Fitch affirms 'BB' ratings on EVN, EVNNPT, PVN; revises outlooks to stable


Fitch Ratings has revised the Vietnam Oil and Gas Group's outlook to stable from positive. Photo PVN

Fitch Ratings has affirmed issuer default ratings and senior unsecured ratings of Vietnam Electricity (EVN), National Power Transmission Corporation (EVNNPT) and Vietnam Oil and Gas Group (PVN) at 'BB'.

However, the rating agency has revised the three companies' outlooks to stable from positive.

According to Fitch, EVN's ratings reflect its standalone credit profile (SCP), which is at the same level as the Viet Nam sovereign rating. Under Fitch's Government-related entities rating criteria (GERC), EVN's ratings will be equalised to that of the sovereign in case of any weakening in its SCP given the company's strong linkages with the state.

PVN's ratings are capped by those of the sovereign under Fitch's GERC given the company's strong linkages with the State. PVN's SCP is assessed at 'bb+'.

A factor that could, individually or collectively, lead to the upgrade of EVN and PVN is positive rating action on the sovereign, provided the likelihood of State support does not deteriorate significantly, Fitch said.

EVNNPT's ratings are based on the consolidated profile of EVN, which owns 100 per cent of EVNNPT, in line with Fitch's parent and subsidiary rating linkage criteria. The consolidated rating approach is driven by strong linkages between EVNNPT and its parent. EVNNPT's SCP is assessed at 'bb+'.

MoIT requests Hai Phong to create favourable conditions to transport goods

The Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) on Monday requested Hai Phong City People's Committee to ensure smooth goods transport of trading enterprises and logistics services coming to and from the city while implementing the COVID-19 pandemic prevention activities.

The ministry said during the Prime Minister's Directive 16/CT-TTg on preventing and controlling the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Hai Phong City has been given urgent tasks, especially strengthening control of drivers of trucks coming to and from Hai Phong City.

However, the measures have caused difficulties for manufacturing, import-export and logistics enterprises in transporting goods to and from the Hai Phong Port, the largest port in the North of Viet Nam.

According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, Hai Phong is a centrally-run city in a strategic location of the Northern key economic region, converging favourable factors for industrial production, trading and logistics.

The ministry has requested Hai Phong authority to create good conditions for transport goods as well as goods for production during the pandemic, aiming to boost exports and hit economic growth targets.

The ministry has also asked Hai Phong to review taxes and fees as well as reducing transport costs, including toll, parking fees and infrastructure fees. That is considered as an efficient support for the enterprises during the pandemic period.

The ministry has proposed Hai Phong raises any problems they face in implementing disease prevention that have affected trade.

At present, the ministry and other ministries and sectors have carried out measures to ease problems. This would help enterprises maintain their production and prepare all resource for resuming production growth after the pandemic.

At the same time, the ministry has been managing import and export activities in combination with the domestic market to ensure a stable supply for exports and domestic goods consumption. —

EVN power supply rises in first quarter

Electricity of Viet Nam’s production and import of power increased by 6.3 per cent year-on-year in the first quarter, ensuring safe and uninterrupted supply is available amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

A report by the State power distribution company showed that total power output was 57.29 billion kWh.

Domestic production was 49.28 billion kWh, a 6.47 per cent increase.

Renewable energy accounted for 2.76 billion kWh, including 2.31 billion kWh from solar energy, 28 times up from the same period of last year.

Ninety large-scale solar energy projects with the capacity of 4.500 MW were operated commercially last year.

Coal-fired thermal power accounted for 33.91 billion kWh, an increase of 21.3 per cent, and hydroelectricity for 8.93 billion kWh, a 30.4 per cent decrease.

The water flow to hydropower reservoirs across the country was low.

Large hydroelectric plants such as Hoa Binh, Ialy and Tri An are expected to be expanded in this year.

EVN is building 18 grids after completing 22 others in the first quarter with a capacity of 110-500kV. But the work faces difficulties due to several reasons including the COVID-19 pandemic.

EVN has asked customers to use online services when they want to register for electricity connections or make changes to prevent the spread of disease.

In March nearly 745,000 people used them.

EVN has urged the Ministry of Industry and Trade to subsidise power for all users by 10 per cent for the next three months.

