BUSINESS IN BRIEF 9/5
Vietnam, Norway confer on aquaculture
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Norwegian Embassy have organised a business seminar on sustainable aquaculture in southern Can Tho city.
Co-chaired by Tran Dinh Luan, deputy general director of the Fisheries Department, and Ole Henaes, the commercial counsellor at the embassy in Hanoi, the event brought together executives from 16 Norwegian aquaculture companies and local businesses and officials from the directorate and provincial departments of aquaculture.
The workshop sought to introduce Norwegian technologies in the aquaculture value chain and connect Vietnamese and Norwegian businesses.
It discussed new techniques and technologies in fisheries and aquaculture processing from renowned Norwegian companies like Artec Aqua, CFlow, Steinsvik, Normex and Pharmaq, including the use of electrolysis and ultrasound in the treatment of seawater, efficient systems for handling and transport of fish, automatic feeding and monitoring systems for fish farms, corrosion-free surveillance cameras for ships, wastewater treatment and organic matter removal systems, and vaccines for fish.
Assoc Prof Dr. Nguyen Huu Dung, Chairman of the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), said with a coastline of over 3,260 kilometres, more than 3,000 islands and islets and 2,860 rivers and estuaries, Vietnam was geographically endowed with ideal conditions for fisheries.
The country is the third largest fisheries producer with an output of 6.33 million tons last year. It is the leading producer of pangasius and the third largest producer of shrimp.
Yet, Dung said, the Vietnamese aquaculture sector has also faced major challenges in recent years.
They include lack of planning leading to unsustainable development, poor breeding fish quality and aquaculture infrastructure, inefficient extension services, high disease prevalence and lack of environmental monitoring and administrative and management capacity, he said.
The country is in urgent need of building a partnership with an aquaculture superpower like Norway to develop a more sustainable fisheries sector that can produce higher quality seafood products for local and global markets, he said.
Henaes said many Norwegain aquaculture companies consider Vietnam the most promising market in Southeast Asia, thanks to a number of advantages such as competitive labour costs, skilled workers, open economic policy, favourable geographical conditions and a mutual interest in the blue economy.
The main objective is for the Norwegian businesses to increase their knowledge of the Vietnamese seafood industry, market their technologies and update their Vietnamese partners on new technological innovations to improve their efficiency, he said.
Luan thanked the delegates for their input and assured that the ministry would help identify opportunities for Norwegian investors, create the best possible conditions for them and facilitate long-term relationships.
The Department of Fisheries would support Norwegian aquaculture businesses as an active dialogue partner and advise them on local political and economic conditions and issues like corporate social responsibility, barriers to business operations and others.
It would also help them contact the Government, he said.
It would co-operate closely with Norwegian investment funds like Holbergfondene and Nor-fishing Foundation Fund to allocate money needed for projects and ventures, he said.
IFC assists Vietnam with sustainable agricultural production
International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, has invested 230 billion VND (approximately 10.2 million USD) in PAN Farm JSC to support the expansion of its seed business, which is suitable for local weather conditions in the Mekong Delta and the south central coastal regions.
The investment will help PAN Farm expand its seed business via its subsidiary National Seed Corporation JSC (Vinaseed), the largest producer and distributor of crop seeds in Vietnam.
Vinaseed holds 19 percent of the market share in rice seeds and 60 percent in white corn seeds.
Patented seed sales account for about 49 percent of its 2016 consolidated revenues, a figure expected to increase to 82 percent by 2020.
PAN Farm is a new subsidiary of the PAN Group, a leading Vietnamese agribusiness and food company.
This is IFC’s second investment in the group.
PAN Farm’s success in raising the capital represents the potential of Vietnamese agriculture and the company to international investors, said Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Tra My.
IFC’s investment in PAN Farm with their international experience in the agriculture sector will help PAN Farm expand its seed and horticulture business and apply sustainable farming practices and standards, she added.
IFC’s funding will also support PAN Farm’s new horticulture crops through its subsidiary PAN-SALADBOWL JSC and other joint ventures to be established in the future.
PAN-SALADBOWL produces flowers for export to Japan and is entering the high quality fruit and vegetable market in Vietnam, leveraging its Japanese partners’ expertise in greenhouse cultivation.
IFC also provides advisory services to help PAN Farm and its subsidiaries adopt international practices in food safety and environmental and social performance.
“Our priority is to support the Vietnamese agriculture sector by helping build productive, efficient and climate-resilient crops,” said Kyle Kelhofer, IFC Country Manager for Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.
“With IFC’s support, PAN Farm’s food safety and environmental and social standards will match international best practices and boost local industry standards,” he added.
Credit package for hi-tech agriculture hoped to become fruitful
The recent credit package worth 100 trillion VND (nearly 4.4 billion USD) for hi-tech agriculture is expected to give a breath of fresh air to Vietnam’s agriculture amid the recurrent problem of “bumper crop, sliding prices”.
Deputy Governor of the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) Dao Minh Tu told Vietnam News Agency that eight commercial banks have committed to loaning more than 100 trillion VND under this package. Outstanding loans for the application of high technology in agriculture have totalled 26 trillion VND (over 1.1 billion USD), which was given to 3,957 individuals and 64 businesses.
Of that sum, 21.7 trillion VND (954.36 million USD), or 84 percent, was provided for hi-tech agricultural activities. The remaining 4.3 trillion VND (189.1 million USD) was loaned to projects in clean agriculture.
There haven’t been any bad debts reported so far, Tu noted.
