VIETNAM BUSINESS NEWS HEADLINES NOVEMBER 23

Rice quality key to exports

VIETNAM BUSINESS NEWS HEADLINES NOVEMBER 23

Workers at Hau River Food Company in the southern province of Can Tho load rice for export. The total rice export volume and value in the first ten months of this year reached 5.56 million tonnes and US$2.43 billion.

Vietnamese rice producers and exporters needed to focus on quality and supplying products that were in demand, rather than simply looking at quantity, according to the Agricultural Products Processing and Development Department under the Ministry of Agriculture and Development (MARD).

The total rice export volume and value in the first ten months of this year reached 5.56 million tonnes and US$2.43 billion, respectively.

The figures represented a rise of 6.1 per cent in volume and a drop of 9.1 per cent in value compared to the same period in 2018.

Viet Nam’s five per cent broken rice is now fetching $350 per tonne, the highest level in the past two months, but still lower than that of India ($365-370 per tonne) and Thailand ($395-400 per tonne).

In the first seven months of this year, Vietnamese rice exports to China decreased by 67 per cent to 400,000 tonnes, whereas in the past China often imported up to two million tonnes of rice from Viet Nam annually.

The decline had knocked China off top spot as the country's main export market, accounting for just over 8 per cent of Viet Nam's total export value, Minister of Agriculture and Development Nguyen Xuan Cuong said at a seminar on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Cambodia, another rice exporter in the region, has increased exports to China.

According to the Cambodia Rice Federation, Cambodia's rice exports to China rose sharply in the first nine months of this year, reaching nearly 158,000 tonnes, up 44 per cent from the same period last year. In 2019, the country plans to export 300,000 tonnes of rice to China and raise the figure to 400,000 tonnes in 2020.

Cambodia prioritises the production of organic rice to offer clean materials that meet market demands and ensure the sustainable growth of rice exports.

In terms of rice export volume, Viet Nam exports on average five to seven million tonnes of rice annually, making it one of the world’s top three largest rice exporters. In 2018, Viet Nam exported more than six million tonnes of rice while Cambodia sold only more than 626,200 tonnes.

However, in terms of quality and brand, Cambodian is gradually becoming a formidable opponent in the region.

At the 10th TRT World Rice Conference 2018 held on October 2018 in Ha Noi, Cambodian premium fragrant rice, Malys Angkor, won the World's Best Rice award.

Cambodia is also among the top five organic rice exporters to the EU market, behind only the US, Pakistan, India and Thailand.

Regarding export markets, Vietnamese rice is now exported to 150 countries and territories in the world, but mostly in the low price segment.

Cambodia now exports rice to a few dozen countries, mainly picky markets.

According to Minister Cuong, in the long-term strategy, the agriculture sector should look at reducing the total area of rice plantations to a level that ensured food security and partial exports.

Cuong said the domestic market needed to ensure supplies and the quality of rice and packaging. Regarding export markets, Viet Nam should promote and expand markets, for example, in Africa and the Middle East, as well as regional markets such as Indonesia and the Philippines.

At The Rice Trader (TRT) World Rice Conference 2019 in Manila, the Philippines, Viet Nam’s organic rice from Soc Trang ST24 was crowned the best in the world on Tuesday. This is a good first step towards improvement of the country's rice quality.

Taiwan enhances healthcare ties with Viet Nam
 

VIETNAM BUSINESS NEWS HEADLINES NOVEMBER 23

Keven Cheng, director of Taitra in HCM City and leaders of Taiwan-based hospitals answer questions from the media on the sidelines of the “Taiwan Medical Miracles” event held in HCM City 

Leading hospitals in Taiwan are seeking to enhance cooperation with Vietnamese hospitals and promote their medical services and technology to Vietnamese citizens.

Keven Cheng, director of the Taiwan Trade Centre in HCM City, said: “Taiwan has advanced technology and high-quality medical services. The price of medical services is comparatively lower than in Thailand and Singapore, and is quite competitive in the market.”

Speaking at the “Taiwan Medical Miracles” event held in HCM City by Taitra last week, Cheng said that more than 420,000 foreign patients visited Taiwan for medical services in 2018, with one-third of them from Southeast Asia.

Dr Vo Van Thanh, advisor to Trung Vuong Hospital, said that many Vietnamese usually choose Singapore, Thailand, Japan and South Korea as the destination for medical treatment, but the number going to Taiwan remained modest since they were unaware of the good treatment in Taiwan for many diseases, including terminal diseases.

