BUSINESS NEWS IN BRIEF 30/8

Vietnam Print Pack & Foodtech 2018 opens in HCM City

The Vietnam Print Pack Foodtech 2018 Expo opened at the Saigon Exhibition and Conference Centre in District 7 of Ho Chi Minh City on August 29, drawing more than 380 enterprises from 11 countries and territories including Vietnam, Australia, Canada, Germany, and Japan.

The annual international packaging and printing industry event has 500 booths displaying various products and advanced printing and packaging technologies, along with the latest accessories and equipment in food packaging and processing.

The exhibition drew many big names in the industry such as Trung My A of Vietnam, AEC Machinery from the Republic of Korea, and Uchida Yoko Global from Japan.

Bui Thi Thanh An, Vice Director of the Vietnam Trade Promotion Agency under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, said that after 17 years, the Vietnam Print Pack Foodtech 2018 has become a popular event for both domestic and foreign enterprises, contributing to greater connectivity and giving a chance for importers to access the Vietnamese market.

An industrial seminar will also be held to introduce 3D printing technology and its application in the Vietnamese printing industry.

The Vietnam Print Pack Foodtech 2017 showcased 300 exhibitors from 11 countries and regions with 480 booths, attracting a total of 14,732 visitors.

E-commerce key for farm exporters

HCM City issues plan to boost PCI and Doing Business indices, Base.vn unveils Viet Nam’s 1st applicant tracking system, VN venture capital start-up launches $5m fund, Latest BMW models to debut in Viet Nam

Vietnamese enterprises should take advantage of e-commerce development to boost exports of farm produce to China, experts said at a meeting on Sunday in HCM City.

Wen Xi Chen, economic counselor at the Chinese Consulate General in the city, said Vietnamese enterprises should cooperate with well-known Chinese e-commerce enterprises to open online stores of high-quality farm produce for export to China.

While e-commerce has narrowed the production and consumption gap, and extended consumer markets, traditional sale channels have not updated market information regularly, he said.

To develop e-commerce for agricultural products, logistics service, traceability and human resources should ensure product quality, he added.

Nguyen Hoang Anh, member of the Advisory Council for Reform, who is also vice president of the Digital Agriculture Association (DAA) Viet Nam, said China remained a major market for agricultural products exported from Viet Nam due to similarity of cuisine, culture and geographical proximity.

In 2017, China accounted for 76 per cent of US$3.5 billion worth of fruit and vegetables exports to the country.

“Cuisine plays a major role in the life of Chinese, who like eating, know how to eat, and eat well,” Chen said.

China in recent years has become the world’s largest importer of agricultural products, accounting for one-tenth of global trade in agricultural products, with an annual average import growth rate of 8.8 per cent.

Experts agreed that Vietnamese enterprises need to pay attention to consumer habits and preferences of the Chinese, and expand sales in this huge market.

However, exports of agricultural products to the Chinese market has become tougher due to higher quality requirements.

Exports have been unstable, mostly based on unofficial channels of MSMEs (micro- and small- and medium-sized enterprises) without attention to traceability and branding of the products.

In addition, exports are often stuck at border gates, causing prices to fall.

Cooperation between the two sides has not been as effective as expected, as enterprises from both countries have not kept their contracts.

In addition, agricultural production in Viet Nam has small scale with unstable product quality and low competitiveness.

Vietnamese exporters have not exploited the market, with most Chinese dealers having to visit Viet Nam to source products.

Viet Nam also lacks long-term strategies for building brand names, while Chinese consumers, especially in big cities, do not have a deep impression of Viet Nam’s agricultural products.

“Vietnamese assume China is a densely populated country and that consumers are not demanding of product quality. The reality is their demand has increased significantly,” Chen said.

Vu Tien Hung, head of the Viet Nam Trade Promotion Office in Hangzhou, China, said, “Most Vietnamese farm produce exporters lack information about the Chinese market, but few businesses look to the trade offices to seek information, even though it’s provided for free.”

To fully exploit the market, Chen said State agencies must study the market and grasp the development trends.

They should disseminate agricultural policy guidelines for exporters with more attention being paid to market demand.

In addition, agencies should work with agencies such as customs and quarantine authorities of the concerned countries to create favourable conditions for Vietnamese exporters.

The role of financial and credit institutions in sharing risks with farmers in production must also be emphasised.

Advanced processing technology should be used in production as well.

