BUSINESS NEWS HEADLINES FEB. 13

Ministries seek new export markets for farm produce

BUSINESS NEWS HEADLINES FEB. 13

The Lao Cai International Border Gate (Photo: tuyengiao.vn)

Authorities in China’s Guangxi province have decided to extend the closure of border gates and continue to suspend the trading of goods by individuals until the end of February due to the new coronavirus (Covid-19) threat, according to the Consulate General of Vietnam in Guangxi province.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) also said that authorities in Yunnan province have so far released no official information on this issue, but due to the continuing threat of the Covid-19 epidemic, they are likely to make the same decision.

Individual trade at border markets is still the main way of exporting some of Vietnam’s farm produce to China, including dragon fruits and watermelons.

Therefore, this decision is expected to have a significant impact on exporting these agricultural products to the neighbouring country, according to the MoIT.

The MoIT and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) recently issued warnings about the problem.

The two ministries have proposed local businesses regulate the volume of exported dragon fruits and watermelons via individuals at the border markets and increase exports under contracts.

The batches of agricultural products exported under contracts, including dragon fruits and watermelons, are still allowed to carry out customs procedures as usual, though clearance takes longer due to strict measures for control of the epidemic.

According to reports from provinces sharing a border with China, as of February 9, there were only 173 trucks carrying dragon fruits in Lang Son province and 152 in Lao Cai province, not much higher than the volume at the end of January.

The MoIT has requested logistics enterprises, especially those with cold storage, to continue supporting agricultural businesses facing difficulties in export to China, including giving priority to farm produce in need of preservation and reducing costs for storage, warehousing, transport, and loading and unloading of goods.

The MoIT has also proposed distribution businesses, trade centres and supermarkets continue to help farmers sell the produce.

Meanwhile, the MoIT and the MARD would continue to find new export markets and partners, including trade offices and commercial counsellors of Vietnam in other countries, promoting consumption of agricultural products./.

Action programme launched to fight origin fraud

The Ministry of Industry and Trade has issued an action programme to step up efforts to combat origin fraud and illegal transportation of goods.

The action programme is to carry out the Government’s Resolution 119/NQ-CP, dated December 31, 2019, on some urgent measures to enhance the state management relevant to the fight against origin fraud and illegal transportation of goods.

It specifies five main groups of tasks, namely pushing ahead with perfecting the legal system on goods origin and origin examination; enhancing the monitoring and examination staff’s capacity; increasing inspection, examination and monitoring of the compliance with regulations on goods origin; boosting communications; and reinforcing cooperation with relevant parties.

Aside from preventing origin fraud and illegal transportation of goods in trade, the programme also looks to actively uncover and strictly handle violations, encourage domestic production, protect the rights and legitimate interests of Vietnamese manufacturers, and maintain sustainable export growth.

It is also intended to attract foreign investment to projects that apply high technology, have high added value and connect with global production and supply chains; improve the effectiveness of the country’s integration into the world economy, especially the implementation of new-generation free trade agreements; and protect Vietnam’s rights and interests in international trade relations.

CPI projected to decline in next two months

Vietnam’s consumer price index (CPI) in February and March will be lower than that in the previous month if the acute respiratory disease caused by the novel of the coronavirus (Covid-19) ends in Q1, according to the General Statistics Office (GSO).

Pharmaceutical and electricity prices are likely to rise in the coming time due to the Covid-19 outbreak, according to the GSO.

On the contrary, the prices of meat and vegetable, catering and tourism services, hotels and entertainment may decline due to a downward trend in consumer’s demand.

The GSO predicts that food and foodstuff prices will surge, regardless of whether the Covid-19 outbreak ends in the first quarter of 2020 or continues afterwards.

In the first scenario, the prices of food, beverages and garment-textile strongly rise in the Lunar New Year holiday due to increasing demand then stabilise in line with consumption rule, with the Covid-19 ending in Q1. In that case, this year’s CPI is projected at 3.96 percent.

Meanwhile, in the second one, if the prices of pork, petrol and gas all increase, worsened by unfavourable weathers such as drought, saline intrusion and water shortage and the virus threat persists, it may expand 4.86 percent in the year.

