BUSINESS NEWS HEADLINES MARCH 11

VN central bank ceases bill issue for first time in nearly two months

BUSINESS NEWS HEADLINES MARCH 11

The State Bank of Viet Nam (SBV) on Tuesday ceased the issuance of bills to withdraw money from the banking system for the first time in nearly two months.

It was the first withdrawal made by the SBV since January 20.

Previously, just before the Lunar New Year, SBV unexpectedly issued bills to withdraw money on January 20 though capital demands were often high during the country’s largest holiday. The move was aimed to control inflation.

From the day to March 10, SBV withdrew a total of up to nearly VNĐ147 trillion (US$7.39 billion) by issuing bills, of which some issue sessions were very large worth up to VNĐ8-10 trillion (US$347.83 – 434.78 million) each.

The bills had an interest rate of 2.8 per cent per year on January 20. The rate then was lowered to 2.65 per cent per year from January 21 to March 10.

As the maturity of the 91-day bills will start from at the end of April, VNĐ147 trillion will gradually return to the market from the month. 

Court of Appeal upholds verdict in lawsuit between Vinasun and Grab

On March 10, the Supreme People's Procuracy of Ho Chi Minh City issued the verdict to the prolonged debate between Vinasun and Grab Vietnam. The trial panel rejected the procuracy’s protests as well as both companies’ appeals to uphold the first-instance verdict awarding damages to Vinasun.

After a heated debate, the representative of the Supreme People's Procuracy of Ho Chi Minh City made several comments. Accordingly, the prosecutor’s office said that Grab’s business is licensed by a competent authority. The new business model is implemented in five localities. The pilot programme under Decision No.24/QD-BGTVTprovides the legal grounds to define Grab.

“Grab’s business activities are legal. Therefore, the court of first instance's claim that Grab is a transport business is groundless,” the procuracy claimed, adding that the slump in Vinasun’s earnings can be attributable to several factors including governance, management, service quality, technology, and customers’ changing demand, among others. Therefore, there is no causal link between Grab’s operations and Vinasun’s damages.

Based on these arguments, the representative of the prosecutor’s office said that it was baseless for the first instance court to order Grab to pay VND4.8 billion ($208,700) in damages (incurred from idle vehicles) to Vinasun.

As the appeal court, the Supreme People's Procuracy of Ho Chi Minh City concluded that Grab was not in fact in violation of the law and requested the trial panel to accept Grab's appeal and dismiss Vinasun's appeal. However, the trial panel rejected the procuracy’s protests as well as both the plaintiff and the defendant’s appeals, upholding the first-instance verdict.

The trial panel said that at the appeal court Vinasun continued to request VND42 billion ($1.83 million) in compensation without providing any new evidence. At the same time, the court was of the opinion that Grab was one of the reasons behind Vinasun’s damages. The appeal court dismissed the procuracy’s protest as well as both Vinasun and Grab’s appeals. It kept the first instance verdict and the VND4.8 billion ($207,294) compensation payable by Grab to Vinasun.

After the end of the hearing, Nguyen Thai Hai Van, CEO of Grab Vietnam, called this a sad day for technology innovation in Vietnam. "We have closely followed all regulations under Decision 24 since the beginning days. The government’s move to extend this pilot programme by another two years reflects our good work," she said.

She noted that the verdict would not affect Grab’s operations in Vietnam. As ride-hailing businesses have been legalised under Decree No.10/2020/ND-CPfrom April 1, Grab hopes to expand operations in Vietnam.

At the end of 2018, the People's Court of Ho Chi Minh City declared the first instance judgement that Grab would pay VND4.8 billion ($208,700) in compensation to Vinasun. The court said there was causal relationship between Vinasun's losses and Grab's business activities. However, the court noted that Grab is not the sole reason for the Vietnamese company’s losses. Both Grab and Vinasun have appealed against the judgment. Vinasun requested the appeal court to accept its compensation claims in full.

Hanoi supermarkets refill shelves for Covid-19 buyers

Supermarket shelves have been filled again as supermarkets and local authorities assure citizens that there will be enough food for Hanoi.

After the first Covid-19 case was announced in Hanoi on March 6, it immediately sparked panic buying. Customers emptied both traditional markets and supermarkets to stockpile food. Both the supermarket managers and local authorities have issued assurances that there is enough food for everyone.

