Thứ Sáu, 25 tháng 5, 2018

FDI from the US into Vietnam remains modest

At many political and economic events, American officials and businesses all have said that they believe the US would be the top investor in Vietnam in the near future. But this has yet to happen.

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The US is the ninth biggest foreign investor in Vietnam

Energy Capital Vietnam from the US and the Bac Lieu provincial People’s Committee have signed an MOU on cooperation to develop a liquefied natural gas (LNG) supply project and a gas-fired thermal power plant in a coastal area of the province.

The 3,200 MW power plant project has investment capital of $4 billion, or VND91.4 trillion.

There had been no large-scale FDI project registered so far this year until the MOU was signed.

As of April 2018, the US was the ninth largest foreign direct investor in Vietnam out of 126 territories and countries with 879 valid projects, capitalized at $10 billion in total.

In April alone, Vietnam licensed $166 million worth of US invested projects, including $60 million poured into capital contribution deals.

American investors are believed to have the largest idle capital in the world. The ninth position is not a worthy position for the US.
Vietnam has been continuously praised by the international organizations as an attractive destination point for investors. Increasing bilateral investments is the topic of discussion at all meetings of heads of states.
Nguyen Mai, chair of the Vietnam Foreign Invested Enterprises’ Association (VAFIEs), said: “The investments from the US and Europe are still modest if compared with their FDI in other countries and in ASEAN countries.”

Meanwhile, Vietnam has been continuously praised by the international organizations as an attractive destination point for investors. Increasing bilateral investments is the topic of discussion at all meetings of heads of states.

Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyen Chi Dung said at an important event held recently that Vietnam is a playing field with a large scale and linkage.

“I believe that US investors will have to consider investments in Vietnam, or they will lose they influence in the international game,” he said.

“I believe that the US would soon consider coming back to CPTPP,” he said.

According to Vo Hong Phuc, former Minister of Planning and Investment, complicated administrative procedures and embezzlement discourage investors.

“Embezzlement is a big problem. American and European investors aren’t used to the so-called ‘lubricating fees’ like developing countries in Asia,” he said.

Vietnam, which is drafting a strategy on FDI to 2030, has been advised to lure more investors from the US and the EU to diversify FDI capital sources.

According to the Ministry of Planning and Investment, total newly registered, additional foreign investment capital reached $35.88 billion in 2017, 44.4 percent over the previous year.

Thanh Lich, VNN

Farmers in Mekong Delta rush to sell shrimp as price falls

 Farmers in Mekong Delta rush to sell shrimp as price falls, Programme launched to help domestic suppliers meet int’l standards, Support industry creates driving force for automobile sector
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has warned shrimp farmers to remain calm and refrain from selling large batches of white-legged shrimps which have been dropping in price.

Due to concerns about falling prices, many farmers in the Mekong Delta have been selling the shrimp at a low price.

The price of 100 white-legged shrimp per kilo in Soc Trang Province is now VND70,000-80,000 (US$3.07-3.51), a drop of VND20,000-30,000 compared to earlier this year. The price of 60 white-legged shrimp per kilo is now only VND100,000.

At these prices, shrimp farmers can only break even or have little profit.

Vo Van Nhut, a shrimp farmer in My Xuyen District in Soc Trang Province, for example, said the latest crop had lost more than VND10 million.

According to experts, the price has been low because several processing companies have been importing smaller shrimps and exporting them, especially to companies in the Chinese market.

In addition, local processing plants are facing fierce competition when exporting to the US market because of cheaper Indian shrimp exports.

Programme launched to help domestic suppliers meet int’l standards

A new programme was launched in Hanoi on May 24 to help Vietnamese firms become suppliers of multinational corporations and as well as expand operations and improve added values of existing suppliers.

The two-year programme will help domestic suppliers meet requirements of multinational corporations in terms of quality, prices and delivery, as well as connect with partners.

The project was launched by the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Industrial Department and the International Finance Corporation – a member of the World Bank.

Speaking at the event, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Do Thang Hai said the move is the first step to improve competitiveness of domestic firms.

In the next two years, the programme will partner with eight multinational corporations in the fields of automobiles, electronics, energy and consumer goods, including Bosch, Canon, Datalogic, Denso, Ford, General Electric, Panasonic and Toyota. As many as 45 domestic enterprises, as recommended by multinational corporations and trade associations, have been chosen to join the programme.

Director of Panasonic Vietnam’s Strategy Plan Yamamoto Masahiro said the programme will help boost long-term business cooperation with promising partners and improve domestic supply.

Ho Viet Tam, Director of the Export Mechanical Tool Jsc, said domestic support industry enterprises would gain opportunities to connect with and join the global value chain, thereby improving their competitiveness.

Via close consultation with multinational corporations, the programme will also evaluate business opportunities and competitiveness of participating suppliers.

If successful, similar schemes will be spread in other sectors with different multinational corporations, creating more opportunities for other firms.

Support industry creates driving force for automobile sector

Supporting industry development will create a driving force for Vietnam’s automobile industry, as heard a seminar held by the Vietnam Association of Supporting Industries (VASI) in Ho Chi Minh City on May 24.

Pham Tuan Anh, deputy head of the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Industrial Department, said supporting industry helps improve value of domestic goods and competitiveness of industrial sector, contributing to industrialisation and modernisation of the national economy.

Over the past years, the government has offered a number of incentives to facilitate support industries in general and those in motorbikes-automobiles in particular. However, the rate of domestically-made products used in automobiles remains limited while Vietnam’s automobile manufacturing cost is higher than regional countries’.

Anh said there are only about 300 supporting industry firms in automobiles manufacturing nationwide. Moreover, the cost of producing spare parts in Vietnam remains high, making it hard for domestic enterprises to compete with foreign rivals. There remains loose linkage between assembly firms and spare parts providers while domestic technological expertise is weak.

Almost foreign assembly businesses in Vietnam import spare parts from parent companies or partner with foreign businesses.

VASI Vice Chairwoman and General Secretary Truong Thi Chi Binh suggested support industry firms devise long-term strategies, enhance connectivity and actively join the global supply chain. At the same time, they should regularly renovate manufacturing up to international standards and cut costs to improve competitiveness.

Vu Quang Tam, member of the Board of Directors of the Vietnam Engine and Agricultural Machinery Corporation, advised firms to regularly upgrade technology, enhance manufacturing capability, and establish close ties with major manufacturers to join the global value chain for a long term.

He proposed waiving special consumption taxes on domestically-made spare parts as well as boosting manufacturing of basic materials such as steel, rubber and plastics, in service of automobile sector and other industries.

