VIETNAM BUSINESS NEWS APRIL 13

Vietnam gas consumption to double in next 10 years: Fitch Solutions 

VIETNAM BUSINESS NEWS APRIL 13

Gas demand is expected to rise from about 9.7 billion cubic meters (bcm) in 2020 to above 25.3bcm in 2030, while influx of LNG helps to counter the decline in domestic production.

Vietnam’s gas consumption is predicted to accelerate strongly over the coming decade, more than doubling, over the duration of the upcoming Power Development Plan VIII (PDP VIII) [2021-2030].

“The potential of the Vietnamese gas market is strong,” stated the Fitch Solutions in a note, saying in comparison to markets similar in terms the size of the consumer market as measured by population, Vietnam appears undersupplied in gas both in terms of absolute consumption volume and per capita.

The domestic gas network is also found deficient with Vietnam ranking 15th out of 17 Asia-Pacific gas markets as per the CIA Factbook in terms of total gas pipeline length, despite having historically been self-sufficient in gas.

The current gas demand is predicted to be more than double over the next decade, from about 9.7 billion cubic meters (bcm) in 2020 to above 25.3 bcm in 2030. It is also expected that influx of LNG will help counter the decline in domestic production.

However, long-term growth has the potential to far outpace the current forecast, as more projects in the pipeline gain clarity and are brought online, stated Fitch Solutions.

Under the draft PDP VIII, the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) outlines ambitious growth targets for power generation from natural gas and renewables.

The share of gas-fired generation capacity is forecast to grow from about 14.9% in 2020 to 21% in 2030 and further to 24% in 2045, while that for renewables is expected to increase from 9.9% in 2020 to 29% in 2030, and to over 40% in 2045.

“These are expected to occur at the expense of coal and hydropower, which are more pollutive and environmentally damaging to produce domestically,” added Fitch Solutions. 

The PDP does indicate that coal use in the domestic market would continue even as emphasis shifts to using cleaner forms of energy, although consumption will increasingly become dependent on imports as domestic supply declines.

The share of imported energy is also expected to see marginal growth, so as to minimize the environmental footprint from producing own energy.

Capital inflows into the sector also look set to strengthen over the duration of the PDP. The Plan estimates that an investment of about US$128.3 billion will be needed over the next decade in order to realize the aforementioned growth targets in natural gas and renewables generation.

From the sum, US$95.4 billion is expected to be allocated to the development of power sources with an excess of US$56 billion worth of LNG regasification and LNG-to-power projects already lined up to be commissioned over the next decade.

The current pipeline features 23 different projects and is notable for its strong US presence; of the 23, 11 projects worth a combined US$35.9 billion and 32.6GW in generation capacity, are backed up by pledges of funding from US firms, to be completed over 2023-2030.

In addition, about US$32.9 billion will be set aside for the duration of the PDP for expanding the national grid network.

Petrol prices slightly drop in latest review

The retail prices of petrol dropped from 16:30 on April 12, the ministries of industry and trade and finance announced.

Accordingly, the price of E5RON92 fell 45 VND to 17,806 VND (0.77 USD) per litre at the highest, and that of RON95-III was also 76 VND to 18,970 VND per litre.

Meanwhile, the prices of diesel 0.05S and kerosene are capped at 14,141 VND, and 12,827 VND per litre, down 102 VND and 177 VND per litre, respectively.

Mazut 180CST 3.5S is sold at no more than 13,686 VND per kilogramme, decreasing 70 VND per kilogramme.

This is the first time the petrol prices have been reduced after nine consecutive increases since Tet holiday.

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

Demand for petrol has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, settlement of Suez Cannal blockage, and bright prospects on global economic growth, among others.

In order the set these prices, the ministries have used the Price Stabilisation Fund for E5RON92 at 1,800 VND per litre, RON95-III at 950 VND per litre, diesel 0.05S at 250 VND per litre, and kerosene at 300 VND per litre.

Without using the Fund, petrol prices would increase from 123 VND to 1,755 VND per litre/kilogramme as compared to current prices./.

Vietnam salt company’s IPO surpasses plan

The Vietnam Salt One Member Limited Liability Company (Visalco) launched the initial public offering (IPO) on the Hanoi Stock Exchange (HNX) on April 12.

With nearly 1.28 million shares put on sale at the auction, the volume of ordered stocks amounted to almost 3.88 million. The highest price was 25,100 VND (1.09 USD) per share while the lowest was 23,500 VND.

The sum of money collected from the IPO was over 30 billion VND, 2.8 billion VND higher than the estimated value calculated based on the asking price of 21,300 VND per share.

Visalco is a State-owned subsidiary of the Northern Food Corporation, one of the most prestigious food suppliers in Vietnam. It produces and sells salt and salt products. Revenue in this field fell sharply from 2018 to 2020 as the company halted supply contracts with several mountainous localities.

After that, it moved to the rice business, with revenue rising from 65.05 billion VND in 2018 to 163.96 billion VND last year.

Under its production and business plan, Visalco forecasts earning 99 billion VND in revenue this year and posting 870 million VND in pre-tax profit. By 2023, revenue is predicted to be more than 110 billion VND, with pre-tax profit to top 1 billion VND./.

Vietnamese family businesses optimism about growth prospects: PwC

The UK-based audit service supplier PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) has released its first survey on Vietnamese family businesses, which showed optimism in their future development.

The survey is part of the PwC’s 10th PwC Global Family Business Survey, which unearths the current thinking and future outlook of 2,801 family business leaders across 87 countries and territories, of which 33 were from Vietnam, representing a diverse mix of businesses and industries.

According to the survey, 65 percent of Vietnamese family businesses expect to grow in 2021, and 75 percent expect to grow in 2022

Meanwhile, 33 percent of the businesses think they will experience aggressive growth in 2022 which is higher than both regional and global family businesses surveyed.

Besides, 55 percent of Vietnamese respondents will focus on introducing new products and services, following by increasing use of new technologies (52 percent).

