Thứ Sáu, 29 tháng 12, 2017

Chinese investors buy a series of Vietnamese companies

A report from the Foreign Investment Agency (FIA) pointed out that China is among the four biggest foreign direct investors, and Chinese investors have contributed $280 million worth of capital to 593 projects in Vietnam. 

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Commenting about the figures, Le Xuan Truong from the Finance Academy said Chinese tend to make investments with modest capital or buy into existing businesses.

As investors, Chinese have to consider the places and modes of investment and the business fields that can bring optimal profits. There is no requirement on legal capital in certain business fields; that is, the investors can contribute capital based on their capability.

China’s proximity allows small businesses to make outward investment at low costs. Chinese mostly pour capital into fields they have advantages in, such as traditional medicine clinics, healthcare and beauty services.

Many Chinese investors have been found contributing capital to swindle Vietnamese partners and consumers. They tricked banks out of capital and ran away, failing to pay Vietnamese workers.
Many Chinese investors have been found contributing capital to swindle Vietnamese partners and consumers. They tricked banks out of capital and ran away, failing to pay Vietnamese workers.
Some economists have expressed their concern about the recent new Chinese investment wave, saying that it could have adverse effects. As Chinese mostly invest in small businesses and try to optimize their profit, they will ignore the requirements on environment and bring outdated technologies to Vietnam.

In general, only large enterprises which plan long-term investment will pay attention to  solutions to ensure sustainable development, care about the community’s benefits and fulfill social responsibilities.

They have also warned that Chinese investors will bring Chinese to work at Chinese invested projects.

Truong, while admitting the high risks, said Vietnam should not turn its back to Chinese investment, but take full advantage of investment capital flow for the country’s development.

To mitigate the adverse effects, he said, some regulations need to be amended and Chinese investors’ capability should be examined before licensing.

Nguyen Mai, chair of the Vietnam Association of Foreign Invested Enterprises (VAFIE), a renowned expert on foreign direct investment (FDI), said Vietnam needs to be choosier when licensing foreign invested projects. He said most of the registered projects have the investment capital of less than $1 million, while in some localities, projects capitalized at less than $100,000 were licensed.

He said that Vietnam needs to apply new policies to attract more FDI from developed countries, noting that the investment from the EU and US remains modest.

Tien Phong
HBSO celebrates New Year with operetta The Bat

The HCM City Ballet and Symphony Orchestra (HBSO) will stage the operetta Die Fledermaus (The Bat) by Austrian composer Johann Strauss II at the Opera House on December 29.  

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The HCM City Ballet and Symphony Orchestra will stage the operetta Die Fledermaus (The Bat) by Austrian composer Johann Strauss II at the Opera House on December 29. - Photo courtesy of HBSO

Die Fledermaus, set in Vienna in the 19th century, features Dr Falke’s plan to embarrass his friend Eisenstein who leaves him at a park after a costume party. 
Johann Strauss II finished the work in one month and a half. Its libretto was written by German dramatist Karl Haffner and author and composer Richard Genée.
The operetta premiered in 1874 at the Theater an der Wien in Vienna.
Since New Year’s Eve of 1900, Die Fledermaus has become an integral part of the Vienne State Opera for the New Year season, and a tradition for many theatres and troupes in the UK, Australia, Lithuania and now Vietnam.
In Vietnam, the operetta premiered during the Autumn Melody Festival in August, the biggest event featuring classical arts forms in HCM City, receiving a warm welcome from critics and local and foreign audiences.
It is being staged by German director David Hermann, who has overseen numerous classical and modern operas such as The Marriage of Figaro and The Magic Flute by Mozart, Jeanne d’Arc au bûcher (Joan of Arc at the Stake) by Arthur Honegger and L’heure Espagnole (The Spanish Hour) by Maurice Ravel.
The performance will feature South Korean soprano Cho Hae Ryong, soprano Pham Khanh Ngoc and baritone Dao Mac, together with HBSO’s vocalists, musicians and dancers.
Tran Nhat Minh, who earned a master’s degree in chorus conducting at Moscow State Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Russia, will conduct the performance.
The show will begin at 8pm at 7 Lam Son Square in District 1. Tickets are available at the venue. 
 Bond market gets a promising start

More firms in Vietnam are turning to bonds for funding, but experts believe that the Vietnamese corporate bond market has a long way to go before it can attract foreign investors.

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Rising popularity
As the year comes to an end, Vietnamese companies are issuing bonds left and right, signaling a busy season for the domestic bond market. Leading electronics retailer Mobile World Corporation recently raised VND1.135 trillion (US$51.6 million) from five-year bonds, with the annual interest rate fixed at 6.55%. The issuance was guaranteed by Credit Guarantee and Investment Facility, a trust fund of the Asian Development Bank.
Another major issuer is state-owned lender VietinBank, which issued 220,000 bonds in late November to raise VND2.2 trillion (US$97 million). Prior to this sale, the bank successfully collected VND2 trillion (US$88.2 million) from its first batch of bonds in late October. All of the bonds have a 10-year maturity term, and the annual rate will be 1.2% higher than the average interest rate at major banks.
At the same time, fellow lender VPBank issued two-year bonds worth VND3 trillion (US$132.3 million), with interest rates fixed at 6.7%. Leading brokerage Ho Chi Minh Securities also went forward with a plan to collect VND800 billion (US$35.2 million) from one-year bonds, at 9% interest.
Other major securities firms such as Saigon Securities Incorporation and Viet Capital Securities are also asking for shareholders’ approval to release bonds. Both firms cite the need to fund year-end business activities and restructure their debts to enjoy lower interest rates.
In the international market, Cuu Long Pharmaceutical JSC raised US$20 million of USD-denominated bonds for the Republic of Korea (RoK)-based Rhinos Asset Management. These bonds, charged at 1% of interest rates, are convertible to stocks after one year. Rhinos Asset Management previously bought similar bonds in major construction firm Ho Chi Minh Infrastructure Investment JSC.
In response to the growing corporate bond market in Vietnam, the Ministry of Finance is making adjustments to Decree No. 90/2011/ND-CP regarding corporate bond issuance. The draft bill has garnered in-depth discussions from market participants, who focus on issues such as the profitability of issuers, repayment abilities, and information disclosure requirements.
A long road ahead
Industry experts welcome the increasing popularity of corporate bonds, stating that it opens a new funding source for companies in Vietnam besides bank loans and stocks. For investors, bonds also provide necessary diversification for their portfolio, together with consistent interest rates and lower risks than stocks.
However, the reality is that 75% of corporate bond buyers in Vietnam these days are commercial banks, which makes these bonds no different from bank loans. Bui Quang Tin, professor at the Ho Chi Minh Banking University, noted that some companies sell bonds to banks to restructure their existing loans rather than raise new capital, which defeats the original purpose of bond issuance.
“Outside investors, especially individual investors, usually have no access to the firm’s business activities. Vietnam doesn’t have an independent credit rating agency, which makes bond investment here very risky, as investors don’t know which issuer can pay back their bonds,” said Tin.
To attract more international investors, the professor suggested setting up a credit rating agency similar to major international ones like Moody’s or S&P, as well as diversifying bond offers to the market.
Nguyen Thi Thai Thuan, general director of VinaWealth Fund Management JSC, told VIR in a recent interview that most investment funds in Vietnam hold government bonds and “just a few corporate bonds of major businesses,” as there is still very little secondary trading for corporate bonds.
“The stock market is growing very fast, making it attractive to investors for the time being. However, fixed income products like bonds provide safety and lower risks, which is why I hope the legal framework will soon be finished, to pave the way for more corporate bond issuers,” said Thuan.
In a guest article for VIR, Dr. Christian Kamm from Kamm Investment Inc. also noted that foreign investors hardly consider buying corporate bonds in Vietnam because the options are too limited.
However, they are likely to be more willing to do so if bonds are available on the market, supported by an up-to-date legal framework, strong accounting standards, and a transparent clearing process, Kamm said.
He added that the Asian monetary crisis of 1997 was partially a result of large bank borrowings and the absence of a bond market. A vibrant bond market would ease pressure on Vietnam’s commercial banks, which are still recovering from the bad debt nightmare.
“A developed bond market provides a market-driven and market-determined interest rate, for which firms can determine a realistic cost of capital for their investment and expansion,” Kamm said.
He believed that Vietnam should collaborate with international partners to develop the bond market, starting with a credit rating agency.

