VIETNAM'S BUSINESS NEWS HEADLINES JUNE 29

Reform must focus on removing inconsistencies, overlaps in business regulations: VCCI

VIETNAM'S BUSINESS NEWS HEADLINES JUNE 29


It is critical for Vietnam to focus on removing inconsistencies and overlaps in business regulations to create a favourable climate for enterprises, attendees heard at a conference held by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) Hanoi on June 24.

VCCI Chairman Vu Tien Loc said that the business community was highly expectant of the Government’s new wave of reforms, making regulations stronger and more practical. The Government carried out two waves of reforms in the past five years. The first was in 2016 with the highlighted requirement that no business prerequisites were raised in decrees and the second was in 2018 with the focus on simplifying and removing business prerequisites.

The third reform wave should be removing overlapping and inconsistent regulations, Loc stressed, adding that the management agencies needed to make greater efforts to create a favourable environment for businesses.

Some ministries reported that around 60 percent of business prerequisites under their management were removed or simplified, however, the figure was only on paper, Loc said. In fact, businesses felt that the simplification or removal of business prerequisites was not that much, at only around 30-40 percent, according to the VCCI.

The VCCI said that the current legal system of business and investment still had a number of problems. Many business lines which required prerequistes needed to be abolished or simplified, Loc said, adding that complicated procedures for joining the market remained barriers to small- and medium-sized enterprises.

After reviewing 411 legal documents on business prerequisites, the VCCI also raised 106 proposals, including amendments to 93 legal documents, 32 laws, 51 decrees and 10 circulars, Dau Anh Tuan, head of the VCCI’s Legal Department said.

The VCCI also planned to carry out a more comprehensive review of existing legal documents with a focus on regulations about market entry and enterprise operation management.

Recently, the VCCI proposed the Government to tackle 25 points of overlaps and inconsistencies in the existing regulations.
Tuan said that the business environment could not improve if business prerequisites remained in place.

Nguyen Hoai Nam, deputy general secretary of the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers, said he felt that ministries were still slow in carrying out reforms although the Government issued resolutions about improving the business and investment climate every year.

For example, in seafood processing and export, Vietnam had some standards which were even stricter than the US, causing a lot of difficulties for firms, Nam said.

Le Net from law firm LNT & Partners said it was necessary to announce the list of business lines which required prerequisites for foreign investors to participate in.

Singapore launches new licence conditions for employment agencies

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) of Singapore has issued a new regulation requiring employment agencies in the country to meet new licence conditions to strengthen fair hiring practices.

The nearly 3,900 employment agencies licensed by MOM must not in any way abet discriminatory hiring by their clients, such as by withholding applications based on age, race, nationality, gender and disability.

They must also turn down requests or instructions from clients to carry out discriminatory hiring, it added.

In addition to helping clients fulfil job advertising requirements, employment agencies must also "make reasonable efforts" to attract Singaporeans for vacancies and consider all applicants based on merit, said MOM.

These licence conditions take effect from October, and those that do not comply may have their licence revoked or suspended, or be issued demerit points.

The new regulation came amid the increasing unemployment rate in the city state due to the impact of COVID-19 pandemic. The rate is forecast to jump to 4 percent in late 2020, from 2.6 percent recorded last year. This is considered a next step of the Singaporean government to address employment for local residents as the general election is approaching./.

Vietnam railway sector forecasted to face USD60.86-million loss

The Vietnam Railways Corporation (VNR) would suffer from a total loss of VND1.39 trillion (USD60.86 million) this year, down 23% on-year.

Of the total figure, up to VND618 million is the loss of Hanoi Railway Transport Company and Saigon Railway Transport Joint Stock Company.  

The loss is mostly due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the repair of Hanoi-HCM City railway route which is expected to cost up to VND7 trillion (USD304.34 million).

This year, the firm plans to invest around VND1.01 trillion (USD44.17 million) into train equipment.

The railway sector has to face rising competition from local budget airlines.

Meanwhile, investment in railway infrastructure has been modest. The railway sector has only received 40% of state capital allocated for its business and production activities.

Vietnam is now home to over 3,000 kilometres of railway tracks, none of them capable of running high-speed services.

Industrial zones nationwide attract US$6 billion in FDI

The first half of the year saw Vietnam attract 335 foreign direct investment (FDI) projects into industrial zones (IZs) and economic zones (EZs), with newly registered and added capital reaching US$6 billion, according to the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI).

The MPI reports the number of FDI projects up to June stood at approximately 9,835 capitalised at roughly US$197.8 billion of which about 72.3% has been disbursed. 

In terms of domestic investment projects, both IZs and EZs located throughout the country have attracted some 282 projects in six months with total newly registered and increased capital hitting US$2.7 billion.

They brought the cumulative number of domestic investment projects to 9,650, boasting a total investment figure of about US$99.6 million with disbursed investment capital making up 46.3%.

By the end of June, 336 industrial zones have been established in Vietnam, covering a total area of 98,000ha, according to data compiled by the Ministry of Planning and Investment.

