VIETNAM'S BUSINESS NEWS HEADLINES SEPTEMBER 23

Leather & footwear sector unlikely to meet US$24bln export target

The Vietnamese leather & footwear sector is finding it difficult to fulfil the US$24 billion export target this year due to shrinking markets globally, according to Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT).

In its September update, the MoIT reports that the leader and footwear sector obtained a 2.9% increase in its export revenue compared to July, but a 3.6% drop from the same period last year.

Overall, the sector’s 8-month export value declined 8.6% year on year to US$10.9 billion, threatening it with the target of earning US$24 billion from exports this year.

Shoemakers have felt the pinch of the novel coronavirus as the COVID-19 pandemic caused foreign consumers to tighten their belt in consumption.

Many of Vietnam’s leading shoe consumers such as the United States, China, Japan, Belgium and Germany cut down on imports compared to the previous months.

An official of the Vietnam Leather, Footwear and Handbag Association (Lefaso) says that material is no longer a problem for business at the moment, but seeking consumers is a pressing mater to be dealt with.

Difficulties in sales have forced businesses to scale down their production capacity by 40-50%, said the official, revealing their export plan relies greatly on orders on a monthly basis.

According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the leather and footwear sector is anticipated to continue encountering difficulty in the remaining months of the year as it depends a lot on the recovery of the US and EU markets which have begun to bear the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) which came into effect on August 1 this year is considered the driving force behind the sector’s growth. However, experts say it is not easy to make the most of the trade deal as the sector only enjoys 35-40% of the value of which 25-30% is used to pay labour costs and 5% is for foreign trade delivery costs.

Currently, the sector has more than 1,700 businesses, 85% of which have limited capital and technology, and they mainly rely on material imports. To take advantage of the EVFTA, experts say the sector has no choice but to successfully build a synchronized production and supply chain of raw materials.

Bac Ninh ensures quality of mid Autumn festival goods

To better control the production and sale of goods during the upcoming Mid Autumn Festival, the Market Surveillance Department in Bac Ninh province has increased its inspection efforts since the beginning of September and bolstered measures to prevent the appearance of counterfeit products and ensure food safety.

This toy market is enjoying its busiest time of the year as Mid Autumn Festival draws closer, with many people looking to buy gifts for their children gifts. The Bac Ninh province’s Market Surveillance Department has increased its monitoring of the quality and origin of toys in particular and goods in general.

 Mooncakes are also a hot item right now, and the Market Surveillance Department has carried out inspection at stores selling and facilities producing the Mid-Autumn treat. Such facilities must strictly abide by food safety requirements.

In the first eight months of 2019,  inspections by Bac Ninh authority has resulted in fines of up to 3.5 billion VND being imposed on 600 violations, while 3.5 billion VND worth of goods were confiscated.

Local authority has also warned local people to select goods with clear origin aand good quality to protect their health.

Work starts on industrial cluster, automobile factory in Ha Nam

Construction on the Chau Giang Industrial Cluster, worth 475 billion VND (21 million USD), kicked off recently in the northern province of Ha Nam.

Financed by Hong Duc Automobile Manufacturing Industry JSC, the cluster covers an area of nearly 40ha in Duy Tien town. It aims to lure more investors to the province, thus speeding up provincial socio-economic development.

The same day, the JSC also started construction of its automobile assembly and manufacturing factory in the cluster.

The 22ha factory has a total investment capital of over 2.27 trillion VND. Its goal is to produce and assemble cars with up to nine seats, provide maintenance and repair services for automobiles and other motor vehicles.

The two projects are slated for completion in late 2021.

In his speech at the ground breaking ceremony, the provincial People's Committee chairman Nguyen Xuan Dong praised the two projects, saying that once operational, they will help meet the needs of the market and contribute to improving the province's industrial production value chain.

Dong said he hoped that the projects would also help attract supporting enterprises in the automobile industry to invest in the locality, contributing to the State budget and creating more jobs.

The chairman also requested relevant departments and sectors to create the most favourable conditions for the investor in implementing its projects.

Hyundai Thanh Cong 2 automobile plant breaks ground in Ninh Binh

Thanh Cong Group and Hyundai Motor co-held a ground-breaking ceremony for an automobile manufacturing facility which has designed capacity of 100,000 units per year, in the northern province of Ninh Binh on September 20.

The new Hyundai Thanh Cong 2 plant (HTMV 2) will raise Hyundai’s total automobile output in Vietnam to 170,000 units per year once it is put into operation.

The facility is constructed on a ground of 50 hectares at Gian Kham Industrial Park in Gia Vien district at an estimated cost of 3.2 trillion VND (over 138 million USD).

The first phase of the project is expected to complete in June 2022, and the second in June 2025.

The factory will use green energy as well as environmentally-friendly technology for auto manufacturing that allows its products to reach European emission standards Euro 5.0 and Euro 6.0.

