BUSINESS NEWS 24/6

Supermarkets develop their own brand products

BUSINESS NEWS 24/6


Supermarkets have started ordering businesses to develop products under their own brand, and companies and consumers are reaping the rewards.

Director of An Thanh Production and Trading Co, Ltd in Ha Noi Nguyen Mai Ngoc, one of the enterprises making products for supermarkets, said the biggest benefit was optimising the capacity of machines, equipment and factories, without worrying about demand.

This has encouraged the enterprises to scale up production, Ngoc said.

Deputy Director of the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Domestic Market Department Le Viet Nga said the supermarkets provide their own brand products, making customers enjoy cheap goods and manufacturing companies have more orders.

Chairwoman of the Viet Nam Retail Association Dinh Thi My Loan said most supermarket-branded products are low or medium-grade products so they mainly compete with small companies’ ones.

The competition has encouraged small-sized companies to innovate in their designs and diversify products as well as to improve product quality for attracting consumers, Loan said.

Deputy General Director of the Ha Noi Trade Corporation (Hapro) Nguyen Tien Vuong was quoted by the Kinh te do thi (Economic and Urban Affairs) newspaper as saying that the development of supermarket-branded products is direct co-operation between manufacturers with retailers to cut out the middle man and give more options to consumers.

Hapro supermarkets sell own brand ham, sausage and wine made by Hapro member enterprises, he said. This helps enterprises develop their production capacity, protects them from competition and increases profits as they don't have to give discounts to suppliers.

These products have attracted the attention of consumers because the selling price is lower while the quality is similar with the same products.

Director of Ha Dong Co.opmart Nguyen Thi Kim Dung said the supermarket-branded products are cheap because supermarkets have distribution channels and don't spend much on advertisement.

The cheap prices allow consumers more options, while the retailers know the tastes, trends and spending levels of customers so they know the products that need to be invested in.

In Ha Noi, most major supermarkets such as Vinmart, Co.opmart, Hapro and Big C sell many supermarket-branded products.

Co.opmart started offering products with its brand in 2007 and so far, it has introduced nearly 500 goods to its supermarket system, focusing on essential consumer goods from food to household appliances.

From December 2018, Saigon Co.op introduced its supermarket-branded products to serve customers, from popular to high-end.

In 2015, Vingroup invested in the agricultural sector with VinEco producing agricultural products according to VietGAP and Global GAP standards.

So far, VinEco has produced thousands of tonnes of clean agricultural products to sell at VinMart supermarkets and VinMart+ stores.

Big C sells some supermarket-branded products such as confectionery, writing paper and washing powder.

Meanwhile, since 2016, Lotte Mart supermarket system has started to provide supermarket-branded products as Choice L with more than 1,000 items ranging from household items, fashion and electronics to essential goods.

VMAC builds strategy for debt trading

The Việt Nam Asset Management Company (VAMC) is planning to develop a new strategy for buying and selling bad debts in Việt Nam this year, in which it will play a central role to promote the development of the debt trading market.

The company expected to submit the plan to authorities for approval and bring the market into operation next year, it said in the newly released five-year development plan.

At the same time, the VAMC would build a legal framework for the establishment and operation of a bad debt trading platform in 2020-21, it said.

The Vietnamese Government has taken many measures to clean up toxic assets in the banking system. Under the central bank’s plan, asset management companies will take the helm to tackle piles of non-performing loans (NPLs) at banks.

The VAMC, set up in July 2013, is in charge of cleaning up bad debts in the banking system. Since its establishment until the end of last year, the company had bought NPLs worth nearly VNĐ339 trillion (US$14.55 billion) at book value from credit institutions through the issuance of special bonds.

In 2018 alone, the figure reached almost VNĐ31 trillion. The company also recouped VNĐ34 trillion worth of bad debts last year, lifting the total value recovered during 2013-18 to VNĐ115.6 trillion, it reported.

For debt purchases at market prices, the value was more modest at VNĐ2.8 trillion last year and nearly VNĐ6 trillion in the last five years.

