound relations.

He briefed participants on Vietnam’s socio-economic achievements after more than 30 years of renewal. Last year, the country’s GDP growth rate made an 11-year record high at 7.1 percent, while its import-export turnover reached nearly 500 billion USD. Inflation was curbed under 4 percent and the macro-economy remained stable.

According to the government leader, at present, Vietnam has 28,000 foreign-invested projects from 131 countries and territories, with a combined capital of over 350 billion USD. Last year, the country welcomed 15.5 million foreign tourists, a year-on-year rise of 20 percent.

PM Phuc attributed these positive results to improvements in Vietnam’s business environment and its efforts to integrate into the global economy by signing 11 free trade agreements (FTA) and preparing for the signing of an FTA with the European Union (EU).

He underlined the positive impacts of the Eurasia Economic Union-Vietnam FTA on Vietnam’s trade and investment, thus contributing to a 28.6-percent increase in its trade turnover with Russia to hit 4.57 billion USD in 2018.

Vietnam is now the 23rd biggest trade partner of Russia and is running 20 projects worth 3 billion USD in the country, while Russia has 123 projects (excluding those related to oil and gas) totaling 1 billion USD in Vietnam.

However, the PM said that these results have failed to match with potential of both nations.

He expressed his hope that two-way trade can reach 10 billion USD by 2020 after non-tariff barriers on major commodities are removed and a bilateral payment channel using local currencies is launched.

For his part, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Maxim Akimov noted that economic and trade cooperation between Russia and Vietnam has been built on the firm foundation of the time-honoured bilateral friendship.

Vietnam has affirmed itself as a key partner of Russia in Southeast Asia as it accounts for one-third of Russia’s imports from the regional countries, the Deputy PM stated.

He suggested that both sides intensify collaboration in high technology, affirming that Russia is willing to support Vietnam in the fields of digital government and smart city building, as well as cybersecurity.

Earlier the same day, PM Phuc laid flowers in tribute to late President Ho Chi Minh at his statue in Moscow.

Ben Tre coconut products to be sold online

Nguyen Thi Kim Truyen from Ben Tre Province’s Chau Thanh District, who has been making coconut oil for decades, has started selling her product online.

Truyen has learned how to post photos and information about her products on the Lazada website under a scheme to help businesses sell products via e-commerce platforms.

At first, Truyen, 51, struggled to learn how to use a smartphone or computer but she never felt discouraged. “We should try something new to be able to reach more customers,” she said.

She has confidence in the scheme as today people prefer buying products online due to “fast shipping, affordable and reasonable prices”, she said.

Her shop is one of many small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) making coconut products in the province, known as the country’s “coconut capital”.

Coconut in Ben Tre has gained a reputation for high quality from local and foreign experts.

Products include food (cakes, candy, jelly, milk); cosmetics (oil, masks, lip balm, essential oil, shampoo, mosquito repellent); handicrafts (coconut shells, spoon sets, tea sets) and products for the industrial sector (activated carbon from coconut shells, coconut fiber), among others.

Many businesses have become more aware of using technology to improve productivity and quality. However, most coconut enterprises in Ben Tre find it hard to increase sales via traditional selling.

Le Thi Hue My, owner of Yes Coco, a company that produces handicrafts, in Huu Dinh Commune in Chau Thanh District, said that previously most businesses sold their products via traders at much lower prices.

“Cheap products with unstable revenue have caused obstacles for farmers,” she said.

Last month, nearly 50 representatives from businesses that make coconut products in Ben Tre took part in the seminar “Bringing E-commerce to the Countryside – Ben Tre Online Coconut Village”.

The workshop was organised by the Viet Nam E-commerce Association, VECOM, and Lazada Viet Nam in collaboration with Ben Tre Department of Industry and Trade.

Nguyen Ngoc Dung, vice chairman of VECOM, said that farmers and small business households in rural areas lacked information and skills needed to bring their products to market.

The workshop provided knowledge for producers of speciality coconut goods in rural villages to reach consumers in the fastest way.

“E-commerce will help crafts villages expand their businesses, save marketing costs, and increase product value,” he said.

This is one of Lazada’s key projects in its plan to build a sustainable e-commerce ecosystem by 2030.

Yes Coco enterprise was among the first beneficiaries to receive support from the project. Many of the company’s coconut tree products such as dining room appliances, pots for plants, handbags and greeting cards have become popular.