Speaking at the event, Director-General of Thanh Cong Group Le Ngoc Duc said Hyundai Thanh Cong 2 is expected to help boost Ninh Binh’s socio-economic growth and strongly develop the country’s automotive industry.

Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Dinh Van Dien, meanwhile, pledged to provide all possible conditions for the group to complete the project.

Malaysia’s domestic tourism grows 12 percent

Malaysia’s domestic tourism continued to record better performance last year, recording a double-digit growth of 12 percent to 92.6 billion RM (22.4 billion USD), according to Bernama news agency.

Chief statistician Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Uzir Mahidin said for the first time since 2005, the contribution of domestic tourism expenditure outpaced the inbound tourism expenditure in 2019.

The Department of Statistics Malaysia said the contribution of domestic tourism spending towards overall tourism consumption increased to 50.9 percent from 48.6 percent in the preceding year.

The better performance was supported by shopping activities, which were the largest component with a contribution of 42.1 percent, followed by the purchase of automotive fuel (16.7 percent) and food and beverage (15.9 percent), it said.

Mohd Uzir said this expansion reflects Malaysians are increasingly interested to travel within the country, as well as spending on local tourism products.

This trend can also be seen in 2020 whereby the domestic tourism segment becomes vibrant following the COVID-19 pandemic that hit the world which resulted in the closure of international borders by the government for all tourism activities, he added.

Meanwhile, the inbound tourism expenditure increased to 89.6 billion RM in 2019 from 87.7 billion RM a year earlier, with a growth of 2 percent compared to 2.3 percent in 2018.

The contribution of the tourism sector to the economy is measured by the Gross Value Added of Tourism Industries (GVATI) which recorded a contribution of 15.9 percent compared to 15.2 percent in 2018.

Indonesia, US strengthen cooperation in infrastructure financing

Indonesian Minister of Finance Sri Mulyani Indrawati and his US counterpart Steven T. Mnuchin remotely completed the signing of the Cooperation Framework to Strengthen Infrastructure Finance and Market Building on September 18.

The deal is a joint effort of the two countries in encouraging the private sector to support infrastructure project, and creating favourable conditions for the development of the financial market thus providing more investment to infrastructure expansion.

The initiative is expected to deal with capital demands amidst Indonesia’s developing infrastructure system.

Indonesian financial officials held that the cooperation is suitable to the National Medium Term Development Plan of Indonesia.

It is also expected to help strengthen cooperation between the two countries.

Khanh Hoa province to kick-start tourism in the fourth quarter

The central coastal province of Khánh Hòa plans to gradually revive domestic travel starting in the fourth quarter and reopen to international tourism in the first quarter of next year.
 
The provincial Department of Tourism, said the tourism supply chain in Khánh Hòa has remained in operation during the second wave of COVID-19 since the province is not considered to be at high risk.

The province would focus on drawing domestic tourists back in the fourth quarter of the year and next year as the COVID-19 pandemic comes under control in Việt Nam.

The department plans to resume its domestic travel stimulus programme and introduce new MICE and leisure travel packages to attract family and friend groups from Hà Nội, HCM City, the Mekong Delta, and the Central Highlands.

The tourism authority hopes to welcome 350,000 visitors in the fourth quarter, including 10,000 foreigners.

Bac Giang province striving to improve business climate

The northern province of Bac Giang has viewed to improve its business climate as a priority in recent times, with the local government deploying numerous measures to that end.
 
This company works as a business consultant on environmental issues, which calls for it to work closely with local authorities in support of its clients. This task used to be quite a headache, but now it couldn’t be easier.

COVID-19 has impacted greatly on many firms, and those in Bac Giang have received timely support from the local government.

Improving the business environment is among the priorities Bac Giang adopted for 2020. In order for this to happen, the local People’s Committee has established a task force specialising in receiving and processing queries and complaints from local enterprises.

The provincial People’s Committee has also developed a scheme on improving the competitiveness of local authorities in the 2020-2025 period, which is known as the DDCI scheme for short. This expresses the province’s determination to improve the local business climate.

With the DDCI scheme, Bac Giang aims to create a favourable climate for companies with operations in the province.

Quang Binh: Construction starts on nation’s largest inland wind farm

Work started on the nation’s largest wind farm in the central province of Quang Binh on September 20.

An online ground-breaking ceremony was held on September 20 to kickstart the construction of the B&T wind farm cluster. (Photo: baodautu.vn)

An online ground-breaking ceremony was held yesterday to kickstart the construction of the B&T wind farm cluster, which has received investment from the joint venture AMI AC Renewables at a total value of VND8.9 trillion (US$384.6 million).

Considered the largest wind power project on land in Vietnam at present, the 2,244 ha project is being deployed in the two districts of Quang Ninh and Le Thuy in Quang Binh.

