BUSINESS NEWS HEADLINES MAY 8

Trade turnover of garment and textile plunges in first four months

BUSINESS NEWS HEADLINES MAY 8

The trade turnover of the garment and textile sector in the first four months reported on-year decreases of 6.6 per cent in terms of export turnover to $10.46 billion and 9 per cent in material import turnover to $6.4 billion.

According to the statistics published by the Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association (Vitas), the total import-export turnover of the garment and textile sector in the first four months was $17.04 billion. The yarn export turnover saw a deep decline by 12 per cent to $1.18 billion and nonwoven fabric by 22 per cent.

The import turnover for fabric and raw cotton was down 11 and 8 per cent to $3.63 trillion and $345 million, respectively.

The trade surplus of this industry in the first four months was $5.38 billion, signifying a decrease of 3.19 per cent on-year.

The two major reasons of these bleak results come from the impact of the US-China trade war and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Vitas forecast that the garment and textile industry’s future will remain bleak this year with the plunge in both import-export turnover for the whole year. Vitas issued numerous scripts for this industry. Accordingly, by the most optimistic expectations, the trade turnover of this sector will touch $35 billion, down 10 per cent on-year and the worst case scenario is $30-31 billion.

Textiles is one of the industries using the highest number of workers, most of whom are unable to switch to other jobs in the current situation. Therefore, maintaining employment and income for workers is not only a vital business problem but also a great impact on society.

These enterprises have proposed the government to quickly disburse the approved economic stimulus packages and consider the partial use of the unemployment insurance fund and social insurance fund to help businesses continue paying their workers.

Under the growing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, face mask production is considered a viable solution for garment companies to maintain operations and offset losses from lower demand for garments.

According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, 50 local garment firms have reported that they could produce eight million face masks per day, or around 200 million per month.

The figure would be higher if the nationwide production capacity is taken into account, said the ministry, thus Vietnam is capable of becoming a major exporter of cloth face masks in the world, the governmental portal reported, citing the ministry.

10 solutions put forward to reopen the economy

At the Ho Chi Minh City economic development webinar, Nguyen Thien Nhan, Secretary of Ho Chi Minh City Party Committee presented his concerns over local businesses going bankrupt in the context of COVID-19 and offered 10 solutions for an economic recovery.

Secretary Nhan said that the government and citizens need to drastically focus on fighting and preventing the COVID-19 pandemic. Although Vietnam has made impressive achievements in the fight against the pandemic, people need to continue following the countermeasures to protect themselves. Foreigners who pose a high risk of transmitting the virus need to be strictly quarantined.

Next, it is reasonable time to recover domestic operations and revive the economy. He states in the early stage of re-opening the economy, the government needs to support firms, prevent them from going into bankruptcy by partly paying their workers for a few months. According to Nhan, the government needs to assist companies’ workers because without them it will be hard for companies to resume operations. To help company retain their workers, the Ho Chi Minh City’s People Committee is required to deploy the support packages of both the government and the city itself.

After long time having difficult with imported material and accesories from affected countries such as China, Nhan encouraged businesses to produce or shift to domestic supply chains instead of importing goods from abroad. He also highlighted the importance of local production such as equipment, tools, and materials.

Alongside travel companies, he urged the government and companies to co-operate with commercial partners in investing in and increasing tourism, helping to re-open the economy in proper time.

The pandemic has shed light for information and digital technology, as the result of market trend of digital change, the secrectary suggested accelerating digital transformation among businesses, digitalising all sectors of the economy and infrastructure belonging to the city, and building out intelligent management within government agencies and companies. With innovation programmes and start-up businesses, the government needs to support and accompany with them.

Additionally, Nhan also called on the city authority to enhance public investments in the city. It is planned that the city will disburse 80 per cent of the total value of projects until October this year. New industrial and high-tech zones which are at the second stage need to be pushed forward construction. Also, the government is urged to supports and promote the real estate market, inciting it to stronger development to overcome COVID-19.

Moreover, it is necessity to develop the workforce as well as take advantages of talented of the city, and the nation. These resouces will help build up plans and projects to upgrade the city's management, infrastructure, and culture.

Coutries around the world could get out of the impacts of the pandemic and switch focus for pushing their economy, however, every country has its own ways to get better. Therefore, it is essential for Vietnam to re-open its market and spur tourism to other countries in different periods.

The biggest challenge to the country now is how to discover and handle 6 million travellers who could come into Vietnam since May 2020.

