BUSINESS NEWS HEADLINES MARCH 12

VN extends safeguard measure application on imposed fertiliser

BUSINESS NEWS HEADLINES MARCH 12

The Ministry of Industry and Trade has decided to extend the safeguard measure on imported monoammonium phosphate (MAP) and diammonium phosphate (DAP) fertilisers.

The duration for applying this safeguard duty is two years, starting from March 7 this year.

The safeguard duty stands at about 1.05 million VND (46 USD) per tonne in a one-year time starting from March 7, and will drop to 1.03 million from March 7 next year.

It will be 1.01 million VND starting from March 7 to September 6, 2022.

According to the World Trade Organisation, a safeguard measure can be extended up to eight years, subject to a determination by competent national authorities that the measure is needed and that there is evidence the industry is adjusting.

BIDV clears bad debts at VAMC

The Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam (BIDV) has cleared all non-performing loans it had previously sold to the Vietnam Asset Management Company (VAMC), the bank’s Chairman Phan Duc Tu said.

At the BIDV shareholders' meeting last week, Tu announced the bank’s goal of keeping the bad debt ratio at below 1.7 percent this year.

The bank also set a pre-tax profit target of 12.5 trillion VND in 2020, as well as a credit growth target of 9 percent and mobilised capital of 9 percent. Its dividend payment was expected at 7 percent.

However, the plans were the most positive scenario without considering the impacts of the COVID-19 epidemic, Tu noted, adding the bank would try its best to complete the plans assigned by BIDV’s general meeting of shareholders, but adjustments could be made in case of necessity and would be reported to shareholders.

He explained in 2020, Vietnam's economy in general and the banking industry, including BIDV, in particular, were forecast to face many difficulties and challenges, especially the severe impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak.

According to the VAMC, 12 banks have so far cleared all their bad debts kept at the VAMC. They include Vietcombank, Techcombank, MB, VIB, OCB, Nam A Bank, TPBank Agribank, VPBank, SeABank, Kien Long Bank and BIDV./.

Master plan on sustainable development of sea-based economy

The Government has issued a resolution promulgating a master plan and a five-year plan on the implementation of the Party Central Committee’s resolution on the sustainable development of the Vietnamese sea-based economy until 2030 with a vision to 2045.

The master plan puts forward six main solutions on ocean governance and coastal management; developing the marine and coastal economy; improving people's lives and developing sea-based culture; science, technology and development of marine human resources; the environment and response to natural disasters, climate change and rising sea levels; and ensuring national defence and security, foreign affairs and international cooperation.

Specifically, on developing the marine and coastal economy, the resolution highlights the importance of developing infrastructure for the tourism industry in key areas and islands, encouraging economic sectors to participate in forming tourism service complexes, large-scale service projects and shopping centres, and developing ecotourism and community-based tourism.

It is necessary to pilot the development of tours to islands, intensify tourism promotion and diversify tourism products, and improve the seaport system at a national scale to meet industrialisation and modernisation requirements.

The resolution also stresses the need to maintain the exploration of minerals, oil and gas, and non-traditional forms of hydrocarbons in deep-water sedimentary basins to increase mineral reserves.

Attention should be paid to developing marine and coastal aquaculture and off-shore fishing, improving fishermen’s living conditions by providing sufficient socio-economic infrastructure such as electricity, clean water, health and education, and completing cultural institutions for coastal and island communities, as well as maintaining and developing historical and cultural relic sites and festivals, according to the resolution.

It also emphasises the need to educate students at all levels on the seas and oceans, and how to adapt to climate change and rising sea levels to protect natural resources.

Regarding science, technology and the development of marine human resources, the Government urged innovation and application of advanced scientific and technological achievements and promoting marine scientific and technological research associated with basic marine surveys.

The Government asked for increased training of high-quality human resources as well as mechanisms to attract both domestic and foreign experts, scientists and high-quality personnel in this field.

The resolution stresses the importance of cooperating with regional and international organisations and partners in developing human resources and infrastructure, and in scientific research and the application of modern technology for environmental protection, disaster prevention and climate change mitigation.

It also urged the planning of coastal urban areas and economic and industrial zones and clusters, as well as increased investment in waste and wastewater treatment systems and marine animal rescue centres in protected areas.

The Government requested the national steering committee for the implementation of the strategy on the sustainable development of the Vietnamese sea-based economy until 2030 with a vision to 2045 to comprehensively direct the implementation of this resolution./.

Duck farmers urged to meet biosafety standards

Authorities in the Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta have encouraged farmers to breed ducks under biosafety standards and develop guaranteed outlets to ensure stable incomes.

The delta, which has the largest number of ducks in the country, has about 25 million ducks, accounting for 37 per cent of total ducks.

Duck breeding is the main source of income of 240,000 households in the delta, according to the National Agriculture Extension Centre.

