Thứ Ba, ngày 25 tháng 10 năm 2016

Pay toll at Phủ Lý bypass from Nov 

Work is being completed on Phủ Lý bypass road. – Photo

HÀ NỘI – Motorists may have to start paying toll from November 6 to use the newly completed bypass road in Phủ Lý City, in northern Hà Nam Province.
FCC Infrastructure Investment JSC, the investor, has asked the transport ministry for permission to collect toll from next month.
The company has also proposed to start a trial toll collection process from October 25, where tickets are issued for vehicles but motorists don’t have to pay.
Muôn Văn Chiến, director general of FCC JSC, said most of the work on the project was over, including the lighting system, the toll booths and equipment and software for toll collection. The project has been certified by quality assurance agencies and the road’s ready for operation, he said.
Once the road is open for traffic, electronic toll collection will begin at the same time as the manual one at Nam Cầu Giẽ toll booth.
The fee for under 12-seater vehicles and under 2-tonne trucks and buses will be VNĐ25,000 (US$1.1) per entry, VNĐ750,000 ($33.6) per month and VNĐ2.02 million ($90.4) for three months. The rate levied on 4-10 tonne trucks and 12-30-seater cars will be VNĐ40,000 ($1.8), VNĐ1.2 million ($54) and VNĐ3.24 million ($145), respectively.
The construction of the bypass in Phủ Lý city - a section of National Highway 1A - began in October 2014. Being one of the key national infrastructure projects, it saw a total investment of over VNĐ2.04 trillion (US$91.6 million) under the BOT (Build-Operate-Transfer) formula and was expected to be completed by the end of 2016. The project has been completed five months ahead of schedule, thanks to the efficiency of the local authorities in clearing the site and the effort made by the contractors.
The 23.3-km-long Phủ Lý bypass is expected to reduce traffic congestion on National Highway 1A and offer a smooth connection between Hà Nam Province and its neighbours. It has four lanes for motorised vehicles, which can travel at the standard speed of 80km per hour.
Viet Nam News

Seafood exports set to top 7 billion USD this year

Workers process fishery products at the Ngo Quyen Export Seafood Processing JSC, in Kien Giang province (Photo: VNA)

HCM City - The country’s seafood exports are expected to reach 7 billion USD this year, a year-on-year increase of 5.5 percent, according to the Vietnam Association of Seafood Producers and Exporters (Vasep).

Truong Dinh Hoe, Vasep’s general secretary, said: “Seafood export revenues this year will surely reach 7 billion USD or may be a little more than that.

“In the early months of the year the seafood sector faced difficulties and challenges. Then a balance in supply and demand in the world market helped the prices of some seafood products recover.”

Thanks to that, exports of certain items like shrimp and tra fish have increased this year, though the growth was not high, he said.

The country earned 5.7 billion USD from exports in the first 10 months of the year and shipments are expected to increase significantly in the remaining months of the year because demand in the main import markets usually goes up during the year-end festive season, he said.

“We have high expectations for seafood exports in the two remaining months of the year. This will be an encouragement for seafood exporters amid market difficulties as well as a slow recovery in key export markets. This will be a foundation for us to prepare better for 2017.”- VNA

Engineering industry hindered by skills, capital shortage

The engineering industry in Vietnam is driving productivity with benefits across the economy, says the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MOIT).
However, the gap between the supply and demand for people with the requisite engineering skills is still far too large and has triggered widespread concern for the long-term future of industrial development.
A recently concluded industry analysis report by the MOITs Institute for Industrial Policy and Strategy Studies showed the domestic sector currently has the capacity to fill only about 20% of demand, with foreign engineers dominating the industry.
In addition, it showed that a doubling of the number of engineering and technology and other related local graduates who are known to be prime candidates for entering engineering occupations after graduation is essential.
Nguyen Quynh Van of the MOIT has said: Engineering is a growth industry that has great potential to drive productivity in Vietnam. However, the MOIT is deeply concerned about the need to train many more local engineering graduates if the nation is not to be left behind others in the region.

engineering industry hindered by skills, capital shortage hinh 0

Mr Van also voiced concern that the domestic engineering sector is far to undercapitalized.
He cited MOIT statistics that showed that there are only 14,800 domestic sector engineering firms in the country, and further, that they possess virtually no capital to speak of.
In fact, he said, the statistics showed that only 100 of the domestic sector engineering firms possessed at least US$22.5 million of capital, which if extrapolated out means there is only roughly US$225 million of capital sector wide.
It is indispensable the government clarify preferential loans policies for the engineering industry, said Mr Van. At a minimum the government should provide engineering firms access to guaranteed loans with interest rates at 3% or below per annum over loan periods of 10-15 years.
In addition, the government should give effect to policies providing funds for investing in activities such as hiring specialists, acquiring computer software and other cutting edge technology.
Nguyen Van Thu, chair of Vietnam Association of Mechanical Industry, added: These capital shortages are compounded by insufficient numbers of young people, most notably girls, choosing a career in engineering.
The country needs more people with the right skills to be confident that economic growth is on the right track and sustainable, he lamented.
Currently, he noted, the MOIT has set goals to meet over 50% of demand for engineering by 2025 and 60% by 2035, pointing out these goals are simply unattainable unless and until more financial support is forthcoming.
It is also time the country’s economic priorities are better reflected in the education system and that science and technology subjects are more highly promoted to more than just the obvious candidates.
We need to fundamentally change the way engineering is perceived and make it more attractive and accessible to more students by championing the creative aspects of the discipline and the fundamentally vital role engineers play in society, Mr Thu concluded.
Public question light punishment for former minister

Many of DanTri’s readers have commented on the light punishment for former minister of Industry and Trade Vu Huy Hoang, after serious violations were recently uncovered.

