BUSINESS NEWS HEADLINES MARCH 26

Commercial banks support COVID-19-hit businesses

BUSINESS NEWS HEADLINES MARCH 26

The State Bank of Vietnam (SBV)’s leaders on March 24 held an online meeting with representatives of 12 joint stock commercial banks on the implementation of measures to support businesses and people affected by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

SBV Deputy Governor Dao Minh Tu said the central bank has instructed commercial banks to delay, extend, and reschedule debt payments as well as reduce interest rates and fees for businesses, while providing new loans to help them overcome difficulties.

Besides, the State Bank has adjusted interest rates to support credit institutions with easier captial access.

On March 13, 2020, the SBV Governor issued Circular No. 01/2020/TT-NHNN directing credit institutions and foreign bank branches to restructure their repayment periods, waive and reduce interest rates and fees, and maintain debt classifications in order to support customers affected by the Covid-19 pandemic (Circular 01).

To implement the circular, banks are required to develop scenarios based on their activities, Tu said, adding that they should assess losses of businesses and customers at present and in the short and medium terms, then report to the SBV’s relevant units for prompt support./.

Hanoi’s businesses asked to promote operations amid pandemic

Politburo member and Secretary of the Hanoi Party Committee Vuong Dinh Hue has asked local enterprises to step up operations while preparing their response plans for the COVID-19 pandemic.

At a working session with the Party Organisation of the Hanoi Business Bloc and corporations based in the city on March 24, Hue stressed that COVID-19 prevention and control are the most urgent task at present, requesting them to take measures to ensure safety for their employees and clients, continue thrift practice, and ensure harmonious labour relations in their businesses.

Given the complex developments of the pandemic, he suggested that firms carry out concerted solutions to facilitate production and business activities while guaranteeing goods supply.

Nguyen Anh Tuan, Vice Secretary of the Hanoi Business Bloc’s Party Committee, said under the municipal Party Committee’s direction, the bloc’s Party Committee had set up a steering board for COVID-19 prevention and control. It is determined to help contain the outbreak, sustain economic growth, and maintain political security and labourers’ safety, he said.

At the meeting, companies in the tourism sector asked ministries and central sectors to reduce taxes, extend deadlines for personal income tax payments, and delay social insurance contributions in the peak months of the epidemic.

They also called on the city’s authorities to issue practical policies to help them weather difficulties caused by COVID-19, invest more in tourism promotions and demand stimulation after the pandemic ends, support the creation of strategic tourism products, and resume big events that have been delayed like the F1 Vietnam Grand Prix to attract visitors.

Talking about countermeasures, a representative of Hanoitourist Corporation said the firm has asked local hotels to offer online sales and food services. It is also promoting online training and hotel renovation to prepare for tourism recovery when the outbreak is over.

Secretary of the Party Committee of the Hanoi Transport Services Corporation (Transerco) Nguyen Hoang Trung said the transport sector is currently struggling due to the impact of the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 outbreak, noting that in his company’s arm of public transport, about 7,000 labourers have been affected. Reducing shifts and letting its workers take annual leave are among the measures Transerco has applied so that employees can still receive their salaries.

For the Hanoi Trade Joint Stock Corporation (Hapro), its exports to key markets like the US, Europe and ASEAN have been stagnated. However, its retail activities remain effective with sales of essential goods and food in the domestic market rising about 25 – 30 percent, according to General Director Vu Thanh Son.

The firm still manages to balance its operations in domestic distribution via the Hapro mart network and export, he said, adding that it is pressing on with production and business activities, stockpiling and supplying goods, and stabilising prices as ordered by the municipal administration./.

Vietnam’s two-month cashew exports to US up

Vietnam’s cashew exports to the US in the first two months of the year rose by 21 percent in volume to 17,900 tonnes and 3.6 percent in value to 126.2 million USD year-on-year, according to the General Department of Customs.

The US, along with the Netherlands and China, remained the top three largest cashew export markets for Vietnam.

The department said the country exported a total 50,700 tonnes of cashew nuts in the period, a year on year increase of 6.5 percent, but value fell 8.4 percent to about 357 million USD.