The ministry has agreed and will soon announce whether the reduction will apply for April-June or May-July.

Vinachem asks to apply 0% tax rate to fertiliser products

The Viet Nam National Chemical Group (Vinachem) has sent a document to Viet Nam Fertiliser Association, asking the National Assembly to add fertiliser to the list of products subjected to value added tax (VAT).

The group suggested to impose a VAT rate of between 0 and 5 per cent.

Vinachem proposed to amend Law No. 71/2014 /QH13 on some articles of tax, which took effect on January 1, 2015.

That the law clarified fertiliser products are free from VAT, which also means that fertiliser firms can no longer deduct the VAT they paid for inputs.

Consequently, domestic fertiliser production costs increased. Therefore, businesses must increase the price of fertiliser, meaning the price cannot be reduced for farmers.

Increasing domestic fertiliser production costs is detrimental in terms of market competition with imported fertilisers, especially those imported from China, according to experts.

Vinachem said that subjecting fertiliser products to VAT is in compliance with current laws and international commitments on trade protection, ensuring a healthy and equal competitive environment and the interests of businesses and farmers and the country.

If fertiliser products are subjected to 0 per cent VAT, the products will be sold at a pre-tax price plus zero VAT, which means output VAT submitted to the State is zero.

Enterprises still received a VAT refund for inputs, which will reduce fertiliser production costs and allow the opportunity to reduce prices in the market.

If fertiliser is subjected to 5 per cent VAT, which is also output VAT paid by enterprises to the State, their input VAT will still be refunded.

"In both cases above, both domestically produced fertilisers and imported fertilisers are subject to the same VAT rate, creating an equality between domestic and imported ones," Vinachem said.

In its dispatch to the Viet Nam Fertiliser Association on the issue, Vinachem also emphasised that, in both cases above, the State did not have to spend money to support businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic, but only adjust policies so that the production and business activities of domestic fertiliser producers are equal to foreign ones.

HCM City’s tax revenues fall well short of target

Ho Chi Minh City’s daily tax revenues have fallen by 31 percent in the first quarter of this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee Nguyen Thanh Phong has said.

Phong told an online meeting last week that the revenues had fallen to 947 billion VND (40 million USD) against a target of 1.64 trillion VND (69.4 million USD).

The outbreak greatly affected the country’s socio-economy, especially the city’s and its services and industrial sectors, he said

Its economy grew by just 0.42 percent in the period, down from around 7 percent a year ago.

The worst affected of the city’s sectors are services and tourism. The number of foreign visitors fell by 42.2 percent year-on-year.

The number of new enterprises decreased by 15.7 percent. The flow of foreign direct investment (FDI) was down a third to 1.05 billion USD.

But Phong promised that after the pandemic subsides, there would be no outbreaks or community spread and the city would come up with solutions to foster priority sectors including tourism and services to ensure growth resumes.

It would also promote the use of information technology, reform the administration, stimulate tourism demand, control the consumer market and ensure people’s essential needs are met, help businesses access support packages, and accelerate the rate of public investment, he added.

VinFast secures exemption from import tax on parts for exported cars

VinFast, Vietnam’s first electric car manufacturer, has been approved for exemption from import tax on parts to manufacture and assemble automobiles to export for testing, following a the proposal of the Ministry of Finance.

VinFast will be one of the special cases under the Law on Export and Import Tax and Decree No.134/2016/ND-CP on guidelines for the law on export and import duties.

As of now, VinFast imports parts and components to assemble finished cars and then export them overseas for testing. This move is to facilitate its long-term plan to export luxury cars.

In December 2019, international media reported that billionaire Pham Nhat Vuong had plans to export electric cars to the US in 2021 and that he would spend $2 billion of his own fortune to realise this plan. This cost makes up half of the total capital in VinFast.

In late March 2020, VinFast submitted its financial statement to the Hanoi Stock Exchange, which reported a loss of VND5.7 trillion ($247.83 million) last year. Besides, the company has an equity capital of VND19.45 trillion ($845.65 million).

