BUSINESS NEWS HEADLINES MAY 17

Signs of recovery for businesses who weather COVID-19 storm

BUSINESS NEWS HEADLINES MAY 17



Despite many of the country's enterprises facing plenty of difficulties caused by the impact of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic, numerous firms have begun to step up production and implement fresh business strategies suitable for the new situation.

Throughout the COVID-19 epidemic, Vietnamese enterprises were faced with numerous hurdles, such as a shortage of input materials along with a sharp decrease in terms of the output market for the consumption of goods and exports. 

Plenty of businesses, especially small and medium enterprises (SMEs), were forced to suspend operations, narrow their production scale, and delay trade and investment promotion activities. These moves served to negatively affect business activities over the subsequent weeks.

During a recent videoconference held between the Prime Minster and local firms, several representatives proposed that the Government strive to swiftly implement a range of practical solutions in a bid to help businesses overcome difficulties in a timely manner. In addition, business production should be restored as a way of boosting economic development now that the COVID-19 pandemic has been brought under control.

Truong Dinh Hoe, General Secretary of the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), said the epidemic has had an enormous impact on the nation’s seafood production and exports, with the supply chain of both raw materials and finished products suffering major disruption. This has led to issues relating to a shortage of cash flow and products which has caused great difficulties for enterprises.

Despite these challenges, Hoe expects the seafood export industry to overcome issues caused by the COVID-19 quickly and enjoy a full recovery, striving to reach the goal of this year's export turnover being as high as the levels recorded in 2019.

According to Le Tien Truong, general director of the Vietnam Textile and Garment Group (Vinatex), the COVID-19 epidemic saw the textile and apparel industry suffer a decline of approximately 50%, with the overall negative impact on the market being negated as a result of the Government’s great efforts to contain the disease occurring alongside the creativity of businesses.

“The production and business situation of the textile and apparel industry remains very difficult, although corporations have stepped up efforts to reduce losses, it has failed to maintain the efficiency achieved in 2019. The production and business efficiency seen in 2020 is estimated to drop about 50%, while revenue and export turnover also fell by 25%,” Truong said.

In order to accelerate measures as a means of supporting local enterprises, the Vinatex leader suggested commercial banks should implement a flexible assessment method for firms by allowing them to extend investment debts. For unfinished projects whose parameters may change or have deteriorated due to the epidemic, banks should maintain disbursement on schedule, he noted.

As a way of helping businesses be well prepared to deal with post-epidemic difficulties and take full advantage of the Europe-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement when it comes into force, Truong has proposed that relevant ministries and sectors swiftly provide firms with guidelines and circulars in order for enterprises to make the most of the “golden” benefits brought about by the trade deal.

According to Duong Quang Thanh, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Vietnam Electricity (EVN), despite being hit by the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic, EVN has moved to reduce electricity prices for affected customers. Most notably, April saw EVN implement social distancing measures in line with Government policy while ensuring a sustained supply of electricity nationwide.

With the easing of restrictions on social distancing measures, production and business activities have gradually been restored, leading to a surge in demand for electricity. Indeed, the daily average electricity production for the entire system during the first week of May surged by 15% in comparison to the previous month.

“EVN has devised a scheme in a bid to ensure the power supply in the coming months, with electricity demand in accordance with the set plan from the beginning of the year. We are committed to ensuring there is sufficient electricity for production activities while expanding the scale to take into account the balance between electricity supply and demand in the 2021 to 2025 period,” he said.

As a means of ensuring that the national electricity supply contributes to production recovery and economic growth in the period following the COVID-19, EVN suggests that the Government direct provincial and municipal People's Committees to co-ordinate efforts with power units in order to enhance communication and supervise the implementation of electricity saving.

According to Tran Ba Duong, Chairman of Truong Hai Automobile Joint Stock Company (THACO), the State should be responsible for supporting businesses who have suffered from the crisis and give priority to firms in need, particularly SMEs and startups.

With businesses undergoing various levels of profits and losses during the epidemic, the THACO representative proposed that the Government devises an overall solution aimed at pushing forward economic recovery. This can be done through harmonious intervention methods to resolve current difficulties while encouraging the spirit of innovation for a common goal of creating a transparent, fair, and suitable business environment for the market economy.

Industrial park developers immune to COVID-19

Industrial park infrastructure development companies continue to do well amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and the industrial property sector is expected to thrive since Vietnam is considered among the most attractive investment destinations post-pandemic.