Before giving loans, banks have to consider whether borrowers are able to pay off their debts, he said, taking pig farming as an example. If farmers cannot sell their pigs like what has happened recently, bad debt will immediately appear.
If the market demand is not taken into account when investing in agricultural activities, products will become unsalable, he stressed, adding that Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc had emphasised the need to consider supply and demand while promoting hi-tech agriculture.
Criteria for determining projects eligible for the credit package targeting hi-tech or clean agriculture production and business are detailed in Decision 738/QD-BNN-KHCN, dated March 14, 2017, of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Commercial banks pledge to give short-, medium- and long-term loans at annual interest rates that are 0.5 – 1.5 percent lower than the normal lending rates of the same loan terms. Banks arrange capital sources for the credit package by themselves.
Under the package, banks and borrowers can negotiate about whether or not use loan guarantee measures. Borrowers can also use the asset generated by their loans as collateral.
Hanoian and Saigonese shoppers – emotional vs rational
People in HCM City tend to spend more time shopping online while those living in Hà Nội are more price sensitive, iPrice’s research on online shopping habits has revealed.
The study uses data from one million visitors on iprice.vn from January 1, 2016 to December 31, 2016.
According to the research, the majority of online shoppers in the country’s two largest cities are aged 25-34, followed by students and young working adults aged 18-24. Women are shown to prefer shopping online compared with men.
The report reveals that Saigonese people spend 36 per cent more time on researching products and brands in comparison with Hanoians. This study is backed by the fact that Saigonese people are more open to choices than Hanoian shoppers, with more brands having penetrated in HCM City.
Both city shoppers are excited about promotions. However, Hanoians show larger price sensitivity than the Saigonese.
On Black Friday, traffic from Hanoians and Saigonese increased by 80 per cent and 67 per cent, respectively, indicating the price sensitivity of Hanoians during sales, despite the fact that there are more brands and promotion offerings in HCM City compared with Hà Nội.
In terms of popular browsers, Chrome is the most popular browser in both cities, followed by Cốc Cốc – the Vietnamese browser and search engine. The Vietnamese browser surpasses even Firefox, Safari and Internet Explorer. Cốc Cốc is reportedly the most user-friendly search engine for the Vietnamese, with localised features such as Vietnamese type-writing, file uploading and Vietnamese auto-correct.
iPrice is Southeast Asia’s Meta-Search platform with presence in seven markets -- Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and Việt Nam, as well as Thailand, the Philippines and Hong Kong. It operates three business lines -- price comparison, product discovery and coupons.
Vietnamese start-up receives $1million fund from Singapore investor
Việt Nam International Group (VNI Group) has received a US$1 million fund from a Singapore-based investment fund World Gold Investments PTE. LTD (World Gold).
World Gold said it would co-operate with VNI to jointly develop its business activities, particularly in consumer business projects, clean foods and restaurants.
World Gold also committed to investing more capital in each development stage of VNI business projects in the coming years in Việt Nam and other countries. World Gold’s total investment into VNI is expected to reach $15 million in the period between 2017 and 2019 if VNI’s projects are operating effectively.
“We’ve studied the Vietnamese market and found optimistic investment opportunities in Vietnamese businesses with strong business and long-term vision. The cooperation between World Gold and VNI has been established for exploiting the existing potentials and promoting the advantages of each party, and promote sustainable growth of VNI in the future,” Teo Young Soon, Director of Investment Department said during a signing ceremony of the two sides’ comprehensive cooperation agreement held on May 6 in Hà Nội.
Soon said World Gold would give special attention to VNI’s projects such as Gonfarm clean food store chain and Gontasty restaurant chain.
"The investment capital funded from World Gold will help VNI to expand its business operations scale. In addition, VNI expects the Singapore partner will assist the group in completing their domestic business model and that the two side will cooperate in an international development strategy," said Nguyễn Trung Kiên, General Director of VNI.
"VNI is focussing on developing a chain of stores providing organic products and safe food, and a chain of restaurants introducing customers to new culinary experiences, with the best quality and professional customer services," said Kiên.
VNI is a start-up established in 2016. VNI is currently operating subsidiaries in trading company, law firm, training company, media company and technology company.
Vietcombank to revise new online banking security regulations
The Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Foreign Trade of Việt 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 Việt 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 Việt Nam.
Urgent need to develop private economy
High on the agenda of the on-going 5th session of the Party Central Committee is economic development, particularly the private economic sector.
Developing the private economic sector is urgent for Vietnam in its global economic integration.
After 30 years of renewal, the private economic sector has grown in both quantity and quality. The number of private businesses jumped from 55,000 in 2002 to 495,000 last year, employing 85% of the labor force.
Private economic groups in construction, aviation, industry, and agriculture have generated momentum for the economy and boosted GDP growth.
Former Trade Minister Truong Dinh Tuyen said: “Private businesses have the advantage of a young population who are industrious, studious, and adaptable to new working conditions.
Private businesses which have appropriate strategies and long-term vision can win. The government considers the private economic sector a driving force of the national economy.”
Despite recent growth, the private economic sector has some disadvantages and shortcomings. 97% of private businesses are small or micro-scale with poor financial, managerial, and technological capability, which hinders them from participating in domestic or global value chains.
From 2007 to 2015, 45% of all private companies declared bankruptcy. Nguyen DucTho, General Director of the An Tin Group, said that in the global economic integration, Vietnam should encourage start-ups, issue appropriate policies for private businesses, and simplify procedures for them to access capital, land, technology, and human resources.
