BUSINESS NEWS HEADLINES MAY 19

Vietnamese, US footwear firms to discuss trade amid pandemic

BUSINESS NEWS HEADLINES MAY 19
The footwear factory of the Ha Tay Chemical Weave Co. Ltd in Hanoi

An online trade exchange is slated to be held from May 28-30 with the participation of 60 footwear importers from the US, according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT).

The event is expected to draw between 60-80 domestic footwear enterprises.

The MoIT said the exchange aims to help domestic footwear producers promote exports to the US. It will also act as a platform to provide updated information on the US footwear market in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the event, enterprises from the two nations will be able to learn about the other side's needs and capacities, seize cooperative opportunities, and respond to trade and market developments as demand for footwear in the US is predicted to rebound once the COVID-19 pandemic subsides.

They will be also able to assess export prospects and adaptability, as well as Vietnam’s plans for developing the footwear industry.

Last year was as a successful year for Vietnam’s footwear exports were worth 18.3 billion USD, up 13 percent year-on-year. Last year, the US imported the largest share of Vietnamese footwear products with a value of 6.65 billion USD, a yearly hike of 14.2 percent.

With a turnover of 1.56 billion USD, the US retained its crown as the leading consumer of footwear products from Vietnam in the first quarter of 2020, surging 10 percent over the same period last year./.

Gold prices soar in the market

Domestic gold price soared to surpass VND49 million (US$2,100) per tael (1.2 ounce) this morning when the global prices of the yellow metal climbed to a multi-year high.

On the morning of May 18, the Saigon Gold and Jewelry Company listed each tael of SJC gold at VND48.67 million -VND49.15 million (buying-selling), an increase of VND450,000 compared to the rates last week.

Phu Quy Group also increased VND450,000 per tael to VND48.65 million -VND49.05 million (buying-selling).

At the same time, the gold price grew sharply in the recent four sessions. Currently, the spot gold price rose to $1,759 per ounce, while the price of gold delivered in June rose to $1,768 per ounce.

Converting to the local dong with the current exchange rate each tael of gold in the global market was VND49.8 million, VND800,000 higher than the domestic gold price.

A majority of Kitco's survey participants forecast gold prices will rise this week. Seventy-one per cent Wall Street voters, who are gold experts, said the prices will go up, while 69 per cent of 1,088 cast in an online Main Street poll also voted for the same trend.

Kevin Grady, president of Phoenix Futures and Options LLC told Kitco.com: “We are starting to see equities slow at this point. The massive global stimulus packages that the central banks have undertaken should propel gold to higher levels. This low interest-rate environment will be here for a while, also bullish for gold.”

Other experts on Kitco said that there were three main factors driving the gold price this week including central banks' unlimited quantitative easing efforts, increasingly gloomy US economic data, and the tensions in US-China trade relations that added to the concern about the severe economic downturn from the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to Commerzbank analysts, there was no surprise that gold ETFs recorded a wave of buying. If speculators also increase bets on gold, gold will rise rapidly to $1,800 per ounce. 

Hanoi retail space rentals down 30 percent due to COVID-19

While the COVID-19 epidemic has basically been controlled in Vietnam and business activities have resumed, the retail space market in Hanoi is gloomy with rentals down from 20-30 percent.

Poor business during the epidemic has forced many shop owners to close their business and seek to transfer or return their rented shops.

Pham Danh Tung, owner of a fashion shop in Hang Bai street in the downtown Hoan Kiem district, said a strong fall in customers and revenues, plus a high rent, has pushed him into the corner and he had to suspend business and return the shop to the landlord.

Meanwhile, Le Kim Dung, who has a shop for rent in Chua Boc street, said although she has reduced the asking price by 30 percent, no customer has come during the past month.

A survey by real estate firm CBRE showed 43 percent of retail tenants expected their revenue would decrease by 10-30 percent this year, and 27 percent hoped for support from landlords because their business operation was seriously affected by the COVID-19 epidemic.

Economic experts said the rising trend of online shopping is another reason making retail space less popular.  

Vo Thi Phuong Mai, head of CBRE’s Retail Services said the COVID-19 pandemic had negatively affected the traditional retail channel but at the same time created opportunities for more modern retail channels such as convenience stores and e-commerce. She expected that multi-channel retail will grow in the time ahead.

Companies urged to develop online presence amid pandemic

Businesses should take advantage of both online and offline platforms to increase their ability to adapt to disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, speakers said at an online seminar on May 15 in HCM City.

Le Tri Thong, general director of Phu Nhuan Jewelry Company (PNJ), said: “The outbreak has already affected the whole economy, changing consumers’ buying habits, forcing many businesses to adapt to better serve customers’ online shopping needs as traditional sales channels have been affected.

