BUSINESS IN BRIEF 22/9

Startups seek ways to access capital resources


Startups seek ways to access capital resources, Int’l finance conference opens in HCM City, Reference exchange rate up by 4 VND, VN-Index declines for third day, Vinamilk eyes 51 trillion VND in revenue in 2017



Executives from startups and small and medium-sized enterprises participated in a conference titled “Access to capital for startups” in HCM City on September 21. 

According to Ho Trong Lai, Chairman of strategy consultancy Heaven Light, SMEs and startups find it hard to access capital because they do not have information about the sources of funding, do not know how to go about soliciting funding from investors and lack the salesmanship needed to sell their ideas to investors.

Many entrepreneurs complain that they do not know where to go to look for capital or how to meet with investors.

Lai said it is like a student coming and asking where they can get scholarships.

“You have to do your homework first. Nowadays there are a lot of organisations who can help you with the information; you can find them online very easily.

“You can just Google everything. It is not difficult or technical.”

To raise capital, entrepreneurs must at least know how to make a business proposal like a graduate looking for job must know how to make a CV, he said.

Funds are now available more than ever before, and the problem is how a start-up entrepreneur can make a pitch that investors want to listen to and then invest, he said.

Phan Dinh Tue, Vice President of Sacombank, said his bank does not have a special policy or loan package for startups, but instead treats them as small and medium-sized businesses.

The requirements for startups and micro businesses to get a loan are also strict, he said.

However, while big companies must submit their full financial statements for three years, banks are more flexible with startups and newly established small firms.

“A startup just established for six months, how they can possibly have a financial report?”

According to Tue, Sacombank has 100,000 business customers, 83 percent of them SMEs.

This year it earmarked 3 trillion VND for SMEs at 2 percent lower interest than normal and has disbursed 1 trillion VND so far, he said.

VPBank also lends to startups and SMEs.

Nguyen Thanh Binh, SME Division Director of VPBank’s Phu My Hung SME Centre, said in the last three years the bank has been offering unsecured loans to small firms and start-ups that have been in business for at least six months.

VPBank has lent to 40,000 businesses, and its loans outstanding are now worth 5 trillion VND, he said.

He said to get a loan, SMEs and startups must meet certain criteria: the owner must have at least three years’ business experience and the company must have a good credit history.

But he said the most important factor is that it must be a going concern.

Businesses less than six months old can also get loans but not large sums, he said.

However, the interest rate cannot be too low because lending to SMEs is very risky, he said.

Int’l finance conference opens in HCM City

The two-day 4th International Conference on Finance and Economics which opened on September 21 in Ho Chi Minh City is focusing on innovation and sustainable entrepreneurship. 

The event, hosted by Ton Duc Thang University, seeks to create a link between scholarly research and the reality of the business world.

It is being attended by hundreds of experts, academics and students from Vietnam and other countries and territories like Germany, Italy, Australia, US, Japan, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, and India. 

It will publish theoretical findings, comments and novel propositions in the fields of management, marketing, international business, economics, finance, accounting, hospitality, and tourism.

Many studies on the Vietnamese market have been tabled at the conference. They include the effects of information on the stock market. 

One study examined the reaction of companies following announcements of new regulations by the Government. It found evidence for the market reacting with most sectors experiencing negative reactions two to five days before the announcement.

However, the reactions are positive on the announcement date.

Others include an assessment of the performance of technology and telecommunication companies using data envelopment analysis.

Delegates from other countries brought studies on the effects of the 2016 US presidential election on the stock exchange, the relationship between environmental and financial performances.

Speaking about ‘tourism innovation 4.0: thinking and inter-connecting outside the box,’ Prof Perry Hobson from Taylor’s University, Malaysia, said: “While there has been much talk about the coming 4th Industrial Revolution and its impact on manufacturing, there has been little discussion about the further integration of technology and the Internet of Things on the services industry.

“The arrival of new technologies, inter-connectivity and innovation have already brought considerable disruption to the hotel and tourism industries.”

A study examining inbound tourism demand in Vietnam is also being discussed, with its 10 biggest markets identifies. 

According to the organisers, the speeches made at the conference have been selected from over 100 submissions by universities in Vietnam and abroad.

Reference exchange rate up by 4 VND

The State Bank of Vietnam set its reference VND/USD exchange rate at 22,450 VND/USD on September 22, up by 4 VND from September 21. 

With the current /- 3 percent VND/USD trading band, the ceiling exchange rate is 23,122 VND per USD and the floor rate is 21,778 VND per USD. 

Major commercial banks’ rates remained stable.

