BUSINESS IN BRIEF 28/5

Trade surplus strikes US$928 million

Despite the month getting off to a slow start, Vietnam enjoyed a trade surplus of US$928 million in May, Vietnam Customs reports.

The country’s exports jumped up 16.4% year-on-year to US$51.59 billion for the May reporting period, while imports rose 11% year-on-year to US$50.66 billion.

Overall, total five month import-export value surpassed US$102.25 billion, an increase of 13.7% from a year ago.

Foreign invested enterprises raked in more than US$32.24 billion from exports, representing a rise of 20.5% and accounting for nearly 62.5% of the country’s total export earnings.

in the first half of May, exports experiencing sharp declines included telephone handsets and components (down US$473 million), crude oil (US$299 million), garments (US$218 million), computers, electronics and components (US$130 million), machinery, equipment and tools (US$125 million), seafood (US$97 million), footwear (US$92 million), and wood and timber products (US$90 million).

Garment exports reach nearly US$6 billion

Garment and textile exports jumped 21.3% in the first four months of this year, fetching nearly US$6 billion, according to Vietnam Customs statistics.

The US remained the largest market for Vietnamese garment and textiles, importing US$2.95 billion worth of the products, up 19.4% compared to the same period last year, accounting for 49% of the country’s total.

It was followed by the EU and Japan that purchased US$830 million and US$784 million respectively.

Most notably, Vietnamese garment exports to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) rose 131% to US$35.8 million.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade says there is ample room for future growth in Vietnamese exports to the UAE as its demand for textiles imports is approximately US$6 billion each year.

Rice exports exceed 2 million tonnes

Vietnam shipped abroad nearly 300,000 tonnes of rice in the first three week of May, bringing its total rice export volume to over 2 million tonnes since the start of this year, according to the Vietnam Food Association (VFA).

In May, Asia remains Vietnam’s largest rice importer, consuming 177,000 tonnes, making up 57.3% of the total volume.

It was followed by the Americas and Africa that purchased 65,000 tonnes and 58,000 tonnes, respectively.

As of May 22, Vietnam exported 2.061million tonnes of rice worth nearly US$900 million (FOB) and US$950 (CIF).

Businesses eye local opportunities

New findings from a survey conducted by global office provider Regus indicates the number of Vietnamnese companies seeking business opportunities in the domestic market is 260% higher than those looking overseas.

The one-month poll, which surveyed more than 200 Vietnamese businesses, is part of global study which collected the opinions of more than 20,000 senior executives and business owners across 95 countries.

The research proves that 42% of the companies are seeking domestic growth, while only 17% look forward to growing internationally.

According to the research, the five most important barriers to international growth by Vietnamese firms are the need to hire top-quality staff (89%), lack of access to flexible office space (84%), lack of market information (74%), lack of local knowledge and connections (63%) and the need to set up a local distribution network (63%).

The focus on home-grown growth is even more significant in emerging markets, where three times as many companies (51%) are seeking domestic growth compared to the number of companies seeking growth overseas.

This provides evidence that more people in developing countries have started to benefit from the results of economic recovery, as consumer confidence has begun to recover and reliance on exports has diminished.

Serge Dupaux, country manager at Regus Vietnam, the global workplace provider, stated that there has been an important reversal in the past two years, with firms now experiencing more growth from domestic markets than through overseas expansion. The trend highlights how important it is for businesses to remain flexible and scalable so that they can respond to market volatility but also highlights an important increase in consumer purchasing power in emerging economies.

Vietnam- Singapore Biz Forum to open in HCM City

The annual Vietnam – Singapore Business Forum 2014 (VSBF), to be held from June 4-6 in HCM City, will offer a platform to exchange business ideas, tackle current challenges and develop bilateral strategic partnerships.

Many industry leaders and experts as well as businesses, organizations and 100 government officials have registered to attend.

Over three days, the forum will hear presentations about the latest policies and opportunities for trade promotion and investment in Singapore and Vietnam.

