BUSINESS NEWS HEADLINES MARCH 27

Dong Nai to speed up site clearance for Long Thanh airport project

BUSINESS NEWS HEADLINES MARCH 27

Dong Nai province’s authorities plan to speed up capital disbursement, as well as site clearance, compensation and resettlement for affected households, so that construction of Long Thanh International Airport can begin this year.

According to the provincial People’s Committee, in the 2018-2019 period, the central government allocated 11.49 trillion VND (490 million USD) to the province to implement the project.

The province had disbursed 1.17 trillion VND (50.1 million USD) as of January, accounting for 10.24 percent of the estimate. The province said it would accelerate the disbursement of the remaining capital by the end of this year.

Dong Nai authorities have asked the Prime Minister for permission to start bomb and mine clearance in the area to expedite progress of the project.

Speaking at a recent meeting with Dong Nai authorities, Deputy Minister of Transport Le Anh Tuan said the site must be available no later than August so that the first construction phase can begin this year. Opening is expected by 2025.

The province said it had already paid compensation to Dong Nai Rubber Corporation to build two household resettlement areas in Loc An and Binh Son communes in Long Thanh district.

The corporation has begun cutting rubber trees to hand over a clean site, according to the provincial People’s Committee.

The Long Thanh International Airport is a key national project that will have a significant impact on the southern key economic region as well as Dong Nai province, according to Tuan.

He suggested that the Ministry of Transport closely work with Dong Nai province to promptly solve problems to ensure that the project remains on schedule.

To build the airport, site clearance is needed for more than 5,000 hectares of land and more than 364 additional hectares to build two resettlement sites, including Loc An – Binh Son covering 282ha and Binh Son with more than 81ha.

As a result, some 4,800 local households and 26 organisations are expected to be relocated. Some 70 percent of the 15,500 affected people are farmers, and the rest are rubber plantation workers and workers in other sectors.

The feasibility study for the airport project has been approved by the Government.

Once fully operational, Long Thanh airport will reduce the load on Tan Son Nhat International Airport in HCM City.

The Long Thanh International Airport is expected to handle 100 million passengers and five million tonnes of freight each year.

Covering a total area of more than 5,580 hectares, the airport will be located in six communes in Long Thanh district in Dong Nai province.

The airport’s total investment is 336.63 trillion VND (14.35 billion USD), with construction divided into three phases.

In the first phase, a runway and one passenger terminal along with other support works will be built to serve 25 million passengers and 1.2 million tonnes of cargo each year.

The first phase is expected to be completed by 2025./.

EVFTA: “expressway” for Vietnam to access European market

The European Union – Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) is like an “expressway” connecting Vietnam and Europe that will speed up trade and investment cooperation between the two sides, said experts.

At a seminar hosted by the Government portal on March 23 in Hanoi, experts said that the agreement will expand exports of Vietnamese goods to Europe, while welcoming high-quality goods and investments from the market.

Nguyen Thi Thu Trang, Director of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI)'s WTO and Integration Centre, described the EVFTA as an almost “barrier-free” expressway which will help Vietnamese goods reach their destination faster than other competitors.

However, Vietnamese enterprises need to prepare well by promoting the application of technology in production to improve the quality and competitiveness of their products, she noted.

She said the agreement offers great opportunities and benefits to Vietnamese businesses that import machinery and electronic equipment.

For Vietnam, it is necessary to quickly issue relevant legal documents to inform local firms clearly about the procedures and regulations related export to and import from the European market.

Management agencies need to have “quick response" divisions so if any problem arises, they can be resolved swiftly, Trang said.

Luong Hoang Thai, director of the Multilateral Trade Policy Department under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, advised Vietnamese enterprises to pay special attention to technical and food safety requirements in the EU, saying that if they meet the standards, they will enjoy preferences from the market.

Vietnamese firms should learn from those familiar with the EU market, thus better meeting its requirements, Thai said.

The EVFTA was signed on June 30 last year and was ratified on February 12 this year by the European Parliament. Specialists and companies expect the deal will be approved by Vietnam’s National Assembly deputies in May 2020 so that it officially takes effect.

