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NCIF forecasts average annual growth of 7% in 2021-2025



The National Center for Socio-economic Information and Forecasting (NCIF) predicted that Vietnam’s annual average GDP in the 2021-2025 period will be maintained at 7 per cent at the annual “Prospects for Vietnam’s Economy” international conference held on November 21 in Hanoi, with the participation of hundreds of scholars from Vietnam, Ireland, and elsewhere.

The theme of the conference was “Vietnam’s Economic Perspectives for 2021-2025: Opportunities and Challenges from New Generation Free Trade Agreements” and was organized by the NCIF and the Ministry of Planning and Investment in cooperation with the Irish Government’s Irish Aid.

Speaking at the opening of the conference, Dr. Tran Thi Hong Minh, General Director of the NCIF, said the conference is a good opportunity for the two countries to exchange experience and discuss ways to strengthen the effectiveness of their cooperation in promoting the development of analytical and foresight research.

She noted that Vietnam has integrated more deeply and broadly into the global economy and signed or is negotiations over a large number of bilateral and multilateral trade agreements. These agreements have shaped the present and future of Vietnam’s economic development. Two new generation free trade agreements (FTAs) Vietnam has signed recently, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the EU-Vietnam FTA (EVFTA), will have a significant impact on its economy in the years to come.

“Within the framework of cooperation between the NCIF and Trinity College Dublin and with support from Irish Aid, we have conducted research on economic outlooks, analyses, and forecasts, including projections for the upcoming period of 2021-2025,” Dr. Minh said. “We also assessed the potential impacts of new generation FTAs to manage and allay any negative effects they may have on Vietnam’s economy.”

In speaking about Vietnam’s economy in 2016-2020 and prospects for 2021-2025, Dr. Dang Duc Anh, Deputy General Director of the NCIF, said the economy posted many positive achievements in 2016-2020 but also contained many risks and limitations. Among the most notable achievements are maintaining high growth, stabilizing macroeconomics, and keeping inflation under control.

“GDP growth in the 2021-2025 period may reach 7 per cent on average, according to NCIF estimates based on the global economy and other factors affecting Vietnam’s economy,” Dr. Duc Anh told the gathering.

Professor John FitzGerald, a scholar at Trinity College Dublin who has worked closely with NCIF researchers on building economic forecasting methods that fit Vietnam’s economy, presented a paper on economic modeling and forecasting at the national and regional level. He said there are several aspects in the development of Vietnam’s economy that reflect the Irish development experience. He hoped that his experience in undertaking research on a very different economy will benefit the NCIF researchers.

Participants discussed the following subjects at the conference: Vietnam’s economic overview, development prospects, and economic forecast scenarios in the 2016-2020 and 2021-2025 periods; the impact of new FTAs, particularly the CTPPP and EVFTA, on Vietnam; and modeling and forecasting for Vietnam’s economy at the national and regional level.

The conference offered an opportunity for government officials, scientific researchers, and economic forecasting experts and scholars to have a broad-based exchange on how to select suitable economic forecasting models for Vietnam’s economy.

Vietnam, Indonesia step up audit cooperation

A high-ranking delegation from the State Audit of Vietnam (SAV), led by Deputy Auditor General Nguyen Quang Thanh, had a working session with the Audit Board of Indonesia (BPK) in Jakarta on November 25.

At a working session with BPK Chairman Agung Firman Sampurna, Thanh affirmed the improvement in audit quality has been a top priority of the SAV so as to successfully implement the State Audit Development Strategy to 2020 and fulfil its mission as the Chair of the Asian Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions (ASOSAI) during 2018-2021.

Therefore, the SAV is promoting study and learn experience from international organisations to realise its targets.

Describing the BPK as an important partner of the SAV, Thanh stressed that various exchanges and visits were conducted between the two sides to share experience in the fields of mutual interest, helping enhance cooperation in education and training to better auditors’ capacity.

Meanwhile, Agung Firman Sampurna said that since the Memorandum of Understanding between the two audit bodies were inked at the ASEAN Supreme Audit Institutions (ASEANSAI) Summit in Laos in 2017, a wide range of cooperative activities have been organised, including technical assistance and conferences and training courses on operational audit, environmental audit and construction audit.

Last year, the BPK helped the Vietnamese audit organisation to carry out environmental audit in waste management in Bac Ninh province’s industrial parks, and build environmental audit guidelines, he said, adding both sides worked closely within the framework of the ASEANSAI, the ASOSAI, and the International Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI) to consolidate public finance management.

During their stay from November 24-28, the Vietnamese delegation is scheduled to exchange experience with the BPK’s agencies in outlining audit plans, risk-based auditing approach, and applying IT in audit, among others./.

Business seminar to promote Vietnam – Ghana trade

Vietnamese and Ghana enterprises will have more chances to boost cooperation at the Vietnam – Ghana business seminar, which is scheduled for November 28 in Hanoi.

The event will be held within the visit to Vietnam by a delegation from the Ghana Ministry of Industry and Trade from November 27-30.

According to the Vietnamese Ministry of Industry and Trade, Ghana is one of a well-developed economy in the Western African region, with income per capita of more than 2,316 USD per year. The Ghana economy is backed by abundant natural resources of gold, oil and gas, diamond and titan, among others. The country also has healthy business climate, and enjoys stable poverty reduction process.

