BUSINESS IN BRIEF 4/9

Major wood processing factory operational in Nghe An province

A major wood processing factory of Vietnam’s TH Group was inaugurated in the industrial park of Nghia Dan district, central Nghe An province, on September 3. 

Politburo member and Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue attended the inaugural ceremony. 

The factory, constructed from February 2013 with the consultation of Bac A Bank, is part of a 300- million-USD project on building a wood processing factory and sustainably developing forests in Nghe An. 

During phase I of the project, about 100 million USD was spent on building wood slat and medium-density fibreboard (MDF) processing lines. They have a respective capacity of 12,000 cubic metres and 130,000 cubic metres per year. 

Phase II will have a total investment of 200 million USD to raise the lines’ output to 40,000 cubic metres and 400,000 cubic metres each year, respectively. 

The factory is equipped with advanced and “green” technologies which allow its products to meet strict standards of the US, the EU and Japan for domestic sale and export. 

It is hoped to generate a pre-tax profit of 7-8 million USD and pay around 2 million USD in tax for Nghe An every year. 

Meanwhile, the May Forestry Joint Stock Company – the project’s direct investor – signed contracts with timber suppliers to ensure simultaneous afforestation, forest protection and sustainable exploitation.

Viet Nam Fair opens in Japan

Twenty-two Vietnamese businesses are selling various kinds of products at a fair opened in Saitama prefecture, Japan , on September 2.

On sale are Vietnamese key staples such as farm produce, processed food, beverages, apparels, footwear, electronic tools and household commodities.

The Viet Nam Fair, held by the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the Vietnamese Embassy in Japan , and the Japanese retail group AEON, enables Vietnamese firms to make inroads in the market and expand relations with Japanese trade partners.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Vietnamese Ambassador to Japan Nguyen Quoc Cuong said the fair was first held at supermarkets of AEON, which is expected to bring more goods from Vietnam to Japan and vice versa.

Trade Counselor to Japan Nguyen Trung Dung described the fair as a shortcut to promote trade in Japan .

Chief representative of AEON Group in Vietnam Oyama Nagahisa told reporters from the Vietnam News Agency that he believes the Southeast Asian country will become an attractive market in the future with young population and high purchasing demand.

AEON will support Vietnamese enterprises to develop marketing strategies, he confirmed.

Deputy director of the Asia-Pacific Market Department under the Ministry of Industry and Trade Le An Hai said AEON is a Japanese leading retail group with annual revenues of up to tens of billions of USD and a network spreading around the world.

The Viet Nam Fair, thus, creates a brilliant opportunity for Vietnamese businesses to penetrate into the market.

The event will run until September 4 with expected participation of around 30,000 visitors.

Major cities asked to prioritise social housing

The Ministry of Construction has asked Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to formulate policies that promote social housing development amid a rising demand from citizens for products in this segment. 

Although the ministry said the property market was exhibiting stable growth, unbalanced developments in supply of high-end apartments and demand of social housing apartments existed as a fear. The ministry forecast that the market might see a glut in high-end apartments and a shortage in housing for low-income earners. 

In Hanoi and HCM City, the ministry urged that housing development planning be hastened as a base for investment decisions of housing projects to ensure adequate supply following the market demand and prevent unbalanced market development. 

“The two major cities needed to pay special attention and raise policies for social housing developments,” the ministry said. 

According to the ministry’s Housing and Real Estate Management Department, successful transactions had slowed down last month. 

Initial figures reported by the developers and trading floors in July, saw 1,250 successful transactions in Hanoi, declining by 3.85 percent over the previous month. In the southern city, there were some 1,200 successful transactions in July, falling by 4 percent. 

Meanwhile, the apartment supply continued to rise, mainly in the high-end and medium segments while there was a scarcity of apartments for low-income earners to be released for sale. 

According to Tran Ngoc Quang, general secretary of the Vietnam Real Estate Association, rising supply but slowdown in transactions reflected problems in the structure of the supply and demand of the realty market. 

The association proposed to the management agencies that they have policies to better control the situation towards market demands, Quang said. 

In addition, the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) and the Ministry of Construction needed to pay attention to the credit for the property market together with policies to encourage investment in housing projects for low-income earners, the association said. 

With an anticipated oversupply of luxury apartments and a shortage of housing for low-income earners, the construction ministry proposed to the SBV to closely watch the credit flow into luxury property projects and tighten the management of loans to prevent bad debts from rising. 

At the end of the second quarter of this year, total outstanding loans in the property business had hit more than 425 trillion VND (19 billion USD), rising by nearly 36 percent from the end of 2014 and 8.2 percent from the end of 2015, according to statistics of the central bank. 

