BUSINESS IN BRIEF 18/7

Ha Long Bay airport set to open next spring

If you’ve always fancied a trip to Ha Long Bay but are not a fan of road travel, a new option is floating in the distance.

Local officials have announced that an international airport near the bay will be opened at the end of March next year, according to a Hanoi Moi report.

The airport, also the first private facility in Vietnam, will land on Van Don Island around 50 kilometers (31 miles) from the famous bay.

Official details are not yet available, but the US$330 million project is designed to receive two million arrivals a year by 2020, and there are plans to expand the capacity to five million by 2030.

Vietnam’s government approved the project in 2014. A group of South Korean investors was originally assigned to build the airport, but after an early exit in 2015, local real estate conglomerate Sun Group took over.

Another Vietnamese company is also developing a US$2 billion casino complex on the island.

Ha Long Bay was named a UNESCO world heritage site in 1994, and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Vietnam.

Visitor numbers rose 23% on-year from January-March to 944,000, including more than 800,000 foreigners, according to official figures.

The bay was used to film the recent Hollywood blockbuster "Kong: Skull Island", and has ben raved about by many travel bloggers.

Fish, fishery exports to Japan could reach levels not seen since 2014

According to the latest statistics from the Vietnam Association of Seafood Producers and Exporters, fish and fishery exports for Vietnam to Japan during the six months leading up to July tallied in at US$590 million.

If exports for the second half remain as strong as the first— fish and fishery exports for the year could touch as high US$1.18 billion, just shy of the total exports for 2014 of US$1.21 billion. 

Meanwhile, the Association is urging its members to get in compliance with the country’s laws governing food safety and hygiene or risk being shut out of the lucrative rebounding Japanese market.

According to a newly issued Decree 55, which became effective July 1, commercial fisheries must comply with several conditions as spelled out in the statute, said Nguyen Hoai Nam, deputy general secretary of the Association.

These are the minimum standards that the government deems essential to ensure fishery products entering commerce are safe for human consumption and will meet the rigid requirements of both the Vietnamese and Japanese market, among others.

Most notably fisheries must implement the new regulations and technical standards on food safety as stated and be certified by the pertinent government authorities for their local province as having complied.

The certification is designed to meet the requirements of markets like the US, EU, China and Republic of Korea, which require the Vietnam government to furnish a list of companies eligible to export to it, said Le Anh Ngoc.

Mr Ngoc, who is the deputy head of quality assurance at the National Agro-Forestry-Fisheries Quality Assurance Department, said the Japanese market differs in the sense that it does not require the list but alternatively directly inspects all consignments of fish and fishery products at port of entry.

In the past, far too many Vietnamese shipments of fish and fishery products did not pass muster with Japanese inspectors for excessive levels of antibiotics such as chloramphenicol, enrofloxacine, and sulfadiazine.

The new Decree 55 specifically targets rectifying this problem, noted Mr Ngoc.

In 2016, the total fish and fishery imports for the globe totalled US$109.6 billion with Japan listed as the second largest importer at US$10.8 billion behind the American market at US$16.4 billion, according to the best estimates available.

Meanwhile, Vietnamese fish and fishery exporters shipped approximately US$1 billion of products to the Japanese market, which shows that there is a massive potential market in Japan for the segment.

Or stated another way, the Vietnam fish and fishery segment could grow by US$9 billion or nine-fold in just the Japanese market alone— if it were the sole foreign supplier, a monumental potential for growth. 

Vietnam considers allowing foreigners to open savings accounts

The State Bank of Vietnam is drafting a new circular that will allow non-residents with presence in the country to make deposits in both the Vietnamese dong and foreign currency at local banks without residency requirement.

The central bank is soliciting feedback for the proposal, which will benefit foreign individuals or organizations working and living in Vietnam, even though they have no permanent resident status.

Under the current law, non-residents in Vietnam have to meet strict requirements to be able to save their money at local credit institutions.

For deposits in the Vietnamese dong, foreigners have to provide such documents as work permit, labor contract and salary statement. In the meantime, local banks only accept savings in foreign currency for expats who have lived in Vietnam for at least 12 months and whose visa remains valid.

Under the proposed law, the non-residents will be able to start depositing at local banks using money from their payment accounts.

The relaxed rule will contribute to the country’s policy of encouraging cashless payment and the management over the foreign currency market, according to the central bank. It will help curb the monetary speculation on the market and ensure the legal rights and interest for non-residents that have presence in Vietnam.

Local experts have hailed the proposition, saying that if really implemented, the rule will allow local banks to attract the idle funds from the expat community in Vietnam.

According the draft circular, the non-residential organizations are branches, representative offices, diplomatic agencies and consulates in Vietnam.

The individuals with no residence are foreigners who work for the above entities; those who are on business, healthcare or travel trips in Vietnam; and who stay in the country fewer than 12 months.