Total trade revenue between Vietnam and Ghana in 2018 reached 572.9 million USD, up 2.6 percent from the previous year, with Vietnam’s exports valued at 278.3 million USD.

Vietnam sold rice, household appliance and steel in the Ghana market, while purchasing raw cashew and wood from this African country.

During January-October, two-way trade was estimated at 551 million USD. Vietnam earned 224 million USD from shipments to Ghana, and splashed out 287 million USD to buy goods from the nation./.

Extended producer responsibility in solid waste management

The workshop on extended producer responsibility (EPR) in solid waste management provided a holistic view on creating a more comprehensive and effective EPR legal system in Vietnam.

On November 22, 2019,Workshop on Extended Producer Responsibility in Solid Waste Management took place at the International Convention Center in Hanoi co-organised by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MoNRE) and Packaging Recycling Organization Vietnam (PRO Vietnam).

EPR is most commonly defined as “an environmental policy approach in which a producer’s responsibility for a product is extended to the post-consumer stage of the product’s life cycle”. The application of EPR legislation not only to shifts the financial burdens on public budgets and taxpayers to producers but also helps improve recycling and reduce landfilling. Therefore, EPR has been widely adopted in most OECD countries since the 1980s as one of the key policies to respond to the challenges of solid waste growing in both volume and complexity.

In Vietnam, the EPR concept has been first introduced in the Law on Environmental Protection 2005, with several supplements and adjustments in 2015. That was followed by the Prime Minister’s directive on the collection and recycling of solid waste in 2013, then revised and supplemented in 2015. However, the current EPR schemes are only modestly effective due to the lack of comprehensive targets and application areas, effective financial tools, or detailed guidance in implementation. In this context, the need for a more comprehensive EPR system as part of the National Action Plan is a priority issue for Vietnam.

Pham Tuan Hung, head of the Legal Affairs Department of the MoNRE shared, at the workshop: “Building a comprehensive EPR legislation is an integral part for the National Action Plan of Vietnam in tackling solid waste, especially plastic waste. Hence, we give recognition and appreciation for open dialogues with multiple stakeholders in public policy development and consider this as data for improving the EPR legislation to assure comprehensiveness, shared financial responsibility, and long-term financial sustainability. In my personal view, I believe that building and implementing an effective EPR system will be a critical factor in advancing the circular economy in Vietnam.”

According to the proposal on EPR legislation enhancement to the MoNRE, PRO Vietnam affirmed the important role of producers, brand owners, distributors, retailers, import-exporters in managing and recycling post-consumer packaging waste to minimise the impacts on the environment. In fact, it would be unrealistic to try and “copy-paste” an EPR approach from one country to another. Each country faces unique challenges and must develop its own approach to meet its specific environmental, social, and economic conditions.

Laurent Levan, president and CEO of URC Vietnam shared:

“As a part of PRO Vietnam, the coalition’s activities would ensure a reconcilement of economic, social and environment beneficial factors and a balance between producing convenient products with protecting the environment. Together with 12 members of PRO Vietnam and moving forward to new decade, URC Vietnam is persistently pursuing a sustainable development and support the ERP system, as it would be key competitive advantage that enables all the corporations to operate more efficiently and better serve the consumer”.

At the workshop, Fausto Tazzi, vice chairman of PRO Vietnam, stated, "PRO Vietnam with the participation of 12 leading brand owners, packaging producers, and distributors have strong commitments to sustainable packaging. In general, an EPR system aimed at recycling post-consumer packaging waste is to enable the successful growth of recycling while maintaining a level playing field for all packaging materials. We treasure the opportunities for open discussions and opinion-sharing to support the development of EPR in waste management and packaging recycling growth for a greener Vietnam."

Discussed topics at the workshop include ERP models and their pros and cons in improving solid waste management, as well as successful EPR models in the world (Korea, Taiwan, and South Africa), understanding the context of Vietnam, and recommendations for EPR development in Vietnam.

The workshop was organised under the framework of the MoU signed by the MoNRE and PRO Vietnam in last September to promote activities in reducing, segregating, collecting, and recycling waste and fostering the development of the circular economy in Vietnam. This workshop is one of the various programmes organised by the MoNRE to prepare the proposal to adjust and supplement the Law on Environmental Protection which is expected to be submitted by the government to the 9th National Assembly in 2020.

Leading drug maker Pharbaco to list on UPCoM

Central Pharmaceutical Joint Stock Company No.1 (Pharbaco) is expected to trade 40 million shares on the Unlisted Public Company Market (UPCoM) on November 26 at the reference price of VND11,500 ($0.5) per share, according to the Hanoi Stock Exchange (HNX).

Pharbaco (ticker: PBC) has been operating under the JSC format since 2007. Currently, it is one of the leading drug makers under the Ministry of Health.

At end of October 2019, Pharbaco has eight shareholders holding 96 per cent of the total capital, of which Saigon Pharma owns 35.3 per cent, Apollo (26.63 per cent), Vinapharm (14.25 per cent), Cong Huy Cuong Pharma (12.5 per cent), and Reliv Pharma (7.2 per cent).

