VIETNAM'S BUSINESS NEWS HEADLINES JULY 24

PM approves plan to implement Vietnam-US customs assistance agreement

VIETNAM'S BUSINESS NEWS HEADLINES JULY 24
A Vietnamese company specialises in plastic packages and garment products for exports to the US


Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has approved a plan to implement an agreement between Vietnam and the US on mutual customs assistance.

He assigned the Ministry of Finance to coordinate with relevant ministries to bring the deal to life.

The plan defines specific tasks to ensure the agreement is realised fully and effectively, meeting the requirements of each side, as well as tasks and responsibilities of involved parties.

The Government leader tasked the Ministry of Finance and relevant agencies to discuss with the US ways to implement the agreement, while conducting periodical reviews of implementation.

The Vietnam-US customs assistance agreement was signed in December 2019 and took effect on May 20, 2020.

Philippines, WB sign 370 million USD loan deal to assist Filipino farmers

The Philippines and the World Bank have signed a loan agreement worth 370 million USD for a project to support local farmers, the Xinhua news agency reported, citing the Philippines’ Department of Finance (DOF) as saying on July 20.

The loan agreement was signed recently by Philippine Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez and Achim Fock, who is the WB's acting country director for Brunei, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand.

The project aims to speed up the process of splitting about 1.4 million hectares of land covered by the country’s Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) and then providing individual titles to these parcelised lots to some 750,000 farmers.

"The SPLIT project will improve the bankability of farmers and enable them to access credit and government assistance," Dominguez was quoted by Xinhua News Agency.

The loan will support the Philippines' economic recovery programme, added Dominguez.

The government has redistributed about 4.8 million hectares of land to some 2.8 million agrarian reform beneficiaries under the reform programme, but only 53 percent were in the form of individual land titles.

R&D investment in Thailand likely to be affected by pandemic

Investment in research and development (R&D) in Thailand this year is forecast to drop to 1.09 percent of GDP from the previously estimated 1.45 percent due to COVID-19.

The country’s Office of National Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation Policy Council said R&D investment in 2019 was 182 billion THB, or 1.11 percent of GDP, which had been previously predicted to rise to 1.45 percent in 2020.

However, due to the COVID-19 situation, the office lowered the estimate to 166 billion THB, or 1.09 percent of GDP in 2020, and 195 billion THB, or 1.23 percent of GDP, in 2021.

R&D investment is still capable of reaching the goal of 2 percent of GDP within 2027, the office said, noting that to achieve this goal, the government must provide investment stimulus measures from now on and prevent the outbreak situation from escalating, which will diminish investor confidence.

The office also estimated that by the end of 2020, industries with highest R&D investment budgets will be food (15.02 billion THB), automotive (14.93 billion THB) and petroleum (10.67 billion THB).

Of the R&D investment in 2019, 78 percent or 142.9 billion THB came from the private sector, while only 22 percent or 39.38 billion THB came from government agencies.

Viettel to operate 1,000 new-technology BTSs in Hanoi by year’s end

The military-run telecom group Viettel said it expects to put into operation more than 1,000 new-technology base transceiver stations (BTS) in inner Hanoi, which will improve the quality of internet services in the city.

According to insiders, Viettel’s new BTS will replace a series of signal transceivers of 2G, 3G, and 4G networks on signal poles.

Single-band antenna and signal processing stations will be replaced by modern devices that can integrate multi-technology and multi-bandwidth, thus each broadcasting pole will have only three or four devices, down two or three times compared to the number of devices previously hanging off poles.

Less equipment will make it easy for Viettel to upgrade and install 5G devices in the future, without concerns about transmission line overload.

This conversion by Viettel will help double the maximum speed of the 4G network and the capacity of networks compared to those at present, and make the management of Viettel’s network database easier.

Dao Xuan Vu, General Director of Viettel Network, said this aims to improve the quality of its services and so bring more benefits to society.

Viettel plans to install new-technology BTS in other localities nationwide next year.

Malaysia: over 1,800 tonnes of toxic waste found abandoned at port

Malaysia has discovered 110 containers of hazardous heavy metals from Romania and bound for Indonesia that had illegally entered the country and were abandoned last month.

