BUSINESS IN BRIEF 4/5

HCM City to get high-quality farm products from Long An

Agricultural businesses in the Mekong Delta province of Long An are looking at ways to increase supplies of their products to Ho Chi Minh City, the largest economic centre in the southern region.

Nguyen Ngoc Hoa, Deputy Director of HCM City’s Department of Industry and Trade, said that buying and selling was being done through modern distribution channels as well as traditional markets. Safe food, traceability of product origin, and post-harvest preservation are all important parts of today’s agricultural production process.

However, there are only a few enterprises and cooperatives from Long An province that can satisfy these conditions.

If enterprises and cooperatives from Long An met these conditions, they could become key suppliers to HCM City over the long term, according to Hoa.

At the meeting between officials from HCM City and Long An province last week, representatives of Long An province’s enterprises and cooperatives said that farmers in the province had not changed their production habits. Many farmers are not producing goods under contract or according to market demand.

Farmers are also using levels of pesticides that do not follow required standards.

Nguyen Van Duoc, Vice Chairman of Long An province’s People’s Committee, said that Long An authorities had asked HCM City to share experiences and support local enterprises in applying high-tech production and post-harvest preservation methods.

“Long An will create more connections between enterprises and cooperatives in the province with enterprises and large distributors in HCM City. Long An would like to establish a supply chain of safe agricultural products and quality-assured products, following the requirements of the market,” he added.

To solve the problem, HCM City authorities said they would help Long An province’s producers to prevent and control disease and maintain food safety by transferring high-quality breeding stocks and high-tech breeding methods.

Ninety co-operatives in Long An, including 30 co-operatives producing under Vietnam Good Agricultural Practices standards, with capacity of more than 20,000 tonnes, supply about 500 tonnes of agricultural products every day to HCM City.

Dorufoam expands export to Russia, Europe, American markets

General Director of Dong Phu Rubber Technology Jsc Dam Duy Thao has said the company plans to ship its wholly Vietnamese natural products to Russia, European and American markets apart from traditional markets of China and Cambodia. 

The company will continue renovating technology and assembly lines to improve product quality while doubling its capacity to meet demand at home and abroad. 

Its plants use modern assembly lines and technologies from Germany, Malaysia in closed process, from cultivation, exploitation to processing. They all meet ISO 9001:2015 quality management, ISO 14001:2015 environment management and OHSAS 18001:2007 occupational health and safety management standards.

Not only manufacturing mattresses, rubber pillows, they also churn out sofas, beds, pillow covers with seven domestic showrooms and 350 agents in 50 cities and provinces nationwide. 

Dorufoam also has a sole distributor in the Chinese province of Shandong and another in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, with export turnover of over 150,000 USD per year. 

To expand markets, it has partnered with the Republic of Korea (RoK)’s CJ Group to sell products online and export to markets in which CJ has branches.

Agro-forestry-fishery export value picks up 11.9 percent

Exports of agro-forestry-fishery products in the first four months of the years were estimated at 12.3 billion USD, a year-on-year surge of 11.9 percent, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The country raked in 6.5 billion USD from exports of main agricultural products, 2.4 billion USD from seafood and 2.7 billion USD from main forestry products, up 11.9 percent, 13 percent and 7.9 percent from the same time last year, respectively.

During the period, the country shipped 2.16 million tonnes of rice abroad, earning 1.1 billion USD, year-on-year increases of 21.7 percent in volume and 37.7 percent in value.

Average export price for rice in the first quarter of this year gained 15 percent to reach 501 USD per tonne. China continued to be the largest importer of Vietnamese rice when it purchased 411,600 tonnes, or 29.1 percent of the rice market share.

Rice export enjoyed strong growth in Indonesia (up 378 times), Iraq (up 16.7 times), Malaysia (up 3.3 times), Ivory Coast (up 67.1 percent), Ghana (up 57.4 percent), China’s Hong Kong (up 46.2 percent) and Singapore (up 24.6 percent).

