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VIETNAM BUSINESS NEWS MARCH 21

US increases imports of Vietnamese mangoes

With Vietnam emerging as the 14th largest supplier of mangoes to the United States in 2020, the import of its mangoes into the US is predicted to continue to rise this year.

According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT)’s Import and Export Department, the US imported a total of 2,100 tonnes of mangoes worth 4.61 million USD from Vietnam last year, representing an increase of 66% in volume and 70.1% in value in comparison to 2019. These figures indicate that Vietnam has become the 14th largest mango supplier to the US market.

Alongside fresh mangoes, the US also imported 1,150 tonnes of frozen mangoes Vietnam last year, representing an increase of 38.16% compared to 2019.

Vietnamese mangoes were licensed to enter the US, one of the demanding markets in the world, last year. Many businesses have so far shipped mangoes to the US but their exports remain modest.   

Experts say that the US’s mango imports are anticipated to increase by 3% annually from now till 2025, opening up a chance for Vietnamese businesses to expand their shares in this market. 

Bac Lieu develops tourism products, services

The Mekong Delta province of Bac Lieu is taking various measures, especially diversifying tourism products and services, to attract more tourists.

Vice Chairwoman of the provincial People’s Committee Cao Xuan Thu Van said that the province has invested in creating new tourism products, and increasing the quality and bringing into full play key products, and in completing infrastructure at main tourist sites.

In addition, the locality has coordinated with investors in developing tourism in coastal areas, speeding up construction on eco-tourism and entertainment tourist sites, and reviewing and re-assessing natural resources for tourism development, so as to build strategies in a concerted and oriented manner to avoid overlapping between localities in the Mekong Delta.

According to Van, local authorities are developing typical products of the trade villages such as salt production, fishing net knitting, seafood processing, and vegetable cultivation, while encouraging locals to take part in tourism, towards building community-based tourism models.

The province has also been investing in restoring and promoting the values of historical and cultural relic sites and ancient architectures, she added.

In 2021, Bac Lieu strives to welcome 3.2 million tourists and earn about 3.2 trillion VND (139.5 million USD) from tourism services, up 40 percent and 65 percent year-on-year respectively. It has also set a target of having 1.5 million visitors staying overnight, an increase of 53 percent compared to the figure of 2020./.

Shrimp businesses invest in long-term development

Having posted double-digit growth last year despite COVID-19 and with opportunities stemming from new-generation free trade agreements, many shrimp enterprises have been investing in building processing facilities and raw material areas for their long-term development.

Expanding processing plants

Major players such as the Thuan Phuoc Seafood & Trading Corp., the Minh Phu Seafood Corp., and the Nha Trang Seafood Company have kicked off expansion efforts since the beginning of the year, all in the Mekong Delta.

Thuan Phuoc has opened its 400 billion VND (17.45 million USD) An An shrimp processing plant in Tien Giang province, with a capacity of some 50 tonnes of finished shrimp products a day.

Minh Phu, meanwhile, is preparing to begin the construction of two large-scale processing plants, costing close to 1 trillion VND and with a combined annual capacity nearing 50,000 tonnes, in Hau Giang and Ca Mau provinces. The corporation is also eyeing the construction of another factory in nearby Kien Giang province.

Nha Trang Seafood is completing the final steps to put a processing plant into operation in Bac Lieu province, which will be capable of producing 10,000 tonnes of products annually.

Last year, Sao Ta Foods JSC invested nearly 400 billion VND in simultaneously building two shrimp processing plants in Soc Trang province’s An Nghiep Industrial Park. The two boast a capacity of 20,000 tonnes a year.

Ho Quoc Luc, Chairman of the Sao Ta Board of Directors, said the shrimp sector’s expansion in Soc Trang has seen the engagement of not only large enterprises but also new players.

If the sector maintains its current growth momentum, it will take the lead globally in a couple of years, he added.

Developing sustainable material areas

A draft fisheries development strategy to 2030 and vision to 2045, developed by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, targets the sector contributing 28-30 percent of national GDP by 2030. Total aquatic output is to reach 10 million tonnes, of which aquaculture output is to account for 70-75 percent. This will be a driving force for businesses to invest in expanding raw material farming areas.

At the “Dialogue 2045” programme chaired by Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc on March 6, director general of Minh Phu Seafood Le Van Quang said that to ensure sustainable material sources, his corporation has devised a plan on smart and green value chain development that consists of different shrimp farming models suitable to different localities. It has also developed an AI- and blockchain-based mobile phone app to manage shrimp farms.

