BUSINESS NEWS 29/6

Rice exports drop in first months of this year

BUSINESS NEWS 29/6

Export of rice of Vietnam has been facing several disadvantages as countries which previously imported rice from Vietnam now have produced rice themselves and even participated in exporting rice.

Figures by the General Department of Vietnam Customs show that in the first five months of this year, rice exports reached 2.76 million tons, down 6.3 percent over the same period last year, worth US$1.18 billion, down 20.4 percent. The Philippines became the main export market of Vietnamese rice, accounting for 38.6 percent of total rice exports.

According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, except the Philippines, other major rice importing markets, including China, Indonesia and Bangladesh, reduced import of rice in the first half of this year possibly because of high inventory of previous crop in China, election year in Indonesia and production resumption after flooding in Bangladesh.

Six-month forecast by the US Department of Agriculture showed that global rice supply is expected to rise due to increasing rice production, of which, Thailand’s rice production surges 138,000 tons compared to the previous year; India’s soars 2.87 million tons; and Cambodia’s edges up 79,000 tons.

Not only Vietnam but also India and Thailand experienced a slump in export of rice. In the first five months of last year, rice exports of Vietnam to China, Indonesia and Bangladesh hit 1.44 million tons but in the first five months of this year, rice exports to these three markets dropped drastically to 239,000 tons. Rice exports of Thailand to these three markets also fell by 71.6 percent over the same period last year.

Mr. Tran Quoc Khanh, deputy minister of the Ministry of Industry and Trade, said that in recent years, rice importing countries have made changes in policy for rice, such as imposing tax on many rice products, changing rice importing method, allowing more suppliers to participate in government-to-private auctions so as to have a rice supply with more competitive price and higher quality. Rice importing countries also have struggled to improve domestic rice production capacity, aiming for food sovereignty. Meanwhile, rice producing countries have taken advantages of natural conditions to focus on growing high-quality and well-known rice varieties.

Countries like Myanmar, Cambodia and Pakistan all put great efforts in increasing the amount of rice for exporting. China has also become one of the largest rice exporters in the world.

These movements have made global rice supply and inventory at rice exporting countries increase and change significantly the supply-demand relationship in the way that the market belongs to buyers.

According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, amid this context, the management of export of rice should ensure the balance between export and domestic consumption, stabilize domestic rice prices, especially amid the context the prices of various essential consumer goods climbed.

During the first months of this year, it is recorded a shift in market mechanism and rice export structure as well as efforts to find and expand new and potential export market of Vietnamese rice traders. Although facing difficulties in Asia and Oceania, Vietnamese firms have promoted export of fragrant rice to Africa, Europe and America.

China slashes Vietnamese rice imports

Vietnam’s rice exports to China have nosedived as the northern neighboring country, due to its soaring stockpile, has imposed stricter trade barriers against farm produce, according to a news report on Nguoi Lao Dong Online site.

According to a Ministry of Industry and Trade report, Vietnam shipped more than 223,000 tons of rice to China in the first five months of 2019, tumbling nearly 74% compared with the same period last year. China used to be Vietnam’s largest rice importer, accounting for 40% of Vietnam's total rice exports, but it now ranks third after the Philippines and Malaysia, representing only 8.1% of the total.

Speaking at a conference held today, June 24, to review January-June rice exports, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Quoc Khanh said that local exporters have faced many difficulties this year as major traditional markets such as China, Indonesia and Bangladesh have slashed imports. Between January and May, the three markets imported a combined 239,000 tons of rice from Vietnam, down over 83% year-on-year.

However, Vietnamese exporters have been exploring new markets for the staple food. As a result, the nation’s rice export volume hit 2.76 million tons, down just 6.3% year-on-year, whereas Thailand reported a 16% decrease.

Khanh predicted further challenges for local firms in the coming days. For 2019, the Chinese government has granted a rice import quota of 5.32 million tons, but the actual volume might be as low as 3.5 million tons, one million tons lower than last year.