The VAMC said this year it had started to focus on buying bad debts from weak credit institutions which may cause risks to the banking system and those with bad debt ratios of more than 3 per cent.

It expects to buy VNĐ50 trillion worth of bad debts and another VNĐ4.5 trillion of NPLs according to market prices in 2019.

In the five-year plan, the company expects to buy bad debts worth at least VNĐ330 trillion ($14.2 billion) by 2020. The figure of bad debts purchased at market prices will reach at least VNĐ20 trillion.

The company will also focus on buying bad debts at the market price mechanism during the 2021-23 period.

Regarding debt settlement, it hopes to basically complete the handling of bad debts purchased in the previous period (excluding bad debts purchased through issuance of special bonds to weak credit institutions) by the end of 2020.

VAMC said it would prioritise large bad debts to minimise management and collateral costs and shift focus from issuing special bonds to buying bad debts at market prices. At the same time, it would select each debt or buy in batches to speed up the process of bad debt restructuring through the company.

To implement the strategy, VAMC is asking for the Government to pump more money to raise charter capital from the current VNĐ2 trillion to VNĐ5 trillion in 2019 and VNĐ10 trillion in 2020-21.

It also hopes to mobilise capital from domestic and international organisations and individuals in accordance with the law.

E-wallet firms tussle for bigger slice of the pie

Recent mergers and acquisitions in Vietnam’s fintech industry indicate a strategic fight for e-wallet market share.

Vimo Technology JSC, a mobile wallet provider, and Vietnam mPOS Technology JSC, which develops portable point-of-sale technology, recently merged into one entity called NextPay Holdings.

NextPay Holdings aims to raise $30 million from foreign investors as it seeks an upper hand in the Vietnamese fintech market.

NextPay CEO Nguyen Huu Tuat said that the fintech industry has a small profit margin, and only two or three companies with the highest number of customers can thrive in this crowded market.

The merger will give NextPay a wider customer base and be more competitive, he told VnExpress International. "We now account for about 13-15 percent of Vietnam’s point of sales market, and we want to bring this number to 40-50 percent in the next three years."

The company is also eyeing Myanmar and Indonesia in its expansion plan next year.

Vietnamese conglomerate Vingroup last month acquired digital wallet app MonPay to integrate cashless payment service into its VinID app where customers can accumulate points through goods and services bought from the group’s ecosystem.

MoMo, the most popular e-wallet in the country, earlier this year raised $100 million from U.S. private equity firm Warburg Pincus, following previous investments of $25 million from Standard Chartered and $3 million from Goldman Sachs.

Economist Nguyen Tri Hieu said that the mergers and acquisitions in the fintech industry show that companies are seeing an urgent need to increase their market share.

"If a company cannot change the spending habit of a large number of users, it won’t make a profit and will lose in the race," he said.

Vietnam has seen robust expansion of fintech companies in recent years as the government encourages cashless transactions..

There were 29 licensed payment service providers apart from local banks as of February, according to the State Bank of Vietnam. Among these, 20 offer e-wallets.

Between 2016-2018, the number of fintech companies in Vietnam rose from 40 to almost 100, among the 26 are payment service providers which have received government’s permission.

The government is working to accelerate the use of cashless transactions. In a resolution released January, it tasked the central bank to come up with solutions that would promote the use of e-wallets, which allow users to deposit cash into their e-wallets without the need for a bank account.

Vietnam’s fintech market was valued at $4.4 billion in 2017 and is estimated to reach $7.8 billion in 2020, according to market research firm Solidiance.

The use of cash in Vietnam remains high. World Bank statistics released last year showed that the country had the lowest percentage of cashless transactions in the region with only 4.9 percent, while this value for China and Thailand were 26.1 percent and 59.7 percent respectively.

Belgian programme supports projects on developing Vietnam

The Belgian Directorate-General for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid (DGD) has recently launched the Business Partnership Facility to support and develop the private sector involvement in Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Vietnam and other developing countries, according to the Vietnamese Trade Office in Belgium.

