BUSINESS NEWS 19/8

Falling tra fish price poses threat to aquatic export target

BUSINESS NEWS 19/8

The price of raw material of Tra fish (pangasius) has been consistently dropping in the past time, hampering the annual target of earning US$10 billion from aquatic exports.

The material price saw a downward side in the Mekong Delta region during recent weeks. Can Tho city has seen the price drop sharply to VND21,500 (US$0.92) per kg, VND2,000-3,000 lower than production costs.

The price drop has been triggered as a result of the negative impacts caused by the United States’ anti-dumping duties. Meanwhile, the tra fish consumption in China, the largest importer of the Vietnamese staple, has been sluggish due to the neighbouring country’s tight import policy and expanding aquaculture area.

According to the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers, the value of overseas tra fish shipments plunged annually by 6 - 17.6 per cent between March and June. Tra fish exports reached US$961.6 million during the first half of this year, down 4.1 per cent on year.

China and Hong Kong (China) topped the list of importers of Vietnamese tra fish products as they accounted for 24.9 per cent of the nation’s total tra fish exports, followed by the EU with a proportion of 15 per cent, and the US with 14.2 per cent.

A number of hurdles exists for realizing the full-year target of gaining US$2.3 billion from tra fish exports, if no drastic measures are taken during the remainder of 2019.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) has required localities to enhance their control of tra fish farming area and seek ways of improving the overall quality of tra fish. Provinces have been asked to build effective tra fish supply chains in order to trace the origin of products as required by importers.

However, US-China trade tensions have witnessed escalating developments, potentially leading to a currency war that could be initiated by the deep depreciation of yuan. This could pose a big threat to tra fish exports to China.

The MARD Directorate of Fisheries has urged provinces to help tra fish firms ease difficulties in implementing new regulations set by China and promptly update market developments in order to make proper adjustments to their business plan.

Linkages between producers and distributors in localities should be intensified as a means of facilitating the clarification of origin of exports.

Bamboo Airways okayed to expand fleet to 30 jets

Budget carrier Bamboo Airways has received permission to operate 30 aircraft by 2023, improving its profit-making chances.

The approval, signed by Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung, allows the private airline to operate narrow-body jets like the Airbus A320 and wide-body jets like the Airbus A350 or Boeing B787.

However, the government did not approve the airline’s proposal to increase its charter capital capital to VND8.3 trillion ($358 million). The carrier’s current capital is VND1.3 trillion ($56 million).

It must mobilize capital according to actual business results and the speed of fleet expansion, the government said.

The Ministry of Finance had said earlier that as of the end of April, three months after its first flight, Bamboo Airways was recording a loss of VND329 billion ($14.2 million).

Chairman Trinh Van Quyet said at a shareholders’ meeting in June that the loss was because the airline had to pay salaries for a team big enough to operate 30 aircraft, while the airline only has 10.

Bamboo Airways has over 300 pilots, of whom 80 percent are foreigners. As only 11-14 pilots are needed to operate 10 aircraft, it has 200 pilots in excess, ready to work when new aircraft are added.

Quyet said that by operating 30 aircraft, the airline could turn a profit by next year’s first quarter.

Bamboo Airways is set to fly its 10,000th flight this month after eight months of operation. It operates 25 domestic and international routes. Its international routes cover Japan, South Korea and China.

It is planning long-distance flights to Germany, Czech, the U.K. and a direct flight to the U.S.

Vietnam targets to have the aviation market grow by 16 percent each year between 2015-2020, and 8 percent a year in 2020-2030.

This means that the country will have 117 million air passengers by 2023, 85 percent of whom will be catered for by Vietnamese carriers, which would need 340 aircraft in total by then.

Last year, local airlines served almost 50 million passengers, up 10.1 percent from 2017.

Vietnam upgrades premium healthcare to attract high-spending patients

Vietnam is planning premium healthcare upgrades to allure high-spending patients who spend billions of US dollars a year on overseas treatment.

The Ministry of Health is drafting a proposal to have the cost of premium hospital rooms in public hospitals go up 37 percent from VND2.5 million ($107) a day to VND4 million ($172).

