BUSINESS NEWS 3/9

HCM City seeks public-private partnership in infrastructure developmen

HCM City authorities are seeking more public-private partnerships (PPP) to ensure socio-economic development for which they otherwise lack funds.

The city needs VND326 trillion (US$14 billion) for 2016-20, but can only raise 52 per cent of the amount, meaning authorities need to seek non-public sources, according to its Department of Planning and Investment.

However, despite their great efforts to attract PPP investment, the actual mobilisation remains far below the requirement.

Speaking at a seminar yesterday, Tran Anh Tuan, deputy director of the department, said to maintain its economic competitiveness, the city would require further investment in infrastructure, especially in areas like transport, health, education, and the environment.

Like other major cities around the world, depending solely on public investment could not meet its huge infrastructure and service development needs, he said.

Investment in PPP mode required competitiveness and transparency, and projects should benefit both the city and the private investors, he said.

PPP projects would need to be market-based, competitive, fair and transparent, and investors must be able to earn profits, he added.

According to the department, since 2000 the city has signed contracts worth nearly VND70 trillion ($3 billion) for 22 PPP projects, including 16 in the transport sector and three in infrastructure. It has plans for another 130 worth nearly VND381 trillion.

According to official figures, PPP projects only account for 5 per cent of the city’s total investment so far.

Recommendations

Experts say it is important to improve the legal framework for PPP investment in the city and offer incentives to investors. It is important to develop a list of projects seeking PPP and make use of revenues from state-owned properties.

The department has said it plans to mobilise properties for PPP projects and draw up plans for more projects in the near future. The city has expropriated lands based on its land-use master plan to auction them or invite tenders for projects that require land.

As of last year the city’s revenues from selling State-owned buildings and transferring land-use rights were worth VND21.615 trillion ($930 million), according to the department.

The seminar, organised by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), discussed public-private investment in infrastructure, transportation, environment, healthcare, and education.

Hashimoto Hidenori of JICA’s Viet Nam office, introduced a financing facility called “Private Sector Investment Finance” as an alternative financing tool to JICA’s traditional ODA financing to support infrastructure development.

In Viet Nam, several projects have been supported by this facility together with the Asian Development Bank, including a private vocational training school by Esuhai in HCMC, a lease-type industrial complex in Nhon Trach III Industrial Park in Dong Nai Province and enhancement of a coffee value chain to support smallholder farmers and farm management by Olam, according to JICA.

Officials from the Department of Natural Resources and Environment, Nguyen Tri Phuong Hospital and Pham Ngoc Thach Medical University Hospital also shared their infrastructure development plans and solicited investment.

HCM City is an emerging economic powerhouse in Southeast Asia and among the country’s most attractive destinations for foreign direct investment, according to experts.

Russian enterprise wants to build power plant in Ninh Thuan

Technoprom Export, an affiliate of Russia’s Rostec Group, expressed its intention to invest in thermal power in the south central coastal province of Ninh Thuan during a working session with local authorities here on Thursday.

Technoprom Export Director General Topo Gilka said the firm had built five thermal power plants in Viet Nam with combined capacity of 685 MW, and joined in six hydropower projects with combined capacity of 3,146 MW.

He said the company wanted to study building a 2,000 MW thermal power plant in Ninh Thuan and petitioned local authorities to provide more information on the locality.

The Russian executive also said he hoped the Vietnamese Government, ministries and agencies would assist the company when it conducted investment procedures.

For his part, Vice Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Tran Quoc Nam detailed existing Russian investment projects in the locality, including the Dam Vua salt making farm in Ninh Hai District and a vodka plant soon to be constructed.

He also introduced the province's potential for renewable energy, including gas-fuelled power.

With permission from the Prime Minister to develop into a renewable energy hub, the province has attracted investment in wind and solar power plants, with total capacity already reaching 2,000 MW.

The vice chairman said Ninh Thuan would create the best conditions for Russian investors to explore business opportunities in the province to help boost the bilateral relationship between the two countries.

Ba Ria-Vung Tau halts delayed port project

The People's Committee of Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province has decided to stop operation of the My Xuan General Port project in My Xuan Ward, Phu My Town, due to slow construction.

