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VIETNAM BUSINESS NEWS MAY 28

FDI disbursement up 7.8 percent in five months

Up to 7.71 billion USD worth of foreign direct investment (FDI) was disbursed in the first five months of this year, up 7.8 percent from the same period in 2021, according to the Ministry of Planning and Investment.

As of May 20, total FDI in Vietnam, comprising new, adjusted capital and share purchases by foreign investors, dropped 16.3 percent year-on-year to reach only 11.71 billion USD.

There were 578 new projects worth nearly 4.12 billion USD, down 53.4 percent in value, and 395 others registering to increase their investment by more than 5.61 billion USD, up 45.4 percent. The accumulative value of share purchase by foreign investors also rose 51.6 percent to 1.98 billion USD.

Foreign capital has been poured into 18 out of 21 economic sectors, with processing and manufacturing making up the lion share, 6.8 billion USD or 58.2 percent of the total investment, followed by real estate, information-communications, and science-technology.

Among the 79 countries and territories investing in Vietnam in the reviewed period, Singapore took the lead with nearly 3 billion USD, followed by the Republic of Korea (RoK), 2.06 billion USD, and Denmark, some 1.32 billion USD.

The southern province of Binh Duong, the northern province of Bac Ninh and Ho Chi Minh City attracted the most foreign investments, with more than 2.52 billion USD, nearly 1.65 billion USD and over 1.3 billion USD, respectively.

Ministry requests review of certain FDI projects

The Ministry of Planning and Investment has asked People’s Committees of cities and provinces to instruct relevant agencies to review foreign-invested projects in the localities.

The move aims to raise the quality of foreign investment attraction and remove difficulties facing the FDI firms, as requested by the Government and the Prime Minister.

Under a document dated May 25, 2022 sent to the localities, the ministry said projects with registered capital of at least 100 million USD and an area of at least 50ha, along with real estate ones in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang, Hai Phong, Khanh Hoa and Ba Ria-Vung Tau, each covering 2ha and above, will be reviewed.

Investment registration agencies will look into capital contribution and disbursement, and the implementation of targets set in investment licences by the businesses.

They will also check the firms’ performance in land use and observance of legal regulations on land, construction, finance, employment and environmental protection.

The agencies will sum up difficulties and obstacles to the projects, and propose solutions to accelerate the implementation work.

Eco dairy complex built in Son La province

A closed-loop dairy complex will be built in the northern mountainous province of Son La as a ground-breaking ceremony for the project was held in Moc Chau district on May 28.

The project comprises an eco-, high-tech cow farm, and a high-tech milk processing plant. Notably, the cow farm also offers eco-tourism services, with a total area of 150ha and investment worth 1 trillion VND (43.1 million USD).

Covering 26 hectares, the 2 trillion VND plant is designed to have a daily capacity of nearly 500 tonnes of milk in the first phase, which will double in the second phase.

The Moc Chau Dairy Cattle Breeding JSC (Moc Chau Milk) and Vietnam Diary Products JSC (Vinamilk) are the main investors of the project.

Hanoi builds safe agricultural production areas

Hanoi’s agricultural sector has strengthened safe agricultural areas to ensure sustainable production and provide a source of clean food for domestic and foreign consumers living in the capital city.

Nguyen Giap Dong, head of the Ba Vi District Economic Division, said that the district currently maintained a safe tea production area spanning 1,550ha and productivity of 10.5 tonnes per hectare per year. The output for the whole year is estimated at 16,275 tonnes of fresh buds, worth 350 million VND (14,900 USD) per hectare per year.

In Dong Anh District, Nguyen Anh Dung, deputy chairman of the district People’s Committee, said that the district had 1,180ha of vegetable production area including more than 500ha of large-scale safe vegetable production.

Regarding Hanoi’s plans for safe agricultural production areas, Nguyen Thi Thu Hang, director of the Hanoi Sub-department of Agricultural, Forestry and Fisheries Quality Management, said that the whole city currently maintained over 5,000ha of safe vegetables areas including 43 vegetable planting models applying the Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) with a total area of 1,700ha.

