Ho Chi Minh City listens to EU businesses
Ho Chi Minh City leaders met with EU businesses on July 28 to hear their ideas on addressing the difficulties they face in doing business in the city.
Certain difficulties remain, investors told city leaders, especially regarding administrative reform and human resources.
City leaders provided guidance to the European businesses on removing difficulties and improving the business climate. They also pledged to create the conditions necessary for mutual development.
The city is also planning to help European experts and workers come to Vietnam and will arrange a hotel for them to be quarantined in during the COVID-19 pandemic.
PM urges resolve to prevent negative growth
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc on August 2 again called for resolve to perform the dual tasks of containing COVID-19 and preventing negative economic growth, in the context of the pandemic returning in the country with complexity.
He said more efforts are needed to accelerate public investment disbursement, better implement both financial and fiscal policies and push ahead with investment attraction, especially capital flows from the private sector and foreign businesses.
With free trade agreements like the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA), the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Tran-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), Vietnam needs to enhance exports and expand the market, he suggested, asking the Ministry of Industry and Trade to put forth more specific measures on domestic consumption stimulation.
The PM noted that with the return of the pandemic, stimulus measures need to be adjusted in accordance with the priority of preventing the disease from spreading. He urged ministries and agencies to firstly adopt measures to ensure socio-economic security and safety, protect very economic sector, especially businesses, and prevent widespread unemployment.
Ministries need to map out suitable growth scenarios and better coordinate in the statistics work, he said.
PM Phuc singled out limitations in statistics work, citing as an example the gap in export-import statistics provided by difference agencies, partially due to the inefficient coordination between the General Department of Vietnam Customs, the General Statistics Office, the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Ministry of Finance.
He also requested the Ministry of Finance and the State Bank of Vietnam to update monetary, credit and State budget statistics more quickly.
The Government leader repeated his request that ministries review and update growth scenarios for the third quarter, the whole year and 2021, along with measures to support the national economy, enterprises, cooperatives, business households and labourers.
Can Tho welcomes Indian group to explore business opportunities in agriculture
Vice Chairman of the People’s Committee of Can Tho Nguyen Thanh Dung welcomed Indian TATA Group to explore business opportunities in agriculture in the Mekong Delta city when meeting with Country Director Gajanan Hujare on July 29.
TATA is one of the world’s top 10 providers of agricultural equipment and technologies, said Hujare. The group has exported tractors to Vietnam since 1980. It set up an representative office in Can Tho in 2014 and has become active in the Mekong Delta market since last year.
He said TATA hopes for more support from the province to better introduce its agricultural equipment and technologies among local farmers.
TATA business manager Giang Quoc Cuong said the group will focus on providing a wide range of products with new special features at competitive prices to attract buyers.
Dung, for his part, pledged to provide TATA with best conditions to do business in Vietnam as machanisation of agriculture is one of the city’s priorities. Can Tho now has more than 80 percent of agricultural land having employed mechanised farming tools and expects to achieve 100 percent at the earliest.
He urged the firm to adopt practical measures to bring best benefits to farmers.
Philippines’ debt rises to nearly 184 billion USD
The Philippines’ outstanding debt soared past 9 trillion pesos (roughly 183.9 billion USD) as of the end of June as the government borrowed more to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, the Philippines Bureau of Treasury said.
The total debt stock for June reached 9.05 trillion pesos, an increase of 163.3 billion pesos or 1.8 percent compared to May due to the net issuance and availment of domestic and external financing, the treasury bureau said in a statement.
Of the total outstanding debt stock, 32 percent were sourced externally while 68 percent are domestic debt.
Data from the Department of Finance (DOF) of the Philippines showed that from January to June, the government has availed programme loans worth 216.3 billion pesos (roughly 4.4 billion USD) for coronavirus response, with 130.5 billion pesos (roughly 2.6 billion USD) from the Asian Development Bank and 85.8 billion pesos (roughly 1.74 billion USD) from the World Bank.
The Philippines’ debt-to-GDP ratio before the COVID-19 strike was at only 39.6 percent in 2019./.
Foreign arrivals to Vietnam plunge 61.6 pct. in first seven months
Vietnam welcomed 3.8 million foreign tourists in the first seven months of 2020, a year-on-year decline of 61.6 percent, the General Statistics Office announced on July 29.
Asian visitors accounted for the lion’s share, 73 percent, down 63.9 percent year-on-year.
