BUSINESS IN BRIEF 10/5
Denmark offers support for pig farming
Denmark, which is well known for its productive and high-quality pig farming, has offered help for Vietnam to develop a safe and traceable pig farming and processing sector.
Last week Minister for Development Cooperation of Denmark Ulla Tørnæs visited Ngoc Ha market in Hanoi and witnessed the way fresh pork is bought and sold at the market. This is a traditional pork trading practice in Vietnam, so it is a challenge for Vietnam to ensure food safety and especially the traceability of pork’s origin, she said.
In case of food poisoning, the traceability of pork’s origin is an important factor as it lets people know where the product comes from and how it is processed, said Tørnæs.
Tørnæs also visited the processing chain of Dabaco Group, one of Vietnam’s largest livestock companies. The group has 60 subsidiaries and 10% of them are active in high-tech agriculture.
Chairman of Dabaco Nguyen Nhu So said Dabaco plans to build a modern slaughterhouse meeting international standards. Bac Ninh Province has allowed land for the project and Dabaco expects to get technical, technological and financial support from Denmark, he added.
According to Tørnæs, Denmark has the world’s best food safety management system and expects to cooperate with Vietnam to develop a safe and traceable pig farming and processing chain.
In terms of financial support, Tørnæs said as Vietnam has become a lower middle-income economy, Denmark considered Vietnam a strategic partner in some fields such as food safety.
In her April 4-5 visit to Vietnam, Minister Tørnæs worked with the Vietnamese side to promote cooperation between the two countries, especially in four areas: education (vocational training), food safety (pork production), environment (businesses’ compliance) and health care (non-communicable diseases).
Since 1994, Denmark has provided Vietnam with over US$1.3 billion in grants, contributing significantly to Vietnamese development.
Thai hospitals look to lure Vietnam patients
Thailand, having the largest number of hospitals in Asia accredited by the Joint Commission International (JCI), is looking to become a health care center for international patients, including those from Vietnam.
Ureerat Ratanaprukse, consul general of Thailand in HCMC, said Thailand is now home to 45 private hospitals accredited by JCI, the largest standards-setting and accrediting body in health care in the United States. Therefore, Thailand wants to attract international guests who wish to visit the country for medical services.
Many foreign tourists come to Thailand for cosmetic surgery, organ transplantation, heart surgery, orthopedics, neurosurgery and dentistry. Other health services such as spa, physical therapy and long-term rehabilitation are popular as well.
Ureerat said Thailand is an appealing destination for international tourists thanks to its pristine beaches, ancient pagodas, special street food and high-quality services. Vietnam is a potential source market for the Thai medical tourism sector, she said, as it has high demand for overseas medical treatment.
Erik Fleischman, director of Bumrungrad International Hospital, said Bumrungrad was the only Asian hospital among the world’s top 10 in 2015 chosen by ontoplists.com. In addition to 580 beds and more than 30 special treatment centers, the hospital has an internal travel agency responsible for helping patients extend visas, and an interpreter service center with more than 150 staff who can speak in 48 foreign languages including Vietnamese.
More than 1.1 million patients visit the hospital a year, including 520,000 foreigners from 190 countries. Revenue of this hospital was put at over US$530 million in 2016.
About 2,500 Vietnamese annually come to Bumrungrad hospital, said Nguyen Thanh Phuong, chief representative of the hospital in Vietnam.
Dr. Yongyuth Mayalarp, director of the Corporate Partnership and Social Responsibility Department at Phyathai 2 International Hospital, said the hospital specializes in orthopedics, neurosurgery, infertility treatment and marrow transplantation.
The hospital serves an increasing number of foreign patients as the quality of its services is the same as that of those in Singapore but its fees are 30% lower, Yongyuth noted.
Ureerat said Thailand is also strong in beauty care services. Dermaster Wellness & Aesthetic Institution offers plastic surgery, weight loss, and hair transplantation services. Meanwhile, Divana Spa, part of the Dii Health Care System, provides medical and aesthetic treatment focusing on the DNA of the skin and the entire body.
Thailand is aiming to become the regional medical center. To promote the development of medical tourism, the Thai government has issued policies to attract international investors and tourists such as a visa extension from 30 to 90 days for regular visitors from the Middle East, China, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam, Ureerat added.
Thailand has launched a campaign called “Come to Thailand to improve your health” in which patients can get general check-ups, dental services and infertility treatment.
In 2008, 1.55 million international patients visited Thailand for medical treatment. This number surged to 2.8 million in 2013.
Medical tourism is one of the key growth drivers of Thailand’s private health sector. According to a report by the Kasikorn Research Center in early 2017, international tourists spend a total of US$1.15 billion a year on medical treatment in Thailand.