China’s customs statistics showed that rice imports reached 850,000 tons in the first four months of 2019, down 24.4% year-on-year. Meanwhile, its export volume soared 112.4% to nearly 830,000 tons in the period.

Bui Thi Thanh Tam, vice chairwoman of the Vietnam Food Association, said that major rice exporters such as Thailand and Indonesia have considered China a new rival. The nation is forecast to become the fifth largest exporter in the world after offloading its stockpile.

To address China’s stricter regulations on farm produce, Deputy Minister Khanh told local enterprises to embrace healthy business practices and maintain good trading relationships with Chinese importers.

Vietnam sees trade surplus in mid-June

Vietnam posted a trade surplus of some US$500 million in the first half of June, the local media reported.

The nation fetched some US$10.2 billion from exports, mainly of phones and phone parts, computers, electronic products and apparel, in the first two weeks of June, taking the total in the year to June 15 to over US$111.2 billion, according to statistics from the General Department of Vietnam Customs.

Meanwhile, the country spent US$9.7 billion on imports during the first 15 days of this month, pushing the import bill in the year to June 15 to US$111.1 billion.

Mobile phones and phone components became the largest export earner in the first half of June, with export revenue reaching US$1.71 billion. Computers, electronics and parts came second with over US$1.4 billion in revenue, followed by apparel with around US$1.4 billion.

Statistics also show that computers, electronic products and their parts made up the largest proportion at US$1.9 billion of the total import value in the first half of June. Machinery, equipment, tools and machine parts ranked second with some US$1.4 billion.

Condotel legal framework takes center stage at forum

Officials, experts and firms at a real estate forum last week underscored the need to issue clear regulations on the condotel segment, VnEconomy news site reported.

Nguyen Tran Nam, chairman of the Vietnam Real Estate Association (VNREA), said that resort properties are drawing significant attention from investors, but in recent years, many problems, especially with the legality of condotels, have affected the real estate market.

Nam said that multiple bottlenecks are clouding the condotel segment, including the issuance of long-term land use right certificates, the maximum duration of land allocation to businesses being fixed at only 50 years and the murky functionalities of condotels in terms of living and business.

Besides this, it is vital to remove some regulations on condotel transfer and trading activities, future products, guarantees for buyers and lessors and sales of condotels to foreigners in the condotel segment.

However, many enterprises operating resorts and tourism properties, including condotels, have not been able to apply for permanent condotel land use right certificates, Nam said.

Nam backed the opinion of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, saying that if it is used as a business product, its owner should be granted fixed-term land right use certificates, but if it is a housing product, it could be given a permanent land use certificate so that the owners’ rights can be protected.

Also Nam pointed out that the ownership of condotels has been discussed by enterprises over the past few years, and VNREA has repeatedly proposed issuing a resolution and detailed guidance for the condotel segment in late 2019.

Meanwhile, Professor Dang Hung Vo, former Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, said that the owners of resort properties need long-term land use, which would attract secondary investors.

Private investors would be willing to invest in resort properties if they can get long-term land use right certificates, Vo said, adding that they would be hesitant if the maximum duration of land allocation for condotels is capped at only 50 years under the prevailing rules.

The priority is to complete the legal framework to manage and develop multifunctional properties, Vo said. It is necessary to add some regulations on governance methods for multifunctional property products to the laws on Land, Real Estate and Housing, he added.

In addition, Vo proposed allowing investors in real estate projects involved in tourism business operations to select the terms of land use rights and pay fees for those rights.

Do Huy Hoang from the Real Estate Market and Housing Management Agency pointed out that the prime minister has issued Directive 11, rolling out some solutions to improve the development of the property market and asking the Ministry of Construction to supplement requirements and standards for the construction of apartment buildings, condotels, resort villas and officetels.

The Ministry of Construction is working on draft amendments to some regulations in Circular 02 on managing the use of apartments and trading condotels and officetels. The amended circular is expected to be released in late 2019.

