BUSINESS IN BRIEF 18/3
New rules require fish and fishery processors to eCertify


new rules require fish and fishery processors to ecertify hinh 0



The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has issued new rules that require processors of fish and fishery products to develop and implement e-certification systems for their operations.

The Ministry last year published guidelines on its website to assist processors in the development of their e-certification plans and to provide information to help them obtain the necessary permits authorizing them to export product to foreign markets.

The guide was developed by the National Agri-Forestry-Fisheries Quality Assurance Department of the Ministry to provide ample time for processors to comply with the pending requirements for exporting to foreign markets.

These guidelines are generally referred to by the Department as the National Single Window system.

This system is expected to accelerate the pace of customs clearance, thereby improving trade effectiveness and competitiveness with foreign countries and within free trade regions such as ASEAN.

Vietnam and other ASEAN members have all agreed to each work out a national single window system customs clearance mechanism to achieve an ASEAN Single Window system to enhance regional trade.

These single window systems allow fish and fishery processors to declare information and documents in standardized form one-time only at a single location to complete and comply with all legal requirements concerning import, export and transit of product. 

In the rules just released, the Department is requiring fish and fishery producers to contact one of their local offices to obtain assistance in applying for and obtaining e-certification for exports through the National Single Window system.

Effective as of March 1, the Republic of Korea will require all fish and fishery exporters to have complied with the National Single Window system e-certification rules and regulations pursuant to its free trade agreement with Vietnam and ASEAN.

A similar situation exists with China and all exports to that market beginning March 1 will require the Vietnamese exporter to have complied with the requirements of the National Single Window system.

Accordingly, effective March 15, the Department will stop providing assistance to any Vietnamese processor experiencing problems with exports to the ROK or China that has failed to properly register and comply with the law and related regulations for e-certification.

In addition, the Department put all fish and fishery producers on notice that shipments of product to the EU will also soon be subject to e-certification and the National Single Window system requirements.

The Department said it will issue further guidance for complying with the EU requirements later.

MoIT to lower safeguard duty on imported monosodium glutamate

The safeguard duty on monosodium glutamate imported into Vietnam will be lowered from March 25, 2017, according to a decision issued recently by the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT).

The safeguard duty of 4,390,999 VND per tonne will expire on March 24, 2017. The new duty, set at 3,951,899 VND per tonne, will be imposed from March 25, 2017 until March 24, 2018, the ministry’s Decision 920/QD-BCT dated March 10 says.

The MoIT’s Competition Management Authority said countries and territories exempted from the safeguard duty are listed in Annex 1 of the decision.

Monosodium glutamate imported into Vietnam has been subject to the safeguard duty since March 25, 2016, and this imposition will last for four years. The safeguard duty rate will be gradually cut down and slashed to 0 VND per tonne from March 25, 2020.

Headquarters of Binh Duong’s Kocham becomes operational

The Korean Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kocham) in Binh Duong inaugurated its headquarters building in the southern province on March 17.

Covering an area of 1,500 metre square, the eight-storey building is built by the Binh Duong Kocham Ltd Co (established by Kocham of Binh Duong branch) with a total investment of 2 million USD. 

It provides not only office space for businesses from the Republic of Korea (RoK) operating in Binh Duong province but also a venue for cultural activities of RoK nationals working and residing in the locality.

Lee Kwi Jong, Vice Chairman of Kocham Binh Duong said the province has launched many policies to improve the local investment environment and develop infrastructure, thus attracting the interest of RoK firms.
He said the new headquarters will contribute to luring more investment from RoK to the province.

To date, the RoK is the third largest foreign investor in Binh Duong with 570 projects with total investment of more than 2.25 billion USD.

Vietnam, Thailand hoped to boost ties in electronics industries

Vietnam and Thailand have numerous opportunities to boost partnership in electronics and refrigeration industries, said Chanthapat Panjamanond, an official at the Thai Ministry of Commerce.

Panjamanond, head of the industrial products division at the ministry’s Department of International Trade Promotion, made the remark at an event in Ho Chi Minh City on March 17 to introduce electronics and refrigeration exhibitions.

