VIETNAM'S BUSINESS NEWS HEADLINES JULY 22

Fitch Solutions: Vietnam to gain from shifts in apparel manufacturing

VIETNAM'S BUSINESS NEWS HEADLINES JULY 22


 

 
Vietnam, Cambodia, and Myanmar are among a few Asian nations set to gain the most from shifts in apparel manufacturing, according to a recent report from Fitch Solutions.

Along with Bangladesh, the report said, the three countries are able to expand their presence as suppliers to China and increase their market shares in North America and Europe at China’s expense.

Vietnam’s apparel exports jumped 30 percent last year, raising its global share to 8.7 percent, up from 6.8 percent in 2018.

While Cambodia accounted for only 1.4 percent of the market in 2019, its apparel manufacturing sector has grown at a compound annual growth rate of 13 percent over the last decade, due in large part to relatively low labour costs and favourable investment policies, including allowing full foreign equity ownership in the textiles sector.

Being able to use Vietnamese shipping ports also helps Cambodia with the transport and import of raw materials from China.

Myanmar is also expected to continue seeing strong growth, with numerous seaports facilitating shipping at one of the cheapest rates in the region.

Farm produce exports via Lao Cai border gate skyrocket

Agricultural products exported through the Lao Cai International border gate during the first half of the year enjoyed a sharp increase amid the negative impacts caused by the coronavirus epidemic and flooding occurring in China.  

The reviewed period saw approximately 27,000 tonnes of lychees exported to the Chinese market through the Kim Thanh-Lao Cai border gate, making over 14.8 million USD and representing a rise of 7 percent on year, while banana exports also witnessed a six-fold increase over 18,8000 tonnes.

Most notably, watermelon exports enjoyed a surge of 132 percent to roughly 54,000 tonnes, raking in over 12 million USD, a rise of 94 percent compared to last year’s corresponding period.

The overall import-export turnover through the Kim Thanh border gate during the six-month period reached 625 million USD.

Workshop seeks improved effectiveness of support policies for virus-hit businesses

A workshop was held in the central city of Da Nang on July 17 to discuss ways to improve the effectiveness of support policies for businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Co-held by the Central Institute for Economic Management (CIEM) and the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the workshop also sought proposals to enhance the local business climate.

Delegates joined in a lively discussion on the effectiveness of government and localities’ programmes to recover production and business post-COVID-19, and later made recommendations on how to strengthen enforcement in these programmes.

According to CIEM, the Government has issued various resolutions on improving the local business environment and national competitiveness since 2014. It has also adopted measures to streamline public administrative procedures and business conditions, foster online public service delivery, and help companies cut costs.

Vietnam ranked 70th among 190 economies worldwide in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business rankings last year, with 69.8 points, compared to 61.11 points in 2015.

Nguyen Minh Thao, head of CIEM’s Business Environment and Competitiveness Department, said that with orders continuing to be cancelled and international travel yet to be resumed, domestic companies have started to feel the pinch.

Though the government has launched a number of stimulus packages, many companies have found it difficult to gain access, she said.

Thao suggested the government focus more on cutting land use fees and helping agricultural products have broader access to the domestic market.

It is vital to beef up links and promote supply chains within regions and to enhance the quality of services to revive agriculture and tourism in the central region and central highlands, she added.

RoK to help Vietnam study feasibility of second-phase of Metro Line No 5 in HCM City

The Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) has confirmed its support for a feasibility study of the second phase of HCM City’s Metro Line No 5.

According to the city’s Management Authority for Urban Railways (MAUR), the assistance will go to the building of a strategy for transit-oriented development (TOD), a type of urban development that maximises the amount of residential, business, and leisure space within walking distance of public transport. KOICA will also help with raising human capacity via workshops and training in the Republic of Korea.

MAUR plans to meet KOICA to discuss procedures to receive non-refundable official development assistance and to clarify the technical support to come for TOD research.

The 23.39-km metro line will run along Hoang Van Thu, Phan Dang Luu, Bach Dang, and Dien Bien Phu streets and be connected to future metro lines such as Metro Line No 1 at Sai Gon Bridge and Metro Line No 4 at the Phu Nhuan intersection in the district of the same name.

The first phase of Metro Line No 5, linking the Bay Hien intersection and Sai Gon Bridge, will be about 8.89 km in length and cost over 1.5 billion EUR, sponsored by the Spanish Government, the Asian Development Bank, the German development bank Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau, and the European Investment Bank.

The second phase, which connects the Bay Hien intersection with the new Can Giuoc Bus Station and the Da Phuoc Depot, will be some 1.43 km in length and cost an estimated 2.18 billion EUR or more.