 Former minister of Industry and Trade Vu Huy Hoang

 The Communist Party of Vietnam's Central Committee’s Inspection Commission has proposed disciplinary measures to the Ministry of Industry and Trade party branch for the 2011-2016 period and former Minister Vu Huy Hoang for violations related to personnel.
According to the commission, the violations and shortcomings by the party branch at the Ministry of Industry and Trade and former minister Hoang had serious consequences, hurt the prestige of the party, state, the ministry and himself, as well as raised public concern so Hoang would be punished in the form of a warning and reprimand.
During its seventh meeting from October 17-21, the commission found that the ministry party branch did not operate in line with Politburo guidelines.
The commission concluded that the branch was irresponsible and had violated a number of party and state regulations on personnel.
The branch had transferred and appointed Trinh Xuan Thanh and some other officials without following the rules and procedures as well as criteria and conditions.
It violated the Ministry of Home Affairs’ Decision 83/2004/QD-BNV and Decision 81-QD/BCS the ministry branch by appointing Trinh Xuan Thanh as Deputy Chief of Office and Head of Representative Office of the Ministry in Da Nang, and Chief of Office of the party branch to the ministry.
It infringed the regulations and procedures of evaluation and planning of officials in some cases, while allowing Vu Huy Hoang, the then Minister of Industry and Trade and branch secretary to the ministry, to approve the adding of Trinh Xuan Thanh and some other officials to the planning for the position of deputy minister of Industry and Trade, at his own initiative.
The branch also went against the Law on Corruption Prevention and Control and the Law of Enterprises, as it employed Vu Quang Hai, the son of Vu Huy Hoang, as inspector of the Vietnam National Tobacco Corporation (Vinataba), and transferred him to the Saigon Beer, Alcohol and Beverage Company (Sabeco), while suggesting the adding of Hai to Sabeco’s Board of Directors and appointment of him as Deputy General Director of the company.
It lacked responsibility and violated the law in the award of the Hero of Labour title on the PetroVietnam Construction Corporation, the commission said.
Former Politburo member and former Minister of Industry and Trade Vu Huy Hoang will be responsible for violations and flaws committed by the party branch.
He personally lacked good judgement and revealed self-interest in his behaviour in terms of appointing his son as inspector of Vinataba, allowing him to join the board of directors and take the position of deputy general director of Sabeco. Hoang also violated the Party Central Committee’s regulations banned activities for its members, the Law on Corruption Prevention and Control, and the Secretariat’s regulations on officials and the party guidelines on acting responsibly and offering a good example.
He was also found guilty of failing to follow the party and state’s regulations on reception and appointment of Trinh Xuan Thanh as Deputy Chief of Office and Head of Representative Office of the Ministry in Da Nang, and Chief of Office of the party branch at the ministry.
Albeit learning of Thanh’s violations and ineligibility, he still agreed with the Party Committee of Hau Giang province’s proposal to move Thanh to work in Hau Giang for the appointment of him as Vice Chairman of the provincial party committee for 2011-2016. Hoang asked the provincial party committee to make it easier for Thanh to join its standing committee, which was not under his authority. Before that, the former minister made dishonest reports about PVC’s activities and Thanh.
Hoang also infringed principles, process, procedures and criteria when it came to personnel appraisal, planning, and approval of deputy minister post for Thanh and several other individuals.
In their comments sent to Dan Tri/DTiNews newspaper on the news about the punishment, many readers said that the punishment to Hoang was too light compared to his serious violations.
A reader named Nguyen Phi said a wrongdoing by a leader will lead to a number of mistakes by his staff. Here the leader of the Ministry of Industry and Trade was found to have committed many wrongdoings, which caused so many bad consequences. Why could he be given so small fine? I want the party general secretary to be more strict to prevent future violations.
Another reader, Le Quang Vinh, commented: With such serious violations, Hoang has hurt the prestige of the party, and the belief of people. He deserves much stricter punishment.
By Bui Hoang Tam |
Ho Chi Minh City has ‘no time to react’ to abrupt budget cut proposal

Ho Chi Minh City. Tuoi Tre
 A proposal to cut a portion of Ho Chi Minh City’s annual revenue in the 2017-2020 period has disturbed city officials and economic experts alike.
The proposal was made during a working session of Vietnam’s lawmaking National Assembly on Saturday afternoon, when the country’s legislators discussed budget plans for 2017-2020.
Currently, Ho Chi Minh City keeps 23 percent of its annual revenue, with the remaining added to state coffers. But the proposal suggests cutting this to 18 percent.
This translates into an approximate VND80 trillion (US$3.57 billion) budget cut each year for the economic hub, which contributes more to state coffers than any of the country’s other administrative divisions.
Ho Chi Minh City Deputy Party Chief and People’s Council President Nguyen Thi Quyet Tam voiced her objection to the idea at Saturday’s NA discussion, saying the city's administration had never backed out of fulfilling even the most challenging tasks set upon them by the central government.
“But do not count on that and make it too difficult for Ho Chi Minh City,” she said.
According to Tam, the city currently needs over VND500 trillion ($22.32 billion) in capital to invest in its infrastructure, which she said was “too cramped”.
The deputy party chief added that Ho Chi Minh City had reduced its recurrent expenditure to the absolute limit, and that any further budget cuts would only hurt the city’s development and infrastructure, impacting the entire region.
As the country’s economic hub, Ho Chi Minh City welcomes hundreds of thousand of non-resident students who flood to the city every year, as well as a similar number of workers from other cities and provinces who take up jobs in the city’s massive industrial and export processing zones.
“Such an abrupt budget cut would leave [Ho Chi Minh City’s] economy with no time to react. The Government and National Assembly needs to reconsider [this proposal],” Tam said.

Nguyen Thi Quyet Tam, Ho Chi Minh City Deputy Party Chief and People’s Council President, at the National Assembly working session on October 22, 2016. Photo: Tuoi Tre

Even with 23 percent of its revenue retained, Ho Chi Minh City still finds itself short of capital for traffic network development plans, as its current budget only meets 30 percent of the money required, according to Director of the municipal Department of Transport Bui Xuan Cuong.
This is not the first time the city administration has complained about budget allowances relative to the size of its economy, as Ho Chi Minh City leaders have repeatedly called for a new financial and administrative mechanism to replace the current one that they say has been stopping the southern metropolis from developing to its potential.
The latest proposal was made in early June, when the city’s administration asked for a special mechanism that would allow it to retain a portion of export-import tax revenue; levy a surcharge tax on specific businesses and keep all of the money generated from the privatization of state-owned firms operating in the city.
Based on Saturday’s budget cut proposal, it seems that these calls by city leaders have been ignored by the central Government.
Revenue of approximately VND367 trillion ($16.38 billion) is anticipated for Ho Chi Minh City in 2017, which means that should the proposed cut go through, the city will keep VND66.06 trillion ($2.95 billion).