Hanoi also maintaines more than 1,300ha of vegetables, fruits and tea according to VietGAP standards, 181ha of aquaculture in the direction of VietGAP, 88 livestock centres applying VietGAP standards and nearly 50ha of farms following organic agriculture standards.

Besides, Hanoi continues to develop 141 chains of safe agricultural products manufacture and consumption.

Deputy chairman of the Ung Hoa District People's Committee Ngo Tien Hoang said that the district continued to create favourable conditions to attract more and more potential enterprises to invest in agricultural production, expanding the scale of farm production areas and high-quality rice areas.

Housing market sees price increase, liquidity decrease
     
Experts have warned that the high rate of inflation will cause the domestic housing market to continuously see prices increase, but liquidity decrease.

According to real estate consultant Le Quoc Kien, the market from the middle of last year until now has seen low transactions as the land and housing prices have increased by 20-25 per cent in the urban areas and 30 per cent in the suburban areas. Meanwhile, the price has surged by 50 per cent in the neighbouring provinces.

According to the General Statistics Office, core inflation in April 2022 increased by 0.44 per cent in the month and 1.47 per cent over the year. Average core inflation in the first four months of this year increased by 0.97 per cent over the same period in 2021.

Furthermore, high inflation also makes real estate developers push property prices up. The whole market pushes the selling prices up, setting a new level, he said.

In the long term, the economy still faces the risk of crisis and inflation. These factors make real estate prices continue to increase.

Therefore, in the next 12 months, the housing market is forecast to continuously see price increases and slow liquidity, Kien said.

Nguyen Van Dinh, vice chairman of Viet Nam Real Estate Association (VNREA), said the property market has low transactions because asking prices are pushed up to high levels in many places. The asking price does not reflect the actual value.

Le Hoang Chau, chairman of the HCM City Real Estate Association, also said that if land prices rise against the reality of the real estate market, it will make a loss for consumers and a disadvantage for investors.

If projects offer too high housing prices, it will lead to an increase in property inventory, Chau warned. The real estate prices increase rapidly, causing unsustainable development on the market.

Lessons learned from previous land fevers show that even if it lasts for a short period the consequences are great. The price is pushed to a high level, so investments into property face difficulty due to illiquidity. Meanwhile, buyers with real needs can not reach those products because the price is too high, compared to the actual price.

Do Thu Hang, Director, Advisory Services, Savills Hanoi, said that at present, many investors have also faced a crisis because they have bought land in the fevers, though the development of infrastructure and services in the areas has not kept up with the land fevers.

Real estate consultant Le Quoc Kien said many investors using idle money have bought property products since the beginning of last year and now they face high inventory because the high price makes low liquidity.

SeABank plans to increase capital to VND20.4 trillion in 2022
     
Southeast Asia Commercial Joint Stock Bank (SeABank/SSB) plans to increase charter capital from VND16.6 trillion (US$715.6 million) to VND20.4 trillion in the second and third quarters of this year.

Under the plan, in Q2 and Q3, SeABank plans to issue 211,400,000 shares, equivalent to 12.7 per cent to pay 2021 dividend, issuing 109,700,000 shares, equivalent to the rate of 6.6 per cent, to increase capital from equity sources (bonus shares). At the same time, SeABank will issue 59,400,000 shares under the Employee Selection Program (ESOP) in 2022.

After completing the issuances, SeABank will continue its plan to increase charter capital from VND20.4 trillion to VND22.7 trillion through private placement to strategic domestic and foreign investors, or offering to the public and to existing shareholders 228,700,000 shares, equivalent to 13.78 per cent of current charter capital. The form of the offering will be decided specifically at the time of implementation. By the end of 2022, SeABank will complete the increase of charter capital to VND22.7 trillion.

Tighter regulations to prevent manipulative practices
     
Many investors and firms in Viet Nam have reached a financial size that they are well-positioned to manipulate the securities market, exposing the need for tighter regulations.

Financial expert Vu Dinh Anh underlined transparency as the key to a healthy securities market. Without transparency, certain companies can rely on illegal practices, including insider trading and price manipulation, to make profits at the cost of market stability.