The two countries can become partners in producing electronic and refrigerating equipment as their respective advantages can support each other, he said, elaborating that Vietnam has certain strengths in producing solid-state drives for refrigerators, TVs and air conditioners. Meanwhile, Thailand is regarded as one of the world’s manufacturing hubs with a number of famous electronics and refrigeration brands.

The official noted stronger bilateral cooperation can help the two countries increase trade, pointing out the fact that Vietnam is importing a relatively large number of electronic equipment from Thailand. However, the import is mainly conducted through a third party, pushing up prices when the products are sold in Vietnam.

Thailand hopes that more and more Vietnamese businesses will partner with Thai producers to beef up the trading of electronic and refrigerating products. It can also assist Vietnam in manufacturing electrical, electronic and refrigeration equipment by providing high-quality components.

Sarod Nikimaew, a representative of the organising board of the Bangkok RHVAC 2017 and Bangkok E&E 2017 exhibitions, said Thailand opens large-scale fairs to connect global enterprises with leading manufacturers in the complete supply chain of electric, electronic and refrigeration products.

Bangkok RHVAC 2017 is one of the world’s five biggest trade fairs on refrigeration, heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning. Meanwhile, Bangkok E&E 2017 will showcase the latest technologies for electronic production. Both events are scheduled to take place in Bangkok from September 7-10.

The organising board said Vietnam should make use of these exhibitions to popularise its outstanding electronic and refrigeration products.

Changes to institutions urged to improve rice value chain

Changes to management institutions are needed to improve the rice value chain and Vietnamese rice’s competitiveness, experts said at a workshop in Hanoi on March 17.  

Speaking at the conference, Director of the Central Institute for Economic Management (CIEM) Nguyen Dinh Cung said the biggest challenge at the moment is to shift to quality management and promote cooperation and linkage in the chain.

He stressed that the role of farmers’ organizations and professional organizations in the rice value chain is very important. 

Presenting research results on the existing rice value chain institutions, Dang Quang Vinh, researcher at the CIEM, said the rice cultivation area increased quickly from 2007 and the output rose by nearly 10 million tonnes in the 2005-2015 period.

Rice yield per hectare rose to 5.76 tonnes, the highest in Southeast Asia and rice export grew 14 percent annually on average in volume and 10 percent in value in the 1989-2012 period.

Nevertheless, production scale was relatively small with each household having an average 0.44 hectare of land, and rice quality was low and inconsistent.

According to experts, the rice sector will face a lot of difficulty in the upcoming years due to small scale production which makes it hard to apply scientific and technological advances, climate change, and bad farming practices such as the excessive use of chemicals.

The research recommended that in order to improve the value of rice production, it is necessary to clarify the right of property ownership, which will serve as the foundation for other activities such as investment, the development of an agricultural land market, and land accumulation for large-scale production.

Besides that, emphasis should be placed on quality, productivity and farmers’ income instead of quantity and supply.

A more comprehensive approach to food security is also needed, which pays more attention to nutrition than to rice quantity, according to the research.

Construction begins at big service-entertainment complex in Kien Giang

Construction of a 40,000-m2 service-entertainment complex in the Mekong Delta province of Kien Giang’s Rach Gia City started on March 18.

Built at a cost of more than 300 billion VND (13.16 million USD), the complex at Phu Cuong Group’s high-end urban area comprises 12 facilities, including a water park, a marina, a helipad, and a 6,000 sq.m sea-view square, along with tennis courts, pools, and an entertainment park.

It is scheduled to be operational after three years of construction.

The complex is located on the 30-ha Phu Gia artificial island, a sea-encroaching project. 

According to Director General of Phu Cuong Group Huynh Ha Phuong, the urban area is the largest of its kind in the Mekong Delta, which could contribute to making tourism a spearhead sector of Kien Giang by 2020. 

Since 1997, Phu Cuong, one of the leading companies specialised in seafood processing exports in Vietnam, has carried out three sea-encroaching projects in Rach Gia city, helping the city expand by an additional 550 hectares

Vietnam association of supporting industries established

The Vietnam Association of Supporting Industries (VASI) was officially established in Hanoi on March 18 with a view to contributing to relevant policy planning and connecting domestic and foreign markets. 

