BUSINESS NEWS 4/6

Fresh FDI approvals at record high in Jan-May

BUSINESS NEWS 4/6

Fresh foreign direct investment (FDI) approvals nationwide in the year to May 20 rose by a staggering 69% to a four-year high of over US$16.7 billion, according to the Foreign Investment Agency under the Ministry of Planning and Investment.

The agency’s data shows that the country saw fresh FDI pledges totaling more than US$2.1 billion this month, bringing the five-month figure to US$16.7 billion, compared with the same periods in 2016, 2017 and 2018 at US$10.1 billion, US$12.1 billion and US$9.9 billion, respectively.

Meanwhile, the foreign inflow from mergers and acquisitions was 2.8 times higher than in the year-ago period.

FDI projects reported a total disbursement of US$7.3 billion in the five-month period, up 7.8% from a year earlier.

According to the agency, foreign investors poured roughly US$6.5 billion into more than 1,300 newly licensed projects in the period, marking a year-on-year rise of 38.7% in value.

This period also saw 505 operational FDI projects raising their capital by over US$2.6 billion, up 5.5% against the year-ago period.

These investors also conducted a total of 3,160 transactions to contribute capital and acquire shares in local companies with a combined value of some US$7.6 billion, making up 46% of the total capital pledges.

New FDI capital was mainly poured into the processing and manufacturing sector, at over US$10.5 billion, accounting for a whopping 72% of the total. Following this sector were real estate, at US$1.1 billion, and wholesale and retail, at US$743 million.

Among the 88 countries and territories making fresh investments in Vietnam, Hong Kong took first place, with US$5.08 billion. The most notable transaction was that of Hong Kong Beer Co., which spent US$3.85 billion acquiring a stake in Vietnam Beverage Co., Ltd, a local unit of Thai Beverage Public Co., Ltd.

South Korea came second, with over US$2.6 million, while the third place went to Singapore, with US$2.09 billion.

During the period, Hanoi City attracted the largest proportion of capital commitments, at some US$4.8 billion, followed by HCMC, at US$2.7 billion, and the southern province of Binh Duong, at US$1.25 billion.

As of May 20, the country had over 28,600 valid projects worth a combined US$350.5 billion, of which FDI projects accounted for nearly US$199 billion, 56.7% of the total.

Khanh Hoa hotels face price cut pressure from oversupply

There are more hotels in the south-central province of Khanh Hoa than needed, leading Chinese travel agencies to demand steep hotel room tariff cuts and the elimination of deposits for hotel bookings.

Data from the provincial Department of Tourism show that the number of tourists visiting the province surged during the first four months of the year, recording a total of 2.16 million local and international tourists, up over 20% year-on-year. The number of Chinese accounted for the majority, at 1.2 million tourist arrivals.

However, room occupancy rates dropped sharply in the given period, ranging between 42% and 54%, while those recorded in the year-ago period ranged from 63% to 76%.

Some hotel operators in the province told the Saigon Times that their businesses were facing hardships as both the room occupancy rate and hotel tariffs had plummeted, mainly triggered by the oversupply of hotels. The newly launched hotels, condotels and homestays offered by local residents had resulted in an abundance of rental accommodations.

Nguyen Anh Vu, general manager of the four-star Rosaka Nha Trang Hotel, said that the hotel’s room occupancy rate had been some 50% over the past two months, much lower than the year-ago figure of 85%.

Confirming the oversupply, Nguyen Van Thanh, vice chairman of Nha Trang-Khanh Hoa Tourism Association, said that Chinese travel firms now tend to book hotel rooms at the last minute, instead of making reservations months or even a year in advance as they had done previously. Moreover, they required low room rates, small deposits and short-term contracts.

Only a few hotel operators managed to sign deals with deposits with their Chinese partners, and these contracts were usually only valid for a few months.

Many hotels could not offer room rental services to some Chinese partners as they had agreed to pay only VND600,000-VND650,000 per night per room, far lower than normal. Other four-star hotel’s room rates were some VND700,000 per night, 30% lower than those offered at other coastal destinations.

