Nearly 5,800 new enterprises established in Binh Duong in 10 months hinh anh 1

A total of 5,766 new enterprises were established in the southern province of Binh Duong in the first 10 months of this year with a total registered capital of 43,155 billion VND, an increase of 3.6% in number and 21.9% in capital compared to the same period last year.

According to the province’s Department of Planning and Investment, in the period under review, the total domestic investment capital in the province increased to nearly 75.77 trillion VND (3.2 billion USD).

So far, there have been 64,975 domestic enterprises registering to operate in Binh Duong with a total registered capital of 706,335 billion VND.

Chairman of the provincial People's Committee Vo Van Minh said that increased domestic investment capital contributes to improving the province’s resilience and shows dynamism and high adaptability of the business to market challenges.

Over the past time, the province has always committed to continuing to create an attractive and open investment environment for businesses.

According to the Binh Duong Import-Export Association, the increase in domestic investment is a good sign for the economy of Binh Duong in particular and of the country in general.

The province is striving for an export turnover of 31.8 billion USD and an import turnover of 23.1 billion USD this year, down 7.3% and 7% respectively compared to those in 2022.

Ca Mau province to host first-ever shrimp festival

The southernmost province of Ca Mau will organise the first-ever shrimp festival and One Commune, One Product (OCOP) connection forum from December 10-13, said Director of the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Phan Hoang Vu.

At a press conference on November 21, he highlighted that an array of activities will be held to promote the images and brands of local shrimp and OCOP products.

The opening ceremony will take place on December 10, with a stellar art programme that spotlights the beauty of Ca Mau and its and people.

Besides, the festival will feature around 400 booths showcasing shrimp and OCOP products.

Other events held within the framework of the festival include a trade, investment and tourism promotion forum, a conference to promote the trade of OCOP products in the Mekong Delta, and a workshop to seek measures for sustainable shrimp development.

Ca Mau is now home to 280,000 hectares of shrimp breeding, accounting for 40% of the country’s shrimp farming area. The shrimp output reaches more than 220,000 tonnes per year, equivalent to 22% of the country’s total.

The shrimp industry provides livelihoods for more than 600,000 people, or half the province’s population.

Industries find new momentum from net zero emissions commitment

While the commitment to net-zero emissions by 2050 is seen as a challenge for the growth of the Vietnamese economy, it also encourages the sustainable development of many industries, such as construction and plastic recycling. 

At the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), Việt Nam set a target of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050, reducing methane emissions by 30 per cent by 2030, phasing out coal between 2030 and 2040, and preserving forests.

Trần Đình Thiên, a member of the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Group, believes that the country needs to accelerate and strengthen the implementation of the green growth strategy to realise these commitments.

However, despite difficulties and challenges, pursuing the goal of achieving net-zero emissions will create pressure to push for the green transition in industries and businesses towards adopting new and clean scientific and technological advancements, the expert said at the conference on “Vision for a green Việt Nam and exemplary stories.”

It will also promote innovation in products, processes, organisation and management models while opening up new markets, restructuring industry markets, and implementing new marketing activities, he added. 

Amid the growing trend towards sustainable development, the construction industry is one of the sectors with a need to change, as it emits nearly 40 per cent of the world’s total carbon emissions.

Nguyễn Công Thịnh, deputy director of the Department of Science, Technology and Environment under the Ministry of Construction (MoC), citing data from Eurocham experts at the 2023 Green Economy Forum, said that construction projects account for 39 per cent of energy consumption, 12 per cent of water consumption and about 38 per cent of carbon emissions in Việt Nam.

As a result, the green transition in the construction industry will have a significant positive impact on the process of achieving the net-zero goal. 

“Currently, there are many funds, investment projects and enterprises pursuing the energy service company (ESCO) model to support businesses in replacing equipment and renovating infrastructure,” Thịnh said. 

“This includes architectural solutions, material solutions, and equipment solutions to ensure energy-efficient usage and effective implementation in construction projects, all towards achieving green criteria.”

Meanwhile, plastic recycling is another industry with bright prospects. 

Lê Anh, Sustainability Director at Duy Tân Plastic Recycling, said that the company is the first plastics recycler in Việt Nam to produce recycled PET for beverage bottle production and export to international markets, including the US. In 2022, the company exported 4,000 tonnes of recycled plastic pellets to the US market.

“This development is in line with the global trend,” Lê Anh said. 

However, he notes that the products still struggle in the market as they are more expensive than regular plastic bottles.

“We have not made a profit at this moment,” he added. 

Therefore, it requires recognition from customers and companies to boost sales of these sustainable products. 

The forum also heard that to support enterprises following the green growth approach, banks need to step in to ease the burdens.

“We are creating a set of product standards and policies for businesses with green or sustainable growth goals, especially small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), to easily access capital,” said Đinh Ngọc Dũng, deputy director of SHB Corporate Banking Division.

Three large-scale transport projects to be put into operation this year

The construction of three large infrastructure projects, namely the My Thuan 2 Bridge, the My Thuan-Can Tho expressway, and the Tuyen Quang-Phu Tho expressway, is expected to be completed late this year.

The contractors are focusing on completing the bridge railings and surface, aiming to finish the project in late 2023 as required by Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh and the Ministry of Transport.

The last sections of the bridge were connected in late October.

The bridge, spanning the Tien River, carries a price tag of around VND5 trillion ($210.9 million).

My Thuan 2 Bridge and approach roads have a total length of 6.61km, starting from an intersection with Trung Luong-My Thuan Expressway and ending at an intersection with My Thuan-Can Tho Expressway.

The project is a part of the underway Eastern North-South expressway, which was started in December 2020 and is expected to be completed this year. The project, when in place, will help reduce the travel time between Ho Chi Minh City and Mekong Delta localities.

The bridge alone is 1.9km long, with six lanes and a designed speed of 80km/hr.