Arrivals from most major markets, including China, the Republic of Korea, and Japan, declined substantially in January-July, with only those from Cambodia rising, by 88.9 percent.
Tourists from Europe fell 48.7 percent year-on-year.
In July alone, 139,000 foreigners arrived in Vietnam, mainly by road, a month-on-month increase of 8.7 percent but down 98.9 percent against the same period last year, as the country has yet to open its doors to international tourists.
Meanwhile, the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism said that following a domestic tourism stimulus plan, many localities recorded month-on-month surges in June of at least 1.5-fold in domestic holidaymaker numbers.
They included Sa Pa in Lao Cai province and also Quang Ninh province in the north, Binh Dinh and Phu Yen provinces in the central region, and Phu Quoc Island, off the coast of the Mekong Delta’s Kien Giang province./.
Thai company plans to build wind farm in Laos
Thai renewable energy company BCPG plans to build ASEAN’s largest wind farm in Laos.
SET-listed BCPG Plc, an arm of Bangchak Corporation Plc, announced it will spend 840 million USD developing the facility, with a capacity of 600MW, on 64,000 ha in southern Laos, according to local media.
The farm will be located near the Mekong River across Ubon Ratchathani.
BCPG invests in the project through its subsidiary, Impact Energy Asia Development Co, acquiring 45 percent ownership. The other 55 percent is held by Impact Electrons Siam./.
Investment opportunities in south-central region, central highlands promoted in Singapore
An online trade conference took place on July 29 offering Singaporean investors insights into investment opportunities in the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong and the south-central provinces of Ninh Thuan and Binh Thuan.
The event was co-organised by the Vietnam Trade Office in Singapore, the three provinces’ departments of industry and trade, and the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry, and connected enterprises from the four different locations in a virtual meeting.
There were 100 Singaporean and 35 Vietnamese companies involved in the event, which screened video clips on the provinces’ specialties, industrial infrastructure, and energy and transport networks, among other matters.
It was part of efforts by the trade office to promote transactions amid a global economic slowdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Earlier, the Vietnam Trade Office in Singapore held an online fair to introduce Made-in-Vietnam products, providing visitors with images of goods, farms, and processing facilities. It also supported Vietnamese businesses in sending sample goods for display in Singapore and testing by Singaporean companies.
Dung Quat Oil Refinery ready for post-COVID-19 recovery phase
Despite being hit hard by falling oil prices and COVID-19 in the first half of 2020, the Dung Quat Oil Refinery maintained operations via various means and is now ready for the recovery phase in the second half of the year.
Bui Minh Tien, General Director of Binh Son Refining and Petrochemical (BSR), which operates the Dung Quat plant, emphasised that the first half of this year was the most difficult period BSR has ever faced.
The impact of COVID-19 from mid-February to mid-April dragged down oil prices, causing several problems for distribution of the plant’s products. Inventories skyrocketed, at times reaching 90 percent, with tanks filled with oil and the plant facing the possibility of closure.
In April, key revenue earner Mogas 95 saw the company lose 2.98 USD a barrel. Overall, crude oil prices nosedived.
According to the S&P Global Platts Insight magazine, which showcases pricing, news, and analytics across global energy and commodities markets, crack spreads were mostly negative between the end of March and the beginning of April. Crack spread refers to the overall pricing difference between a barrel of crude oil and the petroleum products refined from it.
Facing such difficulties, BSR leaders focused on maintaining the plant’s operations and applying various measures to keep the plant from closure. These included optimising the use of processed crude oil, adjusting production to market demand, and cutting inventories to make room for low-priced barrels.
The company also maximised its distribution of crude oil within the country, to boost value chain links in the sector and seize spot contracts with domestic clients. It also closely followed developments in the market, stepped up forecasting and analysis, and optimised the trade of high-value immediate products.
Meanwhile, good cost saving and currency flow management, on-time payment for crude oil, and negotiations with oil suppliers for longer repayment periods and lower delivery fees led to more effective production and business.
As a result, the Dung Quat Oil Refinery ran stably in the period, with average capacity surpassing designed capacity by 5 percent. It produced a total of some 3.43 million tonnes of oil, exceeding the target by 6.7 percent. Total consumption hit approximately 3.35 million tonnes, or 4.3 percent higher than planned.
According to BSR, despite posting losses in April and May, the company got out of the negative situation in June and began to reel in profits totalling over 1 trillion VND (43.2 million USD).
General Director Tien said that in the second half, the company plans to produce and distribute about 2.5 million tonnes of products and earn 23.6 trillion VND, contributing approximately 2 trillion VND to the State budget.
