Banks ordered not to force customers to buy insurance


The State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) has asked credit institutions to enhance internal control and an inspection into insurance business operations and impose strict sanctions on those who force borrowers to buy insurance packages.

Besides, commercial banks were ordered not to attach the compulsory purchase of insurance to loans, Nguoi Lao Dong Online reported.

SBV ordered commercial banks to strictly comply with regulations on the insurance business to ensure the operations of insurance businesses and agents develop sustainably, according to a document on the insurance business sent to credit organizations by SBV’s Banking Supervision Agency.

Local banks, while introducing insurance products, must clearly explain the terms and conditions of purchasing insurance to customers who want to purchase the products, apart from helping customers understand the benefits of insurance.

The central bank also asked commercial banks to disseminate the prevailing regulations on insurance business to their employees to avoid violations.

The central bank’s move is aimed at putting insurance business operations in order, as many commercial banks are boosting insurance sales via banks and play a role as exclusive distributors of insurance products for major insurers. Insurance sales at several banks have also jumped over the past few months.

Even though many local banks denied compelling customers to buy insurance packages, many borrowers were forced to purchase insurance packages to get loans. Many bank employees have focused on how many insurance packages need to be sold without providing sufficient information and the terms of insurance contracts, sparking an outcry from customers.

Bamboo Airways licensed to fly directly to US

New carrier Bamboo Airways has been licensed by the US Department of Transportation to carry passengers and cargo between Vietnam and the US, its representative said on November 10.

Accordingly, it will use wide-body Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner to fly directly from Hanoi/Ho Chi Minh City to international airports in the US, including those in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

In the coming time, the airline will seek licenses from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and other relevant agencies of the US.

Bamboo Airways Deputy General Director Nguyen Ngoc Trong said depending on the developments of the COVID-19 pandemic and market conditions, the carrier will launch direct flights to the US in late 2020 at the earliest or early 2021.

Experts said the potential of the aviation market between the two countries is very huge with nearly 700,000 turns of passengers each year.

According to the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV), the opening of the Vietnam-US direct flights proves the capacity of not only Bamboo Airways but also the Vietnamese aviation sector, helping to tighten comprehensive ties between the two countries./.

Long An aims at sustainably developing industry

Favourably located close to the country’s industrial hub of Ho Chi Minh City and with preferential policies for attracting investment, Long An province is a popular destination among investors these days.

Long An province’s economy relied primarily on agriculture until the local government introduced a masterplan in 2012 on socio-economic development. In the time since, it has gradually become a modern industrial locality.

Under the masterplan on socio-economic development, Long An was divided into three zones, with two dedicated to developing industry, urban areas, and services.

The local industrial sector has posted remarkable growth since the plan was introduced. Average annual growth stands at 15%, while industrial production value in 2019 reached over 10 billion USD.

Long An is now home to 16 industrial parks and 21 industrial clusters, with occupancy rates of over 87% and 89%, respectively.

The development of transport links is among the major measures to boost growth in local industry. Long An has been building or upgrading several key routes connecting it with Ho Chi Minh City and linking local industrial parks, including the Trung Luong-Ho Chi Minh City Expressway, National Highway 1, Provincial Road 830, and others.

The province has set a target of both rapid and sustainable economic development, with industry being the driving force. It will also focus on high-tech farming, trade, services, and logistics. The province expects industry to account for over 60% of the local economic structure in the 2021-2025 period./.

Expressway proposed to be connected with eastern HCMC

The HCMC Department of Transport has proposed linking the HCMC-Long Thanh-Dau Giay Expressway with Long Phuoc Street in District 9, HCMC, to develop the traffic system in the eastern part of the city.

The department has urged the municipal government to ask the Ministry of Transport for approval for the proposal, the local media reported.

The department has also proposed building a junction under the Long Thanh Bridge across the Dong Nai River and linking District 9 with Dong Nai’s Long Thanh District to connect Long Phuoc Street with other roads.

According to the department, the plan is feasible and requires a short execution time. The connection road is planned to be built on agricultural land so it is convenient for site clearance.

Residents in District 9’s Long Phuoc Ward now have to travel to the city’s center through a 23-kilometer route passing through Long Phuoc, Long Thuan and Nguyen Duy Trinh streets, which is narrow. Meanwhile, the area has many cultural and educational projects, and some facilities of the Saigon Hi-Tech Park will be added to build a highly innovative and interactive urban area in the east of the city.

The connection is necessary as it will help shorten the travel time between District 9 and the city’s center to 18 kilometers and contribute to the eastern area’s socioeconomic development.

The HCMC-Long Thanh-Dau Giay Expressway, which was opened to traffic in early 2015, has a total length of 55 kilometers. More than VND20.6 trillion was spent on the four-lane road.

It has been connected with Mai Chi Tho Avenue at the An Phu Intersection and Ring Road No. 2 in District 2.

A tollgate of the expressway is located in Long Phuoc Ward but the expressway has yet to be connected with the area.