Since each room has just one patient bed, with an extra bed for a family member and space for welcoming visitors, it is like a premium hotel room, and nurses are on call at all times, said Nguyen Nam Lien, head of the ministry's Department of Planning and Finance.

There is a growing demand for premium services in hospitals, he said, adding that the proposal will allow this demand to be met.

Industry insiders say Vietnamese go abroad because there is a lack of top notch treatment and facilities in the country. "If the bill is implemented well, Vietnamese patients will enjoy healthcare services at lower prices than in other countries, contributing to local hospitals’ income," Lien said.

A bone marrow transplant in Vietnam, for instance, costs $8,000-15,000, but it is 10 times more expensive in Singapore and five times more in Taiwan, Phu Chi Dung, director of the Blood Transfusion Hematology Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City, said.

Up to 100,000 Vietnamese use healthcare services in another country every year, spending about $2 billion, the health ministry estimates.

Popular destinations are Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand. In Malaysia alone, the number of Vietnamese patients have risen from 8,000 in 2016 to 14,000 last year, according to the Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council. Vietnam is among the five largest healthcare markets for Malaysia, it said.

The bill is being drafted after Ho Chi Minh City last year began a medical tourism initiative by publishing a handbook on the city’s healthcare services for foreigners.

The city accounted for about half of the 80,000 foreigners who came to Vietnam for medical treatment in 2017. They spent $2 billion, of which HCMC accounted for $1 billion.

Last year, the health ministry recorded more than 300,000 foreigners coming to Vietnam for health treatment, up 50 percent against five years ago.

Vietnam’s fast-growing economy, with an aging population, is seeing increased spending on healthcare.

Healthcare expenditure in Vietnam was estimated at $16.1 billion in 2017, equivalent to 7.5 percent of GDP, and is set to grow to $22.7 billion in 2021, a compound annual growth rate of 12.5 percent, according to market research firm Business Monitor International (BMI).

Embracing 'Global Born' concept to leverage digital economy

How Vietnam’s economy can contribute to and reap the benefits from the global digital economy was the main topic of discussion among key stakeholders and thought leaders at the annual International Business Forum, organized by RMIT Vietnam’s School of Business & Management on August 12 in Ho Chi Minh City.

Opening the event, RMIT Asia Graduate Centre Head of Department, Associate Professor Victor Kane, spoke about the “Global Born” concept as an emerging trend in Vietnam, as Vietnamese firms become more active in the digital economy.

“The global digital economy is estimated to be worth $11.5 trillion already and will continue to grow in the future,” Associate Professor Kane said. “According to the World Bank, success in Vietnam has already been achieved in disruptive ride-hailing services, e-commerce platforms and accommodation platforms, and fintech and payment solution companies. Many of these firms are immediately connecting with customers and suppliers around the world.”

RMIT Vietnam Discipline Lead for the International Business program in the School of Business & Management, Dr. Nguyen Quang Trung, described a Born Global firm as “a venture launched to exploit a global niche from the first day of its operations”; a powerful group with great potential in international business.

Based on recent rankings from many international organizations, Dr. Trung revealed that there was not much improvement in the country’s competitiveness, ease of doing business, corruption perception index, and e-government, but if Vietnam maintained e-government rankings under 30 then other elements could improve.

He added that the country’s high ranking in the latest Global Innovation Index 2019, where it was in the top 50, and the digital index are positive signs for the country participating in the global economy.

Former Minister of Science and Technology Dr. Nguyen Quan said that even though there are still many challenges in developing a startup, the startup ecosystem in Vietnam has improved due to prompt action from government and proactive approaches from businesses.

“The National Innovation Center is being developed and is expected to be the nucleus for promoting the country’s economic development based on innovation and science and technology in the context of rapidly changing Industry 4.0,” Dr. Quan said. “It will prioritize work on smart factories, digital content, network security, smart cities, and environmental technologies.”

He also presented examples of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) developing in-house research and development centers, including Vingroup and Rang Dong. The upcoming policy around venture capital will also encourage more foreign venture capital firms to invest in Vietnamese startups.