Businesses eye consumer trends to penetrate ASEAN market

Local enterprises are being urged to strictly follow consumer trends, strive to improve product quality, and ensure reasonable prices in the face of fierce competition from other countries within the ASEAN bloc.

With Vietnam taking on the role of ASEAN Chair for 2020, the position is expected to create a range of opportunities to elevate the country’s profile regionally and internationally, while simultaneously expanding trade and investment activities with other members of the bloc. 

ASEAN represents the nation’s fourth largest export market with a turnover of nearly US$24 billion last year. During the first five months of the year the country’s exports to other ASEAN members reached only US$9.8 billion, with this disappointing figure being put down to the negative impact caused by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic.

Aside from causing numerous difficulties, the COVID-19 epidemic has also served to create plenty of opportunities for Vietnamese agricultural products to conquer regional markets such as Singapore, Thailand, and Malaysia.

According to the Vietnamese trade office in Singapore, the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic has led to the trade office actively strengthening connectivity with associations and businesses in an effort to boost the export of agricultural products and food items to Singapore.

Indeed, March alone saw the trade office help firms to place more than 20 orders for agricultural products.

Since the beginning of this year, fruit and vegetable exports to Thailand have increased sharply. Most notably, the first four months saw fruit and vegetable exports to the Thai market enjoy an annual rise of over 244% to US$58 million.

According to economic experts, the ASEAN Economic Community has been presented with opportunities, whilst a number of challenges are being posed for the country which will face fierce competition from other nations in the bloc.

Experts have therefore advised enterprises to restructure their production activities and change their business mindset in an effort to meet market demand and ensure sustainable development.

With regard to the export of rice to the Philippines, Nguyen Van Thanh, director of Phat Thanh VI Company, recommends that domestic businesses try to improve product quality whilst ensuring a reasonable price in order to compete with regional rivals.

Nguyen Thanh Hai, general director of Quy Phuc Manufacturing and Trading Co., Ltd, emphasised that as a means of making inroads into the ASEAN market, local enterprises have been urged to devise a business strategy in order to follow consumer trends and connect with reputable domestic distributors.

Fukunari Kimura, Chief Economist of the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia, suggested that firms give priority to consumers’ tastes and largely focus on the application of technology in the new era of digitalisation to boost trade and investment activities.

RoK expert highlights RCEP’s role in dealing with protectionism

An expert of the Republic of Korea (RoK) has highlighted the role of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) in dealing with protectionism, especially in his country.

In a recent interview granted to Vietnam News Agency correspondents in Seoul, Dr. Lee Jaehyon, director of the Center for ASEAN and Oceania Studies at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies, said that as the Korean economy is so much dependent on trade, a regional multilateral free trade agreement is in principle good for Korea and its economy.

“On top of that RCEP has long been on agenda of regional economic cooperation. It is better for Korea to conclude it sooner than later. A further delay might have reduced the momentum for the free trade agreement,” he said.

According to the expert, as for the RoK, RCEP is supposed to be one of the achievements of the New Southern Policy since it could further remove the trade barrier between ASEAN countries and the RoK.

As COVID-19 puts serious restraints on people and good movement and incurs protectionist tendencies by countries, the agreement is helpful to fight against the negative symptoms brought by the Covid-19.

Regarding Vietnam’s efforts towards the conclusion of the RCEP negotiation, Lee said as ASEAN Chair in 2020, Vietnam has a heavy burden of getting all the signing done this year (hopefully with India’s joining).

“It will not be an easy task since regional countries are so much pre-occupied with Covid-19. But, if Vietnam persuades regional countries strongly with an argument that RCEP is an effective instrument to fight against the protectionist movements by some countries which put further constraints on regional economies on top of the negative impacts of the pandemic,” he stated.

He went on to say that nobody can tell if countries will finish signing the agreement this year or not. Obviously, things do not bode well due to COVID-19 – the protectionist impulses of the regional countries.

Emphasising that the utility of RCEP is clearer than ever, he said he wishes the ratification is all done by countries.

Vinh Phuc province promises impressive summer for tourists

A wide range of special cultural and tourism activities are awaiting travellers in the northern province of Vinh Phuc this summer.

At a ceremony kicking off the local travel season on June 25, Vice Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Vu Chi Giang said this was an important event as part of the National Tourism Year 2020 and the “Vietnamese people travel in Vietnam” campaign, launched by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, to stimulate domestic travel demand in the “new normal” context after the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the province’s travel season this year, visitors will have chances to visit the traditional snake farming village of Vinh Son, Ha Pagoda, the Temple of Literature, and many other famous destinations.

They can also taste local specialities at the culinary festival organised by the Vinh Phuc restaurants’ association or enjoy folk music like “cheo”, “xam” and “van” singing.

Organisers believe that this will also be an opportunity for Vinh Phuc to boost cultural and tourism cooperation with other localities in Vietnam, thus helping to promote the province as a safe, attractive, civilised and friendly destination.

Vinh Phuc, home to a number of renowned tourist sites like Tam Dao, Tay Thien and Dai Lai, has recorded breakthroughs in tourism development over the past years.

