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VIETNAM BUSINESS NEWS HEADLINES DECEMBER 12

HCM City sets economic growth target of 6 percent for 2021

Ho Chi Minh City is targeting a gross regional domestic product (GRDP) growth rate of around 6 percent in 2021.

This is among the targets the 9th-tenure municipal People’s Council set for next year on December 7 as part of its 23rd session.

Accordingly, the southern economic hub aims to maintain the services sector’s share in the GRDP at over 60 percent, total investment in society accounting for about 35 percent of the GRDP, and labour productivity increasing 5.7 percent annually.

Vo Thi Ngoc Thuy, a deputy of the People’s Council, held that on the basis of the socio-economic development in 2020, efforts by the whole political system, and local residents’ solidarity, HCM City is completely able to achieve the growth target of 6 percent next year.

To create favourable conditions for economic stability, recovery, and development in the post-pandemic period, the city should further support human resources training and provide timely assistance for COVID-19-hit businesses, she suggested.

Director of the municipal Department of Planning and Investment Le Thi Huynh Mai said amid numerous difficulties caused by COVID-19, HCM City has yet to achieve some targets for this year but still obtain positive growth, thus contributing to economic performance of the whole country.

She added that it will keep exerting efforts to secure 6-percent growth next year while devising an aid package of some 4 trillion VND (172.9 million USD) for pandemic-hit enterprises, in which 1 trillion VND will be spent on stimulating tourism./.

Fine logistics services facilitate Vietnam-EU trade: experts

Optimising quality of logistics services is a requisite measures to boost Vietnam-EU trade amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, experts said at the online business matching forum held on December 9.

Director of the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT)’s Trade Promotion Agency Vu Ba Phu said Vietnam and the EU have enjoyed fruitful trade ties in the past time, particularly the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement, which was signed in August, serves as a boon for trade development between the two sides.

However, the two-way trade faced formidable challenges due to pandemic, including expensive logistics services, and the EU’s changes of administrative procedures in import-export and international goods management process.

In this context, Phu said logistics firms of both sides need to discuss cooperative opportunities, take advantage of each other’s resources to optimise logistics services so as to better serve export and import enterprises.

The MoIT’s competent agencies are working to create favourable conditions for import and export firms as well as logistics businesses, he stressed, adding Vietnam encourages local firms to invest heavily in uniform logistics infrastructure, enhance connectivity of transport vehicles, and improve capacity to provide logistics services through digitalisation.

Meanwhile, deputy head of the MoIT’s Foreign Trade Agency Tran Thanh Hai suggested EU firms plow into logistics infrastructure in Vietnam, participate in carrying out technology application in the field, and bolster training of logistics human resources and cooperation in urban logistics, circular logistics and green logistics.

Deputy General Secretary of the Vietnam Logistics Business Association Nguyen Tuong, for his part, laid stress on several challenges of Vietnamese logistics firms, including digital transformation, service quality, management skills, and human resources.

Senior Manager Supply Chain Solutions Asia of the Holland International Distribution Council (HIDC) Sjaak de Klein said HIDC stands ready to give consultation on supply chain for Vietnamese logistics firms.

Sharing logistics risk management while cooperating with EU enterprises, President of Club FrancoRisk Gilbert Canameras said as risks increase when the world changes, businesses should be well equipped with risk forecast systems.

NA Standing Committee approves reduction of environment tax on jet fuel

The National Assembly Standing Committee on December 10 passed a resolution on the new environment tax rate on jet fuel in 2021, under which the rate will be 2,100 VND per litre, down 30 percent.

The new rate will be applied from January 1 to December 31, 2021. As from January 1, 2022, the rate will return to the old level of 3,000 VND per litre.

The environment tax rate reduction for jet fuel aims to help aviation companies overcome difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Also on December 10, the NA Standing Committee gave opinions on preparations for the election of deputies to the 15th NA and all-level People’s Councils for the 2021-2025 tenure.

The committee also looked into the allocation of investment funded by the state budget in 2021 to projects transferred from 2016-2020 to 2021-2025.

The session concluded later on the day, with NA Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan hailing the committee’s efficient work, completing all the working programmes half a day ahead of schedule./.

State Bank proposes expanding VAMC's operation

The State Bank of Viet Nam (SBV) proposes expanding the Viet Nam Asset Management Company's (VAMC) operations, saying the agency should purchase and sell bad debts and assets of all sectors in the economy.

VAMC should be developed into a centre of bad debts handling and restructuring of the credit institution system, SBV says in a Decision on the Development Strategy of VAMC until 2030 it recently approved.

VAMC is tasked with promoting the development of the debt trading market, ensuring the safe and sustainable development of credit institutions, the Decision says.

In the 2018 - 2020 period, VAMC's goal is to buy at least VND330 trillion (US$14.3 billion) of total accumulated bad debts. Of the estimate, VAMC is expected to buy a minimum of VND12 trillion-VND13 trillion of bad debt under market value.

The Decision says VAMC played the central role in the bad debt trading market, developing a project on a Debt Exchange to submit to competent authorities for approval.

After the exchange is approved, VAMC will set up and operate the exchange. It will also establish an Asset Management Club whose members includes VAMC and debt and asset management companies under credit institutions.

In the 2021-2025 period, VAMC must complete the establishment and put into operation the Debt Exchange. At the same time, it will build up a debt and asset data centre which will be connected with the National Credit Information Center (CIC) and credit institutions to create more data sources to exploit.

