BUSINESS NEWS HEADLINES MARCH 16

Vietnam seeks sustainable development for mulberry silk industry

Vietnam’s mulberry silk industry has faced challenges on its path toward sustainable development, according to a recent national conference on silkworm breeding held in Da Lat City.

Although Vietnam ranks 5th in the world in terms of silk productivity, following China, India, Uzbekistan, and Thailand, it has to import thousands of tonnes of silk from China and Brazil. 90% of bivoltine silkworm breeds are imported from China.

According to Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Phung Duc Tien, Vietnam has problems in state management, international cooperation, chain connectivity, processing technologies, and phytosanitary.

"Vietnam’s law and national strategy on animal husbandry attach great importance to developing silkworm. The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development will devise a comprehensive program on developing the mulberry silk industry in both short and long term. We’ll focus on scientific and technological solutions to create the desired silkworm breeds, just like we did with species of mulberry tree before," said Mr. Tien.

Petrolimex postpones annual shareholders’ meeting

The Vietnam National Petroleum Group (Petrolimex) has decided to postpone its annual shareholders’ meeting 2020 scheduled for April 28, amid the complicated developments of the acute respiratory disease caused by SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19).

Accordingly, the meeting will be held before June 30.

In case the State Securities Commission issues guidelines on the organisation of teleconferences, Petrolimex will follow its instructions.

The meeting is due to adopt the 2018-2019 business result, orientations to production and trade and profit sharing plan for 2019, amendments and supplements to some of its internal regulations.

Nestle Vietnam to switch to paper straws

Nestle Milo will put into use over 16 million paper straws this year, contributing to a reduction of 6.7 tonnes of plastic wastes, said head of the Nestlé Vietnam’s Dairy Business Ali Abbas.

The switch to paper straws demonstrates Nestlé Milo’s commitment to supporting Vietnam in achieving its green goals for the future, including a 75 percent reduction of plastic wastes in beaches and oceans by 2030.

It is also in line with Nestlé’s own global commitments to reduce its own plastic use, aiming to make 100 percent of its packaging recyclable and reusable by 2025.

Fruit, vegetable export targets unlikely to be achieved in 2020

BUSINESS NEWS HEADLINES MARCH 16

Fruit and vegetable exports are unlikely to hit the target of 4-5 billion USD set for this year, according to the Vietnam Fruit and Vegetables Association.

Dang Phuc Nguyen, the association’s general secretary, said exports were worth 513 million USD in the first two months of this year, a year-on-year decline of 11.9 percent.

Total export value for the full year is expected to be just over 3 billion USD, down from 3.74 billion USD in 2019, he said.

“Fruit and vegetable exports have faced difficulties this year due to the COVID-19 epidemic. Exports to China, the biggest buyer, might decrease significantly from last year,” he said.

He added that exporters are striving to sell more to other markets to make up for the decline in shipments to China.

Nguyen Hong Son, president of the Vietnam Academy of Agricultural Sciences, said in the last three years many markets with high-quality requirements such as the US, Australia, New Zealand, Europe, and some Asian countries have opened their doors to many kinds of Vietnamese fruits.

But he noted that most fruits and vegetables are exported in fresh form, and enterprises need to invest more in processing facilities to meet market demand, particularly in Europe.

According to Nguyen, to boost export to the US and Europe, cultivation methods must be changed to apply global good agriculture practices or higher.

He said storage and packaging technologies must be improved to enable products to last for over 30 days so that they can be shipped to Europe and the US by sea.

“Currently our exports ... are completely done by air, and so prices are high and export volumes are low,” Nguyen said.

He recommended that in addition to boosting exports, firms would also need to pay close attention to the lucrative domestic market of 100 million.

"With their increasing incomes, Vietnamese are consuming more products that are good for health, and so demand for fruits and vegetables has increased significantly in recent years," he said.

According to the association, big cities such as Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and Da Nang have huge demand.

Statistics from Saigon Co.op show that sales of fruits and vegetables at its supermarket chains have gone up significantly to around 1,100 tonnes a month.