The programme aims at creating and maintaining jobs, improving average income for families with low incomes, accessing affordable goods and services for low-income earners, and developing projects which have positive impact on the environment through saving resources, reducing emissions and by preserving biodiversity.

Each applicant must be part of a partnership that brings together actors from the private sector, civil society, academia and/or the public sector. The partnership must comprise at least one organisation from the for-profit private sector.

The projects should be planned for a period of 5 years. Funding of up to 200,000 EUR (225,300 USD) is available for each project selected.

EU countries wish to enhance cooperation with Vietnam

Members of the European Union (EU) have expressed their wish to promote cooperation with Vietnam, including the earliest possible signing of the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement
(EVFTA) and the EU-Vietnam Investment Promotion Agreement (EVIPA), EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström has said.

At a reception for Vietnamese Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh in Brussels, Belgium, on June 19, the EU official lauded the National Assembly, Government and relevant agencies of Vietnam for ratifying the International Labour Organisation (ILO)’s Convention 98 and building and amending law, including the amendment to the Labour Code.

Malmström said she sent Anh’s letter informing these results to EU members which showed positive response to Vietnam’s progress.

The two sides discussed cooperation frameworks, opportunities and challenges facing Vietnam and EU partners in expanding and improving the efficiency of the bilateral economic, trade and investment ties.

Vietnam, EU countries and Trade Commissioner Malmström are stepping up efforts to complete procedures for the signing of the EVFTA, slated for later this month in Hanoi.

Anh told the Vietnam News Agency that during the latest working session of the European Council, some EU countries wanted to study more about Vietnam’s legal reform and socio-economic activities within the framework of international integration and requirements of the two agreements.

Vietnam is constructively working with the EU countries to complete procedure-related requirements set in the deals, he said.

While in Brussels, the minister also met with Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Employment, Economy and Consumer Affairs Kris Peeters to discuss economic and trade ties between the two countries.

Belgium was part of Anh’s trip to some EU countries, including Romania, Italy and Spain, from June 17-21.

Hanoi serves nearly 14.4 million visitors so far

Hanoi welcomed nearly 14.4 million visitors so far this year, up 9.5 percent over the same period last year, including more than 3.3 million foreign tourists, a year on year rise of 10.6 percent,
reported the municipal Department of Tourism.

According to the department, total tourism revenue of the city reached over 50.24 trillion VND, a surge of 30 percent year on year.

In order to promote its image, the city People’s Committee has signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperation with the CNN channel for the 2019-2024 period during which the CNN will introduce the culture, history and people of the capital city.

The department has collaborated with the Vietnam Airlines to welcome delegations from Japan, Australia and European countries to Hanoi to study the tourism market, and organise the “Summer in Europe” event in the city.

The department will also exploit tourism potential of outskirt districts and communes.

Alongside, the city tourism sector will apply measures to prevent violations in tourism activities to ensure tourists’ rights, while providing support for visitors in seeking information and receiving their feedback via its hotline and tourism information stations.

Tran Duc Hai, Director of the department said that in the future, the sector will continue improving the quality of tourism products highlighting heritage, festivals, craft villages, cuisine, agriculture and
community-based tourism of the city.

The city will invest in major destinations from now to 2020, while continuing seeking new destinations to lure more visitors to the city as well as the Red River delta region and the country, he added.

Hanoi aims to draw 5.3 billion USD in FDI in six months

Hanoi is striving to attract over 500 million USD in foreign direct investment (FDI) in June 2019, raising the total FDI capital to nearly 5.3 billion USD in the first half of the year, according to
insiders.

In January-May, Hanoi led the country in FDI attraction with 4.79 billion USD.

Director of the municipal Department of Planning and Investment Nguyen Manh Quyen said Hanoi has been pushing ahead with administrative reforms and improvement of investment environment, as well as taking measures to ease difficulties for businesses, especially administrative procedures.

The city strives to update all addressed administrative dossiers through the one-stop information system to lure more FDI projects, he said.

