BUSINESS NEWS HEADLINES DECEMBER 17

Coffee exports suffer strong drops

Coffee exports in November saw a 13.9 percent decrease in volume to 120,000 tonnes, earning 207 million USD, a drop of 20.4 percent compared to the same period last year.

According to statistics of the General Department of Vietnam Customs, the volume of coffee shipments abroad in the January-November period came to 1.473 million tonnes, down 14.6 percent, while export value also experienced a 22.2 percent decrease to nearly 2.54 billion USD.

The total export volume for the entire 2019 is estimated at 1.57 million tonnes, and the value at 2.7 billion USD, falling 16.57 percent and 21.17 percent, respectively, from 2018.

Do Ha Nam, former Vice Chairman of the Vietnam Coffee-Cocoa Association, said the reductions are attributable to falling coffee prices in the world market in line with the 10-year cycle. Previously, 2010 was also a bad year for coffee exporters.

He added that although coffee prices began to pick up in early December, the situation remains gloomy for Vietnamese coffee growers as some big exporting countries like Brazil have reported good harvest.

Nam called on the industry to expand instant coffee production to make use of tariff incentives offered by bilateral and multilateral free trade agreements that Vietnam has signed.

135 projects become operational in Bac Ninh’s industrial parks in 2019

BUSINESS NEWS HEADLINES DECEMBER 17

A total of 135 projects have been put into operation at industrial parks in the northern province of Bac Ninh so far this year, raising the total number of operational projects in local IPs to 1,070.

Firms in Bac Ninh’s IPs generated over 1,151 trillion VND (49.45 billion USD) in industrial production value, exported 22.6 billion USD worth of products, and contributed 11.5 trillion VND to the state budget.

From the outset of the year, the management boards of the local industrial parks revoked investment certificates and investment registration certificates of 237 projects with total registered capital of 942.6 million USD.

After two decades, the industrial parks have become an important part of the local economy, promoting the economic structure transform, while improving the province’s capacity in production and technology transfer, enhancing production efficiency and engaging deeper into the global production chain.

Established on August 25, 1998 under the Prime Minister’s Decision 152, the Management Board of Bac Ninh Industrial Parks has overcome various difficulties to complete all assigned tasks.

Particularly, strong performance in investment management and industrial park planning has helped Bac Ninh strongly thrive from a poor locality to one of the richest localities and a socio-economic development model with increasing role in the national economy.

Since 2000 when Bac Ninh launched its first industrial park of Tien Son, the province has currently had 16 concentrated industrial parks covering nearly 6,400 hectares. Ten of them have been operational. The occupancy ratio of the park has reached 88 percent of cleared land, much higher than the national average ratio.

Cashew nut exports to China rise sharply

Vietnam has recorded a surge in cashew nut exports to China despite a decline in shipments of many agricultural products to this neighbouring market.

A number of agricultural products have faced challenges in export to China this year as it has tightened control on product quality and cross-border trade.

However, cashew nut exports to China have been soaring, exceeding 58,100 tonnes worth 447.2 million USD in the first 10 months, respectively rising by over 58 percent and 36.3 percent, according to the General Department of Vietnam Customs.

By the end of November, Vietnamese businesses had shipped more than 418,000 tonnes of cashew nut abroad for almost 3 billion USD, while this year’s targets are 450,000 tonnes and 3.5 billion USD.

The US was still the biggest importer of Vietnamese cashew nut, followed by China and the Netherlands.

Data of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development show that the agriculture sector enjoyed a trade surplus of 8.8 billion USD in the 11 months.

The country earned 37.3 billion USD from the export of farm produce and forestry and aquatic products in the reviewed period, a year-on-year increase of 3.6 percent. Meanwhile, 28.5 billion USD was spent on agro-forestry-fishery imports, down 0.7 percent.

China remained the largest buyer of agricultural products from Vietnam, accounting for 26.9 percent of the total exports. It was followed by the US, the EU, ASEAN, and Japan.

VND6,686 billion credit package signed for Trung Luong – My Thuan expressway

Four banks approved a loan of VND6,686 billion (US$287.55 million) to fund the ongoing Trung Luong – My Thuan expressway in the Mekong Delta province of Tien Giang.