In 2018, Pharbaco made a net revenue of VND1.22 trillion ($53 million), up 31 per cent on-year. However, its after-tax profit fell by 82 per cent on-year to just over VND3 billion ($130,400).

Pharbaco blamed the low profit on the fluctuations of foreign currency exchange rates, thus resulting in an increase in input material costs and a rise in the cost to upgrade the eastern medicine plant, among others.

This year, Pharbaco aims to report a revenue of VND1.5 trillion ($65.2 million) and profit of VND20 billion ($869,600). The company plans to pay no dividend in 2018 and 2019.

In the first nine months of 2019, Pharbaco made nearly VND955 billion ($41.5 million) of revenue.

Plastics & Rubber Vietnam is on horizon

Amidst the positive economic outlook and strong demand in the plastics and rubber sectors in northern Vietnam, the international plastics and rubber technologies and materials exhibition Plastics & Rubber Vietnam this year will be held in Hanoi for the first time between November 27 and 29 at the International Center for Exhibition.

The International Conference titled “Circular Economy – Formula for The Plastic Industry’s Sustainable Development” will take place on the sideline of Plastics & Rubber Vietnam in Hanoi
Over the last decade, plastics manufacturing has cemented itself as a key supporting industry in Vietnam, with an average growth rate of 15-20 per cent annually. This is attributed to the consistent surge in domestic packaging (FMCG) consumption and industrial manufacturing from foreign direct investment. In 2020, Vietnam’s plastics export demand is expected to boom and account for $4.3 billion.

The rubber industry is also full of potential. Vietnam contributes to the growth of the world industrial network, in which the rubber manufacturing industry is expected to reach $300 million, and is one of the three highest rubber exporting countries in the world. The rubber manufacturing industry will receive a lot of government support to upgrade and improve technologies and install modern equipment dedicated to rubber processing.

For its very first appearance in Hanoi, Plastics & Rubber Vietnam presents a top-notch list of products and technologies on 4,300 square metres of exhibition area. The show has also attracted more than 200 exhibitors from 24 countries and regions and the participation of eight international group pavilions from great markets such as Taiwan, Germany, Korea, Singapore, China, Qatar, Australia, and Italy.

The three-day exhibition will present a comprehensive showcase of technology and solutions for the FMCG packaging, films and sheets, pipes and fittings, as well as building and construction, automotive and transportation, electronics, furniture, and household sectors.

Within the framework of the programme, the international conference titled Circular Economy – Formula for the Plastic Industry’s Sustainable Development will update Vietnamese plastics enterprises on the global picture of plastics recycling that is putting the circular economy model at the core. Besides, the conference will draw up a roadmap and solutions for Vietnamese SMEs to gain access to the circular economy model. The conference, which is co-organised by Informa Markets in Vietnam and Revival Waste, will open from 8:00 to 12:00 on November 28, 2019 at the International Center for Exhibition (I.C.E Hanoi).

Backed by support from numerous government agencies and industry associations, Plastics & Rubber Vietnam aims to increase the service offerings to industry professionals in the northern region. The exhibition promises visitors and attendees a comprehensive range of plastics and rubber products and services, state-of-the-art technologies, integrated solutions, parts, components, as well as materials and supplements.

Advertising revolutionised with the TikTok experience

The short-form video phenomenon TikTok is emerging as a strong player in Vietnam’s marketing industry by partnering with a number of brands and unveiling a slew of advertising capabilities.

Over the past few years, content-sharing platforms like YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram have become fertile ground for brands to scale their marketing efforts. However, the recent soaring popularity of TikTok has inspired marketers to regard it as a potent advertising arena compared to the rest.

Fast food chain Lotteria is one of the latest to launch a campaign, which in the summer targeted TikTok’s user base. Using their popular hashtag challenge ad unit, the brand unveiled its #mozzaria campaign, encouraging users to create upbeat and visually compelling videos to attract viewers. The campaign aimed to promote Lotteria’s “endless cheese” theme for its new hamburger product.

After only six days, Lotteria’s campaign went viral with nearly 27,000 videos shared, amassing over 19 million views. The company also made efficient use of TikTok’s Brand Takeover ads and in-feed equivalents.

A takeover advert will appear instantly when a user opens the app, while in-feed adverts are native ads placed in the feed of TikTok as part of the video queue. With these methods, Lotteria has increased its visibility by 50 per cent and improved click rates for their advertisements to 11.5 per cent.

Another brand, Cocoxim, has also been successful in attracting millions of users after launching its #saycocoxim challenge on TikTok this year. The challenge encouraged users to post videos with special dance moves with emphasis on using bright green colours throughout. After only two days, Cocoxim attained around 20 million ad impressions. Meanwhile, click rates for its advertisement reached 12 per cent.

Other brands have also capitalised on the viral nature of the TikTok platform, from Vietnamese telecoms giant Viettel to American makeup mainstay Maybelline.

Marketing on TikTok is helping brands to save a great deal of time, money, and effort when compared with other types of campaign. Famous brands like Oreo and Pizza Hut have teamed up with TikTok and achieved unprecedented success as a result. Likewise, big names like Michael Kors, Airbnb, Chevrolet, Dior, and Adidas have used the applications’ adverts to promote products in unique and visually compelling campaigns.