Thứ Năm, 28 tháng 12, 2017

VN needs to develop supply chain for safe farm produce

Viet Nam needs to develop a supply chain for clean and safe farm produce, an important step to increase sales, prevent price slumps and promote safe agricultural production, experts say.

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A consumer shops for VinEco products. Viet Nam needs to develop a supply chain for clean and safe farm produce. - File Photo

According to Dao Van Ho, Director of the Trade Promotion Centre for Agriculture under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the supply of safe farm produce remains too weak to meet demand.
He said that there are around 700 supply chains for safe farm produce including vegetables, fruits, tea, pork, egg, rice and seafood products in 50 provinces and cities.
Still, demand for safe farm produce is much higher, Ho said. The supply of safe farm produce is not diverse enough and lacks adequate stores for consumers to visit.
This is a part of the reason why many agricultural products struggled in sales and faced strong drops in prices, as in the recent cases of banana in the southern province of Dong Nai, watermelon in central Quang Ngai Province and pork oversupply crisis.
“It is critical to promote the supply chain for farm produce in an effort to restructure the agricultural sector towards increasing added value and sustainable development,” Ho said.
From the viewpoint of a distribution company, Dao Ngoc Nam, chairman of An Viet Company said that many localities had quality farm produce but have not paid adequate attention to promotion and product design in order to attract buyers.
In addition, the lack of certificates made it difficult to get products on the shelves of supermarkets and restaurants, Nam said. He added that many farmers and producers were still not well aware of the importance of quality certificates.
Vu Thi Ha, Deputy Director of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development of Hai Duong Province, said that policies to encourage safe agricultural production following standards like VietGap and Global Gap were needed, besides enhancing the linkage of trading enterprises with farmers and producers to establish supply chains.
Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Vu Van Tam said that two important aspects of establishing supply chains are ensuring product quality and promoting distribution networks.
JICA’s support
Trading companies and retailers play a significant role in the supply chain of safe farm produce, according to Mamiya Chiyo, consultant to the Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA)-funded project of promoting safe vegetable production chains in the northern region.
She said at a conference yesterday that retailers are the bridges between supply and demand. They play an important role in supervising quality and quality to ensure that demand is met.
The five-year project which would be implemented until July 2021 would enhance the capacity of supervising and managing safe farming production, developing good models of safe farm produce following GAP standards and enhancing awareness about producing and using safe products.
Nguyen Huu Hung, head of Yen Phu Co-operative, said that before cooperating with VinEco, sales of its farm produce had been unstable.
VinEco helped Yen Phu maintain strong sales with stable prices.
Foreign investors target cleared land as property market heats up

The real estate market continues to be bustling, with a series of M&A deals in 2007 and to be made in 2018.

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JLL noted that hundreds of millions of dollars are about to flow into all segments of the real estate market, from houses, offices and retail premises to hotels and industrial zones. The investors are mostly from Japan, Singapore and South Korea. The market has also witnessed the rise of investors from China, namely CFLC, Country Garden and Jiayuan.

Japanese have been increasing their presence in Vietnam. Kajima, one of four of the  largest Japanese conglomerates, in September 2016 joined forces with Indochina Capital to set up a joint venture to develop projects with estimated total capital of up to $1 billion over the next 10 years. In the immediate time, they will focus on housing and resort projects in Hanoi, HCM City and Da Nang.
The real estate market continues to be bustling, with a series of M&A deals to be made this year and in 2018.
The domestic market has seen many big M&A deals this year. In March, Keppel Land from Singapore, through its subsidiary Krystal Investment Pte, acquired a 16 remaining stake in the Saigon Centre project. And Hongkong Land will become the strategic partner of CII to develop houses in the Thu Thiem new urban area.

In May, Quoc Cuong Gia Lai sold its project in Nha Be district to Sunny Island Investment, but the value of the deal remains a secret.

More recently, Phat Dat Real Estate announced the transfer of a part of Everrich 3 project in HCM City. Hung Thinh Real Estate is moving ahead with the strategy on taking over 20 projects which have been delayed for a long time. Ten of the projects have been developed and products have been marketed.

VinaCapital has sold 70 percent of its stake in the 198.5 hectare Dai Phuoc Lotus project in Dong Nai province to China Fortune Land Development (CFLD). CFLD has signed an MOU with Tin Nghia Corporation on the development of a new industrial city in Ong Keo IZ.

The housing market segment is always attractive for investors who are aware of the rapid rise of middle-income earners.

They also target commercial real estate with a special focus on hotel and A-class offices. More and more foreign investors have come to Vietnam and set up offices and are expanding their staff in Vietnam instead of bringing more foreign workers.

JLL commented that the office rent in Vietnam is far higher than in other regional countries, which reflects the short supply.

However, foreign investors face big challenges in Vietnam. They tend to look for ‘clean’ land, that is, land plots where site clearance has been completed. However, there are few such projects in Vietnam because the real estate market is young.

Kim Chi, VNN
 2017-a year of remarkable success

With 13 socioeconomic development targets accomplished and a GDP growth of 6.7 per cent-the highest in the last ten years-2017 is considered a special year for the Vietnamese economy.

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Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said that the Vietnamese economy has developed well in almost all fields. All 13 economic goals set forth were accomplished and exceeded, contributing to developing an exciting business and investment environment and consolidating people’s confidence.
Notably, GDP growth hit 6.7 per cent, the highest in the past decade. Macroeconomic performance was stable. Inflation was brought under control, while exports surged sharply and the industry recovered at a remarkable pace.
The number of newly-established businesses was estimated at 126,860, setting a new record against the 110,100 recorded in 2016 with a total value of newly and additionally registered capital of over VND3,172 trillion (equivalent to $139.43 billion) and 26,448 businesses resumed operation.
The FDI sector made increasingly significant contributions to socioeconomic development. The amount of registered FDI capital set a new record since 2009 with $35.6 billion. Disbursed capital hit $17.5 billion, the highest figure over the last ten years. 
The business environment and national competitiveness index both improved remarkably. According to the World Bank’s Doing Business 2018 report, Vietnam ranked 68th among 190 economies, up 14 ranks against 2017 and 30 ranks against 2012. The World Economic Forum (WEF) also ranked Vietnam 55th overall, up five places from last year.
Earlier, the Global Innovation Index 2017 (GII 2017) of World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) ranked Vietnam 47th from the 59th last year. This was the best performance Vietnam has made.
In the last month, Moody's Investors Service also changed the outlook of the Vietnamese banking system to positive from stable. At the end of November, VN-Index and HNX-Index leaped 42.87 and 42.19 per cent, with the trading volume and value both at record levels.
Socio-political performance was stable. Diplomatic affairs and international integration were promoted, especially by the successful hosting of the APEC Vietnam 2017. The position and reputation of Vietnam have been improved sharply.
According to PM Phuc, the fulfillment of the 13 preset goals was a great success, especially as the economy is shifting towards the processing and manufacturing sector and high-tech farming. 
13 indicators reaching and exceeding the target
Five indicators are estimated to exceed the preset goals, including: the rate of trade deficit compared to total export turnover (which was planned at 3.5 per cent); total social development investment capital compared to GDP (planned at 31.5 per cent); growth rate of total export turnover (planned at 7 per cent); number of hospital beds per 10,000 people (planned at 25.5 beds); rate of population subscribing to health insurance (planned at 82.2 per cent).
Eight indicators are estimated to reach the preset goals, including: GDP growth of 6.7 per cent; consumer price index of 4 per cent; reducing energy consumption per unit of GDP by 1.5 per cent; reducing the poverty rate by 1-1.5 per cent according to the multi-dimensional poverty standard; reducing unemployment rate in urban areas to under 4 per cent; increasing the percentage of trained employees among total workers in the economy to 56 per cent; increasing the rate of on-going industrial parks and export processing zones having concentrated wastewater treatment system in line with environmental standards to 87 per cent; and increasing the rate of forest coverage to 41.45 per cent.
The Vietnamese Government sets growth goal of 6.5 – 6.7% for 2018 amid encouraging socio-economic signals in 2017, according to a report presented by PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc at the opening ceremony of the Legislature’s ongoing 4th session.
The Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI) has outlined three scenarios for Vietnam's economic growth in 2018, thus preparing to devise the next-year socioeconomic development plan.

