Solutions needed to facilitate export of goods and services to ASEAN 

Seeking solutions to support and create optimal conditions for businesses to export goods and services to the ASEAN market were highlighted at a seminar held in Hanoi on September 23.

ASEAN is a vast market that has been opened to all member states.

However, Vietnam’s exports to the market accounts for 9.8 percent of the country’s total and the lowest compared to other ASEAN countries.

Another challenge is enterprises’ lacking of knowledge of the ASEAN Economic Community and limitation in taking advantage of tariff preference.

Participants held that to ensure transparency and equality for exporters and avoid conflicts, it is essential to build a mechanism to support exporters in dealing with problems facing them during the import-export process

The mechanism will help improve the operational efficiency of businesses and trade relations among ASEAN member states and harmonize the business environment in the region as a whole./. 

Economy continues to maintain growth momentum: NA official

Vietnam’s socio-economic situation has shown positive signs with the economy maintaining growth momentum in the first months of 2019, according to Nguyen Duc Kien, vice chairman of the National Assembly (NA)’s Economics Committee.

Global trade and investment’s growth is likely to fall short of the pace projected by international economic and financial institutions this year, harming the country’s economy, Kien told a forum titled “Socio-economic Situation of Vietnam in 2019” on September 26 – 27.

The government’s efforts to reform, remove barriers for the domestic economy and utilise opportunities from international economic integration will determine the country’s economic situation in 2019, he added.

The forum was hosted by the Germany-based Hanns Seidel Foundation in cooperation with the NA to assess major socio-economic issues in Vietnam. It also aims to make recommendations to boost the country’s development.

Participants discussed four main topics, namely Vietnam’s economic situation overview in 2019 and impacts of free trade agreements, major issues of Vietnam’s economy in 2019, major socio-cultural issues of Vietnam in 2019, and recommendations for Vietnam’s socio-economic development in 2020.

According to reports at the event, the global economy is in a period of “high uncertainty” as about 70 percent of the economies, mostly developing, are projected to experience economic slowdown in the wake of escalating trade tension between major nations.

However, a positive outlook has remained for Vietnam’s economy as the macroeconomy has been stable, inflation is under control and the Consumer Price Index (CPI) in the first half of the year expanded 2.64 percent, the lowest over the past three years. The six-month Gross Domestic Products (GDP) grew by 6.76 percent, lower than a year ago but higher than the same period in 2011 – 2017.

The participants also highlighted major social issues, notably violence against children, child sexual abuse and school incidents that have sparked public outrage.

Child sexual abuse and violence have occurred in most cities and provinces nationwide, said Hoang Thi Tay Ninh, Child Rights Governance (CRG) Programme Manager at Save The Children. Close to 3,000 cases were reported from 2017 – 2018, uncovering 3,400 offenders and 3,200 victims, she noted, adding that child sexual abuse accounted for more than 50 percent of the cases.

She said it is critical to develop and reinforce the local child protection system and facilitate community-based child protection mechanisms. She also urged improving the capacity of social workers and volunteers and enhancing inter-sectoral coordination in this matter while authorities must strengthen education and communications to raise public awareness of child rights and child rights-related law and policies./.

Vietnam attends LNG Producer-Consumer Conference in Japan

Vietnam’s Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh joined policymakers, researchers and representatives of energy companies from 26 countries at the LNG Producer-Consumer Conference 2019 in Tokyo on September 26.

In opening the conference, Japanese Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Isshu Sugawara stressed the need to enhance cooperation between liquefied natural gas (LNG) producing and consuming countries.

He mentioned initiatives of Japan to expand and develop the LNG market, focusing on financial support, capacity building, and market development.

He reiterated Japan’s commitment to investing an additional 10 billion USD from public and private sectors to promote LNG demand and assist with the connection of new LNG supply sources with the increasing demand in Asia.

Addressing the conference, Minister Tran Tuan Anh said developing LNG is an inevitable trend for Vietnam to diversify fuel sources for electricity generation, contributing to ensuring national energy security.

He said Vietnam’s energy exploitation is mainly based on traditional natural sources such as hydropower, coal, oil and gas. However, hydroelectricity resources have almost been fully exploited. Therefore, the Vietnamese Government has mapped out policies to increase the use of clean and renewable energy for economic development, especially for power generation.

The minister added that in the national development plan of gas industry through 2025 with orientations to 2035, Vietnam needs to import LNG from 2022, and the demand for LNG will increase to about 5 million tonnes by 2025, 10 million tonnes by 2030, and 15 million tonnes by 2035.

To realise these goals, Vietnam is developing a system of LNG import terminals and relevant facilities. Moreover, Vietnam has been building and promulgating a legal framework to develop the LNG sector.

At the conference, delegates talked about the role of LNG in realising global targets on climate change, and solutions to accessing energy, developing LNG demand in new emerging economies, and ensuring environmental protection and energy security.