In a plan to develop infrastructure in the eastern area, the HCMC Department of Transport has proposed developing the traffic system there in a smart manner in the next decade, which requires VND300 trillion.

HCMC estimates VND80 trillion in tourism revenue in 2020

Tourists join a waterway tour in HCMC. HCMC is expected to earn VND80 trillion in tourism revenue at the end of this year

HCMC is expected to earn VND80 trillion in tourism revenue at the end of this year, with VND66 trillion of it generated in January-October, said Tuoi Tre Online newspaper.

Regional linkages will bring more tourists to the southern city and encourage them to spend more money, Nguyen Thi Anh Hoa, director of the HCMC Department of Tourism, told a press conference on Wednesday.

Without the contribution of the international segment due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, the city has seen the tourism revenue tumble, compared with its target of VND165 trillion set at the beginning of this year. However, the real revenue is still a positive figure amid the current context, she said.

So far, the city has welcomed around 13 million domestic travelers, including those seeking staycations. The figure is projected to rise to 15 million by the end of 2020.

In the past two months, the city has seen the number of domestic travelers and revenue bouncing back, especially at four- and five-star hotels and restaurants.

During the first outbreak, many businesses in the industry had to close down or suspend operations given the social distancing measures meant to combat the pandemic. However, they have resumed operations and managed to offer safe services to customers.

To attract travelers to the city, the local government will ink several deals with its counterparts in the northwest, northeast and central regions in November to develop new products and help revive the tourism industry.

Earlier, HCMC played the role of a tourist distribution center in linkages but the city indeed welcomed a large volume of vacationers. At present, tour operators such as Saigontourist and Vietravel have joined hands with partners to bring tourists to HCMC although the deals have not yet been signed, Hoa said.

As planned, HCMC’s authorities with jointly organize tourism development conferences with 21 central and northern provinces this month.

The program will start with a tourism development conference between the city and eight northwestern localities—Dien Bien, Ha Giang, Hoa Binh, Lai Chau, Lao Cai, Son La, Yen Bai and Phu Tho—followed by that between the city and Hanoi and some central provinces.

Vietnamese airlines rush to offer discounts

Vietnamese airlines have resumed all their domestic flights and launched discount programmes after the Covid-19 pandemic has been brought under control in the country.

According to the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV), many airlines in Vietnam have slashed their ticket prices and opened new domestic routes.   

The sterilisation on a flight of Vietnam Airlines for Covid-19 prevention.

On November 11-13, Vietnam Airlines and Pacific Airlines will sell one-way airfares priced at just VND579,000 (USD24.17) each for all domestic routes. The tickets are applied for flights to be conducted from February 1, 2021 to September 30, 2021.

Bamboo Airways have offered millions of cheap tickets just from VND99,000 for flights from Hanoi and HCM City to domestic destinations. Customers are allowed to change the name on air tickets free of charge and the change is unlimited as long as it is carried out three hours before the flight departure time.

Airlines have seen a sharp drop in passenger numbers following Covid-19, so they are trying to lure customers in order to generate jobs and income for their staff. They have also planned to open new domestic routes to help meet customers’ diversified demand and spur the tourism sector.

A representative from Vietnam Airlines said that in October, the carrier reopened nine domestic flights and operated 22 new air routes which are aimed to connect tourism spots.

Vietnam Airlines has still ensured Covid-19 prevention regulations such as aeroplane sterilisation and medical check-ups for passengers at airports. Passengers are required to wear masks during their flight.

Bamboo Airways have run three direct air routes from Hanoi, Haiphong and Vinh cities to Con Dao Island in the southern province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau.

VietJet Air has increased flight frequency on many routes, including Hanoi/HCM City-Danang.

Two-thirds of Korean firms satisfied with Vietnam’s entry process

Some two-thirds, or 67.3%, of South Korean firms said they are satisfied with the Covid-19-related entry process in Vietnam, according to a survey released by the Korean Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KORCHAM) on November 4.

To prevent the Covid-19 pandemic from spreading, Vietnam has suspended all international flights since March 25. Only Vietnamese citizens, people with diplomatic passports and foreign experts are allowed to enter the country.

The survey was conducted with 303 Korean enterprises that have utilized the special entry procedures in Vietnam. The procedures allow Korean experts to enter the country via charter flights organized by KORCHAM. They are required to show a certificate confirming they tested negative for Covid-19 shortly before their arrival in Vietnam and undergo a 14-day quarantine period upon arriving.

Of the respondents, 20.1% said they felt “normal”, while only 12.6% said they were unsatisfied with the process.

Regarding the entry purposes, 53.8% of the enterprises said they brought in experts to manage their facilities. “Trial operation and new equipment installation”, “seeking partners” and “signing contracts” are among other purposes, accounting for 25.1%, 6.6% and 5.6%, respectively.

According to the survey, Korean firms have reached contracts worth 30 billion (US$26.4 million) with Vietnamese partners thanks to this special entry process.

