VIB buys back all bad debt from VAMC     

Vietnam International Bank (VIB) announced last week that it has repurchased more than VND1.46 trillion (US$64.2 million) worth of debt from the Viet Nam Asset Management Company (VAMC).

With this move, VIB was recognised by the State Bank of Viet Nam and VAMC as one of four banks which required all bad debts that they sold to VAMC. Three others are Vietcombank, Techcombank and MBBank.

Earlier in July, VIB released its financial report in the first half of 2018 with a profit of over VND1.15 trillion ($51 million), triple that of the same period last year, or equivalent to 57 per cent of the yearly target.

During the period, the banks’ net revenue reached VND2.7 trillion, up 56 per cent year-on-year, while its lending saw a yearly rise of 9 per cent to VND91.7 trillion.

From January to July, VIB’s Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR) was maintained at 12.5 per cent while the cost-income ratio (CIR) stood at 49 per cent, according to the report.

The bank expects its 2018 pre-tax profit to hit VND2.5 trillion, surging 70 per cent year-on-year.

Currently, VIB has total assets of VND127 trillion, of which equity is VND9.6 trillion with a network of 162 branches in 27 key cities. VIB serves two million individual customers and tens of thousands of corporate customers.

VIB has a strategic shareholder which is Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA), one of the 15 largest banks in the world.

VIB is also one of the top digital banks with MyVIB mobile banking application, developed under the co-ordinated design of digital banking experts from CBA. MyVIB has received many prestigious international awards from 2016 to 2017. 

Legal corridor needed for digital industry     

The fourth industrial revolution offers many opportunities for Viet Nam, but also poses a number of challenges. To take advantage of Industry 4.0, the country requires strong government reforms, especially in building a firm legal corridor for the digital industry.

A report on readiness for the fourth industrial revolution by the World Economic Forum (WEF) revealed that Viet Nam ranked 48th in structure of production and 53rd in drivers of production.

Viet Nam has made strong technological developments, laying the foundations for the successful application of the technologies of the fourth industrial revolution.

Over the last 10 years, Viet Nam’s digital economy has grown in terms of digital connection infrastructure and business market.

The number of internet users in Viet Nam was 17.7 million in 2007 and grew to 64 million, equal to 67 per cent of the population, last year. The country ranked 13th among the top 20 countries with the highest number of internet users.

Viet Nam is considered to have favourable conditions to fully utilise the achievements of Industry 4.0.

The Vietnam News Agency quoted the head of the Party Central Committee’s Economic Commission Nguyen Van Binh as saying that for a developing country like Viet Nam, exploiting the fourth industrial revolution opens up opportunities for Viet Nam to raise its technology level, production capacity and competitive capacity in the global value chain; create major changes in the sustainable business model and chances for innovative start-ups and offers the potential for developing countries to shorten industrialisation processes.

Minister of Science and Technology Chu Ngoc Anh stressed that the fourth industrial revolution had had a clear impact on the socio-economic development of Viet Nam.

Therefore, the development and promotion of research and development activities and transferring key technologies played an important role in bringing Viet Nam closer to the fourth industrial revolution. The country needed to study the development of the fourth industrial revolution and build appropriate policies for socio-economic development in line with international trends, Anh said.

Binh also emphasised that even with proper and timely exploitation of the opportunities of the fourth industrial revolution, the revolution still posed challenges for the country, businesses and individuals.

This required the government and businesses of Viet Nam to develop strong innovations, he said.

Also at a high-level forum on Industry 4.0, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc emphasised that businesses and people needed to have clear awareness about the fourth industrial revolution, from which they can research, deploy and further apply the achievements of science and technology.

The PM also proposed a response to the negative effects of the fourth industrial revolution, such as setting up scenarios to adapt to the changing circumstances of the revolution; strengthening risk management, and especially dealing with problems of employment and State and corporate governance.

To actively grasp, exploit and respond to challenges of the fourth industrial revolution, Binh affirmed that "the digital industry is the foundation for development".

"Building a strong legal corridor for the digital industry, preparing for the digital transition, developing information infrastructure, training high-quality human resources, reforming administration and enhancing national competitiveness are urgent and necessary," Binh noted.

