Enterprises look to enhance links to prevent future disruptions to supply chains
Some 81 percent of members of the Vietnam Business Council for Sustainable Development (VBCSD) will strengthen sectoral links to prevent their supply chains from suffering any future disruption caused by a disaster similar to the COVID-19 pandemic, a survey has found.
The survey was conducted by VBCSD to explore how domestic enterprises are doing amid the pandemic and based on this, it made recommendations for the Government to develop a medium- and long-term response strategy associated with the National Action Plan to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Most enterprises have posted sharp declines in revenue as COVID-19 has damaged exports and triggered a shortage of materials, said VBCSD Vice President Nguyen Quang Vinh, who is also Secretary-General of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI).
Enterprises must therefore prepare new suitable business plans that integrate urgent short-term issues with medium- and long-term strategies, he said, adding that after the pandemic ends, global supply chains will soon be restructured and repositioned.
The survey also revealed that 31 percent of respondents said they have focused or will focus more on the domestic market and reduce dependency on certain foreign markets.
Vinh added that many respondents said they will accelerate e-commerce and digital transformation to become less dependent on traditional markets and conventional ways of doing business.
Their first task, however, is to cut costs and postpone investments in non-essential items.
VBCSD President Vu Tien Loc said a sustainable development strategy would benefit businesses in the long run as it would help them strengthen their resilience in any circumstance, particularly in the face of COVID-19.
Vinh suggested enterprises diversify their suppliers rather than prioritising the boosting of efficiency. They should establish a network of short-term suppliers in addition to those with long-term contracts and at the same time, develop risk management scenarios for their supply chain and adopt more flexible and streamlined production plans.
The VBCSD also proposed the Government develop a legal framework to facilitate sustainable development. It should formulate and implement plans for improving sustainable corporate governance in 2021-2025 and the national programme to support the business community in promoting the circular economy in Vietnam from 2021-2030./.
Employment fortunes mixed in first quarter across HCM City
While many workers in several industries in Ho Chi Minh City lost jobs in the first quarter amid the COVID-19 pandemic, recruitment demand in other fields rose.
A report from the HCM City Centre for Forecasting Manpower Needs and Labour Market Information found that recruitment demand from enterprises in the city in the first quarter fell by 27.3 percent compared to the same period last year. Many of the enterprises operate in the fields of transport, education, hospitality and tourism, and textile-footwear.
Out of 163 surveyed enterprises in the city, 8.6 percent reduced working hours and 6.7 percent lacked jobs.
According to a report from Navigos Search, which provides recruitment services for mid- and high-level staff, businesses in the tourism and hospitality sector limited recruitment, while candidates were reluctant to look for new opportunities in the first quarter.
The garment-textile industry, which was heavily affected, has had to give employees paid leave, unpaid leave or rotational leave. Some have had to pay the minimum wage (for the region) or gradually cut positions.
Navigos Search said the shift of production from China to Vietnam in the fields of electrical/electronics and interior wood products has continued from last year.
However, recruitment decisions of investors have been delayed because of the policy of restricting movement between countries amid the pandemic.
In addition, some project leaders and important staff could not return to Vietnam after travelling outside the country, which has caused delays in implementation. Some new factory construction projects are also behind schedule due to the social distancing required between construction workers.
Many businesses have become more proactive in applying technology such as online initial interviews and will make official decisions when they meet face-to-face with candidates.
In the first quarter, the banking industry witnessed many shifts of high-level personnel.
Additionally, there was an excess in human resources because of the epidemic situation, with some banks having to restructure to reduce personnel.
Under the influence of COVID-19, bank business projects were delayed, while a change in target customers caused banks to adjust their business strategies.
The development trend of digital banking that started last year was expected to increase recruitment demand this year. But banks are now focusing their financial resources to address difficulties caused by COVID-19, and recruitment in this area did not increase in the first quarter.
As one of the industries less affected by COVID-19, e-commerce, especially for essential goods, has been thriving.
Labour demand is high for business development, marketing and technical jobs in e-commerce.
Although the supply of human resources for e-commerce is still scarce because it is a relatively new industry in Vietnam, businesses are giving priority to recruiting candidates who have experience in the industry and are paying high salaries to attract talent.
The salary range for candidates in the industry tends to be higher than traditional businesses and will remain that way for the next three to five years. Vietnamese candidates are also being given more priority because of language and work culture.
In the coming time, there will be many new investors in the Vietnamese market, which will increase recruitment demand in the e-commerce field.
Other industries such as energy, IT, and manufacturing had high recruitment demand for mid- and high-level personnel in the first quarter.
Demand for mid- and high-level jobs in Japanese enterprises in Vietnam was stable. However, some Japanese candidates have had to wait longer for visas and work permits, so their first work day may be delayed.
As a result, some Japanese enterprises have considered expanding opportunities for Vietnamese candidates for managerial positions.