Economist Dao Xuan Sam, former Head of the Economic Management faculty of the Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics, said Vietnam needs to fine tune mechanisms to boost the private economy.
“Vietnam sets high targets to promote businesses. Success requires policy reforms that encourage start-ups. The Party has supported private economic development and equitization of state-owned enterprises to build a market economy of fair competition without state-subsidized enterprises.”
Vietnam hopes to have 1 million businesses by 2020. It will be no easy task for a country that had no more than 500,000 businesses during its 30 years of renewal.
Promoting APEC cooperation in human resource development
Human resources play a key role in the economic development of APEC members. A senior policy dialogue on human resource development in the digital era will be held in Hanoi next month as part of the Vietnam APEC Year 2017.
Science and technology have strongly impacted the production process and eased the workload. Mr. Michel Welmond, Head of the Education Group of the World Bank in Vietnam, said "The definition of fundamental skills is changing. It's not just the matter of basic skills but the ability to apply them in different situations, master technical skills, know how to keep oneself up with the latest developments."
Technology and digitization have resulted in job reduction. Therefore, appropriate social security policies are needed to adapt to such rapid changes. The senior policy dialogue on human resource development in the digital era will evaluate the role and impact of the digital era on the labor market and the quality of human resources in order to map out social security policies appropriate to workers and promote cooperation between APEC economies.
Ms Le Kim Dung, Head of the International Cooperation Department of the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs, said “APEC members will discuss ways to improve their social security policies and help workers and disadvantaged people find jobs. Digital technology has created jobs and made labor management more effective.”
According to the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs, approximately 130,000 Vietnamese workers went to work abroad last year but the number of skilled workers was low. Vietnamese workers have difficulties in penetrating APEC’s labor markets.
At the upcoming dialogue, Vietnam will promote sharing labor market information between APEC economies and skills training to help workers find jobs when technology changes. The dialogue will focus on future employment in the digital and automation era, training to meet the demands of modern economies, the digital era’s impact on the labor market, and aspects of social security.
Ms. Dung said, “Human resource development is one of the priorities of the APEC Year 2017 to achieve sustainable development and inclusive growth. At this dialogue, Vietnam hopes to create an action program to strengthen APEC cooperation in employment, labor market information, vocational training, and social security. Hosting the dialogue will raise Vietnam’s prestige in APEC.”
150 policy makers representing the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare, the Ministry of Education and Training, and the Ministry of Information and Communications, and scholars from the 21 APEC members’ universities and research institutes will participate in the dialogue.
Int’l cashew conference planned
An international clients conference for the cashew industry will be held in southern Binh Phuoc Province next week to provide an opportunity for cashew farmers, processors and traders to exchange information and explore business opportunities with local and foreign partners.
Nguyen Anh Hoang, director of the province Department of Industry and Trade, said planning and developing cashew nut growing areas, clean cultivation based on VietGap standards, cashew industry development policies, and co-operation for sustainable development of the cashew industry would be on the conference agenda.
Fact-finding tours to some local cashew farms and processing facilities would be arranged for the participants, he added.
Huynh Thi Hang, deputy chairwoman of the province People’s Committee and head of the conference organisation board, said Binh Phuoc cashew has been rated among the world’s best by experts and international customers.
Therefore, through the conference, the province wants to confirm this quality to international customers and promote exports, she said.
The event would also help local cashew farms and processors and exporters to update global market information and understand customers’ needs to expand their market share, she said.
Cashew farming and processing are important to the province’s economy as which they employ around 40,000 workers.
The province has some 143,000 hectares under cashew, accounting for over 40 per cent of the country’s total, and 270 processing factories and 1,400 cashew trading household businesses.
Last year its earnings from cashew exports were worth US$500 million, or nearly a third of its total export income, she said.
Hoang said the event is expected to attract representatives from the consulates of the countries importing Binh Phuoc cashew nut and domestic and foreign associations and enterprises engaged in cashew trade with the province.
It will be held on May 15-16 in Dong Xoai town.
VN investors eye Laos
Vietnamese companies have invested US$5.1 billion in 269 projects in Laos, the second biggest by any country.
A majority of their projects are in property, particularly in hotels and housing areas.
Among the biggest investors are Long Thanh, Hoang Anh Gia Lai, Muong Thanh, Bim Group, and Ha Do.
Long Thanh Golf Investment and Trading Joint Stock Company’s $1 billion project will comprise a five-star hotel, an 18-hole golf course, luxury villas, schools, and a hospital on an area of 557.4 hectares.
Hoang Anh Gia Lai Group will invest $35 million to build hospitals, transport infrastructure and housing in Attapeu and Sekong provinces.
Ha Do Group is investing $250 million in building the first new urban area in Vientiane, the country’s capital.
Vietnamese real estate businesses are greatly interested in building hotels.
Bim Group and the Lao Ministry of Security have jointly invested in building the country’s first five-star hotel, Crowne Plaza. The hotel, which opened late last month, provides luxury accommodation for tourists in Vientiane.
In recent years Laos has been among the fastest growing economies in the region, with growth averaging around 7 per cent.
The tourism sector is also growing at a rate of knots -- 15.6 per cent a year on average – and contributing significantly to the country’s growth, meaning demand for accommodation and transport is also surging.
According to Savills, the retail space in Vientiane averaged just 0.10 square metres per capita, rather lower compared to other countries in the region, meaning the development potential for retail space is huge.
Besides, Vientiane’s office building market is only 0.6 per cent the size of Bangkok’s, 1 per cent of Jakarta’s and 3 per cent of Ha Noi and Ho Chi Minh City’s.
