BUSINESS IN BRIEF 26/3
Danang hi-tech park attracts nearly US$160 million investments
The Danang Hi-Tech Park has licensed seven projects with total investments of nearly US$160 million, according to the management board.
These projects belong to both domestic and foreign investors like Danapha (US$68 million), Tokyo Keiki (US$40 million), and Niwa Foundry (US$30 million).
Doan Ngoc Hung Anh, deputy head of the management board, said the board is positively promoting the park to businesses from Japan and the Republic of Korea in order to attract more foreign investments in the coming time.
A meeting was held with businesses operating in the park on March 21 to get their comments and help them remove obstacles in their production and trading process.
Mr Hung Anh said the board pledged to create the best possible conditions for investors to operate effectively.
We have proposed the Municipal Department of Transport opening a BRT linking the city’s centre to the park to facilitate workers’ travelling, said Mr Hung Anh.
HCM City, World Bank cooperate to improve local life quality
The southern metropolis of Ho Chi Minh City and the World Bank have agreed to shake hands to improve the quality of life for the city dwellers.
The agreement was reached by Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee Nguyen Thanh Phong and Chief Executive Officer of the World Bank Kristalina Georgieva during their meeting in the city on March 24 morning.
Phong thanked the bank for supporting the city to carry out projects to address such major issues as environment pollution, climate change adaptation, and local living standard improvement.
The city’s authorities pledged to make effective use of the WB loans and closely work with the bank to implement the aforesaid projects for the sake of the people, he said.
He expressed his belief that the WB in Vietnam will continue its active role in developing the bilateral sound relations.
The Chairman pledged to direct competent agencies to ensure the progress of projects, including the second phrase of the environmental sanitation project, and the flood risk management project.
He proposed the WB provide financial assistance for the city to implement environmental and urban projects, including the construction of the metro line No.6 and the canal reclamation in District 8.
Kristalina Georgieva said she wants to push ahead with cooperation with HCM City to address difficulties in urban development, particularly climate change adaptation and transport infrastructure improvement.
She took note of the city’s proposals and affirmed the WB’s capacity and readiness to support HCM City to realize significant projects to increase its competitive edge and position, thus bringing a better life for local residents.
The two sides will seek new and more effective cooperation methods for technical assistance, development project supervision, and the improvement of human resources for project and urban governance, she added.
New sails for ASEAN-China trade
The first ship carrying fruits from ASEAN countries docked at the Fangcheng Gang Port in South China’s Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region on Monday, marking the opening of a new shipping route for transporting fruit between China and the regional bloc.
The route, running from HCM City in Viet Nam to Guangxi Zhuang, is operated by four ships of the Chinese COSCO Shipping Corporation, a State-owned enterprise based in Shanghai. Each ship can carry 1,100 standard containers.
Currently just one ship sails on the route each week, but this is set to increase to two or three times by the end of this year.
The new route is expected to increase fruit exports from ASEAN countries to China, and facilitate China’s export of farm produce and fruit to the ASEAN market.
From the Fangcheng Gang Port in southern Guangxi Province, which borders Viet Nam, the fruit will be transported via rail or road to wholesale farm produce markets in major cities like Beijing and Shanghai.
In an article posted on the freshplaza.com website last month, Shihe Sun, director of the Guangxi Inspection and Quarantine Bureau, was quoted as saying the province had become a main channel for fruit trade with ASEAN countries.
The province imported 920,100 tonnes of fruit worth $515 million in 2016.
Sun said Guangxi had good transport connections with Viet Nam, making it one of the most convenient channels between China and the ASEAN market. The province has opened the Pingxiang land port, the Guilin airport and the Fangcheng Gang waterway to facilitate the export and import of fruits.
According to the General Department of Customs, Viet Nam earned $309.9 million from the export of vegetables and fruit to China in the first two months of this year, a year-on-year increase of 31 per cent. China accounts for 73.6 per cent of Viet Nam’s total export value of vegetables and fruit.
Viet Nam has imported fruit and vegetables worth $31 million from China during the period, accounting for 19 per cent of its total vegetable and fruit imports.
The volume of Chinese fruit exports is expected to increase rapidly as Viet Nam implements its commitment of zero per cent tariffs under the ASEAN-China Free Trade Agreement.
Under the commitment, Viet Nam will abolish taxes or reduce it to zero per cent for 90 per cent of existing tariff lines by the end of 2018, while the remaining 10 per cent will see further reductions by 2020.
Quang Nam’s six-sector plan for 2025 soars
The central province of Quang Nam has set a target for the provincial GDP in 2025 to be 46 per cent generated by industry and construction and 47.5 per cent generated by services. To achieve the target, local authorities have made a detailed plan, spread over six targeted sectors.