Ming-Feng Hou, superintendent of Kaohsiung Medial University Chung-Ho Memorial Hospital, said: “The quality of our medical treatment techniques is superior to that in US hospitals, especially in cancer treatment.”

“Unlike in other countries like Singapore where the medial sector is considered a business sector, the medical sector in Taiwan exists to serve citizens and is not for commercial purposes. So the sector has not been allowed to advertise in foreign countries for a long time.

“Despite the fact that we have cutting-edge medical techniques, affordable prices and considerate services, not many people in Viet Nam know about this,” he said.

However, the medical sector in Taiwan recently allowed promotion abroad.

At the event, representatives of China Medical University Hospital (Taiwan), Tainan Municipal An-Nan Hospital and Kaohsiung Medical University Chung-Ho Memorial Hospital introduced their medical services and technologies, including reconstructive microsurgery for complex deformities, high-tech medical technology, and burn therapy.

Keven said Taitra would support Vietnamese patients with consultations, connect them with hospitals, and assist in getting visas earlier than usual.

For patients who have been diagnosed with a terminal disease and face financial difficulty, Taitra will call on Taiwanese companies operating in Viet Nam to sponsor them, he said.

Bilateral trade between Taiwan and Viet Nam totalled US$14.5 billion in 2018, an increase of 6.5 per cent over 2017. Viet Nam is Taiwan’s ninth largest trading partner, while Taiwan is Viet Nam’s fifth largest trading partner.

Taiwan is striving to promote its New Southbound Policy and considers Viet Nam an important partner, according to Keven.

“We have a lot of cooperation in the field of medicine and health, including medical and health personnel training, epidemic prevention, and others. We believe this event will benefit our cooperation and exchanges in medical and health,” he said.

At the event, Kaohsiung Medial University Chung-Ho Memorial Hospital, China Steel Corporation (Taiwan) and DAI Y Clinic in Viet Nam signed a memorandum of understanding to provide healthcare services to Taiwanese businesspeople and their relatives in Viet Nam.

Vietnam Airlines takes off with digital transformation

National flag carrier Vietnam Airlines has won the 2019 ICT Award from the Asian-Oceania Computing Industry Organisation (ASOCIO) for its outstanding achievements and important contributions to the development and application of information technology in operation and services.

The carrier was the only Vietnamese enterprise to be honoured at the ASOCIO ICT Awards, which were presented at the ASOCIO-PIKOM Digital Summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia last week.

The ASOCIO ICT Awards are leading prestigious information technology awards, with great influence in the region of 24 member economies. This year marks continuous efforts by Vietnam Airlines to become a digital airline.

In order to become a digital airline, Vietnam Airlines has continuously promoted the application of information technology in its operation and business activities, enhancing the customer experience and perfecting four-star services, while proceeding to five star.

CEO of Vietnam Airlines Duong Tri Thanh said the ICT infrastructure in Viet Nam had witnessed a lot of positive changes in recent years, which helped the carrier digitalise flight management documents, apply artificial intelligence (AI) and use Big Data in business, operations and fleet management, enhancing automation and customisation to enhance the customer experience.

“Vietnam Airlines has been co-operating with many information technology giants to improve its infrastructure and make comprehensive transformations, helping it to become a digital airline in 2020,” Thanh said.

Thanh said Vietnam Airlines was the first Vietnamese airline to have completed phase 1 of the Skywise open data platform developed by Airbus and its Big Data partner Palantir.

“Skywise is considered the ‘heart’ of the digital revolution in the aviation industry,” Thanh said.

Skywise is the first-of-its-kind open data platform developed by Airbus for the aviation industry. By making the right information available at the right time, Skywise provides invaluable insights from the massive amounts of data that was previously locked in corporate and functional silos.

In terms of market research, Vietnam Airlines has been applying cloud computing designed by Oracle, which deploys flight analysis systems effectively, and a data analysis system on the Salesforce’s cloud platform to make market analysis and trade reporting.

For aircraft maintenance, the carrier has digitised and applied the management of materials, equipment, and aircraft maintenance and repair according to international standards (Best Practice), especially for new-generation aircraft such as the Boeing 787 and Airbus A350.

“Besides, the flight exploitation area has made great strides when applying electronic documents and e-flight folders for flight attendants since 2016, helping crews easily access information about meteorology, weather, technology and fuel with just a tablet, no need to bring a whole folder of paper documents as before,” Thanh said.

This year, Vietnam Airlines also launched a completely new version of its mobile application with many modern features, enabling passengers to quickly search for flights and itineraries, book tickets online, and use digital map positioning at nine domestic airports and 58 international airports.