The average export price of cashew nuts in the first two months decreased by 14 percent over the same period last year to 7,046 USD per tonne, it said.

For February alone, total cashew exports reached 26,100 tonnes, earning 185.2 million USD. This marked a surge of 5.7 percent in volume and 7.3 percent in value month-on-month, and 76.8 percent and 50.6 percent, respectively, year-on-year.

In February, Vietnam saw growth in cashew exports to many markets, including the US, the Netherlands, the UK, Germany, Canada, Thailand, Australia and Saudi Arabia, but exports to China fell sharply due to low demand during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Vietnam's cashew industry was expected to face difficulties in export during the first half this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and oversupply, said the Vietnam Cashew Association.

By mid-March, the domestic price of raw cashew nuts had fallen 6,000 VND per kilo compared to the end of February.

The association said the COVID-19 pandemic posed many risks and unpredictable fluctuations on the cashew market at home and abroad.

The cashew harvest has arrived in Vietnam, Cambodia and West Africa, with countries relying on high yields, especially Cambodia and the Ivory Coast.

Vietnam is also expected to have high cashew output this year, which will likely push prices down, said the association.

It has recommended local cashew export processing enterprises to monitor the market closely to make suitable production and business plans this year, including buying raw cashew, selling processed cashew, and storing raw materials and finished products.

Vietnam has targeted total export value of cashew at 4 billion USD this year./.

MoIT extends safeguard measures against imported rolled steel, steel wire

The Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) has extended the application of measures to prevent evasion of safeguard duties against imported rolled steel and steel wire until March 21, 2023, according to the ministry’s Trade Remedies Authority of Vietnam.

Under Decision No.920/QD-BCT, products with HS codes 7213.91.90, 7217.10.10, 7217.10.29, 7229.90.99, and 9839.10.00 will be subject to an anti-evasion tax rate of 9.4 percent during the period from March 22, 2020 to March 21, 2021. The rate will be reduced to 7.9 percent for the following year from March 22, 2021 to March 21, 2022, and to 6.4 percent during the period from March 22, 2022 to March 21, 2023.

The duty will be adjusted to zero percent from March 22, 2023 if no further review is launched.

The safeguard measures for rolled steel and steel wires imported to Vietnam were launched on May 13 last year under the MoIT’s Decision 1230/QD-BCT.

The ministry has also taken a similar move on imported steel billets and steel bars. It issued Decision 2968/QĐ-BCT to impose a global scale protection for steel billets and bars imported into Vietnam on July 18, 2016. The term of the protection is four years between March 22, 2016 and March 21, 2020.

Last week, the safeguard measure was extended for three years, until March 2023./.

KTG starts construction of ready-built factory in Nhon Trach 3B Industrial Centre

Khai Toan Group (KTG) has recently begun the construction of a ready-built factory in Nhon Trach 3B Industrial Center in Dong Nai province, featuring its Industry 4.0 factory.

According to Dang Trong Duc, deputy general director of Khai Toan Group (KTG), this will be the second generation of KTG's factory, combining the factory, a pre-built warehouse, and 4.0 technology to create a digital convergence for industry and business functions and internal processes.

The objective of the project is to achieve optimal management, effective operations, enhance environmental protection, and steer KTG's production towards sustainable development.

This ready-built factory in Nhon Trach 3B Industrial Centre is now distributed by CBRE Vietnam.

According to Le Trong Hieu, director of advisory and transaction service at CBRE Vietnam, KTG's 4.0 factory marks the evolution of the prefabricated factory to better meet customers' requirements.

“This new-generation workshop has upgraded design, better customer service software, more environmentally friendly operations, and is brought closer to potential tenants through a virtual reality experience as well as customer service software during the rental period,” said Hieu.

These characteristics are a definite competitive advantage for KTG to continue to develop its strength as a leader in the industrial property.

Most importantly, the southern industrial real estate market has more than 60,000 square metres of new quality factories in Nhon Trach, Dong Nai province – a hot growth area in recent years, attracting more investments for Vietnam.

Apart from its Industry 4.0 features, KTG’s factory is also the first green factory as it runs entirely on solar energy generated on-site certified for the LEED standard by the US Green Building Council.

