VIETNAM BUSINESS NEWS SEPTEMBER 2

Online trade promotion is currently considered as an effective solution for businesses to maintain contacts with their export markets and also a tool to learn about market trends, developments and demand.

Thousands of businesses in Mekong Delta closing

The Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI)'s Can Tho Branch has said the Covid-19 pandemic has caused a crisis to the agriculture, forestry, and fishing industry in the Mekong Delta.

The branch's director Nguyen Phuong Lam said on August 31 that over the past two months, the Mekong Delta had recorded over 60,000 Covid-19 infection cases. And from June to August, over 10,000 businesses have left the market in the area. This figure in the first six months of the year was 6,000. Nearly 90 percent of firms in the area have suspended operations.

Statistics from the Ministry of Planning and Investment show that 79,673 firms suspended operation in Vietnam in the first seven months, an increase of 23% compared to the same period in 2020. Of which 23,000 firms are in HCM City.

"The agriculture, forestry, and fishing is the spearhead industry in the Mekong Delta. The products must be harvested but then there is no storage. If this situation continues, we'll lose raw material areas and will take a long time to recover," Lam said.

Firms said they had had many difficulties due to the lack of co-operation between local authorities since the 13 provinces have 13 different policies and rules. The stay-at-work model is too expensive and ineffective while governmental support has not been forthcoming fast enough. Most firms are operating at 20-30% of their capacity. Many firms have to accept losses to maintain business.

Many firms want better processes to transport goods between provinces and cities, financial policies to boost businesses when the social distancing period ends.

Pham Binh An, deputy head of the Ho Chi Minh City Institute for Development Studies said the problem was at what time would social distancing end and what firms have to prepare. It is likely that they would have to live with Covid-19 when the population is fully vaccinated and the government has suitable plans.

"The goal is to control the outbreak after September 15 but no one can tell if social distancing will be lifted after September 15," An said.

A third-quarter survey conducted by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Can Tho showed local firms had a very negative outlook. 40% of surveyed firms said that their revenue will continue to drop and 40% said access to raw materials would be more difficult. Tran Khac Tam, head of Soc Trang Business Association also said there would still be difficulties until the middle of the final quarter.

Standard Chartered Vietnam increases charter capital, reinforcing its local commitment

Standard Chartered Vietnam has been approved to increase its charter capital to over VND6.9 trillion (US$302.3 million) from VND4.2 trillion ($184 million) by the State Bank of Viet Nam in accordance with Document No 1343/QD-NHNN dated 23 August 2021.

This follows previous increases made in 2018 with around $49 million (nearly VND1.1 trillion) and in 2019 with $100 million (VND2.3 trillion).

Michele Wee, CEO for Vietnam, Standard Chartered Bank, said: “We are very happy to get the approval for our charter increase. This is our third capital injection since 2018, reinforcing our long-term commitment to the country. We have built a strong business here and aspire to take it to even greater heights. We affirm the strong outlook for Viet Nam and will continue to invest in the opportunities that the market offers. We will work with our clients, the regulators and our communities to drive trade, investment and the creation of wealth in the country responsibly.”

Standard Chartered has been investing significantly in Viet Nam over the last few years and growing its business across the country. In April 2021, the bank inked an agreement with Capital Place to open the bank’s new head office and branch in Ha Noi. Capital Place is a modern international Grade A office complex located in the heart of the city at 29 Lieu Giai, Ba Dinh. Standard Chartered Vietnam’s head office and its branch are expected to begin operations by the end of 2021. The investment in more resources and infrastructure in the bank's local franchise aims to better serve its clients and deliver solutions that enable customer choice and access to the best and most innovative solutions to both private and public sector.

The bank also aspires to build a stronger community in Viet Nam, where it has been present and making an impact for 117 years. Last year, Standard Chartered launched a $50 million COVID-19 global assistance fund, in which $200,000 and other in-kind donations are donated to the COVID-19 prevention and relief efforts in Viet Nam through multiple non-profit organisations and hospitals. The bank also introduced a series of relief measures to support its clients.