The banks including VietinBank, BIDV, Agribank and VPBank signed a credit agreement with Trung Luong – My Thuan BOT JSC on December 16 to lend a total of VND6,686 billion for the expressway project, a vitally important transport project in the Southwest region.

According to the deal, VietinBank pledged a loan of VND3,300 billion, BIDV pledged VND1,500 billion, Agribank pledged VND1,000 billion and VPBank pledged VND886 billion, respectively.

General Director of Trung Luong – My Thuan BOT JSC Nguyen Tan Dong said that the signing of the credit agreement is an important milestone which will help accelerate the progress of the 51km expressway to meet the expectations of 20 million people in the Mekong Delta region.

Earlier, the company also received a fund of VND1,390 billion out of VND2,186 billion from the State budget.

The 51km expressway was commenced in November 2009 but so far only 27% of the project has been completed mainly due to shortage of capital.

The expressway runs through five districts of Tien Giang province. It is a key project to ease overload for the National Highway 1A and also among arterial routes to connect the Southwest region with Ho Chi Minh City and the key Southern economic region.

The project is expected to be completed in late 2020.

Government urges quick disbursement of public investment by year end

The Ministry of Planning and Investment has proposed withholding investment next year for projects that had been slow to disburse their allocated funding in 2019.

According to the proposal, projects that had disbursed less than 50 percent of their assigned public investment as of November 30 this year would not be eligible for continued funding for next year.

According to the General Statistics Office, total public investment disbursement in the first 11 months of this year reached 299 trillion VND (13 billion USD), equivalent to 78.6 percent of the annual target and an increase of 5.5 percent compared to the same period last year.

However, the disbursement rate was assessed to have remained low.

The Ministry of Planning and Investment blamed the delays on a lack of proper planning and direction from ministries and local authorities.

Compensation for land clearance lacked transparency, leading to public complaints and delays.

Minister of Transport Nguyen Van The recently said most projects on the North-South Expressway had been delayed due to slow land compensation payments.

Nguyen Trung Hoang, vice chairman of the People’s Committee of Tra Vinh Province, one of the localities that recorded the slowest investment disbursement, said too many projects had been assigned to a single contractor, leading to overloading.

The province had disbursed only 45 percent (about 2 trillion VND) of its total public investment for the year.

According to Do Thanh Trung, deputy head of the Department of National Economic Issues at the Ministry of Planning and Investment, this year’s disbursement of Government bonds and Official Development Assistance had been slower than last year due to changing mid-term financial plans and other adjustments.

Major projects that took up almost 50 percent of Government bonds this year such as the North-South Expressway, Long Thanh International Airport and other transport infrastructure had recorded slow disbursement, affecting the allocation process for the whole country.

To accelerate the process with one month of the year left, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has ordered agencies to review and complete a legal framework on investment management, and to lift barriers to facilitate disbursement.

Public investment disbursement must be accelerated without wastefulness or loss. There was no room for corruption or group benefits, the PM highlighted.

The Government has instructed ministries, sectors and localities to impose strict punishments on individuals and organisations which delayed projects or tried to siphon off the top.

Weak officials who abused their power to direct public investment management and bidding must be replaced, he said.

The Ministry of Planning and Investment has proposed four solutions to accelerate the allocation, including holding heads of ministries, sectors and localities responsible for delays.

Economic expert Vu Dinh Anh told Vietnam News Agency that low-efficiency projects where investment procedures had not been set should not receive any more funding.

Investment should focus on efficient projects where we could speed up disbursement ahead of schedule to put them into operation, he said.

According to Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyen Chi Dung, the revised Law on Investment would facilitate public investment disbursement.

In 2020 when the new law takes effect, the improvements might not be immediately clear, but in 2021 we will start to see positive changes, he said./.

HCMC, Mekong Delta localities cut deal to rev up tourism cooperation

Leaders of HCMC and 13 localities from the Mekong Delta region have signed a cooperation agreement to develop tourism in the 2020-2025 period at a function held in Bac Lieu Province on December 14.