Nearly 550 home ownership certificates issued for foreigners
Foreign home buyers have got 549 home ownership certificates from Vietnamese authorities since the amended Housing Law went into force on May 1, 2015.
In the past foreigners were banned from owning houses in Vietnam. The new Housing Law is expected to spur the local real estate market. However, experts said the number of home ownership certificates issued for foreigners is small as it has two years since the law took effect.
According to the Housing Law and Decree 99/2015/ND-CP guiding the execution of the law, foreign organizations and individuals can buy and own homes at commercial residential projects outside restricted areas of the Ministries of Public Security and Defense.
New home loan program set up in HCMC
State employees in HCMC can borrow a maximum of VND500 million (around US$22,000) with an annual interest rate of 4.7% to purchase apartments.
The HCMC Housing Development Fund has recently announced a low-interest loan program for public officials and civil servants in the city.
Each individual could borrow up to VND500 million but the loan must not exceed 70% of the value of a home they want to buy. The maximum lending term is 15 years and the interest rate is capped at 4.7%. The home bought will serve as collateral.
The borrower must have a permanent residence in the city, make a down payment equaling to 30% of the home’s value and show proof of a stable source of income.
At the time of submitting a borrowing request, the borrower and his or her spouse never own a home or land before, nor have benefited from any housing and residential land policy of the Government. However, those already benefiting from the State’s social housing policy are still eligible to borrow.
In addition, the borrower must have a seniority of at least three consecutive years.
U.S. extends anti-dumping duty on Vietnam shrimp
The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) has decided to extend the anti-dumping duty on shrimp imports from Vietnam for five more years.
The ITC voted unanimously to remove the anti-dumping duty on frozen warmwater shrimp from Brazil on May 2 but supported the U.S. shrimp industry’s request to extend the anti-dumping duties on shrimp imports from China, India, Thailand, and Vietnam in the next five years.
It said in a statement that the revocation of the existing anti-dumping duty orders could lead to continuation or recurrence of material injury within a reasonably foreseeable time.
Vietnam’s shrimp export sector must prove that it is causing no injury for American shrimp farmers if it wants the U.S. government to revoke the anti-dumping duty on its frozen warmwater shrimp, Truong Dinh Hoe, general secretary of the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), told the Daily in February.
John Williams, executive director of the Southern Shrimp Alliance, hailed the commission’s decision as good news for his domestic shrimp industry, and then emphasized that if the countries subject to anti-dumping duties respect fair trade, the duties could be lifted.
Meanwhile, major U.S. wholesalers like Performance Food Group, Costco and Publix Super Markets blasted the extension of anti-dumping duties, according to the Vietnam News Agency.
Hoe of VASEP said the anti-dumping tax would continue to be in place as in the past 10 years. The annual administrative review is to determine an official dumping margin for each particular enterprise.
In February, VASEP said the U.S. Department of Commerce last September published a final conclusion on the tenth Period of Review (POR10) on shrimp exports from Vietnam in the period from early February 2014 to late January 2015.
As a result, Minh Phu Seafood Corporation was exempt from the duty as in a number of previous reviews. Although the March 2016 preliminary results showed the enterprise would be subject to a duty of 2.86%.
Businesses should be prepared amid increasing trend of protectionism
Vietnamese businesses should be prepared to cope with the increasing trend of protectionism, particularly from the United States, as Vietnam has so far suffered from more than 100 cases related to trade defence from foreign markets.
According to the Vietnam Import-Export Report 2016, Vietnam had to deal with more than 100 trade defence lawsuits related to Vietnamese exports by the end of 2016, including 66 anti-dumping cases, nine anti-subsidy cases, 15 anti-tax avoidance cases and 15 self-defence cases.
The US ranks first among countries investigating Vietnam, with 19 cases under way. It is followed by Turkey with 14 cases, India with 14 and the EU with 12. The commodities being investigated are diversified, from those with large export revenue such as iron, steel and yarn to those with small export revenue including dry batteries and plastic set of food containers.
In 2016 only, Vietnam had to deal with 10 cases of trade defence, including five anti-dumping cases, three anti-tax evasion cases and two anti-subsidy cases, of which, Australia initiated two dual lawsuits on both anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigations on Vietnamese aluminium extrusion and galvanised steel.
In particular, US President Donald Trump signed two executive orders on trade on January 31 to deal with the US’s huge trade deficit, which will focus on 16 trade partners with which the US had a significant trade deficit in goods in 2016, including China, Japan, Germany, Mexico, Ireland, Italy, the Republic of Korea (ROK), Malaysia, India, Thailand, France, Switzerland, Indonesia, Canada, Taiwan (China) and Vietnam.
Since Washington published a list of economies with significant trade surpluses with the US, many countries have issued warnings to their businesses.
