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VIETNAM BUSINESS NEWS MARCH 5

No more new coal-fired thermal power plants for Mekong Delta by 2030

No more new coal-fired thermal power plants for Mekong Delta by 2030
 

Accordingly, except for the currently constructed coal-fired power projects – namely the Duyen Hai II (Tra Vinh province), Long Phu I (Soc Trang province), and Song Hau I (Hau Giang) – the region will focus on the development of wind power on Ca Mau peninsula and solar power, while considering the development of gas-to-power projects in Bac Lieu, Kien Giang, and Long An after 2030.

This is part of the Mekong Delta's regional planning for 2021-2030, with a vision towards 2050, approved by the government on February 28.

The total area will cover Can Tho city and the 12 provinces Long An, Tien Giang, Ben Tre, Dong Thap, Vinh Long, Tra Vinh, Hau Giang, An Giang, Soc Trang, Kien Giang, Bạc Lieu, and Ca Mau; as well as the coastal areas of Tien Giang, Ben Tre, Tra Vinh, Soc Trang, Bac Liau, Ca Mau, and Kien Giang provinces.

The goal is to develop the regional economy and agriculture sustainably and with high-tech applications.

The regional economy is aimed to expand 6.5 per cent annually on average. In 2030, agro-forestry-fishery will contribute about 20 per cent to the regional GRDP, while industry and construction will contribute 32 per cent.

By 2030, the region aims to develop 830km of expressways; about 4,000km of national highways; four airports; 13 seaports; and inland waterway cargo and passenger ports.

The region also aims to increase the proportion of fishery, and fruits, and reduce that of rice; increase attention to developing processing and supporting industry; and develop into a famous destination for ecotourism by developing tourism areas.

Budget collection from imports, exports rises over 24% in Jan-Feb

The State budget earned VND69,250 billion (US$3 billion) of tax revenue from imports and exports in the first two months of 2022, soaring 24.45% against the same period last year and fulfilling 19.7% of the entire year’s target.

The General Department of Vietnam Customs is expected to collect VND352 trillion for the State budget this year, including VND7.2 trillion from export tariffs, VND56.9 trillion from import tariffs, VND27.2 trillion from excise tax, VND1.17 trillion from environmental protection tax, VND259.5 trillion from value-added tax, and VND51 billion from other sources.

Data from the General Statistics Office showed that Vietnam’s total import-export turnover hit US$109.62 billion in the first two months, rising 14.2% year-on-year.

The country exported goods worth US$54.52 billion, rising 11.7% year-on-year, while spending US$55.1 billion on imports, increasing 16.7% year-on-year. As imports grew faster than exports, the country incurred a trade deficit of US$581 million.

Russia-Ukraine crisis hits local livestock industry

Viet Nam’s livestock industry is likely to be hurt due to the increase in raw materials and animal feed prices since the Russia-Ukraine conflict began, the Agribank Securities JSC (Agriseco) has said.

Russia and Ukraine are the world’s top and third-largest wheat exporters, and the conflict has driven prices up by 17.8 per cent.

Ukraine is also the fourth-largest exporter of corn, accounting for 22 per cent of global supply. Corn prices have risen by 8.4 per cent since fighting began.

According to the Department of Husbandry under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), the country’s animal feed industry imports 90 per cent of its raw materials.

While the price of raw materials has typically accounted for about 80-85 per cent of the production cost, the price of animal feed increased from 16 to 36 per cent in the 2020-21 period. The strongest increases were in the price of cereal.

Taiwanese firms study investment chances in Vinh Long

The Vinh Long People’s Committee on March 4 hosted a business delegation from Taiwan (China), who came to learn about opportunities for investing in the Mekong Delta province.

Participating Taiwanese firms are operating in different fields including the production of footwear and sport gear production, and processed agricultural products.

Deputy Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Le Quang Trung said Vinh Long is committed to accompanying and fully implementing its responsibilities for investors, particularly in helping them tackle difficulties and creating a favourable business climate.

In 2021, despite being affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the province still granted investment registration certificates to 12 projects worth 4.052 trillion VND (177.41 million USD). Currently, it has 67 valid FDI projects valued at 779 million USD; seven of which are invested by Taiwanese investors with total investment of about 237.31 million USD.

Long An fosters employment linkage with Japan’s Ibaraki

The Mekong Delta province of Long An has shown interest in strengthening cooperation with businesses in Ibaraki to bring more local labourers to work in the Japanese prefecture.

Addressing a forum on March 4, Deputy Director of the provincial Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs Nguyen Dai Tanh briefed the Japanse side on the locality's economic situation and its favourable transport system and geographical location for the development of industrial parks (IPs).

