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VIETNAM BUSINESS NEWS AUGUST 11

High-quality human resources key to sustainable tourism industry
High-quality human resources key to sustainable tourism industry hinh anh 1

Speaking at a seminar on August 9 in HCM City, Dr Nguyen Anh Tuan, director of the Institute for Tourism Development Research, said there was a lack of high-quality staff in the industry.

Vu The Binh, chairman of the Vietnam Tourism Association, said that human resources were a weak point for the industry even before the pandemic. Successful hotel operations are sustained by customer-oriented and hard-working employees who have adequate competencies, he added. A large number of hotels and resorts stopped operation during the two-year pandemic, and coming back could prove challenging, he said. 
Dr. Nguyen Anh Tuan said working in hotels features long hours, low pay, instability, and low status, making it unattractive as a career choice. As a result, the sector continues to suffer from high staff turnover and difficulties in recruiting qualified staff. He said it was important to ensure a better work-life balance for employees and enterprises should have favourable policies to recruit workers. A hotel employee works especially hard on those days when the rest of the world is enjoying vacations again after two years of pandemic.

Dr. Nguyen Quyet Thang, head of HCM City University of Technology’s Faculty of Tourism, Restaurant and Hotel Management, said it was important to focus on vocational training in tourism, which Vietnam lacks. For the longer term, Thang expects better job direction for parents and students before entering school. Hotels should work closely with training institutions to recruit long-term or short-term workers for their operations.

Paul Stoll, CEO of the Imperial Hospitality Group, said to maintain tourism growth, Vietnam needed to address both short- and long-term challenges in developing qualified human resources. To improve the quality of human resources in the industry, he recommended training centres move towards training what is closely connected to the demands of the job and with more focus on practice. The ultimate goal is to meet tourists’ expectations about amenities and services according to international standards.

Nguyen Thi Thanh Thuy, general manager at Silk Path Hotel Hanoi, said many hotels are now rushing to employ staff for their human resources needs.

Cao Thi Tuyet Lan, CEO of travel firm Viettours, said to recover the international tourist market, Vietnam’s tourism industry needs to address the lack of human resources. After two years of pandemic, high demand has severely overloaded the tourism industry’s infrastructure.

Lan said, for example, recently 600 customers in a MICE tour could not check in on time at an international five-star hotel in HCM City. The hotel representative said that the reason for the late check-in is not because the rooms are full, but because there are not enough staff to make up the rooms.

Patrick Basset, board of directors of Cityland Education, said the tourism sector needs around 40,000 labourers each year. But around 70% of workers were laid off or moved to other industries during two years of pandemic restrictions, creating a huge worker shortage.

Bui Thi Ngoc Hieu, deputy director of the Department of Tourism, said the lack of human resources in tourism, especially the hotel industry, is a global issue, and Vietnam is no exception. It has been a longstanding issue in HCM City and was only exacerbated by the pandemic, she added.

PM meets businesses to iron out snags in economic plan

Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh chaired an online meeting on August 11 with the local business community in order to listen to their opinions and requests aimed at removing any obstacles and ramping up post-pandemic economic recovery efforts.

In his opening speech, PM Chinh reviewed major local and international developments in recent times, saying that despite the global economic downturn, the national economy has successfully maintained its upward trajectory, with GDP witnessing an expansion of 7.72% in the second quarter of the year.

Most notably, the successful control of the COVID-19 pandemic has greatly contributed to supporting the Government’s efforts in maintaining macroeconomic stability, reining in spiraling inflation, and promoting growth, he stressed.

He expressed great appreciation for businesses working hard to combat subsequent COVID-19 outbreaks, undertaking restructuring initiatives, and ensure that production stayed up and running, while sharing difficulties faced by the both the Government and people.

The Government leader went on to warn participants about significant challenges which are still ahead, including potential future epidemics and the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict, all of which will likely affect the national economy in the coming months. He added that he would attentively listen to the concerns of local firms and duly make recommendations in order to speed up the process of economic recovery. 

The Government stands ready to accompany and support the business community in cushioning the impact of any economic shocks and ensuring that future economic development gets back on track, said the PM.

G2B conference looks to boost economic recovery

A Government to Business (G2B) conference was opened on August 11, providing a platform where the Government can explore the private sector’s opinions and proposals.

Presided over by Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh, the hybrid event brought together cabinet members, representatives from Party and National Assembly’s committees, local administrations, industry leaders, and businesses.

It is also an opportunity for the two sides to discuss how the global uncertainties are impacting the country’s socio-economic growth, and chalk out ways to boost production for a faster and more sustainable economic recovery and development.

