RoK exports to Vietnam surge 50 percent in seven months

The Republic of Korea (RoK)’s exports to Vietnam enjoyed a year-on-year surge of nearly 50 percent in the first seven months of 2017, making the Southeast Asian country the third biggest importer of RoK goods.

According to the RoK’s customs data released on August 23, the country’s export turnover to Vietnam during the January-July period reached 26.95 billion USD, a 49.8 percent increase from the same time last year.

The figure turned Vietnam into the third biggest importer of RoK products, just behind China and the US, which respectively bought 79.25 billion USD and 39.66 billion USD worth of goods from the RoK.

The RoK’s exports to Vietnam have been growing sharply since 2010, mainly due to local firms moving their production facilities to Vietnam. There is a significant increase in the shipments of raw materials and semi-finished products to Vietnam while imports of finished goods from Vietnam are also rising.

Growing industrial demand in Vietnam as well as the implementation of a free trade agreement between the two countries are other reasons behind the surge in the RoK’s exports to the country.

Vietnam has been steadily climbing up the ladder of the RoK’s export destinations, up from 21st in 2000 to 13th in 2007 and fourth in 2015. This year, it replaced Hong Kong to stand at third.-

First automation techmart opens in Hanoi

Novel technologies and achievements in the automation sector like robot technology, smart works, environment supervision equipment and automated machine in industrial production are being introduced at the Automation Techmart 2017 which opened in Hanoi on August 23.

The event, the first of its kind in the country, was jointly held by the National Agency for Science and Technology Information under the Ministry of Science and Technology and the Vietnam Automation Association (VAA).

It opens opportunities for institutes, science-technology organisations, businesses and universities to seek partners, enlarge market, and transfer technology, making contributions to the country’s industrialisation process.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Nguyen Quan, former Minister of Science and Technology and VAA Chairman, affirmed that automation technology plays a vital role in the context of industry 4.0 as it links all technology sectors and is present in production, business and daily life.

Without automation technology, Vietnam cannot realise targets of the fourth industrial revolution, Quan stressed, adding that at the mart, businesses can find advanced technologies which are suitable for their production capacity to enhance productivity and goods’ quality to compete in the region.

Automation Techmart 2017 features 40 booths, including special ones prepared by leading automation enterprises, research institutes and the Vietnam Atomic Energy Institute. 

A forum on science and automation technology and a conference on science to branch out smart technology in industry 4.0 will be held during the techmart.

The event will run until August 25.

Ninh Thuan: First wind power turbines installed

First turbines of the Dam Nai wind power project in the south central province of Ninh Thuan were installed in Ninh Hai and Thuan Bac districts on August 23.

The 40 MW project consists of 16 wind turbines, installed by Vietnam’s TSV Joint Stock Company and Singapore’s renewables developer The Blue Circle.

Turbines used for the wind farm are supplied by Spain’s Gamesa. With a capacity of 2,625 MW and a diameter of 114 metres, it is the largest turbine installed in Vietnam.

Covering an area of 9.6 hectares, the Dam Nai wind power project has a total investment of 80 million USD. Its construction began in April 2017. 

TSV Chairman Do Van Dien said that three turbines with a capacity of 8 MW are expected to be operational on October 15. 

Vietnam has great potential for wind power, estimated at about 10,000 MW, according to research by the German International Cooperation Agency (GIZ).

Only four wind power projects are operating in the country with a total capacity of 160 MW, which is far below the huge potential that exists in the country.

The Government has released its National Electricity Development Plan for 2011-2020 with a strategic priority on renewable energy, with wind power capacity targeted at 800 MW by 2020 and 6,000 MW by 2030.

FPT Japan asked for further contribution to Vietnam’s IT

FPT Japan, a branch of Vietnam’s largest software producer FPT Group, has been urged to contribute more to the Vietnamese IT sector as the world is entering the fourth industry revolution. 

The statement was made by Finance Minister Dinh Tien Dung, who is on a working visit to Japan, at a meeting with leaders and officials of FPT Japan in Tokyo on August 23. 

During the meeting, he highly valued FPT Japan’s performance in recent times, saying that its outcomes have contributing to raising Vietnam’s status in the international business environment, especially in the high-technology sector. 

The company not only earns annually 150 million USD in revenue but also provides some 800 jobs to Vietnamese and Japanese workers. 

Vietnam has seen a robust development of IT application in the finance area, he said, adding other major areas such as tax, customs and securities have applied IT.

Tran Dang Hoa, Director of FPT Japan, briefed the minister on his company’s operation with four offices in Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka and Fukuoka. The company will open a research centre in Okinawa. 

FPT Japan wishes to share experience and knowledge on IT and business environment obtained in Japan and contribute more to the homeland.

Workshop updates local banks on new internal audit standards

The Vietnam Banks Association (VNBA) and the US Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) held a workshop in Hanoi on August 23 to update local banks on the new International Professional Practices Framework (IPPF) for application in Vietnam.