Vietnam resumes export of fresh bananas to China

Chinese enterprises have re-started the import of fresh bananas from Vietnam through the Kim Thanh Border Gate in Lao Cai province, according to the Management Board of Lao Cai Province Economic Zone on September 1.

During the three days from August 29-31, about 300 tonnes of fresh bananas were transported to Hekou, China via the border gate.

The bananas were grown in concentrated banana growing areas in Muong Khuong and Bao Thang districts, Lao Cai province and were transported by air-conditioned container trucks to China.

Previously, the Chinese side had suspended the import of Vietnamese fresh bananas through the Kim Thanh Border Gate from August 5 due to the requirements of COVID-19 pandemic prevention and control.

The Department of Industry and Trade of Lao Cai province has actively discussed with Hekou district to resume the exchange of agricultural products.

The Chinese side said that the Vietnamese banana is a type of fresh fruit that has long been allowed to be imported into China by the Chinese inspection and quarantine agency and is once again included in the list of permitted exports. As long as the fruit meets testing and quarantine requirements for imported fruits, it is allowed to be shipped to China, according to Director of the Department of Industry and Trade of Lao Cai province Hoang Chi Hien.

The Chinese side also asked Vietnamese enterprises to comply with all requirements on COVID-19 prevention and control for exported goods and vehicles, ensuring the safe operation of the border gate between the two sides.

Bananas are mainly grown in the districts of Bao Thang, Bat Xat and Muong Khuong, Lao Cai province. The province is expected to harvest over 85,300 tonnes of bananas in 2021.

AI takes centre stage for overall successes

The adoption of AI to address urgent global issues is also taking place in Vietnam, with AI-enabled tech slated to drive forward digital transformation across areas as diverse as healthcare, transport, and education.

The AI Day 2021 online event, themed on empowering innovations, was organised last week from Hanoi over two days with the aim of unlocking solutions to developing AI in Vietnam. Key speakers agreed that AI is a core technology of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, making an important contribution to creating a breakthrough development in production capacity, improving national-level competitiveness, and promoting sustainable economic development.

By 2030, the government targets Vietnam to become a global centre for innovation and development of AI solutions and applications, especially in the region. Already, Vietnam is in the top four leading countries in ASEAN and top 50 worldwide in research and development (R&D) and application of AI.

According to VinAI Research, the tech arm of Vingroup that organised AI Day, Vietnam will have at least one representative in the top 20 leading AI research and training institutions in Southeast Asia by the end of the decade. The country will build 10 prestigious AI trade brands in the region, develop three national centres for large data storage and high-performance computing, and form several innovation centres for AI. Around 50 databases will be formed in economic sectors and socioeconomic fields to serve R&D and application of AI.

From healthcare and education to transportation, AI could improve the delivery of public services, VinAI Research said. Thus, the Vietnamese government has positioned itself to take advantage of this AI-powered transformation.

In 2020, Vietnam ranked 76th out of 172 countries and territories in the 2020 Government AI Readiness Index, with AI noted in a number of government policies. Over the years, the government has announced several projects for smart city development and national digital transformation. Local authorities also have jumped on the bandwagon – Hanoi takes part in the ASEAN Smart Cities Network while Ho Chi Minh City has released a separate plan for AI application.

Bui The Duy, Deputy Minister of Science and Technology, said, “From 2006 to 2020, nearly 100 national projects related to AI have been funded by the government worth VND170 billion ($7.45 million). There has been a trend for IT companies to invest in AI in Vietnam such as Vingroup and FPT.”

However, AI adoption in industry, agriculture, and healthcare is limited, he added “Some surveys revealed that only 13.6 per cent of companies have applied AI while 36.4 per cent have intentions to invest in it. Vietnam’s AI market is quite small with limited open platforms, and there are only 65 startups in the industry. Thus, it needs more efforts to transform Vietnam into an AI hub for the region.”

FPT plans to spend over VND300 billion ($13 million) on R&D for AI in the next five years.

Bui Hai Hung, general director of VinAI Research, said, “Over the years, AI has become an effective tool to contribute to solving difficulties as well as creating many opportunities for Vietnamese businesses. Despite possessing great potential, development in the field in this country still encounters many obstacles – but as a leader in AI research and application, we aim to bring Vietnamese AI products to the world.”

