BUSINESS NEWS HEADLINES APRIL 5

Online trade promotion acitivities should be developed due to COVID-19: agency


The Viet Nam Trade Promotion Agency has encouraged localities, businesses and trade promotion organisations develop online marketing measures during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, said agency director Vu Ba Phu.

They should promote trade promotion activities on digital platforms, develop e-commerce activities and boost the application of information technology for their operations.

At the same time, the agency will strongly enhance trade promotion programmes of export products and online trade links between Vietnamese businesses and import partners.

Phu told the Cong thuong (Industry and Trade) newspaper that his office would coordinate with Viet Nam’s trade offices and commercial counsellors abroad to utilise export opportunities and propose suitable trade promotions.

The agency will provide Viet Nam trade offices with a list of target markets and goods with high potential of export compiled by localities and commodity associations. Then, those offices would provide the market information for importers and distributors in foreign countries, especially in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand.

Meanwhile, it would cooperate closely with the Viet Nam Trade Office in China to resume trade promotion activities at this market after the pandemic ends, he said.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Phu said existing difficulties in production and business have brought opportunities for domestic businesses to reorganise and restructure input material and export markets.

Phu said his agency would cancel or delay 49 projects under the national trade programme this year, including large international fairs and exhibitions on agricultural products, food, seafood, textiles and footwear at home and abroad, and major international trade events in Viet Nam and the region.

Viet Nam sees first reduction in retail sales of goods and services in Q1

BUSINESS NEWS HEADLINES APRIL 5



Viet Nam witnessed its first reduction in retail sales for five years in March due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, according to the General Statistics Office (GSO).

In March, the total retail sales of consumer goods and services were estimated at VND390 trillion (US$16.4 billion), down 4 per cent from the previous month and down 0.8 per cent over the same period last year.

The spread of the pandemic has made customers restrict shopping at traditional markets, trade centres and supermarkets, travel and eating out, leading to the drop in total retail sales.

Tourism revenue fell 44.7 per cent month on month and 62.3 per cent year on year to VND1.3 trillion after suffering the most severe impacts of COVID-19.

Revenue from accommodation and catering services also dropped sharply by 26.8 per cent year on year to VND33.9 trillion.

Meanwhile, the retail sales of goods stood at VND316.1 trillion, up 4.7 per cent year on year. The revenue of other services reached VND38.7 trillion, down 6.5 per cent year on year.

In the first quarter of this year, Viet Nam still gained low growth of 4.7 per cent in total retail sales of goods and services compared with the same period last year to VND1.25 quadrillion. Of which, retail sales of goods were estimated at VND985.8 trillion, accounting for 79.1 per cent of the total. This figure was up by 7.7 per cent over the same period last year.

Especially, revenue increased by 9.3 per cent for food; 8.4 per cent for gasoline and oil; 7.7 per cent for the group of household appliances, tools and equipment; 6.6 per cent for garments; 5.4 per cent for vehicles; and 2 per cent for cultural and educational services.

The pandemic has helped online shopping develop while enough supplies of goods helped retail sales grow in the first quarter, the office said.

Some localities did report growth in the retail sales of goods during the first quarter, including Hai Phong (11 per cent); Ha Noi (9.3 per cent); Ba Ria-Vung Tau (8.1 per cent); HCM City (8 per cent); Can Tho (7.3 per cent); and Thanh Hoa (6.9 per cent).

Meanwhile, tourism revenue in the first quarter was VND7.8 trillion, down 27.8 per cent year on year, while this sector posted growth of 23.2 per cent year on year in the first quarter of 2019.

The localities that saw strong drops in the tourism revenue in the first quarter included Thanh Hoa (49.9 per cent); Ba Ria-Vung Tau (48.3 per cent); Quang Ninh (47.1 per cent); Khanh Hoa (43.9 per cent); HCM City (39.9 per cent); Binh Dinh (24.4 per cent); Da Nang (19.5 per cent); Ha Noi (18.7 per cent); and Hai Phong (14.9 per cent).

Exporters urged to prioritise containing COVID-19

The Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Agency for Foreign Trade has urged firms that export goods to China to give the highest priority to preventing the COVID-19 pandemic from spreading further and ensuring the safety of their workers and the public.

Exporters should not make light of preventive measures against the coronavirus because of the pressure to ease the backlog of goods at border crossings with China and boost imports, the agency said in a notice recently sent to local departments of industry and trade, business associations and exporters.

