Improved rice quality helps export prices rise

The price of Vietnam’s export rice has been increasing since mid-July, surpassing the prices of other rice exporters thanks to improved quality.

According to a representative of the Import and Export Department from the Ministry of Industry and Trade, Vietnamese export rice currently sells for about 495 USD per tonne.

In the first 10 months of 2020, Vietnamese rice prices for export averaged 493 USD per tonne, up 12.7 percent over the same time last year.

To improve the quality of rice, many firms have built and developed raw material areas and applied food safety and quality management models in their production.

According to the Ministry’s strategy, from 2021 to 2030, the annual export volume of Vietnamese rice is hoped to be about 4 million tonnes and worth between 2.3 billion USD and 2.5 billion USD.

The strategy aims to increase exports of rice directly to markets and directly to the rice distribution systems of other countries./.

Vietnam, Italy to beef up trade

Vietnam and Italy on December 14 agreed on plans for post-pandemic economic recovery and optimising the benefits to be gained from the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA), thus boosting economic ties between the two countries.

During the sixth meeting of the Joint Commission on Economic Cooperation, held online, the two sides also reviewed cooperation in economy and trade, especially in the fields of energy, industry, industrial machinery, garments and textiles, footwear, and mining.

Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Dang Hoang Anh said the traditional bilateral friendship and cooperation have been enhanced over recent times, adding that Vietnam acknowledges the attention it receives from Italy.

As the ASEAN Chair 2020, Vietnam congratulated Italy on its position as an ASEAN development partner, paving the way for closer cooperation between the country and member countries of the bloc, he said.

Italian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Manlio Di Stefano regarded Vietnam as a “bright spot” in economic growth amid the severe impact of the pandemic.

The next meeting will be held in Italy in 2021./.

Small firms in supporting industries eye entry into global supply chains

Getting access to information, strengthening market linkages and joining supply chains will help Vietnamese small and medium-sized enterprises in supporting industries recover from the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, experts have said.

Nguyen Phuong Dong, deputy director of the Department of Industry and Trade, said building business linkages in various sectors and industries would help them expand their capacity and facilitate their integration into regional and global supply chains.

His department had implemented various programmes to help SMEs in supporting industries improve their market access and competitiveness and establish business ties with multinational investors, he told a forum on Linkage and Investment Opportunities for SMEs held in HCM City on Wednesday.

Hong Kong-based Techtronic Industries (TTI) has invested US$650 million in the Saigon Hi-Tech Park and is now searching for local suppliers to increase the use of local parts in its manufacturing in Viet Nam, according to Dong.

Small firms in supporting industries could build linkages with TTI through business matching, he added.

Robert Greenan, US Deputy Principal Officer, said: “SMEs, including those in supporting industries, play an important role in Viet Nam’s economic growth. However, due to their limited capabilities, lack of market linkages and disruptions in global supply chains caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, SMEs in supporting industries are struggling to find new customers and to explore new market opportunities.

“Global supply chains have also been shifting due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Vietnamese enterprises can be more adaptive and resilient to capitalize on the opportunities that arise from the transitions in the global supply chain.”

The United States Agency for International Development, through the Linkages for Small and Medium Enterprises project, is working closely with the Ministry of Planning and Investment, and engaging business support organisations such as the Centre for Supporting Industries Development, to facilitate linkages between Vietnamese SMEs and lead firms.

In September the 2020 Sourcing Fair for Supporting Industries was held in HCM City, attracting almost 65 firms including 14 lead firm buyers and 49 SME suppliers.

Le Bich Loan, deputy head of the Saigon Hi-Tech Park (SHTP), said the park organised many high-tech supporting industry development programmes to help local firms connect with lead firms, including business matching activities between foreign and Vietnamese enterprises at the park and regional linkages with export processing zones and industrial parks in the provinces of Binh Duong, Dong Nai, Ba Ria- Vung Tau, and Long An.

The park had developed 162,000 square metres of high-rise factories for local enterprises in supporting industries, she said.

VN must develop collective economy

Viet Nam will develop the collective economy in the direction of building product value chains, increasing its contribution to domestic economic development, Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung said at a forum held by the Ministry of Planning and Investment and the Viet Nam Cooperative Union on Friday in Ha Noi.

At the same time, ties among co-operatives would be promoted to form associations or unions, he said.

To develop the collective economy with a core of co-operatives, it is necessary to consider the collective economy one of the four important economic components in the socialist-oriented market economy, Dung said.

According to the Deputy Prime Minister, in 2010-2020, the collective economic sector, as well as co-operatives, continued development in almost all fields, making important contributions to economic growth. However, the collective economic sector and co-operatives still have many difficulties and limitations that need to be solved.

