BUSINESS IN BRIEF 5/5
Haiphong as epicentre of investment in north Vietnam

On April 23, the European Chamber of Commerce and Deep C Industrial Zones co-organised a Haiphong Investment Seminar for the business community in Ho Chi Minh City, with the support of KPMG and Saigon New Port.

The seminar followed recent major infrastructure developments in the northern city of Haiphong involving intermodal transport (seaway, airway, road, waterway, and railway) that are game changers for foreign direct investment attraction and economic growth of both Haiphong and the northern region.

Haiphong is home to the biggest deep sea port in northern Vietnam, Haiphong International Gateway Port or Lach Huyen Deep Sea Port. Haiphong International Container Terminal, a joint venture between local company Saigon Tan Cang Port and its partners–Mitsui OSK Lines, Wan Hai Lines, and Itochu Corporation–will develop the first two container berths.

With a draft of 14 metres, vessels with a capacity of 14,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) will be able to make calls at Haiphong, which is a significant improvement compared to the existing 2,000 TEU port. Once put into use in May, the port will lead to greater cross-border connectivity for the city and its

surroundings. Specifically, shipping time to Europe will be substantially reduced from 30 to 23-25 days, time to the US East Coast will drop from 35 to 27-30 days, and time to the US West Coast will shrink from 20 to 13-15 days, thanks to new direct routes and the omission of transhipment.

Haiphong International Gateway Port is connected to the hinterland with other giant infrastructure projects, including highway connections to Hanoi, the coastal provinces, Quang Ninh, and China, as well as Cat Bi International Airport.

The development of infrastructure and transportation networks has turned Haiphong into northern Vietnam’s main gateway to regional and world markets. In particular, it lowered the barriers to Vietnam’s major trading partners, such as Europe, the US, the ASEAN, and China, turning Haiphong into northern Vietnam’s “new Ho Chi Minh City.”

According to Hans Kerstens, international business development manager of Deep C, Haiphong is the fastest-growing city in Vietnam, with a GDP growth rate of 14 per cent. The city has the necessary infrastructure, reliable utilities, labour supply, and a strategic location for investors to make the best of new opportunities from various free trade agreements. Haiphong has become a destination for established brand names such as Accor Group, Hilton, Daiwa House, Fujita, and AEON. Investments from these market leaders have been pouring into the city, aimed to develop facilities for business, but also forming a vibrant expatriate community.

As a result, foreign investors can enjoy convenient access to a wide range of amenities like international banks, accommodation, restaurants, hospitals, and international schools. Deep C Industrial Zones is poised to become a regional hub for foreign investment. It possesses excellent connectivity to transport infrastructure, including the existing Dinh Vu Port and Lach Huyen Port, in addition to the aforementioned highway and airport connections.

The industrial zone itself is a modern facility integrating international standards and a philosophy of reliability into its operations. Investors are connected to a reliable utilities system ensuring stable operations throughout (including power, water, wastewater, fire-fighting, and drainage). It also promotes renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power for sustainable development.

“Deep C lies in the heart of Haiphong’s infrastructure network, offering investors advantages not only in logistics, but also international-standard utilities provision, economic zone tax incentives, and support for investors to start businesses,” said Kerstens. This tax package allows savings on corporate income tax for 15 years and on personal income tax for the project’s lifetime.

“The development in the region also catches the attention of European investors. This is the reason EuroCham started its northeastern chapter last year,” said EuroCham’s executive director Almut Roessner.

First trimester FDI falls by a solid third

In the first four months of the year, Vietnam saw decreasing foreign direct investment (FDI) capital, while overall foreign investment capital increased by 67 per cent on-year.

According to the statistics of the Foreign Investment Agency (FIA) of the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI), in the first four months of this year Vietnam attracted $8.06 billion in foreign investment capital, reaching approximately two-third or 76.1 per cent of last year's figure. However, the disbursed FDI capital was $4.5 billion, up 6.3 per cent.

Notably, as of April 20, 883 newly-registered projects received investment certificates with the total capital of $3.55 billion, which was 76.1 per cent of last year's figure, while 303 existing projects received added capital of $2.24 billion, 51.5 per cent. Meanwhile, 1,863 M&A deals were signed with a total investment capital of $2.26 billion, up 67 per cent.

In the first four months of this year, foreign investors invested in 17 industries nationwide. The processing and manufacturing industry still kept the top position with a total of $4.52 billion, equaling 56.1 per cent of the total FDI inflows. The runners-up are the real estate industry with $807.5 million and the wholesale and retail industry with $779 million.

Besides, Vietnam’s cities and provinces saw changes in the ranking of provinces and cities receiving the largest FDI volume as well as the ranking of the largest foreign investors.

Notably, foreign investors poured capital into 53 cities and provinces across the country. Ho Chi Minh City ranked first with $1.92 billion, making up 23.8 per cent of the total FDI inflow, while Haiphong received the second largest FDI volume with $1.03 billion, equaling 12.8 per cent of the total. Hanoi overcame Binh Duong to become the third largest investee with $746 million.

Additionally, Japan returned to the top three largest foreign investors during January-April. The three largest foreign investors in Vietnam were South Korea with $2.34 billion in registered investment capital, Japan with $1.29 billion, and Singapore with $808 million.

Notable M&A deals in the first four months of the year

1. Nawaplastic’s purchase of Binh Minh Plastic: Nawaplastic spent approximately VND2.329 trillion ($102.33 million) buying 24.139 of the 24.159 million shares on offer at the initial price of VND96,500 ($4.24). The deal increased Nawaplastic’s holdings in BMP to 49.9 from 20.4 per cent.

2. Itochu and Vinatex: Itochu Group spent $46.9 million buying an additional 10 per cent stake in Vietnam National Textile and Garment Group (Vinatex). The deal increased Itochu’s holding in Vinatex to 15 per cent, making it the second largest shareholder of the group, following the Ministry of Industry and Trade (53 per cent).

3. Shinhan Card’s acquisition of Prudential Vietnam Finance: Shinhan Financial Group’s subsidiary finalised the acquisition, stating that it would grab 100 per cent of the shares of Prudential Vietnam Finance, which was commensurate with KRW161.4 billion ($150.8 million).

4. Lotte Card acquired Techcom Finance: the Seoul-headquartered credit card firm took over 100 per cent of Techcom Finance from Techcombank, becoming the first South Korean credit card firm to engage in the Vietnamese finance and banking sector. According to newswire The Investor, the deal could climb up to VND1.7 trillion ($74.67 million) in value.

Eximbank shareholders infuriated at slow response to crises

At its annual shareholders' general meeting on April 27, the troubled Eximbank held its ground that it must wait for the official court ruling before returning depositors’ stolen money. Several shareholders have expressed their disappointment with the bank.

In particular, Eximbank said at the meeting that it is working closely with regulators to prosecute the dishonest bankers. However, despite protests from Chu Thi Binh, the female billionaire who lost $10.8 million of her savings at Eximbank, the bank still refused to reimburse her and repeated that it must receive official court orders first.

As in the case of six customers in Nghe An province who collectively lost $2.2 million of their savings, Eximbank said it has postponed a court meeting yesterday to focus on the AGM. The decision has been met with opposition from the customers and their lawyers who argued that the case is not related in any way.

At the meeting, Eximbank CEO Le Van Quyet said the bank will “try its best to stand beside the customer and solve all issues according to the law.” According to the CEO, in response to the scandals, Eximbank has revamped its security system, re-installing the fingerprint identification step and rotating branch leaders to prevent wrongdoings.

However, the shareholders at the meeting remained vocal about their disappointment. An 85-year-old shareholder said the bank’s inadequate response to crises has tainted its reputation and passed the burden to shareholders. Another investor wanted the board to resign and take full responsibility for their actions.

“What were you doing when your employees embezzled the funds? How can you ask shareholders to pay for such a serious oversight on your part?” a shareholder questioned the board.

CEO Quyet repeated that the bank has detected the wrongdoings at the early stages and immediately notified customers afterwards. He confirmed that Eximbank has conducted a thorough system-wide check and strengthened its security. No further explanation was given to shareholders.

In the meeting, former CEO of Nam A Bank Luong Thi Cam Tu was elected as a new board member. Three other nominees have dropped out of the race yesterday “due to personal reasons.”

Hotel room rates jump in Danang during holiday

Hotel room rates in the central coastal city of Danang soared up to 20 times during the just-ended holiday compared to normal business, causing a huge headache for visitors and tour operators.

Dinh Van Loc, general director of Viet Da Travel, told the Daily that he felt really shocked at the hotel room prices in Danang when searching available rooms for his customers via a well-known hotel-booking website on the recent holiday. He found that most hotels in Hoi An, Hue, Danang were full and the prices skyrocketed.

At the four-star hotel Luxtery on Danang’s Pham Van Dong Street, one suite cost nearly VND43 million, or US$1,890, per night on April 29, according to the website booking.com. At another hotel, Le Manoir Premier Danang, on the seaside street of Vo Nguyen Giap, the price of a twin room was VND13.6 million per night on the same day, Loc said.

However, room prices of the above-mentioned hotels on the page booking.com plummeted yesterday afternoon. For instance, one suite in the Luxtery hotel decreased from VND43 million as cited earlier to a mere VND5.5 million per night, while a twin room at VND455,000. The quoted prices manifest a shocking difference from eight to 20 times within just three days.

During the weekend holiday, Danang had 712 lodging facilities with 29,735 rooms, up 113 units with 7,355 rooms year-on-year. It welcomed nearly 130,000 tourists who stayed overnight, up 16.4% against the same period last year, including some 55,000 foreigners, up 22.4%, according to the municipal Department of Tourism.

Vietnam, Czech promote trade cooperation

A seminar on promoting the economic and trade cooperation between Vietnam and the Czech Republic was held in Prague on May 3.

Speeches presented at the seminar highlighted the fine diplomatic relations between the two countries over the past seven decades, which have created momentum for the development of their bilateral trade and economic cooperation.

Two-way trade has increased each year and, in 2017, two-way trade between Vietnam and the Czech Republic reached nearly US$257.6 million worth of goods, up 3% from 2016, US$151 million of which were Vietnamese exports, up 3.5% annually.

In January-February 2018, the two countries’ trade reached nearly US$50 million, up 31.3% from the same period in 2017. As of the end of February, the Czech Republic had deployed 36 valid investment projects in Vietnam, with capital at over US$90 million, ranking 49th out of the 126 nations and territories investing in Vietnam.

The seminar, jointly organised by the Vietnamese Embassy in the Czech Republic and the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Parliament of the Czech Republic, aimed to provide the Czech businesses with the latest information on the investment and business environment in Vietnam, as well as opening up new opportunities for cooperation between the two sides.

Belgian businesses seek cooperation opportunities in Vietnam

The Belgian Vietnamese Alliance (BVA) and the Flanders Investment and Trade (FIT) held a meeting on May 3 with a delegation of Belgian businesses ahead of the delegation’s visit to Vietnam from May 13-18 to explore cooperation opportunities.

The delegation of nearly 90 entrepreneurs from 65 Belgian enterprises, led by Minister-President of Flanders Geert Bourgeois, is scheduled to visit Vietnam as part of activities to celebrate the 45th founding anniversary of the two countries’ diplomatic ties.

Addressing the meeting, Vietnamese Ambassador to Belgium Vu Anh Quang praised the Flanders Minister-President for his efforts to develop the relations between Vietnam and the Flanders region in recent years.

He hoped the upcoming visit will help Vietnamese and Belgian businesses to understand more about each other’s potential as well as trade and investment cooperation opportunities.

The diplomat said the two nations are working to elevate the bilateral ties to strategic partnership in some specific fields. 

He added that the free trade agreement between EU and Vietnam, once signed and ratified, will open up numerous opportunities for Vietnamese and Belgian enterprises to strengthen connectivity and collaboration.

This will also help increase Belgium’s investment in Vietnam, particularly in the fields of shipbuilding, agriculture, high technology, and clean energy, contributing to promoting sustainable and green growth in Vietnam, the ambassador added.

For his part, Bourgeois hailed Vietnam’s strong development over the past 30 years with annual remarkable gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 6 - 7 percent. 

Vietnam holds a lot of potential for economic development, and in fact, the country has been successful not only in calling for foreign investment but also in reforming trade and administrative procedures, he said.

The Flanders leader added he has high expectations for Belgium-Vietnam partnership, adding that he hoped the two countries will work to improve trade balance in the coming time, citing the fact that the Flanders region exported 4.92 million EUR (5.8 million USD) worth of goods to Vietnam but imported 2 billion EUR from the market.

The reality shows that goods made in Belgium and Vietnam, especially farm produce, are not competitive but supplementary, enabling the two countries to boost cooperation in trade and investment, he added.

