BUSINESS NEWS HEADLINES APRIL 11

Derivatives market trading increases in March

BUSINESS NEWS HEADLINES APRIL 11
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The derivatives market was more dynamic in March with a rising number of transactions and new accounts.

Average trading volume was more than 173,800 contracts per day, up 30 per cent from February, according to the Ha Noi Stock Exchange (HNX).

Trading volume reached the highest level on March 13 with more than 232,000 contracts exchanged.

The number of open interests (OI) was up 11.72 per cent monthly to nearly 19,100 contracts at the end of the month.

The market also lured more domestic individual investors as the common stock market was quite volatile.

The HNX also reported the number of new trading accounts increased by 5.5 per cent monthly to more than 102,700 accounts.

Domestic individual investors’ trading accounted for 87.82 per cent of the market's total last month, up 1.42 percentage points from February.

However, domestic institutional investors’ trading accounted for 11.49 per cent of the market total in March, slightly down from the previous month.

Foreign trading reduced slightly to 52,100 contracts or 0.68 per cent of the market total.

Securities firms’ trading was equal to only 1.03 per cent of the market total.

VPS Securities Co (VPS) remained the biggest broker on the derivatives market in March, holding 55.4 per cent of total market share.

The runner-up VNDirect Securities Corp (VNDS) had only 10.36 per cent of the market share.

PVGas' revenue down 6.6 per cent in Q1

PetroVietnam Gas Corporation JSC (PVGas) earned VND17.5 trillion (US$743.4 million) of total revenue in the first quarter of the year.

The figure was down 6.6 per cent year-on-year but still beat its target by 14 per cent.

Pre-tax profit and post-tax profit fell about 31 per cent year-on-year to VND2.6 trillion and VND2.1 trillion, respectively.

Realised profits exceeded targets set for the first three-month period by 33 per cent and 35 per cent, respectively.

According to the group, business operations in the first quarter were hindered by the spread of the coronavirus pandemic which suspended plants and pulled market demand down.

In addition, oil prices lost two-thirds since the beginning of the year to hit a four-year low of $22-23 a barrel on March 31, way below the expected level of $60 a barrel eyed by the company for 2020.

In the first quarter, PVGas was supplied more than 2.35 billion cubic metres of wet gas to produce nearly 2.3 billion cubic metres of dry gas, 15,200 tonnes of condensate gas and 426,200 tonnes of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).

The company in 2019 recorded total revenue of VND75.6 trillion, which was almost unchanged from 2018's figure, and VND12.16 trillion in post-tax profit, up 3.84 per cent year-on-year.

The earnings figures beat last year’s targets by 18 per cent and 59 per cent in total revenue and post-tax profit.

PVGas forecast its total revenue in 2020 will fall to VND66.16 trillion and post-tax profit will be halved to VND6.63 trillion. The company plans to pay a dividend rate of 30 per cent.

PVGas has also postponed its annual shareholders’ meeting, which was previously scheduled for April 14. The new date will be set before June 30.

PVGas shares (HoSE: GAS) soared 6.9 per cent to end Thursday at VND67,000 per share.

Volume of cargo in Q1 grows, passengers drop

The volume of cargo passing through Vietnamese ports in the first quarter this year reached more than 159 million tonnes, up 8.4 per cent over the same period last year, reported the Viet Nam Maritime Administration (VMA).

Container cargo accounted for more than 5 million twenty foot equivalent units (TEUs), a year-on-year increase of 14 per cent.

Regarding passengers via seaports, the administration said the total number of ships in the past three months was 16,473, a decrease of 10 per cent compared to last year.

The number of ships arriving in March was 4,638, dropping 35 per cent compared to last year.

The number of passengers in the first quarter of this year was more than 1.6 million, down 36 per cent.

In March alone, the number of passengers was 313,693, mostly domestic guests, which was just 30 per cent of the same period last year.

The administration said the operation of general cargo ships operating intra-Asia and Southeast Asia routes is facing difficulties, therefore, Vietnamese ship owners brought ships to Viet Nam, leading to direct competition among domestic vessels.

Regarding solutions to ease problems faced by businesses, VMA said it had simplified administrative procedures and issued documents to support ship owners.

The administration has also proposed the Ministry of Transport temporarily not apply the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution caused by Ships (MARPOL) on the use of low sulfur fuel for ships and boats operating inland.