BIDV and Vietinbank offered 22,690 VND (buying) and 22,760 VND (selling), per USD, unchanged from the day ago.

Meanwhile, Vietcombank set its buying rate at 22,695 VND and its selling rate at 22,765 VND, per USD, up by 5 VND from the rates offered on September 21.

VN-Index declines for third day

Bank stocks grew on September 21 but failed to lift the VN-Index, which declined for a third day under high selling pressure.

On the HCM Stock Exchange, the VN-Index edged down 0.24 percent to close at 803.93 points. The key index decreased 0.5 percent in the last three sessions.

Large-cap stocks were a mixed bag, with 14 of the top 30 largest shares by market value and liquidity (VN30) advanced while 12 declined.

Bank stocks were among gainers. Five of the seven banks on the southern bourse gained value and only Sacombank (STB) dropped by less than 1 percent.

The four biggest banks in terms of market value and assets – Vietcombank (VCB), Vietinbank (CTG), BIDV (BID) and Military Bank (MBB) – increased slightly between 0.13-1.71 per cent each.

Some heavyweight stocks like VinGroup (VIC), PV Gas (GAS), FPT Corp (FPT), insurer Bao Viet Holdings (BVH), Mobile World Group (MWG) and FLC Faros Construction (ROS) also picked up but most of them grew by less than 1 percent.

On the negative side, stocks pulling down the market included Masan Group (MSN), down 4.8 percent, and brewer Saigon Beer-Alcohol-Beverage (SAB), down 2.9 per cent. They are two of the 10 biggest listed stocks on the HCM City’s exchange by market value.

Other big losers also included Vinamilk (VNM), Saigon Securities Inc (SSI), steelmaker Hoa Phat Group (HPG), DHG Pharmeceutical (DHG), Kinh Bac City Development (KBC) and Novaland Investment Group (NVL).

According to BIDV Securities Co, the negative performance of the market this week, coupled with a lack of information caused investors to be reluctant to raise their portfolio exposure. Meanwhile, liquidity decreased, revolving around mainly speculative stocks.

On the Hanoi Stock Exchange, the HNX-Index maintained its weekly uptrend with a rise of 0.54 percent to end yesterday at 105.75 points. 

The northern market index has gained 1.21 percent this week.

Liquidity improved slightly with trading volume of 222.6 million shares with total value exceeding 4.3 trillion VND (189.6 million USD) being exchanged in the two markets, up 7 percent in volume and 12 percent in value compared to September 20.

However, a negative signal was the return of net selling by foreign traders after two-days of net buying. Foreign investors were responsible for net sell value of 23.4 billion VND on September 21 in the two markets. Their sales continued to focus on blue chips including Masan Group, budget airline Vietjet (VJC) and Vinamilk.

Vinamilk eyes 51 trillion VND in revenue in 2017

The Vietnam Dairy Products JSC (Vinamilk) has said that its revenue is expected to reach 51 trillion VND (2.24 billion USD) in 2017.

With the projected revenue, Vinamilk will earn 12 trillion VND (528.6 million USD) in profit and contribute 4.2 trillion VND (185 million USD) to the State budget.

Vinamilk is one of the world’s 50 biggest milk producers in terms of revenue. In the first half of this year, the company’s revenue and profit climbed 12 percent and 17 percent, respectively.

Currently, the company has 13 factories nationwide. It has also invested in one plant in Cambodia and held a 22.8 percent stake in Miraka milk plant (New Zealand). Vinamilk also holds 100 percent of shares at Driftwood factory in the US, and established a subsidiary in Poland to enter the European market.

The company’s production meets the Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and other international standards.

Vinamilk products are now available in over 40 nations in the world, including Cambodia, Thailand, the Republic of Korea, Japan, China, Turkey, Russia, Canada, the US and Australia.

It raked in around 260 million USD from exports in 2016, up from 30 million USD in 1998.

The company recently provided 160,000 milk boxes, worth 1 billion VND (44,000 USD) for children in the natural disaster-hit provinces of Quang Binh, Ha Tinh and Nghe An.

Chr. Hansen helps Vinamilk develop probiotics

The Chr. Hansen Food Company of Denmark will help the Vietnam Dairy Products JSC (Vinamilk) develop probiotics for the latter’s milk products after the signing of a strategic cooperation agreement in Copenhagen on September 21.   

Under the terms of the agreement, Chr. Hansen will cooperate with Vinamilk in studying and using the best probiotics in accordance with European standards for Vinamilk’s formula milk, yogurt, drinking yogurt, and other products, thus improving consumers’ digestive systems.

Chr. Hansen Vice President Lasse Nagell pledged to help Vinamilk develop its products and assist the company in personnel training and communication campaigns on nutrition.