Businesses participating in the project can open free online booths without commission fees paid to the Lazada platform. Enterprises are also provided with management tools such as inventory and sales management.

Ben Tre Province is home to 163,000 households involved in farming 71,000 ha of coconut trees, or half of Viet Nam’s coconut-growing land.

They produce 800 million coconuts and ship about US$200 million worth of coconut products abroad annually.

Ben Tre’s coconuts are exported to about 84 countries and territories worldwide.

Indian and VN enhance co-operation in silk sector

A delegation of business executives representing 30 Indian companies led by the chairman of the Indian Silk Export Promotion Council met their Vietnamese counterparts at the Buyer-Seller meet held in HCM City on Tuesday.

The visitors were from companies producing silk, fabrics, ready-made garments, silk scarves, stoles, Pareo shawls evening wear, beachwear, fashion accessories, tops, bottoms, trousers, jackets, kaftans, bags, embroidered shawls, silk blended products, natural silk carpets and others.

Dr. Bimal Mawandia, chairman of the Indian Silk Export Promotion Council, said: “India is promoting exports of all textiles. We are presenting the silk sector in India and as per the guidance of the Government of India, we want to increase exports and we are exploring different markets worldwide.

“We come here to promote export of not only silk but also other fibers in this market.”

The trip was the first to Viet Nam for all of the participating companies, he said.

Pham Xuan Hong, chairman of the HCM City Association of Garment Textile Embroidery-Knitting, said trade relations between Viet Nam and India in the garment and textile sector had increased significantly but was still modest compared to the potential of the two countries.

The event is expected to enhance connection between businesses of the two sides in the sector, where there is still a lot of potential, he said.

“Vietnamese garment and textile companies want to have stronger co-operation with Indian counterparts. They have high demand for importing raw materials from India.”

According to the Viet Nam Textile and Apparel Association, there are 7,000 enterprises in the industry, providing jobs for three million workers in the country.

Viet Nam’s garment and textile exports increased by 12 per cent last year to reach over US$36 billion and exports is expected to top $40 billion this year.

A similar buyer and seller meet will be held in Ha Noi on May 23.

Firm exports 71 tonnes of mango to US

BUSINESS NEWS 23/5

Vina T&T Import - Export Service Trading Co Ltd (Vina T&T) has said its mango shipments to the US amounted to 71 tonnes.

Following it first mango batch of 20 tonnes to the market via air and sea routes a month ago, the company has so far sent the fruit to the US every week.

In 2018, Vina T&T reeled in 30 million USD from fruit export. The US’s permission for the import of Vietnamese fresh mango is said to be helpful to increasing the revenue by 15 to 20 percent this year.

Mango is the sixth fresh fruit of Vietnam allowed to enter the market after lychee, longan, rambutan, star apple and dragon fruit. It is one of Vietnam’s fruits of strength with a total plantation of nearly 90,000ha nationwide, producing nearly 800,000 tonnes per year.

Vietnam has exported the fruit to 40 countries over the world. Its main importers are China, European countries, the Republic of Korea, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand.

Deputy PM wants to increase value of Vietnamese brands

Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue has asked the Ministry of Industry and Trade and relevant departments to join hands to increase the value of Vietnamese brands to make inroads into international markets.

He made the request at a conference in Hanoi on May 21 to review the 10-year implementation of the campaign “Vietnamese people prioritise using Vietnamese goods.”

The Deputy PM told the ministry to continue improving the efficiency of its steering committee for the campaign while strengthening coordination with ministries and localities for domestic market development.

Particularly, the market management forces must strictly handle goods smuggling and infringements of intellectual property rights.

According to local departments of industry and trade, the rate of Vietnamese goods remains high in the domestic market from 80 percent to 90 percent at modern distribution network and from 60 percent at traditional retail channels.

Some key industries such as garment-textile, footwear, automobile manufacturing, milk processing, yarn and dyeing have increased the rate of localisation and volume of science-technology in products.

An exhibition on achievements of the 10-year campaign “Vietnamese people prioritise using Vietnamese goods” was held on May 21-22 with the participation of such big groups as Vinfast automotive startup manufacturer, Vietnam National Petroleum Group (Petrolimex), Vietnam National Coal – Mineral Industries Holding Corporation Limited (Vinacomin), and Vietnam National Textile and Garment Group (Vinatex).

