The prevalence of cross-shareholding in the banking sector has caused concerns among experts as they believe the situation could render banks' financial valuations inaccurate.

Nguyen Duc Do, deputy director of the Institute of Economics and Finance in the Academy of Finance, said many legal measures had been taken to keep cross-shareholding in check but to little avail.

Investors have plenty of tricks to get around regulations, including registering their shareholdings in someone else's name and collaborating with others to bolster the power of their collective votes.

The only way to prevent the illegal practices, Do said, is to enhance financial transparency and tighten the control of investors' cash flows.

"What we've learned from other countries is that a transparent financial system and a close watch on investors' cash flow could avert cross-shareholding," he said.

Ha Sy Dong, a National Assembly (NA) deputy from Quang Tri province, shares Do’s view, stating that cross-shareholding is just the tip of the iceberg of what malicious investors were deploying to manipulate stock prices.

"It is the behind-the-scene ties between banks and firms that could trigger a spillover effect when an adverse financial event occurs," said Dong.

The NA deputy said in a move to weaken the ties, the draft revised Law on Credit Institutions had been formulated to tighten the ceiling on shareholders' ownership in banks.

Under the law, a shareholder would not be allowed to hold more than 3% of a bank's capital if he is an individual investor, 10% if an institutional investor, and 15% in other unique circumstances.

A bank, meanwhile, is not allowed to make loans of more than 10% of its equity to a single client.

He also called for financial report disclosure to be mandatory for investors holding more than 1% stake in banks to improve transparency in the financial sector, putting an end to manipulative practices.

Nguyen Duc Ngoc, a lecturer at the Hanoi Law University, said the increase in ownership caps is necessary but not enough to nip the problem in the bud. We also have to keep tabs on higher-tier shareholders.

Hoang Van Cuong, deputy president of the National Economics University, agreed with lecturer Ngoc. He said the caps might not work because malicious shareholders can put a portion of their shareholdings under someone else's name to keep it below the thresholds.

Financial authorities, therefore, must keep shareholders' capital transfers under surveillance to foil any illicit attempt to "split" their ownership. Heavy fines could be used to prevent accomplices from using their names to help shareholders disguise their shareholdings.

NA Chairman Vuong Dinh Hue said the draft law, when passed, would act as a code of conduct for credit institutions and provide a remedy for cross-shareholding.

"It doesn't matter if a ceiling of 5% or 3% is imposed. All the matters is that credit institutions are obliged to disclose who is pulling their strings," said Hue.

First commercial seaplane flight to Co To Island conducted

First commercial seaplane flight to Co To Island conducted hinh anh 1
The seaplane service uses Cessna Grand Caravan 208B EX, a modern seaplane model of the US. (Photo: VNA)
The first commercial flight by seaplane from Tuan Chau Island to Co To Island in the northern province of Quang Ninh was conducted on July 9, marking the first service of its kind connecting two islands in Vietnam.

The flight, with eight tourists on board departed Tuan Chau port in the province’s Ha Long city at 8:30am and safely arrived on Hong Van beach of Co To about 35 minutes later. 

Using the seaplane service, provided by the Hai Au Aviation JSC of the Thien Minh Group, passengers can save much travel time and have a chance to enjoy a bird’s eye view of the majestic beauty of destinations on Ha Long Bay such as Ban Sen, Ngoc Vung, Quan Lan, Minh Chau, and Bai Tu Long, with introduction directly presented by crew members on board.

The commercial flights use Cessna Grand Caravan 208B EX, a modern seaplane model of the US that can fly at about 300km per hour and carry up to 12 passengers. However, each trip carries only six to eight passengers to ensure their safety and comfort.

The company is offering a 20% discount to all passengers booking tickets and having round-trip flights between Tuan Chau and Co To this July. The price ticket now is 2.4 million VND (about 100 USD) per way each passenger.

Seaplane services have yet to be popular in Vietnam. The launch of the service in the island district of Co To is expected to help diversify tourism services and promote local tourism.