To realise the target of keeping CPI below 4 percent in 2020, the GSO proposed that the Government not adjust prices of goods under State management in the first half of the year.

The State bank of Vietnam also needs to stabilise interest and exchange rate in a bid to control inflation rate between 2 percent and 2.5 percent.

Fruit, vegetable segment needs revamp: agriculture minister

The fruit and vegetable farming segment needs to restructure production, enhance linkages among stakeholders in the value chain and invest in modern processing plants, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Xuan Cuong has said.

Speaking at a meeting with farmers and businesses in the Mekong Delta province of Long An on February 11 to discuss measures to resolve difficulties caused by the novel coronavirus epidemic, Cuong said the country has 60,000ha under dragon fruit, which yield three million tonnes a year and fetching nearly 2 billion USD from exports.

In the Long An province’s Chau Thanh district alone, all agricultural lands are now under the fruit.

But he also pointed to limitations like mainly exporting fresh fruits and relying too much on the Chinese market.

So the dragon fruit segment in particular and the agricultural sector in general needs to restructure, especially in the context of the epidemic, he said.

“This is a good opportunity for major dragon fruit cultivation areas such as Binh Thuan, Long An and Tien Giang to review the entire production process to restructure it and persuade businesses to participate in organising production and processing chains of the fruits.

“Besides continuing exports to traditional markets, we also need to seek more new export markets.

“Businesses must pay greater attention to the domestic market of 100 million population.”

They need to develop close links with farmers so that the latter can grow products that meet the demand in global markets and enterprises must upgrade their processing chain to improve quality, he said.

Farmers have begun harvesting dragon fruit, but exports to China, the largest market for it, has plummeted due to the impact of the epidemic.

“We will firstly seek measures to ensure farmers’ products are consumed and then proceed to comprehensive restructuring of agriculture in order to add more value to our agricultural products and ensure a better life for farmers,” Cuong added.

Dang Ngoc Can, General Director of Lavifood JSC, said: “We specialise in processing fruits and vegetables for exports to fastidious markets such as South Korea, Japan, the US and the EU. To help reduce farmers’ difficulties due to the impact of the epidemic, we have increased the purchase of dragon fruit and process it into various products such as juice, dried fruit, soft-dried fruits, and frozen products.

“A new product line, the 'We Love' fresh and natural dragon fruit juice, is about to be launched in the market.

“To do this, we had to completely change our business plan for 2020.”

Lavifood on Tuesday signed an agreement with the Saigon Commercial Joint Stock Bank, Saigon Co.op [owner of Co.opmart supermarket] and Green Start-up Fund to support farmers.

At a working session with Cuong, Long An province authorities called for subsidising electricity costs for cold storages until the end of March to businesses that buy, preserve and export agricultural produce and provide them loans at preferential interest rates to facilitate their purchase of dragon fruits from farmers.

The province also wanted the ministry to establish a distribution centre for agricultural produce in China and connect major dragon fruit-growing localities to avoid sudden increases in output./

State Treasury mobilises over 115 million USD through bond sales

The State Treasury has raised 2.7 trillion VND (115.79 million USD) through a recent G-bond auction on the Hanoi Stock Exchange (HNX).

A total of 4 trillion VND worth of G-bonds were offered, including five-year, 10-year, 15-year and 30-year bonds, each valued at 1 trillion VND.

Ten-year bonds mobilised 800 billion VND at an annual interest rate at 2.91 percent, 0.03 percent higher than the previous auction on January 21.

Bonds with 15-year maturity raised 900 billion VND with an annual interest rate of 3.03 percent, up 0.03 percent as compared with the January 21 auction.

Meanwhile, 1 trillion VND was collected via 30-year bonds with a yield rate of 3.7 percent, 0.02 percent lower than that in the February 5 auction.

However, five-year bonds were unsold.

So far this year, the State Treasury has collected over 13.3 trillion VND from five G-bond auctions on the HNX.

