Belgian fries exporters penetrate deeper into Vietnam


Belgian fries exporters plan to increase their share in Vietnam’s growing market for processed potato products, and heighten awareness of Belgian fries in Vietnam and the region.

It is a five-nation promotional campaign in Southeast Asia, co-ordinated by VLAM and Belgapom, the association for the Belgian potato trade and processing industry. Accordingly, the Flanders Agricultural
Marketing Board (VLAM) has recently brought five major Belgian fries exporters to Vietnam, including Agristo, Bart’s Potato Company, Clarebout Potatoes, Ecofrost, and Mydibel.

They represented the five biggest family-owned businesses in the industry in Belgium offering a wide range of potato products and specialties that are exported to over 100 countries worldwide. The exporters
showcased their products Food & Hotel Vietnam 2019 to deeper penetrate the Vietnamese market.

“Hot on the heels of exhibiting in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Singapore, we are pleased to bring Belgian fries to Vietnam this time round as part of our plan to increase our presence in the Southeast
Asian region,” said Romain Cools from Belgapom. “There is an existing market in this region for our products, but we see an even bigger opportunity to expand exports and heighten appreciation for our
national delicacy.”

According to Cools, the consumption of potatoes and related products in Vietnam is still low at nearly 4 kilogrammes per capita per year but it has been rising over the last 30 years. Overall demand is
increasing because of a 1.1 per cent per annum increase in the population. The current population is 93 million and is expected to rise to 113 million by 2050.

“Vietnam is well-known as a food-lover’s paradise and Vietnamese consumers really know and love good food. Belgian fries are still relatively unknown in Vietnam, so we are excited about this opportunity to
share one of Belgium’s most beloved national dishes with Vietnam,” he said.

Belgium is the largest exporter of frozen fries in the world, with 90 per cent of its production sent to the global market. In 2018, Belgian companies processed an astonishing 5 million tonnes of potatoes.

Belgian fries have a long history and have become part of the country’s heritage, with many shops and stands in Belgium serving this delicious savory snack. In fact, the ubiquitous Belgian fry shops that can
be found in every city or village have been recognised as part of the cultural landscape in Belgium, with UNESCO status being sought for the dish since 2014.

Bao Viet revenue up 19% in Q1

Bao Viet Group posted nearly VND8.1 trillion (US$348 million) in insurance revenue in the first quarter of 2019, a year-on-year increase of 19 per cent.

Life insurance rose by nearly 20 per cent, reaching over VND5.53 trillion. Non-life insurance premiums brought in approximately VND2.67 trillion, up 10.5 per cent.

Total direct spending by the insurance business reached more than VND7.33 trillion, a decrease of about 3 per cent over the same period last year.

During the first quarter, the group’s financial income dropped sharply by 37 per cent to VND1.79 trillion, of which deposit interest was over VND1.01 trillion, up 73 per cent over the same period.

Income from securities investment and trading activities only reached VND41 billion while in the same period last year, the figure was nearly VND1.39 trillion.

As a result, Bao Viet reported after-tax profit of VND455 billion in the first quarter, a year-on-year decrease of 10 per cent, of which the company owner's profit was VND444.3 billion, down 8.5 per cent against Q1 in 2018.

By the end of the first quarter, Bao Viet's total assets were valued at over VND116.56 trillion, an increase of about 3 per cent compared to the beginning of the year.

Short-term assets reached more than VND72.97 trillion, up 5.3 per cent. Cash and cash equivalents reached over VND3.03 trillion, an increase of about 40 per cent year-on-year.

Vietjet’s air transport revenue increases 28% in Q1

Vietjet’s air transport revenue grew nearly 28 per cent year on year to more than VND10 trillion (US$432 million) in the first quarter of this year thanks to its continuous international flight network expansion.

During the reviewed period, Vietjet also saw a positive increase of 25.3 per cent in its pre-tax transport profit to VND923 billion ($40 million), the airline announced on Monday.

