BUSINESS IN BRIEF 9/12

Forum talks future of retail banking in Industry 4.0






The trend of cashless payment and digitalisation in personal banking services is generating major opportunities and challenges to banks, especially amid Industry 4.0, according to a 2017 report on banking services compiled by IDG Vietnam Co. Ltd.

The information was highlighted at the Retail Banking Forum in Hanoi on December 6. The forum on the future of retail banking and payment services in the Industry 4.0 era was part of a series of workshops and events on smart city building.

The report said e-banking is increasingly popular in Vietnam with the rate of e-banking users reaching 81 percent at present, compared to only 21 percent in 2015. Financial technology (fintech) solutions are also gaining greater preference due to their convenience and modern security solutions.

The trend of cashless payment and digitalisation in personal banking services is also opening up a market for IT firms in Vietnam to provide software products serving the finance-banking sector.

Ha Huy Tuan, Vice Chairman of the National Financial Supervisory Commission, said Industry 4.0 with the appearance of an array of breakthrough technologies like Internet of Things, robotic technologies, artificial intelligence, automation, cloud computing, and big data is strongly changing many sectors and fields.

In the service industry, many new business models have appeared such as Uber and Grab (transport), Traveloka and Airbnb (tourism, hotel room booking), Alibaba and Amazon (e-commerce), Atombank and Fidor bank (digital banks without branches), he noted.

These technologies will help change the economy in general and the finance-banking sector in particular, Tuan said, adding that customers tend to use more and more new digital technologies and have higher requirements for banking services.

Financial experts said there remain many shortcomings in e-banking solutions in Vietnam such as high transaction fees, frequent interface errors, and limited customer services.

At the forum, participants discussed and shared information about new models in financial activities, new banking solutions, and digital infrastructure for the financial system. They also looked into customer data management, financial management in the use of big data, the use of artificial intelligence to calculate banking products and customer segments, personal information security, and the development of retail banking services.

HCMC sets 20 targets for 2018

HCMC on December 4 set 20 targets for 2018, including for socio-economic development, environmental protection and public administration reform.

The city will focus on reviewing and adjusting the land planning for service and trade, industry, transport, housing and social infrastructure. 

It will also accelerate work on traffic infrastructure, exhibition center, financial center, flood control, and waste treatment projects, as well as the rebuilding of old condo blocks.

Speaking at the opening of a HCMC People’s Council meeting on December 4, Nguyen Thi Quyet Tam, chairwoman of the council, said the city has achieved encouraging socio-economic results this year.

The city’s economic growth is higher than last year. The business environment has changed for the better and the application of technology has helped improve urban planning.

However, Tam said administration reform remains slow, and flooding, traffic congestion, environmental pollution and child abuse have not been effectively handled.

The city needs to take more drastic measures to improve the quality of economic growth, labor productivity and standards of living, she said.

According to vice chairman of the city government Le Thanh Liem, the city’s gross regional domestic product (GRDP) has grown 8.25% year-on-year and budget collection has amounted to VND347 trillion (US$15.27 billion), beating the full-year plan.

Total incoming remittances to the city have reached US$5.2 billion, with 70% of it used for investment. Almost 100% of the citizens have had access to clean water, exports have tripled compared to 2016 and the consumer price index (CPI) has been under control.

Some of the main targets that the city has set for 2018 include GRDP growth of 8.3-8.5%, 46,000 enterprises established, poverty rate reduced by 1%, 130,000 new jobs created, and unemployment lower than 3.8%.

The city will strive for the top 16 in the Public Administration Performance Index (PAPI), the top 5 in the Provincial Competitiveness Index (PCI), and the top 10 in the Public Administration Reform Index (PAR Index).

CBU auto imports may exceed US$2 billion this year

Vietnam spent more than US$1.9 billion importing 84,000 completely-built-up (CBU) autos in the first 11 months of the year and the number may exceed US$2 billion in all of 2017, according to data of the General Statistics Office.

Some 7,000 CBU autos valued at US$200 million were imported last month, up 1,000 units and US$35-45 million over each of two previous months. Vietnam spent US$155 million in October and US$165 million in October importing 6,000 CBU cars from abroad.

In December, auto sales may not pick up as seen in previous years because many people are waiting until next year when the duty on CBU auto imports from ASEAN countries goes down to 0%.

Domestic auto manufacturers and assemblers may have to cut prices to compete with imports. They have actually rolled out a slew of promotion programs to attract customers.

