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VIETNAM BUSINESS NEWS MARCH 8

Small investors oppose expanding trading lot

Ho Chi Minh City Stock Exchange (HOSE)’s proposal to raise the minimum trading lot to 1,000 shares is receiving mixed opinions from market experts and investors.

The proposal was initiated by newly-appointed General Director of HOSE Le Hai Tra as a solution to reduce system overloads which have troubled traders recently.

A 1,000 minimum trading lot will limit the participation of small investors, while the stock market is moving towards fairness and equality, said a budding investor.

“My friends and I, when joining the stock market, only have a few tens to several hundreds of millions of dong, raising the minimum trading lot to 1,000 shares will directly affect our investment capacity,” said individual investor Diep.

“With expensive stocks, we may have to spend hundreds of millions of dong to buy the minimum 1,000 shares,” she said.

According to Diep, the stock market has never had such a chance for growth. New cash flow into the market pushed liquidity to a record high level. However, the new proposal may not only prevent new investors from entering the market but also discourage existing investors.

“The plan to raise the minimum trading lot to 1,000 shares could quickly reduce the number of orders delivered daily on HOSE. However, it will cause frustration among small investors who are directly affected by the plan as they think they are not protected,” said Do Bao Ngoc, Deputy General Director of Kien Thiet Securities Vietnam (CSI).

“This plan, if in place, will affect the rapid development of the stock market under the current favourable conditions, one of which is great interest from global investors,” he said.

“Under the new plan, the most affected are the investors whose trading accounts have VND1 billion or less,” said Nguyen Hoang Hai, Vice Chairman of Viet Nam Association of Financial Investors (VAFI)

According to VAFI statistics, investors whose trading accounts have VND500 million or less account for about 30 per cent of individual investors. Among them, the number of investors participating in the market for the first time (F0 investors) with VND300 - 500 million is numerous.

“Last year, the boom of the stock market was great thanks to the participation of new investors, also known as F0 investors. The market always needs new cash flows but raising the minimum trading lot to 1,000 shares could hinder the investment capacity of investors and cause them to lose money,” Hai said.

Chairman of SSI Securities Corporation Nguyen Duy Hung on his social media account recently gave a more positive view on HOSE’s proposal, saying the trading system would be on the brink of collapse without appropriate measures.

“Raising the minimum trading lot to 1,000 shares is necessary at the moment to keep the system running,” he said, adding when the system upgrading process is completed, the minimum trading lot could be reverted to 10.

Hung said the overload of orders that forces the stock exchange to halt market trading is the result of a rapid-growing stock market that outpaces the processing capacity of the stock market, as such, “a long-term solution is a must,” he said.

Both before and after the Tet holiday, the overload occurred repeatedly on HOSE whenever liquidity in a trading session hit around VND14-17 trillion (US$608-738 million).

The SSC attributed the overload issue on the HOSE to the transaction processing capacity of the stock exchange that limits the number of transactions per day, while a recent surge of orders has exceeded the expectation of the market.

Rice farmers enjoy bumper harvest, high prices in Mekong Delta

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Rice farmers in Mekong Delta rejoiced as the ongoing winter-spring crops yielded big gains, while domestic agricultural authorities work towards a near future where Vietnamese rice dominates markets worldwide. 

After the award-winning ST25 rice rightfully earned a firm footing on the market, it and other varieties from the Mekong Delta region became highly sought-after. This fragrant rice variety sells for VND30,000-45,000 per kilogram (US$1.3-1.95) and is still seeing high demand after the Lunar New Year shopping craze ended.
Farmers from Soc Trang Province, where ST25 rice is cultivated, raked in double the year-on-year profit at about VND40 million (US$1.734) per 8 tons.

“We even had retailers offering to buy our yields long before harvest, which is very rare and proves the apparent demand for high-quality fragrant rice”, said a local field owner.

Mekong Delta farmers up to now have harvested some one-third of the region’s total rice crops for the period, with an average yield of over 7.3 tons per hectare.

Seeing that high-end white rice and fragrant rice make up nearly 90 percent of the products, Soc Trang province is requesting the provincial Center for Agricultural Seeds to focus more on the production and supply of these varieties to meet local demands.

Meanwhile, Hau Giang Province has been promoting the Vi Thuy fragrant rice variety produced in an eco-friendly safety food chain. The province plans to expand cultivation areas to 500 hectares, said the director of Hau Giang’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The Vi Thuy brand was rated a 4-star eco rice product by the domestic OCOP program (One Commune One Product) which prompted Hau Giang authorities to promote the safety production chain to local farmers.

On a nationwide scale, restructuring the agriculture sector by cutting off inefficient yields has boosted rice production significantly, as well as created opportunities for up to 6 million tons of Vietnamese rice to enter EU markets per year, said business insiders.

Although the EU market demands some 2.1-2.3 tons of rice per year, only 80,000 tons of Vietnamese exports can enter each year under regulations of the EVFTA.

The Asian country in recent years has commanded international attention with multiple global award-winning rice varieties. Experts believe Vietnam in the near future can export as many as 1 million tons of white fragrant rice at over US$1,000 per ton, earning US$1 billion in foreign currency each year.