VMA also proposed the Ministry of Finance and related ministries and branches extend time for fees and charges; free for vessels mooring at seaports if any is subject to medical isolation.

It also proposed the State Bank of Viet Nam guide credit institutions to support the interest rate reduction and exemption for businesses and delay repayment plans. 

Fund for tourism development launched in Da Nang

The People’s Committee of Da Nang has approved the establishment of the Da Nang Tourism Promotion Fund (DTPF) with initial charter capital of VND1.6 billion (nearly US$70,000).

The non-profit fund aims to help create a closer link among tourism businesses from both home and aboard and facilitate tourism promotions, especially as the city’s hospitality sector is suffering from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It will also focus on helping local tourism firms to operate more effectively, while raising public awareness of preserving a good tourism environment and organising events to attract more tourists to the city in the near future.

From now until the end of this year, top priority will be given to conducting surveys of what Hindu and Muslim tourists are looking for from a holiday, and implementing domestic and international marketing campaigns after the COVID-19 pandemic ends.

The city has seen a strong decline in the number of visitors in the first quarter of this year amid growing concerns over COVID-19. It welcomed an estimated 1.3 million tourists in the period, down 31 per-cent year-on-year. This resulted in a yearly drop of 21 per cent in tourism revenue to an estimated VND4.91 trillion.

Director of Vietravel's Da Nang branch, Doan Hai Dang, said tourism businesses in the city had been badly impacted by the cancellation of bookings by domestic and foreign partners.

He said businesses (travel agencies, resorts and hotels, restaurants and destinations) still had bank loans and taxes to pay, but revenue from tours and service had seen negative growth.

In order to deal with the problem, the municipal Tourism Association has asked the local government to issue more preferential policies for tourism companies including land lease fee reductions for hotels and resorts for two years, delays for tax payment in the 4th quarter of 2019, and exemptions or reductions for admission fees at some historical and cultural relic sites, baodananang.vn reported.

The association said it would also host a mass promotion campaign in foreign markets in the second quarter, including Russia, India and Australia, as well as preparations for rescheduling tours from China, Japan and South Korea after the epidemic eases.

Real estate supply, demand in HCM City decrease amid COVID-19 outbreak

Real estate business and housing construction in Ho Chi Minh City have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, with significant decreases recorded in supply and demand, according to market watchers.

By the end of the first quarter, rent for the ground floor and first floor property in the downtown area of the city had fallen by 11 percent compared with the fourth quarter of 2019, while rent in the suburbs was down 15.9 percent.

For the office market, the average rent of Grade-A offices in Q1 was 44.6 USD per sq.m per month, down 1.2 percent against the previous quarter and 3.6 percent year-on-year.

Senior Director and Head of Valuation and Market Research Services at CBRE Vietnam Duong Thuy Dung said that after the COVID-19 pandemic, the office market could reshape, with tenants starting to pay more attention to the health of employees by choosing high-quality buildings instead of just saving money as before.

So buildings which are environmentally friendly will be preferred, she added.

Regarding the apartment market, she said that the city’s market is continuing to witness a decline in supply. A number of projects in Nha Be district and Districts 2, 9 and 10 have postponed their launches in the first quarter because of regulations on large gathering. From January-March, 3,757 apartments were sold, down 32 percent against the previous quarter, with the mid-end segment accounting for 58 percent of the total supply.

The 15-day social distancing period, starting April 1, will force the projects to continue postponing their dates of release. In addition, the suspension of flights and the tighter granting of visas will keep foreign customers from accessing the real estate market in Vietnam.

Those who want to buy houses or apartments will face difficulties accessing bank loans due to fluctuating interest rates and the higher standards banks are setting to approve loans.

Amid the complicated developments of the pandemic, Dung gave two scenarios for the apartment segment in Ho Chi Minh City. If the pandemic is put under control before June, the supply of new apartments will reach approximately 28,000 units, an increase of 5 percent compared to 2019, and the average price will rise by 5 percent. In case the date is September, there will be only about 15,000 new apartments, equal to 40 percent compared to that of 2019, and the average price will decrease by 5 percent.

Recently, in the process of developing a draft on the extension of the deadline for paying taxes and land rents, the Ministry of Finance added real estate businesses as subject to the extension. This move is expected to help these businesses overcome difficulties to survive, recover and develop to meet local demand for housing./.