The plan is based on Quang Nam’s study on the coastal backbone route stretching from Cua Dai Bridge in Hoi An to Chu Lai Open Economic Zone in Nui Thanh district.
According to Le Tri Thanh, Vice Chairman of the Quang Nam People’s Committee, the plan has been thoroughly prepared, with key projects clearly indicated. Various sectors on the rise are mentioned, including the automobile industry, gas-to-power generation, the tourism and service sector, textile and garments, social welfare and living standard improvement for coastal people, and marine safety.
In terms of urban and service development, the Hoiana project will be the core, with direct influence over the four communes of Duy Nghia, Duy Hai, Binh Minh, and Binh Duong in Duy Xuyen and Thang Binh districts.
In order to boost the automobile industry and supporting industries, Truong Hai Auto Corporation is expected to be the key driving force. It has so far had positive spillover effects on the local industry, helping Quang Nam to become the automobile hub of the country.
Textile and related supporting industries will be invested in line with the urban development of Tam Ky.
Do Xuan Dien, director of the Chu Lai Open Economic Zone Management Authority, has said that these industries need to enhance their international competitiveness, starting with Tam Thang Industrial Zone (IZ). Already, Tam Thang IZ has welcomed South Korea’s Panko to build a textile and garment facility there.
Industry and service sectors will be developed in line with Chu Lai International Airport, which is set to become a transit hub for Southeast Asia. The Chu Lai International Airport expansion has so far drawn the attention of big investors like Vietjet and Thien Tan Group.
Key projects of gas-to-power and a new treatment plant for natural gas extracted from the Blue Whale gas field are being developed on a total area of 1,000 hectares by state-run PetroVietnam Exploration Production Corporation (PVEP) and US firm ExxonMobil.
Last but not least, projects to upgrade fishing ports and anchorage areas in the south-east of the province also need promotion in order to bring more job opportunities and anchor shelters in place for the coastal people of Quang Nam and surrounding localities.
Dinh Van Thu, Chairman of the Quang Nam People’s Committee, said that these six targeted sectors have been identified based on the existing potential and advantages of the province in terms of its location, infrastructure, and policies to attract investment. These concentrations also reflect the development policies of Chu Lai Open Economic Zone, which have been approved by the Vietnamese government.
Most importantly, Chu Lai Open Economic Zone has been home to key projects which play an important role in the development of the central region, including the Hoiana project; Everland; Tam Thang IZ in Tam Ky; the project to develop the automobile industry and supporting industries at Tam Hiep and Tam Anh in Nui Thanh district; and the project to construct a gas treatment plant and a gas-fired power plant in Tam Quang of Nui Thanh district.
According to Dien, with these key sectors, Quang Nam will have a great chance to create more jobs for local workers and diversify various types of services. The blueprint will also provide an opportunity to lure investors.
Dien added that to create more room for the development to the east of Quang Nam and Chu Lai Open Economic Zone, the Quang Nam People’s Committee has adjusted its master plan to allocate 1,500ha for future growth. This increases the province’s total area for development space to 45,000ha, including Chu Lai Open Economic Zone and residential developments along 25 coastal communes, wards, and towns.
Thus, in order to successfully implement these key projects, local authorities and the Chu Lai Open Economic Zone Management Authority will strengthen the management as well as prioritise site clearance to allocate a land fund for investment attraction. In addition, local authorities also pledged to
effectively support investors in administrative procedures. Meanwhile, investment funds for infrastructure development will be diversified.
Vietnam suspends meat imports from Brazil
Vietnam has suspended the imports of meat, livestock and poultry products from 21 factories of Brazil which are suspected of containing unhygienic substances.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) issued a decision to temporarily halt the imports on March 23, asking the Department of Animal Health to closely supervise the imports from Brazil before March 23 and notify authorities if products from those factories are found to contain any irregular properties.
The department was also requested to send an official notice of the decision to Brazil’s authorized agencies.
It will also be responsible for verifying whether Brazil can ensure the hygiene of the products and then report to the MARD.
Vietnam has imported about 3,000 tonnes of meat and meat products from Brazil since the beginning of 2017, which is relatively small compared to nearly 6 million tonnes of meat that the South American country ships abroad every year.
Before entering Vietnam, all meat from Brazil is kept at ports and tested. Only qualified meat is permitted to be sold in the country, the Department of Animal Health said on March 22.
Regarding the Brazilian meat already imported into Vietnam, some large supermarkets such as Big C and Saigon Co.op confirmed that they do not sell beef or chicken products sourced from Brazil.