Sonadezi Corporation, whose main businesses include industrial park infrastructure development and leasing, reported net revenues of 1.078 trillion VND (46.5 million USD) and net profit after tax of nearly 271 billion VND (11.7 million USD) in the first quarter of the year, a year-on-year increase of 11 percent and 51 percent.

Industrial park leasing accounted for the largest proportion of revenues – of over 27 percent -- with 293 billion VND (12.6 million USD), a year-on-year increase of 66 percent.

Long Hau Corporation, which owns Long Hau Industrial Park in Long An, also reported an increase in both revenues and profits in the first quarter.

Net revenue was 206.4 billion VND (8.9 million USD), up 19.7 percent year-on-year, and gross profit was more than 93.6 billion VND (4.02 million USD), up 20.6 percent.

Revenues from infrastructure rent grew by 21 percent to nearly 159 billion VND, or 77 percent of total revenues, while those from leasing factories and accommodation increased by over 22 percent to nearly 28 billion VND.

Profit after tax was 63.1 billion VND (2.7 million USD), an increase of more than 15 percent year-on-year.

According to real estate consultancy Jones Lang LaSalle, though the pandemic could cause a delay in decisions following lease negotiations, the fundamentals of the market remain strong and would recover after the epidemic subsides.

It said companies looking to diversify their manufacturing portfolio outside China are attracted to Vietnam thanks to its proximity to the former.

"Industrial park developers remain confident that demand for land will continue to grow and therefore land prices are expected to increase in line with the long-term potential of Vietnam’s industrial segment," Stephen Wyatt, country head of JLL Vietnam, said.

Vietnam's industrial land prices rose by 12 percent year-on-year in Q1 as the shift out of China by manufacturing facilities continued.

They rose by 6.5 percent in the north to 99 USD per square metre and by 12.2 percent in the south to 101 USD.

Ready-built factories costing 3.5-5 USD per square meter per month are favoured by businesses as indicated by the high occupancy rates, according to the report./.

Vietnam implements economic recovery policies during, after COVID-19 pandemic

The Vietnamese Government has, and is implementing concerted policies and measures for economic recovery during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang.

At the Foreign Ministry’s regular press conference on May 14, the spokesperson said Vietnam has basically controlled and driven back the COVID-19 epidemic thanks to drastic and effective prevention measures, which laid an important foundation to consolidate the trust of the business community and domestic and foreign investors.

Besides epidemic control work, the Government has consistently pursued the policy of promoting socioeconomic development in order to strengthen the economy’s foundation and its resilience, Hang said.

She elaborated that under this policy, the Government has worked to ensure supply chains and the trade of goods and services in the country as well as with other countries, while pushing ahead with effort to improve the business and investment environment, cut procedures and costs for enterprises, develop infrastructure and logistics, and actively implement free trade agreements with partners.

The Government has also provided support to enterprises and investors in tackling difficulties caused by the COVID-19 epidemic so as to continue implementing their investment projects in Vietnam, including allowing experts and skilled workers to enter Vietnam while ensuring epidemic prevention, the spokeswoman said./.

Vietsovpetro launches wellhead platform’s base at Bach Ho field

The Vietnam-Russia oil and gas joint venture (Vietsovpetro) has successfully launched the base of the BK-21 oil rig at Bach Ho field.

The base was completed and put into operation 16 days ahead of schedule.

BK-21 rig is an uninhabited wellhead platform located near the MSP6 and MSP7 fixed platforms. Products exploited from BK21 will be transported to MSP6 by underground pipeline.

The base structure of BK 21 was designed with a docking station, a temporary drilling platform, pipelines, and superstructure blocks.

Manufacturing, installing, commissioning, and putting the BK-21 platform into operation is an important milestone in increasing oil and gas production and ensuring the completion of Vietsovpetro’s production plan in 2020./.

EVN SPC invests in solar power plant on Con Dao

The Southern Power Corporation (EVN SPC) will start building a solar power plant in July to turn Con Dao Island into "a high-quality tourist and economic zone". 

At a total cost of over VND91 billion (US$3.9 million), the plant in the Dat Doc Beach area is expected to provide a total capacity of more than 3,700MWp.

According to the firm, the plant will help reduce the load on the existing diesel generator system during the day and support stable power provision for the island’s households and businesses.