First electronic component project to be built at Đà Nẵng IT Park

The Đà Nẵng’s Information Technology Park JSC (DITP) company and Meritronics AMT Inc have been speeding up preparation for commencing construction of a surface-mount technology (SMT) factory at Đà Nẵng IT Park, which would export printed circuit boards and electronic components in the second quarter this year.

Chairman of Trung Nam Group, Nguyễn Tâm Thịnh, said total funds of VNĐ700 billion (US$30.4 million) will be invested in the factory – the first of its kind in central Việt Nam.

Tâm said the SMT factory will include a research and development (R&D) centre and electronic component production lines, and incubation and training centre.

He said the group and Silicon Valley experts would set up a pilot electronic component production line at Đà Nẵng Hi-tech park with $7 million investment before launching a mass production plan later this year.

Trung Nam said it would commence construction of a luxury apartment and villa project for hosting international experts and hi-tech engineers working at the Hi-Tech Park with investment of VNĐ1.2 trillion ($74 million).

Last year, DITP and Meritronics AMT Inc signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to establish the Trung Nam Meritronics Technology joint-stock company providing electronic manufacturing services at Đà Nẵng IT Park.

Meritronics Inc was the first Silicon Valley-based business from the US investing in the park.

Businesses from the US, Ai20X Silicon Valley and DITP company have agreed to develop the Đà Nẵng IT Park as an expanded ‘Silicon Valley’ in Việt Nam.

Earlier this year, the Government approved the Đà Nẵng IT Park as a centralised information technology (CIT) zone.

Đà Nẵng city has planned the park as central Việt Nam’s ‘Silicon Valley’ on a total area of 341ha in the Master Plan.

The city has called for investors from Silicon Valley and the US investing in healthcare, hi-tech industries, Artificial Intelligence (AI), education, real estate and automation at Đà Nẵng Hi-tech Park and IT Park.

Alton Industry from the US also plans to build a robot manufacturing project in the city’s Hi-tech Park.

Universal Alloy Corporation – a leading global manufacturer of aircraft components for aerospace companies – from the US officially launched its factory for aircraft components worth $170 million, at the city’s Hi-Tech Park in March.

MARD requests local pig breeding farms and households to decrease live hog price

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) has asked pig breeding farms and households to reduce the price of live hog to VND70,000 (US$3) per kilo in order to stabilise the domestic market during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a request sent to people’s committees of all cities and provinces nationwide, the ministry said 15 major livestock enterprises, including CP Viet Nam Company, Mavin Group, CJ Vina Company, Dabaco, Japfa Comfeed and Emivest, have all reduced the live hog price to VND70,000 from VND75,000 since April 1.

Some of them have lowered it to VND65,000-VND67,000 per kilo.

However, the total number of pigs slaughtered by 15 enterprises accounts for 35-40 per cent of the total supply, the rest comes from local farms and households with prices ranging from VND73,000 to VND78,000 per kilo of live hog, affecting the overall price of pork at the market.

MARD requested leaders of local authorities to follow the Prime Minister’s guidance on solutions on stabilising pork prices strictly, suggesting them to review and control the selling prices of live hog and pork in localities.

“All farms and households need to accompany 15 enterprises to decrease the prices to VND70,000 per kilo of live hog, proceeding to VND65,000 and VND60,000, and lower,” MARD said.

The price of live hog in the Vietnamese market started increasing since early last year as the country was facing a shortage in supply caused by African swine fever. The price of live hog ranged between VND45,000-VND50,000 prior to the outbreak of African swine fever.

To cool off skyrocketing pork prices in the market, Viet Nam has pushed up imports of pork from many countries, including Canada, Russia, Germany, Poland, Brazil and the US. In the first quarter of this year, the country imported 39,200 tonnes of pork, up 312 per cent year-on-year.

SHS tops stock brokerage firms on HNX

The Hanoi Stock Exchange (HNX) has announced the top ten brokers with the largest transactions of listed stocks on the northern bourse in the first quarter of 2020.

According to the HNX, Sai Gon – Hanoi Securities JSC (SHS) replaced SSI Securities Corporation (SSI) in first place with a market share of 9.92 percent in the first three months. The SSI came in second with 8.42 percent, followed by VNDirect Securities Corporation with 7.65 percent.