Nguyen Phuong Mai, managing director of Navigos Search, said: “The unexpected impact of the COVID-19 pandemic globally has become a difficult problem for businesses to maintain their human resources and operations activities.”
"However, once the pandemic is controlled, recruitment demand will thrive because businesses will need human resources to revive production and business activities,” Mai added./.
Firms report big losses due to Covid-19 lockdown
Many firms in the aviation, oil and agriculture sectors have reported big losses in the first three months of 2020.
The aviation industry was the hardest-hit. Vietnam Airlines first-quarter financial report showed that the net revenue in the first three months dropped by 26% compared to the same period last year, to VND18.8trn (USD798m).
Cost of goods sold which includes the cost of labour, materials, and manufacturing overhead alone was already over VND19.4trn (USD824m). Post-tax losses were over VND2.5trn. The mother company incurred a VND2.6trn of net losses. The post-tax profit in the first quarter dropped sharply because of big losses by the mother company and sub-companies that provide air services like Skypec and Viags.
FLC Group, the owner of Bamboo Airways, said they also had huge losses as the pandemic badly affected the tourism industry and the resorts and real estate market. The group suffered a pre-tax loss of VND1.8trn (USD76m) in the first quarter. The mother company suffered a net loss of VND1.2trn. This is the first quarterly loss that the group has suffered in eight years.
Report from Danang Airports Services Joint Stock Company shows that the company's net revenue dropped by 19% to VND44bn (USD1.8m). The losses were not as huge but this is the first time the company has reported losses since it was listed.
Vietnam oil company and the operator of Dung Quat Refinery, Binh Son Refining and Petrochemical Joint Stock Company the first quarter last year they earned nearly VND3trn (USD127m) in profit while this year suffered a post-tax loss of VND2.3trn.
PV Oil reported a VND537trn (USD22.8bn) in net losses and an accumulated loss of VND1.2 by the end of the first quarter. Petrolimex hasn't reported yet but according to the Committee for the Management of State Capital at Enterprises, it has suffered VND572bn in losses.
Major agriculture company the Loc Troi Group reported a nearly VND37bn (USD1.6m) in losses in the first quarter. This is the first quarter they have reported losses since 2007. The revenue also dropped by 53% to VND733bn.
Viet Tien Textile Company said they were also affected when Covid-19 reached China, South Korea and the US and EU which are their major export markets. Many contracts were cancelled and demand in the domestic market also dropped. The net revenue in the first quarter was VND1.5trn. Their post-tax losses were nearly VND21bn (USD892,000).
Industrial production index grows at slowest pace in many years
The Index of Industrial Production (IIP) in the first four months of 2020 grew by about 1.8 percent year on year, the slowest pace in many years, due to COVID-19, according to the General Statistics Office (GSO).
The processing-manufacturing sector rose 3 percent; electricity production and distribution 2.9 percent; and water supply, waste and wastewater management and treatment 3.6 percent. Meanwhile, the mining industry contracted 6.8 percent.
The GSO said the complex developments of the COVID-19 pandemic around the world have led to a shortage of input materials, which has subsequently hit industrial production.
Motorized vehicle production was down 14.2 percent; beverage production 13.9 percent; and crude oil and natural gas extraction 10.8 percent.
Other key products that followed the downward trend are beer (24.1 percent), automobiles (23.8 percent), sugarcane (23.5 percent), motorcycles (16.6 percent), crude oil (12 percent), and liquefied petroleum gas (11.8 percent).
However, some industries still recorded fair growth such as medicine, pharmaceutical chemical product, and herbal material manufacturing (25.9 percent), coke and refined petroleum product production (16.9 percent), and metal ore mining (16.5 percent).
In April alone, the IIP dropped by 13.3 percent month on month and 10.5 percent year on year.
The GSO said the COVID-19 pandemic’s impacts have forced a large number of businesses to lay off employees, adding that the number of employees at industrial firms on April 1 declined 1.1 percent month on month and 1.6 percent year on year./.
Indonesia halts capital relocation to focus on COVID-19 combat
Indonesia’s state utility power company PLN said on May 1 that it will offer free electricity over six months for small-scale businesses and producers.
PLN Chairman and CEO Zulkifli Zaini said the company has begun collecting data of about 500,000 customers eligible for support.
Last month, the Indonesian Government offered electricity bill waivers for nearly 24 million households with monthly consumption of 450 VA, and 50 percent discount for another 7 million households that use 900 VA per month.
At a government meeting on April 29, President Joko Widodo announced several plans to ensure that small and medium-sized enterprises could enjoy relief packages, including free electricity.
Earlier, Indonesia announced an additional budget of over 24.8 billion USD to cope with the impacts of COVID-19./.
Building material sector eyes boon
The building material sector would be among the first to benefit from the Government’s efforts to speed up disbursement of public investment, which was identified as a growth driver as the COVID-19 pandemic cast a shadow on the economy.