The official added that the State budget will be prioritised for technical infrastructure projects and those playing key role in promoting socio-economic development.

The city welcomes investment in high technology projects and use and creation of clean energies, he said.

Other priority fields include health care, information technology, biotechnology, infrastructure development, human resources training, research and development, and high-quality services.

Hanoi will reform its policies to lure large-scale investment projects with increased added values and using environmentally-friendly technologies, according to Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee Nguyen Duc Chung.

Rooftop solar power output of central region to increase to 48 MWp in 2019

The Electricity Vietnam’s Central Power Corporation (EVNCPC) aims to raise rooftop solar power output to 48 MWp this year, said the company on June 18.

It is working to complete installation of solar power systems at its subsidiaries and transformer stations by June 30.

The company is carrying out a project on a 50 MWp central region’s solar power plant in the south central coastal province of Khanh Hoa. The first phase of the project was completed and connected to the national grid on June 14.

Meanwhile, EVNCPC’s rooftop solar power projects on Be Island of Ly Son island district in Quang Ngai central province and offices of EVNCPC subsidiaries have a combined capacity of 2.72 MWp.

Capacity of home solar power systems in the region stands at 6.1 MWp, as currently 706 households in the region have had the system installed on their rooftops.

Vietnam, Republic of Korea boost collaboration in auditing

Vietnam’s Auditor General Ho Duc Phoc and a delegation of the State Audit Office of Vietnam (SAV) had a working session in Seoul on June 19 with the Board of Audit and Inspection (BAI) of
the Republic of Korea (RoK) to boost bilateral cooperation in the time ahead.

Their discussions covered information technology (IT) auditing, the application of IT in auditing activities, anti-corruption auditing and training of State auditors, including those in IT auditing.

Auditor General Phoc took the occasion to thank the RoK’s Board of Audit and Inspection for its coordination with and support for the SAV.

He said the SAV hopes to learn from the BAI’s experience in IT auditing and the application of IT in auditing, which is a priority of the SAV at present.

BAI Chairman Choe Jaehyeong said his agency is ready to assist the SAV in improving its performance. The board will discuss with the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) continued support in
training auditor for Vietnam, he said, adding that another function of the BAI is inspection, so the two sides can also work together in this field.

Choe thanks the Vietnamese Government and the SAV for facilitating the operation of RoK enterprises in Vietnam, and expressed his hope that bilateral ties between the two countries will further expanded.

 

The SAV and the BAI set up ties in 2003 following a working visit to the RoK by the then Deputy Auditor General Vuong Dinh Hue. The two agencies signed a cooperation agreement in May 2007, which
allowed them to carry out a series of joint activities such as exchange of visits of leaders and experts, experience sharing, conferences and workshops. Those activities have gradually been adjusted to meet
the SAV’s needs in professional skills and training.

The BAI has an important role in the Asian Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (ASOSAI). As General Secretary of the ASOSAI, the BAI has always supported and assisted the SAV in multilateral
activities, including the organisation of the 14th ASOSAI Assembly in 2018, and in performing the role of ASOSAI Chair at present.

Tourism-hotel transaction platform wins startup contest

The BedLinker.com project – an online platform for tourism-hotel service transactions, has surpassed nine outstanding projects nationwide to win an innovative tourism startup competition at its
final round in Hanoi on June 18.

The open platform helps travel companies connect to a host of hotels, resorts and other types of accommodation for easy room check and booking.

Its rivaling finalists included the Liberzy tourism map sharing project that enables tourists to earn money via sharing their travel experiences; the Goeatme platform helping holiday-makers discover locations of
good food worldwide; and the Tubudd platform that links visitors to local residents in tourist destinations around the globe.

According to the organiser, all finalists and prize winners will be introduced to international and domestic startup investment programmes and have chance to secure funding valued from 1 million USD and
above. They will also be honoured at the 2019 Vietnam Tourism Awards in the first-time-debut category of innovative startups that applying technologies in tourism development.

The top prize winner, meanwhile, will be selected to be a finalist of the Vietnam Startup Wheel contest.