HCM City plans to build eight metro lines with a total investment of nearly 25 billion USD.

Agribank disburses 886.5 mn USD in credit to pandemic-hit borrowers

As of the end of June, the Vietnam Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Agribank) had disbursed 20.56 trillion VND (886.5 million USD) in credit to over 9,000 customers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The bank extended repayment deadlines for nearly 9,000 customers with loans totalling more than 35 trillion VND and waived and slashed interest rates on a combined 8 trillion VND for close to 1,000 borrowers.

As of the end of June, Agribank had total assets of over 1.46 quadrillion VND and total equity of more than 1.35 quadrillion VND. Total outstanding loans and investment exceeded 1.33 quadrillion VND.

The bank accounts for about half of all credit provided to the country’s agriculture sector.

Customs asked to handle strictly sugar smuggling

The General Department of Vietnam Customs must work with ministries, sectors and localities to tackle sugar smuggling and sugar trade fraud, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has said.

The PM has requested ministries and localities work to solve difficulties and improve the competitiveness of the sugar industry.

The department must also strictly control imports of sugar for processing export products as well as the origin of imports to stabilise the domestic sugar market.

PM Phúc also asked the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) to work with relevant agencies to monitor and propose trade remedies for imported sugar products.

This ministry must establish a synchronised and accurate database on export, import and production to assist enterprises in dealing with trade remedy lawsuits, he said.

It would have to propose management measures for trading sugar products and strengthen market management to reduce smuggling and trade fraud for sugar and sweetener products.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development was urged to compile a decree promoting mechanisation and irrigation in sugarcane growing regions and prioritise capital for research of new sugarcane varieties and development of key sugarcane producing regions.

The Prime Minister has asked people's committees of localities producing sugarcane and sugar to build concentrated sugarcane production areas and adopt policies encouraging mechanisation and improving sugarcane varieties and production processes for higher productivity and quality, and lower sugarcane production costs.

Provinces need to encourage farmers that have inefficient sugarcane growing areas to switch to other trees, according to the PM’s request.

At the same time, the Vietnam Sugarcane and Sugar Association (VSSA) has also called on sugarcane production enterprises to restructure and promote investment in science and technology to improve the productivity and quality of sugarcane and operational efficiency and competitiveness of enterprises.

The association and local authorities should also promote ties between farmers and enterprises in production and consumption of sugarcane.

The association said Vietnam’s 2019-20 sugarcane crop ended in May 2020 with an output of 7.4 million tonnes of sugarcane and the domestic sugarcane and sugar production industry produced nearly 770,000 tonnes of sugar, reported Phap luat & Xa hoi (Law and Society) newspaper.

Sugar demand is increasing domestically but imported sugar products still dominate the market.

The price of domestically-produced sugar products ranges from 12,000-13,500 VND per kilo depending on the quality of sugar. The prices are lower than production costs but cannot compete with the prices of imported sugar products under quotas of the ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement (ATIGA) with zero import tariffs.

In addition, smuggled Thai sugar has returned to HCM City, according to the association.

The association has also predicted the domestic market will have high sugar supply in next months and sugar prices still stand at low levels, leading to more difficulties for sugar enterprises and farmers.

Japan grants 3 mln USD for human resources development in Laos

The Government of Japan has provided grant aid of 317 million JPY (3 million USD) to support human resources development in Laos.

The funds will be implemented under the “Project for Human Resources Development Scholarship”, said Ambassador of Japan to Laos Keizo Takewaka at a signing ceremony for the project in Vientiane on July 16.

The project will award 22 scholarships to young Lao government officials to study at schools in Japan, he noted.

The ambassador emphasised that the education sector is one of the priority policy areas in economic cooperation for Laos. This project will contribute to training the many talented young officials necessary for continuous economic growth and poverty alleviation in Laos, he said.

According to the Japanese Embassy in Laos, under this annual project, more than 370 officials have obtained master or doctoral degrees since 1999 when the programme started.

This year marks the 65th anniversary of Japan-Laos diplomatic relations and the 5th anniversary of the bilateral strategic partnership, Takewaka said, adding that Japan, as a strategic partner of Laos, supports the efforts of the Lao government for sustainable development in various sectors, including human resources development.

Bleak outlook predicted for Thailand’s rice export in H2

Thailand's rice export is facing an unpromising outlook in the second half of 2020 amid sluggish global demand caused by the coronavirus crisis.

Local media cited Charoen Laothammatas, President of the Thai Rice Exporters Association (TREA), as saying that overall Thai rice export activity is relatively quiet in July after the pandemic resulted in the collapse of Phoenix Commodities, one of the world's biggest commodity traders.