In the 2026 - 2030 period, the State Bank proposes expanding VAMC's operations, saying the agency should purchase and sell bad debts and assets of all sectors in the economy, promoting investment and asset exploitation activities, asset trading and asset valuation consultation.

VAMC will also provide financial consultation services for building strategic development for investors and business mergers and acquisitions.

The State Bank will send petitions to competent authorities to supplement capital to VAMC so that its capital reaches VND10 trillion in the 2020-2021 period.

The State Bank will instruct VAMC to promote debt retrieval, strengthening facilities, investing in IT systems and offices, improving the quality of human resources and enhancing financial capacity.

The State Bank also proposes VAMC mobilise capital from domestic and international organisations and individuals in accordance with the law.

The bank also requires VAMC to co-operate with domestic and foreign investors to participate in corporate restructuring, M&A in accordance with the law. 

Over 3.7 million orders recorded on Online Friday

More than 3.7 million orders were placed via websites and e-commerce platforms during a 60-hour online shopping programme launched by the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) on December 4, up 267 percent compared to the average rate of a normal day.

According to the ministry’s e-Commerce and Digital Economy Agency, the Online Friday event recorded positive results, attracting 11.2 million visits on mobile apps and devices.

Over 247,100 genuine products were offered for sale during the event, with over 26,200 Star vouchers were distributed to customers.

Notably, the price comparison feature was most used by customers in the event, with over 1.4 million interactions were performed. Meanwhile, the QR scanning programme for hunting vouchers recorded 1.1 million scans.

The MegaStream event broadcasted live from 20:00 to 24:00 on December 3 to kick off Online Friday had over 4.9 million views and interactions, the department said.

This is the seventh consecutive year the event of this kind has been organised and it has become Vietnam’s biggest online shopping day.

It not only helped consumers to buy high-quality products at affordable prices, but offered a venue for businesses to seek partners and business opportunities, contributing to the country’s economic development./.

Promotional programmes boost year-end sales

The end of the year is coming fast. It’s a great time for parties and get-togethers. Like many people, Thuy Nga is looking for some new outfits for such occasions.

Purchasing power often rises at the end of the year, so many shop owners expect sales will increase, as 2020 has been a difficult year for business activities.

To seize the opportunity, many shops have introduced attractive promotional programmes, including discounts, giveaways, and “Buy 1, Get 1 Free” offers, among others.

Electronic goods are often discounted and offer attractive after-sales services during the closing months of the year.

Many localities have joined hands with businesses to stimulate shopping demand now the end of the year is upon us. For the first time, authorities in Hanoi organised a midnight sale, creating a shopping fever in the capital.

By 3 am on November 28, sales were up by an average of 200 percent and the number of visitors had risen 220 percent over the same period last year.

Not only meeting demand among local consumers and tourists, introducing promotional programmes to stimulate consumption at the end of the year is a practical solution to help businesses and retailers overcome the difficulties and improve their bottom line./.

Ministry asks goods suppliers to stabilize ahead of Tet

The Ministry of Industry and Trade has told producers to continue boosting their supply of goods to cater to the demands of residents in the lead up to the upcoming Lunar New Year holiday (Tet) and stabilize prices in the local market, according to a report on trade activities in November and between January and November released by the ministry.

As the suppliers have prepared goods in advance, prices will not rise abnormally for the rest of the year and during the Tet holiday, said the ministry.

Besides, the ministry asked the relevant agencies to continue balancing the demand and supply of goods and guarantee that the prices of necessities, mainly food and pork, remain stable. Firms were also told to effectively implement the market stabilization program.

The market management board was tasked with enhancing its monitoring of the domestic market to prevent smuggled, fake and low-quality goods from being sold while imposing harsh sanctions on those who break regulations on trade activities.

The volume of goods for the 2021 Tet holiday in HCMC will increase by 4% against the target and by 12%-21% from the figure seen during last Tet, noted Nguyen Phuong Dong, deputy director of the HCMC Department of Industry and Trade.

A large volume of goods has been readied, including over 5,590 tons of cattle meat and more than 7,480 tons of poultry meat, Phap Luat Online reported.

In addition, firms participating in the city’s market stabilization program have committed not to revise up the prices of goods two months before and after the upcoming holiday.

Tet goods of a high quality and at reasonable prices will meet the demands of residents in the city, said Dong.

The municipal department will adopt various solutions to ensure a sufficient supply of goods and guarantee that prices remain stable, according to the department.

Textile and garment exports to hit US$34 billion in 2020

Vietnam’s total textile and garment export revenue is forecast to reach US$33.5 – US$34 billion in 2020, down 14-15% over 2019 but higher than the previous forecast of US$31 billion.

This year will be the first year that Vietnam’s textile and garment sector sees export declines after 25 consecutive years of growth, mainly due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MOIT), 2020 has been a particularly difficult year for Vietnam’s textile and garment industry as the market has suffered complicated and unpredictable fluctuations. The COVID-19 pandemic is developing in the US market and several European markets, causing difficulties for the Vietnamese textile and garment sector due to the shortage of export orders in the final months of this year.

Vietnam posted total textile and garment export revenue of US$26.73 billion in the first 11 months of this year, down 10.5% over the same period last year.