However, duck farmers in the delta are facing several challenges like bird flu, unstable outlets and high prices of duck food.

In duck raising, delta farmers use mostly free-range duck breeding methods in which ducks are fed on rice fields since the method reduces food costs but has many risks like disease outbreaks.

In Cần Thơ City, for instance, free-range ducks account for 90 per cent of its 1.9 million fowl.

Đồng Tháp Province, the delta’s largest duck producer, bred 6.8 million ducks last year and a vast majority of them were free-range ducks.

Huỳnh Tấn Đạt, deputy director of the Đồng Tháp Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said free-range duck breeding methods were no longer suitable because of the risks.

Therefore, the province has encouraged the breeding of ducks on a concentrated large scale under biosafety standards with brand names.

The province will also continue providing duck breeding techniques, and inspect duck food quality and diseases.

Nguyễn Văn Bắc of the National Agriculture Extension Centre said to ensure biosafety standards in breeding free-range ducks, free-range duck herds should be inspected closely to avoid disease and harm from pesticides or other toxic substances which can affect the quality of eggs and meat.

Farmers should also provide sufficient vaccination for ducks and use bio-products to treat duck waste.

The delta authorities have encouraged duck farmers to establish co-operative groups and co-operatives to breed ducks in a concentrated industrial scale and co-operate with companies to guarantee outlets.

Đồng Tháp has established five co-operative groups to breed ducks in co-ops on a concentrated large scale. The groups have 26 members who raise a total of 154,000 ducks with an output of 128,000 eggs a day.

Many duck farmers in the province have linkages with companies that supply input materials and later buy their duck products.

Đồng Tháp is calling on investors to pour money into a poultry breeding centre to supply duck breeder parents that meet quality standards and safety.

It is also supporting farmers to establish duck raising models that meet quality standards and increase the competitiveness of their duck products.

Đồng Tháp plans to develop its ducks from 6.8 million last year to 7.5 million this year, according to its Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Viet Nam a world leader in having women in top corporate positions

Viet Nam has a greater percentage of women in senior leadership positions than the global average, according to Grant Thornton’s International Business Report.

In Viet Nam’s mid-market companies, women hold 33 per cent of senior leadership positions with the most common being human resource director (36 per cent) and chief financial officer (32 per cent).

Globally the rate is 29 per cent.

Ninety five per cent of businesses in Viet Nam have at least one woman in senior management, again above the global rate of 87 per cent.

Francesca Lagerberg, global leader, Grant Thornton International Ltd, said: “It is extremely encouraging to see deliberate action taking place as mid-market businesses ramp up activities that encourage progress and accessibility to leadership positions for women.

“2018 saw a sharp rise in the representation of women at a senior level after significant changes in the social climate of the western world, but this year’s numbers have levelled off once again highlighting that change at the top is glacial.”

Valerie Teo, tax partner, Grant Thornton Vietnam, said: “If we want to continue to see more women in senior positions, businesses need to be intentional. Policies that ensure diversity of thought at the decision-making table, address equal opportunity in career development and bias in recruitment and develop inclusive cultures cannot just be nice to have – they are a must.

“Once implemented, these policies must be enforced and regularly reassessed to judge their effectiveness. Only when that is combined with real commitment from senior leadership, will real transformational change take place.”

Grant Thornton is one of the world’s leading independent assurance, tax and advisory firms.

The International Business Report is a study of both listed and privately held businesses.

Launched in 1992, it now provides insight into the views and expectations of around 10,000 businesses across 32 economies.

HCM City records $480m of FDI in first two months

More than US$480 million worth of foreign direct investment (FDI) was poured into HCM City during the first two months of the year, which was equal to 47 per cent of FDI in the same period last year.

Of the figure, $83.3 million was in new projects and $60.7 million in existing projects, while $336.5 million was used to buy shares and contribute capital.

Around two-thirds of the capital invested in new projects during this time period were in commerce projects. The rest were in fields such as technology and science; construction; information and media; and health.

Thirty-two countries and territories, including Singapore, Japan, Korea and China, invested in the city during the period.

Russia to import Viet Nam’s processed chicken

The Russian Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance (VPSS) has allowed the import of Viet Nam’s processed chicken into Russia, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s Department of Animal Health on Sunday.

In a letter sent to the Department of Animal Health, VPSS said that CP Viet Nam Corporation was the first company in Viet Nam which got a VPSS licence for exporting processed chicken products to the Russian market.

This means that Viet Nam’s processed chicken product could also penetrate other markets in the Eurasian Economic Union, which included Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan.

The licence was granted to CP Viet Nam’s chicken processing plant in Chuong My District, Ha Noi.

The department said that expanding export markets for Vietnamese chicken would help increase the added value of Viet Nam’s poultry farming and promoting the development of a more modern industry to meet strict food safety and hygiene standards of import markets.