Thứ Tư, 27 tháng 12, 2017

VNPT earns $220m this year

Telecom operator Viet Nam Posts and Telecommunications Group (VNPT) reached a consolidated profit of VNĐ5.01 trillion (US$220 million), a year-on-year increase of 21 per cent.

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To date, VNPT has become a strategic partner in telecommunications and IT with 52 over 63 cities and provinces. - Photo 

This is the fourth consecutive year that VNPT has achieved a profit growth of more than 20 per cent.
This was revealed at a conference, which was held in Hà Nội on Tuesday in order to deploy tasks for the year 2018.
Specifically, the group’s total revenue reached nearly VNĐ144.75 trillion, up 7 per cent against 2016. The State budget contribution was nearly VNĐ4.12 trillion, an increase of 9.3 per cent compared to the previous year. The return on equity hit 8.2 per cent, surpassing 5.1 per cent compared to the targeted plan.
The total subscribers of VNPT reached over 34 million subscribers, of which, 31.1 million are mobile subscribers, up 21 per cent from 2016, including 4.1 million FiberVNN subscribers, up 52 per cent compared with 2016.
In 2017, VNPT had completed broadcasting over 20,000 mobile stations (2G, 3G, 4G) nationwide, bringing the total number of stations to approximately 75,000.
VNPT has also operated the AAE1 broadband cable since October 2017. The total international internet bandwidth increased by 83 per cent, compared to 2016, and the total caching capacity of VNPT increased by 2.1 times, compared to 2016.
Having considered information technology to be a key business segment in the period between 2016 and 2020, VNPT has a strong investment strategy for this field and has achieved positive results in 2017.
To date, VNPT has become a strategic partner in telecommunications and IT with 52 over 63 cities and provinces. In 2017, the group approached, introduced and deployed the intelligent city model in 17 provinces and cities nationwide.
In 2018, VNPT will focus on the development of breakthrough IT services in the business, moving from the concept of Telco to DSP service provider. It will switch to digital services, value-added services, information technology, communications and information technology.
Pham Duc Long, VNPT’s general director, said the group will strive to achieve a rise of 10 per cent profit growth over 2017 in 2018 and a revenue growth rate of 6.5 per cent to 8 per cent, compared to 2017. The return on equity is expected to increase 10 per cent compared to 2017, and the group will try to fulfil the State budget contribution in 2018.
Vietnam holds counter-terrorism exercise in Cam Ranh airport

A counter-terrorism exercise was held at Cam Ranh International Airport on December 26. It was co-organized by the National Civil Aviation Security Committee, the National Defence, Public Security and Transport ministries and Khanh Hoa province’s People's Committee.

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Deputy Prime Minister Truong Hoa Binh directly commanded the exercise, which involved nearly 1,000 police, soldiers and personnel from relevant agencies.
Scenarios are based on the assumption that a civil plane was attacked by a group of 8 armed hijackers while flying in Vietnam airspace. The hijackers kept some passengers as hostages and attempted to flee the country.
After negotiation failed, the counter-terror forces attacked and arrested the terrorists and released hostages.
The Deputy Prime Minister emphasized that in the context of complicated global security, the drills was very significant to test and ensure a multi-agency response to possible terror attacks and enhance effective co-ordination between relevant agencies.
Dinh Viet Son, deputy head of the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam said the exercise achieved its goals and equipped stakeholders in the aviation sector with essential skills to deal with possible terror attacks at the airport.

Former Politburo member faces up to 20 years for misconduct at PetroVietnam

Dinh La Thang could be imprisoned 10 to 20 years for deliberately violating state regulations
Former Politburo member faces up to 20 years for misconduct at PetroVietnam
Dinh La Thang is seen in this file photo by Tuoi Tre.
A former Politburo member could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison if found guilty of wroingdoings at one of Vietnam's largest state-owned groups, leading to serious consequences.
The Supreme People’s Procuracy on Tuesday issued the indictment on the deliberate violations of state regulations on economic management, causing serious consequences, and the embezzlement of property, which were allegedly committed by Ding La Thang and 21 other defendants at PetroVietnam (PVN) and its subsidiary, PetroVietnam Construction Corporation (PVC).
As the former chairman of PVN’s management board, Thang was charged for deliberately violating the state’s regulations on economic management, causing serious consequences, and is facing between 10 and 20 years of imprisonment.
Thang, 57, was a member of the all-powerful Politburo of the Communist Party of Vietnam from January 27, 2016 to May 7, 2017, and secretary of the Ho Chi Minh City Party Committee from February 5, 2016 to May 10, 2017.    
Phung Dinh Thuc, former general director of PVN, Nguyen Xuan Son, PVN’s ex-deputy general director, and nine other suspects were charged for a similar offense.
Eight suspects are to be prosecuted for embezzlement of property.
Trinh Xuan Thanh, former chairman of PVC’s board of directors, and Vu Duc Thuan, ex-general director of PVC, were charged for both offenses.
Thanh is expected to be sentenced to 20 years behind bars for his deliberate violations of the state’s regulations, and death for embezzlement.
The investigation
In September 15, 2016, the Ministry of Public Security began the investigation into the case and arrested four suspects for their deliberate violations at the two companies.
Officers initiated legal proceedings against and issued a wanted notice for Thanh the following day.
In February 2017, five new suspects were apprehended for embezzlement.
In July 31, Thanh returned to Vietnam after fleeing to another country and turned himself in to police.
Police captured Thang and began legal procedures against him on December 8.
A total of 11 other suspects involved in the case were nabbed between March and December.
Officers concluded their probe and transferred their report to the Supreme People’s Procuracy on December 20.
The violations
According to the indictment, PVC, under the leadership of Thanh, implemented 67 construction projects from 2008 to 2012, of which 12 projects required extra expenditure that was not stated in the contracts.
The firm also invested over VND3 trillion (US$132.2 million) in 46 companies in 2010 and another VND3.5 trillion ($154.2 million) in 43 enterprises in 2011.
The total investment exceeded PVC’s charter capital by nearly VND1 trillion ($44 million), resulting in financial difficulties at the subsidiary.
In April 2010, Thang, on behalf of the management board, submitted a document to the government asking for permission to initiate the Thai Binh 2 thermal power project, located in the namesake northern province, that same year.
He also requested that the oil and gas group PVN, among Vietnam's largest state-owned companies, be allowed to select contractors for the construction. 
The request was approved and, under Thang’s directions, PVC was chosen in June 2010 as the EPC (Engineering, Procurement, and Construction) contractor of the project.
The PVN chairman then directed his employees to sign a deal for the construction of certain facilities at the power plant, a move that went against regulations.
Based on the agreement, PVN made an advance transfer of $6.6 million and over VND1.3 trillion ($57.2 million) to PVC.
However, Thanh, and other suspects at PVC, used over VND1 trillion ($44 million) of the money for wrongful purposes, a violation that led to VND111 billion ($5.2 million) in losses for the state.
Aside from the wrongdoings within the Thai Binh 2 project, Thanh and Thuan, the ex-general director of PVC, also directed the creation of bogus documents that approved the withdrawal of VND13 billion ($572,584) from the management board of the Vung Ang-Quang Trach thermal power project in north-central Vietnam, developed by PVN. 
Their trial is scheduled to take place in the first quarter of 2018.
 Tuoi Tre News
APG submarine cable damaged

