BUSINESS IN BRIEF 4/10
Tra fish prices in Mekong Delta shoot up



Tra fish prices in Mekong Delta shoot up, Turnover drops to 1-month low, Additional VND6 trillion required for Long Thanh Airport’s site clearance, Lotte to acquire Vietnam’s Techcom Finance



Tra fish prices in the Mekong Delta have rallied in the past nine months, bringing in more profits to farmers.

According to Vietnamplus newspaper, the average prices of raw tra fish in the delta in September surged to VND25,000-27,000 (US$1.1-1.2) per kilo depending on the quality.

Prices of big-sized tra fish weighing more than 1 kilo each increased by VND2,000-2,500 per kilo compared to the previous month to VND24,500-25,000 per kilo, while the standard tra fish is sold at VND24,000-26,500 per kilo, up 19-23% year-on-year. Fingerling prices also increased sharply due to short supply and higher demand.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the price increase resulted from limited supply of tra fish and higher demand for export processing, especially in the last three months of the year when there are major holidays like Christmas and New Year.

At present, the Mekong Delta’s total acreage of tra fish farming is 5,140 hectares, down 1.3% year-on-year. However, the delta’s tra fish output in the first nine months of 2017 reached 998,000 tons, up 9.8% compared to the same period last year.

Localities in the delta that have large-scale tra fish farming include Dong Thap Province with January-September total output of 390,000 tons, up 18.7% year-on-year, and Can Tho City with 134,000 tons, up 13.5% year-on-year.

Turnover drops to 1-month low

Turnover on the HCMC market plunged to a one-month low because of investor caution yesterday while the VN-Index extended losses to the second straight session.

Closing the day, there were 119.4 million shares worth VND2.7 trillion changing hands, down 18.5% and 23.5% against last Friday respectively. Meanwhile, the VN-Index fell a slight 2.19 points, or 0.27%, at 802.23.

Among four volume leaders on the southern bourse, only steelmaker HPG managed a mild increase while property stocks FLC, HQC and DXG closed in the red. FLC was the most actively traded stock with 7.5 million shares while DXG was the biggest loser, falling 3.5% at VND20,200 a share.

For speculative stocks, HAI, an agricultural chemical company, closed at the floor price of VND7,610 a share on volume of 3.2 million shares. FIT, which is active in finance and consulting sectors, also plunged to the floor price with 3.7 million shares traded.

Among brewery stocks, BHN stayed at the ceiling price of VND133,400 a share during the day with more than 44,000 shares exchanged. In contrast, SAB declined nearly 2% at VND258,000 per share on modest turnover.
On the Hanoi market, the HNX-Index lost 0.13% versus the session earlier at 107.51. Turnover slid 16.9% in volume and 11.4% in value to 51.9 million shares worth VND468 billion.

KLF, a trading and food service enterprise, again took the lead for liquidity with nine million shares exchanged. The stock gained 2.6% at VND3,900 per share.

Construction firm PVX led decliners, plunging to the floor price of VND2,500 a share on volume of over eight million shares. HNK, a food and agricultural company, also closed at the floor price of VND2,800 per share with 1.7 million traded.

Meanwhile, mining firm SPI was among top gainers as it shot up to the upper limit of VND5,900 a share on volume of 1.5 million shares.

Among large caps, lender SHB and petroleum technical service firm PVS moved sideways on volume of 5.8 million shares and 3.4 million shares respectively. VGC, a building material manufacturer, inched up 0.8% at VND23,000 per share while bank stock ACB declined.

Foreigners net bought over VND45.8 billion on the southern bourse. However, the investors shifted to the selling side on the northern market, net selling VND17.5 billion worth of shares.

According to vietstock.vn, the losing streak may extend further today as the cash flow remained weak. Investors should avoid buying new stocks in the following sessions.

Additional VND6 trillion required for Long Thanh Airport’s site clearance

An additional VND6 trillion (nearly US$263.5 million) will be needed for site clearance of Long Thanh International Airport project in Dong Nai Province from now till 2020, said Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyen Chi Dung at a conference yesterday.

Resettlement and site clearance compensation for the project will cost over VND23 trillion, according to a report of Dong Nai Province. The National Assembly has allowed the project investor to use VND5 trillion from G-bond sales in the 2017-2020 period for these components.

However, Dung said this is just the initial estimation. The latest plan indicates that the project will need VND11 trillion for site clearance alone from now until 2020. If the plan is approved, the country will face a shortfall of VND6 trillion, which has not been included in the medium-term public investment plan in 2016-2020.

Dung said the money for this extra investment will be pooled from State projects that have been canceled.
Speaking about slow capital disbursement for the project, Dung pointed out several reasons, both subjective and objective, including complicated procedures.

Dung said disbursement rate in the first nine months of 2017 was just 51% for public investments. However, disbursement is often accelerated in the last months of the year.

Long Thanh International Airport is a project of national importance, and will have total capacity of 100 million passengers and five million tons of cargo a year.

The project was approved by the NA in June 2015. Its total cost is estimated at VND336.6 trillion (US$16 billion), with the first stage requiring VND114.45 trillion.

Lotte to acquire Vietnam’s Techcom Finance

South Korea’s Lotte Group is in the final stage to take over Vietnam-based TechcomFinance, a subsidiary of private lender Techcombank, according to Korean media reports.

The buyout will be implemented through Lotte Card Company, a credit card unit of the Korean conglomerate, with the value of Vietnamese company estimated at tens of billions of won (US$8.8 million), the news site nhipcaudautu.vn reports, citing Korean sources.

If the acquisition is successful, Lotte Card will become the first Korean credit card company to hold a credit card license in Vietnam.

The move comes at a time when Lotte Group, which is operating 11 Lotte Mart stores in Vietnam, has recently made up its mind to withdraw from its retail business in China by selling off its outlets there.

TechcomFinance was set up in 2015 when Techcombank acquired a 100% stake in Vietnam Chemical Finance JSC, as the Government restructured the State-owned Vietnam National Chemical Group (Vinachem).

Vinachem was initially the holding group of the finance company with a 37% stake, while Techcombank was a founding shareholder with a 10% stake.

GDP in quarter three posts record high of 7.46%

The national gross domestic product (GDP) growth in the third quarter reached a record high of 7.46%, according to the General Statistics Office (GSO).

GSO general director Nguyen Bich Lam said at a press conference in Hanoi on September 29 that the economic growth has shown positive signs. Significant breakthroughs have been made in the processing and manufacturing sector and export activities.

He added the restructuring of agriculture, forestry and fisheries as a whole, as well as the role of an “enabling State” has proven effective. The major balances of the economy have been sustainable, and inflation has been curbed.

The GDP growth in the year to September grew by 6.41%, driven by a 2.78% pickup in agriculture, forestry and fishery, a 7.17% rise in industry and construction, and a 7.25% improvement in services.

The speedy recovery and growth of the processing and manufacturing sector, and the impressive result of the services sector are major factors contributing to the economy’s overall growth rate.

In particular, the processing and manufacturing sector rose by a sharp 16.63% in quarter three, the highest since 2011 thanks to electronics products, computers, phones, metals and metal products.

The production index of electronic products, computers and phones in quarter three rocketed to 45.5% against the year-ago period, making the January-September period increase to 25.1%, as the Samsung Group expanded its production of high-valued electronic products.

Vietnam fetched US$154 billion in export revenue in the nine-month period, a year-on-year rise of 19.8%.

The consumer price index (CPI) last month rose by 0.59% compared to August, expanding 1.83% against December 2016, and 3.04% year-on-year. Overall, the average CPI inched up 3.79% in the year to September.

As such, the target to curb inflation and keep the all-year CPI of less than 4% is attainable.

Direct and indirect foreign investments amounted to US$25.5 billion in the nine months, increasing by 34.3% year-on-year.

The country has had over 93,900 startups with total registered capital of around VND902.7 trillion in the nine-month period, up 15.4% and 43% respectively over the same period last year. Notably, around 21,100 suspended enterprises had resumed operations, rising 2.9% year-on-year and bringing the total number of businesses that have been newly established and resumed business to over 115,000.

The GSO general director said this year’s 6.7% growth target will come true if the GDP in the last quarter reaches 7.31%. This is an ambitious target, however.

He stressed the positive results in the past nine months, especially the trend in the third quarter, has created a strong momentum, and thus the GDP growth target for 2017 will likely be met.

PVN’s nine-month oil production exceeds assigned plan

The domestic crude oil output of the Vietnam National Oil and Gas Group (PVN), in the first nine months of 2017, has exceeded the Government-assigned plan by 297,000 tonnes, significantly contributing to the growth of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

According to the statistics announced by the PVN on October 3, the total output of oil equivalent reached 19.01 million tonnes, meeting 73.6% of the year’s plan.

Specifically, oil production during the period hit 11.7 million tonnes, an excess of 2.8% in comparison to the set target, with domestic production at 10.25 million tonnes, exceeding by 3%, equivalent to 297,000 tonnes, and foreign production at 1.46 million tonnes, surpassing the plan by 1.4%.

In addition to crude oil production, the PVN has also surpassed other output targets, including nitrogenous fertilizer production (1.32 million tonnes, exceeding the plan by 10.1%) and petroleum production (4.46 million tonnes, exceeding the plan by 22.6%).

Thanks to the finalisation of their business production targets, PVN’s financial targets also surpassed the set plans, with the group earning VND367 trillion (US$16.15 billion) in total revenues between January and September, exceeding their plan by 16%, and contributing VND68 trillion (roughly US$3 billion) to the State budget, 21% above the set plan.

In the remainder of the year, the PVN will focus on synchronously implementing the necessary measures in order to ensure domestic crude oil production in 2017, in accordance with the plan assigned by the Government.

In addition, the group will work actively and closely with the relevant agencies in deploying its business production and investment activities, contributing to affirming Vietnam’s sovereignty.

Ninh Thuan calls for investment in renewable energy

The southern province of Ninh Thuan is continuing to appeal to enterprises to invest in wind and solar power production to contribute to promoting the local economy and ensure national energy security.

The province has granted investment certificates to eight wind power projects with a total capacity of 514MW and a total investment capital of approximately VND19.7 trillion (US$866.8 million). Of which, four projects are currently under construction, with a total capacity of 208.1 MW, including Mui Dinh, Cong Hai, Trung Nam and Dam Nai wind power plants.