“Businesses have no choice but to accelerate digital transformation. To thrive during the current pandemic, businesses should strengthen their online-to-offline platforms,” he said. 

Phan Bich Tam, national director of Mobile Marketing Association, said that online traffic and the increase of internet users has been matched by recent rises in online activity.

Businesses need to take advantage of their resources to be present in online marketplaces. “Small- and medium-sized businesses should choose technology and applications available in the market at a very low cost,” she noted.

She said there was more attention online now than ever before, with consumers looking for content relevant to current events. 

Businesses should combine both offline and online channels to optimise sales. If companies fail to take advantage of digital marketing, they will lose opportunities to their competitors, according to Tam.

Experts said in addition to being visible on online marketplaces, companies, especially exporters, should have a website. 

Businesses affected by the outbreak should turn to digital marketing to ride out the pandemic as they prepare for long-term disruption.

They should also communicate more with their customers and suppliers about company changes and new business plans, and let customers know how they can purchase goods or ask for services.

Experts also urged companies to monitor their finances and prepare for long-term disruptions.

The e-commerce market in Vietnam has great potential, they said. 

Vu Thi Nhat Linh, deputy general director of Tiki.vn, said customers are spending more time on online platforms compared to the end of 2019. Many businesses have begun focusing on promoting online distribution channels.

She said businesses must learn to improve competitiveness and improve the brand value and quality of their products and services.

According to statistics from Sapo Express, April recorded a sharp increase in the number of online orders and online shopping. 

Experts said while it is uncertain when everything will settle down, enterprises are going to struggle more in order to make up for their losses. 

To deal with the COVID-19 crisis, there are still opportunities for companies to maximise their digital marketing presence during this difficult time.

The online seminar was organised by The Saigon Times Online, HCM City Young Entrepreneurs Association and NS Bluescope Vietnam Ltd./. 

HCM City speeds up site compensation for key traffic projects

District authorities have been urged to complete site compensation, resettlement and handover of land to speed up the progress of major traffic projects this year.

Luong Minh Phuc, director of HCM City’s Management Board for Traffic Works Construction and Investment, has said district leaders would be held responsible for activities related to compensation and land handover.

The city plans to complete 29 traffic projects and start construction on 27 new traffic projects this year in an aim to reduce traffic congestion and develop connections between the city and neighbouring provinces, according to the Management Board.

It has kicked off 13 major traffic projects with total investment of 3.5 trillion VND (149.12 million USD), according to the Management Board.

At the end of April, work started on the six-lane 75m long My Thuy 3 bridge project in District 2,which is part of the 2-trillion VND My Thuy intersection project.

After completion, the bridge will be linked to My Thuy 1 and My Thuy 2 bridges and is expected to ease congestion near Cat Lai Port in District 2.

On April 20, work also started on a project to expand the 2.8km Dong Van Cong road. When completed after nine months of construction, the road will have 10 lanes for cars and two for motorbikes and will be connected to My Thuy 3 bridge.

On April 22, work started on the first phase of the underground tunnel at the intersection of Nguyen Huu Tho - Nguyen Van Linh streets in District 7 with an investment of 830 billion VND.

In addition, a project to build a pedestrian bridge in front of the new Eastern Bus Station on Hanoi Highway in District 9 and an underpass under the new Bus Station project will have a total investment of nearly 440 billion VND.

In addition, the city plans to complete the 64km belt road No 2 linking provinces and cities this year. To date, 50km has been completed and put into operation. Of the remaining sections, 3km of the belt road is being implemented under the BT model.

In addition, the Thu Thiem Bridge No 2 project is slated to be put into use in the third quarter of the year. The bridge will shorten the travel time from District 1 to District 2 and help ease congestion on Ton Duc Thang and Nguyen Huu Canh streets.

In addition, nine projects will be implemented near Tan Son Nhat airport area, including three new overpasses, expansion of Hoang Minh Giam street, and upgrade of Cong Hoa street after the land is handed over.

Traffic connections between HCM City and neighbouring provinces play an important role in the economic development of the southern area.

Tran Quang Lam, director of the city’s Transport Department, said priority would be given to projects for belt roads, highways and urban railways./.

Hanoi allocates over US$32 million for 10 stated-funded projects  

These include six new infrastructure projects and four in fields of transport and technical infrastructure having adjusted investment capital.

The Hanoi People’s Council at its meeting on April 15 approved a resolution to allocate VND748 billion (US$32 million) for 10 infrastructure projects using state funding.

