BUSINESS NEWS HEADLINES APRIL 6

Made-in-Viet Nam equipment exported during COVID-19 pandemic

BUSINESS NEWS HEADLINES APRIL 6
Equipment is loaded on a cargo ship in Dung Quất Port of Quảng Ngãi Province for exporting to Bahrain. The equipment was manufactured by Doosan Vina. — Photo courtesy Doosan Vina


A shipment of three pieces of made-in-Viet Nam equipment used to filter seawater has been shipped to Bahrain Petroleum Company (Bapco)’s Refinery plant in Bahrain.

Quang Ngai-based Doosan Heavy Industries Viet Nam said the three exported items – the Evaporator, Final-Effect and Seawater Heater – were loaded at Dung Quat Port in the Dung Quat Economic Zone on Thursday for shipping.

The equipment, manufactured by Doosan Vina, was produced under an agreement signed between Doosan Vina and Samsung Engineering Construction in 2018.

The equipment will be used for heating and turning seawater into distilled water at the Bapco refinery in Bahrain.

South Korean and Vietnamese workers took 10 days to load this equipment on the vessel board.

It’s the second shipment of cargo in two weeks Doosan Vina has exported to heavy industrial production projects overseas amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The first shipment was exported to the Ruwais Refinery in Abu Dhabi, the United of Arab Emirates on March 21.

“Due to the quite heavy workload, apart from our 150 employees, we had to hire 50 workers from three subcontractors including Oil and Gas Service company, the Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company of Connecticut Korea branch (INSU) and Truong Hai (THACO) company to ensure the project's production schedule.

"The project is now completed after 12 months of implementation,” Acting Director of Doosan Vina's Water shop, Do Quoc Vuong said.

The completion of the large orders amid the pandemic is considered a great success of Doosan Vina.

"We have both stepped up our measures against the COVID-19 epidemic and implemented solutions to boost our production and export.

"These are our two urgent missions. We have to increase manpower to fulfil 29 domestic and abroad projects with a total of nearly 50,000 tonnes this year.

"In addition to the existing shop floors, we have expanded our areas of workshop, erection and packing to meet the company’s production needs,” Kim Kibum, Director of Doosan Vina's Strategy Division, shared.

To date, made-in-Viet Nam products by Doosan Vina have been operated in 35 countries around the world.

Doosan Vina is a high-tech industrial complex in the Dung Quat Economic Zone in Quang Ngai Province, employing 2,000 Vietnamese workers.

It produces mega infrastructure products including boilers, desalination plants, cranes, structural steel, buildings and infrastructure developments. To date, the company has exported products valued at US$2.4 billion.

Agricultural sector gains trade surplus in Q1 despite COVID-19

The agricultural sector recorded a trade surplus of about US$2.9 billion in the first quarter of this year despite suffering through the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD).

The trade surplus was up 48.9 per cent compared to the same period last year, the ministry said.

In the first quarter, the total trade value of agricultural, forestry and fishery products was estimated at nearly $15.2 billion. Export value reached about $9.1 billion, the same figure in the first quarter of 2019 while import value decreased by 13.2 per cent year on year to $6.1 billion.

The sector saw a reduction of 3.1 per cent in export value of main agricultural products to $4.2 billion; 14 per cent in seafood products to $1.5 billion and 21.8 per cent for products of the husbandry industry to $109 million.

Only timber and forest product export value surged by 16.1 per cent to $2.8 billion, according to the ministry.

In March, the total export value of agriculture, forestry and fishery products reached $3.5 billion, down 3.2 per cent year-on-year but up 16.6 per cent month-on-month, it said, including $1.6 billion from main agricultural products, $1.1 billion from the forest and $549 million from seafood products.

During the first quarter, most commodities saw a reduction in export value, such as rubber (26.1 per cent), tea (19 per cent), pepper (13.9 per cent), fruit (12.5 per cent) and pangasius (61.5 per cent).

However, some major export products achieved growth in export value, including rice (27.8 per cent), and timber and wood products (15.9 per cent).

Export markets of local farming products in the first quarter changed due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the ministry said. Accordingly, export value rose by 18 per cent to $2.1 billion to the US, accounting for the largest part at 23.2 per cent of the total. Meanwhile, export value to China, the second-largest market for local farming, forestry and fishery products, fell to $1.9 billion, down 19.4 per cent.

Export value reduced by 0.9 per cent to $1.2 billion to the EU market but rose by 2.7 per cent to $802 million to Japan.

This figure also surged by 16.4 per cent to $970 million to ASEAN countries.