Bleak business result may prevent Hoa Binh Construction developing planned projects

Plunging revenue and profit in the first quarter may hinder Hoa Binh Construction Group in arranging money to contribute to the joint venture developing the Nghi Son section of National Highway 45 under the Eastern Cluster of the North-South Expressway as well as other projects signed in the first three months.

According to the financial statement for the first quarter of this year, Hoa Binh Construction acquired VND5.5 billion ($239,130) in after-tax profit, a decline of 95 per cent compared to the fourth quarter of 2019 and a record low in the last six years.

In addition, its net revenue decreased by 34 per cent on-year to VND2.4 trillion ($104.35 million). As of March 31, its total owners' equity was VND15 trillion ($652.17 million), down VND2 trillion ($86.96 million) on-year.

Hoa Binh Construction affirmed that COVID-19 caused delays in disbursing investment capital, impacting the group’s construction operations.

In addition, the steady decline in apartment supply since 2018 in collaboration with delays in construction due to legal difficulties are another reason behind the bleak business results.

Thus, the group set the target to acquire VND14 trillion ($608.7 million) in revenue and VND200 billion ($8.7 million), signifying decreases of 25 and 52 per cent.

In this first quarter, the group signed contracts to develop two projects, namely Complex Building invested by Golden Hill Investment JSC and The Metropole Thu Thiem invested by Quoc Loc Phat JSC in collaboration with Son Kim Land.

In addition, Hoa Binh is a member in the joint venture of Cienco 4, Hoa Binh Construction Group, Thuan An Trading and Development Construction JSC,Newcity Group JSC, and 18 Transport Construction JSC. The joint venture will develop the Nghi Son section of National Highway 45 under the Eastern Cluster of the North-South Expressway.

An Khang pharmacy made some losses after merging with Mobile World

The An Khang pharmacy chain has lost an estimated VND3 billion ($130,430) in the first quarter, causing a loss of VND1.4 billion ($60,870) to Mobile World Group.

According to the consolidated financial statement for the first quarter of 2020 of Mobile World Investment Corporation (MWG), the company has suffered a loss of VND1.4 billion ($60,870) after its 49 per cent interest in An Khang Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. (originally Phuc An Khang) in the first quarter. This means that An Khang has lost around VND3 billion ($130,000) in the first quarter.

Thus, two years after the acquisition, MWG lost VND7 billion ($304,350) on the An Khang pharmaceutical chain, calculated by its ownership ratio in the company. Thus, the total losses of An Khang are estimated at around VND14.3 billion ($621,740) over the last two years.

MWG announced the acquisition of An Khang at the end of 2017, when the market of mobile phones and electronics was reaching the saturation point. However, MWG decided to contribute 49 per cent of the shares, equivalent to VND62 billion ($2.7 million), according to MWG's financial statement.

According to market researcher Business Monitor International (BMI), the scale of the pharmaceuticals market is projected at $5.3 billion. Of this, hospitals make up 70 per cent of the market share, and only 30 per cent belongs to retailers (pharmacies), equalling $1.6 billion for about 57,000 pharmacies across the country.

In addition to mobile phones, pharmaceuticals are the second promising sector for FPT Retail (FRT). After successfully operating the Long Chau pharmacy chain, FRT expected to expand to 220 stores across the country. Operating pharmaceutical since the end of 2018, this arm gained VND511 billion ($22.2 million) in revenue, equivalent to 3 per cent of the parent company's net revenue in 2019. This chain also opened new 50 stores, raising the number to 70.

Habeco sustains losses in first quarter from Decree 100 and COVID-19

Similar to Sabeco, Habeco has reported dark business results in the first quarter of this year due to the double impacts of Decree No.100/2019/ND-CP and the COVID-19 outbreak.

Habeco has published its consolida.ted financial report for the first quarter of this year. Accordingly, its net revenue was VND744 billion ($32.35 million), signifying a decrease of 51 per cent on-year. In addition, it reported loss of VND98.33 billion ($4.28 million) on-year.

Meanwhile, sales expenditures saw a light decrease of 3 per cent to VND185 billion ($8 million) while management costs increased by 4 per cent to VND81 billion ($3.5 million).

As of the first quarter of this year, the total assets were VND6.82 trillion ($296.5 million), down 12 per cent year-to-date. The value of unsold products hiked by 17.5 per cent to VND751 billion ($32.65 million).

Regarding Sabeco – Vietnam’s largest brewer – Bao Viet Securities (BVSC) believes that 2020 will be a challenging year for the company and has drawn up several scenarios for business in 2020, most of which suggest that revenue will decrease.

