Israeli businesses keen to import medical supplies from Vietnam


Numerous Israeli enterprises have shown an interest in importing consumer products and medical supplies, with a particular demand for face masks and medical protective equipment, from Vietnam in order to meet needs among domestic consumers amid market fluctuations and challenges caused by political instability and the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the Vietnam Trade Office in Israel, May alone saw the two-way trade turnover between both nations reach US$136.15 million, with Vietnamese exports to Israel gradually recovering and imports from this market enjoying a slight increase from the previous month due to the impact of social changes and the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The first five months of the year saw bilateral trade between the two countries hit US$649.4 million, with Vietnamese exports to Israel falling by 17.9% and imports from the Middle Eastern nation rising to 419.3% over the same period from a year earlier.

These growing levels of import turnover can largely be put down to the country importing computers, electronic products, and components from Israel at a great value, thereby raising the nation’s trade deficit to US$101.4 million during the reviewed period.

Most notably, Vietnamese tuna exports to Israel during the opening five months of the year hit US$11.09 million, accounting for 4.6% of the country's total export turnover for the commodity. At present, Israel represents one of the top 10 tuna import markets for the Southeast Asian nation.

Moreover, Israel is ranked ninth among the top 10 leading Vietnamese squid import markets, positioned behind Japan, the Republic of Korea, Thailand, China, Hong Kong (China), Italy, Malaysia, the Philippines, and the United States, whilst placed ahead of Taiwan (China).

Currently, there is interest among Israeli businesses for goods such as pangasius (Tra fish) fillets, canned food, in addition to garments and textiles, with many firms partnering with their Vietnamese counterparts to continue boosting the export of these items to Israel in the near future.

Furthermore, in the context of complicated developments relating to the COVID-19 pandemic, Israeli enterprises have a desire to sign a number of orders with local firms to boost the flow of items such as medical masks, medical gloves, and medical protective clothing to the Middle Eastern nation.

Meanwhile, a number of Israeli organisations and businesses have expressed a keen interest in co-operating alongside Vietnamese partners in areas such as start-up activities, scientific and technological applications, and technical solutions in a bid to increase production activities and shift investment and production chains to Vietnam.

Da Nang promoting roof-top solar power development

The Da Nang Power Company has paid more than 300,000 USD to purchase roof-top solar power from households and businesses in the city. Thanks to support policies and the economic efficiency of rooftop solar, many households in the city have become involved in the market.  

In order to encourage people to install rooftop solar power systems, the Da Nang Power Company has introduced a range of support policies, such as free installation of two-way meters and simple buying and selling procedures.

Since the beginning of this year there have been 410 new rooftop solar installations in the city, bringing the total to 1,399 with total installed capacity of more than 12,000 kWp (kilowatt pit).

Rooftop solar power not only brings economic benefits to local people and investors, it also addresses future power shortages.

The cost of installing roof-top solar power is getting cheaper all the time, with equipment boasting greater durability and productivity. People can reclaim their initial investment after about five years. The Da Nang Power Company is also upgrading software and applications so that people can control the amount of solar power generated daily, so they can calculate the expected volume that will be sold./.

Vietnam exports nearly 3.5 million tonnes of rice in six months

Vietnam exported 409,000 tonnes of rice worth US$207 million in June, increasing the overall six-month export volume and value to nearly 3.5 million tonnes and US$1.71 billion, respectively, according to figures released by the Agro Processing and Market Development Authority (Agrotrade).

The latest statistics represent a rise of 4.4% in volume and up 17.9% in value in comparison with the same period last year, according to the Agrotrade under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. 

The opening five months of the year saw the Philippines top the list of consumers of Vietnamese rice, purchasing 1.3 million tonnes for US$598.6 million, annual increases of 23% in volume and over 42% in value.

Moreover, strong growth was also recorded in other markets such as Senegal, with an 18.3-fold increase, Indonesia, up 2.9 times, and China, with a 2.3-fold rise. Indeed, the average export price of rice during the five-month period stood at US$485 per tonne, a rise of 13% on-year.

The Philippines retained its leading position as the prime consumer of Vietnamese white rice, accounting for 63.6%, followed by Malaysia with 12.6%, and Ghana with 2.9%.

In relation to the global market, Thailand’s rice export price in June saw a slight increase compared to May, causing Thai rice to become less competitive when compared to other major exporters such as India and Vietnam.

According to the Agrotrade, there are plenty of bright prospects for Vietnamese rice exports ahead once the impending European Union-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) comes into force in August this year

In line with the commitments set out within the EVFTA, the EU will give the country a quota of 80,000 tonnes of rice per year, with the tax rate for rice being slashed to 0% over the course of the next three to five years following the reduction roadmap.

Dialogue discusses innovative pharmaceutical potentials in Viet Nam

Việt Nam’s innovative pharmaceutical industry has the potential to create value for the nation. Despite the challenges of the regulatory environment, there are many opportunities offered by Việt Nam’s resources and workforce, participants heard at a dialogue in Hà Nội on Tuesday.  

The event, entitled “Unlocking world-class healthcare in Việt Nam: The time is now” was jointly organised by KPMG Vietnam in collaboration with Pharma Group with the participation of representatives from the ministries, embassies, companies from start-ups to multinationals in Việt Nam.

At the multi-stakeholder dialogue, experts discussed opportunities to realise the full potential of the healthcare sector in Việt Nam, especially how to shape an enabling, predictable long-term business environment that in turn improves patient access and fully yields the value that an innovative pharmaceutical industry can bring.

