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New generation FTAs represent important milestone in international integration



Vietnam has been active in negotiating and signing five free trade agreements (FTAs) with major partners, highlighting the country’s international economic integration process as a bright and impressive part of the Government’s management during the 2016 to 2020 period.

According to economic expert Dr. Vo Tri Thanh, former deputy director of Central Institute for Economic Management (CIEM), the nation is increasingly gaining more advantages from greater international economic integration.

Through the effective negotiation, signing, and implementation of FTAs, the country has been able to significantly improve its export market access, thereby creating more jobs, and promoting a higher level of sustainable economic growth.

“The past years saw local businesses form production networks, value chains, and access the largest markets, the best investors, and businesses thanks to FTAs. Therefore, this is a good condition for Vietnam to take full advantage from the opportunities brought by the trade deals," Dr. Thanh says.

Having had a trade deficit for several decades, the implementation of 14 FTAs has yielded a range of outstanding results in trade, import, and export activities, causing the nation to balance its trade balance and enjoy a continuous trade surplus over the five-year period.

Most notably, the country hit a total import-export turnover of US$500 billion in 2019 and set a record high of more than US$19 billion in trade surplus, recording a total import and export turnover exceeding US$540 billion.

Economic and financial expert Nguyen Tri Hieu acknowledges that this marks an important milestone in terms of the nation’s integration path.

“Import-export activities has contributed a large proportion to the national economy. The fact that Vietnam has achieved a total import-export turnover of over US$500 billion is good news, because this figure had exceeded all of our achievements in imports and exports over the past years. This is a good signal, showing that Vietnam is increasingly integrated into the world economy,” he states.

Generally, throughout the 2016 to 2020 period, annual import-export growth has consistently stood at 8% between 10%. With a large open economy, coupled with import-export value making up to 200% of GDP and processing and manufacturing products alone accounting for over 80% of Vietnamese import-export turnover, export and import growth represents the huge potential and internal strength of the local economy.

Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh, who is also a member of the Politburo and head of the Party Central Committee's Economic Commission, affirms that the signing and effective implementation of new generation FTAs, has seen the country clearly show its role, image, prestige, and position of a "new Vietnam" among the international arena.

According to Minister Anh, the figures regarding the growth of import-export and export surplus in the whole of the 2016 to 2020 period serve to ensure Vietnamese sustainable development goals, making it rank 22nd in the world in terms of export turnover and 26th in relating to current international trade.

As a means of achieving the economic development targets set for the 2021 to 2025 period, the Government is aiming to promote rapid and sustainable economic growth on the basis of ensuring macroeconomic stability. This will also include developing science and technology, improving innovation and integration capacity, whilst effectively implementing international commitments and FTAs.

This should be done alongside promoting economic diplomacy for socio-economic development, putting citizens and businesses at the centre of police, while also maximising the position of the country and external resources as a means of serving national development.

Bamboo Airways seeks refinancing loan with interest rate of 0%

In a document sent to the Ministry of Transport, the private airline Bamboo Airways proposed a preferential loan and some tax cuts to overcome the COVID-19 crisis.

The air carrier asked the ministry to consider and propose to the Government and the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV), the country’s central bank, to issue a resolution to allow commercial banks to provide a long-term refinancing loan of VND5 trillion (US$216 million) with a 0 per cent interest rate, which is similar to the VND4 trillion loan package applied to Vietnam Airlines.

Bamboo Airways also proposed a rise in the environmental tax reduction on aviation fuel to 50 per cent from 30 per cent, as well as cut (possibly 100%) in some fees and other service prices like airport services and flight operation services until the end of this year.

The airline also asked for the extension of some supportive policies for employees, and to add policies for employers.

According to Bamboo Airways, the tax and fee reduction policies for airlines in 2020 have helped the air carrier cut costs by about VND120 billion, which account for 1.4 per cent of the total cost. Of which, VND70 billion was from the flight fuel tax reduction, VND27 billion was from the 50 per cent discount policy for takeoff/landing services and VND23 billion from the flight control discount.

Earlier, Bamboo Airways revealed that in 2020, the airline reported a profit of more than VND400 billion, up 34 per cent over 2019, despite the impact of the COVD-19 pandemic.

This is the first time a private airline has asked for a large refinancing loan with an interest rate of 0 per cent. SBV provided refinancing loans for Vietnam Airlines to maintain its operations and overcome the pandemic. 

Canadian firms express interest in Vietnam’s smart city development

A business delegation organised by the World Trade Centre Toronto, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam, and their partners, is virtually exploring smart city development trends in Vietnam from March 22 to 26.

Experts said this is an opportunity for Canadian firms operating in the sector to form relations with Vietnamese partners, focusing on solutions to optimise traffic divergence, reduce energy consumption, and promote automation in waste management.

In an interview with the Vietnam News Agency in Ottawa, Elizabeth McIninch, Director of the Canada-Vietnam Trade Council, expressed a belief that Vietnam and Canada will become excellent partners in smart city building now and in the future.

She noted that apart from their 47 years of diplomatic relations, bilateral cooperation projects in science-technology, trade-investment, agriculture, and infrastructure, and Vietnam’s position as Canada’s largest trade partner in ASEAN, the two countries should also pay attention to the new global context, as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) is easing trade barriers.

Both Vietnam and Canada are now accelerating investments in smart city technologies and projects, with building e-government to develop sustainable cities becoming the cornerstone of government planning and industrial activities. Vietnam is currently rated by Canadian analysts as one of the most powerful markets in the world for smart city building.

McIninch unveiled that the council has planned to work with the Organisation of Women in International Trade - Toronto (OWIT-Toronto) and the Vietnam Women Entrepreneurs Council (VWEC) to organise an online fact-finding tour of the Vietnamese market for a business delegation in autumn./.

Vietnamese, Russian firms cooperate for tourism recovery

A memorandum of understanding on cooperation between Vietnamese and Russian enterprises were sealed in Moscow on March 24 in a bid to offer mutual support in terms of information and technology solutions for better tourist flows amid COVID-19.

The signatories were T&T Russia Company Ltd – a subsidiary of Vietnam's leading conglomerate T&T Group – and CV-PASS under the Russia-based VR-Logistic group. CV-PASS is a global initiative to restart the travel industry and set high-quality international safety standards for travel while ensuring their compliance with COVID-19 disease prevention measures.

At the signing ceremony, the sides discussed current pandemic affairs in their nations and their targets and potential for collaboration in tourism.

Andrey Kolmogorov, general director of CV-PASS, said Vietnamese and Russian firms need to quickly adapt to the new normal, increase the exchange of information and experience, and apply new technology solutions, including rapid antibody testing tools and related software for verification of COVID-19 immunity at airports, thereby facilitating flows of safe travellers.

Evghniy Petrishev, CEO of VR-Logistic, affirmed engagements with Vietnam particularly in tourism, trade, and import-export are a key orientation of the group in hope of propelling the Vietnam – Russia trade value.

Head of T&T Russia Nguyen Huy Hung Viet said the company wants to foster collaboration with Russian partners so that more Vietnamese can visit Russia.