Ho Chi Minh city supports startups

Ho Chi Minh City has established a number of support and consultancy centers to help startups as part of its startup support program. The establishment of more than 20,000 enterprises in the first half of this year has proved the effectiveness of this program.

here are several co-working spaces in Ho Chi Minh City including Start, WORK Saigon, Cityhub, TheVentures, and Dreamplex. In June, the Ho Chi Minh City Center of Supporting and Enterprises Development launched a Startup Co-Working Space to provide a new, professional, modern, convenient, and friendly working place for startup enterprises. 

Covering more than 800 square meters, the co-working space provides businessmen with free access to business management software, internet services, air-con, desks and chairs, refreshment bars and a reception area. 

On a weekly or monthly basis, the center organizes workshops and training courses at which experts help businesses improve their management skills or learn about new legislations, and help business access capital and take advantage of trade promotion activities in the city. The Startup Co-working Space draws many startups.

Huynh Thi My, Secretary General of the Vietnam Plastic Association said “This is a cozy, exciting, and good working place for start ups. I believe that enterprises here will reap a lot of success.”

Ho Chi Minh City has supported approximately 440 startup projects and 670 enterprises and business groups, increased links between investors, and organized a number of trade exhibitions. 

The Speedup 2017 Program that supports Startups has received 76 innovation startup projects. In the first half of this year, 20,000 enterprises with a total registered capital of VND276 trillion received business licenses.

Mr. Tran Vinh Tuyen, Vice Chairman of the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee said “We try to help enterprises with specific programs, not just capital and marketing. We created a mechanism to encourage enterprises to help one another, enterprises with capital and experience to help startup enterprises.”

Through such activities, Ho Chi Minh City hopes to have 50,000 enterprises established this year.

Thaco Truong Hai Chu Lai, the most successful business in Quang Nam

14 years after the Prime Minister signed a decision establishing the Chu Lai Open Economic Zone, many factories have been built there, making it a key economic zone in the central region. Thaco, one of the first companies to invest in the zone, is Vietnam’s largest car-maker.

In 2003 when Chu Lai Open Economic Zone was still barren land, the Truong Hai Automobile Company (Thaco Truong Hai) decided to build a plant there.

Pham Van Tai, Thaco’s Deputy Director said “14 years ago, we decided to invest in Chu Lai because it fit the company’s development strategy. At that time Chu Lai was Vietnam’s first open economic zone, offering the best preferential policies compared to other economic parks. Chu Lai had a large area of land suitable for Truong Hai to build automobile and automobile auxiliary plants.”

Thaco leads the domestic market thanks to its strategic vision. Last year, Truong Hai assembled more than 112,000 automobiles worth US$774 million. The company contributed US$629 million to the provincial budget, nearly 70% of the total.

Pham An, Deputy Director of the Management Board of Chu Lai Open Economic Zone, said that after 14 years Truong Hai’s area has expanded to 600 hectares, including a logistics centre, car and component factories, a vocational school, and a seaport. It employs 9,000 workers, 600 of them engineers.

“Truong Hai has 24 factories. It currently manufactures and distributes models for Kia of the Republic of Korea and Mazda of Japan. Over the years, especially in 2015 and 2016, Chu Lai Truong Hai contributed greatly to the growth of the province and Chu Lai Open Economic Zone,” An said.

Thaco has developed a strategic target of becoming a leading Vietnamese multi-sectoral Industry Group in ASEAN. It will focus on constructing the Truong Hai-Chu Lai Mechanical Automobile Industrial Zone through a joint venture with partners with advanced technologies. It will increase technology transfer, invest in the support industry to increase the localization rate, and participate in global value chains by exporting automobile parts and components that meet international requirements.

Mr. Tai said “All leaders of the company are well aware of the need to cut waste to reduce prices for consumers, particularly in 2018 when the tariff on CBU (Completely Built-Up) cars imported from ASEAN will be slashed to 0%. Price-cutting forces us to increase the localization rate, which is also the government’s expectation. To realize that goal, we must renew our technologies through joint ventures with major firms who will transfer technology to us.”

Thaco has created jobs for thousands of workers in Nui Thanh district. Thaco’s achievements are partly due to great support from the government and the Quang Nam administration.

Dinh Van Thu, Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee, said “Thaco has been a success in Quang Nam with its production of automobile components and assembly. Quang Nam has spoken highly of Truong Hai’s efforts and determination over the past years. Thaco’s current localization rates for buses, trucks, and cars have significantly contributed to the development strategy of Vietnam’s automobile industry. Quang Nam strongly believes in the success of Thaco in developing Vietnam’s automobile industry. Quang Nam wants to make Truong Hai-Chu Lai Mechanical Automobile Industrial Zone a national multi-purpose mechanical center and will submit that proposal to the government.”

In 2017, Truong Hai intends to produce 117,000 cars and contributed US$686 million to Quang Nam’s budget.