Nghi Son successfully produces first batch of diesel oil

After successfully producing RON 92 (MOGAS92) and RON95 (MOGAS95) in early May, on May 23, Nghi Son Refinery and Petrochemical LLC in Nghi Son Economic Zone, Thanh Hoa province also successfully produced 5,000 cubic metres of diesel oil (DO) meeting all required specifications and sold it on the domestic market.

Turki Alajmi, chief executive officer of Nghi Son Refinery and Petrochemical LLC (NSRP), said “We were very proud when NSRP successfully produced diesel oil. This achievement is attributable to the tremendous support and hard work of all employees of NSRP.”

This is a remarkable milestone for NSRP, showcasing its capability to operate the refinery and ensure safe operations and stable production.

NSRP is the second refinery in Vietnam with the total investment capital of more than US$9 billion and with a capacity of 200,000 barrels of crude oil per day in phase I, equivalent to 10 million tonnes of crude oil per annum.

This is the largest refinery and petrochemical project in Vietnam, with four investors of Vietnam Oil and Gas Group, Kuwait Petroleum Europe B.V., Idemitsu Kosan Co., Ltd., and Mitsui Chemicals, Inc. from Japan.

The project started in October 2013 and was completed in April 2017, using the world's most modern refinery technologies.

Crude oil will be sourced from Kuwait throughout the life span of the project. When operating at the maximum designed capacity, NSRP will supply approximately 40% of the domestic petrol and oil demand and contribute to ensuring the significant growth of petroleum consumption in Vietnam in the coming years.

HCM City, Chinese province pledge to facilitate bilateral trade

Ho Chi Minh City and China’s Shandong province aim to facilitate bilateral trade by holding more networking events, encouraging investments between both sides, and signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), promising more support in the future.

During a conference held in HCM City on May 23, numerous businesses in different fields from Shandong and Vietnam met to find potential partners.

Vo Tan Thanh, Director of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI)’s HCM City branch, said that Vietnam and China have had a close business partnership for 68 years.

According to VCCI, in 2017, bilateral trade between the two countries was over 93.6 billion USD (30 percent higher than 2016), accounting for 22 percent of Vietnam’s total bilateral trade.

Vietnam exported over 35.4 billion USD worth of goods to China (61.6 percent higher than 2016), focusing on products such as seafood, rice, rubber, garments and mobile phones.

As of March 2018, China ranked seventh among countries investing in Vietnam, with nearly 1,900 projects valued over 12.4 billion USD.

In addition, according to Wei Xichen, Chinese Consul General in HCM City, many Chinese companies are interested in working with Vietnamese companies in fields such as rubber, fishery processing and tailoring.

Compared to other markets, China is very open to Vietnamese goods without having many requirements, as long as the goods are of high quality, he said.

China is especially fond of Vietnam’s basa fish, cashew, coffee beans, peppers and dragon fruits.

Shandong is one of China’s most populated and economically developed regions, with a 2017 GDP of over 1 trillion USD, ranked third in China, according to Liu Xiaojiang, Vice Chairman of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT) – Shandong Sub-council.

The province also excels in fields such as agriculture, mechanics, construction and food processing.

“The province considers Vietnam to be one of the most important business partners in ASEAN. In 2017, bilateral trade between Shandong and Vietnam was around 5.5 billion USD,” Liu said.

Vietnamese firms have been encouraged to visit Shandong to find more opportunities to work with local businesses.

The International Imports Exhibition in Shanghai, to be held in November, has invited Vietnam to attend.

The VCCI and CCPIT also signed a MoU to foster trade, promising to increase collaboration efforts and networking opportunities for firms so they can find reliable long-term partners.

According to VCCI, Vietnam and China aim to reach a two-way trade of over 100 billion USD in 2018.

K-Startup Grand Challenge offers opportunities for Vietnamese firms

Vice President of the Vietnam Software and IT Services Association (VINASA) Mai Duy Quang (centre) at the press conference in Hanoi on May 24.

Vietnamese startups will have opportunities to attend professional training courses, receive consultations from experts and call for investment capital when attending the K-Startup Grand Challenge.

The K-Startup Grand Challenge is a project conducted and financed by the Government of the Republic of Korea (RoK), Vice President of the Vietnam Software and IT Services Association (VINASA) Mai Duy Quang said at a press conference held in Hanoi on May 24 to introduce the programme.

The K-Startup Grand Challenge aims to promote the expansion of an open entrepreneurship ecosystem in Asian region, he said, adding that Vietnamese startups will have chance to receive 100,000 USD as the first prize and assistance from the Korean Government.

Youn Jung Park, director of the Korea IT Cooperation Centre (KICC), said Vietnam has a young and proactive startup community with many innovative ideas.

Some 80 startups worldwide will receive 11,130 USD each to pay living costs during 3.5-month training and connect investment in the RoK, she said.

Meanwhile, top 40 startup will be supported with more than 22,000 USD each in business establishment and operation in the first six months in the East Asian country.

Registration to the programme should be made on no later than June 14. The qualification round will be organised on July 9-10 in Hanoi and July 11-12 in Ho Chi Minh City. Potential startups will be chosen to compete at the final round in the RoK.

To date, 37 startups have registered their participation, including 16 Vietnamese.

This is the third time that the K-Startup Grand Challenge has been held on the international scale.

In the past two events, 41 startups called 26 million USD from investors. They inked 46 contracts and over 300 cooperative agreements. Particularly, over 80 startups have cooperated with large RoK corporations.

Saigon Autotech & Accessories 2018 kicks off in HCM City

The 14th Saigon Autotech & Accessories 2018 opened on May 24 at the Saigon Exhibition and Convention Centre in Ho Chi Minh City with 300 booths organised by leading domestic and foreign firms in automobile and motorbike, spare part and accessories manufacturing.

Addressing the opening ceremony, Pham Tuan Anh, Vice Director of the Department of Industry under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, said that the event is a good chance to connect manufacturers, suppliers and service providers and customers.

The exhibition is hoped to create an opportunity to introduce latest products, technology and equipment in the field, he said.

Anh held that support industry for Vietnam’s automobile sector has been initiated, but still can supply simple parts with low technology ratio. Meanwhile, there are rooms for the industry to develop, he added.

He stressed that in the future, it is necessary to increase activities to promote investment, experience sharing between domestic and foreign enterprises in the field.

Tao Linh, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Asia Trade Fair and Business Promotion (ATFA), said that the new feature of this year’s exhibition is the stronger engagement of enterprises in support industry, and more activities to connect enterprises to foster their linkage in developing the automobile and motorbike industry in the coming time.

First held in 2006, the Saigon Autotech & Accessories has become one of the most awaited events in Vietnam’s automobile, motorbike, electricity bicycle manufacturing and support industry.