The project consists of two wind farms, with the first one, B&T 1, will have a capacity of 100.8 MW and is expected to commence operations this December, while the second farm, B&T 2, will have a capacity of 151.2 MW and is scheduled for completion next June.

Construction for the project is divided into three packages, including the provision, transport and operation of 50 turbines by the Dutch-based contractor Vestars; the construction of the turbine foundation and wire system by Vietnamese Facon Vietnam Construction JSC; and the construction of a 220kv substation and transmission line by V.Tech Vietnam Co., Ltd.

According to Chairman of the Quang Binh People’s Committee Tran Cong Thuat, the project is expected to supplement the local electricity sources, help ensure national energy security, and contribute VND120 billion to the provincial budget annually.

Along with that, the project would become a tourist highlight and help increase the province’s prestige in attracting major investors to Quang Binh, Thuat added.

Deputy PM orders more efforts in IUU fishing prevention

Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung has asked ministries, sectors and 28 coastal localities to focus on implementing directions and guidelines relating to illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing prevention, thus effectively realising European Council’s recommendations in the field.

According to a notification released by the Government Office regarding the conclusion of the Deputy PM during the fourth meeting of the National Steering Committee on IUU Fishing Prevention that took place on September 8, Dung called for efforts to put an end to fishing activities in foreign waters, which is a condition for consideration of the removal of “yellow card”.

The head of the National Steering Committee on IUU Fishing Prevention also requested the Ministry of Defence to strengthen patrol and supervision in border waters, while coordinating with ministries, sectors and the 28 localities to control and inspect fishing vessels to make sure they have full legal documents and equipment. Meanwhile, the Public Security needs tofocus on inspecting and handling violations in the field.

The Deputy PM urged the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to speed up negotiations and signing of agreements on demarcation of special economic zones between Vietnam and other countries to lay a foundation for the ensuring of security and safety for fishing activities. All disputes on the waters should be settled on the basis of diplomatic negotiations, he stressed.

The official also asked ministries, sectors and the People’s Committees in the 28 coastal localities to coordinate with authorised agencies to investigate and handle violations in fisheries, especially illegal fishing on foreign waters.

The Ministry of Information and Communications should promptly prepare plans to give free support and frequency cost to fishing vessels to install vessel monitoring system (VMS) tracking device. Coastal localities should complete the installation of VMS on fishing vessels, he directed.

The EC has recognised and lauded commitments and efforts of Vietnam in fighting IUU fishing.However, the EC commented that the improvement remains slow as the installation of the VMS devices has yet to reach expected progress, and illegal fishing activities in foreign waters have still happened, said the notification./.

US-Cambodia trade hikes by 17 percent in eight months

Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen has shared his pride over the growing bilateral trade between Cambodia and the US despite the COVID-19 pandemic, saying that two-way trade saw an annual hike of 17 percent in the first eight months of this year.

In a videoconference on September 21 with the US-ASEAN Business Council (USABC) led by its President and CEO Alexander Feldman, Hun Sen informed the USABC delegation that although the COVID-19 epidemic has been causing many difficulties to the functioning of social and economic life, the Government of Cambodia has not slowed down its reform in all fields.

In order to attract more investors, especially when the COVID-19 situation eased, Cambodia is preparing to improve the investment law and new incentive system that is comprehensive and attractive for the electronics industry, farm produce processing, supporting industries, and so on, he stressed.

At the same time, he continued, Cambodia will sign the Cambodia-China Free Trade Agreement soon, hoping that this will play an important role in making Cambodia a destination for US companies looking for new production locations in Southeast Asia.

Over the past nine months, the world has been fighting against COVID-19, which has caused an unprecedented social and economic crisis, but for Cambodia, the Government has effectively managed the situation.

The country has so far not seen any community infection, and had no national shutdown even though the pandemic has created acute challenges, especially to the textile, tourism, aviation and service sectors, he said./.

Philippines may lose in banana export race

The Philippines may lose in the banana export race amid continued stiff competition in the global market, prompting the government to allocate some 263 million peso (12.49 million USD to save the local banana industry.

Philippine Agriculture Secretary William Dar has instructed agricultural attaches in China, the Republic of Korea, and Thailand to monitor the global situation as other banana-producing countries continue to take other markets from the Philippines.

The country’s banana exports went down by 11 percent to 1.03 billion USD from January to July due to Panama disease or fusarium wilt, affecting banana farms and plantations in Mindanao.

Last July, the Philipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association Inc. (PBGEA) projected that the industry is looking at a big drop of as much as 20 percent in volume to 162.2 million boxes from last year’s 195.5 million boxes. This is more or less equivalent to 1.65 billion USD export sales, down 15 percent from last year’s 1.95 billion USD.