According to analysts of VNDirect Securities, major growth drivers were slowing down. Specifically, exports were under pressure as global demand dropped and FDI also saw significant decline in registered capital (down by 20.9 percent to 8.6 billion USD in the first quarter).
“COVID-19 entirely changed the macro-economic landscape. We believe that public investment will play a very important role in accelerating economic growth this year as other drivers slow down,” VNDirect Securities wrote.
VNDirect forecast Vietnam’s gross domestic product (GDP) to expand at five percent this year.
VNDirect said that the Government was sending strong signals about accelerating public investment disbursement this year.
Disbursement of public investment rose by 16.4 percent to reach 59.5 trillion VND in the first quarter, or 13.2 percent of the plan for the full year.
In the 2021-22 period, the Government would increase public investment by 8.2 percent, higher than the Government’s GDP growth target set at 6.1 percent for 2020.
Budget deficit would be allowed to increase to 3.5 percent of GDP in 2021-22, from the planned rate of 3.4 percent of GDP in 2020.
According to a report by the Ministry of Finance, public investment was planned at 700 trillion VND this year, 2.2 times higher than the realised capital in 2019.
It was estimated that if all budgeted public investment was disbursed this year, GDP this year would increase by 0.42 percentage points. Public investment would focus on improving infrastructure.
According to VNDirect, component projects of the North-South Expressway would be the focus of public investment. Earlier this month, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc agreed to change the investment model of eight projects of the North-South Expressway from public-private partnership to State-invested.
Thus, all 11 component projects of the North-South Expressway would be State-invested.
The Prime Minister also urged localities to focus on speeding up land clearance for these projects so that construction of some could be started in the third quarter of this year, instead of the first quarter of 2021.
Enterprises which produced and supplied building materials would benefit from the speeding up of public investment disbursement, VNDirect said.
VNDirect estimated that around 40 percent of public investment would be spent in 11 component project of the North-South Expressway and My Thuan – Can Tho Highway.
Accordingly, the construction would need asphalt worth around 8.9 trillion VND, construction steel worth 7.6 trillion VND and cement worth 3.8 trillion VND. Demand for construction stone would also increase to around 30-35 percent of the capacity of producers./.
Industry and trade sector will promote support industry development
The Industry and Trade Ministry will promote the restructuring of industrial production sectors, especially the support industry, due to difficulties in production during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The pandemic has caused local enterprises difficulties in production because they depend on imported input materials.
Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Do Thang Hai said the ministry would focus on restructuring chains for industrial production, especially in large manufacturing and processing industries such as textiles, footwear, electronics and wooden processing sectors.
The restructuring would be carried out to promote sustainable cooperation with some partners such as South Korea, Japan and India to avoid dependence on a few partners or markets as at present.
The ministry would review the situation and demand for input materials to propose production organisation plans and solutions to diversify sources of raw materials for production and business.
It has also proposed the Government consider approval of a resolution on solutions promoting development of the support industry. Based on the resolution, the solutions on developing the support industry would be carried out in all provinces and cities nationwide, reported the Ha Noi Moi (new Ha Noi) newspaper.
Truong Thanh Hoai, director of the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Industry Department, said Viet Nam had a low localisation rate in industries and mostly imported raw materials and spare parts for domestic production.
Besides that, according to the ministry, Viet Nam’s index of industrial production in the first quarter surged 5.8 per cent year on year, lower than the growth rate of 9.2 per cent in the first quarter of 2019.
Of which, the industrial production of the manufacturing and processing industry in the first quarter of this year rose by only 7.2 per cent year on year, much lower than the growth rate of 10.9 per cent in the first quarter of last year and 15.7 per cent in the first quarter of 2018.
The low growth rate was mainly due to the COVID-19 outbreak that has affected the supply of imported raw materials for domestic industrial production, especially in the processing and manufacturing industries.
At present, domestic garment enterprises have a shortage of raw materials for processing export products. Therefore, many of them have focused on producing masks to meet high demand on the domestic market. The production has helped them to overcome the current difficulties due to available raw materials on the local market.
BuyMed gets US$2.5 million in pre-Series A funding
Local start-up BuyMed, a pharmaceutical distribution network, raised US$2.5 million in its pre-Series A funding.
According to the firm, investors include Sequoia Capital, India’s Surge early-stage accelerator programme, and Genesia Ventures. Former investor Cocoon Capital also participated in the funding, it added.
Founded in 2018, BuyMed operates Thuocsi.vn, a pharmaceutical distribution platform in the local market.
The firm announced that it has tripled annual revenue in the past 12 months and is planning to add new product lines, including cosmetics, medical devices, supplements and medical services, with the goal of becoming a “one-stop marketplace” for health supplies for healthcare providers in Southeast Asia.