Long An has zoned off 32 IPs and 62 industrial clusters with a total area of about 15,000 hectares. Currently, 16 IPs and 22 industrial clusters have become operational with an occupancy rate of over 90 percent, said Tanh, adding that Long An currently has about 500 hectares of cleared land that are ready for investment. The majority of local IPs and industrial clusters locate near Ho Chi Minh City.

Currently, Long An is hosting 1,127 FDI with total investment of over 9.4 billion USD. Japan is now the fourth largest investor of Long An with 132 projects worth 479 million USD.

Transport Ministry to stop manual toll collection on expys from June 1

The Ministry of Transport has urged the relevant departments and agencies to stick identification cards on all vehicles to use the non-stop electronic toll collection (ETC) service and eliminate manual toll collection from June 1.

The ministry asked the Directorate for Road of Vietnam to review and place the ID cards on all vehicles managed by the directorate and call on civil servants to first attach the cards onto their private vehicles to ensure the manual toll collection model ends from June 1.

The Directorate for Roads of Vietnam was also told to pilot the ETC service on the Hanoi-Haiphong expressway and urge provinces and cities to quickly stick the cards on all vehicles, according to the ministry’s directive.

The ministry also gave the same task to the Vietnam Register, including reviewing and placing the cards on all vehicles managed by the agency and encouraging its employees to stick the cards on their cars.

Dialogue encourages OV businesses to invest in homeland

A business dialogue with overseas Vietnamese (OV) investors was held in Hanoi on March 4 in both in-person and online format.

Addressing the event, Vietnamese Ambassador to Thailand Phan Chi Thanh said that trade between Vietnam and Thailand - the largest parner of Vietnam among ASEAN countries reached about 19.5 billion USD in 2021.

He held that promoting trade and investment between the two countries through connecting OV entrepreneurs with their peers at home and Vietnamese localities is effective, helping attract more investment and strengthen the OV businesses’ links with the homeland.

Representatives from the Trade Promotion Agency under the Ministry of Industry and Trade briefed participants on policies to encourage OVs to invest in Vietnam.

At the event, many OV entrepreneurs in Thailand showed their interest in investing in Vietnam, especially in service and tourism sectors.

The dialogue was the initiative of the State Committee for OV Affairs, the Trade Promotion Agency, the Foreign Investment Agency and the Vietnamese Embassy in Thailand.

Those affected by COVID in HCM City to get 2 per cent loan interest rate cut

Loans for individuals and businesses in HCM City affected by COVID-19 will have their interest rate cut by 2 per cent under a Government resolution.

According to the HCM City-based Viet Nam Bank for Social Policies, loans carrying rates of over 6 per cent and disbursed from now until the end of 2023 will be eligible for the rate cut under Resolution 11.

But anyone with overdue loans will not be eligible, according to the bank.

The State Bank of Viet Nam has instructed the bank to continue to provide preferential loans to pandemic-hit firms for paying salaries and continuing with their business operations.

The bank will also work with the city districts to provide loans to workers, poor and disadvantaged people and others affected by the pandemic.

Hai Phong attracts over 305 million USD in foreign investment in two months

The northern port city of Hai Phong raked in 305.66 million USD worth of foreign capital in the first two months of 2022, given the complex developments of COVID-19.

The sum was equivalent to 38.25 percent of the figure for the same period last year and fulfilled 12.22 percent of the target set for this year.

The outcome was attributable to the drastic direction of the municipal authorities and significant efforts of localities and sectors involved, particularly the Hai Phong Economic Zone Authority (HEZA).

Notably, the HEZA has recently granted investment registration certificates for two housing projects that can accommodate about 14,000 workers of the Pegatron Vietnam Co., Ltd and Universal Scientific Industrial Vietnam Co., Ltd. at the Dinh Vu – Cat Hai economic zone.

HCM City posts 5.9 percent growth in exports, an increase in export orders

Ho Chi Minh City's exports were up 5.9 percent to reach 7.38 billion USD in the first two months of the year, according to the municipal Statistic Office.

Exports, excluding crude oil, reached 7.11 billion USD, a year-on-year increase of 4.3 percent.

The State economic sector earned 343.7 million USDfrom exports, up 22.8 percent, the non-State economic sector 2.28 billion USD, up 33.7 percent and the foreign-invested sector 4.27 billion USD, down 3 percent over the same period, it said.

Export value of industrial products in the period went up by nearly 43 percent to over 5.3 billion USD, accounting for 77 percent of the city’s total export value.