Resort real estate a bright spot

The resort real estate segment is forecast to be a bright spot in Vietnam’s real estate market this year, with great potential in attracting investment capital, the “Real Estate Investment Forum 2019: Risks and Opportunities” held on June 22 heard.

Mr. Vo Tan Thanh, Vice Chairman of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), said that the resort segment, especially the condotel segment, has been targeted by many domestic and foreign investors this year. “The potential for developing the segment is still significant due to Vietnam’s high economic growth and its attractive natural landscapes,” he added. “However, the development of the real estate market poses many risks. Databases and information on the market, from planning, selecting investors, and implementing projects to transactions are not synchronous and lack transparency.”

Mr. Nguyen Tran Nam, Chairman of the Vietnam Real Estate Association (VNREA), told the forum that Vietnam’s legal framework still lags behind the development of resort real estate. “Investors expect legal regulations will be completed soon,” he said. “It is also necessary to recognize resort real estate as a product that can be purchased, sold, inherited, and transferred conveniently, especially in the context of Vietnam’s tourism growth fluctuating from 15 to 20 per cent per year.”

Meanwhile, Professor Dang Hung Vo, former Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, said a solution is to add provisions to the Land Law, the Housing Law, and the Real Estate Business Law on the management method for multi-functional properties like condotels.

Mr. Do Huy Hoang from the Housing and Real Estate Market Management Agency at the Ministry of Construction, said the Prime Minister has issued Directive No. 11/CT-TTg on a number of measures to promote the stable and healthy development of the real estate market, in which the ministry is required to supplement construction standards for types of apartments, condotels, tourist villas, and officetels.

According to analysts, investors must also be professional regarding their resort products in order for the market to develop in the right direction.

Ms. Tran Thi My Loc, Deputy General Director of the Vinhomes JSC, said resort real estate is not just constructing a building like a house. “In housing project investment, we only complete the project and put it into use and provide management,” she said. “In resort real estate, construction is just the initial stage of the investment process, with a long way ahead to bringing profitability to buyers.”

China eyes stronger agricultural cooperation with Can Tho

China wants to step up agricultural cooperation with the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho, especially for major farm produce like rice and fruits, in order to raise the efficiency of the rural economy, Chinese Consul General in Ho Chi Minh City Wu Jun said on June 24.

China also hopes to share experience and scientific-technological applications in farming with the locality, while joining hands in the control of food safety and hygiene, and diseases in the husbandry sector, the official said at a working session with municipal leaders.

The Chinese side stands ready to transfer high technologies in agricultural production, processing and distribution to Can Tho, and organise training courses for local agricultural officials, farmers and faming households with the participation of Chinese experts, he said.

Wu Jun noted that the Chinese authorities will encourage and create conditions for big Chinese agricultural businesses to study the investment environment in Can Tho, helping to increase direct investments in the city and its adjacent localities.

China has considered Can Tho, which has been seen as an economic driver of the Mekong Delta region, a fertile land for investors, he added.

The official also highlighted China’s wish to enhance partnerships in education-training, culture and tourism with Can Tho.

Truong Quang Hoai Nam, Vice Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee, agreed with Wu Jun’s proposals, stressing that cooperation with China is one of the key tasks set in investment attraction and sustainable economic development strategies of Can Tho and the Mekong Delta in general.

The official expressed his hope that the Chinese Consulate General will assist Can Tho in organising regular meetings with Chinese investors and businesses to create more opportunities for the city to promote its potential, strength and cooperation demand with partners.

Can Tho will make all-out efforts to improve the investment environment and reform administrative procedures at all levels, making it easier for Chinese firms to operate in the locality, he said.

On this occasion, the Chinese Consulate General and the Chinese Business Association in Vietnam presented Can Tho with 550 million VND (23,650 USD) to build houses for those in difficult circumstances.

Dinh Vu Polyester Fibre Plant sees good signals after resuming operation

The Dinh Vu Polyester Fibre Plant of the Petrochemical and Textile Fiber Joint Stock Company (PVTEX) – a subsidiary company of the Vietnam Oil and Gas Group (PetroVietnam) - has to date resumed operation of 12 out of its 25 production lines so far.