A local hotel owner, who wished to remain anonymous, said that the Chinese firms had demanded hotel room tariff cuts since they knew local hotel operators had an abundant supply of rooms and were in dire need of clients.

The source added that many condotel owners had offered a room for six people at a rate of VND900,000 per night, so each one was charged only VND150,000, placing significant pressure on traditional hotel operators.

Also, statistics revealed at a conference on hospitality indicated that the number of hotel rooms rises by 10,000 annually and is forecast to reach 50,000 by the end of the year. As of the first quarter of this year, over 41,000 rooms were available for rent in the province.

NA orders solutions to prevent transfer of property to foreigners

The National Assembly’s (NA’s) supervision delegation has asked the Government to issue policies to prevent the Vietnamese people from buying land lots and apartments and transferring them to foreigners.

At a discussion today, May 27, as part of the NA’s seventh sitting, Vu Hong Thanh, head of the NA's Economic Committee, delivered a report on the deployment of policies and laws on the planning, management and use of land in urban areas since the 2013 Land Law took effect.

Although there are no official statistics on the ownership of Vietnamese property by foreigners, the demand has surged, according to real estate insiders.

A report by property service provider CB Richard Ellis (CBRE) showed that foreigners, especially Chinese, have expressed keen interest in the real estate market in HCMC over the last three years.

In the January-September period last year, foreigners buying apartments in HCMC through CBRE Vietnam made up 76% of the total, where 31% were Chinese.

The rate was only 2% in 2016 and 4% in 2017, which proves that the Chinese are showing increasing interest in the high-end property segment in HCMC.

Current regulations set the ceiling of foreign ownership in realty projects at 30% of the total number of houses or apartments. However, local agencies have yet to work out solutions to record the total number of apartments owned by foreigners.

Thanh also mentioned many other shortcomings in the management and use of property products.

Specifically, Danang City and Hai Duong, Quang Nam, Ben Tre and Ca Mau provinces have yet to get approval for adjustments to their land use plans. In addition, the development of social infrastructure projects has failed to meet the demand, Thanh said.

In Hanoi and HCMC, land for traffic projects accounts for only 9% of the total land space, while the rate should be 20%-26% in central cities, 18%-23% in satellite cities and 16%-20% in towns. Further, the ratio of parking areas to urban construction land is currently less than 1%, lower than the requirement of 3%-4%.

Violations in build-transfer projects and the use of military land and land for cultural works were also pointed out.

Moreover, appointments of investors and contractors, land transfers and the conversion of land use purposes have not been handled in a transparent manner. Further, the values of land lots were not appraised based on market prices, causing losses for the State budget and leading to complaints and lawsuits from locals, Thanh Nien Online newspaper reported.

Some localities failed to fulfill their duties in collecting land use fees, such as Hanoi, Haiphong, Bac Giang, Khanh Hoa, Dong Nai and Binh Duong.

Thanh also mentioned violations in taking back land lots to make room for projects, site clearance compensation and resettlement, such as in the Thu Thiem New Urban project in HCMC’s District 2.

Therefore, the NA’s supervision delegation asked the Government to direct ministries, agencies and localities to work out effective solutions to address these shortcomings, clarify the responsibilities of related individuals and organizations, impose sanctions on offenders and report the results to the NA at its 10th sitting in October next year.

Deputy Hoang Quang Ham from Phu Tho Province agreed with the NA’s supervision delegation, adding that penalties should be handed down to both State officials and enterprises involved in land-related violations.

The Vietnam News Agency cited deputy Ly Tiet Hanh from Binh Dinh Province as saying that many plots of land are being used wastefully, while the quality of urban planning activities remains poor.

Also, the urban land bank has yet to be exploited effectively to contribute to the country’s socioeconomic development. As a result, land-related problems have become obstacles to improving the business environment and national competitiveness, Hanh added.

She proposed the Government review the management and use of land lots across the country to prevent the waste of land.

