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Vietnam customs revenue down by nearly 15% in Jan-Oct


 The customs authority is set to step up efforts against smuggling, trade and origin frauds. 


The government forewent over VND8.2 trillion (US$355.45 million) in customs revenue between January and October as a result of Vietnam's commitments to free trade agreements.

Vietnam’s customs revenue in the first ten months of 2020 declined by 14.66% year-on-year to VND250.46 trillion (US$10.86 billion), or 74.10% of the year’s estimate.

The Import – Export Duty Department under the General Department of Vietnam Customs (GDVC) attributed the decline in customs revenue to the severe impacts of Covid-19 pandemic on trading activities, especially in importing machinery, auto parts, petroleum products, among others.

Meanwhile, at the time of planning, prices of crude oil were predicted to reach US$60 per barrel, but now hover around US$40 per barrel, which directly impacts customs revenue.

Vietnam’s customs authority said the country’s global economic integration and participation in free trade agreements have offered both opportunities and challenges to the economy.

On the positive side, Vietnam’s trade turnover in the first 10 months this year stood at US$439.81 billion, up 2.65% year-on-year, of which exports rose by 4.9% year-on-year to US$229.65 billion and imports edged up 0.3% to US$210.16 billion.

Meanwhile, the government forewent over VND8.2 trillion (US$355.45 million) in customs revenue during the period as a result of Vietnam's commitments to free trade agreements.

Provinces and cities with the sharpest decline in customs revenue over the 10-month period are Haiphong with revenue of VND43.87 trillion (US$1.9 billion), down 24.34%; Dong Nai with VND11.81 trillion (US$511.9 million), down 23.3%; Ninh Binh with VND4.36 trillion (US$189 million), down 28.95%; and Ho Chi Minh City with VND83 trillion (US$3.6 billion), down 16.56%; among others.

For the final two months of the year, the GDVC expected to continue simplifying administrative procedures related to customs procedures to create more convenience for enterprises, with the aim of achieving the customs revenue target for this year.

Notably, the customs authority is set to step up efforts against smuggling, trade and origin frauds.

Vietnam to host ASEAN Business and Investment Summit 2020 

This year’s theme ‘Digital ASEAN: Sustainable and Inclusive’ will discuss the importance of the Fourth Industrial Revolution in stimulating growth, trade and investment.

After 10 years, Vietnam is set to once again host the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit (ASEAN-BIS) on November 13 that will bring together over thousands of delegates from across Southeast Asia and the wider region, stated the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), the event organizer. 

As the region’s premier annual forum with the participation of presidents, prime ministers and business leaders, it is a unique platform where ASEAN and its partners engage the private sector community to discuss the future of the region.

The distress and shock from the Covid-19 pandemic have been deeply felt by the people and economies of ASEAN. On a global scale, the pandemic has shattered the world’s economy, paralyzed production and pushed many businesses to the brink of bankruptcy, while many have already fallen into it. It has caused people to stop, rethink business models and social contracts and reconsider the future of work.

The business sector with its dynamism, creativity, innovation and passion will be a key driver in identifying measures and steps to bounce back and ensure resilience in all economies.

This year’s theme ‘Digital ASEAN: Sustainable and Inclusive’ will discuss the importance of the Fourth Industrial Revolution in stimulating growth, trade and investment against the backdrop of the shock of the coronavirus and the many challenges facing the region.

The Summit’s program will cover four sub-themes: ASEAN’s Economic Outlook; the Future of ESG Investing in Asia; Technology and the Future of Work in ASEAN; and ASEAN Resilient, Sustainable and Inclusive Growth. Like the past summits, this year’s event would anticipate the participation of the leaders of ASEAN as well the presidents and prime ministers of ASEAN’s Dialogue Partners such as Australia, China, India, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Russia and the US.

On November 12, the VCCI is set to hold the annual Vietnam Business Summit 2020, one of Vietnam’s most important business events.

With theme “Digitized Vietnam: Toward Resilient Responsive and Sustainable Development”, the summit would focus on discussing Vietnam’s opportunities and potentials in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic; smart logistics: the key for Vietnam to enhance its competitiveness in the global supply chain; and cooperation in innovative agriculture to contribute to global food security.

Vietjet offers millions of 0 VND tickets on Single’s Day

Budget airline Vietjet offers more than 1 million tickets priced only 0 VND on November 11 across the wide flight network of Vietnam to welcome the biggest shopping event – the Single’s Day. 

With the flight period from November 12, 2020 to March 31, 2021, passengers can enjoy entirely the most beautiful travel season of the year on the journey to find beloved partners.

Having restored the entire domestic flight network with 250 flights per day, Vietjet opens sales for all fare types including Eco, brand-new Deluxe, upgraded SkyBoss to meet people and tourists’ flying demands from the North to the South.