On March 8, food was quickly brought to the capital demand also decreased. At Big C Supermarket on Tran Duy Hung Street, the employees restocked meat, vegetables and fruits shelves every 20 minutes. The number of customers at Mega Market Pham Van Dong also decreased and became stable. The supermarket said they had huge supplies for any worst-case scenario.

Nguyen Thi Hong from My Dinh said, "I thought the supermarkets would be crowded today so I came early but the huge crowds and long queues are no longer there. Everyone has calmed down now."

The same situation can also be seen in traditional markets like Dich Vong and Co Nhue. The average meat prices increased by VND5,000 (21 US cents) to VND10,000 a kilo. Various supermarket representatives also assured people to remain calm and only buy enough food for themselves.

Tran Kim Nga, PR Manager at Mega Market Vietnam, said they had worked with the suppliers and farmers to increase supplies by 190-1,500% to a value of over VND1.2trn (USD51.6m). "We’re working closely with our partners to increase the supplies to the northern region to prevent overcharging," she said.

Nguyen Thi Phuong, deputy director of Central Retail, the managing company of Big C and Go!, said temporary shortages were caused by panic buying. However, they have quickly worked with suppliers to ensure there would not be any long-term shortages.

VN Tourism Advisory Board proposes halving tax for tourism businesses

The Viet Nam Tourism Advisory Board (TAB) has proposed to half value added tax for the tourism sector from 10 per cent to 5 per cent to help businesses deal with the novel coronavirus outbreak.

The board has also requested the Government to extend tax payment deadline for the businesses to ease their pressure.

For this year, the Government should consider exempting their social insurance and health insurance contributions and delaying the collection of personal income tax and corporate income tax until the outbreak ends.

It also suggested a 50 per cent reduction of use fees for hotels, resorts and entertainment parks for the 2020-21 fiscal year.

Authorities also need to reduce unnecessary inspections for tourism enterprises that often take time and money.

The TAB has asked the Government to disburse the Tourism Development Assistance Fund which aims to implement marketing plans and promotion programmes to help the sector.

According to TAB, the Government should accelerate the public investment projects to develop infrastructure for the future tourism growth.

Meanwhile, the Government needs to boost construction of Long Thanh airport, upgrading of Tan Son Nhat, Phu Bai and Dong Hoi airports, and building the new Chu Lai Airport. It should promote the expansion of Noi Bai Airport and complete the HCM City-Can Tho expressway and parts of the North-South Expressway.

Another solution proposed by TAB is to simplify procedures and shorten licensing time for businesses that have important roles such as aviation.

Now, the tourism industry has contributed 9.2 per cent to Viet Nam's GDP.

According to TAB, hotel occupancy rate has fallen by between 20 per cent and 50 per cent compared to the same period last year, depending on the location.

Viet Nam’s airlines have suffered huge losses because almost all flights to mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan have been cancelled. That has seen a reduction of about 50 per cent for the regional international flight bookings and 40 per cent for domestic flight bookings.

Quang Tri lures urban development projects

The People’s Committee of Quang Tri province has granted investment licences to TNG Holdings Vietnam to build two urban areas in Dong Ha city with a combined investment of nearly 1.8 trillion VND (over 78.2 million USD).

The committee has also approved investment plans for five urban development projects worth over 1.72 trillion (over 74.7 million USD), which will cover a total area of 104 ha in Dong Ha city.

Quang Tri has been attracting big investors operating in the fields of energy and processing, providing jobs for a large number of labourers but also increasing demand for housing and services.

Dong Ha aims to become a second-tier city in 2020. To that end, its infrastructure needs to be perfected, meeting the standards of a second-tier city and look towards the status of a first-tier one.

As well as developing urban infrastructure, investors have focused on building coastal ecological urban areas, urban areas with completed infrastructure, and areas with infrastructure for the trade and service sectors.

Coastal areas in Quang Tri are also attracting businesses and investors in developing ecological urban areas and resorts.

Vietnam exports processed chicken to Russia

A chicken processing factory in Chuong My district, Hanoi, has become the first business in Vietnam to be licensed to export processed chicken products to Russia.

The Department of Animal Health under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development on March 8 said the Russian animal and phytosanitary quarantine agency had sent an official notice to the department, allowing imports of Vietnamese processed chicken products from C.P Vietnam Corporation.