The provincial People's Committee has requested Hong Quang Construction and Real Estate Investment JSC, an investor of the project, complete procedures to end the investment project in accordance with existing regulations.

The My Xuan International General Port project has not yet completed site clearance and has not secured land use right certificates. Development is lagging eight years behind schedule due to the investor's inability to provide adequate capital.

Therefore, the Department of Planning and Investment proposed the provincial People's Committee consider revoking the investment licence.

The port was granted an investment certificate on March 18, 2010 by the provincial People's Committee. With a total investment of US$447 million, the project was expected to have four wharves and the capacity to receive four million tonnes of cargo per year.

Average registered capital of new firms rises in first 8 months of 2019

The average registered capital of newly established enterprises in the first eight months in 2019 increased by 27 per cent year-on-year to VND12.7 billion (US$545 million), the highest level in recent years, according to the General Statistics Office (GSO).

During this period, the country had 90,487 newly established enterprises with total registered capital of VND1.15 quadrillion, up 3.5 per cent in number of enterprises and 31 per cent in registered capital against the same period last year.

However, the GSO said that in August, the country had 11,177 newly established firms, down 9.5 per cent month-on-month. Total registered capital of the firms still rose 8.7 per cent against July. Average registered capital per enterprise reached VND13.5 billion, up 20.1 per cent month-on-month.

In the month, there were 1,587 enterprises returning to operations, down 41 per cent from the previous month.

According to analysts on bizlive.vn, the number of new firms and firms resuming operations in August decreased against the previous month because the seventh month of the lunar calendar – known as Ghost Month in Viet Nam and some other Asian countries – is believed to be a period of bad luck. During this time, people often avoid making important decisions like starting a business.

In the first eight months of this year, most sectors had growth in the number of newly-established firms, including the construction sector (up 0.8 per cent), the processing and manufacturing sector (up 5.4 per cent), the science and technology, consulting services, design, advertising and other specialities (up 14.2 per cent) and real estate (up 20.2 per cent).

Four sectors saw a decrease in the number of newly established enterprises compared to the same period last year, including wholesale, retail, and car and motorcycle repair (down 0.5 per cent), accommodation and catering services (down 5.7 per cent), the transport and logistic sector (down 1.1 per cent) and the finance, banking and insurance sector (20.2 per cent).

The number of enterprises temporarily ceasing business in the first eight months was 20,100, down 7 per cent over the same period last year.

About 25,700 enterprises stopped operating to complete dissolution procedures while 10,600 enterprises finished procedures for dissolution in the eight months, up 15.5 per cent year on year.

Viglacera wins global quality award

Ceramic and tile producer Viglacera has won the “World Class” title of the Global Performance Excellence Award (GPEA) awarded by the Asia-Pacific Quality Organisation.

This is the only Vietnamese firm to receive the “World Class” title in the large-scale production category of the 2019 GPEA, the only formal international recognition of performance or business excellence.

In 2018, Viglacera posted 8.8 trillion VND (378.4 million USD) in total revenue, down 4.2 percent year-on-year. Its post-tax profit last year fell 10.7 percent to 667 billion VND.

The company debuted on the Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange on May 29, listing more than 448.3 million shares under code VGC.

HCM City attracts 4.19 billion USD in FDI in eight months

Ho Chi Minh City has attracted 4.19 billion USD in foreign direct investment (FDI) so far this year, up 21.7 percent year-on-year.

According to the municipal People’s Committee, the city granted new investment licenses to 816 foreign-invested projects with a total registered capital of 754.1 million USD in the period. Besides, it also allowed 197 existing projects to increase capital by 419.3 million USD.

Besides, 3,147 foreign investors registered 3.02 billion USD to contribute capital to or buy shares of domestic companies in the reviewed period.

The real estate sector took the lead in attracting FDI 250.5 million USD in 33 projects. It was followed by science-technology, trading, and transport-warehouse with respective investment values of 226.7 million USD, 141.5 million USD, and 31.6 million USD.

As many as 60 countries and territories invested into the city in the period. British Virgin Islands topped the list with 10 projects worth 179.1 million USD, accounting for 23.7 percent of the total.

Investors from the Republic of Korea poured 161.4 million USD into 172 projects in the city, while those from Japan had 111 projects worth 139.1 million USD, and from Singapore with 105 projects totaling 118.1 million USD.