In addition, the People's Committee of Ninh Thuan province has also approved the investment policy of three solar power projects, with a total capacity of 150 MW, as well as approving the locations for investment surveys of 30 other solar power projects.

The province is working to complete the planning of solar power development in the 2016-2020 period with a vision to 2030, before submitting it to the Ministry of Industry and Trade for approval. When the planning is adopted it will create a basis for the province to call on investors in the field, as well as mobilising resources from the Government to invest in the renewable power transmission system in the locality.

According to the provincial Department of Planning and Investment, the province will provide investors with the highest incentives possible in accordance with the Government's regulations on land rent, corporate income tax, import tax and infrastructure investment.

Renewable energy projects in the province will be exempt from land rent for the whole lease term (throughout the lifetime of the project) and will be subject to a 10% corporate income tax rate throughout the lifetime of the project.

Investors will also be exempt from corporate income tax for four years and enjoy a 50% reduction of tax payments for the subsequent nine years. Furthermore, such projects will be exempt from import duties on goods imported to create the fixed assets of enterprises.

Director of Ninh Thuan provincial Department of Industry and Trade Pham Dang Thanh said that the province wishes to utilise the advantages of solar and wind energy resources, adding that Ninh Thuan identifies the development of renewable energy as an advantage that will create a breakthrough in order to promote other economic sectors.

According to the planning vision to 2030, Ninh Thuan province could attract investment to develop wind power projects with a total capacity of 1,429 MW and solar power projects with a total capacity of about 4,848 MW. 

According to a survey by the World Bank, Ninh Thuan province has the highest wind speed in the country, averaging 7.5 m per second, which is ideal for wind power development. 

In particular, Ninh Thuan rarely has any storms and winds blow throughout ten months of each year, with a speed of 6.4 to 9.6 m per second, which will ensure the stability of the wind turbines’ output.

Ninh Thuan also has an average of 7.7 hours of sunshine per day, with high intensity of light and solar radiation of 230 kcal per cm2 per year, which is highly favourable for developing solar power.

Maritime Bank signs MoU with Dai-ichi Life

Maritime Bank and Dai-ichi Life Insurance Vietnam held a ceremony recently to sign a comprehensive cooperation agreement on both banking and insurance services.

Maritime Bank will be a strategic partner and introduce the life insurance solutions of Dai-ichi Life to domestic customers at all branches and transaction offices in the northern region. 

Dai-ichi Life, meanwhile, will be a customer and strategic partner of the bank in introducing modern and convenient banking services to the company’s employees, customers, and agents in its distribution channels.

“This is a milestone in enhancing our partnership, creating momentum for the further development of Maritime Bank and Dai-ichi Life in the future,” Mr. Huynh Buu Quang, General Director of Maritime Bank, told the signing ceremony. 

“In particular, this collaboration will help us unify each side’s advantages in superior products and services to provide our customers and partners with a comprehensive service experience and value.”

“As one of the leading life insurance companies in the bancassurance sector, we are delighted together with Maritime Bank to step into a collaborative journey to bring customers different values and added benefits,” said Mr. Tran Dinh Quan, CEO of Dai-ichi Life Vietnam. 

“Maritime Bank has the strength of a leading commercial bank in Vietnam and Dai-ichi Life is one of the four biggest life insurers in the market, so the cooperation between Dai-ichi Life Vietnam and Maritime Bank will have practical resonance, not only improving customer service quality at both parties but also bringing benefits in terms of business operations.”

Maritime Bank is one of the leading commercial joint stock banks in Vietnam, with a wide network of nearly 300 transaction offices and nearly 500 ATMs nationwide. It currently serves about 1.5 million individual customers and 35,000 corporate clients.

Dai-ichi Life Vietnam is now one of the four leading life insurance companies in the country, serving over 1.7 million customers with a network of 239 offices and general agents in its 63 cities and provinces.

It has recently received approval from the Ministry of Finance to raise its charter capital to $117 million to expand its distribution network. 

With the capital increase, it becomes one of the largest life insurance companies in the market, demonstrating its strong financial capacity as well as its long-term commitment to Vietnamese customers.

Uber beset by difficulties

2017 has been something of a tumultuous year for Uber in Vietnam, with it having difficulties in operations and facing ongoing opposition from traditional taxi firms. It also recently lost its CEO.

In late September, the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Taxation issued a decision imposing fines and collecting taxes from Uber, totaling $3 million, after tax inspections were conducted on financials during its more than three years in Vietnam.

Uber was fined for false declarations that reduced its tax payable by nearly VND10.3 billion ($453,200), and was ordered to pay tax arrears of nearly VND51.48 billion ($2.265 million).

While Uber Vietnam has not made any official response to the tax department’s decision, information continues to appear on social networks indicating that the company will cease operations in Vietnam until it fulfills its tax obligations.

Meanwhile, Mr. Dang Viet Dung, CEO of Uber Vietnam for the last three years, has left the company, which may also impact on operations.

Recently, Mai Linh Mien Bac, a major taxi company in Vietnam owned by the Mai Linh Group, was reported to be preparing to launch motorbike transport services called M.Bike and M.Bike Premium, to compete with uberMoto and GrabBike.

Vinasun, the leading taxi company in Ho Chi Minh City in terms of market share, recently proposed a series of measures to make Uber and Grab comply with existing law and ensure fair competition.

According to Vinasun, Uber and Grab have used apps to connect drivers and customers without gaining permission from authorities. And while Vinasun must pay taxes and abide by 13 business conditions, Grab and Uber do not.

At a workshop entitled “Urban Traffic Regulation Policy in the Digital Era” held by the Vietnam Center for Economic and Policy Research on September 8 in Hanoi, economist Pham The Anh agreed that Uber and Grab are a test of the direction towards promoting science and technology in real life and in economic activities.

“Policy makers need to make assessments from a variety of perspectives, such as consumers, service providers, and taxi companies, to come up with appropriate policies,” he said.

Uber entered Vietnam in July 2014 and late last year Vietnam became the first country in Southeast Asia to launch cash payments, and since then a significant proportion of fares have been paid for by cash. uberMOTO was also launched earlier this year, providing motorbike taxis with lower fares.

Mekong Capital wins private equity international award

Mekong Capital has been awarded the 2017 Private Equity International Award for Operational Excellence for a small cap investment in Asia, based on the performance of Mobile World.

This is the fifth year in a row of Mekong Capital winning an award by Private Equity International, after having won the Operational Improvement Firm of the year for the Asian Small Cap category in 2013 and 2015, Frontier Market Firm of the year for 2014 and 2016.

Mekong Capital is well-known for its ‘Vision Driven Investing’ formula – the secret sauce for its series of consistently successful investments. Mobile World has applied most of the framework and is one of the best performers of Mekong Capital’s investee companies.

The ‘Vision Driven Investing’ framework seeks to align stakeholders with investee companies to achieve big breakthrough goals. Vision Driven Investing was first introduced in 2009 and includes 14 components which are the key success drivers of Mekong Capital’s ability to add value to investee companies.

Mekong Capital has supported Mobile World to implement the framework via different initiative from creating a vision, improving management team, building corporate culture and involving outside experts.

For example, Mekong Capital inspired Mobile World to create and launch its first vision in 2008 and then revised visions in 2011 and 2015. With a clear vision, Mobile World’s team aligned around common goals, and successfully achieved their shared vision. 

Since 2008, Mekong Capital recruited for Mobile World key senior managers and executives who tremendously contributed to the success of the company. Many of them are still with the company and playing critical leadership roles.

Furthermore, Mekong encouraged and assisted Mobile World to build a strong corporate culture by inviting the retailer’s 35 top people to participate in a nine-month breakthrough leadership programme as well as some follow-on programmes.
Once the new culture took root in the top several hundred people, they cascaded it down to others in the company.

Besides, Mekong Capital has also fostered connections between Mobile World and sector experts and international industry leaders, transformed the company’s incentive system and supported its management in expanding into new business areas such as consumer electronics and grocery sectors.

As a result, Mobile World has grown into the market leader in Vietnam’s mobile device sector and consumer electronics sector while made a successful start in grocery sector.

By September 2017, Mobile World operated with 1,057+ mobile phone stores across the nation, controlling more than 42 per cent of the national market share. The company is also operating 535+ electronics stores, controlling more than 22 per cent of the national market share and a small format grocery chain with 190+ stores.

Since 2013, Mekong Capital has made 18 partial divestments of Mobile World including the most recent one in September 2017 in which it sold shares worth more than $18 million and realised gross IRR of 62.6%+ and gross return multiple of more than 133 times on the shares sold.

The Vision Driven Investing framework has proven itself as a secret sauce of Mekong’s successful investments over time after effectively adding value to other investee firms that applied the initiative.

Mekong Capital is a Vietnam-focused private equity firm, specialising in consumer driven businesses. Mekong Capital’s funds have completed 32 private equity investments in Vietnam, of which 22 have been fully exited and one have been partially exited. Mekong Capital manages four funds, with a team of 25+ full-time people in our offices in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi.

The funds invest in fast-growing companies, with ambitious expansion plans, and a commitment to building management teams that will successfully execute on those expansion plans. These companies are typically well-established companies in consumer-driven sectors which operate in fragmented and fast growing markets which provide attractive growth opportunities.

Mekong Enterprise Fund III has currently made seven investments in pawn firm F88, logistics companies Nhat Tin and ABA, restaurant chain Chao Do, Ben Thanh Jewelry, Yola test prep centres. All investee firms in MEF III are implementing Vision Driven Investing framework.

Property prices in Vietnam are around 25 higher than average incomes because of high land prices and land taxes.
   
During a meeting with Party Central Committee's Economic Commission, Le Hoang Chau, chairman of Ho Chi Minh City Real Estate Association, said the property prices in South Korea were only seven times higher than average incomes, however, the price for an affordable house in Vietnam was 25 times higher than the average income of local people.

"That's mean most people can't afford to own a good house," he said.

Nguyen Hoai An, Head of Market Research and Consultancy at Commercial Real Estate Services in Vietnam, said the price of a property was calculated based on many factors such as the material prices and profit rates to attract investors. She said the interest in Vietnam's real estate market is higher than other countries due to its popularity.