In addition, contradictory regulations should be eliminated, such as provisions in the Land Law and the Law on the Auction of Assets.

She also suggested supplementing more specific regulations on the division and allocation of land and the auction of land use rights.

CBU auto imports exceed 50,000 units in Jan-Apr

Vietnam’s import of completely-built-up (CBU) cars in April exceeded 10,800 units, taking the total in the first four months to over 50,600 units, according to the General Department of Vietnam Customs.

This marked the first time that the country had imported up to 50,600 CBU cars of all kinds, worth an estimated US$1.14 billion, during the four-month period, according to the customs department.

Of these, cars with nine seats or less accounted for some 36,200 units, while the country imported 119 cars with more than nine seats and over 13,000 trucks. These automobiles were mainly imported from Thailand and Indonesia.

The skyrocketing number of CBU automobile imports was also reflected in the sales figures of local automobile traders.

According to data from the Vietnam Automobile Manufacturers’ Association, 60,300 locally assembled cars were sold in the first four months, falling 11% year-on-year, while sales of CBU automobiles rose by a staggering 202%, at over 38,900 units.

Statistics from the customs department also showed that imports of automobile parts and accessories totaled more than US$310 million last month, down 8.5% month-on-month. These automobile products were mainly imported from South Korea, China, Japan and Thailand.

In general, the country’s total import volume of car parts and accessories during the four-month period hit almost US$1.3 billion, up over 21% year-on-year. Meanwhile, the export volume of these items was worth US$2.82 billion, rising 4.5% against last year’s figure.

Danang-based small hotels hindered from seeing sustainable growth

Many one-to-three-star hotels in the central coastal city of Danang are struggling to achieve sustainable development due to unethical business practices and volatile business operations.

The number of hotels in the city has been rising constantly but the business performance of hotel segments is diverse and does not target a common goal, such as developing the local hospitality sector.

While internationally branded four-to-five-star hotels boast robust and sustainable growth, the one-to-three-star facilities are facing obstacles in operations, said Ho Nguyen Phuong Chi, chairwoman of the Danang Hotel Association, at a meeting on the tourist accommodation business on May 27 in the city.

Many small hotels have had their general managers and sales directors replaced with new ones regularly, even within two months, when sales figures or room occupancy rates failed to meet targets set by hotel investors.

According to Chi, this frequent change in personnel would give hotel managers very little time to study the market and adopt measures to improve service quality, resulting in lower-than-expected sales.

Aside from sales pressure from investors, unethical business practices, among many other causes, were blamed for the 10%-15% sales cuts recorded at one-to-three-star hotels, according to Truong Thi Hong Hanh, deputy director of the municipal Department of Tourism.

During recent holidays, many complaint letters were sent to the department, claiming that some tourists who had earlier booked hotel rooms through online travel agents could not get rooms when they arrived or had their bookings canceled without prior notice as the hotel owners had received other bookings with higher payments.

Hanh pointed out that this was an unethical business practice and would harm the hotels’ prestige as tourists would leave negative reviews on online travel booking websites and travel review platforms.

Negative reviews of a single poorly performing hotel would affect the city’s reputation among tourists, Hanh added.

Further, to avoid revenue losses, Chi advised investors in newly established small hotels to have a backup fund that would last at least six months after the launch, instead of putting extra sales pressure on hotel managers.

As of May this year, the city was home to 813 rental accommodations, up 100 units year-on-year, with 81 four-to-five-star hotels, over 600 one-to-three-star hotels and the remainder being hostels and tourist villas.

Dong Thap bans farming and trading red crayfish

The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development of Dong Thap Province has ordered local residents and organizations not to farm, trade, transport or store red swamp crayfish, or they will be heavily penalized.

The department’s deputy director, Vo Van Ngoan, told the Saigon Times on Monday that the department has asked local districts and towns to raise public awareness of the adverse effects of the invasive alien species on the environment and agricultural production.

If red crayfish are released into the environment, prompt action will be needed to locate and destroy them, he added.