According to organizers, the forum this year will focus on five panel discussions, including financial services cooperation, agriculture and aquaculture production, tourism and hospitality, real estate investment, and environmental management for sustainable business development.

VSBF is an important annual event that has been organized since 2005.

This event has contributed significantly to the success of multifaceted bilateral relations between the two countries, especially the signing of the Strategic Partnership Agreement in 2013.

Laos, Vietnam boost investment ties

Laos and Vietnam have worked closely together to timely address business concerns and create conditions for Vietnamese companies to undertake projects in Laos.

The view was shared by Lao Deputy Prime Minister Somsavad Lengsavath and visiting Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyen Chi Dung at a meeting in Vientiane on May 26.

Bilateral relations have developed substantially, especially in politics, national defence, security, and economy, Dung said, noting trade and investment ties have grown and flourished in recent times.

He cited a number of Vietnamese-invested projects, including the US$522.4 million salt processing plant and the big Sekaman 1 hydropower plant as testimony to Vietnamese businesses’ investment commitment in Laos.

Dung took the occasion, thanking the Lao government for supporting a recently adopted ASEAN statement on East Sea tensions, after China illegally placed its oil rig Haiyang Shiyou-981 deep inside Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf.

He reiterated Vietnam’s consistent policy of resolutely defending its sovereignty through peaceful measures and in line with international law.

Deputy PM Lengsavath congratulated Dung on his election as vice chairman of the Vietnam-Laos sub-Committee for Cooperation, and said both sides should continue easing difficulties to boost investment ties.

Singapore company expands operation in Vietnam

SUTL Corporation Pte Ltd continues to invest in Vietnam through the construction of Vung Ro Bay yacht club, in the central coastal province of Phu Yen.

A memorandum of understanding to this effect was signed in Singapore on May 26 between One 15 Marina Club-a subsidiary of SUTL Corporation Pte Ltd and Vung Ro Petroleum Ltd.

The yacht club is one of four sections of the Vung Ro Bay resort complex project in Phu Yen province by Vung Ro Petroleum Ltd, with estimated investment capital of US$2.5 billion.

It will include 300 docking spots, hotels, shopping malls, bars and restaurants along the coast.

SUTL Corporation Pte Ltd first began operating in Vietnam in 1996 with the launch of Saigon Superbowl mall in Ho Chi Minh City and Superbowl Vietnam entertainment area.

Later in 1997, the corporation also became a partner of Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) in Vietnam.

According to Vietnam’s Ministry of Planning and Investment, Singapore is currently the third largest foreign investor in Vietnam, committing US$30.3 billion to 1,266 projects.

FDI disbursement hits US$4.6 bln

According to the Foreign Investment Agency (FIA), approximately US$4.6 billion in foreign direct investment (FDI) has been disbursed over the past five months, demonstrating a year-on-year increase of 0.4%.

As of May 20, Vietnam approved 667 FDI projects capitalised at US$5.5 billion; of the total 500 are newly licensed projects worth US$3.7 billion, equivalent to 83% of the same period last year.

The processing and manufacturing industries took the lead, attracting US$3.9 billion from 254 projects. They were followed by the construction sector (US$463.2 million from 49 projects), and the real estate sector ((US$399.3 million from 9 projects).

Since the beginning of this year, 38 countries and territories have poured investment into Vietnam. The Republic of Korea tops the list with US$1.3 billion, accounting for 24% of total investment capital in Vietnam.

Then came Hong Kong (US$629.9 million), Japan (US$588.6 million) and Singapore (US$513.4 million).

Binh Duong province attracted the largest FDI investment (US$813.59 million), followed by Ho Chi Minh City (US$775.62 million) and Dong Nai (US$579.74 million).

In the reviewed period, the foreign invested sector enjoyed a trade surplus of US$4.46 billion.

Vietnam-China mineral plant rolls out first batch

A steel and cast iron mill of Vietnam-China Mineral and Metallurgy Co., Ltd (VTM) in the northern province of Lao Cai produced its first batch on May 26.

The factory, the most modern of its kind in Vietnam, is capable of producing 12-13 batches a day with a total volume of 1,500 tonnes, said Nguyen Van Toan, VTM General Director.

