BUSINESS IN BRIEF 3/11

National Private Economic Development Research Board debuts

The National Private Economic Development Research Board made its debut in Hanoi on October 30.

The board, managed by the Government’s Advisory Council for Administrative Procedure Reform, is aimed at helping the Government reform mechanism, policies and administrative procedures related to the private economic sector, in keeping with the national economic objectives. 

It also takes the initiative of setting up an assisting system and mobilising resources for the performance of the assigned tasks.

The board is chaired by Truong Gia Binh, who is also President of Vietnam Software and IT Services Association and Deputy Chairman of the Advisory Council for Administrative Procedure Reform.

Binh’s deputy is the General Director of Vina Capital Group and Deputy Chairman of Global Agenda Council on ASEAN (World Economic Forum) Don Di Lam.

Members of the board also include representatives from the Vietnam Software and IT Services Association, the Business Federation of southern Binh Duong province, Shrimp Association of southern Binh Thuan province and the Tourism Advisory Board, as well as the Vietnam Private Sector Forum’s Advisory Board and Vina Capital Group.

Statistics from the Ministry of Planning and Investment showed that the private economic sector contributes 43.22 percent to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). It targeted to raise the figure to 60 percent by 2020.

The sector currently accounts for 39 percent of the total social investment and generates 11.9 percent of all jobs. 

Meanwhile, the State economic sector contributes 28.69 percent to the GDP.

Hoa Sen Group reports alarming plunge in profit

Steel maker Hoa Sen Group will see a plunge in after-tax profit to VND203 billion ($8.89 million) in the fourth quarter of this year, decreasing by 54.7 per cent on-year.

Hoa Sen Group has released the estimated business results for the fourth quarter of the 2016-2017 financial year, according to newswire Cafef.

Accordingly, Hoa Sen estimated a net revenue of VND6.9 trillion ($302.5 million), up 30 per cent on-year, however, after-tax profit is estimated at VND203 billion ($8.89 million), less than half of the past year.

This will be the second consecutive quarter that Hoa Sen reports bleak business prospects. Earlier in the third quarter of this year, regarding after-tax profit, the figure was VND272 billion ($11.9 million), declining 39.3 per cent on-year.

In the 2016-2017 financial year, Hoa Sen Group estimates selling 1.66 million tonnes of steel with a revenue of VND26.1 trillion ($1.14 billion), signifying increases of 26 and 46 per cent, respectively.

However, the consolidated after-tax profit would be VND1.33 trillion ($58.3 million), 12 per cent lower than the figure of the previous financial year.

The reason for the plunge in profit is the soaring interest on the company’s massive debts. Notably, as of the end of the second quarter of this year, Hoa Sen Group bore a debt of VND12.4 trillion ($543.6 million), VND10 trillion ($438.4 million) of which is short-term debts, while its equity was only VND5 trillion ($219.2 million).   

From early October 2016 to late July 2017, the group reported mobilising VND19.9 trillion ($872.4 million) from loans.

Besides, the group reported that interest payments rose to VND334 billion ($14.6 million), tripling on-year.

In the third quarter alone, skyrocketing expenses also contributed to the group’s declining profit, especially the increasing interest expenditure which hit VND136 billion ($5.9 million) and decreased the company’s profit by 40 per cent on-year, to VND271 billion ($11.8 million).

One of the group’s targets in collecting massive amounts of money was to develop projects, especially the $10.6-billion Ca Na steel project. Notably, Hoa Sen chairman Le Phuoc Vu announced that the group was ready to develop the steel project in the central province of Binh Thuan. However, in April 2017, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc requested the suspension of the project in order to “clarify some issues related to the environment and technology.”

The consecutive decreases in profit sent investors scampering on a massive sell-off on the stock exchange, evaporating VND3 trillion ($131.5 million) from its capitalisation.

According to the latest move, an investment fund managed by Dragon Capital transferred a part of its holding in Hoa Sen Group to its competitor Nam Kim Steel JSC. The investment fund gave up its position as a large shareholder in Hoa Sen Group by decreasing its holding to 4.96 per cent, or 17.38 million shares.

Industrial production index on growth track in ten months

The industrial production index rose by 17% year-on-year in October, pushing the ten-month increase by 8.7%, higher than a 7.3% rise from the same period last year and 7.9% growth recorded in nine months.

According to the General Department of Statistics, manufacturing and processing sector grew by 13.6% while electricity production and distribution expanded 9.3%, water supply and wastewater treatment went up 7.5%. Only mining sector was down 7.4%.

In Jan-Oct, manufacturing of several industrial products grew higher than the same period last year, including television (30%), iron and crude steel (28%), rolled steel (19%) and urea fertiliser (15%).

Localities recording high index include Bac Ninh (up 32%), Hai Phong (20%), Thai Nguyen (17%), Hai Duong (10%), Binh Duong (9.7%), Da Nang (9%), Dong Nai (8.5%), Ho Chi Minh City (7.8%), Can Tho (7%), Hanoi (6.9%), and Vinh Phuc (6.9%).

As of October 1, inventory index in manufacturing and processing sector hiked 8.8% year-on-year, higher than apparel (6.3%), food production and processing (4.7%), and transport vehicles (2.3%). Meanwhile, cigarettes and pharmaceuticals saw respective decreases of 3.2% and 17.9% in this index.

