BUSINESS NEWS IN BRIEF 10/10

VinaCapital officially ends investment in poultry firm Ba Huan

This results in an increase in the stake holding of domestic shareholders in Ba Huan from 66.2% to 83.6%, of which Ba Huan`s Director Pham Thi Huan owns 64%.

Ba Huan JSC, the country's leading pasteurized eggs and poultry meat producer, has decreased its charter capital from VND280 billion (US$12 million) to VND222 billion (US$9.53 million), effectively ending the involvement of VinaCapital, one of the two largest asset management firms in Vietnam, with the company. 

In the company's list of shareholders, Hawke Investment Pte (Singapore) has reduced its stake to 16.39%, which is equivalent to the amount the Singaporean company had owned at Ba Huan before VinaCapital invested US$32.5 million in Ba Huan through Hawke Investment in February. 

This results in an increase in the stake holding of domestic shareholders from 66.2% to 83.6%, of which Ba Huan's Director Pham Thi Huan owns 64%.

In Feburary, VinaCapital`s flagship fund Vietnam Opportunity Fund (VOF) invested US$32.5 million to acquire a significant minority stake in Ba Huan. 

However, in early July, Ba Huan sought Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc's intervention in terminating its partnership with VinaCapital. The firm said there were differences between the English and Vietnamese versions of the agreement and the terms were not what the two parties had agreed initially. 

Among those terms, the poultry firm noted that VinaCapital included an internal rate of return (IRR) of 22% per year, three times higher than current interest rate at banks. In the event of the IRR not being met, Ba Huan will be fined or required to return the investment capital, along with a 22% interest, or must transfer to VinaCapital at least 51% stake in the company. 

It also alleged that the partnership restricts it from engaging in any other business except chicken and eggs.

In an announcement, VinaCapital informed that due to misunderstandings, the two parties are in negotiation to end the partnership in compliance with the law and based on mutual interests. 

With regard to the deal, VinaCapital stressed the terms that were agreed to by both parties are aligned with market practices and are typical of the many mutually successful transactions that have completed in the past.

Moreover, the terms also included a number of conditions intended to protect investor's interests. These conditions are only applicable if the company cannot achieve the results forecast by management. In addition, the fund agreed to invest at a valuation significantly higher than the market valuation from a price-to-earnings basis.


European firms support EU-Vietnam FTA signing

European businesses expressed their support for the signing and ratification of a free trade agreement between the European Union (EU) and Vietnam (EVFTA) at a conference on October 8.

Addressing the event in Brussels, Belgium, Chairman of the European Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam (EuroCham) Nicolas Audier noted the investment and business environment in Vietnam has improved.

He said the FTA will benefit European firms in many areas, including pharmaceuticals.

Audier noted 80 percent of EuroCham member enterprises feel optimistic about the business outlook in Vietnam and hope that the EVFTA will be signed and approved soon.

Vietnamese Ambassador to Belgium and head of the Vietnamese Mission to the EU Vu Anh Quang said Vietnam is a promising market with rapid and stable economic growth.

Over the years, Vietnam has shared many initiatives of the EU in promoting global cooperation and collaboration with the bloc in trade liberalisation, climate change response and sustainable growth.

The diplomat stressed the EVFTA is a tool to strengthen the multi-faceted partnership between the EU and Vietnam, bringing benefits to enterprises and people of both sides.

Thomas Debelic, Chairman of the German Business Association, said European investors in Vietnam will enjoy better assurances thanks to the Investment Protection Agreement (IPA), which has been separated from the EVFTA.

He said that the more than 120,000-strong Vietnamese community in Germany is a great strength of bilateral relations.

At the event, speakers from European businesses operating in Vietnam discussed the impacts of the EVFTA on the reforms of Vietnam. They asserted opportunities for business cooperation are increasing, especially trading activities between Vietnam and the EU due to the diversity and supplementary strengths of both sides. Consumers of the two sides will also benefit from the process, they added.

They noted Vietnam is improving its illegal and unreported fishing situation in line with the European Commission’s recommendations.

