VIETNAM'S BUSINESS NEWS HEADLINES AUGUST 28

Binh Phuoc’s biggest solar power project to join national grid in December

VIETNAM'S BUSINESS NEWS HEADLINES AUGUST 28
At the construction site

Work on Binh Phuoc’s biggest solar power project has been sped up for its joining of the national grid on December 31.

The 850MWp project, consisting of five plants in the southern province’s Loc Ninh district, has three phases, with total cost exceeding 12 trillion VND (516.57 million USD).

Its investor – Hung Hai Group – is also channeling capital on building the associated 220kV Loc Ninh – Binh Long 2 transmission line to link the plants with the national grid. The 29km line runs through Loc Thanh, Loc Tan, Loc Thien, Loc Thanh, and Loc Thinh communes in Loc Ninh district, and Thanh Luong commune in Binh Long town.

Nguyen Van Loi, Secretary of the provincial Party Committee, said Binh Phuoc’s planned solar power capacity is 4,000 MWp.

According to him, a large number of investors have asked for permission to develop the renewable energy here, but only Hung Hai was given the greenlight. Once the project is operational, each MWp of solar power will contribute about 800 million VND to the provincial budget in tax.

According to experts, Binh Phuoc holds huge advantages to develop solar power, with an average of 2,700 sunshine hours per year.

It is working to transfer over 5,000ha of rubber trees with poor economic values into land for the development of the green energy./.

PM attends Standard Chartered-ASEAN Business Forum 2020

As ASEAN Chair 2020, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc attended and delivered a speech at the Standard Chartered-ASEAN Business Forum 2020 themed “Unlocking the region’s potential”, which was televised on international medial channels. 

The event, which is being held from August 25-28, drew the attendance of leaders of businesses and organisations from Asia, the Middle East, Europe and the US to discuss emerging trends that could shape the future of the region. 

In his speech at the first session entitled “Tapping growth opportunities during and after COVID-19”, PM Phuc said in the face of challenges caused by COVID-19, the ASEAN Community has shown its strong will and spirit of resilience, actively cooperated with partners via the implementation of resolutions adopted at the meetings of economic ministers with the US, Australia and the European Union and joint statements of ASEAN and ASEAN 3 summits with China, Japan, the Republic of Korea held in Hanoi in April.

Boasting a gross domestic product of nearly 3 trillion USD and a population of over 630 million with growing incomes, ASEAN is a big market for ambitious businesses worldwide, he said, adding that Vietnam joined the bloc 25 years ago and signed 13 free trade agreements, including the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the European Union – Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA).

PM Phuc stressed that Vietnam always welcomes foreign firms and investors. With an improving favourable business environment, Vietnam has so far attracted over 32,000 foreign-invested projects with a total capital of more than 380 billion USD from 140 countries and partners, he said.

Towards the ASEAN Vision 2025 and 2030, the PM shared ASEAN’s strong economic cooperation policies. Firstly, ASEAN member states will continue staying united, promoting the bloc’s central role in regional economic collaboration, prioritising coordination with partner nations and foreign enterprises.

ASEAN attaches importance to law abidance and building of stable and sustainable cooperation frameworks, especially for the development of a digital economy. ASEAN is competitive enough to attract shift of supply chains in the region.

According to the PM, ASEAN is striving to invest in hard and soft infrastructure, with a focus on human resources quality improvement. It is working to narrow the development gap and expand coordination in the Greater Mekong Sub-region which holds potential to lure investment flows.

The PM affirmed that ASEAN treasures the partnerships between businesses and governments. Recommendations raised at the forum will be collected and considered thoroughly, he added.

Following PM Phuc's speech, a discussion attracted the participation of Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Senior Minister and Coordinating Minister for Social Policies and Chairman of the Monetary Authority of Singapore; Indonesian Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan; and CEO of Standard Chartered Bill Winters.

The event features four sessions, in which speakers from the State and private sector will talk about the grouping’s trade opportunities amid geo-political challenges, strategies to maintain growth and the best practices for sustainable development.

Standard Chartered Regional CEO for ASEAN and South Asia Judy Hsu said it is time for parties concerned to seek new opportunities in the region which boasts young and dynamic workforce, growing middle-income class and vibrant digital economy.

74 HNX-listed companies report higher losses in H1

Seventy-four of 348 companies listed on the Ha Noi Stock Exchange (HNX) posted losses in the first six months of the year.

Of the total number of listed companies, 343 firms have released their second-quarter earnings reports while the other five have not.

The number of loss-making firms was up 34.5 per cent year-on-year and their total losses increased by 32.9 per cent year-on-year to VND711.9 billion (US$30.8 million), according to HNX.

Real estate firms posted a 341 per cent surge in total losses for the first six months.

Total losses recorded by the HNX-listed property developers were VND121.3 billion, up 341 per cent year-on-year from last year’s figure of VND27.5 billion.