The surveyed enterprises suggested the governments of both countries improve quarantine regulations (60.6%), simplify procedures (41.8%), operate more flights (35%) and speed up exit procedures (29%).

Some 70% of respondents expected the quarantine period to be shortened, while 15.2% said the local authorities should allow Korean experts to visit their offices or factories during the quarantine period.

Nearly 2,800 Korean experts or skilled workers have been granted permission to enter Vietnam for work since March. None of them has tested positive for Covid-19 up to now.

South Korean businesses are implementing more than 8,000 projects in Vietnam, creating over 700,000 jobs.

HCMC prepares essential goods for Tet

As of present, businesses in HCMC have stockpiled essential goods worth nearly VND20,000 billion (US$834 million) to meet the rising demand of consumers in the city in the upcoming Tet (Lunar New Year) holiday, according to the HCMC Department of Industry and Trade. 

The prepared volume of goods iincreases 3.4 percent over the same period last year (equivalent to VND652.4 billion (US$28 million).

Of these, subsidized goods cost more than VND7,000 billion. For the peak shopping season for Tet from the 1st day -30th day of the last month of lunar calendar, the total value of prepared goods is over VND10,000 billion (US$432 million), including more than VND4,000 billion (US$172 million) worth of subsidized commodities.

Retailers have committed to stabilizing prices about a month before and after Tet.

Hanoi to cooperate with central region to promote domestic tourism post Covid-19

A tourism development forum with the participation of Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and major provinces/cities in the central region, is slated to take place in Quang Nam province on November 27-28.

The Departments of Tourism, Culture and Sports of Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Danang, Quang Nam and Thua Thien-Hue on November 6 held an online meeting to discuss the organization of a tourism development forum gathering provinces and cities across Vietnam.

The forum is slated to take place in Quang Nam province on November 27–28.

In the first day of the forum, there will be meetings and discussions among tourism companies from Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Danang, Quang Nam and Thua Thien-Hue; the launch of a tourism exhibition space, including travel destinations, tourism products and local specialties, among others.

On November 28, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism in collaboration with tourism management agencies of 63 provinces and cities would organize a national conference on tourism.

Vice Director of Hanoi’s Department of Tourism Tran Trung Hieu said the forum, which aims at boosting cooperation between Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and major economic zones in the central region, would help reboot domestic tourism in the post-Covid-19 period.

At present, Hanoi has been preparing for tourism promotion activities that would be held at the forum.

Meanwhile, the capital city is scheduled to hold a press conference about the forum during the Vietnam International Travel Mart (VITM) – Hanoi 2020.

Vinh Phuc’s retail sales, service revenue grow 2.31 percent in October

Economic activities, trade activities in particular, in the northern province of Vinh Phuc have regained growth in October, with prices of goods and services remaining stable.

Total retail sales and service revenue topped almost 5.02 trillion VND (216.8 million USD), up 2.31 percent from September.

Of the figure, goods retail sales were estimated at over 4.4 trillion VND, a monthly increase of 2.65 percent.

Among services, revenues from accommodation, restaurant and travel services dropped 1.69 percent to over 389 billion VND, but earnings from other consumer services picked up 2.87 percent to more than 212 billion VND. Revenue from transport services rose 3.61 percent from last month and 4.04 percent from the same period last year to over 398 billion VND.

Total retail sales and service revenue for the January-October period added to 41.87 trillion VND, up 0.01 percent from the same period last year./.

Japan grants over 400 million USD worth of low-interest loans to Myanmar

Japan and Myanmar on November 8 signed low-interest loans worth a total of 42.78 billion JPY (414 million USD) to help the Southeast Asian country build road infrastructure and finance small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

According to the Japanese Foreign Ministry, of the total, 27.78 billion JPY will be earmarked for a project to build a bridge on a road in the East-West Economic Corridor, a route that crosses Myanmar, Thailand, Laos and Vietnam.

Since the volume of trade with Thailand, the largest trading partner with Myanmar, is expected to continue to increase, it is essential to develop the East-West Economic Corridor to enhance the logistics sector's efficiency, the ministry said.

The remainder of the loans will be set aside to allow SMEs in Myanmar to obtain funds for stabilising their business activities and expanding operations.

The COVID-19 pandemic has dealt yet another blow to such companies with insufficient cash on hand.

The loans will help mitigate the economic impact of the virus on sound development of Myanmar's industrial and business sectors, and create and retain employment./.

Over 10 million SMEs in Indonesia use online platforms

The number of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) using online platforms for their business in Indonesia has risen to around 10.2 million as the COVID-19 pandemic speeds up digitalisation, a minister has said.

During a recent virtual discussion, Indonesian Cooperative and SMEs Minister Teten Masduki said the share of SMEs using online platforms rose to 16 percent from 13 percent as recorded early this year, adding that this is quite a big improvement.