Mariam Garcia Ferre from the EU Delegation to Vietnam said the EU has supported Vietnam, through independent consultation experts, in building action plans and programmes to become ready to implement commitments stated in the deal.

Meanwhile, Filip Deraedt, who represents the EC, said that the EVFTA and IPA have been translated into languages of EU countries and Vietnamese to be submitted to the EC and the Vietnamese Government before the ratification process is undertaken in the European Parliament and Vietnam’s National Assembly.

Steady prices key to boosting demand for cashew nuts

Price stability is needed to ensure sustained growth of the cashew nut market and benefits for stakeholders in the cashew value chain, participants said at the 10th International Conference on Cashew in northeastern Quang Ninh province at the weekend.

After a period of steady increase, global cashew nut prices have fallen sharply, causing difficulties for stakeholders in the sector, participants said.

Vu Thai Son, an executive member of the Vietnam Cashew Association (Vinacas), the organiser of the event, said: “Last year cashew kernel prices soared to record levels, with WW320grade going to 5.2 USD per pound fob. The prices have since fallen to 4.6-4.7 USD in early 2018, 3.65-3.7 USD in early September and 3.2-3.3 USD now.” This has worried businesses, he said.

According to participants, the high prices last year caused consumers to switch to other nuts.

Wim Schipper, director for tree nuts and ingredients at Intersnack Procurement B.V, a subsidiary of Intersnack Group of Germany, said due to subsequent higher kernel prices, roasters had to increase their prices twice for sales in 2017 and 2018, resulting in “demand destruction” and a reduction in retail sales of the nut.

Cashew nut imports into the EU saw steady growth from 2015 to 2017 and even in the first five months of this year, but reduced significantly from June, he said.

There is a strong connection between the steadiness of retail prices and retail sales of the nut, he said. Retail sales in the EU are expected to fall by 10 percent this year.

A representative of Red River Foods said cashew sales this year are expected to go down by 14 percent. “Demand should recover but it may take 9-15 months.”

Many participants asked speakers if prices have bottomed, but were told no one could be sure.

Wim said retailers usually sign long-term contracts for at least six months, usually a year. Due to this, there would be no extra demand for cashew kernels from retailers if prices decrease, he said.

But Son said there are some bright signs. “The number of orders at the current prices seems to have increased a lot, customers have started ordering at current prices for until June 2019. This proves that they think the price is reasonable for them, reasonable for consumers.”

In addition, some supermarkets in the US and EU have begun to cut shelf prices, which is very important signal because the prices are as cheap as the prices during a period when the consumption was very good, he said.

Consumption would possibly be good in the coming time, with consumers coming back to the nut, he said.

Wim said: “Sustainability and social compliance become more important. And price stability is needed to reduce exposure of all stakeholders and to grow the volume and to mature the business.”

With many importing countries paying greater concern to food safety, cashew processing and exporting firms must understand and comply with food safety regulations in their target markets, and have all documents required for possible inspections in importing countries, delegates said.

Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Le Quoc Doanh said the cashew industry has grown strongly in terms of both production and export, greatly contributing to the country’s economic growth and creating jobs.

Cashew nuts are one of Vietnam’s key export items, with the value reaching 3.62 billion USD last year, he said.

He urged the sector to focus more on improving value-addition, doing market research to boost exports and training human resources to ensure sustainable development.

Vinacas President Pham Van Cong said Vietnam accounts for more than 60 percent of global cashew nut exports and has remained the top processor and exporter for the last 12 years. 

Held since 2008, the annual conference is Vietnam’s most important industry event, and seeks to promote its brands and exports and build and consolidate the relationship between Vietnamese and international cashew businesses, he said.

At the conference this year Vinacas, cashew processing and import companies and international cashew nut buyers, importers, distributors, processors, and marketers analysed, evaluated and oriented the development of the global cashew industry.

SHB honoured as best bank for corporate social responsibility

The Sai Gon-Hanoi Commercial Joint Stock Bank (SHB) has been honoured by the financial publication Asiamoney as the best bank for corporate social responsibility in Vietnam.

Asiamoney, a leading finance-banking magazine in the Asia, lauded SHB for its coherent strategy in shouldering responsibility for the community with various social security projects. 