To further promote FDI attraction, the municipal authorities have taken policies and programmes to support investors, especially in industry, and support and processing industries.

Attention has been paid to improving investment and business environment to lure more foreign investment projects.

Binh Duong runs trade surplus of over 4.5 billion USD in eight months

The southern province of Binh Duong recorded a trade surplus of over 4.5 billion USD in the first eight months of 2019, according to Director of the provincial Department of Industry and Trade Nguyen Van Danh.

The signing of the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) and the EU-Vietnam Investment Protection Agreement (EVIPA) is expected to open up numerous export opportunities for businesses, he said.

He noted that the province’s export turnover exceeded 17.5 billion USD in January-August, a year-on-year rise of 13 percent. Of the value, the foreign economic sector contributed over 14.3 billion USD (up 14.7 percent) and the remainder by the domestic one (up 6.5 percent).

Among the local key export commodities, the timber and goods sectors took the lead with the export turnover of over 2 billion USD, a yearly rise of 15 percent.

In the eight-month period, the province imported 12.9 billion USD worth of goods, up 7.1 percent, mainly phones and spare parts; computers, electronic products and components; garment-textile material and footwear; wood and timber products; and chemical products.

In 2019, Binh Duong strives to record a year-on-year export growth of 15.5 percent.

Tay Ninh custard apple farmers embrace VietGAP standards

The southeastern province of Tay Ninh, the country’s largest custard apple producer, is growing the fruit to good agricultural practice (GAP) standards such as VietGAP and Global GAP to meet the market demand and improve farmers’ incomes.

With its favourable natural conditions for growing the fruit, the province has around 5,000ha under custard apple and an annual output of more than 50,000 tonnes, mostly around Ba Den Mountain in Tay Ninh city and Tan Chau and Duong Minh Chau districts.

In 2011 the National Office of Intellectual Property granted geographical indication (GI) certification for Ba Den custard apple, helping improve the image of the province’s fruit at home and abroad.

To meet the market demand for high-quality custard apples in recent years the province Department of Agriculture and Rural Development assigned its agriculture extension centre to instruct farmers and companies to grow the fruit to VietGAP standards.

Most VietGAP-quality custard apples are sold to supermarkets or exported.

Huynh Bien Chieu of Tay Ninh city’s Thanh Tan commune was the first farmer to achieve standards, and he received a certificate attesting this in 2012.

Chieu now grows nearly 20ha of custard apple and harvests 400,000kg a year, selling them for 45,000 – 75,000 VND (2 - 3 USD) a kilogramme in the local market.

They include three tonnes he sells to companies in Ho Chi Minh City for export to countries like the United Arab Emirates, Canada and China, he said.

The Natani Joint Stock Company in Tay Ninh city’s Tan Binh commune grows more than 100ha of custard apples to VietGAP standards.

Nguyen The Tan, its general director, said the company used mostly organic fertilisers and bio-products to grow the fruit.

The company sells nearly 100 tonnes of the fruit a month to supermarkets, and exports 15 – 20 tonnes to the US, Russia and Dubai.

Vo Duc Trong, director of the province’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said the fruit offered higher incomes than many other crops.

If grown using proper techniques, farmers could earn 200 - 300 million VND (8,620 – 12,930 USD) per hectare per year, he said.

Farmers in the province use advanced techniques to stimulate fruiting during the off-season to ensure harvests year round.
The main harvest season though is in August-September.

Custard apples are susceptible to pests such as the mealybug and Mediterranean fruit fly, and so authorities have instructed farmers to cover the fruits with bags to protect them.

They have also organised training courses in preventing and controlling the two pests. 

Vinamilk makes it to Forbes Asia’s Best Over A Billion list

Vietnam’s biggest dairy producer Vinamilk has made it to Forbes Asia's inaugural Best Over A Billion list, which spotlights 200 top-performing listed companies across Asia-Pacific with revenues of 1 billion USD or more.

Mai Kieu Lien, General Director of Vinamilk, said that in the context that technology companies are dominating the rankings, the above result is a remarkable effort of food businesses, including Vinamilk.