If approved, Vietnamese companies will be able to tap a huge market with a population of 508 million and a total GDP of about 19 trillion USD./.

New 40 agricultural firms set up in HCM City in three months

As many as 40 new agro-forestry-fishery firms were established in Ho Chi Minh City in the first three months of 2020, despite the impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak, revealed the municipal Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The latest addition has brought the number of businesses operating in the field to 1,722.

HCM City’s agricultural production value in the first quarter increased 4.3 percent year-on-year, according to the department.

This is a positive sign amid the complicated developments of COVID-19, as the local agricultural sector is exerting efforts to ensure supplies of essential food for locals.

In the reviewed period, HCM City-based firms exported about 490 tonnes of seeds, along with 10,000 honeysuckle trees.

They also shipped 5.21 million ornamental fish abroad, earning 6.1 million USD.

Approximately 21.8 tonnes of vegetables with origin-tracing stamps are produced per day, accounting for 53.1 percent of the city’s total output.

The combined cultivation area meeting VietGAP standard is 11,313ha, or 60 percent of the city’s vegetable farms./.

2020 Startup Wheel contest begins

The annual Startup Wheel contest was launched in Viet Nam and other countries by the Business Startup Support Centre.

The contest is open to both local and international start-ups of all ages.

The deadline for submitting entries is April 25 while the final round and awards ceremony will be held in August.

In addition to prizes worth a total of VND10 billion (US$422,000) in cash and support services such as co-working space and legal advice, start-ups will also have the chance to get loans at low interest rates from the Start-up Fund of up to VND600 million ($25,334).

Start-up founders have the chance of attending intensive training courses in running start-up businesses and having their projects publicised in the media.

According to the organisers, they will introduce promising projects to angel investors, venture capital funds and other investors.

According to the BSSC, more than 90 per cent of start-up projects fail after three years due to failure to meet market demand and lack of suitable co-founders or advisors and human resources.

The 2020 Startup Wheel is expected to be the ideal “laboratory" for start-ups to fix those problems, it said.

The Startup Day, the last stage of the Startup Wheel, is expected to attract more than 15,000 entrepreneurs and investors.

Start-up entrepreneurs have the opportunity to directly approach potential customers to test their products or services and get feedback from them before commercialising their products and services.

Launched in 2013 in HCM City, the contest has so far attracted over 5,000 contestants.

Ha Noi outlines four scenarios for goods supply during pandemic

The Ha Noi Department of Industry and Trade has planned four scenarios to ensure sufficient supply of goods for people in quarantine zones amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

Nguyen Duc Chung, Chairman of Ha Noi People's Committee, worked with Ha Noi Department of Industry and Trade and businesses to prepare goods to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic in the capital city.

Accordingly, in the first scenario, which covers one isolation area in a district with the number of residents in concentrated quarantine totalling ​​200 to 2,350 for 14 days, the trade of goods will remain as normal.

In the second scenario, in which there are many isolation areas in one district, with the number of people in the quarantine area of between ​​1,000 and 12,750 for 14 days. Shopping activities will also remain as normal.

The third scenario occurs when there are more than 20 infected cases and quarantine areas in many districts. The number of people quarantined will total between 2,000 and 127,500.

Goods must be constantly regulated throughout the day in the city’s distribution systems.

The fourth scenario is more than 1,000 people infected with the virus and all 30 districts hosting quarantined areas.

The number of residents in quarantine is between 30,000 and 382,500 for 14 days. Some enterprises' production and business activities might have to temporarily cease.

In this case, demand for goods will increase sharply over a number of days, while storage in the city might be exhausted.

The city will need to mobilise goods from neighbouring provinces and cities.

The department has directed suppliers and manufacturers to ensure goods for distribution systems and the needs of residents.

Supermarkets such as Big C, Hapro, Intimex, Seika Mart and many others have increased the number of reserve goods by 300-500 per cent for essential supplies.

Viet Nam’s tuna exports to US, Europe forecast to rise as people stock up amid pandemic

The outbreak of COVID-19 is causing EU and the US to stock up on canned tuna, and this is likely to increase demand from Viet Nam this year, the Viet Nam Association Seafood Exporters and Producers has said.