In the third quarter, BSR will carry out the fourth overall maintenance of the refinery to ensure safety, quality, and cost saving. Meanwhile, more investment will be poured into scientific research, particularly on diversifying crude oil sources, on the optimisation of capacity at the plant and workshops, and on product restructuring.
Dung Quat is in the central province of Quang Ngai and was the first-ever oil refinery in Vietnam, with an annual capacity of 6.5 million tonnes of crude oil. It applies cutting-edge technologies from the US and the EU and is capable of processing about 57 different types of crude oil with high API quality and low sulphur content. The refinery uses 85 percent locally-sourced and 15 percent imported materials./.
Nearly 150 businesses in Hanoi, Binh Phuoc, Ho Chi Minh City and Europe were brought together at an online forum on July 29 to get the latest updates on cooperation opportunities to be presented by the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA).
The event was jointly held by Radio The Voice of Vietnam, the Union of Vietnamese Business Associations in Europe, and the State Committee on Overseas Vietnamese Affairs.
Sharing difficulties when exporting goods to the European market, Chairwoman of the Binh Phuoc People’s Committee Tran Tue Hien said businesses are bearing the brunt of unfavourable weather patterns and abnormal developments of the international market.
EU importers’ policies have regularly changed with stricter standards about food safety and traceability, especially for agricultural and forestry products, she added.
Chairman of the association of Vietnamese businesses in Poland Hoang Xuan Binh said Vietnam mainly exports raw materials and semi-processed products to the EU. However, Vietnam has experience in implementing the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) Free Trade Agreement, while e-commerce has become popular in Vietnam and the EU.
Tens of thousands of Vietnamese businesses are active in Europe, he said, adding that they can serve as a bridge to connect the two sides.
Most of the panels held that the EVFTA will bring about numerous opportunities for Vietnamese and European enterprises. However, opportunities will go with challenges, so the two sides’ businesses should prepare plans to capitalise on the deal’s benefits, according to insiders./.
Vinamilk enjoys revenue growth in Q2
The Vietnam Dairy Products JSC (Vinamilk) recorded over 15.49 trillion VND (670.16 million USD) in consolidated net revenue between April and June, up 9.5 percent from the first quarter and 6.1 percent from a year earlier.
In its financial report for Q2, Vinamilk, one of the largest dairy product manufacturers in Vietnam, said the revenue included more than 13.36 trillion VND generated by domestic business activities, up 10.5 percent quarter on quarter and 7.6 percent year on year.
It attributed the growth to the inclusion of business outcomes of the GTNFoods JSC and the Moc Chau Dairy Cattle Breeding JSC, where it is the largest shareholder, since Q1.
Meanwhile, the parent company’s net revenue was over 13.62 trillion VND, rising 13.6 percent from Q1 and 4 percent from the same period last year.
The lifting of social distancing on April 22 has also support the firm’s performance in Q2, it said.
Despite heavy impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the domestic and global economies, Vinamilk has still taken proactive actions to seek opportunities in potential markets, it noted, adding that the export of dairy products to China, the Republic of Korea and some other markets contributed 1.37 trillion VND to the net revenue in Q2, up 26.8 percent quarter on quarter and 7.1 percent year on year.
Its overseas branches post 761 billion VND in net revenue, accounting for 5 percent of the consolidated net revenue in Q2.
The post-tax consolidated profit in the April-June period reached 3.08 trillion VND, increasing 6.2 percent from a year earlier, the company noted.
In June, Vinamilk became the first milk company of Vietnam to be licensed to ship dairy products to member countries of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU)./.
Vietnamese customers spend more during year-end seasons
Two-thirds of Vietnamese customers said that they will spend more during the year-end and Tet (Lunar new year) shopping seasons, according to the latest Facebook survey.
The survey said that in Viet Nam, 62 per cent of Gen X and Boomers (groups of customers aged above 40 years old) cared about “Online Shopping and In-store Pick Up” while 70 per cent have sent messages to at least one business during the year-end season.
On a global scale, shopping through mobile devices has become more and more popular, with 65 per cent of Gen X and Boomers spending more time using mobiles since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. For Boomers, mobile research during holidays has grown by 20 per cent compared to the same period last year.
In Viet Nam, 82 per cent of year-end shoppers agreed that they looked for sales and bargains. Seventy per cent of surveyed shoppers say the Tet period was a good time to find the best deals. In fact, businesses in Viet Nam reported an increase in number of orders by almost two-three times compared to normal days during the three biggest shopping days, including November 11, Black Friday (last Friday of November) and December 12, according the survey.
