Thứ Hai, 31 tháng 8, 2015

Social News 1/9

Traffic accident kills two in central Quang Tri
Two men died after their motorbike collided with a tank truck while travelling from the Lao Bao border crossing to Dong Ha City in central Quang Tri Province.
The motorbike was traveling in the opposite direction when the accident occurred on national highway 49 in the province's Huong Hoa District. Witnesses said the force of the collision threw the two men into the roadside drainage ditch.
The dead were identified as 26-year-old Ho Van Bon and 32-year-old Ho Van Phac, residents of the mountainous Dakrong District. The motorbike was heavily damaged.
Police are investigating the accident. Experts noted that residents of the mountainous areas tend to drive very fast and often do not monitor their speeds.
Fishermen attack sand dredges

Traffic accident kills two in central Quang Tri, Fishermen attack sand dredges, Police seize rotting chickens before being sold, PM adjusts construction project for Dau Giay - Phan Thiet Highway, Health insurance to include holidays 

The homes and livelihoods of residents in Van Ninh district's Dai Lanh commune in southern Khanh Hoa Province are being threatened by a sand dredging project.
Since the project started, the depth of river sand has fallen by 80 centimetres. This has weakened the structure of the bank and threatens to not only undermine 500 households in Dai Lanh commune but also cost the inhabitants their incomes from fishing in the river.
Phan Thi Lich fears that her house in Đong Nam hamlet will collapse if the project continues.
The removal of so much sand has weakened the foundations and steps leading to many houses. Residents have replaced broken steps with sand bags.
For two days at the beginning of August, more than 110 irate locals on about 50 boats surrounded the dredging area and threw bricks and bottles at the dredgers, according to provincial border guards.
At the same time, 20 to 30 women and children headed to the headquarters of Dai Lanh commune's People's Committee to verbally oppose the continuation of the work.
The investor was later told to halt the project and to withdraw his dredgers.
The provincial People's Committee has asked Van Phong economic zone management board to collect opinions from local authorities about the feasibility of the project and to listen to residents, according to Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper.
The sand dredging project, conducted along a 12km stretch of river, covers 1,213 hectares in Van Phong economic zone. Sole investor in the zone is the Phuc Son company, which plans to remain until 2 023.
The provincial People's Committee and Việt Nam Marine Department originally gave permission for the company to exploit the river sand..
According to the provincial Customs Department, so far more than 415,000 cubic metres of sand have been removed and exported to Cambodia and Singapore, Tuoi Tre newspaper reported.
The dredging project is apparently also aimed at deepening the seabed in Vân Phong economic zone to enable 100,000-tonne ships to enter.
This is aimed at attracting investment to the zone and developing tourism, said Trần Kim Bảo, deputy chairman of Vạn Ninh district's People's Committee.
However, residents say the project is not feasible. They say there are no ports, industrial activities or major tourism infrastructure in the area.
Last year, many barges began to appear near Vạn Thọ commune to load the sand. It is near where local fishermen have been catching shrimps for many years.
Police arrest Quang Binh local carrying drugs
Police in the province announced today that they had caught a man carrying drugs while he was travelling on the urban bypass section of the local Bo Trach District.
Tran Van Chuan, a resident of the central province's municipal Dong Hoi City, was found with 719 pills in his possession. He told police he had bought the drug from the Lao Bao border gate in the neighbouring Quang Tri Province.
Chuan said the purchase was intended for consumption within the province. Police are investigating the case.
3,000 illegal detonators seized in central province
Local police today seized nearly 3,000 detonators being transported illegally in a taxi that was going from Nghe An Province to central Thanh Hoa Province.
The vehicle was stopped by the local police for having violated a traffic law. As the police were checking his papers, the male passenger riding in the taxi managed to flee.
The police then searched the car and discovered the illegal items, including more than 3,000 detonators and 150 metres of slow-burning fuses.
Le Hong Lam, the driver, said the confiscated material belonged to the passenger, who had hired the cab at Dien Chau District in Nghe An Province and wanted to go to Tinh Gia District in Thanh Hoa Province.     
All the items were sealed for further investigation.
People worry about reservoirs' safety during monsoon season
Deteriorating reservoirs are one of the greatest concerns of residents of the central region during the monsoon season.
Due to insufficient funds being available for the upgrade and maintenance work, many localities can only set short-term plans to ensure the safety of irrigation systems in the monsoon season.
The Hoc Bua Reservoir in Binh Son District, which was constructed 40 years ago, has become severely damaged over time. The local authority has had to mobilise human resources and available means to repair the dam every year before the flooding season.
"When the monsoon season approaches, we are afraid the dam may break and so have to move to other places. I hope the authority upgrades the dam to ensure the safety of the local people," Tran Van Thanh of Binh Son District said.
There are 119 reservoirs that provide water to more than 12,500ha in Quang Ngai Province. Three-fourths of the total reservoirs were built before 1989 and are now in poor condition.
Deputy Director of Quang Ngai Province's Agriculture and Rural Development Department Nguyen Mau Van said the province has prepared plans to ask for state funds for maintenance and repair work of the deteriorating reservoir system.
Besides regular checks and maintenance work, the Quang Ngai agriculture department also prioritises forecasting of reservoir levels so that the local people can prepare a prompt response to natural disasters.
Requiem held for over 2 million Vietnamese famine victims
A requiem for over 2 million Vietnamese famine victims who died in 1945 took place in Tien Lang district, the northern city of Hai Phong on August 31.
The starvation, a result of the Indochinese war, killed 280,000 in Thai Binh alone over the course of five months and nearly 2 million others in 32 cities and provinces, including Hanoi and Hai Phong.
Foreign invaders depleted Vietnamese agriculture by forcing farmers to sell rice to be stockpiled in their countries and grow fibre and oil-yielding plants in place of rice, said Venerable Thich Quang Minh, Head of the Executive Board of the Vietnam Buddhist Sangha’s Tien Lang chapter.
Excessive taxation also pushed them into poverty, he added.
On the occasion, a photo exhibition on the 1945 famine was opened.
On the evening of the same day, 3,000 coloured lanterns were released into the Van Uc River to pray for national peace and prosperity.
Ho Chi Minh City marks national events
Ho Chi Minh City authorities commemorated the 70 th anniversary of the August Revolution and National Day during a public ceremony held on August 31.
Addressing the celebration, Le Hoang Quan, Politburo member and Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee, highlighted the city’s comprehensive progress in the last four decades, saying it is striving to enhance local living standards moving forwards.
Meanwhile, Vice State President Nguyen Thi Doan awarded the Ho Chi Minh Order to the southern hub for its overall contributions to national development and defence.
On the occasion, senior officials laid wreaths and offered incense as tribute to the late presidents Ho Chi Minh and Ton Duc Thang in various destinations across the city.
Hanoi detention camp frees nearly 300 prisoners
As many as 285 domestic and 14 foreign inmates at the Thanh Xuan detention camp in Hanoi were freed on August 31 under the President’s Decision on Amnesty.
Attending the event, Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Chairman of the Central Advisory Council on Amnesty, said the Vietnamese State decided to grant clemency to inmates with positive rehabilitation on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the August Revolution (August 19) and National Day (September 2).
The amnesty policy of the Vietnamese Party and State reflects the humanitarian tradition of the Vietnamese nation, which encourages offenders to rehabilitate and become useful members of society, Phuc said.
Consideration for amnesty was conducted in a public, transparent and democratic manner, receiving domestic concurrence and international applause, he said, adding that people and authorities across the country created all favourable conditions for the pardoned inmates to reintegrate into the community.
Deputy PM Phuc congratulated the pardoned inmates, saying the Vietnamese Party and State hope they will proactively reintegrate into society with the support of their family, the community, local authorities and police.
He encouraged those who are not eligible for this year’s amnesty to make greater efforts to rehabilitate.
In addition to amnesty, the Party and State’s policies are designed to reduce sentences for inmates with positive behaviours, he said.
He urged local authorities to monitor and support pardoned inmates to return home and find employment.
Under the President’s Decision on Amnesty, 18,298 prisoners serving jail terms and eligible for amnesty according to State law were freed ahead of their scheduled release dates on August 31, 2015.
Police seize rotting chickens before being sold
Police in central Quang Binh Province stopped a van and discovered over 100kg of rotting chickens being transported to be sold as food.
Traffic police late last week stopped the passenger van registered for operation on the Quang Binh - Da Nang route and discovered 104kg of chickens stored in cardboard boxes. The van's driver, Tran Chinh Truong, a resident of the province's Dong Hoi City, did not have legal permits for the chickens, according to authorities.
He confessed to police that the chickens were to be served as food. The province's department of veterinary later verified that the chickens were rotten and could not be used as food.
Police issued a violation to the driver and confiscated the chickens so they could be destroyed.
Youth summer campaign helps better rural infrastructure
The June-August youth volunteer summer campaign launched by the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union has built 1,071 km of new roads in rural areas.
Campaign participants have helped upgrade 4,074 km of roads, installed road lights on 2,000 km, and repaired 423 cultural centres, playgrounds for children and more than 3,000 compassionate houses in villages as well.
These outcomes of the 2015 campaign were revealed by the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union and the Hanoi Youth Union at a conference held in Hanoi on August 30.
The campaign has thus far trained 160,000 rural youths with modern farming techniques, and consulted and offered jobs for 378,000 others.
As many as 60,000 volunteers joined in supporting national entrance exam participants in big cities, heard the conference.
VFF chief requests more spending on HCM City sci-tech
President of the Vietnam Fatherland Front (VFF) Central Committee Nguyen Thien Nhan has suggested the southern metropolis Ho Chi Minh City raise its annual budget spending, from the current 2.06 percent to 4 percent, for sci-tech innovation.
During a working session with the municipal authorities on August 30, Nhan commented that the city is on the right track to sci-tech development, citing a number of effective models underway in the city.
In the coming time, the city should offer incentives designed for individual sectors, set up units majoring in applied sciences while utilising inventions by the Institute for Computational Science and Technology, he said.
Director of the municipal Department of Science and Technology Nguyen Viet Dung spoke of the city’s advocacy for developing industrial and agricultural products having high added value and eco-friendly functions.
Aside from its budget, funding for sci-technology development also came from science-technology foundations run by businesses.
Among 93 local firms announcing the establishment of sci-tech innovation foundations, 41 have set aside US$21.8 million for the work and spent roughly US$7.6 million renovating technologies, he informed.
Deputy Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee Tat Thanh Cang vowed to provide all possible support to turn sci-tech into a driver of the City’s local socio-economic development
Grammy-winning producer debuts scholarship fund in Vietnam
Three-time Grammy Award-winning producer RedOne is currently in Vietnam for a music project with a Vietnamese-Australian singer/songwriter after attending a ceremony to launch a scholarship fund, to go partly to local autistic children, this week.
The Moroccan-Swedish music producer partook in the ceremony to debut Trinh Cong Son Music Scholarship Fund held on August 28 evening in Ho Chi Minh City.
Part of the fund earnings will go to autistic children.
The fund offers grants to outstanding candidates for programs run by the SOUL Music and Performing Arts Academy (SMPAA), initiated and managed by Vietnamese-Australian singer/composer Thanh Bui.