VNBA Secretary General Nguyen Toan Thang said internal auditing plays a significant role in preventing risks for banks’ operations. Therefore, it is necessary to regularly improve ethical and technical standard frameworks in the field, he noted.

According to the IIA, up to 94.4 percent of those surveyed agreed with the modifications to the IPPF which took effect in January this year. However, its implementation in Vietnam faces a lot of difficulties.

Nguyen Viet Thinh, head of the internal control board from the RedSun Group, explained that knowledge about internal auditing in Vietnam is still limited while there are no appropriate legal regulations. 

In addition, there are no Vietnamese language versions of IPPF-related standards and certificates, and the IIA does not have any representatives in Vietnam. 

Experts said in order to improve auditing capacity, besides the role of the State and businesses themselves, necessary skills in auditing, risk management and fraud control along with latest standards and practices should be integrated in curricula of universities and vocational training facilities.

European firms seek investment opportunities in Hau Giang

The Mekong Delta province of Hau Giang introduced its investment attraction policies and investment opportunities to European food and beverage firms.

At a meeting on August 22 with representatives from Poland’s Euro Eco Food, Mekong Pearl JSC, and the Netherlands’ Vietnam Trade International, Vice Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Nguyen Van Tuan detailed the locality’s natural conditions, infrastructure, and incentives for investors. 

The province will create optimal conditions for investors to implement their projects in the province, Tuan said.

Ngo Phat Dat, Chairman of the Mekong Pearl JSC highlighted Hau Giang’s favourable conditions in terms of climate, human resources, and material supply for his company’s projects to produce Polish Vodka and clean chicken meat.

The Polish Vodka, fruit cider and beverage project, worth around 20 million EUR is expected to produce three – five million litres of Vodka, while the clean chicken meat project, worth 60 million EUR, will produce 30,000 tonnes of chicken meat.

Currently, Hau Giang is home to 43 domestic and foreign investment projects in local industrial zones and clusters, including the Hau River 1 Thermo Plant, AquaOne Drinking water Factory, and the White Tiger Beer Factory.

The province is calling for investment in agriculture, agricultural products processing, industry, renewable energy, and logistics.

Budget Vietjet announces Jakarta-Ho Chi Minh City route

The budget carrier Vietjet announced the direct flight connecting Indonesia’s Jakarta with Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City during a ceremony in Jakarta on August 22. 

Attending the event were Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh, Secretary of the Hanoi municipal Party Committee Hoang Trung Hai, and senior officials from the two countries. 

The daily new service, which will last nearly three hours from December 20, is expected to facilitate travelling and trade between the two countries. It will depart from Ho Chi Minh City at 8:40pm and arrive in Jakarta at 11:40pm. On return, it will leave the Indonesian city at 1:40am and land in Ho Chi Minh City at 4:40am. 

Vietjet is ready to offer convenient and friendly airline services on key international routes, connecting Vietnam’s tourist cities with countries, including Indonesia.

Binh Duong strives to become ideal destination for investors

Southern Binh Duong province has been striving to build a friendly administration and turn itself into an ideal destination for investors.

To this end, Binh Duong has spared no effort to reform public administrative procedures related to investment by cutting time for business establishment and investment registration procedures.

Furthermore, meetings between authorities and enterprises have been held regularly to receive feedback and proposals from businesses in order to help them overcome difficulties and boost production in an effective and sustainable manner.

The province has also worked to improve local infrastructure in the fields of transportation, water and power supply and environmental treatment, and to expand industrial parks and clear lands for new projects.

Local authorities plan to promote human resources development to meet demand of investors and build more residential apartments for workers in industrial parks.

Statistics showed that Binh Duong has lured over 4 billion USD in foreign direct investment (FDI) in 2016 and the first half of 2017. By July 31, the province had attracted 2,959 FDI projects, worth 27.56 billion USD, ranking second among 63 provinces and cities in terms of FDI attraction.

The manufacturing and processing sector attracted nearly 77 percent of the total FDI during the first months of this year with 1.28 billion USD pouring into 129 existing and new projects.

Chinese Taipei topped the list of 23 foreign investors that registered to invest or add capital into existing projects during the first half of 2017 with 524 million USD, accounting for 32.4 percent of the total capital. It was followed by Singapore and the Republic of Korea.

First crude oil batch comes to Nghi Son oil refinery for trial run

The Nghi Son petrochemical refinery company on August 22 received the first batch of 270,000 tonnes crude oil from Kuwait via Millennium cargo ship for its operation.

According to Nguyen Van Thi, head of the management board of Nghi Son Economic Zone and Thanh Hoa industrial parks, this is a progress in the factory’s trial operation, making it ready to provide petrochemical and refined products for domestic and foreign markets.

Alongside, ship Millennium with a maximum capacity of carrying up to 300,000 tonnes of crude oil marked a milestone of the Nghi Son seaport as the first large-ever crude oil vessel docked in Vietnam.

The Nghi Son petrochemical refinery is built in Nghi Son economic zone in TinhGia district of the central province of ThanhHoa. This is the largest national oil and gas project of the country with total investment of 9.2 billion USD.

