BUSINESS IN BRIEF 27/2

Saigontourist appoints representative in Japan market


Saigontourist appoints representative in Japan market, S.Korean firms foraying into cosmetics market, Mining industry to be modernized, Vinalines to develop logistics centre in Hanoi

Hirose Noriko receives a certificate of acknowledgement from Pham Huy Binh, chairman of Saigontourist Holding Company, at a ceremony held in HCMC on February 22 



Saigontourist Holding Company, the country’s leading tourism enterprise, on Wednesday named Hirose Noriko from Nagoya to be a representative of the company in Japan’s market.

Hirose Noriko is a Japanese doctor with vast knowledge about Japan’s tourism market. She has had 20 years working with HCMC and Vietnam via trade, investment and tourism consultancy, and charity activities.

Noriko will assist Saigontourist to promote the tourism sector of HCMC and Vietnam to Japanese tourists. Besides, she will give consultancy for Saigontourist Travel Service Company to launch new tours in Japan for Vietnamese travelers.

Saigontourist expects to improve its services and programs to help enhance tourism cooperation between Vietnam and Japan and to bring more travel experience to tourists of the two countries.

Saigontourist has annually welcomed 100,000 Japanese tourists and organize tours for tens of thousands of travelers from Vietnam to Japan. The company has fostered ties with hundreds of leading tourism partners in Japan.

Saigontourist Holding Company, established in August 1975, currently manages over 100 hotels, resorts, restaurants and travel companies and entertainment parks in different locations nationwide. During 42 years of development, Saigontourist has strengthened its leading position in the country’s hospitality industry. It serves millions of customers each year with a revenue of more than VND19 trillion in 2016.

S.Korean firms foraying into cosmetics market

As many as 80 cosmetics and beauty care firms from South Korea will participate in a major exhibition in HCMC this June to look for importers and business opportunities in Vietnam.

Dominic Oh, CEO of Kintex, said at a press conference on February 23 that the Korean firm was joining hands with Informa and Vietnam National Trade Fair & Advertising Company (Vinexad) to organize Mekong Beauty Show 2017.

The cosmetics and beauty care products exhibition is expected to feature more than 200 companies from Europe, Korea, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Japan, Hong Kong, India and Vietnam. Particularly, said Oh, about 80 of them will come from Korea and this will be their first Vietnam visit aimed at searching for importers and distributors.

Korean cosmetics companies are keen on Vietnam as one of the most potential markets in the region, he said, for the country has achieved GDP growth of over 6% over the years and people aged less than 35 account for 60% of the Vietnamese population.

Nguyen Van Minh, vice chairman of the Vietnam Cosmetics, Essential Oils and Aromas Association, said the domestic cosmetics market had been growing rapidly, with revenue estimated at US$1.2 billion last year, a figure that had been forecast for 2020. The market’s growth has shown no signs of abating in near future.

A source from Saigon Cosmetics Company cited a study as saying that Vietnam’s cosmetics market is holding high growth potential, with double-digit growth projected for years to come. Total cosmetics revenue in 2015 was put at of VND26 trillion, the source noted.

Local consumer spending on cosmetics is now 4-5 times lower than in other regional countries. The middle class whose demand for beauty care is rising fast is expected to double to 33 million people by 2020.

The same source from Saigon Cosmetics Company said the cosmetics market is now more vibrant than ever, especially when Vietnam is taking part in a series of free trade agreements, in which import duties on beauty care goods will fall to 0-5%.

Despite such potential, local enterprises have remained weak in terms of technology and finances. As a result, the home market is currently dominated by foreign cosmetics brands. Some 90% of the market is in the hands of foreign firms while the remaining 10% is shared by domestic enterprises which mainly focus on the low-end segment.

US$ 135 million high-tech farming project begins

Deputy PM Trinh Dinh Dung ordered to start construction of a US$ 135 million high-tech farming project on organic vegetables, fruits and paddy cultivation on February 24 in Thai Binh province.

The opening ceremony of of the US$ 135 million high-tech farming project, Thai Binh province, February 24, 2017 - Photo: VGP/Xuan Tuyen

The event also drew the attendance of  Chairman of the National Assembly Office Nguyen Hanh Phuc; Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Xuan Cuong.

The high-tech farming project has a total area of over 3,000 hectares and was invested by TH Group.

It will apply start-of-the-art technologies to select varieties of vegetables, fruits, tea, and medicines.

In the short term, TH Group will pilot the project in 30 hectares in Vu Thu district to produce clean vegetables and rice in line with Global GAP and then organic standards.

The launching of the project was expected to kick-start a series of high-tech farming projects of the group in North Viet Nam.

In the long term, TH Group will work with experts of the Association of Viet Nam Organic Agriculture and foreign ones (from the U.S., the Netherlands, Israel, and New Zealand) to research on ten agricultural products, including milk, rare medicines, tea, rice, as well as Hung Yen longan.