In the January-April period, cashew export experienced sound expansion in terms of both volume and value. Some 103,000 tonnes of cashew were shipped abroad at a value of 1.04 billion USD, rising 23.1 percent in quantity and 31.9 percent in value from the same time last year. 

The US, China and the Netherlands remained three top importers of Vietnamese cashew. They made up of 34.4 percent, 13.6 percent and 13.3 percent of the market share, respectively.

The export value of vegetable went up nearly 30 percent to over 1.32 billion USD in the period.

Earnings from coffee regained a slight rise of 0.4 percent to 1.3 billion USD despite an 18.1 percent increase in volume with 691,000 tonnes. Meanwhile, the export value of cassava went up 3.2 percent to 376 million USD in the period.

In a stark contrast, rubber and pepper saw their export values down of 21.4 percent and 33.2 percent, respectively.

The ministry estimated that the country splashed out 9.5 billion USD on purchasing foreign agro-forestry-fishery products in the four-month period, growing 11.7 percent from the same months in 2017.

Vietnam’s import-export revenue rises 14.4 percent in four months

Total import-export revenue in the first four months of 2018 is estimated at 144.13 billion USD, up 14.4 percent year on year, according to the General Department of Vietnam Customs.

Of the figure, Vietnam’s export value is likely to reach 73.76 billion USD, a rise of 19 percent over the same period last year, while import value is calculated at 70.37 billion USD, an increase of 10.1 percent.

The highest growth was seen in the export earnings of telephone and spare parts at 36.8 percent to hit 13.42 billion USD, followed by garment products at 15.7 percent, computers, aquaculture products at 13 percent and electronic products and parts 10.83 percent.

Meanwhile, the value of imported computer, electronic products and parts rose 22.3 percent to 13.42 billion USD, while that of machineries, equipment and spare parts dropped 7.4 percent to 10.16 billion USD.

Imports of telephone and spare parts increased 9.8 percent to 4.42 billion USD, and that of fabric of all kinds was up 10 percent year on year to 3.66 billion USD.

In April alone, total trade revenue of the country is estimated at 35.7 billion USD, a drop of 10.8 percent compared to the previous month. Exports showed a reduction of 13.9 percent on a monthly basis to 18.2 billion USD, and imports in the month also fell 7.3 percent month on month to 17.5 billion USD.

As a result, trade surplus in April is estimated at 700 million USD, raising the surplus for the January-April period to 3.39 billion USD.

Vietnam Medi-Pharm 2018 to open in Hanoi

The 25th Vietnam International Exhibitions on Products, Equipment, Supplies for Pharmaceutical, Medical, Hospital and Rehabilitation – Vietnam Medi-Pharm 2018 will take place in Hanoi from May 9-12. 

The information was announced during a press conference co-hosted by the Health Ministry, the Vietnam Medical Products Import-Export JSC (Vimedimex) and the Vietnam Advertisement & Fair Exhibition (Vietfair) in Hanoi on May 2. 

This year, 450 firms from 30 countries and territories worldwide will join the event with 535 stalls. It will be the first time Polish enterprises attend the event with display of software on medical cost, electronic spare parts and automation. 

Major products on display include pharmaceuticals, functional food, medical equipment, dentistry and ophthalmological, and health care products, chemicals and experiment equipment.

The Health Ministry’s display area will disseminate the Party and State’s policies and laws on medical work, achievements and major tasks of Vietnam’s medical sector this year. 

Concurrent events will be the Vietnam International Hospital Exhibition, the International Rehabilitation & Healthcare Technology Exhibition & Conference, the International Dental Exhibition, and seminars and forums on heart, blood pressure, and vaccination. 

As part of the exhibitions will be consultancy on medical law, pharmaceutical market, public health care and epidemics prevention, among others.

The event, starting from 1994, takes place in May in Hanoi each year.