According to the northern market regulator, companies in six of 11 sectors reported higher losses in the first six months.

Other loss-making sectors included mining and energy, oil and gas, and logistics and transportation with losses increasing by 225 per cent and 214 per cent, respectively.

Most of the companies blamed the COVID-19 pandemic for their losses as they had to halt operations and purchasing power declined due to lower income.

On the other hand, nearly 270 listed companies made profits in January-June. But their total profit slid 1.14 per cent year-on-year to VND11.38 trillion in the first six months.

Five sectors saw companies raise their profits, including financials. Profits financial firms gained 11.7 per cent year-on-year to VND605.8 billion.

Notably, trading, accommodation and eatery firms recorded the biggest gain in profit (56.8 per cent) but only 17 of all 48 companies in the sector saw their profits increase.

A key contribution to the firms’ increased profits was their divestments from non-core business activities.  

EU-funded submarine power project in Binh Dinh becomes operational

A submarine power cable project to supply electricity for Nhon Chau island commune of the south central province of Binh Dinh has been put into operation, announced the Binh Dinh Power Company on August 24. 

As a result, about 600 local families with more than 2,300 residents now have access to electricity.

The project was built at an investment worth nearly VND351.5 billion (US$15.1 million), including VND280 billion funded by the EU.

It comprised four main components, including a transformer station in the southern neighbouring province of Phu Yen and two in Nhon Chau commune, and a 22kV undersea power cable measuring over 10km in length.

Optical fiber cables are also installed to provide telecommunication and information services for the island.

Nhon Chau island is located 22km off Quy Nhon city. Electricity on the island was previously generated by diesel generators which operate only 12 hours a day.

 
MoIT announces list of prestigious exporters for 2019

The Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) on August 24 said it has selected 268 prestigious exporters for 2019 from nominations made by 55 relevant ministries, industry associations and local departments of industry and trade. 

The list of firms cover 25 commodity sectors including farm produce, garment, telephone, electric equipment, wood, plastics, confectionery and footwear.

They were selected based on the ministry’s standards on export turnover, international prestige, fulfillment to tax and customs duties, and environmental protection.

Notably, the ministry has given priority in choosing sectors in which the country has encouraged exports as well as those facing difficulties in finding export markets.

The vote aimed to recognise exporters’ positive contributions to the country’s export growth while giving them support in seeking markets.

It also aimed to encourage Vietnamese exporters to further improve their image towards international integration with the world economy.

The voted exporters would be permitted to advertise their products for free on the ministry’s website, newspapers and magazines.

Last year, 225 exporters were named in the list for 2018.

Overseas shipments earned the country US$263.45 billion in 2019, up 8.1% year-on-year and higher than the target set by the National Assembly and the government of 7-8%. 

Ho Chi Minh City seeks to attract huge US investment

The Ho Chi Minh City administration, the US Consulate General and the American Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam (Amcham), co-hosted a forum on August 25 to attract greater US investment into the city.

The forum is designed to outline specific cooperation orientations between Ho Chi Minh City and the US for the 2020 to 2025 period, with a further vision towards 2030. It seeks to increase US investment in the southern city’s supply chain of science and technology services, whilst promoting innovation and creativity. One of the key aims is to develop the southern metropolis into a smart city and an international financial hub, alongside an innovative and interactive urban area to take shape in the Eastern part in the future. 

Speaking at the event, Ho Chi Minh City Party Secretary Nguyen Thien Nhan detailed how both Vietnam and the US have put aside the past and decided to join hands in order to establish a present-day partnership. Over the past 25 years since diplomatic normalisation, he said bilateral relations have enjoyed substantial development and have gone on to achieve impressive results.

“Vietnam is the 13th largest trading partner of the US, with two-way trade turnover reaching US$77 billion last year. The first six months of this year alone saw bilateral trade hit US$38 billion, an increase of 7% over the same period last year,” Nhan said.

With a favourable geographical position, modern infrastructure, and attractive financial incentives, the southern city serves as an ideal investment destination for businesses from various countries globally, including the US, France, and Italy. Most notably, more than 160 US businesses have invested in the city over the past 10 years, bringing in US$64 billion in export value. 

In line with this, Nhan singled out Intel Products Vietnam for their successful operations in the city, explaining that since 2010 it has funneled a sum of US$1 billion into its production line in the locality, and its total export value has exceeded US$36 billion.

He therefore expressed the city’s commitment to creating the best possible conditions for US businesses to operate in an efficient manner in the locality and therefore bring about mutual benefit for both sides.

The forum is expected to see delegates discuss investment strategies for high-tech supply chains and financial technology development, while also exploring investment co-operation partnerships for projects to build an innovative and interactive urban area in the East, a smart city, and an international financial hub.