As per the council’s resolution, the city agreed on six new infrastructure projects with a total cost of VND34.64 trillion (US$1.48 million). They include a pedestrian overpass located near the wholesale market in Hoang Mai district with an investment of VND5.2 billion (222,196); an overpass for pedestrians at Lieu Giai street, Ba Dinh district costing VND8 billion (US$342,948); an overpass for pedestrians in Bac Linh Dam residential area, Hoang Mai district, at a cost of VND3.94 billion (US$168,902); an overpass for pedestrians at Nguyen Hoang street, Nam Tu Liem district, costing VND5.53 billion (US$273,063); an overpass for pedestrians at Ngoc Hoi street, Hoang Mai district with VND6 billion (US$257,211);  and an overpass at Dao Tan street, Ba Dinh district costing VND5.95 billion (US$255,068).

All these projects are set to start construction in the 2021 – 2022 period, with funds fully sourced from the city’s budget. The financing mechanism for the six projects would not impact Hanoi’s mid-term investment plan in the 2021 – 2025, said a deputy head of the Economy – Finance Commission under the Hanoi People’s Council.

Meanwhile, the council decided to adjust the investment tally for four projects in the fields of transport and technical infrastructure development for a combined funding of VND713.27 billion (US$30.57 billion).

The first project is a resettlement area in Hong Ky commune with an increase in investment capital from VND89.75 billion (US$3.84 million) to VND101.6 billion (US$4.35 million).

The second one is the reparation and installation of  fire prevention equipment at a number of resettlement areas at Xuan La, Xuan Dinh,  Nghia Do, Phu Thuong, Me Tri Ha, Le Duc Tho, Cau Dien and Giao Luu, for which investment capital go up from VND12.04 billion (US$516,137) to VND14.91 billion (US$639,170).

The third one is the construction of road connecting from National Defense Sport Center to Vietnam Military History Museum with adjusted capital at VND227.79 billion (US$9.76 million).

The final one is a road going along Nga bridge pump station and an overpass at the intersection with national railway route Bac Hong - Van Dien at VND486.85 billion (US$20.87 million).

Good infrastructure gives a boost to real estate in eastern Hanoi

The realty market in eastern Hanoi is forecast to grow stronger than ever with important transport projects worth billions of dollars being built in the second half of the year.

According to experts, Hanoi’s eastern area has grown strongly over the past 10 years.

Transport projects, including the extended Highway No 5, the intersection of the Ring Road 3 with the Hanoi- Hai Phong and Co Linh motorway, and phase 2 of Vinh Tuy Bridge, will be built from 2020-24. Phase 2 of Vinh Tuy Bridge will cost a total of 2.5 trillion VND (106.5 million USD).

There are also plans for Tran Hung Dao Bridge, Giang Bien Bridge and Tu Lien Bridge in the area.

At the same time, as one of the largest realty developers in Vietnam, Vingroup has recently asked for investment policies to build two overpasses at the crossroads between Dong Du and Duong Xa streets and a highway adjacent to Vinhomes Ocean Park.

When the two overpasses are finished, they will form a modern traffic axis, creating flexible traffic flow from all directions connecting the entire city with the east of Hanoi.

Along with transport infrastructure, social infrastructure is also an advantage in the area. Facilities such as Aeon Mall, BigC Long Bien, Savico Megamall, Tokyo Medical Hospital and the upcoming Vincom Megamall Ocean Park will help attract residents.

The Prime Minister also adjusted the general plan for Hanoi, focusing on modern urban areas, as well as technical and social infrastructure in the eastern region, concentrated in the districts of Dong Anh, Gia Lam, Yen Vien and Long Bien.

Dang Hung Vo, former deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, said: "The development of the east is reasonable. The area has both mountains and rivers, so it will not be flooded."

Vo forecast it will become a "hot spot" for real estate investment as it has a large land fund and increasing infrastructure development.

Popular market research firms CBRE and Savills confirmed that real estate in the area has been attracting the attention of investors and customers, adding the market will witness many projects launching in the next couple of years.

According to investors, the east is a potential area connecting the capital city with the northern economic centres such as Hai Duong, Hai Phong and Quang Ninh./.

Hanoi targets US$1.92 billion of capital expenditure in 2020

As of April 30, the disbursed amount of public investment was equivalent to 13.8% of the target, which remained slower than expected, said a Hanoi official.

Hanoi targets VND44.91 trillion (US$1.92 billion) in capital expenditure this year, including VND28.1 trillion (US$1.2 billion) from the city-level budget and VND16.81 trillion (US$721.76 million) fromn the district-level budget, according to Nguyen Manh Quyen, director of the municipal Planning and Investment Department.

As of April 30, the disbursed amount of public investment was equivalent to 13.8% of the year's target, higher than the rate of 12.1% recorded in the same period last year, Quyen said at a meeting held by the Hanoi People’s Council on May 15.