Phoenix Commodities' collapse affects almost all rice exporters in Thailand, Charoen said, noting that it was a trading partner of many Thai rice exporters, particularly those who ship rice to Africa.

This UAE-based company, trading in grains, coal, metals and other commodities, is estimated to owe 1 billion THB (31.7 million USD) to Thai exporters who sell rice on credit to it.

According to Charoen, the appreciation of the Thai baht earlier this month and drastic foreign exchange swings have also led almost all exporters to baulk at rice shipments.

In the first five months, Thailand exported 2.57 million tonnes of rice worth 54.16 billion THB, down 31.9 percent and 13.2 percent from the same period last year, respectively.

Its biggest rice importers during the period were the US, South Africa, Angola, China, and Japan.

The TREA set a full-year rice export target of 7.5 million tonnes but is scheduled to adjust the target on July 22.

Thailand shipped 7.58 million tonnes of rice worth 131 billion THB in 2019, down 32 percent in volume and 25 percent in value year on year.

Cà Mau seeks ways to achieve export target after Covid-19 slump

The Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta province of Cà Mau is working hard to support local seafood businesses and achieve the year’s seafood export target of US$1.2 billion.

The province People’s Committee will take measures to improve the investment and business environment, and push ahead with a project to ensure sustainable development of the shrimp industry.

It will offer incentives to encourage the use of advanced techniques in farming and aquaculture and clean processing technologies to improve output and quality.

Chairman of the People's Committee, Nguyễn Tiến Hải, has instructed relevant authorities to keep a close watch on the situation and update local enterprises to help them proactively make business plans.

The province Department of Agriculture and Rural Development has been tasked with training farmers in aquaculture and ensuring availability of raw materials for seafood processing companies.

Ca Mau’s centre for investment promotion and business support plans to step up trade stimulation and help firms find new partners for exports and enhance their competitiveness.

The Cà Mau seafood exporters and producers association offers its members prompt market updates and urges them to join hands for export to strengthen their bargaining power.

According to the province Department of Industry and Trade, the newly ratified European Union-Việt Nam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) will help Việt Nam expand shrimp exports to Europe.

Local export enterprises should strive to tap opportunities brought by the agreement to increase their exports of shrimp and other key products, it said.

It also urged them to focus on the Chinese and Japanese markets where demand has begun to recover, and closely monitor other markets to take timely steps to boost exports.

The province plans to raise shrimp output by 8 per cent this year to around 210,000 tonnes, with 200,000 tonnes being farmed and the rest caught at sea.

Cà Mau hopes these measures will help mitigate the losses caused by the pandemic, retain its markets and help farmers stabilise their activities.

Cà Mau has around 300,000ha under aquaculture, the largest area in Việt Nam.

Its annual earnings from fisheries exports are nearly $1.2 billion on average.

Trade surplus reaches record of $5.46 billion

Viet Nam recorded a trade surplus of US$5.46 billion in the first half of this year, the highest six-month surplus ever recorded, data of the General Department of Customs this week showed.

Viet Nam’s import and export activities recovered strongly in June, signalling a more optimistic outlook for the country’s foreign trade in the latter half of this year, especially as many countries have started easing COVID-19 control measures and are accelerating the recovery process.

The total import-export value of the country in June reached $43.28 billion, up 15.8 per cent over May, of which export value rose 17.6 per cent month-on-month and import value leapt 14 per cent.

The results in June helped increase the total value in the first six months to $240.12 billion, down slightly 1.4 per cent year-on-year, of which export value reached $122.79 billion, up 0.2 per cent year-on-year, while import value decreased 2.9 per cent to $117.33 billion.

In June, exports of many key commodities witnessed strong growth compared to the previous month, such as computers, electronic products and components fetching $3.95 billion, up 16.2 per cent; phones and components, $3.65 billion, up 24.5 per cent; textiles and garments, $2.6 billion, up 39.4 per cent; footwear, $1.44 billion, up 9.8 per cent; and fishery, $720 million, up 12.1 per cent.

Three groups of products had import turnover of $1 billion in June, including machines, equipment and spare parts; phones and accessories; and all kinds of fabric.

Ending June, there were 22 items with an export turnover of more than $1 billion, accounting for 86.2 per cent of total export turnover.

Phones and components topped the list with $21.5 billion and computers, down 8.4 per cent. The export value of computers, electronic product and components reached $19.3 billion, up 24.2 per cent and textiles and garments $12.8 billion, down 15.5 per cent.

