Five VN companies in Asia Pacific’s top 500 retailers

Five Vietnamese companies have been listed among Asia Pacific’s top 500 retailers in 2014, according to the Retail Asia Publishing Pte and the Euromonitor (Asia) Pte Ltd.

They are Saigon Union of Trading Cooperatives, with last year’s retail turnover of US$1,105 million, Big C chain under Casino Guichard Perrachon SA (US$534 million), Nguyen Kim Trading JSC (US$490 million), Saigon Jewelry Co.Ltd (US$487 million) and Mobile World JSC (US$395 million).

Since 2004, the Retail Asia Publishing Pte has worked with Euromonitor International to rank the 500 leading retailers of 14 Asia-Pacific economies, namely Australia, China, Hong Kong (China), India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, the Republic of Korea, Thailand, Taiwan (China), and Vietnam.

They also choose the top ten retailers of each economy based on retail turnover, growth, retail floor area, and the number of shops.

Alongside the five above-mentioned companies, others in the top ten Vietnamese retailers in 2014, are Phu Nhuan Jewelry JSC (US$225 million), Pico JSC (US$156 million), Parkson Commercial Centre under Lion Group (US$133 million), Viet Thong A Import Export Trading Production Corp (US$102 million) and Tran Anh Digital World JSC (US$95 million).

Three outstanding retailers of each economy will get gold, silver and bronze awards at a ceremony in Singapore this coming November.

Equitisation of State-owned enterprises discussed

Breakthrough measures are needed to boost the equitisation of State-owned enterprises (SOEs), especially those proven ineffectual, said participants at a June 30 seminar in HCM City.

Professor Le Quoc, Deputy Director of the Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics and Public Administrations (HCMA), emphasized that SOE restructuring should pay attention to operation of different sectors and businesses, with a focus on economic groups, adding they should strictly prohibited from expanding beyond their core business areas.

According to a Government Decree issued in May 2014, SOEs are subjected to strict scrutiny in order to monitor law enforcement. The freshly issued decree aims to help SOE owners and managers grasp accurate information on real situation of their business operation.

However, many experts raised concerns over the implementation of the Decree, saying that it is essential to inspect business operations, take active role in preventing risks, and map out appropriate solutions for ineffective businesses.

Dr. Nguyen Thi My Dung from Financial University said the SOE equitisation process from 2014– 2015 is facing numerous challenges due to weaknesses in major State corporations and groups’ operations and the strong impact from the removal of tax barriers created by free trade agreements.

She stressed the need to make thorough preparations for SOE equitisation to raise competitiveness against imported products.

Other delegates at the seminar suggested mobilizing social sources for economic development and enhancing people’s role in building and mastering the economy might be a workable solution.

Vietnam attends Hong Kong seminar on sustainable growth

A Vietnamese delegation led by Deputy Consul General to Hong Kong and Macau Pham Van Cong attended a seminar on maintaining stable and sustainable growth of the Asia – Pacific region in China’s Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong on June 30.

The function, participated by more than 100 experts, entrepreneurs and officials across the world, took place amid the global economic climate’s modest growth and downside risks.

It aimed to explore viable means for maintaining stable and sustainable growth since it was considered as a platform for representatives from the academic, business and government sectors to examine how to promote and inject new impetus for growth through cooperation in Asia-Pacific.

At the seminar, participants shared their views on Hong Kong’s contributions to the regional trade growth; ways to manage disruptions to supply chains; measures to help small- and medium-sized enterprises position themselves in the ever-changing economic climate; and how the development of technology shapes trade and business in the region.

They all agreed that as a leading global financial hub, Hong Kong plays a major role in maintaining and promoting the Asia-Pacific region’s growth.

They suggested its authorities conduct more open policies so that Hong Kong can fully utilise its advantages in the regional growth.

The seminar was held by the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council, the Hong Kong Committee for Pacific Economic Cooperation, and the China National Committee for Pacific Economic Cooperation.

Aquatic production expands in first half of 2014

Vietnam’s aquatic production and seafood catch picked up in the first half of 2014 despite complicated developments in the East Sea, the Directorate of Fisheries said at a conference on June 30.

Over the period, the total output topped 2.86 million tonnes, up 4.4 percent from a year earlier with a 3.4 percent increase in farming yield and a 5.5 percent rise in fishing operation, statistics show.

The directorate reported that good weather plus stable fuel and seafood prices facilitated fishing activities.

