VIETNAM'S BUSINESS NEWS HEADLINES SEPTEMBER 1

Mechanism needed to boost cashless payments in Vietnam

Bolstering the use of e-payments is a key trend within Industry 4.0 but experts acknowledge that use in Vietnam is yet to be widespread due to a long-held preference for cash and the lack of a specific legal framework for such payments.

Non-cash payments have become more popular in Vietnam since COVID-19 struck, with growth in e-commerce transactions in the hundreds of percent.

The government has introduced several policies on developing cashless payments but potential is still to be fully tapped due to uncertainties among consumers, especially regarding information security.

Experts say it is necessary to introduce a proper legal framework on cashless payments and a requirement that certain payments, such as taxes and service fees, are only payable online.

Only time will tell whether cashless payments will replace the preference for cash in Vietnam./.

MoIT urges plastic producers to apply for anti-dumping duty exemption

The Ministry of Industry and Trade has urged plastic producers to apply for exemptions from anti-dumping duty on the ministry’s public service e-portal at https://dichvucong.moit.gov.vn or to the Trade Remedies Authority of Vietnam.

Deadline for the submission is 5pm, September 24, 2020.

On July 20, the ministry issued Decision No 1900/QD-BCT about the imposition of official anti-dumping duty on plastics and articles made of polymers of propylene originating from China, Thailand and Malaysia. The official duties ranged from 9.05 percent to 23.71 percent, taking effect from July 23 and valid for five years.

Under the ministry's Circular 37/2019/TT-BCT regulating the application of trade defence instruments, the exemption of anti-dumping duty would be given to imported products which domestic producers could not produce or which could not be replaced by domestically-produced products.

Other items subject to the exemption included imported products which competed directly with domestically-produced products but were not sold in the domestic market and products for which local production did not meet domestic demand.

In order to obtain exemptions from the anti-dumping duty, importers of one of the products eligible for exemption must submit applications regarding the anti-dumping duty.

PetroVietnam subsidiary to drill in Cambodia from October

The PetroVietnam Drilling & Well Service Corporation (PV Drilling)’s rig PV Drilling III will implement its contract to drill five new wells for Kris Energy in Cambodia for three months, starting October.

Meanwhile, the rig PV Drilling II will start a 100-day drilling campaign in Vietnam from September, according to the corporation.

It said from August 2020, a number of tenders for oil drilling this year in Vietnam as well as the Southeast Asian region have become scarce with 26 out of 61 jack-up rigs in the region unemployed.

PV Drilling also suffered the same difficulty when both rigs of PV Drilling II and PV Drilling III had to cease operations in Malaysia from July 2020 and June 2020, respectively, significantly earlier than their contractual plan.

Therefore, PV Drilling will monitor the supply-demand situation in the market to seek new drilling contracts to meet business targets for this year approved at PV Drilling’s general meeting of shareholders.

PV Drilling believes that all of its jack-up rigs would have work next year. Of which, from the second quarter of 2021, its rig PV Drilling V would start to carry out a long-term contract signed with Brunei Shell Petroleum (BSP).

The corporation reported that it gained year on year growth of 64 percent in total revenue during the first six months of this year to 3.18 trillion VND (137.5 million USD). While, its post-tax profit reached 85 billion VND, higher than that of 22 billion VND in the first six months of last year.

Vietnamese firms urged to embrace digital transformation to boost exports

Vietnamese firms regardless of their scale need to get up to speed on digital transformation to enable them to further penetrate global markets, a webinar heard last week.

Tran Phu Lu, deputy director of the Investment and Trade Promotion Centre of HCM City, told the seminar titled Digital Transformation and Key Legal Points to Take Advantage of the EVFTA’s Opportunities in the Current Context that trade disputes and the COVID-19 pandemic have affected global investment and trade, and supply chains have been disrupted.

Vietnam’s trade revenues were down 2.1 percent year-on-year in the first half of the year to 238.4 billion USD, with exports falling 1.1 percent to 121.2 billion USD.

Lu quoted World Bank experts as saying that in the long run, the impacts of COVID-19 and trade tensions could lead to a profound restructuring of global value chains, enabling Vietnamese firms to enter them.

Vietnam is the EU’s 17th largest trading partner and the second largest in Southeast Asia while the EU is one of the country’s major markets, he said.

“The European Union-Việt Nam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA), which has taken effect since earlier this month, is expected to open new doors and create growth momentum for Vietnam’s economy and exporters.

“It is expected to boost digital transformation at Vietnamese companies to enable them to capitalise on opportunities brought by the agreement.”