The fibre plant is one of the 12 loss-making projects under the management of the Ministry of Industry and Trade. Its re-opening is in line with the Government’s directive to tackle shortcomings and weaknesses of some inefficient projects and enterprises.

According to PVTEX Chairman and General Director Dao Van Ngoc, the plant has earned 50.55 billion VND (2.17 million USD) from selling more than 1,300 tonnes of yarn since its operation was resumed on April 20, 2018..

Particularly, its draw texturised yarn (DTY) has been qualified to enter the markets of the US, the Republic of Korea, Thailand, and some European countries, while AnPoly yarn has won the favour of both domestic market and many other choosy countries.

At a working session with PetroVietnam leaders on June 24, a representative from An Phat Holdings, a partner of PVTEX, said that around 200 billion VND has been invested to restart operation of the 12 production lines.

An Phat also arranged more than 400 billion VND for the re-operation of all production lines at Dinh Vu plant.

Earlier, the plant halted operations in September 2015 owing to a huge loss of 1.26 trillion VND and negative equity of 504 billion VND.

It was scheduled to restart in 2016 but failed to do so. Authorities would have considered bankruptcy if the equitisation of the enterprise had been unsuccessful.

PVTEX and An Phat Holdings signed a memorandum of cooperation on producing and trading Dinh Vu polyester fibre in April last year.

Can Tho, New Zealand step up agricultural cooperation

New Zealand investors want to develop strategic relations with Can Tho city - an economic hub in the Mekong Delta region that has produced a wide range of high-quality agricultural products, said New Zealand Ambassador to Vietnam Wendy Matthews.

At a working session with the city People’s Committee on June 24, the New Zealand diplomat recommended Can Tho to cooperate with the New Zealand Institute of Agriculture and Horticultural Science Inc (NZIAHS) to remove bottlenecks in the city’s agricultural development, given local exports have been hampered by poor post-harvest technologies.

She said that the NZIAHS, a prestigious research centre, will send agricultural experts to Can Tho city, helping it figure out possible measures in food safety, climate change response, improvement of soil quality, market connectivity, promotion of forestry product value, and better aquaculture.

The centre will support the city to develop high-tech agriculture while encouraging the private sector’s engagement to create more opportunities for the impoverished in both rural and urban areas to get access to advanced farming techniques.

She hoped that Can Tho city and the NZIAHS will find out new incentives for the local agricultural development like improving quality of farm produce, protecting land resources, and ensuring food safety and hygiene.

Also, she suggested the local authority work with the New Zealand Embassy to carry out programmes connecting agricultural businesses and farmers in Can Tho with New Zealand and other foreign partners, explaining this as a good chance for local firms to use the world’s advanced technologies in increasing competitive edge for local staples.

 

Particularly, she advised the city to build policies to lure investors who exercise their corporate responsibility for sustainable development through improving infrastructure facilities, and local human resources, among others.

She took the occasion to invite Can Tho city to attend Fieldays, the largest agribusiness event in New Zealand, saying it will help the locality introduce its farm produce while exchanging information about modern technologies and machines in cultivation.

For his part, Chairman of the city People’s Committee Le Quang Manh committed to bettering the business climate, as well as facilitating New Zealand investment in the locality.

He wished that the New Zealand Embassy will help connect the city with New Zealand partners, and create opportunities for the city to introduce its potential and strengths to the investors, thus making the city become a gateway for New Zealand to enhance shipments to the Mekong Delta.

Gulf Group launches two solar projects in Vietnam

The solar power plants of Gulf Group will contribute to catching up with the trend of environmental protection, developing green and clean energy sources globally, while simultaneously dealing with the concerns of the domestic energy segment as coal, petroleum and hydropower resources have been fully exploited for a long time.