MB Securities JSC (MBS) and Ho Chi Minh Securities Corp (HSC) ranked fourth and fifth, respectively, holding market shares of 5.83 percent and 5.67 percent.

The rest of the best were VPS Securities, ACB Securities (ACBS), FPT Securities (FPTS), Bao Viet Securities (BVSC) and BIDV Securities JSC (BSC).

The HNX has also named the top 10 securities firms on the UPCoM market in the first quarter of the year, holding a combined market share of 68.28 percent.

MBS led the way, followed by VNDirect and VPS. Together they made up a market share of 35.6 percent.

The others were SSI, HSC, Viet Capital Securities JSC (VCSC), BSC, Vietcombank Securities, FPTS and BVSC.

Meanwhile, the 10 companies with the largest transactions of G-bonds included BSC, VCBS, ACBS, VPS and VCSC.

Earlier this week, the Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange (HoSE) also announced its top 10 brokers of stocks, fund certificates, and covered warrants (CW) in January-March. Accordingly, SSI held the largest market share of 12.32 percent, down 1.64 percent from last year, according to HoSE.

It was followed by the HSC, whose market share grew to 11.03 percent from 10.54 percent in 2019. In third was the Bao Viet Securities Company (BVSC), which saw its market share grow to 9.7 percent from 8.19 percent last year./.

Wood export turnover grows 16 percent in Q1

Vietnam's export value of wood and wooden products reached 2.7 billion USD in the first quarter of 2020, representing a year-on-year increase of over 16 percent, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The industry is forecast to be seriously affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, which is spreading around the world and having severe impacts on the global economy.

A survey of 124 wood processing enterprises on the impacts of the disease found that the sector’s export turnover and growth are likely to drop sharply in the near future.

Up to 76 percent of enterprises said that the sector is likely to suffer total initial losses of 3 trillion VND (127.2 million USD), while the remaining said they have not yet determined the level of loss.

Only 7 percent of the respondents said they are maintaining operations as normal. Meanwhile, 51 percent reported that they had scaled down production, and 35 percent said they will have to suspend operations in the coming time.

According to the Vietnam Timber and Forest Product Association (VTFPA), since March, 80 percent of exporters to the US and EU markets have received cancellations or delays until the situation improves. Orders from Japan, the Republic of Korea and China have also dropped 60-80 percent.

Do Xuan Lap, chairman of the VTFPA, said the wood processing industry, one of the country's three main export industries, is facing the reality that most enterprises will have to stop production this month and lay off workers unless they receive support from the Government.

In order to minimise losses, the VTFPA has asked the Government to include the wood processing industry on the list of products it says can extend tax payments and land rents.

The VTFPA also said the Government should consider value added tax refunds for eligible exporters, and the exemption of export taxes./.

Ha Noi condominium market sputters: CBRE

Ha Noi's property market in the first quarter this year saw a low level of new launch supply in the condominium segment due to COVID-19 outbreak, according to real estate investment group CBRE Vietnam.

New launch supply in the quarter was limited at about 1,600 units, down 86 per cent year-on-year. The new launches mostly came from follow-on launches and were mainly located in the western and eastern regions of Ha Noi.

“This was the lowest new launch supply over the past nine years,” Do Van Anh, CBRE Vietnam manager, said at an online press conference releasing the quarterly report on Ha Noi’s real estate market in the first quarter held on Wednesday.

Eight projects offered products in the first quarter, she said, low compared with the quarterly average of 25-30 projects in 2017-19.

She also reported total sales of the Ha Noi condominium market in the first quarter were the lowest since 2013 at around 2,100 units sold during the first quarter.

Of which, sales of new launch supply in the quarter reached only 30-40 per cent, lower than the quarterly average of 40-45 per cent last year.

Sales activities have slowed across the segment as local buyers avoid coming to crowded sales events while travel bans restrict purchases from foreign buyers.

“The pandemic prevented foreign customers from coming to Ha Noi to conduct their transactions or to study the market so the housing market for foreign customers did not have significant development in the first quarter,” Van Anh told Viet Nam News.

Foreign buyers’ house trading activities in the quarter were mostly implemented before Tet (Lunar New Year) holiday, she said.