Addressing short-term challenges in key legislation, such as issues relating to Certificate of Pharmaceutical Product, Marketing Authorisation extension in the Circular guiding Drug Registration (Circular 32) and ensuring execution of existing regulations such as Price Negotiation mechanism for brand name medicines as regulated in Tender Circular (Circular 15), will ensure opportunities are unlocked as fast as possible.

Also at the event, KPMG Vietnam launched its latest Report on Value of Innovation which examined the current and potential benefits that the innovative pharmaceutical industry could bring to Việt Nam.

The report said that the Government of Việt Nam should consider implementing targeted policies and reforms in a wide variety of areas, from investment incentives and legislation to education and training. Thus, the Government of Việt Nam is well-positioned to promote growth in the economy through targeted and informed policies, and collaboration with industry stakeholders. These factors will be crucial in developing a dynamic and vibrant future for both the industry and the nation as a whole.

The report also suggested key policies for Việt Nam in the coming years, including continuing to prioritise the pharmaceutical industry on a national level; establishment of a comprehensive legal and regulatory framework and dedicated support institutions; introducing incentives to drive investments into the industry; increasing emphasis on industry-focused education and training; promoting health innovation and improving health financing.

“KPMG is excited and delighted to work on this exciting report. This industry touches all of our lives. Expanded access to cutting-edge medicines and quality care, and sustainable health financing will ensure that Việt Nam meets its ambitious development goals," said Luke Treloar, Director, Strategy, National Head of Healthcare & Life Science.

According to the latest statistics of the Drug Administration of Việt Nam, as of August 2019, Việt Nam has approximately 184 local and foreign pharmaceutical manufacturers operating in the market, of which 225 manufacturing sites qualified GMP-WHO. Most of these companies produce generics for local consumption. Ninety per cent of the Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs) for these products come from imported sources, primarily China and India.

Going forward, macro conditions and expanded consumer spending power are expected to help maintain a similar level of year-on-year growth through 2040. If the Vietnamese market can maintain this growth pattern, the total industry value could reach and exceed US$34.1 billion by 2040. This value, if measured today, would rank Việt Nam as a top-25 global market. 

Organic agriculture project adopted

Deputy Prime Minister Trịnh Đình Dũng recently signed a decision approving the Organic Agriculture Development Project for 2020-30, aiming to help Việt Nam become a country with advanced organic agriculture production.

Per the project, by 2025, the area of organic agricultural land is hoped to reach about 1.5-2 per cent of total agricultural land area. The area of organic farming land will account for more than 1 per cent of land cultivated with major crops such as rice, vegetables, fruits, tea, pepper, coffee, cashew and coconut.

The percentage of organic livestock products is expected to reach about 1-2 per cent of the total domestic livestock products. Meanwhile, organic aquaculture looks set to account for about 0.5 – 1.5 per cent of the total aquaculture area.

The project also targets improving the efficiency of organic production with product value per hectare of organic cultivation and aquaculture land 1.3-1.5 times higher than that of non-organic production.

The main tasks under the project are to develop concentrated organic agricultural production regions, diversify forms of organic production, intensify technology application, develop certification organisations and increase the processing, consumption and export of organic products. 

PM reviews financial sector in first six months

Viet Nam's budget collection has seen a sharp fall during the first six months of 2020 at just 44.2 per cent of projected income, a 10.5 per cent drop compared to the same period last year, said the Ministry of Finance in an online meeting with Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc in Ha Noi on Tuesday.

Contributing factors included falling revenue from crude oil, which barely reach 60 per cent of projected income.

Budget collection from domestic firms also fell by 7 per cent. The hardest-hit came from State-owned firms which saw a drop of 21.5 per cent compared to the same period last year, followed by the private sector and FDI with 15 per cent and 6.3 per cent respectively.

This, according to the finance ministry, was an accurate reflection of the hardship faced by the economy due to the disruption caused by COVID-19.

Measures have been taken to provide firms with support. By the end of June, Viet Nam's tax authorities processed nearly 150,000 tax and land-use fee relief applications extending an amount of VND43 trillion (US$1.85 billion) in credit for firms and business households.

During the first half of 2020, the State spent over VND15.3 trillion on COVID-19 prevention activities (VND4.1 trillion) and in support for affected 11 million households (VND11.3 trillion).

Investment accounted for 33.1 per cent of total budget spending with borrowing cost and normal expenditure accounted for 50.3 per cent and 48.2 per cent respectively.

Despite experiencing setbacks, Viet Nam's stock market has yet to see any significant capital outflows. The market has remained stable and on its track to recover strongly as COVID-19 was put under control, showing investors' confidence in the country's long-term growth potential.

On administrative reform, the ministry have removed 28 procedures with 560 others have been made available online. Most firms (99.6 per cent) have started to use electronic tax forms.

Speaking at the meeting, PM Phuc said the ministry must stay proactive in their approaches to balance the State's budget while, at the same time, create momentum for the economy to recover and achieve sustainable growth.

"We must stand behind and support new business models, new materials, new energies and new drives for economic growth," said he.

The leader ordered government agencies to increase effort to improve transparency, reduce risk and combat illegal economic activities and violations. He insisted on the importance of keeping inflation under 4 per cent this year, in line with a recent National Assembly's decision.

In addition, the PM urged the finance ministry to help speed up the disbursement of public investment capital, saying the country's objective was to spend up to $30 billion in 2020.