In 2017, Japan allowed the import of processed chicken from Viet Nam.

Viet Nam’s export of processed chicken into Japan saw increases during the past three years and reached US$11 million in 2019. The export value to Japan was expected to increase significantly this year as Kyou & Unitek Company Limited also planned to export more than 3,600 tonnes of chicken worth $20 million to Japan.

The department previously said that it was working with the Japanese side on the licences for other companies. A delegate from Japan was expected to visit and check two chicken processing plants of CP Viet Nam in HCM City and Binh Phuoc in June.

The department was also working to open the export of chicken to Hong Kong this year.

State treasury earns $216.6m from bond sales

The State Treasury of Viet Nam last week raised VND5 trillion (US$216.6 million) through bond sales with interest rates losing 11-37 basis points per annum over four terms.

The treasury offered VND500 billion worth of seven-year bonds and VND1.5 trillion for 15-year, 20-year and 30-year bonds.

All bonds were successfully offloaded. The auction took place at the Ha Noi Stock Exchange.

The successfully-bid interest rate for seven-year bonds was 2 per cent per annum, down 0.24 basis points from the previous auction on February 19.

The rates for 15-year, 20-year and 30-year bonds were 2.51 per cent, 2.98 per cent and 3.25 per cent per annum.

The three rates were down between 0.11 basis points and 0.37 basis points.

Since the beginning of 2020, the State Treasury has raised a total of VND28.26 trillion from selling Government bonds at the Ha Noi Stock Exchange.

In the first three months of the year, the treasury plans to raise VND50-60 trillion from Government bonds.

PV Gas South to buy out joint-venture

PetroVietnam Gas South JSC (PGS) has decided to buy out Vietnam LPG Co Ltd (VT-Gas) for a mere VND1,000 (US$0.043).

VT-Gas was founded on February 6, 2016 as a joint-venture between PGS and the Thai oil and gas business PTT Public Co Ltd.

VT-Gas has charter capital of VND100 billion and PGS will increase its capital by VND60 billion by providing cash and/or assets from its eastern branch.

PGS will add a real estate division to VT-Gas’ business portfolio and appoint its deputy director as the latter’s new chairman.

The southern gas company will hold its annual shareholders’ meeting on April 16 to discuss business activities and targets for 2020.

The company in 2019 earned VND6.38 trillion in revenue, accomplishing 97 per cent of its target.

Its pre-tax profit was VND93.1 billion, equal to 90 per cent of the plan.

The company said the performance was lower than expected because crude had traded below the expected levels in 2019.

PGS said it would cut total revenue and pre-tax profit targets in 2020 to VND6.18 trillion and VND65.36 billion.

Brent crude and the US benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) plunged about 20 per cent to trade at $32.6-36.2 a barrel, losing about 50 per cent in two months to hit two-year lows.

PGS expects crude will finish 2020 at $60 a barrel.

PetroVietnam Gas South JSC in late 2019 held an extraordinary shareholders’ meeting, in which shareholders rejected a proposal to allow PetroVietnam Gas to increase its stake in the firm to more than 51 per cent from 35.2 per cent.

PGS had earlier planned to sell 16.1 million shares to PetroVietnam Gas for nearly VND377 billion to increase its working capital.

PGS shares (HNX: PGS) slumped 4.5 per cent to end Monday at VND22,000.

Property firm projects revenue to jump 3.5 times in 2020

Property developer LDG Investment JSC hopes its total revenue in 2020 will jump 3.5 times from 2019's figure to VND2.75 trillion (US$119.3 million).

Post-tax profit is forecast to rise by 16 per cent year-on-year to VND700 billion.

The company in 2019 earned VND785 billion in total revenue, down more than 50 per cent year-on-year.

The figure was equal to 24 per cent of the full-year plan.

The company managed to accomplish the profit target of VND603 billion set for 2019 and recorded a lot of income from selling financial assets, worth VND502 billion.

The figure soared from 2018's figure of VND60 billion.

LDG Investment plans to pay a cash dividend at the rate of 7 per cent, meaning every shareholder will receive VND700 apiece.

The company will hold its annual shareholders’ meeting on March 19. The list of participants will be finalised on March 14.

LDG Investment shares (HoSE: LDG) tumbled 7.0 per cent to end Monday at VND6,900 per share.

An Phat Holdings sets sights on North America

By entering into co-operation with US partners Ford Motors, US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), and The Asia Group, An Phat Holdings expects to accelerate its expansion to the North America market.

On March 3, An Phat Holdings held a working session with Ford Motors, Samsung, DFC, and The Asia Group to discuss co-operation strategies. Especially, it discussed with The Asia Group about developing biodegradable products in the North America market.