Bad debts in the property sector accounted for 3.7 percent of the sector’s total outstanding loans.

Bac Lieu earns 288 million USD from seafood exports

The Mekong Delta province of Bac Lieu earned 288 million USD from seafood exports in the first eight months of 2016, fulfilling 55 percent of its yearly target, but dropping nearly 5 percent compared to the same period last year. 

According to the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, despite the fall in exports, the locality’s seafood production has remained stable. 

Currently, the price of material seafood for processing is rising as some traders have bought and exported raw materials, which affected small businesses. However, larger enterprises have managed to collect between 650-900 tonnes of seafood materials per week for processing to ensure their operation. 

Meanwhile, the local power sector has pledged to ensure their supply in the rest of the year, while banks also vowed to provide capital for businesses to expand their production, according to the department. 

At the same time, management agencies of Bac Lieu have made great efforts to update local exporters with market developments and give them advices on how to adjust their production. 

Local seafood processors and exporters have applied measures to implement their commitments on enhancing their products’ quality, the department added.

EAEU-Vietnam FTA confirmed to take effect in October

The free trade agreement (FTA) between the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and Vietnam will take effect on October 5, Minister for Trade at the Eurasian Economic Commission Board Veronika Nikishina has said. 

She made the confirmation at the second Eastern Economic Forum held in Russia’s Vladivostok, noting that the two sides finished the ratification of the deal and it will come into force after 60 days. 

The EAEU-Vietnam FTA features the two sides’ obligations pertaining to such spheres as trade, services, investment and movement of natural persons. 

With the formation of the EAEU-Vietnam free trade area, bilateral trade can increase from 4 billion USD at present to 8-10 billion USD. EAEU exporters can save about 40 million USD in tax in the first year the pact takes effect, according to the Eurasian Economic Commission. 

Under the agreement, Vietnam will immediately remove import tariffs on 59 percent of the goods from the EAEU, including meat products, wheat flour, alcohol, mechanical equipment and steel products. The tariffs on another 30 percent of goods will be gradually reduced to 0 percent in the transitional period. 

Indonesia and Singapore also suggested similar FTAs with the EAEU, but procedures will be more complicated, Nikishina said. 

The EAEU consists of Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan. The union and Vietnam signed the agreement in Kazakhstan on May 29, 2015 after eight official rounds of negotiations.

Vietnam, India boost cooperation in potential fields

Vietnam and India will boost cooperation in potential sectors like garment and textile, machinery, agriculture, and health and pharmaceuticals, according to Bui Trung Thuong, head of Vietnam’s trade mission in India. 

In the garment and textile sector, India has been an important provider of materials for Vietnam’s garment and textile industry, especially after the ASEAN-India Trade in Goods Agreement ( AITIG ) took effect in 2010, with India’s export in the field to Vietnam reaching 402 million USD in 2015, Thuong said. 

Vietnam could become one of India’s markets for automobiles, machinery, spare parts and equipment, having greeted representatives from Tata Motors, Mahindra, Eicher and Escort companies who sought to discuss partnerships. 

Regarding agriculture, Vietnam and India also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on cooperation in veterinary and an agreement on building tra fish farms. The two sides also exchanged information on plant quarantine and sanitary standards to boost export of products of animal origins. 

The two countries will continue cooperation in agriculture, especially in biotechnology, gardening, post-harvest technology and agricultural mechanization, the trade representative noted. 

India has strengths in healthcare and pharmaceuticals and it sold medicines and pharmaceuticals worth 2.3 billion USD to Vietnam in 2015. The two countries are working together in the application of information technology in control and prevention of new diseases and strengthening population work and family planning. 

The strong development in trade recorded in recent years has yet reflected the two countries’ potential and still fell short of expectation, Thuong said. 

He expressed his hope that the two sides will solve some remaining problems such as removing tariff barriers, helping enterprises invest in the respective country and providing assistance in solving problems in the implementation of projects. 

According to the General Department of Vietnam Customs, the trade value between India and Vietnam increased from 1.01 billion USD in 2006 to 5.56 billion USD in 2015, in which Vietnam’s export to India rose 18 times, from 138 million USD in 2006 to 2.47 billion USD in 2015.

Firms with resumed operations rise sharply in eight months

Businesses have put more confidence in Vietnam’s economic prospect, many economists said, pointing to the surge in the newly registered capital and the number of companies resuming operations between January and August. 

