BUSINESS NEWS HEADLINES DEC. 4

Over 1.12 billion USD mobilised from G-bond auctions on HNX

BUSINESS NEWS HEADLINES DEC. 4

The Hanoi Stock Exchange (HNX) held 25 auctions in November, mobilising over 26 trillion VND (1.12 billion USD) worth of G-bonds, up 29 percent from the previous month.

Of the amount, 13.7 trillion VND was raised by the State Treasury and the remainder by the Vietnam Development Bank.

The interest rates of successfully-bid bonds issued by the State Treasury dropped by 0.01-0.48 percent per year compared to October, with five-year bonds and 20-year bonds experiencing the strongest drop of 0.48 percent and 0.3 percent, respectively.

On the secondary G-bond market, trading volume averaged over 10.5 trillion VND per session, a month-on-month increase of 18.6 percent. Meanwhile, transacted volume through repurchasing agreements (repos) accounted for 40.8 percent of the total trading volume, up 1.8 percent from October.

Total outright purchases of G-bonds in the month hit over 130.8 trillion VND, rising 5.1 percent against the previous month, while total trading volume of G-bonds via repos was valued 90.2 trillion VND, increasing 13.3 percent from October.

Foreign investors made outright purchases of more than 4.7 trillion VND, and outright sales of some 5.3 trillion VND. They did not make any repo transactions.

In the 11-month period, the State Treasury mobilised over 204 trillion VND worth of G-bonds through auctions on HNX, equivalent to 81.6 percent of its yearly plan.

Total listed G-bonds were valued at more than 1.14 quadrillion VND as of November 30./.

Hanoi expects to overfulfil many yearly targets

Hanoi expects to overfulfil seven out of 22 targets set for this year, Vice Chairman of the city People’s Committee Nguyen The Hung reported to the municipal People’s Council on December 3.

In a report delivered at the 11th session of the 15th-tenure People’s Council, the Vice Chairman said the capital would surpass the targets in per capita GRDP, social investment, exports, voluntary social insurance, poverty reduction, urban unemployment and clean water supply for rural areas.

The report said the city’s Gross Regional Domestic Product (GRDP) expands by an estimated 7.46 percent in 2019, the highest growth in four years. The business and investment environment continued to be imported, with the city attracting 8.05 billion USD of foreign direct investment, leading the country in terms of FDI attraction.

Besides the achievements, the report pointed out outstanding problems and shortcomings, including a 33 percent reduction in the pig herd due to the African swine fever, slow disbursement of investment in capital construction, and the slow land clearance for some major projects which affect the projects’ pace and investment effectiveness.

Next year, Hanoi will strive for a GRDP growth of at least 7.5 percent, per capita GRDP of 136 million VND, a minimum increase of 8 percent in exports, and an urban unemployment rate of under 4 percent./.

Dong Nai records fast FDI disbursement

The southern province of Dong Nai has seen swift disbursement of foreign direct investment (FDI) which surpassed the province’s plan, said local officials.

In the first 10 months of 2019, more than 1 billion USD of FDI capital was disbursed, mostly in industrial production. The province has set the target for the entire year at 1 billion USD.

The provincial Department of Planning and Investment said the province is now home to 1,447 valid FDI projects with total registered capital of 29.8 billion USD.

Nearly 24 billion USD have been disbursed so far.

Head of the province’s industrial park management board Cao Tien Sy said among projects with high disbursement rate, more than 60 percent are in the supporting industry, which is the province’s priority.

Earlier this year, Japanese Fujitsu company disbursed an additional 60 million USD to expand its electronic component production line.

In 2018, Germany’s Bosch discharged 71 million USD to expand a factory at the Long Thanh industrial zone to produce automobile parts.

The rapid disbursement of investment capital has contributed to a high growth in industrial production.

Dong Nai has seen an annual growth of over 8 percent in industrial production index, and 13 percent in export revenue. Contributions to the State budget by FDI firms in the province have increased by about 20 million USD per year.

Businesses from 45 countries and territories have invested in the province, with the Republic of Korea, Taiwan (China) and Japan leading the way./.

Vietnam Airlines wins two travel awards

Vietnam Airlines has been recognised as the world’s leading cultural airline and the world’s leading airline-premium economy class by the World Travel Awards (WTA) at a recent ceremony in Oman.