The competition, co-organised by the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism and the Songhan incubator, aimed at gathering innovative ideas nationwide and spreading start-up spirit in the tourism
sector.

More opportunities for Vietnamese to work in UAE

Vietnam’s Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA) and the Ministry of Human Resourcesand Emiratisation (MOHRE) of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in the area of domestic help to create more opportunities forVietnamese labourers to work in the market.

The MoU was signed on June 17 between Vietnamese MOLISA Minister Dao Ngoc Dung and MOHRE Minister Nasser Thani Al Hamli on the sideline of the 108th Session of the International Labour Conference (ILC) held in Geneva, Switzerland.

The MoU regulates the process to select and trainVietnamese workers as well as the responsibilities of the agency specialising in sending and receiving workers and the contents of labour contracts with employees.

According to the MOLISA, the MoU took effect immediately after signing, with a term of four years, and it will be automatically extended if either party does not wish to terminate the implementation of the MoU.

This MoU only regulates domestic helpers working in the UAE while the MoU signed between the two governments in 2009 stipulates provisions for workers inall professions.

The MOLISA said that Vietnam began to send workers to the UAE in 1995. Currently, there are about 5,000 Vietnamese labourers working in the UAE, mainly in the fields of construction, mechanics, shipbuilding, and hotel services, with a basic salary of roughly US$450 permonth.

Tech mistake leads to stellar shipping fees on Lazada

Due to a mistake of Lazada's system, the platform charged VND8.2 million ($359) for shipping an order of VND125,000 ($5.4).

Over the past few days, customers on Lazada.vn have been complaining about exorbitant delivery fees. Nguyen Anh Dao in the highlands province of Dak Lak said that she ordered five fabric bags on Lazada.vn with the total value of VND125,000 ($5.4). However, at the next step of payment, she was surprised that the shipping fee would have been VND8.2 million ($359), 66 times the order value.

When she changed the delivery location to Ho Chi Minh City, this fee fell to VND1.8 million ($80), still 15-times higher than the value of the goods to be shipped.

“I was surprised by the shipping fee and sent a message to seller, but got no feedback. I have never seen a shipping fee like this, the highest delivery fee from Ho Chi Minh City to Dak Lak province is only VND50-60,000 (2.17-2.6),” Dao told the media.

In a similar case, Nguyen Pham Bao Han (Ho Chi Minh City) told media that she could not believe her eyes when she wanted to order a Lock&Lock ironing board priced VND490,000 ($21.3) but the shipping fee was VND23.5 million ($1,020), although the supplier was also located in Ho Chi Minh City.

Discussing these issues with the media, Lazada's representative said that this mistake has been caused by the suppliers who filled out the information of the products. "A number of suppliers filled in the wrong size or weight of the products. They used kilogrammes instead of grammes, so the delivery fees increased 1,000-fold," he said.

Thereby, he recommended customers to contact vendors or Lazada's customer care via the in-app chat box if they see huge shipping fees. "We also suggest clients to choose the products of vendors who are nearest to the delivery location, to save fees," added Lazada's representative.

Unease over condotel ownership issue

Experts have sounded the alarm over the development of the condotel segment in Vietnam after the first project was forced to revise the ownership duration which it had issued to buyers.

Located in the central city of Danang – one of the cities with the highest number of condotels currently, 586 Company is the owner of a land area which was approved by the local authorities for manufacturing, trading, and service activities and includes condotel units.

In 2008, Danang authorities issued permanent ownership over the condotel units to the buyers of this project. However, the Government Inspectorate last week announced that this condotel project was not permitted to issue permanent ownership to buyers because the units’ approved function is leasing, not living.

Danang authorities therefore had to revise the unlimited ownership to a duration of 50 years, which is the duration applied for commercial and trading properties.

The revision shocked many buyers who had bought a condotel in Vietnam, and developers are also looking it more difficulties in sales when their condotel units cannot be given permanent ownership.

Condotels have been the rising star in the Vietnamese real estate scene in recent years. However, as a novelty it is not fully covered by current regulations. The related laws on Housing and Real Estate Business make no mention of this type of property.