On June 19, 2019, Gulf Group held the inauguration ceremony of TTC No.01 and TTC No.02 solar power plants in Thanh Thanh Cong Industrial Zone, An Hoa commune, Trang Bang district, Tay Ninh province, 57.1 kilometres from Tay Ninh city and 48.3km from Ho Chi Minh City.

TTC Solar Power Project No.01 was built on an area of ​​69.5 hectares, of which the area for installing solar PV panels is 42.53ha, having a capacity of 68.8MWp. The project officially started the construction of ground leveling on May 25, 2018 with the total investment of approximately $65 million. Due to effective support from the management, staff, and contractors, after only 10 months of construction the project was put into operation on March 6, 2019.

The plant provides the national electricity system with an electricity output of about 106 million kWh per year, meeting the energy demand of about 87,347 households and reducing CO2 emissions by about 85.45 tonnes per year by the installation of 208,500 solar panels, each with a capacity of 330W.

Next to it, TTC solar power project No.02 was built on an area of 50.06ha, of which the area for PV panels is 39.22ha generating 50 MWp in capacity. The project officially started the construction of ground leveling on August 10, 2018 with the total investment of approximately $50 million.

After only eight months of continuous work, the project was put into commercial operation on April 19, 2019. The plant provides the national grid with an output of about 78 million kWh per year, meeting the electricity demand of about 63,669 households and reducing CO2 emissions by 62.29 tonnes per year. The project has 151,500 installed solar panels, each with a capacity of 330W.

In order to successfully complete the projects, Gulf Group has selected competent and highly experienced contractors in the field of renewable energy. Specifically, JGC Vietnam Co., Ltd. was selected as the EPC contractor, while Artelia Vietnam Co., Ltd. and Thanh Thanh Cong Investment JSC were the construction supervision consultants. TTC No.1 has an additional contractor for the construction of a 110kV transmission line, Hoang Viet Hung Co., Ltd.

At the ceremony, Sarath Ratanavadi, director and CEO of Gulf Energy Development Pcl., stated, "Gulf expects to contribute, to engage in environmental protection, climate change, energy conservation, and construct green energy sources – especially in Vietnam. The company wants to maintain continuous growth in Vietnam because the country is one of the fastest-growing economies in Asia and the demand for energy is forecasted to increase at a high rate.”

“The company always focuses on developing synchronous forms of energy, especially renewable and environmentally friendly energy sources, thereby improving the value chain of production and business activities, and strengthening national energy security. Therefore, the official inauguration of these two projects will contribute to minimising negative impacts to the fullest extent possible,” Sarath Ratanavadi said.

The representative also said, "Gulf Group is pleased to be a joint venture partner to deploy these two solar power plants in Vietnam. As a co-investor, Gulf undertakes technical site monitoring and solar project management. There are Gulf’s staff rotated from the headquarters in Thailand to work full-time in Vietnam in order to maintain constant workflow and ensure the standard of quality control during the construction and operation phases.”

Gulf Energy Development Pcl. is a holding company with a portfolio of electricity, steam, and chilled water generating projects, and other related businesses. Moreover, Gulf also provides management services to power projects within the group from the development and construction stage to the management stage after the commencement of commercial operation.

Gulf is working towards providing energy efficiency solutions and developing energy resources of the future, including biofuels and other renewables.

Gulf is currently one of Thailand’s largest private power producers, and is expanding internationally. Gulf has 21 power projects in operation, including two gas-fired IPPs, 15 gas-fired SPPs (Cogen), and four rooftop solar VSPPs, and has seven power projects under construction and development, including two gas-fired IPPs, four gas-fired SPPs (Cogen), and one biomass SPP in Thailand.

Apart from the two aforementioned solar projects with TTC, Gulf has other overseas projects including three projects under construction and development (one captive power plant in Oman, one solar, and one off-shore wind project also in Vietnam).

As of December 31, 2018, the total installed capacity of the group’s power projects – including those that have achieved commercial operation and those under development scheduled for completion by 2024 – is 11,910.4MW, with an equity installed capacity of 6,877.8MW.