MoIT continues to streamline business procedures

Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh has signed Decision No.1408/QD-BCT approving plans to streamline 54 administrative procedures and conditional business lines this year.

This is the first administrative procedure simplification in 2018 and the third of its kind in the industry and trade sector. 

Of the total procedures, 41 will be trimmed while another 12 administrative procedures will be on the chopping block, covering ten fields, including energy, electricity, competitiveness management, trade promotion, food safety and import-export.

The ministry will simplify and cut eight administrative procedures in food safety. Relating to Decree 109 on rice export, which has been a topic of debate in past years, the ministry reduced the time for obtaining the necessary documents to export rice from 15 working days to 10, and .

Regarding import-export activities, the ministry will remove the requirement to obtain a licence for tobacco imports for duty free trading. The licence has been applied since 1998.

The ministry also reduces the time for granting certificates of free sale (CFS) for imported and exported goods.

Also, the ministry reviewed and agreed to remove nine administrative procedures relating trade promotion activities. 

In the past two years, the Ministry of Industry and Trade has made a big shakeup in line with the Party and State’s spirit of tectonic movements and renovation to create favourable conditions for citizens and businesses to develop the economy.

The ministry’s first administrative restructuring was implemented in December 2016, during which 123 administrative procedures out of the total 443 were simplified or annulled.

Last year, the ministry continued to cut and simplify 183 administrative procedures out of the total 451 at that time. The procedures under its management had increased from 443 in 2016 to 451 in 2017 as some sectors under other ministries’ management were transferred to the ministry.

The ministry has been praised for cutting 402 categories out of 702 import-export products, which were under special check-ups. 

NA leader witnesses gas processing plant inauguration in Ca Mau

National Assembly Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan attended a ceremony in the southernmost province of Ca Mau on May 2 to inaugurate the Ca Mau Gas Processing Plant (GPP Ca Mau) invested by the PetroVietnam Gas Corporation (PVGas). 

Built within two years at a cost of more than 10 trillion VND (450 million USD), the plant has a daily capacity of 6.2 million cu.m of gas and is able to hold 8,000 tonnes of liquefied petroleum gas and 3,000 cu.m of condensate. 

Once operational, it will supply around 600 tonnes of liquefied petroleum gas and 35 tonnes of condensate to the market per day, meeting 10 percent of domestic demand. 

Speaking at the event, the top legislator noted that the Party and State give priority to oil and gas sector, including gas industry, with a number of incentives.

She lauded PetroVietnam and PVGas for making Vietnam one of the countries that is able to turn gas into electricity and fertiliser. 

The leader said the inauguration of the plant is meant to realise the Vietnam National Energy Development Strategy approved by the government, contributing to economic development in the southwest and Ca Mau province in particular. 

Chairman of the PetroVietnam Members’ Council Tran Sy Thanh said the plant is the final part of the gas – electricity – fertiliser project chain in Ca Mau, adding that the successful project will contribute to PetroVietnam’s sustainable development. NA leader witnesses gas processing plant inauguration in Ca Mau

National Assembly Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan attended a ceremony in the southernmost province of Ca Mau on May 2 to inaugurate the Ca Mau Gas Processing Plant (GPP Ca Mau) invested by the PetroVietnam Gas Corporation (PVGas). 

Built within two years at a cost of more than 10 trillion VND (450 million USD), the plant has a daily capacity of 6.2 million cu.m of gas and is able to hold 8,000 tonnes of liquefied petroleum gas and 3,000 cu.m of condensate. 

Once operational, it will supply around 600 tonnes of liquefied petroleum gas and 35 tonnes of condensate to the market per day, meeting 10 percent of domestic demand. 

Speaking at the event, the top legislator noted that the Party and State give priority to oil and gas sector, including gas industry, with a number of incentives.

She lauded PetroVietnam and PVGas for making Vietnam one of the countries that is able to turn gas into electricity and fertiliser. 