The apartment market is equivalent to 3 per cent of Bangkok’s and 13 per cent of Ha Noi’s.
The rapid economic growth and undeveloped real estate market have encouraged Vietnamese companies to intensify investment in this country.
Analysts are confident the Lao property market is set to boom.
Political and social stability, a rich and unique culture and a comfortable geographical position are huge advantages that enable Laos to attract more and more foreign investors, including Vietnamese, and tourists from around the world.
Higher fines for violations
A new Government decree imposes fines of VND200,000 and 500,000 on people publicly distributing advertising leaflets that affect urban beauty and traffic safety, and VND5 million and 10 million on the owners of the advertised products or services.
According to the decree, which amends regulations related to penalties for such violations, those putting up advertisements on electric poles, traffic lights and trees will be fined VND1-2 million and the owners, VND5-10 million.
Another new decree amending the penalties for administrative violations in fisheries and animal husbandry increases the fines drastically.
The decree, to come into effect on May 20, increases the fines for pumping water or other substances into animals before slaughtering or into animal products by four to five times to VND20-30 million.
The fine for using banned substances in animal husbandry also quadruples to VND40-50 million.
Those found transporting, trading or possessing animals or animal products containing banned substances will be fined VND40-50 million.
Boom times for FLC Group
With at least one project going operational each year, the FLC Group creates 1,000 to 2,000 new jobs annually, an achievement few companies can match, FLC CEO Le Thanh Vinh told the group’s annual general meeting last month.
Founded in 2001, FLC Group’s resort projects have contributed significantly to changing the local tourism landscape, transforming waste land into attractive tourist destinations, and creating jobs for local people in provinces such as Vinh Phuc, Thanh Hoa, and Binh Dinh, among others. On average, each project employs 2,000 to 3,000 people, of which more than 90 per cent are from the local area.
“Corporations like FLC have made local tourism fly high by upgrading infrastructure,” Mr. Nguyen Tran Nam, Chairman of the Vietnam Real Estate Association, said.
Expanding from its original business fields of investment consulting and corporate finance consulting, the FLC Group has successfully penetrated into the real estate sector since 2010 and made outstanding accomplishments thanks to savvy investment strategies.
During the 2011-2014 period, when the real estate market in Vietnam was going through a time of considerable turmoil and other companies chose to play it safe, FLC Group decided to merge with or acquire a great number of potential but “frozen” properties at low prices, then develop them into large-scale projects to get ahead of the recovery wave, such as the 28-story FLC Garden City, the 37-story FLC Complex Tower, and the 50-story FLC Twin Towers, among others. The solid legal foundation of the corporation, led by the Dr. Trinh Van Quyet, helped the FLC Group expeditiously close these deals.
The once frozen properties are now considered outstanding commercial projects in Hanoi that bring considerable profit to the company and consolidate its leading position in the real estate market.
In addition to commercial real estate, FLC Group also foresees potential in the resort real estate segment in the long term and has been proceeding to explore and invest in pristine tourism spots with beautiful beaches since 2014.
It will launch FLC Ha Long Golf Club & Luxury Resort this year and announce and kick-off the FLC Do Son Resort in Hai Phong city, the FLC Van Don Resort in Quang Ninh province, and the FLC Quang Binh Resort in Quang Binh province.
FLC Van Don covers 4,000 ha with total investment of $2 billion, and boasts an 18-hole golf course, a five-star hotel resort, high-end villas, and a large-scale casino. It is expected to be the first casino in Vietnam to cater to both domestic and international gamblers.
The development value of its assets was estimated at $3.8 billion by real estate consultants Savills. Planning to strike the market with 2,500 condotels, 1,400 villas, 3,500 hotel keys and four golf course this year, the FLC Group aims to become the leading resort real estate investor and developer in Vietnam.
In 2016, it had VND6.38 trillion ($281.1 million) in charter capital, earned VND6.34 trillion ($279.68 million) in revenue, up 19.2 per cent year-on-year, and recorded VND987.2 billion ($43.5 million) in after-tax profit, up 9.5 per cent. It has set a target for real estate sales revenue of VND13 trillion ($573.43 million) this year, up 100 per cent against 2016.
The FLC Group has proven its capacity and prestige by speedily developing high-end real estate projects around the country, setting multiple records while at the same time ensuring quality and safety.
It received a Vietnam Excellent Brand Award from Vietnam Economic Times last month for its socioeconomic contributions in Vietnam.
Tax Agency employs online tax refund service for first time
The General Department of Taxation officially implemented tax refund service online after a pilot project in 13 provinces and cities.
The agency opened training courses of online tax refund for local taxation departments via introduction of E-tax refund process and applications on its website portal.
The online tax refund service will reduce cost as well as time for enterprises,helping them focus on their documents.
400 startup young businesses receive government support
The Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) and the local government organized the meeting in Da Lat University last weekend.
Deputy Chairman of People’s Committee Phan Van Da said that the committee has issued a project to back startup people until 2020.
As per the project, the province government will give financial aid of around half of expenditure with maximum of VND100 million ($4,398) for individuals and enterprises on the way to open their startup business.
Additionally, the local government back half of expenditure for scientific application to create new products with maximum of VND50 million for each product. Moreover, startup businesses will receive support when they ask for loan from the fund for startup business and the fund for development of science and technology.
At the meeting, businesspersons and leaders of agencies shared their experience and policies and help graduates and young people in their startup ideas.