Sectors recording inventory index higher than the average include beverages (up 48.5%), motorised vehicles (45.2%), electronic and optical products and computers (20.9%), and electrical equipment (14.9%).

The number of workers in industrial firms increased by 5.1% as of October 1, of whom, those in State enterprises dropped 0.5% while those in non-State and foreign-invested businesses went up 3% and 7.2%, respectively.

Workers in localities with large-scale industry also saw growth, such as Bac Ninh (up 19.3%), Da Nang (17.3%), Hai Duong (9%), Vinh Phuc (7.9%), Hai Phong (5.3%), Thai Nguyen (5.3%), Hanoi (3.8%), Can Tho (2.2%) and Ho Chi Minh City (0.9%).

Ministry proposes to consider Uber, Grab as transport firms

The Ministry of Industry and Trade has sent a document to the Government Office, proposing to change relevant regulations to consider software application supply firms such as Uber and Grab as transport firms, said the ministry yesterday. 

According to the document, regulations on science and technology application in passenger transport connectivity should be adjusted to create fair competition with traditional transport firms.

For a long time, Uber and Grab have been counted as software supply firms so they do not take responsibility for abiding by regulations to ensure safety for passengers and people on the road. Still they have collected transport service fee.

In addition, they are not subject to regulations on transport business conditions, causing unfair competition to traditional transport services such as taxi cabs and motorbike taxi.

Ninh Thuan sheep, lamb meat get geographical indication protection     

Ninh Thuan Province’s mutton and lamb products have been granted protection under geographical indication by the National Office of Intellectual Property, province authorities announced on October 30.

A geographical indication (GI) is a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin, according to the World Intellectual Property Organization.

It is typically used for foodstuffs, wine and spirits, handicrafts, and agricultural and industrial products to control the quality of products and protect the benefits of producers, local farmers and consumers.

Sheep in the south-central coastal province came from India hundreds of years ago and adapted to the hot and dry conditions, and have become a speciality associated with the province.

The province now has around 860,000 native and hybrid sheep, which grazed for eight to 10 hours a day in hills and meadows.

Its brood sheep are raised in compliance with standards on food, breeding facilities, vaccination, slaughter conditions, and preservation and packaging.

An animal aged between eight and 12 months weighing 30-45kg are sold for slaughter.

The meat products, fresh and frozen, include the whole carcass with head, legs and viscera; smaller pieces; and lamb chops.

The local sheep have darker red meat than hybrid sheep.

The province’s sheep meat is popular for its high nutritional value, low fat and unique flavour. 

Industrial goods fair opens in Ha Nam     

The Commercial and Industrial Fair 2017 of the Red River Delta, which began on Monday, saw the participation of over 300 booths displaying industrial products.

The fair, being held in the northern province of Ha Nam, has attracted many enterprises, industrial production facilities from the northern provinces and cities, and also from localities outside. It has on display typical products of the Red River Delta region such as rural industrial products, electronics, information technology and agriculture, as well as forestry, fishery products, fashion, consumer goods and home appliances.

Truong Quoc Huy, vice chairman of People’s Committee of Ha Nam Province, said the fair is part of the national industrial extension programme of the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

It has been designed for businesses and rural industrial establishments to promote their brands, introduce their products, meet partners, seek investment opportunities for business development and to promote the consumption of Vietnamese goods.

The event, being held at Phu Ly city stadium, will go on until November 5, 2017. 

Canada launches investigation into Viet Nam’s copper pipe fittings     

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) has announced that it is launching an investigation into certain copper pipe fittings originating in or exported from Viet Nam.

The agency will investigate whether these are being sold at unfair prices in Canada and whether subsidies are being applied to certain copper pipe fittings originating in or exported from Viet Nam, the agency announced on its website.

The CBSA said that the investigations are the result of a complaint filed by Cello Products Inc. (Cello) of Cambridge, Ontario. The complainant alleges that as a result of price undercutting from Viet Nam, Cello faces loss in sales and market share, resulting in negative financial results, reduced production and employment.

According to the Vietnam Competition Authority under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, Viet Nam’s copper pipe fittings under the investigation are coded 7412.10.00.11, 7412.10.00.19, 7412.10.00.90 and 7412.20.00.11, as well as 7412.20.00.12, 7412.20.00.19 and 7412.20.00.90. The investigation period is from January 1, 2016 to August 31, 2017.

The CBSA and the Canadian International Trade Tribunal (CITT) will both play a role in the investigations.

The CBSA announced that Viet Nam’s copper pipe fittings exporters and the Vietnamese government can send responses to CBSA’s request for information on December 4, 2017.

The CITT will begin a preliminary inquiry to determine whether the imports are harming Canadian producers and will issue a decision by December 27, 2017.

Concurrently, the CBSA will investigate whether the imports are being sold in Canada at unfair and/or subsidised prices, and will make a preliminary decision by January 25, 2018.

By noon of March 19, 2018, the CBSA will receive case arguments due from all parties.

A copy of the Statement of Reasons, which provides more details about these investigations, will be available on the CBSA’s website, www.cbsa.gc.ca/sima-lmsi, within 15 days.