After the signing ceremony, Mette Winning, Head of Global Sales Support & Technical Center of Chr. Hansen, hosted a workshop with Vinamilk to discuss ways to develop high-quality products with international standards.

Chr. Hansen is the world’s leading food group. Established 140 years ago, the group has offices in 32 nations worldwide and around 30,000 types of probiotics for food.

Vinamilk is Vietnam’s leading dairy producer. It has produced over 200 types of nutrition products and sold around 7 billion products each year.

The company topped the 2017 list of 40 most valuable Vietnamese company brands with an estimated value of 1.7 billion USD, which was released by Forbes Vietnam.

Japanese solenoid factory inaugurated in Ha Nam

Vietnam TDS Co. Ltd., a subsidiary of TDS Co. Ltd of Japan, on September 21 inaugurated a solenoid factory in Dong Van 2 Industrial Park in Duy Tien district of northern Ha Nam province.

Takahashi Takihiko, General Director of the TDS Co. Ltd., said the factory, built at a cost of over 5.4 million USD in the first phase, has a monthly capacity of 1.7 million products. It is expected to create jobs for around 400 workers.

Addressing the inauguration ceremony, Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Nguyen Xuan Dong said the factory will help meet the local market’s demand and increase the export value, thus contributing to the province’s socio-economic development.

Dong called on the company to well implement its investment commitments and comply with Vietnam’s law and Ha Nam’s regulations during its operation and business process.

He also requested the Vietnam TDS Co. Ltd to take care of their employees while urging the province’s management board of industrial parks, relevant departments and sectors to facilitate operations of the company and other investors.

In the first seven months of this year, Ha Nam attracted 46 projects, including 10 foreign direct investment (FDI) projects, with a total registered capital of nearly 194 million USD.

Russian Gastro Week opens in Hanoi

The Russian Gastro Week began in Hanoi on September 21, in a bid to boost agro-forestry-fishery partnership between Vietnam and Russia.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Russian Ambassador to Vietnam Konstantin Vnukov said the two-day fair is a culture-trade event to introduce products from top 50 Russian firms in agricultural processing, food, and beverage.

The fair will contribute to optimizing the impact of the two countries’ free trade agreement for a 10-billion USD goal in bilateral trade by 2020, the diplomat noted.

Nguyen Van Suu, Vice Chairman of the capital People’s Committee, said he expects more Russian products, like wines, meat and chocolates, will be available in Hanoi.

Statistics showed that Vietnam-Russia trade hit 2.4 billion USD in the first seven months of 2017, up 18 percent year on year. 

Export value of Russian food and farm produce to Vietnam amounted to 170 million USD between January and June, an annual increase of 9.3 percent.

Sumitomo begins building Thang Long Industrial Park III

Japan’s Sumitomo Corporation broke the ground for the construction of its third Thang Long Industrial Park (TLIP III) in Vietnam in the northern province of Vinh Phuc on September 21.

TLIP III covers more than 213 hectares in Thien Ke and Tam Hop communes of Binh Xuyen district. It is expected to generate jobs for thousands of labourers. 

The park is calling for projects on non-polluting industries, prioritising high-tech projects, support industry, spare parts production in service of the auto and motorcycle sector, and precision engineering, among others. 

In his remarks, Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung noted his hope that Sumitomo will build TLIP III into a model in terms of infrastructure and environment in Vietnam in general and Vinh Phuc in particular. 

He called on Sumitomo, with its prestige, will continue to work as a bridge for other Japanese businesses to invest in Vietnam. 

Dung also asked competent agencies and all-level authorities in Vinh Phuc to create the best possible conditions for investors, especially Sumitomo, and TLIP III, noting that Japanese businesses have contributed to creating breakthroughs in Vinh Phuc and other Vietnamese cities and provinces. 

On October 22, 2015, Vinh Phuc licensed a project to develop infrastructure in TLIP III, which is the tenth out of 19 industrial parks ratified by the Prime Minister to be built by 2020.

The province is expected to attract 79 Japanese projects after TLIP III is put into service. 

Sumitomo built TLIP I and II in Hanoi and the northern province of Hung Yen.

Four banks ink deal to finance Vinh Tan 4 thermoelectric plant

Four commercial banks inked a deal in Hanoi on September 21 to provide 5,400 billion VND (23.75 million USD) in credit for the expanded Vinh Tan 4 thermoelectric project. 

According to EVN, the An Binh Bank has acted as coordinator to arrange the financial package with the Vietnam Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development, the Tien Phong Bank, the Lien Viet Post Bank and the Ho Chi Minh City Housing Development Bank. 