As the country’s most dynamic and largest economic centres that makes up 25% of GDP and 30% of the national budget revenue, the city is home to the Quang Trung software park, the most successful IT model nationwide, an area that now employs 10,000 staff and earns US$500 million from software exports annually.

The municipal administration has developed a project to build an innovative and interactive urban area in the East of the city that covers an area of 210 square kilometres. The new urban area is expected to emerge as the third largest economic centre, behind only Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi.

Experts believe CPI in 2020 will be kept under control

Despite the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Vietnam’s inflation for 2020 is projected to fall between 3.5-3.9% to ensure social security and stabilise local people's lives, experts say.

The prediction has been made by the General Statistics Office (GSO) that believes that curbing the consumer price index (CPI) below 4% for the year is feasible.

Statistics show the country’s CPI growth has slowed down despite enjoying a slight increase in recent months due to rising petrol prices, prompting the seven-month CPI to increase by 4.07% on-year.

Insiders believe that drastic measures are needed to rein in inflation at below 4% as planned in an effort to ensure social security and stabilise people’s lives amid the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Most notably, prices of major products such as food, fruit and vegetables, especially pork, have been among the key factors that have seen the CPI increase since July, all of which have experienced a downward trend due to rising supply sources. 

However, petrol prices remain unpredictable as they are largely dependent on the global market. In addition, an increasing demand for learning materials ahead of the new academic year in September and consumer goods in the remaining months of the year shoulder the burden on the economy.

Still, the accelerated disbursement of public investment capital will certainly affect market prices in the second half of the year.

Nguyen Duc Do, deputy director of the Institute of Economics and Finance under the Ministry of Finance, predicts that demand for fuel is expected not to witness any sharp increases in the future, even in countries where the COVID-19 pandemic has been brought under control.

The price of crude oil is anticipated to hover around the US$40 per barrel mark and is unlikely to push up the CPI suddenly, Do analyses.

Nguyen Bich Lam, former GSO general director, points out this year’s CPI will remain under control as pork prices are anticipated not to rise further thanks to a sufficient supply, while petrol prices have already been affected by the impact of COVID-19.

Economist Ngo Tri Long proposes a number of synchronous and flexible solutions aimed at dealing with unpredictable and complicated developments in the global market, including the effective use of the petrol price stabilisation fund.

Incumbent GSO director Nguyen Thi Huong notes that a slowdown in the CPI is a positive signal that supports the government’s inflation controlling efforts, given the fact nearly 31 million employees have fallen victim to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It is difficult for the economy to suffer a deep CPI shock as the demand of the society is not so high, the exchange rate between VND and foreign currencies is quite stable, and the income of the majority of employees is still limited,” says Huong.

The government has requested the Ministry of Finance and the State Bank of Vietnam to deploy a flexible fiscal and monetary policy in a bid to ensure macro stability, with a specific priority being given to curbing inflation and removing business hurdles, speeding up the disbursement of public investment capital, and accelerating future economic growth.

The government has also assigned the Ministry of Planning and Investment to draft the second relief package to iron out business snags and ensure social security.

Intel Vietnam mulling to increase investment in Ho Chi Minh City

US-backed Intel Vietnam is mulling to inject more capital into its operations in Ho Chi Minh City to follow up on its $1 billion investment in the city.

This was revealed by Kim Huat Ooi, general manager of Intel Products Vietnam at Ho Chi Minh City at the US Business Summit titled Driving Partnership and Innovation for the Future held in the city this morning (August 25).

He lauded Vietnam's investment climate which has improved tremendously over the past years. In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, Vietnam has taken quick action with strong policies to control the pandemic. As a result, Intel can maintain stable operations during the crisis. In the first half of 2020, Intel saw its output increase 30 per cent, contributing three-fourth of its total global output. 

Intel has invested $1 billion in Vietnam and is looking to increase this in the coming years. The export revenue of Intel in Vietnam has reached $3.6 billion. With the new investment in Ho Chi Minh City in the coming time, the figure is expected to increase significantly. Intel will also use the fresh capital to develop local middle and senior leaders for the Vietnamese factory, according to Intel Vietnam's general director.

Intel's chip factory in Saigon High-Tech Park is its largest chip assembly and test plant in the world. In March alone, the factory produced 2 billion units, including semiconductor chips and processing chips used in computers and other devices. The factory produces 25 chips every second.

Intel Corporation first announced a $300 million investment for an assembly and test plant in Vietnam in 2006. The firm’s total registered investment was raised to $1 billion nearly a year later. The plant went into operation in 2010. VIR

Work starts on construction of seaport complex in Ninh Thuan

A ground-breaking ceremony was held on August 25 for the first phase of Ca Na Seaport Complex project in Thuan Nam district of the south central province of Ninh Thuan.

The project of Trung Nam Group, with is hoped to boost economic development in the southern part of Ninh Thuan.