The General Statistics Office said 73,404 new enterprises with a registered capital of 567.9 trillion VND (25.46 billion USD) were set up during the eight months, up 19.7 percent and 50.9 percent from a year earlier, respectively. The capital per company averaged 7.7 billion VND (345,270 USD). 

As many as 18,711 firms, which suspended their activities due to difficulties, have resumed operations during the period, rising by 65.1 percent year on year. 

The increase of new firms was recorded in almost all sectors over the eight months, such as real estate (up 101.3 percent in company number and 268.4 percent in registered capital), mining (8.8 percent and 247 percent), and information and communications (15.2 percent and 183 percent). 

Meanwhile, Vietnamese enterprises registered to add 1.024 quadrillion VND (45.9 billon USD) to their existing capital in the first eight months. 

However, the number of new enterprises in August (9,282) declined 3.5 percent from July as August coincided with the seventh lunar month, traditionally called the Ghost Month which hampered people’s intention to establish new companies. 

While 7,479 companies were dissolved, 40,419 others suspended their operations in eight months, up 18.9 percent and 3.5 percent from the same period last year, the statistics office added.

Phu Quoc improves infrastructure to lure investment

Phu Quoc island district in the southern province of Kien Giang is focusing on improving infrastructure, especially roads, sea ports and airports, to attract more investors.

According to Huynh Quang Hung, Vice Chairman of the district People’s Committee, the locality is also investing in upgrading water and electricity supply systems and waste treatment facilities. It has also prepared land for investors and provided favourable conditions for them to speed up their projects.

The National Tourism Year 2016 – Phu Quoc – Mekong Delta is a big opportunity for Phu Quoc to promote itself as a tourist paradise, thus attracting domestic and foreign investors, he noted.

By August this year, the island had 244 valid investment projects with a combined capital of over 314 trillion VND (14 billion USD), according to the Phu Quoc Economic Zone Management Board. 

Most projects focus on infrastructure, urban areas, sea-based economy, tourism, trade and service. 

Of 244 licenced projects, 28 projects capitalised at 35 trillion VND (1.57 billion USD) became operational and 22 others worth 35.6 trillion VND (1.6 billion USD) are underway.

Vietnam to be honorary country at upcoming China-ASEAN Expo

Vietnam will be the honorary country at the 13th China-ASEAN Expo (CAEXPO 2016), slated for September 11-14 in China’s Nanning city.

The country will also join host China in chairing various activities marking the 25th founding anniversary of the ASEAN-China dialogue relationship.

This will be a good opportunity for Vietnam to affirm its role in ASEAN-China relations, said Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Do Thang Hai at a press conference on September 1. 

The country continues to send the biggest number of businesses to CAEXPO among the 10 ASEAN nations. As many as 137 companies from 19 provinces and cities nationwide will showcase their products at 237 booths covering over 5,000 square metres. 

The Vietnamese goods to be displayed include agro-forestry-fishery products, processed food, electric and electronic devices, wood products, handicrafts and consumer goods. 

All of them boast huge potential for export to China and other ASEAN countries, Hai said. 

Within the expo’s framework, Vietnam will also take part in other activities such as the 13th Chia-ASEAN Business and Investment Summit, a roundtable dialogue between a Vietnamese Government leader and entrepreneurs of Vietnam and China, and an investment promotion workshop between ASEAN and China.

Coal output cut in new master plan

The total capital demand of the domestic coal sector by 2030 would be around 269 trillion VND (11.9 billion USD), 2.5 times less compared with the previous master plan. 

This information was released at a ceremony to announce a new master development plan for the coal sector by 2020 with a vision towards 2030 held on August 31 in Hanoi.

Trinh Duc Duy, Deputy Director of the Coal Industry Department under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, said that the average capital demand would be 17.9 trillion VND a year. In the period of 2016-20, the capital demand would be 109 trillion VND in total. 

The capital would be focused on investments and the expansion of coal projects. It could be arranged from a combination of different sources such as commercial loans, preferential loans and mobilising on the stock market.

Under the new master plan, exploitation in the northeast coal basin would be completed by 2020 to ensure reserves and natural resources. The Red River delta coal basin, the exploitation at Nam Thinh and a part of Nam Phu 2 in the northern Thai Binh Province's Tien Hai District would be completed before the year of 2020. 

Nguyen Khac Tho, Deputy Director of the ministry's General Directorate of Energy said the ministry announced the new master plan was because the demand for coal in sectors that used a lot of energy such as thermal electricity and cement had seen many changes.

"The new plan has updates to suit the sector's current reality though the old plan has so far met with the energy demands of the country," Tho added.