Nguyen Hoai Thu, investment manager at the VinaCapital Fund Management JSC., believed that the State Securities Commission and stock exchanges should establish a mechanism to supervise highly-volatile stocks and hold firms accountable for suspicious volatility.

The manager also mentioned severe punishments for insider trading in some countries and called for stricter regulations in Viet Nam. Additionally, she urged the authorities to prohibit insiders from making comments on their firms' stock prices as the comments might constitute the disclosure of material information.

Economic expert Dinh Trong Thinh underscored inexperienced investors and the bandwagon effect as the driving forces behind the recent market turbulence.

Despite the turbulence, some experts still had an optimistic outlook on the market since Vietnamese economy enjoyed high growth rates, stable interests, low inflation and abundant reserves.

Notably, foreign investors have net-bought US$$170 million of stocks in the market since early April and estimate P/E ratio of Vietnamese stocks at 10.6. 

Bond issuance slows amid tightening controls
     
Bond issuers have become more cautious amid the authorities tightening control of the market, leading to issuance shrinkages.

The Ministry of Finance reported that the total issuance volume of privately-placed bonds plunged to around VND30 trillion (US$1.3 billion) in April, down 33 per cent year-on-year.

In the first two weeks of May, the issuance figure reached VND5.2 trillion, equaling one-third of the figure last year.

Notably, realty bonds fell sharply to about VND820 billion in April, far less than their average monthly volume of VND26 trillion in 2021.

The market experienced not only decreasing bond issuances but also a buyback spree.

Specifically, premature bond buybacks in April alone stood at VND11.9 trillion, comparable to the figure of VND12.8 trillion in the previous three months combined.

The securities firm SSI underlined the Tan Hoang Minh Group's cancellation of issuance of nine bond batches as a major factor making firms cautious about bond issuance, resulting in a less active market.

SSI forecast that the market would continue to lose steam in the next quarter as firms postponed their issuance plans to wait for new regulations and guidance from the Government.

Some other experts are more optimistic about the future. They underscored premature bond buybacks as a boost to firms' financial health.

Opportunities for e-commerce in Vietnam to boom

Opportunities for e-commerce in Vietnam to boom ảnh 1 Illustrative image. (Photo: SGGP)

Recently, e-commerce in Vietnam is assessed to grow robustly. It is forecasted that Vietnam's internet economy will reach US$57 billion by 2025, ranking second in Southeast Asia, after Indonesia.

According to Mr. Nguyen Ngoc Dung, Chairman of Vietnam E-commerce Association (Vecom), in 2021, despite being heavily affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, Vietnam's e-commerce still maintained a good growth momentum with an increase of about 20 percent and a scale of $16 billion. Keeping the growth momentum, Vietnam is now one of the countries with the largest e-commerce market size in the region, besides Indonesia, Thailand, and Malaysia.

Vietnam's internet economy in 2021 grew by 31 percent compared to 2020 and reached a scale of $21 billion. Of which, the online retail sector enlarged by 53 percent and touched a scale of $13 billion.

There are two waves that have contributed to the steady development of e-commerce in Vietnam in 2020 and 2021 and will be the driving force for the next period. The first wave took place during the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, and the second one from June to September 2021, during the fourth Covid-19 outbreak.

The notable features of these two waves are that in the context that all socio-economic activities were stagnant, and business activities were seriously affected. However, many traders have made efforts to digitalize to seize new business opportunities, and the number of online consumers has increased drastically in both quantity and quality.

From 2022, e-commerce will become the mainstream shopping trend. Every trader needs to change quickly to accommodate this new shopping experience for customers. With outstanding features, obviously, the second wave has created momentum for the development of e-commerce.

The Chairman of Vecom said that in 2020 and 2021, despite being heavily affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, online retail still stood firm and made an important contribution to maintaining the growth momentum of e-commerce, especially promoting economic recovery after the pandemic.

Vietnam seeks Australian investment opportunities in Sydney

The administration of Binh Duong province, in collaboration with the Vietnamese Consulate General in Sydney and Becamex IDC Corporation, organized an investment promotion seminar in Sydney on May 27.