The leader said the inauguration of the plant is meant to realise the Vietnam National Energy Development Strategy approved by the government, contributing to economic development in the southwest and Ca Mau province in particular. 

Chairman of the PetroVietnam Members’ Council Tran Sy Thanh said the plant is the final part of the gas – electricity – fertiliser project chain in Ca Mau, adding that the successful project will contribute to PetroVietnam’s sustainable development.

HCM City’s industrial production stalls in four months

Ho Chi Minh City’s industrial production index tended to stall, up only 6.07 percent in the four months this year compared to 7.09 percent one year earlier, said Deputy Director of the municipal Department of Industry and Trade Nguyen Huynh Trang. 

During a meeting held by the municipal People’s Committee on May 2 to discuss local socio-economic-cultural affairs, State budget collection and spending for April and major tasks for May, Trang said 99 percent of firms operating in the city are micro, small and medium-sized ones so that their competitiveness is limited. Meanwhile, foreign-invested enterprises have contributed to 35.5 percent of the city’s industrial production value over the past five years. 

The city now makes up 32 percent of the total industrial production in the southern key economic zone and nearly 16 percent of the country’s total. The growth of the city’s industrial production index has been lower than the country’s average in the recent five years. 

Trang said the local economy continues to switch to services that account for 59.54 percent of its gross regional development product in the first quarter. 

During the four months, mechanical engineering expanded by 2.48 percent, lower than 18.89 percent recorded in the same period last year while manufacturing of motorised vehicles was down 26.8 percent compared to an 84.19 percent rise year-on-year. It was partly due to the adoption of Euro 4 emission standards from January 2018. 

Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee Nguyen Thanh Phong asked the department to advise the city to issue development plans for key products, improve competitiveness, and develop trademarks.

Tra Vinh promotes administrative reform to improve competitiveness

Chairman of the People’s Committee of the Mekong Delta province of Tra Vinh Dong Van Lam has instructed provincial departments, sectors and localities to intensify reform of administrative procedures in order to improve the provincial competiveness index (PCI).

He also asked relevant agencies to hold more dialogues and meetings with businesses to address their problems.

Tra Vinh’s indicator on labour training has been low in recent years, with the province ranked at 58th among 63 cities and provinces in 2017. Accordingly, the provincial Labour and Social Affairs Department needs to devise plans to provide training for workers in line with businesses’ requirements.

The provincial leader said the province should strive to maintain the good performance in areas where it has earned high rankings such as land access, time cost and unofficial cost.

At the same time, efforts must be made to improve rankings in other sub-indicators including market participation, transparency, dynamism, labour training and business facilitation, equal competitiveness and labour training. 

Tra Vinh was ranked 37th out of 63 cities and provinces nationwide in term of PCI in 2017, up five places from 2016 under the rankings released recently by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The province led the country in terms of unofficial cost.

The year 2017 also marked the outstanding performance of Tra Vinh in investment attraction, contributing remarkably to the local economic growth. 

During the year, nearly 80 domestic and foreign investors came to study the local incentives in investment, doubling the number of 2016, including 35 investors from Japan, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, the US, Turkey and Malaysia. 

As a result, the locality licensed 49 investment projects, encompassing five foreign ones with total registered capital of 143 million USD, and 44 domestic ones worth nearly 3.5 trillion VND (153.3 million USD). 

On aggregate, 59 projects worth over 153.8 trillion VND (6.7 billion USD) are being carried out at industrial and economic zones in the province. 

The inflow of investment has made positive impacts on local development. The gross regional domestic product (GRDP) saw annual average growth of 11 percent over the past five years. In 2017, the GRDP expanded by over 12 percent, the highest level over the past four years.

VCCI works to facilitate business growth

The Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) has, in coordination with ministries, sectors and agencies, carried out various activities so far this year to push administrative procedure reform, creating a supportive environment for business operation and startups.