The Asia-Pacific Getaway (APG) Submarine cable from Vietnam to Singapore has crashed, negatively affecting internet capacity of the Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications Group (VNPT) and other network operators. 

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According to VNPT, after problems on the Asia-America Getaway (AAG) and Southeast Asia-Middle East-Western Europe (SMW-3) submarine cables on November 7, which were eventually repaired on Saturday, the APG Submarine cable suddenly broke.
The SMW-3 replaced its power source at TUAS station in Singapore and successfully backed up the source at 3pm on December 15. All information flow from Vietnam to other countries was restored.
The re-operation of AAG and SMW-3 helps Vietnamese network operators maintain the Internet connection, especially when the APG submarine cable crashes.
To deal with the problem, VNPT prioritises Internet traffic on other submarine cables operating stably to assure connection quality for customers.
“At present, we are collaborating with international partners to find causes and make a detailed plan to address the issue,” a representative of VNPT said.

Thứ Ba, 26 tháng 12, 2017


Pangasius fish export tops $1.75 billion

 Pangasius fish export tops $1.75 billion, Lam Dong eyes more high-quality foreign investment, NFSC: Bad debts down to 9.5%, Technology ecosystem for restaurants introduced

Vietnam Pangasius Fish Association said that pangasius fish export turnover this year exceeds US$1.75 billion and the fish farming area has increased back in the Mekong Delta region.

Specifically, new farming area is 3,299 hectares, up 14 percent while harvest area reaches 3,415 hectares, up 7 percent.

Large farming provinces are Dong Thap with 1,200 hectares, Ben Tre 753 hectares and An Giang 589 hectares.

The fish output and export turnover have strongly increased because of advantageous consumption from Chinese market which has replaced the US to become the largest import market of Vietnamese pangasius fish.

Pangasius price now approximates VND28,000 a kilogram in the Mekong Delta, the highest level this year and the record high for the last ten years.

Lam Dong eyes more high-quality foreign investment

A conference was held by the People’s Committee of the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong on December 26, discussing ways to draw in more “high-quality” foreign investment in the locality.

The conference on investment, trade and tourism promotion took place within the framework of the 7th Da Lat Flower Festival that is underway in Da Lat city.

The event gathered representatives from about 50 domestic and foreign companies in the province alongside a number of experts and scholars from ministries and state agencies.

Foreign investors have poured about 528 million USD into 103 projects in Lam Dong while the province has attracted approximately 115 trillion VND (5.06 billion USD) in 820 domestic projects, said Vice Chairman of the province’s People’s Committee Nguyen Van Yen, noting most of the projects are run by small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Yen voiced his concern over ineffectiveness of many foreign investment projects while many foreign investors have taken advantages of local investment promotion policies to occupy land for illegal purposes, like transfer of land use rights without permit.

To solve the issues, Lam Dong should give priority to big firms with good financial capability and sustainable investment, instead of SMEs, said Director of the Vietnam Institute of Economics Tran Dinh Thien. SMEs have limited funding so most of them want to earn profit at any cost, leaving severe impacts on local environment and economics, he explained.

Delegates to the conference suggested that the province should also further accelerate public administrative reforms and put more efforts to unleash its potential in tourism, hi-tech agriculture and biotechnology.

NFSC: Bad debts down to 9.5%

The 2017 Financial Market Overview Report released on December 26 by the National Financial Supervision Commission (NFSC) noted that bad debts have been cut from 11.5 per cent of total credit as at August to 9.5 per cent now, primarily due to the recent implementation of the National Assembly’s resolution on bad debt settlement.

Local banks, thanks to quicker debt resolution, have managed to clear VND70 trillion ($3 billion) in bad debts over the past year, while the rising property market has boosted credit growth, the report said.

Return on assets (ROA) and return on equity (ROE) in the banking sector have both reached their highest levels in five years, the report noted. The NFSC estimated credit growth of 19 per cent this year amid an increase of 17.3 per cent in the sector’s total assets.

State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) Governor Le Minh Hung told a plenary session last month that non-performing loans (NPLs) in the banking system, if fully calculated, were estimated at VND566 trillion ($24.93 billion) as at the end of September, accounting for 8.61 per cent of total credit.

NPLs registered on Vietnamese banks’ balance sheets, mostly incurred due to a slowdown in the country’s real estate market in the early 2010s, had been cut to 2.34 per cent of the total by the end of September, down from 2.46 per cent at the end of last year, according to SBV Governor Hung. The central bank set up an institution to deal with toxic loans, the Vietnam Asset Management Company (VAMC), in late 2013.

Credit ratings agency Moody’s in October upgraded its outlook for Vietnam’s banking system from stable to positive for the next 12-18 months, reflecting the country’s strong economic prospects and the positive outlook for most rated banks.

Together with cutting bad debts, quicker debt resolution could also reduce the burden on banks, which would better position them for the scheduled implementation of the Basel II standards in January 2020. As it stands, banks’ reported capital adequacy ratios (CARs) meet minimum requirements, but these are based on official NPL ratios that understate problem loans in the banking sector.

“Capital adequacy in the banking system is poor because rapid credit growth is already outpacing internal capital generation and sources of external capital are limited,” Moody’s lead analyst Ms. Daphne Cheng told VET, adding that the government intends to rely on banks’ earnings to close their capital shortfalls, given its lack of fiscal resources to inject fresh capital.

Technology ecosystem for restaurants introduced

Dcorp R-Keeper, a management solutions provider for the restaurant industry, has recently introduced the latest technological solutions for restaurants and coffee shop owners to stay abreast of development in the fourth industrial revolution (Industry 4.0), improve the customer experience, and increase business efficiency. A seminar was held recently in Ho Chi Minh City to review the technology ecosystem for the food & beverage (F&B) industry.

As a pioneer in providing POS solutions and management solutions for restaurant, coffee shop, or other franchise chains, it has nearly ten years of history in the field of providing management solutions to the restaurant industry.

In the face of a developed F&B industry and the explosion of technology around the world, restaurants continually need to adopt new strategies, optimize operations, and have a powerful management system that can minimize costs and increase profits.