Currently, there are 98 special import measures in force in Canada, covering a wide variety of industrial and consumer products, from steel products to refined sugar. Of note, there are currently special import measures in place since June 2006 on copper pipe fittings from the United States, the Republic of Korea and China.

Copper pipe fittings are used to connect copper pipes, tubes or other copper pipe fittings to one another. The fittings can also be used to connect copper tubing to other metal systems by use of threaded fittings. Copper pipe fittings can be used in heating, plumbing, air conditioning and refrigeration applications. 

Vietnam Int’l Jewelry Fair pulls in over 200 exhibitors

More than 200 domestic and foreign exhibitors, including those from the EU, Thailand, India, and Singapore, have registered to take part in the Vietnam International Jewelry Fair (VIJF) set to transpire on November 8-11 in Ho Chi Minh City.

At a press briefing to announce the event on October 31, the organizer, Saigon Jewelry Company Limited (SJC), said the fair will be divided into several zones, showcasing domestic and foreign jewelry products, diamonds, various gemstones, jewelry casting technologies, machines and equipment, and aftersales and warranty services. The organizing board will designate a reception and negotiating area for businesses. 

There will also be many special promotional and discount programs on offer at the fair.

Dao Cong Thang, Vice General Director of SJC, said that over the past 25 years, the fair has become a traditional event for the gold, silver, and gemstone sector, and a trusted destination of many businesses seeking trade and cooperation opportunities to get exposure for their products and brands.

Mr. Thang said the organizing board hopes to hold the fair biannually and expand it to other provinces and cities like Can Tho and Hanoi to help businesses nationwide to further promote Vietnamese gold, silver, and gemstone brands, and offer customers the opportunity to buy high quality and special products cast with advanced techniques and technologies.

Summer-autumn crop yields 11.5 million tonnes of rice

Vietnam’s rice output during the summer-autumn crop was estimated at 11.5 million tonnes, an increase of 127,500 tonnes, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The total rice farming land for this crop was 2.1 million hectares, with 1.93 million hectares in the southern region. The Mekong Delta region, the country’s granary, alone had 1.65 million hectares, representing 98.6% of the same period last year.

By mid-October, 661,500 hectares in the Mekong Delta had been sowed for the autumn-winter crop. Numerous localities pumped water into fields to enrich farming land and reduce diseases for the next crop.

The northern region had by mid-October harvested the winter rice crop on 870,800 hectares, accounting for 76.7% of the total farming land, including the Red Delta harvesting on 418,400 hectares, or 77.1% of its cultivation land.

Vietnam exports sugar to 28 markets

Vietnam exported 43,000 tons of sugar to 28 markets, earning more than US$20.6 million to the end of September, said Pham Quoc Doanh, President of Vietnam Sugarcane and Sugar Association.

Major consumers of Vietnamese sugar products included China, Russia, the US, the Republic of Korea, the UK, Australia, Sweden, Germany, and the Netherlands.

The largest domestic exporter is Bien Hoa Sugar JSC which shipped nearly 23,000 tons of sugar to Myanmar, China, Singapore, and India with an export value of more than US$12 million.

The country now has 41 sugar factories with a processing capacity of 150,000 tons of sugarcane per day. In the 2016-2017 crop year, these factories produced more than 1.236 million tons of sugar.

Quang Nam: Nearly VND300 billion for road construction

The central province of Quang Nam has invested nearly VND300 billion (US$13.2 million) to build a road linking Cua Dai bridge and De Vong bridge on the coastal Hoi An-Da Nang road.

The road, which is 38 metres in width and 4.2 kilometres in length, will allow motorised vehicles to run at a maximum speed of 70 kilometres per hour.

Relevant authorities are working to put forth the construction so that the road can open to traffic in the first quarter of 2018.

The road is expected to improve national coastal road system and promote investment attraction in Quang Nam province.

It also serves travel and good transport demands while serve search and rescue activities during flood season.

Hanoi destined for Vietnam craft village exhibition

The Vietnam Craft Village Trade Fair 2017 (CraftViet 2017) will take place from November 9-13 in Hanoi, featuring 250 booths showcasing products from 24 cities and provinces nationwide, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The event is organised to attract investment in traditional craft villages, encourage tourism development in companion with rural handicrafts and enhance trade promotion for local products.

On display will be local standout handicraft products like Chu Dau pottery, Bat Trang pottery, brocade and Dong Ho paintings.

Visitors to the fair will have a chance to see the manipulation of silver engraving, bamboo, rattan and pottery products.

Especially, a renowned Vietnamese tea zone will be arranged to introduce top-quality tea and tea culture of Vietnam.

Director of the Vietnam Trade Promotion Centre for Agriculture Dao Van Ho said that the centre will work with local departments of agriculture and rural development and quality management bureaus to ensure quality of exhibited items at the fair and prevent trade frauds.

Lifestyle hotel brand Wink launched

Indochina Capital and Vanguard Hotels have teamed up for a new lifestyle hotel brand in Vietnam, Wink Hotels, through the joint venture Indochina Vanguard Hotels. The first Wink will open in 2019 in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City.