Son said enterprises have so far focused on exports and paid little attention to the domestic market.

“When we have export problems, we recognise that the domestic market is very important.

“We should not think that the domestic market will accept low quality. Nowadays consumers in big cities pay close attention to the quality of products,” he said.

Besides, firms needed to seek measures to minimise intermediary costs so more consumers could access the products, he said.

E-commerce platform Tiki reports unusual growth in FebruaryVietnamese e-commerce platform Tiki has reported an increase of 15 percent in sales since the beginning of February, saying in a newsletter it indicates the significant increase in shopping needs since the COVID-19 outbreak began.

It made a comparison with the last two months of 2019, highlighting the fact that the fourth quarter was a shopping festival on all e-commerce platforms.

The remarkable growth means there are 3,000-4,000 orders a minute, it said.

The most purchased products since the beginning of February are masks, wet towels and air purifiers.

“Besides controlling the prices of products, we also strive to ensure supply, particularly hand sanitizers, since cleaning hands is considered one of the most effective disease prevention methods recommended by medical experts and doctors,” Ngo Hoang Gia Khanh, vice president of corporate development at Tiki, said.

The first two months of 2020 also witnessed a 1.5-fold growth in Tiki’s book sales year-on-year.

The five bestselling categories have been literature, self-help, children, economics, and manga. Some others have also been selling, such as books for foreign language learning, reference, mother-baby, and medicine.

The two categories with the highest growth are medical books and family knowledge books, whose sales increased by 2.7 and two times.

Dong Thap stops receiving foreign visitors

The Mekong Delta province of Dong Thap has temporarily suspended the welcome of foreign visitors due to Covid-19.

Under the instruction signed by provincial vice chairman Doan Tan Buu, the province will stop receiving foreign visitors, particularly those transported to the locality from Cambodia by water.

The local department of Culture, Sports and Tourism has been asked to disseminate the instruction to travel firms for implementation.

Local authorities will tighten control over people’s travel through border areas to help the epidemic prevention.

Dong Thap’s medical facilities have also been asked to refuse to give check-ups to Cambodian people who fail to show health declarations.

Earlier, many tourist sites in Vietnam such as Cat Ba Island in Haiphong City, Ly Son Island in Quang Ngai Province, Trang An in Ninh Binh Province and Ha Long City in Quang Ninh Province decided to suspend the welcome of travellers to help Covid-19 virus prevention.

E-commerce platform Tiki reports unusual growth in FebruaryVietnamese e-commerce platform Tiki has reported an increase of 15 percent in sales since the beginning of February, saying in a newsletter it indicates the significant increase in shopping needs since the COVID-19 outbreak began.

It made a comparison with the last two months of 2019, highlighting the fact that the fourth quarter was a shopping festival on all e-commerce platforms.

The remarkable growth means there are 3,000-4,000 orders a minute, it said.

The most purchased products since the beginning of February are masks, wet towels and air purifiers.

“Besides controlling the prices of products, we also strive to ensure supply, particularly hand sanitizers, since cleaning hands is considered one of the most effective disease prevention methods recommended by medical experts and doctors,” Ngo Hoang Gia Khanh, vice president of corporate development at Tiki, said.

The first two months of 2020 also witnessed a 1.5-fold growth in Tiki’s book sales year-on-year.

The five bestselling categories have been literature, self-help, children, economics, and manga. Some others have also been selling, such as books for foreign language learning, reference, mother-baby, and medicine.

The two categories with the highest growth are medical books and family knowledge books, whose sales increased by 2.7 and two times.

Association calls for measures to revive property market

The HCM City Real Estate Association (HoREA) has called on the Government to resolve problems related to legal and administrative procedures and access to funding and cut lending interest rates to revive the property market.

The total value of unsold property inventories held just by firms listed rose to 223.474 trillion VND (9.62 billion USD) last year, a 38 percent rise from 2018, HoREA said in a report.

