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VIETNAM BUSINESS NEWS MAY 15

Pork imports from Russia soar ten-fold

Pork imports from Russia surged over 1,000% in the first quarter of this year, making Russia the biggest supplier of pork to Vietnam, according to the General Department of Vietnam Customs.

Data of the department showed that in the first three months of 2021, Vietnam imported 16,550 tons of pork worth US$44.85 million from Russia, soaring 1,116% in volume and 1,002% in value compared with the same period last year.

In total, the country imported 169,290 tons of meat of all kinds worth US$337.18 million in the first quarter, rising 0.5% in volume and 22.4% in value year-on-year.

The figure included 34,650 tons of pork worth over US$80 million, increasing 101.4% in volume and 102.3% in value year-on-year.

Vietnam has increased the imports of pork since late 2019 due to the short supply of pork caused by the African swine fever (ASF).

ASF significantly reduced the country’s pig herd last year, resulting in soaring pork prices. As of September 2020, ASF outbreaks were reported in some 200 communes of 19 cities and provinces nationwide.

Late last month, a herd of pigs at a farm in Lao Bao Town in the north-central province of Quang Tri’s Huong Hoa District tested positive for ASF. The Lao Bao Town government quickly worked with veterinary officers and other relevant departments to cull the herd of pigs.

Le Ba Hung, chairman of Lao Bao Town, said that ASF outbreaks re-emerged in the locality after two years. To minimize the damage caused and losses to farmers, the local authorities have asked farming households to adopt drastic anti-ASF measures.

At present, India, the United States, Russia, Poland and Brazil are the five biggest providers of meat to Vietnam.

In terms of pork, Russia, Canada, Brazil, Poland and Denmark are Vietnam’s largest suppliers. Russia accounts for nearly 48% of Vietnam’s pork imports.

Some businesses said one of the reasons for the surge in pork imports from Russia is that more Russian pork processing plants have been allowed to export pork to Vietnam.

Vietnam trade ministry proposes tightening steel exports 

The important issue is to have long-term solutions to balance supply-demand and enhance production capabilities of local steel firms, said an expert.

Amid soaring steel prices, the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) is set to propose tightening exports of steel products that are in hot demand domestically.

Meanwhile, the ministry would help speed up the construction of steel plants in a move to boost domestic steel production.

“For certain steel products with high price volatility, the MoIT suggests the government to lower preferential import tariffs,” it noted.

Regarding this issue, Deputy Director of the Tax Policy Department under the Ministry of Finance (MoF) Truong Ba Tuan, urged a cautious approach is needed if the government is to revise existing import duty for finished steel products, saying this is important to ensure sustainable development of the local steel industry.

Tuan attributed the rising steel prices to a surge in steel ingots of 37-39% in the global market against last October, which came as a result of rising demand for steel from the Chinese market.

In April, prices of steel ingots increased by US$50-55 per ton against the previous month, while those of in the domestic market rose by VND1,450 per kilogram.

The situation is not helped by resumption of construction activities in major cities in the first quarter of this year, including Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, as the government continues to push for public investment.

Since January, steel producers announced their new pricing policies by an increase of VND300-900 per kilogram for steel products. Such increases later rose to VND1,600-1,700 for a kilogram in April, taking prices for steel products at plant from VND16,200-17,800 (US$0.71-0.78) per kilogram (not included 10% VAT and commission fees).

According to Tuan, to support domestic steel firms, the import duty under the most-favored-nation (MFN) status for input materials of steel production are set at 0-3% depending on each type of product.

“Low import duty for input materials help local steel firms reduce their operational cots and expand businesses,” he said.

In terms of finished steel products for the construction, the preferential import rates are in range of 15-20%, mainly imported from China and India.

Vietnam is also members of 14 free trade agreements, including in the ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement (ATIGA), Vietnam-Japan Free Trade Agreement (VJFTA), and Vietnam-South Korea Free Trade Agreement (VKFTA), whereby import duties have been set at low levels.

“Current import duties are in line with local laws, the current development of the steel industry and Vietnam’s commitments in different trade agreements,” said Tuan.

Instead of revising the import tariff, Tuan suggested Vietnam could modify the self-protection duties on steel ingots and construction steel products to lower prices.

At present, tariff on imported steel ingots is set at 13.3% and expected to be reduced to 11.3% by March 22, 2022. For long steel products, the rate is determined in phases, with the current rate of 7.9% and going down to 6.4% in March 2022.

“The important issue would be to have long-term solutions to balance supply-demand and enhance production capabilities of local steel firms,” Tuan stressed.

Dang Cong Khoi, deputy director of the Price Management under the Ministry of Finance, said every month, the consumer price index, a gauge for inflation, could further expand by 0.66% while the inflation remains below 4% target.