Reasonable interest rates required for VND100 trillion credit for hi-tech agriculture
Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue has requested the banking system cut costs to reduce interest rates of the VND100 trillion credit package for enterprises committed to hi-tech agriculture projects by 0.5-1.5% compared to normal rates.
The Deputy PM made the requirement at a working session with ministries and sectors in Hanoi on March 23 to discuss the implementation of Government Resolution No.30/2017/NQ-CP issued on March 7, 2017 for the VND100 trillion (US$4.4 billion) commercial credit package for enterprises involved in hi-tech agricultural production.
He affirmed the significance of the credit package for clean and hi-tech agriculture projects amid the stagnant growth of the agricultural sector, saying that the package has received support from the enterprise community and the public.
The government asked the State Bank to issue guidelines for commercial banks to effectively carry out the credit package as approved by the government.
Deputy PM Hue also told the State Bank to consider the expansion of collateral assets in terms of hi-tech agricultural mortgages through effective business plans, assets formed through the investment process, or trust loans.
He noted that the credit package is a commercial credit package with 0.5-1.5% interest rates lower than standard rates funded by capital from commercial sources but not by subsidies of the government.
Several commercial banks have already provided loans worth around VND3,700 billion (US$162.8 million) for 25 enterprises involved in hi-tech agriculture projects licensed by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
The Deputy PM pointed out several issues that must be addressed to effectively implement the credit package including specific objects and the scope of the package, ownership certificates for assets on agricultural land, and the mortgage process, among others.
FDI capital strongly increases in March
Foreign direct investment (FDI) capital to Vietnam is expected to reach US$7.71 billion in the first quarter this year, double the number in the first two months and up 91.5 percent over the same period last year, reported the Foreign Investment Agency under the Ministry of Planning and Investment.
As of March 20, the country has licensed 493 new projects with the registered capital of $2.9 billion, up 6.5 percent compared to the same period last year.
In addition, 223 projects added capital with the total funds of $3.94 billion, a year on year increase of 206.4 percent. There were 1,077 deals of capital contribution and share purchase by foreign investors with the total value of $852.86 million, up 171.5 percent over the same period in 2016.
The high increase in March has been contributed by many large scale projects granted with investment certification. Of them is Samsung Display expansion in the northern province of Bac Ninh with the additional capital of $2.5 billion.
In addition, Taiwanese investor registered to increase investment funds at Polytex Far Eastern Company by $485.8 million and Coca-Cola Vietnam supplemented $319.8 million in Hanoi.
Newly licensed projects include $284.75 million Vietnam Singapore III Industrial Park in Binh Duong, $269.54 million Tole Panel Plant in Binh Phuoc and $220 million KVT-1 tire fiber project of Kolon Industries Inc.
The project of Samsung Display has made Bac Ninh the largest FDI attraction province this year with the total capital of $2.61 billion, accounting for 33.86 percent of FDI capital to Vietnam.
Binh Duong is ranked second with the registered capital of $1.39 million, making up 18.04 percent and HCMC ranked third with $600 million accounting for 7.78 percent.
As of March 20, FDI projects have disbursed $3.62 billion, up 3.4 percent over 2016.
Manufacturing sector accounts for 84.9 percent of Q1’s FDI
Vietnam’s manufacturing sector has proven a magnet for foreign direct investment in the first quarter, absorbing 6.54 billion USD, which accounted for 84.9 percent of total registered capital in the period, according to the Foreign Investment Agency (FIA) under the Ministry of Planning and Investment.
Economic experts said that Vietnam needs to research and create favourable conditions for foreign direct investment (FDI) businesses to improve the quality and value of manufactured products.
In addition, FDI enterprises should be encouraged to enlarge investment scale, renovate technology and diversify investment goals to meet legal regulations on foreign investment as well as manufacturing development planning.
Real estate came in second in FDI attraction with nearly 344 million USD, making up of 4.4 percent of total capital, followed by whole sales and retail sale with 296.8 million USD.
The FIA reported that by March 20, investment licenses were licensed to 493 projects with a total registered capital of 2.9 billion VND, a year-on-year increase of 6.5 percent.
Meanwhile, 223 operating projects added 3.94 billion USD in capital, up more than 206 percent from the same period last year. There were also 1,077 deals of capital contribution and share purchase by foreign investors with a total value of nearly 853 million USD, a year-on-year surge of 171.5 percent.
As such, total FDI capital poured into the country was estimated at 7.71 billion USD, increasing 91.5 percent over the same time last year.
Exports of the foreign-invested sector in the reviewed period (including crude oil) reached over 31.4 billion USD, up 13 percent from the same period in 2016 and accounting for 71.8 percent of total exports.