The US is considered one of the key markets of the group, which accounts for 10 per cent of the revenue of its packaging segment. In early 2019, An Phat Bioplastics, a member company of An Phat Holdings, announced plans to invest in the construction of an environmentally friendly bag manufacturing factory in the United States in order to meet the increasing demand for this kind of product in the next five years.

At present, the group is one of the few manufacturers who hold technologies and copyrights in this segment. Furthermore, the US government's incentives for environmentally friendly products are head and shoulders above other countries, which will set the group up for success in the North America market, especially the US.

Pham Anh Duong, chairman of An Phat Holdings, said, “The group established a co-operative relationship with Samsung and has the same manufacturing area as Ford (the manufacturing facilities of both groups are located in Hai Duong province). We expect that the co-operation will continue outside Vietnam.”

In recent years, the group has increased investment in the supporting industry, high-tech sectors, while simultaneously increasing the localisation ratio of its products. It is currently a vendor of Samsung and provides components for automobiles and motorcycles.

In Hai Duong, An Phat Holdings is a leader in the project to develop local supporting industries implemented by the Ministry of Industry and Trade, Hai Duong People’s Committee, and Samsung Vietnam.

In addition, the group is a leading industrial real estate developer in Hai Duong. Accordingly, An Phat Complex is not only a production base but also a manufacturing facility for large foreign groups. After two years in operation, the occupancy rate reached 65 per cent and is expected to reach 100 per cent by the end of this year.

Furthermore, the group plans to invest in another industrial zone in Hai Duong named An Binh-Quoc Tuan. The construction of the first phase will be implemented on an area of 180 hectares and is expected to finish by the end of the year.

The group develops green, high-tech industrial parks that offer full utilities to lure in foreign investors, including the wave of US investors relocating to Hai Duong.

Vietnam offering thriving prospects for UK groups

 

With the United Kingdom pulling out of the EU and the ratification of the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement, it is now looking to countries like Vietnam to negotiate new deals with, in order to further bilateral trade and investment ties.

British Ambassador to the ASEAN Jon Lambe told VIR that with the UK having left the EU to enter a transition period just days before the EVFTA was ratified by the bloc, it is now free and flexible to negotiate its own FTAs with any partners around the world.

“The UK is beefing up its bilateral co-operation with Vietnam. We are negotiating a bilateral FTA with our friends here, and things are going very well,” Lambe said. “We look forward to and hope for negotiations to be concluded sometime this year. The agreement is important for both the UK and Vietnam as it will foster trade and investment relationship between both sides.”

According to Baker McKenzie Vietnam, the UK and Vietnam may negotiate their own FTA, entering into force any time after the UK has fully exited from the EU.

“Whether Vietnam may offer the same terms of trade to the UK alone as it offered to the entire EU market remains to be seen,” said the firm’s report on the EVFTA and Brexit, involving the future of trade between the UK and Vietnam.

According to the UK’s Department for International Trade, Vietnam is an exciting place to do business. It cites a large, young population and a growing middle class, with a fast-growing economy and government reforms that can open up markets for British companies.

There are opportunities for such companies across a broad range of industries. The department’s trade advisers in Vietnam have identified particular opportunities for UK businesses in sectors such as energy, infrastructure, healthcare, and education.

For example, the department said Vietnam is moving away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy, currently dominated by hydroelectricity. This is creating excellent opportunities for UK groups specialising in the sustainable energy field.

In the infrastructure sector, Vietnam has excellent openings for British companies to get involved in its ambitious programme of infrastructure development, which includes new urban railways and an international airport. According to the Asian Development Bank, Vietnam spent 5.7 per cent of its GDP on infrastructure development in 2017, the highest figure in Southeast Asia.

The department is also seeing Vietnam’s expanding public transport network as an opportunity for UK investors.

“Vietnam’s plans to build eight metro lines in Hanoi and another eight in Ho Chi Minh City are in the early stages. A planned project to build a high-speed North-South railway is also expected to start in 2020. This is creating opportunities for UK businesses that have products and services in the railway supply chain,” said the department on its website.

Recently, at the 11th meeting of the UK-Vietnam Joint Economic and Trade Commission (JETCO) in the north-eastern province of Quang Ninh, the UK and Vietnam committed to further strengthen partnerships, with discussions focused on a range of issues including bilateral trade and investment ties, as well as co-operation in education, healthcare, energy, agriculture, and financial services.

“Vietnam is one of the most dynamic markets and a key trading partner for the UK going forward, with UK exports to the nation worth over £800 million (over $1 billion) in 2018,” said the UK’s Minister of Trade Policy Conor Burns.

The first official UK-Vietnam JETCO took place in 2007. To date, it has given UK pharmaceutical companies the ability to export vaccines to Vietnam that have been in the UK market for over five years without the need for local clinical trials, allowing life-saving drugs to enter the market.