BuyMed verifies suppliers on its platform, improving safety and reducing the risk of medications making their way into the unofficial market. Currently, the platform has 700 verified suppliers, distributors and manufacturers serving over 7,000 healthcare providers.
Genesia Ventures general partner Takahiro Suzuki, said: “There is still a tremendous opportunity for growth and improvement in Viet Nam’s pharmaceutical supply chain and we believe that BuyMed’s founders have the experience, execution and operational management necessary to tackle this problem.”
BuyMed Co-founder Hoang Nguyen told Viet Nam News: “There are no major multi-brand distributors in Viet Nam, so most pharmaceutical manufacturers and brands need to set up their own networks. This means the process of getting medications and other pharmaceutical supplies to healthcare providers is highly fragmented.”
Peter Nguyen, CEO and co-founder of BuyMed, told local media that the firm is committed to “supporting both pharmacies and pharmaceutical partners in times of a healthcare crisis.”
As online marketplaces like thuocsi.vn are becoming the new normal, BuyMed’s mission to improve the efficiency of the entire healthcare industry puts the company at the forefront of Viet Nam’s pharma efforts to modernise the healthcare system.
The platform now serves thousands of pharmacies, clinics and hospitals across the country — a 250 per cent growth in six months. BuyMed has also expanded its network of suppliers, distributors and manufacturers, working closely with hundreds of partners to ensure the products received by end users are delivered in a timely manner.
BuyMed aims to add other healthcare verticals including cosmetics, medical devices, supplements, and medical services to become a one-stop marketplace for healthcare practices in emerging markets, the CEO said.
Meanwhile the firm co-founder Hoang added: “Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, BuyMed has expanded its platform so more of its partners can sell online, and added safety measures like frequent warehouse and office sanitisation and a no-contact drop-off and cash collection system."
Vietnam workers adapt to international integration
Vietnamese workers are facing numerous challenges while international integration increases. They have to change their mindset and improve their working skills to meet the demand of the 4th Industrial Revolution and new Free Trade Agreements.
vietnam workers adapt to international integration hinh 0Workers need to improve themselves to meet strict requirements concerning quality of goods and services as Vietnam embraces the 4th Industrial Revolution and new-generation FTAs including the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement on Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA).
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc told a meeting with high-tech workers in Ho Chi Minh City last year “Development should depend on productivity, science and technology rather than on capital and cheap labor. Tech workers play an important role in the workforce because they can acquire new technologies of the 4th Industrial Revolution and the digital economy.”
Vietnam has promulgated policies and strategies to adapt to Industry 4.0 and effectively implement free trade agreements, creating an important legal foundation for fundamental changes in the workforce.
Phan Anh Hay, who has worked for UNILEVER Vietnam Company for more than 10 years, said “We need to innovate technologies and promote automation, digitization, and optimization and use new-generation robots to reduce costs and increase productivity. This will create a workforce of high-tech workers. The government needs to encourage enterprises to invest more in high technology, recruit high-tech workers, and organize vocational training to help workers master modern production technologies.”
Vietnamese workers have gradually mastered advanced technologies including 5G technology, the foundation of the 4th Industrial Revolution. They have been able to manufacture high-tech products of international standards. The proportion of workers with high qualifications in science and technology has increased steadily.
By signing new-generation free trade agreements with Vietnam and moving factories and production lines to the country, major economic groups have shown their appreciation for Vietnam’s potential and workforce.
Int’l arrivals to Indonesia plunge due to COVID-19
The number of foreign tourists visiting Indonesia sharply fell by 64.11 percent year on year to 470,898 in March, as the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has hindered holidaymakers from traveling, the Indonesian National Agency of Statistics (BPS) announced on May 4.
In the first quarter of 2020, international visitors to Indonesia numbered only 2.61 million, down 30.62 percent compared to the same period in 2019. In March, the occupancy rate of hotels was only 32.24 percent, down 20.64 percent year on year and 16.98 percent month on month. The average length of stay was 1.83 days, up slightly by 0.02 percent.
According to the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI), the country's tourism industry lost at least 1.5 billion USD in the first quarter due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Of the total, about 1.1 billion USD came as a result of cancelations made by tourists from China and the remaining 400 million USD by visitors from other countries.
PHRI Chairman Hariyadi B. Sukamdani said the local tourism industry is yet to benefit much from a 10.3 trillion Rp (more than 710 million USD) tourism stimulus package launched by the Government in February.
Earlier, on April 16, Indonesian Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy Wishnutama Kusubandio cut the foreign tourist arrival target in 2020 from 16 million to 5 million due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Revenue from foreign visitors was also revised down by more than half from the 20 billion USD achieved last year./.
Tourism activities in Quang Ninh resumed
Tourism destinations and activities in the northeastern coastal province of Quang Ninh were resumed from May 1 after more than one month of suspension to prevent the spread of the COVID-19.