The MOIT said that thanks to the Vietnam’s effective control of the COVID-19 pandemic and the quick response and restructuring of enterprises in this field, the decline in textile and garment export revenue of Vietnam has not been not as large as other countries.

According to Chairman of the Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association (VITAS) Vu Duc Giang, despite the decreases in export revenue, the market share of Vietnam’s textile and garment has changed.

Vietnam has become the second largest textile and garment exporter to the US, the sixth largest exporter to the EU, the second largest exporter to Japan and the Republic of Korea. Of particular note is the fact thatVietnam has become the largest exporter of textiles and garments to China with a market share of 19.1%.

Hanoi looks to recoup growth momentum right in 2021

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The capital city has recorded economic expansion of 3.94 percent this year amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and it is expecting to regain momentum to secure growth of around 7.5 percent in 2021.

At its 18th session that opened on December 7, the 15th-tenure municipal People’s Council heard that despite impacts of the coronavirus outbreak, Hanoi’s growth was still positive and achieved or surpassed 16 of the 22 targets for 2020. This year’s estimated growth of 3.94 percent is about 1.5 times higher than the overall figure of Vietnam.

The city has continued to take the lead nationwide in building new-style rural areas, with 10 outlying districts and 368 communes earning the title.

Vice Chairman of the National Assembly Do Ba Ty said local authorities should work harder to improve the investment and business climate, promote Hanoi’s competitiveness, assist enterprises to develop, and prioritise the application of technological advances and new production models with higher productivity, quality, and efficiency.

Stressing the need for stronger determination, he also asked Hanoi to capitalise on opportunities and advantages while swiftly addressing shortcomings and difficulties, pointing out the immediate tasks of keeping good control of COVID-19, sustaining growth, and ensuring social security.

Proposing measures to recover growth, deputies of the People’s Council highlighted the necessity to accelerate public investment disbursement, assist pandemic-hit businesses, and increase dialogue with farmers and enterprises.

During the meeting, the council approved a resolution on this year’s socio-economic development and the development plan for 2021.

For the next year, Hanoi targets gross regional domestic product (GRDP) growth of some 7.5 percent, per capita GRDP of about 135 million VND (5,800 USD), total investment in society rising 12 percent, exports up 5 percent, and inflation kept at less than 4 percent.

It also aims at bringing down the number of households living under the city’s new poverty line by 20 percent, raising the rate of rural households getting clean water to 85 percent, and having the last 14 communes recognised as new-style rural areas in 2021./.

HCMC’s economy is projected to grow by only 1.39% in 2020

HCMC’s projected economic growth rate would be only 1.39% this year due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, Nguyen Thi Le, chairperson of the HCMC People's Council, said at a meeting of the 23rd session this morning, December 7.

According to Le, the global economic recession as a result of the pandemic and the country’s recent natural disasters have negatively affected the city’s economic development.

The city has not been able to achieve certain socioeconomic targets. The growth of several industries and service sectors has slowed down, while administrative reform has not brought about significant achievements. Moreover, assessments on the satisfaction of citizens and businesses have not been effective.

The city is also facing a number of other problems that have not been thoroughly resolved, including flooding, construction violations, traffic congestion and drug-related crimes.

Besides reviewing the city’s socioeconomic development, the HCMC People's Council will also discuss plans for 2021, including budget revenue and expenditure, loans and debt repayments and the scheme on services, infrastructure and public amenities usage fees at the city’s seaports.

The 23rd session of the HCMC People's Council's ninth tenure will run until December 9.

Over 120,000 firms newly established in Jan-Nov

Some 124,300 firms were newly established between January and November, pledged capital of over VND1,870 trillion, inching down 1.9% in number and up 19.3% in capital year-on-year, according to the General Statistics Office.

During the 11-month period, the newly established companies had an average registered capital of VND15.1 billion, up 21.7% year-on-year. They also registered to recruit a total of 970,000 employees, down 14.7% year-on-year.

Besides, the number of firms that resumed operations rose by 10.7% year-on-year at 40,800. However, the period also witnessed a 15.6% rise in the number of enterprises suspending their operations, reaching some 93,500. Of the total, 15,400 companies completed procedures for dissolution, a year-on-year rise of 3.1%.

In addition, operational companies registered an additional VND3,086 trillion to fund their expansion plans, raising the total newly pledged capital to more than VND4,965 trillion during the period, up 35.1% year-on-year.

In November, the country saw some 13,100 newly-established firms with total pledged capital of VND284 trillion, up 7.3% and 72%, respectively, month-on-month. The new enterprises registered to employ 119,000 people, up 65.3% compared with the previous month.

Each new firm reportedly registered an average of VND21.8 billion in capital in November, a month-on-month increase of 60%, VietnamPlus news site reported.

Last month, over 5,310 firms returned to the local market, up 5.4% month-on-month and 59.8% year-on-year, while over 1,940 companies completed the procedures for dissolution, a year-on-year rise of 30.6%.

VASEP forecasts 2020 seafood exports at US$8.6 billion

Although Covid-19 continues to develop complicatedly in major importing markets such as the United States and the European Union, the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP) expects that Vietnam will be able to export seafood worth US$8.6 billion this year thanks to a high demand at the end of the year.

According to the association’s statistics, the country’s seafood exports constantly tumbled in the first half of the year due to the impact of Covid-19 and started recovering in July, the local media reported.