It will also create a driving force for the development of the marine economy and tourism activities to ensure sustainable development and protection of the marine environment.

The EVN SPC’s project that spans ​more than 43,500sq.m in Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province is expected to be completed in December.

Con Dao has already developed some solar power projects, including one funded by the Spanish government, which has a capacity of 36kWp.

Most recently, the island completed and put into operation a solar power system with the capacity of 100kWp on the roof of Con Dao Power’s building.

Doan Van Tranh, director of Con Dao Power Company, said: “The initial investment for solar is high, but still much lower than using electricity from diesel generators. Specifically, if using a generator, the production cost is VND6,500 per kWh, while the cost of solar power is only VND4,500 per kWh.”

Tranh added: “The price for solar energy is expected to decrease due to the lower prices of solar panels.”

Tranh said: “Not only saving investment costs, solar power will protect the environment and takes advantage of the sunny conditions on the island.”

South Korean group proposes $150 million technopark in Dong Nai

Vietnam-Korea Techno Park has proposed investing $150 million in a technopark in Dong Nai to lure in $2-3 billion of high-tech investment in about six-nine years of operation.

Vietnam-Korea Techno Park proposed to the Dong Nai provincial government to build a 300-hectare industrial park. The project will be developed in three stages with $150 million in total investment and is expected to lure $2-3 billion of investment within six-nine years of operation.

This is the first technopark to be built by Vietnamese-Korean co-operation in the country. The park will focus on innovation activities and the commercialisation of high-tech products, including research and development, high-quality human resources training, innovation, manufacturing, and entertainment.

This project will likely attract many high-tech companies from South Korea and developed countries to Dong Nai, bringing with them the winds of Industry 4.0. The developer also asked the provincial government to allocate land for the project not too far from Long Thanh airport and seaports to be able to utilise transport facilities and lure in big corporations.

Apart from Vietnam-Korea Techno Park, Amata City Long Thanh Industrial Park is also under development in Dong Nai by Thailand's Amata Group. This project is in the process of land clearance on an area of 400ha with $280 million in total investment.

Aviation’s recovery to drive other economic sectors

With the coronavirus essentially contained in Vietnam, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has underlined the restoration of business activities as the top priority in reviving the economy. In this context, the aviation industry acts a launchpad for other sectors such as tourism, investment and trade.
Centre of value chain

As the national carrier, Vietnam Airlines (VNA) has operated nearly 20 special flights to repatriate Vietnamese citizens from countries affected by the coronavirus outbreak. The carrier also transported nearly 26,000 tonnes of goods, including medical supplies, electronic components, automobile parts, garments, footwear and seafood, from late February to late April so as to lend a helping hand in the joint efforts to contain the outbreak and maintain economic connections.

According to the International Aviation Transport Association (IATA), the aviation sector urgently needs government support because of its central position in the value chain, which would help it to lead the post-outbreak recovery by connecting various sectors of the economy. The organisation estimates that each job in the aviation industry supports up to 24 other jobs in the value chain of the travel and tourism industry.

Prior to the outbreak, VNA cooperated with tourism authorities to promote the culture and people of Vietnam abroad, helping to draw more and more foreign visitors to the country. It is estimated that 80% of international arrivals to Vietnam come by air. During the 2008-2018 period, more than one third of international visitors to Vietnam used VNA services.

Aware of its role in recovering the health of the tourism industry, and the economy in general, VNA has worked with tourism authorities to establish a set of criteria for safe travel and researched post-outbreak scenarios to create product packages and prepare resources to meet consumer and business demand.

As soon as the government eased social distancing measures, VNA launched three promotional programmes and discussed with its partners about overcoming the crisis together to make a rapid and effective recovery.

No delay

VNA Deputy General Director Le Hong Ha said that with 70% of its passengers being tourists, the carrier has identified a tight-knit connection between aviation and tourism, especially during this difficult time. In the future, VNA will increase the capacity of its domestic routes to prepare for the recovery of the aviation market in Vietnam.

The IATA has forecast that passengers in the Vietnamese aviation market will plunge by up to 45%, equivalent to 32 million, while revenue will plummet by US$4.35 billion, with nearly one million related jobs affected by the outbreak.

Following the restoration of domestic routes, VNA is planning for the resumption of international flights when the pandemic is better curbed so as to create attractive products, boost tourism demand and revive the Vietnamese aviation industry more quickly.