Treating oneself with some “small luxuries” reflects the way people approach mega sale days and shopping for Tet.
In Viet Nam, eight out of 10 year-end shoppers said they looked to reward themselves with apparel, confectionery, food, household appliances and health & beauty products across the season. Up to 69 per cent of surveyed customers said that they had plans to spend “much or somewhat more” on Tet shopping in 2020 than in the previous year, said the survey.
The survey found that Vietnamese customers were more open to new products and services, both online and offline, during year-end seasons. 40 per cent of year-end shoppers in Viet Nam wanted authentic products and services with transparent information.
The survey suggested brands should personalise their approach to the GenX and Boomers on a large scale and deliver relevant messages to different target groups to enhance the customer interests and conversion during the year-end shopping seasons and Lunar new year celebration.
Discounts and promotions will continue to play a significant role as users have pushed back their purchase decisions due to COVID-19. Brands should give consumers more reasons and trust to reward themselves through relevant content and well-rounded customer consultation and care policies.
The year-end and Tet shopping seasons are opportunities for businesses to expand to their potential customers and reach new customers. Brands need an effective Omni-channel marketing strategy and take advantage of the power of social media to increase their customer interests and conversion in the upcoming holiday season. Brands should always be honest with customers, try new interactive formats like shopping via Live, games, and talking to consumers.
The online survey on shopping habits of shoppers across Southeast Asia from December 2019 to February 2020 was conducted by Facebook and YouGov, a global public opinion and data company.
Techcombank achieved US$288.4 million before-tax profit in H1
Viet Nam Technological and Commercial Joint-Stock Bank (Techcombank) recorded before-tax profit of VND6.7 trillion (US$288.4 million) in the first half of this year, representing 19 per cent year-on-year increase and extended to 19 consecutive quarters of year-on-year revenue growth, despite continuing challenges due to COVID-19.
Its after-tax profit of VND5.4 trillion increased 19 per cent over VND4.5 trillion for the first half of 2019. The bank continued to lead the market with a healthy 2.9 per cent return on assets (ROA) for the last twelve months ended June 30, 2020. Capital position is strong with Basel II CAR at 16.9 per cent.
Techcombank’s Total Operating Income (TOI) grew 30 per cent to VND11.8 trillion for the six months ended June 30, 2020 from VND9.1 trillion in the first half of 2019.
Net interest income (NII) for the first half grew to VND8.1 trillion, up 23 per cent from the same period last year. Net Fee and Commission Income (NFI) was VND2 trillion, posting 57 per cent year-on-year increase. NFI was 16.8 per cent of TOI as compared to 13.8 per cent in the first half of 2019, with a strong contribution from bond underwriting activity during the period.
In the second quarter of 2020, Techcombank continued to proactively write off selected non-performing loans. Provision expenses for the first half 2020 prudently increased to VND1.2 trillion from VND239 billion against the same period last year.
Its total assets were VND395.9 trillion, an increase of 9.8 per cent. Total credit extended to customers as of June 30 was VND265 trillion, an increase of 7.4 per cent over the corresponding period last year.
Techcombank maintained ample liquidity exceeding regulatory requirements with a loan-to-deposit ratio of 72.5 per cent and short-term funds to medium-to-long-term loans ratio of 25.5 per cent, improving from the 38.4 per cent at the end of 2019.
In the second quarter of 2020, Techcombank successfully raised $500 million in its Inaugural Syndicated Offshore Loan Facility – a 3-year senior unsecured loan which offers an interest margin of 1.5 per cent per annum over London Inter-Bank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Loan proceeds are for general corporate and working capital purposes and will serve as an additional liquidity cushion for the bank.
“The overwhelming success of this transaction and pricing achieved affirms the international lenders’ solid confidence in Techcombank’s robust credit profile and customer-centric business strategy,” said Phung Quang Hung, Managing Director and Standing Deputy CEO of Techcombank.
NPL ratio was 0.9 per cent as of June 30, 2020, against 1.8 per cent in the same period last year. NPL ratio decreased due to the bank’s proactive writing off of bad debts in the first half of 2020.
Cambodia, RoK launch first round of FTA negotiations
Cambodia and the Republic of Korea (RoK) on July 30 launched the first round of free trade negotiations, according to the RoK’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.