Validus cooperates with Nafoods to provide business financing

Validus Vietnam, a subsidiary of Singapore’s small and medium enterprises (SMEs) financing platform, on February 11 announced its partnership with Nafoods Group JSC to offer supply chain financing to Nafoods and its distributors.

The partnership has demonstrated Validus’ commitment to addressing the financing gap faced by many SMEs.

According to Validus, agriculture is a crucial sector in Vietnam, contributing 10% of the country’s gross domestic product and creating 40% of its total employment. Exports of agricultural products, such as fruits and vegetables, soared by 29% in 2018, exceeding those of other conventional items such as crude oil and rice.

The number of local SMEs accounts for 97% of all companies operating in the country, but their demand for loans of up to US$21 billion remains unmet.

Nguyen Manh Hung, chairman and CEO of Nafoods, stated that many farmers and SMEs in Nafoods’ supply chain sometimes did not receive funding on time to purchase primary materials for crop growth.

Nguyen Chi Long, general director of Long Hue Investment JSC, a supplier of Nafoods, noted that he has been able to expand the business after taking out loans from Validus Vietnam.

It was not easy for SMEs like Long Hue company to get loans from banks due to obstacles such as insufficient collateral. But now, with the financing solution offered by Validus, his firm can obtain financing in time to harvest farm produce and distribute to Nafoods, Long said.

Nafoods, which is backed by the International Finance Corporation, is an agrifood business and manufacturer in Vietnam.

Meanwhile, Validus Vietnam established partnerships with pharmacy group Medicare Vietnam and Unicons, a subsidiary of leading construction enterprise Coteccons Group, before teaming up with Nafoods.

HCMC residents help consume excess farm produce

Farmers from various provinces and cities across the country are having difficulty finding outlets for watermelons, so residents in HCMC are helping them by purchasing the product.

The Vietnam Young Entrepreneurs Association and TTC Group on February 11 bought 20 tons of watermelons to support farmers in the Central Highlands province of Gia Lai.

The two will also buy 20 tons of dragon fruit grown by farmers in Binh Thuan this week, VietnamPlus news site reported.

Dang Hong Anh, chairman of the Vietnam Young Entrepreneurs Association, stated that given the hardship facing farmers, the association decided to purchase watermelons and store them at the headquarters of TTC Group on Hoang Van Thu Street in Tan Binh District.

Apart from providing the watermelons to employees, the association and TTC Group will collaborate with the Tan Binh Women Association and other organizations to present the farm produce to poverty-stricken residents in the city.

Besides this, many city residents have started purchasing more farm produce.

Tuong Vi, a resident in Binh Thanh District, said that she has called on others to buy watermelons in support of farmers, who have been unable to export their products to China due to the Wuhan coronavirus.

Similarly, many residents have bought a large volume of watermelons from a point of sale on Do Xuan Hop Street in District 9.

A representative of a volunteer group that has set up another point of sale on Lac Long Quan Street in District 11 remarked that the group has bought 10 tons of watermelons from farmers in Gia Lai Province at a price of VND5,000 per kilogram, including transportation fees.

The group will use the proceeds from the sales of the watermelons to continue supporting farmers.

My Trang, residing in District 8, pointed out that all types of farm produce, including fruit, are healthy food. Aside from supporting farmers, consuming farm produce offers many health benefits and contributes to community development in Vietnam.

In addition, many store and supermarket chains in HCMC, including Saigon Co.op and Big C, are running promotional and discount programs to help farmers offload their farm produce.

Saigon Co.op purchases 21.3 tons of dragon fruit and 50 tons of watermelons per day on average, while Big C purchases 23.5 tons of dragon fruit and 38 tons of watermelons per day.

Vietjet launches direct air routes to India

Low-cost carrier Vietjet Air has launched a series of five direct routes connecting Vietnam’s major cities of Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and Da Nang with India’s New Delhi and Mumbai.

The launching ceremony held on February 12 in New Delhi saw the attendance of Vietnamese Vice President Dang Thi Ngoc Thinh, who is on an official visit to India from February 11 to 13.