Toyota Vietnam, Truong Hai Auto Corporation (THACO) and Hyundai Thanh Cong have announced their prices for next year so that customers can make price comparisons. Price adjustments and early price announcements by these auto firms will help customers rapidly make decisions instead of waiting until next year.

Toyota Vietnam has revised down prices of Vios, Innova and Altis vehicles, except for Camry, by 3% to 10%.

An economic expert said imported autos might be hard to enter the Vietnamese market in the first months of 2018 due to strict regulations in the Government Decree 116/2017/ND-CP regulating conditions for auto production, assembly, import and maintenance and warranty services.

Foreign currency loans increase sharply

Credit growth rate of Ho Chi Minh City rose 15.57 percent at the end of October, 2017 compared to the end of 2016, being higher 2 percent than the country’s average credit growth rate, reported Vice Director of the State Bank in Ho Chi Minh City Nguyen Hoang Minh. 

Of the number, loans in foreign currencies increased sharply at 15.38 percent. Debit balance in foreign currency loans in the first ten months of the year hiked 16 percent, being approximately loans in Vietnamese dong.

The reason is due to the stable exchange rates and low interest rates (lower than 3 percent of loans in VND a year), so businesses took advantage of the foreign currency loans to reduce costs.

Similarly, the country’s foreign currency loans also were up 11.5 percent in the first ten months of 2017 compared to the end of 2016. 

According to the National Financial Supervisory Commission, the main reason is also due to the import demand being higher than to last year.

According to circular of the State Bank, the foreign currency loans will be invalid by the end of 2017. So, the businesses will not be able to borrow foreign currency loans from the beginning of 2018 if they do not continue to be extended.

Vietnamese ministry popularizes Chinese regulations on import watermelon

The Ministry of Industry and Trade hosted an international conference to popularize Chinese regulations on import watermelon in the central province of Quang Ngai on December 6. 

The conference was attended by the ministry’s Department of Asian and African Markets and representatives from China’s Guangxi province.

In 2017, Quang Ngai province cultivates about 1,370 hectares of watermelon, up 265 hectares over last year. Average output reaches 40,783 tons and productivity hits 297.5 quintals a hectare. Still selling prices have reduced to only VND2,000-8,000 a kilogram. Pumper crop and low price drop situation has been occurring.

At the event, the Department of Asian and African Markets informed of agricultural cooperation potentials between Vietnam and China and between Vietnam and Guangxi, a large watermelon farming province in China.

In addition, it sufficiently supplied information about China’s regulations on quarantine and quality supervisions of import watermelon and consumption demand.

Statistics by the General Department of Vietnam Customs show that Vietnam exported 238,363 tons of watermelon to China with the turnover of US$106.32 million last year.

Meantime, China’s customs agency reported that Vietnamese watermelon accounts for 94 percent of the country’s import volume and 97 percent of value.

The situation of bumper crop and price drop has been because some Vietnamese businesses and households have transported watermelon and other farm produce to the northern border line with China for sale without contracts covering goods quality, payment methods and other terms.

The Department of Asian and African Markets has worked with Guangxi province’s agencies to solve problems in farm produce export import between the two countries.

Aside from that, it is working with Trade Promotion Department to publish a handbook for watermelon growers and businesses.

At the conference, representatives of businesses from China and Quang Ngai province signed a principle contract on watermelon purchase in 2018 and following years.

Vietnam tuna exports exceed yearly target

The Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP)’s target of 524 million USD in tuna exports for the year has been completed early as the figure already hit 541 million USD as of November.

According to the General Department of Vietnam Customs, in the 11 months, Vietnamese tuna’s three major markets were the US, EU and ASEAN.

However, Vietnam faced difficulties due to a “yellow card” issued by the EU as a warning for illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

VASEP General Secretary Truong Dinh Hoe said the warning has worried the seafood sector due to its direct impact on tuna exports.

Hoe said that the VASEP is working with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) to deal with the yellow card for the rest of the six-month punishment.

He noted that in 2018, the US will also apply IUU regulations in fishing, which will not only affect tuna and all seafood caught in Vietnam but aslo seafood products with material imported from elsewhere.

The VASEP representative said that in order to maintain seafood export revenue, efforts to deal with IUU warnings and regain a green card are crucial.

To control origin of seafood materials for export, the MARD has launched a national plan to prevent and minimise IUU fishing. Along with proposing to the Government an offshore fishing project, the ministry has set up a system to control domestic and imported seafood materials and monitor fishing activities.

A fisheries database has also been formed to strengthen capacity in verifying seafood origin, thus stopping illegally exploited seafood from being imported to Vietnam.