Its capacity is the second largest in the country, after the Thai Nguyen Steel and Cast Iron Plant, he said.

The factory is designed to churn out 500,000 tonnes of cast iron and 500,000 tonnes of steel ingot per year in the first phase. It plans to double the output after another steel mill is constructed, using raw material from  Quy Xa iron ore mine in Lao Cai.

As scheduled, the first batch of steel ingot will be rolled out early this June.

The factory was jointly built by the Vietnam Steel Corporation and China’s Kunming Iron and Steel Group Co. Ltd (KISC) at an estimated cost of US$337 million.

Agricultural exports up 10% in five months

Export earnings from agro-aquatic-forestry products are estimated at US$12.12 billion in the first five months of this year, representing a year-on-year increase of 10.4%, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD).

Of this figure, export turnover of farm products reached US$5.94 billion, up 5.1%, aquatic products, US$2.83 billion, up 25%, and forestry products, US$2.46 billion, up 13.8%.

Export products which saw a significant increase in both volume and value include coffee, pepper, cashew nut, aquatic product and timber.

The first five months witnessed an impressive growth in coffee exports, bringing back US$1.96 billion from selling 966,000 tonnes, up 36.7% in volume and 29% in value.

The country shipped abroad 17,000 tonnes of pepper worth US$126 million in May, increasing its five-month export value to US$645 million.

Cashew nut shipments posted strong growth both in volume and value, 10.8% and 11.5%, respectively.

In particular, the fisheries sector remains a key hard currency earner, bagging US$2.83 billion in five months, a year-on-year rise of 25%.

However, some commodities such as rubber, rice, tea and cassava experienced a drop in export turnover.

Rubber exports saw the steepest reduction of 20.2% in volume and 39.2% in value compared to last year.

Rice exports also faced a sharp decrease, down 10.2% in volume and 7.3% in value from a year ago.

HCM City to host three industry expos

The Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) in HCMC, the HCMC Investment and Trade Promotion Center (ITPC) and Thai firm Reed Tradex on May 22 clinched a deal to organize three exhibitions in the city in October.

The events, including METALEX Vietnam and NEPCON Vietnam 2014, will showcase products and accessories of companies in supporting industries from October 9 to 11 at the Saigon Exhibition and Convention Center in HCMC’s District 7. These events are expected to attract 500 enterprises from 25 countries and territories.

According to the organizers, local firms can find modern machines, equipment and technology at Vietnam’s International Exhibition on Machine Tools and Metalworking Technologies for Production Upgrade (METALEX Vietnam) and Vietnam’s Only Exhibition on SMT & Testing Technologies, Equipment, and Supporting Industries for Electronics Manufacturing (NEPCON Vietnam).

Local firms will have an opportunity to meet Japanese producers who look for quality industrial components and accessories in Vietnam and build business links through seminars and other activities of the three exhibitions.

Hirotaka Yasuzumi, managing director of JETRO in HCMC, said the lack of supporting industries was the biggest problem for enterprises when investing in Vietnam.

A survey of the organization showed just around 32% of components and accessories made in Vietnam were supplied for Japanese investors last year, while the rate was 64% in China and 53% in Thailand.

Yasuzumi said the organization was considering a policy to support development of supporting industries in Vietnam.

UAE group to develop tourism complex in Quang Ninh

Representatives of Nakheel, a real estate developer of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), are scheduled to visit Vietnam next month to prepare procedures for a tourism and residential complex in Quang Ninh Province.

According to the Quang Ninh Investment Promotion Agency, the group signed a memorandum of understanding with the provincial government last July and the visit would be the next step for the Halong Star project in the northern province.

The 125-hectare Halong Star complex has an estimated investment of US$550 million and includes a five-star hotel with 250 rooms, 226 villas, 85 houses, 114 apartments and a shopping center.

The agency said the provincial chairman, Nguyen Van Doc, led a delegation to the Middle East on May 12-19 and received the Nakheel chairman’s pledge to continue projects in Quang Ninh Province in general and in Van Don Economic Zone in particular.