Of which, exports of computer, electronic products and components were up by 20 percent to 2.6 billion USD, garment and textile up by 88.2 percent to 797.6 million USD, and machinery, equipment and accessories up by 47.7 percent to 456.5 million USD.

Banking sector optimistic despite ongoing conflict in Europe

It's too early to tell how the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict will affect Viet Nam's banking sector, said industry experts.

However, the conflict almost certainly will drive oil prices up, disrupt the global supply chain and create inflationary pressure. As a result, firms will likely be more hesitant to make investments, consumers cut back on spending and demand for credit drops.

During 2021, the banking sector reported VND146 trillion in profit, or US$6.39 billion, a 33 per cent increase year-on-year, mainly from interest and banking fees. The profit trend has been said to likely continue in the near future but the sector's profitability is not without risks.

As the country has been trying to maintain a recovery path, the SBV has every reason to keep interest rates low to support the economy. Meanwhile, commercial banks must already employ numerous measures to protect and maintain profitability.

Ha Noi’s economy on recovery path

The industrial production and trade of Ha Noi has been on a recovery trend from the beginning of the year, driven by the capital city’s policies of reopening business activities after months of closing down to fight the pandemic.

The capital city’s index of industrial production was estimated to increase by 4.6 per cent in the first two months of this year.

Specifically, the manufacturing and processing industry rose by 4.8 per cent, power production and distribution by 1.8 per cent, and water supply and waste treatment by 4.3 per cent.

Industries that saw significant increases included paper production by 49.7 per cent, wood processing and wood products by 20.7 per cent, electronic products and computers by 11.9 per cent, rubber and plastic products by 11.1 per cent.

The capital city witnessed a rise of 30.9 per cent in export to reach a value of more than US$2.6 billion in January – February, of which the domestic sector’s export value was estimated at $1.4 billion, up by 33.9 per cent while the foreign direct investment (FDI) sector saw an increase of 27.7 per cent in export value.

The total retail sale of goods and services was estimated at VND109 trillion ($4.77 billion) in the first two months of this year, representing a rise of 9.9 per cent against the same period last year.

Government approves development plan for Mekong Delta for 2021 – 2030

Deputy Prime Minister Le Van Thanh has signed a decision giving green light to a master plan for the Mekong Delta, which consists of Can Tho city and 12 provinces, in the 2021 – 2030 period, with a vision to 2050.

The scheme aims to promote the strength of the local agricultural economy towards sustainability and technology application; maintain the proportion of added value at a high level of about 20-25 percent by 2030; and make effective use of free trade agreements for market expansion.

It sets a target for the regional economy grow at an average rate of about 6.5 percent annually, with its gross regional domestic product in 2030 being 2-2.5 times larger than in 2021. Also by 2030, the delta will build and upgrade some 830km expressway; about 4,000km of national highways; 4 airports; and 13 seaports, among others.

Binh Duong posts 2 bln USD trade surplus in two months

The southern province of Binh Duong enjoyed a trade surplus of 2 billion USD in the first two months this year, Vo Van Minh, Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee has said.

Speaking at a press briefing held on March 4, Minh said that its export turnover hit 6 billion USD in two months, a year-on-year increase of 18.7 percent, while it spent more than 4 billion USD on imports, up 8.1 percent.

The province's industrial production value rose by 6.1 percent over the same period last year, while the total retail sales of goods and services in the first two months of the year surged 10.3 percent year-on-year.

The province attracted 7.1 trillion VND of domestic investment and 47 million USD of foreign direct investment, as of February 15.

HCM City condo prices rise

Condo prices are rising in HCM City. Online newspaper sggp.org.vn said they had been climbing for the last two months, and cited the example of Akari City in Binh Tan District.

Developed by Nam Long Group, the project saw its first phase finished last December. At that moment, price of the project jumped to VND40-43 million (US$1,700) per sq.m from VND35-38 million ($1,650) per sq.m.

The prices of other apartment projects in Binh Tan have also appreciated.

Moonlight Centre Point developed by Hung Thinh Land jumped by 15 per cent since the beginning of last year to VND57-67 million ($2,500) per square metre.

A report by property market research company JLL said in the last quarter the average primary selling price was US$2,700 per square metre, up 18 per cent quarter on quarter and 10.5 per cent year-on-year.

However, while increasing prices, the company said developers also offered attractive payment policies such as paying only 15 per cent of apartment value until handover time, discounts of up to 7 per cent and gifts.

National economy expected to pick up pace this year

Many silver linings were seen in Vietnam’s economy last month like high industrial production index, export revenue up more than 10 percent and curbed inflation.

