BUSINESS IN BRIEF 1/7
Siemens & EVN open new main control center for south
Siemens and the State-run energy company, Electricity of Vietnam Southern Power Corporation (EVN SPC), have opened a new main control center in Ho Chi Minh City.
The energy provider had Siemens develop, design, and build the facilities in the main control center in order to be able to remotely monitor and control the medium- and low-voltage grids in 21 cities and provinces in the southern region.
“EVN’s new network control center enables it to respond flexibly and cost-efficiently to the current and future challenges of ensuring reliable network operation,” said Mr. Thomas Zimmermann, CEO of the Business Unit Digital Grid, Siemens Energy Management Division. “For EVN, that means an improvement in both its operational efficiency and quality of service.”
The project will significantly improve the availability and efficiency of distribution grids in the region and reduce power outages, thus contributing to economic development.
“We are very excited with the opening of the main control center, SCADA DMS, in Ho Chi Minh City,” said Mr. Nguyen Van Hop, President and CEO of EVN SPC. “Equipped with Siemens’ most advanced technology in the power distribution industry, the center will help us remarkably improve the efficiency and reliability of the distribution network in 21 cities and provinces in the southern region. We will be able to create sustainable values not only to the region but also to our company through higher productivity and significant cost savings.”
The control center’s technology is based on the Siemens Spectrum Power system platform for network control centers, which will be used in Vietnam as a Supervisor Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) and distribution management system (DMS). The control center will not only be used for remote monitoring and control of distribution grids with capacities of 110 kV and below but can also work with transmission grids of 220 kV and above in order to minimize losses and down time. With the aid of the Siemens grid control technology, the State-run energy company will also prepare 110 kV transformer substations for unmanned operations in the future.
SCADA systems are used to operate and observe, control, and monitor power grids, while the DMS with which they are combined optimizes distribution grid management. The Spectrum Power SCADA/DMS system from Siemens enables grid operators to control the grid management system and the energy flow. The system can be operated locally or remotely thanks to its web-based architecture. In addition, it helps to reduce grid maintenance costs and eliminate faults faster.
Vietnam HR Awards Forum 2017 back with more disruption
The Vietnam HR Awards Forum 2017 will be held on August 11 in Ho Chi Minh City with the theme “Agile Talent - Disruptive Technology for Growth”.
Hosted by the Talentnet Corporation since 2015, the full-day event promises to be the most senior gathering of CEOs, business leaders, and human resources (HR) experts in Vietnam.
Aiming to offer high level views of an agile workforce in the digital age, the executive forum will feature leading keynote speakers in the industry, such as Ms. Nguyen Thi Bich Van, Chairwoman of Unilever Vietnam, Mr. Marco Breu, CEO of McKinsey Vietnam, Mr. Hoang Nam Tien, Chairman of FPT Software, and the Head of the SMU Academy from Singapore.
“Not only providing a wide range of insights about business strategy, these highly-appreciated speakers will also introduce innovative approaches in the people agenda, especially talent and leadership management as well as success stories of technology’s impact in business transformation and disruption,” said Ms. Tieu Yen Trinh, CEO of the Talentnet Corporation.
First held by Talentnet in 2014, this is third time the Vietnam HR Awards have been held to honor and recognize organizations with the best HR Strategy and People Investment. The awards resonated in Vietnam for its methodology from the Singapore HR Awards. This is the third year the awards have been held and it promises to be an exciting event for enterprises operating in Vietnam.
The Vietnam HR Awards are endorsed by the Ministry of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs and uses international methodology from the Singapore Human Resources Institute (SHRI), along with a professional and transparent judging process, to recognize the most outstanding enterprises in five human resources categories.
Organized by Talentnet and the Labor and Social Affairs newspaper, the 2016 awards recognized ten companies for their superior HR practices and policies: BAT Vietnam, CSC Vietnam, FPT, HSBC Vietnam, IBM Vietnam, Mobile World, Nestlé Vietnam, Novaland, Techcombank, and Unilever Vietnam.
With dedication and commitment to lift the local HR community, the Vietnam HR Awards 2017 is expected to feature valuable strategic HR insights from top business leaders and HR managers to light up a new future for the HR industry.
Processing & manufacturing leads in FDI
Processing and manufacturing had attracted more than $180 billion in total foreign direct investment (FDI) capital as at June.
Foreign investors have invested in 19 of the 21 economic sectors in the country, with processing and manufacturing securing 59 per cent.
Following is real estate, with $50.99 billion, or 16.6 per cent of the total, then electricity, water and gas with $18.83 billion, or 6.1 per cent.