Last year, the exhibition was held in an area of 10,000 square metres with 350 booths from domestic and foreign enterprises from Switzerland, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and China, drawing about 12,000 visitors.

The Saigon Autotech & Accessories 2018 will last until May 27.

PVCFC’s output hits 5 mln tonnes of urea after 7 years of operation

PetroVietnam Ca Mau Fertiliser Company Limited (PVCFC)’s total output hit 5 million tonnes of urea on May 24, after seven years of operation.

The company, also known as Dam Ca Mau (DCM), has an annual capacity of about 800,000 tonnes of urea, which meets more than 40 percent of the country’s demand and approximately 60 percent of the market share in the Mekong Delta, the country’s largest rice bowl.

Its products have been exported to a number of foreign countries, including Cambodia.

Last year, PVCFC produced about 848,000 tonnes of urea, 13 percent higher than the firm’s yearly target and 5 percent higher than 2016’s figure. It sold more than 864,000 tonnes of urea for nearly 5.89 trillion VND (259.16 million USD), up 6 percent in volume and 13 percent value from a year earlier.

The firm made its debut on the Ho Chi Minh City Stock Exchange (HOSE) on March 31, 2016 with more than 529 million shares offered at a reference price of 14,500 VND.

Party official delivers speech at Russia’s Int’l Economic Forum

Chairman of the Communist Party of Vietnam Central Committee’s Commission for Economic Affairs Nguyen Van Binh delivered a speech at the opening of the 22nd International Economic Forum in St. Petersburg (SPIEF–2018), Russia on May 24.

Binh said he was impressed with the hospitality and beauty of St. Petersburg and highly appreciated the Vietnam–Russia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.

He moved on to talk about Vietnam’s economic potential, saying following growth in 2018, Vietnam’s economy expanded 7.38 percent in the first quarter of this year and the country has made efforts to improve trade balance with other countries and expand international trade and economic cooperation.

The global economy is facing a number of threats, including the rise of protectionism. In such context, Vietnam is committed to supporting free trade and global economic integration, the Vietnamese official said, adding that this forum is vital for Vietnam and other countries to step up international cooperation and sustainably develop the world economy.

On the first day of the forum, the Vietnamese delegation, led by Binh, had a meeting with leaders of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and Gazprom, a large Russian producer of natural gas to review results of their cooperation and discuss the future of their partnership.

The second day of the event on May 25 is set to attract great attention as Russian President Vladimir Putin will deliver a keynote address at the plenary session. The Vietnamese delegation will also be busy with meetings with many partners today.

The SPIEF–2018 takes place from May 24-26. The forum drew an estimated of nearly 10,000 participants from Russia and other countries, including heads of state and government, politicians and corporate leaders. It aims to promote a constructive dialogue for policymakers, corporations and experts.

Events of the SPIEF-2018 focus on four key categories – “The Global Economy in an Era of Change,” “Harnessing Russia’s Growth Potential,” “Human Capital in the Digital Economy” and “Technology for Leadership.”

In 2017, the SPIEF drew more than 14,000 participants from 143 countries and saw some 400 investment agreements worth about 32.5 billion USD signed.

VN’s first ever resort managed by Dusit International opens in Phú Quốc

The Thailand-based global hospitality company Dusit International has made its entry into Việt Nam with the opening of the four-star Dusit Princess Moonrise Beach Resort on  the resort island of Phú Quốc. 

Centrally located on the island’s stunning west coast and only a short drive from Phú Quốc International Airport and Dương Tơ town centre, the resort bears a modern twist of a contemporary resort, reflecting both Vietnamese culture and the rich heritage of Thai hospitality. The resort features 108 elegantly designed rooms, most of them with ocean views overlooking Long Beach.

At Soi14, the resort’s beach front Thai bar and lounge, where Thai chef Somnuck has transferred the Bangkok street food concept into a resort environment, guests can enjoy contemporary Thai food creations or a classic cocktail whilst contemplating gorgeous sunsets. Other outlets, including an all-day-dining restaurant, a lobby lounge and a swim-up pool bar, embrace the modern fusion of Vietnamese, Thai and Western cuisines.

Stepping into Luna Thai Spa, guests will enjoy a Thai inspired world of tranquility and rejuvenation. With a diversified spa menu, experienced therapists will awake your inner strength and harmonise the senses.

“Phú Quốc’s growing reputation as a major tourist destination is only set to flourish over the next ten years, as many high-end developments are slated to open on the island,” said Group Chief Executive Officer of Dusit International, Suphajee Suthumpun.

“Following our strategy for sustainable and profitable growth, which includes building our portfolio of international properties, the new hotel has opened under our newly developed franchise model, which helps property owners gain maximum returns whilst providing them with all the benefits they expect from a global brand,” she added.

Programme to support local firms
The Viet Nam Industry Agency under the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT), in partnership with the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, officially launched the Viet Nam Supplier Development Programme (SDP) in Ha Noi on Thursday.

This programme is aimed at helping Vietnamese companies become suppliers for multinational enterprises, while enabling existing suppliers to expand their business and share of added value.

Recently, multinational enterprises (MNEs) have implemented a number of large investment projects in Viet Nam, providing opportunities to expand domestic supply to these companies. One of the obstacles, however, is the lack of suppliers in the country meeting global standard requirements.

Given the scenario, the two-year SDP aims to help domestic suppliers meet the requirements of MNEs including quality, price and delivery throughout the value chain in targeted sectors. Subsequently, these firms can be linked to MNEs to seek supply opportunities in the future.

MoIT’s deputy minister Do Thang Hai, said capacity building to establish new business links with MNEs is the first step to enhance the competitiveness of participating local firms. “The purpose of this programme is to move the local firms to the process of creating higher added value in the value chain so that they can produce more sophisticated products and become globally competitive,” he added.

Over the next two years, the programme will work with eight leading MNEs in the automotive, electronics, energy and household appliance sectors, such as Bosch, Canon, Datalogic, Denso, Ford, General Electric, Panasonic and Toyota.

The enterprises were chosen based on their interest in sourcing locally and assisting local companies in finding business opportunities. Some 45 local companies, who are wholly or largely Vietnamese-owned, have been selected to join the programme based on recommendations by participating multinationals and various business organisations.

“Large foreign direct investments into Viet Nam with operations of leading global firms have brought up opportunities to promote Viet Nam’s supporting industry and facilitate local producers’ increased participation in the global value chain,” said Kyle Kelhofer, IFC country manager for Viet Nam, Cambodia and Lao PDR.

Developed in close consultation with MNEs, the programme will assess the business performance and competitiveness of participating suppliers, identify areas for improvement and specific actions to build supply capabilities, and improve long-term competitiveness. In addition, the programme will strive to connect potential businesses with potential buyers effectively.