The MARD is determined to completely end IUU fishing and fishing violations in foreign waters next year. It also aims for 95 percent of all seafood’s origin to be determined at port by 2025.

Vietnam, UK seek to boost trade ties

The UK always considers Vietnam as its important and potential trade partner and wants to expand multifaceted cooperation with the Southeast Asian nation, said British Secretary of State for International Trade Liam Fox.

At a meeting with Vietnamese Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh, who paid a working visit to the UK from December 4-5, Fox reasserted the British Government’s commitment to further boosting trade ties with Vietnam. 

The two countries should take new measures and initiatives to foster bilateral trade cooperation, he said.

For his part, Anh affirmed that Vietnam has attached great importance to the multifaceted strategic partnership with the UK, and has been making every effort to promote bilateral cooperation. 

Solutions and initiatives should focus on sharing information about import policies, trade barriers and management of fake goods management as well as increasing trade promotion and market studying activities, thus facilitating two-way trade, he stressed. 

The minister proposed the UK create favourable conditions for prestigious Vietnamese exporters to join distribution networks in the UK, especially for ago-aquatic products, textiles-garments and footwear. 

Vietnam highly evaluates the dialogue mechanism of the Vietnam-UK Joint Economic and Trade Commission (JETCO), considering this as a useful channel to regularly exchange measures and solutions to remove difficulties facing enterprises. 

The upcoming 10th session of JETCO is scheduled to take place in the UK in the first quarter of 2018, focusing on ways to encourage the participation of businesses in JETCO and to enhance cooperation among localities of the two countries.

Economic and trade relations between Vietnam and the UK have been developing fruitfully in recent years, with two-way trade hitting 5.62 billion USD in 2016, up 4.3 percent year-on-year. The UK is now the third largest trade partner of Vietnam in Europe after Germany and the Netherlands.

Official visit from Poland spurs co-operation efforts

Polish President Andrzej Duda underscored the immense potential for further co-operation between Vietnam and Poland in trade and investment during his state visit to Vietnam.

Speaking at last week’s Vietnam-Poland Economic Forum on November 30, President Duda said that Vietnam is Poland’s greatest ally in the region, adding that there are no other countries or groups of people in this region that are as close to Poland as Vietnam.

He described Vietnam as an ‘Asian tiger’, with an annual GDP growth rate of more than 6 per cent. The Polish government considers Vietnam to be one of the five most promising investment and export markets for Poland worldwide.

“Vietnam could be Poland’s gateway to Asia, and Poland should be the gateway to Europe for Vietnam,” President Duda said, adding that Poland has implemented a special government programme from 2017-2019 to facilitate Polish micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises in their pursuit to do business with Vietnam.

The Vietnam-Poland Economic Forum saw the participation of 100 Vietnamese companies and 60 Polish companies seeking potential partnerships. Polish companies operate in several key areas in which Vietnam is interested, including pharmaceuticals, healthcare, banking, managerial consulting, IT, food and fruit processing, printing, and packaging.

At the forum, Hydro Vacuum inked an agreement with Vietnam Water Supply and Sewerage Association to step up its operations in Vietnam. Hydro Vacuum is the most notable Polish manufacturer of pumps and pumping systems.

In addition, the Polish Investment and Trade Agency also signed an agreement with the Vietnamese Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The two institutions will work closely to facilitate businesses from the two countries.

Meanwhile, Adamed Group would spend $50 million acquiring a controlling stake in Davipharm Co., Ltd., Vietnam’s fastest-growing pharmaceutical firm, marking the largest direct Polish investment in Vietnam to date.

The purchase agreement was officially signed by Adamed general director Małgorzata Adamkiewicz and founder of Davipharm Pham Tai Truong on November 28 in Hanoi, in the presence of each country’s respective president.

According to President Duda, these agreements are expected to trigger a new wave of investment from Poland to Vietnam. On November 30, he also joined the inaugural ceremony of the representative office of the Polish Investment and Trade Agency in Ho Chi Minh City. The Foreign Trade Office will facilitate trade, business, and investment co-operation between businesses from the two countries.

Poland also provides official development assistance to Vietnam. The latest framework credit agreement, worth €250 million ($296.5 million), was signed during the visit.

For Poland, Vietnam is its most important economic partner and biggest trade partner in ASEAN. After the ASEAN Economic Community entered into force, Vietnam became a primary gate through which international firms can access the ASEAN market. It is also one of the most important markets for all non-European countries, with a total bilateral trade turnover of nearly $2 billion in 2016 and $1.58 billion in the first nine months of 2017.