Vietnam’s exports to the EU last year accounted for only 1.8 percent of the bloc’s total imports, and so there is much room left, especially with the EVFTA removing 85.6 percent of tariff lines, equivalent to more than 70 percent of the country’s exports to the EU.

To succeed in that market, Vietnamese firms need to focus on obtaining market information, improving the quality of their products and services, building and promoting their brands, professionalising sales, and increasing the adoption of advanced technologies.

Besides, their products must meet safety standards as well as social responsibility and intellectual property requirements.

Dr Nguyen Tuan Hoa of the Green Economic Institute, an arbitrator at the Vietnam International Arbitration Centre, concurred with Lữ, saying that to capitalise on the EVFTA, Vietnamese firms need to meet three main criteria: product origin, quality and digital capability.

“EU businesses are 10-15 years ahead of Vietnamese enterprises in terms of digital capacity, and so we must strive to achieve the similar level as them so that we can do business with them.

“Thus, digital transformation is an inevitable process. If we don't do it, we will be left behind.”

Enterprises should start to get acquainted with e-contracts, pay digital taxes and digitalise all business activities, he said.

Digital transformation is the process of creating a new operating method based on digital technologies like IoT, cloud, big data, AI, and blockchain to create new production and business models, he said.

“Successful digital transformation will bring many benefits to businesses such as reducing costs and enabling them to access any market, not just the EU.”

Lawyer Dinh Quang Thuan of the Global Vietnam Lawyers Co. Ltd said the most popular trading method today is the signing of electronic contracts using e-signature technologies and digital signature certification services.

Signing of e-contracts would help businesses save time and costs, especially in the current situation, he said.

In reality, the number of Vietnamese firms signing e-contracts remains modest since they are afraid of legal and security risks and increase in costs, he said.

He expected the signing of e-contracts to increase soon as companies realise the importance of investment in digital transformation to enhance their competitive advantages.

To reduce the risks involved in e-contracts, firms should carefully study their business partners, choose prestigious ones, exchange information via email through clearly registered and owned domain names, he said.

They should consult experts and lawyers before signing e-contracts to help ensure safety, he said.

Lữ said: “In the context of the prolonged epidemic, the use of digital transformation for market access and penetration is vital.

“This is the time for businesses to realise the advantages of the digital economy and the urgent need for digital transformation.”

The webinar was organised by the Investment and Trade Promotion Centre of HCM City and the Vietnam International Arbitration Centre.

Eight-month FDI attraction hits 19.54 billion USD

Vietnam attracted 19.54 billion USD worth of FDI as of August 20, down 13.7 percent year-on-year, according to the Ministry of Planning and Investment.

There were 1,797 new FDI projects licensed, with registered capital totalling 9.73 billion USD, down 25.3 percent in project numbers but up 6.6 percent in value compared to the same period last year. The increase was attributed to the inclusion of the Bac Lieu LNG-to-power project, with investment capital of 4 billion USD, or 41.1 percent of the total.

Meanwhile, 718 existing projects were permitted to raise their investment by more than 4.87 billion USD in total, a 22.2 percent increase year-on-year.

Foreign investors also outlaid 4.93 billion USD on share purchases or capital contributions during the period, down 48.2 percent.

Capital was channelled into 18 sectors, in which manufacturing and processing took the lead after receiving over 9.3 billion USD, or 47.7 percent of the total. It was followed by power production and distribution, with over 4 billion USD, real estate 2.87 billion USD, and wholesale and retail 1.21 billion USD.

Singapore was the largest source of FDI, with a committed 6.54 billion USD, accounting for 33.5 percent of the total. The Republic of Korea and China followed, with 2.97 billion USD and 1.75 billion USD, respectively, then Japan, Thailand, and Taiwan (China).

Of the 59 localities receiving FDI in the first eight months of this year, the Mekong Delta province of Bac Lieu ranked top with 4 billion USD. Hanoi was second with 2.86 billion USD and HCM City third with 2.62 billion USD, followed by Ba Ria-Vung Tau and Binh Duong provinces and Hai Phong city.

Cambodia considers allowing more foreign workers

The Cambodian Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training will now allow foreign workers to make up more than 10 percent of certain enterprises’ staff if companies cannot find local workers to fill positions.

The announcement, signed by Labour Minister Ith Sam Heng in mid-August, said enterprise owners who fall under the scope of Article 1 of the labour law can file a request to employ an increased amount of foreign workers, the Phnom Penh Post reported.

Ministry spokesperson Heng Sour said the decision aims to meet the needs of full-time production chains which operate 24 hours per day, noting that the night entertainment, agriculture and construction sectors are still lacking workers.

According to this ministry’s regulation issued in 2014, enterprise owners or managers must prioritise recruiting Cambodian workers, and foreigners must not account for more than 10 percent of their staff.