The General Statistics Office (GSO) revealed that industrial production expanded 8.5 percent month-on-month and 5.4 percent year-on-year, with processing and manufacturing up 6.1 percent.

Trade and services maintained their growth rates, with rosy signs seen in lodging, catering and tourism services. Total retail sales and service revenue last month increased 3.1 percent from the corresponding time last year. Export-import value in the first two months reached 108.52 billion USD, a rise of 13 percent, of which export revenue was 53.79 billion USD up 10.2 percent, the office said.

Notably, the number of newly-established firms and those resuming their operation in January and February stood at 42,600, a year-on-year increase of 46.2 percent.

During the reviewed period, the consumer price index (CPI) climbed by 1.68 percent, and core inflation rose 0.67 percent.

Vietnam must double down on improving business environment

Improving the business environment is among Vietnam's top priorities in the future, especially as the country is trying to get the economy back on track, said economists and policymakers at a conference in Hanoi on March 3.

Prolonged social and mobility restrictions to check the spread of COVID-19 in recent months had significantly hampered efforts to improve the country's business environment, said Nguyen Dinh Cung, former head of the Central Institute for Economic Management (CIEM).

As reforms lost momentum there had been signs of resistance coming from the government's ministries and offices against changes.

It has been reflected in Vietnam's less-than-impressive Economic Freedom score. The country ranked 17th among 40 countries in the Asia–Pacific region with 61.7 points, just 0.01 points above the world's average.

Retail sales of goods, services up 1.7 percent in January – February

The total retail sales of consumer goods and services in the first two months of 2022 posted a year-on-year increase of 1.7 percent, hitting 876 trillion VND (over 38.35 billion USD), according to the General Statistics Office (GSO).

Of which, retail sales of goods expanded by 3.1 percent, with significant growth seen in multiple groups, including cultural and educational items (12.7 percent), food and foodstuff (9.0 percent), and vehicles (4.3 percent). Meanwhile, revenue of clothing and household appliances respectively shrank 8.1 percent, and 9.1 percent.

Due to increased demand for food on the occasion of the Lunar New Year festival in early February, the prices of food surged at some points of time but then returned to the pre-Tet level. Prices of energy and fuel products have also tended to increase following the global price trend.

To stimulate the domestic demand, the GSO suggested that the Ministry of Industry and Trade keep a close watch on fluctuations of the world and domestic economy, thus rolling out appropriate response solutions.

RoK helps build green, smart urban resilience controlling centre in Da Nang

The People’s Committee of Da Nang city, in collaboration with the Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), held a ceremony on March 4 to kick-start the Integrated Centre for Controlling Green and Smart Urban Resilience (ENSURE Centre) in the central city.

This is a non-refundable ODA project added by the Government of the Republic of Korea (RoK) to the Vietnamese side with a total investment of 259 billion VND (11.3 million USD), and expected to be completed in 2025.

It aims to strengthen the resilience to natural disasters, contribute to the city's socio-economic development, create a favourable environment for enterprises to conduct production and business activities and attract investment, and ensure safety for residents and visitors.

In addition, the project will apply information technology to early recognise and warn of natural disasters, forecast their developments, improve the capacity of the central city’s disaster forecast and response, and promote green urban restoration.

Infrastructure boosts HCM City property market

The HCM City property market is expected to develop strongly in 2022 on the back of a number of infrastructure projects being completed or started during the period, experts said.

Many of the projects are meant to improve connectivity or reduce congestion. They include the An Phu Intersection in Thu Duc City. The junction of three major roads, the HCM City-Long Thanh-Dau Giay Highway, Mai Chi Tho Boulevard and Luong Dinh Cua Street, suffers from constant congestion, which peaks during weekends and other holidays as people travel to Dong Nai and Ba Ria-Vung Tau provinces.

Another project to be taken up is the widening of National Road 50 in Binh Chanh District. The My Thuy Intersection will be finished this year, helping reduce traffic jams and accidents around Cat Lai Port and increase cargo transportation capacity.

Other projects in the city include widening of Tan Ky-Tan Quy Street, upgrades to Tran Van Muoi Street and Thi Tran-Thoi Tam Thon, construction of Rach Kinh Bridge, and works to prevent landslides near Giong Ong To Bridge.

Noi Bai duty-free shops report big losses due to Covid-19

Noibai Airport Services Joint Stock Company (Nasco) which runs the duty-free shop chain at the airport, has just reported a loss of VND137 billion (USD5.95 million) for 2021. This was the second consecutive year that Nasco incurred losses but it was the biggest loss since the company's operation.