The project has a length of 23km. The first phase combines four lanes, with a total investment cost of VND4.8 trillion ($202.5 million).

The project’s construction was started in January 2021, and to date, the workload is 80 per cent completed. The main investor is the My Thuan Management Board, which is operating under the Ministry of Transport.

The 23-km, six-lane project has will cost over VND4.8 trillion ($202.5 million).

My Thuan-Can Tho Expressway is expected to open by the year’s end, shortening travel time between the southern hubs of Ho Chi Minh City and Can Tho from four to two hours.

Funded by both central and local budgets, the road stretches 40.2km, including 11km in Tuyen Quang and the rest in Phu Tho.

In its first phase, the expressway has four lanes, allowing vehicles to travel at a maximum speed of 80km/hr. It will be expanded in its second phase that will run up to 2025.

The project has an initial capital of VND3.2 trillion ($135.02). In late May, Deputy Prime Minister Tran Hong Ha approved an investment increase to VND3.75 trillion ($158.2 million) to create a breakthrough in economic development for the two northern provinces.

Once completed, it will connect with Noi Bai-Lao Cai Expressway, an important project that is expected to boost the development of the northeastern region.

Industrial real estate developers ready to seize on economic rebound

As Vietnam's economy is forecast to rebound in 2023, industrial real estate developers are looking to capitalise on opportunities in the market.

Amidst the slowdown of the general real estate market, the industrial logistics segment remains a bright spot, driven by the steady flow of foreign direct investment (FDI) capital. The country has attracted over $20 billion in FDI as of September 20, up 7.7 per cent on-year, according to the Foreign Investment Agency under the Ministry of Planning and Investment.

In addition to industry titans such as Samsung and LG, other international manufacturers continue to flock to Vietnam. In September, Apple finalised the relocation of 11 of its audio device production facilities to Vietnam, marking a significant shift in the company’s global supply chain strategy.

Experts from Ho Chi Minh City-based private equity firm VinaCapital have forecast Vietnam’s GDP growth to rebound to 6.5 per cent next year, driven by a recovery in exports, which will in turn be closely accompanied by improvements in the output of the local manufacturing sector. In addition, the comprehensive strategic partnership recently set up between Vietnam and the US signifies an important turning point, which will usher in a new period of development for Vietnam.

Against the backdrop of the bright prospects, industrial real estate developers are ramping up to expand their land stocks to seize the opportunities of Vietnam’s economic rebound in 2024. There has been a recent surge in the supply of industrial parks (IPs) in both the north and the south. According to the global commercial real estate services company, CBRE, three new IPs spanning 528 hectares in Bac Ninh and Hai Duong provinces went into operation in Q1 of this year.

In addition, the VSIP 3 and Nam Tan Uyen 3 IPs in the south are expected to hit the market and offer more than 1,300ha. Furthermore, a total of 5,400ha of IP land, located primarily in Long An (40 per cent) and Binh Duong (27 per cent), is planned to be released in the near future, the CBRE report states.

The for-rent logistics and industrial real estate platform BW Industrial Development (BW) is well-poised for further growth next year with the launch of 10 new projects nationwide in 2023. These aim to meet the growing demand for ready-built factories and warehouses among the domestic and foreign investors that are eyeing Vietnam’s logistics and industrial sectors.

The 10 projects, covering a total gross floor area of one million square metres, are strategically located in regions with excellent connectivity and infrastructure, including Haiphong, Quang Ninh, Ho Chi Minh City, Binh Duong, and Dong Nai. They are a testament to the firm’s unwavering commitment to facilitate making Vietnam a vital link in the global supply chain.

With a profound understanding of the needs of modern tenants, BW focuses on ready-built warehouses and factories that offer investors flexibility and speed to market, as well as lower Capex and time commitments. As a result, BW’s projects have garnered numerous inquiries from potential tenants and recorded high occupancy rates.

While IPs nationwide have reported an occupancy rate of over 80 per cent, with the key Northern provinces reaching 83 per cent and some in the South hitting 91 per cent, according to Savills’s latest report, BW has achieved and maintained a remarkable occupancy rate averaging 93 per cent as of September.

The 10 major projects, which form part of BW’s growth plan for 2023 and beyond, demonstrate the company's long-term goal of staying atop market developments and getting ahead of trends. The plan is strongly backed by international investors, with BW having secured approximately $300 million in the first quarter of the year alone.

The combination of sizable land stocks and an extensive footprint ideally positions BW as a leader in the industry. It currently has over 8.5 million sq.m of industrial land in prime locations under control across 40 projects in 11 key provinces in Vietnam – with over three million sq.m of gross floor area in completed or under-construction properties.

With $2 billion of gross assets under management, BW is currently pioneering and operating Vietnam’s first and largest e-commerce and last-mile delivery logistics cluster, Tan Phu Trung in Ho Chi Minh City, with several more in the development pipeline across the nation’s two key gateway cities.

Inward remittance likely to spike towards year-end

Inward remittances have managed growth momentum in the year to date and this trend is expected to linger towards the year-end, particularly before the upcoming holidays.

According to Nguyen Duc Lenh, deputy director of State Bank of Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City branch, by the end of September inwards remittances to Ho Chi Minh City came to nearly $6.69 billion, surpassing the 2022 level.

This figure surged 40 per cent compared to one year ago and equalled 101.3 per cent of last year’s level.

In the third quarter (Q3) of this year, more than $2.35 billion of inward remittances came to Ho Chi Minh City, up 6.2 per cent over the previous quarter, whereas in Q2, inward remittance volume to this southern region engine expanded 4.5 per cent compared to Q1, showing fair positive on-quarter growth of inward remittance so far this year.

Dinh Duc Quang, cash management executive director of UOB Vietnam, said that the Fed would temporarily cease raising their interest rate in the rest of 2023, so that the VND and US dollar exchange rate might fluctuate in a controlled range, partly thanks to continued influx of foreign direct investment and inward remittance into the country.