Indian garment firms seek opportunities in HCM City

A delegation of business executives representing 30 Indian companies led by the chairman of the Indian Silk Export Promotion Council met their Vietnamese counterparts at the Buyer-Seller meet held in Ho Chi Minh City on May 21.

The visitors were from companies producing silk, fabrics, ready-made garments, silk scarves, stoles, Pareo shawls evening wear, beachwear, fashion accessories, tops, bottoms, trousers, jackets, kaftans, bags, embroidered shawls, silk blended products, natural silk carpets and others.

Bimal Mawandia, Chairman of the Indian Silk Export Promotion Council, said “India is promoting exports of all textiles. We are presenting the silk sector in India and as per the guidance of the Government of India, we want to increase exports and we are exploring different markets worldwide.”

The trip was the first to Vietnam for all of the participating companies, he said.

Pham Xuan Hong, Chairman of the HCM City Association of Garment Textile Embroidery-Knitting, said trade relations between Vietnam and India in the garment and textile sector had increased significantly but was still modest compared to the potential of the two countries.

The event is expected to enhance connection between businesses of the two sides in the sector, where there is still a lot of potential, he said.

Vietnamese garment and textile companies want to have stronger cooperation with Indian counterparts. They have high demand for importing raw materials from India, Hong said.

According to the Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association, there are 7,000 enterprises in the industry, providing jobs for three million workers in the country.

Vietnam’s garment and textile exports increased by 12 percent last year to over 36 billion USD and exports is expected to top 40 billion USD this year.

A similar buyer and seller meet will be held in Hanoi on May 23.

Vietnam c.bank stands ready to intervene for FX market stability

BUSINESS NEWS 23/5

The State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) is ready to sell foreign currency to ensure forex market stability amid the weakening of the Vietnamese dong against the US dollar, according to Pham Thanh Ha, head of the SBV’s Monetary Policy Department.

On May 21, the SBV set the reference rate of USD selling price at a record high of VND23,069. Banks can set their own quotes with a band of 3% on the either side of the benchmark rate.

The USD selling price at Vietnam Export Import Commercial Bank (Eximbank) increased slightly by VND10 to VND23,450, while that of Commercial Bank for Foreign Trade of Vietnam (Vietcombank) remained unchanged at VND23,465, and Sai gon Thuong Tin Commercial Joint Stock Bank (Sacombank) at VND23,470.

The USD buying price in cash fluctuated from VND23,310 to VND23,345, making a difference between buying and selling prices of VND100 – 120 per USD.

In the free market, the USD selling price stood at VND23,430 and buying price at VND23,380.

The USD/VND exchange rate has been on an upward trend since the end of April to date.

The head of the SBV’s Monetary Department attributed the higher USD/VND exchange rate to growing uncertainties regarding the US-China trade talks, putting the market in a state of concern.

Meanwhile, the ongoing devaluation of the Chinese yuan since late April to date has caused a negative impact on Vietnam’s foreign currency market, again putting pressure on the exchange rate, Ha added.
Nevertheless, Ha said market liquidity and the supply/demand balance on the market remain stable.

As of mid-April, the SBV has bought in a large amount of foreign currency in a bid to ensure national finance-monetary security and greater capacity to intervene the foreign exchange market if needed, he stressed.

“In the coming time, the SBV would continue to monitor the domestic and foreign markets and adopt a flexible management of the reference rate. In case of necessity, the SBV is willing to sell foreign currency to stabilize the market and the macro-economy,” Ha stressed.

Economist Le Xuan Nghia previously said the escalation of the US – China trade war, including the recent depreciation of the yuan, is causing concern, particularly with countries having large trade turnover with China, including Vietnam.

In the first four months of 2019, the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) bought in US$8.5 billion, bringing the country’s total foreign reserves to US$65 billion, according to Viet Dragon Securities Company (VDSC).
Never before did the SBV manage to purchase such large amount in just a short time frame, said VDSC in its latest report.

According to the government’s report read before the National Assembly on May 20, the average consumer price index (CPI) in the first four months rose 2.71% from a year earlier, the lowest recorded over the last three years.

Notably, the foreign exchange market stayed stable with foreign reserves hitting record high, stated the government, without giving a specific number.

Vietnam posted year-on-year GDP growth of 6.79% in the first quarter of 2019, lower than the 7.38% expansion recorded in the first quarter of 2018. The expansion rate, however, remained the best first-quarter performance in the 2009 – 2017 period.