Notably, the bank’s “Love sharing” and “Wings of faith” programmes sent 5 billion VND (215,000 USD) worth of gifts to children of disadvantaged families across the nation, along with invaluable leadership skills and lessons.

In recent years, the bank has prioritised credit support to coffee farmers, who have made concerted efforts to transform Vietnam into the world’s second-largest coffee producer. Its financial products have helped household businesses in the Central Highlands region get access to short-and medium-term loans at preferential interest rates.

By March, 2018, a total 50.66 billion VND (2.17 million USD) was offered to coffee growers in the five Central Highlands provinces of Kon Tum, Gia Lai, Dak Lak, Dak Nong and Lam Dong.

Asiamoney’s annual award programme is organised annually to decide which banks in six Asian-Pacific countries have excelled across a range of core banking activities. The awards include Best domestic bank, Best corporate and investment bank, Best private bank, Best international bank, Best bank for small and medium-sized enterprises, Best digital bank, and Best bank for corporate social responsibility.-

HCM City set for event on doing business in digital age     

The use of digital platforms in Viet Nam and global trends, building a foundation for digital marketing, and attracting customers with digital advertising platforms are among the topics on the agenda of an event titled “Doing Practical Business in the Digital Age” to be held in HCM City next week.

It will be addressed by experts from the Viet Nam E-commerce Association, Google Asia and Nielsen and executives from Mat Bao Corporation, Chili Asia, Getfly, Cloudfone, Novaon, and other companies.

It is meant to help businesses understand how to adopt digital platforms, reach customers, provide products to customer care, and mitigate problems they are facing to increase sales and optimise the quality of customer service.

Huynh Ngoc Duy, CEO of Mat Bao Corporation, one of the organisers, said: "With a desire to share its practical experience in adopting digital platforms, Mat Bao is collaborating with a number of leading enterprises in the field to host this event.

“We believe the useful information in the programme will help owners of businesses understand what is the core factor in the application of digital platform tools, effective exploitation channels and application processes that are suitable for businesses. The practical experience of the speakers will be valuable knowledge for anyone operating in today’s highly competitive business environment."

At the event, speakers from leading companies which have successfully applied digital platforms will speak about the process.

It will be held on October 12 at Capella Parkview in Phu Nhuan District.

According to experts, in future the use of digital platforms by businesses will become a decisive factor in their success.

The event will be organised by Mat Bao Corporation, Chili Asia, Getfly, Cloydfone, and Novaon and sponsored by the Viet Nam E-commerce Association. 

TTC Group inaugurates solar power plant     

TTC Group and its electricity arm Gia Lai Electricity JSC (GEC) on Friday inaugurated the TTC Phong Dien solar power plant after just nine months of construction.

This is the first 35MW solar power plant to be put into operation in Viet Nam.

The power plant, located in Dien Loc Commune in Thua Thien-Hue Province, has total investment capital of nearly US$43 million. Work on the project started in January 2018.

About 145,560 solar panels were installed with advanced technology and equipment, which will absorb the sun’s radiation and convert it into electricity for the national grid.

The plant is expected to generate about 60 million kWh per year, which is nearly equal to the annual electricity consumption of about 32,628 households in Viet Nam. It is estimated to reduce CO2 emissions by about 20,503 tonnes per year.

“It’s very encouraging to see Phong Dien solar power plant go online, paving the way for the development of Viet Nam’s solar energy sector, by leveraging the private sector.

“As a development institution and a GEC shareholder, IFC believes GEC is moving on the right track to tap into the rich potential of Viet Nam’s green energy sector, improving the national energy supply capacity through expanding supply of reliable and clean energy,” said Kyle Kelhofer, IFC Country Manager for Viet Nam, Cambodia and Lao PDR at the event.

Besides TTC Phong Dien solar power plant, GEC will officially put the TTC Krong Pa solar power plant in Gia Lai Province into operation in the last quarter of this year. The $60.3 million project has a capacity of 49MW.

In the solar energy sector, the TTC energy segment is implementing six plants which are expected to be put into operation before June 2019. 