VinFast established a technical arm in Melbourne in preparation for dipping a toe in the Australian market. The company, in addition to having an eye on Holden, the legendary car brand that is about to close down in Australia, also expressed interest in acquiring the design and engineering facilities of General Motors (GM) Australia, including the Lang Lang testing system which is in the same situation as Holden.

In addition, the company is in the process of completing necessary procedures to start selling cars in Russia. The source did not reveal a timeframe for when this would happen.

In order to draw attention in the international market, VinFast launched two car models at the Paris Motor Show 2018 just a year after the company’s incorporation. These two car models were both based on BMW design and powertrain. Both are powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine and an 8-speed automatic transmission. Currently, both two models have been launched to the market.

FPT lowers sales plan due to COVID-19 despite surging revenue

At its recent annual general shareholders' meeting, the FPT Board of Managers announced that the technology giant is mulling over dropping this year’s sales plan by 15 per cent to better align with the economic fallout though it finished the first three months with rather upbeat performance.

FPT recorded net revenue rising by 16 per cent on-year to VND6.57 trillion ($285.65 million), while its net profit surged by 19 per cent on-year to VND945 billion ($41.1 million) at the end of 2020’s first quarter.

The technology giant also targets a 17.1 per cent rise in net revenue to reach VND32.45 trillion ($1.41 billion) and pre-tax profit increasing 18.1 per cent on-year to VND5.51 trillion ($239.57 million) at the end of 2020, according to VNDIRECT. However, its online advertising arm has been particularly vulnerable to the pandemic, since it has been hit hard due to shrinking demand for advertisements.

Specifically, some of FPT’s most important export markets such as Japan and the US have also been hit hard by the pandemic. Thus, weak growth might well persist in the forthcoming time.

Experts also raised concerns over potential risks to FPT, including intensified competition in the telecommunications segment. Accordingly, FPT could lose market share to Viettel and VNPT in fixed broadband, in addition to the firm’s software revenue (mostly from foreign markets) being exposed to foreign exchange challenges.

On the bright side, the firm’s strategy for the next five years, which revolves around digital transformation, is slated to boost its profit margins. For example, FPT invested in upgrading the optical infrastructure in the remaining areas and expanding its coverage to gain new subscribers (although average revenue per user, or ARPU, my decline), according to Yuanta Securities. The substantial demand for software solutions from enterprises across the globe is also a silver lining in the global recession.

The Board of Directors also approved the 2019 cash dividend payment of 20 per cent, which is VND2,000 per share (8.7 US cents). What is more, 10 per cent cash dividend was already paid last year, and the remainder will be paid in the second quarter of 2020.

On the other hand, the payment of 2019 dividend by shares (15 per cent of 678.3 million outstanding common stock) is also expected in the coming time.

This year, FPT will also maintain its dividend policy of 20 per cent cash dividend.

Thailand's banks get approval to expand operation in Myanmar

Thailand’s two major commercial banks - Kasikornbank and Siam Commercial Bank (SCB) - have received permission to expand operation in Myanmar.

Kasikornbank said on April 11 that it plans to invest up to 40 million USD in a 35 percent stake in Myanmar’s Ayeyarwaddy Farmers Development Bank after receiving approval from Myanmar’s central bank.

The investment will be done through its unit Kasikorn Vision, which has a budget of 14 billion baht (428 million USD) for overseas business opportunities.

Meanwhile, SCB, the country's fourth-largest lender by assets, has won preliminary approval for a subsidiary business licence in Myanmar, targeting 7 billion baht in loans in the first five years of operation.

The bank expects to set up the subsidiary and begin operations by the end of 2020, said Chairman and Chief Executive Arthid Nanthawithaya.

The licence enables the bank to open a subsidiary bank 100-percent-owned by SCB and provide the same comprehensive commercial banking services as branches in Thailand. A subsidiary licence allows branches in 10 major business areas.

SCB has had a representative office in Myanmar since 2012.

The bank is ready to provide total financial solutions to corporate, small-business, and retail clients in the neighbouring country and to use Myanmar as a strategic country for expanding the international business network, Arthid said.

In the initial phase, SCB will focus on catering to Thai corporate clients with existing investments in Myanmar and others who want to explore trade and investment there.