Can Tho earns VND 30,5 bln tourism turnover during holidays
According to the Culture, Sports and Tourism Department of Can Tho city, the city welcomed around 102,500 tourists, including 6,000 international visitors during the four- day holiday, an increase of 12 percent in comparison with the same period of last year.
Total tourist turnover reached at VND 30.5 billion, increased 17 percent in comparison with the same period of 2016.
Walking bridge on Ninh Kieu Wharf, Phuong Nam Truc Lam Zen Monastery, My Khanh Tourist Village, Cai Rang Floating Market… were the most attractive tourism destinations on the holidays.
Multiple Vietnam investors have little knowledge of franchise concept
Quite a few Vietnamese investors are interested in franchises but have little or no knowledge of this concept.
Pham Ngoc Liem, director of Liem Thu Company, the owner of the Lee & Tee leather handbag store chain, said his company had received 500 franchise requests for Lee & Tee brand. Most of the requests come from people who have deep pockets and want their relatives to run stores, he said at a workshop in HCMC yesterday. But Liem Thu has denied them all because they are not knowledgeable about franchises.
Le Thi Ngoc Thuy, director of Distribution World Company, the owner of Viva Star Coffee brand, said her firm’s franchisees oftentimes do not respect the business governance and control principles of the franchiser. Many franchisees even want to change franchised brands, she said.
Nguyen Phi Van, board chairwoman of Retail & Franchise Asia, said her firm had met many enterprises that wanted to take franchise rights immediately without caring about financial issues. Others even thought what they do is to buy the right while business management is the franchisor’s business.
This is a misconception, Van said. Franchising is not just about fee and investment but a relationship between those looking for common opportunities for business growth.
HCMC tourism sector needs supporting services
The government of HCMC is working on a plan to diversify tourism products but what travel firms need more is to have more supporting services for the sector.
Last Tuesday, the city launched a new tour to Can Gio, which takes in three sites -- Dan Xay Ecotourism Resort, Vam Sat Ecotourism Resort and the Vietnam Bird’s Nest Exhibition Center.
Two days later, a quarter specializing in gold and jewelry at Hoa Binh Market in District 5 came into being. Not long before, an oriental medicine quarter was opened, also in District 5.
Businesses in the sector have expressed appreciation of the city’s effort to create new tourism products. However, these destinations would not be attractive if services for tourists there are not taken good care of.
The oriental medicine quarter with a wide range of pharmaceutical products lacks stops and places for visitors to experience products. Similarly, tourism-related services are not available at the gold and jewelry trading quarter.
Visitors can only see new gold, silver and gemstone products or some simple jewelry making steps like putting gemstones onto products and weighing gold. Most of the stores there have their workshops based in other areas.
Worse still, the quarter has no stops for visitors to take a break or have a drink. Most of the stores are small, making it hard to accommodate dozens of tourists and moreover, their staff do not speak foreign languages, especially English. Public restrooms should be set up to serve tourists.
Le My Giang, a tourist from Dong Nai, said the jewelry quarter is a great place to visit but it remains unlively.
There are also no supporting services for the new Can Gio tour program. Can Gio should have more restaurants where tourists can taste local specialties, tour operators said. Resorts like Vam Sat and Dan Xay should include more services that can keep guests from being bored. There should be more games and activities that allow tourists to have some fun.
“Dan Xay and Vam Sat almost look similar, so they need to special services that can tell them apart,” said Phan Yen Ly, head of international travel at Saigontourist.
Nine commodities become billion-dollar-plus export earners in Q1
Vietnam’s total exports in the first quarter of 2017 are estimated at nearly US$44.64 billion, up 15.1% over the same period last year, with nine commodities becoming billion-dollar-plus export earners, shows data of the General Department of Vietnam Customs.
The export value of the top 10 commodities amounted to around US$31.76 billion, accounting for 71.1% of the country’s total. In particular, mobile phones and phone components remained the leading export earner despite a year-on-year decrease of 6.1%.
Exports of phones and phone parts in the first three months of the year amounted to US$7.77 billion. Major importers included the EU with US$2.38 billion (accounting for 30.6% of the total), the United Arab Emirates with nearly US$901 million, South Korea with US$755 million and the U.S. with US$620 million.
Textiles and garments brought a total export value of US$5.62 billion, up 10% versus the same period last year. The U.S. remained Vietnam's largest textile and garment importer with US$2.72 billion, followed by the EU with US$733 million, Japan with US$715 million and South Korea with US$617 million.
Exports of computers, electronics and components totaled US$5.52 billion, up 47.8% year-on-year. China remained the largest importer of those goods with US$1.37 billion, up 123.5%, while the EU came in second with US$1.04 billion, up 12.3%. These two markets accounted for 44% of all computer, electronics and components exports.
Meanwhile, the country obtained about US$3.12 billion from footwear exports, up 11.9% over the same period last year.
In the first quarter, Vietnam exported US$2.91 billion worth of machinery, equipment and tools, a 37.5% year-on-year increase. The U.S. was the largest importer of this group of items with US$602 million, up 26.7% year-on-year, followed by Japan with US$402 million, up 14.5%, and China with US$370 million, up 85.6%.
First-quarter exports of agricultural products such as vegetables, cashew, coffee, tea, pepper, rice, cassava and cassava products earned the country US$3.94 billion, up 15.3% over the same period last year.
Wood and wooden products exports totaled US$1.78 billion, up US$260 million over the first three months of 2016. Meanwhile, the nation exported transportation equipment and accessories worth US$1.71 billion, a pickup of US$310 million, and fishery products gained an export value of a little more than US$1.5 billion, an increase of US$110 million over the same period last year.