Duong Thanh Trung, chairman of the Mekong Delta province of Bac Lieu, noted that despite its high potential, tourism in the Mekong Delta region has not developed well, leading to a lack of high-quality tourism centers and the provision of substandard tourism products. “Thus, the agreement will effectively help HCMC and Mekong localities to boost tourism development in the region to ensure socioeconomic development.”

Doan Tan Buu, vice chairman of Dong Thap People's Committee, held the same view, adding that the regional tourism space has not focused on building specific products and attractive destinations.

Moreover, tourism offerings are still spontaneous and unprofessional. The same tourism products are offered in many localities, leaving tourists bored.

“Therefore, to develop tourism cooperation between HCMC and Dong Thap and the rest of the Mekong Delta region, we have invested in infrastructure for land and waterways to improve connectivity with HCMC and other localities,” he stated, adding that tourism products will be enhanced.

Tourism cooperation among Mekong Delta localities is not wide reaching, so these localities have not exploited their full potential, remarked HCMC Chairman Nguyen Thanh Phong. The lack of cooperation over important regional connectivity projects is one example of this.

“HCMC is home to nearly 1,500 travel companies. In 2019, we welcomed 8.5 million international tourists and 32.7 million domestic travelers,” Phong noted. “If two-thirds of tourists choose tours linking HCMC and Mekong localities, this will create a major change for the region’s tourism.”

According to the chairman, HCMC’s tourism is strong in terms of Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions (MICE); shopping; food and beverages; entertainment; and urban community culture. Meanwhile, the Mekong Delta’s strengths are ecotourism, horticulture, rivers and islands. The common advantages of the whole region are its values of heritage, culture and the typical routine of the southern people.

Nguyen Thien Nhan, Secretary of the HCMC Party Committee, is interested in serving tourists with varying demands. “HCMC cannot meet all demands alone. We only have shopping and MICE centers. We do not have ecotourism and typical culture,” he said, adding “We must work together to produce rich tourism programs to meet those demands, targeting keeping tourists in Vietnam for a longer period.”

Nhan suggested that localities in the region must also adopt systems to promote travel businesses and exploit specific tourism products. It is also necessary to call for major companies to invest in large tourism projects here.

In 2019, the Mekong Delta region attracted 47 million tourists. The number of overnight guests is estimated at 13.5 million. The region earned VND30 trillion in tourism revenue during the year.

U.S. firms help HCMC resolve urban issues: AmCham

The U.S. business community will help HCMC tackle pressing urban issues, especially transport infrastructure and waste treatment, to bolster the city’s economic growth, according to Amanda Rasmussen, chairwoman of the American Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam.

Rasmussen was in talks with the city’s vice chairman, Le Thanh Liem, while meeting on December 13, reported the Vietnam News Agency.

Cooperation between Vietnam and the United States has made significant progress since normalizing relations. Over the past 25 years, their leaders and people have made efforts to boost the comprehensive development of bilateral relations, according to Liem.

He noted that the American business community has made positive contributions to the ties between HCMC and the United States. To date, AmCham members have invested in 400 projects worth more than US$1 billion in HCMC, ranking 10th among foreign investors in the city.

The city government is striving to reform its administrative procedures and streamline the local investment environment, in an effort to make business easier for foreign investors, including those from AmCham, he added.

He called upon U.S. firms to become involved in projects on smart city, innovative city, waste and effluent treatment, as well as urban infrastructure.


Amanda Rasmussen, chairwoman of the American Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam, speaks at the December 13 meeting – PHOTO: VNA
Meanwhile, AmCham’s Rasmussen revealed that the chamber has attracted more than 1,500 member firms, which play a role in stimulating trade and investment between the two nations.

She noted that the members highly value efforts by the municipal government in innovating its management methods and reforming administrative procedures.

She added that they hope to help the city solve urban issues, such as transport infrastructure, environmental treatment and energy, in order to stimulate local economic growth and innovation, while raising living standards for residents.

Also, representatives of U.S. firms told the vice chairman that the city remains very attractive to many investors, including those from the United States.