T&T Russia was put into operation in May 2019, following the T&T Group received its licence to invest 25 million USD in the Russian market./.

Vietnam needs framework for e-commerce on social media

Vietnam needs to develop a proper legal framework to manage e-commerce on social networks in the context that e-commerce was booming in the country, according to the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI).

Dau Anh Tuan, head of the VCCI’s Legal Department, said at the VCCI’s conference about e-commerce on social media on March 23 that the practice of using social media to market an e-commerce business was increasing in recent years.

However, the legal framework for e-commerce and social networks were mainly built in 2013, which proved to be outdated while e-commerce was developing very rapidly.

It was necessary to review and adjust the legal framework to better manage the development of e-commerce, Tuan said.

The VCCI’s report pointed out that the existing legal framework on e-commerce was applied for both social networks and e-commerce platforms, pointing out that the basic differences between these two forms had not been taken into account.

The VCCI recommended that e-commerce activities on social networks should be classified in accordance with their operation for better management.

Accordingly, normal social networks should be regulated by the Government’s Decree 72/2013/ND-CP about the management, provision and use of internet services and information.

Social networks which supported e-commerce business but did not allow ordering online should be managed through regulations on e-commerce at a simple level. Only social networks which allow ordering online should be managed like e-commerce platforms.

Nguyen Minh Duc from the VCCI’s Legal Department, said that social networks currently did not have functions for ordering online, thus, buyers and sellers must make contact directly to arrange orders.

He said that several social networks played a role as intermediaries, adding that social networks still had a mix of different contents, commercial and non-commercial.

Another matter of concern was the monitoring of content published on social networks, as the current regulations remained too general. In addition, social networks were facing difficulties in complying with regulations about developing automatic content monitoring tools.

The VCCI said that it was important to develop clear regulations about content that must be censored or removed.

It was also necessary to verify the information of users on social networks with e-commerce business.

The verification of users’ information could depend on how much the social networks engaged in e-commerce. The information could include phone numbers, emails and bank accounts.

A transparent mechanism to manage taxes of individuals and organisations operating in e-commerce on social networks was also needed, especially cross-border e-commerce.

According to Vu Tu Thanh, Deputy Regional Managing Director and Vietnam Representative for the US-ASEAN Business Council, it was necessary to develop detailed and transparent regulations about the responsibilities and rights of relevant parties in e-commerce business.

To promote the development of e-commerce, the costs and risks must be reduced, Thanh said, stressing that this would be the way to encourage participation in e-commerce platforms which would contribute to economic growth in the future./.

CPTPP benefits Vietnam-Canada trade ties: experts

Vietnam and Canada have enjoyed robust trade ties thanks to opportunities brought by the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) that took effect in Vietnam from January 14, 2019, heard a conference held in Hanoi on March 23.

Bilateral trade in goods totaled 8.9 billion USD in 2020, up 12 percent year-on-year and 37 percent from two years ago despite critical impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Vietnam’s shipments to the American country rose nearly 16 percent in 2020, with a considerable increase seen in exports of mobile phones, footwear, furniture and garment.

Vietnam and Canada will reap further benefits when more countries participate in the trade pact.

According to Canadian Ambassador to Vietnam Deborah Paul, CPTPP has improved the accessibility for trade and service activities between the two nations consolidated a common set of rules, reduced costs for trade activities, and helped better competitive edge of Vietnamese and Canadian products in both markets.

Vietnam has been the biggest trade partner of Canada in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) since 2015. Meanwhile, the nation is the second biggest importer of Canadian agricultural products and seafood such as cereal products, nuts, fish, crustaceans, fruits, beef, pork and dairy products.

CPTPP establishes duty-free access for trade in goods between the two countries, while helping Vietnamese consumers purchase high-quality products from Canada at reasonable prices.

President of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) Vu Tien Loc described Vietnam-Canada trade ties as one of the most successful models brought by CPTPP thanks to sustained efforts made by businesses of both countries in setting up market development rules.

The two nations have seen remarkable achievements in their import-export activities, and the trade pact plays an important role, Loc said.

Canada has abolished 94 percent of tax lines for Vietnamese exports, while the Southeast Asian country has removed nearly 66 percent of tax lines for imports from Canada. Additionally, non-tariff barriers have been improved in a transparent manner, facilitating trade flows between the two nations.

Without the COVID-19 pandemic, CPTPP could bring larger benefits to Vietnam-Canada trade, Loc stressed.

“Maybe we have to live with COVID-19 in the near future, at least. We are lucky to have CPTPP, which allows us to bolster trade with the world in this tough time”, he said./.

Cai Mep-Thi Vai port receives giant container vessel

Deep-sea port SP-SSA International Terminal in Cai Mep-Thi Vai port complex, southern Ba Ria-Vung Tau province, said it recently received a 15,000-TEU container vessel, its biggest ever.

The ship, MSC Auriga, belonging to MSC shipping line offers direct container services to the US.

SP-SSA International Terminal is a joint venture established in 2006 by SSA Marine of Seattle in the US and two Vietnamese companies, Vinalines and Saigon Port.

Located in the downstream area of the Cai Mep River, it was built to handle large container vessels and is equipped with modern container handling equipment, including the largest STS cranes in Vietnam, a land area of 60 hectares and 600 metres of berth length.

It also has 445 metres of specialised berth for handling barges from inland container depots and ports in Ho Chi Minh City, Dong Nai and Binh Duong.

The Cai Mep – Thi Vai port complex is a group of deep-water seaports with a combined length of over 20km, which account for over 30 percent of the country’s exports by containers, which are expected to be a trade gateway in the south.

Gemalink is the biggest seaport in the Cai Mep-Thi Vai complex and one of the 19 big seaports in the world which is capable of receiving the world’s biggest cruise liners. Built at a total investment of 520 million USD in two phases, the port is equipped with ship-to-shore cranes designed and manufactured in Vietnam. When the first phase of the port is inaugurated in May, it will run at least 80 percent of its designed capacity this year and at full capacity from next year./.

OCOP assessment, recognition must be taken thoroughly: Deputy PM

Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung has emphasized the need to absolutely avoid complaisance in assessing and recognising one commune one product (OCOP) products during the implementation of the national target programme on new-style rural area building.

Addressing a national conference reviewing the OCOP programme in the 2018-2020 period in Hanoi on March 22, Dung said that in the time ahead, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) will coordinate with other ministries and sectors in completing the Government’s dossiers to submit to the National Assembly for approving investment in the programme for 2021-2025.

A report from the ministry said that the OCOP programme has to date had 4,469 products with three-star and above ratings in 59 provinces and cities, 1.86 times higher than the target set for 2018-2020. Localities nationwide have so far organised 66 OCOP fairs.

MARD Minister Nguyen Xuan Cuong said that the figure of nearly 4,500 products demonstrated the success of the first phase of the programme.

However, the report pointed to several shortcomings during the implementation of the first phase. Accordingly, several localities got troubled in defining their advantages and potential, and many only focused on completing existing products and did not pay attention to developing new products.