During the working visit to Japan, Minister Anh met with Minister Sugawara and Secretary-General of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) for the House of Councilors Hiroshige Seko.

At the meeting with Minister Sugawara, Anh said the Vietnamese Government and Ministry of Industry and Trade are particularly interested in developing LNG-fuelled power generation and will create favourable conditions for Japanese businesses to study and implement LNG investment projects in Vietnam.

He proposed Japan continue helping Vietnam to develop gas-fuelled power projects in the future, build regulations and policies to develop ports receiving and importing LNG, and develop human resources in the field.

In response, Sugawara said Japan will increase budgets to support human resources training in LNG business for countries, including Vietnam.

Regarding international economic integration, the two ministers underlined the need to further step up the regional multilateral trade negotiation framework such as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), and strengthen bilateral coordination so as to conclude the RCEP negotiations at the RCEP ministerial meeting in Vietnam’s central city of Da Nang this month and move towards the signing of this deal in Vietnam in 2020.

Minister Anh hailed the leading role of Japan in the negotiation process of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the RCEP.

He hoped Japan will continue promoting its role not only in the RCEP negotiations but also in supporting Vietnam to implement effectively the deal./.

Vietnam, Singapore companies to jointly develop rooftop solar power


The Becamex IDC company, the Vietnam – Singapore Industrial Park (VSIP), and Sembcorp Smart Energy Solutions Vietnam signed a contract on solar power development in the southern province of Binh Duong on September 24.

Accordingly, the project will provide rooftop solar power services for industrial-urban-service complexes owned by Becamex IDC, Sembcorp and VSIP as well as the domestic market.

With expansive industrial property infrastructure, Becamex and Sembcorp will enable over 1,000 customers to access green energy sources.

On the occasion, the three companies inaugurated a small-scale rooftop solar power system at the office building of VSIP 1 in Binh Duong.

Similar systems will be installed at all office buildings of VSIP and Becamex IDC nationwide.

Previously, VSIP Binh Duong received the Greentech award and became the first industrial park in Vietnam to receive ISO 14001:2004 certificate in 2010.

Recently, the VSIP Bac Ninh and Hai Duong received certificates recognising them as green industrial parks by the Vietnam Association for Environmental Economics./.

Forum talks Vietnam’s milk cow farming development

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development held a vision forum and public-private partnership dialogue on animal farming in Hanoi on September 24, with a focus on dairy cow farming and dairy products.

Speaking at the event, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Phung Duc Tien said Vietnam’s dairy cow farming is growing with a total turnover of 109 trillion VND (4.73 billion USD) last year. The country now ranks sixth in Asia in terms of milk output, and fourth in terms of dairy cow productivity.

Its milk and dairy products are popular at home and abroad, especially in China and the Middle East.

To meet increasing demand for animal products, Tien suggested accelerating the restructuring of the animal farming sector towards industrial scale, improving added values of animal products, and developing processing industry.

Tong Xuan Chinh, deputy head of the Livestock Production Department, said dairy cow farming is most developed in the southeast region with 98,000 heads, accounting for over 33 percent of the country’s dairy cow herd, and in Nghe An, Ho Chi Minh City, Son La and Hanoi.

He said the milk output of Vietnam’s dairy cows reach 4,500 – 5,000kg per cycle, equivalent or higher than those in Thailand, Indonesia and China.

The sector set the target of having 500,000 heads of dairy cows, and one million tonnes of milk in 2020, with a yearly growth of over 11 percent. The respective figures will be 700,000 heads and two million tonnes by 2030.

Deputy head of the Department of Farm Produce Processing and Market Development Pham Van Duy said Vietnam has exported milk to 46 countries and territories, with the Middle East countries accounting for over 70 percent of the total volume.

He added that China will remain the largest importer of Vietnamese milk in the near future as its supply only meets 75 percent of domestic demand.

The two countries have signed a protocol on Vietnam’s milk export to China, and the first shipment under this protocol will be delivered to China this year.

According to Duy, milk export to China is expected to surge under the protocol, turning China into the biggest market for Vietnam’s milk./.

Viettel tops list of 50 most valuable brands again

The Viettel Military Industry and Telecoms Group (Viettel) has once again topped the list of 50 most valuable brands of Vietnam released on September 24 by Brand Finance – a UK-based brand evaluation company.

This is the second consecutive year Viettel has ranked first in the list of 50 most valuable brands of Vietnam.

Viettel is also Vietnam’s only brand and one of the eight Southeast Asian others in the list of top 500 most valuable brands in the world announced by Brand Finance.

The top 50 list in Vietnam meets the ISO 10668 standards, the world’s only certified tool for measuring brand value so far.

This year, Viettel focuses on digital transformation in service of digital economy and society. It also successfully launched a smart operation centre in the central province of Thua Thien-Hue and won the Telecom Asia Awards 2019 for the category “Asia’s most innovative city project”.