Vehicles stuck in a traffic congestion in Ho CHi Minh CIty. Photo: Tuoi Tre
Luong DInh Cua Street in District 2, Ho Chi Minh City is heavily flooded after a torrential downpour on September 26, 2016. Photo: Tuoi Tre

Quang Ngai gives ultimatum to Tan Tao project
The Quang Ngai Provincial People’s Committee has notified a subsidiary of the Tan Tao Group that the company will have to finalize solutions to deal with its long-delayed Vina Universal Paradise Trade and Service Complex project.
“Local authorities sent a further document on October 19 urging the investor to choose a solution,” Ms. Ho Minh Hoa, Head of the Foreign Economic Relations Division at the provincial Department of Planning and Investment (DPI), told VET.
In this latest document the company was asked to choose one of two solutions. 
In the first, the investor is to proceed with the project according to the timeframe set in the adjusted investment license issued in August 2014 and must fully complete the project by 2018. If this option is chosen, the province will agree to the investor establishing a restructuring scheme for a partial adjustment in the eastern area of the project.
The second option is for the company to consider transferring the project to another investor within six months from September. At the end of March next year, if the company has not transferred the project then local authorities will revoke the license and allocate the project to another investor.
The investor lacking financial capacity and not coordinating with related local departments to deal with obstacles during the implementation have led to continued difficulties in site clearance for the project, according to the provincial People’s Committee.
Two months ago the province sent a warning to the subsidiary of the Tan Tao Group that its project may appear on the list of projects whose license may be revoked due to long delays in implementation. Accelerating construction progress is an urgent matter, it wrote, in ensuring the needs of the province’s urban development planning and in stabilizing lives for residents where the project is located.
The company was licensed in 2008 to develop the Vina Universal Paradise Trade and Service Complex and had total registered investment capital of around $55 million, covering an area of 56.5 ha in Son Tinh district. Under the original planning the project was to be completed within four years and would include a residential area of 237 houses, 183 villas, and 56 bungalows, a public area, and five trade and service blocks.
The investor is still to complete compensation payments and build resettlement areas for residents affected by the project. The long delay in construction has turned the project area into a wasteland while residents have no land for cultivation or construction.
The investor previously proposed provincial authorities provide an extension to the deadline to 2018 so it may complete the final stages, including service facilities, commercial areas, and landscaping, which was rejected.
The Tan Tao Group is one of the largest private groups in Vietnam and operates in a number of fields, ranging from property to power generation, water supply and education.
Dong Thap fruit fair revenue reaches VND1.2 billion
Revenue from trading fruit products at the second fruit fair in 2016 held in Dong Thap Province reached VND1.2 billion, according to the Dong Thap Department of Industry and Trade.
The fruit fair was organised from October 21-23 at CoopMart Dong Thap supermarket in Dong Thap Province by the Dong Thap Department of Industry and Trade, the Dong Thap Department of Agriculture and Rural Department and Coop Mart.
Some 12 tonnes of fruit were sold at the fair, including 6.2 tonnes of Cao Lanh mango, the most popular product; 3.5 tonnes of oranges; one tonne of dragon fruit, and many kinds of processed fruit products.
Fruit producers in Chau Thanh, Cao Lanh, Lai Vung and Lap Vo, as well as Thanh Binh and Cao Lanh City displayed several varities of fruits at 20 pavilions at the fair, including oranges, pomelo, longan and plum, as well as guava, mango, melon and watermelon, along with dragon fruit, rambutan, lotus and other processed fruit products.
Nguyen Thanh Tai, deputy director of the Dong Thap Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said agricultural production, especially fruit production, has been the key economic sector in Dong Thap. The province has fruit trees growing on 25,000ha of land, including mango, longan and lemon. These fruits are produced under VietGap and GlobalGap and exported to many markets in the world. 
To meet market demand, growers have converted from a small to a larger scale of production, with safe production process and traceability of products to improve competitive ability of fruit products in Dong Thap, he said.
Phan Kim Sa, deputy director of the Dong Thap Department of Industry and Trade, said the province would ask cooperatives, production and processing facilities and farmers to build the brand, seek new markets, apply technology for fruit preservation and develop links between production and consumption of fruits.
This fair was an opportunity to advertise farming products with safe production and meeting food safety and hygiene standards to consumers, in addition to creating good conditions for farmers to build links with supermarkets, trading centres, fruit processors and exporters in provinces and in other places. 
Coal import needed for economic growth, energy security: official
The nine-month imports of coal reached 10.5 million tonnes, shooting up 147 percent from a year earlier, and this trend will continue in the next years to meet economic growth demand and ensure energy security. 
Nguyen Khac Tho, Deputy Director General of the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s General Department of Energy, made the remark at a teleconference held by the Government’s website on October 24. 
He said the coal industry is facing an array of difficulties as global prices have continuously tumbled in recent years, and it must dig deeper into the ground to mine for coal. Meanwhile, many coal-fired power plants have become operational, boosting coal demand. 
During the period, major importers are Dong Bac Corporation and Vietnam National Coal-Mineral Industries Holding Corporation Limited (Vinacomin). They bought coal from such countries as China, Russia and Australia, said Vinacomin Deputy General Director Nguyen Van Bien.
He explained that from January to September, Vinacomin extracted 26.7 million tonnes of raw coal and sold 25.7 million tonnes. Although the unsold inventory is quite high, 10.8 million tonnes, there is a shortage of clean coal for domestic consumption. 
Meanwhile, many taxes and fees on domestic coal mining have risen continually. The natural resources tax alone is already 7 – 10 percent higher than that in regional countries. Additionally, many countries have slashed their coal export tariffs to zero percent, which is also the rate of coal import tariff in Vietnam. 
As a result, there has been a surge of coal imports, and Vinacomin was forced to reduce its production activities, which in turn has affected its employees, Bien noted. 
Deputy Director General Tho said the import of coal for thermal power plants is very important to energy security of the nation. As planned, Vietnam will have to import a big volume of coal after 2017 and the purchase will increase sharply from 2020, mainly to serve thermal power factories. 
He added the Ministry of Industry and Trade has revised the plan for coal industry development until 2020, which prioritises coal for domestic use and looks to gradually cut down exports. It states that Vietnam will ship abroad only the types of coal that aren’t in demand domestically.