“However, inflationary pressure would continue to rise amid growing input material prices for production,” Khoi noted.

 

Bộ máy nhà nước và đòi hỏi từ cuộc sống-1

 

Hanoi’s office market increasingly attractive to foreign tenants: Savills Hanoi

Hanoi’s office market is said to be more attractive than its counterparts in other Southeast Asian cities and even in the Asia-Pacific region because of cheaper rentals and greater supply, according to real estate consultants Savills Hanoi.

It is also believed to possess the factors necessary for it to develop further in the future.

According to the director of Savills Hanoi, Matthew Powell, Vietnam is a target market of multinational companies, especially those operating in technology, financial services, and life insurance.

Hoang Nguyet Minh, commercial leasing director at Savills Hanoi, said the capital welcomed three Grade A office projects in the fourth quarter of 2020 and the first quarter in 2021 - Capital Place, with 93,000 sq m, Thaiholdings Tower with 23,000 sq m, and Leadvisors Tower with 18,000 sq m.

Occupancy at Grade A buildings stood at over 80 percent in the period, she added.

As of the end of the first quarter of this year, the total office area available for leasing in the market amounted to more than 2 million sq m, a 10 percent increase year-on-year.

Grade A posted the highest growth, of 24 percent, while the figure for Grade B was 9 percent.

Foreign direct investment (FDI) directly influences the number of foreign tenants and has been on the rise in recent years, except in 2020.

Vietnam attracted 38 billion USD in FDI in 2019 - the highest in a decade - then 28.5 billion USD last year. The figure for the first quarter was 10.13 billion USD, up 18.5 percent year-on-year.

Over 70 percent of tenants in Hanoi are local businesses and those from Japan, the Republic of Korea, the US, and Singapore, and the figure is predicted to continue to increase in the time to come./.

Ha Noi to have a modern logistics centre

Ha Noi plans to turn the Long Bien inland container depot (ICD) into a modern logistics centre with a complete chain to meet the increasing demand for logistics services.

A representative of Hateco, the investor and operator of Long Bien ICD, said this dry port has a total area of ​​120,000 sq.m operating 24/7 with a capacity of receiving more than 100 container trucks at the same time. It has warehouses, a distribution centre for goods and an express delivery centre.

The Long Bien ICD is also recognised as a customs clearance location for export and import of goods. Imported goods will be transported directly to Long Bien ICD and open declarations to help businesses save time, optimise costs, reduce contact points and congestion at seaports.

Accordingly, goods are imported through international road border gates, international railway stations, international airports and seaports and then transferred from the border gate to Long Bien ICD for customs clearance. They are goods on the list of imported goods subject to customs procedures at the import border gate, excluding aircraft, yachts; gasoline; explosive precursors and industrial explosives.

The Ministry of Finance said with a convenient location for traffic, Long Bien ICD connects to a system of seaports, airports, and land border gates from north to south and is located 100km from Hai Phong port, 122km from Lach Huyen port, 26km from Noi Bai International Airport, and 126km from the Chinese border.

It is also a gateway to key industrial zones in the North with convenient traffic and is easy to connect with many northern provinces and cities such as Hung Yen, Hai Duong, Hai Phong, Bac Ninh, Quang Ninh and Thai Nguyen.

This will be a lever to reduce pressure on seaports and border gates, turning Long Bien ICD into a centralised point for handling all logistics services according to the needs of businesses.

According to the Vietnam Logistics Business Association (VLA), in recent years the logistics industry growth rate has reached about 14-16 per cent to US$20-22 billion per year, accounting for nearly 20.9 per cent of the national GDP.

Despite the high growth rate, logistics costs account for a large proportion in the product cost structure. For example, Chairman of Minh Phu Group Le Van Quang said that transporting a container from Viet Nam to Japan costs VND16 million, but from HCM City to Ha Noi costs VND80 million.

Logistics is one of the factors that determines the import and export competitiveness of Viet Nam. Therefore, if logistics services including warehousing, order processing and transportation, are not linked, costs will increase, affecting the competitiveness of enterprises.

With complete infrastructure and diversified services at the Long Bien ICD, businesses distributing high-value goods, cross-border e-commerce goods and raw materials such as high-end fashion, cosmetics, production accessories and plastic resins will reduce logistics costs.

This is also the premise for Hateco to develop cross-border e-commerce logistics and retail services. 

Export of vegetables and fruits continues to climb in four months despite pandemic

Exporting fruit and vegetables brought Viet Nam US$1.35 billion in the first four months of this year, up 9.5 per cent year-on-year, data of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s Agro Processing and Market Development Authority (Agrotrade) showed.

The figure in April alone was estimated at $380 million, equivalent to the value recorded in March.

Mainland China remained the top importer of Viet Nam's fruit and vegetables in the first quarter with 64.7 per cent of total export value. Vegetables and fruit shipped to this market reached $610.8 million in the first three months, up 16.2 per cent year-on-year.