Speaking at the event, Minister of State of the Ministry of Civil Aviation of India Hardeep Singh Puri said India now has the world’s third largest domestic aviation market and is expected to become the global third biggest international one in the near future.

He expressed his belief that the economic relations between Vietnam and India will continue booming in the coming time with the launch of Vietjet’s direct air routes.

The Da Nang – New Delhi and Hanoi – Mumbai routes will be operated from May 14, 2020, with the frequency of five return flights per week and three ones respectively.

Meanwhile, the Ho Chi Minh City – Mumbai route will be put into operation from May 14, 2020 with five flights and three flights per week, respectively, while the Ho Chi Minh City – Mumbai route will offer four return flights per week from May 15.

The Ho Chi Minh City – New Delhi and Hanoi – New Delhi routes are serving four return flights and three ones per week, respectively.

The flight time of these routes is just over four hours.

Viettel targets to attract 10 million more 4G subscribers in Vietnam

The Military Industry-Telecoms Group (Viettel) has set a goal of attracting an additional 10 million 4G subscribers in Vietnam this year, up to 62 percent compared to 43.5 percent last year.

To realise that goal, Viettel has cooperated with other suppliers to distribute 4G smartphones at prices lower than 1.5 million VND each and 4G feature phones at a price of 400,000 VND each.

The group will also install more than new 2,400 4G BTS and cover some 3,700 weak signal areas to enable its customers to better experience 4G services.

Last year, the group achieved a growth rate of 6.4 percent and its overseas investment in telecoms rose by 24.4 percent.

In domestic telecoms, Viettel’s key growth motivation in 2019 is the turnover recorded from data service. Data service is expected to continue playing a key role in helping the group achieve growth in telecoms this year because data usage in Vietnam is still lower than that in the region. On average, a customer in Vietnam uses 5-7G of data a month while those in Laos or Cambodia use 12-15G per customer a month.

This year, Viettel aims to increase its profit in domestic telecoms by 4.3 percent against last year. This target is challenging because the telecoms market has reached a saturation point, where the telecoms sector’s profit is flat or falls.

The group also targets to become the leading company in Vietnam in terms of fiber optic internet revenue this year with the fixed service turnover rising by 23.2 percent.

Mong Cai city helps Chinese neighbour with medical equipment

Authorities of Mong Cai city in the northeastern province of Quang Ninh on February 12 presented medical equipment to China’s bordering Dongxing city to help with the fight against the acute respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus (COVID-19).

The assistance includes 30,000 masks, 5,000 pairs of glove and 500kg of disinfectants.

Earlier on February 9, Vietnam sent medical equipment and supplies to China to help with the work.

The Vietnam Red Cross Society has also donated medical supplies worth 100,000 USD to China.

According to the Ministry of Health, as of 10:30 on February 12, a total of 45,170 cases of Covid-19 infection had been recorded in 28 countries and territories worldwide, of which 44,653 were in China.

The death toll had reached 1,115, with 1,113 in mainland China, one in the Philippines and another in Hong Kong (China).

Among the 15 confirmed cases in Vietnam, six have recovered. The latest patient, who is also the youngest recorded so far, is a three-month-old baby from Vinh Phuc’s Binh Xuyen district.

Over 6,500 tonnes of farm produce exported via Lao Cai border gate

Over 6,500 tonnes of Vietnam’s farm produce were exported via Lao Cai border gate in the northern province of Lao Cai as of February 12 after suspension due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

From February 8-12, Lao Cai border gate imported the loads of farm produce on 613 trucks and exported those on 363 others, mostly dragon fruit, water melon, banana and jackfruit, said deputy head of the border gate’s customs branch Tran Anh Tu.

The total exports-imports via the border gate neared 13,000 tonnes worth 5.3 million USD during the period. Vietnam’s farm produce export to China totalled over 6,500 tonnes valued at around 4 million USD. The figure is expected to increase in the coming days.

On February 11, a border market in China’s Hekou township also opened again after days of temporary shutdown due to the epidemics, thus facilitating trade activities.