Taking the floor, Vo Van Minh, head of the Binh Duong administration, emphasized that attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) is a major policy of Vietnam for socio-economic development and international integration.

He highlighted Binh Duong’s major advantages, including a favourable geographical location, modern and synchronous investment and development infrastructure, open and attractive investment environment, saying it is one of the Vietnamese localities provinces that lead the way in securing high economic growth and attracting foreign direct investment.

Currently, the province has established bilateral cooperation relations with 11 foreign localities and is an official member of 3 major international organizations.

Minh highly appreciated the potential of Australian investors and called on them to invest more in Binh Duong

Binh Duong always accompanies businesses and creates the most favorable conditions for foreign businesses, including those from Australia, to operate efficiently locally, he assured.

Andrew Parker, senior trade and investment commissioner for ASEAN at Investment New South Wales agreed that Vietnam is a favourite destination for Australian investors. He highly appreciated opportunities that ASEAN and Vietnam can bring for the Australian business community.

Parker said Australian businesses are interested in investing in areas such as food processing, software manufacturing, as well as services in Vietnam. He pledged to support local businesses to further expand their trade and investment relations with ASEAN, especially with Vietnam.

Quang Tri’s IPs, EZs house investments worth over 20 billion USD

Industrial parks (IPs) and economic zones (EZs) in the central province of Quang Tri has attracted 221 projects worth over 472.2 trillion VND (20.3 billion USD) by the end of May, statistics show.

The IPs comprise Nam Dong Ha, Quan Ngang, Trieu Phu, Quang Tri, and Tay Bac Ho Xa while the EZs are Dong Nam Quang Tri and Lao Bao.

Most of the investment projects in there operate in the energy, seaport, processing, garment, footwear, and construction material industries. They are providing jobs for more than 7,000 people.

Tran Quang Trung, deputy head of the Quang Tri EZ Authority, said among the 221 projects, 116 with total investment of over 10.3 trillion VND have become operational.

Meanwhile, 69 projects worth almost 156.9 trillion VND are under construction, and the 36 others worth 305 trillion VND are undergoing survey and consideration.

Vietnam untying knots to boost tourism recovery

Vietnam dropped COVID-19 test requirements for visitors entering the country from May 15, a move expected to boost the recovery of the country’s tourism industry.

Chairman of Vietravel Holdings Nguyen Quoc Ky said since then, regular flights and holiday packages as well as charter flights have been booked with an occupancy rate of more than 90 percent.

Amidst such high demand, the ‘unshackling’ move prior to the peak season will create the momentum for the tourism sector, given the period accounts for 70 percent of firms’ annual revenue, he added.

Dr Luong Hoai Nam, a member of the Vietnam Tourism Advisory Board, spoke highly of the decision as he explained that testing for COVID-19 abroad is time consuming, while some countries have already scrapped the requirement.

The move will also make it easier for overseas Vietnamese and foreign tourists to travel to Vietnam.

Tourism companies and resorts nationwide has rolled out promotions for this summer. Vietnam is advised to promote marketing and communication work on tourism as about 80 percent of foreign visitors travelling to the country with the help of foreign travel agencies.

However, technical restrictions in visa issuance remain for foreign tourists who wish to travel to Vietnam.

Bottlenecks in the visa policy were reported to Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh in early May.

Nam suggested the country exempt visas for citizens of Europe, Australia, New Zealand, India and Canada, adding that due attention should be paid to measures aimed to extend tourists’ length of stay and their spending while in Vietnam.

Credit supply sees two-fold rise

Total credit supply in 2022 reached over 11 quadrillion VND (474.3 billion USD) as of May 20, up 7.66 percent compared to that at the end of 2021 and doubling the figure recorded in the same time last year, according to Deputy Governor of the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) Dao Minh Tu.

At a virtual conference of the banking sector on May 27, Tu said that right from the beginning of this year, the SBV has guided credit flow towards the production and business sectors as well as prioritised areas, while tightly controlling credit in risky areas.