VASEP forecast tuna exports to increase by around 15 per cent this year from more than US$719 million last year.

Exports to the US were worth $316 million, up nearly 38 per cent from 2018.

Demand for tuna is rising in the US, especially for canned products, leading to an increase in the country's imports in recent years.

Besides, after the US-China trade war began, importers in the country have been looking for alternative sources of supply, including Viet Nam. Last year Viet Nam remained the second largest tuna supplier to the US after Thailand.

But Viet Nam's tuna exports to the EU fell 11 per cent to $140 million due to the bloc’s yellow card.

Law case illustrating need for new thinking

The prolonged legal battle between Vinasun and Grab came to an end last week when the Supreme People’s Procuracy in Ho Chi Minh City ruled that the ride-hailing firm has to pay a hefty fine in compensation to the taxi operator.

Nguyen Thai Hai Van, CEO of Grab Vietnam said, “Today is a sad day for technology and innovation in Vietnam. We are saddened that the panel has agreed to the first judgment, despite the strong arguments by Grab. The People’s Procuracy and the Supreme People’s Procuracy in Ho Chi Minh City have confirmed that there is no evidence proving that the damage claimed by Vinasun was caused by Grab’s business activities.”

As previously reported by VIR, Vinasun filed a lawsuit against Grab in 2017, claiming that the latter’s illegal activities were causing more than half of the VND76 billion ($3.25 million) losses it had suffered in 2016 and the first half of 2017.

At last week’s hearing, the court dismissed the previous appeals of both companies and upheld the first-instance judgment from December. The court stated that Vinasun’s loss of earnings were partially due to Grab’s operations in Vietnam. Thus, Grab has to pay VND4.8 billion ($208,000) in damages incurred from idle vehicles to Vinasun.

According to the court, the slump in Vinasun’s earnings was attributable to several factors such as management, service quality, and changing customer demand. Therefore, the appellate adjudication panel did not accept Vinasun’s claim in full.

Commenting on the ruling, Truong Dinh Quy, deputy director-general of Vinasun said, “The court did not accept our appeal, in which we seek VND42 billion ($1.8 million) in compensation. However, we are very happy with the results of the appellate adjudication as it reflects Grab’s illegal activities and the damage it has caused.”

Meanwhile, Nguyen Thai Hai Van commented, “Notwithstanding the decision, we will continue to strongly protect our brand and reputation against the baseless allegations that were made by Vinasun against us at court. With this in mind, we will seek recourse to ensure our right to a fair trial and that due process is served.”

According to industry insiders, the unprecedented case between the two firms reflects the mindset of Vietnam’s judicial system towards new business trends and innovation, and a legal fight between the new and the old, and between short-sighted protectionism and competition.

However, the battle between traditional taxi companies and platforms such as Grab is not unique to Vietnam. Many other countries, including the US where the model was developed first through Uber, had to resolve this legislation ambiguity.

The major question in these battles is how to ensure that traditional taxi companies can still maintain a decent level of activity while allowing other companies to innovate in order to offer better value for money to consumers.

In an effort to regulate ride-hailing firms, Vietnam has officially legalised ride-hailing businesses, after a four-year pilot programme. Decree No.10/2020/ND-CP, which will come into force on April 1, stipulates that technology-based ride-sharing companies have to attach a contract car sign on their partners’ vehicles.

Meanwhile, taxi operators are granted the option of either installing lightboxes or using taxi decals on the windshield.

The Vinasun-Grab case highlights the challenge behind disruptive businesses that are using technology and follow a completely new economic model which does not typically fit into the legislative framework, according to Julien Brun, managing partner of CEL Consulting.

Whether the framework should evolve or companies should try to fit in what has been defined in the past remains open. Politically, it is about the balance between the favouring innovation and ensuring compliance.

Brun added that new competition also requires taxi companies to innovate in order to remain attractive. However, fair competition also requires clear rules, and the issue here is whether these companies are comparable and whether they should follow the same rules.

“Whether these fair competition rules are clear enough is the main question. If they are not clear enough, then penalising a company for not following unclear rules will set a precedent that could impede the trust and confidence of companies and their chance of being successful in the Vietnamese market,” he noted.