This will contribute to Vietnam’s concerted efforts to combat the COVID-19 outbreak, it added.

Border gates with China have reopened but import and export activities have not returned to normal due to delays in customs clearance and a severe lack of workers to help with cargo handling in both countries.

Additionally, China has tightened control of entry and exit of people and vehicles from Vietnam, particularly those from pandemic-hit areas. Most recently, the Chinese side banned drivers from Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, Quang Ninh, Da Nang and Binh Thuan from delivering exports to China because of the complex development of the pandemic in these localities.

The northern provinces of Quang Ninh, Lang Son and Lao Cai which have a large volume of exports and imports going through daily have established “buffer” zones around the border gates for quarantine purposes.

As of March 30, 1,175 container trucks remained stuck across the northern border crossings, the majority of which – 1,086 trucks – were in Lang Son, mostly loaded with dragon fruit, watermelon, banana, mango and jack fruit.

The border gates are likely to see even worse congestion in the coming months when more fruits and agricultural products in Vietnam enter the harvest season, leading to growing demand for export to China.

Southeast Asia’s largest solar power plant to be built in Ninh Thuan

A 450MW solar power plant, the largest of its kind in Southeast Asia, will be built in Phuoc Minh commune in the south central province of Ninh Thuan.

Trungnam Group, the investor, said construction of the solar farm would start in the second quarter of this year and be completed in the fourth quarter.

The 14 trillion VND (592 million USD) plant will begin generating power by the end of this year.

The company will also build a 500kV substation and install 500kV and 220kV transmission lines to connect the farm with the national grid.

The provincial People's Committee has told the investor to ensure the project is completed on schedule.

Under its socio-economic master plan, the province seeks to become the country’s renewable energy hub with a total capacity of 8,000MW by 2030.

Last year, the Trungnam Group began operating solar and wind energy plants with a total investment of 10 trillion VND (423 million USD)./.

Newly registered FDI rises by nearly 45 percent in Q1

Vietnam granted investment licenses to 758 new projects worth 5.5 billion USD in the first quarter of 2020, up nearly 45 percent from the same period last year, according to the Foreign Investment Agency under the Ministry of Planning and Investment.

The increase was attributed to the attraction of the 4-billion-USD liquefied natural gas project in the Mekong Delta province of Bac Lieu.

More than 230 existing projects registered to adjust their capital with an additional 1.07 billion USD in the January-March period, equivalent to 82 percent of the same period last year.

Meanwhile, the value of capital contributions and shares purchases by foreign investors reached almost 2 billion USD, equivalent to 34.4 percent of the same time in 2019.

Meanwhile, FDI disbursement was estimated at 3.85 billion USD, a year-on-year decline of 6.6 percent.

Foreign investors pumped capital into 18 sectors, of which the electricity generation and distribution took the lead with total pledged capital of over 4 billion USD, making up 47.5 percent of the total registered investment.

The processing and manufacturing sector ranked second with total investment of 2.72 billion USD, followed by the retail and real estate with respective sums of 682 million USD and 264 million USD.

Singapore topped the list of 87 countries and territories investing in Vietnam with 4.54 billion USD, accounting for 53.1 percent of the country’s FDI.

Japan came second with 846.7 million USD, followed by China with 815.6 million USD.

The Mekong Delta province of Bac Lieu was the most attractive among the 55 cities and provinces receiving FDI with 4 billion USD, or 46.8 percent of the total.

The southern economic hub of Ho Chi Minh City ranked second with total registered capital of 506.8 million USD, followed by the capital city of Hanoi, southern Binh Duong and Ba Ria-Vung Tau provinces./.

Businesses search for ways to overcome COVID-19

 Many businesses are struggling from a lack of raw materials and falling exports due to the impacts of the global pandemic COVID-19.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade said the pandemic had had a strong impact on industrial production.

The index of industrial production in the first two months of this year increased by 6.2 per cent over the same period last year, much lower than the increase of 13.7 per cent in 2018 and the 9.2 per cent reported last year.

The processing and manufacturing industry was the most heavily affected with growth in the first two months at only 7.4 per cent, much lower than the increase of 11.4 per cent posted in the same period last year.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade stated that if the pandemic continued until the second quarter of this year, the impacts would become evident on the manufacturing industry.

