BUSINESS NEWS 31/8

EVFTA to boost intellectual property in Vietnam

BUSINESS NEWS 31/8

The EU-Vietnam free trade agreement (EVFTA) is expected to bring many benefits in protection of intellectual property rights in Vietnam.

The implementation will help Vietnamese enterprises protect the results of investment to creative activities from innovation of new technologies, designs and packaging to brands of products and services, Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh said at a conference on important commitments on intellectual property held in Hanoi on August 27.

In addition, EVFTA also provides many opportunities to access EU markets, the minister said, adding to enter this large market, local businesses need to meet the regulations on protection, exploitation and realisation of intellectual property rights and know clearly about technical barriers in trade of this market.

Businesses must focus on raising awareness about intellectual property as well as improve technology and the ability to absorb advanced technology to improve quality, he said.

The EVFTA is a comprehensive and high quality agreement covering many issues, including intellectual property. This is a new issue appearing in a few FTAs that Vietnam has joined according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

In the current trend of deep integration, a strong intellectual property system is the basis for a country to control activities of business and brand protection.

This helps attract investment from multinational companies and increase access to advanced technologies. It will also create an environment and legal corridor for individuals and organisations to develop innovative ideas and bring to market products with high quality and applicability.

However, the commitments on intellectual property under the EVFTA will create significant challenges for domestic law revision.

In addition, general awareness about infringement of intellectual property rights is still low while Vietnam integrates further into the world, so it is necessary to increase the awareness of the public and enterprises about EVFTA's commitments in this issue.

Tran Huu Linh, Director General of the General Department for Market Surveillance, said to improve efficiency in protecting intellectual property rights, Vietnam needed to develop a national strategy. It should also improve professional qualification of intellectual property and performance of public duties at the State functional authorities.

In addition, it should increase efficiency of disseminating legal knowledge as well as learn experience and get support from international organisations in the enforcement of intellectual property rights.

At the conference, Nguyen Thi Thu Trang, Director of the WTO Integration Centre under the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), said Technological Protection Measures (TPMs) not only applied for production, import, distribution, assembly, sale and rental, but also for storage with commercial and advertisement purposes.

Meanwhile, rights management information (RMI) not only protects original information, but also the information in copies and the public release.

EVFTA's commitments are higher than WTO in terms of increasing the rights of the court in deciding temporary measures for not only violating entities, but also those who are storing violated goods.

Trang said these commitments not only helped them increase economic benefits, increase creative motivation but also contribute to cost savings and be confident to register intellectual property rights protection.

Sabeco plans to pay 15% cash dividend in September

The Saigon Beer-Alcohol-Beverage Corporation (Sabeco) will pay every shareholder VND1,500 (US$0.06) per share, or a 15 per cent cash dividend rate, to complete its 2018 dividend plan.

The company will finalise the list of beneficial shareholders on September 6 and payment will be made on September 27.

With more than 641.28 million shares listed on the Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange (HoSE: SAB), Sabeco will have to pay VND960 billion ($42.24 million) to shareholders this time.

Sabeco shareholders approved the 15 per cent cash dividend rate in April, raising the firm’s 2018 must-pay dividend rate to 50 per cent from previous 35 per cent.

In December and October 2018, Sabeco made two advanced cash dividend payments for shareholders, worth total VND2.24 trillion.

In 2018, Sabeco earned VND36 trillion worth of total revenue, up 5.1 per cent year on year. Its post-tax profit fell 11 per cent year on year to VND4.4 trillion. The company recorded its undistributed post-tax profit had reached VND7.47 trillion as of December 31, 2018.

In the first half of 2019, the brewery posted a 9 per cent increase in total revenue, which was VND18.4 trillion. The firm also saw its profit gain 16 per cent year on year to VND3.45 trillion in the first six months.

In 2019, Sabeco targets to achieve nearly VND39 trillion in total revenue and VND4.7 trillion in net profit. The figures are respectively up 8.3 per cent and 6.8 per cent year on year.

In late 2017, Vietnam Beverage – the Viet Nam-based unit of Thai Beverage Public Company Limited (ThaiBev) – purchased 343.6 million Sabeco shares or 53.58 per cent of the Vietnamese brewer’s charter capital for VND110 trillion.

After ThaiBev completed its purchase of Sabeco shares, worries about the prospects of the Vietnamese brewer sent its shares down 40.5 per cent from the record high of VND329,460 ($14.5) per share on November 29, 2017.