The telecom provider has offered 5G services and put into use Internet-of-Things infrastructure, making Vietnam one of the first countries in the world to successfully pilot 5G network.

Viettel also took the lead in bringing 5G technology to international markets such as Cambodia in July 2019 and Myanmar in August 2019.

Thanks to its high growth in foreign markets and successes in important fields such as telecommunications, high-tech defence technology, telecom electronics, cyber security, Viettel’s brand value has jumped by 20 percent to over 4.3 billion USD from 2018, nearly tripling the value of the second-ranking brand and equaling the total value of the next three brands in the list.

Results of brand evaluation by Brand Finance are announced on global media channels such as BBC, CNN, CNBC, Bloomberg, The Economist, The Wall Street Journal, among others./.

Vietnam’s dairy products promoted in China

A programme to promote milk products of Vietnam Dairy Products Joint Stock Company, Vinamilk, has been held in the Chinese province of Hunan within the framework of the 2019 China International Food & Catering Expo.

Since September last year, yogurt products of Vinamilk are sold in He Ma in China. After a year of presence in the Chinese market, Vietnam's dairy brand has been among the top 3 best-selling products.

At the launching ceremony on September 21, the leader of Hunan Department of Commerce said he was impressed with Vietnamese dairy products after visiting Vietnam two years ago. Therefore, despite the fierce competition in the Chinese dairy market, he believes that good products will win consumers' hearts.

According to the Vietnam Dairy Association, choosing Vinamilk as a representative is to introduce to Chinese consumers high quality Vietnamese dairy products.

Last August, a batch of Vietnamese milk was successfully shipped through Huu Nghi border gate and delivered to Chinese domestic distributors within 48 hours. These results show that Vietnam's milk is ready to go further in the future./.

Binh Duong boosts external relations, international integration

Binh Duong has gained many achievements in external relations by organizing a series of events on an international scale to support the province’s economic development.

It has received many international delegations, diplomatic corps, economic groups, and foreign enterprises looking for cooperation opportunities.

Binh Duong has been increasing bilateral and multilateral cooperation to sustainably develop the local economy and implement the “Binh Duong, a smart city” project and the “Binh Duong Navigator 2021” breakthrough strategy.

Last year Binh Duong became the first locality in Vietnam honored for having an outstanding strategy on smart city development.

It has an open and attractive investment environment supported by provincial authorities and focuses on external relations activities to maintain its dynamic position in the integration process.

Two highlights of Binh Duong’s external relations last year were successfully hosting the World Technopolis Association conference and the Asian Economic Cooperation Forum (Horasis-Asia Meeting) which gathered more than 350 economic groups, multinational companies, and major enterprises from 60 countries and territories.

“These are special events in Binh Duong’s socio-economic development, promising practical opportunities to discuss experience and multi-dimensional viewpoints on new ways of doing business, and advanced development models, thus helping to handle the issues and corollaries of the industrialization and urbanization," said Tran Thanh Liem, Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee.

"More particularly, through such events Binh Duong hopes to find solutions to re-allocate its development sources toward ensuring that the local economy grows dynamically, easily responds, is ready for integration, and realizes the target of making Binh Duong a smart urban area,” her added.

Binh Duong ranks 3rd in Vietnam after Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi in attracting foreign investment. It has more than 3,600 projects with nearly 33 billion USD of registered investment capital. In the first half of this year, Binh Duong attracted nearly 1.5 billion USD in FDI capital, 70% more than in the same period last year and 3.5% above the target set for this year.

“Binh Duong has attracted investment in processing, manufacturing, and services, with a particular focus on advanced technology. We particularly welcome major enterprises with less environmental pollution," said Trinh Thanh Long, Deputy Director of the provincial Planning and Investment Department.

"FDI investment in manufacturing accounts for 1.5 billion of the total 2 billion USD. Logistics projects have attracted 135 million USD and urban development projects 48 million USD. Cloud computing-based projects have attracted 171 million USD.”

Binh Duong has signed 10 foreign cooperation agreements so far this year.

Conferences on trade promotion and investment cooperation have been held in potential markets like Japan, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, Italy, Belgium, Netherlands, the US, and Canada.

Dialogues have been organized between Binh Duong’s leaders and foreign business associations and foreign companies operating in Vietnam.

Continuing to expand external relations to serve economic development is one of the tasks set for Binh Duong’s development orientation in the new period. The image of a dynamic Binh Duong has been attracting foreign investors, making it a key industrial province in Vietnam.

In late November, Binh Duong will again host the Asian Economic Cooperation Forum (Horasis-Binh Duong 2019), bringing together about 400 foreign delegates from 60 countries and 350 delegates from Vietnam’s central agencies, ministries, and localities.

Vietnam urged to raise intellectual property awareness

Raising the IP awareness is becoming indispensable to Vietnamese firms, especially after the country signed new-generation free trade agreements, including EVFTA.