The strong position of Vietnam in Polish trade development strategy was confirmed when the Polish government placed Vietnam on its list of the top five markets in the world with the most potential for trade. The main sectors where co-operation is most dynamic are agro-food and pharmaceuticals. Agro-food accounts for nearly 65 per cent of Poland’s overall exports to Vietnam, while Polish pharmaceuticals have significant export value within Vietnam as well.

There is also a lot of potential in other sectors, such as cosmetics and diet supplements; green technologies like clean energy, eco-transport and wastewater treatment; software and IT systems; and heavy industries like mining, shipbuilding, machinery, and equipment for agricultural production and food processing.

Tek Experts launches second arm in Hanoi

On December 7, Tek Experts Vietnam will launch its second office in Hanoi as part of its business expansion strategy to maintain the robust and sustainable development of the firm’s operations in the information technology (IT) sector.

Located at a prime location on Nguyen Chi Thanh Street, the second office of Tek Experts is spectacularly accommodating with large open spaces and a panoramic view of the city. The IT firm also provides its staff with an Xbox 360 gaming station and software test areas with the intent of delivering in-depth product experiences and support soft skills in customer service.

Previously, on August 9, the IT firm launched its first office in Lotte Center Hanoi, which is one of the company’s three largest offices in the world.

Company founder Yaniv Natan noted, “Tek Experts is known for offering exceptional services to our clients and their customers around the world. Our clients recognise the value we bring to their business, the commitment we have to their success and our dedication to providing an exceptional customer experience. Because of our success in the commercial space we have been given a great opportunity to provide that same level of service to consumers in a number of new and exciting spaces.”

The founder also said more appealing job offers will be posted for Vietnamese staff to fill out the second office.

Likewise, speaking about the second launch in Hanoi, Nguyen Manh Tuong, country manager of Tek Experts Vietnam, asserted, “The second office of Tek Experts Vietnam will bring a breakthrough for the firm to conquer different fields. Besides, the firm’s investment in Tek Academy exemplifies our commitment to nurture young talent in Vietnam, altering the mindset of people who assume IT is not their strength and offering a wide range of employment opportunities."

In December, the IT service supplier will launch Tek Academy to provide training courses of IT-related skills, soft skills, and English language skills for young adults interested in the field and also for non-IT individuals. The IT-specialised academy expects to train 900 students by the end of 2018.

Tek Experts is a global provider of IT products, business outsourcing support services, and cloud-based software solutions to blue-chip enterprises. The IT firm’s operations are currently present in seven markets, including Bulgaria, China, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Malta, the US, and Vietnam.

Tek Academy offers training programmes designed to further the skill development of attendees, such as advancing soft skills, language skills, and IT-related specialisation skills in order to match Tek Experts’ new business strategy.

Nissan, Honda recall cars to fix problems     

Viet Nam Register (VR) has announced the recall of 3,073 Nissan Navara pickup trucks, imported from Thailand, manufactured from September 20, 2010, to December 1, 2014, due to airbag faults.

According to the Japanese automaker Nissan, front passenger airbags in Nissan Navara LE and Navara XE are manufactured by Takata. After long-term exposure to the environment, the air blower can be exposed to moisture, which prevents normal operation as per the design.

Nissan Viet Nam will check and replace the air pump for LE and XE versions of Navara pickup trucks.

The repairing duration is 1.3 hours per truck and the programme is scheduled to begin on December 20, 2017, and finish on December 20 next year.

VR also noticed the recall of 652 Honda cars, including Accord CR3 produced in 2012, Accord CR2 manufactured from 2013 to 2016 and Odyssey cars manufactured in the 2015-2017 period.

According to Honda Viet Nam, handling the contact surface of the rear-view mirror control switch on the car is not suitable. If used for a long time it can get oxidised, which will result in the rear-view mirror on the car door getting automatically folded when the vehicle is running, parking, or not working when the switch is on. When this happens, the driver’s vision will be affected and may even cause accidents.

Honda vehicles, which are affected by this problem will be checked and repaired free of charge at an estimated time of 12 minutes per car.

The repairing programme will take place from December 25, 2017, to December 24, 2018.

Japan, Viet Nam co-operate on RD     

Daiwa Institute of Research (DIR) and FPT Corporation have signed a memorandum of understanding regarding joint co-operation for research and development into frontier technology.

The memorandum, which was signed on Tuesday, will create a mutual link between the technological strengths of DIR and FPT to be applied to frontier technology research and development fields aimed at providing services with increased added value.

It targets four fields of Japanese-language related artificial intelligence (AI) services, robotic process automation (RPA), technologies in relation to self-driving and blockchains.