However, the sector’s performance has been affected by tensions in the East Sea, triggered by China’s illegal placement of the oil rig Haiyang Shiyou-981 in Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf, as well as its escort vessels’ intimidation and damage to Vietnamese fishermen’s properties.

The agency has worked with authorities of littoral provinces to update fishermen on developments in the waters, legal regulations, and measures to avoid risks at sea, it said.

At the same time, by strictly following the farming schedule, diseases on grown aquatic products were curbed and the productivity was kept stable, reports added.

For the rest of the year, the directorate plans to step up the supervision over the observance of shrimp and tra fish farming regulations, disease prevention, and the quality of fry and animal feed.

Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Vu Van Tam said the agency should push up trade promotion in key and new markets while working harder on negotiations on bilateral cooperation in order to remove trade barriers to drive exports.

He also asked it to continue to closely follow the East Sea situation, provide fishermen with safety guide, and examine ports and wharves for vessels to take shelter as the storm season is approaching.

Hanoi fair to bring Vietnamese goods to consumers

Hanoi will host the second Vietnamese Goods Fair from August 22-26 with a view to bringing locally-made products with high quality and reasonable prices to consumers.

The municipal Department of Industry and Trade said on June 30 that this year’s event will feature 200-220 stalls showcasing a wide range of essential goods such as foodstuff, beverages, garments, footwear, electronic and electric products, household utensils, home interiors and handicrafts.

Besides Hanoi businesses, the fair is expected to draw the participation of those from other localities nationwide, including Cao Bang, Hai Duong and Ninh Thuan, said Tran Thi Phuong Lan, Deputy Director of the department.

Organisers will support businesses in trade villages and industrial complexes in bringing their new products to the market, she added.

In response to the “Vietnamese prioritise using Vietnamese goods” campaign, in 2013, together with the first fair, the department organised 526 shipments of Vietnamese goods to rural areas, industrial and export processing zones.

In the first six months of this year, five Vietnamese goods market-days were held in industrial zones, with the involvement of 64 businesses.

Between now and the year-end, the department will organise more than 70 programmes to provide made-in-Vietnam goods for rural residents and workers.

Sacombank named “Best Emerging Market Bank”

Global Finance Magazine has presented its prestigious the Best Emerging Market Bank 2014 Award to Saigon Thuong Tin Commercial Joint Stock Bank (Sacombank).  

The honour is conferred on banks based on criteria such as the ability to capture local conditions and customer demand, the growth rate of assets, profitability, strategic partners, product improvement, competitive prices, bad debt management and efficient usage of technology.

The receipt of the award confirms the solid development of Sacombank and is a motivating force for continued improvement, a bank spokesperson said.

Global Finance is a specialized magazine for CEOs, financial directors, and marketing staffs. It currently publishes over 50,000 publications to readers in 163 countries around the globe.    

Economic forum for central region due in August

An economic development forum for the central region will be held on August 8 to fully tap its potential and remove obstacles to tourism, industry, infrastructure construction and human resources development.

The central key economic region plays important role in socio-economic development strategies of the central-Central highlands region but of the whole country.

The forum offers policymakers and businesses a chance to examine new opportunities from the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in 2015 as scheduled, as well as the development of the sea-borne economy closely linked to industry and services.

Policymakers will review five years of implementing regional economic development planning to bring into full play comparative advantages of each region and its localities.

The event will be held by the Vietnam Economic Times.

HCM City promotes investment in Belgium

A Vietnamese delegation, led by Le Hoang Quan, Chairman of the People's Committee of Ho Chi Minh City is on a working visit to Belgium from June 28-July 3, aiming to attract increased investment and boost cooperation.

During their visit, the delegation will meet with representatives from the Belgian business community in Brussels and governmental officials to discuss cooperation opportunities in education, health care and science.

They will also discuss provisions for official development assistance (ODA) that HCM City is seeking for its Soai Rap River dredging project.

Soai Rap River dredging project

City chairman Le Hoang Quan said he is highly appreciative of Belgium’s support for Vietnam in general and HCM City in particular in national development and international integration.

Quan especially singled out his favour for the ODA programme support which has helped HCM City modernise and develop its maritime transport system and connect it with other seaports in the Asian region.

He also underscored the point that Vietnam and the city strive to create favourable conditions for Belgian enterprises to do business in the country.

Addressing a welcoming reception on June 28, Quan congratulated the third anniversary of the founding of the Belgium– Vietnam Alliance and hoped that the two sides will continue to implement more practical activities to further promote bilateral relations.