In the signed agreement, Gulf Group are planning to develop another wind power project (310 MW) and another solar power project (30 MW) with TTC Group in Ben Tre province (Vietnam).

Thus, by opening the TTC No.01 and TTC No.02 Solar Power Plants, Gulf Group expects to generate jobs for local workers, thereby enhancing electricity supply security, continuing to contribute to the green and clean energy campaign which is being strongly responded to by countries all over the world.

Opportunities for tra fish to enter Chinese market

As one of the popular products in the Chinese market, tra fish (pangasius) have huge potential for being exported to the neighbouring country in 2019 and in coming years.

Song Tien Seafood Company has exported their products to many countries around the world, including China, but mainly through unofficial channels. The company has focused on improving the quality of products, while negotiating with partners to sign official contracts to avoid price pressures and actively set long-term production plans.

Recently, China and Vietnam have boosted negotiations towards China’s approval of tax exemptions for 33 seafood products exported through Ha Khau border gate in Lao Cai province, including tra fish and catfish. This development will create a great competitive advantage for Vietnamese tra fish exporters.

According to Truong Dinh Hoe, Secretary General of the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), there are now over 150 Vietnamese enterprises exporting seafood to China, including around 45 tra fish exporters. China has loosened its import policies, which will create more opportunities for tra fish products to enter the most populous market in the world.

Vietnamese tra fish products have been relatively favoured by Chinese consumers. Their demand for imported seafood has gradually increased. They are also willing to pay for the products accepted by the US and European markets. Especially, since being exported to the US, the consumption of Vietnam’s tra fish in China has been increased. In addition, high-end customers have imported high-quality fillet basa fish from the US. However, since the US-China trade war broke out, Chinese businesses have tended to import more tra fish from Vietnam as an alternative sources.

Besides, most of seafood enterprises in the southern region have moved from overland transport to sea. The official exports by sea will help enterprises limit payment risks, improve the products’ quality and save costs.

VASEP’s Secretary General Truong Dinh Hoe noted that the export turnover of tra fish to China reached around US$500 million in 2018 and China continued to be the largest import market of Vietnamese tra fish in the first months of this year. The export value of this kind of fish to the neighbouring country in 2019 is forecasted to increase around 10%-15% compared to the previous year, he added.

Many people think that China is an easy market. In fact, with an increase of middle class people, China is a developing market that pays much attention to food safety and hygiene.

In addition, with the acceptance of tax reduction, Chinese agencies have also imposed more strict requirements on the quality, origin traceability and packaging. Vietnam’s agricultural products are also subject to intense competition in terms of quality, price, brand and distribution form from the countries with similar agricultural products for consumption in Chinese market.

VASEP’s leader Hoe said that the price of exported tra fish of Vietnam is quite reasonable, so it is crucial to ensure the products’ quality. “Enterprises need to raise the export volume through official channels to China. To do this, quality is the leading factor”, he noted.

Many businesses said that China is tightening the inspection of food safety and trade through unofficial channels, which will promote enterprises to strictly comply with food hygiene and safety standards to increase exports in the coming time. 

'Kingdom of Caves' sees boom in foreign visitors

Central Quang Binh province welcomed nearly 2.5 million visitors in the first six months of this year, including 133,000 foreigners, for growth of 20 per cent and 31 per cent, respectively, against the same period last year, according to the local Department of Tourism.

The province, known as the "Kingdom of Caves", also witnessed a sharp increase in the number of visitors last year, to 3.9 million, including 200,000 foreigners, for a year-on-year rise of 18.2 per cent and 53 per cent, respectively.

Growth in foreign visitors was the result of active tourism marketing and promotion among different tourist segments in the country and abroad, according to the department.

Several outstanding programs have been implemented, such as the first promotion program on Quang Binh in Hollywood, with Jordan Vogt-Roberts, the director of the 2017 blockbuster “Kong: Skull Island”, sharing his experience of filming in Quang Binh, as well as joining in the annual New York Times Travel Show and offering cave experts with trips to discover Son Doong, the world’s largest cave, other caves, and the ecological network in Phong Nha - Ke Bang National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Travel operators in the province have also invested and diversified their tourism products as well as improved service quality. Together with classic tours to popular caves, new packages have been introduced such as discovering new caves, river tours, culture and history products, and community-based experiences.