“Despite being higher from a year earlier, the disbursement rate remains slower than expected,” Quyen noted.

So far, Hanoi has completed 25 projects, or 23% of the total number of projects for 2020.

For the 2016 – 2020 period, over VND107.3 trillion (US$4.6 billion) was allocated for public investment, of which VND101.01 trillion (US$4.33 billion), or 94.14% of the target, has been provided for projects.    

Secretary of the Hanoi Party Committee Vuong Dinh Hue previously said public investment should be the top priority to ensure economic recovery.

Hue suggested that Hanoi should set up a task force with an aim to speed up the disbursement pace, and each process must be closely related with individual responsibility.

Meanwhile, Nguyen Quoc Hung, vice chairman of the Hanoi People’s Committee, said the major issue is slow site clearance as well as the lack of responsibilities from local authorities in resolving investment procedures.

Indonesia needs to spend 40 billion USD recovering economy: business group

The Indonesian government should increase economic recovery spending to 600 trillion Rp (40.17 billion USD) to help domestic businesses cope with the economic impacts of COVID-19, according to the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin).

Kadin Vice Chairwoman Shinta Kamdani said at an online press conference on May 14 that the current budget for the economic recovery programme would be insufficient to support businesses, adding that many enterprises only have enough cash to maintain their operations by June.

President Joko Widodo should raise spending to about 600 trillion Rp for economic recovery, 600 trillion Rp for social security programmes and another 400 trillion Rp for the health system, Shinta suggested.

According to Kinda data, Indonesia’s gross domestic product (GDP) fell to a 19-year low of 2.97 percent in the first quarter of this year due to the impact of COVID-19.

The government is mulling a plan to begin easing COVID-19 social restrictions in June to allow businesses to resume operations gradually./.

BUSINESS NEWS HEADLINES MAY 19

Domestic demand helps recover tourism market

The tourism market has recovered since mid-April when social distancing measures against COVID-19 were eased, heard a conference held in the north-central province of Thanh Hoa on May 16.

The recovery was mainly thanks to the increasing demand of local travellers, according to insiders who added that the most searched destinations over the past month were Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, Da Nang, Da Lat, Phu Quoc, Nha Trang, Hue and Quy Nhon.

An increasing number of people are looking for sea and island tourism places such as Vung Tau, Phu Quoc, Nha Trang, Quy Nhon and Ha Long Bay, as well as national parks like Phong Nha-Ke Bang, Ba Vi, Cuc Phuong, and Son Doong cave.

Some airlines and travel companies such as Bamboo Airways, Philippine Airlines, and Traveloka have launched preferential programmes to lure visitors.

Hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic, Vietnam’s tourism sector is likely to be one of the first to recover strongly after the pandemic is brought under control, according to an expert from Savills Vietnam.

Mauro Gasparotti, Director of Savills Hotels Asia Pacific, said local travelers, which accounted for 82.5 percent of all tourists last year, are expected to rise in number within a short period of time, while international visitors will return at a slower but steady rate, especially those from China and the Republic of Korea (RoK).

The number of foreign arrivals to Vietnam fell 18 percent year-on-year in the first quarter of this year, while the number of domestic travelers was down 6 percent. The sector’s revenue declined 11 percent compared to the same period of 2019.

Vietnam – emerging tiger in Asia: Egyptian media

Some Egyptian newspapers, including the Events Magazine News, Al Naasher and The Egyptian Gazette, highly valued Vietnam’s development achievements in recent years in their articles published on May 16.

In the economic aspect, The Egyptian Gazette noted Vietnam is viewed as an emerging tiger in Asia with a GDP growth rate of over 7 percent in 2019, annual per capita income approximating 2,800 USD, and household poverty rate brought down to 1.45 percent – which was recognised by the UNDP as an important attainment of the country’s poverty reduction efforts.

According to this daily, Vietnam is currently among the nations with the fastest growth in the Human Development Index. Meanwhile, foreign direct investment there rises 7.2 percent each year and exceeded 38 billion USD in 2019, the highest in a decade.

The newspapers shared that view that Vietnam is holding important dual roles in the region and the world as it is the ASEAN Chair in 2020 and a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council (UNSC) for 2020-2021.

The country excellently fulfilled the tasks in the UNSC presidency last January, they said, adding that this successful performance was an important initial result that will benefit its participation in the UNSC in the time ahead.

Regarding the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, the newspapers said the UN and many countries around the world have expressed their admiration for Vietnam’s accomplishments.

So far, the Southeast Asian nation hasn’t recorded any deaths from the coronavirus disease and, like Egypt, it has sent medical supplies to the countries hit hard by the COVID-19 outbreak.