A recent VCCI report stated that the agency has engaged in the process of ensuring enterprises’ business rights and equality in accessing business resources and opportunities.

The VCCI has gathered opinions of the business community and made contributions to the building of many important legal documents, including the law on the revision and supplementations to some articles of the Law on Handling of Administrative Violations, the Law on Urban Management, and the revised Tertiary Education Law.

At the same time, the VCCI has held many seminars, conferences, meetings and dialogues to collect ideas and propose policies to the Party and State on how to improve investment and business environment as well as support the business community.

The announcement of the 2017 Provincial Competitiveness Index Report was one of the highlights of the VCCI activities this year. The report was built basing on a survey on 10,245 private enterprises in 63 cities and provinces, including 2,003 firms established in the past two years and 1,765 foreign-invested firms.

A conference was also held with the coordination of the VCCI and the Ministry of Construction to seek measures to remove difficulties in policies related to investment and capital construction.

The VCCI has also worked with ministries, sector and localities to organise activities to improve business environment, including a conference to collect ideas on the law on investment in public-private partnership form, and another to gather opinions on the list of business conditions in transport sector.

The chamber held a dialogue with businesses on tax policies, administrative procedures related to taxation and instruction on tax balance in the central province of Thanh Hoa.

VN-RoK trade relations flourish     

Speaking at the Viet Nam-Korea Economic Forum in late April, Le Quang Manh, deputy minister of planning and investment, affirmed the increasing value of the Viet Nam-Korea strategic partnership.

RoK is currently Viet Nam’s largest foreign direct investment partner with total registered capital of $59 billion, as well as the country’s second-largest trading partner and second-largest export market after China.

According to Kwak Young Kil, chairman of the Korea-Vietnam Culture Economic Association (KOVEKA), Viet Nam has become one of RoK’s most important trading partners, and currently plays a significant role in President Moon Jae-In’s new policy to support stronger exchanges and cooperation with ASEAN members.

Kwak noted that after 25 years of diplomatic relations, with strong growth trends in recent years, trade turnover between the two countries had reached $63 billion in 2017. Bilateral trade is expected to reach $100 billion by 2020, equivalent to an annual increase of 18 per cent over the next two years.

Korea has overtaken Japan and Singapore as Viet Nam’s biggest investor in new fields such as electronics and manufacturing. Prominent FDI firms include Samsung Electronics, LG Electronics, Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction, SK Energy and Hyundai Heavy Industries and the Korea Electric Power Corporation.

Ban Won-ik, chairman of the Association of High Potential Enterprises of Korea (AHPEK), said that since 2016, the number of investment projects and amount of capital from RoK enterprises in China has dropped sharply, as Korean companies are turning to invest in Viet Nam.

He attributed the strong investment trend to the Government of Viet Nam’s policies, including reform of administrative procedures and tariff preferences, coupled with the privatisation of State-owned enterprises and opportunities for further business expansion through mergers and acquisitions. .

In early April, Lee Hyuk, South Korean ambassador to Viet Nam, spoke with Vu Tien Loc, president of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), on the strategic partnership’s impressive development in all areas, especially in trade, FDI and official development aid (ODA).

According to the Korea Trade and Investment Promotion Agency (Kotra), South Korean enterprises investing in Viet Nam started mainly with low-capital outsourcing projects in light industries for export purposes. Now, however, up to 73 per cent have moved on to serving local demand in Viet Nam’s key economic sectors such as electronics, energy, automobile, garment and construction.

As of 2017, RoK’s total investment in Viet Nam reached $7.62 billion, accounting for 27 per cent of the latter’s FDI capital. RoK is also its second largest ODA provider, after Japan.

The country’s open export segment policy, multiple signed trade agreements, low-cost labour force and incentivising policies for FDI firms are chief factors spur South Korean enterprises to choose Viet Nam.