“In the future, foreign buyers will have high demand for apartments. Many investors from Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea are still interested in the Ha Noi housing market. The housing price in Ha Noi is competitive compared to other regional countries,” Van Anh said.

According to the report, the average selling price in the primary market in the first quarter this year was recorded at US$1,365 per sq.m, up by 4 per cent year-on-year.

 

There were several high-end projects in locations such as Tu Liem and Thanh Xuan districts that didn't launch on schedule, but the pricing of follow-on launches remained constant making the primary pricing level stable compared to the previous quarter.

Post-sales activity, especially property management, has become more important in recent years and is set to take on a new dimension following the COVID-19 pandemic. End-users and investors now expect higher standards of property management, with increasing demand for better sanitisation practices and attention to other hygiene-related issues, according to CBRE.

Looking forward, licensing issues, credit tightening and the COVID-19 pandemic are set to weigh on new condominium supply and demand in 2020.

“The state of the market will largely depend on how quickly the pandemic will end. Until then, the market’s resilience will be tested as developers, investors and end-buyers adopt the 'wait-and-see' approach,” said Nguyen Hoai An, Director of Hanoi Branch, CBRE Vietnam.

Assuming the pandemic ends by the end of the second quarter this year, Ha Noi is expected to see the addition of approximately 27,000-28,000 units in 2020, Van Anh said. In terms of location, the west remains the main focus, but the east (Gia Lam District, Ha Noi or Van Giang District, Hung Yen Province) will be the second main source of new supply in 2020.

Slow purchasing momentum in the first half this year may pull down the annual total of sold units to about 24,000 in Ha Noi from the previous projected level of 31,000 units.

In a worse scenario or if the pandemic is not contained before the end of the third quarter, new launch and sold units are expected to lower to about 14,000 units and 9,000 units respectively, equal to only 30-40 per cent of the level of new supply and demand in 2019, she said.

The selling price is forecast to reduce to about $1,300 per sq.m, down by 6 per cent year-on-year as high-end projects might delay their launches till 2021 and existing projects might offer more competitive pricing to attract buyers.

FPT to pay cash dividend for 2020 at rate of 20%

FPT Corporation will pay a cash dividend for 2020 at a rate of 20 per cent, the corporation announced at the annual shareholders meeting on Wednesday.

It paid a dividend in cash and shares with a ratio of 20 per cent and 15 per cent respectively for last year.

Its shareholders also approved the business plan for this year with revenue and profit expected to increase by 17 per cent and 18 per cent respectively compared to last year.

FPT recorded consolidated revenue of VND27.7 trillion (US$1.18 billion) last year, a year-on-year increase of 19.4 per cent. Its profit before tax was VND4.7 trillion, growing 20.9 per cent.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is a push to accelerate the progress of the 4.0 revolution. This is a new war, a new challenge,” said Truong Gia Binh, FPT chairman.

The potential and opportunities from the digital conversion market were unlimited, he said.

IDC predicted that next year would be the year of cloud services. More than 90 per cent of businesses around the world will rely on the cloud to have a strong, scalable and cost-effective IT infrastructure by 2022.

The demand for digital transformation in recent years has grown rapidly and would become increasingly high after the pandemic ended, and that was a good opportunity for FPT, attendees heard at the meeting.

With the strength of the pioneer in digital transformation as well as positive results last year, the corporation affirmed that digital transformation would continue to create the corporation’s breakthroughs in terms of position, capacity and growth scale and improve its value of global competition.

Digital transformation has grown strongly and helped the corporation improve its position in the international market.

Digital transformation revenue saw a year-on-year increase of 35.4 per cent last year, accounting for 20 per cent of the corporation’s total IT service revenue.

FPT is the first VN30 company to successfully organise an annual shareholders meeting online thanks to the application of artificial intelligence technology and online conferencing system.

Vinhomes launches online real estate transaction floor

Vinhomes Joint Stock Company launched its online real estate trading floor today, connecting investors with customers through computer screens or smartphones.
Customers and now buy homes at online.vinhomes.vn.

With the motto 'Stay home - Buy home', this online trading floor provides customers with information on the location, planning as well as sales documents of the projects.

Sales policies, preferential programmes and selling prices will be published accurately, publicly and transparently. Customers will be able to buy homes at the original price through only four steps, namely sign up/sign in, searching for products, choosing products, and depositing/ordering.