With the development of sustainable shrimp production models, he went on, Vietnam will be capable of becoming the world’s No. 1 shrimp production and processing powerhouse, holding a market share of 25 percent globally and producing nearly 4 million tonnes of raw shrimp by 2045.

Thuan Phuoc, meanwhile, is developing a 200-ha shrimp farming area in Ben Tre province.

Chairman of its Board of Directors Tran Van Linh said it aims to expand its investment in farming and processing to the north of the Hau River, turning it into a key material area and proactively controlling food safety standards to meet its sustainable development goals./.

Vietnam’s dairy industry reaches out to the world

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic wreaking havoc on all sectors, Vietnam’s dairy industry has made efforts to win over customers and solidified its foothold in the domestic market while reaching out to global markets.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade said Vietnam shipped 302.7 million USD worth of dairy products in 2020, a 10.5 percent increase against 2019. This was the first time the country’s dairy export revenue has exceeded 300 million USD.

According to the Vietnam Dairy Association (VDA), many enterprises have spent heavily on advanced technologies and developed cattle farms under Global GAP, VietGAP, and organic standards to improve productivity and food safety and to diversify products.

After showing their capacity to supply foreign markets with quality products, Vietnamese enterprises have enjoyed strong sales in the recent time. Despite the pandemic, Vinamilk and Vinasoy exported products to major markets such as China, the Middle East, the Republic of Korea, and Japan.

Vinamilk signed a deal worth 20 million USD with a distributor in Dubai last year to supply dairy products, and also shipped its nut milk and milk tea to the Republic of Korea. Meanwhile, Vinasoy’s products have been sold on 11 e-commerce platforms and at six supermarket chains in China.

The VDA said the dairy sector earned more than 113.71 trillion VND (4.95 billion USD) in revenue in 2020, or 5 percent higher than in 2019, thanks to an abundance of raw materials, high demand, and solid maintenance of distribution channels.

Securities firms expect that the dairy sector will grow some 7 percent in 2021 on the back of an increasing need for high-value products.

Exports exhibited robust signs in the first two months of the year, with ten containers of Vinamilk’s nut milk and five containers of sweetened condensed milk shipped to China.

Meanwhile, the Chinese General Administration of Customs (GAC) recently announced the granting of transaction codes to two Vietnamese companies to ship dairy products to the country, the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Department of Asia-Africa Markets has said.

Accordingly, the FrieslandCampina Hanam Company Limited is allowed to ship pasteurised and fermented milk, while the FrieslandCampina Vietnam Company Limited can export pasteurised and fermented milk, sweetened condensed milk, and other dairy products.

China has so far granted transaction codes to nine Vietnamese companies and plants. Others include TH True Milk, with sterilised and modified milk, Hanoimilk, with fermented milk, Bel Vietnam, with cheese, Nutifood, with sterilised, modified, and flavoured fermented milk, Vinamilk’s three plants, with condensed milk, flavoured fermented milk, sterilised and modified milk, and sweetened condensed milk, and many other kinds of condensed milk products.

Besides China, Vietnam’s dairy products have also won over customers in the US, Japan, the Republic of Korea, and the Middle East.

Dairy producers said they have paid due regard to improving product quality and packaging design, to better meet customer requirements.

TH True Milk, Vinasoy, and Moc Chau Milk are all making investment in material zones, plants, and state-of-the-art technologies to produce international-standard products.

According to Vinamilk International Business Director Vo Trung Hieu, together with strong markets like the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and the US, it is also promoting exports to markets of potential such as the Republic of Korea and several countries in Africa.

Entering into fastidious markets has affirmed the position of Vietnamese enterprises in the world’s dairy industry, he added./.

Hanoi seeks ways to lure more visitors

Experts and businesses contributed various measures and solutions for the tourism sector of Hanoi to design tourism products to lure more visitors during a conference in the capital city on March 18.

Yet to receive foreign visitors due to COVID-19 impacts, the city is focusing on encouraging local residents to explore various destinations in the city such as high-end hotels, ancient architecture works, eco-tourism sites, trade villages and ancient villages.

Nguyen Le Huong, Deputy General Director of Vietravel held that in the current situation, the tourism sector should pay greater attention to the programme to encourage Vietnamese to travel Vietnam, and Hanoians to tour Hanoi.

She said the tourism potential of the capital city remains under-exploited, such as the beauty of outskirt districts and trade villages.