The country posted exports of US$78.8 billion in the four-month period, up 5.8% year-on-year, leading to a trade surplus of US$711 million.

Seminar sharing immigration information to kick off Wednesday

As many Vietnamese people are showing keen interest in the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program offered by the United States, a seminar aimed to share immigration experience and information is scheduled to take place on Wednesday, May 22.

The seminar themed “Reduce risks and protect assets of EB-5 participants” will be co-organized by the Saigon Times Group and Global Residents LLC, a member of American Immigration Group, at the media group’s head office at 35 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Street in HCMC's District 1.

Qendrese Sadriu-Rrustemi, global managing director at American Immigration Group, said that the EB-5 visa program was initiated in China 10 years ago, so potential investors from Vietnam and other countries could learn from the former to get an EB-5 (Employment Base Fifth) visa.

To avoid the traps of fraudsters and reduce the risk of loss, investors should work with experts recognized by the U.S. government to guarantee their investment under the EB-5 program to secure visas for them and their family, she said.

Accessing correct and transparent information will help investors make a right decision related to the EB-5 immigration program, Sadriu-Rrustemi added.

The event is expected to feature speakers who are immigration experts and lawyers recognized by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. They will supply adequate information and details on the EB-5 program in Vietnam, as well as the standards and regulations applicable to the program.

Vietnam promotes agricultural products in China

The Vietnam Agricultural Trade Promotion Forum was held in Liaoning province, China, on May 20 with the participation of more than 100 Vietnamese and Chinese agricultural enterprises.

Speaking at the forum, Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Tran Thanh Nam said that with over 1.4 billion people and a high demand for agricultural products, China is an important market for Vietnam. Vietnamese agricultural products and Vietnamese enterprises need to make good use of this large market.

At this forum, the two sides shared information on agricultural investment and the potential of developing agricultural trade between Vietnam and China.

In the context that Vietnam's agricultural exports to China have decreased in the first four months of this year, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development is cooperating with Vietnam Trade Office in China to create forums to connect businesses of the two countries in order to promote Vietnamese agricultural exports to the Chinese market in a stable manner.

In the coming time, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development will ask the Chinese side to accelerate the process of opening markets for Vietnamese fruits through commercial channels, including durian, passion fruit, avocado, grapefruit, and coconut.

Vung Tau master scheme adjusted

PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc has recently approved adjustments to Vung Tau city by 2035.

By 2025, the city will have a population of 500,000-520,000. By 2035, the city’s population will touch 620,000-650,000.

The city will have two centers in Go Lang and Long Son; key functional sections including industry-urban area-tourism; A Chau, Bau Sen, Bau Trung, Rach Ba, Cua Lap water surface system; mangrove ecosystem, Big Mountain, Small Mountain, and Nua Mountain.

 

The city will comprise seven sections namely Long Son island, Go Gang area, Bac Phuoc Thang area, industrial and port area, urban area, Northern Vung Tau area, Chi Linh-Cua Lap coastal tourism area.

Long Son island is a national petroleum industrial center, specializing in auxiliary industries, petroleum industry, ecological urban area.

E5 RON92 still flying under locals' radars

E5 RON92 petrol has performed rather poorly during the two years since its launch, despite the government’s efforts to narrow the price gap with RON95 to fit consumers’ wallets.

Many petrol stations in Ho Chi Minh City last week temporarily halted selling E5 RON92 petrol (5 per cent ethanol and 95 per cent RON 92), and even replaced some E5 gas pumps by RON95 pumps.

A petrol station of Saigon Fuel JSC on No Trang Long Street (Binh Thanh district in Ho Chi Minh City) on May 15 temporarily stopped selling E5 petrol. Similarly, PV Oil’s three petrol stations on Pham Van Tri (Go Vap district) only sell RON95 petrol.

According to newswire tuoitre.vn, all petrol stations of one fuel firm in South Vietnam do not sell E5 RON92 petrol at all.

Nguyen Van Tiu, general director of Tu Luc 1 JSC,said that trading in E5 RON92 petrol requires substantial investment in the construction of a mixing plant, billions of VND to erect the necessary infrastructure system, and current sales cannot recover these expenses. Accordingly, sales are low and capital returns at a snail’s pace, and wastage rates arehigh.