Wink is a highly-defined brand designed for Indochina, a region on the cusp of the next stage of its evolution and clamoring for a hospitality experience unlike any before. A brand that believes in the tenacity of the Indochine mentality, Wink is a celebration of what the region has overcome and, more importantly, what it will become. Embracing time-honored values, Wink strives to find harmony between modernity, innovation, efficiency, and the city vibe, ensuring guests leave with a vivid impression of the destination and brand.

“Vietnam deserves the best, and we look forward to bringing to this dynamic country the very best in the hospitality industry,” said Mr. Michael Piro, Co-Founder of Indochina Vanguard Hotels and Managing Director of Indochina Land. “We will be bringing visitors a consistent experience not only in key locations such as Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and Da Nang, but also in other cities. Wink Hotels will be available throughout Vietnam.”

Wink Hotels are designed for the aspirational modern traveler, one who is open, inquisitive, and acquisitive. These individuals associate themselves with brands that represent who they are and where they are going. These individuals are informed and empowered when it comes to travel. Regardless of why they travel, they will not settle for clichéd experiences.

Vanguard Hotels intends to become a leading owner and operator of affordable branded hotels in Southeast Asia. It will provide dynamic, aspirational branding options to customers, evolving to meet their needs as they grow and change over time.

It will work with high-quality foreign investors and local partner companies in each market to provide the right formula to arrive at a suitable hotel experience for customers in that country.

Vanguard Hotels aims to provide these hotels to customers at a price point and in an operating environment that allows for maximizing the profit opportunity and providing the highest possible returns to its shareholder partners.

Paradise Doubles Down in Ha Long Bay

Paradise Vietnam has taken two of its four Paradise Luxury vessels and, following some significant renovations, rebranded them as Paradise Prestige.

The reimagined wooden junks were put on the water recently and are the most sophisticated vessels ever designed for the purpose of spending more than one night among the towering outcrops of Ha Long Bay.

“Guests are demanding more than one night cruising in Ha Long Bay, so they can explore it in a deeper way,” said Mr. Nguyen Cao Son, Paradise Vietnam’s Chief Operating Officer. “Paradise Prestige alleviates that problem, and does so in a really impressive way.”

The launch of Paradise Prestige will mark a dive into the all-inclusive concept for Paradise Vietnam, which it knows to be popular among high-end resorts and river cruise companies.

Benefits will include free-flow food and drinks, including a la carte meals and sparkling wine, one 50-minute spa treatment per person per day, and business lounge access at Hanoi’s Noi Bai International Airport.

“As an innovative company, we’re always looking for ways to improve and refresh and set new standards,” said Mr. Son. “Positioning Paradise Prestige is the only choice for those who want luxury and two nights on Ha Long Bay gels with that philosophy.”

Indeed, as opposed to one big boat, Paradise Prestige will dispatch two smaller vessels, each with 15 cabins, into the karst-studded seascape.

“We’ve done our homework, and our takeaway is that peace and quiet is a high priority for the two-night cruiser,” said Mr. Son. “At no time will Prestige passengers be disturbed. We want Ha Long Bay to do all the talking.”

Paradise Prestige will give additional mouthpiece to the attraction by doing what one-night cruises cannot: sail away from the crowds and into more secluded territory, thereby creating another layer of exclusivity to the experience.

The creation of Paradise Prestige signifies the second major move made by Paradise’s cruise division this year.

In July, the company made a splash by rolling out the second of two Paradise Elegance ships, which at 61 meters long and 13 meters wide with 31 cabins are the biggest overnight cruising vessels on the UNESCO World Heritage site, ever.

Paradise Vietnam also owns and operates Paradise Peak, a boutique, eight-suite ship tailor-made for families or small groups, the 156-room Paradise Suites and Paradise Trend hotels, the first and only boutique luxury hotels in Ha Long Bay, and six restaurants, including two in Hanoi that consistently rank on TripAdvisor among the Top 10 dining venues in Vietnam’s capital.

Textile, garment industry expo opens in Hanoi

The 2017 Hanoi Textile and Garment Industry Expo (HANOITEX 2017) opened at the International Centre for Exhibition on Tran Hung Dao street, Hanoi on November 1.

The annual event draws over 150 companies from 15 countries and territories, including China, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, the Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, Singapore, Turkey, the UK, the US, and Vietnam. 

The three-day event is showcasing textile-garment machinery and equipment, high-quality silk and fabrics, dyeing equipment and chemicals, materials and accessories across an area of 6,000sq.m.

Addressing the opening ceremony, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Cao Quoc Hung said the expo provides an opportunity for Vietnamese textile-garment producers to access the latest technologies of the world, thus raising locally made proportion and enhancing the added value of products.

In order to implement its sustainable strategy by 2020, the sector has invested more in high-quality and environmentally friendly technologies, said General Director of the Vietnam National Textile Garment Group (Vinatex) Le Tien Truong.

The event is organised by the CP Exhibition Hong Kong, VCCI Expo, and Vinatex, under the patronage of the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association.

Meanwhile, about 500 firms will join the 17th International Textile and Apparel Accessories Exhibition in HCM city from November 22-25, featuring new solutions, technologies and equipment for the apparel sector.