Vietnam Airlines has recently applied onboard wifi on a number of A350 aircraft flights, becoming the first airline in Viet Nam to offer wifi to passengers.

This is an exciting step for the flag carrier towards embedding digital technology in its products and services to enhance customer experience, reaching closer towards international 5-star quality standards while becoming a digital airline.

“With the goal of becoming a digital airline, Vietnam Airlines continues to take the lead in adopting information technology to bring customers added services. By providing the first in-flight wifi service in Vietnam, we hope to bring passengers a brand-new experience and convenience by allowing internet access during flights,” said Executive Vice President of Vietnam Airlines Le Hong Ha.

“Vietnam Airlines will continue to expedite upgrades to its services on other flights, as well as further invest in advanced technologies and the development of high-quality products and services, all to provide the most enjoyable experience possible for passengers,” Ha added.

PetroVietnam exceeds targets two months before year-end

The Vietnam Oil and Gas Group (PetroVietnam) has exceeded its set yearly targets in terms of revenue, profit and state budget contribution two months before the year-end.

The group’s total revenue reached 627.74 trillion VND (27 billion USD) in the first 10 months of this year, 10.4 percent higher than the 10-month target and 2.5 percent higher than the yearly plan.

It contributed 86.42 trillion VND (3.72 billion USD), exceeding the 10-month plan by 10 percent.

During the period, the firm has exerted efforts to reach the targets against the backdrop of declining price of Brent crude oil which was fluctuating around 60 – 62 USD per barrel, much lower than the projected level of 65 USD per barrel.

Along with oil and gas, the group also enjoyed high production of other products. It produced 18.55 billion kWh of electricity, 1.26 million tonnes of fertilizer and 9.9 million tonnes of petroleum, surpassing 5.1 percent, 8.1 percent and 5.5 percent of the targets, respectively.

Last year, PetroVietnam’s total revenue reached 626.8 trillion VND, an increase of 26 percent compared to 2017, and it contributed 121.3 trillion VND to the State budget, up 24 percent year-on-year./.

US expects to export more agricultural products to Vietnam

Under-Secretary of Agriculture for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Ted McKinney has led trade mission to Vietnam in an effort to boost agricultural exports from the US to the Southeast Asian nation.

He was accompanied by representatives of 13 states and nearly 40 companies on the trip.

Last year, Vietnam’s agricultural exports to the US totalled 4.2 billion USD, ranking 7th among exporters to the US.

Vietnam has enjoyed a trade surplus of around 40 billion USD with the US annually with main export items including textile and garment, footwear and electronics.

The Vietnamese market is very promising so the number of accompanying firms this time ranks third among the US trade mission trip, said McKinney.

Vietnam has seen growing living standards, as a result, Vietnamese people are demanding more high-quality farming products, he said, adding that the US agriculture industry can meet such expectations.

He also noted that the US Department of Agriculture worked with the Ministries of Industry and Trade, and Agriculture and Rural Development of Vietnam in this effort.

McKinney said agricultural products from the US are favoured by many local consumers but their prices remain relatively high, largely due to administrative costs in Vietnam.

Vietnam has been streamlining customs procedures while the US side has been supporting American exporters to cut costs and clearance time./.

Vietnam, Italy promote economic cooperation

The Embassy of Vietnam in Italy recently coordinated with authorities from Castelbuono in Palermo, the capital of southern Sicily region, to organise a forum on enhancing economic cooperation.

More than 30 businesses from the Sicily region participated in the event.

Delegates presented cooperation possibilities between Vietnam and Sicily, focusing on trade of goods such as farm produce, rice, coffee and spices from Vietnam, and food, tourism and hotel services from Sicily.

Nguyen Duc Thanh, Minister Counselor at the Vietnamese embassy in Italy, said from the experience of developing production and export of dragon fruits, Vietnam can study the possibility of cooperation with Sicily in planting and exporting the region’s “Fico d’India”, a plant similar to Vietnamese dragon fruit.

Salvatore Caltagirone, a member in charge of the Madonie nature reserve, one of the 10 geological parks in Italy recognised by UNESCO, expressed his hope of finding Vietnamese partners to coordinate for development research and the preservation of nature reserves in Italy and Vietnam through funding from the European Union.

After the forum, participants said they wished to organise a larger workshop soon to step up bilateral cooperation./.

Vietnam wants to learn from Japan’s multi-service cooperatives

President of the Vietnam Cooperative Alliance (VCA) Nguyen Ngoc Bao has asked Japan to help Vietnam develop multi-service cooperatives which have proved successful in Japan.