“The outcome of this trial is interesting to observe and, whether Grab deserves to be penalised or not, the message it will convey is the most important part. Regardless of the business model, the rules need to be respected, provided that they are clear,” Brun added.

Higher deficit inevitable in virus fight

The government is standing ready to experience a higher-than-expected budget deficit resulting from its huge credit package used for helping enterprises hit by the COVID-19 outbreak to bounce back.

A senior economist from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in Vietnam told VIR that it was a sensible move for the Vietnamese government to launch a VND250 trillion ($10.7 billion) programme to assist people and businesses currently bogged down in woes caused by the COVID-19, which has been declared by the World Health Organization a global pandemic.

“However, the use of such a gigantic sum of money from the state budget will lead to a high budget deficit, and the government is ready to accept this,” he said. “We are working with relevant ministries and agencies in Vietnam [about the issue]. Under our calculations, this credit package may increase Vietnam’s budget deficit to 3.8 per cent of GDP.”

This level is also higher than the 3.44 per cent of GDP earlier set by the National Assembly (NA) for this year.

According to the government, the country is prepared to sacrifice some economic benefits, including accepting a higher-than-expected budget deficit, in order to protect people’s health and boost domestic production, which is the key pillar for economic growth.

It is expected that the ADB will revise up its forecast for Vietnam’s budget deficit from its initial 3.4 per cent of GDP to 3.8 per cent over the next few weeks.

If this new forecast manifests itself, it would be the highest fiscal deficit level over the past four years, with 3.4 per cent of GDP in 2019, 3.6 per cent in 2018, and 2.3 per cent in 2017.

A few days ago Fitch Solutions, a subsidiary of credit rating firm Fitch Group – one of the world’s three largest rating firms – also revised up Vietnam’s fiscal deficit to 3.8 per cent of GDP from 3.4 per cent, after the government announced the stimulus package to help businesses tide over during the epidemic crisis.

Fitch Solutions also revised its forecast on government spending growth from 7.4 to 8.1 per cent of GDP, as it expects more expenditure on industries hard hit by the COVID-19 such as tourism, transport, electronics, and agriculture.

The agency lowered Vietnam’s revenue collection growth forecast from 4.1 to 3.2 per cent of GDP, as corporate profits could face pressure amid the epidemic. Tax breaks will also contribute to slower growth in government’s income.

Vietnam’s GDP size last year was about $250 billion. If the economy grows 6 per cent this year, its size will be $265 billion, meaning that the fiscal deficit will be $10.07 billion – based on the assumption that the budget deficit will be 3.8 per cent of GDP. If the economy grows stronger, the deficit will be higher as a matter of fact.

Late last year the NA set a target of 6.8 per cent economic growth for this year. However, while the virus outbreak is taking a heavy toll on the economy now, the government has ordered that the economic growth goal set by the NA must be achieved at all costs.

The NA last November adopted a resolution on state budget for 2020, with total state budget revenue of over VND1.51 quadrillion ($65.65 billion), and total state budget expenditure of nearly VND1.75 quadrillion ($76 billion).

The total budget deficit would be VND234.8 trillion ($10.35 billion), tantamount to 3.44 per cent of GDP.

On March 6, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc signed and promulgated Directive No.11/CT-TTg with seven major solutions to coping with difficulties faced by producers and businesses amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Notably, PM Phuc ordered the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) to implement a credit package worth VND250 trillion ($10.7 billion) offered to those and enterprises whose production and business activities are affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.

He requested the SBV to direct credit institutions to promptly and adequately meet capital demand for production and business, streamline the loan approval process, reschedule loans, waive and lower lending rates, and reduce service fees for enterprises affected by the virus.

According to the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI), to disburse the new credit package, it is necessary to thoroughly calculate all available financial and technical resources, and determine who will need support.

“For example, many farmers producing agricultural items such as dragon fruit and watermelon are suffering from the epidemic as they cannot export their products,” said MPI Deputy Minister Tran Quoc Phuong, adding that there will also be other solutions such as speeding up the disbursement of public investment.