As at June, 120 countries and territories had invested in Vietnam, led by South Korea with $54.5 billion, or 17.7 per cent of the total, followed by Japan with $46.19 billion, or 15 per cent, then Singapore, Taiwan, the British Virgin Islands, and Hong Kong.
Ho Chi Minh City attracted the most FDI, with $41.67 billion, or 13.6 per cent of the total. Southern Binh Duong province followed, with $28.66 billion, or 9.3 per cent, then southern Ba Ria Vung Tau province with $26.72 billion, or 8.7 per cent, and Hanoi with $26.3 billion, or 8.5 per cent.
Total registered and additional capital reached $19.22 billion in the first half of the year, up 54.8 per cent year-on-year, while $7.72 billion was disbursed, up 6.5 per cent.
There were 1,183 new projects granted investment licenses in the first half, with capital of $11.8 billion, up 57.9 per cent year-on-year, while 549 projects added $5.14 billion in capital, up 35.8 per cent.
There are now 3,272 FDI projects from ASEAN in Vietnam, with total capital of $63.49 billion. In the first half there were 127 newly-licensed projects from the region, with capital of $2.95 billion. Fifty-eight existing ASEAN projects added 587.5 million in capital.
1H agri export turnover up 13.1%
Export turnover of agriculture, forestry and fishery products in June was estimated at $2.97 billion, bringing the figure for the first half of the year to $17.1 billion, up 13.1 per cent year-on-year, according to Ministry of Agricultural and Rural Development.
The export value of major agricultural commodities was estimated at $9.1 billion, an increase of 15.4 per cent year-on-year, key forestry products $3.8 billion, up 12.8 per cent, and fishery products $3.5 billion, up 14.1 per cent.
Most segments recorded strong increases in both volume and value, such as rice, seafood, vegetables, tea, rubber, and wood and wooden products.
The largest increase was in the vegetable segment, of 44.6 per cent year-on-year. The export value of fruit and vegetables in June was estimated at $283 million, for a first-half estimate of $1.7 billion.
China, the US, Japan, and South Korea were the top four importers of Vietnamese fruit and vegetables in the first six months, accounting for 84.7 per cent of all fruit and vegetable exports.
The rubber segment also saw a sharp increase, of 5 per cent in volume and 58.6 per cent in value year-on-year. Volumes in June reached 100,000 tons with a value of $158 million, for first-half estimates of 462,000 tons and $867 million.
The rice sector maintained growth in the first half, increasing 6.3 per cent in volume and 4.9 per cent in value year-on-year. Rice exports were estimated at 413,000 tons valued at $182 million, bringing the first-half figures to an estimated 2.8 million tons and $1.2 billion.
The seafood segment contributed about $3.5 billion to export turnover in the first half, up 14.1 per cent year-on-year. Export value in June was estimated at $653 million.
Wood made the biggest contribution to export turnover in the first half. Wooden product exports were estimated at $3.6 billion, an increase of 13.2 per cent year-on-year, and reached $609 million in June.
Conversely, some products saw significant declines, such as cassava and cassava products, which were down 7.6 per cent in volume and 11.8 per cent in value, and pepper, up 18.3 per cent in volume but down 16.8 per cent in value.
Thailand top supplier of fruits to VN
Việt Nam imported US$376 million worth of fruits from Thailand in the first half of this year, which was double the figures of the same period last year.
With the turnover, Thailand has become the leading supplier of fruits to Việt Nam, accounting for over half of Việt Nam’s six-month fruit imports at $507 million, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
During the reviewed period, Việt Nam’s fruit imports from other markets such as India and South Korea maintained positive upward growth of more than 85 per cent.
Meanwhile, Việt Nam’s fruit and vegetable exports in the period between January and June experienced a yearly increase of 44 per cent to $1.7 billion. China, Japan and South Korea remained the top importers of Vietnamese fruit and vegetables, making up nearly 85 per cent of the country’s export turnover.
Mekong regions urged to develop agriculture
Provinces and cities of the Mekong Delta region need to focus on speeding up agricultural production, tourism and services to tap the region’s potential, said Deputy Prime Minister Vương Đình Huệ.
The industry and construction sectors recorded high growth in the first six months of the year while agriculture and services development failed to match their potential, said Huệ, who doubles as head of the Steering Committee for the Southwestern Region.
Huệ was speaking at the committee’s conference held in the Mekong Delta city of Cần Thơ on Thursday to review tasks in the first half of 2017 and discuss tasks for the rest of the year.