To further promote Vietnamese rice, there have been proposals for the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Ministry of Industry and Trade to set up a national committee for the rice industry in associations with domestic cooperatives and overseas trade counselors.

Many solutions to prevent network congestion on HoSE

Vietnam’s stock market in the trading session on March 3 continued to encounter network congestion on the Ho Chi Minh City Stock Exchange (HoSE), so the VN-Index was almost flat.

Meanwhile, on the Hanoi Stock Exchange (HNX), the HNX-Index made a breakthrough of nearly 3 percent. At the end of the trading session, the VN-Index inched up by 0.34 points, or 0.03 percent, to close at 1,186.95 points, with 270 gainers, 168 losers, and 64 unchanged stocks. The HNX-Index jumped 6.16 points, or 2.48 percent, to 254.1 points, with 137 gainers, 66 losers, and 57 unchanged stocks.

Foreign investors continued to net sell nearly VND500 billion on the whole market. Of which, they net sold VND470 billion on the HoSE. Liquidity remained at a high level with a total trading volume of 819 million shares, worth more than VND18.1 trillion. Of which, put-through transactions accounted for nearly VND1.77 trillion.

The stock market traded with caution from investors after the new General Director of the HoSE Le Hai Tra spoke in the media about a solution to prevent network congestion, which possibly is to raise the minimum round lot from 100 shares to 1,000 shares to reduce the load for the trading system.

According to the HoSE’s calculations, increasing the round lot to 1,000 shares can reduce the total number of trading orders by 40-50 percent, at the same time, it can pave the way for new heights of market liquidity.

Mr. Tra said that that might only be a temporary solution to solve the current network congestion situation. In the future, when the new stock trading system comes into operation, there will be an odd-lot board, and it is also possible to return to the current round lot of 100 units. However, this opinion faced considerable opposition from investors because it will make it difficult for investors, especially small investors. Because they will have to spend 10 times as much as currently to buy stocks on the HoSE.

Another solution to prevent network congestion for the HoSE is to transfer some stocks from the HoSE to the HNX, the State Securities Commission (SSC) has just sent documents to the HoSE, the HNX, and the Vietnam Securities Depository (VSD) on this.

Accordingly, the SSC requested the HNX to promptly accept and receive listed companies from the HoSE, without reviewing their records following the new listing process. The transaction mechanisms, transaction supervision, listing management, reporting, and information disclosure will be applied the same as companies listed on the HNX. The HoSE and the HNX will cooperate in supervising transactions for these stocks to ensure continuity of supervision.

Noticeably, the SSC stated clearly that shares of transferred companies, which are currently in the set of the VN-Index indicators of the HoSE will be removed from the set of HoSE indicators during the temporary transfer to the HNX. At present, SSC will temporarily not consider transferring the shares of companies currently in the VN30-Index.

The SSC also requested the HNX, the HoSE, and the VSD to urgently handle the issue so that enterprises can transfer the transactions of their shares similarly to the listing transfer cases that have been carried out so far. This mechanism will be applied from March 3 this year.

Ly Son garlic reputation threatened by fake products

The prices and the reputation of Ly Son garlic have fallen as low-quality garlic from other areas are being brought to the island and faked as Ly Son garlic. 

Ly Son Island, Quang Ngai Province, is famous for its garlic which is sold at much higher prices than the garlic from other places. However, for the past years, garlic has been brought to the island and sold to tourists as the garlic from Ly Son.

According to a trader, fake Ly Son garlic is sold in huge numbers due to high demand from visitors. The price of the garlic from Nha Trang City is VND28,000 (USD1.20) per kilo. After being marketed as Ly Son garlic, its price will increase to VND45,000 per kilo.

Garlic from Khanh Hoa and Ninh Thuan is also faked as being Ly Son garlic and sold at An Vinh Market on the island.

As a result, there is a surplus of supply and the prices and reputation of Ly Son garlic have been badly affected. After the Tet Holiday, the prices of Ly Son garlic stood at VND60,000 (USD2.60) per kilo but has now dropped to VND40,000. At some points in the past two years, the prices of dried garlic dropped to VND20,000 per kilo.

Huynh Tung, a farmer in Ly Son, said, "The price of Ly Son garlic dropped and it's so hard to sell garlic now."

On February 19 and 21, the authorities seized over one tonne of non-local garlic which was being transported into the island.

Dang Tan Thanh, vice chairman of Ly Son District People's Committee, said they had tightened monitoring and raised public awareness to protect Ly Son garlic.

"We have asked the Department of Economic and Rural Infrastructure to work on a product traceability project. It will help customers recognise the garlic better and protect the farmers," he said.

Last June, The Intellectual Property Office of Vietnam issued the geographical indication certification to help manage and develop Ly Son garlic more efficiently.

Vietnam forecast to see growing number of ultra-high-net-worth individuals by 2025

The number of ultra-high-net-worth individuals living in Vietnam is forecast to grow strongly in the next five years by Knight Frank.

By 2025, Vietnam will have 50 ultra-high-net-worth individuals (UHNWI) with a net worth of at least $30 million each and 25,812 high-net-worth individuals (HNWI) with assets of at least $1 million, says The Wealth Report 2021 put out by Knight Frank.