Hai Au Aviation launched the first seaplane service for tourism in Tuan Chau in 2014, with one to three round-trip flights between Hanoi and Ha Long, and five to 10 sightseeing tours of Ha Long Bay every day./.

Coal supply for thermal power plants to increase by 10-15%

The Vietnam Coal and Mineral Industries Group (Vinacomin) and Dong Bac Corporation strive to supply about 48.35 million tonnes of coal for thermal power plants, an increase of about 10-15% compared to 2022.

That volume will contribute to stabilising the supply of coal for the production of electricity.

Vinacomin expects to supply 39.7 million tonnes of coal for the electricity industry in 2023, an increase of more than 1.2 million tonnes compared to the total volume at signed contracts at the beginning of this year.

In the first six months of 2023, Vinacomin is estimated to provide about 21 million tonnes of coal for the thermal power plants, up 15% over the same period in 2022.

In May alone, TKV made additional deliveries of about 300,000 tonnes of coal for the thermal power plants of the Vietnam Electricity (EVN).

Besides the volume of signed contracts, in June and July, Vinacomin estimates it will supplement plants with an average of 10,000 tonnes per month each.

Dong Bac Corporation under the Ministry of National Defence has directed its member companies to increase coal production to supplement the power sector.

The corporation reported that it expected to sell over 5.7 million tonnes of coal in the first six months of the year, reaching 57% of the year plan.

In June alone, the corporation delivered nearly one million tonnes of coal to thermal power plants, the highest level ever.

The corporation plans to provide 8.65 million tonnes of coal for the thermal power plants in 2023, an increase of about 800,000 tonnes compared to the contracts signed at the beginning of the year.

Due to a lack of water at hydropower reservoirs, hydroelectricity plants have had to operate in moderation, leading to a lack of electricity. To deal with this situation, the thermal power plants nationwide and, in particular, the northern region of the country, are operating at full capacity while implementing alternating power cuts.

To avoid power cuts in the hot summer months of June, July, and August, the Prime Minister requested coal exploiters and DongBac Corporation to ensure enough coal supply for electricity production.

Thermal power plants need to strengthen efficiency and minimise halting of operations for repair and maintenance, except for cases of force majeure, and to urgently fix problems to operate at maximum capacity.

Quang Ninh is now a thermal power centre in the North with seven thermal power plants operating at full capacity to meet increasing electricity demand.

Those thermal power plants produced a total of 16.7 billion kWh in the first five months, equal to 15% of the total electricity output of the country and 35% of the electricity produced by coal-fired power plants nationwide. All electricity output is supplied to the national grid.

Construction of large-scale urban area starts in Ninh Thuan

Construction of Ca Na New City urban development project, which has a total investment of nearly 4.5 trillion VND (192.27 million USD), started in Thuan Nam district of the south-central province of Ninh Thuan on July 8.

Covering 64.46 hectares, the project is located in the gateway to the East Sea of the south central coastal region, with close technical infrastructure linkages with neighbouring areas.

It is a green urban area with 20% of the total area designed for tree planting, with 36 parks and a lake.

Kieu Anh Tuan, Vice Chairman and General Director of ATC Holdings JSC, the investor of the project, said that with shophouses, villas, hotels, luxury apartments, social housing, the highlight of Ca Na New City urban area is the modern and neoclassical design style and its harmony with nature. Ca Na New City urban area will accommodate more than 9,000 residents, he said.

The project is scheduled to be put into operation in December 2027.

Addressing the ground-breaking ceremony, Chairman of the provincial People's Committee Tran Quoc Nam said that the project will meet the housing demands of local residents, helping ease population density in Thuan Nam district, especially Ca Na and Phuoc Diem communes.

It is also expected to meet the accommodation demands for experts, scientists and workers in nearby industrial parks and seaport, he said.