The Quang Ninh government said it would create favorable conditions for the group to implement its projects in the province.

During the trip to the UAE, Doc also met representatives of Investment Corporation of Dubai (ICD) and invited them to explore investment opportunities in Quang Ninh, especially the Van Don Economic Zone, which will become a special economic zone.

The provincial government said that Van Don Economic Zone had many good conditions for ICD to develop its Future City project there.

Switzerland supports local SMEs’ competitiveness

Switzerland is financing small- and medium-sized enterprises (SME) in Vietnam to deal with their inventories, expand operations domestically and improve competitiveness on global markets as part of a supporting program for Vietnam. According to the Vietnam Trade Promotion Agency (VIETRADE), this program is aimed at enhancing Vietnamese SMEs’ export competitiveness through trade promotions in accordance with an agreement signed between Vietnam and Switzerland.

Through the agency, the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) will provide some US$3.9 million for Vietnam to carry out the program over four years. The program is being implemented nationwide.

Do Kim Lang, deputy head of VIETRADE and national director of the program, told a meeting in Can Tho City on Tuesday that the program management would develop detailed plans for brand building and promotion of chosen products and for producers of these items to spur their exports.

The program also helps strengthen the capacity of local trade centers, establish Vietnam’s national export council, and the efficiency of VIETRADE’s promotion activities.

Miroslave Delaporte of SECO said SMEs were the core of Switzerland’s economy and contributed a big part to the country’s development. He believed that SMEs would play a key role in Vietnam’s development if the program were carried out effectively.

Vo Thanh Thong, vice chairman of Can Tho City, said that farm produce and seafood were the spearhead products of the Mekong Delta, with rice and seafood accounting for 90% and more than 60% of the country’s exports of these products.

However, Thong said contribution of seafood and agriculture firms in the region stayed as low as 8.3% of the nation’s total export revenue.

Vietnam’s first ETF to debut in Q3

Vietnam is expected to launch its first domestic exchange traded fund (ETF), a fund that tracks specific indexes and whose portfolios include a basket of stocks, in the third quarter this year.

Speaking at a seminar organized by the Hochiminh Stock Exchange (HOSE) on Tuesday, Luong Thi My Hanh, deputy general director of Vietnam Fund Management Company (VFM), said VFM in March wrote to the State Securities Commission asking for permission to open the VN30 ETF to track the VN30 index of the southern bourse.

VFM expects to launch an initial public offering (IPO) of the fund in the second or third quarter. The fund will be listed on the stock market at the end of the third quarter.

Unlike previous active funds, the VN30 ETF will follow developments of the VN30 index consisting of 30 stocks with the highest market capitalization and liquidity on HOSE.

ETFs are a choice of investors who prefer sectors such as banking, real estate and production.

For instance, they can invest in the banking sector of an ETF’s portfolio rather than buy specific bank shares. With ETFs, investors can join and withdraw quickly, Hanh explained.

ETFs have more advantages than other funds such as transparency and low management fees. The funds also have better liquidity as investors can transact on the primary and secondary markets.

At present, two large foreign ETFs, FTSE and VNM, are making strong impacts on the local market. Established in late 2009, the two funds now have the combined scale of around US$700-800 million compared to the initial figure of US$50 million each.

The figures showed that investors had strong interest in ETFs, Hanh said.

In addition, domestic ETFs will not have to follow the rule on foreign ownership limit in listed enterprises. However, investors of Vietnamese ETFs are regulated to open accounts in the country.

Vietnam, Russia look to US$10 billion in bilateral trade

Vietnam and Russia will intensify economic cooperation in order to realize their two-way trade target of US$10 billion by 2020, heard an investment and trade promotion conference in HCMC on Tuesday.

Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Do Thang Hai told the conference that trade between the two countries was still below potential of the nations but more opportunities were out there to foster economic relations in the years to come.

Vietnam and Russia have established a strategic partnership in all fields and their two-way trade reached US$4 billion last year.