Vietnam, Netherlands partner to improve farm produce’s value
A delegation of 10 Dutch businesses held a dialogue with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in Hanoi on October 24 to explore business opportunities in farm produce. 
The dialogue took place during the Vietnam visit by Dutch Foreign Minister Lan Marten van den Berg from October 24-25. 
The Netherlands and Vietnam formed the strategic partnership in water management and climate change adaptation in 2010, and in sustainable agriculture and food security in 2014. 
Both sides discussed expertise and innovations in agriculture, especially in food security and safety, and technology transfer. 
Manager for International Agribusiness Michiel van Erkel, who led the Dutch delegation, believed that close cooperation will allow Vietnam and the Netherlands to increase value to the supply of more safe, sustainably-produced food. 
Nathan Belete, Manager of the World Bank Agriculture & Food Practice, hailed Vietnam’s potential of high-value food such as nuts, spices, processed and eco-friendly food with geographical indication. 
Director of the Institute of Policy and Strategy for Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Do Anh Tuan said businesses which boast feasible projects could contact the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) if they want to hire a vast land area for production at preferential prices. 
Vice Director of the Vietnam Sanitary and Phytosanitary Notification Authority and Enquiry Point Le Thanh Hoa suggested Dutch firms partner with those licensed to export aquatic products as listed by the MARD. 
On the opening of the beef market in Vietnam, Hoa proposed both sides hold bilateral negotiations to gradually devise a roadmap in the field.
Belarus to support Hanoi in developing public transport
Visiting Belarusian Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Semashko has shared his country’s wish to expand links with Hanoi, especially in developing public transport.
During a working session with Vice Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee Nguyen Van Suu on October 24, Semashko suggested Hanoi ’s authorities consider cooperation with Belarus in developing metro lines and electricity-powered bus system in the city.
Belarusian corporations have experience in assembling and manufacturing automobile spare parts and environmentally friendly vehicles, he said, adding that his country willingly supports Hanoi in the field.
He also proposed connection with Hanoi in light industry and trade-service, saying that Belarus is willing to give tax incentives to Vietnamese enterprises and those from Hanoi in particular, if they pour investment into the Eastern European country.
For his part, Suu said that public transport development is one of the urgent targets of Hanoi.
According to the official, the capital city is calling for investment in constructing eight railway and metro lines in the coming time. The city is also seeking to replace existing public vehicles with gas and electricity–powered ones.
He said the municipal authorities will send a working delegation including representatives from departments and sectors, to Belarus in the time ahead to study cooperation opportunities between the two sides.
Both host and guest agreed to work closely to enhance win-win collaboration, laying a foundation for their sustainable connection in the future.
JinkoSolar seeks to build solar power plant in Hau Giang
Executives of JinkoSolar Holding Co., Ltd, a global leader in the solar industry, had a working session with Hau Giang authorities on October 24, presenting its plan to build a solar power plant in the Mekong Delta province. 
According to James Gia Co, coordinator of the company’s projects in Vietnam, at the cost of 1.2 trillion VND (54 million USD), the JinkoSolar Vietnam – Hau Giang plant will have a designed capacity of approximately 40 MW. 
It will cover about 50 hectares at a location registered in Phung Hiep district’s Hoa An commune. 
Administrative procedures are expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of this year, with land clearance, plant construction and operation scheduled for 2017. 
Nguyen Van Tuan, Deputy Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee, said Hau Giang will facilitate the implementation of the energy project. 
JinkoSolar Vietnam has to promptly submit details of the project, particularly its scale and environmental impacts, he noted. 
In 2015, Hau Giang licensed the PetroVietnam Song Hong Investment and Trading Corporation to build a solar power plant worth over 1.5 trillion VND (67.5 million USD) in the same locality. The 40-MW plant will become operational in the second quarter of 2017.
HCM City to host int'l fair for mothers, kids
The Viet Nam International Maternity, Baby and Kids Fair (Viet Baby Fair 2016) will be held in HCM City from November 3 to 5.
To be held at the Saigon Exhibition and Convention Centre in District 7, it will feature various products and services for mothers and kids such as foods, toys, clothes, household utensils, cosmetics, health products and educational services.
The fourth Viet Baby Fair is expected to have 252 booths set up by 163 exhibitors from 14 countries and territories, including over 85 Korean firms.
There will be famous education, nutrition, toys, kitchen utensils, interiors and other brands like Wall Street English, Global Art, VMIT, Monte, Modilac, Heinz, Andrew's Toy, Nam Hoa, Baby Plaza, Smart Baby, Pham Phu Gia, Jadiny, Agabang, Lullaby, Esteem and Earth Mama, American Chiropractic Clinic and City International Hospital.
Several seminars on healthcare and nutrition, tips for mothers and other topics will be held during the fair.
The fair will also feature many activities for children like games, a kids' fashion show, and entertainment.
To be organised by Coex Viet Nam, SEGE Fairs Co., Ltd, Me&Con magazine, Webtretho forum and Vinexad, the biggest fair of its kind in the country is expected to attract more than 50,000 visitors. 
Vietnam is perfect fit for textile firms
Despite uncertainty surrounding the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, foreign textile and garment firms are still investing heavily in Vietnam.
In the northern province of Vinh Phuc, Hong Kong-based TAL Group officially launched a US$50 million project to manufacture fabrics, garments, and textiles last week.
Located in Ba Thien Industrial Park (IP), the plant is expected to churn out 12 million products per year and create 3,500 jobs. This is TAL Group’s second project in Vietnam, after it entered the country in 2004 to set up a US$40 million textile-garment factory in Phuc Khanh IP in the northern province of Thai Binh, currently employing more than 3,000 workers.
TAL Group, a private, family-owned firm, is one of the world’s largest clothing manufacturers-with 25,000 workers at eight factories worldwide. It specializes in the manufacture of quality men’s and women’s garments for leading apparel brands.
China-based Texhong Group, one of the world’s largest yarn suppliers, just confirmed its investment in Vietnam earlier this month.
The group’s founder and chairman, Hong Tianzhu, said that, even without the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) the competitiveness of the company’s Vietnam operation “is very strong [compared with other] Southeast Asian nations, and even compared to Chinese production bases.”
Texhong Group has been aggressively raising production capabilities in TPP signatory Vietnam. Tianzhu has said that one of the main intentions of the company’s Vietnamese investment is to benefit from the trade agreement.