As a former CEO of many tech companies in Vietnam, including Sony Ericsson Vietnam, Yahoo Vietnam, and Microsoft Vietnam, Vice President of Cloud Services at the VNG Corporation Vu Minh Tri shared five common factors of companies that can be successful on a global scale: they can address global problems, scale quickly, grow with the ecosystem, go beyond innovation, and pick the best of all worlds.

HCM City seeks ways to train workforce with int’l standards

The Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee held a seminar on August 15 to discuss workforce training in accordance with international standards for the 2020 – 2030 period.

Speaking at the event, Director of the municipal Department of Education and Training Le Hong Son said the city has yet to issue policies and regulations for training establishments with international standards, especially public schools.

Secretary of the municipal Party Committee Nguyen Thien Nhan said the city’s labour productivity now triples the country’s average while the population accounts for 10 percent of the total but contributes to nearly 25 percent of the country’s gross regional domestic product (GRDP).

In order to maintain its central role, the city needs to take the lead in improving workforce quality, he said, adding that it is the top out of the seven breakthrough programmes to achieve rapid and sustainable development.

He revealed that HCM City will work out specific action programmes on international-standard workforce training in several areas, possibly in technology and artificial intelligence, automation and robotics, health, corporate governance, finance – banking, and tourism.

Nhan suggested that the municipal People’s Committee should consider establishing an advisory council in the field with the participation of foreign experts, and issuing financial mechanisms in support of learners.

The city will also step up public-private partnership across seven fields, including improvement of foreign language teaching and learning, lecturer training, international-standard curricula, education quality verification, school management, start-up programmes and technology transfer.

Ho Chi Minh City is now home to 54 universities, 52 colleges, 64 trade schools, 82 vocational training centres, over 2,200 schools from preschool to high school levels with over 2 million students. It also has more than 100,000 teachers, lecturers, experts and scientists in education and training field.

Digital economy to bring new momentum for VN

Now is the time for Viet Nam to find new momentum for its development with the digital economy leading the way, an official has said.

Nguyen Anh Thu, vice rector of University of Economics and Business under Viet Nam’s National University, made the statement at a roundtable held in Ha Noi on August 14.

At the seminar, experts discussed Viet Nam's economy and its ability to adapt to the digital transformation.

Viet Nam has several advantages in terms of the digital economy.

The country has a high percentage of young people, providing human resources for national development. Moreover, the digital economy depends significantly on consumers, so a young, tech-savvy population is considered an advantage.

Secondly, Viet Nam has started exporting technology products recently, such as software, electronic parts and information technology products.

Last, the Government has policies and determination to take advantage of the opportunity of Industry 4.0 to develop the country's economy.

However, there are also challenges in adapting to the digital economy.

Human resources is an advantage but also a disadvantage because Vietnamese employees are not really ready for the digital economy, Thu said.

Besides, there is a lack of good infrastructure to develop the digital economy, infrastructure in terms of policy, law and information technology.

“Some countries have gone ahead in the digital economy, however, whether we can catch up or take advantage of the digital economy needs a lot of innovation of the enterprises and good infrastructure support from the Government,” Thu told Viet Nam News.

As regards recommendations for Viet Nam in the process of adapting digital economy, Nguyen Duc Thanh, director of the Vietnam Institute for Economic and Policy Research (VEPR) said Viet Nam is a medium-sized country, therefore, the country should look outside and learn from nations such as Malaysia or Thailand.

Thanh also emphasised the Government should focus on developing digital infrastructure and regulations.

“It is also necessary for Vietnamese people to have open mind and natural way of thinking when approaching the digital economy,” Thanh told Viet Nam News.

The roundtable 'Viet Nam and the digital economy' is one of the activities in YSI Asia Convening 2019, which is taking place in Ha Noi from August 12 to 15.

The event is a platform for young economists from many research branches to gather, meet, share ideas and inspire academic work related to the social challenges of the 21st century.

Kien Giang vows to provide best conditions for investors

The Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta Province of Kien Giang has pledged to further improve its competitiveness and investment climate, making it easy for investors to do business, Secretary of the provincial Party Committee, Nguyen Thanh Nghi, said.