The instructions came out after the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development released an official letter on May 17 requiring the General Department of Vietnam Customs, the General Department of Market Surveillance, local governments across the country and relevant agencies to join forces to prevent the crayfish from entering the country.

According to the ministry, the crayfish poses a significant risk to the country as it can survive harsh conditions, multiply quickly, compete strongly with other endemic creatures for food, plague crops and damage dikes, among other negative effects. Therefore, it must be completely banned from entering Vietnam.

The crackdown began after several batches of crayfish appeared on the domestic market.

Anti-smuggling authorities in the northern mountainous province of Lao Cai have frequently intercepted illicit imports of red crayfish from neighboring China. Between May 1 and 22, they seized 945 kilograms of the species.

When investigative agencies inspected 18 seafood markets in Hanoi, they did not find any violations. This could mean that the trade and consumption of red crayfish mainly takes place on social media, such as Facebook.

Le Tran Nguyen Hung, deputy head of the Directorate of Fisheries’ Department of Aquatic Resources Conservation and Development, told Sai Gon Giai Phong newspaper that the Research Institute for Aquaculture No.1 had imported and raised the crayfish on a trial basis since 2002.

The institute later found that the alien species could cause adverse effects on the country’s biodiversity. Therefore, the Ministry of Fisheries, currently known as the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, placed a ban on farming the species.

Financial center project in Thu Thiem attracts investors

Local enterprises and those from Australia, Singapore and the United States have expressed interest in a financial center project in Thu Thiem New Urban Area in District 2, HCMC, which requires an estimated VND5 trillion (US$213.6 million) in funding.

The domestic firms are Refrigeration Electric Engineering Corporation, HCMC Finance and Investment Company (HFIC) and a consortium of 216 Corporation and Van Phu Invest Company. The foreign firms are a consortium of Australia-based Sakkara and Singapore-based GIC and the United States’ Steelman Partners.

The project is one of the 210 projects that the city has prioritized for investment this year.

The Thu Thiem New Urban Area Management Board is coordinating with the relevant departments and agencies to choose investors for the financial center complex on two land lots at Thu Thiem Peninsula's functional zone No. 1. The two land lots have been cleared to make room for the project.

The financial center complex is designed to cover nearly 14,500 square meters and will include two towers with 20-50 floors each. The towers are expected to be built between 2019 and 2021.

Meanwhile, HFIC has worked with Fulbright University Vietnam and the relevant departments and agencies to draw up a plan to develop the city into an international financial center. HFIC is consulting with the relevant units to take the plan forward.

According to experts, HCMC is a financial hub of the country, but it has yet to develop into an international hub.

In addition to developing a financial center, the city should enhance the application of technology to its financial services, build more seaports and make conditions favorable for large financial groups.

Over 100 containers of Vietnamese mangoes shipped to U.S.

Vietnam exported 103 containers of local mangoes to the United States as of May 15, almost one month since a ceremony was held in Dong Thap Province to announce the first shipment of the fruit to the U.S. market.

Luong Ngoc Trung Lap, former head of the market research department of the Southern Fruit Research Institute, confirmed the export volume of mangoes to the Saigon Times. He added that the local mangoes were licensed to enter the United States on February 18 this year, after 10 years of negotiations.

To date, four Mekong Delta provinces---Dong Thap, Vinh Long, An Giang and Tien Giang---have reportedly exported the fruit to the United States.

Also, the Plant Protection Department at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has granted 99 mango growing area codes to southern provinces that met requirements for exporting mangoes to selective markets, including the United States.

 

Mangoes are the sixth local fruit to receive approval from the United States to enter this selective market after dragon fruit, rambutans, longans, litchis and star apples.

Apart from the United States, Vietnam’s mangoes have been shipped to 40 countries in the world, according to Lap.

Still no tariff incentives from CPTPP for local firms

Although the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) took effect over four months ago, local firms have yet to enjoy tax incentives, stated a customs official.

Nguyen Huu Hiep, deputy head of the HCMC Customs Department, told the Saigon Times that a decree guiding tax incentives has yet to be issued.