However, Executive Director of the country’s Center for Alliance of Labour and Human Rights Moeun Tola said the ministry should not have made this decision because currently, Cambodian citizens returning from abroad are facing unemployment.

Allowing more than 10 percent of foreigners to work seems to open an opportunity to compete between foreign and Cambodian workers, he noted.

Shrimp exporters eye US$3.6 billion target this year

Despite shrinking markets due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Vietnam’s shrimp exports enjoyed robust growth in the past seven months and are projected to rise over the coming months, according to the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers. 

Throughout the reviewed period, the country raked in US$1.9 billion from exporting shrimp products, representing an annual rise of 7.7%.

Notably, the United States kept its position as the leading consumer of Vietnamese shrimp, accounting for approximately 22.8% of the overall market share.

July alone witnessed shrimp exports to the US enjoy an increase of 45.3% compared to the same period last year. Exports to the market over the seven-month period increased by 33% to US$435.2 million on-year.

Furthermore, Vietnamese shrimp also enjoyed a number of competitive advantages in the US market thanks to a sufficient supply, in contrast to other rivals such as India and Ecuador who have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 epidemic.

Elsewhere, Japan became the second largest export market for local shrimp, with exports over the course of the reviewed period witnessing an annual increase of 0.2% to US$329.7 million.

Following a period of decline, the EU market experienced an uptrend trend in July, while the entry into force of the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement is anticipated to increase exports to the EU over the course the remaining months of the year thanks to good sources of raw materials coupled with tax incentives.

In addition, shrimp exports to China grew in July, while exports to the Republic of Korea, the UK, Canada, and Australia enjoyed a double-digit increase. 

Volume of goods through seaports increases

Statistics from the Viet Nam Maritime Administration showed that despite being affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the total output of goods through Vietnamese seaports reached nearly 485.3 million tonnes in the first eight months of this year, representing year-on-year growth of 6 per cent.

The volume of container cargo reached nearly 14 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs), up 8 per cent respectively over the same period last year.

The container cargo reached more than 1.7 million TEUs this month, a year-on-year increase of 7 per cent.

Some seaport areas saw high growth in the volume of goods, such as Quang Tri Port with more than 73 per cent increase, and Quang Ngai over 43 per cent.

The seaport areas in Nam Dinh, Can Tho, Thanh Hoa, and Thai Binh also saw increases of between 20 per cent and 32 per cent over the same period last year. 

Ceramic and porcelain exports to US market lead the way in turnover

The first seven months of the year witnessed the nation’s ceramic and porcelain exports to the United States take the lead in turnover, accounting for 20% of the country’s total exports, a year-on-year rise of 14.7% to US$61.33 million, according to figures released by the General Department of Customs.

Vietnamese ceramic and porcelain products were shipped to over 30 foreign markets during the course of the reviewed period, enjoying an export turnover exceeding US$309 million, representing a boost of 3.4% on-year. 

The US, Japan, and Taiwan (China) remain the markets that make up the largest turnover, accounting for approximately 45% of overall national export turnover.

Japan was the second largest market in terms of ceramic and porcelain exports, making up 15% of all Vietnamese ceramic exports.

Throughout the opening seven months of the year ceramic and porcelain exports faced mixed fluctuations, with some markets, including Argentina, Canada, and Hong Kong (China), suffering a decline of over 50% from the same period last year. Indeed, some of the nations that enjoyed a spike in export turnover were Sweden, China, and Denmark.

Cambodia-Thailand trade still growing despite pandemic

Trade between Cambodia and Thailand hit 82.02 billion THB (2.6 billion USD) in the first half of this year, up 2.27 percent year on year, the Phnom Penh Post reported.

Cambodia Chamber of Commerce Vice President Lim Heng noted the limited scope of cross-border trade restrictions between the two countries during the COVID-19 crisis, adding that the governments mainly restrict the movement of people in a bid to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The total volume of trade between Cambodia and Thailand reached 9.41 billion USD last year, up 12 percent from 8.38 billion USD in 2018.

The majority of Cambodia’s exports to Thailand include gemstones, jewellery, agricultural products and aluminium. Cambodia’s imports from Thailand mainly consist of fuel, motorcycles, cars, gemstones and jewellery.

Meanwhile, Thailand’s two-way trade with its other neighbours plummeted in the first six months, according to data of the Thai Department of Foreign Trade.

Its total cross-border trade fell 9.18 percent in the January-June period on a yearly basis. The bilateral trade with Malaysia sank 26.81 percent, with Laos down 7.09 percent, and with Myanmar down 13.65 percent.