Particularly, a growth of over 8 percent was seen in credit for sectors facing difficulties such as tourism and hotel, while a 7.6 percent increase was recorded in industrial sectors and supporting industries.

The SBV Deputy Governor said that as of the end of April, over 695 trillion VND of loans had been given to more than 1.1 million customers.

Thanks to the strong credit growth, many banks have almost reached the credit quota they were granted at the beginning of the year.

A research by SSI Securities Company showed that an unprecedentedly high credit growth rate has been recorded in State-owned banks (up 6.4 percent since the beginning of the year), which is a positive sign of economic recovery.

Therefore, banks will be granted more credit room to facilitate loan expansion. Meanwhile, banks involving in the restructuring of weak credit institutions such as Vietcombank and MB will have the opportunity to grow at a very high level. This year, the SBV targets a credit growth of 14 percent.

Vietnam’s seafood exports enjoy strong surge despite challenges

Vietnam raked in an estimated 4.5 billion USD from exporting aquatic exports in the first five months of 2022, up over 44.5 percent over the same period last year, according to the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP).

Despite various challenges and difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and global changes in the last two years, Vietnamese seafood enterprises have seized opportunities to expand exports, and won orders with much higher prices than those in 2021.

The positive results were attributed to the recovering and booming demand in many markets, the shortage of supply, and the increasing inflation in many countries.

Vietnamese seafood processors and exporters have fully tapped advantages from the high inflation of the US market, China’s zero-COVID policy, and the strongly recovering demand in the European market to increase their exports to foreign markets.

Notably, exports of shrimp, tra fish and other key commodities to the US market recorded higher growths compared to 2021.

Vietnam’s seafood exports to China reached over 700 million USD in the first five months, a sharp rise of 94 percent year-on-year. The export of tra fish to the market accounted for 53 percent of the total seafood exports in the period.  

Central Retail opens largest trading centre in northwestern Vietnam

Central Retail on May 27 inaugurated its 39th trading centre in Lao Cai city - the largest of its kind in the northwestern region of Vietnam.

Spanning a total area of 30,000 m2 and having a total investment of over VND300 billion, GO! Lao Cai is one of the key FDI projects which marks a new development step toward attracting investment in trade and services in the northwestern region.

The centre will create jobs for 400 local workers and 30% of booths at the centre will be reserved for products produced by firms in Lao Cai.

Meanwhile, Thai ambassador to Vietnam Nikorndej Balankura said that Thailand is currently the eighth largest investor in Vietnam with 649 investment projects, and the country’s largest trade partner in the Southeast Asian region. He also revealed that GO! makes up the first Thai investment project in Lao Cai.

On the occasion, Central Retail in Vietnam announced a grant of VND1 billion to build classrooms in a primary school in La Pan Tan commune of Muong Khuong district.

Honda Vietnam motorcycle sales fall slightly in fiscal year 2022

Honda Vietnam sold more than 2 million motorcycles in the 2022 fiscal year from April 2021 to March 2022, down 2.7% compared to the previous fiscal year, the company said in its annual report announced recently.

Despite its slight decrease in sales, Honda’s local market share still increased by 2%, reaching about 80% in the context of market difficulties.

However, Honda Vietnam forecast that it is likely to experience a decrease in the output of some models of domestically produced scooters from April 2022. It is expected that the output of some models of locally produced scooters for May and June would decrease by nearly half compared to the original plan.

The company is trying to optimize production capacity to meet market demand at the earliest possible time, Honda Vietnam said in its report.

Also in the 2022 fiscal year, Honda Vietnam exported 207,000 completely built units (CBU), up 25.5% year on year. It is projected to ship 225,000 CBUs abroad in the 2023 fiscal year, a year-on-year rise of 9%.

Due to the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Honda Vietnam sold just over 24,000 cars in the 2022 fiscal year, down nearly 7% compared to the previous year.

Key infrastructure projects start in Da Nang
     
FPT Software (F-Soft) Da Nang has commenced construction of key infrastructure projects in the Information Technology (IT) Service Centre F-Complex in the central-city, after a two-year delay caused by the COVID-19.