Nguyen Quoc Toan, head of the MARD's Department of Farm Product Processing and Market Development, said the ministry is implementing solutions to promote production, aiming at meeting higher demand in farming, forest and fishery products after the pandemic ends in China.

The ministry will focus on removing technical barriers in importing countries and negotiating to expand market shares in the EU, Eurasian Economic Union, the US, Brazil and Saudi Arabia.

It will also follow developments in major markets that have suffered great impacts from the pandemic to adapt export activities, he said, adding that agricultural exports via border gates to China would be a focus to ensure quick customs clearance and control of the disease.

Ha Noi to create favourable conditions for digital technology companies

Ha Noi's People's Committee is making plans to develop digital technology companies for 2021-25 and 2026-30.

This aimed to create favourable conditions for socio-economic breakthroughs.

The Department of Information and Communications will be in charge of providing consultancy and support to digital technology companies in the city.

The Department of Planning and Investment will propose amendments to the exiting legal framework with a focus on start-ups, innovation and the operation of new business models based on digital technology.

The city will also study and propose policies about a science and technology development fund for digital technology companies to promote investment in tech start-ups.

Viet Nam targets to have at least 100,00 digital technology companies by 2030, with the digital economy accounting for more than 30 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).

The e-Conomy Southeast Asia 2019 report published by Google, Temasek and Bain at the end of 2019 showed that Viet Nam’s digital economy was valued at US$12 billion or 5 per cent of the country’s GDP and four time higher than that in 2015. The report forecast that the value of Viet Nam’s digital economy would reach $43 billion in 2025 with major sectors including e-commerce, online travel, online communications and tech-based transportation services.

Ha Noi and HCM City are two of the seven biggest cities for digital technology companies in the Southeast Asia region.

HCM City exports increase 7.5 per cent in first quarter

HCM City’s exports increased by 7.5 per cent in the first quarter to US$9.85 billion, thanks to support policies and effective trade promotion.

But revenues from exports of agro-forestry-fishery products fell due to lower prices.

Agricultural exports fell by 3.2 per cent to $860 million, with coffee shipments reducing by 11.1 per cent to $143.2 million, and rubber shipments by more than 37 per cent to $85.5 million.

Forestry exports were worth $132.6 million, down 8.9 per cent, and fisheries exports declined by nearly a fifth to $188.3 million.

Industrial products accounted for 78.4 per cent of the city’s exports.

They were worth $6.76 billion, as exports of computers, electronic products and accessories increased by 35.3 per cent to $3.59 billion.

Textile and garment exports fell 11.3 per cent to $1.17 billion.

China remained the largest export market, buying goods worth more than $ 2.15 billion, a 31.6 per cent increase and accounting for 23.4 per cent of total exports.

The second largest market was the US, buying exports of more than $1.58 billion, up 5.9 per cent.

Supermarkets, traditional markets remain open

Supermarkets, food stores and traditional markets in HCM City will remain open after April 1 amid the two-week national social distancing campaign, according to the city Department of Industry and Trade.

Supermarkets have assured that they have stocks of goods for the next three to six months, and people need not stockpile anything, it said.

Yesterday, after the announcement of the two-week campaign from April 1, people in HCM City flocked to supermarkets and retail outlets to buy essential items like rice, instant noodles, meat, and eggs.

Supermarkets have prepared beforehand to cope with any surge in demand.

Nguyen Anh Duc, general director of Saigon Co.op, which owns the Co.opmart and Co.opXtra supermarket chains, said there are abundant stocks of rice, instant noodles, canned foods, water, egg, beef, toilet paper, and other products.

They are enough to meet demand for at least three to six months, and “people should not stock up on goods,” he said.

It is also keeping a close eye on the Covid-19 situation and the market in provinces and cities to co-ordinate between suppliers, its central warehouse and outlets to transport goods in time.

A Big C supermarket spokesperson also said all stores across the country are open as usual and have increased stocks of essential products by two to five times.

A Lotte Mart representative said timings remain unchanged and there is abundant supply of fresh foods at all stores.

The supermarket has instructed its staff not to leave any shelf empty in order not to worry customers, he said.

On April 1, the number of shoppers decreased significantly at supermarkets, retail stores and traditional markets compared to the preceding day.

Nguyen Huynh Trang, deputy director of the city Department of Industry and Trade, said businesses participating in the city’s price stabilisation programme and manufacturers are supplying at least 30-40 per cent more goods than demanded.

"Supermarkets and shops have plans to ensure adequate supply of staple foods and foodstuffs. Therefore, we recommend that people do not stock up on foods, foodstuffs and other essential goods."