Experts have urged Vietnam to tap intellectual property (IP) potential for its socio-economic development as the country has not yet fully exploited it.

According to Andrew Michael Ong, director of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)’s Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific, Vietnam needs to improve the capacity and efficiency of establishments, protection and enforcement of IP rights, as well as raising public awareness of its importance.

It is also necessary to have a synchronous IP management system. This is what the Republic of Korea and China have done over the last five years, Andrew said, adding that to maintain competitiveness, countries and companies must always be in the forefront of innovation.

Minister of Science and Technology Chu Ngoc Anh said that countries worldwide have to rely on scientific and technology development and innovation to achieve economic growth.

The national innovation system will help bring knowledge and research results into technologies, thereby creating products and goods for society. The IP system together with the exclusive protection mechanism for creative achievements and the fight against unfair competition are the driving force for innovation and the creation of innovative products, Anh said.

IP contributes to building orientations, targets, missions and measures, serving as a tool for realizing development objectives of sectors, localities and the nation, he said.

A must in new FTAs

Raising the IP awareness is becoming indispensable to Vietnamese firms, especially after the country signed new-generation free trade agreements including the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA).

As Europe is a region exporting IP products, it requires the increased protection of IP rights and also has special protection regimes for geographical indications. In contrast, Vietnam currently possesses only a small number of IP products compared to its European partners, so there needs to be space for businesses, organizations and individuals to access IP products at the lowest costs in service of socio-economic development.

Director of the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Multilateral Trade Policy Department Luong Hoang Thai said that under the EVFTA, which came into effect on June 30 this year, Vietnam commits to join the agreement on copyright and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty within three years, with a protection term of at least 50 years.

In addition, the country will establish a public electronic database about trademark registration records and permit the revocation of registered trademarks which are unused for at least five years, alongside acceding to the Hague Agreement on the international registration of industrial designs within two years from the EVFTA taking effect and protecting industrial designs for at least 15 years.

Vietnam has committed to providing a high level of protection to over 169 European geographical indications, mainly wine and food.

In contrast, the European side has also committed to protect 39 geographical indications of Vietnam related to famous agricultural and food products with high export potential, such as Moc Chau tea and Buon Ma Thuot coffee.

This will create conditions for a number of typical Vietnamese products to build and assert their brands in the European market.

However, in order to exploit such a large market, enterprises should master and meet the EU’s regulations on IP rights protection, exploitation and enforcement, as well as the bloc’s regulations on technical barriers in trade.

This requires Vietnamese businesses to focus on increasing their awareness of the field of IP, while constantly innovating and improving internal technology capacity and their ability to absorb new and advanced technologies to improve quality of their products.

Cassava exports enjoy August boost

Vietnam’s exports of cassava and cassava-based products hit 180,720 tons with a total value of US$71.82 million during August, according to statistics released by the General Department of Vietnam Customs.

These figures indicate a surge of 88.2 percent in volume and 70.1 per cent in value in comparison to the same period last year.

The Import-Export Department under the Ministry of Industry and Trade reported that since the beginning of September to the present, the raw material price of cassava in several provinces has increased slightly due to a fall in the supply source.

Currently, several factories across Tay Ninh and Tay Nguyen provinces have entered their new production season for the 2019- 2020 period. Despite this, the raw material source for fresh cassava remains unstable.

Statistics from the General Department of Vietnam Customs show that the average export price of cassava fell 9.6 per cent to US$397.4 per ton during August, against last year’s corresponding period.

Except for the Republic of Korean market, exports of cassava and cassava-based products to foreign markets skyrocketted in August compared to the same period from last year.

Most notably, exports of cassava and cassava-based products to the Chinese market reached 162,460 tons worth US$ 64.78 million in August. These figures represent sharp rises of 117 per cent in volume and 92.2 per cent in value on-year.

This surge in demand for cassava and cassava-based products can be attributed to the low inventories of cassava occurring at enterprises in China, which has served to increase import demand.

The demand from the Chinese market will be boosted further as several food processing plants are set to re-open during September in order to meet the increasing demand for food items in the build up to the Lunar New Year festival.

Furthermore, the export price of cassava starch in Vietnam remains lower than in Thailand, causing many Chinese customers to make purchases of Vietnamese cassava starch.

As of September, the cassava starch market is expected to witness robust growth due to a rise in the domestic supply source of starch coupled with the increased purchasing demand from China.

Due to the ongoing US-China trade tensions, in addition to the devaluation of the Yuan, both Vietnamese and Chinese businesses will become more cautious with regard to transaction activities. As a result, the nation’s export price of cassava starch to China is unlikely to soar in the short term.


Banks raise short-term deposit rates to more than 8%

Commercial banks have recently raised their interest rates for six-month deposits to a record high of more than 8 per cent per year.

The rate was previously reserved for long-term deposits of more than a year.