Twenty four of them have inventories of over 1 trillion VND, four large companies have inventories of 4.2-7.4 trillion VND and the top two account for 63 percent of the value, the report says.

“Real estate inventories will become a burden for businesses and the economy.”

The inventories are due to legal problems, which have caused incomplete projects to stall and completed products to remain unsold, it explains.

Most listed real estate firms have seen profits fall in the last few years because they could not sell their products or have nothing to sell, it says.

HoREA urged the central and local governments to address the legal and administrative problems and to speed up the handling of projects subject to review and inspection so that they could be completed.

It urged developers to focus on liquidating their inventories and paying off overdue debts. They should restructure products to match people’s incomes, restructure prices and even accept losses to sell their inventories, it says.

Hundreds of real estate projects have been stalled in recent years due to cumbersome administrative procedures.

According to property consultancy CBRE, the housing market this year will depend on whether the legal issues that plagued the market last year are resolved.

Vo Huynh Tuan Kiet, associate director and head of residential project marketing at CBRE Vietnam, said thus there could either be a continuing supply shortage and escalating prices or a supply revival and competitive prices.

In the first scenario, if the legal obstacles continue to persist, inventories would decrease gradually due to a lack of new supply, prices would escalate and the suburban market might surpass the downtown market, he said.

In the second scenario, the barrier of legal risks would be removed, resulting in a surge in supply and a gradual increase to inventories, he said.

But the abundance of supply would lead to more competitive prices, he added.

According to a report by HoREA, the city currently has nearly 15,000 real estate businesses, and of its nearly 9,000 large businesses, more than 30 per cent are in property development.

In 2018-19, most real estate businesses faced difficulties, causing the market size to shrink sharply.

Retail prices of petrol plummeted

The retail prices of petrol decreased significantly from 3pm of March 15, making it the fifth consecutive reduction since the beginning of this year.

Following the latest adjustment by the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Ministry of Finance, the price of biofuel E5 RON92 fell by 2,290 VND to 16,056 VND (0.69 USD) per litre at the highest, and that of RON95-III was also down by 2,315 VND to 16,812 VND per litre.

Meanwhile, the prices of diesel 0.05S and kerosene were 13,035 VND per litre and 11,846 VND per litre, down 1,750 VND and 1,830 VND per litre, respectively.

Mazut 180CST 3.5S is sold at no more than 10,501 VND per kilogramme, down 1,353 VND per kilogramme.

The two ministries review fuel prices every 15 days to adjust domestic prices in accordance with fluctuations in the global market.

They decided to subsidise 200 VND per litre for E5 RON92; 800 VND per litre for RON95, diesel and kerosene; and 100 VND per kg for mazut.

Sales at supermarkets surge, wet markets drop

Revenue of commercial companies grew by more than 10 percent in the first two months of this year compared to the same period last year, reported the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the demand for essential goods increased.

The number of customers shopping at supermarkets increased over the same period last year. They mainly shop for essential foodstuffs, such as livestock and poultry meat, eggs, instant noodles, and vegetables.

Due to the sudden growing demand, distribution systems have increased stockpiles to meet the needs of shoppers.

The volume of goods stocked for epidemic prevention and control increased by between 30 percent and 40 percent.

Supermarkets also promoted e-commerce channels to serve the needs of people when fighting the pandemic.

Because the food prices after the Lunar New Year in supermarkets are stable and lower than in wet markets, the volume of goods sold in the markets decreased by 50-70 percent with revenue falling 50-80 percent compared to before the epidemic.

In addition, customers are afraid to go to crowded places, therefore, e-commerce revenue of some businesses increased by 20-30 percent.

Rubber Group plans to build three processing plants in northern region

The Vietnam Rubber Industry Group (VRG) will invest in three more processing factories in the northern region as the rubber output is expected to increase in the coming time.

Accordingly, in 2022, the Lai Chau Rubber Company II will pour capital into a SVR 10, SVR 20 latex processing line, with a capacity of 5,000 tonnes a year. Also during this period, the Dien Bien Rubber Company will invest in an RSS latex processing plant with a capacity of 3,000 tonnes a year.