In a positive scenario of a 5 per cent increase in beer consumption, Sabeco can achieve a revenue of VND40 trillion ($1.74 billion) and profit of VND5.7 trillion ($247.83 million). In the worst-case scenario of a 20 per cent fall in beer consumption, Sabeco may post a revenue of VND31 trillion ($1.35 billion) and profit of VND4 trillion ($173.9 million), which is the lowest growth in the past three years.

According to BVSC, the two main sources of headwind this year will be Decree No.100/2019/ND-CP and the COVID-19 outbreak that slow down beer and alcohol consumption in Vietnam.

The latest report about the brewery industry by SSI Research also changed its view from neutral in 2020 to negative in the short term when predicting the impact of Decree 100 and the coronavirus outbreak.

“When the decree took effect, we warned that beer consumption would decrease considerably. With the coronavirus spread, consumers tend to spend less time on meetings, which will also cause adverse effects to the brewery industry, at least in the first quarter,” the report reads.

Trung Nam Group to set 16 wind turbines in service in Ninh Thuan

16 wind turbines are expected to be launched soon in the south-central province of Ninh Thuan as part of a $600 million solar and wind farm complex invested by Trung nam Group.

So far, Ninh Thuan has approved 13 wind power projects with a designed capacity of 680MW and has already put three into operation.

One of these projects is a solar-wind farm complex invested by Trung Nam Group. The complex, when completed, will supply a total of 950 kWh per year to the national grid. The wind farm components of the project will be rolled out in three phases, using a total investment capital of $600 million.

With the first phase already completed, a source from Trung Nam Group revealed that the 16 wind turbines of the second phase were certified for technical standards in a trial operation a few days ago.

These turbines were reportedly built at the solar wind power farm complex in Ninh Thuan earlier this year, according to Vietnam News Agency.

Furthermore, they are slated to provide 179 million kWh of electricity annually from the third quarter of 2020.

Experts are rather optimistic that the wind power project would make the grade, producing more green energy for the country.

In the first stage, 17 wind turbines have been completed last year, adding 40MW or 110 million kWh per year to the national grid.

The 16-turbine second stage, designed with a capacity of 64MW, will start producing renewable energy later this year.

Besides, the groundwork for the 12-turbine third phase with 48MW capacity will be put underway in the third quarter of this year.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) has proposed the government to maintain the feed-in tariff for wind power until December 2023 due to the negative effect of COVID-19, and then conduct bids and auctions to select investors for new projects.

To date, only a few wind farms have been put into operation for a variety of reasons, including difficulties related to the Law on Planning, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and roadblocks arising during construction.

Names of two contractors for National Highway 45 - Nghi Son Section disclosed

The names of the two contractors who will construct the Nghi Son section of National Highway 45 under the Eastern Cluster of the North-South Expressway have been revealed.

As per the decision of (which authority), two joint ventures have been selected as contractors of the large-scale infrastructure project. The first is the joint venture of Cienco 4, Hoa Binh Construction Group, Thuan An Trading and Development Construction JSC,Newcity Group JSC, and 18 Transport Construction JSC. The other joint venture includes Licogi 16, Dien Phuc Co., Ltd., FECON JSC, 468 Construction and Consultancy Investment JSC, and FECON Infrastructure JSC.

The Nghi Son section of National Highway 45 is one of the eight sections of the Eastern Cluster of the North-South Expressway that will be constructed under the public-private partnership (PPP) model.

This section is 43 kilometres long, stretching from Nong Cong district to Tinh Gia district in Thanh Hoa province.

The project is designed to have four lanes with the total investment capital of VND6.33 trillion ($275.2 million), VND2.03 trillion ($88.26 million) of which will come from the state budget.

Previously, the Ministry of Transport selected five local investors to join the bidding for the construction of the Eastern Cluster of the North-South Expressway after four months of filtering dossiers in the preliminary round.

Two joint ventures were chosen to bid for the 50km Nghi Son-Dien Chau section: the joint venture of Hoa Hiep Co., Ltd., Cienco 4, Pink Mountain Investment Co., Ltd., Vietnam Construction JSC No.2 (the first joint venture) and the joint venture of Tan Nam Construction Co., Ltd., Vinaconex, and Thai Son Traffic Work Construction Corporation.

This component project has a total investment capital of VND8.38 trillion ($364.35 million), VND2.55 trillion ($110.87 million) of which comes from the state budget.