After 44 months of installation, the project was completed on April 30, 2017. The Nghi Son Refinery and Petrochemical Company is preparing to test the factory.

As schedule, the factory will receive three vessels of crude oil from Kuwait. With its capacity of processing 10 million tonnes of crude oil per year, the Nghi Son petrochemical refinery complex is expected to help improve the self-reliance of Vietnam in producing refinery and petrochemical products, while strengthening the national energy security.

Vietnam’s resort among world’s hot new hotels

The five-star Anam resort, located in the Cam Ranh Bay of the central coastal province of Khanh Hoa, was listed among world’s hot new hotels by the travel magazine Conde Nast Traveller India.

The magazine said visitors could enjoy a true holiday and take shelter from the stressful modern life at the Anam. It noted that less than one hour by flight from the Ho Chi Minh City and near the resort city of Nha Trang, the resort has villa roofs that recall Hue’s imperial palace, along with Asian accents such as lanterns and vases and three large swimming pools.

Khanh Hoa and its resort city Nha Trang are among Vietnam’s most popular destinations thanks to beautiful beaches and islands alongside friendly locals, the safe environment and affordable prices.

This year, the province hosted several international and national events, notably the first 2017 APEC Senior Officials Meeting, Nha Trang – Khanh Hoa Beach Festival and the Ponagar Temple Festival.

It welcomed more than 2.6 million tourists in the first half of 2017, up 22 percent from the same period last year, earning more than 7.5 trillion VND (330 million USD) in revenue.

Ministry recognises 28 high-tech agricultural firms

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) has announced that it already granted certificates to 28 agricultural businesses applying high technologies. 

Of them, nine firms specialise in growing vegetables and flowers, while 8 others breed animals and 11operate in aquaculture. 

The MARD is devising a draft decision amending and supplementing Decision No. 69/2010/QD-TTg regulating jurisdiction and procedures of recognising high-tech agricultural firms. Accordingly, the provincial People’s Committees will be authorised to grant certificates to eligible enterprises. 

Apart from Hau Giang and Phu Yen high-tech agricultural areas already approved by the Prime Minister, the provinces of Thai Nguyen, Thanh Hoa, Lam Dong and Quang Ninh have built schemes to establish high-tech agricultural zones to submit to the MARD for approval. 

The southern province of Binh Duong, the central province of Khanh Hoa and Ho Chi Minh City are now home to several effective high-tech farming models although they have yet to submit documents to the Prime Minister for endorsement. 

The Trung Son high-tech agricultural zone based in the southern province of Kien Giang, which raises white-leg shrimps on an industrial scale, is the only one that has gained recognition. 

In fact, a number of high-tech agricultural zones have been developed nationwide, which focus on rice, fruit and vegetable cultivation and cattle and poultry farming up to VietGAP, VietGAPH and GlobalGAPH standards.

Vietnam Airlines subsidiary receives international award

The Noi Bai Catering Services Joint Stock Company (NCS), a subsidiary of the Vietnam Airlines Corporation, has received a “Certificate of Appreciation” from Japan’s All Nippon Airways (ANA) for its excellent in-flight meals offered on the ANA’s flights.

The NCS ranks second among more than 40 caterers worldwide providing services for the Japanese airline. It qualified all stringent criteria set by the ANA, a five-star airline in accordance to SkyTrak standards, including food safety to provide hygienic in-flight meals, taste of the meals, safe and punctual aircraft loading and unloading of service items.

The result was based on an annual hygiene checkup held by ANA’s inspection group and Medina, an independent international evaluation organisation.

Along with the ANA, the NSC is currently providing around 22,000 in-flight meals per day for over 25 domestic and foreign airlines. 

The company is carrying out a 700 billion VND (30.8 million USD) project to build a new serving processing establishment. Upon completion in the second quarter of 2018, the new establishment is able to supply 35,000 rations per day.

Vietnam needs better policies to tap solar power potential

The Vietnam Sustainable Energy Alliance (VSEA) said the country lacks a set of standards for the development of solar power, which is abundant and untapped. 

The comment was released at a VSEA conference on trends and challenges in the sector held in Hanoi on August 21.

Vietnam is among countries that enjoy the most sunlight in the world, with the Central Highlands and south central regions recording between 2,000 and 2,600 hours of sunshine every year.

However, most solar power projects in the country are small scale, with only the under construction Quang Ngai grid-tied solar power project at a large scale.

Experts said the biggest challenge is unattractive selling prices of solar energy, while investors struggle to access funds for green power development and face high costs due to the necessity to import most equipment.

Do Duc Tuong, Clean Energy Advisor at US Agency for International Development in Vietnam, said a long-term and stable policy on solar power prices is needed to encourage investment.

On the other hand, prices of solar batteries have fallen, falling from 4 USD per watt peak capacity to about 0.5 USD per watt peak capacity in the past five years.

Participants said this is a good sign for the renewable energy market, but the Government should issue technical specifications to help consumers buy quality products.