The Party and State of Viet Nam appreciate the development of information technology in the context of the industrial revolution 4.0. The country is studying and developing legal policies to create favourable conditions for enterprises and people to study and apply technology products.

In the context of the fourth industrial revolution around the world, countries and governments are interested in and actively developing their own strategies such as Germany with “Industrie 4.0”, South Korea with “iKorea 4.0’’ and China with “Made in China 2025”.

From the reality and experiences of other countries, Viet Nam is also developing its own national strategy.

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc asked the Ministry of Planning and Investment to soon complete the development of the National Strategy on Industrial Revolution 4.0, the Ministry of Science and Technology to develop the science and technology and innovation report 2035 and each ministry and locality to develop an action plan in line with the industrial revolution 4.0. 

HCM aims to promote retail sector as key economic contributor

The retail sector plays a core role in Ho Chi Minh City’s economic growth, heard a workshop held recently by the municipal Department of Industry and Trade to discuss building a list of key trade and service products. 

Experts said the service sector significantly contributed to the economic growth of the nation and HCM City in particular, adding that wholesale and retail trade is now the largest part of the service sector. 

According to Deputy Director of the department Nguyen Phuong Dong, the trade and service field is a dynamic and high growth sector, making up 63.2 percent of the city's GRDP, with annual average growth of 8.15 percent.

The city’s retail sector has been developing in the trend of developing countries in the region and across the world, he said.

Vietnam’s retail market has considerable potential, with the rate of modern retail distribution channels making up only 25 percent of the total retail sales, and most supermarkets and trade centres are concentrated in big cities.

It is forecasted that by 2020, the rate of modern retail channels will increase to 45 percent. The country will have about 1,200 - 1,300 supermarkets, while the number of trade centres will also increase to more than 300 and there could be tens of thousands of convenience stores.

Representatives from the Saigon Union of Trading Co-operatives (SAIGON CO.OP) underlined the need to promote the development of modern retail sector by using  modern technologies and e-commerce. 

They said State agencies should pay attention to issues related to laws on market opening and investment commitments and support the domestic retail sector in the context that measures to protect domestic retailers from foreign investors are being reduced due to free trade agreements.

Domestic retailers should be also supported in accessing preferential capital and renting land, which will help them better compete with foreign firms. 

HCM City can attract investment from Hong Kong (China) and China as the countries are seeking to move their trade centres to neighbouring areas due to the ongoing US-China trade war.

Nguyen Phuc Khoa, Deputy General Director of Sai Gon Trading Company Limited (Satra), highlighted the importance of making the modern retail sector a key product of HCM City. 

He also stressed the need to foster development of logistics supply chain for the sector as it is one of the biggest magnets to foreign investment, which contributes to creating differences in trade activities of the city.

There are currently 3,000 businesses capable of providing full logistics services and hundreds of thousands of others providing part of this kind of services, he said.

Participants suggested municipal authorities increase investment to build logistics centres, noting that this will help the city improve its competitiveness.

Green economy breeds sustainable development

Vietnam works hard to have “yellow card” warning removed, VIB buys back all bad debt from VAMC, HCM aims to promote retail sector as key economic contributor, Legal corridor needed for digital industry

The Communist Party and the Government of Vietnam have since long ago integrated green economy in their guidelines and policies, which have been turned into actions by sectors and local administrations.

Vietnam adopted a national strategy on green growth as early as in 2012, reflecting the country’s political will in the matter.

In 2014, the Government approved a national plan of actions for green growth, which defined key priorities in striving for green growth towards a green economy.

The national action plan focused on the main topics of building institutions and plans for green growth at local level; reducing green house gas emission and promoting the use of clean and renewable energy; developing green production, green lifestyle and sustainable consumption.

It set out 12 groups of activities and 66 key tasks.

In carrying out the plan, ministries and agencies have launched research projects and piloted models of green economy, green industry and green urban areas.