Nguyen Van Dinh, deputy chairman of the Vietnam Real Estate Brokers, agreed that property prices in Vietnam were high compared to neighbouring countries.

According to Dinh, the average income in Vietnam is USD2,112 per year and the average income in Singapore is USD44,352. However, the property prices in Vietnam are nearly as high as the prices in Singapore.

He went on to say that high land prices and land taxes pushed the property prices up. In addition, the complicated procedures that real estate investors face also boost the investment costs.

"Some policies about land clearance and related problems are conflicted with each other and several taxes are unreasonable or collected twice," he said.

Vinh Tan 4 thermal power plant’s second turbine put into operation

The second turbine of the Vinh Tan 4 thermal power plant began generating electricity for the national grid on October 3, nearly three months after the launch of the first one, according to the Electricity of Vietnam (EVN) group.

The Vinh Tan thermal power plant project is invested by the EVN and was listed in the urgent constructions in 2013-2020 by the Prime Minister.

It is one of the five thermal power plants of the Vinh Tan Power Station in Tuy Phong district in the southern province of Binh Thuan, 250 km north of Ho Chi Minh City.

The plant has two turbines with a combined capacity of 1,200 MW and was built at a cost of 36 trillion VND (1.58 billion USD).

In full operation, it is expected to generate about 7.2 billion kWh each year. It is the first large-scale coal-fueled thermal power plant in Vietnam using the supercritical steam generator.

The plant is also hoped to contribute to socio-economic development in the South Central Region and raise the stability and economic operation of the national grid.

Long An to host Mekong Delta industry-trade fair

Fifteen southern and central provinces and cities have registered to showcased products at 291 booths at the Mekong Delta Industry-Trade Fair 2017 which is slated for October 11-17 in Tan An city in the Mekong Delta province of Long An.

The event, jointly held by the Agency for Regional Industry Development under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, and the provincial Department of Industry and Trade, aims to introduce outstanding rural industrial products and help businesses stabilise production and enlarge consumption markets.

On the display at the fair will be handicrafts, farm produce, traditionally processed food, beverages, seedlings, cattle feed, aquatic products and equipment used in agricultural production, processing and preservation.

The fair will include conferences and workshops on the rural industry, new products, advanced technologies and export markets. Excellent booths and standout enterprises will be honored at the event as well.

The event will also create opportunities for firms in southern localities to exchange experience and grasp customers’ taste to branch out new products and improve competitive capacity.

According to Nguyen Xuan Hong, Deputy Director of the provincial Department of Industry and Trade, the organising board will arrange two free-of-charge booths for the localities to exhibit their local products and support 80 percent of costs for pavilions showcasing rural industrial products.

Can Tho affiliates with Japan in developing model farm

Chairman of the People’s Committee of the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho Vo Thanh Thong had a working session on October 3 with Abe Masayuki, Director of the Vietnam Agricultural Information Centre (VAIO) on the development of the ideal model farm project in the locality.

Abe Masayuki said that the major objective of the project, which is an idea of former President Truong Tan Sang, is building a training system for agricultural experts and setting up a foundation for the implementation of a synthetic agricultural system that is being implemented by Japanese agricultural businesses.

The system includes organic cultivation, cooling system, frozen preservation, and harvesting technology.

The project will be launched in the Mekong Delta region with Can Tho playing the key role.

Masayuki said that the model farm will have the slogan “Made by Japanese in Vietnam”, adding that the coordination between the two countries will introduce a new trademark in the agricultural market.

Initially, the project will cover about 2 hectares in the campus of the Can Tho College of Economy and Technology, using capital from the Japanese Government and private firms of both countries. The Japanese side will help train Vietnamese agricultural experts in Japan.

Along with exporting products to Japan, the model is expected to become a reference for other localities.

The Can Tho city leader said that the city will support the project with the aim of developing human resources for the agricultural sector and solving the city’s lack of high quality personnel.

Thong proposed that the model should be multiplied right after it shows success.

Reference exchange rate stays stable

The daily reference exchange rate for VND/USD on October was kept unchanged from the previous day at 22,473 VND/USD.

With the current trading band of /-3 percent, the ceiling rate applied to commercial banks during the day is 23,146 VND/USD and the floor rate 21,800 VND/USD.

The opening hour rates at major commercial stayed stable.

The greenback is being bought at 22,690 VND and sold at 22,760 VND per USD at Vietcombank and Vietinbank, unchanged from the rates on the previous day.

Meanwhile, BIDV offered 22,695 VND (buying) and 22,765 VND (selling), per USD, also unchanged from the day ago.

VN Index falls for third session

Shares sank again on the HCM Stock Exchange on October 3 as large-cap stocks were hit by low investor optimism.

The benchmark VN Index on the southern market fell 0.53 percent to close at 798.00 points, recovering slightly from the intraday low of 795.05 points.

Vietnam’s benchmark index has lost a total of 0.84 percent after the last three sessions, sinking below the supportive level of 800 points.

Strong investor selling pressure helped push the market trading liquidity up sharply from the previous session.

More than 162.2 million shares were traded on the southern bourse, worth 3.28 trillion VND (146 million USD).

October 3’s trading figures were up 35.7 percent in volume and 18 percent in value compared to the previous session.

On the southern market, losing stocks outnumbered gaining ones by a roughly 2:1 ratio, proving that market trading conditions were quite poor.

Large-cap stocks traded poorly as 23 of the 30 largest stocks, in terms of market capitalisation and trading liquidity in the VN30 Index, declined while only five others ended higher.

Declining stocks in the VN30 Index dropped between 3.7 percent and 0.1 percent, with shares of Thanh Thanh Cong Tay Ninh Sugar Co (SBT), PetroVietnam Drilling and Well Services (PVD) and Kinh Bac City Development Holding Corp (KBC) coming in as the three worst-performing stocks.

According to the Hanoi-based brokerage Bao Viet Securities Co (BVSC), October 3’s fall signaled the stock market could keep declining in the coming sessions.

Investors became pessimistic about the current market trading conditions and they worried the VN Index might suffer a strong downward trend in the short term, BVSC said in its daily report.

Poor investor confidence was the major factor that pushed market trading liquidity higher and increased the number of declining stocks on the market, it added.

However, investors’ bottom-fishing instincts showed when the benchmark index touched the level of 795 points during the Tuesday session. That investor behavior could lift the VN Index in the next one or two sessions, BVSC said.

“In the worst scenario, the VN Index would retreat to the short-term supportive range of 785-790 points and we expect the benchmark to rebound when it hits that range,” the report said.

On the Hanoi Stock Exchange, the HNX Index dipped 0.91 percent to end at 106.53 points. More than 52 million shares were traded on the northern market, worth 581.4 billion VND.

Over 11.32 billion shares traded on HNX in nine months

As many as 379 companies have their shares listed on the Hanoi Stock Exchange (HNX) in the first nine months of the year with more than 11.32 billion stocks worth 113.4 trillion VND (5 billion USD).

In the nine-month period, 55 million shares were traded in a trading session on average  on the northern bourse with a average value of 587 billion VND (25.8 million USD) per session, up 15 percent and 6.7 percent year-on-year, respectively.

The HNX-Index stood at 107.66 points at the end of the September 29 session, up 3.5 percent from one month ago.

The HNX’s market capitalisation value was over 196.11 trillion VND (8.63 billion USD), an 2.9 percent increase from the previous month.

In September, 14 companies began offering their shares on the Unlisted Public Company (UPCoM), raising the total number of enterprises trading on the market to 635. UPCoM’s market capitalization value was estimated at 499.77 trillion VND (22 billion USD). 

The UPCoM-Index reached 54.39 points on September 29, decreasing 0.1 percent from the end of August.

During the January-September period, 10.6 million shares were traded in a trading session on average with a total value of 187 billion VND (8.23 million USD) per session, up 27 percent and 54 percent, respectively.

A total 440.94 million shares in the HNX30 group were traded at 7.09 trillion VND (311.9 million USD) in the nine-month period, accounting for 38.49 percent of traded amount and 53.58 percent of transaction value of the market.-

Lao Cai to host 17th Vietnam-China International Trade Fair

The 17th Vietnam-China International Trade Fair will take place in the north-western border province of Lao Cai from November 10-15 under the theme of “Integration – Cooperation for Mutual Development”.

The annual event is rotationally held by Vietnam’s Lao Cai province and Hekou district of China’s Yunnan province as part of the national trade promotion programme 2017.

Deputy Director of the provincial Department of Industry and Trade Nguyen Truong Giang, who is also deputy head of the organising board, said the fair will house 600-800 pavilions of 20 Vietnamese and Chinese cities and provinces.

Businesses from Taiwan, the Republic of Korea, and Thailand will also showcase their products at 66 booths, he added.

A wide range of products will be offered for consumers, focusing on the fields of agro-forestry-aquatic products, medicines, equipment and machinery, construction and construction materials, electricity, electronics and information technology, food and beverages, home appliances, healthcare products and services and handicrafts.

During the trade fair, there will be a trade and economic talk between Lao Cai and Yunnan provinces, a trade conference between Vietnamese and Chinese enterprises, a tour of key tourism destinations in Lao Cai, and a reward ceremony for the design contest of Lao Cai souvenir products.

The fair aims to evaluate the economic and trade cooperation between Lao Cai and Yunnan and the construction of a cross-border economic cooperation area as well as creates an opportunity for the two sides’ businesses to exchange investment policies and sign economic contracts.

Programme promotes domestic goods production, consumption

The “Vietnamese use Vietnamese products” campaign has helped develop consumers’ purchasing habits towards local products after eight years of launching, said Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Do Thang Hai.

At the opening ceremony of the third “Vietnamese Goods Identification-Proud of Vietnamese Goods” programme in Hanoi on October 3, the Deputy Minister said numerous made-in-Vietnam products have convinced Vietnamese consumers.

The campaign has also promoted production, enhanced the reputation of local enterprises while contributing to applying measures to ensure stable production, maintaining economic development, society order amid adverse impacts of the world’s economic crisis.

Communication work continues being strengthened to enhance the awareness among consumers of using Vietnamese products, help enterprises improve their products’ competitiveness, and develop the connection between producers and distributors to bring products to remote and rural areas.