Under the credit contract, the loan will have a term of 15 years (180 months) with a grace period of 60 months.

The project, invested by the Electricity of Vietnam (EVN) group, is one of the five thermoelectric plants in the Vinh Tan power complex in the south central province of Binh Thuan. 

It has total investment of 23.9 trillion VND (over 1.1 billion USD), and has been listed among urgent projects during 2013-2020.

The plant has one turbine with a capacity of 600 MW. When becoming operational in 2019, it will supply around 3.9 billion kWh of electricity to the national grid.

Bottom falls out of US market as Vietnamese shrimp sales plummet

Farm raised shrimp exports from Vietnam to the US fell nearly 6% in the seven months leading up to August 2017 on the back of increased import duties, says the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers.

In a written report, the Association said that in 2016 the US was the top market for farm raised shrimp consignments, but that sales have plummeted in 2017 and the market is now ranked only the fourth largest.

In terms of volume of sales – Japan, the EU and China are the now the top three selling markets for Vietnamese farm raised shrimp, according to the Association report.

When comparing the US anti-dumping tariffs with that of India and Thailand, Vietnam has the highest rates, which has priced Vietnamese shrimp right out of the market, Truong Dinh Hoe, general secretary of VASEP, recently told the Saigon Times.

LG launches start-up competition for youth with disabilities

LG Group successfully organized a ‘Global IT Challenge’ competition for global youth with disabilities on September 19-21 with the aim of helping them to integrate into the society and seek employment opportunities.

The contest initiated by the Korean Ministry of Health and Welfare was co-hosted by the Korean Society for Rehabilitation of Persons with Disabilities and LG Group. This year’s contest was held in Vietnam as part of activities to mark the 25th anniversary of Vietnam-Republic of Korea diplomatic ties.

One of major targets of the contest is to coordinate with government agencies to build IT development to support people with disabilities in different countries.

One hundred youth disabilities aged 13-19 from 16 Asian countries took part in the contest. They were divided into four categories, Visual Impairment, Hearing impairment, Physical impairment and Intellectual /development disorder.

Kim Young-lak, LG Electronics Vietnam, said they launched the contest with the aim of helping youth with disabilities to discover their strength and get jobs to improve their lives and integrate into the society.

Work begins on Vietnam’s first aircraft engine parts factory

A ground-breaking ceremony for Vietnam’s first aircraft engine parts factory, Hanwha Aero Engines, was held at the Hoa Lac High-tech Park in Hanoi on September 21.

The nearly 97,000sq.m plant invested by Hanwha Techwin Co., Ltd from the Republic of Korea (RoK) has total investment of 200 million USD. The first facility is expected to become operational in next April and the construction of the two others will be completed in 2022.

The project will generate jobs for 1,000 local labourers.

Speaking at the ceremony, Minister of the Science and Technology Chu Ngoc Anh highlighted that the event is significant as the two countries are celebrating the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations.

Hanwha Techwin will create a knock-on effect, helping the Hoa Lac High-tech Park attract more foreign investors in the coming time, Anh said, adding that they will make major contributions to enhancing scientific and industrial potential in the northern region in particular and Vietnam in general.

The company has recently received large orders from world’s leading aero engine producers like General Electrict, Pratt & Whitney and Roll-Royce. The Hanwha Aero Engines plant, with competitive production capacity, is expected to promote the development of Vietnam’s aero industry in the future.

The Ministry of Science and Technology has ordered the management board of the Hoa Lac High-tech Park to complete the construction of basic infrastructure as well as mechanisms and policies, creating favourable conditions for investors.

From the outset of the year, the board granted investment licenses to three projects with total registered capital of over 5 trillion VND (219.9 million USD) and the RoK’s aircraft engine parts plant is standout among them. 

Currently, the board is pushing negotiations to lure a high-tech project worth more than 500 million USD from Japan as well as major projects of domestic groups.-VNA

Mobile phone exports to China surge

Mobile phones and spare parts have become one of Vietnam’s key exports to China with turnover of 1.35 billion USD as of end of August, up 137 percent year-on-year, according to the General Department of Vietnam Customs.

In August alone, the figure surged to 546 million USD, an increase of 132.3 percent compared to the previous month and seven times higher than that of August 2016.

Vietnam’s total export turnover to China was estimated at 18.7 billion USD as the end of August, a rise of 45 percent year on year.

Vietnam attends international garment fair in France

Ten companies from the Vietnam Textile and Garment Association (VITAS) attended the Apparel Sourcing Paris, a leading European sourcing trade fair, in Paris from September 18-21, to seek trade partners.