A the briefing event on its technology ecosystem, the company introduced its most advanced technologies being delivered to the market in the near future, such as ordering on any device (tablet, mobile phone, website, scanning QR codes, or a chat bot), convenient billing and processing of bills (mobile payment, e-wallet, e-receipt), food omni-chanels, and customer service Interaction (e-vouchers, e-coupons, membership management apps, etc.).

“More and more F&B companies are joining the market, putting great pressure on the structure of existing restaurants and coffee shops,” said Mr. James Duong Nguyen, General Director of Dcorp R-Keeper Vietnam. “In Vietnam, many problems must be resolved regarding the optimization of operations, costs, and revenue management, increasing the quality of food and, especially, providing top utility tools to increase the customer experience, shorten ordering and waiting times, using the mobile apps of customers, and gradually removing the need for paperwork.”

Dcorp R-Keeper also officially launched its marketplace for developers and technology companies to contribute apps and features to the R-Keeper POS system and the development of high tech gadgets and utilities for restaurants.

Dcorp R-Keeper is a partner of more than 2,000 restaurants and hotels, including leading brands such as Golden Gate, Red Sun, QSR, Wrap & Roll, NISO, and the Hoang Yen Group.

Real estate & construction enterprises up sharply

The number of real estate and construction enterprises rose sharply in 2017, by 62 per cent against 2016, with registered capital rising 66.5 per cent.

The total number of newly-established enterprises and enterprises returning after suspending operations were 153,307 in 2017, according to the Ministry of Planning and Investment, of which 126,859 were newly-established enterprises.

Total registered capital was VND3.2 trillion ($140.9 million), including registered capital of VND1.3 trillion ($57.2 million) at newly-registered enterprises and additional registered capital of VND1.8 trillion ($79.2 million).

Wholesale retail, repair, automobiles and motorbikes saw 45,411 newly-established enterprises, accounting for 35.8 per cent of the total, manufacturing and processing 16,191 enterprises, or 12.8 per cent, and construction 16,035 enterprises, or 12.6 per cent.

Wholesale, retail, and motor vehicles had the largest number of registered enterprises. In terms of growth, real estate lead the way, with numbers increasing 62 per cent.

Registered capital in real estate businesses reached VND76.7 billion ($3.37 million) on average in each enterprise, electricity, water and gas distribution VND65.7 billion ($2.8 million), arts and entertainment VND18.2 billion ($801,472), and natural resources exploitation VND17.6 billion ($774,934).

Eight component projects of North-South Highway await investment capital

The total investment capital of the eight component projects under the eastern North-South Highway is estimated at VND104.1 trillion (equivalent to $4.6 billion) during 2017-2020.

The Ministry of Transport has just issued Decision No.3535/QD-BGTVT announcing the portfolio of component projects constructing certain segments of the eastern North-South Highway in the 2017-2020 period.

These build-operate-build (BOT) projects will meet the transportation demand at some urgent segments, building the eastern North-South Highway with high capacity, safety, and high speed way.

These projects will connect political-economic centres, especially three major economic zones, economic parks, and industrial parks, contributing to the completion of a synchronous infrastructure system, the promotion of socioeconomic development, ensuring national defense-security, and improving economic competitiveness.

These projects have started preparations since earlier this year and are expected to be finished by 2021.

Deputy PM approves adjustments to inland container depot master plan

Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung has approved adjustments to the master plan for Vietnam’s inland container depot development to 2020, with a vision to 2030.

The adjustments aim to help inland container depot systems meet the increasing demand of export-import transport, increase sea ports’ capacity for goods clearance, ensure the safety of goods and reduce traffic congestion in urban areas.

Inland container depots will be developed into centres for organising goods transport and providing logistics services.

By 2020, Vietnam’s inland container depot systems are hoped to clear at least 15-20 percent of the volume of goods containers, with a total capacity of 4 - 6.84 million TEU/year. The figures is expect to reach at least 25-30 percent and between 12 - 17.6 million TEU/year, respectively by 2030.

According to the plan, 15 inland container deports will be built across the country, including six in the north, six in the central and Central Highlands and three in the south.

Total investment capital for the plan to 2020 is estimated at 9-15 trillion VND (396.9 -661.5 million USD), while for 2020-2030 funding will be about 20-22 trillion VND (882-970.2 million USD).

In the next three years, the work will focus on developing inland container deports along transport corridors connecting to large seaports in the north and the south, with priority given to ports close to industrial clusters and parks, export processing zones, logistics centres and international border gates.

The plan will also focus on measures to enhance State management of the development of inland container deports, logistic centres and the involvement of railway and internal waterway sectors in container transport.

Tien Giang star-apple fruit breaks into US market

Vietnam has become the first country allowed to export star apple to the US after 10 years of negotiations, with the first batch of the fruit from the Mekong Delta province of Tien Giang exported to the market on December 26.

In preparation for the shipment of one tonne of star apples to the US, local enterprises inked consumption contracts with cooperatives in My Long, Huu Dao and Long Hung communes (Chau Thanh district) and Ban Long communes (Cai Lay district).

Some 56.34 hectares of star apples in Tien Giang province have been designated for growing fruit for export to the US.

Together with litchi, longan, rambutan and dragon fruit, star apple is the fifth Vietnamese fruit allowed to be sold in the market.

Vietnam has about 5,000 hectares of star apples, mainly in the Mekong Delta province of Tien Giang (3,100 hectares) and Can Tho city (1,200 hectares). Fruit productivity is about 18-22 tonnes per hectare. Total annual output exceeds 60,000 tonnes.

Van Phong petroleum bonded warehouse expects no losses in 2018
The Van Phong petroleum bonded warehouse in Khanh Hoa Province expects to not have accumulated losses, returning to normal business in 2018, according to an official of the National Petroleum Group (Petrolimex).

Petrolimex chief accountant Luu Van Tuyen said in 2017, Van Phong petroleum bonded warehouse achieved pre-tax profit of VND160 billion. However, according to the monitoring report of Petrolimex, the warehouse has currently experienced accumulated losses of some VND120-130 billion after minusing net profit of 2017.

Tuyen said with the positive prospects for the warehouse business next year, it expects to not incur accumulated losses in 2018.

Tuyen said at present, Petrolimex has increased its shares at the Van Phong Petroleum Bonded Warehouse Joint Stock Company to 85 per cent from 51.4 per cent after Petrolimex Singapore Pte Ltd transferred its capital amounting to $14 million at the warehouse company to Petrolimex.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade approved this transaction under current regulations.

The Van Phong petroleum bonded warehouse began operations in June 2012 with total investment capital of $125 million and total capacity of 505,000cu.m.

However, according to Petrolimex, in 2012 alone, Van Phong Petroleum Bonded Joint Stock Company suffered a loss of VND170 billion. Since it was a new warehouse, the leasing did not reach the designed capacity. Leased capacity reached 20 per cent in 2013 and 43 per cent in the first half of 2014.

Auto market posts slow growth

Vietnam Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (VAMA) reported that auto market sales in November reached 24,752 products, up 13 percent over the previous month after many consecutive months of reduction.

The sales hit 244,670 automobiles during the first 11 months this year, down 10 percent over the same period last year. Of these, passenger cars dropped 12 percent, commercial automobiles slid 5 percent and specialized vehicles fell 15 percent.
During the 11 months, the sales of domestically assembled products reduced 19 percent while import items increased 9 percent.
Automakers’ price cut by tens to hundreds of million dong stimulated demand in November, experts said.
VAMA forecast that it is infeasible for auto consumption to post a year on year increase of 10 percent in 2017 because the year 2017 will end in only a week.