He asked the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Planning and Investment to hold regular meetings to identify bottlenecks and difficulties in the disbursement process. He also called for the forming of central government task forces to inspect slow-moving projects across the country under the direct supervision of the ministers. Localities and ministries failed to keep up the pace by August will risk losing their investment to others. 

Tea businesses need restructuring to add value

The Government should build corporations with financial resources to help the domestic tea industry add value, branding and sales, said Chairman of Vietnam Tea Association Nguyen Huu Tai.

Tea is one of the agricultural commodities greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. In the first five months of this year, tea exports reached about 46,000 tonnes, worth about US$72 million, down more than 10 per cent in value compared to the same period in 2019.

Tai said traditional markets of Viet Nam such as Taiwan (China), Pakistan and Russia were closed. In other markets, businesses could not sign new contracts, while previously signed contracts now would require deep discounts, delays to delivery times or had been cancelled.

“The global COVID-19 pandemic has put many domestic tea producers in a tough situation as they have to choose between restructuring or leaving the industry,” Tai said.

According to the prediction of the East Africa Tea Trade Association, world tea prices will fall in the near future, while restrictions on shipping of goods will reduce demand for tea in many countries. This will cause difficulties for the export of Vietnamese tea.

Long Dinh Joint Stock Company in the Tay Nguyen (Central Highland) province of Lam Dong has 50 hectares of high-quality tea certified for export. Each year, more than 90 per cent of the company's products are exported to Taiwan as raw materials at low prices.

Tran Phuong Uyen, the company’s Deputy Director, told that the company’s export volume of raw tea decreased by 30 per cent in March compared to previous months.

“To make a change, we are stepping up the restructuring of markets, targeting more premium products through the production of organic tea (True Organic) for domestic consumption,” Uyen said.

Uyen said her company was producing 10 hectares of True Organic with production certificate of the US Department of Agriculture. “However, with high cost, promoting organic tea consumption in the country is a big problem, for which Long Dinh has to find a solution.”

She said the company had so far sold three tonnes of finished organic tea. It currently suffers losses but still maintains its product prices so that consumers gradually get used to organic products.

About 90 per cent of domestic tea consumption comes from small establishments with unstable quality. Vietnamese tea businesses have created brands, such as Cozy, Phuc Long, Cau Tre, Cau Dat and Vinatea. Although there have been many more attractive product lines, Vietnamese tea businesses are still struggling to find ways to bring products to consumers.

Chairman Tai said the Government’s policies had only focused on tea production development rather than consumption, so many producers had sold raw tea to businesses, and were not interested in selling directly to customers.

“Meanwhile, it is not easy for Vietnamese businesses because the cost to open a tea distribution network is three times higher than that of a production factory,” Tai said.

Tea production in Viet Nam has returned to normal, so output will not be affected by the pandemic. The major tea exporting countries such as India, Kenya and Sri Lanka are still in the stage of disease control, so their harvesting and cultivation activities are restricted, affecting tea production.

Insiders have said that the coronavirus pandemic is an opportunity for many tea companies to change and improve product value instead of chasing output. Most Vietnamese tea has been exported as raw materials, which are then processed and packaged for consumption in the local market or exported to a third country. Vietnamese tea only accounts for about 5-20 per cent of the finished product value, while brands usually account for 40-60 per cent. This is why Viet Nam is among the countries with the lowest tea export prices in the world.

Domestic enterprises need to focus on investment in improving quality, raising export prices, and especially increasing price for tea growers to help them improve living standards. 

Da Nang enjoys effective cooperation with US

Over the past 25 years, the central city of Da Nang has worked hard to contribute to the Vietnam-US cooperation through various joint projects, one of which was the dioxin detoxification in Da Nang airport.

According to Vice Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee Ho Ky Minh, the Prime Minister in 2012 approved a national plan of action to address the consequences of toxic chemicals used by the US during the war in Vietnam to 2015 and orientations to 2020. One of the tasks set by the national plan was to detoxify dioxin-polluted soil and sludge in Da Nang airport.

The project on dioxin detoxification in Da Nang airport was conducted by the People’s Air Defence-Air Force with the sponsorship of the US Agency of International Development (USAID, with the goal of treating and isolating dioxin-contaminated sludge to eliminate dioxin exposure risk in the surrounding community, while enhancing Vietnam’s capacity in implementing environmental pollution assessment and treatment activities.

It covered an area of 18.3 hectares with 72,900 cu.m of sludge needing treating. In 2016, the total volume of sludge and soil subjected for detoxification increased to 150,000 cu.m.

Capital for the project came from non-refundable ODA of the US Government through the USAID.

During its implementation from 2012 to 2018, the People’s Committee of Da Nang directed sectors and localities to coordinate with and create favourable conditions for the project, said Minh.

He said that in 2014, the city proposed the project side and relevant agencies to organise training courses on work safety for workers and management officials to avoid risk of exposure to dioxin. Da Nang also sent officials to join the courses.

According to a report from the Air Defence - Air Force, 162,567 cu.m of dioxin contaminated sludge and soil were cleaned, returning about 29 hectares of area for social-economic activities. Dioxin exposure risk for human and environment was minimised. The success of the project helped erase Da Nang airport, which is a former US air base, out of the dioxin hot spot list. Work safety was ensured throughout the implementation of the project and no incident was recorded.

Minh said that the completion of the project gave more area for the expansion of Da Nang International Airport, with the building of T2 Terminal, to raise the airport’s capacity to 6 million passengers per year and 1,600 passengers per hour in peak time.