The fair, held in February and September each year, displayed finished products like knitwear, casual wear, sportswear, outerwear and corporate wear. Information on the latest clothing trends was on display at booths and forums.

Cooperation and investment opportunities in the Vietnamese garment sector were introduced at a conference held by French non-profit Evalliance association, which was established in 2014 to connect the EU and Indochina in the industry.

According to the trade office of the Vietnamese Embassy in France, France is the Vietnamese textile industry’s fifth largest market in the EU. Vietnam creates favourable conditions for French investors to study opportunities with domestic businesses and offers them preferential policies like corporate income tax cuts, material import tax cuts and reduced land hiring cost.

A representative from Evalliance expressed admiration for Vietnam’s rapid garment growth and the country’s strategies to lure investment.

On the occasion, a fashion show on the autumn-winter collection of Garment 10 Joint Stock Company, which specialises in office fashion, was held.

Pham Thi Bich Thuy, managing director of the company, said that the company has invested in modern production lines to improve product quality. 

The company won contracts with some large customers at the fair, she added.

With export revenue of 3 billion euros every year, Vietnam is the sixth largest garment supplier for the EU. Experts said that the Vietnam-EU free trade agreement will allow Vietnam to consolidate its position as a leading exporter to the EU. After the deal takes effect, 71 percent of Vietnamese exports to the EU will be duty free while other tax lines will be dropped in the following seven years.

Currently, Vietnamese products are levied taxes from 8-12 percent in the EU. 

According to the deal, goods must have clear origin to enjoy preferential taxes.

HCMC to host printing and packaging exhibition     

The 17th annual Viet Nam International Printing & Packaging Industry Exhibition will be held in the HCM City’s Saigon Exhibition & Convention Centre from October 5 to 8.

The four-day event will feature 300 exhibitors from 11 countries and territories including Viet Nam, Hong Kong, India, South Korea, North Korea, and China.

They will showcase their latest products and technologies including printing machines and accessories, inks, printing materials, cutting disks, packaging machinery, raw materials, auxiliaries and coding and marking systems.

According to the Viet Nam Printing Association (VPA), the packaging and labelling sector is growing at around 10 per cent annually thanks to high demand from processing firms and exporters. Meanwhile, the Viet Nam Packaging Association expects annual growth of 15-20 per cent in the coming years given expanding production.

Visitors can book online before October 3 at https://www.vietnamprintpack.com/visitorReg.asp or at the exhibition.

The show will be organised by the Viet Nam National Trade Fair & Advertising Company (VINEXAD), Chan Chao International Co., and Yorkers Trade & Marketing Service Co. 

Ministry to regulate e-trading

The Ministry of Finance has developed a draft circular that provides a general legal framework on the electronic trading activities at the stock market.

The draft circular has been sent to the market members to collect their ideas and opinions.

It is expected to ensure that the electronic trading activities at the stock market will be transparent, fair, secure and correspond to the Law of Electronic Trading, the Law of Cyber Security and other regulations.

Under the draft circular, the electronic trading software programmes that are currently being used by the market members must be inspected and scanned for security loopholes, and they must also be examined once a year.

Brokerage companies must also develop solutions that allow investors and traders to use their digital ID numbers and signatures if needed.

Securities firms that are licenced to provide electronic trading services must submit reports on a number of issues such as the electronic trading orders – which occur during the year – system upgrades and changes in the trading system.

The reports must be submitted within seven working days before the brokerage firms make their system changes and upgrades. The e-data files are also required and must be prepared within five days after the quarter-end day (for quarterly reports) and 30 days since the year-end day (for annual reports).

If approved, the draft circular would replace Circular 87/2013/TT-BTC issued by the finance ministry on June 28, 2013, regulating the electronic trading at the stock market.

According to the State Securities Commission, 88 securities firms have been licenced to provide electronic trading services for investors.

The total number of registered e-trading accounts has reached more than 1.1 million. In 2016, more than 480 billion e-trading transactions, worth VNĐ1.4 trillion (US$62.2 million), were made.

The highest-level market regulator said that there were some issues with the implementation of Circular 87, mainly regarding cyber security.

According to SSC, there have been no requirements for brokerage firms, stock exchanges and the Vietnam Securities Depository to provide trading data, which would help market regulators to supervise and prevent investors from manipulating share prices and earning illegitimate profits.

US extends antidumping order on Vietnamese shrimp

The US International Trade Commission voted unanimously in early September to support the domestic shrimp industry by extending the antidumping orders on frozen warm water shrimp from Vietnam, China, India and Thailand for an additional five years.