Mining industry to be modernized

The PM has recently passed a project to renovate and modernize the mining industry by 2025.

The project aims to accelerate new scientific and technological applications to production with a view to raising labor productivity, exploitation and manufacturing efficiency; minimizing losses of natural resources; improving labor safety; and ensuring environmental protection regulations.

The project will apply modern and environmentally-friendly technologies, equipment; eliminate outdated technologies; apply transporting systems like conveyor belts, pipes, and conjugate transportation system.

Especially, the project gives a priority to research and investment in developing infrastructure and equipment.

Management of scientists and scientific organizations will be renovated.

The document also stresses the necessity to attract foreign investment and cooperation in training and information sharing on mining exploitation and processing.

Quang Nam builds Phu Ninh Mineral Water Plant

The B.O.O Phu Ninh Water Treatment Plant Joint Stock Company and Licogi 16 Joint Stock Company yesterday held a groundbreaking and signing ceremony of engineering-procurement-construction (EPC) contract to build the Phu Ninh Mineral Water Plant at Chu Lai Open Economic Zone in Quang Nam. 

The construction is built on 15 hectares of land, pluming water source from Phu Ninh Hydropower Plant and Ban Thach River to Chu Lai Open Economic Zone, Tam Ky city, Duy Xuyen, Thang Binh and Nui Thanh districts with total capacity of 300,000 cubic meters a day.

The Phu Ninh mineral water factory will exploit 100,000 cubic meters per day in the period of 2017-2024. It is expected to be doubled its capacity to 200,000 cubic meters per day from 2020 to 2025 and 300,000 cubic meters per day after 2030.

It targets to actualize plan for water supply of Quang Nam province by 2030, responding to the demand of using fresh water in the localities, and ensuring requirements on technological and quality regulations after water treatment.

The factory is built under the Build-Own-Operate (BOO) contract with an implementation period of 50 years and total investment capital of VND 1,221 billion.

As plan, the factory will begin releasing water in October, 2017.

On the same day, main investor, constructor and joint- venture companies signed a construction contract of the Phu Ninh mineral water factory.

Deputy Chairman of the Quang Nam People’s Committee Huynh Khanh Toan said that the factory will supply water source for the entire Chu Lai Open Economic Zone and Tam Thang Industry Zone and local people living in Duy Xuyen, Thang Binh, Nui Thanh district and Tam Ky city after it is scheduled to put into operation.

Long An moves to lure FDI

The Mekong Delta province of Long An has offered incentives to lure foreign direct investment (FDI), particularly in hi-tech agricultural projects and green industry.

Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Tran Van Can said local authorities have aimed to create optimal conditions for foreign investors in Vietnam while ensuring enforcement of laws.

From now to 2020, priority will be given to projects in residential urban areas, traffic and industrial infrastructure, hi-tech agriculture and the support industry, Can said, adding that the province was seeking investment in 16 projects, worth more than seven billion USD.

The province plans to continue improving its mechanisms to draw more foreign investment while reviewing and accelerating the implementation of investment projects.

The locality will provide assistance for investors in land clearance and human resource training while strengthening administrative reform, improving the investment climate and enhancing provincial competitiveness.

Long An leads the Mekong Delta region in FDI attraction, with 772 projects, worth a total of nearly six billion USD from 37 countries and territories. The projects are mostly located in industrial clusters and zones, such as Duc Hoa, Ben Luc, Can Duoc, Can Guoc and Tan An city.

Of which, 459 projects, worth a total of three billion USD have been put into operation. The countries with the most investment in the province are the UK, Taiwan (China), Japan, Singapore, the Republic of Korea, and the US.

Together, the local FD projects employ 36 percent of the province’s employed labour force, and contribute more than three trillion VND (more than 131.6 million USD) per year, accounting for 37 percent of the province’s budget collection.

Long An has zoned off some 13,500 hectares for industrial development by 2020. Currently, 5,000 hectares are ready for investment projects.

Reference exchange rate stays flat

The reference exchange rate for VND/USD was set at 22,228 VND on February 27, unchanged from the last working day of last week (February 24).

With the current +/-3 percent trading band, the ceiling rate applied to commercial banks is 22,895 VND and the floor rate, 21,561 VND per USD. 

The opening hour rates at commercial banks saw slight changes from last week. 

Vietcombank maintained its rates unchanged at 22,760 VND (buying) and 22,830 VND (selling), while BIDV reduced its buying rate by 20 VND to 22,770 VND and the selling rate was cut by 10 VND to 22,840 VND per USD.   

Techcombank revised its buying rate down by 10 VND to 22,750 VND and kept the selling rate unchanged from the end of last week at 22,850 VND per USD.

Viettel, Vietnam Airlines ink co-operation agreement

The military-run telecom group, Viettel and national carrier Vietnam Airlines signed a strategic co-operation agreement in Hanoi on February 24. 