The move is one of the important results of the project “Vietnam Supporting Industries to Europe” within the framework of the European Trade Policy and Investment Support Project funded by the European Union. The project is being conducted by the Supporting Industry Enterprise Development Centre and the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT)’s Institute for Industrial Policies and Strategies from June 2014 – June 2017. 

Truong Thanh Hoai, Director of the MoIT’s Heavy Industries Department, said Vietnam’s processing and manufacturing sector contributes just 14 percent of the gross domestic product, much lower than Thailand’s 26 percent and China’s 36 percent. 

He attributed such weak performance to limited connectivity among domestic enterprises as well as between them and foreign partners, adding that, the birth of VASI is crucial in the current context to help fine-tune relevant policies, thus creating a driving force for support industries.

VCCI-ITB launches IoT Open Community for Vietnam

The Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Institute of Information and Technology for Business (VCCI-ITB) launched the Internet of Things Open Community for Vietnam (IOCV) in Hanoi on March 15.

The IOCV was founded with the mission of gathering social resources to develop open IoT, with free sharing among the Vietnamese enterprise community and consumers in the context of the global fourth industrial revolution.

Large and small companies operating in many fields, especially information and technology, are participating in the project.

IOCV has admitted 21 members, including many enterprises and organisations in information and technology, so far including ITB-VCCI, CMC Telecommunication Infrastructure Corporation, Delco Construction and Investment Joint Stock Company and NetNam Corporation.

Speaking at the launch ceremony, Nguyen Quang Vinh, deputy general secretary of VCCI, called it an important event for the business community in Vietnam.

“The launch of IOCV opens a new path toward IT development, creating a strong wave with the contribution of the IT community to national development.”

VN Index falls on portfolio review

Vietnam’s benchmark VN Index fell back on March 17 while exchange-traded funds accelerated trading on the last day of portfolio reviews for the first quarter of 2017.

The HCM Stock Exchange’s index dropped 0.6 percent to close at 710.54 points, reversing from the previous day’s gain of 0.3 percent.

The March 17 decline also sent the VN Index down for a second week with a total decrease of 0.2 percent from the previous trading week.

The focus of the stock market during the day was the portfolio review conducted by the two major foreign-run exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that are present in Vietnam’s securities market: FTSE Vietnam ETF and VNM Vietnam ETF.

On the last day of the portfolio review, the two ETFs helped boost market trading liquidity sharply with nearly 253.2 million shares being traded worth 5.2 trillion VND (231.8 million USD).

March 17’s trading figures were 41.4 percent and 32 percent higher in trading volume and trading value, respectively, compared to the day before.

The stock market fell as the ETFs purchased shares of the targeted companies through advance negotiations with shareholders given high supply from other investors, keeping the prices of those stocks at very low levels.

Foreign investors recorded a net sell value of 286.36 billion VND, in contrast to the 197.2 billion VND net buy value made on March 16.

Stocks that were added into the investment portfolios of those ETFs included property developer Novaland (NVL) and Faros Construction Corp (ROS).

The new strategy used by the ETFs sent the two stocks down to their daily trading limit of 6.9 percent and 7 per cent, respectively.

As Faros and Novaland are the two large-cap groups in the stock market, the decline of their share prices were the major factor pushing the VN Index down.

In addition, other blue chips also ended in the “red” area and provided little support for the southern market.

On the opposite side, the HNX Index on the Hanoi Stock Exchange gained 0.5 percent to end at 88.38 points. The northern market index has rallied for a fourth day with a total growth of 1.6 percent.

The four-day rally also helped the HNX Index record a four-week rising streak. It has increased by 2.9 percent since February 17.

More than 64.7 million shares were exchanged on the HNX market, worth 951 billion VND.

ROK business leaders on trade mission to Danang

A delegation of governmental officials and business leaders from the Republic of Korea (ROK) are visiting with their counterparts in Danang in a push for a greater share of business with Vietnam.

One of the visiting governmental officials has characterized a boost in commerce with Danang as ‘critical’ to the economic future of the ROK.

The trade trip is the latest step toward implementing economic cooperation agreements between the governments of the two countries and collaboration agreements among their business communities.