Especially, the flight route connecting Ho Chi Minh City – Hanoi, the two largest cities in Vietnam, has also increased the frequency of up to 25 flights per day with convenient schedule, stable flight times, modern aircraft with comfy seats, friendly cabin crews, a choice of nine delicious hot meals and many special activities at an altitude of 10,000m.

Promotional tickets are up for grabs on Vietjet's official sales channels at website, Vietjet Air mobile app, the official Facebook page at, ticket offices and official agents.

Cambodia earns over 25 million USD from ecotourism in nine months

Cambodia earned 25.21 million USD from ecotourism services in the first nine months of 2020, according to Neth Pheaktra, Secretary of State and Spokesperson for the country's Ministry of Environment.

The income derived from the visit of 529,160 national tourists and 7,385 international travellers to the ecotourism areas located in 22 communities of 12 protected areas in eight provinces across Cambodia.

Neth Pheaktra was quoted by local media agency AKP as saying that this does not only contribute to national economy but also promote Cambodia’s ecotourism potential and the love and protection of the environmental and natural resource among the locals – indicating noticeable increase compared to 2018 and 2019.

Cambodia’s ecotourism areas cover 35,003 hectares of the land surface in the provinces of Rattanakiri, Kampong Speu, Koh Kong, Pursat, Preah Vihear, Kampong Thom, Kampot and Kampong Chhnang.

Neth Pheaktra expressed his confidence on the government’s strategy to boost ecotourism which is sustainably creating more jobs, improving household income, and reducing illegal logging.

He thanked all concerned players in ecotourism as well as domestic and foreign visitors which are the demand and supply sides indispensably bringing the industry to a new level.

In 2019, the ecotourism sites received 402,293 tourists generating about 18.90 million USD, and in 2018 they welcomed 343,852 visitors and earned about 16.16 million USD.

A report from the Cambodia’s Ministry of Tourism showed that the Southeast Asian country only received over 1.24 million foreign visitors in the first nine months of 2020, a fall of 74 percent year on year. For the whole year, the country is likely to welcome about 1.32 million foreign tourists, down 80 percent over the same period last year.

Indonesian, Singaporean central banks extend 10-billion-USD bilateral financial pact

The Bank Indonesia (BI) and the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) have announced the extension of their 10-billion-USD bilateral financial arrangement for another year.

The extension has been endorsed by Indonesian President Joko Widodo and Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, they said in a recent joint media release.

Accordingly, the move will support monetary and financial stability in both countries amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The arrangement was established in November 2018, following the Singapore-Indonesia Leaders’ Retreat, where the leaders asked BI and MAS to establish the arrangement to build confidence in each other’s economies. It was previously extended for a year in November 2019./.

Indonesia: Agriculture only sector to post growth in 3rd quarter

Agriculture was the only key sector that contributed to Indonesia’s growth in the third quarter of 2020, given the overall economy contracting 3.49 percent on-year, according to Indonesia’s Central Statistics Agency (BPS).

Among the country’s five dominant business sectors, only agriculture recorded positive growth, at 2.15 percent, BPS chief Suhariyanto said.

The growth was fueled by the second rice grand harvest and high demand for fruits, vegetables, and plantation commodities, including cocoa, rubber, cloves, and tobacco.

During the period, the processing industry contracted 4.31 percent, trade 5.03 percent, the construction sector 4.52 percent, and mining 4.28 percent.

Although many sectors recorded a contraction, the BPS perceived signs of an economic recovery, as, on average, business fields have recorded positive growth on a quarterly basis./.

Canadian ginseng promoted in Vietnam

Canadian ginseng was officially introduced to Vietnamese consumers for the very first time at an event in Hanoi on November 7.

The product has been traded since the early 1700s. Canadian ginseng is the largest field grown horticultural export crop in Ontario with over 5 million pounds harvested every year.

Numerous varieties of Canadian ginseng products are now available in the Vietnamese market including dried ginseng root, ginseng powder, ginseng capsules, ginseng chocolate, ginseng candy, ginseng tea, and ginseng coffee.

Canadian ginseng exports to Vietnam showed a marked increase growing from 25,000 CAD in 2018 to 2.8 million CAD last year.

Under the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), dried Canadian ginseng root is currently enjoying tariff-free status while tariffs on other value-added ginseng products will be eliminated by 2022.

“We are proud to introduce Canadian ginseng, which is known for its superior quality, potency, taste and aroma. Thanks to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, tariffs on Canadian value-added ginseng products will be eliminated by 2022 and I hope more Vietnamese consumers will have a great experience with Canadian ginseng,” said Janine Fiddler, senior trade commissioner and counsellor at the Embassy of Canada to Vietnam.

The bilateral merchandise trade between the two countries reached a new record of 7.9 billion CAD last year. Canada’s exports of agri-food to Vietnam topped 396.9 million CAD, while Vietnam’s exports of agri-food to Canada were worth 578.5 million CAD.

