BUSINESS NEWS HEADLINES APRIL 23

US loosens labelling requirements for tra fish imports

BUSINESS NEWS HEADLINES APRIL 23

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has moved to loosen restrictions placed on the labelling requirements of aquatic products, including tra fish and white-flesh fish, according to the Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP).

The efforts to ease these restrictions comes following shops and restaurants throughout the United States being forced to close as a result of the effects of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Subsequently, the US Food Safety and Inspection Service under the USDA made the decision to issue new regulations to ease labelling requirements for meat, poultry, and aquatic products, including tra and white-flesh fish, with the latest policy poised to come into force within the next 60 days.

This follows a period during the opening months of the year when Vietnam encountered challenges in exporting tra fish, also known as pangasius, to the US market.

Figures indicate this trend as the first two months of the year saw pangasius exports to the US market reach US$38.6 million, a year-on-year drop of approximately 27%.

With the easing of restrictions, tra fish and white-flesh fish exporters are turning their attentions to the US retail market in an attempt to increase exports in the near future.

THACO to export semi-trailers to US in May

Truong Hai Auto Corporation, known as THACO, has said that in late May, it will export 69 semi-trailers to the US - a market with strict requirements on quality standards.

This is the result of cooperation between THACO and PITTS Enterprises Company - one of 15 major semi-trailers manufacturers in North America. The two sides signed a memorandum of understanding on distributing semi-trailers in the US market.

THACO’s semi-trailers exported to the US market will be distributed by Dorsey Intermodal - a subsidiary of PITTS Enterprises, which also supplies relevant warranty and maintenance services.

According to THACO, the batch of semi-trailers is manufactured at THACO Special Vehicles Manufacturing Limited Company, the firm that specializes in manufacturing high-quality semi-trailers and special vehicles for local and foreign markets.

THACO said it expects to export more than 1,600 vehicles of all kinds with a total value of 50 million USD, in 2020.

Its successful export to the US market proves that THACO has appropriate strategies to join deeper in the global value chain, it noted./.

Cần Thơ to speed up agricultural production

The Cần Thơ City Department of Agriculture and Rural Development plans to develop its agricultural production to meet gross domestic product (GRDP) of 1.2 per cent by the end of this year.

The agriculture sector aims to sow the summer-autumn crop on an area of 74,713 ha, a yield of 5.9 tonnes per ha, and output of nearly 441,000 tonnes, exceeding 1.51 per cent of its original plan.

The autumn - winter rice crop on an area of 64,000 ha expects a yield of 5.25 tonnes per ha, and an output of 336,000 tonnes, exceeding 8.43 per cent of its plan.

In addition, vegetables and plants would be cultivated on 14,500 ha, exceeding 10.6 per cent of the plan, which are expected to produce 159,500 tonnes, exceeding 17 per cent of the plan.

With an area of fruit trees, the city strives to reach 20,500 hectares with an expected output of 159,500 tonnes, exceeding 30.9 per cent of the plan.

Breeding aims for a total of 5,000 cows, exceeding 5.26 per cent of the plan; 130,000 pigs, exceeding 0.78 per cent of the plan; 2 million heads of poultry, exceeding 3.9 per cent of the plan.

This would ensure total output of livestock and poultry meat at 39,000 tonnes, exceeding 2.63 per cent of the plan.

Regarding fisheries, the city strives for a total aquaculture area of 8,250 hectares, and output of 205,500 tonnes, exceeding 2.24 per cent of the plan.

Nguyễn Tấn Nhơn, deputy director of the department, said that to meet the targets, the department would focus on providing accurate and timely information about hydrometeorology and risk of diseases. It would also focus on rural infrastructure investment; use of scientific and technical advances; and quality inspection of varieties, fertilisers and pesticides to avoid fake and poor quality products.

In the field of animal husbandry and fisheries, the city would coordinate with units under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to provide quality breeds to farmers and guide the application of biosafety breeding measures and environmental sanitation.

It would also intensify hygiene and disinfect the breeding environment, increase the vaccination of cattle and poultry; and strictly control the transportation, trading, and slaughter of cattle, poultry and wildlife, Nhơn added.

According to the city's Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, in the first months of 2020, the agricultural sector faced many difficulties due to the impact of drought, freshwater shortage and saltwater intrusion, causing some species to harm plants and aquaculture. This led to increased costs. 

Aquatic exports to China shows sign of recovery

Vietnam exported nearly 13 million USD worth of tra fish to China in the first half of March, 1 million USD higher than February’s number, a sign of recovery for Vietnamese exports of aquatic products to the neighbouring country.

According to the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), orders of aquatic products, particularly shrimp and tra fish, from China have returned since early April.

It forecast that Vietnam’s tra fish exports to China may surge by 40 – 50 percent in the coming months as the latter’s efforts to contain the spread of coronavirus prove effective.

The Republic of Korea, another key market for Vietnam, has also made significant progress in containing COVID-19, signalling demand will rebound soon.

VASEP expects that if the pandemic is brought under control in the second quarter of this year, production will return to normal in the second half, which is likely to be a “golden stage” for Vietnam to boost shipments of agricultural products./.