The current operating model among Vietnamese family businesses is concentrated on family and owner managed businesses (52 percent and 36 percent respectively).

However, the survey findings show that in five years, Vietnamese family businesses will shift towards more external involvement in family businesses. In detail, it will transit from owner/family managed businesses to family-owned/ externally-managed or externally-run businesses (increased to 60 percent from 12 percent)./.

Dossiers from Hanoi candidates for 15th NA election counted

The Hanoi Election Committee has handed over 72 dossiers from candidates for the election of deputies to the 15th National Assembly (NA) and 188 dossiers from candidates for the election of deputies to the municipal People’s Council in the 2021-2026 tenure to the city’s Fatherland Front Committee.

According to the city’s Fatherland Front Committee, of these, six candidates for the election of deputies to the 15th NA and 11 for the election of deputies to the 16th municipal People’s Council withdrew their candidacy.

Of the 2,060 candidates for district-level People’s Councils, 41 have withdrawn their dossiers. Meanwhile, as many as 121 out of 21,399 people withdrew their candidacy for commune-level People’s Councils.

The city’s Fatherland Front Committee reported that as of April 2, a total of 1,592 conferences for collecting comments and confidence votes from constituents had been held, or 33.24 percent of the plan.

Preparations for the elections of deputies to the 15th NA and all-level People’s Councils for the 2021-2026 tenure have been implemented in accordance with relevant laws and documents.

As planned, the city’s Fatherland Front Committee will hold the third consultation conference from April 14-16 to prepare the lists of qualified candidates for the elections of deputies to the 15th NA and the 16th People’s Council of Hanoi.

Good control of pandemic will accelerate credit growth: Insiders

Credit growth will expand significantly from Quarter 2 and exceed the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV)’s target of 12 percent for the year as a whole if the pandemic is brought under good control and the vaccination campaign proves effective, according to insiders.

Expecting domestic recovery in its strategic investment report for 2021, the VNDirect Securities Corporation forecast that this year credit growth would top 13 percent and interest rates could fall 20-50 percentage points in the context of loose monetary policy and low inflationary pressure.

According to Can Van Luc, BIDV chief economist, 10-15 percent growth is suitable, given that risks await commercial banks in the time ahead despite the economic recovery.

Potential bad debts are on the rise, which will eat into the bank’s profit, he stressed.

Meanwhile, the SBV’s Department of Credit for Economic Sectors forecast strong credit growth from Quarter 2, which could be higher than the SBV’s target of 12 percent, especially in the fields of industrial production, exports, trade and tourism.

Good domestic consumption, rosy exports, strong FDI attraction and disbursement of public investment will drive credit growth, it said.

Head of the department Nguyen Tuan Anh revealed that as of the end of March, credit growth was up by 2.3 percent compared to the end of 2020 and higher than the figure in the same period last year, when credit growth in the economy inched up less than 1 percent.

From the outset of this year, the SBV was prudent in assigning credit growth for commercial banks, Anh said, adding that it outlined three scenarios for credit growth this year, with the maximum reaching 14 percent if COVID-19 was wiped out in Quarter 1, 10-12 percent if the pandemic lasts until June and social distancing measures are put in place, and 7-8 percent if it lasts until the end of the year.

According to economist Nguyen Tri Hieu, it is necessary to stimulate credit demand to achieve effective credit growth. However, banks should be able to control their customers’ sources in covering debts to ensure credit growth criteria and the quality of collateral./.

Decree 148 further restricts land sub-division

Decree No. 148/2020/ND-CP of the Government, which came into force on February 8, 2021, has further restricted the division of land into smaller plots for sale by expanding the areas where the sub-division of land is not allowed.

By expanding the scope and tightening regulations on land sub-division, Decree No. 148, which contains amendments and supplements to several decrees and provides detailed regulations on the implementation of the Law on Land, is aimed at preventing land speculation and unstable urban development.

Doan Thi Thanh My, deputy director of the General Department of Land Administration under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, said Article 41 of Decree No. 43 dated July 1, 2014, banned investors from dividing land into smaller plots for sale in the inner districts of the two special-level cities of Hanoi and HCMC only.

Decree No. 148 now regulates that the sub-division of land is prohibited in the inner districts of not only Hanoi and HCMC but also level-one cities including Danang, Haiphong and Can Tho.

Moreover, before a project is implemented, the provincial People’s Committees have to publish areas where the sub-division of land is permitted.

According to Le Hoang Chau, chairman of the HCMC Real Estate Association, the sub-division of land plots has resulted in land speculation and construction of housing projects and urban areas that are not consistent with urban plans.

Chau said stricter restriction over the sub-division of land plots will ensure benefits for customers and sustainable urban development without adversely affecting the real estate market.

Demand for laptops remains high amid work, study from home

Laptop sales, which began to boom at the beginning of 2020 following the Covid-19 outbreak, remain strong as studying and working from home continue.

Nguyễn Thế Kha, senior director of mobility groups, FPT Shop, said the growth last year was 20-30 per cent for retailers.

The high-end laptop segment alone achieved 60 per cent growth, he said.

Many parents said while they were previously content with having one laptop at home to share with their children or let the latter use smartphones, they have now had to buy one for their children’s classes.

Realising the prospects in store, big players like Dell, Asus and HP are all launching new products in many markets, including Việt Nam.

According to Dell Technologies, Asia is a market with a huge demand for gaming laptops, especially in China, Korea and Japan, where e-sport is highly developed.

Việt Nam is a promising market with rapidly growing demand, and so the latest products are launched in the country, it said.

More and more companies are involved in the production of gaming laptops, and so customers have many options in terms of prices, with those costing from VNĐ 16 million to VNĐ25 million (US$700-1,080) selling best.

Many retailers said certain brands are likely to be unavailable often since demand for them is rising and supply is being hampered by Covid.

Some said stocks are down 20-30 per cent, and they are struggling to replenish them.