Over the past seven decades, cooperatives in Japan have expanded on a large scale. They have been operated based on the multi-service approach and competed fairly with each other following the market mechanism.

They are non-profit organisations which cover a wide range of areas, from production, services, distribution to provision of financial services, such as credit and insurance services, to their members.

Bao visited a purchasing and processing facility of the National Federation of Agricultural Cooperative Association (ZEN-NOH) in Ibaraki which has distributed 30 percent of the prefecture’s agricultural products to the market. The ZEN-NOH is a member of the Japan Agricultural Cooperatives (JA) Group.

The facility purchases farm produce from local farmers to supply to the market daily.

He said Japan’s cooperatives are effective because they adopt their own regulations and are managed under the market mechanism with little support from the government. The model is applicable in Vietnam, he noted.

Bao added that the VCA has asked the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the ZEN-NOH to send experts to share experience with Vietnamese agricultural cooperatives in accelerating reforms and operating under market mechanism.

Japan currently has over 600 agricultural cooperatives with more than 8.6 million farmer households./.

Rooftop solar power becomes increasingly popular in Dong Nai

More and more households and commercial establishments in the southern province of Dong Nai are installing rooftop solar panels to generate electricity for their own use and to sell the surplus to the local utility.

Pham Quoc Tuan in Bien Hoa city’s Tan Tien ward installed a 50KWp solar power system in his house in May and no longer needs to buy electricity from the Dong Nai Power Company (DNPC).

In fact, he has a surplus he sells to the DNCP.

He was paying 20 million VND (860 USD) a month for power since he also has a coffee shop in his house.

His rooftop solar power system produces about 6,000kWh of electricity a month whereas he uses 4,000-5,000kWh, he said.

He sells the surplus at a price of 2,100 VND per kilowatt-hour, he added.

The Thanh Duc Livestock and Production Services Commercial Company Limited in Xuan Loc district invested 600 million VND (25,900 USD) in a rooftop panel a year ago.

The system operates efficiently and meets around 40 percent of the company’s requirement.

Truong Dinh Quoc, deputy director of the DNPC, said the number of consumers installing a rooftop system and signing a contract to sell surplus electricity to the company has increased from 26 in the middle of last year to 770 now.

Most of them are households, he said.

At the current rate the number is expected to increase rapidly, easing the power shortage, he said.

Solar power is friendly to the environment while the cost of operating and maintaining the system is low, according to the DNCP.

To promote solar, the DNCP has taken several measures such as propagating its benefits to the public.

Dong Nai has favourable conditions for producing solar power like an average of 2,445 hours of sunshine a year and a high radiation rate of 1,849kWh per square metre a year, according to its Department of Industry and Trade.

The province has many factories and companies that have the infrastructure and roofs suitable for installing solar panels, it added.

Solar power systems could be used for 20-30 years and recover their cost within four to five years, according to suppliers./.

Bubs Australia ready to put milk products on sale in Vietnam

The formula milk company Bubs Australia has announced that it had reached an agreement with Vietnam TVV Service and Trading Co., Ltd. to distribute its formula milk products for children in Vietnam via the mother and baby store chain BiboMart JS Company.

The range of products from Bubs will officially hit the shelves of 135 BiboMart supermarkets, starting from early December 2019.

A Bubs representative said that the two-year deal is expected to generate revenue of approximately 1.02 million USD during the first year, and 1.36 million USD in the second year.

Bubs expressed its desire to enter into a long-term partnership in Vietnam.

According to Bubs, the new partnership with TVV and Bibo Mart marks a new milestone as the Australian firms seek to expand into Asia and Vietnam, a country that it considers to be one of the region's fastest growing markets.

Ngo Tran Khanh Van, CEO of TVV, said she believes that there is huge potential for the Bubs brand domestically, adding that cooperation with Bubs Australia presents an important opportunity due to the firm’s high-quality products and intensive nutrition formula.

The Australian enterprise is a well-known brand of goat milk and is regarded as an intensive and fully-produced form of "organic" milk in its home country./.

PPP regulations to be changed to serve development

More than per 76 percent of current investment projects following public-private partnerships (PPP) are in the field of transport infrastructure, but investors still feel insecure.

Of the 289 PPP investment projects, there are 220 involved in transport infrastructure, said Deputy Minister of Transport Nguyen Nhat attending a conference themed "Solutions to promote investment in the development of transport system structure under PPP" in the capital last week.