This is a pioneering international standard in evaluating energy-saving buildings and protecting human habitats, adhering to energy-saving standards and creating a green environment and improving the quality of the living environment, increasing the adaptability of the building to environmental change, and optimising the use of renewable energy.

Generali growth buoyed by record fiscal year in 2019

Generali Group, one of the world’s leading insurance and asset management groups, closed the fiscal year 2019 with a bang across the board.

The Italian-based group posted an operating result of €5.2 billion ($5.7 billion), up 6.9 per cent on-year, with profit hitting €2.7 billion ($2.97 billion), an on-year 15.7 per cent jump, plus excellent capital position with solvency ratio at 224 per cent, and dividend increasing by 6.7 per cent to €0.96 ($1.05) per share.

The results demonstrated Generali’s technical excellence and its solid capital position, despite a deterioration in macro-economic conditions and a continuing scenario of low interest rates.

“Generali closed 2019 with the best operating result in its history and with an excellent capital position, consolidating its role as a global leader in the industry. This set of results confirm that we are fully on track to meet all the targets of the Generali 2021 strategic plan,” said Philippe Donnet, Generali Group CEO.

“Our performance in 2019 and the progress we have made towards the targets of the strategic plan also put us in a strong position to face the rapidly-evolving situation caused by the global COVID-19 outbreak around the world. Our key priority is to safeguard the health and wellbeing of our employees while guaranteeing the continuity of all our operations and maintaining our full product offering and client service levels,” he noted.

Amid tough implications of COVID-19, the group has created an extraordinary international fund of up to €100 million ($110 million) dedicated to the fight against novel coronavirus emergency on an international level.

The fund, which will primarily assist Italy but will also be available in other countries where Generali operates, will offer immediate assistance in this quickly evolving crisis and, in the medium term, aims to support economic recovery efforts in the countries affected.

In Vietnam, Generali has also applied a special support scheme to the customers who unluckily contracted COVID-19 via a supplemental payment reaching VND30 million ($1,300) per person besides their insurance benefits.

In light of the Generali 2021 plan, sustainability has become an enabler of the group’s strategies. During the course of 2019, it therefore undertook significant initiatives aimed at including sustainability in all business segments.

Thanks to these actions, Generali was incorporated for the first time in the Dow Jones Sustainability Europe Index and was included in the 2020 Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations by Corporate Knights, which ranks the 100 most sustainable companies in the world. Last September, Generali was also confirmed in the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index for the second year running

Established in 1831, Generali has made forays in 50 countries and territories in the world and posted more than €69.7 billion ($76.5 billion) in insurance premiums in 2019.

BIDV uncertain prospect despite historic deal with KEB Hana Bank

BIDV’s overvalued stocks will likely do more harm than good for the lender’s plans to lure funding in the face of pessimistic economic growth, despite last year’s historic deal with South Korea’s KEB Hana Bank.

Earlier this month, BIDV – one of four state-owned commercial lenders in Vietnam – held its annual meeting to discuss last year’s results and future plans.

BIDV’s board of management aims to grow the bank’s pre-tax profit by around 16 per cent to reach VND12.5 trillion ($543.5 million) by the end of 2020. At first, the bank targeted credit growth of 13 per cent on-year, but its initial credit growth quota from the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) is only 9 per cent.

The annual meeting revealed that the bank is expected to pay a 7 per cent stock dividend in the third or fourth quarter of this year, roughly equivalent to 281.5 million shares. The bank, with its optimistic outlook, plans to issue an additional 341.5 million new shares in 2020-2021 via public or private placement, equivalent to 8.5 per cent of the outstanding shares at the end of 2019.

Last year, BIDV has successfully completed the sale of 603.3 million shares, equal to 15 per cent of BIDV’s post-deal capital, via a private placement to KEB Hana Bank.

The strategic co-operation between the bank and the South Korean lender officially inked last year makes BIDV the lender with the largest market capitalisation in Vietnam, outpacing its state-run peers VietinBank, Vietcombank, and Agribank. The deal has also improved BIDV’s balance sheet and previously weak capital adequacy, and allows it to meet Basel II minimum capital requirements, which should support credit growth going forward.