It would also continue to ensure there is a supply of human resources and services to better meet investors’ needs, he said.

It aims to create a dynamic, creative and efficient business environment for investors as it sees their success as its own, he said.

Of the 13 cities and provinces in the Mekong Delta, Kien Giang has the largest area and second biggest population.

As the western gateway to the region and with the waters of the Gulf of Thailand lapping its shores, the province encompasses a vast sea area of over 63,000 square kilometres. It also shares a 58km border with Cambodia, has the Ha Tien international border gate and national border gate and two airports besides pristine forests, mountains and more than 100 small and large islands.

It is the country’s largest producer of many agricultural and fisheries items such as rice and shrimp and practises many advanced farming models.

Phu Quoc, aka Pearl Island, ranks among the top tourist destinations in Asia.

The province achieved rapid economic growth, averaging 7.17 per cent, in the 2016-18 period. The number of tourists grew annually at over 20 per cent, and tourism revenues surged 40 per cent.

Pham Vu Hong, chairman of the province People’s Committee, said Kien Giang’s development in the past was not commensurate with its advantages.

A lot of potential has not been tapped, including in agro-forestry and coastal aquaculture in Giang Thanh, Kien Luong, Hon Dat, and U Minh Thuong; in marine economic development, especially industrial aquaculture; in industrial development, especially processing associated with local raw materials; in eco-tourism and renewable energy development; and in urban and coastal housing development.

“Besides Phu Quoc, we have three more key tourism areas with plenty of potential: Ha Tien - Kien Luong (with the Ba Lua Archipelago and Tien Hai Archipelago), Rach Gia - Kien Hai (with Hon Tre, Lai Son and Nam Du islands) and the U Minh Thuong area with the U Minh Thuong National Park.

“We are aware that to enable Kien Giang to become a dynamic and developing province with prosperity and sustainable development, it must necessarily stimulate and exploit effectively and evenly the province’s potential and strengths based on both internal and external resources.

“We also understand that to mobilise resources from outside, there is no better way than to greatly improve the business and investment environment, remove bottlenecks in administrative procedures and complete the legal framework.”

Therefore, in the past few years, the province has put more effort into planning, drawing up preferential policies for investors and reforming administrative procedures.

In addition to the existing traffic infrastructure, new projects such as National Highway 80 connecting Vam Cong, Hon Chong seaport in Kien Luong District and the Duong Dong international seaport, once completed, are expected to help the province attract more investment, he said.

The province recently issued licences to 20 local and foreign projects with a combined investment of VND43.35 trillion (US$1.86 billion) and signed memorandums of understanding with a number of businesses for feasibility studies for 36 others worth over VND150 trillion ($6.46 billion).

The projects are in renewable energy, waste and wastewater treatment, hi-tech agriculture, logistics and tourism property.

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has hailed the province’s efforts to attract investment, noting that in terms of the quality of investment it is one of the top localities nation-wide.

He urged the province to capitalise on its comparative natural advantages and sea-oriented economy and promote its unique agricultural resources and unique and world-class tropical tourism to become one of the most dynamic, innovative and wealthy provinces in the country.

With its geographic advantages, Phuc said, “Kien Giang’s economy can develop based on three pillars: high-quality agriculture adapted to climate change, clean fish farming and processing targeting the high-end market segment and eco-tourism of international standards.”

The marine economy would be a key growth driver along with the border economy and the breakthrough in the development of Phu Quoc, he said.

“With the unique position of Phu Quoc, we need to have a vision to turn it into a world-class resort tourism centre.”

However, in the process of planning for the development of Kien Giang in general and Phu Quoc in particular, it is necessary to ensure the quality of the land, water and air and not destroy the environment and nature for short-term benefit, he warned.

The Government would help the province achieve its socio-economic targets and guarantee the legal rights of businesses and investors in the province are protected, he promised.

Samsung launches Galaxy Note 10 and Galaxy Note10+

Samsung Vina Electronics on Wednesday in HCM City launched its new Galaxy Note10 and Galaxy Note10+ for VND22.99 million (US$987) and VND26.99 million, respectively.