Malaysian state media Bernama quoted Environment and Water Minister Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man as saying that 1,864 tonnes of electric arc furnace dust (EAFD) – a by-product of steel production that contains heavy metals like zinc, lead and cadmium – were found abandoned at the Tanjung Pelepas port in the southern state of Johor.

The discovery of the EAFD is the biggest finding of its kind in Malaysian history, he said.

The EAFD, classified as a toxic waste under the Basel Convention, was listed as concentrated zinc in declaration forms.

The Department of Environment, as the Basel Convention authority of Malaysia, has not granted approval for or received notifications from the waste exporter to transit in Malaysia, the minister said.

In recent years, Malaysia has become a major destination for plastic waste containers from around the world, after China issued a ban on the import of this waste in 2018. The Malaysian government is negotiating with several countries to return hundreds of containers of rubbish illegally imported into the country to their place of origin.

Pepper export volume down 5.7 percent in first half

Vietnam exported over 166,800 tonnes of peppercorn worth 356 million USD in the first half of 2020, down 5.7 percent in volume and 21.1 percent in value compared to the same period last year, according to the General Department of Customs.

The Vietnam Pepper Association (VPA) said the complicated developments of the COVID-19 pandemic and the declining output of pepper make it difficult for the country to realise its goal of exporting 280,000 tonnes to earn 800 million USD this year.

Chairman of VPA Nguyen Nam Hai said the pandemic is causing severe impacts on the global trade system, and the pepper supply chain has also been disrupted in many markets.

Social distancing measures and travel restrictions including those on cross-border transport activities in many countries, caused a remarkable decrease of Vietnam’s pepper export in the second quarter, Hai noted.

He added that pepper demand was also affected by consumers’ cutting spending on non-essential goods.

In the first six months, pepper export to China and India dropped by 21.4 percent and 37.8 percent, respectively.

Hai said amid the ongoing outbreak of the pandemic, the import demand of the major export markets of Vietnamese pepper such as India, the US and the EU is forecasted to continue to decrease.

In addition, climate change and low price of pepper have made pepper farmers no longer interested in caring for their farms, resulting in reduction of productivity.

Vietnam's total pepper output in 2020 is predicted to reach only 240,000 tonnes, 15 percent lower than that of 2019.

The VPA recommends export enterprises to focus on markets that have lifted restrictions and Asian markets such as China, the Republic of Korea, and Japan, and promote domestic consumption.

Pepper growers should boost cooperation with export enterprises to expand cultivation areas that applied organic and sustainable production processes, towards improving the output and quality of products, Hai said.

Kon Tum eyes sustainable development of macadamia farming

As an ideal location for tropical trees that require high humidity, the Central Highlands province of Kon Tum plans to cultivate macadamia trees on 1,000 ha by 2025, according to the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Doan Nang Ruong, deputy head of the province’s Sub-department of Plant Protection, said for sustainable development, the Vietnam Macadamia Association should provide quality seedlings to farmers, and province authorities should link enterprises across the country with local farmers to ensure demand for the nuts.

Tran Van Chuong, Deputy Director of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said the province needs the support of the association to source quality seedlings.

There are many sources of macadamia seeds in the market, but they offer low yields, are plagued by pests and result in low value, dissuading farmers from growing the trees, he said.

The provincial People's Committee should offer incentives to attract investment in macadamia processing, and the association should help identify businesses that buy macadamia and make highly processed products, he added.

Prof. Nguyen Lan Hung, deputy chairman of the association, said Kon Tum has a lot of lands suitable for growing the nut, and inter-cropping of macadamia with coffee should be increased since the former would also shield the coffee shrubs from the sun and winds.

In recent years the decline in the prices of coffee, pepper and cashew, the province’s major crops, has persuaded many farmers to inter-crop macadamia with coffee and pepper or switch completely to the nut to improve their livelihoods.

Macadamia offers a higher income than coffee while the production cost is lower, according to farmers.

Kon Tum has suitable climate and soil for macadamia plantation and convenient transportation to places like HCM City and neighbouring provinces.

But having a source for seedlings is an important factor.

The association already has nurseries in the Central Highlands region that provide quality seeds to farmers.

Macadamia trees have been planted in the province since 2013, mostly together with coffee. It has around 350ha under the nut now, whose output is estimated at 30 tonnes a year.