The trip continues building upon the active trade, tourism and business relationships between the two economies that was augmented with the signing of the Vietnam-ROK free trade agreement in 2015.

Luring further investment to the central highlands

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and leaders of Ministries and sector have promised to create favorable conditions for the Central Highlands to tap its potential.

At a conference to promote investment in the Central Highlands, investors promised to accompany the region to boost its growth.

Over the past few years, Central Highlands provinces have strengthened investment promotion and brought into play their potential. 

From 2011 to 2015, the region’s development investment reached nearly US$12 billion, a year on year increase of 11.33%. Investment by the private sector increased from 53.4% to 69.28%. 

There are 140 FDI projects worth US$800 million being implemented in the province. In the next five years, total investment in the region is expected to reach US$10 billion.

Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyen Chi Dung urged the region to boost its development to ensure its stability. He said the Ministry of Planning and Investment will help the region realize this goal.

He said “The Ministry of Planning and Investment promises to create breakthroughs in improving the business environment and supporting enterprises. The Ministry will work with other ministries and sectors and central highlands provinces to develop specific policies, promote the local investment environment, and address difficulties to increase inter-regional connectivity and mobilize resources to contribute to the region’s rapid and sustainable development”.

The Governor of the State Bank of Vietnam Le Minh Hung said the State Bank will continue to work with ministries, sectors and localities to fine-tune specific credit mechanisms and realize credit policies for the region.

Mr Hung said, "We will ask our credit organizations to ensure sufficient credits for the region. Based on the development plan of the region and each locality, we will work out ways to help enterprises and individuals obtain investment capital. At this conference, credit organizations pledged to lend more than US$13 billion for 36 projects to boost the regional socio-economic development.”

Foreign investment in the central highlands region remains modest. So far, the region’s foreign investment accounts for only 0.65% in terms of projects and 0.25% in terms of registered capital of Vietnam’s total foreign investment. 

Minister Nguyen Chi Dung urged the region to reform investment promotion methods and survey investors’ needs.  

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said Vietnam needs to ensure macro-economic stability and maintain the value of the Vietnamese dong to attract foreign investors to the central highlands and Vietnam. 

Mr. Phuc said the Vietnamese government will provide favorable mechanisms for investors.

He said “It’s important to protect property rights, human rights, and citizen rights in line with the Constitution and law. The Vietnamese government will continue to improve Vietnam’s business environment to be one of ASEAN’s top investment destinations.”

Shinya Ezima, Vice President of the Japan International Cooperation Agency, which has had a number of investment projects in the Central Highlands over the past few years, said he believes that the Central Highlands has great potential. He said JICA will increase its investment in the region in the near future.

The Prime Minister says the Central Highlands plans to focus on developing organic agriculture, and ecological biodiversity, and promoting its cultural heritage. Because of commitments made at the Investment Promotion Conference, the Central Highlands region expects that rapid, sustainable growth will make it a key economic region.

HCM City keeps priority for VN goods

HCM City plans to continue promoting the “Vietnamese give priority to using Vietnamese goods” campaign.

Speaking at a meeting on March 16 to review last year’s campaign, Trần Tấn Ngời, vice chairman of the HCM City Fatherland Front Committee, said many promotional events, including trade fairs, have been organised to showcase local products in the city, even in its rural areas.

Domestically-made goods now account for 80-90 per cent of all products retailed, according to Ngời.

Awareness of the importance of the domestic market has improved among companies, and they pay attention to brand registration, developing products to customers’ tastes and expanding their distribution network even in remote areas, he said.

Ngời said Fatherland Front Committee, the city Department of Information and Communication and the Business Association of Vietnamese High-Quality Products would set up a website on domestically-made products this year.

He admitted the campaign had shortcomings since many enterprises had yet to focus on improving quality, resulting in many products failing to meet consumers’ needs.

The campaign, though large in scale, had not captured much attention among consumers.

Võ Thị Dung, deputy secretary of the city Party Committee, said a survey of 4,000 consumers by the city Party Committee’s Information and Education Commission found that only 60.1 per cent of respondents were interested in the campaign last year compared to 67.3 per cent in 2014, she said.