Since then, Sabeco shares have gained 42 per cent to end at VND278,400 per share on August 23.

The growth of Sabeco shares shows investors have reacted well to the company’s performance, especially with ThaiBev topping the firm’s governance system, according to Bao Viet Securities Co (BVSC).

ThaiBev has made significant changes in the structure of Sabeco and the restructuring was the reason for increased earnings in the first half of 2019.

Efforts have been made to win market shares in major local markets like Da Nang and HCM City, cut production and logistics expenses, and increase the firm’s total production capacity.

The company might continue to beat its 2019 full-year earnings targets, BVSC said.

SBT plans to issue $103.25 million worth of convertible bonds

Sugar producer Thanh Thanh Cong - Bien Hoa Joint Stock Company (SBT) plans to make a private placement of 2,400 convertible bonds with a par value of VND1 billion (US$43,097) for a minimum duration of three years, according to a document it has sent to shareholders for approval.

The coupon rate will be negotiated with each investor.

If it manages to sell all the bonds it will raise VND2.4 trillion ($103.25 million).

The bonds can be converted into common stock one year after the issue date.

By reducing short-term debt and restructuring capital, the company seeks to ensure stable financial resources and satisfy the requirements of strategic investors.

SBT also plans to add 11 new business lines, mainly in animal husbandry and other crops besides sugarcane, thus increasing the total number of its business lines to 42.

The company expects to increase its by-products to diversify its revenue sources and meet the sustainable development goals.

It expects by fiscal 2020-21 revenues from by-products like molasses, microbial fertilisers, biomass energy, and others to double to 30 per cent.

The company is in the process of negotiating with several large foreign corporations for tie-ups in cultivation and animal husbandry to leverage their mutual strengths.

SBT also plans amendments and supplements to the company charter and buyback of convertible preferred stocks as a preparatory step for collaborating with long-term investors for capital planning and management and business operations, especially with the ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement about to come into effect.

Its board of directors has approved the purchase of 2.082 million shares, or a 41.65 per cent stake, in property developer Tan Dinh Import Export JSC, which has a portfolio of projects in prime locations.

Cybersecurity important for small businesses too: experts

Digital transformation is creating opportunities for small and medium-sized businesses in Viet Nam but also bringing new risks, according to experts.

SMBs account for 98 per cent of all enterprises and 40 per cent of GDP in Viet Nam.

In the digital era information systems play a very important role in the operation of companies, but holding a large volume of customer information makes businesses a target of cybercrime.

Cyberattacks put firms’ money, data and IT equipment at risk.

If a hacker gains access to one firm’s network, they could do a lot of damage with what they find, such as access to client lists, customer credit card information, the company's banking details, and others.

Cyberthreats are a problem not only for large corporations and governments but also SMBs.

Research shows that globally 22 per cent of small businesses have been the targets of cyberattacks.

A Kaspersky survey in 2018 on “Growing businesses safely: Cloud adoption vs. security concerns,” found that 74 per cent of SMBs were not paying enough attention to cybersecurity.

The company also surveyed more than 6,000 employees of various companies all over the world, and learnt that regardless of company size data breach costs have risen significantly in the last two years.

Yeo Siang Tiong, Kaspersky’s general manager for Southeast Asia, said: “Cyberattacks could cause significant consequences for businesses. Once customers know that their information was compromised, the involved business’ reputation will be tainted, and sometimes this is more damaging than monetary loss.

“Our report shows that 43 per cent of data breaches are caused by employees who either maliciously or carelessly give cybercriminals access to their company’s networks.

“Hence, SMBs should invest more in cybersecurity training for employees to educate them in the basics of cybersecurity.”

He offered several tips for SMBs to beef up their security defences, including basic IT security training for staff, putting a process in place to create and safely store back-ups, controlling access to corporate data, regularly updating patches, and using professional software.

Pharma and healthcare exhibition to feature 600 booths

The annual International Exhibition on Products and Supplies for Medical, Pharmaceutical, Hospital and Rehabilitation will be held in HCM City next month.

It will showcase the latest pharmaceuticals, nutritional and functional supplements, medical equipment and devices, hospital and clinical facilities, dental, ophthalmological, dermatological, obstetric and gynaecological equipment and devices, homecare devices, laboratory apparatus and equipment, beauty products and equipment, and medical tourism services.

