Global bodies warn that milk substitutes put babies at risk
HA NOI (VNS)- WHO and UNICEF have warned that Vietnamese children's health could be at risk because of inappropriate labelling and marketing of breast milk substitutes on sale.
Incorrectly renaming breast milk substitutes as "complementary food" or "nutrition products", makes them fall outside the regulatory authority of the Ministry of Finance, they said.
Also, the price of breast milk substitutes on sale in
At the same time, the labelling issue affects the implementation of the Law on Advertisements which came into force in January. This law bans advertisements for breast milk substitutes for children up to two years.
The use of these terms is said to be confusing for consumers, distracting buyers from the global evidence that provides clear recommendations for feeding infants and young children.
WHO and UNICEF said that infants should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life to achieve optimal growth, development and health. From the age of six months, breast milk remains the most appropriate liquid part of a diet for most children up to two years of age, once complementary feeding has begun.
WHO warns that specially formulated milks or so-called "follow-up milks" are not necessary, and even unsuitable when used as a breast-milk replacement.
Current formulations lead to higher protein intake and lower intake of essential fatty acids, iron, zinc and B vitamins than those recommended by WHO for adequate growth and development of infants and young children.
Complementary feeding refers to the period when breast milk alone is no longer sufficient to meet the nutritional requirements of infants and young children, and other foods are needed, along with breast milk.
Simply because a product is fed during the complementary feeding period between eight and 24 months, as in the case of ‘follow-up' formula, does not mean it is a complementary food.
Nguyen Thanh Lan, mother of an 18-year-month boy in Hai Ba Trung District, said she did not pay attention to the labelling of formula milk as complementary foods or baby formula when choosing milk powder products.
"I do not clearly understand the differences between quality of milk products labelled as supplementary foods and baby formula."
Early this year, a scandal involving Danlait milk product raised concern about milk quality. Danlait, a goat milk product from
To safeguard the health and development of Vietnamese children, WHO and UNICEF strongly recommend that the Ministries of Health and Finance classify "follow-up" formulas correctly as milk products. This would ensure that they will be subject to price control and covered by marketing restrictions as contained in the International Code on Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes.- VNS
Thứ Hai, 30 tháng 9, 2013
Party Central Committee convenes eighth conference
The overview of the conference (Photo: VNA)
The Communist Party of Vietnam Central Committee (CPVCC) (11th tenure) convened its eighth conference in Hanoi on September 30, under the chair of General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong.
The conference will see debates and comments made on this year’s socio-economic performance, socio-economic development for 2014, three-year implementation of the 11th National Party Congress’s Resolution on socio-economic development and a draft project on basic and comprehensive renewal in education and training to meet industrialisation and modernisation needs.
During the event, the delegates will study the draft amendments to the 1992 Constitution, review the decade-long implementation of the Resolution on the Strategy on Fatherland Defence adopted at the eighth conference of the CPVCC (11th tenure) and other important issues pertaining to Party building.
In an opening speech, General Secretary Trong brought up issues for in-depth discussion, relating to education renewal, the amendments to the 1992 Constitution, the making of a strategy to defend the country in the new circumstance and the Party building work.
Regarding socio-economic development, he suggested the delegate analyse and come up with accurate assessments of the country’s socio-economic situation, focusing on the execution of the three adopted strategic breakthroughs in association with growth model change and economic restructuring.
The analysis and assessments will help outline major viewpoints, instructions, goals, tasks and measures for the country in 2014 and in the 2014-15 period, aiming to realise the 11th National Party Congress’s Resolution with maximal outcomes, he said.
The Party General Secretary also pointed to the review of the ten-year implementation of the Resolution on the Strategy on Fatherland Defence issued at the eighth conference of the CPVCC as critical in the new circumstance.
The work aims at analysing and evaluating comprehensively, profoundly and systematically the current situation facing the country and lay down proper and orientations, policies and measures that soundly fit the country’s requirements and tasks arisen from the new situation, Party chief Trong emphasised.
In the speech, he also talked about the issuance of regulations on election in the Party and the establishment of sub-committees to prepare for the Party’s 12th Congress, which will be considered and decided during this session.
He requested the delegates bring into full play their sense of responsibility when analysing and debating the raised issues in order to generate profound ideas for reports and projects that can be decided at the end of the conference.
The conference is scheduled to conclude on October 9./.- VNA
All six companies in the aviation sector reported profits, said Lai Xuan Thanh, head of the Civil Aviation Authority of
Vietnam Airlines Corporation, Vietnam Air Navigation Services Corporation and Airports Corporation of
Vietnam's budget private carrier, VietJetAir, also reported VND120 billion (US$5.7 million) pre-tax profits for the first seven months of the year while Jetstar Pacific and Vietnam Air Service Company (VASCO) announced profits for the first time.