On the occasion of five-day visit to Vietnam, businesses from the Flanders region will hold meetings, promotions and field trips to promote their products and study cooperation opportunities with Vietnamese partners.-

RoK helps Vietnam develop investment information system

The Government of the Republic of Korea (RoK) will provide a non-refundable aid package worth 5.5 million USD to help Vietnam carry out a project on upgrading and developing the national investment information system for 2018-2021. 

A record of discussions to this effect was signed between Vietnam’s Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI) and the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) in Hanoi on May 3. 

The 6.2 million USD project aims to improve the ministry’s capacity for collecting, managing and analysing national database on investment, while providing online public services for investors. 

It is also seen as a tool assisting localities in granting investment licences and managing projects. 

MPI Deputy Minister Vu Dai Thang said the two sides committed to ensuring the progress of the project in order to contribute to promoting foreign direct investment (FDI) in Vietnam, and strengthening cooperation between Vietnam and the RoK. 

According to the MPI’s Foreign Investment Agency, Vietnam has to date attracted 25,524 FDI projects valued at nearly 320 billion USD. 

The RoK takes the lead among 126 countries and territories investing in Vietnam, with more than 6,800 project worth over 59 billion USD. 

In the first four months of this year, the RoK invested and expanded investments in about 420 projects with total capital of more than 2.3 billion USD, the agency said.

VNA, ST Aerospace in aircraft repair joint venture deal

Vietnam Airlines (VNA) and Singapore Technologies Aerospace Ltd (ST Aerospace) on April 26 inked a memorandum of understanding to set up a joint venture to provide maintenance services for VNA’s Airbus A321aircraft.

The joint venture, which will be headquartered at Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi, is expected to annually maintain 17,500 hi-tech parts of jetliners.

The two sides will boost cooperation in aircraft maintenance and manpower training. Meanwhile, the project will contribute to enhancing the hi-tech application in Vietnam’s aircraft maintenance and repair field.

The partnership with ST Aerospace, an arm of ST Engineering Ltd, will also enable the national flag carrier to do aircraft maintenance and repair work in Vietnam, instead of outsourcing it to partners abroad as at present, thus saving time and cost and improving aircraft’s operational efficiency.

VNA deputy general director Dang Ngoc Hoa said the project marks a new development of the local civil aviation sector. The VNA-ST Aerospace cooperation will also help strengthen bilateral economic and trade ties between the two nations.

Its partnership with VNA will help ST Aerospace expand to other markets, said ST Aerospace president Lim Serh Ghee.

ST Aerospace plans to build an aircraft parts warehouse in Vietnam to promptly meet VNA’s demand for maintaining and repairing A321 aircraft.

In October last year, the airline signed a contract with U.S. aerospace firm Pratt & Whitney (PW) to buy engines and support services for 20 A321neo aircraft.

The airline on April 26 also announced its business performance in the first quarter of this year. It said it transported nearly five million passengers and operated some 33,000 safe flights in the period, up 5% and 4.3% year-on-year respectively.

Its consolidated revenue reached nearly VND25.5 trillion (US$1.1 billion), of which the parent company generated VND18.6 trillion, up more than 13% over the same period last year.

The airline reported consolidated pre-tax profit of VND1.46 trillion, 6.2% higher than estimated. Meanwhile, the parent company’s pre-tax profit was VND875 billion, up more than 30% over the year-ago period and 13% more than the target.

During the first three months of the year, especially the Lunar New Year holiday, VNA’s passenger satisfaction and punctuality indexes hit 30% and over 90% respectively.

The ratio of passengers implementing check-in procedures via VNA’s website and mobile app or at kiosks at Tan Son Nhat, Noi Bai and Danang international airports reached nearly 50%.

Vietjet to launch new air routes

Vietjet will expand its flight network to Japan, Australia and India to meet rising air travel demand.

The low-cost carrier said at the annual general meeting on April 26 that the domestic and regional aviation markets will grow strongly this year.

The Government has identified tourism as a spearhead industry, so more foreigners will come to visit Vietnam. This is an opportunity for the airline to open new international services to capitalize.

Vietjet will open a new service connecting Vietnam and Japan, and air links between Vietnam and Australia, and between Vietnam and India.

Speaking at the meeting, Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao, CEO of Vietjet, said the profit from international services was 20% higher than that of domestic ones as the airline can sell duty-free goods in-flight and buy jet fuel at a lower price.

According to a financial report, Vietjet last year made VND42,303 billion in revenue and VND5,073 billion in after-tax profit, up 54% and 73% year-on-year respectively.

In 2018, the carrier looks to VND50,970 billion in revenue and VND5,800 billion in profit, up 20.5% and 10% respectively against last year. The 2018 dividend is expected at 50%.

Vietjet now has 55 Airbus A320 and A321 aircraft and operates 385 flights a day. It has transported over 55 million passengers on 38 domestic and 44 international routes since its debut.

Vietcombank cuts deal with SBF

The Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Foreign Trade of Vietnam (Vietcombank) has clinched a cooperation agreement with the Singapore Business Federation (SBF).

The signing of the deal coincides with the celebration of the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations, and the fifth anniversary of the establishment of strategic partnership between Vietnam and Singapore.

The signing ceremony was graced by the presence of Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc who is in Singapore to pay an official visit and participate in the 32nd ASEAN Summit.

According to the agreement, Vietcombank and SBF will join hands to foster development and efficiency of both, and support SBF in commercial expansion and investment in Vietnam.

Vietcombank will be treated as a priority bank for SBF members in banking transactions like cash management, international payment, project funding, short-term credit, guarantees and consulting on M&A deals.

Ho Meng Kit, CEO of SBF, said that under the deal, SBF members will have more favorable conditions to develop commercial activities and invest in Vietnam, contributing to boosting bilateral ties between the two nations.

Established in 2002, SBF has 25,000 members who are active in 54 sectors and supports member companies to build business links with domestic and international partners. Almost 20% of SBF member firms have already invested in Vietnam.

ABBANK to double capital, list on bourse

Shareholders at a general meeting of An Binh Commercial Joint Stock Bank (ABBANK) on April 25 agreed to double the bank’s chartered capital and listing on the HCMC bourse.

Vu Van Tien, who stepped down as chairman of the bank at the meeting, said the extra capital injection will allow the bank to increase investment in technology and governance. Local banks with over VND10 trillion in chartered capital also have plans for increasing capital this year, he noted.

ABBANK’s chartered capital of some VND5.32 trillion is low compared to other banks in Vietnam. ABBANK previously proposed merging with another bank. However, bad debt at that bank was huge at the time, making the merger impossible.

Higher capital will also contribute to increasing lending and investment while still focusing on energy, manufacturing and hi-tech agriculture projects.

After its capital increase, ABBANK will list on the Hochiminh Stock Exchange (HOSE) though it has already been trading on the market for unlisted public companies (UPCoM).

Explaining the plan to get listed on HOSE, Tien said it is a better choice for a number of reasons. In particular, the stock market has posted strong and steady growth, with bank stocks rallying. Besides, since 2017 many banks have listed on the bourse, most recently Tien Phong Bank.

Once getting approval from the board, the bank will take the next steps so that it can be on the bourse in six to eight months.

An International Finance Corporation (IFC) representative said IFC agreed with the plan of the board, but careful discussions are needed for a higher chance of success. The bank needs to take into account levels of capital rise as doubling the capital may affect indicators like the ratio of profit to equity and stock dilution.

Regarding dividend payments, Tien said ABBANK pays a share dividend for 2017.

At the meeting, shareholders elected a new board of directors for the 2018-2022 term with seven members, including Luu Van Sau and Nguyen Danh Luong as new independent members.

Dao Manh Khang, vice chairman of ABBANK, replaced Vu Van Tien as chairman of the board. Khanh has 23 years’ experience in the financial-banking sector and has been with ABBANK for over 11 years.

The current regulations ban senior bank executives, especially chairmen and CEOs, from concurrently holding leadership positions at other businesses.

Since Vu Van Tien chose to stay on chairman and CEO of Hanoi-based import-export firm Geleximco, he had to relinquish his post as chairman of ABBANK.

CPI rises 0.08 percent in April


Inundating losses may force Ha Bac Fertiliser out of business, Petrol firms suggest increasing E5-RON 95 price difference, Ministry postpones CR stamp rule to next January, Textile-garment firms vague about new regulation

Belgian businesses seek cooperation opportunities in Vietnam

The Belgian Vietnamese Alliance (BVA) and the Flanders Investment and Trade (FIT) held a meeting on May 3 with a delegation of Belgian businesses ahead of the delegation’s visit to Vietnam from May 13-18 to explore cooperation opportunities.

The delegation of nearly 90 entrepreneurs from 65 Belgian enterprises, led by Minister-President of Flanders Geert Bourgeois, is scheduled to visit Vietnam as part of activities to celebrate the 45th founding anniversary of the two countries’ diplomatic ties.

Addressing the meeting, Vietnamese Ambassador to Belgium Vu Anh Quang praised the Flanders Minister-President for his efforts to develop the relations between Vietnam and the Flanders region in recent years.

He hoped the upcoming visit will help Vietnamese and Belgian businesses to understand more about each other’s potential as well as trade and investment cooperation opportunities.

The diplomat said the two nations are working to elevate the bilateral ties to strategic partnership in some specific fields. 

He added that the free trade agreement between EU and Vietnam, once signed and ratified, will open up numerous opportunities for Vietnamese and Belgian enterprises to strengthen connectivity and collaboration.

This will also help increase Belgium’s investment in Vietnam, particularly in the fields of shipbuilding, agriculture, high technology, and clean energy, contributing to promoting sustainable and green growth in Vietnam, the ambassador added.

For his part, Bourgeois hailed Vietnam’s strong development over the past 30 years with annual remarkable gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 6 - 7 percent. 

Vietnam holds a lot of potential for economic development, and in fact, the country has been successful not only in calling for foreign investment but also in reforming trade and administrative procedures, he said.

The Flanders leader added he has high expectations for Belgium-Vietnam partnership, adding that he hoped the two countries will work to improve trade balance in the coming time, citing the fact that the Flanders region exported 4.92 million EUR (5.8 million USD) worth of goods to Vietnam but imported 2 billion EUR from the market.

The reality shows that goods made in Belgium and Vietnam, especially farm produce, are not competitive but supplementary, enabling the two countries to boost cooperation in trade and investment, he added.

On the occasion of five-day visit to Vietnam, businesses from the Flanders region will hold meetings, promotions and field trips to promote their products and study cooperation opportunities with Vietnamese partners.

Fintech use is a must for Asia-Pacific economies: seminars
     
Asia and Pacific economies must enhance their financial inclusion based on new financial technologies (fintech), senior officials said on Thursday at a high-level Asian Development Bank (ADB) seminar.

“Governments in the region can improve financial inclusion by broadening access to basic digital infrastructure and providing an enabling environment for innovators and entrepreneurs,” said ADB President Takehiko Nakao.

Policymakers in each regional country should consider methods to improve existing regulations to protect consumers from cybercrime and fraud. They should also achieve a balance between innovation and financial stability, Takehiko told the seminar.

The seminar was a part of the 51st ADB Annual Meeting held in the capital city of Manila, the Philippines, drawing attention from a number of specialists and experts in the finance and technology sectors.

It unfolded as policymakers and businesspeople are grappling with a boom in new technologies such as cryptocurrency, machine learning, big data and electronic ledger. These are the tools that can be used to improve the quality and security of the region’s financial system.

In addition, fintech is also seen as a big obstacle for poor households and small businesses in the Asia-Pacific economic region to gain access to financial services. Specialists at the seminar estimated about two billion people in the world have not gained access to finance and half of those live in the Asia-Pacific region.

Seminar panelists agreed that fintech is quite promising as it could help poor communities and groups of people and businesses overcome the challenges they face when they try to gain the collateral required for formal credit deals.

According to Mitsuhio Furusawa, deputy managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), fintech is the most promising way to boost the financial system in Asia, as it is accessible to those living in rural areas.

Thanks to fintech, financial services will become more affordable and offer better accessibility to rural residents and small- and medium-sized businesses, he said, adding that local governments will play “a crucial role in creating an environment that promotes financial inclusion while mitigating the risks.”

HCM City eyes boost to supporting industries
     
HCM City will continue to focus on developing supporting industry, and targets meeting 45 per cent of national demand for manufactured inputs by 2020 and 65 per cent by 2025.

These are said to be ambitious targets in the context that the sector is still poorly developed.

Since the city’s Decision 15/2017/QD-UBND to help businesses develop the manufacturing and supporting sectors took effect on April 24, 2017, the Department of Industry and Trade has received applications from 11 projects.

