BUSINESS NEWS HEADLINES FEB. 27

Sugar stocks on the rise thank to global rising prices

BUSINESS NEWS HEADLINES FEB. 27


Shares of sugar companies have gained sharply as raw sugar prices are skyrocketing on the world market.

Since early this year, Son La Sugar JSC (SLS) stocks rose 48 per cent, Kon Tum Sugar Joint Stock Company (KTS) has increased by 34 per cent, Lam Son Sugar JSC (LSS) has gained by 32 per cent and Thanh Thanh Cong – Bien Hoa JSC has climbed 19 per cent.

In the 2018-2019 crop year, SLS produced 625,892 tonnes of sugarcane. The company currently owns 7,800 hectares, equivalent to 3.3 per cent of the country’s sugarcane material area, ensuring stable raw materials.

As for KTS, the company mainly purchases raw materials from farmers so it has to face price fluctuations. In the past year, KTS itself produced more than 80,600 tonnes of sugarcane, purchasing more than 60,600 tonnes from outside.

As of December 31, 2019, KTS has a total asset of VND317 billion, of which construction costs for unfinished projects were VND202.6 billion, accounting for 64 per cent of total assets.

Up to 70 per cent of the raw material area of LSS is small, fragmented land on hills, which is difficult to apply synchronous mechanisation, leading to low efficient cultivation and instability of raw materials provision. LSS’s profits plummeted from VND102 billion in 2015 to only VND1.3 billion in 2018.

On the global market, the prices of raw sugar, since mid-September last year, has soared from 10.75 US cents per pound to 15.78 cents, an increase of 46.6 per cent, while from the beginning of 2020, they jumped 19 per cent.

Prices rose sharply despite the world instability in the Middle East and the damages caused by the COVID-19 virus in China.

In 2018, the 10 largest exporting countries accounting for 67.9 per cent of total world production included Brazil, Thailand, France, India and Germany. Major importing countries were Indonesia, the US, China, Malaysia and Italy.

There are many reasons for the rise in world sugar prices. Thailand, the world’s second largest sugar exporting country after Brazil, forecasts crop output will decrease by 28 per cent in 2020, reaching about 10.5 million tonnes, the lowest in the past nine years due to the prolonged dry season which lasted till May 6 last year, instead of ending April like every other year.

Thai sugar exports are expected to fluctuate between six and seven million tonnes this year, instead of 11 million tonnes in 2019, which is down 36 per cent to 45 per cent year-on-year.

India, the world's biggest sugar producer and biggest consumer, also forecasts that production in 2020 will decrease by 18 per cent.

Viet Nam’s sugar industry is also expected to face difficulties as the country drops tariffs on imported sugar from ASEAN under the ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement (ATIGA) in 2020.

According to ATIGA, which took effect January 1, import quotas will be removed for sugar imports from ASEAN countries to one another and those products will be taxed only 5 per cent.

That has raised concerns over strong competition that local sugar producers will face if sugar imports from other ASEAN economies enter Viet Nam.

Foreign capital keeps flowing out to weigh on VN stocks

Foreign investors net-sold more than VND1.1 trillion (US$47.5 million) worth of local stocks last week and the figure is forecast to keep rising on worries about the downgrade of the economy under the impact of the coronavirus.

Last week’s net-selling figure jumped nearly 600 per cent from the number recorded in the previous week.

Net foreign selling forced the benchmark VN-Index on the Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange and the minor HNX-Index on the Ha Noi Stock Exchange to fall 0.46 per cent and 1.50 per cent week-on-week.

Stocks pressurised by foreign capital outflow included Vietinbank (CTG), consumer goods firm Masan (MSN), property developers Vingroup (VIC) and Novaland (NVL), Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam (BID), PetroVietnam Gas (GAS) and insurer Bao Viet (BVH).

In February, foreign investors offloaded net value of VND2 trillion while they net-bought a total of VND1.9 trillion in the first month of the year.

In the pre-Tet (Lunar New Year) period between January 1 and January 22, foreign investors bought a net value of VND2.12 trillion, but they have sold a net value of VND2.25 trillion since the market returned from the Tet break.

The stronger foreign capital outflow concurred alongside the outbreak of the coronavirus – known as COVID-19 – in China and other countries in East Asia and Southeast Asia, which has raised concerns among investors about slowing regional economies.

Some Chinese companies have returned to work but operations have remained slow on fears of the spread of the virus. Chinese authorities have promised low lending rates and more stimulus packages to boost local production.