Viet Nam is the one of the first markets in the world where the new phones have been launched, Samsung Vina said, adding that it was first launched in New York on August 7.

In Viet Nam, the phones will be sold starting from August 23, the company said.

 

Inspired by a generation that flows seamlessly between work and life, the Galaxy Note10 gives users the freedom to work the way they want and showcase their creative spirit.

“The Galaxy Note10 re-imagines this promise for the modern Note fan who uses their smartphone to take their productivity and creativity to the next level, and who effortlessly flows between ideas and endeavors at a moment’s notice,” said DJ Koh, President and CEO of IT Mobile Communications Division, Samsung Electronics.

“Every element of the Galaxy Note10 was designed to help users achieve more. Whether they’re finishing a big project for work, capturing and editing a video, or playing their favorite mobile game, the Galaxy Note10 will help them do it faster and better.”

Samsung said the Galaxy Note10 is crafted to be sleek, slim and distraction-free, so users can devote their full attention to what matters most to them.

For the first time ever, the Galaxy Note10 comes in two sizes, so consumers can find the Note that’s best for them. The Galaxy Note10 opens up the Note to users who want the power of the S Pen and productivity in a compact form, packing a 6.3-inch display.

The Galaxy Note10+ features the biggest Note display ever with a 6.8-inch Cinematic Infinity Display on a device that’s still easy to hold and use.

The Galaxy Note10’s display is seen as Samsung’s best yet. From its physical construction to its underlying technology, the display is designed to immerse users in their favourite TV, movies and games.

Nghe An to host VN-Thailand trade forum

A conference to accelerate bilateral trade and investment between Vietnamese and Thai enterprises is slated to be held in the central province of Nghe An from September 26-30.

Information on the event was released during a working session among the Business Association of Overseas Vietnamese (BAOOV), the Business Association of Thai Vietnam (BAOTV) and provincial leaders on Wednesday.

During the event, 500 entrepreneurs from Viet Nam and Thailand as well as overseas Vietnamese firms will share their experience and discuss new business models.

An exhibition showcasing products and services in a wide range of sectors such as agriculture, hi-tech, import-export, finance and tourism will also be held along the event of 400 booths to be run by exhibitors from 28 countries and territories.

In his speech at the working session, vice chairman of Nghe An People's Committee Le Ngoc Hoa proposed the BAOOV to tell foreign investors about the province’s development. That will help attract more international firms to seek investment opportunities in the locality.

He described the conference as an opportunity for local enterprises to promote exports of products like farm produce, textile and garment and handicrafts to Thailand.

They will also have a chance to better understand Thailand’s quality requirements and the tastes of Thai customers, he said.

At the conference, the central province will seek co-operation between overseas Vietnamese enterprises and those in the province while calling on investment into its key industrial parks, according to the vice chairman.

Viet Nam’s export earnings from Thailand, a competitive market in the region, have increased sharply in recent years, with an annual average turnover of US$4-5 billion.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade said Viet Nam exported $5.5 billion worth of products to its neighbour in 2018, a year-on-year surge of 15 per cent.

Viet Nam’s shipments to Thailand brought home $1.39 billion in the first quarter of 2019, up 6 per cent from the same time last year.

However, experts said made-in-Viet Nam products only accounted for a small proportion of Thai imports.

They recommended exporters enhance co-operation with the Vietnamese community in Thailand, many of whom own supermarkets and convenience stores in the country, to make Vietnamese products become more popular among Thais.

Experts oppose private placement of start-ups

The regulation on the private placement shares of a start-up company is sparking opposing public opinions as it can pose potential risks and create overlaps with other laws.

The amended draft law on securities, expected to be approved by the National Assembly meeting in May 2020, regulates the private placement shares of a start-up company is directly detailed and monitored by the Government.

Private placement is the sale of an issue of debt or equity securities to a single buyer or to a limited number of buyers without a public offering.

According to the Ministry of Finance, the drafting agency of the new law, the regulation aims to create a legal basis for start-up enterprises to conduct private placement, facilitating the creation of a capital channel for start-ups, allowing them to access capital right from the very first stages, ensuring equality between businesses.

But many experts expressed their objection or urged for more careful consideration when including the regulation in the new law.