The department has also urged people to increase online and home delivery shopping to mitigate the chance of Covid-19 infection.

It has co-ordinated with other government agencies, business groups and city districts to ensure supply of essential goods at stable prices in all circumstances.

Supermarkets in the city have taken measures to safeguard customers’ health such as checking their temperature and providing them with hand sanitisers before entering the shopping area.

They regularly disinfect their stores, cleaning all areas, floors, door handles, trolleys, and surfaces of products with disinfectants, and placing hand sanitisers at entrances, toilets, customer service and cash counters, and other places.

Some have drawn lines to ensure that customers stay at least two metres away each other when queuing up.

Retailers are trying to promote sales online and on the telephone.

State budget revenue declines amid COVID-19 battle

State budget revenue in March is estimated at VND89 trillion (US$3.82 billion), equivalent to 7.1 per cent of the ordinance estimate and down 2.2 per cent from the same period last year, data of the General Department of Taxation (GDT) revealed.

A sharp reduction in crude oil revenue, which was just 70.6 per cent of March 2019’s figure, was behind the coffer’s declining revenue.

Domestic revenues dropped 0.4 per cent while revenues excluding land-use fees, dividends and remaining profit, lottery revenue and revenue from the difference between revenue and expenditure of the State Bank of Viet Nam also decreased 3.7 per cent.

Ending March, the tax sector’s accumulated revenues are expected to reach more than VND339 trillion ($14.6 billion), equalling 27 per cent of the ordinance estimate and up 10.9 per cent year-on-year.

According to the taxation authority, strong economic development in the last quarter of 2019 largely contributed to the positive revenue result in the first quarter this year. However, budget collection is showing signs of decreasing due to the rapid development of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Some major sources of revenues have declined sharply, such as VAT (value added tax) shrinking 4.5 per cent in March compared to 8 per cent growth in the fourth quarter of 2019 and 4.7 per cent rise in the first two months; special consumption tax, down 4.6 per cent in the first quarter compared to 9.5 per cent rise in previous three months; and corporate income tax, down from 17 per cent in the first two months to 14 per cent ending March.

In the first three months, the country had 30,227 newly established enterprises, an increase of 6.08 per cent year-on-year, but the number of companies terminating business increased 10.2 per cent and temporarily halting business up to more than 8 per cent.

Ending March, there were 766,512 businesses nationwide, up just 1.2 per cent compared to the end of 2019.

Tax agencies at all levels have conducted 7,056 inspections, handling total value of tax debts and fines of VND15.56 trillion, almost double the same period of 2019.

As COVID-19 continues affecting business activities, the tax authority has instructed people and businesses to declare tax online and increased online support through email, Facebook and YouTube, informing taxpayers the latest information about the extension of tax payments.

GDT has also reviewed and advised the Ministry of Finance on a support package for companies on tax and land rent worth more than VND80 trillion.

Kien Giang’s Q1 exports up 32 percent

Export revenues in the southern province of Kien Giang hit 153 million USD in the first quarter of this year, a year-on-year surge of 32 percent despite the complexities created by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the province’s Department of Industry and Trade.

In March alone, it earned in excess of 60.5 million USD, up 16.6 percent against February.

The export of certain products grew handily in the January-March period, notably rice (94.6 percent), seafood (17.4 percent), and footwear (5.1 percent).

However, earnings for frozen products, including shrimp, fish, and squid, all declined.

Department Director Ngo Kim Tuoc said products from Kien Giang were shipped to 30 countries and territories in the first quarter, with the Philippines, Japan, and Republic of Korea leading the way and buying the three staples of rice, seafood, and footwear.

The quarterly increase was attributed to contracts signed with partners prior to COVID-19 outbreak. Countries and territories had yet to restrict imports in the initial stages of the epidemic, he explained, when little impact was seen on global trade.

Some countries then bolstered rice purchases for their reserves as the disease spread, resulting in exports of the grain doubling the amount exported in the same period last year.

The province has set itself a target of earning 194 million USD from exports in the second quarter, for a first half figure of more than 347 million USD, or 44.5 percent of the annual plan.

To realise its targets, Kien Giang will continue to keep a close watch on the situation and global markets as well as ensure stable production of rice and seafood.

Quarantine zones could get free electricity

Thousands of hospitals, quarantine zones and hotels that are being used to fight the COVID-19 pandemic may have their electricity bills waived for three months starting from April.

The move is part of a proposal Vietnam Electricity (EVN) made on Tuesday to allow electricity charge exemptions and reductions for some customers. The proposal aims to ease difficulties for business while ensuring social security amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The EVN also proposed halving the power bills of medical facilities that examine, test and treat patients suspected to be infected or infected with COVID-19.