He also informed his hosts of China’s illegal placement of its oil rig Haiyang Shiyou – 981 deep inside Vietnam’s continental shelf and exclusive economic zone, threatening maritime security and safety in the East Sea.

Quan called on the international community to support Vietnam in its quest to resolve the territorial dispute for the best interests of the countries in the region and around the world.

VSIP Quang Ngai gearing up

The Vietnam-Singapore Industrial Park (VSIP) in Quang Ngai has attracted seven foreign-invested enterprises (FIEs) since it officially opened in September 2013.

Three projects capitalized at more than US$115 million have got off the ground and are due to be put into operation in 2015.

Located in Son Tinh district, VSIP Quang Ngai is expected to stimulate economic development in the region and create tens of thousands of jobs, which is providing a tremendous boost to social welfare.

For its importance, the provincial administration has asked its relevant agencies and Son Tinh district to speed up land acquisition and compensate displaced residents.

So far the district has completed land acquisition and is currently building two resettlement areas for displaced residents.

King Riches Vietnam is currently erecting a footwear manufacturing facility in the industrial park, specialising in outsourcing work for some of world’s most famous footwear brand names such as Timberland, Clark, New Balance and Nike.

The facility is being constructed at an invested cost of US$30-35 million and will be fully operational within the year.

The company’s director, Mickey Chen, said the key factor in making the decision to invest in the VSIP is the provincial leaders’ commitment to creating favourable conditions for investment development.

Two other projects – a US$35 million potato chip factory invested by the Philippines’ URC Central and China’s Hebei Xindadong Textiles Factory – are also under construction.

Once fully operational these two factories alone will provide good paying jobs for more than 11,000 residents. At present, the two companies are actively seeking to recruit more than 5,000 workers.

VSIP Quang Ngai Director Anthony Tan attributed the initial success of the VSIP to the province’s commitments and incentives, saying they are instrumental in facilitating land clearance.

VSIP Quang Ngai is highly appreciated by investors as it lies in the central key economic region, near Chu Lai airport, railway, highway and deep-water port, Anthony added.

Investors at the VSIP enjoy preferential taxes that the Government granted for Dung Quat Economic Zone. It will definitively be an attractive destination for both domestic and foreign investors in the future.

Syrena Vietnam ready for Ninh Thuan resort project

Syrena Vietnam, a subsidiary of the private multi-sector BIM Group, will build a luxury resort and residential complex in the south central coastal province of Ninh Thuan, to meet rising tourism demands.

The Ninh Thuan Provincial People’s Committee reported that the developer had submitted an investment plan asking for permission to develop its high grade Vinh Hy tourism site in the province.

According to the provincial committee, Syrena wants to invest around US$80 million in the site to develop a project which will comprise of a five-star resort, 60 villas with private pools, 40 guest chalets as well as restaurants and sport and entertainment facilities.

The project covers an area of 66 hectares and Syrena claimed it could complete the project construction within 36 months after receiving an investment certificate.

“The developer has not yet gained approval from the provincial committee because we want to review whether or not the project suits the provincial development plan,” said an unnamed official at the Ninh Thuan Provincial Department of Planning and Investment.

Ninh Thuan, located 350 kilometres north of Ho Chi Minh City, is currently one of the poorest provinces in Vietnam. However, the locality has huge potential for wind and solar energy and attractive beaches which are ideal for tourism.

If Syrena’s resort and residential project is developed, it will contribute to boosting tourism in Ninh Thuan and be the company’s second resort and residential complex in the country.

Established in 2010 by BIM Group, with the chartered capital of US$119 million, the group’s subsidiary is now developing a US$2 billion Halong Marina project in the northern province of Quang Ninh.

Strengthening safeguard measures for businesses

Vietnamese businesses are now facing an increasing number of risks in transactions with foreign partners. However, they do not know how to protect themselves from potentially devastating effects.

Foreign-related trade disputes have increased in number alongside commercial growth in recent years. Around 14,767 trade disputes were settled in courtrooms in 2013, including 99 at the Vietnam International Arbitration Centre (VIAC), 51% of which are related to foreigners.

The actual number is much higher than reported.  Around 15 Vietnamese cases have not been dealt with in the UK, let alone others since early this year, according PhD Tran Thi Lan Anh, from the Leeds University.

Professor Nguyen Trong Dieu, President of the Vietnam Private Business Association (VPBA), says, Vietnamese businesses struggled to survive the economic slowdown in 2013, with more than 60,000 businesses going bankrupt or halting operations, mostly private owned.