Tourist arrivals here grew by 15 percent annually between 2015 and 2018, and exceeded 6.2 million in 2019, earning the province 1.92 trillion VND (82.6 million USD) in tourism revenue.

Exhibition spotlights advanced advertising technologies

The Vietnam International Advertising Equipment and Technology Exhibition (VIETAD 2020) is underway at the Hanoi International Exhibition Center, introducing latest technologies of the industry.

The annual event, organised by the Vietnam Advertising Association, the HCM City Advertising Association and the Dong Nam Advertising and Commercial Promotion JSC, is taking place in conjunction with the Vietnam International Packaging, Label, Thermal Transfer, Printing Technology Equipment and Supplies Exhibition 2020 (VPSE 2020).

Both exhibitions consist of 180 stalls that display and run demos of advanced machines and equipment.

According to the organiser, the 11th VIETAD this year aims at catering to information demand of firms across sectors. It offers a good opportunity for domestic and foreign organisations and enterprises to seek partners, transfer technologies, and develop business, contributing to increasing the quality and competitiveness of products.

It lasts until June 28 and is scheduled to run at the Phu Tho Indoor Sports Stadium in Ho Chi Minh City from August 6 to 9.

Vietnam plays proactive role in RCEP negotiations: Indian scholar

Vietnam is playing a very proactive and responsible role in pushing up the negotiations of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) forward, Associate Prof. Dr. Faisal Ahmed from India’s FORE School of Management has said.

Ahmed also told the Vietnam News Agency (VNA) on June 25 that Vietnam is performing a significant role in strengthening regional integration and creating a cohesive environment within the ASEAN to adapt to and promote the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

He highlighted Vietnam’s crucial economic and strategic role in the Indo-Pacific region.

Prior to the ongoing 36th ASEAN summit, Vietnamese Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh chaired a meeting of ministers from RCEP negotiating members, he continued.

Regarding India’s possibility to return to the RCEP negotiations, Ahmed said the joint media statement of the 10th RCEP Ministerial Meeting that took place online on June 23 has emphasised that the RCEP remains open for India.

Earlier, there had been some concerns over India not joining the RCEP, he said, adding: “But I feel that joining RCEP will be beneficial for India, and will give a boost to ‘Make in India’ programme also.”

“I think India will be in a better position to re-consider joining RCEP only after the result of the US presidential elections to be held in November this year,” he said.

Vinh Phuc province promises impressive summer for tourists

A wide range of special cultural and tourism activities are awaiting travellers in the northern province of Vinh Phuc this summer.

At a ceremony kicking off the local travel season on June 25, Vice Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Vu Chi Giang said this was an important event as part of the National Tourism Year 2020 and the “Vietnamese people travel in Vietnam” campaign, launched by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, to stimulate domestic travel demand in the “new normal” context after the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the province’s travel season this year, visitors will have chances to visit the traditional snake farming village of Vinh Son, Ha Pagoda, the Temple of Literature, and many other famous destinations.

They can also taste local specialities at the culinary festival organised by the Vinh Phuc restaurants’ association or enjoy folk music like “cheo”, “xam” and “van” singing.

Organisers believe that this will also be an opportunity for Vinh Phuc to boost cultural and tourism cooperation with other localities in Vietnam, thus helping to promote the province as a safe, attractive, civilised and friendly destination.

Vinh Phuc, home to a number of renowned tourist sites like Tam Dao, Tay Thien and Dai Lai, has recorded breakthroughs in tourism development over the past years.

Tourist arrivals here grew by 15 percent annually between 2015 and 2018, and exceeded 6.2 million in 2019, earning the province 1.92 trillion VND (82.6 million USD) in tourism revenue.

US provides nearly 56 million USD to support Cambodia’s social-economic growth

The US Government has signed an agreement to offer Cambodia about 56 million USD to support its social and economy development programmes across four sectors in 2020.

The Royal Government of Cambodia, through the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC), and the US Government, through the US Agency for International Development (USAID), signed the pact on June 25.

Per the agreement, 38 million USD will be earmarked for health and education programmes and approximately 18 million USD for agriculture and environment programmes.

CDC Vice-Chairman Chin Bun Sean said that bilateral development cooperation is an important pillar in promoting and strengthening the cooperation and partnership between the two countries.

W. Patrick Murphy, US Ambassador to Cambodia, said the US Government is committed to continuing its support for the Cambodian people towards sustainable, inclusive, and equitable socio-economic development.

In March, the US Government provided Cambodia with 11 million USD to support the Southeast Asian country’s COVID-19 response.

Since 1994, the US’s assistance for Cambodian people has exceeded over 1 billion USD.

LBP to move listing to HOSE this year

Top officials of LienVietPostBank (LPB) have pledged to move the stock listing to the Hochiminh Stock Exchange from the market for unlisted public enterprises or UPCoM within this year to improve LPB's prestige and trademark with local and international investors and customers and ensure LPB shares see better liquidity, thus benefiting shareholders.

Speaking at an annual general meeting on June 25, Pham Doan Son, general director of the bank, said the plan had moved at a slow pace in the past due to unfavorable financial conditions. However, it will be completed within this year as a consulting unit has been found.