The Ministry of Construction is implementing a project on making cities adaptable to climate change in 2013-2020, including the building of a national database and maps on risks facing urban areas.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has deployed several eco-economic models in coastal areas which were designed to adapt to climate change and rising sea levels.

The Ministry of Transport has undertaken three projects to reduce green house gas emission using funds from the national target programme on climate change and green growth in 2016-2020. One of the projects aimed to develop bus services as a means of public transportation during 2012-2020.

At provincial level, several provinces and centrally-run cities have adopted their own plans of action for green growth or integrate the tasks into their plans for economic restructuring. Many have implemented pilot green economic models.

The northern coastal province of Quang Ninh has built its master plan of socio-economic development to 2020 with a vision to 2030 based on the viewpoint of shifting to green economy.  

The northern port city of Hai Phong partnered with Japan’s Kitakyushu city to design its green growth plan centred around green ports and green industrial parks. 

Meanwhile, Buon Me Thuot city in the Central Highlands province of Dak Lak has chosen sustainable coffee farming as the core of its green growth scheme.  

The southern economic hub of Ho Chi Minh City has invested in sustainable urban and transport development towards the goal of becoming a green city. 

A step behind other countries in technology, Vietnam can learn from others in applying advanced technologies which are more energy-efficient and generate less polluting emissions. 

In addition, the country has benefited from the assistance of many international organisations (the United Nations, the World Bank) and countries such as Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Japan, France and the US in switching to a green economy. 

All those factors provide a stepping stone for Vietnam to build a green economy, which is the optimal way to achieve sustainable development for the country.

Vietnam works hard to have “yellow card” warning removed

Vietnam has made sustained efforts to prevent illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in order to persuade the European Commission (EC) to withdraw its “yellow-card” warning soon.

Statistics from the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP) showed that 62 seafood companies have committed to fighting illegal fishing to bolster exports to Europe.

Apart from investing heavily in fishing vessels, seafood companies have paid attention to purchasing materials for processing from fishing ports. 

According to VASEP, there are only 3,000 Vietnamese fishing vessels installed with Movimar satellite geo-positioning devices. The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development ordered vessels of 24 metres in length and over to be equipped with Movimar devices, and the installation must be completed before October this year.

The ministry also asked coastal localities to take specific measures to intensify the supervision at fishing ports.

Besides, Deputy Minister Vu Van Tam said the implementation of the cruise tracking device project must be accelerated to prevent illegal fishing.

On October 23, 2017, the EC issued a “yellow card” warning to Vietnam, after the country failed to demonstrate sufficient progress in the fight against IUU fishing.

A working delegation from the EC’s General Directorate for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries visited Vietnam from May 16-24 to inspect the country’s implementation of the EC’s nine recommendations related to the fight against IUU fishing.

The nine recommendations included revisions to the legal framework to ensure compliance with international and regional rules, applicable to the conservation and management of fisheries resources; ensuring the effective implementation and enforcement of the country’s revised laws; and strengthening the effective implementation of international rules and management measures.

The EC inspectors will return to Vietnam in January 2019 to review the country’s progress in addressing its “yellow card” warnings.

Agribank helps farmers access high-tech agricultural machines

Farmers who purchase agricultural machines of Tata International Vietnam Company Limited will be supported by the Vietnam Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Agribank). 

An agreement to this effect has been recently signed by Agribank and Tata International Vietnam, a subsidiary of India’s Tata International. 

Besides, customers will be provided a package of equipment insurance from the Agriculture Bank Insurance JSC (ABIC) throughout the loan period.  

Pham Toan Vuong, Agribank Deputy General Director, said the deal will provide farmers with access to high-tech agricultural machines, along with financial assistance from Agribank, while contributing to tightening relations between Vietnam and India in various fields. 

Len J Brand, Executive Director and Head of the Distribution Vertical of Tata International, said ensuring credit support to farmers helps increase productivity and agricultural growth, thus improving the livelihoods of farmers. 

Tata International Vietnam commits to providing the best farming solutions through its partners to help farmers improve productivity and maximise the operational longevity of their machines through a team of services and distribution networks. 