For the Dien Chau-Bai Vot section, three investors were selected: the first joint venture applying for the Nghi Son-Dien Chau section, the joint venture of Vinaconex, Tan Nam, and HCJ JSC, and another joint venture consisting of five local companies.

The construction of this component project is estimated to cost VND13.3 trillion ($578.26 million), VND8.07 trillion ($350.87 million) of which will be taken from the state budget.

The Eastern Cluster of the North-South Expressway is a priority national investment projects in 2017-2020 and includes 11 sub-projects with the total length of 654km running through 13 provinces and cities.

The prime minister asked to kick off the construction of these 11 sub-projects in August this year.

Ba Ria-Vung Tau gears towards more inclusive development

Taking advantage of its abundant natural resources, as well as the robust petroleum sector and seaport development, the southern province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau is deploying a raft of measures with the target of growing into a dynamic zone with sustainable development.

Ba Ria-Vung Tau Department of Construction has proposed revising the planning scheme of functional zones in Go Gang Island, a popular venue for domestic and international visitors located in Long Son commune, about three kilometres south-west of Vung Tau city.

Boasting scenic beauty and a favourable location, Go Gang Island is regarded as a launching pad to spur the development of a new economic zone in the province.

If the proposal comes to fruition, the island would consist of eight different subzones over nearly 1,400 hectares for an estimated population of around 65,000, including housing and functional complexes, public spaces, green trees and parks, water landscaping, technical infrastructure, an entertainment site, airport and associated services, and a local fishing centre. The land earmarked for urban construction is set at nearly 800 hectares, accounting for 57 per cent of the total available area.

When Go Gang Airport becomes operational, about 200ha would be allocated to the development of new urban areas in the province. Alongside this, the investors have expressed a desire to engage in two major new urban development projects. The first, covering 150ha of the existing Vung Tau Airport space, will consist of an urban complex, a central park, mixed trade services and transshipment centre, and a finance and technology centre.

The second project, 270ha in Vung Tau city’s Ward 12, is set to consist of a complete 60ha eco resort, a 20ha plot for building a trade centre and office complex, a 15ha large-scale trade centre, a 25ha marina urban area, a sports centre over 15ha, 30ha of low-rise commercial buildings, and a new residential area attached to an existing village of over 60ha.

Another measure relates to the province’s commitment to have in place a seamless transport infrastructure system. Accordingly, as well as expanding aviation transport, Ba Ria-Vung Tau is accelerating the pace of local road projects, particularly constructing Bien Hoa-Vung Tau Expressway.

National Highway 51 has been overloaded in recent years. This is attributable to traffic volume surging more than 30 per cent over the forecast level, plus rapid urbanisation along the road.

This bottleneck could be resolved by ramping up the progress of Bien Hoa-Vung Tau Expressway. The province’s relevant agencies are stepping up efforts to be able to get the project off the ground in the near future.

The highway project is set to kickstart construction in 2021 and reach completion two years later, from there facilitating travel between the province and other localities in the southern key economic zone.

Besides the highway project, the province is seeking approval for a rail route to the Cai Mep-Thi Vai port complex under the public-private partnership model.

The province is also working on a number of other transport infrastructure projects, such as Phuoc An Bridge, Long Son-Cai Mep Road, and many more.

This year, the estimated cost of implementing the province’s key transport projects comes to around VND912 billion ($39.6 million).

Ba Ria-Vung Tau also plans to develop the local tourism sector by capitalising on its bountiful natural resources, such as its 300km-plus coastline and the Con Dao archipelago.

If the province’s tourism development strategy goes to plan, by 2025 it would welcome 9.6 million visitors (including 1.4 million foreigners), an 11-13 per cent rise against the present time. The sector aims to secure VND31 trillion ($1.34 billion) in revenue by 2025 with an annual growth of 30-35 per cent during the period. The scheme includes a list of projects and programmes given priority for investment to 2025, such as a tourism-oriented urban area in Vung Tau city, two resorts (at Con Dao and Long Hai-Phuoc Hai), and implementing four tourism development programmes on human resources development and training; promotion of local tourism brands; preservation, conservation, and development of local resources, and development of key tourism infrastructure.

Posco capital expansion at odds with inferior results

South Korea-based steelmaker Posco is making steps to reinforce its global supply chains for future growth through overseas investments, including in Vietnam. However, it is not an easy path in the context of the ongoing pandemic, and the group’s poor performance.