A representative of the Viet Nam Steel Corporation (VNSteel) also said that the market was unfavourable and the pandemic was having a negative impact on production and business of its units.

Production and business at Thai Nguyen Iron and Steel JSC (Tisco) under VNSteel were seriously affected last month.

Specifically, Tisco’s consumption reached 14,000 tonnes by February 26, only fulfilling 23 per cent of its monthly plan.

The representative said the most badly hit was the Viet - Trung Mining and Metallurgy Co., Ltd due to its location near the Viet Nam - China border.

The company is heavily dependent on commercial activities between the two sides. Its raw materials and equipment, which are mainly imported from China, stand stagnant now.

Especially, coke inventories are very low, failing to meet the domestic demand for iron ore production and consumption.

To solve the difficulties, VNSteel has asked the company to work with relevant authorities in the northern mountainous province of Lao Cai to resume normal import and export activities for coke and steel billets in order to maintain production and business activities.

At the same time, the company is also looking for alternative sources from Russia and Indonesia.

The corporation also proposed support solutions from the People's Committee of Lao Cai such as extending tax payment times for businesses.

Nguyen Quang Vinh, CEO of Vision Materials Vietnam Company Limited, said that in the current situation, finding new markets was very important because the disease would remain complicated.

Difficulties in importing raw materials would continue, he said. The company was actively seeking alternative sources of goods instead of China.

"We hope the authorities will strengthen trade promotions so the business community in general and our company in particular can access other sources," Vinh said.

In order to solve these difficulties, Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh has directed his departments to work directly with industry associations and localities to find solutions to "rescue" businesses.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade will co-ordinate with branches and localities to handle border-gate issues to promote import and export circulation with China and find alternative markets for Vietnamese goods.

At the same time, the ministry has also directed trade offices and branches in Asia, Africa, Europe and America to assess consumption demand, market capacity, tastes and Vietnamese export growth potential to offset export declines due to the impacts of COVID-19, especially taking advantage of the preferential policies offered by the EU – Viet Nam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA).

31,000 businesses sign up for MoIT’s services portal 

More than 31,000 businesses have signed up to use a portal that provides public services online, according to the Vietnam e-Commerce and Digital Economy Agency under the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MoIT).

By the end of last year, the portal processed and handled over 1.5 million electronic forms, 99 per cent of the total forms sent by businesses.

Dang Hoang Hai, the agency’s head, said the portal – which was introduced in 2016 to the business community – is the only portal authorised by the ministry. The portal has also been connected to the National Public Service Portal.

Meanwhile, other forms of communication such as telephone and email have been maintained.

A number of procedures have been added to the portal, including the issuance of import register, temporary import, re-export licences as well as certificates of origin and energy ratings.

Hai said the MoIT plans to add more services to the portal in the near future that will cover the fields of food safety, industrial safety standards, international commerce and competition management.

The portal will play an important part in creating a streamlined administration process with ASEAN countries and help bolster trade in the region. 

No electricity price hikes this year 

There are no plans to increase electricity prices this year, according to the Electricity Regulatory Authority of Viet Nam.

At a recent meeting of the Ministry of Industry and Trade discussing the fight against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, director of the Electricity Regulatory Authority Nguyen Anh Tuan confirmed that there would be no increases in electricity prices this year, in line with the Government’s request.

Tuan said that the authority asked Viet Nam Electricity (EVN) to strictly comply with regulations on retail electricity prices.

Close watch would be placed on electricity consumption to raise measures for operating the power system in the most efficient way, together with reducing energy losses and improving labour productivity to lower production costs.

According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, energy consumption saw significant decreases in the first two months of this year. Statistics showed that as of March 19, average power consumption was at 623 million kWh per day, much lower than the planned volume of 690.7 million kWh.

Sectors which saw strongest declines in power consumption were industrial production, trade and services.

Under the ministry’s Directive No 06/CT-BCT to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, the ministry called for no increases in the electricity price until the end of the second quarter at the earliest to support businesses amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Hoang Quoc Vuong also asked EVN to act to ensure enough power supply for socio-economic development with a focus on speeding up the construction of power projects. — 

Doosan Vina finishes 27 modules for Samsung Engineering Company

Doosan Heavy Industry Vietnam (Doosan Vina) recently exported the last 15 modules weighing a total of 2,508 tonnes to a refinery of Samsung Engineering Company in the United Arab Emirates, said a Doosan Vina representative on March 25.