Vietnam was the second-largest destination for Canada’s agri-food and seafood exports within ASEAN last year.

Top Canadian agriculture and agri-food exports to Vietnam include grains, oilseeds, fish and crustaceans, fruits, beef and pork, and dairy products.

The CPTPP establishes duty-free access for trade in goods between Canada and Vietnam and makes high-quality Canadian products more affordable to Vietnamese consumers.

Canada and ASEAN are considering the possible launch of free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations. An ASEAN-Canada FTA would further promote bilateral trade between Canada and Vietnam and help both countries with COVID-19 recovery efforts.

More firms established, resuming operation in October

Noticeable increases in the number of enterprises that were newly established or restarted operation were recorded in October in comparison to September, signaling a recovering post-pandemic market, an office has said.

According to the Agency for Business Registration under the Ministry of Planning and Investment, 12,205 new firms entered the market last month, up 18.4 percent from September and 0.2 percent from the same period last year.

Meanwhile, October saw 5,044 companies resume their businesses, mostly in retail sale, automobile repair, construction, processing-manufacturing industry, realty and tourism. The figure is 10.4 percent higher than that of the previous month.

In the first 10 months of this year, Vietnam had 111,160 new firms, a mere annual decrease of 2.9 percent.

The period also recorded a 14.4 percent on-year increase in the average registered capital per enterprise which was 14.3 billion VND (617,070 USD). This meant the scale of new firms has been expanded.

Also in the period, existing companies added 3.89 quadrillion VND to their capital, up 17 percent from last year, reflecting their confidence in the country’ post-pandemic recovery.

On the other hand, 85,541 firms withdrew from the market in the 10 months, increasing 58.7 percent year on year. Of them, 41,783 registered for a limited shutdown.

The agency said such figures demonstrated a prolonged and heavy impact of COVID-19 on business and production./.

VinaCapital conference lists attractions Vietnam has for investors

Vietnam continues to be a very attractive destination for investment despite, or perhaps because of, everything that is happening in the world, experts from investment management firm VinaCapital have said.

Vietbnam had taken timely and effective measures to control the COVID-19 outbreak, they said, adding that thanks to that, its GDP had seen growth in 2020 and the economy was stable.

In the long term they expected more investors will come when companies continue to move out of other markets.

COVID-19 had clearly shown how sustainable Vietnam was and foreign investors would soon return to the country, VinaCapital said.

Vietnam is an ideal destination thanks to competitive labour cost and good location near Asian supply chains, according to the firm.

Don Lam, co-founder and CEO of the company, said: “The Government’s adept management of the outbreak has positioned Vietnam to recover quickly and in fact the country is predicted to be one of the few to post positive economic growth in 2020.”

In order to bring foreign investors information about the Vietnamese market, VinaCapital has organised virtual conferences including a series of presentations over four weeks.

Lam said: “For investors, there is nothing like being on the ground in Vietnam and seeing with their own eyes the growth and progress that is happening here. Unfortunately, that’s just not possible this year, so we did the next best thing and give them a view of what is happening here via a virtual conference featuring our fund manager and other key executives.

“We provided viewers with overviews of where we think the economy is headed … as well as a look at some other areas we have been focusing on such as renewable energy.”

Founded in 2003, VinaCapital is headquartered in Vietnam with a diverse portfolio of over 3 billion USD in assets under management./.

Local tuna exports to US market enjoy swift recovery

Vietnamese tuna exports to the United States have enjoyed a sharp rebound following a period of enduring a constant decline, according to figures released by the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP). 

The association revealed that the country’s tuna exports to the US throughout August and September recorded an increase of 5.2% and 1.6%, respectively, therefore bringing the total export value during the first nine months of the year to over US$208 million, representing an annual decline of 13.8%.

Throughout the reviewed period, fresh, frozen, and dried Vietnamese tuna exports to the US market fell by approximately 39% on-year, while processed and canned tuna exports enjoyed a sharp rise of roughly 29%.

This level of robust growth has served to boost the total value of local processed and canned tuna exports to the US market from 36.8% to a figure of 55%.

Furthermore, the average export price of frozen tuna and steamed tuna fillets to the US hovered between US$9.3 and US$7.1 per kilo, respectively.

With US businesses in the process of rebuilding warehouses, import demand for processed and canned tuna from the US is anticipated to increase in the near future.

Fruit and vegetable exports to demanding markets enjoy sharp surge

Fruit and vegetable exports to fastidious markets such as the Republic of Korea, Taiwan (China), the United States, and Japan have witnessed robust growth during the initial ten months of the year, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. 

The export value of local fruit and vegetables throughout the reviewed period recorded a decline of 12.5% to US$2.72 billion in comparison with the same period from last year.