Nguyen Quoc Toan, director of the Department of Agro-product Processing and Market Development under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, said to boost exports to China, Vietnamese exporters must meet new standards, requirements, and consumer tastes of the market.

They should also focus on packaging and processing to increase added value for the products.

Exports must be promoted via the main official channels, requiring Viet Nam and China to improve bilateral trade policies for mutual benefit.

There should be close coordination between ministries, embassies, and trade counselors in updating market information and removing obstacles for Vietnamese exporters between the two countries.

Thai group Sansiri officially enters Vietnamese property market

Sansiri Group, one of the leading real estate companies in Thailand, officially entered the Vietnamese market and announced a strategic partnership with real estate distributor Denzell.

Along with this announcement, Sansiri's top projects at the most attractive resorts in Thailand including Hua Hin, Phuket, Pattaya, Chiang Mai, and Bangkok will be brokered by Denzell in its first high-end sales gallery in Ho Chi Minh City.

According to Apichart Chutrakul, CEO of Sansiri Group, Ho Chi Minh City is a potential real estate hub with a fairly balanced market outlook, while Vietnam is still one of the top attractions of international businesses.

“Successfully launching the sales galleries in key markets such as China, Singapore, and Hong Kong, Ho Chi Minh City is the Sansiri’s sixth market. This is an opportunity for Sansiri to strengthen its presence and provide a full service experience for its customers,” Chutrakul said.

Kingston Lai, managing director of Denzell Vietnam, said that Denzell is now the only unit in Vietnam authorised to provide Sansiri real estate projects. “Vietnamese buyers can now access the latest Sansiri projects on the same day as they are launched in other international markets, such as Hong Kong, China, and Singapore,” Lai said.

According to Lai, Thailand is now considered a good option for investment because of lower taxes, while the average starting price is VND3 billion ($129,000). Rental income is at around 6 per cent per annum at Bangkok's downtown area and 7-8 per cent of the resorts provide exclusive access to Sansiri's newest projects.

In 2017, Sansiri succeeded in increasing sales in the international market, reaching VND6.5 trillion ($287million).

In 2018, Sansiri set a daring plan by introducing 31 new projects totalling at VND44.2 trillion ($1.95 billion), setting a revenue target of VND35 trillion ($1.5 billion). Throughout the launch of Denzell Vietnam, potential customers in Vietnam will no longer need to visit Thailand to invest in real estate.

The Vietnamese government, according to Sansiri, is implementing a plan to privatise many SOEs and boost private investment, which has made Vietnam one of the fastest growing economies in Asia.

Large enterprises, such as Samsung, also invested $17 billion in Vietnam, making the country the second largest exporter of smartphones in the world after China, or Warburg Pincus Investment Fund, which has committed $1 billion to Vietnamese companies.

Statistics from the Tourism Authority of Thailand show that in 2017, Thailand welcomed a total of 35 million visitors, 867,712 of whom were Vietnamese, up 12.5 per cent over the same period in 2016.

Vietnam Business Club launches in Cambodia

A Vietnam Business Club in Cambodia (VBCC) has been launched in Phnom Penh with the presence of Vietnamese Ambassador Vu Quang Minh, representatives of the Committee for Overseas Vietnamese Affairs and the Vietnam-Cambodia Friendship Association and a group of more than 100 businesspeople.

Since the first day of its establishment, the club has drawn more than 100 Vietnamese businesses, including large, medium and small-sized enterprises, operating in different fields of investment, trade and services in Cambodia.

Nguyen Thanh Dung, director of the Cambodian branch of the Vietnam Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Agribank) and president of VBCC, said the club targets its operations towards fully mobilizing financial sources and promoting its members’ strengths. It serves as a platform for its members to share experience, enhance connectivity among members and with the Vietnamese embassy, and provide mutual support during their process of running business operations.

Ambassador Vu Quang Minh highlighted the contributions of the Vietnamese business community in Cambodia to the national construction process and the prosperous development of Cambodia while tightening the traditional ties of solidarity and cooperation between the two nations.

The club’s establishment helps to meet the real demand of Vietnamese businesses seeking to expand their business and investment activities in Cambodia. With its set guidelines and objectives, the club will join hands with the Vietnamese business community in Cambodia in a joint effort to help stimulate the development of and cooperation between the two countries in future.

Increased investment boosts Mekong Delta development

Most enterprises in the Mekong Delta performed effectively in the first half of this year, with a growth rate of about 9%. The result was attributed to joint efforts by the Mekong provinces to boost investment for regional development.