Currently the UK’s total registered investment capital in Vietnam is $3.7 billion, according to Vietnam’s Ministry of Planning and Investment, although registered capital of the UK overseas territory of the British Virgin Islands and territories collectively known as the British West Indies sits at $21.72 billion and $947.5 billion, respectively.

A catalyst to push up Dong Nai real estate market

Continual updates on the progress of space clearance, compensation, and resettlement serving the construction of Long Thanh International Airport have turned the real estate market of Dong Nai into a true investment hotbed.

On February 24, at a meeting between Dong Nai and Bien Hoa city authorities as well as relevant state management agencies, Cao Tien Dung, Chairman of Dong Nai People’s Committee, requested Long Thanh district to scale up efforts to hand over cleared space for the first phase of Long Thanh International Airport in October. For the remaining area, efforts must be taken to ensure the continuity of site clearance.

Aside from site clearance, compensation has been sped up and other important preparations such as building resettlement areas are being carried out at an accelerated pace to ensure that construction can commence in this April.

Preparing capital sources to implement the project’s first phase has also been a priority. The government has allocated capital to Dong Nai province twice to spend on site clearance and built two resettlement areas for the project.

The first instalment was sent in late 2018 and the second in early 2019, with the total VND15 trillion ($652.2 million), accounting for nearly two-thirds of the total capital value.

Earlier, a raft of infrastructure projects serving the airport have been scheduled for deployment by the government and the Ministry of Transport. The most significant are two arterial roads linking to the airport, including Route No.1 connecting National Highway No.51 to the airport, and Route No.2 starting from the Ho Chi Minh City-Long Thanh-Dau Giay Expressway to connect directly to Route No.1 (going parallel to National Highway No.51).

Well-rounded preparations are underway to ensure that the airport project can be kick-started in 2021.

In addition, to serve this pivotal airport project, during 2018-2020 Dong Nai has injected more than VND33.3 trillion ($1.45 billion) into improving transport infrastructure. Since September 2019, Dong Nai reported good news in quick succession as the provincial authorities and the government have approved the deployment of many important infrastructure projects, such as the construction of Cat Lai Port to replace a ferry landing and Huong Lo No.2 road connecting to Long Thanh-Dau Giay Highway and Vam Cai Sut Bridge.

Well-rounded preparations are underway to ensure that the airport project can be kick-started in 2021.

A major transport project with good connectivity and sizeable scale, Long Thanh International Airport is anticipated to become a key transit hub for the southern economic zone and the whole region.

Therefore, once the construction of Long Thanh Airport and associated major transport works are completed, the whole southern key economic zone and Dong Nai province would become big beneficiaries. Not only does convenient transport help push up trade, but the local real estate market is also expected to bloom with a strong pickup in demand.

According to Trang Bui, head of Markets at leading real estate consultancy firm JLL Vietnam, the emergence of Long Thanh Airport will entail remarkable development across the board for the local real estate market, particularly in the housing segment in locations surrounding the airport.

In fact, a raft of sizeable, well-invested projects by prestigious developers are being rolled out in these areas. One of them is Aqua City smart eco-resort by developer Novaland.

The project lies to the south of Bien Hoa city, along Huong Lo No.2 route and is contiguous to National Highway No.51 and Ho Chi Minh City-Long Thanh-Dau Giay Expressway. Besides its proximity to Long Thanh Airport, it takes only 15 minutes to reach Ho Chi Minh City centre and a 10-minute drive to Bien Hoa city centre from Aqua City.

Covering nearly 1,000 square metres of space, eco-smart city Aqua City has a perfect planning with complimentary modern utility system fitting the most demanding green living standards of wealthy residents.

Aqua City dedicates over 70 per cent of the space to greenery and modern utilities such as a shopping mall, indoor and outdoor sports complex, 5-star marina, and kayak port, among others.

As proposed, Long Thanh Airport would have enormous impacts on local and national economic development, which explains why the Dong Nai real estate market has turned into an investment hotbed. It comes as no surprise that well-planned projects with easy connection to the airport are always eagerly hunted for by investors.

$5.5 million mega eco-urban area in Bac Ninh submitted to the PM

The mega eco-urban area is located in Tien Du district and Tu Son town, Bac Ninh province with a total area of ​​nearly 1,700 hectares with seven phases.

The Bac Ninh People's Committee has approved the project's 1/2000 zoning plan. With the total area of nearly 1,700ha, the project will be able to accommodate a population of about 80,000 people. The project will function as an eco-tourism urban area.

On March 3, Bac Ninh People's Committee submitted a report for the prime minister to approve the development of this eco-urban area. Accordingly, the land area set aside for developing new eco-urban areas is 1,477.28ha.