In terms of tourism, the number of South Korean tourists to Viet Nam in 2017 has increased by 50 per cent, making Viet Nam their most visited destination in southeast Asia.

The RoK is home to nearly 150,000 currently living, studying and working Vietnamese, while Viet Nam hosts more than 140,000 South Koreans.

Cargill boosts shrimp innovation in Bac Lieu     

Cargill has opened a shrimp-focused technology application centre in Bac Lieu Province, a shrimp farming hub.

The 1.2ha centre, which has several ponds, a training facility and a research station, is Cargill’s second such facility in Viet Nam and the third in the region.

“[It] will apply shrimp farming knowledge and technology from around the world within the local framework,” Jesper Clausen, technology application lead, Cargill’s aquaculture nutrition business in Asia, said.

“In Viet Nam, this means helping farmers address challenges such as disease in shrimp farming and complement current farming practices with new techniques and improved feed.”

At the centre, the company is co-operating with the Research Institute of Aquaculture No. 2 in Bac Lieu to run various full-cycle trials to find the best ingredient combinations and improve existing diets with less impact on the environment.

It will also help speed up the pace of product development with increased focus on solutions for shrimp.

Chad Gauger, managing director, Cargill Aquaculture Nutrition, Asia South, said: “Viet Nam is an important and growing market for animal nutrition. Today, after 23 years of operating in Viet Nam, Cargill has 11 manufacturing facilities across the country, employing 1800 people, 99 per cent of whom are Vietnamese.

Viet Capital Bank targets $3.5m profit     

Viet Capital Bank reported a 26 per cent increase in deposits last year to VND35.93 trillion (US$1.57 billion).

Its total outstanding loans were worth VND25.87 trillion ($1.34 billion) at the end of last year, up 19 per cent, with non-performing loans accounting for 1.8 per cent.

At its annual shareholders meeting held recently in HCM City, many targets for 2018 were approved: net profit of VND80 billion ($3.5 million), total assets of VND46 trillion, deposits of VND41.3 trillion and total outstanding loans of VND29.1 trillion.

Non performing loans will be less than 3 per cent.

The management warned of possible headwinds this year, but said with support from shareholders and the State Bank of Viet Nam and efforts from employees, the bank is fully confident of accomplishing the targets.

Novaland lists convertible bonds in Singapore     

Property developer Novaland Investment Group Corporation on Wednesday announced that it successfully listed its US$160 million offering of convertible bonds on the Singapore Exchange Limited last week.

This is the first Vietnamese convertible bond listing on an international stock market in six years, it said.

The issue attracted interest from many investors in Asia and Europe, it said.

The US-dollar denominated unsubordinated convertible bonds due in 2023 will be converted into ordinary shares of the company at an initial conversion price of VND74,750. The bonds, issued at par, carry a coupon of 5.5 per cent payable semi-annually in arrears and a yield to maturity of 6.25 per cent.

Novaland also successfully raised $150 million from an equity placement, taking the total capital raised to $310 million. It is the largest ever issuance by a Vietnamese company involving a concurrent equity placement and convertible bond offering.

The company said it would use the proceeds from the combined offering to further build its land holdings in prime locations and develop housing projects, and for working capital and general corporate purposes.

The company plans to start three new projects this year.

Last week at its annual general meeting, shareholder passed business plans for this year, with expected sales of VND21.78 trillion, after-tax profit of VND3.2 trillion, up 87 per cent and 55 per cent respectively.

Around 6,500 units are expected to be handed over this year at 11 projects, all of which have sold over 90 per cent on average.

CEO Group in hot water

Real estate giant CEO Group may face difficulties as its golden goose Sonasea Villas & Resorts appeared on the Ministry of Construction’s radar, and two other long-delayed projects are at risk of cancellation by the Hanoi People’s Committee.