The first phase, with investment of more than 1.46 trillion VND (63.01 million USD), comprises two wharves capable of receiving ships of 70,000 - 100,000 DWT, and another one for ships of 20,000 DWT, along with storage facilities and logistical infrastructure.

The design throughput for the first phase is 3.3 million tonnes of goods per year, with the application of smart technology.

The project is expected to be put into operation by August 2026, said Chairman of the board of directors of the Trung Nam Construction Investment Corporation Nguyen Tam Thinh.

Once operational, the port will create favourable conditions for existing industrial parks and clusters in Ninh Thuan, as well as the south central region and Central Highlands.

It is also hoped to facilitate the transportation of equipment for on-going renewable energy projects in the province.

On the occasion, Trung Nam Group presented more than 7.7 billion VND to help Thuan Nam district improve its infrastructure and welfare facilities.

The group has put into operation eight renewable energy plants with a combined capacity of over 600 MW, and is set to launch a 450-MW solar power project in Ninh Thuan this year.

Vietnam needs to improve post-harvest technologies

Vietnam needs to invest more in post-harvesting technologies to improve the competitiveness of its farm produce, including fruits and vegetables, in the global market, experts have said.

Poor harvesting and preservation technologies result in a decline in their value, and with the growing competition, the country needs to invest heavily in processing of fruits and other farm produce to hold its own in export markets.

According to Ho Thi Thu Hoa, head of the Vietnam Logistics Research and Development Institute, only 0.3 percent of agricultural products in Vietnam benefit from the use of cold chain logistics technologies compared to 3 percent in Germany, 2.6 percent in England and 1 percent in the US.

Post-harvest losses in Vietnam are significant at around 25 percent farm since the country has little in the way of post-harvest technologies and machinery.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, Vietnam loses 10 percent of its rice output, 10-20 percent of root and tuber crops and 10-30 percent of fruits and vegetables.

In the Mekong Delta, a major rice bowl, post-harvest rice losses are worth more than 3 trillion VND (132 million USD) a year, or 10-12 percent of total output.

"Packaging farm products plays a very important role in preserving them after harvest, but Vietnamese businesses are not paying attention to that," Hoa said.

Some 70 percent of fruit and vegetable exports have been to China, mostly in fresh and unprocessed form.

Little went to the Republic of Korea, Japan, the US, or the EU because of Vietnam’s limitations with regard to storage and post-harvest processing, experts said.

The country’s seafood faces similar issues, particularly with ocean tuna. Japan is a big market for this fish and willing to pay high prices for it. A number of Japanese experts have attempted to assist Vietnamese fishermen in post-harvest processing, but there has been little progress so far.

Le Duy Hiep, Chairman of the Vietnam Logistics Business Association (VLA), said to reduce post-harvest losses it was necessary to make further investments in agriculture, the Government needed to offer incentives to encourage farmers apply high-technology to reduce losses after harvest.

Nguyen Thi Thanh Thuc, chairwoman and director of Bagico Company, said to preserve produce, factors that affect quality must be tackled directly such as vegetables being desiccated before packing.

The country exports its agricultural products to 120 countries and territories, with key products being rice, coffee, pepper, and seafood.

However, in large and fastidious markets like the EU, the US, Japan, and Australia, many of its exports have been refused entry due to microbial infections and residues of veterinary drugs and heavy metals.

HCM City to invest in agri-food safety plan

More than 840 billion VND (36.5 million USD) is needed to ensure food safety in Ho Chi Minh City’s agricultural sector in the 2021-2026 period.

The municipal People’s Committee has proposed the food safety plan to the Ministry of Planning and Investment and the Ministry of Finance.

Under the plan, the food safety management system and infrastructure would be improved, helping to reduce food poisoning cases, disease and pollution. It would also help increase quality and yield in sustainable food value chains to reach export targets.

The plan will be conducted in urban and suburban districts such as Cu Chi, Binh Chanh, Hoc Mon, Nha Be and Can Gio districts.

Of the total investment, nearly 30 million USD is sourced from ODA loans, while the remainder comes from the city budget.

The plan comprises three major components. The first is improving infrastructure for the development of safe agri-food value chains. The second is building capacity and institutional improvement of agri-food safety management. Plan management is the third component.

The city’s food safety management is undertaken by its Food Safety Management Board and Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The Interdisciplinary Steering Committee on Food Hygiene and Safety operates at all levels from communes and wards to districts and the city.

Over the years, the city has promoted effective management of production and consumption chains of agricultural products, with traceability and geographical indications to ensure food hygiene and safety for consumers.

However, the production scale remains small, and products, mostly raw ones, are only preliminary processed.

The number of enterprises investing in agricultural production still accounts for a low rate. In addition, wholesale markets associated with concentrated production areas have not developed in a coordinated way.