The number giving priority to buying Vietnamese goods reduced to 65 per cent from 71 per cent in 2014, she said.

The city would continue to promote the campaign this year to raise public awareness, she said.

She urged relevant agencies to review their communication methods to improve the efficiency, with a focus on strengthening co-operation with communication agencies.

They should bolster checks to prevent fake goods from threatening the health of consumers and to increase consumer confidence in locally-made products, she said.

FPT plans $4.39mn employee share issuance

 FPT's 2016 business results and 2017 plans approved
The FPT Corporation (HSX stock code FPT) has recently approved the issuance of a employee stock option plan (ESOP), with beneficiaries being employees at Level No.5 or above and other special staff who have made important contributions to the company’s development.
It plans to issue nearly 2.3 million shares to the selected employees at a price of VND10,000 ($0.44) per share in April. Sale of the shares is restricted for three years.
FPT shares are now trading around VND46,000 ($0.44), making the ESOP issuance worth over VND100 billion ($4.39 million).
In a document expected to be submitted to FPT’s upcoming annual general shareholders meeting, the company’s Board of Directors will seek approval of a dividend payment for 2016 at a rate of 15 per cent per share. It also plans to pay a dividend for 2017 at a rate of 20 per cent, in cash.
Regarding its ESOP in the 2017-2019 period, sales are restricted for three years and the quantity each year is not to exceed 0.5 per cent of charter capital at the time of issue. The issue will be made from 2018 to 2020.
FPT is the leading IT company in Vietnam and was the first internet service provider (ISP) and internet content provider (ICP) in Vietnam. Its shares were listed on December 13, 2006 on the Ho Chi Minh City Stock Exchange (HSX).

CTI to issue 20mn shares

According to a resolution from the Board Management at the Cuong Thuan IDICO Investment and Development Joint Stock Company (HSX stock code CTI), the company has set a revenue target of VND1.396 trillion ($61.27 million) and after-tax profit of VND140.9 ($6.2 million) for 2017, with an expected cash dividend of 17 per cent. In the second quarter of the year the company will pay a cash dividend for 2016 of 16 per cent.
At the same time, to meet investment needs this year, the Board also agreed to submit a plan to issue shares to increase charter capital to the next annual general meeting of shareholders, which is to be divided into two parts: the issuance of ESOP shares to employees, and a private placement to strategic investors. The Board plans to issue 2 million ESOP shares at a price of VND15,000 ($0.66) per share at a rate of 4.65 per cent of outstanding shares, with sales limited for one year.
It also plans to offer 18 million shares to strategic investors at a price of VND22,000-25,000 ($0.97-1.1) per share at a rate of 41 per cent of outstanding shares. The offering is expected to be conducted in the first or second quarter, after approved by relevant State agencies. The total amount raised from the offering will be VND462 billion ($20.33 million).
According to the Board of Management, the capital mobilized will be used to invest in the build-transfer (BT) Ring Road around Tri An Lake in southern Dong Nai province, a social housing project in Tam Hoa in Dong Nai, and investment in machinery and equipment for the Tan Cang 8 mine and the Doi Chua 3 mine in Dong Nai, and the Xuan Hoa mine in northern Vinh Phuc province. The remainder will be used to restructure short-term debts and other debt. Strategic investors must meet financial capacity requirements and commit to contribute to the development of CTI.
Mr. Tran Nhu Hoang, Chairman of CTI, said that many funds have expressed an intention to participate in the offering, of which its existing major shareholder - VOF Investment Limited - expects to register to buy 2 million shares. In 2017, he added, revenue from construction and fee collections will increase sharply, with fee increases mainly coming from the build-operate-transfer (BOT) National Highway No.91 project, as the final stage has recently been completed and fees are now being collected. In its stone business, the company has invested in two more crushers and plans to double its capacity compared to 2016.