Evtukhov Viktor Leonhitdovich, Russian Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade, stressed at the conference that Vietnam was a long-established partner of Russia and that country had lowered import tariffs in recent years, especially after it joined the World Trade Organization in 2012.

Leonhitdovich believed lower import tariffs would encourage Vietnamese firms to increase their exports to Russia.

Enterprises attending the conference were also informed of the supporting policies for exports to Russia, goods imports from Vietnam, legal procedures for opening branches or seeking potential partners.

At the event, Vietnam National Textile and Garment Group (Vinatex) and Russian firms struck an agreement to develop a Moscow-HCMC light industrial park, which is also known as Evarz Park, in Moscow.

The group also inked a deal with Incentra Co. to lease space for showcasing products of Vinatex at the Hanoi-Moscow trading and hotel complex.

VAMC finds bad debt settlement tough

A leader of Vietnam Asset Management Company (VAMC) has admitted that the country’s leading debt trading firm is struggling with settlement of the bad debt it has bought since October last year.

One of the reasons behind the difficulties is that Government Decree 53/2013/ND-CP on VAMC establishment does not give much help to facilitating operations of the firm, which is mandated to buy debt from local banks via bond sales.

In the first quarter of this year, VAMC purchased over VND3.9 trillion worth of original debt with around VND3 trillion worth of special bonds issued, meeting only 3% of its bad debt buying target for 2014.

VAMC collected just around VND300 billion from debt settlements during the period, less than 1% of the debt value.

Experts said VAMC by nature was just a place for banks to keep their bad debt temporarily. The enterprise does not tackle debt directly and just acts as a broker or a debt management service provider.

Experts said the process of settling bad debt usually takes three to seven years.

In Vietnam, the bad debt trading market is just in its infancy while other factors such as the legal framework and manpower are still insufficient, thus affecting the bad debt settlement process.

Therefore, VAMC’s target to buy VND100-150 trillion worth of bad debt in 2014 is seen completely infeasible. Notably, the figure is even bigger than the bad debt announced in official reports of credit institutions.

If VAMC could buy VND150 trillion worth of bad debt this year, banks will have to deduct up to VND30 trillion for their bad debt reserve funds. The figure is higher than the combined profit of all lenders last year.

Another concern is that State-owned enterprises and companies in close connection with banks account for a large ratio of total bad debt. If bad debt is settled drastically, lending irregularities may be exposed.

As of the end of the first quarter, VAMC bought around VND42.8 trillion worth of original debt at VND35.4 trillion.

Leather, shoe exports to rise

Viet Nam has great opportunities to increase leather and footwear exports by this year end, according to experts.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) announced that the leather and footwear exports of Viet Nam in the first four months of this year has gained a year-on-year increase of 22 per cent to US$2.85 billion because exports of these products to traditional markets such as the US, Japan and the EU has had a sharp increase.

Vietnamese footwear products to some small markets in the East Europe and South America also surged sharply, the ministry noted.

The exports to these markets are stable at present, the ministry stated. Therefore, many leather and footwear export enterprises so far have export contracts until August. The enterprises have promoted cooperation to increase localisation rates of export products.

The Viet Nam Leather and Footwear Association said that the leather and footwear industries have chances of increasing exports because of advantages in markets, preferential tax and the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement that is expected to be signed this year.

The association added that the enterprises should have specific production and business plans and upgrade production technology and line to avail the opportunities of increasing exports.

The enterprises should shift their marketing activities based on market research and increase trade promotion activities, the association suggested.

According to the MoIT, the world has a trend of changing from wooden interior products to leather interior products, so that is a great chance for the local leather and footwear export business. Thus, the enterprises should improve management ability, build trademark and develop key export products to obtain economic efficiency at a maximum level.

The footwear industry is strolling towards an export target of $12 billion for this year.

The industry's export turnover was $10.3 billion in 2013, up 18 per cent from the previous year.

CPI rises slightly on growing supply

The country's consumer price index (CPI) in May inched up 0.2 per cent against last month amid rising supply and low demand, according to the General Statistics Office (GSO).