In terms of bilateral cooperation, the Egyptian media highlighted that the two countries have enjoyed new strides in their relations in multiple spheres and at different levels.

Bilateral trade has reached 500 million USD, turning Egypt into the second largest trade partner of Vietnam in Africa, and they are working towards 1 billion USD in trade turnover to help Egypt secure the No. 1 position.

Meanwhile, as the ASEAN Chair this year, Vietnam can act as an important bridge linking Egypt with other ASEAN members, thereby helping the Egyptian Government promote its “Look East” policy, the newspapers noted./.

 

Indonesia to impose VAT on internet companies from July

Indonesia will require big internet companies to pay value-added taxes (VAT) on sales of digital products and services from July as part of efforts to boost revenue amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to a tax official of the country.

It will impose 10 percent VAT on digital products sold by non-resident internet companies with significant presence in the Indonesian market, including streaming services, applications and digital games, beginning July 1, according to a finance ministry regulation published on the ministry's website.

The government has previously said services by streaming platforms like Spotify and Netflix would be subject to the new tax. Neither company responded to requests for comment.

Products and services bought via Alphabet Inc's Google Play among others would also fall into the category, although the government has not named any companies other than Spotify and Netflix.

Indonesia currently charges a 10 percent value-added tax on sales of most products and services. The country has aimed to get internet companies to pay their fair share of taxes for years and the decision to impose VAT was announced in March when President Joko Widodo outlined emergency measures to help the country weather the coronavirus crisis.

The package was passed by parliament earlier this week.

Indonesia's internet economy is the biggest and fastest growing in Southeast Asia and is expected to reach 130 billion USD by 2025, according to a research by Google, Temasek Holdings and Bain & Company.

Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati has said that imposing VAT on internet goods was to make sure the government captures the shift in people's consumption patterns as they stay at home during a lockdown to curb the spread of the virus.

The government expects a 10 percent drop in state revenue this year due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and weak commodity prices, forecasting that economic growth will more than halve to 2.3 percent, from 5 percent in 2019. It expects a fiscal deficit of 5.07 percent of GDP for 2020, the biggest in more than a decade./.

National electricity corporation sees profit up 38 percent in 2019

Vietnam Electricity (EVN) recently reported a pre-tax profit of 12.5 trillion VND (535 million USD) last year, up 38 percent year-on-year.

According to EVN’s consolidated financial statements, last year the corporation recorded 394.9 trillion VND in net revenue, up 17 percent compared to the year prior.

Of the estimate, 3.9 trillion VND came from financial revenue, 8.5 percent more year-on-year. Revenue from joint ventures and associates totalled 498 billion VND, down 13 percent.

Regarding expenses, last year, selling expenses of the firm hit 7.1 trillion VND, up 6.3 percent. Administration expenses reached 13.6 trillion VND, up 2.5 percent.

Notably, financial expenses during the year decreased by 23 percent, equivalent to more than 6.5 trillion VND, to touch 22.5 trillion VND.

By the end of 2019, the corporation's total assets exceeded 721 trillion VND, a slight increase of 2.1 percent after a year.

Cash and cash equivalents rose by 7 percent to more than 53.6 trillion VND./.

RoK emphasises ASEAN’s role in financial hub master plan

Southeast Asia has been defined as the place where the Republic of Korea (RoK)’s financial industry should expand its presence over the next three years to accomplish its plan of becoming an international financial hub in 2022.

According to the country’s Financial Services Commission (FSC), the expansion in ASEAN countries has been one of the three major strategies for the RoK’s fifth master plan.

This is the first time the RoK has emphasised ASEAN in its plan.

"As the target of our outbound strategy, the emerging ASEAN economy has received growing attention," the FSC said in a press release.

"Among the 27 foreign branches that Korean financial firms set up last year, 13 were located in ASEAN member countries, such as Vietnam, Indonesia and Singapore."

Earlier in December 2019, the Korea Capital Market Institute (KCMI) advised the FSC to focus on the ASEAN market to satisfy demands for financial services in the region which has emerged as an alternative global supply chain to China./.

Consumers optimistic amid COVID-19​

Vietnamese consumers are some of the most optimistic, among Asian countries surveyed, that their country will weather the challenges of the COVID-19, according to a McKinsey’s mid-April consumer survey.

The survey questioned 618 consumers in Vietnam on their consumption behaviour shifts during the COVID-19 crisis.

The findings show that only 4 percent of Vietnamese consumers surveyed believe the pandemic will have a long-lasting impact on the economy and create a lengthy recession. This is compared to 6 percent in Indonesia, 16 percent in the US, and 24 percent in the Republic of Korea.