Representatives from the banking, trade and manufacturing sectors of Thailand on April 10 held discussions on trade-related issues with the US and the Federation of Thai Industries advised Thai exporters to be ready for all US policies including raising import tariffs and imposing non-tariff barriers against Thai goods. In addition, Thai exporters were also told to look for new markets.
Thailand now ranks 11th out of 16 economies reporting the largest trade surplus with the US last year with US$19 billion surplus compared with China’s US$347 billion surplus.
In Vietnam, the Government and the Ministry of Industry and Trade also issued similar warnings. At the Government regular meeting in March, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc talked about unpredictable developments in the world market and the increasing trend of trade protection in many countries including the US which can create negative impacts on Vietnam’s exports.
Particularly, the US is trying to address trade imbalance while Vietnam is one of the 16 largest exporters to the US with a trade surplus of nearly US$30 billion.
Most recently on May 1, 2017 the US Department of Commerce (DOC) initiated an anti-dumping duty investigation of imports of certain tool chests and cabinets from Vietnam.The next day, on May 2, the DOC and the US International Trade Commission (USITC) decided to extend anti-dumping duties on the import of Vietnamese frozen warm-water shrimp for another five years.
Therefore, the Ministry of Industry and Trade recommended that businesses actively expand exports to other markets and to be prepared for all US policies such as import duty increase and non-tariff barriers against Vietnamese goods.
According to the Vietnam Competition Authority, Vietnamese enterprises should use international legal tools and actively co-ordinate with State agencies to cope with the new situation.
For example, the leading Vietnamese exporter of frozen warm-water shrimp, Minh Phu Seafood Corporation sued the US for violating WTO regulations by imposing anti-dumping duties on Vietnamese shrimp and, as the result, Minh Phu was removed from the anti-dumping duty when exporting shrimp to the US market.
Budget but costly housing
It sounds all reasonable when the Ministry of Construction approves a petition by Dat Lanh Real Estate Company to develop commercial condos measuring at 25 square meters each in HCMC to meet the demand of low-income earners. Such condos, with the cost ranging between VND200 million and VND300 million, have been built in several neighboring provinces such as Binh Duong and Dong Nai, and have been sold out since they are affordable to the poor.
Millions of poor people in HCMC are living in slums or tiny rented rooms, and they need budget homes, albeit small, to have better living conditions. They can purchase the low-cost condos by installment plan, using their monthly rentals coupled with small bank loans.
But there are numerous concerns behind the ministry’s green light.
Prevailing regulations put the smallest size for a social condo at 25 square meters, while commercial condos have previously been regulated to be no smaller than 45 square meters each. The amended Housing Law has now abolished the standard size of 45 square meters for commercial condos, allowing for the Ministry of Construction to set a new benchmark. Such standards, however, have not been available, and the permission given to Dat Lanh is just a provisional one pending an official set of housing standards to be issued by the ministry.
However, such permission – given on April 26 – can serve as a precedent, and other housing developers will follow suit by asking for licenses for small-sized commercial condos. It is easily seen numerous such condo buildings will spring up in the future due to higher commercial viability for both developers and homebuyers.
Many experts have shown concern about the emergence of so-called sky slums since such tiny condos cannot ensure decent living conditions for residents.
Moreover, they will pile huge pressure on social and technical infrastructure in the city, especially in densely-populated residential areas. Traffic woes will worsen, water and power supplies will pose new problems, wastewater drainage and other sanitation conditions will deteriorate, the demands for healthcare, schooling and other social services will be more acute, so on and so forth.
To resolve all such problems will require huge costs, not on the part of small-condo developers and homebuyers, but on the city’s budget and the society. That is to say the overall cost reduction target can hardly be obtainable.
The biggest hindrance to housing cost reduction in the city, according to developers, is not the standard size of condos, but rather the land tax and other complicated administrative procedures that cost developers both time and money. Therefore, what needs to be done to help the poor acquire budget homes is not necessarily to scale down the size of condos, since such condos, though affordable, are still costly to the society. Rather, tax reduction or exemption plus other financial incentives designated for such developers and homebuyers will help them gain access to more decent living conditions.
VCCI to propose five measures at meeting with PM
The Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) will make five proposals to remove difficulties facing enterprises at a meeting with Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc.
On May 17, the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Ministers will take part in a meeting in Hanoi with the business community to hear their thoughts and aspirations.
This is also an opportunity to review and evaluate the implementation of the government’s Resolution No.35/NQ-CP on business support and development to 2020, suggesting that solutions are sought to effectively implement or amend the resolution.
Ms. Pham Thi Thu Hang, Secretary General of VCCI, said that the review of the resolution will look at what the government and also local authorities and businesses have done during its one year of implementation. VCCI is gathering opinions from associations and the business community and plans to put forward five groups of proposals to remove difficulties for businesses. These proposals remain confidential.