The total investment of the project is about VND126 trillion ($5.48 billion), VND122 trillion ($5.3 million) of which will be used to develop new urban areas, while the remaining VND3.8 trillion ($165.22 million) will go to renovate and embellish old villages and increasing the local population.

The whole area is planned to consist of seven divisions, of which the planned urban area is about 1,477.28ha.

Division A will have an area of ​​over 336ha with entertainment and recreation functions including theme parks, conference centres, sports centres, hotels, and houses.

Division B will cover an area of ​​272ha. It will stretch along Ngu Huyen Khe canal, which is an ecological resort villa area, with a low construction density, serving tourism needs.

Division C will cover an area of ​​more than 108ha. This will be the administrative and commercial centre of ​​the entire eco-urban area, including a central square, commercial and administrative areas, low-rise and high-rise building, schools, and commercial centres.

Divisions D and F will have a total area of ​​over 502ha. This is the largest complex area with the function of low-rise ecological housing projects, villas, adjacent houses, trees, parks, water surface, and high-rise housing area arranged along route DT295C.

Division E will have a total area of ​​more than 218ha with ​​a high-density urban area along route DT295C.

According to Bac Ninh People's Committee, after being appraised and submitted to the Prime Minister for approval, the province will complete the procedures, organise bidding to select investors, and implement the project.

Policy credit: The fulcrum to enhance Vietnamese women’s position

Achievements in realising the Vietnam Bank for Social Policies’s (VBSP) policy credit programmes have made significant contributions to poverty alleviation through improving gender equality in Vietnam.

This was attested by the World Bank’s recent assessment, which lauded the country by stating: “Vietnam has posted the speediest change in removing the gap in gender equality in the past 20 years in the East Asia.”

According to Lai Van Be Chin, director of VBSP’s Dong Thap branch, aside from stepping up disbursement to bring policy credit to more women beneficiaries, the bank has prioritised using this sort of capital to establish diverse and innovative production models having high spillover effects on women labourers. These models involve co-operative groups and craft villages to name but a few. Particularly, Co-operative 20-10, which has come into operation 10 years ago now, was founded by the district-level Women’s Union to create jobs for women in need.

Nguyen Cong Nghiep, deputy head of the co-operative, said that they now own eight looms, all bought from the loan package earmarked for lending to needy households the co-operative members have taken up. The co-operative has provided jobs to 27 members, helping them make an extra income to escape poverty and augment the household economy.

Besides weaving mats, Co-operative 20-10 houses four teams whose members are women from needy households in the local commune. These people and their family members have engaged in making bamboo items in their leisure time with an average income of about VND3.5 million ($150) per month.

“Our co-operative gives members jobs with a stable income. Otherwise, they would have to work as hired labourers somewhere, earning far less. This helps set their mind at ease,” Nghiep said.

Regarding needy women in An Hai commune, Binh Phuoc district in the southern province of Ninh Thuan, policy credit helps turn them into the breadwinners of their families, helping them escape poverty. The case of Chau Thi An is a stellar example. In almost nine years (2008-2016) through using VBSP’s loans released for needy households, her family managed to escape poverty by diligently raising cattle.

In 2016, An continued borrowing from VBSP to enter Tuan Tu Co-operative, which engages in growing asparagus. The family fields growing asparagus allow the family to catch harvest eight months in a year with average income of VND1.5 million ($65) per day, meaning an average VND1 million ($44) net income per day after deducting investment expenses.

Policy credit helps the women gradually improve their livelihoods to escape poverty in a sustainable manner, from there enhancing their role in their families and the society. This allows women not only to effectively take care of their families and children, but to work together with their husbands to consolidate their family finances.

Through the credit activities of VBSP, women have received ever-increasing credit support in both quantity and quality. VBSP’s recent report on its operation results by the end of January 2020 shows that more than 2.5 million members of the Vietnam Women’s Union took up loans VBSP has released to the Union to lend to its members, with over VND80.435 trillion ($3.5 billion) in total outstanding loans.

This took the lead in both the number of borrowers and balance among four socio-political organisations receiving authorised capital volumes from the VBSP to lend to their members. Notably, the loan balance reached VND1.56 trillion ($67.83 million) this January alone.

Overdue debt is often kept at a low level, merely 0.22 per cent of the total balance, showcasing highly efficient loan usage as well as women’s drive to overcome adversity. The deposit surplus came to VND4.636 trillion ($201.57 million), the highest level among the four socio-political organisations receiving authorised capital from VBSP. This indicates that the relevant women have been posting more stable life with savings to feed their families’ financial demands as well as investment needs.

These figures, however, do not fully reflect the credit activities of VBSP as part of women beneficiaries have been borrowing through lending groups under the Vietnam Peasants’ Association, the War Veteran Association, the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union, or directly from VBSP’s member units. Women borrowers reportedly account for about half of the 6.5 million households accessing loans from VBSP.