Therefore, according to policymakers, because condotels are built on land areas which have been approved by the government for the purpose of manufacturing, trading, commerce, and services (for trading and for lease), they cannot be given a red book which is given to properties earmarked for residential purposes. However, at present, besides Danang, some other condotels in the south-central provinces of Khanh Hoa and Binh Dinh have also been advertising that they can provide a “red book” representing permanent ownership.

Together with high rental yield commitments, permanent ownership is one of the largest points of attraction among buyers. However, in fact, no condotel units have been granted permanent ownership yet.

According to Le Hoang Chau, chairman of the Ho Chi Minh City Real Estate Association, some local authorities such as Danang have issued permanent ownership for condotels (for leasing only, not for living) which was not in line with current regulations. “Permanent ownership can only be given to properties that are earmarked for living, not for leasing,” Chau said, adding that permanent ownership can be given to two types of properties including land and house for living, and land for graveyards. All other properties are limited in ownership duration of 50 years maximum.

According to Tran Duc Phuong, a lawyer from the Ho Chi Minh City Bar Association, local authorities which had issued permanent ownership to condotel developers will be penalised because this is against the current law.

“Advertisements promising permanent ownership to buyers is a sign of violation as it is a false promise to customers. This issue puts buyers into difficult circumstances as they cannot transfer condotel units to other buyers if they want because the units does not have a red book,” Phuong said.

On the side of policymakers, Nguyen Trong Ninh, head of the Department of Housing Management and Real Estate Market under the Ministry of Construction (MoC), said condotels are in fact hotel rooms and according to current regulations on trading and commercial land usage, they can only have limited-duration ownership. “For any other purposes, we still have to wait for more guidelines from the government,” Ninh said.

According to the MoC, the legal framework for condotels will be released within 2019. In the last three years, condotels have been booming in the coastal localities. In Nha Trang, Danang, Phu Quoc, and Halong, more than 30,000 condotel units were launched into the market as of March 2018. It is estimated that in 2020 there will be an additional 20,000 condotels up for sale.

Facilitating Vietnamese startups to gain success

Eighteen investment funds pledged a combined US$425 million to invest in Vietnamese startups in the next three years at the Vietnam Ventures Summit 2019 recently held in Hanoi. In addition, the presence of more than 100 foreign capital funds at the event showed the attractiveness of Vietnam's business environment and startup ecosystem for international investors.

According to Topica Founder Institute’s annual report on investment in Vietnam’s startups in 2018, Vietnamese startups received US$889 million investment in 928 deals from domestic and foreign investment funds in 2018, tripling the total compared to 2017 and six times higher than that in 2016.

Vietnam's startup ecosystem has also seen impressive growth in the number of businesses, when increasing from 400 startups in 2012 to 3,000 startups in 2018, the third largest growth rate in Asia.

Many Vietnamese startups have high level of technological innovation without repeating business models and ideas that have been implemented in other countries. So far, many large corporations such as FPT, Viettel, Vingroup, CenGroup, and others have officially participated in venture investment.

There are more than 40 business incubators and business promotion organisations and 60 joint working spaces throughout the country. The entrepreneurial ecosystem in Vietnam has received strong attention in terms of policy, infrastructure, financial institutions and support services.

Startup and innovation culture is increasingly encouraged among young people and has become the national entrepreneurial spirit. Since 2009, the Ministry of Science and Technology and the Ministry of Planning and Investment have initially built the foundation for the startup ecosystem. Amid this movement, there are optimistic opinions that Vietnam's innovation economy will boom in the future, promising to be an attractive market for venture investors.

Determining creativity and innovation the most important growth driver in the industrial revolution 4.0, the Government is trying to implement incentive policies, create optimal conditions for startup development and improve venture investment mechanisms so that capital flows can be poured into startups in the most convenient and effective ways.

With the role of coordinating and creating a legal framework and policies in support of startups, the Ministry of Planning and Investment has made important commitments to the investor community.