Phu Nhuan Jewellery sees revenue up but profit down in Q1

Phu Nhuan Jewellery JSC (PNJ), the largest jewellery retailer in Vietnam, reports revenue up 5 percent but profit down 4 percent in the first quarter of this year.

The company earned revenue of 5 trillion VND (213 million USD) and post-tax profit of 411 billion VND in Q1.

This year, PNJ targets to achieve revenue of more than 19 trillion VND and post-tax profit of 1.35 trillion VND. Thus in Q1, the company completed 26 percent of the revenue target and 30 percent of the profit target.

Particularly in March, despite difficulties due to the COVID-19 pandemic, PNJ's monthly revenue still recorded a growth rate of 6 percent over the same period last year, mainly thanks to the growth of 75 percent of revenues from the sale of gold pieces.

During the month, retail sales decreased by 10 per ent due to temporary closures and social distancing orders under the Government's directives to prevent and combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

PNJ has closed 85 percent of its stores since the last week of March. Of those, all stores in HCM City and Hanoi, which contributes 55 percent of total revenue, have been closed. This greatly affects PNJ's profit, as 90 percent of the company's gross profit comes from the jewellery retail segment.

Although revenue from online sales in Q1 increased by 173 percent against last year, the proportion of online sales was still very small, accounting for only 1 percent of total revenue.

This year, PNJ targets revenue growth and profit growth of 12 percent and 13 percent, respectively./.

Binh Thuan speeds up work on investment projects 

The Binh Thuan Province People’s Committee has asked departments and districts to work with investors to hasten the progress of projects that received in-principle licences or signed memorandums of understanding with the province last year.

The People’s Committee has instructed the Department of Natural Resources and Environment to help businesses complete procedures related to land and environmental impact assessment.

The department will also work with the Department of Industry and Trade to help the People's Committee ask the Prime Minister for assistance in solving problems facing key projects in the province’s titanium reserve plan.

In addition, the Department of Construction will work with investors to complete procedures quickly so that construction permits can be granted and work can start soon.

The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development will help investors complete procedures on forest assessment and forest-use purposes, and will examine the provincial forestry plan, focusing on projects that use natural and coastal forests.

Meanwhile, the Department of Planning and Investment will aid and urge investors to complete procedures related to research and surveys, and keep track of problems to help the People’s Committee provide specific instructions for each project.

If investors make little effort to complete procedures or have slow progress, the department will work with the province to withdraw such projects.

Certain districts such as Tuy Phong, Bac Binh and Ham Tan are expected to work with investors on land clearance procedures.

During a conference on investment last year, the province granted in-principle licences to 11 investment projects with total capital of VND23.4 trillion (US$998 million) and signed memorandums of understanding for 13 projects with total registered capital of $17 billion. 

Bamboo Airways maintains target of 30 per cent market share

Bamboo Airways will not change its market share target in 2020 despite the COVID-19 pandemic, though the minimum fleet plan will be reduced from 50 to 40 aircraft.

“Bamboo Airways' target of 30 per cent market share by the end of 2020 is unchanged, which focuses primarily on the domestic routes that Bamboo Airways determined as important ones,” Trinh Van Quyet, Bamboo Airways' Chairman announced at an online meeting between senior managers last week.

Quyet said that with this plan, Bamboo Airways would adjust its target of increasing the fleet to at least 40 aircraft by the end of 2020.

The carrier aimed for the goal of 50 aircraft as planned at the end of 2019 if transport demand recovers better than expected, favourable market conditions and business activities meet the requirements for scaling up in the third and fourth quarter.

Responding to the operating scenario when the market recovers, he said that the company would continue to research and promote new domestic routes to strengthen the domestic flight network.

“For international markets, depending on the developments of COVID-19 pandemic in other countries, Bamboo Airways will restore operations on established regular routes such as Viet Nam – South Korea, Taiwan and the Czech Republic. We will also reopen the process of establishing and connecting new routes to East Asia, Europe, the US and Australia; as well as explore new potential routes,” he added.

The chairman said that aviation is one of the industries most severely affected by the pandemic, but at the same time among the most rapid to recover afterwards. Besides, oil prices have continued to decline deeply as of the first week of April, which is also a good signal for the transportation sector, including aviation.

Despite the complicated developments of the COVID-19 pandemic, in the first four months of 2020, Bamboo Airways has maintained outstanding operating performance. The carrier's On-time Performance rate was the highest in the Vietnamese aviation industry in the first quarter of this year, reaching more than 95 per cent. Flight safety rate was at absolute 100 per cent. Thanks to internal epidemic prevention measures, no cases of Bamboo Airways staff infected with COVID-19 were reported.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, Bamboo Airways has adjusted its business focus, such as suspending the operation of all international routes, reducing the frequency of domestic routes, and diverting from affected areas. During this tough period, the carrier has promoted charter flights repatriating EU passengers and cargo for both humanitarian and commercial purposes.

Many new products and services have been launched to meet the special needs of the market in this unprecedented period, such as the promotion of “Get 3 seats for 1 ticket” to ensure the safety of passengers, and Bamboo Pass – the unlimited flight pass programme. 