The country reported a 10% year-on-year increase in seafood exports in September, 12% in October and 13% in November.

Thanks to this recovery, Vietnam had earned more than US$7.8 billion from seafood exports as of the end of November.

Shrimp is a key export earner with a double-digit growth rate since June and a surge of 25% in September and October and 28% in November. The revenue from shrimp exports amounted to US$3.5 billion in the 11-month period, up nearly 14% year-on-year.

If the situation is maintained, Vietnam can generate some US$3.85 billion from shrimp exports this year.

As for tra fish, its export turnover plunged 17%-35% from March to September and bounced back in the next two months, sending the total tra fish export revenue in January-November to US$1.34 billion, down 24% from the same period last year. The figures are expected to hit US$1.54 billion and 23%, respectively, versus last year.

Vietnam may record a tuna export revenue of US$720 million this year, while squids and octopus are expected to bring back US$565 million.

The major importing markets of Vietnam’s seafood, including the United States, the European Union and China, posted a respective growth of 25%, 30% and 15% last month.

For the whole year, the revenue from seafood exports stateside may reach US$1.65 billion, up 12% over last year. Meanwhile, the revenue from the European Union was estimated at US$992 million, down 2.4% against 2019, and China with US$1.48 billion, up 5%.

However, China has tightened control over seafood imports since mid-November due to fears over the spread of Covid-19, so seafood exports to this market will grow slower in the last month.

HCMC carries out many solutions to make logistics become key service industry

The project of developing the logistics industry in Ho Chi Minh City to 2025 with the orientation to 2030 approved by the People's Committee of HCMC aims to make logistics become a key service industry of the city, which accounts for an increasing proportion in the gross regional domestic product (GRDP) structure. 

It will also enhance the role of a hub for exchanging domestic goods and connecting the domestic market with the international one, and contribute to the reduction of the proportion of domestic logistics costs in comparison with the national GDP. Specifically, the growth rate of revenue from logistics services of enterprises in the city will reach 15 percent in 2025 and 20 percent in 2030. The proportion of logistics contribution to GRDP of the city will reach 10 percent by 2025 and 12 percent by 2030. The proportion of domestic logistics costs compared to the national GDP will decline by 10-15 percent by 2025.

To accomplish the above targets, the city has proposed groups of solutions to develop logistics infrastructures, such as speeding up the construction of highways that connect the city with provinces and cities in the Southeast; developing a railway network to ensure smooth freight transport, connecting the railway network with important seaports of the city, the Southern provinces and cities, the national railway network, and cross-border shipping routes; investing in the construction, upgrade, and expansion of Tan Son Nhat International Airport following the adjusted plan approved by the Prime Minister with a capacity of 40-50 million passengers per year and 1-2 million tons of cargo per year to 2030.

Along with that, the city will focus on improving and upgrading river channels to ensure the operation of vessels in and out of ports in the region, some main navigational channels, such as the Dong Tranh river channel, to connect freight transport from HCMC to Cai Mep - Thi Vai, and Long Tau river channel through Ganh Rai Bay. It will develop the inland container depot (ICD) system according to the planning to replace and promote the development of multimodal transport and logistics services of the city. At the same time, it will establish a system of logistics centers in seven locations, including Long Binh, Cat Lai, High-Tech Park in District 9, Linh Trung in Thu Duc District, Tan Kien in Binh Chanh District, Hiep Phuoc in Nha Be District, and Cu Chi District with a total area of about 270-623 hectares in the period from 2025 to 2030.

On the other hand, it is essential to promote vocational training in logistics, focusing on vocational skills. The orientation of vocational skills training should follow the demand forecast in the industrial revolution 4.0 to promote vocational training in logistics. It should focus on the vocational training model with the participation of businesses - the dual training form. The city will establish and develop logistics human resource training centers for the whole region, aiming at regional cohesion in training and sharing highly-skilled human resources. The project requires the application of information technology, the development of logistics service users and logistics service providers, regional cooperation and connection for logistics development, and the completion of State management mechanisms and policies on logistics.

According to the assessment of the project, the logistics industry in Vietnam has many advantages and potentials for development in the future. The country has about 4,000 professional enterprises, and the world's leading multinational logistics enterprises have been present in Vietnam. Although the market size is small, at about 2-4 percent, the growth rate is up to 20-25 percent, with abundant human resources. Most of them are the dynamic young generation who can access technology fast. With a favorable geographical location, Vietnam's logistics industry is forecasted to have strong potentials for development, possibly reaching 80-105 TEUs by 2030.

Banks may face difficulty in raising foreign capital with regulator’s proposal

Capital and expertise of foreign investors can help speed up the banks’ restructuring process.

Capital and expertise of foreign investors can help speed up the banks’ restructuring process but their plans may face challenges.

Currently, many Vietnamese banks have sold equity to foreign investors but many still have foreign room (foreign ownership rate).

Asia Commercial Bank (ACB) has run out of foreign room of about 30%. Vietnam International Bank (VIB) has capped its foreign ownership at only 20.5% after its foreign strategic shareholder Commonwealth Bank holds a 20% stake. 

Techcombank sold its foreign room to Warburg Pincus while Military Bank (MB) raised its foreign ownership rate from 20.9% to nearly 23% in March 2020.  