He pledged that the locality will create optimal conditions for the implementation of the project, and promptly settle obstacles facing the investors, thus ensuring the progress of the project.

Market diversification crucial for rice sector: Experts

Although Vietnamese rice has been exported to 150 countries and territories, markets for the product are mainly Asian countries and thus need to be diversified, according to experts.

Currently, the Asian region has been the largest market of Vietnamese rice, consuming over 60% of the country's total exported volume. It is followed by Africa with 22%, America 8%, Europe 5%, and other regions 5%.

In the first six months of this year, Vietnam exported 4.27 million tonnes of rice for 2.3 billion USD, up 22.2% in volume and 34.7% in value over the same period last year. Those are the highest growth rates of the rice sector in the recent 10 years.

This year, rice export volume is forecast to stand at a similar volume as last year when 7.35 million tonnes of rice was shipped abroad.

In a recent report, the US Department of Agriculture also predicted that Vietnam's rice export will exceed 7 million tonnes this year, mostly due to rising demands in Asian markets.

In this scenario, Vietnam will rank third in the world in rice exports after India and Thailand.

Deputy Director of the Department of Asian-African Markets under the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) To Ngoc Son said that high demands from traditional markets such as the Philippines, China, Indonesia and African countries are creating opportunities for Vietnam to increase exports.

Particularly, Indonesia and Africa have announced plans to import a large amount of rice this year to ensure national food reserves.

Indonesia said it needs 2.4 million tonnes, while Africa plans to import about 17.7 million tonnes.

The MoIT underlined that from now to the end of this year, Vietnam should continue to seek new rice markets, while optimising traditional markets of China and the Philippines.

Vu Ba Phu, Director of the Trade Promotion Agency said that the agency will continue to connect domestic firms and their foreign importers through various forms, while making full use of free trade agreements, and foster connections between domestic exporters and Vietnam Trade Offices abroad.

He said that the MoIT is building a project to build and promote the trademark of Vietnamese rice. He advised local firms to strengthen their linkage and cooperation with farmers to form a closed production chain.

In order to support businesses in expanding markets, the MoIT has coordinated with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to strengthen trade promotion in new markets such as Africa, the Middle-East, Western and Southern Asian countries, and Turkey.

Although the rice demands in these markets are not higher than traditional ones, they are promising markets for high-quality rice types, which can help Vietnam increase rice export value, according to the MoIT.

Can Tho urged to speed up ODA-funded projects

Deputy Prime Minister Tran Luu Quang on July 8 worked with leaders of the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho on the progress of projects using official development assistance (ODA) in the city.

The Deputy PM earlier inspected the 500-bed Can Tho Oncology Hospital project; the Can Tho River dyke project; and Tran Hoang Na bridge project.

The Can Tho Oncology Hospital has a total investment of 1.72 trillion VND (72.7 million USD), 80.66% of which is funded by the Hungarian Government. As scheduled, all of the capital should be disbursed by July 11, 2022. However, so far, just 22.77% of the total has been disbursed.

According to the Ministry of Finance, the major reason behind the slow disbursement is problems in the contract between the Can Tho Department of Health and Hungarian contractors.

The People's Committee of Can Tho proposed two solutions to the issue, thus speeding up the project's progress.

Meanwhile, the Can Tho River dyke funded by the French Development Agency (AFD) is delayed due to slow ground clearance process, with only 88.6% of the project land handed over to contractors. It has also faced administrative obstacles for disbursement procedures.

At the same time, the construction of Tran Hoang Na bridge has been completed by 80.53%. The investor has asked the contractors to ensure that the project will finish by September 2.

Speaking at the working session, Deputy PM Quang underlined the important role of the Can Tho Oncology Hospital in the Mekong Delta region. He said he will direct the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to consult the Hungarian side on the project.

He asked the Can Tho People's Committee to submit a report on the project, clarifying detailed data, technical solutions and difficulties of the project, adding that he will convene a meeting on the project after receiving the report and another from the Foreign Ministry after its discussions with the Hungarian side.

