BUSINESS IN BRIEF 12/1
Can Tho’s retail revenue exceeds 100 trillion VND

The Mekong Delta city of Can Tho has posted its highest ever retail revenue of over 106 trillion VND (4.66 billion USD) last year, up 10 percent from 2016.

The information was released by the municipal Department of Industry and Trade at its conference to review 2017 performance, which took place on January 11.

With that figure, Can Tho topped the Mekong Delta and was ranked third nationwide only behind Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. Statistics showed that the city now has 18 shopping centres and supermarkets, 48 convenience stores, 8 safe vegetable stores, and 107 wet markets.

Truong Quang Hoai Nam, Vice Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee, highlighted the record retail growth but pointed to the fact that modern shopping malls are mainly located in Ninh Kieu district. 

Can Tho’s income per capita has surpassed 72 million VND (3,168 USD) per person per year, he added, suggesting the industry-trade sector and relevant agencies put forth measures to spread trade activities to other districts like O Mon, Thot Not, and Cai Rang.

In 2018, Can Tho aims for retail and services earnings of over 117.6 billion VND (5.17 million USD), increasing 10.9 percent from 2017. 

To realise the target, the municipal Industry and Trade Department said it prioritises the development of the processing industry to make less raw products and more high value added and high-tech ones, particularly in the agro-fishery sector. Market expansion at home and overseas will also be a priority.

Ha Noi to ensure goods supply for Tet


HCM City retail grows by more than 11 percent in 2017, PetroVietnam told to thoroughly deal with ailing projects, Vinasugar II to auction 93% stake next month, Lower tax helps reduce E5 bio-fuel price




     
Ha Noi should cooperate with neighbouring provinces to meet the demand for goods on the occasion of the Lunar New Year (Tet) in 2018.

Deputy minister of industry and trade Do Thang Hai said this at a conference held in Hà Nội this week, to ensure a stable supply of goods for the Tet festival.

The cooperation will bring enough qualified goods and diversified goods for people, and avoid a situation of shortage of goods in some places or an increase in prices of goods, Hai said.

At the same time, he said Ha Noi should strengthen the inspection of origin, monitor goods supply, and gradually develop cooperation among enterprises to trace the origin and quality of goods.

According to the Ha Noi Department of Industry and Trade, goods in demand during the Lunar New Year 2018 include 193,600 tonnes of rice, 50,000 tonnes of pork, 14,000 tonnes of chicken, 13,800 tonnes of beef and 200 million units of poultry eggs.

The total value of goods for the Lunar New Year in the city this year is estimated to reach some VNĐ26 trillion, a year-on-year increase of 10 per cent, including VND10 trillion of confectionery and beer products supplied by enterprises. Meanwhile, households and groups producing goods for Tet such as confectionery, sausages, vermicelli and processed agricultural products will provide a total value of VND2.2 trillion of goods.

Commercial firms are expected to market goods worth VND12.83 trillion for the Tet festival this year, while traditional markets will provide goods worth VND1 trillion.

Tran Thi Phuong Lan, deputy director of the Ha Noi Department of Industry and Trade, said that until the Lunar New Year, the department will create favorable conditions for enterprises selling goods at fairs and trade promotion programmes.

The department will cooperate with the department of agriculture and rural development and relevant offices to inspect food hygiene and safety of food producers and processors.

It will also ask enterprises to stabilise the price of goods for the people before, during and after the Tet festival. 

HCM City retail grows by more than 11 percent in 2017

HCM City’s retail sector has been growing steadily, achieving an 11.3 percent increase by the end of 2017 compared to 2016, according to the city’s Department of Industry and Trade.

According to the department, the total revenue of the retail sector last year was over 923.84 trillion VND (40 billion USD).

Revenue from retail sales was 594.65 trillion VND, accounting for 64.4 percent of total retail revenue (retail sales and retail services).

The city had 207 supermarkets in 2017, an increase of 18 compared to 2016. At least 116 of them are domestic supermarkets, while 91 are foreign-owned.

In addition, there were around 43 shopping malls in 2017, three more than in 2016. Fourteen of them are foreign owned. There were around 1,100 convenience stores in 2017, 218 more compared to 2016. 

PetroVietnam told to thoroughly deal with ailing projects
 
Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung attended a meeting on January 12 of the Vietnam National Oil and Gas Group (PetroVietnam), asking it to thoroughly address problems of five ailing projects in 2018.