Addressing the event, the PM said thanks to tireless efforts over the last two years, Vietnam has managed to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, with stable macro-economy, inflation under control and positive economic growth, and others.

The conference is held for the Government to learn about private enterprises’ losses and challenges facing them during the two years of the pandemic and honour the business community for having made contributions to the country at the time of hardship, Chinh said.

Urging for the development of an independent, self-reliant and globally-integrated economy with a strong business community, the PM said participants must come together to evaluate the private sector’s two-year performance and put forward recommendations for the business community to develop and mature healthily, contributing to the fast and sustainable socio-economic growth.

Hai Phong introduces investment opportunities to RoK firms

The Hai Phong Economic Zone Authority (HEZA) on August 10 organised an investment promotion with supporting supporting businesses of the Republic of Korea’s multinational conglomerate corporation LG.

The RoK participants expressed their wish to invest or expand their current investment in the northern port city.

Head of the HEZA management board Le Trung Kien introduced to investors Hai Phong’s advantages, including the largest deep-water port in the north, a direct flight route to the RoK’s Incheon international airport, and the education of the Korean language at school.

The local economic zones currently house 102 RoK-funded projects worth 8.53 billion USD, accounting for 88.4% of capital channeled in the city by Korean investors. In the past sevent months, RoK businesses in Hai Phong saw their revenue and number of labourers growing by nearly 20% and 15%, respectively.

LG has so far invested in seven projects worth 7.24 billion USD in the Trang Due industrial park in An Duong district. A network of local satellite projects and auxiliary production for LG has also been formed with more than 50 enterprises, who have injected close to 1 billion USD into the industrial park.

HEZA wished LG to further enhance its investment and production activities, focus on research and development (R&D), technology transfer, and high-quality human resources training.

It suggested the group establish a R&D centre in the city.

It also unveiled the city’s growth orientations for the time to come that highlight circular economy, renewable energy, and a high-quality workforce.

Vietnam Manufacturing Expo gets underway in Hanoi

The Vietnam Manufacturing Expo (VME) 2022 kicked off on August 10 in Hanoi, drawing the participation of approximately 200 brands in the manufacturing and electronics industries from over 10 countries and territories globally.

As part of his opening speech at the event, Vu Trong Tai, general director of RX Tradex, emphasised that the event features effective business networking programmes to help firms in the mechanical and supporting industries seize upon opportunities to further get involved in the global supply chain.

Most notably, this year’s function involved the presence of major customers from North America seeking to purchase mechanical products in the construction, oil and gas, and automobile industries, which is expected to open up a wealth of export opportunities for small and medium-sized enterprises moving forward, Tai added.

Resolution on IPs and EZs management drafted

The Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI) is drafting a Government resolution on measures to increase the efficiency of IPs and EZs.

It said IPs and EZs account for 50 per cent of the country’s total export value.

However, the ministry pointed to a number of problems related to the IPs and EZs, including their unsustainable development in different aspects. Living conditions of local communities where the zones are located have not seen remarkable improvements.

In the draft resolution, the MPI suggested the building of a Law on IPs and EZs in 2022, and the issuance of a Prime Minister’s decision on the co-ordination mechanism among ministries, sectors and localities in managing IPs and EZs.

The draft also looked to stipulate the maximum acreage of an IP and an EZ, as well as define orientations in investment attraction to match the advantages of each region and locality, and the creation of a cooperation mechanism between the State and the private sector in developing new IPs and EZs for particular sectors and industries.

Over the past 30 years, industrial parks (IP) and economic zones (EZ) across the country have attracted more than US$100 billion of investment, and created jobs for more than four million labourers, according to the ministry. 

Supporting industries future looks bright

Foreign companies in Việt Nam are increasingly looking to source components and parts locally, offering local firms a great opportunity to enter global supply chains, a meeting heard in HCM City.

But to do so, they need to transform and make products of higher quality at competitive prices, delegates told at a press conference to introduce Metalex Vietnam and Supporting industry Show which will be held in HCM City early October.

Nobuyuki Matsumoto, chief representative of Japan External Trade Organisation’s HCM City office, said the COVID-19 pandemic has severely affected the global economy.

“In the case of the manufacturing sector, the previously built global supply chains have been disrupted, leading to a halt in production activities, and this underlines the importance of having strong supply chains that do not depend too much on any one country, he said.

The Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has since 2021 run a support programme for Japanese firms to diversify their supply chains abroad, and of 103 projects that received approval, Việt Nam leads with 41, he said.