According to the Ministry of Planning and Investment, 4,600 new businesses with a total registered capital of more than US$1.9 billion were established in the Mekong Delta in the first half of this year, up 8.7% over last year.

Seven of 13 regional provinces and cities attracted 47 new foreign direct investment (FDI) projects with registered capital exceeding US$800 million, proving that the Mekong Delta is becoming more attractive to investors looking to invest in agriculture, manufacturing, processing, and tourism.

The Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry branch in Can Tho reports that when the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) takes effect, it will create new business opportunities for Vietnamese enterprises to expand their export markets.

Phung Thi Lan Phuong of the VCCI branch in Can Tho said “In the future we should attract investment in hi-tech agriculture and increase the productivity of Vietnam's agricultural sector to satisfy demanding import markets including the markets of CPTPP members, the EU, and the US. We hope the CPTPP will help Vietnam attract more investment in agriculture so we can develop sustainably with more qualified products.”    

Can Tho city, at the center of the Mekong Delta, is focusing on logistics, high-tech agriculture, and IT and cooperating with other localities and institutions in the region to attract investment and train high quality human resources. The city is also working hard to improve its investment and business environment.

Vo Thanh Tong, Chairman of Can Tho City People's Committee, said Can Tho is promoting trade, helping enterprises expand their markets, boosting exports, and increasing links for domestic consumption. It is also enhancing cooperation with other provinces to advertise rice, fishery products, and fruits to domestic and foreign buyers.

At a recent investment promotion conference in Can Tho, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc praised the city’s administrative reforms and improvement of its investment environment.

He said, “Investors, enterprises, and the business environment have all played important roles in the city’s achievements. Investors need to work closely with the local administration to achieve its vision for the next decade. Local authorities should streamline registration procedures.”

In the first half of this year, Tien Giang attracted 18 projects, 7 of them FDI were projects with a registered capital of more than US$300 million. Tien Giang is working out measures to attract investment in high-tech projects to produce competitive, high quality products.

Tran Thanh Duc, Deputy Chairman of the Provincial People’s Committee, said “In the third quarter, the provincial People's Committee will promulgate a plan to improve the administrative reform index until 2020.

The plan will identify strengths and weaknesses and propose specific measures to ensure that administrative reform is completed on schedule. We will focus on simplifying administrative procedures, speeding up online public services, and delivering results via the postal system.”

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said he believes Tien Giang will be a primary driver of the region’s economy, adding “Tien Giang needs to concentrate on high-tech agriculture, safe fruits, farm produce processing, ecotourism, and building a logistics industrial zone at the Xoai Rap deep-water port.”

Vietnam lacking good startup ecosystem to attract capital

Though Vietnam is considered to offer a strong potential for investments in startups, domestic investors are inexperienced in startup evaluation and foreign investors are discouraged by the complex legal environment, according to an expert.

On the sidelines of a recent workshop on financial support for startups, Jouko Ahvenainen, founder and executive chairman of Grow Vc Group, said that one of the problems concerning the attraction of capital for Vietnamese startups is that domestic investors have money, but are not experienced enough to identify good startups, to understand how they are operating and how to assist these businesses.

Ahvenainen added that only experienced investors are capable of seeking out startups.

Meanwhile, foreign investors view Vietnam as a potential market with high profitability.

To attract foreign investors, there needs to be a transparent environment and an open startup ecosystem, which is to facilitate investments, as well as capital withdrawals.

According to Ahvenainen, many investors are interested in the Vietnamese startup market, but shy away from complex regulations.

As a result, instead of directly investing in startups, the Government should build a complete startup ecosystem and clear regulations to attract private sources of capital.

Ahvenainen told The Saigon Times that Vietnam’s ecosystem is still in its infancy, but is heading in the right direction.

An ecosystem needs the involvement of many parties, including outstanding individuals who are capable and have the desire to build their businesses and expand globally.

Besides improving the legal framework and the startup ecosystem, according to Ahvenainen, it is essential to build a startup database, which foreign investors can depend upon to make investment decisions.

As of the end of last year, there were approximately 3,000 startups in Vietnam. While some 50 agreements were made in 2016, worth US$205 million, 92 deals which attracted US$291 million were recorded last year.

However, it is undeniable that the value of investments in Vietnamese startups is much lower than that in other countries in the region.

The number of Vietnamese startups acquired and merged remains modest, and there have been almost no firms involved in initial public offerings. Meanwhile, startups in ASEAN countries attracted US$7.86 billion last year.