Sustainable sourcing discussed in Lao Cai Province

A policy dialogue workshop titled 'Sustainable Sourcing of Benzoin Gum in the Northern Mountainous Region' was held on Friday in Lào Cai City, the northern mountainous province of Lào Cai.

It was organised by Helvetas Vietnam and TRAFFIC.

The event was part of the Regional BioTrade Project in South East Asia funded by the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) to promote ethical sourcing and sustainable trade of natural ingredients combined with biodiversity conservation in Việt Nam.

Attending the workshop were representatives of the forest protection departments of Lào Cai, Yên Bái and Sơn La provinces, authorities of some communes, researchers, forest farmers, and businesses in the supply chain of benzoin gum as well as representatives of Helvetas Vietnam and TRAFFIC.

At the workshop, local authorities expressed interest in the sourcing of non-timber products, including benzoin gum (resin of styrax tonkinensis tree).

Vũ Hồng Điệp, deputy director of the Lào Cai Forest Protection Department said: “Everyone knows the forest is gold, but there is a paradox that the forest farmers and people living near the forest are now the poorest.”

“We strongly hope that the sourcing of benzoin gum will become an effective solution to improve the livelihoods of people in the mountainous areas while protecting the ecological environment,” he said.

The workshop facilitated stakeholders including Government, farmers, researchers, entrepreneurs and international supporters to share information and discuss opportunities for collaboration on this valuable non-timber product.

Research results and policy reviews show the legal environment for benzoin gum sourcing created by relevant laws such as the Land Law, the Law on Forestry and the Law on Biodiversity Conservation are favourable, but there should be a sustainable sourcing process for this product soon. Helvetas Vietnam and its partners will continue to support and accelerate the development of this process in the future.

This policy dialogue workshop in Lào Cai and the next one in Yên Bái in August can help create a premise for the northern mountainous provinces to improve the efficiency of management, supervision of benzoin gum sourcing and trading, as well as the development of other potential non-timber products, from provincial to grassroots levels, contributing to biodiversity protection and enhancing the livelihoods of local people. 

Trà Vinh District gets brand certifications for specialty agricultural products

Cầu Kè District in Trà Vinh Province has received brand certifications for its three specialty products, Hòa Tân sáp coconut, Tân Qui mangosteen and Trà Ốt king orange, local authorities has said.

Ngô Thị Hồng Nghi, head of the district’s Bureau of Agriculture and Rural Development, said the district has advantages in growing fruits and being the largest area under fruits in the province.

It has more than 9,100ha of orchards that yield around 150,000 tonnes of fruits annually, she said.

But they do not fetch high values since farmers do not use advanced farming techniques and have not built sustainable links with companies, she said.  

Last year, the province's Department of Agriculture and Rural Development assisted the district’s farmers with growing clean produce, adapting to climate change, building brand names, and linking up with companies to ensure they can sell their produce.

This has helped the district develop fruit cultivation towards commercial production, improving yields, quality and efficiency.

It has established three co-operatives for growing fruits to Vietnamese good agricultural practices (VietGAP) standards.

They include sáp coconut, green skin and pink flesh grapefruit, mango and rambutan.

Nguyễn Văn Sử, chairman of the Hòa Tân Sáp Coconut Co-operative in Hòa Tân Commune, said the co-operative has 53 members with 45ha of sáp coconut, including 28ha of VietGAP quality.

Sáp coconut grown using traditional methods could normally be harvested only five or six years after planting, but VietGAP quality ones could be harvested after four years, he said.

The variety has soft and thick pulp and is used mostly for desserts like coconut shakes and flesh mixed with milk, sugar and ice.

A mature sáp coconut tree can produce 120-150 nuts a year, but only 40-50 per cent have the soft and thick pulp that qualify them as sáp, and the remaining have normal pulp.

The variety grows only in Cầu Kè District.

Thạch Phu My, a member of the Hòa Tân Sáp Coconut Co-operative, said members could earn VNĐ10 million (US$430) a year from a mature tree.

Phạm Minh Truyền, director of the department, said the province has zoned 20,000ha for specialty fruits this year.

Cầu Kè has 4,000ha of fruits in combination with tourism, he said.

The Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta province plans to mobilise VNĐ620 billion (US$26.8 million) from various sources to build infrastructure and facilities for developing fruit cultivation and consumption, according to the department.