Meanwhile, in 2025, the Dau Tieng - Lao Cai Rubber Company will inject money into an SVR 10 and SVR 20 latex processing factory with a capacity of 3,000 tonnes a year, to serve companies in the northeastern region.

Currently, in the northern mountainous region, VRG has the Chau Thuan - Son La Rubber Processing Plant, with an annual capacity of 6,000 tonnes and the Lai Chau Rubber Processing Factory with a capacity of 5,000 tonnes a year.

In 2023, work will start on the second phase of the Lai Chau Rubber Processing Factory with a capacity of 4,000 tonnes per year, bringing its total capacity to 9,000 tonnes per year.

These two plants are expected to meet the processing demand of the whole region.

Supplies of goods remain abundant: Trade Ministry

The supply of necessities and consumer goods can meet the demand of local customers, since Vietnam is an agricultural country and has well-developed light industries, the Ministry of Industry and Trade said, in response to consumer anxiety and fear over the spread of the coronavirus.

The ministry has reviewed the nation’s supply of goods amid rising concerns among residents over a potential shortage of goods and possible price hikes.

Many supermarket chains have increased their supplies to serve local customers. Big C has tripled its stockpiles of products, while Saigon Co.op has increased its inventory of items by 50%-100%, and the total number of goods at Vinmart has been adjusted up by 50%-200%.

Lotte Mart and MM Megamarket have also prepared ample supplies of goods to meet the demand of consumers, apart from keeping prices stable, as these retailers are actively cooperating with farmers and sources of goods from various provinces and cities, the local media reported.

There are plentiful supplies of various products for customers at many traditional markets. However, the consumption of goods at wet markets has dipped by 20%-30%, as customers prefer buying products at supermarkets due to the growing fear of the coronavirus.

Statistics from the ministry indicate that the output of rice could reach an estimated 26 million tons this year. Domestic customers will consume some 19-20 million tons, allowing the country to export six million tons of rice.

The total volume of meat of all types for supply is estimated at 5.5-5.8 million tons this year, up 10% against 2019. Of the total, an estimated 3.5 million tons of pork will be supplied to the local market, while the supply of poultry will amount to an estimated 1.36 million tons.

Besides this, seafood supplies have reached some 8.2 million tons each year, while 40-50 million tons of vegetables and fruits are provided for customers annually.

Such sufficient supplies of goods can meet the demand of some 100 million people in Vietnam, noted the ministry.

Banks lower interest rates for 8,000 virus-hit borrowers

Local banks have reduced lending rates for 8,000 customers who have been affected by the coronavirus outbreak, stated Nguyen Quoc Hung, head of the State Bank of Vietnam’s (SBV's) Credit Department. They are also considering rate cuts for 34,350 others with outstanding loans amounting to VND185 trillion.

On March 12, the State Bank of Vietnam issued a circular instructing local credit institutions and the branches of foreign banks to reschedule debt payments as well as lower interest rates to help virus-hit customers, the local media reported.

Hung said the Covid-19 outbreak continues to develop, directly affecting enterprises in the import-export, tourism and transport sectors.

Due to the pandemic, customers have found it hard to pay loans totaling VND926 trillion on schedule.

 

Banks have rescheduled the payment deadlines for loans worth VND21.75 trillion.

They have also reduced, even waived, service fees for customers.

In the coming months, the central bank will continue to monitor the development of the disease and will issue appropriate credit policies. It will also direct commercial banks to support clients by removing obstacles and reducing losses triggered by Covid-19, noted SBV Deputy Governor Dao Minh Tu.

No hike in electricity tariffs in H1: trade ministry

The Ministry of Industry and Trade has said that it will not approve proposals to raise the State-controlled prices of production input materials and facilities, including electricity, for the first half of this year to support firms hit by the coronavirus outbreak.

On Tuesday, Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh signed a directive on measures to prevent and control coronavirus outbreaks and to handle arising difficulties in production and business activities.