In addition to hospitals and treatment facilities, Viet Nam is using quarantine zones such as military barracks, schools, hotels, resorts and dormitories to house those suspected of infection.

EVN’s figures revealed that in the first quarter of the year, its power output and purchase from foreign countries reached 54.9 billion kWh, posting 6.62 per cent year-on-year increase.

Industrial production and construction areas which account for the largest electricity consumption still posted the highest increase in power usage of 6.38 per cent despite the difficulties caused by COVID-19. Hotels and restaurants saw a slight decrease of 0.4 per cent in power consumption in the first three months of the year against the same period last year.

Power consumption from households surged nationwide as many people started working at home or lost their jobs amid the pandemic. Households made up 35 per cent of the country’s total electricity consumption in the period.

Electricity corporations were asked to review and submit a list of the above-mentioned customer groups and provide solutions to ensure electricity supply.

Live hog price to reduce to VND60,000/kg

Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung and Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Xuan Cuong on Monday in Ha Noi called for 15 major livestock enterprises to reduce the price of live hog to VND60,000 per kilo for stability in the domestic market during the COVID-19 pandemic.

From April 1, the live hog price needs to drop to VND70,000 per kilo from VND75,000. It would continue reducing to VND65,000 per kilo by the end of the second quarter and VND60,000 in the third quarter, Dung said.

To achieve this goal, besides the efforts from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), localities and businesses, the Deputy PM said the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs need to support Vietnamese businesses in finding more pork supplies from other countries because the COVID-19 pandemic has affected trade activities.

Meanwhile, the MARD and MoIT would also organise pork imports according to the Prime Minister’s directions.

The Ministry of Finance should consider reducing import tax on pork, Dung said, while the MoIT must manage pork supply chains in the domestic market to avoid speculation and price inflation, especially in intermediate stages.

In addition, provinces and cities should create favourable conditions for farmers and businesses to re-produce pigs, he said.

The localities, especially in the North, need to prevent and strictly handle cases of smuggling pigs and pork products from Viet Nam to other countries.

At the meeting, representatives of the large livestock enterprises such as CP Viet Nam Company, Mavin Group, CJ Vina Company, Dabaco, Japfa Comfeed and Emivest, pledged to cut the price of live hogs to VND70,000 per kilo from April 1.

According to Minister Cuong, the structure of meat consumption has changed but pork will still be an important food, accounting for 65-70 per cent of meat consumption demand in Viet Nam.

From the beginning of March this year, the live hog price decreased. However, it is still at a high level now, Cuong said. The price needs to go down to a reasonable level for curbing inflation of the economy and also harmonising the interests of farmers and consumers.

That would maintain sustainable development of the domestic pork market, he said.

At the meeting, Vu Anh Tuan, deputy general director of CP Vietnam Livestock Joint Stock Company, said CP Viet Nam has cut the price of live hogs to VND73,000-75,000 per kilo now from VND80,000-85,000 early this year.

Other large livestock enterprises have lowered their prices for live hogs but consumers must still buy pork at very high prices, Tuan said.

“With the price of live hogs at VND75,000 per kilo, the selling price of pork is only around VND100,000 per kilo. In fact, the average price of pork on the domestic market is still at a higher level and even up to VND140,000,” Tuan said.

That means the cost for intermediary stages currently accounts for a large part of the selling price, so the State needs to have solutions to reduce this factor.

In the future, CP Viet Nam will promote the sale of pork to consumers, he said. The company expects to put its slaughterhouse in Chuong My, Ha Noi into operation by the end of 2020, with a capacity of over 4,000 pigs per day. This will complete the company’s supply chain and reduce the intermediaries. Besides, CP Viet Nam has cooperated with processing plants to produce chilled meat products for domestic consumption.

Meanwhile, the companies at the meeting said that the Government should put pork on the list of price stabilisation goods to avoid strong fluctuations in price.

According to MARD, to reduce the pork price, the Government has permitted to increase pork imports from the end of 2019.

From January 1 until March 27, Viet Nam imported 39,191 tonnes of pork, a year on year increase of 312 per cent, including 25.8 per cent from Canada, 20.6 per cent from Germany, 13.8 per cent from Poland, 9.7 per cent from Brazil, 7.7 per cent from the US and 2.6 per cent from Russia.

The ministry also expects that the domestic production will supply a total output of 3.9 million tonnes this year to meet domestic consumption. Of which, there are 811,000 tonnes in the first quarter and 950,000 tonnes in the second quarter. The output is estimated to surge to 1 million tonnes in the third quarter and 1.1 million tonnes in the fourth quarter.