Office-tels still without legal framework

Office-tels, which combine residential and commercial uses and have been growing in popularity in Vietnam’s real estate market over the last three years, remain unrecognized in the country’s legal system and have difficulties in development as a result.
The issue was discussed at the “Office-tel Market: Development Needs and Difficulties to be Resolved” conference held in Ho Chi Minh City on March 17.
According to Mr. Nguyen Tran Nam, Chairman of the Vietnam Real Estate Association (VNREA), the office-tel model has been mushrooming for the last three years, especially in Ho Chi Minh City, where there are 40-50 projects. As it is new, however, the legal framework is yet to be adjusted, creating many concerns and problems for authorities, investors, and customers in regard to approval, licensing, investment, distribution and transactions.
“The greatest obstacle is the issue of granting land use right certificates because the apartment is neither fully used for accommodation nor as an office,” Mr. Nam said.
For example, in a ten-story building with seven floors for apartments, the owners of the apartments are entitled to a long-term land use rights certificate, while the owners of office-tels on the three remaining floors can only secure a 50-year license. As a result, there will be issues 50 years down the track as to how authorities will act, Mr. Nam said.
Lawyer Tran Duc Phuong from the Ho Chi Minh City Lawyers’ Association told the conference that the latest Property Law 2014 does not regulate office-tels, so the government must promptly complete the legal framework to recognize and regulate the segment.
Mr. Nguyen Manh Khoi, Deputy Director of the Department of Housing and Real Estate Market Management under the Ministry of Construction, said there are five main obstacles that need to be resolved when building the legal framework for this type of real estate.
Firstly, there needs to be an accurate definition of office-tels. Secondly, ownership is only 50 years. Thirdly, it is necessary to specify that investors are authorized to build office-tels on land that is planned for housing or for mixed-use developments. Fourthly, if defining it as a type of property for living, investors must pay other land use fees. Finally, office-tels must also have standards in design, utilities and infrastructure.
Cushman & Wakefield’s data show that the office-tel product line is well-suited to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), startups, foreign companies wishing to open a representative office, or long-term foreign experts working in Vietnam. Forty per cent of tenants at most office-tel projects are startups and companies wishing to open representative offices, while 10-15 per cent of buyers have actual accommodation needs and the remainder are buyers planning to sub-lease.
CBRE Vietnam commented that with the combination of both commercial and residential elements, office-tels offer many benefits for both the investor and the user or owner. The economical element is also a positive point in the eyes of users, rather than paying office rents and other fees.
It also provides more options in terms of office rentals and contributes to enriching a real estate product’s structure and helps in recovering cash flow faster than other types of commercial property.

Domestic steel prices rise

Steel prices on the domestic market have gone up by VND400,000-VND600,000 per ton compared to January and steel production also increased as makers stepped up operations after the Tet holiday, according to Vietnam Steel Association (VSA).

Nguyen Van Sua, vice president of VSA, said the current steel prices at factories are around VND10.6 million to VND11.2 million per ton. Steel prices have risen due to higher material prices and world prices, the Vietnam News Agency reports.

Beside an increase in the price of domestic steel billet, purchases by distributors to meet part of February's demand and to add stocks for March sales, especially in the northern regions, also caused steel prices to climb.

According to VSA data, early March domestic steel scrap prices increased to US$285- US$290 per ton, up US$$15-20 per ton compared to late January and early February.

Meanwhile, world steel billet prices reached US$430-440 per ton in early March, up by US$20-25 per ton. Therefore, domestic steel billet prices had increased from VND9,600 to VND9,800 per kilogram in late February and VND10,200 per kg in early March.

The hot rolled steel prices remained high at US$515-523 per ton while the highest price recorded was US$528 per ton at the end of last year.

In February, VSA members’ production reached more than 1.5 million tons, up nearly 29% year-on-year and more than 11% month-on-month while steel sales reached over 1 million tons, up nearly 74% compared to the previous month and over 43% higher compared to last year.

Exports of steel products reached over 267,700 tons, down 4.5% from last year, but up nearly 7% compared to last month.

VSA forecasts March sales will continue to increase over February.

According to the VSA, the local steel industry will continue to face difficulties this year since the United States, which accounted for 27% of Vietnam's steel exports last year, is investigating a tax evasion case against Vietnam given its suspicion that cheap Chinese steel was “retagged” as Vietnamese one for export to the US. The case will cause difficulties for Vietnam’s steel exports stateside, especially with galvanized steel.