By signing the cooperation agreement, Agribannk is actively contributing to materialising the Government’s policy on industrialisation and modernisation of agriculture and rural areas, focusing on agricultural mechanisation, and high tech and clean agriculture.

Quang Nam looks for unique tourist products

Vietnam works hard to have “yellow card” warning removed, VIB buys back all bad debt from VAMC, HCM aims to promote retail sector as key economic contributor, Legal corridor needed for digital industry

The Tourism Association of Quang Nam province is working with local destinations to devise more tourist products with distinctive local flavour to keep visitors amidst the declining arrivals from Europe and North America.

Chairman of the association Vo Van Van said the reduction in the number of European and North American visitors is partly attributable to the fact that the quality of local tourist products, especially services, is yet to meet their demand.

Vice Chairman of Hoi An People’s Committee Nguyen Van Son said based on objective assessment of factors that affect the number of visitors, the city decided to focus on tourism products that optimising the local traditional culture, nature and community.

Reality showed that tours associated with agricultural production, handicraft villages, eco-tourism, community-based tours and sea sports are favoured by European visitors.

Quang Nam has effectively utilised its cultural heritage sites of Hoi An ancient town and My Son holy site as well as the Cu Lao Cham bio reserve, but the local potential in eco- and community-based tourism remains largely untapped.

Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Dinh Van Thu stressed that local agencies and administrations should constantly renew their tourism products along with enhancing service quality.

He noted that the local community should receive more attention in tourism, with each person in the community working as an “ambassador” of tourism, and the community must receive the biggest benefits in tourism development.

In addition, the province plans to expand international cooperation to promote its tourism in the world, with focus on major markets such as the Europe, North America, Japan, the Republic of Korea, India and the ASEAN.

Quang Nam welcomed 2.8 million international visitors in 2017, and more than 2 million in the first six months of this year.

An Giang’s export value hits 455.9 million USD in seven months

Export turnover of the Mekong Delta province of An Giang hit 455.9 million USD in the first seven months of 2018, a rise of 6.59 percent year-on-year and meeting 54.2 percent of the year’s plan. 

The province shipped 257,090 tonnes of rice abroad in the seven months, raking in more than 130.4 million USD, up 27.4 percent in volume and 40.1 percent in value.

China remained the leading market for An Giang’s rice, while rice exports to other markets, including Malaysia and the Philippines also saw strong growth. 

Besides, the province exported 67,040 tonnes of frozen aquatic products, earning 161.1 million USD, representing a surge of 21.4 percent in value despite a slight reduction in volume. Aquatic products have become the biggest earner of foreign currency for An Giang. 

The province’s frozen tra fish was shipped to new markets of Thailand and Saudi Arabia, aside from the traditional market of Europe which accounts for more than 50 percent of direct export volume.

In the period, apparel export value exceeded 62.2 million USD, up 17.6 percent compared to the same period last year, mostly to the US.

However, frozen vegetable only brought home more than 8 million USD, equivalent to earnings in the same period last year.

An Giang has launched various measures to support production of local businesses and the export of staples such as rice and frozen tra fish. Regular meetings with local entrepreneurs were held to address their difficulties and update market information. 

The province has worked to ensure electricity supply for production and encourage firms to renew their equipment. It also helps firms apply for business loans and expand markets through trade promotion activities.

HCM City reports economic expansion in first seven months

Ho Chi Minh City continued recording economic growth in July and the first seven months of 2018, with the economic structure shifting strongly, the municipal People’s Committee reported.

At a meeting on August 2, Deputy Director of the municipal Department of Planning and Investment Nguyen Thi Thu Hoa said total retail sales of goods and services revenue in July were estimated at 87 trillion VND (3.73 billion USD), up 1.1 percent from the previous month. It added up to the seven-month figure of 595 trillion VND (25.49 billion USD), up 12.5 percent year on year.

Total listed stock value approximated 707.5 trillion VND (30.3 billion USD), up 2.13 percent from June. More than 154 million shares worth almost 3.85 trillion VND (165 million USD) were traded on the local stock exchange daily.