According to the latest report of the MoIT, the total E5 RON92 petrol consumption in this year’s first three months was 740,000 cubic metres, equalling 37.8 per cent of the total amount of petrol consumed. This number is lower than last year's 3.148 million cb.m, when it made up 42 per cent of the petrol market.
“Therefore, if policies do not provide significant incentives to E5 RON92 over RON95, E5 will find it hard to survive in the market,” said Tiu.

Tuoitre.vn quoted a petrol distributor in the northern province of Vinh Phuc as saying that with 4,000 litres of E5 RON92 petrol, 25-30 litres are wasted, while this is only 5-6 litres for RON95.

“The consumption of E5 RON92 recently fell by 20-30 per cent, leading to increasing stocks and significant costs for the maintenance of containers,” said Tiu. “The business performance of ethanol fuel over the past time has shown that it is really necessary to create a big difference between the price of E5 and RON95.”

Accordingly, the environmental protection tax on E5 RON92 fuel is VND3,610 per litre, only 5 per cent less than the tax on RON95. The Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) also suggested the government to increase the price difference by adjusting the tax rate on E5 RON92 petrol.

Inspection conclusion at VEAM Corporation

On May 16, the Ministry of Industry and Trade announced Inspection Conclusion No.3202/KL-BCT about the management and usage of capital and assets as well as the production and business activities of Vietnam Motors and Agricultural Machinery Corporation (VEAM).

In the document, the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) stated that in the period between 2010 and June 2018, in spite of producing profit in its annual consolidated business reports, revenue mainly came from joint venture companies like Toyota or Honda.

Meanwhile, the inspection uncovered inefficient production and business activities at other business units under the management of VEAM, leading to reduced profitability or even losses.

The management and administration at VEAM and its members feature many errors and shortcomings. Specifically, the inspectors found many violations in the staff organisation, management, and use of capital, assets or debts, causing damage and wasting state assets.

The MoIT also transferred documents to the Ministry of Public Security (MoPS) to clarify and handle violations following the law.

In 2018, VEAM achieved a revenue of VND7.047 trillion ($306.4 million), which mostly came from joint ventures with Ford, Honda, and Toyota Vietnam.

Currently, VEAM shares are priced at VND50,000 ($2.17), with the corresponding capitalisation of VND66 trillion ($2.87 billion).

Formerly known as 1-member State Company Limited, VEAM operates under the MoIT under the parent company-subsidiary company model. It was established on May 12, 1990 with the central goal of promoting the industrialisation of Vietnam's mechanical industry and the modernisation of agriculture and rural areas.

VEAM currently holds 30 per cent stake in Honda Vietnam, 20 per cent in Toyota Vietnam, and 25 per cent in Ford Vietnam. Each year, VEAM receives trillions of VND in dividends from these joint ventures.

In January 2017, the company changed to a joint stock model with the charter capital of VND13.288 trillion ($577.7 million).

Suntory Pepsico Vietnam partners with Deloitte Consulting Vietnam

As a part of its commitment to sustainable development in the Vietnamese market, Suntory PepsiCo Beverage Vietnam Limited (Suntory PepsiCo Vietnam) invested in the implementation of the most advanced Enterprise Resource Planning solution (SAP S/4HANA).

Today, Suntory PepsiCo Vietnam officially signed the strategic partnership agreement with Deloitte Consulting Vietnam to start the world’s leading enterprise resource planning project (SAP S/4HANA) for Suntory PepsiCo Vietnam.

After 25 years of sustainable development in Vietnam, the company has run successful business and contributed thousands of billion of dong to the state’s budget, offering thousands of jobs for Vietnamese employees as well as conducted many meaningful activities to support the community. However, in the rapidly changing technology world, Suntory PepsiCo Vietnam decided that it is time the company has to invest for business transformation.

The application of SAP S/4HANA helps Suntory PepsiCo Vietnam in effectively planning and managing all corporate business activities. After completing the project, the company will own a world-class corporate administration system with all business data being recorded and retrieved in real time.

This system will assist the board of directors in supervising the always-on key performance indicators, making timely yet accurate decisions and increasing competitive advantage in the market for the corporate. Besides, SAP S/4HANA also supports the business in processing financial statements in a prompt, exact and transparent manner.

Commenting on the implementation of this project, Aamir Muhammad, senior vice president & CFO of Suntory PepsiCo Vietnam said, “The company made the choice to embrace the change and have chartered a course towards becoming a future ready organization to ensure sustainable growth and also continue our contribution in the success of Vietnam.