Over the years, private businesses have undergone rapid growth due to market volatility, and they have therefore negated major factors for sustainable development, including technology, creativity, management capacity and connectivity. Sectors of Vietnamese strength, such as rice and coffee, have not brought profits for producers.

Private businesses are in danger of losing out to professional rivals when Vietnam is integrating deeper into the global economy, Dieu stresses.

Many other challenges remain, such as complicated legislation, limited expertise, a high expense for lawyers, language barriers, and lack of information about partners and support from State agencies. These challenges put domestic private enterprises at a disadvantage if a trade dispute arises.

Ho Quang Minh, former director of the External Economic Department under the Ministry of Planning and Investment, says domestic private enterprises receive almost no support in international transactions. In addition, not all Vietnamese lawyers are capable of being engaged in international disputes.

Currently, 75% of trade disputes of Vietnamese businesses are handled by different methods rather than legal actions. A lot of support systems for businesses have been built but they have not paid off yet. Businesses still need experts and lawyers who directly get involved in their performance, especially in dealing with international transactions.

The fact is that many foreign-related disputes have ended in deadlock due to loopholes in contract terms, partners’ withdrawal or business bankruptcy.

Furthermore, the legal system is too complicated. Domestic businesses do not have qualified experts for international cases while it is quite costly to hire lawyers.

PhD Lan Anh suggests that private businesses should have legal affairs departments and send experts to take part in negotiations or sign contracts. When disputes arise, enterprises should ask for immediate help from legal experts before rivals go bankrupt or withdraw from Vietnam.

When a dispute erupts overseas, businesses are encouraged to contact Vietnamese diplomatic representative offices in that country to ask for professional or financial support.

Cautious consumer spending continues

Even five years after the financial crisis, consumers still tightly controlled spending, with purchasing power levelling off in the first six months of this year.

According to the General Statistics Office (GSO), the total retail sale of goods and services in the first half of this year was estimated at US$68.5 billion, up 10.7 per cent over the same period last year.

However, excluding inflation, the growth was only 5.7 per cent, just equivalent to the rate of the five-month period and lower than the four-month period's 6 per cent, that was showing signs of levelling off.

Retail sales, which contributed three-fourth to the total value rose by 12.2 per cent – the lowest level among four components including accomodation and restaurant, retail sales, consumption and tourism services. The tourism service posted the highest increasing rate of 20.5 per cent.

GSO said that the economic difficulty still had its impact on employment, incomes and spending of consumers.

Rising petrol and power prices and health-care services in HCM City added to the slowdown spending.

Other indicators announced previously also showed that industrial production was also in difficulty with high inventories (nearly 80 per cent) in the first six months, coupled with a rising number of companies being dissolved or being forced to halt operations (up 16.3 per cent over the same period last year).

GSO said there would be hardly any improvement in purchasing power in the coming months as the aggregate demand had not improved, adding that a large part of consumers were tightening their belts.

Spending on books and school supplies were expected to rise, as the new school year would begin in September.

MARD speeds up agricultural revamp

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) has launched a restructuring plan for agricultural production till 2020, which focuses on equitisation and divestments by the state in corporations and groups.

Currently, MARD manages 13 corporations and groups with total investment capital of up to VND3.562 trillion (US$161 million).

Under the guidance of the government on promoting equitisation in state enterprises, MARD has boosted equitisation and state divestments since 2006.

Specifically, since 2012, all agricultural and forestry enterprises have been transformed into single-member limited companies, agricultural joint stock companies or protection forest management boards.

There are now six groups and corporations with 145 agricultural affiliates, 148 forestry affiliates, three joint stock affiliates, and 87 protection forest management affiliates.

Under the restructuring plan approved by the Prime Minister, six corporations under MARD's management must complete settlement and conversion to joint stock companies until 2016.

These are Agricultural and Rural Development Construction Corporation, Viet Nam National Sea Products Corporation and Viet Nam National Vegetable, Fruit and Agricultural Product Corporation.

The other three are Viet Nam National Tea Corporation, Viet Nam General Corporation of Agricultural Materials and Viet Nam Forest Corporation.

MARD will continue to divest 64 per cent stake in the Sugar Corporations I and II and hand over the Viet Nam Livestock Corporation to the State Capital Investment Corporation (SCIC). Companies of agriculture and forestry will be merged and equitised with state-held controlling stake.

According to MARD, reorganised agricultural companies have been developed in a stable manner thanks to enhanced scientific and technical investment. Corporate revenue and profits, and annual budget payments of many companies have increased rapidly.