Bananas comprised 30 percent of the total value of agriculture exports of 6.39 billion USD in 2019. The Philippines remains the world’s second largest banana producer, following Ecuador./.

Austrian commerce official impressed by Vietnam’s development

Regional Manager for Asia-Pacific of the Austrian Chamber of Commerce (WKO) Johannes Brunner has expressed his impression on Vietnam’s development, especially its positive economic growth in the first eight months of this year despite the impacts of COVID-19 pandemic.

Addressing a ceremony marking the 75th anniversary of Vietnam’s National Day (September 2) in Vienna on September 19, Brunner said trade between Austria and Vietnam remains stable despite the pandemic since the beginning of this year, adding that once the pandemic is under control, the two countries’ businesses will have a chance to explore each other’s markets and seek opportunities with the taking effect of the European Union - Vietnam Free Trade Agreement and the coming launch of the WKO Office in Ho Chi Minh City.

Vietnamese Ambassador to Austria Le Dung highlighted Vietnam’s economic achievements and rising stature over the past years. In the first eight months of this year, trade between Vietnam and Austria reached 2.2 billion USD and Austria became the fifth largest trade partner of Vietnam in Europe.

On the occasion, he also thanked the Austrian Government for creating favourable conditions for the Vietnamese community in the country.

About multilateral diplomacy, Dung said Vietnam has fulfilled its role as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, ASEAN Chair 2020, and Chair of the ASEAN Vienna Committee with the task of coordinating activities of member states at multilateral forums. Cooperation between Vietnam and international organisations in Vienna has become increasingly closer.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Vietnam worked closely with and received support from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to adopt nuclear technology in the development of SARS-CoV-2 vaccine, which partly helped the country effectively curb the pandemic with over 1,000 infection cases since its outbreak and mitigate community transmissions, he said./.

Fresh fruit-herb processing factory comes into operation in Son La

A fresh fruit and herb processing factory has officially come into operation in Van Ho district, the northern mountainous province of Son La.

The factory which has investment of 1.2 trillion VND (53 million USD) is being developed in two phases.

The construction of the first phase started in January, 2018.

The first phase worth 300 billion VND and will process fruits such as orange, longan, mango and passion fruit with an annual capacity of 300 tonnes of products, all being sold to other fruit juice producers.

Meanwhile, the second phase with investment of 900 billion USD expected to be put into operation after 2025 will provide several kinds of canned fruit juices.

Speaking at the ceremony on September 20, leaders of Son La province and TH Group pledged to comply with the objectives set out, contributing to soon turning Son La into a high-quality agricultural processing centre in the northern mountainous region, as well as supporting farmers in promoting hi-tech agricultural production to considerably reduce poverty rates in the locality./.

Bac Ninh: Tripartite cooperation programme to boost supporting industry

The Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT), the People’s Committee of Bac Ninh province, and Samsung Electronics Vietnam have jointly signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on a programme to support Vietnamese businesses operating in the northern province.

The signing ceremony on September 21 was witnessed by Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung.

Vice Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Dao Quang Khai said that Bac Ninh has so far attracted nearly 1,600 FDI projects with combined registered capital of 19.8 billion USD, in which projects from the Republic of Korea account for over 60 percent and Samsung alone makes up nearly half of all registered investment, at 9.3 billion USD.

The province has worked with Samsung in recent times to carry out a range of activities to assist other enterprises. However, Khai said, the cooperation mechanism between the two is not sufficiently strong to gain effective support, while many domestic businesses are also not strong enough to participate in supply chains, and connectivity between them and Samsung remains weak.

Under the MoU, the programme will be implemented from 2020-2025 and include two parts: a business improvement consultation sub-programme and another to develop a network of suppliers.

The programme aims to gradually increase the contribution of Vietnamese businesses operating in Bac Ninh in the industrial production value created by Samsung.

With the consultation sub-programme, Samsung will help Vietnamese enterprises in Bac Ninh improve their competitiveness through bettering production and managing quality.

Under the sub-programme to develop a network of suppliers, local enterprises are given priority to supply products and services, in the fields that the province has strength such as food, agricultural products, medical services, supporting industrial products, and transport, if they meet Samsung’s requirements on suppliers. If ensuring Samsung’s standards, Vietnamese suppliers will have chances to provide high-value spare parts with big volumes.

Samsung Vietnam General Director Choi Joo Ho affirmed that Samsung Vietnam will intensify collaboration with the Vietnamese Government and authorised offices to expand activities to develop supporting industries.

The signing of the programme forms a premise for Samsung to share its experience with supporting industry enterprises in Bac Ninh and to help them ensure competitiveness in production, he added.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, Deputy PM Dung said that the Vietnam-RoK relationship is flourish with the two countries setting up their strategic partnership in 2009. The RoK is Vietnam’s biggest foreign investor and its second largest trading partner and ODA provider. Meanwhile, Samsung is the biggest foreign investor in Vietnam which has made huge contributions to the country’s economic development, generated many jobs and actively participated in social welfare activities.