Hoang Thu Huong, deputy head of the industrial division under the Party Central Committee's Economic Commission, said electricity infrastructure in Vietnam has basically met economic development demand, but still needs further investment to promote renewable energy.

The Government is considering preferential pricing policies for the solar and wind power sectors, she added. 

Vietnam promotes e-filing system at intellectual property office

Vietnam will work harder to raise public awareness of e-filing system in intellectual property (IP) registration, which has been put into place earlier this year by the National Office of Intellectual Property of Vietnam (NOIP), said Le Ngoc Lam, NOIP deputy head. 

The system benefits both file submitters and IP agencies, Lam told Vietnam News Agency reporters on the sidelines of the 45th meeting of the Intellectual Property Experts Group (IPEG) in Ho Chi Minh City on August 22.

To intensify the e-filing system, it is necessary to ensure smooth procedures and IP agencies should make thorough preparations in order to deal with piles of dossiers, the official noted.

This is also one of the two initiatives presented by Vietnam at the IPEG meeting, together with the country’s joining of The Hague Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs in the coming time, Lam said. 

The agreement could be useful for Vietnamese enterprises which want to register for IP rights in other countries, the official said, noting that Vietnam is making all-out efforts to ensure that the country can engage in the document without having to amend relevant domestic laws. 

Since some articles of Vietnam’s Law on Intellectual Property, which has been put into operation for ten years, have not matched The Hague Agreement, Vietnam needs to raise their own voice in this regard. 

Developing an e-environment which should be strong enough to accelerate Vietnam’s participation in the agreement remains a big challenge to the country, especially in the context of the poor domestic information infrastructure, Lam noted. 

Takashi Koyama, Director of Intellectual Property Affairs Division at Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told VNA reporters that Japan has cooperated with Vietnam in terms of developing the e-filing system, which, he said, is very beneficial to users, including Japanese companies. 

He said the system helps reduce written requirements or documents, and time of examinations and trademark publication, he said, adding that stakeholders can easily obtain the right to make use of this in Vietnam so that they can invest in the country.  

Japan can cooperate with Vietnamese agencies to enhance public awareness of IP rights by adopting several measures upon their request, the official said. 

“Recently our Government focuses on education, not only the university level but also elemental school and high school or junior high-school level,” he said, adding that the move aims to equip students with knowledge about IP. 

The ongoing 45th meeting of IPEG creates a venue for APEC member economies to exchange information and experience in the IP sector. 

The delegates discussed enhancing the IP system in remote areas of APEC economies, promoting the use of the trademark registration system through technology and simplification, examining the gender gap in IP to improve outcomes for women, and enhancing access to the IP system for small and medium-sized enterprises, among others. 

They highlighted practical cooperation in this field between the APEC member economies.

Vietnam Airlines receives eighth Airbus A350

Vietnam Airlines has revealed that it has received the eighth of the 14 Airbus A350 aircraft it has ordered from Airbus.

The A350-900 landed in the Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi recently and made its first commercial flight from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City on August 21.

Since the airline received the first A350-900 in July 2015, its Airbus A350 fleet has made more than 8,000 flights carrying some 2.2 million passengers. 

The fleet is being used for domestic routes between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, along with other international routes from Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to Paris in France, Seoul in the Republic of Korea, Shanghai in China, and Osaka and Haneda in Japan.

Vietnam, Australia to collaborate in agricultural research

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) and the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) on August 21 signed a letter of intent to enhance bilateral cooperation in agricultural research. 

The letter was signed by Le Quoc Doanh, MARD deputy minister, and Peter Horne, ACIAR’s general manager for country programmes, on the sidelines of the APEC Food Security Week now underway in the Mekong city of Can Tho. 

Speaking at the signing ceremony, Doanh said that many joint projects between ACIAR and Vietnam had added value to Vietnamese agricultural products, and had enhanced Vietnam’s agribusiness sector and capacity of scientists and researchers.

"The signing of the letter of intent today is the result of great bilateral cooperation, with joint efforts from researchers and policymakers on both sides," Doanh added.

Horne said the new partnership would have mutual benefits for both countries. 

ACIAR, which began its work in Vietnam in 1993, has completed 170 projects in the country, worth almost 100 million AUD (72.9 million USD) in investment in research.

The 10-year strategy provides a roadmap for Australia and Vietnam to work in equal partnership with mutual contributions and benefits for economic growth, security and innovation, according to Horne. 

The strategy will guide future programmes in collaborative research, including research themes, geographic foci and funding priorities from 2017 to 2027.

In the next decade, ACIAR will cooperate with MARD and other partners to continue assisting Vietnam in addressing obstacles to agricultural development under six research areas: food safety, climate change, soil fertility improvement and crop efficiency, better market engagement, and improvement of value from forests and aquaculture. 

ACIAR will implement research all across Vietnam, focusing on the Mekong Delta, Central Highlands and northwest Highlands. 

Collaborative projects will focus on highly applicable practices, creating opportunities for women to participate in and benefit from research, agri-business systems and on-farm activities. 

Vietnam and Australia enjoy a strong and mutually beneficial relationship, with two-way trade worth over 10 billion AUD (7.9 billion USD) annually.