These two global awards mark an enormous achievement following the recognition obtained at the Asian competition in October in which Vietnam Airlines was presented the following three accolades including Asia’s Leading Airline - Economy Class, Asia’s Leading Airline - Premium Economy Class, and Asia’s Leading Airline Brand.

This is the fourth consecutive year that the carrier has received WTA awards at Asia and global levels.

These awards were granted to Vietnam Airlines thanks to increasing efforts to improve its customer service and upgrade its fleet, said Graham E Cooke, Founder of World Travel Awards.

Currently, Vietnam Airlines provides Premium Economy class on international routes between Vietnam and Japan, the Republic of Korea, Western Europe, and Australia.

Early in 2017, the airline’s Premium Economy class was ranked by Skytrax as one of the 20 best airlines in the world for this service.

This year marks a new milestone for Vietnam Airlines as it launched its Premium Economy class on domestic flights between Hanoi-Ho Chi Minh City with service standards nearly equivalent to that of Business Class.

The World Travel Awards were established in 1993 to acknowledge, reward, and celebrate the best providers in travel, tourism, and hospitality. The WTA is known as the ‘Oscars of the tourism industry’ and is widely identified as a prestigious certification that recognises the best tourism and travel brands globally./.

Vietnam enjoys trade surplus with Israel in first 10 months

Two-way trade between Vietnam and Israel hit around 899 million USD in the first 10 months of 2019, with Vietnam enjoying a trade surplus of 401 million USD.

According to Vietnamese Trade Counsellor in Israel Le Thai Hoa, footwear shipments to Israel reported a year-on-year surge of 21.5 percent in the 10 months, while cashew exports rose 1.2 percent.

Vietnam’s aquatic exports to the market plunged 30.5 percent against the same period last year as Israel tightened safety regulations on imported food products.

Exports of coffee and garment-textiles also recorded decreases of 15.5 percent and 4.2 percent in the period, respectively.

Meanwhile, Vietnamese rice varieties and frozen shrimp have gained footholds in the Israeli market.

The country’s export revenue to Israel is projected to surpass 800 million USD in 2019, a slight rise against last year, while imports will stand at about 300 million USD.

The trade counsellor noted that many businesses in Israel are eyeing cooperation with their Vietnamese counterparts in the fields of investment, start-ups, science-technology application, cyber security, telecommunications and information technology, fintech and agriculture, among others.

Some Israeli companies are looking at opening factories in the Southeast Asian nation to produce consumer goods by transferring their manufacturing bases from Vietnam’s neighbours to reduce production costs, he added.

Israel is among Vietnam’s top partners in the Middle East in terms of economic and science-technology cooperation.

Two-way trade surpassed 1.2 billion USD last year./.

Vietnam’s wood exports likely to reach 11 bln USD in 2019

Vietnam’s export turnover of wood and forestry products is forecast to hit 11 billion USD in 2019, according to an official from the Vietnam Administration of Forestry (VAF).

Deputy General Director of the VAF Cao Chi Cong said foreign investment and cooperation have significantly contributed to the forestry sector’s growth in recent years.

Vietnamese wood and forestry products are exported to over 120 countries and territories worldwide.

Vietnam ranks first in ASEAN, second in Asia and fifth in the world for wood exports. It is one of the key exports for the country’s agriculture and rural development sector.

Cong said the forestry industry is Vietnam’s sixth most important export sector with annual average growth of over 13 percent from 2010-2018.

According to Dien Quang Hiep, Chairman of the Binh Duong Furniture Association (BIFA), Vietnam’s forestry industry has enjoyed tax reduction from the ASEAN Free Trade Agreement (AFTA), creating conditions for wood exporters to reach out to the world market.

However, challenges related to the high price of materials, strict quality requirements, design and origin of products require Vietnamese enterprises to build specific plans and development strategies, Hiep said.

They should focus on maintaining export growth in big markets such as the US, Japan, China, the EU and the Republic of Korea; and expand market share in new markets such as South America, Russia, Australia, Canada and India, he added.

Vietnam’s forestry sector aims to lift its export turnover of wooden products to 12-13 billion USD in 2020, and between 18-20 billion USD by 2025.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the export value of wood and forestry products in the first eight months of 2019 reached 7.08 billion USD, up 18.6 percent year on year.

The US is the largest market for Vietnam's timber industry, accounting for 45 percent of the industry's total export value. Export growth to the market hits 15-17 percent each year./.