Garment, textile export turnover expected to reach $31 billion

HCMC Textile, Garment, Embroidery and Knitting Association (AGTEX) forecast that the industry’s export turnover will reach US$5.27 billion in November and December and $31 billion this year, a year on year increase of 10.23 percent.

2017 is not an advantageous year but garment and textile has obtained satisfactory growth, said the association.
Besides traditional markets such the US, the EU, Japan and South KoreaChina, Russia and Cambodia have posted good growth rates.
Export items have been diversified with high added value products including cloths, fiber and materials.
At present, businesses are sprinting to complete signed contracts and set plans. In addition, many large firms have got orders for the first quarter of next year.
AGTEX forecast that 2018 will be better than 2017 for the garment and textile industry with growth rate remaining at two digit numbers.

Pineapple price falls, farmers filled with despair

Pineapple farmers in the Mekong delta are filled with despair because fruit price dropped drastically

The Mekong delta province of Tien Giang, the biggest pineapple area in the region, has expanded the growing land of pineapples in Tan Phuoc district to 16,000 hectares, and is expecting to produce over 260,,000 tons annually for domestic consumption and export.
However, this year, fruit price dropped sharply. Farmer Dang Van Hoa who works in 20 hectares of the fruit in My Phuoc commune looked unhappy because traders proposed buying a ripe first-grade pineapple at VND4,000 - 4,500 while the second-grade and third-grade at VND2,000 - 2,500 and VND1,500 a fruit. With such price, farmers almost have made no profit.
Farmers in districts Go Quao, Vinh Thuan and U Minh Thuong in Kien Giang Province also moan about the miseries of falling price.
Head of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in VInh Thuan District Vo Hoang Nguyen said before the district grows the fruit in the area of over 5,000 hectare yet because of its fluctuating price plus fields of pineapple are not invested by enterprises any more, farmers chopped down the fruit to grow other tree or raise shrimp.
At present, the district has approximately 1,500 hectare of fruit; worse, the area is predicted to shrink if the price continues falling.
Cau Duc pineapple in Hau Giang Province is well-known nationwide yet farmers here also suffered the same fate when price is down drastically. People’s Committee in Hoa Tien commune said farmers grow pineapple in 1,000 hectare accounting for 75 percent of its total agricultural land. The commune’s pineapple farm is the biggest one in the province.
For years, the fruit is the major tree in Hoa Tien Commune; accordingly, residents’ earnings is affected seriously when the fruit price is down.
Explained the falling price, trader Nguyen Van Lam blamed for bumper harvest in the Mekong delta while demand of domestic consumption and export is not high resulting in low price. The supply exceeds the demand. Before, farmers can make profit of VND30 - 50 million a hectare per year, they can not make the same this year even some suffered loss, Lam said.
Deputy director of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in Hau Giang Le Van Doi said the province has 1,800 hectare of pineapple-growing land. Experts warned farmers to apply technique to avoid mass harvest at the same time to curb dropping price. Furthermore, authority encouraged farmers to join in cooperative which firms invest in infrastructure and buy all products.
Thanh Thang Cooperative in Hoa Tien Commune with 75 members cultivates in the area of 160 hectare supply 3,000 tons annually to the market. Participation in cooperative is inevitable trend in the future for farmers.

Vietnam needs VND9-15 trillion to develop dry port system

Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung has signed a decision to adjust Vietnam’s dry port system plan in which the country needs VND9-15 trillion (US$397-661.48 million) to develop dry ports by 2020.

According to the plan, the northern region will build dry ports in coastal economic areas; Hanoi-Lao Cai, Hanoi-Lang Son and Hanoi-Thai Nguyen-Cao Bang economic corridors; Northwest and Southeast Hanoi economic areas.

Central region and Central Highlands will build six works in Road 9, 8 and 12A economic corridors; Da Nang-Thua Thien Hue, Road 14 and Nghi Son economic areas and the Central Highlands.

The southern region will implement the plan in Northeast and Southwest HCMC economic areas and the Mekong Delta.

No quality tests for polluting diesel autos

Vietnam Register will not conduct quality tests on diesel-fueled automobiles if they fail to meet emissions requirements as provided in the Prime Minister’s Decision 49/2011/QD-TTg as from next year, Hai Quan newspaper reports.

The agency has recently told auto manufacturers, assemblers and importers to strictly observe the roadmap for sticking with the auto emissions standards in Decision 49.

Enterprises have to review all plans to manufacture, assemble and import diesel autos that meet Euro 2 emissions standards and ensure their plans to be done before the year-end.

As the Ministry of Transport reviewed earlier, as of this month, there are 47 enterprises continuing with plans to import and manufacture Euro 2 diesel autos.

To ensure the effective implementation of the roadmap concerning Euro 4 emissions standards, Vietnam Register has been asked to examine the operation plan of each and every firm, report auto quality testing results to the ministry before the end of each month, propose solutions and simplify procedures so that enterprises can market their products before December 31.

Forthcoming Labor Code amendments help cut business costs

Forthcoming amendments to the Labor Code will help reduce business costs but still guarantee the rights of employees, heard a conference in Hanoi City on December 21.

Vu Tien Loc, president of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), was cited by An Ninh Thu Do news website ( as saying that creating new jobs is a decisive factor behind economic growth.

Micro, small and medium enterprises play a crucial role in job creations, he noted. Vietnam has around 120,000 startups a year, with each hiring 10 people, and this means they generate 1.2 million new jobs. That is not to mention the companies that expand operations also increase employment.

A survey by VCCI shows around 70% of local enterprises intend to expand production in the coming time. Therefore, the annual target for 1.8 million new jobs is attainable.

Tran Thi Lan Anh, director of VCCI’s Bureau of Employer Activities, said the upcoming amendments to the Labor Code aim to protect the fundamental rights and responsibilities of citizens in the fields of labor, labor relations and labor markets by institutionalizing the provisions of the 2013 Constitution.

Labor Code revisions, if any, should allow employers to terminate labor contracts unilaterally if their employees are absent from work for more than five days without proper reasons. The code should also recognize the textile and apparel industry as a labor sub-leasing one, according to a representative of the Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association.

The association proposed increasing overtime hours to no more than four hours a day, and no more than 400 hours a year.

Mai Duc Thien, deputy head of the Department of Legal Affairs, said the Ministry of Labor, Invalid and Social Affairs would submit draft Labor Code revisions to the National Assembly in 2019.

Cash payments targeted at below 10% in 2020

The proportion of cash payments in all transactions is to be brought down to below 10% as per the non-cash payment scheme towards 2020 announced by the Government, Thanh Nien newspaper reports.

The entire market will have at least 300,000 POS terminals with the number of transactions to reach 200 million a year. All supermarkets, shopping malls, modern distribution facilities and State Treasury offices will be equipped with POS terminals.

As shown in a report of the central bank, the ratio of cash to total means of payment dropped from 19.02% in 2005 to 14.02% in 2010 and 11.45% last August. Thus, the target to reduce it to less than 10% looks achievable.

In addition, the use of bank cards is on the rise, with stable growth in card issues, volumes and transaction values. As of last September, the accumulated number of cards exceeded 127 million (up 5.5 million cards against last June), while there were 17,396 automated teller machines (ATM) and 260,187 POS terminals nationwide. The market has 76 suppliers of payment service via the Internet and 39 suppliers of mobile payment.

Some regulations to become effective in the coming time require payments via bank accounts such as the central bank’s draft document concerning capital disbursement at credit institutions.

But in reality, some enterprises still shy themselves away from bank transfer due to transfer costs. As for restaurants and shops, they are not yet interested in having POS terminals due to the fact that they have to pay a fee of 1.5-2.5%.