These projects are the Dinh Vu polyester fibre factory, the Dung Quat shipbuilding factory, and three bio-fuel plants.

At the meeting, which reviewed the group’s performance in 2017 and set tasks for 2018, the Deputy PM recognised PetroVietnam’s efforts to complete most of the tasks assigned by the Government.

However, there remain problems that may affect PetroVietnam’s development in 2018 and the following years, he said, elaborating that most existing oil and gas fields are now in the final stage of exploitation, leading to a decline in output, while the exploration of new fields is still slow due to limited capital and capacity.

In addition, the group has several poor-performing investment projects in Vietnam and other countries, which has influenced its prestige.

Challenges also come from outside factors such as unstable oil price recovery and output decrease in existing fields.

Deputy PM Dung told PetroVietnam to continue implementing offshore oil and gas projects in Vietnam’s continental shelf while speeding up key projects currently lagging behind schedule like the upgrade and expansion of the Dung Quat oil refinery, the Nghi Son refinery and petrochemical complex, and the southern petrochemical complex.

Speaking at the event, PetroVietnam Director General Nguyen Vu Truong Son said the group aims to exploit 22.83 million tonnes of oil equivalent, including 13.23 million tonnes of crude oil, in 2018. It will step up exploration activities so as to raise oil and gas reserves this year to 10 – 15 million tonnes of oil equivalent.

The firm will also press on with divestment of State capital from businesses in line with the 2017-2020 plan approved by the Prime Minister, thoroughly deal with issues at the five ailing projects, carry out timely solutions to cope with oil price changes, and accelerate the progress of lagging projects.

Central Da Nang city boosts investment attraction

The central coastal city of Da Nang is deploying a number of measures to increase investment attraction in 2018.

According to Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee Huynh Duc Tho, the city will build on achievements gained in 2017, particularly the successful organisation of the APEC Economic Leaders’ Week and Da Nang Investment Forum.

Local authorities pledged to create the optimal conditions for investors to carry out and put into operation tourism and resort projects.

The city targets the creation of high added value products, especially in the field of science and high technology.

The inspection and treatment of environmentally polluted areas, including industrial parks, will be stepped up in the coming time.

Preferential policies will be devised to lure large-scale industrial production investors and businesses in high-added value and environmentally friendly fields.

The city will work to ensure labour safety, improve infrastructure, and ease traffic jams.

It will focus on finalising a master plan for socio-economic development by 2035 with a vision toward 2050 and building projects, mechanisms and policies to develop tourism and services.

As a driving force of the central region’s key economic zone, Da Nang is leading in the development of infrastructure as well as land, railway and airway connectivity for the central and Central Highland regions.

In 2017, the gross regional domestic product (GRDP) recorded a year-on-year growth of 9 percent. 

To date, industrial parks in the city have attracted more than 400 investment projects, of which 100 are foreign invested ones, creating jobs for over 74,000 labourers in the locality and vicinities.

HCM City’s industrial growth predicted to rise 8-8.5 percent

Industrial production of Ho Chi Minh City is forecast to see stable growth in 2018, with the index of industrial production index (IIP) to expand by 8-8.5 percent year-on-year.

According to the municipal Department of Industry and Trade, the city’s IIP in 2017 increased by 7.9 percent compared to 2016.

The city’s four key industrial sectors saw an average growth of 15.5 percent, much higher than the overall rate. In particular, the IIP of the electronics-information technology industry expanded by 39.11 percent, and that of processing and manufacturing industry by over 8 percent). 

Meanwhile, the chemicals – plastic- rubber industry posted a growth of 3.4 percent after slow development in 2015 and 2016.

Deputy Director of the department Nguyen Phuong Dong attributed the good performance to efforts made by local enterprises and the municipal authority’s policy to promote industrial development. 

Decision No.15/2017/QD-UNBD issued by the municipal People’s Committee in early 2017 on supporting businesses to develop industrial manufacturing and supporting industry has also contributed to boosting the city’s industrial development.

According to the department, there is a great potential to develop the mechanical sector in the city, especially automobile industry. 

However, industrial enterprises are also facing difficulties and challenges, especially in terms of competitiveness and markets.