VietJetAir's executive director Luu Duc Khanh said that making a profit was beyond the company's expectations after only two years of operation. They initially set a modest goal of breaking even within three years.
A representative from VASCO said that the company had a balance of VND23 billion in the eight-month period and had effectively exploited the domestic routes.
The information surprised experts, given that airline companies faced many difficulties in the past three years with several firms closing.
In February, Air Mekong temporarily ceased operation to restructure; Jetstar also experienced financial difficulties.
Luu Thanh Binh, deputy head of CAAV, expressed optimism about the market, saying that Asia in general and
Binh predicted that the domestic aviation market would have a growth rate of 15 per cent in terms of passenger transport.
He attributed the strong showing to increasing interest in air travel as well as
He said air crew restructuring helped Jetstar Pacific become profitable, while changing from the Boeing 737-400 to A320 model helped the company save 17 per cent of control costs over the same period last year.
However, both experts warned that the increasing popularity of budget carriers posed a significant threat to both economy and high-class market segments that could show an effect by the end of the year. - VNS
Latest reactor generation for Ninh Thuan 1
The Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation ROSATOM has been selected as the technology provider for
* Could you tell us more about Generation III+ nuclear reactor?
The Ninh Thuan 1 Nuclear Power Plant will be applied Pressurized Water Reactor (VVER). In case of troubles, radioactive substances and radioactive waste will be kept and completely isolated within the secure area. Barriers to prevent radioactive substances will also be arranged around the plant, contributing to ensuring the safety.
The nuclear power plant will be built with a series of active and passive safety programs and systems. The passive safety system can operate without the support of external voltage. This system works on the principles of gravity and heat exchange. Operators cannot intervene to turn on or off the system.
The nuclear power plant will also be applied the system to isolate molten substances (core catching). This system was not applied in nuclear power plants in
* Which nuclear power plants were applied core catching?
Rosatom began to apply this system in nuclear power plants in
* The public pays special attention to safe issues in nuclear power plants. What activities will be implemented to ensure the safety for the Ninh Thuan 1 Nuclear Power Plant?
Rosatom completed documents to evaluate the safety of the construction site of the Ninh Thuan 1 Nuclear Power Plant. In addition, field work and pre-feasibility report before construction are proceeding according to schedule to ensure safe conditions for the plant.
Legal documents to ensure the safety in the construction of
Rosatom will support
* Could you tell use more about Russian-Vietnamese cooperation in the preparation of human resources?
To construct and operate the Ninh Thuan 1 Nuclear Power Plant, it is necessary to have about 1,500 people, including 300 workers, 700 engineers, 300 employees in the monitoring units, experts from the Vietnam Electricity and staff from relevant ministries and departments.
$340 million road opens for traffic in HCM City
A five-kilometre section of the Tan Son Nhat- Binh Loi Outer Ring Road in HCM City opened to traffic on Saturday.
It has 12 lanes and runs from Nguyen Thai Son intersection not far from the airport to National Highway 13.
The 1.1km, 12-lane Binh Loi Bridge across the Sai Gon River is on the highway, which is named under after former Prime Minister Pham Van Dong.
The bridge is expected to serve around 40 per cent of the traffic crossing the Sai Gon River from the city.
It is an important part of the ring road, serving to connect Tan Son Nhat International Airport with industrial parks in Binh Duong Province through National Highway 13.
It is expected to help reduce traffic, accidents, and pollution on severely congested roads like Xo Viet Nghe Tinh, Dinh Bo Linh, Bach Dang, Phan Dang Luu, and Phan Van Tri streets.
The ring road, to measure a total of 13.6km, starts at the airport in Tan Binh District and will end in Thu Duc District at National Highway 1.
It will run through the districts of Go Vap and Binh Thanh.
It will cost nearly US$495 million, with land and relocation accounting for $281.3 million.
Construction began in 2008. It is 75 per cent complete and expected to be finished next year.
It is the country's first BT (build - transfer) project in collaboration with a foreign partner, South Korea-based GS E&C Company, Nguyen Huu Tin, deputy chairman of the city People's Committee, said.
Nearly 4,000 households with 30,000 people had to be relocated for the work, he added.
The new road in pictures:
BUSINESS IN BRIEF 1/10
For the rest of the year,
Speaking recently at a meeting to review socio-economic development in the first three quarters, Quan said if hindrances facing the city's businesses were curbed in the fourth quarter, the city could attain high GDP growth, helping to bring the country's GDP growth rate to 5.5 per cent in 2013.