Execution of the TPP “will pose new challenges to China’s textile and apparel enterprises,” so the company is building up its Vietnam operation “with respect to the cost advantages” and prospects of the pact, he said in the company’s annual report in March.
Vuong Duc Anh, director of the Import-Export Department under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, said, “Vietnam’s garment and textile exports grew 8% each year in the past, before any trade agreements had been discussed. This was still one of the key industries of the economy.”
Much of this growth is predicted to come from the textile and garment industry’s exports to the US and other countries. Vietnam has a cost advantage in the labour-intensive garment segment and could exploit the preferential access to big markets granted by the TPP.
According to a consultant of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), a number of Japanese investors were implementing a “China+1” business strategy.
Instead of focusing only on China, they would also open another production location so as to diversify their supply sources. Vietnam is among the locations that receive their attention.
“With reasonable labour costs, Vietnam is one of the most recommended candidates for Japanese garment and textile businesses to choose when seeking a new investment destination,” he said.
“Many delegations came to Vietnam to find partners for joint ventures in textile and garments, as well as to build their plants. [This is thanks to it being a] low-cost sourcing alternative to other [countries], and its stable political and economic environment.”
Industry insiders said that the trend of increased investment and expanded production among foreign-invested projects in Vietnam is still evolving, only in part due to the benefits that would be reaped by the nation’s free-trade agreements on the horizon. 
“We see that Vietnam’s market is moving fast. The company has a vision to thrive within the market, making Vietnam one of our biggest investments and an important market in our global business plan,” said Paul Hulme, president of Singapore’s Huntsman Textile Effects.
Last year, the company inaugurated a new bonded warehouse with a capacity of 250 tonnes of dyes and chemicals near Ho Chi Minh City.
Gov’t to report Long Thanh airport feasibility to NA in 2018
The Government will strive to submit the feasibility study report for the first phase of Long Thanh International Airport project to the National Assembly by the end of 2018.
In a report to the NA about the progress of the project, the Government said that the feasibility study’s establishment has run eight months behind schedule so far. However the project implementation would be basically on schedule.
The NA approved the policy of building the new airport in a resolution issued on June 25, 2015.
According to regulations, feasibility study reports for each phase of the project must be submitted to the NA for approval.
The Government has tasked the Airports Corporation of Vietnam to be investor of the feasibility study report. The company has been permitted to use capital from its development investment fund to invite tenders for the report.
At present, it is organizing an examination to choose a design for the airport’s terminal which is expected to complete by the end of the year including the time to get public opinions.
Afterwards relevant agencies will select a consultant unit to set up the feasibility study report from December this year to March 2017 and complete it within 16 months to submit to the NA by 2018.
The airport is now under preparations for investment and needs to focus on the first phase feasibility study and a project on site clearance, compensation and resettlement.
So far, the People’s Committee in the southern province of Dong Nai has finished information collection to build the project, which also counts employment and re-organization of citizens’ life after relocation.
The Prime Minister has assigned the committee to develop a specific mechanism on land withdrawal and resettlement of the project to speed up its progress. At present, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment is now assessing the mechanism.
The Government will continue following phases of the Long Thanh airport project after the NA approve the feasibility study report.
Experts point out weaknesses of SMEs in Vietnam
Most of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have been developed from business households and affirmed their role to the country’s economy, however they have mainly operated locally and been vulnerable to competitive integration, according to experts Dau Anh Tuan and Pham Ngoc Thach from the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
This group of enterprises has contributed to 45 percent Gross Domestic Product, 31 percent budget revenue, 50 percent yearly national economic growth a year and 51 percent social employments as of 2015.
Still, they have showed many limitations such as spontaneous development over small scale with a shortage of connectivity, weak management and financial ability, small market and not high competitiveness.
The SMEs White Book in 2014 announced by the Ministry of Planning and Investment indicates that 97.6 percent of businesses in Vietnam are small and medium sizes. Those operating in commerce and service field have less than 100 workers each and firms in other fields have less than 300 workers.
The Government has issued many policies to develop SMEs including Decree 90 and 56.
Many programs have been launched to provide firms with preferential treatments in capital, land, technology innovation, market expanding and human resource development.
However they have not in fact brought efficiency as expected.
According to a survey on Provincial Competitiveness Index (PCI) 2015 by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry, 77 percent of super small enterprises, 69 percent small and 55 percent medium sized firms have developed from business households.
Global integration and severe market competition have required businesses to have higher management ability and catch up with market demand. Vietnam’s economic development much depends on businesses’ attendance in the global value chain.
Yet after ten years of Vietnam’s WTO membership, most of private firms have just operated domestically. The connectivity between them with foreign direct investment (FDI) firms through providing goods and services has been limited.
PCI 2015 says that only 3-4 percent small firms have customers who are FDI firms. This is because of their marketing weaknesses. Besides, many have failed to meet production management and quality standards by FDI firms.
So far, many SMEs have not grasped information about ASEAN Economic Community and free trade agreements that Vietnam has signed such as EU-Vietnam FTA and Trans-Pacific Partnership.
The number of loss making ones last year was rather high including 32 percent super small firms, 17 percent small, 16 percent medium and 10 percent large companies.
SMEs have reported difficulties in accessing information related to them and forecasting changes in the law.
Only 11 percent of super small, 12 percent small and 16 percent medium companies asked in the PCI 2015 survey said that they were capable to forecast legal regulation changes affecting to their operation.
Worse, only 7 percent super small and small firms and 8 percent medium enterprises said that they were able to predict provinces and cities’ implementation of legal documents.
The survey also showed that SMEs have faced with loan access difficulties.
At present, only 48 percent small companies and 66 super small firms have got bank loans. Many have been unable to access this capital source because having no mortgages.