According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, exports are gradually growing and Viet Nam’s import and export activities are expected to grow more robustly in the last six months when countries open their economies and push the recovery process.

Meanwhile, exports of domestic enterprises increased 11.7 per cent over the same period last year, showing their resilience to negative external impacts. Their growth momentum is no longer dependent on agricultural and aquatic products as in the past. This trend has started in the last two years, especially being clearer in 2019, when exports of agricultural and fishery products faced difficulties.

In addition, the trade agreement between Viet Nam and the European Union (EU), set to take effect from August 2020, will open greater opportunities for Vietnamese enterprises to access the world's second-largest import market with a population of more than 508 million people and combined GDP of about $18 trillion. 

Start-up incubation programmes launched in HCM City

Saigon Innovation Hub (SiHub), under the HCM City Department of Science and Technology, and Expara, Singapore's pioneer and leader in incubation, on Thursday launched a start-up incubation programme built on an online platform.

Huynh Kim Tuoc, managing director of SiHub, said that cooperation with foreign partners in start-up incubation programmes would provide more opportunities to access international-standard training programmes and optimise costs.

An online platform would create favourable conditions for Vietnamese startups, and help small and medium sized enterprises participate in the incubation programmes, he said.

Through this programme, SiHub and Expara will focus on promoting the development of entrepreneurs and planning for entrepreneurial businesses to commercialise and expand creative solutions.

It aims to incubate at least 20 innovation startups with products suited to the fast-growing market.

Applicants in the programme will enjoy several benefits, including participating in an online seminar with experienced industry veterans, receiving advice from reputable experts, and joining a network of angel investors.

In addition, they will receive up to US$140,000 in grants and access to other financial sources.

Other incubation and training programmes between SiHub, the Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA) and Korea Shinhan Future’s Lab have also been launched.

Sihub and JICA, in collaboration with the HCM City National University's Information Technology Park and Sai Gon Hi-tech Park Incubation Centre, will pilot an accelerator programme for startups in HCM City, focusing on addressing the United Nations' sustainable development goals.

The pilot programme will help 10-30 new startups expand their scale, attract more investment, and make higher returns.

It targets having at least 40 per cent of the startups receiving investment by the end of next year.

An ecosystem of 150 startups is expected to be formed in the next three years.

Sihub and Shinhan Future’s Lab will continue cooperation in the Runway to the World programme, a start-up exchange programme between Viet Nam and developed regions such as the US and Asia Pacific that assists South Korea start-ups in Viet Nam and Vietnamese start-ups in South Korea. 

Firms urged to promote digital transformation post COVID-19

Digital transformation is an indispensable factor to help businesses gradually get used to the new economic state after the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a recent SAP survey.

SAP on Thursday announced the results of its poll of 4,500 Southeast Asian business leaders, revealing the extent of COVID-19’s impact on businesses across the region, and concerns about long-term prospects.

Unveiled at the inaugural SAP Forward Together virtual event on the new reality of businesses, the survey revealed that 40 per cent of the businesses polled are still adopting a “wait and see” approach in response to the pandemic.

The digital era is evolving into an “intelligent” one whereby businesses are facing mounting new challenges amidst digital disruption and new rules to the game. Winning companies are those that transform through innovation, more so in today’s “digitally disruptive” world compounded by the pandemic.

 

“In a new reality, intelligent enterprises can ‘do more with less’, deliver best-in-class customer experience, build resilient supply chains, while inventing new business models and revenue streams,” said Rachel Barger, President and Managing Director, SAP South East Asia.

The majority of regional business leaders (63 per cent) surveyed have already seen changes in customers’ purchasing behaviour and motivations since the start of 2020, although 21 per cent of businesses are unsure or lack insight on changes in their customer’s needs. Amidst this shift, organisations are still moving conservatively with their digital transformation efforts, with many adopting a protective stance with the mindset that disruption from COVID-19 will pass in due course.

For Viet Nam, 61 per cent of business leaders surveyed have already seen changes in customers’ purchasing behaviour and motivations since the start of 2020, while 22 per cent of businesses have not seen any changes in their customer’s needs and 16 per cent remained unsure.

Although businesses have pivoted their operations towards e-commerce and online selling, smaller businesses still worry over implementation costs of digital platforms and juggling operations to meet the sudden influx of demand. Around 20 per cent of businesses foresee a need to adapt their customer experience strategies to meet evolving expectations and needs of customers across platforms.

Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, the drivers of technology were focused on cost reduction and productivity. The goal was to make well-run businesses run better. As we adapt to the new realities caused by COVID-19, the roles of technology will have to evolve to achieve resiliency, deliver profitability and act sustainably.