Agreeing with Huong, Truong Quoc Hung, President of the Hanoi UNESCO Travel Club said that the area of Ba Vi and Soc Son boast great potential for ecotourism as well as cultural, resort and sport tourism, which is suitable to families and groups of tourists. The city should also exploit its strength in spiritual tourism as well, he said.

Many experts asserted that Hanoi has yet to optimise its rich cultural tradition, advising the city to design more new, unique and typical tourism products of this type.

Phung Quang Thang, Director of Hanoi Tourist and President of the Hanoi Travel Association said that travel businesses should review and restructure their products to create more attractive tours.

Thang said that the firms should work more closely with local authorised agencies to focus on developing night tourism, citing statistics showing that 70 percent of people engaging in night tourism activities enjoy food, 20 percent often drink and 10 percent engage in entertainment activities. In his opinion, with its advantages in night tourism such as the two pedestrian areas of the Old Quarter around Hoan Kiem Lake and Trinh Cong Son Street near West Lake, Hanoi’s culinary tourism will help travel firms thrive.

Meanwhile, Chu Ngoc Quan, Vice Director of the Ba Vi National Park said that in February alone, the site saw a 170 percent rise year on year in the number of visitors. The park and nearby Suoi Hai lake can become a great cultural tourism site, he said.

Director of the Hanoi Department of Tourism Dang Huong Giang showed the hope that travel firms will foster connectivity to design attractive tourism products with high quality.

The department has hired a communication consultant agency to help with tourism promotion in different markets, she said, adding that the city plans to organise large-scale events to attract more visitors./.

Long Thanh airport - Magnet for real estate investment in HCM City’s east

The prospect of busy urban areas being created around Long Thanh International Airport in southern Dong Nai province has attracted investment in the eastern reaches of neighbouring Ho Chi Minh City, most notably  Aqua City ecological urban area, which has become appealing thanks to its connectivity, standardised planning, convenience, and ideal geographical location.

The first phase of the Long Thanh airport project began early this year. It is scheduled to be put into service no later than 2025, with an initial annual capacity of 25 million passengers, which will eventually rise to 100 million.

Centennial growth momentum

Designed to meet the 4F level, the highest of its kind set by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), Long Thanh is projected to serve as an aviation hub, both regionally and globally.

Once operational, it will deal with existing airport congestion, pave the way for investment and tourism, and contribute 3-5 percent of the country’s GDP.

Major infrastructure projects such as airports have always helped give a facelift to urban areas. They also facilitate production and business, and trade and tourism, while forming a busy residential community. The central city of Da Nang and the island district of Phu Quoc in the Mekong Delta province of Kien Giang are examples in this regard.

Many airport-based urban models have been created globally, contributing to local economic, trade, and tourism development, with Amsterdam Schiphol in the Netherlands an outstanding example.

The Long Thanh International Airport is connected with urban areas and economic zones, so is expected to drive investment and economic development in the southern region.

The project will also give a boost to component projects like warehouses, transport infrastructure, services, and satellite urban areas, thus leading to an increase in land demand.

Real estate consultancy Savills said the southern province of Dong Nai should reach a new level of development, with a more international focus instead of relying on industry and services, as has long been the case.

It suggested the province develop a closed-loop industrial chain, from production to logistics, and warehouses and transportation to deep-water ports.

The establishment of Thu Duc city in 2021 has also given a facelift to the local area and increased housing supply in HCM City’s eastern area. Moreover, the scarcity of real estate supply in the city has prompted investment in adjacent provinces such as Dong Nai and Binh Duong, which will spur the market this year.

“The recent positive signs from key infrastructure projects like the construction of the Long Thanh International Airport and the establishment of Thu Duc city will create momentum to restart the market,” said Duong Thuy Dung, Senior Director of CBRE Vietnam.

Anticipating investment waves

To optimise such opportunities and complete the infrastructure network connected with Long Thanh, Dong Nai authorities have begun the construction of transport projects such as Huong Lo 2 and the Bien Hoa-Vung Tau Expressway.

The province has also proposed building two routes leading to the airport: a 3.8-km route running from National Highway No 51 to the airport, and another, measuring 3.5 km, from the HCM City-Long Thanh-Dau Giay Expressway to the first route, running in parallel with National Highway No 51. The total funding for the two routes has been estimated at more than 4.8 trillion VND (209.46 million USD).

Located within the open urban-economic area in the southern part of Bien Hoa city, Aqua City, invested by Novaland, has found favour among both buyers and investors thanks to its ideal geographic location and scientific planning.