The company has partnered with SAP and Deloitte Consulting Vietnam to help us in taking the first step in this journey by investing in SAP S/4HANA, a state of art cloud based ERP solution, which sits at the heart of our pursuit for change.”

According to the agreement, Deloitte Consulting Vietnam is responsible for comprehensively implementing the SAP S/4HANA solution for Suntory PepsiCo Vietnam. The solution will be applied in Suntory PepsiCo Vietnam at the nationwide scale and is expected to go into official operation from 2020.

Nowadays, SAP S/4HANA has been successfully applied in various companies across the world. In Vietnam, Suntory PepsiCo Vietnam is one of the first beverage companies to apply the most advanced Enterprise Resource Planning solution - SAP S/4HANA in the intention of building a solid corporate administration platform for promoting the accelerated and sustainable development in the future.

This is a bold but promising decision of the company in the age of Industry 4.0. The thorough application of technology for business operation and administration is a part of the sustainable development strategy of Suntory PepsiCo in Vietnam in Vietnam market.

Pankaj Rathi, Vietnam country consulting leader of Deloitte Consulting Vietnam emphasised, “The SAP S/4HANA project of Suntory PepsiCo Vietnam is one of the largest projects nowadays due to its large scope of work and requirement of huge investment in finance and human resources. The company has been working closely with Suntory PepsiCo Vietnam in building solutions and procedures based on the most advanced international standards, which are suitable for their business operation model in Vietnam.”

Market’s liquidity stays stable amidst exchange rate uptrend

BUSINESS NEWS 23/5

The monetary market’s liquidity has remained stable and foreign currency supply and demand are relatively balanced amidst the uptrend of USD/VND exchange rates over the last few days, an official from the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) has assured.

Director of the SBV’s Monetary Policy Department Pham Thanh Ha said on May 21 that the exchange rate hike was mainly driven by the market’s concern about the possibility of US-China trade talks worsening and the continuous depreciation of the Chinese yuan since late April.

After the central bank listed the USD buying rate at 23,200 VND per USD on January 2, exchange rates in the market stayed relatively stable until mid-April. Therefore, the SBV purchased a large amount of foreign currencies to raise foreign exchange reserves, thus helping to consolidate the national financial-monetary security and improve the capability of making interventions when necessary.

Exchange rates have tended to increase since late April, but the market’s liquidity and legal demand for foreign currencies have been still ensured, he said.

On May 21 morning, the SBV set the reference exchange rate at 23,069 VND per USD, up 23 VND from May 8, when the rate reached a record high.

At 8:15 am, Vietcombank posted the buying rate at 23,345 VND/USD and the selling rate at 23,465 VND/USD, up 15 VND from the same time of May 20.

BIDV offered the respective rates at 23,350 – 23,470 VND/USD, up by 20 VND. Techcombank posted 23,325 VND/USD (buying) and 23,465 VND/USD (selling), up 15 VND.

Ha said the central bank will continue keeping a close watch on both the domestic and foreign markets to set the daily reference exchange rate in a flexible manner. It will also use synchronous measures and policy tools to stabilise the market.

If necessary, the SBV is ready to sell foreign currencies at suitable prices to keep the market and macro-economy stable, the official added.

First Mekong Delta one commune – one product fair in June

The first one commune – one product (OCOP) fair of the Mekong Delta region is scheduled for June 6 – 10 in Ben Tre province.

According to Director of the provincial Department of Industry and Trade Le Van Khe, the event is expected to feature between 300 and 350 stalls from 12 localities in the delta, as well as the southeastern, Central Highlands, northern, and central regions.

Khe said provinces and cities have so far registered 260 stalls to display local specialties, including food, beverage, herbs, fabric, souvenirs, and agricultural services.

On the sidelines, there will be conferences and seminars on OCOP building, farming tourism, and OCOP start-ups, among others.

Ngo Tat Thang, Deputy Director of the National New-Style Rural Areas Operation Department, said the expo aims to promote goods developed under the OCOP programme and experience sharing among participating localities in terms of OCOP-related production and goods development.

In 2013, Quang Ninh was the first locality in Vietnam to implement the programme, which was initiated by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in 2008, following the model of Japan’s “One Village, One Product” (OVOP) drive and Thailand’s “One Town, One Product” (OTOP).