China remained as the largest importer of Vietnamese fruit and vegetables, making up 57.5% of the overall market share with an export value of US$1.43 billion, an annual decrease of 25.9%. Elsewhere, exports to Hong Kong (China) and the Netherlands endured falls of 2% and 3.7%, respectively.

According to the Agro-Processing and Market Development Authority (Agrotrade), this decline in domestic fruit and vegetable exports can be attributed to a sharp fall occurring in export turnover of several fruit products, including dragon fruit, bananas, lemons, and durians.

Agrotrade attributed the increase in China’s imports to the high demand that typically occurs around the Mid-Autumn Festival and National Day, along with shortages of the supply sources of fruit and vegetables caused by the impact of devastating floods which have hit Hubei province.

Fruit and vegetable exports are projected to witness a positive outlook during the remaining months of the year as a result of an increase in Chinese’s import demand, in addition to the positive effects of the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA).

SCG reports robust operating results for the third quarter

SCG reported its operating results with a 57 per cent on-year growth in profit for the third quarter thanks to the recovery of the global chemicals market, an increase in the proportion of high value-added products and services products, the strong business model of its packaging business, and the transformation of its cement-building materials business to meet customer demands.

As for operating results for the first nine months of 2020, SCG registered VND148.67 trillion ($6.46 billion) in revenue from sales, a fall of 9 per cent on-year due to decreased chemicals selling prices in-line with the drop in oil prices. Profit for the period totaled VND19.25 trillion ($836.96 million), up 5 per cent on-year as a result of increased contributions from cement-building materials and packaging businesses. The overall business has remained agile and responsive. Technologies are harnessed to streamline the entire supply chain.

Under the new standards, SCG's revenue of high value-added products and services (HVA) sales for the first nine months of 2020 amounted to VND69.01 trillion ($3 billion) or 31 per cent of total revenue from sales.

Besides, SCG’s revenue from performance businesses outside of Thailand, including export sales from Thailand in the first nine months of 2020, reached VND95.13 trillion ($4.13 million) or 43 per cent of the total revenue from sales. The figure was slightly lower than the previous year.

Cement-building materials business has secured continued growth with CPAC Construction Solution, which leverages advanced technology and SCG’s high-quality products and expertise to provide end-to-end construction solutions that meet customer demands.

As of September 30, the total assets of SCG amounted to VND530 trillion ($23 billion), while the total assets of SCG in ASEAN (ex-Thailand) amounted to VND200.2 trillion ($8.7 billion), which is 38 per cent of SCG’s total consolidated assets.

Based on its third quarter report, SCG in Vietnam owned VND97.3 trillion ($4.23 billion) worth of total assets, an increase of 59 per cent on-year from the chemicals business. The company reported a third-quarter revenue from sales of VND6.64 trillion ($288.7 million) which includes sales from both operations in the country and imports from the Thai operations.

Petrol prices witness slight fall following latest review

The Ministry of Industry and Trade, along with the Ministry of Finance, moved to revise the price of petrol and oil being sold nationwide on November 7, with the latest retail price of bio-fuel E5 RON 92 witnessing a drop of VND159 to VND14,109 per litre. 

Furthermore, the price of bio-fuel RON 95 saw a decline of VND182 per litre to VND14,940.

In contrast, the price of diesel 0.05S rose by VND123 per litre and is set to be sold at no more than VND11,218 per litre moving forward.

Moreover, the price of kerosene increased by VND90 to VND9,717 per litre, whilst the price of mazut 180CST 3.5S inched up by VND340 per kilogram and is now capped at VND11,261 per kilogram.

The latest changes in petrol prices have occurred following a review of fuel prices conducted by the two ministries, a process which takes place every 15 days in order to make relevant adjustments in accordance with fluctuations occurring on the global market.

Long Thành property market expects to take off

The development of Long Thành International Airport is expected to directly affect the real estate market in the southern province of Đồng Nai and neighbouring areas.

Nguyễn Mạnh Hà, vice chairman of Việt Nam Real Estate Association (VNREA) and former Director of the Housing Management and Real Estate Market Department, told a conference held in Hà Nội on Thursday that Long Thành District would be an important gateway for trade with major intersections of established and existing roads such as HCM City - Long Thành, Dầu Giây - Đà Lạt, Dầu Giây - Phan Thiết and Biên Hòa - Vũng Tàu, that helps connect the province with HCM City and other areas quickly and conveniently.

In addition, Long Thành was also preparing to develop the Bắc Sơn - Long Thành boulevard, which will be 60 metres wide with four lanes. This would be the axis of trade and service development from Biên Hòa to Long Thành International Airport.

“When considering Long Thành in the international airport network, with a “god-given” position in the heart of the airport system, it will definitely become the busiest airport in the Asia-Pacific region in the near future,” he added.

Trần Kim Chung, deputy director of the Central Institute for Economic Management, said the property market in Long Thành and surrounding areas would receive great opportunities thanks to the airport project.