Covering 1,000 ha, it lies on Huong Lo 2, linking National Highway No. 51 and the HCM City-Long Thanh- Dau Giay Expressway.

It takes only half an hour by waterway from the project to the centre of HCM City and five minutes by car to a high-tech industrial park in District 9. Once transport infrastructure is completed, it will take only 20 minutes by car to get to HCM City or the Long Thanh International Airport.

Located within Aqua City, the urban island of Phuong Hoang opened late last year and has proven its attractiveness thanks to its natural surroundings. 

The urban island of Phuong Hoang boasts an ideal geographic location and a vast ecological area.
With its unique advantages, from location to planning, Phuong Hoang and Aqua City in general are expected to rouse the real estate market in HCM City’s eastern area in the time ahead.

The DKRA Vietnam JSC said street houses and villas are moving towards areas adjacent to HCM City that boast abundant land funds and convenient infrastructure.

As such, Dong Nai expects to continue making up a large share of supply this year. Major projects on hundreds of hectares each and with scientific planning, like Aqua City, will further catch the attention of customers thanks to their potential for high growth values./.

Forbes spotlights Vietnamese hospitality sector’s creativity amid pandemic

US business magazine Forbes has recently published an article highlighting the Vietnamese hospitality sector’s creativity to survive the COVID-19 blow.

According to the article, titled “Vietnam’s hotels get creative to survive the pandemic” by Brett Davis, COVID-19 forced some in the industry to rethink their approach to how to cater to guests and innovate their offerings.

It said one such innovation was developed at Alma Resort on the shores of Cam Ranh Bay in southern Vietnam, which built its own in-house app to create a safe, contactless way of delivering key information to guests.

Developed by the resort’s IT team and available for download on Android, Apple, Windows and Amazon devices, the 'Alma Resort' app provides COVID-19 health and safety tips, menus for the property’s restaurants, activity schedules and promotions as well as live stream broadcasts and information about events.

The resort’s general manager, Herbert Laubichler-Pichler, said he believed it would soon be incumbent for five-star resorts across Vietnam to offer the same technology.

The author went on to note that thanks the Government’s drastic measures, Vietnam was one of the world’s leading countries in controlling the spread of the pandemic.

It said domestic tourism, and the steadily growing purchasing power of Vietnamese consumers, came to be viewed as a lifeline for the local tourism industry, provided it could change its strategy in some key areas. One such example was in the food and beverage offerings.

Looking forward, Herbert Laubichler-Pichler predicted there would be a strong rebound in the Vietnamese tourism sector because of the pent-up demand for travel after a year spent in various forms of isolation./.

Tien Giang to expand aquatic farming area to over 10,500 ha

The districts of Go Cong Dong and Tan Phu Dong, which form key saline and brackish water aquaculture areas in the Mekong Delta province of Tien Giang, are targeting to have more than 10,500 ha of water surface area serving aquatic farming, mostly shrimp, this year.

Located in the downstream area of the Tien River, the two localities aim to produce over 50,000 tonnes of aquatic products for domestic consumption and export.

Head of the Go Cong Dong office for agriculture and rural development Nguyen Van Qui said the district is endowed with a 20-km coastline and so boasts great potential for salty and brackish water aquaculture. It has so far established two concentrated farming areas.

The district is now working to diversify its farming methods to meet market demand and lessen the risks facing farmers.

Meanwhile, coastal communes in Tan Phu Dong district like Phu Dong and Phu Tan are being developed around aquatic farming to stabilise local lives, meet new-style rural standards, and adapt to climate change. Various shrimp models have been applied to create more jobs.

Phu Tan commune’s improved extensive shrimp farming area now totals 2,500 ha and is an important raw material area serving the local seafood processing industry for export.

To boost agricultural production restructuring efforts and to capitalise on potential in local land and labour, particularly for salty and brackish water aquaculture, the locality has developed high-tech shrimp farming for export in Phu Thanh and Phu Dong communes, while building a shrimp-rice farming area in Phu Tan, according to Nguyen Van Hai, head of the district’s office for agriculture and rural development.

Go Cong Dong and Tan Phu Dong produced more than 46,000 tonnes of aquatic products last year./.

Disbursement of public investment for agriculture likely to reach 11.4 percent in Q1

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) is likely to fulfil 11.4 percent of its yearly plan of public capital disbursement at the end of the first quarter of this year.

Of the total, the disbursement of capital from Government bonds is likely to reach 13.9 percent, while those of official development assistance (ODA) is 7.6 percent and the State budget is 10.2 percent.