Accordingly, coal output would be sharply reduced from 60-65 million tonnes by 2020 under the old plan to 47-50 million tonnes in the new one. The coal output would also be reduced by 2030 from 75 million tonnes to 55-57 million tonnes.

The reduction in coal output would be one of the reasons for lower capital demand, he said.

He said that the new plan has taken into account several plans to ensure the capital by mobilising build-operate-transfer (BOT) and public-private partnership (PPP) models.

"The target of the coal sector is to meet the coal demand of local households and to ensure energy security," he added.

The sector also targeted to reduce coal losses to 20 percent in underground coal mines and in open-pit coal mining to 5 percent by 2020. 

The plan aimed to exploit, process and use coal effectively to save the natural resource. The Government would give priority to domestic coal demand and consider gradually reducing overall exports as well as exporting types of coal that are not in high demand in the country.

The plan also pays attention to promoting the application of advanced technologies in coal exploration, exploitation and processing for the sector's sustainable development. 

The deputy director also affirmed that firms would be encouraged to import coal if they meet with regulations. The imports would not affect the National Coal and Minerals Industries Holding Group (Vinacomin).

Ministry of Transport cracks down on taxi firms

The Ministry of Transport has required the Hanoi and HCM City transport departments to promote management, inspections and penalisation of under nine-seat automobiles under transport contracts, Uber taxi and Grab taxi. 

This action is apart of the ministry's pilot plan on applying science and technology for the management and connection of activities transporting passengers under contracts.

Under the plan, enterprises that have been granted licenses for passenger transport services under contract would use an app for booking tickets via mobile phone for their customers. Initially, the plan was for five provinces and cities, including Hanoi, HCM City, Da Nang, Quang Ninh and Khanh Hoa.

So far, the ministry has received the plan on applying science and technology for the management and connection of transport activities from Grab Taxi Ltd Company and Anh Duong Vietnam Joint Stock Company. It has also had guidance for those companies to implement their plans.

However, some other household transport services have not complied with existing regulations, including having no badge of contract, signing contracts with companies providing software that was not suitable with the existing regulations and not paying taxes.

For Uber Taxi, the ministry has worked with company often and also guided it to build a pilot plan on applying science and technology for the management and connection of transport activities but at present, the ministry and relevant state offices have not received a plan from Uber Taxi.

Based on the practice, the ministry has ordered the transport departments of Hanoi and HCM City to continue guiding transport companies in the two major cities in implementing their plans on applying technology for the management and connection of transport activities and also to provide a list of under nine-seat cars granted badges of contract for tax offices to promote inspection of tax payments, reported zing news.

The Hanoi and HCM City transport departments have directed inspectors of the departments to coordinate with police and tax offices in the two cities in promoting the inspection and penalisation for cases in violation, especially the case of using software not suitable with the current regulations.

The ministry has required the two departments to report on the results of the management, inspection and penalisation of under nine-seat cars, Uber Taxi and Grab Taxi before September 20, 2016.

Hanoi ranks third in FDI attraction

Hanoi ranked third among localities nationwide in attracting foreign direct investment (FDI), heard a conference held by the municipal People’s Committee in Hanoi on August 31.

According to the municipal Department of Planning and Investment, the city attracted 374 FDI projects so far this year, with 256 newly-licensed projects and 118 capital-added projects with total registered capital of 2.1 billion USD, surpassing this years’ target. 

The new investments bring the total FDI projects in the city to 3,686 with total capital of 24.07 billion USD.

The city’s industrial production in the first eight months of this year increased 7.8 percent compared to the same period last year while the Consumer Price Index rose 2.25 percent year on year.

Leaders of departments at the event discussed ways to help businesses access capital while promoting administrative reform to improve the investment climate, exports and promote start-ups in the locality.

The city will also bolster information technology application, and introduce a one-stop-shop mechanism in public services.

Seafood catches reach 2 million tonnes in eight months

Fishermen brought ashore 2 million tonnes of seafood in the first eight months of 2016, up 1.1 percent over the same period last year thanks to favourable weather and stable fuel price. 

According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), combined tuna catches of three major tuna fishing hubs of Phu Yen, Khanh Hoa and Binh Dinh so far this year were over 14,000 tonnes. 

Phu Yen’s fishing fleet caught 3,681 tonnes of tuna, a decrease of 6.5 percent year on year, while Khanh Hoa accounted for over 3,000 tonnes, down 5 percent, and Binh Dinh, 7,289 tonnes, a rise of 6 percent. 

However, the drop in offshore tuna catch is normal for the season, coupled with the current low tuna price. 