“The residential and industrial real estate market would see breakthrough development as factories producing goods transported by air would be built near the airport,” he said.

Expert Lê Xuân Nghĩa said in the next 50 years, Long Thành would be the No 1 urban development area, because there is no place left for land, with a beautiful location and many advantages in infrastructure and location. The National Assembly has also considered carefully the development of Long Thành with potential to be able to develop on a regional scale. Therefore, a worthy plan is needed.

“Real estate developers should prepare a big capital source for long-term development in the area as they would have to develop their projects and invest in infrastructure, building roads and schools at the same time,” he added.

Vũ Quốc Việt Nam, Senior Director of Đất Xanh Group, also said that there is a growing real estate market.

He said the investments of the Government and province in Đồng Nai infrastructure is huge, not only for the short term in 10 years, but for 30 years. For example, HCM City - Long Thành – Dầu Giây Expressway, Bến Lức – Long Thành Expressway, Đồng Nai and Vũng Tàu are also studying to make expressways connecting the two provinces.

In addition, the Cái Mép Port cluster is also the largest in Việt Nam. That means Long Thành Airport is the core for highways to connect to it. As such, there are two leading infrastructure projects in Long Thành including an airport and a deep-water port, along with five highways and Cát Lái Bridge. The area has lots of potential.

An active market

A recent report by the Việt Nam Real Estate Research Institute showed that Long Thành land plot is an attractive investment channel for investors. With the current relatively low land price of only VNĐ20-30 million per square metre, the prices in the area near the airport would be able to reach VNĐ100-120 million per square metre if infrastructure is developed.

The Long Thành property market would increase despite the general fluctuations of the economy thanks to the airport planning information.

Economist Vũ Đình Ánh said with its potential, Long Thành could become the country’s, and region's, hub for logistics. The residential and industrial park real estate, as well as demand for offices, warehouses and trade centres, would also rise.

Vũ Cương Quyết, General Director of Đất Xanh Miền Bắc Company, said the demand for housing in Long Thành is currently continuing to increase and the liquidity in the market is at a high level.

According to planning, Long Thành International Airport would serve 100 million passengers and five million tonnes of freight annually, with investment of VNĐ336.63 trillion (US$14.51 billion) for three phases. In which, phase 1 with a capacity of 25 million passengers and 1.2 million tonnes of cargo per year will have a total investment of VNĐ114.45 trillion ($4.9 billion). 

SAV enhances IT application in audit activities

The application of new and modern technologies into auditing has brought significant changes and improved the effectiveness of the activities, according to the State Audit of Viet Nam (SAV).

As the wave of technology has strongly penetrated sectors which are subject to auditing activities, it is vital to update new technology trends to apply to the audit. Technology has become an important tool in enhancing audit effectiveness.

SAV’s auditors have applied software in the audit of land planning and management in urban areas which were complicated as well as compensation and support for resettlement when implementing projects.

For example, the Global Mapper and Map Tiler software have helped auditors read and analyse numerical data on land use planning maps, determine boundaries of land plots and actual land status compared with land use planning. The software has helped them save time and increase accuracy.

In addition, when applying software to pair the planning map to the digital map system with GPS positioning, it will help auditors accurately determine the planned land location in the area, thereby detecting false cases.

Thanks to the technologies, the audit delegation in Region XII discovered 87 areas which are not matched between planning and reality, with total areas of more than 325ha in Pleiku City in the Central Highlands province of Gia Lai.

Auditor Nguyen Thi Thanh Loan who directly participated in building credit rating software for banks said after applying the software, it is easier for auditors in inspecting the accuracy of debt classification, clarifying risk prevention costs and eliminating risks in auditing. The software also helps auditors unify the method and process the audit data when performing a single operation audit for many branches of a bank.

In addition to IT application into audit activities, SAV has also used other advanced technologies which are showing positive results. Of which, the application of remote sensing technology to mineral mining audits in northern Hai Phong Port City’s Thuy Nguyen District has been a testament to the impacts of new technologies on audit efficiency.

According to SAV’s Chief Inspector, Duong Quang Chinh, currently, the natural resource tax is collected based on the output of the exploited amount. This causes a great disadvantage as the nature of the tax must be collected based on the natural resource stock.

This is the reason that there are losses in natural resources as businesses often choose locations with favourable conditions for exploitation to reduce costs. In addition, with the management based solely on the exploited output while there is no effective method of managing exploitation output, the State has lost trillions of Vietnamese dong in natural resource tax.

The application of remote sensing technology in the mineral exploitation audit has helped increase tax collection.

Chinh said by using calculation results of the technology, SAV has prevented risks of illegal exploitation which causes natural resource losses and destroys the environment.

He added that SAV should choose suitable technologies and complete a legal foundation for each audit sector.