The ministry asked the relevant agencies to fast-track the completion of major industrial projects, including the Thai Binh 2, Long Phu 1 and Song Hau 1 thermal power plants and power, gas, renewable energy and power transmission projects.

A master plan for national electricity development between 2021 and 2030, with a vision toward 2040, should be devised as soon as possible, according to the directive.

It added that any arising hindrances to the formulation process should be reported to authorities for handling in a bid to prevent a power crunch between 2021 and 2025.

The ministry ordered the concerned agencies to simplify and slash business conditions, take steps to raise the country’s competitiveness and ease production and business activities.

The Department of Finance and Enterprise Innovation was told to send a report to the Ministry of Finance on plans to cut fees for business stakeholders being affected by the coronavirus crisis.

Meanwhile, the Domestic Market Department was asked to keep a close eye on market developments and collaborate with local governments and businesses to ensure continuing supplies of essential goods at reasonable prices, especially in localities hit by the flu-like disease known as Covid-19.

The directive noted that the General Department of Market Surveillance should strengthen its market management and strictly penalize individuals and organizations that commit violations, particularly the hoarding of commodities necessary for the prevention and control of Covid-19 infection.

In the wake of the devastating disease now declared a global pandemic, the Ministry of Planning and Investment recently revised Vietnam’s economic growth outlook with two scenarios.

If the outbreak is contained within the first quarter of this year, the gross domestic product growth for this year will be 6.25%, or 0.55 percentage point lower than the target of 6.8% approved by the National Assembly.

If the disease is brought under control in the second quarter, the national economy will grow by 5.96%, or 0.84 percentage point lower than the original target. However, this forecast was made before the disease spread in South Korea and Japan.

Vingroup enters industrial real estate sector

Vinhomes Industrial Park Investment Company, or Vinhomes IZ, has transferred its stake to some of its subsidiaries seeking to enter the industrial property sector.

Vinhomes JSC has announced the receipt of the Vinhomes IZ stake, officially making it the parent company.

Established in December 2018 to invest in and support startups, Vinhomes IZ had charter capital of VND70 billion.

The firm’s entry into the industrial real estate sector is aimed at joining the trend of raising foreign direct investment capital.

The new strategy is considered one of the firm’s three key drivers, especially in the housing and office segments, for its business operations.

Vinhomes also pointed out that the move is expected to allow international suppliers for supporting industries to develop the first production facility in Vietnam and build a system of local automobile production lines to boost the growth of the industrial segment. Earlier, Vingroup had established the VinFast automobile complex within 21 months.

Vinhome IZ plans to develop its first industrial real estate project in Haiphong City.

Rice exporters told to keep 5% of stock for local market

The Ministry of Industry and Trade's Import-Export Department has requested rice exporters to set aside a volume of rice equivalent to at least 5% of their rice shipments from the previous six months to meet the rising demand on the local market.


Traders are told to improve their distribution systems in such a way that allow them to supply rice to the market at the instruction of competent State agencies so as to help stabilize the market in the midst of coronavirus fears. The past few days have seen consumers boost purchase of rice and other necessities due to virus fears.

In fact, local supply is guaranteed due to high output and stagnant rice exports over the past months.

Since early this year, developments on the global market have significantly affected Vietnam’s rice exports. Specifically, other countries have boosted their rice volumes, while the demand for rice in Vietnam’s traditional markets, such as China, Indonesia and Malaysia, has dropped, the Government news website reported.

Further, the Philippines as a key buyer of Vietnam's rice has enhanced its control over rice imports.

To meet the rice export target assigned by the prime minister and effectively deploy Decree 107/2018/ND-CP on rice exports, the Import-Export Department has also required the Departments of Industry and Trade of localities and the Vietnam Food Association to encourage rice exporters to continue improving their infrastructure and increasing the added value of their products, contributing to building the Vietnamese rice brand.

They should closely monitor rice prices in their localities and report any volatility to the departments as well as coordinate with the Departments of Agriculture and Rural Development in their localities to instruct cooperatives and farmers to apply new production processes to ensure the quality of rice for export. 

