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Businesses exporting medicinal herbs to China required to register
Businesses exporting medicinal herbs to China required to register hinh anh 1
Trucks carrying products for export to China pass through Kim Thanh International Land Border Gate No. 2 in the northern province of Lao Cai. (Photo: VNA)

Vietnamese businesses which want to export medicinal herbs to China must submit information about growing areas and packaging establishments to the provincial Departments of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The departments were required to report to the Plant Protection Department under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development by April 15, 2023.

The Vietnamese authority will the work with the General Administration of Customs of China (GACC) to grant export licences to eligible exporters.

According to the Plant Protection Department, GACC has informed it about China’s plan to review the supervision system for exported medicinal herbs and the registration of enterprises which produce, process and preserve medicinal herbs for export to China.

To meet the requirements of the Chinese side and minimise its impacts on the export of Vietnamese medicinal herbs to the market, the Plant Protection Department asked agencies to review the growing areas and packing facilities of medicinal herbs.

More local businesses worry amid growing petrol prices

Petrol prices continued to grow at the beginning of the year, causing many more local businesses to worry about the sharp increase in business costs and reduced competitiveness.
more local businesses worry amid growing petrol prices picture 1

Amid this context, businesses have been forced to make plans aimed at adapting to the production and business situation following the Lunar New Year, locally known as Tet

The Environmental Protection Tax placed on petroleum products has increased once again. In addition, the retail price of petrol and oil is being domestically applied according to the adjustment session on January 30 by the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Industry and Trade. Specifically, the price of RON 95-III gasoline expanded by VND993 per litre to VND23,147.

The price of E5 RON 92 gasoline also increased by VND977 to reach VND22,329 per litre.

Elsewhere, oil products recorded an increase in price. Each liter of diesel oil rose by VND890 per litre to VND 22,524, while kerosene was at VND22,576, up VND767 per litre, with fuel oil being VND13,934 per kg, an increase of VND568 per litre.

Immediately after the price adjustments, many businesses were forced to quickly adjust their production and business situation, especially making adjustments to prices in order to suit each contract.

According to Le Thanh Thao of the Legal Department of Quang Chau Transport Joint Stock Company based in Ho Chi Minh City, the company has made plenty of flexible adjustments to maintain the operation of more than 200 means of transport, containers, and more than 180 drivers in a bid to maintain business operations and ensure employment for drivers.

Gasoline prices have increase, but the adjustment of charges must also be carefully considered because the volume of goods after Tet has decreased, although production units have plenty of choices regarding transport units with competitive freight rates.

Over the coming days, many freight companies will focus on exploiting new customers from countries such as Cambodia and Laos.

This increase in petrol prices also greatly limits the competitiveness of Vietnamese transport enterprises. Recently, agricultural production activities have suffered from the price increases of agricultural inputs and input materials.

The increase in prices of agricultural materials and input fuels is mainly related to fluctuations occurring in terms of gasoline prices. Therefore, businesses are being forced to continue to strain themselves to solve the problem of stabilizing commodity prices.

Garment, footwear exports aim to reach 80 bln USD by 2025

Vietnam’s textile, garment and footwear sectors aim to achieve a total export value of 77-80 billion USD in 2025 and 106-108 billion USD in 2030, according to the strategy for the development of Vietnam’s textile and footwear industry.

Under the development strategy approved by the Government, for the long term, the garment, textile, leather and footwear sectors are still key export industries of the economy.

The sectors will continue to promote investment in the production of materials and auxiliary materials, as well as supporting industries.

They will encourage the production of fabrics from domestically produced yarn to reduce imports, and form a complete supply and value chain in the region.

For the leather and footwear industry, Nguyen Duc Thuan, Chairman of Lefaso, said domestic enterprises need to actively adapt to the requirements of the market and brands on sustainable development standards for products. They must reduce emissions in the production process, and increase the use of solar energy and highly sustainable products.

Also, according to the strategy, Vietnam’s textile and garment industry expects export turnover to reach 50-52 billion USD in 2025 and 68-70 billion USD in 2030.

The strategy also states that developing the fashion industry is considered a new direction. Accordingly, this sector will focus on developing designers, and raw material supply, production and distribution systems to form supply chains and create sustainable foundations for the development of Vietnam’s fashion industry as well as fashion centres in Hanoi and HCM City.

The strategy encourages enterprises to gradually switch their production methods to FOB (free on board) and ODM (original design manufacturer) to add value to products, and build a private brand to improve the competitiveness of the businesses and products.