Ten candidates are named annually by a council made up of Thanh Bui, principal of SMPAA; Tyler Smith, vice president of the Trinity College London in Asia; Trinh Vinh Trinh, Son’s younger sister; violin virtuoso Bui Cong Duy; and some seasoned Vietnamese journalists.
“I’m positive that music is a miracle for patients, including autism sufferers. Music soothes autistic children and even helps them reclaim their non-autistic part,” RedOne told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper.
He divulged that he has studied Son’s notable works and life.
“Though I don’t understand the lyrics of his songs very well (despite my friends’ rough translation), I’m really appreciative of his melodies and why he became such a legend dubbed ‘Vietnamese Bob Dylan.’ His music is simple yet profound and has never waned in appeal,” the 43-year-old producer observed.
Trinh Cong Son passed away at age 60 on April 1, 2001 to the shock and overwhelming grief of thousands of his fans, Vietnamese and foreign alike.
The BBC also covered his funeral, which was attended by some thousands of mourners.
Son has been added to the Encyclopedia Britannica, which highlights him as one of Vietnam’s most eminent composers, along with Pham Duy and Van Cao.
RedOne still has a few days left in his one-week trip to Vietnam, which will be spent discussing partnerships with Thanh Bui and exploring the Cu Chi Tunnels, a historical tourist attraction located in the outlying district of Cu Chi in Ho Chi Minh City.
According to Wikipedia, RedOne, whose real name is Nadir Khayat, is a producer, songwriter, and music executive.
As a producer and songwriter, he has worked with many high-profile recording artists, including Lady Gaga, Nicki Minaj, Jennifer Lopez, Pitbull, Enrique Iglesias and Mariah Carey.
His discography boasts many Billboard and international hits, which he produced and co-wrote.
RedOne has been nominated for six Grammy awards and nabbed three so far.
PM adjusts construction project for Dau Giay - Phan Thiet Highway
The Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has given approval to a plan to split the Dau Giay - Phan Thiet Highway project in the south into two road sections.
The Dau Giay - Phan Thiet Highway will be 98.7km in length with four lanes built under international standards.
Under the plan, the highway would connect the southern province of Dong Nai to the sea tourism city of Phan Thiet in the southern province of Binh Thuan.
The first section will cover a length of 36km, extending from Dau Giay in Thống Nhất District to Xuan Loc District in Dong Nai Province. Investment comes from Government loans from the World Bank's International Development Association (IDA).
The second section will cover a length of 62.7km from Xuan Loc District to Phan Thiet City.
The transport ministry, in coordination with the Ministry of Planning and Investment and relevant agencies, will be responsible for reaching agreement with the World Bank on plans for the investment mode and arrangement for loans from IDA for the first section of the project in 2016.
To begin construction of the first section on time, the Prime Minister has also asked the Ministry of Planning and Investment to work with the transport ministry and agencies on formalities associated with IDA loans and to arrange counter-capital from the State budget.
This is the first pilot transport infrastructure project in Viet Nam under the Private - Public - Partnership (PPP) investment mode, with capital from the private sector and State. The State's financial participation ensures that the project would be attractive to private investors.
After construction is completed, the Transport Ministry will choose an investor to transfer rights for management and operation of the highway.
The highway is expected to accommodate high-density transportation. It will run through many industrial parks and seaports, as well as to proposed international airports.
The Dau Giay-Phan Thiet Highway will be transferred after 30 years.
Diminishing resources test food security
With the increasing impacts of climate change and dwindling natural resources, providing food security for a burgeoning population is a challenge for global agriculture, especially in the Asia-Pacific, an international non-profit has warned.
Speaking at a workshop held recently in HCM City, Randy A. Hautea, global co-ordinator of the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Application (ISAAA), said food production must increase by 70 per cent by 2050 to meet rising demand.
Asia accounts for nearly 60 per cent of the world's population but only a third of arable land and water resources. Already a large number of people in the world are undernourished and many others currently live in countries chronically short of water, and that's expected to increase in the coming decades, he said.
In addition, climate change is causing extreme weather conditions – flooding in some regions, drought in others.
Along with industrialisation and urbanisation, the arable land area is shrinking in many countries, he said.
The challenge for farmers is to learn how to sustainably produce more food with a finite base of arable land, saline intrusion and dwindling natural resources, he said.
Technology plays an important role in resolving the challenges, he said.
Plant science technologies have helped farmers increase production to keep up with the world's growing demand for food in the past 50 years and future production requires greater adoption of innovative technologies, he said.
Anni Mitin, executive director of the Southeast Asia Council for Food Security and Fair Trade, said small farmers cultivate 80 per cent of available arable land in Asia and produce the majority of food to feed the world, but are "still trapped in poverty, struggling to feed their own family".
Besides vulnerability to climate change, small landholders have difficulty accessing capital, the market and technology, she said.
Having limited market information, they struggle to get a fair price for their produce, obtaining only a small percentage of retail prices, she said, adding that those in remote areas often have little choice but to sell to traders and cannot dictate the terms of trade.
Rick Van Der Camp, senior operations officer at the IFC (World Bank Group), said the high risks involved in agriculture are among the factors preventing farmers from getting bank loans.
Mitin said to overcome vulnerabilities, farmers need accurate and timely information, training, knowledge, and technologies besides access to financial resources.
Health insurance to include holidays
If patients using health insurance cards have health examinations and treatment on weekends and holidays, their hospital fees will be paid through their health insurance.
This was one of the new regulations in Circular 16 enacted by the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Finance. The circular will be put into effect at the beginning of September.
Luu Thanh Huyen, deputy director of the HCM City Social Insurance, said a number of people in HCM City had requested having health examinations and treatment outside regular working hours.
They were often patients suffering from chronic diseases that needed long-term treatment, she said.
Le Hoang Quy, deputy director of the Binh Thanh District Hospital, said that the hospital received about 2,400 patients coming for health checks per day, with 90 per cent of them having health insurance cards.
To meet the needs of the patients, the hospital will lengthen the time for examinations, which were from 6am to 6pm Monday to Sunday, including holidays.
The circular was necessary, he added.
Deputy director Huyen added that the new circular was easier to enforce than past circulars.
Past circulars regulated that only very crowded hospitals and medical stations were allowed to offer health examination outside working hours. And those hospitals were required to set up detailed plans about the work and submit them to the Social Insurance.
The new circular states that every hospital can perform examinations and treatments as long as they employ the correct number of medical workers, assure proper professional conditions and adequate equipment, and must post their hospital fees in public, said Huyen.
The new circular was also welcomed by workers.
Nguyen Thai Hien works in the Linh Trung processing zone in Thu Duc District in HCM City said it was difficult for her to ask for leave for even one day to have her health checked because the company did not have enough workers to replace those seeking care.
It would be better for workers to have health examinations on weekends, she said.
However, some hospitals worried that they could not conduct health examinations outside working hours.
Le Xuan Dung, deputy director of the HCM City Tumour Hospital, said the hospital did not have enough funds to carry out the circular because it would need more funds to pay for doctors and nurses who conduct health examinations outside working hours.
Further, Tran Van Khanh, director of Hospital District 2 in HCM City, suggested that patients pay additional hospital fees if they went to hospitals on weekends, and the money would be used to pay for doctors.
Can Gio conserves mangrove forests
The conservation and regeneration of mangrove forests in HCM City's coastal Can Gio District have been successfully accomplished since 2000, when the local administration took over the task, a district official told Viet Nam News on Saturday.
More than 10 hectares of mangrove trees have been planted in the period, and the forest, recognised as a UNESCO biosphere reserve in 2000, measures more than 35,200 hectares now.
Around 40,000 hectares had been destroyed during the war, UNESCO says on its website, calling it a "luxury mangrove" for Viet Nam.
"There are 52 true and associate managrove species, 200 animal species, hundred fish, crab, shrimp species and benthos. Over 40 bird species including shore birds and migratory species have been found in this biosphere reserve."
The forest accounts for more than a half of the district's total area and is considered a "green lung" of the city.
"It has reduced damage caused by storms, typhoons and sea level rise to the city," Le Dinh Long, deputy head of the district's centre for environmental education, communication and forest eco-tourism, said.
It has also helped keep the city's climate moderate, he said.
The district co-operates with local and foreign organisations and enterprises for the reforestation, he added.
For instance, last Saturday the city-based Youth Social Work Centre and health products and cosmetics company ATZ Healthy Life planted 300 mangrove trees in the area.
Tran Ba Cuong, the head of the former, said increasing forest cover is one way to mitigate the influence of climate change, which is affecting the district.
Bui Trong Nghia, deputy secretary of the district's Youth Union, added conservation and reforestation is one of 19 development criteria for the district under a national programme to improve rural areas and, thus, living standards there.
Many programmes to raise awareness of forest protection among local residents, especially young people, have been carried out, he added.
Exhibition highlights historical event in Hanoi
An exhibition of historical documents and objects related to the Politburo conference from December 18, 1974 – January 1, 1975 that sought to liberate the South and reunify the country in the war against the US, opened in the Thang Long Royal Citadel in Hanoi on August 30.
As part of activities to mark the 70 th anniversary of the August Revolution and National Day, the event was hosted by the Centre for the Preservation of Thang Long-Hanoi Cultural Heritage .
On the occasion, the centre also arranged a photo exhibition spotlighting the value of world cultural and natural heritage in Vietnam and intangible cultural values of Hanoi such as C​, Giong Festival and tombstones in Van Mieu (the Temple of Literature) and Quoc Tu Giam (Vietnam’s first national university).
The exhibition is within the framework of the Heritage Photo Tour 2015, which began in June this year with the aim to promote world heritage sites in Vietnam.
The two events offer visitors a good chance to learn about the country’s cultural values as well as spiritual and historical stories.
Vietnam boasts eights world cultural and natural heritage recognised by UNESCO: Hue Imperial City, Hoi An Ancient Town, My Son Holy Land, Thang Long Imperial Citadel, Ho Dynasty Citadel, Ha Long Bay, Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park and Trang An Tourism Complex in northern Ninh Binh province.
Meanwhile, the country’s UNESCO-honoured intangible cultural heritage include Nha Nhac (royal court music) , Gong cultural space, Quan Ho (love duets) folk singing, Ca Tru, Giong festivals in Soc and Phu Dong temples, Xoan singing, Hung Kings worship belief , Don ca tai tu and the Nghe Tinh Vi-Giam folk singing.
Dak Lak: Nearly 14,000 households lack electricity
As many as 189 villages and hamlets with 13,924 households in the central highlands province of Dak Lak still lack access to electricity from the national grid.
According to the provincial People’s Committee, the figure accounts for 5 percent of the total villages and households in the locality.
As planned, the province will pour 1.5 trillion VND (about 68 million USD) into 685 kilometres of medium-voltage lines, 1,684 kilometres of low-voltage lines and 515 transformer stations with the aim to ensure power for all villages, hamlets and households by 2020.
This year, Dak Lak has focused on bringing electricity from the national grid to 37 villages in Krong Nang, Lak, Buon Don and Ea Sup districts.
Milk producers focus on yogurt products