Some of the commitments are regular dialogues and discussions with venture capitalists and closely coordination with relevant units to implement appropriate measures to facilitate investment flows. The ministry also committed the creation of favourable conditions for startups to have access to funding and development opportunities through the National Innovation Centre and resource development initiatives.

According to experts, besides these commitments, Vietnam should nurture domestic resources by not letting them going abroad to seek investment and set up their business.

Ministry proposes VND45 trillion for urgent projects in Mekong Delta

The Ministry of Planning and Investment has proposed providing an additional VND45 trillion (US$1.93 billion) for urgent projects, such as building key traffic infrastructure, in the Mekong Delta over the next five years to accelerate their progress.

At a thematic forum on master planning, regional coordination mechanism and investment attraction for the Mekong Delta held today, June 18, as part of the Mekong Delta Forum 2019, Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyen Chi Dung said that the Government has invested heavily in the region, but the investment remains inadequate. The region has yet to have any deepwater seaports or railways, and the waterways are still underdeveloped, Tuoi Tre Online newspaper reported.

Dung pointed out that half of the proposed amount is expected to be sourced from the State budget and the remainder from private sources.

The amount has been calculated carefully and will be approved by the National Assembly (NA).

The region’s management council will determine the order of priority of projects.

Nguyen Duc Hai, head of the NA’s Committee on Finance and Budget, backed Dung’s proposal, stating that this is an important national program.

He remarked that VND45 trillion is not a large investment for developing a region as important as the Mekong Delta.

Deputy Minister of Finance Tran Xuan Ha also agreed to the proposal, saying that the capital poured into the region was not enough to meet the region’s development needs.

HCMC removing bottlenecks to assist waterway projects

Multiple hindrances to waterway infrastructure projects in HCMC are being removed as the city seeks to tap the potential of waterways connecting the city with neighboring provinces, including projects to build a new Binh Loi railway bridge and an inland container depot (ICD).

The new Binh Loi railway bridge project, which is some 90% complete, is scheduled to open to traffic by end-July, said Hoang Tuan Khoat, deputy director of the Project Management Unit No. 7, under the Ministry of Transport.

The railway bridge, once completed, will be 1.3 kilometers long and have a vertical clearance of seven meters, allowing watercraft with a load capacity of 2,400 tons to cross safely below, he said.

Phan Cong Bang, head of the Waterway Traffic Management Division in the city, said that the new railway bridge will meet the high demand for commuting and freight transportation between the city and neighboring localities.

The old Binh Loi railway bridge, with a vertical clearance of only 1.5 meters, has restricted the crossing of many watercraft, particularly those with a high cargo capacity.

Once the new bridge is in place, in addition to the active An Son port in Binh Duong Province, goods to Cat Lai Port or the Cai Mep-Thi Vai port complex will be chiefly transported by waterways for greater convenience and will ease transport pressure on roads, Bang explained.

Also, the old Long Phu bridge, linking HCMC’s District 12 with Thuan An Town in Binh Duong, is being dismantled to create favorable transport conditions for waterborne vessels, he added.

The province is currently studying ways to develop the Ben Suc Port project, while HCMC plans to build an ICD, which will cover at least 15 hectares of land in the outlying district of Cu Chi.

The ICD will accommodate goods to serve industrial zones northwest of the city and in Tay Ninh Province and will boost freight shipping activities through the city to other localities, according to Bang.

Further, many waterway agencies in HCMC will be merged into one large unit to improve management efficiency and encourage the growth of the waterway system, said Tran Quang Lam, director of the municipal Department of Transport.

Japanese firm to build coffee processing plant in Vietnam

Marubeni Corporation of Japan said it plans to invest 12.7 billion JPY (117.7 million USD) for building an instant coffee processing plant in an industrial park in the southern province of Ba Ria - Vung Tau.

This will be the second coffee processing plant of the Japanese firm following another one in Brazil.

Construction of the plant is scheduled to begin in 2020, with an initial capacity of 16,000 tonnes of products/year. Marubeni said it would double the capacity of its plant after the facility becomes operational.