Dung said the collective economy and co-operative development had been below potential, with slower growth rates than other economic sectors and a contribution to GDP that had not reached expectations.

Mechanism and policies and their implementation by State management agencies and co-operatives were part for the problem, he said, adding that there was a lack of specific guidance for implementing some provisions of laws relating to the collective economy and co-operatives or the guidance was not feasible.

Speaking at the forum, Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment Tran Quoc Phuong said since the Law on Cooperatives 2012 was issued, a new co-operative model had initially gained success in production and business, contributing to perfecting production chains.

In recent years, amid international economic integration and increasing market competition, the global and Vietnamese economies had many uncertainties with limited budgets, but the co-operative sector had still operated stably, he said.

The development of cooperatives contributed to the development of the collective economic sector and also increased the income of each individual of those co-operatives.

Trang Thi Xuan, Vice Chairwoman of Son La People's Committee, said despite the domestic economy facing many difficulties in recent years, the co-operative sector in Son La enjoyed stable production.

In 2019, co-operatives producing fruits exported 20,795 tonnes of fruit to major markets including EU, US and Australia. Meanwhile, co-operatives producing organic agricultural products had created many jobs and increased income for local people, she said.

Meanwhile, Nguyen Tu Anh, director of the General Economic Department under the Central Economic Committee, said co-operatives had a very important role in domestic economic development, especially amid climate change, natural disasters and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Anh said Viet Nam needed policies to adapt to climate change for co-operatives in agriculture, forestry, tourism, industry and construction. It also needed to improve co-operatives’ management ability.

Also at the forum, many agricultural experts said global trade had seen dramatic changes and trade wars between major powers had been unexpected developments. In addition, trade protectionism and the COVID-19 pandemic were creating negative impacts on all economies.

However, they said domestic co-operatives needed to work together and with enterprises in other sectors to improve production efficiency and income, approach modern production technology, and expand export markets. 

Local firms have advantages to promote trade with Eurasia region

Vietnamese enterprises have the opportunity to promote trade with countries in the Eurasian region, taking advantage of reduced tariff and non-tariff barriers.

The information was released at the annual trade forum on co-operation with partners from the Eurasian region held in Ha Noi on Thursday.

Speaking at the forum, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade, Dang Hoang An said: “Traditional friendship and good multifaceted co-operation between Viet Nam and other countries in the Eurasian region have been fostered by generations of leaders and peoples on the basis of trust, understanding and willingness to help each other. This is a valuable asset and an important resource for the development of economic, trade and investment relations between Viet Nam and other countries in the region.”

Currently, 11 out of 27 partner countries of Viet Nam in the Eurasian region have joined the European Union (EU) and five countries in the process of joining the EU. Five countries, including Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan, have established the Eurasian Economic Union. Viet Nam already has a Free Trade Agreement with the EU and the Eurasian Economic Union.

In addition, Viet Nam and other countries in the Eurasian region have established solid institutions and legal frameworks for the development of bilateral co-operation including 14 intergovernmental committees, joint committees and a consultation mechanism for bilateral economic co-operation.

An added that the ministry would continue to remove barriers, establish legal frameworks to facilitate trade and investment, further strengthen trade promotion activities such as forums, dialogues and exchange information with markets, localities and businesses.

Ta Hoang Linh, head of the ministry’s European - America Market Department, said bilateral trade relations between Viet Nam and countries in Eurasia are constantly being developed.

Statistics from the Viet Nam General Department of Customs showed that in 2019, two-way trade turnover between Viet Nam and the region reached US$10.4 billion, up 20.78 per cent from the previous year, accounting for 2 per cent of the country’s total import- export turnover. Of which, Viet Nam’s export turnover increased by 6.43 per cent to $7.2 billion.

Despite facing the unstable developments of global trade and the COVID-19 pandemic, the trade turnover with the region in the first 10 months of 2020 showed that this is still an impressive growth in the picture of Viet Nam’s import and export. The total two-way turnover reached $10.34 billion, up 17.98 per cent from the same period last year. Of which, export turnover reached $7.18 billion representing a 16 per cent year-on-year increase while import turnover reached $3.16 billion, up 22.35 per cent over the corresponding period last year.

Representatives of embassies from the region in Viet Nam, Viet Nam Trade Counselors in Eurasian countries, representatives of exporters, and Viet Nam industry associations shared updates on the markets as well as solutions to help businesses overcome difficulties and challenges.

They agreed that if calculating the total import turnover of the region in the first 10 months of 2020 at about VND1.4 trillion, Viet Nam’s export turnover only accounted for 0.5 per cent of the market share, showing that the room for the country’s exports is still very large.