Ministries, sectors and localities are required to strengthen management over the implementation of the programme, guide the classification of products in localities, and supplement and complete a set of criteria assessing and rating OCOP products.

For proposals and recommendations of ministries, sectors and localities, Deputy PM Dung asked the MARD to consider thoroughly and continue working with them to build the OCOP programme for 2021-2025./.

Vietnamese companies show mixed sentiment on rising commodities prices

The surge of commodities prices since the beginning of the year has had different effects on Vietnamese companies.

According to Viet Nam Food Association (VFA), Viet Nam's 5 per cent broken rice was quoted at US$518 - 522 per ton in early March, continuing its rally.

In the first two months of 2021, the average rice export price was US$551.7 per ton, up 3.4 per cent compared to December 2020 and up 15.4 per cent over January 2020.

Trung An Hi - Tech Farming Joint Stock Company (TAR) told that the company exported rice with higher prices in early 2021. Of which, 450 tonnes of Jasmine 85 rice were sold at US$680 per ton to Singapore, while 1,150 tonnes of fragrant Jasmine rice were exported to Malaysian customers at US$750 per ton.

After posting a gain of 47.7 per cent in revenue and 46.5 per cent in profit after tax in 2020, TAR is expected to maintain its growth in 2021 on predicted higher rice prices.

Thanh Thanh Cong - Bien Hoa JSC (SBT) and Son La Sugar JSC (SLS) announced gains in revenue and profit in the first half of financial year of 2020 - 2021 as international sugar prices recovered, pushing up the domestic sugar price.

Raw-sugar for May delivery, which is traded on Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), was traded at 15.77 US cents/lb on Monday, up 38.3 per cent over the same period last year. The bullish trend of sugar prices has started since early May 2020. The price even broke over 18 US cents/lb at the end of February.

The application of an anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duty on raw-sugar from Thailand in early February also supports companies in the industry.

In the rubber market, companies that specialise in exporting natural latex like Phuoc Hoa Rubber JSC (PHR), Dong Phu Rubber JSC (DPR) and Tay Ninh Rubber JSC (TNR) are expected to benefit from the rise of rubber prices.

Rubber futures which are traded on Tokyo Commodity Exchange (TOCOM) have climbed since the beginning of 2021.

In Monday's trade, rubber price was 263 yen/kg, up 14.84 per cent compared to the start of the year and up nearly 94.6 per cent over the same period of last year. It even crossed 330 yen/kg at the end of January.

Data from to General Department of Viet Nam Customs showed that in January, the country's average rubber export was US$1,611 /ton, up 1 per cent against that of December 2020.

Meanwhile, rubber tyre manufacturers like Da Nang Rubber JSC (DRC), The Southern Rubber Industry JSC (CSM) and Sao Vang Rubber JSC (SRC) are worried that higher rubber prices will cause higher raw materials costs, leading to a drop in profit margin.

Natural rubber, synthetic rubber (made from oils) and coal are the main materials in producing tyres and account for 60 per cent of raw materials cost, of which natural rubber occupies up to 35 per cent.

Crude oil is another commodity recording outstanding performance this year.

Brent crude, which is traded on ICE, was $64.31 a barrel on Monday, up 25.8 per cent in 2021 and up 135.57 per cent against the same period last year. The gain started since early November 2020. The benchmark even reached $70 a barrel in early March after Saudi Arabia's oil production facilities were attacked.

Higher oil prices lead to higher gas and distillate product prices.

In the local market, after the price adjustment from the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Industry and Trade on March 12, retail prices of some fuels hit a one-year high.

Carriers like Vietnam Airlines JSC (HVN) or Vietjet Aviation JSC (VJC) will suffer more as fuel cost accounts for 30 - 40 per cent of their operating expenses, while the number of flights fell due to the outbreak of COVID-19.

The rise of fuel prices will also have a negative impact on thermal power and fertiliser industries as fuels are one of the main materials.

Vietnam’s rice price for export rises in Jan-Feb

Vietnam saw the rice export price in the first two months of 2021 expand 18.2% year-on-year and reach an average US$547.9 per ton.

Between January and February, the country exported some 656,050 tons of rice worth some US$359.5 million, down 29% and 16.5%, respectively, year-on-year, according to data of the General Department of Customs and the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

In February, Vietnam shipped 308,047 tons of rice valued at US$167.7 million to foreign markets at an average price of US$543.7 per ton, down 11.3% in volume, 12.6% in value and 1.5% in price, month-on-month. The country saw the volume and value plunge by 42% and 29% year-on-year, but the February rice export price soared by 21.7%.

Vietnam’s rice exports in February to the Philippines and Malaysia dipped by 49% and 63%, respectively, month-on-month, while China and the Ivory Coast raised their purchase of Vietnamese rice in February by over 75% against January.

Despite the plunge in Vietnam’s rice exports to the Philippines in February, the latter remained the former’s largest rice buyer in the first two months of the year, importing over 255,870 tons of Vietnamese rice, accounting for 39% of Vietnam’s total rice exports.

China came second with some 159,200 tons of rice imported from Vietnam, skyrocketing 140.4% year-on-year, followed by Ghana, Thanh Nien Online reported.

The data also indicated that Vietnam’s rice exports to the Ivory Coast between January and February soared by 28% in volume at 31,390 tons, 63.7% in value at US$16.7 million and 27.8% in price at US$531.7 per ton, year-on-year.

MoIT: Vietnam still needs more thermal power plants

Rebutting a proposal by cities and provinces, the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) maintains that Vietnam still needs to develop thermal power plants to ensure energy security and keep energy prices stable. 

The response of the MoIT came to cities and provinces’ proposal to stop building thermal power plants, especially in the next 10 years, to prioritise the development of renewable energy.

The thermal power projects, which were approved for implementation in 2021-2035, will be developed according to plan as the investment promotion activities of these projects are going along smoothly. These projects are Nam Dinh I, Thai Binh II, Vung Ang III, Van Phong I, and Duyen Hai II, among others. After 2035, it will still be necessary to develop small-scale thermal power projects to ensure energy security and stabilise energy prices.

Besides, thermal power plants will help to meet energy demand at a reasonable expenditure.

The MoIT added that only modern technologies will be installed at these thermal power plants, meeting energy efficiency and environmental protection criteria.

While solar and wind power capacity is skyrocketing and is forecast to account for 53 per cent of the energy mix by 2045, there are great concerns about instability and dependence on weather. Furthermore, the country has recently been seeing problems arising from the massive development of renewable energy, including fluctuating selling prices and grid shortcomings.

Thus, the MoIT said it is necessary to curb the massive development of renewable energy. However, the MoIT also noted that the total capacity of renewable energy mentioned in the draft National Electricity Development Plan VIII still suits the energy target noted in Resolution No.55-NQ/TW of February 2020 on the orientation of Vietnam's National Energy Development Strategy to 2030 with vision to 2045

Airlines forecast to lose over 15 trillion VND in 2021

Vietnamese airlines are projected to post a total loss of 15 trillion VND (650 million USD) in 2021, with their revenue continuing to plunge compared to that of last year, according to the Vietnam Aviation Business Association (VABA).