More than 100 Thai business operators are investing in Myanmar with SCB support. The bank's clients operate in a broad range of sectors, including consumer products, energy, industrial estates, manufacturing and agro-industry.

Arthid said SCB stands ready to bridge trade and investment between Thailand and Myanmar, as well as regional trade within the CLMV 2 countries (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam, China and Singapore).

Foreign banks are allowed three licence types in Myanmar: establishment of a commercial bank as a subsidiary, foreign bank branch and equity participation with a local bank.

Thailand has cumulative permitted investment in Myanmar of about 11 billion USD and is the third-largest investor after Singapore and China.

Thailand is also Myanmar's second-biggest trade partner after China, with trade value of 7.6 billion USD in 2019./.

Conference discusses incentives for solar power growth in Vietnam

The Green Innovation and Development Centre (GreenID) hosted an online conference in Hanoi on April 11 on the second phase of the feed-in-tariff (FIT 2) and policies for the development of solar power in Vietnam after 2020.

The event aimed to discuss the significance of designated incentives for the growth of solar power in Vietnam from the perspective of stakeholders and chalk out the pros and cons of the Prime Minister’s Decision No.13/2020/QD-TTg on the mechanism for encouragement of the industry in the country, according to GreenID Director Nguy Thi Khanh.

Decision No.13/2020/QD-TTg was issued last week to replace the Decision No. 11/2017/QD-TTg dated 11 April 2017 which expired on June 30 last year. The new decision will be effective from May 22 this year and only valid for six months.

Hereby, recommendations would be made for the growth of the solar power industry to match its potential and values it can contribute to the society after 2020, she added.

Over the last two years since Decision 11/2017/QD-TTg was launched, Vietnam has been seeing a boom in solar power, making it a leader in Southeast Asia’s solar photovoltaic (PV) market. Data shows that as of the end of last June, the country’s cumulative solar PV installation reached nearly 4.464 MW.

According to the Electricity of Vietnam (EVN), rooftop solar PV projects in the country have generated a total of 25.459 MW by the end of February 2020.

Participants voiced concerns over Decision No.13/2020/QD-TTg’s period of validity which might not be enough to make changes and support the development of the domestic solar power sector, particularly against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic which is ravaging globally and taking heavy toll on most of enterprises and workers.

Some proposed ways to extend the decision’s validity of support policies for rooftop solar PV projects and its effective should be further discussed for the recommendations to be sent to relevant authorities as soon as possible./.

Regulation on coordination in settling int’l investment disputes issued

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has signed Decision No. 14/2020/QD-TTg promulgating the Regulation on coordination in the resolution of international investment disputes.

The Regulation prescribes the principles, tasks, power and process of coordination among state agencies, organisations and individuals concerned in settling international investment disputes through international arbitration or at other tribunals outside Vietnam.

It does not apply to the settlement of investment complaints at arbitration centres, courts, agencies and organisations of Vietnam according to Vietnam’s law.

Regarding the principles of coordination, the leadership agency, the legal representative agency of the Government, and relevant agencies, organisations and individuals are responsible for promoting full, effective and timely coordination in handling international investment disputes pursuant to the provisions of the Regulation and the Vietnamese law to optimally protect the lawful rights and interests of the Government and state agencies of Vietnam.

The leadership agency, the legal representative agency of the Government, and relevant agencies, organisations and individuals are also obliged to keep State secrets and conceal the information and documents obtained during the process of dispute settlement, in accordance with the provisions in international arbitral proceedings and the provisions of Vietnam’s law.

The leadership agency, the legal representative of the Government, and relevant agencies, organisations and individuals must take responsibility before the law for the consequences incurred by their failure to coordinate in line with the aforementioned principles.

The Regulation specifies the contents of coordination, including the exchange of information and documents among relevant agencies in the process of settling foreign investors’ complaints, denunciations and problems in order to prevent international investment disputes.


In addition, the agencies concerned coordinate in the resolution of international investment disputes through appointing their competent persons to join the intersectoral working group on dispute settlement at the request of the leadership agency, as well as to participate in negotiating and mediating international investment disputes, designing and implementing the strategy and roadmap for dispute handling, and collecting and providing information, records, evidences and documents serving the settlement of international investment disputes.