Vietnam, Turkey end trade talks on positive note

The 7th Turkey-Vietnam Joint Economic Council Meeting has ended on a positive note with the negotiations having laid the foundation for greatly expanded trade and investment links, according to a statement by the Turkish Labour Ministry.

vietnam, turkey end trade talks on positive note hinh 0 In the July 13 statement, Turkish Labour Minister Mehmet Muezzinoglu noted that his country’s trade with Vietnam totalled nearly US$1.96 billion in 2016 with exports of US$234 million and imports of US$1.73 billion. 

That figure he said in the statement is now expected to double by 2020 to nearly US$4 billion.

Muezzinoglu said that after two days of negotiations in the Vietnam capital city of Hanoi, major decisions were taken concerning bilateral trade on several fronts including talks on a free trade agreement.

He noted he is confident that a proposed free trade agreement to be signed between the two economies will make a significant contribution to their bilateral commercial relations.

The Minister emphasized that Turkey was in a strategic position between Europe, the Middle East and Eurasia while Vietnam has emerged as a very important logistics centre in Southeast Asia.

In addition, he said that many important decisions were concluded with respect to negotiations on matters related to customs, agriculture, visas, defence, forestry and water.

Hanoi sees 8 percent rise in visitors

Hanoi has welcomed approximately 12 million visitors since the beginning of 2017, up 8 percent from the same period last year, and earned a revenue of more than 35.2 trillion VND (1.55 billion USD), up 13 percent.

According to the municipal Department of Tourism, the city’s international arrivals rose by 14 percent to over 2.3 million.

The capital city has taken a set of measures to be named among the world’s top tourist destinations. 

It has focused on developing new high-quality tourism products and accelerating tourism promotion campaigns. It has also worked to improve local infrastructure for tourism and involve the private sector in investing in the tourism industry.

However, there are very few large recreation areas and resorts for weekend getaway in the city that are attractive enough to make the tourists stay longer and spend more. In addition, a majority of local travel agencies are small businesses that have yet to establish international reputation. Service quality and environmental issues also remained as big challenges.

To attract more holiday makers, Hanoi plans to increase cooperation with businesses and localities across the country as well as those from overseas and provide training for service providers and those working for tourism authority at all levels, particularly in terms of communications skills.

It will also send inter-sectoral teams to inspect tourism activities in the city and strictly handle violations.

Hanoi is among the top 10 destinations in the 2017 Summer Travel Trends selected by Airbnb, a US-based accommodation sharing application. 

Airbnb said Hanoi is attractive to holiday-makers as its boasts historical relic sites and special cuisine.

This year, the city aims to welcome 23.61 million travellers, a year-on-year increase of 8 percent. 

Suitable financial, monetary policies needed to promote growth

Management agencies need to focus on financial and monetary policies besides long-term solutions such as restructuring the economy, reforming State-run businesses, and developing private economy to promote economic growth in the remaining months of this year, heard a workshop in Hanoi on July 14.

Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyen The Phuong said the business and investment environment improved in the first six months of 2017 with the expansion of the gross domestic product (GDP) growth, stable macro-economy and curbed inflation.

Some restrictions such as high public debts, ineffective operation of State-run companies, and unsustainable growth of private businesses should be addressed, he said.

According to economists from the Academy of Policy and Development under the Ministry of Planning and Investment, financial and monetary policies are on the right track but they fail to catch up with reality.

Therefore, relevant agencies need to improve the management efficiency, especially the responsibilities of individuals and leaders, participants said.

They evaluated that the exchange rate controlling policy of the State Bank of Vietnam is suitable with the economic reality, noting that if the exchange rate is not controlled, it will pose negative impacts on the economic growth.

Experts suggested curbing the exchange rate amplitude between 2-3 percent to stabilise the monetary market.

According to Can Van Luc, a financial and monetary expert, the Federal Reserve (Fed) is likely to increase interest rates once more time in 2017 and twice in 2018. 

The pursuant of high economic growth target in the short run at home and the lack of sustainable growth momentums will pose a lot of risks to the macro-economy and the financia-banking system in the long term.

He recommended taking measures to expand money supply and credit growth at a reasonable level of 16-18 percent in 2017, while speeding up the restructuring of financial credit and handling of bad debts.

Meanwhile, Nguyen Thac Hoat, a representative from the financial and monetary faculty of the Academy of Policy and Development, emphasised the need to take strong actions in the coming months to achieve growth target.

It is necessary to improve the management of exchange rates and maintain low interest rates, he noted.

Other experts suggested monitoring the credit quality and strengthening management of budget collection.

Trade minister asks for diplomats’ help in expanding export markets

Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh has asked heads of Vietnam’s overseas representative agencies to pay greater attention to seeking markets for Vietnamese products.

At a meeting in Hanoi on July 14 with the heads of Vietnam’s overseas representative agencies for the 2017-2020 tenure, Minister Anh said along with expanding markets for Vietnamese goods, Vietnam’s diplomatic agencies abroad should also provide more information to the Ministry of Industry and Trade to help it build practical policies for the formation of sustainable production and export chains.

Currently, Vietnam has 21 export staples with value of 1 billion USD upwards, but the country has yet to build a value chain, thus export growth has yet to be sustainable, he said, expressing hope that the diplomats pay special attention to the two major markets of the US and EU. 