Ukraine witnessed the strongest growth with export value increasing nearly seven fold over the same period last year. In contrast, exports to Saudi Arabia suffered the steepest decline in export value with a fall of 62 per cent.

Viet Nam’s staple items including dragon fruit, mangoes, bananas, coconuts, jackfruit, lemons and watermelon enjoyed growth of between 3 per cent and 63 per cent, the authority reported.

Import value of fruit and vegetables reached $100 million in April, lifting the four-month import value to over $451 million, up 19.5 per cent over the same period of last year.

China, the United States and Myanmar were the three largest suppliers of fruit and vegetables for Viet Nam in the first quarter. Except the United States, which saw a drop of 5.9 per cent in import value, imports from China and Myanmar increased 59.6 per cent and 35.1 per cent, respectively.

COVID-19 has negatively affected Viet Nam's export of vegetables, fruits and processed products. However, the second quarter is the peak time of hot weather, so fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables will see consumption rise.

According to Agrotrade, Viet Nam has done rather well in exporting vegetables and fruits and is promoting the export of fruits and nuts. In the first months, several types of fruits and nuts saw increases in export value such as macadamia nuts, walnuts, longans, mangoes, bananas, tamarinds and coconuts, especially to Taiwan. However, the proportion of these products remained modest in the total export value, not matching with development potential of the industry.

“This is a group of products with competitive advantages and help to increase export value,” Agrotrade said.

High profits from dragon fruit and pinapple

According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, pineapples and dragon fruit are in season and being purchased at high prices by traders.

In Quang Nam Province, prices of pineapple purchased at the garden ranged from VND8,000-VND10,000 ($0.34-0.43) per kilo, nearly twice as high as in previous years. To avoid risks, in recent years, local farmers have practiced the spread of cultivation, not harvesting once to avoid dead stock.

Meanwhile in Tien Giang Province, dragon fruit is off-season in April so the price of red flesh dragon fruit is also high, being purchased at VND25,000 ($1.1) per kilo at the garden. With this price, farmers can earn a profit of over VND15,000/kg.

In the first months of 2021, farming activities took place in favourable conditions compared to the same period last year. Some summer fruits began to be harvested such as Son La plum, U Hong and U Trung lychee in the Central Highlands and mangoes in the Mekong Delta region. High demand is pushing up prices of these fruits. 

Speedier privatization process of state firms - a key for social advancement

During the 2016-2020 period, only 39 were sold on the Government's list of 128 must-be-privatized SOEs in 2020, meeting just 30% of the target.

A speedier privatization process of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) would be key to boost their efficiency, in turn contributing to economic development, social advancement and equality.

The Ministry of Finance (MoF) made the view clear as it referred to the ongoing process of drafting a legal framework for SOEs restructuring process in the 2021-2025 period.

During the 2016-2020 period, only 39 were sold on the Government's list of 128 must-be-privatized SOEs in 2020, meeting just 30% of the target.

Among the remaining SOEs that are required for privatization, those in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City make up 54% of the total, including 13 in the capital city and 38 in the country’s southern hub. The others include six managed by the Committee for State Capital Management (CSCM), four under the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT), and two under the Ministry of Construction (MoC).

The MoF expressed concern that none in the list has made significant progress in the privatization process during the first four months of this year, while SOEs have divested a total VND286.6 billion (US$12.37 million) in book value for VND2.16 trillion (US$93.3 million) in proceeds in January-April.

The ministry attributed the slow progress in privatization and divestment of SOEs to the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as a lack of commitment from localities and SOEs in complying with the PM’s instruction for SOE restructuring.

To further speed up the privatization process, the MoF urged SOEs under the list to review their restructuring processes and identifies difficulties in privatization and state capital divestment.

“The focus should be to deal with 12 loss-making projects formerly under the administration of the Ministry of Industry and Trade,” noted the MoF. As of last October, total accumulated losses of 12 projects had reached VND26.3 trillion (US$1.14 billion).

According to the MoF, state firms are requested to list share on the stock market following the completion of the privatization process.

“Leaders at SOEs having not gone public would be subject to disciplinary measures,” noted the ministry.

According to the MoF, some large SOEs are facing difficulties in business valuation, including Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications Group (VNPT), Vietnam National Chemical Group, Vietnam National Coal – Mineral Industries, MobiFone, and Vietnam Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Agribank).

Vietnam may have 28 airports by 2030 

Proposals to build new airports in a series of provinces are rejected under the airport planning.

Vietnam will have 28 domestic and international airports nationwide by 2030 and one more, Cao Bang airport, by 2050 according to the recent proposal submitted by the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) to the Ministry of Transport (MoT) in early May.