Under the airport’s planning, the terminal is expected to serve over 2.3 million passengers in 2022, 4 million in 2025 and 6 million in 2030.

Regarding the cooperation in other fields between Da Nang and US businesses and organisations so far, Minh said that as of May 31, Da Nang had hosted 68 projects invested by US businesses with total investment of 590 million USD.

According to Minh, revenue in the US market accounted for 20.5 percent of the total export value of the city. Major products shipped to the US included garment and textile, fisheries, children’s toys, fishing rods, candles, furniture, handicrafts, automobile spare parts, and electricity engines.

Meanwhile, imports from the US made up about 5 percent of the city’s total, mostly for equipment, transport vehicles, pharmaceuticals, materials for fishing rod production and for garment and textile sector, and plastics.

Currently, more than 20 local enterprises in Da Nang have traded with US peers, said Minh.

He noted that in the coming time, Vietnamese and US enterprises will seek partnership in tourism, development of supply chain and human resources, ports and logistics, urban public transportation, information and communication technology and smart city, health care, education and training.

The Da Nang government will create optimal conditions for investors, Minh said, adding that the city will coordinate with businesses and investors to remove obstacles and difficulties facing them during the implementation of projects.

Mekong Delta firms see new orders down 80.7 percent due to COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has seriously affected businesses in the Mekong Delta region, with the number of new orders down 80.7 percent year-on-year.

The information was released on July 7 by Director of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) – Can Tho chapter Nguyen Phuong Lam at its annual members’ gathering.

Lam cited the organisation’s recent report as saying that the total revenue of regional businesses decreased by 77.8 percent, while the volume of purchased input materials dropped by 61.6 percent.

Regarding exports, only 4.6 percent of enterprises, mostly those operating in the production of medical equipment and supplies, saw increases in their orders, while 59.1 percent reported decreases.

Up to 47 percent of labourers have their jobs cut, and the figure is forecast to increase in the coming time, especially in the garment and footwear sectors, as there are no orders left.

Lam said that in the first half of 2020, the Mekong Delta’s GRDP rose by 2.08 percent – the lowest level in the past decade.

He added that 4,567 new enterprises were set up in this period, down 2.9 percent year-on-year.

Fruit, vegetable export picks up despite COVID-19

Vietnam’s exports of fruits and vegetables to major markets like the US, the Republic of Korea (RoK) and Thailand have surged despite the COVID-19 pandemic worldwide.

Exports of those products to Thailand brought home 68 million USD, up 233.4 percent; the RoK 67.4 million USD, up 21.8 percent; the US 62 million USD, up 6.1 percent; Japan 57.7 million USD, up 15.5 percent; and the Netherlands 34 million USD, up 9 percent.

However, a reduction of 29.1 percent year-on-year in exports to China in the January-May period has affected the value for the first half, which hit 1.79 billion USD, down 12.2 percent year-on-year, reported the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MoIT)’s Agro Processing and Market Development Authority (AgroTrade).

In the first five months of this year, Vietnam earned 906.1 million USD from fruit and vegetable export to China, down 29.1 percent year-on-year.

The AgroTrade said lychees contribute significantly to fruit and vegetable export in the first half of this year.

Apart from the main market of China, local exporters have shipped lychee to the US and Japan.

The Vina T&T company expects to export 50 tonnes of lychees meeting GlobalGAP standards to the US this year.  

Meanwhile, the first batch of Bac Giang lychees arrived in Japan on June 20 morning.

The MoIT’s Export and Import Department said Vietnamese bananas have become available at the Lotte supermarket system in the RoK while dragon fruits, lychees and rambutans are popular in India.

With the European Union – Vietnam Free Trade Agreement taking effect on August 1, AgroTrade Director Nguyen Quoc Toan urged the sector to overcome technical and quality barriers in order to better tap opportunities.

Malaysia reduces interest rates to record low

Malaysia's central bank on July 7 reduced its interest rates to a record low to fight the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and warned that the pace of economic recovery was uncertain.

Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) cut its key rate by 25 basis points to 1.75 percent and warned that the Malaysian economy had contracted sharply in the second quarter of 2020 because of the strict lockdown. This is the fourth consecutive time the central bank has lowered its interest rates.

The bank said in a statement that business activities have been recovering and that the
government’s stimulus packages will continue to underpin the improving economic

However, the pace and strength of the recovery remain subject to downside risks, including future outbreaks and a weaker-than-expected rebound in global growth, it added.


Southeast Asia's third-biggest economy has been largely dependent on trade, and its key exports include palm oil, crude oil and natural gas.

Most businesses were closed and people were forced to stay at home since mid-March as the outbreak accelerated, although authorities have been easing curbs since early May and life is gradually returning to normal.

The country's outbreak has been small as it has recorded about 8,600 cases and 121 deaths, but the lockdown is nevertheless believed to have cost the economy billions of dollars.

Indonesia imposes 10-percent VAT on foreign high-tech groups

Indonesia began to impose a 10-percent value-added tax on  sales by technology firms including Amazon, Netflix, Spotify and Google on July 7 in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic affecting the country’s state finances.  

In a statement, Indonesia’s tax office said it had already assigned tax identification numbers to Amazon Web Services, Netflix, Spotify and Alphabet's Google for its Google Asia Pacific, Google Ireland and Google LLC units.

Under the new rules, non-resident foreign firms that sell digital products and services in Indonesia worth at least 600 million rupiah (41,667 USD) a year or which generate yearly traffic from at least 12,000 users will be required to pay the 10-percent VAT.