This year, Orient Commercial Bank (OCB) sold 15 per cent of its equity to Japanese partner Aozora Bank. Meanwhile, HDBank decided to reduce its foreign holding from 30% to 21.5% to facilitate its plan of selecting a strategic partner. Previously, in early May 2020, VPBank's shareholders approved a plan to reduce its foreign holding to 15% from 22.77%.

According to State Bank of Vietnam's statistics, the capital adequacy ratio (CAR) of commercial banks is currently around 9-10%. There are still half of banks failing to meet Basel II standards. The pressure of the Covid-19 on banks is getting stronger, especially increasing capital to ensure safety operation amid fears of rising bad debts.  

In that context, many banks are planning to "clear the way" for foreign investment. However, the State Securities Commission (SSC)’s new proposal to abolish a regulation permitting public companies to decide the maximum foreign ownership rate in their company charters may impede their plans. 

The SSC’s proposal is included in a draft decree guiding the 2019 Securities Law which will come into force next year. Many worry if this proposal is endorsed, some specific industries such as banking will find it difficult to seek strategic shareholders. 

According to the Saigon Securities Inc’s report, only five listed banks succeeded in raising charter capital in 2019. In particular, Vietcombank, VietinBank and BIDV sold shares to foreign investors at good prices, even higher than the market price.  

If without self-determination on foreign room, negotiation with foreign partners will be very difficult, especially for small and medium banks that are in need of foreign investors’ support in technology, management and development strategy. 

The deprivation of the right of enterprises to determine foreign ownership cap can facilitate short-term trading of small foreign investors, increasing market liquidity, according to a bank’s leader. However, if this room is secured for strategic partners, both banks and shareholders can benefit as long-term investment of big international financial institutions will help banks improve governance, technology, products and customer services. 

However, according to the SSC, empowering companies to decide the foreign room can lead to frequent changes in this ratio, affecting the transparency of the market.  

Looking on positive side, General Director of SJC Securities Co Huynh Anh Tuan said unlocking the foreign room will help diversify investors and increase liquidity for the market. As for the banking sector, Mr. Tuan said some countries have certain protection policy and foreign investment in this field is carefully selected. 

In some industries, foreign investors, through their subsidiaries in different countries, hold a higher-than-permitted dominant ownership rate in domestic enterprise, spoiling the whole industry. If this happens in a sensitive industry like banking, it will affect financial stability of the whole economy.

Quang Ninh aims for annual economic growth of 10 percent in 2021-2025

The People’s Council of Quang Ninh province organised its 21st session on December 7, setting a target of attaining an annual growth of about 10 percent in its gross regional domestic product (GRDP) in the 2021 – 2025 period.

At this meeting, the provincial People's Council discussed and issued a resolution on the province’s 5-year socio-economic development plan for 2021 - 2025 with comprehensive solutions.

Accordingly, the province strives to continue promoting the implementation of three strategic breakthroughs, with priority given to key transport projects and projects with high connectivity, economic zones, industrial parks, and seaport infrastructure to form international service and transport infrastructure connection hubs.

It also set to complete Van Don - Mong Cai expressway, Ha Long - Cam Pha coastal road, Cua Luc 1 and 3 bridges in 2021, and the western route of the high-speed riverside road by 2025.

The council also focused on assessing the implementation of socio-economic development tasks in 2020. Amid the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, thanks to the right and timely policies of the provincial Party Committee and the drastic direction of the provincial People's Committee, the province has successfully implemented the "dual goals" of COVID-19 control and socio-economic development, achieving an economic growth rate of over 10 percent in 2020.

In 2021, Quang Ninh aims to maintain its GRDP growth rate at more than 10 percent and total state budget revenue of over 51 trillion VND.

The province strives to maintain its position in the top group in the country in terms of the provincial competitiveness index (PCI), the Public Administration Reform Index (PAR Index), the Satisfaction Index of Public Administrative Services (SIPAS) and the provincial Governance and Public Administration Performance Index (PAPI)./.

Vietnam’s trade surplus hits record high despite COVID-19

Vietnam posted a record trade surplus of 20.1 billion USD in the first 11 months of this year despite the adverse impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global economy, according to the General Statistics Office (GSO).

The GSO said the country’s total trade value in the first 11 months was estimated at 489.1 billion USD, a year-on-year rise of 3.5 percent. Export value reached 254.6 billion USD, up 5.3 percent and import value stood at 234.5 billion USD, up 1.5 percent.

In November alone, export turnover was 24.8 billion USD, down 9 percent from the previous month, but up 8.8 percent compared with the same month last year.

Between January and November, the domestic economic sector generated about 73 billion USD in export value, up 1.6 percent, making up 28.7 percent of the total. Meanwhile, the foreign-invested sector, including crude oil, recorded 181.6 billion USD, up 6.9 percent, accounting for 71.3 percent of the total.

Thirty-one groups of commodities joined the billion-dollar export product club, including 10 groups posting more than 10 billion USD.

The heavy and mining industry raked in 138 billion USD, up 9.2 percent year-on-year. The light and handicrafts industry had an export value of 90.2 billion USD, up 1.5 percent.

Meanwhile, the agro-forestry export value reduced slightly by 0.1 percent year-on-year to 18.7 billion USD and seafood export value plunged by 0.9 percent to 7.7 billion USD.