Agricultural growth reached only 2.07 per cent in the first half of the year, lower than the average national growth of 2.65 per cent. The services sector reaped grew 6.67 per cent, slightly higher than the national average rate of 6.65 per cent, according to a report presented by deputy head of the Committee Sơn Minh Thắng.
The whole region reported economic growth of 6.45 per cent during the period. The poverty rate remained high, accounting for 7.97 per cent of total households in the region.
The region’s total budget collection reached 51.7 per cent of the estimated target, social investment increased 13.5 per cent in comparison with the same period last year and the number of newly-established enterprises rose 10.2 per cent.
The growth picture of the region was in general higher than that of the whole country but localities in the region must study measures to boost the development of the agricultural, tourism and services sectors, Huệ said.
The localities should also attract more foreign direct investment, particularly in agriculture and rural areas, he said.
Regarding the steering committee’s tasks, the deputy PM said the committee had hit many goals such as setting up a management board to implement the Government decision on piloting a Mekong Delta regional connectivity project and working with local authorities to deal with issues relating to education and employment.
The committee organised several trade promotion, infrastructure and logistics development conferences in some localities in the region, worked with the Government to assess landslides in the region and worked with ministries and agencies to speed up transport projects in the region.
In the remaining months of the year, the committee will continue implementing the Government decision on the project to connect the Mekong Delta region, hold a conference of international donors for Mekong Delta region development and host a scientific conference on landslides in the region to discuss measures to deal with them.
Vietnam – EAEU joint FTA committee commences first session
A joint committee on the Vietnam – Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) Free Trade Agreement convened its first meeting at the Moscow headquarters of the Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC) on June 29.
Taking place in conjunction with President Tran Dai Quang’s official visit to Russia, the session was co-chaired by Vietnamese Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh and EEC Minister for Trade Veronika Nikishina, with the participation of delegates from Belarus, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.
The meeting, held 7 months after the FTA took effect, looked back at the implementation of the pact, scrutinized its impacts on bilateral trade and envisioned next steps in bilateral economic-trade cooperation.
Minister Tran Tuan Anh told the press after the meeting that the sides agreed the pact has brought about positive outcomes, particularly a remarkable increase of trade between Vietnam and the Eurasian Customs Union (EACU), which consists of all EAEU member states.
Minister Veronika Nikishina said after 7 months, Vietnam-EAEU bilateral trade has grown approximately 30 percent, with mutual benefits recorded for both sides. Improved performance has been posted for not only commodities subject by the FTA but also those not targeted by the pact.
The meeting also considered measures to harmonise measures of member countries in such areas as animal-plant quarantine and goods origin certification, in order to create smooth coordination in implementing the FTA.
It was agreed that assessment units will be set up to advise the joint committee in how to deal with issues of difference, such as health impacts of construction materials and safety standards for plants and animals.
The EAEU, which comprises Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan, signed the FTA with Vietnam in May 2015. This was the first FTA signed between the EAEU and an external partner, which came into force on October 5, 2016.
The agreement will abolish 90 percent of tax lines, equivalent to 90 percent of bilateral trade turnover.
The deal is expected to increase trade revenue between Vietnam and the EAEU to 10 billion USD in 2020 from the current yearly average of 4 billion USD.
Viet Nam’s fertiliser imports surge in H1
Viet Nam spent US$628 million on importing 2.34 million tonnes of fertiliser in the first half of this year, surging 24 per cent in volume and 18 per cent in value compared with the same period last year.
In June alone, the country imported 324,000 tonnes of fertiliser, worth $82 million, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
During the six-month period, urea imports reached 228,000 tonnes, valued at $60 million, a year-on-year decrease of 9.5 per cent in volume and 1.4 per cent in value. On the other hand, imports of Ammonium Sulfate (SA) fertiliser saw yearly growths of 9.4 per cent in volume and 6.2 per cent in value to 533,000 tonnes, worth $63 million.
In 2016, the nation imported 4.16 million tonnes of fertiliser, valued at $1.1 billion, down nearly 8 per cent in volume and 22 per cent in value compared with 2015.
Southern VN attracts major FDI
Besides HCM City, its next-door provinces Binh Duong and Dong Nai have also attracted large amounts of foreign direct investment in the first half of this year.
According to a report from the Binh Duong People’s Committee, FDI in the first six months was worth around US$1.62 billion.
Its major foreign projects are the $284.75 million Viet Nam – Singapore Industrial Park III being developed by the Viet Nam-Singpore Industrial Park Joint Venture Co Ltd and a $220 million factory to manufacture airbags and industrial fabric for automobile tyres by Kolon Industries Inc of South Korea.