Medical insurance data connection choppy

Nationwide medical data connection on the portal of the Vietnam Social Security (VSS) has reached 94%. However, the transmission of data is still slow due to regular jamming, especially from lower-level health centers to the portal.

At a teleconference on March 16 on information technology application in healthcare management and health insurance payment, Deputy Minister of Health Pham Le Tuan said smooth connection would facilitate operations of the medical insurance company and prevent health insurance fund profiteering as well as save time for patients.

While the general connection rate is high, at 94%, some provinces have suffered from the low rate of medical data connection, including Thanh Hoa (69%), Bac Ninh (81%), and Hai Phong (80%), according to statistics of the VSS. The low rates are due to technical issues such as poor power supply or low internet coverage.

As planned, 100% of provincial and central medical centers are expected to get hooked up to the health insurance company’s portal before June 30. Simultaneously, the deadline for district-level medical centers to get connected to the medical data system is August 31, 2017.

Huge volume of data to be transmitted – including more than 17,000 technical items, about 20,000 types of drugs and thousands of medical materials – has made the above targets hard to reach.

Le Lam, deputy director of the National Institute of Hematology and Blood Transfusion (NIHBT), also pointed out a technical issue of the portal itself. He explained the portal does not have an error reporting system yet. When medical centers cannot update information on the portal, they do not know what is incorrect. This has led to the need to update data several times, thereby overwhelming the system.

Health insurance profiteering is still serious, according to a report of VSS at a meeting with the Committee for Social Affairs of the National Assembly in early March.

Accordingly, since mid-2016, over 1.2 million people with health insurance coverage have managed to get health checks and treatments twice or more per month. The total number of doctor visits is more than 15 million, including over 83,000 people with weekly visits. In addition, there are three million patients with multiple visits on the same day.

Transport sector to get more support from South Korea

South Korea is interested in strengthening cooperation with Vietnam in the transport sector, said Vice Minister of Land, Infrastructure and Transport of South Korea Choi Jeong-ho in a meeting with the Ministry of Transport of Vietnam on Wednesday.

In particular, Korea wants to join hands in numerous railways, seaports, shipbuilding and logistics projects in Vietnam, especially Long Thanh international airport project in Dong Nai Province.

"We are willing to share our experience and support Vietnam in transport development, especially in training human resources and connecting transport businesses and agencies between the two countries," Vneconomy quotes Choi Jeong-ho as saying.

According to Deputy Minister of Transport Nguyen Hong Truong, by the end of 2016, Vietnam and Korea have cooperated to complete four transport projects, including Vinh Thinh Bridge, the Southern coastal corridor, the intelligent transport system (ITS) for HCMC – Trung Luong Expressway, and upgrade of Chi Linh - Bieu Nghi section of National Highway 18. Currently, the two countries are carrying out five projects with a total value of US$595.84 million and formulate proposals for five new projects, including three railway projects.

"In the aviation sector, the two countries have strong cooperation not only in transporting passengers and cargo but also in ground services and human resources training. In addition, South Korea is working closely with Vietnam in the maritime sector, focusing on shipbuilding, seaport construction and investment in loading equipment," Truong said.

Truong has asked the Korean side to consider two key projects in Vietnam, namely North-South expressway and North-South high-speed railway, while strengthening cooperation and investment in other transportation areas.

At the meeting, Nguyen Hong Truong and Choi Jeong-ho also signed a memorandum between the two ministries on cooperation in the railway sector and development of multimodal transport systems, logistics centers and cargo terminals.

HCM City property firms aim for cooperation, stability

Ho Chi Minh City needs better cooperation among the State, developers, builders, material suppliers and banks to improve the local property market, the HCM City Real Estate Association has said.

In a document sent to city authorities on developing the property market from now to 2020 with a vision toward 2025, the association’s Chairman Le Hoang Chau said that such cooperation would help the sector develop in a more transparent and stable manner. 

He said that State agencies along with enterprises should improve administrative procedures, develop a one-stop policy, and reduce the number of procedures as well as set up a database of the city’s real estate market.

Such cooperation among all parties would result in better material prices, Chau said.

Citing the shortage of city funds, the association also suggested using the financing methods of build-transfer (BT) or public-private partnerships (PPP).