Posco is planning to pour ₩21.2 billion ($17.22 million) in Posco SS Vina JSC until 2022, raising its current investment capital in the Vietnamese joint venture to $682.2 million.

With the new investment, Posco will frontload ₩11.1 billion ($9.1 million) this year, while it is also ramping up its automotive steel plate plant in Indonesia and the Czech Republic with a total of more than ₩54.4 billion ($44.2 million) for this year.

The move aims to improve the subsidiary’s production efficiency and reduce its expenses. South Korea’s largest steelmaker is keeping on track, but the task is proving increasingly difficult, at least in the Vietnamese market where Posco SS Vina has failed to turn a profit.

Based in the southern province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Posco SS Vina was established in 2010 to produce the world’s highest-quality h-section, sheet pile, and deformed bars by grafting using the steel technology of Posco, with up-to-date melting and rolling facilities.

As of the end of last December, Posco SS Vina JSC (formerly, Posco SS VINA Co., Ltd.) recognised impairment losses amounting to ₩204.546 billion ($166.1 million) since recoverable amount based on value-in-use is less than its carrying amount, stated Posco’s consolidated financial statement for 2019 released late April.

“Posco SS Vina has been in a difficult situation due to intensified market competition in Vietnam. Rebar is traditionally a red-ocean market and competition in the h-beam market is also fierce as supplies from Southeast Asia are flowing in. The management is well aware that it is difficult to be sustainable under these conditions and are considering various options to stabilise business,” read Posco’s report.

The Posco SS Vina mill began operation in 2015 with an output target of about one million tonnes per year, but has never been able to turn a profit. Failing to get profit in its subsidiary, Posco sold 49 per cent in the subsidiary to Japan’s Yamato Kogyo Group late last year.

Selling the shares at Posco SS Vina is said to be aimed at focusing more on structural steel products. However, the whole steel market has witnessed a heavy slump due to the global health crisis and competition with Chinese steel products.

Even prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, ratings agency Moody’s had already cut outlook for the steel industries in the United States (since October 2019), Europe (May 2019), and Asia (August 2019) based on weak fundamentals. Thus, the fate of Posco SS Vina continues to hang in the balance.

Posco’s report noted, “Auto steel is more affected than other products due to the pandemic and halted automaker operations. Thus, we expect the sales ratio of auto steel to decrease, especially in the second quarter. To better cope with the demand condition, we have to adjust our sales mix flexibly. Weakening export sales will be directed to the domestic market.”

Home appliances will see almost no change from the pandemic fallout and Posco is still in talks with shipbuilders. The distribution and pipe-making markets are highly affected by global prices, so Posco will respond to a possible drop of prices with flexibility. The company had to cut its 2020 revenue target to ₩57.5 trillion ($46.7 billion) from ₩63.8 trillion ($51.8 billion).

 

Posco is seeking to improve its presence across Southeast Asia. In Vietnam, Posco has many subsidiaries including Posco E&C Vietnam, Posco International Vietnam Co., Ltd., Posco ICT Vietnam, Posco Vietnam Holdings, and Posco Vietnam Processsing Center Co., Ltd., among others.

Despite the implementation of many large projects in Vietnam, some of the group’s subsidiaries have been encountering a series of unexpected crises and many years of consecutive losses.

Indonesian gov’t to broaden loan interest subsidies due to COVID-19

The Indonesian government will broaden its loan interest subsidies as part of a debt relief programme for those affected by COVID-19.

The subsidies include mortgage loans (KPR), automotive loans (KKB), and loans taken out by micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

The Indonesian government is working with the Financial Services Authority (OJK) to prepare the debt relief programme.

In a statement, the OJK said it will support the government’s relief programme related to the provision of loan interest subsidies for borrowers from banks and financing companies.

Borrowers with loans classified under “collectability one” and “collectability two” were eligible for the subsidies, as well as automobile loans under 500 million rupiah (33,156 USD) and housing loans for properties of up to 70 square meters.

The payments will be given for six months, from April to September of this year.

The interest subsidies for loans fewer than 500 million rupiah will be 6 percent for the first three months and 3 percent for the remaining three months. For loans between 500 million rupiah and 10 billion rupiah, the interest subsidies will be 3 percent for the first half of the stimulus period and 2 percent for the second half.

Experts have said that the subsidy will help not only borrowers, many of whom are under pressure as a result of the economic impacts of the COVID-19, but also banks and financing companies that are facing missed payments and rising defaults on loans.

Indonesia’s banking industry recorded a non-performing loan rate of nearly 2.8 percent in February, the highest since May of last year./.