 Under the agreement, Viettel will provide telecommunication and information products and services for Vietnam Airlines’s operations and management as well as solutions to ensure information security.

 Vietnam Airlines will provide aviation transport services and other commercial services as per Viettel’s requirements.

 Specifically, Viettel will supply ICT products and services such as fixed phones, switchboards, mobile phones, data transmission channels both inside and outside the country, TV conferencing systems, payment solutions, ticket booking and selling through bankplus and payment gate. The group would also offer management and special software supporting Vietnam Airlines’ operations, professional services, disaster recovery, big data storage, cloud computing and postal services.

 In addition, the two sides also signed a memorandum of understanding on ICT security co-operation with an aim to prevent ICT risks and deal with attacks.

 Speaking at the signing ceremony, a Vietnam Airlines representative said the cooperation aimed to ensure investment effectiveness and renewing technologies as well as improving services’ quality, reducing costs and ensuring information security.

 “The agreement, which follows successes in operations since 2013, has realised Vietnam Airlines’ targets to renew and apply ICT into our operation,” he said.

 As one of the groups building ICT security solutions to protect customers, Viettel has implemented its solutions with ministries, agencies, groups and corporations nationwide.

 Viettel has invested in creating solutions in payments, e-office, transport, education and healthcare sectors.

 The corporation hopes to contribute to the development of Vietnam’s aviation industry in the future.

Sustainable use of aquatic resources receive attention at APEC meeting

Sustainable use and development of aquatic resources in Asia-Pacific was one of the priorities in APEC fisheries cooperation highlighted at the APEC Oceans and Fisheries Working Groups (OFWG) meeting in Nha Trang, the south central province of Khanh Hoa on February 25.

The meeting also underscored the need to strengthen resilience of coastal communities against natural disasters, extreme climate conditions and complicated natural developments. 

 Sustainable use and development of aquatic resources and ensured livelihood for coastal communities are also among priorities for Vietnam, stated Tran Dinh Luan, Vice Director of the Directorate of Fisheries, who was a Vietnamese delegate to the OFWG meeting. 

He noted that Vietnam’s fisheries sector is operating in small scale and less modern compared to that of other countries in the world, adding that the policies that Vietnam has implemented to ensure sustainable livelihood for fishermen have contributed to the economic growth in localities as well as the country.

Meanwhile, Toshihiko Horiuchi from Japan said that it is crucial to improve capacity in supporting fishermen and women in coastal areas as well as fisheries community of APEC member economies.

He stressed the need to help fishermen access markets and improve their products’ quality as well as exploit sea resources in a sustainable way.

He held that APEC economies should strengthen the role of governments and local communities in managing sea areas, thus ensuring sustainable exploitation. The application of science and technology advances will also help increase productivity and ensure sustainable fishing, he added.

During the meeting, the Japanese delegation proposed various measures to develop fisheries and encourage APEC economies to build policies on fisheries.

Stock reports contest launched

The 10th Vietnam Annual Report Awards were announced in HCM City on February 23 with the focus this year on listed companies following international reporting norms.

To be considered for the awards for best annual reports by companies listed on the HCM Stock Exchange (HOSE) and Hanoi Stock Exchange (HNX), the reports must have been submitted during fiscal 2016.

Around 700 companies’ reports are expected to be entered for the awards.

“This year four leading global auditing companies, Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG, and PricewaterhouseCoopers, will judge the reports for the first time,” Le Trong Minh, chief editor of Vietnam Investment Review newspaper, one of the organisers of the awards, said.

This year’s awards encourage companies to follow the International Financial Report Standards (IFRS) and submit an English version of their reports.

Electronic versions are accepted.

The awards will continue to consider high standards, transparency, professionalism, creativity, and sustainable development, but not business performance.

Le Hai Tra, general deputy director of HOSE, said: “The awards increase firms’ awareness of the importance of a good annual report. If their annual report is of international standard, they will have a greater chance of attracting foreign capital.”

The Sustainability Reporting Awards (SRA) will continue to be given as a part of the awards.

The deadline for the awards’ entries is April 20. The results of the preliminary round will be announced in May, and the awards ceremony will be held in July.

Fund management firm Dragon Capital remains the awards’ sponsor.

APEC officials discuss possible free trade area for Asia-Pacific

Senior officials of APEC economies as well as experts and scholars have discussed the possibility of establishing a free trade area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) along with its potential impacts and difficulties facing the process.

 The workshop on realising FTAAP was held in Nha Trang, the south central province of Khanh Hoa, on February 25 as part of activities of the APEC First Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM1) and related meetings. 

The FTAAP was first mentioned in the statement of the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meetings in Hanoi in 2006. Last year, APEC leaders released the Lima Declaration on FTAAP, which emphasized the role of APEC in proposing contents related to such a free trade area with a view to gradually realise the idea. 