Under the latest report on the national airport planning appraisal, the number of airports remains unchanged compared to the previous planning. 

“The proposed number of airports has been carefully considered, based on international experiences and the current situation as well as the socio-economic development strategy of Vietnam,” said Nguyen Anh Dung, Deputy Director of the Department of Planning and Investment under the MoT. 

Proposals to have new airports in a series of provinces of Ha Giang, Bac Giang, Ninh Binh, Binh Phuoc, and Ha Tinh have been rejected since they fail to meet requirements of the CAAV and its consultant. 

Currently, non-hub airports, which are serving less than two million passengers per year, are making losses. It is not financially efficient to build airports if the distance between them is less than 100km, Dung added. 

Dr. Ngo Tri Long, a local economist, said airport construction must be based on actual conditions, with very strict criteria including market needs,   security and national defense as well as natural conditions.  

“The investment in building an airport is very expensive. We need to carefully calculate the airport planning based on real needs, economic effects, and social impacts,” Long told Hanoitimes. 

Sharing the same point of view, Dr. Nguyen Bach Tung, an aviation expert, assessed that most of the domestic airports have not yet reached the designed capacity. Some airports often have no passengers in the early stages such as Van Don island in the northern province of Quang Ninh and Cantho city. 

“Therefore, the efficiency of airport investment should be carefully considered,” Tung told Hanoitimes. 

In the planning appraisal report, the CAAV also proposed to build Haiphong international airport in Tien Lang district as an alternate airport to Noi Bai international airport in Hanoi. 

A representative from Tedi, an airport planning consultant, agreed with the CAAV’s proposal. Based on data on economic growth and capacity of existing airports, until 2040, it is not necessary to consider building a second airport in the capital area.   

"After 2040, depending on the demand for growth of passengers in the capital area, the authorities will decide officially whether to build the second airport in the capital region in Tien Lang or not", Tedi representative said.

Vietnam looks to expand aquatic exports amid COVID-19 pandemic

Vietnam is expected to make breakthroughs in exporting aquatic products in the coming time thanks to its good performance of biological safety, and benefits brought by free trade agreements (FTAs), according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The ministry reported that Vietnam’s agro-forestry-aquatic product export turnover hit about 17.15 billion USD in the first four months of 2021, up 24.2 percent year-on-year. Of which, earnings from seafood exports reached 2.39 billion USD, up 6.1 percent.

Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Phung Duc Tien attributed the positive results to Vietnam’s sustainable agricultural ecosystem and strict management of biosecurity.

Vietnam has 815 shrimp enterprises, 200 tra fish businesses and 125 other companies operating the fishery sector. Vietnamese aquatic products have been exported to many major markets such as the European Union (EU) and the US. Recently, the US has re-inspected Vietnamese tra fish and the results showed that the product still meets the criteria set by the US.

The country is also exerting efforts to fully tap opportunities to further promote its agro-aquatic product exports to the EU.

If the COVID-19 pandemic is controlled, the ministry will kick start export of aquatic products to the UK within the framework of the UK – Vietnam FTA (UKVFTA), which officially took effect from May 1, and expand exports to the Middle East, and the Republic of Korea (RoK), Tien said.

Vietnam’s aquatic exports are projected to post a year-on-year rise of 10 percent to 2.1 billion USD in the second quarter of 2021.

The country aims to earn 980 million USD and 816 million USD from exporting shrimps and seafood products in the period, up 10 percent and 9.6 percent, respectively.

The growths of shrimp and tra fish exports will depend mainly on market fluctuations, Tien noted, affirming that more positive signals are projected for Vietnam’s shrimp industry because the demand for shrimps in key markets such as the US and the EU continues to increase.

Tien stressed that the global health crisis has caused difficulties for foreign shrimp exporters, while value chains of Vietnam’s “rival" countries are broken, offering great opportunities for Vietnamese exporters.

Vietnam has expanded its shrimp farming area to over 74,000 ha, Tien said, adding that the country is working hard on farming, exploiting and processing in order to improve the value and brand of the sector.

The country has set to rake in 10 billion USD from shrimp exports in 2025, he said.

According to the deputy minister, more measures will be enhanced to promote aquatic product exports in the time to come, including promoting international cooperation and investment for infrastructure development serving the industry./.

Phu Yen’s hotel enters list of world’s best new ones

Zannier Hotels Bai San Ho in Vietnam’s Phu Yen south central coastal province has been chosen as one of the Best New Hotels in the World by US travel magazine Travel+Leisure.

Being the sole Vietnamese hotel to break into the list compiled by the magazine’s writers and editors, the property has 71 villas spreading 98 ha of lush greenery and rice paddies.

Zannier honoured the local ethnic groups and the nearby fishing villages by constructing three different types of Vietnamese-style villas, laden with bamboo ceilings, antique rice baskets, and colours that reflect the natural landscape, Katie Lockhart, a writer of the magazine wrote.