Nguyen Thi Thanh Loan said it is necessary to have human resources who are both knowledgeable in audit and IT to be able to co-ordinate with technology experts, thus increasing the initiative in the audit process. SAV has been actively promoting training and supplementing IT-knowledgeable auditors while enhancing investment in developing software tools to support auditors.

The State Auditor General has approved SAV’s IT development strategy and overall architecture for the 2019-25 period, with a vision to 2030. The strategy identifies an appropriate roadmap to move the traditional audit process to a digital one by using Big Data, artificial intelligence (AI) and internet of things (IoT).

By applying achievements in science and technology into audit activities, SAV has shown its pioneering role in the position of chair of the Asian Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions in 2018-21. 

Requirement for refuge area might push up housing price: association

The requirement for an area of refuge in high-rise buildings was necessary, but this might push up housing prices, according to the HCM City Real Estate Association.

The Ministry of Construction recently made public a draft about national technical standards for residential and commercial buildings which had a new point that high-rise buildings must have areas of refuge where people could take shelter in case of fire or other emergencies.

The area for refuge would be compulsory for buildings with height of 100m or higher, meaning that 30-50 storey buildings should have one to two floors for refuge.

Le Hoang Chau, the association’s Chairman, said that it was necessary to have areas for refuge in high-rise buildings to ensure safety. Big cities were seeing the construction of more skyscrapers, such as the 461.3-metre Landmark 81, 336m Kaengnam Landmark 72 and 272m Lotte Centre Ha Noi.

However, there were no buildings in Viet Nam with an area of refuge, except the 68-storey Bitexco in HCM City with the top floor for a helipad.

Chau said that having an area for refuge might push up investment costs and housing prices which would weigh on homebuyers. This problem needed to be put into consideration especially in the context that housing prices were already high in Viet Nam.

To avoid pushing up costs for developers, the area of refuge should not be included in the total floor area of the project and the height of the refuge floor should not be included in the maximum height of the building when licensing, Chau said.

According to Tran Chung, former Director of the State Authority for Construction Quality Inspection under the Ministry of Construction, there were now more and more apartment buildings of more than 40 storeys. It was necessary to develop technical standards, especially for fire prevention and fighting, he stressed. 

Vinaconex to buy back 44 million shares

Viet Nam Construction and Import - Export Joint stock Corporation (Vinaconex) plans to buy back 44.17 million treasury shares by mid-December.

The shares account for 10 per cent of the company’s total outstanding shares and transfers will be executed between November 16 and December 15.

The share buyback plans aim to increase the market value for existing shareholders, according to the company.

Funding for the buyback is the share premium, undistributed post-tax profit, and available internal funds.

Vinaconex shares, listed on the Ha Noi Stock Exchange with code VCG, rose 1 per cent to VND41,500 (US$1.79) apiece on Friday.

The company reported a surge in post-tax profit in the third quarter, which quadrupled last year’s figure to reach VND1.04 trillion ($44.8 million).

Nine-month post-tax profit jumped 18 times on-year to VND2.92 trillion.

The profit growth was attributed to the sale of real estate projects, which offset disappointing core business results.

In July-September, sales revenue dropped 45 per cent on-year to VND1.27 trillion. The nine-month revenue slipped 39 per cent on-year to VND3.8 trillion. 

VietCapital Securities to offer $51.6 million bonds

VietCapital Securities Corp (VCSC) will sell VND1.2 trillion (US$51.6 million) worth of bonds in 2020-21 to fund business activities and restructure debts.

The bonds will be sold in two phases. The first half of the package will be sold from November 2020 to January 2021 and the second half will be offloaded in June-August 2021.

The bond is due in 24 months with the annual interest rate of 7-9 per cent.

Income raised from bond issuance will be spent funding the proprietary trading and margin lending. Revenue and income from margin lending, proprietary trading and stock broking will help the firm settle interest with buyers.

Since the beginning of 2020, VCSC has settled VND1.24 trillion worth of bonds and VND103 billion worth of bond interest. After nine months, the company posted VND419 billion worth of post-tax profit and a 10 per cent return-on-equity (ROE) ratio.

VCSC shares, listed on the Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange with code VCI, were flat at VND38,900 apiece last Friday. 

Vietnamese digital economy expected to jump to US$43 billion by 2025

The nation’s digital economy reached a figure of US$12 billion in 2019, with the sector anticipated to record rapid growth in the coming years to reach a figure of US$43 billion by 2025.

A seminar running the theme of "Vietnam's e-commerce development in the digital era" was held on November 4 in Hanoi, with delegates outlining that the country enjoys the highest growth rate of all digital economies in ASEAN. Many participants proposed a range of solutions aimed at developing e-commerce across a variety of areas pertaining to social life and business activities.

Statistically, both Vietnam and Indonesia lead the way with regards to growth in digital economic development throughout the ASEAN region, reaching average annual growth of 38%, while the remaining countries in the bloc usually see annual growth of between 20% and 30%.