Even when they have collaterals, the loan time to them is also within a year with interest rate higher than that for other groups of businesses.
The capital access difficulties have made it difficult for them to implement their long term business plans to broaden production and trading.
Moreover, many provinces and cities have policies to remove production establishments including SMEs from urban areas to reduce and prevent pollution and fires.
Most SMEs have struggled to find places to remove in because they have been unaffordable for high rent at industrial parks and clusters, as well as time consuming and costly cargo transport.
Many local authorities have spent their budget on building these parks which have mainly served FDI and large firms.
Vina-Mazda and Yamaha Vietnam recall defective products
Vietnam Register has allowed Vina-Mazda, the official distributor of Mazda Japan, and Yamaha Motor Vietnam to recall 4,809 Mazda 2 All New cars and 31,650 Yamaha Acruzo scooters over technical defects.
Vina-Mazda will withdraw Mazda 2 All New autos to fix an error due to carbon sticking on the fuel injection, which reduces the amount of fuel flowing into the combustor and causes the check engine light to turn on. The carbon deposit in the fuel injection system is due to zinc sulfate in the fuel system.
The autos subject to the recall were manufactured between August 24 last year and September 26 this year, and the recall will start on November 18 and is expected to last until December 31 next year.
Meanwhile, according to the Vietnam Register, Yamaha Motor Vietnam is recalling the Acruzo scooter to replace the automatic clutch system and update the ECU.
Yamaha said the affected scooters were manufactured between September 22 last year and August 3 this year. The defect causes the scooter to vibrate when in operation.
The Japanese-owned company will start the recall on March 19, with the fixing time for each scooter expected to last more than one hour.
HoREA: Property prices unlikely to shoot up
HCMC’s real estate market in the fourth quarter of this year is expected to grow slightly against the previous quarter but in general, it has showed signs of a slowdown and property prices are not likely to surge in the final months of this year and next year, the HCMC Real Estate Association (HoREA) said in a report.
The market has been seeing a mismatch in supply and demand as many luxury real estate projects are available on the market while the volume of budget homes costing around VND15 million (US$672) per square meter for sale and low-cost projects for lease is small.
In the January-September period, 24,461 apartments, 99.6% of them condos and 999 low-rise housing buildings, were launched on the market. Most of them belong to the luxury segment.
For budget policy-housing projects, the city currently has only eight projects funded by the VND30-trillion home loan program of the Government, three developed by private investors, and 39 others expected to be implemented in the next four years.
Aside from the residential area in the southern part including districts 7 and Nha Be, HCMC is seeing luxury projects shooting up in the east, stretching from the western bank of the Saigon River in Binh Thanh District, districts 1 and 4 to District 2, part of District 9 and Thu Duc District. There are also other luxury housing projects going up in districts 6, Tan Phu, Tan Binh and Phu Nhuan.
The number transactions in the secondary market has made up 50% of the total volume, which is quite worrying as it can push property prices up.
However, HoREA said it is difficult for property prices to leap late this year and next year.
It explains that the economy will not expand quickly next year as it is still recovering and will post slow growth while the Government and the central bank are taking a prudent approach towards credit.
EU investments to fall if Vietnam-EU FTA delayed
If the ratification of a free trade agreement between Vietnam and the European Union (Vietnam-EU FTA) is delayed, European firms’ confidence in Vietnam’s economic prospects would weaken, leading their investments to fall.
Michael Behrens, chairman of the European Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam (EuroCham Vietnam), told reporters in HCMC last week that he expects the Vietnam-EU FTA could go into force at the end of next year as planned.
Britain’s exit from the EU would not affect the FTA, he said and dismissed the possibility of re-negotiating the trade pact. He said the re-negotiation process would take much time and that the Vietnamese Government would not let this happen.
“European businesses are confident about Vietnam’s market, buoyed by expectations that the FTA will take effect in the coming time. If the ratification of the FTA is delayed, their confidence will be damaged and their investments will shrink. But we think this will not happen,” Behrens said.  
He added Vietnam’s exports to the EU are forecast to rise by 50% thanks to the FTA and the EU will gain the same growth in its exports to Vietnam.
He said many more European corporations would enter Vietnam for investment and transfer modern technology to local partners.  
EuroCham Vietnam currently has 900 member firms. It has offices in Hanoi and HCMC and plans to set up a new office in Danang to support European businesses in the central part of the nation.  
According to the EuroCham Business Climate Index (BCI) survey released on Tuesday, nearly 72% of 200 European firms participating in the survey describe their current business situation as “excellent” and “good”.
Meanwhile, around 52% declared their intention to add staff, of which about 16% said they are willing to hire significantly in the near future.
Besides, most respondents plan to maintain their level of investment in the country, with this group representing nearly 41% of the total.
However, those intending to increase their investment are not far away from the latter number with 39% willing to invest more, and 17% planning to invest significantly.
Divesting businesses were marginal, with less than 1% saying they plan to do so, a sharp fall from 7% last quarter.
South Koreans rush to Danang to play golf
South Korea has overtaken China as the largest source market for the tourism sector of the central coast city of Danang as the number of Korean golfers has been sharply rising.
There are 53 weekly flights leaving Korea’s two major cities – Busan and Seoul – for Danang, almost double the same period last year. Korean tourists prefer package tours lasting four days and three nights, or five days and four nights to visit Danang and neighboring Hoi An, an ancient town on UNESCO’s World Heritage list. Many of them come for golf as this is a favorite sport of high-income Koreans.
“Danang has four beautiful and high-quality golf courses, which have helped bring Korean visitors to the city. Danang visits by Korean music and movie celebrities has made the city more popular,” said Tran Chi Cuong, deputy director of the Danang Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism.
Travel firms in HCMC said some Vietnamese tour operators are offering golf tour programs for customers in South Korea. However, Koreans tend not to buy package tours from local companies.
Cuong noted that while Chinese visitors mainly fly to Vietnam on chartered flights, many Koreans choose scheduled flights operated by Vietnamese and foreign airlines, thus guaranteeing a steady number of visitor arrivals to the city,” he said.
International visitor arrivals to Danang in January-September soared 26% year-on-year to reach 1.3 million, with around 300,000 of them Koreans. However, South Korea is expected to overtake China, becoming the biggest market of the Danang tourism.