Besides the workshop, meetings were held during the day by nine committees and working groups, namely the Committee on Trade and Investment (CTI), Economic Committee (EC), Policy Partnership on Food Security (PPFS), Oceans and Fisheries Working Groups (OFWG), Tourism Working Group (TWG), Electronic Commerce Steering Group (ECSG), Alliance for Supply Chain Connectivity (A2C2), Competition Policy and Law Group (CPLG) and Market Access Group (MAG). 

The PPFS meeting looked at the implementation of long-term strategies, including the APEC strategic framework on rural-urban development to strengthen food security and quality growth, and the APEC programme on food security and climate change. 

Participants also gave ideas to the APEC statement that is scheduled to be discussed at the high-level dialogue on food security and sustainable agriculture adaptable to climate change slated for Can Tho in Vietnam in August. 

Meanwhile, OFWG members debated a working plan for 2017 and reviewed cooperation activities related to sea and oceans recently. They also updated each other on the progress of several initiatives, including the enhancement of capacity to deal with maritime waste and the building of a tool set to measure ecologiccal risks posed by climate change to aquatic resources, as well as the encouragement of private sector’s engagement in the preservation of maritime environment, sustainable fisheries and livelihood. 

At the same time, the MAG approved the agenda for their next meeting scheduled for August as part of the third SOM and related meetings in Ho Chi Minh City. 

Within the framework of the EC meeting, the Friends of the Chair on Strengthening Economic Legal Infrastructure focused on projects to reinforce the regional economic legal foundation, including the possibility of building an APEC cooperation framework on tackling online conflicts in transactions of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises. 

On the day, the Tourism Working Group (TWG), Electronic Commerce Steering Group (ECSG), Alliance for Supply Chain Connectivity (A2C2) convened their last meetings, with underway cooperation projects reviewed and new initiatives given. 

The TWG agreed on the organization of a roundtable on high-level policies on sustainable tourism in Ha Long city in June, while the ECSG listened to reports of some economies and international organizations on the development trend of electronic commerce. 

The Vietnamese delegation continued to show strong performance with proposals on an action plan for implementing the APEC strategic framework on rural-urban development to strengthen food security and quality growth, and the APEC programme on food security and climate change. 

Vietnamese officials also contributed ideas to the APEC manual on boosting sustainable tourism growth amidst climate change situation and the framework on facilitating cross-border electronic commerce.

APEC SOM 1 continues with series of meetings

A series of meetings took place in Nha Trang city in the central province of Khanh Hoa on February 25 within the framework of the first APEC Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM 1).

They included the meetings of the Tourism Working Group (TWG), Electronic Commerce Steering Group (ECSG), Committee on Trade and Investment (CTI), Competition Policy and Law Group (CPLG), Oceans and Fisheries Working Group (OFWG) and Market Access Group (MAG).

A workshop on the use of international tools to strengthen the enforcement of contracts in finance supply chain for global businesses was also held by the Economic Committee (EC).

Meanwhile, the three-day APEC Policy Partnership on Food Security (PPFS) Meeting, chaired by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, kicked off on the same day.

Scheduled to run from February 18 to March 3, the APEC SOM1 and related meetings comprises 56 meetings, workshops and dialogues of 38 APEC committees and working groups.

Under the theme of “Creating New Dynamism, Fostering a Shared Future,” delegates are expected to discuss and reach agreement on priorities and their contents for the 2017 APEC Year on promoting sustainable, innovative and inclusive growth, regional economic connectivity, the competitiveness of small-and medium-sized enterprises and microenterprises in the digital era, food security, and climate change adaptation.

VietGap a windfall for shrimp farmers

Led by high-tech methods, the VietGAP-compliant shrimp farming project is bringing previously unseen wealth to the southernmost province of Ca Mau.

The extensive white-legged shrimp growing model – part of the Coastal Resources for Sustainable Development Project (CRSD) – is supported by CRSD’s management board with funds from the World Bank.

In Tan Dien village, Tan Duyet Commune, Dam Doi district, the white-legged shrimp farming model is deployed at 161 households taking up over 100 hectares, and it’s expected to expand further to another 90 households.

Head of one of the piloting households, To Hoai Thuong said after four months of raising shrimp at a density of 100 shrimps per square metre, his household harvested some 2,800 kg.

“Besides the financial support, the thing we appreciate the most is technical support we have received,” Thuong told Nong thon Ngay nay (Countryside Today) newspaper. “During the whole farming process, I tried to stick to the breeding schedule that experts recommended. We also grow tilapia in the same shrimp ponds, which helps create better water circulation and limits white-spot or yellowhead diseases.”

He added that the shrimp farms were carefully constructed, following experts’ instructions to best protect the environment.

“Subtracting the expenses, I earn a profit of 200 million VND a crop (8,800 USD), considerably higher compared to when I used the traditional method,” Thuong said.

“Plus, it gives a comfortable peace of mind,” he added, referring to the new model’s benefits in reduced risks of diseases and ensured food safety of the products.