The Ministry continues working with other ministries, sectors, localities, and associations to strengthen supervision and monitoring of the market to ensure product quality and food safety.

The Ministry gives advice to the Government on the issuance of legal documents in order to protect Vietnamese products in the domestic market in line with international practices and commitments to the World Trade Organisation.

In addition to trade promotion events, the Ministry supports enterprises to bring their products to rural areas, industrial parks, processing zones and modern distribution channels.

The same day, numerous activities in response to the programme were conducted in Ho Chi Minh City, Hai Phong port city, Bac Ninh.

Belgian brewer to expand production in Binh Duong

Brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev) is considering a 7 million USD investment in expanding production in its two factories in Vietnam, the firm’s Vice President for Asia Pacific South Ken Hitchcock said in a meeting with leader of southern Binh Duong province on October 3.

AB InBev plans to reduce water consumption and increase use of green energy, as part of its goal to protect environment towards sustainable development, Hitchcock told Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Tran Thanh Liem at the meeting. 

The Belgian company sets to have all of its brewers worldwide use clean energy by 2025, and to this end, it will equip the two breweries in Vietnam with new power facilities, he added.

Welcoming AB InBev’s plan, Chairman Liem said its move fits the province’s development targets and investment policies that facilitate projects in hi-tech, environmentally-friendly and value-added industries and services.

He later updated his guest on the province’s economic development, saying Binh Duong remains on the top of Vietnam’s attractive investment destinations with 2 billion USD worth of foreign direct investment poured into the province this year.

He hoped that the firm would expand production and introduce foreign investors to do business in the province.

HCM City urged to achieve higher growth by year-end

Ho Chi Minh City needs to continue mobilising all resources to achieve sustainable growth in productivity, quality, efficiency and competitiveness for the rest of the year, a local official has said.

Speaking at a conference of the HCM City Party Committee on October 3, its secretary Nguyen Thien Nhan said that HCM City continued playing a leading role as the country’s socio-economic, cultural, education, and science and technology hub. 

He urged the city to closely follow the Party’s resolutions and State strategies in implementing its action plans and to take serious measures to achieve its targets.

The meeting discussed a range of socio-economic issues in the first nine months as well as the public investment plan for 2017-2020.

It also focused on assessment of major infrastructure projects that are expected to reduce congestion as well as administrative reform and Party resolutions regarding Party building work, among others.

Tran Vinh Tuyen, vice chairman of the city People’s Committee, reported on socio-economic development in the first nine months, as well as tasks and solutions needed to be carried out for the rest of the year.

According to Tuyen, the city’s Gross Regional Domestic Product (GRDP) reached 775.874 trillion VND (34.14 billion USD) or 7.97 percent in the first nine months, compared to 7.76 percent in the same period last year.

Total export turnover of the city reached more than 26.3 billion USD, a rise of 15.7 percent over the same period last year, while import turnover reached 31.58 billion USD, up 16.9 percent over the same period last year, Tuyen said.

The number of international visitors to the city reached 4.2 million, a rise of 16 percent compared to the same period last year or 70 percent of the year’s target of 6 million, he added.

Speaking at the closing session, Nhan, who is also a Politburo member, spoke highly of the city’s efforts in socio-economic development in the first nine months, which delivered outstanding results, including economic growth of 7.97 percent.

However, the city’s economy also had to deal with long-term constraints, as the business environment and competitiveness had not seen much improvement, Nhan said.

In addition, the city should continue implementing innovative programmes set by city authorities.

Nhan also urged the city to continue its emphasis on a one-stop shop for issuance of certificates for investment registration and business registration, and study one-stop mechanisms for construction permits.

Regarding the mid-term investment plan, the city has achieved certain results, especially for various forms of capital mobilisation, according to Nhan.  

However, for the 2016-2020 period, the city needs to generate investment and mobilise resources for public investment and create a favourable, effective investment environment.

In addition, secretary Nhan emphasised the need to improve infrastructure planning for the city, as most of the plans no longer meet the current situation. The plans must ensure efficiency, with a particular focus on transportation, water supply and drainage, waste treatment, and river bank erosion, he said.

Optimal conditions pledged for ADB-funded urban project in Thua Thien-Hue

Vice Chairman of the People’s Committee of the central province of Thua Thien-Hue Nguyen Van Phuong received a working group from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) on October 3, during which he pledged that the province will create optimal conditions for a ADB-funded resilient and sustainable urban development project.

The project aims to help the Ministry of Construction complete a strategy for national urban development, while supporting the realisation of national targets on urban system development through action plans on urban development.

It also gives guidelines for improving national urban planning in tandem with climate change response, while applying pilot models and action plans for climate change adaption for some localities.

In Thua Thien-Hue, the group asked for the province’s support in site surveying and data collection for the project.

Phuong lauded the objectives of the project and promised to provide all necessary information to the group.

He also expressed his hope that the group will help the province tackle problems in traffic, climate change warning, as well as preserving and promoting heritage.

The four-year project was approved at a cost of 2.755 million USD.

Can Tho attracts Japanese investment

The third Vietnam-Japan trade and cultural exchange programme and fifth annual Mekong Delta investment forum will be held in Can Tho city in October and November to lure more investment in trade and services from Japanese businesses.

The information was announced at a press conference on October 3 held by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI)’s chapter in Can Tho and the municipal People’s Committee.

Deputy Director of the VCCI chapter Nguyen Phuong Lam said the trade and cultural exchange programme will take place from November 3-5 and feature 120 pavilions.

The Japanese national tourism promotion centre is also expected to join the event to increase tourism cooperation with the Mekong Delta.

Nearly 40 art and cultural performances will be staged during the programme.
A conference calling for investment in agriculture and another on Asian culture and trade will be held during the programme with the engagement of about 40 Japanese businesses.

Meanwhile, the fifth Mekong Delta investment forum (MekongInvest 2017), due to be held on October 25, aims to draw investment in infrastructure development, trade services, restaurants and hotels, and entertainment parks.

In the first six months of 2017, the Mekong Delta welcomed nearly 21 million visitors and grossed more than 6.5 trillion VND (286 million USD) in tourism revenue, year-on-year rises of 17 percent and 22 percent respectively.

At MekongInvest 2017, thirteen cities and provinces of the delta will invite investment in 24 tourism development projects worth 7.8 trillion VND (343.2 million USD) and 33 real estate projects worth 176 trillion VND (7.74 billion USD).

As of August 2017, a total of 1,398 foreign direct investment projects worth 19.85 billion USD had entered the Mekong Delta, including 159 projects from Japan worth 2.1 billion USD, mainly in manufacturing, processing, coal, science-technology, and waste treatment.

Fair competition key to economic progress: forum

Vietnamese policymakers and businesses should foster fair competition to drive social development and ensure a socialist-oriented market economy, an expert said.

Nguyen Dinh Cung, Director of the Central Institute for Economic Management (CIEM), said at a forum on national competition policy in Hanoi on October 3 that there could be no market economy without competition.

He said the economy would benefit from a domino effect generated by competition, because productivity would improve, at enterprises and among workers.

The greater the level of competition, the higher the level of market development, Cung said.

Dau Anh Tuan, Director of the Legal Department of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), noted that when it comes to business competition, State agencies seem to be suffering from a ‘management addiction.’

Tuan said the prevalence of many licenses and business conditions that are time consuming, lack transparency, suffer from irregular implementation and interfere with a business’s autonomy would slow down economic progress.

"Regulations that are too strict will also impede enterprises from competing freely," he added.

Cung suggested that the Law on Competition be amended in order to ensure fair competition, and related laws and policies adjusted to boost competition levels by eliminating barriers, discrimination, and other unreasonable business conditions.

“It is a general mentality that everyone wants their business or industry to be monopolistic, but it is precisely this way of thinking that holds back national progress. We have to control all kinds of unfair competition, including monopolistic tendencies,’ he said.

Other experts at the forum agreed that more concrete action was needed to remove business licence barriers causing harm to the enterprise community.

There should be a mechanism to supervise and deal with agencies tasked by the Government with abolishing business conditions and to supervise implementation of newly improved license regimes, they said

Phan Duc Hieu, Deputy Director of CIEM, believed that with an enabling Competition Law, anti-competitive behaviour would soon be dealt with effectively, ensuring fair competition,

A new draft amendment to the 2005 Competition Law stipulates that the national competition authority would be the advisory body assisting the Minister of Industry and Trade (MoIT) in State management of competition, organising investigations and other tasks.

The draft amendments to the Competition Law are being seen as a new approach that clarifies the nature of and impacts on the nature of business competition.

However, Cung felt the role of the competition authority in the draft law was almost absent.

‘It is necessary to add this function and to task the competition authority with ensuring regulatory control over any malpractice that impedes or distorts fair market competition,’ he said.

Trinh Anh Tuan, Deputy Director- General of the Vietnam Competition Authority under the MoIT, said the 2005 Competition Law was an important legal document regulating the competitive relationship between businesses in the market.

It would continue to be an important legal corridor for creating and maintaining a healthy, equal business environment, and for creating favourable conditions for national economic development, effectively allocating social resources and ensuring the interests of consumers, he said.

The revised Law on Competition is being finalised by the MoIT and will be submitted to the National Assembly for comments at its fourth session later this month.

As of 2016, after 12 years of enforcement of the Law on Competition, eight cases of anti-competitive behaviour had been dealt with and fines and processing fees of nearly 5.5 billion VND (245,000 USD) imposed in six cases.

During this period, there were over 330 complaints from consumers and businesses, 182 of which were investigated. Advertising accounted for 62 percent of unhealthy competition, followed by illegal multi-level sales at 17 percent.

The MoIT handled 32 cases related to unfair hoarding involving 189 related businesses.

The ministry also actively investigated many important sensitive sectors in the economy in order to enhance its ability to detect micro signs of breaching the Competition Law.

A total of 87 pre-litigation investigations were conducted during the 12 years.

Timely handling of trans-boundary anti-competitive behaviour contributed to stability in the domestic economy, especially in key economic sectors, said Hieu.

Experts, researchers, and business representatives attending the forum presented and proposed policy measures to improve market development, competitiveness and productivity in the country.

The measures included plans to restructure State-owned enterprises towards promoting competition, access to core infrastructure, and proper use of agricultural land.