“Without the guidance decree, customs agencies and businesses cannot implement such incentives,” Hiep said on the sidelines of a roundtable discussion on tax policy and customs procedures in adopting the CPTPP, held by the Vietnam Customs newspaper in HCMC today, May 28.

His department has received scores of questions from the business community on the process for applying for a tax refund if the decree is out. However, customs officials do not have sufficient information to answer their questions.

Local firms import many kinds of products that are not included on the list of goods with tax reductions to zero, so they may not get any tax incentives, according to Hiep.

Speaking at the discussion, Vu Nhu Thang, head of the International Cooperation Department under the Ministry of Finance, said that the draft of the decree on tax incentives in the CPTPP has been submitted to the Government for consideration.

Thang revealed that the ministry is improving the draft, which will be issued later this month or next month.

Once the decree is issued and takes effect, local importers and exporters will receive a tax refund if the rates of import and export taxes at the time of payment are higher than those of the tax incentives provided by the CPTPP.

He said that local firms would be subject to some requirements to be eligible for the tax incentive scheme. For example, their commodities must be on the list of goods for tariff reduction or exemption.

They also have to provide certificates of origin and bills of lading to prove their goods were shipped to a member state of the trade pact.

The CPTPP came into force in Vietnam on January 14. It has 11 member states, namely Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

Under the trade pact, other member states will abolish some 78%-95% of tariff lines on Vietnamese ordinary goods in the next five to 10 years. By the end of the tax reduction schedule, they will remove up to 98%-100% of tariff lines.

Meanwhile, Vietnam will immediately eliminate 65.8% of tariff lines for its partners, and by the 11th year, the country will slash up to 97.8% of these lines for its partners.

The pact is expected to increase Vietnam’s GDP and exports by 1.32 and 4.04 percentage points, respectively, by 2035. The total revenue from imports will rise by 3.8 points, lower than the incremental growth of exports, according to the Ministry of Planning and Investment.

Corporate bond rates remain at minimum 12% annually

Many companies in Vietnam recently issued corporate bonds to raise capital, with annual coupons of at least 12%, much higher than bank bonds.

Phat Dat Real Estate Development JSC, whose headquarters is in HCMC’s District 7, had agreed to issue bonds worth VND300 billion, with annual interest rates of 12% and 14.45%. Also, the property developer announced on May 20 its third issuance of five-year bonds to raise VND500 billion.

Besides this, Van Phu – Invest Investment JSC announced in mid-May that it had successfully issued VND800 billion in over-three-year bonds, with the annual interest rate being 12%.

Similar to local firms, multiple banks in the country have announced their plans to issue bonds to raise capital this year.

According to the Vietnam Bank for Industry and Trade (VietinBank), it has received the green light from the State Bank of Vietnam to issue VND10 trillion in bonds to the public, and it was allowed to decide the annual interest rate. Vietinbank now holds over VND32 trillion in bonds.

Also, the Asia Commercial Bank (ACB) had agreed to a plan to implement the second bond issuance under a private placement this year, with the value of two-to-three bonds totaling VND5.5 trillion.

ACB will issue these bonds over five periods and apply fixed interest rates during the issuances. However, the annual interest rate must not exceed 6.75% for three-year bonds and 6.7% for two-year bonds.

The ACB’s first bond issuance under the private offering was implemented in early April, with the total value of bonds reaching VND2.5 trillion.

Data from the State Securities Commission shows that the balance of the local corporate bond market in late 2018 was over VND400 trillion, up 53% year-on-year. Most corporate bond issuances were implemented under the private placement plan.

The local bond market continued to show positive signs during the year. According to figures publicized by listed firms, there was over VND9 trillion in bonds issued in the first quarter, much higher than the year-ago figure of some VND2.8 trillion.

Vietnam looks promising for FDI: Reed Tradex

Vietnam, with its open economy and significant progress in improving the local business environment, is considered promising for foreign investors, stated a representative of Reed Tradex Vietnam.