The local economy has shown signs of recovery, based on recent figures from the city's Taxation Bureau on the number of newly established businesses and those that have resumed operation.
In the first eight months of the year, 18,384 new businesses were established and 4,704 resumed operations. However, over the same period, 15,343 businesses were dissolved in the city.
Of the businesses declaring taxes on their profits, the figure rose from 36 per cent last year to 33 per cent in the first quarter and 28 per cent in the second quarter, according to Tran Thi Le Nga, deputy head of the Taxation Bureau.
The Deputy Director of the city's Department of Industry and Trade, Le Ngoc Dao, was quoted as saying in Thoi Bao Kinh Te Sai Gon (Saigon Economic Times) news magazine that the rate of inventory in
Le Chi Hieu, the deputy chairman of
He added that many of them had suspended or scaled down operations and cut staff. Some of them had "retreated from the property market" altogether.
According to Thai Van Re, director of the city's Department of Planning and Investment,
The city attained GDP of VND532.414 triillion (nearly US$25.8 billion) in the first three quarters of 2013, a growth of 8.7 per cent compared with the same period last year.
As a result, the GDP growth for the year is estimated at 9.2 per cent, slightly below the target of 9.5 pert cent.
Retailers are turning away from shopping malls around the country because rents are too high but not enough customers to generate revenues.
A Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper report said in Lotte building in
"Most visitors coming to the centre these days seem interested only in window shopping." Trang, the owner of a shop selling fashion garments there, told Tuoi Tre.
"The decline in sales in the last two years has made us miserable.
Lac, another shop owner, said she is seeking to sell or sublease her shop because business is stagnant and she is not making enough money to even pay her rent.
Huong Thuy, who has a fashion shop there, said few customers visit during weekdays, and the weekend business is not high enough to make a difference.
The manager of a shopping centre in Tan Binh District said rents have been cut three times in the last one year after many tenants returned their shops to the owners.
The tenants are looking for space outside the centre to cut costs.
He added that three shopping malls – TS Plaza in District 7 and
According to a report from real estate services provider CBRE, many retailers have quit the market in the second quarter, leaving shops vacant at business centres and shopping malls in both inner and suburban districts in
It said retailers leaving the inner districts of HCM City include Home One (returning 1,200sq.m), Gloria Jean's (100 sq.m), Nike (150sq.m), Banana Leaf (100 sq.m), and Givral (100 sq.m)
High rents but small number of visitors plague the sector, it said.
According to a master plan from the Ministry of Industry and Trade, by 2020
Ornamental fish make profit splash
Exports of ornamental fish from
In the first nine months of the year,
Tong Huu Chau, owner of the Chau Tong Ornamental Fish Enterprise in
Many new partners from the
Ho Nhuan Dang Son, general secretary of the Long An Province's Ornamental Creatures Association, said that export orders had been rising since the beginning of the year.
Son said he earned a profit last year of nearly VND500 million (US$23,800) from raising 100 tanks of discus fish and 2ha of other ornamental fish.
The EU accounts for 73 per cent of
Enterprises said, however, that Vietnamese ornamental fish exports still faced several technical barriers from import countries.
Chau said that four carp exporters in
The city's Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, along with the Agriculture and
This practice will be applied on a pilot basis at several ornamental fish farms next month, said the association.
Last year, the city exported VND400 billion (US$19 million) of ornamental fish, up two times against 2008, said the department.
The city now raises more than 63 million ornamental fish, up 14.5 per cent against the same period last year, it said.
Car makers take early imports turn
A report from the Viet Nam Automobile Manufacturers' Association (VAMA) showed that its members sold 92,000 units in 2012, a fall of 33 per cent compared with 2011.
When the presently high taxes dropped to zero in 2018, cars from ASEAN countries are expected to flood into
Toyota Motor Vietnam (TMV) will display Lexus cars from
According to Honda Vietnam's sales manager, Tomohiro Maruto, after three months of launching the model, the company has received more than 1,600 orders but delivered only about 300 units. It has raised production capacity to 600 units a year, but this is still not enough. The company also plans to import the Accord model by the end of this year.
Mitsubishi, whose strong position in four-wheel-drive vehicles, will also display two small sedans for women motorists at the motor show in
According to the Viet Nam Customs, more than 23,000 completely-built units have been imported to
Deputy Director of Vinastar, Kiyoshi Teshima, said Mitsubishi had been assembling cars and selling imported ones.
At present, most cars from ASEAN sold in
Although the three countries are not members of ASEAN, the regional group will reduce their import taxes to 5 per cent by 2018.