FPT’s profit up by nearly 19 per cent in Q1

FPT Corporation achieved revenue of VND6.63 trillion (US$282.6 million) and pre-tax profit of VND1.14 trillion ($48.6 million) in the first quarter of the year, a year-on-year increase of 17 per cent and 18.9 per cent, respectively, surpassing 2 per cent of its target.

Profit after tax reached VND937 billion ($39.94 million), up by 18 per cent year-on-year. Earning per share was VND1,101, up 18.7 per cent.

The pre-tax profit margin improved to 17.2 per cent compared to 16.9 per cent over the same period last year

The global IT services and telecom services were the growth engine for FPT, with profit before tax going up by 27 per cent and 29 per cent, respectively, to reach VND425 billion ($18.1 million) and VND401 billion ($17.1 million).

In addition, FPT has engaged in many large digital transformation projects, recording VND729 billion in revenue in the first quarter, up 55 per cent year-on-year.

Since many local companies are impacted severely by the pandemic, FPT's revenue and profit earned from domestic IT services and online advertising have been affected.

The overseas market brought the company VND2.89 trillion ($123.2 million) in revenue, up 26 per cent year-on-year.

Revenue from the Asia-Pacific market went up by 59 per cent in the period to top VND450 billion, accounting for 16 per cent of overseas revenue.

Revenue from the US market increased by 28 per cent, contributing VND675 billion to the top line. The Japan and EU markets enjoyed growth rates of 19 per cent and 17 per cent, respectively.

The company’s performance in the first quarter was not affected greatly by COVID-19, but due to the unpredictability of the virus outbreak, the operation of FPT is likely to be disrupted in the second quarter.

Its management board therefore has activated a wartime working mode and prepared different scenarios based on projections of the pandemic, ensuring business continuity and sidestepping risks. 

Vietnamese brand could shine amid struggling global supply chain

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has agreed to mark "Vietnam Brand Day" on April 20 each year as a means of honouring and promoting the nation’s brand and image in the context of greater international economic integration.

As a result of the impact of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic, the National Brand Council, the Vietnam Trade Promotion Agency, and the Ministry of Industry and Trade made the decision not to organise any commemorative activities this year.

To mark Vietnam Brand Day however, Minister of Industry and Trade and Chairman of the National Brand Council Tran Tuan Anh extended his best wishes in a letter of congratulations addressed to both the Vietnamese business community and enterprises nationwide.

The letter states that the country has maintained high levels of consistent economic growth in recent years, as seen by last year’s impressive results in gross domestic product (GDP) growth. Indeed, the nation’s annual GDP growth reached 7.02%, exceeding the target set by the National Assembly and therefore expanding the Vietnamese economy's scale to over US$262 billion, an all-time high.

This stellar performance can be attributed to the important contributions and tireless efforts put in by the Vietnamese business community to build brands and establish a reputation for the country’s goods and services to be on a par with those of other nations both regionally and globally.

Despite these positives, this current year has seen an array of complications emerge in the world economy as a result of the COVID-19 epidemic. This has hit many national industries such as production, export, trading, investment, in addition to trade activities in general.

In this context, Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh has sent sincere words of encouragement to the domestic business community on behalf of the National Brand Council.

The letter expresses hope that local firms will remain united in the face of adversity to win the battle against the battle against the pandemic by stabilising production and business activities, as well as maintaining development and protection of their brands as a means of enabling the Vietnamese brand to become a bright spot amid the troubled global supply chain.

Following directions set out by the party and state regarding urgent tasks and solutions to deal with the fallout from the epidemic, the Ministry of Industry and Trade, in its capacity as an agency managing the Vietnam National Brand Program, has been providing practical support for domestic enterprises.

This assistance has mainly come in the form of helping firms to build, develop, and increase the respective strength of their branding for products, thereby creating export momentum to boost production and enabling business activities to quickly recover when the spread of the epidemic is halted, the trade official noted.

With 97 enterprises recognised as having a national brand among a total of 700,000 businesses across the country, the number of enterprises having a national brand is gradually rising in line with improvements made to their capacity.

Last year UK-based Brand Finance, the world’s leading independent brand valuation consultancy with offices located in over 20 countries, unveiled in its Brand Finance Nation Brands 2019 ranking of the 100 most valuable and strongest nation brands, that the Vietnam National Brand was valued at US$247 billion.

Exports of rice to China skyrocket in Q1

Vietnam's export of rice products to China enjoyed a four-fold increase during the first quarter of the year in comparison to last year, according to figures released by the General Department of Vietnam Customs.

The first quarter of the year saw the country export 162,000 tonnes of rice to China, accounting for 11% of the nation’s total export volume.

Most notably, Chinese rice importers have pushed the purchase price as high as possible when buying Vietnamese rice.

At present, the average export price of rice to the Chinese market has reached VND12.7 million per tonne, an increase of over VND1.7 million per tonne when compared to last year’s figures. Simultaneously, price of rice exports during the reviewed period stood at over VND10.7 million per tonne.

As a result, the northern neighbour’s import price from the nation is now far higher than that of the Philippines, the leading consumer of Vietnamese rice.

This sudden increase in rice imports from the country can be attributed to efforts made by China to meet their food shortages due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Throughout the opening three months of the year, the northern neighbour has also moved to boost imports of computer products, electronic products and components, in addition to phones and components from domestic sources.