Smart Grid Week Vietnam 2019 underway in Hanoi

The Smart Grid Week Vietnam 2019 has been underway in Hanoi since December 2, featuring a series of conferences and workshops for government officials, national and international professionals and partners as well as associations.

Lasting until December 5, the week provides a chance to experts and business delegates to discuss trends and visions for a sustainable power system in Vietnam in the future, exchange knowledge and experience on smart energy solutions that enable high proportions of renewable energy and energy efficiency, and showcase emerging innovative technologies and applications for the power system of the future.

The Electricity Regulatory Authority of Vietnam (ERAV) at the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) and the German Corporation for International Cooperation (GIZ) in Vietnam are hosting the week. It is part of the Smart Grids for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Project, which is being jointly implemented by ERAV and GIZ.

At the opening ceremony, ERAV’s Director General Nguyen Anh Tuan noted that Vietnam has seen significant growth in its power sector, which has made an important contribution to the country’s industrialization, modernization, and socioeconomic development.

Developing a smart grid is the right step forward for Vietnam and after nearly seven years of implementation and application of state-of-the-art technologies, the quality and reliability of the country’s power supply have improved.

Along with a general trend towards clean and renewable energy development, the application of smart grid technologies is an effective solution to integrate and operate new and renewable energy sources stably and smoothly as well as promote development and increase the proportion and efficient use of renewable energies, thereby contributing to environmental protection, national energy security, and sustainable development, Tuan said.

Sebastian Paust, Head of Development Cooperation at the German Embassy in Vietnam said Vietnam has seen impressive growth in the share of renewable energies in electricity production this year. However, to reach a higher share of renewable energy, Vietnam should take more measures, especially supporting the integration of solar and wind energy in the grid, he said, adding that in Germany, nearly half of electricity comes from renewable sources (standing at 47 percent in the first half of 2019), mostly from wind and solar energy.

“At this event, we would like to exchange international experience in measures and solutions to support a higher share of solar and wind energy in Vietnam,” he said.

After the official opening day, the second day of the Smart Grid Week, entitled “Power System Innovation Day”, focused on emerging power system technology solutions for a modern and sustainable future power system.

On December 4, named the “Smart Grid Symposium Vietnam” day, seminars will be held for knowledge exchange between power system experts and academics on the topics of flexibility options for high shares of renewable energy, the impact of renewable energy on the power system, and enabling a smart grid with regulatory frameworks.

Entitled “Future Lab: Internet of Energy”, the final day (December 5) will feature open discussions on visions for the power system of the future./.

HCMC expects to attract US$ 8 billion FDI in 2019

HCMC expected to attract US$ 8 billion of FDI in 2019, equivalent to 101% of the same period last year.

Foreign investors got licences for 1,200 FDI projects worth US$ 1.85 billion, up 13% in number and equivalent to 224% of total investment capital.
Meanwhile, 300 projects were expanded with a total investment capital of US$ 850 million.

The local authorities allowed 5,500 foreign investors to buy shares worth US$ 5.3 billion.

The local authorities attributed the outcomes to 203 effective trade and investment promotion programs. The city also welcomed 310 domestic and foreign delegations to seek investment and business promotion in the city.

In addition, the city also deployed a working group in charge of dealing with business difficulties and obstacles for enterprises and investors especially large-scale ones.

In the coming time, HCMC will continue to promote foreign investment attraction; hold direct dialogues and investment promotion conferences between the local authorities and enterprises to attract domestic and foreign investors.

The Foreign Investment Agency under the Ministry of Planning and Investment reported that as of November 20, 2019, foreign investors poured nearly US$ 31.8 billion in newly-registered projects, expand projects and buy shares, up 3.1% against the same period last year. Up to 3,478 projects were freshly licensed with a total investment of US$ 14.6 billion, up 28.2% in number but down 7% in value in comparison with the same period last year./.

Garments expected to grow 7.55% in 2019

The garment sector in 2019 is expected to grow 7.55% against the previous year, gaining the expected export value of US$39 billion (US$1 billion lower than the target set for the year), said President of the Viet Nam Textile and Apprarel Association (VITAS) Vu Duc Giang.

Viet Nam’s garment exports to big markets such as the U.S., EU, China, Japan and the Republic of Korea witness high growths of 8.9%, 2.23%, 7.05%, 4.79% and 4.42%, respectively.