Overseas investment enjoys solid rise during August

Vietnam’s overseas investment in August surged by 2.5 times compared to last July with US$77.3 million in registered capital, according to data released by the Foreign Investment Department under the Ministry of Planning and Investment.

The opening eight months of the year witnessed the total newly granted and adjusted Vietnamese investment abroad reach a figure of US$330.2 million, a rise of 15.8% from the same period last year. 

Most notably, a total of 86 projects were granted new investment registration certificates, with registered capital reaching approximately US$218.5 million, representing an annual increase of 21.3%. In addition, projects had their capital investment adjusted with an additional capital of US$111.8 million, marking a rise of 13.3% on-year.

August alone saw six projects receive new investment registration certificates whilst eight projects had adjusted investment capital, with the overall figure for newly granted and additionally increased investment capital standing at US$ 77.3 million, equal to 47.8% over the same period last year, despite being 2.5 times higher than the level from July.

According to the Foreign Investment Agency, local enterprises made investments abroad across 13 fields during the reviewed period. Indeed, the processing and manufacturing industry took the lead, with 10 new projects and six projects with capital adjustments featuring registered capital of US$ 225.7 million, accounting for 68.4% of total outward investment capital.

Furthermore, accommodation and catering services were in second place with a total investment of US$39.6 million, making up roughly 12%, followed by the wholesale and retail sectors, along with information communication.

Overall 24 countries and territories were recipients of investment from the country during the initial eight months of the year. Of these foreign locations, Germany tops the list with four new investment projects with total capital of US$92.6 million, constituting 28% of total investment capital. Elsewhere, Laos came in second with a sum of US$86.7 million, accounting for 26.3%, followed by Myanmar, the United States, and Singapore.

Despite the impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic, local firms remain active in conducting investments abroad, as indicated by the eight-month figure which stood at a higher level in comparison to the same period last year. Indeed, this 15.8% rise indicates the persistence and strong resilience of displayed by Vietnamese businesses against external shocks.

Thailand’s rice strategy to focus on yield, variety

The Thai government wants to raise the average yield of domestic paddy production to 600 kilogrammes per rai (0.16ha) by 2024 and focus more on premium-grade grains.

Speaking on August 27 after a meeting of the working panel on rice strategy, Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit said higher spending on R&D for rice seeds and variety are desperately needed to raise rice yields to 600kg per rai, the Bangkok Post newspaper reported.

Thailand allocates only 200 million THB a year to R&D on rice seed development, considerably lower than Vietnam, which splurges up to 100 million USD on its rice seed and variety development.

According to the Thai Rice Exporters Association, the world is estimated to produce a total of 500 million tonnes of milled rice in the 2020-21 season, up from 497 million tonnes in the 2018-19 season, with an average yield of 736kg per rai, a gain from 730kg the previous season.

Thailand is projected to produce 20 million tonnes of milled rice in the 2020-21 season with an average yield of only 450kg per rai.

Thailand's productivity is much lower than other rice-producing countries such as Vietnam (934kg per rai), Indonesia (765kg per rai), India (643kg per rai), China (1,128kg per rai) and the US (1,363kg per rai). It is even lower than neighbouring countries: Myanmar (461kg per rai), Laos (518kg per rai), Cambodia (462kg per rai) and Malaysia (642kg per rai).

Jurin said the strategic plan should upgrade the country's logistics efficiency to reduce export costs and competitiveness in the world market.

On the domestic front, the strategy needs to strike a balance between domestic consumption and production as well as water supply development.

Project helps promote Vietnam’s trade, investment policies in Thailand

The Vietnamese Embassy in Thailand on August 28 officially launched the “Window to Vietnam” project - a display area and information counter supporting Vietnam’s commercial, tourism, and investment promotion in the country.

To boost trade, investment, and tourism between the two countries and diversify forms of promotion, “Window to Vietnam” aims to provide information relating to Vietnam’s policies on business, investment, and tourism for Thai and international companies.

According to Vietnamese Trade Counsellor in Thailand Tran Thi Thanh My, Vietnam - Thailand trade relations have seen significant development in recent times and potential remains for the two sides to expand cooperation in the time to come.

The project is hoped to support Vietnamese businesses, especially those looking to make inroads into the Thai market, as well as Thai enterprises operating in Vietnam, promote their image.

 

Trade growth has averaged 13 percent annually over the last decade. Thailand is Vietnam’s ninth-largest foreign investor. Thai visitors to Vietnam increase 20 percent in number each year.

The two sides aim to raise two-way trade turnover to 20 billion USD this year.