It also said the city should strictly manage and ensure the quality of construction, and develop social and commercial housing at affordable prices.

Low-cost housing is especially needed, the association said, because nearly 3 million of the 13 million people in the city are migrants, or 23 percent of the total population.

Of the total, there are about 400,000 students, with 50,000 people marrying annually.

The association also cited a Department of Construction report which said that 500,000 families in the city do not own housing.

During the 2016-20 period, 81,000 households needed social housing, the report said.

Developing social housing and inexpensive commercial housing as well as housing leased at low prices are the key responsibilities of the city, it said.

In the last 10 years, HCM City’s real estate market has developed strongly, with two bubble periods, one in 2007 and the other in 2010.

The market was frozen, however, from 2008 to 2009 and from 2011 to 2013.

The market began to recover in late 2013, but stagnant signs appeared in mid-2016 as there was an imbalance between demand and supply.

While supply has primarily focused on the luxury segment with condotels and luxury apartments, the demand was for apartments and houses with affordable prices of around 1 billion VND.

Over the last 10 years, new housing was built in all districts, beginning in the central part of the city and then moving to the southern area.

In the last four years, activity has moved to the city’s eastern area, whose key part is the new Thu Thiem urban area.

Currently, about 1,200 housing projects are registered in the city. Of those, 500 have been suspended because of land clearance problems.
 
Stocks to fall further as US interest rate hike looms

The stock market will likely continue its losing streak this week as investors stay cautious ahead of the US Federal Reserve’s meeting. The sharp drop in oil prices during the last three sessions will also be a dampener, analysts say.

The benchmark VN Index on the HCM Stock Exchange fell 0.5 percent to finish at 712.21 points on March 10. The index recorded a total fall of 0.6 percent after the last two trading days.

The two-day losing streak also erased all gains the VN Index had made in the previous four-day period. It closed down slightly below the previous trading week’s ending level of 712.62 points.

On the Hanoi Stock Exchange, the HNX Index rose 0.5 percent on March 10 to close the last trading session at 88.13 points. The northern market index rallied total 1.8 percent in four days and gained 1.7 percent week on week.

Last week’s daily average trading volume fell 3.1 percent to nearly 236.7 million shares, while daily average trading value increased by 8.8 percent to 4.18 trillion VND (186 million USD).

Foreign investors recorded a net sell value of 131.26 billion VND in Vietnam’s stock market, which was a big reverse compared to a net buy value of 349.2 billion VND made in the previous trading week.

The fact that the VN Index fell through the level of 715 points showed investors’ sentiment was low as they tried to offload parts of their investment portfolios to avoid upcoming negative effects, analysts at BIDV Securities Corp (BSC) noted.

These effects would be caused by international macroeconomic factors, including the volatility of crude prices and the expectations for a US interest rate increase, BSC added.

“The stock market’s conditions will remain negative this week. The VN Index may recover slightly in the first one or two days, but its general direction is downward.”

Investors will highly pay attention to the US Fed’s meeting this week, in which US officials are expected to raise interest rates for the first time this year.

“As the US employment rate in February was robust on March 10’s report, the Fed will undoubtedly increase the interest rates in the coming decision,” said Nguyen Ngoc Lan, head of brokerage division at the Agribank Securities Company.

There are two scenarios for Vietnam’s stock market in the case the US central bank decides to raise the rates, Lan said.

If the US interest rates are lifted by 0.25 percentage point, the most expected development, the impact on Vietnamese stocks will be low as investors have all prepared for the decision, she said.

But if they go up by 0.5 percentage point, Vietnam will see negative impacts on its securities market with foreign investment moving out of the local market, Lan said.

Nguyen Hong Khanh, head of the market analysis division at Sacombank Securities Company, said that the incoming interest rate hike is a certainty and the US Fed is expected to lift its rates two more times this year.

“Increased interest rates will make foreign investors to switch their capital from emerging markets to the US to benefit from higher deposit rates, thus emerging currencies will have to bear a lot of depreciation pressure,” Khanh said.

VEF/VNA/VNS/VOV/SGT/SGGP/Dantri/VET/VIR

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