According to Nikkei Daily, the demand of coffee in Southeast Asia and China has increased over 5 percent along with the rise of the middle class.

By establishing a processing plant in Vietnam - the second largest exporter and producer of coffee in the world after Brazil - Marubeni hopes to have a stable supply for producing and exporting coffee to Southeast Asian markets and China.

China, U.S., Taiwan ship more computers, electronics to Vietnam

Vietnam spent US$5.05 billion, US$1.78 billion and US$2.04 billion importing computers and electronic products from China, the United States and Taiwan in the first five months of the year, surging 80.8%, 46.2% and 43.2% over the same period last year, respectively.

According to the General Department of Vietnam Customs, the country imported US$20.12 billion worth of computers and electronic goods during the period, up 19.3% year-on-year. These were among Vietnam's largest import items in the period.

In particular, though South Korea was the largest supplier of computers and electronic products to Vietnam, with turnover of US$7.23 billion, China, the United States and Taiwan reported the highest growth in revenue from the export of these products to Vietnam.

Meanwhile, Vietnam exported US$12.55 billion worth of these products in the five-month period, a year-on-year increase of 13.1%. China took the lead with US$3.19 billion, followed by the European Union with US$2.05 billion, the United States with US$1.78 billion and South Korea with US$1.16 billion.

Thus, the country ran a trade deficit of US$7.57 billion for these products in the January-May period.

Phones and phone parts brought the highest export revenue in the first five months of the year, reaching US$19.72 billion.

The export of textiles and garments; machinery, equipment, tools and machine parts; footwear; wood and wooden products; and iron and steel also posted double-digit growth, but the country still had a trade deficit of US$430 million between January and May.

Italian firms seek cooperation opportunities in ASEAN countries

More than 300 businesspeople from Italy’s Piedmont region and member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) gathered at a workshop in Turin city on June 17 and
18 to seek business cooperation opportunities.

President of the Turin Chamber of Commerce Vincenzo Ilotte said the event aimed to set a firm foundation for trade relations between the Piedmont region and the ASEAN market.

The ASEAN is considered a potential market with an increasing number of consumers. The region’s gross domestic product (GDP) is currently estimated at 3 trillion USD, while its population reaches
approximately 650 million.

The bloc is now the fifth biggest economy in the world and third in Asia with an average annual growth rate of over 5 percent. It is estimated that by 2020, the region’s middle class will increase to 400 million
people.

In 2018, trade between Italy and the ASEAN countries was 18.37 billion USD, a year-on-year rise of 2 percent. Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam are the key export markets of Italy in the region.

Experts said Italy has adequate conditions to meet the industry and development requirements of the ASEAN countries.

Furthermore, the free trade agreement (FTA) between the EU and Singapore was signed, while the FTA between the EU and Vietnam will soon be inked and ratified to help deepen trade and economic
relations between Italy and the ASEAN.

Addressing the event, Vietnamese Ambassador to Italy Nguyen Thi Bich Hue highlighted the sound traditional relations between Vietnam and Italy both politically and economically.

Existing bilateral cooperation mechanisms and dialogues have proved to be effective, helping to deepen the strategic partnership between the two nations and making Vietnam one of the largest trade
partners of Italy in the ASEAN.

The cooperation potential between Vietnamese and Italian businesses remains huge thanks to Vietnam’s open policy on investment attraction, increasing purchasing power, rapid growth of the middle class,
and particularly the upcoming signing of the European Union-Vietnam FTA (EVFTA).

While evaluating the Vietnamese market, Fulvio Albano, Chairman of the Italy-Vietnam Chamber of Commerce, said with high growth, young population, and open policies, especially the upcoming signing
and enforcement of the EVFTA, Vietnam is an attractive market for many European businesses and many of them have been present in the Southeast Asian country to conquer its market.

He suggested Italian businesses quickly update information about the Vietnamese market and soon promote investment cooperation to avoid missing opportunities and losing the market share to their
rivals.

 
 
 
 
 
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