Materials are the most difficult factor in the textile and garment industry. Therefore, to promote the development of the textile and garment supporting industry, the textile and garment industry strives to have a localisation rate at 51-55% in 2021 - 2025 and 56-60% in 2026-2030.

To achieve this goal, it is necessary to attract investment in the development of supporting industries and the production of raw materials and accessories for the textile and garment industry based on advantages in the free trade agreements Vietnam has joined.

The projects to develop the supporting industry and the production of raw materials and accessories should be built in regions with a number of textile and garment enterprises to reduce transport charges and production cost and improve competitiveness.

The strategy also mentions the role of State management agencies in encouraging enterprises to invest in producing fiber, yarn, textile and dyeing with advanced technology and connections with domestic garment enterprises.

This approved textile and garment development strategy will help form industrial parks with wastewater treatment areas to attract textile and dyeing projects. Now, the infrastructure for textile, dyeing and fabric production is still limited.

Domestic fabric production only reaches 2 billion metres per year, meeting 25-30% of the demand of the garment industry. Vietnam’s textile and garment industry currently must import 60-70% of the raw materials. Vietnam has joined many FTAs, creating conditions for textiles and garments to expand export markets with the tariff gradually reducing to zero.

According to Chairman of the Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association Vu Duc Giang, in the first quarter of 2023, the number of export orders decreased by 25-27% due to the decrease in global purchasing power.

Therefore, businesses can produce lower-value products, and diversify markets and products to keep production and promote growth.

Chairman of Vinatex Le Tien Truong said that many businesses now only ran 70-80% of production capacity due to a reduction in consumer demand. So, Vinatex is now focusing on raw material production more than garment production. The materials are always the first step in greening, creating a foundation for qualified materials as green requirements of the US and Europe.

Vinatex had organised the production of yarn products from recycled materials or organic materials. At the same time, the raw material production factories were equipped with solar power to meet green energy standards.

According to forecasts, the situation of Vietnam’s textile and garment industry in 2023 would be worse than in 2022. Therefore, businesses needed to follow the market's developments to have flexible solutions to ensure efficiency in production and business, as well as promote the export of goods, Truong said.

Coal companies announce strong profit results in Q4

Coal companies announced strong growth results in the fourth quarter of 2022.

Coc Sau Coal (TC6) achieved the strongest growth in the quarter with a 10-fold increase over the same period last year. This is due to a sharp increase in profit margin of 33% in the fourth quarter of 2022, while in the same period of 2021 it reached only 9%.

It was followed by Cao Son Coal (TCS), seeing net profit of 168 billion VND (7.2 million USD), up 154% over the same period of 2021. Gross profit margin also increased sharply by 13%.

Meanwhile, Vang Danh Coal (TVD)’s net profit reached 148 billion VND, doubling the same period of 2021.

Ha Tu Coal (THT) and Nui Beo Coal (NBC) also recorded an increase in net profit of 96% and 70% in Q4, respectively. Deo Nai Coal (TDN) also had a profit of 37 billion VND, a sharp increase compared to the loss of 1 billion VND in the fourth quarter of 2021.

In particular, there was the case of Ha Lam Coal (HLC) reporting a net profit rise of 85% to 12 billion VND.

Explaining this impressive business result, most coal enterprises attributed the profit growth to the strong increase in coal production, consumption and TKV Group's adjustment of coal selling prices.

Except for Cao Son Coal (CST) whose revenue decreased by 27% in the fourth quarter, the remaining enterprises all had high revenue growth, in which the most impressive was the revenue growth of Vinacomin - Coal Import Export Joint Stock Company (CLM). Net revenue of CLM in the fourth quarter reached 3.2 trillion VND, up 391% year-on-year.

Mong Duong Coal (MDC) and Vang Danh Coal (TVD) experienced revenue growth rates of 69% and 49%, respectively.

Although Cao Son Coal (CST) led in profit in terms of value, the most impressive growth belonged to Vinacomin - Coal Import Export Joint Stock Company (CLM) as this company's profit after tax was 337 billion VND, 11 times higher than the same period in 2021. Basic earnings per share (EPS) of CLM in 2022 was 30,672 VND, among the top companies with the highest EPS on the stock exchange.

Although Coc Sau Coal (TC6) recorded high profit in the fourth quarter, it was not enough to make up for the large loss in the third quarter, making the whole year’s profit reach only 400 million VND.

Thanks to the high profit results, the majority of coal enterprises together far exceeded the business targets of 2022.