SMEs that successfully adapt to the new consumer patterns and create product innovation are expected to get out of this crisis. With such an increase, the Indonesian government has met its target of having 10 million small businesses utilising online platforms this year.

The country’s small businesses, which account for more than 60 percent of gross domestic product and employ a majority of the labour force, have been hit by the COVID-19 outbreak, as the economy enters into recession following economic contractions recorded in the second and third quarter.

At the same time, the rise in online commerce among small businesses has taken place as many consumers avoid visiting bricks-and-mortar stores and move to online shopping platforms to comply with the social-distancing orders during the pandemic.

The volume of transactions on e-commerce rose by around 39 percent to 383 million in the first and second quarters, according to Indonesian Creative Economy and Tourism Minister Wishnutama, quoting data from Bank Indonesia./.

Indonesia enters first recession since 1998

Indonesia has officially entered its first recession since the 1998 Asian financial crisis as its economy contracts again in the third quarter of this year, albeit at a slower pace.

Southeast Asia’s largest economy shrank 3.49 percent year-on-year in the third quarter amid the persistent rise in COVID-19 cases, Statistics Indonesia (BPS) announced earlier this week.

The figure is worse than the 3 percent contraction forecast by analysts, but is still narrower than the second-quarter contraction of 5.32 percent.

As Indonesian regions began to gradually lift the large-scale social restrictions (PSBB) and cities began reopening in June, economic activities started stirring again in the third quarter. However, economic activities did not reach pre-coronavirus levels, as the continuing rise in COVID-19 cases held up recovery.

Jakarta even re-imposed the “full” PSBB in September as the rise in daily cases strained its health system, before scaling it back down to the transitional PSBB in mast month.

BPS data shows that household spending, which contributes more than 50 percent of GDP, fell 4.04 percent – slower than the 5.52 percent contraction booked in the second quarter – led by a spending slump in transportation, restaurants and hotels.

However, consumer spending in healthcare and education increased in the period from July to September while investment shrank 6.48 percent – smaller than the 8.61 percent contraction in April-June – as businesses cut back sharply on their investment in machinery and other products.

Exports and imports respectively plunged 10.82 percent and 21.86 percent, reflecting the downturn in global trade and domestic demand due to the economic fallout from the pandemic.

However, government expenditure jumped 9.76 percent in the third quarter to recoup from the second-quarter contraction of 6.9 percent, driven by higher social and capital spending in efforts to fight the impacts of the COVID-19.

The Indonesian government has earmarked 695.2 trillion rupiah (47 billion USD) for a stimulus package to revive the economy, which is forecast to shrink between 0.6 percent and 1.7 percent this year./.

Thailand ready to sign RCEP in mid-November

Thai Minister of Commerce Jurin Laksanawisit will represent Thailand to sign the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) by the middle of this month, said the Bangkok Post on November 7. 

According to schedule, the RCEP Summit will be held on November 15 as part of a series of regular summit meetings online to be hosted by Vietnam, as ASEAN Chair, from November 12-15.

The RCEP is a free-trade agreement (FTA) proposed by 10 ASEAN member states and six dialogue partners, namely China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand.

Negotiations on RCEP started in late 2012 at the 21st ASEAN Summit in Phnom Penh.

A statement from RCEP said the 15 participating countries have concluded text-based negotiations for all 20 chapters and market access issues. With or without India, the RCEP agreement has been scheduled for official signing this year, coming into force either in 2021 or January 2022.

In 2019, the population of RCEP members topped 3.6 billion, with a combined GDP worth more than 28.5 trillion USD, making up 32.7 percent of the world's GDP. The trade volume of members was 11.2 trillion USD or 29.5 percent of world trade./.

Lao Cai promotes production and consumption of OCOP products


Farmers and authorities in the northern mountainous province of Lao Cai have come together to improve the production and consumption of local products within a national rural area economic development programme, thus improving local livelihoods.

At 1,500 to 1,800 meters above sea level and in a temperate climate zone, with temperatures ranging from 15 to 18 degrees Celsius, the noted tourist destination of Sa Pa in Lao Cai province also holds advantages in growing medicinal plants. Many households have shifted cultivation away from rice to artichokes in recent years. Such new crops have helped farmers in Sa Pa bolster their earnings and improve their living conditions.

With the aim of promoting the value of local agricultural products, Lao Cai province has implemented a range of measures to bring the “One Commune One Product” (OCOP) programme to life. The province is leveraging the tourism advantages Sa Pa town and Bac Ha, and Bat Xat districts hold to sell safe agricultural products to more customers both at home and abroad.

With assistance from the government, the programme is effectively leveraging the advantages localities possess and gradually sending OCOP products to other markets, meeting demand among customers.

The OCOP programme has proven effective in restructuring Lao Cai’s agriculture sector towards leveraging the creativity and internal force of the community, while encouraging the application of technology to develop sustainable agriculture production chains./.