Hung also noted that AI-induced products could help in the battle against COVID-19 on various levels, in terms of monitoring distance activities in public places and in isolation areas; and detect people not wearing masks in crowded places.

“From data obtained through the pandemic, AI can analyse and make predictions about the next scale of the outbreak, provide real-time scenarios, and help authorities proactively respond to high-risk zones,” he said.

AI development in Vietnam is not geographically limited within a domestic scale. In April, the country inked a deal with South Korean tech giant Naver Group as a part of its long-term national strategy.

The following month, a $2.7 million package from the Australian government was committed to the knowledge and innovation of Vietnam in the sectors of future digital economy (including digital technology and AI) and resilient agriculture and food systems.

And another major conglomerate from South Korea – Samsung – last week also confirmed its target to invest around $206 billion over the next three years in semiconductors, AI, and also biopharmaceutical products.

Hoa Binh plans major national tourism area at Hoa Binh Reservoir

The northern province of Hoa Binh has announced a plan to develop a national tourism area at Hoa Binh Reservoir that covers 52,200ha.

Hoa Binh Provincial People's Committee announced the project with a view to 2035 during an online meeting. The project was approved by the prime minister on March 25.

The project will spread across Thai Binh, Phuong Lam, Tan Thinh wards, Hoa Binh Commune and a part of Da Bac, Cao Phong, Tan Lac and Mai Chau districts. This will be a national tourism site and a key project of the northern midland and mountainous region. Diverse tourism products are promised with the rich ethnic minority cultures and the biodiversity of Hoa Binh Reservoir.

There will be several zones including the entrance area connected to Bich Ha Port, a central tourism area in Da Ba District, an eco-tourism area in the north of Hoa Binh Reservoir and a bay area in Cao Phong and Tan Lac districts. There are also tourism service area in Mai Chau District and another eco-tourism area in Da Bac district.

In the first phase, the investors will focus on zoning planning, detailed planning, infrastructure development, brand building, and product development.

The second phase will be carried out from 2025 to 2035. The project will be completed put into use zone by zone.

Living wage for garment workers in Vietnam up 57 per cent

According to a new analysis from the non-profit Fair Labor Association (FLA), clothing companies in Vietnam were able to raise workers' wages by as much as 57 per cent over the past three years.

Vietnamese factory workers can now earn a living wage without having to work overtime
The report documents significant increases in net wages – ranging from 29 per cent to 57 per cent over a 3-year period. The increases allowed factory workers in Vietnam to earn a living wage without working overtime.

“Too often, factory workers must work excessive overtime to supplement low pay to make ends meet, but that’s not fair to workers,” said FLA president and CEO Sharon Waxman. “A better quality of life for factory workers is within reach when buyers, suppliers, and workers collaborate to achieve a living wage in a regular workweek.”

Overtime that exceeds 60 hours per week or leaves workers without one day of rest per week is common in global supply chains. Typically, factory workers seek overtime when they cannot afford basic expenses to support their families because of low pay earned during a regular workweek. Low pay is attributable to the pressure to produce products quickly and at a low cost based on expectations from buyers, retailers, and consumers.

The new FLA report presents practical approaches to achieving a living wage through better purchasing practices by buyers and better planning by factory management. Case studies in the report identify the root causes of excessive overtime and describe how buyers, suppliers, and workers collaborated to improve wages and reduce overtime.

In Vietnam, the Maxport Limited production facility in Nam Dinh changed its production planning schedule to assume a shorter workweek, built in time to account for unanticipated delays, and set stricter purchasing guidelines for its customers. Over a 5-year period, the average increase in real wages was 39 per cent.

Vietnam is the FLA’s second-highest sourcing country among FLA members, with more than 600 factories across affiliated companies and suppliers. The report covers 54 factory assessments in Vietnam conducted from 2012 to 2019.

Efforts needed to bring electronic exports to 50 billion USD this year

Exports of electronic products and components may reach 50 billion USD in value in 2021, a year-on-year rise of 13.5 percent, according to the Import-Export Department under the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT).