The report pointed out that Vietnam’s number of ultra-wealthy people declined slightly due to the impact of the pandemic, dropping from 405 people in 2019 to 390 people in 2020.

Globally, China saw the fastest growth in UHNWI population with a 15.8 per cent growth rate, followed by Sweden and Singapore.

Knight Frank's current report said that the number of HNWI decreased by 6 per cent globally last year, from 20,645 to 19,149.

To join the wealthiest 1 per cent in Vietnam, an UHNWI needs to have a net wealth of $160,000. Singapore is Asia’s highest entry, marginally ahead of Hong Kong, with the level of wealth required being $2.9 million and $2.8 million, respectively. South Korea and the Chinese mainland set the barrier at $1.2 million and $850,000, respectively.

With lower interest rates and more fiscal stimulus, asset prices have surged, driving the world’s UHNWI population 2.4 per cent higher over the past 12 months to more than 520,000. The process was seen across North America and Europe, but it was Asia with its 12 per cent growth that saw the real upswing. The expansion in wealth was not universal, with a fall in the number of UHNWIs in Latin America, Russia, and the Middle East as currency shifts and the pandemic undermined local economies.

The US is, and will remain, the world’s dominant wealth hub over the forecast period, but Asia will see the fastest growth in UHNWIs over the next five years, at 39 per cent compared with the 27 per cent global average. By 2025, Asia will host 24 per cent of all UHNWIs, up from 17 per cent a decade earlier. The region is already home to more billionaires than any other (36 per cent of the global total). The Chinese Mainland is the key to this phenomenon, with 246 per cent forecast growth in very wealthy residents in the decade to 2025.

Wealth Report pointed out that equities, which accounted for about a quarter of the portfolios of the super-rich, were a major driver of their wealth in 2020 as being in lockdown gave them time to better monitor the stock markets.

In March last year, most stock markets crashed by around 30 per cent, but they had since then bounced back, particularly in the US. The S&P 500, for instance, had rallied by 70 per cent.

“Anyone able to time equity sales or acquisitions in line with market movements would have benefited significantly,” the report said.

Securities firms rake in revenues after bumper year

Foreign and local stock brokerages closed 2020 with a blast, turning around the nosedive that opened the year due to optimism over vaccines, low interest rates, and appealing commission fees.

The momentum is expected to expand substantially this year, given the promise of Vietnam’s equity landscape. In the early part of last year, market volatilities and aggressive broad-based sell-off crippled the stock market, with the total after-tax profit of Vietnamese securities companies dropping 77 per cent on-year. However, hopes of an economic recovery have boosted brokerages’ profits, with the year seeing the highest number of new account openings.

Viet Dragon Securities Corporation recorded a record loss of VND88 billion ($3.83 million) in the first quarter of 2020, mainly from proprietary trading. However, the prospect of effective vaccines returning life to normal is injecting hope into the global and domestic equity market.

By the end of 2020, Viet Dragon Securities recorded total revenues of VND456 billion ($19.83 million), up 45 per cent against the initial plan. The firm’s after-tax profit reached VND144 billion ($6.26 million), equal to 400 per cent of the yearly plan and 424 per cent of the figure from 2019. This was also the highest profit that it had achieved since its establishment.

Meanwhile, Saigon Securities Corporation, Vietnam’s largest brokerage in terms of market share, reported 43.4 per cent higher revenue growth in 2020 than the year before. Its pre-tax profit also rallied by 54.4 per cent, reaching VND1.565 trillion ($68.04 million)

After several COVID-19 vaccines proved effective in recent months, almost the entire stock market started showing signs that an economic recovery is on the way.

As the State Bank of Vietnam remains firm on keeping a low interest rate to help the economy weather the storm, investors vigorously seek for higher returns from riskier assets, such as stocks or corporate bonds. In addition, both Vietnamese and foreign brokerages have provided customers with attractive margin lending rates, as well as low or zero commission fees.

Vu Nam Huong, CFO of VNDIRECT Securities, said the company has achieved positive results for its core revenue segments like transaction fee collection, margin lending, proprietary trading, and derivative securities. In the fourth quarter of 2020, VNDIRECT generated revenues of VND721.6 billion ($31.37 million), up 96 per cent against the corresponding period in the previous year. Its after-tax profit reached VND242.9 billion ($10.56 million), an increase of 73 per cent on-year.

Elsewhere, VPS Securities JSC achieved revenues of VND1.22 trillion ($53 million) and after-tax profit of VND133.5 billion ($5.8 million) in the fourth quarter of 2020 alone, slight increases of 0.62 and 15.03 per cent on-year, respectively. This has led to VPS recording stable income from securities brokerage in the quarter, especially in derivative securities.

Saigon-Hanoi Securities JSC also posted positive performance. According to its fourth-quarter financial statement, the company achieved operating revenues in 2020 of VND683.8 billion ($29.73 million), more than three times the figure of 2019. Meanwhile, its after-tax profit reached VND348.6 billion ($15.16 million), more than 9.6 times than a year earlier.

Ho Chi Minh City Securities Corporation recorded a net revenue of VND514 billion ($22.35 million) and after-tax profit of VND137 billion ($5.96 million) in the fourth quarter, up 54 and 8 per cent, respectively. In 2020, the firm achieved VND1.59 trillion ($69.13 million) in revenues, an increase of 26 per cent compared to the whole of 2019.