The Forbes’s search started with a pool of 3,200 listed companies in the Asia-Pacific region with 1 billion USD or more in revenue in their latest financial year.

Contenders were ranked by a battery of more than a dozen metrics, including average five-year sales, operating income growth, return on capital, and projected growth over the next one to two years.

Those having the highest composite score earned a place in the final list of 200.

The six others from Vietnam in Forbes Asia’s inaugural Best Over A Billion list, besides Vinamilk, are Masan, Thegioididong, Sabeco, Vietjet Air, Vinamilk, Techcombank, and Vingroup.

According to Forbes, Vinamilk’s revenues in the last financial year topped over 2.2 billion USD while market capitalisation was over 9 billion USD.

The company also made it to some renowned rankings in Vietnam.

Vinamilk topped the Forbes Vietnam’s list of 50 largest listed companies, and won the top position in Forbes Vietnam’s top 50 brands in 2019, with its brand value exceeding 2.2 billion USD.

In July, the state-owned dairy producer was the only Vietnamese company included in the top 50 of the fourth annual Asia 300 Power Performers Ranking compiled by the Nikkei Asian Review.

In the first half of this year, the group earned nearly 27.8 trillion VND (over 1.19 billion USD) in net revenue, up 7.61 percent from the same period last year.

Vietnam seeks to develop smart energy

A forum on smart energy and optimization of power structure in Vietnam with flexible solutions was held by the Finnish Embassy in Vietnam and Wartsila Group in Hanoi on August 29.

Addressing the event, Finnish Ambassador Kari Kahilouto said his country wants to partner with Vietnam in producing clean and smart energy.

The Vietnamese Government has implemented a very ambitious policy to develop renewable energy with its inherent potential, and in the future Vietnam will have more opportunities to develop its solar, wind, biomass and waste sources, he noted.

Jaakko Eskola, Chairman and General Director of Wartsila, said Vietnam has great potential for developing wind and solar power.

According Jaakko, production costs of solar and wind power and storage battery have now decreased significantly and it is forecast that these will continue to be down in the near future.

Vietnam has set to produce 2,000MW of wind power and 4,000MW of solar power by 2025, according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT),

Nguyen Manh Cuong from the Energy Institute under the MoIT said by 2030-2035, renewable energy proportion can account for between 50-80 percent of Vietnam’s total energy productivity.

Participants said that Vietnam needs to have new policies on renewable energy development and those to attract more investment to the field.

Forum mulls measures to boost farm produce export to RoK

Experts from the Republic of Korea (RoK) offered their advice to Vietnamese farm producers on how to get their products into the RoK market, which has a high demand for agricultural products, at a forum in HCM City on August 29.

Vietnamese firms and farmers must focus on improving quality, building brand and offering competitive prices, delegates told the forum on Vietnam-Korea Trade Promotion of Agricultural Products.

Le Thanh Hoa, deputy director general of the Agro Processing and Market Development Authority, said the RoK’s agricultural imports have soared in recent years, reaching 35.2 billion USD last year.

Yet Vietnam’s exports of those products to this market were very modest, he said.

Deputy Minister of Agricultural and Rural Development Tran Thanh Nam said bilateral trade in the agricultural sector is very low compared to the potential of the two countries.

Vietnam exports wooden products, seafood and fruits to the RoK and imports animal feed, fertilisers, seafood and fruits from there, he said.

Nam noted that the RoK has allowed the import of coconut, pineapple, banana, mango and dragon fruit from Vietnam, adding that Koreans are very fond of Vietnamese fruits and seafood, while Vietnamese like many Korean products, including kimchi.

Hong Sun, vice chairman of the Korea Chamber of Business in Vietnam, said to be able to enter the market, agricultural products must meet certain conditions like consistent quality, size, colour, and breeds and strong brands and have pricing strategies to ensure competitiveness.

He called on Vietnam’s agricultural sector to speed up the development of organic agriculture to meet international export standards, including those of his country.

Relevant agencies should instruct farmers in technological application to improve product quality and output, he said.

Son Sung Hoon, CEO of CJ Freshway in Vietnam, said to expand the export of agro-forestry and aquatic products, Vietnamese companies must ensure they have a steady supply of quality raw materials.