There will be 600 booths set up by exhibitors from 25 countries and territories, including Germany, South Korea, Turkey, mainland China, Pakistan, India, Canada, Denmark, Australia, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand.

Ha Thi Phuong Lam, chairwoman of ADPEX JSC, one of the organisers, said one of the highlights of this year's exhibition would be the participation of nearly 100 Vietnamese and international pharmaceutical enterprises from Canada, the US, Japan, Germany, Switzerland, France, India, and other countries.

“The exhibition has always attracted a large number of Vietnamese firms, proving that the event is a reliable place for them to promote their products and seek business partners to expand domestic and international markets.”

The event will also feature a series of conferences and seminars on new technologies and modern applications in the medical and pharmaceutical sectors.

B2B programmes to connect exhibitors and visitors will be held.

To be held at the Sai Gon Exhibition and Convention Centre from September 11 to 14, the expo is expected to welcome 15,000 visitors, including over 8,000 trade visitors.

Steel imports shoot up in first seven months

The volume of steel imports into Vietnam leaped by 42 per cent during the first seven months of this year, as reported by the General Department of Vietnam Customs.

The country spent a total of US$5.64 billion on importing a combined 8.39 million tons of steel during the seven-month period, surging by 42 per cent on year. The average price of imported steel stood at only US$672.6 per ton.

China remained the largest provider of steel products for the country, accounting for 41.3 per cent of Vietnam’s total steel imports during the reviewed period. The Southeast Asian country imported 3.46 million tons from China, down 10.7 per cent on year, while the import price fell by 11.5 per cent.

Japan was the country’s second largest steel source with a volume of 1.2 million tons worth US$814.72 million. Steel imports from Japan saw drops of 7 per cent in volume and 10.4 per cent in turnover against the same period last year.

It was followed the Republic of Korea which provided 992,030 tons, a year on year decrease of 5.3 per cent, worth US$804.88 million.

While the three leading steel providers saw declines in volume, steel imports from other markets such as Taiwan (China), Turkey, Mexico, Belgium, Indonesia, and Malaysia, all went up.

Of note, steel products imported from Turkey reached 41,300 tons, valued at US$26.99 million. This represents a huge increase of 42.3 times in volume and 28.5 times in value.

Steel purchased from Mexico reached 5,693 tons in volume and US$3.53 million in value, surging by 23.5 times and 18.9 times, respectively.

Steel imported from Belgium, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Australia, and South Africa all jumped by over 100 per cent in terms of both volume and turnover.

Elsewhere, steel imports from Saudi Arabia recorded only 83 tons, valued at US$0.06 million, plunging by 98 per cent in terms of volume and turnover.

According to the Vietnam Steel Association, the domestic steel sector remained steady in both price and production across the seven-month period, with an annual rise of 10 per cent in the domestic steel output and sales.

Steel exports rose by 4.8 per cent on year to reach 2.82 million tons during the reviewed period amid increasing trade remedies imposed by importing countries.

Ride-hailing firm Grab plans major investment in Vietnam

Ride-hailing firm Grab is set to invest “several hundred million dollars” in Vietnam where the company sees its next major growth market.

The proposed investment is the latest example of a top-notch regional brand deepening its commitment to Vietnam, one of Asia’s fastest growing economies. It also shows the eagerness of Grab, which has raised billions of dollars from investors, to put its cash to work.

"We’re very excited about Vietnam. We see very similar characteristics to Indonesia," Grab President Ming Maa told Reuters in an interview.

Grab and rival Indonesia-based Go-Jek are evolving from ride-hailing app operators to become one-stop shops for services as varied as payments, food delivery, logistics and hotel bookings in Southeast Asia.

Grab, with its app on more than 160 million mobile devices across eight countries, has said its Indonesia investment aims to build a next-generation transport network and transform how critical services such as healthcare are delivered.

Like Indonesia, many middle class and young consumers in Vietnam are using apps and websites to access services, Maa said.

"I would expect us to invest over several hundred million dollars into growing our Vietnam business," he said without giving specific details on the investment.

Vietnam ranks third or fourth among Grab’s top markets, said Maa, who joined the company three years ago from its major investor, Japan’s Softbank Group Corp, and a previous decade-long stint at investment bank Goldman Sachs.

Grab partnered with Vietnamese fintech firm Moca in 2018 to launch a digital wallet. Grab formed a joint venture with Credit Saison, a Japanese credit card company, last year to offer loans and credit analysis to consumers and micro-entrepreneurs across Southeast Asia.