Ms. Hang said that the proposals from businesses were sent to the Office of the Government Office and to VCCI. Two-hundred proposals were resolved at the 2016 meeting and 400 have been sent to the Office of the Government and VCCI since the beginning of this year.
“With hundreds of such requests, VCCI proposes they be divided into groups of major issues of focus,” Ms. Hang said.
There are two main groups of difficulties that enterprises request be removed by the government as they are unreasonable or overlapping regulations and documents from all levels and administrative procedures.
Some appear once more after being included previously. Ms. Hang said that most previous issues have been addressed but some only received explanations. “Enterprises hope for more open regulations and for the creation of conditions for development, rather than just receiving explanations from ministries,” she said.
Looking back over one year of the implementation of Resolution No.35, she said the government has made a great deal of effort to improve the business environment and support enterprises. However, more time is needed to introduce changes at all levels of local government, who directly enforce regulations and administrative procedures.
Mekong Capital invests in Ben Thanh Jewelry
Mekong Capital has announced that the Mekong Enterprise Fund III (MEF III) has committed to invest $7.6 million in the Ben Thanh Jewelry Joint Stock Company (BTJ); the fourth investment announced for MEF III.
With the investment from MEF III, BTJ will build on its existing retail brand to launch a new chain of fine jewelry in Vietnam called PRECITA. “BTJ used to be a 100 per cent State-owned company specializing in manufacturing, processing, importing and exporting jewelry,” said Ms. Shipra Jain, CEO of BTJ, who has 16 years of jewelry retail and e-commerce experience. “After its equitization in 2003, it has achieved great progress and has chosen MEF III as its strategic investor because of the added value the fund and its management company, Mekong Capital, will bring.”
“Looking at some of the successful investments Mekong Capital has made in the past, we are positive that this relationship will bring a new beginning for BTJ and take it to new horizons of success and growth.”
“We are very excited about the fund’s investment in BTJ, one of oldest companies in gold and gemstone retail in Vietnam,” said Mr. Chris Freund, Partner of Mekong Capital. “The company’s competitive edge is a dedicated and professional management team with experienced international and local experts. We believe that with Mekong Capital’s well proven approach towards adding value as a shareholder, called ‘Vision Driven Investing’, and its extensive network of international experts and resources, BTJ will improve their operations and deploy best international practices.”
With the launch of the PRECITA brand, BTJ is looking forward to redefining industry value standards for customers and product integrity. PRECITA focuses on beautiful designs imported from major jewelry markets and the latest Western trends, together with exclusive local designs for local customer needs.
A member of the Ben Thanh Group, Ben Thanh Jewelry was founded in 1987 and is one of the oldest companies in gold and gemstone retail in Vietnam. Seeing the huge potential of Vietnam’s jewelry market, especially in design and customer experience, in 2016 it recruited a group of professional managers from large jewelry markets and multinational companies to join its management team and develop the PRECITA range of fine jewelry.
Through PRECITA’s beautiful pieces, BTJ rekindles and celebrates love. PRECITA is committed to quality, integrity and exquisitely designed jewelry to make the jewelry purchasing process a memorable experience for customers who wish to embrace their love. In every piece of PRECITA jewelry, customers will carry a little piece of the heart of their loved ones. PRECITA’s advantages come from a professional leadership team, highly experienced international experts with many years in major jewelry markets, and longstanding relationships with state-of-the-art international suppliers.
Launched in May 2015, MEF III is a private equity fund and currently has $112.5 million in committed capital. It focuses on investments in consumer-driven Vietnamese businesses such as retail, restaurants, consumer products, and consumer services.
MEF III typically targets investments ranging from $6-15 million and can make both minority and buy-out investments. It applies Mekong Capital’s well proven approach towards adding value as a shareholder, which is grounded in the Vision Driven Investing framework and Mekong Capital’s extensive network of international experts and resources.
APEC delegates debate export certificates, role in facilitating trade
Export certificates and their role in facilitating trade in safe food products in the APEC region was the main topic of a workshop which opened in Hanoi on May 9 as part of the second APEC Senior Officials Meeting (SOM 2) and related meetings.
The two-day workshop was co-organised by the Sub-Committee on Standards and Conformance (SCSC), the Food Safety Cooperation Forum (FSCF) and the Partnership Training Institute Network (PTIN).
On the first day of the workshop, delegates from 21 APEC member economies focused discussion on a range of topics such as developing baseline assessments and self-reports of the APEC economies in the implementation of principles for certification set forth by the Codex Committee on Food Import and Export Inspection and Certification Systems (CCFICS).
They identified gaps and challenges in implementing CCFICS principles: risk-based criteria for products that require certification, practical implementation of model certificates, least burdensome measures to achieve the appropriate level of protection and the use of Good Regulatory Practices (GRPs).