Overall, the airline’s business results in the three month period exceeded its plans with consolidated revenue reaching VND13.64 trillion and consolidated after-tax profit topping VND1.46 trillion, marking respective rises of 9 per cent and 7 per cent.

As to March 31, its equity stood at more than VND15.5 trillion, up 35 per cent year on year, according to Vietjet.

The carrier said it launched six new routes from January to March, raising the total number of its routes to 111. In the period, it operated more than 33,600 flights on its route network covering destinations in Viet Nam and Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia, Cambodia and mainland China.

The new-age airline has targeted nearly VND42.3 trillion air transport revenue by the end of this year, 25 per cent higher than last year’s figure. It also hopes to earn air transport profit of VND3.8 trillion this year.

According to Vietjet, it plans to open 20 new international routes by the year-end, transporting nearly 28 million passengers.

Vietcombank offers preferential loans with low interest rates

The Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Foreign Trade of Vietnam (Vietcombank) has announced two super-preferential loan programmes.

Specifically, from April 1, 2019 to March 31, 2020, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) can borrow loans for business purposes for 12 months or less with preferential interest rates from 6.5 per cent per year.

The second promotion programme also applies in the same period. Accordingly, individual customers borrowing loans to buy cars, houses, business loans, consumer loans with secured assets and micro-business customers borrow medium-term business loans, car loans can enjoy attractive interest rates of only 7.5 per cent per year fixed for six months or 12 months depending on the time of borrowing from customers.

In addition, SMEs and individual customers borrowing medium and long-term loans will enjoy a fixed preferential interest rate for 2 years, 3 years or 5 years from the time of the withdrawal, which is applied to loan contracts signed and disbursed during the programme.

Vietcombank said the moves will help customers access cheap capital in the fastest and simplest way.

Gender program provides $240,000 for agriculture and tourism projects

The Gender Responsive Equitable Agriculture and Tourism (GREAT) Program had disbursed nearly $240,000 in sponsorship to its projects in northern Lao Cai and Son La provinces as at early May.

The program is a flagship initiative funded by Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and managed by DFAT-appointed Managing CowaterSogema Int., Inc in the 2017-2021 period. The provincial people’s committees of Son La and Lao Cai are the program’s key counterparts. A Vice Chair of each committee is a member of a joint GREAT Steering Committee that approves the annual work plan and budget and meets formally every six months to discuss program progress.

There are now 15 signed agreements, totaling $8.94 million in co-investment from the private sector, for business opportunities for 40,000 women and 4,000 new jobs with a focus on ethnic minority women, engaging in agriculture and tourism markets in the two provinces.

Over five years, the GREAT Program aims to impact the lives of 10 per cent of the adult female populations in Son La and Lao Cai, such as: Increase self-reported confidence, enthusiasm, and self-esteem of 80 per cent of women beneficiaries (or 32,000 women beneficiaries); Increase the number of women leading or co-managing formal businesses by 15 per cent; Increase women’s profile and roles in policy, management, strategic decision-making, and resource allocation in the agriculture and tourism market sectors; Achieve measurable improvements in gender equity and roles and norms within the families of GREAT beneficiaries; Ensure that 80 per cent of agriculture and tourism stakeholders confirm that sector plans and strategies adequately address issues that are critical for inclusive sector growth; and
Contribute to significant progress in five or more provincial policies or guidelines in the agriculture and tourism sectors.

An Giang: Exports grow sharply in four months

The Mekong Delta province of An Giang posted a surge in exports between January and April, driven by rising demand for its staple products from many markets, according to the local Department of Industry and Trade.

Deputy Director of the department Doan Minh Triet said in the first four months of 2019, An Giang’s exports increased 21.56 percent from the same period last year to reach 284.4 million USD, including 72.61 million USD in April alone – up 1.59 percent month-on-month and 2.61 percent year-on-year respectively.

