BUSINESS NEWS OCTOBER 9

Chinese firm completes acquisition of IVS shares

BUSINESS NEWS OCTOBER 9



Guotai Junan International Holdings Limited (Hong Kong) has gained approval from Chinese regulators to purchase shares in the Vietnam Investment Securities Company (IVS), cafef.vn has reported.

In May, IVS shareholders approved a plan by the board of directors on issuing an additional 35.35 million shares for VND10,800 (US$0.46) per share.

The shares were issued for Guotai Junan International Holdings Limited (Hongkong) to raise charter capital by VND381.8 billion ($16.4 million) to VND693.5 billion.

After the deal, the Chinese firm will hold nearly 51 per cent of the charter capital in Vietnamese brokerage business.

Guotai Junan International Holdings Limited will expand its market in Southeast Asia as it aims to acquire another target in Singapore.

The deal was first reported by Chinese media.

IVS was founded in late August 2007 and listed shares on the Ha Noi Stock Exchange under code IVS in August 2011.

The company now has 34 million outstanding shares on the northern bourse.

IVS shares were flat at VND10,700 per share on Tuesday.

In the first half of 2019, IVS earned VND17.8 billion in revenue and VND3.55 billion in post-tax profit.

Vietnam’s PMI falls to 50.5 in September

The Viet Nam Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) fell to 50.5 in September, signalling only a marginal improvement in business conditions, and the weakest since February 2016.

According to the latest survey released by Nikkei and IHS Markit on Tuesday, the reading was down from 51.4 in August, down for the second month in a row.

“The initial signs of a slowdown which we noted last month strengthened during September as demand waned again. Manufacturers responded to softer inflows of new work by bringing the recent period of output growth to an end and showing a reluctance to take on extra staff and purchase inputs. Concerns about demand conditions were also evident in relatively weak sentiment data,” Andrew Harker, Associate Director at IHS Markit, said.

"The latest PMI figures show that while the Vietnamese manufacturing sector has been one of the best performers globally in recent months, the slowdown in global trade flows amid trade tensions between the US and China is starting to impact firms negatively as we enter the final quarter of 2019,” Harker added.

Vietnamese manufacturing production dipped in September amid a further slowdown in the rate of new order growth, the report said, adding employment levels were also down slightly and business confidence was low.

Signs of weakening demand conditions meant a continued lack of pressure on prices. Input costs were up only marginally, while output prices fell again.

A slowdown in new order growth was seen at the end of the third quarter, with the latest modest increase the softest since August 2016. Weaker customer demand was mentioned by a number of respondents. This was also the case in international markets as new export orders rose at a slower pace.

Weaker growth of new business resulted in a slight fall in manufacturing production, the first in two years.

Staffing levels were also reduced at the end of the third quarter, ending a three-month sequence of job creation. Employee resignations were reported to have contributed to the fall. Reduced operating capacity meant firms were sometimes unable to complete orders during the month, leading to a modest increase in work backlogs.

Lower output requirements discouraged input buying in the sector, with growth in purchasing activity slowing to near-stagnation. Stocks of both purchases and finished goods also increased marginally.

Price reductions by some suppliers attempting to secure new business meant the rate of input cost inflation remained muted in September. Input prices rose marginally, and at a much weaker pace than the series average.

A lack of pressure from input costs allowed manufacturers to offer price reductions to customers to stimulate demand. Output prices decreased for the 10th month in a row. Although the latest reduction was slight, it was the most marked since June.

Suppliers' delivery times lengthened for the second month running, with delays sometimes linked to shortages of materials at vendors.

Business sentiment deteriorated for the second successive month in September. While firms generally remained optimistic of a rise in production over the coming year, confidence was the lowest since August 2018 and the second-weakest since future expectations data were added to the survey in April 2012. Worries about market demand were behind reduced sentiment, according to respondents.

Vietnam appreciated as emerging market for investors

Rapid economic growth and high business profits have made Viet Nam an attractive destination for investors, CEO of Russia’s VTB Capital Investments and Senior Vice President of VTB Bank Vladimir Potapov has said.

He told the press on Sunday that Viet Nam’s location, mineral and labour resources have supported its economic growth effectively.

He also highlighted the country’s potential to raise profits of businesses and spur the growth of the stock market and its economic reforms, with annual growth rate of 6-7 per cent and inflation rate at 2-3 per cent.

The population structure, with 41 per cent of 94 million people below 25 years ago, has also created favourable conditions for national economic growth, Potapov said.

According to him, Viet Nam is an important frontier market and it will take the country one or two years to reach the status of an emerging market.

The higher status would help Viet Nam attract investors who are seeking growth opportunities amidst the sluggish global economy and low interest rates, he said.