A major difficulty faced by innovative startups is access to capital. Thus, startups have had to use their own money or borrow from relatives, as it is not easy to receive bank loans.

B.Grim acquires Phu Yen solar power project for $35.2million

B. Grimm Power Plc. has completed the $35.2 million acquisition of solar photovoltaic power project in Vietnam as part of the expansion of its portfolio of overseas renewable power projects.

B.Grim, through subsidiary B Grimm Renewable Power 2 Ltd., has acquired an 80 per cent stake in Phu Yen TTP JSC, the project company investing and developing a 257MW PV scheme in Phu Yen province on the south central coast of Vietnam.

The purchase of 80 million shares in Phu Yen TTP is part of SET-listed B.Grim's rapid expansion of power generation equity in Thailand and overseas.

Phu Yen will particularly contribute to B.Grim's growing renewable power portfolio as well as strengthening its presence in Vietnam, according to B.Grim president Preeyanart Soontornwata.

Also in June, B.Grimm has teamed up with one of the largest Vietnamese conglomerates, Xuan Cau Group, to develop the biggest solar power plant in Southeast Asia, with a combined capacity of 420MW.

Located in the southern province of Tay Ninh, the $420 million project is expected to be operational by next June.

Brim’s ambition is to raise the proportion of energy generated by renewable power plants in its portfolio to 30 from 12 per cent. B.Grimm aims to have 53 projects with 2,938MW in capacity by 2022, and is seeking another 2,000MW in additional projects. The new projects are going to be in the Republic of Korea, Laos, Vietnam, and Thailand.

AIA enjoys strong growth in first half of 2018

During the first six months of 2018, AIA delivered double-digit growth across our main financial metrics, including very strong growth in value of new business (VONB) of 17% on a constant exchange rate basis and 22% on an actual exchange rate basis, compared with last year's corresponding six-month period.

Ng Keng Hooi, AIA’s Group Chief Executive and President, said “AIA achieved a very strong set of results in the first half of 2018 with VONB growth of 17 per cent to US$1,954 million as well as 14 per cent growth in IFRS operating profit. VONB for the period was up 24 per cent when excluding the retail IFA channel in our Hong Kong business which delivered an exceptional growth in the first half of 2017.

These results are underpinned by the continued execution of our proven growth strategy and the scale, quality and breadth of AIA’s exceptional businesses across the Asia-Pacific region."

He noted that the Board has declared a 4% increase in the interim dividend for 2018, reflecting the strength of AIA’s financial results as well as our confidence in the outlook for the Group. This is in line with our prudent, sustainable and progressive dividend policy.

The top AIA leader said the group continues to hold a uniquely advantaged position stemming from the significant competitive advantages we have created over our long history in Asia. The quality of our results comes from our diverse and balanced platforms – across distribution, product and geography. Our clear strategy continues to work well as our experienced team of outstanding people to harness the enormous growth opportunities that the region presents.

“We remain confident that we will continue to execute our strategic priorities and realize AIA’s full potential as we help millions of people to live healthier, longer, better lives,"said Mr Ng Keng Hooi.

 AIA Group Limited and its subsidiaries (collectively “AIA” or the “Group”) comprise the largest independent publicly listed pan-Asian life insurance group. It has a presence in 18 markets in Asia-Pacific – wholly- owned branches and subsidiaries in Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, China, Korea, the Philippines, Australia, Indonesia, Taiwan, Vietnam, New Zealand, Macau, Brunei, Cambodia, a 97 per cent subsidiary in Sri Lanka, a 49 per cent joint venture in India and a representative office in Myanmar.


Japan leads the way for foreign investment in Vietnam

Japan was the biggest foreign investor in Vietnam over the first eight months of this year with a total investment capital of about US$7 billion, followed by the Republic of Korea with US$5.16 billion and Singapore with US$3.47 billion.

According to the Foreign Investment Agency (FIA) under the Ministry of Planning and Investment, foreign investors registered a total US$24.35 billion for new and existing projects and to buy shares in Vietnam during the period, a year-on-year rise of 4.2%. Up to August 20, US$11.25 billion worth of foreign direct investment (FDI) capital had been disbursed.

Foreign businesses from 97 countries and territories have poured investment into 17 fields across 59 provinces and cities nationwide. The processing and manufacturing sectors attracted the lion’s share of investment with US$10.72 billion, accounting for 44% of the total registered capital. They were trailed by real estate with US$5.9 billion and the wholesale and retail sector with US$1.87 billion.