Cambodia focuses on domestic tourism

Cambodia will prioritise domestic tourism now as the government has lifted a travel ban between provinces, said Tourism Minister Thong Khon.

He said his ministry plans to issue a new set of tourism guidelines to reboot the sector this month.

Hospitality providers will be forced to suspend operations or shut down if they fail to follow the new guidelines, he added.

Foreign arrivals to Cambodia hit 1.15 million in the first quarter of this year, down 38 percent year-on-year due to the impacts of COVID-19, said the Cambodian Ministry of Tourism.

In particular, those from China were down 62 percent, the US 33 percent and the Republic of Korea 36 percent.

The ministry also reported that domestic holidaymakers dropped by 34 percent during the period.

Last year, about 6.6 million foreigners brought in revenue of around 5 billion USD to Cambodia./.

Vietnam prioritises developing domestic market

Vietnam is giving priority to developing the domestic market as the risk of COVID-19 gradually falls, Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment Tran Quoc Phuong said at a press conference after the regular Government meeting on May 5.

Phuong said the ministry had come up with different economic development scenarios and strategies to follow the development of the pandemic.

Policies must ensure effective disease prevention and economic development at the same time, he added.

The faster the country can overcome the pandemic, the quicker the economy will recover, Phuong said.

The Ministry of Planning and Investment will study opportunities to promote domestic economic development, which will require changes in the country’s economic structure as well as orientations of enterprises, he noted.

Deputy Governor of the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) Nguyen Thi Hong stressed the importance of rescheduling repayment terms, exempting or reducing interest rates, and adjusting the ceiling interest rate for new loans to support businesses and people affected by the pandemic.

According to the central bank, the banking system has rescheduled the repayment period for 170,746 customers with a loan balance of 128.2 trillionVND (5.46 billion USD); exempted or reduced interest rates for 14,372 customers with debts worth 28.4 trillion VND; and reduced existing loan interest rates from 0.5 to 2 percent for 318,528 customers with a total loan balance of 980.1 trillion VND. Some credit institutions have even cut their interest rates by up to 4 percent per year, and offered new loans with preferential interest rates 1-2 percent lower than the normal rates for 147,637 customers with an accumulated value of 533 trillion VND from January 23.

Regarding difficulties facing businesses in accessing loans, Hong said that the pandemic has also affected revenue at credit institutions as they provide payment and banking services for other enterprises.

The SBV is taking measures to support affected businesses and people and ensure the operation of credit institutions to avoid impacting the economy, she added./.

Vietnamese, Korean businesses join efforts against COVID-19

A delegation of the Vietnam-Korea Business and Investment Association (VKBIA) on May 4 and 5 presented 5,300 face masks, along with 800 bottles of hand sanitiser, 20 cans of disinfectant and other necessities to border guards and staff working at COVID-19 check points in the northern mountainous province of Lai Chau.

The entrepreneurs also handed over 2,300 masks, 150 bottles of hand sanitiser and medical supplies to Sa Pa Secondary School in Lao Cai province’s Sa Pa district, where all the students are from ethnic minority groups.

Earlier, the delegation presented similar gifts to quarantine facilities, medical centres and military units in Ho Chi Minh City, the southern province of Tay Ninh and Quang Ninh province in the north.

This is part of a programme carried out by the association across Vietnam over the past month, aiming to contribute to efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

VKBIA President Tran Hai Linh said the association wants to show the solidarity between the people of Vietnam and the Republic of Korea (RoK), thus contributing to enhancing friendship and solidarity between the two countries./.

Fruit, vegetable exports up 7.9 percent in April

Vietnam exported 390 million USD worth of fruits and vegetables in April, representing a month-on-month rise of 7.9 percent, but down 15.6 percent against the same period last year.

Exports of fruits and vegetables and nut products to Russia surged. Meanwhile, Vietnam plans to ship its first batch of fresh lychee to Japan at the end of May.

With the COVID-19 pandemic now under control in China, Vietnamese fruit and vegetable exporters are hoping to recover their market share in the neighbouring market.

Last year, fruit and vegetable exports lagged behind expectations, reaching only 3.8 billion USD, a year-on-year drop of 1 percent.

According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, 2019 was a tough year for the sector. China, the country’s largest importer, tightened requirements for imports from Vietnam via strict quarantine measures and origin traceability.

However, growth was seen in shipments to several markets such as ASEAN (26.6 percent), the US (10.7 percent) and the European Union (32.2 percent)./.