The department said many measures will be implemented to support industrial enterprises in their production and business activities in 2018, towards accelerating restructuring of the industrial sector in connection with renovating the growth model. 

According to Le Nguyen Duy Oanh, Deputy Director of the HCM City Department of Industry and Trade's Centre of Supporting Industry Development, her agency will focus on assisting support industry enterprises in raising their supply capacity, expanding production and connecting with more domestic and foreign partners, thus gradually joining the global supply chain.

Local vessel fleet sees transport volume inch up

Vietnamese seagoing vessels transported around 130.9 million tons of cargo last year, a 6% rise against 2016, which is still a modest rise compared to the total cargo throughput of about 536.4 million tons in 2017, the Vietnam Maritime Administration said.

Official statistics released by the Vietnam Maritime Administration indicate that about 536.4 million tons of goods was cleared via the seaport systems of Vietnam last year, a year-on-year increase of 17%.

On inland waterway and domestic transport, Vietnamese ships transported nearly all the cargo, except for liquefied petroleum gas and cement.

The main reason behind the hike is that the Transport Ministry no longer allows foreign vessels to carry goods on domestic routes. Earlier, given the dominance of foreign ships, local vessels saw the amount of goods they transported tumbled in many consecutive years.

Besides, the north-south coastal transport route which has been put into operation recently has helped raise the amount of goods from six million tons during its first year of service to a staggering 23 million tons in the third year.

More than 1,500 vessels had transported goods totaling 46.8 million tons on this coastal route as of last October. In addition, the number of local container ships has risen by 42 units, which also helped boost the transport volume.

Given the stricter load check policy for trucks, many enterprises have opted for sea transport to reduce their costs. Data of the Transport Ministry shows sea freight costs from the north to the south, and vice versa are equal to one third of road freight.

For example, the cost for loading, transporting and unloading a 40-foot container from the northern city of Haiphong to HCMC by sea is around VND6.5-6.7 million (US$286-295), compared with around VND37 million (US$1,629) by road.

Deputy Transport Minister Nguyen Van Cong said at a review conference of the Vietnam Maritime Administration late last week that the local vessels are sparsely located.

He added major shipping companies in the world have dominated the long-distance sea transport route, so local vessels have very little room for competition, stressing they should play to their strengths such as transporting loose cargo for short-distance transport routes.

Can Tho still prefers BOT transport projects

The Mekong Delta city of Can Tho will continue carrying out future transport infrastructure projects under the build-operate-transfer (BOT) investment format, said Do Hoang Trung, director of the municipal Department of Information and Communications.

Trung made this announcement at a press conference on January 8 on a BOT tollgate on a National Highway 1 section between Can Tho City and Hau Giang Province’s Phung Hiep District which has recently met with fierce opposition from drivers.

The city’s budget cannot cope with the increasing demand for infrastructure development, especially in the road sector, he noted.

Trung added the central Government has suspended BOT transport infrastructure projects to tackle thorny issues that have arisen recently. However, the municipal government still prefers implementing BOT projects.
He told the Daily Can Tho has been waiting for the Government’s instructions upon the latter’s careful reviews of BOT projects to make proper adjustments for future projects.

Le Tien Dung, deputy director of the city’s Transport Department, said the Transport Ministry has agreed to further slash toll fees by 50% at the Can Tho-Phung Hiep BOT Tollgate for the people living or working in the vicinity of the facility.

Notably, owners of cars that are not for commercial use in Ba Lang Ward of Can Tho City, and Tan Phu Thanh Commune of Hau Giang Province will be exempted from paying toll fees.

As covered by the Daily, drivers have recently used banknotes of small denomination to pay fees at the facility to keep fee collectors busy, resulting in serious traffic congestion there.

The tollgate investor upgraded a 22-kilometer highway section at a cost of over VND1.83 trillion (US$80.8 million), and began collecting fees late last year at VND35,000 per standard vehicle, which was deemed too high and unfair for local residents who had to pay for the full fee when they traveled just a few hundred meters.

The protests have simmered since months ago. As a result, the investor has reduced its toll fees by 7% to 15% since December 20. Then, the Directorate for Roads of Vietnam has agreed fee cuts between 30% and 35% for local residents since early this year.

However, the move has failed to soothe protesters who demand that the fee be exempted for all residents living nearby, and that the investor have a technical solution to collect fees proportionate to the distance they travel.