Statistics indicate that Vietnam's exports of computers, along with electronic products and components, to China enjoyed a year-on-year surge of 41% to US$2.5 billion.

Despite these positives, the country’s exports of seafood, crude oil, ores, and minerals to the Chinese market plummeted during the reviewed period.

German newswire lauds Vietnam’s economic policy amid COVID-19

The Deutsche Welle (DW) newswire on April 17 ran a story praising Vietnam’s successes in fighting COVID-19 with all of its power while the global economy is facing depression due to the pandemic.

The article quoted a report by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as saying that the world economic growth is forecast to drop by 3% this year. For the first time in 60 years, the Asian economy has been predicted to not expand. Meanwhile, the Chinese Government has announced that its economy downsized 6.8 % in the first quarter.

However, Vietnam has so far done a fairly good job in economic term. Though the figure in the first quarter is lower than the estimate, the growth still hit 3.82%, it said.

Talking with DW, Carl Thayer from Australia’s University of New South Wales, said it was a noteworthy achievement.

According to the article, Vietnam launched a strategy to contain SARS-CoV-2 from early. Therefore, data from the Johns Hopkins University showed that the total number of infection cases has only reached 268 to date.

Despite social distancing measures, electronics and medicine-pharmaceuticals sectors still grew by 14% and 44%, respectively, in the first quarter, said the German Chamber of Commerce and Industry (AHK) in Vietnam, adding that the Vietnamese Government is adopting different measures to prevent economic slowdown.

It said like other countries, Vietnam has also faced difficulties, especially in services, tourism and aviation. The tourism sector lost US$3-4 billion in the first quarter.

Thayer also added that Vietnam could succeed in maintaining the balance between protecting people’s health and economic benefits in the short term.

Gloomy outlook for export prospects to US, EU markets

Vietnam’s exports to both the United States and the European Union are expected to face a number of hurdles as a result of the negative impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19), according to the General Statistics Office (GSO).

The first quarter of the year saw the country’s exports increase by just 0.5% to US$59.08 billion, while imports declined by 1.9% to US$56.26 billion.

As a result, Vietnam enjoyed a trade surplus of US$2.8 billion in the reviewed period, US$1.3 billion more than the corresponding figure last year. Economists consider this figure is to be acceptable in the context of the serious economic consequences of the COVID-19 epidemic.

Despite this, there are gloomy projections ahead for exports in the second quarter, especially exports to two of the country’s major markets, the US and the EU.

Bui Trong Tu, Deputy Director of the GSO’s Department of Trade and Services Statistics, said almost all of the export orders received by domestic enterprises from the two markets have been temporarily suspended. If complications regarding the COVID-19 epidemic remain during the second quarter of the year, it is expected to significantly impact the country’s exports of its key items such as textiles, footwear, and seafood to these markets.

Recent weeks have seen several major importers from the US and EU request local textile, garment, and footwear exporters temporarily halt deliveries, whilst no new contracts are being signed.

The number of textile and footwear export orders to the US and EU markets in April and May is projected to plummet, in addition to no new orders from June onwards being negotiated.

According to wood processors involved in exports, a number of businesses could be forced to reduce their capacity by 70% if the epidemic shows no signs of abating in April, while many companies will have to halt production to reflect the drop in export orders if the epidemic remains challenging in the second quarter of the year.

With regard to the electronics industry, according to a report released by Samsung Electronics Vietnam, both the US and EU markets account for over 50% of the export value of their products. In addition, Samsung Electronics' global sales for this year are forecast to decline with the company’s export target being adjusted to approximately US$45.5 billion in contrast to the US$51.38 billion seen last year.

Elsewhere, the shift in terms of exports of key commodities to other markets such as India, the Republic Korea, and Japan are projected to face a number of different hurdles.

Most notably, the country’s textile and footwear exports to the three markets will face stiff competition from similar items made in China due to their huge production capacity and their gradual recovery following the pandemic

 

The recovery of export growth is largely dependent on whether or not the US and the EU are able to contain the COVID-19, with local businesses keen to take advantage of the opportunities brought about by the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA), which will be ratified by the National Assembly and take effect later this year.

Indonesia to issue larger tax breaks to assist sectors in pandemic

Indonesia will issue larger tax breaks to cover 11 business sectors which are similar to the incentives given to manufacturing industries to help companies weather impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Indonesian Minister of Finance Sri Mulyani Indrawati said at a recent teleconferenced press briefing that the 11 sectors are food, trade, electricity, oil and gas, mining and coal, forestry, tourism and the creative economy, telecommunications, logistics, transportation, and construction.

The incentives will be in the form of individual income tax exemptions, import tax deferrals and 30-percent discounts on corporate tax. They will be included in the fourth stimulus package that the government is currently finalising.

She said the COVID-19 shocks could damage businesses and cause massive bankruptcy, noting that the government is trying to focus on stimulus to lessen the COVID-19 economic shocks on citizens.

The Indonesian Government recently announced tax breaks for manufacturing industries worth 22.9 trillion Rp (1.46 billion USD). Manufacturing workers with incomes below 200 million Rp per year would be exempted from paying income tax. Corporate income tax for the manufacturing sector has also been cut by 30 percent and import tax payments deferred.