Despite huge impacts from the world’s economic recession and the trade disputes between big economies, especially the U.S.-China trade war, Viet Nam’s garment exports maintain high growth.
Viet Nam’s garment imports obtained US$22.38 billion, up 2.21% while the import value serving for exports achieved US$19.26 billion, up 4.96%. The domestic value added in gross exports (trade surplus) gained from garments was estimated at US$19.73 billion, up 10.19%.

The excess of exports over imports saw an increase of US$2.25 billion, reaching US$16.62 billion, up 15.7 percentage point compared to the previous year.

By 2030, Viet Nam’s garment heads to earn US$85-90 billion from exporting, developing 25-30 Viet Nam’s brand names.

Vietnam to soon regulate condotels: Construction Ministry

A regulatory framework for condotels must be soon made to end the current chaos which causes huge losses to secondary investors.

Vietnam’s relevant agencies will complete required documents within this month to soon introduce regulations on condotel, a real estate segment that has boomed in recent years yet is not regulated, a deputy minister of construction said at a governmental meeting on December 2.

Under Decree No.11 released in April 2019 by Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, the Ministry of Construction is required to draft regulations on standards of condotel and the operation of this segment.

The Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism needs to issue regulations on the management of condotels while the Ministry of Science and Technology is tasked with issuing guidelines on land ownership for condotels.

All the documents must be completed in December to create a legal framework for condotels, Deputy Minister Le Quang Hung said at a regular government press meeting Monday.

He pointed out several legislative bottlenecks of this segment, which include the lack of legal framework, lack of ownership certificate, lack of management regulations, and contract breach between primary and secondary investors.

For these reasons, the Ministry of Construction and local authorities have warned secondary investors of risks of investing in this segment, Hung said.

In 2017, the ministry and some local governments made reports warning the overheating of condotels amid legal uncertainty. In 2018, the ministry asked localities which are home to many condotels projects to examine the projects. Attention to infrastructure and population density at condotel projects was also alerted.

According to Hung, condotels appeared in 2015 and stirred the market in 2016 and 2017 and came to a stall in 2018 and 2019.

So far, the number of condotels is approximately 30,000.

To solve the problems, the ministry has made some recommendations, such as making transparent information of construction progress and risks in primary investors’ commitments; issuing the warnings; tightening credit for real estate projects, including condotels; and working out regulations on contracts made between primary and secondary investors.

The government move has been made following the announcement to stop paying profits for secondary investors at Cocobay Complex in the central city of Danang. The investor of the VND14-trillion (US$617 million) project said they will stop the profit delivery of 12% per annum to its clients from January 1, 2020 due to a financial collapse.

Japan enterprises want to take part in Vietnam’s privatization process

Japanese enterprises want to be updated on legal procedures so that they could play a more active role in the process of state-owned enterprises privatization in Vietnam.

Japanese enterprises are willing to take part in the restructuring and privatization processes of Vietnam’s state-owned enterprises (SOEs), according to Yoshiki Onoi, chairman of Japan’s International Friendship Exchange Council (FEC) and vice executive of Electric Power Development company (J-POWER).

Members of the FEC are interested in the privatization process in Vietnam, said Onoi in a meeting with Minister of Finance Dinh Tien Dung on December 2.

Onoi expected the Ministry of Finance (MoF) to provide information on Vietnam’s legal procedures related to build-operate-transfer (BOT), public-private partnership (PPP) models, as well as other regulations and laws, so that Japanese enterprises could play an active role during the privatization of local SOEs.

At the meeting, Minister Dung said Japan is Vietnam’s largest official development assistance (ODA) donor, and the second largest investor out of 106 countries and territories.

Dung said in 2019, Vietnam’s GDP growth rate is set to reach 6.8%, inflation at 2.5 – 2.6%, meaning stable macro-economic conditions.

According to Dung, Vietnam aims to enhance efficiency of SOEs during the 2020 – 2021 period. The MoF is revising regulations regarding SOE privatization, while encouraging foreign investors to take part in the process.

In the coming time, the Vietnamese government would focus on perfecting legal framework and foreign investment policies, aiming to improve the business environment.

Regarding the SOE privatization, Dung stressed the process would be carried out in a transparent and fair manner.

“The MoF is committed to creating favorable conditions for Japanese investors doing businesses in Vietnam,” Dung stated.

Vietnam manufacturing output increase for first time in 3 months

The headline Nikkei Vietnam Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) registered 51.0 in November, up from the neutral reading of 50.0 in October.