They noted that the city’s infrastructure facilities, particularly those in the transport sector, are becoming overstretched, and fail to meet everyday needs.

For the sake of attracting investments, they urged the local government to prioritize the upgrade and completion of transport infrastructure, especially in the gateways to industrial parks, export processing zones and ports.

As for waste treatment, investors could fund high-tech waste treatment services to generate electricity and gas, rather than the current practice of depositing waste in landfill. However, the city needs to bring in measures to classify waste at their sources.

The investors also called on the city authority and the Vietnamese Government to develop a fair, transparent and open legal system for the management and use of databases, and complete the public-private partnership mechanism.

The move is intended to enable foreign investors to provide cooperation and support for the city to carry out strategic projects and schemes.

ACB, FWD to launch e-bancassurance partnership

Asia Commercial Joint Stock Bank (ACB) and FWD Vietnam Life Insurance Company Limited (FWD) on December 12 announced a landmark e-bancassurance partnership, the first of its kind in Vietnam, allowing ACB customers to easily purchase FWD insurance products through the bank’s website with a few clicks.

Under the agreement, ACB will provide completely online insurance products through its network.

FWD Cancer Care, with annual premiums starting from VND99,000, will be the first product launched through the online platform.

Tu Tien Phat, executive vice president of ACB, noted that ACB’s mission will make all the difference in customer service. Besides traditional distribution networks such as transaction offices and branches, ACB is constantly developing internet banking and mobile applications.

“We believe that through this partnership with FWD, an insurance partner with a prominent advantage in digitalization, ACB will enhance the diversity of its service channels, helping ACB customers easily purchase bancassurance products anywhere, anytime,” Phat remarked.

Huynh Huu Khang, CEO of FWD Vietnam, said the partnership between the two parties shares the same purpose of providing the right financial products to customers and leading customer experience through state-of-the-art technological innovation.

“This partnership has opened up a new path not only for ACB and FWD but also for the whole Vietnamese insurance industry, and I hope that it will bring the best financial protection to many more Vietnamese people and enable us to continue changing the way people feel about insurance,” Khang stated.

New expectations about Korean in Vietnam

As of November 2019, the Republic of Korea (ROK) remained the largest foreign investor among the 132 countries and territories investing in Vietnam, at US$66.82 billion, accounting for 18.5% of total foreign investment in Vietnam.

The vast Korean investment is manifested not only in the number of newly registered projects or large-scale projects but also in the fields of investment. Previously Korean investment was mainly concentrated on production-export but recently Korean investment has shifted strongly towards manufacturing, banking and finance, services, entertainment and property.

More and more giant Korean corporations such as SK, KEB Hana Bank are present in Vietnam while names such as LG, Samsung, KIA and Lotte have become all too familiar.

Along with the investment flow, Vietnam’s imports from the ROK have also increased rapidly because Korean firms use their investment in Vietnam to import machinery, equipment and materials to serve their manufacturing in Vietnam. Vietnam and the ROK are aiming to raise bilateral trade from US$65 billion in 2018 to US$100 billion in 2020.

With its new southern policy, the ROK is now one of the top ten outbound investors in the world. The need for a destination to replace China is driving Korean businesses to Vietnam.

Korean enterprises are stepping up opening offices, building factories, establishing joint ventures, purchasing shares at Vietnamese enterprises in order to realise investment opportunities through both direct and indirect investment.

An increasingly improved business environment, cheap labour, a golden population, high economic growth and political stability are the reasons causing Vietnam to become an attractive destination in the eyes of Korean investors.

Experts said that, during the process, Vietnam is compared to a “fulcrum” for Korean firms to maintain their global competitiveness. For the Vietnamese side, the country places high expectation on new Korean investment, especially in advanced technologies, new technologies, renewable energy, smart city development and agriculture. The question is what Vietnam should do to take advantage of the new opportunities and join the ROK’s global manufacturing network.

In order for Korean investment in Vietnam to become more substantive, it is necessary to continue removing economic bottlenecks by stepping up business environment reform, developing infrastructure, enhancing workforce quality, and fine-tuning the legal system in a way that is consistent, transparent, predictable and in accordance with international standards. In addition, policies are needed to attract large-scale projects with new technologies and highly competitive products.