According to SSI Research, COVID-19 has cut international organisations’ growth forecasts for economies in the region and fund managers and institutional investors have had to change their strategies.

The outbreak in China, South Korea and Japan – three of the largest manufacturing economies in the world – has led investors to fear that the Vietnamese economy will be heavily affected by the slowdown of industrial outputs in the three economies as Viet Nam is highly connected to all three.

Net foreign selling last week was a bad indicator, Sai Gon-Ha Noi Securities (SHS) said in its weekly note. “Investors were still wary of the unpredictable development of COVID-19.”

Foreign capital has been withdrawn from emerging markets as investors look for shelter in safe havens such as bonds and gold, making gold prices hike and strengthening the US dollar against other currencies, VNDirect Securities (VNDS) said in a note.

“That explains the pressure that foreign investors have had on Vietnamese stocks in the last three weeks as they did in 2018 and 2019.”

Foreign investors would not stop selling soon, Bao Viet Securities (BVSC) predicted.

The benchmark VN-Index is set to move between 920 points and 945 points this week, analysts forecast.

There was a lack of supportive news for the market at the moment and the pressure of foreign capital outflow will be prolonged, Ngo Quoc Hung, senior analyst at MB Securities Co (MBS), told tinnhanhchungkhoan.vn.

“Capital is concentrating on bank stocks, which is understandable, and trading liquidity of bank stocks accounts for 40 per cent of the market total,” he said.

Investors were trying to take profits from large-cap stocks and moved into smaller companies, Hung said.

“Small-cap stocks have gained for two straight weeks with increased liquidity while large-cap stocks’ growth is slowing down and they become less active on the market.”

Quang Binh Import & Export to divest entire capital in DAP-VINACHEM

Quang Binh Import & Export JSC (QBS) plans to sell all its 22 million shares, equivalent to holding rate of 15.17 per cent, at fertiliser firm DAP-VINACHEM JSC (DDV).

The transaction is scheduled to take place on February 21 to March 20 through order matching or put-through method.

QBS is expected to collect VND137 billion (US$5.9 million) from the sale.

On the stock market, shares of DDV closed on Friday at VND6,200 per share, down by 60 per cent compared to its peak in 2019.

In 2019, DDV earned nearly VND1.6 trillion in net revenue, down more than 29 per cent compared to 2018. Post-tax profit reached nearly VND6.3 billion, a drop of more than 97 per cent.

DDV is a joint stock company with 64 per cent of State capital held by the Viet Nam National Chemical Group (Vinachem) with a charter capital of VND1.42 trillion. The company operates in the field of fertiliser and chemicals production.

QBS’s net revenue in 2019 reached VND1.4 trillion, down nearly 35 per cent compared to 2018. Post-tax profit was negative VND177 billion, the first loss since 2012.

THACO exports 40 Kia Grand Carnival cars to Thailand

Truong Hai Auto Corporation, or THACO, has exported 40 Kia Grand Carnival cars to Thailand.

The vehicles, which have 2.2L diesel engines, were manufactured at the THACO Kia Plant in the THACO Chu Lai Industry Park in Quang Nam Province.

This is THACO’s first shipment to the market, the first step in its goal to exporting more than 1,600 vehicles for US$50 million this year.

Yontrakit Kia Motor Co., Ltd, headquartered in Bangkok, an authorised importer and distributor of Kia passenger vehicles in Thailand, is the importer.

The cars were loaded on the ship at Cat Lai port in HCM City.

Kia Grand Carnival (known as Kia Sedona in the Vietnamese market), has unique and sophisticated design, modern features, comfort, and a spacious interior with 11 seats, and right hand drive to meet Thai traffic laws.

In addition, with its outstanding performance and exciting driving experience, Kia Grand Carnival can well serve the needs of Thai customers.

Many components used in the cars such as hub cabs, batteries, tyres, speakers, and horns are produced in the country or imported from Southeast Asia countries.

The production process has been put under rigorous quality testing in accordance with Kia’s global standards.

The car bodies are painted in a colour coating line that uses the new wet-on-wet paint technology and automatic paint feeding system, meeting stringent requirements and offering a variety of customised colours.

Car components and bodies are assembled on conveyor belts that are 80 per cent automated. Large components such as the engine, gearbox and front and rear axles are assembled and tested on separate lines and transported by AGV (automatic guided vehicle) systems to connect to the vehicle body, ensuring precision during the assembly process.

The cars, before leaving the plant, are tested using advanced equipment to check the angle for placing wheels, lights, rotation speed, and brakes, and taken for a test drive on a 2.4km test track at the THACO-Chu Lai Industrial Park, which fully simulates actual terrain with ramps, slippery roads, gravel, winding stretches, and flat roads.