Travel between Malaysia and Cambodia to resume via Singapore

Singapore Airlines has secured approval for passengers to travel between Kuala Lumpur of Malaysia, and Phnom Penh of Cambodia, transiting via Singapore, the Khmer Times reported.

Singapore Airlines will run two weekly flights between Phnom Penh and Singapore from September 1, on Tuesdays and Sundays.

Those flying from Phnom Penh to Kuala Lumpur can depart from Phnom Penh International Airport on a Tuesday, transit in Singapore Changi Airport overnight and then catch a connecting flight to Kuala Lumpur International Airport on a Wednesday.

During transit in Singapore, all passengers will be required to remain in the designated transit holding area until they are official escorted to a boarding gate for their connecting flight.

The Cambodian government temporarily banned all flights from Malaysia and Indonesia on August 1. All foreigners will be required to follow strict quarantine conditions once arriving in Cambodia to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 in the country.

They include a 2,000-USD deposit at a bank set up in Phnom Penh International Airport, 14 days in self quarantine at a designated hotel or other agreed venue and a COVID-19 test.

The Cambodian Ministry of Health on August 28 said the country has no coronavirus cases to report for 14 consecutive days and one recovery.

Cambodia has confirmed a total of 273 cases so far, of whom 265 fully recovered.

Upturn seen in Vietnamese squid and octopus exports to China

Vietnamese export of squid and octopus to the Chinese market enjoyed a strong rise of 59% during the first seven months of the year to reach approximately US$22 million.

July alone saw the country’s squid and octopus exports reach a figure of US$4.3 million, a year-on year rise of 84%. 

At present, China represents the fifth largest import market for domestic squid and octopus, making up 7.6% of the nation’s total export value of squid and octopus.

Furthermore, squid and octopus exports to the Republic of Korea (RoK) and China in July witnessed an increase, while exports to Japan and the EU have yet to record positive growth.

Currently, the RoK remains the largest buyer of Vietnamese squid and octopus, accounting for 42.2% of overall sales. This comes following consecutive decreases in previous months, with squid and octopus exports to the RoK during the first seven months of the year suffering a decline of 10.6%, reaching approximately US$123 million.

The Vietnam-Korea Free Trade Agreement, which took effect as of December 20, 2015, also contributes to significantly supporting export activities to the market.

Most notably, squid and octopus exports to the EU registered the sharpest drop of 44% against the same period from last year, to just over US$22 million. This can largely be put down to the illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing yellow card, coupled with the impact of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic.

In the context of complicated developments relating to COVID-19 and the shortage of materials, the import demand of squid and octopus globally, in addition to Vietnamese squid and octopus exports, is predicted to continue declining in the coming time.

As such, the country’s exports of squid and octopus during the course of the year may fall by 18% to roughly US$473 million.

Transparent policies best way to penetrate global value chains

Policy clarification and adjustment are the best methods in which the nation can further integrate into global value chains, according to Ambassador of the EU to Vietnam Giorgio Aliberti, adding that the absence of being part of global supply chains and global trade activities would be a significant limitation for any country.

The EU Ambassador’s remarks came during a meeting held with representatives from the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Vietnam (VCCI), in addition to a large number of EU and Vietnamese enterprises. 

The meeting was held on August 28 in Hanoi and was the first roundtable discussion to take place with the aim of going over the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) and the nation’s further integration into the post-novel coronavirus global value chain.

Ambassador Aliberti stressed that it is necessary to have a profound understanding of global value chains, opportunities, and challenges facing Vietnam. As the EVFTA represents a historic agreement in the relationship between both sides, the deal entered into force on August 1, with a proportion of tariff lines being cut immediately, thereby bringing about a range of economic benefits.

Furthermore, FDI could flow into the Vietnamese market will be even stronger if trade barriers are removed, the EU diplomat believes. Along with greater attracting FDI, the country also needs to calculate their retention rate of FDI enterprises.

Citing a World Bank report published in 2018 through a survey of more than 700 foreign corporate CEOs regarding how they make investment decisions, Ambassador Aliberti said that the CEOs judged free trade agreements (FTAs) like the EVFTA to be important, but not the most important factor. Indeed, 56% of CEOs believed that FTA tariff preferences are important, but the majority of them think that the transparency and policy stability of a country interested in attracting investment is a must, especially in terms of policy response and predictability, in addition to creating a favourable business investment environment.

Foreign experts working in the country also need to stay updated on regulations in the nation, although many Vietnamese policies, decrees, and circulars have yet to be updated in English, making their accessibility challenging whilst policy understanding remains very limited.

