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VIETNAM BUSINESS NEWS HEADLINES NOVEMBER 9

Remittances to Ho Chi Minh City rise despite pandemic

HCMC saw overseas remittances rise by 6 percent year-on-year to 4.2 billion USD in the first nine months of this year, despite the economic fallout of the COVID-19 outbreak.

It is expected that remittances for the full year would be 5.5 billion USD, 8 percent up from 2019.

Remittances to the city have been coming into business instead of property, stocks or savings.

In recent years, they have been growing at 8-10 percent a year, but often depend on the global economic situation and that of overseas workers. They have been steady since the beginning of this year, and continue to come mainly from the U.S. and Europe.

Vietnam's economy has steadied and there are no adverse sentiments putting pressure on the currency exchange, meaning remittance recipients are not averse to exchanging to and holding the dong, which in turn further helping keep the exchange rate steady./.

State assets sold for 44.75 million USD over 10 months

A total of 42.3 million State shares sold from January-October fetched nearly 1.04 trillion VND (44.75 million USD), according to the Hanoi Stock Exchange (HNX).

The northern market regulator organised 11 auctions to offload the shares. The successful bidding value was 22 percent higher than the value offered for sale.

In October alone, the HNX held one auction to help the State-owned power group Vietnam Electricity (EVN) sell its stake in EV Finance Co (EVF).

EVN offered 2.65 million shares for sale that sold out for 46 billion VND.

The amount and value of shares sold in the 10-month period was a big disappointment as the State was trying to exit non-core companies.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, purchasing power from investors has declined this year making it hard for the State to complete its divestment plans for 2020.

In November, the State plans to sell its ownership in five State-owned enterprises including Vietnam Vegetable Oils Industry Corporation (Vocarimex), Viettel Post Joint Stock Corporation, and Vietnam Agriculture Tourism JSC (Agritour)./.

Ho Chi Minh City expands regional tourism linkages

The Department of Tourism and the Department of Information and Communications of Ho Chi Minh City on November 4 announced a plan to organise a tourism development connectivity programme between the city and localities in the expanded northwestern region, the northeastern region, and the central key economic zone next week.

The signing of linkage agreements is expected to mark a new development step in cooperation between local leaders, State management agencies, and travel associations and businesses.

The programme, slated for November 14-15, will focus on State management on tourism, tourism product development, tourism promotion and human resource training, and call for investment in tourism development.

Within the framework of the programme, several conferences will be held to link tourism of HCM City with eight northwestern provinces of Dien Bien, Ha Giang, Hoa Binh, Lai Chau, Lao Cai, Son La, Yen Bai and Phu Tho; eight northeastern provinces of Bac Kan, Bac Giang, Cao Bang, Lang Son, Thai Nguyen, Tuyen Quang, Vinh Phuc and Quang Ninh; Hanoi capital city; and five localities in the central key economic zone, namely Binh Dinh, Da Nang, Quang Nam, Quang Ngai and Thua Thien-Hue.

The organising board will also introduce attractive destinations, tourism products and specialties of the above-mentioned localities./.

Online shopping on the rise

Consumers can now buy almost anything from the comfort of their homes with just a few simple steps on a smartphone. With its undeniable advantage in convenience, online shopping is gaining in popularity even now that COVID-19 has been largely brought under control.
 
Rather than going to traditional markets or supermarkets to shop, with a few taps on an online shopping app, Tran Nhung finished her grocery shopping for the whole family in just a few minutes.

Kim Nhung thinks likewise, since she is often up to her neck in work and so grocery shopping can be problematic. Thanks to online shopping, though, she saves a load of time and can quickly prepare hot meals.

After emerging as a countermeasure during the social distancing period from COVID-19, online shopping has become a new trend that benefits both end-users and service providers. The competition technology provides is helping fulfil the growing needs of all consumers.

Online shopping is becoming a new trend and consumers are advised to use reputable brands to avoid unnecessary issues./.

PM green-lights trial of tourist submarine services in Nha Trang Bay

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has agreed in principle to allow the trial of submarine tours in the Nha Trang Bay in Khanh Hoa Province, which will be operated by Vinpearl.

The trial period will last for two years from the start of services, which are expected to begin in December this year.

Vinpearl, a subsidiary of Vingroup, announced in May that it has sent an order to the US company Triton Submarines to produce a Triton DeepView submarine for the purpose of sightseeing around the Hon Tre Island.