The Vinhomes sales team is available 24/7 to assist customers to complete documents and procedures quickly and legally during the online buying process.

To launch, the floor offers discounts of VND10 million-VND70 million (US$424-$3,000) for the first 600 transactions each at Vinhomes Ocean Park projects, Vinhomes Smart City and Vinhomes Symphony.

The first customers registering for accounts will also have the opportunity to win one of 688 prizes, valued from VND1 million to VND10 million, and participate in drawing lots for a ‘Happy House’ worth VND1 billion.

Online buyers will enjoy the same benefits offline buyers do.

PetroVietnam discusses measures to soften blow from COVID-19

The Vietnam Oil and Gas Group (PetroVietnam) will continue cutting costs and optimizing all resources while boosting sales to cushion the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the oil and gas industry, the group’s recent online meeting reviewing business performance in the first quarter of 2020 and mapping out tasks for April heard.

Addressing the meeting, PetroVietnam Director-General Le Manh Hung asked that member companies adopt specific business plans for April as the month is expected to see further economic decline from the pandemic.

He urged member companies to cut non-essential costs and make the most of resources to improve efficiency and maintain production in light of sinking oil prices.

They must also intensify cooperation with major buyers around the country to boost sales and deal with weakening demand and high inventory, he said.

PetroVietnam and its members will also rigorously implement preventive measures against the disease and ensure the safety of their workers.

The group's revenue during the period stood at 165 trillion VND as a result of falling global prices, equal to 90.9 percent of the plan.

The group contributed 20.8 trillion VND to the State budget, or 89.7 percent of the target.

Cambodia’s tourism to take longer to recover from pandemic

Cambodia’s tourism, which is the most vulnerable industry from the spread of coronavirus, will see a slower recovery than other sectors after the COVID-19 pandemic ends, according to Chhay Sivlin, President of the Cambodia Association of Travel Agents.

She told Khmer Times that tourism activity will not return to normal soon because it is a global crisis and it’s related to people’s feelings. People will need time to save money they lost during the crisis”.

It will take at least half to one year for people to start taking holidays while long-haul tourism could take longer, she said.

However, she said Cambodia must be ready to welcome more foreign visitors after the situation returns to normal.

“We need to prepare in advance an attractive package with good promotions, good prices and diversify our eco-tourism destinations,” she said, adding that for Cambodia the tourism sector will still have room to grow.

COVID-19 has affected a total of 630,000 people in the tourism sector and some 30,000 of them are now unemployed, of whom 10,000 were tour operators, 10,000 worked at hotels, about 6,000 were tour guides and others worked in restaurants, according to Chhay.

Data from the Cambodian Ministry of Tourism shows that Cambodia welcomed over 6.6 million foreign visitors last year, a 6.61 percent increase from 2018. Chinese tourists topped the list, with 2.36 million, up 16.7 percent, followed by Vietnamese with 908,803, up 13.6 percent.

In the first two months of this year, the country hosted 931,826 foreign visitors, a decline of 50 percent compared to the same period last year.
The ministry’s spokesman Top Sopheak said the ministry still promotes the tourism sector both locally and abroad although it cannot hold any special events or expos because of the need for self-distancing.

Hong Vannak, a business researcher at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said that in addition to the garment sector, tourism has the most potential to boost growth after COVID-19./.

Finance Ministry, Fitch look into Vietnam’s economic outlook

The Ministry of Finance held a working session with credit ratings agency Fitch in late March to present persuasive evidence regarding Vietnam’s economic resilience amid the existing global challenges.

Fitch retained Vietnam’s sovereignty rating at BB on April 4 and revised its outlook from positive to stable.

It downgraded the sovereignty ratings of 12 countries and the outlook of 7 countries to negative in March.

The ministry said the revision reflects the widespread impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global economy, which damaged the credit status of countries worldwide, including Vietnam, via exports, tourism, and faltering global demand.

The Vietnamese Government and its people have taken drastic action and found initial success in containing the spread of the pandemic, which was hailed by the World Health Organization, foreign governments, and the international community, it said.

Fitch’s maintenance of Vietnam’s sovereignty rating at BB is a bright spot in the country’s credit profile, the ministry said, and is based on its medium-term development potential, stable macroeconomic environment, under-control Government debt, and easier accessibility to external finances than other countries.