EVN raises warnings over drying reservoir

Electricity of Vietnam Group (EVN) has reported alarmingly low water levels at the Hoa Binh Reservoir.

The water level at Hoa Binh Reservoir is 10 metres lower than in previous years. Statistics from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment show that water level at major reservoirs in the Red River basin is also low and will lead to a water shortage.

Last year, many people opened boat services and brought tourists to sightseeing Hoa Binh Reservoir. However, the boats were of no use this year.

"The water level has never dropped so low. At least last year, the water still reached the rocky shore," a boatman said.

Hung, a local in Hoa Binh, said the amount of water flowing into the Da River basin is also the amount of water going into Hoa Binh Reservoir. "It is reaching the dead storage level which is 85 metres," he said. "The rocky sides of the reservoir are being exposed as the water level gradually decreases."

Nguyen Dinh Thuy from Hoa Binh Hydroelectric Company said the water level was at 102.46 metres while the usual level was 117 metres. The current amount of water was 2.10 billion cubic metres lower than last year's level.

 

"The water level is so low that we can walk straight to the engines. For 30 years working at Hoa Binh Company, this is the first time I saw such low water level," he said.

Nguyen Van Minh, director of Hoa Binh Hydroelectric Company, said the floodwater in 2019 was low because of climate change and only accounted for 51% of previous years. During the flood season from June 15 to September 15, Hoa Binh Reservoir only received 14.70 billion cubic metres of water, a record low since the company was established.

Drought and prolonged water shortages have been forecasted. Hoa Binh Reservoir has to provide water for spring-winter crops in the downstream as well as produce electricity. Minh said lacking 2.9 billion cubic metres of water means they were lacking 680 million Kw/h.

Minh didn't confirm whether there would be more power outages but he went on to say that they would face more difficulties and the operation must be calculated carefully.

Dakrong 4 Hydropower Plant officially opened in Quang Tri

A new hydropower plant project has been put into use in the central province of Quang Tri.

The authorities in Quang Tri Province attended the opening ceremony of Dakrong 4 Hydropower Plant on December 13. The project is invested by Son Hai Hydroelectric Joint Stock Company Quang Tri.

Nguyen Duc Chinh, chairman of Quang Tri People's Committee, said the project cost VND1.4trn (USD60.0m) with a 28-metre high and 183-metre long dam. The plant will be able to produce 85 million Kwh a year.

The investor also contributed VND60bn (USD2.6m) to the provincial budget and spent VND46bn on upgrading the roads to the construction site and the residential area.

"One more hydropower project completed means Quang Tri has become nearer to the goal of becoming central region's power centre," Chinh said.

The hydropower plant has been put into operation for a short time and earned VND7bn in revenue.

Quang Tri has contributed a huge amount of money to the state budget from its various power projects including solar and wind power projects that have high capacity.

Vinamilk to spend $75m to advance 2019 dividend

Việt Nam Dairy Products Joint Stock Company (Vinamilk), one of the country's leading dairy producers, has agreed to pay the second interim dividend for 2019.

The dividend will be paid in cash at the rate of 10 per cent, meaning that a shareholder will receive VNĐ1,000 for each of his/her share.

With over 1.7 billion shares in circulation, the company expects to spend VNĐ1.74 trillion (US$74.8 milion) to pay dividends.

The last registration date is December 2 this year. The date of payment is scheduled for February 28, 2020.

The company targets VNĐ56.3 trillion in total revenue and VNĐ10.5 trillion in net profit for 2019.

Vinamilk shares are listed on the Hồ Chí Minh Stock Exchange as VNM and climbed 0.25 per cent to end Monday morning session at VNĐ118,300 per share.

Creating environment for developing digital products and services

Innovation and creation are strategic and decisive factors for Viet Nam's success of digital economic transformation.

That was the message from Deputy Minister of Information and Communications Pham Hong Hai at the Internet Day 2019.

He was speaking as the Viet Nam Internet Association marked Internet Day 2019 with a conference titled “Internet Vietnam: Innovation for digital transformation” in Ha Noi on Wednesday.