“Localities need to soon complete all necessary procedures for projects to become operational, helping spur economic growth.”

Tiki falling behind e-commerce competition

 

In the fourth quarter of 2019, Tiki slipped to the fourth position among Vietnamese e-commerce platforms, behind Lazada, Sendo, and Shopee from the second place last year.

According to iPrice Group, a privately-owned online shopping aggregator based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Shopee is the e-commerce platform with the highest traffic in Vietnam. Its traffic rose by 10 per cent to 38 million visitors compared to the previous quarter, recording the first increase after three quarters of decrease.

Sendo reported some signs of slowdown with a 12 per cent drop to 27.2 million visitors. This e-commerce platform still ranked second, tailed closely by Lazada.

In the last quarter of 2019, Lazada reported 27 million visitors, which is the first quarterly increase after three consecutive quarters of decline.

The worst performance in the fourth quarter was reported by Tiki. From the second position in the fourth quarter of 2018, Tiki fell to the third position in the third quarter and dropped to the fourth in the last quarter of 2019. Traffic on the platform decreased by 32 per cent compared to the peak period in the fourth quarter of 2018.

In 2019, Tiki raised capital twice, in June and December. Its major shareholders are still VNG (24.6 per cent) and JD.com (21.9 per cent), in addition to smaller investors like Ubiquitous Traders Pte., Ltd. (nearly 9 per cent), CyberAgent, STIC, and Sumitomo. VNG's financial statement reported that the value of the company's investment in Tiki has already evaporated as a result of the aggressive spending strategy to gain market share.

In the middle of February 2020, two e-commerce platforms Sendo and Tiki revealed that they were in negotiations over a merger to become a worthy opponent to Shopee and Lazada.

In addition to e-commerce platforms, the websites of offline shops also recorded good performance. The Gioi Di Dong ranked second in the list with 28 million visits, higher than many e-commerce platforms like Sendo, Lazada, or Tiki, followed by Dien May Xanh, FPT Shop, and Dien May Cho Lon which reported a decrease against the previous quarter.

Regarding the number of smartphone downloads, the four e-commerce platforms Shopee, Tiki, Lazada, and Sendo are also leading the list.

Quang Ngai watermelon growers hit hard by Covid-19

Watermelon farmers in the central province of Quang Ngai are among the hardest-hit due to the suspension of border trade with China.

Tinh Hiep Commune in Son Tinh District is home to 120 hectares of watermelon. This year, local farmers’ Hong Luong variety had a good harvest. At present, around 50 hectares of watermelon in the commune need to be harvested, but few traders are interested. 

Nguyen Thi Tra from Xuan Hoa Village said that her family rented around 2,800 square metres to farm watermelon. This year, the field produced six tonnes of watermelon, but she was unhappy because no one wants to buy the fruit. 

Around one fifth of Tra’s watermelon farm have spoiled while waiting to be purchased. Tra added that the remaining watermelon would be ruined in the next seven days. She could only sell a small number of watermelons at very cheap prices of just VND700-900 per kilo. Many households have just abandoned the watermelon in the fields instead of paying for harvesting and distribution.

Nguyen Thanh Manh from Phu Son Village said he sold one kilo of watermelon at just VND800, so he earned just VND2 million (USD86.95) for every 360 square metres.

Do Xuan Hung, vice chairman of Tinh Hiep Commune, said that authorities called on enterprises and organisations to buy watermelon but this did not help much.

Farmers in other districts in Quang Ngai such as Binh Son and Mo Duc are in the same situation. The provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development reported that in the Spring-Winter crop, around 756 hectares of watermelon would produce 22,000 tonnes.

Over the past years, the majority of Quang Ngai’s watermelon have been exported to China, but now due to Covid-19, exports would be severely affected.

Lao Cai sets sights on boosting medicinal herb sector

The mountainous northern province of Lao Cai hopes to almost double its medicinal herb growing area in the next 10 years, expecting to achieve a yearly output of more than 11,000 tonnes.

Director of the Lao Cai Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Anh Tuan said the province hopes to have about 3,500ha of medicinal herbs by 2030, concentrating on 22 key plants.