DIR is a member of Daiwa Securities Group, the second largest securities company in Japan. DIR provides services in research, consulting, and system solutions.

Yoriyuki Kusaki, DIR president, said that DIR was providing Daiwa Securities Group with solutions that utilised cutting-edge technologies.

“Through our co-operation with Daiwa Securities Group, we aim to further improve our knowhow in frontier technologies, and will work towards creating new value to enable an even greater expansion of information technology in Japan,” he added.

Truong Gia Binh, FPT Chairman said that this was the first time FPT had sealed its co-operation with an international research institute to develop and research on the latest technologies – the platforms of Industry Revolution 4.0.

“This handshake will cultivate a new pathway to leverage technologies of both companies,” he said. “When speed is among the key factors to success in this Industry Revolution 4.0, this strategic co-operation is our motivation to accelerate speed of technology development and to quickly apply solutions and applications based on the latest technologies from the two parties’ researches into the empirical operation of enterprises across the globe.”

Previously, FPT and Daiwa Institute of Research BI (DIR BI) announced they were collaborating in providing a wide range of cloud services for enterprises with Internet of Things-related business in December last year.

Accordingly, FPT and DIR BI will be in co-operation of consulting, transitioning to public cloud as well as providing managed services on cloud after transformation for Japanese customers.

VN to gain $3.6b from vegetable, fruit exports     

Viet Nam is estimated to gain US$3.6 billion in vegetable and fruit exports for this entire year, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The ministry said the export value of vegetable and fruit products has increased sharply recently. The value was $2.4 billion in 2016 while it reached $3.1 billion in the first 11 months of 2017, a year-on-year growth of 43.2 per cent, including $292 million in November 2017, Cong An Nhan Dan e-newspaper reported.

In the first 11 months of 2017, China, Japan, the United States and South Korea were the four largest export markets for Vietnamese vegetable and fruit products, accounting for 84.7 per cent of the total national export value of vegetable and fruit products.

Viet Nam’s export value of vegetable and fruit products increased strongly by 67.6 per cent to Japan, 56.9 per cent to the United Arab Emirates and 52.7 per cent to China.

Exports of vegetable and fruit products have exceeded the exports of other key export products such as rice, rubber, tea and cashew nut.

The Viet Nam Vegetable and Fruit Association said local vegetable and fruit products have been exported to 40 countries and territories and these products achieved a breakthrough in exports over the past two years.

Vegetable and fruit exports are expected to gain higher growth in the future. 

Retail petrol prices kept stable     

The retail prices of RON 92 petrol and E5 bio-fuel remained unchanged at VND18,580 (81 US cents) and VND18,243 per litre, respectively, at 3pm on Tuesday after continuous increases in recent months.

In addition, the price for oil was also kept stable at VND13,617 per litre and mazut at VND12,382 per kilo.

The price of diesel was slightly increased by VND150 to VND15,169 per litre.

The ministries of industry and trade and finance said the decision came following a small decrease in the world petrol price.

The finance ministry also said average petrol price in the world market over the past 15 days had slightly decreased slightly from $73.3 to $73.2 per barrel.

The ministries decided to use the petrol price stabilisation fund to stabilise retail prices.

Accordingly, RON 92 petrol was subsidised by VND585 per litre and E5 bio-fuel by VND604 per litre. The fund also used VND388 for diesel, VND485 for oil and VND239 for mazut.

In the latest adjustment, the domestic retail price of RON 92 petroleum increased by VND434 to trade at a maximum of VND18,580 per litre

Petrol prices have seen less than 23 adjustments, so far, this year, with nine increases, nine decreases and four instances of staying unchanged. 

Long An Border Gate a key economic hub     

Long An Border Gate Economic Zone in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta province of Long An is identified as an economic, cultural-social centre in the province, an official said.

During a recent interview with the Vietnam News Agency, Nguyen Van Duoc, vice chairman of Long An People’s Committee, said Long An Border Gate Economic Zone serves as a bridge between HCM City and 12 provinces in the southern delta region, as well as a trade hub linking the Greater Mekong Sub-regions.

It also shares a western border with Cambodia.

Approved by the then Prime Minister in 2015 with orientation to 2030, Long An Border Gate Economic Zone has an area of over 13,080ha, including Binh Hiep International Border Gate Economic Zone and Long Khot Sub-Border Gate, both in Binh Hiep Commune in Kien Tuong Town.