Among 71 countries and territories investing in Vietnam, the Republic of Korea is the country’s largest investor with 3.74 billion USD, accounting for 48.61 percent of total investment capital. It was followed by Singapore with 911 million USD and China with 823.6 million USD.
Samsung Display Vietnam in northern Bac Ninh province adjusting its capital up by 2.5 billion USD increased the province’s FDI to 2.61 billion USD, or 33.86 percent of the total, making the locality the largest FDI recipient in the period.
Southern Binh Duong province ranked second with a registered capital of 1.39 million USD, or over 18 percent of total foreign investment and Ho Chi Minh came in third with nearly 600 million USD, or 7.78 percent of the total.
Forum looks to tighten Vietnam-Argentina economic links
A forum was held in Buenos Aires on March 23 to give Argentinean businesses an insight into Vietnam’s economy and the two countries’ economic, trade and investment cooperation potential, which is said to remain untapped.
The event was attended by Gustavo Perego – Undersecretary of State at Argentina’s Ministry of Economy and Production, Carlos Restaino – President of the country’s Commission for Integration and Southern Common Market (Mercosur), and representatives of more than 50 Argentinean enterprises.
Opening the forum, Vietnamese Ambassador to Argentina Nguyen Dinh Thao briefed participants on Vietnam’s economic development and incentives for foreign investors. He highlighted the expansion of bilateral cooperation in politics – diplomacy, economy, trade, investment, agriculture, health care, science and technology.
Two-way trade has increased significantly over the past few years, reaching 3.03 billion USD in 2016 and expected to hit 3.5 billion USD this year. Along with Mexico and Brazil, Argentina is one of the three Latin American countries posing trade of over 1 billion USD with Vietnam.
However, those results have not yet matched potential, he noted.
In the time ahead, the countries will continue discussing the feasibility of negotiations for the signing of a trade agreement between Vietnam and Mercosur, which gathers Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Venezuela. They will also step up collaboration in culture, agriculture, bio-technology, forensic medicine, telecommunications, energy, and pharmaceuticals, he added.
Carlos Restaino analysed the enormous potential for economic, trade and investment partnerships between the countries’ businesses amid growing political relations.
He stressed that Vietnam is a prioritised market in his country’s export diversification and expansion strategy. It is also one of the most important trade partners and the third biggest importer of Argentina in Asia.
Argentina’s main exports to Vietnam include soybean oil, corn, wheat, animal feed and pharmaceutical. Meanwhile, it imports footwear, apparel, rubber, electronic components, and plastic products from the Southeast Asian nation.
Solutions sought for 10 bln USD shrimp export plan
A conference was held in the Mekong Delta province of Soc Trang on March 23 to discuss how to realize the 10 billion USD shrimp export target by 2025 as requested by the Prime Minister.
Speaking at the event, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Vu Van Tam directed agencies concerned and localities to keep a close track of weather patterns and epidemic diseases as well as increase output from now on, especially amid the uncertain climate change at present.
Localities should adopt more technological advances in production, with a focus on controlling the quality of fries and spreading effective farming models, he suggested.
The provinces of Ca Mau, Bac Lieu and Soc Trang were asked to increase supervision over the use of antibiotics for shrimp, thereby increasing the staple’s value and expanding markets at home and abroad.
This year, the country strives to breed 700,000ha of shrimp with nearly 130 billion fries for an output of 660,000 tonnes.
To that end, the Directorate of Fisheries outlined four specific measures involving environment monitoring and forecast, and response to drought and saline intrusion; fries quality and production; feed management and bio-produce for shrimp farming; and breeding technical process.
It said though suffering lesser impacts from drought and saline intrusion than in the same period last year, the region is still hit by unseasonal rainfalls and changing temperatures, which partly hurts shrimp breeding.
Statistics showed that the new farming coverage has so far surpassed 536,440ha, mostly prawn (more than 521,000ha) and the remaining 15,000ha is for white leg shrimp farming. The total production is estimated at around 40,000 tonnes this year, an increase of 20 percent year-on-year.
Associate Professor Truong Quoc Phu from Can Tho University proposed developing organic shrimp breeding models and opening centres for shrimp fries research to ease reliance on imported ones, making it easier for the formation of value chains and attract more investments.
Luong Minh Quyet, Director of the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, suggested the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development offer advice on building a Decree on the management of processing, exporting and developing shrimp farming in brackish water.
In order to minimise risks for breeders, he also called attention to relevant agricultural insurance policies and breeders’ access to capital.