To reach the target, huge efforts by businesses, the State, as well as relevant agencies and localities are required.

Shipments of key industrial goods like components, computers and electronic products raked in 27.6 billion USD the first eight months of the year, surging 24.8 percent compared to the same period of 2020, the latest report of the MoIT showed.

Demand for such products is forecast to continue rising in the rest of 2021.

Truong Hai Auto Corporation (THACO) exported millions of automobile components to its partners in the Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Russia and Japan.

THACO General Director Pham Van Tai said that although the fourth wave of COVID-19 outbreaks has dealt a major blow to firms’ operations, especially in early of this year’s third quarter, components and mechanical items still have chances to enter the European market.

The complexities of the pandemic are sending firms to difficulties, primarily in transport and supply, as their foreign business partners impose stringent criteria, he added.

They are advised to focus on project development and investment, in an effort to seize opportunities and momentum once the pandemic is brought under control.

Concerns have been rising amongst electronic firms due to the complex developments of COVID-19 and social distancing measures in numerous localities.

Payment for regular COVID-19 tests for employees and overload in transport service providers lead to higher costs of production as firms must maintain their product prices, so they may fall into losses./.

Vietnam aims to enter top 50 countries in tourism competitiveness

Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Nguyen Van Hung has signed an action programme on tourism development in the 2021-2025 period, with an aim to make tourism a spearhead sector and put Vietnam into top 50 nations with the highest tourism competitiveness in the world. 

The programme was built on the foundation of opinions from management officials, experts, and businesses in the tourism sector, aiming to realise the tourism development policies stated in the Resolution of the 13th National Party Congress as well as the Government’s Resolution No. 50/NQ-CP dated May 20, 2021 on the Action Programme to implement the resolution.

On this basis, the action programme on tourism development during the 2021-2025 period sets out seven key tasks including: reviewing, evaluating and completing policies on tourism development; applying science-technology and digital technology in the tourism industry; investing in infrastructure serving tourism; developing products and managing service quality; supporting businesses to restore and develop amidst the pandemic; developing high-quality human resources; and enhancing promotion activities and international cooperation.

These tasks are to be solidified by 17 key projects and tasks, many of them are expected to settle “bottlenecks” in tourism development of the country in tourism infrastructure and tourism products.

Meanwhile, many tasks were set out to deal with the current difficulties of the sector, including policies to support businesses and tourism workers to overcome difficulties caused by COVID-19 in association with financial support measures, tax exemptions and reductions and soft loans, and the digitisation and application of modern technologies to create a smart tourism ecosystem.

At the same time, the programme also underlined the significance of close coordination among ministries, sectors and localities to support the tourism sector to overcome difficulties, promote sustainable development, and become a spearhead economic sector of the country.

A digital slant for economic recovery

The health crisis has dented growth prospects for Vietnam that are now forecast to stay at a lower-than-hoped level. However, one of the key remedies for a sustainable rebound will be boosting the digital economy.

Having performed remarkably well in 2020 both in controlling the spread of COVID-19 and achieving one of the highest GDP growth rates in the world, at 2.91 per cent, Vietnam’s economy grew by a solid 5.64 per cent in the first quarter of 2021.

However, today Vietnam is facing its most severe COVID-19 outbreak since the beginning of the pandemic, partly due to low vaccinations. Since early May, manufacturing and services activities have been increasingly hamstrung by targeted lockdowns to contain community transmission of the virus. Especially since mid-July, mobility restrictions have been widened, with the southern region, Ho Chi Minh City, and then Hanoi, placed under strict quarantine, affecting economic activities.

In the meantime, the economy also faces the risk of increased competition in its external markets as competitors who are ahead in vaccinations are restarting their production and could recapture some of the market shares they lost to Vietnam due to COVID-19-related production disruptions in 2020.

Therefore, the World Bank has warned, the economy “could be at risk of losing both its domestic and external drivers of growth” if the current outbreak is not rapidly contained.

The World Bank last week released its fresh projection on Vietnam’s economic outlook, which is not as optimistic as the government expected.