The modules are of a clean fuels project (CFP) signed by Doosan Vina with the Samsung Engineering Company in October 2018. It comprises of a total 27 modules totally weighing 3,770 tonnes.

The first 12 modules were shipped to the Ruwais Refinery in Abu Dhabi last December, after over six months of production.

Of the modules, the largest is 42m long, 13.2m high and 10m wide, weighing 222 tonnes.

Upon the operation of Ruwais Refinery, the modules will help improve its operational efficiency.

Doosan Vina is based at the Dung Quat Economic Zone in the central coastal province of Quang Ngai. To date, it has completed a total of 39 modules in waste heat recovery project (WHRP) and CFP with a combined weight of 5,516 tonnes for the Samsung Engineering Company./.

13 mln USD raised through G-bond auctions

The State Treasury raised 301 billion VND (13 million USD) worth of Government bonds at an auction held by the Hanoi Stock Exchange (HNX) on March 25.

Accordingly, it offered G-bonds of 10-, 15- and 20-year maturity, each worth 1 trillion VND.

Twenty-year bonds were sold for 301 billion VND at an annual interest rate of 3 percent, or 0.02 percent higher than the March 4 auction.

Since the beginning of this year, the State Treasury has mobilised over 32.9 trillion VND via G-bond auctions on the HNX.

Binh Thuan develops concentrated cultivation areas for key crops

The south central province of Binh Thuan has set up concentrated cultivation areas for key farm produce after six years of restructuring agricultural production.

The province’s key produce like dragon fruit, rubber and shrimp fry have large concentrated cultivating areas and use advanced farming techniques.

Mai Kieu, director of the province’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said under the province’s agricultural restructuring plan, the province has gradually shifted from individual and small - scale production to production with linkages among stakeholders.

“The province has determined that restructuring agriculture must include advanced farming techniques to enhance competitiveness and sustainable development,” he said.

The province, which is the country’s largest dragon fruit producer, has established concentrated dragon fruit growing areas with a total of 10,000ha that meet Vietnamese good agricultural practices (VietGAP) standards.

The VietGAP quality dragon fruit areas account for 35 percent of the province’s total dragon fruit area.

Farmers have used organic fertiliser and bio-products to grow VietGAP quality dragon fruits and applied efficient irrigation methods like automatic spraying and drip irrigation to save water.

Besides the VietGAP quality dragon fruit areas, the province is developing the cultivation of dragon fruit with advanced techniques, including growing dragon fruit vines on trellises, mostly in Ham Thuan Nam, Ham Thuan Bac and Bac Binh districts.

The model of growing dragon fruit vines on trellises saves growing space and has a yield of two times higher than traditional farming methods, according to dragon fruit growers.

Do Minh Kinh, director of the province’s Department of Industry and Trade, said the province’s dragon fruits have been exported to 15 markets in Asia, Europe and America.

Besides producing fresh dragon, the province has also produced processed dragon fruit products such as juice, dried dragon fruit and wines. Such products have received warm responses from consumers.

Under its agricultural restructuring plan, Binh Thuan has turned ineffective rice fields to grow other drought-resistant crops that have high value such as dragon fruit, grape and mango.

Last year, farmers transferred more than 3,000ha of rice to grow other crops, according to the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The province had 192,990ha of farmland last year, including 118,000ha of rice.

Up to 80 percent of the rice farming area have used certified seeds for cultivation and improving rice quality and yield.

The province has encouraged rice farmers to rotate growing rice in the rainy season and growing drought-resistant crops in the dry season to secure irrigation water for crops in drought-prone areas.

In Tuy Phong district, which is one of the province’s driest areas, farmers have switched to grow dragon fruit, grape, mango and coconut as the crops offer high value and are suitable for adapting to drought conditions.

The province is building a 2,000ha hi-tech agriculture zone in Bac Binh district to develop high value and drought-resistant crops, including onions, garlic and medicinal plants.

Le Tuan Phong, deputy chairman of the provincial People’s Committee, said the province will focus on expanding suitable farming models in its agricultural restructuring.

The province will boost linkages among stakeholders to develop value chains for agricultural produce, he said./.