The submarine can carry up to 24 people and dive to a maximum depth of 100 metres, offering visitors a breath-taking panoramic view of the undersea world.

The PM asked the Ministry of Transport, the Ministry of Defence, the Khanh Hoa Government and concerned agencies to work out an agreement on the scope of operation, rescue plans and management of the service.

He emphasised that absolute safety must be ensured for tourists and measures should be taken to protect the environment, and to conserve and revive ecosystems in Nha Trang Bay.

The head of government also assigned the Ministry of Transport to review and revise current regulations on submarine activities such that they are suitable with actual marine activities.

Monitoring properties and income of people in managerial positions

The Government has recently issued Decree No. 130/2020/ND-CP on monitoring the properties and income of people in managerial positions in state agencies, organizations and units. 

The decree consists of eight chapters and 25 articles, with Article 20 stipulating that those obliged to declare assets and income will be handled pursuant to Article 51 of the Anti-Corruption Law, depending on the nature and severity of the case, if they make dishonest declaration and explanation of their additional assets and income. 

In addition, if persons obliged to declare assets disperse and hide assets and income, as well as hindering the asset and income monitoring work and not submitting the declaration after being urged twice in written form, they will possibly be handled in one of the following forms: warning; lowering salary scale, demotion, dismissal, forced resignation, or reduction in rank, depending on the nature and severity of violations.

According to Article 21, the heads of state agencies, organizations and units will be punished in the forms of reprimand, warning and demotion if they show irresponsibilities in organizing the declaration as well as publicizing and submitting the declarations. 

Business Times: VN leads Asia-Pacific in pace of digital progress

Digital transformation efforts in Viet Nam have yielded the biggest improvement among regional economies, according to an industry study of 11 Asia-Pacific markets, according to Singapore’s Business Times.

The article highlights that: Viet Nam saw the highest increase in scores between 2016 and 2019, in the digital society index study carried out by mobile operator industry player GSMA Intelligence. 

Its latest rating stood at 49 points for 2019, up by 12 points from three years before, which GSMA Intelligence attributed to “notable improvements in the connectivity component of the index, following the launch and rapid expansion of 4G networks”.

“It was also driven by improvements to the digital identity, digital citizenship and digital lifestyle components,” added the report.

GSMA Intelligence noted that Viet Nam is pursuing a national Industry 4.0 strategy that includes infrastructure and human resources, as well as e-government and innovation.

The study was based on input from government and industry organizations in the markets of Australia, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Pakistan, Singapore, the Republic of Korea, Thailand and Viet Nam./.

Gov't policy gives auto industry much-needed boost

More than half a billion dollars in tax returns have been awarded to firms since 2017 in a bid by the Government to boost the country's auto industry and supporting industry, according to deputy director of the General Department of Vietnam Customs Luu Manh Tuong.

The tax incentives are in line with Government Decision 57/2020/NĐ-CP, a policy package aimed at bolstering the development of the auto industry in the next four years, he said.

While the tax returns may have hurt the State's budget collection in the short run, the benefits of growing the auto and supporting industries would be more than enough to make up for it in the near future. The incentive was said to have secured more jobs, attracted more foreign investment and created a ripple effect in the development of the country's industrial sector.

Nguyen Trung Hieu, a representative from the Vietnam Automobile Manufacturers' Association (VAMA), said the policy package gave the auto industry a much-needed boost to catch up with the competition in Southeast Asia.

Hieu said the auto industry remained a large contributor to the State's budget with billions of dollars in revenue and also employed hundreds of thousands of workers.

Luong Duc Toan, deputy head of the department of industrial manufacturing under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, said the auto industry had seen major leaps forward in recent years. By the end of 2019, Vietnam was home to more than 40 auto manufacturers with several world-leading brands including Ford, Mercedes and Toyota. Domestic production had been able to supply up to 70 percent of local demand for nine-seater or smaller vehicles while made-in-Vietnam products had found their way to markets in the region such as Thailand and the Philippines.

However, there were still shortcomings in the auto industry, Toan said, as the industry remained entirely dependent on a few global corporations. In addition, domestic firms possessed no technologies for the production of key auto parts such as engines, control systems and transmission gears.

As a direct result of the absence of a large network of auto parts suppliers, Vietnam’s localisation rate was poor compared with other countries in the region./.

HNX’s state capital divestment auctions bring in over 1 trillion VND

More than 1 trillion VND (43 million USD) was raised through 11 auctions of shares held by State-owned enterprises on the Hanoi Stock Exchange (HNX) in the first 10 months of 2020.