In Cai Nuoc district, the VietGap model has also brought about positive results.

Local Phan Van On said the benefit of joining the piloting project is receiving instructions from “very helpful technical experts.”

Thanks to their expertise, On said he was aware of the needs to invest into clean production that abides by VietGAP standards, “With initial investment of 70 million per hectare, each crop yield total output worth of 200 million VND (8,800 USD), for a profit of 80 million (3,500 USD). Each year I can grow two crops like this.”

According to years of research and social surveys on farming, experts file the difficulties of shrimp farming into three main groups: environment, economy, and social issues. These sorts of difficulties arise in all elements of production, from stock supply and breeding, to technical management, caring, and transporting. 

“Households joining the project will receive technical assistance, especially regarding the fact that after each crop, a month of ‘rest’ is a must-have to ‘regenerate’ the shrimp ponds, sun-drying and cover the pond’s bottoms with lime,” On said.

“Compliance with VietGAP standards not only brings us better income and profits, it also opens up a direction into sustainable production,” he added.

According to Nguyen Van Teo, an agriculture extension official in Phu Hung commune, the project reached out to some 240 households in the commune, who were beneficiaries of technical knowledge and skills regarding extensive shrimp farming.

“With the new model, a crop can yield as high as 550-600kg per ha, while with the traditional method, it’s lucky if the output is some 350kg a year,” Teo said.

According to the project assessment team, all participating households complies fully with the VietGAP standards.

These households’ production sites are all located within the area already planned for shrimp farming; environment protection standards and food safety and hygiene regulations are followed through.

Quach Ngoc Binh, deputy head of the CRDS project’s board of directors in Ca Mau province, said that the “biggest result” of the project is a change in farmers’ production mindset.

“From separate household production, farmers are now operating in groups, complying with recommended crop schedule, bearing the environmental protection and technology-integrated sustainable production in mind,” he said.

Binh also added that the project also put an emphasis on the linkages between export seafood manufacturers to ensure that farmers’ clean products will be sold and reach the market, guaranteeing their livelihoods.

The CRSD project implemented in Ca Mau province involves 10 farming zones with 2,200 households, and a total area of 2,230 hectares. The component conducting GAP (Good Agricultural Practices) in sustainable shrimp farming – implemented starting from 2012 throughout 2017 in 5 districts, Dam Doi, Cai Nuoc, Nam Can, Phu Tan, Ngoc Hien – has provided 3,000 farmers with necessary GAP knowledge and skills.

Vinalines to develop logistics centre in Hanoi


vinalines to develop logistics centre in hanoi hinh 0



The Vietnam National Shipping Lines (Vinalines) plans to develop a large-scale logistics centre in the capital city of Hanoi as part of its development strategy for  2020, thoibaotaichinhvietnam.vn reports.

The centre, which will connect major seaports such as Hai Phong, Dinh Vu and Lach Huyen through the Dinh Vu inland waterway system, is expected to meet rising demand for container transport in the north while helping reduce transportation costs and environmental pollution.

It is slated to be built at Phu Dong Port in Gia Lam district.

Logistical development is a key service industry goal for Vietnam. The target is to meet domestic demand and extend reach to the regional and global markets, under the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s draft action plan for enhancing competitiveness and developing logistics services.

The logistics services industry hopes to contribute 5 percent of the GDP and have a growth rate of 15 to 20 percent per year by 2020, according to the draft.

Improving logistics infrastructure and the capacity of logistics firms is essential, the ministry said.

VN continues providing optimal conditions for Swedish businesses

The Vietnamese Government will continue creating favourable conditions for Swedish firms, including those from Ostergotland region, to do stable and long-term business in Vietnam, particularly in green technology, processing, manufacturing, infrastructure, health care, information technology and maritime economy.

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh made the statement at a reception for visiting Elisabeth Nilsson, Governor of Sweden’s Ostergotland region, in Hanoi on February 24.

The Deputy PM expressed his delight at the development of the traditional friendship and cooperation between the two nations.

Sweden is Vietnam’s important partner in Europe, with two-way trade reaching 1.2 billion USD in 2016, Minh said, adding that numerous leading Swedish firms are operating effectively in Vietnam, such as ABB Electrolux and TetraPak.

Minh also expressed his pleasure with the cooperation between the two nations’ localities, especially between Thai Nguyen and Ostergotland, saying it will contribute to promoting bilateral relations and people-to-people exchange.

For her part, Elisabeth Nilsson said she believes that the two localiites’ collaboration will develop stronger in the future. 

She also thanked Vietnam’s support and incentives given to businesses from Ostergotland region and Sweden in general.

APEC Health Working Group convenes meeting

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Health Working Group convened its meeting in Nha Trang city, the central province of Khanh Hoa on February 23-24. 

Within the framework of the APEC first Senior Officials’ Meeting, the event attracted more than 150 delegates, including senior health officials from 21 APEC member economies, the World Health Organisation, the United Nations Population Fund, the Association of Pacific Rim Universities and representatives from related APEC forums. 