The medicinal herb growing areas will be mostly in the districts of Sa Pa, Bac Ha, Bat Xat, Si Ma Cai, Muong Khuong and Van Ban.

By the end of last year, the province had more than 1,800 ha of medicinal herbs, up 21 percent compared to the previous year. Last year, medicinal herb productivity in the province hit nearly 8,300 tonnes. On average, local growers earned 124-240 million VND per hectare, while some earned more than 600 million VND per ha.

Duong quy (female ginseng), xuyen khung (Szechuan lovage), cat canh (balloon flower), tam that (Himalayan ginseng) and artichoke are among key medicinal herbs the province hopes to develop. The authority had offered technical and financial support to boost links between production and consumption of the herbs since last year, Tuan said.

This year, the province will continue shifting corn-growing areas and part of planted forest land to medicinal herbs, Tuan said, adding that the province wants to grow more medicinal herbs under the forest canopy to better protect forest resources and create a livelihood for the community.

The province also wants to boost cooperation among herb growers, companies and research institutes in medicinal herb production and consumption, he said.

The agriculture department has asked districts to identify areas and medicinal herbs to grow as well as pay more attention to developing medicinal herb farms under the forest canopy and apply the WHO’s guidelines on good agricultural and collection practices (GACP-WHO).

The Ministry of Health has so far certified four medicinal herbs of Lao Cai to GACP-WHO standards, including artichoke grown in Sa Pa district, che day (a type of vine native to many Asian countries) in Sa Pa and Bat Xat, Duong quy in Bac Ha district and xuyen khung in Bat Xat.

At least 10 companies, co-operatives and individuals in the province have production-consumption linkages, helping them trade more than 3,000 tonnes of herbs yearly.

The links help form areas that specialise in growing medicinal herbs, boosting the application of advanced technology to increase productivity and product quality.

Lao Cai also plans to develop branding and cataloguing. Growers and traders will be instructed to register barcodes to ensure origin traceability, Tuan said.

Lao Cai wants to promote local medicinal herbs as its typical products, aiming that each commune will have a special product, he said.

Nguyen Tien Hong, deputy head of the Bac Ha district Agriculture sub-department said that this year, 105 ha of land in the district was used to grow medicinal herbs, mostly Duong quy and cat canh.

Local authorities have provided technical and financial assistance for 38ha while the remaining 67ha of medicinal herbs were grown by companies or families, he said.

With favourable weather, soil and proper nursing, Duong quy had done well in the mountainous area, Hong said, adding that the herb helped growers earns as much as 3-4 times more than if they grew corn or rice.

In Lung Phinh – one of eight communes planned to develop medicine herbs growing zone in the district, people could earn 80-200 million VND from 1ha of medicinal herbs.

Many families have escaped poverty and become prosperous thanks to medicinal herbs, Hong said./.

Many companies allow staff to work from home amid worsening Covid-19

Many companies in Vietnam have permitted their staff to work from home to limit the risk of Covid-19 infection.

Tran Thi Nhu Quynh, 26, who works for a communications company in Cau Giay District said that up to 70% of her firm’s staff could work from home, except for technical workers.

The company’s manager made the decision following more Covid-19 cases found in Hanoi.

CEO Corporation has also let all of the firm’s staff to work from home as the company sees less work than usual.

People who still have to go to the workplace every day are required to strictly conform to disease preventive regulations such as wearing mask, being sterlised and undergoing temperature checks.

Since March 15, Tiki has applied work from home policies for thousands of employees. Boards have to hold online meetings and in necessary cases, staff still have to go to the office.

Be Group has followed the suit since March 16. The company allowed its employees to work from home since early February.

Chairman of Hanoi People’s Committee Nguyen Duc Chung urged people to stay at home as much as possible and work from home if they can.

Ministry to announce Vietnamese prestigious exporters of 2019

The Ministry of Industry and Trade will release a list of Vietnamese prestigious exporters of 2019 who made active contributions to boosting the export growth of the country over the past year.

The move aims to introduce Vietnamese firms to foreign investors and partners, thus helping them expand their export markets.