The Vietnamese manufacturing sector returned to growth in November as output increased for the first time in three months and new orders expanded at a faster pace, according to Nikkei and IHS Markit.

The headline Nikkei Vietnam Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) registered 51.0 in November, up from the neutral reading of 50.0 in October. The PMI signaled a marginal improvement in the health of the sector. Business conditions have now strengthened in all but one month across the past four years.

A reading below the 50 neutral mark indicates no change from the previous month, while a reading below 50 indicates contractions and above 50 points to an expansion.

 

Production increased for the first time in three months during November, following marginal reductions in September and October. Where output rose, panelists generally linked this to higher new orders, which expanded more quickly than in October.

New business has now increased in each month throughout the past four years. Improved customer demand and the securing of new clients were reportedly behind the rise in new work. Growth of new export orders also picked up in November. Employment rose for the first time in three months amid increased new orders. Despite greater capacity and a return to growth of production, firms reported another modest accumulation of backlogs of work.

Firms were helped in their purchasing efforts by a quickening of suppliers' delivery times, the first time this has been the case in four months. Stocks of finished goods, meanwhile, fell for the second month in a row. Some panelists indicated that they had used postproduction inventories to help meet new orders following slight reductions in output in previous months.

Business sentiment dipped from October, but remained positive as around two-fifths of respondents predicted an increase in output over the coming year. According to survey participants, optimism was centered on expected growth of new orders and efforts to expand capacity.

“Some positive news on the Vietnamese manufacturing sector was evident from the latest PMI dataset, with output up for the first time in three months and a return to employment growth signaled. This suggests that the recent soft patch may be coming to an end,” said Andrew Harker, associate director at IHS Markit, which compiles the survey.

"Firms are still playing catch-up to some degree from restrictions to output and capacity in recent months, however, seeing backlogs of work continue to rise and needing to use stocks to help supplement production. This bodes well for trends in output and employment in coming months as firms continue efforts to meet ongoing rises in new orders.”

South Korea GS Energy to build 3,000MW LNG power plant in Vietnam

The partnership will enable GS Energy to accumulate business know-how of the “LNG value chain” in Vietnam.

South Korea’s GS Energy has inked a deal with Vietnam-focused fund manager VinaCapital to build a liquefied natural gas (LNG)-fired power plant in southern Vietnam.

Through the partnership, the two firms will jointly build a 3,000-megawattt LNG-fired combined cycle power plant and sell electricity to state-run Vietnam Electricity (EVN), GS Energy said in a statement.

The signing ceremony took place in Seoul on November 28 in the attendance of GS Energy President Huh Yong-soo and VinaCapital CEO Don Lam.

To operate and manage the power plant, GS Energy plans to establish an LNG value chain in Vietnam by introducing LNG and managing storage and vaporization facilities.

“The government’s active support including the New Southern Policy has significantly helped us to clinch the latest strategic deal with VinaCapital,” the Korea Herald quoted GS Energy President Huh Yong-soo as saying.

The company also said that it will expand its core businesses, including petrochemistry, resources development and integrated energy supply in overseas markets.

The partnership enables GS Energy, which is South Korea’s largest private power producer, to boost power generation in Vietnam in the context that the Southeast Asian country is actively seeking to ramp up energy production to feed its rapid growing economy.

To push forward the development of LNG-to-power, the government of Vietnam has issued a number of policies and initiatives to increase the LNG utilization.

Under the Vietnam Gas Industry Development Master Plan to 2035, the gas production volume across the country will increase from 10 billion cubic meter (cu.m) per year to 21 billion cu.m/year in the 2015 – 2035 period.

Vietnam signs deal to import oil for 2020 from Azerbaijan

Under the agreement signed on November 30, Vietnam will import 5 million barrels for the first half of 2020.

Vietnam’s state-run Binh Son Refining and Petrochemical Co (BSR) has inked an agreement with Azerbaijani state energy company State Oil Company of Azerbaijan (SOCAR) to buy five million barrels of crude in 2020.

SOCAR Trading will provide five million barrels of Azeri Light crude to BSR’s Dung Quat refinery for the first half of 2020, BSR said on its website.

BSR Director Bui Minh Tien said at the signing ceremony on November 30 that BSR and SOCAR Trading would possibly be long-term partners thanks to high quality of Azeri crude and flexible trading conditions.