The antidumping orders were first enacted more than 10 years ago to offset cheating by foreign shrimp producers, said the Commission.

US State of North Carolina Congressman Walter Jones, Jr. applauded the Commission’s action saying, that shrimping is an integral part of the Eastern North Carolina heritage and economy.

Hard-working Eastern North Carolina fishing families have been devastated by unfairly traded foreign shrimp. If these orders weren't continued, producers from Vietnam, China and elsewhere would start illegally dumping shrimp into our market again. 

New US$180-million AEON MALL coming to Haiphong

Japanese shopping mall developer AEON MALL has decided to open a new US$180-million mall in the northern port city of Haiphong to further its ambition of building 20 shopping malls across Vietnam by 2025.

On September 20, AEON MALL Vietnam signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Haiphong Investment-Trade-Tourism Promotion Center and Viet Phat Import Export Trading Investment JSC to build a new shopping mall in Haiphong which is expected to create about 2,000 new jobs for locals.

Under the agreement, AEON MALL Vietnam will invest, build, manage, and develop integrated shopping malls and provide related services, including catering services, amusement parks for children, as well as rental space, counters, and shelves, all constructed, installed, and decorated.

The US$180-million (approximately VND4 trillion) facility covers an areaof 9.3 hectares at Ho Sen-Cau Rao 2 Route and will be the company’s third shopping mall in the north and the sixth one in Vietnam.

This MoU follows a previous one signed between AEON MALL Vietnam and Haiphong authorities at the Vietnam investment promotion conference witnessed by Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc during his state visit to Japan in last June.

Scheduled to come into operation in 2020, the Haiphong mall is expected to attract over 13 million visitors every year from Haiphong and surrounding provinces, such as Quang Ninh, Hai Duong, Thai Binh, and others. 

The mall will not only be a place to improve shopping convenience for customers, but also a multi-purpose complex and a place for cultural and social activities for all ages, with many integrated entertainment and educational facilities.

Iwamura Yasutsugu, general director of AEON MALL Vietnam, said, “We are very happy to start the project in the new but very promising Haiphong, to grow further and develop sustainably with Haiphong authorities, our business partners, and especially the citizens of Haiphong. We want our malls to become focal points for local community activities. This is why every mall we develop and operate is firmly rooted in the life of the surrounding communities and is designed as a place of fun and excitement to enhance the enjoyment of life for everyone.”

Le Van Thanh, Secretary of the Haiphong Party Committee, and Chairman of the Haiphong People's Council, said, "The investment of AEON MALL in Haiphong will meet people's shopping needs and contribute to developing Haiphong as a commercial centre of the North Coast.”

Thanh said the completion of the project will create jobs for more than 2,000 employees and at the same time increase the city's budget revenue as well create incentives for hundreds of medium- and small-sized enterprises in the city. 

Mobile numbers in Vietnam to become portable among carriers

A new plan enabling cellphone users in Vietnam to switch between mobile carriers while retaining their phone numbers is set to take effect on December 31.

Military-run telecom group Viettel has put the new technology to test on Thursday, when it begins running technical checks for the transfer of numbers between networks operated by itself and those by Vinaphone and Mobifone.

The three major mobile network providers have confirmed preparations to launch mobile number portability by the end of this year, as scheduled by the Ministry of Information and Communications.

According to the ministry, 90% of the cellphone users in Vietnam who subscribe to networks operated by these three telecom giants will benefit from the new service.

Mobile number portability (MNP) enables cellphone users to retain their mobile telephone numbers after changing mobile network providers.

The service is available to both prepaid and postpaid subscribers.

Currently, mobile users in Vietnam are forced to change numbers when deciding to switch to another carrier, as each network operator is allocated a different set of numbers.

“We’ve basically finished developing the technical infrastructure to interconnect our system with other providers,” a representative from Viettel told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper on September 20.

A Mobifone representative also confirmed the same day that the company was on schedule for the official launch of MNP in Vietnam on December 31.

An official from Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications Group (VNPT), which owns Vinaphone, said it had finished building the portal for the switch and that a MNP signaling system would be installed in October.

According to Vietnam’s Authority of Telecommunications, the technical connection between a central control center and the three providers’ systems is being tested this month and remains on schedule for launch in December.

A set of guidelines and procedures for the switch between network carriers will also be established by the end of the year.

The Ministry of Information and Communications estimates that between one and five percent of mobile phone users will switch networks after the feature launches, with the main reason for the switch being dissatisfaction with their current provider.

Regulations will have to be issued to prevent the exploitation of MNP by end users to enjoy promotions from different networks, the ministry warned.