Grab was Vietnam’s most downloaded ride-sharing app from January to July, according to market data and analytics firm, App Annie. Aside from Go-Jek, Be is another ride-hailing competitor.

The wealthy city-state of Singapore is Grab’s second-biggest market, where it is building a $135 million headquarters. The company, which has over 4.5 million drivers in the region, aims to double its revenue to $2 billion this year.

Maa said its total gross merchandise volume (GMV) in food delivery, a segment where it is expanding aggressively, has surged 300 percent in the first half. GrabFood now accounts for 20 percent of the company’s total GMV.

In its mature ride-sharing business, the company is profitable in several of its markets, Maa said, adding that Grab has no specific plans for an IPO.

By rolling out a range of daily services at varied price points, Maa was confident of Grab sustaining high growth rates. The company counts Toyota, Microsoft, China’s Didi Chuxing and Hyundai among its backers.

Grab, Southeast Asia’s biggest start-up with an estimated valuation of about $14 billion, is also betting on its payments business to fuel growth in financial services.

"We’re just at the tip of the iceberg for financial services," said Maa, adding that developing the region’s largest payment mobile wallet gave Grab valuable data insight into customers and drivers on its network.

It wants to use those insights to create specific financial products including in insurance, credit and ultimately wealth management offerings.

Maa said Grab is interested in taking up a digital banking license in Singapore, where the central bank has announced plans to issue up to five online-only bank licenses and is expected to provide detailed guidelines in a few weeks.

"By using deflationary forces like digital banking, we are able to provide very similar sets of financial services at much lower cost than what traditional banks are able to provide," said Maa, who earned a master’s degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

 

Grab’s interest in digital finance shows how non-banking firms in Asia are shaping up as potential rivals to traditional banks by leveraging their technology and user databases to offer banking services to retail customers and small businesses.

Southeast Asia’s internet economy is expected to exceed $240 billion by 2025, a joint study by Google and Temasek Holdings showed in November, a fifth more than previously estimated, as more consumers use their smartphones to go online.

Online sales of counterfeit goods flummox officials

Vietnamese authorities are struggling to deal with online sales of fake and contraband products, with several tricks used to avoid detection.

A report released late this week by the Ministry of Industry and Trade said online sales of counterfeit goods remained a problem despite 35,900 fake and illegal products being removed from e-commerce websites as of last year.

Over 3,000 seller accounts have been blocked for selling these items, it added.

"The sale of fake, illegally imported and banned items is widespread on e-commerce websites and social networks such as Facebook and YouTube. This is causing distrust among consumers," Tran Huu Linh, deputy head of the Vietnam Directorate of Market Surveillance, said at a Friday meeting.

Sellers usually advertise fake products with images of real products and offer lower prices, Linh said, adding that this particularly happens with cosmetics and functional foods.

Sellers have one trading address but keep their goods at multiple locations, making it harder for authorities to examine them, he added.

"Some trading locations are in apartment buildings, which require search warrants, delaying the investigation."

Online transactions usually do not have bills, therefore investigating the source of the counterfeit foods is a challenge, he added.

Dang Hoang Hai, head of the Vietnam e-Commerce and Digital Economy Agency (iDEA), said that fraudsters use multiple tricks to avoid being discovered, for example listing the product as "N.I.K.E" instead of "Nike."

Some have servers placed in another country and website domains bought through a foreign service without any real address and phone numbers to contact in Vietnam, Hai said.

The technical capability and skills of officers in the agency have not caught up with fast-developing technologies to identify fraudsters, he added.

Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh proposed making changes in the law that will require online channels to manage their products and prevent counterfeiting.

Buying via online shopping channels and social networks has become increasing popular in Vietnam in recent years. Online sales in Vietnam last year rose by 30 percent over 2017 to top $8 billion, accounting for 5 percent of retail sales, according to the trade ministry.

ACV may become investor of Dien Bien Phu Airport

Airports Corporation of Vietnam (ACV) may overcome Vietjet to become the investor of the expansion project of Dien Bien Phu Airport.

According to a recent document published by the Ministry of Transport (MoT), Minister Nguyen Van The asked the Committee for Management of State Capital (CMSC) to assign ACV to submit a detailed expansion plan for Dien Bien Phu Airport.