“The Vietnamese economy could expand by around 4.8 per cent in 2021 and converge toward the pre-pandemic GDP growth rate of 6.5 to 7 per cent from 2022 onward,” said the bank’s August 2021 edition of the Taking Stock report, which analyses the grave impact the pandemic is having on the economy and its prospects.

“This projection remains positive but it is 2 percentage points lower than the one in December’s 2020 Taking Stock edition because of the negative effects associated with the latest COVID-19 outbreak and is subject to further risks to the downside. It is also lower than the government’s official projection of a GDP growth rate of 6 per cent in 2021,” said the report.

This new projection assumes that the current outbreak will gradually be brought under control, allowing the economy to rebound in the fourth quarter. This rebound will also be supported by the acceleration of the vaccination programme, which should cover at least 70 per cent of the adult population by mid-2022, preventing severe outbreaks.

“This projection should be made with caution as serious uncertainties remain around the magnitude and duration of the pandemic, including the rise of new variants and the pace of vaccination in Vietnam and in the rest of the world,” said Dorsati Madani, senior economic expert from the World Bank in Vietnam. “If these risks materialise, Vietnam’s economic recovery will be delayed, and the GDP growth rate in 2021 will be lower than the projected 4.8 per cent.”

Vietnam’s short- to medium-term economic prospects will depend on several factors such as the pace of national vaccinations; the evolution of the coronavirus pandemic, and thus resumption of economic activities in countries that compete with Vietnam in export markets; and weaker-than-expected growth especially in Vietnam’s key export markets could weigh on the recovery. Currently, the recovery in the US, the European Union, and China is underway but remains fragile.

“If one or more of these risks were to materialise, exports and domestic demand would not rebound as expected. The economy could in a low case scenario still grow by 3.2 per cent in 2021 and 5.5 per cent in 2022,” the World Bank report stated.

However, global analysts FocusEconomics last week also predicted that Vietnam’s GDP is projected to grow at one of the fastest paces in the region this year, with domestic activity rebounding on a strong manufacturing sector and improving foreign demand boosting exports. “However, the recent surge in daily COVID-19 cases represents a key downside risk to the outlook. Our panelists expect GDP to expand 5.8 per cent in 2021, which is down 0.6 percentage points from last month’s forecast, and 6.8 per cent in 2022.”

According to experts, the most effective immediate solutions now to protect people’s lives and spur on economic activities will be boosting vaccination programmes.

 

However, in the long term, there may be new variants of the pandemic which can continue causing disruptions in traveling, production, and business activities. Thus Vietnam needs to develop a contactless economy with the application of digital technologies. This will enable the nation to escalate in the regional and global value chains.

“If one believes in the predictive power of financial markets, digitalisation will be the future of the Vietnamese economy,” said Jacques Morisset, the World Bank lead economist and Programme Leader for Vietnam.

Over the past year, the value of several local high-tech companies has surged by around 200 per cent on the Ho Chi Minh City Stock Exchange, including Digiworld, a market expansion provider, and Vien Lien, a telecommunications equipment business, which were up by 252 per cent and 189 per cent, respectively.

“As the world tries to emerge from the COVID-19 crisis, it has become clear that digital transformation will have an increasingly important role in the global economy,” Morisset said. “Countries are already competing globally for digital supremacy, and the Vietnamese government has clearly indicated it wants to be in the race by making digital transformation one of the central objectives of its 2021–2030 National Development Strategy.”

According to Hoang Anh Tu, vice head of the Ministry of Information and Communications’ Department of International Cooperation, the government has issued the National Digital Transformation Programme with the three key pillars of digital government, digital economy, and digital society. Vietnam’s goal by 2025 is that the digital economy will create 20 per cent of GDP, while there will be 100,000 digital technology enterprises, and Vietnam will be the best place in the region for digital businesses to do business and succeed, and the country will become a digital nation.

“We are living in an uncertain world and we all want to find certainty in uncertainty,” Tu said. “I think two things are bound to happen. One is digital transformation and digital technology will continue developing, and another is Vietnam will overcome COVID-19 and soon return to the new normal.”

