BUSINESS NEWS 29/7

Viet Nam seeks foreign investment in ports

BUSINESS NEWS 29/7


Viet Nam is encouraging investors from all around the world to develop its ports, according to the Viet Nam Maritime Administration.

The country’s ports system has attracted enormous investment, helping increase cargo capacity from just 3.4 million tonnes in 1995 to 165.7 million tonnes in 2017.

But an estimated VND80-100 trillion (US$3.43-4.3 billion) - more is required, including half for port infrastructure.

Trinh The Cuong, director of the administration’s Shipping and Maritime Services said: “This is a very big amount. So we mobilise from all sources.”

Public funding is focused on public infrastructure that connects key ports and regional hubs.

“This means, with our limited budget, the Government of Viet Nam encourages port operators and shipping operators from all around the world to come and invest in ports, with a focus on public-private partnerships for new large ports,” he explained.

Nguyen Ngoc Hue, president of the Viet Nam Association of Ports-Waterways-Offshore Engineering, said marine transport played a very important role in Viet Nam’s economy.

“Marine transport just accounts for 5.2 per cent of domestic cargo share, but more than 92 per cent of import-export.”

The volume of goods transported through ports had increased by 10.9 per cent annually on average, he said.

Le Quang Trung, vice president of the Viet Nam Maritime Corporation, said: “Viet Nam is the fastest growing container market in Southeast Asia with an annual compounded growth rate of 14.4 per cent between 2000 and 2017.

“Total container volumes at Viet Nam’s ports reached 11.5 million TEU in 2018.

“Ports in the south of the country accounted for 62 per cent of the container volume handled in the country in 2017, while the north had a 34 per cent share.”

Hue said cargo transported through ports is forecast to keep rising sharply from 442 million tonnes in 2017 to 640-680 million tonnes in 2020 and 1.04-1.16 billion tonnes in 2030.

Concurring with Hue, Cuong said Viet Nam’s rapidly growing trade and production had caused the volume of cargo passing through its seaports to surge, making port projects appealing to foreign investors.

“Many shipping lines from many countries want to invest in Viet Nam’s ports.”

Marine development strategy

The Viet Nam Marine Strategy for until 2020 seeks to create a strong nation at sea and to get rich from the sea.

The country seeks to modernize sea transport, improving its quality, making it affordable and safe, reducing pollution and energy use, and integrating with the shipping market in the region and the world.

The country will also “upgrade, invest deeply and bring into full play the capacity and efficiency of existing ports, focusing on building international transhipment ports and international gateway ports in key economic regions and deep-water ports specialising in handling containers, coal and coal oil, modern equipment.”

Currently the country has 31 ports with a capacity to handle 550 million tonnes of cargo a year.

The major ports include Hai Phong, Lach Huyen, Da Nang, Cai Mep-Thi Vai, and Cat Lai.

Private firms need more support from state management agencies: VCCI

Domestic businesses, especially small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) need further support from state management agencies to better compete in the context of deep global integration, said Chairman of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) Vu Tien Loc.

Loc said up to 67,000 new businesses were established and 21,600 companies resumed operations in the first six months of the year, stressing that the figures were upbeat signs in the economic development in the period.

Although several new-generation free trade agreements like the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) have pushed domestic institutional reforms in the past time, many businesses said the progress still lags behind expectations, and overlapping of and even conflicts in regulations and jurisdiction of state management agencies, and different laws such as the Investment Law, Land Law, Construction Law and Environment Law has hampered their operations, he said.

Loc affirmed “transparency” is the best measure to protect SMEs and micro enterprises, and firms with less competitive advantages.

Meanwhile, Director of the Central Institute for Economic Management (CIEM) Nguyen Dinh Cung said the management capacity of Vietnamese firms is not as good as that of companies in other ASEAN countries.