Surges were seen in the shipments of several key items such as aquatic products, rice, fruits, vegetables, garment-textiles, and footwear, he said, noting that many markets like those in Asia and Europe now have a growing demand for these products.

Local rice and frozen aquatic products have been shipped to 38 and 77 countries, respectively, with 84.67 percent and 53 percent of export quantities destined for Asian markets. Meanwhile, 23 countries, including 11 European ones, have imported fruits and vegetables from An Giang.

During the reviewed period, the province imported 49.37 million USD worth of items, up 16.13 percent against the previous year’s same time.

Triet said that with its nearly 100 km of both land and waterway border with Cambodia, An Giang has two international border gates, two national border gates, and some auxiliary ones. Economic activities via these ports of entry have generated positive outcomes, helping to promote development in the province as well as the Mekong Delta region.

In the four months, trade revenue via local border gates surpassed 1 billion USD, according to the Department of Industry and Trade.

An Giang aims to reach 890 million USD in exports and 170 million USD in imports this year, up 5.95 percent and 13.33 percent from 2018, respectively.

Hoa Phat’s construction steel sales surge 30 percent in four months


Steel production at a mill of Hoa Phat corporation

The sales of Hoa Phat construction steel grew nearly 30 percent year on year to 933,626 tonnes in the first for months of the year.

Hoa Phat Group, a major industrial group in Vietnam, said that it shipped nearly 95,000 tonnes of steel overseas during the January-April period, up 22 percent from the same time in 2018.

According to Do Minh Quy, Director of Hoa Phat Group’s branch in Ho Chi Minh City, the sales increased particularly in the civil construction area as the group was able to give better supply to the market.

Thanks to the completion of the construction steel production line at the Hoa Phat Dung Quat Iron and Steel Production Complex, the sales of steel in the southern region was 3.5 times higher than the amount recorded in the same time last year.

In April, Hoa Phat Dung Quat port welcomed the first foreign ship, BBC Switzerland, which carried technological equipment for the construction of the QSP rolling mill at the complex.

Hoa Phat Dung Quat complex is designed to have a total of 11 ports, able to handle up to 32 million tonnes of goods each year.

Hoa Phat plans to produce some 3.3 million tonnes of construction steel in 2019.

Last year, it shipped 240,000 tonnes of steel abroad, up 50.97 percent against the previous year.

Never before had the group received such large orders from its traditional markets – including Japan, the US, Cambodia, and Malaysia – like it did in 2018. The strongest growth was seen in Japan, with total steel orders increasing 20 times to over 58,500 tonnes, followed by Cambodia at a 246 percent increase and Malaysia with a rise of 202 percent.

Cambodia was the largest customer of Hoa Phat in 2018 with nearly 70,000 tonnes, and will continue to be a market with great potential for Hoa Phat steel as the neighbouring country’s steel industry has not yet developed, while demand is high for the construction of high-rise buildings.

Public investment disbursement too low in first four months of 2019

Disbursement of public investment capital was only VND68,548 billion (US$2.95 billion) from January to April this year, meeting 16.45 percent of the National Assembly target, according to the Ministry of Finance.

Reporting at a meeting presided over by deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue on public investment disbursement in the first four months of 2019, the ministry added that disbursement rate of foreign direct investment (FDI) was 2.5 percent, much lower than 6.34 percent in the first four months of 2018.

The Vice Prime Minister has made decisions allocating investment funds worth VND367,394 billion ($15.8 billion) from the state budget to ministries, agencies and localities in 2019, meeting 85.5 percent of the National Assembly target.

At the meeting, the deputy PM required ministries, agencies and localities to speed up preparation work for project implementation, select contractors according to the law to soon start work on projects and take the initiative in solving difficulties to ensure construction progress.

He asked them to intensify inspection and handle violations in implementing public investment plan, make clear responsibilities of relevant individuals who intentionally slow the disbursement progress.