In the future, the effective utilisation of Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with the Asian Economic Union and the European Union will also strongly promote trade, industry and investment co-operation between Viet Nam and Eurasian countries as well as Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

Participants said Viet Nam Trade Office system in other countries and embassies, trade representatives play an important role in providing updated market information to the business community, helping increase opportunities for importing and exporting goods, expanding and diversifying products.

Notably, Viet Nam’s Trade Affairs in other countries act as an important bridge for trade promotion and introduction of Viet Nam’s image to the world, especially key export products such as seafood, fruit, vegetables, electronics and electronic components, textiles, furniture and footwear.

IBM committed to support Viet Nam’s technology advancement

IBM Vietnam will offer new online resources for teachers and students to learn the foundations of artificial intelligence (AI) for free to prepare the next generation of leaders with the skills and knowledge needed to adopt AI responsibly in Viet Nam.

A new study by IBM and Morning Consult found while teenagers are aware that skills like AI and data science will change their careers, they feel woefully unprepared to work with these technologies. A majority (68 per cent) of the K-12 students surveyed believe AI will have a big impact on their life and career, but more than a third (34 per cent) said they did not feel properly equipped to use it.

The first is the deployment of the AI and robotics training programme introduced in collaboration with STEAM for Artificial Intelligence (AI), Ha Noi University of Science and Technology (HUST) and the Institution of International Experience Education and Society Health (IES). Virtual train-the-trainer workshops in basic AI skills for 126 teachers from 63 provinces were held recently. The workshops equipped teachers with the basic approach, workflow and application of AI. It is expected to benefit at least 1,200 students nationwide.

For the second, in collaboration with the School of Information and Communication Technology (SoICT) of HUST, IBM will continue to expand to phase 2 of the New Collar programme. By leveraging IBM’s learning platform, SoICT will introduce Cloud education in its existing ICT curriculums. The programme will be delivered through a series of workshops for researchers, lecturers and students in 10 technical universities across Viet Nam.

Also in December, IBM will collaborate with the IES, SoICT and local Departments of Education and Training in Ha Noi and Thanh Hoa Province to promote Open P-TECH, IBM’s global education initiative. For six months (until April 2021), the target is to teach 5,000 students at age of 14-20, who will register to Open P-TECH.

“IBM is committed to helping prepare Viet Nam’s future workforce for business and social progress that is being driven by technologies such as cloud and AI,” said Tan Jee Toon, Managing Director for IBM Vietnam.

“There is a widening gap of digital skills, especially in AI, between Viet Nam and high-income nations, according to the 2020 Global Talent Competitiveness Index. By introducing these programmes, we believe that the students will get the right foundation and will be able to use and apply these emerging technologies creatively. This is a significant step in preparing our students for the digital era, creating jobs in the digital economy, helping businesses in Viet Nam grow with digital transformation and fulfilling Viet Nam’s Industry 4.0 vision,” he added.

First live stream academy launched in Viet Nam

 NextTech Group on Thursday launched the live stream academy - the first of its kind in Viet Nam with an aim to provide professional training for online sellers on social networks and e-commerce floors.

Nguyen Hoa Binh, Chairman of NextTech Group, cited the mushrooming of live streaming for sales in China during the COVID-19 pandemic and predicted that live stream activities for sales in Viet Nam would also grow stronger in the near future.

“As we recognise that live streaming for online sales will be a popular job in the near future, NextTech wants to participate in live stream training. After the course, students will be offered jobs or become sales collaborators of an ecosystem of more than 80,000 businesses using NextTech Group’s digital business support services," Binh said.

In Viet Nam, live streams for sales is gradually becoming a trend and promising to become a way to generate new revenue. However, due to spontaneous development, live streamers lack many professional skills and techniques to succeed. NextTech believes if they are equipped with the right knowledge, live streamers could be more successful and develop careers.

NextOn’s basic courses are geared towards skills, including planning and scripting live streams, preparing face and camera presentations, audience interaction and branding. Meanwhile, the advanced course focuses on technical issues such as selecting goods, setting up and operating a live stream room, closing the order - handling and completing orders, promoting and attracting the audience. NextOn’s goal is practical training and will focus on skills, illustrated by successful lessons from China and Viet Nam.

NextOn will open the first course this December in Ha Noi and then hold many subsequent courses across the country in 2021. At the end of each course, students are tested and certified. 

Vietnam perfect partner for Australia: report

Vietnam is a perfect economic partner for Australia, said a joint report by Asia Society Australia and the Australian APEC Study Centre at RMIT University.

Supported by the Australian state of Victoria’s Government, the “A Path to Vietnam” report aimed to raise awareness of business opportunities and show pathways for Australian companies to succeed in Vietnam.

The findings from this report show Vietnam is a standout option for Australian businesses to consider as a market for goods and services and business investment.

The market will help Australia capitalise on economic complementarities and diversify supply chains.