It has a number of support policies to encourage companies produce high-quality fruit seedlings and buy and process fruits for export.

It targets average fruit production value of VNĐ170 million ($7,350) per hectare per year, the department added. 

Cần Thơ urged to become centre of Mekong Delta region by 2030

Cần Thơ must strive to become an ecological, civilised city and a centre of the Mekong Delta by 2030, said Party General Secretary, President Nguyễn Phú Trọng on Friday at a Politburo meeting on a project aiming to develop the city.

Cần Thơ City plays a key role in the Mekong Delta in terms of transport and serves as a strategic location for national defence and security. It also has advantages and potential in agriculture, tourism, transport and international co-operation thanks to its position at the gateway of the Mekong River’s downstream, having both seaports and airports, and owning abundant natural resources, Trọng said.

“The Party and the Government have given priority to policies that make an investment in the city. By 2045, the city must be listed among Asian cities at the medium development level,” he said.

To realise the targets, the Politburo asked the city’s authorities to carry out 10 tasks and solutions, including developing infrastructure, especially transport for inter-regional and cross-regional connectivity.

The city’s authorities were told to strengthen connectivity with other localities in the region and HCM City and become a key factor in regional connectivity.

The city must manage planning by fully exploiting its potential and effectively use investment, as well as develop high-quality human resources, science-technology services, education-training, professional health care and culture.

Cần Thơ needs to manage, exploit and effectively use natural resources, protect the environment and strive to become a climate change response centre of the Mekong Delta.

The city must develop socio-economy, ensure defence-security and reinforce its Party and political system building work.

At the meeting, city authorities proposed mechanisms and policies in investment, finance, and piloting urban management model.

The Politburo acknowledged the proposals and will assign Party and Government’s agencies to study and make considerations.

At the meeting, the Politburo approved the issuance of a new resolution on building and developing Cần Thơ City. 

Dong Thap Province to focus on boosting tourism

Dong Thap Province will take a number of measures to attract tourists after the COVID-19 pandemic is fully controlled, according to its People’s Committee.

 

The first green shoots of recovery were visible when the number of visitors to the province increased by 21 per cent from May to 153,899.

It had plummeted by 39 per cent year-on-year in May to 126,895.

The People's Committee said during the rest of this year, the province would focus on developing roads, transportation and accommodation, especially around popular tourist attractions, and facilitate packaged tours.

It would evaluate each tourist area to focus on their specialities but also diversify their products and services, and develop their brands, it said.

It is set to roll out a year-long programme called ‘Stimulating tourism in 2020’ to promote tourism during national and other holidays and festivals such as those to mark 60 years of Viet Nam's tourism industry, National Day on September 2, the death anniversary of President Ho Chi Minh's father Nguyen Sinh Sac, Culture and Tourism Week, and the Sa Dec Flower Festival.

Ngo Quang Tuyen, deputy director of the provincial Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, said the quality of services would be improved to meet the needs of visitors and discounts and promotions would be offered to boost domestic tourism.

The province would also encourage tourism businesses, hotels and tourist destinations to offer various promotions, he said.

Dong Thap is considered to have great tourism potential due to its abundance of historical sites, cultural values and rich eco-systems.

It boasts popular tourist attractions like the Tram Chim tourism area, Xeo Quyt relic site, Thap Muoi lotus field, Sa Dec flower village, and homestays.

Many of them allow tourists to experience the life of locals through activities such as harvesting rice, fishing with nets, tending vegetables, and catching ducks.

They can also enjoy camping, boating and rural foods, and visit handicrafts villages.

The Thap Muoi lotus field offers many foods made from lotuses, and has become one of the most popular weekend attractions for people in the delta and HCM City.

Community-based tourism is also seeing rapid development with households and villages investing billions of dong in newer tourism activities such as homestay services and fruit harvesting.

Last year, Dong Thap had around 3.9 million visitors who spent more than VND1.05 trillion (US$45 million), according to its Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism. 

Cargo handled at seaports maintains growth

Cargo passing through Vietnamese ports rose by 6 per cent in the first seven months of the year, despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

Deputy Director General of the Viet Nam Maritime Administration Hoang Hong Giang said the total volume of cargo handled at Vietnamese seaports surpassed 397.5 million tonnes since the beginning of 2020.