APEC 2017 links up Asia-Pacific economies together

Vietnam will undertake the role of hosting the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders’ Meeting for the second time from November 5-11. 

Through theme “Creating new dynamism, fostering a shared future”, Vietnam and member economies show their wish to contribute to common efforts towards the goal of building a vibrant and connected Asia-Pacific community via facilitating trade and investment liberalisation, regional economic connectivity, economic-technical cooperation, ensuring human security and creating a favourable and sustainable business environment. 

Since its birth in November 1989 with 12 member economies, APEC has so far grouped 21 members after nearly 30 years of development, including nine from the G20 Group of Emerging and Developing Nations and many vibrant economies, representing 2.8 billion people, or 39 percent of the world’s population and contributing 43 trillion USD, or 57 percent of the gross domestic product and 20 trillion USD, equivalent to 49 percent of the global trade. 

From the ministerial-level dialogue mechanism, APEC has become a leading economic cooperation mechanism in the region with outstanding and practical achievements across trade and investment liberalisation, trade facilitation, and economic and technical collaboration. As the global economic focus gradually moves to the Asia-Pacific – the highest growth area and a hub of new technologies and skilled workforce, APEC is recognised as a mechanism guiding trade and investment liberalisation, promoting global cooperation trend, making important contributions to economic growth and maintaining peace, stability, cooperation and development in the region and the world. 

With the “initiative raising mechanism”, APEC provides a platform for policymakers, businesses, and scholars to meet annually to discuss initiatives helping Asia-Pacific economies catch up with constant developments in the region and the world, particularly in global economy and trade. Many initiatives pertaining to integration have been associated with APEC, namely the Asia-Pacific free trade area in 2006, the growth strategy in 2010, the master plan on connectivity in 2014, and the roadmap to competitiveness improvement in services in 2016. 

From 2000-2015, the region’s total trade value rose 2.5-fold from 6.4 trillion USD to 16.5 trillion USD, nearly 67 percent of which was internal trade. The group is implementing long-term strategies and plans until 2025 on quality growth, human resources development and innovation. 

From 1996-2015, the number of free trade and regional trade agreements put into force soared from 22 to 152 while 61 agreements were signed by member economies. 

APEC member economies also took the lead in forming massive free trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, the ASEAN Community towards establishing the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific, contributing to strengthening multilateral trade system within the World Trade Organisation framework.

APEC has put forth the economic and technical cooperation (ECOTECH) agenda to support human resources development and improve capacity for member economies, looking towards equal, balanced and sustainable economic development in the region and creating the most favourable conditions for the implementation of action programmes to realise the Bogor goals.

Since 1993, nearly 1,600 joint projects have been carried out and each year APEC provides financial support for about 150 projects worth 23 million USD.

In a constantly changing world where non-traditional security and terrorism emerge as one of the most serious threats, APEC has expanded its interest in security and political issues by issuing its own declaration on counter-terrorism and climate change adaptation.

The forum has also adopted a number of initiatives in the fields of aviation security, railway, navigation, food safety, and prevention of natural disasters and diseases, among others.

APEC has successfully built joint activities and action programmes of each member economy. Meanwhile, member economies need to show their firm political will and increase mutual trust to develop Asia-Pacific into one of the world’s most dynamic investment and trade liberalisation regions.

Established in 1989, APEC comprises Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong (China), Indonesia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Thailand, the US, and Vietnam.

Dong Thap Muoi develops flood-adapted agriculture

Dong Thap Muoi wetland stretching across the Mekong Delta provinces of Dong Thap, Long An and Tien Giang, formerly a solid revolutionary base during the war against French and US invaders, has sustainably developed agriculture in adaptation with flooding. 

The wetland covers a site of over 697,000ha, accounting for 17.7 percent of the region’s total coverage. 

Nguyen Van Man, Chairman of the People’s Committee of Tan Phuoc district – the only lying in Dong Thap Muoi in Tien Giang province, said since the Dong Thap Muoi reclamation scheme began in the late 1980s, the State has unearthed and dredged nearly 680km of major canals and over 1,100km of interior field canals to drain flood water and improve soil. 

Localities placed 135 anti-flooding sacks with a total length of nearly 400km and installed 125 electric drainage stations capable of serving over 100ha each. 

Le Thi Yen, head of the Planning Office from the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development said the provincial agriculture sector partnered with agencies concerned to launch a comprehensive support programme for pineapple cultivation, including technological transfer, epidemics and pest control, farming under GAP standards, registration for trademark protection, among others. 

The district is so far home to over 16,000ha of pineapple, the largest in the Tien river and Tien Giang in particular, yielding nearly 300,000 tonnes per year. 

Farmers in Cai Be district have grown over 2,000ha of citrus, mostly oranges and grapefruits, raising the total area of fruit farming in the locality to more than 16,700ha. 

To help farmers cope with disasters, localities encouraged farmers to set up specialised cultivation areas and grow rice and raise fishes in rotation. 

The districts of Tan Hung, Vinh Hung, Moc Hoa, Tan Thach, Thanh Hoa and Kien Tuong township are considered the largest rice granaries in the Mekong Delta province of Long An with a total output of around 2 million tonnes per year. 