The US remained the largest export market of Vietnamese goods in the 11 months, with a turnover of 69.9 billion USD, up 25.7 percent year-on-year. It was followed by China, with 43.1 billion USD, up 16 percent; the EU, 32.2 billion USD, down 2.4 percent; ASEAN, 20.9 billion USD, down 10.6 percent; the Republic of Korea (RoK), 17.7 billion USD, down 2.7 percent; and Japan, 17.3 billion USD, down 6.5 percent.

The GSO also reported that total imports in November were estimated at 24.2 billion USD, down 0.5 percent month-on-month but up 13.4 percent year-on-year.

As many as 34 kinds of goods saw import turnover exceeding 1 billion USD, 89.4 percent of the total.

China remained Vietnam’s largest import source, with a revenue of 73.9 billion USD, up 7.9 percent against the same period last year.

It was followed by the RoK, with 42 billion USD, down 2.9 percent; ASEAN, 27.3 billion USD, down 6.9 percent; Japan, 18.6 billion USD, up 4.8 percent; the EU, 13.2 billion USD, up 4.3 percent; and the US, 12.6 billion USD, down 3.6 percent./.

Vietnam has opportunities to approach wide commercial capital market: insider

Vietnam has opportunities to access a wide commercial capital market which allows the country be more active and flexible in capital mobilisation and use in order to compensate for the shrinking ODA, said Truong Hung Long, head of the MoF’s Department of Debt Management and External Finance.


Long made the remark at a workshop seeking measures to intensify relations with investors being jointly held by the Ministry of Finance (MoF) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on December 7-8.

The role and position of Vietnam has seen positive changes, with entering the group of middle-income countries as an important milestone, helping it able to manage debts proactively and effectively, he said.

He noted that intensifying and maintaining relations with investors is an important task to promptly and accurately convey information on the country’s socio-economic development situation and the Government’s policies toward investors.

Lack of information or inaccurate information can make investors or lenders have false understanding as well as negative assessment on risks of loans and investments, he added.

An IMF representative said that the target and principal of the investor relations are data transparency and the ability to contact with Government agencies to clarify publicised information./.

Over half of foreign-sourced loans remain undisbursed as year-end nears: Official

More than 50 percent of this year’s revised plan for public investment sourced from foreign concessional loans and official development assistance (ODA) funds has been left undisbursed as the year’s end approaches, Deputy Minister of Finance Tran Xuan Ha told a Hanoi conference on December 7.

Over 6.31 trillion VND worth of foreign concessional loans and ODA funds were disbursed in the first 11 months of 2020, accounting for 45.51 percent of the annual goal, which was revised down earlier in the year, Ha said at the conference reviewing the 11-month disbursement of foreign-sourced public investment.

Among the underperformers are the Ministry of Planning and Investment and the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, said Hoang Hai, deputy director general of the Ministry of Finance’s Debt Management and External Finance Department. The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, which pledged to fully disburse these sources of financing this year, are doing no better, Hai said.

As of November 30, the MARD had disbursed 763 billion VND worth of foreign loans, representing 41.7 percent of the already-revised plan of 1.83 trillion VND for 2020, said Vu Thanh Liem from the ministry.

The MARD expects to disburse around 90-94 percent of the total this year, largely due to a lack of corresponding funds and the historic flooding striking central Vietnam in October and November, causing delays in many projects’ progress.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Transport is among the best performers, disbursing close to 4.65 billion VND, or 75 percent of the plan, as of November 24, as the ministry has significantly cut the time required for handling procedures and, more importantly, assigned specific tasks and responsibilities to each staff member, Deputy Minister of Transport Nguyen Ngoc Dong said.

Foreign sponsors in some cases have also played a role in slowing down projects, Hai said, adding that there were lengthy delays in the issuance of “no objection” letters from foreign sponsors to approve procurement or the appointment of consulting firms.

To enable faster disbursement, the Ministry of Finance proposed that priority be given to accelerating the progress of projects that end in 2020 or 2021. It also urged other ministries, governmental agencies, and investors to speed up the completion of procedures in terms of investment and construction licensing, residential resettlement, and site clearance for projects.

It is working with the Ministry of Justice and relevant agencies to revise Decree No 97/2018/ND-CP dated June 30, 2018 regarding the on-lending of government ODA and foreign concessional loans in a way that simplifies on-lending procedures and verification./.

Khanh Hoa aims for GRDP growth of 7.4 percent next year

The south-central coastal province of Khanh Hoa has set a target of posting gross regional domestic product (GRDP) growth of 7.4 percent next year.

It was among targets set for 2021 presented by the provincial People’s Committee to the 13th session of the provincial People’s Council that opened on December 7.

The province also aims for GRDP per capita of 73.3 million VND (3,150 USD).

Total export revenue is expected to reach 1.4 billion USD, a year-on-year increase of 2.9 percent, while combined investment for development is to surpass 56.91 billion VND, up 12 percent against 2020.

Another goal is to reduce the proportion of poor households by 0.33 percent and create some 11,500 jobs. Khanh Hoa will work to have 61 out of its 92 communes meeting the criteria of the programme on building new-style rural areas, equivalent to 66.3 percent.

Vice Chairman of the Khanh Hoa People’s Committee Le Huu Hoang noted that the COVID-19 pandemic dealt a blow to all socio-economic spheres in the province while local people also bore the brunt of drought in the middle of the year and heavy rain and flooding at year’s-end.