However, it is still too soon to say if BIDV has the Midas touch, as the current economic climate is becoming increasingly uncertain.

The SBV has set the loan growth target for the banking sector at 14 per cent – the same as in 2019. The domestic banking sector recorded credit growth of 13.5 per cent on-year in 2019, dropping to a five-year low.

According to experts at Yuanta Securities, the valuation of BIDV’s stocks remains sky-high, potentially rendering it unattractive to both local and foreign investors.

“These stocks are expensive compared to the sector’s median valuation,” noted Yuanta research analyst Tanh Tran. “Last year’s catalyst – the KEB Hana Bank deal – is history and enough is enough. BIDV’s shares have become overvalued and we can no longer justify a positive recommendation,” said Tran.

As economic growth plateaus out, investors are becoming more selective about where they put their money. They have understandably turned from bank stocks, partially due to SBV’s announcement that credit growth for the first two months of the year stood at a meagre 0.1 per cent on-year as a result of the widespread outbreak.

Nguyen Thi Thuy Linh, analyst at SSI Securities, said, “BIDV will likely witness a 15 per cent decline this year due to a pessimistic outlook resulting from the COVD-19 pandemic.”

Back in 2015, BIDV acquired distressed local lender Mekong Housing Bank (MHB). Consequently, the deal took BIDV more time than expected to facilitate loan resolutions and preserve financial stability.

Another issue of concern is that BIDV’s shares enjoyed a significant rise of 28.4 per cent since last November, which also spurred short-term traders to sell stocks to generate cash profits. This movement would bring about hefty trading costs and unpredictable risks due to the volatile nature of the field.

The global COVID-19 pandemic, at its worst, presents downside risk for all banks in terms of net interest margin, loan growth, and credit quality as domestic lenders like BIDV provide extra support for cash-strapped businesses.

Overseas, lower rates from other central banks and a collapse in oil prices are keeping investors away from the finance and banking sector and Vietnam is not the exception, as lower interest rates limit what banks can earn on loans.

HCM City’s agricultural production value up 4.3 percent in Q1

Ho Chi Minh City’s agricultural production value in the first three months of 2020 increased by 4.3 percent year-on-year, according to the municipal Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

This is a positive sign amid complicated developments of the acute respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19), as the city’s agricultural sector is exerting efforts to ensure the supply of essential food for locals.

The national target programme on new-style rural area building in the city has entered a new and advanced phase.

By mid-March, each commune in the city met an average of 18.9 out of 19 advanced criteria, up 2.5 criteria compared with that of the same period last year. Up to 52 communes, or 92.9 percent, have completed all 19 criteria.

Meanwhile, each district met an average of 7.8 out of 9 advanced criteria, up 2 criteria against the same period last year./.

Central Vietnam seeks solutions for large-scale projects across sectors

Local authorities in the central provinces are doing their utmost to break impasses as a raft of projects in the region are behind schedule or in danger of having their plans crossed due to diverse problems of land clearance and investment resources.

About 10 major projects are currently facing impediments in land procedures in Quang Nam province. Among these, BRG Group’s five major projects on commerce, services, resorts, entertainment, and sports with a total area of over 369 hectares are stuck.

Meanwhile, the PPC An Thinh international resort complex of Nam Hoi An International JSC, valued at VND4.3 trillion ($187 million), and the East Quang Nam high-tech agricultural park of privately-held T&T Group, valued at VND3.3 trillion ($143.48 million), are confronted with similar issues.

Le Tri Thanh, Chairman of Quang Nam People’s Committee, directed departments and localities to co-ordinate with businesses to solve issues, calling on people to shortly hand over ground for project implementation.

According to Thanh, in addition to building a comprehensive transport and infrastructure system, the committee has also built resettlement areas, besides ensuring the rights of people in the project sites. “When the projects are finished, they will have great impacts on local economic development, job creation, revenue generation, and social income, making positive contributions to restructuring the service sector in Quang Nam,” said Thanh.