More than 43.4 million shares were put up for sale during the months. Some 42.3 million, or 97.5 percent, were sold for 1.036 trillion VND, or 186 billion VND higher than the asking price.

The 11 State capital divestment auctions included only one from Vietnam Electricity in October, which sold all of its 2.65 million shares for over 46 billion VND.

HNX said five State-owned enterprises are scheduled to carry out similar auctions this month, including the Vietnam Vegetable Oils Industry Corporation, with over 44.2 million shares, and the Viettel Post Joint Stock Corporation, with more than 4.98 million shares./.

Virtual Vietnam solar expo attracts numerous attendees

The on-going Vietnam Solar E-Expo 2020, an online solar exhibition lasting until November 11, is drawing numerous industry players.

Interested people can register and join the event via the link https://vietnam-solar-e-expo.eventxtra.com/landing. It is the only virtual event platform optimised for connecting Vietnam’s solar sector.

The expo is held to enrich the exhibition experience and business opportunities for all solar industry players.

Vietnam Solar E-Expo 2020 provides exhibitors with opportunities of brand promotion, product presentation and one-on-one communication with potential business partners.

During the first week of the event, more than 1,300 people registered to join and visited the virtual booths.

Within the framework of the 30-day event, a 'Live Day' was open during October 27-28, allowing all visitors to connect and communicate with exhibitors one to one through chatbox, audio or video calls.

APAC Solar Energy Digital Event 2020, hosted alongside Vietnam Solar E-Expo 2020, was held online on September 17-18, focusing on burgeoning solar development in Asia Pacific.

It attracted 30 industry experts and 800 photovoltaic companies who shared and analysed in-depth on the solar energy industry in Southeast Asia. More than 40 percent of the participants were project developers, investors and independent power producers (IPPs). Two-thirds of attendees were local businesses from the Asia Pacific region.

APAC Solar Energy Digital Event 2020 Vietnam Chapter was launched on October 20-22. Policymakers and leading enterprises of Vietnam’s solar market were invited to attend the three-day online seminar to share knowledge on the solar industry such as market forecast, policy analysis, grid upgrade plans, rooftop solar energy and energy reserves.

This online event was joined by more than 230 companies and 330 attendees from 29 countries. More than 40 one-to-one business transaction meetings were held./.

Cross-border e-commerce boosts firms’ export opportunities: Seminar

Cross-border e-commerce is serving as an effective channel for companies, especially small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), to ship products abroad in the context of COVID-19, Deputy Director of the Hanoi Department of Industry and Trade Tran Thi Phuong Lan has said.

She made the remarks at a recent seminar on such commerce with Amazon and the export opportunities for Vietnamese businesses. Hosted by the department, it brought together nearly 300 firms.

They were advised to study various tasks in order to devise suitable e-commerce operation strategies and succeed.

Assistance packages were also introduced to help Vietnamese firms export goods to the international market.

E-commerce has been a bright spot in the country’s development, with an average growth rate of 14 percent over the first three quarters of 2020. Bolstering the application of e-commerce and the digital economy is therefore vital amid the global spread of COVID-19, the seminar heard.

Complexities brought by the pandemic in the early months of this year have hampered exports from Vietnam and those from Hanoi in particular.

The capital earned an estimated 13.19 million USD from exports in the first 10 months of 2020, up a mere 0.1 percent against the same period last year.

Given that e-commerce accounts for 8 percent of Hanoi’s retail sales and services revenue, the city ranks among Vietnam’s top localities in the e-commerce development index.

Hanoi is set to arrange more similar events and in-depth training courses on exports via e-commerce for local companies as well as enhance logistics infrastructure development, in cooperation with major e-commerce platforms of the world, Lan said./.

Over 11.2 billion USD mobilised through G-bond auctions

The State Treasury has mobilised more than 260.6 trillion VND (over 11.2 billion USD) through Government bond auctions on the Hanoi Stock Exchange (HNX) so far this year.

The latest auction held on November 4 brought in 300 billion VND.

In the auction, the treasury offered 7 trillion VND worth of G-bonds with four maturities – seven years, 10 years, 15 years and 20 years.

It raised 300 billion VND worth of 20-year bonds with annual interest rate of 3.02 percent, unchanged from the previous auction on October 28.

There were no successful bids for the 7-year, 10-year and 15-year G-bonds./.