Besides, the country has also set aside 405.1 trillion Rp from the 2020 state budget for medical needs, the social safety net and relief for small and medium businesses affected by the pandemic.

Further stimuli will be announced, including for the healthcare sector, the finance minister said./. 

Việt Nam’s export value to China up in Q1 despite COVID-19

Việt Nam achieved a high export growth value to China in the first quarter of this year, despite the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, according to the General Department of Customs.

Việt Nam’s total export value to China in the first quarter reached US$9.3 billion, a year-on-year increase of about 24 per cent. Of which, export value in March rose by 22.3 per cent to $3.9 billion.

This was a very positive signal in the context that both Việt Nam and China suffered from the pandemic during the first quarter, the general department said.

During the first quarter, Việt Nam had two groups of goods gaining export value of over $1 billion, one more group than the same period last year.

The impressive export growth rate was made by phones and components, with a value of about $2 billion, nearly four times higher than the same period last year, it said.

Meanwhile, the goods with the largest export value to China was computers, electronic products and components with an export value of about $2.6 billion, up sharply by 46 per cent year-on-year.

However, some other key products, especially agricultural products, witnessed a sharp decline in the first quarter of this year.

Of which, fruit and vegetable products continued to have the largest export value in total during the first quarter, but this figure reduced by $154 million to $525.6 million compared to the same period last year.

Aquatic products also faced the same situation with a reduction of $57 million in total export value to $140 million in the first quarter.

The general department said Việt Nam in the first quarter spent $16.2 billion on importing goods from China. This figure decreased slightly by $50 million compared to the same period last year.

Thus, from January 1 until March 31, China continued being the largest trading partner of Việt Nam with a trade value of $25.5 billion, accounting for nearly 20.8 per cent of Việt Nam's total trade value.

The reduction in import value and the growth in export value made Việt Nam’s trade deficit with China drop sharply to $6.9 billion in the first quarter of this year from $8.6 billion in the same period last year. 

FDI into Indonesia falls in Q1

About 6.33 billion USD of foreign direct investment (FDI) flowed into Indonesia in the first quarter of this year, down 9.2 percent year on year, as the COVID-19 pandemic has halted global investment, said the Indonesian Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM).

Indonesia reported the first COVID-19 case in March.

The virus kept spreading rapidly across the country, forcing Indonesian authorities to apply partial lockdowns in the country's capital of Jakarta and some other cities, hemming in business activities.

The Indonesian Ministry of Health said on April 20 that the country recorded 185 new cases of COVID-19, bringing its total to 6,760.

Southeast Asia's biggest economy is projected to grow 2.3 percent this year, down from a 5.02-percent growth last year, according to Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati./.

Thailand’s sugar industry affected by drought

With Thailand in the midst of its worst drought in four decades, sugar production is falling significantly for this year's crop cycle, pushing up the price of sugar globally, local media reported.

Production costs have risen in Thailand due to the drought, while the lower supply of sugar cane worldwide is putting pressure on global prices, the Bangkok Post newspaper quoted Ekapat Wangsuwan, Secretary-General of the Office of Cane and Sugar Board (OCSB) under the Industry Ministry, as saying.

Global sugar prices stand at 15 cents per pound, thanks to sugar-cane plantations slashing output globally, said Ekapat.

The OCSB expects sugar-cane output in the crop year 2019-20 to stand at 80 million tonnes, down from 130.97 million tonnes in the last crop year.

The board reported that Thailand's sugar-cane production from December 1, 2019 to February 15, 2020 stood at 7.4 million tonnes, down 14 percent year-on-year.

According to Ekapat, the drought crisis has reduced sugar-cane output and sugar mill exports, while it pushes up global sugar prices. However, Thailand's exports from sugar mills are down. In the crop year 2018-19, sugar mill production capacity was 14.58 million tonnes and exports totalled 11.98 million tonnes as 2.6 million tonnes was sold domestically.

The Thai Sugar Millers Corporation (TSMC) is concerned that the drought will cut sugar-cane output and cane yields. The sugar-cane output in the crop year 2019-20 is forecast to fall below 80 million tonnes of sugar cane and production from sugar mills will be 9 million tonnes due to the drought.

Thailand is the world's fourth-largest sugar producer and the second-largest exporter, after only Brazil. The Southeast Asian country has 57 sugar mill factories with a capacity of 983,587 tonnes a day and sugar-cane plantations in 47 provinces spanning 1.8 million hectares./.

Philippines may lose 4.5 billion USD remittances to COVID-19: insider

The Philippines is likely to lose about 228 billion PHP (4.5 billion USD) this year in remittances from about 10 million overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Head of the ACTS-OFW Coalition of Organisations Aniceto Bertiz III said on account of the severe global economic devastation, it now projects total remittances to reach only 27 billion USD this year, from 30 billion USD in 2019.

Without the pandemic, the Philippines would have expected the aggregate incoming cash transfers from Filipinos overseas to grow by 1.5 billion USD this year, he added.

Bertiz said migrant Filipino workers around the world in the following sectors of shipping and shipping-related support services; aviation and aviation-related support services, are bearing the brunt of the economic destruction and job losses.