ACV has to complete the procedures for the implementation of the expanded airport to submit the relevant paperwork to authorities for approval, while at the same time, the MoT will propose the prime minister to assign ACV to develop the project after collecting the opinion of Dien Bien People’s Committee and CMSC.

“ACV will have to co-operate with the Vietnam Aviation Department and other authorities to build a comprehensive plan for the project with the expectation to start construction by the end of 2020,” the document stated.

The MoT also asked Dien Bien province to submit a document outlining the funds that will be allocated to the project from the provincial budget.

According to Decision No.2501/2017 approving the revised plan for Dien Bien Phu Airport, the airport will serve both civil and military purposes. By 2020, the airport is expected to have an annual capacity of 300,000 passengers and 500 tonnes of cargo and an apron that can accommodate three A320 and A321 aircraft.

By 2030, the capacity will be increased to two million passengers and 10,000 tonnes of cargo, and the apron will be able to provide parking space for six aircraft.

The total investment capital for the project will be VND4.46 trillion ($193.91 million), including VND2.24 trillion ($97.39 million) for building the terminal and flight area, and VND1.1 trillion ($47.83 million) for land clearance.

Previously, both Vietjet and ACV submit documents to the MoT and the Dien Bien People’s Committee to express interest in developing the project. ACV claims they have arranged enough capital to develop comprehensive infrastructure for the project, including a flight and civil aviation area, fully in compliance with the planning of the project.

Meanwhile, Vietjet proposed sourcing over VND1.85 trillion ($80.43 million) from the state budget (41.5 per cent of the capital) and contributing nearly VND2.61 trillion ($113.48 million) (or 58.5 per cent) from its own equity. The Dien Bien People’s Committee is in charge of land clearance and resettlement and constructing the runway.

Regarding the terminal segment, Vietjet proposed developing it under the build-operate-transfer (BOT) model.

The keys to advance central region growth

A conference of the central region’s economic development took place last week in Quy Nhon city of Binh Dinh province, with the overriding focus on seeking viable solutions to help the central ­region breakthrough further in the near future.

A conference of the central region’s economic development took place last week in Quy Nhon city of Binh Dinh province, with the overriding focus on seeking viable solutions to help the central ­region breakthrough further in the near future.

Attending the event, Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyen Chi Dung pointed out limitations that are hindering the region’s development, which include the modest economic scale and the sluggish, unmotivated growth of the region.

“Among 14 provinces in the region, only Thanh Hoa, Ha Tinh, Quang Ngai, and Quang Nam have large-scale projects to motivate growth while the rest have posted low growth rates, unable to avail of the strengths of the existing seaport and airport systems,” he said.

According to Minister Dung, some economic corridors have yet to tap effectively into the great attraction of industry and services, with exports increasing but the proportion still remaining low compared to the total export value of the country as a whole. The uneven pace of growth has prevented the region from developing in a synchronous and comprehensive manner.

The central region’s key economic zone, consisting of five localities, has not yet justified its role as the region’s growth engine. The gross regional domestic product ­proportion of the central region’s key economic zone over the national GDP in the 2016-2018 period dropped overall, from 7.89 per cent in 2016 to 7.79 per cent in 2017 before surging to 7.84 per cent last year.

Unsustainable yet surging revenue collection is also an issue. Accordingly, one-off and unstable revenue accounts for a large proportion, whereas revenue from land use fees and lotteries account for about 22-25 per cent, still a high proportion of total domestic revenue.

Another restriction pointed out by the minister is inadequacies in inter- and intra-regional transport infrastructure connections. The coastal ring route has not yet connected localities along the central coastline, the north-south, and east-west trunk roads that link the coastal area to the Central Highlands. Further, means of linking the coast with the midlands and mountainous areas have not yet been invested in or upgraded.

Risks of freshwater shortage, salinity, and drought are increasingly evident, especially in south-central provinces. Environmental pollution in economic zones, industrial parks, and industrial production facilities remains serious.

Foreign investment attraction into the region remains low as foreign investors and big corporations are reluctant to pour money into a region often hit by natural disasters and floods, and plagued by insufficient transportation.

The final limitation outlined by Minister Dung was the low quality of human resources, with the proportion of certified trained workers only accounting for about 22-23 per cent. Moreover, as the region has been living mainly on agriculture and fishery, industrial working discipline and professionalism are low, and the labour force requires further training. The poverty rate is still high, at 8.7 per cent compared to the country’s average of 6.8 per cent.