Meanwhile, aquaculture output in August was estimated at 338,000 tonnes, a slight increase of 0.3 percent year on year, pushing the figure for the first eight months of this year to 2.3 million tonnes, up 1.2 percent over the same time last year, the ministry reported. 

Notably, tra fish farming has shrunk due to difficulties in market and price. The area of tra fish raising ponds in the Mekong Delta region was down 2.6 percent year on year to 4,505 hectares, but output still grew 4.4 percent to reach 741,071 tonnes thanks to high yield in some localities. 

At the same time, the area of shrimp farms was expanded due to favourable weather conditions. Mekong Delta localities’ white leg shrimp farming area was 55,254 hectares, a rise of 17.3 percent year on year with an output of more than 107,000 tonnes, while the area of black tiger shrimp farms was 561,504 hectares, up 2.1 percent, producing nearly 136,000 tonnes.

Equitisation plans of 48 SOEs receive approval

A total of 48 State-owned enterprises, including six corporations, had their equitisation plans approved as of August 20. 

According to the Corporate Finance Department under the Finance Ministry, the total real value of the enterprises is nearly 32 trillion VND (1.44 billion USD), of which 23.2 trillion VND (1.04 billion USD) belongs to the State. 

Under the approved equitisation plans, the SOEs will have a combined charter capital of over 23 trillion VND (1.03 billion USD), of which the State holds more than 11 trillion VND (495 million USD). 

Meanwhile, nearly 7.5 trillion VND (337.5 million USD) of shares will be sold to strategic investors, 342 billion VND to their workers, 6.7 billion VND to trade unions, and over 4.1 trillion VND will be put up for initial public offering. 

During January-August, SOEs and the State Capital Investment Corporation (SCIC) divested over 2.9 trillion VND (130.5 million USD) and brought in over 5.7 trillion VND (256.5 million USD) in the process. 

According to the department, in the first eight months of 2016, the equitisation process of State-owned enterprises has yet to meet expectations. 

However, the efficiency of operations of equitised businesses has been improved. 

In the time ahead, it is necessary to speed up the restructuring and increase the management quality and operation efficiency of State-owned enterprises, and increase inspections and supervisions over the operation of groups and corporations, according to the department. 

SOEs will be urged to continue divesting their capital from non-core operations while the State will withdraw more capital from enterprises which the State does not need to hold ownership.

Japanese aquaculture firms eye Vietnamese market

Miyagi prefecture of Japan will assist local enterprises specialising in producing and processing aquatic products to make inroads into the Vietnamese market.

Since the incident in the Fukushima nuclear power plant No.1 in 2011, enterprises in Miyagi have met with difficulties in exporting seafood to other countries.

Now, the locality is seeking new markets in Asia, including Vietnam.

The local authorities have planned to invite press agencies, including those from Vietnam to make fact-finding tours of production and processing establishments in Inshinomaki and Minami Sanriku towns in November.

According to Japan’s Nikkei newspaper, Japan’s foods have made a strong impression on Vietnamese consumers, especially seafood thanks to the country’s advanced preserving and processing technology.

As scheduled, about 10 aquaculture enterprises from Miyagi will take part in a food fair in Ho Chi Minh City in February next year, aiming to promote the locality’s seafood, towards selling those in not only retail stores but also supermarkets in Vietnam. 

On this occasion, the Miyagi businesses will launch booths at Japan’s Aeon mall in the city.

Enterprises in Miyagi are receiving support from the Japanese Government to organise promotion programmes for aquatic products and restore their production after the earthquake disaster in 2011 in the country, which caused serious damage in the locality.

In 2015, Miyagy’s aquatic product output hit 250,000 tonnes, almost equal to those in 2010.-

Vietnam works on corporate governance code

Vietnam is developing a corporate governance code for listed firms in order to help local firms attract more capital and make them more competitive in an environment of increasing regional economic integration. 

With the aim to improve corporate governance in Vietnam, IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is helping the State Securities Commission of Vietnam (SSC) to develop such code, said the two sides in a workshop on August 29 in Ha n oi, to kick off the development process. 

Participants included representatives from SSC, the two stock exchanges HNX and HOSE, and other stakeholders. The workshop provided an update on corporate governance codes from around the world and facilitated discussion on the relevant approach for Vietnam. 

Pham Hong Son, SSC Deputy Chairman said "the corporate governance code will help strengthen competitiveness of Vietnamese listed firms through adoption of internationally recognized corporate governance practices." 

Son also said the code would guide listed firms on how to adopt best corporate governance practices that go beyond regulatory compliance for better capital-market integration with Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries and globally. 