The World Economic Forum ranked Vietnam at the bottom in the corporate governance index of listed companies in six ASEAN member states. Meanwhile, the competitive capacity of Vietnamese firms was placed 104th among 140 economies in the region. This means, the Vietnamese business community needs more assistance to improve their competitive edges, thus better integrating into the global economy, he stressed.

As the CPTPP, EVFTA and many other free trade agreements offer good opportunities for Vietnam to open door wider to international trade, VCCI will help local firms take full advantage of the pacts, Loc said.

According to Loc, VCCI will continue national programmes on supporting businesses to enhance capacity to compete, integrate into the global economy, and develop sustainably.
Besides, it will accelerate the implementation of bilateral cooperation agreements in trade and commerce with strategic partners, while improving the quality of business forums with key markets.

Thailand injects US$10.5 billion into Vietnam

Thailand, one of Vietnam’s main trade partners, has registered a total of over US$10.5 billion for investment in the country.

Speaking at the opening ceremony for “Thailand Week 2019 in Ben Tre” on July 19, Le Van Khe, director of the Ben Tre Department of Industry and Trade, noted that the bilateral economic, trade and investment relations between Vietnam and Thailand have gradually brought in positive results.

Of the total pledged capital, some US$194.4 million has been assigned to eight projects in the Mekong Delta province of Ben Tre. As of June, investment from Thai firms accounted for 18% of Ben Tre Province’s total foreign investment.

Addressing the event, Thai Consul General in HCMC Apirat Sugondhabhirom pointed out that as of early 2019, Thailand had invested some US$1.7 billion in 77 projects in the Mekong Delta region, with Ben Tre Province in fourth place for investment from Thai firms.

Apart from the investment aspect, where Thailand is one of Vietnam’s largest investors, Vietnam is also Thailand’s second largest trade partner in the ASEAN region, after Malaysia, Khe stated.

“In 2018, bilateral trade value amounted to US$17.5 billion, up 13.4% against the figure seen in 2017,” he said.

Discussing “Thailand Week 2019 in Ben Tre,” Suparporn Sookmark, director of the Thai Trade Center in HCMC, said that the event features 116 booths of 79 firms showcasing a variety of products from multiple fields, such as fashion, healthcare, beauty, food, beverage, household appliances and kitchen equipment.

The event is expected to wrap up on July 21, she noted, adding that this is the first time the event has been organized in the province.

HCMC calls for more progress on second metro line

The HCMC government is stepping up calls for the relevant units to deploy the VND48 trillion Ben Thanh-Tham Luong metro line project, the city’s second urban railway, which has been in the making for some 10 years.

The HCMC government office on July 19 announced the conclusions of HCMC Vice Chairman Vo Van Hoan on the compensation, support and resettlement issues of the second metro line in the city, Thanh Nien newspaper reported.

Hoan told the municipal Department of Planning and Investment to direct the governments of districts 1, 3, 10, 12, Tan Binh and Tan Phu to report on the supervision and adjustment assessments of investment plans for compensation projects.

He also assigned the authorities of these districts to draw up a plan for compensation, support and resettlement. Besides this, these district governments were asked to report problems beyond their authority to the HCMC government.

The move was aimed at speeding up the second metro line project.

The Ben Thanh-Tham Luong metro line was rolled out in 2010, with an initial approved investment of some US$1.3 billion. The project was slated for completion in 2020. However, the project has fallen far behind schedule. Work on a control building and auxiliary works at Tham Luong Station has just started.

Due to the construction of the second metro line moving at a snail’s pace, the lenders, including the Asian Development Bank (ADB), German KfW Development Bank and the European Investment Bank (EIB), recalculated the total investment for the project, with the new amount reaching some US$2.1 billion, or VND48 trillion.

The HCMC government had earlier proposed the prime minister approve the capital hike for the metro line project, estimated at up to US$2.17 billion, up US$800 million against the initial figure. The municipal government also proposed the prime minister allow the project to extend the deadline to 2024.

The capital increase was attributed to basic design adjustments, according to the HCMC government.