Meeting Kia Group’s global quality standards and having a local content rate of over 40 per cent, the Kia Grand Carnival cars meet the regional value content (RVC) of products, thereby enjoying preferential import tax rates of 0 per cent under the ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement.

In the Thai market, the Kia Grand Carnival is a popular high-end multi-purpose car that enjoys consistent sales growth.

At the recent 2019 Thailand International Motor Show, Yontrakit introduced the Kia Grand Carnival model made in Vietnam and received positive feedback from customers.

In 2020 THACO plans to export 480 Kia Grand Carnival cars to Thailand, promote various Kia cars in Myanmar and Thailand and expand to other markets such as Malaysia, Cambodia and the Philippines.

To realise this goal, THACO is focusing on developing export products that meet the specific requirements of partners and markets as well as the standards and regulations of importing countries, and increasing the local parts rate to meet the regional value content criteria and reduce costs and participate more deeply in the global automobile production value chain.

Ford's Transit vans run on green fuel made from cooking oil

US automaker Ford has recently approved the use of hydro-treated vegetable oil (HVO) in its Transit vans.

This renewable diesel fuel is based on waste oils, including used cooking oil that can be sourced from restaurants, takeaways, and even kitchens at home, the company said.

The use of HVO, or renewable diesel, in place of conventional fossil fuels can contribute to improvements in air quality.

Greenhouse gases can be reduced by up to 90 per cent compared with regular diesel. Vehicles run on HVO emit less NOx and particulates than other diesel vehicles because the fuel contains no sulphur or oxygen, the company said.

Commercial companies across Europe collect used cooking oil from restaurants, caterers and schools.

“Enabling our vans to run on fuel made from waste, including used cooking oil, may sound far-fetched but using HVO is, in fact, a very real way in which Transit drivers and fleet operators will soon be able to help everyone enjoy improved air quality,” said Hans Schep, general manager for Commercial Vehicles for Ford in Europe.

Additionally, HVO, which also incorporates waste animal fats and fish oil, helps diesel engines start more easily in low temperatures. The creation process, using hydrogen as a catalyst, means HVO is both cleaner-burning than conventional biodiesels and has a longer shelf life.

Ford thoroughly tested HVO in its 2.0-litre EcoBlue engine to make sure no modifications would be needed, and servicing would not be affected. No further development of the fuel was needed before it could be used in Ford’s latest Transit vans.

HVO is on sale at selected fuel stations in Europe, mainly in Scandinavia and the Baltic states, where it can be offered in a pure form, or as a blend with regular diesel.

Viet Nam records trade deficit in first half of February

Viet Nam recorded a trade deficit of US$30 million in the first half of February, according to the General Department of Customs.

The nation's total trade value in the first half of this month was $19.23 billion, an increase of 32 per cent compared to the second half of January and 3.3 per cent year on year, the general department reported.

Of which, the export value rose by 30 per cent year on year to $9.6 billion, including $6.78 million from foreign direct investment (FDI) enterprises.

Therefore, Viet Nam saw total export value increase by 5.4 per cent year on year to $27.86 billion for the period from January 1 to February 15. Of which, the export value of FDI enterprises was $18.5 billion.

Products gaining high growth rate in export value during this period included all kinds of telephones and their components; computers, electronic products and components; textiles; machinery, equipment, tools; and shoes.

Meanwhile, Viet Nam's import revenue in the first half of February reached $9.62 billion, up 33.7 per cent compared to the second half of January, including $5.8 billion from FDI firms.

This figure brought the total import value to $28.27 billion in the period from the first day of this year until February 15, down 1.3 per cent year on year.

There were two groups of goods with import value of more than $1 billion in the first half of February, including computers, electronic products and their components ($2.3 billion) and the group of other machines, equipment, tools and spare parts ($1.3 billion), said the general department.

IFC increases trade finance limits to support Vietnamese businesses amid Covid-19

The International Finance Corporation (IFC) announced it has increased trade finance limits for Vietnamese banks to improve their capacity to cover payment risks in granting trade financing to local companies affected by the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, known as COVID-19.

The spread of COVID-19 has caused business disruption in Viet Nam since the first case was announced in late January. The hardest hit areas include tourism and associated services, cross-border trade, manufacturing and agribusiness, among other sectors.