The FIA reported that Hanoi took the lead in FDI attraction over the past 8 months with a total registered capital of US$5.93 billion, followed by Ho Chi Minh City with US$4.42 billion and Ba Ria-Vung Tau with more than US$2.17 billion.

During the 8-month period, exports of the FDI sector, including crude oil, reached US$110.3 billion, up 13.4% against the same period last year, making up nearly 70.9% of the country’s total exports, while imports hit US$90.8 billion.

FDI disbursement up 9.2 percent in eight months

The disbursement of foreign direct investment (FDI) projects was estimated at 11.25 billion USD as of August 20, a year-on-year rise of 9.2 percent, according to the Foreign Investment Agency under the Ministry of Planning and Investment.

The country granted investment licences to 1,918 new projects with a total registered capital of 13.48 billion USD, up 0.2 percent year-on-year, and allowed 736 existing projects to increase their capital to a total of 5.58 billion USD, equal to 87.2 percent year-on-year.

From January to August, foreign investors contributed capital and purchased shares of 5.28 billion USD, a year-on-year increase of 50.9 percent.

The FDI sector exported 110.3 billion USD worth of goods, including crude oil, showing a year-on-year rise of 13.4 percent and making up nearly 70.9 percent of the country’s total export turnover.

Foreign investment was poured into 17 sectors, mainly in the processing and manufacturing industry with 10.72 billion USD, or 44 percent of the total registered investment.

Other attractive fields were real estate, and wholesale and retail with 5.9 billion USD and 1.87 billion USD respectively, accounting for 24.2 percent and 7.6 percent of the total investment.

Ninety-seven countries and territories are currently running investment projects in Vietnam. Japan tops the list with 7 billion USD, making up 28.8 percent of the total investment; followed by the Republic of Korea with 5.16 billion USD (21.2 percent); and Singapore with 3.47 billion USD (14 percent).

Overseas firms invested in 59 cities and provinces, of which Hanoi attracted the largest investment total of 5.93 billion USD, or 24.4 percent of total investment.

Ho Chi Minh City came second with 4.42 billion USD (18.2 percent), and Ba Ria-Vung Tau ranked third with 2.17 billion USD (8.9 percent).

Major foreign investment projects include the smart city project worth 4.1 billion USD in Hanoi invested by Japan’s Sumitomo Corporation; the polypropylene (PP) plant and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) warehouse worth 1.2 billion USD in Ba Ria-Vung Tau invested by the Republic of Korea’s Hyosung Corporation; and the Laguna Company Ltd project invested by Singapore in the central province of Thua Thien-Hue with an additional capital of 1.12 billion USD. 

Dong Nai holds dialogue with Japanese investors

The People’s Committee of the southern industrial province of Dong Nai held a dialogue on August 28 with locally-based Japanese firms with the aim of removing obstacles for the firms’ operation. 

The province is currently home to more than 1,800 foreign-invested projects with total capital of 32.8 billion USD. Japan is third on the list of top foreign investors in the province with over 240 projects worth a combined 4.3 billion USD. Japanese-invested firms employ more than 63,000 workers

At the dialogue, Japanese businesses talked about problems they encountered in visa, foreigners’ income tax and corporate tax. 

Representatives from local agencies gave detailed explanation and promptly addressed arising issues when possible. 

Chairman of the Japanese business association in Dong Nai Kadowaki Keiichi said the provincial authorities have removed many obstacles faced by Japanese investors thanks to the dialogues held so far, thus promoting cooperation for development between the two nations and among their firms.  

Vice Chairman of Dong Nai People’s Committee Tran Van Vinh noted that the Japanese business community in Dong Nai has contributed greatly to the province’s high and stable economic growth as well as its shift towards sustainable development.  

The same day, the Dong Nai People’s Committee organized a B2B event between Japanese and local firms.

Latest BMW models to debut in Viet Nam     

Local car maker Truong Hai Auto company (THACO) will introduce the BMW X2 model in Viet Nam, just one year after the vehicle first debuted at the Los Angeles Auto Show in the US in 2017.

Thaco said the newest cross-over model and other imported BMW X1, BMW 118i and BMW 218i have been shipped to Viet Nam for the official curtain-raising event this September.

It also said BMW X2 will offer three classes including Base, M-Sport and M Sport X for Vietnamese customers.

According to Thaco, further models — notably the BMW 7 Series 740Li, 750Li and M760Li X Drive — will be arriving in Viet Nam for show-off events later this year.