VietinBank to divest all holdings at Saigonbank
     
State-owned Vietnam Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Industry and Trade (VietinBank) this week announced it plans to divest its holding in Saigon Bank for Industry and Trade (Saigonbank).

Accordingly, VietinBank’s board of directors approved a plan to auction more than 15.12 million shares of Saigonbank, equal to 4.91 per cent of the latter’s charter capital.

The starting price of the shares and the timing for the auction haven’t been disclosed yet.

Earlier, in 2016, VietinBank offloaded nearly 17 million shares of Saigonbank, or 5.48 per cent of the bank’s charter capital, at a starting price of VND10,800 (46 US cents) apiece.

Saigonbank’s total assets by the end of June rose by 5.35 per cent to over VND20.72 trillion (US$885 million). The bank’s mobilised capital reached VND17 trillion, up 7.63 per cent year-on-year, while its outstanding loans were VND13.85 trillion, up 5.7 per cent. Notably, the bank’s non-performing loans accounted for 6.48 per cent of its total outstanding loans.

In the first half of 2018, Saigonbank posted pre-tax profit of VND112 billion, down 30.2 per cent year-on-year, but still meeting 75 per cent of the bank’s profit target set for 2018. The decline was mainly due to a high provision of VND78 billion for risky loans.

Meanwhile, Viet Dragon Securities Corporation (VDSC) forecast VietinBank’s pre-tax profit will reach VND10.1 trillion in 2018 after the bank’s profit rose by 9.39 per cent to VND5.26 trillion in the first half.

Besides a 64.46 per cent stake holding by the State, Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ is currently the largest strategic shareholder of VietinBank, holding 19.73 per cent of the bank’s charter capital. IFC Capitalization Equity Fund and International Finance Corporation also hold 5.39 per cent and 2.63 per cent, respectively. 


Vietinbank to provide credit for TTC solar power plant     

TTC Green Energy Investment Joint Stock Company and Vietinbank signed insurance and credit contracts for the TTC No 1 solar power plant on Thursday.

Vietinbank will provide credit worth VND1 trillion (US$43.5 million) for the plant, which will be built on 78.42 hectares of land in An Hoa Commune, Trang Bang District, Tay Ninh Province.

Vietinbank Insurance Company Ltd will provide insurance for the plant’s power output.

The plant will have a 68.8MWp capacity and require a total investment of around VND 1.6 trillion.

TTC Green Energy is a joint venture between Gulf Energy and TTC Group.

The Vietnamese Government is focusing on developing renewable energy, issuing the Renewable Energy Development Strategy to set a plan that will last until at least 2030. It involves policies that provide incentives for solar power projects.

Many solar projects are being developed in provinces with high potential to produce solar power such as Binh Dinh, Binh Thuan, Ninh Thuan, Khanh Hoa, Tay Ninh, Long An and Soc Trang.

As of September, Tay Ninh had attracted VND 20 trillion of investment in 10 solar power projects with a total capacity of 808 MW.

Construction has already started on nine of the 10 projects, and they are expected to generate power by June 2019. 

Dragon fruit prices hit rock bottom     

The price of dragon fruit in the central province of Binh Thuan, the country’s largest producer of the crop, has fallen significantly in the last two weeks.

Although prices are low, traders are still unwilling to purchase this kind of fruit.

In Ham Chinh Commune (Ham Thuan Bac District), many dragon fruit farmers are looking for buyers.

According to some farmers, the price of dragon fruit declined sharply after the Mid-Autumn festival. It fell from a range of VND10,000 to VND15,000 (US$0.43 to $0.64) per kilo to VND700 - VND2,000 per kilo.

Farmer Ngo Minh Hai in Binh An Village, Ham Chinh Commune has 500 trees full of ripe fruit with an estimated yield of over three tonnes.

For weeks, his family has struggled to make ends meet because dealers demand an unreasonably low price or refuse to buy dragon fruit altogether. Hai’s wife said around the Mid-Autumn festival, one trader offered to buy some of their fruit at VND7,500 per kilo but the family decided not to sell until the whole garden ripened.

A week later, the price had dropped to VND3,000 per kilo. Acknowledging their mistake and accepting the loss, the family decided to sell their ripe fruit. But at that point, traders had stopped buying.