Nguyen Van Vu, chairman of Kien Tuong Town People’s Committee, said in the past two years, Kien Tuong has created favourable conditions for the development of trade and services, focusing on mobilising investment resources for the development of Binh Hiep Border Gate.

Kien Tuong Town’s authorities have cooperated closely with the authorities of Long An Province to upgrade infrastructure systems and create a land fund of more than 100ha to be ready to welcome investment flow from domestic and foreign investors for Binh Hiep economic zone.

The Management Board of Long An’s Economic Zones has granted the investment registration certificate for a project of Tainan Enterprises Co Ltd, with an area of some 17ha. The company has been in operation since the end of 2016, with total investment of more than US$65 million, creating employment for some 2,000 local workers.

According to Truong Van Trieu, head of the Management Board of Long An’s Economic Zones, in recent years, there have been many domestic and foreign investors expressing keenness to invest in Binh Hiep Border Gate Economic Zone.

Trieu said all investment projects in Binh Hiep Border Gate Economic Zone enjoy incentives in corporate income tax and personal income tax.

“The management board will create favourable conditions for enterprises when investing in Binh Hiep Border Gate Economic Zone and to access medium-term loans with preferential interest rate,” Trieu said.

Tran Van Can, chairman of Long An People’s Committee, said the province is looking forward to the Government’s investment capital allocation in the external transport system linking Binh Hiep Border Gate Economic Zone with the southern key economic region and HCM City, building socio-economic technical infrastructure in the area.

Can said in the future, Long An Province will continue to create a healthy business environment to attract investment in Long An Border Gate Economic Zone.

“The province will prioritise hi-tech and environmentally friendly projects, developing Binh Hiep Border Gate Economic Zone in a sustainable and friendly manner, ensuring border security,” he said. 

Firms warned on int’l payment risks

Vietnamese firms should study their trade partners carefully, choose suitable payment methods and buy exchange rate insurance to avoid risks when making international payment, a seminar heard in HCM City on December 5.

Bui Thi Thanh An, deputy director of the Vietnam Trade Promotion Agency (Vietrade), said Vietnam trades with more than 180 countries and territories, with its main partners including the EU, the US, Japan, ASEAN members, and China.

Together with economic growth, Vietnam’s exports have also been increasing year after year, she said.

Its total trade rose 6.6 percent last year to 349.2 billion USD, she said.

“International payments are an inseparable part of import-export activities.

“But there are risks involved in international payments. Risks can arise at any stage during the transaction process and to any party – exporter, importer or bank.”

The seminar on “International payment in import-export activities” sought to help domestic firms understand the potential risks in international payments, she added.

The basic payment methods include cash-in-advance, letters of credit (LCs), collections, open account, and consignment, with LCs being one of the most secure.

Delegates said since 2013, businesses have reduced LC payments and switched to direct payments via wire transfer to reduce costs.

Nguyen Thi Thu Hang, deputy director of An Binh Commercial Joint Stock Bank’s international payment centre, warned that this method poses the risk of being attacked by cyber criminals.

People could attack the emails of sellers, buyers or suppliers and send fake wire transfer requests, she said.

Thus, when companies receive email requests for urgent payments, they must always verify the request via telephone, she said.

Talking about risks involved in payment, Bui Quang Tin, lecturer at the Banking University of HCM City and CEO of Biz Light, said they include credit risk, ethic risk, national risk, and exchange-rate risk.

To reduce the risks, firms need to carefully study their business partners in terms of transaction history, prestige, products, services, payment capacity, bank issuing LCs and others, he said.

They should buy exchange rate insurance and chose appropriate payment methods, and consult legal and international payment experts, he added.

Vietnam holds talk with Argentine importers to boost trade

The Embassy of Vietnam in Argentina hosted a talk with local importers to promote trade between the two countries in Buenos Aires on December 5.

Opening the event, Ambassador Dang Xuan Dung gave the Argentine businesses an overview of Vietnam’s socio-economic development after three decades of “Doi moi” period, highlighting that the country has remained as one of the fastest-growing economies in Southeast Asia for years.

Vietnam’s foreign trade increased four-fold after becoming a member of the World Trade Organisation a decade ago, exceeding 400 billion USD this year, he said.

The country has so far signed 12 free trade agreements and been negotiating four new others, Dung noted, adding that he looks forward to Argentina backing Vietnam to ink a trade deal with MERCOSUR (the Southern Common Market that gathers Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay).

He noted that the bilateral trade between Vietnam and Argentina rose by 20 percent annually from 2012-2016, after the two nations established comprehensive partnership in 2010; and they still have great potential to expand the lists of export items to each other.