It lauded Vietnam for consolidating its fiscal situation and foreign reserves over recent years, thus improving its cushion against macro risks.

Fitch also forecast that Vietnam’s economy will rebound in 2021, with growth estimated at 7.3 percent as domestic and foreign demand gradually recover./.

Reopening of Mong Cai border gate facilitates resumption of exports to China

The Mong Cai International Border Gate in the northern province of Quang Ninh was reopened about a month ago, facilitating the resumption of not only exports to China but also imports of materials to maintain domestic production.

Statistics of the local customs show that about 765 million VND (32.78 million USD) worth of exports from Vietnam to China and vice versa have gone through the border gate during that time, down 30 percent from the same period last year.

Despite falling import and export value, tax revenue grew 36 percent to 276 billion VND.

Most of Vietnam’s exports were fresh and processed agricultural products, such as cassava powder, pepper, cashew nut, tea and seafood, along with cotton yarn and face masks, while imports included materials, consumer goods and electronic components./.

Vietnamese enterprises warned about fraud risk with Moroccan firm

The Trade Office of the Vietnamese Embassy in Morocco has warned Vietnamese exporters and plastic exporters in particular, not to conduct transactions with Moroccan company FISHERLAB SARL to avoid risks.

The Moroccan company is represented by Director Khalid with the phone number: 00 212 (0) 6 22 10 93 52 and 00 21 26 01 76 76 27, mobile number: 212 661 607818, and email: contact@fisherlab.ma or fisherlabsarl@gmail.com.

A Vietnamese enterprise was reported to have encountered troubles in selling plastic materials to the Moroccan company.

FISHERLAB SARL has shown signs of dishonesty in its import transactions, making many demands on exporterswhile at the same time avoiding payment responsibilities under the signed contracts.

The company has also shown signs of collusion with a bank branch to avoid payment obligations.

Indonesian government debt issuance to triple to 61.5 billion USD

Indonesia’s new debt is expected to triple this year as the government struggles to fund its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the newly enacted Presidential Regulation No. 54/2020 on the 2020 state budget revision issued on April 3, the Indonesian government has increased deficit spending to 1 quadrillion Rp (61.5 billion USD) this year, a jump of 286 percent from the initial target of 351.9 billion Rp.

The government plans to offer sovereign debt papers worth 549.6 trillion Rp, an increase from the initial 389.3 trillion Rp, while also planning to raise 450 trillion Rp in “pandemic bonds”.

Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said on April 6 that the government would look for safe financing sources, including the option to use the endowment fund for education (LPDP) as well as accumulated cash surplus (SAL), but said that “would not be enough”.

President Joko Widodo has announced additional state spending worth 405.1 trillion Rp to finance Indonesia’s battle against the novel coronavirus SAS-CoV-2 pandemic. The new allocation will be used specifically for healthcare, social safety net and business recovery programmes.

The state budget revision now targets 1.76 quadrillion Rp in revenue, lower than the 2.23 quadrillion Rp previously set out in the 2020 budget.

Expenditure, meanwhile, jumps to 2.61 quadrillion Rp from the 2.54 quadrillion Rp targeted previously. The government has widened its state budget deficit beyond the previous 3-percent-of-GDP cap to around 5 percent this year, in line with a new government regulation in lieu of law (Perppu) to lift the legal limit./.

Labour export companies hit hard by COVID-19 pandemic

Businesses involved in labour exports are at a standstill due to the complex developments of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Le Quoc Hung, Deputy General Director of Hanoi Investment General Corporation (HANIC), said the corporation’s contracts to send employees to key markets like Taiwan and Malaysia had been serious affected since the outbreak of the disease in China's Wuhan city in late November last year.

“Wuhan is a centre which supplied input materials for production at factories in Taiwan and Malaysia. This affects the supply chain in markets where we send laborers to work," he told Thoi bao kinh te Sai Gon (Saigon Times) newspaper.

Hung said that the company had stopped sending workers to Taiwan since late last year. It stopped sending labourers to Malaysia at the end of February.

Sending workers overseas was particularly dangerous at present as the risk of being infected was high at airports, he said, adding that HANIC's partners had taken the initiative to suspend bringing in workers from overseas under contracts signed earlier due to the lack of jobs.