According to Huynh Lien Phuong, deputy director of Danang Investment Promotion Agency, the city is focusing on attracting investors and creating favourable conditions for them to expedite large-scale projects such as high-rise apartment complexes, commercial and financial centres, and entertainment and casino venues.

In particular, the project on building a financial centre along Vo Van Kiet street in the central city with many attached areas such as a commercial centre, an office space, and a hotel is expected to attract many international financial institutions.

Phuong said that the agency is co-ordinating with relevant agencies to accelerate preparations for the Spring Conference 2020 with Danang’s leaders and the community of domestic and foreign investors, aiming at luring in 22 projects with the total investment of $1.7 billion.

Huynh Duc Tho, Chairman of Danang People’s Committee, said that a large number of projects is getting stuck in the legal setup with problems related to land violations and overlaps, as well as inadequacies between relevant laws on investment procedures, land, construction, real estate business, and the environment. These problems greatly affect the economic growth of the city.

“These bottlenecks, if removed, will create better growth momentum for the city this year. Therefore, the management will do its utmost to provide appropriate solutions. If necessary, we will ask higher authorities to remove difficulties, as well as create an open investment environment not only for Danang but also for other localities facing similar difficulties,” he stressed.

Nguyen Bay, director of the Investment Promotion Centre under Binh Dinh Department of Planning and Investment, said that in 2019, the province attracted six foreign-invested projects, with the total investment capital of over $80 million.

The most eminent projects relate to building the QNY Solar Power Plant valued at nearly $70 million by QN Energy from South Korea and the $5-million high-tech pork farms of New Hope Breeding Ltd.

Bay, however, said that the province has not succeeded in luring in sizeable foreign-invested projects that employ modern technology and act as trendsetters to promote the engagement of other projects.

Unsettled traffic congestion, lack of connectivity between regions and the high cost of freight and land lease, taking place through bidding with a series of procedures, have caused numerous difficulties for foreign investment and domestic projects.

According to Bay, Binh Dinh will come up with diverse solutions to build a transparent financial mechanism to promote investment socialisation, thereby creating favourable conditions to facilitate projects by domestic and foreign investors.

Meanwhile, many large projects in Phu Yen province are temporarily suspended in order to review investment procedures and solve problems related to land procedures. In particular, the Phoenix Garden urban area project across 77 hectares by IRB Holdings has been revived after relevant authorities promised to create the most favourable conditions for its implementation. Additionally, with guidance from Phu Yen People’s Committee, Phu Yen Economic Zone Management Board organised a meeting to soon have the project off the drawing board.

SCIC sells out stakes at civil engineering construction firm

The State Capital Investment Corporation (SCIC) has sold out its 17.56 million shares at the Civil Engineering Construction Corporation No. 5 (CIENCO 5), gaining over 342 billion VND (14.5 million USD).

The shares, equivalent to 40 percent of CIENCO 5’s charter capital, were auctioned at the starting price of 19,300 VND each at the Hanoi Stock Exchange (HNX).

All were sold to an organisation investor at 19,500 VND per share on average.

CIENCO 5, a State-owned firm in the transport sector, builds transport, irrigation and hydropower facilities; invests in urban and industrial areas; and gives consulting and designing services regarding transport, civil and industrial facilities./

Businesses seek measures to cope with COVID-19

Local enterprises have sought ways to cope with the novel coronavirus-caused acute respiratory disease (COVID-19) instead of suspending business or scaling back.

Ho Quynh Hung, chairman of the director board and general director of the Dien Quang Lamp Joint Stock Company, said besides finding new suppliers of input materials at home and abroad, the company has boosted production of LED chips, an important raw material of LED lamps.

 

Dien Quang’s high-tech factory producing LED chips was put into operation in 2019 to help it reduce its dependence on imported raw materials.

In addition, to keep its operation at a normal level, the company has permitted office staff section to work from home and hold online meetings. It has also shipped goods to customers' home.

A representative of PV GAS said the corporation has used online meetings and working from home to reduce impacts on production and business activities.

Nguyen Anh Duc, permanent deputy general director of Saigon Co.op, said to meet the shopping needs of customers during the pandemic, Saigon Co.op has strengthened its telephone order and home delivery services.