Vũ Trọng Tài, general manager of RX Tradex Vietnam, said: “Việt Nam has emerged as a new production hub in the global supply chain with the presence of big and famous manufacturing and high-tech corporations such as Samsung, Intel, LG, and Foxconn accompanied by a network of their satellite companies.”

They are also studying the possibility of expanding investment, increasing production capacity, and sourcing high-quality electronic components.

The number of US and European buyers coming to Việt Nam to look for new sources of supply is also increasing, offering great business opportunities to Vietnamese enterprises, he added.

Lê Nguyễn Duy Oanh, deputy director of the HCM City Centre for Supporting Industries Development, said foreign companies in the electronics, mechanical engineering, robotics, and other sectors have been seeking out various types of components in the local market.

There is a great opportunity for local firms to penetrate global supply chains but that would be hard if they do not transform, she said.

Matsumoto said the 2021 survey also found some obstacles to the procurement of components and raw materials in Việt Nam including product quality and poor techniques.

Gasoline products entitled to 10 per cent discount on preferential import tax
     
The Government has just issued a decree stipulating the import tax rate for gasoline products, with a reduction of 10 per cent on organic unleaded gasoline.

Decree No. 51/2022/ND-CP amends the preferential “Most Favoured Nation” or “MFN” rates for gasoline products, in which the import tax rate for unleaded petrol (under HS code from 2710.12.21 to 2710.12.29) will be adjusted from 20 per cent to 10 per cent.

According to the Ministry of Finance (MoF), compared to other countries, the proportion of tax in the base price of petroleum in Viet Nam is lower. The proportion in many countries was mainly in the range of 40 per cent - 55 per cent for gasoline and 35 per cent - 50 per cent for oil, while it was about 19.39 per cent for E5RON92 gasoline, 21.95 per cent for RON95 gasoline and about 11.05 per cent for diesel in Viet Nam with the environmental protection tax rate reduced.

MoF said gasoline products were imported from countries with FTAs with Viet Nam, so they had to bear import tax rates under the FTA, which was lower than the MFN import tax rate. According to the General Department of Customs, total import turnover with tax on petroleum products was US$475.26 million, of which imports from countries with FTAs accounted for 99.7 per cent in 2021, adding in the first five months of 2022, the total import turnover with tax on gasoline products was $826.53 million, mostly from countries with FTAs.

The portion of imported gasoline under the current MFN import tax rate was low, so the reduction of the MFN rate will not have a significant impact on state budget revenue.

Currently, global crude oil prices and Viet Nam's finished petroleum product prices were still high, negatively affecting the economy. An adjustment decree with the usual order and procedures could not ensure a timely solution amid the currently complicated petroleum market, therefore, the MoF reported to the Prime Minister for permission to separate the adjustment of preferential import tax rates for gasoline to issue a separate decree according to the simplified order and procedures so it can be applied immediately.

Long way to go for Vietnamese durian
     
Vietnamese durians have made a name for themselves as a great-tasting fruit for overseas consumers but still have a long way to go the maintain their position on the international scene, according to insiders.

Dang Phuc Nguyen, General Secretary of the Viet Nam Fruits and Vegetables Association, reveals that China, the largest importer of fresh Vietnamese durians, has allowed the fruits to be imported via official channels from July 12.

However, these opportunities come with obstacles as the Chinese General Administration of Customs (CGAC) requires that Vietnamese exporting firms and growing areas register with the Vietnamese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), and the registrations must be sent to CGAC for approval before the fruit can enter the country.

He also notes that registered growing areas must have quality management and a traceability system, meet Good Agricultural Practice standards and strictly comply with sanitary requirements to be eligible for approval.

Regarding other demanding markets such as the US and the EU, the general secretary said those markets insisted on Global GAP compliance and a strict chemical residue threshold for Vietnamese durian. Durians who do not tick all the boxes risk being rejected.

Ta Duc Minh, Trade Counselor of the Viet Nam Trade Office in Japan, underscores Japan as a market with high standards and stringent fruit regulations.

As Vietnamese durian easily entered the country between 2017 and 2020, some Vietnamese exporters took the market for granted and became less strict on quality control.

In 2021, after several batches with excessive pesticide residues were detected, Japan increased the frequency of inspection of Vietnamese durian, making it more difficult for the fruit to reach Japanese consumers.

Nguyen Phu Hoa, Deputy Consul General in Sydney (Australia), underscores Australia as a high-end durian market. Accordingly, for Vietnamese firms, it would make more sense to compete on quality rather than price.

He also calls for a national trademark for Vietnamese durians to add more value to the fruit and ensure the sustainability of its exports.