In the next six months, it expects to welcome more tourists to the annual cave festival in July and from promotion events in South Korea and on Google and YouTube. It targets putting Phong Nha - Ke Bang National Park and Son Doong Cave among Vietnam’s tourism symbols, together with Ha Long Bay.

The department targets welcoming 4.3 million visitors this year, with some 250,000-300,000 foreigners, and to earn total revenue of about VND5 trillion ($215 million).

Phong Nha - Ke Bang National Park has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO twice - once in July 2003 and another in July 2015 - thanks to its impressive scenery and archeological value. Son Doong Cave was recognized in 2016 as the largest in the world by three international organizations: the UK-based Guinness World Records, the Hong Kong-based World Record Association, and the US and India-based World Kings.

Capital city draws US$ 5.3 billion in FDI in first half

The capital city is striving to attract over US$500 million in foreign direct investment (FDI) in June 2019, raising the total FDI capital to nearly US$5.3 billion in the first six months of this year.

Director of the municipal Department of Planning and Investment Nguyen Manh Quyen said the capital city of Ha Noi attracted US$4.79 million in foreign direct investment (FDI) in the first five months of 2019. Ha Noi has been pushing ahead with administrative reforms and improvement of the investment environment, as well as taking measures to ease difficulties for businesses, especially administrative procedures, he said.

Mr Quyen added that the State budget will be prioritized for technical infrastructure projects and those playing key role in promoting socio-economic development.

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

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

According to the municipal People’s Committee, the capital city will reform its policies to lure large-scale investment projects with increased added values and using environmentally-friendly technologies.

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

Fake books available for sale on Lazada, Shopee, Sendo

A company ordered 128 times on such e-commerce platforms as Lazada, Shopee, Sendo to buy some books, and finally all of these orders are fake books.

Last week, First News Co., Ltd. announced that Shopee, Lazada, and Sendo are abetting the consumption of fake and pirated books violating the law. The company said that an uncountable number of fake books were displayed for sale online.

"Fake books look like real books, only people working in this sector could distinguish them from each other by the cover. However, the spelling and grammar of fake books is just horrible. Books on health and medicine especially carry a risk of damaging people's health," First News' representative said.

This company's representative said that they had detected fake books displayed on e-commerce platforms a long time ago. First News has reported to the platforms many times, but saw little interest in return.

First News made orders 128 times on e-commerce platforms like Lazada, Shopee, and Sendo to buy some books, all of which turned out to be fake books.

Nguyen Van Phuoc, director of First News, said that after entering e-commerce websites, customers are always shown products with the highest discount or those suggested based on their interests, which makes them fertile grounds for selling fake books. "We offer around 1,000 different books, but we cannot compete with 3,000 fake titles," he said.

Discussing with local media, Tran Huu Linh, general director of the Vietnam Directorate of Market Surveillance (under the Ministry of Industry and Trade), said that legal provisions are clear on the responsibilities of e-commerce platforms when it comes to fake or pirated goods on their websites. Accordingly, e-commerce platforms have to remove all illegal products and ban the accounts of vendors.

Meanwhile, the market surveillance authority will strengthen collaboration with other authorities to detect, seize, and deal with pirated books.

Turning challenges of trade war into opportunities for CLMVT countries

In the context of the US-China trade war, Vietnam is considered the greatest beneficiary as numerous mega-corporations are moving production bases from China to avoid tariffs, confirmed speakers at CLMVT Forum 2019.

In the framework of the two-day CLMVT Forum 2019 taking place in Bangkok, Thailand, the evening dinner on June 23, 2019 highlighted a conversation on the US-China trade war and what it means for the ASEAN, in which distinguished speakers shared their views on the regional and global effects of the trade tensions and offered suggestions on how to turn challenges into opportunities.