Of which, the volume of container goods handled at seaports reached over 11.8 million Twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU), marking a year-on-year rise of 8 per cent.

In July alone, the figure was nearly 57.8 million tonnes, up 1 per cent, including 1.68 million TEUs of container goods, up 2 per cent from the same period last year.

Despite the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, several seaports still posted two-digit growth in the first half of this year, such as Quang Binh, Quang Tri, Nam Dinh, Can Tho, Thanh Hoa, Thai Binh, ranging from 20 – 72 per cent.

Others saw a significant growth in container goods such as My Tho up 354 per cent; Thanh Hoa 115 per cent; An Giang 85 per cent and Da Nang, 11 per cent. 

Vietnam encouraged to make the most of FTAs

In the new phase of international economic integration, Vietnam has been advised to make full use of free trade agreements (FTAs) such as CPTPP, EVFTA and those between ASEAN and its partners, for national development.

Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh says the primary goal of international economic integration in the time to come for Vietnam is to accelerate implementation of free trade agreements (FTAs). (Photo: VGP) 
Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh made the suggestion at a working session of the Inter-sectoral Steering Committee for International Economic Integration in Hanoi on July 20. 

Minh, who is also head of the steering committee, said during the previous phase of international economic integration, Vietnam has successfully speeded up the signing, ratification and effective implementation of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), as well as ratification of the European Union – Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA).  

It has also promoted Vietnam’s role as ASEAN Chair 2020 in implementing the ASEAN Economic Community and economic connectivity between ASEAN and partners, actively participating in and actively contributing to multilateral mechanisms such as the United Nations, the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum (APEC), the Asia-Europe Summit (ASEM), and the Mekong sub-region cooperation...

With a total of 16 FTAs under implementation and negotiations, Vietnam has become the focal point of the vast free trade area network that accounts for 59% of the world’s population and 68% of global trade, helping increase the country’s interests with most of the leading partners regionally and globally.

According to Deputy PM Pham Binh Minh, the highest goal of international economic integration in the time to come is to serve economic recovery and promote growth and sustainable development.

In the new phase, the primary focus should be on the effective implementation and utilization of opportunities from free trade agreements, especially the CPTPP, EVFTA, and ASEAN agreements with partners, Minh said.

It is imperative to encourage the business community and craft associations to fulfil commitments and propose solutions to improve the competitiveness of businesses and industries, as well as to support businesses in trade defense. At the same time, relevant ministries and sectors should proactively devise appropriate plans to speed up negotiations of additional FTAs and promote market and partnership diversification in the context of the COVID-19 epidemic.

The Deputy Prime Minister requested that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Industry and Trade and relevant ministries and agencies work closely together to successfully implement ASEAN integration tasks in 2020, helping elevate Vietnam’s international prestige and position in putting forward initiatives and realizing the ASEAN Community Vision 2025.

In addition, he said the designated ministries and agencies should foster Vietnam’s active role in and contributions to multilateral economic cooperation mechanisms such as APEC and WTO.

Chartered flights to bring businessmen into Vietnam from RoK

The Republic of Korea (RoK) has initiated plans to send a number of businessmen to both Vietnam and China via chartered flights, according to the Yonhap News Agency of the RoK.

The news agency stated in line with schemes devised by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, approximately 570 businessmen from 240 companies will be arriving in Vietnam on chartered airplanes on July 22 following global air traffic being suspended for a long period. 

Moreover, the RoK also plans to send 1,500 workers to Vietnam in August.

Elsewhere, a total of 160 business officials from small and medium sized enterprises in the RoK will fly to China’s Guangdong province on July 23.

Following their arrival, the businessmen will be placed into quarantine for a two-week period before being permitted to travel to their final destination.

The RoK has stated that it will continue to work closely alongside its major partners in an effort to promote trade activities during the pandemic. 

Vietnam can emerge as perfect example for post-COVID economic growth

News outlet moderndiplomacy.eu has recently published an article outlining Vietnam’s economic momentum as it moves past the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), describing the country as a perfect example for the global south. 