Echoing Dung’s view, President of the chamber of importers of Argentina (CIRA) Ruben Oscar Garcia affirmed determination of the Argentine government to open the local market and provide opportunities for domestic firms to expand trade with foreign partners.

The two-way trade reached 2.3 billion USD and 2.9 billion USD in 2015 and 2016, respectively. It is expected to gain 3.5 billion USD this year, he said.

Vietnam is now Argentina’s sixth largest trade partner with key currency earners being footwear, electronics, textile and garment and agricultural machines while the South American country is Vietnam’s second biggest supplier of foods and farm produces.

Forum celebrates strong VN-RoK ties

The first-ever Maekyung Korea-Vietnam Forum is scheduled to open in Hanoi on December 6 as part of activities to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Vietnam-Republic of Korea (RoK) relations.

Organised by Seoul-based Maekyung Media Group, the Korea Cultural Industry Forum and the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), the forum focuses on building new partnerships, gathering some 350 participants, of whom 70-80 people are CEOs.

“Since the beginning of diplomatic relations between the RoK and Vietnam in 1992, the two countries have developed a strong bond. Now the two states are living under a “one-day living zone”, said Chang Dae-whan, Chairman and Publisher of Maekyung Media Group.

“This year’s Korea-Vietnam Forum will be an opportunity to gather the brilliant minds of the world to find ways to reinvigorate the Korean economy through strengthening its ties with Vietnam,” Chang said.

Vietnam and the RoK’s fourth largest trading partner and investment destination while the RoK is Vietnam’s third largest trading partner and largest foreign investor.

Trade between the two nations has increased 91-fold, from 500 million USD in 1992 to 45.1 billion USD in 2016. The ASEAN-Korea FTA (2005), Vietnam’s joining of the World Trade Organisation in 2007, and the Vietnam-Korea FTA (2015) have contributed to expanding bilateral trade.

“The investment of RoK companies in Vietnam has gradually advanced from labour-intensive industries such as sewing and textiles to high value-added ones. In particular, business possibilities related to the fourth Industrial Revolution are increasing,” said Chang.

People-to-people ties between the two countries have strengthened. Vietnam is an attractive destination for Korean tourists. Some 1.5 million Korean visitors visited Vietnam in 2016. Vietnamese people, especially youngsters, are now quite familiar with Korean culture.

The forum will feature presentations by both governments’ representatives, namely Deputy Prime Minister Of Vietnam Trinh Dinh Dung, VCCI Chairman Vu Tien Loc, Korean Ambassador to Vietnam Lee Hyuk, and Lee In-ho, RoK Vice Minister for Trade, Industry and Energy.

It is also gathering speakers and decision makers across various industries, sharing visions and insights on a wide range of issues, including ‘New Business Partnership in the 4th Industrial Revolution Era’, ‘Enhancing Korea-Vietnam Cooperation’,  ‘The current state of Hallyu (Korean Wave) in Vietnam’ and ‘The Future of Vietnam’s cultural industry through Korea-Vietnam cooperation’.

Notably, the event will highlight the two countries’ efforts in strengthening Vietnam’s competitiveness in the 4th Industrial Revolution through public-private cooperation, with key tasks including improving internet and energy supply infrastructure, fostering professionals for the 21st century, and enhancing technological competitiveness.

Vietnam, UK seek to boost trade ties

The UK always considers Vietnam as its important and potential trade partner and wants to expand multifaceted cooperation with the Southeast Asian nation, said British Secretary of State for International Trade Liam Fox.

At a meeting with Vietnamese Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh, who paid a working visit to the UK from December 4-5, Fox reasserted the British Government’s commitment to further boosting trade ties with Vietnam. 

The two countries should take new measures and initiatives to foster bilateral trade cooperation, he said.

For his part, Anh affirmed that Vietnam has attached great importance to the multifaceted strategic partnership with the UK, and has been making every effort to promote bilateral cooperation. 

Solutions and initiatives should focus on sharing information about import policies, trade barriers and management of fake goods management as well as increasing trade promotion and market studying activities, thus facilitating two-way trade, he stressed. 

The minister proposed the UK create favourable conditions for prestigious Vietnamese exporters to join distribution networks in the UK, especially for ago-aquatic products, textiles-garments and footwear. 

Vietnam highly evaluates the dialogue mechanism of the Vietnam-UK Joint Economic and Trade Commission (JETCO), considering this as a useful channel to regularly exchange measures and solutions to remove difficulties facing enterprises. 