FDI into HCM City in Q1 drops 33% year-on-year

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

During this period, the city had 290 new projects with total registered capital of $142.5 million. While the number of new projects increased by 14.2 per cent compared to last year, their combined value dropped by 50.7 per cent.

 

Around $80.8 million of capital was poured into existing projects, a 30.9 increase year-on-year.

Meanwhile, $829.3 million was invested in buying shares and capital contributions.

New investment in commerce accounted for over 60 per cent of the total new investment capital in new projects. Other industries included science and technology, information and media, construction, and processing.

Thirty-seven countries and territories invested in the city during the period, including Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan.

As of March 20, the city had over 9,400 FDI projects, with total registered capital of $47.5 billion.

As for domestic investment, as of March 15, the city saw over 8,100 new businesses with a total registered capital of VND95 trillion ($4 billion), a 30.7 per cent decrease in terms of capital year-on-year.

Site clearance for major southern airport to be completed in October

Authorities in the southern province of Dong Nai are working hard to ensure site clearance for the Long Thanh Airport project is completed by October.

Nguyen Dong Thanh, Director of the Dong Nai provincial Land Fund Development Centre, said that to build the airport, the State will revoke 5,000 hectares of land, including 1,800 hectares from 17 offices and organisations. The Dong Nai Rubber Corporation will be the hardest hit with over 1,700 hectares to be revoked.

Dong Nai has finished compensation payments to the corporation to build two household resettlement areas in Loc An and Binh Son communes in Long Thanh district, while the corporation has also begun demolishing rubber trees to hand over the site.

Long Thanh Airport is a national key project. Covering a total area of more than 5,580 hectares, the airport will cross six communes in Long Thanh district. Its total investment is 336.63 trillion VND (14.35 billion USD), with construction divided into three phases.

Work on the first phase is expected to start in 2021, during which a runway and a passenger terminal along with other support works will be built to serve 25 million passengers and 1.2 million tonnes of cargo each year. The first phase is expected to be completed by 2025.

Once fully operational, Long Thanh Airport will reduce the load on Tan Son Nhat International Airport in HCM City. It is expected to handle 100 million passengers and 5 million tonnes of freight each year./.

COVID-19 brings Hanoi GrabBike services to halt

COVID-19 brings Hanoi GrabBike services to halt are halted in Hanoi from April 2 to 15 in an effort to help curb the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic.

A representative from Grab said the ride-hailing firm has decided to suspend GrabBike services in the capital until April 15 to ensure safety for customers and drivers during the pandemic, following directions from Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and Chairman of the Hanoi People’s Committee Nguyen Duc Chung.

However, other services are still available nationwide such as GrabFood (excluding Da Nang) and GrabExpress.

GrabMart in Ho Chi Minh City and GrabAssistant in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Da Nang are kept operating as usual.

On April 1, Grab suspended car services like GrabCar, GrabCar Plus, GrabCar Business, GrabTaxi, GrabRent, and JustGrab in all cities and provinces until April 15.

Exports of some farm produce via Lao Cai border gate surge in Q1

Exports of several kinds of farm produce to China via Lao Cai border gate (the northern border province of Lao Cai) increased in the first quarter of this year despite the COVID-19 pandemic, said deputy head of the border gate’s customs branch Tran Anh Tu on April 1.

As of the end of Q1, export revenues of watermelon hit over 8.4 million USD, a year-on-year surge of 190 percent; while those of mango stood at 7.4 million USD, up 11.5 times compared to the same period last year.

However, earnings from dragon fruit, cassava and tapioca starch strongly declined in the reviewed period.

The export of machinery and industrial goods through the border gate has almost stopped since the beginning of the year.

As a result, total exports-imports through the Lao Cai border gate in January-March stood at 242.8 million USD, a year-on-year decrease of 33.8 percent.

Of the figure, 119.6 million USD was from exports, dropping 49 percent, while imports reached 123.2 million USD, down 6 percent.

Statistics of the border gate’s customs branch showed that as of the end of March, State budget collection at the border gate was only 232.6 billion VND (9.85 million USD), equivalent to 68.5 percent of the same period in 2019.

Vietnamese firms supported in export to Singapore amid COVID-19

Around 500 tonnes of Vietnamese products, including coffee, instant noodle, sweet potato, cabbage, pineapple, watermelon, and dragon fruit, were exported to Singapore in March, according to the Vietnamese Commercial Affair Office in Singapore

Amid COVID-19 outbreak, the agency has actively connected with industry associations of the host country and those in Vietnam in order to support Vietnamese firms in taking advantage of opportunities to boost their exports to Singapore.

