Last update 1/7/2011 7:38:14 PM (GMT+7)


Dong Nai launches real estate group

Dong Nai Real Estate Association was established Wednesday in southern Dong Nai Province, clubbing together 100 individuals and companies in the property sector.

The association will act as a forum collecting and providing information about the provincial and nationwide property market, updating legal policies, and providing consultant services in legal and real estate-related areas to its members.

Seeking to enhance closer collaboration between real estate companies, investors and the authority, the association also offers professional assistance to low-to-medium income individuals looking for a house in the province.

Tet food exports begin

Tran Thanh Toan, owner of Tran Gia factory in the southern province of Dong Nai, said he has shipped 30 tons of bánh chưng (traditional cake made from glutinous rice, mung bean, pork, and other ingredients), bánh tét (the southern version of bánh chưng), and phrynium leaves to France and the US.

Orders for bánh chưng have doubled this year, he said.

Tran Gia also tied up with dried fruit candy and confectionery makers to send their products along with its products, he added.

Pham Thi Ngoc Lien, owner of the Ho Chi Minh City-based food maker Ngoc Lien, told Tuoi Tre she exported three containers of sour and sweet foods and salted fish to the US which has a large Vietnamese community.

Demand for Tet foods is huge and her factory is operating at full capacity, she said.

Hai Dang, a HCMC-based fish sauce producer, has shipped a 20-foot container to Japan at a very high price since this Vietnamese specialty has become very popular there, Nguyen Thanh Hung, sales manager, said.

Other items like girdle cakes, sour shrimps, pickled small leeks, preserved eggplants, and spring rolls have also seen rising demand in the US, Japan, Europe, and other markets, producers said.

Most of them are becoming popular with non-Vietnamese in these markets too, they said.

But despite good prices, margins are low due to rising costs, they grumbled.

The Lunar New Year falls in early February this year.

Technip eyes refining venture in Vietnam

French oil services group Technip is well placed in association with Japanese JGC Corporation to win a contract worth 3.8 billion euros to build a refinery in Vietnam, a source close to the matter told AFP on Wednesday.

"A consortium composed of Technip and JGC has been retained by the Vietnamese state oil group Petrovietnam," the source said.

But no agreement had yet been signed, the source said. Work on final details of the contract could take weeks or several months.

The project, costing the equivalent of US$5 billion, is for the construction of the biggest refinery in Vietnam with capacity exceeding 200,000 barrels per day.

Technip declined to comment to AFP beyond saying that it had already worked on a project in Vietnam.

A consortium formed of Technip, JGC and Spanish company Tecnicas Reunidas has built a refinery at Dung Quat in Vietnam which began operating in 2009. It has production capacity of 140,000 barrels per day.

The price of shares in Technip was showing a gain of 3.10 percent to 74.07 euros in early trading on Wednesday, marking the biggest rise among shares quoted on the CAC 40 index which was showing an overall fall.

2010 inward remittances set fresh record

The total inward remittance sent to Vietnam in 2010 set a new record at US$8 billion, beating the earlier forecast of $6 billion.

The total inward remittance transferred to Vietnam via Sacombank Remittance Co reached $1.3 billion, rising 45 percent year-on-year. The figure at EAB Remittance Co was $1.2 billion, up 20 percent from 2009's while over $1.2 billion was transferred via the Vietnam Commercial Joint Stock Bank for Foreign Trade (Vietcombank).

The total volume of inflow remittance to Ho Chi Minh City in 2010 reached over $3.8 billion, up nearly 20 percent over the same period last year, according to the Ho Chi Minh City branch of the State Bank of Vietnam, said.

According to the figure from the central bank's Remittance Management Department, in December, the total volume of inflow remittance transferred to Vietnam was estimated at $770 million, bringing the total figure in full year to over $8 billion, rising 25.6 percent year on year.

In 2009, the total inward remittance sent to Vietnam decreased nearly 13 percent, reaching only $6.3 billion, much lower than 2008's at $7.2 billion.

World Bank ranked Vietnam at the 16th amongst 30 nations receiving the highest volume of remittance.

In 2011, the inflow remittance sent to Vietnam is forecasted to increase by 6.2 percent.

Remittance is one of very important foreign currency channels, significantly contributing in reducing the current accounts deficit, minimizing the risks in raising capital, and reducing the dependence in foreign capital source of the country.

Tax cut by up to 6% on 1,000 imports

Nearly 1,000 goods items would enjoy an import tax cut of 1-6 per cent in 2011, according to the Ministry of Finance's Taxation Policy Department.

Director of the department Vu Van Truong said the items would mainly include agricultural produce, seafood, construction materials and electrical appliances.

The average drop for most items would be 2-3 per cent, said Truong.

The cut, part of Viet Nam's commitment to the World Trade Organisation, was expected to benefit domestic consumers, giving them a wider choice of reasonably priced imported goods, Truong said.

However, he warned that the cut would also place pressure on Vietnamese goods that would face fierce competition from imported products.

Trade experts were also concerned about a predicted surge in the country's trade deficit next year in the wake of the import tax cut.

The country imported US$84 billion worth of goods last year, up 20 per cent over the previous year with a trade deficit of $12.3 billion.

This year, the country plans on restricting the trade deficit to $14.18 billion with an import value of roughly $92 billion.

Last year, roughly 2,000 goods including food, animal feed, construction materials and steel also enjoyed an import tax cut of 1-6 per cent, which cost the State budget roughly VND1 trillion ($51.28 million).

Customers rush to buy cars before new fees take effect

Car sales this month have already tripled those in November last year, with customers looking to avoid a new registration fee that becomes effective later this year.