Many car makers in
They said to lower prices, they needed more locally-made spare parts, but the country's support industry was still weak.
Rubber exports hit $1.68b in first 9 months of 2013
The country exported 100,000 tonnes of rubber this month, reaping a turnover of US$223 million, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development's statistics.
The latest addition has brought the volume of exported rubber in the first nine months total to 710,000 tonnes, earning the country $1.68 billion. The exports, however, experienced yearly decrease of 1.2 per cent in volume and 17.8 per cent in value.
Can Tho businesses eager to penetrate UAE market
Businesses in Can Tho city would greatly benefit if they were able to penetrate the
Vietnamese businesses and those in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta in particular, however, were facing tremendous difficulties as a result of the global economic recession and technical barriers when entering choosy markets like the US, EU and Japan, said Deputy Chairman of the municipal People's Committee Dao Anh Dung.
Co.opmart offers large discounts for Women's Day
Supermarket chain Sai Gon Co.op expects sales to increase by at least 50 per cent in October after it rolled out five big promotions to mark Viet Nam Women's Day on October 20.
It is offering a 50 per cent discount on consumer goods and garments for women and utensils and a "buy one get one free" deal.
The discounts, to run until October 27, are also offered at Co.opXtraplus Thu Duc and Co.op Food convenience store chains.
Agro-forestry-fishery exports outstrip $20b mark
The amount has raised the sector's total export turnover in the first nine months of this year to $20.45 billion, representing a year-on-year increase of 0.5 per cent.
Among the export items, pepper and cashew recorded the most impressive growth in both volume and value.
Over the past three quarters,
Meanwhile, pepper export volume rose by 20.2 per cent to 112,000 tonnes, earning $743 million, up 16.5 per cent year-on-year.
Wood and wood product exports brought home $389 million in September and $3.77 billion in the past three quarters, up 12 per cent over the corresponding time last year.
The sector's export to major markets such as the
During the January-September period, seafood exports experienced a rise of 3 per cent year-on-year to $4.61 billion.
While Viet Nam's fishery export enjoyed remarkable growth in China, Canada and Thailand with 53 per cent, 13.8 per cent and 13 per cent respectively, the figures in Japan, the RoK and Germany dropped by 0.6 per cent, 14.1 per cent and 2.6 per cent.
The country exported around 471,000 tonnes of rice in September, bringing home $214 million. This fell far short of the country's 650,000 tonne target, itself lowered from the 750,000 tonne goal previously set by the Viet Nam Food Association.
In the first nine months of this year, rice export saw decreases of 14.3 per cent in volume and 16.7 per cent in value with 5.35 million tonnes shipped abroad worth $2.35 billion.
Experts forecast that the fourth quarter will be gloomy picture for the country's rice exporters, saying Vietnamese businesses are finding it hard to seek new contracts.
During the reviewed period, the Vietnamese coffee businesses delivered 1.03 million tonnes to foreign importers, garnering $2.21 billion, down 23.1 per cent in volume and 22.5 per cent in value year-on-year.
With the present performance, experts said the yearly target of $4 billion may be out of reach for the country.
At the same time,
VN ranks in ‘dynamism' study
A study by Grant Thornton has ranked
The Global Dynamism Index, based on five drivers of an economy's dynamism, gave the country a score of 54 per cent. This compares with 66.5 per cent for
"The ratings go well beyond basic GDP data," Grant Thornton CEO Ed Nusbaum said.
"Five areas were identified as holding the key drivers to an economy's dynamism: business operating environment, science and technology, labour and human capital, economics and growth, and the financing environment. Within these groups, there were 22 key data points that were analysed."
What affected its overall scores were the business operating environment (down 5 places to 47th), and science and technology (down 3 places to 44th), and it is in these areas that government and management need to improve to build on
TPP drives textile, garment firms to step up production
Textile and garment enterprises in southern
The move aims to help them take the advantages of the agreement in export activities after the expected signing of the agreement at year's end.
Nguyen Dinh Truong, deputy chairman of the Viet Nam Textile and Apparel Association (Vitas), said after the TPP is signed,
Localities such as
The Dong Nai Industrial Garment Company based in
To prepare for the TPP, the Dong Tien Joint Stock Company has started to build infrastructure for a support industrial complex for the textile and garment industry, said Vu Ngoc Thuan, the company general director.
The complex has already attracted five investors to develop support industrial products for the textile and garment industry.
Bo Ngoc Thu, director of the Dong Nai Planning and Investment Department, said
However, local textile and garment companies will have difficulty in getting a preferential export tax rate after the TPP is signed because, at present, they have had to import from many countries almost all of their raw material for production.