Yogurt, whey and cheese are bringing two-digit growth rates to milk producers. 

Vietnam, Vinamilk, dairy producers, dairy products

Holding 84 percent of the yogurt market share, Vinamilk, the nation’s leading dairy producer, has been marketing new products, from yogurt with aloe to yogurt for children.

IDP, after launching Love In Farm, its first yogurt product, has introduced a series of products with additional nutrients and fruits. Yogurt makes up nearly 50 percent of the company’s revenue.

FrieslandCampina, TH true Milk, Nutifood and Hanoi Milk have also marketed new products.

Mark Boot, CEO of FrieslandCampina Vietnam, said he feels satisfied about the sales of “Dutch Lady” brand pasteurized yogurt which have been growing well over a short time.

TH Milk has confirmed a two-digit annual growth rate of TH True yogurt products in the last few years.

Nutifood, which just began making yogurt after signing a contract with Hoang Anh Gia Lai Group on the group’s milk material supply, reported that ‘demand is higher than production capacity’ and that it plans to expand production in the near future, when the material supply increases.


Though cheese products remain unpopular to many Vietnamese, dairy producers have begun scaling up production because they can see great potential in the country in the future.

According to the US Dairy Export Council (USDEC), cheese consumption in Vietnam has been seen two-digit growth rates in recent years, which has prompted US companies to increase cheese exports to the country.

Bel Vietnam in July 2015 decided to invest $17 million to build a new factory in Binh Duong province after it realized that sales have been going very well. In the third quarter of 2012, Bel Vietnam’s sales increased by 70 percent over the second quarter, while sales in 2013 were 35 percent higher than 2012.

When asked about market demand, a representative of Hoang Lan Trading Company which distributes President brand cheese said the company sells about 600 tons a year and sales have been increasing sharply in the last two years.