Thaco has been the new official importer of BMW and MINI vehicles in Viet Nam following a co-operation deal with the German giant car maker signed in January of 2018.

A BMW 7 Series model is planned to officially debut later in 2018. — Photo courtesy Thaco

The price of the newly imported BMW car models have yet unveiled.

According to BMW, the 3-series car model is the most successful in Viet Nam. A total of 6,400 cars are now on the road.

BMW has sold more than 10,500 units in Viet Nam since entering the market 20 years ago.

The biggest local car maker currently manufactures and distributes Korea’s Kia model, Japan’s Mazda and France’s Peugeot.

Thaco plans to build three more plants with a total annual capacity of 215,000 trucks, vans and commercial cars, and achieve a localisation ratio of 16 per to 46 per cent. 

VN venture capital start-up launches $5m fund,      

Newly-formed homegrown venture capital firm Startup Viet Partners, has made its entrance into the ecosystem with a US$5 million debut fund.

The fund will focus on Business-to-Business (B2B) and Business-to-Business-to-Consumer (B2B2C) sectors, specialising in tech solutions for SMEs and corporations in Viet Nam.

The firm said the B2B model was an emerging trend for many Vietnamese start-ups. More than 90 per cent of enterprises in Viet Nam are small and medium scale, and most of them need to apply technology to improve their performance and management capabilities.

Startup Viet Partners is supported by 10 Limited Partners (LPs), including businessmen and women in Viet Nam who each have an average of 20 years of experience in building and managing large Vietnamese corporations. Their expertise includes retail, manufacturing, FMCG, F&B, publishing, software and consulting.

Vietnamese start-ups often lack operational support. In addition to financial investment, Startup Viet Partners said it helped founders in strategic planning, operation and capital mobilisation for the next phase, said a representative of Startup Viet Partners.

With B2B orientation as the core, the HCM City-headquartered firm will target ticket size of $500-$1 million pre-series A deals to start with, and is looking to invest in two to four start-ups per year.

Last year, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc issued a decree calling on private and public sectors to embrace the 4th Industrial Revolution by applying technology in production. That was also seen as a call by the country’s tech start-ups to boost their business activities in the B2B and B2B2C sectors, the firm said.

HCM City issues plan to boost PCI and Doing Business indices

HCM City issues plan to boost PCI and Doing Business indices, Base.vn unveils Viet Nam’s 1st applicant tracking system, VN venture capital start-up launches $5m fund, Latest BMW models to debut in Viet Nam     

HCM City Post Office at night. HCM City authorities are striving to raise the Doing Business Index by 8-18 positions. — Photo news.zing.vn


 The HCM City People’s Committee has released a plan to boost its Provincial Competitiveness Index (PCI) as well as improve the city’s business and investment climate in 2018 and the following years.

According to the plan, the City will take measures to improve the business environment indicators, especially with regard to the World Bank’s Doing Business Index, with the aim of boosting the City’s ranking by eight to 18 positions. Last year, Viet Nam ranked 68th in the World Bank’s Doing Business Report.

Targets for some specific indicators include: “starting a business” index will increase by at least 40 steps and the “enforcing contract” index and “resolving insolvency” index will rise by 10 steps each.

These indicators had the lowest scores in the Doing Business 2018 Report.

The southern economic hub only ranked eighth in the PCI 2017 Report, higher than Ha Noi (13th position) but trailing behind the top three cities including Quang Ninh, Da Nang and Dong Thap.

The city is committed to abolishing and simplifying 50 per cent of its business and investment conditions. It is also proposing to remove a number of conditional business lines, as well as cut at least 50 per cent of goods subject to specialised inspection.

Particularly, the city will strongly change the State management method, shifting from mostly pre-checking to mostly post-checking, eliminating cases in which one product is subject to specialised control by more than one State agency and reducing the proportion of imported goods subject to specialised inspections at the customs clearance to less than 10 per cent from current 25-27 per cent.

Regarding administrative procedures, the HCM City authorities will strive to put into use 30-40 per cent of online public services related to citizens and enterprises at the level 3 and 4 by the end of 2018. At these levels, users can fill in and send application forms to authorities over the internet. The forms are processed online. At Level 4, fees can be paid over the internet.

The city has also issued a plan to measure the satisfaction of citizens and organisations with respect to the public services in the fields of health and education in the period of 2018-20.