Agribank Securities JSC (AGR) also achieved more than VND120 billion ($5.2 million) of profit, equalling 140 per cent of its initial forecast. Along with that, AGR shares also surged by more than 300 per cent since the furious fall into a bear market in March, making it one of the five stocks with the strongest increase during the year.

VietinBank Securities JSC meanwhile recorded a profit of VND128.18 billion ($5.57 million) for the whole year thanks to a sudden bump in the final quarter.

Elsewhere, an influx of foreign-invested brokerages, especially from South Korea and Taiwan, has also pushed the expansion of international know-how and standards as demand increased dramatically. For instance, Mirae Asset Securities Vietnam is currently the largest margin-trading brokerage, the second-largest firm in terms of charter capital and total assets, and among the top 7 in terms of market share. Its profit in 2020 reached VND500 billion ($21.7 million), from VND376 billion ($16.3 million) in 2019.

KB Securities Vietnam – a subsidiary of South Korean financial behemoth KB Group – reported its profit in 2020 reaching VND168 billion ($7.3 million), up around 60 per cent on-year.

Meanwhile, KIS Securities from South Korea also achieved VND207 billion ($9 million) in profit last year, equivalent to a nearly 63-per-cent-increase compared to 2019.

Kwangju Bank also plans to raise JB Securities Vietnam’s charter capital to VND 600 billion ($26.1 million). In 2019, the South Korean lender Kwangju Bank purchased Morgan Stanley’s Vietnam-based subsidiary Morgan Stanley Gateway Securities JSC for VND382.4 billion ($16.63 million).

After acquiring An Nam Securities, Shinhan Vietnam Securities also boosted its activities with a capital hike to VND812.6 billion ($35.3 million). Shinhan is now planning to raise more funds to capitalise on the Vietnamese market. Experts said ultra-low interest rates in South Korea have pushed brokerages to find another promising land.

Public investment a strong pillar for economic growth

Amid the health crisis hurting the domestic economy where private investment remains difficult to attract, Vietnam will continue beefing up public investment in a bid to hit its economic growth goal for this year.
On March 2, the government enacted a resolution to implement the National Assembly Standing Committee’s Resolution No.1213/NQ-UBTVQH14 dated February 2 on turning the investment form of the two sections of National Road 45-Nghi Son (43km) and Nghi Son-Dien Chau (50km) from public-private partnership (PPP) into public investment. These two sections are parts of the eastern cluster of the North-South Expressway project which is considered to be vital to transport and traffic in the economy.

Earlier, in June 2020, the National Assembly Standing Committee also converted the construction of three out of eight expressway projects, which are also parts of the eastern cluster of the North-South Expressway project, from PPP into public investment. These three projects, whose construction has been expedited, are Mai Son-National Highway No.45 (63.4km), Vinh Hao-Phan Thiet (106km), and Phan Thiet-Dau Giay (98km).

According to the Project Management Unit No.6 under the Ministry of Transport, the shift from PPP into public investment for these projects will help boost the disbursement of public investment, lure private investment, and spur on local production, as well as generate employment for local labourers. This will also help expand economic growth rate, which the government is targeted at 6.5% for this year.

Last November, the National Assembly passed a plan for boosting public investment for 2021. Accordingly, total capital from the state budget for 2021 will be VND477.3 trillion (US$20.75 billion), up 1.4% against the similar plan for 2020. In which, money from the central budget will increase 0.9% year-on-year, and money from the local coffers will climb 1.9% year-on-year.

The VND477.3 trillion (US$20.75 billion) public investment capital will be used for many types of projects. For instance, as much as VND16 trillion (US$695.65 million) will be earmarked for national target programmes, some VND15.038 trillion (US$653.82 million) will go to the project on constructing the North-South Expressway; VND4.66 trillion (US$202.6 million) will be used for the project on land compensation and resettlement for the Long Thanh International Airport; about VND2.8 trillion (US$121.74 million) will be for developing coastal roads; and around 4.7 trillion (US$204.34 million) for supporting localities in deploying a number of key new infrastructure projects.

According to the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI), in 2021, these new investment capital sums, in addition to capital attracted from private investors, will help to complete the construction of the eastern cluster of the North-South Expressway project, the national coastal road line, connection road lines, airports, and seaports.

An MPI leader stated that in the context of numerous difficulties induced by the health crisis, expanding public investment “will be among the most feasible measures to develop the economy and facilitate it to reach the economic growth in 2021.”

“Normally it would take several years to complete procedures for a PPP project, so public investment is now a more feasible solution,” he said.

According to the Asian Development Bank, the government should accelerate public investment as one of the key pillars for economic growth in this year and beyond.

Figures from the Ministry of Finance showed that by late 2020, close to VND390 trillion (US$16.95 billion), tantamount to 82.8% of the plan allocated, was disbursed. This has been the highest disbursement rate in the 2016-2020 period – with 80.3% in 2016, 73.3% in 2017, 66.87% in 2018, and 67.46% in 2019.

Reality has shown that since early 2020, a slew of state-funded projects, mostly infrastructure ones, have come into operation, facilitating national socio-economic development.