Kido Corp. has new deputy general director
Nguyen Thi Hanh, former general director of the Saigon Union of Trading Co-operatives (Saigon Co.op), has joined local food firm Kido Corp. as deputy general director to take charge of packaged food at the company.
With 14 years of  holding senior management positions at some leading retailers, Hanh is expected to direct Kido Corp. to promptly increase its local market share as well as to expand to Southeast Asian countries.
Previously, Hanh was also chairwoman of SCID, board member of Saigoncoop – Fairprice (Singapore), and board member of Saigoncoop – Mappletree (Singapore).
Hanh is among entrepreneurs to apply new management styles and modern trading activities and to help build strategic plans to bring success to her companies.
Kido Corp., formerly Kinh Do Corp. was established in 1993. Kido is one of the leading food firms in Vietnam. During 23 years of development, Kido has maintained its leading position in sectors for ice-cream, milk and milk-related products and has expanded its portfolio to instant noodles, cooking oil, dumpling, bouillon powder and packaging products, among others.
Rice husks could bring US$240 million a year to Vietnamese farmers
Vietnamese farmers could earn an additional US$240 million a year from burning rice husks into ash that contains silica, a material with a wide variety of applications.
Vietnam’s rice output in 2015 was estimated at 45 million tonnes, of which 9 million tonnes were husks, most of which used to be discarded or used in rudimentary brick kilns.
Rice husk ash contains silica, which can be used to make tyres, solar cells, ceramics and heat-resistant materials, among others.
According to an estimate, with the current price at VND600,000 for a tonne of rice husks, Vietnamese farmers could earn an extra VND5.4 trillion (about US$240 million) a year from selling the commodity.
This mean the value of rice husks is equivalent to 10% of rice exports.
The commodity can be exported or sold to domestic companies operating in this field.
On the world market, the price of amorphous silica varies greatly depending on its quality, with a tonne of silica for metallurgy costing US$500 and a tonne of high-quality silica for the production of solar cells selling at US$1,500.
Additional VND3.6 trillion of reciprocal capital granted for ODA projects
The Prime Minister has approved a plan to add VND3.6 trillion of reciprocal capital to projects using ODA capital from the medium-term public investment plan for 2016-2020.
Accordingly, the Ministry of Transport and nine provinces, including Yen Bai, Phu Tho, Nghe An, Quang Tri, Phu Yen, Dak Lak, Tien Giang and Tra Vinh, will receive these funds for projects and programmes using ODA loans and concessional loans from donors.
The Ministry of Transport and the nine provinces have been required to manage and use the capital effectively.
The Prime Minister has also asked the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI) to report the capital levels for the Ministry of Transport and the nine provinces.
Meanwhile, the MPI and the Ministry of Finance have also been urged arrange capital for the medium-term public investment plan for 2016-2020 to refund the advanced amount.
Niche passion fruit growers expect good harvest
Vietnam niche fruit growers and processors are looking forward to realizing a 30-50% increase in passion fruit exports as they eagerly await the start of harvest season in November.
Sales to France, the company’s largest overseas market, says Daniel Huynh, CEO of Viet Exotic Co., Ltd, are expected to more than double this year as demand continues to see explosive growth.
Our company harvests and ships passion fruit to France and other countries in the EU throughout the year, said Mr Huynh, but our biggest season starts in late October and runs through mid-April.
He said Viet Exotic Co., Ltd elected to forego the larger Asian market, which has obvious advantages of proximity and size in favour of the niche markets in the EU for reasons of profitability.
Orders in the Asian market are generally for larger quantities of fruit that we simply can’t handle. As well, the profit margins are much too thin.
France is Viet Exotic’s favourite and largest EU market with relatively stable prices in every part of the year. In addition, the company ships passion fruit on a regular and recurring basis to Switzerland, Holland, Germany and Italy.
He said his company ships four metric tons of passion fruit every week to the EU market by air, adding that meeting the tough European quality standards has been a major undertaking.
Most of our fruit is sourced from local smallholders who require a great deal of oversight to ensure compliance with the strict EU standards.
The major hurdle we face is the overuse and abuse of pesticides so prevalent in Vietnam agriculture, so we have to spend an inordinate amount of time ensuring our suppliers comply with EU rules.
There's a lot of work that goes into supervising the farms to ensure we only process clean fruit.
In addition, Mr Daniel noted that Viet Exotic imports its passion fruit seedlings from Taiwan for quality control purposes.
He said his person favourite variety is Tainon One from Taiwan and it is also the biggest seller in Europe.
Vietnam growers have decent varieties that are fine but, he said—however, Viet Exotic prefers getting seedlings from Taiwan as they are assured of a good quality for export which is the number one concern.
He also added that sourcing the seedlings isn’t as easy as it sounds.
Seedling imports require the authorization of the Vietnam government, which is very strict and specific on the quantity and quality of seedlings being brought into the country.
Despite the obstacles, he believes that the market for passion fruit will continue to grow in the EU, noting there is ample opportunity for Vietnamese niche fruit growers if they work smart, hard and ensure proper standards are met.
Support for female entrepreneurs in short supply
The number of women-owned businesses (WOBs) in Vietnam is expected to increase to 35 per cent of the 90 per cent of Vietnamese enterprises that are small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) by 2020 despite the many difficulties stemming from a lack of policy support, a conference on supporting WOBs and a draft law on supporting SMEs held by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Mekong Business Initiative (MBI), and the Australian Government on October 18 heard.
WOBs currently account for 25 per cent of the 90 per cent of enterprises that are SMEs in Vietnam, creating 1.08 million jobs and contributing around VND33.1 trillion ($1.48 billion) to the State budget to date. The government targets WOBs to reach 350,000 by 2020.
According to Mr. Tom Moyes, Director of MBI, women have a major opportunity to play a leading role in economic integration across Asia as they are standing up and being active, even more so than men in some cases.
“WOBs still face many challenges and difficulties relating to finance, market information, training opportunities, trade promotion and government resources,” said Ms. Mai Thi Thuy, Chairwoman of the Hanoi Women’s Association of Small & Medium Enterprises (Hawasme). “Female entrepreneurs in Vietnam also face obstacles in balancing work and family.”
An MBI report released at the conference showed that many of the challenges facing WOBs are generic and also shared by male business owners. Such challenges include limited capital, inadequate market information, ambiguous rules and regulations, and a shortage of skilled employees.