The aviation sector has so far borne the brunt of three waves of COVID-19 outbreaks, which has frozen international travel. In the first two months of this year, their international passenger throughput amounted to 66,600, down 98.8 percent on-year.

These figures were mentioned in the VABA’s proposal for credit assistance to aviation companies, which was recently submitted to the Ministry of Planning and Investment.

Earlier, Vietnam Airlines obtained a credit package worth 4 trillion VND. As a result, in the proposal, Vietjet Air has asked for a credit package of between 4-5 trillion VND for 2021 – 2023, with interest rate reduced by 4 percent. Meanwhile, Bamboo Airways has called for a refinanced zero-percent-interest-rate long-term loan of 5 trillion VND and long-term loans worth 5 trillion VND from commercial banks with subsidized interest rates.

The VABA also proposed reducing the environmental tax on fuels to 900 – 1,000 VND per litre and extending deadlines for paying taxes, including corporate income tax, value-added tax, and personal income tax./.

Economic-defence zones aim to consolidate security in strategic areas

Vietnam will develop economic-defence zones to consolidate the defence-security situation in strategic localities, particularly border, sea and island areas, helping to shape up a strong belt to protect the nation.

Under Decree No.22/2021/ND-CP on the building of economic-defence zones recently issued by the Prime Minister, residential areas in the border, sea and island regions that play a critical role in the nation’s defence and security will be rearranged with a view to improving living conditions of local residents.

The building of the economic-defence zones must serve as a solid foundation for local people and other forces to participate in socio-economic development in the border, sea and island areas.

The Decree stipulates that essential infrastructure should be developed in these areas so as to realise the sustainable poverty reduction goals, while stabilising the nation’s defence-security.

Additionally, the zones must be a bridge between the mainland and islands and archipelagos and able to provide services and support for fishermen, helping them feel secure to go offshore fishing. This is significant to affirm the nation’s sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction at sea.

The Decree also stresses the communication work to raise public awareness of the Party’s and State’s policies, and call on local people to fight against wrongful and distorted arguments and expedients by hostile forces. At the same time, it is necessary to make television, cultural and healthcare services available in theses areas, provide training for local officials, and preserve traditional culture of ethnic minorities in the localities.

Furthermore, the Decree emphasises that the development of the economic-defence zones aims to cooperate with local forces to build the all-people defence posture in combination with the people-based security posture, while joining search and rescue efforts, and recovery of natural disasters and diseases./.

Long An targets at least 60,000 tonnes of aquaculture production

Long An province looks to raise aquaculture production to at least 60,000 tonnes in 2021

The Mekong Delta province of Long An targets at least 60,000 tonnes of aquaculture production this year, about 2,000 tonnes higher than in 2020.

Of the total, the output of brackish water shrimp is to reach over 15,000 tonnes, while freshwater shrimp is to exceed 45,000 tonnes, up 1,500 tonnes and 500 tonnes, respectively, compared to 2020.

The provincial agricultural sector is focusing on guiding farmers on crops and conducting environmental monitoring to give them timely alerts. The sector is also strengthening the quarantine of fishery varieties, and supervising the development of diseases in different aquatic farming areas.

The province will continue applying technologies in aquatic farming while focusing on upgrading infrastructure for farming activities.

Long An has concentrated on developing brackish water shrimp production regions in Can Duoc, Can Giuoc, Tan Tru, and Chau Thanh districts, on a total area of about 6,800 ha, while piloting the high-tech farming model in a number of areas.

It targets at least 1.3 trillion VND in shrimp farming production value by 2025.

The province will also develop freshwater aquatic products in the Dong Thap Muoi region, such as Tan Hung, Vinh Hung, and Tan Thanh districts.

According to the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, the province’s aquaculture has seen strong growth in recent years, with expanded farming areas and models boasting high efficiency, such as brackish water shrimp farming and tra fish farming.

The province had nearly 5,500 ha of brackish water shrimp area last year, with an output of 2.7 tonnes per ha and total production of over 13,600 tonnes. At the same time, its total freshwater aquatic production was nearly 44,500 tonnes./.

Banks expected to earn trillions of Vietnam dong from bancassurance deals

A series of exclusive bancassurance agreements between banks and insurers are expected to help banks earn high profits in the coming months.

Maritime Commercial Joint Stock Bank (MSB) has expanded its partnership with life insurer Prudential Vietnam through an exclusive 15-year bancassurance agreement. The insurer will have to pay an upfront fee of an estimated US$80-90 million to the bank, according to brokerage firm SSI.

Meanwhile, Vietcombank Securities Company (VCBS) said that the upfront fee could total an estimated VND3.5 trillion.

Many other banks will also profit from exclusive contracts with insurers in the coming months.

For example, this year, Vietinbank will get an upfront fee of 1%, equivalent to VND1.6 trillion, from exclusive contracts signed with Manulife in 2020. The bank earned an upfront fee of an estimated VND8 trillion thanks to its cooperation with Manulife last year, according to VCBS.

In late 2020, Asia Commercial Bank (ACB) cooperated with Canada’s Sun Life with a 15-year deal worth an estimated US$370 million, or VND8.5 trillion. SSI said in its recent report that Sun Life would pay an upfront fee of some VND567 billion for ACB each year within 15 years.

In April last year, an exclusive 15-year bancassurance agreement between Vietcombank and FWD Vietnam Life Insurance Company was announced.

An exclusive partnership with insurers is an important strategy of many banks. Signing exclusive bancassurance agreements has been one of the factors that has helped banks attract more investors over the past few years, according to BIDV Securities Company (BSC).

Earnings from bancassurance deals have accounted for a large proportion, while low deposit rates have also contributed to the increasing income from insurance fees, according to SSI.

This year, HCMC Development Joint Stock Commercial Bank is set to sign an exclusive bancassurance agreement, according to BSC’s predictions.

The bank reported a revenue increase in the fourth quarter last year, mainly from the distribution of Dai-ichi’s insurance products. The bank also targeted revenue from insurance business operations at VND1.2 trillion in 2021.

A report made by Fiingroup showed that in 2020, the total revenue of banks increased by 12.8% on average, while after-tax profits grew by 16.1%. Exclusive partnerships with insurers contributed to the increase.

However, Fiingroup said that the factor behind the growth would not be sustainable and could pose high risks in 2021.

At the end of last year, the central bank asked banks to strictly comply with regulations on the insurance business and not to force borrowers to buy insurance packages.

Real estate prices in Hanoi suburbs trending upwards

After a long time in the doldrums due to the global pandemic, land and property development in the outskirts of Hanoi is once again blossoming, with prices skyrocketing. 

Thu Huong recently returned to work as a freelance broker when she realised the rising attraction of land and property in the outskirts of Hanoi.

She explained that her former company used to sell apartments, land plots, and adjacent villas in Hadong and Hoang Mai districts. These areas are far from the city centre and were offered at a more reasonable price range, targeting mostly homebuyers looking for a place to live. However, a few months ago, these and neighbouring suburban districts like Hoai Duc and Dong Anh suddenly heated up.