According to the ministry, in order to speed up public investment disbursement, right from the beginning of the year, the ministry has held a number of online meetings with its agencies to remove difficulties and obstacles in the field.

Along with the implementation of comprehensive measures, in the first months of 2021, the ministry has prioritised the disbursement of capital left from 2020, and directing the settlement of obstacles facing major projects.

The ministry has strengthen the inspection and supervision of the progress of each projects, especially large ones with complicated conditions and huge investment, thus exploring obstacles facing the projects and investors and give timely solutions, especially in ground clearance.

In 2021, the MARD is allocated with over 9.84 trillion VND (425.32 million USD) of public investment capital, including 7 trillion VND from domestic sources and 2.84 trillion from ODA sources.

Last year, the ministry received 13.97 trillion VND, of which 12.07 trillion VND was disbursed, equivalent to 86.4 percent of the yearly target./.

Proposals released on investment in North-South high-speed railway’s two sections

The consultancy agency of the North-South high-speed railway project has released proposals on investment in Hanoi - Vinh (Nghe An) and Ho Chi Minh City - Nha Trang sections with a total length of 615 km, according to a representative from the Ministry of Transport.

Under the proposal, the two sections are to be built and become operational before 2032 at a total cost of 375.87 trillion VND (15.7 billion USD), or before 2030 with total investment of 561.59 trillion VND (23.3 billion USD).

The transport sector plans to build seven new railway routes in the 2021-2030 period and upgrade a number of old lines./.

HCM City receives record 6.1 billion USD remittances in 2020 despite pandemic

Despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, overseas remittances to Ho Chi Minh City reached a record high of 6.1 billion USD last year, up more than 15 percent from 2019, a city leader told a meeting on March 18.

Duong Anh Duc, Vice Chairman of the city People’s Committee, hailed the contributions made by overseas Vietnamese businesses to the country’s socio-economic development, saying, “Remittances to Vietnam have been worth more than 170 billion USD since 1990.”

He called on young overseas Vietnamese who have returned to live in Vietnam to establish a diaspora network in the country to better exploit its socio-economic potential.

Vo Thanh Chat, Vice Chairman of the HCM City Committee for Overseas Vietnamese, said last year more than 1,450 overseas Vietnamese were interested in learning about policies related to investment in the city.

It also received donations from overseas Vietnamese such as masks, disinfectants and other equipment in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, and almost 10,000 books worth more than 1.1 million USD meant for local universities.

Overseas Vietnamese have been providing inputs to the city Department of Science and Technology on a draft law for attracting experts in various fields, he said.

The committee would continue to help them maintain their culture abroad, he said.

More than 5.3 million ethnic Vietnamese live in 130 countries and territories.

According to Luong Thanh Nghi, Vice Chairman of the State Committee for Overseas Vietnamese, some 600,000 work and study in developed countries, a huge resource for the country, while 500 return to Vietnam every year to invest in various sectors, he added.

In recent years many overseas Vietnamese have returned to start businesses since they see great economic potential in the country.

Many had very successful careers in other countries, Nghi added./.

Domestic travel bouncing back quickly

Many travel companies said domestic tourism is recovering quickly, and even a number of tours for the South Liberation and National Reunification Day (April 30) and the May Day holidays have been fully booked.

The Dau tu (Vietnam Investment Review) newspaper reported that travel firms have continually offered new tours and combos with attractive prices and services.

Thanks to the containment of the latest COVID-19 outbreak that began in late January, the number of domestic travellers booking tours and combos has been growing strongly.

Nguyen Nguyet Van Khanh, Deputy Director of the marketing division at Vietravel, said since early March, her company has carried out a new programme in which clients booking four- or five-star resort rooms for two or three nights for trips in March and April will be offered round-trip tickets priced from only 990,000 VND (nearly 43 USD) for certain routes of Vietravel Airlines.

This enterprise reported that the number of visitors rose five-fold during March 1-7, and most of them selected destinations in the Central Highlands, the central region, and Phu Quoc Island for their holidays.

Doan Thi Thanh Tra, head of the communications division at Saigontourist, noted that for travel businesses, the domestic market is still their lifesaver in 2021.

Tour prices at present are “very good” compared to the pre-outbreak period as hotels and restaurants are offering the best prices while service quality is still maintained, she said, adding that Saigontourist has also seen a large number of clients asking for information or booking tours and combos for the coming national holidays in late April.

Besides, flight tickets have also been discounted to the lowest possible level, according to Dau tu.