As international passenger flights remain suspended, VNA is keeping itself abreast of the latest coronavirus developments in other countries and devising proactive recovery plans so that its resumption will not be delayed in comparison with its competitors.

First 30 tonnes of Yen Chau mango exported to China

The first batch of 30 tonnes of Yen Chau mango planted in Yen Chau district, in the northern province of Son La, was shipped to China through official channels on May 11.

The district has 2,700 ha dedicated to mango production, including 170 ha that have been granted area codes to export mango to foreign markets and nearly 130 ha meeting VietGAP standards.

Director of Chieng Hac Agricultural Cooperative Ha Van Son said that his cooperative was delighted to ship the first batch of Yen Chau mango to China and the fruit was appreciated by the partner.

Son noted that his cooperative has always paid great attention to the quality of the fruit and the quality of this shipment was recognised by the Chinese partner.

This year, it is estimated that nearly 13,000 tonnes of Yen Chau mango will be harvested from an area of 900 ha, including over 3,200 tonnes meeting standards for export.

Trinh Van Thang, director of Thien Anh company based in Lao Cai province said that this is the first year that his company went to Yen Chau to buy mango and saw that the local fruit met high requirements in terms of quality.

Thang noted that the company has order 1,000 tonnes of Yen Chau mango to ship to supermarkets in China.

New lifebuoy for supporting enterprises and economy

The government will use its power to enact newpreferential policies to beef up private investment attraction and public investment disbursement as sturdy measures to support enterprises and help the country hit a new economic growth target.Prim

e Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc last week stated that great efforts must be made to reboot the economy with a new momentum, in a bid to reach an economic growth rate of more than 5% in 2020. 

“To this end, we must beef up five key breakthroughs, including attracting foreign direct investment, boosting exports, increasing public investment, securing private investment, and expanding local consumption,” PM Phuc stressed. 

The serious consequences of the ongoing COVID-19 global pandemic have prompted the government to forecast a new growth rate, instead of the 6.8-7% rateinitially planned by the National Assembly. In the first quarter of 2020, the economy grew only 3.82% year-on-year. 

In order to facilitate private investment, it is expected that within the week, PM Phuc will sign and enact new incentives for investors and enterprises under aresolution of the government on tasks and solutions for eradicating difficulties for production and business in Vietnam. 

Under the existing draft resolution, the government will use its power to exempt all license taxes for household businesses affected by COVID-19. If these businesses have already paid this tax in 2020, they will be exempted next year. 

A 50% reduction for registration fees will be applied to automobiles assembled or produced locally in 2020, so as to stimulate local consumption. 

A delay in VAT payments until December 31, 2020 will be applied to materials, goods, and services in the sectors of aviation, garment and textiles, footwear, and beverages. Moreover, a six-month reduction of 30% for land leases will be given to production and business establishments negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

There will also be an extension for export tax paymentsand personal income tax until December 31, 2020 for those tax amounts arising in March 2020. 

Furthermore, special immigration procedures will be given to foreign experts, managers, and technicians working at business and investment projects in Vietnam, so that these projects can proceed smoothly. No discrimination against foreigners working and living in Vietnam is allowed, according to the draft resolution. 

Besides these solutions, the government will also, amongst several other proposals, propose the National Assembly reduce 50% of corporate income tax for small- and medium-sized enterprises and co-operatives within 2020. 

PM Phuc also underscored public investment as a new momentum for boosting economic growth. 

“It is very important that all public investment capital for 2020 is disbursed as soon as possible,” he noted. 

According to the Ministry of Finance, total available public investment capital for this year is about VND700 trillion ($30.4 billion), which is 2.2 times higher than the VND312 trillion ($13.56 billion) figure of last year. 

In the first four months of this year, about VND89.3 trillion ($3.9 billion) was disbursed, equal to nearly 19% of the initial plan assigned by the prime minister, up 30% year-on-year and also up 25% against the sum disbursed in the first quarter of the year. 

The government has also just agreed on a plan to shift eight expressway projects into public investment, from their initially-proposed format of public-private partnerships. The plan will be submitted to the NA this summer for approval. After getting the green light from the legislature, these projects will begin construction this year. 

These eight projects, which are parts of the the Eastern Cluster of the North-South Expressway project, include Mai Son-National Highway No.45 (63 km), National Highway No.45-Nghi Son (43km), Nghi Son-Dien Chau (50km), Dien Chau-Bai Vot (50km), Nha Trang-Cam Lam (29km), Cam Lam-Vinh Hao (91), Vinh Hao-Phan Thiet (106km), and Phan Thiet-Dau Giay (98km). 