“A few years ago, vacant lots next to the abandoned villas of the Geleximco project on Le Trong Tan street in Hadong district were hard-pressed to get customers’ attention but have doubled or even tripled in price since then. Most shophouses are priced at around VND120-130 million ($5,200-5,650) per square metre, while apartments fetch VND25-27 million ($1,000-1,200) per sq.m,” said Huong.

Meanwhile, brokers offer residential land in the area at VND60-70 million ($2,600-3,000) per sq.m depending on proximity to the main road. In peri-urban villages such as Tay Mo (South Tu Liem district), Vinh Ngoc (Dong Anh district), and La Duong, La Phu (Hadong), prices range from VND25-50 million ($1,000-2,200) per sq.m. Some areas such as Kim Chung-Di Trach (Hoai Duc district) now come at up to $2,200 per sq.m and continue to fluctuate by day, while one square metre of residential land in An Khanh, An Thuong, and Van Canh (Hoai Duc) can fetch over $3,500.

“Estate transactions are bustling, and many older projects that could not be filled for 10 years are now almost completely sold out,” said Huong.

Explaining this increase, Nguyen Thi Hong Van, associate director of Valuation Services, Savills Hanoi, said inner-city land funds are growing gradually limited and complicated investment procedures have reduced investors’ interest. Meanwhile, infrastructure at peri-urban areas is rapidly improving, making these areas more appealing to investors. However, she warned prices are moving at a wide spectrum in these areas so buyers should make thorough comparisons and estimate the correct value of the property before entering into a transaction.

Indeed, investors and property buyers’ have been turning to peri-urban areas with a lot more gusto since Hanoi announced the master plan of Hoa Lac Urban Area last July. This has had a buoyant effect on property prices in villages and communes around the capital. Additionally, prices in Dong Anh, Gia Lam, Thanh Tri, and Dan Phuong districts (all just outside Hanoi) started to increase after the investment project was approved to build these four districts into urban hubs from 2025. In areas in Dong Anh district where Lien Ha, Duc Tu, and Thuy Lam industrial clusters will be established, prices have also received heavy upward momentum.

Recently, as rumours took flight about the Red River urban zoning plan being approved and issued by Hanoi in June, land prices in neighbouring areas began shooting up.

Last week, prices at the riverside areas of Xuan Canh commune, Dong Anh district fluctuated around VND17-18 million ($740-780) per sq.m. Since then, however, they have risen to VND28-30 million ($1,200-1,300). Nguyen Van Minh, a real estate broker in the area, shared that he had just dealt with a customer of a nearly 200sq.m of land with the price of VND28 million per sq.m, only to be offered VND30-35 million ($1,300-1,500) by someone else.

At another land lot near the Red River dykes, adjacent to Vinhomes Co Loa, Minh said that offer prices have nearly doubled, reaching $2,200 per sq.m and by the time the project breaks ground, they could reach as much as $3,500.

Land prices in neighbouring areas such as around Thach Cau street in Long Bien district also increased by about $130-220 per sq.m compared to last year. Many plots along the Red River in the district’s Ngoc Thuy ward are offered at similar prices, two or three times as much as before. Linh Nam ward of Hoang Mai district has been quite active with prices along the main road at VND65 million ($2,800) per sq.m, while properties on smaller streets and alleys are offered for VND35 million ($1,500).

The buoyant effects have in fact been rubbing off in a radius of 50km of Hanoi, with the prices of residential land steadily increasing, especially in provinces that have many industrial zones with modern infrastructure such as Bac Ninh, Bac Giang, Hai Duong, Thai Nguyen, and Ha Nam.

HCM City reviews legal status of 57 delayed projects

HCM City is reviewing the legal status of 57 delayed projects, mostly in real estate, to speed up efforts to improve the business climate in the city.

Speaking at a meeting last week, Nguyen Thanh Phong, chairman of the city People’s Committee, said the city would address problems related to the legality of these projects and seek guidance from the central Government.

“The city will do whatever it takes to resolve any problems facing businesses in a timely manner, with the aim to build a friendly investment environment for investors."

Thirty-five of 92 delayed projects in the city have already been reviewed, and they have met most of the legal requirements. That leaves 57 projects for further review.

Le Hoa Binh, vice chairman of the People’s Committee, said: “The city has developed a draft plan to implement a resolution on improving the business environment" and will also focus on realising the “twin goal” of containing the virus while recovering economic growth.

After 32 working sessions over the past three years, the working group has reviewed 110 projects in the city many bottlenecks have been removed.

The working group led by Phong was established in 2017 to help investors navigate regulations and modify policies were needed as part of an effort to improve the investment climate.

The group deals with investment projects within the jurisdiction of the city, studies investment proposals, ensures that projects can begin, and comes up with solutions to problems.

The city has set a range of tasks this year to improve the business climate.

It will further administrative reform and issue policies to select potential investors in accordance with the Law on Investment, and issue regulations on bidding procedures with priority given to large urban development projects using smart urban technology.

It will publicise a land-use plan which will include a land-price framework close to the market price, and complete regulations on electronic transactions for land. The city will also continue its digital transformation plan and e-commerce expansion.

It also plans to speed up major projects such as waste treatment projects under the PPP (public-private-partnership) model, promote online bidding, and submit a public investment plan for the 2021 – 2025 period to the People’s Council for approval.

In addition, the city will shorten construction licensing time, and publicise its master urban plan and develop a master plan for the new Thu Duc City.

In the 2020-2035 period, it will strive to improve human resources, especially in the fields of IT, mechanics – automation, artificial intelligence, corporate governance, finance – banking, healthcare, and tourism and urban management.

The city will also propose solutions to improve access to credit and support people and enterprises affected by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Hanoi to organise five goods weeks to stimulate consumption

The Hanoi Department of Industry and Trade will organise five Vietnamese Goods Weeks in Hanoi this year to stimulate domestic demand and increase total retail sales, thereby helping businesses and farmers consume products.

Specifically, the five weeks will have a scale of about 100 standard booths each week and will be held in the districts of Ha Dong, Hai Ba Trung, Nam Tu Liem, Quoc Oai and Ba Vi. Businesses and co-operatives will exhibit their food products, textiles, footwear, consumer goods, OCOP products of Hanoi and other provinces and cities.

Notably, Hanoi will support 50 percent of booth costs for participating units with a maximum of two booths per unit; similar support will be provided to each locality. In which, the city will pay attention to support localities and businesses of Hanoi and other localities in consuming agricultural products, aquatic products, and fruit, which face difficulties in consumption due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the same time, it will also strengthen communication and promotion, create the best conditions for businesses to reach consumers and expand the market. The participating units should prepare the source of goods; deploy trade promotion programmes, promotions, advertisements; introduce and promote products to bring practical benefits to customers and visitors who participate in the events.

Products displayed and sold at the events are Vietnamese products guaranteed for quality, food safety and traceability in accordance with regulations.