According to VSIP, its industrial parks in Binh Duong have attracted around $652 million in FDI this year, an increase of 60 per cent year-on-year and 80 per cent above its whole-year target.
Polytex Far Eastern Ltd, a Taiwanese polyester fibre and cotton manufacturer, has got approval to increase its registered capital by $485.8 million in the period, taking its total investment in the Bau Bang Industrial Park to $760 million.
Dong Nai Province attracted $640 million in 37 new projects and 51 existing projects in the first half.
Powerknit Viet Nam Co Ltd is the largest new foreign project with $60 million coming from the British Virgin Islands.
Fabric producer Long Thai Tu of South Korea added $50 million to its ongoing project in the province.
Many industrial parks in Binh Duong and Dong Nai have attracted large investments mainly from Asian countries and territories such as Singapore, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan thanks to their highly developed infrastructure and transportation network.
They have also signed several MOUs with regions in South Korea and Japan following investment promotion efforts over the last few years.
Over 980 million USD worth of G-bond mobilised in June
The Hanoi Stock Exchange (HNX) raised 22.3 trillion VND (980.8 million USD), down 6.3 percent from the previous month, during 16 auctions in June.
The five-year bonds have an annual interest rate between 4.90 and 5.05 percent, down 0.15 percent from May, while the seven-year bonds were auctioned at an interest rate of 5.18-5.33 percent per annum, down 0.14 percent.
The annual interest rates for 10-year and 15-year bonds were 5.65-5.79 percent and 6.3 percent respectively.
Meanwhile, the bonds with 20 years and 30 years have respective coupon rates of 6.67-7 percent and 7.1-7.5 percent, respectively.
On the secondary market, the total volume of outright trading reached 912.5 million bonds, or over 97.8 trillion VND (4.30 billion USD), up 5.9 percent in value over the last month.
The trading volume through repurchase agreement (repo) was more than 917.8 million bonds, or 90.3 trillion VND (3.97 billion USD), up 0.3 percent in value against last month.
Dong Nai’s registered capital hits record
The total registered capital and added capital of businesses in the southern province of Dong Nai amounted to 24 trillion VND (1 trillion USD) in the first half of 2017, a year-on-year increase of 115 percent, according to the provincial People’s Committee.
Of the sum, 17 trillion VND (747.7 million USD) came from 1,500 newly established enterprises, while the remaining capital was added by 275 existing businesses.
About 40 branches and representative offices also registered operation in the province in the reviewed period.
Dong Nai province has promoted administrative reforms to provide best possible support for the business community, said the department.
From January to June, some 3,000 firms submitted applications through the department’s public service portal and the national business registration portal.
Also in the first six months of this year, about 76 businesses with a combined capital of 538 billion VND (23.6 million USD) as well as 74 branches and representative offices were dissolved due to poor performance.
Vietnamese firms promote trade in South Africa
A Vietnamese business delegation held a number of trade promotion events with South African businesses on June 27-28 as part of their activities at the 24thSouth African International Trade Exhibition (SAITEX), aiming to seek stronger partnership with local firms.
At the events, the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the Trade Office of the Vietnam Embassy in South Africa and the Vietnamese firms introduced major products of Vietnam, mostly farm produce,and peppercorn, household commodities andinterior wooden products.
Many local enterprises in Johannesburg and Cape Town showed their special interest in the price, quality, production process and import-export capacity of Vietnam.
Vietnamese Ambassador in South Africa Vu Van Dung said that the trade promotion events are a good chance for Vietnamese businesses to introduce strong products to Africa and South Africa in particular.
Currently, trade between Vietnam and South Africa has reachedover 1 billion USD, which is a bright spot in Vietnam’s trade activities in the region, he noted.
The ambassador also stressed the need to further foster economic and trade ties between South Africa, the largest economy in African region, and Vietnam -a dynamic economy with abundant potential.
Besides, the two sides should strengthen connection among business communities, while promoting investment and tourism cooperation in the future, he said.
South African firms pointed out that a lack of information and exchange channels are among obstacles hindering products of each country to penetrate each other market. They proposed that authorised agencies of both sides create more favourableconditions for business communities of both sides to boost connectivity in the future.
HCM City to help firms join Samsung’s global supply chain
Ho Chi Minh City is ready to work with Samsung in boosting local enterprises’ capacity in support industry, helping them qualify for the Korean group’s global supply chain, said Secretary of the municipal Party Committee Nguyen Thien Nhan.