IFC is supporting Vietnamese businesses by increasing trade limits for four client commercial banks including An Binh Commercial Joint Stock Bank (ABBank), Tien Phong Commercial Joint Stock Bank (TPBank), Viet Nam International Commercial Joint Stock Bank (VIB) and Viet Nam Prosperity Joint Stock Commercial Bank (VPB).

The increased total limit of US$294 million will enable these banks’ capacity to cover payment risks in granting trade financing to local companies, mostly small and medium enterprises, IFC said in its press release on Friday.

“VIB welcomes this timely and meaningful initiative to cope with possible liquidity constraints and de-risking trends during this challenging period,” said VIB’s Chief Executive Officer Han Ngoc Vu.

“IFC’s guarantee will help local banks significantly extend trade finance to more importers and exporters, some of which are credit-constrained and rely on bank trade facilities to manage cash flows and purchase raw inputs.”

This initiative follows the State Bank of Viet Nam’s call to financial institutions to support local businesses, which may be affected by the coronavirus outbreak – particularly those in trade and supply chain linkages.

“Leveraging IFC’s global experience in responding to several economic crises in the past, the decision to increase trade limits is an effort to ensure continued trade flows during this challenging phase. The expanded trade finance line will help mitigate trade finance risks, thus softening the impact of COVID-19 on the Vietnamese economy and the private sector,” said Mehmet Mumcuoglu, IFC Financial Institutions Group Manager for East Asia and the Pacific.

Following this initiative, IFC is also exploring other expanded interventions to extend its support to Viet Nam to mitigate the economic impact of COVID-19 and help the nation sustain robust economic growth, Kyle Kelhofer, IFC Country Manager for Viet Nam, Cambodia and Lao PDR, said.

Consumer finance firm FE Credit turns joint-stock

The State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) has approved consumer finance firm FE Credit to change its legal status from limited liability to joint stock.

The company is responsible for making a public announcement about the change in accordance with existing regulations.

The central bank has also approved FE Credit to increase its charter capital by VNĐ5 billion (more than US$215,000) to more than VNĐ7.3 trillion.

FE Credit is fully owned by the Vietnam Prosperity Joint Stock Commercial Bank (VPBank).

The consumer finance firm is among the biggest in the sector, making total loans of VNĐ72.5 trillion in 2019, up 19 per cent on-year.

The company reported outstanding lending was nearly VND60.6 trillion in 2019, up 13.75 per cent on-year.

Pre-tax profit rose 8.2 per cent on-year to nearly VND4.5 trillion in 2019. The company announced its return-on-asset (ROA) and return-on-equity (ROE) ratios were 5.5 per cent and 34.8 per cent, respectively.

The company has contributed 40-50 per cent of VPBank’s total profit in recent years.

Enterprises invited to get involved in legalisation of EVFTA commitments

Enterprises should participate in the legislation process of Vietnam’s commitments to the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) in order to make the most of it, a representative from the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) has said.

According to Phung Thi Lan Phuong, the VCCI will be sharing information related to the EVFTA with businesses, while conveying recommendations it receives back to relevant State agencies about amendments to policies and laws being drawn up to implement the trade pact.

Phuong added that enterprises, business associations and investors are hoping to fully tap the benefits of the EVFTA – one of the most important new-generation FTAs ever signed – to promote export growth and institutional improvements in Vietnam.

As the largest organisation representing the Vietnamese business community, the VCCI is ready to support businesses in all issues related to FTAs, including the EVFTA.

The EVFTA and the EU-Vietnam Investment Protection Agreement (EVIPA) were ratified by the European Parliament (EP) on February 12. The agreements are expected to take effect in the middle of this year.

According to research by the Ministry of Planning and Investment, the deals will help Vietnam increase its GDP by 4.6 percent and its exports to the EU by 42.7 percent by 2025. Meanwhile, the European Commission has projected the EU’s GDP will increase by 29.5 billion USD and its exports to Vietnam by 29 percent by 2035.

The investment commitment will replace bilateral investment agreements between Vietnam and EU members, helping the country continue reforming its economic structure, fine tune the business environment and institutions, and facilitate EU investment in Vietnam./.

Singapore firms seek suppliers of agricultural products in Vietnam

A delegation of firms from Singapore was expected to visit Vietnam at the end of this month to seek fruit and vegetable suppliers, as imports from China were declining due to the outbreak of novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

The Department of Asian – African Markets under the Ministry of Industry and Trade said this hopefully would be a solution to tackle difficulties caused by the epidemic to Vietnam’s exports of agro-forestry-fishery products.

The epidemic, which was hitting a number of sectors of Singapore, forced the country to look for new markets, especially in neighbours like Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam, to cope with interruptions in trade with China.