Cao Bằng works to improve its PCI ranking
The northern mountainous province of Cao Bang has taken drastic measures to improve its business environment after it ranked at the bottom of 2016’s Provincial Competitiveness Index (PCI).
In the PCI 2016 ranking, the province slipped five positions compared to the previous year.
Hoang Xuan Anh, chairman of the provincial People’s Committee, has asked all departments and sectors to review their working and to promote administrative reforms.
In the past few years, the province has made a lot of efforts to improve its business and investment environment and go up on the PCI.
Last year, it recorded a growth rate of 6.13 per cent, contributing around VND1.4 trillion to the State budget. The rate of poor households in Cao Bang also reduced by 4 per cent. Despite all this, the province’s ranking slipped as it scored poorly on criteria such as unofficial costs (3.34 points), dynamism (3.41 points), equal competition (3.77 points) and land access (4.78 points).
Nguyen Thai Ha, director of the provincial Department of Planning and Investment, said the score was not totally accurate, especially for equal competition.
Of its nearly 2,000 companies, the province has only three State-owned enterprises (SOEs) and four foreign direct investment firms. That’s the reason it could not be said that Cao Bang favoured SOEs, Ha said.
In addition, Cao Bang has always been a poor locality, and thus has limited budget for land clearance for development of industrial parks, Ha explained.
According to the provincial business asociation, PCI survey was conducted on less than half of the total businesses in the province and therefore could not reflect the situation in the province.
Hoang Manh Ngoc, chairman of the provincial Young Entrepreneurs Association, said the PCI ranking reflected a part of the business environment. Cao Bang should have synchronous solutions to improve the role of its administration and its business environment for sustainable development, he suggested. The province should also take steps to make enterprises more aware about the importance of the PCI ranking.
Chairman of the provincial People’s Commitee Anh said improving business environment was an urgent task, adding that in the next PCI ranking, the province aimed to step up by 10 positons.
"We will continue to improve public administrative procedures, increasing transparency and reducing cost and time for people," he said.
All PCI criteria in which the province has scored low would be reviewed and the province would come up with specific solutions and assign responsibility for improvement to specific departments and agencies, Anh said.
HCM City set to host textile, garment industry expo
The Vietnam Saigon Textile and Garment Industry/Fabric and Garment Accessories Expo (Saigon Tex 2017) that will showcase high-end machinery and equipment and feedstock for the textile and garment industry will be held in HCM City next month.
The 35,000sq.m expo is expected to attract nearly 1,200 exhibitors from 23 countries and territories, including Belgium, Canada, China, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, the UK, the US and Viet Nam.
It will also feature several seminars, including on increasing value for Vietnamese textile and garment products, challenges-investment opportunities in the textile and footwear sector and trade barriers from the free trade agreement between the EU and Việt Nam, and today’s global apparel and fashion market.
To be held at the Saigon Exhibition and Convention Centre, Saigon Tex will offer garment companies a gilt-edged chance to foster relations with foreign enterprises and seek investment opportunities while enhancing technology transfer to increase local content in garment products and improving product quality to meet the needs of local and international buyers.
This will enhance the value of Vietnamese garment and textile products, contributing to the development of the industry amid the country’s international integration.
To be organised from April 5 to 8 by the Viet Nam National Textile and Garment Group, VCCI Exhibition Service Co., Ltd, CP Hongkong Exhibition Organisation Co., Ltd and CP Vietnam Exhibition Organisation Co., Ltd, the expo is an annual event that meets the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry standards.
HCM City seeks Israel’s help for start-up incubators
Nguyễn Thành Phong, chairman of HCM City’s People’s Committee, has sought support for setting up business incubators from Israel, which has an established reputation as a start-up nation.
At a meeting with President of Israel Reuven Ruvi Rivlin in HCM City on Thursday, Phong spoke highly of Israel’s technical expertise and management capacity in hi-tech agriculture and other projects underway in the city.
He said he hoped that Israeli businesses would continue partnering with HCM City in areas that are its strengths, such as farming, information technology, tourism and personnel training.
Phong requested Israel to continue offering scholarships to local management officials to improve their skills in agriculture, environment, rural reconstruction, economy and education, among others.
On his part, Rivlin said the agreements signed by the two countries and the upcoming bilateral free trade agreement will lay down an important foundation for their businesses and improve co-operation, raising bilateral ties to a new height.
Talking about his Việt Nam visit, the Israeli leader said the country’s scenic beauty will inspire Israeli youngsters to come to the country and thus contribute to strengthening economic, trade and tourism links.
Collaboration programmes in education will help the two countries’ youngsters to bolster mutual understanding and solidarity and share experiences in fields of interests, Rivlin said.