Vinh Phuc: Transport revenue exceeds 3.2 trillion VND in 9 months

Revenue of transport companies in the northern province of Vinh Phuc exceeded 3.2 trillion VND (138.4 million USD) in the first nine months of 2019, up 10 percent year on year.

Of the sum, goods transport contributed nearly 2.5 trillion VND, while passenger transport made up over 730 billion VND.

During the reviewed period, the province’s transport sector carried close to 19 million passengers and more than 25 tonnes of goods in total.

In the coming time, the sector plans to focus on improving service quality, attracting the participation of more economic sectors, and encouraging the development of public transport.

Currently, Vinh Phuc is home to seven cooperatives, 41 businesses and 251 households offering passenger transport services. The figures for goods transportation are 17 cooperatives, 428 firms, and more than 1,000 households, respectively./.

Italian firms hope to partner with Vietnam in agricultural production

The Italian Government hopes to promote commercial activities in Vietnam, especially in the field of manufacturing and processing agricultural products, turning Vietnam into a strategic entrance for trading and investment of Italy in Southeast Asia, said Italian Ambassador to Vietnam Antonio Alessandro.

He made the statement during the event “Machinery Made in Italy”, held in Hanoi on October 1-2 by the Italian Chamber of Commerce (ICHAM) in Vietnam and the system of Italian Chambers of Commerce in 11 Asian countries.

ICHAM is holding the event with the aim of supporting Vietnam’s agricultural sector. At the event, a B2B meeting was organised to connect Italian companies operating the field of food machinery and importers and distributors of agricultural products from the Asian countries of India, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam.

ICHAM and the system of 11 Italian Chambers of Commerce in Asia hope this event would offer business opportunities for Italian food machinery companies and their customers in Asia.

The strategic partnership between Vietnam and Italy has witnessed remarkable development in many fields, especially in economic co-operation, said Alessandro.

Machinery has accounted for the biggest export value from Italy to Vietnam. Italy is one of the world’s leading countries in exporting technology, especially machinery production lines, because it has invested in thorough research on production technology to provide the best technological solutions for customers and minimising production costs.

Alessandro told Vietnam News that the Italian Government attached great importance to Vietnam's market, adding that the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) would open many opportunities for businesses of the two countries, including opportunities for small and medium enterprises of Italy.

In the years to come, many Italian businesses would head to Vietnam to open investment facilities, provide equipment and technological lines for Vietnamese enterprises in many localities in the country, he said.

In 2018, the export of agricultural products of Vietnam hit a record of 40.02 billion USD. This was also the year with the highest growth rate in the past seven years and this attracted many big foreign companies to invest in agriculture in Vietnam./.

Tra Vinh calls for investment in tourism projects

The Mekong Delta province of Tra Vinh is calling for investment in six eco-tourism and culture tourism projects with a total capital of 2.78 trillion VND (nearly 119.5 million USD).

Director of the provincial Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism Duong Hoang Sum said the Long Tri islet, which specialises in fruit trees, cypress and nipa forests, are suitable for developing eco-tourism.

Along with stunning landscapes of mangrove forests and islets on Tien and Hau Rivers, Tra Vinh boasts many popular attractions like Ba Dong sea, Ba Om pond, a wide range of national intangible cultural heritages, ancient houses, lush orchard gardens, and 142 Khmer pagodas built with classical architecture.

Overriding priority is to build Ba Om pond tourism complex into a national tourism site, he said, adding the province is calling for investments to mangrove eco-tourism area, Duyen Hai hot mineral spring, and Ba Dong beach eco-tourism site.

Furthermore, Cau Ke district, Tra Cu district and Duyen Hai town will be built into hubs for orchard tourism, sea tourism as well as festival and spiritual tourism.

Aware of huge potential of community-based tourism business, the province has given financial support to local households to develop homestay services.

Earlier this month, the province launched the Con Chim community-based tourism site in Chau Thanh district. A large dune on Co Chien river, Con Chim has its natural and farming areas spanning 60 and 34 hectares, respectively. Since May this year, 20 tours to Con Chim have been sold on a trial basis, and they have received praise for service quality from travel agencies and tourists.

In order to attract investment in this field, a part from implementing policies of the Government, the local authorities devised preferential policies to support tourism investment in the area in 2018-2020.

Thanks to local efforts, Tra Vinh attracted more than 765,400 visitors during the first three quarters of 2019, including 27,300 foreign tourists, up 66.46 percent from the same time last year.

The locality raked in nearly 280 billion VND in tourism revenue so far this year, 107.24 billion VND higher than that of last year.

Tra Vinh aims to develop tourism into a spearhead economic sector by 2025, contributing to promoting the locality’s socio-economic development./.