Choosy markets like the RoK have very strict regulations and standards for imported goods, and so relevant authorities must update farmers and producers of these standards to enable them to meet these criteria, he said.

Kim Yae Jin, vice director of the Korea Agro-trade Centre in HCM City, spoke about Korean consumer trends that enterprises need to know if they plan to enter that market.

Food safety is a top priority for consumers when choosing a product, she said, adding that the Korean Ministry of Food and Drug Safety plans to strengthen inspection of foreign foods.

 

At the forum, delegates also spoke about food safety inspection regulations and aquatic product quarantine in the RoK. 

Forum mulls measures to boost VN-South Korea trade in farm produce

With its high demand for agricultural products, South Korea offers Viet Nam the opportunity to boost its farm exports.

But to enable more products to enter that market, Vietnamese firms and farmers must focus on improving quality, building brand and offering competitive prices, delegates told a forum on Viet Nam-Korea Trade Promotion of Agricultural Products in HCM City on August 29.

Le Thanh Hoa, deputy director general of the Agro Processing and Market Development Authority, said South Korea’s agricultural imports have soared in recent years, reaching US$35.2 billion last year.

Yet Viet Nam’s exports were very modest at around $2 billion, he said.

Deputy Minister of Agricultural and Rural Development Tran Thanh Nam, said: “Bilateral trade in the agricultural sector is very low compared to the potential of the two countries.”

Viet Nam exports wooden products, seafood and fruits to South Korea and imports animal feed, fertilisers, seafood and fruits from there, he said.

“South Korea has allowed the import of coconut, pineapple, banana, mango and dragon fruit from Viet Nam.”

Koreans are very fond of Vietnamese fruits and seafood, while Vietnamese like many Korean products, including kimchi, he said.

Hong Sun, vice chairman of the Korea Chamber of Business in Viet Nam, said to be able to enter the market, agricultural products must meet certain conditions like consistent quality, size, colour, and breeds and strong brands and have pricing strategies to ensure competitiveness.

He called on Viet Nam’s agricultural sector to speed up the development of organic agriculture to meet international export standards, including his country’s.

Relevant agencies should instruct farmers in technological application to improve product quality and output, he said.

Son Sung Hoon, CEO of CJ Freshway in Viet Nam, said to expand exports of agro-forestry and aquatic products, Vietnamese companies must ensure they have a steady supply of quality raw materials.

Choosy markets like Korea have very strict regulations and standards for imported goods, and so relevant authorities must update farmers and producers of these standards to enable them to meet these criteria, he said.

Hoa said: “Enterprises need to enhance their awareness of technical regulations and sanitary and phyto-sanitary requirements in various markets, change the food safety regime from only checking final products to monitoring all phases of the production chain.”

Establishing a co-operation mechanism between regulatory authorities and producers is imperative to ensure the entire supply chain and products meet food safety and quality standards, he added.

Kim Yae Jin, vice director of the Korea Agro-trade Centre in HCM City, spoke about Korean consumer trends that enterprises need to know if they plan to enter that market.

Food safety is a top priority for consumers when choosing a product, she said.

She said the Korean Ministry of Food and Drug Safety plans to strengthen inspection of foreign foods.

With an increasing number of one-person households, demand for products in small packages has increased significantly, she said.

Consumers focus on product differentiation than their prices, she said, adding that they increasingly prefer eco-friendly packaging.

At the forum, delegates also spoke about food safety inspection regulations and aquatic product quarantine in Korea. 

Viet Nam, Israel eye $1 billion in two-way trade

Viet Nam-Israel bilateral trade is likely to top US$1 billion this year, the Vietnamese trade office in Israel said on Wednesday.

According to Vietnamese trade counsellor to the country Le Thai Hoa, Viet Nam has exported an estimated $520 million to the country and splashed out some $127 million on Israeli imports during January-August.

Despite formidable challenges in the Israeli market, Viet Nam’s shipments to the country are expected to exceed $800 million, and imports hit $200 million for the whole year, he said.

The unstable political situation in Israel has made Vietnamese enterprises wary about doing business with their Israeli partners.

Therefore, Vietnamese exports to the country fell slightly during January-July while imports dwindled dramatically, mostly due to a drop in purchases of Israeli computers and electronic spare parts.