For example, at present, the first stage of the Phan Thiet-Dau Giay section running through the south-central province of Binh Thuan and the southern province of Dong Nai has cost over VND14.36 trillion ($624.35 million). It has been assigned to be invested under the build-operate-transfer format, one of the relevant investment PPP models. Of the capital, state-funded capital is VND2.48 trillion ($107.8 million) under the prime minister’s approval. The project is expected to be constructed within 36 months. Some contractors involved include Castalia Limited New Zealand, Ernst & Young Solutions LLP (Singapore) and PricewaterhouseCoopers Private Limited (India). 

Ho Chi Minh City reported that in the first quarter of 2020, it disbursed nearly VND1.6 trillion ($69.5 million), up over 60% year-on-year. This year, the city needs to disburse VND33.94 trillion ($1.47 billion). 

Hanoi also reported that in 2020, it will assign VND37-40 trillion ($1.6-1.74 billion) for public investment. If all the money is disbursed on time, the city will have hundreds of new infrastructure projects. This will help facilitate better performance of enterprises and create more employment. 

According to the General Statistics Office (GSO), the boosted disbursement of public investment will fueleconomic growth. 

Under the GSO’s calculations, if public investment climbs by 1%, it will help attract more private investment capital by up to 0.92%, and will facilitate an increase in GDP of an additional 0.06 percentage points. 

The World Bank also calculated that if Vietnam increases public investment disbursement by 10%, it will help raise the ratio of public investment relative toGDP by another 1.5%. This will help significantly compensate for GDP losses caused by this year’s difficulties.

 

 According to government Resolution 30 released in March, in the near future,, the government will invest inmany types of infrastructural projects, in conjunctionwith private investment. 

The projects include expressways of 4,000-4,500km connecting major economic hubs nationwide, seaports in the north, central and southern regions, as well as railways, waterways, and airports. Total investment capital may amount to many billions of US dollars. 

According to a fresh survey of over 12,600 enterprises nationwide by the MPI, 85.7% of respondents have been hit by COVID-19, with different sectors suffering different levels of hardship including industry-construction (86.1%), service (85.9%), and agro-forestry-fishery (78.7%). 

PM Phuc has assigned the Ministry of Planning and Investment to thoroughly study the second-quarter and first-six month economic situation and then devise different schemes on revising national socio-economic goals for 2020. The schemes must be reported to the government and the prime minister by the end of June2020.

Thailand to use blockchain to facilitate palm oil trade

Thailand’s Energy Ministry has ordered the Energy Business Department to discuss with domestic oil traders the prospect of using blockchain to facilitate palm oil trade.

A blockchain system is expected to cut out the middleman between palm planters and palm oil mills, in theory allowing planters to sell the commodity at higher prices.

Energy Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong said the ministry expects to implement a blockchain system in June as a relief measure for planters struggling with low, unstable palm prices.

"The government is trying to control domestic palm oil prices and raised the content of blended biofuel gasoline to 10 percent [B10] and 20 percent [B20] in April 2019 to absorb the surplus volume of crude palm oil [CPO] and keep the price of fresh palm nuts above three baht per kilogramme," the Bangkok Post quoted Minister Sontirat as saying.

The ministry expects the country to produce 2.2 million tonnes of CPO this year.

It plans to mandate B10 as a primary diesel, replacing B7 in 2020, while B20 is planned as an alternative diesel with subsidised prices.

Previously, the ministry ordered the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) to use CPO for power generation at the Bang Pakong power plant in Chachoengsao province.

Both measures have increased the price of fresh palm nuts to 3.20 baht per kg since mid-June 2019, from 1.80 baht in April last year.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic affected consumption of palm oil for cooking and biofuel, especially B100 in April, decreasing by 400,000-500,000 litres per day from March./.

Local foundation to assist startups in Australia

The Startup Vietnam Foundation Australia (SVFA) was put into operation in early May, offering a startup and innovation ecosystem for Vietnamese students and entrepreneurs in Australia.

The SVFA’s mission is to connect Vietnam’s startup community with international resources and, to that end, will soon carry out programmes supporting startups and helping them increase their capacity.

SVFA Managing Director Do Bach said the organisation will not only connect Vietnamese businesses with Australian partners but also bring Australian businesses to Vietnam and the entire Southeast Asian region.