UK businesses seek cooperation opportunities in Vietnam

As many as 50 UK businesses joined an online meeting to get updates on socio-economic situation in Vietnam as well as developments in the Vietnam-UK relations, and seek opportunities to cooperate with Vietnamese partners in the future.

At the meeting, held by the Vietnam-UK Network, Vietnamese Ambassador to the UK Tran Ngoc An briefed participants on the COVID-19 pandemic fight in Vietnam.

He said that initial success in the fight has helped Vietnam minimise the pandemic’s negative impacts and maintain business and production activities, enabling the country to attract more investment.

The ambassador held that although the pandemic has ravaged the world over the past eight months and affected many plans of activities, Vietnam and the UK have maintained close coordination with each other.

 

Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh and UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab had a phone call in Mid-July, during which Raab thanked the Vietnamese side for curing British COVID-19 patients and presenting face masks to UK hospitals and social organisations.

Raab affirmed that Vietnam is an important partner in the UK’s foreign policy for Asia-Pacific and Southeast Asia, while showing his hope for stronger partnership between the UK and the ASEAN.

Minh affirmed that as the Chair of the ASEAN in 2020, Vietnam will support partners, including the UK, to bolster collaboration with the grouping.

Regarding the Vietnamese economic situation, An said that The Economist magazine listed Vietnam among five economies with highest economic growth in the world in 2018, 2019 and 2020. Meanwhile, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) estimated Vietnam’s GDP growth at 4.8 percent in 2020 and 6.8 percent in 2021, the fastest expansion in Southeast Asia and the world.

Vietnam’s GDP growth in the first six months of 2020 reached 1.81 percent, led by the strong performance of major sectors such as industry, production and processing, he said, expressing his belief that the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement, which took effect on August 1, 2020, will open up plenty of chances for Vietnam and UK firms.

At the meeting, some businesses held that Vietnam’s small enterprises should apply digital technology for higher efficiency. They also discussed measures to increase the number of Vietnamese tourists to the UK.

Vice Chairman of the Vietnam-UK Network Paul Smith presented a survey showing that UK businesses are interested in Vietnamese sectors of food and beverage, pharmaceuticals, education, health care, finance, banking, financial technology, tourism, artificial intelligence, environmental protection and renewable energy.

Vietnam Renewable Energy Week 2020 underway

The Vietnam Renewable Energy Week 2020 was launched in Hanoi on August 25 by the Vietnam Sustainable Energy Alliance, the Vietnam Climate Action Alliance, and the Vietnam Union of Science and Technology Associations.

This fifth holding, “Breakthrough to Recovery and Green Development for a Peaceful Life”, aims to put forward measures promoting sustainable energy development, ensuring energy security, removing barriers, and bolstering green economy recovery and growth.

The four-day event will also offer the chance for stakeholders to contribute to the country’s energy transition in an effective and sustainable manner.

Cecile Leroy from the Delegation to the European Union in Vietnam said the EU has signed numerous cooperation agreements with Vietnamese ministries and sectors in sustainable energy transition.

It has also provided its Vietnamese partners with assistance in energy development policies and in raising capacity, awareness, and energy access among the public.

The EU stands ready to share knowledge in projects, finance, and the legal framework for green recovery and development, she said.

Symposiums are to be held, including those on rooftop solar energy development and energy transition via solar power solutions and agriculture, among others.

The combined power capacity generated by operational renewable energy projects nationwide has to date reached nearly 6,000 MW, of which 31,000 rooftop solar projects generate about 700 MWp.

Renewable energy currently accounts for 10 percent of the national grid’s total capacity and Vietnam has emerged as a leader in the development of renewable energy resources in Southeast Asia./.

Foreign capital pouring into pharmaceuticals

Merger and acquisition (M&A) activities between domestic and foreign pharmaceutical companies are being seen in both production and distribution.

Most recently, Japan’s Aska Pharmaceutical signed an agreement to acquire a 24.9 percent stake in Vietnamese pharmaceutical company Hataphar, formally the Ha Tay Pharmaceutical JSC.

Other major names in global pharmaceuticals are present in Vietnam, including the Abbott Group from the US and the Adamed Group from Poland.

In the context of COVID-19, pharmaceutical companies are expected to enjoy substantial benefits and breakthroughs into the future.

The greatest challenge at the moment is that 80-90 percent of raw materials are imported, primarily from China and India. In the first two months of this year, when the pandemic first broke out, material imports from the two countries fell 30 percent and 25.8 percent, respectively, to 27.2 million USD and 9.4 million USD.

Market researchers IBM said the size of Vietnam’s pharmaceutical industry could reach 7.7 billion USD in 2021 and 16.1 billion USD in 2026, while researchers IMS Health forecast that per capita spending on pharmaceuticals in the country would rise to 50 USD this year./.

MoIT to verify information related to probe on imported H-beams

The Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) will verify information provided by concerned parties before issuing a conclusion about an investigation into anti-dumping measures on steel H-beams imported from Malaysia.