Ca Mau province works to ease pandemic’s impact on shrimp export

Vietnamese firms strive to revitalise agricultural exports to ChinaChina remains the largest buyer of Vietnam’s agricultural products, so Vietnamese businesses are making preparations to boost exports to this market when it recovers after the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Due to the impact of COVID-19, agricultural exports to China in the first two months of 2020 dropped 22.2 percent to 658 million USD from the same period last year, but the market retained its position as the top destination for Vietnamese farm produce.

Over the last few days, customs clearance at border gates has resumed.

The Kim Thanh International Border Gate No. 2 in the northern province of Lao Cai has recorded about 100 trucks shipping goods, mainly agricultural products like dragon fruit and watermelon, to China each day.

Dang Phuc Nguyen, Secretary General of the Vietnam Fruit and Vegetables Association, told the Dau tu (Vietnam Investment Review) newspaper that trading activities between Vietnam and China are gradually regaining pre-pandemic levels. The Chinese Government has also taken measures to recover trade with other countries.

He recommended businesses promote quality and food safety and keep prices competitive to capitalise on chances to foster exports after the epidemic.

Chanh Thu Fruit Export – Import Company, based in the Mekong Delta province of Ben Tre, recently exported batches of dragon fruit to China.

Deputy Director of the company Ngo Tuong Vy has recognised positive signs in the neighbouring market, but is still cautious since the COVID-19 pandemic remains complex and consumption demand in China has yet to stabilise.

The price of farm produce and accompanied services like transportation have increased, requiring firms to respond to market fluctuations, she said.

Vy noted her business has prepared for 2020, suggesting other companies and farmers should also take into account the worst-case scenarios. If the market is unable to recover in the second and third quarters, this year should be the time for them to restructure cultivation areas and production processes.

Bagico JSC, a fruit exporter based in the northern province of Bac Giang, is also making more plans to cope with any possible changes in the market.

Bagico Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Thanh Thuc said that though exports of agricultural products to China by road are gradually recovering, companies should also consider shipments by sea. As exports by sea take more time, they need to make thorough preparations in terms of processing and preservation.

In 2019, the Tam Vu Dragon Fruit Cooperative in the Mekong Delta province of Long An exported seven containers of red dragon fruit to China by sea.

Director Truong Quang An said apart from China, the cooperative is considering shipping the fruit by sea to other markets like Malaysia, Thailand and the Middle East./.

VINADIC to pour $154m in five-star resort in Ba Ria-Vung Tau 

Vietnam Construction Investment Development Company (VINADIC) plans to invest more than VND3.6 trillion (US$154.5 million) in AMACCAO resort and eco-tourism project in the southern province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau.

The investment proposal has been recently submitted to provincial authorities.

The project, expected to cover 18.9ha in Binh Xuyen District, will be a five-star resort, including villas, apartments, hotels, resorts, catering services and restaurants.

If the local authorities approve the plan, the construction will start in the third quarter of this year and come into operation in the third quarter of 2027. The operation time of the project is 50 years.

VINADIC was officially established in 2001, headquartered in Ha Noi. It mainly focuses on construction and engineering activities, including roads, infrastructure, irrigation and civil constructions projects. 

Viet Nam to launch national promotion programme

The Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) will organise the National Promotion Programme 2020 from July 1 to 31 nationwide.

MoIT suggested businesses of all fields and sectors to join the programme which will offer the maximum value of promotional goods and services of 100 per cent.

MoIT’s Department of Trade Promotion, as the organiser of the programme, said the purpose is to gather businesses on a national scale to improve purchasing power from consumers, both domestic and international, with various promotional activities.

The department also planned to use the programme to enhance e-commerce activities together with traditional shopping and retailing.

The programme will boost production activities and improve the competitiveness of enterprises. It will give firms the chance to apply different technology to have diverse and smart business models and better interact with consumers.

The event is also an opportunity to promote quality products from different regions of Viet Nam to consumers across the country and foreign visitors together with traditional local festivals to attract and promote tourism in local areas.

It is also expected to help overcome the COVID-19 pandemic, contributing to ensuring economic growth.

The organiser said they planned to open a ceremony for the programme on July 3 in Ha Noi and HCM City. — 

Finance ministry aims to soothe market's coronavirus woes 

The Ministry of Finance (MoF) has stepped in to support the local stock market, which has been hard-hit by the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The MoF issued a circular guiding the reduction and exemption of 15 types of securities-related services, the ministry announced on Thursday.