The tax office spokesman Hestu Yoga Saksama said that the tax office will continue to communicate with relevant businesses abroad, and that the number of companies assigned to apply VAT for digital products will likely increase.

A Netflix spokesman said the company will comply with the new rule, while Amazon Web Services, Google, and Spotify did not immediately respond to requests for comment, according to foreign media.

Indonesia expects a 13 percent yearly drop in state revenue this year as the pandemic hits business activity. Meanwhile, the nearly 50 billion USD for the COVID-19 fight is forecast to more than triple its 2020 budget deficit.

According to a study by Google, Temasek Holdings and Bain & Company, Indonesia, the world's fourth most populous country with a population of nearly 270 million, is experiencing a boom in its digital economy which is expected to reach 130 billion USD by 2025.

Thailand’s exports forecast to drop 10 percent in 2020

Thailand’s exports are expected to drop 10 percent this year, deeper than the previous forecast of 8 percent, according to the Thai National Shippers' Council (TNSC).

The TNSC pointed to factors such as the strengthening baht and the impact of the COVID-19 on the global economy including Thailand’s trade partners and disrupted logistics systems.

The only positive factor is the increasing export of agricultural products, food and medical supplies.

According to data released on July 7, Thailand’s exports in May dropped 22.5 percent to 16.27 billion USD, while the figure for the January-May period was down 3.71 percent to 97.89 billion USD.

The central bank of Thailand (BoT) recently said the baht strength could affect an economic recovery and it would assess the necessity of implementing more steps to curb it.

The BoT predicted that Thailand’s economy would contract by a record 8.1 percent this year, while a report by Krungsri bank’s research team said the Thai GDP may shrink by as much as 10.3 percent this year.

Philippines’ inflation bounces back in June

The Philippines’ inflation picked up again in June after the country began easing months-long lockdown, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said on July 7.

During the month, the consumer price index (CPI) went up 2.5 percent year-on-year, near the upper end of the central bank’s forecast range of 1.9 percent to 2.7 percent for the month, mostly due to rising transportation costs.

Governor of the central bank Benjamin Diokno said on July 6 that consumers are tightening their purse strings, which could slow down economic activities.

Acting Secretary for Socio-economic Planning Karl Kendrick Chua said moderate inflation could help recover demand in the long term, and the central bank is likely to consider cutting interest rates in the short term.

HCM City striving to remain Vietnam’s economic locomotive

The HCM City Party Committee convened its 42nd conference on July 7, chaired by Politburo member and Secretary of the city’s Party Committee Nguyen Thien Nhan.

The two-day conference is to focus discussions on the implementation of a Resolution adopted by the fourth plenum of the 12th Party Central Committee on strengthening Party building and rectification, driving back degradation in political thought, moral virtue, and lifestyle, as well as the behaviours of “self-evolution” and “self-transformation” in internal affairs, in tandem with Party inspection and supervision work.

Participants will also give opinions on a draft report on the implementation of socio-economic development plans and State budgets for 2015-2020, orientations and tasks for 2021-2025, the five-year implementation of seven breakthrough programmes for the realisation of a Resolution adopted by the 10th HCM City Party Congress, and the socio-economic-cultural performance in the first half and key tasks for the remaining months of the year.

Secretary Nhan said the city serves as a locomotive of the national economy not only in terms of growth but also in contribution to the State budget, accounting for 26 percent during the 2001-2010 period and about 27.6 percent in 2011-2019.

Acknowledging that the city’s economic growth is slowing down, Nhan pointed out that the budget for the city’s development has fallen over the last two decades and suggested the city review its use of advanced technologies and promote the creativity of its workers.

Hi-tech parks, processing zones and industrial zones, and start-ups in the city are running quite well. The city recently built an urban innovation area in its eastern part to create a driving force for the city amid the fourth industrial revolution, and its model linking banks and businesses via State management agencies in wards and districts is performing well. 

Due to the impact of COVID-19, the city’s gross regional domestic product (GRDP) expanded by only 2 percent year-on-year in the first half, compared to 7.86 percent in the same period of 2019.

The total retail sale of goods and services was down 3.7 percent annually, while the industrial production index rose by just 1.8 percent. Total revenue to the State budget topped 163 trillion VND (7 billion USD), or 40.2 percent of the estimate, down 14.4 percent year-on-year.

Permanent Vice Chairman of the city’s People’s Committee Le Thanh Liem highlighted bright spots in its economy, with nearly 18 trillion VND of investment being disbursed, or 43.08 percent of the plan. Total retail revenue surpassed 403 trillion VND, up 10.1 percent annually, while exports rose 5.8 percent to 20.7 billion USD.

Vietnam posts five-month trade deficit with Israel

Vietnam recorded a trade deficit of 101.4 million USD with Israel in the first five months of this year due to declines in the export of key commodities and the resumed import of items of high value.

According to Vietnamese Trade Counsellor in Israel Le Thai Hoa, bilateral trade stood at 649.4 million USD during the five-month period. Vietnam’s exports were down 17.9 percent year-on-year while its imports surged 419.3 percent.

He attributed the import growth primarily to Vietnam resuming its import of commodities from Israel with high value, like computers, electronic products, and components.

Apart from textiles, garments, and coffee products, which saw shipments grow, most of Vietnam’s key exports to Israel were lower year-on-year, including aquatic products, footwear, cashew nuts, and mobile phones.