If they want to receive the export tax rate of zero under the TPP regulation, they must import the raw material for the textile and garment industry only from TPP member countries, Lien said.
To take initiative in raw material for production, the local enterprises must pour a huge investment capital into the textile and dye stages, she said.
Thuan said the difficulty with raw material will not change over the next few years because investment in the textile and dye industries is not easy.
Many provinces and cities have not encouraged investment in these industries because they are afraid of environmental problems, he said.
Additionally, small and medium sized enterprises having difficulties in capital and workforce would not be able to approach production and business opportunities from the TPP, said Thuan, adding that these enterprises have yet made a planned way to get out of their situation.
Vietnamese enterprises prepared to expand in Asia
Many Vietnamese small enterprises are now ready to expand business in Asian countries, according to Thng Tien Tat, Executive Director of Singapore United Overseas Bank in
Tat was quoted by
He said that UOB has set up a foreign direct investment (FDI) advisory department to provide support to Vietnamese businesses seeking to expand operations in
UOB's statistics showed that trade flow between
The two-way trade between
According to Edlyn Khoo, director of
The UOB has opened seven FDI advisory departments in Asian countries and territories, including
Two other FDI advisory departments were going to be set up in
Two-way trade between
These figures were released at an on-line conference organised between Ha Noi and New Delhci on Thursday.
According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, India has become one of Viet Nam's leading trade partners with bilateral trade increasing by 12.2 per cent a year from 2008-12.
The trade value hit $3.5 billion in the past eight months, up 40.2 per cent year-on-year.
Vietnamese products for the
Huy also said the signing of a Trade And Service Agreement and an Investment Agreement between ASEAN and
Sufficient potential existed for the two countries to raise trade to $25 billion by 2020, said a director from
He suggested the launching of a direct air route linking the two nations and the establishment of bank branches would help achieve this target.
Sugar stockpile reaches sweet spot
Sugar inventory reached 221,310 tonnes as of mid-September, 99,310 tonnes higher than the same period last year, according to the Department of Processing and Trade for Agro-forestry-Fisheries Products and Salt Production.
The volume sold between August 15 to September 15 was 36,300 tonnes higher than the same period last year, reaching 102,000 tonnes due to increased exports to
The price of sugar in the domestic market remained stable over the last month at VND15,000 (US$0.7) per kilo.
SBV revokes licences for new banks
The State Bank of Viet Nam (SBV) recently decided to revoke the licences for the opening of Lao-Viet Bank's branches in Ha Noi and
SBV also ordered the two branches to carry out asset liquidation in compliance with Circular 34/2011/TT-NHNN.
Lao-Viet Bank, established in 2009, was a joint venture between the Bank for Investment and Development of Viet Nam and Lao Bank for Foreign Trade.
The land parcels range in area from 800-6,200 square metres. Construction licenses were granted for buildings from four to 30 floors.
About 40 hotels and restaurants were built in the city in the last five years, according to Syrena.
Tomorrow, the company will also release for sale 90 land parcels in Hung Thang New Urban Zone ranging in size from 175sq.m to 300sq.m.
Businesses register for promotion month
About 500 businesses in Ha Noi, including big supermarkets and trade centres, have registered to participate in the city's special promotion month in November, offering discounts of up to 50 per cent for many of their products.
The highlight of the month will be the two "golden days" on November 16 and 17 when products at special discounts will be available at 25 outlets around the city.
The capital city plans to spend VND3 billion (US$143,000 USD), including about VND1.2 billion from the city budget, on the promotional activities.
Mobile users to swap networks
Mobile phone users can now change networks and still keep their phone numbers, following Decision No.1178 of the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) published on Wednesday.
But don't hold your breath, the new service is about four years away.
A national network transfer centre will be set up before June 30, 2015, at the Department of Telecommunications under the Ministry of Information and Communications.
The ministry will implement a six-month pilot service and finish it before June 30, 2016. The network transfer service will come into operation officially in January 1, 2017.
About 70 countries offer the same-number service for customers, including the
The new decision is expected to force mobile network providers to put more effort into attracting users. Customers will not have to pay much money to change networks.
Google reading app available
Vietnamese can now use Google's e-book reading application named Play Books on Google Play store.
They can read free books or purchase millions of titles, including new releases, bestsellers and up-and-coming authors.
Google has also introduced the application to
The provider integrates many services in the application, such as Google Translate, Wikipedia and Google Maps.
Earlier, Google launched the application in
Firms urged to take advantage of trade pacts
Import-export and logistics firms should take advantage of free trade agreements and Incoterms, a set of international trade regulations, experts have said.