After equitisation, due to requirements of increased production to meet market demands, links in agricultural production and product consumption must be developed in diverse forms and in accordance with the production conditions of each region and locality. However, these linkages grow slowly and with difficultly.

MARD said it will promote building of sustainable link models on a voluntary basis and ensure the harmonious legitimate interests of the companies involved in the models.

It will also focus on the key role of involving investment companies and agricultural production businesses to ensure the value chain from production, processing and marketing of products.

Seafood production sees steady growth in first 6 months

Viet Nam's aquatic production and seafood catch picked up in the first half of 2014 despite complicated developments in the East Sea, the Directorate of Fisheries said yesterday.

In that period, the total output topped 2.86 million tonnes, up 4.4 per cent from a year earlier with a 3.4 per cent increase in farming yield and a 5.5 per cent rise in fishing operation, statistics showed.

Giving these details at a conference, the directorate reported that good weather plus stable fuel and seafood prices facilitated fishing activities.

However, the sector's performance has been affected by tensions in the East Sea, triggered by China's illegal placement of the oil rig Haiyang Shiyou-981 in Viet Nam's exclusive economic zone and continental shelf, as well as the intimidation and damage to Vietnamese fishermen's properties by its escort vessels.

The agency has worked with authorities of littoral provinces to update fishermen on developments in the waters, legal regulations, and measures to avoid risks at sea, it said. At the same time, by strictly following the farming schedule, diseases on grown aquatic products were curbed and the productivity was kept stable, reports added.

For the rest of the year, the directorate planned to step up supervision over the observance of shrimp and tra fish farming regulations, disease prevention, and the quality of fry and animal feed.

Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Vu Van Tam said the agency should push up trade promotion in key and new markets while working harder on negotiations on bilateral cooperation in order to remove trade barriers to drive exports. wharfs for vessels to take shelter as the storm season is approaching.

S&P rates Viet Nam for stability

Standard & Poor's affirmed its ‘BB-' long-term and ‘B' short-term sovereign credit ratings on Viet Nam late last week, with the outlook on the long-term rating being stable.

The rating agency said that although the stabilisation measures undertaken over the past two years have dampened growth, they have also restored macroeconomic stability, resulting in relatively low and stable inflation, higher confidence in the local currency, and a much improved external liquidity.

Viet Nam's improving external liquidity and moderate foreign debt position supports its creditworthiness.

The sovereign's external borrowings remain modest with low-cost debt and long maturity, and S&P projects that the gross external debt will decline to about 30 per cent of the GDP in the next three years, while the gross external financing needs will remain in a comfortable range of between 80 and 90 per cent of the sum of the current account receipts and usable reserves in this period.

"The favourable outlook for Viet Nam's external profile is based on our expectation of little or no commercial external borrowing by the sovereign, along with continuing overall balance-of-payment surpluses, driven by net inflows of foreign direct investments of about 4 per cent of the GDP and a dynamic export sector," S&P said.

It said that Viet Nam's growth potential is robust, given an export manufacturing sector that is well-diversified and increasingly oriented toward higher value-added goods, a rising share of services and manufacturing in economic output, and the growth of the private sector.

Exports are also expected to get a further boost from recent and pending free-trade agreements, the agency said.

The stable outlook on the ratings reflects S&P's expectation that over the next 12 to 18 months, Viet Nam's policy stance will ensure macroeconomic stability, cementing the economic improvements and gains in policy credibility.

The outlook also incorporates S&P's expectations that the Government's key reform objectives targeting the banking sector and State-owned enterprises will continue, and the risks and inefficiencies posed by these sectors will reduce, S&P said.

"We may raise the ratings if there are indications that Viet Nam is able to generate per capita real GDP growth of more than 5.5 per cent in the next five to 10 years without causing macroeconomic imbalances. We may also raise the ratings on signs of improved institutional and governance effectiveness, likely based on greater macroeconomic policy consistency and tangible progress in structural reforms," it said.

Kinh Do Corp eyes bigger market share

The leading domestic confectionery producer, Kinh Do Corporation (KDC), yesterday said it would expand production in new categories of noodles, coffee and edible oil in an aim to enlarge its market share.

At its annual shareholders' meeting in HMC City yesterday, KDC Vice President Tran Quoc Viet said the growth of the confectionery industry was expected to be low in coming yeas, but food consumption in Viet Nam, as a developing country, would remain stable.

Viet added that KDC would continue to focus on growth and expansion in the coming year through diversification into new categories, countries and consumers.

He said that KDC would work with Sai Gon Vewong to sell a variety of instant noodle products in Viet Nam.