VAMA: Over 15,700 automobiles sold in January

 

Over 15,700 automobiles of various models were sold in Vietnam in January, down 52 percent monthly, according to the Vietnam Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (VAMA).

Of the figure, more than 5,900 came from TC Motor (Hyundai Thanh Cong), which surpassed Toyota to become the top seller for the first time. It was followed by Toyota with 3,923 units, Kia 1,972, Honda 1,916, Mazda 1,871, Mitsubishi 1,670, and Ford 1,268.

Over 12,800 units were passenger cars, down 48 percent; 2,757 commercial vehicles, down 65 percent; and 223 special-purpose vehicles, down 41 percent from December 2019.

Sales of domestically-manufactured automobiles neared 9,600 units, down 51 percent while imported ones dropped by 54 percent with 6,188 units.

Experts have forecast that Vietnam’s car market will grow from February.

General Director of Ford Vietnam Pham Van Dung said the market will maintain a growth of 10-20 percent this year thanks to abundant supply and various promotional programmes.

PM orders removal of bottlenecks for border trade

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc on February 12 ordered the removal of bottlenecks for export-import activities and trading of goods in border regions in the face of the acute respiratory disease caused by a new strain of coronavirus (Covid-19).

In the dispatch, the Ministry of Health is asked to promptly work with relevant agencies in building regulations on medical examination, trading of goods, and entry and exit of vehicles and drivers at sea ports, airports, border gates and on the railways.

This aims to create optimal conditions and step up customs clearance for exports and imports, while ensuring disease prevention and control.

Accordingly, drivers must wear protection suits, face masks and take hygienic measures at border gates’ quarantine areas before coming back to Vietnam.

The PM also agreed with a proposal by the Ministry of Industry and Trade on continuing export-import activities and trading of goods via two auxiliary border gates of Tan Thanh and Coc Nam in Lang Son province and a crossing point in Mong Cai city of Quang Ninh, in the principle of strictly complying with disease prevention regulations.

CPI projected to decline in next two months

Vietnam’s consumer price index (CPI) in February and March will be lower than that in the previous month if the acute respiratory disease caused by the novel of the coronavirus (Covid-19) ends in Q1, according to the General Statistics Office (GSO).

Pharmaceutical and electricity prices are likely to rise in the coming time due to the Covid-19 outbreak, according to the GSO.

On the contrary, the prices of meat and vegetable, catering and tourism services, hotels and entertainment may decline due to a downward trend in consumer’s demand.

The GSO predicts that food and foodstuff prices will surge, regardless of whether the Covid-19 outbreak ends in the first quarter of 2020 or continues afterwards.

In the first scenario, the prices of food, beverages and garment-textile strongly rise in the Lunar New Year holiday due to increasing demand then stabilise in line with consumption rule, with the Covid-19 ending in Q1. In that case, this year’s CPI is projected at 3.96 percent.

Meanwhile, in the second one, if the prices of pork, petrol and gas all increase, worsened by unfavourable weathers such as drought, saline intrusion and water shortage and the virus threat persists, it may expand 4.86 percent in the year.

To realise the target of keeping CPI below 4 percent in 2020, the GSO proposed that the Government not adjust prices of goods under State management in the first half of the year.

The State bank of Vietnam also needs to stabilise interest and exchange rate in a bid to control inflation rate between 2 percent and 2.5 percent.

Action programme launched to fight origin fraud

The Ministry of Industry and Trade has issued an action programme to step up efforts to combat origin fraud and illegal transportation of goods.

The action programme is to carry out the Government’s Resolution 119/NQ-CP, dated December 31, 2019, on some urgent measures to enhance the state management relevant to the fight against origin fraud and illegal transportation of goods.

It specifies five main groups of tasks, namely pushing ahead with perfecting the legal system on goods origin and origin examination; enhancing the monitoring and examination staff’s capacity; increasing inspection, examination and monitoring of the compliance with regulations on goods origin; boosting communications; and reinforcing cooperation with relevant parties.

Aside from preventing origin fraud and illegal transportation of goods in trade, the programme also looks to actively uncover and strictly handle violations, encourage domestic production, protect the rights and legitimate interests of Vietnamese manufacturers, and maintain sustainable export growth.