Do Xuan Quang, chairman of the Viet Nam Logistics Business Association (VLA) and also chairman of the ASEAN Federation of Forwarders Association, told a workshop in
Incoterms are a set of standard international regulations last updated in 2010 and used for commercial transactions and procurement and to communicate the costs and risks associated with goods delivery.
Companies who conform to Intercoms provisions would be able to control cost and time while providing transport and logistics services, he said.
"Most local import-export firms are taking advantage of tax incentives that are available if they have certificates of origin.
"During the economic downturn, taking advantage of tax incentives available under FTAs between
It would also help
Six other FTAs are under negotiations, including the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement that is set to be signed by year end and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership to be signed in 2015.
"Import-export enterprises should switch to buying under FOB (free on board) mode and selling under CIF (cost, insurance and freight) mode," Le Duy Hiep, deputy chairman of VLA, said.
Most import-export firms do exactly the opposite despite warnings about financial losses and job losses in sectors like maritime transport and insurance, he said.
The Government should have policies to enable firms to buy under FOB mode and sell under CIF mode for better logistics management and reducing risks, he added.
U Nyan Tun Oo, Yangon Region Minister for Electricity and Industry, told leaders of domestic enterprises in a workshop yesterday that they needed to use more innovative technology if they wanted to integrate into the international economy.
At the workshop, representatives of the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI), Vietnamese Embassy staff in
They focused on Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), a software application that helps enterprises manage their resources and operations more efficiently, and Distributor Management System (DMS), another IT solution that offers companies a professional end-to-end solution by automating sales processes, controlling distribution activities and maintaining inventory at optimum levels.
According to speakers at the workshop, DMS also helps save time and improve the performance of sales staff.
FPT Myanmar Chairman, Hoang Minh Chau, said that
However, he warned that managers needed to increase innovation and measure up to international standards if they did not want to be left behind.
"In our endeavours to contribute to
Based on the "on job training" model, FPT Myanmar hopes to help
FPT Myanmar also committed to provide experts and technologies compatible with the financial investment status of domestic enterprises in finance and banking, telecommunications, ERP and e-government.
The workshop was co-organised by FPT Myanmar, SAP (the world's leading ERP solutions provider) and ACE Data Systems (one of the biggest IT companies in
Listed firms leave property market
Many listed companies are divesting from real estate to avoid negative impacts to their core business.
The profitability of the real estate market prior to 2010 made companies pour money into the sector, including seafood processor Dabaco (DBC) and Lam Son Sugar (LSS). However, once the economy became troubled, they faced a lot of challenges.
Lam Son Sugar's profit in the first six months of this year plunged over 63 per cent compared to the same period last year, reaching only VND23.2 billion (US$1 million).
LSS shares by mid August dropped around 50 per cent compared to the corresponding period last year. Their shares currently trade at only VND12,000 per unit.
The sugar company has not finished its investments in several projects, including Lam Son Hotel, Linh Son Eco-tourism Area and other complexes, which cost VND325 billion ($15.3 million).
The company's chairman Le Van Tam said since the beginning of this year he had restructured the company to stop investment in real estate and focus on sugar production.
Meanwhile, as of June, Dabaco recorded an unfinished investment cost of VND514 billion ($24.2 million). Three years ago the company established Dabaco Real Estate Co Ltd and issued bonds worth VND556 billion ($26.2 million) to pour into the property sector.
Around VND150 billion ($7 million) from the bond value was used. The company has decided to direct the remaining money into their main activity of seafood processing.
In the long term, if these lefthanders can sell their real estate projects, they would have resources to overcome the consequences of the current economic difficulties.
Tam said he hoped the business results in the second half of this year would improve as his company started to get rid of real estate.
BIDV MetLife to join insurance market next year
The Bank for Investment & Development of Vietnam (BIDV), and Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam Insurance Corporation (BIC) and MetLife Inc. have signed a contract to establish a life insurance joint venture (JV) in Vietnam.
Under the contract, the Hanoi-based JV named BIDV MetLife will focus on life and health insurance with a charter capital of VND1 trillion.
BIDV MetLife aims to become one of the top life insurance businesses in the Vietnamese market. To this end, BIDV MetLife and BIDV will sign and implement an exclusive distribution agreement through the branches in order.
The JV, which is expected to begin operation in 2014, will provide banking and insurance products to meet diversified customer demands and increase the competitiveness of Vietnam’s life insurance market, reduce sale costs and bring more benefits to customers.
According to BIDV, Vietnam is considered as one of the fastest growing economies and life insurance markets in Asia. The life insurance market will grow at a rate of 15% in the next five years as only 5 percent of the Vietnamese population has life insurance.