Those working in travel and tour operations; hotels, resorts and restaurants; gaming; and oil, gas and energy exploration and development, are in the same predicament.

The collapse of crude oil prices is foreseen dampening to a large extent the demand for Filipino workers, from engineers to construction workers, Bertiz added.

The Philippine Department of Health announced 200 new COVID-19 cases and 19 deaths on April 20. Additional 41 people made full recovery on the day, raising the number to 613.

Total infections in the country stood at 6,459, with 428 fatalities./.

Cambodian gov’t predicts V-shaped recovery in coming time

The Cambodian government is optimistic that the nation’s economy will see V-shaped growth in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, in contrast to the U-shaped scenario projected by economic experts.

The Khmer Times newspaper quoted the government’s spokesman Phay Siphan at a news conference held last week as saying that there will be a boom in the tourism industry when people are once again allowed to travel, adding that foreign tourists will flock to Cambodia in return for kindness in the case of MS Westerdam cruise ship.

Phay said he has based his forecast on Cambodia’s decision to allow the cruise ship to dock in Sihanoukville in February.

In economic terms, leading business and market experts at Bloomberg.com describe a V-shaped recovery as a trajectory ‘in which the rebound is swift as the slump’.

However, Hong Vannak, a business researcher at the Royal Academy of Cambodia is one of several experts warning the recovery is more likely to be U-shaped, meaning it could take up to two years to regain economic stability.

Tourism, a priority sector in the country, has been hard-hit and it will take time for traveller confidence to return. That will ultimately shape the recovery, he explained.

The garment and export industry – which netted Cambodia 9.35 billion USD in 2019, a year-on-year increase of 11 percent – is also expected to follow the same pattern of recovery.

This is due to the EU’s decision to partially suspend preferential tariffs previously applied to the garment exports from Cambodia.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has predicted Cambodia’s 2020 GDP will experience a negative growth of 1.7 percent this year./. 

Indonesia to issue larger tax breaks to assist sectors in pandemic

Indonesia will issue larger tax breaks to cover 11 business sectors which are similar to the incentives given to manufacturing industries to help companies weather impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Indonesian Minister of Finance Sri Mulyani Indrawati said at a recent teleconferenced press briefing that the 11 sectors are food, trade, electricity, oil and gas, mining and coal, forestry, tourism and the creative economy, telecommunications, logistics, transportation, and construction.

The incentives will be in the form of individual income tax exemptions, import tax deferrals and 30-percent discounts on corporate tax. They will be included in the fourth stimulus package that the government is currently finalising.

She said the COVID-19 shocks could damage businesses and cause massive bankruptcy, noting that the government is trying to focus on stimulus to lessen the COVID-19 economic shocks on citizens.

The Indonesian Government recently announced tax breaks for manufacturing industries worth 22.9 trillion Rp (1.46 billion USD). Manufacturing workers with incomes below 200 million Rp per year would be exempted from paying income tax. Corporate income tax for the manufacturing sector has also been cut by 30 percent and import tax payments deferred.

Besides, the country has also set aside 405.1 trillion Rp from the 2020 state budget for medical needs, the social safety net and relief for small and medium businesses affected by the pandemic.

Further stimuli will be announced, including for the healthcare sector, the finance minister said./.

Ha Tinh propose three more wind power projects

Ha Tinh Tran, chairman of Ha Tinh People's Committee, has proposed to the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the government to add three more wind power projects into the national power development plan for the 2011-2020 period with the vision to 2030.

Ky Anh PT 1 Project has been researched and a field survey has been carried out on 613 ha of land. It is estimated that the project will cover only 9.29ha with a capacity of 50MW. It has an investment of VND1.6 trn (USD68.5m) and is expected to go into operation in the third quarter of 2021 to contribute 129,171GWh a year to the national grid.

Ky Anh PT 2 Project will cover 9.74 ha of land and is also expected to go into operation in the third quarter of 2021 with an investment of VND1.6 trn. It will have a capacity of 50MW and contribute 193,389 GWh a year.

Ky Anh PT 3 Project has the same expected operation date and an investment of VND1.6 trn. It will cover 12.44 ha with a capacity of 50MW and contribute 159 GWh a year to the national grid.

According to Ha Tinh authorities, the Ky Anh projects are suitable to the national power master plan and can fully exploit the local potential in using renewable energy and be more environmentally friendly.

The total investment for three projects reaches VND4.9trn (USD209.7m), 30% of which come from the private sector, the rest will come from bank loans and other funds of the investors.

On December 6, 2019, Tran had approved of the idea to let Phuoc Trung Energy JSC to research and make investment plans for wind power projects in Ky Anh District. 

Brokerage firm VDSC suffers loss in Q1 

Rong Viet Securities (VDSC) posted a record loss of VND88.4 billion (US$3.78 million) in the first quarter of 2020 as the company suffered from proprietary trading.

In the first quarter of 2019, VDSC made a profit of VND21.15 billion.

The loss was blamed for proprietary trading's poor performance in the January-March period.

On March 31, total book value of VDSC’s financial assets was VND474.26 billion, up by VND60 billion from the beginning of the year.

But the total re-value of the assets was nearly VND298 billion, down by 37 per cent from the book value total.