For the Can Tho River dyke project, Deputy PM Quang asked the Ministry of Finance to assist Can Tho in dealing with problems with the AFD. He also asked Can Tho to ensure the progress of the Tran Hoang Na bridge project as scheduled.

Vietnam, Singapore foster cooperation in facilitating innovation

The National Innovation Centre (NIC) under the Vietnamese Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI) and the National University of Singapore (NUS) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on cooperation in conducting activities to enhance the innovation capacity in both countries.

The MoU was signed at a business forum held by the Singapore Business Association on July 7 under the witness of Vietnamese and Singaporean officials, including Deputy Prime Minister Le Minh Khai, MPI Minister Nguyen Chi Dung and Singaporean Second Minister of Trade and Industry Tan See Leng.

Addressing the signing ceremony, MPI Minister Nguyen Chi Dung said that cooperation between the NIC and NUS is a practical and specific effort of the two sides to share knowledge and support each other in innovative startups, helping Vietnam realise its vision to become an innovation-oriented economy.

It is also among major cooperation activities of the Vietnam-Singapore Working Group on Innovation, he said, expressing hope that it will make positive contributions to the innovative startup ecosystem in Vietnam.

Under the MoU, NUS and NIC will set up working groups to strengthen collaboration in innovation and connectivity of the startup ecosystems in the two countries in the next three years.

The NUS will sponsor individuals winning the Vietnam Innovation Challenge contest to join its annual Startup Summer Programme, while granting scholarships to Vietnamese talents to take post-graduate courses on innovative startups.

NUS will share professional knowledge on NIC platforms, while NUS students and startups can access relevant initiatives and platforms, including incubation programmes organised by the NIC.

The two sides will also hold joint activities in Vietnam to promote the application of advanced technology solutions provided by Southeast Asian startups.

NIC will call for support from different sides for the expansion of the startup ecosystem for startups in the Southeast Asian region.

The two sides will seek cooperation chances and share knowledge to promote the development and application of technology, focusing on smart city and medical technology.

At the same time, the two sides will exploit new partnerships to develop innovative and startup centres in Vietnam, including the NUS's BLOCK71 global startup network that entered Vietnam in 2021 with the support of Becamex IDC Corporation.

Vu Quoc Huy, NIC Director said that the partnership between the NIC and NUS will facilitate knowledge exchange and access to resources, thus opening up cooperation opportunities, contributing to the growth of the startup ecosystem in Vietnam and strengthening the country's position as a regional innovation hub.

Bac Giang lychees enter Thailand’s major shopping malls

The first batch of Bac Giang lychees exported to Thailand via the official channel has been introduced to Thai consumers by The Mall Group at its seven shopping malls.

Vietnamese lychees were already present in Thailand a few years ago, but this is the first time that the fruits are on sale at a major supermarket chain in the country.

This batch of Bac Giang lychees, exported to Thailand by Vifoco company, is sold at Gourmet Market stores, which specialise in food and household items.

Chairman of Vifoco Nguyen Xuan Viet said he is happy to be one of the pioneering firms to bring fresh lychees to Thai consumers.

He added that his company hopes to export from 1,000 – 2,000 tonnes of fresh lychee to Thailand next year.

At the Siam Paragon shopping mall, the lychees from Vietnam have attracted attention from many shoppers. Thitikorn, a local consumer, said in his opinion, Vietnamese lychees have thick flesh, are juicy and sweet, and prices are affordable, so they will be favoured by Thai people. Another shopper called Somsri Somta, said that she and her children tasted the Vietnamese lychees and liked them very much.

For his part, Somkiat Wongsakulchai, chief executive of Ekthai, which distributes Vietnamese lychees in Thailand, spoke highly of the fruit’s quality and stated that the company will expand the distribution of Vietnamese lychees to more branches next year.
He added that his company will also import mango from Vietnam next year.