During the two-day virtual negotiations, the two sides will discuss details on the envisioned FTA, including expanding the bilateral economic cooperation and opening up the commodity market.
The talks come more than a year after Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen proposed making preparations for the trade deal during his summit with RoK President Moon Jae-in in Phnom Penh in March last year.
The two countries have carried out a joint feasibility study over the first five months of this year.
RoK Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee said in a statement on July 9 that amid the spread of COVID-19, it has become more important for his country to expand cooperation with Southeast Asian countries.
She noted the RoK is pleased to launch FTA negotiations with Cambodia, which can potentially rise as the new hub of production and trade in ASEAN, adding that the two countries will make efforts to come up with a meaningful result within this year.
The two-way trade volume reached an all-time high of 1 billion USD in 2019, up 6 percent from a year earlier. That included 697 million USD of the RoK’s shipments, up 5.5 percent on-year, according to the data released by the Korea International Trade Association.
The increase was significant as the Northeast Asian country’s annual exports fell more than 10 percent year-on-year in 2019 amid the trade row between the US and China.
TATA seeks agricultural business opportunities in Can Tho
India’s TATA Group had a working session with the People’s Committee of Can Tho on business opportunities in agriculture in the Mekong Delta city.
TATA’s country director Gajanan Hujare said the group hoped for more support from the province to better introduce its agricultural equipment and technologies to local farmers.
TATA business manager Giang Quoc Cuong said the group would focus on providing a wide range of products with new features at competitive prices to attract buyers.
TATA is one of the world’s top 10 providers of agricultural equipment and technologies, said Hujare.
The group has exported tractors to Viet Nam since 1980. It set up a representative office in Can Tho in 2014 and been active in the Mekong Delta market since last year.
The city’s vice chairman Nguyen Thanh Dung, for his part, pledged to provide TATA with the best conditions to do business in Viet Nam as the mechanisation of agriculture is one of the city’s priorities.
Can Tho now has more than 80 per cent of agricultural land using mechanised farming tools.
He urged the firm to adopt practical measures to bring benefits to farmers.
Vietinbank posted US$319.6 million before-tax profit
Vietinbank, listed as CTG, posted pre-tax profit of more than VND7.4 trillion (US$319.6 million) in the first half of the year, representing a 40 per cent year-on-year increase.
Vietinbank has announced its financial report, saying that in the context of weak growth in net interest income due to the reduction of lending interest rates to support customers, its non-credit business segment showed positive growth results.
In the first six months of 2020, the bank’s net interest income only increased by 0.2 per cent over the same period to VND16.2 trillion.
In return, the bank shifted its income structure, boosting non-credit income to bring positive results. Profit from service activities in the period increased by 10.5 per cent over the same period, reaching VND2.16 trillion. Profit from foreign exchange trading increased by 31.7 per cent to VND1 trillion.
Earnings from securities trading increased by 185 per cent to VND389 billion. Other operating profit also increased strongly by 36 per cent to VND470 billion.
In the first half of the year, interest from non-credit activities contributed 21.5 per cent to the bank’s total operating income, up from 17.3 per cent in the same period of 2019.
Similar to many other banks, VietinBank began tightening operating expenses, down 3.8 per cent in the period, to VND6.6 trillion.
Risk provision expense decreased by 10.6 per cent to VND6.6 trillion.
As of June 30, VietinBank’s loan balance is VND941.4 trillion, up by 0.7 per cent from the same period last year. Its total assets reached nearly VND1.24 quadrillion, down slightly by 0.1 per cent compared to the beginning of the year. Customer deposits increased by 2.3 per cent to VND913.3 trillion.
VietinBank’s bad debt on June 30 was VND15.9 trillion, accounting for 1.7 per cent of total loans.
In the first six months, the bank bought over VND6 trillion of bad debts at Viet Nam Asset Management Company (VAMC), bringing the total value of debt purchased to date (after about 1.5 years) to nearly VND6.8 trillion. VietinBank also made a risk provision of about 50 per cent of the debt value, speeding up the restructuring plan associated with handling bad debts in the period of 2016-20.
23 commodities see exports reach over US$1 billion each
The 23 export items include mobile phones and components, electronics, computers and components, garments and textiles, machinery, spare parts, footwear, timber and wood products, vehicles and spare parts, seafood, iron, and steel.
The reviewed period saw the country rake in approximately US$145.79 billion from exports, representing an annual increase of 0.2%.