According to VBSP executives, this year and in the forthcoming years, the bank will continue effectively handling the tasks assigned by the government to lend to needy households and other policy beneficiaries, with priority granted to women. VBSP will scale up efforts to mobilise diverse capital sources to ensure the effective implementation of policy credit programmes, helping more and more people escape poverty and improve living standards sustainably.

Vietnam’s well-timed measures to bolster coronavirus-hit businesses

A string of measures aimed at supporting enterprises seriously affected by the coronavirus outbreak are expected to be introduced in March, including a credit package of VND250 trillion (US$10.8 billion) and a fiscal package of VND30 trillion (US$1.3 billion).

Such measures come at just the right time as Vietnam saw 16,200 enterprises temporarily suspending their business in the first two months of 2020, up 19.5% from a year earlier. With those filing for bankruptcy and having completed bankruptcy procedures included, the number of enterprises that went out of business totalled 28,400, close to the 29,400 enterprises that were newly established or returning to business in the same period.

From the development viewpoint, the bankruptcy of many enterprises reflects the natural transition and dynamism of Vietnamese businesses. Since 90% of Vietnamese businesses are small and ultra-small enterprises, investors will file for bankruptcy, establish new enterprises or temporarily close their business as soon as business performance fails to meet expectations.

In a market economy, it is natural to see a ratio of new and bankrupt enterprises. Among bankrupt enterprises, there is a certain portion of enterprises which have been dormant for a long time but recently had their business licenses revoked under the data standardisation programme.

It is notable that the magnitude of the coronavirus outbreak’s impacts has not been fully reflected in the figures for the first two months due to the lag in the statistic work.

More shocking figures could come in next month when the hardest hit enterprises can no longer sustain their business. Retail and consumer service revenues in the first two months grew at the slowest pace in seven months while international arrivals to Vietnam recorded the steepest fall in four years, sending enterprises in commerce and services scrambling to remain in business.

Manufacturing firms are also struggling as their input materials are expected to run dry in the next two months while their outputs are also facing difficulties as export market close following the break-up of the global supply chain. The Ministry of Planning and Investment forecasts that the number of newly established enterprises will drop in almost all sectors, leading to a sharp fall in employment, especially in entertainment, accommodation, tourism and food services. Small and medium-enterprises and cooperatives will be the hardest hit businesses by the coronavirus outbreak.

The government’s quick response is considered a stimulant to help enterprises enhance their resilience and complete their production and business targets for 2020. In addition to stimulus packages, the Prime Minister also requested a speed-up in the improvement of the business climate. Experts say streamlining administrative procedures and improving the business environment must also be implemented with boldness like fighting the coronavirus outbreak so as to reduce costs for businesses, thus helping them to overcome this difficult period.

Furthermore, accelerating the task of improving the business climate will also bolster the start-up wave such that the Vietnamese business community will become larger and have better quality, a prerequisite for Vietnam to achieving greater economic growth.

Yarn giant Texhong to invest US$500 million in Vietnam

Strong support from the government to enterprises, as well as Vietnam’s effective anti-virus measures have been key factor for Texhong to expand investments in the country.

Hong Kong-listed Texhong Textile Group, a globally dominant yarn producer, plans to invest an addition of US$500 million in Vietnam in 2020, according to Texhong Vietnam’s CEO Tao Hui.

Strong support from the prime minister, ministries and provinces/cities to enterprises, as well as effective anti-virus measures in the country have been key factors for Texhong to expand investments in Vietnam, said Tao Hui in a meeting with Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc on March 6.

Tao Hui said Texhong’s plants in Vietnam, which currently employs nearly 20,000 locals, have resumed normal operation, reaching 97 – 98% of production capacity, adding the company is determined to accompany the government in realizing the dual target of preventing the epidemic and boosting economic growth set by PM Phuc.

Tao Hui requested the government and Quang Ninh province to speed up clearance process for goods transportation and allowing Texhong’s experts and staffs to enter Vietnam.

The company is committed to strictly following regulations of the local authority regarding Covid-19 prevention, Tao Hui stressed.

At the meeting, Phuc said Texhong is an example of Chinese companies doing business in Vietnam, contributing significantly to Vietnam – China comprehensive partnership.

Texhong has been a major supplier of yarn for Vietnam’s textile industry, accounting for 43% of total input materials.

Phuc added Vietnam has been in control of the epidemic and remains firm on materializing the dual target.

On this occasion, Phuc sent greetings to workers at over 2,800 Chinese projects in Vietnam and expressed hope they would have similar success to Texhong.

Hanoi to speed up key transport projects this year

Relevant departments and localities must guide investors on the implementation of Vinh Tuy bridge project in accordance with regulations.