To make inroads into the selective market, Vietnamese firms need to meet strict standards on raising, slaughtering and processing, as well as ensuring biological and food safety, disease-free products, and traceability.

Businesses must also meet other criteria and technical barriers from Russia and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU).

Now that Vietnam is allowed to export processed chicken to Russia means the country could also export to other EAEU members, including Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia, and Kyrgyzstan.

Shrimp exporters in Mekong Delta face challenges amid Covid-19

Shrimp is a key export item of many provinces in the Cuu Long (Mekong) River Delta, but the Covid-19 epidemic has caused challenges for exporters.

In the delta region, Ca Mau and Bac Lieu are the top two provinces in shrimp export volume.

According to Bac Lieu province's Department of Industry and Trade, the province’s shrimp export revenue in January reached 62 million USD, a year-on-year increase of 9 percent.

Ca Mau province earned 58 million USD in shrimp exports in January, an increase of 8 percent over the same period last year, the Ca Mau Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (CASEP) has said.

Tran Hoang Em, general secretary of CASEP, said the province had over 1.15 billion USD last year in shrimp exports. Of the figure, exports to China were worth 102 million USD last year, accounting for 6-7 percent of total exports, and nearly 7 million USD in January.

But due to the impact of the Covid-19 epidemic, many Chinese importers have told Vietnamese seafood exporters to suspend deliveries, he said.

The Ca Mau Department of Industry and Trade recently visited six seafood export companies in the province and discovered that seafood exports to China via border trade had faced problems, but exporting by waterway had not been affected much.

The buying volume from Chinese importers has also decreased due to transport restrictions, causing difficulties for enterprises in distributing the products.

According to the departments of Industry and Trade of localities in the region, if the epidemic continues for a prolonged period, it will cause adverse impacts on local exporters, including a high risk of cancellation of orders from importers.

If exporters face difficulties, they will reduce purchases of shrimp materials from farmers, resulting in a lower shrimp price and affecting farmers’ income, they said.

Nguyen Viet Trung, head of commercial management division under the Ca Mau Department of Industry and Trade, said the department would keep a close eye on the epidemic situation and inform enterprises in a timely manner so they can come up with appropriate business plans.

They will also coordinate with relevant agencies to untie difficulties faced by exporters, especially in terms of capital.

Bac Lieu province will also have measures to support enterprises in production and export, and will strive to ensure sufficient material shrimp output for processing as well as the quality and traceability of the shrimp.

"Businesses need to boost exports to other markets rather than focus on the Chinese market amid the Covid-19 epidemic," Trung said. “In addition, local firms should take advantage of the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement, which will come into effect this year, to promote shrimp exports to the market.”

The Bac Lieu Department of Industry and Trade said it expected that the export of frozen shrimp to Australia and other markets would increase in the coming time.

The Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers said that EU shrimp imports accounts for 31 percent of the world’s total shrimp imports.

When the FTA comes into effect, local exporters will have a great opportunity to boost exports thanks to lower tariff duties. But to benefit from the FTA, Vietnamese shrimp products must meet requirements prescribed under the trade agreement, the association said.

$564 million poured in Da Nang Hi-tech Park

Having launched as a hub for green and hi-tech investment in 2013, the Da Nang Hi-Tech Park has lured 18 investment projects, of which nine foreign direct investment (FDI), with total US$564 million. Six projects including four FDI and two domestic investors were already put into operation.

Head of the Hi-Tech park and the Industrial Zones management board, Pham Truong Son said the Hi-Tech Park was designed as one of three major national multi-functional hi-tech park in the country after HCM City and Ha Noi.

He said four FDI enterprises – Tokyo Keiki Precision Technology Inc and Niwa Foundry from Japan; Dentium company from Korea and Universal Alloy Corporation from the US – had poured $260 million for manufacturing product for exports and domestic market.

Two domestic investors – Long Hau company and the Bien Dong electric automation technology company with an investment of $100 million – all started operating their projects from 2018.

According to the management board, UAC will manufacture over 4,000 different aerospace parts at Da Nang-based Sunshine Aerospace components manufacturer plant in supplying for Boeing, Airbus, Embraer, Bombardier, and it will export these parts to North America, Europe and Asia in the near future.

UAC, who invested $170 million for its factory at the park, had completed construction and begun production from late 2019, Son said.