Saigon Commercial Bank (SCB) has announced interest rates of 8.03 per cent for six-month online deposits, rising to 8.21 per cent for deposits valued at VNĐ10 billion (US$435,000) and above.

This adjustment gives SCB the highest deposit rate for six month terms.

The bank's rate also rises to 8.76 per cent for 13-36 month deposits of VNĐ10 billion upwards.

Nam Á Bank is also listing an 8 per cent rate for six month deposits. The bank’s rate for 7-9 month deposits is at 8.05 per cent per year, while its highest rate of 8.7 per cent applies for 36-month deposits.

Viet Capital Bank, Eximbank and VietBank have also set interest rates for six month deposits at 7.5-7.7 per cent per year.

However, interest rates for six-month deposits at State-owned banks Vietcombank, Vietinbank and BIDV remain stable and low at 5.5 per cent per year. Rates for long-term deposits of 12-36 months stand at only 6.8 per cent per year.

It is estimated nearly 20 commercial banks, mainly small and medium ones, are listing deposit interest rates at more than 8 per cent per year in a bid to raise capital to meet international banking Basel II standards set by the State Bank of Việt Nam (SBV).

Viet Capital Bank, which has the highest interest rate on the market of 10.2 per cent per year for 60-month deposits, has asked the SBV for permission to apply for Basel II earlier than expected by the end of the third quarter this year. The SBV's deadline for all banks to apply Basel II is January 2020.

The SBV expects interest rates to remain stable until the end of this year after its decision to cut several key interest rates by 0.25 percentage points from September 16 to help credit institutions access capital at more affordable costs, in turn enabling the institutions to improve liquidity and keep interest rates stable.

UK fund fails to make exit from Gemadept

The UK-based Vietnam Investments (VI) Fund II LP has cut its holding in logistics firm Gemadept (HoSE: GMD) to 15.24 per cent from 19.55 per cent.

The UK fund sold only 12.8 million of the 58 million Gemadept shares it had on sale between August 23 and September 20.

Gemapdet said in a statement yesterday the share sale had failed because the price had not matched the fund’s expectations.

VI Fund II remains a major shareholder in Gemadept, holding more than 45.2 million shares, equal to 15.24 per cent.

The foreign fund had previously transferred 29.7 million Gemadept shares to SSJ Consulting Vietnam Co Ltd from July 8 to August 2.

The London-based CDC Group, manager of VI Fund II, also saw its VI Fund I sell 2.45 million shares in Gemadept.

Gemadept shares on Tuesday were up 0.9 per cent to close at VNĐ27,650 (US$1.19).

In the first six months of the year, Gemadept posted VNĐ1.3 trillion ($56 million) in total revenue. The figure was almost unchanged from last year.

Its post-tax profit was down 78 per cent yearly to VNĐ348 billion.

Vietnam’s pepper sector targets sustainable development

Vietnam’s pepper sector is facing a range of difficulties due to the oversupply and the fierce competition in the global market, resulting in low prices, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD).

The country is one of the world’s leading pepper producers and exporters, making up more than 40 percent in the global volume and 60 percent in the global value. However, the domestic pepper sector has yet to develop sustainably.

Statistics reveal that in 2018, the country exported 232,000 tonnes of pepper valued at 758.8 million USD, down 32.1 percent in value as compared with the previous year.

In 2016, Vietnam shipped abroad 176,600 tonnes of pepper and earned a record 1.42 billion USD, up 12.9 percent value year-on-year. Although the volume increased to 214,000 tonnes in 2017, the value dropped 21 percent to 1.11 billion USD.

The MARD said the world needs around 510,000 tonnes of pepper each year. The demand increases only 2-3 percent while the global pepper output goes up 8-10 percent annually.

According to the Export-Import Department under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, 2019 continues to be a tough year for the domestic pepper sector as prices will remain low while production cost is expected to rise at least 10 percent against that in 2017.

In the first eight months of 2019, Vietnam’s pepper export volume reached 224,000 tonnes, up 27.9 percent over the corresponding time last year, but its value slid 2.1 percent to 571 million USD.

Experts pointed out the unsustainable pepper development in Vietnam, with the total area amounting to 149,800 hectares, nearly 100,000 hectares higher the number set in the planning scheme.

Besides, Vietnam mainly exports crude pepper and only joins the low-end segment, they said.

In that context, the free trade agreements Vietnam has recently signed such as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement would offer opportunities for Vietnam to expand pepper export.

Tran Quoc Toan, deputy head of the Export-Import Department, said nine out of the 11 CPTPP members, namely Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Chile, Peru and Japan, have committed to immediately lifting duties on pepper.

Among the CPTPP members, only Malaysia is a major pepper producer. However, it makes up just 3 percent of the global volume.

Under the EVFTA, EU countries also pledged to remove tax on pepper right after the agreement takes effect, thus facilitating the export of Vietnamese pepper to these nations.

Nguyen Nam Hai, President of the Vietnam Pepper Association, suggested businesses learn about these agreements, especially information about tax incentives and product quality and origin requirements.