It has appraised nine projects requiring a total investment of VND943.2 billion (US$41.4 million), and two of them with a combined investment of VND222 billion have been approved by the People’s Committee for interest-subsidised loans of VND110 billion.

The department has also co-ordinated with the State Bank of Viet Nam to organise bank-business linkage programmes to actively help enterprises borrow money.

It has signed a memorandum of understanding with Vietinbank for a credit package of VND10 trillion ($438.59 million) for manufacturing and parts supply companies.

In the first quarter of this year, the department also organised some other activities to enable parts manufacturers to market their products. They included a sourcing fair for connecting supporting industry with buyers, which featured more than 230 business-to-business meetings between 17 local and FDI firms in the electronics, automobile and mechanical engineering sectors and 80 local part suppliers.

The department’s Centre for Supporting Industries Development has built a comprehensive database for the industry at http://csid.gov.vn with information about 530 out of the 860 supporting industry enterprises based in the city.

This would help parts suppliers and buyers understand each other’s capabilities and explore tie-ups.

The department has also worked with industrial parks and processing zones, and many of them such as Tan Thuan, Hiep Phuoc, Linh Trung, and Dong Nam processing zones plan to earmark areas or develop high-rise factories for supporting industry at reasonable rentals to meet demand.

According to economists, there is huge demand for spare-part products, but domestic production is unable to meet it.

HCM City has certain advantages as it seeks to develop supporting industry.

Tran Anh Hao, head of the department’s industry division, said the department would review the investment stimulus programme with regard to the manufacturing and parts sectors to submit to the city for approval.

It would also build a programme to develop the sector, identify the most promising products this year, provide training and evaluate the local content rates in the city’s four key industries (food processing, chemical-rubber, mechanics and information technology) and two traditional industries (garment and textile, and footwear), Hao said.

The city has rolled out practical support policies for enterprises to invest in upgrading their machinery and equipment and technologies, thereby increasing local content rates and enabling them to take part in the global supply chain, the department said.

Manufacturing sector regains growth momentum


Inundating losses may force Ha Bac Fertiliser out of business, Petrol firms suggest increasing E5-RON 95 price difference, Ministry postpones CR stamp rule to next January, Textile-garment firms vague about new regulation



Vietnam’s manufacturing growth picks up in April following sharp rises in new orders and output.

According to Nikkei’s report released on May 2, the Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) of the sector rose to 52.7 points in April, from 51.6 points in March. The production sector has become stronger in the past 29 months.

Substantial increases in customers’ demand and foreign orders made manufacturing rise at faster pace. Also, employment growth has been registered for 25 consecutive months. 

However, domestic producers said that a dramatic hike in input costs made a startling contrast to the weak pace of rise in output prices.

Andrew Harker, Associate Dierctor at IHS Markit which compiles the survey said that the Vietnamese manufacturers’ ability to maintain the large volume of orders is a striking point in the latest PMI report, with new export business up significantly in April. 

The competitive pricing is the prime motive for the success of a company as it explains the firm’s willingness to reduced margins in exchange for securing greater volumes of new work, he added.

The PMI survey for the manufacturing sector is based on questionnaire responses from panels of senior purchasing executives at over 400 companies majoring in eight fields of metal, chemical and plastic, electronics and optics, food and beverage, engineering, garments, wood and paper, and transportation.

The surveys have been conducted in more than 40 countries and also in key regions.  They are the most closely-watch business surveys in the world, favoured by central banks, financial markets and business decision makers for their ability to provide up-to-date, accurate and often unique monthly indicators of economic trends.

Ministry postpones CR stamp rule to next January

Apparel enterprises will have until January 1 next year instead of early this month to abide by a regulation on sticking Conformity to Regulation (CR) stamps on textile products, according to a new circular issued by the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

The ministry on May 2 approved amendments to Circular 21/2017/TT-BCT on the national standards for formaldehyde and aromatic amines derived from AZO colorants in textile products or QCVN 01 2017. Under the new circular 07/2018/TT-BCT, the date of implementation is extended to January 1, 2019 instead of May 1 as regulated in the old circular.

The delay in implementing QCVN 01 2017 is considered a leniency for textile and garment firms, as the Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association (VITAS) has admitted that many enterprises were vague about the rule while the date of implementation was nearing May 1.

The old rule, if it stands, might force many apparel traders to freeze sales of their products on the market due to insufficient standards, or such products may be subject to confiscation.

In related news, seven agencies have been picked to certify the quality of apparel products to this regard, meaning these agencies will certify whether apparel products meet criteria on contents of formaldehyde and aromatic amines. These agencies include Quatest 3 in HCMC; Hanoi and HCMC branches of Vietnam Textile Research Institute; Hanoi and Haiphong branches of Vinacontrol; Vinacontrol HCMC, and IQC Certification and Inspection JSC; and FCC Control and Fumigation JSC.

According to the regulation, formaldehyde content is capped at 30 milligrams per kilogram of textile for kids under three years old, 75 milligrams for textiles with direct skin contact and 300 milligrams for products without direct skin contact. The content of aromatic amines derived from AZO colorants does not exceed 30 milligrams per kilogram.

Textile-garment firms vague about new regulation

Many apparel enterprises have yet to learn of a new regulation effective on May 1 that they cannot market products without Conformity to Regulation (CR) stamps, which implies that such products contain amounts of formaldehyde and aromatic amines at or lower than the permissible levels.

Nguyen Thi Tuyet Mai, deputy general secretary of the Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association (VITAS) and head of VISTA’s representative office in HCMC, told the Daily that the association these days is flooded with questions about the new rule.

Numerous members of the association, mainly small and medium enterprises, are vague about the implementation of the national standards for formaldehyde and aromatic amines derived from AZO colorants in textile products, or QCVN 01 2017, which are provided in Circular 21/2017/TT-BCT, she said.

The association had announced the new regulation to its members for long but they had not paid much attention until the date the rule took effect.

Mai was afraid that such firms may be fined as their products could not meet the requirement.

According to the regulation, formaldehyde content is capped at 30 milligrams per kilogram of textile for kids under three years old, 75 milligrams for textiles with direct skin contact and 300 milligrams for textiles without direct skin contact. The content of aromatic amines derived from AZO colorants is not above 30 milligrams per kilogram of textile.

VISTA has worked with many testing companies, with charges of VND1.3-2 million imposed on textile tests, Mai noted.

The regulation will not be imposed on apparel imports including those used in production for export and local consumption.

Mai said the regulation for local textile-garment products is necessary to ensure safety for consumers. The association will monitor the implementation of the regulation and proposed to competent agencies amendments and abolishment if need be.

Tourism-related services generate US$8.1 billion

Restaurant, hotel and travel services grew strongly in the first four months of 2018, generating total revenue of VND184,900 billion, or US$8.1 billion, according to the General Statistics Office of Vietnam (GSO).

GSO data shows that hospitality services contributed VND172,000 billion and transport services VND12,900 billion to Vietnam’s economy, up 9.4% and 26.1% respectively year-on-year.

Revenues of these sectors performed strongly in Hanoi, HCMC and Haiphong cities and Thanh Hoa Province. HCMC in particular saw travel service revenue growing30.4% in the year to date.

According to the GSO, although April saw the number of tourists declining a mild 0.1% compared to March, this figure was still far higher than that of last year.

In particular, there were over 1.34 million foreign visitors to Vietnam in April, up 25.2% year-on-year. This means more than 5.5 million international visitors arrived in the country in the first four months, up 29.5% against the year-old period.

A majority of foreign tourists came from Asia with more than 4.16 million over the past four months, increasing 35% versus the same period last year.The data also showsthe Chinese account for 39.7%, or 1.77 million, and the South Koreans67.3%, nearly 1.17 million.

Meanwhile, the number of European tourists increasedby 12.9% against the first four months last year, with 843,000 arrivals.

Foreign reserves increase to US$ 63 bln, Gov't Spokesman says

Viet Nam’s foreign reserves rose to US$ 63 billion, Mai Tien Dung, Minister-Chairman of the Government Office told a room of reporters today.

Minister-Chairman of the Government Office Mai Tien Dung chairs press conference held this afternoon following the Cabinet meeting.

Dung, who is also the Government Spokesman, said the macro-economy remained stable in in the first four months this year.

Consumer price index rose 2.8% and industrial production grew 11.4% in the reviewed period compared to 6.6% of the same period last year.

Foreign arrivals increased by 29% to over 5.5 million, said Dung, adding that PM Phuc agreed to extend visa exemption for citizens of five European countries, namely the UK, France, Germany, Spain and Italy, by three years (until July 1, 2021).

This is the 3rd time, the Government has decided to extend the policy, which took effect since July 1, 2015.

Under the policy, citizens from the five European countries shall not have to apply for visa if their time limit of stay not exceeding 15 days since the day they get entry permit to Viet Nam.

The Government will continue considering institutional building, administrative reform, improvement of business environment as its top priorities in 2018, according to Dung.
Hotel room rates jump in Danang during holiday

Hotel room rates in the central coastal city of Danang soared up to 20 times during the just-ended holiday compared to normal business, causing a huge headache for visitors and tour operators.

Dinh Van Loc, general director of Viet Da Travel, told the Daily that he felt really shocked at the hotel room prices in Danang when searching available rooms for his customers via a well-known hotel-booking website on the recent holiday. He found that most hotels in Hoi An, Hue, Danang were full and the prices skyrocketed.

At the four-star hotel Luxtery on Danang’s Pham Van Dong Street, one suite cost nearly VND43 million, or US$1,890, per night on April 29, according to the website booking.com. At another hotel, Le Manoir Premier Danang, on the seaside street of Vo Nguyen Giap, the price of a twin room was VND13.6 million per night on the same day, Loc said.

However, room prices of the above-mentioned hotels on the page booking.com plummeted yesterday afternoon. For instance, one suite in the Luxtery hotel decreased from VND43 million as cited earlier to a mere VND5.5 million per night, while a twin room at VND455,000. The quoted prices manifest a shocking difference from eight to 20 times within just three days.

During the weekend holiday, Danang had 712 lodging facilities with 29,735 rooms, up 113 units with 7,355 rooms year-on-year. It welcomed nearly 130,000 tourists who stayed overnight, up 16.4% against the same period last year, including some 55,000 foreigners, up 22.4%, according to the municipal Department of Tourism.

Vietnam, Czech promote trade cooperation

A seminar on promoting the economic and trade cooperation between Vietnam and the Czech Republic was held in Prague on May 3.

Speeches presented at the seminar highlighted the fine diplomatic relations between the two countries over the past seven decades, which have created momentum for the development of their bilateral trade and economic cooperation.

Two-way trade has increased each year and, in 2017, two-way trade between Vietnam and the Czech Republic reached nearly US$257.6 million worth of goods, up 3% from 2016, US$151 million of which were Vietnamese exports, up 3.5% annually.

In January-February 2018, the two countries’ trade reached nearly US$50 million, up 31.3% from the same period in 2017. As of the end of February, the Czech Republic had deployed 36 valid investment projects in Vietnam, with capital at over US$90 million, ranking 49th out of the 126 nations and territories investing in Vietnam.

The seminar, jointly organised by the Vietnamese Embassy in the Czech Republic and the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Parliament of the Czech Republic, aimed to provide the Czech businesses with the latest information on the investment and business environment in Vietnam, as well as opening up new opportunities for cooperation between the two sides.

Vietnam Medi- Pharm 2018 aiming at grassroots healthcare

The Ministry of Health and the Vietnam Advertisement & Fair Exhibition JSC (Vietfair) and related organizations held a press conference in the afternoon of May 2 about the upcoming 25th Vietnam International Exhibitions on Products, Equipment, Supplies for Pharmaceutical, Medical, Hospital and Rehabilitation (Vietnam Medi-Pharm 2018), which will take place in Hanoi from May 9-12.

According to Mr. Nguyen Dinh Anh, Director General of the Health Communication and Reward Department under the Ministry of Health, because of the theme ‘Improving grassroots-level healthcare and working towards community healthcare’, the display area of Vietnam Medi-Pharm 2018 will focus on the propaganda of guidelines, policies and regulations of our Party and State on healthcare activities.

On this occasion, the Ministry of Health will also introduce to the public its innovative and positive changes as well as its achievements and major missions in 2018.

In the area of 9,000m2, there will be more than 530 stalls of 450 firms from many countries and regions in the world besides Vietnam such as India, Poland, Belgium, Germany, Czech Republic, Taiwan (of China), Korea, the USA, Japan, Thailand, and Singapore. They will display and introduce their latest medical and pharmaceutical products as well as technologies.

The Vietnam Medi-Pharm 2018 is expected to create various opportunities for commercial collaborations and experience exchange between domestic medical, pharmaceutical, medical equipment businesses and international counterparts.