Cambodia-US trade remains strong despite COVID-19

Two-way trade between Cambodia and the United States (US) has remained strong even during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to statistics from the US Census Bureau, bilateral trade reached more than 5 billion USD during the period from January to September, an increase of 16 percent compared with the same period last year.

Cambodia exported 4.8 billion USD worth of products to the world’s largest economy, up 21 percent year-on-year, while it imported goods worth a total 232 million USD during the period, down 40 percent year-on-year.

Public Affairs Officer of the US Embassy in Phnom Penh Arend Zwartjes said Cambodia has benefited greatly from duty-free access to the US market through the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) programme. Travel goods (luggage, handbags and backpacks) are among Cambodia’s fastest growing exports to the US, with exports of them increasing from 50 million USD in 2016 to nearly 1 billion USD in 2019 after being added to the GSP, he noted.

The US is Cambodia’s largest single export market, he said, adding that the US Embassy continues to work with Cambodia’s government and private sector to promote sales of more US products for more balanced trade for the benefit of both sides.

Undersecretary of State and spokesperson at the Cambodian Ministry of Commerce (MOC) Penn Sovicheat said that Cambodia’s exports to the US market so far have not been badly affected by COVID-19.

Cambodia mainly exports textiles, footwear, travel goods, bicycles and agricultural products to the US and imports vehicles, animal feed and machinery.

According to an MOC report, in the first nine months of this year, Cambodia exported more than 1.5 million bicycles to foreign markets, generating nearly 400 million USD. Half a million bicycles were sent to the US market.

Last year, bilateral trade between the two countries reached 5.9 billion USD, a year-on-year increase of 37 percent./.

PetroVietnam fulfils 10-month exploitation plan

The Vietnam Oil and Gas Group (PetroVietnam) exploited an estimated 17.32 million tonnes of oil equivalent in the first ten months of this year, surpassing the plan for the period by 2.3 percent.

The group's total revenue reached 464.5 trillion VND (20.1 billion USD), or 83 percent of the yearly plan while its contribution to the State budget hit 58.3 trillion VND, equivalent to 86 percent of the yearly target.

Amid the difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the group was among a few oil and gas businesses in the world that managed to post positive growth in the January-October period.

The result is attributable to response measures undertaken by PetroVietnam and its members, including cutting costs. In the past 10 months, the group reduced costs by 8.1 trillion VND.

Towards the year’s end, PetroVietnam sets the goal of continuing to exercise thrift, effectively using resources and devising scenarios to cope with market developments, as well as grasping new opportunities for effective disbursement, thus propelling its next growth./.

Singapore’s retail sales continue to drop

Retail sales in Singapore fell by 10.8 percent year-on-year in September, a steeper decline compared to the 5.4 percent drop in August, according to the country's Department of Statistics (SingStat).

The estimated total value of retail sales in September was 3.2 billion SGD (2.36 billion USD), of which online retail sales made up about 11.2 percent.

The larger decline during the month was mainly attributed to the computer and telecom equipment industry, which recorded lower sales of mobile phones compared to the high base in September last year when there were new phone launches, said SingStat. 

Most retail industries continued to register year-on-year decline in sales. Food and alcoholic beverages; department stores; cosmetics, toiletries and medical goods reported decrease in sales of 41 percent, 39.8 percent and 30 percent, respectively./.

Localities prepare goods for Lunar New Year holiday

Provinces and cities are gearing up for the coming Tet (Lunar New Year) holiday to ensure an adequate supply of essential goods with the COVID-19 pandemic still developing globally. 

Tran Thi Phuong Lan, Deputy Director of Hanoi Department of Industry and Trade, said large companies have begun to stockpile goods for Tet and preparing plans to supply the capital city when there was a sudden increase in demand. 

Lan said the volume of goods in the warehouses and big companies is large enough to supply the capital city’s market for 60-90 days. 

Some big retailers, such as Central Retail Group which runs the BigC supermarket chain, BRG which runs Hapro, Intimex, SEIKA mart and BRG Mart, and Co.opmart have increased their stockpiles of necessary food and foodstuff by 300 percent to 500 percent compared to normal days. 

Lan said that the capital has set up groups to keep a close watch on the market development and to facilitate the distribution of goods to meet citizens' demand. 

The city also provides 2,156 locations for enterprises to open temporary warehouses or mobile points of sale, besides maintaining the operation of the retail system, including 142 supermarkets, 27 shopping centres, 1,700 convenience stores, 455 markets and 11,382 e-commerce websites. 

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, it is necessary to early implement the price stabilisation programme for essential goods, Lan said. 

The city is focusing on promoting the diversification of the distribution system to ensure goods would reach consumers in the fastest and the most convenient way while creating favourable conditions for producers and distributors to access preferential loans for production and business expansion and to stabilise prices. 

Goods categories in the price stabilisation programme included food, foodstuff, meat, seafood, egg, processed food, fresh vegetable and fruit, sugar, cooking oil, spice, milk, confectionery and beverage products. 