Vietnam imports automobile spare parts worth US$3 billion annually

According the Industry Agency under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, domestic automobile manufacturing industry had posted fairly rapid growth in the past two years.

Last year, the country produced and assembled more than 250,000 cars, meeting about 70 percent of domestic automobile demand.

There were more than 40 firms participating in the automobile manufacturing industry.

However, most of them were small and medium-sized enterprises so their localization ratio remained low.

Some products were fully localized but application of science and technology in these products was not high.

Therefore, every year the country has to import above US$3 billion worth of components, spare parts and accessories to serve automobile assembling and repairing.

Meanwhile, localization ratio of other countries in the region is at an average of 65-70 percent with a few countries even exceeding 80 percent.

Amid the situation, the agency warned that if Vietnamese automobile manufacturers do not have solutions to raise localization ratio, it will be extremely difficult for them to compete with other automobile manufacturers, especially when the ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement takes effect, sending import tariffs of cars from countries in the ASEAN to Vietnam to zero percent.

Policymaking fails to keep pace with digital economy: experts

Vietnam’s legal framework may be three to five years late compared with the development of the digital economy, said experts at the Vietnam Private Sector Economic Forum 2019 in Hanoi on May 2.

Nearly 300 local and foreign experts gathered at a conference as part of the forum to seek ways to build institutions and adopt fundamental conditions for the development of a digital economy in Vietnam.

The digital economy is growing rapidly across all aspects of social and economic life in all countries. It will completely change the way in which production organization, service provision, business models, consumption and communication are managed, said Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment Vu Dai Thang.

Thang cited a joint study by Google and Singapore’s Temasek Holdings, noting that Vietnam’s digital economy was estimated at US$3 billion in 2015, rising to US$9 billion in 2018, and was expected to reach US$30 billion by 2025.

Australia’s leading digital research network Data61 suggested that Vietnam’s gross domestic product (GDP) may increase by US$162 billion in two decades if the country succeeds at digital transformation.

The deputy minister said that businesses are the keystone to this growth, so they should proactively seek to apply digital technology to smooth the transformation process and lay the foundation for Vietnam’s digital economy.

He pointed out four major policies for the country’s digital economic development: providing an institutional framework for digital economic business models, developing connectivity infrastructure, creating national databases and training manpower.

The amendments and supplements to regulations for sectors with new business models, such as e-commerce, digital finance and e-banking, play a crucial role in the institutional framework, he said.

Further, institutional reforms to attract investment in digital technology will be made in a way that facilitates capital contribution, share purchases and mergers and acquisitions among tech businesses.

The Ministry of Planning and Investment is working on a national strategy to capitalize on the Fourth Industrial Revolution to enable businesses to take advantage of opportunities presented by digitization, he added.

Meanwhile, Deputy Minister of Information and Communications Nguyen Thanh Hung said that his ministry has been tasked with drawing up a roadmap for the country’s digitization where at least 50% of enterprises will conduct their businesses digitally by 2025 and the digital economy will make up some 20% of the nation’s GDP.

It also sets a target for the Government to have at least 80% of its interactions with the public and businesses completed digitally by 2025.

For the sake of the digital economy’s development, Hung said that Vietnam needs to build trust in digital infrastructure among users. As a result, cybersecurity is a fundamental condition for the development of a digital infrastructure and economy.

He pointed out that data is not yet shared among ministries and agencies, so Vietnam is still in the early stages of creating a digital economy.

Bui Quang Ngoc, vice chairman of Vietnamese tech giant FPT Corporation, said that the development of a regulatory framework for the digital economy is a vital issue. “The digital economy creates new business sectors. The legalization of these new sectors needs to be executed in sync,” he said.

The greatest challenge, which is also one of Vietnam’s weakest points, is the large gap between policy-making and execution, according to Ngoc.

He added that the Government launched programs and solutions to develop the digital economy two decades ago. However, their results fell short of expectations.