Tien Giang plans to exploit over 124,000 tonnes of seafood this year

The Mekong Delta province of Tien Giang will exploit more than 124,000 tonnes of seafood of all kinds in 2023.

According to Director of the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Van Man, the tapping of maritime potential will be associated with a series of drastic measures against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

These measures include tight vessel management, strict punishment of related violations, communications activities to raise public awareness on the matter, better investment in fishery infrastructure, and the implementation of policies for improving fishermen’s livelihoods, among others.

In 2022, the province’s seafood output topped 361,000 tonnes, exceeding the yearly target by nearly 26%. Of the amount, the yield from farming neared 221,000 tonnes, with the rest coming from offshore fishing and exploitation activities.

The coastal locality’s fleet of fishing vessels has a total capacity of over 421,000 kW, creating jobs for close to 10,000 workers.

Currently, 100% of local ships operating at sea have been installed with vessel monitoring systems (VMS).

Maritime economy to be boosted in northcentral and central coastal region

A national conference on the socio-economic development of the northcentral and central coastal region will be held on February 5, focusing on seeking measures to boost maritime economic growth for fast and sustainable development of the regions, Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment Tran Huy Dong said at a press briefing in Hanoi on February 1.

Dong said that the conference aims to launch the Government’s action programme to implement the Politburo’s Resolution 26-NQ/TW on the orientations for socio-economic development and security-defence protection of the region to 2030 with a vision to 2045, and attract investment to the region.

According to the official, the conference is also designed to call for the engagement of investors, domestic and foreign business associations and partners in major investment projects and programmes in the region.

Deputy Minister Dong underlined that the event has a significant importance to the development of the region which has a special strategic role in economy, politics, culture, society, environment, defence, security and foreign relations of the country, especially the national strategy on the sustainable maritime economic development.

An investment promotion conference will be held in parallel with the event, aiming to mobilise resources for infrastructure development in the region and boost investment and business activities of the region. During the conference, an agreement on cooperation in sustainable development of the region is expected to be signed between the Ministry of Planning and Development (MPI) and development partners, along with a number of memoranda of understanding. Investment licences will also be granted to domestic and foreign investors on the occasion.

According to the MPI, in the 2005-2020 period, the region posted an annual growth of 7.3%, higher than the country’s average, with the economic scale expanding 9.1 times in the 2004-2020 period.

However, Deputy Minister Dong pointed out a number of shortcomings in the region, including the ineffectiveness in exploiting maritime economic development potential.

Resolution 26 was released at a hope to turn the region into an area with dynamic, fast and sustainable development, which is strong in maritime economy.

By 2045, the region is expected to post rapid and sustainable development, hosting a number of major industrial, service and international cooperation centres on par with those in Asia, with modern coastal economic zones, a smart and sustainable coastal urban system, as well as a unique identity and good environmental protection.

In an action programme to implement the resolution, the Government gave eight major solutions, including perfecting institutions and policies and promoting the development of regional connectivity, restructuring the regional economy, with greater attention on the development of the marine economy; boosting the growth of the urban system, especially the coastal urban system; and stepping up investment in regional socio-economic infrastructure, especially transport infrastructure.

It also underlined the need to effectively manage and exploit natural resources, especially maritime and forest resources, protect the environment, and improve resilience against natural disasters the adaptation to climate change.

The programme includes 34 specific tasks and 11 transport infrastructure projects.

Banks lower saving interest rates right after Tet 

The race of interest rate hikes among commercial banks is showing signs of cooling down as many banks have adjusted down the rate by several percentage points per year after the Lunar New Year (Tet) holiday and have set stricter conditions for customers to enjoy the high rates.

At Techcombank, the highest deposit interest rate at the bank is currently 9.2% per year, against 9.5% per year before Tet. To enjoy the 9.2% interest rate, depositors must be a VIP customer with minimum savings of 3 billion VND over 12 months. For regular customers, the rate for 6-month deposits at the bank is also down to 8.5% per year from more than 9% before Tet.

At Sacombank, the highest interest rate before Tet was 9.8% per year. However, the highest rate is currently only 9.2% per year, applied to online deposits with terms from 15 to 36 months.

Saigonbank, which was the first bank to list a deposit interest rate of up to 10.5% per year last year, also lowered the savings interest rate. Accordingly, the highest interest rate at the bank is only 9.5% per year, applicable to 13-month deposits, both online and at the counter.

The same move was seen at BaoVietBank. Before Tet, customers could receive the highest interest rates of 9.8%, 10.2% and 10.3% per year for six-month, 13-month and 15-month terms, respectively, under a special savings deposit. However, the programme has ended and the rate of more than 9% is currently only applied on online channels.