The southern province of Dong Nai is also gearing up the price stabilisation programme for 12 product categories, including rice, noodles, canned processed food, chicken, pork, eggs, sugar, cooking oil, spice, dipping sauce, textbooks and student notebooks. 

Supermarkets, shopping centres, producers and distributors in the southern province have also started to build production plans in line with the anticipated rise in demand around Tet holiday to ensure adequate supply as well as preparing stockpile plans to prevent a shortage of goods or price fever./.

HCM City promotes development of collective economy

Although the collective economy in HCM City has gained positive results, limitations still exist, district officials and co-operative leaders have said.

According to the HCM City Co-operative Alliance, the number of co-operatives has increased considerably and their quality has improved over the past five years. The number of co-operatives rose from 69 in 2015 to 112 this year, with a total of 2,551 members.

Cooperatives, particularly agricultural ones, focus on supporting household economies by providing services or jobs for members.

Cu Chi District has the highest number of agricultural co-operatives, with 38 out of a total 50 operating in the district.

In the first half of the year, despite COVID-19, agricultural cooperatives’ revenue was estimated at VND80 billion (US$3.45 million), and the average monthly income was more than VND5 million ($216) per person.

Le Dinh Duc, vice chairman of Cu Chi District People's Committee, said these achievements were thanks to agricultural cooperatives enhancing linkages with commercial co-operatives and supermarket chains to ensure stable outlets for products produced by members.

Many products have also been exported, he said.

For instance, the Saigon Aquarium Cooperative is a major provider of baby ornamental fish and breeding techniques. It buys all ornamental fish from breeders to sell in the domestic market or for export, creating jobs for about 200 households.

To exploit the potential of the island district of Can Gio, Truong Tien Trien, vice chairman of the People's Committee in Can Gio District, said a district-based shrimp cooperative and the Centre for Hi-tech Agricultural Research and Development have implemented an experimental super-intensive shrimp farming model to produce safe and high-nutritional shrimp products.

This has helped to satisfy strict quality standards set by fastidious markets such as the US, EU, and Japan, he said.

Untapped potential

Despite positive results, the development of co-operatives has not met their potential, Duc said.

Most co-operatives are small with limited funds, lack business strategies, have poor management compared with other economic sectors, and are disadvantaged in an integrated economy.

The capacity and skills of management staff in the co-operatives are limited, making it difficult to meet demand in the market economy.

To boost the development of the collective economy, the city Department of Agriculture and Rural Development has set up a preferential credit policy to encourage co-operatives to invest in cultivating or breeding high-value plants or animals.

The average loan for a qualified project increased from VND269 million in the 2011-15 period to VND533 million in the 2016-20 period.

“Lack of investment capital for production and business activities is a major barrier to the development of cooperatives,” Duc said. "With their small scale, they find it hard to get loans from credit institutions since they don’t have assets to mortgage."

He suggested that the Government promote administrative reform, shorten the time needed to implement procedures related to licensing and tax policy, and simplify procedures for supporting cooperatives in borrowing capital, among others.

A representative of Binh Chanh District said the HCM City Cooperative Alliance should continue to help cooperatives train personnel and regularly hold professional training courses on economic management, finance and accounting, market research, and project management.

In addition, leaders of districts suggested that the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development use database management software to facilitate management and investigation of cooperatives in the agricultural sector.

To improve the efficiency of the collective economic model, in the 2021-30 period the city will focus on developing a new-style co-operative model. It also targets setting up 300 co-operatives and five unions of co-operatives, according to the city People's Committee said.

The sector is expected to achieve annual growth of 7 per cent, accounting for 0.6 per cent of the city’s economy, and create 30,000 jobs each year.

The city also seeks to raise the ratio of co-operative leaders with college and university degrees to 60 per cent.

To achieve these targets, the city will implement a number of measures such as increasing the capital of the City Cooperative Member Support Fund to VND2 trillion ($86.4 million) by 2030.

It will also continue to connect credit organisations and co-operatives, provide training to co-operative managers, and promote their products and improve their technologies. 

Vietnamese businesses encouraged to maximize EVFTA's opportunities

The EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) is a passport for Vietnamese businesses to enter to a new potential market. 

Two months after the deal took effect, Vietnamese enterprises have been enjoying benefits from the trade pact but they are urged to understand it thoroughly to fully tap the deal’s opportunities.

As of mid-October, nearly 24,000 certificates of origin (C/O) have been granted allowing Vietnamese products worth US$963 million to be exported to 28 EU countries. Vietnamese exporters have also self-certified origins for 660 exporting shipments  worth US$2 million.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Vietnam’s exports of agro-forestry-aquatic products are enjoying great benefits of the deal. Seafood export turnover to the EU increased 10% in August. Prices for Vietnamese rice have improved. The first 126 tons of tax free fragrant rice were exported to the EU in September.