But despite the surging demand, prices of laptops have remained relatively stable, and many retailers are even offering discounts and free installation of programmes.

FDI inflows surge into industrial real estate market

Foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows in the Vietnamese real estate sector during the first quarter of the year reached over US$600 million through 12 projects, representing a 2.3-fold increase compared to the same period from last year, according to the Foreign Investment Agency.

Notably, among the 10 newly-licensed projects in the domestic real estate sector by foreign investors during the first quarter of the year, Japanese electronics giant Panasonic was granted an investment license for a US$25.53 million workshop project at Thang Long 2 Industrial Park located in the northern province of Hung Yen.

In line with the development plan for the project, Panasonic is aiming to build the workshop between January, 2023, and March, 2024, with the project set to come into operation ahead in April, 2024.

This comes following Panasonic initiating plans to shut down a large appliance factory outside of Bangkok in March, whilst seeking to consolidate production to a larger facility in the nation in order to achieve greater efficiency, according to Nikkei newspaper of Japan.

The warehousing industry attracted the majority of foreign capital throughout the reviewed period. Especially, eight out of ten newly-licensed projects are within the industrial real estate segment, with a total investment capital of over US$430 million, equal to 99.7% of the total newly-registered capital.

Singapore became the largest foreign investor within the local real estate market during the three-month period  following Amigos An Phu Holding Pte. Ltd registering to invest in the US$185 million project at New Motion Industrial Co., Ltd in Phu Tan Industrial Park in the southern province of Binh Duong.

The Singaporean investor has also put plans in place to start construction on a warehousing and office building cluster ahead in the second quarter of the year, with the project anticipated to be put into operation on a trial basis during the third quarter of the year.

Furthermore, BW Industrial development JSC of the Netherlands has recently poured a sum of US$80.61 million in investment capital into building a warehouse for rent, whilst providing warehouse and logistics services in Tan Phu Trung Industrial Park in Cu Chi district of Ho Chi Minh City.

This increase in FDI inflows in the domestic industrial real estate sector can be attributed to the optimism of foreign investors regarding investment prospects in the Vietnamese industrial production and logistics industry following a challenging year which involved disruption in the global supply chain caused by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

Vietnam started the year with great potential as it rose to be among the top ten emerging markets in terms of performance in the logistics industry. Boasting substantial infrastructure improvements, low operating costs, and large corporate tax exemptions, the country represents an enticing market for plenty of foreign investment, especially in relation to the industrial manufacturing sector.

John Campbell, industrial services manager of Savills, said the nation features the lowest operating costs based upon analysis done on industrial real estate in 54 markets across 21 countries, which has become one of the key factors to help the country increase its attractiveness to multinational companies.

Farmers in Southeast provinces have bad crop of cashew

Cashew farmers in the Southeast provinces are rushing to enter the harvest season. Due to unusual weather, many cashew plantations have suffered heavy losses, but well-cared-for cashew ones still give high yields.

Binh Phuoc Province is considered as the cashew capital of the country, with about 170,000 hectares and an output of 243,000 tons per year, mainly concentrated in Phu Rieng, Bu Gia Map, Bu Dang, and Dong Phu districts. This place creates jobs for about 50,000 workers in rural areas.

Mr. Dieu Thanh, a farmer in Dak O Commune in Bu Gia Map District, has two hectares of over-20-year-old cashew trees that are developing well and not damaged by cashew stem borer as in previous years. He spent VND10 million for fertilizing and spraying nourishing agents for cashew flowers. His cashew trees were blooming more flowers than the previous year. Unfortunately, after the Lunar New Year, there was a prolonged period of hoar frost, causing cashew flowers to dry, and young cashew fruits to fall a lot. During this time in the previous year, his family collected 2 tons of fresh cashew, but up to now, only about 100 kilograms of fresh cashew have been collected. Many households in the commune also suffered from lean harvest in this crop.

On the contrary, Mr. Nguyen Van Long, a farmer in Tien Hung Commune in Dong Xoai City, has three hectares of cashew trees that are giving high yield. Currently, Mr. Long's family is entering the second phase of the harvest season, with a yield of 2 tons per hectare. Cashew prices are stable at VND24,000-VND27,000 per kilogram of fresh cashew, after deducting expenses, his family earns more than VND1 billion. Mr. Long said that cashew trees give a good harvest or not, it depends a lot on the weather, fertilization, and care. Right from the beginning of the year, his family pruned branches, removed old cashew trees with low productivity, and spend nearly VND20 million to fertilize and spray plant protection drugs, so the garden is clean and free from pests and diseases.

A survey in many cashew plantations in localities with large cashew areas such as Bu Dang, Dong Phu, and Bu Gia Map districts shows that if the cashew plantations are taken care of well, the trees have fewer pests and diseases and give an average yield of 2 tons per hectare. Many cashew plantations are close to each other, but there is a quite large difference in productivity because the care and cultivation capacity of each household is different.

Because cashew trees give fruits late this year, the 250-hectare organic cashew plantation that meets the European standards of Mr. Dung Quy Dong in Tan Hung Commune of Dong Phu District has just been harvested for half a month this month. According to Mr. Dong, organic cashew cultivation is not affected by weather and pests, so the yield next year is higher than the previous year.

Mr. Dong shared that last year, in the first harvest with nearly 100 hectares, his family collected more than 200 tons of cashew. It is expected that his cashew plantation would produce about 500 tons of cashew this year. With the current price, he would earn more than VND10 billion. However, because of the large harvest area, he was worried about a labor shortage.

Currently, he needs 150-200 workers every day, but he has just been able to hire 100 regular workers at the price of VND250,000 per person per day, higher than the previous year.

The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development of Binh Phuoc Province admitted that this year due to the high-temperature difference between day and night, it had negative impacts on the flowering and fruiting of cashew trees, but well-cared-for cashew plantations have fewer harmful pests and diseases and cashew yield is still high. The Department recommended that farmers need to take care of their cashew plantations regularly and should not abuse pesticides. Especially, they should use the right drugs and dosage, choose safe plant protection drugs for the trees, ensure health for people, and reduce care costs.