The panels continued dialogues on using innovative options to improve communication and information flow related to export certificates and discussed the past deliverables that are included in the APEC Export Certificate Toolbox and suggested possible updates and additions.
They were provided with information on useful tools when considering export certificate regulations, including the use of good regulatory practices; using Codex guidance to determine if or not when an export certificate may be necessary, ways to streamline requirements, appropriate use of technology and elimination of unnecessary certificates such as in the case of low risk products.
On the second working day, the delegates are scheduled to discuss issues related to the Codex guidance on generic official certificates, the benefits of and challenges when using the model and essential information needed to provide the acceptable level of protection for the importing economy.
They will also share experience in implementing the Generic Model Official Certificate (GMOC) in the APEC region.
APEC groups 21 member economies, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong (China), Indonesia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Thailand, the US and Vietnam, which together account for 39 percent of the world’s population and contribute 59 percent of the global GDP and 48 percent of the global trade by November 2016.
Thai company seeks opportunity in logistics industry in Can Tho
Vice Chairman of the People’s Committee of Can Tho city Truong Quang Hoai Nam on May 8 received Sigmund Stromme, Executive Vice President for shipping and logistics at Thoresen Thai Agencies Public Limited from Thailand, who is looking for business opportunities in the local seaport and logistics industry.
Speaking at the meeting, Nam said logistics is a key industry for the city, noting that the government approved a city proposal to build a logistics hub for the Mekong Delta which will cover 242 hectares in Cai Cui Port, Cai Rang district.
The city has proposed the government to merge three ports – Tan Cang Cai Cui, Vinaline Cai Cui and Cai Cui – into the largest port in the region with a wharf length of about 1,200 metres, the vice chairman said.
Site clearance for the logistics hub is underway and firms have visited the site to learn about investment opportunities, he added.
Nam suggested that Thoresen may be interested in buying stakes in Vinaline to join the port-merging project, building a new port at another site along the Hau River, or investing in the existing system of warehouses and transportation at Cai Cui Port.
For his part, the executive vice president of Thoresen gave Nam an overview of the Thai company, saying that the company has been operating in fertiliser production and shipping and logistics in southern Ba Ria – Vung Tau province.
Stromme hoped the company could partner with Can Tho city to improve port management and expand local shipping and logistics services with an emphasis on container transit service to Phnom Penh (Cambodia) and Singapore.
After the meeting, the two sides took a field trip to Cai Cui Port.
Pre-listing firm investments promise large gains
Recent returns have shown that investments in pre-listing companies promise big gains for investors who make bets on the firms with impressive business results and clear listing plans.
Speculations in recent listings such as budget airline Vietjet (VJC) and real estate developer Novaland Investment Group (NVL) have brought investors returns of over 40 per cent. Prices of these shares climbed 43-46 per cent in only one to two months of listing.
Investors who bought shares of Viet Nam National Petroleum Group (PLX) when it made the initial public offering earned profits of nearly 230 per cent.
PLX price soared to VND49,000 (US$2.16) on its April 21, 2017 debut, far exceeding its IPO price of over VND15,000 in 2011.
These return rates have outperformed the benchmark VN-Index, which has expanded just around 8 per cent this year.
Similar success is expected in the coming listings of Siam Brothers Viet Nam Joint Stock Company and Kido Frozen Food Joint Stock Company.
Siam Brothers Viet Nam, a Thai manufacturer for rope and net used for fishing, maritime transportation and agricultural sectors, will list 20.54 million shares with the sticker SBV on May 16 on the HCM Stock Exchange at the reference price of VND40,000 a share.
The 60-year-old company holds a 40 per cent market share of the fishing lines. 90 per cent of the Vietnamese offshore fishing fleets are using specialized rope manufactured by Siam Brothers Viet Nam.
The company’s shares are trading around VND45,000-48,000 apiece on the Over-the-Counter (OTC) market, a rise of 36.4 per cent over its IPO price of VND33,000 in September 2016.
With a high dividend rate (mostly over 40 per cent in cash since 2011) and good profit growth (39 per cent in 2016 and 15-23 per cent in the next two years), its share prices are expected to increase when it starts trading this month.
Share prices of Kido Frozen Food (KDF) are also increasing on the OTC market, trading around VND58,000-60,000 a share, up 11.5 per cent over its IPO price in March this year.
Kido Frozen Food is the country’s leading ice-cream market leader with a 35-per-cent market share in 2016. It reported after-tax profits of nearly VND143 billion ($6.2 million) last year, a year-on-year growth of 85 per cent.
The company plans to debut shares on the HCM Stock Exchange in the third quarter of 2017.