In order for the programme to be effectively implemented, the Hanoi Department of Industry and Trade also requested the People's Committees of districts and towns to review all businesses and co-operatives to participate in the Vietnamese Goods Week of Hanoi 2021, especially agricultural products which are facing difficulties in consumption and OCOP products.

Acting director of the municipal Department of Industry and Trade Tran Thi Phuong Lan said that the programme would contribute to the effective implementation of the campaign "Vietnamese people give priority to using Vietnamese goods" and other programmes of the city such as the trade promotion and One Product One Commune (OCOP) programme.

Therefore, it would help consumers access and purchase Vietnamese goods with reasonable quality and price, thereby promoting the production and business activities of enterprises in the area, contributing to completing the GRDP growth target tasks in 2021 and the 2021-2025 period./.

Dong Nai works to drive economic development

Improving the business climate is part of the southern province of Dong Nai’s efforts to boost its economic growth during 2021-2025, Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Cao Tien Dung said at a recent conference.

The province will create favourable conditions for local businesses and people to carry out administrative procedures, particularly in the prioritised fields of agriculture, rural development, exports, investment attraction, and startups.

Focus will be sharpened on mobilising resources and securing effective investment in technical infrastructure, improving public services, and investing in key projects and high-quality human resources training.

In particular, the province sees transport infrastructure development as a means of creating a breakthrough in the local economy.

More than 35.1 trillion VND (1.52 billion USD) in public investment will be allocated in 2021, including nearly 22.86 trillion VND for Long Thanh International Airport.

In the next five years, the province will speed up planning work and procedures to expand and open additional industrial parks to lure more domestic and FDI projects.

According to the provincial People’s Committee, its gross regional domestic product (GRDP) grew 4.44 percent in 2020, or 1.53 percent higher than the national level.

Despite the formidable challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Dong Nai province introduced economic recovery measures in a timely manner, creating a premise for economic development in 2021.

Its industrial production value surged 6.2 percent last year, while the agro-forestry-fishery sector saw growth of 3.17 percent, higher than national rates of 3.35 percent and 2.82 percent, respectively. Local State budget collection topped 54.2 trillion VND, or 2 percent higher than the estimate.

Dong Nai attracted 29 trillion VND in domestic investment, or 290 percent of the annual plan, while attracting 1.3 billion USD in FDI, or 30 percent higher than the annual plan.

There have been many silver linings during the pandemic, with the province registering more than 4,000 enterprises in 2020, up 6 percent year-on-year, Director of the provincial Department of Planning and Investment Ho Van Ha said, adding that the number of businesses in the province now totals over 41,000.

Ha stressed that Dong Nai has been a leading locality in terms of industrial development, with 31 operational industrial parks with occupancy rates of over 82 percent.

It jumped three spots in 2020 compared to 2018 in the Provincial Competitiveness Index (PCI), to 23rd out of Vietnam’s 63 cities and provinces, posting 65.82 points on a 100-point scale, he said, adding that this is a vivid illustration of the improvement in the local administrative apparatus./.

Binh Phuoc targets becoming industrialised province

The southern province of Binh Phuoc recorded economic growth of 7.51 percent in 2020 thanks to its outstanding efforts in containing COVID-19 and promoting economic development, according to a local official.

Tran Tue Hien, Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee, reported that the locality’s industrial production value expanded 10.3 percent last year, while construction increased 12.5 percent.

The province’s budget collection totalled 11.6 trillion VND (502.28 million USD), with export revenue rising 7.33 percent and imports increasing 6.25 percent year-on-year.

It attracted 35 projects with total registered investment of 252 million USD, raising the total in the province to 273 projects worth 2.65 billion USD.

Domestic investors also registered 7 trillion VND to develop 110 projects, bringing the total amount to 1,081 projects valued at 90.7 trillion VND.

During the 2020-2025 tenure, the resolution adopted at the 11th provincial Party Congress set the target of turning Binh Phuoc into an industrialised province and being included in the group of provinces with rapid, sustainable development.

It expects to maintain its average economic growth, attract more investment, increase export-import turnover, and raise budget collections to 18-18.5 trillion VND by 2025.

Its annual per capita income is also set to exceed 100 million VND.

Binh Phuoc will strive to improve people’s living standards and narrow the development gap between urban and rural, ethnic minority, remote, and border areas.

To that end, it has embarked on e-administraion and smart urban area building towards a digital administration, in order to offer better public services to people and businesses.

It has also sped up infrastructure building to be better connected with the Central Highlands and logistics centres in the southern region, while promoting its production and business environment among domestic and foreign investors.

Speaking at an investment promotion event in late 2020, Hien said Binh Phuoc has developed 13 industrial parks, of which eight have come into operation.

The province proposed on March 12 that Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc allow the expansion and adjustment of industrial parks in the locality.

Accordingly, it plans to add 1,000 ha to the Minh Hung Sikio Industrial Park and 1,500 ha to the Nac and Nam Dong Phu Industrial Parks./.

Binh Phuoc urged to develop cashews as main crops

The southern province of Binh Phuoc, deemed Vietnam’s “cashew capital”, needs to devise a project to develop cashews as its key crops, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Xuan Cuong has said.

Home to a large area of farm land, with various national key crops, including cashew, rubber, and pepper, the province has made efforts in agricultural restructuring and focused on soil advantages to create momentum for the agricultural sector, Cuong said during a recent working session with local leaders.

With a planned area of 150,000 ha and output of 3 tonnes per ha, Binh Phuoc accounts for more than half of the country's cashew cultivation area and output.

It also has more than 1,400 processing establishments with a combined capacity of over 500,000 tonnes a year.

Binh Phuoc urged to develop cashews as main crops hinh anh 2
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Xuan Cuong (standing) and Binh Phuoc officials at a recent meeting (Photo: VNA)
The minister urged the province to review planning and agricultural restructuring to capitalise on its strengths. Agencies under MARD will help the province select cashew varieties most suitable with its soil and climate to replace low-yield varieties, he said.

Binh Phuoc is expected to soon have a cashew sector worth billions of USD, Cuong said.

Secretary of the provincial Party Committee Nguyen Van Loi said efforts have been made to double the average cashew output to 2 tonnes per ha so as to raise product value and quality.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic dealt a blow to agricultural production last year, Binh Phuoc’s agro-forestry-fishery value increased 12.7 percent to more than 28.78 trillion VND. The province earned over 2.8 billion USD from exports, with cashew making up 35 percent, a year-on-year rise of 7.3 percent.

It has more than 457,000 ha of farm land, including 429,800 ha of perennial industrial crops and orchards. There are also seven high tech agricultural zones covering 2,264 ha./.

Bangladeshi newspaper analyses Vietnam apparel sector’s advantages

The Bangladeshi newspaper The Daily Star has recently published an article highlighting advantages of the Vietnamese garment-textile sector, including low lead time, quality fabric, upmarket focus.