Businesses and retailers in HCM City have moved towards online shopping to help customers avoid crowded places and reduce the risk of spreading the disease.

They have also updated information about their products, payment methods and home delivery services on their website and social networks.

Meanwhile, Dang Trong Ngon, chairman of the KTG Group’s director board, said the pandemic had greatly impacted economic development so the group has developed new property products for enterprises to maintain production and business. The new industrial real estate product would provide infrastructure with many utilities for investors and industrial enterprises.

This product is a combination of factories and ready-built warehouses with the application of information technology in managing and operating production and business activities. That would help enterprises gain efficiency in operation, environmental protection and sustainable development, he said./.

Can Tho targets 450 million USD in FDI in 2021-2030

The Mekong Delta city of Can Tho expects to attract 450 million USD in foreign direct investment (FDI) in the 2021-2030 period, according to a plan recently approved by the municipal People’s Committee.

In 2021-2025, Can Tho targets 200 million USD of FDI, of which 150 million USD will be disbursed. In 2026-2030, the city aims to draw 250 million USD with 200 million USD disbursed.

To support domestic and foreign investors, municipal leaders have announced that priority is being given to calling for investment in high-tech agriculture, agriculture processing, preservation, logistics, culture and tourism, tourism infrastructure, transport infrastructure, resort and urban infrastructure, housing, and commercial centres.

Over the years, Can Tho has invested a great deal in infrastructure, especially transport infrastructure, better meeting the needs of socio-economic development and attracting investment to the city and the whole Mekong Delta region.

In 2019, the city organised many missions to promote domestic and foreign investment cooperation, focusing on markets suitable to local investment attraction needs, such as Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, the Czech Republic and Russia.

By the end of February, Can Tho was home to 85 foreign-invested projects, worth 721 million USD, ranking 42nd among 63 provinces and cities nationwide, according to the Foreign Investment Agency under the Ministry of Planning and Investment.

In 2019 alone, the city lured nearly 70 million USD in FDI./.

Can Tho moves to enhance efficiency of vital hi-tech urban agricultural models

The People’s Committee of the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho has launched a project to enhance the efficiency of hi-tech urban agricultural models in and near urban areas in the 2020-23 period, aiming to develop at least nine models.

Under the project, the city will focus on models that cultivate flowers, ornamental plants, vegetables and fruits, and those that raise ornamental fish.

The models use advanced farming techniques, organic fertiliser and efficient irrigation systems.

The project will be implemented mostly in Ninh Kieu and Cai Rang districts.

In Cai Rang, hi-tech urban agricultural models for vegetables and flowers have been implemented on a total of 3,000sq.m in net houses. The net houses use safe farming standards and drip irrigation systems.

The city targets establishing at least one new hi-tech agricultural co-operative in each ward and commune where the project is implemented.

Agricultural co-operatives will produce products under Vietnamese and global good agricultural practices (VietGAP and Global GAP) standards. The city will help them achieve certificates for the standards.

The agricultural co-operatives will be given assistance to introduce their produce to supermarkets, wholesale markets and collective kitchens.

Nguyen Ngoc He, Director of the city’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said the city will promote the application of advanced farming techniques to develop sustainable urban agriculture, especially organic farming models.

Organic farming models do not require a large space and do not cause pollution. They regenerate natural resources and urban waste, he said.

The models also increase green space and have potential for tourism development.

High-tech urban agriculture has been developed in and around Can Tho’s urban areas in recent years, providing high profits for farmers with small farming areas./.

Bình Thuận develops concentrated cultivation areas for key crops

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Besides the VietGAP quality dragon fruit areas, the province is developing the cultivation of dragon fruit with advanced techniques, including growing dragon fruit vines on trellises, mostly in Hàm Thuận Nam, Hàm Thuận Bắc and Bắc Bình districts.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cần Thơ promotes sustainable urban agricultural models

The Cần Thơ City People’s Committee has launched a project to enhance the efficiency of high-tech urban agricultural models in and near urban areas in the 2020-23 period, aiming to develop at least nine models.