He said the park would present five investment licences worth $148 million to investors, and four other feasibility studies projects with an estimate of $275 million in the first quarter of 2020.

Up-to-date, the Da Nang Hi-Tech Park and six other Industrial Zones (IZs) have drawn 505 projects worth $2.6 billion. These projects earned revenue of VND35.6 trillion ($1.5 billion) in 2019, contributing $213 million to the local budget.

The city has called for investment from Silicon Valley and the US in health care, hi-tech industries, Artificial Intelligence, education, real estate and automation at Da Nang Hi-tech Park and IZs.

Model change needed to improve corporate governance

Good corporate governance often leads to good performances and improves share prices and risk management for companies.

According to the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank, companies with good corporate governance report their return-on-equity (ROE) ratios are three times the ratios at worse-governed companies. The former also enjoy higher creditability ratings and are more developed.

That explains why companies with the best corporate governance results have also recorded good corporate earnings in recent years.

In 2019, insurance-finance group Bao Viet, dairy producer Vinamilk, DHG Pharmaceutical JSC, tech group FPT and HCM City Securities Corp were among the listed firms with the best corporate governance reports.

Those companies also had the best annual reports and best sustainable development reports. Their earnings were also the highest and their stocks are among the top 30 largest by market capitalisation and trading liquidity on the local market.

At those large-cap firms, the organisation of the board of directors and sub-units has been changed to improve the quality of corporate governance.

Vinamilk has eliminated its board of supervisors, which often stand independently from the board of directors. The company has set up a sub-unit for the board of directors, which is called the internal auditing commission.

The new unit will include independent board members, supervisors of the board of directors and the board of managers.

According to Phan Duc Hieu, deputy director of the Central Institute for Economic Management (CIEM), the Law on Enterprise allows a joint-stock firm to choose between two models of corporate governance.

The popular model applied by most companies in Viet Nam involves the shareholders’ meeting, the board of directors, CEO and the board of supervisors.

This model has proven old-fashioned and not suitable for modern development as directors in some cases take advantage of their power to manipulate the company while no one speaks against this.

A supervisory board is often established to make the corporate’s organisational structure look good without practical power as the board is often under the company's director at work, so it has no real power, Hieu said.

The other model, allowing a company to replace the supervisory board with an internal audit commission, is popular in the US and UK. The commission makes public announcements on corporate news so shareholders are aware of their rights, benefits and obligations. This model also helps minimise the chance of corporate leaders abusing their power.

Soc Trang to get $228m wind power plant

The construction of a wind power plant, worth VND5.32 trillion (US$228.3 million), began on Thursday in the Mekong Delta province of Soc Trang.

Financed by the province-based Quoc Vinh Soc Trang wind power company, the plant has designed capacity of 129 MW. It is the second wind power plant that began construction in the province this year and the fourth of its kind being developed in Vinh Chau Town.

The plant is divided into two stages. The first phase, valued at VND1.42 trillion, is expected to be completed next year while work on the second phase, worth VND3.9 trillion, will start at a later unspecified date.

Addressing the groundbreaking ceremony, provincial People’s Committee vice chairman Lam Hoang Nghiep said the plant will contribute to fostering the province’s socio-economic development while creating more local jobs.

Local authorities will create the best conditions for the investor to implement the project so that it can be put into operation as soon as possible, Nghiep said.

Earlier on Wednesday, DinTsun Viet Nam Viet Nam Co started construction of Xay Da B Industrial Cluster in the province's Chau Thanh District.

 

The 54ha cluster costs about VND1.7 trillion ($73 million). The first phase is expected to be completed in March 2021, recruiting 2,500 local labourers, according to the provincial portal.

Nghiep said Soc Trang is committed to accompanying the investor during the project implementation.

He also asked the investor to well comply with local laws while paying attention to environmental protection.

The locality has approved the development of nine clusters, spanning 410ha. One is already operational with 50 per cent of its land occupied.

Produce export by train proposed to address coronavirus fears

The northern mountainous province of Lang Son and China’s Guangxi are attempting customs clearance of farm produce at Dong Dang railway station and Pingxiang station, considered the best solution for the export of goods to China amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The Lang Son Department of Industry and Trade noted that the number of container trucks carrying goods for import and export and passing through the Huu Nghi international border gate in the province was down by 60% compared with figures prior to the coronavirus outbreak.