Hoa stressed as the two markets share complementary features, their products do not directly compete.

Many Israel firms have expressed interest in buying Vietnamese cashew, tuna, frozen shrimp, squid, beverage, garment, footwear, consumer goods, and dried fruits.

Notably, footwear shipments to Israel in the seven-month period surged 31.8 per cent year on year. Besides, Vietnamese rice and shrimp have gained a firm foothold in the market. However, exports of seafood tapered off 32 per cent as Israel started strengthening food safety measures on imports at the end of 2018. 

Digital transformation a major tool for companies in experience economy: conference

Digitisation is an inevitable trend that helps companies thrive in today’s experience economy, business executives in Southeast Asia told a conference titled “Experience: An Intelligent Enterprises” held in Bangkok on Wednesday.

They told the conference, organised by SAP, that demand for consumer experiences is increasing, heralding the age of the experience economy.

Economic success would be forged by the experience that organisations provide, and technology is making it easier than ever for them to manage the experiences of their customers, they said.

The customer experience matters in South-east Asia where over 641 million consumers are in the drivers’ seat, they said, quoting the fifth Quadrant Study as saying 76 of them switch brands after just one bad experience.

Scott Russell, president of SAP Asia Pacific and Japan, told the conference, “There is an experience gap in which 80 per cent of CEOs believe they are delivering a superior experience to customers, but only 8 per cent of customers agree.”

To narrow this gap, the use of technologies is indispensable.

This was obvious from the stories narrated at the conference by leading business leaders from Southeast Asia about how they are investing in technology and taking the lead in their respective industries in becoming intelligent enterprises.

Claus Andresen, president and managing director of SAP Southeast Asia, said: “These companies are frontrunners in their respective industries and understand how having a better and unified experience for customers, employees and decision makers is crucial for long-term sustainable growth.”

One of the stories was from City Mart Holdings Company Ltd, a major Myanmarese retailer with over 200 stores and 8,500 employees.

Ronald Lee, project director of City Mart, said: “Our 2025 vision and mission are to be an innovative company that strives to enhance our customers’ experience through the use of innovative technology.”

He said the solution provides his company with a robust platform enabling them to serve customers more efficiently and seamlessly across online and physical formats.

Zuellig Pharma, one of the largest healthcare services groups in Asia and which serves more than 350,000 medical facilities in 13 markets, highlighted how it is making healthcare more accessible by harnessing blockchain technology to address counterfeit medicine, cross-border trading and product recalls.

Thai property company Ananda Development has invested in technological solutions for its procurement and employee management.

JustCo, a co-working space provider, said technology has helped it empower a dynamic workforce for employee experience management.

SAP executives said” “They key to success in the experience economy is having an intelligent suite of core applications, experience management solutions and a secure digital platform that unites experience and operational data and processes.”

Andresen said his company is pleased to work to transform businesses in Southeast Asia into intelligent enterprises to drive economic growth and master the experience economy. 

VN to boost use of organic fertiliser

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has set targets to increase the use of organic fertilisers by the end of next year.

It aims for the country to export half a million tonnes of the natural alternative and for the domestic market to consume three million tonnes by the end of 2020.

The target was announced at a conference yesterday in Ha Noi about producing, using and improving organic fertiliser.

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Xuan Cuong said the target was attainable because Viet Nam was on track to export about 100,000 tonnes of organic fertiliser this year.

Viet Nam has exported organic fertiliser to 35 countries so far, with the amount increasing year by year.

Last year, as many as 24 enterprises exported 86,000 tonnes, seven times more than in 2015.

Cuong said Viet Nam had great potential due to its raw materials resources.

Each year, the agricultural sector produces about 40 million tonnes of straw, sugarcane and maize dregs, more than 25 million tonnes of livestock and poultry droppings and 4.6 million tonnes of rice husks. The country has about 36,000 tonnes of brown coal in mines.

If the country could make use of these raw materials, pollution in rural areas would be reduced, said Cuong.

“Viet Nam should change to a smart, clean and organic agriculture model and consider it an indispensable trend,” said Cuong.

Nguyen Dinh Hac Thuy, chairman of the Fertiliser Association of Vietnam, agreed, saying that with efforts from the central to grassroots level, the country has set up a foundation for organic production.