Over 28,000 firms suspend operations within two months amid virus outbreak

More than 28,300 firms ceased operations in the first two months of the year, partly due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, which causes a flu-like disease called Covid-19.

The figure was some 11,000 higher than the number of new firms, which amounted to nearly 17,400, according to a report by the Business Registration Management Agency with the Ministry of Planning and Investment.

Veteran economist Pham Chi Lan told the Saigon Times that ahead of the outbreak, local firms had already faced many challenges and had been vulnerable to changes in policies and external effects due to their small sizes and poor ability to respond to problems.

These factors took them to the brink of suspension, Lan stated, citing Decree 100/2019, which provides austere rules against drunk driving, for example.

The decree, which took effect early this year, bans any alcohol consumption by drivers, attracting fines of up to VND40 million (US$1,725) and a driving license suspension of two years for an automobile driver or a fine of up to VND8 million (US$345) for a motorcycle rider. Even a bicycle rider may be subject to a fine of VND600,000 (US$26) for drunk driving.

Lan noted that the decree affects not only brewers, restaurants and taverns but also their food and service providers. “This is one of the reasons enterprises had to withdraw from the market over the past two months,” she remarked.

She pointed out that the outbreak has already had an adverse impact on all business sectors, especially the tourism, accommodation, hospitality and retail sectors.

Small enterprises and business households were hit instantly, she claimed, explaining that they have modest reserves of capital, making it hard for them to address major obstacles.

These firms will come close to bankruptcy if they do not receive timely support from the Government, according to the expert.

Gloomy predictions and support

If the outbreak lasts over six months, 74% of polled firms in Vietnam will go bankrupt as their revenues will fail to cover operational expenses, according to a survey by the Private Economic Development Research Board with the Government’s Advisory Council for Administrative Procedure Reform.

The survey, which polled over 1,200 firms from March 2 to 3, revealed that roughly 30% had lost 20%-50% in revenue, while 60% saw their revenue slashed by over 50%.

Three quarters of firms surveyed were of a small scale, each employing fewer than 100 people. The sectors hardest hit by the epidemic are tourism, education, textiles and garments, footwear and wood production.

Some 20% of enterprises claimed they do not have appropriate facilities to fight the outbreak, indicating the passivity of small- and medium-sized enterprises as well as their limited capabilities.

This could be an early warning sign that a more serious crisis could follow the outbreak, according to the survey.

Economist Lan cited a number of apparel and footwear firms’ representatives as saying that their inventories of raw materials for production would only last up to next month, with only a few holding enough stocks to last until the end of June.

She said these firms are heavily dependent on material supplies from China. If the outbreak is not contained soon, they will run into production and export difficulties.

“Once importers move their orders to other markets, Vietnamese enterprises and their workers will suffer hardships as these firms could lose these partners,” she warned.

In a joint petition, as many as 150 private educational institutions stated last week that they are seeking assistance from authorities as nationwide school closures triggered by the spread of the novel coronavirus have created great financial difficulties for them.

Citing a survey, they indicated that if the outbreak were to last for six months, a staggering 80% of polled private schools would see their revenues drop by over 50%, and 90% of them would go out of business.

In a move to minimize the economic fallout from the outbreak, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc ordered tax authorities to reschedule tax payments to support the affected enterprises. The Government is also offering them loans of up to VND250 trillion (US$10.8 billion).

New consumer trends amid coronavirus outbreak

Coronavirus, which causes Covid-19 disease, has become a buzzword as the epidemic is spreading fast in many countries. The disease has claimed many lives, and infects thousands day after day. The possibility of a global economic recession is high.

However, life still goes on. To live is the instinct, the right and the desire of humans. Everybody is seeking ways to survive the disease because how things will be like is unknown. Therefore, many people have started hoarding goods as a way to help them feel safe.