Last month, HCM City also permitted 1,628 foreign investors to contribute capital and buy shares at domestic firms with registered capital of 3.73 billion USD. They focused on property, science-technology, wholesale and retail and accommodation and hospitality services.

Director of the municipal Department of Industry and Trade Pham Thanh Kien said the local industrial production index grew by 7.33 percent between January and July, compared to the same period last year.

Key industries, including mechanical engineering, electronics, chemical – rubber – plastics and food processing, continued to expand their markets, reform equipment and improve quality and competitiveness.

Trading activities also grew, ensuring goods supply for consumers, Kien noted.

At the meeting, Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee Nguyen Thanh Phong affirmed that HCM City recorded stable economic growth in the seven months. He attributed increased budget revenue to efforts to improve the business climate.

Meanwhile, foreign direct investment into the city was mainly driven by capital contribution and share purchases, while investment in new projects was very low at less than 1 million USD each project, he noted.

Vietnam pushes drastic measures to fight IUU fishing

Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung has demanded that coastal cities and provinces deploy drastic and synchronous measures to prevent illegal fishing in foreign waters. 

Fishing boats that fail to switch on the monitor device should be strictly punished, said the official at a teleconference in Hanoi on August 3 to review the implementation of Directive No. 45/CT-TTg on a number of urgent tasks to deal with the European Commission (EC)’s warning on illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. 

Along with closely inspecting fishing activities, another important task is to create more jobs for fishermen, he noted. One of the key solutions to this issue is to develop industry and services as part of the coastal economy, along with providing occupational training for coastal population to facilitate their switch to other jobs, thus lessening the pressure on fishing. 

The EC’s “yellow card” poses a high risk to Vietnam’s seafood export to the European Union and other foreign markets, and subsequently adversely impacts local people’s production and lives, Deputy PM Dung said.

“If no solutions are taken, the incident would directly affect the seafood sector, the lives and income of fishermen, the development of the national maritime economy, and Vietnam’s image and prestige in the world,” Dung emphasised. 

He, therefore, urged the Government, ministries, agencies and localities to quickly implement measures to have the warning removed. In the long run, such measures will also serve the re-organisation of fishing activities for sustainable development, including serious observance of international rules on fishing. 

In October 23, 2017, the EC issued a “yellow card” warning to Vietnam, after the country failed to demonstrate sufficient progress in the fight against IUU fishing.

A working delegation from the EC’s General Directorate for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries visited Vietnam from May 16-24 to inspect the country’s implementation of the EC’s nine recommendations related to the fight against IUU fishing.

 The nine recommendations included revisions to the legal framework to ensure compliance with international and regional rules, applicable to the conservation and management of fisheries resources; ensuring the effective implementation and enforcement of the country’s revised laws; and strengthening the effective implementation of international rules and management measures.

 The EC inspectors will return to Vietnam in January 2019 to review the country’s progress in addressing its “yellow card” warnings. 

Da Nang focuses on developing high-tech park

The central city of Da Nang is collecting opinions from domestic and foreign managers and experts to develop a high-tech park which operates based on information-technology (IT) and well trained personnel. 

The city expects to soon complete a framework of mechanisms and development plans to submit to Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc for approval to spur the development of the park. 

Since the end of the 20th century, Da Nang has invested in building Hoa Khanh industrial zone to attract investments and boost local economic development. 

To create more breakthroughs in socio-economic development, the city decided to build the Da Nang high-tech park and received approval in 2010 from then Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung. This is the third high-tech park nationwide, along with others in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. 

Covering 1,128 hectares, the park is located northwest of Da Nang city in Hoa Vang district. It sits along the Da Nang-Quang Ngai expressway, linking with Chan May Economic Zone in Thua Thien-Hue province, Chu Lai Open Economic Zone in Quang Nam province and Dung Quat Economic Zone in Quang Ngai province in the central region. 

Da Nang aims to create momentum for the local economy by investing in the high-tech park. The city has implemented models, policy mechanisms, plans and solutions to promote innovations and startups to be piloted in the park. 

The park is expected to create a favourable environment in terms of technological infrastructure and investment incentives to encourage organisations, individuals and businesses at home and abroad to carry out research, incubation activities, train high-tech personnel and provide high-tech services. 