At present, the LPB share price is some VND9,000, way below the par value. Meanwhile, it has a book value of up to VND14,000.

In the first six months of this year, LPB saw VND1 trillion in profit, most likely meeting this year’s goal at some VND1.7 trillion. In 2020, the State Bank of Vietnam allocated the bank a credit growth rate quota from 10% to 10.75%.

At the meeting, shareholders of LPB approved the expansion of foreign ownership limit from 5% to 9.99%, allowing the bank to issue shares for qualified foreign investors via private placement.

Besides this, LPB had plans to issue shares for existing shareholders at a ratio of 10%, raising its chartered capital to some VND10.7 trillion.

This year, customer support programs amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic may cut into the lender’s profit by some VND300 to VND400 billion. The bank will focus on stabilizing the manpower network to reduce operating costs in the next few years.

Cambodia bans import of six agricultural products from Vietnam

Six Vietnamese farm products including cabbages, broccoli, okra, pumpkins, limes and chives have been banned for import by Cambodia after they were found containing pesticide residues that exceeded the permissible quantity.

Cambodia’s authorities checked the quality of over 20 types of fruits and vegetables imported from Vietnam, according to Vo Thi Gai Nho, deputy head of the customs agency at Khanh Binh border gate under the An Giang Department of Customs.

The test results found harmful residues in six farm products; so the Cambodian General Department of Customs and agencies at Chrey Thom international border gate in Kandal Province imposed a ban on importing these agricultural products from Vietnam.

The entire batch of the six types of vegetables was confiscated and destroyed.

Between January and May, bilateral trade revenue between Vietnam and Cambodia reached US$1.2 billion, down 8.1% year-on-year. Vietnam exported goods worth US$1.7 billion to Cambodia, inching down by 6%.

Over the five-month period, Vietnam’s exports of farm produce to the neighboring country skyrocketed by 312% year-on-year.

ADB, HDBank partner to boost trade in Vietnam

The Asian Development Bank’s Trade Finance Program (TFP) and Vietnam-based HCMC Development Commercial Bank (HDBank) signed a credit agreement on Wednesday to bolster trade in the Southeast Asian country.

“We have had a relationship with HDBank since 2016 and we are pleased to be able to both deepen that relationship and further our commitment to boost trade in Vietnam,” stated ADB Relationship Manager for Vietnam Can Sutken.

“This credit agreement will enable HDBank to access trade finance from ADB, which is expected to support the import and export activities of our customers as well as further promote trade activities in Vietnam,” noted CEO of HDBank, Pham Quoc Thanh.

Since 2004, TFP has supported US$13.5 billion in trade in Vietnam through 13,530 transactions covering both guarantees and direct funding, nearly two-thirds of which supports small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

TFP works with 14 commercial banks in Vietnam.

Backed by ADB’s AAA credit rating, TFP provides guarantees and loans to over 200 partner banks to support trade, enabling more companies throughout Asia and the Pacific to engage in import and export activities.

Since 2009, ADB’s TFP has supported some 20,000 SMEs across Asia through over 26,000 transactions valued at over US$41 billion in sectors ranging from commodities and capital goods to medical supplies and consumer goods.

TFP complements its financial support with knowledge products including a study that quantifies market gaps for trade finance, fleshes out initiatives to increase the role of women in banking, improves efforts to enhance environmental safeguards and lists out initiatives to fight crime through greater transparency in the global financial system.

TFP also provides workshops and seminars to increase knowledge and expertise in matters related to finance, trade, risk management and fraud prevention.

HDBank is one of the emerging banks in Vietnam, with a client base including SMEs, retail and consumers. It is committed to sustainable development, regional reach, integration of international financial markets, being a trusted partner for investors and customers and contributing actively to the country's economic development.

Meanwhile, ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Founded in 1966, it is owned by 68 members, with 49 from the region.

Australia, WB commit additional AUD5 million for Vietnam’s post-Covid-19 recovery

The Australian Government and World Bank Vietnam have committed to contributing an additional AUD5 million to the Australia-World Bank Strategic Partnership – Phase 2 to support Vietnam’s post-pandemic economic recovery.

The agreement was signed by Australian Ambassador to Vietnam Robyn Mudie and World Bank Country Director for Vietnam Ousmane Dione on June 24, according to the Australian Embassy in Vietnam.

The additional funding will protect the most vulnerable from the negative impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic and support Vietnam’s economic recovery in various ways including through digitizing social protection systems, providing world-class advice on economic reforms and stimulus, facilitating sustainable infrastructure development and ensuring a strong focus on gender equality and social inclusion.

 

“By providing support in key areas, the program aims to help the country’s economy gain back its full potential in the fastest and most sustainable way,” Dione stated.

“Vietnam should be very proud of how it has tackled Covid-19. The next challenge for Vietnam and for Australia will be to replicate the success of the health response in the economic response,” Mudie noted.

“I am proud of the role the Australia-World Bank Group Strategic Partnership is playing in Vietnam’s economic recovery. It will continue providing world class economic advice and analysis for Vietnam’s leaders and policymakers to accelerate economic recovery, with an increasingly strong focus on gender equality and social protection,” she added.