Senior economist Nguyen Tri Hieu assumed that nearly $6.7 billion inward remittance to Ho Chi Minh City in the first three quartes was an inspiring result in the current context.

Significantly, State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) statistics show that in the past five years, inward remittances to Ho Chi Minh City have always held a big share of the country’s total.

Particularly, this volume accounted for 44.1 per cent of the country’s total in 2018, increasing to 48 per cent in 2019, further approaching 53.8 per cent in 2020, slightly going down to 52.8 per cent in 2021 before reaching 55.03 per cent in 2022.

Lenh from SBV’s southern branch noted that the remittance volume from Asia continues to lead other regions, making up 53.1 per cent in Q3, showing 19.8 per cent jump compared to Q2 of this year.

Lenh said that to secure inward remittance fair growth in the upcoming time, business and credit organisations directly dealing with this capital flow need to continue efforts to boost operational efficiency and constantly improve service quality, while simultaneously banks have to bolster efficiency.

According to World Bank's August report, external demand will rebound gradually from the fourth quarter of this year, before resuming growth pace from late 2024, underpinning an upsurge in goods merchandise and an improvement of Vietnam’s trade balance in the forthcoming time.

The volume of international visitors to Vietnam is also expected to swell further.

The report also forecast Vietnam’s inward remittances would fetch $14 billion this year and $14.4 billion next.

Vietnam struggles to meet 2023 public investment target

With less than six weeks before the year 2023 is out, Vietnam is seeing the public investment disbursement target for the year as an impossible mission.

Data from the Ministry of Finance showed that the nationwide disbursement results up to October amounted to 52% of the full-year plan and achieved 56% of the target set by the prime minister.

However, these disbursement figures displayed notable disparities among ministries and localities, with 15 central agencies disbursing less than 10%, and four localities falling below the 30% threshold. The ministry has expressed concerns that meeting the minimum 95% disbursement target is becoming increasingly difficult.

The substantial remaining budget for disbursement raises worries about the feasibility of achieving year-end goals. Legal constraints, such as issues related to land conversion, forest and agricultural land use, mineral extraction, and a shortage of construction sand, contribute to project delays.

Complications in land clearance, planning, and public dissent over compensation and resettlement plans are identified as key obstacles.

In light of these challenges, the ministry has recommended reviewing slow-disbursing projects and urges ministries, agencies, and localities to prioritize projects with higher potential for accelerated disbursement.

LNG gas waiting for price bracketing

Although LNG electricity is part of the national strategy, there has so far been no price framework for LNG electricity, so businesses find it difficult to negotiate and sign consumption contracts, resulting in slow progress.

In recent years, the world demand for LNG has increased rapidly with a rate of 6.3 percent per year, and the regasification capacity for liquefied natural gas worldwide has also increased from 340 million tons in 2017 to 453 million tons in 2022.

In Vietnam, according to the National Electricity Development Plan to 2030 with a vision to 2045 (or the Power Plan VIII), gas thermal power sources will account for 24.8 percent of the total capacity of the entire system by 2030 - accounts for the largest proportion in the power source structure while coal thermal power, hydropower, onshore and offshore wind power only account for 20 percent, 19.5 percent and 18.5 percent respectively.

In the structure of gas thermal power sources, LNG thermal power alone accounts for 14.9 percent. At the same time, the Politburo’s Resolution No. 55-NQ/TW dated February 11, 2020 on the strategic orientation of Vietnam's national energy development to 2030, with a vision to 2045 also requires rapid development of LNG thermal power plant with priority given to developing LNG import and distribution infrastructure.

However, currently, the implementation of this policy is facing some hiccups along the way that need to be promptly resolved. In particular, the first obstacle is the negotiation of electricity prices and annual electricity output consumption.

Up to now, roughly 13 LNG gas power projects have been approved for investment. Of these, five projects are being implemented while four other projects have found investors, and localities are responsible for seeking investors for four other projects.

Among these projects, the Nhon Trach 3 and 4 gas power projects in Dong Nai Province’s Nhon Trach District, are considered national key projects under Power Planning VIII, assigned by the Government to PetroVietnam Power Corporation (PV Power) investor with a capacity scale of 1,500MW and a total investment of US$1.4 billion.

This is the first LNG power project in Vietnam, expected to be put into operation from 2024-2025. According to Mr. Nguyen Duy Giang, Deputy General Director of PV Power, currently the biggest difficulty when implementing the Nhon Trach 3 and 4 LNG projects is negotiating the power purchase agreement (PPA) between PV Power and Vietnam Electricity Group (EVN).

Though the two parties have spent two years negotiating over the price, the signing has still not been possible due to the commitment to the total annual electricity output purchased from EVN. According to PV Power's proposal, the annual electricity output required is 90 percent and the application period is 15 years from the time the plant operates commercially to match the project's loan repayment time; however, the electricity buyer said that this is unprecedented; so it must seek approval from competent authorities.

At the meeting with the Ministry of Industry and Trade, Thai Thanh Phong, Deputy Director of the Department of Industry and Trade of Dong Nai province, also said that the two LNG power plants Nhon Trach 3 and 4 are expected to generate commercial electricity through unit 1 in 2024 and 2025, but is facing difficulties because EVN has not agreed with the investor on electricity purchase and sale prices. Not only Nhon Trach 3 and 4 LNG gas power projects but other LNG gas power projects such as LNG Hiep Phuoc in HCMC, Son My I and Son My II in Binh Thuan Province, LNG in Quang Ninh Province, LNG in Bac Lieu Province are also facing difficulties in electricity purchase contracts.

Many experts are also concerned that because according to Power Plan VIII, by 2030, LNG thermal power plants need a total capacity of 22,400 MW accounting for 14.9 percent of the total source, so just seven more years for LNG projects have been carried out and operated. Experts fretted the country would fail to achieve its goals.