Belgian businesses seek cooperation opportunities in Vietnam

The Belgian Vietnamese Alliance (BVA) and the Flanders Investment and Trade (FIT) held a meeting on May 3 with a delegation of Belgian businesses ahead of the delegation’s visit to Vietnam from May 13-18 to explore cooperation opportunities.

The delegation of nearly 90 entrepreneurs from 65 Belgian enterprises, led by Minister-President of Flanders Geert Bourgeois, is scheduled to visit Vietnam as part of activities to celebrate the 45th founding anniversary of the two countries’ diplomatic ties.

Addressing the meeting, Vietnamese Ambassador to Belgium Vu Anh Quang praised the Flanders Minister-President for his efforts to develop the relations between Vietnam and the Flanders region in recent years.

He hoped the upcoming visit will help Vietnamese and Belgian businesses to understand more about each other’s potential as well as trade and investment cooperation opportunities.

The diplomat said the two nations are working to elevate the bilateral ties to strategic partnership in some specific fields. 

He added that the free trade agreement between EU and Vietnam, once signed and ratified, will open up numerous opportunities for Vietnamese and Belgian enterprises to strengthen connectivity and collaboration.

This will also help increase Belgium’s investment in Vietnam, particularly in the fields of shipbuilding, agriculture, high technology, and clean energy, contributing to promoting sustainable and green growth in Vietnam, the ambassador added.

For his part, Bourgeois hailed Vietnam’s strong development over the past 30 years with annual remarkable gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 6 - 7 percent. 

Vietnam holds a lot of potential for economic development, and in fact, the country has been successful not only in calling for foreign investment but also in reforming trade and administrative procedures, he said.

The Flanders leader added he has high expectations for Belgium-Vietnam partnership, adding that he hoped the two countries will work to improve trade balance in the coming time, citing the fact that the Flanders region exported 4.92 million EUR (5.8 million USD) worth of goods to Vietnam but imported 2 billion EUR from the market.

The reality shows that goods made in Belgium and Vietnam, especially farm produce, are not competitive but supplementary, enabling the two countries to boost cooperation in trade and investment, he added.

On the occasion of five-day visit to Vietnam, businesses from the Flanders region will hold meetings, promotions and field trips to promote their products and study cooperation opportunities with Vietnamese partners.-

RoK helps Vietnam develop investment information system

The Government of the Republic of Korea (RoK) will provide a non-refundable aid package worth 5.5 million USD to help Vietnam carry out a project on upgrading and developing the national investment information system for 2018-2021. 

A record of discussions to this effect was signed between Vietnam’s Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI) and the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) in Hanoi on May 3. 

The 6.2 million USD project aims to improve the ministry’s capacity for collecting, managing and analysing national database on investment, while providing online public services for investors. 

It is also seen as a tool assisting localities in granting investment licences and managing projects. 

MPI Deputy Minister Vu Dai Thang said the two sides committed to ensuring the progress of the project in order to contribute to promoting foreign direct investment (FDI) in Vietnam, and strengthening cooperation between Vietnam and the RoK. 

According to the MPI’s Foreign Investment Agency, Vietnam has to date attracted 25,524 FDI projects valued at nearly 320 billion USD. 

The RoK takes the lead among 126 countries and territories investing in Vietnam, with more than 6,800 project worth over 59 billion USD. 

In the first four months of this year, the RoK invested and expanded investments in about 420 projects with total capital of more than 2.3 billion USD, the agency said.

Vietnam Cafe Show 2018 draws top domestic, int’l brands

The Vietnam Cafe Show 2018 kicked off at the Saigon Exhibition and Convention Centre in Ho Chi Minh City on May 3.

Speaking at the event, Deputy Director of the Ho Chi Minh City chapter of Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry Nguyen The Hung said the show is the specialised exhibition of the coffee industry, drawing the participation of leading Vietnamese and international firms. 

The three-day event offers a platform for businesses to share knowledge and experience in the industry, while seeking opportunities to expand their network, fostering Vietnam’s coffee sector in particular.

It features more than 200 pavilions of over 100 leading local and international coffee brands, along with beverage and pastry businesses. It also introduces the industry’s materials, machinery and coffee shop interior designs. 

A highlight of the exhibition will be the Vietnam National Barista Championship, the first coffee making competition in Vietnam in accordance with standards of the World Coffee Event. The winner of the contest will represent Vietnam at the World Barista Championship 2018 in Seoul, the Republic of Korea.

In addition, visitors are able to join performances of professional baristas and enjoy various types of coffee and pastry at the Coffee Training Station, Sweet Class and Vietnam Beverage Battle sub-events.

In 2017, the Coffee Expo Vietnam was attended by over 100 famous coffee brands, attracting about 40,000 visitors.

VNA, ST Aerospace in aircraft repair joint venture deal

Vietnam Airlines (VNA) and Singapore Technologies Aerospace Ltd (ST Aerospace) on April 26 inked a memorandum of understanding to set up a joint venture to provide maintenance services for VNA’s Airbus A321aircraft.

The joint venture, which will be headquartered at Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi, is expected to annually maintain 17,500 hi-tech parts of jetliners.

The two sides will boost cooperation in aircraft maintenance and manpower training. Meanwhile, the project will contribute to enhancing the hi-tech application in Vietnam’s aircraft maintenance and repair field.

The partnership with ST Aerospace, an arm of ST Engineering Ltd, will also enable the national flag carrier to do aircraft maintenance and repair work in Vietnam, instead of outsourcing it to partners abroad as at present, thus saving time and cost and improving aircraft’s operational efficiency.

VNA deputy general director Dang Ngoc Hoa said the project marks a new development of the local civil aviation sector. The VNA-ST Aerospace cooperation will also help strengthen bilateral economic and trade ties between the two nations.

Its partnership with VNA will help ST Aerospace expand to other markets, said ST Aerospace president Lim Serh Ghee.

ST Aerospace plans to build an aircraft parts warehouse in Vietnam to promptly meet VNA’s demand for maintaining and repairing A321 aircraft.

In October last year, the airline signed a contract with U.S. aerospace firm Pratt & Whitney (PW) to buy engines and support services for 20 A321neo aircraft.

The airline on April 26 also announced its business performance in the first quarter of this year. It said it transported nearly five million passengers and operated some 33,000 safe flights in the period, up 5% and 4.3% year-on-year respectively.

Its consolidated revenue reached nearly VND25.5 trillion (US$1.1 billion), of which the parent company generated VND18.6 trillion, up more than 13% over the same period last year.

The airline reported consolidated pre-tax profit of VND1.46 trillion, 6.2% higher than estimated. Meanwhile, the parent company’s pre-tax profit was VND875 billion, up more than 30% over the year-ago period and 13% more than the target.

During the first three months of the year, especially the Lunar New Year holiday, VNA’s passenger satisfaction and punctuality indexes hit 30% and over 90% respectively.

The ratio of passengers implementing check-in procedures via VNA’s website and mobile app or at kiosks at Tan Son Nhat, Noi Bai and Danang international airports reached nearly 50%.

Jotun to build 2nd paint plant in Vietnam

Jotun Paints (Vietnam) will invest US$70 billion to build its second plant in Vietnam, said Johnny Kolding, general manager of the firm.

The company on April 26 signed a contract with Hiep Phuoc Corp to lease land at the Hiep Phuoc Industrial Park in Nha Be District, HCMC to develop the new facility.

Kolding said the plant will cover 10 hectares and produce decorative, electrostatic, industrial, and marine paints and that the size of the new facility will be 10 times bigger than the current factory in neighboring Binh Duong Province.

In its startup years, the new factory will be able to turn out 80 million liters of liquid paint and 10 million liters of powdered paint a year.

It will be designed and built in line with Leadership in Energy and Environment in Design (LEED) international standards. The plant will be equipped with solar power systems to minimize power consumption.

Jotun A/S is among the top paints and coatings manufacturers in Norway, which produces four major high-class products namely decorative, electrostatic, industrial, and marine paints. Jotun entered the Vietnamese market in 1994 and its first plant was put into operation four years later.

In 2004, Jotun expanded the plant by investing in advanced technology and increasing its capacity to 13 million liters of paint a year. In 2013, it injected an extra US$8 million into its Vietnam operations, increasing its total investment pledge in the country to US$16.1 million.

In 2016, it further increased its yearly capacity to 30 million liters of paint and now 45 million liters.

Vietjet to launch new air routes

Vietjet will expand its flight network to Japan, Australia and India to meet rising air travel demand.

The low-cost carrier said at the annual general meeting on April 26 that the domestic and regional aviation markets will grow strongly this year.

The Government has identified tourism as a spearhead industry, so more foreigners will come to visit Vietnam. This is an opportunity for the airline to open new international services to capitalize.

Vietjet will open a new service connecting Vietnam and Japan, and air links between Vietnam and Australia, and between Vietnam and India.

Speaking at the meeting, Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao, CEO of Vietjet, said the profit from international services was 20% higher than that of domestic ones as the airline can sell duty-free goods in-flight and buy jet fuel at a lower price.

According to a financial report, Vietjet last year made VND42,303 billion in revenue and VND5,073 billion in after-tax profit, up 54% and 73% year-on-year respectively.

In 2018, the carrier looks to VND50,970 billion in revenue and VND5,800 billion in profit, up 20.5% and 10% respectively against last year. The 2018 dividend is expected at 50%.

Vietjet now has 55 Airbus A320 and A321 aircraft and operates 385 flights a day. It has transported over 55 million passengers on 38 domestic and 44 international routes since its debut.

Vietcombank cuts deal with SBF

The Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Foreign Trade of Vietnam (Vietcombank) has clinched a cooperation agreement with the Singapore Business Federation (SBF).

The signing of the deal coincides with the celebration of the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations, and the fifth anniversary of the establishment of strategic partnership between Vietnam and Singapore.

The signing ceremony was graced by the presence of Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc who is in Singapore to pay an official visit and participate in the 32nd ASEAN Summit.

According to the agreement, Vietcombank and SBF will join hands to foster development and efficiency of both, and support SBF in commercial expansion and investment in Vietnam.

Vietcombank will be treated as a priority bank for SBF members in banking transactions like cash management, international payment, project funding, short-term credit, guarantees and consulting on M&A deals.

Ho Meng Kit, CEO of SBF, said that under the deal, SBF members will have more favorable conditions to develop commercial activities and invest in Vietnam, contributing to boosting bilateral ties between the two nations.

Established in 2002, SBF has 25,000 members who are active in 54 sectors and supports member companies to build business links with domestic and international partners. Almost 20% of SBF member firms have already invested in Vietnam.

ABBANK to double capital, list on bourse

Shareholders at a general meeting of An Binh Commercial Joint Stock Bank (ABBANK) on April 25 agreed to double the bank’s chartered capital and listing on the HCMC bourse.

Vu Van Tien, who stepped down as chairman of the bank at the meeting, said the extra capital injection will allow the bank to increase investment in technology and governance. Local banks with over VND10 trillion in chartered capital also have plans for increasing capital this year, he noted.

ABBANK’s chartered capital of some VND5.32 trillion is low compared to other banks in Vietnam. ABBANK previously proposed merging with another bank. However, bad debt at that bank was huge at the time, making the merger impossible.

Higher capital will also contribute to increasing lending and investment while still focusing on energy, manufacturing and hi-tech agriculture projects.

After its capital increase, ABBANK will list on the Hochiminh Stock Exchange (HOSE) though it has already been trading on the market for unlisted public companies (UPCoM).

Explaining the plan to get listed on HOSE, Tien said it is a better choice for a number of reasons. In particular, the stock market has posted strong and steady growth, with bank stocks rallying. Besides, since 2017 many banks have listed on the bourse, most recently Tien Phong Bank.

Once getting approval from the board, the bank will take the next steps so that it can be on the bourse in six to eight months.

An International Finance Corporation (IFC) representative said IFC agreed with the plan of the board, but careful discussions are needed for a higher chance of success. The bank needs to take into account levels of capital rise as doubling the capital may affect indicators like the ratio of profit to equity and stock dilution.

Regarding dividend payments, Tien said ABBANK pays a share dividend for 2017.

At the meeting, shareholders elected a new board of directors for the 2018-2022 term with seven members, including Luu Van Sau and Nguyen Danh Luong as new independent members.

Dao Manh Khang, vice chairman of ABBANK, replaced Vu Van Tien as chairman of the board. Khanh has 23 years’ experience in the financial-banking sector and has been with ABBANK for over 11 years.

The current regulations ban senior bank executives, especially chairmen and CEOs, from concurrently holding leadership positions at other businesses.

Since Vu Van Tien chose to stay on chairman and CEO of Hanoi-based import-export firm Geleximco, he had to relinquish his post as chairman of ABBANK.

An Giang: rice export up in both volume, value

The rice export of the Mekong Delta province of An Giang rose both in volume and value in the first four months this year, said Director of the provincial Department of Industry and Trade Vo Nguyen Nam. 