Hayal Ahmadzada, SOCAR Trading’s vice president business development, said the deal would open up long-term partnership which began 10 years ago.

BSR said that Azeri crude would become one of its strategic crude oil products from 2020 largely thanks to Vietnam’s abolishment of the import tax on crude oil which took effect from November.

So far, BSR has completed tender offer of total 11.6 million barrels for the first half 2020, the remaining volume would come from domestic sources, mainly Bach Ho oil field.

Earlier this week, BSR said it would import 8-10 million barrels of West Texas Intermediate and Bonny Light crude oil in 2020 for its Dung Quat refinery.

SOCAR Trading, with headquarters in Geneva, was incorporated in December 2007 as the marketing arm of SOCAR with a mandate to market Azerbaijani barrels produced from the Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli field and other surrounding fields in Azerbaijan.

Vietnam has been importing more crude to serve its energy transition which switches to gas.

The country’s crude oil imports during the first 11 months of this year rose 66% from a year earlier to 7.44 million tones (54.54 million barrels), Reuters cited the government data.

Forest management conference looks at ways to improve resources protection

It is forecast that climate change will increase the risk of forest fires next year, therefore concerned organisations should be vigilant and prepare for fire prevention and control.

Deputy Director of the Department of Forest Management Do Trong Kim made the statement at a conference held in the northern mountainous province of Lai Chau on December 2.

The conference, with the participation of forest managers from 19 northern provinces and cities, aimed at discussing the forest management sector’s plan for next year, including methods to protect forests, develop them and manage forest products.

Speaking at the conference, Kim highly appreciated the sector’s efforts in overcoming difficulties at work and asked concerned organisations to improve.

They should re-check hot spots of forest destruction, destroy forest product trafficking rings and assign detailed duties for individuals and units.

Provinces and cities should cooperate to share information, especially about border areas, and provide more education about forest protection.

More training should be given to forest rangers, he said.

A total of 3,200 law violations were discovered last year, a reduction of 380 cases compared with 2017.

However, forest fires increased sharply compared with 2017.

As many as 110 forest fires were reported, an increase of 24 cases. The fires destroyed more than 607ha of forest, an increase of more than 400ha.

Son La, Lai Chau, Dien Bien and Thai Nguyen provinces are hot spots for forest fires and deforestation activities.

Next year, the Department of Forest Management will better cooperate with provinces and cities to manage and develop the forests.

More fire control equipment will be allocated to localities.

The forest management sector will also promote information technology to share information and organise raids to prevent forest destruction.

Training courses will be held to spread knowledge about new regulations on forest protection and development.

Director of the Lai Chau Forest Management Sub-department Nguyen Van Bien said that forest management sectors should work with provincial and municipal people’s committees to set up a plan for long-term development and upholding the strong points of each region./.

Over 130,000 labourers head overseas for work in 11 months

Vietnam sent 132,802 labourers to work abroad in the first 11 months of 2019, according to the Vietnam Association of Manpower Supply (VAMAS).

Japan was the largest market for Vietnamese workers in the period, accounting for 71,156, an increase of 16.64 percent from the same period last year. Taiwan (China) followed with 49,980 workers, down 12.72 percent. The Republic of Korea came next with 6,940.

European nations received 1,693 labourers in the reviewed period, up 2.23 percent year-on-year and making up 1.27 percent of the total.

The number of Vietnamese guest workers sent to countries in the Middle East accounted for only 1.05 percent of the total, with Saudi Arabia receiving highest number of 1,101 people.

From January-November, only 584 people went to work in other Southeast Asian nations, down 0.44 percent compared to the same period last year.

Meanwhile, 350 people were sent to North Africa, equivalent to 0.26 percent.

According to Nguyen Gia Liem, Deputy Director General of the Department of Overseas Labour Management, enterprises providing labour export services should pay more attention to improving the quality of guest workers.

Many legal regulations related to vocational training and foreign language skills will be adjusted to boost the quality of labourers, Liem said./.

Work begins on first mercury-free zinc-manganese battery factory

onstruction of Vietnam's first factory producing mercury-free zinc-manganese battery began on November 29 in the southern province of Binh Phuoc.

Covering more than 30ha in Becamex-Binh Phuoc Industrial Park, the factory has total investment capital of 15 million USD.

Financed by Singapore-invested GPPD Limited Company, the factory is designed to provide 936 million products annually with 336 million in the first phase and 600 million in the second phase.