Six firms under probe for origins of wood exports

The Department of Investigation and Anti-Smuggling under the General Department of Vietnam Customs is collaborating with relevant agencies to investigate violations of rules of origin and suspicious business operations by six domestic wood processors, sources said.

The department, on July 19, said that it and other agencies began a probe into wood production and export operations of the six firms, as their wood volume for export has soared abnormally, the local media reported.

The firms under investigation have headquarters in Hanoi City, Hung Yen, Nam Dinh, Lang Son and Phu Tho provinces.

A representative of the Department of Investigation and Anti-Smuggling said that within a short time, these firms produced and shipped very large volumes of plywood and laminated wood, valued at hundreds of billions of Vietnamese dong.

From the beginning of 2018 to late March, VT Trading Company, located in Hanoi City, exported over 27,000 cubic meters of plywood products and sheets of plywood worth more than VND405 billion, whereas AA JSC in the northern province of Nam Dinh produced and sold 5,700 cubic meters of wood products to VT Company for export through March this year.

The customs agency had earlier found the six firms to have been involved in frauds related to certificates of origin (C/O).

Vu Quang Toan, head of the Northern Region's Anti-Smuggling Control Team under the department, said these firms have admitted that they had not bought wood materials from timber farming households, as written in contracts, but had used fake contracts that falsified material sales and purchases. They further admitted that their land use right certificates used for application for C/O were also falsified.

Some enterprises imported veneers from China to produce plywood for export, but failed to declare in the documents of application for C/O, Toan said.

Besides this, the department found signs of improper management of the confirmation of forest product dossiers. The governments of some communes failed to check documents and had not launched on-site inspections of the exploitation of forest products before approving dossiers of forest products, according to Toan.

Toan added that timber farmland lots on the lists of forest products on many dossiers of forest products were found to have been falsified.

Apparel orders from importers plunge 30%: VITAS

Many local textile and garment firms saw orders from importers falling by 30% in the first half of the year, said Truong Van Cam, general secretary of the Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association (VITAS).

At a press briefing on July 19, Cam said low numbers of orders were reported by many firms, even large ones, which is contrary to experts’ earlier predictions.

Many experts had forecast that the United States-China trade war would help shift orders from China to Vietnam. In addition, Vietnam has participated in multiple new-generation free trade agreements, such as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), which are highly expected to help boost local exports.

“I am also astonished at the situation,” Cam said.

Explaining the situation, Cam said apparel importers may place orders in other countries with better contract terms while the hoped-for benefits from free trade agreements with Vietnam remain unclear.

According to VISTA’s statistics, Vietnam exported US$17.97 billion of apparel products in the first six months of the year, up 8.61% over the same period last year, including US$14.02 billion in garment products.

The United States remained Vietnam’s largest apparel buyer, with US$7.22 billion in the January-June period, up 12.86% year-on-year and accounting for nearly half of the country’s total apparel exports. The CPTPP members came in second, with US$2.57 billion, followed by the European Union with US$2.05 billion.

Cam said local textile and garment enterprises must put more efforts into reaching an export target of US$40 billion this year.

Farm produce quality needs improving

Local farmers, farm produce processors and traders should meet local and international standards to increase the consumption of agricultural products and also enhance competitiveness against foreign rivals, heard a forum on farm produce consumption on July 19.

The forum, co-organized by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Dong Thap government in HCMC, was aimed at raising farm produce consumption for cooperatives in the northern region and the Mekong Delta province of Dong Thap.

Speaking at the forum, Nguyen Vu Toan, sales director of the Saigon Union of Trading Cooperatives (Saigon Co.op), said that Saigon Co.op’s retail chains consume over 200 tons of vegetables and fruits each day, and the retail chain operator expects to cooperate with localities and cooperatives with stable production of high quality agricultural products to meet customer demands.

However, poor traffic infrastructure and limited storage technologies have reduced the quality of Vietnamese farm produce, Toan said.