Vietnamese products’ consumption promoted through global AEON system

A wide range of Vietnamese products such as packaged foods, processed and agricultural products are on display at the Week of Exhibiting Vietnamese Enterprises’ Goods that opened at AEON – Tan Phu Celadon in HCM City on November 4.

To join the exhibition, all three products had to pass AEON Vietnam’s strict assessment and testing process.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Nguyen Huu Tin, Director of the Investment and Trade Promotion Centre of HCM City (ITPC), said the exhibition’s organising committee received registrations from more than 200 businesses across the country, and 35 were selected.

“This is the third year in a row that ITPC has cooperated with AEON, one of the oldest retailers in Japan, to organise the event to support Vietnamese businesses to promote and bring their products into the AEON global retail system.”

Nishitohge Yasuo, General Director of AEON Vietnam, said one of the important strategies of AEON Vietnam is to expand the scale in consumption of Vietnamese products. AEON always tries to bring domestically made products to consumers through AEON Vietnam's general merchandise store and supermarket chain in the Vietnamese market. In addition, it wants to promote export of Vietnamese products.

Also within the framework of the exhibition week, a conference that seeks to enable Vietnamese firms to bring their products to AEON’s general department stores and supermarkets globally was organised with the participation of more than 150 suppliers.

The event hopes to open up many opportunities for local businesses to find more distributors and expand their markets both in and outside the country.

At the conference, Vietnamese firms also received consultations on technical standards and product quality from AEON TOPVALU representatives to help their products enter AEON’s global general merchandise store and supermarket chain.

Over the past five years, Vietnamese goods exported via AEON to Japan reached a total of more than 1.4 billion USD, an increase of over 120 percent per year on average.

A variety of Vietnamese products are exported through the AEON system, with garments and footwear (T-shirts, shirts, and shoes) accounting for about 59 percent, and food products and fruit (coffee, dragon fruit, banana, mango and others) accounting for about 34.6 percent.

In addition, about 1,200 tonnes of seafood (basa fish and shrimp) were exported to Japan in 2019 via AEON. Most recently, the first five tonnes of fresh Vietnamese lychees were exported to Japan and sold at AEON's store system there in June.

Organised by ITPC in collaboration with AEON Vietnam Co., Ltd and AEON TOPVALU Vietnam, the exhibition week will run until November 8./.

Vietnam, Algeria bolster trade, investment promotion

The Vietnamese Embassy in Algeria organised a virtual trade exchange workshop on November 4, with the aim of seeking measures to bring into full play trade and investment potential between the two countries.

Representatives from over 70 enterprises of both countries operating in a wide range of fields attended the event.

Speaking at the event, Ambassador Nguyen Thanh Vinh said that this is the first time the embassy has held a trade exchange event via video conference, which is an effective way of connection to help the two countries’ businesses boost trade and investment ties.

The embassy is willing to support both sides’ enterprises in learning about each other’s market and carrying out cooperation projects, and introduce reliable partners.

Trade Counsellor Hoang Duc Nhuan introduced participating enterprises to the two countries’ import-export and investment potential, and answered businesses’ questions on import-export regulation, payment methods, tariff, distribution channels and Algeria’s investment incentives.

Nhuan said that on November 10, the Asian-African Market Department under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, in collaboration with the International Organisation of La Francophonie (OIF) and several Vietnamese trade offices in Africa, will hold an online trade exchange conference between Vietnam and French-speaking countries in Africa.

According to Vietnam Customs statistics, Vietnam’s export turnover to Algeria reached 187 million USD in 2019. In the first nine months of 2020, due to impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Vietnam’s exports to this market were valued at 117 million USD, a year-on-year decrease of 13 percent./.

2020 Vietnam Expo slated for next month in HCM City

The 18th Vietnam International Trade Fair (2020 Vietnam Expo) is slated for December 3-5 in HCM City, with 250 firms introducing their products at 350 pavilions.

The event will have different exhibition zones, including the International Pavilion, Hardware & Hand Tools and Gardening Technology and Landscaping Design.

Deputy Director of Center for Promotion of Investment, Trade and Tourism of the central province of Quang Tri Tran Phi Tuong said despite difficulties after the last flash floods, the province aims for parallel goals of reconstructing a normal life and supporting enterprises in production and trade.

This year, remote booths are launched to help foreign businesses participate in this event, said Project Director of the Vietnam National Trade Fair & Advertising Company (Vinexad) Nguyen Hong Nhung.

The move is to enhance trade opportunities for the Vietnamese market in the face of social distancing and border restrictions amid the ravaging pandemic.