The list has been selected from nominations by ministries, sectors, the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry, industry associations, and departments of industry and trades of cities and provinces.

The nominees must satisfy several standards in terms of export revenue, product quality, reputation among foreign partners, compliance with tax, customs, and environment regulations.

Submissions must be sent to the MoIT’s headquarters at 54 Hai Ba Trung street, Hoan Kiem district in Hanoi no later than April 30, 2020.

In 2019, the country's export turnover reached US$ 264.2 billion, an increase of 8.4% over 2018, exceeding the targets set by the National Assembly and the Government. The results were significantly bolstered by efforts made by the business community to raise competitiveness and diversify their export markets.

Khanh Hoa’s tuna fishermen net high profits

Tuna-fishing boats in the central province of Khanh Hoa are busy with the ongoing season, as a vessel can earn nearly VND100 million (US$4,300) per trip.

On average, a boat using a net can harvest from 5 to 10 tonnes of tuna per trip.

High and stable prices, as well as favourable weather, are the main reasons for an expected bumper tuna season, according to a local fisherman.

The main fishing ground is the Truong Sa (Spratly) Islands and DK1 rigs (about 250-350 nautical miles from the mainland).

Tuna boats using nets are different from ocean fishing vessels.

Vo Khac En, Deputy Director of Khanh Hoa province’s Fisheries Sub-department, said that there are 170 tuna-fishing boats operating regularly in the area.

Unlike ocean tuna-fishing ships, those using nets can be used all year and achieve a stable output.

According to En, at present, the average cost for a 15-day tuna-fishing trip is about VND100 million per boat.

A boat can harvest several tonnes to more than 10 tonnes of tuna per trip. After deducting all expenses, it has an average profit of up to VND100 million.

At Hon Ro fishing port, Phuoc Dong commune, Nha Trang city, boats full of fish are constantly docking after successful fishing trips.

The Management Board of Hon Ro Fishing Port reported there have been about 100 tuna fishing boats docking at the port over the last 10 days. There are 5-7 boats docking at the port per day, with an average output of 5 to 10 tonnes each.

According to fishermen, the current tuna price and purchasing market is stable. The wholesale price ranges from VND30,000-40,000 per kilogram. Price of Grade #1 tuna can reach up to VND50,000 per kilogram.

Fisherman Tran Van Nuoi, captain of a fishing boat in Huong Xuan ward, Nha Trang city, said the current weather is very favourable for tuna-fishing.

Familiar fishing grounds have abundant sources of tuna. Therefore, the tuna-fishing trips last from 10 to 15 days.

“My boat harvested five tonnes of tuna on the last trip. After deducting expenses, I gained profit of VND50-60 million," said Nuoi.

Another fisherman, Tran Van Tuan, in Hon Ro, Phuoc Dong commune, said on the last trip he caught about eight tonnes of tuna, earning more than VND100 million after deducting all expenses.

Tuan said: “Previously, tuna-fishing trips lasted longer than 15 days, with output of 10 to 20 tonnes.”

“But, due to the boats’ poor storage equipment, the tuna was damaged, so the low quality meant low prices.”

Recently, each trip lasted just 7 to 12 days. Although the output was lower, the quality of well-preserved fish means they can be sold at a higher price, Tuan said.

“Previously, fishing boats landed at the same time, regularly from the 7th to the 15th lunar calendar. But, recently, fishermen told each other to dock throughout the month, so output is not overloaded, and prices are better,” a representative of the Hon Ro Fishing Port’s Management Board said.

Algeria a potential market for Vietnamese products

Algeria is a potential market for exports of Vietnamese staples, especially coffee and rice, official statistics show.

Vietnam’s export revenues to Algeria enjoyed a year-on-year increase of 2.1 percent in the first two months of 2020. According to the Trade Office of Vietnam in Algeria, Vietnam may bolster coffee shipments to the Algerian market as it is the most popular drink of local people.

The African country spends 300 million USD on the import of about 130,000 tonnes of coffee beans each year.

Coffee has been among leading export items of Vietnam to Algeria over the years, accounting for the lion’s share of over 50 percent in the Algerian market. Vietnam shipped about 70,000 tonnes of the product to the African nation last year.