HCM City taps potential for medical tourism

BUSINESS NEWS OCTOBER 9

International visitors who came to Ho Chi Minh City for health care make up 40 percent of the total number of foreign tourists to Vietnam for this purpose.

The southern metropolis has focused on high-quality dental and cosmetic treatment, traditional medicine and medical check-ups, among others.

Statistics reveal that last year, Vietnam welcomed 300,000 foreigners coming for medical check-ups and 57,000 for inpatient treatment, earning the country more than 2 billion USD.

HCM City attracts this group of foreign visitors thanks to its application of traditional and modern medicine in cosmetic treatment, as well as its strength in dental and fertility treatment.

Being aware of foreign tourists’ increasing demand for medical services in the city, travel companies such as Saigontourist and Fiditour have coordinated with local hospitals to organise medical tours.

According to Nguyen Duc Minh, Director of the HCM City Odonto Maxillo Facial Hospital, the number of foreign and overseas Vietnamese patients in the hospital increases about 10 percent each year. The hospital offers low-cost but quality services like those in other countries.

Also, the Tu Du Hospital is well-known for its in-vitro fertilization with each case costing only about 100 million VND (4,300 USD) as compared to 400-700 million VND charged by hospitals in other regional countries.

Some major hospitals in the city have also opened international departments, luring crowds of foreigners.

In 2018, the HCM City Medical Tourism Guide with basic information about travel and health care in the city was released in both Vietnamese and English.

In September 2019, the municipal Health Department launched a mobile application enabling locals and tourists to search for information about health facilities in the city.

Apart from promotion activities, HCM City has improved the quality of medical services and accommodations at health centres as well as foreign language skills of local doctors, while cooperating with partners in this sphere./.

Vietnam’s credit growth expands 8.4 percent

Vietnam’s credit growth has expanded by 8.4 percent from the end of 2018 so far this year, the General Statistics Office (GSO) has reported.

The gain was slower than last year's figure when credit rose 9.52 percent.

Capital mobilised by banks was also moderate, rising by 8.68 percent compared with 9.15 percent during the same period last year.

Interest rates remained relatively stable, with the rate of mainly medium- and long-term deposits inching up at some banks that needed capital to meet the central bank’s adequacy ratio regulations.

Interest rates for one-to-six month deposits stood at 4.5-5.5 percent per year, 5.5-6.8 percent per year for six-to-12 month deposits, and 6.6-7.5 percent for 13 months and upwards.

Meanwhile, lending rates averaged 6 to 9 percent per year for short-term loans and 9 to 11 percent per year for medium- and long-term loans.

In the first nine months, banks largely met credit demands in the investment, production and business sectors. Notably, banks continued focusing on manufacturing, business borrowers and prioritised industries, as per Government guideline, while loans for risky sectors were under strict control.

The central bank has targeted credit growth of 14 percent this year, lower than in previous years. Experts have so far hailed the moderate credit growth, saying it was a positive sign for banks' asset quality and capitalisation.

According to Moody’s, tighter credit could lead to rising problem loan ratios. However, lower credit growth encouraged banks to focus on borrowers of better quality, which would improve asset quality in the long term.

Moderate credit growth would also lower pressure on capital, especially for State-owned banks, the rating agency said./.

Industry hits four-year high of 9.56 pct in nine months

Vietnam’s industry expanded by 9.56 percent so far this year, a four-year record, according to the General Statistics Office (GSO).

The manufacturing and processing sector led the growth of industry and the whole economy with an expansion of 11.37 percent, while mining grew slightly by 2.68 percent.

Head of the GSO’s Industrial Statistics Department Pham Dinh Thuy said the growth of the manufacturing and processing sector was the highest among the ASEAN member states, including 11.52 percent, 10.9 percent and 11.68 percent in the first, second and third quarter, respectively.

Among the industries, several sectors recorded year-on-year growth, including coke and refined petrol up 38 percent, metallurgy 36 percent, rubber and plastics 15 percent.

Production of electronics, computers and optical products hiked by 6.3 percent, lower than the 14.2 percent growth a year ago, and cigarettes up 4 percent.

Crude oil was down 7 percent, motorbikes 9.4 percent, mobile phone spare parts 11.1 percent, refined sugar 15.8 percent.

The inventory rate in manufacturing and processing sector hit 72.1 percent during the nine months, compared to 63.8 percent the same period last year.

Thuy attributed the high inventory to petroleum, automobiles and motorbikes, transportation vehicles and metal production.

As of September 1, the number of workers in industrial enterprises increased by 1.2 percent month-on-month and 2.3 percent year-on-year. The figure in State-owned enterprises went down 1.2 percent, non-State firms up 1.5 percent and foreign-invested businesses up 3.3 percent./.

Decrepit buildings find new commercial use in cities

In Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi many old apartment and office buildings are becoming more attractive than ever because they are used as shops.