It is also intended to attract foreign investment to projects that apply high technology, have high added value and connect with global production and supply chains; improve the effectiveness of the country’s integration into the world economy, especially the implementation of new-generation free trade agreements; and protect Vietnam’s rights and interests in international trade relations.

Handmade Vietnamese products debut at Bangkok design exhibition

Handmade Vietnamese products have been presented at a recent exhibition of craft design in Bangkok, Thailand.

Sixteen lacquer objects, including vases, trays, shelves, lamps, mirrors, lights, hooks and clocks, are collaborative works between three French designers and craftspeople of the Vietnamese haute lacquer house Hanoia. The designers and craftspeople have created the items in just two weeks, from sketches to creating samples and perfecting the final products.

The works have been displayed at the D17/20 Craft and Design in Southeast Asia – a collaborative project involving craftspeople from Southeast Asia and French designers to highlight daily lifestyle and craft products. This is the first time Vietnam has products displayed at the event.

After graduating from one of the best design schools in Europe, the École de Design Nantes Atlantique in France, Guillaume Delvigne continued to accumulate acknowledge on design at the Polytechnic University of Milan.

After a few years working for some major interior design companies in Europe, in 2011, Delvigne founded his own workshop, presenting furniture and home decor products. For the D17/20 project, the 41-year-old designer has created some vases, of which, his favourite is the one formed by three separate parts.

Hailed as one of the 100 best designers in France in 2019 by the French publication Architecture Design, Pierre Charrié is an independent designer who cares about the influence of material, sound, and movement towards human living habits. Working with local craftspeople, Charrié designed special lamps which can change colour.

Born in 1981, Marie Aurore graduated from the Paris Design Institute ENSCI in 2007 before continuing to pursue other courses on design in France and Italy.

An excellent student, Aurore has been granted several significant scholarships including the Audi Talent Award in 2010.

Among her creations for the D17/20 exhibition is a set of four lacquer mirrors using metal ribbons.

Initiated in 2017 by the French Embassy in Thailand, in collaboration with Institut français Paris, the D17/20 Craft and Design aims to strengthen the design industry in Southeast Asia through a series of workshops held in Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam, where local designers/craftspeople have joined French counterparts in developing products to display at the exhibition.

The project connects 43 designers from France, Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam, with 18 local craft workshops. More than 100 products have been created to showcase at the event.

At the exhibition in Bangkok, all lacquer items created by three French designers and Vietnamese craftspeople received acclaim from representatives of the Paris Design Week, who have decided to select all items for the show in September in Paris./.

Coronavirus fears drive tourists away from Can Tho

Up to 90% of tourists have canceled their tours to the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho due to fears of a new coronavirus, which emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year.

Speaking at a meeting on February 12, Nguyen Minh Tuan, deputy director of the Can Tho Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, said that the coronavirus outbreak has taken a heavy toll on the city’s tourism sector.

“Since Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc declared the respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus an epidemic in the country in early February, many tourists have canceled tours to the city,” he said.

Statistics cited by Tuan from Can Tho-based travel firms indicated that in late January, when the disease had yet to be declared, some 50% of tourists canceled tours they had previously booked, but the figure rose to an estimated 90% in February.

“For March, the majority of booked tours have been suspended,” Tuan noted, adding that travel firms had reported the number of tour cancellations had skyrocketed to 90%.

The number of tourists visiting the city’s major tourist destinations, including My Khanh, Vam Xang Rustic Home, Son Islet, Lung Cot Cau and Bao Gia Trang Vien, in the first three months of the year is expected to be equal to a mere 20% of the year-ago figure.

Most of the visitors have taken trips to Can Tho City for work or to visit their relatives, Tuan said, adding that few tourists have traveled to the city to go sightseeing due to the widespread concern about the virus.

The decline in tourist arrivals in Can Tho City is expected to have a domino effect on the retail sector and service revenues in the city.