Along with giant real estate groups like BIM Group, Bitexco, Gelemexico, and Khang Dien JSC, CEO Group will be inspected by MoC in 2018. The inspection will target the group’s main source of revenue, Sonasea Villas & Resorts in Phu Quoc Island, according to dantri.com.vn.

According to statistics from the Hanoi Department of Natural Resources and Environment, there are over 200 long-delayed projects. In addition, 172 projects have been delayed for more than 24 months and 72 projects have not completed their financial obligations (holding a total debt of over $207 million).

CEO Group’s revenue mainly comes from projects in Phu Quoc, such as Sonasea and Novotel Phu Quoc. According to the group’s financial report in 2016, projects in Phu Quoc contributed 60 per cent of the group’s revenue.

In contrast, perhaps due to putting too much focus on Sonasea and other projects in Phu Quoc, CEO Group has forgotten its two long-delayed projects in Hanoi, the Seven Star high-end trading and services building and CEO Me Linh City, which was licensed in February 2008.

According to CEO Group’s plans, the $88.1-million Seven Star building located in the golden land D27 in Cau Giay district would have been constructed in December 2010 and completed in 2013’s fourth quarter. However, to date, the project is still in a standstill, taking up valuable space. Essentially, the Seven Star building has been not mentioned in the group's plans since 2013.

Furthermore, CEO Group’s CEO Me Linh City on February 29, 2008 (six months before Me Linh was merged into Hanoi) received its construction permit from the Vinh Phuc People’s Committee. However, since then, the project has not been developed.

To resolve long-delayed projects in Hanoi, in early 2018 Chairman of Hanoi People’s Committee Nguyen Duc Chung directed authorities in local districts to look into resolving projects that have been delayed by more than three years, possibly meaning CEO Group's two mentioned projects may be included in the list.

Accordingly, Chung requested local authorities to check, adjust or cancel these projects, then report to the Hanoi People’s Committee for solutions.

IFC promotes financial consumer protection

IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, in collaboration with the Vietnam Banks Association (VNBA), is promoting financial consumer protection practices to ensure that customers have more confidence and trust in the country’s financial system. 

The aim is to make the nation’s banking sector more resilient and to promote the responsible delivery of financial products and services. This will give individuals and businesses more access to finance and contribute to Vietnam’s overall economic development.

A workshop was held on April 26 in Ho Chi Minh City to offer best practice knowledge in financial consumer protection, the experiences of several economies in strengthening their legal and regulatory frameworks, and the main elements of good financial consumer protection practice in credit reporting. A good credit reporting system should be safe and efficient, and fully supportive of consumer rights while collecting and sharing information among creditors.

Financial consumer protection —a group of laws, regulations, and institutional arrangements that safeguards consumers in the financial marketplace—has become a significant priority for policymakers over the last decade. 

This can be attributed to the considerable financial losses of consumers and investors, the economy caused by poor market conduct over the past few years and the increased vulnerability of customers due to emerging technology-based financial services. To address these issues, efforts have been made to enhance disclosure and transparency, fair treatment, and internal and external dispute resolution. 

More than 100 representatives from commercial banks, industrial associations and government agencies discussed the importance of customer protection, the financial sector’s stability and how to access more customers. Participants were updated on how policymakers and banks are addressing new consumer risks such as the challenges of delivering financial products and services through digital channels. 

The workshop also featured talks about how credit reporting service providers should take on consumer protection as a core part of their operations in order to maintain the quality and reliability of credit data, thus enhancing creditors’ and consumers’ confidence in the credit reporting system.

The workshop was organized in partnership with the Swiss Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) as part of IFC’s efforts to facilitate the uptake and usage of a range of financial products that can be easily accessed by consumers, including the previously unserved or underserved segments, and to deliver products and services in a responsible and sustainable manner in Vietnam.

Aquatic product exports bring home US$2.4 billion in four months

Vietnam earned some US$2.4 billion from its exports of aquatic products over the first four months of 2018, representing a year-on-year rise of 13%.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), in April alone, the country hauled in US$650 million from the export of aquatic products.