In the second half of this year, it will better its organisational structure and implement support programmes, he added.

The SVFA established with sponsorship from the Startup Vietnam Foundation (SVF) and will inherit all missions and targets of the SVF in Australia.

Founded in 2014, the SVF is the first socialized, non-profit foundation supporting Vietnam’s startup and innovation ecosystem. Its mission is to impact economic growth via the use of two tools: innovation and entrepreneurship.

The foundation has provided support for 261 startups since its inception, connected startups with 131 investors and 30 investment funds, called for capital for 37 projects, and formed a network of 360 foreign startup consultants./.

Saigon Autotech & Accessories Show postponed till December

The 17th edition of the Saigon International Autotech & Accessories Show (Saigon Autotech & Accessories) will be postponed until the end of this year due to impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Specifically, the event will be organised from December 9-12, instead of May 21-24 as planned.

It will be jointly held at the Saigon Exhibition and Convention Centre by the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Department of Industry, the Asia Trade Fair and Business Promotion JSC (ATFA) and the K-Wellness association of the Republic of Korea.

ATFA representative Ninh Minh Uyen said the upcoming event will feature more than 500 booths on 15,000 sq.m. of ground. It is expected to see a rise of 15 – 20 percent in the number of foreign participating businesses and attract 15,000 visitors.

The show will keep up with the common trend of the global auto industry, which has been applying artificial intelligence (AI), robotics technology and big data to every stage of the production process in recent years.

It will also zone more space for supporting industries like the manufacturing of plastic, rubber and steel components and spare parts to help domestic firms seek partners to improve their production capacity and expand market.

Notably, a sub-exhibition named Smart E-mobility World will be held as part of the show. It will display electric and smart vehicles, components and spare parts for these vehicles, battery technology, along with unmanned devices from developed countries.

Aside from thematic business-to-business events, workshops or business forums, Saigon Autotech & Accessories 2020 will also include many new activities like vehicle repair and maintenance contests, according to organisers./.

Over 1.89bn USD raised through G-bond auctions this year

The State Treasury has raised over 43.5 trillion VND (1.89 billion USD) from Government bonds auctioned at the Hanoi Stock Exchange since the beginning of this year.

At the latest auction, held this week, the State Treasury offered ten- and five-year bonds, each worth 2 trillion VND, and bonds with a maturity of five to seven years, each valued at 500 billion VND.

Over 4.39 billion VND worth was sold.

Up 2 trillion VND worth of ten-year bonds were sold at an annual interest rate of 2.75 percent, or 0.12 percent higher than at the previous auction.

Meanwhile, 2 trillion VND was raised from 15-year bonds at 2.93 percent per annum, the same as at the previous auction. An additional 395 billion VND was also collected at a sub-auction of 15-year bonds.

The five- and seven-year bonds failed to attract any bidders./.

After-tax profits of HNX-listed firms down 10.3 percent in Q1

The after-tax profits of listed companies on the Hanoi Stock Exchange (HNX) reached nearly 4.2 trillion VND (179 million USD) in the first quarter of this year, down 10.3 percent from a year earlier, according to the HNX.

According to the northern bourse, 341 out of the total 359 HNX-listed firms have released their business performance results in the first three months of the year.

Among those, 261 made profits with a total profit value of nearly 4.68 trillion VND, a year-on-year decrease of 6.1 percent, while 80 others reported losses worth of 480.5 billion VND, up 59.9 percent year on year.

On a sector basis, four out of 11 sectors saw after-tax profit growth, including the industry; healthcare; mining, oil and gas; and information and telecommunications.

Sectors with the largest contraction in after-tax profits during the period were construction which saw its profit slashing by 234.9 billion VND, down 59 percent; and real estate with the total profit declining by 143.6 billion VND, down 53.5 percent.

The business information and catering services suffered a loss of 4.8 billion VND in the first three months. The sector recorded an after-tax profit of 74.9 billion VND in the same period last year.

The sector has been severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and the government’s Decree No.100/2019/ND-CP which gives strict fines to those caught drunk driving./

Thailand, Indonesia push to revive pandemic-hit tourism industry

Thailand’s Tourism and Sports Ministry is aiming high for 100 million domestic trips this year as the international travel market will not be likely to return to normal soon because of the COVID-19.

Meanwhile, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has revised down the pre-pandemic target of 172 million trips for domestic tourism to 80 million trips in 2020.