Provincial authorities allow tourism activities in attractions of Ha Long Bay, the Yen Tu historic relic and landscape site, Quang Ninh Museum, the provincial library, Tra Co - Mong Cai national tourism site, beaches, hotels, accommodation establishments, restaurants, coffee shops and golf courses, as well as domestic travel business activities.
The Van Don international airport officially reopened commercial flights on May 4, starting with those to Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang, Phu Quoc and Nha Trang.
Disease prevention measures were still performed strictly at the airport, especially for flights returning from epidemic areas.
After the first three days of resuming tourist activities and services, all tourist destinations, hotels and restaurants in Quang Ninh have seriously maintained measures against COVID-19.
The local tourism sector is strengthening coordination with major businesses to organise tourism promotion programmes in the year, while supporting enterprises to implement tourism stimulus packages, and arranging tourism human resources training courses.
According to the provincial Department of Tourism, Quang Ninh expects to welcome between 1.54 – 4.9 million visitors in 2020./.
Hanoi serves over 28,000 visitors during 4-day holiday
Only 28,473 visited Hanoi during the four-day holiday on the occasion of the National Reunification Day and May Day holiday (April 30 – May 3), dropping nearly 92 percent compared to the same period last year due to impact from the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the municipal Department of Tourism.
Of the number, international visitors staying in Hanoi totaled 1,473, while domestic tourists to the capital city reached about 27,000, down 97.2 percent and 90.3 percent year-on-year, respectively.
Total revenue from tourism activities was estimated at 91 billion VND (3.8 million USD), down 85.2 percent.
According to data from Hanoi Immigration Department, during the holiday, international holiday-makers to Hanoi were from 50 countries and territories worldwide.
Local travel businesses have yet to organise tours for travelers, while a number of resorts and tourist sites are still temporarily closed./.
Indonesia to invest 5.3 billion USD in toll road projects
The Indonesian government will offer six toll road projects with a combined value of 80.5 trillion Rp (5.3 billion USD) to investors this year, with an aim to recover the economy after the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Jakarta Post.
The projects consist of five private toll road projects and an 8.7 trillion Rp government project for highway bridges connecting Batam Island with the nearby islands of Tanjung Sauh, Buau and Bintan in Riau Islands province.
The Public Works and Housing Ministry is offering the investment projects in the form of public private partnership (PPP), according to Minister Basuki Hadimulyono.
“All projects have great economic and financial value such as the Patimban toll road access, which I think will be highly profitable because Patimban will have a container port for exporting vehicles,” Basuki said on April 30 during the online market sounding for the projects.
Basuki was referring to the Japan-funded deep sea port in Patimban, West Java, one of the government’s national strategic projects. The Patimban Deep Seaport is to be Indonesia’s export hub.
One of the private projects – or unsolicited proposals (USPs) – is the 32.4-km Semanan-Balaraja toll road connecting Jakarta and Tangerang, which needs an estimated 15.5 trillion Rp in investment.
Other projects include the Cikunir-Ulujami elevated toll road valued at 21.5 trillion Rp, to be constructed above the Jakarta Outer Ring Road (JORR), and the 61.5km South Sentul-West Karawang toll road project valued at 15.3 trillion Rp.
In Central Java, private companies will be invited to bid on the 11.7 trillion Rp Patimban toll road access project and the 8.7 trillion Rp Semarang Port toll road project to connect the provincial capital with the seaport.
Basuki said that the ministry was pushing forward with its infrastructure projects so that the government would be better prepared for the post-pandemic economic rebound.
The documents for the six new infrastructure projects are being finalised for auctioning in the third and fourth quarters of 2020, according to the ministry.
PPP and financial engineering deputy director Novie Andriani of the National Development Planning Board (Bappenas) said on the same occasion that the projects are part of the government’s plan to build 2,000 km of toll roads under the 2020-2024 National Medium-Term Development Plan (RPJMN).
Toll roads are among the 41 priority projects in the 2020-2024 RPJMN, and have a combined estimated value of 7.4 quadrillion Rp.
The 2020-2024 RPJMN is expected to help transform the economy toward President Joko Widodo’s goal for Indonesia to become one of the top five economies in the world by 2045 and achieve a poverty rate of almost zero percent./.
Nearly 129 million USD mobilised from G-bond auctions during April
The Hanoi Stock Exchange (HNX) held 16 auctions in April, mobilising over 3 trillion VND (more than 128.8 million USD) worth of G-bonds, down 68 percent from March.
The success ratio at the auctions was only 18.6 percent.
Interest rates on successfully-bid bonds issued by the State Treasury rose by between 0.01 and 0.48 percent in April compared to March, with 10-year and 15-year bonds experiencing the strongest rise, of 0.32 percent.