Vu Bang, former Chairman of the State Securities Commission suggested clarifying the scope and scale of start-up enterprises subjected to the regulation to avoid overlapping with the provisions of Law on Support for Small- and Medium-sized Enterprises.

“It is very risky to allow a start-up to list on the stock market when it is not ready because in most of cases, only the State or the angel funds could sponsor the firms when they first introduce their business idea,” Bang said.

“In developed countries, if the start-up can prove their effectiveness, the venture capital funds will provide finance support in the second stage, and after that, if the business grows well, it will be approved for listing.”

He added that start-ups, especially technology-based enterprises, needed huge capital with many unique ideas and many countries support them by opening up a secondary market for them to trade, Vietnam can also consider this idea.

Meanwhile, according to Le Xuan Nghia, a member of the Prime Minister's Economic Advisory Group, countries seeing start-ups flourish such as Finland, Israel or the Republic of Korea allow the firms to list shares on the stock market.

“However, they have a firm scientific and technical base, advanced education and training system,” Nghia said.

“Meanwhile, we still have many limitations. A large number of business leaders in our country still lack legal knowledge, corporate culture as well as social knowledge.”

“Therefore, it is very risky for these enterprises to participate in the stock market, at this time, we should only let them join the secondary market,” Nghia said.

In Ireland, the Government often holds a stake of about 70 percent of capital in start-up enterprises. But when the Government wants to withdraw capital from these firms, they must prepare procedures for the businesses to list on the stock market and must strictly comply with the standards of the stock exchange, Nghia said.

Asia@Connect project launched to bridge regional R&E activities

The EU co-funded Asi@Connect Project, which provides a dedicated regional high capacity and high quality internet network for research and education (R&E) communities across Asia-Pacific and Europe, was launched in Hanoi on August 15.

The project is carried out by the National Agency for Science and Technology Information (NASTI) and Trans-Eurasia Information Network (TEIN) Cooperation Centre.

According to NASTI Director General Tran Dac Hien, the project launch in Vietnam marks a new chapter in the R&E collaboration in the Asia-Pacific.

Asi@Connect will enable faster digital connectivity among countries and facilitate the implementation of advanced network services, while making contributions to realising the UN’s sustainable development goals through better access to training and research resources as well as reduction of digital gap, Hien stressed.

Describing Asi@Connect as an outstanding model for regional integration, Head of Politics, Press & Information Section at the EU Delegation to Vietnam Axelle Nicaise said the R&E communities in 23 countries and economies in the Asia-Pacific can connect with one another through high-quality bandwidth TEIN.

Asi@Connect will be an important motive to develop a safe and open IT environment for cooperation between Asia and Europe, bringing utmost benefits to the society.

Besides, a wide range of research projects and programmes will also benefit from the Asi@Connect, such as data sharing and cooperation in the fields of astronomy, meteorology, climate change, or early warning of natural disasters, she highlighted.

Meanwhile, Director of Bach Mai Hospital’s Nuclear Medicine and Oncology Centre Pham Cam Phuong said the project will help connect hospitals in various locations to give medical consultation and carry out training for doctors. Therefore, he hoped the project will be expanded to help doctors, pharmacists, nurses and technicians learn experience from their colleagues worldwide.

An exhibition of cooperation projects in Asi@Connect, a conference sharing experience in R&E development in the Asia-Pacific, and a seminar on Eduroam were held in the framework of the launching ceremony.

ADB helps Vietnam boost inclusive growth in secondary towns

Agreements for the Second Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) Tourism Infrastructure for Inclusive Growth Project were signed on August 15 between the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the provincial People’s Committees of Hoa Binh, Nghe An, Quang Binh, Quang Tri and Thua Thien-Hue.

The signing of these specific pacts came after the ADB and the Ministry of Finance inked an overall 45 million USD loan agreement for the project, the bank’s 4th consecutive tourism project in the country since 2003.

The project aims to transform secondary towns along the GMS’s eastern corridor into economically inclusive and competitive tourism destinations by improving transport infrastructure, urban services, and capacity for sustainable tourism growth management.