The new domestic target is reachable because local travel is likely to resume first, particularly for government meetings and incentives, said TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn.

Last year, 13 million outbound trips were made and many of these travellers cannot take any trips abroad this year, a segment the TAT expects will redirect into domestic travel.

There are signs from travel agencies that Thais are starting to book local rooms for holidays, he said, adding that the TAT is pinning hopes on domestic consumption and maintain the overall goal of 1.23 trillion baht (38.33 billion USD) revenue this year.

Tourism has been the driving force for Thailand’s growth in recent years. Before the COVID-19 outbreak, the country expected that revenues from the “smokeless” industry would make up at least 20 percent of its GDP this year. However, tourism was the first sector hard hit by the pandemic.

Data from the Tourism and Sports Ministry reveals that the number of domestic trips plunged 29.5 percent in the first quarter of 2020 to 24.1 million while revenue from local travel shrank 33.7 percent to 180 billion baht.

Thailand reported one new COVID-19 infection on May 14, taking the total count to 3,018, including 2,850 recoveries and 56 deaths.

In Indonesia, the government is set to provide a 25 trillion rupiah (1.68 billion USD) stimulus package that includes airfare and hotel discounts to speed up the recovery of the travel industry after the pandemic subsides.

Tourism is one of the hardest-hit sectors by the current health crisis, with no fewer than 1.4 million workers within the sector having been laid off.

Finance Ministry’s Fiscal Policy Agency head Febrio Kacaribu said on May 13 that the stimulus package, which aims to boost consumption among the middle class, would be effective by the third quarter when COVID-19 restrictions are expected to be relaxed./.

Indonesia prepares 1.68 billion USD tourism stimulus package for Q3

The Indonesia government will issue a stimulus package worth 25 trillion Rp (1.68 billion USD) to recover the local tourism industry after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Head of the ministry's Fiscal Policy Department (BKF) Febrio Nathan Kacaribu said at an online press briefing on May 13 that tourism was one of the sectors hardest hit by the medical crisis, with no less than 1.4 million workers forced to take leave or sacked.

The stimulus will be disbursed once Indonesia resumes its economic movements, he said.

"By quarter three, people will anticipate traveling, as they have been quite bored at home. That's why, we will prepare a stimulus for tourism, restaurants, transportation. Hopefully, there would be more in the fourth quarter," he said.

Among the stimuli are discounted airline tickets to certain travel destinations, as well as tax incentives for hotels and restaurants.

Febrio said the package is an attempt by the government to increase the consumption rate of the middle class.

Febrio said that the COVID-19 pandemic has suspended the life of the tourism sector, causing consumption growth in the first quarter to decelerate to just 2.8 percent. It is expected that consumption will decline further in the second quarter as the government implements large-scale social restrictions in a number of major cities.

The number of international tourist arrivals to Indonesia in March plunged by 64.1 percent compared to the same period last year, to 470,898, the lowest level in a decade./.

Vietnam’s largest waste-to-fertiliser plant commissioned in Binh Duong

A plant processing daily waste into bio-fertiliser, said to be the biggest of its kind in Vietnam and even Southeast Asia at present, was put into operation in the southern province of Binh Duong on May 14.

The plant, with a capacity of 840 tonnes per day, was the third of the kind operated by the Binh Duong Supply Sewerage Environment Company (Biwase). The three plants have a combined capacity of 1,680 tonnes per day.

Biwase has become the biggest manufacturer of bio-fertiliser in Vietnam. Its fertilizer branded Con Voi Binh Duong has been used widely by rice and fruit farmers in the Mekong Delta, the southeastern and south-central regions./.

Laos allows entry of many foreign workers

Laos has allowed the entry of many foreign workers as the country has gone without any new case of COVID-19 for 32 consecutive days as of May 14, the Lao Health Ministry said.

As of May 14 afternoon, the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Laos remained at 19, with 14 recoveries.

According to the ministry, 16 Vietnamese workers were allowed to enter the country through the Nam Soy international border gate on May 13 to continue with their work at the construction site of Houaphanh hospital. The hospital is being built with non-refundable aid of the Vietnamese Government. After their entry, the workers have been tested and quarantined.   

In recent days, Laos has also permitted many Chinese and Thai workers employed in key projects to enter the country to continue with their work.