On the secondary G-bond market, trading volumes averaged more than 7 billion VND, a month-on-month decline of 49 percent. Transacted volumes through repurchasing agreements (repos) accounted for 54.4 percent of the total trading volume.
Total outright purchases of G-bonds in the month hit over 63.8 trillion VND, down 23.7 percent against the previous month, while the total trading volume of G-bonds via repos was valued at 76.2 trillion VND, down 36.6 percent against March.
Foreign investors made outright purchases of more than 4.5 trillion VND, outright sales of some 3.2 trillion VND, and repos sales of 194 billion VND.
Total listed G-bonds were valued at nearly 1.11 quadrillion VND as at April 29./.
Thua Thien-Hue welcomes back tourists over recent holiday
The central province of Thua Thien-Hue welcomed about 12,500 visitors during the Liberation Day (April 30) and May Day (May 1) holiday last weekend, signalling the recovery of local tourism post-COVID-19.
Some 3,600 visitors stayed overnight and were primarily from Hanoi, Da Nang, and northern and central provinces, according to the provincial Department of Tourism. Many resorts and accommodation facilities along Thuan An and Lang Co beaches were 30 to 50 percent occupied during the four-day holiday.
The Complex of Hue Monuments is offering free admission to visitors from April 30 to May 7 while tightening precautionary measures against the SARS-CoV-2 that causes the pandemic. Tourists from outside of Thua Thien-Hue are required to fill out a health declaration, use hand sanitiser, and don masks before entering sites.
The province plans to focus on the domestic market during the recovery stage. From now to the end of the year it will offer various discounts on entry tickets to local tourist sites in order to boost demand, and will also host a nationwide travel conference to connect providers of accommodation and tourism services while promoting Hue as a safe destination.
The 11th Hue Festival will be held from August 28 to September 2, as scheduled.
The province has issued separate sets of standards for attraction, accommodation, and tourism service providers and travel agencies, which must be met for them to be verified as “safe” for tourists./.
Thailand to kick off campaign to stimulate domestic tourism
The Tourism Council of Thailand is preparing to start its “We Love Thailand” campaign to stimulate domestic tourism after the COVID-19 situation eases, said its President Chairat Trirattanajarasporn.
The campaign, to be implemented in collaboration with the Tourism and Sports Ministry and the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), will promote new local products and attractions, especially those involving tourism communities, he said.
Chairat also said domestic tourism needs to be promoted for one to two years while the market waits for foreign tourists to regain confidence.
In the initial phase, it is expected that people from China, the Republic of Korea or ASEAN countries would return to Thailand, according to him.
“Thailand needs Chinese tourists as we recover,” Chairat added. “When the situation becomes safe again, Chinese will return to Thailand as our country is near. Moreover, the Chinese market has the capacity to expand.”
Meanwhile, the Tourism and Sports Ministry has an idea of providing long-stay tour packages for foreign tourists who want to visit coronavirus-free areas.
TAT predicted that Thailand could receive only 16 million international visitors in 2020, much lower than the target of 40 million set before the COVID-19 outbreak. Tthe number of foreign visitors to Thailand this year are forecast to decline by 24 million, resulting in a loss of 1.9 trillion THB in revenue. Last year, the country welcomed a record 39.8 million foreign tourists.
The agency also estimated that the number of domestic trips in Thailand this year will reach only 60 million, far behind the target of 172 million set earlier and much lower than 167 million recorded in 2019.
Total revenue from foreign and domestic tourists may amount to only 1.12 trillion THB, down 62.8 percent from 3.01 trillion THB last year.
Statistics show that the number of foreign tourist arrivals to Thailand in the first quarter of 202020 was only 6.7 million, down 38 percent year on year.
According to data from Thailand's Tourism and Sports Ministry, the country's tourism revenue dropped nearly 40 percent in the first quarter of 2020 to 335 billion THB (more than 10 billion USD), 222 billion THB lower than that of the same period last year./.
Cambodia’s rice exports surge in first four months
Cambodian Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries Veng Sakhon has said that his country exported 300,000 tonnes of rice in the first four months of this year, up nearly 40.5 percent year-on-year.
Agriculture exports via official channels surpassed 2 million tonnes while those through unofficial ones stood at 1 million tonnes.
The Khmer Times newspaper quoted Sakhon as saying that in April, Cambodia shipped 5,500 tonnes of tapioca and 4,500 tonnes of fresh cassava to Thailand and Vietnam; 800 tonnes of cashew nut to Vietnam; 1,982 tonnes of banana to China, Vietnam, and Japan; and 150 tonnes of mango to Thailand, Vietnam, France, Russia, the Republic of Korea, and Hong Kong (China).
During the four months, the country also exported more than 9,300 tonnes of tapioca, 33,200 tonnes of corn, 2,250 tonnes of pepper, 44 tonnes of vegetables, 420 tonnes of tobacco, 186,200 tonnes of cashew nut, more than 42 tonnes of mango, and other farm produce.