Established in 1868, as the largest life insurer in the US, Metlife has increased its presence in Asia for more than 60 years.
It was listed as one of the "World's Most Admired Companies" by Fortune Magazine in 2011, and placed 40th in the 2013 Fortune 500.
Domestic sugar industry faces many challenges
Oversupply and contraband sugar seems to have now crippled the domestic sugar industry.
The Vietnam Sugar Cane Association said the sugarcane sector is expected to produce some 1.6 million tons of sugar this year plus stockpile over 370,000 tons and import around 70,000 tons, totaling around 2 million tons, which exceeds total demand of 600,000 kilograms.
However, due to smuggled sugar of 300,000 tons per year infiltrating the market, oversupply is becoming a serious issue.
Most of the sugar in stockpile is refined sugar for food production.
Oversupply and slow consumption has dragged down prices and domestic sugar price has dropped to only VND15,000 a kg.
Nguyen Thanh Long, Chairman of Vietnam Sugar Cane Association, said firms must buy at VND830,000 to VND850,000 per ton which can bring profits for farmers. With this price, firms have to sell at VND15,000 a kilogram, yet the price is on a downward trend.
Le Xuan Quang, Director of La Nga Sugarcane Company complained that firms must maintain the high prices to keep farmers continue cultivation but companies suffer heavy losses with such high prices.
Do Thanh Liem, Director of Khanh Hoa Sugar Company, said smuggled sugar has hurt the domestic industry as it fetches only VND 12,800 a kilogram. If sugar companies reduce price to compete with smuggled sugar, they are compelled to buy sugarcane at VND700,000 a kilogram, it will result in a larger area of sugarcane cultivation being switched to planting different crops and sugar sector will be on the brink of collapse.
Subbaiah, Director of KPC Company Vietnam, said that with current widespread smuggling of sugar, the government should cut the Value Added Tax down zero percent to this sector; ban on temporary import and re export in order to prevent tax evasion cases.
Saigon Co-op wins Customer Service Excellence Award
Saigon Co-op has been awarded the Customer Service Excellence Award by the Federation of Asia-Pacific Retailers Association (Fapra) in Istanbul (Turkey).
The Fapra Award includes five prizes, namely, the Most Innovative Retail Concept Award, the Green Retailer Award, the Best Marketing Campaign Award, the Best Effort in Retail Employee Training, and Customer Service Excellence Award.
Accordingly, Saigon co-operative, Migros Ticaret A.S (Turkey) and Sa Sa International Holding Limited-La Colline Shop (Hong Kong) won the Customer Service Excellence Award.
The Fapra Awards 2013 honored businesses and individuals that had made outstanding achievements in the field of retail sales in 2013.
Fapra Awards was organized in 2009 and this is the third time the award has been given by the Federation of Asia-Pacific Retailers Association.
National budget revenue at 62.5 percent of yearly plan
National budget revenue was estimated at VND509.7 trillion by September 15, accounting for 62.5 percent of this year’s plan, while budget expenditure was estimated at VND640.4 trillion, accounting for 65.5 percent of this year’s plan.
Domestic budget revenue reached VND331.2 trillion, or 60.7 percent; revenue from crude oil touched VND77.5 trillion, or 78.3 percent; and revenue from import and export activities was at VND96.8 billion, or 58.1 percent of this year’s plan.
Of domestic budget revenue, revenue from state-owned sector was at VND98.4 trillion; revenue from foreign-invested sector, not including crude oil, at VND74.1 trillion; revenue from private sector & trade -industrial tax at VND72.1 trillion; and revenue from individual income tax at VND35 trillion.
Industrial employment index rises 4.2 percent
According to the General Statistics Office, the industrial employment index by September 1, rose 4.2 percent compared to the same period last year.
Of which, state-owned sector slid 1.4 percent; private sector inched up 1.1 percent; and foreign-invested sector jumped 8.4 percent.
The statistics also showed that the employment index of the mining industry fell 1.7 percent; industrial processing and manufacturing surged 4.7 percent; power generation and distribution increased 3.1 percent; water supply and waste and wastewater treatment emerged 2.9 percent; and vehicle manufacturing climbed 2.4 percent.
Meanwhile, some industries, including foods processing, beverage, and wood and wooden products, saw a decrease.
Mekong Delta struggles to revive animal husbandry
While shrimp breeders have been enjoying profits, many households in the Mekong Delta who raise pigs, chickens, and ducks are in despair as prices have fallen drastically.
Mr. Tu Sum, a farmer in Tan Hoi Trung Commune in Cao Lanh District of Dong Thap Province, complained that with the current price of pig he earns less than VND500,000 per quintal in four hard-working months.