Having been hosted by the Ministry of Industry and Trade and organised annually by Vinexad over the last two decades, Vietnam Expo is recognised as one of the most effective trade events, bringing about a lot of economic value for organisations, enterprises and individuals in Vietnam and overseas./.

E-commerce has huge potential in rural areas: experts

While e-commerce is vital to Vietnam's development, 80 percent of the country’s population has not accessed online trading yet, leaving huge room for growth, according to experts.

At a forum on market strategies for Vietnamese businesses held by the Institute for Brand and Competitiveness Strategy (BCSI) in Hanoi on November 5, Hoang Quoc Quyen, representative of Tiki in the north, said that 85 percent of the e-commerce serves the urban market mostly in Hanoi and HCM City, which accounts for 20 percent of the population, while the rest or the 80 million people in rural araes are not yet included in the system.

Nguyen Thi Minh Huyen, deputy director of the Department of E-Commerce and Digital Economy, Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT), said Vietnam has great potential for digital economic development.

E-commerce is an important component of the digital economy with the growth rate of more than 25 percent per year and will keep growing in the next five years, the official added, highlighting there is an opportunity for digital economic development, especially in the context of COVID-19.

Vietnam is aiming to have the digital economy account for 20 percent of total GDP by 2025 and be one of the 50 leading countries in the information industry.

Also at the forum, Vu Xuan Truong from BCSI said that previously, small businesses did not pay attention to their brands, but the situation has changed in the last 3-5 years, thinking a brand as a weapon to compete in the market.

In this case, building a brand with a visual image is an effective way to enter the minds of customers who are spending a lot of time on social networks, he said.

There is a huge market for local businesses to grow bigger serving 80 million people in rural areas with their products. By bringing good products to the low-income people in rural places, local enterprises could approach a huge market with less competition, Quyen from Tiki told the forum.

As a leader of the Department of E-Commerce and Digital Economy, Huyen shared the recent goals of the Government to spread e-commerce development in businesses and communities, easing the gap of such development between big cities and localities, building healthy, competitive and sustainable consumption markets for Vietnamese goods at home and abroad through e-commerce and making Vietnam among the top three most developed e-commerce markets in Southeast Asia./. 

Japanese firm invests in water treatment in Vietnam

The FE Holdings – a subsidiary of JFE Engineering of Japan - has spent 900 million JPY (8.6 million USD) to acquire a 3.87 percent stake in the Binh Duong Water Environment JSC of Vietnam (Biwase).

This is one of the Japanese firm’s steps to tap into strong demand for water treatment infrastructure in Vietnam.

JFE already has been contracted to build two wastewater treatment plants in Vietnam, both through Japan's official development assistance programme.

According to Nikkei Asia, partnering with Biwase which operates eight water treatment plants and a waste disposal facility in the southern province of Binh Duong will give the Japanese firm opportunities to pick up more orders, including expansion of existing Biwase facilities as well as the construction of waste disposal and recycling plants.

JFE plans to start local recruitment of engineers, sales staff and other personnel. It looks to grow its annual revenue from the Vietnamese market to 10 billion JPY in the next decade, from about 2 billion JPY in fiscal 2019./.

Dong Nai province surpasses annual target in FDI attraction

The southern province of Dong Nai expects to secure 1.18 billion USD in foreign direct investment (FDI) during the January-November period, which is already higher than the target of 1.1 billion USD set for 2020 as a whole.

According to deputy head of the management board of the province’s industrial parks, Pham Van Cuong, as the COVID-19 pandemic has been brought under control, many investors have contacted the board to lease land for their operations, and the number of FDI projects in the locality is expected to increase to the end of the year.

In the first ten months of the year, Dong Nai attracted nearly 160 FDI projects, 98 of which increased their registered capital by a total of more than 700 million USD.

Local departments and sectors joined hands amid the pandemic to create favourable conditions for foreign investors and experts, which helped the province to carry out the dual tasks of controlling COVID-19 and boosting economic development.

The completion of infrastructure at industrial parks and the acceleration of administrative reforms were also prioritised by local authorities.

Dong Nai is striving to attract 5-6 billion USD in FDI during the 2021-2025 period and 6-7 billion USD during 2026-2030./.

Indonesia to merge flag carrier and tourism companies

The Indonesian government has put together a plan to merge nine state-run companies, including flag air carrier Garuda Indonesia, low-cost airline Citilink and companies that run major tourism sites.