Saigontourist Travel, Vietnam Post join hands to expand customer base

Saigontourist Travel Company and the Corporation of Vietnam Post Office (Vietnam Post) have inked a deal to share data on their potential customers to develop better products and services.

The two sides also pledged to use the products and services of each other and cooperate in organizing domestic and international events to promote their brands.

Vo Anh Tai, general director of Saigontourist Travel Company, said the cooperation with Vietnam Post is part of the firm’s strategy for better integration and partnership promotion.

“The cooperation will help both sides expand market reach and offer better products and services to the customers,” he said.

Saigontourist Travel has 25 branches and transaction offices nationwide. The company expects to serve one million tourists this year after having a good performance in 2017 with 870,000 tourists and VND4.25 trillion (US$187 million) in revenue, up 10% year-on-year.

Saigontourist Travel is an tourism services arm of Saigontourist Holding Company where Tai also serves as deputy general director.

Vietnam Post has about 13,000 postal service points across the country.

Vinasugar II to auction 93% stake next month

Việt Nam Sugarcane and Sugar Corporation II (Vinasugar II) will auction 63.59 million shares to the public on February 13, according to the HCM Stock Exchange (HoSE).

The stake of Vinasugar II is held by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD).

Currently, the company has a chartered capital of VNĐ685 billion (US$30.14 million). The number of shares to be auctioned is over 63.69 million, accounting for 93 per cent of the corporation’s chartered capital. 

With a starting price of VNĐ10,420 per share, it is estimated that MARD will collect about VNĐ664 billion through the auction.

Information about the auction, filing and deposit is scheduled to be made public on January 15.

Vinasugar II specialises in manufacturing sugar, starch and packaging; technical services for sugarcane; consulting services and financial investment; commercial and real estate business with its member units, such as La Ngà Sugar Joint Stock Company and Bình Dương Sugar Joint Stock Company, in association with Vinasugar I, Hiệp Hòa Sugar Cane and Sugar Joint Stock Company.

In 2016, Vinasugar II posted VNĐ448.7 billion in revenues, VNĐ29.9 billion in after-tax profits, and produced 1.55 million liters of refined alcohol, as well as 183 tonnes of CO2. The company traded 22,871 tonnes of sugar.

The company targeted to reach VNĐ462 billion in revenues and nearly VNĐ16.5 billion in after-tax profits in 2017.

ICT Innovation Center to be set up in Can Tho soon

Brainworks Corporation has plans to open an ICT Innovation Center in Can Tho City in April, which would help boost Japanese investment into the city and the Mekong Delta as a whole.

At a meeting with the Japan Desk management on January 9, Nguyen Khanh Tung, director of the Can Tho Investment-Trade Promotion and Fair Center, said the ICT Innovation Center will initially have five engineers and specialists responsible for offshore software development, information technology research and market research.

Noboru Kondo, chairman of Brainworks Corporation, could come to Vietnam in the next three weeks to finalize the project.

Speaking to the Daily, Nguyen Phuong Lam, deputy director of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s (VCCI) Can Tho Branch, said the ICT Innovation Center was aimed at calling for more Japanese enterprises to invest in the city and the Mekong Delta, especially in information and communications technology in agriculture.

According to Lam, the Japanese side has set up an advisory board comprising some experts and representatives from about 50 Japanese companies for the project. The center will be responsible for assisting Japanese firms in investing in and researching ICT in agriculture and some other sectors.

VCCI Can Tho will also welcome 200 Japanese investors coming to the city to sound out investment opportunities this year.

Truong Quang Hoai Nam, vice chairman of Can Tho City, said in addition to the ICT Innovation Center, two other projects, including the Vietnam-Japan Industrial Park and a model farm project, will also be kicked off in April. The projects will help attract Japanese investment.

According to Nam, Can Tho City should offer special incentives to Japanese enterprises, especially those relating to land and technology. Particularly, VCCI Can Tho is cooperating with HCMC’s Quang Trung Software City to support technology companies in Can Tho.

Vietnam will also hold many other events to promote investment cooperation with Japan this year such as a conference on investment and trade promotion in Hyogo Prefecture, a meeting between Vietnamese and Japanese businesses in Hanoi, and a dialogue between the Can Tho City government and Japanese businesses.