Meanwhile, in an effort to develop whey products, IDP said it had invested VND53 billion in a herd of milk cows in the Ba Vi area, which will provide stable input material to whey production.

Vu Khanh Toan, marketing director of Delys, said the company plans to expand the distribution of whey products after it gains success with Zott’s Monte whey in Vietnam.


Bitexco, Vingroup licensed to build residential projects
The Ha Noi People's Committee has granted investment licences to the multi-industry group Bitexco and real estate developer Vingroup to develop two urban projects.
Bitexco will build Manor Central Park in the first phase, which will cover nearly 100ha spread across Dai Kim Ward, Hoang Mai District, and Thanh Liet Commune in Thanh Tri District.
The park is a multi-functional urban area comprising villas, apartments for sale, shopping malls and a park, among others. With a total investment of $1.9 billion, the project is expected to begin construction in the fourth quarter of this year and be completed within five years.
Meanwhile, the VND4.85-trillion ($215.5 million) Green City will cover an area of 17.6ha in Cau Dien Ward in Nam Tu Liem District.
With Hong Ngan Real Estate JSC under Vingroup as the investor, Green City will be a multi-functional residential project, comprising villas, gardens, shops and high-rise apartment blocks, as well as schools at all levels and a medical clinic.
The construction of the project is also expected to begin in the fourth quarter and be completed within the next four years. It is estimated to accommodate about 8,760 people upon completion.
New enterprises increase in August
According to the General Statistics Office there were 9,301 newly-established enterprises in August with total capital of VND55.2 trillion ($2.43 billion), an 84 per cent increase in numbers and double the capital year-on-year.
In the first eight months of this year 61,305 enterprises completed registration procedures with capital of around VND376.4 trillion ($16.56 billion), a 30 per cent increase compared to the first eight months of last year. Together with additional capital from existing enterprises, total capital reached VND857.9 trillion ($37.75 billion).
There were also 11,333 enterprises that had temporarily suspended operations restarting their business, a 4 per cent increase against the first eight months of 2014.
With an average of 250 companies being established every day, a huge number of jobs are being created. Figures show that employment created by the establishment of new enterprises in August totaled 873,300, a 23 per cent increase compared to August 2014.
The number of enterprises dissolved in the first eight months fell year-on-year, at 6,290. Most were of small scale, with capital of VND10 billion ($440,000) or less. The number of enterprises temporarily suspending operations stood at 39,056, a 2 per cent increase against the first eight months of 2014.
UK second-highest investor in August
A report on investment in Vietnam during August from the Foreign Investment Agency (FIA) under the Ministry of Planning and Investment put the UK in second place thanks to a large real estate project worth $1.2 billion in Ho Chi Minh City.
There were 55 countries and territories with investment projects in Vietnam in August. South Korea led with total newly-registered and additional capital of $5.26 billion, accounting for 39.5 per cent of the total.
The UK ranked second with investment capital of $1.25 billion, accounting for 9.39 per cent, while the British Virgin Islands was third with $973.6 million, or 7.3 per cent of the total.
The project pushing the UK into second place is Empire City, located in the Thu Thiem urban area and invested by a joint venture between local property firms Tien Phuoc JSC and Tran Thai Co. with the UK-based Denver Power Ltd.  
Investment cooperation between Vietnam and the UK has been on the increase. In the Vietnam - UK Joint Statement released during the visit by UK Prime Minister David Cameron to Vietnam in July, it was said that Vietnam’s success is creating a stable environment for foreign investors. Mr. Cameron hoped that Vietnam and the UK would strengthen cooperation and reached further agreements to attract investment.
Railroad planning adopted
The Prime Minister (PM) has approved the Plan for the General Development of Railroad Transport in Vietnam to 2020 and Vision to 2030.
The general development of railroad transport will be in line with overall planning for the development of transport in Vietnam, building railroads to connect with large ports, industrial zones, and neighboring countries to boost the integration process, and rapidly developing urban railways as core public transport in major cities, with a focus on Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
The plan also said that Vietnam’s railway sector is to be modernized, with high quality, suitable cost, speed, and safety, be energy efficient and eco-friendly, and serve logistics services and other supporting functions.
Railroads are to transport 3-4 per cent of all passengers and 4-5 per cent of all cargo, focus on long-haul and heavy logistics, and widen international transport to neighboring and regional countries.
Agriculture exports at $19.31 billion this year
The latest report from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) shows that export turnover in the agriculture sector in August was at an estimated $2.38 billion, bringing export value in the first eight months of the year to $19.31 billion, a decline of 4.8 per cent compared with the same period last year.
The export value of main agricultural products, in particular rice and seafood, was estimated at $9.18 billion, down 7.7 per cent.
Rice exports in August stood at 505,000 tons, worth about $228 million, bringing rice exports in the eight months to 4.09 million tons in volume and $1.76 billion in value, down 8.6 per cent and 13.1 per cent, respectively, year-on-year.
The value of seafood exports in August, meanwhile, was estimated at $554 million, for an eight month total of $4.13 billion, down 17.5 per cent over the same period of 2014. The US remained the leading importer of Vietnam’s seafood, accounting for 19.21 per cent of total turnover.
In the first seven months seafood exports to the US reached $687.16 million, down 29.39 per cent over the same period of 2014. Exports to Japan and South Korea also fell significantly, by 10.56 per cent and 10.45 per cent, respectively. Seafood exports grew notably, however, in markets such as Thailand (up 19.03 per cent) and the UK (up 30.02 per cent).
The MARD report also showed that wood exports in August reached $556 million in value, for an eight month total of $4.3 billion, up 8.5 per cent compared with the same period last year.
The US, Japan, and China were three largest wood importers of Vietnam in first seven months, accounting for 66.84 per cent of the total.
Macro-economy remains stable
Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and ministries held a meeting on August 26 to assess the effect of economic fluctuations around the world on Vietnam and to discuss policies and solutions to maintain macro-economic stability to achieve or exceed targets set for socio-economic development.
The meeting focused on issues such as falling global oil prices, abnormal movements in stock markets around the world, adjustments to international capital flows after China devalued the Renminbi, and adjustments to exchange rate policies in many countries. The global economy is showing some worrying signs, with growth in emerging economies declining, including in China, the second-largest economy in the world.
Though acknowledging the issues, the PM and ministries remain optimistic about the development of Vietnam’s economy.
Regarding falling crude oil prices, which were forecast at the beginning of the year, ministries and agencies reported there is a timely response in place. The Ministry of Finance (MoF) confirmed that, with current oil prices, budget revenues will still exceed plans by 8 per cent.
Regarding Vietnam’s stock market, the State Securities Commission under the MoF pointed out that the cause is mainly psychological factors. The market will soon recover and continue to attract new money flows.
In exchange rates and interest rates, State Bank of Vietnam Governor Nguyen Van Binh said the exchange rate, which was pushed up in recent days, was also the result of psychological factors. “We adjusted the exchange rate relatively highly and there is now no reason to continue devaluing the Vietnam dong,” he said. “The remaining problem is market confidence.”
The PM said that, overall, Vietnam has good control over macroeconomic factors, growth indicators, inflation, budget revenues, overspending, and import-export activities. “There are no signs of a major impact on macroeconomic factors or any pressure for us to adjust targets,” he added.
The PM appreciated that solutions had been taken promptly. However, unpredictable movements in the global economy require Vietnam continue to closely monitor and fully analyze the situation in order to adopt solutions and minimize any negative impacts, he said.
Jan-Aug FDI in Dong Nai reaches $1.5 billion
Southern Dong Nai province issued investment licenses to seven new foreign direct investment (FDI) projects in August, with total registered capital of $32 million. Two existing projects increased their capital by an additional $4.5 million in total during the month. In the first eight months 63 new projects were registered and 331 existing projects added capital, totaling nearly $1.5 billion and reaching 171 per cent of the plan for 2015.