According to the World Bank, Vietnam has been effective in containing the Covid-19 pandemic with a limited number of cases and no registered deaths. However, the pandemic has shaken the country’s traditional resilience to external shocks, with economic growth in the first quarter reaching only 3.8% compared to the projected growth of 6.5% prior to the crisis.

In order to mitigate the economic and social impacts of Covid-19, it is critical for the government to target sectors and activities that create jobs and improve long-term productivity and growth, such as infrastructure, innovation, social protection, health and education.

The additional AUD5 million takes forward part of the AUD10.5 million commitment from Australia toward Vietnam’s Covid-19 recovery efforts, discussed at a meeting between Mudie and Vietnam’s Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyen Chi Dung on June 5, 2020.

The ongoing Australia-World Bank Strategic Partnership – Phase 2, signed in April 2017, aims to support Vietnam’s key national reforms, which are intended to gradually benefit millions of Vietnamese people and help the country reach its ambition of becoming a high-income economy by 2045.

U.S. begins anti-subsidy probe into auto tires from Vietnam

The U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) has initiated an anti-subsidy investigation into auto tires made in Vietnam, according to the Trade Remedies Authority of Vietnam.

During the investigation, which is set to last 12 months, the DOC can announce preliminary results and adopt temporary anti-dumping and anti-subsidy measures.

On May 13, the United States received a request to begin anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigations into Vietnam’s tire products.

Data from the U.S. customs agency indicated that in 2019, Vietnam exported tire products worth some US$525 million to the United States.

In July last year, the Ministry of Industry and Trade issued a high-level warning that the tire products might be subject to trade defense investigations in some foreign countries.

After being notified of the investigation into Vietnamese tires, the ministry immediately took action to support enterprises and exporters including discussing and consulting with relevant associations.

To ensure the effectiveness of the investigation, the ministry has encouraged local auto tire exporters to proactively cooperate with the United States side and provide them with sufficient information.

Eximbank announces new chairman

Vietnam Export Import Bank (Eximbank) appointed Vice Chairman Yasuhiro Saitoh as its new chairman on June 25, replacing Cao Xuan Ninh following his resignation over personal reasons.

Eximbank told VnExpress that Ninh tendered his resignation to the board of the bank and the letter was approved even before its annual shareholder meeting on June 30.

Despite the post of Eximbank chairman being changed continuously, the bank asserted that it is performing stably and effectively.

During his tenure, Ninh completed his duties and effectively managed the bank’s operations, according to Eximbank.

In 2019, Eximbank achieved positive results, smoothing the path for its performance in the first quarter of 2020. The bank’s before-tax profit in the first quarter of 2020 soared by 31% year-on-year, while its operation costs reduced by 7%, VietnamPlus news site reported.

Cao Xuan Ninh, 58, took the helm at Eximbank in late May last year, replacing Le Minh Quoc. Meanwhile, at the same time, Yasuhiro Saitoh tendered his resignation to the Eximbank board, but the approval was delayed.

Slow disbursement hinders construction of HCMC’s metro projects

The construction of two metro projects in HCMC is still moving at a snail’s pace, as the capital earmarked for the projects has not yet been duly disbursed, participants stated during an online conference organized by the Ministry of Finance today, June 25.

According to the HCMC Urban Railway Management Board, the first metro project linking Ben Thanh with Suoi Tien has a total investment of over VND43.7 trillion. Once completed in the fourth quarter of 2021, the route will stretch 19.7 kilometers with three underground stations and 11 elevated stations.

Meanwhile, the second metro project will span 48 kilometers from Ben Thanh to Tham Luong. The two projects have been funded by foreign organizations such as JICA, ADB and EIB but are still far behind schedule.

Commenting on the foreign capital disbursement situation in the country earlier, the Finance Ministry said that HCMC has reported a disbursement rate of some 4.13%. It is now facing obstacles in the progress of three projects including the Ben Thanh-Suoi Tien metro, the water environment improvement (second phase), and another environmental plan worth VND4.6 trillion.

If local authorities and relevant ministries coordinate over completing the disbursement for the first metro project, the overall disbursement rate in the city will rise to some 40%, the ministry noted.

Pham Thi Hong Ha, director of the HCMC Finance Department, said the city is developing nine projects using foreign funds, with a combined capital of VND122 trillion. However, only VND1.6 trillion or 10.3% of this year's disbursement target has been disbursed so far.

Explaining the low figure, Ha noted that the local government is seeking approval to revise the construction time and designs of the two metro projects. Currently, the city is reselecting contractors for certain components and renegotiating the signed contracts.

Besides this, foreign experts have yet to join the projects due to travel restrictions amid the Covid-19 pandemic. The second metro project has also seen slow site clearance issues, the official said.

Sovico won't buy 59% stake in Hoa Binh Construction Group: board chairman

Le Viet Hai, chairman of the board of Hoa Binh Construction Group, refuted a rumor stating that Sovico Group will buy a 59% stake in Hoa Binh, at the group’s 2020 general meeting of shareholders on June 24.