To support business continuity through these challenging times, SAP has opened up access to selected technology solutions.

As a result, SAP is providing free access to SAP Ariba Discovery, the world’s largest business network until December 31, 2020, so any buyer can post their immediate sourcing needs and any supplier can respond to show they can deliver. 

Work on electronic component factory begins in Da Nang

The central city began construction of the first surface-mount technology (SMT) factory at Da Nang Hi-Tech Park. The plant would make printed circuit boards and electronic components for export from early 2021.

It will be the 19th investment project at the 1,100ha park in the west of the city.

General director of the Da Nang’s Information Technology Park JSC (DITP) company, Nguyen Anh Huy, told Viet Nam News that facilities and equipment were shipped to the factory on July 15, and the trial operation of the factory would start four months later.

He said the SMT factory, which was built with an investment of US$7 million, will be the start of a complex, including a research and development (R&D) centre, electronic component production, hi-quality human resources incubation and training centre.

“The SMT factory will pilot the production of hi-tech electronic products and printed circuit boards for export. It will be a sample for the key complex of electronic production – the biggest of its kind in central Viet Nam – to be built at the Da Nang IT Park with an investment of $30.4 million,” Huy said.

He said the company and experts from Silicon Valley in the US will begin installing a production line at the factory soon.

He also said investment promotion events have been planned to attract more investors from Taiwan, South Korea, Thailand and Japan.

Two years ago, Da Nang built a road to connect traffic between the hi-tech park and the IT Park.

Two of the first Silicon Valley-based businesses – Meritronics AMT Inc and Ai20X Silicon Valley – agreed with DITP company to develop the Da Nang IT Park as an expanded ‘Silicon Valley’ in Viet Nam. 

Viettel urged to maintain its lead in country’s telecom market

Viettel Group is a strong brand name and it needs to continue to maintain its leading position in Viet Nam’s telecommunication industry and high ranking in the Southeast Asian region as well as Asia.

National Assembly (NA) Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan made the statement during a visit to Viettel on Thursday. Recognising and appreciating the achievements of Viettel, she emphasised that these results have confirmed the important role of State-owned enterprises in the socialist-oriented market economy in Viet Nam.

Viettel is a Vietnamese brand known not only in the country but also around the world. As an economic spearhead, Viettel has been contributing to the nation.

“Viettel needs to continue focusing on research and production activities and become the centre of the hi-tech defence industry complex, laying the foundation for our country to be able to own high-tech equipment and weapons,” she said.

The Chairwoman said that Viettel should strengthen its pioneering role in creating digital life and digital society in Viet Nam. This is both a requirement and the responsibility of the corporation in the role of a technology-leading enterprise.

Viettel has built a digital infrastructure and important solutions for the Government, the National Assembly, ministries and sectors in many important socio-economic fields.

“Viettel needs to continue promoting its pioneering role in creating digital life and digital society in Viet Nam, building Viet Nam with a digital economy and managing the country with digital technology,” she added.

After 30 years of development, Viettel has continuously grown and become one of the economic spearheads, combining defence-security tasks with socio-economic development, as well as creating jobs. It has been an innovative and effective State-owned enterprise.

Last year, the group’s revenue reached VND251.5 trillion (US$10.86 billion), increasing 4,700 times from the year 2000. It posted pre-tax profit of VND39.4 trillion, 27,000 times higher than that of 2000. Viettel contributed VND38 trillion to the State budget in 2019.

In its five-year period of 2015-20, Viettel achieved revenue of VND1.23 quadrillion and profit of VND200 trillion, contributing VND195 trillion to the State budget.

Viettel has been the most valuable brand in Viet Nam and also the leading position in Southeast Asia and 9th in Asia. It took the 28th position out of the world’s 150 most valuable telecoms with a brand value of $5.8 billion.

When joining the telecommunication market, Viettel created opportunities for everyone to have a mobile phone. It created an explosion of broadband internet thanks to 4G coverage of up to 97 per cent of the population.

Viettel has become the largest network operator in Viet Nam with 65 million mobile subscribers, accounting for 54 per cent market share and 5.8 million optical cable internet subscribers, accounting for 41.5 per cent of market share.

It has a super wide band network with 360,000 kilometres of fiber optic cable to most districts and communes; 120,000 base-transceiver stations (BTSs); five storage centres following international standards, leading the data centre market.

Viettel's overseas investment has also prospered after 14 years. It takes the lead in some foreign markets such as Cambodia, Laos, Timor, Burundi, Mozambique and second position in Haiti.