“We are happy to work with local companies which could compete with suppliers from other countries,” said Yamamoto, corporate planning director, Panasonic Viet Nam. “We expect this programme can help us get business with some potentially long-term partners and promote our local sourcing,” Yamamoto added.

Seminar discusses fire safety in buildings   

Major cities around the world have seen a movement towards vertical living instead of horizontal, and Viet Nam is seeing a similar trend, a seminar heard in HCM City on Tuesday.

Mary Tarnowka, US consul general in the city, said she had seen tremendous growth in HCM City’s residential and commercial infrastructure in the last two years.

The urbanisation trend is not unique to HCM City as other cities around the country and in other ASEAN member countries are seeing an influx of people to urban centres.

“Ensuring the safety of our homes, offices, and public spaces is an integral part of building trust and confidence among the residents of HCM City. This includes having frequent and reliable safety inspections that enforce the city’s building regulations as well as deploying the latest products and services.”

She said she was saddened by the tragic loss of life at the Carina Plaza apartment complex in District 8 in March.

“Incidents like this one are garnering more attention globally. Many can be prevented with a greater investment in building safety training, prevention through inspection services, and enforcement of rules and regulations.

“Achieving safer buildings not only comes from more robust and rigorous safety inspection practices, but having the appropriate internationally recognised standards in place.”

Pham Minh Ha, general director of the Ministry of Construction’s State Authority for Construction Quality Inspection Department, said ensuring the safety of people and assets in buildings had always been a top priority.

“The legal framework related to fire safety, construction inspection and other safety aspects of buildings has been strengthened. Relevant ministries and agencies have enhanced co-operation to improve fire safety inspections of buildings.”

The number of buildings built before 1990 remains high, with many degraded and threatening the safety of occupants, he told the seminar on “Working for safer buildings in smart cities” held by the consulate and UL, a US-based safety consulting and certification company.

Besides, many buildings have been built subsequently in violation of licence conditions and without their designs strictly complying with fire safety provisions, he said.

His ministry would continue to check compliance with construction norms, fire safety equipment and their maintenance, and severely penalise violations, he said.

Major General Doan Viet Manh, director of the Viet Nam Fire and Rescue Police Department, said building owners should choose modern fire safety technologies and qualified consulting, design and construction supervision units, and use fireproof materials, intelligent fire alarm systems that are linked to the fire service and can alert people to ensure evacuation before emergency forces arrive.

Many US companies also shared information and best practices to help Government leaders, developers, construction firms and other stakeholders explore ways to mitigate building safety and security risks.

Corporate governance to be regulated
The State Securities Commission (SSC) will promote the standardisation of corporate governance for public companies this year.

There are also plans to issue the Code of Corporate Governance to improve the framework for the Vietnamese securities market in line with international practice.

Le Cong Dien, director of SSC’s Public Enterprises Supervisory Department, delivered the statement at the workshop on investor relations held in Ha Noi on Wednesday.

In 2018, the SSC is tasked with building the revised Securities Law, which should be submitted for the National Assembly’s review in the sixth meeting in October.

Dien said the institution and maintenance of good corporate governance practice is an important issue in the revised law. This is also a critical topic in economic action programmes, business communities in most countries in the world.

“Good corporate governance helps improve business performance and contributes to the prosperity of the economy in general,” Dien said.

According to Phan Duc Hieu, deputy director of Central Institute for Economic Management under the Ministry of Planning and Investment, the average corporate governance quality of Vietnamese companies is much lower than the common ground in the region.

Viet Nam’s corporate governance scorecard of the six ASEAN countries was the lowest and lagged far behind the surrounding countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand, Hieu said investor relation is also a very new issue for listed companies here.

“There are very few companies aware of this problem, let a lone take actual action to implement this programme,” Hieu said.

He said in the countries with high corporate governance quality, managers will apply the practice for the benefit of the company, even if the law does not require it.

According to Hieu, as the corporate governance in Viet Nam is at a very early stage, the State invention is necessary to make sure companies comply with good practice.

In 2017, the Government issued Decree No 71/2017/ND-CP and the Ministry of Finance issued Circular No 95/2017 on corporate governance applicable to public companies. The law introduction has demonstrated the Government and market regulators’ willpower to develop good corporate governance practice, at the same time creating legal framework for improving the quality of goods on the stock market.

SSC and two stock exchanges have also made efforts to popularise and raise corporate awareness of enterprises, as well as encourage businesses to adopt good practice through training programmes and annual assessment on corporate governance of listed companies.

Hieu also suggested the Government create the right environment and mechanism to develop the intermediaries or organisations that observe and evaluate companies, or carry out activities to protect the interests of shareholders. For example, in Malaysia, there are associations or companies established to protect shareholders.

Such organisations would put pressure on companies to adopt better practice and mechanism to protect shareholders’ interests, Hieu said.

Nguyen Anh Phong, deputy general director of the Ha Noi Stock Exchange, said good investor relations would bridge the gap between companies and their shareholders, at the same time supporting companies to raise capital from the securities market.
Tra Vinh moves to support SMEs’ development

The Mekong Delta province of Tra Vinh aims to have 4,000 enterprises by 2020, with more than 30 percent and 15 percent of them owned by woman and ethnic minority people, respectively, heard a conference in the locality on May 23.

Held by the provincial Department of Planning and Investment and the Tra Vinh SME Development project, the event discussed plans to support the development of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs).

According to Deputy Director of the project Pham Van Be Sau, from now to 2020, local SMEs are set to create 22,000-25,000 jobs per year, bringing monthly income of between 4.5-4.7 million VND for each labourer.

They are hoped to contribute 50 percent, and between 45-50 percent to local GDRP and the local budget, respectively.

Tra Vinh is home to 2,153 enterprises, with 98 percent of them SMEs, firms which usually struggle to access support policies, preferential loans, technologies and consumption markets.

To promote SMEs’ development, local authorities will continue to perfect policies to create a healthy business environment.

Attention has been paid to providing financial assistance for enterprises, and building and upgrading infrastructure systems.

Start-up activities have been fostered in the locality, contributing to encouraging household businesses to transform into enterprises.

To Ngoc Binh, Deputy Director of the provincial Department of Planning and Investment and Director of the Tra Vinh SME Development project, said in 2018-2020, Tra Vinh plans to spend 2.66  trillion VND (116.7 million USD) on supporting local businesses.

From 2012-2020, SMEs operating in the province are set to receive financial assistance worth 12.1 million CAD (9.4 million USD) for their production and business activities, including 11 million CAD of non-refundable assistance funded by the Canadian Government.Vietnam promotes trade, investment in France’s Toulouse city

Bilateral economic cooperation between Vietnam and France has yet to meet potential of both sides, as two-way trade is accounting for only 1 percent of Vietnam’s total international trade, Vietnamese Ambassador to France Nguyen Thiep said.