She added that the staff clearly takes pride in the regional seafood, which is on display at its breezy beach restaurant, and the traditional cooking techniques.

“The main draw for many travellers, though, might be the private, kilometre-long stretch of beach that teems with colourful coral just offshore,” she continued.

Travel+Leisure’s 2021 list comprises 73 new hotels in 29 countries across the world, featuring plenty of extravagant stays and familiar brands, along with properties that are the best at what they do while displaying a sense of innovation.

With its tranquil beauty and picturesque landscapes, like Ganh Da Dia and Dai Lanh Cape (or Dien Cape), Phu Yen has become an attraction for hodophiles./.

Vietravel rejects rumor of selling Vietravel Airlines

Vietnam Travel and Marketing Transports JSC (Vietravel) has dismissed a rumor that it is selling Vietravel Airlines after many people said the firm would sell all its shares at the airline due to difficulties caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Vietravel Chairman Nguyen Quoc Ky told the Saigon Times that the information about it selling the airline was incorrect.

Vietravel, which is the parent company owning 100% of Vietravel Airlines’ charter capital of VND700 billion, will not sell the entire stake at Vietravel Airlines and turn Vietnam Travel Airlines Co., Ltd, or Vietravel Airlines, into a joint stock company from a single-member limited liability company instead, Ky said.

After the shift, Vietravel will still play a role as the founder and manager of the airline. The shift is in line with Vietravel’s plan allowed by the competent agencies when Vietravel Airlines was established, meaning that the airline might be turned into a joint stock company from the second year of its operation.

The representative of Vietravel also said that the firm wanted to find a strategic partner to help it manage and exploit the airline with an aim to make Vietravel Airlines Vietnam’s first tourism airline.

Vietravel Airlines was licensed for air transport in late 2020 and began its maiden flight on December 26 last year.

According to a report by Vietravel’s board of directors, its travel business line has been severely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Since last year, it closed many branches in Bac Lieu, Soc Trang, Dong Thap, Vinh Long, Hai Duong and Long An to reduce costs.

Trial operation of HCMC's metro line No. 1 set for Q3

After two trains of the first metro line project in HCMC are transported to Long Binh Depot in Thu Duc City, the entire metro line system will be checked before being operated on a trial basis in the third quarter of this year.

On May 11, the second train of the metro line was placed on the T1 rail track in Long Binh Depot. The third train will be transported from Khanh Hoi Port in District 4 to the depot tomorrow, May 13, VnExpress reported.

Hoang Mai Tung, a coordinating engineer of the metro line project from the Management Authority for Urban Railways (MAUR) of HCMC, said the arrival of the three-car trains and Japanese experts in HCMC would help speed up the trial runs of the project.

The trains will run within the depot at a speed of 20 kilometers per hour and later on an elevated railway from the depot to the Binh Thai Intersection in Thu Duc City. In the next stage, they will run from the depot to the Tan Cang Station in Binh Thanh District and the entire route. The trial operation at the depot may last for six months.

Japanese contractor Hitachi will take charge of the trial operation with the involvement of local employees, who have been trained to drive and maintain the trains.

The first metro line project in HCMC will have 17 trains, with the first phase using the three-car trains and the following phase using the six-car ones, which are all manufactured in Japan.

Each three-car train is 61.5 meters long and capable of carrying 930 passengers. They can travel at a maximum speed of 110 kilometers per hour on elevated sections and 80 kilometers per hour on underground sections.

According to Hitachi, four more trains will arrive in Vietnam in the next two months and the remainder in line with the progress of the project.

The first train was transported to Long Binh Depot in October last year.

Metro Line No. 1 requires an estimated investment of over VND43.7 trillion and is nearly 20 kilometers, stretching from Ben Thanh Market in District 1 to Long Binh Depot.

The manufacturing of trains, rail tracks and other equipment is nearly 70% complete, while the entire project is nearly 85% complete and is expected to be ready next year.

Ministries propose adjusting import tariffs, encourage use of new materials

Right from the beginning of this year, the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) reported to the Prime Minister on the forecast of supply and demand, as well as price fluctuations of steel products in the global market and Vietnam in 2021 and the coming years.

The MoIT has proposed the PM assign ministries and agencies to coordinate with it to implement solutions to stabilize supply and demand and steel prices. The ministry also proposed the PM direct the Ministry of Finance (MoF) to adopt a policy to control import duties on some steel products with large fluctuations in prices.

Besides, the MoIT proposed the Ministry of Construction (MoC) to forecast and provide the demand for construction steel of the economy in 2021 to balance steel demand, helping enterprises to actively produce and sell steel products.