It will construct climate-resilient transport and urban infrastructure needed to boost tourist arrivals and tourist services investment, while developing urban green spaces and public beaches in the five provinces. It is expected to benefit about 168,000 residents and more than 8 million visitors annually.

“In the past years, the Government has effectively used the ADB’s support to improve infrastructure, strengthen environmental management in tourism destinations, promote tourism-related enterprise development, and deepen regional tourism cooperation with GMS and ASEAN neighbors,” said Eric Sidgwick, ADB Country Director for Vietnam.

“As a result, tourism is thriving in project areas, benefitting thousands of residents and locally owned businesses,” he added.

The ADB has a long and successful track record supporting inclusive and sustainable tourism development in Vietnam. A total of 12 provinces have to date received the bank’s tourism growth assistance, with the cumulative financing totaling more than 110 million USD.

HNX auction raises 137 million USD from G-bonds

The State Treasury has raised close to 3.2 trillion VND (137.5 million USD) from an auction of governmental bonds (G-bonds) recently held by the Hanoi Stock Exchange (HNX).

As much as 2.5 trillion VND worth of G-bonds, including 10-year, 15-year and 30-year bonds, were offered at the auction.

The auction of the 10-year bonds raised a total of 1.5 trillion VND with an annual interest rate of 4.35 percent, 0.07 percent lower than the previous auction on August 7.

The 15-year bonds were also sold at 1.5 trillion VND with an annual yield rate of 4.63 percent, 0.05 percent lower than the August 7 auction.

Some 194 billion VND was mobilised from sales of the 30-year bonds at an annual interest rate of 5.51 percent, the same as the previous auction on July 24.

From the outset of the year, the State Treasury has collected more than 142.2 trillion VND from G-bond sales.

Google helps train digital skills for SMEs

The Ministry of Industry and Trade and Google on August 15 officially established strategic partnership on expanding Google's Digital 4.0 Program, which aims to train digital skills for 500,000 workers working for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) within three years.  

Speaking at the event, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Cao Quoc Hung highlighted the annual growth of Viet Nam’s e-commerce of 30%, reaching US$8.06 billion in 2018 and making up 42% of the total nation’s retail sales and service revenues.

The Ministry welcomes Google’s initiative Google's Digital 4.0 Program, which heads to train more digital human resources and expand economic scale, he said, expecting that the program will bring huge benefits for the nation’s economy, enterprises and consumers.

Google Asia Pacific President Scott Beaumont expressed his hope that the strategic partnership with the Vietnamese Ministry of Industry and Trade will bring the program to a higher level.

Google's Digital 4.0 Program, an initiative starting since June 2018, has organized training courses for nearly 85,000 ones working at SMEs. With 24 training models and six training centers in Ha Noi, Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang City, Can Tho City, Da Lat City and Hai Phong City, the program has received Viet Nam Digital Award 2018 and Global CSR Award 2019.

The program has helped SMEs, start-up and seniors update digital knowledge and improve management capacity to develop enterprises, enhance effectiveness of online business and create more jobs.

Sugar firm to sell more than 61 million treasury shares

Thanh Thanh Cong Bien Hoa Sugar JSC (SBT) has approved a plan to sell treasury shares.

The company plans to sell all nearly 61.7 million treasury shares to increase the number of outstanding voting shares and restructure the company's capital.

The selling price will be decided by the board of directors in compliance with regulations butnot lower than the market price or the book value at the time of offering.

On the market, shares of Thanh Thanh Cong Bien Hoa have fallen significantly in recent times, being trading at VND15,550 (US$0.68) per share on Thursday, down nearly 25 per cent since this year's peak of VND20,660 per share on February 15.

As of March 31, 2019, the company has 61.6 million treasury shares worth nearly VND1.1 trillion ($47.3 million).

Trung Luong-My Thuan expressway to open for traffic in 2020: minister

With the Government’s contribution of VND2 trillion and loans from commercial banks, the Trung Luong-My Thuan expressway will be put into service in 2020, Minister of Transport Nguyen Van The said at a question and answer session at the National Assembly Standing Committee on August 15.