It is set to organise public consultations for relevant parties to exchange views and update information on the issue.

Organisations and individuals involved with products under investigation are urged to register as relevant parties and to send the necessary information to the ministry in order to ensure their rights and benefits.

The MoIT decided to launch an anti-dumping investigation on August 24 into a number of H-beams originating from Malaysia.

It was initiated based on documents submitted by Vietnamese steel manufacturers in November 2019, which stated that H-beams from Malaysia were being dumped in Vietnam and causing major losses in the domestic industry.

Over 17,000 tonnes of H-beams were imported during the investigation period and close to 65,000 tonnes in the year prior.

If necessary, the ministry may impose temporary anti-dumping duties based on initial investigations, to prevent further losses in the local steel sector./.

US helps HCM City develop smart city operations centre

Ho Chi Minh City's Department of Information and Communications on August 25 signed an agreement with the US Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) on technical assistance for the building of a smart city operations centre.

The signing took place within the “Ho Chi Minh City - US Business Summit: Driving Partnerships and Innovation for the Future”, co-held by the municipal People’s Committee, the US Consulate General, and the American Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam (AmCham), HCM City Chapter.

The smart city operations centre is among four pillars in a master plan to transform Vietnam’s southern economic hub into a smart city in the 2017-2020 period and vision towards 2025.

It is the centre of control, or the “brain”, of a smart city, collecting and analysing real-time data and information to help decision-makers govern, plan, and shape the future development of HCM City.

The project on technical assistance for the building of the smart city will be carried out by US-based Winbourne Consulting.

It has total investment of more than 1.4 million USD, close to 1.2 million USD of which will be provided by the USTDA in the form of non-refundable aid, while the remainder will come from Winbourne Consulting, according to the agreement.

HCM City boasts opportunities for US partners: Municipal leader

Ho Chi Minh City is a promising destination for US partners thanks to its strengths in many fields, Secretary of the city’s Party Committee Nguyen Thien Nhan told the opening of the Ho Chi Minh City-US Business Summit held online on August 25.

Nhan noted that the 10-million-strong city, which is Vietnam’s economic hub, has workplace productivity three-times higher than the country’s average.

It is home to Quang Trung Software City, the largest and most successful software centre in Vietnam and a large-scale high-tech park that has attracted more than 7 billion USD and over 160 enterprises with 46,000 employees, posting export revenue of more than 64 billion USD over the last 10 years, he said, adding that the city also has 54 research institutes and universities.

It also provides plenty of opportunities for investors given its infrastructure, information technology, and transport, while it is moving towards being a smart city and a renovated and dynamic hub.

He also pledged to continue working closely with US partners, considering their success as the city’s own.

Noting that Vietnam and the US have enjoyed a fruitful partnership over the course of 25 years of diplomatic relations, he said HCM City is the best at creating stronger links between Vietnam and the US thanks to its potential in investment cooperation.

Vietnam is now the 13th-largest trade partner of the US, with two-way trade reaching 77 billion USD in 2019 and 38 billion USD in the first half of 2020, he said, adding that the Intel Group has invested 1 billion USD in HCM City.

For his part, US Ambassador to Vietnam Daniel Kritenbrink noted that the relationship between the governments, localities, businesses and people of the two countries has seen major steps forward over the last 25 years.

COVID-19 has posed significant challenges for the world as a whole and has affected programmes and events planned by the two countries for 2020.

The two nations have already cooperated closely in preventing and controlling the pandemic by sharing information and experience, he said.

Lauding the development potential and investment cooperation opportunities in HCM City, the ambassador said its growth towards renovation and smart city development showed the effectiveness of cooperative ties between the US and the city.

The two sides have cooperated in seven projects in smart city development, including on setting up an urgent contact centre and developing an Intelligent Operations Center (IOC).

He said the private sector will play an important role in Vietnam-US relations and help promote economic growth in Vietnam. This summit is not only a model for public-private partnerships towards a smart city but also provides an environment for the sharing of information and the creation of win-win partnerships.

The summit comprised three discussions on investment in developing supply chains in high technology in HCM City, the development of financial technology (fintech) in Vietnam and beyond, and the exploration of cooperative opportunities between HCM City and partners in creative and interactive cities in the east, smart cities, and financial centre projects.

It drew out specific cooperation orientations between the city and the US in the 2020-2025 period with a vision to 2030 and spread a strong message of the city’s activeness in attracting new investment waves from US multinationals, especially in the post-pandemic period.

A number of cooperation deals were also signed between the city and US partners on this occasion.

ASEAN ministers review implementation of economic initiatives

Economic ministers from ASEAN member countries reviewed the implementation of economic initiatives in 2020 at a virtual meeting on August 25.

The 52nd ASEAN Economic Ministers’ Meeting (AEM-52) was chaired by Vietnamese Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh.