Additionally, domestic fruits are under pressure, due to rising imports of foreign fruits, he said, adding that supermarkets not only import temperate fruits from foreign markets to diversify their products, but also buy tropical fruits from Thailand and China due to their lower prices.

As such, Toan called upon Vietnamese farmers and farm produce processors to promptly change how they think about production, so they could meet requirements for the quality and quantity of agricultural products ordered by distributors.

In addition, operators of modern retail channels advised farm produce processors and farmers to further invest in design and packages to improve the value of products, as an important foundation when exporting to foreign markets.

Director of My An Cooperative in Dong Thap Province Nguyen Hong Nhanh, however, said that the cooperative was vague about standards of production to meet the requirements set by firms.

“The cooperative’s access to firms and supermarkets remained limited due to the shortage of information,” Nhanh said, adding that the cooperative is focusing on enhancing the quality of products to be placed on supermarket shelves.

Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Tran Thanh Nam said the yield of agricultural production has grown over the past few years, but due to high market requirements, in terms of quality of products, it is necessary to re-organize production processes and set up material areas to ensure sufficient supplies.

The country is currently home to 9,000 firms active in agricultural production, but either the supply of farm produce or the market remains inadequate. As such, Deputy Minister Nam said that farmers should focus their production on meeting the market’s demand and customers’ tastes.

In recent years, cooperatives have played a key role in linking farming households and the market. Some 9.3 million farming households nationwide have joined cooperatives to produce large volumes of products for supply. As a result, the connection of products between firms and cooperatives need promoting.

A mere 24% of cooperatives have chain connections with firms in the country. “As planned, the figure will increase to 50% by 2025,” Nam told the press on the sidelines of the forum.

Meanwhile, Deputy Minister Nam said he expected that through the forum, farmers and cooperatives’ awareness about agricultural production would be raised to turn out high quality products to gain trust from customers and firms.

Imports of aquatic products top US$730 million

Vietnam’s aquatic products imports from January to May rose about 5% year-on-year to cross US$730 million, according to the Agro Processing and Market Development Authority under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

During the first five months of the year, fisheries were chiefly imported from Norway, which accounted for nearly 12% of imports, followed by India, China, and Japan.

Imports from the Filipino market increased 76%, showing a stronger growth compared to last year, while imports from the Indian market fell by more than 40%.

Most of the imported aquatic products are chiefly processed for exports. Last year, for instance, over 90% of imported items served this purpose.

Data from the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP) shows that the country’s import turnover of aquatic products last year rose 19% from that recorded in 2017, with import values averaging almost US$150 million per month.

Last year, Vietnam spent over US$1.7 billion on imports of aquatic products. Shrimp accounted for around US$450 million of the total aquatic products imports, a decline of 9% versus the figure recorded in 2017, while tuna and other marine fishes worth more than US$350 million and US$670 million, respectively, were imported, both showing an increase of about 30% against the 2017 figures.

The country imported aquatic products from 97 countries and territories last year, with over 70% of the total imported volume coming from the top ten suppliers, including India, Norway, China, and Taiwan.

HSBC handles first live blockchain LC transaction

HSBC has successfully executed a blockchain-enabled live trade Letter-of-Credit (LC) transaction between Duy Tan Plastics Corporation of Vietnam and INEOS Styrolution Group of Korea, which took only 24 hours, rather than the normal five to 10 days.

 

This is the first pilot blockchain LC transaction in both Vietnam and Korea, and the seventh globally, led by HSBC, said a statement released by the lender.

The blockchain transaction involved a shipment of raw plastic from INEOS Styrolution, the seller in Korea, to Duy Tan, the buyer in Vietnam. This was an end-to-end trade between buyer and seller, completed on a single shared application, Voltron, rather than multiple systems, with HSBC Vietnam as the issuing bank and HSBC Korea as the advising/nominating bank.

The LC was issued and advised on July 3 and the exchange was done in 24 hours. The transaction demonstrates that blockchain, as a solution to trade digitization, is commercially and operationally viable. Conventional exchanges for paper-based documentation related to letters of credit usually take between five and 10 days.