According to Associate Professor Ngo Tri Long, former head of the Ministry of Finance (MoF)'s Price Research Institute, LNG gas power projects that are supplemented to the planning must participate in the electricity market. But there is currently no regulation that the electricity buyer must underwrite electricity output. Mr. Ngo Tri Long said that the negotiation of the electricity purchase price in the electricity purchase contract must comply with regulations on the basis of calculating annual sales output, cash flow, and investment costs.

Currently, about half of LNG gas power projects have not yet started construction and are behind schedule because negotiations related to power purchase contracts have not been completed. Besides, with the power source structure in Power Plan VIII, the Ministry of Industry and Trade calculates that a 10 percent increase in LNG prices will increase the system's average power production cost by 1.1-1.5 percent. The biggest challenge of LNG power plants is still high cost, input materials for electricity production depend on imported prices. Therefore, plants need to be run at base load to have better and more acceptable prices. However, according to Associate Professor Ngo Tri Long, there is currently no electricity generation price frame for LNG gas power projects, so it is not known how much is reasonable to negotiate. The purchase price of electricity from an LNG power source will be much higher than the retail price of electricity that EVN sells to the economy. EVN's financial supervision agencies find it difficult to accept, so EVN cannot decide whether to this sale," Mr. Ngo Tri Long acknowledged.

Mr. Nguyen Anh Tuan, former Director of the Renewable Energy Center under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, assessed that LNG gas power projects are currently stagnant pointing out that the selling price to EVN is higher than the average retail electricity that EVN sells in the market.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade has not yet issued the electricity generation price framework for LNG power plants which makes investors worry about the effectiveness of the projects despite EVN’s commitment to purchase annual electricity output and consumption of all gas. For electrification to reach its destination in accordance with the planning, the State must provide an electricity price framework for the parties to negotiate and sign an electricity purchase contract, from which they can plan to build the plant and pour investment into their plants.

To avoid the risk of schedule delays, Mr. Nguyen Duy Giang, Deputy General Director of PV Power, said that the Government should soon issue a power generation price framework for LNG gas power projects. He added that in the current context, without a Government’s commitment to power consumption, power producers will not implement projects on schedule.

E-invoice not yet implemented

Despite the Decree 123/2020/ND-CP on a mandatory deadline to complete the conversion from paper invoices to electronic invoices from July 1, 2022 and the Prime Minister’s recent telegram on the issuance of electronic invoices at petroleum retail stores, e-invoices still cannot be implemented.

Some gas stations in Ho Chi Minh City issued electronic invoices whereas others did not on November 21, or some places wrote down retail invoices for customers.

At gas station No. 17 belonging to Can Gio Trading and Services Joint Stock Company on To Ky Street in District 12, a lot of customers were filling up their motorbikes’ tanks, but the seller did not remind them to take a receipt.

For some customers who want to receive an electronic invoice, the gas station staff will give them a retail invoice including a few lines of company address, phone number, gas price, and gas filling time as the gas station employee explained that the office staff in charge of billing returned home, no one is responsible for issuing receipts. Customers who want to receive electronic invoices can return to the gas station during office hours the next day.

According to a gas station staff, most customers do not care about electronic receipts. Those requiring an invoice usually fill up a lot of gas, mainly car drivers, with prices ranging from at least a few hundred thousand to several million Vietnamese dong.

Why gas stations did not issue electronic invoices to customers, a director of a petroleum business in Ho Chi Minh City said issuance of electronic invoices according to new regulations costs about VND800 for each invoice. About 1,000 customers buying gas a day will cost VND800,000 (US$32,904) in bills, not including other costs. If small businesses are forced to issue electronic invoices for all customers, they will not be able to survive but close down the station.

Mr. Truong Van Ba, Director of the Ho Chi Minh City Market Surveillance Department, said that the unit regularly coordinates with the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Industry and Trade and other departments to monitor and understand the situation of petroleum business activities in the area to promptly detect violation such as closing stations without reason, hoarding goods, trading fake, poor quality gasoline. However, according to Mr. Ba, the tax authority must be responsible for monitoring the issuance of electronic invoices to buyers.

According to the General Department of Taxation, cumulatively as of October 31, the tax agency has received and processed more than 5.6 billion invoices. However, the majority of agents and petroleum trading hubs have not yet had time to deploy this type of invoice, due to high investment costs and in a difficult business context.

Therefore, previously, the Ministry of Industry and Trade proposed to create a roadmap of 1-2 years so that agents have time to implement the new regulation. According to the Ministry, if the regulations of electronic invoice issuance and connecting electronic invoices with tax authorities, it will cause difficulties for businesses, cause supply interruptions, and negatively affect the supply of petroleum in the market.

However, recently, the Prime Minister issued an official dispatch requesting to strengthen the management and use of electronic invoices and promote digital transformation. Accordingly, it is necessary to immediately deploy appropriate, feasible and effective solutions to monitor the issuance and use of electronic invoices, especially the issuance of electronic invoices at petroleum retail stores for customers.

To support petroleum businesses converting to electronic invoices, and at the same time deter people from selling goods without issuing invoices, the General Department of Taxation on November 13 issued Official Dispatch No. 5080 requesting tax authorities in all localities to grasp the current status of implementing electronic invoices in local gasoline and oil stores. The General Department of Taxation has requested units to closely monitor the issuance and use of invoices for gasoline and oil, thereby detecting and strictly handling acts of issuing and using invoices and documents illegally.

Bac Giang promotes trademarks, quality of major agricultural products

The northern province of Bac Giang will focus on building and developing the trademarks of its major farm produce as well as OCOP (One Commune One Product) products to enhance their competitiveness, according to Director of the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Duong Thanh Tung.

In the time to come, the province will support the building of collective brands and new designs and the improvement of packaging and labels as well as traceability stamps, while assisting cooperatives in joining the OCOP programme.