Rice also holds huge potential for export in the coming time when the COVID-19 is repelled. Algeria mostly depends on rice imports, buying about 100,000 tonnes of the grain annually. In addition, the country’s import tariffs for the food are lower compared to those of others.

In 2019, Vietnam shipped nearly 17,000 tonnes of rice to Algeria, making up for around 16 percent. The increasing number of Asian workers in Algeria has also prompted a surge in rice demand in the country.

Investment projects eye March openings

Two investment projects worth US$216 million at the Da Nang Hi-Tech Park will be put into operation on the occasion of the city’s Liberation Day on March 29 one year after construction started.

The Hi-Tech Park and Industrial Zones management board said the launch of the two projects would help lure investors in the wake of the negative impacts of COVID-19 in recent months.

Domestic investor Long Hau Corporation will lease its first hi-tech ready-built factories for rent covering 10,000sq.m in the first phase before expanding to more factory space on another 10,000sq.m from September 2020.

The company has committed to developing the first logistics project at the park across three phases with total investment of $46.4 million.

Meanwhile, the Universal Alloy Corporation (UAC) from the US has invested $30 million in the first stage of the Da Nang-based Sunshine Aerospace components manufacturing plant on 10.9ha, and a further $74 million will be poured in from March to April 2021.

It would employ more than 1,000 employees for the first phase.

UAC plans to manufacture over 4,000 different aerospace parts at the Da Nang-based plant to supply Boeing, Airbus, Embraer and Bombardier, and it will export these parts to North America, Europe and Asia.

It’s also the first aerospace parts project of the UAC in Viet Nam and Asia, with total investment of $170 million.

The 1,100ha park in Hoa Vang District, 20km west of the city, has lured 18 investment projects, of which nine are foreign direct investment (FDI) with a total of $564 million.

It is situated near the Da Nang-Quang Ngai Expressway connecting the Chan May Economic Zone in Thua Thien-Hue, the Chu Lai Economic Open Zone in Quang Nam and the Dung Quat Economic Zone in Quang Ngai Province.

MoIT will organise national brand programme in Q4

The Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) will organise a ceremony to recognise national brands in the fourth quarter of 2020.

MoIT said it will co-ordinate with relevant agencies to conduct the 7th national brand programme, Viet Nam Value.

Started in 2003 under the Prime Minister’s decision with the aim to build and develop national brands through helping local businesses, the long term programme targeted to build local commodities and services as well as develop the reputation and competitiveness for Vietnamese businesses in the domestic and international market.

Though the programme is not an award, businesses with brands selected will receive the State’s support to develop their quality products and business prestige in the domestic market and the world market.

Businesses which want to register for the programme can visit the website http://www.vietrade.gov.vn to register for participation.

Doctor says virus-stopping hats don't work

People are rushing to buy special spit-shielding hats that contain a full face clear mask, thinking they will help fight COVID-19.

But one doctor has hit out, saying the hats are of little use preventing the spread of coronavirus.

The hats have been selling like hotcakes, particularly in HCM City, where customers are paying between VND120.000 (US$5)to VND150,000($6) each.

The hats, which are just normal hats with plastic sewn into the front, are can be purchased through a number of shops and online platforms in Ha Noi.

However Truong Huu Khanh, head of Infection Department at HCM City Children's Hospital No 1 told the local media it is wrong to compare these items to similar hats worn by members of the emergency services.

He said: “Those hats with transparent plastic pads are not resistant to viruses, bacteria, and nCoV. The similar-looking hats worn by health staff are made to medical standards.”

Some supermarkets in HCM city claim they are selling up to 20,000 hats each week. Another selling on social media said he is selling 5,000 each day.

Buying two hats for her son and her mother, Nguyen Minh Nguyet, 35, from Ha Dong District told Viet Nam News all she cared about was protecting her family.

“I need to protect my mother,” she said.

“She goes to the market every day and has a habit of talking to the sellers. The hat will at least help her as I cannot stop her from her own habit,” said Nguyet.

"If it cannot protect us from the virus, it will at least prevent the crazy dust in Ha Noi into our faces every day."

 
 

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