Both Duy Tan and INEOS Styrolution saw increased operational efficiencies and greater transparency and security with regard to the transaction. The need for paper confirmations was removed because all parties were linked on the platform and updates were instantaneous.

The quick turnaround means unlocking immediate liquidity for both businesses, HSBC said in the statement.

Regarding the transaction, Nguyen Bao Quoc, CFO of Duy Tan, said, “We are very pleased to be part of the first trade transaction in Vietnam using blockchain technology conducted by HSBC. Entering the transaction was not only thrilling, but momentous, as we believe it can help us evolve all cross-border trade procedures, enabling a fast information exchange between sellers and buyers. As a business in this cross-border process, the benefits are huge for us.”

Additionally, Pham Hong Hai, CEO of HSBC Vietnam, said, “Vietnam is a country benefiting from the rapid movement in supply chains. Faster documentation turnaround time will open doors for businesses to further leverage Vietnam as a trade hub in Asia.”

HSBC has been pioneering the use of blockchain in trade finance, starting with its groundbreaking LC transaction using the Voltron platform last May. This latest transaction is a reflection on how the technology is gaining traction in markets across Asia. HSBC continues to identify markets and partners to expand the use of this technology, with the ultimate goal of commercializing Voltron.

The Voltron consortium is keen to work with more banks and companies in Korea and Vietnam interested in using this technology to give their businesses an edge over competitors.

HCMC sees sharp rise in pork imports in H1

Traders in HCMC imported more than 5,600 tons of pork, valued at US$10.29 million, in the first half of 2019, up a staggering 4,800 tons and US$8.1 million in revenue from one year earlier, according to the HCMC Department of Industry and Trade.

Data reveals that more than 2,300 tons of pork, valued at US$4.3 million, was shipped from Brazil, followed by the United States, with 874 tons worth US$1.7 million, and Poland with 848 tons worth US$1.4 million.

Also, pork imports from Belgium and the Netherlands totaled 238 tons and 210 tons, respectively, worth some US$620,000 and US$431,000.

The department ascribed a steep rise in pork imports to the fact that every kilo of pork was worth VND30,000 (US$1.2), lower than the prices of domestically-produced live pork.

Given the country’s increasing economic integration, the removal of trade barriers has enabled the local pork market to be linked with foreign markets, to a certain extent.

For example, Vietnam reopened its door to Brazil’s pork products late last year. As a result, pork imports from the South American country witnessed a marked increase in the city.

Most local processors use pork imports to produce ham, sausages and hot dogs, rather than offering them for retail sales, since local consumers are inclined to choose fresh meat, instead of frozen meat, except for specialty pork.

Nguyen Nguyen Phuong, head of the department’s Office of Trade Management, said at a press brief today, July 22, that due to the ongoing outbreak of African swine fever, the country is expected to experience a reduction in pork stocks late this year, and pork prices are likely to increase.

Currently, the department is trying to import and stockpile pork, and increase the supplies of other alternatives, such as chicken and beef.

Statistics from the department indicate that pork supplies intended to stabilize prices total more than 4,000 tons a month, accounting for 21% of the local market share.

Some major suppliers are domestic meat producer Vissan, Saigon Agriculture Incorporated (Sagri), and San Ha Foods. For example, Vissan may stockpile up to 3,600 tons of pork every one-and-a-half months, and import meat in case of major fluctuations.

African swine fever, which is deadly to pigs but harmless to humans, was first detected in Vietnam in February and has spread to farms in 62 of the country’s 63 provinces and cities, except for the south-central coastal province of Ninh Thuan. Authorities have culled some 10% of pig herds to contain the outbreak.

Pork makes up three-quarters of total meat consumption in Vietnam, a country of 95 million people, where most of its 30 million farm-raised pigs are consumed domestically.

The country’s pork industry is valued at some VND94 trillion (US$4.04 billion), and accounts for nearly 10% of Vietnam’s agricultural sector.