According to the MoIT, currently, the domestic steel supply is in abundance, but the supply capacity faces difficulties due to the Covid-19 pandemic. With such a situation, the steel market will possibly set up a new price level, which later will be adjusted following the relationship between supply and demand.

Mr. Nghiem Xuan Da, Chairman of the Vietnam Steel Association, added that the association sent an official dispatch to member enterprises to carry out solutions to boost production to soon stabilize the domestic supply.

Amid the complicated developments of the construction material market, Deputy Minister of Construction Le Quang Hung said that the ministry has just proposed some solutions to stabilize supply and demand and construction steel prices.

Specifically, besides monitoring and controlling steel prices with the MoIT and MoF, the MoC will actively follow steel price movements in localities to promptly guide and propose to the Government measures to ensure the operation of the construction market in 2021.

As for more radical solutions, the MoC asked relevant ministries and agencies to study and promote steel production capacity, prioritize the domestic market by adjusting and balancing the export volume of finished steel products; research and guide to change construction technology to reduce steel consumption in construction works, replacing reinforced concrete method with new construction technology on the steel structure.

Some new building materials can also be used to replace conventional building materials, such as ash from cement factories, rock dust from mining sites, recycled sand from construction waste that can replace natural sand.

Smart homes enjoying promising future
 
Thanks to the appearance of advanced technologies, a smart home is not too out of reach of most citizens in Vietnam. Although this model is quite new in the nation and requires careful consideration of buyers, it is expected to fully bloom in the near future as house purchases realize its usefulness for their life.
With a tablet, the owner of a domotics can easily monitor and control smart devices in his or her house.

A smart home, also known as a domotics or home automation, is a house installed with smart devices that can be monitored and controlled remotely via the Internet. These devices include home attributes and security.

Obviously, a smart home helps people to obtain a higher living standard, with more convenience. For instance, with a few touches onto the monitor of a remote control or a smart phone, a home owner can turn on or off the lights of a specific room in their house without the need to move anywhere. Door and window curtains can be automatically opened or closed according to schedule. Even better, the front door can automatically open to welcome a guest, followed by light and air conditioning on-switching in the living room.

For those wishing to self-install their own domotics, they can begin with simple smart devices like lighting, fans, door and window curtains, TV, and air conditioning. These kinds of equipment cost less than VND10 million (approx. US$432).

First, depending on the current status of their house, these people must consider the number of devices to be set up in each room. Then they need to adjust the existing wiring system in their house to be ready for new machines.

The Internet is one of the best places to find suitable smart devices with specific keywords like ‘smart switch’, ‘smart light sensor’, or ‘smart electric device’. Friends are also a logical searching source with useful recommendations to select the best devices among so many items from domestic businesses such as Lumi, ACIS as well as international prestigious companies such as Scheneider from France, TIS from the US, or Bticino from Italy.

It is advisable to choose merchandise of renowned companies to ensure cyber security and durability.

However, to create a fully operating smart home, owners must express their wish right at the designing stage. At the moment, many domestic companies like Smarthome Bkav are capable of fulfilling this task.

The cost of such a home automation system varies from VND20-200 million ($864-8,640) for the mid-range segment to VND500 million-a few billion ($21,600-86,400) for the high-end one.

Since a smart home has a security system, it can timely deliver warnings and alerts to the smart phone of home owners in the cases of fire and explosion, burglaries. This is extremely beneficial to increase the security level of a house. It is important that these people choose their smart devices carefully to ensure quality and safety.

HCMC wants to further develop IT industry
 
Ho Chi Minh City for the first time in 5 years has reached the leading position in the Vietnam ICT Index with 0.5186 points. This proves the great effort of both the municipal authorities as well as ICT businesses in choosing the right development direction, boosting the implementation of ICT in various fields of healthcare, education, public administration.

The Intelligent Operation Center was piloted in the Head Office of HCMC People’s Committee in June 2020. (Photo: SGGP)

Statistics reveal that last year, ICT was applied in nearly 1,800 public services, 215 and 358 of which were level four and level three, respectively.

The city was able to create several important databases about the population, citizen status, centralized public administration procedures, healthcare human resources, current clinics and businesses in HCMC, planning information based on the Geographic Information System (GIS).

HCMC has effectively launched various beneficial programs like the program ‘Develop ICT from 2016-2020’, the project ‘Transforming HCMC into a Smart City from 2017-2020, with a Vision to 2025’, the program ‘Digital Transformation in HCMC’, the program ‘Researching and Implementing AI in HCMC from 2020-2030’, the program ‘Supporting ICT Businesses and Product Development from 2020-2030’.

In the detailed ICT Index Report 2020, there are nearly 20,000 ICT businesses nationwide, 5,636 of which are IT ones (an increase of 23 percent compared to 2016). HCMC has around 1,300 startups. Among them are over 900 IT enterprises.