Responding to HCM City’s proposals, Rivlin said Israeli firms, especially those operating in the city, are ready to share experience and invest in start-ups in Việt Nam.
After the meeting, Phong and Rivlin witnessed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on a US$200 million financial healthcare package between Israel’s Jasmine Group and Đất Vàng Real Estate Investment Company.
Earlier, the Israeli president and his wife visited a milch cow farm in Bình Chánh District’s Phạm Văn Hải Commune, which uses Israel’s technological know-how as part of the Dairy Demonstration and Experiment Farm project for 2012-2017.
Later, both leaders attended a business forum and witnessed the signing of another MoU on research and development cooperation between Israel Innovation Authority and National Technology Innovation Fund.
Rice prices continue to fall
Rice prices in the Mekong Delta have continued the downward spiral in recent days after they soared to their all-time highs last month.
Nguyen Thanh Tho, a rice trader at Ba Dac wholesale food market in Tien Giang Province, told the Daily on March 20 that enterprises were buying a kilo of unprocessed IR 50404 rice at VND4.500-4.600 per kilo in the delta, down VND200 against a half month ago and VND400 from the record high in end-February.
At Ba Dac wholesale food market, IR 50404 material rice is quoted at VND6,600-6,700 per kilo, down VND300 versus two weeks ago and VND500 over the record high last month.
Rice prices have dipped sharply due to falling shipments to China and the fulfillment of government-to-government (G2G) rice export contracts with the Philippines, said Nguyen Thanh Phong, director of Van Loi Co. in Tien Giang Province. Meanwhile, there is little sign that local exporters could secure new deals.
Another source told the Daily that there is a high possibility that the Philippines would import 250,000 tons of rice under G2G contracts from Vietnam and Thailand in March. “But no move has been made, thus pushing down domestic rice prices.”
The Vietnam Food Association (VFA) cited international media as saying that Vietnam’s rice exports had reached one million tons by March 7, down 4.31% year-on-year, ranking third after India with two million tons and Thailand with 1.5 million tons.
Meanwhile, VFA statistics showed its member enterprises had shipped nearly 674,000 tons of rice by February 28 with a total free-on-board (FOB) value of US$286 million.
VAMC wants to quintuple capital
Vietnam Asset Management Company (VAMC) wants to raise its chartered capital from VND2 trillion to VND10 trillion by 2020 so that it could buy more bad debts in the banking system.
This is one of the proposals VAMC has sent to authorities as part of a roadmap to better its bad debt settlement capacity in 2017-2020.
If the proposal is approved, VAMC would be able to increase its finances, buy more debts, back the formation of a debt trading market and set up a risk management fund.
VAMC was established with total chartered capital of VND500 billion in 2013, which was later adjusted up to VND2 trillion in 2015 following a Government decision.
In addition, VAMC would issue VND45 trillion worth of Government-guaranteed bonds to raise capital from organizations and individuals at home and abroad. The company intends to step up borrowing from domestic and international sources to settle government debts starting in 2018.
Additional funding would be also needed for risk management in its debt trading operations. VAMC wants to launch a fund to supplement its chartered capital and add risk provisions which can be used to fund non-performing loans bought at market prices.
VAMC is continuing to buy non-performing loans from weak credit institutions which are being restructured. It is expected that the company will have bought a total of VND150 trillion through the issuance of special bonds by 2020.
Minister: No SOE loans treated as public debts
Debts owed by State-owned enterprises (SOEs) will not be included into public debt in line with the draft of a revised law on public debt, Minister of Finance Dinh Tien Dung said at a meeting of the National Assembly Standing Committee in Hanoi on March 20.
Dung said the law would be revised in a way that public debt only comprises Government and Government-guaranteed debts and debts of local governments as specified in the law on public debt management. Therefore, SOEs will have to settle their own loans.
Dung explained SOEs are like one-member limited liability firms. If they are unable to pay their debts, they should file for bankruptcy in line with the prevailing regulations.
Debts of SOEs would be shouldered by the Government if they are treated as public debt. “This is not reasonable, so the Ministry of Finance will not classify SOE debts as public debts,” Dung said.
Dung said only four countries treat SOE debts as public debts but those SOEs must be public utilities and perform the tasks assigned by their governments like those in Thailand.
Nguyen Duc Hai, chairman of the NA Financial and Budgetary Committee, said most members of the NA Standing Committee have agreed the debt calculation method as defined by the draft of the revised law.
However, NA deputies are concerned that if SOEs default on loans, the country’s credit rating would be affected unless the Government intervenes as seen in some cases where the Government paid on behalf of SOEs. Therefore, they said regulations should be added to enhance debt management and reduce debt-related risks.