Specifically, when depositing through EzSaving/ BAOVIET Pay for a 6-month term, customers can receive the highest interest rate of only 9.3% per year. For terms of 13 and 15 months, the rate is 9.4% and 9.5%, respectively.

Some other banks also lowered their highest interest rates such as DongABank (from 9.85% to 9.5% per year); BacABank (from 9.8% to 9.5% per year); and VietCapitalBank (from 9.5% to 8.9% per year).

At the four biggest banks BIDV, VietinBank, Agribank and Vietcombank, interest rates, in general, have not changed much compared to before Tet. BIDV and VietinBank both are listing the highest interest rate of 8.2% per year while the figure at Agribank is 7.9% and Vietcombank 7.4%.

According to experts, savings at banks declined in the fourth quarter of last year due to the seasonal factor of Tet when firms concentrated capital to produce goods and pay year-end bonuses to employees while individuals also often reserved more cash to spend for Tet. At that time, banks had to increase interest rates to lure deposits to ensure liquidity.

However, after Tet when cash flows into banks again, the banks’ liquidity is under less pressure. Therefore, banks also do not need to raise deposits with high interest rates.

According to finance expert Dinh The Hien, cash will continue to flow into banks as the savings rates remain high compared to those of previous years.

Deposit interest rates in the first quarter of 2023 will be commonly at 6.5-7% per year at large-sized and good-quality banks and 8-9% at small-sized banks, Hien forecast, expecting that by the end of the second quarter of 2023, the interest rate will return to the normal level at around 7% per year.

State Treasury to auction 400 trillion VND worth of government bonds in 2023

The State Treasury has announced that it plans to raise 400 trillion VND (over 17 billion USD) worth of Government bonds via auctions on the Hanoi Stock Exchange (HNX) this year.

In the first quarter of 2023, the State Treasury will offer 108 trillion VND worth of G-bonds with different maturities, including 5-year and 7-year bonds valued at 8 trillion VND, 10-year and 15-year bonds each valued at 45 trillion VND, and 5 trillion VND worth of 20-year and 30-year bonds each.

On February 1, the HNX organised three auctions of 5-year bonds worth 500 billion VND, and 10-year and 15-year bonds worth 5 trillion VND each.

The State Treasury said in 2023, the agency will issue G-bonds closely following market developments, and the revenue collection and disbursement progress of the public investment capital plan from the State budget.

It will manage interest rates of auctioned G-bonds in line with the Government's direction of fiscal and monetary policies, and issue G-bonds with different maturities to meet the needs of investors, thus promoting the liquidity of the G-bond market, raising more capital for the State budget and supporting the development of the capital markets.

State budget collection from export-import drops in January

State budget collection from export-import activities in January topped 24.8 trillion VND (1.07 billion USD), or 5.8% of the estimate, down 42.3% annually, reported the General Department of Vietnam Customs (GDVC).

This year, the National Assembly assigned the GDVC to collect 425 trillion VND in revenue to the State budget, based on the estimate that the gross domestic product grows 6-6.5%, the price of crude oil stands at 70 USD per barrel, export turnover increases by 8-9% while imports rises by 7-8%.

The sector will closely monitor tax exemptions, reductions and refunds to ensure that they target the right beneficiaries in line with regulations.

At the same time, the GDVC will step up reform and simplification of procedures, including partnering with banks to launch the pilot of an electronic tax payment portal.

It will also strive to prevent tax debts as of December 31, 2023 from rising higher than that recorded on December 31, 2022.

Also in January, Vietnam’s total export-import value was estimated at 46.56 billion USD, down 17.3% month-on-month and 25.01% year-on-year.

Of the figure, 25.08 billion USD was exports and the remainder was imports, marking respective decreases of 13.66 and 21.3% and bringing a trade surplus of 3.6 billion USD to Vietnam.

HCM City: number of newly-established firms down in January

There were 2,536 newly-established businesses in Ho Chi Minh City in January with a total newly registered capital of over 17.9 trillion VND (778 million USD), down 7.07% in volume and 38.03% in value year on year, reported the municipal People’s Committee.

The additional capital surpassed 19.5 trillion VND, down 59.9% annually, bringing the total new and additional capital to over 37.5 trillion VND, marking a decrease of 51.74% compared to the same period last year.

During the month, 291 firms completed dissolution procedures, down 5.83%; 10,255 others temporarily shut down, up 21.05% and 3,235 had their operations back to normal, down 31.82%. The city is home to 518,713 valid enterprises.

Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee Phan Van Mai said economic difficulties lasted from the fourth quarter last year and are predicted to prolong to the end of the first or even the second quarter this year.

The total export turnover of local firms was estimated at 3.6 billion USD, down 13% year-on-year while imports dropped by 21% to 4.3 billion USD. The index of industrial production fell by 15% annually and 21.4% monthly.

However, the total retail sales of goods and services went up 5.7%. The agro-forestry-fisheries production was estimated at 911.2 billion VND, up 3.8%. The foreign direct investment attraction soared by 73.8% annually to around 179 million USD, including 50 foreign-invested projects worth 86.86 million USD, up 127.8% from the same period last year.

Director of the municipal Department of Industry and Trade Bui Ta Hoang Vu expressed his belief that with experience in pandemic response and the dynamic nature of businesses in the city, clear guidance and specific directions from local leaders, the business community will return to positive growth in the near future.

Decline in new orders slows as exports return to growth: S&P Global

The Vietnamese manufacturing sector continued to face challenging business conditions in the opening month of the year amid falling output and a decline in new orders, although there are positive signs ahead, according to a report released on February 1 on the Vietnam Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) by S&P Global.

The report outlined that production and new orders continued to endure a decline, albeit at a slower rate, despite some signs of improvement. This can largely be seen through growing demand which has been helped by a renewed expansion in new export orders.

Employment also decreased at a slower pace, while the rate of input cost inflation continued to accelerate, reaching a six-month high in the process. In turn, firms moved to increase their own selling prices for the first time in three months.

The S&P Global Vietnam Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index™ (PMI®) posted 47.4 in January, up from 46.4 in December, but still pointing to a solid monthly deterioration in terms of the overall health of the manufacturing sector.

Operating conditions have now worsened in each of the past three months. In line with this, January data signaled a further marked decline in manufacturing production, albeit one that was slightly softer than what was recorded in December.

Lower new orders were often behind falling output, with some businesses indicating that customers had sufficient stock holdings, meaning they didn't need to make purchases at present.

Experts pointed out that total new orders had fallen for the third consecutive month in January as demand conditions remained challenging. However, there were some signs of improvement, particularly with regards to new export orders which rose for the first time in the reviewed period. As such, the total number of new business fell at a modest pace, the lowest in the current period of decline.

The rate of input cost inflation accelerated for the fifth successive month in January to mark the fastest rise since last July. Where input prices rose, experts mentioned higher supplier charges, increased import costs, and a rise in taxes.

Suppliers' delivery times also shortened marginally, following slightly longer lead times in the two preceding months, with muted demand for inputs helping suppliers to speed up deliveries.

Furthermore, business confidence improved to a three-month high amid hopes that demand conditions will strengthen over the course of the year, thereby feeding through to growth of output. The relaxation of pandemic restrictions in China can be viewed as another factor behind the positive outlook, with more than half of respondents being optimistic that production will rise over the next 12 months.

MICE tourists visiting Da Nang record sharp increase

The central coastal city of Da Nang welcomed more than 1200 MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences, and events) tourists during the opening days of this year, with the majority coming from India, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Republic of Korea RoK), according to a statement by Ho Chi Minh City’s Tourism Promotion Center on February 1.

In line with these statistics, a group of 33 guests from IndiaRF company arrived on January 17, while a delegation of 81 visitors from SK Finance Limited of India arrived at Sandy Beach Resort on January 18.

Furthermore, 44 tourists from Rockman Industries company entered the central city on January 28, while 500 tourists of Allybuild Vietnam Company are expected to come in the locality on February 2.

Most notably, the central city received nearly 500 Indian tourists who attended a wedding in the first days of the Lunar New Year, known locally as Tet.

According to the Da Nang Tourism Promotion Center, the international market of MICE visitors to Da Nang has flourished over recent times. At present, several travel firms have registered more than 350 Malaysian visitors in March, while 2,000 Indonesian tourists will arrive in Da Nang in April through tour operator Viking Travel.

The Da Nang People's Committee has recently launched a programme aimed at supporting MICE tourists in order to promote the further development of the MICE tourism market.

Accordingly, domestic and international delegations to Da Nang will be welcomed via the check-in MICE model with visitors receiving flowers and special gifts upon arrival at the airport.

Last year saw Da Nang tourism welcome 53 MICE delegations with more than 30,000 visitors. Of the figure, there were eight international delegations and 45 domestic groups.