Apart from organising field trips for Singaporean fruit and vegetable importers to Vietnam to seek supply sources in February, the office has also continued to collect information related to the public procurement demand of the Singapore Government, and actively implemented trade promotion and business matching activities.

According to statistics of the Singapore Enterprise Department, Vietnam's export value to the country in February increased 49 percent compared to a month earlier, and up 102.78 percent compared to the same period in 2019.

The office proposed to the representative office of Vietnam Airlines in Singapore to join hands in supporting Vietnamese exporters, and the carrier has maintained cargo flights from Singapore to Hanoi and HCM City and vice versa.

Particularly, the national flag carrier has also offered preferential shipping rates lower than the market price for Vietnamese firms’ exports to Singapore./.

HCM City’s exports up 7.5 percent in first quarter

HCM City earned 9.85 billion USD from exports in the first quarter of 2020, a year-on-year increase of 7.5 percent, thanks to support policies and effective trade promotion.

However, the export value of agro-forestry-fishery products fell due to lower prices.

Agricultural exports dropped by 3.2 percent to 860 million USD, with coffee shipments declining by 11.1 percent to 143.2 million USD, and rubber shipments by more than 37 percent to 85.5 million USD.

Forestry exports were worth 132.6 million USD, down 8.9 percent, and fisheries exports declined by nearly a fifth to 188.3 million USD.

Industrial products accounted for 78.4 percent of the city’s exports. They were worth 6.76 billion USD, as shipments of computers, electronic products and accessories increased by 35.3 percent to 3.59 billion USD.

Textile and garment exports fell 11.3 percent to 1.17 billion USD.

China remained the city’s largest export market, buying goods worth more than 2.15 billion USD, a 31.6 percent increase and accounting for 23.4 percent of total exports.

The second largest market was the US, with an export value of more than 1.58 billion USD, up 5.9 percent./.

HCM City attracts over 1 billion USD in FDI

HCM City had lured over 1 billion USD in foreign direct investment (FDI) this year as at March 20, down 33 percent compared to the same period last year, according to the city’s statistics office.

The figure includes newly-registered capital, additional capital in existing projects, capital contributions, and shares purchased by foreign investors.

The city granted new investment licenses to 290 projects with investment of 142.5 million USD, up 14.2 percent in project number but down 50.7 percent in value.

Forty-six existing projects added 80.8 million USD in capital, a year-on-year increase of 30.9 percent.

The city also approved capital contributions and share purchases by 1,342 foreign investors totaling 829.3 million USD.

Some 37 countries and territories pumped capital into the southern city in the January-March period./.

Ministry implements procedures for EVFTA ratification

The Ministry of Industry and Trade has been coordinating with relevant ministries and departments to complete all necessary procedures for the ratification of the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA).

According to the ministry, the European Council on March 30 passed a decision to ratify the EVFTA, which was approved by the European Parliament on February 12.

This decision is the final legal step under the EU’s internal approval procedure, which is expected to pave way for the deal to come into force, the ministry said.

Once ratified by the Vietnamese National Assembly in May this year, the deal will officially take effect, it added.

Under the agreement, Vietnam will cut 65 percent of import tax on EU commodities right after the deal takes effect, while the rest will be erased over a 10-year period. Meanwhile, the EU will cut more than 70 percent of tariffs on Vietnam's commodities right after the deal takes effect, while the rest will be abolished in the seven subsequent years./.

QI agriculture posts nearly 49 percent growth in trade surplus

Vietnam’s agriculture sector gained a trade surplus of nearly 2.9 billion USD in the first quarter of 2020, up 48.9 percent from a year earlier, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

During the three-month period, the sector achieved a total trade value of approximately 15.2 billion USD from horticultural, forestry and aquatic products, with exports worth 9.06 billion USD, equal to the same period last year; and imports of about 6.2 billion USD, down 13.2 percent.

Exports of key horticultural products declined 3.1 percent year-on-year to 4.2 billion USD. A similar trend was witnessed in exports of main forestry products (2.8 billion USD, down 16.13 percent), aquatic products (1.5 billion USD, 14 percent) and livestock products (109 million USD, 21.8 percent).

However, several items maintained growth, including rice, cassava, and wood and timber products. The country exported 1.7 million tonnes of rice from January – March for 774 million USD, up 19.9 percent and 27.8 percent, respectively. Exports of wood and timber products valued 2.62 billion USD, up 15.9 percent.

The biggest contraction was seen in the export of tra fish, which was worth 238 million USD, down 61.5 percent. It was followed by rubber (down 26.1 percent), tea (19 percent), and pepper (13.9 percent).