According to the evaluation of the Global System for Mobile Communications Association (GSMA), Viettel is in the Top 20 largest telecom companies having overseas investment in the world in terms of subscribers with more than 50 million customers.

Viettel has researched, produced and mastered telecom infrastructure, helping ensure information safety and security for Viettel and the nation's network. From 2019, Viettel has focused resources to research and develop 5G BTSs and 5G chip production.

Vietcombank launches digital bank app

The Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Foreign Trade Viet Nam (Vietcombank) on Thursday officially launched its new digital bank service, VCB Digibank, which integrates the bank’s online trading platforms.

Dao Minh Tuan, Vietcombank’s general director, said that digital transformation was identified as a key growth driver of Vietcombank. He added that the bank was hastening the digital transformation process with a milestone marked by the launching of the VCB Digibank app.

“We hope that VCB Digibank will bring new experiences and help millions of our customers enjoy convenience in every transaction with Vietcombank,” Tuan said.

VCB Digibank was developed based on the combination of Internet Banking and Mobile Banking platforms with an aim to provide a seamless and unified experience for customers on electronic devices, such as computers (PC and laptop) and mobile devices (phone and tablets).

Users now could download the VCB Digibank from the Apple App store and Google Play, which is the updated version of the Vietcombank Mobile Banking app. On the web browser, VCB Digibank can be accessed by clicking the “Digital Bank” tab on the official website of Vietcombank or via the address https://vcbdigibank.vietcombank.com.vn/.

With VCB Digibank, customers will have only one username, which is their phone number, which was registered with the bank and one password for access via web browser or mobile device. Previously, customers had to remember their usernames and passwords for Internet Banking and Mobile Banking separately.

There will be a limit for online transactions – up to VND1 billion per transaction for normal customers and VND3 billion for customers of the priority banking service.

VCB Digibank also has better security with Smart OTP and Push Authentication. With Push Authentication, users logging into VCB Digibank via web browsers will receive a verification code sent to their mobile app.

VCB Digibank also provides greater convenience for customers in money transfers, online savings, payments for bills and public services, QR Pay, hotel and airline ticking booking and online shopping.

From July 16 to August 16, Vietcombank is providing zero charge for money transfers within the VCB system conducted via VCB Digibank.

Founded in 1963, Vietcombank has the highest market capitalisation value among Viet Nam-listed credit institutions with total assets of US$50 billion.

The bank has more than 18,000 staff with a network including a head office in Ha Noi and 550 branches and offices nationwide. 

VPBank launched first eKYC in Viet Nam

VPBank is the first bank in Viet Nam deploying electronic know your customer/client (e-KYC), allowing customers to open a bank account totally online.

The eKYC solution allows VPBank to overcome all geographical and time barriers to identify 100 per cent of online customers based on biometrics without face-to-face meetings as per the current process.

Accordingly, customers could implement transactions without waiting and experiencing digital banking products and services such as money transfer, paying bills and associating with e-wallets with a maximum deposit limit of VND10 million a day.

People take only a few minutes to register and verify information at https://taikhoan.vpbank.com.vn. Customers will be provided with a payment account and internet banking to use immediately without going to the bank.

To create this smooth customer experience, VPBank’s Digital Factory has built a comprehensive biometrics platform, combined with artificial intelligence (AI) technology and eSignature. These technological advances will be applied to more products in the future such as credit card sales and lending.

The eKYC solution has the potential to minimise operating costs for the bank, and more importantly, it will increase the number of new customers, unlock the creativity and competitiveness of the entire banking industry. With the support of the State Bank of Viet Nam for trial, VPBank is one of the first banks to implement eKYC from the first customer identification step. 

Tech Summit highlights necessity of data protection

General data protection regulations should be issued to ensure privacy in Viet Nam, delegates said at the Tech Summit 2020 held on July 16 by Forbes Vietnam magazine in HCM City.

Nguyen Ba Quynh, senior vice president for the Global Delivery Network of Hitachi Vantara Corp, said that organisations need to develop guidelines and regulations on the ethical use of data, and that artificial intelligence and big data platforms should be set up for sharing "good" data.

Quynh said the Government should take a role as a coordinator in ensuring data protection.

Dang Tung Son, deputy CEO in charge of CMC Telecom’s sales and marketing, said the Ministry of Information and Communications and Information Security Authority were establishing regulations on general data protection. The Government's digital transformation project will help to implement and resolve difficulties during the process.

Quynh said: “Viet Nam’s IT human resources have enough capacity and skills to carry out digital transformation.”

His company’s Vietnamese IT staff working in Viet Nam, for instance, have used big data, cloud computing and AI to maintain express train operations in London.