 

Over the past years, Bac Ninh has paid special attention to renewing its investment climate and is one of the localities attracting the most foreign investment of Vietnam, he assessed.

The Deputy Prime Minister noted that Vietnam’s supporting industries still exhibit shortcomings such as small scale, few products, high prices, and low competitiveness.

He expects this newly-signed programme to help resolve these shortcomings and serve as a model for other enterprises to learn from.

He assigned the MoIT and other ministries and sectors to focus on resolving difficulties facing businesses, especially those relating to capital and human resources.

The Government official expressed his hope that Samsung will continue assisting Vietnam in developing enterprises operating in supporting industry, increasing product values and increase the proportion of domestically-made products so as to make Vietnam one of the biggest supplier in Samsung’s production chain.

The Vietnamese Government has pledged to always support cooperation between ministries, localities, and major groups in carrying out programmes helping businesses to develop supporting industries, Dung added.

An agreement on providing technical assistance for potential suppliers in Bac Ninh was also signed at the event./.

Oxford Economics: Malaysia’s economy could shrink by 6 percent in 2020

Malaysia’s economy is forecast to shrink by 6 percent this year due to the impacts of COVID-19 pandemic, but it will rebound 6.6 percent next year, according to the Global Economic Outlook report from Oxford Economics.

In its report issued on September 21, Oxford Economics said though the nationwide movement control order in Malaysia compounded the economic damage in the second quarter, the payoff has been apparent, with the pandemic situation currently in hand, which will aid the economy in regaining its footing.

Malaysia’s exports would benefit from improving Chinese import demand and the electronics cycle. Nonetheless, the speed of its recovery will likely slow given current sluggish global demand, high unemployment and weak investment, it said.

The report also said though the Recovery Movement Control Order has been extended to December 31, almost all sectors have been allowed to operate.

However, only a small number of sectors are still restricted such as night clubs and entertainment centres.

The restricted entry of foreign tourists has also caused difficulties for the tourism sector, which contributes to 15.2 percent of the country’s gross domestic product./.

RoK firm wins contract for No.1 section of Philippines' north-south railway project

The Republic of Korea’s Hyundai Engineering & Construction Company (Hyundai E&C) on September 21 won a contract for the construction of the No. 1 section of the North-South Commuter Railway project worth 573 million USD in the Philippines.

The railway extends 52km from Malalos, north of capital Manila, to Clark. The project has five packages. The section that Hyundai E&C is building covers two ground-level stations and a 17km elevated bridge. Completion is expected to take 48 months.

Through the project, the Government of the Philippines aims to improve accessibility in the country by shortening the travel time between Manila and Clark. It also hopes to solve the traffic congestion issue in the capital region and decrease travel expenses as well as carbon dioxide emissions.

The opening of the railway is expected to help the local tourism industry by creating jobs in system operation./.

Vietnam spends 202 million USD importing automobiles in August

Vietnam imported 8,800 cars of various types worth 202 million USD in August, a surge of 85.6 percent compared with the previous month, according to a report from the General Department of Customs.

Thailand had the highest volume with more than 4,700 units. It was followed by Indonesia with 2,500 cars and China with 570 cars. The automobiles from the three countries accounted for nearly 90 percent of the country’s total imports.

Of the imports, the number of cars with nine seats or less were 6,136 units worth 127 million USD, accounting for 69.4 percent of the total, an increase of 91.6 percent month-on-month.

The import of trucks gained 2,200 units worth 55.7 million USD, up 167 percent in volume, and 176 percent in value. Meanwhile, special-purposed vehicles reached 483 cars worth 19.6 million USD.

Although August imports sharply increased, it could not raise the total volume of automobiles in January-August, which decreased by 44.3 percent year-on-year to 53,800 units, due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Of which, cars with nine seats or less were 39,600 units, down 46.9 percent, and trucks were 10,759 units, down 47.8 percent./.

WB: Most economic, financial indicators prove Vietnam’s resilience amid COVID-19

Most economic and financial indicators continue to demonstrate Vietnam’s resilience, according to the Vietnam Macro Monitoring report for September of the World Bank (WB).

The report said that the COVID-19 outbreak in Da Nang has been brought under control by the local authorities, which restricted mobility in a targeted manner and increased other mitigating measures. This targeted approach has affected the economy less than the April nation-wide lockdown, it said.

According to the WB, most economic and financial indicators continued to demonstrate Vietnam’s resilience, but the domestic rebound moderated in August, partly as the result of the COVID-19 outbreak in Da Nang.