Explaining their major losses in 2021, the company said that Hanoi experienced two Covid-19 outbreaks which had badly affected their operations. Most of Nasco's shops at Noi Bai Airport had to close during the social distancing period from July 24 to September 21. After the social distancing rules were lifted, the number of passengers was still low. Meanwhile, they faced increasing costs of materials and transportation as well as rising loans.

As of December 31, 2021, Nasco's total asset was VND 266 billion, a fall of 40 percent against the figures announced at the beginning of the year," the report said.

Binh Duong to build two major industrial parks

Two large-scale industrial parks will be built in the southern province of Binh Duong this year, according to local officials.

According to Vo Van Minh, chairman of the provincial people’s committee, work will start on Vietnam Singapore Industrial Park III this month. The industrial park covering 1,000 hectares in Tan Uyen Town and Bac Tan Uyen District will prioritise high-tech areas.

Minh added that in the second quarter of this year, the 1,000-hectare Cay Truong Industrial Park will also be built in the province in the second quarter of this year.

The province has planned to open Nam Tan Uyen and Rach Bap industrial parks and some others this year.

Tax authorities ask for estate transactions through banks

All real estate transactions must be implemented through banks, the General Department of Taxation has proposed to the Ministry of Finance.

This is to control cash flow in real estate transactions and prevent tax losses while ensuring transparency for both buyers and sellers, according to Ly Thi Hoai Huong, deputy head of the Tax Administration Department for Small and Medium Enterprises, Business Households and Individuals.

The General Department of Taxation also proposed adding an investigation function to the tax agency, and amending several regulations related to the Land Law, so that the land price of the provincial People's Committees will gradually approach the market price.

Viet Nam must double down on improving business environment

Improving the business environment is among Viet Nam's top priorities in the future, especially as the country is trying to get the economy back on track, said economists and policymakers at a conference in Ha Noi on Thursday.

Prolonged social and mobility restrictions to check the spread of COVID-19 in recent months had significantly hampered efforts to improve the country's business environment, said Nguyen Dinh Cung, former head of the Central Institute for Economic Management (CIEM).

As reforms lost momentum there had been signs of resistance coming from the government's ministries and offices against changes.

It has been reflected in Viet Nam's less-than-impressive Economic Freedom score. The country ranked 17th among 40 countries in the Asia–Pacific region with 61.7 points, just 0.01 points above the world's average.

Customers monthly SMS banking fee fixed at VND11,000 after uproar

Banks and telecom service providers have agreed to charge a fixed monthly SMS banking service fee of VND11,000 following an uproar among customers after the fee was hiked by up to seven times.

Many customers had complained after the fee was hiked in January to VND27,500-77,000 from the fixed VND11,000, saying they would stop using the service.

Banks have meanwhile been suggesting that customers should use digital services instead of SMS banking services, with some even waiving money transfer and monthly maintenance fees for the former.

MobiFone and VinaPhone charged VND820 (US$0.035) per SMS for financial transactions and VND500 for ads and customer care messages. Viettel’s rates were VND785 and VND500. For individual subscribers SMSs only cost VND99-350.

MobiFone, VinaPhone and Viettel claimed they charged higher SMS fees for financial transactions because they invested large sums of money in technology to ensure the security of the information.

Hanoi in need of 100,000 workers in first quarter 2022

Hanoi is forecasted to need an additional 80,000 to 100,000 workers in the first quarter of 2022, according to the Hanoi Centre for Employment Services (SCES), under the municipal Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs.

The fields with the highest demand growth rate for recruitment in the capital city, include trade, business, information technology, mechanics, finance and banking.

In 2021, the city created jobs for 179,600 workers, meeting 112.2 percent of the yearly target.

Of that number, 1,400 people were sent to work abroad, mostly in Japan, the Republic of Korea, and Chinese Taipei. Additionally, nearly 14,700 other workers were recruited through employment sessions.

In February this year, Hanoi generated jobs for more than 10,500 labourers.

VCCI proposes larger reduction on environment tax on fuel than Finance Ministry

The Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) has proposed reducing the environmental protection tax by VND1,000-2,000 on each liter of fuel, double the reduction proposed by the Ministry of Finance.

VCCI commented on the Ministry of Finance’s draft resolution on adjusting the environmental protection tax on fuel, except aviation fuel, until the end of this year. Accordingly, VCCI suggested cutting the environmental protection tax by VND2,000 on each liter of gasoline and VND1,000 on each liter or kilogram of diesel and lubricating oil, the local media reported.

The tax reduction may be applied for a shorter period, probably for three to six months, if the fuel prices are stable, instead of reducing the tax for eight months until the end of this year, VCCI suggested.

Source: SGT/VNA/VNS/VIR/SGGP

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