Dr. Kum Dongwha from the Vietnam-Korea Institute of Science and Technology said to boost development and promote innovation and startups, it is important to conduct research on economic development. 

He pointed out decisive factors to successes for the Republic of Korea (RoK) regarding national development plans, including selective strategies, strong Government research institutes, technological planning schemes, consensus of experts and cooperation between ministries and agencies. 

The Government has sent a document to the Prime Minister’s economic consulting team and the municipal People’s Committee, assigning the committee to work on mechanisms, policies, plans and solutions to promote innovations and startups, and report results to the PM in the third quarter of 2018. 

Prof. and Dr. Nguyen Duc Khuong, President of the Association of Vietnamese Scientists and Experts in France and a member of the economic consulting team, viewed innovations and creations as fundamental factors for economic growth model reform. 

He highlighted the steering role played by the Government in this regard, and stressed the need to roll out comprehensive, long-term policies and strong reforms towards a startup ecosystem driven by the private sector. 

During a working session with municipal leaders in late July, Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam said challenges and opportunities always go in tandem, noting that creations and innovations are needed to maximize opportunities. 

It is necessary to develop IT and other sectors based on IT, while stepping up high-quality human resource development, he said. 

The Da Nang high-tech park has attracted investment in various realms like automation and accurate mechanics, electronics, information and communication technology (ICT), new material technology, new energy, bio-technology and environmental technology, among others. 

To lure more investment, the city has offered incentives in tax, land lease and infrastructure use, along with services to investors. 

The central city of Da Nang aims to have the GRDP growth of 9 – 11 percent and GRDP per capita ranging between 7,000 USD and 9,000 USD for 2018 – 2030.

To that end, Da Nang plans to achieve strong economic growth with breakthroughs by promoting Industry 4.0 and international integration; develop a local and regional hub for startups, innovation and creativeness; strive towards industrialisation and modernisation to motivate the growth and integration of the central and Central Highlands regions.

Kiên Giang has ambitious plans for industrial shrimp farming

The Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta province of Kiên Giang has 2,000ha of industrial and semi-industrial shrimp farming models, or 79 per cent of its target for the year.

Kiên Giang, one of the largest shrimp producers in the delta, has harvested around 10,000 tonnes of the crustaceans on these farms, according to its Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The farms are mostly situated in Hòn Đất, Kiên Lương, Giang Thành, and U Minh Thượng districts and Hà Tiên Town.

Super-intensive shrimp farming, also popular, is a model in which the density of the creatures could be up to 250 per square metre compared to 50 in traditional models.

Ponds are covered with anti-sunshine nets and their beds with plastic sheets, and equipped with fans on the surface and pumps on the beds to oxygenate the ponds.

Super-intensive farming offers high yields and enables breeders to control the quality of water and diseases, but it requires large investments.

The model yields 30 - 50 tonnes per hectare per crop. 

According to the department, the growth of industrial and semi-industrial shrimp farming remains sluggish and the models fall short of the province’s potential.

This has been blamed on farmers’ lack of financial resources.

Farmers and companies have been reluctant to set up farms this year due to prolonged hot weather, large differences in temperatures between day and night, disease outbreaks, and falling prices of shrimp, according to the department.

Quảng Trọng Thao, deputy director of the department, said the province planned to have 2,500ha of industrial and semi-industrial shrimp farms, which would produce 18,000 tonnes.

The department said nine shrimp farming companies, which have licences to set up 1,830ha of farms, would not meet their target.

But Thao said the province would create favourable conditions to enable them to achieve their target.

It has improved power, irrigation and transport infrastructure required for industrial and semi-industrial shrimp farming in major breeding areas, he said.

Kiên Giang plans to expand the industrial and semi-industrial shrimp farming area by 2020 to 5,000ha and annual output to 41,330 tonnes. 

HCMC pledges business support

HCM City leaders promised all assistance to businesses to ensure their sustainable growth and competitiveness at a meeting between them on August 4.

The HCM City Business Association and the Foreign Affairs Department sign an agreement for overseas trade promotion.