The first stage of the factory is slated for completion in June, 2020.

The province has to date this year lured 38 foreign-invested projects, capitalised at 350 million USD, 70 percent higher than the yearly target.

The latest addition brings the number of foreign-invested projects in the province total up to 230, valued at 2.4 billion USD. Of the total, 24 projects were invested in Becamex - Binh Phuoc Industrial Park with total registered capital of more than 410 million USD./.

Vietnam, Egypt look to strengthen trade, investment connectivity

The Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) and the Egyptian Businessmen Association (EBA) on December 2 held a conference in Cairo to look into the business potential and chances in the field of commodities and logistics, exchanging information, promoting investing and strengthening trade connectivity between the two countries.

Speaking at the event, Ambassador Tran Thanh Cong recalled Vietnam’s social and economic achievement recorded over the past 30 years, highlighting that bilateral economic cooperation and trade have witnessed encouraging outcomes, but they have yet to match potential due to the lack of information. In that context, the trade and investment promotions will be of great importance, he added.

Sharing the view, head of the working team of the MoIT Tran Thanh Binh said the two-way trade value last year of 470 million USD has failed to correctly reflect the potential. That is why in the time to come, the two countries need to solve outstanding issues so as to further push up the bilateral trade, especially in the context that each country has advantageous products that can penetrate the other market.

Speaking to VNA correspondent, EBA CEO Mohamed Youssef held that the two countries should weather challenges and obstacles to bring two-way trade to 1 billion USD in the time to come. It is most important that the business communities of the two countries intensify the contacts for better understanding, thus broadening the scopes of their investment and cooperation, he added.

At the conference, queries on Vietnam’s commodity market was settled and many Egyptian companies expressed their hope to increase exports to Vietnam, while the Vietnamese peers raised the idea that the two sides should boost cooperation in the direction of prioritizing key products on the basis of mutual benefit./.

Vietjet Air to open Ho Chi Minh City – Pattaya route

The budget carrier Vietjet Air on December 2 announced a new route linking Ho Chi Minh City with Thailand’s Pattaya city via U-Tapao airport.

The new service will be launched on December 23 with one flight per day, bringing the total routes of Vietjet Air to Thailand to eight.

Its representative said the new route will not only facilitate travelling between Ho Chi Minh City, the southern provinces and Rayong and Pattaya which are well-known beach destinations of Thailand, but also create favourable conditions for foreign passengers via Tan Son Nhat and U-Tapao airports.

On the occasion, the carrier offered 100,000 tickets priced at 0 VND, exclusive of tax and fees, from 12-14pm during December 2-5.

The tickets are applied for international flights from December 23, 2019 to October 24. 2020, including Ho Chi Minh City – Pattaya, Da Lat/Da Nang/ Taipei (Taiwan – China) – Bangkok, and Thai domestic flights to Chiang Mai/ Chiang Rai/ Phuket/ Krabi/ Udon Thani and flights between Chiang Rai and Phuket/Udon Thani.

Tickets could be purchased via the website www.vietjetair.com, Vietjet Air app, and www.facebook.com/vietjetairvietnam./.

Vietnamese, Lao, Cambodian farmers talk agriculture, rural development

A seminar was held in Da Lat city, the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong, on December 2 to share experience in agriculture, farmers and rural development, within the framework of a friendship exchange between Vietnamese, Lao and Cambodian farmers.

Participants discussed orientations to agriculture, farmers and rural development in the three countries, the role of farmers’ unions in the effort, smart agriculture 4.0 and approaches in Vietnam.

The event aimed to offer suggestions to each State to enhance exchange and cooperation in the field.

Speaking at the event, National Assembly Vice Chairman Phung Quoc Hien said the Central Committee of the Vietnam Farmers’ Union (VFU) has directed provincial chapters to help provinces bordering Laos and Cambodia in cultivation technology transfer and supply of quality agricultural materials.

He suggested building a specific action plan to increase cooperation between the three countries’ farmers for each year and period, regularly sharing experience towards green, clean and organic production, popularising each country’s achievements in science-technology, digital industry, artificial intelligence, and helping firms access local markets.

The VFU was assigned to partner with Vietnamese, Lao and Cambodian ministries, agencies and localities to devise a plan to intensify coordination between their farmers, as well as hold annual and periodic meetings for farmers in Vietnamese, Lao and Cambodian bordering provinces.