Participants heard experiences of code development from Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries and regional nations such as China, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, and Malaysia. 

Chris Razook, IFC Regional Head for Corporate Governance Advisor, East Asia and the Pacific said though there some firms in Vietnam doing really well, however, compared to the region, the market's corporate governance was still lagging behind in scorecard rankings in areas such as disclosure practices, board structure and functioning, and controlling and risk practices. 

According to the ASEAN corporate governance scorecard, Vietnam ranked the lowest among six regional countries of Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand between 2012 and 2014. 

To the local firms, the code would provide them with a benchmark, said Chris, adding that good governance standard was the attraction that eye investors, boost their confidence to invest in the firm, especially when they want to have more international business partners, who would watch the change closely for their investment. 

We will work with the SSC to set up the code as well as to educate about it to the market, said Chris, who thought more than just setting the code, it was more important to encourage firms to apply the code for their better future, and to "make it really work in a company" .

The code is expected to be launched by mid-2017. IFC's support for the development of a corporate governance code is part of its overall efforts to promote corporate governance in Vietnam in partnership with the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs of Switzerland (SECO). 

IFC has contributed to the adoption of 95 corporate governance codes, laws, and regulations in more than 30 countries worldwide.-VNA

Thirteen car brands on display at VMS 2016

Thirteen car manufacturers with the latest models and technologies of various categories, from private cars to commercial vehicles, will be showcased at the Vietnam Motor Show (VMS) 2016. 

The annual exhibition, whose theme is "Accelerate to Celebrate," is expected to welcome 150,000 visitors to the Culture Place on 91 Tran Hung Dao Street, Hanoi, between October 5 and 9. 

Spread over a total display area of 15,000sq.m., visitors will have the opportunity to not only enjoy the experience, but also purchase high quality products at reasonable prices. 

The well-known car brands include Chevrolet, Ford, Fuso and Honda, as well as Hyundai, Isuzu, Kamaz and Kia, along with Lexus, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Peugeot and Toyota, which will display the latest market trends, from the sporty to elegant. 

They will also showcase their impressive practical knowledge of modern automobile technologies, such as auto driving, fuel efficiency, environmental friendly system and in-car multi-entertainment integrated system. 

VMS 2016 will also introduce an overwhelming number of small-size and medium-size cars, which most consumers will be able to afford. 

"In this 12th show, we are focusing on medium-class models to satisfy the increasing demands of the Vietnamese in this range. Our expectation is to enable consumers to live a more convenient and comfortable life through all the brilliant, yet affordable options", a representative from Vi e t n am Automobile Manufacturer's Association (VAMA), said. 

Besides this, a wide range of models will be introduced, such as SUV, sedan, family, and commercial, as well as luxury or specialised cars and pickup trucks. Fuso, Hyundai and Kazma are expected to bring more choices to trading partners in the transportation business using truck lines and specialised vehicles. 

At VMS 2016, visitors will also find several car accessories, auto spare parts, insurance companies and banks in the large display area. 

VAMA, the exhibition's organiser, said promotions and interactive activities are being held during the event. All visitors can avail GrabCar's services with two rides back and forth to the event. 

The Vietnamese automobile industry sold 28,004 units in July, marking a 16 percent increase over the previous month, according to VAMA. 

Among them, 17,514 units were passenger cars, up 36 percent over June. Meanwhile, 9,334 units were commercial vehicles and 1,156 units were special-purpose vehicles, down 10 percent and two per cent, respectively. 

With this strong growth of the Vietnamese automobile market in recent months, it's projected to achieve total sales of about 300,000 units this year, including imported ones, because the prices of many models with low engine displacement have fallen since July 1 and the demand for vehicles usually increases towards the end of the year.

Vinamilk among Asia Pacific's 50 best listed firms

Vietnam Dairy Products or Vinamilk "breaks the ice" to grab a spot in the top 50 best listed firms in the Asia Pacific region, Forbes Magazine has said. 

The magazine said this was the first ever mention of Vietnam on the list, being compiled since 2005, and called it "the big news", adding that there were a total of 21 new entrants to this year's list, and the Vietnamese dairy behemoth totally deserves it.

"Since going public in 2003, Vietnam Dairy Products [has become] the country's largest dairy company and the fifth largest public company listed on the Ho Chi Minh City Stock Exchange," Forbes said.

"It is also the country's first stock market heavyweight to lift its foreign ownership limit past 49 percent, which helped push its share price up 20 percent from July 1 through August 19."

Currently, foreign investors hold 49 percent of its shares, while 45 percent of the stock is owned by the State and 6 percent is owned by domestic individuals and organizations in Vinamilk.