Nguyen Thanh Phong, chairman of the People’s Committee, said: “The city authorities have always sought ways to improve the quality of economic growth and competitiveness. Only the business community can provide answers.

“Product quality is the most important factor in competitiveness. Innovation and modern technology are imperatives for better quality.

“The city will link up the business community with universities to connect innovation and research with real production.”

Though HCM City is the country’s biggest economic hub, it is home to only 10 of its 40 biggest brand names, he said.

“The city will offer incentives to encourage large companies, which account for only 1.4 per cent of its 350,000 enterprises, to take part in international supply chains.

“HCM City has not got any specific major product and the city has instructed the Department of Industry and Trade to choose products.”

He said on August 11 the city would release the master plan for 26,246 hectares of land that have been converted from agricultural cultivation to other purposes of use.

“Around 2,000ha will be used for building industrial parks and processing zones, with a focus on innovation industrial zones.”

Nguyen Hoang Ngan, general director of Binh Minh Plastics Company, said most major brand names in the city like Vinamilk, Sabeco and Binh Minh have been sold to foreign investors.

“How did local authorities spend the huge amounts of money raised by selling them? What benefit is the Government getting from such deals? If we sell all big brands, what do we have left?”, Ngan questioned.

Tran Anh Tuan, general director of Sao Bac Dau, a technology company, urged the city to announce its development strategy in the era of the fourth industrial revolution.

“They should clarify what core technologies the city will apply, what the incentives are for high-tech enterprises.”

Chu Tien Dung, chairman of the HCM City Business Association, called on the city to pursue administrative reform.

He also wished that enterprises are not inspected more than twice a year and business representatives are consulted from the outset when framing new policies to ensure smooth implementation.

“Local enterprises do not seem to have any chance to bid for ODA projects because ODA projects now are being carried out mostly by foreign companies and the treatment of foreign and domestic businesses is not equitable.”

Dung also called on the city to budget more funds for overseas trade promotion.

He revealed that 23 out of 30 complaints made by companies at the last meeting in March have been resolved.

City Party Secretary Nguyen Thien Nhan and officials from related departments also attended the meeting.

At the meeting, the Business Association signed an agreement with the Foreign Affairs Department for overseas trade promotion. 

Conference throws up solutions for developing Khanh Hoa tourism     

Diversifing international markets and creating more products are the two main ways to promote tourism in the central province of Khanh Hoa Province and its Nha Trang city, an international conference heard on August 4.

“Khanh Hoa Tourism in the National Destination Development Strategy,” organised by the province Department of Tourism and tourism property developer Crystal Bay, heard tourism has developed strongly in Khanh Hoa in recent years.

Last year it received 5.5 million tourists, over two million of them foreigners.

In the first half of this year revenues were worth VND10 trillion (US$439 million), a 34 per cent jump from the same period last year. Already the number of foreign tourists has topped 1.5 million, a 60 per cent jump.

The province has invested in tourism infrastructure, and has 684 tourist accommodation establishments with about 31,700 rooms.

Of them 150 are classified as three- to five-star with a total of 22,300 rooms.

The province targets 8.5 million Vietnamese tourists and 3.5 million foreigners by 2020 and turning tourism into a key driver of growth.

But to achieve the goals, the province needs to overcome certain shortcomings, the conference heard.

The province’s Permanent Deputy Chairman Tran Son Hai said the tourism sector’s development has not been commensurate with its potential.

“Products are not diverse enough, quality does not meet the increasing demand, promotional activities are limited, there is a human resource shortage in terms of both quality and quantity.”

To overcome these shortcomings requires greater co-operation between local authorities, tourism companies and local residents.

Nicolas Urvois, senior manager of THR Group, Dubai, said the number of tourists to Nha Trang has increased too quickly, causing pressure on services and accommodation.

The number of Chinese tourists, and to a lesser extent Russians, has risen spectacularly, while arrivals from traditional markets like France, the UK, Germany, Australia, the US, and Canada have dropped.

Nha Trang and Khanh Hoa Province want to recover their traditional markets, attract more visitors from new markets and diversify its tourism segments, he said.