For example, in early January 2021, the first-phase construction for the Long Thanh International Airport project in Dong Nai province was kicked off. The port is estimated to cost VND336.63 trillion (US$14.64 billion), with over VND109 trillion (US$4.74 billion) to be needed for the first phase.

In another case, in October 2020 the 5.37 km Mai Dich-South Thang Long flyover at Pham Van Dong street in Hanoi was opened to traffic, helping reduce heavy traffic jams in the area.

Another project of the type was inaugurated in August 2020, costing about VND560 billion (US$24.3 million), crossing Hoang Quoc Viet and Nguyen Van Huyen streets in the capital city.

At the recent 13th National Party Congress in Hanoi, the Central Party Committee passed a hallmark report on assessing the results of the implementation of socio-economic development tasks for the 2016-2020 period and socio-economic development orientations and tasks for the 2021-2025 period. The report stated that public investment will be “effectively restructured and reduced in the total development capital structure.”

“Public investment will be concentrated into key sectors of the economy, key works and projects which have spillover effects and can create socio-economic development momentum, and create breakthroughs in wooing investment capital from local and foreign private sources under the PPP form,” the report stated.

According to the World Bank, Vietnam’s main instrument for macromonitoring has been the speedier implementation of the public investment programme, which has been plagued by slow disbursement in the last few years. As a result, total public investment disbursements increased from VND192 trillion (US$8.34 billion) in the first three quarters of 2019 to VND269 trillion (US$11.7 billion) during the same period in 2020 – a rise of 40%.

“Such effort, principally from the central government, has translated into an increase of investment expenditures from 4.8% of GDP to 6.5 of GDP between the first nine months of 2019 and 2020, supporting aggregate demand through the multiplier effects on suppliers and jobs over time,” stated a World Bank report on Vietnam’s economy 2020. “With any stimulus programme, the role of public investment is not just to directly stimulate the economy, but also to crowd in private investment.”

Vietnam’s economic growth hit 2.91% last year, significantly fueled by an expansion in public investment, which has helped create massive employment and consumed a great volume of materials and inputs in the economy, such as electricity, steel, and cement.

For example, figures from Electricity of Vietnam (EVN) showed that the group’s produced and imported electricity output in 2020 was 247.08 billion kWh, and its commercial electricity output reached 216.95 billion kWh, up 2.9 and 3.42%, respectively, as compared to 2019.

In the first 11 months of 2020, its public investment disbursement reached VND521.2 billion (US$22.66 million), hitting 73.6% against the initial plan allocated by the government.

According to the MPI, in such a number of big projects as the eastern cluster of the North-South Expressway project, the disbursed capital as of late December 2020 totalled VND9.96 trillion (US$433 million) out of VND10.8 trillion (US$470 million) for 11 sub-projects in last year, equal to 92.21%.

Some sub-projects (Cao Bo-Mai Son, Cam Lo-La Son, My Thuan 2 Bridge, and two leading roads) in public investment form expensed VND2.64 trillion (US$115 million) out of VND2.81 trillion (US$122 million) in 2020’s capital plan, tantamount to 94.18%.

HoSE’s raising of standard trading lot to 1,000 could bar small investors

If the Hochiminh Stock Exchange (HoSE) proceeds with its plan to raise the minimum volume of shares that can be traded in an order from 100 to 1,000 to address its trading system overload, it could leave huge negative impacts on small investors and prompt many of them to leave the bourse, according to experts and investors in the field.

Thao, the owner of an eatery in HCMC’s Thu Duc City, told VnExpress that she has topped-up VND20 million to her online trading account, which she opened just a couple of days ago and she planned to start trading on the southern bourse today, March 3.

However, last night, she learned that HoSE is weighing extending the size of the standard lot.

She originally wanted to purchase the stocks of four major businesses, namely Vinamilk, The Gioi Di Dong, Vingroup and Novaland. But if HoSE effects the change, she as an inexperienced investor could only buy stocks priced below VND20,000 with the amount of money, or has to have at least VND78 million to buy shares of the real estate developer Novaland or even over VND100 million for each of the other big stocks.

“Such amounts are too huge for new investors like me,” she told the paper.

Commenting on the issue, Dr. Tran Xuan Nam, chairman of Saonam Consulting Company, said that HoSE’s plan was going against a common trend under which the stock market is set to become a platform channeling long- and medium-term capital from the widespread public into the economy.

Nam added that the local stock market could experience a strong sell-off before the plan is executed. Further, the stock market operators would need a long time to regain the trust of and entice investors to rejoin the market.

Earlier, Le Hai Tra, general director of HoSE, shared the plan with the local media, saying that once the plan takes effect, small investors would receive better protection by investing in exchanged traded funds. Also, this would promote the growth of the fund management sector and increase the number of professional investors in line with the Government’s goal.

Further, the change in the standard trading lot could reduce some 50% in the number of trading orders, paving the way for the market turnover to reach higher levels, Tra said.

Expert suggests developing second airport for Hanoi area

The annual capacity of the Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi should be doubled to 50 million passengers as originally planned, and a second airport needs to be built in the southern part of the Hanoi City area, instead of doing research over a second airport in 2040, said an expert.