The province will strengthen trade promotion and the application of e-commerce platforms to bring its products closer to customers in domestic and foreign markets, said Tung.

The official said that Bac Giang will support local farmers to connect with processing businesses as well as distribution chains, to form a network of production, distribution, and sale of clean farm produce for supermarkets.

 Processing litchi for export at Hong Giang company in Luc Ngan district (Photo: Bac Giang Department of Industry and Trade)
According to Tung, from now until 2030, Bac Giang will concentrate on speeding up the OCOP programme, with greater attention to developing community-based tourism with the promotion of local cultural and historical relics as well as traditional craft villages.

Bac Giang will boost the growth of its strong products towards OCOP criteria, aiming to improve the income of local farmers in parallel with building new-style rural areas, he said.

Along with that, Bac Giang will perfect its products in the stage of packaging and labeling to ensure traceability, while strengthening the application of digital technologies in managing and trading products, aiming to win the domestic market and expand to foreign markets.  

In the period, Bac Giang expects to standardise 25-30 products each year towards two or three-star OCOP standards. By 2030, the province hopes to have at least 350 OCOP products to enter the top five localities in the country. These include 3-5 OCOP products rated five stars, 130 recognised as four-star products and the remaining products qualifying for three stars.

Over the years, the agricultural sector of Bac Giang has coordinated with the provincial Department of Industry and Trade and the Department of Science and Technology to develop the trademarks of the province’s key potential products, facilitating their product promotion and introduction.

Bac Giang has eight key products including lychee, chicken, pork, orange and grapefruit, high quality rice, vegetables, peanut, and fish. Meanwhile, there are 14 typical products and 30 potential ones.

Particularly, 40 products from Bac Giang have been registered for protection, some are protected abroad such as "Chu noodles" and " Ke noodles", and "Luc Ngan lychee". These products have also obtained geographical indications in Japan, the Republic of Korea, China, and Thailand. Meanwhile, “Yen The hill chicken” is protected in Singapore, China, and Laos and “Luc Ngan lychee” is protected in the US, Australia, and Singapore.

The province also has 60 agricultural products with registered trademarks.

By the end of 2023, Bac Giang is likely to have 240 OCOP products rated three stars or higher, one rural tourism site, and one potential five-star OCOP product.

HCM City eyes 6 million foreign arrivals in 2024

Ho Chi Minh City has set a target of welcoming 6 million foreign visitors who will spend around 190 trillion VND (7.8 billion USD) next year, according to the municipal Department of Tourism.

Given stable political-economic conditions, and good recovery of tourism and related industries, the Vietnamese southern hub expects to welcome a tourist influx from the Republic of Korea, Japan, India, and China.

As of October, the city had served more than 4.1 million foreign visitors, accounting for 82% of the plan for this year. As the peak season for international approaches, it hopes to serve 5 million international tourists for the whole 2023.

According to large tour operators such as Saigontourist, Vietravel, and TST Tourist, tours to explore Ho Chi Minh City and inter-regional tours that connect the city with localities in its vicinity during year-end festivals are selling like hot cakes.

In early December, the tourism department will organise the third HCM City Tourism Week to stimulus both international and domestic tourism demand, and create an opportunity for travel firms to introduce their attractive offerings in 2024. The highlight of the week will be the 6th Techcombank HCM City International Marathon on December 8-10, which is expected to lure 14,000 foreign and domestic runners.

Director of the tourism Department Nguyen Thi Anh Hoa said an array of products will be launched in the framework of the tourism week, including Nha Be night tour, healthcare and wellness tourism.

Besides, more lenient visa regulations and extended stays for foreigners are expected to bring more international tourists to the city in the peak season.

However, the department said that the visa approval process remains slow and time-consuming. Besides, Vietnam is currently providing visa exemption for only 25 countries, which is much smaller than that of regional countries such as Indonesia (169), the Philippines (166), Malaysia (156), and Singapore (150). It recommended the Immigration Department to shorten the time to handle visa applications for travel firms.

Furthermore, it will step up tourism promotion activities in foreign markets while renewing local tourism offerings to provide visitors with better experience.

Vietjet launches new routes to Australia

Vietjet has opened new routes connecting Perth and Adelaide cities of Australia with Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam’s largest metropolis.

The new services, which commenced on November 21, make Vietjet the first airline to have flights from Vietnam to Australia’s five largest cities, namely Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide.

With five return flights per week each, the new routes will make it more convenient for people to travel between the most dynamic city in Vietnam and the major cities in Australia, said a Vietjet representative, adding that the carrier will operate 58 flights from/to Australia per week from December this year.

On this occasion, Vietjet offered customers a promotion programme with ticket prices from only 0 VND (excluding taxes and fees) from November 22-28, 2023 for all domestic and international routes, with flight times from January 1 to October 31, 2024 (except for holidays and peak periods in each market).

Quang Ninh strives to lure 3 bln USD to economic, industrial zones

The northern province of Quang Ninh aims to lure 3 billion USD to economic and industrial zones in 2024, heard at a meeting in the locality on November 22.

The meeting was to review the three-year implementation of the provincial Party Committee's Resolution 01 on rapid and sustainable development of manufacturing and processing industry in the 2020-2025 period, with orientation to 2030.

To realise the goal, the locality will focus on attracting new generation foreign direct investment (FDI) capital to industrial parks and economic zones; prioritising high-tech, environmentally friendly processing and manufacturing projects with high investment capital, high added value, and positive contributions to growth and budget revenue; increasing the occupancy rate of industrial parks and economic zones, focusing on Quang Yen, Van Don, Mong Cai EZs and Dong Mai, Song Khoai, Viet Hung and Bac Tien Phong IPs.

The province will focus on speeding up construction investment progress, especially in areas where land clearance has been completed, ensuring synchronisation of technical and transport infrastructure inside and outside industrial parks and economic zones while removing difficulties, speeding up site clearance compensation, and completing construction of industrial park infrastructure projects.