More and more small businesses are flocking to these places to open shops. In addition to low costs, these places also help them be unique to attract young customers.

The focus on such old buildings is not new.

Long-standing apartment buildings and mansions on main streets like Ton That Thiep and Nguyen Hue in HCM City have been enjoying steady traffic for many years thanks to charming coffee stores, cool bars and hip clothing brands.

Hanoi, on the other hand, has always been famous for its old quarter, where the past and present meet to bring about great business.

What used to be shops of artisans and traders is now home to concept stores, hostels and restaurants, bustling with tourists and youngsters.

In its latest report, Jones Lang Lasalle (JLL) Vietnam said that in an increasingly tight real estate market more and more investors are finding value in adapting old buildings.

The pace of technological and social change around the world means more and more buildings are becoming obsolescent as consumer needs and demand shift, and in between the glossy new developments and protected historic buildings are many older, redundant buildings, it explained.

“Thoughtful reuse of these moribund assets offers a way for investors to enter the market and add value,” JLL head of Asia Pacific research, Dr Megan Walters, said.

“Obsolescent buildings might be wrong for their current use, but might also be adaptable to something more suitable.”

Thanks to its past, Vietnam’s large cities are filled with historic buildings and tiny alleyways that lead to more tiny alleyways, it said.

While the older generations used to line up for an opportunity to secure street-front real estate for retail purposes, young people are more into low-key properties, it said.

Both Hanoi and HCM City are seeing a resurgence of historic buildings that would have been replaced by more modern properties by now, if not for the millennials, it said.

Non-retail businesses are not staying out of the retro wave, it said, pointing out Toong is known for transforming many old, underutilised buildings into contemporary co-working spaces, bringing modernity and tradition into the workplace.

Forgotten properties around the city are now busy again thanks to the presence of start-up companies with a young and hip workforce, though it is not as if any old building could be resurrected successfully, it said.

Safety should also be a major consideration for businesses considering this type of property, it said.

Many historic properties are in various stages of disrepair and suffer from pests, mould and damp walls, and the absence of building management boards and safety regulations put these properties at great risk, it warned.

Caution should be taken before investing, it said.

Regardless, the trend is here to stay, for both retail and non-retail businesses, and investors prepared to think creatively could acquire such buildings while the price is still reasonable, it added./.

Quang Ninh: Van Don island district develops marine tourism

 

With a convenient location in Bai Tu Long Bay and adjacent to the world natural heritage site of Ha Long Bay, Van Don island district in the northeastern coastal province of Quang Ninh has many advantages to develop tourism, especially sea and island tourism.

The island district boasts diverse topographic conditions, with forest, sea, lime and earth mountains and karst caves. The forest ecosystem in the island district is home to 1,028 species of animals while the marine ecosystem has 881 species, including 102 ones named in the Red Book of Vietnam and the world.

Van Don is home to several of the most beautiful beaches in the Gulf of Tonkin such as Quan Lan, Minh Chau, Ngoc Vung and Bai Dai.

Looking out to Bai Tu Long Bay, Quan Lan beach is blessed with smooth white sandbank, transparent blue sea, high waves, peaceful atmosphere, and fresh air. This is an ideal hideaway for people to get rid of the city bustle and daily pressure. The lush wild pineapple ranges even make the beach more pristine than elsewhere.

Meanwhile, Bai Dai (Long Beach) is an untamed treasure of Van Don. This spot appeals to visitors with the wild and poetic beauty which might be hard to find in other touristy beaches. The long, white-sand beach offers the crystal clear seawater for the optimum visibility of the underwater world. From Bai Dai, one can look farther toward the picturesque Bai Tu Long Bay. Entertainment is plenty such as kayaking, water motorcycle, tennis or volleyball.

Minh Chau beach is also an ideal spot for travel enthusiasts. Thousands of holiday makers flock here every year to enjoy their vacation. Couples particularly favour the spot to capture truly amazing wedding photos. The beach is 230km from Hanoi and 15km from Quan Lan beach. The unique feature of the site is the pristine white sand that gives a comfortable sensation walking on.

In the first five months of 2019, Van Don island district welcomed 723,000 visitors, up 26 percent year-on-year, reaching 60 percent of the yearly target. The tourism revenue was estimated at 320 billion VND (13.7 million USD).

The launch of the Van Don International Airport in December 2018 is expected to bring more visitors to Van Don, thus helping Quang Ninh achieve its target of welcoming 15-16 million tourists, including 7 million foreigners, by 2020 and 30 million arrivals, including 15 million foreigners, by 2030.

Therefore, local authorities have been offering many incentives to promote the launch of flights to the airport, the first of its kind invested by a private business in Vietnam.