The province has 1,389 investment projects in 32 industrial zones, of which 1,014 projects are foreign invested with more than $19 billion in capital. In the first eight months the industrial zones leased over 122 ha of land, more than 22 per cent higher than planned. Since the beginning of the year many enterprises have invested in Dong Nai or expanded their investment due to its good transport infrastructure and investment attraction policies.
Seven of 29 industrial projects leased land to build factories and develop production at the Bien Hoa Industrial Zone 2, Go Dau Industrial Zone, the first phase of the Nhon Trach 3 Industrial Zone, Nhon Trach Textile Industrial Zone, Bien Hoa 1 Industrial Zone, and Tam Phuoc Industrial Zone.
According to the Dong Nai Provincial Department of Planning and Investment, in the first seven months the province also revoked the licenses of four projects belonging to domestic enterprises, with capital of about VND2.736 trillion ($128.4 million). The province has therefore revoked the licenses of about 33 domestic projects to date, with registered capital of VND27 trillion ($1.26 billion). Reasons mostly relate to extended delays or a lack of capital and were all outside of industrial zones.
The province now has about 598 domestic projects with total capital of more than VND139 trillion ($6.5 billion). Since the beginning of the year domestic investment in the province has been much less than foreign investment.
Mobile World moves into FMCG and fresh food
Vietnamese mobile phone retailer Mobile World (MWG) has recently announced a Board resolution approving the trial of new retail chains.
The company will expand its trading activities into fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) and fresh food, with 30-50 trial stores on areas ranging from 150 to 400 sq m each.
The first stores will open in the fourth quarter of this year and MWG will wrap up the trial sometime in 2016. The budget to introduce the new chains will range from VND20 billion to VND50 billion (890,000 to $2.2 million).
Mobile World’s revenue in the first six months stood at VND10.86 trillion ($497.82 million), an increase of 157 per cent against the same period last year and achieving 46 per cent of the annual plan.
In the first half its electronics supermarket chain opened 87 stores and eleven, bringing the total number of MWG outlets to 461.
South Korean printer eyes Binh Dinh
At a recent meeting with the Binh Dinh Provincial People’s Committee, the CEO of the Gift by Design Company from South Korea, Mr. Hack Kil Kim, and General Director, Mr. Hak Sub Kim, expressed a desire to invest in a printing factory in the province.
Gift by Design has operated in the printing field in South Korea for 35 years and has had a factory in China for over 20 years, which it is planning to relocate to Vietnam to improve efficiency.
According to the Investment Promotion Center of Binh Dinh Province, the company leaders were looking for land in an industrial park to lease or sub-lease a factory in an industrial park with a total area of 15,000 sq m, of which the construction area would be around 8,000 sq m, in order to build a factory producing paper bags. It will also employ around 700 workers.
In using offset printing technology, Company Chairman Mr. Kim said the factory would not produce wastewater so there are no concerns about any environmental impact. The materials used for the factory will be imported and its finished products will be exported to the US.
Deputy Chief of the province’s Economic Zone Administration, Mr. Nguyen Ngoc Toan, said that Nhon Hoa Industrial Park was entirely able to meet the investor’s requirements. Specific information on the industrial park, its rental rates, infrastructure costs, and labor costs will be provided in detail to the investor. The company appreciated the provincial leadership’s support and committed to study the information given and make an investment decision shortly.
VNPT divestments on target
VNPT has withdrawn VND701 billion ($31.187 million) in investments outside of its core business of telecommunications, according to CEO Pham Duc Long, which meets the group’s target.
It is also divesting capital in 63 enterprises in five sectors: real estate, insurance, the stock market, finance, and banking, and is focusing on selling subsidiaries facing difficulties as quickly as possible.
Though VNPT collected VND701 billion ($31.187 million) from its divestments, it must still divest VND1.512 trillion ($67.3 million) more. At the current pace it expects to complete the divestments on schedule.
VNPT Chairman Tran Manh Hung said that the divestments will help the group to develop. It is now undergoing restructuring, he said, and if it has many subsidiaries operating in the same sector they will be rearranged. But if subsidiaries are recording good business performance they will receive continued support.
He also said the group would restructure because it is difficult to manage many joint stock companies.
The recent auction of its subsidiary Cadico was cancelled because of a lack of participants.
Instant coffee exports boom
Vietnam has risen to fifth place among exporters of instant coffee, following Brazil, Indonesia, Malaysia, and India, according to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Vietnam’s instant coffee market share has increased dramatically over the last five years, from 1.8 per cent to 9.1 per cent. In the first six months of this year the country exported about 572,000 60-kg bags of instant coffee, or more than 34,000 tons - the highest amount in the last five years. Vietnam exports most of its instant coffee to the EU, with 94,698 bags, followed by Japan with 72,743 bags, the US 68,892 bags, and Russia 58,472 bags.
USDA also predicted that from the 2014/2015 crop Vietnam would be able to export 1.3 million bags of instant coffee, or 78,000 tons, a 44 per cent increase compared to the previous crop. It put the strong growth of Vietnam’s instant coffee exports down to it producing the largest amount of Robusta coffee, which is often used to make instant coffee.
A great deal of foreign investment in the sector has also had a significant effect on growth. Nestlé, for example, has built coffee processing plants costing $80 million in southern Dong Nai province.
VRG opens rubber processing plant in Cambodia
On August 26 the Tan Bien-Kampong Thom Rubber Development Company, a subsidiary of the Vietnam Rubber Group (VRG) held an opening ceremony for its rubber latex processing plant in Cambodia.
Construction of the plant, in Kampong Thom province, began in 2014 with the RSS rubber production line and a capacity of 3,000 tons in the first phase. The company expects to expand the production line in 2016 to improve production and business efficiency.
According to VRG CEO, Mr. Tran Ngoc Thuan, since 2006 the Group has implemented an investment program to develop rubber plantations in Cambodia, with total investment of $1 billion, and has already disbursed $666 million.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Cao Duc Phat thanked the government and people of Cambodia for creating favorable conditions for Vietnamese enterprises to implement investment projects in the country.
“Since 2009 Vietnam has had 171 investment projects in Cambodia with total capital of $3.2 billion, ranking it fifth out of 50 countries and territories investing in the country, of which agriculture accounts for 51 per cent,” he said. “As at the end of 2014 VRG had planted more than 90,000 ha of rubber trees.”
Deputy Cambodian Prime Minister Yim Chhay Ly expressed the government’s support for the rubber plantation project in Kampong Thom and other provinces as they contribute to socio-economic development and create jobs for local people.
VRG currently has 14 subsidiaries implementing 18 rubber projects in Cambodia on nearly 130,000 ha of land granted by the Government of Cambodia. The Group has put a total area of 700 ha into operation and is expected to expand its operations to 4,535 ha. It now has two rubber processing plants in Cambodia, with the Kampong Thom plant joining the Oyadav Rubber Processing Plant, which was officially put into operation in October 2014.
Along with investment in planting rubber trees the Group has also spent $30 million on developing social infrastructure in project areas, in fields such as transportation, electricity, water, education, health, and religion.
State capital in Seaprodex to be divested
Deputy Prime Minister Vu Van Ninh has decided that all State capital in seafood producer Seaprodex is to be divested. He asked the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) to direct the company in the divestment and then hand over the capital to the government. A decree will guide the pricing of the company’s assets when turning it into the joint stock company.
He also asked MARD to sell all the State capital in Seaprodex’s subsidiaries this year, with MARD to report to the government on the process.
The plan on equitizing Seaprodex was approved by the Prime Minister in October 2014. The value of the company has been estimated at VND1.48 trillion ($65.8 million), with State capital of VND1.368 trillion ($60.82 million).