Participants lauded the theme and priorities proposed by Vietnam at the event. 

Accordingly, Vietnam suggested the theme of enhancing the medical system towards universal health coverage and sustainable development and five priorities, including updating the progress of universal health coverage, intensifying the fight against emerging epidemic diseases and antibiotic resistance, strengthening the prevention of non-communicable diseases and health of the elderly, ensuring sustainable financial mechanism to develop health care, and placing health care in every policy and reinforcing multi-sectoral cooperation.

Director of the Health Ministry’s International Cooperation Department Nguyen Thi Giang Huong, who is also Vice President of the APEC Health Working Group 2017, shared Vietnamese health sector’s experience, achievements, challenges and orientations for coming years. 

Vietnam targets achieving health insurance coverage for the whole population by 2020 and cutting check-up and treatment cost to 42 percent from 54 percent, she said. 

She also took the occasion to call for closer cooperation among member economies, ministries, agencies and the entire society to strengthen the health system and achieve universal health coverage for the goal of the Healthy Asia-Pacific 2020 to accomplish the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. 

Delegates spoke highly of the outcomes of the “Healthy Asia-Pacific” Roadmap in the region. 

The meeting set four major tasks, including fulfilling the Millennial Development Goals in line with post-2015 development programme, strengthening prevention and control of non-communicable diseases, enhancing the health system in support of universal health coverage and promoting response to emergency cases. 

The meeting also approved the establishment of the APEC Core Group to address challenges and successfully realise the “Healthy Asia-Pacific” Roadmap with the involvement of Vietnam, Peru, Australia, China, Chinese Taipei and the Philippines.

HCM City hopes for stronger cooperation with UK

Ho Chi Minh City expects to receive more cooperation and support from the UK in building a smart city and managing Public-Private Partnership (PPP) investment method, said a local official.

During a meeting with UK Secretary of State for International Trade Liam Fox on February 24, Chairman of the HCM City People’s Committee Nguyen Thanh Phong said the secretary’s visit opened up cooperation opportunities for British and Vietnamese businesses and increasing the trade value between the two nations as well as between HCM City and the UK.

Phong affirmed that HCM City welcomes and is willing to create the most optimal conditions for UK enterprises to invest in the city, particularly in the fields of transport infrastructure, health care, education and e-government development.

For his part, Fox said Vietnam is a prioritised partner of the UK and the two countries hold a lot of potentials for cooperation in many fields.

He affirmed that the UK is willing to cooperate and assist HCM City in developing an e-government and a smart city.

The UK now ranks 12th among 86 countries and territories investing in HCM City. The country is also a big trade partner of the city, with two-way trade value reaching 826 million USD in 2016.

APEC looks to sustainable tourism amid climate change

Vietnam, as the host of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)  Year 2017, has initiated a round-table conference on  sustainable tourism development policy amid climate change in June this year, said Deputy General Director of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism Ha Van Sieu. 

Sieu unveiled this information in an interview with the Vietnam News Agency’s correspondents on the sidelines of a workshop on sustainable tourism hosted by the Tourism Working Group (TWG) as part of the first APEC Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM 1) in central Khanh Hoa province on February 23. 

He said the planned conference is expected to put forth recommendations to policies and commitments of the APEC member economies to realise sustainable tourism development goals set for 2017 by the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).

According to the official, the UNWTO said tourism is both the mastermind and victim of climate change. The tourism development causes many negative impacts on the environment and climate change as it contributes 5 percent to greenhouse gas emissions from the operation of travel vehicles and hospitality. 

Besides, the tourism industry is vulnerable and sensitive to the changes in nature and climate. Climate change affects the destination, tourism season and operating expenses, he stressed. 

APEC tourism is predicted to also bring negative effects to the environment and the global climate. Therefore, developing sustainable tourism is identified as an important target of the global tourism and the member economies of APEC, Sieu added. 

Vietnam’s tourism sector has actively built policies and action programmes, and taken many measures to deal with climate change, focusing on planning development investment and forecasting work, thus rolling out appropriate solutions to the situation. 

Vietnam’s master plan strategy on tourism development is considered as one of the country’s efforts to effectively cope with issues related to climate change and environmental pollution in tourism development, Sieu stated. 

The hosting of APEC Year 2017 will offer Vietnam a change to promote the country’s tourism potential to international friends, especially representatives from APEC member economies, he said.

In 2015, the APEC member economies welcomed over 396 million visitors, accounting for 33 percent of total global tourist arrivals. Revenue from tourism activities was 59 billion USD, making up 44.5 percent of global tourism revenue. The tourism sector generated 47.9 million direct jobs. APEC Tourism Ministers have set target of welcoming 800 million international arrivals in 2025.