The article took an instance in the EU in 2020 cited by the Bangladeshi Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) in a research last month. Accordingly, against every 100 kilogrammes of t-shirts, Vietnam managed to fetch 2,157.9 USD last year, whereas it was 1,091.5 USD for Bangladesh. In 2019, the rates were going at 2,099.7 USD and 1,097.5 USD, respectively.

In explanation of these figures, Khondaker Golam Moazzem, the CPD's research director, said the quality of Vietnamese fabrics being substantially better and a section of its people having a taste for high-end products.

The use of a higher quality of fabric guarantees Vietnamese manufacturers better prices from buyers, he explained, adding that the country has a higher number of upscale product brands and retailers.

This result from a better country image, a higher ranking in the ease of doing business index of the World Bank, and the inclination towards compliance, human rights, and environmental protection practices, he said.

AK Azad, managing director of Ha-Meem Group, one of the leading local garment exporters in Bangladesh, said Vietnam makes good use of its highly available, top quality raw materials and has low lead time. Vietnam ships garments to the EU in 30 days, while it takes longer for other countries, including Bangladesh.

According to KM Rezaul Hasanat, chairman and chief executive officer of Viyellatex Group, another top local garment exporter, Vietnam is strong in manufacturing outerwear for people living in cold climates alongside high-quality blazers and woven formal shirts and trousers in the EU and US markets.

The nation also produces a lot of sportswear, and their prices are very high. Almost all globally renowned sports garment brands and retailers source products from Vietnam.

Bangladesh is a leading garment producer in the world and is one of the rivals of Vietnam in this field./.

Fisheries envisaged to become a vital economic sector

Fisheries will be branched out into an important economic sector of the nation by 2030 under a fisheries development strategy to 2030 with vision until 2045, which has been recently approved by the Prime Minister.

Accordingly, the sector must sharpen focus on developing large commodity production in combination with industrialization and modernisation, expanding the application of high technologies into production, restructuring production to improve productivity, and building prestigious trademarks as well as competitive edge.

The strategy sets targets of an average 3-4 percent growth in fisheries production value each year, with total output topping 9.8 million tones including 7 million tonnes from aquaculture, and an export revenue of 14-16 billion USD by 2030.

Furthermore, the sector aims to generate jobs for more than 3.5 million workers, with income per capita equal to the national level. Meanwhile, fishing villages in coastal areas will be built into civilised communities that have rich spiritual life in connection with the building of new-style rural areas.

Under the strategy, the sector is envisioned to become a deep processing centre and enter the world’s top three producers and exporters of aquatic products.

In the coming time, sea reserves will be established or expanded in tandem with eco-tourism development and new style rural area building. Meanwhile, breeding sites and migration route of aquatic creatures will be strictly managed and protected.

Fishing quota will be allocated in order to reduce then put an end to activities that destroy aquatic resources, while priority will be given to the farming of aquatic products with high economic values.

The State will accelerate the delegation of management to community-based organizations in coastal and inland water areas./.

New appliance brands enter VN

More and more new appliance brands from many countries have been entering Viet Nam over the last few years.

Hafele, Beko and Galanz are among the brands consumers have only gotten to know in the last couple of years.

They sell a wide range of products such as ovens, rice cookers and refrigerators at prices that are 20-30 per cent lower than their established competitors’.

Hoang Minh Kiet, a business executive at electronic appliances distributor Tan Minh Phat company, explained that the new brands are willing to take a loss in the beginning.

Turkey’s Beko, which not many consumers are familiar with, has recently introduced several product lines like refrigerators, washing machines and microwave ovens.

Phung Dinh Luc, technical director of Japanese brand Sharp, said the technology for manufacturing TVs has become commonplace and so there are many brands in the market.

Foreign brands are also shipping components to Viet Nam for assembly, and so there are many relatively cheap appliances available now, he said.

Various brands have been reaping success, and though currently there is a lull in the purchase of household appliances, many are confident about their products, he said.

Vu Duong Ngoc Duy, general director of Viettronics Tan Binh JSC, said his company is working with Japanese electronic brand Sansui to make TVs in Viet Nam and sell at a competitive price.

Though the market is now struggling due to COVID-19, it is expected to recover soon, and consumption of appliances would recover, he said.

While many consumers are used to Japanese and Korean brands and tend to be wary of unfamiliar brands, low-priced appliances are often well received in rural areas.

Retail chains have identified rural areas as a lucrative market with non-demanding customers who do not yet own many electronic appliances whereas large cities have little room for new brands. 

Mekong Delta needs $16.5b over 5 years to foster sustainable development

The Mekong Delta needs VND338 trillion (US$16.5 billion) in the next five years to upgrade its traffic infrastructure, improve water storage and mitigate riverbank and coastal erosion.

At a meeting in Can Tho late last week Minister of Investment and Planning Nguyen Chi Dung said the region needs over VND198 trillion ($8.6 billion) for traffic infrastructure.

The major expressways with a total of over 1,000 km including Can Tho - Ca Mau Expressway, Chau Doc - Can Tho - Soc Trang Expressway, and Ha Tien - Rach Gia - Bac Lieu Expressway will cost VND150 trillion ($6.49 billion), expected to improve connectivity in the region.

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has instructed the Ministry of Transport to prioritise the Can Tho - Ca Mau Expressway in 2021-25 and solicit private investment for the HCM City - Trung Luong - My Thuan - Can Tho - Ca Mau highway.

The Trung Luong – My Thuan Expressway should be completed this year and open to traffic, he said.

“Public investment plans for the next five years need to include projects and programmes important to national development like the North-South Expressway, coastal roads and digitising the economy.”

Work to allow large ships to enter the Hau River, a tributary of the Mekong, and developing logistics and waterways across southern Viet Nam are also priorities, he added.

Besides, the Government will also consider other projects to boost inter-provincial connectivity, with each province being supported on a significant project that will improve linkages with others.

The government is keen on providing funding for climate change mitigation works, including sea dykes.

The delta region faces existential problems such as rising sea levels, coastal and riverine erosion, pollution, ecological imbalance, land subsidence, and flooding in urban areas.

Experts have called for an emergency response to climate change in the integrated regional plan warning that rising seas, coastal erosion and subsidence could occur earlier than previously assumed.

A comprehensive scientific assessment of all the factors that could affect the development of the region is also imperative, they said.

Studies show 40 per cent of the delta could be underwater by 2100 and half of its population could be affected, they said.

Some areas along the coast are already eroding at a rate of more than 30 metres a year.

The regional plan for 2025 should aim to reduce the negative impacts caused by upstream activities and take strong measures to end the overexploitation of sand and groundwater, the experts said.

An integrated regional plan for improving infrastructure to attract investment and tackle climate change holds the key to achieving “inclusive growth and sustainable development”, they said.

Large-scale concentrated agricultural areas have been created for key items like shrimp, pangasius, rice, and fruits. Processing technologies have also been improved, helping create value chains for agricultural products.

Rice, including world-famous varieties such as ST24 -- crowned the best variety in the world at the 2019 Rice Trader World Rice Conference in the Philippines – is grown on 4.19 million hectares in the delta or 54.3 per cent of the country’s total.