The company will introduce its first new product in the third quarter, with the goal of becoming one of the top three players in the instant noodle market.

It will also become a strategic shareholder of Vocarimex and Phin Deli through an equitisation process to make edible oil and coffee.

To fulfill the goal, KDC will shift all of its activities related to confectionary production to the Kinh Do Binh Duong Corporation.

After restructuring the company, KDC will operate in eight main categories, including confectionary, ice cream and dairy, noodles, oil, coffee and retail.

Last year, the corporation posted revenue of nearly VND4.6 trillion (US$219 million) and a pre-tax profit of VND619 billion ($29 million).

For 2014, it is expected to reach revenue of VND5.2 trillion ($248 million) and pre-tax profit of VND660 billion ($31 million), up by 13 per cent and 6.6 per cent year-on-year, respectively.

This year, KDC will share dividends by cash at a rate of 20 per cent per share.

First domestic exchange-traded fund to track VN30 Index

Fund manager VietFund Management is planning an initial public offering for the country's first domestic exchange-traded fund early in the third quarter, providing investors with a low-cost investment channel to expose to the attractive Vietnamese equity market.

An ETF is a fund traded on the stock market. And most ETFs track an index like stock and bond indexes, a commodity, or a basket of assets like an index fund.

They are an attractive investment because of their benefits like market exposure, low costs, high transparency, no foreign ownership limit, and trading like a single listed stock, Nguyen Thi Viet Ha, head of research and development at the HCM Stock Exchange, said.

Tran Thanh Tan, CEO of VietFund Management (VFM), said he had applied for setting up the first local ETF.

"Our fund, the ETF VFMVN30, will track the VN30 Index, which consists of 30 companies listed on HOSE in terms of market capitalisation, free float, and liquidity."

The VN30 index constituency currently represents around 55 per cent of the market cap and 50-70 per cent of daily trading value. The list includes blue chips such as Vietcombank (VCB), Military Bank (MBB), Vinamilk (VNM) Kinh Do Corp. (KDC), and the Financing and Promoting Technology Corp (FPT). About half of its tradable market cap is at or near the foreign ownership limit.

"The investment strategy of ETF VFMVN30 is to replicate the performance of VN30 as closely as possible." Tan said, explaining that in the year-to-date the VN30 Index has risen 18 per cent.

The ETF will trade as a listed security on the HCM City Stock Exchange and investors could opt to exchange the ETF units for component securities or vice versa.

Its indicative net asset value (iNAV) will be calculated every 15 seconds during trading hours (in developed markets it is done in real time). This iNAV will be listed on the websites of HOSE, the fund management company, and securities companies.

Transparency requirements for ETF listings ensure investors get easy access to information like the number of units issued, portfolio companies, NAV, and its assets structure.

According to the HOSE research and development head, the ETF's cost is expected to be lower than that of mutual funds - around 1 per cent compared to 2-2.5 per cent for the latter.

Domestic ETFs are allowed to invest in all kinds of shares while foreign ones are constrained by foreign ownership limits. An investor with a modest sum of money can still diversify their portfolio by acquiring ETF certificates.

Speaking to Viet Nam News at a recent event in HCM City, Vu Bang, the chairman of the State Securities Commission of Vietnam, said the SSC is considering applications for two ETFs and the soonest it might issue a licence is this month.

"Once ETFs are put in operation they will help diversify the products available on Viet Nam's stock market, increase liquidity, and attract more capital flow thanks to its advantages like low costs.

"Preparations for the trading of ETF units have been carefully made at the Ha Noi and HCM City exchanges. The legal work has been basically completed as well."

However, it would take several years for ETFs to attain large size and liquidity, he said.

But he promised that related authorities would improve policies and regulations to ensure sustainable growth of the funds as well as the stock market.

VFM's CEO said the ETF VFMVN30 would be listed after its IPO.

The fund's initial chartered capital will be at least VND50 billion (US$2.35 million) raised from authorised participants, local and foreign investors.

VietFund Management, established in 2003, was the first fund management company to be set up in Viet Nam. It offers diversified financial products and services to local and international investors through investment funds and portfolio management services.

The HCM City-headquartered company currently manages four funds - Vietnam Securities Investment Fund (VF1), Vietnam Blue-chips Investment Fund (VF4), Vietnam Active Fund (VFA), and Vietnam Bond Fund (VFB) with total asset of US$95 million under its management.