Truong Van Ba’s family in Thang Hiep village (Ham Thang Ward, Ham Thuan Bac District) found themselves in a similar situation. With nearly 1,000 trees planted on 1ha area, they also decided to let their fruit ripen before finding a buyer.

Ba said that prices have never been so low in his many years of growing dragon fruit.

Some traders say higher-than-normal yields have caused the price drop. Traders cannot sell fruit as quickly as it ripens, and some markets have started consuming less dragon fruit.

Binh Thuan province has more than 27,000 hectares of dragon fruit with a total output of over 500,000 tonnes per year. It is grown mostly in Ham Thuan Nam, Ham Thuan Bac and Bac Binh Districts.

Dragon fruit is mainly exported to China, Japan, the Netherlands, and the US.

Blue growth crucial to national economy

Blue growth, or growth of the sea-based economy in an effective and sustainable manner, is important to Vietnam’s economy as the sea plays a crucial role in both economic and security terms for the country.

In 2012, the Government approved a National Green Growth plan for the 2011-2020 period with a vision to 2030, and passed a national action plan on eco-friendly growth for the 2014-2020 period in 2014.

However, natural resource exploitation activities have still been prioritised, with the values in terms of services and space of the sea and sea ecosystems yet to receive adequate attention. There has been no breakthrough model to effectively tap the potential of coastal areas and islands.

Although blue economy, which is the sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, and a part of green economy, is a current global priority, and has also been stated in Vietnam’s 2012 strategy and 2014 plan, the enforcement of relevant policies has faced many difficulties due to slow changes in mindsets and limited resources. As a result, natural resources for maritime economy have not been preserved and continue to see a degradation in quality.

According to Professor Chu Hoi from the University of Natural Sciences under the Hanoi National University, Vietnam’s sea is rich in natural resources and located in the East Sea where there is a long history of disputes. Therefore, the sea has an important position in national economic development and security strategy in any era.

Over the past years, the sea-based economy has made important contributions to national economic growth, but the scale of maritime economy has yet to match the potential and value of the sea, he held.

Professor Hoi asserted that in order to optimise sea economy efficiently and sustainably towards industrialisation and modernisation, blue economy and blue growth are a suitable choice.

The national strategy on green growth focuses on strengthening investment towards preserving, developing, and exploiting natural resources effectively, while reducing green house gases and improving the quality of environment, thus promoting economic growth. Cutting down emissions and increasing green house gas absorption are important obligatory criteria of socio-economic growth.

Currently, the national green strategy and action plan is being implemented by ministries and localities nationwide. The two schemes have affirmed the inevitable development trend of the Vietnamese economy in switching to a greener economy, contributing to poverty reduction, natural disaster mitigation, and climate change response. –VNA 


VietBank to raise charter capital before listing on UPCoM

Nine-month seafood exports estimated at 6.4 billion USD, Market Surveillance Agency upgraded to General Department of Market Surveillance, Local firms and farmers must meet tracebility requirements in foreign markets

The Vietnam Thuong Tin Commercial Joint Stock Bank (VietBank) targets to list its shares on the Unlisted Public Company Market (UPCoM) within a year of increasing charter capital to more than 4.25 trillion (181 million USD) in 2018.

According to a resolution released recently, VietBank will issue shares for its existing shareholders and employees to raise its capital by more than 1 trillion VND (42.5 million USD).

Nearly 91 million shares for existing shareholders and more than 9.7 million ESOP (employee stock ownership plan) shares will be offered at the price of 10,000 VND a piece, based on the bank’s book value of 10,247 VND per share by December 31, 2017. Existing shareholders and the bank’s employees will be allowed to buy the shares at the ratio of 100:28.

Existing shareholders can transfer the right to purchase the shares, which will not be subject to restrictions on the time of transfer. The ESOP shares will not be permitted to be transferred within three years of the offering.

According to VietBank, all proceeds from the offering will be used for asset investment to expand its operation network.

Under the resolution, VietBank’s board of directors also announced the bank’s shares have been registered for securities depository at Vietnam Securities Depository (VSD) with share code VBB.