The Hanoi People's Committee has requested departments, districts and relevant units to accelerate procedures for implementing a number of key transport projects to reduce traffic congestions and contribute to promoting the capital’s socio-economic development, Hanoimoi reported.

Accordingly, for the second phase of the Vinh Tuy bridge project, the municipal People's Committee has requested the Department of Planning and Investment to report on the preparation progress to soon kick start the project.

The Hanoi Transport Construction Project Management Board, which is the investor, needs to urgently complete a feasibility study, send it to the Department of Transport for appraisal and submit to the municipal People's Committee for approval in the second quarter of 2020.

For the project of Phap Van - Cau Gie which connects Ring Road 3, the Department of Planning and Investment needs to report to the Hanoi People's Committee to review the budget allocation plan.

The Hanoi Transport Construction Project Management Board has cooperated with the People's Committees of Hoang Mai and Thanh Tri districts to immediately carry out land clearance for the project.

The construction of Me So bridge which connects Phap Van - Cau Gie highway with Hanoi – Hai Phong highway would also be accelerated to divert a number of vehicles away from Hanoi’s downtown and reduce traffic congestion.

In order to accelerate the project, the Hanoi People's Committee has requested the Department of Planning and Architecture to advise and select the architectural design plan for the bridge.

The Department of Planning and Investment is asked to guide investors to complete the pre-feasibility study report and submit it for approval in the second quarter of 2020.

Hanoi develops prestigious shops and eateries for tourists

The Hanoi Department of Tourism instructed tourism businesses as well as shopping and culinary facilities to improve product quality and services.

Hanoi is developing a standardized shopping and dining network for tourists to improve the competitiveness of the tourism industry, Vietnam News Agency reported, citing the municipal Department of Tourism.

Currently, Hanoi’s 23 businesses are operating in catering, 30 others in shopping and services and six in entertainment and sports which meet the city's standards to welcome tourists.

The quality, prices, goods, hygiene, food safety, environmental sanitation of these businesses are closely monitored. They are granted signboards of standard by the Hanoi Department of Tourism, and are introduced to travel agents and tour operators. Their products and services are promoted on the Hanoi tourism’s website, leaflets, brochures, photo books.

Besides, they receive support to participate in events and programs held domestically and internationally. All these businesses together have created a network of shops to give tourists, especially international tourists, complete shopping and entertaining enjoyment in Hanoi.

For instances, Doji Jewelry Joint Stock Company, Vincom Center, Tan My Design, Lanhuong Fashion, Van Phuc Silk Development Joint Stock Company, OZ Silk Shop (Minh Phuc Fashion Company) are becoming famous tourist destinations in Hanoi city.

Some culinary facilities that meet tourism standards have improved in terms of professionalism and quality and received good feedback from travelers such as Quan Ngon system, Coco A Restaurant, the restaurant system of Vincom Shopping Centers, among others.

In 2020, many major events will take place in Hanoi. Therefore, the Hanoi Department of Tourism has instructed tourism businesses, shopping and culinary facilities to improve product quality and services.

Besides, the department continues to develop a network of shopping and dining facilities that meet the standards to contribute to building a beautiful image for the capital city as well as diversifying the city's tourism products.

PetroVietnam exceeds two-month exploitation target

The Vietnam Oil and Gas Group (PetroVietnam) has reported that its exploitation in the first two months of 2020 exceeded the set plan by 11.5 percent.

Apart from the exploitation activity, the firm’s operations in other production fields also surpassed the plan.

PetroVietnam’s electricity production in the reviewed period was estimated to reach 3.23 billion kWh, 13.8 percent higher than the set plan. Meanwhile, its nitrogen and petroleum production was estimated at 304,800 tonnes and 2.41 million tonnes, up 10.4 percent and 9.3 percent against the targets, respectively.

Thanks to output higher than expected, the State-run firm’s total revenue hit 116 trillion VND (over 5 billion USD), exceeding the target by 5.1 percent. The group contributed an estimated 14.3 trillion VND to the State budget.

According to General Director Le Manh Hung, the group’s production and business in the last two months also faced many difficulties due to the impact caused by the COVID-19 on the global and national economy.

The supply of oil and gas service of the group's subsidiaries in the international market has also met difficulties because of the epidemic.

From early February, PetroVietnam directed its member units to do well the market forecast and build special response scenarios in production, business, inventory and transport.

With timely solutions, the group and its subsidiaries have maintained stable and safe production and business.

In the coming time, it will focus on reducing production cost, optimising resources in accordance with market fluctuations, towards completing the annual and periodic plans, Hung said.

PetroVietnam’s member units will continue to work closely to maximise resources of the group such as materials and human resources.

It will also accelerate the implementation of investment projects, seek investment opportunities for chains of linked projects, expand markets, take advantage of opportunities from free trade agreements, and promote exports to reduce inventories.

 
 

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