He made the remark while receiving Samsung Vietnam General Director Shim Won Hwan on June 29.
The official commended the company’s significant contributions to Vietnam’s export value.
He said the company has responded well to Vietnamese leaders’ request on increasing the localization rate in its products, thus creating opportunities for local small- and medium-sized firms to produce spare parts and components for Samsung.
Nhan asked Samsung Vietnam to continue working with Vietnamese universities and public agencies in the implementation of various education and construction projects.
On behalf of his company’s executive board, Shim Won Hwan thanked the Vietnamese Government for its assistance, which helped Samsung Vietnam grow substantially and contribute to Vietnam – Republic of Korea ties.
The director underscored the firm’s intention to expand investment in HCM City and help local enterprises improve management skills and technical competency.
He said Samsung Vietnam wants to see more local companies join its supply chain, which will lead to higher localization rate in the company’s products.
Shim Won Hwan pledged to connect with Vietnamese students by holding tours for students to visit Samsung’s factories and research centres, while working to boost capacity of Vietnamese workers at Samsung Vietnam.-
Son La mangoes irradiated for export to Australia
The first batch of 3.5 tonnes of mangoes from the northern mountainous province of Son La underwent irradiation treatment on June 28 before being shipped to Australia.
The mangoes, weighing 450-650 grammes each, were purchased by Agricare Vietnam Co., Ltd. at the price of 22,000 VND (0.9 USD) per kilogramme.
The fruits are sold at 16,000 VND (0.7 USD) per kilogramme on the free market.
The Post-Import Plant Quarantine Centre under the Plant Protection Department worked with the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to providing training for local farmers and help them set up dossiers on granting codes for two mango cultivating areas in Van Lung village, Chieng Hac commune (Yen Chau district) and Noong Xom village, Hat Lot commune (Mai Son district).
The move is part of efforts to make local mangoes qualified for shipment to the Australian market.
Son La is home to more than 4,000 hectares of mangoes, hundreds of which are grown in line with Vietnam Good Agricultural Practice (VietGAP).
First co-working space for all startup activities opens
The Vuon - Luxury Garden Office, a co-working space belonging to the Vietnam Agency Group (VAG), opened on June 29 in Hanoi.
All startup activities are fully catered for at the co-working space, said Mr. Ha Anh Tuan, CEO of VAG, making it the first in the country to do so.
“When presenting projects, startups can meet investors at Vuon,” he explained. “Not only startups working at Vuon can access our support. Any startup seeking investment can forward documents to us and we will help them find investors.”
The co-working space also helps investors manage finance when investing in startups.
The space will also host meetings of VAG, which comprises 108 agencies in marketing and communications in the north of Vietnam. “About 50 VAG events will be held each year at Vuon, providing opportunities for startups to develop their projects,” he said.
Besides areas for startups, Vuon also has public rooms and private rooms for freelancers and foreigners, which can seat up to 150 people.
The co-working space received VND120 billion ($5.2 million) in investment and is located at the D2 Giang Vo building, Giang Vo ward, Ba Dinh district, Hanoi, on 1,300 sq m.
“Vuon” not only means growth, with an expectation that startups will develop strongly, but also means garden, as it is a green space in the city, where people will feel comfortable and fresh innovations can be nurtured, Mr. Tuan said.
VAG is a cooperative effort between local marketing and communications agents and aims to allow them to be strong enough to compete with international branding companies.
HCMC, Vietnam Airlines sign tourist cooperation agreement
Chairman of the HCMC People’s Committee Nguyen Thanh Phong and director general of Vietnam Airlines Duong Tri Thanh signed a cooperation agreement on tourist development from now until 2021, yesterday afternoon.
According to the cooperation program, the committee and the national flag carrier will work together to boost investment, trade, tourism and aviation activities promotion by organizing workshops, conferences and seminars.
The two sides will coordinate to publish advertising news and display media publications at communication channels of Vietnam Airlines and the city People’s Committee.
In addition, they will organize tourist fairs and international tourist events in key potential markets of the city’s tourist industry; study and develop domestically and abroad tourist products and routes, air travel packages to and from HCMC; and exploit air routes.
Annually, they will host at least one national or international air travel event to advertise HCMC as an attractive, friendly and safe destination for visitors. Vietnam Airlines provides preferential air fares for HCMC teams of athletes and students to attend international exams and tournaments, and assist business trips of city leaders.
After the signing ceremony, the HCMC Department of Tourism will work with the airline and relevant agencies to implement the agreement, contributing to boost economic, social and cultural development as well as attract visitors and investors to HCMC.