According to him, pigs are usually raised four to five months before being sold to traders. The price of pigs now is at VND4.1 million per quintal while the cost for feed and medicine is more than VND3.5 million.
Looking at the herd of more than ten pigs which he will be able to sell in the next two months, Mr. Sum groaned that with such high price of feed, he will definitely suffer losses.
Nguyen Anh Vu, a vet from Tan Hoi Trung Commune, said that there were around 700 pigs which are ready for slaughter. However, with the current price of VND4-4.1 million per quintal, farmers only manage to recover their overheads.
Many farmers worry that if they do not sell their swine at this price, and the price drops further to VND3.6-3.7 million per quintal like previous months, they will lose their capital. As usual, when the flooding season comes, the price of pigs also declines.
Mr. Vu said that besides concerns about further drop in price, farmers barter away their pigs mainly because the price of feed is too high. In addition, their banks loans have reached due date so when the price of pig inches up, they sell their pigs right away.
In Tien Giang Province, there were nearly 562,000 pigs ‘stuck’ in pigsties because of low price. Nearly 254,000 pigs in Long An Province, and 195,000 pigs in Dong Thap Province were in the same situation.
However, not only pig farmers but chicken, duck, and fish farmers in the Mekong Delta provinces were also experiencing such difficulties.
It is important to find a way out for farmers, especially to help them to start a new herd to serve the upcoming Tet holiday season.
Le Minh Duc, Director of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in Long An Province, said that besides shrimps which have showed signs of recovery, pigs, fish, and chickens have been suffering low prices, unstable consumption, and raging diseases.
Mr. Duc said that until now agricultural production in general and husbandry in particular has still not built a solid foothold but remains unsteady and vulnerable. The fact that the price will fall when farmers get bumper crops, or vice versa, occurs continuously. It is rare to see bumper crops and high prices at the same time.
According to the Departments of Agriculture and Rural Development in the Mekong Delta, the key shortcomings of husbandry industry are small-scale production; breeding stock of poor quality; and farmers not paying sufficient attention to market information.
Not to mention, veterinary technical infrastructure and management is still weak and not synchronized. Even the application of advanced technology in husbandry to improve product quality has not been given proper interest. Continual disease outbreaks have caused more difficulties for husbandry industry. As a result, several animal husbandry households, especially small ones, had to shut down because of loss and bankruptcy. Local authorities and relevant departments have struggled to help farmers to revive production but no positive signs have showed yet.
Mr. Duc said that disease outbreak easily arises from small-scale animal husbandry but is hard to control. In order to build modern large-scale animal husbandry units with tight control on input and output, husbandry industry should change and find a new direction to develop sustainably.
FDI firms’ transfer pricing remain out of control in Vietnam
A recent inspection conducted by the Government Inspector found that foreign direct investment (FDI) companies in Vietnam have continued reporting losses while expanding operations.
The phenomenon seems to show that their transfer pricing activities are devious, causing the state budget losses over the recent years.
The Government Inspector also performed tax audits on various enterprises in Hanoi, HCM City, Binh Duong and Dong Nai, and uncovered many FDI firms which have continued reporting losses.
The check on 399 companies at export processing zones in these localities showed that 125 firms have reported losses for the three consecutive years between 2009 and 2011.
Japanese-invested Sumitomo Bakelite Vietnam Ltd. Co. at Thang Long Industrial Park in Hanoi announced an accumulated loss of VND777 billion (USD37 million) during the period. Meiko Electronics Vietnam Ldt. Co’s loss was reported at VND300 billion (USD14.2 million) during the same period of time.
In Dong Nai Province, FDI companes with the big loss include Toshiba Industrial Products Asia Co. with VND430 billion (USD20.4 million), followed by Fujitsu Vietnam with VND292 billion (USD13.9 million), Kureha Vietnam with VND264 billion (USD12.57 million) and Olympus Vietnam with VND256 billion (USD12.19 million).
Freetrend Industrial Vietnam Ltd. Co. in HCM City reported a loss of VND222 billion (USD111 million) and Saigon Stec Ltd. Co. in Binh Duong Province with VND218 billion (USD10.3 million).
However, despite these claimed losses, a number of them continued to expand. This has raised the public concerns over the transparency of transfer pricing.
An official from the Hanoi Taxation Department said these signs indicate the methods used by FDI companies in transfer pricing. They have transfer their profits to the parent companies in a foreign country, he said.
Phan Huu Thang, Former Head of the Foreign Investment Agency, said if tax agencies paid more attention to FDI companies’ revenues and taxable income, it would help the ability to assess whether they are being honest or not.