The worst-performing assets included Development Investment Construction JSC (HoSE: DIG), Binh Son Refining and Petrochemicals (UPCoM: BSR), and real estate firm Dat Xanh Group (HoSE: DXG).

Proprietary trading is expected to pick up in the second quarter as the local stock market has shown signs of recovery since it bottomed at a three-year low at the end of March.

The decline of the stock market also made VDSC suffer lower income from brokerage activity, which fell 10 per cent year-on-year to VND20.5 billion in the first quarter.

Incomes from margin lending interests and receivables were down 8.6 per cent on-year to VND48 billion.

Margin loans and cash advances were worth VND1.36 trillion, down by VND300 billion from the beginning of the year.

VDSC targets to record at least VND45 billion worth of pre-tax profit in 2020, down 6 per cent year on year.

The company shares (HoSE: VDS) ended Monday flat at VND6,300 apiece.  

Quang Nam promotes sustainable tourism development

The central coastal province of Quang Nam has strived in its efforts to promote local tourism towards a sustainable model, by exploiting its heritage values combined with new ways of tourism development.

Located in the central coastal region, Quang Nam has a gentle coastline stretching over 125 km from Da Nang to Quang Ngai, with many famous landscapes and historical sites, including two UNESCO-recognised world heritage sites, namely the ancient town of Hoi An and the My Son sanctuary, in addition to the Cham islet world biosphere reserve. These are attractive destinations, attracting large numbers of tourists and generating revenue and jobs for Quang Nam. However, the development of tourism is also posing problems regarding preserving cultural values and the ecological environment.

Perhaps those who came to Hoi An about ten years ago and return to the ancient town now would see that it has changed a lot. Accommodation facilities and services have been actively developed, while goods and services on its old streets are also richer. Although the number of tourists has multiplied, the Hoi An people still keep their old town peaceful, friendly and hospitable.

This is one of the initial successes of Quang Nam in the field of tourism, the first being utilising the opportunity to attract investment. Immediately after the ancient town of Hoi An and the My Son sanctuary were recognised by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites, Quang Nam Provincial Party Committee identified tourism as an important sector in local economic development strategy.

In 2009, the Provincial People's Committee approved an adjustment to the master plan for the province’s tourism industry in 2015 with orientation to 2020, thereby, promoting tourism in the right direction and contributing to Quang Nam’s socio-economic development. After adjusting the planning, the province took advantage of various resources for infrastructural construction in the service of tourism. In particular, the Cua Dai Bridge project and the coastal route connecting Da Nang, Hoi An and the eastern part of Quang Nam with Nui Thanh district (adjacent to Dung Quat in Quang Ngai province) have created a breakthrough for tourism in localities in the southern part of Hoi An, such as in Duy Xuyen, Thang Binh, Nui Thanh and Tam Ky. Projects on high-class resorts and coastal recreation areas, including the southern Hoi An project (in Duy Xuyen district), Vinpearl Land amusement park south of Hoi An (in Thang Binh district) and Vietnamese Heroic Mother Monument complex (Tam Ky city), have initially pulled visitors to the southern part of the province, while reducing the pressure on the ancient town of Hoi An.

Since the transport infrastructure has been connected to tourist destinations, private businesses have boldly invested in building high-class hotels and resorts with enough amenities to meet tourist needs. According to statistics from the local tourism industry, up until now, the whole province has more than 730 accommodation establishments, with 13,860 rooms, including 190 hotels, 326 homestays and 215 villas. Currently, the province has about 90 travel agencies, of which, 60 companies operate international travel. In 2019, Quang Nam attracted more than 7.6 million visitors (an increase of 17% compared to 2018), with total social income from tourism estimated at VND14 trillion (over US$600 million).

Head of the Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism of Quang Nam province Nguyen Thanh Hong said that in recent years, in addition to creating favourable conditions for investors in tourism business activities, Quang Nam has also focused on building tourism products. In addition to renewing and improving the quality of tourism products being exploited effectively in the two world cultural heritage sites of Hoi An and My Son, as well as the Cham islet world biosphere reserve, Quang Nam has also invested in developing tourism products in nearby destinations to reduce the tourist pressure on the heritage sites during peak season.

In particular, the locality has invested in developing handicraft villages associated with tourism promotion, such as Cam Thanh coconut forest (Hoi An) and Triem Tay home garden community-based tourism (Dien Ban town), as well as tourist attractions in ethnic minority areas in the western mountainous part of the province, such as Bho Hoong and Dho Ro villages (Dong Giang district), Zara brocade weaving village and Grang waterfall (Nam Giang district), and Co Tu traditional village and Po Mu garden (Tay Giang district). Some tourism products in Hoi An such as Ancient Town Night, Walking Streets and Streets without motors have impressed a lot of visitors. In particular, The Nam Hai was voted the best resort and spa by the Condé Nast Traveller Magazine (United Kingdom) and the Montgomerie Links (in Dien Ban Town) was voted one of the best golf courses in Asia by Forbes Magazine.

In fact, since their establishment and operation, local community-based tourism sites have formed attractive experiencing spaces for visitors, while creating a source of income for people in many localities and partly reducing pressure on the local heritage sites.