Currently, Vietnam is one of the fastest-growing internet economies in the region, although arguably from a low base, according to the World Bank. Concretely, e-commerce sales have been growing at a similar pace as world e-commerce sales and faster than GDP. In 2020, Vietnam’s e-commerce market value reached almost $12 billion or 2.5 per cent of GDP.

It is estimated that 53 per cent of the population has shopped online using social networking platforms, such as Facebook and Zalo, or e-commerce platforms like Lazada, Shopee, and Tiki.

According to an e-commerce development plan approved by the Vietnamese government, the sector’s revenues are targeted to reach $35 billion by 2025. To achieve that target, e-commerce sales will have to annually grow by roughly 16.2 per cent.

But Morisset said Vietnam is in a good but uneven position to become a digital powerhouse. “Vietnam is one of the most connected in the world, especially for its income level, with high mobile and internet penetration rates, and an increasing use of IT tools and platforms by businesses. It also hosts several of the world’s leading IT companies,” he said. “However, Vietnam is lagging in several dimensions such as skills, financing, and a conducive regulatory environment that include data access and security, that will prevent it from making the most of the rapid digital transformation.”

To become a digital powerhouse, he suggested, Vietnam will need to offer the conditions that will enable its local operators to adopt and adapt new global digital technologies.

“So far, the country has done a good job. Today, it compares well to peer and aspirational comparators in penetration of mobile phones and its citizens and enterprises are well connected to the internet,” Morisset said. “Its digital infrastructure is quite modern, covering all provinces, and funded by forward-looking national telecommunication companies. It also hosts several world-leading IT firms such as Apple, Samsung, and Intel. This demonstrates Vietnam’s competitiveness and offers a unique platform for local firms and developers - the model adopted by Japan and South Korea in the 1970s and 1980s, and more recently by China.”

Vietnamese agricultural products favoured in choosy EU market

Amidst difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the export of agricultural and aquatic products to the EU still sees many bright signs as Vietnamese enterprises have directly exported fresh fruits to foreign partners.

According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, in the first seven months of 2021, the EU was Vietnam’s third biggest market after the US and China, with a total export turnover of 22.6 billion USD, up 15.6 percent year-on-year.

Of the 28.6 billion USD worth of export revenues of agro-fishery-forestry products, the EU market accounted for 11 percent.

The year 2021 is considered an important milestone when fruits such as fresh litchi and longan are directly exported to Western European countries such as the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Germany, and the UK by Vietnamese companies. It is noteworthy that Vietnam’s fresh litchi is sold not only in the Asian supermarket or stores but also European supermarket chains.

A representative of the Vietnam Trade Office in Belgium and the EU said that to help Vietnamese goods better access the EU market, it will coordinate with the Department of Agricultural Product Processing and Market Development under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to make a list of prestigious fruit processing and exporting enterprises across the country to connect with partners, and continue looking for new ones in the EU.

The office proposed localities pay more attention to calling on domestic exporters to closely link with households and businesses and cooperatives to promote production with Global GAP certification, and support exporters to ensure the smooth circulation of commodities.

Regarding the export of aquatic products to the EU market, a representative of the Vietnam Trade Office in Spain advised exporters to fully meet technical standards on food safety and hygiene from catching, preserving to processing and transporting so as not to violate current food safety regulations of the EU in general and Spain in particular.

The EU and Spain are increasingly interested in the social responsibility of enterprises in producing and exporting goods of the third countries./.

Vietnam requests investigation into Thai sugar’s trade remedy evasion

The Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) received requests on September 1 from the Vietnam Sugar Association and six domestic producers for an investigation into the trade remedy evasion for cane sugar products which originate from Thailand.

Though Vietnam recently enforced anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties on cane sugar imported from Thailand, there are signs that these products pass through ASEAN members such as Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Myanmar before they enter Vietnam in order to evade trade remedies.

Most notably, the sugar import turnover from ASEAN member nations, with the exception of Thailand, has increased sharply.

Earlier, the MoIT on June 15 imposed anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties of 42.99% and 4.65%, respectively, on several sugar products originating from Thailand.

At present, the MoIT has actively co-ordinated with the Vietnam Sugar Association to strictly monitor the import situation and collect information for a further investigation into the case.