Ngo Tuong Vy, General Director of the Chanh Thu Import-Export JSC., asserts that it is tough to gain entry into foreign markets and tougher to cause changes to consumer eating habits in favour of Vietnamese durians.

She also remarks that China's low standards on fruit were a thing of the past. The country has set the bar relatively high, and Vietnamese firms have no choice but to adapt to the shifting trade pattern.

Luu Huy, Director of the Viet Thai Agricultural Produce LTD says China has become stricter about its imported fruit.

He suggests four rules Vietnamese firms should follow to boost durian trade with the country.

Food prices ease at HCM City supermarkets
     
The sharp fall in fuel prices has caused the prices of goods such as vegetables and meats to decrease in HCM City supermarkets.

Petrol prices have fallen four times since June 21 and by a total of 22 per cent, bringing cheer to the public and businesses again by reversing a long period of rise.

Fuel prices have decreased to January levels, with E5 petrol now costing VND24,629 per litre, RON95 costing VND25,608 and diesel costing below VND25,000 per litre.

The prices of a number of fresh food products, including meat, fish, seafood, vegetables, and fruits, have fallen by 10 per cent at Big C supermarket.

Some such as chicken wings and feet, frozen salmon and basa fish are another 5 per cent cheaper if customers buy three kilogrammes or more.

MM Mega Market, Emart, Aeon, Co.opmart, and Satra are offering discounts of up to 60 per cent on some items, and an average of around 10 per cent on food items.

But at traditional markets, the prices of most items have yet to decrease.

Wood exporters urged to prepare for increased trade remedy investigations
     
Experts have urged wood exporters to diversify markets, standardise supply chains and be well equipped with trade defence knowledge in the face of increasing trade protectionism.

According to the Viet Nam Administration of Forestry, the stronger the wood export, the higher the risk the wood industry faced with trade defence lawsuits.

Ngo Sy Hoai, Deputy President of the Viet Nam Timber and Forest Product Association, said that the wood export of Viet Nam increased sharply in recent years.

Viet Nam was currently the fifth largest wood exporter in the world, Hoai said, adding that together with the trend of trade liberalisation with several free trade agreements (FTAs) Viet Nam signed, other countries were increasing trade defence measures with Viet Nam.

Viet Nam Administration of Forest statistics show that the export of timber and forestry products was estimated at US$S10.4 billion in the first seven months of the year. Last year, wood exports set a record of $16 billion, representing a rise of 20 per cent against 2020.

Nguyen Thi Thu Trang, Director of the WTO and Integration Centre under the Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that the US was the market where Vietnamese products faced a high risk of trade lawsuits, citing statistics that the US initiated 1,159 out of 7,528 trade remedy investigations globally in 1995-2021.

However, enterprises were not well prepared in terms of knowledge about trade remedies and resources to deal with investigations.

Not only wood but other products with significant increases in exports were exposed to the risk of trade remedy investigations.

The trend for investigation was becoming increasingly intensive and rigorous, Chu Thang Trung, Deputy Director of the Ministry of Industry and Trade Remedies Authority of Viet Nam, said.

People prefer bank deposits amid global uncertainties
     
Accumulated and idle money of local people is continually flowing into banks in the context of increasing savings interest rates and rising risks of other investment channels amid the global uncertainties.

Though the savings rate in the first half of 2022 increased significantly compared to early this year, the interest rate race did not stop when many banks continually adjusted their rates right in the early days of August.

ACB has announced it will raise savings interest rates by 0.3-0.8 percentage points per year since early August, depending on the deposit packages.

At the end of the last week, VPBank also informed customers about the increase in savings interest rates from 0.1-0.5 percentage points per year. Specifically, for over-the-counter savings, the highest rate is listed at 6.7 per cent per year for deposits worth more than VND50 billion with a term of at least 36 months.

For online savings, customers will be offered higher rates, ranging from about 3.4 per cent to 7 per cent per year, applicable to terms from one month to 36 months.

HDBank raised its over-the-counter savings interest rates by 0.4-0.75 per cent per annum for most terms while increasing its online savings interest rates by 0.15-0.3 percentage points per year.

Vietcombank was the third bank among the Big4 group (four big State-owned commercial banks including Agribank, VietinBank, BIDV and Vietcombank) to raise the savings interest rates by 0.1-0.2 percentage point, making its rates to the same levels as the remaining three banks in the Big4.

Previously, BIDV and Agribank also slightly increased their long-term savings interest rates by 0.1 percentage points per year. The savings interest rates at Vietcombank have been raised to 3.1 per cent per year from one to two months and 5.6 per cent per year on 12 months.