BRG Group seeks nod to build five-star hotel in HCMC

Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Nga of BRG Group met with HCMC Chairman Nguyen Thanh Phong on January 9 to seek the city government’s backing for a plan to build a five-star hotel called Hilton Garden Inn Saigon in District 1, HCMC.

Nga said the hotel to be located at 23-25 Ham Nghi Boulevard would have 19-20 floors with 180 rooms, and if the city gives support, the group could put the hotel into service by 2020.

BRG is asking for the city government’s permission to build a high-rise hotel at the aforesaid site as the height limit for this area is 15 floors only. Nga said the city’s Department of Planning and Architecture tends to give its support for the scheme.

“The HCMC Department of Planning and Architecture said our suggestion can be considered because there has already been a 42-storey tower nearby,” Nga said at the meeting, which was also attended by a representative of Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. She was referring to The One Tower nearby.

The Hilton Garden Inn Saigon project shall be kicked off this year and put into operation in 2020, Nga assured the city’s chairman, saying her group has experiences in quickly completing building projects.

“We finished the Sheraton Grand Danang prior to APEC Economic Leaders’ Week 2017 after just 14 months of construction. Therefore, it is possible to complete the Hilton Garden Inn Saigon in 2020 as the project site is ready,” Nga said.

Chairman Nguyen Thanh Phong suggested the investor work with competent agencies, but said the project shall not break the city’s urban planning. “Detailed components of the project will be discussed and finalized at meetings between the investor and relevant agencies. The outcome should be reported to the city government,” Phong said.

According to Phong, most world-class hotel brands have been present in the city but this will be the first one to be managed by Hilton.

In addition to the Hilton Garden Inn Saigon, BRG has plans to develop several other hotel and office projects in HCMC like the five-star Crowne Plaza, a six-star office building in coordination with Japan’s Sumitomo Corporation, and Conrad hotel in coordination with Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc.

Lower tax helps reduce E5 bio-fuel price
 
The Government has offered a couple of incentives to encourage consumption of E5 bio-fuel, said Nguyen Phu Cuong, deputy head of the Science and Technology Department under the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

Cuong told a conference on E5 bio-fuel on January 10 that the environmental protection tax on E5 bio-fuel is much lower than fossil fuels, and the Ministry of Industry and Trade has suggested the Government further lower this tax for E5 bio-fuel to reduce its retail price.

On average, the tax on E5 is VND500 per liter lower than that of fossil gasoline, making E5 more competitive. At present, E5 is sold at VND18,243 (US$0.8) per liter, nearly VND2,000 lower than RON 95 gasoline.

According to Cuong, incentives for E5 bio-fuel shall be maintained in the coming time even when it becomes more popular.

Since E5 began replacing RON 92 gasoline early this year, drivers have complained that E5 makes their vehicles less efficient, according to news website Dan Tri.

However, Pham Huu Tuyen from the School of Transportation Engineering under the Hanoi University of Science and Technology said experiments show E5 improves engine performance by 3-5% and fuel efficiency by 2-3% compared to fossil fuels. Many users still doubt this assertion, as the bio-fuel is said to have lower energy content than the fossil fuel of the same standard.

E5 is a mixture of RON 92 gasoline and 5% ethanol.

Manufacturing sector in dire need of manpower

The manufacturing sector had the strongest demand for recruitment, followed by consumer goods-retail, finance-banking, and information technology (IT) in the final quarter of last year, manpower consultant Navigos Group said in a report.

The recruiting services provider says in a newly released report that the demand for recruiting mid-level and senior positions in quarter four rose 11% from a year earlier. In all of 2017, this demand was 28% higher than in 2016.

In particular, the manufacturing sector took the lead, with many jobs available in the construction, electricity-electronics, and automation fields.

The consumer goods and retail sector came second with vacancies in the food-beverage, and fashion-accessories segments.

The finance and banking sector in the third place required more employees at banks, consumer finance companies, and insurance firms. The IT sector also saw strong demand for new staff, especially in IT and software services segments.

Navigos Group, however, did not give specific numbers of laborers in need in such sectors.

The real estate sector is facing a shortage of high-skilled technical employees, and those capable of managing major projects. Navigos forecasts the sector has high demand for recruitment in the technical and product marketing segments.

Property enterprises are heavily investing in new products to improve their competitiveness, so they are striving to seek experienced employees.