Passengers on flights to Van Don can visit a number of local attractions including the complex of Yen Tu monuments and landscapes, the world natural heritage site of Ha Long Bay, and Bai Tu Long Bay free of charge within 30 days since their arrival at this airport.

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

It is home to popular destinations such as Ha Long Bay, Bai Tu Long, Ha Long Bay National Park and some islands. In particular, Ha Long Bay literally “descending dragon bay”, was twice recognised as a World Natural Heritage site by UNESCO in 1994 and 2000.

Last year, Quang Ninh hosted the National Tourism Year 2018 under the theme “Ha Long-Heritage, Wonder, Friendly Destination”. The province welcomed 12.3 million visitors, including 5.2 million foreigners, and earned 24 trillion VND (1.03 billion USD) in tourism revenue./.

Vietnamese exporters urged to take advantage of e-commence platform

Many small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) have little experience in e-commerce and lack information about the field, experts said at the recent “Digital Transformation - Gateway to the Global Market” forum in HCM City.

Nguyen Thi Phuong Trang, business development director at Innovative Hub, the event’s organiser, said there is high demand for online sales of Vietnamese products and urged SMEs to place products on such platforms.

One of the challenges facing SMEs in using e-commerce platforms for exports is the lack of quality human resources.

Training staff in online store design, trading options, logistics, payment methods, and global online markets are all necessary, according to Trang.

In addition, SMEs face challenges in accessing online trading activities because many of the firms are still tiny scale.

Steven Zheng, CEO of Hangzhou SOR Business Consulting Co. Ltd, said that SMEs need to change their way of thinking and made quality products for e-commerce, adding that overseas consumers are interested in Vietnamese products both online and offline.

“Buyers not only want to search for offline products at shops, showrooms or fairs, but also need to search for products online,” he said.

A number of Vietnamese products have very good quality and extremely competitive prices, but consumers around the world are not aware of them because they are not available online.

Zoe Zuo, managing director of Innovative Hub, said that quality Vietnamese products could reach global buyers through online platforms in more than 190 countries.

“Digital transformations can lower the cost and increase the efficiency of businesses, resulting in faster growth,” he said.

Experts have said online import and export activities of Vietnamese SMEs are expected to increase. The Vietnam e-business index report found that 32 percent of SMEs have established businesses with foreign partners through online channels.

Joining B2B e-commerce platforms will help export enterprises directly approach customers, thereby expanding opportunities in the global market and reducing costs of traditional trade promotions such as fairs and exhibitions.

Companies will also be able to more easily open offices in other markets.

A representative from the E-commerce Development Centre (under the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Vietnam E-commerce and Information Technology Agency), said that Vietnamese enterprises have been using online trading floors to find foreign partners and customers.

For traditional trading platforms, many businesses encounter cumbersome procedures and huge expenditures looking for foreign partners or implementing trade promotion programmes.

On the other hand, online import and export channels can reduce costs and time for businesses, especially SMEs looking for business partners, carrying out trade promotions, marketing products, and implementing transactions and payments, according to the representative.

Vietnam is one of the fastest growing economies in Southeast Asia, and with a stable governance and ease of doing business, Vietnamese SMEs are likely to succeed in joining the global e-commerce trade.

According to the ministry’s Vietnam E-commerce and Digital Economy Agency, e-commerce has had strong growth with the highest rate of 30 percent in 2018, and revenue rising to 7.8 billion USD from 4 billion USD in 2015.

If the growth rate of 2019 and 2020 continues at 30 percent each year, revenue by 2020 would reach 13 billion USD./.

Vinh Phuc: revenue from electricity, electronics support firms increases 8%

Businesses operating in the spheres of electricity and electronics support industry in the northern province of Vinh Phuc raked in nearly 2.6 billion USD in the first nine months of this year, up 8 percent year-on-year.

According to the provincial management board of industrial parks, these enterprises generated a combined export value of about 2.2 billion USD during the period, a year-on-year rise of 5 percent.

They contributed more than 900 billion VND (38.7 million USD) to the State budget, representing a hike of 10 percent compared with the corresponding time last ear.

These firms are also creating jobs for nearly 50,000 labourers, the board said.

The gross regional domestic product (GRDP) of the province reached 62.15 trillion VND (2.67 billion USD) in the nine months, up 8.63 percent year-on-year.

The industrial sector continued to prove its important role in the provincial socio-economic development, with a growth rate of over 13 percent, contributing 6.2 percentage points to the local growth./.

An Giang pushing up efforts to accelerate project pace

The government of the southernmost province of An Giang are taking a raft of measures to effectively support investors.

In January, Nam Viet Binh Phu Aquaculture Co., Ltd., a member of the privately-held Nam Viet Group, began its high-tech aquaculture project in Chau Phu district, encompassing over 600 hectares with total investment value touching VND4 trillion ($174 million).