The report said Vietnam, a densely populated, developing and urbanizing country, is rapidly transitioning to an industrial and market-based economy through trade and investment and is making strides to position itself to thrive in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0).

It pointed to great opportunities available in Vietnam for Australian goods like beef, grains, cotton, horticulture and processed foods; resources like mining, minerals, and metals; services in education, ICT, insurance, environmental and health; and Industry 4.0-related sectors of Fintech, Agtech, Healthtech, Edtech, logistics, IT services, and digital skills.

According to the report, Vietnam always welcomes Australian firms, with Australian brands highly evaluated. Currently, the two nations are both working on Enhanced Economic Strategies to meet a joint ambition to become top ten trading partners of each other and doubling investment in each other.

At his trip to Vietnam last year Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said: “We’re at a sweet spot in our partnership. […] The capacity for Australia and Vietnam to work even more closely together is enormous. Our partnership is full of potential. It’s full of opportunities.”/.

Vietnamese firms in northern Laos strengthen ties to weather difficulties

More than 50 Vietnamese enterprises operating in eight northern provinces of Laos gathered at a conference held by the Vietnamese Consulate General in Luang Prabang province on December 13.

Noting certain difficulties facing them in northern Laos, the companies said this region, accounting for nearly half of the country’s area and two-fifths of the total population, features mountainous terrain, limited transport and communication infrastructure, scattered population, and weak purchasing power.

There are also some obstacles relating to legal regulations and authorities’ bureaucracy, they said, admitting their own weaknesses relevant to capital, technology, management capacity, quality of human resources, and businesses’ connectivity.

Vietnamese Consul General in Luang Prabang Nguyen Dang Hung said the conference was held to receive Vietnamese firms’ opinions so that the Consulate General can help them tackle hindrances and boost connectivity among enterprises, creating a prerequisite for the formation of a Vietnamese business association in northern Laos.

Participants in the event agreed to make preparations for the establishment of the Vietnam Business Association for Cooperation and Investment in Northern Laos.

Vietnam now ranks third among the countries and territories investing in Laos with over 400 projects worth some 4.2 billion USD, according to the Association of Vietnamese Investors in Laos./.

Thai economy to expand 4 percent next year: ADB

Thailand’s economy will grow 4 percent in 2021, more than 1 percentage point lower than Southeast Asia’s average, according to the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

In its latest forecast, ABD downgraded the ASEAN region’s outlook for 2021, with Southeast Asia now expected to grow 5.2 percent next year compared to 5.5 percent forecast in September.

The bank also downgraded its 2020 GDP forecast for Southeast Asia to -4.4 percent from -3.8 percent in September. It projects the Thai economy this year will contract 7.8 percent, down sharply from 2.4 percent growth last year.

Meanwhile, the Thai baht’s appreciation is poised to continue until the end of 2021 as a result of the weaker USD and Thailand's current account surplus, according to the Economic Intelligence Center (EIC), a research house under Siam Commercial Bank.

External factors contributing to the firmer baht include the weaker USD, a larger US budget deficit, less volatility in global trade tensions and progress in COVID-19 vaccines, causing capital inflows to emerging market economies, said Yunyong Thaicharoen, first executive vice-president of EIC.

The Thai economy has declined by 12.1 percent and 6.4 percent, respectively, in the second quarter and the third quarter of 2020 due to adverse impacts of COVID-19 pandemic on its tourism industry.

CIMB Thai Bank forecasted that Thailand's economy will see a clear recovery momentum in 2022 as domestic demand will remain weak in 2021./.

Top 100 products and services in 2020 honoured

The VnEconomy magazine under the Vietnam Economic Association hosted a ceremony in Hanoi on December 12 to honour top 100 excellent products and services which are trusted and used by consumers.

The evaluation and voting criteria of the “Trust and Use Awards 2020” focused on products and services that have overcome the difficulties and barriers caused by the COVID-19 pandemic to seek new opportunities, those bring customers good experiences that are favoured by consumers, as well as brands that effectively apply digital transformation and non-cash payments.

According to Chairman of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) Vu Tien Loc, the COVID-19 epidemic has changed the way of doing business and affected many businesses, but it is also a challenge where only those with new initiatives to quickly transform and use new technologies can overcome.

Tru Van Lam, Editor-in-Chief of the VnEconomy magazine, said that challenges and difficulties posed by the pandemic will create a rebound for businesses in order to take advantage of the new trends and new opportunities to create the best commodities meeting the demand of consumers.

During the January- November, the programme voted on 6,790 nominated products and services. The organising board of the programme received 29,340 voting papers and 79,280 online votes.

The “Trust and Use Awards” nominate products and services in seven categories: finance-banking-insurance, food and retail, fashion-cosmetics-beauty services, household appliances-interior decor, pharmaceuticals and health care equipment, tourism-resorts-real estate and telecommunications-technology./.