According to data of the General Department of Vietnam Customs, for the first time the nation had 10 groups of items whose imports exceeded US$1 billion in the first three months. January-March imports of these 10 groups amounted to more than US$30 billion, accounting for 65% of the country's total.
Vietnam’s total imports in the first three months grew 24.9% against the year-ago period to US$46.57 billion, leaving a trade deficit of US$1.93 billion, or 4.3% of total exports.
Glutinous rice price dips despite strong export growth
Glutinous rice exports, especially to China, have grown significantly this year but the price of this kind of grain on the domestic market has plummeted sharply over the same period last year.
Glutinous rice exports reached 74,000 tons in February, increasing by 23,500 tons over the same period last year. Particularly, sticky rice shipments to China amounted to 67,000 tons, an increase of 26,000 tons over the same period last year.
In March, total glutinous rice exports reached 161,000 tons, up 43,000 tons over the same period last year and up 87,000 tons compared to the previous month. In particular, China imported 149,000 tons from Vietnam, up 35,000 tons year-on-year and up 82,000 tons month-on-month.
Despite strong export growth, some traders in the Mekong Delta said sticky rice has edged down by VND1,200-1,300 per kilo over the same period last year.
Tran Quoc Tuan, a rice trader in Long An Province, said the price of material glutinous rice harvested by combine harvesters ranges from VND5,000 to VND5,100 per kilo (22 U.S. cents per kg), down VND300-400 against half a month ago and VND1200-1300 versus the same period last year.
“We stock up on hundreds of tons of glutinous rice a day in anticipation of higher prices in the future because China still has large demand for the grain," Tuan added.
Nguyen Thanh Phong, director of Van Loi Corporation in Tien Giang Province, ascribed the falling glutinous rice price to a fall in imports by China while glutinous rice output in the Mekong Delta, especially Long An and Dong Thap provinces, has steadily inched up.
Customs warns of import fraud
The HCMC Customs Department has found some local importers of chicken meat and tiles employing a tricky practice to evade import tariffs.
The department told the Daily that those enterprises willingly paid import tariffs at the port of entry based on the artificially low import prices they state in the customs form but they later shut down their offices after their goods were cleared by the customs, making it impossible for the customs to collect tariff differentials after a recalculation of the declared import prices.
They moved to other places and changed tax codes. This practice has resulted in import tariff revenue losses as the customs has mailed its notifications on additional tariff payments to these importers but they have been returned due to wrong addresses.
Certain businesses have taken advantage of legal loopholes in the Ministry of Finance's Circular 38/2015/TT-BTC, which allows businesses to make additional declarations within 30 days after the date of import clearance, and transport import goods to their warehouses.
Tax arrears have surged. By April, more than half of VND2.6 trillion in tax debt was irrecoverable. The recoverable tax debt had a maturity of 90 days.
The Ministry of Finance and the General Department of Customs are working to thwart this illegal practice.
Thua Thien-Hue appeals for foreign investment
The central coastal province of Thua Thien-Hue has promulgated an investment promotion plan for 2017, which aims to attract about 300-400 million USD in foreign investment.
The locality prioritised investment in tourism, services, information technology, healthcare, aquaculture, light industry, urban development, and economic zones.
It will call for investment from traditional markets like Thailand, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, China’s Hong Kong, Japan, the US and countries Vietnam has signed free trade agreements with.
The province will work with FLC Group, Vingroup, Bitexco, and Viglacera, as well as foreign investment promotion organizations 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 Thua Thien-Hue wants to promote investment by connecting with investors’ partners such as banks, infrastructure businesses and consulting companies.
The locality also plans 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 600 billion VND (26.3 million USD) at a Thien Ha Kameda JSC industrial park.
The Chan May JSC has registered 850 billion VND (37.3 million USD) in capital to build a wharf at the Chan May Port.
Meanwhile, Phu Quang Spinning JSC has poured 400 billion VND (17.5 million USD) into a spinning line project.
The Lang Co marine eco-tourism project of Pacific-Asia JSC has total investment of 580 billion VND (25.5 million USD), while a project refining sand into high-quality materials of A&A Green Phenix JSC is worth 500 billion VND (21.9 million USD).-
Moody’s raises credit rating for Vietcombank
Moody, one of the world’s leading credit ratings agencies, has upgraded the credit rating outlook of the Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Foreign Trade of Việt Nam (Vietcombank) local currency deposits and issuer ratings to “positive”, from its previous level of "stable".
The rating’s agency raised the Government of Việt Nam’s outlook to positive from stable at the end of last month.
In March, Moody also announced a credit rating report separately for Vietcombank, while Moody’s noted the bank’s having the best asset quality in Việt Nam, improved profitability and noted its diversifying its non-interest incomes.
Vietcombank has been one of the banks conducting effective business operations in Việt Nam. It has been continuously voted the "Best Bank in Việt Nam" by prestigious institutions around the world, while taking the lead in the domestic market on important rankings, such as Top 500 banking brand, Top 500 strongest Asian banks, Top 300 dynamic companies in Asia and Top 100 of the most interesting companies in the Asean region.
It was noted that the bank has paid attention to international standards in order to improve operational efficiencies.
Siemens & Vietbay launch Authorized Training Center
Siemens Industry Software and the Vietbay Consultant and Training Company Ltd (Vietbay) jointly launched the Vietbay Technology Center (VTC)-Siemens PLM Authorized Training Partner in Vietnam, which is part of Siemens’ global training program, on May 5.