Although the nation currently does not need to make all major policy changes, policy adjustments must be in line with EU regulations, because this is a factor that financiers from the EU are very concerned about. Indeed, clarifying and adjusting policies is the best way for the country to further integrate into global value chains, the EU diplomat said.

Trade turnover between the nation and the EU in recent decades has witnessed significant growth, representing a 13.7-fold increase over the decades following 2000. Most notably, Vietnamese exports to the EU over the past five years also recorded impressive growth of 30%, with the EU being the country’s second most important market prior to the signing of the EVFTA.

At present, the consumption of domestic products by FDI enterprises in the nation is not high. This can be seen clearly through the fact that Japanese enterprises in the country only purchase approximately 30% of goods domestically, while the large input source largely comes from China and other markets. This is a key reason of the need to further promote FDI attraction from Europe in an effort to improve the quality of products made in Vietnam.

Saigon Co.op chairman tenders resignation

Diep Dung, board chairman of the Saigon Union of Trading Cooperatives (Saigon Co.op), has tendered his resignation letter to the HCMC Party Committee, reported Thanh Nien newspaper.

In the letter, Dung said that the city’s business and manufacturing performance results as well as its measures to regulate social welfare issues and stabilize commodity prices over the past five years, from 2015 to 2020, have fared well.

However, he wants to resign as he has not fulfilled his role as the head of the Saigon Co.op, especially in terms of tasks assigned by the higher authorities over raising chartered capital leading to multiple irregularities recently discovered at Saigon Co.op, and uniting and leading the Saigon Co.op’s Party committee.

In late July, the HCMC Party Committee decided to suspend Diep Dung from all roles in the Saigon Co.op’ s Party Committee, including as Party secretary.

The municipal Party Committee's Commission for Inspection concluded that Dung had directed the raising of capital and held an annual meeting illegally, violated the Party's rules over personnel affairs and was dishonest with the organization when he was asked to make a report.

A representative from the municipal Party Committee’s Personnel Commission said that the commission has teamed up with the city’s departments and agencies to consider and collect feedback from authorities to deal with the Saigon Co.op leader’s resignation request.

Former executives of PV Oil indicted for illegal gains

The Supreme People’s Procuracy issued an indictment charging Nguyen Xuan Son, aged 61, former PV Oil general director, and Vu Trong Hai, aged 52, former PV Oil chief accountant, with abusing his power and position to misappropriate assets.

The two were allegedly involved in the second phase of the high-profile OceanBank case against Ha Van Tham, former chairman at the bank.

According to the indictment, from 2009 to 2014, PV Oil opened two payment accounts and signed seven fixed-term deposit contracts worth over VND3 trillion with the HCMC branch of OceanBank and received extracontractual interest payments.

The deposits were made following instructions from the Vietnam National Oil and Gas Group to prioritize the use of the bank’s financial services as the State-run oil giant held 20% of its charter capital.

Directed by then-OceanBank chairman Ha Van Tham, Nguyen Minh Thu, the bank’s former general director, paid Son and Hai excess interest payments multiple times.

Between 2013 and 2014, Son was found to have received VND1.9 billion as kickbacks from Thu, while Hai pocketed VND2.1 billion, Thanh Nien Online reported.

Vietnam’s trade revenue estimated to exceed 336.2 billion USD in 8 months

Vietnam's import-export turnover is estimated at 336.32 billion USD in the first eight months, an annual reduction of 0.3 percent, according to the General Statistics Office.

The domestic sector remained a bright spot with its export and import values reaching 60.8 billion USD and 72.05 billion USD, both recording on-year increases of 15.3 and 2.9 percent, respectively.

The eight-month export turnover was about 174.11 billion USD. There were 27 products reeling in over 1 billion USD each. They included phone and components (31.5 billion USD); electronic devices, computers and components (27.6 billion USD); and apparels (19.2 billion USD). However, most of agricultural products saw a reduction in their export revenue.

The US was the biggest importer of Vietnam, purchasing goods worth 46.7 billion USD, an annual growth of 19 percent. The market was followed by China (27 billion USD), the EU (22.9 billion USD), the Republic of Korea (RoK) (12.6 billion USD), and Japan (12.5 billion USD).

The country’s import in the period, meanwhile, was estimated at 162.21 billion USD, down 2.2 annually. Vietnam spent 151.6 billion USD and 10.55 billion USD on buying production materials and consumer goods overseas, down 1.7 percent and 9.2 percent on year, respectively.

China was the biggest exporter of Vietnam, with its turnover estimated at 49.3 billion USD, followed by the RoK (28.7 billion USD) and ASEAN member countries (19.4 billion USD)./.    

Conference promotes RoK investment in Quang Ninh

Representatives of large companies from the Republic of Korea (RoK) took part in a recent conference promoting investment in the northeastern coastal province of Quang Ninh.