These authorised individuals are also in charge of dealing with contents related to judgments and decisions by international arbitrators, and performing other affairs in the resolution of international investment disputes./.

Thailand plans new borrowing worth 30.6 billion USD

Thailand’s Finance Ministry said it will explore domestic and foreign funding options for planned borrowing of 1 trillion baht (30.6 million USD) to finance a major economic stimulus programme.

The debt is a key element of a 1.9-trillion-baht package to help low-income households, farmers and companies reeling from the impact of the COVID-19. According to the Bank of Thailand, Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy may contract 5.3 percent this year.

Patricia Mongkhonvanit, Director-General of the ministry’s Public Debt Management Office, said the country is exploring all possibilities. The sum won’t be borrowed all at once, but proceeded gradually, as the funding need arises, she added.

Patricia said the Finance Ministry is looking at a mix of instruments, including government bonds, treasury bills, promissory notes, term loans and savings bonds. Tapping international organisations like the Asian Development Bank and foreign debt markets are also options, she noted.

The objective is mainly to tap the local market first, she said, adding that there is ample domestic liquidity and demand for Thai products.

A pending executive decree will permit the fund-raising efforts to run through September 2021, a time-frame designed to give Thai officials flexibility since the duration of the outbreak is uncertain./.

Dong Nai province strives to help firms join support industry chain

Domestic firms in the southern province of Dong Nai are finding it hard to join the supply chain providing products to the support industry, according to the local People’s Committee.

There is still an absence of connectivity between foreign direct investment (FDI) firms and domestic support industry ones, the office said, adding most of the FDI firms in the support industry rely on the components or accessories they produce by themselves or imports.

In order to develop the support industry, Dong Nai authorities will, from now to 2025, focus on helping firms broaden their markets, match supply with demand, connect them to support firms, and train their personnel to meet the requirements by support industry firms.

Special help will come in the form of support in terms of infrastructure use fee at industrial zones and complexes for small- and medium-sized enterprises, it said.

Besides Ho Chi Minh City, Dong Nai province is another sizable economic hub in the south of Vietnam./.

Vietnam's cement market continues with slow growth amid COVID-19 pandemic

The outbreak of COVID-19 in the world and Vietnam hit the cement industry in the first half of 2020. The country's cement demand is expected to be slow as countries implement various levels of isolation and quarantines, leading to reduced residential demand for buildings and keeping workers home.

According to FiinResearch’s Vietnam Cement Market Report 2020, after reaching the record growth of 16.4 per cent in 2018, clinker and cement on-year sales growth shrank to only 3.2 per cent in 2019 due to the slowdown in both domestic and export markets.

Particularly, Vietnam began a 14-day nationwide social distancing from 1 April, resulting in the suspension of the construction of residential, commercial, and hospitality projects in big cities. In fact, domestic sales of cement recorded an on-year decline by 5 per cent while the total clinker and cement export volume reached 6.6 million tonnes for the first three months of 2020, posting a sharp decrease by 17 per cent compared to the same period last year.

As a response to the negative impact of COVID-19, the government will provide the credit stimulus package of VND250 trillion ($10.87 billion) and fiscal stimulus package of VND30 trillion ($1.3 billion) to reduce to the negative impact of COVID-19 on the economy and support economic recovery after the disease outbreak. In addition, the government has committed to boosting public investment disbursement in 2020. On March 12, the government agreed, in principle, to convert three North-South Expressway projects which were initially planned to be executed under the public-private partnership (PPP) model into public investment projects to accelerate public fund disbursement and support economic growth.

FiinResearch assesses a moderate outlook for the domestic cement market thanks to the government's commitment to boost public investment packages in 2020 to reduce the COVID 19 impacts on the economy, as well as expected improvements in residential real estate with launches in the second half of the year thanks to the support from the local authorities to accelerate the licensing process as well as to solve other legal difficulties faced by property developers.

Meanwhile, cement export markets have a negative outlook due to limited demand from key export markets, especially China, Bangladesh, and the Philippines.

The report also pointed out that the designed capacity of the Vietnamese cement industry is expected to surge in the next four years thanks to the aggressive expansion by local private players including Tan Thang, Thanh Thang, Long Thanh, and Vissai. Especially, the year 2021 is expected to witness a significant increase in cement supply thanks to the completion of five large projects.