Mr. Angus Marshal, CEO and General Director, ASEAN & ANZ, at Siemens Industry Software, emphasized that the revolutionary changes in technology around the world and reaffirmed the importance of education and training to provide qualified human resources to catch up and seize new technological opportunities.
“In the Industrial Revolution 4.0, education is a key element,” he stressed, adding that Vietnam has many opportunities to catch up and be successful in the revolution.
He also shared its new strategy and technology ahead of Industrial Revolution 4.0 and Siemens Industry Software’s educational support programs.
At the launch, Vietbay signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with three universities: the Military Technical Academy, the Hanoi University of Science and Technology, School of Mechanical Engineering, and the University of Transport Technology.
The MoU serves as the basis for the implementation of specific collaboration between Vietbay and the universities, including the standardization of curricula for training courses related to design technology, process simulation, and production management in higher education, in order to meet market requirements, and provide highly technical human resources with international standard qualifications and certifications, scientific research, and services in product design and development and mold processing.
“With almost 14 years of growth, Vietbay has a strong position in the licensed software market and CAD/CAM/CAE technology consultation in Vietnam,” said Ms. Dam Thi Hong Lan, founder and CEO of Vietbay.
Vietbay is one of the leading companies in Vietnam specializing in trading licensed software and office equipment, delivering technological solution in industrial design, simulation analysis, processor programming tools, and product life-cycle management solutions. In partnership with Siemens, it has become the only strategic partner, Gold Partner, and authorized Training Partner of Siemens Industry Software in Vietnam.
VTC was established in 2015 with the main function of introducing new technology products to the CAD/CAM/CAE/PLM market in Vietnam and researching and developing application technology solutions.
One of the world’s largest producers of energy-efficient, resource-saving technologies, Siemens is No.1 in offshore wind turbine construction, a leading supplier of gas and steam turbines for power generation, a major provider of power transmission solutions, and a pioneer in infrastructure solutions as well as automation, drive, and software solutions for industry.
It is also a leading provider of medical imaging equipment, such as computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) systems, and a leader in laboratory diagnostics as well as clinical IT.
90% of Samsung Vietnam managers to be Vietnamese
Vietnamese will account for 90 per cent of managers at Samsung in Vietnam in the near future, according to Mr. Lee Cheol Ku, Vice President of Samsung Vietnam.
He added that Samsung needs a total of 500 managers as heads of departments or higher to manage its factories in the country. The proportion of Vietnamese managers currently stands at 50 per cent.
“Samsung continues to expand our investments in Vietnam, especially in the field of research and development,” Mr. Lee said. “We therefore need a large amount of information technology staff. We focus on candidates’ ability, especially those with good knowledge of information technology.”
The strengthening of the management team is to part of plans to expand Samsung’s investments in Vietnam. Since 2008, the South Korean electronics giant has recruited 9,393 university graduates and provided them with various training programs.
Samsung pointed out that the greatest weaknesses of Vietnamese workers are foreign language skills and proactivity. Only 15-20 per cent of candidates pass Samsung’s software test.
It held the Global Samsung Aptitude Test (GSAT) on April 29 for 8,800 candidates selected from more than 20,000 applicants. The group said it expects to employ about 2,300 people, including 100 at its factory in Ho Chi Minh City and 2,200 in factories in the north.
Mr. Hyun Woo Bang, Vice President of Samsung Vietnam, in an interview with VET, said that when choosing locations to invest, a huge corporation like Samsung always pays attention to human resources. Vietnam has a large population of about 95 million people and a high proportion of young workers, which are an advantage for Samsung.
In the years to come, with the technological revolution focusing on the Internet of Things (IoT), the development of hardware and software is of equal importance. “I hope that Vietnamese engineers will make a positive contribution to Samsung’s R&D because we have seen good human resources appear from research cooperation projects with many of Vietnam’s universities,” he said. “This is an important factor in helping Vietnam catch up with the fourth industrial revolution.”
Samsung now has an R&D center in Hanoi, with 1,500 employees. At its factories in Bac Ninh and Thai Nguyen provinces it has many engineers who specialize in product R&D. The R&D team in Hanoi focuses on software while the R&D teams in Thai Nguyen and Bac Ninh focus on hardware, new cycle development, and technical issues regarding the plants. Many Vietnamese engineers are capable and responsible, which helps improve product quality.
ASIA DMC sets up representation in UK
The Hanoi-based regional tour operator ASIA DMC has weighed in in support of the UK’s outbound travel market by setting up representation in the country to offer its luxury programs of personalized travel itineraries in Southeast Asia.
The UK representation is headed by highly creative travel planner Mr. Gary Toshack, who has been appointed as Director of Sales and Marketing UK and who has over 12 years of experience in developing bespoke, high-end tour itineraries throughout Asia, specializing in China and Southeast Asia, including leading expeditions to remote corners of the region with his former companies China Links and Discover China.
“It’s a massively challenging position and one that is hugely exciting,” he said. “Classic touring in Asia has traditionally been very successfully sold in the UK in clear and ordered components. While we will still offer traditional touring modules, we will introduce a dynamic, personalized range of content featured in the DMC’s 2017 collection ‘Spirit of Travel’ for UK tour operators that will offer a ‘Rolls Royce’ approach to Southeast Asia travel.”
Mr. Gary Toshack, UK Director of Sales and Marketing at ASIA DMC
ASIA DMC unveiled its new brand identity at the World Travel Market in London in 2016, rebranding itself from HG Travel, a Hanoi-born operator that had operated under its original name for 20 years, setting its sights on accelerated growth throughout Asia with office openings and senior appointments in key destinations.