With a large number of daily active users, TikTok presents an enormous opportunity for advertisers. The visual app – which allows users to edit and share short videos with built-in filters, effects, and music – has shaken up the marketing world, presents several innovative advertising solutions to help brands drive engagement and business results.

As a short video platform, TikTok does not encourage brands to cram content in the videos to garner viewers. Instead, a takeover advert will appear in only five seconds to capture the attention of users. If users want to explore and join the campaign, they can click on the ad which will be redirected to an internal or external link, in the form of either a hashtag on the app, or an external brand website.

In addition, brands can partner with TikTok’s marketing team to create a sponsored challenge or other exclusive effects that encourage users to share content on TikTok on the brands’ behalf. With these tools, users can join forces with brands to spread campaigns and in this way users become part of the campaign, and actively become part of the campaign, instead of passively absorbing ads as regular viewers.

With new emerging solutions a core part of the business, TikTok also gives advice to brands on how to deliver content and build hashtag challenges in order to reach their media and advertising goals.

TikTok’s core audience is Generation Z, commonly regarded as people born after the mid-1990s. Surveys have found that this age group on average spends around eight seconds paying attention to videos before moving on, and only trust the values of the brands based on practical actions. Therefore, the mobile video app has emerged as a lucrative platform for both brands and marketers.

PSI together with CMC TS and Goline officially introduce new securities trading system

A securities trading system, designed to initially support clients, securities service staff, independent brokers and regulators, was officially launched on Tuesday, after nearly one year of implementation.

The new system was developed by PetroVietnam Securities Incorporated (PSI) and the joint venture of CMC Technology and Solution (CMC TS) and Goline Informatics Technology and Service Joint Stock Company (Goline).

On the platform of Okasan Information System Company (OIS), one of five leading securities enterprises in Japan, the new securities trading system will help PSI to minimise business process and operating time with automated processing tools, while also reducing freezing and crashing issues during trading hours.

Currently, OIS securities software system is being deployed successfully in the stock markets of Japan, Hong Kong and Shanghai.

PSI's new securities trading system provides the fastest stock quotations in Viet Nam, supporting up to 10,000 common orders and 5,000 margin trading orders per second.

Securities investors can actively manage their accounts in real time safely and effectively without having to contact the securities company directly and any changes in asset data are automatically updated.

Nguyen Xuan Hung, PSI’s deputy director, said that when the new system was officially implemented, tasks were automatically operated on software.

Moreover, the new securities trading system with cutting-edge technology would support PSI to easily develop new products to meet capacity requirements of stock market, while providing dynamic reports with quick response time, assisting PSI’s directors in decision making and management, he added.

In this project, the joint venture of CMC TS and Goline is a total solution provider. In addition to equipping the Core software system for securities trading, CMC TS also provide PSI with server equipment infrastructure system, storage system and synchronous network system which connects bank, stock exchanges and securities depositories.

This infrastructure system meets operating requirements of Core software, and is ready for the application of future operational functionalities according to international standards.

Information security review system provided by CMC Cyber Security, a member company of CMC TS, will ensure the highest security for customer transactions.

“Core-system conversions are always challenging, complex and intense. In this project, CMC TS is proud of delivering PSI total solution from infrastructure to software deployment, as well as information security for the system. CMC TS is committed to accompanying PSI to ensure the operation and security of the new securities trading system,” Ho Thanh Tung, CEO of CMC TS stated.

KIM’s fund to buy shares of Dat Xanh real estate

A member fund of Korean Investment Management (KIM) on Thursday announced it has purchased one million shares of Dat Xanh Real Estate Service and Construction Corp (DXG).

After the transaction, the fund has increased its ownership in DXG from 4.93 per cent to 5.12 per cent, equivalent to more than 26.6 million shares.

Earlier, this fund also raised its holdings in Hoa Binh Construction Group JSC (HBC) to 5.11 per cent, after reducing the ownership at the Cotec Construction Joint Stock Company (CTD) to 2.05 per cent.

DXG’s Board Member and Deputy General Director Bui Ngoc Duc has recently registered to sell 198,400 DXG shares. Transaction time is expected to take place from November 25 to December 24.

After the sale, Duc will have 915,432 remaining shares, equivalent to holding rate 0.18 per cent.

DXG has been trading at around VND15,000-16,000 (US$0.6-0.7) per share in the last three months, higher than the bottom in August of only VND11,800 per share. It closed Thursday at VND15,650 per share.

In the first nine months of this year, DXG’S post-tax profit reached VND906 billion, up 21 per cent year-on-year.

VinaCapital VOF posts a 2.2% NAV growth rate in October

VinaCapital Vietnam Opportunity Fund (VOF) has reported net asset value per share growth was 2.2 per cent in October.

In October, the benchmark VN-Index on the Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange inched up total 0.2 per cent.

Driving VOF’s net asset value (NAV) was the increases of heavy weights in the fund’s portfolio – Khang Dien House (HoSE: KDH), Airports Corporation of Vietnam (UPCoM: ACV) and Phu Nhuan Jewellery (HoSE: PNJ).

Shares of the three companies rose between 2.7 per cent and 3.9 per cent in October as their third-quarter earnings grew better than expected.

On the opposite side, weighing on the fund were steel producer Hoa Phat (HPG) and dairy firm Vinamilk (VNM).