Seaprodex’s main business lines are seafood, aquaculture, seafood processing for export and domestic consumption, production of animal feed, poultry, fisheries, veterinary drugs, food imports and trade, equipment, machinery parts, raw materials, fuels, passengers and cargo transport, warehousing and wharfs, shipbuilding and repair, design of inland waterway vessels, hotels and tourism, financial investment, labor supply, real estate trading, and fishing logistics services that assist national defense and security at sea and on islands. Its headquarters are in Ho Chi Minh City.
Vinasoy's Bac Ninh plant underway
The Vietnam Soya Products Company (Vinasoy) officially opened the second phase of the VinaSoy soymilk production facility in northern Bac Ninh province on August 25.
With an area of 61,000 sq m at the Tien Son Industrial Park (IP), the facility will have a designed capacity of 180 million liters per year once completed, with total investment for both phases of more than VND1.28 trillion ($56.8 million).
“In our 18 years of development we have always believed in the good nutritional value of soybeans,” Mr. Ngo Van Tu, Managing Director of Vinasoy, said. “We constantly strive every day to improve our production to best meet the nutritional needs of the community. We will try incessantly, bringing modern science and technologies into our production to maximize the value of nutrients to consumers.”
With this facility in Bac Ninh and another in central Quang Ngai province, Vinasoy is determined to increase production of its soymilk to over 1.5 billion products per year, ranking it in the Top 5 largest soymilk producers in the world.
Vinasoy kicked off construction of the Bac Ninh facility in August 2012, with a designed capacity in the first phase of about 90 million liters per year and investment of over VND607 billion ($29.7 million).
The company holds more than 82 per cent of the soymilk market share in Vietnam and will improve its position in the future. It will kick off construction of its third plant, at the VSIP 2A Industrial Park in southern Binh Duong province, in September.
Prudential working with highest number of hospitals
Prudential Vietnam has signed an agreement with Phu Tho Hospital in northern Phu Tho province over joining its guaranteed hospital fees program, in which policyholders receive a quick reply over whether their medical expenses are covered when visiting associated hospitals.
The program has taken the lead in signing up hospitals, with 83 now involved, including 21 public hospitals. It also has the fastest time for the settlement of procedures. As soon as Prudential receives information from a hospital the patient will receive a guarantee within 60 minutes that their medical costs are covered.
Mr. Wilf Blackburn, General Director of Prudential, said he appreciated the partnership with Phu Tho Hospital and the other 83 hospitals around the country in the program. “This is proof of the rapid availability of superior service, creating peace of mind and trust among Prudential customers,” he said.
As one of the leading companies in life insurance, Prudential Vietnam has more than 230 customer service centers and branch offices in the country. It is a pioneer in providing services that meet the increasing needs of Vietnamese customers.
Established in 1965, Phu Tho Hospital is now the largest in the province, with 1,480 beds.
Green tea and herb drinks challenging bottled water
After a long time dominating Vietnam’s bottled beverage market, purified bottled water is now facing strong competition from other bottled products, especially bottled green tea and herbal drinks.
“There have been months when new products in the herb product line have recorded revenue 20-30 per cent higher than that of purified bottled water,” said the manager of one local convenient store. There are six types of bottled herbal drinks and four green tea products sold at his store.
Mr. Nguyen Dang Hien, General Director of beverage supplier Bidrico, confirmed that the bottled beverage market is now seeing intense competition from the appearance of new product lines. “We have about 48 bottled water product lines, 36 of which are uncarbonated and extracted from fruit or herbs,” he said. “Because of the intense competition, in order to increase market share we must push exports while focusing on areas around schools in different types of partnerships.”
Recent research by Euromonitor showed that Vietnam’s bottled beverage market has a value of around $2 billion a year. According to a forecast from Business Monitor International (BMI), consumption of non-alcoholic beverages will rise to 2.7 billion liters by 2017 with average growth at around 7 per cent annually. Sales of soft drinks will grow at an average of 14.2 per cent annually, reaching VND136 trillion ($6.12 billion) by 2017.
Vinalines offloads 29.68% of Hai Phong Port
Vietnam National Shipping Lines (Vinalines) expects to earn over VND1.55 trillion ($66 million) for its restructuring from selling nearly 30 per cent of Hai Phong Port to strategic investors.
Vingroup, the Vietnam Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Industry and Trade (Vietinbank), and Oman’s State General Reserve Fund (SGRF) will secure 970 million shares at VND16,000 ($0.71) per share.
The transfer of 29.68 per cent of shares to strategic investors will reduce the proportion of State ownership in the port to just over 60 per cent.
State capital owned by Vinalines in Hai Phong Port currently accounts for nearly 95 per cent, or approximately VND3.27 trillion ($143.8 million).
In the first six months of this year the Port handled 11 million tons of cargo, up 17.5 per cent against the same period of 2014. Revenue reached nearly VND837 billion ($36.8 million).
Total output of goods through Hai Phong Port this year is expected to reach 23.5 million tons, up 19 per cent compared with last year. Revenue is to reach over VND1.7 trillion ($7 million), with a profit of around VND380 billion ($16.7 million).
SSI wide open to foreign ownership
Saigon Securities Inc. (SSI) has announced it will completely remove its foreign ownership limit.
The company sent a proposal on the matter to the State Securities Commission (SSC) and received approval on August 27, making it the first brokerage company to gain approval for such a move since Decree No. 60 was announced, which allows companies to determine their own foreign ownership limits.
The removal of the limit will take effect from September 1, the same day as Circular No. 60 takes effect.
SSI previously held an extraordinary shareholders meeting, where it sought and gained the go-ahead to seek permission to remove the limit.
Foreign investors already hold 43.83 per cent of SSI’s charter capital.
Little impact on real estate from exchange rate movements
Average housing prices in Vietnam’s real estate market will not be overly affected by the current exchange rate volatility, according to a recent CBRE report.
CBRE’s experts wrote that domestic developers account for the bulk of supply in Vietnam’s residential real estate market while foreign developers account for less than 10 per cent.
Housing prices over recent years have been significantly affected by supply and demand factors rather than exchange rates.
“Projects that have completed their construction will be less affected by exchange rate volatility as the cost of imported raw materials for these projects were paid for in the past,” the report stated. “Future projects, however, with imported construction materials, will be under pressure from price increases.”
Foreign investors and developers usually have profit targets calculated in USD, so they may bear a heavy burden from sales made in VND even though the risk of exchange rate fluctuations would have been carefully considered when they developed financial plans for their projects.
According to the report, local investors’ demand for investing in real estate may increase in the time to come as property becomes seen as a popular investment channel compared to gold, securities, and bank savings, in the context of volatile gold prices, stock market fluctuations, and low interest rates.
Foreign investors may also be less affected by the devaluation of the VND in terms of their investment decisions. “Before the recent VND devaluation, Vietnam’s property market was seen as an attractive investment channel due to its higher profitability and lower purchasing price compared with neighboring countries,” the report added.
LDG selling Sakura Valley land plots
The LDG Group will introduce and open for sale land at the Sakura Valley urban area in southern Dong Nai province on August 30.
On an area of over 37 ha in Giang Dien commune in Trang Bom district, the project comprises 752 land plots with an average area of 100-150 sq m for developing townhouses and villas. The price for each land plot is expected to start from VND268 million ($11,925).
The Group targets to build Sakura Valley into a residential settlement for professionals, as it is located next to the 500 ha Giang Dien High-tech Industrial Park, which is expected to gather together hundreds of thousands of professionals, experts, and staff.
This is the only project in Dong Nai to date that has been allowed to be built as an isolated urban area protected by security fencing. Its landscape is designed based on natural lakes and hills with a Japanese style, highlighted by cherry blossoms.
The LDG Group specializes in real estate and tourism and hospitality, with a range of projects including Grand World on Phu Quoc Island and Suoi Mo Park in Dong Nai’s Tan Phu district.
Over 9,300 enterprises start operation in August
Up to 9,301 enterprises were founded in August with a total registered capital of VND 55.2 trillion, according to the General Statistics Office.
The number of newly-formed enterprises picked up 41% in comparison with July and 84.1% against the same period last year.