At the same time, they should seek opportunities to export more goods to China to narrow the trade gap, he said.

The minister also pointed to challenges the industry and trade sector is facing, and called for support and cooperation from diplomatic agencies.

Vietnamese Ambassador Designate to Cambodia Vu Quang Minh affirmed that the heads of diplomatic agencies abroad will cooperate with the Ministry of Industry and Trade, while working hard to contribute to the fulfillment of this year’s growth target of 6.7 percent.

Thua Thien-Hue achieves GDP growth of 7.44% in first half

The central province of Thua Thien-Hue recorded a gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate of 7.44 percent in the first half of 2017, much higher than the figure of 5.8 percent in the same period last year.

Statistics revealed at the fourth meeting of the provincial People’s Council on July 13-14 showed that the total social investment in Thu Thien-Hue reached 8,538 billion VND (376 million USD), while the state budget collection hit 3,308 billion VND (145.55 million USD), accounting for 48.3 percent of the yearly target.

In 2017, the province has focused on investing in infrastructure to serve production and economic development while protecting the environment, ensuring social welfare and addressing consequences caused by the marine environment incident.

Thanks to the province’s efforts to improve its investment and business environment and provide incentives for investors, 324 enterprises were set up in the period, with a combined registered capital of 3,772 billion VND (166 million USD), up 17.8 percent in volume and 3.65-times higher in value.

The locality also lured 21 domestic projects with total investment of over 2.2 trillion VND (96.8 million USD), and two foreign investment projects worth 64,850 USD.

The industrial production index rose 13.45 percent from a year yearlier, mainly buoyed by an increase of 2.24 times in electricity production and other key goods, including cement, garment-textiles and material construction.

In the reviewed period, Thua Thien-Hue welcomed 1.75 million arrivals, including 414,500 international visitors, up 1.9 percent and 6.76 percent year on year, respectively. The tourism sector earned 1,735 billion VND (76.34 million USD), up 8.3 percent from 2016.

In the remaining months of this year, incentives will also be offered to craft villages, cooperatives while revising legal framework to maintain domestic flights, accelerating the launch of more domestic and international flights, and developing other facilities.

The province will provide support for investors in building infrastructure at local industrial parks, building a garment-textile supporting industrial park in Phong Dien district while focusing on agricultural development and new-style rural area building.

In 2017, the province set a GPD growth target of between 8-8.5 percent, mobilise total investment of 19 trillion VND (836 million USD), and collect 6,856 billion VND (301.66 million USD) for the state budget.

Dong Nai welcomes 2 million visitors in six months

The southern province of Dong Nai served over 2 million visitors in the first six months of this year, generating revenues of nearly 640 billion VND (28.16 million USD), a respective rise of 9.4 percent and 12 percent year on year.

Of the total visitors, 1.9 million were domestic tourists and nearly 100,000 were foreigners, according to the provincial People’s Committee.

The committee attributed the rise to successful efforts in calling for investment in developing tourism products such as the cable system in Chua Chan mountain, the Lang Tre tourism area, along with Cat Tien Jungle Lodge Resort, Suoi Mo park and Vuon Xoai and Buu Long tourism areas.

At the same time, Dong Nai has chosen a number of large tourism projects for further expansion, including the Dong Nai Natural Reserve and the Buu Long tourism area.

The province is calling for investors to develop tourism on Tri An Lake, river tours between Bien Hoa-Vinh Cuu and the Da Ton Lake ecotourism area, while expanding transportation infrastructure system to improve access to major tourism destinations.

Le Kim Bang, Director of the provincial Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism said that the province targets 3.4 million tourists and tourism revenue of 1.14 trillion VND (50.17 million VND) in 2017.

RoK tops the list of foreign visitors to Thua Thien-Hue

The central province of Thua Thien Hue welcomed 414,500 international visitors in the first half of this year, up 6.76 percent year-on-year, with tourists from the Republic of Korea (RoK) topping the list.

In the period, over 97,000 Koreans visited the central locality, accounting for 26 percent of the total.

Acknowledging the increasing number of Korean visitors, the province’s investors and enterprises are paying attention to upgrading My An and Thanh Tan hot springs, which is a favourite service for Korean and Japanese tourists.  

Tran Viet Luc, head of the tourism development studies desk under the provincial Department of Tourism, said that the department has plans to invite Korean experts to help local businesses in selecting tourism products attractive to visitors from this market.

During January-June, the province’s tourism sector served a total of 1.75 million tourists, earning more than 1.7 trillion VND (76.34 million USD), up 1.9 percent and 8.3 percent from the same period last year, respectively.

This year, it aims to draw between 3.3-3.5 million tourists, with 40-45 percent being foreign visitors, generating 3.2-3.3 trillion VND (140.7-145.1 million USD), up 8 percent in number and 3 percent in revenues from 2016.