The OCOP programme is now being carried out in all localities across Vietnam for the 2018-2020 period, aiming to promote rural economic development towards increasing internal strengths and values. It focuses on developing high potential agricultural and non-agricultural products, and services in each locality based on the value chain.

Ben Tre is striving to have 100 percent of its communes joining the programme by 2020. It sets to develop at least 30 OCOP goods rated three stars by the time; the figure is expected to be 250 a decade later.

Ca Mau takes steps towards tourism expansion

The southernmost province of Ca Mau has taken steps to tap into its potential and make the most of its advantages towards speeding up tourism development.

In recent years, Ca Mau has seen an annual growth of 12-14 percent in the number of tourists. In 2017, the province welcomed over 1.2 million visitors, up 61.29 percent against 2010, with tourism revenue rising 3.5 times during this period.

In 2018, Ca Mau served more than 1.4 million tourists, a rise of 16 percent year-on-year, with a revenue of 2.2 trillion VND (94.6 million USD).

Major tourism routes of the locality include Ca Mau-U Minh Ha National Park-Hon Da Bac, Ca Mau-Song Trem eco-tourism area, and Ca Mau-Mui Ca Mau National Park-Dat Mui Tourist Site.

Thanks to a developed and connected road system, the province has formed four tourist areas and 14 community-based eco-tourism sites.

In the five years since Mui Ca Mai National Park launched its community-based ecotourism service, which was supported by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, local tourism has seen rapid growth.

According to Phan Quoc Khai, Director of the Mui Ca Mau National Park, the annual number of domestic visitors to the park has risen over the years to reach roughly 300,000 people in recent times.

Tran Hong Quan, Vice Chairman of the People’s Committee of Ca Mau, said that ecotourism and community-based tourism are now the major tourism products of Ca Mau. Therefore, the locality has focused on plans to preserve and develop the Mui Ca Mau mangrove forest ecotourism area and U Minh Ha National Park ecotourism area; along with the tourism sites of Hon Khoai, Hon Da Bac, and Khai Long beach.

However, insiders held that Ca Mau’s tourism industry lacks professionalism and needs to select key highlights.

Nguyen Thanh Tuyen, from the Ca Mau Tourism Promotion Centre, said that compared to other regional localities, tourism development in Ca Mau has yet to match its full potential and live up to its advantages.

The locality’s tourism products have yet to meet the demand of tourists, while tourism promotion has been ineffective.

According to the Mekong Delta Tourism Association, the number of foreign tourists travelling to Ca Mau has remained modest as out of the 2.8 million foreign tourists to the region, only 25,000 (less than 1 percent) travel to Ca Mau.

Director of the provincial Department of Culture, Sports, and Tourism Tran Hieu Hung said that localities in the province are not yet active in developing tourism products and community-based tourism models, while the transport infrastructure to tourism sites has been poor and incentives for tourism businesses has remained modest. Only 50 percent of the tourism workforce has been trained, affecting the quality of tourism services, he added.

Amidst the current situation, Quan said that in the future, the province will design a number of preferential policies to attract more investment in tourism, including those related to land use and ground clearance.

Ca Mau will encourage businesses to invest in ecotourism development in Mui Ca Mau and U Minh Ha National Parks.

Poor areas will be supported to develop infrastructure system for tourism expansion, he said.

Hoa Phat exports over 6,000 tonnes of rolled steel to Japan

Hoa Phat, a major industrial group in Vietnam, said it is preparing its shipment of 6,000 tonnes of high-quality rolled steel to Japan.

This is the first shipment to Japan carried out by Hoa Phat’s newly opened Hoa Phat Dung Quat Iron and Steel Production Complex in the central province of Quang Ngai. Prior to the complex opening, Hoa Phat’s overseas shipments were often sent via the Hai Phong port in the northern city of Hai Phong.

The steel will be delivered to four ports in Japan using two shipping vessels.

Last year, Hoa Phat’s rolled steel exports to Japan soared 20 times to over 58,500 tonnes. In the first five months of 2019, the group’s total steel exports to the market are estimated to reach 22,000 tonnes.

The Hoa Phat Dung Quat complex is designed to have a total of 11 ports, able to handle up to 32 million tonnes of goods each year.

More solar power plants to come into operation in June

Deputy director of the National Load Dispatch Center Nguyen Duc Ninh said that the national power supply will increase when many new solar power plants come into operation in June.