Nhat told Viet Nam News: “The total investment capital of PPP projects in the form of construction-business-transfer or BOT is worth about 210 trillion VND (more than 9 billion USD), and this was significantly supporting the limited budget in the field.”

“The legal framework for PPPs is not strong enough to encourage more private investors, especially in the context that an infrastructure project usually lasts between 15 and 20 years, and has high risks,” he said.

 

The Ministry of Transport sent 125 delegations and inspectors to PPP projects between 2018-19, and the Vietnam Association of Road Traffic Investors (Varsi) surveyed 12 road projects. The results showed investors faced many obstacles and problems carrying out PPP projects in Vietnam.

Tran Chung, chairman of Varsi, said regulations for PPP capital management remained lax as State capital in PPP projects was mainly allocated from the annual public investment plan.

In more detail, Can Van Luc, chief expert at the Vietnam Development Bank (BIDV), said PPP capital came from four sources: 20 percent from owner's equity, 40-50 percent from credit institutions, 20 percent from capital markets such as corporate and project bonds, and 20 percent from the fund.

Luc said BIDV specialised in medium and long-term capital, but it was in a restructuring period and could not meet the capital demands of all projects. At the same time, other credit institutions in the market preferred short-term loans as long-term loans could lead to bad debt.

Saying that PPP was an effective method to attract investment, Nguyen Mai, vice chairman of the Vietnam Association of Foreign Invested Enterprises, said: “The biggest roadblocks for PPP in Vietnam is that local investors have encountered a series of difficulties when implementing projects, and foreign investors are wary of getting involved in road projects.”

Mai told Viet Nam News the lack of guarantees or a risk-sharing mechanism was the biggest obstruction for investors. For example, the Government should come up with effective methods to ensure the toll collection roadmap. Conflicts between investors and local people caused losses for investors.

Nguyen Van Khang, deputy general director of the Cuong Thuan Investment and Development Joint Stock Company (IDICO) recalled a case in 2017 when some people opposed paying a toll at BOT stations. Without regulations clarifying the responsibilities and rights of stakeholders, corporates faced losses.

Capital was another matter, according to BIDV’s Can Van Luc, who said the minimum capital of 200 billion VND (8.6 million USD) for a PPP mentioned in the draft law was lower than the international level which ranges from 50-100 million USD.

Luc said slow investment would take its toll on projects, reducing investment efficiency and putting off big investors.

The conference was held last week to get more ideas for the draft law on PPPs with 11 chapters and 112 articles. Composed by the Ministry of Planning and Investment, the draft is about to be submitted to the National Assembly for consideration and is expected to be approved in May 2020./.

Auto market filled with gloom despite falling prices

Hopes of a big rise in car sales in October thanks to a steep drop in prices and the rollout of new models have been dashed, spreading more gloom about the sector’s health.

The Vietnam Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (VAMA) said that total car sales in October reached 28,948 units, a slight increase of 4.3 percent compared to September but much lower than the rest of the year.

Of the total number, sales of passenger cars inched up 2 percent to 21,355 vehicles, while figures for commercial and special-purpose vehicles leaped 11 percent and 14 percent to 7,228 and 365, respectively.

Some 16,406 domestically-assembled cars were sold, falling 3 percent month on month, while sales of imported units climbed 16 percent to 12,542.

Toyota continued to lead sales with 7,216 vehicles, followed by Misubishi (3,566 units), Ford (3,114 units), and Honda (3,058 units).

A series of promotions were offered by dealers during October, but experts said they were not attractive enough to entice customers.

Even the Vietnam Motor Show 2019 which took place at late October was unable to have a major impact, with visitors merely browsing the latest models and advanced technologies.

Experts believe the Vietnamese automobile market will rev up at the end of the year and the beginning of 2020 as the Lunar New year nears and demand for cars is high.

During January-October, VAMA members sold a total 259,282 units, a year-on-year increase of 16 percent.

However, the sales figures did not reflect the country’s entire automobile market as they did not include sales of other manufacturers that are not VAMA members. For example, TC Motor sold 7,737 units in October, increasing its total sales in the first ten months to 63,210 units.

Meanwhile, several VAMA members such as Audi, Jaguar, Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz, Subaru, Volkswagen, Volvo and VinFast did not announce their sales figures or did not send sales reports to VAMA./.