This optimism, coupled with the country’s head start on recovery, is expected to play a crucial role in shaping the country’s new reality.

Out of the more than 600 respondents from Vietnam, 47 percent expressed a belief that the economy will rebound within two to three months and will then grow at a similar or even faster rate than before the pandemic.

It found that about 70 percent of respondents expect to be more careful with their spending, and about half of respondents say they feel less job or financial security because of COVID-19. This is linked to decreased spending expectations across all categories, except for “essentials” such as groceries, food delivery and telecommunications services.

People also have a growing preference for healthy and locally sourced offerings. More than four in five Vietnamese respondents (81 percent) shared that they are more focused on health. This is reflected by an increase in consumption of products that are perceived to be healthy such as eggs, fresh foods and healthcare products.

Vietnamese are fairly loyal to stores, but significantly less loyal to brands in a pandemic as 39 percent of respondents have tried or switched to an alternative store.

The top three reasons for switching including location closer to home (46 percent of switchers), availability of online or app-based channels (42 percent) and stock of essentials (37 percent).

However, 75 percent of Vietnamese respondents have switched brands during the COVID-19, and these changes are expected to last beyond the pandemic./.

Cambodia to remove ban on fish, white rice, paddy rice exports

Cambodia will lift a ban on the exports of fish, white rice and paddy rice to ensure local food security during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a recent government’s statement released.

The Cambodian government has decided to allow the exports of paddy rice, white rice and fish starting from May 20 onward, the statement said, adding that the decision was made during a weekly cabinet meeting which was presided over by Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen.

The lifting of the ban, which has been imposed since April 5, came after the Southeast Asian country had detected no new COVID-19 cases for more than a month, and all of the 122 COVID-19 patients in the nation had been successfully treated.

Health Ministry's secretary of state and spokeswoman Or Vandine on May 16 said although no new cases had been confirmed more than a month, people should remain extra-vigilant to avoid a second wave of infections.

She added that there are still risks of new infections because countries in the region and the world still see an increase in such cases./.

Businesses respond to Quang Ninh’s tourism promotion campaign

Major businesses such as Vingroup and Sungroup have launched various summer discount programmes in response to the tourism promotion campaign of the north-eastern province of Quang Ninh in 2020.

From May 16, Vingroup – a real estate giant in Vietnam, offers seven preferential packages for vacationers, including free return air tickets and free entrance into Vinwonders and Vinpearl Safari parks for those who book rooms for two nights or more at resort areas of Vinpearl Nha Trang, Phu Quoc, and Da Nang-Hoi An.

Meanwhile, Sungroup - one of the largest real estate developers in Vietnam, will provide a free programme worth 290,000 VND per passenger when they visit Ha Long Bay through Ha Long international Cruise Port.

On May 14, the provincial People’s Council approved a tourism stimulus package worth 200 billion VND (8.5 million USD) with the aim of attracting more visitors at home and abroad.

Under the incentive, starting from May 15, ticket fees will be exempted for all visitors, both Vietnamese and foreigners, to Ha Long Bay, Quang Ninh Museum and the complex of Yen Tu monuments and landscapes until the end of the month and upcoming holidays.

In addition, passengers going through the Van Don International Airport will receive free round-trip bus rides to Ha Long and Uong Bi cities until the year's end.

Quang Ninh is endowed with natural advantages for sea and island tourism. It has a coastline of more than 250 kilometres and more than 2,000 islands and islets which account for two-thirds of the total number in Vietnam.

It is home to popular destinations such as Ha Long Bay, Bai Tu Long, Ha Long Bay National Park and some islands.

In particular, Ha Long Bay was twice recognised as a World Natural Heritage site by UNESCO in 1994 and 2000. The bay spans 1,553 square kilometres and includes 1,969 islands of various sizes. It features thousands of limestone karsts and islets in various shapes and sizes. The limestone in the bay has gone through 500 million years of formation in different conditions and environments.

Quang Ninh welcomed only 1.54 million holidaymakers in the first four months of 2020, a year-on-year decline of 77 percent, due to COVID-19./.

New train coach to offer luxury services in central region from July

Global hotel management company Minor Hotels has collaborated with the State-owned Vietnam Railways Corporation to attach Vietage, a 12-seater luxury coach, to the daily train between Da Nang and Quy Nhon cities starting in early July.

The train leaves from Da Nang every morning on a six-hour journey to Dieu Tri and returns in the evening.

The opulent custom-designed carriage will offer a full range of services, including a restaurant, a bar and head and shoulder massage.

More information will be up soon at thevietage.com./.

Dong Nai's trade edges down, surplus shoots up

The southern province of Dong Nai reported that its foreign trade in the first four months of the year topped 10.8 billion USD, down 2.67 percent year-on-year but the surplus shot up by 43 percent.