Normally, demand in Japan, Taiwan and the Republic of Korea is quite robust from the beginning of the year but the number of orders has sharply decreased this year due to impacts of the pandemic.

A number of labour export companies had reportedly suspended the departure of workers although they had received the orders in February.

The director of a labour export company, which sent about 700 labourers overseas last year, said orders from some countries and territories including Japan and Taiwan had decreased after the Tet (Lunar New Year) holiday.

In March, some markets stopped accepting workers and a number of international airlines also stopped their flights.

“International flights have been cancelled so foreign partners can not come to Vietnam to interview workers while many labourers cannot fly to their designated countries, even though they have completed visa procedures” he said on condition of anonymity.

In related news, the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA) on April 5 asked the Department of Overseas Labour to order businesses to suspend sending workers abroad until the end of April.

It has also requested leaders of agencies under municipal and provincial Departments of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs to step up urgent measures against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Overseas Vietnamese labour management boards should encourage Vietnamese labourers to stay calm, observe host countries’ regulations on COVID-19 prevention and control, and avoid trips to disease-hit areas, while ensuring the rights and interests of labourers who are affected by the epidemic.

In case labourers are laid off or lose their jobs due to COVID-19, they will have their brokerage fees and other fees reimbursed. They will also receive assistance from the overseas employment support fund.

Pham Do Nhat Tan, Vice Chairman of the Vietnam Association of Manpower Supply (VAMAS), said due to labour contract expiring, nearly 5,000 labourers had returned to the country in the first quarter of this year.

He said it was time for enterprises to restructure their operations and apply information technology in training and recruitment activities.

Currently, there are more than 560,000 employees working overseas under limited employment contract in 36 countries and territories, according to MOLISA.

Of these, over 10,000 Vietnamese workers are in European markets.

There are more than 230,000 Vietnamese trainees and workers in Japan, 48,000 labourers in the Republic of Korea and over 224,700 in Taiwan./.

Bến Tre Province giant river prawn farms hit by saltwater intrusion

Many farmers raising giant river prawns in the Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta province of Bến Tre are facing losses due to saltwater intrusion, which is decimating the crustaceans.

Lê Thị Điệp, who rotates between rice and giant river prawns in a 1.6ha field in Thạnh Phú District’s Mỹ An Commune, had more than 130,000 prawns in this year’s crop. After four months they had grown to the size of a human thumb. But hot weather and the high salinity rate have been killing many for over more than half a month now.

More than 70 per cent are now dead, and they are continuing to die, and she is certain to suffer losses, she said.

Saltwater intrusion has caused the salinity rate to consistently reach 2 per cent this year and even 2.4 – 2.5 per cent on some days, a condition in which giant river prawns cannot survive, according to farmers.

Lê Thị Sương is breeding the creatures in her 4ha farm in Mỹ An, and has also seen thousands of prawns die every day from the salinity.

In the past the salinity rate would never exceed 1.7 per cent, and giant river prawns could withstand it, she said.

“This year the salinity rate has exceeded 2 per cent, and if the situation continues, all my prawns will die.”

Võ Văn Hiện, head of the Thạnh Phú Bureau of Agriculture and Rural Development, said provincial authorities are telling farmers how to mitigate the impacts of saltwater intrusion.

The delta is facing severe intrusion this dry season, and Bến Tre is one of its coastal provinces, which have been hardest hit.

Nearly a third of the province’s 3,000ha of giant river prawn farms has been affected by saltwater intrusion with a death rate of 30 per cent, according to the province Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The worst affected areas are in Thạnh Phú, Giồng Trôm and Mỏ Cày Nam districts.

The giant river prawn is farmed in 3.2 per cent of the province’s total aquaculture area, but it is one of the province’s key fisheries products because of its high value and Bến Tre’s potential for breeding it, according to the department.

Local farmers breed giant river prawns in ponds and irrigation ditches in orchards and also rotate it with rice in paddies.

The breeding of giant river prawns in ditches in orchards, especially coconut groves, has become common in the province in recent years since it offers a steady income.

The province is the country’s largest coconut producer and has around 72,000ha of trees.

Of the figure, irrigation ditches make up 10,800ha, or 15 per cent, according to the province’s Agriculture Extension Centre.

 
 

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