Under the project, the city will focus on models that cultivate flowers, ornamental plants, vegetables and fruits, and those that raise ornamental fish.

The models use advanced farming techniques, organic fertiliser and efficient irrigation systems.

The project will be implemented mostly in Ninh Kiều and Cái Răng districts.

In Cái Răng, high-tech urban agricultural models for vegetables and flowers have been implemented on a total of 3,000sq.m in net houses. The net houses use safe farming standards and drip irrigation systems.

The city targets establishing at least one new hi-tech agricultural co-operative in each ward and commune where the project is implemented.

Agricultural co-operatives will produce products under Vietnamese and global good agricultural practices (VietGAP and Global GAP) standards. The city will help them achieve certificates for the standards.

The agricultural co-operatives will be given assistance to introduce their produce to supermarkets, wholesale markets and collective kitchens.

Nguyễn Ngọc Hè, director of the city’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said the city will promote the application of advanced farming techniques to develop sustainable urban agriculture, especially organic farming models.

Organic farming models do not require a large space and do not cause pollution. They regenerate natural resources and urban waste, he said.

The models also increase green space and have potential for tourism development.

High-tech urban agriculture has been developed in and around Cần Thơ’s urban areas in recent years, providing high profits for farmers with small farming areas.

In Thốt Nốt District’s Thốt Nốt Ward, for instance, many farmers have had high profits from urban agriculture.

Nguyễn Văn Đa in Thốt Nốt Ward is growing Linh Sam (Desmodium unifoliatum) bonsai trees and selling at least 15 – 20 trees a month.

In months with high demand, such as festivals, the number of sold bonsai trees is even higher.

“I earn an average profit of VNĐ20 – 30 million (US$860 – 1,300) a month,” he said.

Many farmers in the ward have switched from rice to high-value crops likes flowers and mushrooms, which has been effective, according to the Thốt Nốt Ward Farmers Association.

Từ Hòa Khải, chairman of the association, said farmers need training courses on proper farming techniques.

“The techniques will help farmers reduce production costs and increase yield,” he said.

Chung Khánh Linh, deputy chairman of the Thốt Nốt Ward People’s Committee, said the ward will expand urban farming models for oyster mushrooms, flowers and ornamental plants in net houses this year.

The ward will also focus on the cultivation of flowers and ornamental plants on a designated road to create a tourism destination, he said.

Businesses to eye markets recovering from COVID-19

The Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) has asked businesses to focus on increasing exports to markets that are recovering from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic, such as China and the Republic of Korea.

The Asia-Africa Market Department under the MoIT affirmed this stance due to local businesses facing hurdles when looking to export goods to either the EU or the US, while their export activities to markets such as Japan, the Republic of Korea, and other ASEAN countries remain unchanged.

The department explained that despite being hit hard by a recent outbreak of the COVID-19 epidemic, the Republic of Korea has not sealed its border or reduced the number of incoming flights, whilst simultaneously maintaining maritime trade activities as usual.

This trend of recovery can also be seen in China where production operations have resumed at workshops in recent days.

Businesses should make full use of this positive trend to increase exports and make up losses from markets in standstill, said the department.

To achieve the target, MoIT Minister Tran Tuan Anh asked the Asia-Africa Market Department to conduct an in-depth study into these markets, speed up the opening of the markets and seek new partners to facilitate the export of Vietnamese goods.

Minister Anh pointed out that there will be plenty of opportunities for the export of domestic items as the world moves past the epidemic. Therefore, he said, businesses will be able to seize these chances to expand markets and increase their overall market share.

This is also the chance for the processing sector to restructure themselves, especially for farm produce which is one of Vietnam’s key exports, said Anh.

He revealed that the MoIT leadership will soon work with businesses and craft associations to remove their hurdles.

CPTPP eases pathway for Vietnamese exports to Canada, Mexico

Following the signing of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), Vietnamese firms are keen to utilise the trade pact to make inroads into Canada and Mexico, two members who had yet to sign a bilateral trade agreement with Vietnam.

Luong Hoang Thai, Director of the Multilateral Trade Policy Department of the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT), says during the CPTPP implementation period Vietnamese businesses used the agreement for their own advantage in ways better than had previously been forecast.