The region has more than 335,400 hectares of orchards (36.3 per cent), with the major fruits being mango, orange, pomelo, rambutan, longan, durian, pineapple, and dragon fruit. 

HCM City aims for US$70 billion export turnover target by 2025

Ho Chi Minh City is set to rake in US$70 billion in export turnover by 2025 and US$108 billion by 2030, and maintain an average annual export growth of 9% during the 2026-2030 period.

The target is part of the municipal People’s Committee plan for export development by 2025, with a vision to 2030.

Accordingly, the southern city will maintain and support the development of its key products, while upgrading industry and become involved in global value chains with a particular focus on developing electronics, mechanics, and wood products, which it considers a foundation for its export growth in the coming time.

Additionally, the city is poised to upgrade infrastructure serving export, boost reform and increase the quality of public services directly related to import-export activities for the purpose of providing the best possible services.

By 2030, the city will work out strategies to improve competitiveness of its outstanding export products such as electronics, mechanics, optics, software, and service exports such as finance, tourism and logistics.

Major focus will be on intensifying investment in finance, banking and logistics, setting up logistics service centres, and promoting human resources development.

The southern metropolis' last year export turnover hit more than US$40 billion.

Travel firms introduce flexible products, services to attract customers

The decline in the number of customers due to Covid-19 may have caused difficulties for local travel companies, but it has also made them more flexible in launching diverse products and services to attract customers, for example, all-in tours for one day or half a day for domestic tourists and not just international guests.

Doan Thi Thanh Tra, director of marketing and communications at Saigontourist, said before the Lunar New Year holiday, the company had introduced one-day and half-day tours for tourists visiting HCMC and some destinations in Ba Ria-Vung Tau and Tien Giang provinces.

The company offered these tours at low prices of VND299,000 per tourist and also received good feedback from customers.

Moreover, tour operators and online tourism agents have also introduced varied combos of services. At present, customers can buy combos to any destination, even some resorts that had earlier been reserved for special customers.

The prices of these combos are also competitive. Many combos for three days and two nights including air fares, three-star hotel rooms and breakfasts for customers from HCMC to Danang, Phu Quoc and Dalat, cost only over VND2 million per customer.

The number of customers booking hotel rooms and tours has increased gradually over the past few weeks.

According to some hotels in Phu Quoc, Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Phan Thiet and Nha Trang, room bookings have been higher over the weekends.

Lai Minh Duy, general director of TST Tourist, said the company has seen some 700 customers over the past few days. The number of bookings for the upcoming periods is also promising.

Cao Thi Ngoc Lan, director of Vietttours, echoed the view, saying that the company has received many groups of meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions tourists and is working on prices for large groups.

The demand for travel among local people has been high and the outlook for the upcoming summer holiday is positive. Employees of the company are working day and night to offer competitive prices for customers, Lan added.

This weekend, Ben Thanh Tourist announced that it had received large groups of tourists. The revenue from bookings on the website can sometime even reach tens of billions of Vietnamese dong a day.

According to a survey by the Vietnam Tourism Advisory Board, many customers are ready to travel.

Specifically, 30.6% of the respondents said they would travel this month and the next. The peak period, chosen by 53.3% of the respondents, is from May to September. Only 5.9% said they would travel after receiving the Covid-19 vaccine.

In addition, Vietnamese tourists are focusing more on safety and incentives as 87% of the respondents said they preferred promotional service prices.

Vietnam, Northern European countries share experience in sustainable development

Vietnam and Northern European countries exchanged their experience in sustainable development at a seminar held in Hanoi on March 23 on the occasion of Nordic Day.

The seminar was co-organised by the Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics (HCMA) and embassies of Northern European countries.
With outstanding achievements in economic development, social welfare, environmental protection, and cultural preservation and promotion, Northern Europe’s socio-economic model is valuable for other countries worldwide, including Vietnam, to follow, according to Associate Professor, Dr Duong Trung Y, Deputy Director of the HCMA.

Hanoi and major cities in Vietnam could learn from the experience in urban area management and development of cities in Northern Europe, he suggested.

On behalf of ambassadors of Northern European countries to Vietnam, Swedish Ambassador Ann Mawe said they are proud to be longstanding friends with Vietnam and to help the country in poverty reduction and sustainable development.

In regard to Vietnam’s socio-economic growth, the ambassador said the process should be focused on the shift towards greener and more sustainable development.

Economic security should be in parallel with social and environmental security, she emphasised.

Northern European countries stand ready to share their knowledge and experience in urbanisation, climate change, and environment, she said, adding that she hopes this experience will be useful for Vietnam.

Delegates at the seminar also looked at innovation-based economic development in Vietnam, which they said requires the country quickly complete an institutional system./.

Local aviation industry calls for help amid losses caused by COVID-19

The Vietnamese aviation industry continues to take the brunt of three global waves of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, with the industry forced to cut ticket prices to stimulate demand, leading to airlines facing unprecedented consequences and losses in the peak season.

According to information compiled by the Vietnam Aviation Business Association (VABA), local airlines have suffered estimated losses of over VND18,000 billion from air transport activities, with revenues dropping by roughly VND100,000 billion over 2019.

The international flight market currently remains frozen, with the main flight activities of airlines being repatriation flights, along with the transport of experts and goods.

The opening two months of the year has witnessed international passenger transportation reach only 66,600, a massive decline of 98.8% over the same period from last year.

“The domestic aviation market has also witnessed a slowdown, with sharp increases in the number of passengers, while the cost increased sharply due to the assurance of pandemic prevention measures. Airlines’ sales during the lunar New Year festival (Tet) also decreased by between 70% to 80% on average over the same period last year,” stated VABA.

Furthermore, amid the narrowing of flight operations, commercial services, technical services, and catering services have been adversely affected, with the revenue of local airlines enduring a decline from March.

Moving forward, local airlines are anticipated to continue to experience a steep fall in revenue in comparison to 2019, with firms forecast to face loses of more than VND15,000 billion from air transport this year.

Judging from the current situation and forecast ahead for the rest of the year, the VABA has proposed a number of policies and solutions aimed at assisting aviation firms to overcome difficulties and challenges caused by COVID-19. These solutions will focus on expanding credit support schemes for airlines, promoting the application of the Government's Resolution on supporting interest rates for firms, and allowing them to restructure their loans, reschedule debts arising in the 2020 to 2021 period, and not change debt groups until December 31.

The VABA has also proposed further reducing the environmental protection tax on aviation fuel to VND900 to VND1,000 per litre. This is in addition to extending the deadline for paying corporate income taxes, value added taxes, personal income taxes, foreign contractor taxes, and land rentals for all obligations arising until December 31.

Simultaneously, it also suggests extending the time limit for payment of import tax and value-added tax on imported equipment and materials used by the industry in order to ensure the compliance of periodic maintenance.

The association also underlined the need to swiftly resume international routes and accept foreign visitors to the nation when vaccinated, especially those  from countries with the large number of  passengers which have contained the pandemic. This includes countries such as, Australia, China, the Republic of Korea, and Japan.

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


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