To achieve the goals, the province should prioritise markets, products and customers, do market research to study tourists’ interests and create new experiences and products, he said.

Nguyen Thuong Son, director business development at Crystal Bay, said developing tourism areas under the "One holiday, two heritage areas" model is the solution to connect the two heritage areas in the north-east and central region of the country.

He was referring to linking up Ha Long Bay with My Son and the Cham culture area in Nha Trang and neighbouring Ninh Thuan Province.

“Combining the two heritage regions is the main advantage which can bring a rich experience to tourists, especially international ones. It is a distinct highlight and persuades tourists to stay longer and to come back again. Connecting tourism sites in two different heritage areas is also a factor in persuading tourists to pay for their experiences. This solution will optimise the tourism potential of each locality.”

This strategy would also improve value addition in the tourism sector, he added.

Concurring, Urvois said every destination should identify activities that would affect the emotion as well as remain in the memory of travellers to "transform" from pure tourism activities to a level that makes visitors remember and feel the experience.

Having a range of diverse experiences is the key factor in persuading visitors to stay longer and travel to more places during their holidays.

Tran Du Lich, chief consultant to the Coordination Committee of the Central Coastal Region, said it is necessary to connect Nha Trang with provinces in the Central Highlands.

“Nha Trang should be developed as a destination in both the south-central region and the Central Highlands. For that, it needs to strengthen tie-ups between tour operators and developers.”

Vu Quoc Tri, chief of office, Viet Nam National Administration of Tourism, said Khánh Hoà and Nha Trang are important destinations which play a key role in developing the country’s tourism.

Nha Trang should be developed as an international destination, and for that be to successful, it is necessary to establish a destination management organisation, he said.

This would be a consulting organisation whose members are from companies and official agencies, and it would meet regularly to identify development directions, and the model has been established in other regions like the north and Mekong Delta, he said. 

Can Tho hosts conference on e-governance     

Executives from leading technology companies and officials discussed ways to speed up introduction of e-governance and creation of smart cities based on the safe use of IT at a conference in the Mekong city of Can Tho this week.

According to Lam Nguyen Hai Long, director of Quang Trung Software City (QTSC) in HCM City, the two concepts are closely linked with each other and require the use of digital technology, not only in industry and doing business but by the entire society.

To turn Viet Nam into an “electronic nation”, authorities around the country must consider the two an ‘inevitable” step to improve its competitiveness and take advantage of the diversity in each region based on the characteristics of each smart city.

QTSC operates like a smart city with all its infrastructure, electricity and water supply, and parks operating based on high technology.

The time taken to establish links between enterprises and between them and official agencies has been reduced from two days to two minutes, while the connection costs has fallen to a fifth of normal levels.

When a smart city takes shape, helping better connect members of society, reduce human labour, save natural resources, and creating other advantages, setting up an e-government becomes “feasible”.

Le Duc Anh from Fortinet Group proposed the establishment of a computer emergency response team (CERT) and pooling of public and private resources.

“Infrastructure for both electronic government and smart cities” was organised by the Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Can Tho unit and attended by executives from companies like Dell EMC, HPT, Fortinet, and Vietnet.

Earlier, at a conference titled “Developing Can Tho into a smart city in the period from 2016 to 2025” held on May 21, Duong Thi Dung, deputy director of the city Department of Information and Communication, said making it a smart city was aimed at improving its residents’ living and working conditions.

A smart city would accelerate civic engagement in urban management based on an improvement in competitiveness and socio-economic development, she said.

"The plan requires effective communication to improve public services, and urban and social infrastructure planning and development have to be compatible with the process of developing a smart city," she said.

Establishing standards for public services, creating policies for public-private partnerships, fostering start-ups, and enhancing international co-operation were among the solutions she proposed to turn Can Tho into a smart city by 2025.

The conference also witnessed the signing of a co-operation agreement between Can Tho and the Viet Nam Posts and Communications Group (VNPT).

VNPT will set up a smart city framework system, including an information and communication technology framework and a smart city solution framework, in which all developers’ solutions can run. 

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