The move is expected to allow the companies to eliminate unnecessary costs and work together on initiatives such as discount travel packages. It may also make it easier to direct public funds to Garuda, which fell into the red in the first six months of this year.

The idea has the backing of President Joko Widodo. In addition to the airlines, the new company will oversee firms operating in the tourism sector.

The goal of the integration is to create synergies among the state-owned enterprises. With airlines, airports and tourism companies operating under a holding company, the aim is to eliminate vertical barriers and enable them to offer cheaper travel packages to travellers.

The size of the holding company should also make it easier to secure financing from banks. There are also hopes that consolidating administrative departments create efficiencies.

The tourism and airline businesses are vital to Indonesia's economy. Widodo has wanted to integrate them for some time. "The headwinds in the travel industry provide a good opportunity to start integrating and transforming the tourism and aviation sectors," he said at a ministerial meeting on COVID-19 in early August.

Many observers believe the actual purpose of setting up the holding company is to shake up Garuda's management. Indonesia's flag carrier fell into the red in January to June, suffering a net loss of 723.26 million USD.

Indonesia has many tourism assets, including Bali, one of the world's top resorts. The industry accounted for about 5 percent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP) in 2019. GDP declined 5.32 percent in this year’s second quarter against a year earlier as the pandemic took a toll, the first time since 1999 that Indonesia's economy has contracted. Widodo hopes tourism will serve as a catalyst for an economic recovery./.

Indonesia pushes for faster negotiations of economic partnership pact with Turkey

Chairman of the Indonesian People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) Bambang Soesatyo has urged Turkish Parliament Speaker Mustafa Sentop to help speed up negotiations on the two nations’ comprehensive economic partnership agreement (IT-CEPA).

Soesatyo made the request, which was considered part of post-COVID-19 economic recovery, during an official meeting with Sentop in Turkey’s Ankara on November 3.

In response, Sentop pledged to urge the related parliament commission to immediately review the pact and find the best way to allow the government to expedite negotiations, which have been ongoing for nearly four years.

In 2019, trade between Indonesia and Turkey hit 1.6 billion USD, with Indonesia enjoying a surplus of over 800 million USD. The two will potentially increase the trade value by 600 million USD if they sign the IT-CEPA.

Indonesia's key exports to Turkey comprise palm oil, rubber, yarns, and automotive components./.

Thailand approves price guarantee schemes for rice, rubber

Thailand’s cabinet has given the nod to price guarantee schemes for rice and rubber worth a combined 61.9 billion baht (around 2 billion USD).

The two schemes will be handled by the state-owned Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC).

Of the total budget, 51.2 billion baht is allotted towards the rice scheme for the 2020-2021 season and 10.0 billion baht for the second phase of the rubber price guarantee scheme for the 2019-2020 season.

According to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, the annual 2020-21 rice scheme is scheduled to be implemented between October 2020 and May 2021.

The rice price guarantee offers compensation if market prices fall below the benchmark. The scheme will offer guaranteed prices at the same rates as during the previous season.

The cabinet has also approved an interest-free loan scheme for farmers who agree to delay selling their grains. The lending scheme will run from November 1, 2020, to February 29, 2021.

For rubber, the second phase of the programme is scheduled for October to March, offering a guaranteed maximum price of 60 baht per kg for raw rubber sheet, 57 baht per kg for latex, and 23 baht per kg for cup lump, limited to 25 rai per family./.

Indonesia’s railway operator records 163.6 mln USD loss in September

State-owned railway operator PT Kereta Api Indonesia (KAI) posted 2.4 trillion IDR (163.6 million USD) loss between January and September, a drastic turn-around from the 1.5 trillion IDR profit booked during the same time last year, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to put pressure on travel demand.

Its revenue also fell by 31.4 percent year-on-year to 12.2 trillion IDR as of September, KAI’s financial report submitted with the Indonesian Stock Exchange website shows.

According to the report, the ongoing health crisis has created uncertainties that continue to affect the company.

The company’s revenue from passenger services fell steeply by 67.6 percent year-on-year to 2.3 trillion IDR in the first nine month of the year.

KAI shut down all of its long-distance and local passenger train services in April following the government’s ban on the Idul Fitri mudik, and partially restarted its operations on June 12. The closures have caused a 43.6 percent year-on-year decline in passenger numbers during the first half of 2020 to 118.6 million people, according to Transportation Ministry data.

KAI spokesperson Joni Martinus said on October 28 that there were signs of improvement in the company’s passenger numbers and the logistics services in the third quarter.