Singapore was mostly reliant on imports of agricultural products to meet domestic demand.

This was also a significant opportunity for Vietnam to expand exports of fruits and vegetables to Singapore, diversify export markets and reduce reliance on China, the department said.

On February 18, Singapore announced a financial package worth 4.6 billion USD to cope with the epidemic, which would focus on providing support to companies operating in sectors suffering the most from the epidemic, including aviation, tourism and retail and low-income households.

According to the ministry, Vietnam’s exports of fruit and vegetable products decreased considerably, partly due to the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic.

Customs statistics showed that fruit and vegetable exports in January totalled 280 million USD, representing a fall of 20.6 percent over the same month last year.

Although mainland China was the largest import market of Vietnamese fruit and vegetable products, accounting for 64.8 percent of Vietnam’s fruit and vegetable export value last year, exports to this market in January saw a drop of 32.4 percent to 173.5 million USD.

In January, fruit and vegetable exports to Thailand, Laos, Taiwan and Russia increased at 162 percent, 42 percent and 123 percent, respectively./.

 

Vietnam eyes stronger cooperation, farm produce trade with US

A delegation of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) led by Deputy Minister Le Quoc Doanh is on a visit to the US to enhance cooperation and farm produce trade from February 24-29.

During the visit, the delegation, including representatives of 19 firms and associations, will study the US’ farm produce supply, and boost imports of farm produce and technology from the US to the Vietnamese market.

It will also arrange business forums to facilitate the trade of agro-forestry-fishery products and create trade links between the two sides.

The delegation will explore chances to boost cooperation and the transfer of advanced technology in agriculture in an effort to strengthen domestic production chains. It will also join working sessions with US agencies to remove bottlenecks and create favourable conditions for import-export of the two countries.

Vietnam’s imports from the US hit 14.37 billion USD in 2019 from just 9.35 billion USD two years ago, surging 53 percent.

The Southeast Asian nation purchased fresh fruits worth 304 million USD from the US last year, up 51 percent compared to 2017.

The MARD has paid heed to and prioritised scientific-technological cooperation, trade and investment with US partners in high-technology agricultural production, organic farming, and processing technologies for domestic consumption and export./.

Banks urged to cut interest rates for epidemic-hit firms

The State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) has urged domestic and branches of foreign credit institutions to offer a cut in loan interest rates for businesses affected by the acute respiratory disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) which is taking toll on the regional economies.

In response to the government’s appeal, the SBV requested the commercial banks to review their borrowers and update how they are affected by the outbreak in order to provide them with necessary support.

The commercial banks were asked to delay repayments, cut loan interest rates and temporarily keep the affected borrowers in their current debt group. The policies are applicable to all epidemic-affected loans with repayment due between January 23 and March 31, the central bank said.

They will be valid until further notice from the SBV, it added.

To be eligible for the preferential policies, borrowers must make inquiries to the banks who then review their loans to assess the level of impact the epidemic has on them and their ability to repay the debts after a new repayment schedule is issued.

The banks must report to the SBV on the implementation and outcomes of the policies on March 15 and 31.

In Vietnam, debts are classified into five groups based on their risk level: standard debt, debt needing special attention, subprime debt, doubtful debt, and potentially irrecoverable debt./.

Human resources key to sustainable tourism development

Developing human resources in tourism is key to help boost this industry sustainability, according to experts.

The tourism sector of Vietnam has seen impressive progress. Last year, the country welcomed 18 million international tourists, a year-on-year increase of 16 per cent and served 85 million domestic visitors.

Total revenue reached more than 720 trillion VND (31.1 billion USD) last year, up 16 percent in comparison with 2018.

The average growth rate of visitors in three consecutive years (2016-2019) saw a 22 percent average increase each year.

The country is ranked as one of the ten fastest growing tourist destinations in the world.

However, experts have warned the sector still faces many challenges, particularly the impacts of the COVID-19 epidemic in the first months of 2020.

Apart from measures to prevent and control the disease and gradually restructure the tourism market, the development of qualified human resources is needed to help the sector recover after the epidemic and develop in the future.

According to the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, the sector needs around 40,000 labourers each year. However, the number of students graduating from schools in the field of tourism was only 15,000 with a little over 12 percent from universities and colleges or higher education.

Director of HCM City’s Department of Tourism Bui Ta Hoang Vu said human resources serving the tourism sector failed to meet demand.

The city requires an increase of 12-15 percent in the number labourers each year, but supply cannot keep up with real demand.