This shows a great potential of practical IT application development in startup projects, being carried out by either renowned corporations such as VNPT, Viettel, and FPT, or small-scaled IT businesses, in order to meet the high demands of both the domestic and international markets.

ICT has proved to be exceptional useful in Vietnam, especially when we are adopting the national digital transformation procedure, which is critical for the overall socio-economic development of the nation and the specific growth of HCMC.

In the future, the ICT Index will experience many changes, including the implementation of IT in small and medium-scaled enterprises.

Therefore, it is of top priority that the whole city, state as well as private organizations, pay more attention to digital transformation. This means digital businesses here must be more active in developing ‘Make in Vietnam’ products and solutions to answer the needs of not only the working sector but also the public in the inner city as well as the suburban area.

The more ‘Make in Vietnam’ products are introduced in HCMC, the higher and more diverse its ICT Index reaches.

HCMC backs elevated road project worth VND15.5 trillion

The HCMC Department of Transport has thrown its weight behind a proposal to develop the Elevated Road No.5 project, which starts from Station 2 on National Highway No.1 in Thu Duc City and ends at the An Suong and An Lac traffic junctions in HCMC.

The project was proposed by the Vietnam Urban and Industrial Zone Development Investment Corporation (IDICO), with four lanes and a length of 34 kilometers. 

The department said that the development of the VND15.5 trillion project was necessary as it is on par with the city’s transportation development zoning plan until 2020, with a vision after 2020.

It is also part of an investment portfolio of road transport projects during the 2021-2030 period approved by the municipal government.

The project in the first phase will stretch some 21.5 kilometers and require nearly VND15.5 trillion in investment.

As the city’s traffic infrastructure has failed to meet the economic and population growth, with many roads facing severe traffic congestion, the Transport Department backed the proposal of IDICO to use its own funding to study and suggest investment methods for the project under the public-private partnership format.

The Transport Department further requested the HCMC Department of Planning and Investment to instruct the firm to carry out necessary procedures.

Daklak proposes developing expy to Khanh Hoa

The government of the Central Highlands province of Daklak has proposed developing the Buon Ma Thuot-Nha Trang expressway project with a length of 113 kilometers, connecting the province with Khanh Hoa.

The province proposed adding the expressway to Vietnam’s road system plan in the 2021-2030 period with a vision toward 2050, a representative of the Ministry of Transport said on May 12.

The expressway is expected to cost some VND19.5 trillion, have four lanes and allow for a designed speed of 80-120 kilometers an hour.

The province proposed the Government spend some VND10 trillion from the State budget on the expressway project, while the remaining VND9.5 trillion will be sourced from the local budgets of Daklak and Khanh Hoa and firms, the local media reported.

The Buon Ma Thuot-Nha Trang expressway project is expected to connect the Central Highlands region with the central coastal region, facilitating the transport and export of farm produce in the Central Highlands region to other countries through the Van Phong international transshipment port in Khanh Hoa Province.

The Ministry of Transport is conducting research on Vietnam’s road system development plan for the 2021-2030 period, with the Quy Nhon-Pleiku expressway project proposed for the 2025-2030 period.

Number of HCMC businesses resuming operations in Jan-Apr soars 95%

Some 5,590 businesses in HCMC resumed their operations in the first four months of this year, a 95.18% increase compared with the same period last year, signaling a recovery of the city’s economy despite the complicated developments of Covid-19.

The HCMC Department of Planning and Investment said at a meeting on May 11 that most economic indices of the city in the first four months of 2021 were better than the same period last year.

There were more than 11,600 newly established businesses with registered capital totaling nearly VND210.3 trillion (US$9 billion) in the city from January to April, increasing 3.5% in the number of businesses and 41.18% in registered capital year-on-year.

On the other hand, 7,874 businesses temporarily suspended their operations, rising 27.56% year-on-year and 1,710 others completed procedures for disbandment, increasing 4.2%.

The total retail sales of goods and services in the first four months rose 7.9% year-on-year to over VND366.2 trillion. Revenues from accommodating and catering services surged 26.3% year-on-year.

The city’s industrial production index rose 9.7%. The Saigon Hi-tech Park exported US$6.47 billion of hi-tech products from January to April, surging 27.1% compared with the same period last year.

The revenues of four key sectors comprising electronics; pharmaceutical products, rubber and plastics; food and beverages; and mechanical engineering rose 27.7%, 2.4%, 7.4% and 17.5% year-on-year, respectively.

The city attracted US$1.14 billion of foreign direct investment in the first four months, falling 12.92% year-on-year.

HCMC Chairman Nguyen Thanh Phong spoke highly of the city’s economic achievements in the first four months of 2021 in the context of the complicatedly developing pandemic. He asked departments and agencies to tighten control over Covid-19 infection prevention and maintain the growth momentum.