Mr. Tran Quoc Tuan, Director of the Statistics Office of Dong Nai Province, said that the whole province has about 36,000 hectares of cashew trees, down nearly 14,000 hectares compared to 2010. Farmers continue to chop down cashew trees to switch to other crops with higher economic efficiency, due to low cashew prices and its dependence on the weather.

According to the agricultural sector of Dong Nai Province, cashew can be grown in sloping areas, especially in ethnic minority areas and remote areas. Cashew is still considered as a crop for hunger eradication and poverty alleviation and key crop. The industry will carry out solutions to remove difficulties for farmers, such as finding and expanding the consumption markets, supporting and encouraging people to apply scientific and technical advances in production to improve productivity, quality, and promote deep processing.

Binh Phuoc Province is facing the situation of selling young cashew in the ethnic minority areas. If there were only 482 households selling young cashew, with a total area of 683.75 hectares for VND28.8 billion in 2017, there were 663 households last year, with a total area of 1,161.13 hectares for more than VND37.5 billion, concentrated in Bu Dang and Bu Gia Map districts. To stop this situation, the provincial People's Committee has instructed authorities to focus on propaganda about the forms and tricks of the subjects who buy young cashew to raise awareness for farmers to prevent frauds that lead to debts, foreclosure, and loss of cultivation land.

US$491 million to be invested in market stabilization program in 2021-2022

According to the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Industry and Trade, six banks and credit institutions are registered in the market stabilization program for the period 2021-2022 with a total of VND11,346 billion (US$491 million) to support businesses to prepare goods for the program.

Enterprises with the demand for bank loans will be connected with credit institutions with long-term interest rates ranging from 6.5 percent to 11.3 percent a year and short-term interest rate of 4.5 percent per year to invest in livestock and production activities, technology renovation and development of distribution systems and goods storage.

The paymen term of loans and interest rates will be based on the agreement between the credit institutions and enterprises under the market stabilization program.

Besides, the Department of Industry and Trade also encouraged businesses to use their capital, strengthen linkage and cooperation between manufacturing enterprises and distributors to be loaned for production, ensure plentiful goods, stable prices and raise the competitiveness of subsidized products.

HCMC’s outlying district calls for investment in 17,000 hectares of land

HCMC’s outlying district of Cu Chi has called on enterprises to invest in 17,000 hectares of agricultural land in the district, according to the district government.

The district also expected investors to develop a port to serve the agriculture sector and three to four ports for urban ecotourism, invest in 2,500 hectares of land in the Tay Bac Urban Area and ecotourist sites along the Saigon River, Thanh Nien Online newspaper reported.

The district government has sought to convert 10 areas along the river into ecotourist sites and increase the population target in the areas to 200,000 people and the construction density to 35%-40% to attract investors.

According to the district, last year, it accomplished 15 of 20 socioeconomic development targets. This year, it will strive to meet 20 socioeconomic development and urban environment protection targets.

It will develop the supporting, healthcare and biology sectors, services serving industries, ecotourism in association with agriculture, logistics and river ports and hi-tech agriculture.

The district will implement planning in a modern manner and develop an underground space to serve 1.2 million residents by 2030.

To execute the socioeconomic development plan for this year, the district government proposed the municipal government and the relevant departments and agencies quickly issue a land use plan for 2021-2030.

The district also urged the completion of adjustments to the planning of the Tay Bac Urban Area.

Vinh Long to have VND3-trillion industrial zone

The Mekong Delta province of Vinh Long will develop the Dong Binh industrial zone in Binh Minh Town, with total investment of over VND3 trillion.

The Vinh Long government on April 9 made a decision on the establishment of the industrial park covering 350 hectares of land in the Dong Binh and Dong Thanh communes, Phap Luat Online reported.

The industrial zone project, whose investor is TNI Vinh Long Investment JSC, is set to operate within 50 years.

Once in place, the industrial zone project will focus on attracting investments in the agriculture, food, vegetable and fruit processing, seafood processing, consumption industry, chemical industry and medical equipment production fields, among other sectors which cause less environmental pollution.

As of now, Vinh Long Province is home to five industrial zones--Binh Minh, Hoa Phu, An Dinh, Hoa Phu and Co Chien.

Transport Ministry’s proposal to acquire eight toll roads

The National Assembly’s (NA) Economic Committee has rejected the Ministry of Transport’s proposal to use State cash to acquire eight controversial toll roads built or upgraded under the build-operate-transfer (BOT) format, saying it is unreasonable and dubious and may lead to lawsuits.

The committee has reported the deployment of policies on the investment and operation of traffic infrastructure projects developed under the BOT format.

The eight BOT roads are Bim Son on a bypass in Thanh Hoa Province of the National Highway 1A project, T2 of a project to upgrade National Highway 91 in Can Tho City, Ninh Xuan of the National Highway 26 upgrade project, Cai Lay of a bypass project in Cai Lay Town, tollgates on National Highway 3 of a project to build the Thai Nguyen-Cho Moi road and upgrade a National Highway 3 section, a section of the Ho Chi Minh Road in Daklak Province, the La Son-Tuy Loan Expressway connecting Thua Thien-Hue Province and Danang City and a section from the La Uyen to the Tan De bridges of National Highway 10 in Thai Binh.

As residents had refused to pay toll fees, causing difficulties for investors, the Ministry of Transport proposed using the State budget for the public investment plan in the 2021-2025 period to make payments to investors, following which the tollgates were dismantled.

However, according to the NA’s Economic Committee, it is unreasonable to use State funding to acquire these BOT projects due to the lack of a legal and practical foundation.

Besides these eight projects, the location of the tollgates of some other projects was also unreasonable, but local residents have stopped opposing these projects as they have been offered fee reductions or exemptions.