More than 2,400 organic fertiliser products are in circulation in Viet Nam, 3.5 times more than in 2017.

Many organic fertiliser plants were equipped with modern production lines to make high-quality products, said Thuy.

Minister Cuong proposed completing policies related to organic fertiliser by finalising the Law on Cultivation and preferential policies for enterprises investing in agriculture and rural areas.

Hoang Trung, director of the Plant Protection Department, said that over recent years, fertiliser management has been tightened with a system of laws and policies.

Quality standards were being compiled including laboratory supervision and fertiliser tests.

Trung said to promote quality organic products, experts should conduct studies on environmentally friendly fertiliser, improve the soil and give more training to improve farmers awareness of the long-term effect of organic solutions.

Nguyen Hong Lam, chairman of the Que Lam Groups board of directors, said that to foster fertiliser production, it is most important to build customers trust.

If farmers avoid chemical fertilisers, they will have better health and clean agricultural products for consumers, said Lam.

Seafood exports pick up but challenges continue

While seafood exports increased slightly in July, Viet Nam continues to face challenges, experts told a conference held by the Viet Nam Association for Seafood Exporters and Producers in HCM City on August 28.

Exports in the first seven months were worth US$4.7 billion, down 0.2 per cent from a year earlier, but 9 per cent up month-on-month in July.

While exports of tuna and crustaceans such as crab and sentinel crab remained strong, rising by 20.3 per cent and 22.7 per cent year-on-year, main export items such as shrimp and shark catfish, which account for 60 per cent of total exports, were down from last year.

Shrimp, which accounts for nearly 38 per cent of exports, recovered in July after a weak performance since the beginning of the year.

Exports to Japan increased by 11.3 per cent year-on-year, and other markets apart from the EU and Korea too saw increases.

Shipments to China were up dramatically in July.

Truong Dinh Hoe, general secretary of VASEP, said while one of Viet Nam's strengths is aquaculture, it still has to import large volumes of raw seafood for processing and exporting, leading to higher prices and lower competitiveness.

It imported $1.7 billion worth of seafood last year.

Hoe said this is due to many reasons like diseases and climate change affecting supply, inconsistent quality and unstable markets.

He also warned that other countries are becoming more and more successful in farming shark catfish and shrimp, and Viet Nam is thus set to face tougher competition.

With shrimp and shark catfish exports forecast to fall by 3 - 4 per cent this year, VASEP plans to offer more assistance to businesses by pushing for more favourable policies, helping them overcome technical barriers, trade facilitation, and promotion of Vietnamese seafood.

It urged businesses to adopt modern technologies in aquaculture and focus on traceability of products and sustainable development.

Last year's seafood exports were worth nearly $9 billion, a 6 percent increase from 2017 as against a target of 10 per cent.

The target for this year is $10 billion. 

Viet Nam’s customs coordinates with USAID to facilitate trade

The General Department of Vietnam Customs and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) are working to promote the Trade Facilitation Programme (TFP) with a focus on improving specialised inspection of import and exports.

TFP, funded by the USAID, was approved by the Prime Minister in May this year. The Ministry of Finance is the project manager and the Customs Department was assigned to implement the project.

The five-year, US$21.7 million programme, aims to reform, standardise, harmonise and simplify administrative procedures in import and export activities in line with international standards.

“The programme helps reform specialised inspection procedures and improve the effectiveness of the National Single Window (NSW) system. This is a field that is very much related to many ministries and agencies,” Mai Xuan Thanh, deputy director of General Department of Vietnam Customs, said at the meeting on Tuesday with other local ministries and USAID experts.

Thanh expected the ministries and sectors to actively coordinate with the customs authority and USAID experts to implement the programme.

According to a USAID representative, Viet Nam has become one of the most open economies in the world in the last two decades. However, inadequacies in clearance procedures of goods are hindering the country’s trade competitiveness.

Specialised inspection involves many ministries and industries which has caused significant delays in goods clearance, raising costs for small- and medium-sized enterprises.

TFP aims to support the Vietnamese customs and specialised inspection agencies to adopt and implement a risk management approach, which will strengthen the implementation of the World Trade Organisation’s Trade Facilitation Agreement. This will also help Viet Nam achieve its development goals while reducing trade time and costs, the USAID representative said.