It produced a total of 31 million tonnes of food last year, earning of 10 billion USD, and shipped over 620,200 tonnes of rice overseas for around 500 million USD./.
Lai Chau province invites investment in raft of sectors
The northern mountainous province of Lai Chau introduced its strengths and called for investment to different fields during a meeting with the Vietnam-Korea Businessmen and Investment Association (VKBIA) on May 4.
Chairman of the Lai Chau Provincial People’s Committee Tran Tien Dung said that with a large land area, temperate climate, and diverse soil types, Lai Chau boasts the conditions necessary for developing high-quality agricultural and forestry products.
Its many rivers and springs also allow for the development of small- and medium-sized hydropower plants, aquaculture, and reservoir tourism.
The diversity of local natural resources also makes the province ideal for mining and the production of building materials. Upgrades on the way for the Ma Lu Thang National Border Gate to reach international standards and an abundant workforce are also local advantages, according to Dung.
He added that Lai Chau will focus on attracting investment in concentrated agricultural production to develop local specialties. It will also boost the application of high technology in agriculture, connectivity between businesses and farmers, sustainable forestry development, renewable energy, mining, building materials production, agricultural and forestry product processing, economic activities at border gates, and tourism.
The official pledged that local authorities will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with enterprises, actively reform administrative procedures, improve the business climate, and create the best possible conditions for investments in the province.
For his part, VKBIA Chairman Tran Hai Linh touched on fields where investors from the Republic of Korea seek opportunities.
He also spoke of the coordination in the organisation of investment promotion events, human resources training, border trade, high-quality agriculture, renewable energy, and tourism development.
The VKBIA also presented medical supplies to Lai Chau to help it fight COVID-19./.
Can Tho working to revive tourism
The Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism in the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho has released a plan to recover the local tourism sector post-COVID-19.
It forecast that international tourists may only return to Vietnam at the end of this year or early 2021 because most countries are still coping with the pandemic.
Domestic travellers are more likely to take a trip as Vietnam has curbed the spread of the disease well and been easing social distancing measures.
Can Tho will therefore target local holidaymakers, especially the young.
Department Director Nguyen Khanh Tung said the city will prioritise localities nearby such as HCM City, southern provinces, and Mekong Delta provinces, as well as faraway localities like Hanoi, Da Nang, and provinces with air links to Can Tho.
Foreign targets will include Taiwan (China), the Republic of Korea, Malaysia, and Thailand after the epidemic is brought under control.
The tourism sector will coordinate with relevant agencies to support businesses in resuming operations and implement the city’s relief packages for those affected by COVID-19.
Can Tho city will be promoted as a safe, friendly, high-end destination, and a number of tourism promotional packages will be created.
According to the city’s Department of Planning and Investment, tourism has been one of the sectors hardest hit by COVID-19. The number of out-bound travellers dropped 76.3 percent and domestic travellers were down 74.4 percent in the first four months of this year.
Its revenue also declined 31.4 percent year-on-year in the period./.
Wind power plant set to operate in Ninh Thuan
Technical operation for 16 wind turbines began at a wind-power farm in the south-central province of Ninh Thuan on May 2.
The turbines will supply 179 million kilowatts per hour (kWh) of electricity per year from the second half of this year.
A source from Trung Nam Group told Viet Nam News that the 16 wind turbines, which were built at the solar-wind power farm complex in the province from early this year, were technically qualified in a trial operation on May 2.
The 16-turbine second stage of the project, designed with a capacity of 64 Megawatts (MW), will supply renewable energy for the national grid later this year.
According to the group, 17 wind turbines were built in the first stage, which was completed last April, designed with 40MW to supply 110 million kWh per year for the national grid.
It said the wind-power project, which was invested with total capital of 600 million USD in three stages, promises to provide more green energy sources for the country.
A 12-wind turbine farm with 48MW capacity will start construction in the third quarter this year.
Trung Nam said it had been speeding up the construction of a solar power project with a total capacity of 450MW.
It is expected that the solar-wind power farm complex will supply a total 950 million kWh per year for the country’s grid.
To date, Ninh Thuan has approved 13 wind power projects with a designed capacity of 680MW. Of the total, three are already operational./.
Da Lat welcomes 58,000 tourists during national holiday
The resort city of Da Lat, a popular destination in the Central Highland province of Lam Dong, greeted 58,000 tourists during the Liberation of the South and National Reunification Day (April 30) and International Labour Day (May 1).
Though the figure showed a year-on-year decline of 35 percent, it was a good sign after the prolonged COVID-19 outbreak, according to local authorities.
The total included 1,300 international visitors.
Since the Government eased social distancing, local tourist sites have been re-opened to holidaymakers.
Most vacationers were aware of preventive measures and wore face masks while keeping a minimum physical distance.