The deputy minister said the country had been witnessing the birth of many tech businesses operating in a number of fields with new business models this year.

This clearly affirmed the determination of many businesses in becoming digital service providers and pioneering in the creation of digital society, he said.

This year also marked an important milestone in the research, application and development of 5G technology in Viet Nam, Hai emphasised.

The Ministry of Information and Communications has licensed 5G trials for three major telecommunication businesses.

This would create an important infrastructure for the development of the digital economy and better meet the demand of increasing connectivity speed and scale.

The Prime Minister also assigned the Ministry of Information and Communications to take responsibility in researching, developing and submitting to the Government the national digital transformation plan.

The project would be an overall plan to move towards a comprehensive digital economy and society by 2030.

One of the tasks and solutions determined in the draft of the plan was to create an environment for developing digital products, digital services, and new business models; improving the capacity of innovation and developing digital businesses.

A report on the digital economy in Southeast Asia showed that Viet Nam's digital economy has grown at 40 per cent a year, leading the region.

The country's global innovation index is ranked in 42nd place among 129 countries.

With a population of more than 96 million people and more than 60 million people using Internet services, Vietnamese users spend an average of more than six hours a day online.

About 94 per cent of internet users in the country use the internet daily.

“Looking at statistics, it can be seen that the majority of our economic and social activities take place online,” said the deputy minister of information and communications.

The internet had penetrated into all aspects of society; changed social awareness; created more innovative and effective business models; and accelerated the process of sustainable growth, he added.

Within the framework of the conference, the Viet Nam cloud computing and data centre club was launched to promote the market of cloud computing services and the development of data centres nationwide.

Vietnamese students intensify connectivity with Japanese firms

Nearly 200 international students, including those from Vietnam, have engaged in an exchange with representatives of 40 Japanese companies and organisations in Japan’s Aichi prefecture.

The annual event was held at the Nagoya Institute of Technology on December 14 by the Vietnam Alumni Association in Aichi prefecture (VARONET), the Vietnamese Youth and Student Association in the Tokai region and some relevant organisations.

The participating businesspeople introduced their enterprises’ operation as well as their employment demands and criteria towards foreigners.

On this occasion, graduates shared experience in seeking jobs at Japanese firms with students. They also exchanged experience in integrating in the host society.

Speaking at the event, Professor Yamamoto Izumi from the Nagoya Institute of Technology said the number of foreign students in Aichi is one the rise and these students come from different countries.

This has created opportunities for businesses in Aichi and its adjacent localities to employ quality workers although recruiting young labourers has become an urgent need in Japan, he said.

VARONET President Pham Duy Tung said the event has marked a development step in human resources cooperation between Vietnam and Aichi in particular and Japan in general.

Petrol prices drop slightly in latest review

The retail prices of petrol were reduced as from 3pm on December 16.

Specifically, the price of E5 RON92 was down 90 VND to 19,729 VND (0.85 USD) per litre at the highest, and that of RON95-III also fell by 192 VND to 20,886 VND per litre.

Meanwhile, the prices of diesel 0.05S and kerosene were capped at 16,063 VND and 15,016 VND per litre, up 75 VND and 54 VND per litre, respectively. Mazut 180CST 3.5S is sold at no more than 11,358 VND per kilogramme, up 170 VND per kg.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Ministry of Finance review fuel prices every 15 days to adjust domestic prices in accordance with fluctuations in the global market.

Da Nang continues drawing more investment

Building on the achievements of “The Year of Promoting Investment Attraction 2019”, the central city of Da Nang is taking key measures to draw more investment this year.

Accordingly, Da Nang will effectively realise its master plan till 2030 with a vision to 2045, complete procedures to hold land auctions for projects in the fields of health care, education, trade and services during the first quarter of next year.

The city will also call for domestic and foreign investment to high-tech, industrial and smart urban areas.

Chief of the Office of the municipal Department of Planning and Investment Tran Van Hoang said as of the late November, the department had consulted with the municipal People’s Committee about the licensing of nine projects worth over 8.8 trillion VND (382.6 million USD).