Nguyen Cong Truong, vice chairman of Lang Son Province, said that due to difficulties in export through the sub-border gates amid the coronavirus scare, the province had directed the competent agencies to work with the Guangxi authorities to start customs clearance of farm produce, including watermelons and dragon fruit, at the two railway stations.

The solution is expected to help control the spread of coronavirus, according to the Government news website.

Apart from this, it will help enterprises reduce transport costs and other fees compared with the cost of exports by road. Also, customs clearance of goods can be conducted more quickly this way as procedures will be handled locally, he explained.

However, Vietnam does not have any refrigerator cars to transport dragon fruit for export and must therefore use China’s refrigerator cars.

With enough of these, firms might transport their farm produce from the southern region to Lang Son Province by road and then load it onto trains for shipment to China.

A representative of Vietnam Railways Corporation stated that the coronavirus outbreak has taken a heavy toll on the corporation, forcing it to cancel 80 passenger trips while its cargo trips have been reduced in number.

Shipments of dragon fruit by train, with the quarantine process being conducted at China’s Pingxiang railway station, are expected to launch formal exports of more Vietnamese farm produce by train.

Foreign arrivals in HCMC plunge by over 50% in Feb

Last month, HCMC welcomed 346,650 international tourists, plummeting 52% over the same period last year due to the Covid-19 outbreak, according to the municipal Department of Tourism.

In the first two months of the year, foreign arrivals in the city reached nearly 1.2 million, down 21.71% over the year-ago period and meeting 13.19% of the full-year target, news site Mot The Gioi reported.

The decline in the number of international visitors sent the city’s tourism revenue last month tumbling by 29.94% year-on-year to VND8.1 trillion. The revenue in the first two months of 2020 was over VND21.1 trillion, down 10.7% and reaching 15% of the full-year target.

Amid a slowdown in the tourism sector, Deputy Director of the municipal Department of Tourism Nguyen Thi Anh Hoa stated that the department had urged the municipal government to ask the prime minister to support travel firms in the city with policies on taxes, credit, social insurance, land use fees and visas.

In the coming years, the city will continue taking steps to prevent and control the spread of Covid-19 to ensure the safety of tourists and deploy plans to reduce the impact of the disease on the city’s tourism sector.

At a recent meeting with the HCMC Department of Tourism, the municipal government asked the department to make a greater effort to achieve targets set for this year and promptly propose solutions to remove obstacles facing the sector.

The department was also assigned to propose the establishment of a council to consult on the city’s tourism development. The council will include the representatives of enterprises and the relevant agencies as well as local and international experts. In addition, programs to stimulate the development of tourism, shopping and catering services should be worked out.

HCMC urges disbursement of ODA loans for key projects

The disbursement of capital for four large-scale projects in the city has remained slow, so the HCMC government has proposed the Ministry of Planning and Investment cooperate with the Ministry of Finance to review official development assistance (ODA) loans to speed up the construction of these projects.

Among the nine projects under construction, eight are investment projects, including four major projects, while the other project is for technical support, the HCMC government office said on March 4. Most of them have fallen far behind schedule.

Metro line No. 1 linking Ben Thanh Market in District 1 and Suoi Tien Theme Park in District 9 is 62.3% complete, while a mere 3.8% of the second metro line, which connects Ben Thanh Market and Tham Luong Depot in District 12, has been completed.

The second phase of the water environment rehabilitation project in the Tau Hu-Ben Nghe-Kenh Doi-Kenh Te canal basin is 65.6% complete, while progress on the city’s second environmental sanitation project has reached 43.5%.

As the Tet holiday fell in January, construction and capital disbursement for these ODA projects were affected, Sai Gon Giai Phong news site reported.

Apart from the proposal for ODA disbursement, the municipal government also proposed continuing to mobilize ODA and preferential loans for its other large-scale infrastructure, transportation and environment projects.

These projects include the water drainage rehabilitation project for Tham Luong-Ben Cat-Nuoc Len Canal, a project to upgrade sewage systems in the west of the city and the metro line No. 3A project from Ben Thanh Market to Mien Tay Coach Station.

Deutsche Bank to support Vietnamese cross-border trade

Deutsche Bank on March 4 announced it is investing further in Vietnam to support larger trade flows from Europe, which are expected to increase following the recently ratified EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement.