The province is embarking on a hi-tech agricultural development project, in which 20,000ha will be built in the above districts with a view to improving food safety, product value and economic competitiveness. 

Initially, a model of building 2,900ha of rice using advanced technology will be built, ensuring that extra 17,000ha will be expanded by 2020. 

Since 2014, Long An has launched an aquaculture facilitation programme in Dong Thap Muoi’s districts, costing upwards 25 billion VND. There are over 1,700ha of aquaculture in the localities now with a total output of more than 21,000 tonnes. 

The above programmes have initially produced positive results, contributing to raising farmers’ income.

Lawmakers urge strong boost to fruit & vegie export, logistics sector

Some lawmakers have underscored major benefits to be gained from fruit, vegetables and flower export and logistics services, asking for more attention to boost the development of these sectors.

They continued to discuss the country’s socio-economic and State budget situation on November 1, part of the ongoing fourth session of the 14th National Assembly in Hanoi.

Deputy Nguyen Thien Nhan of Ho Chi Minh City said in 2016, Vietnam exported 2.4 billion USD worth of crude oil and 2.45 billion USD worth of fruit, vegetables and flower. This was the first time fruit, vegetables and flower exports had surpassed crude oil shipments. Meanwhile, crude oil exports were 31 times higher than fruit and vegetables exports in 2005, 7.3 billion USD compared to 235 million USD.

He analysed that fruit, vegetables and flower exports have grown by about 30 percent each year and are forecast to hit 9-10 billion USD in 2022. However, export turnover of crude oil has fallen by 900 million USD in five years and that of aquatic products has risen by just 5 percent annually.

Fruit, vegetables and flower haven’t been listed among the county’s key agricultural export commodities which have included rice, catfish, and products from mushroom, coffee, brackish water shrimp and ginseng.

Nhan, who is also Secretary of the HCM City Party Committee, proposed the Government name fruit, vegetables and flower key export items.

He said farming these products is a solution to reducing poverty in rural and mountainous areas, adding that each locality should cultivate typical fruit, vegetables and flower products that suit local conditions.

Regarding logistics services, deputy Nguyen Quoc Binh of Hanoi cited data from the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Vietnam Business Logistics Association that the value of Vietnam’s logistics market is equivalent to 21-25 percent of the country’s GDP.

Logistics services are an important economic sector that is able to fare well in the country. This industry is a direct solution to helping boost GDP growth and the economy’s competitiveness, he noted.

He pointed out a fact that the logistics industry’s contribution to the economy remains modest, only about 2-3 percent of total GDP. Logistics are considered a lucrative but still untapped sector in Vietnam because around 80 percent of the logistics market is being run by foreign businesses.

While logistics costs are estimated at 7-15 percent of GDP in developed countries, they account for 21-25 percent of Vietnam’s GDP, directly hampering economic growth. Therefore, it is important to cut down logistics costs and improve logistics services, he stressed.

Highlighting advantages for logistics services development, Binh said Vietnam is located in the centre of the Asian-Pacific region in terms of maritime and air transportation. It is a gateway to the East Sea, one of the world's busiest shipping lanes, for three of the four economic corridors in the Greater Mekong Sub-region. It also owns many locations favourable for building deep-water seaports and international transit airports.

The deputy said logistics can become a spearhead sector in Vietnam’s economy, and the country should work harder to optimise existing potential and advantages.

Ha Tinh: Export revenue on strong surge

The central province of Ha Tinh earned a total 194.36 million USD in export revenue in ten months ending in October, a year-on-year hike of 97.3 percent and accounting for nearly 70 percent of the yearly plan.

Shipments of Taiwan-invested Hung Nghiep Ha Tinh Iron and Steel Co., Ltd were valued at 103.7 million USD, occupying 53.3 percent of the total export revenue.

Meanwhile, exports of traditional products like tea, seafood, fibre, and garment also experienced rosy growth.  The province earned 2.61 million USD from selling tea abroad (up 22.28 percent), 7.48 million USD from fibre export (up 22.8 percent) and 2.19 million USD from garment export (up 91 percent).

Main export markets included Southeast Asia, China, the Middle East and Japan.

Vietnam builds library, meeting hall for Cambodian army

The Royal Cambodian Army held a ceremony in Phnom Penh on November 1 to inaugurate a library and a meeting hall built for the army’s special parachute brigade 911 with the financial assistance of the Vietnamese Ministry of National Defence.

Cambodia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Tea Banh said the facilities will contribute to modernising infrastructure of the brigade in particular and the Royal Cambodian Army in general, thus enhancing their readiness to combat and capacity to defend the national territorial sovereignty and maintain political stability and social order.

He thanked the Vietnamese State, Government, army and people for regularly supporting Cambodia in building strong armed forces and developing the country based on the bilateral friendship and solidarity between Vietnam and Cambodia’s armies and people over the past decades.

The Deputy PM cut the ribbon to inaugurate the facilities, whose construction began in 2014. They are put into operation on the occasion of the 50th founding anniversary of Vietnam-Cambodia diplomatic ties, the Vietnam-Cambodia Friendship Year, and the 22nd founding anniversary of the brigade 911.

The Ministry of National Defence of Vietnam also assisted the brigade in building a training centre in Kampong Speu province.