Such a situation has become common in many countries around the world, Hoa explained, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Of note, tuna exports to Israel reached 11.09 million USD during the first five months, accounting for 4.6 percent of Vietnam’s total tuna exports, Hoa said, adding that Israel is currently one of the ten largest importers of Vietnamese tuna.

In May alone, bilateral trade stood at 136.15 million USD, excluding machinery, vehicles, equipment, and protective gear in the security and defence sectors. Vietnam’s exports to Israel regained their strong growth while imports rose slightly against the previous month.

He also noted that some Israeli businesses have shown an interest in tra fish fillets, canned food, and apparel from Vietnam, and have been in discussions with Vietnamese partners to boost imports.

Given COVID-19, many Israeli companies have also inked contracts with Vietnamese companies to import medical supplies such as medical gloves and protective gear, Hoa added.

Cambodia’s construction sector attracts 3.8 billion USD in H1

Cambodia attracted a total of 3.84 billion USD worth of construction investment in the first half of 2020, up 13 percent from the 3.39 billion USD recorded in the same period last year.

A recent report by the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction showed that the country licensed 2,522 construction projects during January-June, up 23 percent year-on-year.

The construction sector has generated 170,059 jobs in Phnom Penh. Unskilled labourers can earn around 10 to 15 USD per day, while skilled ones can earn between 15 to 25 USD per day, and specialised skillsets like engineers, architect and experts can earn much more.

Chairman of the Cambodian Valuers and Estate Agents Association Chrek Soknim said that the country’s real estate sector will recover soon after the COVID-19 pandemic, with locals seeking to resume transactions.

Indonesia’s auto sector urged to improve regulations

Various regulations have hindered Indonesia’s automobile manufacturing and the country’s car exports are still lagging behind its neighbours like Thailand, General Secretary of the Indonesian Automotive Industries Association (Gaikindo) Kukuh Kumara said.

According to Kukuh, Indonesia's actual production capacity reaches 2.3 million cars per year. However, only 1.2 million units can be produced annually and car exports hit 300,000 last year.

The official stressed that the country needs to improve domestic regulations, which must be in harmony with those in the global market.

In addition, Indonesia should enhance the vehicle certification testing system as such tests are currently conducted abroad.

The certification of vehicle safety also needs to be improved to meet the growing demand of foreign customers, he added.

As some 33 percent of vehicles marketed in ASEAN are from Indonesia, which is striving to take the lead in the regional automotive industry, Kukuh said.

Thailand’s rubber industry faces gloomy outlook

Thailand's natural rubber industry is likely to remain depressed this year despite a sharp rise in demand for protective rubber gloves driven by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Luckchai Kittipol, Honorary President of the Thai Rubber Association, said the virus crisis has prompted many automotive factories, notably in the US and Europe, to shut down or reduce their production, resulting in lower rubber tyre demand.

The world's overall automotive demand plunged, particularly during the lockdown measures, he said. In addition, the global economic recession and overall tepid business sentiment have wrecked auto demand.

Thailand is the world's biggest producer of natural rubber, making 4.8 million tonnes last year, with exports accounting for up to 3.97 million tonnes.

The country ranks fourth for exports of rubber products and processed rubber, trailing China, Germany and the US.

Such exports totalled 11.2 billion USD last year, up 2 percent. Key markets include the US, China, Japan, ASEAN and Australia, with auto tyres accounting for 51 percent of the shipments, followed by synthetic rubber and rubber gloves at 19 percent and 11 percent, respectively.

The Thai Commerce Ministry reported global demand for protective gloves is soaring in light of the coronavirus pandemic, driving Thailand's rubber glove exports to surge 16 percent year-on-year in the first four months of 2020 to 449 million USD.

In 2019, Thailand produced more than 20 billion rubber gloves, with exports making up 89 percent of total production.

Last year, Thailand fetched 1.2 billion USD from rubber glove exports. The country was the third-largest rubber glove exporter, after Malaysia and China.

According to Luckchai, Thailand's natural rubber production is estimated to stay at 4.7 million tonnes this year, with exports accounting for about 3.8-3.9 million tonnes.

Indonesia: Auto part suppliers turn to online platforms to weather coronavirus crisis

As Indonesia has imposed large-scale social distancing measures in the face of the COVID-19, local suppliers of auto parts are ramping up online sales which happen to be effective in the new circumstance.

Online sales have brought unprecedented revenue growth for these firms. Astra Auto Parts, a subsidy of Astra International and Indonesia’s largest auto part firm, reported that the number of its online purchases as well as online sales doubled in April and May.

Meanwhile, Carbatama, an engine lubricant manufacturer of the Exxon Mobil group, said since after the company launched its online shop in early April, its sales double in next three consecutive months.

According to the firm, though motor and automotive production was suspended in May due to the social distancing order, the demand for lubricant remained very high.

A survey by Mark Plus reveals that since the pandemic broke out in Indonesia, nearly 25 percent of local shoppers have made online purchases, compared to only 5 percent pre-COVID-19.

HoSE approves listing of Đức Giang Chemical

The Hồ Chí Minh Stock Exchange (HoSE) has approved the listing of more than 129 million shares of Đức Giang Chemical Group (DGC).

Đức Giang Chemical Group, formerly known as Đức Giang Chemical Company, is a State-owned enterprise under the Việt Nam General Department of Chemicals, established in 1963.

In August 2014, the company first registered its shares on the Hà Nội Stock Exchange (HNX) with a volume of 33.5 million shares. The stock closed the first session at VNĐ18,740 per share, now they cost some VNĐ40,000 per share.