Binh Phuoc eyes hi-tech agricultural cooperation with Japan

The southern province of Binh Phuoc wants to cooperate with Japan in developing hi-tech agriculture, said a local official.

Speaking at a meeting with the Murayama Memorial Japanese Language School (JVPF – Murayama)’s HCM City branch on July 14, Secretary of the provincial Party’s Committee Nguyen Van Loi expressed his hope that the school will serve as a bridge connecting the province with Japanese enterprises in training human resources and sharing experience in developing smart agriculture.

Director of the school’s HCM City branch Vu Quang Luan suggested the province send local students to Japan to learn about hi-technology agriculture, while Japanese farmers share with the locality their hands-on experience in the field.

The school will enhance cooperation in training and connect with relevant organisations to better consume local farmers’ products, Luan said.

Loi urged agencies and sectors to facilitate the flow of Japanese investments into the province, particularly in hi-tech agriculture.

Currently, over 1,000 hectares have been zoned off for hi-tech agriculture in Loc Ninh, Hon Quang districts and Dong Xoai township to lure foreign and domestic investors.

JVPF – Murayama is a Japanese language training centre supported by the Japan-Vietnam Peace and Friendship Promotion Council (JVPF) with former Japanese Prime Minister Murayama as its president.

HCM City’s IPs draw US$384 million in investment

Export processing zones and industrial parks in Ho Chi Minh City attracted about US$384 million in investment in the first six months of 2017, up 39% year on year, including nearly US$160 million of foreign investment, a rise of 24%.

Nguyen Tan Phuoc, Vice Director of the Ho Chi Minh City Export Processing and Industrial Zone Authority (HEPZA), said that the increase in investment was attributed to the upgrade and expansion of infrastructure systems in local industrial parks (IPs) and export processing zones (EPZs).

Convenient transportation that is connected to seaports, airports and other localities is also a reason behind the success, along with achievements in administrative reform that have reduced the time for processing administrative documents by 20-50%, he said.

Le Hong Tuoi, head of HEPZA’s Office for Investment Support and Supervision, said that the Republic of Korea was the leading investor in local IPs and EPZs, making up 55% of the total investment, followed by Taiwan and Japan.

The food, supporting industry for the garment-textile sector, services and chemicals attracted most of the major projects in the first half of this year, he said.

Tuoi also revealed that in the rest of the year, the city will focus on speeding up the construction of plants and encouraging firms to develop infrastructure to remove difficulties in terms of ground and business spaces.

Meanwhile, the city will work to draw more investors, thus fulfilling its annual target of US$500 million in investment.

So far, IPs and EPZs in the city has accommodated 1,461 valid projects worth US$9.7 billion, including 551 foreign-invested projects with a total capital of US$5.5 billion.

Vietnamese clothiers, shoemakers eye Australia for expansion

Australia has a high standard of living and a population among which there is a strong demand for quality products from Asia, North America and Europe, said speakers at a recent trade conference in Hanoi.

The land Down Under can also be viewed as a pilot market for Vietnamese clothing and footwear companies with an ardent desire to expand their exports and create a global brand for themselves, said Julie Holt.

Ms Holt, who is the director of the Australia International Exhibition and Conference Group, noted this is because an increasing number of Vietnamese companies that hope to get a toehold in the US market someday use Australia as a test zone.

The investment needed by a clothier or shoemaker to expand its footprint in Australia is much more limited than that required for the US and the models of consumption are very similar.

The proximity of Vietnam to Australia is also of benefit to keeping costs such as freight, insurance and other miscellaneous expenses less than they otherwise would be trying to gain market entry into the US, added Ms Holt.

Most importantly, she said, clothiers and shoemakers need to be aware that Australians value innovative, products made in an environmentally friendly manner as well as healthy products and are willing to pay more for these goods, which stands in stark contrast to Vietnamese consumption habits.

Australians, much like Americans, are also very receptive to imported products.

It is a multicultural nation with more than 170 different nationalities whose diversity is continually growing. Approximately 92% of the population is of European origin (mostly English, Irish, Scottish, Italian and Greek), with 7% of Asian origin and 1% who identify as Indigenous Australian.

The language spoken is English and a Vietnamese company must have staff on board that can speak the language fluently to communicate with consumers, other vendors and readily grasp regulatory laws and regulations if it expects to have any chance at successful market entry.

Australians also prefer higher value quality products made from Australian wool, said Ms Holt, so it is important for clothiers to know all about what yarns to buy, how to dye wool, and finish fabrics or garments made from it.

This is a change from the cotton, acrylic and polyester materials that many Vietnamese companies are used to incorporating into their products.

Tran Thi Van from the Dong Xuan Knitting Company in turn said her company has had a great amount of success selling clothing made of wool in Australia over the past few years.

Ms Van noted that her company is currently heavily involved in establishing a supply chain focusing on purchasing wool directly from Australia for processing and reexporting finished products back to the land Down Under.

Ms Van specifically was happy to report that the wool products her company sells in Australia command a premium sales price.