At the welcome dinner, a visionary speech titled "Are the US and China doomed to enmity?" was made by Professor Kishore Mahbubani, senior advisor and public policy professor at National University of Singapore.

The Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam, and Thailand (CLMVT) region has shown remarkable growth amid the global recession and geopolitical instability. Between 2013-2017, the region has shown an impressive compound annual GDP growth rate of 4.25 per cent. In the same period, the CLMVT region's external trade also expanded at a compound annual average of 4.8 per cent.

"We have accomplished many significant milestones in the last decade and I have every reason to believe that we will continue rising above any challenges coming our way," said Chutima Bunyapraphasara, Deputy Minister of Commerce and Acting Thai Minister of Commerce, the presider of the welcome dinner.

According to Bunyapraphasara, since the US and China have renewed their efforts, what is known as the trade war has expanded to the technological sector. When tension arises between two global powers, a ripple effect reaches the rest of the world. An escalating trade war can lead to an economic crisis that will stall progress everywhere in the world.

The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) warned about the prospects of slowing economic growth as a result of trade disputes. The IMF predicts that the tariffs placed by the United States and China on each other's imports could reduce global gross domestic product by 0.5 per cent or $455 billion next year.

"Yet we know there are some advantages to be gained during this power struggle. Strategic CLMVT products such as food and agricultural products can possibly gain a market share in the US and China as a result of their retaliatory tariffs. However, as exporting countries and production bases, the CLMVT region performs best when global trade is dynamic and expanding," Bunyapraphasara said.

"We need to be looking into becoming an integral part of the global value chain and diversifying our markets and products, combining our advantages such as strategic locations and capable workforce with innovation and technologies," she added.

The conversation on "Trade war: What it means for ASEAN" meanwhile, saw active participation of top minds from Thailand and the ASEAN, namely Lee Chen Chen, director of Policy Programmes, Singapore Institute of International Affairs; Somprawin Manprasert, executive vice president, chief economist, and head of the Research Division of the Bank of Ayudhya PCL; and Montri Mahaplerkpong, vice chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries, with Pimchanok Vonkorpon, director general of the Trade Policy and Strategy Office under the Thai Ministry of Commerce.

Vonkorpon said that the study by regional analysts shows that trade war has helped more then triple investment capital to the ASEAN or over $500 billion.

"Since the beginning of the trade dispute, many mega-corporations have already moved their production bases from China to Vietnam in order to avoid tariffs. China has also recognised the ASEAN as its strategic destination for trade and investment. This year, more than 4,000 Chinese companies have already shifted their production grounds to Southeast Asia creating jobs for more than 300,000 people," she added.

"From Thailand's perspective, the export share of Thai products in CLMVT countries is comparable to that of Thai exports to the US, and we are enjoying the upward trend. CLMVT is therefore very significant in regional growth and risk diversification. The CLMVT should take advantage of production base shift through two main approaches – one being the transformation of family-owned businesses into corporate organisations with a focus on the application of technology and management expertise. The other approach is to develop the connectivity of digital platforms to capture the remarkable growth of e-commerce and the consistent growth of middle-class consumers in the CLMVT. Business enterprises have to be equipped with digital knowledge in order to embark on e-commerce business," said Vonkorpon.

The CLMVT Forum is a gathering of the region's top minds from the government, the private sector, and academic circle to meet, discuss, and formulate guidelines on economic prosperity and the sustainable future development of the region. Being the third of its kind, CLMVT Forum 2019 is held at Renaissance Hotel Bangkok Ratchraprasong under the theme "CLMVT as the new value chain hub of Asia". It is attended by over 500 participants.

"Participants to the CLMVT Forum 2019 will greatly benefit from business ideas, innovative policy solutions, and life-long partnerships formed from here. During a time of change, co-operation is most important. The CLMVT region has strong potential to become a centre of the global value chain, and through our unified efforts, I believe the future is near," Bunyapraphasara concluded.

 
 
 
 
 
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