“Veracity of data and good data is very important for digital transformation,” he said.

Le Hong Viet, technology director of FPT, said that enterprises should not be concerned about costs for digitalisation because many lower-cost models and technologies exist.

Dao Duc Minh, managing director of the Vingroup Big Data Institute, noted that the institute has been working with research institutes, universities and enterprises to resolve problems faced by the country.

The institute, for example, has worked with doctors at several hospitals in the country to apply AI in image diagnosis, which has increased staff productivity levels.

Denis Brunetti, Ericsson President and CEO for Viet Nam, Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos, pointed out Viet Nam's many advantages, including a stable economy and political situation. Foreign investment in Viet Nam remains stable and the country has also signed many international free trade agreements, he said.

Viet Nam has also seen an increase in the number of smartphone users and internet coverage, which are the foundations for developing technologies.

Delegates at the summit also discussed enterprises' new technologies and services developed during the COVID-19 period that could improve their operations. 

Vietnam fisheries sector seeks ways to increase EU exports

Vietnamese agencies have been working to limit illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activities to boost exports to the EU.

Nguyen Hoai Nam, deputy general secretary of Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), said, "In the past two months, China increased imports from Vietnam after Covid-19 was brought under control. However, after China detected SARS-CoV-2 on three shrimp packages from Ecuador, imports to China were tightened again and we have also been affected. We’re still having difficulties in other markets too due to Covid-19."

Director of the Directorate of Fisheries Tran Dinh Luan said in order to meet the goal of USD10bn in fisheries exports in 2020, Vietnam needs to expand its markets.

According to Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Phung Duc Tien, after the EVFTA takes effect on August 1, Vietnam would have more opportunities to export to the EU. However, Vietnam still needs to meet requirements about illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing by the European Commission.

Nguyen Van Trung, head of the Department of Fisheries Exploitation, said there are two major challenges. The first is how to implement administrative fines in localities. Only when the local administrative fines are strictly carried out could other problems like applying and issuing licenses be obeyed better. The second issue is how to deal with fishing boats illegally work in foreign waters.

Ha Le from the Directorate of Fisheries said they had seen a complicated situation when fishermen went to work in areas with overlapping claims, such as between Vietnam and Malaysia. In the latest inspection, the EC accepted the proposal was not to punish those boats but to put them into a group that was at high risk and needed monitoring. Fishing boats that entered another country's territorial waters would be punished.

"In late July, a national meeting about illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing will be held. We'll focus on finding solutions to deal with this situation," Ha Le said.

The Directorate of Fisheries is preparing for the visit of the inspectorate from the Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries from the EC. This will be the third inspection in Vietnam and will be held when the Covid-19 situation in the EU improves.

Illegal speed boat service rampant in Van Don

Unlicensed speed boats are operating at Cai Rong Port to pick up tourists for trips to Quan Lan and Minh Chau islands in Quang Ninh Province.

As soon as tourists near Cai Rong Port, they are greeted and invited to use speed boat services. The employees said tourists can save time using their service or they will have to wait for hours at Cai Rong Port.

The boats dock near a sand strip near Cai Rong Port and leave after collecting enough passengers. However, ticket prices are not cheaper compared to the boats operating at Cai Rong Port. According to the boat owners, five to six illegal boats operate there.

"One of the perks is these boats are small so they collect passengers very quickly and leave early, especially during busy days," a boat owner said.

These illegal boats have their own employees that go out to find passengers. Even the ticket sellers of some boats at Cai Rong Port also work to find passengers for illegal boats. When the passengers go to ticket booths, the sellers say that they have run out of tickets and introduce them to the illegal boat employees. Several ticket sellers have been fired in the past for this.

Vu Manh Long, director of Quang Ninh Inland Waterways Administration, confirmed that these boats belong to several households that do not have contracts with Cai Rong Port.

"We’re working with the related agencies and have asked boat owners to explain their operation. We'll increase security and inspections to detect and deal with illegal boats," he said.

EVFTA helps wood industry add value to EU market

The implementation of the EU-Vietnam Voluntary Partnership Agreement on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade, along with the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement, are expected to boost the value of local timber and help wood items penetrate new demanding markets.

The statement was made by Ngo Sy Hoai, Vice President and General Secretary of the Vietnam Timber and Forest Product Association. 

Hoai said recent years have seen wood exports to the EU market reach between US$1 billion and US$1.2 billion per year, adding that there are bright prospects ahead for local timber products as they seek to penetrate stringent markets once the EU-Vietnam Voluntary Partnership Agreement on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (VPA/FLEGT) and the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) come into force.