Architect Tran Ngoc Chinh, chairman of the Vietnam Urban Planning and Development Association, put forward this proposal at a conference held on March 3 on the national airport development plan in the 2021-2030 period, with a vision to 2050, reported Tuoi Tre Online.

Chinh said that if the Noi Bai airport’s capacity is raised to 100 million passengers per year, it is a must to build a metro line linking to the airport, develop two more ring roads and an elevated road above Vo Nguyen Giap street and other infrastucture facilities, which could spoil the capital city’s urban planning and lead to extremely dense traffic facing the north of the Red River.

Accordingly, he proposed developing the second airport in the southern part of Hanoi to promote the growth of this area.

Some locations such as Ung Hoa in Hanoi, Thanh Mien in Hai Duong Province and Phu Ly in Ha Nam Province could be considered to build the airport, Chinh suggested.

In response, Nguyen Bach Tung, deputy head of the Transport Engineering Construction and Quality Management Bureau, under the Transport Ministry, agreed with the suggestion to research an appropriate location to build the second airport in the Hanoi area.

HCMC implements seaport fee collection plan

The government of HCMC has executed a resolution on introducing levels of fees for using infrastructure facilities and public services at seaport terminals in the city, reported Phap Luat Online.

The municipal government asked the relevant agencies to implement the resolution effectively within their authority.

Earlier, the HCMC People’s Council passed a plan of the HCMC People’s Committee on collecting infrastructure fees at seaports, starting from July 1 this year.

According to the plan, the lowest fee is VND15,000 per ton and the highest is VND4.4 million for a 40-foot container.

Revenue from the seaport infrastructure fees will be contributed to the State budget. Fee collectors will take a maximum 1.5% of the total revenue.

The seaport fee collection is aimed at creating a budget to develop the road system near seaports, to ease traffic congestion and to enhance the goods transport capacity, contributing to the city’s development.

‘Workation’: The rise of a hybrid travel trend after the pandemic

According to the survey, 52% of Vietnamese travelers have already considered booking somewhere to stay in order to work from a different destination, while 57% would be willing to quarantine if they could work remotely.

A recently survey conducted by Booking.com showed that workcation looks set to form a key part of people future travels, at least for the next couple of years.

‘Workation’, as the word suggests, is ‘Work’ + ‘Vacation’ and involves working away from office, blending leisure with business. While not a completely new concept, it seems to garner the attention of travelers worldwide since the outbreak of Covid-19 last year that meant working from home was the new normal. 

According to the survey, 52% of Vietnamese travelers have already considered booking somewhere to stay in order to work from a different destination, while 57% would be willing to quarantine if they could work remotely.

“Remote working is becoming a likely long-term reality as health and safety is a top priority in the current environment,” Anthony Lu, Regional Director, Vietnam at Booking.com said.

He also predicts that instead of hotel, more work-friendly  accommodation alternatives, like homes and apartments will be on high demand by for both business and leisure travelers who are looking to work remotely.

In addition, more and more travelers think that having relaxing  while during a business trip is an essential, especially on the “new normal” of working  after Covid-19 pandemic.

Accordingly, 58% of Vietnamese travelers on the survey said they would take the opportunity to extend any business trip so that they could schedule some leisure time. Many are also likely to add a week or two to their holiday in order to work remotely.

Although working from one’s own home has its perks in the coming time, people still want to book somewhere to stay for a welcome change of scenery.

Laptops become the newest travel necessity of 2021, with 61% agreeing that due to the increase in working from home and reliance on technology, business travel will be considered less essential than before. Instead, “workation” may become more prevalent and preferable. 

These travelers are mostly looking for accommodation that has home office facilities, fast WiFi and most importantly, a spectacular view or cozy area to help make the workday fly by. Good health and safety precautions at each destination is again a top priority. It is tough to focus on work if our mind is caught up with safety or security concerns around the property.

“There is always a way to jazz up work and yet achieve your travel passion, now more than ever. Travelers could now set themselves free from the long-working time of nine hours for five consecutive days at the office because they can work from anywhere,” experts from Booking.com said. 

Vietnam holds potential to become new destination for global investors

Vietnam is currently home to 100 Swiss firms with a combined investment capital of nearly US$2 billion, including major names such as Nestle, Novatis, Roche, Holcim, and ABB.

Given the country’s positive progress in global economic integration, Vietnam holds potential to become new destination for global investors.

Vietnamese Ambassador to Switzerland Le Linh Lan made the statement in an online conference discussing Vietnam’s market economy on March 2 to mark the 50th anniversary of Vietnam-Switzerland diplomatic relation (1971-2021).

“While the global economy fell into a recession, Vietnam’s effective measures against the Covid-19 pandemic has helped the local economy maintained a positive growth of 2.9% in 2020,” noted Lan.

“The country’s strong efforts in digitalizing its economy and the technology competent workforce are plus points,” she continued.

Echoing Lan’s view, Trade Counsellor of Vietnam Nguyen Duc Thuong noted Vietnam has a huge network of industrial parks nationwide and extensive economic partnership with over 50 economies around the world, making the country an attractive investment destination.

According to Thuong, Switzerland is one of Vietnam’s major trading partners and its sixth largest European investor, for which 100 Swiss firms are currently operating in the country with a combined investment capital of nearly US$2 billion, focusing on manufacturing and processing, electricity.