Auto lending growing rapidly in Viet Nam
Auto lending in Viet Nam recorded faster growth than other Southeast Asian emerging markets in the period between 2011 and 2016, according to a research by Singapore-based The Asian Banker.
This will continue in the next two years, the research has predicted. The research found that Viet Nam had seen a significant increase in auto lending during the past few years, driven by rapid economic growth, improving purchasing power and a growing middle class.
The Asian Banker said that auto lending would experience extraordinary growth in Viet Nam.
“We expect that car ownership will continue to increase in Viet Nam in the coming years, as the increasing demand for passenger vehicles is also driven by infrastructure improvements and lower car prices,” The Asian Banker said in a press release.
“More consumers are switching to cars from motorcycles, as deteriorating traffic congestion and air quality in Viet Nam’s major cities make driving cars a preferred choice. Moreover, cars are considered as status symbols in the country.”
The growth rate of auto lending was forecast to be around 35 per cent per year in 2017-18 to touch around VND120 trillion (US$5.2 billion) by 2018.
Auto lending in Viet Nam totalled some VND60 trillion, representing a year-on-year increase of more than 40 per cent.
Viet Nam made up around 4 per cent of the gross auto lending in Southeast Asian emerging markets in 2016. The Asian Banker anticipated that Viet Nam’s share would go up to 6 per cent in 2018.
Bank auto lending to individual consumers was expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate of around 7 per cent in five Southeast Asian emerging markets, including Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Viet Nam.
Growth was expected to be sustained beyond 2018 due to factors such as favourable economic environments, increasing consumer purchasing power, relatively young populations with large and growing middle classes, low car ownership, and low auto finance penetration rates in the region, despite the rise of ridesharing services and competition from non-bank auto financing companies.
In 2018, bank auto lending within these markets is estimated to be worth around $93 billion in total, according to The Asian Banker.
Banks to consider loan efficiency
Commercial banks take efficiency into consideration when providing loans for high-tech agriculture projects, according to Deputy Governor of the State Bank of Viet Nam (SBV) Dao Minh Tu.
Vietnam News Agency on Saturday quoted Tu as saying that a bank would always consider the borrowers’ ability to pay back the loans, based on the consumption of products.
“If investment and production are not suitable to the demand in the market and the economy, products will be not consumed,” Tu said. “Therefore, enterprises must avoid investment according to a movement, while banks must analyse supply and demand in the economy for agricultural products, especially products from high-tech agriculture projects.”
Banks should avoid too much investment in agriculture, leading to oversupply of farming products, as this will cause difficulty in the consumption of those products, he said. This is in turn, will make it difficult for the enterprises to pay back the loans, leading to bad debts for banks.
Promotion of high-tech agriculture must be in line with supply and demand, and the allocation of investment should not be according to movement alone; socialisation of investment activities should be encouraged, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc had said previously.
The Government will focus on providing loans from the credit package of VND100 trillion (US$4.44 billion) for high-tech agriculture projects, Phuc said.
Tu said that eight commercial banks had registered to provide loans from the package of VND100 trillion for high-tech agriculture projects.
They have provided total outstanding loans of VND26 trillion for about 4,000 customers, including VND21.7 trillion for high-tech agriculture projects and VND4.3 trillion for clean agriculture projects, he said. At present, there is no bad debt.
“The initial development of the package has brought positive results,” Tu said.
Earlier, the SBV issued the Decision 813/QD-NHNN on providing loans for development of high-tech and clean agriculture with the credit package of VND100 trillion. The package is provided to enterprises and individuals having demand on credit to develop projects and plans for clean agriculture, agricultural production and business using high-tech. The projects and plans must meet standards under the Decision 738/QD-BNN-KHCN of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
The loans have annual interest rate 1 per cent to 1.5 per cent lower than the interest rate for regular loans at commercial banks.
Vietcombank to revise new online banking security regulations
The Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Foreign Trade of Viet Nam (Vietcombank) on Saturday announced on its website that the bank would revise its plan to apply new online banking security regulations.
The plan to revise the regulations followed responses received by the bank citing the rules unreasonable.
Vietcombank said that it would consider necessary amendments to online banking security regulations to ensure compliance with the established regulations and international practices while maximising users’ benefits in keeping with the situation in Viet Nam, adding that several terms might cause misunderstanding.
Several days ago, Vietcombank announced that the new regulations would be applicable from May 10, asking users to maintain high requirements of security when using online banking, also requiring them to commit to being responsible for all damages and costs of any fraud transactions caused by their failure in following the rules.
The new regulations were termed unreasonable, heavily placing the onus of online banking transactions on the shoulder of users, whenever there are any security problems.
The bank said that the current regulations would still be applied until there was a new announcement.
Vietcombank will also regularly send recommendations to its customers and urge them to pay attention to its recommendations to avoid unexpected risks when using banking services.