FiinResearch forecasts domestic cement sales volume to increase by 1 per cent in 2020 and follow 4 per cent CAGR in 2021-2030 thanks to the recovery of infrastructure development, as well as the residential, commercial, and industrial real estate segments in Vietnam.

Vietnam promotes medical supply exports to support international fight against COVID-19

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc urged the Ministry of Industry and Trade to increase support and push up the export of several medical supplies, including antibacterial and anti-drop face masks, to countries in need, particularly those in Europe and the United States.

This is part of the prime minister’s conclusion speech at a recent government meeting reviewing measures in combating COVID-19.

On recent days, customers from different markets such as the US, EU, Spain, and most recenty Russia and Canada have voiced the rising demand to import medical supplies, such as protective gear, gloves, and face masks to serve the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nguyen Thi Thu Thuy, deputy director of the Vietnam Trade Promotion Agency under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, has told the media that customers from different markets have continuously asked about the capacity for medical supplies provision from Vietnamese companies.

For instance, the Russian market would need one million sets of single-use protective gear, more than five million medical face masks, one million anti-bacterial masks, two million fabric-made masks, 100,000 protective glasses, one million medical blouses, and more for shipping to Saint-Petersburg.

"Vietnamese businesses need to pay due regard to preparing legitimate papers showing the products are eligible for exportation from Vietnam, plus other necessary documents when anchoring at Saint-Peterburg port," Thuy noted.

Facilitating the export of fabric masks and other measures aims to support local businesses that are short of export orders as many of them were delayed or cancelled due to the pandemic.

In addition, the Canadian market is showing demand for millions of medical supplies, such as single-use N95 face masks, single-use surgical masks, nitrile gloves, vinyl gloves, medical blouses, and protective medical gear, hand sanitiser, and protective eyewear, among others.

Functional Canadian bodies will take the initiative in selecting the export firms and soon contact businesses meeting their demands.

Earlier, the government enacted Resolution No.20/NQ-CP dated February 28, 2020 on licensing the export of medical masks during the COVID-19 epidemic.

Accordingly, the Ministry of Health shall provide licences allowing the export of medical face masks while the country is combating COVID-19 with the purpose of providing aid and international support on behalf of the Vietnamese government.

This policy does not apply to the export business of export-processing enterprises having acquired investment certificates and those engaged in processing medical masks for foreign clients on contracts signed before March 1, 2020.

Right after the enactment of the resolution, the Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association (Vitas) has reported rising orders for fabric-made face masks.

The General Department of Customs has also improved processes in checking the export of fabric-made face masks to facilitate business activities during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Facilitating the export of fabric masks and other measures aims to support local businesses that are short of export orders as many of them were delayed or cancelled due to the pandemic.

Of the proposed measures to help textile and garment makers weather difficulties in the current context, The Vitas has sought the government's permission to allow those in the sector to engage in production and export of items serving the fight against COVID-19 to partly cover expenses in these difficult circumstances.

Vietjet's POWER PASS accounts launched with free air tickets available

Low-cost carrier Vietjet has launched its POWER PASS accounts that will allow passengers to fly on unlimited routes with Vietjet on 45 routes covering Vietnam.

Two types of POWER PASS accounts are available for passengers to purchase at or POWER PASS Sky6 is priced at 8.99 million VND (386 USD) for passengers for domestic flights until the end of September 30,2020, while POWER PASS Sky12 card is priced at 16.99 million VND (730 USD) for passengers to book domestic flights until the end of March 31, 2021 (except for Lunar New Year).

POWER PASS offers free tickets (excluding taxes, fees and additional add-on services), 15kg of checked baggage and 7kg of hand luggage. There is no limit to the number of domestic flights passengers can take during the validity of their passes, it said.

The airline is giving away 200 POWER PASS accounts with discounts of up to 50 per cent for lucky passengers. Gifts worth 299,000 VND each will be also given to all passengers paying via HDBank's new credit and international payment cards. Passengers can also buy POWER PASS at the bank's 285 branches and transaction offices nationwide.