He also confirmed that the public sector is an important stakeholder in stimulating the economy. Everything needs digital operations, but e-government, smart healthcare and smart transport programs are not taking full advantage of this system.

The gap between planning and enforcement is due to the lack of accountability systems and policies, especially for legal issues, such as e-transactions, e-invoices and e-contracts.

The digital economy has been booming in the last few years. It grew by over 25% last year, and the country can sustain this rate for the next two to three years, according to the Vietnam E-Commerce Association.

Held by the Government Office and the Party Central Committee’s Economic Commission, the Vietnam Private Sector Economic Forum 2019 drew the participation of policymakers, economists, academics, business representatives and delegates from international organizations.

BIM Group puts into operation three solar-power plants

BIM Group has put into operation three solar-power plants integrated with the national grid, with a capacity of 330 megawatt peak (Mwp), after nine months of construction.

The group invested VND7 trillion to develop the solar power complex including BIM 1 (30 Mwp), BIM 2 (250 Mwp) and BIM 3 (50 Mwp) in the south-central province of Ninh Thuan.

The group noted it had started constructing the solar power complex in January 2018 and had signed a power purchase contract with EVN at the end of 2018.

With more than one million solar panels installed, the cluster of three solar-power plants is expected to produce some 600 million kilowatt hours of power per year, serving the energy demand of some 200,000 households and reducing CO2 emissions by nearly 304,400 tons per year.

Doan Quoc Huy, vice chairman of BIM Group, noted that the group hopes to become a pioneer investor in renewable energy in Vietnam, expecting to provide some 1,000 Mwp of solar and wind power by 2022.

“We look forward to contributing and teaming up to protect the environment, fight climate change, support national energy security and build sustainable energy sources for the country's future,” Huy said.

BIM Energy cooperated with AC Energy of Ayala Group, one of the largest corporations in the Philippines, to establish a BIM/AC Renewable joint venture to develop renewable energy projects in Ninh Thuan.

AC Energy is one of the fastest-growing energy companies, providing more than US$2 billion to be invested in renewable and thermal energy in the Philippines and in the region by 2025.

Huy noted that BIM will continue to take advantage of its existing strengths, expand its market and cooperate with major international partners and contractors such as Bouygues of France and JUWI of Germany as well as reputable domestic contractors such as PPC1, TOJI, Song Da 4 and Lilama 18.

Fruit, vegetable exports to China lose growth momentum in Q1


A customer inspects vegetables at a supermarket. Vietnam’s exports of fruits and vegetables to China dropped in the first quarter of 2019 after years of strong growth

Vietnam’s turnover from fruit and vegetable exports to the Chinese market reportedly lost its growth momentum in the first quarter of this year, falling for the first time after many years of continuous growth.

Vietnam exported over US$680 million worth of fruit and vegetables to China in the first quarter of the year, down over 6% year-on-year.

Data from the General Department of Vietnam Customs shows that Vietnam’s total export revenue for produce in the given period reached almost US$950 million, dropping by 2.2% against the figure seen in 2018.

The fall was attributed to China’s more stringent requirements on unofficial fruit and vegetable imports, including cross-border trade activities.

Chinese customs officers earlier announced that they would not conduct customs procedures for Vietnamese green-skin grapefruit as the fruit has yet to be approved to officially enter China, according to Doan Hoai Phuong from Huong Mien Tay Company, a grapefruit supplier and exporter in Ben Tre Province.

Nguyen Dinh Tung, general director of Vina T&T Group, said that it was reasonable for China to demand only official imports and refuse products shipped through unofficial channels in order to tighten control over pesticide residues, product quality and farming locations.

However, this shift has seriously affected Vietnam’s exports of fruits and vegetables to the neighboring source market.

As a result, the Agro Processing and Market Development Authority, under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, is set to hit only a 1% year-on-year increase for local exports of these products this year.