The set of criteria consists of 26 indicators in five areas, including access to public administrative services, administrative procedures, work handling by civil servants, delivery of results of public services and receiving and resolving comments by citizens. 

Vingroup and NAPAS offer promotion for Vinmart     

Vingroup co-operated with the National Payment Corporation of Viet Nam (NAPAS) to launch a promotion programme offering major reimbursements for customers who pay via NAPAS domestic cards issued by Vietnamese banks including debit, credit, prepay cards or VinID customer card. Customers can recoup up to 30 per cent of the value of their bill when shopping at Vinmart supermarkets nationwide.

Customers must spend at least VND200,000 (US$9) on the bill, have VinID cards and pay by NAPAS domestic cards.

At the same time, customers will have opportunities to participate in a lucky draw programme with the highest prize of up to VND100 million. The programme runs from August 27 to September 26.

Base.vn unveils Viet Nam’s 1st applicant tracking system     

Base.vn on Monday launched Viet Nam’s first ATS (applicant tracking system), named Base E-Hiring in HCM City.

ATS, reportedly used by 90 per cent of the top 500 companies in the world, helps manage, optimise and systematise the hiring framework.

It helps address problems in the hiring process like employer branding, framework building, CV sourcing, candidate evaluation, interviewing and hiring efficiency evaluation.

Pham Kim Hung, CEO of Base.vn, said: “One of the toughest tasks of enterprise leaders is to seek and retain talented individuals. Strategies and business models would count for nothing without suitable employees to carry them out. Thus, the hiring process has become the ace in the business game and technology will take it to new heights.”

Base.vn, a trailblazer in Viet Nam in the SaaS (Software as a service) industry, was established in August 2016.

It has rolled out more than 20 applications in five vital areas for companies: human resource management, workload tracking, task management, finance, and marketing and sales.

Base has more than 500 clients including VIB, VP Bank, SacomBank, Scommerce, Mkgroup, VietCredit and The Coffee House.

It recently tied up for the first funding round with VIISA and 500 Startups.

Water heater market shows potential in Việt Nam

The water heater market in Việt Nam has great potential as the size of the market for the product is large, said Emanuele Giommi, general director of Ariston Thermo Việt Nam.

Speaking at the ceremony to celebrate its 30 years of establishment and development in Việt Nam held in Hà Nội on Tuesday, he said that the potential comes from a big population and rapid construction growth rate. Meanwhile, the rate of households using water heaters, especially those in rural and mountainous areas, has remained low.

For this reason, the market has become very competitive due to attention from both local and foreign manufacturers, he said, adding that it has seen a high growth rate in recent years.

In 2014, the Italian water heating manufacturer opened a new manufacturing plant in Tiên Sơn Industrial Park in the northern province of Bắc Ninh to replace its imports of water heaters into Việt Nam. This was the company’s first plant in Việt Nam and the second-largest in Asia. Covering an area of over 50,000sq.m, the plant, set up with an investment of US$18 million, produces up to one million electric water heaters per year.

During 30 years of operation in Việt Nam, Ariston has focused only on manufacturing water heaters. In the next five years, it plans to bring the most advanced technologies applying Industry 4.0 from Europe into products in Việt Nam. It will also introduce new products such as energy-saving devices to bring safety and health to customers in the market.

“Ariston will enhance investment into research to develop new products to meet the increasing demand in the country,” he said, adding that they were determined to have long-term investment in the market. 

Vinh Phuc generates jobs for 82,000 industrial park workers

Industrial parks (IPs) in the northern province of Vinh Phuc have generated jobs for some 82,000 workers in recent years, most of whom are local residents. 

According to the provincial management board of industrial parks, Vinh Phuc has 18 IPs already approved by the Prime Minister – 11 of which are already established and have pulled in 51 domestic and 217 foreign-invested projects. 

There are 215 ongoing projects, 19 others at the factory-building and equipment-installing stage, and 29 expected to begin soon. 

At present, Khai Quang IP hires around 40,000 workers; while Ba Thien 1 and Ba Thien 2 IPs are home to nearly 20,000 workers; and Binh Xuyen 1 IP employs 10,000 people. 

It is forecast that Vinh Phuc needs nearly 61,350 workers for the 2018-2020 period, including around 22,715 in construction and 19,700 in services. 

In order to meet recruiters’ demand, Vinh Phuc is putting together a project on vocational training for workers in manufacturing, trade, and services. 

The province is expected to continue upgrading infrastructure and improving the capacity of lecturers in vocational schools.