Compared with the first five months last year, the index rose 4.72 per cent.

Director of the GSO's Price Statistics Department Nguyen Duc Thang said that CPI had not risen much in May for the past three years as prices of necessities remained stable and the food supply in the world market was abundant, while domestic demand was not high.

During 2006-11, however, CPI often rose between 0.6 and 3.91 per cent in May, Thang said.

The price of food, which accounts for a large proportion of the 11-good basket used to calculate the country's CPI, declined 0.51 per cent as the Mekong Delta region saw a bumper harvest and Vietnamese rice exports declined due to the increasing supply from Thailand.

According to the GSO, 10 of the 11 consumer goods and services in the CPI basket registered price hikes during the month, ranging from 0.01 to 0.43 per cent.

The highest rise, recorded in the housing and construction materials group, followed the central bank's recent launch of a preferential credit package for the property market.

The educational group experienced the lowest rise, an inconsequential 0.01 per cent, followed by medicine and health care services with an increase of only 0.06 per cent.

Although summer is starting, the price increase of beverages was lower than the country's average CPI rise, only 0.13 per cent.

In May, domestic gold prices continued to drop by 0.85 per cent against the previous month, in line with the overall world downward trend, while the US dollar also experienced a slight decrease of 0.04 per cent.

Animal-feed makers rely on bran imports

Viet Nam produces around four million tonnes of rice bran a year from milling rice, but since no rice bran extract is produced domestically, animal-feed producers depend completely on imports.

According to the customs department, feed producers imported 267,000 tonnes of rice and wheat bran as of April 23, almost a third more year-on-year, at a cost of US$55 million.

The Viet Nam Animal Feed Association said firms want to use domestic rice bran, but cannot since bran oxidises and curdles within a few days. The decomposition of its nutritive substances can have a harmful impact on animals, poultry, fish and shrimp, it said.

The rice bran extract – which they import mostly from India and Indonesia – costs more than bran, but Viet Nam does not produce the former.

The extraction of oil from bran does not change its protein content, but can increase its shelf life by up to six months.

Nguyen Dang Vang, chairman of the Viet Nam Animal Breeding Association, said for other high-protein items like soybean, fishmeal, and palm kernel meal too, the country has to depend on imports.

Last year Viet Nam imported 750,000 tonnes of rice bran, rice bran extraction and wheat bran.

Nguyen Thanh Binh, deputy chairman of the feed industry association, said the country has for long been contented with the increase in exports of rice and other farm produce, forgetting that it also spends a lot of money to import animal-feed inputs.

"We can use items available in the domestic market to produce feed," he told Saigon Tiep Thi newspaper.

Viet Nam earned $2.95 billion from rice exports but spent $4 billion to import animal feed and inputs for feed production last year, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Industry experts said the country needs to take steps to develop local production of animal-feed inputs.

Vietnamese goods to be showcased in EU

Vietnamese Goods Week will be organised in Germany and France in June and September respectively, as another step towards penetrating the demanding European market.

According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade's European Market Department, approximately 20 Vietnamese firms will attend these events, showcasing products such as seafood, rice, wood products as well as textiles and garments in the supermarkets of Germany's Metro Cash&Carry and France's Casino Group.

During the events, business forums and direct meetings between the participating Vietnamese firms and the representatives of Metro Cash&Carry and Casino will also be organised, the department said.

Over the last few years, Vietnamese Goods Weeks, organised in several European countries, have created opportunities for domestic firms to advertise their products directly to the distributors in the bloc, and allowed updating of information about the EU's requirements and better understanding of the consumers' tastes and demands there.

Vietnamese Trade Counsellor in Germany Nguyen Thien Binh said that the Vietnamese Goods Weeks organised there earlier helped many Vietnamese products such as vegetables, fruits and dry goods, to enter the Metro Cash&Carry supermarket chain.

During a recent conference in HCM City, head of the department Dang Hoang Hai advised Vietnamese firms to work directly with and export their products to the EU supermarkets.

Once their products entered these chains, he said, they could enter other distribution channels there.