Chinese investment wave raises concerns

With the United States and China locked in a trade war, investment inflows from China to Vietnam have surged, raising concerns among local experts about their efficiency, and social and environmental issues.

According to the General Statistics Office, Hong Kong and China were Vietnam’s biggest investors in the first six months of 2019. During the period, the country attracted a total of US$7.5 billion in fresh investments from China and Hong Kong.

Of the total investments, US$5.3 billion was pledged by investors from Hong Kong and US$2.2 billion from mainland China.

At a seminar to announce the findings of a study on Chinese investment in Vietnam, held in Hanoi on July 22, Associate Professor Dr. Nguyen Duc Thanh, director of the Vietnam Institute for Economic and Policy Research (VEPR), said Chinese firms do not invest heavily in certain sectors in Vietnam, like those from northeast countries, such as South Korea and Japan. For instance, South Korean firms have invested heavily in Vietnam’s production and real estate sectors.

The total investment from China is not higher than other ASEAN countries, Thanh added.

Dr. Pham Sy Thanh, director of VEPR's Chinese Economic Studies Program, said that Chinese investment in Vietnam has increased annually, but remains lower than that from Japan and South Korea.

However, Chinese investments have a bearing on Vietnam’s environment, society, and labor market, Thanh noted.

He cited the Cat Linh-Ha Dong urban railway project in Hanoi as an example, saying that the investment capital for the project, whose contractor is China-based Bureau 6 China Railway Corporation, had been estimated at US$522.86 million.

However, the project has yet to become operational, and construction costs have surged to US$868.04 million, which is US$315.24 million higher than estimated.

Moreover, multiple violations of the Labor Law were found at the project. According to findings of investigators from the Ministry of Labor, Invalids, and Social Affairs, announced in 2015, the Chinese contractor had set a minimum wage of VND3 million, which is VND100,000 lower than the minimum regional wage.

The contractor did not check the safety of eight kinds of equipment as required.

In addition, the project is behind schedule. The project should have been completed within 48 months from 2010.

However, in November last year, it was still incomplete, which makes it four years behind schedule.

Multiple labor accidents have occurred at the construction site, including one fatal scaffolding collapse in late 2014, which left three people injured and one person dead.

Experts participating in the seminar proposed increasing the supervision of Chinese enterprises’ investment activities in Vietnam.

Plans afoot to turn Danang into sea tourism hub, logistics center

Danang City may develop into a regional sea tourism hub in Southeast Asia and a logistics center in the next 25 years, according to two Singaporean consulting firms.

Experts from a consortium formed by the two Singaporean firms, Sakae Corporate Advisory and Surbana Jurong, will modify the city’s master plan, including strategies to accelerate its economic growth till 2030 and a vision for 2045, which will be sent to the municipal government for approval by the end of February next year. Once approved, the plan would be announced at the ‘Spring Dialogue 2020’, scheduled for March 2020.

To become a regional sea tourism hub, the city needs to chart out plans for tourism development, based on specific source markets such as South Korea, China, and Japan, and further exploit other larger markets, said the experts.

The city has been hosting a large number of international meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions (MICE) tourists, and it is expected to welcome scores of tourists traveling to the city for medical and retirement tourism.

Accordingly, the city needs to work out more effective marketing measures to tap more markets in Asia, Europe, the Americas, and develop its medical tourism by offering wide-ranging services, and setting up hospitals and private clinics, said the experts.

Meanwhile, infrastructure facilities, such as seaports, airports, railways and roads in the city and neighboring localities, need to be connected to help the city turn into a logistics hub and a transit point for a wide range of commodities, according to the experts. To do so, the city needs to apply smart technology in logistics services and facilities which require automation, such as warehousing, delivery, and maintaining product confidentiality, they said.