The city has more than 60 establishments providing tourism training at three levels – universities, colleges and vocational schools. However, they could only meet 60 percent of recruitment demand.

Other localities like Binh Duong, Can Tho, Kien Giang and Ca Mau face the same problem.

While the lack of human resources remains a headache for the tourism sector, quality also fails to meet requirements.

Many businesses have to spend time and money to retrain new workers to match job requirements.

Nguyen Quoc Ky, Director General of Vietravel – one among leading travel companies in Vietnam, said most travel agencies had to retrain newly-recruited workers for up to a year. “This is a huge waste,” he said.

Chairman of the HCM City Tourism Association Tran Hung Viet said development demand of many localities kept increasing but the human resources quality remained limited.

The lack of and weakness in professional skills of human resources are among key problems. Foreign language competency of the labourers also needs improvement, he said.

In order to improve the quality of the tourism human resources, many training establishments have moved towards provision of training in close connection with demands and with more focus on practice.

Principal of Hoa Sen University Mai Hong Quy said connecting universities with businesses is the common trend globally.

Students would have the chance to gain experience at hotels, travel agencies and restaurants to improve their professional skills.

Apart from reforming and improving training quality at training schools, tourism businesses also regularly organised courses to help their employees keep up with new trends and increasing demand.

A representative from Saigontourist Company in HCM City said more than 1,000 tour guides of the company often had their knowledge and skills updated and improved via annual training courses. Regular training helped the company develop business strategies effectively.

Deputy Director of the HCM City’s Tourism Department Nguyen Thi Anh Hoa said the department had paid more attention to improving professional skills and foreign language competence for workers.

In 2019, the department coordinated with the city’s Tourism Association to organise competitions for tourism labourers, creating conditions for them to update, learn and exchange skills and knowledge.

It plans to organise management training courses in the 4.0 Industry with funds mobilised from the society, according to Hoa.

Courses on eco-tourism, community-based tourism and tourism promotion would also be held, she said.

Head of the Training Department under the HCM City Tourism Association Huynh Quoc Thang said the tourism sector had integrated stronger in the international community. Vietnam had become a member of the World Tourism Organisation, the Asia-Pacific Tourism Association and the Southeast Asian Tourism Association.

"Improvement in human resources quality plays an important role to affirm the country’s position in the regional and global markets," he said.

The tourism sector strives to receive around 20.5 million international visitors and serve 90 domestic tourists in 2020, which is expected to earn more than 830 trillion VND.

Kon Tum invests in hi-tech agriculture

The Central Highlands province of Kon Tum has attracted investors’ attention as authorities make efforts to foster hi-tech agriculture.

According to the People’s Committee, the province has 856,000ha of agricultural land, or 88 per cent of all available land.

The province has adopted high technology and advanced irrigation techniques on 7,600ha of farming area so far, 277ha of vegetable and floriculture and 7,057ha of coffee and pepper.

Kon Tum has dedicated areas for hi-tech agriculture such as for cultivation of vegetables, flowers and medical herbs in Măng Đen (Kon Plông District), Ngọc Linh ginseng on an area 1,500 metres above sea level in the districts of Đắk Glei and Tu Mơ Rông and coffee in Đắk Hà District, and livestock in the newly-established district of Ia H’Drai.

In 2016 the People’s Committee, which has recognised hi-tech agriculture as one of the province’s three major economic sectors, issued a resolution on the development of hi-tech farming linked with agricultural processing.

At a conference held in Kon Tum City in September 2018 to discuss the cultivation of Ngọc Ling ginseng and other medicinal herbs, Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc approved a project to build an industrial park exclusively for medicinal herb production and processing.

He also green-lighted the planting of medicinal herbs under trees in the province’s sprawling forests.

Kon Tum authorities have approved a list of 108 projects requiring investment, including major agricultural projects using hi-tech.

The province currently has 27 hi-tech agricultural projects with a total investment of almost VNĐ7 trillion (over US$300 million).

Major projects include hi-tech agricultural production and eco-tourism in Kon Plông District by a joint venture between Kon Plong Agri – Tourism Việt Nam and Australia’s 4Ways Pty. Ltd., setting up of an international standard organic farm by BIOPAP Ltd,. the Măng Đen Hi-tech Planting Zone by 4Ways, and the VinEco Kon Tum Hi-tech Agricultural Production by Vingroup.

To create favourable conditions for investment, in 2017-19 the province invested over VNĐ1,115 billion (nearly US$500 million) to develop infrastructure for hi-tech agriculture, Nguyễn Văn Hoà, Chairman of the People’s Committee, said.