International Business Advisor of consulting firm Dezan Shira & Associates Filippo Bortoletti said 112 countries and territories are having investment projects in Vietnam, while opportunities continue to arise given the country opening up for more business fields from electronic technology, chemicals to material production.

Marketing Manager of Vietnam-Singapore Industrial Park (VSIP) Nguyen Chi Toan attributed the country’s political stability, a large market and high-skilled labor force as factors to help attract FDI.

“There has been a shift in customer behavior towards online platform, which contributes to the digital transformation process,” he suggested.

Giving a more detail look on the operation of Swiss companies in Vietnam, Supply Chain Director of Nestle Vietnam Will Mackereth said the company is employing nearly 4,000 workers and remains among top three most efficient branches of the corporation worldwide.

According to Mackereth, Vietnam is one of Asian hubs for production and trade.

Two co-founders of The Happy Turtle Straw of Axel Armellin-Nguyen and Nhat Vuong said more local customers are turning to green products, which create room for the company to expand other green product lines of shoes and face masks made from coffee slurry, or straw, knives and forks from bamboo.

Slow digital transformation might mean bankruptcy for small-scaled businesses
 
Covid-19 pandemic has been negatively affecting business activities and retarding the digital transformation process in several small- and middle-scaled enterprises. However, an effort of speeding up this necessary process might prevent them from possible bankruptcy in the future.

Dr. Nguyen Quang Trung from the Business and Administration Department of RMIT University firmly stated that digital transformation is vital to almost all businesses in this Industry 4.0 era.

The digital transformation process normally takes place under the two forms of implementing digital technologies into the existing business model or completely reforming the operation model and business structure.

Dr. Trung shared that even though digital transformation has appeared in the world for over 10 years, most companies choose the form as a situational solution only.

A recent research co-conducted by RMIT University experts and KPMG Audit Co. reveals that foreign-invested enterprises and large private corporations in Vietnam are going through this process smoothly. Sadly, state businesses and small- and middle-scaled enterprises are just at the beginning stage.

Adding to this tardiness are the adverse effects of Covid-19 pandemic on business activities, creating several challenges in administration performance.

Finally, among small- and middle-scaled enterprises, there are always obstacles from weak competitiveness ability, low creativity, difficulties in approaching capital sources, and high overhead cost.

“These issues might lead to even more trouble if each business and the Government do not apply suitable policies to tackle”, said Dr. Trung.

He firmly stated that implementing digital technologies is unavoidable if enterprises want to maintain their operation in this Industry 4.0, and this should be done as soon as possible.

Even in this harsh time, there are more and more novel business models related to digital technologies appearing worldwide. Admittedly, various kinds of trouble are preventing many companies from carrying out the digital transformation process. However, worse than the pandemic itself, slowness in applying these new models would no doubt lead many small businesses to bankruptcy.

Insiders make suggestions to maintain sustainable export growth

Vietnamese enterprises should take advantage of online marketing channels, re-arrange production and business orientations and strategies, and bring into full play advantages brought by free trade agreements if they want to achieve sustainable export growth, according to insiders.

Statistics of the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) shows that Vietnam’s import-export value reached 95.8 billion USD in the first two months of 2021, up 24.5 percent year-on-year. Of the total, exports were valued at 48.55 billion USD, up 23.2 percent, and imports 47.26 billion USD, up 25.9 percent.

During January-February, Vietnam enjoyed a trade surplus of 1.29 billion USD, down from the 1.8 billion USD seen in the same period last year. The domestic sector posted a trade deficit of 4.14 billion USD, while the FDI sector, including crude oil, saw a trade surplus of 5.43 billion USD.

At the Government’s February regular meeting, MoIT Minister Tran Tuan Anh set a target of 4-5 percent in export growth in 2021.

To that end, MoIT Deputy Minister Cao Quoc Hung said that the ministry is considering a new strategy on import-export activities in the coming time to be submitted to the Prime Minister for issuance.

In addition, the ministry will continue engaging in negotiations and perfecting relevant institutions on free trade agreements (FTAs), including issues related to the rule of origins so as to help business better optimize advantages of the agreements.

It will also consolidate and expand export markets, bring into full play opportunities brought about by existing FTAs, diversify import and export markets, diversify exported products, increase the competitiveness of exported products, and develop brands so as to achieve sustainable export development, Hung added./.

Hanoi licenses 22 new FDI projects in February

A total of 22 foreign investment projects were granted new licenses in Hanoi during February, with a combined registered capital of U$12.1 million, according to information released at a recent press conference held by the municipal People's Committee.

The opening two months of the year witnessed the total registered capital of newly established FDI projects and additionally increased capital projects reach a sum of US$58.9 million.

Furthermore, the capital has allowed two domestic investment projects to make use of non-budget capital, with newly registered capital and increased capital reaching VND2.879 billion.

Most notably, the reviewed period saw roughly 3,415 enterprises being established, with registered capital reaching VND36.6 billion, a decline of 8% in terms of the number of enterprises and a 54% fall in registered capital compared to the same period from last year.

Despite being affected by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the economic situation in the capital has yielded a number of positive results, including many outstanding indexes being recorded throughout the two-month period.