Anything could happen as long as coronavirus continues spreading. Normal things such as face masks and hand sanitizers, which had been left unattended before, have become scarce and expensive, triggering smuggling and hoarding. Gold has also skyrocketed, putting investors on tenterhooks. Toilet paper can hardly be found on the store shelves. Recently, cooking oil made from fish has become something precious.

It is difficult to find the product at supermarkets or wet markets nationwide. Office female workers and housewives have been scrambling for food spices made from fish as they believe they can help improve immune systems. For overseas markets, oil fish is abundant but cooking oil made from fish is rarely seen due to strong consumer demand.

There are convincing evidence for their choices. According to scientists, fish or fish oil is good for human health thanks to natural nutrition such as vitamins A and E, omega 3, 6 and 9 fatty acids, DHA/EPA and minerals, which can improve eyesight, heart, brain and digestive system.

Every day, people need three meals and a good sleep. Under the current circumstances, what we should eat to stay healthy is a trendy issue.

Experts at the National Nutrition Institute under the Ministry of Health have long recommended a proper intake of fish and vegetables and a reduction of meat consumption. For those who dislike fish, fish oil, especially cooking oil made from fish, is a wise choice.

Many consumers have appreciated this cooking oil, saying that it can create a distinct flavor for their dishes, raise appetite and reduce a greasy feeling. The product is suitable for people of all ages and genders.

The knowledge of fish has become prevalent in recent days, making the cooking oil sell like hot cakes. It is feared that its prices would surge like face masks, hand sanitizers, toilet paper or gold.

At the start of the coronavirus outbreak, someone claimed that dropping a few drops of cajuput oil into the face mask could help prevent contracting the virus. Whether this works remains unknown, but many people have rushed to cajuput forests. Obviously, fresh air, mild fragrance of white cajuput flowers and green water-fern there are good for tourists who want to escape dusty cities and make them feel heathier.

The Covid-19 disease is prompting the world to change their behaviors, from socialization to consumption. To survive the epidemic, people wear face masks, work out, join eco-tourism trips and select products that can help improve immune systems.

Bến Tre Province tells farmers to tie up with companies for steady demand, prices

Authorities in the Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta province of Bến Tre have encouraged farmers to co-operate among themselves and with companies to improve farming efficiency.

Huỳnh Quang Đức, deputy director of the province’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said after restructuring agriculture over the last year to adapt to climate change, the province has two main products, coconut and green skin and pink flesh grapefruit, which are resistant to climate change and have steady demand.

Farmers in Bến Tre, the country’s largest coconut producer, have chosen it as one of the key crops to restructure their production since the tree is resistant to drought and saltwater intrusion.

Since the province is on the coast, it is one of the hardest hit in the delta by saltwater intrusion from the sea through rivers in the dry season.

To cope, many rice farmers here have switched to other crops like coconut and green skin and pink flesh grapefruit. They have tied up with companies to ensure steady demand for their produce and incomes.

Nguyễn Văn Hưng has an 8,000sq.m coconut grove in Giồng Trôm District’s Châu Bình Commune and a contract with the Ba Đốt Coconut Co., Ltd in Châu Thành District.

He used to grow rice, but after the severe drought and saltwater intrusion in 2015 – 16 he switched to other crops, but could not earn much.

Early last year he began to grow xiêm xanh coconut, a variety grown for its juice.

The company provides seedlings and teaches him organic farming techniques.

“I have signed a farm contract with the company, so I feel secure,” he said.

Trần Văn Phong, director of Ba Đốt, said his company had signed contracts to buy coconut grown on more than 70ha, including 40ha of new groves.

It plans to sign up more coconut farmers, especially those who switch from other crops.

Bến Tre has more than 72,000ha under coconuts, including 20,000ha of xiêm xanh coconut.

Võ Văn Nam, head of the province’s Plant Protection and Cultivation Sub-department, said farmers had recognised the usefulness of tying up with companies and were gradually switching to crops that have market demand.

"The co-operation helps improve incomes and adapt to climate change," he said.