According to Luong Ngoc Trung Lap, former head of the market research department of the Southern Fruit Research Institute and head of the sales department of Tien Giang-based Cat Tuong Agricultural Processing and Production Co., Ltd, Vietnam has to work with China to remove existing obstacles to the official export of local farm produce to China.

A report from the agriculture ministry indicates that China remains one of the largest buyers of Vietnamese fruits and vegetables.

Last year, China spent more than US$2.7 billion importing fruit and vegetables from Vietnam, rising some 5% versus expenditure in 2017.

The local fruit and vegetable sector also saw a double-digit increase in revenue for exports to the Chinese market during the 2011-2016 period.

USAID supports Vietnam SMEs in global value chains

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has introduced a US$22.1-million project to connect Vietnam’s small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with foreign partners, in order to improve their capacity to join global value chains.

SMEs in Vietnam account for a staggering 98% of all enterprises and create 63% of the nation’s jobs. These enterprises contribute 45% of the country’s gross domestic product. However, foreign direct investment (FDI) sector makes up 70% of export revenue, yet only 21% of Vietnam’s SMEs have joined supply chains for foreign enterprises.

Speaking on Friday at the Business Matching Day, as part of the Vietnam Private Sector Economic Forum 2019 in Hanoi, Ron Ashkin, director of the USAID’s Linkages for SME project, pointed out the causes of poor connectivity between the two corporate sectors.

Ashkin said that local firms employ outdated technologies, have low labor productivity, and suffer a lack of working experience with their foreign counterparts, according to the Vietnam News Agency. Also, their management systems are not fully standardized and their access to finance remains low.

He introduced the multimillion-dollar project, whose aim is to improve and expand supplier and buyer relationships among Vietnamese and foreign firms.

This project will raise productivity and increase Vietnam’s capacity to supply products to larger companies, both inside and outside Vietnam.

Foreign firms will reap the benefits of increased efficiencies from added local sourcing. The project will help Vietnamese entrepreneurs up and down the value chain pursue new opportunities and provide new jobs for their communities.

The project is also expected to improve the local business environment by lowering costs for multinationals located in Vietnam to source locally, while representing a huge opportunity to increase regional competition, grow Vietnam’s SME sector and build its middle class, the major consumers of American products.

In February this year, a team from the project conducted pre-evaluation visits to two Vietnamese SMEs in HCMC. Both companies manufacture high-precision machining parts used in metal grinding and drilling.

The visits covered the first stage in a two-stage supplier evaluation process. This first stage was a pre-evaluation to assess the SME’s capabilities and potential, prior to introducing them to two foreign firms with operations in Vietnam: Penflex, a manufacturer of flexible metal hoses, and RCH, an Italian company providing solutions for overall store management.

If the SMEs pass the first stage and are chosen by foreign firms as potential suppliers, the team will conduct a second, deeper evaluation to develop a plan aimed at helping the SMEs meet the foreign firms’ requirements.

Skepticism over e-payments hinders ecommerce in HCMC: consultant

A lack of trust in e-payment systems remains the key hindrance to the growth of ecommerce in HCMC due to the immature market and its developing infrastructure, according to YCP Solidiance, an Asia-focused strategy consulting firm headquartered in Hong Kong.

Its latest white paper, called “Top E-commerce Cities in Asia,” sheds light on the significance of the ecommerce landscape in Asia and how it has quickly adapted to global trends.

The firm refers to HCMC as Vietnam’s economic powerhouse as evidenced by its ability to improve the country’s economic growth, noting its significant contribution of some 20% of the entire country’s gross domestic product and 28% of its industrial output.

With the increasing demand for technology innovation across the globe, HCMC has a promising future in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, with ecommerce being one of the most closely watched industries.

Home to nearly nine million people, the local market is adapting at a fast pace to embrace digitalization, measured by its high internet penetration rate and digital banking penetration rate.

In addition to the high level of technology adoption, the acceleration of the ecommerce industry is obvious and opportunities for the US$26 billion retail market are vast in the city.