Online trade promotion - Leverage to boost connectivity, improve brands

Online trade promotion - Leverage to boost connectivity, improve brands hinh anh 1

Online trade promotion is currently considered as an effective solution for businesses to maintain contacts with their export markets and also a tool to learn about market trends, developments and demand.

The outbreak of COVID-19 in many countries has forced Vietnam’s import and export markets to take strong measures to contain the spread of the pandemic. This has hindered the organisation of traditional trade promotion activities of enterprises.

Therefore, a change in the work is a must to create a leverage for industries and businesses to connect with and build brands in their export markets to overcome the pandemic.

In fact, a shift from offline fairs to online promotion has helped increase export turnover and exploit new markets in the new situation.

According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, Vietnam’s total trade turnover in July is estimated at 55.7 billion USD, a month-on-month rise of 1.5 percent.

Demand for imports remains high, as countries are speeding up vaccination against COVID-19 and reopening their doors, thus helping raise the demand for textiles, footwear, furniture and electronics from Vietnam.

In addition, free trade agreements are being implemented in a more comprehensive and effective manner, and expected to continue promoting Vietnam's exports.

Therefore, online trade connectivity is a golden key for the goods of Vietnamese enterprises to reach out to the world.

General Director of the Hanoi Trading Corporation Vu Thanh Son said, with the cost equal to one tenth of that of face-to-face contact, online connectivity is currently a solution for businesses to maintain contacts with their export markets, as well as a tool to learn about market trends, developments and needs.

Moreover, enterprises can do marketing globally, access information and conduct transactions with customers around the clock.

However, experts advised enterprises not to rely only on state promotion programmes, but actively trade and connect online with partners around the world through the use of e-commerce platforms or social networks./.

Vietnam attends CPTPP ministerial-level talks

A Vietnamese delegation, led by Minister of Industry and Trade Nguyen Hong Dien, attended at a ministerial-level talks of the 11-member Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) on September 1.

At the virtual meeting chaired by Japanese Economic and Fiscal Policy Minister Nishimura Yasutoshi, participants affirmed amid complicated COVID-19 developments, the CPTPP deal makes a significant contribution to the recovery of economy, trade, and global supply chains.

They said they will sustain and consolidate the multilateral trade system centred around the World Trade Organization (WTO) and committed to closely cooperate with WTO members at the organisation's upcoming 12th Ministerial Conference.

The ministers also discussed the expansion of the CPTPP and agreed to hold the first working-level meeting to discuss the United Kingdom's entry.

Concluding the function, a decision on the establishment of a subcommittee on e-commerce and a joint statement were passed.

The next meeting is expected to fall in mid-2022 under the chair of Singapore./.

CPTPP ministers agree to set up e-commerce subcommittee

Participants at a ministerial-level talks of the 11-member Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) on September 1 agreed to set up a subcommittee on e-commerce toward boosting trade through digitalisation.

As reported by Japan Broadcasting Corporation NHK, the virtual event, also known as TPP11, saw an agreement on holding the first working-level meeting to discuss the United Kingdom's entry in about a month.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Japanese Economic and Fiscal Policy Minister Nishimura Yasutoshi said Britain's entry may have great importance in allowing the CPTPP rules to apply beyond the Asia-Pacific region.

He said member states are now working closely to arrange the opportunity to discuss the UK's admission.

Signed in Chile in March 2018, CPTPP now has 11 members including Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam, accounting for 13 percent of world GDP.

It became effective on December 30, 2018 after it was ratified by Australia, Canada, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand and Singapore. In Vietnam, the deal came into force in January 2019.

In February 2021, the UK applied to join the bloc./.

Cooperative alliance promotes agricultural supply-demand links

Agricultural cooperatives are facing a host of difficulties at this time, such as supply chain disruptions, large inventories, and rising input costs, among others. To help them overcome the difficulties, the Vietnam Union of Cooperatives has bolstered agricultural supply and demand links.

The revenue and profit of 90 percent of cooperatives have sharply declined, and half of all cooperatives have ceased production. To help them overcome the difficulties, the Cooperative Alliance has been working to offer them assistance to maintain operations.