Deputy Secretary of State of Cambodia's Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Meas Pyseth said though the country is one of the top 10 rice exporters, it still faces challenges due to low farm produce output and quality, and climate change.

As part of the friendship exchange from November 30 – December 2, a clean farm produce fair and tours of high-tech agriculture models were also organised.

Also in the afternoon of December 2, a ceremony to sign a cooperation agreement between the National Institute of Nutrition and Lam Dong cooperatives and farmers was held./.

Vietnam-China trade, tourism fair kicks off in Quang Ninh

The Vietnam-China international trade and tourism fair opened in Mong Cai city of the northern border province of Quang Ninh on December 1, attracting more than 700 delegates.

The event features over 400 booths, including 300 of Vietnamese firms and 100 of the Chinese side.

Notably, farm produce under the One Commune, One Product programme of Quang Ninh province is also being on display.

Various activities will be arranged within the framework of the fair, such as an exhibition on socio-economic achievements of Vietnamese and Chinese localities, a conference to boost links between the countries’ agro-forestry-fishery exporters, and a forum on tourism promotion.

In addition, an art exchange at the border region is set to be held by Mong Cai city and China’s Dongxing city, along with a cultural festival and street parade, and a golf tournament.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Vice Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Bui Van Khang said the event helps businesses of both sides seek partners and expand markets, as well as bolsters investment and tourism development.

The fair, running until December 7, is also expected to strengthen the friendship and cooperation between border localities of Vietnam and China in a practical and effective manner, contributing to the prosperity of the nations./.

Private sector to be driving force for HCM City’s development

The private sector will be the driving force for HCM City’s economic growth, a top municipal official has said.

Speaking at a November 29 meeting to review socio-economic development and tasks for 2020, Nguyen Thien Nhan, Secretary of the city Party Committee, said the private sector had played a crucial role in the city’s economy and should be given impetus to develop.

“The city should never depend on investment from the State, which plays a leading role in issuing policies and incentives to attract private and foreign investment,” he said. “The private sector still faces hurdles, including complicated administrative and State management procedures and confusing laws. They need fair opportunities and access to resources for development.”

According to Nhan, in 2005 the State funds in the city accounted for 32 percent, with the rest being from private and foreign enterprises. The city targets reducing the figure to 16 percent next year.

State investment will be used mostly for development of infrastructure and services, instead of basic production and business activities, according to Nhan.

HCM City is home to 372,000 private firms, contributing 63 percent of local gross domestic product (GDP) and more than 41 percent of State budget collections, he said.

The city plans to continue strengthening state management reform, infrastructure development and promotion of SMEs and start-ups.

It will also focus on key economic products, human resources, and cultural programme promotions.

The city has identified 11 projects for private investors, including transport infrastructure, sewage treatment, water supply, industrial infrastructure, and trade and services.
The municipal government plays a key role in planning and issuing policies and incentives for enterprises such as in land allocation, taxation, and marketing support.

The city plans to issue more policies on development of IT and science and technology enterprises, which will be a driving force for the knowledge-based economy and service and production.

In addition, the city authorities see enterprises’ satisfaction as an important indicator to evaluate the efficiency of administrative reforms, according to Nhan.

This year HCM City’s economic growth is estimated to be 8.32 percent, slightly higher than last year's figure of 8.3 percent.

The city’s economic scale accounts for nearly 24 percent of the national economic scale, the highest figure ever.

Total investment capital in the city accounted for 35 percent of the city’s Gross Regional Domestic Product (GRDP), exceeding the average target by 30 percent of the GRDP in the 2016-2020 period, he said, adding this was a good sign.

Also speaking at the event, Le Thanh Liem, Permanent Vice Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee, said the total GRDP was expected to be 8.3 percent higher than last year. The service sector had increased by 8.59 percent.

This year, the city’s budget revenue is expected to surpass the year’s target, an increase of 9 percent over last year, according to Liêm. Total retail sales of goods and services increased by 12.1 percent over the same period.

The total number of international visitors to the city reached 8.5 million, a year-on-year increase of 14 percent with sales up by 14.5 percent over last year.

In addition, the city attracted 6.17 billion USD worth of foreign direct investment (FDI) in the first ten months of this year, an increase of 3.4 percent over the same period last year, according to the Department of Planning and Investment./.

 
 
 
 
 
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