According to the provincial Department of Industry and Trade, exports increased marginally to 6.1 billion USD while imports fell 7 percent to 4.7 billion USD.

The surplus of almost 1.4 billion USD accounted for 43 percent of the country’s surplus.

Items whose exports increased include footwear, machinery, pepper, and coffee.

Imports of machinery and equipment fell by 5 percent, of raw plastic by 6 percent and of chemicals by 10 percent.

Exports to the US, Japan and the Republic of Korea increased, while those to China and Belgium declined.

Malaysia signs record rice deals with India

Malaysia has agreed to import 100,000 tonnes of rice from India for 2020.

It is a record amount as the Southeast Asian nation bought around 53,000 tonnes per year on average from India in the past five years.

According to India’s Rice Exporters Association, Malaysia is making substantial purchases from India after a long time, in a further sign of improving trade relations between the countries. The purchases would help trim rice stockpiles in India, the world’s biggest exporter.

The Indian association looks to export 200,000 tonnes of rice to Malaysia this year after the latest deals.

Malaysia relies on rice imports as it gives priority to its palm oil industry instead. The country buys roughly 900,000 tonnes of rice each year, with Thailand being its largest supplier./.

Conference seeks ways to improve effectiveness of fishery

Local authorities, seafood producers and fishermen from 28 coastal cities and provinces gathered in a conference on May 16 to seek ways to improve the effectiveness of fishing as well as seafood processing and distribution in 2020.

The event was held in Tuy Hoa city, the south central province of Phu Yen by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the provincial People’s Committee.

Participants discussed how seafood is traded, processed and preserved currently and measures to improve the value of seafood products, quality management and safety control. They also chalked out ways to boost export of Vietnamese seafood.

Speaking at the conference, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Phung Duc Tien requested the ministry’s agencies and local administrations to provide fishermen with all possible conditions and support them to go fishing offshore.

The Directorate of Fisheries and the localities must take urgent measures to implement recommendations made by the EU in order to have the EU’s “yellow card” warning lifted, and adopt supportive policies to develop the fishery sector, he said.

The directorate was also tasked to conduct more studies and surveys of aquatic resources and provide forecast of fisheries to help fishermen exploit them more effectively, the deputy minister noted.

He went on to urge the coastal localities to strengthen monitoring of their fishing ships, increase investment in infrastructure and logistics services for the fishery sector and apply advanced technology to seafood exploitation, processing and preservation while supporting producers in developing brands and distributing their products.

Data of the Directorate of Fisheries shows that there are more than 88,100 fishing boats of 6 metres or longer registered nationwide, including over 31,400 with a length of more than 15 metres.

This year, Vietnam targets to exploit about 3.68 million tonnes of seafood. Exports of fishery products are set to reach 10 billion USD./.

Russia to ship tumblers worth over 1.3 million USD to Vietnam

The Ho Chi Minh City-based Au Viet My Import-Export Trading Company has reached a 100 million ruble (over 1.3 million USD) deal to buy Nevalyashka tumbler dolls from Russia.

The deal with the Kotovsky Tumblers company in Russia’s Tambov province, is the first major contract on exports of the traditional Russian toy to the Vietnamese market.

Russian-based Interfax news agency quoted Dmitry Fedorov, Deputy General Director of Kotovsky Tumblers as saying that the deal will be carried out in phases and completed by June 2021, adding that the first consignment of 307 tumblers will be sent to Vietnam next month.

The contract implementation is being made through the Russian Export Centre in Vietnam in collaboration with the export centre of Tambov province.

The Russia-Vietnam cooperation continues to thrive despite the COVID-19 pandemic, said Russian Export Centre in Vietnam, as Vietnamese firms have sought Russian suppliers in various sectors including foodstuff, paper, metals and petrochemicals.

Statistics of the centre showed that Vietnam purchased non-energy and non-fuel products worth 562 million USD from Russia in 2019.

Vietnam, Romania promote trade relations

Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh on May 15 talked on the phone with Romanian Minister of Economy, Energy and the Business Environment Virgil - Daniel Popescu.

Minister Anh shared the difficulties and losses suffered by Romania during the COVID-19 pandemic, and expressed his hope that Romania and other nations in the EU will soon contain the spread of the disease for the early resumption of economic, trade and investment activities.

The Romanian minister congratulated Vietnam for its success in coping with the COVID-19 pandemic, and thanked the country for facilitating the supply and transport of medical supplies as well as for presenting face masks to Romania.

The ministers noted that bilateral economic, trade and investment cooperation in the recent past has produced positive outcomes with good growth, which however, remains modest compared to both sides’ potential and aspiration.