Livestock exports expected to fetch 1.2 billion USD this year

The livestock and related sectors’ exports were worth 855.4 million USD in the first nine months of the year and is expected to reach 1.2 billion USD for the year, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Phung Duc Tien, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, said 8,800 tonnes of pork were exported for 44 million USD, nearly 17,800 tonnes of poultry meat for 18.8 million USD, 7.4 million poultry eggs for 1.4 million USD, nearly 23,000 tonnes of honey for 28.7 million USD in the period, besides, dairy products and animal feed and raw materials for making animal feed for 230 million USD and 516 million USD.

Vietnam began exporting processed chicken in 2017 to Japan, one of the most demanding markets in the world, he said.

By the end of last year 1,080 tonnes of processed chicken had been shipped to Japan for nearly 6 million USD.

Total poultry meat exports last year topped 25,762 tonnes, 124 percent more than in 2017.

Though volumes had not been large, these exports had greatly improved Vietnam’s commercial reputation.

Nguyen Xuan Duong, Acting Director of the Department of Livestock Husbandry, said they were proof of the efficiency of authorities, capability of livestock enterprises and the quality and safety of Vietnamese livestock products.

According to the ministry, nine Vietnamese companies have exported chicken eggs and salted eggs to Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan, Korea, Cambodia, Laos, and Australia, while one has exported fertilised chicken eggs to Myanmar.

Enterprises have also exported pigs and sucklings on the hoof and frozen sucklings to Hong Kong and Malaysia.

Honey exports increased strongly in 2008-2018 to reach over 40,000 tonnes last year, with the main markets being the US, the EU, Japan, the Republic of Korea, and Thailand.

The country has exported dairy and dairy products to many countries and territories.

Last month, TH Milk JSC became the first Vietnamese firm to export dairy products to China following a protocol signed between the two countries.

Duong said despite achievements, the sector faced challenges due to its small scale, poor management, low productivity, poor control of diseases, and a lack of linkages between farming, slaughtering and processing in the production chain.

There were also problems with food safety, hygiene and disease control, he added.

The Strategies for Livestock Development by 2020 and 2030 envisages focusing on breeding pigs, poultry, cows for meat, and dairy cows, which could help the country achieve its potential and expand exports.

To achieve its targets, livestock production will be developed by modernising and industrialising farms.

The industry has to reorganise slaughtering and processing to ensure hygiene, safety and environmental protection.

Enhancing linkages between businesses, co-operatives, business groups, and small farmers and breeders would be very important for developing the sector in a sustainable manner, Tien said.

The Law on Animal Husbandry, which comes into effect on January 1 next year, would help build a closed animal husbandry industry, increasing exports of livestock products, he added./.

German company ZF opens first plant in Vietnam

Germany’s ZF Friedrichshafen, a global technology company, has inaugurated its first plant producing chassis modules for cars in Hai Phong city.

Located in the 70-ha Supplier Park of VinFast Manufacturing Automobile and E-scooter Plant on Cat Hai island, the plant produces chassis modules just-in-time for a local automotive manufacturer.

ZF has invested more than 25 million EUR in the site.

The Vietnamese car industry is one of the fastest growing in Southeast Asia, according to ZF. With its Hai Phong site, ZF takes its first step into this market, following the demand of VinFast, founded in 2017 as the first Vietnamese automotive manufacturer.

ZF is a global technology company and supplies systems for passenger cars, commercial vehicles and industrial technology./.

Vietnam-Flanders business forum talks EVFTA, EVIPA

The signing of the free trade agreement and the investment protection agreement between Vietnam and the European Union (EU) last June has marked a new development step in their partnership and comprehensive cooperation, said Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment Vu Dai Thang.

Speaking at the Vietnam-Flanders Business Forum in Belgium early this month, Thang said the deals will contribute to promoting economic links between the ASEAN Economic Community and the EU, and spurring the global economy.

The EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) and the EU-Vietnam Investment Protection Agreement (EVIPA) will also help Vietnam attract high-quality investment from the EU, and create favourable conditions for Vietnamese investors to access the market, he noted.

Once completed, the agreements, together with efforts and suitable policies of both sides, will bring about pragmatic benefits to people and businesses of Vietnam and the EU, including those from Belgium.

Vietnamese Ambassador to Belgium and Luxemburg, and head of the Vietnamese Delegation to the EU Vu Anh Quang highlighted the deals’ contributions to stepping up Vietnam’s economic reform and integration.

Thanks to the EVFTA and EVIPA, Vietnam will develop its economy in line with principles of a market economy, and international and EU laws and regulations, he said.

The ambassador called on Belgian authorities, organisations and businesses to help to push ahead with the ratification of the agreements by the European Parliament.