It noted that exports continued to perform well despite international headwinds, while FDI inflows slowed significantly. Therefore, the WB suggested that attention should be paid to domestic and foreign investors who may postpone their plans in the current uncertain environment as well as the government’s response, which needs to stimulate the recovery in the short term and preserve fiscal and debt sustainability in the longer term.

The report cited statistics of the General Statistics Office (GSO) that showed in the first eight months of the year, budget revenues reached 58.3 percent of estimated collections – down 12.4 percent year on year – due to the economic slowdown and deferred taxes for businesses and individuals designed to support economic recovery. Concurrently, public expenditure was 8.2 percent higher than during the same period in 2019, reflecting fiscal accommodations to support economic recovery.

In line with the objective to accelerate the execution of the public investment programme, capital expenditure increased to 221.7 trillion VND in the first eight months of 2020, up 41.4 percent compared to the same period in 2019.

The domestic economy expanded in August but at a slower rate than in July and significantly below the rates recorded a year ago. Industrial production (NSA) grew by 2.1 percent (year on year) in August, compared to 4.0 percent in July. Growth of retail sales of goods and services (SA) slowed to 2.3 percent year on year in August compared to 5.2 percent in July.

In August, Vietnam’s export performance remained resilient, growing 1.42 percent month on month, but FDI inflows moderated significantly as they reached about 720 million USD in August compared to 3.1 billion USD in July. Overall, Vietnam received 19.5 billion USD in FDI during the first eight months of 2020, a 14 percent decline compared to the same period in 2019.

Inflation remained subdued at 3.2 percent year on year in August, slightly lower than in recent months due to the stability of food prices. Credit growth continued to moderate at 9.4 percent year on year in July, reflecting the decline in economic activity despite the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV)’s policy of reducing interest rates and encouraging commercial credit.

At the end of August, the level of international reserves held by the SBV was equal to 92 billion USD, up from 80 billion USD at the end of December. While this increase was not as rapid as that reported for the same period in 2019, it demonstrates the resilience of Vietnam’s economy, which reached a record-high merchandise trade surplus and attracted substantial FDI despite the pandemic, the report said.

This performance helped mitigate the impact of lower remittances and foreign exchange earnings from foreign visitors, according to the report. Meanwhile, the resilience of Vietnam’s balance of payments was corroborated by the stability of the value of the local currency compared to the US dollar.

Looking ahead, the pace of economic recovery will depend on how well domestic demand recovers in the wake of the Da Nang outbreak. Greater attention should be paid to the impacts of the crisis and on fiscal and financial stability in the medium to longer terms, and to policies designed to address them, the report suggested./.

Hanoi’s tourism sector moves to welcome visitors again

As the resurgence of COVID-19 in Vietnam has been basically brought under control, the tourism sector in the capital city of Hanoi has been swiftly making plans to attract visitors again and gradually return to previous levels of growth.

This time of year is Hanoi’s peak for tourism, with surging numbers of both domestic and foreign travellers.

This year, though, the situation is different.

The capital attracted just 6.29 million visitors in the first eight months of this year, tumbling 67.3 percent year-on-year, with international arrivals down 75.6 percent to just 1.02 million. Such figures have resulted in a large number of local travel companies suspending operations while many hotels have shut their doors.

With this latest outbreak being contained, industry insiders now look forward to improved business performance.

There are only two weeks left before Hanoi begins a wide range of large-scale activities to celebrate 1,010 years since it was established as Vietnam’s capital, called Thang Long at the time, such as a cultural week, a street festival, a craft village festival, a traditional boat race, a culinary festival, a calligraphy exhibition, and a dragon dance festival.

This represents an opportunity to promote local tourism after its long hiatus.

Many relic sites, places of interests, and entertainment venues have had their landscapes improved and new services opened to meet visitors’ demand.

At the Temple of Literature - a must-see destination for every visitor to Hanoi, its centre for cultural and scientific activities is creating new mementos and introducing new methods of heritage education to inspire young visitors, while also developing night tourism by installing lighting to introduce the institution’s history.

Le Xuan Kieu, director of the centre for cultural and scientific activities, said various activities will be held at the special national relic site to celebrate the 1,010th anniversary of Thang Long - Hanoi, adding that he hopes it will welcome many returning visitors.

Local entertainment venues are also revamping themselves to attract local visitors, who are believed to be the best target in plans to recover the tourism sector at this point in time.

Of these, Bao Son Paradise Park offers all-in tickets on Sundays, giving tourists entry to everywhere on site and allowing them to play 22 games an unlimited number of times. Its restaurants and accommodation services have also returned to normal, while most of its artistic performances are open and free.

Local travel companies are also moving to encourage customers to travel again, as all flight, train, and road routes to the central city of Da Nang, a major tourism centre and where the second COVID-19 outbreak started, have been resumed and many localities have reopened places of interest.