The province earned 276.48 million USD from exports, up 9.9 percent. Of which, 63.8 million USD was from shipping 126,860 tonnes of rice abroad, up 42.17 percent in volume and 54.8 percent in value. 

Meanwhile, up to 36,900 tonnes of frozen aquatic products worth 84 million USD were shipped abroad during the period. Among them, tra fish saw an 8.5 percent reduction in export volume but an increase of 14.2 percent in export value. 

In order to boost exports this year, the province has regularly updated policies and information about export markets and promptly removed obstacles to the export of key products such as rice and tra fish. 

The province has also flexibly directed cross-border trade and regularly maintained trade promotion activities, especially in border districts, contributing to raising its exports.

Can Tho prepares 54 projects for investment promotion conference

The Mekong Delta city of Can Tho plans to put up 54 projects to invite investment at its upcoming investment promotion conference in mid-August. 

The list of projects, which need a combined 100 trillion VND (over 4.38 billion USD), was reviewed at a conference on May 3 on preparations for the conference. 

The investment promotion conference under the theme of Sharing potential for mutual development, is slated for August 10. Around 500 domestic and foreign delegates are expected to attend the event, where the city will introduce its strengths, its commitment to investors along with local investment opportunities. 

The city plans to seek advice and experience for its development towards becoming a service and hi-tech agriculture centre as well as an information technology hub of the country.  

Accordingly, three thematic discussions will be held on services, hi-tech agriculture and information during the conference. 

Some investment projects will be awarded licences at the event.

Last year, Can Tho attracted some 77 foreign direct investment projects worth 656 million USD.

The same year, the city posted its highest ever retail revenue of over 106 trillion VND (4.66 billion USD), up 10 percent from 2016. With that figure, Can Tho topped the Mekong Delta and was ranked third nationwide only behind Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi.

Checkpoints for specialized inspections at ports should be removed: expert

Checkpoints for specialized inspections at some ports and airports should be abolished as they have proven ineffective, said Nguyen Minh Thao, head of the Business Environment and Competitiveness Department at the Central Institute for Economic Management (CIEM).

Thao told the Daily at a recent seminar on the business environment that she went to such a checkpoint at the Cat Lai port customs office in HCMC at 2 p.m. but she found the labs of the Quality Assurance and Testing Center 3 (Quatest 3) and Vinacontrol were not operational.

These agencies later told her that the office rental and manpower costs they had to cover were higher than testing fee revenues, so they had no choice but to close their offices at Cat Lai port.

Checkpoints for specialized inspections were set up at seaports and airports in late 2015 and early 2016 by the customs departments in Quang Ninh Province, Haiphong City and HCMC. The checkpoints are represented by the Institute of Public Health, Veterinary Center for Region 6, Phytosanitary Center for Region 2, Quatest 3 and other agencies.

Their establishment came after the Prime Minister issued Decision 2026 approving a scheme to improve the efficiency of specialized inspections of exports and imports.

The ultimate goal is to shorten the time for customs clearance and reduce cargo storage and warehousing costs for exporters and importers who are subject to specialized inspections. However, not all types of commodities have their testing results returned at the same time.

For example, individuals who receive gifts worth less than VND2 million (US$88) from their relatives overseas will conduct procedures for epidemics check and have their results returned immediately at the checkpoint at the Tan Son Nhat International Airport.

However, if their gifts worth more than VND2 million, the checkpoint will receive their requests for testing while other procedures will be transferred to its headquarters in downtown HCMC due to lack of testing equipment.

Meanwhile, many agencies at the checkpoint at Cat Lai port do not have competent staff there, so important procedures must be done in the city center. Consequently, their testing results can only be returned after several days.

Thao of CIEM cited a Government resolution on improving the country’s business environment and competitiveness as saying that after four years of execution, the number of commodities subject to specialized inspections prior to customs clearance has declined by a mere 10 percentage points, just half of the target.

She added around 58% of commodities subject to specialized inspections face overlapping checks by ministries, or even agencies within a single ministry.

Moreover, tests are still lengthy, leading to extra costs for enterprises.

Specialized inspections have long been regarded as a terrible headache for importers and exporters. Therefore, the Government has repeatedly asked competent agencies to make radical reform in the field.

More incentives for social housing development

The legal corridor for social housing development has recently changed towards providing more incentives than it was first mentioned in the Housing Law in 2005.

Last year, the nation’s average floor area per person rose 0.6 square metre to 23.4 square metres as compared to 2016.

In 2017, a further 0.19 million square metres of social housing was added in urban areas, raising the total area for social housing in the urban region to 3.49 million square metres.

According to Minister of Construction Pham Hong Ha, the country now has more than 4 million square metres of social housing but only 40 percent of public demand has been met.

The Housing Law in 2014 and the government’s Decree No.100/2015/ND-CP have provided full regulations and policies on the development and management of social housing, he said.

However, due to economic difficulties and limited State budget for development investment, the allocation of capital for implementing social housing support policies has not yet met the large demand of low-income people.

In the medium-term public investment plan for the 2016-2020 period, the government could arrange only a small amount of 1.2 trillion VND for the field.

Experts said it is necessary to create long-term capital sources for the development of social housing projects.

Preferential credit packages are needed to help enterprises investing in the field and people buying social housing properties.

Nguyen Ngoc Thanh, Vice Chairman of the Vietnam Real Estate Association, said the 30-trillion VND (1.32 billion USD) housing aid package, which was launched in 2013 and ended in 2016, created a breakthrough in the field, but it was just an aid package, not credit policy.

The government’s Decree 100 states clearly that the capital to implement social housing projects is sourced from preferential credits from the Vietnam Bank for Social Policies, he said.

The State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) has decided to keep preferential loan interest rate unchanged at 5 percent for purchase, rent or hire of social housing projects in 2018.

The decision took effect from the beginning of this year, replacing Decision No 2544/QD-NHNN, dated December 30, 2016, on interest rate for loans applicable in 2017 for social housing projects.

China intensifies checks of fruit imports from Vietnam

Like the U.S. and Australia, China has strengthened safety checks of Vietnamese products, mainly fruits, from now to 2020.

A report sent to the Ministry of Industry and Trade by the Vietnam Fruit and Vegetable Association on April 5 says Vietnamese fruits and vegetables, whose export revenue amounted to US$3.5 billion in 2018, are subject to China’s recently amended regulations on food safety.

Guangxi’s quarantine agency has informed that it began on April 1 to trace the origin of and check the quality of fruits imported from Vietnam. This means when China restricts imports of fruits from Vietnam via border trade, Vietnam can ship just eight types of fruit – dragon fruit, rambutan, mango, longan, lychee, banana and jack fruit through official channels.

This will force Vietnam to rethink the way its fruits are exported to China. It can no longer rely on border trade as had been done over the years.

China’s increased inspections of the quality of Vietnamese fruits might heavily impact Vietnam’s fruit and vegetable exports as China is the biggest export market. In 2017, of Vietnam’s fruit and vegetable exports totaled US$3.5 billion, with China accounting for US$2.65 billion, or 75.5%.  Other nine export markets made up only 24.50%.

CPI rises 0.08 percent in April

Belgian businesses seek cooperation opportunities in Vietnam

The Belgian Vietnamese Alliance (BVA) and the Flanders Investment and Trade (FIT) held a meeting on May 3 with a delegation of Belgian businesses ahead of the delegation’s visit to Vietnam from May 13-18 to explore cooperation opportunities.

The delegation of nearly 90 entrepreneurs from 65 Belgian enterprises, led by Minister-President of Flanders Geert Bourgeois, is scheduled to visit Vietnam as part of activities to celebrate the 45th founding anniversary of the two countries’ diplomatic ties.

Addressing the meeting, Vietnamese Ambassador to Belgium Vu Anh Quang praised the Flanders Minister-President for his efforts to develop the relations between Vietnam and the Flanders region in recent years.

He hoped the upcoming visit will help Vietnamese and Belgian businesses to understand more about each other’s potential as well as trade and investment cooperation opportunities.

The diplomat said the two nations are working to elevate the bilateral ties to strategic partnership in some specific fields. 

He added that the free trade agreement between EU and Vietnam, once signed and ratified, will open up numerous opportunities for Vietnamese and Belgian enterprises to strengthen connectivity and collaboration.

This will also help increase Belgium’s investment in Vietnam, particularly in the fields of shipbuilding, agriculture, high technology, and clean energy, contributing to promoting sustainable and green growth in Vietnam, the ambassador added.

For his part, Bourgeois hailed Vietnam’s strong development over the past 30 years with annual remarkable gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 6 - 7 percent. 

Vietnam holds a lot of potential for economic development, and in fact, the country has been successful not only in calling for foreign investment but also in reforming trade and administrative procedures, he said.

The Flanders leader added he has high expectations for Belgium-Vietnam partnership, adding that he hoped the two countries will work to improve trade balance in the coming time, citing the fact that the Flanders region exported 4.92 million EUR (5.8 million USD) worth of goods to Vietnam but imported 2 billion EUR from the market.

The reality shows that goods made in Belgium and Vietnam, especially farm produce, are not competitive but supplementary, enabling the two countries to boost cooperation in trade and investment, he added.

On the occasion of five-day visit to Vietnam, businesses from the Flanders region will hold meetings, promotions and field trips to promote their products and study cooperation opportunities with Vietnamese partners.

HCM City helps supporting industries improve quality
     
The HCM City Centre for Supporting Industry Development has collaborated with other agencies to provide human resource solutions to supporting industries.

Together with the International Labour Organisation, it has organised the SCORE programme for training workers at small and medium-sized enterprises in supporting industries.

After the programme, six enterprises have improved production by applying the Japanese 5S model and Kaizen method.

The former is designed to improve productivity through organisation and cleanliness, and the latter is used to evaluate and find the ways to improve the work done by the company.

The Japan International Cooperation Agency has supported five small and medium enterprises in the automobile industry.

Thanks to these programmes, enterprises have overcome shortcomings with respect to finance their development strategies, thus making them become suppliers to companies like Mitsubishi and Samsung.

The city Department of Labour- Invalids and Social Affairs has urged the People’s Committee to hire foreign experts in the field of support industries, organise training programmes to skill managers and teachers at colleges and intermediate schools.

The centre has also organised training courses for enterprises in areas such as starting up businesses and management.

Purchasing power soars by 8.5%
     
The purchasing power in the total national retail value of goods and services until April 2018 reached nearly VND1.40 trillion ($61.4 million), the General Statistics Office (GSO) reported.

This is equivalent to a year-on-year increase of 9.8 per cent.

The increase is estimated at 8.5 per cent if the price factor is excluded, higher than the growth of 7 per cent in the first four months last year. The rise was similar to that during the Tet (Lunar New Year) holidays when the consumption demand was high. 

GSO expert Vu Manh Ha attributed the surge in purchasing power in the first four months of this year to the high demand for accommodation, restaurant, services and travel in the summer season.

Of these, the revenue from retail goods, which accounts for more than 75 per cent of the total revenue, hit $46.4 million, up 10.8 per cent from the same period last year.

Food and foodstuff retail revenue increased by 12 per cent, garment retail revenue by 12.8 per cent, home appliances by 10.8 per cent, culture and education products by 9 per cent and transportation services by 8.2 per cent.

Localities with high growth in retail revenue include HCM City (12.8 per cent), Hai Phong (12.6 per cent), Da Nang (12 per cent), Binh Dinh (11 per cent), Nam Dinh (10.9 per cent) and Ha Noi (10.4 per cent).

The revenue from accommodation and restaurant services, which accounts for 12.3 per cent of the total revenue, increased by 9.4 per cent to $7.5 billion in the first four months.

The revenue from the tourism sector, which accounts for only 1 per cent of the total revenue, reached a growth of 26.1 per cent to $565.78 million in the first four months.

Tourism in HCM City recorded the highest increase in revenue (30.4 per cent), followed by Binh Dinh (28.9 per cent), Hai Phong (23.4 per cent) and Ha Noi (18.8 per cent).

Fintech use is a must for Asia-Pacific economies: seminars
     
Asia and Pacific economies must enhance their financial inclusion based on new financial technologies (fintech), senior officials said on Thursday at a high-level Asian Development Bank (ADB) seminar.

“Governments in the region can improve financial inclusion by broadening access to basic digital infrastructure and providing an enabling environment for innovators and entrepreneurs,” said ADB President Takehiko Nakao.

Policymakers in each regional country should consider methods to improve existing regulations to protect consumers from cybercrime and fraud. They should also achieve a balance between innovation and financial stability, Takehiko told the seminar.

The seminar was a part of the 51st ADB Annual Meeting held in the capital city of Manila, the Philippines, drawing attention from a number of specialists and experts in the finance and technology sectors.