Vietjet is the first airline in Vietnam to operate as a new-age airline offering flexible, cost-saving ticket fares and diversified services to meet customers’ demands. It is a fully-fledged member of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) with the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) certificate.

Vietjet was named “Best Ultra Low-Cost Airline 2018 - 2019” and awarded the highest ranking for safety with 7 stars in 2018 by the world’s only safety and product rating website The airline has also been listed as one of the world's 50 best airlines for healthy financing and operations by Airfinance Journal in 2018.

The airline has also been named as Best Low-Cost Carrier by renowned organisations such as Skytrax, CAPA, Airline Ratings, and many others.

South Korea, Viet Nam eye closer co-operation in supply chain

South Korea and Viet Nam could enhance their co-operation to help Viet Nam become the main link in the supply chains of South Korean businesses, especially in the automobile, electronics and garment and textile sectors.

Insiders made the statement at a video conference on Monday to share ideas on ways to expand economic ties despite the strain caused by the COVID-19 pandemic on global business activities.

South Korean Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy Sung Yun-mo and his Vietnamese counterpart Tran Tuan Anh discussed ways to expand bilateral ties amid the growing economic fallout from the pandemic.

The two sides plan to use regulations to allow businesses to immediately exploit the combined origin of textile materials under the EVFTA, to take advantage of high quality textile and apparel materials from South Korea, serving production and export of Vietnamese textile products to Europe.

In addition, Viet Nam and South Korea will also discuss food security, rice supply, fruit, vegetables and seafood trade amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Anh asked South Korea to accelerate assessments for risk import licensing for Vietnamese red dragon fruits and grapefruit and support activities that distribute Vietnamese goods major South Korean firms like Lotte Mart, E-Mart, Home Plus and CJ Home Shoping.

During the meeting, the South Korean side thanked Viet Nam for enabling some of its residents to enter the country for major business activities amid the pandemic, emphasising that travel by business officials is crucial to maintain the global supply chain.

The two countries also agreed to push for a system which would allow them to process certificates of origin through electronic platforms.

The measure is expected to speed up customs procedures for exporters and prevent forgery of documents, according to the South Korean Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

Viet Nam is the third-largest export destination for South Korea, whose outbound shipments to the Southeast Asian country hit US$48.1 billion in 2019, down 0.9 per cent from a year earlier.

In 2019, South Korea’s overall exports sank more than 10 per cent.

The country’s outbound shipments edged down 0.2 per cent year-on-year last month and plunged up to 18.6 per cent annually to $12.2 billion in the April 1-10 period, according to the data from the Korea Customs Service.

The figure is expected to continue dropping due to the pandemic, said experts.

Investment in HCM City export processing, industrial zones up 86%

Export processing and industrial zones in HCM City saw US$117 million of investment poured into the zones in the first quarter, a 86 per cent increase compared to the same period last year, according to the HCM City Export Processing and Industrial Zones Authority.

FDI in the zones was nearly $66 million, a 2.58 per cent increase year-on-year.

Eleven FDI projects registered more capital of over $60 million. There were six new projects with total capital of $5.48 million, a 74 per cent decrease from last year.

The zones received VND1.1 trillion ($47 million) worth of domestic investment, up by 37 per cent year-on-year. There were 13 new projects, while 12 projects increased their capital.

The increase in investment in the zones was mainly from domestic sources and foreign projects that already had plans to register more capital, according to the authority, which said that investment attraction in the second quarter may face challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic

HCM CITY, as of March 20, had attracted over US$1 billion worth of FDI, a 33 per cent drop year-on-year, according to the HCM City Statistics Office.

Paper, packaging firms hit by COVID-19 fallout

Domestic paper and packaging firms face a shortage of raw materials and a slump in both domestic and export demand.

Many packaging manufacturers said orders have fallen by 30-50 per cent year-on-year since the start of February.

They mainly supply firms in sectors like garment and textile, footwear and others to package for export, and demand has fallen since the latter’s exports have, they said.

Nguyen Van Thanh, director of Phu Nguyen Thinh Phat Packaging Production, Trading and Services Co., Ltd, told Sai Gon Giai Phong (Saigon Liberated) newspaper: “Orders decreased by about 30 per cent. The reason is that the company mainly supplies packaging to export enterprises. Recently, their exports have run into difficulties due to the pandemic.