Therefore, if the State acquires the eight projects listed above, it may affect other projects.

The acquisition will also put pressure on the State budget and go against the State’s guidelines to mobilize funds from the private sector for infrastructure development.

Last year, 42 of 54 BOT projects reported lower revenues than expected. Therefore, the NA’s Economic Committee proposed the NA Standing Committee review the responsibility of the relevant individuals and agencies and ask the competent agencies to remove obstacles facing tollgates and localities to ensure security, social order and the safety of investors’ assets.

EVN’s power from renewable sources reaches nearly 7.8 billion kWh in Jan-Mar

 

The State-run utility Vietnam Electricity Group (EVN) mobilized approximately 7.8 billion kilowatt hours (kWh) of power from renewable energy in the first three months of the year, surging 181% against the 2020 figure. Of this, the amount of electricity from solar energy accounted for over 7.13 billion kWh, according to EVN’s recently-released report.

In the first quarter, the volume of electricity produced in the country and imported from overseas reached some 60 billion kWh, up 4.1% compared to the same period last year. Of the amount, EVN and its subsidiaries generated 29.22 billion kWh, or 49%, while non-EVN businesses were in charge of the remaining volume.

While the amount of power from renewable energy soared sharply, that generated from traditional sources saw a decline.

Among the traditional power sources, more electricity from hydropower plants was supplied to the national power grid, at nearly 14 billion kWh. The volume of electricity generated from coal-fired and gas-fired power plants contracted 12-21% year-on-year at 29.75 billion kWh and 7.44 billion kWh, respectively. Further, imported electricity also plunged 58% versus last year’s figure to 405 million kWh.

The soaring supplies of renewable power have prompted EVN to face a number of obstacles in mobilizing various sources of power. For instance, hydropower generators had to change their capacity flexibly to offset the changes in the volume of renewable power, thus leaving an impact on the power supply at the end of the dry season. Besides, if the capacity of power generators at coal- and gas-fired power plants is activated or changed numerous times, it could lead to possible incidents.

As the volume of electricity from renewable sources now accounts for an increasing proportion and the second quarter will be in the peak dry season, the local power sector will adopt measures to ensure the safe operations of the national power system and local power market, including cutting down on renewable power supplies, EVN said.

Vietnamese overseas enterprises desire to further connect with Lam Dong Province

The Ho Chi Minh City Committee for Overseas Vietnamese Affairs has recently held a meeting between overseas Vietnamese enterprises and leaders of the People's Committee of Lam Dong Province and Lac Duong District to create conditions for overseas businesses to exchange and work with the provincial leaders as well as seek potential markets, promote trade connectivity and investment cooperation in the upcoming time. 

Through Lam Dong Province Tourism, Trade and Investment Promotion Center, the enterprises had an opportunity to learn about some projects which are being implemented as well as calling for investment in the Central Highlands province such as Prenn Waterfall Project, Lien Khuong- Prenn Urban Area Project, Tuyen Lam Lake National Tourist Site Project, etc.

On the occasion, the enterprises desired to not only further cooperate with the Central Highlands province in the fields of high-tech agriculture, human resource training, service and tourists, real estate, etc but also bring local agricultural products to foreign markets. Especially, they were very interested in local agricultural products such as tomatoes, avocado and chili. 

Additionally, some overseas businesses also wanted to cooperate with the province in the cold storage and transportation service, laboratory system establishment for researching new varieties under modern techniques and high-quality human resources training to serve for the locality and connect Lam Dong Province with several cities of foreign countries. 

Besides, the delegation of overseas enterprises also worked with Chairman of the People’s Committee of Lac Duong District Mr. Su Thanh Hoai and the local authorities related to current investment projects in the fields of high-tech agricultural production and tourism. 

In addition to the proposals about investment and export connectivity for local high-tech agricultural products, President of Japanese- Vietnamese Cuisine Association Mr. Matsuo Tomoyuki proposed to become a bridge between Lac Duong District, Lam Dong Province and some localities of Japan, contributing to enhancing the mutual friendship, cultural cooperation and development.

Investment policy for infrastructure in Hoa Lu Industrial Park approved

The People's Committee of Binh Phuoc Province informed that the Prime Minister has just signed Decision No.550/QD-TTg on approving the investment policy of the project of building and trading infrastructure in Hoa Lu Border-Gate Industrial Park.

Hoa Lu Border-Gate Industrial Park covers an area of 348.32 hectares in Loc Tan and Loc Thanh communes in Loc Ninh District, with an investment of nearly VND1.12 trillion. Of which, the capital contribution of the investor is VND170 billion, with the goal of building and trading infrastructure of the industrial park invested by Hoa Lu Binh Phuoc Investment Joint Stock Company.

The People's Committee of Binh Phuoc Province will conduct statistics and land inventory, map the current land use status, and recommend the implementation of the project without public assets. During the implementation process, if public assets are detected in the project, the provincial People's Committee will be responsible for retrieving, handling, and submitting to the competent authority to cancel the investment policy decision issued to the project.

The People's Committee of Binh Phuoc Province will also be in charge of proposing the selection of investors, who meet the conditions of investment, bidding, land, real estate trading, checking, and determining the satisfaction of land lease conditions at the time the project is carried out.

State budget collection reaches US$17.52 billion in Q1 

Vietnam recorded a trade surplus of US$2.67 billion during the period.

Vietnam’s state budget collection in the first quarter of this year stood at VND403.7 trillion (US$17.52 billion), up 0.3% year-on-year and equivalent to 30.1% of the yearly estimate, according to the Ministry of Finance (MoF).

Upon breaking down, domestic revenue made up a lion’s share of the total at VND340.2 trillion (US$14.7 billion), up 1.2% year-on-year or 30% of the estimate. The MoF noted 57 out of 63 provinces/cities fulfilled tax collection targets as scheduled, or over 25% of the estimate.