The provincial authority has also set up a work team headed by a deputy chairman of the People’s Committee to monitor the action programme for hi-tech agricultural production.

Asia-Pacific Quality Organisation launches 2020 global quality award

The Asia-Pacific Quality Organisation (APQO) has announced the official launch of the 2020 Global Performance Excellence Award (GPEA).

To be eligible for the prestigious award, businesses must earn the national quality award for two years preceding the year of application and recommendation from the national award body.

The GPEA programme is administered by the APQO, which is a non-profit organisation that brings together all of the leading quality professional societies in the Asia Pacific region.

It is to review, assess and bestow awards to businesses achieving excellent performances and outstanding achievements in innovating, improving quality and contributing to the country’s productivity and quality movement.

In 2019, four Vietnamese businesses received the award, with ceramic and tile producer Viglacera Corporation and Kizuna JV Corporation winning the “World Class” title.

Meanwhile, the “Best in Class” recognition was bestowed to Tan A Manufacturing and Trading Company Limited and Central Power Electronic Measurement Equipment Manufacturing Centre.

Over the past 23 years, as many as 1,914 Vietnamese businesses have been presented with the national awards, including 240 winners of gold prizes. Notably, 50 firms were honoured with the GPEA./.

Export activities at border gates still slow: Ministry

Export activities through border gates with China were still slow by February 23, according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

About 171 vehicles exporting products to China went through customs clearance between February 20 and 23 at the Huu Nghi International Border Gate in Lang Son Province, including fruits, electronic components and garments.

Up to 365 vehicles exporting products, including jackfruit, dragon fruit, mango, longan, chillies and electronic components, were still stuck at that border gate.

About 189 vehicles carrying electronic components, machinery, porcelain, glass and garments entered Viet Nam via the border gate during this period.

At the Tan Thanh International Border Gate in Lang Son Province, 13 vehicles carrying dragon fruit and watermelon were exported from Viet Nam to China and 18 vehicles of yellow melon, green beans, onions, potatoes, peanuts, fresh mushrooms and garlic were imported to Viet Nam.

However, 107 vehicles of farming products to China, including dragon fruit and watermelons, are waiting for customs clearance at this border gate.

The ministry said the slow export activity at Tan Thanh border gate was due to a small number of workers loading and unloading goods on the Chinese side and a lack of trading activities performed by border residents.

From February 22, the Management Board of the border gate and the Chinese side agreed to implement customs clearance from 7am to 7pm daily to facilitate import and export activities, according to the ministry.

The ministry also said Lao Cai border gate imported 188 trucks of goods from China in the period from February 20 until February 23 while at present, about 200 vehicles of goods are waiting for export to this market.

In Quang Ninh Province, the total trade value reached about US$525,700 at the Mong Cai border gate during the period. The customs sub-department of this border gate implemented customs clearance for 42 trucks, including 27 export goods trucks to China and 15 import goods trucks.

State-run mining firm to divest from Nghe An-based company

The Vinacomin – Minerals Holding Corporation (Vimico) is going to auction 2,367,040 shares worth over 23.6 billion VND (about 1 million USD) it holds at the Nghe Tinh Non-ferrous Metal JSC on March 10.

The Hanoi Stock Exchange (HNX) said the shares will be auctioned at HNX at the starting price of 26,000 VND each. They are equivalent to 60.93 percent of the Nghe Tinh company’s charter capital.

The Nghe Tinh company, based in the central province of Nghe An, was founded in 1980. It is involved in counselling and mineral exploration, mining, processing and trading; and also constructs civil, industrial, transport and irrigation structures; produces and trades in building materials; and engages in some other activities like transportation, storage, and gas station operation.

Coded KLM, this company was listed on UPCoM on December 30, 2019. Its stock’s reference price was 12,000 VND per share on February 24./.

Kien Giang welcomes nearly 590,000 tourists in February

The southern province of Kien Giang estimates to welcome 585,680 tourists in February, a drop of 44.5 percent from the previous month.

Of the tourists, the number of foreign visitors is 48,625, down 26.7 percent compared to that of January.

Despite a decline in February, the number of visitors to Kien Giang rose 16.4 percent in the first two months of this year to 1.6 million, including 114.996 foreigners. The provincial tourism sector earned 2.6 trillion VND (114 million USD) in revenue.

Nguyen Chi Thanh, Deputy Director of the Kien Giang Department of Tourism, said the number of tourist arrivals to Kien Giang will continue to decrease due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The province’s tourism sector is estimated to suffer a loss of 2.4 trillion VND (100 million USD) in revenue in the first quarter of this year.