According to a draft circular on MNP, subscribers are required to have used their number for at least 90 days with their current provider before they can make the switch.

Those with unpaid mobile bills will also be prohibited from transferring their number, the draft reads.

Experts welcome the plan as a fantastic opportunity for Vietnam’s mobile users, telecom market, and governing bodies.

The launch of MNP will force network providers to engage in healthy competition in order to retain current customers and attract new ones.

“Currently, many customers who are dissatisfied with their provider have to grin and bear it since they don’t want to lose their phone number,” said Do Thien Anh Tuan, a lecturer for the Fulbright Economic Teaching Program.

“With MNP, providers are stripped off this privilege and will have to offer quality service in order to retain customers.”

With this new feature, new network operators are also put on level playing ground with well established ones, increasing the competitiveness of the domestic mobile market.

For governing bodies, MNP will eliminate the need to allocate numbers to different providers, making the use of phone numbers much more efficient in that no single provider will have too few or too many digits on their hands.

“The only worry is pricing,” asserted Huynh Thanh Phi, a marketing expert.

“Of all the different ways of attracting customers, setting the lowest possible price may be the first option used by providers, even before quality.

"Without good management, the situation could spell chaos.”

Asian, European ministers seek ways to tackle trade protectionism

Economic leaders from Asia and Europe nations have gathered for the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) in Seoul, the Republic of Korea, to discuss ways to cope with rising protectionism in trade and to cooperate in the next industrial revolution.

According to the RoK’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, the 7th ASEM economic ministers' meeting, which is being held on September 21-22, has seen the attendance of economic ministers and senior officials from 51 nations. 

The main theme of this year's meeting is "Reconnecting Asia-Europe: Innovative Partnership for Inclusive Prosperity."

The meeting is expected to provide an opportunity for Asia and Europe to discuss ways to promote trade and investment, as well as to come up with joint responses to rising protectionism.

Trade has been a major driver for economic growth in ASEM partners, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said, noting ASEM share of global trade increased from 54 percent in 1995 to 64 percent in 2015.

The changing industry landscape led by digitalization will also be on the meeting’s agenda, which requires joint cooperation in enhancing economic connectivity and digital infrastructure across borders.

For sustainable and inclusive growth, the policymakers will touch on the fourth industrial revolution and the new climate framework under the Paris Agreement aimed at reducing carbon emissions.

ASEM was established in 1996 to boost ties between Asian and European countries. It now composes 20 Asian and 31 European nations, as well as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the European Union.

Vietnam Print Pack exhibition offers line-up of the industry’s very best

With the participation of numerous printing and packaging enterprises from a great variety of countries and territories, Vietnam Print Pack 2017 promises to attract a wide range of domestic and international visitors and offer them various choices of printing and packaging products.

According to market researcher Euromonitor International, demand for food packaging in Vietnam was 3.9 million tonnes in 2015 and it is expected to raise to 5.4 million tonnes by 2020, an equivalent of 38 per cent increase.

Nguyen Ngoc Sang, chairman of the Vietnam Packaging Association (Vinpas), said that the annual growth rate of the industry in Vietnam is 15-20 per cent, while a representative of the Vietnam Plastics Association (VPA) stated that the has reached an annual growth rate of 25 per cent in recent years.

With the aim of meeting the increasing demand for printing and packaging in Vietnam in the coming period, the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Vietnam National Trade Fair and Advertising Company (Vinexad) and Yorkers Trade & Marketing Service Co., Ltd. co-organised Vietnam Print Pack 2017 with the support of related governmental agencies and organisations.

The 17th international exhibition on the packaging and printing industry will take place on October 5-8 at Saigon Exhibition and Convention Center (SECC).

Vietnam Print Pack 2017 will host 300 exhibitors from 12 countries and territories, mainly from Vietnam, Hong Kong, India, Japan, and South Korea, Malaysia, Taiwan, and China. These exhibitors will open 540 booths in various fields of printing, packaging, and food processing, with the hope of luring in more than 9,000 visitors through the four-day exhibition.

Visitors to the exhibition will be offered the best choices of products available in a variety of fields, such as printers and printer spare parts, printing ink, supplies and materials for printing, and packaging machines.

At Vietnam Print Pack 2017, visitors can explore new and interesting innovative technologies and machines, as well as qualified raw materials provided by famous enterprises in the field of printing and packaging from around the world.

Exhibitors include Sansin Corporation, My Lan Group JSC, J&V Wonder Printing Vietnam Co., Ltd., Uchida Yoko Global Limited, Konica Minolta Business Solutions Vietnam Co., Ltd., and SBL Machinery Co., Ltd., Man Thanh One Member Co., Ltd., Innopack Vietnam Co., Ltd., and Hseng Tex Enterprise Co., Ltd., among others.