Stating at the ceremony, chairman Nguyen Thanh Phong stressed that the city’s tourist potential is very large so relevant agencies should study how to develop tourism into the city’s spearhead industry.
At present, meeting incentive conference event and other types of tourism have not been well exploited. So the city should develop unique tourist products to lure visitors back after their first visits to the city.
HCMC adopts measures against construction sand speculation
In his document to related agencies, Deputy Chairman of HCMC People’s Committee Le Van Khoa ordered relevant agencies to supervise construction sand price to have measures against speculation.
As per the document, Mr. Khoa assigned the Department of Finance to liaise with related agencies to keep an eye on sand-related factors to control abnormal hike of price.
The Department of Industry and Trade was assigned to put forward measures against speculation in construction sand.
Additionally, the People’s Committee asked the Department of Construction to liaise with related agencies and people’s committees in districts to have plan of supervise sand quality in the city.
Inspectors will transfer the price list to the Department of Finance which will work with relevant agencies to assess sand price as per the regulation.
The Department of Construction was assigned to spread information of replacing materials in construction to encourage researches and utilize new material in a bid to limit bad impacts on environment due to over-exploitation of sand in nature leading to the destruction of resource.
Similarly, the People’s Committee asked the Department of Science and Technology to place the order of researches of replacing materials for natural sand in construction.
Along with inspection, district people’s committees and the Department of Construction will pay visits to companies to check sand quality and prices of major construction materials.
Lately, because of inadequate supply of sand, there has been a hike in sand price in the Mekong delta region and the south eastern provinces; even some place the sand price skyrocketed by 200 – 300 percent .
Sand price escalated nonstop leading to hiccups in construction sites especially major traffic construction such as Cao Lanh Bridge and Vam Cong in Dong Thap province at the heart of the Mekong Delta and highway Ben Luc - Long Thanh.
Nearly 59 percent of inl’t visitors to Vietnam from Northeast Asia
During the first half this year, the number of international visitors to Vietnam saw a year on year increase of 30.2 percent to reach 6.2 million, of which 58.5 percent come from Northeast Asia, reported the General Statistics Office of Vietnam.
Of the number, 1.88 million visitors are from China, 1.06 million from South Korea, 378,844 from Japan and 297,852 from Taiwan (China).
Visa exemption program has raised the number of visitors from the European market to Vietnam by 15.8 percent.
The number of visitors from China increased most by 56.7 percent, Russia 53.4 percent, South Korea 43.9 percent and Cambodia 35.5 percent.
Hong Kong (China) surged 29.9 percent, Spain 28.6 percent, the Philippines 24.3 percent, Taiwan (China) 22.9 percent, Laos 22.4 percent, New Zealand 19 percent and Australia 10 percent.
Domestic visitors reached 40.7 million in the first half this year.
Tourist revenue totaled VND254.7 trillion (US$11.2 billion), a year on year increase of 27.1 percent.
Policy credits for Mekong Delta remain modest
Credits from the Vietnam Bank for Social Policies for the Mekong Delta are quite disproportionate to the national average, although this region should be a key beneficiary from the bank’s preferential credits, heard a seminar held in Can Tho City on July 28.
Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue stressed at the seminar that of the bank’s total outstanding loans of VND157 trillion as of December 31, 2016, credits for the Mekong Delta made up less than VND28 trillion, or only 17.5%. The seminar reviewed a scheme to improve the quality of policy lending for the Mekong Delta region.
As many as 30 million policy loans had been extended to families countrywide, but the number for the Mekong Delta was only 2.4 million, the deputy prime minister noted.
Speaking at the seminar, Duong Tat Thang, general director of the bank, remarked that the quality of policy credits for the region has improved, evidenced by a sharp fall in bad debts.
As of December 31, 2016, the total amount of overdue debts in the Mekong Delta was a mere VND224.5 billion, accounting for only 0.81% of total outstanding loans, he said.
“Overdue debts in all 13 localities in the Mekong Delta have fallen,” Thang said.
The ratio of overdue debts in Hau Giang as of the end of last year had fallen by 7.86 percentage points to 0.43%, that in An Giang had shrunk by 7.39 percentage points to 0.98%, while the ratio in Ca Mau had also been reduced by 5.04 percentage points to 0.73%, Thang gave examples.
However, Deputy PM Hue said the average ratio of overdue debts at 0.81% owed to the policy bank was still higher than the national average of 0.6%.