Do Ba Ty, vice chairman of the NA, said it is important to map out measures to deal with the consequences of loans owed by SOEs with the majority stake held by the State as the State is responsible for paying their debts if they become insolvent.
Vo Trong Viet, chairman of the NA Defense and Security Committee, voiced his concern that SOEs could spend their loans carelessly if they can still rely on the Government to settle their debts.
Phan Thanh Binh, chairman of the NA Committee for Culture, Education, Youth, Adolescents and Children, underscored the importance of clearly defining the public sector and said the State would be obliged to pay debts of SOEs if they are State-owned.
Binh noted the reality had shown the huge debts of the State-owned Vietnam Shipbuilding Industry Group (Vinashin) had been settled by the State.
According to the draft, public debt does not include debt papers issued by the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV).
Nguyen Duc Hai, chairman of the NA Economic Committee, said the Government explained that according to international practices the central bank of a country is independent. So any debts owed by the central bank are not those of government.
Phung Quoc Hien, vice chairman of the NA, said the SBV is a government agency, so it is unreasonable to not treat its debt as that of the State.
Dung reported at the meeting that soaring public debt is attributable to economic forecasts. The economy was projected to grow 6.5-7% in 2011-2015 but the actual growth was 5.9%, and budget deficit has soared for years as the Government has spent heavily to fuel growth.
He added some Government loans were subject to annual interest rates of 12-13% in 2011-2013, so the Government is facing huge pressure from payments of high-interest short-term debt in 2016-2017.
In addition, disbursements of official development assistance (ODA) loans were estimated at VND17-18 trillion a year but VND50-60 trillion was disbursed, leading to an upsurge in reciprocal funds allocated by the State.
Dung warned if the situation is not solved, the country would continue shouldering the public debt burden.
Vietnam, Singapore explore stronger trade links
The trade relations between Vietnam and Singapore have been developing since they lifted ties to strategic partnership.
According to the Vietnamese Trade Office in Singapore, two-way trade reached nearly 20 billion SGD (equivalent to 14 billion USD) in 2016.
Vietnam remained the 12th biggest trade partner of Singapore in the year, exporting over 4 billion SGD (3 billion USD) and importing nearly 15.7 billion SGD (over 11 billion USD) worth of goods.
High-growth commodities included iron and steel products, grease, leathers, tobaccos, glass products, seafood and vegetables.
Despite a trade balance decline due to Singapore’s economic downturn in 2016, Singapore remained one of the biggest trade partners of Vietnam, after China, Japan, the US, and the Republic of Korea, and the largest trade partner in ASEAN.
Vietnam and Singapore have also actively coordinated at regional and international forums, especially within the framework of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), and Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM).
The two sides are sparing no effort to connect the two countries’ economies and with others in ASEAN.
Notably, Singapore’s direct investment in Vietnam has continuously increased since 1998, making it the third biggest investor of Vietnam among 101 countries and territories, with a total investment of 39 billion USD, mainly poured into real estate, processing industry, manufacturing, and construction.
The most typical project is the Vietnam-Singapore Industrial Park (VSIP).
Industry-trade ministerial-level meetings are conducted periodically (eight months) and rotationally in each country to review the implementation of the Vietnam – Singapore Connectivity Framework Agreement and map out cooperation orientations for the next phase.
So far, the two sides have convened 12 meetings with the latest held in Singapore in September 2016.
Deputy Director of the Export and Import Department under the Ministry of Industry and Trade Tran Thanh Hai said Vietnam and Singapore recorded an annual average growth of 12 percent.
Singapore imports up to 90 percent of food and foodstuff from foreign markets and this will be a brilliant opportunity for Vietnam to boost the exports of such staples as rice, coffee, tea, vegetables and fruits, and fine-art handicraft products, he added.
Vice versa, Singaporean businesses have strength in processing, packaging, and increasing added value for products, and broad market relationship. As Singapore is considered a global transit destination, Vietnamese firms should, therefore, seek to make inroads into other ASEAN markets via Singapore, he suggested.
To tighten the two countries’ relations, Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his spouse are paying an official visit to Vietnam from March 21-24, at the invitation of Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc.
The two sides are expected to discuss strategic orientations and specific measures to further deepen the bilateral strategic partnership in the coming time and keep up with the current rapid developments in the fourth industrial revolution.
They will also continue supporting each other at multilateral forums of ASEAN, APEC, ASEM, and the United Nations for sustainable development and prosperity.
At a meeting with PM Lee Hsien Loong in Hanoi on May 20, 2016, the Vietnamese PM affirmed that his country always attaches great importance to bolstering all-faceted relations with Singapore and hoped Singapore will create the best conditions for Vietnamese firms to export farm produce, seafood, and garment-textile to the market to help balance the trade.