It is expected that Vietnam Print Pack 2017 will serve as an efficient platform for exporters and manufacturers in the printing and packaging industries to introduce their products and a comprehensive exhibition for visitors to approach state-of-the-art machinery, equipment, and materials.

CapitaLand strikes biggest deal in Asia-Pacific

In the largest office transaction in the Asia-Pacific this year, Singaporean real estate company CapitaLand purchased a landmark office tower for SGD2.09 billion ($1.55 billion).

CapitaLand Commercial Trust has agreed to buy Asia Square Tower 2, part of a world-class commercial development in Singapore’s Marina Bay business and financial district. Real estate consultancy firm JLL provided advisory for the transaction on behalf of the seller, BlackRock Asia Property Fund III.

The sale represents the largest office transaction both in Singapore and the Asia-Pacific and is the second largest office transaction globally this year in 2017.

Asia SQuare Tower 2 is the largest office transaction so far in Asia Pacific this year

“The sale of Asia Square Tower 2 continues the trend of buyers being attracted to mega deals in Asia. The sales process generated strong interest from major global investors and sends a clear message about the continued recovery of the Singaporean office market,” said Stuart Crow, head of Asia Pacific Capital Markets, JLL.

“With its sought-after location and first class amenities, Asia Square is one of the finest commercial real estate assets in Singapore and, more broadly, in Asia. Buildings of this quality and prominence are hard to come by, but we expect to see increased interest in Grade A office assets in Singapore off the back of this deal,” said Crow.

According to Greg Hyland, head of Capital Markets, Singapore, JLL, the Singaporean office market is really starting to gain traction and this deal will likely spur further interest, both domestically and internationally.

"Investors will become aware that we are at a point in the cycle where there are still opportunities to get good value, but we expect prices to pick up in the coming quarters as supply starts to taper down between now and the end of 2019,” he added.

The 46-storey Tower 2 has a net lettable area of 778,719 square feet (72,345 square metres). Asia Square Tower 1 was sold in June 2016 to sovereign wealth fund Qatar Investment Authority for SGD3.4 billion ($2.45 billion).

The entire Asia Square asset comprising of Tower 1, Tower 2, and Westin Singapore, achieved a combined sale price of SGD5.8 billion ($4.3 billion). The three elements were sold in 2016, 2017, and 2014, respectively.

JLL has been the leasing agent and property manager of Asia Square since it opened in 2011. Tenants of Tower 2 include major financial institutions such as Allianz, Mizuho, Mitsui, National Australia Bank, and Westpac.

Vietnam attends international garment fair in France

Ten companies from the Vietnam Textile and Garment Association (VITAS) attended the Apparel Sourcing Paris, a leading European sourcing trade fair, in Paris from September 18-21, to seek trade partners.

The fair, held in February and September each year, displayed finished products like knitwear, casual wear, sportswear, outerwear and corporate wear. Information on the latest clothing trends was on display at booths and forums.

Cooperation and investment opportunities in the Vietnamese garment sector were introduced at a conference held by French non-profit Evalliance association, which was established in 2014 to connect the EU and Indochina in the industry.

According to the trade office of the Vietnamese Embassy in France, France is the Vietnamese textile industry’s fifth largest market in the EU. Vietnam creates favourable conditions for French investors to study opportunities with domestic businesses and offers them preferential policies like corporate income tax cuts, material import tax cuts and reduced land hiring cost.

A representative from Evalliance expressed admiration for Vietnam’s rapid garment growth and the country’s strategies to lure investment.

On the occasion, a fashion show on the autumn-winter collection of Garment 10 Joint Stock Company, which specialises in office fashion, was held.

Pham Thi Bich Thuy, managing director of the company, said that the company has invested in modern production lines to improve product quality.

The company won contracts with some large customers at the fair, she added.

With export revenue of 3 billion euros every year, Vietnam is the sixth largest garment supplier for the EU. Experts said that the Vietnam-EU free trade agreement will allow Vietnam to consolidate its position as a leading exporter to the EU. After the deal takes effect, 71 percent of Vietnamese exports to the EU will be duty free while other tax lines will be dropped in the following seven years.

Currently, Vietnamese products are levied taxes from 8-12 percent in the EU.

According to the deal, goods must have clear origin to enjoy preferential taxes.

Startups seek ways to access capital resources, Int’l finance conference opens in HCM City, Reference exchange rate up by 4 VND, VN-Index declines for third day, Vinamilk eyes 51 trillion VND in revenue in 2017
 
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