This is one of the projects which were awarded investment ­proposal approval at the An Giang Investment Promotion Conference 2018. Similarly, a string of other projects which received investment certificates at last year’s conference have been in full tilt to speed up construction.

The solar power plants Van Giao 1 and Van Giao 2 in Tinh Bien district, both consisting of over 60ha space with an annual capacity of 50MWP, developed by Van Giao Solar Power JSC, and valued a combined VND2.28 trillion ($99 million) have launched.

A high-tech agriculture zone in Tri Ton district, developed by Lu Gia Green Agriculture Ltd., enjoying over 500ha space and valued at VND2 trillion ($87 million), commenced partial operation, with work continuing in other parts.

Hanh Phuc Rice JSC are in the land acquisition phase of their plan to build an export rice processing plant in Tri Ton district. The plant will cover an area of over 16ha, and is valued at VND1.1 trillion ($47.8 million).

Meanwhile, a high-tech 160ha seafood breed facility costing VND200 billion ($8.7 million) initiated by Viet Uc Tra Fish JSC is now under construction in Tan Chau.

According to An Giang Department of Planning and Investment, at the province’s major investment conference last December, the province conferred investment proposal approvals on 26 projects valued at a combined VND27 trillion ($1.17 billion).

Of the projects, two have commenced operation, whereas seven projects with a combined value of VND4.8 trillion ($210 million) have completed legal setup and are under construction.

Four projects worth VND3.7 trillion ($161 million) have completed land acquisition, have engaged in making land procedures, and are waiting for construction permits. Another 12 projects, valued at VND12.3 trillion ($533 million) are in the land acquisition and legal setup stage.

Ten other projects which had their investment undertakings signed at last year’s investment promotion conference, with total investment value amounting to VND105 trillion ($4.56 billion) have also reported positive performances.

Most investors are ­proactive in facilitating investment procedures with support from provincial leaders and local authorised management agencies.

According to Pham Thanh Nhon, deputy director of An Giang Department of Planning and Investment, after the success of last year’s event, the provincial management has paid close attention to increasing the pace of projects getting investment proposal approval and signing MoUs. At the same time, the relevant management agencies have been urged to take effective measures to make the province more appealing to investors.

Furthermore, the chairman of An Giang People’s ­Committee last year enacted Decision No.237/QD-UBND on the establishment of a working group to facilitate projects’ implementation in the province. He acts as head of the working group, with committee standing members acting as deputy heads.

Meanwhile, the working group’s members are leaders of relevant management agencies and chairmen of district and town people’s committees, whose major duties are facilitating projects’ execution and solving investors’ problems in a timely manner.

In addition, An Giang Department of Planning and Investment recently submitted Plan No.309/KH-UBND to the provincial People’s Committee, with the intention of supporting investors who plan to make inroads into the province.

Each particular agency has been assigned to certain phases in the investment process to aid investors effectively, oversee the projects’ implementation, and make periodical reports to the provincial leaders.

Under guidance from the provincial leaders, the three ­departments of Planning and Investment, Natural Resources and Environment, and ­Construction were directed to set up consultancy and support teams to help investors address issues.

“These achievements come from a strong commitment of the whole political system, as well as the message of An Giang government to investors: businesses’ success is the province’s success, therefore the province will do its utmost to accompany investors’ in the journey to success,” said Nhon.

BUSINESS NEWS OCTOBER 9

Italian companies hope to partner with VN in agriculture production

The Italian Government hopes to promote commercial activities in Viet Nam, especially in the field of manufacturing and processing agricultural products, turning Viet Nam into a strategic entrance for trading and investment of Italy in Southeast Asia, said Italian Ambassador to Viet Nam Antonio Alessandro.

He made the statement during the event “Machinery Made in Italy”, held in Ha Noi on Tuesday and Wednesday by the Italian Chamber of Commerce (ICHAM) in Viet Nam and the system of Italian Chambers of Commerce in 11 Asian countries.

ICHAM is holding the event with the aim of supporting Viet Nam’s agricultural sector. At the event, a B2B meeting was organised to connect Italian companies operating the field of food machinery and importers and distributors of agricultural products from the Asian countries of India, South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Viet Nam.

ICHAM and the system of 11 Italian Chambers of Commerce in Asia hope this event would offer business opportunities for Italian food machinery companies and their customers in Asia.

The strategic partnership between Viet Nam and Italy has witnessed remarkable development in many fields, especially in economic co-operation, said Alessandro.

Machinery has accounted for the biggest export value ​​from Italy to Viet Nam. Italy is one of the world’s leading countries in exporting technology, especially machinery production lines, because it has invested in thorough research on production technology to provide the best technological solutions for customers and minimising production costs.