Retail sales of goods, services up 20 per cent in January
Viet Nam’s total retail sales of goods and services in January was estimated at VND544.8 trillion (US$23.22 billion), up 5.2 per cent from the previous month and 20 per cent compared with the same period last year, according to the General Statistics Office (GSO).

The office explained that the hike was attributed to the growing consumption demand as Tet (Lunar New Year), the biggest and longest festival in the Southeast Asian nation, fell in the month.

Of the total, the retail sales of goods were VND435.4 trillion, a year-on-year rise of 18.1 per cent, with the biggest increase seen in garments (27 per cent).

The revenue from lodging and catering services reached VND56 trillion, representing a year-on-year rise of 37.3 per cent. Notably, tourism raked in VND2.2 trillion, a surge of up to 113.4 per cent from the corresponding time last year, with the highest increases recorded in localities such as Hai Phong (541.5 per cent), Da Nang (387.1 per cent), Tien Giang (380.2 per cent), Lao Cai (196.3 per cent), Ha Noi (113.8 per cent) and HCM City (98.7 per cent).

The revenue from other services was valued at VND51.2 trillion, up 16.8 per cent year-on-year.

The GSO said the purchasing power during the holiday rose about 8-10 per cent against other months and was equivalent to the same period last year, with the strongest growth seen in food, foodstuffs and essential goods.

Hoang Anh Duong, Deputy General Director of the Market Surveillance Agency under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, said market management forces had intensified inspections and supervision, especially on e-commerce platforms and social networks, while coordinating with other competent agencies in controlling the quality of oil and gas products.

Consumer demand yet to recover after Tet in HCM City

Goods are pouring into wholesale markets and traditional retail markets in HCM City after Tet (Lunar New Year) but demand has been sluggish.

Supermarkets like Co.opmart, MM Mega Market and BigC and convenience stores like Satrafoods and Coopfood too have yet to return to normalcy.

According to Dinh Quang Khoi, head of MM Mega Market’s marketing department, said many city dwellers travelled during Tet and are yet to return home.

Besides, people tend to mainly buy vegetables and fruits now since they are fed up with greasy and protein-rich foods they consumed during Tet.

The prices of fresh seafood, including shrimps, crabs and squid are high compared to normal days.

Representatives of wholesale markets said prices were steady and the volume of goods coming into the markets was nearly as much as on normal days but demand was low.

To stimulate demand, retail systems have offered big promotions.

Co.opmart has a promotion on confectionery, milk and dairy products, vegetables, fruits, utensils, chemicals, fashion, and apparel items.

Supply of vegetarian food items has doubled and there are big promotions targeting customers seeking to eat healthy after Tet.

Emart supermarket is offering discounts of up to 50 per cent on more than 500 essential items.

MM Mega Market is offering discounts of 30-50 per cent on nearly 1,000 fresh food items, especially fruit and vegetable products. 

Fewer turn up to buy gold this year
It's that time of the year again. Yesterday January 31 was the God of Wealth Day, traditionally marked on the 10th day of the first lunar month of the year in Viet Nam.

This year, gold shops saw far fewer people eagerly waiting outside of their doors to snatch up the precious metal, believed to be a sign of good luck for the year.

A shop owner in downtown Ha Noi said there were more customers compared to usual but far fewer than in previous years. Empty stools could be seen outside gold shops at the corners of Tran Nhan Tong and Trieu Viet Vuong, a markedly different sight in comparison to the usual hustle and bustle in previous years.

A similar sight was observed in HCM City, the country's largest economic hub.

Lukewarm customers' attitudes reflected in the price of gold seeing a sharp decline in the days leading up to God of Wealth day this year. The price of the metal, however, saw a strong rise prior to Tet.

SJC posted a buy/sell rate of VND66.30/67.72 million for a tael (37.5g), an increase of VND300,000 to buy but a decrease of VND100,000 to sell. Phu Quy's rate was posted at VND66.20/67.30 million, DOJI's at VND66,30/67,30 million.

A likely explanation, according to gold traders, was a large inventory held by gold shops after gold prices hit the VND68 million mark last month, triggering traders' sales for profit. In addition, global gold prices have been on the retreat in recent weeks.

Another factor was the tightening of money by the central bank and reduced income, putting a dam on demand this year.

Decorative gold pieces including 12 animals, especially the cat, remained popular purchases this year with customers' preferences being smaller and lighter products with prices ranging around VND2-5 million a piece.

Large gold stores also reported a large number of orders placed online during the last few days.

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


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