The total state budget revenue in the capital by the end of February stood at VND50.839 billion, accounting for 20.2% of the estimate.

Moreover, both January and February witnessed the strong recovery of export and import activities, with export turnover in February posting a year-on-year rise of 10.7%.

Banks plan to attract foreign capital

A number of banks continue planning to raise capital this year to improve their financial capacity and many have already deployed plans to attract more foreign capital.

The shareholders of Viet Capital Bank have approved the plan to issue additional shares of up to a maximum of VND1 trillion ($43.5 million) in the first quarter.

At the same time, the bank has just closed the list of shareholders whose written opinions will be requested on the plan to set the maximum foreign ownership limit at 30 per cent to attract additional foreign capital while improving financial capacity and competitiveness.

Nam A Bank is implementing a plan to increase its charter capital to VND7 trillion ($304.35 million), including a plan to issue 57 million shares, equivalent to VND570 billion ($24.8 million), to pay dividends at the rate of 12.4878 per cent and offer for sale 143 million individual shares, equivalent to VND1.43 trillion ($62.17 million).

In addition, the bank is also completing the application to list shares on the Ho Chi Minh City Stock Exchange (HSX), instead of trading on the UpCom where it is traded at around VND14,200 (62 US cents).

Orient Commercial Bank (OCB) said that the bank plans to sell another 10 per cent of its shares to foreign investors after completing the deal to sell a 15 per cent to Aozora Bank from Japan in June 2020.

Sacombank (SCB) also said that they continue to improve their financial capacity and competitiveness. Accordingly, the bank has submitted to an extraordinary general meeting a plan to increase charter capital by VND5 trillion ($217.4 million) at the end of 2020. The move has increased its charter capital from VND15.23 trillion to VND20.23 trillion ($662.17-879.57 million).

Previously, Sacombank also announced that it was negotiating with foreign strategic partners to sell part of its capital in order to improve its financial potential after completing the restructuring and listing on the stock exchange.

According to the provisions of Decree No.01/2014/ND-CP, the ownership ratio of a foreign strategic investor must not exceed 20 per cent of the charter capital of a Vietnamese credit institution, and the total share ownership ratio of foreign investors in a domestic credit institution must not exceed 30 per cent of capital.

Currently, many Vietnamese banks are looking to fill up their foreign ownership rooms. At restructuring banks or the three zero-dong banks, foreign partners can buy 100 per cent of the capital with the consent of the government.

On the other hand, according to the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA), European banks will be able to increase their shareholding rate in two Vietnamese banks to up to 49 per cent without waiting for a decision to increase the foreign ownership limit. This commitment does not apply to the four state-run banks of BIDV, VietinBank, Vietcombank, and Agribank.

Ho Chi Minh City urges on 32 long-delayed real estate projects

At a recent meeting between Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee and real estate developers, 32 long-delayed projects by 21 developers were discussed to bring about breakthroughs in development. 

Projects from many giant developers were on the list, including Novaland Group, Him Lam Land, Quoc Cuong Gia Lai, SonKim Land, SaigonRes, and Hung Loc Phat which have been in a prolonged deadlock for various reasons.

Novaland had the largest number of projects under discussion by the central and local authorities, with 10 of the 32 projects bearing their logo. These projects include Co Giang apartment building in District 1, the officetel and apartment building at 151 Ben Van Don Street in District 4, a 30 hectare project in Binh Khanh commune of District 2, and seven other projects in Phu Nhuan district.

The Co Giang apartment building in District 1 was handed over land by Ho Chi Minh City People's Committee and the local Department of Construction has granted a construction licence for the project.

The officetel and apartment building at 151 Ben Van Don Street in District 4 has already been approved for land use right taxation.

In the 30ha project in Binh Khanh commune of District 2, legal procedures are being reviewed together with the larger project of Thu Thiem New Urban Area (where this project is located). At the same time, the local authorities are looking for solutions to help achieve a breakthrough at the project.

Seven other projects are being reviewed by local authorities.

Him Lam Land's Him Lam residential project in District 9 (Thu Duc City) and Saigonres' two projects were also on the agenda for having legal difficulties. Le Thanh Construction-Trading Co., Ltd. and Phu Long Real Estate Corporation have two projects each.

According to Le Hoang Chau, chairman of the Ho Chi Minh City Real Estate Association, the key problems of those projects are mainly related to the slow process of calculating land use rights. Because of this, developers cannot pay tax and be approved for construction and granting red books to buyers.

Representing the developers, Chau suggested Ho Chi Minh City People's Committee to issue guidelines to pave the way for projects which include public land. These projects have been delayed for a long time as they consist of small land plots under the management of the state and they cannot get the whole project cleared for construction.

“Local authorities should consider these projects case by case and submit their proposals to the committee to collect the public land plots and hand them over to developers,” Chau said.

Other solutions proposed included removing administrative procedures, setting out a priority list to grant red books to end-users as soon as possible.

He also suggested the committee to set up City Architect Consultant Bureau which can help solve prolonged delays.

The committee’s chairman Nguyen Thanh Phong assigned local authorities to submit a report on each project, talking with developers to ensure their projects can recommence at the soonest.

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

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