However, the domestic manpower market fails to keep up with this demand, as enterprises could not find enough senior staff specializing in product development, technical design, planning, and urban development.

Navigos also predicts the retail fashion sector would employ more people, given fierce competition on the market.

Notably, Japanese enterprises in the manufacturing sector are projected to recruit more mid-level and senior positions because of their heavy investments, and the emergence of new industrial parks in northern Vietnam. Meanwhile, those in IT and services sectors are likely to need more new employees in the southern region.

The report also reveals that a senior manager at a bank earns the highest salary of VND300 million (over US$13,200) a month. Meanwhile, other mid-level and senior managers from various sectors get salaries between VND100 million and VND190 million a month.

Transport firms lower charges

Many transport companies in HCMC have reduced their freight rates to compete with others due to a surge in the number of trucks last year.

Nguyen Van Chanh, vice chairman of the HCMC Cargo Transport Association, said transport firms encountered numerous difficulties last year due to taxes, fees and administrative procedures. In addition, the rising number of trucks put into service also intensified the competition among transport firms, making life tougher for many.

According to statistics of the association, the number of container trucks in the city soared 27.8% and trucks of at least 3.5 tons 76% while the cargo transport volume picked up a mere 7.5% to 406 million tons.

Enterprises have reduced their transport charges by half and many trucks have even transported more cargo than permitted.

In addition, high road maintenance fees and toll fees placed a further burden on transport firms. Lam Dai Vinh, director of Lam Vinh Transport Service Co Ltd, said the company has to pay a fee of VND20-25 million monthly for each truck, which is extremely high.

Fuel costs also rose considerably due to regular traffic jams on roads leading to Cat Lai Port in District 2. Besides, traffic congestion also led to late cargo deliveries, affecting their reputation, said Do Xuan Phu, director of Lien Minh company.

These problems have remained unsolved although the HCMC Cargo Transport Association has petitioned competent authorities to look at it several times. Vinh proposed cuts of 30% on both toll fees and road maintenance fees.

Tran Quang Lam, deputy director of the HCMC Department of Transport, said the department has received proposals from enterprises and would take coping measures soon.

EIB okays new loan for metro line project in Hanoi

The European Investment Bank (EIB) will offer a loan of 143 million euros (US$171.4 million) for a project to develop metro line No. 3 in Hanoi City, connecting Hanoi Station and Nhon Station, said EIB vice president Jonathan Taylor.

At a press conference in Hanoi on January 10, Taylor said the 12.5-kilometer elevated urban railway with 12 stations would improve public transit in the capital.

Asked by the Daily over a threefold increase in the project’s capital and slow progress (some three years behind schedule), Taylor said he had visited the project site and was informed of the project progress. The contractor has committed to speeding up the construction pace.

EIB attaches no conditions to the loan, so Vietnam has the right to apply any technologies from any providers, Taylor noted.

EIB has provided more than 710 million euros in loans for investment in Vietnam since 1998.

Ambassador Bruno Angelet, head of the Delegation of the European Union to Vietnam, noted at the press conference that EIB is willing to offer soft loans for Vietnam at a time when international donors are reducing concessional funds for the country. At a meeting with EIB, Vietnamese officials said Vietnam has high demand for EIB’s loans as the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank have stopped offering official development assistance (ODA) for the country.

EIB, which is the world’s largest international public bank and is owned by 28 European Union (EU) members, offers an interest rate of 0%, Angelet said.

The ambassador expected Vietnam could receive more such loans from EIB after the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) is ratified and takes effect.

At an earlier meeting with EIB, Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung proposed the bank continue supporting Vietnam to develop infrastructure, especially traffic and energy facilities, and response to climate change and rising sea levels.

As for traffic infrastructure, Vietnam has plans to build the North-South Expressway, airports, seaports and connecting facilities to develop logistics services to help enterprises reduce costs and increase the economy’s competitiveness.

In addition, Vietnam, which is among the countries most vulnerable to climate change, needs loans to cushion severe impacts of climate change and develop highly vulnerable areas, the deputy PM said.

Minister of Transport Nguyen Van The introduced some large projects in Vietnam such as the North-South express railway and Long Thanh International Airport.

Standard Chartered Bank ends 12-year partnership with ACB
     
Standard Chartered Bank (Hong Kong) has ended its “12-year marriage” with Asia Commercial Bank (ACB), offloading its entire holding of more than 154 million shares in the Vietnamese bank.