Thailand’s event marketing business forecast to lose 5.6 billion baht

Thailand's event marketing business is expected to lose 5.6 billion baht (186 million USD) worth of revenue in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as compared to the total amount of 14 billion baht per year.

Sermkhun Kunawong, chief executive of CMO Plc, a creative event management company, said the event marketing industry has felt the impact of the pandemic since late last year when the COVID-19 outbreak was first reported in China.

The situation reached a nadir in the second quarter this year, possibly leading the industry to contract by 40 percent by year-end, he said.

Sermkhun said spending on marketing events in the fourth quarter this year, which is normally the peak season for the event business, is not as good as expected. Many companies including Megabangna mall have cancelled their year-end activities.

Companies that are organising activities have cut their spending budget by 30-40 percent year-on-year.

The overall budget for the event business during New Year's Eve is expected to fall by 50 percent from normal spending of 300 million baht during the festive period, he said.


However, Sermkhun is upbeat about next year's prospects, predicting the event marketing business in 2021 will recover to 80 percent of 2019 levels, driven by automotive and communication businesses which are expected to more actively launch their new products to the market.

The finance sector for both banks and non-banks is likely to be active in event marketing next year, boosted by flourishing online business.

Sermkhun expects the event business to be back to normal in 2022, but the market's landscape will be completely changed with the market opting to hire more freelancers instead of full-time staff.

Meanwhile, Kreingkrai Kanjanapokin, chief executive of Index Creative Village Plc, one of the leading event organisers, said the event business has been battered by the pandemic since the government's lockdown measures from March and its prospects remain murky, compounded by the escalating protests.

According to Kreingkrai, the event business is very sensitive. It is the first area in which firms are ready to cut their spending. He projected his firm's revenue to decline to only 460 million baht this year from 1.4 billion baht last year./.

Doosan Vina exports energy equipment to Japan

A shipment of equipment has been delivered from Dung Quat Economic Zone to the Sodegaura Biomass Power Plant – the largest capacity biomass firing plant in Japan, located in Chiba.

The Republic of Korea's Doosan Heavy Industries Vietnam (Doosan Vina) said the shipment of the fuel bed heat exchanger (FBHE) module, which left Dung Quat Port on December 10, was part of the Sodegaura Biomass Power project that Doosan signed with Chiyoda Corporation (Japan) in 2018.

Doosan Vina said a total of 3,093 tonnes of boiler structural components and steel equipment has been shipped to the project, and the last shipment is expected in the first quarter of 2021.

The locally-made equipment will help the biomass power plant in Japan begin operations in 2022.

"This is the first time Doosan Vina manufactures and supplies products for biomass power plants using the Circulating Fluidized Bed (CFB) technology. This technology will help reduce carbon emissions and can burn biomass fuel including wood chips into clean and environmentally friendly power,” Director of Doosan Vina’s Boiler shop of Doosan Vina, Baek Ho Sik, said

“Doosan Vina is also focusing on manufacturing clean energy and renewable energy equipment, and waste-to-energy technology boilers to supply power plants near Kyoto, Japan. This waste-to-energy boiler equipment is expected to be shipped in 2021."

Doosan Vina, which is a high-tech industrial complex in the central province with 2,000 Vietnamese workers, has earned US$2.4 billion from exports of mega infrastructure products and industrial equipment to the domestic and global market.

Last month, Doosan Vina also exported steel structures for the installation of a conveyor system at Onahama Port in Fukushima, Japan./.

Dong Thap expands high quality rice cultivation

More rice farmers in the Mekong Delta province of Dong Thap have switched to growing high-quality rice varieties, which sell well and offer high profits.

More than 60 percent of rice planted in Dong Thap are high-quality rice varieties, up 4.2 percent against two years ago, according to the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

These rice varieties include Jasmine 85, Nang Hoa 9, OM 4900, OM 6976, Dai Thom 8 and DTM 126.

The province, which is one of the delta’s largest rice producers, grows more than 520,000ha of rice a year with an annual output of 3.3 million tonnes.

Nguyen Van Phuc, who owns a 2ha rice field in Thap Muoi District’s Phu Dien Commune, said he switched from growing low-quality IR 50404 rice to the high quality Dai Thom 8 rice in the 2019 - 2020 winter – spring rice crop.

He harvested a yield of 8 tonnes of paddy per hectare in the 2019 - 2020 winter – spring rice crop, up 1 tonnes against the 2018 - 2019 winter – spring rice crop. He sold Dai Thom 8 rice for 1,000 VND higher than normal rice varieties.

Farmers and co-operatives that grow high-quality rice varieties have signed farm contracts with rice companies to guarantee outlets and stable prices.