Meanwhile, state budget expenditures during the January – March period hit VND342 trillion (US$14.84 billion), representing a slight increase of 0.2% year-on-year, or 20.3% of the estimate.

This resulted in the budget surplus of VND61.7 trillion (US$2.67 billion) during the period.

In 2021, the MoF estimated the budget revenue around VND1,343 trillion (US$58 billion) and expenditure VND1,687 trillion (US$72.78 billion). 

Fitch Solutions, a subsidiary of Fitch Group, however expected the country’s fiscal deficit to be narrowed to 3.7% of the GDP.

Such forecast “factors in both a stronger revenue and expenditure outlook against the government’s projections supported by more robust economic activity in 2021 against 2020,” stated Fitch Solutions.

According to Fitch Solution, Vietnam’s budget revenue could rise to VND1,580 trillion (US$68.6 billion), thanks to a continued recovery in economic activity, while expenditure is set to hit VND1,840 trillion (US$79.88 billion).

“A recovery in revenue collection will facilitate looser spending by the government. Capital expenditure disbursement is likely to be quicker in 2021,” Fitch Solutions noted.

Rising livestock exports of Laos creates opportunity for Vietnamese businesses

Animal husbandry makes up the sector which provides one of the top 20 export commodities of Laos, with China and Thailand joining Vietnam currently being the largest markets for Lao exports.

Most notably, the Chinese market significantly contributed to Laos' large livestock export turnover in 2020 at US$7.5 million, with the northern neighbour aiming to meet a quota of purchasing 500,000 cattle annually from Laos.

Furthermore, the Vietnamese market must also import between 300,000 and 400,000 buffaloes and cows from numerous foreign sources as at present Laos is unable to meet this demand.

With huge potential due to being home to large land areas, the Lao livestock industry is expected to grow and thrive in the near future providing that greater investments are poured into it.

Laos is therefore calling on foreign businesses to make investments in the agricultural sector in order to exploit the full potential of land in both Northern and Southern regions to boost large-scale farming and husbandry in order to serve domestic consumption and exports.

When serving as Prime Minister, Party General Secretary and State President of Laos Thongloun Sisulith expressed a strong desire to work closer with the leaders of the Vietnamese Government during meetings between both nations' Intergovernmental Committee. He added that he expects competent agencies to work harder to remove difficulties and promote stronger bilateral co-operation in the agricultural sector, especially in terms of high-tech agriculture.

This can be considered a positive investment co-operation opportunity for Vietnamese businesses in the context that leaders have always paid close attention to reinforcing the great friendship, special solidarity, and comprehensive partnership between Vietnam and Laos.

Da Nang ready to welcome foreign tourists with vaccine passports

Da Nang City's Department of Tourism has selected a total of 10 travel agencies who can receive international arrivals in the near future, providing that the Government gives the go ahead to welcome travelers who have vaccine passports.

Local authorities have also chosen a variety of tourist destinations within Da Nang which can run suitable tours.

Nguyen Xuan Binh, deputy director of the central city's Department of Tourism, says welcoming the return of foreign travelers is one of many measures being implemented in an effort to revive the local tourism industry, with safety being the leading top during the world’s ongoing battle against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Moving forward, the municipal administration is set to receive delegations from the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) and the Vietnam Tourism Association who will conduct a thorough survey to detail the capacity of local travel operators when vaccine passports are brought into use.

In line with this, local authorities have initiated plans to hold a webinar aimed at promoting Vietnamese tourism to potential travelers worldwide, with a strong desire to connect Da Nang with various countries which have successfully brought the COVID-19 pandemic under control, Binh notes.   

Due to the damaging impact of the coronavirus pandemic last year, Da Nang welcomed a total of 881,000 foreign arrivals, a drop of by 70% compared to figures from 2019.

Unchecked golf development raises concerns

Experts have expressed concerns over the licensing of too many golf projects in Vietnam. 

According to Pham Thanh Tri, vice chairman of Vietnam Golf Tourism Association, Vietnam now has 75 golf courses, three-quarters of which are owned by Vietnamese investors with the rest are owned by South Korean investors.

"One new golf course project is given a permit every two weeks in Vietnam. At this rate, Vietnam will have 50-100 new golf projects every year. Vinh Phuc authorities have given permits to 10 golf courses and Quang Nam has also planned for 10 new golf courses," he said. "Even though the number of golf courses in Vietnam is still lower compared to the world's average but such mass development in at the same time is worrying."

Too many golf courses may lead to loss of cultivated lands, terrain and underground water changes. In some cases, the golf course is only a highlight of an urban area project. Recently, the government inspectorate has accused Hoa Binh authorities of violating the national golf planning after Hoa Binh authorities reclaimed 61ha out of 140ha reforestation land and assigned Vietnam Forest Corporation to build a golf course.

Former Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Dang Hung Vo acknowledged that golf is a way to boost tourism. However, many investors have used golf projects as a way to do real estate businesses. He went on to say that golf projects are only a part of tourism development planning and the investors do not own the land-use rights.

"Yet many investors avoided the law and earned money by using 10% of the land of the golf projects to build hotels and villas and condo hotels illegally," Vo said. "Why have many golf projects suffered losses but investors still plan on building more and expanding?"

He suggested tightening the regulations so that only 10% of the land will be allowed for golf-related businesses. If necessary, the government should collect taxes at the rate as if the land has been leased to a hotel or urban area projects to avoid budget losses.

Over 100 educational institutions join enrolment and career counselling festival

The 2021 enrolment and career counselling festival officially opened at the Hanoi University of Science and Technology on April 11.

This is an annual activity organised by Tuoi Tre (Youth) Newspaper, the Ministry of Education and Training, and the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, attracting 170 counselling booths of universities, colleges, vocational schools, and foreign language centres.

The event drew the participation of experts from the Ministry of Education and Training, universities, academies, representatives of the Military Admission Committee under the Ministry of Defence, etc.