According to the department, the EU is one of Viet Nam's important export markets. Last year, the bilateral trade reached $33.6 billion, a yearly increase of 16 per cent, of which Viet Nam's exports accounted for $24.4 billion.

In the first four months of this year, Viet Nam exported $9 billion worth of goods to the bloc, up 12 per cent year-on-year.

Viet Nam mainly exports apparel, footwear, coffee, furniture and seafood to the EU, while the EU exports machinery, medicines, aircraft, equipment and vehicles to Viet Nam.

Vinh Phuc works to lure tourists

The northern province of Vinh Phuc is striving to offer more services to tourists from inside and outside the country, who are expected to arrive in droves during the forthcoming peak season.

The province has upgraded its facilities at tourist destinations to attract more visitors to see its striking landscapes and enjoy its rich cultural tradition. Street vendors and beggars hassling visitors have been banned.

Endowed with natural resources and a mild climate all year round, the province’s mountainous town of Tam Dao has welcomed nearly 70,000 tourist arrivals since early this year. Its resort area offers over 1,400 rooms at reasonable rates.

Sightseers can find a list of attractions, resorts and spiritual hotspots worth visiting in a recently-issued tour guide.

Among them is the Tay Thien site, sprawling over 100ha based in Tam Dao national park. It is home to dozens of religious buildings that can be reached by 40 electric cars and over 50 cable cabins carrying 2,500 passengers per hour.

While touring Dai Lai – an artificial lake with a surface water area of 530ha in Phuc Yen township, vacationers will be able to discover its wonderful scenery amidst ranges of mountains and ever-green forests.

Moreover, they can enjoy their holidays at the high-end Flamingo Dai Lai ecological resort that offers a series of restaurants, villas and recreational spaces.

In May, more than 68,200 tourists brought Dai Lai 21.2 billion VND (1 million USD) in revenue.

In the coming time, Vinh Phuc will invest more in Vinh Son snake village, Ha Tien pagoda and Binh Son ancient tower.

So far this year, Vinh Phuc has recorded over 1.2 million tourist visits with more than 10,300 from overseas, fetching more than 499 billion VND (23.7 billion USD).-

Central coastal region focuses on developing maritime economy

The central coastal region is eyeing a long-term strategy on developing the maritime economy in order to fully tap its abundant sea resources.

The region comprises nine provinces from Thua Thien-Hue to Binh Thuan with a total coastline length of more than 1,400km and the two large fishing grounds of Hoang Sa and Truong Sa.

However, due to out-of-date fishing and preservation methods, the seafood output and value still remain low.

In 2012, the region’s fisheries sector posted 27.3 trillion VND (1.28 billion USD) in production value, accounting for 34 percent of the total agro-fishery-forestry output but just nearly 5 percent of the total export value of the region.

To further develop the maritime economy, Director of the Vietnam Institute of Economics Tran Dinh Thien said that it is necessary for the region to have a long-term strategy for off-shore fishing and sea food processing to create its special products.

Meanwhile, local authorities have called for more support policy for fishermen, particularly credit access, so that they can build modern vessels for off-shore fishing.

According to Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Vu Van Tam, the Ministry has submitted to the government a proposal on building five modern fishery logistics centres in the central region.-

Generali Vietnam Life appoints Chung Ba Phuong as CEO

Generali Vietnam Life Insurance Co., Ltd. last week announced the appointment of Chung Ba Phuong as the new Chief Executive Officer.

Phuong takes over this position from Simon Lam, who was responsible for building the Generali Group’s business in Vietnam, and has moved to take the position of Chief Executive Officer of Generali Insurance Thailand.

According to Sergio Di Caro, regional officer for Asia, Generali was heavily committed to growing its operations in South East Asia.

“Vietnam is one of our high priority countries in the region. Given his extensive market knowledge and industry experience, Phuong is very well qualified to lead the expansion of our life insurance business in Vietnam,” said Caro.

Phuong has over two decades of experience in the financial services sector. He joins Generali Vietnam from a leading foreign-owned Vietnam life insurance company where he held the position of CEO and general director.