Hai said some of the firm's customers, including real estate companies, have expressed their interest in becoming Hoa Binh’s strategic shareholders. “However, Hoa Binh cannot issue shares to raise capital at the moment for several reasons,” he noted.

According to Hai, Hoa Binh does not intend to invite a real estate company to become its strategic shareholder because this will reduce collaborative opportunities and result in a conflict of interest.

The construction group’s board chairman also rebutted a rumor stating that an investment fund will buy Hoa Binh's shares to take over the group.

“Some Hoa Binh shareholders are the group’s customers. However, their stakes are not as high as the rumors indicate,” Hai stated.

“Hoa Binh currently has more than 40 real estate companies as customers. We will not let any of them acquire and take over the group,” he added.

Hoa Binh Construction Group, the biggest real estate group in Vietnam, posted over VND18.6 trillion in net revenue in 2019, up 1.7% year-on-year. However, its after-tax profit was estimated at just some VND417 billion, falling by 34% compared with 2018 and only meeting 58% of the entire year’s target.

Hai said the construction sector has recently faced several challenges and Hoa Binh is no exception.

The group initially expected to earn VND20 trillion in revenue and VND720 billion in profit this year. However, it has lowered its expectations to VND12.5 trillion in revenue and VND125 billion in profit due to the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Vietnam's footwear firms forced to lay off workers due to Covid-19

The coronavirus pandemic has left tremendous impact on Vietnam's footwear industry, with the lack of production orders and the consequent drop in exports forcing them to lay off employees. The situation would worsen if the coronavirus is not put under control in Europe and the United States.

That Hue Phong Leather Shoes Co., Ltd. and PouYuen Vietnam Co., Ltd. have recently fired 2,220 workers and some 2,790 workers, respectively, indicating the severe impact of Covid-19 on their business.

As a major business in HCMC’s Go Vap District with some 4,700 workers, Hue Phong has had to lay off thousands of employees and scale down operations due to declining orders. PouYuen Vietnam has also experienced a similar situation.

Despite measures such as adjusting production and shifts to ensure work for their employees, the limited number of orders in the second half of the year has forced these enterprises to lay off workers. 

Many other businesses in the field are also cutting staff or asking them to take unpaid leave. 

Nguyen Xuan Tu, director of Phuoc Thanh Export, Import, Trading and Production Co., said that some 90% of the company’s production output is for export to Europe. Since Covid-19 broke out in the continent, there has been no demand from the firm's clients in Poland, Austria and Sweden, Tu added. 

“Normally, at this time of the year, we receive orders for three months or even till the end of the year, but there have been no orders from this region so far,” Tu said.

With no direct orders, Tu sought to outsource orders to retain his workers but even this was not enough, forcing his firm to lay off 30% of its employees.

Though the pandemic in Vietnam is essentially under control, the main footwear markets such as the United States and Europe are still struggling with the disease, leading to a lack of demand.

The prolonged suspension of imports in the EU and U.S. markets has severely hit domestic footwear firms, which employ a large number of manual workers. The firms admitted it is impossible to survive or retain staff without orders.

According to Nguyen Chi Trung, chairman of Gia Dinh Group Joint Stock Company, his firm still has some orders for April-June but has seen no new orders from American and European importers, compelling the firm to lay off or give unpaid leave to some 60% of its employees.

Trung said that such difficulties could lead to thousands of people being laid off.

The United States and the EU have been the two major markets of Vietnam’s footwear over the past years and accounted for some 65% of the country’s total export turnover last year.

Massive layoffs have also been seen in the textile-garment and woodwork industries. As there are no orders and import markets are yet to recover, it is impossible to resume production and ensure enough jobs for workers.

Though a large number of workers will be needed once the pandemic is over, businesses are still unable to retain workers amid the current difficulties.

Dong Thap seeks VND900 billion aid to cope with natural disasters

Dong Thap Province has sought Government aid worth some VND902 billion to execute urgent projects aimed at proactively responding to natural disasters and minimizing damages amid the gradual worsening of landslides and a limited local budget.

Vo Thanh Ngoan, deputy director of the provincial Department of Agricultural and Rural Development, submitted the proposal during a meeting with a working team of the Central Steering Committee for Natural Disaster Prevention and Control today, June 24, in Dong Thap.

If the Mekong Delta province receives the funding, it will invest in projects to handle landslides along the Tien River in the province’s Hong Ngu Town and an area in Cao Lanh District’s Binh Hang Commune, with a total investment of an estimated VND555 billion, Ngoan said.

It will also tap VND110 billion from the funding to urgently tackle landslides along the Cai Vung River with a total length of 1,600 meters.

Besides this, the province will build six residential zones and evacuate some 1,190 households from the affected localities to safe areas, which requires some VND347 billion.

During this year to date, the province reported a landslide incident in Thanh Binh District’s An Phong Commune, according to a report of the provincial Committee for Disaster Response and Search and Rescue.

Landslides also hit the inner areas of rice paddies in the three districts of Cao Lanh, Thanh Binh and Chau Thanh, with the total affected length being 213 meters, directly impacting five local households and causing damages worth over VND950 million.