Vietnam Airlines and Pacific Airlines has sold tickets for the domestic flights conducted between February 19 and December 31 this year, except for some peak times, for only 88,000 VND, or 567,000 VND including tax and fees. Passengers can change tickets for unlimited times before the flight date, with the change free of 500,000 VND per ticket.

Apart from travel companies and airlines, many localities have also been launching a wide range of activities to attract visitors this summer.

Da Nang city, a tourist magnet in the central region, is set to organise the Danang By Night programme on April 30 featuring numerous events like artistic lighting on the Han River and its banks, bridges, and some skycrapers; night-time travel activities at the An Thuong tourism zone; and music shows at many places of interest.

Hanoi capital is scheduled to hold a travel stimulus and culinary festival on April 14-16 at the pedestrian zone around Hoan Kiem Lake.

Meanwhile, businesses in Ho Chi Minh City has also recorded positive signs when the number of people with travel demand is recovering, Chairwoman of the city’s Tourism Association Nguyen Thi Khanh said, adding that many of the association’s member companies have inked contracts with hundreds or even thousands of clients for trips through April.

She noted that residents in HCM City love travelling, so a demand rebound is inevitable after a long period of staying at home due to the coronavirus outbreak./.

Vietnam, UAE enjoy surge in two-way trade

Total two-way trade between Vietnam and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) reached 809 million USD in the first two months of this year, up 58 percent from the same period last year.

The UAE is one of Vietnam’s 10 largest export partners in the world and is the largest export partner of Vietnam in the Middle East and Africa, which has seen a surge in demand for imported goods in the time of COVID-19. Experts believe that there are plenty of opportunities for Vietnam to gain a stronger foothold in this market in the time ahead.

According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, Vietnam has enjoyed high trade surplus with the UAE for years, posting 737 million USD worth of exports to UAE in January-February, up nearly 60 percent year-on-year while imports valuing 72 million USD, up 44 percent.

Phones and accessories were Vietnam’s key export earner from the UAE, bringing home 551 million USD, up about 108 percent from a year earlier and accounting for two thirds of the total exports to the Middle Eastern country.

A number of agricultural products also witnessed high growth. Specifically, exports of cashew nuts increased six-fold year-on-year to 10.3 million USD, while shipments of fishery products, fruit and vegetables, and pepper grew 18 percent, 12 percent, and 17 percent, respectively.

Meanwhile, due to impacts of COVID-19, shipments of footwear and textile-garment declined 23 percent and 11 percent, respectively, to 14 million USD and 11 million USD.

Among imported goods from the UAE, plastic materials valued the highest, 41.8 million USD, up 66 percent year-on-year. Vietnam also spent 8.7 million USD on importing cattle feed and materials, up 9 percent./.

Bac Giang develops IT infrastructure, digital economy

The northern province of Bac Giang has strengthened information technology (IT), digital infrastructure, and digital transformation to build e-government and a digital socio-economy, said Director of the provincial Information Communications Department Tran Minh Chieu.

Accordingly, it continues to effectively implement Politburo guidelines and policies on taking the initiative in joining the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The province has also issued smart urban development plans and programmes to successfully build electronic and digital government.

Focus has been given to building telecommunications and information, communications, and technology infrastructure to transmit, connect, deploy, and effectively operate e-government and smart urban areas while increasing the provision of online public services at level 3 and 4 in order to increase satisfaction among citizens and businesses.

Bac Giang has also paid attention to implementing digital government from the grassroots level, especially at the commune level, aiming for each household to have access to 4G and developing 5G infrastructure at industrial zones to support smart manufacturing in order to welcome new waves of investment.

The province will also focus on building new data platforms and technologies to deploy comprehensive smart urban area planning to improve the quality of life of local people, building an open database (Open Data), and connecting data at all levels and all organisations into a shared provincial database, ensuring network safety and security while maximizing the use of the Fourth Industrial Revolution to develop an integrated and modern digital economy, expand e-commerce, and improve management and administration efficiency in all areas of socio-economic life.

Bac Giang will spend at least one percent of its provincial budget annually on IT and invest in building a digital technology platform and mobilise resources to prioritise e-government development, and promulgate mechanisms to attract high-quality human resources to participate in building and developing its e-government, towards creating a digital socio-economy and ensuring national defence and security in the locality.

In 2021, Bac Giang will promote the application of IT in the activities of government-owned agencies, and have all dossiers at the district level sent via electronic form unless otherwise prescribed by law.