APEC Finance and Central Bank Deputies’ Meeting wraps up

The APEC Finance and Central Bank Deputies’ Meeting (FCBDM) successfully concluded in Nha Trang city in the central coastal province of Khanh Hoa on February 24 after two days of working.

The event was co-chaired by Vice Minister of Finance Tran Xuan Ha and Deputy Governor of the State Bank of Vietnam Nguyen Thi Hong.

The hosting of the meeting marked an important milestone in the Vietnam Chairmanship of the APEC Finance Ministers’ Process and the APEC Vietnam 2017 in general.

Addressing the event, APEC 2017 SOM Chair Bui Thanh Son said the APEC Finance Ministers’ Process plays a crucial and indispensable role in APEC cooperation. The goal set in the Cebu Action Plan to build an APEC community that is more financially integrated, transparent, resilient, and connected, is indeed vital to support strong, sustainable, inclusive and balanced growth in the region, he added.

The APEC Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM 1) and the Senior Finance Officials’ Meeting (SFOM) are also mutually supportive and complementary. There are a range of areas addressed by both SOM and SFOM, including infrastructure, infrastructure investment for food security, financial services, women’s economic empowerment, finance for micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), human resources development and disaster risk reduction.

During the two-day meeting, the delegates discussed recent economic and financial developments and outlook in the APEC region in order to identify appropriate policy responses for APEC economies to cope with the global economic volatilities as well as cooperation priorities for the 2017 APEC FMP and their implementation plans.

They discussed and agreed upon the implantation plans on the 4 priority policy themes which include: Long-term financing for infrastructure; Base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS); disaster risk financing and insurance; and financial inclusion.

The Finance and Central Bank Deputies discussed and agreed on the implementation and review of the Cebu Action Plan and the reforms of the APEC Finance Ministers’ Process and agreed that financial cooperation among APEC members should pay more focus on practical and efficient activities besides meetings and seminars.

They also tasked the APEC senior finance officials to meet tentatively in May 2017.

Canada to boost agricultural cooperation with Vietnam, India

Canadian Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Lawrence MacAulay said he will visit Vietnam and India to seek more cooperation opportunities in agriculture.

The minister made the statement at an annual conference of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture held in Ottawa recently.

He said the visit will last from February 26 to March 10 to strengthen Canada’s relationship with the Asia-Pacific region in general and Vietnam and India in particular.

He stressed that the Canadian government believe in the importance of trade and consider the Asia-Pacific region a priority market.

Via promoting global trade partnerships, the Canadian government wants to access more markets and boost the country’s exports, he added said.

The minister will be accompanied by representatives of Canadian enterprises operating in the fields of agriculture, agri-food and seafood.

As scheduled, during the visit, Lawrence MacAulay will meet his Vietnamese and Indian counterparts to discuss issues of shared interest.

According to statistic data, in 2016, Canada exported 187 million USD worth of agricultural products and seafood to Vietnam and 912 million USD to India. 

Canada is currently the world’s fifth largest agro-seafood exporter, creating 2.2 million jobs in the field.

APEC officials discuss possible free trade area for Asia-Pacific

Senior officials of APEC economies as well as experts and scholars have discussed the possibility of establishing a free trade area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) along with its potential impacts and difficulties facing the process.

 The workshop on realising FTAAP was held in Nha Trang, the south central province of Khanh Hoa, on February 25 as part of activities of the APEC First Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM1) and related meetings. 

The FTAAP was first mentioned in the statement of the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meetings in Hanoi in 2006. Last year, APEC leaders released the Lima Declaration on FTAAP, which emphasized the role of APEC in proposing contents related to such a free trade area with a view to gradually realise the idea. 

Besides the workshop, meetings were held during the day by nine committees and working groups, namely the Committee on Trade and Investment (CTI), Economic Committee (EC), Policy Partnership on Food Security (PPFS), Oceans and Fisheries Working Groups (OFWG), Tourism Working Group (TWG), Electronic Commerce Steering Group (ECSG), Alliance for Supply Chain Connectivity (A2C2), Competition Policy and Law Group (CPLG) and Market Access Group (MAG). 

The PPFS meeting looked at the implementation of long-term strategies, including the APEC strategic framework on rural-urban development to strengthen food security and quality growth, and the APEC programme on food security and climate change. 

Participants also gave ideas to the APEC statement that is scheduled to be discussed at the high-level dialogue on food security and sustainable agriculture adaptable to climate change slated for Can Tho in Vietnam in August. 

Meanwhile, OFWG members debated a working plan for 2017 and reviewed cooperation activities related to sea and oceans recently. They also updated each other on the progress of several initiatives, including the enhancement of capacity to deal with maritime waste and the building of a tool set to measure ecologiccal risks posed by climate change to aquatic resources, as well as the encouragement of private sector’s engagement in the preservation of maritime environment, sustainable fisheries and livelihood. 

At the same time, the MAG approved the agenda for their next meeting scheduled for August as part of the third SOM and related meetings in Ho Chi Minh City. 