Đức added that to restructure agriculture to adapt to climate change and meet market demand, it was important that authorities properly organise agriculture and teach farmers appropriate techniques. 

Đà Nẵng adopts measures to tackle difficulties for businesses

Authorities in Đà Nẵng have adopted a resolution on solutions and tasks to prevent the COVID-19 pandemic and tackle difficulties for businesses to fulfil the city's socio-economic development targets this year.

The resolution was approved at a session of the city’s People’s Council on Friday.

The solutions and tasks focus on taking measures to control the COVID-19 outbreak and speed up the implementation of 2020 socio-economic development goals approved by the council at the previous session.

The city will also take urgent measures to support businesses, tackle difficulties for production and ensure social security.

Measures will be taken to continue administrative reforms and simplify administrative procedures to reduce time and costs.

Information sharing will be strengthened to raise public awareness of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Chairman of the city’s People’s Council Nguyễn Nho Trung said the council praised the efforts of the whole political system, local authorities, businesses and people to prevent and control the disease.

The pandemic has had negative impacts on the city’s socio-economic development, particularly in the fields of tourism, services, trade, import and export, transport and education, according to Trung.

Many businesses faced difficulties, forcing them to downsize production or temporarily suspend operation.

In order to help the city and businesses to overcome these difficulties, the city’s People’s Council agreed with these solutions and entrusted the city’s People’s Committee to effectively implement the resolution, he said.

Lang Son promotes border gate economy

Bordering China, the northern province of Lang Son defines border gate economy as the spearhead of local economic development.

The province has implemented several policies to attract investment into its border gate economic zones helping the local economy experience firm growth.

Lang Son is Vietnam’s first point in the economic corridor linking China’s Nanning with Hanoi and Hai Phong. It is also an important gateway connecting China and other ASEAN countries.

Nguyen Cong Truong, Deputy Chairman of the Lang Son provincial People’s Committee, said the province’s 12 border gates make up 53% of the local economy.

Truong told VOV “We have arranged the local border crossing system as an effort to boost local economic development. We focus on attracting domestic and foreign investors in border gate projects.”

“Lang Son has worked closely with China’s Guangxi province to pave the way for import and export of ASEAN countries and other Chinese provinces through Lang Son in order to increase local revenues and create more jobs for the locals,” he added.

Last year, Lang Son completed several important works to serve border gate economic growth.

Last December, a 4.7km cargo route between the Tan Thanh border gate in Vietnam and the Pu Zhai border gate in China came into operation, boosting bilateral trade and reducing transportation congestion, especially for farm produce exported to China.

Thanks to strengthening administrative reform and the Provincial Governance and Public Administration Performance Index (PAPI), the Public Administration Reform Index (PAR INDEX), and the Provincial Competitiveness Index (PCI), Lang Son has removed obstacles for businesses and boosted border trade.

Hoang Thi Quyen of Duc Long International Import-Export Company in Bac Ninh province said “We export fruits and farm produce to China. Whenever our goods are transported to Tan Thanh border gate, all agencies facilitate the export of our products. They classify our products and prioritize fresh products.”

The Dong Dang-Lang Son border gate economic zone is one of Vietnam’s busy trading attractive. Strong investment has made it an important hub for economic cooperation between Lang Son and China’s Quangxi province and the two countries in general.

Phan Hong Tien, Head of the Management Board of the Dong Dang-Lang Son border gate economic zone, said Lang Son has offered many incentives for investors in the border economic zone.

“Investors and businesses in the local border gate economic zone enjoy several incentives including the Prime Minister’s special incentives in personal income taxes, corporate income taxes, land rents, and human and vehicle transits,” said Tien.

He added “The provincial People’s Committee has asked relevant agencies to build preferential policies to support investment, particularly in the border gate economic zone, and boost links between local border crossings to promote economic growth.”

The Lang Son border gate economic zone has more than 5,000 businesses involved in production, trade, export, and import. Last year, it earned an estimated US$4.7 billion from import-export activities and its contribution to the state budget increased 21.4% over the previous year.

 
 

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