The province will also strive to reach a target of 90 percent of all paperwork at the provincial level, 80 percent at the district level, and 60 percent at the commune level processed on the internet. Forty percent of people and enterprises in the province are to join in the e-government information system, and 80 percent of administrative procedures are to meet the requirements for deploying online public services at level 3 and 4. Satisfaction among local people and businesses with the settlement of administrative procedures is to reach 90 percent, while all public services are to be supported in answering questions from people and businesses.

Bac Giang previously paid attention to speeding up the application of IT and administrative reform, creating a foundation for building an e-government towards digital government in the province. Its data integration centre, WAN network, and data transmission network have gradually met requirements to operate shared applications of provincial e-government. The province has also developed a provincial data sharing and integration (LGSP) platform to facilitate digital transformation tasks.

It has formed a unified electronic document management system from the central to local level, allowing for automated recognition of paperwork processing among bodies, with all documents secured with information security and digital signatures.

The province has successfully installed traffic surveillance and security cameras, especially along key roads, while agricultural production models are applying high technology.

By the end of 2020, the province had 440 IT, electronics, and telecommunications enterprises. The revenue of these enterprises hit over 124.5 trillion VND in 2019 and they contributed over 830 billion VND to the State budget./.

Supporting industry firms anticipate high 2021 growth

Supporting industry enterprises are witnessing huge opportunities from Vietnam joining free trade agreements and more capital flowing into the country.

According to the Government’s master plan on the development of supporting industries to 2020 and vision to 2030, Vietnam will develop three key areas: spare parts, supporting industries for leather, footwear, and apparel, and high-tech industry.

Resolution No 115/NQ-CP on supporting industry development measures contains a goal that, by 2030, the local supporting industry will meet 70 percent of demand in domestic production and consumption and account for around 14 percent of industrial production value. Some 2,000 firms will be capable of directly supplying items to assembly enterprises and multinational groups in the country.

To meet the goal, the Government has set out seven measures to develop supporting industries, including fine-tuning mechanisms and policies, ensuring and effectively pooling resources for supporting industries, financial and credit solutions, developing domestic value chains and markets, improving the capacity of supporting industry enterprises, and building statistics and data.

As Vietnam has joined the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and other free trade agreements, demand for production and trade as well as links between domestic and foreign firms are substantial.

Chairman of the Hanoi Supporting Industries Business Association Nguyen Hoang said that, over recent years, many supporting industry enterprises have supplied items to major multinational groups and foreign businesses in Vietnam such as Canon, Samsung, Toyota, and Honda, and also exported to partners worldwide.

General Director of the Hikari Vietnam Production and Trading Company Ltd, Nguyen Duc Cuong, said most firms have faced difficulties, both directly and indirectly, due to COVID-19. These may continue this year but positive signs remain as Vietnam’s economy is growing, thus making it easier for the country to attract foreign investment and offer opportunities to domestic companies.

If domestic supporting industry enterprises can seize the opportunities, they could quickly join global supply chains, he said.

Meanwhile, a representative from the Century Synthetic Fiber Corporation said orders from manufacturers in the Republic of Korea, Thailand, Japan, Taiwan (China), and the US, as well as foreign companies in Vietnam, have increased since last year thanks to disrupted supply chains in China caused by COVID-19.

Cuong believes that only enterprises with long-term business plans, good governance, and strong links will prosper./.

Tuyên Quang focuses on forestry economic development

The northern mountainous province of Tuyên Quang has gained achievements in forestry economic development thanks to introducing proper policies and mechanism.

Tuyên Quang has used many solutions, striving to become a model locality for the development of the forestry economy.

After many years of planting fruit trees such as dragon fruit, lemon and oranges without much success, the province instructed local farmers to change to other plants.

In 2010, Vương Từ Phìn’s family in Tân Tiến Commune of Yên Sơn District converted their entire farm from fruit trees to acacia trees, which brought his family a stable income of VNĐ50-60 million (US$2,100-2,600) per ha per growing cycle of seven years.

The stable income from the forest plantation has helped Phìn's family escape poverty.

“In the past, many households in the village mainly planted fruit trees, vegetables and short-term crops, but they were ineffective,” said Phìn.

“Since shifting to the planting of acacia, we have earned more,” he said.

“After seven years, each hectare of the forest could bring VNĐ100 million (US$4,300), of which we could earn a profit of VNĐ50-60 million per ha,” he said.

Thanks to afforestation, local people have developed economically.

Because the topography is divided by hills, mountains, and small and fragmented fields, for years, Tân Tiến Commune has focused on forestry trees.