According to financial experts, there should be policies encouraging non-cash payments, especially low card and POS fees for both users and those accepting cards.

Bui Quang Tin, a financial expert, was cited by Thanh Nien newspaper as saying that the target of having cash payment below 10% of total payments in 2020 is attainable thanks to increasing numbers of POS terminals and ATMs. However, certain individuals and enterprises do not want to make payments via banks for fear of having their information known to management units.

The use of cash out of total payments in Southeast Asian countries ranges between 11% and 17%. Meanwhile, a much lower proportion is recorded in European countries, such as below 1% in Sweden and Norway.

Seafood exports grow sharply

Vietnam had exported US$7.6 billion worth of seafood in the year to end-November, up 18.9% over the same period last year, Nguoi Lao Dong newspaper quoted a report of the General Department of Vietnam Customs.

Although the U.S. market posted a mild decline of 1.7%, four other large markets, namely the EU, Japan, China and South Korea, registered growth of over 20%. Therefore, total export turnover of seafood may exceed US$8 billion in all of this year.

Last year, China spent US$860 million importing seafood from Vietnam, but the number surged to more than US$1 billion in January-November this year, making China one of Vietnam’s seafood importers with turnover of over US$1 billion. Among other major markets were the U.S. with US$1.3 billion, the EU with US$1.25 billion and Japan with US$1.19 billion.

Tran Van Linh, chairman of Thuan Phuoc Seafood and Trading JSC, said China’s demand has surged, offering more opportunities for local exporters when Vietnamese tra fish exports to traditional markets such as the U.S. and the EU have faced difficulties.

Despite many obstacles in traditional markets, Vietnam can generate US$1.8 billion from tra fish exports, and the robust growth is mainly attributed to more shipments to the Chinese market.

Hang Van, deputy director of Truong Giang Seafood JSC, said China is Vietnam’s biggest tra fish buyer now with a market share of 23%. Tra fish price is forecast to remain high in the next three months as the neighboring country has high demand for the product.

According to the Export-Import Department under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, seafood shipments via Mong Cai border gate have increased significantly as exporters are shipping high-quality products to China to meet the demand of Chinese consumers at the end of the year.

However, some Chinese traders have bought poor quality seafood from Vietnam and supplied to their market with fake certificates, negatively affecting Vietnamese seafood exporters’ prestige. Therefore, authorities should take measures to tackle the problem, ensuring the sustainable development of the sector.

Material tra fish price has hit a record high of VND28,500-29,000 a kilogram, resulting in a profit of VND5,000 per kilogram for farmers.

Meanwhile, prices of tiger and white-legged shrimp in Ca Mau Province, which is the country’s largest shrimp producer, have increased considerably since early September to VND210,000-215,000 (US$9.25-9.47) and VND104,000-105,000 per kilogram respectively.

Besides, the shrimp farming area has also expanded, leading to high seafood output to supply processing plants and higher income for farmers.

Ngo Thanh Linh, general secretary of the Ca Mau Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (CASEP), said most shrimp processing plants in the province are in dire need of material as farmers could meet only 40-50% of the demand. Due to high prices, enterprises find it hard to import material shrimp from other countries.

As of November, Vietnam had exported nearly US$3.5 billion worth of shrimp, up nearly 22% year-on-year. The figure may reach US$3.8 billion this year, rising 20% over last year.

Vietnamese shrimp exports to the EU have grown nearly 22% this year as shrimp of India, which ships a large volume of the product to the bloc, was found contaminated with banned antibiotics, said Tran Van Linh.

Management of consumer finance companies to be tightened

The State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) will closely monitor and inspect the operation of consumer finance companies to ensure a transparent and healthy consumer credit market.

Data of SBV shows consumer credit has grown strongly in Vietnam in recent years. The total amount of consumer credit has seen a six-fold increase since 2011 to VND960 trillion (about US$42.3 billion), accounting for 15.7% of total outstanding loans, Thanh Nien newspaper reports.

For finance companies alone, the total amount of consumer credit has increased 10 times since 2011 to VND74 trillion, making consumer credit the fastest growing segment with average outstanding loan growth rate of 40% per annum in the last three years.

According to a report of the National Financial Supervisory Commission, consumer loans will maintain the high growth momentum in the coming time. The country’s total outstanding consumer loans in the year to end-November had soared by an estimated 59% compared to end-2016.

Loans for purchasing and repairing apartments, and transferring residential land account for 52.9% of the total, up from 49.5% against late last year. Loans for buying home appliances make up 15.3% while car loans account for 8.3%.

At present, there are 16 consumer finance companies in Vietnam, including dominant players such as FE Credit and Home Credit.

Nguyen Tri Hieu, an economic specialist, said foreign investors have boosted investment into consumer credit in Vietnam. Therefore, SBV has decided to closely monitor consumer finance companies to ensure that they operate properly and comply with law.

SBV urged to amend regulations to back real estate market

The HCMC Real Estate Association (HoREA) has written to the State Bank of Vietnam proposing the issuance of new regulations and amending the current rules to support real estate market growth, according to Dau Thau newspaper.

HoREA petitioned SBV to amend Circular 36/2014/TT-NHNN and Circular 06/2016/TT-NHNN in a way that allows credit institutions and branches of foreign banks to continue using parts of their short-term deposits to make long-term loans for homebuyers and developers.

HoREA put forth two proposals.

In the first proposal, the central bank is asked to continue allowing credit institutions and branches of foreign banks to use 50% of their short-term funds for making medium and long-term loans next year. The policy will help support the growth of the economy as well as the property market.

As for the second proposal, HoREA agreed with a maximum ratio of 45% of short-term funds being used as medium and long-term loans between January 1 and December 31 next year stated in a draft circular amending and supplementing Circular 36/2014/TT-NHNN.

Besides, HoREA made proposals relating to the implementation of supporting policies for those purchasing affordable commercial and social housing.

HoREA proposed SBV launch housing credit packages to support buyers of social and commercial houses valued at some VND1 billion each according to Resolution 46/NQ-CP of the Government.

The central bank should allocate VND1 trillion to four credit institutions, namely Vietcombank, Vietinbank, Agribank and BIDV, to offer preferential loans for customers in need of social houses.

HoREA also proposed the National Assembly, the Government and SBV annually offer credit lines totaling VND1-2 trillion until 2020 for buyers of social houses with an annual interest rate of 4.8%.

The plan should be implemented by Vietnam Bank for Social Policies and four above-mentioned banks to effectively implement social housing policies.

In addition, incentives should be offered for investors of social housing projects in line with the Housing Law, especially social houses for rent, to reduce costs of such homes.

Banking stocks to drive market higher, experts say

Most bank stocks are entering a short-term correction after their recent strong rallies, but securities experts still expect such securities to continue advancing in the first months of 2018.

Nguyen Hong Khanh, head of analysis at Sacombank Securities Company (SBS), said on website that the market has resumed its uptrend. After the correction, the VN-Index is poised to rise to new highs again.

Notably, the market saw no negative impact from recent quarterly rebalancing by exchange traded funds and the U.S. Federal Reserve’s interest rate hike.

However, Tran Anh Tuan from Vietcombank Securities Company (VCBS) said the VN-Index would miss the 1,000-point level in the last week of 2017. Though the main index still sees a positive outlook in the short term, the market will be obstructed by poor cash flow.

Securities enterprises may fail to improve margin lending as large banks have met their credit growth targets. However, in the first quarter of 2018, the main index is expected to beat new highs as listed firms will announce their 2017 financial reports and banks will continue boosting lending activities, Tuan said.