Lychee is grown in many localities in Vietnam, mostly in the north, with Bac Giang province known as the country's lychee growing hub.

The province harvested 199,500 tonnes of lychee in 2022 and earned nearly 6.8 trillion VND (290.5 million USD) from lychee sales and support services, according to the provincial People’s Committee.

Bac Giang lychee has affirmed its brand and value in many countries and territories around the world with 75,900 tonnes shipped abroad, making up 38.1% of the accumulative sales.

Ba Ria – Vung Tau to become national marine economic hub

The southern coastal province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau aims to become a national marine economic hub and a maritime service centre of Southeast Asia by 2050.

According to the province’s master plan for the 2021-2030 period, with a vision to 2050, which is awaiting approval, the locality will become a centrally-run city with multi-centre urban structure and multimodal transport infrastructure.

It is also set to develop into a gateway to the sea and an industrial centre of the Southeastern region, as well as an international-class high-quality tourism centre.

The locality will develop in a comprehensive, dynamic, and sustainable way, on the basis of “ good infrastructure, good environment and good human resources”.

During a conference in May, Secretary of the provincial Party Committee Pham Viet Thanh said the master plan has been refined based on feedback and recommendations of the national appraisal council, ministries, central agencies, sectors, experts, scientists and the public. The master plan also keeps abreast with development orientations of the country in general and the Southeastern region in particular.

 The conference to give opinions on the province’s master plan for the 2021-2030 period, with a vision to 2050 (Photo: VNA)

Vice Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Nguyen Cong Vinh said Ba Ria-Vung Tau will focus on carrying out development breakthroughs, including completing regional and inter-regional connectivity routes, developing a seaport system, forming a national-level logistics centre, and establishing a free trade area in Cai Mep Ha, attracting strategic investors, designing a complete and synchronous ecosystem applying international standards.

The province will also work to form tourism urban areas with the aim of turning it into an entertainment and resort centre of international standards, and establish hi-tech industrial parks to attract investors and human resources in advanced production industries.

From now to 2050, Ba Ria-Vung Tau will continue modernising its infrastructure system, with focus on the Bien Hoa-Vung Tau railway, metro lines connecting urban areas, and a monorail system linking coastal tourism urban areas from Vung Tau city to Binh Chau hot mineral spring.

Vietnam remains leading destination of FDI businesses

Foreign businesses continue to place their trust in Vietnam by injecting more than US$13 billion into registered projects throughout the country during the first six months of the year, despite a general downward trend occurring globally.

Many tech giants and multinational companies such as Samsung, LG, Google, and Microsoft have developed plans to shift their investment in new production lines in Vietnam.

At a recent Vietnam - Korea business forum, Cho Hyun Joon, chairman of Hyosung Group, stated that the group would still consider Vietnam to be a strategic and key market moving forward. He went on to reveal that Hyosung is expected to continue to expand its operation and is looking towards sustainable development in the country, especially in high-tech fields.

Priyamvada Srivastava, general director of Procter & Gamble Vietnam, during a recent meeting held with leaders of Binh Duong province, also revealed that the firm will invest an additional US$100 million to expand the production line at its Ben Cat factory. Currently, P&G has two factories in Binh Duong with a total investment capital of US$300 million.

These represent positive signs, meaning that FDI businesses consider the Vietnamese market to be a leading destination for their investment.

The World Bank (WB) noted that over the past four decades, from 1986 to 2022, Vietnam has been a success story in terms of attracting foreign direct investment thanks to an attractive local investment environment, a stable political background, coupled with high potential for economic growth. It has even maintained this positive trend amid global FDI inflows slowing down in the first months of 2023.  

WB statistics highlight that Vietnam jumped from 123rd to 28th place in global foreign investment attraction ranking for the period 1989 to 2022, with foreign investment capital into the country increasing by 4,634 times.