Notably, in this month’s rate adjustment, SCB lost the top position regarding the highest over-the-counter savings interest rates to CBBank. Specifically, on the first day of August 2022, the 12-month and 24-month savings rates at CBBank were raised to 7.45 and 7.5 per cent per year, respectively, while the rates at SCB remained unchanged against the previous month at 7.3 per cent per year.

Monetary stance points to only mildly higher interest rates in Viet Nam: Fitch Ratings
     
Capital account restrictions largely insulate interest rates in Viet Nam from global monetary tightening and the country’s policy rate is expected to rise 50 basis points to 4.5 per cent by end-2023, according to Fitch Ratings.

Under a report on the impact of rising interest rates on Asia-Pacific (APAC) banks released this week, Fitch said annual credit targeting remains a centrepiece of the State Bank of Vietnam's (SBV) monetary policy framework, and the refinancing rate is not a primary policy lever.

Moreover, strong foreign investment inflows underpin the dong's resilience, which has depreciated by only 2 per cent year-to-date by end-July 2022, making it the second-best performing currency in APAC behind only the Hong Kong dollar.

According to Fitch, Viet Nam’s rates are driven chiefly by economic activity and inflation.

Price pressures have intensified in recent months, but are manageable relative to other regional emerging markets and remain under the government's target of 4 per cent for the year.

According to Fitch, net interest margins (NIMs) are buoyed by new credit demand rather than higher rates. Viet Nam's economic rebound and the SBV's guidance for banks to support the economy has caused loan growth to accelerate in Q1 2022 and the system loan/deposit ratio to race towards 100 per cent.

Under the report, Fitch noted credit reserves of Vietnamese banks improve, but their capitalisation buffers remain thin. The rapid pace of credit expansion during the sharp economic slowdown of the past two years could contain latent impairment risks. Some of these risks may loom as pandemic debt relief has recently expired.

Middlemen to blame for mounting prices
     
Fuel is the driving force behind mounting overall prices in many countries, but experts believe middlemen are more to blame in Viet Nam.

Economic expert Vu Vinh Phu took the sugar industry as an example. He said 70 per cent of Thailand's industry profits are distributed to farmers, whereas 30 per cent go to middlemen.

Meanwhile, the reverse is true in Viet Nam, with middlemen taking the lion's share of the pie. Their high-profit margins push up prices, outpacing the impact of fuel.

The expert attributed middlemen's high-profit margins to the absence of an official goods exchange. Without such an exchange, middlemen have the higher bargaining power to raise selling prices.

Economic expert Can Van Luc shared this view, saying that middlemen were demanding too many profits to the detriment of consumers.

He also underscored rising prices in transport, food and construction sectors as the major cause of the recent soaring consumer price index (CPI). For this reason, he urged the authorities to keep prices in check.

He also urged the authorities to step up inspection to ensure middlemen comply with ethical standards and do not reap profits at the cost of other economic actors. He also called for favourable policies to lower transaction costs, giving producers room to reduce their product prices.

Securities firms raise capital on recovery of stock prices
     
Despite poor business results in the second quarter, many securities stocks have rebounded sharply after hitting the bottom on June 20-21.

Accordingly, Viet Dragon Securities JSC (VDS)'s shares gained 84.7 per cent from VND7,200 a share to VND13,300, while shares of Saigon - Hanoi Securities JSC(SHS) also increased by 65 per cent from VND8,904 to VND14,700. Shares of MB Securities JSC (MBS) jumped 61.3 per cent.

Leading securities stocks like SSI Securities Corporation (SSI), Ho Chi Minh City Securities Corporation (HCM) and VNDirect Securities Corporation (VND) to small stocks such as Vietnam Industrial & Commercial Securities Corporation (VIG), Hoa Binh Securities JSC (HBS), and Agribank Securities Corporation (AGR) also surged 30-50 per cent in the last month and a half.

Securities stocks have reported a good recovery as the general stock market picked up significantly from the area of 1,169 points to 1,252 points.

Liquidity on the Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange (HoSE) also improved. Of which, in the last seven consecutive trading sessions, matching value reached VND12-14 trillion, while previously the average matching value was just VND8-9 trillion, and even fell below VND5.5 trillion (US$235 million).

According to SSI Research, investors' attention switched from the US macroeconomic data to enterprises' profit growth in Q2 and expectations in the second half of the year.

Even though risks from external factors still threatened the local stock market, the monetary policy stance of the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) and economic support package are expected to lift market sentiment. Public investment is the main growth driver in the second half of 2022, with capital disbursement focusing on site clearance of priority investment projects.

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

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