The company recorded 35.7 million passengers in the third quarter, an around 75 percent increase from the second quarter’s figure of 20.4 million, as the economy started to return to normal. Meanwhile, KAI’s logistics services also carried 11.5 million tonnes of goods between July and September, a 16 percent quarterly increase from the second quarter.

However, despite the quarterly increase in logistics volume, the company’s financial statement showed that KAI saw a 5.8 percent decrease year-on-year in revenue from the service as of September to 4.79 trillion IDR.

In order to improve the balance sheet, KAI was working to secure its liquidity and ramp up cost reduction efforts, Joni said./. 

Survey shows Korean firms satisfied with Vietnamese entry process

The Korean Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KORCHAM) announced the results of a survey on November 4 conducted among 303 domestic enterprises that utilise special entry processes into Vietnam. 

The number of Korean businesses that entered the nation via special entry process has reached 1,528.
Of the businesses questioned, 67.3% indicated their satisfaction with the process.

Most notably, 20.1% of respondents answered that they felt “normal”, while 12.6% of enterprises stated that they were unsatisfied with the current entry process.

At present, Korean businesspeople attempting to enter the country must charter flights run by KORCHAM in Vietnam.

This is necessary following the nation suspending all international flights from March 22 in an effort to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). If Korean businesses and their staff want to enter Vietnam through this special entry process, they will be tested for COVID-19 and be placed into quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.

Furthermore, Korean enterprises also pointed out that the Governments of both countries must improve several regulations, including implementing better quarantine regulations after entry, simplifying procedures, extending flights, and speeding up exit procedures.

The number of Korean businesses coming to Vietnam via special entry process registers 1,528 (including those due to enter the nation on November 5), of which more than 2,790 are businesspeople and 453 are their family members, with no one confirmed positive for COVID-19 so far.

Singaporean newspaper notes swift recovery forecast for local economy

Singaporean property website propertyguru.com.sg has cited a recent report by Maybank Kim Eng, Malaysia's largest bank, which confirms that both the Vietnamese and Singaporean economies have enjoyed a V-shape recovery, far faster than expected and better in comparison with other nations in the region. 

According to Maybank’s economists, several factors have served to boost the economic recovery process in both countries, including the introduction of subsidies from the Government, low interest rates, high household savings, and work from home policies.

Furthermore, Maybank emphasised that the Vietnamese economy is rare in ASEAN as it has escaped the risk of recession. Indeed, the country’s purchasing management index (PMI) has witnessed much faster and stronger growth than other regional countries. It can therefore be considered that the driving force behind the nation’s V-shape recovery is largely down to exports, retail, and freight transportation.

Moreover, some of the factors which supported the faster-than-expected recovery of the Singaporean economy were real estate transactions, along with strong growth in semiconductor manufacturing and exports.

Businesses need aid to boost resilience against COVID-19

A second support package is necessary in order to help local firms overcome the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, recover, and restructure their operations in an effective manner, according to insiders. 

There appears to be pessimistic signs ahead for the Vietnamese business community due to a rise in the number of enterprises that have suspended their operations over the past ten months in comparison to the same period last year.

Economic groups and state-owned corporations have also reported a sharp reduction in revenue and profit during the reviewed period, causing many not to meet annual targets due to the adverse impact brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a recent survey conducted among local businesses by the National Economics University (NEU), approximately 80% of respondents could not have access to the Government's first support package as they did not meet the necessary requirements. Indeed, many were unable to grasp much information with regard to the support policies.

Assoc. Prof. & Dr. Bui Duc Tho, vice rector of the NEU, revealed that the proportion of large firms receiving support packages remains much higher compared to small businesses. Moreover, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that are considered most vulnerable to the COVID-19 crisis were only able to gain access to land rental and tax deferral packages.

According to the expert, the first support package contained several inappropriate policies, barring eligible businesses from enjoying benefits. Several support policies failed to bring about positive effects as expected, including those related to logistics costs and administrative reforms.

Concurring with his viewpoint, Dr. Vo Tri Thanh, a member of the Economic Advisory Group for the Prime Minister, emphasised that the second support package should aim to support businesses in weathering the crisis, while initiating efforts to help them recover and restructure their operation in the post-COVID-19 period. Simultaneously, support should target more vulnerable groups, including labourers, SMEs, as well as large-scale businesses that require effective support in order to rebound.

Dr. Thanh outlined that the second support package must be deployed in a swift manner until the end of next year alongside economic restructuring. The country should strive to take advantage of free trade agreements (FTAs) and opportunities from the shift of foreign investment by many international enterprises to survive the crisis.  