The domestic pepper sector should reform its growth model, focusing on product quality, he added.

Experts also stressed the need for the local pepper sector to develop a sustainable supply chain, improve its value chain and address issues regarding the use of chemicals in production./.

Chinese visitors to Khanh Hoa continue rising

The southern central province of Khanh Hoa welcomed 1.51 million Chinese tourists in the first seven months of this year, up 142% on-year.

Russia came second with 227,000 travellers, up 104%; followed by South Korea with 124,000, up 336% and Thailand 12,000, up 515% compared to the same period of last year.

Meanwhile, visitors from countries such as Germany, the UK, France, Australia and Canada to the province drastically dropped by 8-28%.

So far this year, the province attracted a total 2.1 million international travellers, up 129% on-year.

Over recent years, Khanh Hoa has seen a sharp rise in foreign tourists, but mostly those from China and Russia. The locality has boosted tourism promotion to other markets like South Korea, Japan, Thailand and Malaysia.

Local authorities plan to ban vehicles of more than 29 seats from entering city centre areas in order to mitigate traffic congestion amid the increasing tourist numbers.

Young volunteers have been arranged at hot traffic spots to help visitors to cross the road, but the situation has not improved much due to the high number of vehicles, especially at peak hours.

Conference to be held next month on SOE restructuring

A conference on improving the operating efficiency of State-owned enterprises (SOEs) will take place in late September-early October.

The conference will be attended by Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc.

Ministries, ministry-level agencies, Government agencies, provincial authorities, cities and SOEs have to complete submitting reports on SOE restructuring to the ministries of Finance and Planning and Investment and the Government Office by September 25.

The reports must focus on the restructuring process for SOEs that had been targeted from 2016 to August 2019 and clarify agencies’ policy-making procedures in accordance with Prime Minister’s Directive 01 dated January 5, 2019.

PM Phuc on August 15, 2019 issued Decision 26/2019/QD-TTg approving the list of 93 SOEs that must be equitised by the end of 2020. The State will hold more than 65 per cent stakes in four equitised SOEs, which are The Vietnam Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Agribank), the Vietnam National Coal and Mineral Industries Group (Vinacomin), the Vietnam Northern Food Corporation (Vinafood 1) and the Vietnam Mineral Co Ltd.

Sixty-two SOEs will cut State ownership to 50-65 per cent after being equitised such as telecoms groups Mobifone and VNPT, the Vietnam National Coffee Corporation (VINACAFE) and the Vietnam Cement Industry Corporation (Vicem).

The Government will control 0-50 per cent of charter capital in 27 targeted SOEs, including Housing and Urban Development Corporation (HUD) and Saigon Jewellery Co Ltd (SJC).

Mobile World ups revenue by 17 per cent in Jan-Aug

Multi-sector retailer Mobile World Investment Corporation recorded VND68.85 trillion (US$2.96 billion) worth of total net revenue in the January-August period.

The figure was up 17 per cent year on year and accounted for 63 per cent of the full-year expectation, which is set at VND108.5 trillion.

Online sales accounted for 13 per cent of the firm’s eight-month net revenue and the figure added one-fifth yearly to VND9.16 trillion during the period.

Electronics sales were VND39.7 trillion in eight months, up 22.5 per cent year on year. Meanwhile, phone and accessories sales were down 3.8 per cent yearly to VND22.9 trillion.

According to the company, sales of mobile phones and electronics often stall in the third quarter of each year and grow again in the year-end holidays.

The company often posts lowest sales and profits in August because of the rainy season and Vietnamese consumers are unwilling to buy new products due to the lunar month of ghosts.

Grocery jumps

The company recorded big growth in grocery sales, which soared 158 per cent year on year to VND6.12 trillion.

Mobile World had opened a total of 725 Banh Hoa Xanh grocery retail stores across the country as of August 31, 2019. Forty-four per cent of all stores were located in the southern region (except HCM City).

The company in August opened its first store in Binh Thuan province, also the first south central region store.

Boosting grocery and food sales in the eight-month period was by cutting down on product loss and order cancellations, which fell to 2.5 per cent in August from an average of 3 per cent in the previous seven months.

After eight months, Mobile World earned VND2.7 trillion worth of post-tax profit, up 37 per cent yearly.

The company has fulfilled 76 per cent of its full-year profit target of VND3.57 trillion.

Mobile World said the accumulative net profit margin in eight months was 3.9 per cent.

The company shares (HoSE: MWG) fell 2 per cent to end Monday at VND124,000 ($5.33) per share, having totalled a four-month increase of 41.5 per cent.

BIM Land to get $87.5m from IFC to develop tourism in Viet Nam and Lao PDR

BIM Land Joint Stock Company, a property developer under BIM Group, has reached an agreement with International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, for a loan of up to US$87.5 million to develop tourism infrastructure in Viet Nam and Lao PDR.