Furthermore, according to the minister, a lack of regional cohesion has added to the region’s investment attraction woes, with co-ordination among localities in the region remaining very limited. The connection between strategies, planning, infrastructure conditions, mechanisms, policies, and human resources also remains lax, resulting in shaping a disunited economic space.

Addressing the conference, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc stressed the important position of the central region as the yoke of the two ends of the country, and as “a crucial vertebra” in the national backbone.

PM Phuc believed that the region can promote its role of steadfast connection throughout national development. However, to spur this development, the region needs to be more proactive in seeking further investment inflows. He noted that despite accommodating many big projects, the central region shows shortcomings and unsustainable growth, not yet taking on the role of a regional economic growth ­nucleus.

“The local tax base in the region is generally small, and some provinces report low revenue. Therefore, the region needs to scale up efforts to boost revenue for the country and the localities, striving to gradually scale down subsidies needed from the central government, giving space for the government to invest in other essential fields,” the PM said.

As local infrastructure is still inadequate and insufficient, expansion of sea, road, and air transport systems can provide more favourable opportunities for the region.

PM Phuc, therefore, suggested that central localities stand in front to take advantage of the country’s new opportunities within the next 10-15 years. It should show its aspirations to forge ahead and be determined to soon become an area of fast and sustainable socio-economic development for the country.

“The central region must forge ahead as it concentrates all conditions for fast and sustainable development. Therefore, it must carry the spirit of ‘now or never’,” PM Phuc added.

In light of the region’s marine economic development strategy, meanwhile, it will focus on areas such as developing fisheries, aquaculture, fishing, and seafood processing; sea and island tourism, and western region tourism; seaports and logistics services; development of processing and manufacturing industries associated with seaports; and development of renewable energy, wind power, solar energy, and other energy sources.

As for a regulatory framework, the development planning of the central region must be made clearer, with favourable institutions for regional development, and resolutions and directives made compatible with the region’s reality.

To mitigate climate change implications, the major external problem that threatens the region’s development, relevant localities must have discussions to find appropriate solutions and effective crop transformation, according to the prime minister.

The prime minister also urged local authorities to cultivate a more competitive business environment, helping to turn the region into a lucrative venue to domestic and international investors.

PM Phuc assigned particular tasks to ministries and relevant government agencies. Accordingly, for the Ministry of Planning and Investment, national target planning must be boosted alongside regional planning, quality assurance, promoting the current planning, and reviewing difficulties to timely support, including creating a special mechanism for the central region.

Other tasks include proposing investment resources for building coastal roads, along with roads to the Central Highlands, and tackling drought and water shortages.

In addition, PM Phuc highlighted the importance of exploitation and management of resources, building regional logistics centres, and supporting localities with potential for renewable energy development.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of ­Science and Technology was ­assigned to build up technology and science incubation centres, as well as policies for human resources ­training, skilled labour, and local jobs creation, especially for the tourism, mechanical engineering, and processing sectors.

Dual feats of private sector prowess

The success of tunnel projects crossing Ca and Cu Mong passes and the coming of Hai Van Tunnel 2 in the central region has raised the status of ­Vietnamese investors in the infrastructure development landscape, attesting to the growing imprint of the private sector in the domestic construction industry.

Before 2013, the name Deo Ca (Ca Pass) was often associated with dangerous road conditions, tragic accidents, and long traffic jams caused by natural disasters.

The situation saw a complete turnaround in July 2017 as travellers were able to experience a newfound peace of mind when the mountain received the attention of DEOCA Group.

Five years after the first drill was put into Ca Pass, which connects Khanh Hoa and Phu Yen provinces, Cu Mong ­Tunnel – connecting Phu Yen and Binh Dinh provinces on the south-central coast – was also worked on by the group.

Cu Mong Tunnel opened for use in January, around 18 months after the inauguration of Deo Ca Tunnel. Both works were completed ahead of schedule compared to the Ministry of Transport’s (MoT) approved plan by nearly four months. Construction time was ­shortened thanks to the high construction quality as ­appreciated by the State Appraisal Council.

By “conquering” Cu Mong Tunnel, the Deo Ca workers have completed a hat trick on a period of tunnel digging from Khanh Hoa to Binh Dinh, proving that Vietnamese private companies can also have the competence to invest in large-scale construction works. The footprint left by Deo Ca workers comes to nearly 500 kilometres, from Phu Yen to Danang’s famous Hai Van Pass.