Hà Tĩnh gets seeds for new crop

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development will provide the central province of Hà Tĩnh 280 tonnes of seeds as a storm relief package for the province’s agricultural sector.

The extract of seeds from the national reserve follows a governmental decision signed by Deputy Prime Minister Vương Đình Huệ, in an attempt to recover agricultural production in the localities affected by the recent floods and storms, including the central provinces of Hà Tĩnh and Quảng Trị, and northern province of Phú Thọ.

Hà Tĩnh will get 250 tonnes of rice seeds and 30 tonnes of sweet corn. Quảng Trị will receive 300 tonnes of rice and 60 tonnes of corn. Phú Thọ will be supplied with a smaller quantity, 50 tonnes of rice and 10 tonnes of corn.

The deputy PM requested the People’s Committees of the beneficiary provinces to use the seeds for the right purpose and in time for a new crop.

Earlier last week, Hà Tĩnh got 3,500 tonnes of rice used as food from the national reserve to satiate hungry residents in the storm and flood-affected areas.

Hà Tĩnh has been hit the hardest by typhoon Doksuri in September, and severe flooding came upon a tropical depression in October. Last year, it was devastated by repeated strong floods.

Japan Fair held in HCM City

Seventy-six Japanese products are being sold at hundreds of convenience stores and malls in HCM City as part of the Japan Fair event, according to the Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO).

Featuring snacks, candies, beverages, ice cream and children’s books, the Japan Fair products are available at 153 FamilyMart convenience stores, 99 MINISTOP convenience stores, and two AEON malls in HCM City.

“This is the second time that we have launched the Japan Fair. The first fair, organised last November, was quite successful,” a representative of JETRO said, adding that more products were introduced this year.

“We’ve decided to extend the fair from one to three months,” he said.

Products were selected based on their affordability, high demand and low local supply.

“Since matcha-related products were a hit last year, we have brought more of them to our stores,” a representative of FamilyMart said.

In addition to snacks and beverages that are popular among children, Japanese children’s books, which have been translated into Vietnamese, are expected to do well, he added.

“Children seem to be our target audience since the Vietnamese population is quite young. That being said, we’ve also added products that are appropriate to adults such as vegetable juice,” he said.

When the fair ends, organisers will select the most important and popular products and begin to officially sell them in convenience stores and malls.

In conjunction with the Japan Fair, the Japan-Việt Nam Festival on January 27 and 28 will be held at HCM City’s 23/9 Park.

Vietnam Airlines increases flights to Danang during APEC Summit

The national flag carrier Vietnam Airlines will operate more than 50 flights a day from Hanoi, HCM City to Danang during the APEC Summit 2017 scheduled for November 6-11 in the central coastal city.

Accordingly, the airlines will operate an additional 110 flights per day (equivalent to 20,000 seats), bringing the total number of seats to 400,000 on these routes. 

Especially, the number of flights between Hanoi-Danang and HCM City-Danang will increase to 64 and 44 respectively. On an average, a flight will arrive to or take off from the central coastal city every 30 minutes.

The Vietnam Airport Ground Services Co., Ltd. plans to strengthen service capacity from 160 to 180 flights per day for APEC. In peak hours, VIAGS can provide 11 aircraft.

Flight attendants will be strengthened and meet requirements in appearance, English skills and service capacity. The company has also implemented a plan to ensure security during the event.

Vietnam Airlines has recently transferred all international flights at Danang International Airport to Terminal 2, which has been put into operation since May with a total investment of VND3,500 billion. The number of check-in counters has also been increased to 22 including three for business class passengers.

Oxfam calls for inclusive growth ahead of APEC Summit

Oxfam has launched a report entitled “Redefining Inclusive Growth in Asia”, which outlines how Asia can achieve growth that leaves no one behind, ahead of the APEC Summit in Da Nang, Vietnam.

In spite of significant economic growth, in Asia and other APEC member economies, the gap between the rich and poor continues to worsen. The report underlines that leaders during APEC 2017 can seize the moment to redefine an economic model that creates equal opportunities for men and women, ensures decent living wages, basic social services, and access to productive resources for all.

The report calls for the APEC leaders to support member countries in mobilising tax revenues to fund sustainable development goals rather engage in wasteful and unfair tax competition and engage in practices that deny essential revenue to the developing countries.

They must discourage corporate tax avoidance and evasion, should work together to improve tax administration capacity and productivity; progressive taxation and efficient and transparent tax collection.

These measures will benefit from increased tax revenues to invest in basic public services like health, education, and social welfare leading towards fair and better societies and communities.

The APEC leaders must work to ensure all workers have a fair income by ensuring a minimum wage that allows a decent living for their families. To ensure inclusion and sustainability, their rights must be respected and upheld. Countries must implement existing labour regulations and address policy gaps. They must stop corporations from maximising profits at the expense of labour and improve workers’ bargaining power.

Micro, small and medium Enterprises (MSMEs), especially those led by women, is critical to facilitating inclusive growth. APEC leaders must invest in providing MSMEs with financial services and capital and build their development and management capabilities. Public investments must be increased in services that reduce women’s household care burdens so that they can work to overcome poverty and promote economic growth as entrepreneurs.