Hoa Phat shares edged down total 0.7 per cent last month while Vinamilk shares gained slightly 0.2 per cent in total.

Besides those five companies, another five in VOF’s top 10 holdings were Eximbank (HoSE: EIB), Quang Ngai Sugar (UPCoM: QNS), Orient Commercial Bank, construction firm Coteccons (HoSE: CTD) and PetroVietnam Technical Services (HNX: PVD).

Total value of the shares held by VOF was US$935.6 million. Sixty-three per cent of the shares were listed, while unlisted equity accounted for 17.9 per cent of the total value.

The fund also invested in bonds (3.3 per cent of the total value), private equity (14.2 per cent) and operating assets (1.5 per cent).

Heavy-weight sectors in VOF’s list of investee companies were real estate and construction (19.2 per cent), food and beverage (16.6 per cent) and construction materials (11.1 per cent).

In October, PetroVietnam Technical Services replaced HDBank in VOF’s investee companies list. In August, VOF announced it had exited aviation firm Vietjet.

After 10 months, the fund recorded a 0.9 per cent decline of NAV per share while the benchmark VN-Index had advanced total 11.8 per cent in USD terms.

Vinachem to auction shares of Southchimex

The Viet Nam National Chemical Group (Vinachem) plans to auction more than 461.5 million shares of Southern Chemicals Import and Export JSC (Southchimex) with an initial bid price of VND253,300 (US$10.94) per share.

The auction is scheduled for December 12 at 9am.

The number of shares, valued at VND117 billion, is equivalent to 49 per cent of Southchimex, whose charter capital reaches VND9.4 trillion.

With this initial bid price, Southchimex is valued at up to more than VND238 billion.

Southchimex specialises in distributing fertiliser products in the southern region, southwestern region, Mekong Delta and south Central Highlands with a consumption output of nearly 200,000 tonnes per year.

The company also imports chemicals such as sodium sulphate, soda ash light and sulphur to serve buyers in many different industries such as manufacturing, washing powder, silicate production, glass, textile and detergent foaming agents.

Previously, Vinachem had also successfully auctioned more than 900.4 million shares of Da Nang Chemical Industries JSC (DCI) with a starting bid price of VND113,700 per share while DCI market price at the time of auction was only VND2,800 per share.

The successful bid price for DCI shares was VND133,733 per share.

Digital farming could hold the key to solving agriculture paradox

Digitisation of farming is inevitable and Viet Nam should embrace it to resolve the agricultural paradox of producing more while preserving natural resources and to grab the opportunities brought by free trade agreements, experts have said.

Reports from research organisations said the world population would increase by 2.2 billion by 2050 and demand for food would increase by 50 per cent.

During this period climate change is expected to reduce harvests by 17 per cent while arable land will shrink by 20 per cent.

The agricultural sector globally and in Viet Nam is therefore set to face big challenges.

A more resilient food future will rely on sharp increases in agricultural research and development; better alignment of government finance and incentives for farmers with long-term, sustainable and climate-smart production; and a steep change in access to information, innovative technologies, and finance to enhance the resilience of millions of small-scale farming households whose livelihoods are most critically impacted by climate change.

How to increase productivity and secure a sufficient supply of quality food while protecting resources is a big question which has been asked for a long time.

A possible solution lies in modern technologies like IoT, big data and cloud.

“To enable us to feed a growing world population, it is critical for agriculture to harness technology to become more efficient, productive and sustainable, especially in light of decreasing natural resources including arable land and water,” Sam Eathington, chief science officer at The Climate Corporation of Bayer, told Viet Nam News on the sidelines of a conference on future farming.

“Digital farming solutions enable farmers to make data-driven decisions in real time, and help them utilise fewer and more precise amounts of resources, including water, labour and crop protection inputs.

“This helps us to grow more with fewer inputs per unit of output.”

Scientists, farmers and authorities in the country have carried out a number of programmes and projects to digitise farming.

The benefits brought by digitisation do not stop at solving the produce-preserve paradox, but also enable the country to expand exports to other countries at a time when it has signed several trade deals.

Agriculture is one of the sectors to benefit greatly since the EU is the second largest market for Vietnamese farm exports such as coffee, cashew nuts and pepper and the two sides have a new trade deal.

Not only will it boost exports and improve the sectors competitiveness and Viet Nams economic integration, but also bring the opportunity to access innovation and technology.

Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Le Quoc Doanh said: “As Europe is also a high-quality market, Vietnamese agricultural products need to be more competitive to seize the opportunity.”

The Government is offering a number of incentives to attract investors in digital farming, conferences have been organised to seek solutions, there are tie-ups with science companies to provide tailored solutions to farmers, and training classes have been organised to help farmers know about technologies.

The Viet Nam Digital Agriculture Association was launched in September to upgrade the technology infrastructure to develop digital farming, connect with and expand markets, identify tailored digital solutions for each cultivation model, attract investors, and have human training.

Many prestigious companies and entrepreneurs have already joined it.

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Xuan Cuong said that there had never been any movement in which many companies are pouring investment to green and high-tech agriculture as well as digital farming.

Many large players including Vingroup, Hoa Phat Group and Thaco Group are becoming strategic investors in agricultural companies.

Foreign investors and scientists are tying up with Vietnamese companies and bringing advanced know-how to develop digital farming.