The accelerated voluntary digital transformation of businesses as a result of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has served to further speed up the movement of customers towards e-commerce activities in the nation.

This comes after the Vietnamese digital economy reached a sum of US$12 billion in 2019 and is predicted to rise to US$43 billion by 2025, including in the fields of e-commerce, online travel, online media, and e-hailing vehicles, of which, e-commerce is expected to reach US$23 billion in sales by 2025.

In a master plan aimed at greater national e-commerce development for the 2021- 2025 period adopted by Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, e-commerce will be considered one of the pioneering areas of the digital economy, helping businesses to vastly improve competitiveness, and develop export markets.

Nguyen Thi Minh Huyen, deputy director of the Department of E-Commerce and Digital Economy under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, said, "The Prime Minister's Decision 749 has outlined a vision by 2025, in which the digital economy accounts for 20% of GDP and e-commerce is one of the important components for the US$35 billion target of total retail e-commerce of goods and services nationwide by 2025.

E-commerce is increasingly asserted as one of the important modern distribution channels besides the traditional one."

Vietnamese e-commerce growth in recent years indicates that the telecommunications infrastructure is yet to fully meet the requirements of the digital economy due to the distributed data system not being shared and interconnected. In addition, development is not equal among economic field and regions, while the connection of economic sectors is not as high as expected.

As a result of these factors, participants at the seminar said that, along with promoting e-government and building towards a greater digital economy, it is necessary to announce a master plan relating to information technology development and application.

Assoc. Dr. Phan The Cong from the University of Commerce stated, "It is necessary to work out a master plan on the development of information technology application. It should clearly indicate a national development strategy for each sector and each locality across the country in order to help people, businesses, and managers shape the development strategy of information technology application.”

He also underscored the need to ensure cybersecurity whilst combatting high-tech crime based on decrees and regulations with a synchronous legal system as a means of creating trust for users.

Local tuna exports to US market enjoy swift recovery

Vietnamese tuna exports to the United States have enjoyed a sharp rebound following a period of enduring a constant decline, according to figures released by the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP). 

The association revealed that the country’s tuna exports to the US throughout August and September recorded an increase of 5.2% and 1.6%, respectively, therefore bringing the total export value during the first nine months of the year to over US$208 million, representing an annual decline of 13.8%.

Throughout the reviewed period, fresh, frozen, and dried Vietnamese tuna exports to the US market fell by approximately 39% on-year, while processed and canned tuna exports enjoyed a sharp rise of roughly 29%.

This level of robust growth has served to boost the total value of local processed and canned tuna exports to the US market from 36.8% to a figure of 55%.

Furthermore, the average export price of frozen tuna and steamed tuna fillets to the US hovered between US$9.3 and US$7.1 per kilo, respectively.

With US businesses in the process of rebuilding warehouses, import demand for processed and canned tuna from the US is anticipated to increase in the near future.

Japan's JFE acquires shares of BIWASE to strengthen foothold in water treatment

JFE Engineering Corporation from Japan has signed an MoU for business alliance with Binh Duong Water Environment JSC (BIWASE) and acquired 3.87 per cent of its shares at an auction held on October 6 by the Ho Chi Minh City Stock Exchange. 

JFE Engineering to sign an MOU for business alliance with BIWASE and acquire its shares
BIWASE is a leading water supply and environmental service company in Vietnam, having eight water treatment plants with total capacity of 396,500 cubic metres a day of fresh water and a waste disposal site with a capacity of 2,500 tonnes of waste per day in Binh Duong province. BIWASE also provides operation and maintenance (O&M) services to wastewater treatment plants owned by the local government.

In Vietnam, JFE Engineering Corporation has delivered Hoa Lac wastewater treatment plant with a capacity of 36,000cu.m per day and has been involved as the engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contractor of the Yen Xa wastewater treatment plant.

JFE Engineering Corporation will cooperate with BIWASE on improving the capacity of facilities in the water supply sector and the development of wastewater treatment and solid waste recycling/treatment business including O&M services to respond to continued demand caused by strong economic growth in Vietnam.

JFE Engineering will expand EPC services for water and wastewater treatment business as well as try to participate in O&M operations in these areas to contribute to achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 6 to ensure the availability and the sustainable management of water and sanitation for all in Asia.

Mainstream to co-develop 500MW offshore wind energy project in Ben Tre province

Following the Phu Cuong Soc Trang project in Soc Trang province, Mainstream Renewable Power has signed a joint development agreement with Advance Information Technologies Corporation (AIT), a local specialist in providing EPC services to power projects and a strong local developer of renewable energy projects, to co-develop a 500MW offshore wind power project in Ben Tre province.

The wind farm received the requisite site survey licence earlier this year. Since then, it has completed a feasibility study and then submitted a Power Development Plan (PDP) application to the Ministry of Industry and Trade to add the project to the Vietnamese government’s forthcoming national PDP8 for the period 2021-2030 with vision to 2045.