In addition, the national highways that pass through downtown Danang need to be shifted to outlying areas to reduce traffic congestion and accidents, while an expansion plan is needed for the expressway network, they added. Both national highways and expressways will have to link the city’s key infrastructure facilities, including the ports of Lien Chieu and Tien Sa with others in the central region, said the experts.

Further, the city can raise the number of tourism boats by collaborating with neighboring localities Thua Thien-Hue and Quang Nam, said experts adding that the port of Tien Sa is set to serve as an important tourist port in the Southeast Asian region, connecting the central city with other major destinations such as Singapore, Phuket in Thailand, and Boracay in the Philippines.

The municipal authorities have asked the relevant departments and agencies to review all old zoning plans and work with the consulting firms to accelerate the implementation of the adjusted master plan, on par with the city’s characteristics and regional and global development trends.

HCMC to invite legal consultants for metro line projects

The HCMC government has approved a proposal by the Management Authority for Urban Railways (MAUR) to hire legal consultants for metro line projects, the local media reported.

The HCMC government office on July 22 announced the decision of HCMC Vice Chairman Vo Van Hoan on legal consultation for the city’s metro lines.

According to the announcement, the metro line projects in HCMC are expected to operate on a large scale and involve international investors, so contracts would have to be signed in line with Vietnamese and international standards.

Besides, the process of negotiations and management of contracts can be complicated, and disputes arising out of the execution of contracts and during construction may have negative implications, the announcement stated. Therefore, it is necessary to have a team of legal consultants working with the MAUR during the implementation of the projects, according to the announcement.

Apart from accepting MAUR’s proposal to hire legal consultants for the metro line projects, the municipal government has passed a plan to tap the city’s annual budget to pay the consultants.

The HCMC vice chairman has also asked MAUR to make a cost estimate for legal consulting services in 2019 and in the future, and has told the HCMC Departments of Finance and Justice to direct the MAUR to fulfill tasks.

If disputes arise, the MAUR can apply the HCMC government’s Decision 30 on regulations related to international investment disputes in HCMC, and work with the relevant departments and agencies to handle the disputes and report them to the municipal government.

Under the approved plan, HCMC will have eight metro lines with a total length of 220 kilometers. The city needs US$25 billion to develop the metro lines. The first and second metro lines are being laid using official development assistance loans.

The city’s first metro line was granted more than VND17 trillion in funding, when it first got approval in 2007. The investment estimate was revised up to more than VND47.4 trillion in 2009. The first metro line is expected to start services in 2021.

The second metro line was rolled out in 2010, with an initial approved investment of over VND26.1 trillion. The funding has been revised upward to VND48 trillion. The two projects have fallen far behind schedule.

Vietnam gets its first solar-powered TV studio

Jet Studio on July 22 announced that its solar power system has been connected to the national power grid, which makes it the first television production company in Vietnam to operate completely on solar energy.

The film studios and office complex of Jet Studio cover 8,000 square meters of land. JetStudio’s solar power system spans an area of 864 square meters, and includes over 400 solar panels with a total capacity of 160 kilowatts, which is expected to have a life span of 20 years.

The system can generate enough electricity for the film studios as well as the office complex to operate. Moreover, when solar production exceeds demand, the firm can sell spare solar power to electricity companies, according to Nguyen Thanh Nhum, director of Jet Studio.

Jet Studio has been a familiar TV show producer among local people, offering several television programs such as Nguoi ke chuyen tinh (The Love Story-Teller ), Hay nghe toi hat (Hear Me Sing), 60 phut ruc ro (Shining 60 minutes).

The use of solar power marks an important milestone for Jet Studio as it has become the first entertainment company and film studio operator in the country to switch to clean energy for creating a green working environment and encouraging innovative ideas among staff members.

Local firms seek guidance on e-invoice use

Several enterprises sought guidance from the Ministry of Finance on the issuance and use of e-invoices, without delay, during a conference attended by HCMC officials and business representatives on July 23.

At the conference, which was jointly held by the HCMC Investment and Trade Promotion Center and the HCMC Tax Department, a number of business representatives agreed that e-invoices will help improve the management and storage of information and business activities, the Vietnamplus news site reported.