From a financial perspective, not only ensuring the right investment decision, the project – which was under the command of general director Ho Minh Hoang – helped save more than VND2 trillion ($86.96 million) for transfer to other projects.

Cu Mong Tunnel was also completed ahead of schedule, bringing great joy to the people of Binh Dinh and Phu Yen. The last pass of the central region has been completed, prolonging the north-south arterial path. However, the thinking and strategic vision of Hoang continued to conquer new heights – expanding Hai Van Tunnel branch 2.

Hai Van Pass, the longest mountain pass in Vietnam, is also at the highest level above the sea, sitting as the most sinuous bend of passes in Central Vietnam. It was built 13 years ago with Japanese official development assistance.

This time the expansion of Hai Van’s second tunnel branch, which does not utilise foreign loans, has leveraged the resources of DEOCA Group with the total capital fund of nearly VND7.3 trillion ($317.4 million).

Not only that, beyond the road tunnel construction, DEOCA Group is committed to executing all other types of transport works, with the ultimate target of building ­arterial highways for the country. In particular, Bac Giang-Lang Son ­Expressway combined with the Huu Nghi-Chi Lang route, with the total length of 110.2km and investment reaching VND12.2 trillion ($530.43 million), is now under intensive construction in order to keep up with the schedule in 2020.

Looking on the development journey of DEOCA Group, Hoang said, “For us, this is considered as a time full of important milestones. It is five years of overcoming many challenges in the ­construction site and 10 years of showing the ­determination to make the dream come true for the ­people of DEOCA Group.”

“The Deo Ca Tunnel project is not only a fulcrum to facilitate traffic and goods circulation between Phu Yen and the two neighbouring provinces of Khanh Hoa and Binh Dinh, it also motivates and extends regional trade links,” Hoang added.

Above all, it is the strong resolution and commitment of the Party and the state to push up the national transport infrastructure development. As infrastructure development contributes to building the economic foundation of the country, each of DEO?CA Group’s major milestones in its development journey were met by recognition by the Party and the state.

The expression of Hoang mirrors the mind of a private company wishing to contribute to national development, sharing investment resources to reduce public investment in light of Resolution No.13-NQ/TW of the Party Central Committee on infrastructure construction, in accordance with Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc’s orientation and assessment last February at the meeting reviewing the implementation.

In fact, by mobilising diverse social resources, after only a few years, many localities have benefited from large-scale projects run by powerful private businesses such as Sun Group, Vingroup, and T&T Group, employing cutting-edge technologies across the country through public-private partnership and build-operate-transfer investment formats.

According to Tran Dinh Thien, director of the Vietnam Institute of Economics, the impressive economic growth of Vietnam in recent years was contributed by a large part by the private sector. Resources from the private sector have been playing an important role, especially in locations with low public investment.

Visiting the Deo Ca Tunnel project, PM Phuc underlined the special meaning of the first road tunnel construction completed by a local private company. According to the PM, the Deo Ca Tunnel project is the pride of the whole country, which is why he asked officials, engineers, and workers of DEOCA Group to continue ensuring smooth operation and management of the project.

WHA Industrial Zone erected as model of sustainability

Growing environmental awareness is prompting some of the biggest industrial estate operators to take measures to protect vital water resources in Vietnam.

Thailand’s WHA Group, developer of WHA Industrial Zone in the central province of Nghe An, has begun the mission of building a green industrial estate. From its earliest days in Thailand, WHA has always considered that its facilities must co-exist with the environment in a harmonious and sustainable manner. As a result, the company has been carefully designing all its infrastructure and managing all its utilities to ensure minimum environmental impact, and that is no exception in Vietnam.

As one of the fastest-growing economies in the world and with a 2019 GDP growth forecast at 6.7 per cent, Vietnam is facing the problems of rapid development as well as pollution. In particular, water pollution is continuing to rise at an alarming rate.

David Nardone, WHA Group vice chairman of the Board and Group Executive of Industrial and International, upheld the company’s staunch commitment for more environmentally friendly initiatives. “With projects that can be as simple as tree-planting activities and more sophisticated ­efforts such as constructed ­wetlands or energy production, we take pride in partnering with all stakeholders and government agencies to ensure environmental sustainability,” Nardone said.