With the signing of the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) and the EU-Vietnam Investment Protection Agreement (EVIPA) during Romania’s tenure as presidency of the Council of the EU, Romania and Vietnam continue to lead in promoting the implementation of the deals, thus bringing practical benefits to their business community.

The ministers expressed their hope that after the pandemic, the two sides will make further efforts with specific plans of actions to promote bilateral cooperation, especially in fields of their strength. They said the EVFTA, once taking effect, is certain to open up big opportunities to develop trade and investment ties between Vietnam and the EU in general and Romania in particular.

Mentioning bilateral collaboration in coping with the COVID-19, Minister Virgil-Daniel Popescu asked Vietnam to continue supplying medical masks to Romania.

Minister Anh pledged to work with the Health Ministries and relevant enterprises to maintain stable supply of masks and medical supplies to Romania.

Statistics of the General Department of Vietnam Customs showed two-way trade between Vietnam and Romania totaled 261.3 million USD in 2019, up 19.7 percent from 2018, of which 193.8 million USD came from Vietnam’s exports, up 32 percent.

Two-way trade in the first quarter of this year increased 9.7 percent year on year to over 73 million USD.

CP Vietnam builds largest pig slaughter plant in northern region

The CP Livestock Joint Stock Company (CP Vietnam) expects to put a pig slaughter plant into operation at the end of this year at the Phu Nghia Industrial Park in Hanoi’s outlying Chuong My district with a total investment of 450 billion VND (19.3 million USD).

This is the plant with the largest capacity in the northern region at 4,000 pigs per day. The project is built with production lines using modern technology to produce high quality pork for domestic consumption and export, according to the company.

CP Vietnam Deputy General Director Vu Anh Tuan said with this project, the company expects to reduce intermediaries in trading pork on the domestic market, leading to lower pork prices.

This is the second project of CP Vietnam at the Phu Nghia Industrial Park. The first one is the Hanoi Meat Processing Factory that has a total slaughtering capacity of 4,000 pigs per day. The first phase of the project will be completed with a capacity of 2,000 pigs per day at the end of this year.

CP Vietnam is one of the 15 large livestock enterprises in Vietnam which has been requested to reduce live hog price to 70,000 VND per kilo by the Prime Minister to stabilise the domestic pork market./.

Cambodia: Anti-money laundering draft law approved

Cambodia’s anti-money laundering draft law was approved on May 15 at the Council of Ministers meeting chaired by Prime Minister Hun Sen.

The law is designed to assist authorities to fight money laundering and the financing of terrorism by identifying measures to “prevent, crackdown, and combat” such activities in Cambodia. After being passed by the cabinet, the law will be sent to the National Assembly for approval.

According to the government’s spokesperson Phay Siphan, the move came following the Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering found that Cambodia does not have the appropriate legal basis and adequate enforcement mechanism related to penalties for money laundering and terrorism financing in line with international standards.

In 2019, Cambodia uncovered 75 money laundering cases. Authorities seized nearly 7.8 million USD, two houses, a land lot and more than 2,700 vehicles relating to money laundering activities.

Earlier, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) placed the country on its grey list, which comprises countries “highly vulnerable to money laundering”./.

Indonesia: State-own bank, Grab launch soft-loan programme for drivers

State-owned lender Bank Rakyat Indonesia (BRI), in cooperation with ride-hailing service provider Grab, has launched a low-interest loan facility for the latter’s drivers and merchant partners who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under the programme, Grab’s drivers are eligible for a low-interest loan worth up to 5 million rupiah (336 USD) with a 24-month tenure. The BRI is also giving leeway to the drivers by freeing them from payment obligations for the first three months.

Besides drivers, merchants who operate through the GrabFood and GrabKios services, especially those with no access to bank loans, will be eligible for a microcredit programme (KUR) worth up to 50 million rupiah.

According to Grab Indonesia’s Managing Director Neneng Goenandi, the programme can ease the burden on Grab’s partners. Drivers who open accounts in the bank will also get insurance for accidents to the amount of 250 percent of their current account or a maximum coverage of 150 million rupiah.

In the first phase of the programme, a quota of 1,000 Grab driver partners in Greater Jakarta will be able to access the soft-loan facility. However, the partners will still have to meet the minimum requirements for their average earnings and the length of partnership with Grab to access the loans.

According to a Statqo Analytics report, the number of active Gojek and Grab users declined 17 percent throughout March as a result of the government’s large-scale social distancing restrictions (PSBB), leading to a reduction in drivers’ income.

Meanwhile, the country’s small and medium enterprises (MSME) saw a 30 to 35 percent sales decline in February and March, according to Indonesian MSME Association chairman Ikhsan Ingratubun./.

 
 

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