Phan Ngan, project director at Reed Tradex Vietnam, an ASEAN exhibition organizer, said that the country has expanded exports to more than 230 foreign markets and signed over 90 bilateral trade agreements and some 60 protection investment agreements to support local firms with overseas business expansion plans.

In addition, the country’s improved business environment is expected to attract a large number of investors in the manufacturing and industrial sectors, he said.

Vietnam is now home to over 10,000 active foreign firms, including global giants like Intel, Samsung and LG, which have plans to expand their businesses in the country.

South Korea-based electronics firm LG recently announced a plan to move its electronic product manufacturing plant from South Korea to Vietnam. This is forecast to increase the annual capacity of the smartphone manufacturing plant in Vietnam by 83%, equivalent to an output of 11 million electronic devices in the second half of the year.

Besides this, Japan saw a record number of Japanese-invested projects in Vietnam last year, at 603 projects, with total investment of some US$8 billion, according to Hironobu Kitagawa, chief executive of the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) in Hanoi.

Every year, JETRO conducts surveys on Japanese firms running businesses in Vietnam. Nearly 70% of respondents in a 2018 survey said that they expected to expand their businesses in the country. The intention to expand in Vietnam also remained strong among foreign firms from other ASEAN countries, the JETRO representative said.

However, the low localization rate remains one of the main obstacles faced by Japanese firms in the country, he said.

The localization rate, presently at over 36%, inches up every year but remains low compared with figures seen in China and Thailand, at 66% and 57%, respectively. As a result, many Japanese firms in the country have had to import more materials and accessories from neighboring countries, such as China and Thailand.

The low localization rate has resulted in rising production costs for firms operating in the manufacturing sector, hindering them from maintaining long-term operations in Vietnam.

Apart from that, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) operating in the supporting industries are facing other difficulties in operations due to inadequate policies in support of SMEs.

JETRO concluded that Vietnam would be an important investment destination to more Japanese firms if the obstacles facing the supporting industries were removed.

Golf course project in Can Tho approved

The Government has passed Vinpearl’s plan to develop the 18-hole Au Islet golf course near Can Tho Bridge in Can Tho City’s Cai Rang District.

Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung on May 29 signed Decision 645 approving the investment in the golf course, which is set to cover 77.31 hectares and require total capital of over VND1.13 trillion.

Expected to operate for 50 years, the Au Islet golf course will be completed and put into service in the first quarter of 2021.

Under the decision, the Government asked the Can Tho government to assume responsibility for information and data reported in the project papers in line with the prevailing regulations.

The municipal government was also asked to direct the competent agencies to inspect and supervise site clearance, resettlement and training processes and ensure the investor keeps its commitments in terms of providing job opportunities for affected laborers, advancing the project and complying with environment regulations.

Besides this, the Government required the investor, Vinpearl, to abide by regulations on investment, construction, land, environment and natural water resources during the execution of the project; ensure capital injection and mobilization for the projected golf course; and bear responsibility for the efficiency of the project.

In addition to the projected golf course, Novaland Group’s Azerai Can Tho Resort is already operational on the 130-hectare Au islet.

Thai tourists flock to Vietnam

Thai tourist arrivals in Vietnam in the first five months of 2019 surged by 47.5% versus the year-ago period to 216,000 visitors, pushing Thailand to the eighth spot among Vietnam’s top 10 source markets.

The past four months saw many Thai holidaymakers coming to Vietnam in spite of the normal growth of the source market in the first month of the year.

The highest growth rate was posted at 78.3% in March, while the lowest stood at 33.5% against the year-ago period.

Some tour operators said that Thai visitors have shown great interest in multiple tourist destinations in central Vietnam, mainly Danang City. They tend to choose four-day tours to Hue City, Hoi An Town and Danang City.

The number of Thai tourists traveling to Vietnam by air has accounted for a large proportion of the total in recent years.

“Danang City alone has seven flights from Bangkok and one from Chiangmai land in the city each day,” said Nguyen Son Thuy, director of Indochina Unique Tourist Co., which has experience in the Thai market, adding that the source market is growing strongly.