Secretary of the provincial Party Committee Nguyen Xuan Ky emphasised that improving the quality of development and growth goes hand in hand with maintaining a two-digit Gross Regional Domestic Product (GRDP) growth rate, focusing on increasing the processing and manufacturing industry's scale and contribution to GRDP and budget revenue and improving the efficiency of attracting new generation FDI flows.

APEC 2023 opens up investment opportunities for Vietnam, US firms

President Vo Van Thuong’s trip to the US for the APEC Leaders’ Week and bilateral activities from November 14-17 is expected to open up many investment opportunities for businesses of the two countries in the time ahead.

Ted Osius, former US Ambassador to Vietnam and President of the US-ASEAN Business Council, held that there are no limits in the Vietnam-US relations, and expressed his belief that the bilateral trade and economic ties as well as people-to-people exchanges will be reinforced and deepened in the coming time.

US Ambassador to Vietnam Marc Knapper emphasised that cooperation potential between the two countries remains huge, particularly in aviation infrastructure and seaports.

US firms have also commended Vietnam’s economic development potential, and noted their hope for more business opportunities in the Southeast Asian nation. They have proposed the areas that need to be improved to help Vietnam attract more foreign investment.

President and CEO of the US Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) John Neuffer spoke highly of Vietnam’s policies on high-tech and the semiconductor industry, and suggested the country soon take specific steps to lure US capital flows to the field.

Within the framework of Thuong’s trip, some localities like Ho Chi Minh City and Hung Yen organised investment promotion conferences on green growth, high-tech, carbon emission reduction and agricultural consumption, drawing the participation of US enterprises.

Chairman of the HCM City People’s Committee Phan Van Mai told the Vietnam News Agency that US firms showed their interest in investing in Vietnam and its southern metropolis in particular.

Chairman of the Hung Yen province People’s Committee Tran Quoc Van said Hung Yen signed cooperation agreements with four US partners in semiconductor, high-tech, agricultural consumption and waste treatment on this occasion.

The President’s trip has contributed to materialising the joint statement on the establishment of the Vietnam-US comprehensive strategic partnership, and promoting collaboration in high-tech and green economy, as well as connectivity between localities.

11-month fruit and vegetable exports hit record high of over US$5 billion

Vietnam is expected to rake in US$5.2 billion from exporting its fruits and vegetables between January and November 2023, an increase of 70% from the same period last year, according to the Vietnam Fruit and Vegetables Association (Vinafruit).

High-quality durians grown in the Central Highland province ò Dak Lak mêt the criteria for export to global markets. 
The fruit and veggie exports brought in US$5.01 billion by November 15 and the figure is anticipated to rise to US$5.2 billion by the end of the month, a record high figure, reported Vinafruit.

This is the first time that the group of fruit and vegetables has surpassed other key groups of farm products such as rice, cashew nuts, coffee, and cassava in the export value, said the association.

Currently, China is the largest consumer of Vietnamese fruits and vegetables, spending US$3.2 billion on imports over the past 10 months, representing a year-on year rise of 2.7% and accounting for 66% of the market share.

China is followed by the United States that purchased more than US$212 million worth of Vietnamese fruits and vegetables, down more than 3% over the same period last year.

The Republic of Korea and Japan finished third and fourth, importing US$187 million and US$151 million worth of the products from Vietnam, up 25% and 7%, respectively.

Vinafruit general secretary Dang Phuc Nguyen attributed the leapfrog in the export value of the Vietnamese fruits and vegetables to a high purchase from China and other markets.   

China has signed a series of protocols with Vietnam, creating the prerequisite for Vietnamese fruits and vegetables to enter its market.

Vietnam has so far shipped major farm products to China, including bananas, durian, mangosteen, black jelly, rice bran, rice, sweet potatoes, watermelon, dragon fruit, mangos, jackfruit, longans, lychees, rambutan, chili, and passion fruit.

In addition, logistics infrastructure has been renovated and newly built, helping to cut transportation costs and create more competitive prices compared to other regional rivals.

Nguyen revealed that China is considering importing Vietnamese fresh coconuts, and if it is approved, the coconut will soon join the billion-dollar club of major farm products.

Meanwhile, the US has also allowed Vietnam to export fresh dehusked coconuts to its market.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the door is wide open for Vietnamese fruits and vegetables to make further inroads into global markets. Authorities are now negotiating with partners to ship passion fruits to the US and Australia; pomelos to Japan, the Republic of Korea, Australia, and India, durians to India; and frozen citrus fruits, coconuts, and durians to China.

With the rising export growth, Vinafruit expects the export value to hit US$5.5-5.6 billion this year, beyond the expectation of the fruit and vegetable industry.

VND350 billion approved for Quang Binh fishing port

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has approved VND350 billion (USD14.52 million) for implementing a fish port and storm shelter project in the central province of Quang Binh.

The project covers 582,832 square metres in the north of the Gianh River in Quang Phuc Ward in Ba Don Town.Once completed, the project can accommodate between 800-1,000 fishing boats.

The project will also involve investment in mooring buoys, dredging, signalling systems and essential technical infrastructure to serve the mooring area.

Mai Van Minh, director of Quang Binh’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said that the project is aimed at easing the shortage of mooring areas for fishing boats.

Corporate bond market robust in recent months

The corporate bond market has recovered significantly in recent months after the shocks caused by violations in issuance of several real estate developers.

Nguyễn Hoàng Dương, deputy director of the Banking and Financial Institutions Department under the Ministry of Finance, said that the market started to see positive signs from the second quarter of this year with increases in bond issuance volume.

Statistics showed that about 70 enterprises issued bonds worth VNĐ180.4 trillion (US$7.6 billion) in the first ten months of this year and bought VNĐ190.7 trillion of bonds before maturity, an increase of 30.3 per cent over the same period last year.