In the first quarter, Đức Giang recorded a turnover of VNĐ1.52 trillion (US$65.5 million), up 31 per cent year-on-year. Post-tax profit hit VNĐ199.6 billion, up 66 per cent year-on-year.

At the Annual General Meeting of Shareholders held in May, Chairman of the Board of Directors Đào Hữu Nguyên said post-tax profit was estimated to reach VNĐ250 billion in the second quarter this year and the figure for the whole year might be VNĐ1 trillion.

In 2020, the company hopes to achieve revenue of VNĐ6.08 trillion, up 20 per cent compared to 2019. 

Seven kiosks in Ninh Hiệp, Hà Nội fined for trading fake goods

Hà Nội Market Management Department has decided to fine seven kiosks at Ninh Hiệp Commune in Hà Nội’s Gia Lâm District a total of VNĐ111.25 million (US$4,800) for trading fake goods.

Kiosks were fined for failing to list prices as prescribed, trading in smuggled goods, selling counterfeit trademark goods and relocating their business without notifying the business registration agency, according to the inspection’s report.

In early June, inspection teams of the department examined seven kiosks and seized 4,697 products suspected of being fake, owned by small traders in Phú Điền and Sơn Long markets, in the Ninh Hiệp area.

The fake goods were labelled with original trademarks before being sold in the domestic market at cheap prices.

Among the items were belts and clothes of luxury brands such as Lacoste, Adidas, Louis Vuitton, Versace, Puma, Gucci and Burberry. Others were smuggled products from China.

The investigators found the fake goods were made in China and smuggled to Việt Nam.

The department suspended business operations of seven kiosks for two months.

A representative of the department said the department would continue to inspect local businesses to prevent and strictly handle violations, fight fake products and goods infringing intellectual property rights.

He also said the inspections would contribute to protecte the legitimate rights of manufacturers and consumers. 

35Mwp solar power farm opens in Ninh Thuan

The 35MWp Nhon Hai - Ninh Thuan Solar Farm was inaugurated in the south-central province of Ninh Thuan on July 9.

The project was invested by the LICOGI 16 JSC at a cost of 750 billion VND (nearly 32.5 million USD).

Device installation was completed in late May and it was connected to the national grid one month later.

The 42-ha solar farm was officially put into commercial operation on July 6.

LICOGI 16 General Director Tang Quoc Thuoc said the project will contribute 59 million kWh per year to the national grid, raking in about 136 billion VND annually and creating stable jobs.

Vice Chairman of the Ninh Thuan provincial People’s Committee Le Van Binh spoke highly of the investor’s efforts to ensure that the project, the first ever in the province’s Ninh Hai district, remained on schedule despite many challenges.

He also asked departments, sectors, and authorities in the district to create optimal conditions for the company to invest in related fields, thus contributing to local socio-economic development.

Blessed with abundant sunshine and wind all year round, Ninh Thuan has given priority to wind and solar power, liquefied natural gas, and pumped-storage hydroelectricity projects, in a bid to become the country’s renewable energy hub.

It is now home to 23 operational solar power projects with a combined capacity of about 1,403MWp. By late 2020, eight more projects will have been put into operation, raising total capacity to 2,123MWp and generating approximately 2.5 billion kWh. 

Singapore secures three of top five regional deals

Singapore clinched three of the top five private equity and venture capital deals struck in the region in the first quarter amid markedly slower economic activity across Southeast Asia due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

There were a total of 141 such deals worth 1.4 billion USD in the region from January to March, Ernst & Young said on July 8. This was 9 percent down in terms of deal numbers and 65 percent lower in value compared with the same period last year.

The biggest first-quarter deal in the region was a 706 million USD investment by Krungsri Finnovate and MUFG Innovation Partners in the Singapore-based ride-hailing software company Grab Holdings.

The other two Singapore deals that made the top five were a 75 million USD investment in eCommerce company ShopBack and a 37 million USD investment in solar energy firm Sunseap Group.

Luke Pais, Ernst & Young's M&A and private equity leader for ASEAN region, said there was a lot of uncertainty in the market, but investment activity is likely to pick up pace by the last quarter of this year.

Private equity funds in recent months have focused on dealing with issues such as liquidity, protecting their staff, accessing incentives and ensuring that short-term adjustments are made to ensure the business has adequate resources and support to weather the crisis caused by the pandemic.

Now they are increasingly pivoting to deal with issues such as resumption of trading and making operating adjustments to the business, with a focus on what lies beyond.

The report said that investors are quite bullish about the opportunities in the region - evident from the fact that 121 funds are aiming to raise 38.2 billion USD in capital markets.

Funds focusing on venture capital account for more than half of the total funds in the market, in terms of volume. This is followed by growth and buyout funds representing 19 percent and 12 percent of the total.

RoK entertainment firm to open first overseas outlet in Vietnam

SM Entertainment, one of the largest entertainment companies in the Republic of Korea, plans to open its first store in Vietnam, based in the southern hub of Ho Chi Minh City.

It will also be its first overseas store to include SMTown Store, where customers can purchase merchandise of popular musical artists, including albums and posters, and a café that serves food and drinks.

SM Entertainment launched an exclusive pre-opening event on July 3 to give a limited number of Vietnamese K-pop fans a sneak preview of the store.

The official opening will take place between now and September.


Other News

ASEAN membership fuels Vietnam’s trade with regional markets
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Vietnam’s participation in ASEAN 25 years ago has helped the country enjoy strong growth in trade with other member nations.