The forum was an opportunity for business professionals, policymakers and economists to exchange views and discuss solutions to enhance the national competitive landscape. It was organised by CIEM in collaboration with the German Development Cooperation (GIZ).

HCM City urged to achieve higher growth by year-end

Ho Chi Minh City needs to continue mobilising all resources to achieve sustainable growth in productivity, quality, efficiency and competitiveness for the rest of the year, a local official has said.

Speaking at a conference of the HCM City Party Committee on October 3, its secretary Nguyen Thien Nhan said that HCM City continued playing a leading role as the country’s socio-economic, cultural, education, and science and technology hub. 

He urged the city to closely follow the Party’s resolutions and State strategies in implementing its action plans and to take serious measures to achieve its targets.

The meeting discussed a range of socio-economic issues in the first nine months as well as the public investment plan for 2017-2020.

It also focused on assessment of major infrastructure projects that are expected to reduce congestion as well as administrative reform and Party resolutions regarding Party building work, among others.

Tran Vinh Tuyen, vice chairman of the city People’s Committee, reported on socio-economic development in the first nine months, as well as tasks and solutions needed to be carried out for the rest of the year.

According to Tuyen, the city’s Gross Regional Domestic Product (GRDP) reached 775.874 trillion VND (34.14 billion USD) or 7.97 percent in the first nine months, compared to 7.76 percent in the same period last year.

Total export turnover of the city reached more than 26.3 billion USD, a rise of 15.7 percent over the same period last year, while import turnover reached 31.58 billion USD, up 16.9 percent over the same period last year, Tuyen said.

The number of international visitors to the city reached 4.2 million, a rise of 16 percent compared to the same period last year or 70 percent of the year’s target of 6 million, he added.

Speaking at the closing session, Nhan, who is also a Politburo member, spoke highly of the city’s efforts in socio-economic development in the first nine months, which delivered outstanding results, including economic growth of 7.97 percent.

However, the city’s economy also had to deal with long-term constraints, as the business environment and competitiveness had not seen much improvement, Nhan said.

In addition, the city should continue implementing innovative programmes set by city authorities.

Nhan also urged the city to continue its emphasis on a one-stop shop for issuance of certificates for investment registration and business registration, and study one-stop mechanisms for construction permits.

Regarding the mid-term investment plan, the city has achieved certain results, especially for various forms of capital mobilisation, according to Nhan.  

However, for the 2016-2020 period, the city needs to generate investment and mobilise resources for public investment and create a favourable, effective investment environment.

In addition, secretary Nhan emphasised the need to improve infrastructure planning for the city, as most of the plans no longer meet the current situation. The plans must ensure efficiency, with a particular focus on transportation, water supply and drainage, waste treatment, and river bank erosion, he said.

Vietsovpetro posts gas output of 50 billion cu.m
     
Vietsovpetro, a giant oil and gas joint venture, posted gas output of 50 billion cu.m after 30 years of operation on Sunday.

Of these, 180 billion cu.m of gas was provided through oil extraction using gas compression technology (gaslift) at Bach Ho-Rong, Tho Trang and Nam Rong-Doi Moi oilfields.

The remaining 32 billion cu. m of gas was compressed by Vietsovpetro ashore, providing for gas and gas industry clusters, such as Phu My Fertilizer Plant, Nhon Trach 1, 2, 3, Ba Ria Power Plant.

Vietsovpetro and members of the Viet Nam National Oil and Gas Group (PetroVietnam) have improved the effectiveness of oil exploitation and usage, contributing to the national energy security.

It has operated gas exploitation, disposal and safe and effective compression, as well as collected all the associated gas at oilfields in the Mekong basin and a part of Nam Con Son basin.

The first gas flow from White Tiger oil field was taken to shore on May 3, 1995. The total compressed air reached one billion cu.m on May 15, 1998. The total compressed air was 20 billion cu.m on March 25, 2008, then up to 30 billion cu.m on October 25, 2011. The total output was 45 billion cu.m on April 15, 2015.

Vietsovpetro was Viet Nam’s first international joint venture to explore oil on the continental shelf and was founded by State-owned Viet Nam Oil and Gas Corporation and Russia’s Zarubezhneft.

Programme promotes domestic goods production, consumption
     
The ‘Vietnamese use Vietnamese products’ campaign has helped encourage consumers to purchase local products since it began eight years ago, said Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Do Thang Hai. 

At the opening ceremony of the third “Vietnamese Goods Identification - Proud of Vietnamese Goods” programme in Ha Noi on Tuesday, Hai said many made-in-Viet Nam products had become popular among local consumers. 

The campaign also promoted production, enhanced the reputation of local enterprises, helped ensure stable production and maintained economic development.

Communication work also helped enhance awareness among consumers of using Vietnamese products, supported enterprises to improve their products’ competitiveness, and developed links between producers and distributors to bring products to remote and rural areas. 

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Industry and Trade worked with other ministries, sectors, localities, and associations to monitor the market to ensure product quality and food safety. 

It also advised the Government on the issuance of legal documents to protect Vietnamese products in the domestic market in line with international practices and commitments to the World Trade Organisation. 

In addition to trade promotion events, the ministry enabled enterprises to bring their products to rural areas, industrial parks, processing zones and use modern distribution channels. 

Within the framework of the programme, a game show entitled ‘Students identify Vietnamese goods’ was held on the same day with the participation of students from five universities.

Other provinces and cities nationwide also held activities to support the programme.

The programme has been held annually across Viet Nam, aiming to develop local market links to the ‘Vietnamese people use Vietnamese goods’ campaign.

HDBank opens branch in south central province
     
The HCM City Development Joint Stock Commercial Bank (HDBank) opened a new branch in Tuy Hoa in the south-central province of Phu Yen on September 29, expanding its network to 234 branches.

On the occasion the bank donated VND80 million (US$3,500) for building houses for two poor local families.

HDBank is investing heavily in technology to improve its service and increase convenience and safety for customers.

One of the technologies it is adopting is fingerprint authentication for cash withdrawal and money transfer at the bank to eliminate the risk of forged signatures and fake IDs.

HDBank is one of the largest lenders in the country with total assets of more than VND152 trillion (US$6.6 billion). 

Gemadept sells majority stake in two subsidiary firms
     
Gemadept Corporation (GMD) has completed the transfer of capital in its two subsidiary firms to Korean CJ Logistics Corporation, the Vietnamese company has announced.

In a filing with the HCM Stock Exchange on Tuesday, Gemadept said it sold a 50.9 per cent stake in Gemadept Shipping Holding Co Ltd and 50.9 per cent of its shares in Gemadept Logistics Holding Co Ltd to CJ Logistics on October 1.

After the sales, its holdings in these two companies shrank to 49.1 per cent each.

This divestment is part of Gemadept’s restructuring plan, approved at its annual shareholders’ meeting in May, following which Gemadept will sell capital of its affiliate companies to strategic partners.

Proceeds from divestments will be used to pay dividends to shareholders.

Meanwhile, CJ Logistics, previously known as CJ Korea Express Corp, is looking for opportunities to acquire logistics firms in Southeast Asia, aiming to be one of five largest logistics firms globally. In the past two years, it has purchased major stakes in logistics firms in Malaysia, China, Dubai and India.

Gemadept’s CEO Do Van Minh said the company would pay a special dividend rate of 85 per cent this year if it completed the share sales in Gemadept Shipping and Gemadept Logistics.

The value of the deals has not been disclosed, but HCM Securities Co (HSC) has estimated that a 51 per cent stake in these two companies is valued around US$125 million altogether.

After paying 85-per-cent dividends, HSC estimated Gemadept could earn cumulative earnings of VND2.4 trillion ($105.7 million) from the two divestments.

The capital transfers in the two firms do not include Gemadept’s stakes in seven other companies, including Saigon Cargo Service Corp (SCSC), K Line-Gemadept Logistics Co Ltd (KGL), Lien uoc Vietnam Transport Co Ltd (YJC), OOCL Logistics, ISS-Gemadept, VNM General Transportation Service Co Ltd and Pacific Shipping Agency Co Ltd, Gemadept said.

In a separate filing to the HCM Stock Exchange, Gemadept said it transferred 15 per cent of its capital in CJ Vietnam to CJ O Shopping Co Ltd.

Gemadept is considered Viet Nam’s biggest logistics firm with consolidated revenues of VND3.74 trillion in 2016, of which 57 per cent came from logistics and 43 per cent from port services.

In the second half of this year, Gemadept reported net revenues of VND1.87 trillion, up 3.7 per cent year-on-year, while its net profit reached VND196 billion, up 4.3 per cent year-on-year.

Canon Expo to open in HCM City
     
Canon Marketing Vietnam on Tuesday announced that imaging products, solutions and technologies will be showcased at its biggest show, Canon Expo 2017, in HCM City from October 26-29.

Many of them, including EOS sensors of up to 120MP and 250MP resolution, 3D product printers, and 4K color monitors will be showcased for the first time in Viet Nam.

Visitors will be free to explore the Canon world, with discounts of up to 49 per cent on offer for products on display. In addition, they will have the opportunity to have Canon cameras and lenses checked free of charge, and attend workshops with professional photographers.

Besides the products on display, there will be bikini and body-paint photo shoots, and free eye examinations with Canon’s top-of-the-line refractometer and ophthalmoscope.

“Canon has spent 15 years impressing Viet Nam with its full range of imaging solutions, ranging from cameras to printers to photocopiers, as well as various enterprise solutions, including cost management and data security,” said Mr. Hiroshi Yokota, CEO of Canon Marketing Vietnam.

“We have never stopped innovating, researching and expanding new product lines to bring our customers the best possible imaging experience. Canon EXPO will be showcasing our full range, and offering a load of surprises to our personal and enterprise customers.”

In addition to Canon EXPO, the Canon’s 12th Canon PhotoMarathon will be back.

With a record total prize pool of VND1.4 billion (US$61,400), the contest annually attracts close to 10,000 participants.

In addition to prizes such as cameras and printers worth tens of millions of Vietnamese dong, this year, the winner will receive sponsorship to compete at the Canon PhotoMarathon Asia Championship 2018 with 16 competitors from around the region, vying to win more prizes worth up to $5,000.

The expo and the photo marathon will be held at Hoa Lu Stadium in District 1 in HCM City. 