The fee reductions and exemptions will last at least more than five months, starting from March 19 to the end of August 31.

Fees of nine services will be cut by 10 per cent to 50 per cent. Of them, a 10 per cent cut will be applied for fees of three services, which are trading services on the underlying market, trading services on the derivatives market and securities depository services.

Fees of two services will get 15 per cent to 20 per cent cuts, including position management services and collateral management services on the derivatives market.

A 30 per cent to 50 per cent reduction will be applied to fees of four services, which are covered warrants listings management; rights exercise services; securities transfer services; auction services and competitive offers.

The circular also stated fees of six services will be exempted, including listing registration services; securities registration; first-time online connection services; securities borrowing and lending services via the system of the Securities Depository Centre; member registration for derivatives trading; and members clearing registration.

The MoF requested all securities service-providing organisations immediately cut or exempt service fees regarding the new fee changes to support organisations and individuals affected by the pandemic.

If the COVID-19 pandemic becomes more complicated, the MoF will consider extending the fee exemptions and reductions, it said.

According to Chairman of the State Securities Commission Tran Van Dung, the move aims to stabilise investors’ psychology, soothe the market and ensure social security amidst the pandemic. 

Pandemic pushes shoppers online, but only for essentials

With more people staying indoors due to the COVID-19 pandemic, online shopping is enjoying a surge in popularity.

While sales at traditional markets in Ha Noi have decreased by 50-80 per cent, revenue through e-commerce channels has increased by 20-30 per cent, according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

"The number of people using VinID to shop online has tripled. Scan&Go bills soared by 15 times at peak time," Mai Lan Van, VinID’s marketing director, said in an interview with Viet Nam Television (VTV).

However, Tran Tuan Anh, managing director of Shopee Viet Nam, told VnExpress that they have not seen any direct link between the outbreak and the growth in online shopping.

Statistics by SimilarWeb showed that visits to the four largest online shopping sites in Viet Nam, including Shopee, Tiki, Lazada and Sendo, in the first two months of this year decreased by 14 per cent compared to the same period last year.

Nguyen Ngoc Dung, vice president of the Viet Nam E-Commerce Association (VECOM), said that consumers were more interested in online shopping during the epidemic, but only for essential goods.

The overall purchasing power of the economy was declining as buyers tightened spending during the pandemic, therefore, many commodity groups were seeing online sales drop, he said.

Some essential commodities for the epidemic, such as masks and hand sanitiser, are purchased in high amounts.

Demand for necessities and medical supplies throughout the Vietnamese e-commerce market soared.

E-commerce site Tiki said that the most purchased products were masks, wet wipes and air purifiers.

The site recorded 4,000-5,000 orders per minute during peak times, while goods must be continuously restored.

Tiki’s growth in shopping demand surged 15 per cent compared to the last two months of last year. 

Solar rooftop industry poised for rapid growth

Technological advances, preferential credit policies and pricing incentives have set the stage for solar rooftop energy to become the next big thing in clean energy in Viet Nam, according to industry insiders.

As the number of solar farms surged in 2018-19, the Ministry of Industry and Trade has suspended the issuance of new licenses for solar farms. This, however, does not cover solar rooftop projects, which still enjoy a purchasing price of US 8.39 cents per kWh. The price point, despite having been scaled down from a previous of 9.35 cent per kWh, was still largely considered as profitable by investors.

Several preferential policies by the State have also been implemented to shorten the return of investment period to no more than 5-7 years compared to 10-12 years previously, industry insiders have said.

In addition, strides have been made in battery technology that has allowed the production of greater capacity units at lower costs. As solar rooftop technology becomes increasingly economically viable, individual households and real estate developers have shown more interest in getting involved. Meanwhile, large-scale installations in industrial zones now boast even greater potential to cut costs.

According to the HCM City-based export-processing zone Hepza Business Association (HBA), more than 1,000 factories located in the city’s numerous industrial zones have signed up to develop solar rooftop energy with BCG Energy, a subsidiary of Bamboo Capital Group.

The association said during 2020-24, it will develop up to 300MWp through solar rooftop projects to bring it to 1000MWp and cut carbon emissions by 23 million tonnes.