Nguyen Cong Hoan, General Director of the Flamingo Redtours JSC, said that, this time around, low prices are not the most attractive factor, as travellers are seeking unique products that offer many different experiences.

Instead of promoting all of its tours, the company has selected the most outstanding autumn destinations for itineraries, such as the northwestern region with its blooming buckwheat flowers, the Central Highlands with its wild sunflowers, and the Mekong Delta region and its flood season.

It has also developed customised tours to suit the needs of particular groups of travellers, he noted, adding that the company expects that by proactively introducing new products it can seize the opportunities a new tourism season presents.

Meanwhile, the Thuan An - Ascend Travel Services JSC has restarted tours to northwestern destinations like Sa Pa and Ha Giang along with coastal and maritime localities such as Quy Nhon, Nha Trang, Phu Quoc Island, and Con Dao Island.

The company’s director Duong Mai Lan said tours are currently being offered at very good prices, as localities and airlines are both carrying out travel demand stimulus packages aimed at attracting visitors.

According to the Hanoi Tourism Department, the successful containment of the second outbreak of COVID-19 has provided an opportunity for the local tourism sector to revive and thrive.

It has worked with the Hanoi Tourism Association, travel clubs, airlines, hotels, and destinations to discuss tourism development solutions in the new context. It has asked tourism service providers and places of interest to diversify products, introduce travel demand stimulus policies, and reorganise their activities to improve efficiency./.

Vietnam Airlines’ domestic passenger throughput grows despite COVID-19

Vietnam Airlines has carried nearly 40,000 passengers on domestic routes since the beginning of 2020, an annual increase of 12 percent, despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

The growth marks the national carrier's good recovery as the country has been able to contain COVID-19. It is attributable to the airline’s optimisation of its domestic flight network and fleet, the reopening of and increase of frequency on several routes, promotional programmes, customer services, and disease prevention and control efforts.

The national flag carrier is currently operating more than 40 domestic routes with close to 200 flights a day. Following positive developments in the fight against the pandemic, it has added more flights to routes between Hanoi and seven localities - Vinh, Quy Nhon, Da Nang, Tuy Hoa, Nha Trang, Da Lat, and Pleiku, and between HCM City and Da Nang.

It resumed six domestic routes in early September, including Hanoi - Chu Lai, Hanoi - Tuy Hoa, Vinh - Buon Ma Thuot, and Hai Phong - Dien Bien. It also worked with Pacific Airlines to introduce joint products offering passengers new and convenient options.

The carrier is working to resume international flights in line with Government directions and approvals from foreign authorities. Resumptions have already been seen on its route between Vietnam and Japan, with the Republic of Korea, China, Taiwan (China), Laos and Cambodia to follow shortly.

Given current growth levels coupled with the resumption of international flights, its total passenger throughput this year is forecast to soon reach or even surpass the figure recorded last year./.

Kien Giang: Nine-month export earnings up over 14 percent year on year

The southern province of Kien Giang earned over 544 million USD from exports in the January-September period, up 14.11 percent from the same period last year, despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some export items posted high growth in volume were rice with 375,276 tonnes (up 30.5 percent), frozen shrimp with 3,339 tonnes (up 16.8 percent), other frozen seafood 14,432 tonnes (up 40.1 percent), and canned products 5,463 tonnes (up 65.9 percent).

The provincial Department of Industry and Trade said Kien Giang is working towards the goal of between 690-780 million USD worth of exports this year, up around 1.36 percent from 2019.

The department’s director Ngo Cong Tuoc said the authorities will keep a close watch of production and business activities so as to provide timely assistance when necessary.

The province will intensify trade promotion activities to resume ties with markets where the pandemic has been put under control

There are more than 40 enterprises operating in export in the province, which ship goods to over 40 markets in the world.

In addition, Kien Giang’s border trade with Cambodia also increased 10.65 percent year on year to 167 million USD./.

Long An province pushes solar power projects

The Mekong Delta province of Long An is working to carry out solar energy projects on low-yield farming land in districts as it boasts huge potential for solar power development.

According to the provincial Department of Industry and Trade, most of the operational projects report positive business operations and have created stable jobs for local people.

On average, one 50 MWp project generates 72 million kWh of electricity each year and contributes about 18 billion VND (775,000 USD) to the provincial budget.

Local authorities advocate the strong development of solar power plants around the province, Deputy Director of the Department of Industry and Trade Duong Van Hoang Hoanh affirmed, adding that numerous investors have registered to build such projects on land with potential.

Long An province is currently home to 23 solar power projects with a combined capacity of 1,713 MWp.

Eight projects totalling 440 MWp are operational and connected to the national grid, while one is set to be completed and generate electricity from later this year.

The remainders are waiting for approval from the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Government./.

Malaysia to set up tourism ties with RoK, Russia

Malaysia will establish relations with the Republic of Korea (RoK) and Russia in the field of culture to further boost the country's tourism industry.