This rapid growth has also been supported by the central Government through its master plan on developing the industry, which comprises a comprehensive legal framework for all ecommerce activities, a national ecommerce payment system and integrated e-payment solutions due by 2020.

Demographically, the market is seeing an increase in its young population, with high levels of telecommunications and financial technology adoption.

In addition, the city has a fast-growing middle to affluent class – the key target of the expanding market, particularly the retail market, which has low market saturation and great potential for new players.

As an immature market with a developing infrastructure, the city still faces challenges arising from trust issues with financial institutions, whether it is data privacy and security for transactions or wanting to verify an ecommerce product before paying.

In turn, this affects product quality, customer service and data protection and ultimately affects product delivery. As a result, cash on delivery is still a preferred payment option compared with credit cards and online banking.

Moreover, the underdeveloped infrastructure, be it offline or online, may push the cost of logistics higher and eventually slow the growth of the ecommerce expansion in the city.

While it is a city with promising growth, according to the paper, the current level of customer behavior and lack of infrastructure should be considered in order to devise a way around key barriers.

Businesses can adjust their operations to the local conditions, promote consumer education on ecommerce or lobby for digital infrastructure construction.

“Although the current regulation landscape has some disadvantages, the Government has been working closely with the private sector, especially business incubators and accelerators, to improve the business ecosystem, and they have the capacity to do so,” said Hub Langstaff, director of the SECO Entrepreneurship Program, a four-year program in partnership with the Swiss government and the firm Swisscontact.

Solidiance urged the HCMC government to provide five key building blocks for its startup ecosystem to reach its full potential. The blocks are a stable and predictable regulatory environment, adequate talent, market readiness and a robust infrastructure, funding to scale up businesses and a global culture that empowers innovative ideas.

The consulting firm also suggested large companies should build synergy through investments or partnerships in ecommerce, combining corporate know-how and long-term experience with the innovative ideas of ecommerce entrepreneurs.

The synergy built between ecommerce and tech-companies will directly boost the growth of ecommerce in the city and even the country in the current digital age, according to the consultant.

HCMC households get new tool to calculate electricity bills

HCMC Power Corporation (EVN HCMC) has introduced a tool on its website and the website of Vietnam Electricity Group (EVN) to help its customers calculate their electricity bills.

According to EVN HCMC, many customers saw their electricity bills in March surging over previous months. The corporation has attributed the surge to the higher power demand during scorching weather, the retail electricity price hike of 8.36% and the longer month.

Nevertheless, from mid-April to May 3, the corporation’s customer care division has received nearly 3,000 requests to reevaluate their electricity bills.

EVN HCMC has asked its subsidiaries to contact each customer and explain calculation for the electricity bill.

EVN HCMC General Director Pham Quoc Bao had earlier required power companies to proactively address customers’ complaints within 24 hours.

Power companies have to explain the increase in electricity bills to households whose electricity bills have almost doubled.

In addition, EVN HCMC’s customer care division has enhanced its operations and sent text messages to its customers through its Zalo app and emails to warn them about the high demand for electricity during hot weather and advise them to use electricity sparingly.

The corporation has also advised its customers to install rooftop solar power systems. Since April 25, power companies under EVN HCMC have signed power-purchase contracts with households that have installed rooftop solar panels.

As of May 3, some 1,480 households in HCMC have installed rooftop solar panels with a total capacity of more than 18 megawatt peak.

Private enterprises as centerpiece for Vietnam’s agricultural development

Private enterprises must be considered the centerpiece for a competitive and robust agricultural sector, according to Cao Duc Phat, deputy head of the Central Economic Commission.

Unfortunately, only 6,000 out of the total 500,000 private enterprises are operating in farming sector, a number which is leaving much to be desired, Phat said at the Vietnam Private Economic Forum 2019 held on May 2.