He urged the bank and local leaders to make greater efforts to increase policy credits for the people in the Mekong Delta, especially the poor.
The goal for the bank in the next three to five years is that all poor families must have access to policy credits so that poor people there do not fall victim to black-market lenders or loan sharks. Credit lines for the people in the region must also be further increased, Hue said.
He said that between now and 2020, the Government will set aside VND23 trillion for policy lending, comprised of VND15 trillion as interest rate subsidies, VND5 trillion to spur the bank’s chartered capital, and VND3 trillion to partially cover interest for borrowers to purchase budget homes.
Deputy PM Hue at the seminar asked the State Bank of Vietnam to increase the amount of deposits from other commercial banks into the network of the Social Policy Bank. In addition, all provinces in the Mekong Delta must also increase their contributions to the Vietnam Bank for Social Policies, each with at least VND100 billion a year in the next three years, he said.
Vietnam’s foreign trade surges
The nation’s foreign trade in the first half of the year has shot up to US$200 billion, according to the Ministry of Planning and Investment.
January-June exports are put at US$97.78 billion, an 18.9% rise against the same period last year. The foreign direct investment (FDI) sector has reported total non-oil export revenue of about US$69.26 billion, increasing by 20.6% year-on-year and accounting for 70.8% of the country’s total.
Domestic enterprises have exported US$26.96 billion worth of goods in the period, a year-on-year increase of 13.8%.
The upsurge of export revenue is ascribed to the price rises of key products including fuels, crude oil, cashew nuts, iron, steel, rubber and coal.
Shipments to China have picked up 42.5%, much higher than the import growth of 16.8%, narrowing Vietnam’s trade deficit with the world’s second biggest economy.
The country’s import bill in the first six months is about US$100.47 billion, increasing by 24.1% versus to the same period last year. The FDI sector has imported US$60.6 billion worth of goods, picking up 28.3% and accounting for 60.3% of the country’s total, while the domestic sector’s imports have reached nearly US$40 billion, up 18.2% year-on-year.
The trade deficit in the first half is about US$2.7 billion, 2.75% of total exports.
Put resources to good use to attain 8-9% growth - expert
Vietnam can achieve economic growth of 8-9% if resources are effectively used, said the head of the Central Institute for Economic Management (CIEM).
Nguyen Dinh Cung told the Vietnam Economic Forum in Hanoi on Tuesday that the economy could potentially expand 8% to 9% a year, instead of 6.7% as targeted for this year by the Government.
The State corporate sector should be comprehensively restructured, he said, adding State-owned enterprises are sitting on US$300 billion worth of assets. Therefore, if those assets increase 1%, the economy would have an extra US$3 billion, equivalent to 1.5% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).
Meanwhile, the private economic sector has total assets of US$200 billion, so the economy would have an additional US$2 billion if this sector expands 1%.
Moreover, if US$180 billion in foreign direct investment (FDI) pledges and US$15 billion in official development assistance (ODA) loans are timely disbursed, the country could significantly boost GDP growth.
Cung also proposed reducing unnecessary costs for enterprises. Logistic costs accounted for 21% of GDP, so enterprises could save US$4 billion if logistic costs fall 1%. Moreover, 66% of enterprises pay informal fees and inspection charges.
48% of enterprises do not plan to expand business, way below 70-80% in the 2000-2006 period.
According to Cung, the Government should offer more incentives for Hanoi and HCMC, the nation’s two largest economic centers which contribute 50% of GDP, 70% of FDI and over two-thirds of budget revenues.
Measures should be taken to improve the business environment, stabilize the macro economy and reduce regular expenditures. Cung suggested the Government focus on developing infrastructure for HCMC to improve connectivity between the city and other localities, increase the capacity of Cai Mep – Thi Vai port by 70-80% and upgrade waterways in the Mekong Delta and the Red River Delta.
At the forum, many experts showed disagreement with the Government’s plan to increase oil pumping and coal mining to fuel GDP growth.
Nguyen Hong Son, vice president of the Vietnam National University, Hanoi said extracting more oil and coal is risky due to unstable prices of these commodities. According to Son, Vietnam’s economic growth still depends much on natural resources.
In addition, public investment has not been effectively managed, putting great pressure on the State budget.
Son said assigning higher targets for agriculture could lead to an oversupply while the global market remains uncertain.
Son said inappropriate administrative interference into the market would affect long-term growth. “The Government should not stick with its growth target at all costs. Short-term solutions can never guarantee sustainable development.”
Can Van Luc at the Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam (BIDV), said exploiting more natural resources is not a good solution. The Government should instead stimulate domestic consumption, promote tourism and build a more favorable business environment.