Within the framework of the EC meeting, the Friends of the Chair on Strengthening Economic Legal Infrastructure focused on projects to reinforce the regional economic legal foundation, including the possibility of building an APEC cooperation framework on tackling online conflicts in transactions of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises. 

On the day, the Tourism Working Group (TWG), Electronic Commerce Steering Group (ECSG), Alliance for Supply Chain Connectivity (A2C2) convened their last meetings, with underway cooperation projects reviewed and new initiatives given. 

The TWG agreed on the organization of a roundtable on high-level policies on sustainable tourism in Ha Long city in June, while the ECSG listened to reports of some economies and international organizations on the development trend of electronic commerce. 

The Vietnamese delegation continued to show strong performance with proposals on an action plan for implementing the APEC strategic framework on rural-urban development to strengthen food security and quality growth, and the APEC programme on food security and climate change. 

Vietnamese officials also contributed ideas to the APEC manual on boosting sustainable tourism growth amidst climate change situation and the framework on facilitating cross-border electronic commerce.

HCM City officials approve of 15,000ha ‘New City’ in Cu Chi

Authorities in Ho Chi Minh City have expressed their support for a mega-project that will include a so-called ‘New City’ and span over 15,000 hectares in the northern part upon completion.

The developer of the project in the outlying district of Cu Chi is Tuan Chau Corporation, a conglomerate based in the northern tourist city of Ha Long.

High-ranking officials in the southern metropolis have said they back the idea to implement this grand project, pending formal approval.

All this information was mentioned by the Ho Chi Minh City Real Estate Association (HoREA) in its report submitted to the municipal Party Committee in late February, according to online newspaper VnExpress.

The project, named ‘New City,’ is expected to cover an area of 15,000 hectares, about 15 times the combined area of Phu My Hung New Urban Area in District 7 and Thu Thiem New Urban Area in District 2.

The mega-zone will become the new center of Ho Chi Minh City with the ability to adapt to climate change and tidal water, the developer was quoted as claiming.

It will also be home to a series of affordable housing projects and sufficient convenient services, providing local residents with abundant job opportunities and standard lifestyles.

The conglomerate has also proposed constructing a new avenue running along the Saigon River bank that will connect Cu Chi District and District 1.

With the total length of 59 kilometers, vehicles will be allowed to travel at an estimated velocity of 100km per hour, Tuan Chau said.

The distance between the two destinations will be shortened to a 30-minute ride, compared to the nearly one hour and a half journey at present. 

Speaking with VnExpress on February 25, president of HoREA Le Hoang Chau stated that city officials have just approved of the project, before adding that it reflects their long-term vision regarding municipal development.

The total capital for the project is projected to be up to trillions of dong (VND1 trillion = US$43.8 million), Chau added.

Vietnam takes advantages of global economic integration

Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue said Vietnam has striven to improve its economic competitiveness and build a new growth model based on creativity, productivity, quality, and efficiency.

He made the remark at a function to welcome the 2017 Spring Forum held by the Asia Business Council in Ho Chi Minh City on February 23. 

Vietnam has signed Free Trade Agreements with 56 countries and economic groups, including the WTO, ASEAN, ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand, the EU, the Eurasian Economic Union, Japan, and the Republic of Korea.

The country has signed the Trans-Pacific Partnership and will ratify the free trade agreement between ASEAN and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

Global economic integration has opened a new development space for Vietnam to deepen its cooperation with other countries, improve its production capacity, grow economically, enhance economic restructuring, and attract foreign direct investment. 

Global economic integration has helped Vietnam acquire advanced technology and managerial skills in industry, agriculture, culture, and society. 

Vietnamese businesses have opportunities to join regional value chains and production networks and shift their production to processing and manufacturing which uses advanced technology to create more added value. 

Chairperson of the Asia Business Council Lubna Olayan said the Council is impressed with Vietnam’s progress in economic recovery to achieve a stable growth rate. 

She said the Committee appreciates Vietnam’s determination to obtain sustainable and comprehensive economic growth and develop a dynamic economy with abundant qualified human resources. 

Vietnamese Ambassador to Germany Doan Xuan Hung said, “Many German people have told me that Vietnam has truly opened its market. We have to grasp opportunities and connect the businesses of both countries.”

Danish Ambassador to Vietnam Charlotte Laursen said, "We've seen steady growth in Vietnam's integration into the world economy. They are very ambitious plans. I think Vietnam would gain much from these." 

Vietnam has taken advantage of global integration for development and internal reform. The Vietnamese government is determined to improve growth and economic competitiveness. 

Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam told delegates about a government resolution outlining the key tasks Vietnam will do to reach these goals.

He said, “The resolution recognizes international standards, including indicators and targets in the WB report on the business environment and the WEF Global Competitiveness Index report. It will help raise Vietnam’s profile and generate advantages for Vietnam in international trade negotiations and attracting foreign investment.”

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

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