The transaction was completed on January 9 for an undisclosed sum.

According to the Viet Nam Depository Securities Centre’s announcement, Standard Chartered APR Limited transferred 89.9 million, equivalent to 8.75 per cent of ACB’s capital, to Estes Investment Ltd and Sather Gate Investment Ltd.

Meanwhile, Standard Chartered Ltd sold 64.2 million shares, or 6.25 per cent of ACB’s capital, to three investment companies, including Boardwalk South Ltd, Whistler Investment Ltd and Estes Investment Ltd.

ACB’s shares are trading at some VND40,000 (US$1.75) a share on the Ha Noi Stock Exchange, which valued the sale at about VND6 trillion ($263.2 million).

In mid-2005, Standard Chartered spent $22 million to acquire 8.56 per cent of ACB’s capital and upstake holding to 15 per cent in July 2008 for an additional $135 million (excluding the money to purchase ACB’s convertible bonds).

At that time, ACB’s shares were valued at VND68,000 a share.

In the bank’s annual shareholders’ meeting in April 2017, Standard Chartered officially confirmed its plan of divestment. Earlier in March 2016, it withdrew two representatives from ACB’s management board.

The foreign bank had explained it was under pressure to cut costs after suffering losses from emerging markets.

There seems to be a trend that foreign banks are withdrawing investment from local banks.

In the early days of 2018, BNP Paribas offloaded its entire stake of 18.68 per cent in Orient Commercial Bank (OCB), ending the 10-year alliance between the two banks.

Unlike OCB, ACB demonstrated strong performance, with consolidated profit of more than VND2 trillion by the end of September 2017, up 60 per cent year-on-year. Its share price climbed 76 per cent in 2017. 

Trà Vinh Province seeks investment in 10 agricultural projects

Trà Vinh Province is calling for investment in 10 agricultural projects that are part of a plan to develop the area’s agriculture and improve the lives of farmers.

The projects, worth a total of VNĐ969 billion (US$42 million), include a freshwater pond in Duyên Hải District’s Đôn Châu Commune; a quality assurance programme for agriculture and aquatic products; animal husbandry projects; new factories for processing meat and fodder; and other programmes to boost agriculture and fishery.

The province’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development targets increasing agriculture earnings by 4 per cent by the end of the year.

Agricultural businesses currently account for only 6 per cent of businesses operating in Trà Vinh.

EIB okays new loan for metro line project in Hanoi

The European Investment Bank (EIB) will offer a loan of 143 million euros (US$171.4 million) for a project to develop metro line No. 3 in Hanoi City, connecting Hanoi Station and Nhon Station, said EIB vice president Jonathan Taylor.

At a press conference in Hanoi on January 10, Taylor said the 12.5-kilometer elevated urban railway with 12 stations would improve public transit in the capital.

Asked by the Daily over a threefold increase in the project’s capital and slow progress (some three years behind schedule), Taylor said he had visited the project site and was informed of the project progress. The contractor has committed to speeding up the construction pace.

EIB attaches no conditions to the loan, so Vietnam has the right to apply any technologies from any providers, Taylor noted.

EIB has provided more than 710 million euros in loans for investment in Vietnam since 1998.

Ambassador Bruno Angelet, head of the Delegation of the European Union to Vietnam, noted at the press conference that EIB is willing to offer soft loans for Vietnam at a time when international donors are reducing concessional funds for the country. At a meeting with EIB, Vietnamese officials said Vietnam has high demand for EIB’s loans as the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank have stopped offering official development assistance (ODA) for the country.

EIB, which is the world’s largest international public bank and is owned by 28 European Union (EU) members, offers an interest rate of 0%, Angelet said.

The ambassador expected Vietnam could receive more such loans from EIB after the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) is ratified and takes effect.

At an earlier meeting with EIB, Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung proposed the bank continue supporting Vietnam to develop infrastructure, especially traffic and energy facilities, and response to climate change and rising sea levels.

As for traffic infrastructure, Vietnam has plans to build the North-South Expressway, airports, seaports and connecting facilities to develop logistics services to help enterprises reduce costs and increase the economy’s competitiveness.

In addition, Vietnam, which is among the countries most vulnerable to climate change, needs loans to cushion severe impacts of climate change and develop highly vulnerable areas, the deputy PM said.