Delegates also looked at COVID-19 and the region’s response, including its ability to roll out a comprehensive recovery plan, and exchanged views on recommendations submitted by the special group in charge of ASEAN’s economic integration.

Preparations for dialogues with partners and regional businesses were also on the agenda.

Ministers approved documents submitted by senior ASEAN economic officials, including the ASEAN digital integration index and terms of reference on the connectivity of ASEAN innovative centres, which are among 13 priority initiatives raised by Vietnam as ASEAN Chair in 2020.

The remaining initiatives it proposed are still under consultation and are expected to be completed within the year, as scheduled.

Other matters debated included the upcoming negotiations over the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement, which is set to be signed later this year, and the implementation of the Blueprint 2025 of the ASEAN Economic Committee.

The bloc’s economic relations with partners such as China, Russia, Japan, Canada, the Republic of Korea (RoK), the US, Hong Kong (China), Australia, New Zealand, and the EU were also tabled for discussion.

Despite the complexity of the COVID-19 pandemic, Vietnam has made every effort to proceed with ASEAN meetings in order to maintain economic cooperation frameworks and promote trade, investment, connectivity, and innovation.

The country has proposed and engaged in regional initiatives to push ahead with economic recovery post-pandemic while maintaining regional and global production and supply chains./.

Deputy PM inspects runway upgrading at Noi Bai airport

Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung on August 25 required the project management and contractors to ensure the quality, progress and safety of a project on upgrading a runway of Hanoi-based Noi Bai International Airport.

During his field trip to the airport, the official stressed aviation security and safety must be maintained during the construction.

He asked relevant ministries and agencies to prioritise capital to the projects repairing runways of Noi Bai and Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City.

According to the transport ministry’s Thang Long Project Management Board that monitors the construction, 7 percent of the workload of the Noi Bai project has been completed, with 260 billion VND (11.2 million USD) disbursed.

The board has submitted a plan on speeding up the pace of the project with a view to completing the upgrade of the 3,000m runway 1B by November 30 so that it can be put into service at the end of December.

The transport ministry reported to the Deputy PM on the revision of the master plan for the airport to 2030, with a vision towards 2050, which has been conducted by a French consultation firm since June 2019.

Accordingly, Noi Bai will be a civil-military airport, reaching level 4F of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

By 2030, the airport can serve 63 million passengers and handle 2 million tonnes of cargo each year. The numbers will reach 100 million passengers and 5 million tonnes in 2050, the ministry said.

Notably, it will have three runways by 2030 and four by 2050, along with four terminals.

Deputy PM Dung noted that last year, Noi Bai welcomed 29 million passengers as compared with its designed capacity of only 25 million, and the overload would get worse in the years to come.

Dung, therefore, urged the ministry to soon complete the revised master plan to report to the government and Prime Minister before it is approved this year, and make investment proposals to the National Assembly.

Specialised zones in Phu Quoc Marine Protected Area adjusted

The Mekong Delta province of Kien Giang has adjusted zoning at the marine protected area of Phu Quoc National Park on Phu Quoc Island.

Of the more than 40,909 ha of the Phu Quoc Marine Protected Area, the strictly-protected zone covers over 7,087 ha, including some 6,658 ha for seagrass conservation in the northeast of the island and nearly 429 ha for coral conservation in the south.

The zone for ecological recovery covers more than 11,537 ha, including some 11,363 ha for seagrass ecosystem recovery in the northeast and 174.68 ha for coral ecosystem recovery in the south.

There are also 1,212 ha for seagrass and another 8,605 ha for coral in the 9,817-ha service - administrative zone.

A buffer zone of about 12,467 ha has also been set up to minimise the impact of socio-economic activities on seagrass and coral conservation.

To promote conservation and tap into the potential the Phu Quoc Marine Protected Area holds, Kien Giang authorities are perfecting cooperative models between the Phu Quoc National Park and related parties, with consideration given to the application of new technologies to recover ecosystems and resources and creating new livelihoods for local people.

Authorities are also stepping up communications to raise public awareness, developing aquatic breeding facilities, strictly managing fishing activities, and boosting environmental monitoring./.

ASEAN, UK hold online economic dialogue

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the UK held an online economic dialogue on August 26 as part of the 52nd meeting of the ASEAN Economic Ministers (AEM-52), under the coordination of Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh and British Secretary of State for International Trade Elizabeth Truss.

The two sides expressed their concerns over the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their economic growth and development.

They pledged to join hands to maintain and further deepen the bilateral economic partnership, mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the economy, and continue pursuing open and transparent economic policies.

The two sides recognised their bilateral long-standing relations. Two-way trade reached approximately 42 trillion pounds (53.7 billion USD) over the past half century.