Deutsche Bank’s research indicates that foreign direct investment (FDI) in Vietnam has doubled in the past five years. Vietnam is a significant trade partner for Germany, with annual trade of some EUR14 billion, and the second largest trade partner in the ASEAN.

Deutsche Bank Vietnam Chief Country Officer Hans-Dieter Holtzmann noted in a statement: “The rise in FDI can be attributed to more foreign companies investing in supply chains in Vietnam to support intra-Asian trade. With supply chains facilitating more trade, we are clearly seeing more demand for both inbound and outbound Vietnamese dong (VND) currency payments.”

As a result, the bank is investing to enhance the digital capabilities of its award-winning FX platforms to cater to the higher demand for local currency settlement. Late last year, Deutsche Bank added the restricted Vietnamese dong to its FX4Cash platform, which offers more than 130 currency pairs globally.

“More corporate clients are choosing to settle payments in local VND rather than USD to better manage the costs of currency conversion, but this also requires local currency risk management,” he added in the statement.

As more clients trade and settle in local currency, there is also a greater demand for hedging currency exposure. The development of Vietnam’s non-deliverables forward (NDF) market is providing clients with an avenue to hedge their Vietnamese dong exposure.

“This year we are seeing more liquidity in the NDF market, so we are expanding our VND deliverable and NDF capabilities on our Autobahn platform. This will allow our onshore and offshore clients to hedge their local currency exposure,” Holtzmann remarked.

In addition to introducing its enhanced FX platform, the bank is extending FX API technology to local clients who will be able to connect their own direct sales e-commerce infrastructure to the bank’s platform, while being supported with pre- and post-trade activities.

Globally, the leading German bank often sees APIs being used by clients to expand their own B2B and B2C sales offerings by introducing a wider range of currencies for online transactions. This solution gives end customers more choices around payment currencies to hedge against currency movements.

Deutsche Bank has operated in Vietnam since 1992, providing banking and financing solutions to multinationals, large local corporations and financial institutions, ranging from cash management and FX to custody and trade finance.

First five-star hotel in Quy Nhon to open next month

ANYA Premier Quy Nhon, the first five-star hotel in the central coast city of Quy Nhon, will be put into service in April.

Overlooking the city’s park, the 24-storey hotel has 256 guest rooms, from Superior to Presidential Suite.

The hotel offers on-site facilities such as all-day-dining Market 1 Restaurant, Quy Nhon Seafood Restaurant, Cabbar Bistro, Cheer Pub, rooftop Starlight Bar, infinity swimming pool, fitness center, CoCo Spa, Kid Club, and meeting rooms.

Located in the heart of Quy Nhon City and 50 meters from the beach, ANYA Premier Quy Nhon offers easy access to popular attractions in the city.

This is the second hotel developed by Kim Cuc Investment Tourism And Services Company, after the four-star ANYA Hotel Quy Nhon, which opened in October 2019.

VinFast launch 18 service workshops across the country

VinFast will launch almost 80 new service workshops within this year, raising the number to 120 shops across the country.

Yesterday, March 8, 2020, VinFast Trading and Production LLC simultaneously opened 18 service shops at Vincom centres across the country. With this, the company has deployed as many as 41 car warranty and fixing facilities over 30 cities and provinces.

According to plan, VinFast will go ahead to launch nearly 80 new service shops to reach 120 shops across the country. This will make it the car manufacturer with the most extensive network of service facilities, covering all 63 cities and provinces.

Besides the expansion, VinFast also published the price table for spare parts on its website for customers to peruse, take the initiative in repairing and replacing parts. This brand will also offer free checks and tests and present VND300,000 ($13) vouchers to the first 3,000 customers dropping by for warranty and repair in March 2020.

Vietnamese women rising to the top

Along with the efforts of the government and organisations in promoting gender equality, Vietnamese women are trying their best to consolidate their role and position in society.

BRG Group chairwoman Madame Nguyen Thi Nga last week became the first Vietnamese person to receive the Woman of Impact Award at the 2020 Women Entrepreneurship Summit, which took place in the Philippines.

The Woman of Impact Award is an annual award granted to the most exceptional businesswomen in the ASEAN region who have proven impact, recorded contributions to the economy, and illustrated innovative practices in their respective industry.