According to the article, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecast the Vietnamese economy would grow by 2.7% this year, largely because it is showing signs of a strong recovery in the post-pandemic phase. Meanwhile, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc expected that the local economy would grow by 4 to 5% this year, exceeding predictions made by the IMF in April. This would mean that the acceleration witnessed in the economy after successfully defeating the COVID-19 virus puts the country on course to recover much faster than many other Asian economies in the region. 

Author of the article Prof. Pankaj Jha said, in the revised IMF estimates released in May, the Vietnamese economy is expected to grow by 7% next year, although given the encouraging signs relating to economic momentum, it may go on to surpass this level of projected economic growth. Slow demand from both Europe and the United States has had a negative impact on Vietnamese exports, adversely affecting projected growth of 6.8% for the year, with even 5% growth being considered laudable.

In terms of the resurgence in manufacturing, in addition to the possible alternative to Chinese exports in a few niche markets, Vietnam may reap the benefits from an early recovery. Along with economic growth, rising inflation has also occurred and is likely to reach over 4% this year.

The second quarter has witnessed a number of promising economic development indicators. Bloomberg reported that the country posted a trade surplus of US$500 million in June, while it suffered a trade deficit of US$900 million in May. The US market has also been showing signs of recovery, with US-Vietnam trade expected to reach US$80 billion over the coming years thanks to a bilateral trade agreement signed by both sides in 2000.

Furthermore, the impending FTA between Vietnam and the European Union has served to facilitate better trade avenues for the nation. Indeed, the trade agreement will facilitate tariff free entry for more than 71% of Vietnamese goods to Europe, while over 65% of European goods will enjoy tariff free entry into the domestic market.

Despite many market analysts predicting that the US may move to shift its supply chain, which has become overly dependent on China, to other countries, it is possible Vietnam may not immediately benefit from such a shift. Although a few multinational corporations may shift their base to the country or other Southeast Asian neighbours due to cheap labour costs, this process will only take place over the long term.

Recent years has seen Vietnam enjoy a rise in foreign direct investment from European and US companies, largely due to an improvement in legal aspects and an overall better business environment. Indeed, US President Donald Trump has indicated that many countries in Asia which have huge economic potential are lagging behind in benefiting from globalisation, liberal trade values, and effective financial architecture. In light of these aspects, political forces have been making tectonic changes in terms of the global economic landscape.

The US and Vietnam faced a deficit of US$40 billion in its trade relations last year. To capture the US market, Vietnam must increase its level of trade and also start importing products from the North American country such as automobiles, bikes, and other consumer products. This would mean that the both sides can work together to bring about balance in trade while simultaneously expanding the commodities basket. 

There are a number of positives which have emerged as the country moves past the COVID-19. This includes the active intervention of the government in an effort to address inherent lacunae and anomalies within the Vietnamese economy. Moreover, efforts have been made to rationalise the local tax structure, improve infrastructure, address business challenges, initiate public sector reforms, and enforce better banking standards. The weak banking system and financial architecture have therefore impacted the overall growth of the local economy. Also, the Vietnamese currency has kept within a certain range in an effort to bring about more foreign exchange and avoid currency fluctuations in the international market.

The relatively low labour costs seen in the country, coupled with the growth of small and medium enterprises (SMEs), could be beneficial for foreign direct investors as they strive to create an economic ecosystem which is capable of providing employment to many, with the nation already enjoying one of the lowest unemployment rates in Asia. Indeed, last year saw the unemployment rate stand at 2.2% of the total working population. Furthermore, Vietnam is a highly literate nation that is striving to develop a new education system that is capable of providing skilled workers and language experts to lure foreign firms to invest locally. Better vocational training institutes, effective industry-specific skill training centres, and improvements in higher education are the prime focus of the government that seeks to bring about necessary changes required for promoting foreign direct investment into the country. One of the country’s biggest achievements in the past decade has been the perceptible decline in corruption. 

At present, the domestic economy primarily consists of SMEs in fields such as textiles, metal forging, plastics, paper, tourism, agriculture, and telecommunications. However, a number of services within the economy have potential, including education, medicine, tourism ,and telecommunications. As such, the country has been making significant inroads into sector such as automobiles, electronic, and software technologies. 

Most notably, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc recently approved a US$9.3 billion tourism project initiated by Vingroup. This can be considered one of the largest investments made by the largest Vietnamese private conglomerate, with the project set to be located south of Ho Chi Minh City and will be completed by 2031.