The domestic economic sector continued to represent a bright spot with export turnover rising by 13.5% to US$50.76 billion. Meanwhile, the foreign invested sector reported a 5.7% fall to US$95.03 billion, accounting for 65.2% of the country’s total export turnover.
According to the General Statistics Office, a number of positive signs have emerged for export activities as five Vietnamese dairy companies have been permitted to export their products to China, one of the largest potential markets in the world.
Despite the country’s vegetable and fruit exports to the northern neighbour plummeting due to the impact of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), strong export growth has been recorded in other markets, such as the Republic of Korea, Thailand, Japan, and Taiwan (China).
Furthermore, the export of commodities is expected to pick up during the remaining months of the year once the COVID-19 pandemic is successfully brought under control in markets that are key trading partners for Vietnam.
Tran Thanh Hai, deputy director of the Import and Export Department, said the Ministry of Industry and Trade has been applying information technology to simplify administrative procedures, alongside deploying digital transformation in import-export activities to support local businesses.
Most notably, Vietnamese goods exported to the EU market are to be granted an electronic certificate of origin (C/O) immediately after the European Union-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement comes into effect on August 1.
Vietnam needs full market economy: experts
Economists have said Vietnam would gain many benefits from a full and modern market economy.
“The local economy is now owned and controlled by the State, so it is not yet a market economy,” said Nguyen Dinh Cung, former director of the Central Institute for Economic Management (CIEM) at the seminar “Dialogue on Vietnam’s market economy institutions” held by the National Economics University and CIEM in Hanoi on July 29.
Cung pointed out that the country has been on the path to become a market economy for the last 30 years, adding: “I hope the path will end soon.”
He said the State’s ownership is transferred very slowly, while economic management must be run by the market not the State. He suggested the State should run the market in necessary areas and give space for a market economy.
He considered the level of market development of the economy and the effectiveness of the Government as two indicators of a good market economy but he said: “These indicators in Vietnam are not good.”
Cung said there should be a balance between the managing role of the State and the market, emphasising that “the market economy might not solve all the problems of the economy, but without it, our economy will fail.”
Economist Pham Chi Lan said there were resolutions and documents to build a market economy in Vietnam but, for years, they have been struggling to remove barriers.
She said though the local economy has state-owned enterprises (SOEs), FDI enterprises and private enterprises, SOEs and FDI enterprises still had the upper hand in policies and incentives.
Lan said: “In the current GDP structure, the private sector contributes less than 10 percent,” meaning the low ratio of private sector participation could not help build a market economy.
Economist Le Dang Doanh said though 90 countries have recognised Vietnam as a market economy, according to the evaluation of the US and the European Union, Vietnam does not have one.
To be recognised, he suggested the country step up the removal of barriers in institutions and the Government should not intervene deeply into the economy but only hold ownership in some crucial industries.
Doanh said if so, the economy will gain many benefits, while many procedures will be reduced to help local businesses cut costs.
Fred McMahon, from Canada’s Fraser Institute, said that Vietnam has a remarkable economic growth record, adding that economic freedom would help create momentum for growth to overcome the middle-income trap.
At the seminar, experts said Vietnam should build the economy based on an international set of indicators, similar to how it developed the business environment according to the index of the World Bank and the World Economic Forum.
Tran Tho Dat, president of the National Economics University, said: “It is time to pay attention to the indicators of economic freedom as a measure of the full development of Vietnam’s market economy, especially for Vietnam to overcome the low average development threshold.”/.
Project to enhance capacity of cooperatives in forestry development reviewed
A conference was held in Hanoi on July 30 to evaluate the results of the first phase in 2020 of the project “Capacity building for the Vietnam Cooperative Alliance in forestry development and participation in the national climate agenda” and propose activities for the next phase.
The project is funded by the Food and Forestry Development of Findland (FFD).
Speaking at the event, President of the Vietnam Cooperative Alliance (VCA) Nguyen Ngoc Bao, said Vietnam now has 12,000 agricultural cooperatives with forestry activities and 122 others specialising in forestry, 176 forestry cooperative groups and nearly 1 million farmer households engaging in forestry services.
Appreciating the achieved results of the first phase from January to August 2020, he affirmed that the success of Phase 1-2020 will pave the way for Phase 2 and the following years of the project.
Vietnam wants to develop forest and forestry, it must develop afforestation and forestry cooperatives, he stressed.
The VCA expects Phase 2-2020 of the project will be expanded, benefiting more cooperatives to bring about more economic and environmental efficiency, he said, expressing his hope that this project will prolong to help Vietnam join the world in the climate change fighting programme.