Ms Van added that there is tremendous upside for clothiers and shoemakers in the Australia market as the current trade figures are miniscule in relation to their full potential.

According to statistics of the General Department of Vietnam Customs, in the first quarter of 2017, Vietnamese clothing and footwear sales in Australia were only US$42 million and US$50 million, respectively, a tiny fraction of the expansive market.

The internet loves this flowery Saigon ice cream. Do you?

Opened in January this year, Roseice Saigon has a flowery surprise for ice-cream lovers in Saigon: delicious, cold gelato in the shape of a colorful rose.

The shop has quickly won the hearts of young Saigonese with its beautiful roses with different flavors in each petal.

Earlier this week, Insider Dessert catapulted Roseice Saigon to a new level by posting a video on its Facebook page showing how its cool, colorful roses are made.

“Booking my flight to Vietnam,” Matt Greenberg wrote on Facebook, while Manisha Masani told her friends: “This is the next ice cream craze we need to try.”

If you happen to be in Saigon now, check out this ice cream shop at 64-66 Ngo Duc Ke Street in District 1 and tell the world what you think about this Saigonese version of rose ice cream.

Fish, fishery exports to Japan could reach levels not seen since 2014

According to the latest statistics from the Vietnam Association of Seafood Producers and Exporters, fish and fishery exports for Vietnam to Japan during the six months leading up to July tallied in at US$590 million.

If exports for the second half remain as strong as the first— fish and fishery exports for the year could touch as high US$1.18 billion, just shy of the total exports for 2014 of US$1.21 billion. 

Meanwhile, the Association is urging its members to get in compliance with the country’s laws governing food safety and hygiene or risk being shut out of the lucrative rebounding Japanese market.

According to a newly issued Decree 55, which became effective July 1, commercial fisheries must comply with several conditions as spelled out in the statute, said Nguyen Hoai Nam, deputy general secretary of the Association.

These are the minimum standards that the government deems essential to ensure fishery products entering commerce are safe for human consumption and will meet the rigid requirements of both the Vietnamese and Japanese market, among others.

Most notably fisheries must implement the new regulations and technical standards on food safety as stated and be certified by the pertinent government authorities for their local province as having complied.

The certification is designed to meet the requirements of markets like the US, EU, China and Republic of Korea, which require the Vietnam government to furnish a list of companies eligible to export to it, said Le Anh Ngoc.

Mr Ngoc, who is the deputy head of quality assurance at the National Agro-Forestry-Fisheries Quality Assurance Department, said the Japanese market differs in the sense that it does not require the list but alternatively directly inspects all consignments of fish and fishery products at port of entry.

In the past, far too many Vietnamese shipments of fish and fishery products did not pass muster with Japanese inspectors for excessive levels of antibiotics such as chloramphenicol, enrofloxacine, and sulfadiazine.

The new Decree 55 specifically targets rectifying this problem, noted Mr Ngoc.

In 2016, the total fish and fishery imports for the globe totalled US$109.6 billion with Japan listed as the second largest importer at US$10.8 billion behind the American market at US$16.4 billion, according to the best estimates available.

Meanwhile, Vietnamese fish and fishery exporters shipped approximately US$1 billion of products to the Japanese market, which shows that there is a massive potential market in Japan for the segment.

Or stated another way, the Vietnam fish and fishery segment could grow by US$9 billion or nine-fold in just the Japanese market alone— if it were the sole foreign supplier, a monumental potential for growth. 

Vietnam considers allowing foreigners to open savings accounts

The State Bank of Vietnam is drafting a new circular that will allow non-residents with presence in the country to make deposits in both the Vietnamese dong and foreign currency at local banks without residency requirement.

The central bank is soliciting feedback for the proposal, which will benefit foreign individuals or organizations working and living in Vietnam, even though they have no permanent resident status.

Under the current law, non-residents in Vietnam have to meet strict requirements to be able to save their money at local credit institutions.

For deposits in the Vietnamese dong, foreigners have to provide such documents as work permit, labor contract and salary statement. In the meantime, local banks only accept savings in foreign currency for expats who have lived in Vietnam for at least 12 months and whose visa remains valid.

Under the proposed law, the non-residents will be able to start depositing at local banks using money from their payment accounts.

The relaxed rule will contribute to the country’s policy of encouraging cashless payment and the management over the foreign currency market, according to the central bank. It will help curb the monetary speculation on the market and ensure the legal rights and interest for non-residents that have presence in Vietnam.

Local experts have hailed the proposition, saying that if really implemented, the rule will allow local banks to attract the idle funds from the expat community in Vietnam.

According the draft circular, the non-residential organizations are branches, representative offices, diplomatic agencies and consulates in Vietnam.

The individuals with no residence are foreigners who work for the above entities; those who are on business, healthcare or travel trips in Vietnam; and who stay in the country fewer than 12 months.

Making agriculture attractive to today’s youth

Having experienced months of negative growth due to drought, climate change, floods and saltwater intrusion, the local agriculture segment is demonstrating its inability to serve as a cornerstone of the country’s economy.