Tourism is one of the key growth drivers for both countries. Last year, Viet Nam welcomed 15.5 million foreign visitors while Laos attracted about 4.2 million international arrivals, much lower compared to the 38 million foreigners visiting Thailand annually.

Both Viet Nam and Laos have significant potential for further growth. One of their big challenges is the lack of quality accommodation facilities in tourist destinations.

“We value IFC’s extensive experience and expertise drawn from its global portfolio of tourism projects,” said Doan Quoc Huy, CEO at BIM Land.

“As part of this project, BIM Land will add a significant number of international quality hotel rooms or serviced apartments – more than 1,500 – in Vientiane, Ha Long Bay and Phu Quoc Island. Moreover, the project in Phu Quoc Island is expected to set new environmental and social standards in the property sector, attracting a new category of domestic and international tourists.”

IFC will provide a loan of up to $50 million from its own account and a trust loan up to $37.5 million to BIM Land and its subsidiaries from the multi-investor Managed Co-Lending Portfolio Programme (MCPP) managed by IFC. At least $10 million of this financing package will be offered to developing tourism in Lao PDR.

The project is expected to create about 1,400 jobs – 60 per cent for women. Apart from local hiring and a relatively higher wage, the project will source around 90 per cent of its goods and services locally. IFC will also share best practices to help the company enhance its performance.

In addition, in pursuit of a green and sustainable tourism business, BIM Land has committed to applying IFC’s Excellence in Design for Greater Efficiencies Green Building Certification System (EDGE) in its new hotels to be developed under this project with the aim of reducing energy, water and material consumption by at least 20 per cent compared with similar buildings.

“The tourism industry is a major contributor to employment, foreign exchange earnings, and tax revenues for developing countries,” said Kyle Kelhofer, IFC Country Manager for Viet Nam, Cambodia and Lao PDR.

“In alignment with the Government’s efforts, IFC’s loan to BIM Land will help create higher skilled job opportunities for the local workforce in Lao PDR and Viet Nam, thereby strengthening supply chains, driving inclusive growth and enabling private sector participation.”

CMC tech corp wants to divest from BaoVietBank

The board of directors of CMC Corporation late last week approved divestment at Bao Viet Commercial Joint Stock Bank (BaoVietBank).

The board authorised Nguyen Trung Chinh, Chairman and CEO of CMC, to carry out procedures to transfer all BaoVietBank shares owned by CMC to other investors.

CMC is one of the founding shareholders of BaoVietBank, with contributed capital of VND324 billion (US$14 million) at the end of June this year.

BaoVietBank was established in January 2009 with initial charter capital of VND1.5 trillion, of which the contributed capital ratios of three founding shareholders Bao Viet Group, Vietnam Dairy Products Joint Stock Company (Vinamilk) and CMC were 52 per cent, 8 per cent and 9.9 per cent, respectively.

By the end of the first quarter this year, the shareholders were still BaoVietBank’s major shareholders holding more than 5 per cent of the bank’s charter capital, of which Bao Viet Group owned 49.52 per cent; Vinamilk 14.03 per cent; and CMC 10.3 per cent.

BaoVietBank has recently released information related to its business performance in the first six months of 2019. Accordingly, credit activities played a key role in bringing the bank a profit of nearly VND400 billion, up 49 per cent over the same period of last year.

The bank's net profit from services also rose up by 53 per cent compared to the same period of last year, reaching more than VND43 billion.

By the end of June 2019, BaoVietBank’s total assets reached nearly VND52.16 trillion. The bank’s mobilised capital was VND32.26 trillion while its lending was VND24.98 trillion. The bank’s non-performing loan ratio was more than 3 per cent of total outstanding loans.

RCEP talks to solve trade barriers and find mutual ground

The final round of negotiations for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) – a trade agreement between the ten member states of ASEAN and its six partners: Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea – will focus on resolving issues and reaching mutual ground on market openness, trade freedom for goods and services as well as investment.

More than ever, the closer the deal gets to the finish line the greater political will required from RCEP’s sides to find solutions to remaining obstacles, said Vietnamese Minister of Investment and Planning Tran Tuan Anh at the opening ceremony of the last round of talks for the partnership on Monday in the central city of Da Nang.

He said the talks will focus on finding ways to overcome technical barriers before submitting the draft of the trade partnership to leaders of respective countries. As the host of this round of talks and the Chair of ASEAN in 2020, Viet Nam will strive to support a deal which ensures a harmonious balance between RCEP countries, as well as the region.

ASEAN General Secretary Dato Lim Jock Hoi has expressed optimism over the likelihood that the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) between 10 ASEAN member countries and six partners will be finalised by the end of the year, reported Viet Nam News at the ASEAN Media Forum held in Bangkok on July 29.