Capella begins industrial park construction in Quang Nam

Capella Quang Nam Joint Stock Company, a subsidiary of Capella Land JSC, has begun construction of Tam Thang 2 Industrial Park in the central province of Quang Nam.

The park, which has an investment capital of 350 billion VND (15.4 million USD), is expected to be ready in two years.

The project is located in Quang Nam province’s Thang Binh district and is expected to cater to the rising land-lease demand in the province’s industrial zones.

The project will be built over 103ha in Chu Lai Open Economic Zone (EZ), and is located favourably, only 65km from Da Nang city, 35km from Chu Lai International Airport and a mere 6km from Tam Ky city.

In addition, the park is easily connected to airports, seaports and urban centres through strategic transport routes such as National Highway 1A, Da Nang-Quang Ngai expressway and the coastal road.

Companies investing in Tam Thang 2 Industrial Park will enjoy tax incentives under the Government’s preferential policy for the economic zone.

Notably, they will be exempt from corporate income tax for four years and will enjoy 50 percent reduction for the next nine years. Then, a tax rate of 10 percent will be applied for 15 years. Besides, there will be a 50 percent reduction in personal income tax for experts, officials and employees working in companies in the industrial zone.

The investor has committed towards accelerating investment for infrastructure construction in the first phase, which has a scale of 30ha, to meet the demand for land leasing from the clients.

Government looks to cut special inspection red tape

Local enterprises are spending around 28.6 million working days valued at 14.3 trillion VND (636 million USD) a year to complete administrative procedures for special inspections on imported and exported goods.

This estimate was revealed by Mai Tien Dung, Minister - Chairman of the Government Office during a working session held in Hanoi on August 21 with 11 related ministries and other agencies.

Dung, who heads a working team appointed by Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc to work on the issue, said special phytosanitary inspections accounted for 0.1 percent, animal quarantine 14.3 percent, energy efficiency 25.3 percent, food hygiene and safety 19.1 percent and licences for import and export products 41.2 percent of the total number of special inspections carried out in the country.

“The Government has issued Resolution 19/NQ-CP to reduce the rate of special inspections from 30-35 percent of imported and exported goods to 15 percent, but this target has not yet been met,” Dung said.

There are 100,000 items that are subject to special examinations, he added.

The administrative procedures on goods control have been overlapping, resulting in higher spending for firms. The rate of goods that undergo two to three special inspections accounted for 58 percent, the meeting heard.

The minister said some ministries are the only agencies authorised to carry out the special inspections, so goods from distant localities have to be taken to these agencies, increasing business costs.

Manual inspections, slow information connections and lack of risk management application have resulted in a high number of special inspections but very low discovery of violations (0.1 percent), he added.

The country has 5,917 procedures for special inspections of ministries at border gates. The PM has asked that these are reviewed and redundant ones removed.

“The PM has asked ministries to clarify which procedures should be maintained and which can be removed,” he said.

He called for administrative reforms related to special inspections towards reducing unnecessary costs for businesses. This is important because procedures for special inspections account for half the customs clearance time, he said.

Some cargoes have had to wait for one to three months to complete special inspections even after completing customs clearance procedures; and some have been left at border gates for three to four months, while the regulated time is less than 15 days. Some of this delay has been attributed to changes in special inspection procedures.

The chairman said the Government would review special inspections by all ministries and ask for specific explanations to decide which procedures can be removed.

Conference promotes Japan’s financial investment in Vietnam

Vietnam’s Finance Ministry and Daiwa Corporation of Japan co-hosted a conference in Tokyo on August 21 to promote financial investment in Vietnam with the attendance of more than 200 Japanese firms. 

Speaking at the event, Vietnamese Finance Minister Dinh Tien Dung said there remains huge room for bilateral cooperation in the financial market, adding that Vietnam’s economy has recorded an annual average growth rate of 6 percent over the past three decades. 

The country’s gross domestic product (GDP) expanded by an estimated 5.73 percent in the first half of 2017 while its Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) announced by the Nikkei has reached a high level in the past 22 months and the highest figure in ASEAN, he said. 

The minister told participants that the Vietnamese government defined developing human resources, improving market economy institutions and developing infrastructure as three breakthrough areas so the country’s demand for capital is huge, especially investment sources accompanied with expertise and development experiences. 

About the equitisation of State-owned enterprises (SOEs), Dung said 44 SOEs were equitised this year and the figure will increase to 64 in 2018. The Vietnamese government has also launched the derivatives market with VN30 future contract as the first product. 

Dung expressed his hope that major Japanese financial corporations would invest indirectly in Vietnam, become strategic investors and bring capital and technologies to the country. 

In an interview granted to the Vietnam News Agency (VNA)’s reporters in Tokyo, member of the Board of Directors of the Daiwa Securities Group Keiko Tashiro said Daiwa will continue investing in the Saigon Securities Incorporation (SSI) and expects to receive more support. 