In the eighth month, 1,359 enterprises resumed operation, representing a month-on-month decline of 7.4%.
Meanwhile, 7,595 enterprises suspended operation, up 27.9% and 834 ones were dissolved.  
Up to 15,243 enterprises added VND 481.5 trillion of capital.
Exports see year-on-year increase of 9% in eight months
The trade deficit in August was estimated at US$100 million, raising the total figure to US$3.6 billion over the recent eight months, equal to 3.4% of the total export turnover, according to the General Statistics Office.
Of the total figure, the State sector recorded a trade deficit of US$13 billion compared to US$9 billion last year while the foreign-invested sector posted a trade surplus of US$9.4 billion in eight months.
Export turnover was estimated at US$106.3 billion in the past eight months, a year-on-year increase of 9%. Of the figure, the State and foreign-invested sectors contributed US$31.7 billion and US$74.6 billion, down 2.5% and up 14.7%, respectively.
The exports of phones and accessories took lead with nearly US$20 billion, up 31.1%, followed by garment US$15 billion, up 10.9%, electronics, computers and spare parts US$9.9 billion, up 51.8% and footwear US$8.1 billion, up 20.9%.
The U.S. was the largest importer of Viet Nam with US$22.1 billion, up 19.8%. It was followed by the EU US$20.2 billion, up 12.3%, ASEAN US$12.3 billion, down 3%, China US$10.4 billion, up 5.6%, Japan US$9.3 billion, down 4.9% and the Republic of Korea US$5.1 billion, up 16.5%.
Meanwhile, the nation’s total import turnover in eight months reached US$109.9 billion, a year-on-year increase of 16.4%. Of the figure, the State and foreign invested sectors made up US$44.7 billion and US$65.2 billion, up 7.7% and 23.2%, respectively.
Items with high growth in import value include cars (US$3.8 billion, up 80.2%), machines, equipments and tools (US$18.9 billion, up 33.4%), electronics, computers and spare parts (US$15.1 billion, up 35.3%), phones and accessories (US$7.1 billion, up 36.3%) and fabric (US$6.8 billion, up 11%).
China remained the largest exporter with US$32.7 billion, accounting for 29.8% and up 20.4%. The Republic of Korea and ASEAN occupied the second and third positions with US$18.8 billion and US$16 billion, up 34.8% and 5.3%, respectively.
Earlier, PM Nguyen Tan Dung approved the Project on the development of regional markets in the 2015-2020 period with an aim to raise export turnover to US$300 billion.
India 30th largest investor
In the first six months of this year India had 101 investment projects in Vietnam with total registered capital of nearly $400 million, ranking the country 30th out of 103 countries and territories investing in the country, according to the Foreign Investment Agency under the Ministry of Planning and Investment.
Indian investors invested in 13 of the 21 economic sectors in Vietnam. Projects mostly focused on the manufacturing and processing industry, with 42 and total capital of approximately $231.6 million, accounting for 58 per cent of total capital, followed by mining with three projects and total registered capital of $86 million, or 21.5 per cent. Wholesale, retail and repair ranked third, with 19 projects and more than $52 million in registered capital.
Indian projects were primarily in the form of 100 per cent foreign capital, with 79 projects and $289.5 million, or 72 per cent, being in this form.
Second most common was the business cooperation contract form, with four projects and total investment of nearly $86.3 million, or 22 per cent. The remainder were joint ventures, with 18 projects and $23.6 million, or 6 per cent.
Vietnam and India have signed trade agreements and agreements on double tax avoidance and the promotion and protection of investment. Direct investment from India to Vietnam has nonetheless remained unremarkable.
The Foreign Investment Agency recommended there be more promotions conducted in the future to attract Indian investors. This will particularly apply to fields in which India has strengths, such as information technology, high-technology mining, and environmental friendliness and efficiency.
Vietnam needs more enterprises to improve competitiveness
Vietnamese business competitiveness is a major problem but economists seem to believe merely increasing the number of operating firms by at least two million will go some way to solving the problem.
Speaking at the Autumn Economic Forum 2015 held in the central province of Thanh Hoa on August 27, Dau Anh Tuan, from the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) said that Vietnam has signed several major trade agreements, but has yet to fully take advantage of the opportunities presented.
Foreign countries now find it easier to export goods to Vietnam meaning local firms are facing fiercer competition.
“It seems that Vietnamese enterprises have yet to work out how to the most effectively integrate,” Tuan said.
Tuan added that enterprises must change their operations in order to enhance their competitiveness in a period of increased international integration.
Dang Duc Thanh, chairman of the Vietnamese Economists Club said that the ideology of economic development based on high levels of state investment was no longer realistic.
He pointed out several weaknesses in the country’s economy, including state budget overspending, large public debt, low power purchasing power, a high rate of bad debts, and high trade deficit.
Despite considerable improvements in the recent period, competitiveness of Vietnamese firms still remained modest.
The country now has over 800,0000 enterprises but apparently only half of them are still in operation.
Thanh claimed there was evidence that "enterprises must account for at least 2% of a country’s population. This means that Vietnam needs to have over two million of efficiently operating enterprises.”
In order to facilitate business growth, it would be necessary to speed up the restructuring of state-owned enterprises which currently account for nearly 40% of the national economy.
He added that it was also necessary to attract more foreign investment into the country.
Eight-month budget revenue meets 63.5% of year's estimate
The State budget revenue in the first eight months of 2015 was posted at VND578.2 trillion (US$25.4 billion), equivalent to 63.5% of estimated figures for the whole year, according to the General Statistics Office.
Of the total figure, eight-month domestic collection was recorded at VND429.4 trillion (US$19.1 billion), equal to 67.2% of the year's estimate.
Of the figure, VND136.3 trillion (US$6 billion) came from state owned enterprises and VND85.8 trillion (US$3.8 billion) from foreign invested enterprises.
Revenue from crude oil was estimated at VND44.8 trillion (US$1.9 billion), while revenue from import-export activities was reported at VND101.5 trillion (US$4.5 billion).
In the meantime, the budget spending in eight months was VND690.8 trillion (US$30.7 billion), equivalent to 60.2% of the year's estimate.
In the period, the country spent VND106.7 trillion (US$4.7 billion) for developing infrastructure; nearly VND477.9 trillion (US$21.2 billion) for socio-economic development plans and defence activities; and VND100.5 billion (US$4.4 billion) for assistance and debt payments.
Worldhotels to make debut in Vietnam
Germany-headquartered Worldhotels, one of the leading groups for independent upscale hotels worldwide, on August 20 made its first public appearance in Vietnam through an event held in downtown HCMC.
According to Worldhotels’ executive vice president in Asia Pacific, Roland Jegge, the group which was founded in 1970 targets savvy business and leisure travelers who seek an authentic and local experience. Each hotel in the Worldhotels portfolio has been carefully selected to ensure it meets the group’s 1,000 strict quality criteria every year.  
Worldhotels now offers almost 500 hotels in 250 destinations and 65 countries worldwide. In Vietnam, there are six properties joining the brand, including Caravelle Saigon, Lotte Hotel Hanoi, Furama Resort Danang, Salinda Premium Resort & Spa Phu Quoc, Amiana Resort Nha Trang and Cam Ranh Riviera Beach Resort.
Worldhotels will back independent hotels with the power of a global brand while allowing them to retain their individual character and identity.
The group expects to expand the number of hotels and resorts in Vietnam in its general strategy in Asia. Previously, it debuted in Guangzhou, Kuala Lumpur and Beijing.
The group has launched several programs to benefit its customers, including Worldhotels Peakpoints, a loyalty program for its membership cardholders, Peakpoints Bag Tag, an innovative lost-and-found solution, and TravelSure, a global emergency travel service free of charge for 12 months.
Jan-July rice exports to Malaysia soar
The volume of rice exported to Malaysia in the January-July period neared 325,000 tons worth US$139 million, surging 95.9% in volume and 74.2% in value year-on-year, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
The ministry said Vietnam earned US$1.59 billion from shipping 3.72 million tons of rice in the first seven months of this year.
Meanwhile, the Vietnam Food Association (VFA) reported that its members had exported up to 445,000 tons of rice to Malaysia as of June 20.
However, data of the agriculture ministry showed strong falls in rice shipments to major markets including China, the Philippines, Singapore, and Hong Kong in the January-July period.