At present, more than 143 countries and territories have poured investment capital into Vietnam. Notably, the investment capital of a number of major partners such as Singapore, Japan, and the Republic of Korea has increased year on year, with the FDI wave tending to focus on industries with a high content of gray matter and high technology such as manufacturing industry, software industry, electronics and information technology, pharmaceuticals, and precision mechanics.

The General Statistics Office (GSO) recently unveiled statistics showing that FDI businesses poured US$13.43 billion into the country in the first six months of this year, equaling 95.7% of the corresponding period from last year.

In order for Vietnam to continue to be an attractive destination for foreign investors, the GSO has suggested that the Government implement effective solutions in order to attract quality FDI inflows over the coming months amid a global slowdown.

Phi Huong Nga, an official of the GSO, stated that besides the growth momentum, Vietnamese FDI attraction is still affected by a number of external factors such as complicated and unpredictable international developments and tougher political conflicts in some regions around the world.

These factors have contributed to put significant downward pressure on global FDI inflows in 2022 and continuing into this year, thereby negatively affecting overseas investment flows of major economies that are Vietnamese investment partners, analysed Nga.

In his opinion, Michael Kokalari, chief economist of VinaCapital, predicted that FDI inflows into the Vietnamese market would remain stable despite the enforcement of the global minimum tax policy, starting from January 1, 2024.

He said FDI inflows will continue to be one of the country’s key growth drivers over the coming years. As a result, Vietnam will continue to be a leading destination for FDI, especially from multinational companies looking to produce goods for export and seeking an alternative or additional production base in the near future.

First-half public investment disbursement stagnant

Half of the year has passed, yet ministries and other central agencies have disbursed just over a quarter of the full-year public investment plan, according to the Department of Debt Management and External Finance at the Ministry of Finance.

Between January and June, only VND3,225 billion of public investment capital has been disbursed by five out of 11 ministries and agencies, reaching a meager 27.2% of the annual target, showed data given at a conference on public capital disbursement held on June 28.

Among the five ministries and agencies, the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology, the Ministry of Transport, and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development achieved respective disbursement rates of 47.4%, 31%, and 30.5% of their annual targets.

However, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and the Ministry of Education and Training struggled, with disbursement rates reaching only 4.2% and 5.3%, respectively.

Delays in land clearance and resettlement, along with contract finalization with design consultants and disputes between contractors and investors, have led to the foot-dragging disbursement rates.

The disbursement of public investment funded by official development assistance loans in localities has also lagged behind schedule, with only 7.6% of the allocated VND34.5 trillion disbursed by provinces and centrally-run cities this year.

Out of the total 50 provinces and cities, only eight have disbursed more than 15% of the allocated capital, while 13 others have not disbursed any funds at all.

The sluggish disbursement rates may hard it hard to achieve the objectives outlined in Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh’s Directive 08, issued on March 23 to achieve a disbursement rate of at least 95% for all planned public investments this year.

HCMC’s Jan-June tourism revenue surges

HCMC has generated over VND4,800 billion from tourism services in the first six months of this year, rising a staggering 78.5% year-on-year, according to the municipal Statistical Office.

In the January-June period, the city’s overall revenue from retail sales of goods and services reached over VND561,734 billion, a year-on-year rise of 7.1%.

The tourism sector played a major role in this growth, contributing VND4,827 billion to the overall revenue, a year-on-year uptick of 78.5%. This surge can be attributed to the high demand for travel during the summer vacation period.

Accommodation and catering services revenue reached VND51,073 billion, rising 36.2% year-on-year.

In terms of the consumer price index (CPI) in June, HCMC witnessed a slight month-on-month increase of 0.17%.

Among the basket of items used to calculate the CPI, eight out of 11 products saw price increases. The consumer goods and catering services groups experienced the highest rise of 0.51%, trailed by drinks and cigarettes with 0.31%. The apparel sector also saw a slight increase of 0.18% due to adjusted prices of input materials.

Overall, the city’s average CPI for the first six months of the year grew by 3.73% over the same period last year, except for the traffic and telecommunications service.