Bac Giang ranks ninth in FDI attraction

The northern province of Bac Giang ranked ninth among localities nationwide in attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) in the first months of this year.

According to Deputy Director of the provincial Department of Planning and Investment Nguyen Cuong, Bac Giang approved investment intention and licensed 13 FDI projects with total capital of nearly 229 million USD.

In addition, 12 existing FDI projects raised their investment capital by a combined more than 209 million USD.

The total volume of FDI inflow so far this year was equivalent to 94.8 percent of the figure in the same period last year.

The new projects included, the province is home to 464 FDI projects with total capital of over 6.12 billion USD.

Apart from foreign investment, Bac Giang also attracted 34 domestic projects worth more than 3.5 trillion VND (149 million USD) in the past four months.

Despite the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic, the index of industrial production in the first four months of this year of Bac Giang increased by 7.7 percent. However, this is the lowest growth rate for many years.

The provincial administration will continue with measures to tackle difficulties for production and business, particularly enterprises’ access to credit and problems in taxation, trade and electronic payment.

Local departments, agencies and authorities are required to coordinate closely in improving the business and investment environment and the Provincial Competitiveness Index (PCI)./.

Procedures for lychee exports to Japan to be completed soon

The Plant Protection Department at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) held a teleconference with Japanese partners on May 14 to discuss the completion of procedures for the first exports of fresh lychee to this market.

MARD Deputy Minister Le Quoc Doanh said the Japanese side could authorise Vietnam to examine the for-export fruit under the Japanese Embassy’s supervision.

He noted with the Japanese side’s activeness and goodwill, Vietnam hopes to ship the first batch of lychees this year despite numerous difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

MARD, the Japanese Embassy in Vietnam and the People’s Committee of Bac Giang province – the largest lychee farming hub in Vietnam – will shortly organise a ceremony to mark the export, he said, adding that MARD, the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and the two countries’ embassies have been coordinating closely to prepare for the shipment.

All technical issues for export have been solved, according to the Plant Protection Department.

This year, Bac Giang has more than 28,000ha of lychee with an estimated output of over 160,000 tonnes, up 10,000 tonnes from 2019.

In the nearby province of Hai Duong, 9,700ha of lychee there are expected to produce 45,000 tonnes of fruit. This locality has also kept strict monitoring of farming zones which have met standards of Japan, the US, Australia and the EU, and organised events to promote sale./.

Mastercard and CARE partner to support 1,000 women entrepreneurs in Viet Nam     

Mastercard, along with Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth, is collaborating with the non-governmental organisation CARE to provide direct assistance to some of those on the frontlines of the country’s economic recovery – Viet Nam’s women entrepreneurs.

As part of the collaboration, Mastercard and CARE will provide both funds and expertise that will enable 1,000 women micro entrepreneurs in Ha Noi and HCM City to drive a robust recovery followed by sustained long-term inclusive growth.

Part of the funds will be disbursed in the form of emergency cash and electronic transfers to help small, informal businesses kick start their operations as the economy reopens, while giving women flexibility to support their families financially.

In addition to providing women entrepreneurs with near-immediate assistance, the partners will be working together to bolster these businesses moving forward, creating stability and employment opportunities that will benefit their communities in the future.

“With success and resilience, Viet Nam has overcome the health implications of COVID-19. However, the journey to economic recovery is possible but it needs to start with the hardest hit section of the market – small business owners,” said Le Kim Dung, Country Director, CARE International in Viet Nam.

“With our partner Mastercard, we will re-ignite 1,000 women micro-entrepreneurs’ businesses, helping them to recover from the pandemic’s economic effects. Together we will deliver assistance now, and rebuild better, more equitably and inclusively,” said Dung.

“Through this partnership with CARE, Mastercard will be able to fulfill its commitment to unlocking the full economic potential of women entrepreneurs in Viet Nam and create a financially inclusive society for the digital age. Moving forward, Mastercard is committed to working with banks, businesses, consumers, and government partners in Viet Nam to ensure a strong recovery,” said Winnie Wong, Country Manager, Vietnam, Mastercard.

To provide support to Vietnamese businesses in the long run, Mastercard will leverage its banking and business networks, cyber security expertise, payments technologies and solutions, and vast data and market intelligence, while CARE will work with Women’s Initiative for Startups and Entrepreneurship (WISE), financial-inclusion fintech Canal Circle and VP Bank to tailor financial services and products that better suit the needs of women business owners. 

 
 

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