The participating Belgian firms were updated on opportunities for investment and business cooperation in Vietnam after the deals come into force, and were advised to prepare resources to optimise these opportunities.

Within the framework of the forum, the Vietnamese Ministry of Transport and the Flemish Ministry of Mobility and Public Works signed a letter of intent on cooperation during the 2020-2022 period.

Over the past 24 years, the Flemish authorities have supported Vietnam in human resources development in service of such sectors as aviation and inland waterway./.

Finance-banking system ready for tech

Digital transformation would push Vietnam’s finance-banking system in the years to come, helping it catch up with global standards, said Deputy Governor of the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) Nguyen Kim Anh.

Speaking at the Fintech Vietnam Forum 2019 (FVF) held in Hanoi recently, the SBV Deputy Governor said it was the right time to promote digital transformation in the finance-banking system whilst the country’s economy was enjoying high growth.

Some credit institutions have already taken the initiative to research and apply financial technology solutions to optimise products and services.

He said accompanying the traditional financial and banking system in the digital transformation process were financial technology (Fintech) companies, who would help the Government achieve its socio-economic development goals.

Vietnam has witnessed a dramatic increase in the number of new businesses, especially start-ups, in recent years. In the past four years, the number of Fintech companies has increased from 40 to about 150, Anh said.

He said the figures showed the dynamism of the businesses, especially start-ups in Vietnam, where the business environment was improving. Many management agencies, including the central bank, had helped create a legal framework for the development of technology and management capacity.

At the forum, experts from the central bank, World Bank, Asian Development Bank, Visa and MasterCard shared different perspectives on the digital transformation process in banking operations, technology support and development policies, cyber security and automation of financial - banking services.

Asian Development Bank (ADB) Country Director in Vietnam Eric Sidgwick said new technologies had great potential in increasing access to finance for those who had not or had limited access to banking services.

It also enhanced efficiency and financial security in a rapidly growing market like Vietnam, he said.

The FVF’s organising committee also announced the results of the Fintech Challenge Vietnam 2019 competition. Through this contest, the State Bank of Vietnam will capture new service solutions and digital transformation trends to build policy mechanisms and issue management regulations, creating a favourable environment for innovation./. 

Collaboration needed to support HCM City’s industrial products

Cooperation between the State, scientists, commercial banks and enterprises is needed to strengthen the development of Ho Chi Minh City’s key industrial products, a city official said at a seminar held recently by the municipal Department of Industry and Trade.

Le Thanh Liem, Vice Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee, said the city would continue to issue incentives to boost the competitiveness of key industrial sectors and support businesses in priority areas, including mechanical automation; electronics and information technology; food and foodstuff processing; and chemicals, plastic and rubber.

It will also continue to offer financial assistance to companies that produce key industrial products. Loans worth thousands of billions of VND, for example, have been offered to enterprises to purchase equipment and join trade promotion programmes, according to Liem.

Companies operating in key industrial product groups as well as firms with high potential will be given priority for land use under the city’s key industrial product programme.

Small- and medium-sized enterprises involved in key industrial product groups will receive training and consultancy in quality management, innovation, intellectual property rights, and branding disputes. In addition, the city will help businesses acquire certifications in advanced technologies, Liem said.

Nguyen Ky Phung, Deputy Director of the city’s Department of Science and Technology, said the department had funded many projects to manufacture domestically made equipment that costs 30-70 percent less than imported equipment of a similar quality.

Scientists from universities and research institutes have also urged enterprises to become more involved in collaborative efforts, he said.

Incentives to support sectors with high development potential should also be given, experts said, adding that assistance in new production technology, better data systems and human resources development should be provided./.

JICA’s green growth project in Ha Long Bay bears fruit

The project for green growth promotion in Ha Long Bay area of the northeastern province of Quang Ninh has yielded some outcomes, according to a representative from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

Satoshi Kaito, deputy director of environmental policy department from Japan’s Shiga prefecture, made the statement at a conference held in Ha Long city to review the second phase of the project – which was jointly carried out by the provincial People’s Committee and the JICA from November 2016 to 2019.

Kaito said the project aims to support Quang Ninh to promote green growth and reduce environmental pollution in Ha Long Bay area through the implementation of sustainable environment and tourism development policies.

Under the project, the JICA has helped Quang Ninh open a journey exploring the history and culture of Quan Lan island in Van Don district and another for visitors to experience the life of farmers and fishermen on the island, according to Kaito.

The Japanese agency also helped with the installation of eco-friendly marine composting toilets at tourist boats and building “Blue Sail” certificate for tourist ships on Ha Long Bay, he said.