Minister of Transport Nguyen Van The introduced some large projects in Vietnam such as the North-South express railway and Long Thanh International Airport.

Vietnam expressway contracts to be awarded through open bidding

The contracts to build Vietnam’s north-south expressway must be awarded through an open and transparent bidding process, stated Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung.

He told a meeting on January 11 that such a process is required to choose the competent contractors for one of the nation’s key infrastructure projects.

Vietnam is planning to build an additional 654 kilometres of expressway over the next three years at a total cost of VND118.7 trillion (US$5.27 billion).

Half of the costs will be covered by the government budget while the rest will be provided by private investors.

Under the Ministry of Transport’s plan, there will be 11 sub-projects covering 11 sections of the expressway, eight of which are to be financed through build-operate-transfer (BOT) arrangements.

Except for one section that will have only four lanes, all the remaining sections will have six lanes.

The average fee for a car with fewer than five seats using the North-South expressway is estimated at VND2,500 per kilometre.

The plan, with construction scheduled for completion in 2021, was approved by the Vietnamese parliament, the National Assembly, in November last year.

Specific mechanisms to solicit funding for the expressway will be discussed and adopted by the government at its upcoming meeting, said Deputy PM Dung.

Vietnam petrol retailers asked to disclose RON95 base price

The base prices of fuel products, including E5 bio-fuel, RON 92 and RON 95 petrol, must be publicised in accordance with the Government Decree No.83 on gasoline trading.

Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue made the request at the meeting with the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) and Ministry of Finance (MoF) on the price management of gasoline products on January 11.

The meeting was held one day after the MoIT issued a document to explain why it did not announce the base price of RON 95 petrol in the first adjustment of fuel prices this year on January 4.

The Deputy PM asked the MoIT, in coordination with the MoF and other authorised agencies, to continue monitoring the consumption of E5 bio-fuel, RON 92 and RON 95 petrol and the Euro emission standards in the first quarter of 2018 to declare the base prices of fuel products aligned with the market developments.

"The regulation of E5 bio-fuel, RON 92, and RON 95 petrol must be in line with the use of the national fuel price stabilisation fund. The base prices of gasoline products should be publicised pursuant to the Government Decree No.83 and the associated guiding documents", Hue emphasised.

In the latest price adjustment of fuel products on January 4, the MoIT only revealed the base prices and retail prices of E5 bio-fuel, RON 92 petrol, and oil products without the base prices of RON 95 petrol, the only fossil fuel sold in the market after RON 92 petrol was replaced by E5 bio-fuel since early 2018.

Hue also requested that the MoIT and MoF boost the information on the benefits of E5 bio-fuel to increase consumption, while increasing the control of fuel quality to avoid fraud and ensure the inputs for the bio-fuel blend.

Ministries work on market stabilization in Tet holidays

The Ministry of Industry and Trade yesterday worked with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to estimate supply and demand of necessary items such as rice, sugar, salt and food for market stablization in the coming Tet holidays.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, rice prices fluctuated VND200-400 a kilogram in 2017 compared to the previous year but they were at reasonable and profitable levels for farmers in the Mekong Delta.

In the northern region, the prices slightly hiked sometimes but in general they were stable compared to 2016.

Current supply source is completely able to meet domestic consumption demand in the Tet Holiday.

The country has entered new sugarcane season so sugar price is forecast to be stable in the coming months despite of high sugar demand for confectionary and beverage production for the Tet holiday.

Food prices are expected to slightly move up in the Tet but there will be no big fluctuation because supply has been quite stable.

In December, pig prices swung from VND27,000-35,000 a kilogram, expected to hike near the Lunar New Year because of high consumption demand.

If there is no large weather change, vegetable supply will be enough for domestic demand. Pangasius fish prices have been up from early 2018 and now reaches VND25,000-27,000 a kilogram, bringing breeders a profit of VND4,000-6,000 a kilogram.

At the meeting, leaders of the two ministries agreed with intensifying cooperation among relevant agencies to supervise food production, supply and demand to prevent goods scarcity and price rocketing from occurring in days before, during and after the holiday.


HCM City retail grows by more than 11 percent in 2017, PetroVietnam told to thoroughly deal with ailing projects, Vinasugar II to auction 93% stake next month, Lower tax helps reduce E5 bio-fuel price
 
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