By the end of April this year, there were only four solar power plants being put into operation but by mid-May this year, there were 27 plants. It is expected that there will be 88 more plants in operation by the end of June.

Regarding power supply, Vietnam Electricity (EVN) said that power load in the first four months of this year reached 74.35 billion kWh, 628 million kWh higher than this year’s plan, up 11 percent over the
same period last year.

It is expected that in May and June, power load will continue to increase to 42.8 billion kWh, an increase of 10 percent compared to the same period last year. Maximum capacity is expected to be at 37,000- 39,000 MW, up 11-14 percent over the same period last year.

Besides, due to El Nino phenomenon, water volume at hydropower reservoirs is forecasted to remain at low level in central and central highlands provinces in May and June.

However, Mr. Ngo Son Hai, deputy CEO of EVN, affirmed that power supply will be sufficient during dry season as well as the rest of the year.

Several products exported to Japan see slumps in turnover

According to the Asia-Africa Market Department under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, in the first quarter of this year, although export turnover of Vietnam to Japan’s market rose 6.7 percent compared to the same period last year, some key export products have seen sharp declines.

Particularly, exports of cell phones and components dropped heavily compared to the same period last year when merely reaching US$98.2 million, a decrease of 31.9 percent. This was caused by a slump
in production of Samsung. The group’s global cell phone sales in the last quarter of last year were merely 70.4 million units, the lowest level in the past six years.

Exports of vegetables and fruits also slightly slid by 0.5 percent compared to the same period last year to touch $28.2 million.

In addition, the number of shipments of agricultural products exported to Japan being returned is higher than previous years, causing shipments of fresh dragon fruit to be intensively checked for 30 percent of
total shipments imported into Japan.

Because of difficult customs clearance, some Japanese importers have become more cautious of Vietnamese vegetables and fruits. At the same time, some steel and iron products and automobile spare parts also tend to decline.

Deputy PM chairs meeting of Vietnamese, Russian businesses

BUSINESS NEWS 23/5

Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung addresses the meeting

Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung on May 21 chaired a meeting between representatives of 100 Vietnamese firms in Vietnam and Russia and Russian businesses to foster partnerships between the two sides.

Addressing the event, the Deputy PM lauded the efforts of Vietnamese entrepreneurs in Russia in carrying out investment and charity activities in the homeland, as well as their solidarity and mutual support.

Vietnam and Russia have shared a time-honoured relationship and close partnership in many areas. Vietnam is currently the only strategic partner of Russia in the Asia-Pacific region, he noted.

He said that over a decade as strategic partners, economics, and trade have always been a spotlight in the all-round ties between the two countries.

Dung, who is accompanying PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc during his Russia visit, said that the PM’s visit aims to further deepen the bilateral comprehensive strategic partnership and seek new development orientations for the future.

In 2020, Vietnam and Russia will celebrate the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations which obtained great achievements across politics-diplomacy, economy-trade, security-defence, science-technology, education-training, culture, and tourism.

The Vietnam-Russia ties have been intensified in four major pillars of trade, investment, oil and gas, and electricity. Two-way trade has been rising, while cooperation models have been diversified.

In 2018, trade between the two countries reached 4.57 billion USD, up 28.6 percent from 2017, which is hoped to hit 10 billion USD in 2020, noted the Deputy PM, praising the significant role of Vietnamese entrepreneurs in Russia in promoting Vietnamese products in the market.

The Deputy PM said that Vietnam is speeding up industrialisation and modernisation process, requiring entrepreneurs, especially those abroad, to attract more investments in the homeland and seek markets for Vietnamese products.

Vietnam has been pursuing an external policy of independence, self-reliance, multilateralisation and diversification of its relations, becoming a friend with all countries and engaging in many bilateral and multilateral trade agreements and new generation free trade deals. This is a good condition and a chance for Vietnam to lure more investment, he said.

He expressed his hope that Vietnamese entrepreneurs in Russia will continue reforming business and production methods to meet the market demands, while bettering coordination with their peers at home to expand markets in the region.

Chairman of the Vietnamese Entrepreneurs’ Association in Russia Le Truong Son said that the meeting is a good chance for businesses of both sides to share experience and enhance mutual understanding.

At the event, participants worked directly with each other to seek business and investment partnerships.

 
 
 
 
 
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