Despite Covid-19, Vietnam exporters still find new markets
Despite Covid-19, Vietnam exporters still find new markets
BUSINESSicon  29/07/2020 

Vietnam’s fruit exporters has been striving to sell to new markets because they understand that reliance on the Chinese market will bring high risks.

Garment, footwear and woodwork companies look forward to receiving orders in H2
Garment, footwear and woodwork companies look forward to receiving orders in H2
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After half a year of struggling to survive difficulties caused by Covid-19, Vietnamese enterprises are hoping that more orders will come over the next six months.

Banks face exchange-rate risks when issuing international bonds
Banks face exchange-rate risks when issuing international bonds
BUSINESSicon  29/07/2020 

Many commercial banks have presented plans at shareholder meetings to issue bonds in the international market.

Face mask prices on the rise
Face mask prices on the rise
BUSINESSicon  29/07/2020 

The price of medical masks is on the rise after two new COVID-19 cases were confirmed on Sunday evening, bringing the total number of community infections linked to Da Nang and Quang Ngai to four in the past three days.

Group set up to inspect VN pork market
Group set up to inspect VN pork market
BUSINESSicon  29/07/2020 

The Ministry of Industry and Trade has founded a group to inspect the pork market which saw prices at high levels since the end of 2019 despite the Government’s effort to increase supply to make up for the drops caused by African swine fever.

First protocol amending ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement approved
First protocol amending ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement approved
BUSINESSicon  28/07/2020 

The Government has issued a resolution approving the first protocol that amends the ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement (ATIGA).

VN securities firms enjoy strong Q2 gains
VN securities firms enjoy strong Q2 gains
BUSINESSicon  28/07/2020 

After touching bottom in the first quarter of 2020 because of COVID-19, Vietnam’s stock market staged a strong comeback in the following quarter, allowing securities firms to enjoy sharp increases in both revenue and profit.

Local airlines open new domestic air routes to increase revenue
Local airlines open new domestic air routes to increase revenue
BUSINESSicon  28/07/2020 

To offset the decline in revenue from international flights, airlines have been trying to exploit more domestic air routes.

Vietnam's trade surplus continued to grow in H1 despite Covid-19
Vietnam's trade surplus continued to grow in H1 despite Covid-19
BUSINESSicon  28/07/2020 

The trade surplus soared in the first six months, though the GDP rate grew by only 0.36 percent in Q2 as Covid-19 escalated in many countries.

VN banks still make high profits, though businesses hit hard by Covid-19
VN banks still make high profits, though businesses hit hard by Covid-19
BUSINESSicon  28/07/2020 

Applying drastic measures to cut costs and ease reliance on capital sources, commercial banks continued to make profits in the first half if the year, However, they have been warned of bad debts ahead.

Vietnam's catfish industry experiencing tough days, no improvement expected this year
Vietnam's catfish industry experiencing tough days, no improvement expected this year
BUSINESSicon  28/07/2020 

Catfish products saw the strongest decline among seafood exports in the first six months of the year. With weak demand, a gloomy year is anticipated for the industry.

Gold prices hit all-time high
Gold prices hit all-time high
BUSINESSicon  27/07/2020 

Gold prices soared near VND57 million (US$2,486) per tael (1.2 ounces) on the local market on first day of the week while the yellow metal also made its history in prices, hitting an all-time high.

Hanoi removes barriers to investment in high-tech agriculture
Hanoi removes barriers to investment in high-tech agriculture
BUSINESSicon  28/07/2020 

Hanoi’s farming sector has proposed that the city adjust the mechanisms and policies to promote marketing and branding of high-tech agricultural products.

Resurgence of Covid-19 further thwarts Danang's economic recovery
Resurgence of Covid-19 further thwarts Danang's economic recovery
BUSINESSicon  27/07/2020 

The complicated progression of Covid-19 in Danang has dealt a blow to the city’s efforts to grow its economy this year and may drag Vietnam's economic recovery.

Asia-Pacific investment volumes in real estate fall due to COVID-19
Asia-Pacific investment volumes in real estate fall due to COVID-19
BUSINESSicon  28/07/2020 

Asia Pacific’s commercial real estate market has felt the brunt of COVID-19 so far this year, with a sharp decline in investment volumes and rental prices across most major commercial asset classes, according to real estate services firm JLL.

Organisations rush to sell Sacombank shares to retrieve debts
Organisations rush to sell Sacombank shares to retrieve debts
BUSINESSicon  27/07/2020 

Some organisations have rushed to sell shares of Sai Gon Thuong Tin Commercial Joint Stock Bank (Sacombank) to retrieve bad debts, but it was not easy to find buyers agreeing with the offered price.

VN stocks under pressure as virus cases weigh on market sentiment
VN stocks under pressure as virus cases weigh on market sentiment
BUSINESSicon  27/07/2020 

 Vietnamese shares are on the edge of declining this week as worries about the second wave of coronavirus spread increased after new cases were reported over the weekend.

Increase in M&A deals looks imminent in property sector
Increase in M&A deals looks imminent in property sector
BUSINESSicon  28/07/2020 

Many analysts think now is a good time for investors looking for acquisitions in the property industry to act since difficulties caused by the Covide-19 pandemic have thrown up opportunities.

VN law should be changed to better protect online consumers
VN law should be changed to better protect online consumers
BUSINESSicon  27/07/2020 

Attending a workshop discussing the laws held by Vietnam Consumer Protection Association in Ha Noi last week, experts said more effective solutions are needed to protect consumers.

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