Customers rush to cancel tours to Danang

As the Covid-19 pandemic is spreading rapidly, many tourists have canceled tours to and hotel room bookings in Danang City in May and June, causing multiple difficulties for travel firms.

On May 12, the Danang Department of Tourism said that the city currently has 700 tourists at hotels and resorts, mainly for long-term business trips, Tuoi Tre Online newspaper reported.

Meanwhile, travel companies reported that most of their customers had canceled tours to the city as all tourist sites have shut down to prevent the pandemic from spreading further.

Lodging facilities faced the same fate. In order to ensure mutual benefits, they will reserve the booked rooms for customers until August 31 or December 31. Some hotels have canceled customers' bookings and given them refunds.

Huynh Tan Phap, director of the Suoi Hoa ecotourism area in Hoa Vang District, said the area had made huge investments as it expected to attract many tourists during the summer holiday.

Employees of the ecotourism area continue to report to work, except for those working at the canteen. The area will adjust its plans as with the current developments of the pandemic, tourist sites will not be reopened soon and the ecotourism area cannot afford to pay the salaries of employees.

Enterprises need State support to access capital to exist and develop, while the interest rates of loans from private entities are high, Phap added.

Nguyen Duc Huynh, vice chairman of the Danang Hotel Association, said most of the hotels and resorts in the city had shut down, except for those used as quarantine centers and for long-term stays.

Travel enterprises in Danang faced multiple difficulties over the previous Covid-19 waves. With this new wave, the situation is worsening.

Before the holidays of Reunification Day on April 30 and International Labor Day on May 1, tourism companies had high expectations for the summer holiday, so they invested in their facilities and asked their employees to return to work.

However, the pandemic re-emerged soon after that and many firms have incurred heavy losses and are on the verge of bankruptcy.

Covid-19 vaccines are the most important for tourism enterprises. Once Vietnam popularizes Covid-19 vaccines, the local tourism sector can recover.

Vietnam must copyright its well-known brands

Ever since the Communist Party of Vietnam initiated a policy of economic reforms called ‘Doi Moi’ in 1986, the country has made impressive progress in creating many well-known Vietnamese brands. 

Some of these branded products have now become very well-known across the globe, and contribute to enhancing Vietnam's image in the international arena. Sadly, the fate of some of these Vietnamese brands has changed hands and now are no longer indigenous.

In 1982, Vietnam's famous Phu Quoc fish sauce was overtaken by Viet Huong Fishsauce Company, based in the US of America. Since then, the US trademark registration agency has granted the trademark of Phu Quoc fish sauce exclusively for use to the US company. The image of the trademark of Viet Huong Company even has the words "Phu Quoc" written on it, with the logo of an anchovy and a map of Vietnam, with a sign indicating the location of Phu Quoc island district, now Phu Quoc City, in Kien Giang province.

From 1997, the Vinamit Company started to bring dried jackfruit under the brand name Duc Thanh to the Chinese Mainland and registered for copyright protection for the Duc Thanh trademark in China. However, since the registration was only in Vietnamese, and not in Chinese, its distributor then decided to re-register the Duc Thanh trademark in Chinese. This distributor controlled the Duc Thanh market and quickly released a similar product. It took the Vinamit Company three long years to reclaim its brand name.

ST25 rice, also known as Soc Trang fragrant rice, was the research result of engineer Ho Quang Cua after twenty years. From seed selection to planting, it required strict principles of organic rice production, to finally produce clean and healthy high yielding rice. The quality of ST25 rice has been recognized internationally when it won the title of "World's Best Rice 2019" in a contest in the Philippines, and the second prize at the contest "World's Best Rice 2020" held in America. Under the Decision 706/QD-TTg, dated 21 May 2015, by the Prime Minister, this rice brand was approved under a project to develop a Vietnamese rice brand by 2020 with a vision until 2030. During the integration era, businesses all understand that building and protecting trademarks and intellectual property are always vital.

However, one had hoped that with ST25, Vietnamese rice would flourish. Unfortunately, five foreign enterprises quickly registered for trademark protection of the name ST25, in the US market, under the US Trademark Registration System (USPTO). The ST25 rice trademark registration dossiers are now under examination, and presently one file is about to be approved for trademark protection. The Australian business, T&L Global Foods Supply Pty Ltd, filed an application for trademark registration of ST24 and ST25, selling it as "the world's best rice". The application for trademark protection of this business is being appraised by the Australian Intellectual Property Office (IP Australia).

The engineer Ho Quang Cua spent 20 years to develop a rare form of rice, which has now moved into unknown hands. Authorities say that it is the businesses themselves who have to protect their own trademark rights, because if you create it you must also protect it. This is a valuable lesson for both Vietnamese authorities and Vietnamese businesses to protect their brands in future.

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

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