However, many firms have encountered a number of difficulties while making the switch from paper-based invoices to e-invoices.

According to Nguyen Thi Thanh Mai, a representative of KAO Vietnam Co. Ltd, the Government’s Decree 119/2018/ND-CP, which regulates the use of e-invoices for sale of goods and services, will definitely further business activities of local companies.

Although the decree took effect on November 1 last year, a circular providing guidance on its deployment is not yet available. Meanwhile, the decree has made e-invoices compulsory for all enterprises from November 1, 2020.

Enterprises are finding it costly and time-consuming to issue both paper-based and electronic invoices, he added.

Therefore, Mai proposed the Ministry of Finance issue a circular providing guidance to Decree 119 as soon as possible.

Nguyen Nam Binh, deputy director of the HCMC Tax Department, said the use of e-invoices is in line with the taxman’s aim to reduce costs for enterprises. Local firms should study solutions offered by e-invoice service providers to immediately implement the new invoice system, he said.

The Ministry of Finance is drafting a circular providing guidance on the implementation of Decree 119, and the General Department of Taxation is building a portal to collate data on sales of goods and services from the e-invoices, he said.

Enterprises can now issue and use e-invoices based on the Ministry of Finance’s Circular 32/2011/TT-BTC, guiding the creation, issuance, and use of e-invoices, Binh added.

Time reduced for obtaining home ownership certificates in HCMC

The time required to complete the paperwork for home ownership certificates in HCMC will be shortened as the municipal Department of Natural Resources and Environment has authorized districts to issue these certificates and has cooperated with the Tax Department to help residents pay taxes online.

At a conference on administrative reforms in HCMC in the first six months of the year, a representative of the municipal Department of Natural Resources and Environment stated that the department’s land registration office has received nearly 23,600 applications for home ownership certificates from district-level land registration offices in the first six months.

Under the prevailing regulations, it takes residents a long time to be granted the certificates.

To address the problem, the department has empowered directors of land registration offices in districts to grant home ownership certificates. The solution will help reduce the time needed to obtain a certificate by 10 days and will save some VND2 billion per year for the city.

Also, the department’s cooperation with the Tax Department will help reduce the number of tax declaration and payment steps to two from the current nine steps. The time to complete tax declaration and payment procedures should now take no longer than five days.

The solution will help reduce the number of staff needed for the task, from three leaders and 12 officials to one leader and one official.

Local residents can save on traveling time and costs to make tax payments.

Links with tax agencies have been made by District 12’s land registration office and will be expanded to other districts .

Car imports skyrocket in first half of 2019

Viet Nam imported 75,437 assembled cars in the first six months of 2019, six times more than in the same period last year, according to the General Department of Customs.

The value of imported cars also increased by more than five times from January to June, reaching US$1.63 billion.

Of the imported cars, 54,927 vehicles were nine-seat cars or smaller, up six-fold year-on-year, and 17,879 were trucks, also up more than six-fold.

In June alone, a total of 10,540 cars were imported with a total value of $254 million, a year-on-year increase of 26.5 per cent.

Thailand was the source of most of the imports last month – 7,575 units – followed by Indonesia with 1,468 and China with 653. Viet Nam also imported 274 cars from the Republic of Korea and 150 vehicles from Japan. These five markets accounted for 96 per cent of all vehicle imports into Viet Nam in June.

Viet Nam imported 7,145 cars with nine seats or fewer in June, worth a total of $136.9 million, accounting for 67.8 per cent of its total automobile imports.

There were 2,731 trucks imported worth a total of $77.1 million and 654 vehicles with special purposes worth $40.3 million.

June also saw Viet Nam purchase $291 million worth of spare car parts, down 18.4 per cent month-on-month. Suppliers of parts were mainly from the Republic of Korea, Japan, Thailand, China, Indonesia and Germany.

 
 
 
 
 
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