According to Phat, Vietnam currently has 10 million farming households at small and micro-sized, each working on an average of 2,000 – 3,000 square meters of farmland, significantly lower than those in the US with 500,000 hectares each.

Vice Minister of Agricultural and Rural Development Le Quoc Doanh informed in the 2008 – 2017 period, the agriculture posted an average growth rate of 2.66% per year and reached 3.76% in 2018. Additionally, Vietnam’s agricultural products have been exported to over 185 countries and territories.

Total exports of the sector during the 10-year period reached US$261.28 billion, posting average annual growth rate of 9.24%. In 2018, farm export turnover stood at record high of over US$40 billion, up US$23.55 billion compared to 2008.

Vietnam currently is the second largest agricultural exporter in Southeast Asia and 15th globally, with 10 categories of products having export value of over US$1 billion each, Doanh said.

Under the ongoing restructuring effort, Vietnam’s agricultural sector would focus on large scale production and forming agricultural value chains for greater added value, aiming towards sustainable development and deeper integration into agricultural global value chain.

Meanwhile, Doanh said it is vital to apply international standards and technologies during the production process, saying it would be key to enhance the competitiveness of the agricultural sector with quality and safe products.

Crystal Bay ties up with KW Phuc An and Hoang Mai Media

Crystal Bay Group has exclusively signed with KW Phuc An (Phuc An Group) and Hoang Mai Media to develop the Crystal Marina Bay project in the coastal city of Nha Trang in Khanh Hoa.

The exclusive signing ceremony officially took place at Ana Marina Nha Trang international marina on May 3. The partnership is expected to open up new development opportunities for Nha Trang’s tourism
industry as well as create a premise for co-operation in upcoming projects across the country.

Accordingly, Phuc An Group has become the exclusive distributor and Hoang Mai Media Company the marketing and communications agency for Crystal Marina Bay, to be managed by the investor Crystal
Bay Group. Crystal Marina Bay is the largest international beach resort in North Nha Trang – the starting point of endless experience.

Crystal Marina Bay is a new crystal attracting tourists and investors. This is also Nha Trang’s most dynamic area, helping to solve the overload of urban transport infrastructure and the lack of tourism and entertainment products and high-class accommodation services in the center area today.

Located at Ana Marina Park international marina, the new development centre of Nha Trang, Crystal Marina Bay has a diamond position with a terrain overlooking Nha Trang Bay and the entire beautiful
coastal city.

With the approved design to become a multi-functional resort and entertainment area for tourists, Crystal Marina Bay has total tourist service facilities of up to 106,207 square metres in two buildings,
accounting for 65.6 per cent of the total area.

With a construction density of only 26.6 per cent, landscape accounts for 73.4 per cent along with the more than 54ha Ana Marina Park. Crystal Marina Bay brings an abundant entertainment experience to
tourists including beach activities, beach walking street, children's club, indoor entertainment area, infinity pool, VIP movie theatre, shopping area, casino, spa, and international conference centre.

Crystal Marina Bay promises to become the most attractive beach resort and entertainment complex in Nha Trang. The birth of Crystal Marina Bay with about 2,000 ApartHotels of international five-star
standards will significantly solve the great demand of high-class international tourists that Crystal Bay is bringing to Nha Trang every year.

At the signing ceremony, Vo Ta The, CEO of KW Phuc An, said, “Crystal Marina Bay project is developed as a diversified tourism ecosystem in Nha Trang, including modern ApartHotel apartments combined with a multitude of travel services that bring an impressive experience to visitors.

KW Phuc An will cooperate with Hoang Mai Media and the investors to develop Crystal Marina Bay into a new entertainment and resort destination in North Nha Trang – a new and indispensable destination
for local and foreign tourists.”

Managed and operated by Crystal Bay Hospitality, a unit of Crystal Bay Group with experience in developing eco-tourism projects, Crystal Marina Bay will be the first and only real estate product with
international five-star ApartHotel units andensuring long-term profitability for apartment owners.

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