Cooperatives are viewed as a bridge helping farmers connect with businesses and find markets for their products. In order to thoroughly resolve problems in supply and demand facing the agricultural products of cooperatives, however, it is necessary to identify synchronous solutions from authorised agencies./.

Mekong Delta region seeks to revive tourism industry

The tourism industry in general and accommodation service businesses in the Mekong Delta are struggling to maintain operations as the number of visitors to regional provinces and cities has decreased rapidly in recent months due to complicated developments of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Even in localities with many attractive destinations that lure a large number of tourists each year such as Dong Thap has also recorded a significant drop in tourist arrivals.

According to the local tourism sector, Dong Thap welcomed about 600,000 visitors in the first quarter of this year, down 27 percent from the same period in 2020.

Statistics show that the Mekong Delta is home to about 2,490 accommodation establishments.

Experts believed that it is now time to re-evaluate tourism activities, make plans and prepare long and medium-term strategies to promote tourism development in the coming time.

The Mekong Delta, which was identified as one of the seven tourist regions of the country, has rich tourism resources, with over 28,000 km of canals, a diverse ecosystem, and unique cultural values. It boasts great potential to become an important resort destination in the southern region.

 Experts said that attention should be paid to tapping the strengths to develop tourism forms, such as ecotourism, resort, sea and island tourism, MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) tourism, culture-history tourism, spiritual tourism, and agriculture and community-based tourism.

 The region needs to focus on diversifying tourism products which can exploit its advantages such as eco-resort tourism associated with health care, agriculture and outdoor activities, they noted.

Last year, localities in the Mekong Delta region served only 28.5 million visitors, earning 21.88 trillion VND, down over 38 percent and 50 percent year-on-year, respectively./.

Vietnam advised to speed up digital transformation for socio-economic development

Vietnam will need to do more if it wants to become a digital powerhouse as envisioned in the socio-economic development strategy adopted by the Party in February 2021, said a report of the World Bank.

In its latest edition of Taking Stock – the World Bank’s biannual update on Vietnam’s economic performance,  the WB stressed that Vietnam needs to ensure the development of a digitally skilled labour force, the emergence of a dynamic and agile local private sector, and good but secure access to information.

The report reviews the recent developments in the Vietnamese economy and discusses the economy’s short- to medium-term prospects, highlighting domestic and external risks associated to the COVID-19  pandemic. 

The report said that in order to improve its economic autonomy, Vietnam needs to take advantage of existing conditions to become a digital powerhouse.

“While downside risks have heightened, economic fundamentals remain solid in Vietnam, and the economy could converge toward the pre-pandemic GDP growth rate of 6.5 to 7 percent from 2022 onward”, Rahul Kitchlu, World Bank Acting Country Director for Vietnam, said in the WB's recent press release.

Vietnam aims to be among the top 50 countries in the ICT Development Index as early as 2025, and its digital economy is hope to account for one third of the country's GDP by the end of the decade, instead of only 5 percent.

According to Jacques Morisset, WB Lead Economist for Vietnam, digital transformation is happening in Vietnam and the COVID-19 shock is a big driving factor. Since the appearance of the COVID-19 pandemic, Vietnam has witnessed a great change in the application of new digitization tools in both private and public sectors.

The WB estimated that in June 2021, about two-thirds of private enterprises in Vietnam have access to technologies related to the digital economy. This is a huge leap from the pre-COVID-19 period.

Vietnam still has a lot of work to do, Morisset said.

In addition to upgrading infrastructure, Vietnam needs to encourage the application of digital technology and attract investment to create conditions for small businesses to participate in the digital economy, he added.

He also underlined the necessity for Vietnam to upgrade digital technology infrastructures, and equip workers with digital skills to help them become more dynamic in adapting to new technologies.

In the short term, Vietnam can take advantage of the presence of many famous technology enterprises such as Intel, Apple and Samsung to learn and improve digital skills for local labourers working for these corporations, he said.

The Vietnamese Government can issue a series of initiatives to attract talents from expatriates working in digital technology fields around the world, he added./.

Source: VNA/VNS/VOV/VIR/SGT/SGGP/Nhan Dan/Hanoitimes  

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