At the festival, students and parents were provided with the latest information on high school graduation exams and university and college admission exams in 2021; experience on exam review; how to select the right career and school; as well as enrolment methods of universities, colleges and schools, among others.

Students also had a chance access to forecasting information of the needs of human resources of fields and industries in the future, changes in career structure in the context of strong digitalisation.

Kumho to invest over US$300 million in its Vietnam plant

South Korean tiremaker Kumho Tires has announced that it will invest an additional US$305 million to expand its manufacturing plant in Vietnam, enabling the tiremaker to double the facility’s production capacity.

The expansion project will be implemented in two years, starting from the third quarter of this year to the first quarter of 2023.

The plant, which is located in My Phuoc 3 Industrial Park in Binh Duong Province and has been operational for a decade, will be expanded by building more facilities on the vacant lot inside the plant’s compound.

Once complete, the expanded plant is expected to churn out at least 9.3 million tires per year.

Over the past years, Kumko Tire products manufactured in Binh Duong have been shipped to many parts of the world.

Kumho Tires is currently operating a number of tire manufacturing plants globally, but Vietnam is the only Southeast Asian country where the tiremaker has its facility. Aside from its plants in South Korea, Kumho Tires has also set up plants in China and the United States.

With an abundant amount of natural rubber, the surging demand for vehicles, low-cost labor, stable investment environment and other factors, Vietnam has been attracting major tiremakers to set up and expand their businesses.

Early this year, according to the Ministry of Planning and Investment’s Foreign Investment Agency, a Chinese-invested tire factory project in Tay Ninh Province had its investment adjusted upward by over US$312 million. Other large tire manufacturers such as Bridgestone, Yokohama Tyre, Maxxis and Sailun had entered the Vietnamese market, investing in large-scale projects.

US$491 million to be invested in market stabilization program in 2021-2022

According to the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Industry and Trade, six banks and credit institutions are registered in the market stabilization program for the period 2021-2022 with a total of VND11,346 billion (US$491 million) to support businesses to prepare goods for the program.

Enterprises with the demand for bank loans will be connected with credit institutions with long-term interest rates ranging from 6.5 percent to 11.3 percent a year and short-term interest rate of 4.5 percent per year to invest in livestock and production activities, technology renovation and development of distribution systems and goods storage.

The paymen term of loans and interest rates will be based on the agreement between the credit institutions and enterprises under the market stabilization program.

Besides, the Department of Industry and Trade also encouraged businesses to use their capital, strengthen linkage and cooperation between manufacturing enterprises and distributors to be loaned for production, ensure plentiful goods, stable prices and raise the competitiveness of subsidized products.

Khau Vai Love Market to open in May

The Khau Vai Love Market 2021, a unique cultural practice of local residents in Khau Vai commune in Meo Vac district of the northern mountainous province of Ha Giang, is scheduled to be held from May 6-8.

The love market, which is located about 200km far from the province's centre, has been held once every year on the 27th day of the third lunar month, attracting thousands of visitors.

Under the theme “The love songs fair”, this year’s festival will feature an array of activities showcasing the most typical cultural features of local ethnic minority people.

There will be a beauty contest, an incense offering ceremony at Ong Temple, rituals to pray for peace, along with folk games, among others.

Organisers said the market offers a chance to promote local tourism, notably Dong Van Karst Plateau - a UNESCO Global Geopark.

The Khau Vai Love Market is a popular attraction in Ha Giang. On the 27th day of the third lunar month, local ethnic women and men put on their best traditional costumes and go to the market where they are free to meet their former lovers in public.

Husbands and wives arrive at the market together and start looking for their past partners among the crowd. Spouses do not get angry or jealous because the meeting at the market is supposed to be a temporary moment and does not affect their daily lives or relationship.

According to folklore, a man and a woman were deeply in love but were forbidden to be together because they were from different ethnic groups. A violent conflict later took place between the two tribes, resulting in bloodshed for both. To stop the fierce fight, the couple decided to part ways with broken hearts. They, however, promised to meet once every year in the market in Khau Vai commune on the day.

Ha Giang has been an attractive destination among visitors for its stunning landscapes and diverse cultural values.

Among popular tourism destinations are the Dong Van Karst Plateau Global Geopark, Lung Cu Flag Pole, Ma Pi Leng Peak and Dong Van Town Old Quarter.

Hanoi: Additional 23.7 billion VND raised for sea, island fund

As much as 23.7 billion VND (over 1 million USD) was donated by 119 organisations and agencies in Hanoi for the Fund for Vietnam’s Sea and Islands on April 12.

The donations were collected at the launching ceremony for this year’s second donation drive to raise money for the Fund, held by the Vietnam Fatherland Front (VFF) committee of Hanoi.

From February 3, the city’s VFF committee has received more than 35.7 billion VND from 162 organisations and agencies for the Fund.

Chairwoman of the committee Nguyen Lan Huong said that warm response to the drive was a vivid illustration for Hanoians’ love for soldiers and officers in Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelago.

She expressed his hope that the Fund will receive widely support from local citizens and organisations.

A working group from the city, led by Vice Secretary of the municipal Party Committee Nguyen Van Phong, will visit Truong Sa archipelago and DK1 Platform from April 12 to 20.

Earlier, more than 12 billion VND was mobilised for the Fund by 73 organisations in the city in the first donation drive.

The money will be used to build a cultural house on Thuyen Chai A island in Truong Sa archipelago, and organise a number of “For Vietnam’s sea and islands” activities.

Publication on historic outer space journey debuts

The Vietnamese version of the archival publication “Chuyến du hành vũ trụ lịch sử” (Historic outer space journey) debuted in Hanoi on April 12, marking the 40th anniversary of the first Vietnamese astronaut Pham Tuan’s flight to space and the 60th anniversary of Yu.A.Gagarin’s spaceflight.

Speaking at the event, Director of the State Records and Archives Department Dang Thanh Tung said following the establishment of diplomatic ties, Vietnam and former Soviet signed a number of cooperation agreements, treaties and conventions in the fields of economy, trade, culture, education, science-technology and army, including aviation and astronautics.