The Thuan Tien Agriculture Services Cooperative in Cao Lanh District’s Gao Giong Commune has signed farm contracts with companies to produce high-quality rice.

According to Nguyen Thanh Hung, chairman of the Thuan Tien, the cooperative’s high-quality rice is guaranteed an outlet with a price of 150 – 200 VND a kilogramme higher than the market price.

The cooperative members earn a profit that is 15 – 20 percent higher than before and have stable outlets.

About 46 percent of the province’s rice growing areas have been guaranteed outlets by rice companies.

To supply high-quality rice varieties for farmers, the province has conducted research and planted several new high-quality rice varieties suited to its soil and weather conditions.

Le Ngoc Hoa of the Dong Thap High-Tech Agriculture Application Centre said the province had planted on a pilot basis two new varieties – RD71 and AD61 – in Hong Ngu and Tan Hong districts.

The two rice varieties are high quality, have a short maturity period, and yield 6 -7 tonnes per hectare.

Hong Ngu and Tan Hong districts are also expanding the cultivation of other high-quality rice varieties like OM 221 and OM 124 as they have a high yield of seven tonnes per hectare.

In the ongoing 2020 -21 winter – spring rice crop, the province targets growing about 200,000ha, focusing on high-quality varieties that meet market demand and are resistant to disease, according to the province’s Plant Cultivation and Protection Sub-department.

Nguyen Van Muoi, director of the Tan Thuan Agriculture Services Cooperative in Chau Thanh District’s An Phu Thuan Commune, said: “For the 2020 - 2021 winter-spring rice crop, the co-operative decided to grow rice varieties that have high quality and high yield to increase profit for its members.”

Dong Thap authorities in recent years have encouraged farmers to turn ineffective rice fields to other high-value crops like fruit and aquaculture.

The average profit of fruits is about 370 million VND (16,000 USD) per hectare a year, 3 - 8 times higher than profits from rice cultivation, according to farmers.

Tran Van Nam in Thap Muoi District’s Thanh My Commune has switched from rice to growing lime on his 1.3ha rice field. He now earns a profit of 400 million VND (17,300 USD) per hectare a year.

More rice farmers have also rotated the cultivation of rice in the rainy season and other short - term crops like sesame in the dry season to save irrigation water and prevent the spread of rice diseases.

Rice farmers in the province have converted more than 16,240 ha of rice fields to high-value crops like fruit, vegetables, flower and ornamental plants and aquaculture, according to the province’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development./.

ADB lowers growth forecasts for Indonesian economy

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has reduced its projections for Indonesia’s economy in 2020 and 2021 due to a continued slowdown in financial activity as a result of the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.

Accordingly, the ADB downgraded its growth forecasts for the Indonesian economy to minus 2.2 percent and 4.5 percent in 2020 and 2021, respectively, from the earlier projections of minus 1 percent and 5.3 percent.

The COVID-19 pandemic led to a contraction of around 3.5 percent year-on-year (yoy) in GDP in the third quarter, taking the country into its very first economic downturn given that the 1998 Asian monetary crisis, after a 5.32 percent contraction in the second quarter, according to information from Stats Indonesia (BPS).

“GDP forecast in 2020 has actually been downgraded for Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines as COVID-19 containment measures have obstructed financial healing,” ADB nation economist for Indonesia Emma Allen said in a virtual instruction on December 10./.

Vietnam, Japan further promote agricultural cooperation

The Vietnamese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) and the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) signed an agreement on technological cooperation in irrigation and drainage, protection of marine resources, and responsible management of the fisheries sector at the 5th Japan-Vietnam Agricultural Cooperation Dialogue and a public - private agricultural cooperation forum which took place virtually on December 12.

At the dialogue, Vietnamese Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Xuan Cuong and Japanese Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Kotaro Nogami reviewed cooperation results between the two ministries in the past period, and agreed to jointly implement the Mid-term and long-term Vision on agricultural cooperation between the two countries in the 2020 -2024 period, concentrating on completing agricultural infrastructure, including irrigation works, infrastructure facilities to support agricultural value chains, protecting the environment and responding to climate change.

Especially, the two sides will also work closely to promote investment by private enterprises and apply technological advances to improve the governance capacity of agricultural value chains.
Japan will support Vietnam in policy-making and training high-quality human resources in agriculture, expanding pilot models and, tapping potential and strengths of localities.

Cuong said the two sides can promote two-way trade in agricultural products as Japan is a country with a very modern and potential agriculture.
Japan has been developing deeply and modernly in technology, agricultural processing and it is also a good human resources training centre for agricultural development, he noted.