Sóc Trăng to host business trade link conference

Representatives of businesses from across Việt Nam will gather at the “2017 Trade Links Conference VACOD - Sóc Trăng” in the southern province of Sóc Trăng on October 14 and 15.

The two-day event, themed “Promoting corporate strength in the regional linkage”, is organised by the Việt Nam Association for Consumer Development (VACOD) in collaboration with Sóc Trăng Provincial People’s Committee at the Sóc Trăng Cultural Centre, to celebrate the 13th anniversary of Vietnamese Entrepreneurs Day, which falls on October 13.

The event is expected to welcome more than 300 delegates representing ministries, organisations and business associations from 11 provinces and cities, and businessmen from the north, central and south regions.

The event will include a business experience exchange themed “Connecting to succeed”, discussions between firms on solutions to promote the strength of enterprises in the Mekong Delta and discussions on trade exchange between local and foreign businesses. 

On the sidelines of the conference, there will also be exhibitions of commodities and specialities and services of Sóc Trăng and other neighbouring provinces and cities, introducing their development potential, tourist sites and historical relics.

Lê Thành Thanh, deputy director of Sóc Trăng’s Department of Industry and Trade, said the event is expected to have 16 booths, four of which will be managed by Sóc Trăng Province and 12 others by other provinces and cities.

Sóc Trăng’s booths will showcase provincial cuisine like bánh pía, a Vietnamese cake filled with durian, shredded lard, salted egg yolk, sweetened bean paste and coconut, Thanh said.

The conference is set to be an opportunity for businessmen in the three regions to exchange experiences, seek partners, and establish regional links across the country, he added.

The event is taking place in Sóc Trăng province for the first time, providing opportunities for the province to call for investment and learn the needs and desires of enterprises that invest in the province, Thanh said.

Chairman of Sóc Trăng Provincial People’s Committee Trần Văn Chuyên said that the province is urgently preparing for the event, aiming to showcase commodities to introduce its strengths, he said.

Ceramics exports regain growth

Ceramics exports began rising in August after two consecutive months seeing a decline, according to the General Department of Vietnam Customs.

The export revenue hit US$40.9 million in August (up 17.3% compared to July), bringing the total value in the first eight months of this year to US$299.4 million, up 6.63% against the same period last year.

Japan is the key consumer of Vietnam ceramic products with US$48.1 million (up 16%), trailed by the US with US$42.5 million (up 35.01%), and Taiwan with US$31.6 million (down 8.22%). Meanwhile, the Vietnam products have also been shipped to Cambodia, the Republic of Korea, the Netherlands and the Philippines.

In general, 67.7% of export markets enjoyed growth in the period, particularly Hong Kong and Iraq saw the highest growth of 116.13% and 113.64%, respectively.

Vietnam ranks 8th among world furniture manufacturers

Vietnam currently ranks eighth among furniture producers in the world, accounting for 2% of global production, according to a survey conducted by Italian Centre for Industrial Studies (CSIL).

China is the world’s largest producer of furniture, followed by the US, Germany, Italy, India, Poland and Japan. The country is also the biggest exporter. However, its exports dropped last year while Vietnam obtained the highest export growth in the world.

CSIL reported that global furniture production value was around US$420 billion and the US, Germany, the UK, France and Canada are major importers.

Isuzu Vietnam Auto Care Centre rolls into service

Isuzu Vietnam, part of Japanese automotive giant Isuzu Motors, officially inaugurated Isuzu Vietnam Auto Car Centre (IAC) on September 29 at Tan Phu Trung Industrial Zone in Ho Chi Minh City’s Cu Chi district.

After six-month intensive construction that kicked off on March 23, 2017, IAC which is located at lot B6-6, Block B6, Road D2 in Tan Phu Trung IZ, has completed construction and is slated to commence operation from this month.

IAC is designated to handle three core functions: a training base of repair and maintenance skills for truck and pickup lines for Isuzu agent technicians; a warehouse centre where genuine components and parts are kept in a big volume to meet burgeoning market demands; and providing support to Isuzu sales agents in major overhauls going beyond the agents’ capacity.

Isuzu Vietnam has been developing by leaps and bounds in the Vietnamese market in recent years, attesting through its strong investment commitments.

Besides expanding the agent network and promoting commercial and family-oriented vehicle lines, the company has been constantly trying for perfection in the components and after-sales service aspect.

In addition, with the commitment of Northwest Saigon City Development Corporation (SCD) - the developer of Tan Phu Trung IZ in providing utmost support to the investors, IAC promises to be Isuzu’s strategic step in satisfying Vietnamese customers’ demands.

Isuzu Vietnam is a joint venture operating in assembling and distributing vehicles with the brand Isuzu, the world leading brand for commercial vehicles and diesel engines.

The company chose Tan Phu Trung IZ as the location for its auto care centre due to the latter’s convenient location, smart planning and investment incentives that have made the IZ very appealing to both domestic and foreign investors.

Some investors withdraw from BOT transport projects

Some investors developing national highway upgrade projects under the build-operate-transfer (BOT) format have asked to withdraw from these projects, while the Ministry of Transport also announced the BOT formal from now on will only apply to projects to develop new roads.

In late September, 36 Corporation under the Ministry of Defense sent a document to the Ministry of Transport seeking to withdraw from phase two of the BOT project to upgrade a 55.7-kilometer section of National Highway 19 from Binh Dinh Province to Gia Lai Province costing an estimated VND391 billion.

Phase one of the project, which cost nearly VND1.4 trillion, was completed in 2016, and the investor has collected tolls on the route from June 2016. 

There are several reasons for the withdrawal. 36 Corporation said it has been incapable of solving certain problems during over one year implementing the project.

In fact, the Ministry of Planning and Investment has not issued the investment certificate for the project. Therefore, 36 Corporation has been unable to borrow money from the Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam (BIDV) to finance the project.

Besides, the investor’s roadmap for toll hike has not been approved while the number of vehicles traveling on the route is deemed low, making the project unviable financially.

According to the initial plan, the investor should be allowed to collect tolls on the route in 18 years and five months. However, the State Audit Office of Vietnam later proposed shortening the toll collection period to 10 years and 10 months.

With all of the above problems, 36 Corporation said the project would be unprofitable and proposed suspending the project.

Notably, the corporation has implemented some components on the project. However, the Ministry of Transport said the corporation has not been granted an investment certificate, so it will not be reimbursed for these work items.

Meanwhile, some other BOT transport projects, including the projects of upgrading national highways 22 and 62, are going to be suspended, possibly due to recent protests of drivers and transport enterprises.

Deputy Minister of Transport Nguyen Ngoc Dong has confirmed the imminent suspension, adding that only projects to build new roads will be allowed to develop under BOT format from now on.

In the past few months, public protests against BOT projects have been strong. Drivers have used small change money to pay toll fees at several tollgates, causing severe traffic congestions, as they said the tollgates have been installed at wrong places by the investors to maximize toll collections.

Drivers and transport enterprises have demanded that such tollgates be dismantled, or relocated to roads developed under the BOT format. These include a tollgate on National Highway 1A in Cai Lay Town in Tien Giang Province, another tollgate also on National Highway 1A in Dong Nai Province, and two on National Highway 5 in the North.

Cathay Pacific adds more flights to Spain, Tel Aviv

Cathay Pacific will increase the number of flights to Barcelona, Spain on its peak seasonal routes to a year-round service.

The service will start on April 15 next year, with three weekly services from Hong Kong. Beginning on July 1, it will offer flights four times weekly, according to the carrier.

The new flights, which will be on Airbus A350-900 aircraft, will complement Cathay Pacific’s existing four-times weekly service to Madrid which will increase to five times a week from October 29.

With the new flight schedules, the airline will provide more non-stop flights to Spain from Asia than any other carrier.

Ronald Lam, Cathay Pacific’s director of commercial and cargo, explained that the popularity of the seasonal route was pivotal in the decision to make Barcelona a year-round destination.

“Demand on the route has exceeded expectations and customer feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Growing our reach to destinations not otherwise served from Hong Kong enables us to capture new sources of revenue and solidifies the city’s status as Asia’s largest international hub,” he said.

The company also announced additional frequencies between the two cities of  Tel Aviv and Hong Kong from next summer. Launched in March 2017 as a four-times-weekly operation, the Airbus A350-900 route will start six times a week on March 25, increasing to daily service in October and November.

Meanwhile, Cathay Pacific’s regional carrier Cathay Dragon will be increasing the frequency of its services between Hong Kong and Fukuoka, Japan from December 18 this year.

The airline will initially operate an additional weekly flight to Japan’s fifth largest city, bringing the total number of flights per week to eight, increasing to 11 flights per week between January 14 and March 24 next year. 

North Korea closes restaurants in Vietnam

Two of three North Korean restaurants in Vietnam have been closed due to alleged losses. 

The Ryu Gyong Restaurant on Le Quy Don Street in HCM City's District 3 last week announced that they temporarily closed for upgrades but local people said that they would not reopen as the facility had been sold as the restaurant was failing to attract customers.

Ryu Gyong opened in 2014 with 15 North Korean staff.

Earlier this year, a North Korean restaurant in the central city of Danang also stopped operation in February.

Although one restaurant run by North Korean people is still operating in Hanoi, it is said to be also facing losses while South Korean restaurants are doing well in Vietnam.

The business difficulties at North Korean restaurants in foreign countries have come together with more sanctions from the international community which have largely affected the country's foreign revenues.

Statistics from the South Korea government last year showed that 30 out of 130 North Korean restaurants in 12 countries had been closed as of July 2016 following tighter sanctions imposed by the international community since March, according to the Yonhap Newspaper.

Despite having a good relationship with North Korean government, the Vietnamese government has still voiced deep concerns about North Korea’s recent ballistic missile tests and launching which seriously violated UN Security Council resolutions and increased tension in the region.

HCM City microfinance fund for poor gets upgrade
     
HCM City’s Capital Aid Fund for Employment of the Poor was on Sunday renamed the Capital Aid for Employment of the Poor MicroFinance Institution Ltd (CEP) and brought under the Law On Credit Institutions.

"The upgrade is very important for us in promoting our activities to serve poor workers in southern provinces," Nguyen Thi Hong Van, general director of the fund, said.