Incentives for investors at local industrial parks and economic zones, and potentials of the province were among the topics at the event.

Speaking at the conference, Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Nguyen Van Thang said Quang Ninh considers the RoK a key market to attract investment to local projects, particularly those on industrial infrastructure building, processing-manufacturing, advanced technologies, and support industry.

The province priporitises quality foreign direct investment projects that use advanced technologies, save environmental resources, and follow the sustainable socio-economic development, he said.

Jeong Woo Jin, RoK Deputy Ambassador to Vietnam, described the province a promise land for economic groups and enterprises in Vietnam and overseas, lauding its completed infrastructure, open policies, and administrative reform.

At the event, the Quang Ninh Investment Promotion Agency and the Korea International Cooperation Agency signed a memorandum of understanding on trade promotion cooperation, under which the sides will support each other in organising related conferences and workshops and sending working delegations to their respective nations.

Vietnam’s outbound investment up nearly 16 percent in eight months

Vietnam invested a total of 330 million USD abroad in the first eight months of this year, up 15. 8 percent year-on-year, the Ministry of Planning and Investment reported.

Of that number, 218.4 million USD was poured into 86 new projects and the remaining 111.8 million USD pledged to 25 existing projects.

The largest share of Vietnamese investment was injected into manufacturing and processing with 225.7 million USD. Coming second was lodging and catering services with 39.6 million USD, followed by wholesale and retail sector, and auto and motorbike repairs, 19.6 million USD.

Among the 24 countries and territories where Vietnamese investors were active in the eight months, Germany was the largest with 92.6 million USD, followed by Laos, 86.7 million USD; Myanmar, 44.6 million USD; and the US, 40.8 million USD.

ASEAN prioritises RCEP signing by year’s end

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has agreed to prioritise its signining of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) with six free trade partners by the end of this year.

The six partners are China, the Republic of Korea, Japan, India, Australia, and New Zealand.

The information was unveiled by Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh at an August 30 press conference on the 52nd ASEAN Economic Ministers' Meeting and related meetings.

According to the minister, most of the major issues in the RCEP negotiations have been handled satisfactorily, with ASEAN ministers giving specific directions, including those on legal review, to boost preparation for the signing and to facilitate the engagement of India in the process.

There is a need for another conference this October to review the preparation before reporting the work at the ASEAN Summit in the following month, he added.

The official said the pact is always a prioritised content in Vietnam’s integration strategy.

The RCEP deal aims to establish common rules for e-commerce, trade and intellectual property. It will cover a third of the global economy and half the world's population, if India is included, with its GDP accounting for 32 percent of the global GDP.

Concerning the 52nd ASEAN Economic Ministers' Meeting and related meetings that ran from August 22 to 29, the minister said it was the most important event of the bloc’s economic channel this year.

At the their meeting, ASEAN economic ministers agreed to continue carrying out initiatives and economic priorities set by Vietnam as the Chair of ASEAN this year. Two initiatives on ASEAN digital integration indicator and terms of reference (TOR) on connecting ASEAN innovation centres have been completed, while the remaining 11 ones are under implementation to be done by year’s end.

In addition, ASEAN member nations approved the import tariff in implementing the ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement (ATIGA); completed procedures for the signing of the ASEAN Mutual Recognition Arrangement on Type Approval for Automotive Products (AP MRA); and agreed to conduct the ASEAN-Wide Self Certification Scheme (AWSC) starting September 20 this year.

They also discussed and sought solutions to the implementation of the ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint 2025 in line with the new regional context as well as orientations to build a master plan for ASEAN’s post-pandemic economic recovery.

Their discussions also covered the enhancement of cooperation between the bloc and a number of partners like Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the UK.

Economic ministers from ASEAN member nations and the three partners of China, Japan, and the Republic of Korea (known as ASEAN +3) passed an action plan on easing COVID-19 economic impact and a joint initiative on economic connection to fight the pandemic.

The ASEAN ministers agreed to maintain open trade and investment market, limit the application of unnecessary trade barriers, increase measures to facilitate trade to stabilise production, and sustain supply chain linkages.

Experienced investors still interested in property market: experts

Experienced investors continue to pour money into the real estate market despite the problems the COVID-19 pandemic has caused for the sector.

Most property experts said the real estate market would be able to recover after the pandemic, adding investors do not want to invest in the real estate market amid difficulties but have faith it will rebound at a certain point.

Experienced investors would see the business opportunity in the difficult period while small investors would wait for market recovery, they said.

Ha Van Thien, deputy general director of real estate firm Tran Anh Group, said in the previous real estate market crisis, investors that researched carefully found opportunities with reputable property developers.