Addressing an audience of 80 entrepreneurs and scientists at an investment and trade promotion event in France’s southwest city of Toulouse on May 22, the ambassador reported that two-way trade in 2017 reached 4.6 billion USD, up 500 million USD over 2016.

Of the figure, Vietnam’s exports were worth 3 billion USD while its imports stood at about 1.6 billion USD.

French investment in Vietnam has mounted to nearly 3 billion USD since 1988, said the diplomat.

France is the third largest European investor in Vietnam after the Netherlands and the UK, while ranking fifth in trade after Germany, the UK, the Netherlands and Italy.

The diplomat took the occasion to inform Toulouse businesses and scientists of the policies and investment environment in Vietnam, as well as sectors of priority in the country’s policy on investment attraction.

Ambassador Thiep called on French firms to invest in high and green technology and green energy, biological agriculture, digital technology, e-government, health care, culture, education and climate change response.

The promotion conference was jointly held by the North-South Economic Development Agency of Toulouse and the Vietnamese Agency in France.

Toulouse is the fourth largest city of France, and the “capital” of Europe’s aerospace industry. The city was listed as the most dynamic city of France twice in 2013 and 2015 by L’Express and Challenger magazine.

Toulouse and Hanoi have set up an effective partnership for years, especially in urban planning and restoring of historical heritage sites and Hanoi’s Old Quarters.

Toulouse will be the host of the France-Vietnam cooperation conference slated for April 2019.

In 2019, Hanoi is also scheduled to organise Hanoi Culture Days in Toulouse, which is expected to become a chance for people in the two localities to get better understanding and boost cooperation.

CPI likely to reduce in May
The Price Management Department could see a slight reduction in the consumer price index (CPI) in May against last month without too many unexpected fluctuations in prices of essential goods.

May is the harvest season for many kinds of food products so the prices of these commodities are predicted to decrease slightly. At this moment, localities have also strengthened management and stability for price.

The department, under the Ministry of Finance, said the strengthening of management and operation activities for price stabilisation by ministries, sectors and localities would keep market prices from unexpected fluctuations in the coming months.

As of now, the petrol price, one among numerous factors that create pressure on the CPI, has complicated the fluctuations. However, the price increase of this commodity is forecast to be not as high as the world petrol prices. In the past, the petrol price in the domestic market was managed properly by flexible use of the petrol price stabilisation fund, reported

The Steering Committee on Price Management has proposed to the Ministry of Industry and Trade to lead and coordinate with the Ministry of Finance in operating the domestic petrol prices in harmony and using the Price Stabilisation Fund in a proper manner.

They should actively have scenarios dealing with the increase of petrol prices in the second quarter on the world market to create favourable conditions to control the CPI for this year.

The price for the group of housing and construction material products is forecast to increase because the hot weather would increase the prices of electricity and water.

The other main reason for this increase is the high price of steel and steel products in recent months because of China’s production cuts.

However, there are also some factors reducing the pressure on increasing the CPI in May 2018. For instance, the rice price may fall due to an increase in the supply of rice during the rice harvest season. Consumption of some fresh food items such as pork and poultry meat often reduces during the hot weather.

The department said that in May and especially in the second quarter, the price management and operation activities must be very cautious, aiming to control the CPI growth rate every month to less than 0.2 per cent. This rate would create favourable conditions for price operations by this year-end, especially for the control in the price of goods managed by the State.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development was required to monitor closely the market price of agricultural products. It must cooperate with the Ministry of Industry and Trade to balance the supply and demand of essential goods for the domestic market, including rice, pork, sugar and salt, to ensure stabilisation of the market.

The ministry was asked to study and restructure the domestic market, while continuing to maintain the traditional export markets and seek new export markets for key agricultural commodities to stabilise the market and to improve the efficiency of agricultural production. 
Air Seoul to open route to Vietnam this week
Air Seoul Inc., the budget unit of Asiana Airlines Inc., of the Republic of Korea (RoK) said on May 17 that it will launch a new route to Da Nang in central Vietnam this week.
The debut service to Vietnam is set to begin at 10:20 p.m. on May 18 (local time), with the 195-seat A321-200 aircraft being deployed on the route. The service will be available every day, according to the carrier.
Currently, six other carriers of the RoK operate flights to Da Nang, a destination that draws about 500,000 Koreans a year.
Air Seoul currently operates six A321 chartered planes -- two configured for 220 passengers and four with 195 seats. With the planes, the low-cost carrier offers services on routes to 16 destinations in five countries - Japan, Cambodia, Malaysia, China and the United States. 
The budget carrier plans to add a seventh A321 plane to its fleet in the second half of this year.
Vietnam welcomes AES’s gas investment: Deputy PM
Vietnam values the presence of AES Corporation and investment in the Mong Duong 2 power plant in Quang Ninh, stated Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue.
Hue made the statement at a reception for President of AES Vietnam David Stone in Hanoi on May 17. 
At the reception, Stone said his company is carrying out researches for its investment in the Son My 2 gas-fired thermal power project in the form of Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) and expected its participation will contribute to boosting Vietnam – US trade and investment. 
The project consists of three power plants using liquefied natural gas, with designed capacity of 750 MW each. Built at the Son My industry-services-gas complex in the central coastal province of Binh Thuan, the facilities are set to become operational in 2023, 2024 and 2025.
Stone also talked about AES’s coordination with the PetroVietnam Gas JSC (PV Gas) to implement the Son My liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal project in the south-central province of Binh Thuan.
The Deputy PM said he supports the LNG terminal projects, urging both sides to speed up their signing of a partnership contract to implement the project as soon as possible.
Regarding the Son My 2 project, he requested AES work with PV Gas to identify the most suitable investment model, adding that the Vietnam Ministry of Industry and Trade will directly address difficulties arisen in the sides’ cooperation.
AES is a US-based power company, which is listed in the US Fortune-200. It joined shareholders from subsidiaries of Posco Energy Corporation from the Republic of Korea and China Investment Corporation to form the AES-VCM Mong Duong Power Company Limited in Vietnam. 
The company is known for its 1,242 MW Mong Duong 2 power plant in the northern procvince of Quang Ninh. The coal-fired power project plant was built under a Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) agreement and would be transferred to the government after 25 years.
Vietnam’s veggie exports stage strong growth
Vietnam’s vegetable and fruit exports in the first four months of the year rose a staggering 29% year-on-year to some US$1.3 billion, with China-bound shipments generating nearly US$1 billion, customs data shows.
Last month alone saw veggie export revenue hitting US349.6 million, up 8.7% month-on-month, according to data of the General Department of Vietnam Customs.
Exports of vegetables and fruits to neighboring China fetched US$988.8 million in the four months, up 30.1% year-on-year, which accounted for 75% of Vietnam’s total export revenue in the sector. Last year’s corresponding proportion was 74.3%.
The customs said that besides China, 14 other importers of Vietnamese vegetables and fruits have also bought much more than in the same period last year.
The United States, Vietnam’s second biggest importer of vegetables, spent over US$38.8 million importing such farm produce in the past four months, a year-on-year surge of 12.8%.
Meanwhile, Japan spent US$36.6 million on Vietnamese vegetables and fruits, up by 16.4% year-on-year, followed by South Korea and Thailand with US$34.78 million and US$22.65 million respectively, soaring 13.5% and 28.8%.
Notably, scores of new buyers have spent much more money on Vietnamese veggies, including Australia with US$9 million, up 35.1%, France with US$8 million, up a whopping 42.9%, and Canada US$7 million, up 26.8%.
Data of the department also indicates that only Russia and Taiwan have recently reduced veggie imports from Vietnam.
Analysts attributed Vietnam’s strong surge in veggies export revenue to high quality and safe products and technical barriers being removed recently to create favorable conditions for other farm produce like dragon fruit, rambutan, longan and lychee to enter numerous choosy markets such as Japan, South Korea and New Zealand.
Sixth Vietnam Startup Wheel launched for entrepreneurs at all ages
The sixth Vietnam Startup Wheel in 2018 was launched on May 15 nationwide for all individuals, groups and startup business founders residing in Vietnam regardless of their age.
According to the organising board, contestants can submit their startup ideas, products, services or technologies to the contest from now to the end of May. The final and awards ceremony will be held in August this year.
Truong Ly Hoang Phi, Director of the Ho Chi Minh City Business Startup Support Centre said that with the expansion of participants to all ages and all those residing in Vietnam instead of from 18-35 years old and Vietnamese citizens as previous, the contest aims to create an international environment for studying with the involvement of startups from all countries, thus helping domestic startups challenge themselves with competition from domestic and foreign rivals.
Phi said that in the past, the annual contest has been the largest playground for Vietnam’s startup community, while helping them conquer important targets in their development strategy, introduce their products to investors and commercialise their products. 
The contest aims to connect the startup ecosystem in the country, nurture startups and encourage the support of partners for young enterprises.
Meanwhile, Ngo Minh Hai, Deputy Secretary of the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union’s municipal chapter and Vice President of the Vietnam Youth Federation of Ho Chi Minh City said one of the objectives of the contest is spreading the startup movement among youngsters.
Founded by Ho Chi Minh City Business Startup Support Centre and Young Businesspeople Association under the Vietnam Youth Federation of Ho Chi Minh City, Startup Wheel was first launched in 2013 and has become one of the biggest events for the startup community.
Last year, the contest drew more than 30,000 participants with 767 ideas and projects.
Government News 25/5