In addition, the bank has submitted an application for the Hanoi Stock Exchange to trade on UPCoM and is completing procedures to put VBB shares into trading within a year after the completion of the offering.

In 2018, VietBank plans to achieve pre-tax profit of 300 billion VND after gaining 263 billion VND last year. The bank is also set to increase its total assets by 30 percent in 2018.

Kien Giang targets $660 million of exports     

Kien Giang Province’s Department of Industry and Trade said that it targets reaching $660 million of exports by the end of 2018.

The first nine months saw a 35 per cent increase of exports, totalling $468 million, compared to the same period last year.

Rice exports were more than $158 million, 23.3 per cent higher than last year, while seafood exports were $155.6 million, 11 per cent higher.

Leather footwear exports were $121.3 million, 117.7 per cent higher.

The province exports to over 30 countries and territories.

Kien Giang has been improving its rice exports by connecting farmers with businesses within and outside the province to facilitate trade.

The province is also pushing for more promotional and networking opportunities, such as exhibitions, and is helping firms with problems they face in exporting and production.

The $660 million export goal is 40 per cent higher than last year’s goal.

For the last three months, the province will continue focusing on developing material sources for rice, seafood and leather footwear exports, organise more networking opportunities, and explore more foreign markets, as well as prepare for the Christmas and New Year season.

Rubber needs consistent quality     

The uneven quality of rubber products from ‘Made in Viet Nam’ factories is why local rubber products are cheaper than those from other countries, according to industry insiders.

Tran Minh, head of the Viet Nam Rubber Group’s Industry Department, said when using local rubber products, foreign producers have to use more technologies and additives to stabilise the quality.

“We need to build a national-level rubber latex process to stabilise quality. It’s essential to set up a management body to supervise latex quality before exporting. This has been conducted by many countries,” Minh told a conference in Ha Noi this week.

To Xuan Phuc, an expert from Forest Trends said latex from small rubber plantations is often contaminated with impurities. As a result, even though Viet Nam has set strict standards of product quality, only large companies have met the requirements of importers.

According to Forest Trends, a non-profit organisation promoting sustainable forest management and conservation, State-owned enterprises and private firms which have large rubber plantations have occupied 38 per cent of total crude latex volume of Viet Nam annually. Meanwhile, small plantations, which are owned by households, supply the rest.

Although rubber plantation area between these two sides is almost 50-50, many large rubber plantations have reached the end of the latex exploitation cycle (20-25 years), while small plantations are in the best harvesting period.

The rubber industry does not only help Viet Nam earn billions of US dollars but also create jobs for more than 500,000 labourers. The industry has played an important role in supplying materials for domestic production sectors, especially wood processing.

In term of latex processing, non-State owned enterprises use nearly 60 per cent of total latex annually, producing industrial products such as tyres, gloves and materials for the footwear sector. Foreign direct investment (FDI) enterprises have the advantage of advanced technology and large investments in factories. Therefore, they attracted more than 60 per cent of the labour force, while private firms employ 23 per cent and the remainder work for State-owned enterprises.

At the conference, experts also discussed new challenges for the country’s rubber industry, especially amid the US-China trade war.

The US will impose tariffs on up to 25 per cent on imports from China, such as furniture and automotive parts, as early as 2019. The tariffs could be pushed up to 44 per cent if trade tensions escalate.

The Vietnamese rubber industry is likely to be hurt because China is the largest importer of Vietnamese natural rubber (65.3 per cent of total exports). China was a key importer of rubber materials from Viet Nam, and about 70 per cent of its import volume was used to produce tyres.

According to the analysis, in the US-China trade war, Viet Nam’s most affected export sectors are computers, furniture, automobile products and automobile tires. Chinese products exported to the US that are related to Viet Nam’s rubber industry are likely to be affected. But it’s not clear how it will impact on industry.

To minimise the risks from the US-China trade in the timber and rubber sector, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) has recently asked Forest Trends to assess the impact of the US-China war on Viet Nam’s timber industry. 