Last week, SkyX Solar, a subsidiary of VinaCapital, and HCM City-based telecommunications firm Saigontel formed a joint venture to develop a solar rooftop project with a combined capacity of 50MWp in 10 industrial zones in Viet Nam’s central and southern regions.

Likewise, real estate developers have wasted no time hopping on the wagon. Developer Novaland and TTC Energy have signed a partnership, which will power Aqua City’s public utility demand with solar-based energy projects.

TTC Energy’s track record includes solar projects with a combined output of more than 700,000 kW in Jamona City and Jamona Golden Silk, which the firm claimed help cut emissions by 232 tonnes per year. TTC Energy has also been working with large supermarket chains including Saigon Co.op, Giga Mall Pham Van Dong, cinema chain Galaxy and tourism park Dam Sen.

Traditionally shunned for high costs and dismal efficiency, solar rooftop projects have seen a second wind as more preferential policies were implemented, said HBA’s chairman Nguyen Van Be.

Be said solar rooftop may hold the answer to the country’s energy shortage in the future and could be key to cutting carbon emissions. 

Viettel's total revenue increases by 12.8 per cent in February

Viettel's total revenue increased by 12.8 per cent last month over the same period last year despite the complex developments of the COVID-19 pandemic.

By the end of February, Viettel's service revenue hit 102 per cent of its plan for the month.

Digital transformation businesses of the group enjoyed growth, in particular, Viettel Business Solutions grew 111 per cent and Digital Viettel 107 per cent.

Its domestic telecommunications sector increased 8.6 per cent over the same period.

The group’s foreign telecommunication grew 21.5 per cent last month over the same period last year.

Most overseas markets have completed their monthly plans, of which the outstanding one is Halotel (Viettel’s brand in Tanzania) fulfilling 110 per cent of the plan.

Mekong Delta fruit cultivation hit by saltwater intrusion

Saltwater intrusion has affected many fruit growing areas in the Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta as farmers struggle to secure irrigation water for their orchards.

The delta, the country’s largest fruit producer, is facing severe saltwater intrusion in the ongoing dry season, which has exceeded the record set in the 2015- 16 dry season.

In Chợ Lách District, which has the largest fruit growing area in Bến Tre Province, saltwater is threatening 20,000ha of fruits and 1,300ha of plant seedlings, flowers and ornamental plants, according to the district’s Bureau of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Bùi Thanh Liêm, head of the bureau, said farmers have carried out measures like closing sluices and building temporary dams, using huge plastic bags to store irrigation water for fruit trees.

They also have been using barges, boats and vehicles to transport irrigation from other places to the district.

However, many fruit trees have been damaged because of saltwater intrusion which could increase if saltwater intrusion continues a long time.

In Tiền Giang, which is the delta’s largest fruit growing province, more than 36,000ha of fruits, including 12,000ha of durian in Cái Bè, Cai Lậy and Châu Thành districts and Cai Lậy Town, are facing water shortage, according to the province’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Ngô Văn Mười, who has had a 7,000 sq.m durian orchard for 14 years in Cay Lậy District, said his family did not have irrigation water over the past month.

“Seeing the durian trees dying, I feel so sad,” he said.

Many farmers in Tiền Giang have to buy water at a high price to irrigate orchards, mostly for durian which has high economic value.

To help durian farmers, the Tiền Giang People’s Committee has hired barges to transport irrigation water.

The water supply will last until the end of next month.

Trần Hữu Phong, deputy chairman of the Châu Thành District People’s Committee in Tiền Giang, said the district has set up three sites to provide irrigation water for fruit orchards.

The district has mobilised vehicles to transport water to fruit orchards.

Before the 2019 - 20 dry season, authorities and farmers in the delta carried out measures to mitigate the impact of saltwater intrusion to rice, fruits and other crops, including changing rice farming schedules, building irrigation works and storing fresh water.

Under the instruction of authorities, most farmers in the delta sowed the 2019- 20 winter – spring rice crop one month early.

Therefore, rice farmers have nearly completed harvesting a bumper crop.

However, because of severe saltwater intrusion, many fruit growing areas in the delta have still been affected.

The ongoing saltwater intrusion could affect 130,000ha of the delta 300,000ha of fruits in the 2019 – 20 dry season, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Water with a salinity of 4 grammes per litre is expected to enter 45 - 95 km deep into the delta’s main rivers like Vàm Cỏ Đông, Vàm Cỏ Cây, Hàm Luông, Cổ Chiên, Hậu and Cái Lớn rivers between March 16 – 20, according to the National Centre for Hydro-Meteorology Forecasting.