Vietnam always facilitates foreign investors: official 

 Vietnam always facilitates foreign investors: official, HCM City wishes to foster cooperation with Israel, Ministries urged to address slow public investment disbursement, Vietnam joins 10th Pan-Tonkin Gulf Economic Cooperation Forum,
Minister and Chairman of the Office of the Government Mai Tien Dung (second from right) in a meeting with RoK large corporations. 

The Vietnamese Government always creates favourable conditions for foreign businesses, including those from the Republic of Korea (RoK), to invest and expand operation in the country, said Minister and Chairman of the Office of the Government Mai Tien Dung.

In a meeting with leading Korean corporations in Seoul on May 24, Dung underlined that as part of efforts to develop the economy, the modernisation of the public administrative system has been prioritised.

In the future, the Vietnamese Government will focus on a project to branch out e-Government, he noted, expressing his hope that the RoK government and enterprises will share experience and support Vietnam to build the e-Government system.

“Sharing issues of Vietnam’s priority with RoK friends means showing great expectations of effective cooperation between the two sides in the era of digitalised economy,” Dung said.

Representatives from the RoK business association thanked the Vietnamese Government for giving them favourable treatment. They  noted that they are ready to work with the Vietnamese Government, ministries and authorities and large IT groups like FPT, VNPT and Viettel to develop e-Government in Vietnam.

Chairman of the Office of the Government Mai Tien Dung is on a visit to the RoK from May 22-27.

HCM City wishes to foster cooperation with Israel

Vietnam always facilitates foreign investors: official, HCM City wishes to foster cooperation with Israel, Ministries urged to address slow public investment disbursement, Vietnam joins 10th Pan-Tonkin Gulf Economic Cooperation Forum, 
Secretary of the municipal Party Committee Nguyen Thien Nhan (L) hosts Israeli President Reuven Rivlin

Ho Chi Minh City wishes to boost cooperation with Israel in short, medium and long terms, thus bringing practical benefits to both sides, said Secretary of the municipal Party Committee Nguyen Thien Nhan.

At a meeting with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin in Jerusalem city on May 24 (local time), Nhan suggested the President continue supporting the promotion of collaboration between Israeli and Vietnamese partners, including those from Ho Chi Minh City, in fields of both sides’ strength and demand.

He also proposed Israel, via its Agency for International Development Cooperation and Ministry of Foreign Affairs, continue granting scholarships to and assisting the city in training high quality human resources in high technology.

He expressed his hope that the two counties will soon complete negotiations for the signing of a free trade agreement with a view to raising two-way trade to 3 billion USD in the years to come.

For his part, President Reuven Rivlin congratulated Vietnam on the great achievements it has made over the past four decades, especially in agriculture, health and tourism.

He spoke highly of the Vietnamese authorities’ support for the private economic sector and the development of the Vietnamese army.

The same day, the Ho Chi Minh City delegation visited the Hebrew University, one of the oldest and most famous universities in Israel, with the largest number of scientists holding Nobel and Fields prizes. They also called at the Mobileye Company and the Israel Innovation Authority.

Later on May 24, the delegation left Tel Aviv, concluding their working visit to Israel.

Vietnam-Russia Friendship Association marks 68th year

 Vietnam always facilitates foreign investors: official, HCM City wishes to foster cooperation with Israel, Ministries urged to address slow public investment disbursement, Vietnam joins 10th Pan-Tonkin Gulf Economic Cooperation Forum,
President of the Vietnam–Russia Friendship Parliamentarians’ Group Phan Xuan Dung makes a remark at the event.  

A gathering was held in Hanoi on May 23 to celebrate the 68th anniversary of the Vietnam–Russia Friendship Association (May 23, 1950) and to recall great memories in the history of the Vietnam–Russia friendship.