Nguyen Sang, a car salesman from a dealership on Pham Hung Street, said in the second half of December, his showroom sold more than 40 imported cars, including models such as Daewoo, Hyundai and Kia, while in November, they sold less than 10, with prices ranging from

US$23,000 and $55,500 per vehicle.

Dealerships experienced a sudden rush on the final day of December, selling 10-15 vehicles each, and now that figure was up to 20, Sang said.

Nguyen Ha Thoan, an employee of GP Auto Showroom, said customers were buying new cars in preparation for the new year and to avoid the imminent new registration fees.

Prospective buyer Hong Mai said that many of her friends had advised her to buy a car before the new number plate and registration fees came into effect. Mai bought a Toyota Yaris for $28,500, saving her VND18 million compared to if she had purchased it next month.

Automobile traders attributed the rise in car sales to a Ministry of Finance policy that will raise registration fees from between 10 and 15 per cent to 20 per cent from the beginning of February. In addition, the number plate fee will increase by 1000 per cent to VND20 million per car.

The General Department of Customs is also going to apply new tax rates on imported cars and this has caused a further rush.

Vietnam to sell 49 pct of Dung Quat refinery

State oil and gas group Petrovietnam plans to sell a 49 percent stake in its Dung Quat oil refinery to help provide funding put at US$1 billion to expand the plant's capacity, a state-run news website said.

Both domestic and foreign investors would be targeted, quoted Dinh La Thang, Petrovietnam's chairman, as saying on Tuesday.

"The project expansion is expected to finish in 2016 with an additional investment of $1 billion," he was quoted as saying at a briefing with domestic media.

He did not give any timing for the share sale or name potential investors.

The group said on Tuesday it had picked Japanese engineering firm JGC Corp as adviser for the plan to raise Dung Quat's capacity to 200,000 barrels per day from 130,500.

The refinery, located 880 km (550 miles) south of Hanoi, has been running above capacity since late last year, after builder Technip handed it over to Petrovietnam.

The refinery bought 8.3 million tons of crude oil between February 2009 and December 2010, 6.08 million tons of which was pumped off Vietnam last year, and turned out 7.2 million tons of oil products, the group said in a statement.

Petrovietnam has forecast it would produce 5.6 million tons of oil products this year.

Shares rebound after dismal day's trading

Shares rebounded in the last minutes of today's trading to leave both national bourses slightly up after a gloomy start.

In HCM City, the VN-Index registered a tiny gain of 0.08 per cent to close today at 482.31 points.

Market volume and value declined, however, with nearly 29.5 million shares worth just VND697.7 billion (US$33.2 million) changing hands.

Decliners outnumbered advancers by 125-69.

Of the blue chips, most of the advancers were banks, with Eximbank (EIB), Vietinbank (CTG), Sacombank (STB) and Vietcombank (VCB) making modest gains, ranging from 0.6-1.3 per cent.

EIB was also the most active stock nationwide with almost 2.7 million changing hands.

In Ha Noi, the HNX-Index rose 0.25 per cent to finish at 111.44.

Volume and value of today's trades fell around 15 per cent to 19.58 million shares worth VND385.4 billion ($18.4 million).

Losers outnumbered gainers by 134-119.

Most advancers were mid caps or penny stocks and none of the 10 leading capitalised shares made gains.

Kim Long Securities (KLS), with 1.85 million shares exchanged was the most heavily-traded stock on the Ha Noi bourse, closing unchanged at VND15,800 (0.75).

Analysts with Wall Street Securities Co said given the lack of supporting information, sellers and buyers were very cautious and if the situation persisted, weak supply and demand would continue to depress market liquidity for the next couple of sessions.

"Mid caps and penny stocks are unlikely to break out and the indices could be distorted by larger capitalised stocks," they said.

FDI lower in 2010, but spending up

For 2010, the amount of registered foreign direct investment (FDI) declined compared to the last several years, but disbursement of FDI rose.

In HCM City, around US$1.17 billion of registered FDI valued at $1.82 billion was disbursed in 2010.

"The high proportion of disbursement was because two-thirds of the projects had an intermediate level of capital and were focused on production, manufacturing and retail services," said Lai Van Vuong, deputy head of the municipal Investment and Planning Department's Investment Registration office.

Meanwhile, the neighbouring province of Dong Nai gained significant results, with 62 expanded projects worth a total of $888 million.

In addition, although the number of new FDI projects was only half of those in 2009, with a total of $1.5 billion, all 41 projects were of a small size, under $7 million each, and easy to be deployed.

"Last year, we disbursed $800 million, an increase of 12.5 per cent in comparison with 2009. Of that, $520 million went to industrial parks, where many big enterprises like Japan's Toshiba and Germany's Robert Bosch had recovered after the global financial crisis and began expanding their operations," said Nguyen Luc Hoa, deputy director of Dong Nai's Planning and Investment Department.

The expanded capital in Binh Duong Province was $268 million of a total of $388 million in FDI.

Along with the increased quality of capital, these provinces have strongly promoted the inspection and oversight of proposed FDI projects.

HCM City, for example, decided to withdraw business licensces of 40 delayed real estate projects, while Dong Nai stopped operations of 35.

In Ba Ria – Vung Tau Province, investors of 16 projects with total investment of $230 million voluntarily withdrew their capital.

In Binh Duong, six enterprises were asked to stop operation because of heavy pollution, and 41 others were placed on a black list for the same reason.

This year, only HCM City has set a target of $1.5 billion for FDI; Dong Nai's goal is $2 billion.

Other southern key economic provinces expect several hundred million dollars for FDI.

"Binh Duong will not provide any business license for enterprises working outside industrial parks, except for real estate, retail, services and construction," said Le Viet Dung, deputy director of Binh Duong's Planning and Investment Department.

"Binh Duong does not and will not attract FDI just by paying any price. We will focus on the quality of investment," Dung added.