Local firms and farmers must meet tracebility requirements in foreign markets

     Nine-month seafood exports estimated at 6.4 billion USD, Market Surveillance Agency upgraded to General Department of Market Surveillance, Local firms and farmers must meet tracebility requirements in foreign markets

 Local enterprises and farmers needed more information about the origin of export products because importers and retailers overseas had higher demands for traceability of agricultural products, according to experts.

According to Cao Thi Kim Lan, director of Binh Dinh Seafood Joint Stock Company, regulations under the EU illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing act, 100 per cent of her company’s shipments must be kept at port for their origin to be established. Due to the requirement, the company faced many difficulties purchasing raw material for export processing because many did not meet the origin requirements of overseas markets, reported Nguoi lao dong (The Labourer) newspaper.

In addition, overseas retail chains have set strict standards that exporters must follow if they want to sell goods at their chains.

Dao Ha Trung, chairman of the HCM City High Technology Association, said Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, had asked suppliers to use traceability with blockchain technology to ensure food safety and security.

During a recent project sponsored by the Australian Embassy to help Viet Nam’s build a global brand for its agricultural products, the pilot application of blockchain technology was used to trace Vietnamese dragon fruit exported to Australia. Consumers in Australia could use their smartphones to trace the dragon fruit and access information about growers in Viet Nam.

Nguyen Thu Hang, a representative of the Asia Foundation, said more and more consumers around the world wanted access to the traceability of imported food.

This consumption trend gives Viet Nam’s agricultural products an opportunity to build their brands and expand their markets if products meet these high standards.

Hoang Trung, director of the Plant Protection Department under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), said in the era of Industry 4.0, traceability must also be digitised.

Many markets did not require the use of high technology for traceability but local enterprises must still meet traceability requirements, he said. Therefore, enterprises and producers should start using high technology for traceability.

Vo Quan Huy, director of Huy Long An Co. that specialises in exporting bananas to Japan, said the company had followed the VietGAP production process and standards of importing companies but still logged traceability manually.

The company had received positive feedback on the traceability of its products from Japanese importers, he said, so at present, his company did not need to use technology to trace its products. 

Market Surveillance Agency upgraded to General Department of Market Surveillance

As many as 63 provincial-level market surveillance departments will be established under the newly named General Department of Market Surveillance by October 12.

The restructuring of the market surveillance apparatus was done to improve the fight against trade fraud and trading of fake goods.

Yesterday, 21 markets surveillance sub-departments in southern provinces and cities were recognised by the Ministry of Industry and Trade at a ceremony held in HCM City.

The Prime Minister upgraded the Market Surveillance Agency to the General Department of Market Surveillance.

The department is under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, which acts as an advisory body in market managing and executing the enforcement of the law on the prevention, combat and handling of smuggling, production and trafficking of fake and banned goods or goods with unknown origin; and infringement of intellectual property rights.

Central city urges pre-feasibility study on Liên Chiểu port

Nine-month seafood exports estimated at 6.4 billion USD, Market Surveillance Agency upgraded to General Department of Market Surveillance, Local firms and farmers must meet tracebility requirements in foreign markets

The central city has urged the Ministry of Transport to speed up the pre-feasibility study on the construction of the first stage of Liên Chiểu Port in 2018-19, to be put into operation in 2022.

Chairman of the city People’s Committee, Huỳnh Đức Thơ said the ministry should review the report from Đà Nẵng before submitting the project to the Prime Minister next week.

Thơ said preparations for the first stage of the project will be completed in 2018-19, and construction will commence in 2020.

He said the first stage of construction will focus on infrastructure including piers and dykes to serve logistics, storage and transhipment at the port from 2022.

Liên Chiểu Port is designed to handle 3.5 to 5 million tonnes of cargo in the first stage from 2022.

It could allow access to 100,000 deadweight tonnage (DWT) cargo ships and container ships with loading capacities of 8,000 twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEUs) as well as 10,000DTW liquid cargo vessels.

Thơ said the first stage will need funds of VNĐ7.37 trillion (US$326 million), of which $152 million is earmarked for infrastructure, in 2018-22.