The event was hosted by the Vietnam–Russia Friendship Parliamentarians’ Group and the Central Vietnam–Russia Friendship Association, allowing the two organisations to share experience in foreign affairs work.

In his opening remarks, President of the Vietnam–Russia Friendship Parliamentarians’ Group Phan Xuan Dung said Vietnam and Russia have focused on maintaining and developing ties between the two national assemblies.

The two sides have exchanged visits to share practical experience in performing the legislatures’ functions, monitor the implementation of bilateral agreements signed by the two governments and improve the legal environment to facilitate cooperation between the two countries’ localities and businesses and increase understanding between their peoples, Dung noted.

He expected the two nations will further foster their parliamentary and people-to-people diplomacy and promote coordination between the Vietnam–Russia and Vietnam–Russia parliamentarians’ groups.

President of the Vietnam-Russia Friendship Association Tran Binh Minh, for his part, mentioned the association as one of the most active friendship associations in Vietnam because of its large number of members and the strong bonds between them. Minh said he hopes that activities of the Vietnam–Russia Friendship Association and the Vietnam-Russia Friendship Parliamentarians’ Group will play a significant part in expanding the two countries’ relations and developing people-to-people diplomacy.

Russian Ambassador to Vietnam Konstantin Vkunov lauded the growth of Vietnam–Russia relations, saying he expects ties to be strengthened through exchanges of high-level visits and friendship activities between the two sides.

Vice Chairman of the National Assembly of Vietnam Uong Chu Luu congratulated Russia on the reelection of President Vladimir Putin.  He also looked forward to more activities by the Vietnam–Russia Friendship Parliamentarians’ Group and Vietnam–Russia Friendship Association to promote bilateral relations.

Reforms to ensure social insurance key pillar in social security system

 Vietnam always facilitates foreign investors: official, HCM City wishes to foster cooperation with Israel, Ministries urged to address slow public investment disbursement, Vietnam joins 10th Pan-Tonkin Gulf Economic Cooperation Forum,
At the seventh session of the 12th-tenure Party Central Committee 

Reforming social insurance policies is aimed at ensuring social insurance is truly a key pillar in the social security system and to gradually expand its coverage for all people, according to a resolution of the Party Central Committee.

Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong on May 23 signed off Resolution 28-NQ/TW on reforming social insurance policies, issued at the recent seventh session of the 12th-tenure Party Central Committee.

The resolution states that the social insurance system will be developed flexibly into a diverse, multi-level and modern system that matches international practices. The State’s management capacity and efficiency will be improved while a lean, professional, modern, trustworthy and transparent system for social insurance policy implementation will be developed.

The resolution also sets up detailed objectives for each period.

It targets that by 2021, about 35 percent of the workforce will take part in social insurance, and about 28 percent will participate in unemployment insurance. About 45 percent of the persons beyond the retirement age will receive retirement pensions, monthly social insurance benefits and post-retirement benefits. The satisfaction with social insurance index will reach 80 percent.

By 2025, around 45 percent of the workforce will take part in social insurance, and some 35 percent will participate in unemployment insurance. About 55 percent of the persons beyond the retirement age will receive retirement pensions, monthly social insurance benefits and post-retirement benefits. The satisfaction with social insurance index is expected at 85 percent.

The resolution targets that by 2030, about 60 percent of the workforce will take part in social insurance, and about 45 percent will participate in unemployment insurance. About 60 percent of the persons beyond the retirement age will receive retirement pensions, monthly social insurance and post-retirement benefits. The satisfaction with social insurance index is hoped to reach 90 percent.

The resolution requests reforms be made synchronously to expand social insurance coverage towards social insurance for all and to ensure the long-term balance of the social insurance fund.

Those reforms include building a multi-level social insurance system, flexibly amending the regulations on the minimum social insurance participation duration eligible for retirement benefits, enhancing the connectivity of social insurance policies, and reforming the making and the implementation of policies to promote people’s trust in and satisfaction with the social insurance system.

To achieve the abovementioned objectives, the resolution also devises certain resolutions, including fine-tuning the legal system on labour, employment and social insurance; improving the State’s capacity and efficiency of social insurance management; promoting the capacity of administering and effectiveness of implementing social and unemployment insurance policies; and enhancing the Party’s leadership and the role of people, the Vietnam Fatherland Front and socio-political organisations in this work.

Ministries urged to address slow public investment disbursement
 Vietnam always facilitates foreign investors: official, HCM City wishes to foster cooperation with Israel, Ministries urged to address slow public investment disbursement, Vietnam joins 10th Pan-Tonkin Gulf Economic Cooperation Forum,
Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue speaks at the function 

Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue on May 24 asked the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education and Training, and Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism to quickly address their slow disbursement of public investment.

According to Deputy Minister of Education and Training Pham Manh Hung, as of May 20, the ministry had disbursed nearly 233 billion VND (10.2 million USD), equal to 17 percent of the yearly target.

Deputy Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Le Khanh Hai reported that in the first four months of this year, his ministry’s disbursement reached 15.1 percent of the yearly target. The capital belonging to the 2017 plan that was rescheduled to be disbursed in 2018 has yet been disbursed.

Meanwhile, a report of the Health Ministry showed in the first five months of this year, the ministry disbursed over 233 billion VND, equivalent to only 4.43 percent of estimates.

The ministry’s disbursement of public investment was 81 percent of the yearly target in 2016, and the figure in 2017 was 54.7 percent.

Deputy Health Minister Pham Le Tuan attributed the slow disbursement tempo to the disbursement of the Bach Mai II Hospital project and Viet Duc Huu Nghi II Hospital project under the Project 125.

He said it was difficult for the ministry to carry out the Project 125 projects within 3 years as the fact shows that it takes 5-7 years to accomplish the construction of big, modern hospitals. 

Deputy PM Hue said the two projects are examples of weaknesses in public investment.

According to him, the ministry’s change from Engineering Procurement and Construction (EPC) contract to small bidding packages is a reason for the slow progress of the project 125.

He requested ministries, particularly the three above-mentioned ministries, to figure out reasons, and define the responsibility of the heads of the ministries as well as individuals and organisations involved in the slow transfer and disbursement of public investment.

VFF Vice President sends wishes on Lord Buddha’s birthday

 Vietnam always facilitates foreign investors: official, HCM City wishes to foster cooperation with Israel, Ministries urged to address slow public investment disbursement, Vietnam joins 10th Pan-Tonkin Gulf Economic Cooperation Forum,
Vice President and Secretary General of the VFF Central Committee Hau A Lenh  (second from left) extends congratulations on Lord Buddha’s birthday.  

Vice President and Secretary General of the Vietnam Fatherland Front (VFF) Central Committee Hau A Lenh visited Most Venerable Thich Bao Nghiem in Ba Da Pagoda, Hanoi on May 24 to extend congratulations on Lord Buddha’s birthday.