In 1991 the HCM City Confederation of Labour established the Capital Aid Fund for Employment of the Poor based on the Bangladesh Grameen model to create jobs for unemployed and self-employed workers in the city and eight provinces in the south-east and the Mekong Delta.

Its mission is to work with, and for, the poor and poorest to realise sustained improvements in well-being, through the provision of financial and complementary non-financial services in an efficient and sustainable manner.

It seeks to provide microcredit for starting and developing small businesses, reduce poverty by creating income generating activities among the poor to enable a gradual increase in well-being, involve the poor in building solidarity, teamwork, shared responsibilities and a sense of community in maintaining a clean environment and healthy social conditions and expand microfinance to reach as many poor as possible.

"The most challenge is how to mobilise capital because this is a non-profit institution and we hope HCM City authorities will provide more medium-term loans to the fund," Bui Van Cuong, chairman of the Viet Nam General Confederation of Labour, said.

Tran Vinh Tuyen, deputy chairman of the HCM City People’s Committee, said: "HCM City will provide every support to the CEP and hope the institution continues with its great accomplishments in supporting poor workers."

By 2016 the fund had gradually expanded its outreach to serve 330,000 people through 34 branches in HCM City and the provinces of Ben Tre, Binh Duong, Dong Nai, Dong Thap, Long An, Tay Ninh, Tien Giang, and Vinh Long with total loans of around VND3 trillion (US$130 million). 

Start Jerusalem 2017: Drop Deck wins VN challenge
     
The final round of the contest in Viet Nam took place in Ha Noi on Sunday with dramatic competition among the six best teams from across the country.

Following nearly two months of competition, the six best teams - Drop Deck, Finsify, Repoto and Putatu, as well as Abby Card and SafeSai - went into the final round.

Along with Drop Deck, the other five teams also won similar awards and certification from the competition.

The Embassy of Israel in Viet Nam along with the National Agency for Technology Entrepreneurship and Commercialisation Development under the Ministry of Science and Technology and the Business Studies and Assistance Centre organised the contest.

Start Jerusalem is a global competition organised by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Jerusalem Development Authority, which brings together startups from different countries to compete for the opportunity to take part in a five-day innovation experience in Jerusalem, Israel -- one of the world’s leading tech ecosystems.

The startup competition was organised to find a winner for Start Jerusalem 2017, which takes place in November.

Israeli Ambassador Nadav Eshcar said this year’s teams surprised him with their good quality and useful products.

The contest affirmed the support of the Israeli government and its startup community for Vietnamese startups.

Vouchers cannot be converted into cash.

Việt Nam has become the first country allowed to export star-apple fruit to the United States. The breakthrough follows 10 years of negotiations.

This follows a report sent by the US Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to the Việt Nam Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s Plant Protection Department.

The breakthrough was based on the findings of a pest-risk analysis and public reviews and comments that found the fruit could be safely exported into the US.

Together with litchi, longan, rambutan and dragon fruit, star-apples are the fifth Vietnamese fruit allowed into the American market.

The requirements for entry are similar to quarantine for the other fruits, including the growing area. The shipments are subject to inspection upon arrival.

The US requires mandatory pest control for eight pests, mainly fruit flies and aphids.

In addition, the star-apples must meet requirements for the importation of vegetables and fruits into the US market in accordance with the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR)’s Article 319.56-3.

Each batch of fruit must have a plant quarantine certificate issued by Việt Nam Plant Protection Department. 

Star-apples are highly valued by US importers for their quality.

Preliminary statistics show that Việt Nam has about 5,000 hectares of star apples, mainly in the Mekong Delta provinces of Tiền Giang (3,100ha) and Cần Thơ (1,200ha).

Fruit productivity is about 18-22 tonnes per hectare. Total annual output is more than 60 thousand tonnes. Until now, most of the fruit has been either eaten locally or exported to China and ASEAN nations.

The successful export of the fruit to the US market opens up great opportunities to develop growing areas.

Vietsovpetro posts gas output of 50 billion cu.m

Vietsovpetro, a giant oil and gas joint venture, posted gas output of 50 billion cu.m after 30 years of operation on Sunday.

Of these, 180 billion cu.m of gas was provided through oil extraction using gas compression technology (gaslift) at Bạch Hổ-Rồng, Thỏ Trắng and Nam Rồng-Đồi Mồi oilfields.

The remaining 32 billion cu. m of gas was compressed by Vietsovpetro ashore, providing for gas and gas industry clusters, such as Phú Mỹ Fertilizer Plant, Nhơn Trạch 1, 2, 3, Bà Rịa Power Plant.

Vietsovpetro and members of the Việt Nam National Oil and Gas Group (PetroVietnam) have improved the effectiveness of oil exploitation and usage, contributing to the national energy security.

It has operated gas exploitation, disposal and safe and effective compression, as well as collected all the associated gas at oilfields in the Mekong basin and a part of Nam Côn Sơn basin.

The first gas flow from White Tiger oil field was taken to shore on May 3, 1995. The total compressed air reached one billion cu.m on May 15, 1998. The total compressed air was 20 billion cu.m on March 25, 2008, then up to 30 billion cu.m on October 25, 2011. The total output was 45 billion cu.m on April 15, 2015.

Vietsovpetro was Việt Nam’s first international joint venture to explore oil on the continental shelf and was founded by State-owned Việt Nam Oil and Gas Corporation and Russia’s Zarubezhneft.

Smart urban model applied at Quang Trung Software City

Quang Trung Software City (QTSC), the first and largest software park in Vietnam, has a total area of 43 hectares as originally designed. To date, QTSC has attracted around 150 information technology (IT) companies, with five of them employing more than 1,000 people. QTSC now has 20 office buildings, five IT training centers, four bank transaction offices, 20 parking lots, apartments for experts, dormitories, underground power lines and wastewater treatment system, a kindergarten, a healthcare center, an incubator, and a business support center, among others. The software park is home to about 20,000 workers and students.

International consulting group KPMG ranks QTSC third among eight technology parks in Asia based on indicators such as occupancy, incentive policy, and telecommunications infrastructure. QTSC is fourth in terms of size, efficiency of businesses, foreign direct investment (FDI) and human resource quality. All in all, QTSC has emerged as a technology park with outstanding incentives, and investors from a wide range of sectors and with sustainable growth.

In the development process, QTSC has faced a slew of challenges in maintaining the 24/7 readiness of infrastructure and security, and improving management and service quality to meet the rising demand of enterprises. The software city has been exploring ways to better management and catch up with global integration trends so that it can be comparable to technology parks elsewhere in the world.

QTSC has actively applied state-of-the-art technology to facilitate internal management since the beginning of 2016. The move is aimed at developing it into a smart city model with three main objectives: improving the quality of administration, raising the satisfaction of the internal community, and developing the brand of Quang Trung Software City.

Therefore, QTSC will focus on three steps in order to achieve these goals. The first is to build and implement IT applications for internal management, and support and serve the community on the digital platform. The second is to connect technology and data applications on the same platform. The last is to share, analyze and use data, as well as predict future scenarios to map out development policies. These steps will be simultaneously carried out and updated to produce immediate results.

So far, QTSC has achieved positive results such as:

- SMS application: shortening the time needed to inform customers from two days (equivalent to 2,880 minutes) to two minutes, and reducing the service fee from VND15,000 to VND3,000 per customer

- Digitalization of internal technical infrastructure

- Public lighting: saving 35% of electric power consumption

- Environment: well managing 11 wastewater parameters such as chemical oxygen demand (COD), biochemical oxygen demand (BOD), pH, total suspended solids (TSS), ammonium, nitrate, sulfur, phosphate, and total grease in real time, and instantly issue warnings whenever any parameter exceeds the permissible level.

- Internal traffic: bike sharing helps shorten travel time by three to seven minutes each commute.

- Internal safety and security: having detected number plates of four people who caused disturbance and handed them over to the local police station.

Based on these initial results, QTSC is striving to optimize existing apps and develop new ones, gradually integrate data and apps on the same platform, and build open platforms for third-party customers. The application of smart urban model at QTSC is a long-term process and is one of the primary objectives of turning QTSC into a leading software city in Asia.

Tien Giang likely to surpass export target

The Mekong Delta province of Tien Giang raked in 1.86 billion USD in the first nine months this year, up 25.4 percent annually and equivalent to 80 percent of the yearly target. 

With such momentum, the province is likely to surpass the export target of 2.35 billion USD, said Director of the provincial Department of Industry and Trade Ngo Van Tuan. 

Foreign-invested enterprises accounted for over 62 percent of the total local export while key local products such as apparel, footwear, handbag and bronze pipe made up 70 percent of total export.

Tuan said fisheries export topped 282 million USD in the nine-month period, marking a 45 percent increase year-on-year. Processed tra fish accounted for 90 percent of the total agro-fisheries shipments, mostly to European and American markets. 

During the period, the province shipped more than189,000 tonnes of rice abroad, earning 87.6 million USD, up 86 percent in volume and value. 

Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Le Van Huong said the locality has paid attention to administrative reform and business climate improvement, thereby facilitating business operations. 

Since early this year, the local authorities have held three dialogues with enterprises to acquire their feedback and promptly clear arising obstacles. 

Thanks to common efforts between local administration, sectors and firms, local farm produce export has progressed sustainably.

Transport connectivity between HCMC and southeastern provinces still weak

Weak transport connectivity between HCMC and southeastern provinces has led to a waste of potential, heard a conference last Friday.

According to the Port Authority of Inland Waterway Area No. 3 (PAIW 3), HCMC and southeastern provinces have failed to create a strong transport connectivity to make the most of their economic advantages and potentials.

Taking Binh Duong Province as an example, a representative of PAIW 3 said the province has numerous industrial zones and has the Saigon River crossing through, but most of its goods are transported to HCMC and other provinces by roads, causing overloading, congestions and high transport fees.

If the goods are transported by inland waterways, the cost could be reduced significantly. “Inland waterway systems in HCMC and southeastern provinces are underinvested,” he said.

A representative of the Vietnam Maritime Administration said transport systems of HCMC and southeastern provinces have not been developed synchronously and inland waterway systems are not capable of handling large ships. Besides, ports, wharfs and logistic services are underinvested.