According to Nogami, Vietnam ranks 6th among the agricultural product importers of Japan, so the new vision that the two sides have just signed will help promote value chain development and expand investment opportunities between the two countries.
At the Vietnam-Japan Public-Private Agricultural Cooperation Forum, which attracted the participation of 100 enterprises of the two nations, Cuong said the Vietnamese Government always accompanies and creates opportunities for businesses to develop.

Vietnam wants to attract and cooperate with enterprises to invest in and apply high technologies in agricultural production, processing, preservation and distribution of agricultural products and foodstuff, he stressed.
The MARD expects Japanese businesses to create joint venture partnerships, and closely and trustworthy cooperate with Vietnamese businesses and farmers, he added.
The close cooperation between the two ministries, the willingness of private enterprises, the creativity and industriousness of farmers is opening up great opportunities for sustainable agricultural development for mutual benefits of both nations, Cuong stated.

The first period of the Mid-term and long-term Vision on agricultural cooperation between the two countries in the 2015-2019 period focused on supporting Vietnam's agriculture in building food value chains, responding to climate change and training high quality human resources.

A total of 11 technical assistance projects using non-refundable official development assistance and Japanese loans-funded projects were implemented in the framework of the Vision with a total investment of about 750 million USD./.

Cybersecurity event looks at APAC’s digital reputation economy

Asia Pacific (APAC), a fertile land for social media, houses more than half of the total users worldwide and is at the centre of Facebook’s growth.

The latest numbers from German company Statista, which specialises in market and consumer data, show that East Asia has logged the most number of virtual network users at over 1 billion as of 2020 so far, with Southeast Asia and South Asia both trailing behind with over 400 million users, respectively.

As the region first hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, different forms of lockdowns have been implemented, eased and re-issued across APAC, putting forward uncharted opportunities for the internet and social media.

The rapid rise and ever-evolving usage of these platforms -- from posting pictures, sending messages, to becoming an expanding marketplace -- makes it essential to examine this new economic frontier.

Speaking at Kaspersky’s sixth Cybersecurity Weekend recently, Vitaly Kamluk, Director of Global Research and Analysis (GReAT) for APAC, at Kaspersky, said: “One of the most visible effects of this pandemic is how it forced everyone, from individuals to the biggest companies, to shift a lot of their activities online.

“This dependence, triggered by our need to secure our physical health, also pushed us to increase our social media use, either to connect with our distant loved ones, to give support to our community, to entertain ourselves, or to get hold of products and services that we need. Parallel to this trend is the opening of wider doors for cybercriminals to exploit.”

Aside from the heavier reliance on the internet, the pandemic situation also provided an effective tool for cybercriminals – a “hook” that could make one click a phishing email, share a malicious link, forward an infected image, and more.

“From detecting and analysing 350,000 unique malware samples a day pre-COVID, we currently see a total of 428,000 new samples per a 24-hour window.

“Add the geopolitical events across APAC, the uptick on e-commerce and e-wallet adoption, the continuous remote work set-up and online learning, and the emotional and psychological stresses of the situation, the 2020 threat landscape seems to favor cybercriminals.

“However, hope is in our hands as we are the controller of our online activities. Improved vigilance to protect our digital identities and assets is necessary,” Kamluk said.

Rafizah Amran, deputy chief marketing and communication officer for Prasarana Malaysia and an integrated marketing communications and public relations specialist, said: “From my experience, the digital reputation of a company is important. Our hyperconnected community made it easier for consumers to voice their opinions in favour or against our products and services.

“This forced us, marketers and companies, to focus beyond closing sales and running campaigns, and to know our end-users, put customers’ experiences in the middle, and involve them in our decision-making process. Most importantly, in this era of quick postings and virality, it is important for brands to be very honest and be excellent listeners.”

With the theme “Secure Your Digital Reputation”, the Cybersecurity Weekend explored the impact of social media activities on individuals’ personal identities and companies’ brand perceptions.

The annual media conference, which was held online for the first time, was attended by Kaspersky’s elite researcher, an industry expert, and journalists from the 12 APAC countries./.

Dong Nai hopes to attract FDI by improving investment climate

Attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) is a key aspect of the southern province of Dong Nai's socio-economic development strategy for 2020-2025, according to the provincial People’s Committee.

A preferred destination for foreign investors in the south-eastern region, the province has taken a number of concrete measures to attract them, with priority given to projects that involve high technology, are environmental-friendly and less labour-intensive and to manufacture competitive products.

The province would speed up investment to improve its infrastructure system, skill its workforce and modernise technology besides strengthening administrative reform to increase its competitiveness as an investment destination, said Cao Tien Dung, Chairman of the People’s Committee.

The province offers favourable conditions and end-to-end support to investors to ensure their success, he said.

It has sped up administrative reform to streamline processing investment procedures, he said.

Better co-ordination among official agencies also helps investors address issues related to administrative procedures.