But the EVFTA is still new to most domestic businesses. Nguyen Van Tuyen, Director of the Tien Dat Company which exports timber to the EU, said “This is a new-generation agreement and all requirements and norms are very strict. Under EVFTA regulations, timber exported to the EU must have certification of origin. That’s a challenge for small and medium-sized enterprises.”

Many domestic businesses agree that they have not grasped knowledge about the EVFTA and other FTAs in general and hope that agencies will clarify the commitments concerning technical norms, certificates of origin, hygiene safety, legal origin of materials, and preferential tariffs and quotas.

Nguyen Hoai Nam, Deputy Chairman of the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), said, “We want to be supported by regulations at home regarding what  our Association and other export sectors have recommended concerning, for example, bar codes on export goods. We hope our proposals concerning fees, quarantine, and food safety inspection for import and export will be included in this year's revision plan. Reforms should be made to help the business community.”

Nguyen Thi Thu Trang, Director of the WTO and Economic Integration Center of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), said VCCI will continue to provide detailed instructions on how to realize opportunities created by the trade deal so that businesses can prepare thoroughly. 

“To win a game, an enterprise must be competitive. Improving its competitiveness, its capacity in corporate governance, and its profession in providing quality, goods and services is what every business must do. This, plus the opportunities created by FTAs, will make us successful,” Trang noted.

VCCI has compiled a handbook on the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement to help businesses make full use of the agreement. EuroCham and VCCI have jointly established the EU-Vietnam Business Council (EVBC), a cooperation mechanism to help enterprises make the most of the Agreement and strengthen trade and investment cooperation between Vietnam and the EU.

Vietnam, Laos see import and export turnover rebound

The value of import-export turnover between Vietnam and Laos has increased again after more than half a year of slowdown due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, with two-way trade turnover reaching nearly US$740 million by late September, according to the Vietnam Trade Office in Laos.

Despite suffering a decline compared to the same period last year, the speed slowed down, while showing a gradual increase until the end of the year. Indeed, the opening seven months of the year saw the import-export turnover between the two countries endure a fall of 14% over the corresponding period last year, and the current period witnessed a drop of 10.8%. In which, the export turnover from Vietnam to Laos stood at nearly US$423 million, and its imports from the neighbouring country was over US$316 million.

Import and export activities between the two nations are tending to see a rebound thanks to improved clearance procedures at some international and local border gates as both have brought the pandemic under control.

The two sides are making greater efforts to elevate this year's bilateral trade to US$1 billion as planned, up between 10% and 15% over last year's figure.

Laos' major export items to Vietnam are minerals, wood products and agricultural products such as rubber, coffee, maize, cassava, rice, livestock, while its import staples include petroleum, fertilizers, iron and steel, and machinery, electrical equipment, construction materials and spare parts.

Vietnam remains the third largest trading partner and third biggest foreign investor of Laos, after Thailand and China.

Coffee exports suffer decline over ten months

Vietnam raked in US$2.32 billion from exporting 1.34 million tonnes of coffee during the past ten months of the year, down 1.3% in volume and 0.6% in value, according to figures released by the Ministry of Industry and Trade. 

Robusta coffee exports to some demanding markets see robust growth during a nine-month period
October alone saw businesses earn US$167 million from exporting 90,000 tonnes of coffee, falling 9.8% in volume and 11.2% in value from the previous month, although this sum was an increase of 1.0% in volume and 3.8% in value when compared with October last year.

The average export price of coffee in October also suffered a decline of 1.6% to US$1,856 per tonne from the previous month, although marking an upturn of 2.8% from last year’s corresponding period. Over 10 months, the export price increased by 0.6% to US$1,734 per tonne against the same period last year.

According to statistics compiled by the General Department of Vietnam Customs, Vietnam shipped 85,500 tonnes of Robusta coffee worth US$134.36 million abroad in September, up 11.9% in volume and 16.5% in value over the figures from September, 2019.

However, nine-month Robusta coffee exports decreased by 1.4% in volume and 3.1% in value compared to last year’s corresponding period. Indeed, exports to major markets saw a downturn, including to the United States, Spain, Japan, Russia, Belgium, Thailand, and Malaysia.

In contrast, the export of Robusta coffee to markets such as Germany, Italy, the Republic of Korea, and Algeria experienced an upward trajectory.

October saw the price of Robusta coffee soar compared to the previous month due to adverse weather conditions in the two of the world’s leading coffee producers, Brazil and Vietnam.

Over the short term, Robusta coffee prices are anticipated to increase due to unfavourable weather factors locally.

Moreover, due to the complicated nature of COVID-19 developments, some European and North American countries have been forced to deploy social-distancing measures, contributing to an increasing demand for instant coffee at home.

AmCham executive confident of strong US-Vietnam ties under Biden administration

Adam Sitkoff, Executive Director of the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in Vietnam, has expressed his belief US President elect Joe Biden will maintain close relations between the US and Vietnam, especially in trade and investment.

AmCham welcomes the chance to work with President Biden and his administration in order to strengthen trade and investment cooperation between the US and Vietnam, Sitkoff told in an interview on November 9.