Calling for cryptocurrency investment is illegal: official

A former top police official asked local residents to stay clear of persons calling for investments in cryptocurrencies to avoid being cheated, as drives to mobilize capital for the crypto business are unlawful in Vietnam.

Besides breaking Vietnamese laws, investors in cryptocurrencies could also face risks. Cryptocurrencies or virtual money and payments made using such money are not legally recognized in the country, according to Vu Hoang Kien, former deputy head of the Criminal Police Department, under the Ministry of Public Security.

The police have cracked down on many crypto rings so far. Many investors have been lured through the simple investment procedures and interest rate as high as 90% per month, and have been consequently defrauded for up to hundreds of billion of dong. Some swindlers have even offered an astounding interest rate of 120% per month to attract investors.

Kien advised locals not to be tempted by the high interest rates in the crypto business, as this could mean going against Vietnamese laws and lead to substatial debt for themselves, their families and friends.

According to Nguyen Nam Hao from the Police Department for Corruption, Smuggling and Economic Crimes, despite the many warnings issued on the matter, many locals are still investing in cryptocurrencies.

To date, only the Government’s Decree 96 stipulates administrative fines at VND150 million-VND200 million for individuals that issue, supply and use unlawful payment methods, including Bitcoins and other virtual currencies, noted Hao.

Given the scores of crypto-related fraud cases in the country, the official stated that more stringent and specific regulations need to be issued to minimize the negative impacts associated with cryptocurrency.

Binh Chanh begins demolishing Tram Chim resort

After a long period of suspension due to the Tet holiday and the coronavirus pandemic, Binh Chanh District in HCMC on June 23 restarted tearing down numerous facilities at Gia Trang Quan, also known as the Tram Chim Resort, which was illegally developed in Tan Quy Tay Commune.

A representative from the government of the commune told Thanh Nien Online that the large-scale commercial complex was developed on land which is for agricultural purposes only.

The demolition is aimed at forcing Tran Thi Minh Trang, the owner of the resort, to restore the status of the land covering an area of over 7,260 square meters.

The authorities had earlier demanded that Trang demolish the illegal portions of the resort but she remained defiant, the representative added.

At 8.00 a.m. today, a working team of 200 people and vehicles were dispatched to the resort for the demolition, which is expected to be completed within one week.

Tram Chim Resort, which was built in 2015, comprises 65 guest rooms, 16 karaoke rooms, 13 sauna rooms and many other facilities.

Following a decision to demolish Tram Chim Resort, the Binh Chanh government on November 19, 2019, asked 17 individuals concerned to practice self-criticism as they failed to closely cooperate and address the illegal construction, thus prolonging the entire process.

When the Binh Chanh government began demolishing the construction work at the resort, Tran Thi Minh Trang filed a lawsuit against the district government and demanded that it revoke the Binh Chanh chairman’s decision demanding the illegal facilities at the resort be destroyed. Trang said the demolition has caused heavy losses for her.

Work on Can Gio Bridge to start in 2022

Work on the Can Gio bridge project connecting HCMC’s two outlying districts of Nha Be and Can Gio is set to begin at the end of the first quarter of 2022.

Bui Hoa An, deputy director of the HCMC Department of Transport, said that if the site clearance process goes well, a tender will be opened in early 2022 to select investors for the project.

The bridge is slated for completion in late 2025 or early 2026, An told a meeting between HCMC Party Committee Secretary Nguyen Thien Nhan and the National Assembly deputies of HCMC along with the voters of Can Gio District on June 22.

In March last year, the HCMC government chose a design for the Can Gio bridge project in which the cable-stayed bridge would be supported by a pillar shaped like a mangrove tree, a typical type of plant in Can Gio, in addition to other pillars.

Apart from this, the bridge railing would take the shape of waves.

The 3.4-kilometer bridge, which is designed to have four lanes, is expected to replace the Binh Khanh ferry effectively when it is put into operation. The project requires an estimated investment of some VND5.3 trillion.

Can Gio Bridge will start at the intersection between Street 15B and Street No. 2 in Nha Be District’s Phu Xuan urban area and connect with Rung Sac, 1.8 kilometers south of the Binh Khanh ferry in Binh Khanh Commune, Can Gio District.

The project was initially expected to be executed under either the build-operate-transfer or the build-transfer format, so work on the project would start in September or October 2021.

However, at the ninth sitting in June, the National Assembly passed the Law on Public Private Partnership Investment and eliminated the BT format. As such, it will take the city six more months to adjust the investment plan for the project.

HOSE listing to boost ACB price

The Asia Commercial Bank's (ACB) share price is expected to jump this year, as the lender will move its listing from the Hanoi Stock Exchange to the Hochiminh Stock Exchange, following approval from its shareholders.

And after being traded on the HCMC market for six months, the bank stock is expected to be added to indexes such as VN30, VNDiamond, VNFIN Select and VNFIN Lead, stated Bao Viet Securities Company (BVSC) in a recent report.

Amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, ACB is at a higher advantage than other listed banks as it focuses on credit for individuals and families, not vulnerable sectors such as construction, real estate, tourism, hotels and transport.