VAMA optimistic about auto sales
The Vietnam Automobile Manufacturers Association (VAMA) has forecast a 10% increase in auto sales this year, allaying concerns among some manufacturers and traders that consumption might falter.
Speaking at a press conference in HCMC on July 28, Toyota Vietnam president and VAMA chairman Toru Kinoshita said the auto market will continue posting positive growth this year.
The domestic auto market saw slower sales in the first months of the year as many consumers are waiting until early 2018 when import tariffs on autos from ASEAN countries fall to zero from the current 30%.
However, Vietnam’s higher economic growth has fueled demand for cars. Auto sales in the country in January-May slightly picked up against the same period last year with 102,700 cars sold, said Kinoshita.
He expected sales of locally assembled and completely built-up (CBU) autos would grow well when the Common Effective Preferential Tariff (CEPT) is cut to 0%.
The auto industry could achieve sales growth of a strong 20-30% if there is no market volatility, he noted.
In order to boost auto sales, local auto manufacturers and assemblers have launched many promotion programs with attractive discounts.
Auto buyers can find good prices at the 13th Vietnam Motor Show 2017 and take a close look at different models of cars.
HCMC to review master infrastructure plans
The HCMC government will review all its master infrastructure development plans and make adjustments if need be, heard the 10th meeting of the city’s 10th Party Committee on July 28.
Nguyen Thien Nhan, secretary of the HCMC Party Committee, said, “Most of the master infrastructure development plans in HCMC were approved more than 15 years ago.”
It is necessary to review these master plans to see whether or not they still fit the current circumstances, he noted. Traffic infrastructure plans, including for Ring Road No. 2, Ring Road No. 3, and metro lines, should be adjusted to match the vision towards 2025-2030.
Road upgrades, he stressed, should be factored into the master plans for upgrading and developing drainage and irrigation systems to effectively cope with urban flooding. Water supply plans should also be reviewed and revised to guarantee their effectiveness.
Decades ago, the burial of solid waste was seen as a viable solution for the city’s master waste management plan. However, he urged competent agencies to consider adopting modern treatment methods.
He told the municipal government to prioritize those projects addressing the needs of the local population, instead of merely chasing economic growth targets.
In regard to capital, he noted, public-private partnership is a long-term solution, with the private sector able to contribute up to 63% of all funding needs. In addition, the local government should select highly competent and skilled investors who are able to finish their projects ahead of schedule.
The city Party chief urged the city government to organize conferences to look into pressing issues like traffic infrastructure and waste treatment and find ways to lure investors.
The city will focus on infrastructure, canal cleanup and water environment improvement projects, said city vice chairman Le Thanh Liem said on day one of the Party Committee meeting on Tuesday.
He added the city will rebuild aging residential blocks which were built before 1975, and transfer some unused resettlement apartments to social housing projects in a bid to address the housing demand of low-income people.
Vietnam-Laos Trade Fair opens to mark bilateral diplomatic ties
The 2017 Vietnam-Laos Trade Fair began at the Lao International Trade Exhibition and Convention Centre in Vientiane, Laos on June 29 to mark 55 years of diplomatic ties between the two countries.
Ths year also marks the 40th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation between Laos and Vietnam.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Defence Tran Don said the trade fair is a significant socio-economic and political activity in Vietnam’s trade promotion programme.
The event aims to strengthen friendship and cooperation between the people of Vietnam and Laos and help Vietnamese enterprises seek partnerships and expand trade with their peers from Laos, Don noted.
The fair features 320 booths set up by exhibitors from Vietnam and Laos. Some 120 of them are run by 90 Vietnamese firms, showcasing high-quality goods in the fields of textiles and garments, footwear, agroforestry products, seafood, handicrafts, processed food, electricity-electronics, mechanics, chemicals, construction and building materials, agriculture, fertilisers, pesticides, livestock feed, plant seeds and more.
Photos are on display to showcase the long-standing relations between the people of the two nations. Some show Vietnam’s military working to develop the country’s economy.
A website for trade between Vietnam and Laos was also launched during the fair, aiming to provide information on the two countries’ regulations and policies on economics, trade and industry as well as trade promotion activities.
Additionally, there will be a workshop to provide information on the Vietnam – Laos Free Trade Agreement and border trade agreement and a meeting between businesses from Hanoi and Vientiane.
This event is organised by the Lao Ministries of Industry and Commerce and National Defence and Vietnamese Ministries of Industry and Commerce and National Defence.