In October alone, the private bond issuance value totalled VNĐ41 trillion, VNĐ17 trillion higher than September.

“The market is recovering thanks to the Government’s drastic policies and changes in market participants,” Dương said.

The corporate bond market has been frozen after the breakout of violations in issuance by some big real estate developers.

However, the Government took drastic measures to stabilise the macro-economy and operate fiscal and monetary policies with flexibility to support production and business, enabling enterprises to have cash flow for debt repayment.

Most importantly, market participants were more aware of their rights and obligations, which would help the market develop transparently and sustainably, he said.

Dương urged investors to study regulations, and information and financial capacity of issuers carefully and be responsible for their investment decisions.

He noted that the risk of bonds is the risk associated with the bond issuers, not to the bond distributors.

The finance ministry would continue to work with relevant ministries and agencies to ensure stability, transparency, safety and sustainability for the corporate bond market which would help attract medium- and long-term capital for investment and development, he said.

The ministry would closely watch the market developments and ask enterprises to arrange resources for payment following the established regulations. Enterprises, in case of facing difficulties in repayment, must negotiate with investors on solutions for bond restructuring.

Besides, inspection would be enhanced to improve quality of bond issuance and services to consolidate investors’ confidence.

Vietnam has three credit rating agencies

The Ministry of Finance has recently granted credit rating permission to one more enterprise, bringing the total number of credit rating agencies in Việt Nam to three, namely FiinRatings, Saigon Ratings and VIS Rating.

The Hà Nội Stock Exchange (HNX) said thanks to credit rating agencies, businesses will publicly disclose information about their financial status and their ability to fulfil debt obligations on time.

Next year, the State Securities Commission (SSC) will continue to direct relevant units to review and fine-tune legal regulations, enhance management and supervision, and strictly deal with any violations to support the sustainable development of the bond market.

The SSC assigned the HNX to continue working with relevant authorities to monitor the reporting obligations and disclosure of information by issuers in the corporate bond market in line with regulations.

The HNX was also tasked with organising and operating the bond market in line with domestic regulations and international practices, thus improving liquidity and market organisation.

There were 451 corporate bond codes from 114 issuers registering for private placements at HNX.

The registered trading volume was over 648.4 million bonds, equivalent to nearly VNĐ336.8 trillion. After more than three months of operation, the total trading volume of privately placed corporate bonds reached nearly 179.6 million, valued at over VNĐ49.4 trillion. The average liquidity hit VNĐ677 billion per session.

Of note, Vietnam Electricity (EVN) and the Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam (BIDV) successfully issued green corporate bonds in accordance with International Capital Market Association (ICMA) standards.

Nationwide specialties introduced at Hanoi fair

Specialties from regions across Vietnam are being introduced to local consumers and foreign visitors at a fair opened at the shopping centre of Vincom Mega Mall Royal City in Hanoi's Thanh Xuan district on November 22.

The fair, held by the Hanoi Investment, Trade and Tourism Promotion Centre, features nearly 300 booths of 200 units and businesses from 56 provinces and cities.

A wide range of the localities’ typical and specialty products, including many with geographical indications, are being displayed such as shan tuyet tea harvested from hundreds-of-years plants in the northwestern region, coffee from the Central Highlands, garlic from Ly Son island, the Hoa Loc mango, palm sugar of An Giang province, peppercorn of Phu Quoc Island, and sea crabs of Ca Mau province.

Business matching events are being held to connect specialty producers and suppliers with major distributors such as Aeon, Lotte and Central Retail, and other retail chains.

A number of cultural, tourism promotion, and product demonstration activities of provinces and cities are also taking place on this occasion.

The fair will last through November 26.

VND80 trillion more proposed for HCMC’s development investment

The HCMC People’s Committee has proposed adjusting budget expenditure targets for the 2021-2025 period, seeking to increase development investment by over VND80 trillion.

If approved, this proposal would raise the total expenditure for the 2021-2025 period in HCMC to VND500.8 trillion, with the development investment portion reaching nearly VND242.4 trillion.

The extra budget of VND80 trillion would come from an increase in local revenue from various sources and a reduction in borrowed funds to offset the budget deficit.

Specifically, it is estimated that local budget revenue will increase by around VND91.6 trillion, while the reduction in borrowed funds will amount to VND11.5 trillion.

In late 2020, the HCMC People’s Council passed Resolution 82, outlining the five-year financial plan for the 2021-2025 period. At that time, the total local budget expenditure for the same period was set at around VND420.7 trillion, with development investment totaling VND162.3 trillion.

Retail electricity tariffs might exceed VND3,600 per kWh

Retail electricity tariffs may now surpass VND3,612 per kWh, as the Ministry of Industry and Trade contemplates changes to the existing structure.

In a recent draft decision, the ministry is seeking feedback from the Ministry of Justice, shedding light on adjustments to the progressive tariff rates for household consumers.

The key modification involves reducing the existing six progressive tariff rates to five, with a notable alteration being the threshold for the lowest rate. Instead of the current 50 kWh, this rate will now apply to those consuming below 100 kWh. Meanwhile, the highest rate will be applicable to those consuming 701 kWh and above.

These adjusted tariff rates will span a range from 90% to 180% of the average electricity tariff, which stood at VND2,006.79 per kWh as of November 9. Consequently, the lowest retail electricity tariff will be set at around VND1,806 per kWh, while the uppermost rate may climb to VND3,612 per kWh, exclusive of value-added tax.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade’s primary objective in applying five progressive tariff rates is to alleviate the burden of escalating electricity costs that low-income households face. Furthermore, these changes align the disparity between the lowest and highest rates with international standards, promoting energy saving and efficient usage.

Vietnam looks to achieve US$1.5 billion in vegetable export value

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has given its approval to a vegetable farming project set to be realized by 2030, with the ambitious goal of achieving a vegetable export value ranging from US$1 billion to US$1.5 billion.