Võ Hữu Thoại, deputy head of the Southern Horticultural Research Institute, said each type of fruit has a different salt tolerance and farmers should be careful in using irrigation water on their fruit trees.

Durian, rambutan, mangosteen, longan and banana, for instance, have a salt tolerance of 0.5 – 1 grammes per litre while coconut, sapodilla and tamarind have a salt tolerance of 5 – 6 grammes per litre. 

Key traffic projects begin in Đà Nẵng

The central city has commenced construction of a west ring road and bridge to ease congestion on National Highway1A and link Highway 14B with the southeast urban zone.

The city’s priority infrastructure project includes a 14.3km section and a bridge spanning the Cổ Cò River, with total investment of US$61.37 million.

The project is being funded by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) Fund for International Development and the city.

The project will help connect industrial parks and zones in Liên Chiểu District and suburbs in the south on the way to Hội An.

Contractors have been given 17 months to complete the project.

The city's transport department said on Tuesday that it would start construction of a flyover at the busy junction of the Trần Thị Lý Bridge and a two-tunnel project at another junction west of the Rồng (Dragon) Bridge with a total investment of $41.3 million.

The multi-level junction will help ease congestion from Đà Nẵng Airport to beach tourism sites in Sơn Trà and Ngũ Hành Sơn districts, as well as Hội An.

The ministry and the city have been jointly developing a series of strategic projects, such as the relocation of the railway station; upgrading sea ports and the expansion of the Hải Vân Tunnel; and a new Liên Chiểu port and Kim Liên railway cargo station.

Đà Nẵng plans to become a ‘green and smart’ city by 2025.

The World Bank has been providing loans for Đà Nẵng's priority infrastructure projects and sustainable development since 2008.

Services fees exempted for transport companies

Transport companies will be exempt from service fees for the time being having cut back on passengers to minimise the spread of COVID-19.

Nguyễn Anh Toàn, director of the Hà Nội Transport Station Joint Stock Company (Transerco), said the decision also aimed to support transport companies during this difficult period.

Toàn confirmed that the Transerco would ensure preventive measures for every coach leaving bus station.

The measures include free face masks for passengers, sterilisers and regularly spraying sterilising substances.

A report by the Hà Nội Department of Transport showed the number of passengers in February was down significantly due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Passengers at the Giáp Bát, Mỹ Đình and Gia Lâm coach stations fell by 30-40 per cent, and tumbled 65 per cent at Nước Ngầm Station.

Transport by taxi was also down by 50-60 per cent and tourist passengers had fallen 70-80 per cent. Goods decreased by 30 per cent compared with the same period last year.

Transport companies have reduced their journeys and asked state management organisations to defer debts, tax, social insurance and fees for road maintenance.

Vietsovpetro joins International Maritime Contractors Association

Vietnam-Russia oil and gas joint venture (Vietsovpetro) has officially become a member of the International Maritime Contractors Association (IMCA).

This is an important milestone affirming Vietsovpetro’s brand in providing offshore marine services in the domestic and international markets.

Recognising the importance of developing external services in parallel with oil and gas exploration and exploitation activities, the company’s marine transportation and diving services division has prepared required documents since early 2019 and applied to join the association in November last year.

From 2016 to 2019, Vietsovpetro participated in and won bids to provide remotely operated vehicle (ROV) surveying services for many investors such as PV GAS, Hoang Long - Hoan Vu JOC, among others, thus confirming the quality of its services in the field of underground survey.

However, there was still a number of underground survey bidding packages that Vietsovpetro could not participate in, when the investors required contractors to have certificates issued by IMCA.

As a member of IMCA, Vietsopetro have to strictly abide by safety requirements in implementing projects in order to be considered for certificate extension in the following years.

It will receive consultancy from IMCA to effectively and professionally providing underground survey services to both external and internal projects.

Formed in 1995, IMCA is a leading trade association representing the vast majority of contractors and the associated supply chain in the offshore marine construction industry worldwide.

With its mission to improve performance in the marine contracting industry, IMCA provides services to five regions of the world, including Asia - Pacific, North America, Europe - Africa, Middle East - India and South America./.

 
 

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