Four foreign ETFs have invested almost US$1 billion in equities in Viet Nam. They are DB X-trackers FTSE Vietnam, Market Vectors Vietnam Index, MSCI Frontier Markets Index, and IShares MSCI Frontier 100 Index ETFs.

ETFs had their genesis in 1989 with Index Participation Shares, an S&P 500 proxy that traded on the American Stock Exchange and the Philadelphia Stock Exchange, and have since witnessed a global boom.

VietJet launches mega promotion

VietJet has launched another mega-promotion scheme with 2,500 air tickets for its new Da Nang – Can Tho route from VND99,000 (US$4.7).

These super cheap tickets are available from June 30 to July 6 for travel from July 22 to December 31, 2014 (including public holidays).

The airline's new route linking central Viet Nam's Da Nang with Can Tho, the biggest city in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta, will officially open from July 22 with three round trips per week.

Work begins on metal tank plant

Tamada Viet Nam started the construction, last week, of the Metal Tank Production Plant in northern Hai Phong City's Dinh Vu Industrial Zone (DVIZ).

Covering an area of over 23,000sq.m, the project has a total investment capital of US$10 million. The plant is expected to be completed by early 2015 and become operational in September 2015.

The plant could produce 5,800 tonnes of products per year, including tanks, ducting, silo and accessories as well as fibre reinforced plastic (FRP) moulding products. It is expected to create 80 direct jobs for local people.

DVIZ has attracted over 50 investors from various countries and industries with the total investment amounting to nearly $3 billion.

Central Highlands to shore up irrigation

Central Highlands provinces plan to build more than 2,080 irrigation facilities and upgrade nearly 700 in order to supply more water for the ethnic minority population, both for daily use and production activities.

Construction, funded by the State budget, will start immediately. The work will be completed by 2020, according to the Central Highlands Steering Committee. At that point, the region will have more than 3,740 irrigation facilities, providing water for 511,080 hectares of crops or 80 per cent of the region's farmland.

The region will start by building 23 reservoirs and dams at key areas in the region such as K'rong Pak Lake, Ea H'Leo, Ya Mo and Ia Bang in Dak Lak, Gia Lai and Kon Tum provinces.

Many of the region's 2,352 irrigation facilities, including reservoirs, dams and pump stations, are seriously degraded. Some have been used for 25 years and not maintained even once.

Moreover, they only supply water to 50 per cent of the region's crops. The rest are irrigated with water from wells, lakes and rivers.

Dak Lak province received the most investment for irrigation facilities, but these will only cover 70 per cent of the province's farmland.

Tra Vinh club displays wares

Artisans from the Tra Vinh Specialty Club and 32 companies are displaying their products at a fair that opens today in Dong Thap Province's Hong Ngu District.

"Bringing Vietnamese goods to rural areas," which will run until July 3, features 38 booths displaying products like food including specialties, confectionery, textiles, household utensils, cosmetics, and stationery.

There will also be other activities on the sidelines like the donation of gifts to poor people including needy students, an agricultural forum on improving the efficiency of fertilisers in rice farming, and art performances.

Organised by the HCM City-based Business Study and Assistance Centre and Dong Thap authorities, the fair will provide local consumers an opportunity to buy quality goods at reasonable prices.

Construction starts on new tunnel

A project worth more than VND500 billion or US$23.8 million for building a tunnel at the Nguyen Trai and Khuat Duy Tien intersection was inaugurated on Saturday.

The 980-metre-long, 14-metre-wide and four-lane tunnel would be completed in late 2015.

The project would use the capital from the Japanese Government's ODA and would be built with the joint cooperation of the Civil Engineering Construction Corporation No4 (CIENCO 4) and South Korea's Hanshin Construction Company.

Speaking at the groundbrea-king ceremony, Deputy Minister of Transport Nguyen Hong Truong said this was a complex construction project as the tunnel will be built under the intersection which has a road and a skytrain running above.

He said the tunnel would ease the traffic overload and reduce accidents on the intersection.

MobiFone to get charter capital of $600m

MobiFone, the second-largest Vietnamese mobile network operator, will have a charter capital of VND12.60 trilllion or US$600 million.

This was announced in Decision No 877 of the Ministry of Information and Communications, issued yesterday.

The separation of the firm from the Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications Group (VNPT) will be carried out based on its accounts documents, inventory and financial reports of first six months of this year. The company is required to operate in five main sectors, namely construction, running and providing telecommunications and IT services, and assembling and producing electronic, telecom and IT parts. MobiFone will be detached from VNPT and be under the management of the ministry from today.