Most Venerable Thich Bao Nghiem is Vice Chairman of the Vietnam Buddhist Sangha (VBS) Executive Council, Head of the VBS’s Faith Popularization Committee, and Head of the Executive Committee of the Buddhist Sangha of Hanoi and the central province of Ha Tinh.

Lenh sent his best wishes to Most Venerable Thich Bao Nghiem as well as Vietnamese Buddhist dignitaries, monks, nuns and followers both at home and overseas on the 2562nd birthday of Lord Buddha and the annual Buddhist Rains Retreat this year. He hoped they were having a joyful and peaceful celebration of the Lord Buddha’s birthday.

He spoke highly of the VBS as it has stayed united in harmony with the entire nation. At the same time, as an important member of the VFF, the VBS has actively taken part in many patriotic movements, charity events and activities to promote environmental protection and adaption to climate change, he said.

The VFF official thanked the VBS for its contribution to the country in recent years, saying he expects Most Venerable Thich Bao Nghiem and the VBS will continue serving as a bridge between the State, Party and VFF and Buddhist followers.

On the behalf of the VBS, Most Venerable Thich Bao Nghiem expressed his gratitude towards the VFF Central Committee’s gesture and affirmed that the VBS together with Buddhist monks, nuns and followers will continue maintaining and promoting the good traditions of the sangha and complying with the State’s policies and regulations.

Vietnam joins 10th Pan-Tonkin Gulf Economic Cooperation Forum 

 Vietnam always facilitates foreign investors: official, HCM City wishes to foster cooperation with Israel, Ministries urged to address slow public investment disbursement, Vietnam joins 10th Pan-Tonkin Gulf Economic Cooperation Forum,
Delegates at the 10th Pan-Tonkin Gulf Economic Cooperation Forum  

Deputy Minister of Transport Nguyen Van Cong is joining 500 delegates from ministries, sectors, research institutes and enterprises of ASEAN countries and China at the 10th Pan-Tonkin Gulf Economic Cooperation Forum that opened in Nanning province of China’s Zhuang Autonomous Region on May 24.

Addressing a ministerial-level dialogue, Deputy Minister Cong said that Vietnam speaks highly of the building of multi-mode transport routes connecting China’s southwestern region with Vietnamese localities as well as other countries in the region.

The routes help save time and cost of transporting goods from ASEAN countries to central Asian and European countries, he said.

He also called for all countries to continue cooperating closely in prioritised areas such as infrastructure, environmental protection, agriculture, and people-to-people contact, while mobilising capital and sponsorship for major projects within their partnership framework.

During the event, participants discussed the achievements in cooperation after 10 years of organising the forum, the building of multi-mode transport routes between ASEAN and China through enhancing transport and infrastructure connection, and seaport cooperation, thereby strengthening exchange, trade, investment cooperation and people-to-people contact between the two sides.

Launched in 2016, the Pan-Tonkin Gulf Economic Cooperation Forum groups China’s three provinces of Guangxi, Guangdong and Hainan, and 10 ASEAN countries - Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

The forum also drew representatives from the ASEAN Secretariat, sponsor organisations such as the Asian Development Bank, as well as international scholars.

Thứ Năm, 24 tháng 5, 2018

Developer to charge toll for boats traveling under railway bridge in Ho Chi Minh City


This will be the first waterway toll imposed in the southern Vietnamese city
​Developer to charge toll for boats traveling under railway bridge in Ho Chi Minh City 
The existing Binh Loi railway bridge in between Binh Thanh and Thu Duc Districts is seen from a birdview. Photo: Tuoi Tre.

The rationale behind the first-ever plan to charge a waterway toll for boats passing under a new railway bridge in Ho Chi Minh City is raising eyebrows from locals who depend on the river for daily life.
Local residents are wondering why boats traveling underneath the Binh Loi Railway Bridge will be expected to pay a toll, even though they will not be directly using the currently under construction infrastructure.
Crossing over the Saigon River, the new railway bridge, developed by a joint venture between GUD and STD, links Binh Thanh and Thu Duc districts.
The structure is part of Pham Van Dong Boulevard, a primary transportation route connecting industrial zones in the neighboring province of Binh Duong with the inland container depot in Ho Chi Minh City.
A representative of the developer announced that the ‘river toll’ will be applied to boats passing under the facility once it is put into operation during the first quarter of 2019.
The bridge, which is being financed under a BOT (build-operate-transfer) scheme , broke ground in late April 2015 as a part of an initiative to replace the deteriorating 112-year-old currently used by trains on the railway.
In the BOT framework, the developer receives a concession from the private or public sector to finance, design, construct and operate a facility for a certain period, during which it has to raise the finances for, and is entitled to retain all revenues generated by, the project. The facility will be then transferred to the public administration at the end of the concession agreement.
The project also includes upgrades to a 71-kilometer section of the Sai Gon River between Binh Loi Bridge and the Ben Suc Wharf in Binh Duong.
Though many agree the construction is much needed, the rationale behind the imposition of a ‘river toll’ is raising serious concerns.
 ​Developer to charge toll for boats traveling under railway bridge in Ho Chi Minh City
An architecture’s impression of the new Binh Loi railway bridge is seen is this photo provided by the developers.

Asked to comment on the controversy, Vu Duc Cuc, a representative of the GUD-STD joint venture, confirmed that the waterway toll will only target boats with loads weighing more than 300 metric tons.
“The new Binh Loi railway bridge will prevent boats from being stuck during high tide as the vertical clearance will be increased from 1.8 meters to 7 meters,” Duc said.
‘Benefiting transportation’
Asked whether trains using the bridge will be forced to pay a toll, Duc clarified that only boats passing under the structure would be subject to the charge, and no trains will be subject to the fee.
Duc underlined that GUD-STD will not be collecting the toll directly, but will instead contract the state agency charged with overseeing ports along the Saigon River, from the Binh Loi railway bridge to the Ben Suc Wharf, in order to “ensure transparency”.
Addressing concerns that the toll will increase transportation costs and put further pressure on local merchants, Duc replied that the waterway toll is still less than the road toll trucks would pass to reach the same destination.
“Thus, the price of goods will not be affected,” he said.
“I believe putting the new Binh Loi railway bridge into operation will bring many benefits to transportation and trading as the existing bridge obstructs shipping between Ho Chi Minh City and Binh Duong,” the representative concluded.
According to plan, the new Binh Loi railway bridge will be opened during the first quarter of 2019 while the upgraded section of the Sai Gon River between Binh Loi Bridge and the Ben Suc Wharf will be completed sometime between April and June.
Tuoi Tre News