Local authorities have implemented a series of measures against the disease to ensure safety for both tourists and the sector’s staff.

Besides, the province has accelerated infrastructure projects at local tourist sites, while improving the quality of human resources for the sector by providing knowledge for guides./.

COVID-19: Lang Son province works to promote trading via rail

Up to 260 carriages with tens of thousands of tonnes of exports and imports have passed Dong Dang International Railway Station, the northern border province of Lang Son, to and from China since February 4 despite impact of the COVID-19 epidemic.

Most of the commodities are iron ore, steel, coal and agricultural products, the customs sub-department at this station said at a meeting with Lang Son officials on February 24.

Notably, on February 11 and 19, to meet businesses’ demand, the agency piloted the export of 460 tonnes of fresh dragon fruit in 27 carriages, it said, considering this a new direction for quickly shipping Vietnamese farm produce to the neighbouring market amid the complex developments of COVID-19.

Vice Chairman of the Lang Son provincial People’s Committee Nguyen Cong Truong said as export and import via land border gates have encountered difficulties due to the epidemic’s impact, local relevant forces need to facilitate trading of goods, especially farm produce and fresh fruits, via railway services.

He suggested them discuss with Chinese authorities to permit the shipment of Vietnamese agricultural products via the railway station.

The official also asked Lang Son departments to increase communications to persuade businesses to export and import goods by rail, while working closely with the Dong Dang station to ensure disease control during the handling of carriages and goods./.

Ha Nam becomes attractive destination for investors

Efforts made by the northern province of Ha Nam to lure investments have proved effective when the locality has become an attractive destination for both domestic and foreign investors.

In 1997 when Ha Nam province was re-established, the proportion of agriculture accounted for 50 percent of its economic structure, while its socio-economic and urban infrastructure and transport system were underdeveloped. At that time, there were only 40 operating enterprises, paying only 72.4 billion VND (3.1 million USD) to the State budget.

To affirm its determination to improve the business environment, since 2011, Ha Nam has made 10 commitments to investors, including providing sufficient electricity for businesses in industrial zones, ensuring standard clean water supply and waste treatment systems, providing land to build houses for workers, and offering favourable customs procedures.

At present, there are 950 valid projects totaling nearly 200 trillion VND (8.6 billion USD) in the province, of which 288 are invested by foreign investors from nine countries and territories, with a total capital of 3.56 billion USD.

Lee Hwdeuk, Director of Korean-invested KMW Vietnam Ltd, Co., said that leaders of the provincial People’s Committee have held regular meetings with businesses to help them promptly solve difficulties.

To attract more projects, Hoang Cao Liem, Director of the provincial Investment Promotion Centre, stated that the province is focusing on completing planning, speeding up the construction of infrastructure in industrial zones and clusters, and regularly updating mechanisms and policies to encourage private investment, especially in hi-tech support industry.

Ha Nam is stepping up the reform of administrative procedures at all levels and diversifying investment promotion methods, Liem said, adding that it is also giving the priority to foreign investors, especially those operating in support industry from Japan and the Republic of Korea.

Additionally, it is attracting investment in hi-tech agriculture, urban infrastructure, trade, tourism, health and education./.

Programme helps promote solar power use in Vietnam

An online seminar on promoting cooperation in the “Million Green Homes” programme in Vietnam was jointly held by the Green Innovation and Development Centre (GreenID) and the Vietnam Coalition for Climate Action (VCCA) in Hanoi on February 24.

According to Director of GreenID Nguy Thi Khanh, the programme was initiated in 2019, aiming to developing one million green houses and buildings in Vietnam by 2030, thus spreading the use of solar power in the country.

It is also expected to promote economical and efficient use of energy.

In last October the portal at http://trieungoinhaxanh.com.vn was put into operation, helping those who are interested in the programme to search relevant information and register to join the programme.

The programme has been piloted in Hanoi, the Mekong Delta province of Ca Mau and the Central Highlands province of Dak Lak since last September. A total of 601 households in the three localities have so far applied the programme of green energy solutions.

The application of green solutions to households in remote and mountainous areas, which are difficult to access to the national grid, has brought practical benefits in increasing access to energy, handling livestock waste and protecting the environment in order to adapt to climate change.

To realise the goal of one million green houses by 2030, towards the sustainable energy future in Vietnam, participants to the seminar said that apart from technical measures and policies, it is necessary to have financial support programmes./.

 
 

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