Nguyen Manh Cuong, Director of the Institute for Cooperative Economy Development, which was assigned to implement the project, said that by July 15, 2020, the project had built and issued the Strategic Plan of the VCA in forestry development and participation in the national climate change agenda for 2020-2030.
It compiled and printed 12 publications with a total of 1,098 pages for training of trainers (TOT), as well as organised training courses to improve forestry business capacity and participation in the national climate agenda for VCA staff, cooperatives, and small forestry households in Vietnam.
In addition, the project held an online TOT course for 141 participants and three seminars collecting feedback to the VCA’s Strategic Plan on forestry development and participation in the national climate agenda for 2020-2030, he added./.
Deputy PM urges transport sector to accelerate public investment disbursement
Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung on July 30 urged the transport sector to speed up the implementation of major projects and public investment disbursement in the time ahead.
Speaking at a working session with representatives of the Ministry of Transport (MoT), Dung said the MoT and other relevant ministries, agencies and localities need to effectively implement the site clearance work for the North-South Expressway and Long Thanh International Airport projects, among others.
Joint efforts are also needed to remove bottlenecks regarding institutions, mechanisms, policies and regulations on compensation and resettlement, the official said.
Dung pointed to the huge tasks ahead for the sector, especially in transport infrastructure development, thus helping to raise national competiveness and create a stable environment for developing national transport system.
To prepare for transport infrastructure development during the 2021-2025 period, the ministry should do well the forecasting of capital demands for major projects in order to put forth resources mobilisation and allocation plans, he requested.
The MoT reported that as of the end of June, it had disbursed 13.38 trillion VND (579.4 million USD), fulfilling 33.7 percent of the yearly target and higher than the national average of 28.9 percent.
About 16.58 trillion VND is expected to be disbursed by the end of July, accomplishing 41.7 percent of the yearly target, it said.
Deputy Minister Nguyen Ngoc Dong said issues regarding site clearance and investment capital structure have hindered the disbursement.
Hanoi firms to apply e-invoices from late September
The Hanoi Department of Taxation has worked with software solution providers to support businesses in introducing e-invoices, towards the target that all local companies will switch to e-invoices from late September.
So far 27 businesses have met the criteria in technical and infrastructure systems as well as data connection quality, which will join hands with the department to introduce e-invoices.
The department has continued to issue guidelines on data standards in line with the General Department of Vietnam Customs’ regulations on e-invoice data and methods of data transmission between businesses and the tax authority.
It has also been answering questions from businesses, as part of efforts to help e-invoice suppliers broaden their coverage, thus speeding up the use of e-invoices in business transactions.
The department will continue to work closely with suppliers to support them during implementation.
Vietnam, New Zealand target 1.7 billion USD in trade in 2020
Trade between Vietnam and New Zealand tripled over the last decade, from 320 million USD in 2009 to over 1 billion USD in 2018, and the figure is expected to hit 1.7 billion USD this year, according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade.
Vietnam is currently the 16th-largest trade partner of New Zealand and the two countries boast many advantages from supplementing each other. New Zealand has high demand for importing garments and textiles, footwear, wood, tropical farm produce, and seafood, which are strengths of Vietnam, while Vietnam needs to import milk and dairy products, wine, lamb, fruit, raw wood materials, and materials and accessories for garment-textile and leather-footwear.
New Zealand has allowed the import of Vietnamese fresh mangoes, dragon fruit, and rambutan, while Vietnam is proposing it also grant licences for the import of fresh limes and passionfruit.
Vietnam has opened door for potatoes, frozen beef, kiwi fruit, and apples from New Zealand, to boost bilateral trade.
In the context of COVID-19, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc suggested the two countries strive to achieve two-way trade of 2 billion USD each year, during his online high-level talks with his New Zealand counterpart Jacinda Ardern.
He asked New Zealand to open its door wider to Vietnamese farm produce as well as share experience in building brands and developing value chains for certain fruit to access other selective markets.
Keith Conway, Chargé d’Affaires at the New Zealand Embassy in Vietnam, said two-way trade enjoyed growth of over 7 percent in 2019.
Both countries are among the top 20 trade partners of each other, with two-way trade tripling after the agreement to set up the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Area (AANZFTA) was signed in 2009.
According to the official, both nations are making good progress in optimising the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and there will therefore be many opportunities to expand markets, especially in high-end food, wine, agriculture technology and equipment, education, and tourism.