“Many garment enterprises have cancelled their long-term contracts [with us], and signed seasonal contracts instead for tens of thousands of packaging boxes each. A number of others stopped order because they have no new export orders.”

Investment in the pulp industry remains modest, causing heavy reliance on imports.

But the COVID-19’s spread to many countries and territories has made it hard to import pulp, according to the Viet Nam Pulp and Paper Association (VPPA).

The association said many scrap paper suppliers abroad have cancelled their orders.

Dang Van Son, the VPPA’s deputy chairman and general secretary, said: “According to our assessment, large manufacturers have very small stocks of raw materials, enough only for one to two months. Many small and medium-sized enterprises have run out of inventory.”

If the situation prolongs, many firms have to close down, he said.

Also according to the VPPA, the prices of raw materials have increased by VND200,000-300,000 per tonne, sending manufacturing costs surging.

Many Vietnamese paper producers are small, mostly with a capacity of less than 30,000 tonnes per year, and use old equipment, and so they are not very competitive, it said.

Most local firms focus on normal packaging paper and export it, and the country has to import over a million tonnes of high-class coated packaging paper, high-class copy paper, coated printing paper, and other special kinds of paper every year, the business group said.

Firms therefore need to adjust their product structure, it said.

It is currently trying to help businesses find raw materials and funding to help them maintain production.

It has also petitioned relevant ministries to streamline import procedures and speed up customs clearance to help businesses quickly source raw materials.

It has also urged the Ministry of Transport to help reduce logistics costs for paper companies.

Mitsubishi Motors allowed to produce eco-friendly cars in Thailand

Mitsubishi Motors Corp. has been given the green light from Thailand for its electric and hybrid vehicle production plan as the Southeast Asian country struggles to minimise the impact of COVID-19 on its economy.

Accordingly, the Board of Investment of Thailand said on April 13 that it approved Mitsubishi's 5.48 billion baht (167 million USD) project to renovate existing production lines at a plant in Laem Chabang Industrial Estate, southeast of Bangkok.

As planned, Mitsubishi will manufacture 39,000 units annually to sell in Thailand and neighboring Southeast Asian countries. Its subsidiary in Thailand will make 9,500 electric vehicles and 29,500 hybrid cars per year.

The board said Mitsubishi's eco-car production is scheduled to start in 2023./.

HCM City shut downs factories, businesses at a high risk of spreading COVID-19

The People's Committees of all 24 districts in HCM City were expected to submit a report on the assessment of COVID-19 infection risks at businesses and factories to the city’s Standing Committee office this afternoon.

Businesses that do not meet the requirements of epidemic prevention will be required to shut down immediately.

On April 11, the HCM City’s Standing Committee directed districts’ people committees to strengthen the assessment of virus infection risks at businesses and enterprises in the city.

Since then, the district authorities and related units have quickly and strictly assessed all businesses.

During the assessment process, the city’s People Committee decided to temporarily shut down operation of the PouYuen Viet Nam company in Binh Tan District for two days from April 14 to 15.

The company's risk of COVID-19 infection had reached 91 per cent after the city authority completed the assessment.

PouYuen Viet Nam has more than 60,000 workers, and has three working shifts.

According to the city People's Committee, if COVID-19 infections occur at the factory, the consequences will be very serious.

On April 6, the city’s Standing Committee issued a set of indicators to assess the risk of virus infections at businesses and enterprises.

The indicators are based on 10 factors: the number of workers, the density of workers in the factory, workers who wash hands before entering and leaving the factory, percentage of workers wearing masks, number of workers whose temperature is checked, number of workers using public transport or company pick-up vehicles to workplace, number of pick-up points on the route to the factory, the distance between workers at the cafeteria, night shifts, and enough masks for workers.

According to the set of indicators, enterprises will be graded on a maximum scale of 10 points for each component.

The businesses will be asked to shut down immediately if they score more than 80 points. Businesses scoring from 50 to 80 points will be also asked to shut down unless they come up with solutions to mitigate the risks.

Other businesses will be allowed to operate normally but will be supervised constantly by authorities.

According to the city’s Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, the city has about 3.2 million factory workers at 415 enterprises.


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