The segment can be largely characterized as farmers and processors who lack a good education, technical expertise and money to invest in the high technology that would allow them to compete profitably in the modern day global marketplace.

To be certain, the future of agriculture relies on its ability to attract the educated youth of today and create appropriate opportunities for them to participate and shape the agriculture of tomorrow.

While policy makers and industry leaders have long recognized this potential, its translation into significant benefits for previously marginalized groups, like the youth, has been far too slow.

Successfully giving effect to activities that will encourage and support more youth entering agriculture hinges on the ability of the young to fully understand the challenges that the country faces and let them shape the solutions on how best to respond.

To this end, there have been a series of seminars, workshops and surveys throughout the country during the first six months of the year directed at obtaining an understanding of the perceptions and attitudes of the youth regarding agriculture.

The insights provided by these events play a critical role in allowing policy makers and industry leaders to customize programs to best support young people’s involvement in the segment.

Interestingly, some of the observations and data collected suggest that far too many young lack information and exposure to the industry. Many of the more highly educated youth said they did not know what agriculture was or what it entailed.

While others associated agriculture only with subsistence farming, demanding work, and being poor.

Almost all the highly educated youth said they had little knowledge of opportunities in the segment, nor an adequate understanding of the variety of career choices across the agricultural value chain.

Most of youth preferred a career in one of the tertiary segments, over a career in agriculture.

The tertiary segment of the economy provides services to its consumers, which includes a wide range of businesses such as financial institutions, schools and restaurants.

It was also revealed that youth by and large were unfamiliar with the main challenges associated with agriculture, which are a shortage of arable land, a lack of access to capital, insufficient industry information, climate change, and an overall lack of interest by society in general in the industry.

There was a pervasive view among young people as well as older individuals that agriculture in Vietnam is largely an industry for uneducated individuals who do not require proper training.

As a result, educated youth tend to view agriculture as not a first choice for a career but as their last option, and consequently focus their energy on finding employment in the corporate sphere.

These impressions support the proposition by many public officials and industry leaders that there is much work to be done in repositioning the agricultural segment to become more attractive to the nation’s youth.

The agricultural value chain must transform to become far more integrated and accommodating to a diverse array of transferable skills, knowledge and expertise that these youths possess.

Technology has and will continue to revolutionize the segment, with many cutting-edge farmers already implementing precision farming methods to enhance their yields and better manage farming processes.

Farmers of the future will be using apps, drone technology and will require other innovative solutions to overcome age-old challenges.

With the youth already predisposed to technology through the high penetration of smartphones in this country and increasing access to the internet, they are truly best placed to take advantage of these exciting opportunities within the industry.

It rests with policy makers and industry leaders to show the youth of today how traditional farming methods are becoming integrated with our digitized lives throughout the agricultural value chain and convince them that agriculture is an attractive career choice.

Indonesia's Jababeka Group eyes investment in central Vietnam

Indonesia's Jababeka Group visited four central localities in Vietnam, namely Danang, Quang Nam, Thua Thien-Hue, and Quang Tri from July 10-13 to seek investment opportunities.

At meetings with local authorities, the visit focused on the possibilities of investing in urban areas, industrial parks (IPs), and modern services in these localities, which are the pioneers of IP development.

At a meeting with Quang Tri leaders, Budianto Liman, CEO of Jababeka Group, expressed interest in investing in Dong Nam Economic Zone (EZ), which is offering high incentives.

At present, many projects in Dong Nam EZ are awaiting the outcome of the My Thuy International Seaport project, which is still seeking government approval. 

About 10 projects have been registered in the EZ with a total investment capital sum of VND62.3 trillion (US$2.83 billion), focusing on seaport services, thermo-power, energy, and infrastructure.

In Thua Thien-Hue, the Indonesian group is keen on investing in an urban, industrial and service complex project in Chan May-Lang Co EZ and IPs.

At present, incentives on offer at EZs are considered the highest of their kind in Vietnam. 

The incentives include a CIT exemption for the first four years after generating taxable income, a 50% reduction in CIT for the next nine years, and a 10% CIT for the first 15 years of operation.

As the first publicly listed industrial estate developer in Indonesia, Jababeka is a leading industrial estate developer in Southeast Asia. 

Its famous projects include Kota Jababeka, Kendal Industrial Park, Park by the Bay, and Tanjung Lesung.

Ho Chi Minh city supports startups

Ho Chi Minh City has established a number of support and consultancy centers to help startups as part of its startup support program. The establishment of more than 20,000 enterprises in the first half of this year has proved the effectiveness of this program.

There are several co-working spaces in Ho Chi Minh City including Start, WORK Saigon, Cityhub, TheVentures, and Dreamplex. In June, the Ho Chi Minh City Center of Supporting and Enterprises Development launched a Startup Co-Working Space to provide a new, professional, modern, convenient, and friendly working place for startup enterprises. 