These included the hiring of Mr. Linh Le in the role of Group Managing Director, who has led the development of the business and its expansion with the establishment of offices in key inbound source markets into Asia and the move to offering responsible and tailored travel experiences for trade partners.
“We are delighted to welcome Gary to the team,” said Mr. Le. “His experience and passion for developing innovative travel programs makes him an important addition as we seek differentiation in a sophisticated travel market. It is an important and timely step for us as we have great faith in the upscale UK outbound travel market, which is where we will focus and where we feel personalized travel offerings are underserved.”
In recent years, Vietnam has become an emerging destination for British tourists. According to the General Statistics Office, the number of visitors from the UK to Vietnam in the 2007-2014 period increased steadily. Many international travel companies said that 65 per cent of UK travelers choose Vietnam as their destination because of its culture and natural environment.
ASIA DMC is one of the leading destination management companies in Southeast Asia, dedicated to B2B trade. Founded in 1997 in Hanoi where the company is headquartered, ASIA DMC welcomes guests to Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and Myanmar, where it operates offices led by highly experienced international and local native-speaking professionals.
It works closely with the HG Foundation, which is leading numerous community and environmental initiatives around the region and which is owned and managed by parent company HG Holdings.
Cashew output reduces nearly 50 percent
Vietnam’s raw cashew output reached at 240,000- 250,000 tons, a decrease of 50 percent compared to the same period of last year.
At a press conference of the 2017 International Clients' Conference for the Cashew Industry of Binh Phuoc, the Binh Phuoc People’s Committee announced that the authority will collaborate with Vietnam Cashew Association (VINACAS) to hold the event.
Ministries and departments of Vietnam, the embassies of several countries having cashew trading activities with Binh Phuoc and the local cashew processing enterprises will participate in the conference.
This is considered as an good opportunity for cashew farmers, producers, processing and trading enterprises to negotiate and sign cooperation agreements with domestic and international partners, and to promote export activities as well as prove Binh Phuoc’s cashew potential.
Last year, the southeastern province exported 153 trillion tons of cashew nuts to reach its export turnover up to US$ 500 million, and the province targets to raise cashew export turnover by US$ 1 billion by 2020.
Vietjet to offer promotional tickets from 0 VND on international flights
The low-cost carrier Vietjet will launch a three-day promotion programme from May 9 to 11, offering passengers millions of tickets priced from just 0 VND for international flights.
The promotional fares, excluding VAT, airport fees and other surcharges, are applied to all domestic and international routes from Vietnam to Seoul and Busan (the Republic of Korea), Hong Kong (China), Kaohsiung, Taipei, Taichung and Tainan (Taiwan-China), Singapore, Bangkok (Thailand), Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), Yangon (Myanmar) and Siem Reap (Cambodia).
The tickets are valid for passengers travelling between August 1 and December 31 this year, excluding public holidays.
The programme is open from 12:00 to 14:00 every day at www.vietjetair.com (also compatible with smartphones at https://m.vietjetair.com) or at www.facebook.com/vietjetvietnam (just click the “Booking” tab).
Payment can be easily made with Visa, MasterCard, JCB, KCP and American Express debit and credit cards as well as ATM cards issued by 29 Vietnamese banks that have been registered with internet banking.
As part of Vietjet’s summer programme, from May 8 to June 4, passengers participating in the “Free summer – Fly for Free” game at Vietjet’s microsite: freesummer.vietjetair.com will have the chance of winning a weekly award of five free return flights, each flight with five free tickets for a group of five travelers. The grand award will be a free package tour to an optional destination.
In addition, all customers successfully booking tickets at www.vietjetair.com with instant payment within the golden hours from May 8, 2017 to June 15, 2017 will be invited to join a lucky draw offering gifts of mobile phone top-up cards and air ticket promotion codes at summerwin.vietjetair.com.
Doosan Vina announces newly appointed senior officers
Doosan Vina has just announced its newly appointed chief financial officer (CFO) and chief representative of Doosan Vina’s Hanoi office.
Specifically, Won Sug Yeon will become Doosan Vina’s 4th CFO, responsible for the fiduciary management of the company. He and his staff oversee all financial matters of the company including the profit and loss, receivables, payables, taxes and any other financial concerns.
Won is a 24-year veteran of Doosan. He joined the company in Korea in 1993 after graduating from Sungkyunkwan University with a bachelor’s degree in Statistical Analysis. He has held senior positions at Doosan Korea in financial analysis, business planning, cost management, and planning and strategy.
At the same time, Kim Hoon has been appointed to the position of chief representative of Doosan’s Hanoi office. The office is responsible for strategic marketing of the company in Hanoi under Doosan Heavy Industries Global Marketing, East Asia Region 1 which encompasses Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar.
Kim studied at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies in Seoul, South Korea and in early 2008 joined Doosan Vina with Doosan’s $300 million investment in the central province of Quang Ngai.
At Doosan Vina he held top positions in human resources, public relations and external relations before being transferred to the Hanoi office in 2013 to handle the marketing of EPC contracts for the company. In this role he was responsible for the management of the company’s multibillion dollar power plant contracts. This has included projects such as the Mong Duong 2, Vinh Tan 4, Vinh Tan 4 extension and the Son Hau 1 power plants.
Since commencing operations in 2009 Doosan Vina has produced and shipped high tech products for the power, water and logistics sectors worth more than $2.4 billion.