Meeting Japanese Vice Minister of Finance Imaeda Soichiro the same day, Dung lauded Japan’s active role in developing infrastructure in Vietnam through official development assistance (ODA) capital over the past years. 

The two officials also discussed measures to enhance mutual support within APEC and ASEAN 3 financial cooperation frameworks.

Australia to issue dumping notice on galvanished steel from Vietnam

Australia has decided to impose anti-dumping duties on zinc-coated steel imports from Vietnam, India and Malaysia, according to the Vietnam Trade Office in Australia.

The galvanized steel was subjected to the dumping duty notice following recommendations by Australia’s Anti-Dumping Commission.

To compare export prices and normal value to determine whether dumping occurred and to determine the dumping margin the commission compared the weighted average of export prices with the weighted average of corresponding normal values between July 1, 2015 and June 30, 2016.

The commission concluded that the export price of the goods is below their normal value, which could harm the Australian industry producing the goods, including of profits, reduced profitability, reduced employment and price depression.

The commission estimated the dumping margins for the steel exported from a cooperative producer in Vietnam was 8.4 percent while uncooperative and all other exporters had a dumping margin of 14.2 percent. 

The commission also terminated a dumping investigation against Hoa Sen Group and Nam Kim Steel JSC on July 17 as their dumping margin was negligible.

It also halted a subsidy investigation against all Vietnamese galvanized steel producers and exporters on the same day, concluding that the producers and exporters had received countervailable subsidies from the Vietnamese Government during the investigation period but the subsidies were negligible. The countervailing duty notice will only be published for those imported from India.

APEC economies work for more transparent, participatory trade negotiations

How to achieve more transparent and participatory trade negotiations is the main focus of a workshop in Ho Chi Minh City on August 20. 

The workshop on Strengthening Transparency and Participation in the Process of Negotiation of Trade Agreements of the Committee on Trade and Investment (CTI) was held within the framework of the third APEC Senior Officials’ Meeting. 

Delegates from APEC member economies debated trade under public scrutiny and proposed measures to overcome challenges to more transparent and participatory negotiations of trade agreements. 

They noted that there is a lack of policies in some countries to ensure the engagement of the civil society, private sector and other stakeholders who want to be part of the process, explaining that trade is becoming nearer to each citizen of both developing and developed economies.

Felipe Lopeandia from the Directorate General of International Economic Relations of Chile’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said to get into the civil society, technical contents of trade agreements should be understandable because they are related to citizens. 

“It is important that citizens can understand fully what have been negotiated in trade agreements,” he told the Vietnam News Agency’s reporters. 

During the workshop, government officials from Chile, Australia and New Zealand shared their countries’ experience in negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement.

Banks loosen purse strings for small businesses

Instead of lending to large companies, more and more banks have started to lend to small businesses to hedge their risks.

At several conferences on credit for enterprises, experts have said that helping small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) access bank loans is very important.

However, according to a report by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), 85-90 percent of Vietnamese enterprises are small and micro businesses that face great difficulty in obtaining credit. Only 40 percent of them have in fact managed to do so.

Banks are cautious about lending money to SMEs due to a lack of trust in their ability to repay.

Hoang Thu Huong, from HCM City’s BinhThanh district, runs an online shop selling sweet dessert and bubble tea and two other drinks and fast food shops. She wants to expand her business but has been unable to borrow from banks, who told her that her business is small and she has no assets to mortgage.

She has been forced to borrow from other sources at high interest rates.

Small businesses like Huong’s are caught in a vicious circle: they are too small for banks to lend, but they cannot get any bigger without bank loans.

Top executives of several banks do not deny this fact, but explained that though banks are making big profits, their non-performing loan rates are still high. This was the reason for their reluctance to lend to SMEs, they said.

They said that small and micro businesses cannot seek loans based on their business performance or financial reports or secure their loans with assets.

Dao Gia Hung, deputy director of the Vietnam Prosperity Bank’s SMEs Division, said “Small businesses are often new in the market, and banks only want to lend to big businesses which have been around for several years. However, whether or not the banks lend money to those businesses depends much on their appetite for risk.”

Recently the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) urged credit institutions and banks to lend to SMEs.

More and more lenders have announced credit packages for SMEs and micro businesses.

The An Binh Commercial Joint Stock Bank (ABBank) allows businesses to borrow up to 3 billion VND (132,000 USD) or 10 percent of their annual revenue without collateral.

Nguyen Quynh Nga, deputy director of the bank’s SMEs Division, said only big companies can meet the “traditional requirements” like collateral, high growth, and good products to get bank loans.

She said with the new package, ABBank would offer unsecured loans to businesses that have expanded from household businesses to small enterprises within one year, adding that it would practically appraise their business performance rather than by looking at their books.

One of the bank’s reasons for giving more unsecured loans to SMEs is to reduce the big bets it makes on large companies, she added.

PVComBank has also announced a 1.5 trillion VND package with an interest rate of 7.5 percent.

But enterprises have to secure the loans with personal assets such as property, savings accounts or cars.

Small businesses that have expanded within six months after starting as household businesses can also apply for loans.