Ambassador Alessandro told Viet Nam News that the Italian Government attached great importance to Viet Nam's market, adding that the Viet Nam - EU Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) would open many opportunities for businesses of the two countries, including opportunities for small and medium enterprises of Italy.

In the years to come, many Italian businesses will head to Viet Nam to open investment facilities, provide equipment and technological lines for Vietnamese enterprises in many localities in the country, he said.

In 2018, the export of agricultural products of Viet Nam hit a record of US$40.02 billion. This was also the year with the highest growth rate in the past seven years and this attracted many big foreign companies to invest in agriculture in Viet Nam.

Retail sales rise on strong consumer demand

Total revenue from retail trade and services in the first nine months of this year reached VND3.6 quadrillion (US$156.5 billion), 11.6 per cent over the same period last year.

If the price factor was excluded, the total revenue rose by 9.2 per cent year on year, higher than the rate of 9.1 per cent recorded in the first nine months of 2018, according to the General Statistics Office (GSO).

According to GSO experts, high demand due to improved living standards had spurred consumption. An abundant supply of goods and guaranteed quality had also increased sales volume.

Thanks to increased purchasing power, the wholesale and retail sector together with the services sector contributed significantly to GDP growth of 6.98 per cent in the first nine months of 2019, the highest level recorded since 2011.

According to the GSO, total revenue from retail trade and services in September was estimated at VND420.3 trillion, up 1.7 per cent month on month, and up 12.7 per cent year on year.

For the third quarter of 2019, total revenue reached VND1.2 quadrillion, up 3.5 per cent compared to the previous quarter, and up 12.2 per cent year on year.

Retail sales reached VND2.8 quadrillion, accounting for 76 per cent of the total revenue and up 12.6 per cent over the same period last year.

Many industries enjoyed growth including cultural goods and education (17.4 per cent); food and foodstuffs (15.4 per cent); household appliances, tools, and equipment (13 per cent); garments (12 per cent); and transportation (10.2 per cent).

Some localities increased the retail sales of goods such as: Quang Ninh (19.7 per cent); Binh Duong (17.6 per cent); Thanh Hoa (15.1 per cent); Hai Phong (14.9 per cent); Da Nang (13.9 per cent); Nghe An (13.8 per cent); and Ha Noi (12.7 per cent).

Revenue from accommodation and catering services was estimated at VND434.7 trillion, accounting for 12 per cent of the total and up 9.6 per cent over the same period last year.

Revenue increased by 19.5 per cent in Binh Dinh; 16.2 per cent in Quang Binh; 15.9 per cent in Hai Phong; 15.3 per cent in Can Tho; 11.9 per cent in Vinh Long; and 11.3 per cent in Ha Noi.

Estimated revenue from the tourism sector was VND33.5 trillion, up 12 per cent over the same period last year.

Startups seek funds on investment day

Startups from various sectors joined in an investment day in HCM City organised by Zone Startups Joint Stock Company to seek investments and present their businesses.

The annual Zone Startups Viet Nam Investment Day this year attracted some 100 guests including domestic and foreign investors, startup founders, corporate leaders, and supporters in Viet Nam's startup ecosystem. The event is part of a larger programme between Zone Startups Vietnam and startups.

Ten startups took part this time, including Vdes, an advanced technology and techniques app for event technology solutions; Geso which provides EPR solutions for small and medium-sized enterprises; Papaya, a startup that founded an employee healthcare and wellness benefit platform for corporations; and Gostream, an automated livestream platform, allowing users to livestream videos in multiple groups.

The other startups were Phypass, a facial recognition, smart factory technology and store optimisation; Liberal Ischool which provides an interactive channel between schools, parents and students and a bus tracking platform; Fundiin, smart credit card for students, financed via a P2P lending platform, Cloudwater, a platform to develop and manage Viet Nam’s water supply system; Edu2Review, an educational evaluation and recommendation platform in Viet Nam; and Medihub, a marketing communication focus on health and wellness industry via digital and technology platforms.

In addition, the event also included one-on-one meetings between startup founders in accelerator programmes with investors. This is an opportunity for startups to access domestic and foreign venture capitalists with extensive experience in Viet Nam's startup ecosystem.

Zone Startups Vietnam, which is part of the global network of Zone Startups accelerator programme, sources forward-thinking founders and strong teams with visions to become fast-growing market leaders. The company provides hands-on strategic and tactical guidance for startups looking to drive market validation and customer acquisition, as well as access to investors, corporate partners, and advisors.

It offers an innovation consulting practice that lets corporate clients explore and embrace new ideas and technologies alongside leading-edge startups. For high-potential startups, the company provides seed capital and supports for future financing efforts.