As of late last year, the commune had more than 4,000ha of forest, reaching a forest coverage rate of 75 per cent.

Thanks to afforestation, many families in the commune have escaped poverty, contributing to helping the commune fulfil the criteria for building a new countryside.

According to Lý Minh Hiếu, the commune chairman, in recent years, the main income in the commune came from afforestation.

“People's lives had been improved and per capita income reached nearly VNĐ42 million (US$1,800) per year,” Hiếu said.

“Basically, people in Tân Tiến Commune eradicated hunger and reduced poverty through afforestation,” the chairman said.

The development of the forestry economy is seen as a breakthrough for Tuyên Quang to become a developed province.

Therefore, provincial authorities have issued many policies and mechanisms to create favourable conditions for people and businesses to invest in afforestation such as supporting high-quality seedlings for people, providing afforestation techniques and promoting co-operation between enterprises and afforestation farmers to expand raw material areas and develop wood processing.

Currently, the province has eight wood, paper and pulp processing factories kike An Hoà Pulp and Paper Factory with a capacity of 1.3 million cu.m per year and Woodland Tuyên Quang Wood Processing Factory with a capacity of 680,000 cu.m annually.

Tuyên Quang’s wood products have been exported to countries such as India, the US, Singapore, China and European nations.

Nguyễn Văn Anh, general director of An Hoà Paper Company, said that to create a sustainable material supply chain for the factory, the company annually provided more than 2 million seedlings for free to local people and also explained planting techniques.

The company would continue to look for new varieties and provide free support to people and commit to ensuring timber purchasing for the people, Anh said.

In five years of implementing the Programme on Sustainable Forestry Development of 2016-2020, Tuyên Quang planted more than 55,400 hectares of forest and created ​​132,000 hectares of forest for paper materials and nearly 69,900 hectares of forest for timbers.

More than 35,800ha of forest were granted sustainable forest management certificates.

Logging output reached 4.2 million cu.m equivalent to 844,000 cu.m year, which ranked first in northern mountainous provinces in terms of the output of wood of the planted forest.

The forestry production value was raised to VNĐ1.3 trillion ($56.4 million) in 2019 from VNĐ911 billion ($39.5 million) in 2015.

The province's plantation wood processing capacity, planted forest area certified for sustainable forest management and forest coverage rate are among the best in the country.

To improve economic efficiency from planted forests, the province has been encouraging investment in forestry production.

According to Triệu Đăng Khoa, deputy head of the provincial forest ranger department, the province has started the implementation of a sustainable forestry economic development programme.

Under the programme, the province will plant 10,000ha of forest every year, exploit 9,000cu.m of timbers, effectively implement management and protection of more than 422,000 hectares of the existing forests, and provide enough raw materials for large processors to produce and export aiming at increasing incomes for forest growers and foreign currency revenue for the province, said Khoa. 

Agro-fishery exports to China face challenges due to COVID-19

Vietnamese agricultural and fishery exports to China have encountered numerous difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic due to the customs clearance capacity of goods at border gates yet to be operating at full capacity, according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT).

The MoIT stated that these challenges can largely be attributed to a decline in demand from the Chinese market following several economic fluctuations and the impact of the pandemic.

Furthermore, China has also intensified the enforcement of laws and border trade policies imposed on agricultural and fisheries imports at border areas through a range of measures, including origin traceability, packaging specifications, food hygiene, and safety.

Moreover, a number of traders have transported their farm produce on mass to the border despite being yet to sign official contracts with Chinese partners, leading to heavy congestion at border gates.

Last year witnessed export and import turnover passing through Lao Cai border gate reach US$3.2 billion, representing a decline of 15.2% compared to 2019 due to the impact of COVID-19 epidemic.

Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Quoc Khanh stated the MoIT will enter discussions with the Chinese side in an effort to speed up the completion of legal procedures in order to open the market for Vietnamese farm produce and aquatic products.

Simultaneously, the MoIT will mobilise the Chinese side to consider opening additional border gates and railway transport routes to facilitate greater imports in the time ahead and better meet the needs of each side.

Most notably, the country will closely co-operate with the northern neighbour to disseminate information on how to take advantage of the ASEAN-China Free Trade Agreement and how to make use of e-commerce to promote exports and focus on medium and long-term trade promotion schemes whilst strengthening trade exchange via online platforms.

Source: VNA/VNS/VOV/VIR/SGT/Nhan Dan/Hanoitimes

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