RoK SMEs prioritise hiring Vietnamese, Indian software developers

More than 50% of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) of the Republic of Korea (RoK) want to hire software developers from overseas, especially those from Vietnam and India, amid a talent shortage.      

According to the RoK Ministry of SMEs and Startups, 54.5% of the 187 companies surveyed from June 13 to 23 said they are willing to hire foreign software developers in the future.

India, Vietnam and China were the preferred nationalities among Korean SMEs for offshore engineers, at 36.4%, 31%, and 11.8%, respectively, who are paid at a lower rate than their RoK peers.

The survey also showed 27.3% of the respondents had already hired foreign engineers.

As many as 75.4% of the companies surveyed said they found it challenging to hire and retain local professional software engineers.

Vietnam steel exports to EU rise 55% in Jan-May

Despite woes on the local steel market, Vietnam’s steel exports to the European Union (EU) market grew a strong 55% in the first five months of this year.

According to the General Department of Vietnam Customs, businesses in the country exported a total of 4.38 million tons of steel in the first five months, a 10.4% increase compared to the previous year. Notably, Vietnam’s steel exports to the EU, consisting of 27 countries, reached 1.36 million tons, a significant surge of 55%.

Italy stands out as Vietnam’s largest steel buyer in the EU, importing nearly 696,000 tons, which is a remarkable 121% increase compared to the same period last year.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade anticipates favorable conditions for Vietnam’s steel exports to the EU as trade remedy regulations imposed on imported steel will be relaxed starting from July 1, 2023.

Under these new regulations, developing countries like Vietnam, China, India, Malaysia, and Brazil will be entitled to quota increases if their steel exports to the EU remain below 3% of the total import value for each product.

According to the Vietnam Steel Association, its member businesses had sold over 10.4 million tons of steel in the year up to May, experiencing a decrease of 19.3% compared to the same period last year. However, steel exports accounted for 3.2 million tons, reflecting a year-on-year rise of 2.6%.

Tuyen Quang posts highest GRDP growth among 11 northern mountainous provinces

The northern mountainous province of Tuyen Quang posted a gross regional domestic products (GRDP) growth of 7.55% in the first half of this year, the General Statistics Office announced on June 29.

In terms of GRDP growth, the province ranked 13th in 63 provinces and cities in Vietnam, second among 14 northern midland and mountainous provinces, and first among 11 northern mountainous provinces.

Specifically, the province’s agriculture and forestry sector expanded 4.64%; the industrial sector 10.87%, and the service sector 7.35%.

In the first six months of 2023, industry, construction, and services remained main contributors to the local GRDP growth, proving that the province's economic structure is on the right track. The economic restructuring is in line with the requirements of accelerating economic growth in the direction of industrialisation, and modernisation and gradually increasing the proportion of services in the province’s economic structure.

In 2023, Tuyen Quang strives for GRDP growth of 9.0% and GRDP per capita of over 55.7 million VND (2,400 USD) per year. It targets the production value of the services sector up 9%, the industry sector up 5.4%, and the agro-forestry- fishery sector up over 4.6% to nearly 10.8 trillion VND.

Number of Vietnamese visitors to Thailand rising

Thailand continues to be a favoured choice among Vietnamese travellers, observing an uptick in the number of visitors from Việt Nam, according to the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).

“Thailand has witnessed a significant influx of Vietnamese visitors, with nearly 440,000 arrivals recorded from January 1 to June 23," said a spokesperson from TAT.

The number is expected to reach 500,000 by the end of June, which is nearly 50 per cent of the number in the entire 2019, the year before COVID began, said the spokesperson.

HCM City-based Vietravel said it hoped to take more than 14,000 Vietnamese visitors to Thailand this summer, or 66 per cent of the 2019 number. 

Phạm Văn Bảy, deputy director of the Vietravel office in Hà Nội, said Thailand remained a popular destination among Vietnamese due to its affordability and “hospitality.”