Female entrepreneurs also confront barriers that are gender-specific, however, including a lack of business and financial management training, insufficient networking opportunities, and difficulties in balancing work and their greater share of family responsibilities.
“For a long time WOBs have lacked support from the government,” said Mr. Hoang Quang Phong, Deputy Chairman of VCCI. “The draft law on supporting SMEs, especially WOBs, is therefore necessary in order to encourage the contribution made by WOBs to the country’s development.”
In 2010 there were 65,000 WOBs, which increased by 40 per cent to 91,000 in 2015.
The government signed Decision No. 2351 in December 2010 regarding the National Strategy on Gender Equality in the 2011-2020 Period. The number of WOBs was to reach 30 per cent of the 90 per cent of enterprises that are SMEs in 2015 and 35 per cent, or 350,000, by 2020.
NA Standing Committee firm against public debt rise
The National Assembly (NA) Standing Committee will not sway toward allowing public debt to beat the permissible ceiling of 65% of gross domestic product (GDP), said NA General Secretary Nguyen Hanh Phuc on October 18.
Phuc was speaking at a news briefing on the second NA sitting slated to open this Thursday in Hanoi.
Public debt surpassed the ceiling of 50% of GDP in the previous two years. The Government has projected that public debt might reach 64.98% of GDP at the end of the year.
Many forecasts show public debt would exceed the 65% cap if the economic growth target is missed. 
Phuc said if public debt beats the ceiling, the NA and the Government should be held responsible for that.
He hailed the Ministry of Finance’s plan to give State officials a monthly allowance to travel to work, instead of using State-owned cars, but descried the plane as inefficient because the number of State-owned cars at the ministry remains the same.
He proposed public administrative agencies should manage cars well and that State officials must register when they need to use cars to ensure efficiency.
Four draft laws and one resolution will go before the NA at its second sitting. Besides, NA deputies will give comments on 12 other draft laws. 
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement will not be presented at the NA session this time as government agencies need more time to prepare for deliberation, Phuc noted.
Vietnam imports from Korea grow sharply
Vietnam’s imports from South Korea in January-September amounted to US$23 billion, up by US$2.1 billion year-on-year.
Data of the General Department of Customs showed Vietnam spent 44 groups of goods from Korea ranging from raw materials to finished products.
January-September fuel imports from Korea totaled more than 1.2 million tons worth US$555.7 million, up almost six times in volume and four times in value. This is because gasoline imports from Korea enjoy a low tax of 10% and 5% for other fuels.
Imports of computers, electronics and parts reached US$6.38 billion, up US$1.25 billion year-on-year. For other groups such as phones, machines and equipment, Vietnam imported US$300 million worth.
Korea remained Vietnam’s second biggest exporter thanks to its sharp growth in export to Vietnam, after China with its total exports to Vietnam being US$13 billion higher than Korea. Last year, the gap was US$15.8 billion.
Canadian frigate visits HCMC
A group of Vietnam Navy officers takes a tour on HMCS Vancouver, a Halifax-class frigate of the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN), which arrived at the Saigon Port in District 1, HCMC on October 18 for a four-day visit to the city.
The Vietnamese naval officers, and representatives of the Canadian Consulate General in HCMC and the Canadian community in the city attended an event to welcome commander/captain Clive Butler, 36 officers and 200 crew members of the naval ship.
The trip of HMCS Vancouver is part of the Westploy 16 to build relations between the RCN and the naval forces of Asia-Pacific countries and to promote peace and security in the region. The vessel will depart on October 21. This is the third ship of the RCN to visit Vietnam.
No draft amendments to business laws to go before NA
Flaws in key business laws will not be removed anytime soon as no draft revisions to these laws will be presented to the National Assembly at its next session which opens this Thursday.
The National Assembly (NA) Standing Committee on October 18 gave a thumbs down to a Government-prepared draft law that amends and supplements some articles in the investment, enterprise and construction laws, making it impossible to introduce the draft law to lawmakers at the upcoming NA session in Hanoi.
It took the Government less than a month to complete the drafting of this law intended to improving the investment and business climate by doing away with some business conditions.
The draft law has been made compact by amending only 18 articles in the Investment Law, the Enterprise Law and the Construction Law, instead of 89 articles in 12 laws as earlier planned.  Especially, the Investment Law has six articles to be revised, including one on the list of conditional business operations, the Enterprise Law has five and the Construction Law has seven.
A number of amendments clearly demonstrate an attempt of the Government to improve the business climate such as Clause 1, Article 102 of the Construction Law, with the time of issuing a construction permit proposed for shortening from 30 to 20 days.
The draft law cuts the number of conditional business fields to 218, down by 49 from the current number provided in the Investment Law, said Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyen Chi Dung at the meeting on October 18.
When asked to explain the draft law, Dung said: “The draft amendments may not produce significant results. But it would be fine if they were approved as they would remove the existing problems faced by the corporate sector.”
Though acknowledging the Government’s effort to help enterprises out of the tough economic conditions, NA Chair Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan said: “Having read the draft, I am disappointed.
“The draft makes no mention of the contents that actually need to be revised. Having gone through all the articles of the draft, I found they could hardly create any new impetus for investment and business activity. I am not convinced to let it go before the NA if it is in its current form.”
Chair of the NA People’s Aspirations Committee Nguyen Thi Thanh Hai said, “The reasons to revise some articles in the existing laws provided in the report are not at all new. There are signs of the involvement of some interest groups (in the revision process).
“I agree that it is necessary to pull businesses out of the woods but the law making procedure must be respected and the urgency of law revisions must be justified.”
The NA Economic Committee proposed the Government conduct a review and only include the issues that are hindering the operations of businesses in the draft. Those amendments and supplementations aimed to address the problems arising from law enforcement should be eliminated to make the draft more feasible.
Minister Dung even admitted: “If the laws in question are amended, it would be good for enterprises, but if they aren’t, business would be as usual.”
As the amendments to the three laws are expected to go into force on January 1, 2017, the NA Economic Committee told the Government to urgently do a decree with detailed guidelines.
“Without careful deliberation, those amendments might cause fresh troubles for business,” NA Vice Chairman Phung Quoc Hien said when recapitulating the NA Standing Committee meeting on October 18.