Pham Thanh Hung, vice chairman of Cen Group, also said like many other economic sectors, the real estate sector was affected by the pandemic, so prices in this market have levelled off after a period of high prices but not reduced.

The real estate market is entering a new period only for medium and long term investors. Some projects in regions with infrastructure projects, in urban areas with full facilities and in industrial zones have growth potential, according to Hung.

Also assessing real estate prices will increase sharply in the medium and long term, Duong Duc Hien, former Director of Sales Department of Savills Vietnam, said in the past 40 years, real estate prices on the domestic market had not once decreased.

Although the market had fluctuated depending on each period, in the long term, real estate prices would always go up because the population would always be increasing while land would not expand. "People always need housing products and in addition, costs related to land are on the rise," he said.

According to the experts, the difficulties in the property market this year will contribute to market purification for sustainable development in the future. At present, the market opens up business opportunities for property investors and buyers that have real demand. The market's challenge is temporary in the short term, while opportunities on this market are in the long term.

Vietnam’s CPI index goes up slightly in August

Vietnam’s consumer price index (CPI) slightly went up 0.07 percent month-on-month in August due to the impacts of heavy rainfalls nationwide and rise in domestic rice and education service prices, reported the General Statistics Office on August 29.

The figure was down 0.12 percent from December and up 3.18 percent annually.

On eight-month calculation, the index rose by 3.96 percent year-on-year, the highest in the past five years.

Among 11 categories of goods and services, seven saw rising prices, including food and dining services up 0.11 percent, beverages and cigarettes 0.05 percent, housing and construction materials 0.1 percent, medicines and medical services 0.02 percent, transportation 0.1 percent, education 0.18 percent, goods and other services 0.2 percent.

Three others posted decrease in prices, including apparel, headwear and footwear 0.03 percent, post and telecommunications 0.05 percent, entertainment and tourism 0.2 percent.

Hike of school tuition for 2020-2021 academic year also pushed up education prices index by 0.18 percent from the previous month.

Exchange rate between Vietnamese dong and US dollar dropped by 0.08 percent, standing at 23,288 VND per US dollar on the free market.

50 Korean CEOs seek greater investment opportunities in Quang Ninh

The Investment Promotion Agency of Quang Ninh province and the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) have signed a memorandum of understanding on Korean investment promotion co-operation within the locality.

The signing of the document came during a conference held on investment and business promotion in the province's Ha Long city on August 29, with 50 Korean CEOs from major groups in attendance.

For Quang Ninh, the Republic of Korea (RoK) represents a lucrative potential market in which to promote investment attraction, especially in the fields of industrial park infrastructure construction, processing and manufacturing projects, high-technology applications, supporting industries, and production of electronic equipment components.

Throughout the meeting, representatives from international organisations based in the RoK such as KCCI and KOTRA, along with CEOs of large groups such as SK Vietnam, Hyundai Motor, LG International, and Lotte, spoke highly of Quang Ninh's huge potential. Indeed, they noted the province’s many advantages, as seen through the transparency in the investment and business environment, enterprise accompanying culture, and the constantly-improving quality of its human resources.

Throughout the nation’s battle against the novel coronavirus pandemic, Quang Ninh has been supporting a team of high-quality experts, businessmen, and engineers from the RoK who serve as contributors to the common goal of pushing back the raging pandemic whilst maintaining socio-economic development.

The Investment Promotion Agency of Quang Ninh province and the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) sign a memorandum of understanding on Korean investment promotion co-operation in the province.

Lee Bum-sil, deputy general director of an electronic component company operating in the province, said, "Quang Ninh has a convenient traffic location, with a highway connecting ports that serve import and export activities, and an abundance of young human resources which are very good conditions for investment."

Economic experts and financiers at the event shared their experience in renewing investment promotion methods and their priorities aimed at improving the efficiency of attracting Korean investment capital flows into Quang Ninh.

Most notably, provincial leaders pledged to provide the maximum level of support in terms of procedures, land funds, infrastructure, human resources, and plans to open regular flights between Van Don International Airport and Seoul in the near future.

Yun Ok-hyun, Chief Representative of the KCCI, stated, "This is a great opportunity for Korean businesses to expand investment cooperation. We will continue to send many survey delegations to Quang Ninh with a view to learning about its strengths and advantages to expand the investment co-operation network with the province".

To mark the occasion, LS Electric Vietnam Co., Ltd, a member of the LS Electric Group in the RoK, donated 1,500 sets of SARS-CoV-2 diagnosis and test products to Quang Ninh with a value of approximately VND800 million.

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

 
 

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