Huntsman opens multi-purpose facility

Huntsman Corporation (NYSE: HUN) recently announced that it has opened a multi-purpose facility at Amata Vietnam Industrial Park, near Ho Chi Minh City.

The green field investment will house Huntsman’s Polyurethanes and Advanced Materials businesses and will comprise of a manufacturing area, R&D capabilities, a technical service centre, a warehouse, as well as a distribution space and a commercial office.

Huntsman’s CEO Asia-Pacific and president of the Polyurethanes business Tony Hankins said, “Vietnam is one of the largest and fastest growing countries in the Asia-Pacific. For Polyurethanes, we have been seeing double digit growth rates for a sustained period and fully expect this to continue."

"At the new site, we will manufacture formulated systems for footwear, insulation foam used in construction and cold chain applications, simulated wood for furniture, and automotive applications.

These products will be sold in Vietnam, with the balance being exported to Cambodia. The facility will enable Huntsman to collaborate more effectively with its customers based in Vietnam and will also strengthen our strategy of globalising our bolt-on downstream acquisitions,” Hankins added.

Scott Wright, president of Huntsman’s Advanced Materials business, added, “This is the first manufacturing expansion investment outside China for our business in the Asia-Pacific and we see many opportunities in Vietnam to support large-scale infrastructure and construction projects in one of the fastest growing economies in the region.

The new plant will give us the capability to efficiently supply customers across the ASEAN region with high-quality electrical insulation, coatings, and adhesive solutions that will ensure projects are implemented successfully."

In addition to this facility, Huntsman has a distribution warehouse located in the inland container depot at Long Binh-Dong Nai province, and a site in Hanoi which offers technical services and comprises of warehouse and distribution space and a commercial office.

Huntsman is a publicly-traded global manufacturer and marketer of differentiated and specialty chemicals with 2017 revenues of more than $8 billion.

Its chemical products number in the thousands and are sold worldwide to manufacturers serving a broad and diverse range of consumer and industrial end markets. It operates more than 75 manufacturing, R&D, and operations facilities in approximately 30 countries and employs approximately 10,000 associates within four distinct business divisions.

Da Nang realty gets a fillip from tourism growth

The average absorption rate in Da Nang's apartment segment topped 93% in first half of 2018, a new report says.

Absorption rate is the rate at which available apartments are sold. It is calculated by dividing the average number of sales by the total number of available apartments.

The report, prepared by Savills Vietnam, said sales were nearly three times higher year-on-year, while the supply of apartments increased 19% to 830 at three new projects.

The limited primary supply pushed average prices to VND40.8 million (US$1,800) per square meter, 28% up from the same period last year. Son Tra District accounted for a 68% market share.

Another major real estate service firm, CBRE, was also optimistic about the city market, saying the luxury apartments in Da Nang now cost the same as in downtown Hanoi and HCMC.

The tendency to buy property for leasing out is growing in the city thanks to the steady and high profits. CBRE said returns on apartments could reach a lucrative 12%.

It said for instance a one-bedroom apartment worth VND1.6 billion (US$71,100) fetches nearly VND15 million (US$667) a month and a two-bedroom apartment worth about VND3 billion (US$133,333), VND28 million (US$1,244).

At the same time, as one of the most beautiful coastal cities, Da Nang attracted a large number of tourists which helped develop its seaside tourism properties, especially in the hotel segment, Duong Thuy Dung, senior director of CBRE Vietnam, told the Vietnam Seaside Tourism Real Estate Forum held recently in Hanoi.

By 2020 the number of rooms available at hotels, condotels and villas is expected to double in response to the surging demand, she said.

In the first half of this year the city received more than four million visitors, up 24.5% year-on-year. They included 1.6 million international arrivals, an increase of 32%.

The Savills report concurred, saying tourism made the condotel segment profitable and pushed up the average selling price to VND47.6 million (US$2,100) per square meter, up 19% from the same period last year.

The firm said tourism made the condotel segment profitable and pushed up the average selling price to VND47.6 million (US$2,100) per square meter, up 19% from the same period last year.

The 109 three- to five-star hotels in the city had 12,900 rooms with another 1,400 to be added in the second half of this year, according to Savills.

As for condotels and villas, Savills also saw higher absorption rates due to tourism demand. The condotel segment will see 1,570 new units come into the market, mostly from the Hongkong-based Empire Group.

In the resort villa segment, though the market did not record new supply, the steady demand saw an absorption rate of 86%.


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