Covering more than 800 square meters, the co-working space provides businessmen with free access to business management software, internet services, air-con, desks and chairs, refreshment bars and a reception area. 

On a weekly or monthly basis, the center organizes workshops and training courses at which experts help businesses improve their management skills or learn about new legislations, and help business access capital and take advantage of trade promotion activities in the city. The Startup Co-working Space draws many startups.

Huynh Thi My, Secretary General of the Vietnam Plastic Association said “This is a cozy, exciting, and good working place for start ups. I believe that enterprises here will reap a lot of success.”

Ho Chi Minh City has supported approximately 440 startup projects and 670 enterprises and business groups, increased links between investors, and organized a number of trade exhibitions. 

The Speedup 2017 Program that supports Startups has received 76 innovation startup projects. In the first half of this year, 20,000 enterprises with a total registered capital of VND276 trillion received business licenses.

Mr. Tran Vinh Tuyen, Vice Chairman of the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee said “We try to help enterprises with specific programs, not just capital and marketing. We created a mechanism to encourage enterprises to help one another, enterprises with capital and experience to help startup enterprises.”

Through such activities, Ho Chi Minh City hopes to have 50,000 enterprises established this year.

Reference exchange rate down as week begins

The daily reference exchange rate for VND/USD was set at 22,437 VND on the first day of the week (July 17), down 8 VND from the last day of the previous week. 

With the current trading band of + /- 3 percent, the ceiling rate applied to commercial banks during the day is 23,110 VND and the floor rate 21,764 VND per USD. 

The opening hour rates at commercials saw slight fluctuations. 

Vietcombank cut both rates by 10 VND from July 14, buying the greenback at 22,690 VND and sell at 22,760 VND. 

The same rates were listed at BIDV, also down 10 VND from the rates listed on July 14. 

Meanwhile, Techcombank kept both rates unchanged at 22,680 VND (buying) and 22,780 VND (selling).

Son La-grown green mango to be shipped to Australia

Five tonnes of Son La-grown green mango will be shipped to Australia weekly by Agricare Vietnam Company after its first successful shipment of one tonne to the country. 

This is the “tuong” mango variety grown in the northern mountainous province of Son La, said Dam Quang Thang, Director of Agricare Vietnam, adding that his company decided to invest in green mango as this kind of fruit has not been popular in Australia. 

To date, only two local cooperatives in Chieng Hac commune, Yen Chau district and Hat Lat commune, Mai Son district have been granted area codes to grow green mango for export to Australia. 

If the green mango is sold well in Australia, the Plant Protection Department will work with Son La authorities to issue codes for other mango planting areas. Meanwhile, Agricare Vietnam will support farmers in production to ensure the product constantly meets strict requirements of the Australian market. 

Son La is home to 4,000 hectares of mangoes with 3,000 tonnes in yield.

Vinamilk eyes 80 trillion VND revenues by 2021

The Vietnam Dairy Products Joint-Stock Company (Vinamilk) sets a goal of earning 80 trillion VND (3.52 billion USD) in total revenue in 2021, according to its General Director Mai Kieu Lien.

Revenue from the domestic market is expected at 61 trillion VND (2.68 billion USD), making up of 75 percent of the total, while the remaining at 19 trillion VND (866 million USD) is hoped to come from overseas markets.

The company’s annual revenue growth rate in the domestic market is projected at 10 percent, she said.

In 2017 only, Vinamilk targets total revenue of 51 trillion VND (2.26 billion USD), up 8 percent against the previous year and a post-tax profit of over 9.7 trillion VND (438.6 million USD), a year-on-year increase of 4 percent. 

To achieve the goals, Lien said the company has given priority to enhancing milk quality by opening an organic dairy farm in Da Lat city, the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong in the first months of this year. 

With total investment of over 200 billion VND (8.8 million USD), the farm has more than 500 cows in the initial stage, which will increase in the coming time. It is also Vietnam’s first organic dairy farm to be certificated with European standard.

Domestic trade expected to keep rising later this year

Domestic trade is expected to continue rising this year, experts have forecast. 

Total retail and services value this year is estimated to hit 3.9 trillion VND (168.7 million USD), up more than 10 percent annually, meeting the yearly target. 

To that end, the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) will embark on 71 projects and a domestic market development scheme in combination with the campaign “Vietnamese people prioritise Vietnamese goods” for 2014-2020. 

It will also promote domestic trade, particularly during the New Year holiday and the year’s end, refine trade and distribution infrastructure and develop supply chains with a focus on farm produce. 

MoIT statistics showed that total retail and services value hiked 10.16 percent to 1.9 trillion VND (83.65 million USD) in the first half.  

Trade experts said exclusive of inflation, total retail and services value increased about 8.4 percent, higher than 4.8-7.6 percent from 2011-2016, showing that purchasing power is recovering.

Ha Long Bay airport set to open next spring, Fish, fishery exports to Japan could reach levels not seen since 2014, Vietnam considers allowing foreigners to open savings accounts, Ho Chi Minh city supports startups
 
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