Moreover, the Vietnamese government is also making every effort to bring in greater levels of foreign direct investment from Asian and European countries to boost its manufacturing and develop its industries in high-technology sectors.

Prof. Pankaj Jha emphasised that the country may enjoy the benefits of post-COVID-19 economic growth due to the swiftness of structural reforms and trade facilitating measures. It is  expected to emerge as a perfect example for the global south to follow.

Central bank considers changing roadmap for ratio of short-term funds for long-term loans

The State Bank of Viet Nam was considering changing the roadmap for adjusting the ratio of short-term funds used for medium and long-term loans, with the aim that banks could lower lending costs and provide preferential rates to aid post-pandemic recovery.

This point was a highlight of the draft circular which would amend the Circular No 22/2019/TT-NHNN on limits and prudential ratios of banks and foreign bank branches.

The central bank said that the development of the COVID-19 pandemic remained complicated worldwide and Việt Nam still faced a high risk of infection from external sources.

The virus outbreak severely affected every socio-economic aspect in the first half of this year, the central bank said, citing statistics that the country’s gross domestic product expanded at just 1.81 per cent in the six-month period, the lowest growth rate in the past decade.

A number of enterprises were facing the risk of shortages of raw material, narrowing down production scale or temporarily halting operations. In addition, the increasing pressure from controlling inflation and unemployment was also weighing on social security.

Adjusting the roadmap for the ratio of short-term funds used for medium and long-term loans would be critical in that context to create conditions for credit institutions to better support their customers to recover their production and business after the pandemic, the central bank said.

Under Circular No 22/2019/TT-NHNN, the maximum ratio of short-term funds used for medium- and long-term loans would be reduced from 40 per cent to 37 per cent from October 1, which might cause difficulties for banks in restructuring their capital sources, the central bank said.

The central bank also predicted further drops in deposits at banks due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thus, to implement the policies about preferential lending rates, the central bank proposed two options for extending the deadline of the maximum ratio of short-term funds used for medium- and long-term loans.  

In the first option, the central bank would give a six-month extension.

Specifically, the maximum ratio of short-term funds used for medium- and long-term loans would be 40 per cent to March 31, 2021, then reduced o 37 per cent from April 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022. From April 1, 2022 to March 31, 2023, the maximum ratio would be 34 per cent and 30 per cent from April 1, 2023 onwards.

In the second option, a one-year extension was proposed.

Accordingly, the maximum ratio of 40 per cent would be applicable until September 30, 2021, then cut to 37 per cent from October 1, 2021 to September 30, 2022, 34 per cent from October 1, 2022 to September 30, 2023, 34 per cent from October 1, 2022 to September 30, 2023 and 30 per cent from October 1, 2023.

VN Food Administration warns of Candy B+ Coffee Extra Power

The Việt Nam Food Administration, under the Ministry of Health, has warned people to not purchase or consume Candy B+ Coffee Extra Power, a food product containing Tadalafil – a banned substance – after the administration recently received a notification from the Singaporean Health Sciences Authority.

The product, which was sold in Singapore, was recently found to contain Tadalafil – a substance used to treat male sexual function problems. As regulations, any product containing Tadalafil can only be sold with a private prescription, the administration said.

The administration also said that the product has not been licenced for distribution in Việt Nam.

However, the product is still seen in advertisements, featuring herbal ingredients to increase “the strength of men” on social networking sites in Việt Nam, the administration said.

The administration highly recommended people buy products that were approved for distribution by the agency as well as products with clear origin sold in reputable drug stores.

Previously, in May, the administration also received other notifications from the Singaporean Health Sciences Authority and Brunei’s Ministry of Health that they found some food products containing banned substances sold in the two countries.

The products included Al-Ambiak (Cafe Natural Herbs Coffee) containing Desmethyl Carbodenafil; Kopi Jantan Ali Macca containing Sildenafil; Berry Jaga containing Tadalafil; Freaky Fitz containing Sibutramine; SHEN QI DAN BAI NIAN CAO YAO containing Chlorpheniramine, Dexamethasone, Diclofenac and Frusemide; Ricalinu containing Dexamethasone; and Hickel Mass&Strength Sachet containing Tadalafil.

The administration had alerted people to not purchase and consume the products.