The 130-page publication is a joint effort between the State Records and Archives Department and the Federal Archival Agency of Russia. It features outstanding documents and photos chosen by the Russian State Archive of Socio-Political History, the State Records And Archives Management Department’s National Archives Centre III, Vietnam News Agency and astronaut Pham Tuan.

Its Russian version was published last year.

Role of female NA deputies discussed

To raise the rate of female deputies to the National Assembly (NA) and all-level People’s Councils requires strong, synchronous, and effective solutions as well as political resolve and efforts from female candidates, a meeting in central Da Nang city on April 12 heard.

According to Nguyen Thuy Anh, Chairwoman of the NA Committee for Social Affairs and Permanent Vice Chairwoman of the Female NA Deputy Group, legal regulations require that women must account for at least 35 percent of the total number of female candidates for deputy to the NA and all-level People’s Councils.

Although the rate of female deputies to the 14th NA and all-level People’s Councils for 2016-2021 was higher than in the previous tenure, it failed to reach the targeted 30 percent.

The world average rate is currently 25.5 percent, and Vietnam ranked 60th globally in this regard during the 14th tenure and fifth in Southeast Asia, after Timor Leste, Singapore, the Philippines, and Laos, she said.

Anh stressed that Vietnam attaches importance to promoting gender equality and women’s engagement in politics, noting that the country’s constitution, policies, and laws on the matter have created a legal framework for women to play a role in political activities.

Le Thi Nguyet, Vice Chairwoman of the Committee, lauded the contributions of female deputies to the country’s development, especially on issues regarding women, children, gender equality, and social welfare.

During the 14th tenure, they actively contributed opinions on draft laws, thematic supervision reports, and Q&A sessions, she added.

A focus of the meeting was how to improve female candidates’ election campaign skills, towards the goal of having more women representatives in elected bodies.

Ninh Thuan cooperatives link up with firms to sell farm produce

Agriculture cooperatives in the south-central province of Ninh Thuan have linked up with companies to increase product value and guarantee outlets, the province's Department of Agriculture and Rural Development has said.

Up to 24 of the province’s 63 agriculture cooperatives have linkages with companies to develop value chains for their products like rice, corn, grapes, asparagus and organic cashew nuts.

The 24 cooperatives produce agricultural products on large-scale fields that use advanced farming techniques.

Many products of the cooperatives have been granted international standard certificates from the EU and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Vietnamese good agricultural practices (VietGAP).

The Tuan Tu General Service Cooperative in Ninh Phuoc district’s An Hai commune grows asparagus on a large-scale field to VietGAP standards and has a farm contract with Tien Tien Organic Agriculture Farm to guarantee outlets for its members.

Hung Ky, director of the Tuan Tu General Service Cooperative, said: “The cooperative supplies loans and fertilisers to its members to grow asparagus and teaches them techniques to produce safe, quality products."

The agriculture cooperatives' products have been included in the country’s "one commune – one product" (OCOP) programme in the province.

OCOP products are commercial products and services such as food and beverages, handicrafts and rural tourism services. They are classified at five levels, with a five – star being the highest level.

Dang Kim Cuong, Director of the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and deputy chairman of the appraisal board for the province’s OCOP programme, said that seven cooperatives participated in the province’s OCOP programme last year.

The cooperative’s products like red onion, fresh jujube, dried jujube and asparagus are rated three or four-star OCOP products.

The province is promoting OCOP products in combination with tourism services via cooperatives, companies and households.

The Thai An General Agriculture Service Cooperative in Ninh Hai district’s Vinh Hai commune had its NH01 - 152 grape recognised as a four-star OCOP product last year, and its NH01 - 152 grape growing area has become a tourism destination.

Nguyen Khac Phong, director of Thai An, said the province had assigned the co-operative to expand the cultivation of its NH01 – 152 grape to serve tourism services.

Besides its NH01 – 152 grape, Thai An has other seven products, including dried jujube, dried grape, and fresh red grape and grape wine, granted as three-star OCOP products.

“The co-operative’s OCOP products have created motivation for the co-operative to promote production and expand its market,” he said.

With their effective operation, the provinces’ agriculture cooperatives had an average revenue of 2.1 billion VND (90,000 USD) and average profit of 250 million VND (10,800 USD) last year, up 9.4 percent and 13.6 percent, respectively, against 2019, according to the province’s Co-operative Alliance.

Collective economy

Ninh Thuan targets that its collective economy will contribute 8.8 – 9 percent of its gross regional domestic product (GRDP) this year, according to the provincial People’s Committee.

The province aims to establish 10 – 12 new cooperatives and 10 – 15 new co-operative groups, with a total of 200 – 300 members, this year.

Its goal is to have average revenue of 2.2 – 2.25 billion VND (95,000 – 97,200 USD) this year for cooperatives and an average revenue of 260 – 270 million VND for cooperative groups.

It also plans to have 50 – 60 percent of cooperatives operating effectively by 2025, and for the collective economy to contribute 10 – 11 percent of its gross regional domestic product (GRDP) in 2025.

The province will encourage the development of cooperatives in agriculture, small industry, commerce and services, and promote effective new-style cooperatives, and cooperatives that link up with companies to produce agricultural products on large-scale fields with value chains.

Tran Quoc Nam, Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee, said: “The province will help cooperatives to access the central and local governments’ preferential policies on land, loans, infrastructure, human resource training, and advanced techniques for production.”

It will also arrange trade promotions at home and abroad to expand markets for products of cooperatives.

Ninh Thuan, which has the least rainfall in the country, has developed 12 specifically identified products, including grape, jujube, asparagus, sheep, goat, Ca Na fish sauce, My Nghiep brocade products and Bau Truc pottery products./.

Source: VNA/VNS/VOV/VIR/SGT/Nhan Dan/Hanoitimes  

 
 

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