With the demand to visit Thailand surging, his company planned to diversify its tour offerings, he said.

This summer Vietravel Hà Nội planned to launch Thai tours with direct flights to Phuket, Koh Phi Phi Island and Phang Nga Bay with accommodation at high-class resorts, he said.

Trần Thị Bảo Thu, communication director of Vietluxtour, said Thailand had one of the highest rates of returning visitors, with many people choosing to visit every three to five years.

Phạm Quý Huy, director of KiwiTravel firm, told Việt Nam News it was relatively easy for Vietnamese tourists to travel independently to Thailand due to its 'convenience' and 'simplicity' compared to other popular destinations such as the US, Australia, Japan, South Korea, and Europe.

"Communication, shopping and commuting in Thailand are relatively straightforward, with some Thais even speaking Vietnamese," he said. 

“The increasing number of Vietnamese independent travellers to Thailand can be attributed to the convenience of language, direct flights, and affordability.”

According to TAT, the majority of Thailand’s foreign tourists come from Asian nations including Việt Nam, Malaysia, China, and India, with Việt Nam being one of the top six markets.

Despite the impact of the pandemic, Thailand received 470,000 tourists from Việt Nam last year, or almost half the pre-pandemic figure.

Vietnamese tourists can fly directly from major cities such as HCM City, Hà Nội, Đà Nẵng, Đà Lạt, Phú Quốc, and Nha Trang to Thai hotspots such as Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Phuket.

Thirteen renewable projects involved in commercial generation of electricity

Renewable energy projects in the transitional phase have generated a total of 68.6 million kWh since their commercial operation began, with average daily output of 3.2 million kWh, according to Vietnam Electricity Group (EVN).

As of June 27, 13 renewable energy projects with a combined capacity of 640.52MW have completed necessary procedures for commercial operation and are now eligible to be connected to the national grid, according to the Vietnam News Agency.

Out of the 85 renewable energy transition projects, 70 have submitted their documents to EVN for price negotiations and power purchase agreements. Among them, investors from 59 projects have proposed a preliminary price, which is equivalent to 50% of the price ceiling set by the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

EVN has successfully completed price negotiations and signed power purchase agreements with 57 out of the 59 projects. The Ministry of Industry and Trade has approved tentative prices for 51 of these projects.

Furthermore, 19 projects have been fully or partially reviewed and accepted by the competent authorities.

Operating permits have been issued for 27 projects, covering either the entire facility or a portion of it, while 37 projects have received approval for an extension of their investment policy.

By the end of June, 15 projects with a total capacity of 882.70MW had not submitted their documents to EVN for price negotiations and power purchase agreements.

State budget revenue drops in H1

The State budget revenue in the first half of this year has reached VND875.8 trillion, falling 7.8% versus the year-ago period and reaching 54% of the full-year estimate, according to the General Statistics Office.

Revenue from domestic sources has amounted to VND718.8 trillion, dropping 4.7% year-on-year and reaching 53.9% of the year’s estimate.

Out of the total revenue, budget collection from State-owned enterprises is projected to have risen by about 10.9% year-on-year to nearly VND98 trillion, while revenue from foreign-invested enterprises (excluding from crude oil) has increased by 0.8% to VND119.4 trillion.

Revenue from personal income tax has amounted to VND86.9 trillion, down 7%.

Crude oil revenue has reached VND30.6 trillion, down 15%, while revenue from import and export activities has totaled VND126.4 trillion, down 20.6%.

Meanwhile, the accumulated budget expenditure in the first six months has increased by 12.9% year-on-year to VND804.6 trillion, equivalent to 38.8% of the 2023 estimate.

Out of the total budget spending, development investment has amounted to an estimated VND215.6 trillion, up a significant 43.3%, while regular spending has reached VND537.4 trillion, up 5.5% compared to the same period last year.

Expenditure on interest payments has amounted to VND51 trillion, a 0.8% decline.

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