Dr Hoe Ee Khor, Chief Economist of ASEAN+3 Macro Economic Research Office, said if ASEAN countries and dialogue partners can finalise the RCEP, it will be a very strong signal of commitment to rules-based multilateral trade amidst the rising trend of protectionism and nationalism.

RCEP’s final round of talk, also its 28th round since the trade deal’s initiation in 2012, will conclude on September 27.

Once in effect, RCEP is expected to become the world’s largest regional trade agreement as it covers a market the size of almost half of the world’s population, 30 per cent of global gross domestic product, 29 per cent of global trade and 32.5 per cent of global investment flow.

Countries have pledged to open their doors to goods and services, investments and to simplify custom protocols as well as to demolish barriers and facilitate trade in the interest of developing value chains that spur the growth of the global economy and RCEP’s members.

It’s Vietbuild expo time again in HCM City

The Vietbuild International Exhibition with the theme 'Real estate - Architecture - Interior and Exterior Decoration' will be held in HCM City from September 25 to 29.

The year’s third Vietbuild in the city -- five will be held in all -- will have over 2,500 booths set up by more than 900 companies from 27 countries and territories, including the US, Greece, Denmark, Russia, France, India, Turkey, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Thailand, China and Viet Nam.

Nguyen Dinh Hung, chairman of the Vietbuild Construction International Exhibition Organising Corporation and deputy head of Vietbuild’s organising committee, said it would be the largest held so far.

On show would be property projects, electrical equipment, doors and accessories, smart housing systems, internal and external decorative items, building materials, solar energy systems, and others, he said.

Exhibitors will also bring many new products and technologies for smart houses, green urban development and green building materials amid increasing demand for them.

There will be business-matching events and seminars on its sidelines, including on aluminium products, the aluminium production process in Viet Nam and China’s Foshan City and others on solutions for reusing rainwater to reduce urban flooding and fire safety during the construction and operation of buildings.

The exhibition offers companies a forum to meet, exchange information, explore co-operation prospects, and show off their latest products and technologies, he said.

It will be held at the Sai Gon Exhibition and Convention Centre in District 7.

Vietnam Airlines inaugurates four-star lounge at Danang airport

Vietnam Airlines has put its four-star Lotus lounge into operation at the international terminal of Danang International Airport.

The business-class lounge covers a total area of 420 square metres and is able to accommodate approximately 100 passengers at one time.

The Lotus lounge at Danang International Airport is the fifth facility among the airline’s Business Lounge system, which is operated by the Vietnam Airport Ground Services Company Limited.

Along with Lotus lounges at Noi Bai International Airport, Hanoi, and Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City, the lounge in Danang will help to bolster the airline’s efforts to provide a quality service to customers in line with its four-star standards in the nation’s northern, central, and southern regions.

The lounge has been designed in a luxuriously manner and is equipped with modern facilities which aim to serve members of the Golden Lotus Program and Business Class passengers of Vietnam Airlines and other airlines.

Once in the Lotus lounge, passengers will be able to enjoy a wide range of services during their wait for flights such as a buffet bar with a variety of food and beverage options, a working room fitted with a computer system connected to the Internet, a printer, a scanner, and a fax machine.

This will be in addition to other facilities such as a modern bathroom, a massage chair, a smoking area, wifi, radio, newspapers, and magazines.

Concerns around GreenLife commitment of beverage brands

After coffee and tea chain Phuc Long’s fraud in garbage classification, consumers look at the GreenLife movement of beverage with suspicion, trying to decide whether it is genuine responsibility or a marketing trick.

A Facebook user named Daisy Tran posted a status about a Phuc Long store on Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Street (Ho Chi Minh City) pulling one over customers by placing a lid with many openings for separate types of rubbish on its garbage bin that all lead to the same container.

“It may cost a lot and be inconvenient for companies to join the “Green Life” movement. You don’t have to do it. But don’t cheat your customers by faking it. This is the last time I went to Phuc Long,” posted Daisy.

The status was made on last Thursday and has since gathered more than 11,000 likes, about 4,900 comments, and 3,700 shares. Many commenters accused Phuc Long of ingenuity in the green movement while others talked about several other problems in Phuc Long's management of its stores. The company has remained quiet about the issue.

Recognising that the plastic reduction trend is an effective marketing tool, many beverage brands have been using it to promote their business by activities like giving up plastic straws and cups or offering discounts to customers who bring their own tumblers – while never truly departing from plastic cups.

This is not the first time Phuc Long has caused a stir with its lack of regard for the environment. The chain in early March was criticised for charging VND2,000 ($0.08) for adding a plastic cup of ice to each order for delivery. The company at the time argued that it was to ensure food safety. However, 24 hours after the announcement, Phuc Long removed the post from its Facebook fan page and promised to keep delivering goods like before.

Phuc Long is one of many cases of abysmal environmental responsibility in the corporate world. Several months ago, Highland Coffee was accused of using single-use plastic cups and straws in its 300 stores across the country, while posing as the vanguard of the plastic reduction movement.

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