The event also provides prominent local and international female business leaders with a platform to share their inspiring stories of success, in order to help encourage other aspiring businesswomen to grasp the secrets of entrepreneurial success.

“For me, being a female entrepreneur is a great honour. I am not only a woman of my own family but also a person who has acquired the ability to foster inspiration inside a larger business family consisting of 22,000 committed staff at BRG Group,” explained Nga to attendees at the event.

Demonstrating the message of “making the impossible possible” through her story of constructing the Sheraton Grand Danang Resort in record time to serve the APEC 2017 gala dinner for 21 world leaders and 600 VIP guests, Nga hoped to prove that female entrepreneurs in the ASEAN possess the know-how that can build understanding, achieve success, and overcome difficulties in order to expand businesses and contribute to a country’s socio-economic wellbeing.

With great achievements in business, Nga has previously been named among the top 50 most powerful Asian women by Forbes.

Along with Nga, many other businesswomen are contributing to the development of economy and society in Vietnam.

On the Forbes Vietnam Under-30 list for 2020 is Nguyen Thi Thu Ha. The 25-year-old managing director of MindX takes care of a huge coworking space of 5,000 square metres for five facilities in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, serving over 9,000 people. “I always dream of a little Silicon Valley in Vietnam and want to build an eco-system of schools training Industry 4.0 skills,” Ha said.

In 2015, Ha became the Google student ambassador in Vietnam and had a chance to travel to almost all Southeast Asian countries. “These trips showed me that technology can change our lives,” she said.

Returning to Vietnam, Ha decided to realise her dream, offering evening tech classes for children on robotics, programming, and graphic design, which have attracted many young learners.

When her tech classes began to gain traction, Ha realised that it would be very wasteful not to use the space during the day, so she asked some friends to join her project and create a coworking space with an investment of $500,000 from ESP Capital.

“Many women think of a stable and safe job and limit themselves at some level. I think that there is no limit preventing people from pursuing their dreams,” Ha said.

According to the latest international Grant Thornton study, in 2019, the rate of female business leaders was relatively high. In which, Vietnam ranked second in Asia with 36 per cent, only after the Philippines at 37.5 per cent. The proportion of female-owned enterprises also increased from 4 per cent in 2009 to 27.8 per cent in 2017, the highest in the Southeast Asia.

On the occasion of the International Women’s Day, VIR is proud to introduce some outstanding ladies who are contributing to the development of the country.

Vincom Retail reserves $13 million support for tenants hit by COVID-19

Vincom Retail JSC, the retail arm of Vingroup, on March 5 announced reserving VND300 billion ($13 million) to support tenants in its 79 retail centres nationwide who are impacted by COVID-19.

The majority of the will be used to subsidise rental charge for tenants and offer discounts and vouchers for customers who visit Vincom retail centres.

Tourism cities such as Nha Trang, Danang, and Halong will hve priority access to this sum, followed by Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and others.

Vincom also co-ordinated with tenants to held promotion programmes. Especially, many incentives will be launched for visitors such as free parking or discount rides for visitors to travel by ride-hailing cabs.

According to Tran Mai Hoa, general director of Vincom Retail, Vincom always accompanies partners and customers, especially in the time that the whole economy is facing many difficulties caused by COVID-19.

“This VND300 billion ($13 million) stimulation package will not help our partners reduce expenses only but focus their resources to build-up attractive programmes to woo customers and return to normalcy,” Hoa said.

In order to provide a comfortable and safe shopping environment for customers, Vincom continues to strengthen preventive measures by monitoring body temperature in shopping centres, sanitising public areas every two hours, requiring security guards and staff to wear gloves and masks and control the elevators for guests. These are proactive measures that Vincom has pioneered to implement right from the first days of the COVID-19 epidemic.

Vincom retail system is present in 43 cities and provinces with a total of more than 1.6 million square metres of retail floor. It has more than 1,000 famous international and domestic brands as partners in all sectors, from fashion, cosmetics, accessories, and interior furniture to entertainment services and facilities and gastronomy. Vincom’s retail centres have become a pilot destinations for new shopping and entertaining experiences for the whole community.

Heeding the implications of force majeure in Vietnam

Much of the globe has been rocked by the novel coronavirus epidemic, which is affecting trade and investment flows. Nguyen Trung Nam, founder and senior partner of legal consultancy firm EPLegal, provides analysis on how the epidemic will impact trade in Vietnam.