It said that it would stand on the customers’ side to protect their interests when the problems were not caused by their faults.
Vietcombank’s online banking services include VCB-iB@nking, VCB-Mobile B@nking, Mobile Bankplus, VCB-SMS B@nking and VCB-Phone B@nking.
Vietcombank is among the top four biggest commercial banks in Viet Nam.
Labour crucial for industry 4.0
Việt Nam needs to invest in human resources to take advantage of and keep updated about the fourth industrial revolution or industry 4.0, Nguyễn Văn Thụ, President of the Việt Nam Association of Mechanics said.
The next step, according to him, is technological reform and co-operation among enterprises to avoid investment overlap.
According to experts, enterprises need labourers with professional skills, especially those developing and designing products. This will create ressure and opportunities for Vietnamese training institutes.
One example of co-operation between enterprises and training institutes is the partnership between the Vietbay company, specialisng in software distribution and information and technology professional services, Siemens Industry product lifecycle management and three universities - Military Technical Academy of Việt Nam, School of Mechanical Engineering under Hà Nội’s University of Science and Technology and University of Transport Technology.
Võ Hồng Kỳ, director of Siemens Industry product lifecycle management Việt Nam said that the collaboration aims to enhance competency and quality of graduates and offer them post-graduate job opportunities and to improve lecturers’ abilities. The co-operation is expected to provide high-quality human resources for the engineering sector.
Mai Duy Quang, vice president of Việt Nam Software Association said it is impossible for enterprises to put into operation the internet of things, big data and artificial intelligence in the near future. However, enterprises can increase productivity by improving staff quality and management.
Vietnamese human resources have ten to twenty years of experience in information technology application and outsourcing; therefore, the country will be able to keep updated on state-of-the-art technology easily.
However, the Government must take actions to create conditions for companies to design initiatives rather than paying lip service to the problem, he said.
Traditional enterprises must improve production capacity by not only depending on low-cost labour but also creative hi-tech workers, he said.
Isara Burintramart, executive director of Reed Tradex, ASEAN’s leading exhibition organizer, said that Việt Nam’s human resources are ready to learn and step into Industry 4.0. The best way to approach it is to map out strategies and pilot projects.
Industry 4.0 refers to the trend of automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies. It includes cyber-physical systems, the internet of things and cloud computing.
G2B meet to facilitate growth
An upcoming G2B (Government to Business) conference will target creating favourable conditions for business growth, not merely on solving existing problems facing enterprises, a senior official said on Monday.
Le Manh Ha, Vice Chairman of the Government Office, was addressing a press conference held to announce details of the second annual meeting between the Prime Minister and businesses on May 17.
He said the conference will broadly focus on the promulgation and implementation of Resolution 35/NQ-CP, taking in suggestions and requests from business associations and individual firms about improving the business environment in Viet Nam.
The inputs will be assessed and action by appropriate government agencies under the PM’s guidance, he added.
Vu Tien Loc, President of the Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), said at the press meet that his institution will submit to the PM around 200 opinions, divided into five groups, from businesses across the country.
He said the feedback largely dealt with administrative reforms, protection of corporate rights, and the need to reduce operational and production costs.
Two noteworthy requests from businesses are the streamlining of overlapping legal directives and administrative regulations, he said.
Businesses mainly want cheaper loans, easier access to credit, a transparent dispute settling mechanism, a transparent inspection regimen and logistical solutions, Loc said.
A majority of 420 requests sent by businesses to the 2016 conference have been resolved and the few remaining are being processed, he said.
Resolution 35 has been positively received by 75 per cent of total national businesses, while about 30 per cent considered the changes wrought to be limited.
Ha said that this year’s conference will reinforce the importance of the private sector as being on par with foreign direct investment and the State-owned sector.
Loc also said that in order to achieve the 2020 goal of establishing a million domestic enterprises, local authorities and firms will have to work closely together.
G2B meetings are seen as an effective way to increase understanding and communication between the two sides on many topics of shared interest, including market mechanisms, administrative regulations, legal documents and public sector divestment.
About 2,000 representatives of domestic enterprises, roughly four times that of 2016, are set to attend the upcoming conference. Of these, 1,500 belong to the household business sector, the FDI sector, State-owned and equitised enterprises, and representatives from foreign embassies and major financial institutions.
Senior leaders from 63 provinces and cities will attend the meeting via online streaming. The PM and Deputy PMs will monitor the conference, while the Government Office, the Ministry of Planning and Investment and the VCCI will chair the event. This year’s G2B conference, themed “Side by side with Enterprises”, will be held at the Viet Nam National Convention Centre.
Shrimp aids climate change fight
Rising sea levels have exacerbated saline intrusion and coastal erosion in Viet Nam, but farmers can make the best out of a bad situation by shifting from agriculture to aquaculture, raising brackish water shrimp.