Indeed, 2019 saw the country’s exports to CPTPP members grow, despite the pact being in effect for less than a full year, Thai says, adding that exports to Canada and Mexico alone represented increases of 26% and 29%, respectively.

This positive trend was maintained in the first two months of this year as Vietnamese firms continue to take advantage of the CPTPP as a means of increasing exports.

During the reviewed period, the country successfully shipped US$578 million worth of goods to Canada, an annual increase of 20.39%.

With a market of 37 consumers and an urbanisation rate of 80%, the North American nation is one of the potential markets where Vietnamese businesses can export a greater quantity of garments and textiles, footwear, seafood, tea, peppers, cashew, coffee, and wood products.

MoIT statistics show businesses exported more than US$100 million worth of garments and textiles to Canada between January-February, 2020, a rise of 5.86% on-year.

In terms of value, phones and their spare parts topped the list of export items, raking in US$122.09 million, a sharp leap of 104.22% compared to last year’s figure.

Export items posting the highest growth were steel/iron and raw plastic materials, making jumps of 153.69% and 354.06% over last year’s corresponding period.

Throughout January and February, Vietnam shipped US$497.2 million worth of goods to Mexico, led by electronics products and spare parts at US$133.6 million.

The value of phones and their spare parts was estimated at US$122.6 million, with footwear at US$47.5 million and garments at US$16.3 million.

Over 5.2 million USD donated to aid COVID-19 fight in one day

Donations for the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) relief efforts received by the Vietnam Fatherland Font (VFF) Central Committee exceeded 125 billion VND (5.27 million USD) on March 24 alone, according to VFF President Tran Thanh Man.

The largest contributors included VinGroup which donated 100 billion VND for purchases of medical equipment and supplies for COVID-19 containment effort; Toyota Vietnam with 10 billion VND; Vietnam Social Security (VSS) with 2 billion VND; and Hung Tuy furniture showroom with 1.5 billion VND.

At this time of hardship, these acts of kindness will contribute to the Party, military and people’s efforts to defeat the pandemic, Man said at the ceremony held in Hanoi for the reception of the donations on March 24.

He expressed his gratitude for the contributions, saying support from organizations and individuals both at home and overseas play a crucial part in Vietnam’s efforts to contain the spread of the virus.

He also expected the business community to continue donating resources to the COVID-19 prevention and control in response to the VFF Central Committee’s call.

Representatives of the donors thanked the VFF Central Committee for acting as a bridge between organizations and businesses across the nation for the concerted effort, noting they hope the donations will give extra motivation to people who are on the frontline in the battle against the pandemic.

They also hoped that businesses in Vietnam will soon overcome their difficulties and resume operations so life can return to normal./.

Support for citizens stuck at Thailand, Singapore airports due to COVID-19

About 100 Vietnamese citizens, who had been stranded while making a transit in international airports of Thailand and Singapore due to these countries’ COVID-19-related movement control orders, were supported to come back home on March 24.

Right after grasping the citizens’ situation, the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs directed Vietnam’s representative diplomatic offices in Thailand and Singapore to contact with the citizens for further information and work with local relevant offices and airlines to seek suitable flights.

The Vietnamese offices patiently discussed with representatives from Thai Airways and Singapore Airlines to bring the citizens back home on the day.

Amid complicated development of the COVID-19 outbreak worldwide, many countries and territories have restricted or closed international routes, and refused passengers' transit, while many airlines have stopped carrying passengers, cancelled flights and changed regulations on freight transportation.

To ensure the safety and health of citizens and to avoid difficulties in travel, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs recommended Vietnamese citizens avoid non-essential travel between countries and returning to Vietnam at this time, comply with the host countries' pandemic countermeasures, regularly update regulations of the host countries and airlines, and sufficient documents, especially those on health status, as required.

To get support, citizens are advised to contact citizen protection hotlines posted on official websites of overseas Vietnamese representative offices and the Foreign Ministry’s Consular Department, or the department’s citizen protection call centre 84.981.84.84.84./.

 
 

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