Bayer Vietnam, for instance, signed an exclusive agreement with Trung An to promote the use of unmanned aerial systems and provide customised plant protection services, targeting the export market.

A two-year pilot project began on 200 hectares out of an 800-hectare Trung An farm in Kien Giang Province last May.

Another solution from the company includes a trait and bioscience technology to make seeds tolerant to pests like fall army worms, which affect corn. The worm is now a threat, significantly reducing yields all over the world including Viet Nam

The company is also working on a project with some key stakeholders to make Vietnamese agriculture sustainable by enhancing farmers capabilities and applying technology in digital farming.

Quang Binh enticing serious investors

With strenuous efforts towards improving the environment and promoting investment, the central province of Quang Binh is continuing to up the pace in alluring investors of all shapes and sizes, especially those coming from Europe.

Earlier this year, Quang Binh People’s Committee issued Action Plan No.37/KH-UBND presenting tasks and solutions for socio-economic development and budget ­estimates in 2019, and implementing the action plan on ­governmental Resolution No.02/NQ-CP issued in January on tasks and major solutions to improve the local business environment and enhance national competitiveness with a vision towards 2021.

For the reform of administrative procedures, on the basis of the plan, Quang Binh People’s Committee assigned specific tasks to departments, agencies, and localities to ensure effective implementation.

Departments and agencies are being required to deploy IT application at the Public Administrative Centre in a modern and synchronous manner to smooth the settlement of administrative procedures, allowing receiving dossiers by post, conducting online public administrative transactions, enabling approval of digital signatures, and providing expanded access to channels.

In addition, the committee has also directed departments, agencies, and localities to facilitate reform through shortening the time for administrative processing, regularly providing update information and data on planning, the latest mechanisms and policies to businesses and investors, and guiding on how to approach investment incentives in an effective manner.

Meanwhile, it has organised meetings with businesses and investors quarterly, thereby directly receiving, responding to, and assigning specific tasks to relevant departments, helping to tackle difficulties businesses and investors in the province have been facing.

Furthermore, the province has ordered departments and localities to review and update documents, databases, and enact publications such as films and documents introducing potential investment opportunities in Quang Binh. It also asked for updates to the list of priority projects calling for investment in English and Japanese in order to serve investment promotion events.

In regards to promotion activities, Quang Binh continues to implement external activities synchronously and effectively, simultaneously actively participating in a number of big investment promotion events by ministries and central agencies to connect and introduce advantages and investment opportunities in the province to non-locals.

According to Tran Cong Thuat, Chairman of Quang Binh People’s Committee, with the goal of penning a focused investment promotion plan aligned with local socio-economic development orientation, in 2020 the province will continue to review, update, and build up a new list of projects calling for investment for 2021 to 2025.

Along with that, practicality, feasibility, and suitability are essential factors needed to embed in the province’s investment attraction approach in the forthcoming period. It is also important to take advantage of support from ministries and central agencies in attracting investment; building co-operative relationships with foreign diplomatic missions, international organisations, and major economic organisations in Vietnam; and assisting enterprises in the province in seeking investment opportunities abroad.

According to Quang Binh People’s Committee, as of October 15, the province granted investment certificates to 49 ventures registered at VND3 trillion ($130.4 million). In addition, scores of domestic and foreign investors are conducting business study in the province.

T&T Group is looking at funding Dinh Muoi Urban Area and Bac Ly Ecological Urban Area at total value of VND30.3 trillion ($1.32 billion), and the United States-based Southeast Asia Capital Group intends to invest in the Hon La general port complex with an estimated investment sum of around $250 million. Meanwhile, Vingroup plans a venture in a 33-hectare smart urban area in Dong Hoi city. DIC Group is also conducting research on a resort hotel and golf course initiative in Quang Ninh district, with a scale of 280ha.

WHAUP's investment in Duong River may not live up to expectations

Thailand-based WHA Utilities & Power Plc.’s (WHAUP) investment in the Duong River Surface Water Plant may not live up to its expectations as the local company has been hit with high water prices these days.

WHAUP in early November officially acquired 34 per cent of Duong River Surface Water Plant around the time when Song Da Water Investment JSC was caught up in a scandal over its polluted water supply. The Thai investor may have been caught off guard by the sky-high water prices Duong River now has to charge, which has caused enough of a stir to force the CEO of the management board to leave her position.

According to the Document No.3310/UBND-KT two years ago, Hanoi People’s Committee approved to buy water from Duong River at the price of VND10,246 per cubic metre, more than double the price of Song Da Water Investment JSC and other water companies. When the first phase of the plant became operational in September, Duong River company started selling water at this price, causing a stir among the public.

Explaining the queries around the price, Do Thi Kim Lien, CEO of the management board of Duong River Surface Water Plant, said that the water plant is a VND5 trillion ($217.4 million) investment that has extensive capital loans to cover.

“Our project applies new technologies that allow water to be treated in a closed loop by robots. Moreover, our water filtration system also incorporates high technologies to produce such pure water,” said Lien.

Lien's explanation has drawn mixed responses, with the majority disagreeing, saying that there is no difference in the quality of water of Duong River and other companies, thus the higher price is not justified.