In a press release issued on September 21, Malaysian Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Nancy Shukri said the matter was discussed when she received courtesy calls from the ambassadors of RoK and Malaysia the same day.

She noted that visitors from the RoK are the most important group of tourists for Malaysia with an entry of 673,650 people in 2019, an increase of 9.1 percent compared to the previous year.

Among the matters discussed at the meeting was towards strengthening strategic cooperation in the cultural aspect in conjunction with the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries this year, she said.

Nancy said her ministry also discussed on organising cultural programmes in conjunction with the celebration to strengthen bilateral relations and connectivity between the people.

Meanwhile, Nancy stated that the increase in the number of Russian tourists in 2019 was 9.9 percent compared to 79,984 tourists in 2018.

She also noted that about 30,000 Malaysian tourists visited Russia in the year./.

Indonesia issues regulation on import duties for ASEAN goods

Indonesia’s Ministry of Finance has issued Regulation No.131/PMK.04/2020 concerning procedures for imposing tariffs on imported goods based on the ASEAN Goods Trade Agreement.

Syarif Hidayat, the ministry’s director of international customs and inter-institutions, said on September 21 that the regulation was released to implement the First Protocol to Amend the ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement, approved by Indonesia through Presidential Regulation No.84 of 2020.

The PMK is a legal basis as well as a guideline on procedures to grant preferential tariffs for ASEAN goods.

With the regulation, he hoped trade within the bloc will go up, including the increase in Indonesia’s exports with the use of the ASEAN-wide Self-Certification Scheme (AWSC)./.

HCM City improves management of food safety, traceability of agricultural products

A new HCM City regulation would make it mandatory for all agricultural products and foodstuffs to have traceability and geographical indications, and require packaging and branding under VietGAP standards to ensure food hygiene and safety.

The new regulation, if approved, will be applied to retailers, wholesalers and distribution systems in the city.

Speaking at a workshop held last week in the city, Nguyễn Huỳnh Trang, deputy director of the Department of Industry and Trade, said the city was working with the Food Safety Management Board to pilot an integrated food-safety management model for agricultural products and foodstuffs in the city and the southern key economic region.

“The model requires cooperation between linkages associated with the sale of agricultural products via value chains to ensure food safety,” she said.

Currently, HCM City and the provinces in the southern key economic region only conform to biosafety production standards because of a legal requirement. In addition, the application of VietGAP standards is still not compulsory.

Over the years, the city has promoted effective management of production and consumption chains of agricultural products, with traceability and geographical indications to ensure food hygiene and safety for consumers.

However, the production scale remains small, and products, mostly raw ones, are only preliminary processed.

The number of enterprises heavily investing in agricultural production still accounts for a low rate. In addition, wholesale markets associated with concentrated production areas have not developed in a coordinated way.

The city’s food safety management is overseen by its Food Safety Management Board and Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Food-safety project

Trần Tiến Khai, head of the project management board at the HCM City University of Economics, said the city has assigned the university to work with the Department of Industry and Trade and localities in the region on a project “to enhance cooperation and production linkages associated with the consumption of agricultural products to ensure food safety”.

The project will propose solutions to increase quality and yield in sustainable food value chains to ensure food safety for the domestic market as well as for exports, he said.

Trang, deputy director of the Department of Industry and Trade, said it was important to connect production and consumption of agricultural products, especially high-quality agricultural products.

Linking businesses with farmers would help the latter sell products at stable prices and reduce risks, she said.

Farmers receiving investment from companies would receive agricultural seeds and materials at low interest rates and with more reliable quality. As a result, farmers would be able to better assure production and implement technical measures, and increase productivity and output.

Farmers would also be able to organise production on a larger scale and volume, lowering production costs and increasing incomes.

For their part, companies would offer farmers commitments on quantity, quality, and time for product supply through affiliate contracts, according to Trang.

Recently the city People’s Committee proposed a plan worth more than VNĐ840 billion (US$36.5 million) to ensure food safety in the city’s agricultural sector over the next five years to the Ministry of Planning and Investment and the Ministry of Finance.

Under the plan, the food-safety management system and infrastructure would be improved, and as a result, would help reduce food poisoning cases, disease and pollution. Of the total investment, nearly $30 million is sourced from ODA loans, while the remainder comes from the city budget.

The southern key economic region includes HCM City and the provinces of Đồng Nai, Bình Dương, Bà Rịa-Vũng Tàu, Bình Phước, Tây Ninh, Long An and Tiền Giang.

The region has a population of more than 20 million. Each year the region consumes up to 1.5 million tonnes of rice, 500,000 tonnes of meat, 800,000 tonnes of seafood, 3 million tonnes of vegetables, and 1,500 million eggs.

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

 
 

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