It also supported the province to build energy-saving solutions and publish white papers on green growth in the bay in 2017 and 2018, he added.

Vice Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Dang Huy Hau said Quang Ninh defines that in order to obtain sustainable development, the province must push ahead with economic restructuring, shifting from dependence on industrial production and mining industry to service development, sustainable tourism and sea-based economy.

The province has set up a research centre for Ha Long Bay according to the model of Biwa lake in Shiga prefecture. The centre is tasked with conducting scientific research, applying and developing technologies in environmental resources and bidoversity conservation, and promoting international cooperation in science-technology research and development, and human resources training.

The centre is operating effectively, contributing to the improvement of environment and conservation of biodiversity and ecosystem in Ha Long Bay, he said.

At the conference, participants discussed a number of measures to promote green growth and sustainable environmental development in Ha Long Bay and neighbouring areas.

The JICA called on relevant agencies to strengthen environmental management activities in the next phase of the project, including making effective use of environmental protection funds, implementing regulations on pollution control, promoting ecotourism, and expanding the model of recycling organic waste.

Within the framework of the project, Quang Ninh and Shiga signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperation to develop economy and environment.

Ha Long Bay is a must-see destination in Quang Ninh province for almost all the tourists. It was recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994 and 2000.

So far this year, Ha Long Bay has gained a lot of global titles. In July, the bay was listed among the world’s most beautiful sunrise spots by the Microsoft Network (MSN).

In August, British travel magazine Rough Guides included Ha Long Bay in its selection of the 100 most beautiful places to visit next year.

In the Rough Guides to the 100 Best Places on Earth, the magazine describes “the scattering of limestone pinnacles jutting out of the smooth waters of Ha Long Bay”, around four hours east of Hanoi, as an “incredible sight”. The bay was the only Vietnamese destination in the list.

In September, Ha Long Bay was named as one of the most popular attractions in Asia, according to the South China Morning Post (SCMP) based in Hong Kong.

Around 5.2 million foreigners visited Ha Long Bay in 2018, up 22 percent from a year ago, accounting for 30 percent of the 15.6 million foreign tourist arrivals to Vietnam./.

Opportunities could be missed if no sandbox model is developed

Opportunities will slip through Vietnamese firms’ hands if a sandbox is not developed soon, NextTech chairman Nguyen Hoa Binh said at a conference recently.

A sandbox is a regulatory field where technological firms operate and test new ideas to help the local economy catch up with the latest global developments.

New, creative business models cannot be handled by a traditional legal framework, he said.

For the last 10 years, electronic payment has become a big sector in Vietnam. But without the support of the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV), this sector wouldn’t have developed, nor would financial technology (fintech) firms, Binh said.

If new technologies and applications – which prove efficient for society – are not used broadly, there will be more spending and instability for development, he said.

In addition, the State budget may suffer a big loss of income as the lack of regulations may help foreign traders evade taxes when doing business via tech apps in Vietnam, he said.

Moreover, foreign investors will be discouraged when finding investment opportunities in the country as they fear a lack of regulations will enhance risks, Binh said.

Nguyen Xuan Viet Binh, executive of e-wallet firm Moca – partner with mobile transport platform Grab, said a regulatory sandbox may force fintech firms to get more creative.

People will be able to get closer access to comprehensive financial and banking services, encouraging the development of a cashless economy in Vietnam, he said.

He suggested the regulatory sandbox should differentiate already existing ideas from brand new ones as current methods should be monitored in the short term to evaluate their feasibility and efficiency.

Meanwhile, authorities should watch new business models such as peer-to-peer (P2P) lending in the long term so companies can make the best use of those models, he added.

Businesses can develop their products and services, then the outcomes are evaluated by the public. Any advantages and drawbacks would be found, as will solutions, Viet Binh said.

According to Financial Deep Mind general director Bui Viet Dung, a regulatory sandbox should only contains firms with new business models and technologies and Government agencies should watch the sandbox closely with risk-hedging solutions.

Ngo Van Duc, a senior official at the Payment Department of the SBV, acknowledged there was no doubt the fintech sector will grow stronger in Vietnam, however, more could be done to help it.

He said there are no regulations mentioning the management of fintech firms, so it is necessary to make a place where companies are free to test new ideas.

Nguyen Quang Dong, Director of the Institute for Policy Studies and Media Development (IPS), suggested the Government form a special unit to take care of the development of the regulatory sandbox.

The unit should include different ministries, the SBV and other agencies so they are all held accountable, he said./.

 
 

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