Nguyen Hoang Minh, deputy director of the SBV’s HCM City Branch, said enhancing access to unsecured loans would be an effective way to help household businesses expand into enterprises.

Rice export target set at 5.2 million tonnes in 2017

The Vietnam Food Association (VFA) aims to ship 2 million tonnes of rice to foreign countries in the last five months of the year, increasing total rice export for the whole year to 5.2 million tonnes, up 6 percent year-on-year.

Vietnam exported an estimated 3.24 million tonnes of rice at FOB value of 1.4 billion USD in the past seven months, representing an increase of 11 percent in volume and 11.4 percent in value over the same period last year.

July alone saw 584,000 tonnes of rice sold abroad for more than 240 million USD, which was the highest monthly volume so far this year, with most of the rice shipped to China, Bangladesh and Africa.

China remains Vietnam’s top rice importer, accounting for 40.65 percent of the total rice export, followed by the Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore. Shipments to Africa experienced a slight rise, making up 15.3 percent of the market share.

The VFA forecast that the global rice market will be led by high demand from Malaysia, Bangladesh, the Philippines and Sri Lanka. However, large rice exporters like Thailand, India and Pakistan are entering their main crop harvest, which will affect the rice market in the coming time.

HCM City, Guangdong look to stronger trade, investment ties

Vietnam’s southern largest economic hub of Ho Chi Minh City and China’s Guangdong province hold a wide range of potentials for stronger trade and investment ties, participants remarked at a conference held in the city last week.

Chu Tien Dung, Chairman of the HCM City Enterprises Association, said economic relations between Vietnam and China have been developing positively, laying an important foundation for HCM City’s businesses and their partners in Guangdong to step up trade and investment cooperation in the coming time.

HCM City wants to increase two-way trade value with Guangdong as the city has a lot of advantages in producing electronic equipment and components, wood and wooden furniture, agricultural and aquatic products, garments and textiles.

Meanwhile, Guangdong enterprises have opportunities to export advanced machinery as well as materials used in agricultural and industrial production to the Vietnamese market.

Le Thi Quynh Mai, Deputy Director of the municipal Department of Planning and Investment, said the city wants to cooperate with foreign partners, including those from Guangdong, to develop key industrial sectors, supporting industry, infrastructure, and green and renewable energy.

She stressed that the municipal authorities are working hard to improve the local business and investment climate by accelerating administrative reform and offering tax and land incentives.

Wen Zhi Yao, general secretary of the Guangdong trade promotion association, said Vietnam is an emerging market in Southeast Asia, with various advantages such as steady economic growth, increasing consumption demand, young population, low-cost workforce and rapid development of IT.       

These potentials have turned Vietnam into an attractive destination for Chinese investors to expand their business and investment, he stressed.

Digital banking means more security risks

The shift to digital banking has helped banks to provide modern and convenient services to customers, but this has also exposed them to many security risks, experts said at a conference in Hanoi last week.

The conference was jointly organised by the Information Technology Department under the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) and the Information Security Authority under the Ministry of Information and Communications.

The experts noted that the Fourth Industrial Revolution is taking place in many countries, bringing opportunities to effect far-reaching changes. This also applies to the banking system in terms of their asset size, capital and network, they said.

In May this year, the Prime Minister issued Decision No 632/QD-TTg, under which the network information security of 11 key areas, including banking, would be prioritised.

Nguyen Huy Dung, deputy director of the Information Security Authority, said that even though banking was a pioneering sector to invest in information safety, the loss of money still occurred because users themselves did not have enough knowledge and financial organisations did not instruct them properly on avoiding risks.

“Therefore, the Ministry of Information and Communications is completing a legal framework on information system security and will announce this in the coming months,” he said.

Nguyen Quang Hung, deputy director of the SBV’s Information Technology Department, said many banks in Vietnam adhered to global information security standards like ISO 27001 and NIST 800-53.

In addition, to ensure information security, the SBV Governor issued a directive on enhancing security in electronic and card payments early this year, and recently, a decision on security solutions regarding online and bank card payments.

Speaking on information security in the Vietnamese banking system, Thanut Pimhataivoot, an expert from NTT Data Thailand, said that the Vietnamese banking sector had developed security systems in accordance with international practices, but there were some organisations that had not fully abided by regulations, resulting in security incidents.

Ha The Phuong, deputy general director of CMC InfoSec, spoke of disadvantages regarding information security at Vietnamese banks.

Some projects investing in security focused on buying equipment, but without a corresponding long-term strategy on human resources and training, he said. In many cases, employees in information and technology management lacked necessary security qualifications, he added.

The expert from CMC InfoSec also mentioned advanced persistent threats (APT) facing the banking information system.

In the context of the increasingly complicated information security situation, banks, payment portal providers and financial institutions need to be more aware of the problems, and develop measures in collaboration with security companies to counter threats and network attacks, experts said at the conference.

Prominent industrial products to be honoured

The Agency for Regional Industry Development under the Ministry of Industry and Trade announced on August 18 that it will honour and grant certificates to outstanding industrial products from rural areas in 2017.