At the 2020 US-Vietnam Business Summit held in October, Sitkoff reaffirmed the US is one of Vietnam’s leading trade partners as two-way trade turnover has kept increasing annually over the years.

Bilateral trade value rose nearly US$76 billion in 2019 from just US$450 million in 1995 when the two countries normalized diplomatic ties, according to the General Department of Vietnam Customs.

In 2019, Vietnam’s exports to the US reached US$ 61.35 billion, representing an increase of 29.1% over 2018 and accounting for 23.2% of the country’s total export turnover. The US is also Vietnam’s largest export market, especially in the textile and garment sector.

Sitkoff noted the progress in trade and investment between the two countries will help improve business conditions to strengthen the private sector, ensure socio-economic development, attract more investment, and foster prosperity in Vietnam.

The Ministry of Planning and Investment reported the US currently ranks 11 out of 138 countries and territories investing in Vietnam, with more than 1,000 valid investment projects capitalized at nearly US$9.4 billion.

Experts say that the Biden administration will continue to further strengthen the cooperation between the US and its allies and strategic partners, including ASEAN and Vietnam, thereby helping benefit the region.

Former US Ambassador to Vietnam Michael Michalak told that after taking office, President Biden is likely to review and reevaluate the US’s economic policy and make some changes. One of the changes Biden is trying to make is to cooperate closely with US allies, including ASEAN, according to the diplomat.

Democratic candidate Joe Biden defeated incumbent President Donald Trump in the Nov.3 election to become the 46th president of the United States.

Vinh Tan 2 Thermal Power Plant project fully completed

The Vinh Tan Thermal Power Company, an affiliate of the Power Generation Joint Stock Corporation 3 (EVNGENCO 3), held a ceremony in Tuy Phong District, Binh Thuan Province on November 7 to announce the completion of the Vinh Tan 2 Thermal Plant project and to celebrate the company’s arrival at the output milestone of 40 billion kWh.

The event was attended by Chairman of the Provincial People’s Committee Nguyen Manh Hung and Chairman of Electricity of Vietnam (EVN)’s Member Council Duong Quang Thanh.

The construction of Vinh Tan 2 Thermal Power Plant commenced on August 8, 2010 with two generation units, total capacity of 1,244MW. The plant was put into commercial operation in the first quarter of 2015 and delivers about 7.2 billion kWh to the national power grid annually.

At present, the Vinh Tan Thermal Power Company has also been assigned to manage and operate the Vinh Tan 2 Solar Power Plant, which started commercial power generation on June 24, 2019, adding an average of 60 million kWh to the national grid each year.

The company has now reached the milestone of 40 billion kWh in power production, while contributing more than VND300 billion (US$12.9 million) to Binh Thuan’s annual budget.

The recently completed construction of the administrative building, the last category of Vinh Tan Thermal Power Company, is an important milestone marking the completion of the project.

On the occasion, the Power Generation Joint Stock Corporation 3 (EVNGENCO 3) presented 12 charity houses worth a total of VND1.2 billion (roughly US$51,780) to Binh Thuan Province, while the Vinh Tan Thermal Power Company donated VND50 million to Tuy Phong District’s study encouragement fund.

ASEAN economic ministers hold online troika dialogue with Switzerland

The ASEAN Economic Ministers’ Troika Open-ended Dialogue with Switzerland Trade Minister was held online on November 10 within the framework of the 37th ASEAN Summit and related meetings.

Vietnamese Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh and Swiss Minister of Economic Affairs, Education and Research Guy Parmelin co-chaired the event.

During the dialogue, the sides expressed their concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic's impacts on the growth and economic development, and stressed the need to unite and closely coordinate with each other in the pandemic combat and post-pandemic economic recovery.

They committed to stepping up cooperation to maintain and enhance economic ties between ASEAN and Switzerland, make greater efforts to ease the impacts of the pandemic on the relevant economies, intensify the resilience and flexibility of the economies, and continue to pursue an open and transparent economic policy.

The sides also pledged to support and pursue the purpose of free trade on the basis of the WTO’s multilateral trade system, and agreed to join hands to reap practical outcomes.

The 37th ASEAN Summit and related meetings, slated for November 12-15, will feature 20 activities at the highest level, including the 37th ASEAN Summit; ASEAN+1 summits with China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, India, the US, the UN, and Australia; the 15th East Asia Summit (EAS); and the 4th Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) summit; among others.

During the summits with partners, leaders will focus on building the ASEAN Community, maintaining intra-bloc cooperation momentum, expanding and deepening relations between ASEAN and partners, promoting the grouping’s centrality, raising its international position, ensuring COVID-19 prevention and control, and discussing regional and international issues of shared concern.

More than 80 documents, including proposals by Vietnam, are set to be approved on this occasion, marking the highest number to date.

Vietnam is expected to symbolically hand over the ASEAN Chairmanship to Brunei at the closing ceremony on November 15.



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