Zone Startups is operated by Ryerson Futures, a Toronto-based accelerator. In 2013, Ryerson launched its first acceleration partnership with the Bombay Stock Exchange in Mumbai. In 2016, it created Zone Startups Calgary in a partnership with GE Canada, and Zone Startups Sports+ Media in partnership with Rogers, and launched Zone Startup Vietnam in HCM City in 2018.

Entrepreneurs, businesses win awards in Mekong Delta

A ceremony was held in Can Tho city on October 7 to honour outstanding entrepreneurs and businesses in the Mekong Delta that have considerably contributed to local and national development.

Director of the Can Tho branch of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) Nguyen Phuong Lam said among the 198 entrepreneur and business candidates chosen from 2,000 companies in the Mekong Delta, 108 were eligible for recognition.

Twenty-eight firms won the “Outstanding Business of the Mekong Delta in 2019” award, while 53 businesspeople were presented with the “Outstanding Entrepreneur of the Mekong Delta in 2019” title.

The best 10 firms were awarded the “Golden Crane” title, which is named after a rare bird species found in the Mekong Delta, to mark the 10th anniversary of the commendation ceremony.

At the event, Vice Chairman of the Can Tho People’s Committee Duong Tan Hien said over the last nine months, the city had recorded economic and social progress. Its industrial production rose 7.54 percent, total retail sales of goods and services were up 10.84 percent, and export turnover was up 8.88 percent from the same period in 2018. Besides, Can Tho welcomed more than 7 million visitors and gained 3.39 trillion VND (146.14 million USD) in tourism revenue.

He attributed these successes partly to contributions by businesses and entrepreneurs in the city as well as the Mekong Delta.

During the nine months, 1,115 new companies were established in Can Tho with a total registered capital of 9.9 trillion VND. The city also attracted eight foreign investment projects worth 9.3 million USD. Additionally, local authorities approved in principle 18 projects worth 25 trillion VND invested by non-State businesses.

These achievements indicate that Can Tho’s efforts to improve its business climate and encourage entrepreneurship have proven fruitful, enhancing businesses and entrepreneurs’ trust in the city, Hien said./.

Conference to seek measures for Vietnam’s fintech development

With cash still being the main payment mode, a youthful demographic and growing smartphone penetration, Vietnam offers great opportunities for fintech developers, experts said.

At a press briefing in Ho Chi Minh City on October 7 to introduce the Vietnam Fintech Conference & Exhibition 2019 (VIO 2019), the experts said that financial technology has greatly disrupted the way that banks and financial institutions operate today.

According to the HCM Computer Association (HCA), around 10,000 fintech companies are operating globally, competing with banks in all fields from payment services, deposit mobilisation, lending, foreign exchange trading, and investment consulting.

Fintech companies in Vietnam currently focus on only three services: payment, peer-to-peer lending and crowdfunding. Some 70 percent of fintech companies in Viet Nam are start-ups.

Dr Lillian Koh, CEO of Fintech Academy Singapore, said the infocomm and communication technology (ICT) sector is a key enabler for almost every industry, and has enhanced Singapore’s competitiveness by raising productivity and transforming business processes in industries like finance, services and manufacturing.

Fintech came as a disruptor but it is now embraced as innovation and transformation, she noted.

To help technology businesses get up-to-date on the latest global trends and technologies, HCA, Fintech Academy Singapore, the Vietnam Banking Association, and the Institute for Development and Research in Banking Technology of Vietnam National University HCM City plan to organise VIO 2019 in HCM City on October 30 and 31, said HCA Secretary General Vu Anh Tuan.

The event, titled ‘Shaping the future of Vietnam Fintech’, will discuss topics such as fintech and changes in technology, payment services; cybersecurity challenges for fintech; fintech and the workforce; policies and platform development for the fintech industry; machine learning and AI in the fintech marketplace; and fintech and innovative start-ups.

VIO 2019 will also feature the 2019 Top ICT Vietnam awards ceremony on October 30 to honour outstanding IT and telecom companies, products and services and an exhibition where banks, fintech and IT companies will showcase their products./.

Trade and tourism week opens

A trade and tourism week is taking place in the northern province of Bac Giang, attracting the participation of more than 500 businesses.

During the event's opening ceremony on Saturday, vice chairman of the provincial Peoples Committee Duong Van Thai, said the first-ever event aims to mark the 15th Vietnamese Entrepreneurs Day (October 13) and promote tourism and trading activities in the locality.

Thai who is also chairman of the Business Association of Bac Giang described the event as a good chance for local firms and craft villages to popularise their brands, introduce products and seek business and investment partnerships.

The week, which will wrap up this Saturday, comprises a wide range of activities such as trade and investment promotion workshops and contract signing between domestic and foreign businesses. 

 
 
 
 
 
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