Vice Chairwoman of the Da Lat People’s Committee Tran Thi Vu Loan said the city has requested travel agencies to fully implement preventive measures.
Famous for its mild climate all year round, Da Lat has two distinct seasons, the rainy and the sunny season. The rainy season usually begins in May and finishes in October.
It is also well-known for its beautiful French colonial architecture, such as King Bao Dai’s Palace, Ngo Dinh Diem and Nguyen Cao Ky’s villas, and the Hang Nga villas./.
Indonesia's largest e-commerce platform probes alleged data leak
Tokopedia, Indonesia's largest e-commerce platform, said it was investigating an attempted hack and claims that the details of millions of its users had been leaked online.
The platform has found that there had been an attempt to steal data from Tokopedia users, a spokesman of the company said in a statement on May 2.
However, Tokopedia ensured that crucial information such as passwords remains successfully protected behind encryption, the statement said, adding that at this moment, the company continued to investigate further into this matter and there was no additional information that it can share.
Data breach monitoring firm Under the Breach published a Twitter post the same day showing screenshots from an unnamed individual who claimed he had acquired the personal details of 15 million Tokopedia users during a hack on the e-commerce site in March.
According to the screenshots, which show names, emails and birthdays of the users, the hacker alleged he or she was possessing a much bigger user database and asked for assistance to "crack" users' passwords.
Under the Breach, which monitors cyber crime, said on May 3 the hacker had updated the post to offer the details of 91 million users for 5,000 USD on the Darknet. The firm shared a screenshot of the hacker's proposed offer posted online.
Backed by 2 billion USD in funding from investors including SoftBank Group Corp's Vision Fund and Alibaba, Tokopedia, whose founder and CEO William Tanuwijaya is one of the country's most prominent tech entrepreneurs, claims more than 90 million monthly active users./.
Number of new firms in Hanoi in January-April down 13.1 percent
The number of new firms set up in Hanoi in the period from January-April dropped 13.1 percent from the same period in 2019 to 7,468, but the combined registered capital of new enterprises shot up 46.5 percent to over 118 trillion VND (nearly 5.1 billion USD).
According to Bui Anh Tuan, director of the Business Registration Management Agency under the Ministry of Planning and Investment, the decline in new firms reflected the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic on production and business. On the other hand, it also implied that businesses are waiting for clearer opportunities after society shifts to a “new normal” situation after the epidemic is put under control.
Sharing his view, Chairman of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry Vu Tien Loc noted that despite the decrease in number similarly to the general trend in the country, the registered capital of new firms in Hanoi surged by 46.5 percent while the national figure dropped by 17.9 percent.
He said the positive statistics showed the improved environment for investment and business in Hanoi.
The capital city has taken concerted measures to support businesses in the context of the COVID-19 epidemic. The municipal People’s Committee has issued a plan to implement the Government’s Resolution 02/NQ-CP on continuing to implement key tasks and solutions to improve business environment and enhance national competitiveness in 2020.
Under the plan, Hanoi aims to maintain its place among the top 10 localities in the PCI (Provincial Competitive Index), and continue to meet or surpass indications on business environment. The city is pushing its departments and agencies to update and publish 100 percent of decisions, policies and administrative procedures on their websites.
Director of the city’s Department of Planning and Investment Nguyen Manh Quyen said besides maintaining support for business establishment, the city is making preparations to seize opportunities brought about by free trade deals that Vietnam has signed.
He said Hanoi will try to keep the rate of on-line business registration at 100 percent, and the rate of business filing and paying tax online at over 98 percent./.
The Economist: Vietnam among safe economies in wake of COVID-19
Vietnam has been listed as the 12th strongest economy, according to The Economist’s report on the financial strength of the 66 emerging economies in the wake of the COVID-19 fallout.
The ranking examines the vulnerability of selected economies across four potential sources of peril – public debt, foreign debt and cost of borrowing and reserve cover.
The Economist calculated their likely foreign payments this year (their current-account deficit plus their foreign-debt payments) and compare this with their stock of foreign-exchange reserves. A country’s rank on each of these indicators is then averaged to determine its overall standing.
Vietnam is in the safe group thanks to stable and strong financial indicators.
Accordingly, more than 30 emerging economies are facing great pressure, the worst being Lebanon and Venezuela.
Botswana tops the list of the safe economies, followed by Taiwan (China) and the Republic of Korea.
The Economist said that most of the economies were strong enough to overcome the pandemic. The 30 weakest economies was relatively small, accounting for only 11 percent of the total GDP of the 66 economies.
It said the COVID-19 hurts emerging economies by locking down their populations, damaging their export earnings and deterring foreign capital.
Even if the pandemic fades in the second half of this year, GDP in developing countries, measured at purchasing-power parity, will be 6.6 percent smaller than the IMF’s forecast in October, states the report./.