To this end, Assoc. Prof. & Dr. Bui Duc Tho suggested that the Government devise appropriate support policies for each sector and period, with priority given to SMEs to help them strengthen their resilience against COVID-19.

With regard to the monetary package, Tho underscored the need to relax credit provisions through offering the exemption and reduction of interest rates. in his opinion, the Government should extend the period of support packages to allow firms enough time to reboot production in a sustainable manner.

He also underlined the importance of transparency, coupled with the simplification of administrative procedures, in order to help businesses enjoy easier access to support packages.

Over US$591 million poured into HCM City EPZs, IPs

Local industrial parks (IPs) and export processing zones (EPZs) in HCM City have attracted US$591 million in newly-registered and adjusted capital by early November, representing an increase of 7.16% from last year’s corresponding period, according to the city’s Management Board of Export Processing Zones and Industrial Zones (HEPZA) 

Of the overall figure, foreign investment attraction (FDI) recorded a decrease of 19.14% to more than US$270 million, including 11 newly-licensed projects capitalised at US$90.97 million and 25 projects with adjusted capital reaching US$179.7 million.

The service sector took the lead among industries, attracting US$81.16 million in investment, followed by mechanics, electronics, plastics, and rubber.

The domestic sector lured approximately US$321.27 million in investment, an annual increase of 47.6%. It attracted 46 new projects capitalised at US$250.94 million and 32 projects with increased capital reaching roughly US$70.33 million.

Hua Quoc Hung, head of the HEPZA, said the decline in FDI attraction can largely be attributed to the impact of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic. Indeed, Vietnamese success in containing the epidemic has served to attract foreign financiers to the southern metropolis, therefore creating more jobs, especially in the service, footwear, and garment industries, all of which have a high demand to recruit more workers.  

According the HEPZA, 41 out of 45 projects have resumed operations, while some firms have actively been seeking new customers and suppliers, alternative material sources.

Currently, enterprises have also proposed increasing the tax payment deferral time to 10 months or one year, therefore reducing the time it takes to handle administrative procedures and to create optimal conditions for foreign investors and labourers working domestically.

The HEPZA also reported that the city’s export turnover during the past 10 months reached US$5.3 billion, of which FDI enterprises grossed US$3.86 billion, accounting for 73%, and domestic enterprises with more than US$1.4 billion, making up 27%.

According to experts, there are positive signs ahead during the remainder of the year with COVID-19 being brought under control. In addition, the enforcement of the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) is anticipated to facilitate greater production and export for enterprises to the largest market in the European region.

Ho Chi Minh City to host Vietnam M&A Forum 2020

The Vietnam M&A Forum 2020 is scheduled to be held in Ho Chi Minh City on November 24, according to a press conference which took place in Hanoi on November 5. 

Representatives from organizers at the press conference to unveil the Vietnam M&A Forum 2020
The event will be jointly held by the Vietnam Investment Review (VIR) Group and AVM Vietnam, with sponsorship coming from the Ministry of Planning and Investment.

According to the organisers, after witnessing over a decade of robust growth with thousands of transactions valued at approximately US$50 billion, the nation’s mergers and acquisitions (M&A) market has entered a new phase that features numerous opportunities, despite the COVID-19 outbreak causing a negative impact on the global economy.

Currently Vietnam is emerging as a safe and attractive investment destination after successfully overcoming severe challenges to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

The country is also enjoying a positive outlook from factors such as the shift of investment from major markets, the enforcement of new free trade agreements, and the amendment of new important laws relating to investment which has provided a more open and transparent climate for various M&A activities.

In addition, several large corporations have accelerated their M&A activities to restructure operations and improve the value chain, all of which serve as bright prospects ahead for further investment in Vietnam.

Phan Duc Hieu, deputy director of the Central Institute for Economic Management (CIEM), noted that the Enterprise Law 2020 is anticipated to help increase opportunities and create favourable conditions for small and medium enterprises to participate in the M&A process.

Dang Xuan Minh, general director of AVM Company, stated that the total value of the country’s M&A market last year reached US$7.2 billion, equivalent to 94.7% in comparison with 2018.

Due to the impact of COVID-19 and other unfavourable factors, the value of this year’s M&A market is anticipated to decline to US$3.5 billion, equal to 48.6% compared to last year. Indeed, this sum will be viewed as a positive achievement during this challenging period, Minh added.

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

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