Hoang Chinh Nghia, deputy head of the agency, said the selection aims to honour high-quality products which could satisfy both domestic and foreign customers and have potential for production and market expansion.

State agencies will devise plans to support production development, promote trade, and expand the campaign “Vietnamese people prioritise Vietnamese goods”, he said.

Honoured products will be introduced at trade fairs at home and abroad such as Germany and China.

The selection of outstanding industrial products will be implemented at district, provincial, regional, and national levels.

The agency will select about 100 out of the 171 products registered for outstanding certificates this year in the fields of handicraft, processed agro-forestry-fishery, beverages, equipment, machine and spare parts, among others.

The award ceremony is scheduled to take place on September 20.

PM urges Thai firms to grasp opportunities in Vietnam

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has urged Thai firms to grasp opportunities arising from merger & acquisition activities and the equitisation of State-owned enterprises (SMEs) and their divestment in transport, infrastructure, food, agriculture, telecommunications, trade, services and construction in Vietnam. 

At a meeting with Thai enterprises in Bangkok last week during his official visit to Thailand, Phuc said the Vietnamese economy is now worth more than 220 billion USD and the country is striving to meet basic criteria in the business environment, equivalent to ASEAN 4 level by 2020. Vietnam is also in the period of golden population with 60 percent of people in working age. 

Thai business representatives thanked the Vietnamese government for creating favourable conditions for investors from Thailand and the ASEAN member states to join SMEs equitisation in the country. 

They pledged to keep expanding their business operations in Vietnam in the fields of retail, food, farm produce manufacturing and processing, energy, tourism and transport. 

Several companies said they are learning about Vietnam’s tourist attractions and want to link up with Vietnamese airlines to increase tourist arrivals in the two countries. 

Receiving Chairman of the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand Kornrasit Pakchotanon, PM Phuc asked for accelerating the construction of a thermal power plant in the central province of Quang Tri. 

Pakchotanon pledged to ensure environment protection and use advanced technology during the process of construction. 

Meeting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Central Group Tos Chirathivat, Phuc hailed the Central Group as one of the largest retailers in the region and is performing well in Vietnam. He also asked the group to bring more Vietnamese farm produce to Thai supermarkets. 

The CEO said his company wants to liaison with Vietnamese partners to do business in hotel, tourism and retail, adding that the Central Group is ready to sell Vietnamese fruits in Thai supermarkets and develop agriculture in Vietnam. 

During a reception for Chairman of the Board of Directors and CEO of Kasikorn Bank (KBank) Banthoon Lamsam, the PM said the Vietnamese government wants KBank to continue partnering with the State Bank of Vietnam, ministries and agencies to share experience in settling bad debts and help firms overcome difficulties. 

Lamsam said KBank plans to launch a financial support model for Vietnamese businesses, part of efforts to help the Vietnamese government achieve the goal of having 1 million firms by 2020. 

Talking with an executive from Siam City Cement Public Company Limited (SCCC), the PM suggested SCCC continue investing in industrial projects and construction materials using modern technology, as well as transfer technology to Vietnamese partners.

Can Tho wants to capitalise on economic chances in AEC

The Mekong Delta city of Can Tho wants to capitalise on chances in economic activities with ASEAN, especially the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), Vice Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee Truong Quang Hoai Nam has said.

The opportunities created by the AEC, which came into being on December 31, 2015, for people and businesses were spotlighted at a seminar held by the Can Tho People’s Committee last week.

Participants presented cooperation opportunities for Vietnamese firms in the AEC, the country’s commitments in the community, the country’s optimisation of origin principle to benefit from the AEC’s tax incentives, along with opportunities and challenges for the Mekong Delta since Vietnam became an AEC member.

Nam said Vietnam joined ASEAN in 1995, and the bloc has since been a gateway for the country to intensively integrate into the world in terms of politics, economy, culture and society.

A number of delegations from ASEAN countries have come to Can Tho to seek investment opportunities over the last couple of years, and the city also wants to learn about ways to cooperate with regional nations, he noted.

Tran Huu Hiep, a member of the Steering Committee for the Southwestern Region, said when Vietnam is an AEC member, Can Tho and other Mekong Delta provinces will have numerous opportunities for development cooperation and investment attraction. However, there will also be challenges in goods production and sales, and competition in trade and services.

To help people and businesses make use of chances during the AEC integration, Can Tho, as the centre of the Mekong Delta, need to take measures to develop skilled manpower, boost regional connectivity, fuel key industries and their support sectors, reform the business climate, and facilitate the operation of small- and medium-sized enterprises.

It is also necessary to form value chains for the strong products of the city and issue strict regulations to manage the inflow of ASEAN labour into Vietnam and effectively govern free capital flows between Vietnam and ASEAN, Hiep added.

The seminar was attended by representatives of the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the Foreign Ministry, the Steering Committee for the Southwestern Region, the Ho Chi Minh City WTO Affairs Consultation Centre, and officials of Can Tho and other Mekong Delta localities.

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