This year’s host, the Vietnamese government has underscored the importance of economic, financial, and social inclusion and called for the APEC to develop a holistic approach which incorporates all three pillars to promote inclusive growth.

Babeth Ngoc Han Lefur, Oxfam Country Director in Vietnam, says that “Inclusive growth must deliver real change for people and not treat citizens as passive recipients. APEC leaders must recognise people’s voices and allow them to participate in all three pillars of inclusion – economic, social and financial. APEC can only do this by ensuring that people can contribute to decision making, especially on matters that directly affect them. They must make sure that workers are represented in corporate structures, and develop financial services that respond to the needs of everyone including women, workers, farmers, and fishers.

Oxfam welcomes the Vietnamese government’s commitment to addressing inequality and promote inclusive growth. We hope the 2017 APEC summit is an opportunity to blaze a path to a new and exciting national goal – an economy where no one is left behind”.

HCMC needs to focus on maintaining political security

Ho Chi Minh City needs to focus on maintaining political security, social order and safety in all circumstances, as well as its socio-economic development in association with ensuring national defense and security, as part of the Politburo’s Conclusion on the continuous implementation of Resolution No. 16-NQ/TW.

Based on the summation of the achievements and limitations following five years of implementing the Politburo’s Resolution No. 16-NQ/TW, on devising the development directions for Ho Chi Minh City till 2020, the Politburo has issued the conclusion.

Accordingly, the Politburo has asked the Ho Chi Minh City municipal Party committee, party organisations and the related provincial party committees to continue to promote the implementation of the tasks and solutions contained within the Politburo’s Resolution No. 16-NQ/TW.

It is necessary to focus on continuing to direct the effective implementation of the tasks and solutions proposed by the Resolution No. 16-NQ/TW, in association with the implementation of the Resolution of the 12th National Party Congress and the Resolution of the 10th congress of the municipal Party Committee. The city should also identify the tasks and solutions that need to be completed annually by the agencies and units, while attaching specific responsibilities to the heads of agencies and units in organising the implementation of the Resolution.

The pilot implementation of the specific policies and mechanisms for Ho Chi Minh City is based on the whole of the country, seeking a harmonious combination between the general and private sectors within the legal framework. Accordingly, Ho Chi Minh City will co-ordinate with the related ministries and departments to report to the National Assembly and National Assembly agencies at the fourth session of 14th National Assembly to review the implementation and make a decision.

Every year, the Party Central Committee's Secretariat and the Government work with the Ho Chi Minh City Party Standing Committee to inspect, supervise and accelerate the implementation of Resolution No.16-NQ/TW and the Politburo’s conclusion, therefore, continuing to help Ho Chi Minh City to overcome all difficulties and obstacles with regards to the mechanisms and policies and create favorable conditions for the city to successfully implement the directions and tasks set by the Party.

The Party Central Committee Office will coordinate with the concerned agencies in monitoring and inspecting the implementation of the Resolution and the conclusion, regularly reporting to the Politburo and the Party Central Committee's Secretariat.

Farmers withdraw from growing safe dragon fruit because low price

In order to expand its market and provide safe fruit to consumers, for eight years, farmers in the central province of Binh Thuan had followed VietGAP standards (Vietnamese Good Agricultural Practice), yet consumption of the fruit declined resulting in farmers’ despair. 

According to the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, dragon fruit is grown in over 27,500 hectare of accounting for 63 percent of the province’s agriculture land.

In 2009, to meet the market’s demand and for sustainable development of the tree, People’s Committee in Binh Thuan Province encouraged local people to grow the fruit in accordance to VietGAP standards.

Till now, over 7,900 hectare of dragon fruit have implemented the standard with participation of 9,000 farmers in 400 cooperatives.

Head of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Pham Huu Thu said that the farm land for growing the fruit shrank and many farmers have withdrawn from the project to grow the fruit according to VietGAP standards.

As per the center for dragon fruit development center in Binh Thuan, in first six months of the year, no more land for growing the fruit are certified VietGAP.

Chairman of Dragon Fruit Association in Binh Thuan Vo Huy Hoang said farmers’ awareness of growing safe produces is high; however, price of VietGAP – standard dragon fruit is as same as normal kinds; as a result, farmers did not grown the safe fruit.

Farmer Le Thi Khiet who participated in growing VietGAP – standard dragon fruit in three years in Ham Thuan Bac District said it requires time, efforts to grow the fruit according to VietGAP standards yet its price is as same as non-standard fruit; as a result, farmers decided not to grow VietGAP- standard fruit any more.

Moreover, safe fruit is smaller and less beautiful looking than their unsafe counterpart because farmers do not utilize pesticide, so traders refuse to buy.  

Farmer Pham Huu Thu said that over 80 percent of dragon fruit in Binh Thuan is exported to China where safe standards are not required; however, in the future, if Chinese authority requires safe fruit and certificate, the local sector will face barriers.

To solve the problem, the chairman of fruit association said that at first authority should place safe fruit at top priority and buy all; people will take part in growing safe fruit project when consumption of these fruit is ensured.

Additionally, the government should buy VietGAP-standard fruit a bit more expensive as an incentive.

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