Discussing with VIR, lawyer Nguyen Tien Lap from NHQuang & Associates, an arbitrator of the Vietnam International Arbitration Centre, said that the private sector and foreign investors can all be involved in producing drinking water. However, the government only accepts to buy water from facilities offering the best service and quality at the most reasonable price. “Essentially, water is a public utility, so it has to be sold at the most affordable price.”

With the scandal over its prices, Hanoi People’s Committee is mulling a decision to adjust the price to VND7,700 per cu.m. In case the new price is applied, the company's performance this year may not live up to the expectations, and reducing the Thai partner's satisfaction over its investment.

Smart success in store for Binh Duong

With more than 30 forums organised since 2005, HORASIS continues to offer the opportunity for developing countries, and localities such as the southern province of Binh Duong, to collaborate with other global partners.

Binh Duong People’s Committee has classified a special area as “Binh Duong Smart Area”, covering a southern part of the province which will encompass urban, education and researching, and key industry areas.

Following the model of the Dutch city of Eindhoven, in 2016 Binh Duong announced its plan to develop Binh Duong Smart City. The project is geared towards hi-tech manufacturing and services, green and smart ­urbanisation, meeting the demands of people and enterprises, establishing a knowledge economy and digital economy, and effectively adapting to the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

The purpose and general direction of Binh Duong Smart City was officially approved by the provincial People’s Committee in November 2016. It was divided into four main sectors: human resources, technology, enterprises, and foundation elements.

According to Tran Thanh Liem, Chairman of Binh Duong People’s Committee, it is different from other provinces where smart cities were defined as using advanced technologies to solve divisive issues such as transport, public facilities management, or e-government.

Binh Duong has a unique approach to the concept of a smart city, describing it as an active, innovative, and connective eco-system in which every element is constantly changed and used.

Smart cities also represent an ideal way of improving living standards among the population. The plan to build a smart city in Binh Duong intends to utilise three vital sectors to improve peoples’ lives: the state, businesses, and schools.

Bringing these three areas together is an international concept which adheres to the standards of the Intelligent Community Forum (ICF), a global network of cities and regions with a think tank at its centre, and has helped Binh Duong achieve outstanding success in socio-economic development in the last three years.

This led to Binh Duong becoming a member of the ICF in 2018, and paved the way for it to be chosen as one of the Smart 21 – a group of global cities following a similar development strategy.

Binh Duong becoming a member of the Smart 21 is significant in its goal to developing its socio-economy, and it raises the region into a more prominent position on the international stage. It also brings about more opportunities for co-operation and sharing experiences with a network of more than 180 ICF-managed smart cities. It increases confidence for enterprises, encourages more foreign direct investment, and lays the ­foundations for service and hi-tech manufacturing ­development in the near ­future.

According to Frank-Jürgen Richter, chairman of HORASIS, there is a rising need for dialogue, particularly between emerging and established markets, and Vietnam could be the hub for such endeavours.

“The HORASIS Asia Meeting was set up as a medium to encourage and ­facilitate discussion and ­collaboration between entrepreneurs, businesses, and governments from Vietnam, Asia, and other parts of the world,” Richter said.

He added that Binh Duong is ideally located in Vietnam, close to Ho Chi Minh City’s Tan Son Nhat International Airport. It is a smart region, attracting more and more investment, and a perfect place to hold the HORASIS Asia Meeting.

“I met with the leadership of Binh Duong Province as well as the chairman of Becamex IDC in 2016, and we jointly decided to embark on a profound co-operation,” said Richter. “I have to say that Binh Duong has been the ideal choice, as all the ingredients for sustainable growth initiatives as well as the necessary infrastructure are there. We were very happy to be invited to host the 2018 HORASIS Asia Meeting in Binh Duong,” he added.

According to Binh Duong’s leaders, HORASIS 2018 was a great success. At the forum, leading experts and global leaders shared visions and experiences.

The forum was also a new method of attracting more foreign direct investment into member countries, and forming a network to connect enterprises, institutes, educational units, and organisations.

The forum was praised for promoting Binh Duong on the world stage.

At the event many enterprises and organisations announced plans for future partnerships, and many of those projects have already come to fruition.

Richter also stressed that the most important message of HORASIS last year was that Binh Duong and Vietnam are ready for business development, and are ready to collaborate with other companies and partners in all sectors. “Vietnam is shifting to a market-oriented economy, and the government is maintaining its commitment to reforms to meet increasing demand,” he added.

Towards the future

After the success of the event in 2018, Binh Duong ­received a great deal of encouragement from people, organisations, and enterprises both domestic and overseas. Many HORASIS members expressed their interest in Vietnam, and Binh Duong in particular. Therefore the group has continued working with Binh Duong People’s Committee to host this year’s event on an even larger scale.

The committee is determined to show that it can pull off hosting big international events like HORASIS. Taking on the role is challenging, but it delivers an invaluable opportunity for the province to showcase its skills.

Richter said that HORASIS 2019 will be attended by CEOs and leading investors from Southeast Asia, Japan, South Korea, India and many other parts of the world.

“All of them come to Binh Duong to look for projects and initiatives, and seek out business opportunities,” he said. “We will arrange roundtable discussions and private meetings among investors and the local authorities. We hope that many interesting agreements can be reached at HORASIS 2019.”