The recent outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease COVID-19, which was declared an epidemic in Vietnam by the prime minister on February 1, has had a considerable impact on public life and business operations in many regions over the world, including in this country.

Many enterprises, especially those dealing with cross-border trade of goods and services, now face the question whether they or their trade partners are contractually liable for any failure to perform their obligations due to the adverse impact of the current outbreak, and how to get out of trouble. This article serves as an analysis of the situation as a potential force majeure (FM) event in the context of international transactions, and provides useful tips for affected enterprises.

The exposure of COVID-19 may have an impact on many commercial transactions and trader performance of their obligations. Manufacturing of goods may be delayed if the factory operates in the areas quarantined; shipments may be cancelled or delayed due to import/export restrictions imposed by governments; and service contracts are affected by the fact that the personnel involved are restricted from travelling for work, or more seriously, they are caught by the virus and get quarantined.

One of the latest cases identified in Singapore involved a person who had served on board a cargo vessel. The vessel was thereafter isolated at anchorage and went through the process of disinfection. This may affect the delivery duration of the goods on that ship.

Under Vietnamese law, the term “FM event” is defined in Article 156.1 of the Civil Code 2015 as an event which (1) objectively occurs, (2) is unforeseeable, and (3) cannot be remedied although all permissible and necessary measures have been taken.

A party’s failure to perform one or more of its obligations due to a FM event may escape liability to the breached party and in certain case where the FM event prolongs and the obligation is a fundamental one, it may even void the contract on the grounds of the FM, without being liable for any loss and damages of the party in harm. The burden of proof for the FM event is on the party who wishes to rely on the FM to avoid its liability.

Given the nature of the epidemic, it may well satisfy the two conditions that it objectively occurred, and it is unforeseeable. However, the third condition above (efforts have been made to remedy the situation but failed) is not always easily proved, and must be considered in the context of each circumstance.

There are common mistakes when businesses rely on the FM events to avoid liability. Firstly, everyone is aware about the outbreak, and competent authorities have been implementing measures to limit, control, and eliminate the disease. Therefore, the parties entering into contracts after the outbreak of this epidemic have foreseen its potential impact on their capability to perform their obligations, and need preventive measures to overcome it.

Secondly, the impediment must not stem from a violation of the law of that party. Many contracts also mention this condition in the definition of FM. One party cannot violate the law and then take its consequences as a reason for FM.

Thirdly, the affected party must comply with the provisions of the agreed contract, if any. For example, notice must be given within a reasonable time, or the time limit specified by the parties, to inform the other party that the FM event related to COVID-19 has occurred and obstructed the first party to perform the contract.

Vietnam is also a member of the Vienna Convention on the Contracts for the International Sales of Goods (CISG), which shall apply in the sale of goods contracts between businesses from member countries, or if the parties choose Vietnamese law as the applicable law. The CISG has never used the term “FM” – instead it describes in Article 79.1 that “A party is not liable for a failure to perform any of his obligations if he proves that the failure was due to an impediment beyond his control and that he could not reasonably be expected to have taken the impediment into account at the time of the conclusion of the contract or to have avoided or overcome it or its consequences”.

In practice this is a very high threshold, meaning only those impediments making the performance of obligations impossible will satisfy the test, other circumstances which only make the performance difficult or impractical would not set the affected party free from liability.

In the context of COVID-19, a party would not be able to claim an FM event to avoid performance if, say, a port is closed due to the quarantine, but the goods could still be delivered through other ports though with additional costs.

In the face of the contract performance obstacles caused by the COVID-19 outbreak, enterprises should immediately take measures.

First, assess the impact on contract performance, and determine whether the provisions in terms of FM are applicable and whether it is proper to propose suspension, termination, or amendment to the contract.

Next, they should inform the other party of the event and request acknowledgement of the same. Third, enterprises should take immediate and effective measures to mitigate losses. They must also be aware of the other party’s rights if FM is invoked, which may include the right to terminate the contract after a certain period of time, then sell goods to other buyers, or in the case of the buyer, source goods from alternate suppliers.

Finally, enterprises should take into account the continuation of the present outbreak and its impact on any committed obligations, and make express provisions to avoid liability in relation to the same.

 
 

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