The tourism, trade, and labour sectors have been hardest hit, affecting budget collections, economic growth, and cultural activities.

The province will continue to focus on realising the dual targets of fighting COVID-19 and ensuring economic recovery over the next year.

Khanh Hoa fulfilled seven out of 16 set targets this year relating to society, healthcare, and the environment. Of particular note, the rate of trained workers hit 80 percent and health insurance coverage 91.2 percent.

Ninety-five percent of rural residents also have access to clean water.

It was unable to complete nine goals, including those on per capital GRDP, export revenues, State budget collection and social investment for development, among others./.

Supporting industry firms to get interest rate subsidy

Companies in the supporting industry will get an interest rate subsidy from next year in an effort to promote the development of the part-supply industry, said Pham Tuan Anh, Deputy Director of the Industry Agency under the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

Anh said that the ministry was cooperating with relevant ministries and agencies to complete the policy for companies in the supporting industry in 2021.

Due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, most companies in the supporting industry encountered difficulties.

“The difficult time, however, is a significant opportunity for enterprises to find a new direction and to improve their competitiveness,” Anh said.

The Vietnamese Government recently issued Resolution No 115 on solutions to promote the development of the supporting industry. One of the solutions was providing interest rate subsidies for enterprises in this sector.

The subsidy was supported by the Government through refinancing to commercial banks, which would be sourced from medium-term public investment. The support would be equal to the difference between the commercial loan interest rate and the State’s preferential investment credit loan interest rate but not exceeding 5 percent.

“This is a bold policy which will provide significant support to enterprises,” he said.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade was cooperating with the State Bank of Vietnam and the Ministry of Finance to detail the interest rate subsidy policy. The draft was expected to be submitted to the Government for consideration and issuance in January next year.

Anh also urged companies in the supporting industry to be proactive in enhancing their production and management capacity to meet requirements of global manufacturers, which would be important, together with the Government’s support policies, to enable Vietnamese firms to participate deeply in the global value chains.

On October 30, the Ministry of Industry and Trade issued an action plan to implement the Government’s Resolution No 115/NQ-CP dated in August about solutions to promote the supporting industry./.

Remittance flows to ASEAN fall in Quarter 2

The amount of money migrant workers in the ASEAN bloc sent home fell in the second quarter of the year amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, in a worrying sign for household incomes and local economies, according to the latest report from the ASEAN 3 Macroeconomic Research Office (AMRO).

Earnings transfers to Cambodia, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines shrank year on year in the second quarter of 2020, reversing the previous year's growth.

AMRO attributed the decrease to the deadly outbreak of the novel coronavirus which fuelled job losses across the region, including among migrant workers.

Second-quarter remittance receipts contracted 8.7 percent in Cambodia, 22 percent in Indonesia, 1.3 percent in Thailand and 9.3 percent in the Philippines.

Permanent economic scarring, protracted travel curbs, and a structural shift in labour markets may mean that the job opportunities are already lost and redeployment of migrant workers "may not be fully possible", the AMRO report warned.

As such, the authors urged countries that typically send migrants abroad to expand social safety nets, support training schemes, and strengthen domestic labour markets.

Such measures are meant to better cover returning workers in the medium term, especially as weak remittances also hit trade balances and tax revenues.

The report noted that the global trend showed an improvement in remittance inflows after April and May, as economic activity resumed after the epidemic's first wave.

But the authors added that "the rebound might hide ongoing weaknesses", such as an increasing reliance on formal remittance channels that could have buoyed official in-flow figures despite unchanged or even decreasing remittance values.

As more migrants move towards digital money transfers, countries could also help to ensure that transaction fees for remittances are "affordably low" and regulations are put in place to enable efficient and safe transfers, they suggested./.

Quang Ninh aims to serve 10 million domestic tourists in 2021

Over 1.1 million domestic holiday-makers visited the northern coastal province of Quang Ninh in November 2020, doubling the figure reported in the previous month.

The locality raked in nearly 1.7 trillion VND (73.2 million USD) from tourism activities in the month, and 15 trillion VND (over 646.7 million USD) in the last 11 months.

According to Doan Manh Linh from the provincial Department of Tourism, thanks to its tourism promotion policies and the organization of cultural, sport and tourism events across the locality, Quang Ninh has attracted a large number of domestic tourists in recent months, especially on the weekends.

Hotels in the Complex of Yen Tu Monuments and Landscape reached 90 percent of their capacity, while about 3,000 - 5,000 tourists visiting Ha Long Bay per day in November, Linh said.

Total visitors to the province this year are estimated at 8.8 million, down 37 percent from 2019. Of the figure, over 536,000 are foreigners, a 90.7 percent decrease year on year.

The locality set a goal to serve 3 million domestic visitors in the last three months of 2020, and about 10 million in 2021, Linh said.

The tourism sector is expected to be a spearhead economic sector and a key contributor to the locality’s gross regional domestic product (GRDP) growth amid difficulties posed by the COVID-19 outbreak.

To that end, many tourism promotion and connection programmes have been organised, especially in localities with great demand such as Ho Chi Minh City, the south-east, south-west and central-Central Highlands regions.

It has also given heed to developing new and high-quality products, particularly those bearing local culture and heritage values.

Quang Ninh is also calling for investors with strong financial capacity and brand names to invest in developing strategic tourism infrastructure and luxury and sustainable tourism projects in coastal areas such as Van Don - Co To, Hai Ha, Mong Cai and Tra Co, and the world natural wonder Ha Long Bay./.