At the end of September, Becamex IDC received an approval letter from the World Trade Center Association, accepting Binh Duong as an official member. At HORASIS 2019, Binh Duong People’s Committee and Becamex IDC will co-announce the creation of a World Trade Center (WTC). At the forum, Becamex IDC will also sign co-operation agreements with a range of international partners to determine the management and operation of the WTC when construction is completed.

Binh Duong People’s Committee Chairman Liem stressed that the future WTC will be developed as more than a simple building. Instead, it will be a multi-functional complex which can provide all services and international trade activities for the whole region.

Ninh Thuan’s role as renewables hub

With its special potentials and advantages, Ninh Thuan province on Vietnam’s south-central coast has become the focus for clean energy investment attraction.

Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung and a government delegation recently inspected a number of renewable energy sources, particularly wind and solar power projects in Ninh Thuan, and worked with the local People’s Committee on local renewable energy sources.

According to a recent report of the committee on electricity supply in the area, the commercial electricity implemented in 2018 reached 636.3 million kilowatt hours, up 11.5 per cent compared to 2017.

The annual average growth of commercial power output was 9.75 per cent in the 2011-2015 period, and 7.35 per cent for the 2016-2018 period.

By the end of September, the total capacity of the province’s renewable ­energy sources was about 1,150MW, divided into 1,040MW of solar power and 110MW of wind power.

According to the ­approved plan, the total ­capacity of power sources in Ninh Thuan by 2030 will reach just over 4,000MW, excluding the two nuclear power projects that had stopped implementation.

As of June 30, the province was home to 19 renewable energy projects with a total capacity of 1,050MW, including 15 solar power projects with a capacity of 970MW and four wind power plants with a capacity of 80MW.

Ninh Thuan is seeking approval to add its Ca Na Electricity Centre with a ­capacity of 6,000MW, ­including four gas power plants using imported liquefied natural gas, to the revised National Power Development Plan VII.

Regarding the past ­implementation of power grid projects from 2011 until present, the province has completed three power grid projects with a capacity of 220kV and five power grid projects with capacity of 110kV. In the time to come, it intends to invest in three 500kV, five 220kV, and six 110kV power grid projects.

DPM Dung praised Ninh Thuan’s authorities and people for their great efforts to ensure stable socio-economic development in all aspects.

Ninh Thuan has abounding advantages for the development of marine economy, renewable energy, tourism, and hi-tech agriculture, helping the province to woo more investors. Many large-scale projects are in the development pipeline to further boost socio-economic development.

According to the deputy prime minister, Ninh Thuan is making use of its potential for ­renewable energy development, mainly with wind and solar power. In just over a year, there have been more than 1,000MW of wind and solar energy added to the province’s capacity. As a result, the province has made remarkable contributions to ensuring national energy security and improving local socio-economic life.

Besides these achievements, Ninh Thuan still faces a host of difficulties, including moderating the capacity of renewable energy plants in the area.

“Ninh Thuan needs to further take advantage of opportunities, exploit these and overcome difficulties to forge ahead,” said DPM Dung.

The demand for electricity is continually increasing across the country, leading to mounting ­pressure to ­restructure power sources in the ­direction of prioritising the development of renewable energy sources, particularly wind and solar power.

With its enormous potential, Ninh Thuan would grow into a major renewable energy hub for the whole nation.

Singapore forum connects Vietnamese firms with potential partners

A forum was held at the Singapore Exchange (SGX) on November 25 to help Vietnamese businesses connect with the Singaporean market and seek potential partners here.

Addressing representatives of over 150 companies from Vietnam, Europe, the US, the Republic of Korea and Japan, Vietnamese Ambassador to Singapore Tao Thi Thanh Huong noted the Vietnamese Government has been issuing policies to attract capital to new economic sectors while making efforts to equitise State-owned enterprises to attract more foreign investors.

The country’s young startup ecosystem now consists of some 3,000 companies, one-third of which have engaged in the technology sector, she said, adding that the Government is also working hard to create the best possible conditions for startups to grow and stretch their reach to the world.

Huong said the forum provided a chance for Vietnamese firms to learn more information, connect with partners to expand operations to the region and the world, and find out resources to boost production. It was also an occasion for them to seek Singaporean and international enterprises interested in investing in Vietnam through mergers and acquisitions (M&As).

In 2018, the total value of M&A deals in Vietnam reached 9.9 billion USD. In the first 10 months of 2019, Singaporean companies made 2 billion USD worth of such contracts with Vietnamese firms, according to the diplomat.

Before the forum, SGX invited Ambassador Huong to beat the gong to open the trading session that marked the exchange’s 20th anniversary. She said the listing on the region’s leading stock markets like Singapore will help companies swiftly carry out M&As thanks to the intensive connectivity among global investors, banks and businesses in those markets.

SGX CEO Loh Boon Chye said Singapore and Vietnam have strong relations in various fields at present. Vietnam, one of the countries with vigorous economic growth in Southeast Asia, is also an important market of SGX.

Over the last two years, Vietnamese investors have realised considerable benefits from Singapore’s capital market, he said, noting that more than 40 enterprises listed on SGX have had business links with Vietnamese partners.

He expressed his hope that many Vietnamese firms will be listed on this exchange in the time ahead./.



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