Experts said Vietnam and Singapore should take advantage of their strengths to promote strategic partnership and join the global supply chain. For example, Singapore has strength in capital, research, technology, and markets, while Vietnam boasts advantages in natural resources, labour and markets.
Additionally, it is necessary to help businesses make investments in the respective markets via promoting trade activities and new cooperation methods, especially the public-private partnership (PPP) form.
Experts also recommended drawing investment from multinational groups headquartered in Singapore in the fields of healthcare, education, infrastructure development, processing industry, high technology, and tourism.
Key projects should be defined, especially at industrial parks, urban and logistics areas, they said, adding that the two countries need to create a periodical information exchange mechanism as well as provide information on their socio-economic development situation, policies and laws as a source of reference data for their businesses when seeking market entry.
Regional conference discuss food security
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) and the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs jointly held a regional conference on food security in Hanoi on March 22.
Addressing the opening of the two-day event, MARD Deputy Minister Le Quoc Doanh urged participants to seek cooperation initiatives and measures to promote smart agricultural practices in Vietnam.
He noted that Vietnam is an agriculture-based country with nearly 70 percent of the population living in rural areas. Thanks to the government’s policies to develop agriculture, from a country suffering food shortage, Vietnam has ensured its domestic food supply and provided a large amount of food to the world.
Along with rice, seafood, coffee, cashew, vegetable and fruits have also considerable hard currency earners for Vietnam. However, the country has been among five most vulnerable countries to climate change which has ravaged many localities across Vietnam, he said.
He stated that the agricultural sector has reformed to increase farm produces’ productivity, quality, respond to climate change and minimise climate change impacts by choosing cultivation methods as well as plant and livestock and aquaculture varieties to suit climate situation in each locality.
At the same time, the sector has enhanced research and application capacity to deal with newly emerged challenges due to climate change, including sea level rise, said Doanh.
He stressed the need for a smart agriculture sector as well as the setting up of institutions to support farmers, especially in information, service and capital access.
He also highlighted the significance of close coordination among countries in ensuring food security to the humankind amidst climate change.
The same day, delegates joined a technical conference on food safety, innovative fishery farming and smart agriculture adapting to climate change, as well as food wastefulness and loss.
HCM City hosts agricultural startup forum
An agricultural startup forum will be held on March 23 in Ho Chi Minh City by the city Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) and the Business Support Association (BSA).
The forum aims to help students, young and small businesspeople figure out new projects and initiatives and exchange ideas with experts and successful agricultural businesses in the city.
The event will include an exhibition on agricultural products and support methods.
Nearly 250 students, youth and owners of small businesses in HCM City will have a chance to access new agricultural products with the application of biotechnology and information technology.
Two major subjects will be dealt with in two forums. A forum will discuss the making of laws for startup businesses with main speakers from DARD. The second with the topic of young agribusiness startups will involve the participation of Vinamit CEO Nguyen Lam Vien, Startup Vietnam Foundation CEO Pham Duy Hieu, Mimosa Tek CEO Nguyen Khac Minh Tri, and owner of Dat Thep Linhzhi Mushroom Nguyen Thi Hieu.
They will give valuable advices to young people and students who want to begin a startup.
MOLISA enhances co-operation with Manpowergroup
Viet Nam needs the ManpowerGroup’s consultation on completing the legal framework for the country’s labour market and employment services, improving the quality of its human resources and on sending Vietnamese workers abroad.
Minister Dao Ngoc Dung delivered this statement at an exceptional meeting of the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Soical Affairs (MOLISA) with Simon Matthews, Country Manager of ManpowerGroup in Thailand, Viet Nam and the Middle East in the capital on Tuesday.
Matthews spoke highly of MOLISA’s support, adding that the ManpowerGroup was willing to co-operate with the ministry in the reviewed areas.
The ManpowerGroup will continue to bring resources and experiences of the international labour market into the labour market in Viet Nam up to 2018, following the third Memorandum of Understanding inked between the group and MOLISA.
The company will provide the best employment services based on the knowledge and understanding of the labour market and the policy of MOLISA while co-operating with its agencies to organise workshops and programmes to improve the labour productivity of the Vietnamese workforce.
ManpowerGroup is an American multinational workforce expert, creating innovative workforce solution for nearly 70 years. The group connects more than 600,000 people in 80 countries to work across a wide range of skills and industries daily.
Established in 2008 in both HCM City and Ha Noi, ManpowerGroup Viet Nam is the first 100 per cent foreign company working in the country’s workforce consulting industry.