New industrial parks are planned to be built in Xuan Loc, Dinh Quan, Vinh Cuu, Thong Nhat, and Tan Phu districts and Long Khanh town, he said.

Many large companies are expected to invest in the province, he added.

Tran Duc Toan, a senior law department employee at Ajinomoto Vietnam at Bien Hoa 1 Industrial Park, said the province has done exceedingly well in administrative reform, thus creating a good investment climate for enterprises to invest in and operate.

Investment registration procedures have been simplified with the processing time reduced from one or two days to just one or two hours, he added.

Somhatai Paichewa, general director of industrial park developer Amata Vietnam, said her company is quickly creating infrastructure for the Long Thanh High-tech Industrial Park to attract tech companies.

Many foreign tech companies plan to lease land and set up factories in the park, she said.

Do Thi Thu Hang, chairwoman of Sonadezi Corporation, said her company targets sustainable industrial development while protecting the environment by using renewable and clean energy.

It prioritises enterprises in high-tech and clean energy industries with high added-value, she said.

It is now focusing on improving infrastructure at industrial parks and the quality of products and services, she said.

So far the province has 1,523 FDI projects with more than 31 billion USD in registered capital.

Of them, more than 1,350 worth a total of 26.5 billion USD are in industrial parks.

Of 47 countries and territories investing in the province, Taiwan, the Republic of Korea, Japan, ASEAN member countries, Europe, and America are the leading investors./.

PM attends launching ceremony of first major project in Thai Binh EZ

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc on December 13 attended a groundbreaking ceremony for an infrastructure building and trade project at Lien Ha Thai industrial park (Green iP-1) in Thai Thuy district, the northern province of Thai Binh.

It is the first project to realise the Resolution adopted by the 20th provincial Party Congress and attract more investment into Thai Binh Economic Zone (EZ).

Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Nguyen Khac Than said the 50-year project costs over 3.88 trillion VND (168 million USD) and covers a site of 588.8ha in Thuy Lien commune and Diem Dien town.

Once operational, it is expected to fuel Thai Binh’s socio-economic development and contribute to the growth of the Red River Delta and the whole country, he said.

Than suggested the Government, the Prime Minister, ministries and agencies soon approve a project on the Lien Ha Thai industrial, urban and service area and allow the province to continue establishing other industrial, urban and service areas in the Thai Binh Economic Zone.

The chairman also asked for speeding up site clearance and compensation for displaced residents, promptly addressing arising difficulties during implementation.

Spanning 30,583ha, the Thai Binh EZ covers 30 communes and one town in Thai Thuy and Tien Hai districts.

On October 28, 2019, the PM issued Decision No.1486 approving a master plan on the building of the Thai Binh EZ till 2040 with a vision to 2050.

According to the 20th provincial Party Congress’s Resolution, the building of the Thai Binh EZ into an economic driving force is a political task of top significance of the province for the 2020-2025 tenure and the next ones.

Earlier, on December 12, the PM attended and delivered a speech at a ceremony to inaugurate the monument of Uncle Ho with Vietnamese farmers in Thai Binh city./.

PM attends launching ceremony of first major project in Thai Binh EZ

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc on December 13 attended a groundbreaking ceremony for an infrastructure building and trade project at Lien Ha Thai industrial park (Green iP-1) in Thai Thuy district, the northern province of Thai Binh.

It is the first project to realise the Resolution adopted by the 20th provincial Party Congress and attract more investment into Thai Binh Economic Zone (EZ).

Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Nguyen Khac Than said the 50-year project costs over 3.88 trillion VND (168 million USD) and covers a site of 588.8ha in Thuy Lien commune and Diem Dien town.

Once operational, it is expected to fuel Thai Binh’s socio-economic development and contribute to the growth of the Red River Delta and the whole country, he said.

Than suggested the Government, the Prime Minister, ministries and agencies soon approve a project on the Lien Ha Thai industrial, urban and service area and allow the province to continue establishing other industrial, urban and service areas in the Thai Binh Economic Zone.

The chairman also asked for speeding up site clearance and compensation for displaced residents, promptly addressing arising difficulties during implementation.

Spanning 30,583ha, the Thai Binh EZ covers 30 communes and one town in Thai Thuy and Tien Hai districts.

On October 28, 2019, the PM issued Decision No.1486 approving a master plan on the building of the Thai Binh EZ till 2040 with a vision to 2050.

According to the 20th provincial Party Congress’s Resolution, the building of the Thai Binh EZ into an economic driving force is a political task of top significance of the province for the 2020-2025 tenure and the next ones.

Earlier, on December 12, the PM attended and delivered a speech at a ceremony to inaugurate the monument of Uncle Ho with Vietnamese farmers in Thai Binh city./.



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