Meanwhile, China as Vietnam’s largest source market has been on a downward trend during the five-month period. Over 2.1 million Chinese tourists travelled to Vietnam between January and May, down 8% year-on-year.

South Korea, the country’s second largest market, is bridging the gap with China. In the five-month period, more than 1.76 million South Korean visitors arrived in Vietnam, rising 22.4% year-on-year.

Even though Vietnam has attracted an estimated 7.3 million international tourists so far this year, growing by 8.8% from the year-ago period, the growth rate is reported to have slowed. The number of international tourist arrivals in the country has improved by 27.6% during the same period last year.

HCMC may oversee HCMC-Moc Bai expressway project execution

The Ministry of Transport may propose the Government appoint HCMC to oversee the execution of the HCMC-Moc Bai expressway, connecting the city with Tay Ninh Province.

Minister of Transport Nguyen Van The on May 29 worked with the leaders of Tay Ninh Province and HCMC on the construction of the expressway.

To break ground for the project as soon as possible, HCMC and Tay Ninh Province reached a consensus to propose the prime minister and the Ministry of Transport assign the municipal government as the State agency responsible for organizing and deploying the project.

Besides this, Tay Ninh Province proposed using State funding for the construction, rather than official development assistance (ODA) capital.

Accordingly, HCMC will extract over VND2.2 trillion in support capital from the State budget for the project, while Tay Ninh will spend VND2.77 trillion on it. The capital will be used for site clearance.

A representative of Tay Ninh Province explained that the use of ODA capital would increase pressure on the public debt and meet with administrative difficulties in receiving the loan.

After the meeting with the leaders of the two localities, Minister The passed a plan to propose the Government hand over the project to the local governments, with HCMC acting as the agency in charge, in cooperation with the Tay Ninh government, the Ministry of Transport and other relevant agencies and departments, to speed up the project.

He noted that the ministry had thrown its weight behind the likelihood that the local governments would extract part of their local budgets for the project’s site clearance effort to ensure it goes smoothly.

According to the prefeasibility report for the 53.5-kilometer HCMC-Moc Bai expressway project, the road will start at Ring Road No.3 in the city’s outlying district of Hoc Mon and end at the Moc Bai border gate.

The expressway will be built in two sections: a 33-kilometer section running from HCMC to Trang Bang and a 20.5-kilometer section from Trang Bang to Moc Bai.

The HCMC-Trang Bang section is scheduled to have four lanes with a maximum allowed speed of 120 kilometers per hour. The Trang Bang-Moc Bai section was designed as a four-lane road with a maximum allowed speed of 80 kilometers per hour.

Vietnam F&B team member among finalists for Airport FAB awards

Airport restaurateur Autogrill VFS F&B has celebrated the impressive news revealed in the short-list for the annual worldwide Airport FAB Awards.

In the category of F&B Team Member of the Year, Mai Vu Binh Minh from Danang International Airport has joined eight other finalists who come from the busiest airports in the U.S. and Europe such as Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, Montréal Elliot Trudeau International Airport, Tampa International Airport, Boston Logan International Airport and Amsterdam Airport Schiphol.

The Airport Food & Beverage (FAB) Conference & Awards, organized by The Moodie Davitt Report, will be hosted by Dallas Fort Worth International Airport at The Westin Galleria Dallas on 26-27 June.

The only industry event dedicated solely to the airport F&B sector, FAB attracts senior representatives from the world’s leading airports, food & beverage concessionaires and brands.

“I started my career in Danang Airport as a server and part of the opening team. For the past eight years, the company has facilitated a development program to support and coach me to become a team leader, supervisor, then assistant restaurant manager, and manager of the two Burger King restaurants in Danang Airport since May 2017.” Binh Minh said.

“I’m just a local girl that was fortunate enough to join and work in such a dynamic, professional and world-class environment like Autogrill VFS F&B, the leading food and beverage operator at international airports in Vietnam,” she said.