However, exploiting tourism and preserving the cultural value ​​of the local heritages is still limited and needs to have appropriate solutions applied. According to leaders from the Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism of Quang Nam Province, the local tourism industry is facing some difficulties in development planning, combined with weaknesses in tourism competitiveness, lack of alluring products and attractions, especially entertainment areas, art performing spaces and night services, and inadequate tourism human resources.

Quang Nam Provincial People's Committee Chairman Le Tri Thanh said that the province's long-term policy is to continue promoting all resources to promote local tourism growth, building Quang Nam into a major tourist centre of the nation with high quality tourism products imbued with local cultural identities. Accordingly, Quang Nam strives to make tourism account for an increasingly high proportion in the province's GRDP structure, thereby creating a driving force in local economic restructuring that boosts Quang Nam’s rapid and sustainable development on the path of industrialisation and modernisation.

To realise this target, Quang Nam authorities have set to continue to renovate their thinking in tourism development, considering the industry an economic-service sector capable of making a major contribution to GRDP growth and motivation for other industries. In detail, Quang Nam focuses on boosting the implementation of the project on conservation and promoting the value of My Son Sanctuary during 2008-2020 and the overall investment plan for conservation, embellishment and promotion of cultural heritage values of the Hoi An ancient town associated with tourism development during 2012-2025 as per the decision from the Prime Minister. At the same time, the province will continue to mobilise all resources to invest in the construction of transport infrastructure, information - communication systems and water supply to serve tourism development.

On the other hand, Quang Nam aims to strengthen environmental protection management, ensure security and safety for tourists and continue to build attractive tourism products associated with the province’s strengths in cultural, historical and ecological tourism, beach resorts, craft villages and rural areas in ethnic minority regions. Besides, the locality will continue improving the quality of tourism human resources, focusing on supporting job conversion for local people whose livelihood is affected by the local tourism projects, on the spot training and encouraging local enterprises to coordinate with schools and labour centres to develop human resources for the tourism industry.

Quang Nam will also continue to expand its cooperation with neighbouring localities in tourism development, promote regional linkages and connect with major domestic tourism centres and other relevant sectors regarding aviation, commerce and information - media to enhance tourism and investment promotion. The province also aims to expand international cooperation and take advantage of the support from international organisations to improve the Quang Nam tourism brand in the international arena.

Such solutions are expected to help attract more tourists, create more jobs and increase revenue for local people, as well as making breakthroughs for the local socio-economic development.

Cambodia offers tax exemption for tourism services

The Cambodian government on April 21 announced a three-month tax exemption for hotels, guesthouses, restaurants and travel agencies in Phnom Penh and several provinces as the COVID-19 pandemic hit the country's tourism industry hard.

Secretary of state at the Ministry of Tourism Tith Chantha said the move came in line with the government’s measures aimed at assisting the private sector and workers affected by the pandemic.

The exemption takes effect from March to May this year, applicable for hotels, guesthouses, restaurants and travel agencies in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Preah Sihanouk, Kep, Kampot, Bavet city and Poipet city, which are registered with the General Department of Taxation.

According to statistics, the COVID-19 has affected all the 630,000 workers in the local tourism industry, with nearly 30,000 being jobless./.

EVFTA to grow Vietnam’s fertilizer industry

Free trade agreements (FTA), including the latest one signed between Vietnam and the EU, will benefit the domestic fertilizer sector, with more diverse import and export markets, experts said.

Statistics show that Vietnam imports about 4 million tonnes of fertilizer worth about 1.33 billion USD from 48 countries and territories each year, with 0.22 million tonnes coming from 17 EU countries.

The EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA), once effective, will lead to reductions in fertilizer export and import duties. However, to optimise the deal, experts suggested the industry make greater efforts to improve product quality in accordance with EU standards.

According to Pham Minh Lan, head of the Fertilizer Management Bureau under the Plant Protection Department of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, fertilizers from EU make up 5.5 percent of Vietnam’s total fertilizer import volume and value, or 0.22 million tonnes and 73 million USD.

Meanwhile, Vietnam ships abroad around 0.75 million tonnes of fertilizer valued at 240 million USD to 47 countries and territories annually, including five EU nations – Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Slovenia and Portugal. Some Vietnamese organic and inorganic fertilizer products have already met standards set by the selective market.

Currently, Vietnam imports about 0.25 million tonnes of organic fertilizers worth 45 million USD from 33 countries and territories, with 42 percent from nine EU countries, mostly the Netherlands and Belgium.

The EU’s preference for organic fertilizer over recent years as part of efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect the environment will help to spur Vietnam’s organic fertilizer development.

Vice President of the Vietnam Fertilizer Association Phung Ha said FTAs, including the EVFTA, will benefit the domestic fertilizer sector, helping it diversify import and export markets.

Thanks to the benefits of FTAs, Vietnam expects to welcome more investment and domestic firms will have more opportunities to access scientific and technological advances from developed countries.

The official suggested agencies map out plans to put an end to the use of chemicals in agriculture in order to help businesses utilize the advantages of FTAs.

Lan also proposed intensified communication activities to help enterprises understand more about the EVFTA, thus charting their own business strategies for both the short and long term towards sustainable development./.

 
 

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