Truong Quang Hoai Nam, vice chairman of Can Tho City, said that the city is home to over 1.2 million people, while retail revenue from goods and services amounts to VND120 trillion a year, most of which is contributed by the tourism sector.

Facing the same fate, the city’s farm produce exports have been negatively affected by the coronavirus outbreak as well.

Addressing the meeting, Nguyen Minh Toai, director of the municipal Department of Industry and Trade, explained that the virus outbreak has hampered the export of dragon fruit, watermelons and jack fruit to China.

Long An has 120,000 tons of dragon fruit unsold

The Mekong Delta province of Long An may see an unsold volume of dragon fruit amounting to over 120,000 tons in the first three months of the year due to the Wuhan coronavirus, heard attendees at a meeting between a working team of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the provincial government on February 11.

The province has over 11,820 hectares of land under dragon fruit cultivation, with annual output of over 317,900 tons. Dragon fruit in Long An is entering the harvest season, but the coronavirus outbreak has prevented it from being exported to China where the virus was first detected late last year.

Several border markets between Vietnam and China have announced extensions of enforced closures.

As such, in the three-month period, Long An will likely have over 120,000 tons of dragon fruit in stock, with some 30,000 tons stockpiled in January, over 59,500 tons in February and 31,750 tons in March.

Given the hardship facing farmers, Lavifood JSC, Saigon Commercial Bank (SCB), the Co.op Mart supermarket chain and Green Startup Foundation committed to supporting farmers and the Vietnamese agriculture sector at the meeting.

SCB pledged to offer financial support for farmers and agricultural cooperatives and firms so that they can maintain their production and develop warehouses and logistics service systems to ensure sustainable agricultural development.

Dang Ngoc Can, general director of Lavifood, said that the firm has bought dragon fruit at a high price of VND12,000 per kilogram in support of farmers.

“Numerous firms, such as Lavifood, which are enhancing the development of facilities, warehouses and logistics systems to bring sustainable development to the agriculture sector, deserve praise,” said Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Xuan Cuong.

U.S., S.Korea investors keen on LNG power projects in Vietnam

A group of major investors from the United States and South Korea at a meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung in Hanoi on Tuesday expressed their interest in liquefied natural gas (LNG) power projects in Vietnam as the country is seeking to switch to cleaner sources of energy.

The investors are large firms with extensive experience in LNG-fueled power projects, reported the Government news website.

They expressed their intention to get involved in LNG power projects in the Southeast Asian country to develop clean energy, increase power supply and expand the high-quality workforce in the gas-fired power sector.

They said they had taken investment-related factors into careful consideration and would make long-term investments in LNG power projects.

Deputy Prime Minister Dung spoke highly of the investors’ plans to use LNG to run power stations in Vietnam.

The demand for electricity in the country is growing by an average 10% per year, he noted. Vietnam is diversifying its sources of power to reduce its reliance on coal-fired power and raise the share of gas-fired power and renewable energy in the power industry's output.

He added that gas-fired power is expected to account for 12% of the total electricity generation, equivalent to 17,000 megawatts, by 2030.

Therefore, the Government needs local and international businesses to participate in clean energy projects in Vietnam.

Their investments should be in line with Vietnam’s power master plan, while their electricity should be priced competitively and aligned with the country’s power transmission system, Dung said.

With regard to U.S. investors, he pointed out that the comprehensive partnership between Vietnam and the U.S. as the world’s largest economy has produced good results.

Bilateral cooperation in trade and investment is vital to the country, he said. Last year saw U.S. exports to Vietnam rise by 12% and Vietnam remained among the United States’ fastest-growing export markets.

He said Vietnam has long regarded the United States as one of its leading trade partners, and investment by American investors in Vietnam will to a certain extent help improve the balance of trade between the two economies.

Moody’s Investor Service explained in a recent report that the continued development of Vietnam’s power sector is needed to meet the fast-growing power demand from increasing industrial activity and residential customers’ rising power consumption.

There is also a need to develop renewable sources amid a government commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 8% with domestic resources and 25% with international support by 2030 on a business-as-usual basis, according to the U.S.-based ratings agency.