The VN-Index traded in the green for almost the entire session last Friday, closing up 0.66%. After starting on Monday with the best day of the year, up 2.5%, trading during the rest of the week was choppy, with the index up 1.9% for the week, breaking a two-week losing streak.

Lender VCB jumped to a record high, extending a 15% surge over the last seven days amid investor speculation the bank will announce strong earnings in the last quarter.

According to Khanh from SBS, the banking sector reports the biggest market capitalization on the stock market and causes significant impact on the economy. More banks are going to list on the market next year while their operations will be strengthened to meet higher standards and deal with bad debts.

Besides, bank stocks are attractive to both foreign and domestic investors. Though many lenders have increased sharply, banks remain the key drivers in the upcoming index rises early next year, the expert said.

According to Tuan from VCBS, the banking sector has made positive contributions to the recent rallies. In 2018, bank stocks will be shining thanks to better credit growths, focusing on the retail segment.

Furthermore, the bad debt handling process will go smoothly given supportive policies from the Government and the State Bank of Vietnam. The banking system is projected to run healthy operations and make quality growth in the future, Tuan said.

Can Tho builds industrial park for Japanese investors

The Vietnam-Japan Friendship Industrial Park is being built in the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho to serve Japanese enterprises operating in the city.

The industrial park is in fact a section covering 43 hectares inside Hung Phu 1 Industrial Park in Cai Rang District six kilometers from the city center. It is developed by Can Tho City’s Development Investment Fund (Cadif).

The developer has completed construction of Cadif-Hung Phu 1 tenement with 170 apartments some four kilometers from the industrial park to provide accommodation to Japanese experts.

Can Tho Chairman Vo Thanh Thong and Abe Masayuki, director of the Vietnam Agricultural Information Centre (VAIO), last weekend visited the industrial park.

Abe Masayuki said the industrial park is suitable to mechanical engineering, precision engineering, and electronic projects. He proposed the investor divide the land into smaller lots corresponding to the diverse scales of Japanese firms, and build some model factories to serve the immediate operations of some enterprises.

Can Tho Chairman Thong asked Cadif to quickly complete the construction of infrastructure facilities to put the industrial park into operation in April next year.

According to statistics of the Foreign Investment Agency under the Ministry of Planning and Investment, the Mekong Delta has attracted more than 170 foreign direct investment (FDI) projects, but only six projects worth US$12 million have been licensed in Can Tho. However, more Japanese investors have come to sound out opportunities in the city, so the city has launched Japan Desk, a service to assist current and potential Japanese investors.

New FDI approvals highest since 2009

Fresh foreign direct investment (FDI) approvals in Vietnam this year have hit US$35.88 billion, a rise of 44.4% and the highest since 2009, according to the Ministry of Planning and Investment’s Foreign Investment Agency.

As of December 20, Vietnam had licensed 2,591 new projects whose combined capital is US$21.27 billion, picking up 42.3% year-on-year. Besides, as many as 1,188 projects obtained approval to revise up their investment capital with an additional US$8.41 billion, up 49.2%, and 5,002 deals of capital contribution including mergers and acquisitions with foreign investors’ involvement with a total value of US$6.19 billion, up 45.1%.

Such figures are not the final ones, as certain deals might have not been updated. For example, the transfer of a huge stake of Sabeco to a company with Thailand’s involvement worth US$4.8 billion has not been included in the data provided by the Foreign Investment Agency.

As the ministry estimated, FDI projects have disbursed US$17.5 billion in the year, the highest ever.

Of the 19 areas that foreign investors have invested in, the processing-manufacturing sector attracts the largest amount with US$15.87 billion, accounting for 44.2% of total registered capital. It is followed by electricity production and distribution with US$8.37 billion (23.3%) and real estate with US$3.05 billion (8.5%).

Foreign investors in Vietnam come from 115 countries and territories. Japan has ranked first when registering US$9.11 billion (25.4%), South Korea second with US$8.49 billion (23.7%) and Singapore third with US$5.3 billion (14.8%).

FDI capital has been injected into 59 provinces and cities nationwide. However, HCMC has made up the highest proportion of registered capital, 18.1% and US$6.5 billion. Other localities with large FDI pledges are Bac Ninh with US$3.4 billion (9.5%) and Thanh Hoa with US$3.17 billion (8.8%).

Among the major projects licensed this year is the Japan-invested BOT Nghi Son 2 thermal power plant worth US$2.79 billion in Thanh Hoa Province.

Other BOT thermal plants getting approved are Van Phong 1 in Khanh Hoa Province having registered capital of US$2.58 billion and Nam Dinh 1 in Nam Dinh Province worth US$2.07 billion. The two projects are invested by Japanese and Singaporean investors respectively.

In addition, Samsung Display Vietnam adjusted up its investment in Bac Ninh Province by US$2.5 billion.

HCMC raises VND2 trillion from bond issue

The HCMC government has raised VND2 trillion (US$88.07 million) from a municipal bond issue to fund its urgent infrastructure development projects, Tuoi Tre newspaper reports.

The city has successfully issued 20-year bonds with an annual coupon of 6.5%. Bonds with a tenor of 15 years came with an annual interest rate of 6.35%.

A representative of HCMC Finance and Investment Company (HFIC), which conducted the bond auction, hailed the 20-year bond issuance as this was the first time the city had successfully sold such debt.

Principles will be paid once when the bonds fall due while interest will be paid annually. If bond holders do not receive interest punctually, the amount will be reserved excluding compound interest.

At the most recent National Assembly session in Hanoi, the Ministry of Finance said HCMC’s outstanding loans are estimated at VND22 trillion as of December 31, equivalent to 40% of the permitted level.

If the level is raised to over 90%, the city’s total outstanding loans would be VND70 trillion next year, up VND15.7 trillion, or 0.3% of gross domestic product (GDP).

The city government has proposed relevant ministries allocate official development assistance (ODA) loans from the State budget for its projects this year and next, and support investors to complete necessary procedures to speed up disbursements of ODA and preferential loans.

The city also asked for more capital for the Ben Thanh-Suoi Tien metro line, and the second phase of a project to improve the water environment in the basin of Tau Hu-Ben Nghe-Doi-Te canal and the city’s environmental hygiene project.

The city also urged ministries to ask the Government for permission to adjust the Ben Thanh-Suoi Tien urban railway project, officially known as Metro Line No. 1.

Eight BOT highway projects require over VND104 trillion

The Ministry of Transport has announced a list of eight build-operate-transfer (BOT) projects to construct the North-South Highway in the east in the 2017-2020 period, with a total investment of over VND104 trillion (US$4.57 billion).

The eight projects include the Mai Son - National Highway 45, National Highway 45 - Nghi Son, Nghi Son - Dien Chau, Dien Chau - Bai Vot, Nha Trang - Cam Lam, Cam Lam - Vinh Hao, Vinh Hao - Phan Thiet, and Phan Thiet - Dong Nai.

The total investment of the eight projects is estimated at over VND104 trillion, including over VND40.3 trillion funded by the State budget in order to conduct land clearance and the resettlement of affected households.

The project on building the 106km of Vinh Hao - Phan Thiet segment is expected to require the highest investment at over VND19.6 trillion, including VND8 trillion worth of State budget, while the Nha Trang - Cam Lam project with a total length of 29km is estimated to need the lowest investment at over VND5.1 trillion.

According to the Ministry of Transport, it is an urgent need to invest in these projects to meet the increasing transport demand of the related localities and to connect key national economic regions.

The report on the feasibility study of these projects is being completed and these projects are scheduled to be finished in 2021.