Malaysia: central bank cuts key interest rate to 2 pct

Malaysia's central bank cut its key interest rate by 50 basis points to 2 percent on May 5, its lowest since 2009, to help the country’s economy weather the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The move came a day after the Malaysian government allowed most businesses to resume operation after six weeks of closure.

The country, along with other regional nations, is loosening monetary policy due to impacts of the epidemic, which forced enterprises to suspend their business and people to stay home.

Malaysia reported 6,383 cases of COVID-19, including 106 deaths, as of May 5.

Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said restriction measures to contain the spread of the disease have caused an economic loss of about 14.6 billion USD for the country.

The Malaysian government has announced economic stimulus packages worth billions of USD to reduce the impact of the epidemic, including tax breaks and cash aid for locals./. 

Hanoi calls for investment in 11 agricultural projects

The Hanoi Department of Agriculture and Rural Development has issued a list of 11 projects that it is inviting investment for between now and 2025.

They include hi-tech agriculture projects in An Thuong and Song Phuong communes of Hoai Duc district, and Hien Ninh, Thanh Xuan and Tan Dan communes of Soc Son district.

Several concentrated livestock slaughtering projects are also open to investment such as those in Quang Lang and Tri Thuy communes of Phu Xuyen district, Dong Thai commune of Ba Vi district, Trach My Loc commune of Phuc Tho district, and Minh Phu commune of Soc Son district.

In the first four months of 2020, the capital city recorded positive figures in foreign direct investment (FDI) despite the complex developments of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Of the 981.5 million USD in FDI capital attracted, 324 million USD was registered for 235 new projects, 365 million USD was added to 35 existing projects, and 293 million USD was contributed capital to and purchased shares in domestic firms./.

HCM City State budget collection slumps

State budget collections in HCM City in the first four months of the year were estimated at more than VND117 trillion (US$5 billion), down 12.4 per cent year-on-year, the city’s Statistics Office reported.

It attributed the decline to the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Domestic budget collections fell 11 per cent year-on-year to VND78.9 trillion. Revenue from crude oil topped VND5.5 trillion, down 26.2 per cent, while that from exports and imports fell 13 per cent to VND32.7 trillion.

Revenue from State-owned enterprises made up 9.7 per cent of domestic collections, down 13.6 per cent year-on-year. Revenue from private enterprises fell 21.1 per cent to VND20.7 trillion while that from foreign-invested enterprises was more than VND21.5 trillion, down 5.6 per cent.

Revenue for the local budget exceeded VND19.7 trillion, down 13.2 per cent against the same period last year.

The city’s total expenditure during the four months was more than VND18 trillion, up 11.3 per cent year-on-year. Nearly VND5 trillion was for development, up 14.2 per cent annually.

The city is adopting measures to support residents and businesses hit by COVID-19. It has assigned the Taxation Department to establish criteria for those eligible for tax breaks and exemptions and will offer land lease payment extensions.

It has also worked with authorities in 24 districts to review a list of business households that suspended operations and had annual revenues of less than VND100 million which will be offered support. 

Central province lists $105 million education project

The central province has listed the International Education City (IEC) project in the 2020-25 portfolio with an investment of VNĐ2.43 trillion (US$105.6 million), serving the central and central highlands region as well as Laos and Thailand.

The province said the project, which was proposed by Nguyễn Hoàng Group, will be developed on 42.6ha at the new planned An Vân Dương urban in Hương Trà Township.

It said the project would include education programmes from kindergarten to high-school level – the first of its kind in the province – serving education demands for 10,000 students from provinces and cities in the central region and students from neighbouring countries of Thailand, Laos and Myanmar.

Last year, the group also debuted its first UK Academy in the central province as a prelude for the larger education project at the local.

The province said the project would commence construction later in 2020 for operation in 2023.

The HCM City-based Nguyễn Hoàng Group has invested in IEC projects in Quảng Nam, Quảng Ngãi, Bà Rịa-Vũng Tàu and HCM City, and more than 40 education centres were built in 15 cities and provinces nationwide since 2010. 

Việt Nam proposes solutions to Japan for export of lychee

The Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) has proposed Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) to consider special and creative solutions solving difficulties for Việt Nam’s export of fresh lychees to Japan.

The proposal was sent by Minister of Industry and Trade Trần Tuấn Anh after the MAFF announced that it was impossible to send experts to Việt Nam to inspect and recognise the disinfection treatment system of fresh lychee exported from Việt Nam due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, therefore, the export of Việt Nam’s fresh lychee to the Japanese market for the first time would not be implemented in the 2020 lychee harvest.