The upcoming 10th session of JETCO is scheduled to take place in the UK in the first quarter of 2018, focusing on ways to encourage the participation of businesses in JETCO and to enhance cooperation among localities of the two countries.

Economic and trade relations between Vietnam and the UK have been developing fruitfully in recent years, with two-way trade hitting 5.62 billion USD in 2016, up 4.3 percent year-on-year. The UK is now the third largest trade partner of Vietnam in Europe after Germany and the Netherlands.

Vietnam Expo 2017 kicks off in HCM City

The 15th Vietnam International Trade Fair (Vietnam Expo 2017) opened at the Saigon Exhibition and Convention Centre (SECC) in Ho Chi Minh City on December 6.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Nguyen Van Nga, head of the South Agency of the Ministry of Industry and Trade said that Vietnam Expo is among the largest trade fairs held in HCM City, featuring 750 businesses from 16 countries and territories, including India, the Republic of Korea (RoK), Indonesia, Malaysia, the US, Germany and China.

The expo continues to be an important bridge to connect Vietnamese and foreign enterprises, allowing them to meet and exchange views on business cooperation.

It is also a destination where policymakers can update the latest waves of market and producers can popularise their trademarks as well as expand consumption network.

Director of the Vietnam National Trade Fair & Advertising Company (Vinexad) Saigon Pham Van Khanh said participating companies want to introduce their new items for 2018 with the aim of seeking customers’ feedback for evaluating the market’s demand.

On showcase at 800 booths of the event will be various products such as electronic devices and products, hardware products and hand tools, construction materials and household products-consumer goods.

A highlight of the event is the area displaying products of the RoK, with the participation of 140 businesses from the country. The firms also voiced their hope to bolster cooperation with their counterparts from Vietnam and other countries in the region through the Vietnam Expo 2017.

The same time, the Vietnam Hardware and Hand Tools Expo 2017 also kicked off at the SECC with 250 booths of 200 firms. The event introduces various types of new products and technologies, such as gardening tools, compressors, metal materials, automatic devices and chemicals.

Aside from the world major brands such as Bosch, Sealey, Onishi, Yanase, Brunox, Nikawa, Knipex, Makita and Abus joining the event, it is viewed as a significant chance for Vietnamese businesses to update new technologies and expand cooperation, promoting domestic manufacturing and supporting industries.

In addition, many specialised seminars will be held during the exhibition time, with the participation of Vietnamese and international experts.

The two events both run until December 9.

Japanese Sojitz Planet forms $32-million venture with Rang Dong Plastics

Japan’s Sojitz Planet Corporation formed a strategic partnership with Rang Dong Plastics JSC on December 5 to set up a new venture called Rang Dong Long An.

With a total investment capital of $32 million, Rang Dong Long An is a 80:20 venture between Rang Dong Plastics and Sojitz Planet. The project will house three factories on an 8.7-hectare area in the southern province of Long An. The factories will apply the latest technology from Germany, Italy, Japan, Taiwan, and Korea.

Ho Duc Lam, chairman of Rang Dong Plastics JSC, said that Rang Dong Long An is slated to put into operation in March 2018. With new investment and co-operation, Rang Dong Plastics aims to become a leading plastic supplier in Vietnam and one of the top 10 manufacturers in the Asia-Pacific by 2020.

Meanwhile, Sojitz will contribute to the business development of Rang Dong Group’s high functional materials. Sojitz has the distribution right of plant-delivered poly ethylene called Green PE in the Asia and Oceania region. Green PE is produced from sugarcane by Braskem in Brazil. The firm will supply Green PE to Rang Dong to produce environmental-friendly products for customers.

In the domestic market, Sojitz Planet has been collaborating with over 20 Sojitz Group companies. Taking advantage of this network, the firm will supply Rang Dong products to Ministop Vietnam operated by Sojitz Retail Sections. In its overseas markets, Sojitz Planet has already started supplying Rang Dong products in Cambodia, Myanmar, and the Philippines.

In addition, Sojitz Planet will support research and development, factory environment improvement, as well as human resources training by the professional supervisors from Sojitz and Japanese partners.

Sojitz Planet Corporation is the plastic division of Sojitz Corporation—a Japanese general trading company. With 27 branches all over the world, Sojitz Planet has a turnover of US$1.8 billion and is currently trading over one million tonnes of plastic resins annually.

Rang Dong manufactures and trades in industrial, household, and engineering plastic products in Vietnam. Besides domestic channels, Rang Dong constantly increases exports to major markets, such as the US, Japan, Korea, Holland, Taiwan, the Middle East, Nigeria, Thailand, Myanmar, and the EU.

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