As the country's largest dairy firm, Vinamilk stock (VNM) was always in the top three in the domestic stock market. Vinamilk reaches 43 countries with 250-270 million USD in total export revenue per year.

Since 2005, Forbes has been selecting 50 firms each year in the Asia Pacific region for the Fabulous 50 list to identify the corporate stars of the region.

The list included the most firms from China at 22, eight from India and five from the Republic of Korea, along with others in the region.

According to Forbes, they tracked a pool of 1,524 public companies that have at least 1.7 billion USD in annual revenue. Firms with more than 50 percent state-ownership were crossed out as the goal was to highlight entrepreneurial outfits, not ones living off government connections," Forbes explained.

Hanoi to arrange 119 areas selling safe farm produce

The Hanoi Agriculture Trade Promotion Centre will zone off 119 areas in inner Hanoi to showcase safe farm produce and specialities of the northern region from September 9-15. 

Director of the centre Nguyen Van Chi said over 100 kinds of safe farm produce and specialities from many northern localities will be display during the week, which aims to help consumers identify safe food. 

It will offer a good chance for enterprises and distributors to share experience and seek partnerships, as well as promote their products, contributing to enhancing the food safety management and bringing safe products to consumers, he said. 

A seminar on organic food and a workshop focusing on ways to address difficulties facing safe food production will be also organised.

Industrial production index rise 6.9 percent in eight months

Vietnam’s industrial production index (IPI) in August grew 7.3 percent month on month and posted a 6.9 percent rise in the first eight months of 2016, lower than the 9.8 percent rate recorded in the same period last year due to a continuous downturn in production of the mining, processing and manufacturing industries. 

According to the General Statistics Office (GSO), in the January-August period, the IPI of the mining industry fell 3.8 percent, while the production of crude oil and natural gas dropped 5.5 percent. 

At the same time, the IPI of the pharmaceuticals, pharmaceutical chemistry, leather and chemical industries rose modestly between 2.6-5.4 percent. 

Meanwhile, a surge of 16.9 percent was seen in the IPI of the heavy metal industry with, followed by the textile industry with 15.5 percent, engined vehicles production with 15.3 percent, and electronic, computer and optical products with 14.1 percent. 

In the reviewed period, the production of some industrial products soared compared to the same period last year, with the highest rise in television at 83.2 percent, steel sheet at 22.3 percent, iron and crude steel at 15.9 percent, and cement at 15.2 percent. 

Particularly, crude oil exploitation was down 7.9 percent, while decreases of 9.1 percent and 9.6 percent were recorded in the production of NPK fertilizer and mobile phones, respectively. 

The GSO also reported that the central province of Quang Nam posted the highest IPI rise at 32.2 percent, followed by the northern province of Thai Nguyen with 31.1 percent; Hai Phong, 16.3 percent; Da Nang, 11.5 percent; and Can Tho, 11.4 percent. The IPI of Binh Duong, Dong Nai, Bac Ninh and Hai Duong provinces as well as Ho Chi Minh City was up between 6.8 and 8.9 percent. 

The office also revealed that as of August 1, inventory index of the processing and manufacturing sectors expanded 8.9 percent year on year. 

Low inventory was seen in textile, metal, chemistry and chemical products, pharmaceuticals and pharmaceutical chemistry, and leather. 

However, the index escalated 130 percent in electronic products, computers and optical products, 30.9 percent in engined vehicles, 26.4 percent in paper and paper products, 24.4 percent in rubber and plastic products, and 20.7 percent in other nonmetallic minerals, reported the office.

Companies to buy salt overstock from farmers

Nine companies have registered to buy all 95,000 tonnes of salt inventory from farmers in HCM City's Can Gio District, according to the city's Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Tran Ngoc Ho, deputy director of the department, said that salt trading companies would pay a price that would provide a profit equal to 30 per cent of farmers' production price.

Earlier last month, the city's People's Committee told the departments of Agriculture and Rural Development as well as Industry and Trade to ask several companies to buy salt from farmers in Can Gio District.

The farmers had a good harvest in the 2015-16 salt producing season but faced a price decline, resulting in extra salt in stock.

Companies that buy salt from farmers will receive a 60 per cent reduction on interest rate of loans. The purchasing period will end on October 1.

In the 2015-16 salt producing season, Can Gio farmers produced more than 140,000 tonnes, according to the district's People's Committee.

Of the figure, farmers have sold more than 45,000 tonnes, including 6,000 tonnes purchased by salt trading companies.