In the proposal, Anh said the handling of such difficulties would be suitable with the ASEAN–Japan Economic Ministers' Joint Statement on Initiatives on Economic Resilience in Response to the Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19) Outbreak.

The MoIT leader has also asked the Vietnamese Ambassador in Japan to work with MAFF to persuade them to consider other solutions instead of having to send experts to Việt Nam to inspect disinfection facilities.

The solutions include giving temporary authority to independent inspection organisations in Việt Nam to inspect disinfection facilities in the short term or coordinating with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of Việt Nam to implement remote inspection measures (checks on files and via livestream of disinfection facilities).

The ministry has also sent document to its branches in the northern provinces of Hải Dương and Bắc Giang, which are hubs of Vietnamese lychees, asking them to closely coordinate with its agencies to solve difficulties for the export of lychees to Japan.

According to Director of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s Plant Protection Department Hoàng Trung, all the technical issues to ship lychees to Japan have been completed, including growing area codes, the issuance of codes for packaging facilities, especially the building of disinfection treatment facilities following the Japan’s request.

“The lychee is currently growing well. My department has sent officials to localities, conducting a food hygiene programme for lychees,” Trung said.

This year, Bắc Giang Province has over 28,000ha of lychees with an estimated output of over 160,000 tonnes, an increase of 10,000 tonnes year-on-year.

To prepare for the first fresh lychee batch exported to Japan, Bắc Giang authorities have coordinated with the Plant Protection Department to select and propose the Japanese side to approve 19 growing area codes with a total area of ​​103ha, with an estimated output of 600 tonnes in Yên Thế and Lục Ngạn districts.

Meanwhile, Hải Dương Province has 9,700ha with an estimated output of 45,000 tonnes. The province has built 23 lychee and longan growing areas, which met standards of Japanese, American, Australian and EU markets for plant quarantine and food safety. 

Indonesian gov’t to broaden loan interest subsidies due to COVID-19

The Indonesian government will broaden its loan interest subsidies as part of a debt relief programme for those affected by COVID-19.

The subsidies include mortgage loans (KPR), automotive loans (KKB), and loans taken out by micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

The Indonesian government is working with the Financial Services Authority (OJK) to prepare the debt relief programme.

In a statement, the OJK said it will support the government’s relief programme related to the provision of loan interest subsidies for borrowers from banks and financing companies.

Borrowers with loans classified under “collectability one” and “collectability two” were eligible for the subsidies, as well as automobile loans under 500 million rupiah (33,156 USD) and housing loans for properties of up to 70 square meters.

The payments will be given for six months, from April to September of this year.

The interest subsidies for loans fewer than 500 million rupiah will be 6 percent for the first three months and 3 percent for the remaining three months. For loans between 500 million rupiah and 10 billion rupiah, the interest subsidies will be 3 percent for the first half of the stimulus period and 2 percent for the second half.

Experts have said that the subsidy will help not only borrowers, many of whom are under pressure as a result of the economic impacts of the COVID-19, but also banks and financing companies that are facing missed payments and rising defaults on loans.

Indonesia’s banking industry recorded a non-performing loan rate of nearly 2.8 percent in February, the highest since May of last year./.

Remittances sent to HCM City fall in first four months

Remittances sent to Ho Chi Minh City reached 1.8 billion USD in the first four months of this year, down 2 percent year-on-year, said the State Bank of Vietnam branch in the city.

The figure is forecast to drop sharply this year due to the impacts of COVID-19.

The World Bank has also predicted that global remittances this year will slump by about 20 percent, with East Asia and Pacific down 13 percent because of falling capital inflows from the US - its largest source of remittances.

Vietnam was the third largest recipient of remittances in East Asia and the Pacific last year, so the country will certainly be affected, experts said./.

Vietnam records trade surplus with India in Q1

Vietnam ran a trade surplus of 343 million USD with India in the first quarter of this year, according to statistics released by the General Department of Vietnam Customs.

Two-way trade between the two countries hit 2.345 billion USD, with Vietnam’s exports valued at 1.398 billion USD.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Trade Promotion Agency said India is now Vietnam’s 10th largest trade partner. However, there remains untapped potentials.

A number of Vietnamese products such as longan, litchi, rambutan and durian are popular in India.

The two countries are striving to achieve two-way trade of 15 billion USD this year./.

 
 

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