Though China remained the biggest rice importer of Vietnam during the period, the volume and value of rice shipped to the northern neighbor decreased 7.2% and 14.46% year-on-year respectively.
The respective falls were 34.4% and 38.6% for the Philippines, 40.5% and 36.84% for Singapore, and 28.4% and 34.5% for Hong Kong, a major fragrant rice importer of Vietnam in recent years.
In the January-August period, Vietnam has exported 4.09 million tons of rice worth US$1.76 billion, dropping 8.6% in volume and 13.1% in value versus the year-earlier period.
Currently, the export price of 5% broken rice is US$325-335 per ton, down US$15 per ton over early this month, while the 25% broken type is offered at US$315-325 per ton, dropping 10% per ton, according to Nguyen Thanh Phong, director of Van Loi 2 Company in the Mekong Delta province of Tien Giang.
Paddy (unhusked price) prices on the domestic market have slid VND100 (0.4 U.S. cents) per kilo compared to last week. The IR50404 paddy is now sold at VND4,250-4,300 per kilo while traders buy the IR50404 type at VND6,150-6,200 per kilo.
Ministry warns expy management unit of delay
The Ministry of Transport has told its public-private partnership (PPP) projects authority to prepare a plan to replace the project management unit of Trung Luong-My Thuan expressway project in case no progress is made in the coming month.
Deputy Minister of Transport Nguyen Van The gave the warning at a meeting on Wednesday between leaders of the ministry and Cuu Long Corporation for Investment Development and Project Management of Infrastructure (Cuu Long CIPM), which is the project management unit.
Work on the Trung Luong-My Thuan expressway project restarted six months ago but the unit has not completed legal procedures, funding arrangement, selection of contractors, technical design and site clearance as expected, according to The.
Regarding the site clearance, deputy general director of Cuu Long CIPM Nguyen Ngoc Toan reported that so far the project’s capital contribution has reached 91.29% and the corporation is working with relevant localities over site clearance for the project.
Authorities of Tien Giang Province, where the project passes, are also working on land clearance for the project and compensation for affected households. Land allocation for some components is scheduled for completion in mid-September, or one month later than the deadline set by the ministry.
Therefore, the ministry required Cuu Long CIPM and Trung Luong-My Thuan BOT Company to urgently complete site clearance in 2015, otherwise the ministry will consider replacing the project management unit.
Trung Luong-My Thuan expressway is envisaged starting at Than Cuu Nghia T-Junction near the end of the HCMC-Trung Luong Expressway and ends at the crossroad with National Highway 30 near My Thuan Bridge.
The expressway is designed to have a total length of 51.1 kilometers plus 4.5 kilometers of approach roads and costs nearly VND15 trillion (US$667.4 million). Upon completion scheduled in late 2018, the expressway will run through the town of Cai Lay and the districts of Chau Thanh, Cai Lay, Cai Be and Tan Phuoc of Tien Giang Province.
Earlier in November 2009, the Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam’s Expressway Development Company (BEDC) broke ground for the expressway project but work got stuck due to financial constraints.
In February 2015 the project got off the ground for the second time by a consortium of Tuan Loc Construction and Investment JSC, Yen Khanh Manufacturing Trading Service Co. Ltd., BMT Construction and Investment JSC, Thang Loi Group, Hoang An JSC and CII Bridges and Roads Investment JSC. This consortium was appointed by the ministry.
Better investor sentiment props up stocks
Investor sentiment continued to improve and foreign investors’ selling eased, pushing the stock indexes of HCMC and Hanoi bourses up for a third session on August 27.
On world markets, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose by 3.95% on Thursday (local time), its biggest one-day gain in four years, and buoyed Asian markets to end up. This led cash to flow into HCMC and Hanoi markets as the VN-Index and the HNX-Index increased sharply in the morning phase, according to securities companies.
Closing the session, the VN-Index added 9.92 points, or 1.82%, to end at 555.81 since large caps like GAS, CTG, BID and VCB contributed 1.6% to the main index’s gains.
The petroleum sector made a slight recovery thanks to the global oil price hike. GAS stood at the ceiling price for the second straight day at VND44,400 per share while PVD, PVT and PXS inched up.
Most bank tickers advanced, with CTG of VietinBank gaining 3.74% at VND19,400 per share and recording trading volume of over 3.3 million shares. According to Bao Viet Securities Company, the bank plans to seek approval from the Government and the central bank for a foreign ownership limit (FOL) increase.
HHS jumped to the ceiling price on news that the firm would advance a 2014 dividend both in cash and by share for shareholders at 10% each. In contrast, many other speculative stocks like AMD, FLC and HAI went down.
Overall, liquidity improved on the HCMC market as trading volume reached over 127.7 million shares valued at some VND2.06 trillion (US$91.7 million), up 3% and 0.4% against the previous session respectively.
Foreigners shifted to the buying side on the HCMC bourse but remained net sellers on the Hanoi market.
On the southern exchange, they net bought VND25.4 billion worth of shares and fund certificates, including VND36.2 billion worth of fund certificates of E1VFVN30 and VND21.6 billion worth of BID shares.
Meanwhile, foreign investors offloaded VCB, HPG and MSN shares valued at VND23 billion, VND18.7 billion and VND16.5 billion respectively.
The Hanoi bourse saw foreign investors net selling VND23.2 billion worth of shares, mainly PVS.
The HNX-Index on August 27 edged up 0.73% to reach 77.02 points at the close. Investors traded 63.36 million shares worth a combined VND564 billion, up around 30% and 16% against Wednesday respectively.
City mulls financial backing for supporting industries
The HCMC government will consider offering loan interest subsidies of 50% to 100% in 5-7 years for enterprises in supporting industries to build workshops, purchase machines and equipment for their production.
HCMC vice chairman Tat Thanh Cang told the opening of the Vietnam Supporting Industries Exhibition 2015 on August 27 that the loan interest support is part of a program the city government plans to launch next month to build strong supporting industries.
Enterprises can get more information about the program via the HCMC Supporting Industries Development Center.
According to Cang, supporting industries in HCMC are underdeveloped. To back the development of these industries, the city government will strive to attract more investments in the sectors of electronics, information technology, mechanical engineering, food processing, pharmaceutical, rubber, textile, garment and footwear.
In the coming years the city is expected to develop some key products of local supporting industries for the global supply chains of the mechanical engineering, electronics, textile, garment, footwear, food processing and rubber sectors.
Nguyen Quoc Anh, chairman of the HCMC Rubber and Plastics Association, said many plastics enterprises are in dire need of low-interest loans. Firms now have to pay an average interest rate of around 10%, which is much higher than the loans foreign-invested companies in the same field can get.
Anh said the profit margin of the rubber-plastics industry is 10%, just enough for enterprises to pay loan interest. This is one of the reasons why local enterprises cannot compete with foreign-invested peers.
He added his company is preparing to borrow VND8 billion with preferential rates under the program the city government announced yesterday.
Vuong Huu Man, deputy general director of Hiep Phuoc Industrial Park Company, told the Daily at the exhibition running until Sunday that the park is preparing to build many types of ready-to-use workshops for enterprises.
Hiep Phuoc Industrial Park has also reserved land lots for enterprises with strong financial capability to develop their own workshops. The park’s operator will work with relevant agencies to help investors complete investment procedures.
Phase two of Hiep Phuoc Industrial Park is underway to expand the park by 600 hectares as 90% of phase one’s 400 hectares has been leased to tenants. The park will set aside around 200 hectares of the second phase for enterprises in supporting industries.
Man said the industrial park has prepared 100 hectares for lease to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) as well as foreign investors in need of large land lots for their projects.
The HCMC government plans to set aside 500 hectares of land at industrial parks for investment projects in supporting industries in 2015-2020. Besides, the city will build multistory workshop buildings with total floor space of 100,000 square meters for SMEs in supporting industries.
HCMC is determined to develop supporting industries in the next five years in hopes of increasing its index of industrial production by 7% per year on average.
Up to 95% of enterprises in HCMC are SMEs. However, they have to cope with many difficulties in making products for supporting industries as they have to import 70% of components and materials. The quality of their products is low.
Local SMEs do not have much capital for quality improvement and production expansion as it is difficult for them to take out bank loans due to limited assets.