The price of salt fell from VND60,000 (US$2.7) per 100 kilos at the beginning of this year to VND20,000 ($0.9) per 100 kilos at the end of last month.

Huynh Khanh Duy, who produces salt in an area of 4ha in Can Gio's Ly Nhon Commune, said he had harvested about 400 tonnes of salt in the 2015-16 salt producing season.

Duy said he had sold only 50 tonnes because of low prices and had to store the remaining salt to wait for an increase of price.

With a coastline of 23 km, Can Gio has favourable conditions for making salt. The district has 727 households that produce salt on a total area of 1,671 hectares.  

Tax refunds to be accelerated

The tax watchdog is striving to increase the percentage of tax reimbursements processed through the "refund first, check later" regime, aiming to speed up refunds that would be beneficial for businesses, according to Le Thi Duyen Hai, director of the Tax Declaration and Refund Department.

Hai said that the "refund-first-check-later" reimbursement was expected to account for at least 80 per cent of refunds, adding that the tax watchdog will make efforts to prevent businesses from taking advantage of legal gaps to get tax refunds.

The application of online tax refunds would also be promoted, Hai said.

As of November, online tax refunds would be applied in five cities and provinces, including Ha Noi, HCM City, northern port city of Hai Phong and southern Binh Duong and Ðong Nai provinces, Hai said, adding that e-tax refunds were more complicated and that it would take more time to complete the online procedures. By the end of 2017, 95 per cent of provinces and cities nationwide would use online tax return services.

Currently, online tax submissions and payments already accounted for 95 per cent of all submissions.

Statistics from the General Department of Taxation revealed that businesses received VND58 trillion (US$2.6 billion) in value-added tax refunds in the first seven months of this year, while a total of VND12 trillion in claimed refunds were rejected.

Refund for Formosa law-compliant

Hai said at Wednesday's conference of the General Department of Taxation that the tax refund for Hung Nghiep Formosa Ha Tinh Steel Company was compliant with the Law on Value Added Tax.

Since the company started investing in Ha Tinh Province in 2009, Formosa has received a total of VND14.6 trillion in tax refunds, more than VND10.6 trillion of which were refunded for taxes Formosa had already paid for its imported equipment and materials.

The remainder of the refund was for value added taxes that Formosa's local contractors had paid.

The Taiwan-invested steel project, worth nearly $10 billion in investment, has already paid $500 million in compensation for causing sea pollution off four central provinces of Viet Nam that caused mass fish deaths in April, said Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Tran Hong Ha, on August 30.

Nation has positive enterprise development in eight months

Viet Nam has gained good results in the development of enterprises for the first eight months of this year, according to the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI).

During the first eight months, there were 73,404 newly registered enterprises, an increase of 19.7 per cent compared with the same period last year, said the MPI's General Statistic Office (GSO).

The total registered capital of those enterprises for production and business reached VND567.9 trillion (US$25.5 billion), 50.9 per cent higher than the same period last year, reported the office. The average registered capital for each enterprise rose year-on-year 26 per cent to VND7.7 billion.

In the first eight months, the real estate industry had the highest growth in a number of newly-registered enterprises and newly-registered capital at 101.3 per cent and 268.4 per cent, respectively, in comparison with the same period last year.

Other industries that achieved year-on-year high growth in the number of newly-registered enterprises and newly-registered capital included mining with 8.8 per cent and 247 per cent, manufacturing and processing with 24 per cent and 106.7 per cent, and information and telecommunication with 15.2 per cent and 183 per cent, respectively.

Meanwhile, the office said the number of newly-registered enterprises in August reduced 3.5 per cent to 9,282 units year-on-year though the total of newly-registered capital surged by 2.6 per cent to VND80 trillion.

The reason behind the temporary reduction in new enterprises was that August is also the seventh month of the lunar year, the ghost month, so the people dislike starting a business in that month, the office said. But the higher registered capital and average capital for each enterprise showed that investors had confidence in the positive prospects of the domestic economy.

The office also reported in August, the nation had 2,005 enterprises restarting their business, a month-on-month increase of 11.1 per cent. The figure brought the total number of recovering enterprises in the first eight months of this year to 18,711 units, 65.1 per cent higher than the same period last year.

However, due to high competition, the number of enterprises stopping their operation in the first eight months reached 7,479 units, a year-on-year increase of 18.9 per cent, of which 93.2 per cent were enterprises with capital under VND10 billion.

In eight months, 40,419 enterprises suspended their operation, a year-on-year surge of 3.5 per cent. 

VEF/VNA/VNS/VOV/SGT/SGGP/Dantri/VET/VIR

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