They agreed to push ahead with cooperation and support trade liberisation based on the multilateral trade system of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

On the basis of the Hanoi action plan strengthening ASEAN economic cooperation and promoting supply chains to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, the two sides agreed to strengthen supply chains during and after the pandemic. as well as future cooperation orientations to support these chains.

ASEAN and UK also look to enhance collaboration in digital innovation to revive the economy post-pandemic, prioritising small- and medium-sized enterprises and household businesses.

The UK side emphasized that the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity to 2025 is the basis for the bloc to propose bilateral cooperation plans.

The UK has set up a fund for ASEAN’s economic reform programme worth 19 million pounds, focusing on digital innovation, logistics, and policy mechanism reforms.

Vietnamese, Chinese localities work to boost ties in border gate-related issues

Officials from Vietnam’s northern border province of Cao Bang and Baise city of China’s Guangxi province had talks on August 26 to discuss cooperation in border gates’ activities.

The Cao Bang delegation was led by Vice Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Le Hai Hoa while the Baise side by Vice Mayor of the city Shi Guohuai.

On March 22, 2019, the People’s Government of the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and the Cao Bang People’s Committee signed the minutes of their discussion, in which they agreed to upgrade the pair of Vietnam’s Tra Linh and China’s Longbang into international border gates and open the Na Doong – Na Ray border crossing on the basis of mutual benefit and common development.

After discussing cooperation in border gate-related issues, Cao Bang and Baise officials signed the talks’ minutes.

Accordingly, the Chinese side will propose its higher-level competent agencies soon complete internal procedures and send replies to the Vietnamese Foreign Ministry and Cao Bang’s administration about the upgrade of Tra Vinh – Longbang border gates. The two sides will also propose relevant agencies allow the temporary opening of the Na Doong – Na Ray border crossing.

Regarding the opening of the Dinh Phong – Xinxing border crossing, the officials agreed to promote related procedures and assign their district-level authorities to propose the opening of this crossing so as to facilitate the exchange of goods between their border residents.

Cao Bang and Baise also concurred in establishing a mechanism for meetings to serve management of border gates, building plans to create the best business environment in border gate areas, and facilitating customs clearance procedures.

Ministers meet to promote RCEP signing by year’s end

The 8th Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Ministerial Meeting was held online on August 27 under the chair of Vietnamese Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh.

The event, attended by economic ministers of 15 member countries, aimed to promote talks on the RCEP towards the signing of this agreement in late 2020 as ordered by RCEP leaders.

In his opening remarks, Minister Anh highly valued efforts by negotiators since the year’s beginning, noting that in-depth meetings and discussions have still taken place on schedule despite the prolonged COVID-19 outbreak.

Participating officials acknowledged that the pandemic’s negative impact has generated many considerable challenges to trade and investment flows in the region, including the countries participating in the RCEP talks.

They highlighted the need for the members to ensure that their markets remain open, especially to essential goods and services, and to continue enhancing cooperation to effectively respond to COVID-19.

The ministers emphasised the special significance of the RCEP agreement amid economic uncertainties caused by the pandemic, believing that the deal signing will provide a basis for strengthening the business community’s confidence, making the regional economic architecture more sustainable, and showing the region’s support for an open, comprehensive and rules-based multilateral trading system.

At the meeting, they also stressed the RCEP’s role in post-pandemic economic recovery, which will greatly help with stable growth of the global and regional economies.

Participants also recognised efforts and strides in the RCEP negotiations to date so that the deal can be inked at the RCEP Summit this November.

In particular, they re-affirmed that the RCEP negotiations remain open to India, saying this country engaged in negotiations since the launch in 2012, and it holds potential for contributing to common prosperity of the region.

The RCEP is a free trade agreement among the 10 member states of ASEAN and its five partners, namely Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand, and the Republic of Korea. India withdrew from the talks in November 2019./. 

Petrol prices see slight increase amid decline in oil prices

The Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Ministry of Finance has revised the price of petrol to give it a slight increase, while oil products, with the exception of mazut, witnessed a decrease as of 3 p.m. August 27.

The retail price of petrol RON 95 rose by VND190 to VND15,114 per litre, while the price of bio-fuel E5 RON 92 remained unchanged at VND14,409 per litre. 

In contrast, oil prices experienced a downward trajectory, with diesel and kerosene declining by VND240 and VND82 per litre, respectively. In addition, mazut maintained the highest price at VND11,183 per kilogram, the same rate as 15 days previously.

Along with the latest adjustments to petrol prices, the ministries have also moved to increase expenditure for the petrol price stabilisation fund by VND363 per litre for E5 RON 92, VND670 for RON 95, and VND453 per kilogram of mazut.

The latest price changes have occurred after the two ministries reviewed fuel prices every 15 days in order to make adjustments to domestic prices to match global fluctuations.

Source: VNA/VNN/VNS/VIR/VOV/SGT/NDO/Dtinews

 
 

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