Petrol prices rise in December 11 adjustment

Retail petrol prices rose from 4pm on December 11 following the latest review by the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Ministry of Finance.

The price of E5 RON92 biofuel increased by 635 VND to a maximum of 15,129 VND (0.66 USD) per litre and RON95-III by 656 VND to no more than 16,007 VND per litre.

Diesel 0.05S and kerosene, meanwhile, now sell at no more than 11,892 VND and 10,777 VND per litre, up 458 VND and 639 VND per litre, respectively.

The price of Mazut 180CST 3.5S is now no more than 11,942 VND per kg, an increase of 200 VND.

According to the two ministries, the prices of petrol and oil in the global market have been increasing strongly for 15 days, hence the up adjustment.

They review fuel prices every 15 days to ensure domestic prices are in keeping with the global market./.

Sustainable development businesses in 2020 announced

A total of 100 sustainable development businesses in Vietnam this year were honoured during an awards ceremony held in Hanoi on December 10, which was attended by Vice State President Dang Thi Ngoc Thinh.

Organised by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), the Vietnam Business Council for Sustainable Development (VBCSD) together with relevant ministries and the Vietnam General Confederation of Labour, the event was designed to encourage and honour businesses which effectively carried out tasks in sustainable development in 2020.

In his remarks, VCCI President Vu Tien Loc said that the Government welcomed positive impacts in promoting the sustainable development of Vietnamese firms in the current period, as important policies in the field were promulgated in the past two years. They all state the requirements in sustainable business assessment and apply the Corporate Sustainability Index (CSI) introduced by the VCCI.

VCCI is mulling over other CSI versions for micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) and corporations in developing countries, he added.

As opportunities come along with difficulties and challenges, domestic firms were advised to change their business mindset towards sustainable development, apply the CSI in business governance and in their network of partners, in an attempt to enhance resilience.

Established by VCCI in 2010, the VBCSD helps businesses and social organisations in Vietnam play a pioneer role in sustainable development. It also serves as a bridge to bolster close collaboration in dialogue and connection between the business community, the Government and social partners./. 

Vietnam, Argentina boost trade, investment cooperation

A webinar was held recently to delve into the diversification and exploitation of new opportunities in Vietnam – Argentina economic cooperation.

Co-organised by the Vietnamese Embassy in Argentina and the Mercosur-ASEAN Chamber of Commerce, the event aimed to introduce to Argentinean enterprises the business climate and functioning mechanism of the Vietnamese market and discuss Argentina’s policies to encourage investment and import-export.

Speaking at the event, Vietnamese Ambassador Duong Quoc Thanh said Vietnam has so far managed to control the COVID-19 pandemic and sustain its economic development to an encouraging level compared to the regional and global average levels.

The Vietnamese Government always creates favourable conditions for domestic and foreign investors to invest and trade within their capacity, he affirmed.

Praising the Vietnam – Argentina trade, which saw a four-fold increase in the 2010-2019 period, Thanh hoped the webinar will allow the sides to put forth new ideas and discuss recommendations for the diversification of their traded goods and post-pandemic cooperation.

The ambassador suggested the sides exchange their products of strength like Vietnam’s electronic devices and mobile phones and Argentina’s medicine and eco-diesel products.

Joint investment projects in IT, digitization, nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, and social housing also need consideration, he added.

Pablo Enrique Sivori, Undersecretary for Trade Strategy and Economic Promotion at the Argentina Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Trade and Worship, said the Argentinean Government always highly evaluates the potential of Asian markets, which account for 80 percent of the nation’s export turnover.

Vietnam is one of the prioritised partners of Argentina, he stressed./

Forum promotes trade ties between Vietnam and Europe, Eurasia

A forum to promote trade links between Vietnamese enterprises and partners in Eurasian markets was held in Hanoi on December 10 by the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT)’s European-American Market Department.

The forum aimed to update the business community on information relating to policies and markets in the region.

Participants focused discussions on demand and measures to support domestic businesses in expanding export markets and further promoting the export of Vietnamese products of strength to the region.

Addressing the forum, Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Dang Hoang An stressed that out of the 27 partner countries in the Eurasian region, 11 have joined the EU and another five are in the process of joining, while Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia, and Kyrgyzstan have established the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU).

Vietnam has signed free trade agreements with both the EU and the EAEU, he said, adding that solid institutions and legal frameworks have been established to enhance bilateral cooperation, including 14 intergovernmental committees and joint committees and one consultation mechanism for bilateral economic cooperation.

Vietnamese businesses have favourable conditions to further promote trade with countries in Eurasia, he added.

An affirmed that the ministry will continue to accompany the business community, work to remove barriers, and further enhance trade promotion activities, business matching events, and seminars and dialogues in the time to come.

According to the General Department of Vietnam Customs, two-way trade between Vietnam and the Eurasian region hit 10.4 billion USD in 2019, and 10.34 billion USD in the first ten months of 2020, representing year-on-year rises of 20.78 percent and 17.98 percent, respectively.

FTAs between Vietnam and the EU and the EAEU are expected to contribute to promoting stronger trade, industry, and investment cooperation between Vietnam and other countries in Asia and Europe in general, and those in Eastern Europe and Central Asia in particular./.

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

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