Renewables, excluding hydropower, accounted for a mere 0.2% of the country’s power generation mix in 2018, which was much lower than the Government’s target of some 7% in 2025 and roughly 11% in 2030.

Bình Phước farmers have good cashew harvest

Farmers in Bình Phước Province have begun to harvest their cashew crop, and yields are higher than last year because of favourable weather and the efforts of authorities and farmers to prevent diseases.

Last year, many cashew farms in the south-eastern province, the country’s largest cashew producer, were affected by diseases and had low yields, but authorities and farmers have taken measures to tend disease-affected orchards this year, enabling them to recover and bear more fruits.

This year, the rate of flowers developing into fruits is in fact high at more than 50 per cent in most orchards, according to farmers.

Điểu Thanh, a farmer in Bù Gia Mập District’s Đắk Ơ Commune, said the weather this year is much better for cashew trees to fruit than last year.

Last year, inclement weather caused disease outbreaks, making his yield to decline, and his family had to spend dozens of millions of đồng on fertiliser and labour to revive the orchard this year, he said.

“Most cashew trees flowering this year have a high fruiting rate and harvest has begun.”

Điểu Hùng, who has a 4ha cashew orchard in Bù Gia Mập District’s Phú Văn Commune, said the harvest season this year came a few days after Tết (Lunar New Year) making it convenient for farmers to clean their orchard and do the harvest.

“This year, cashew trees have more fruits compared to … last year.”

At the beginning of the blossoming season, the province's Agriculture Service Centre organised farming courses for hundreds of cashew farmers.

They were taught techniques to make the trees flower at the same time and how to treat some common diseases.

In the province, Bù Gia Mập, Bù Đăng and Bù Đốp districts have the largest cashew growing areas.

Nguyễn Văn Bắc, acting director of the Bù Đốp District Agriculture Service Centre, said the centre instructs farmers to regularly monitor their cashew farms to promptly discover diseases and pests and control them.

The most common disease is anthracnose, a fungal infection that damages flowers and fruits.

Mosquito bugs and the striped mealybug are major pests.

Farmers are having a good harvest, but the price of cashew is currently low.

Traders are buying the nuts on farms at around VNĐ28,000 (US$1.2) a kilogramme, down VNĐ10,000-12,000 from a year ago, farmers said.

The province has more than 130,000ha under cashew, according to its Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

It is among the crops that have helped farmers escape poverty in recent years.

The province’s cashew nut has been granted geographical indication certification.

Vietnam should develop high-added value electronics sector, say experts

Vietnam should pen a general plan to shape up an electronics sector with higher value as the industry is currently assembling and processing simple products, according to experts.

In fact, although Vietnam is the world’s 12th largest electronics exporter and the third largest in ASEAN, some 95 percent of the country’s electronic export revenue comes from foreign-invested enterprises instead of domestic firms.

According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, export value of the sector increased over 50 percent on average during 2010-2018, the highest level in the world. However, the impressive growth is backed by heavy investment from large multinational groups, particularly those from the Republic of Korea and Japan.

Actually, foreign enterprises operating in the country account for the lion’s share of the value, with domestic firms producing relatively little.

The ministry said that local firms have shown their limitations in production capacity, with products’ quality and designs failing to meet requirements of the market. Meanwhile, a multitude of popular Vietnamese electronic firms are making stagnant development, having their brands fade out, and accounting for teeny market share.

Several made-in-Vietnam mobile phones such as BPhone, Vsmart and Viettel are gaining popularity among local consumers; however, foreign brands are dominating the local electronic market.

To address challenges the Vietnamese electronics industry is facing, experts suggest the establishment of research and development (R&D) centres to develop advanced technologies and machines for the sector.

They emphasized the need to set up a sustainable business ecosystem with ceaseless innovations. In this ecosystem, the government will play an important role to create initiatives and provide technology and management skills with support from universities and experienced experts, they said.

Production of high-added value products such as screens, semiconductors and electronic spare parts should be prioritized. Therefore, heavy investment must be made to improve production capacity and technology, in addition to a long-term support strategy./.

 
 

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