It unfolded as policymakers and businesspeople are grappling with a boom in new technologies such as cryptocurrency, machine learning, big data and electronic ledger. These are the tools that can be used to improve the quality and security of the region’s financial system.

In addition, fintech is also seen as a big obstacle for poor households and small businesses in the Asia-Pacific economic region to gain access to financial services. Specialists at the seminar estimated about two billion people in the world have not gained access to finance and half of those live in the Asia-Pacific region.

Seminar panelists agreed that fintech is quite promising as it could help poor communities and groups of people and businesses overcome the challenges they face when they try to gain the collateral required for formal credit deals.

According to Mitsuhio Furusawa, deputy managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), fintech is the most promising way to boost the financial system in Asia, as it is accessible to those living in rural areas.

Thanks to fintech, financial services will become more affordable and offer better accessibility to rural residents and small- and medium-sized businesses, he said, adding that local governments will play “a crucial role in creating an environment that promotes financial inclusion while mitigating the risks.”

VN investors seek spots at DC summit
     
More than 30 Vietnamese investors participated in a seminar held on Thursday in HCM City as part of the US Mission to Viet Nam’s ongoing recruitment for the SelectUSA Investment Summit in Washington, DC in June.

The first “Invest in the US” seminar, co-organised by the US Consulate General and AmCham HCM City, described the benefits of investing in the US, home to the largest amount of FDI in the world.

Experts from Baker & McKenzie law firm provided Vietnamese investors with an introduction on the legal and foreign exchange requirements for outbound investment and gave presentations on best practices for establishing operations in the US.

One of the benefits of investing in the US is the variety of opportunities that exist across the country’s 52 states and territories. Representatives from the US states of Idaho, Iowa, and Pennsylvania spoke about investment opportunities in their states. 

Fred Burke, senior partner from Baker & McKenzie, highlighted how Viet Nam’s GDP growth was fueling greater interest in investing in the US.

“It is often said that investment follows trade, and Viet Nam’s trade with the US has grown enormously in recent years such that it is one of Viet Nam’s top export markets. It should come as no surprise, therefore, that Vietnamese firms are looking to invest in the US to support their trade relations and take advantage of opportunities there,” Burke said.

The Investment Summit promotes the US as a premier investment destination and connects qualified foreign firms with US economic development organisations to facilitate business investment and job creation.

Last year’s SelectUSA Investment Summit hosted by US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross drew the largest crowd yet, with over 3,000 registered participants.

With 28 delegates, Viet Nam had the 12th largest delegation at the summit and the largest delegation from Southeast Asia.

HCM City eyes boost to supporting industries
     
HCM City will continue to focus on developing supporting industry, and targets meeting 45 per cent of national demand for manufactured inputs by 2020 and 65 per cent by 2025.

These are said to be ambitious targets in the context that the sector is still poorly developed.

Since the city’s Decision 15/2017/QD-UBND to help businesses develop the manufacturing and supporting sectors took effect on April 24, 2017, the Department of Industry and Trade has received applications from 11 projects.

It has appraised nine projects requiring a total investment of VND943.2 billion (US$41.4 million), and two of them with a combined investment of VND222 billion have been approved by the People’s Committee for interest-subsidised loans of VND110 billion.

The department has also co-ordinated with the State Bank of Viet Nam to organise bank-business linkage programmes to actively help enterprises borrow money.

It has signed a memorandum of understanding with Vietinbank for a credit package of VND10 trillion ($438.59 million) for manufacturing and parts supply companies.

In the first quarter of this year, the department also organised some other activities to enable parts manufacturers to market their products. They included a sourcing fair for connecting supporting industry with buyers, which featured more than 230 business-to-business meetings between 17 local and FDI firms in the electronics, automobile and mechanical engineering sectors and 80 local part suppliers.

The department’s Centre for Supporting Industries Development has built a comprehensive database for the industry at http://csid.gov.vn with information about 530 out of the 860 supporting industry enterprises based in the city.

This would help parts suppliers and buyers understand each other’s capabilities and explore tie-ups.

The department has also worked with industrial parks and processing zones, and many of them such as Tan Thuan, Hiep Phuoc, Linh Trung, and Dong Nam processing zones plan to earmark areas or develop high-rise factories for supporting industry at reasonable rentals to meet demand.

According to economists, there is huge demand for spare-part products, but domestic production is unable to meet it.

HCM City has certain advantages as it seeks to develop supporting industry.

Tran Anh Hao, head of the department’s industry division, said the department would review the investment stimulus programme with regard to the manufacturing and parts sectors to submit to the city for approval.

It would also build a programme to develop the sector, identify the most promising products this year, provide training and evaluate the local content rates in the city’s four key industries (food processing, chemical-rubber, mechanics and information technology) and two traditional industries (garment and textile, and footwear), Hao said.

The city has rolled out practical support policies for enterprises to invest in upgrading their machinery and equipment and technologies, thereby increasing local content rates and enabling them to take part in the global supply chain, the department said.

Industrial growth soars in first four months
     
Viet Nam’s industrial production index (IPI) retained a significant 11.4 per cent growth rate in the first four months of this year, much higher than the 6.6 per cent increase in the same period last year.

The period’s strong IIP rise was attributed to the fact that many industrial firms have taken advantage of the State policies in cutting off business conditions and speeding up administrative reforms to expand their operations as well as markets for their products, according to the General Statistics Office (GSO).

In the January-April period, the manufacturing and processing sector, which accounts for nearly 80 per cent of overall industrial value, saw the strongest growth with 14 per cent, compared to 9.5 per cent in last year’s corresponding period, GSO said.

Meanwhile, electricity production and distribution increased 9.7 per cent, and water supply and wastewater treatment went up 5.5 per cent. The mining sector witnessed a modest decline of 1.2 per cent.

Areas posting high production growth include electronics, computers and optical products at 27 per cent, metal at 16.3 per cent, furniture production at 15 per cent and pharmaceuticals at 14 per cent. Surges were also recorded in major industrial products such as iron and steel (38.2 per cent), fabric (26.2 per cent), powdered milk (21 per cent), feed for aquaculture (19 per cent), television (18 per cent), and processed seafood products (12 per cent).

Several other areas, however, saw industrial production reduce, including crude oil (9.4 per cent), urea fertiliser (4 per cent), animal feed (2 per cent) and milk (1 per cent). The northern province of Bac Ninh led the nation with an IPI growth of 34 per cent, followed by Hai Phong (24 per cent), Vinh Phuc (14 per cent) and Thai Nguyen (12.1 per cent).

Others with positive IIP increases were Hai Duong (11 per cent), Ha Noi and Dong Nai (8.1 per cent), Da Nang (8 per cent), Binh Duong (7.9 per cent), Can Tho (7.3 per cent), Quang Ninh (6.5 per cent), and HCM City (6.1 per cent).

As of April 1, the number of workers in industrial enterprises increased 3.9 per cent compared to the same period last year. The number of workers in State-owned enterprises dropped 1.1 per cent, while those in non-State and foreign-invested businesses went up 4.3 per cent and 4.5 per cent, respectively.

The number of workers in provinces and cities with large-scale industry also saw increases, such as Can Tho (23 per cent), Hai Phong (16.3 per cent), and Bac Ninh (14 per cent), as well as Thai Nguyen (8 per cent), Binh Duong (7 per cent) and Dong Nai (5.3 per cent).

ASEAN+3 economies to grow slower in 2018-19
     
Half of the ASEAN+3 economies are projected to grow at a slower pace in the next two years, reducing the region’s overall growth rate, reports the ASEAN+3 Macroeconomic Research Office (AMRO).

ASEAN+3 includes 10 ASEAN economies and three other large economies---China, Japan and South Korea.

Seven of the 13 economies that are predicted to grow more slowly in the next two years include the four East Asia economies besides Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia---the leading economies in the ASEAN region.

The GDP (gross domestic product) growth rates for these economies range from 1.3 per cent to 6.6 per cent in 2018 and from 0.7 per cent to 6.4 per cent in 2019. Among them, China is seen as the strongest growing economy while Japan is considered the weakest as AMRO slashes its growth forecast for Japan from 1.3 per cent in 2018 to 0.7 per cent in 2019.

AMRO predicts the GDP growth of the ASEAN+3 block to reach 5.4 per cent in 2018, down 0.2 percentage points from 2017.

Two economies that may be steady in the next two years are Viẹt Nam and Cambodia, whose GDP growth may remain stable at 6.8 per cent and 6.6 per cent, respectively.

Improving economies in the region include Brunei, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar and the Philippines. Among them, Brunei is projected to post the strongest GDP growth, which almost tripled from 0.6 per cent in 2017 to 1.6 per cent in 2018 and is expected to double to 3.4 per cent in 2019.

Therefore, the region’s overall GDP growth is projected at 5.4 per cent in 2018 and 5.2 per cent in 2019, “underpinned by resilient domestic demand and export growth with stable inflation”, AMRO said in its “ASEAN+3 Regional Economic Outlook (AERO) 2018” report, released on Thursday in Manila, the Philippines.

The overall inflation rate for the entire region is estimated at 2.1 per cent for 2018 and two per cent for 2019, up from 1.8 per cent in 2017. The overall inflation rate among ASEAN+3 economies has been steady at an average of 1.7 per cent in the past three years after falling sharply from 2.6 per cent in 2013-14.

“Most regional economies are in their mid-business cycle, where growth is picking up with a small output gap close to zero and stable inflation,” AMRO said as credit has started slowing down in some of the regional economies after a period of “above-trend growth, partly reflecting the result of proactive policy action by authorities”.

According to AMRO, risks confronting the region are mainly external, with near-term ones being the escalation of global trade tensions, faster-than-expected tightening in global financial conditions, escalation of regional geopolitical risks and weaker growth in the third quarter, while medium-term risk is the sharper-than-expected slowdown in China’s growth and capital flight.

These risks can also have high impacts on the regional economic growth in future. In addition to this, the region can face perennial risks that lie in cyber-security attacks and climate change.

“If these risks materialise, there will be spillovers to the region through capital outflows, higher borrowing costs and lower trade and investment flows,” AMRO said.

To cope with the potential threats to the regional economic growth, AMRO suggeststhat policymakers in the region “should continue to build policy space, particularly in monetary policy, in anticipation of tighter global financial conditions ahead”.

“Fiscal policy may have to play a greater role in supporting growth while macroprudential policy can help safeguard financial stability,” the report says.

Meanwhile, regional governments should focus on strengthening their management policies to “raise productive capacity through building physical infrastructure and human capital and to promote economic diversification to improve resilience in the economy”, said AMRO’schief economist Hoe Ee Khor.

To address these challenges, the region “should improve connectivity through investment in infrastructure with trade facilitation policies, grow a vibrant services sector and develop a skilled labour force through labour upskilling, immigration and education”, Khor said.

First Vietnamese bank issues ATM card through LiveBank
     
Tien Phong Joint Stock Commercial Bank (TPBank) has updated a new function of issuing ATM cards to customers through LiveBank - the first auto banking system in Viet Nam.

Nguyen Hung, TPBank’s general director, said customers needed to click on the machine to connect with bank staff and provide their ID card or passport to scan on the machine as well as complete information registration. LiveBank will then automatically issue an ATM card to the customer after a review from the bank’s staff. The entire process is estimated to take a maximum of six minutes instead of several days or even a week when applying for an ATM card through a bank’s branch.

Hung said customers can also register for debit card at LiveBank and receive the same at its branches.

“The update is a roadmap to develop LiveBank and show TPBank’s commitment in increasing digital content in its products and services,” he said, adding that the function could help LiveBank become the most comprehensive auto bank in Viet Nam.

Pham Ngoc Cuong, an engineer of TPBank’s digital bank project, said LiveBank could implement all of the most complicated transactions, such as opening a bank account, issuing ATM cards as well as opening and closing an online savings account any time.

The bank now has 60 LiveBank machines, which are mostly located at large centres and streets in major cities throughout the country.

The bank plans to increase LiveBank machines to 100 in 2018.

ABBank appoints new general director
     
An Binh Commercial Joint Stock Bank (ABBank) appointed Duong Thi Mai Hoa general director.

Hoa, who was the CEO (chief executive officer) of giant property developer Vingroup for five years, has replaced Nguyen Manh Quan.

Hoa is a renowned banker in the country. She has held key positions in many banks, including Maritime Bank and VIB. She has served as financial director of the US Oracle Group’s Oracle Vietnam Pte. Ltd and as chief accountant of Credit Lyonnais Vietnam.

With many years of experience and a thorough understanding of the financial and banking systems, Hoa is expected to help ABBank make more profits from the retail market and achieve strong growth.