Da Nang has so far lured additional 689.3 million USD in foreign direct investment (FDI).

As of November 31, the city has been home to 812 FDI projects with a total registered capital of over 3.47 billion USD.

As part of the efforts to improve the business climate, local authorities will promptly remove obstacles faced by businesses and seek promising and strategic investors specialised in precision engineering, automation, information technology, support industry and quality services in education, health care, tourism, trade and logistics.

Ba Ria-Vung Tau selective about investments, prioritises high-tech

Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province, one of eight provinces and cities in the Southern Key Economic Zone, has for many years been an ideal destination for foreign investors thanks to its natural advantages and comprehensively developed infrastructure in addition to attractive incentives.

Investors flocking to the province often invest in preferential sectors such as industry, ports and logistics, supporting industries, tourism and high-tech agriculture.

To attract more local and foreign investors, province authorities have kept improving the investment climate by adopting policies and solutions to strengthen administration and competitiveness.

The year 2019 is a clear example of these efforts with many resolutions and programmes being put in place.

The province announced an action plan to deploy the Government’s resolution No02/NQ-CP dated January 1 on solutions to improve the investment environment and competitiveness.

An action plan was also announced to deploy the Government’s resolution No139/NQ-CP dated September 11 on cutting enterprises’ expense.

Also in 2019 the province has promulgated a number of regulations to identify investors who want to invest in high-tech and organic agriculture.

A document to guide their selection where land use is involved was also issued.

Besides, Ba Ria-Vung Tau has focused on solutions to improve its position in the provincial competitiveness index.

The People’s Committee has assigned departments to organise programmes to support local companies investing in the province.

The province’s efforts to improve the investment climate has been welcomed by investors.

“Authorities in Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province, such as the Ba Ria-Vung Tau Industrial Zones Authority, and others, are active in attracting foreign capital and offering one-stop services,” Kazama Toshio, deputy general director of the Phu My 3 Industrial Zone, said.

“This has helped speed up the investment licence application and approval process, which is a great back-up for attracting foreign capital.”

In addition to promulgating new regulations and action plans, local authorities also routinely meet with business executives to help solve difficulties faced by their companies while doing business in the province.

Vo Trinh Trieu, director of the provincial Investment, Trade, Tourism Promotion Centre, said: “Recently we have been paying attention to providing information to investors, connecting investors by organising conferences and meeting with investors.”

The province has been stepping up investment promotion activities by strengthening co-operation with international organisations like Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA), Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO), American Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam (AmCham), and European Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam (EuroCham) so that they could apprise investors about key investment projects in Ba Ria-Vung Tau as well as sectors it is focusing on, according to the official.

Thanks to these efforts, the province had a fruitful 2019 in terms of attracting investment.

This year the province has issued investment certificates for 38 new projects and permitted 27 others to increase their investment.

The total investment this year has been worth US$2.35 billion, $500 million in new projects.

The Southern Oil Refinery Complex has increased its capital by $1.4 billion.

Domestic investment was worth VND13.037 trillion ($579 million) in 58 new projects. Eight others increased their capital by VND1.63 trillion ($71.5 million).

Workshop discusses methods to increase rice quality

Vinh Long province in the Mekong Delta region has played host to a scientific workshop as part of a wide range of activities during the fourth Vietnam Rice Festival which is currently underway in the locality.

Curently, the Mekong Delta region is home to a total area of approximately 2 million hectares of paddy and has an annual cultivation area of over 4 million hectares.
Paddy output stands at an estimated 25 million tonnes, of which 50 per cent is put up for exports, in addition to a rice output of roughly 6 million tonnes.

The first nine months of the year saw the Mekong Delta region export over 5 million tonnes of rice, representing an increase of 4 per cent, whilst turnover reached over US$2 billion, a drop of over 10 per cent in export value.

Delegates in attendance at the workshop attributed the simultaneous increase in rice volume and fall in value to the inconsistent quality of domestic rice which leads to hindrances when trying to penetrate the European, American, and Japanese markets.

According to Dr. Nguyen Quoc Toan, Director of the Agricultural Product Processing and Market Development Department under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, contemporary consumers now seek high-quality rice, with things such as organic rice and specialty rice proving to be increasing popular.