The administration’s director Nguyen Xuan Sang said these localities have already had planning for a multi-modal transport system but the planning has not been implemented.

Although having numerous rivers and canals, HCMC and southeastern provinces have mainly relied on maritime and road transport. Therefore, they should invest more in inland waterways to create a uniform and multi-modal transport system for economic development.

Bui Xuan Cuong, director of the HCMC Department of Transport, said HCMC is striving to develop the inland waterway system by expanding river ports and opening more inland waterway routes connecting it with southeastern as well as southwestern provinces.

High-tech rate low at industrial zones in HCMC

Hi-technology production at processing and industrial zones has been still low, with less than ten out of thousands of operational enterprises obtaining hi-tech certificates, heard a dialogue held by the HCMC Export Processing and Industrial Zones Authority (HEPZA) last Friday.

Experts said HCMC used to take the lead in the development of processing and industrial zones for a long time, but the leading role has been on the downturn in recent years.

The city’s processing and industrial zones have less than 10 enterprises with hi-tech certificates granted, and their hi-tech rate has remained low at around 10%, according to Nguyen Van Kich, former consultant to the Minister of Planning and Investment.

HEPZA Director Nguyen Hoang Nang said the majority of projects at processing and industrial zones have small scales while the number of projects with advanced and value-added products accounts for a low proportion after 25 years of development.

Authorities of processing and industrial zones have paid attention to knowledge-intensive, high-tech and competitive industries since 2004, and have focused on four major industries and other supporting ones in line with the city’s guidelines. However, they have yet to attract many large-scale projects.

The quality of planning has not met the requirements for growth in a timely manner. Especially, zones have small scales and do not create infrastructure connectivity. They do not have enough available land for services and social welfare infrastructure projects.

Notably, infrastructure projects outside the zones have yet to be planned and built properly. Besides, the zones are mainly developed for a vast area of business sectors so they fail to establish links among enterprises at industrial parks.

HCMC has 17 operational processing and industrial zones, attracting more than 1,300 projects worth around US$10 billion and creating jobs for about 290,000 people. Their industrial products make up 40% of the city’s industrial export revenue.

HEPZA Director Nang stressed the major tasks for local processing and industrial zones are to gradually change existing zones into green, clean and hi-tech ones, and develop new industrial parks in line with hi-tech and supporting industries by 2025.

Trade deficit with South Korea skyrockets to US$23.3 billion

Although Vietnam’s trade deficit has been narrowed in recent months, but trade deficit with South Korea alone in the year to date surged a staggering 57.7% over the same period last year to US$23.3 billion.

According to data of Vietnam’s General Statistics Office, the country reported a trade surplus of US$400 million in September, helping reduce January-September trade deficit to US$442 million. This was a sharp decrease as trade deficit in January-July had exceeded US$3 billion.

The data shows that the foreign direct investment (FDI) sector posted a trade surplus of US$17.64 billion while the domestic sector posted a trade deficit of US$18.08 billion in the first nine months.

Notably, Vietnam suffered from a big trade deficit with South Korea.

Vietnam’s exports to Korea in the nine months totaled US$10.6 billion, increasing by 27.3% year on year, but imports from Korea amounted to US$33.9 billion, up a jaw-dropping 46.5% year-on-year, leading to a trade deficit of US$23.3 billion with the northeast Asian country.

Vietnam’s major products shipped to Korea included electronic products, computers and computer components (up 40.5% year-on-year), phones and phone parts (up 36.6%), and textiles and garments (up 6.1%).

On the other hand, the country mainly imported machinery, equipment, tools and other components (up 113.3% year-on-year) and electronic products, computers and computer components (up 45.9%) from Korea.

In January-September, Vietnam also endured a big trade deficit with China, at US$19.7 billion (up 5.6% year-on-year), and with ASEAN countries, at US$4.6 billion.

Market watchers have predicted that trade deficit with Korea would become bigger in the coming time due to the increasing impact of the Vietnam-Korea Free Trade Agreement (VKFTA) which became effective in late 2015. Moreover, the increasing presence of Korean firms in Vietnam will lead to a higher demand for machineries, equipment and materials imported from Korea.

Overall, Vietnam’s exports in the first nine months of 2017 edged up 19.8% year-on-year to US$154 billion, with US$43.2 billion of it contributed by domestic firms, up 16.8%, and US$110.8 billion by foreign-invested firms, up 21%.

Meanwhile, imports rose 23.1% year-on-year to US$154.5 billion, of which US$61.3 billion came from the domestic sector, up 18.7%, and US$93.2 billion from the FDI sector, up 26.1%.

ManpowerGroup Vietnam: number of female leaders remains modest

The number of women serving in leadership positions remains low with 33% of the total workforce, and even lower at 25% of enterprises’ owners, said Le Thi Kim, Country HR Manager at ManpowerGroup Vietnam.

At the public – private dialogue on individual action plan for the enhancement of women’s representation in leadership as part of the 2017 APEC Women and the Economy Forum from September 26 to 29 in Hue City, Kim said women make up 47% of Vietnam’s workforce but the gender pay gap remains wide.

However, women play an important role in economic development, especially in the fourth Industrial Revolution, as 30% of small and medium enterprises which account for 98-99% of enterprises in Vietnam are established by businesswomen.

Vietnam has obtained major achievements and ranks ninth out of 24 economies in Asia-Pacific region in narrowing the gender gap. To continue promoting gender equality, the Government has set many targets such as increasing the ratio of women in leadership at all levels by 0.3%-3.23%, creating jobs for at least 40% of women and reaching the rate of female entrepreneurs of 35% from 2020.

Established in 2008 with two representative offices in HCMC and Hanoi City, ManpowerGroup Vietnam is a leading provider of human resource services and a strategic partner of the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs.

VAMC distrains eight land lots of Hoan Cau Group

Vietnam Asset Management Company (VAMC) is seeking experienced units to help with evaluating eight land lots with total area of over 50,000 square meters, which are assets guaranteed for the bad debts of Hoan Cau Khanh Hoa JSC and Hoan Cau Nha Trang Co Ltd (Hoan Cau Group).

According to Tuoi Tre newspaper, VAMC acquired these land lots from Saigon Thuong Tin Commercial Bank (Sacombank), which are Hoan Cau Group’s assets guaranteed for its loans of VND2,418 billion (nearly US$106.2 million) at the bank.

The eight land lots, located in Tan Thuan Tay and Binh Thuan wards of District 7, HCMC, were planned for a high-rise residential building combined with a commercial center. Their total value at the time Hoan Cau Group borrowed money from Sacombank was estimated at VND2,418 billion.

Sacombank lent Hoan Cau Group money to develop the project, but the loan became Sacombank’s bad debts, forcing the bank to sell the bad debts to VAMC for special bonds.

Hoan Cau Khanh Hoa JSC has total loan principal of VND1.3 trillion and total loan interest of over VND84 billion. VAMC acquired the debts by special bonds worth VND1.3 trillion.

Meanwhile, VAMC acquired total loan principal of VND1.1 trillion and total loan interest of over VND93 billion of Hoan Cau Nha Trang Co Ltd by special bonds worth VND1.1 trillion.

Overall, Hoan Cau Group’s total loan principal is VND2.4 trillion and total loan interest is VND177 billion.

Hoan Cau Khanh Hoa JSC and Hoan Cau Nha Trang Co Ltd are subsidiaries of Hoan Cau Group which was founded in 1993 with charter capital of VND193 billion.

Hoan Cau Group now has 36 subsidiaries in Khanh Hoa Province, HCMC, Dalat City and Dong Nai Province. The group’s charter capital was raised to VND1,170 billion in 2015.

Hoan Cau Group is the investor of Diamond City project in District 7, HCMC, which has total investment of US$4 billion and is scheduled for completion in late 2018. 

Other projects developed by the group include Cantavil Hoan Cau in HCMC’s Binh Thanh District, Diamond Bay City in Nha Trang City and Dalat Palace Golf Club in Dalat City.

Hoan Cau Khanh Hoa JSC is the investor of Hoan Cau hotel and commercial center project worth VND1.5 trillion in Nha Trang City, while Hoan Cau Nha Trang Co Ltd has invested in several projects like Crown Convention Center, Ba Ho tourism area, Diamond Bay Condotel Resort and Diamond Bay Resort & Spa.

CPI up 3.79% in Jan-Sep

The consumer price index (CPI) in September picked up 0.59% against the previous month as many groups of items in the basket of commodities used for CPI calculation marked up, making CPI in the first nine months rise 3.79% over the same period in 2016.

Data of the General Statistics Office released on September 29 shows the steepest rise of 5% in the education group which resulted from tuition fee hikes in 41 cities and provinces nationwide this month. This group, together with the transport group that recorded a 1.51% increase as a result of fuel price hikes, pushed up the September CPI strongly.

The group of housing and building materials edged up 0.69% against the previous month, with a rise of 1.18% in building material price, and 5% in cooking gas price and 3.08% in kerosene price. 

Other groups reporting price rise were medicine and healthcare with an increase of 0.25%, and food and catering service with 0.08%.

Overall, CPI in September edged up 1.83% compared to December 2016 and 3.4% against the same period last year, making the average CPI in the first nine months rise 3.79% year-on-year.

September core inflation, which is based on the CPI excluding commodities managed by the State, grew 0.08% against August and 1.32% year-on-year.

The average core inflation in the first nine months of this year grew 1.45% compared to last year’s first-nine-month average.

The General Statistics Office also noted a strong increase in the retail revenue of consumer goods in September, attributing the rise to numerous promotional programs launched at commercial centers, supermarkets as well as retail stores.

The country’s total retail sales of goods and services in September amounted to an estimated VND336.6 trillion (over US$14.8 billion), up 1.8% against a month earlier and up 12.1% over the same period last year.

The figure for the first nine months of this year is estimated at nearly VND2,918 trillion, a year-on-year rise of 10.5%. If the inflation factor was excluded, the growth would be 9.2%, a little bit higher than the same period of last year’s growth of 9%.  

VNA/VNS/VOV/SGT/SGGP/TT/TN/Dantri/VNEVET

Tra fish prices in Mekong Delta shoot up, Turnover drops to 1-month low, Additional VND6 trillion required for Long Thanh Airport’s site clearance, Lotte to acquire Vietnam’s Techcom Finance
 
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