Rice exports bring home 1.1 billion USD in Jan-Apr

Vietnam earned 1.1 billion USD from exporting 2.16 million tonnes of rice in the first four months of 2018, up 35.7 percent in value and 21.7 percent in volume.

China remained the biggest rice importer of Vietnam with 29.1 percent of the rice market share, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The average export price for rice showed a year-on-year rise of 15 percent to touch 501 USD per tonne thanks to better quality.

High-quality rice comprised of up to 81 percent of the rice export volume, the ministry said, forecasting the world’s rice market will see a decrease in supply and an increase in demand in the coming time.

In 2018, Vietnam is forecast to ship 6.5 million tonnes of rice abroad, up 700,000 tonnes compared to 2017.

According to Vietnam’s Rice Market Development Strategy from 2017 to 2020 with a vision to 2030, one of the country’s goals is to gradually reduce the rice export volume but increase the value of exported rice.

Vietnamese rice is now exported to over 130 markets worldwide.

Aquaculture output picks up 6 percent in four months

Aquaculture output in the first four months of the year hit 1 million tonnes, up 6 percent from the same time last year, according to the Directorate of Fisheries under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD).

In the period, the Mekong Delta region harvested some 373,000 tonnes of tra fish, a year-on-year surge of 8 percent. 

With tra fish fetching high prices, local farmers have rushed to dig ponds and breed more fish, leading to the scarcity of fish fry and increase in their prices.

In a stark contrast, farmers have been rushing off their feet to harvest shrimp for fear of price drop. Each kilogramme of white-leg shrimp is being sold at 110,000-120,000 VND (4.84- 5.28 USD), decreasing 10,000-20,000 VND (0.44-0.88 USD) per kg from the previous month. 

The country earned some 2.4 billion USD from exporting aquatic products in the first four months of 2018, representing a year-on-year rise of 13 percent.

In April alone, the country raked in 650 million USD from the export of aquatic products.

The US, Japan, China and the Republic of Korea were the biggest importers in January-March, making up 52 percent of the Southeast Asian country’s total aquatic product exports. The highest growth was reported in the Netherlands (55.7 percent), China (44.6 percent) and the UK (33.8 percent).

In the four-month period, Vietnam imported 536 million USD worth of aquatic products, up 27.4 percent against the same period last year. Of the figure, 130 million worth of aquatic products were imported in April.

Aquatic product exports in 2018 are expected to exceed 8.5 billion USD, up about 3 percent compared to 2017, though Vietnam's exports to the US and EU markets will continue to be affected by catfish inspection, anti-dumping and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU), according to the VASEP.

Manufacturing sector regains growth momentum

Vietnam’s manufacturing growth picks up in April following sharp rises in new orders and output.

According to Nikkei’s report released on May 2, the Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) of the sector rose to 52.7 points in April, from 51.6 points in March. The production sector has become stronger in the past 29 months.

Substantial increases in customers’ demand and foreign orders made manufacturing rise at faster pace. Also, employment growth has been registered for 25 consecutive months. 

However, domestic producers said that a dramatic hike in input costs made a startling contrast to the weak pace of rise in output prices.

Andrew Harker, Associate Dierctor at IHS Markit which compiles the survey said that the Vietnamese manufacturers’ ability to maintain the large volume of orders is a striking point in the latest PMI report, with new export business up significantly in April. 

The competitive pricing is the prime motive for the success of a company as it explains the firm’s willingness to reduced margins in exchange for securing greater volumes of new work, he added.

The PMI survey for the manufacturing sector is based on questionnaire responses from panels of senior purchasing executives at over 400 companies majoring in eight fields of metal, chemical and plastic, electronics and optics, food and beverage, engineering, garments, wood and paper, and transportation.

The surveys have been conducted in more than 40 countries and also in key regions.  They are the most closely-watch business surveys in the world, favoured by central banks, financial markets and business decision makers for their ability to provide up-to-date, accurate and often unique monthly indicators of economic trends.

M2 Vietnam Joint Stock Company (M2) expanding in Vietnam

M2 Vietnam Joint Stock Company (M2) is expanding its brand name all over Vietnam.

The clothing company recently launched their latest showroom in Cau Dien Street, Hanoi to introduce their latest collection of clothes made in Vietnam. In April, M2 also launched many branches and showrooms in other provinces such as Thanh Hoa.

Textile M2 Export Center in Thanh Hoa city has a total area of over 1,500 square meters on two floors and is the largest M2 store to date.

Using a supermarket model, M2 Fashion Export Textile Center in Thanh Hoa is the place to showcase, introduce and sell diverse and fashionable products.

Chairman and CEO of M2, Nguyen Hai Duong shared their goals of developing the market and reaching out to many areas to bring the brand closer to its consumers.

"M2 launched its first point of sale, which officially opened its showroom at 19 Le Huu Lap (Thanh Hoa city) in April 2018,” said Nguyen Hai Duong. “It has a total area of over 1,500m2 on two floors. It’s part of our goal of developing the business network of the company, "

M2’s brand name has affirmed its position in the market of fashion apparel and clothing with its wide network of shops in many central locations in the country and abroad.

The fashion brand was launched in 2001 and has been establishing and developing itself for 18 years now. It’s a pioneer fashion business model and has a number of chains in Hanoi and a number of provinces. There is even a shop in Moscow (Russian Federation).

What makes M2 stand out are its fashion products, good quality and competitive prices which are suitable for the majority of consumers in Vietnam.

Gamuda Land wins award for environmental rehabiliation

Gamuda Land’s maiden township development project, located in the south of Hanoi, clinched the World Gold Award for Environmental (Rehabilitation / Conservation) at the FIABCI (an annual international conference run by the International Real Estate Federation) World Prix d’ Excellence 2018, which took place at the Jumeirah Emirates Towers in Dubai on May 1.

“We are truly honored to receive this renowned award for Gamuda City,” said Mr. Ngan Chee Meng, CEO of Gamuda Land. “Receiving the award is testament to our principles in developing townships, of ‘listening to what the land has to tell us’. When we work closely with nature to restore and rejuvenate the land, we create a better place for the community to call home.”

The environmental rehabilitation of Yen So Park and Yen So Lake remains a remarkable turnaround story that has transformed one of Hanoi’s most polluted and inhospitable areas into a thriving green lung. What was once a shunned wasteland of untreated sewage and physical rubbish in the south of Hanoi is now a picturesque parkland of scenic lakes, lush greenery, and abundant flora and fauna.

“When we first came here about ten years ago, the absence of a proper sewage system in Hanoi had resulted in the contamination of its waterways and lakes and created growing concern about public health and the need for better water management practices,” Mr. Ngan said. “Backed by our credible experience and expertise in drainage and wastewater treatment projects, a proposal was made to the government of Hanoi to build the Yen So Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) as well as to rejuvenate Yen So Park in exchange for land development rights.”

Today, the Yen So STP manages and treats up to 200,000 cu m of wastewater discharge daily. Since beginning operations it has brought an effective solution to the pollution problem in the Set River - Kim Nguu River in Hanoi.

Gamuda Land’s rehabilitation efforts have also delivered immense socioeconomic benefits to south Hanoi, effectively addressing chronic wastewater and sewage issues and various health hazards.

The rejuvenation of Yen So Park has also repositioned south Hanoi as an attractive location vis-à-vis the north, which was historically a better-favoured location for development and dwellings. Gamuda Land’s mindful planning and rejuvenation of Yen So Park has restored the land to its natural beauty, resulting in an environment conducive to further development and investment in the area.

“What is most heart-warming for us is to see thousands of Hanoians enjoying the park’s facilities, especially on weekends,” said Mr. Ngan. “When we listen to the land in this way, it allows us to create a place where biodiversity thrives and the community can grow up and grow old in for generations to come.”

FIABCI World Prix d’Excellence recognizes projects that best embody excellence in all the real estate disciplines involved in their creation. It has bestowed awards to deserving projects and developments in 60 member countries and has undoubtedly created a great reputation. Already in its 27th year, the awards have gained recognition as the “Oscars” of the real estate industry, and according to the organizers is “more than just a beauty contest - it represents projects that are a cut above the rest.”

The Environmental (Rehabilitation/Conservation) category judged contenders based on architecture, design and planning, sustainable construction methods, environmental impact, and community benefits, among other criteria.

Online dating app DatEat receives investments from international funds

Online dating startup DatEat recently announced it has successfully attracted capital investment from international funds.

In December last year, DatEat announced it had successfully raised $4.1 million in funds from the UK’s DMG Enterprise. This is the first time a Vietnamese online dating startup has raised investment from an international fund.

In spite of the fact that the online dating market, which has been developing all over the world, has clearly been dominated by US and Europe brands, according to Ms. Kate Truong, Vietnamese Founder of DatEat, this Vietnamese startup has a lot of potential for growth.
As a young startup, DatEat has proven itself as able to catch up with technological trends by using a range of advanced technologies such as Blockchain, AI and Big Data. In recent times, the use of Blockchain has become a popular trend around the world. This technology is encouraged in all developed countries. The Industrial Revolution 4.0 has put a lot of focus on technology, and those who are able to keep up with it will be successful.

“DMG hopes that with the leading breakthrough technology DatEat has been implementing, as well as our initial financial support, this startup will go further to dominate the market, first in Asia and then in other markets worldwide,” said Mr. William Knightley, Angel Investment Director of DMG Enterprise.
With its initial success, DatEat is confidently calling for capital investment of up to $23 million from investors in Asia and Europe. According to DatEat’s Chief Financial Officer, the process of calling for capital investment has been launched and has received positive feedback. 

DatEat helps users find their ideal partners while ensuring the security of users’ personal information via advanced Blockchain technology. DatEat is not only an online dating application but also has other functions that are essential for modern society, such as a mentorship function. DatEat’s Angels (experienced experts), via this function, are able to give useful advice to users in the fields of psychology, finance, sports, fitness, heaalth and beauty. 

In addition, DatEat has set up the Defound Foundation to help people who are coping with difficult situations, as well as provide support for teenagers and young people in dealing with psychological issues.
“The project has taken successful steps to move towards a bright future for dating applications in Vietnam,” Ms. Kate Truong said. “In August this year, DatEat plans to reach 500,000 users in this market. Afterwards, DatEat will open in other Asian countries and reach 1.2 million people by the end of 2018. In June next year, DatEat will be used by around 5 million people in the Asia-Pacific region.”

At present, DatEat is headquartered in Singapore and is planning to set up offices in other locations in Asia, including Vietnam.

HCMC attracts FDI capital worth US$408 million in four months

HCM City has attracted US$408 million in foreign direct investment (FDI) in the first four months, accounting for 11.5 percent of total investment capital. The city grabbed the second position behind Hanoi that has US$498.7 million, accounting for 14 percent.

The city was followed by Binh Duong with US$364.8 million, accounting for 10.3 percent of total investment capital; Ninh Thuan attracting US$327.6 million occupying 9.2 percent; Dong Nai drawing US$273.9 million encompassing 7.7 percent; Ha Nam with US$187.7 million, accounting for 5.3 percent; Ba Ria- Vung Tau attracting US$182.7 million, accounting for 5.1 percent; and Quang Ninh with US$176.6 million, getting 5 percent.

In the first four months, the southern economic hub has granted certificates of investment registration for 883 projects with total registered capital of US$3,553 million, while another US$2,244.8 million has come through 303 existing projects.

The manufacturing and processing sector attracted the most registered capital with US$1,926.1 million, accounting for 54.2 percent of the total registered capital; followed by real estate business with US$455.5 million accounting for 12.8 percent, and other sectors with US$1,172.2 million accounting for 33 percent.

The city’s largest investor is Japan with US$877.7 million accounting for 24.7 per cent of the total registered capital. It is followed by South Korea with US$830.8 million at 23.4 percent and Singapore with US$ 459.2 million at 12.9 percent.

EuroSphere exhibition to bring over 150 European brands to Vietnam

The EU-Vietnam Business Network (EVBN) has launched the second edition in Vietnam of EuroSphere, an exhibition dedicated to European Art of Living in the region.

The event is being organized by EVBN from May 18 to 20 at the White Palace Convention Center, HCMC. Over 150 European brands will exhibit their products, services, creativity, craftsmanship and knowhow to the Vietnamese and Southeast Asian markets. Exhibitors will represent all sectors related to the European Art of Living, such as gourmet food, fine beverages, fashion and accessories, perfumery, cosmetics, furniture and interior design.

EuroSphere 2018 also serves as a business facilitator between Europe, Vietnam and other ASEAN countries. Distributors, importers, retailers, hospitality decision makers, interior designers, and media in the region will have the opportunity to meet exhibitors thanks to pre-arranged B2B meetings and conferences.