This year, ACB targets to gain over VND7.6 trillion in pretax profit, up a slight 2% compared with 2019, while credit is expected to rise 11.75% and mobilization may increase 12%. The bank would strive to maintain the bad debt ratio under 2%.

Despite the modest outlook for 2020, BVSC said, ACB might make a strong recovery in 2021, buoyed by the listing on the HCMC market. Further, an exclusive bancassurance deal, expected to be signed this year, will fetch an abnormal profit and the divestment out of the ACB Securities Company will help boost the share price.

In the first five months of this year, ACB earned some VND3.5 trillion in consolidated pretax profit, meeting 45.8% of this year’s target, with the credit growth rate pegged at 4%.

Quang Nam to house first recreational complex with casino

Hoi An South Development JSC has unveiled its plan to open a recreational center consisting of a casino, a hotel and a golf course on June 28, 2020, as part of its US$4-billion Hoiana complex covering some 1,000ha in Quang Nam Province.

On that day, guests can enjoy cutting-edge entertainment and gaming facilities by Hoiana Suncity, play at Vietnam’s first Robert Trent Jones Jr. designed Hoiana Shores Golf Club or indulge in the first of four luxurious hotels managed by the Rosewood Hotel Group – the Hoiana Hotel & Suites.

Rosewood is managing the renowned New World Saigon Hotel in HCMC.

“With easy access from Danang International Airport and the region’s popular landmarks, we are confident that Hoiana will flourish as a premium lifestyle destination for both domestic and international visitors. With this resort, we will harmoniously blend Vietnam’s rich culture, dynamic energy and genuine hospitality with world-class service and entertainment that the Suncity Group and the Rosewood Hotel Group are known for,” said Steve Wolstenholme, Chief Executive Officer of Hoiana.

According to Hoiana, other parts of the complex are in different investment and construction stages.

The Hoiana complex was granted a revised investment certificate in 2015, with the main investors being the VMS Investment Group, Sun City and VinaCapital.

Vingroup breaks ground on US$1 billion theme park

Vietnam's private conglomerate Vingroup has begun construction on the VinWonders theme park on Vu Yen island off the northern city of Haiphong at an investment of US$1 billion.

A groundbreaking ceremony for the project was held on June 21 and attended by Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc.

As part of an entertainment, housing and eco-park project, VinWonders Vu Yen will cover an area of 50 hectares with six indoor and outdoor entertainment zones. The children's area will have science, sports, virtual reality and thrilling games, while an outdoor water park will be designed to complement the three rivers surrounding the island.

A safari with many rare species will also be built, the first one in the north. Apart from that, VinWonders Vu Yen will also have designated areas for shopping and restaurants.

Addressing the event, Nguyen Viet Quang, vice chairman and general director of Vingroup, said that once completed, the theme park is expected to offer a significant travel experience for local and foreign tourists, as well as help boost the tourism industry of Haiphong in particular and Vietnam as a whole.

Locals have been looking forward to VinWonders Vu Yen for years now, as it will be the city's first large-scale theme park. It is Vingroup’s fourth theme park in the country and the first VinWonders-branded property in the north, noted a Vingroup representative.

Hanoi 2020: pioneering investment attraction post-pandemic

Hanoi needs to be a pioneer in attracting foreign-invested capital inflows post-pandemic, building on its success in controlling the COVID-19 outbreak to forge new momentum for breakthrough growth. 

This was suggested by Vu Tien Loc, chairman of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) at the “Hanoi 2020 – Investment and Development Cooperation” conference organised at the National Convention Centre (NCC) on June 27.

According to Loc, the three key words (investment, development, and cooperation) in the slogan of the event show the vision and strategy of Hanoi in attracting investment capital. It shows the aim to lure stable investment capital based on cooperation and connection with each other.

“The event is organised in the context of Vietnam preparing to handle new investment inflows, thus it is necessary to make Hanoi a pioneer,” Loc said.

So far, Hanoi has prepared favourable conditions to welcome investment projects from both foreign and local investors. The city reported a breakthrough in the provincial competitiveness index (PCI) with a 40-point soar to stay at the top 10 cities and provinces having the highest PCI. In addition, Hanoi and Quang Ninh are pioneers in developing projects under the public-private partnership (PPP) model. It came in at second place in the 2019 Public Administration Reform Index (PAR Index) for the third year in a row with 84.64 per cent. Furthermore, administrative reforms and the implementation of online registration is highly appreciated by investors and enterprises.

At the event, representatives of Hanoi People’s Committee and enterprises signed MoUs with the investment capital of more than $26.07 billion, which are high-quality projects and will create breakthrough growth for Hanoi once implemented.

“However, in order to disburse the entirety of the registered capital and be a pioneer, it is important for city leaders to take good care of existing investors because they are the best emissaries to promote and introduce Hanoi as an investment environment to other global investors,” Loc said.

In the upcoming time, Hanoi should also establish a private task force to co-operate with the government’s task force to implement investment promotion activities as well as other policies to guide and handle new investment.

Hanoi attracted $1.05 billion in foreign-invested capital in the first five months of this year.

 
 

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