Dr. Toan therefore advised domestic firms to strengthen connectivity with farmers as a means of providing rice products suitable for these markets.

Participants also noted that the poor quality of local rice is partially due to the outdated equipment, processing technology, and a lack of linkage between farmers and enterprises.

They underlined the urgent need to overcome obstacles which stand in the way of improving the overall quality of Vietnamese rice in the coming time.

Schneider Electric’s pioneering in energy sustainability pursuit

As the demand for energy-efficient management accelerates in Vietnam, leading electrical multinationals like Schneider Electric are making their mark in the country with an array of solutions to enhance the capabilities of those in need of a digital transformation.

According to Morgan Duarte, director of Schneider Electric IT Vietnam, the country is an attractive and high-potential market for the energy industry thanks to its strong economic growth, dynamic population, favourable government initiatives, and remarkable foreign investment flows.

Additionally, the demand for clean, efficient, and sustainable energy will continuously witness a significant increase in the near future. “Companies in Vietnam are growing fast and every firm has a different need for energy and data centre usage,” said Duarte.

“We have a considerable challenge here, in that the electricity supply cannot keep up with the roaring demand. As coal thermal projects continue to experience difficulties, Vietnam is betting on renewable energy sources such as solar or wind electricity”, Duarte added.

Duarte added that these issues could lead to higher costs for users and increase operating costs for companies. “As a result, there will be a higher demand for efficient energy management, not only for big corporations but also for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs),” he explained.

The energy sector is playing a critical role in the production infrastructure system. In the era of Industry 4.0, the development of energy has been an important driver of the country’s economic growth.

Any nation’s level of development can be assessed through per capita energy consumption index, and in developed countries, energy consumption exceeds half of the total energy produced globally.

Meanwhile, developing countries with a larger area and population size only consume about a third of that. In the near future, this distribution will be restructured due to the economic development of new emerging countries.

Efficient energy management ensures safety, availability, reliability, and connectivity at all times for equipment. It also prevents sudden and unexpected power outage situations, as well as monitors the status of surge protection in order to retain good performance of electronic devices and critical data.

“Thus, energy management is one of the business’ biggest competitive advantages nowadays,” said Duarte. “Companies can reduce operating costs and CO2 emissions, as well as develop their sustainability footprint.”

As the leading brand worldwide for integrated IT infrastructure and software, APC by Schneider Electric has continuously updated and kept up with the latest trends in the energy management sector.

“APC by Schneider Electric focuses on segments that are booming in Vietnam such as the cloud, finance, and manufacturing, along with penetrating potential markets such as healthcare, commercial buildings, and education,” added Duarte. “We want to accompany Vietnamese companies in the journey of reaching untapped markets or satisfy their rising needs of digital transformation.”

Recently, APC by Schneider Electric introduced Connected Smart-UPS to the Vietnamese market – the first cloud-enabled UPS for distributed IT environments. Combined with APC SmartConnect software, the integrated power management solution solves business problems related to resources and device management and monitoring.

Connected Smart-UPS delivers the power reliability, security, and certainty that SMEs need to stay connected to the technology and information that powers their business. APC SmartConnect software helps gather and send data about the health and status of a customer’s UPS devices including battery replacement, warranty renewal, and UPS performance notifications. In addition, it provides a secure, cloud-based web portal where customers can view the status of their UPS, accessible from any internet-connected device, and troubleshooting support through a remote monitoring interface.

As Duarte reaffirmed, “The launch of Connected Smart-UPS is proof of APC by Schneider Electric’s constant innovation efforts as a pioneer in developing sustainable energy in Vietnam.”

Modern manufacturing can be only developed thanks to the energy industry, and while sustainable energy results in significant changes in a number of other industries such as mechanics, manufacturing, and construction, more factors need to come into play for that development to come to fruition.

“The Vietnamese energy industry, especially in sustainable energy, is quite new but is rich with potential,” Duarte said. “It requires more effort from the government, investors, and the business community to ensure a proper and effective development strategy.”

 
 
 
 
 
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