This view was expressed by the Directorate of Fisheries (DoF) at the fourth agricultural promotion forum held in the southern province of Bac Lieu last Friday.
Attending the forum were leaders from relevant sectors, scientists and nearly 200 shrimp farmers from the Cuu Long (Mekong) river delta provinces of Ca Mau, Soc Trang, Kien Giang, Tien Giang, Tra Vinh, Ben Tre, Long An and Bac Lieu.
DoF official Ngo The Anh said at the forum that raising brackish water shrimp was a key target in the nation’s aquaculture development plans, especially in coastal localities.
“Currently, brackish shrimp is a leader in the seafood sector, accounting for about 45 per cent of the sector’s export turnover. It’s seen as a product with significant advantage and potential in the context of global climate change.”
Anh said localities in the Mekong Delta needed to take advantage of all its potentials including natural conditions, available markets, processing technology and experience of local breeders.
“We have to develop shrimp farming on a large scale using modern technology; this will not only be environmentally friendly but also create high-quality products.”
The DoF also informed the meeting that various Vietnamese shrimp products had high potential because they were favoured in the world market. There is currently no limit on shrimp products, because its price has almost never dropped.
Truong The Hung, a shrimp farmer in Soc Trang Province, said he and his peers were more concerned about the quality of post-larvae because they could not check this with the naked eye.
Most shrimp farmers who expressed their views and opinions at the forum also mentioned difficulties they faced, including raising capital, disease outbreaks, the quality of post-larvae and veterinary medicines, which they said were hurting the shrimp breeding industry.
Shrimp farmers suffered last year from drought and salinity, which damaged more than 188,000 ha of ponds in Ca Mau, Bac Lieu and Kien Giang provinces.
In the early months of this year, Delta farmers raised shrimp on 556,000 ha, more than double the same period last year.
Kim Van Tieu, Deputy Director of the National Agricultural Promotion Centre, suggested that the DoF continues to focus on managing the quality of post-larvae, probiotics and antibiotics, as well as products to treat the environment, in order to protect the rights and interests of shrimp farmers.
“Research institutes, schools and businesses need to study and engage in the production of quality, disease-free post-larvae, and produce disease-resistant varieties in the future,” he said.
Thua Thien – Hue aims to attract $400m in FDI
The central province of Thua Thien – Hue aims to attract around US$300-400 million in foreign direct investment (FDI) this year, according to the province’s recent investment promotion plan.
The central province is calling for investment from both local and foreign groups in all sectors, but with priority given to sectors of the province’s strength, such as tourism – service, information technology, healthcare, aquaculture, light industries, urban area development and economic zones.
Investment promotion from traditional investors like Thailand, Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan and the US will be stepped up, as well as from countries which would benefit from bilateral and multilateral trade agreements of which Viet Nam is a member.
The province will work with FLC Group, Vingroup, Bitexco, and Viglacera, as well as foreign investment promotion organisations like the Japan International Cooperation Agency, Korea International Cooperation Agency, and Japan External Trade Organization.
Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee, Nguyen Van Cao, said that the province wanted to promote investment by connecting with investors’ partners such as banks, infrastructure businesses and consultant firms.
The locality also planned to forge connectivity via direct dialogues between authorities, investors and investment management and trade counseling agencies, he added.
Currently, investors are studying several projects in the province, including an infrastructure project worth VND600 billion ($26.3 million) at a Thien Ha Kameda JSC Industrial Park. The Chan May JSC has registered to pour VND850 billion in capital in building a wharf at the Chan May Port. Phu Quang Spinning JSC poured VND400 billion into a spinning line project.
The central province has so far attracted 140 projects with total registered capital of VND64.3 trillion in the first quarter of this year, including 35 foreign-invested projects with total investment of $1.74 billion.
Air New Zealand launches promotional fares
Vietnamese travelers can experience the beautiful landscapes of New Zealand with special fares from just VND14,900,000.
Air New Zealand operates the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner two times a week between Ho Chi Minh City and Auckland. The Dreamliner is renowned for its enhanced passenger comfort because of the lower cabin altitude and higher humidity as well as the enhanced sense of space created by the large windows.
Air New Zealand’s Dreamliner is equipped with state-of-the-art onboard technology and inflight product including the innovative Economy Skycouch, as well as spacious Premium Economy and lie-flat Business Premier seating.
The promotional price will be on sale from 9 to 29 June, for travel in Economy Class round trip from 24 June to 25 October 2017.
Bookings can be made at the online store: www.airnewzealand.com.vnor through Discover the World located at F06, 1st Floor, The Manor 2 Building, 91 Nguyen Huu Canh Street, Ward 22, Binh Thanh District., HCMC. Telephone number: +84-8 6291 2277.