Autogrill VFS F&B managing director Simon Stansfield said: “Binh Minh is an absolute example of Vietnam’s enthusiastic younger generation and of the Danang people. Her journey is not one of self-promotion or self-ambition, it is a story of sacrifice and dedication, motivated by selflessness, in which she tackles life head on and always with a smile.”

He continued: “Working with Binh Minh and watching her successfully progress as part of our company is the greatest pleasure and privilege of our Vietnam team and one in which I am proud to be part of.”

Binh Minh herself took out the ‘Fastest Whopper’ challenge at the 2017 Burger King APAC convention in Shanghai. She has always demonstrated strong leadership capabilities and pushed the Danang International Burger King outlet to regularly become the highest turnover and greatest performer in terms of quality assurance and customer service at the outlets Autogrill VFS F&B operates across the five major airports in Vietnam.

This year’s FAB Awards attracted a record 302 entries, 18% up on last year’s record level. The judging line-up was extended to include more diversity of background, region and gender. Regular judges Martin Moodie; US airport commercial management consultant Alan Gluck; and former chef and Copenhagen Airport Food & Beverage Category Manager Anders Barsøe, now CEO for Denmark’s largest sushi chain Letz Sushi, once again played a lead role.

Time to map out a safety mode for husbandry sector

The crisis is deepening day in day out as African swine fever (ASF) has taken a toll on the husbandry sector in the country. On Friday, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development reported the deadly virus had spread to 48 out of the nation’s 63 provinces and cities, and on Saturday, Ca Mau became the 49th ASF-hit province. The rapid-fire spread of the disease throughout the country requires quick measures to ensure safety for the dwindling pig herd.

The ministry noted that over two million infected pigs have been culled, accounting for 6.5% of the national total. Damages are not only confined to the number of pigs culled, but also the free fall of pig prices as consumers are shunning pork products, causing heavy losses for farmers.

At a regular monthly meeting of the Government on the same day, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc warned that as husbandry accounts for 10% of gross domestic product from agriculture, the entire sector will see a zero growth rate if ASF outbreaks hit 30% of the total herd. That scary scenario is by no means a distant possibility, given the unstoppable spread of the disease in recent months. And that grim reality requires concerted efforts to create a safety mode for the country’s husbandry sector.

The key reason behind the quick contagion is the loosely-controlled transport of pigs from ASF-affected areas to other places free from the disease, causing outbreaks to multiply. To make matters worse, many households have dumped their dead pigs in public places or simply thrown the carcasses into springs, streams or rivers, polluting the environment and facilitating the spread of the virus.

Those ignorant behaviors were anticipated early on, and from the very beginning, authorities were determined to tighten control over pig transport on one hand, and pledged to financially support affected farmers. However, all those solutions for the most part have turned out to be lip’s service, and infected pigs are still transported from one province to another, while dead pigs are simply thrown away as farmers cannot wait for compensation.

Such loopholes need to be patched up quickly, with financial resources made ready for rescue efforts before damages go beyond control.

The agriculture ministry’s report on ASF outbreaks last Friday also gave a noteworthy insight into the crisis: most, if not all, ASF outbreaks have occurred at household, small-scale herds, while large-scale pig farms have so far remained intact. The reason is that small herds raised at households are more exposed to risks of diseases due to the absence of preventive measures, while owners of large-scale farms attend more to such risks and properly invest in such preventive measures.

Apart from ASF outbreaks, several major epidemics on pigs in the recent past have mainly happened to household, small-scale herds, including foot-and-mouth or blue-ear diseases. Such facts cannot be ignored, and if so, the next measure to take should be to impose new preventive criteria on all small-scale herds. Anyone wanting to engage in husbandry activity should be required to meet facility criteria and hygiene standards on par with those deployed at large-scale farms.

Remedial measures to tighten control over disease outbreaks as well as new criteria for facilities rearing domestic cattle of all scales should be enforced to ensure enduring safety for the sector. Otherwise, ASF and other diseases in the future can develop into pandemics, crippling the entire sector.

 
 
 
 
 
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