The wind farm is expected to reach financial close and start construction in 2023-2024, and reach commercial operation in 2025-2026, when it will provide much-needed power to support the economic growth in Vietnam.

Mainstream has been actively developing projects in Vietnam since establishing its Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City offices in 2017.

Most notably, Mainstream has partnered with PCG to deliver the 1,400MW Phu Cuong Soc Trang project in Soc Trang province. Once complete, the project will be the largest wind farm in Southeast Asia, powering over 995,000 homes and avoiding around 1.22 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent each year.

Vietnam is capable of generating 10GW of electricity by offshore wind farms by 2030, suggested studies carried out by the Danish Energy Agency and the World Bank. Vietnam possesses a long shore and potential for 160GW of wind power energy within a radius of  5-100 km from shore.

Safe tourism requires strong collaboration: experts

The promotion and implementation of safe tourism requires close cooperation between ministries, governmental departments, localities and travel companies, experts noted at a seminar on safe tourism organized by the Saigon Times Group in the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho on November 6.

Many recent international surveys have indicated that safety is the top priority of travelers in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic changing how the tourism industry operates.

Addressing the seminar, Can Tho City vice chairman Duong Tan Hien said Can Tho is one of the travel hubs in the Mekong Delta region with convenient aviation, road and waterway infrastructure. However, the pandemic has severely affected the city’s socioeconomic development and tourism is one of the hardest hit sectors.

From January to October, tourist arrivals to the city reached 1.1 million, dropping by 52.6% compared with the same period last year. Tourism revenue was estimated at over VND2 trillion, down 43.4% year-on-year.

Helping the tourism industry recover is one of the most important tasks of not only the city but also the whole region and the promotion of safe tourism is of special importance for recovery.

Nguyen Minh Tuan, deputy director of the Can Tho City Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, said there have been over 50 documents issued to guide the local authorities and travel firms on travel safety.

According to Tuan, most travel firms have strictly complied with safety measures such as ensuring face masks and hand sanitizers for tourists and checking their body temperature. However, many enterprises have not registered to follow safety standards and join the “safe tourism map” initiated by the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism.  

Phan Dinh Hue, director of Viet Circle Travel Service Company, stated that Vietnam is among the countries that have most effectively contained the pandemic, which is a big advantage for tourism recovery.

Hue suggested that besides the general safety criteria, the country needs to have specific safety standards based on major services, such as safe destinations, traffic safety, safe food and safe healthcare.

He also proposed establishing a safe tourism alliance with its own safe tourism criteria. The criteria should be set up by a group of experts and recognized by international organizations. The alliance should also apply advanced technologies and have communication strategies to operate efficiently.

Le Dinh Minh Thy, director of Vietravel - Can Tho Branch, said this is the appropriate time to stimulate tourism as tourists are returning after the second Covid-19 wave. Travel companies must attach special importance to ensuring safety for travelers. “Even if travel companies launch numerous promotions and discounts but tourists still don’t feel safe, they cannot attract them and boost tourism recovery,” she said.

Vo Xuan Thu, general director of Victoria Can Tho Hotel, said it’s not hard to develop safety criteria, but it’s hard to apply these criteria thoroughly and encourage all stakeholders to follow them. According to Thu, there are currently some 200 accommodation businesses in Can Tho City, but only 70 of them have registered to apply the safety criteria.

Therefore, besides building both specific and general tourism safety standards, it’s essential to quickly create a network of travel firms and organizations synchronously implementing the criteria.

Banks ordered not to force customers to buy insurance

The State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) has asked credit institutions to enhance internal control and an inspection into insurance business operations and impose strict sanctions on those who force borrowers to buy insurance packages.

Besides, commercial banks were ordered not to attach the compulsory purchase of insurance to loans, Nguoi Lao Dong Online reported.

SBV ordered commercial banks to strictly comply with regulations on the insurance business to ensure the operations of insurance businesses and agents develop sustainably, according to a document on the insurance business sent to credit organizations by SBV’s Banking Supervision Agency.

Local banks, while introducing insurance products, must clearly explain the terms and conditions of purchasing insurance to customers who want to purchase the products, apart from helping customers understand the benefits of insurance.

The central bank also asked commercial banks to disseminate the prevailing regulations on insurance business to their employees to avoid violations.

The central bank’s move is aimed at putting insurance business operations in order, as many commercial banks are boosting insurance sales via banks and play a role as exclusive distributors of insurance products for major insurers. Insurance sales at several banks have also jumped over the past few months.

Even though many local banks denied compelling customers to buy insurance packages, many borrowers were forced to purchase insurance packages to get loans. Many bank employees have focused on how many insurance packages need to be sold without providing sufficient information and the terms of insurance contracts, sparking an outcry from customers.





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