According to the ASEAN National Steering Committee for Single Window (ASW), NSW and trade facilitation Commission 1899, in 2015, 13 ministries and sectors issued lists of 82,698 goods subject to specialised inspection.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) has the largest number of 65,185 items, accounting for nearly 79 per cent of the country’s total. Other ministries with high numbers of specialised inspection requirements include the ministries of Health (5,730), Industry and Trade (5,096), Science and Technology (3,434), Transport (1,433) and Information and Communications (1,034).

Ending April this year, the list of specialised inspection goods decreased to 70,087.

The Vietnamese Government has taken drastic measures to improve the business and investment environment, enhance national competitiveness and promote business equality.

In September last year, the Prime Minister signed a decision on approving the action plan to promote the NSW, ASW mechanism, reforming specialised inspection of import and export foods for the 2018-20 period, with a goal of reducing the proportion of goods subject to specialised inspection to below 10 per cent by 2020. 

Customs sector fights fraud in goods origin

The General Department of Customs has required the customs departments of provinces and cities to intensify inspections to fight origin-related fraud, violations of intellectual property (IP) rights and illegal transport of import and export goods.

It has also instructed provincial and municipal customs agencies to supervise and control those issues according to existing regulations.

The general department said that it has discovered an increase in trade fraud in connection with goods labelling and IP rights.

It said relevant forces have uncovered many cases in which imported goods were labelled “Made in Vietnam”, “Manufactured in Vietnam” and “Originated in Vietnam”, or labels on product packaging and warranty card in Vietnamese for consumption in Viet Nam.

Traders have taken advantage of legal documents on not requiring sub-labels at customs clearance to import goods and then not attaching sub-labels but changing labels, packages and the names of goods for domestic consumption.

The general department also detected the import of goods with counterfeit registered trademarks, or the transport of counterfeit goods and goods violating IP rights.

For goods imported to Viet Nam with the aim of getting special preferential tax under free trade agreements, importers used fake or invalid certificates of origin (C/O) to implement customs procedures or declare false information on the C/O.

A number of enterprises, including foreign-invested ones, import raw materials, semi-finished products, components and spare parts for production, processing and assembly, but their products for export do not undergo processing and manufacturing stages or undergo simple processing, manufacturing and assembling stages that do not meet the origin criteria prescribed.

However, they still label the products with Vietnamese origin when exporting. Some enterprises imported goods with the aim of legalising goods’ dossiers or applying for C/O to give the goods Vietnamese origin, for exporting to a third country. 

Social enterprises and sustainable development

Viet Nam has issued policies to help the business sector to create social impact, however, these policies need to be accompanied by actions, an expert has said.

The statement was made by Catherine Phuong, United Nations Development Programme's (UNDP)'s Assistant Country Director at a conference held in Ha Noi yesterday.

The event aimed to support social enterprises and enhance the social responsibility of Vietnamese enterprises.

At the same time, the conference hoped to spread information to organisations and individuals on the mission of sustainable development and propose ways to hit sustainable development goals via dialogue between policymakers and enterprise.

The concept of social enterprises is new in Viet Nam but it has developed significantly in recent years around the world.

Currently, Viet Nam has about 200 organisations considered full social enterprises. In addition, there are thousands of organisations and businesses with some characteristics of social enterprises.

These social enterprises operate quite effectively, contributing to solving social and environmental issues such as vocational training for children of poor families, ethnic minorities and people with disabilities.

However, social enterprises face many difficulties like poor access to financial resources, limited management capacity and the lack of support and capacity enhancing services.

In addition, communication and brand development for social enterprises faces many difficulties due to limited public awareness about this type of business.

According to Phuong, Viet Nam has an impressive start-up ecosystem and allows for rapid development.

For businesses to create a sustainable social impact, the UNDP proposed policies to support access to financial resources, support market development and business expansion to create social impact, and building capacity and strengthening co-ordination.

The event was organised by Economy and Forecast Review, under the Ministry of Planning and Investment in co-operation with the Institute for Brand and Competitiveness Strategy. 

 
 
 
 
 
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