Flexible origin rules will bring benefits to local plastic producers

Flexible rules of origin in the European Union-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) will help local plastic enterprises take full advantage of preferential tariffs when exporting to the EU market.

Ngo Chung Khanh, Deputy Director of the Multilateral Trade Policy Department under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, says this trade deal allows local plastic producing firms to use up to 50 percent of non-originating materials in production.

This advantage would create favourable conditions for Vietnamese plastic products to enjoy preferential tariffs in the EU market, he said.

At present, domestic raw materials have met only between 15 percent and 35 percent of local demand. Vietnam has more than 2,000 plastic enterprises, of which 84 percent are based in HCM City.

Vietnamese plastic products in the EU market do not face an anti-dumping tariff of between 8 percent and 30 percent like plastic products from some other countries.

According to the Import-Export Department under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the stable export growth of the domestic plastic industry in recent years has shown the high import demand of plastic products in the EU and Japan markets, especially plastic pipes and bags. Those are traditional markets in which local businesses are keen to increase market shares.

Of which, the local plastic packaging businesses have increased their exports to the EU, largely due to the dual benefits of prices and import tax incentives.

In addition, the domestic plastic industry has paid attention to increasing exports of high-tech plastic raw materials to gain a higher export value compared to normal plastic products, reported the Dau tu (Vietnam Investment Review) newspaper.

An Phat Holdings Group is one of the largest domestic plastic producers that has invested heavily in expanding production in recent years. It has set a goal of exporting biodegradable plastic packaging products to demanding markets like Europe, Japan, and the US.

According to the Vietnam Plastics Association, in the first half of the year, Vietnam’s plastic export value reached 1.62 billion USD, a decline of over 5 percent compared to the same period last year.

The nation’s recent signing of new free trade agreements, including the EVFTA effective on August 1, are expected to offer many opportunities for local enterprises to boost their exports of plastic packaging products.

It is anticipated that foreign partners will gradually shift orders from China to Vietnam in an effort to capitalise on cheap production costs and to enjoy export tax incentives to Europe.

Last year, the country’s plastic export value reached a total of 3.44 billion USD, an increase of 12.9 percent compared to 2018. The General Department of Customs reported that the plastic export value has had an average annual growth rate of about 15 percent in recent years.

Especially, strong growth was recorded in a number of markets, including Hong Kong (up 63.3 percent), Switzerland (up 131.3 percent), India (up 47.6 percent), the US (up 39.3 percent) and the EU (up 10 percent).

Vietnam Airlines to resume flights between Van Don and Da Nang

National flag carrier Vietnam Airlines will resume return services between the northern province of Quang Ninh and the central city of Da Nang on July 30.

The airline will operate three one-hour flights per week, on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Flights will depart at 3:00pm at Da Nang International Airport and 4:55pm at Quang Ninh-based Van Don International Airport.

The move aims to reconnect Vietnam’s most popular destinations among domestic travellers and further boost tourism post-COVID-19.

It is expected for Quang Ninh to welcome more visitors from the central and Central Highlands provinces to explore its picturesque Ha Long Bay – the World’s Natural Heritage, the Complex of Yen Tu Monuments and Landscape, the newly-launched Japan-style hot-spring resort Yoko Onsen Quang Hanh and more.

It will also cut travel time for tourists from the northeast region to renown destinations in Da Nang and neighbouring Quang Nam province.

The Van Don International Airport is also serving daily flights between Quang Ninh and Ho Chi Minh City to meet rising travel demand during the summer.

2020 Vietbuild International Exhibition opens in Can Tho

The 2020 Vietbuild International Exhibition opened in the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho on July 23, after being successfully held in HCM City a month ago.

Themed “Construction - Building Materials - Real Estate - Interior and Exterior Decoration”, the exhibition has attracted the participation of nearly 200 domestic and foreign exhibitors showcasing products at 500 booths.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Deputy Minister of Construction Nguyen Van Sinh, who is also head of the organising board, said the event aims to support the implementation of State policies on construction and real estate, technology transfer, and trade promotion.

Seminars, business forums, and discount programmes are to take place on the sidelines of the exhibition, which will wrap up on July 27.

Together with Can Tho and HCM City, the 2020 Vietbuild International Exhibition will also be held in Hanoi and the central city of Da Nang.

 
 

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