Minister The noted that the Trung Luong-My Thuan and My Thuan-Can Tho expressways and My Thuan 2 Bridge are important national traffic projects deployed by the Government 10 years ago, but their progress remains slow, Nguoi Lao Dong newspaper reported.

For the Trung Luong-My Thuan Expressway project, the Government has offered VND2.18 trillion and allowed the investors to adjust the project’s costs against the investment.

The Government has also assigned the governor of the State Bank of Vietnam to direct banks to provide a loan of VND6 trillion for the project, The remarked.

With the investment, the Trung Luong-My Thuan expressway will be opened to traffic by 2020 in line with the prime minister’s directive, he confirmed.

As for the My Thuan 2 Bridge project, which was assigned VND5.1 trillion following the National Assembly's approval, the Ministry of Transport is preparing the technical design and estimating the investment requirements. As scheduled, work on the bridge project will start in 2020.

In addition, the minister noted that a tender has yet to be held for the My Thuan-Can Tho expressway project due to the lack of capital. The tender for investment in the My Thuan-Can Tho expressway project will be organized later this year if the project receives VND932 billion, he added.

Foreign language labels on chopping block for locally consumed goods

Locally made products being traded on the Vietnamese market may not be allowed to bear labels written in foreign languages, according to a draft circular prepared by the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

At a press briefing to introduce the draft circular, stipulating the requirements for labeling products of Vietnam and those made in Vietnam, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Quoc Khanh said that for products made and traded on the local market, the mandatory language for their labels is Vietnamese, Tuoi Tre Online newspaper reported.

Both the producers and the buyers of these products are Vietnamese, so it is unnecessary to use a foreign language.

Multiple regulations on product origins have been issued, Khanh said. However, these regulations are applied to imports and exports to help them enjoy tax incentives, based on the free trade agreements Vietnam has signed, according to news site Vietnamplus.

Meanwhile, products traded on the domestic market are labeled “Product of Vietnam” or “Made in Vietnam,” and there are no regulations in place to ensure that these products are really Vietnamese or made in Vietnam, which confuses producers.

If imported products bear labels indicating that they are Vietnamese goods, the competent agencies can ask the importers of these products to prove the goods’ origins before allowing them to enter the country.

Products are considered to have originated in Vietnam if they are completely produced in Vietnam or if they are not completely produced in the country but their final processing phase was done in Vietnam, changing their basic characteristics, explained Phan Van Chinh, head of the Import and Export Department at the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

Also, enterprises will not be allowed to use the “assembled in Vietnam,” “processed in Vietnam” or “designed by Vietnam” labels.

According to the draft circular, products that are deemed to be Vietnamese must have a localization rate of at least 30%.

Khanh confirmed that regulations in the draft circular would not increase costs for enterprises.

Construction Ministry agrees to put Phu Quoc SEZ plan on hold

The Ministry of Construction has expressed support for the government of Kien Giang Province’s proposal to suspend a major plan to turn Phu Quoc Island off the province into a special economic zone (SEZ).

According to the ministry, the development of Phu Quoc into an SEZ is not appropriate at present and is not in line with the prevailing regulations on planning.

Kien Giang had conducted procedures to put the plan into action after it was approved by the prime minister in August last year.

However, the National Assembly has yet to set a specific date to pass a draft law on special administrative and economic zones, setting up multiple obstacles for the province’s adoption of the plan due to the lack of a legal foundation, procedural order, zoning content and appraising board.

Therefore, the province proposed the suspension of the plan until the NA passes the law on special administrative and economic zones.

A master plan to develop Phu Quoc Island until 2010, with a vision toward 2020, approved by the prime minister in 2004, is no longer appropriate to the current situation.

The provincial government cited the Law on Zoning, noting that district-level zoning would have to be integrated with that of the province, but many socioeconomic targets of Phu Quoc have outpaced the approved figures.

However, waiting for the province’s zoning plan to be worked out and approved will create difficulties for Phu Quoc in mapping out further development goals, calling for investors and executing investment projects.

Instead, the provincial government is seeking approval from the Government to set up an economic zone on the island, with a zoning fund sourced from the local budget and other legal sources.

 
 
 
 
 
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