Moreover, the two agreements are anticipated to allow the local timber industry improve its prestige and gain greater trust from other markets such as the United States and Japan, Hoai noted.

Sharing this viewpoint, a representative from the Vietnam Administration of Forestry under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development explained that Vietnam is currently exporting timber and forest products to over 120 countries and territories globally, with the EU being one of the five largest markets that enjoys stable purchasing power.

Although the demand among this market is projected to grow at a slow rate with the agreements entering into force, local wood items will gain trust from partners and consumers globally, allowing them to make greater inroads into other stringent markets.

At the ninth session of the 14th National Assembly, a resolution for the ratification of the EVFTA was approved, with the trade pact set to take effect on August 1.

The VPA/FLEGT Agreement originally entered into force on June 1, 2019. At present, the Vietnamese side is urgently preparing for national legislation in order to grant FLEGT licenses, thus paving the way for domestic timber products to enter the EU and other prestigious markets.

Kaspersky names its first head of enterprise for Southeast Asia region

With three-digit growth in its corporate segment last year, the global cybersecurity company Kaspersky has announced the appointment of its head of enterprise for Southeast Asia, Chow Lai Leng, the company's first-ever position for the region.

Lai Leng has a Bachelor's of Science degree from the University of Nevada in the US and a Master's of Business Administration from the University of Western Australia.

She has nearly two decades of extensive experience in enterprise sales and channel management for IT and the cybersecurity industry. Her rich account portfolio spans across financial services, and the pharmaceutical, food and beverage industries, with her most recent stint as Channel Sales Lead for a cybersecurity provider.

In her new role, Lai Leng will steer the corporate segment clout of the global cybersecurity company in Southeast Asia by developing successful sales strategies and ensuring effective execution.

Commenting on her appointment, Lai Leng said: “Cybersecurity is becoming more and more important as advanced threats are increasingly becoming sophisticated and the number of breaches are on the rise. In addition, companies’ reliance on the internet continuously increases, resulting in enterprises becoming very vulnerable to social engineering attacks.

“I believe Kaspersky has the technology, the talent and the values to keep enterprises secure against cybercriminals, so I am thrilled to be part of this dynamic company and I am fully committed to bring our enterprise business to the next level.”

Lai Leng will report directly to Yeo Siang Tiong, Kaspersky’s general manager for Southeast Asia. 

Siang Tiong said: “2019 was a hugely successful year for our corporate portfolio and we are eyeing to carry this momentum forward in 2020. While the pandemic has hit the region badly, I am sure that, with Lai Leng at the helm, we can still double down on our enterprise segment as we are more equipped to meet the enterprises’ growing demand for cybersecurity solutions and services.”

HCM City urged to hasten public capital disbursement

Under the chair of Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, permanent Government members held a working session with key leaders of Ho Chi Minh City on July 20 to review public investment capital disbursement and tackle difficulties for several key projects in the city.

Speaking at the event, PM Phuc asked the municipal authorities to prepare for the Party Congresses at all levels towards the 13th National Party Congress, build the socio-economic development plan for the 2021-2025 period, the mid-term investment plan, and roadmap for digital transformation.

Ministries and agencies were also assigned to help the city speed up disbursement for large-scale projects and build a new industrial park to lure more investment.

Commenting on the local socio-economic performance, the leader hailed the city for successfully curbing COVID-19 and having high determination in public capital disbursement.

He also lauded the municipal authorities for setting the goal of disbursing 100 percent of public investment capital this year, as well as ensuring social welfare support and gradually embarking on a roadmap for digitalisation.

The city’s departments and agencies were urged to exert the best effort to deal with difficulties, especially in site clearance – a weak point in the capital disbursement.

As Ho Chi Minh City is a major contributor to the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP), he proposed that the city continue promoting private investment and attracting more foreign investment, strongly develop entrepreneurs to reduce unemployment and prevent disruptions to the production and supply chain.

About development orientations between now and the year’s end, the PM highlighted a need to stimulate demand and boost services, thus contributing to the common growth of the nation.

He suggested developing night-time economy as well as paying more attention to tge digital economy and e-commerce that accounts for 2 percent of the city’s GDP.

About public and private investment, the leader noted that the city should increase credit quota to address existing difficulties.

As of July 15, the city disbursed over 18.8 trillion VND (817 million USD) worth of public investment capital, or over 45 percent of the plan, higher than the same period last year.

On the occasion of the 73rd anniversary of Day of Invalids and Martyrs (July 27), the PM also visited a Vietnamese heroic mother, a war invalid and a martyr's widow.

 
 

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