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the US replaced China as Vietnam’s largest buyer who imported 2.1 billion USD worth of agricultural products, up 18 percent and accounting for 23.2 percent of the total export revenue. China came second with 21.4 percent, followed by the EU (13.1 percent), Japan (8.9 percent), and ASEAN (16.4 percent)./.

Vietnam’s car imports plummet over 40 percent in first two months

Vietnam imported 14,523 cars in the first two months of 2020, representing a year-on-year plunge of 43.7 percent, according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT).

Of the number, 10,768 were under-nine-seat cars, contracting 39.6 percent, and 3,425 passenger cars, down 53.3 percent.

In February, assembled cars purchased from the two main markets of Thailand (6,271 cars) and Indonesia (3,416) accounted for a lion’s share of 94 percent of total car imports in the month.

The decline was attributed to the huge inventory left over from 2019. Importers are also waiting for a Government decision to reduce or exempt import tariffs on auto parts in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a recent report by the MoIT’s Department of Industry, Vietnam imported auto parts worth nearly 4 billion USD in the first two months of this year, the main volume of which came from the Republic of Korea with 1.14 billion USD (28.5 percent), Japan 720 million USD (18.04 percent) and China 700 million USD (18 percent)./.

Cần Thơ rice farmers switch to high-value sesame

Among measures to cope with drought and fresh water shortage, the switch to sesame crops in the dry season has provided rice farmers in Cần Thơ City with higher incomes in recent years.

It is estimated that the city has turned nearly 2,270ha of rice fields into sesame in the current summer-autumn crop, a year-on-year increase of 1,713ha, according to the city’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The sesame plant is mostly cultivated in Thốt Nốt, Ô Môn, Cờ Đỏ and Vĩnh Thạnh districts.

Sesame is a short-day and drought-resistant plant. It takes around 75 days before being harvested.

The profit from planting sesame is two to three times higher than rice, equivalent to VNĐ7.5 million (US$320) per hectare.

With last year’s bumper harvest summer-autumn crop and high selling prices, sesame farmers earned a profit of VNĐ50 million ($2,145) per hectare.

The department said sesame helps improve the soil's fertility and saves irrigation water, especially in the dry season.

Rice rotated with sesame also helps reduce diseases for the next rice crops.

The city has more than 9,280ha of rice fields that have been turned into bean and vegetable cultivation and short-term industrial plants this crop, up 2,490ha compared to last year’s summer-autumn crop.

Cần Thơ speeds up work on massive urban project

The southern city of Cần Thơ is determined to accelerate work on the urban development and resilience project (project No.3).

The total investment is VNĐ7.8 trillion (US$332 million) including VNĐ5.6 trillion (US$238 million) from official development assistance (ODA), VNĐ227 billion ($9.6 million) from the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) and VNĐ1.9 trillion ($80.9 million) from reciprocal capital.

Project No.3 includes three components, flood control and environmental sanitation, urban corridor development and urban climate change adaptation management

These components play an important role, contributing to urban beautification, protecting the city from natural disasters and connecting it with new urban areas and fostering social-economic development.

Since the project involves large investment and is of great significance to the city’s development, the administration has directed related units and contractors to work cohesively to ensure quality.

According to the city’s ODA Project management board, the project has 46 bidding packages including 27 construction packages that are included in component nos.1 and 2. Work has begun on 12 of them.

The construction package includes building the Quang Trung Bridge between Ninh Kiều and Cái Răng districts and Cách Mạng Tháng 8 and Trần Hoàng Na streets.

These are expected to be completed by the end of this year, but the city has strengthened oversight and directed related units to speed up work on those three.

Deputy chairman of city People’s Committee, Đào Anh Dũng, has also directed them to ease difficulties related to site clearance and compensation payment.

The successful generation transfer within Alphanam Group

Alphanam was founded in 1995 by Vietnamese businessman Nguyen Tuan Hai at the age of 30. The company quickly became Vietnam’s leading contractor for mechanical and engineering products.

For the first ten years since the company’s foundation, Alphanam was involved in many industries, such as infrastructure, electrical engineering, and paints with factories across the country.

In 2011, the group opened a new chapter when chairman Nguyen Tuan Hai let his son Nguyen Minh Nhat and his daughter Nguyen Ngoc My take over parts of the business to lead the group.

With these new young team leaders, the company entered the real estate sector with a firm foothold, developing a series of prestigious real estate projects in Lao Cai, Hanoi, Danang, Binh Dinh, and Ho Chi Minh City, among others. Nhat was appointed as CEO of Alphanam Real Estate JSC at the age of 28 while My has been the CEO of Foodinco Land JSC since the age of 25.