Phuong was previously a senior vice president at the Manulife-Sinochem Life Insurance Company and was responsible for Chinese business operations with responsibility for products, marketing and corporate business.

Prior to that, he worked at one of the largest global insurance groups (responsible for Vietnam, Indonesia, India, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and South Korea) and Towers Watson.

Phuong holds a Bachelor Degree in Commerce from the University of Manitoba. He is fellow of the Canadian Institute of Actuaries, Institute of Actuaries of India and the Society of Actuaries.

According to Phuong, Generali Vietnam has over two years of successful development and serves more than 40,000 customers and insured members of over two hundred Vietnamese and foreign companies.

“With strong financial support and expertise from the Generali Group, the firm commitment of Generali Vietnam’s staff, I will do my best to maintain and enhance the momentum created during the past few years to help Generali Vietnam hold a solid market position in Vietnam, while making greater efforts to provide customers with innovative policies, new values and diversified financial solutions in order to satisfy increasingly demanding customer needs,” said Phuong.

He added that Vietnam has become one of the fastest growing markets with great potential. The high-premium growth rate and increasing GDP growth has helped Vietnam attract many foreign-owned insurance companies.

“Generali, one of the world’s leading groups, strongly believes in a great future, and will continue implementing appropriate strategies for this 90 million people market,” he added.

Generali Vietnam Life Insurance Limited Liability Company (Generali Vietnam) received its licence in April 20th 2011. The company opened its Hanoi office in June last year and a second sales office in Ho Chi Minh City in April 2014.

5 Vietnamese firms recognized by WEF as Global Growth Companies

Five Vietnamese firms are among the 20 companies in East Asia that have been nominated as the Global Growth Companies by the World Economic Forum, the Geneva-based not-for-profit foundation announced on Tuesday.

The Global Growth Companies in East Asia consists of 20 of the region’s most dynamic and high-growth companies, the WEF said in a statement.

“These companies are considered trailblazers, shapers and innovators that are committed to improving the state of their region and the world,” the document reads.

The Vietnamese nominees are AA Corporation, The Gioi Di Dong, VNG Corporation, Thien Minh Group, and Minh Phu Seafood Corp, according to the WEF.

Other selected companies include Acleda Bank Plc. (Cambodia); WanaArtha Life (Indonesia); (Japan); Kakaku.com (Japan); Hearts United Group Co., Ltd. (Japan); Cross Company Inc. (Japan); Tokushinkai Group (Japan); LINE Corporation (Japan); Ferrotec Corporation (Japan); Myan Shwe Pyi Tractors Ltd. (Myanmar); Capital Diamond Star Group (Myanmar); Manila Water Company Inc. (Philippines); Banyan Tree Holdings Ltd. (Singapore); ILJIN Group (South Korea); Fila Inc. (South Korea); and Humax Electronics Co., Ltd. (South Korea).

“The World Economic Forum is proud to recognize these 20 champions that are at the forefront of driving responsible economic growth, job creation and entrepreneurism in East Asia,” said David Aikman, Managing Director and Head of New Champions at the WEF.

“We look forward to the active and dynamic role they will play at our meeting in Manila, working with the region’s leaders to foster inclusive, sustainable growth in the region.”

WEF said Global Growth Companies are fast-growing companies with the clear potential to become global economic leaders.

“The 20 nominated East Asian firms represent a broad cross section of industrial sectors, but share in common a track record in exceeding industry standards in revenue growth, promotion of innovative business practices and demonstration of leadership in corporate citizenship,” it remarked.

The 23rd World Economic Forum on East Asia, hosted with the support of the government of the Philippines, took place in Manila from May 21 to 23 under the theme of “Leveraging Growth for Equitable Progress.”

Incorporated as a not-for-profit foundation in 1971 and headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, the WEF is an international institution committed to improving the state of the world through public-private cooperation in the spirit of global citizenship.

It engages with business, political, academic and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas.

Source: VEF/VNA/VNS/VOV/SGT/SGGP/Dantri/VIR

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