The nationwide vegetable production is anticipated to reach an impressive 23-24 million tons, of which 1-1.3 million tons will be earmarked for processing purposes.

This project is designed to harness the natural, economic, and social advantages of the country, catering to the diverse demands of both domestic and international consumers.

Moreover, it seeks to incentivize economic entities to invest in the growth of the vegetable production and processing sector.

Local authorities will play a crucial role by implementing a range of policies aimed at attracting business investments in agriculture and rural areas.

They will also collaborate with enterprises to establish comprehensive vegetable production chains, spanning from the cultivation phase to processing and eventual product consumption.

Conferences discuss ways to expand export markets for food products

A series of conferences discussing market connection solutions for Vietnamese food and agricultural products are taking place in Ho Chi Minh City within the framework of the ongoing Vietnam Foodexpo 2023 hosted by the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT).

At a conference themed "Vietnamese agricultural products and food in the digital era", many experts and representatives from businesses updated relevant regulations, mechanisms and policies on applying information technology (IT) and digital transformation in trade promotion activities.

According to Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Do Thang Hai, with unique advantages and potential, the food industry is considered one of Vietnam's spearhead industries which plays an important role in promoting exports.

The MoIT is actively coordinating with many related units to promote activities and solutions for developing markets, improving product quality, building brands and gradually increasing the export value of Vietnamese food in the international market as part efforts to promoting sustainable development of the food industry, Hai said.

Although facing many difficulties due to the impact of the economic situation both at home and abroad, Vietnam's export prospects, especially for the farm produce and food industry, to major markets, still remain positive, he stressed.

The Vietnamese business community has increasingly focused on applying IT and digital transformation to expand sale channels, increasing investment in digital technology, researching and developing products, building brands, and strengthening  trade promotion, he added.

According to Marketing Director of Vietnam Nguyen Thi Phuong Uyen, this unit and the MoIT’s Vietnam Trade Promotion Agency (Vietrade) are coordinating to develop a Vietnam pavilion on, which gathers typical products and businesses participating in the global business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce platform to help Vietnamese brands reach out to the world market.

Meanwhile, at a conference to promote trade connection between Vietnamese and Chinese businesses in the fields of agriculture and fisheries, Vietrade Deputy Director Le Hoang Tai said there is ample room for the two countries to further expand economic and trade cooperation in the coming time.

Vietnam’s participation in free trade agrements (FTAs) has helped attract investors from China, as well as businesses that want to take advantage of the FTAs in production and export activities.

Vietnamese Trade Counselor in China Nong Duc Lai said to enhance trade connection between the Vietnamese and Chinese markets, Vietnam’s agricultural and aquatic products must meet increasingly high requirements of China in terms of quality standards, food safety, traceability, and packaging.

The Vietnamese business community should focus on opportunities to attract Chinese businesses operating in the field of processed food, thus seeking ways to boost cooperation with Chinese partners and expand market to this Asian country, he said.

Statistics showed that the import-export turnover between the two countries reached 103.92 billion USD in the first eight months of 2023. China was Vietnam's second largest export market in the period. The two-way trade is predicted to maintain growth momentum and achieve positive results in 2023.

Vietnam Foodexpo 2023, which will last until November 25, features more than 500 booths of nearly 400 domestic and international enterprises, including businesses from 30 Vietnamese cities and provinces and more than 20 countries and territories such as the US, Russia, Australia, China, the Republic of Korea, Japan.

On display are a wide range of agricultural products, aquatic products, processed foodstuff and beverages, as well as food processing, preservation and packaging technologies and equipment, among others.

Observing sanitary, phytosanitary regulations crucial to agricultural exports: conference

Participants at a conference in Hanoi on November 23 were provided with updates on commitments to sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) regulations in free trade agreements between Vietnam and member countries of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

The event was jointly held by the Vietnam Sanitary and Phytosanitary Notification Authority and Enquiry Point (SPS Vietnam) under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, and the Hanoi Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Ngo Xuan Nam, VPS Vietnam Deputy Director, warned that the violations of SPS regulations will harm not only businesses but also the entire sector and Vietnamese farm produce brands in the international market.

Vietnam has joined 19 trade agreements, both bilateral and multilateral, of them 16 officially signed and three under negotiations.
Notably, the RCEP agreement, which took effect on the first day of last year and comprises ASEAN countries, China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Australia and New Zealand, sets out many commitments, including those on SPS.

Mentioning China, one of Vietnam’s major agricultural product importers, Lo Xuan Quyet, Chief Representative of the Vietnam Trade Promotion Office in Hangzhou, suggested domestic businesses optimise advantages in geographical location, production and transportation costs and tropical products; follow VietGAP, GlobalGAP and other standards set by the neighbouring country; and enhance food safety and hygiene control to boost exports to the market.

Vietnamese firms need to comply with regulations on product quality, quarantine, packaging, and traceability set by importers, improve their foreign language skills and learn more about foreign markets, he stressed.

Petrol prices revised down on November 23

Retail petrol prices were revised down from 3pm on November 23 in the latest adjustment by the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Ministry of Finance.

Specifically, the retail prices of E5RON 92 and RON 95-III were cut by 584 VND and 506 VND to 21,690 VND (0.89 USD) and 23,024 VND (0.94 USD) per litre, respectively.

Meanwhile, those of diesel, kerosene and mazut were reduced to 20,283 VND per litre, 20,944 VND per litre, and 15,638 VND per kilogram, respectively.

The ministries decided not to deduct prices of different types of gasoline and oil for the national gasoline price stabilisation fund and refrain from using the fund.

Since the beginning of the year, domestic fuel prices have seen 33 adjustments, with 18 up, 11 down, and four unchanged.

Source: VNA/SGT/VNS/VOV/Dtinews/SGGP/VGP/Hanoitimes