WHA has recognised the value and importance of ­non-renewable water resources, as well as the importance of ­environmental conservation and social responsibility. Therefore, water preservation is a policy imposed to underline the company’s strong commitment to efficiently using resources in its operations and manufacturing activities. Leveraging its extensive experience, WHA is ready to implement the same model and knowhow at the WHA Industrial Zone in Nghe An, applying the same environmental standards as found at its 11 industrial estates across Thailand.

One of the key factors in successful operation in the utility business is access to a sufficient raw water source to supply to all enterprises inside the industrial estates. Therefore, as part of its 498-hectare Phase 1, WHA Industrial Zone 1 features well-designed infrastructure and utilities, including industrial water supply with an expandable capacity of 15,000 cubic metres per day, ­wastewater treatment, storm drainage, and flood protection systems.

The company’s wastewater treatment plant will use a proven biological technology implemented in WHA industrial estates in Thailand. The facility includes primary and secondary aerated lagoons and a constructed wetland system of 3,200-9,600 cubic metres a day (expandable). Wastewater will lead to holding ponds for treatment. About 30 per cent of the total land area is also dedicated to creating green spaces that will act as a buffer zone.

The water system is safe, cost-effective, and reliable while drainage networks are designed to limit flood risks, with wastewater leading to holding ponds for treatment.

Similar to some of its industrial estates in Thailand, in Nghe An, the group is implementing a constructed wetland system – a chemical-free and environmentally-friendly wastewater solution.

Vietnam is a key market for WHA in its regional expansion strategy as the country has a growing population and high economic growth, which in turn leads to an increase of manufacturing activities. To capitalise on the demand, WHA Utilities and Power Public Co., Ltd. (WHAUP) has begun operations of a utilities business in Vietnam by establishing a subsidiary since May last year.

The subsidiary invests in the industrial water business in the WHA Industrial Zone Nghe An project and has obtained a 49-year right to operate in the area. WHAUP will develop water utilities covering the first phase of the project and ­demand for industrial water, and wastewater treatment of approximately 12,000 and 9,600cu.m per day, respectively. The subsidiary as water service provider, will provide a total solution concept including water services and wastewater treatment to industrial customers.

In addition to waste conservation efforts, WHA is also paying attention to the design of roads and utilities to optimise efficiency. For lower-energy consumption, LED bulbs are being used for all street lights. Another important feature that will be included is the Environmental Monitoring System which will track relevant green data within the manufacturing area.

Taiwanese investors ramp up investment in Binh Duong

According to Bui Minh Tri, director of Binh Duong Industrial Zones Management Board, Taiwanese industrial papermaker Cheng Loong Corp. will pour another $610 million into Cheng Loong Binh Duong Paper Co., Ltd. in Singapore Ascendas-Protrade Tech Park, making it the largest Taiwanese project in the locality so far.

He further noted that Cheng Long will add another 16 hectares to its manufacturing site. It is likely that the expansion project will be green-lighted this year following the review of environment impact assessment by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.

Cheng Loong Binh Duong Paper was granted an investment certificate to develop a $1 billion paper mill in Binh Duong in 2015. Covering an area of 75ha, the mill is designed to produce one million tonnes of industrial paper and 50,000 tonnes of household paper per year. The first phase of the project has been put into operation with an installed annual capacity of 350,000 tonnes of industrial paper products.

Binh Duong has recently organised a dialogue with Taiwanese companies. According to Mai Hung Dung, Deputy Chairman of Binh Duong People’s Committee, Taiwanese companies have invested more than $5.5 billion in 843 projects in Binh Duong, mainly in the fields of textile and garment, footwear, automotive, healthcare, pharmaceutical, and food processing.

“In the first seven months, Taiwanese companies have registered investment capital of $237 million, ranking among the top countries and territories investing in Binh Duong,” he said, noting that more Taiwanese groups are planning to invest in the province.

Binh Duong is conducting a programme on renewing investment attraction in the 2016-2020 period. The province is looking to soliciting hi-tech projects with high added value and environmentally friendly investment without being labor-intensive. The province focuses on planned industrial parks, especially in the northern area of the province.

Wu Chun-ying, president of the Binh Duong-based Taiwan Business Association, said that one-third of Taiwanese companies coming to Vietnam decide to invest in Binh Duong. The country has signed a wide range of free trade agreements, presenting many opportunities for Taiwanese companies to expand investment activities.

 
 
 
 
 
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