The US, Japan, China, and the Republic of Korea were the biggest importers in January-March, making up 52% of the Southeast Asian country’s total aquatic product exports.

The highest growth was reported in the Netherlands (55.7%), China (44.6%), and the UK (33.8%).

In the four-month period, Vietnam imported US$536 million worth of aquatic products, up 27.4% against the same period last year. Of that figure, US$130 million worth of aquatic products were imported in April.

Vietnam achieved its highest ever aquatic product export value of US$8.32 billion in 2017, a year-on-year increase of 18%, according to the MARD.

The Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP) said shrimp exports provided the biggest contribution to the total export value, with a growth rate of 21% to US$3.8 billion in 2017.

Exports of aquatic product in 2018 are expected to exceed US$8.5 billion, up about 3% compared to 2017, though Vietnam's exports to the US and EU markets will continue to be affected by catfish inspections, anti-dumping and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU), according to the VASEP.

Industrial production index increases by 11.4% in four months

Viet Nam’s industrial production index (IPI) was estimated to rise 9.4% year-on-year in April, pushing the four-month index growth by 11.4% on-year in the first four months of this year, according to the country's General Statistics Office.

In the January-April period, main driver of the surge, the processing and manufacturing sector, went up 14%.

Meanwhile, electricity production and distribution sector grew 9.7%, contributing 0.9%, and water supply and waste management grew 5.5%, only the mining sector suffered a slight decrease of 1.2%.

In the period, high production growth was reported in the fields of electronics, computers and optical products (26.6%); metal (16.3%); products made from precast metal (except machinery and equipment) (15.2%); and furniture production (14.9%).

Surges were also recorded in major industrial products such as iron and steel (38.2%), followed by synthetic cloth (up 26.2 percent), powdered milk (20.7%), feed for aquaculture (19%), television (17.5%), and processed aquatic products (11.8%). 

The northern Bac Ninh province posted the highest industrial production growth of 33.4%, followed by Hai Phong (24%), Vinh Phuc (13.5%), Thai Nguyen(12.1%), Hai Duong (10.7%), Ha Noi and Dong Nai(8.1%), Da Nang (8%), Binh Duong (7.9%), Can Tho (7.3%), Quang Ninh  (6.5%), and Ho Chi Minh City (6.1%). 

As of April 1, the number of workers in industrial enterprises increased 3.9% compared to the same period last year. The number of workers in State-owned enterprises dropped 1.1% while those in non-State and foreign-invested businesses went up 4.3% and 4.5%, respectively. 

The number of workers in provinces and cities with large-scale industry also saw increases, such as Can Tho (22.9%), Hai Phong (16.3%), Bac Ninh (13.6%), Thai Nguyen (7.9%), Binh Duong (6.8%), Dong Nai (5.3%), and Ho Chi Minh City (0.4%).

New incentive policies for agriculture and rural development projects

The Government has issued Decree 57/2018/ND-CP on a series of incentive mechanisms and policies to stimulate investments in agriculture and rural area development.

Accordingly, beneficiaries shall be businesses which are established, operate in line with the Law on Enterprises and have agricultural projects encouraged by the State.

Beneficiaries shall be entitled to a wide range of State support in terms of land, credit access, high-tech application, workforce training, market development among others.

Specifically, projects eligible for investment incentives  shall be exempted from land and water surface rents in the first 15 years since the State allocates land/water surface to the owners of the projects. The rents shall be reduced by 50% in the following seven years.

Projects eligible for investment promotion shall be exempted from land and water surface rents in the first 11 years and shall be offered 50% reduction of the rents in the following 5 years.

HCM City to get high-quality farm products from Long An, HCM City to get high-quality farm products from Long An, Aquatic product exports bring home US$2.4 billion in four months, Industrial production index increases by 11.4% in four months
 
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