Central city signs MoU on aerospace investment

The central city's investment promotion centre and France's Advanced Business Events (ABE) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on aerospace investment and business in Da Nang.

The centre's vice director Huynh Thi Lien Phuong told Biz Hub yesterday that following the MoU which is valid till 2016, the Paris-based ABE will help attract investment in aerospace, a new industry in the central region and Viet Nam.

Lien said ABE will introduce the investment opportunities and the policies of priority of Da Nang to aerospace businesses in Europe.

The central city has developed six industrial parks, a high-tech park and information technology (IT) Parks. Last year, the US's Rocky Lai &Associates Inc invested US$278 million to build the IT park as the biggest ‘Silicon Valley' in the central region of Viet Nam.

Kien Giang approves 15 projects valued at $58m

The southern province of Kien Giang has granted licences to 15 new projects worth over VND1.22 trillion (US$58.19 million) since the beginning of this year, according to the provincial Department of Planning and Investment.

In order to attract more investment capital, the province would continue to accelerate investment promotions via meetings with new foreign an

According to the provincial Department of Planning and Investment, almost all projects licensed in the period are located in the industrial parks (IPs) of Thuan Yen and Thanh Loc, and Phu Quoc Island .

Dak Nong begins building largest trading centre

Work on a new trading centre, worth VND53 billion (US$2.53 million) kicked off yesterday in the Central Highlands province of Dak Nong's Gia Nghia District.

The centre, the biggest of its kind in the province, is being financed by Saigon Co.Op. It is slated for completion by April, 2015.

Vietnam joins regional economic pact negotiation in S'pore

A Vietnamese trade delegation has attended the fifth round of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEF) negotiation in Singapore.

The Vietnamese delegation joined all meetings held at the plenary and the 11 working groups and sub-working groups.

A bilateral meeting was held between the Vietnamese and Japanese delegations at the request of the Japanese side.

The fifth round of the RCEP negotiation, held in Singapore from June 23 – 27, drew about 500 delegates from the 16 participating countries.

A media statement by the Chair of the RCEP – Trade Negotiating Committee (RCEP – TNC) noted that delegations continued their deliberations on some key issues under negotiations, including trade in goods, trade in services, investment, intellectual property, competition, economic and technical cooperation, and legal issues.

According to the statement, on trade in goods, further convergence was reached on key issues such as modality for the tariff negotiations, non-tariff measures, Standard, Technical Regulations and Conformity Assessment Procedures (STRACAP), Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary (SPS) measures, customs procedures and trade facilitation (CPTF), and Rules of Origin (ROO).

On trade in services, work has also advanced in building understanding and finding possible way forward on some key issues such as the structure and elements of the Services Chapter, scheduling of commitments, and the draft text of services agreement. On investment, negotiators have also made progress especially with regard to the approach to the scheduling of commitments and possible elements for the Chapter on Investment.

The delegates also discussed the preparation for the 2nd RCEP Trade Ministerial Meeting which is scheduled for August 27 in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar. The ministers will assess progress of the negotiation after five rounds and provide guidance to the TNC to meet the target date of end-2015 for the completion of the negotiation.

The 6th RCEP negotiation round is scheduled for December 1-5 in India.

The RCEP countries include the 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) members and six partners, namely Japan, China, the Republic of Korea, Australia, India and New Zealand.

Development of irrigation infrastructure prioritised

Development of irrigation systems nationwide is always prioritised in agricultural restructuring, has said Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Cao Duc Phat.

The minister also noted that a total of 28.8 trillion VND (1.35 billion USD) has been funneled to build the networks between 2011 and 2014, equivalent to 79 percent of the total investment in the sector.

The money has been spent on constructing multifunctional irrigation facilities, serving aquatic and industrial production, cultivation and breeding, and providing safe water for residents. Notably, the building of key irrigation infrastructure and dyke systems is always associated to benefits of aquatic farming.

The ministry has also given priority to maintaining and upgrading small-size irrigation facilities, connecting them with hydropower plants in mountainous areas, with the aim of improving the efficiency of managing and using the work.

Between 2016 and 2020, it will continue to invest in expanding the existing networks and building those dedicated to aquaculture production activities in the Mekong Delta as well as irrigating industrial plants in the Central Highlands and southeastern and northern midland regions.

The country has to date built 110 medium-and large-sized irrigation systems, 6,500 reservoirs, 1,000 km of irrigation canals, helping guarantee water supply for agricultural and industrial production activities and residents. Last year, these facilities served 3.52 million hectares of land and 7.26 million hectares under rice cultivation.


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