Explaining his faith in his children’s management abilities and responsibilities, Hai said, “I believe I am not as good as my children and the reality is proving that.”

Since his children were small, Hai often brought them to his business trips, showed them his work, his partners and manufacturers.

“Those lessons we learnt from our father from early childhood helped us a lot and determine how we act today,” said Nhat.

Alphanam’s series of real estate projects throughout Vietnam include hospitality, residential, commercial, and urban planning projects with a great contribution from both of Hai’s children. Their successes are highlighted by the negotiations with Marriott International, and InterContinental Hotels Group, bringing in nearly 15 hotel projects, besides Altara, the brand Alphanam developed itself.

Among these hotel projects, the imposing real estate projects of M Landmark tower, the Altara Suites, and Four Points by Sheraton hotel are some candidates to create new luxury accommodations and apartments for both residents and travellers in Danang City.

In addition, the group also pays much attention to cultural tourism promotion with its Muong Hoa Cultural Park that encompasses a full range of attractions, accommodation, and public amenities. The programmes and architecture work in tandem to accentuate and enhance the landscape.

Designed with respect to nature, the terrain, and local communities, the cultural park aspires to provide visitors an experience through giving the five indigenous tribes a voice that reverberates throughout the valley of Sapa to the world.

“The plan to bring Sapa to the world stage does not stop at just one hotel. We have more projects in the pipeline such as Courtyard by Marriott hotel, JW Marriott Resort & Spa, Holiday Inn Resort, and InterContinental Resort, to offer a variety of products in Sapa fit for different domestic and international demands,” My shared.

Apart from business, My told VIR more about what she has done with the Alphanam Green Foundation. The foundation, founded in 2016, is currently sponsoring a series of environmental initiatives to help establish better living standards for communities across Vietnam.

My also shared that the succession in her family takes place naturally. “My father has never imposed on us, he always raises the matter and entrusts us with those duties, and then lets us find the way ourselves,” she said.

Both Nhat and My shared that they learn from their father. “We are not afraid of a challenge and always adhere to our father’s saying, ‘Do more than what you say’.

At present, according to Hai, he has passed down over 70 per cent of the group’s activities to his children and works now as an advisor, backing the two in managing the business. After years of ups and downs, both Nhat and My play a key role in the group’s impressive business activities and have gained a lot of achievements that help them to create a new fruitful face for Alphanam’s family business.

An Giang to raise over $275m for new-style rural area building

The Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta province of An Giang plans to mobilise VND6.5 trillion (US$275.4 million) for the new-style rural area building programme for 2021-25, according to its People’s Committee.

It would focus on acquiring land and reviewing and zoning public lands to be able to solicit investment from businesses, Tran Anh Thu, its deputy chairman, said.

To meet the new-style rural area standards, communes and districts must meet 20 criteria related to infrastructure, irrigation, electricity, environment, income, education, healthcare, social security, culture, and others.

The province and its districts and communes have focused investment to meet each criterion.

Thu said: “An Giang Province will effectively apply investment support policies … to attract investment … and encourage enterprises to invest in rural infrastructure in build - operate - transfer form. This will help develop a convenient transport network connecting roads in hamlets and communes with national highways and provincial roads, creating favourable conditions for the transport of agricultural products.”

It would speed up agricultural and rural economic restructure, foster the use of technology in agriculture and focus on products it has advantages in to enhance its competitiveness and economic efficiency, he said.

It would also focus on improving the quality of vocational training to provide enterprises with skilled workers, he said.

It would strive to ensure two more districts, Chau Moi and Chau Thanh, meet all the criteria for being recognised as new-style rural districts, he said.

Three others, Thoai Son District and Chau Doc and Long Xuyen cities, have already met the standards and would be improved to enable at least one meets the raised standards for new-style rural districts by 2025, he said.

The province would strive to turn 75 per cent of hamlets in communes with “special difficulties” and border communes into new-style rural hamlets and get another 28 communes recognised as new-style rural communes by 2025, he said.

It wants to have more than 75 per cent of schools achieving national standards in terms of facilities and the number of poor households reducing by 0.5 percentage points per year on average until 2025.

The province also expects to have 90 per cent of its population having health insurance, and 95 -100 per cent of households in rural areas having access to clean water.

It said the national target programme on building new-style rural areas has spread across the province, giving rural areas a facelift and improving living conditions.

Sixty-one out of its 119 communes achieved the new-style rural commune status by the end of last year, an increase of 48 since 2015.

 
 

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