Conference speakers include high-profile guests from Europe such as Donald Potard, former CEO of Jean-Paul GAULTIER Haute Couture, former CEO of Jean-Charles de Castelbajac, and currently chair of the Fashion department at Paris College of Art.

EuroSphere 2018 will start with a VIP Gala dinner at the Reverie Saigon Hotel on May 17, designed to foster exchange and networking opportunities between exhibiting companies and their potential partners in Vietnam and Southeast Asia.

The dinner will also showcase three European fashion brands, two of them being presented for the first time in the region, while benefitting from the support of one of the world’s most famous Vietnamese fashion designers, Nguyen Cong Tri, who will open the show with his recent collection.

Last year, EuroSphere featured 80 European brands, held 200 B2B meetings and lured 2,500 international visitors. This year it is expecting 4,500 business visitors from Vietnam and Southeast Asian countries and more than 650 B2B meetings.

Exporters to EU to self-issue certificates of origin next year

Exporters to the European Union from Vietnam will be obliged to issue certificates of origin for their own products next year. Otherwise, they will not enjoy the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), the Vietnam News Agency reports.

The GSP is a preferential tariff system which provides for a formal system of exemption from the more general rules of the World Trade Organization.

The responsibility for issuing certificates of origin will rest with exporting companies instead of State agencies. This means these enterprises will carry out procedures, abide by criteria for origin, and be held accountable for their accuracy, according to the Import and Export Department under the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

Besides, exporters will be asked to provide evidence of origin like receipts without the involvement of State agencies.

The GSP which has long been used in the EU for over 40 years has numerous advantages such as simplifying administrative procedures, reducing time and cost for enterprises, minimizing risks for licensing agencies, and easing pressure on customs authorities.

The department’s deputy head Tran Thanh Hai said the EU will allow local enterprises to familiarize themselves with the system in six months. If they have yet to issue certificates of origin on their own, they can have such documents from State agencies during the period.

Bui Kim Thuy, deputy head of the Goods Origin Division at the department, said those exporters whose turnover reaches at least US$10 million are allowed to issue their own certificates. They are also required to have long complied with tax, customs and import-export regulations.

Data of the trade ministry shows as many as 2,700 local exporters with EU-bound shipments are enjoying incentives from the GSP.

Vietnam may offer lower rice price for Philippines

With the Philippines to reopen tenders for the procurement of 250,000 tons of rice tomorrow after rejecting the prices offered by Vietnam and Thailand, Vietnam may lower its price further this time.

This country invited tenders for supply of 250,000 tons via the government-to-government (G2G) scheme, including 200,000 tons of 25% broken rice and 50,000 tons of 15% broken rice. However, Vietnam and Thailand as the two participating countries were eliminated as their prices were above the reference prices of the Philippines.

In particular, the reference prices announced before the tender were US$483.63 per ton of 15% broken rice and US$474.18 per ton of 25% broken rice.

Meanwhile, Vietnam offered the respective prices of US$540 and US$532 per ton. As for Thailand, it did not bid for 15% broken rice, but its price offer for 25% broken rice was US$530 per ton.

A second chance was given to Vietnam and Thailand right after the first round, but the offered prices were still way higher than the reference levels despite being lowered. Specifically, Vietnam’s prices were cut by US$10 and US$11 per ton respectively, whereas Thailand offered US$520 per ton for 25% broken rice.

Nguyen Dinh Bich, a rice market analyst, told the Daily that it is likely that Vietnamese rice traders could reduce the prices. How much Vietnam would lower its offers depends on Thailand, he noted.

If Thailand’s price is slightly higher than that of Vietnam, the latter will lower the price further to win the bid, he said.

Nonetheless, the question is how close Vietnam’s prices will be to the Philippines’ reference levels, but the cuts would be small given high prices on the domestic market. 

Finished IR 50404 rice, the type of rice often used for 25% broken rice contracts, is traded locally at VND9,400 per kilogram. With an exchange rate of VND22,700 per dollar, the domestic price is some US$414 per ton of IR 50404 rice and around US$450 per ton of 15% broken rice.

This means with related costs included, Vietnam’ potential price cut cannot be deep.

The Philippines will apply a new reference price to the tender set for tomorrow. Such a price will be calculated based on world rice market developments.

Energy labels to be affixed to motorbikes

Newly manufactured, assembled or imported motorcycles will have energy labels as of January 1, 2020 before being put up for sale, according to a plan being worked out by the Transport Ministry.

The ministry will issue a circular on guidelines for labeling in 2018. It explained that cars and motorbikes consume some 70% of fuels in Vietnam which is regarded as a major source of emissions such as carbon dioxide and hydrocarbon, polluting the air and affecting people’s health.

Therefore, using energy-saving vehicles is the most efficient method to reduce harmful emissions.

In Vietnam, following the energy labeling rule that has applied to brand-new cars since January 1, 2015, new motorcycles for sale will be subject to the same rule in January 1, 2020.

Energy labeling will help customers have further information for their choice of fuel-saving products, noted the ministry, adding that 40 million motorbikes currently in use will not be affected by the energy labeling rule.

Ministry postpones CR stamp rule to next January

Apparel enterprises will have until January 1 next year instead of early this month to abide by a regulation on sticking Conformity to Regulation (CR) stamps on textile products, according to a new circular issued by the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

The ministry on May 2 approved amendments to Circular 21/2017/TT-BCT on the national standards for formaldehyde and aromatic amines derived from AZO colorants in textile products or QCVN 01 2017. Under the new circular 07/2018/TT-BCT, the date of implementation is extended to January 1, 2019 instead of May 1 as regulated in the old circular.

The delay in implementing QCVN 01 2017 is considered a leniency for textile and garment firms, as the Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association (VITAS) has admitted that many enterprises were vague about the rule while the date of implementation was nearing May 1.

The old rule, if it stands, might force many apparel traders to freeze sales of their products on the market due to insufficient standards, or such products may be subject to confiscation.

In related news, seven agencies have been picked to certify the quality of apparel products to this regard, meaning these agencies will certify whether apparel products meet criteria on contents of formaldehyde and aromatic amines. These agencies include Quatest 3 in HCMC; Hanoi and HCMC branches of Vietnam Textile Research Institute; Hanoi and Haiphong branches of Vinacontrol; Vinacontrol HCMC, and IQC Certification and Inspection JSC; and FCC Control and Fumigation JSC.

According to the regulation, formaldehyde content is capped at 30 milligrams per kilogram of textile for kids under three years old, 75 milligrams for textiles with direct skin contact and 300 milligrams for products without direct skin contact. The content of aromatic amines derived from AZO colorants does not exceed 30 milligrams per kilogram.

Textile-garment firms vague about new regulation

Many apparel enterprises have yet to learn of a new regulation effective on May 1 that they cannot market products without Conformity to Regulation (CR) stamps, which implies that such products contain amounts of formaldehyde and aromatic amines at or lower than the permissible levels.

Nguyen Thi Tuyet Mai, deputy general secretary of the Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association (VITAS) and head of VISTA’s representative office in HCMC, told the Daily that the association these days is flooded with questions about the new rule.

Numerous members of the association, mainly small and medium enterprises, are vague about the implementation of the national standards for formaldehyde and aromatic amines derived from AZO colorants in textile products, or QCVN 01 2017, which are provided in Circular 21/2017/TT-BCT, she said.

The association had announced the new regulation to its members for long but they had not paid much attention until the date the rule took effect.

Mai was afraid that such firms may be fined as their products could not meet the requirement.

According to the regulation, formaldehyde content is capped at 30 milligrams per kilogram of textile for kids under three years old, 75 milligrams for textiles with direct skin contact and 300 milligrams for textiles without direct skin contact. The content of aromatic amines derived from AZO colorants is not above 30 milligrams per kilogram of textile.

VISTA has worked with many testing companies, with charges of VND1.3-2 million imposed on textile tests, Mai noted.

The regulation will not be imposed on apparel imports including those used in production for export and local consumption.

Mai said the regulation for local textile-garment products is necessary to ensure safety for consumers. The association will monitor the implementation of the regulation and proposed to competent agencies amendments and abolishment if need be.

Tourism-related services generate US$8.1 billion

Restaurant, hotel and travel services grew strongly in the first four months of 2018, generating total revenue of VND184,900 billion, or US$8.1 billion, according to the General Statistics Office of Vietnam (GSO).

GSO data shows that hospitality services contributed VND172,000 billion and transport services VND12,900 billion to Vietnam’s economy, up 9.4% and 26.1% respectively year-on-year.

Revenues of these sectors performed strongly in Hanoi, HCMC and Haiphong cities and Thanh Hoa Province. HCMC in particular saw travel service revenue growing30.4% in the year to date.

According to the GSO, although April saw the number of tourists declining a mild 0.1% compared to March, this figure was still far higher than that of last year.

In particular, there were over 1.34 million foreign visitors to Vietnam in April, up 25.2% year-on-year. This means more than 5.5 million international visitors arrived in the country in the first four months, up 29.5% against the year-old period.

A majority of foreign tourists came from Asia with more than 4.16 million over the past four months, increasing 35% versus the same period last year.The data also showsthe Chinese account for 39.7%, or 1.77 million, and the South Koreans67.3%, nearly 1.17 million.

Meanwhile, the number of European tourists increasedby 12.9% against the first four months last year, with 843,000 arrivals.

Foreign reserves increase to US$ 63 bln, Gov't Spokesman says

Viet Nam’s foreign reserves rose to US$ 63 billion, Mai Tien Dung, Minister-Chairman of the Government Office told a room of reporters today.

Minister-Chairman of the Government Office Mai Tien Dung chairs press conference held this afternoon following the Cabinet meeting.

Dung, who is also the Government Spokesman, said the macro-economy remained stable in in the first four months this year.

Consumer price index rose 2.8% and industrial production grew 11.4% in the reviewed period compared to 6.6% of the same period last year.

Foreign arrivals increased by 29% to over 5.5 million, said Dung, adding that PM Phuc agreed to extend visa exemption for citizens of five European countries, namely the UK, France, Germany, Spain and Italy, by three years (until July 1, 2021).

This is the 3rd time, the Government has decided to extend the policy, which took effect since July 1, 2015.

Under the policy, citizens from the five European countries shall not have to apply for visa if their time limit of stay not exceeding 15 days since the day they get entry permit to Viet Nam.

The Government will continue considering institutional building, administrative reform, improvement of business environment as its top priorities in 2018, according to Dung.

Jotun to build paint plant in HCMC

Jotun Paints (Vietnam), one of the world’s leading paints and coatings manufacturers, signed a land lease contract on April 26 with the Hiep Phuoc Industrial Park JSC to build its second paint plant in Vietnam.

The new site is on 10 ha at the Hiep Phuoc Industrial Park (IP) in Ho Chi Minh City’s Nha Be district, where it will construct a production plant for decorative paints and performance coatings (marine, protective and powder coatings). This is Jotun’s second plant in Vietnam and also uses modern technology, is a green project of note in the IP, and is ten-times larger than its first factory, in southern Binh Duong province.

The project will see production of 80 million liters of liquid paint and 10 million kilograms of powder coatings each year. Investment capital stands at around $70 million.

One of the main reasons Jotun chose the Hiep Phuoc IP is its strategic location. “With convenient transport infrastructure and an international port system, Hiep Phuoc is attractive in the eyes of many industrial investors, not just Jotun,” said Mr. Johnny Kolding, General Director of Jotun Paints (Vietnam).

Jotun decided to invest in the largest paint factory in Vietnam after just a year of survey and negotiation because of the potential and benefits of investing at the Hiep Phuoc IP.

The plant is designed and will be built following LEED certification criteria for green projects, which is also a priority Hiep Phuoc sets for its investors. The plant will be equipped with a solar energy system to minimize power consumption.

Jotun Paints is known for leading the way in the design, construction and operation of environmentally-friendly plants worldwide, including its projects in Vietnam. To ensure standards are met, projects must be implemented by well-known and experienced contractors.

“Jotun is a multinational corporation with a history of over 90 years and famous for paints and coatings products,” Mr. Nguyen Truong Bao Khanh, General Director of Hiep Phuoc IP,” told the signing ceremony. “The long-term strategic investment partnership between Jotun and Hiep Phuoc will create confidence among other investors about the IP when they are seeking industrial land for lease in Vietnam. The cooperation will also create favorable conditions for other businesses already at Hiep Phuoc to participate in supply chains and cooperate with Jotun. Hiep Phuoc will also attract existing Jotun suppliers.”

Hiep Phuoc IP is committed to completing a comprehensive infrastructure network and providing maximum support services and utilities so its tenants see stable and sustainable development.

Inundating losses may force Ha Bac Fertiliser out of business, Petrol firms suggest increasing E5-RON 95 price difference, Ministry postpones CR stamp rule to next January, Textile-garment firms vague about new regulation
 
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