Meanwhile, New Zealand Ambassador to Vietnam Wendy Matthews said 2020 marks the 45th anniversary of diplomatic ties.
Vietnam has been one of New Zealand’s fastest-growing trade partners in Southeast Asia over the last five years, she added./.
Singapore records highest unemployment rate over the past decade
Singapore’s unemployment rate rose to 2.9 percent in the second quarter of 2020 from 2.4 percent in the preceding quarter, the highest level over the past decade, according to the country’s Ministry of Manpower (MOM).
The total employment (excluding foreign domestic workers) plunged more than 25 percent.
Resident unemployment rate rose to 3.9 percent in the second quarter from 3.3 percent in the preceding quarter.
In June only, 79,600 Singaporean citizens were unemployed.
All three broad sectors – manufacturing, services and construction – saw a sharp decline in employment in the second quarter.
According to the Singapore’s Ministry of Trade and Industry, its economy shrunk by 41.2 percent in the reviewed period./.
Agricultural businesses trained on EVFTA
A training workshop called “Agricultural Production and Trade Companies – Actions to Access the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA)” took place in Hanoi on July 30, gathering together officials from the sector, representatives of relevant organisations, and businesses.
Opening the workshop, Le Thanh Hoa, deputy director of the Agricultural Product Processing and Market Development Department at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), also introduced the Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures.
He said bilateral and multilateral FTAs to which Vietnam is a party, including the EVFTA, all have regulations on SPS measures, including details on commitments set for Vietnamese farm produce exported to EU member countries.
Pham Dong Quang, former deputy director of MARD’s Cultivation Department, said the challenges for Vietnamese farming exports to the EU include regulations on origin, safety, animal and plant quarantine, and intellectual property protection, as well as issues related to fair trade and sustainable production.
Farming in Vietnam is of small scale and lacks links, he said, while producers remain unfamiliar with recording product origin information. These result in exports facing the risk of trade protection measures being applied by the EU.
He recommended local companies carefully read the agreement to boost production for better links in value chains, increase investment in processing, and apply international standards in business management.
The official also suggested they apply sustainable production standards following importers’ requests, develop organic farming, and improve human resources.
Experts have said Vietnam’s agricultural sector will be one of the biggest winners from the EVFTA, as a reduction in tariffs will increase demand and boost exports to Europe’s large, high-spending consumer market.
According to EU figures, trade in agricultural products represents 11.75 percent of the total two-way trade between Vietnam and the EU./.
Individual investors key to stronger market development
After 20 years of development, information transparency is still the key to protection of individual investors and stronger development of the securities market, SSI Securities Corp Chairman Nguyen Duy Hung said on Tuesday.
“Individual investors are the most vulnerable to any changes of the market so they should be protected,” Hung told an event held by the Vietnam Stock Journalist Club to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Vietnamese stock market.
“It doesn’t mean showing investors how to trade, it’s about providing the market with standards, which are kept updated, so company information is transparent,” he said.
It is important for the regulators and government agencies to lure idle money from people to the stock market while making the market more attractive than bank saving, the SSI Securities Chairman said.
“I hope the Vietnamese securities market will soon approach international standards and credit rating agencies will better value it.”
The number of companies trading shares on the three markets – Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange (HoSE), Ha Noi Stock Exchange (HNX) and Unlisted Public Company Market (UPCoM) – should increase and the listing of their shares will force them to clarify business information, he said.
Le Hai Tra, acting chairman of HoSE, said that securities firms have raised their equity capital by 41 per cent each year, equal to VND5.5 trillion (US$237.6 million) per year, since 2006.
“That is an amazing number but brokerages are still much smaller than listed commercial banks,” he noted. Each year, listed banks raise VND32 trillion worth of equity capital.
“Securities firms would have to increase their capital in the future so they are capable of offering higher quality products and services to investors,” Tra said.
According to individual investor Tran Tien Dung, total savings in the country are huge and people are unwilling to spend on securities products on worries about potential risks.
The total number of domestic accounts is now 2.5 million, but it is modest compared to Viet Nam’s total population of 100 million while the total number of saving accounts is much larger, State Securities Commission Chairman Tran Van Dung said.
That fact proves there is room for further development of the local securities market, but there will be much more difficulties, he said.
The SSC will upgrade its technological infrastructure and develop new products and policies to support investors and provide them with better market transparency, Dung said.
“It is vital to gain the trust from individual investors and the market regulators should perform better to establish an efficient legal framework for the market,” he said.
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