Chairman of F-Soft, Nguyen Tuan Phuong spoke at the ground-breaking ceremony for the third phase of the apartment (FPT Plaza 3), the second phase of the FPT education (FPT school), a Data Centre (FPT Telecom) and public space of the FPT City, which will enter full operation in the first quarter of 2024.

Phuong said the infrastructure items would reserve working space and living accommodation for at least 10,000 employees, experts, and 80,000 families.

He said a series of apartments and Information Technology (IT) infrastructure projects would help boost F-Soft Da Nang as a leading software exporter and end-to-end digital transformation service supplier in central Viet Nam in the coming decades.

Phuong also said the full operation of the F-Complex would help create revenue of VND3.5 trillion (US$152 million) by 2024.

Banks promote lending to exporters amid Viet Nam’s positive shipments
     
Commercial banks have stepped up lending to export firms, especially those in industrial parks and export processing zones, as exports of many goods have grown strongly this year.

Nguyen Duc Lenh, deputy director of the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV)’s HCM City branch, said total outstanding loans in HCM City by the end of April 2022 reached more than VND3 quadrillion (US$130 billion), of which about VND196 trillion was poured into the Government’s priority areas, including exports.

According to Lenh, the loans have helped many firms in industrial parks and export processing zones maintain production and business. The credit growth for the firms reached 24.4 per cent in Q1 2022, a fairly high level compared to the average credit growth of the whole banking system.

Hua Quoc Hung, head of the Management Board of HCM City Export Processing Zone and Industrial Park Authority (HEPZA), said HEPZA has conducted many surveys on credit demand, ability to access capital, and financial sources for firms in industrial parks and export processing zones so as to propose to the SBV and commercial banks appropriate policies.

According to Hung, lending to firms has been effective, helping them maintain production and business during the peak period of the pandemic and recover right after HCM City reopened.

In other cities, the lending to manufacturing and export has also increased.

Nguyen Thai Minh Quang, director of Commercial Joint Stock Bank for Foreign Trade of Vietnam (Vietcombank)’s Binh Duong Province branch, said the bank is currently still maintaining an interest rate reduction policy of 0.5-1.5 per cent per year for corporate and individual customers. Vietcombank’s Binh Duong Province branch has lowered interest rates for 87 per cent of loans of corporate and individual customers.

Vo Van Buu, director of Commercial Joint Stock Bank for Industry and Trade of Vietnam (VietinBank)’s Binh Duong Industrial Park branch, said the bank has launched many preferential loan programmes, which are exclusive to manufacturing and export areas. Thus, firms in the areas have many opportunities to access loans with low interest rates to serve their production and business needs.

Private and foreign banks are also accelerating capital financing for manufacturing and export firms to capitalise on the strong recovery of export activities, especially in textile and garment, agriculture, fishery and processing industries.

A representative of ShinhanBank in HCM City said the bank is currently lending well in industrial parks and export processing zones, with outstanding loans of some $30 million at a preferential interest rate of about 7.5 per cent per year in the first one to three years. The loans to firms in industrial parks and export processing zones are continually growing well as the bank is expanding to other provinces and cities with many industrial zones.

Meanwhile, domestic banks such as HCM City Development Commercial Joint Stock Bank (HDBank), Vietnam Prosperity Commercial Joint Stock Bank (VPBank), Tien Phong Commercial Joint Stock Bank (TPBank) and Orient Commercial Joint Stock Bank (OCB) have also boosted financing for export firms.

TPBank, for example, has launched a loan package worth VND1 trillion for firms to develop livestock farms with an interest rate of 8 per cent per year, while HDBank applied a preferential loan package of VND1 trillion until mid-2022 to finance salary payments for corporate clients with interest rates from 6.8 per cent per year.

Along with the strong recovery of domestic firms after successfully controlling the pandemic, it is expected that banks’ credit will continue to be poured into production and business areas to recover the economy in many cities and provinces in the near future. 

Source: VNA/SGT/VNS/VOV/Dtinews/SGGP/VGP/Hanoitimes

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