“The project is urgent as Tiên Sa Port will be overloaded after 2020, while Đà Nẵng plays as a key role in the central region. Liên Chiểu port would help ease congestion on Ngô Quyền Street and reduce traffic accidents due to the high number of container trucks on the road,” Thơ said.

“Tiên Sa Port has handled 8.4 million tonnes of cargo in 2018, marking 16.2 per cent annual growth. The port also saw a 22.6 per increase in the number of container shipments, and Ngô Quyền is the main route for container trucks,” he said.

According to a report by the city’s traffic police department, the high number of container trucks (making about 1,500 trips each day) on Ngô Quyền Street disrupts tourism transport (coaches, vans and taxis for tourists) from the city centre and airport to beaches on Sơn Trà peninsula.

In the city’s Master Plan 2030-45, Đà Nẵng will develop Liên Chiểu Port into a major cargo port in the central region and the East-West Economic Corridor No 2 (EWEC2) connecting Thailand, Myanmar, Laos and Việt Nam with a total investment of VNĐ32 trillion ($1.45 billion) in three phases.

The deep-sea Liên Chiểu port is eligible for connection with railway and road systems from the EWEC2, the Đà Nẵng-Quảng Ngãi Expressway, expansion of the Hải Vân Tunnel and a new railway station.

A survey from the ministry of transport revealed that Đà Nẵng, which is situated at the end of EWEC, would handle 29 million tonnes of cargo by 2030.   

The central city’s port system including Tiên Sa, Liên Chiểu and Sơn Trà has been planned as the biggest integrated port among six seaports in Việt Nam (Quảng Bình, Quảng Trị, Thừa Thiên-Huế, Kỳ Hà, Dung Quất and Đà Nẵng).

According to Việt Nam’s seaport system development plan to 2020, Đà Nẵng Port has been confirmed as a major commercial port in the region, making it one of the key gateways to the East Sea from the sub-Mekong region. 

Central Highlands provinces urged to expand avocado farming

Nine-month seafood exports estimated at 6.4 billion USD, Market Surveillance Agency upgraded to General Department of Market Surveillance, Local firms and farmers must meet tracebility requirements in foreign markets

Provincial authorities in the Central Highlands should encourage farmers to grow avocado around the year, the Western Highlands Agriculture and Forestry Science Institute has said.

According to the Đắk Nông Department of Agriculture and Rural Development the province has 2,583ha of land under the fruit, and production has surged from 4,253 tonnes last year to 11,164 tonnes this year.

The fruit is mostly consumed fresh, with 80 per cent sold in the local market.

Đắk Lăk Province has 4,308ha under avocado, with the fruit not only sold in the local market but also exported to Cambodia, Thailand, China, the Netherlands, and France.

Under a project to restructure the province’s agriculture, the area under avocado cultivation will be reduced to 4,000ha with advanced farming technology used on 1,000ha by 2020, rising to 6,000ha and 3,000ha in a decade.

Figures from the Lâm Đồng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development show the province has 3,773ha under avocado cultivation.

It also has 35 seedling farms which can produce 323,500 avocado saplings a year, according to the Western Highlands Agriculture and Forestry Science Institute (WASI).

Higher quality

According to WASI, avocado can only grow in certain areas with suitable soil conditions such as Mexico, Indonesia, Central America, and the Central Highlands of Việt Nam.

This means Vietnamese avocado growers have an opportunity to expand their markets.

However, in Việt Nam farmers have a habit of harvesting the fruits before they ripen and sell them through traders, which causes their prices to be volatile.

WASI said the export of avocado had also been difficult because of the lack of close ties between production, preservation and processing, and the slow adoption of processing technologies.

Relevant authorities in avocado growing areas should seek to add value to the fruits by encouraging the use of advanced technologies to process them into oil, flour, cream, and cosmetics, it said.

It also called on them to introduce avocado varieties with high yields that fruit around the year.

Provinces with soil suitable for avocado should establish specific zones which can produce various kinds of avocado for the local market and for exports, it said.

Advanced farming technologies should be used to produce high-quality fruits, it added.

Nine-month seafood exports estimated at 6.4 billion USD

Seafood export value in the first nine month of the year was estimated at 6.4 billion USD, a year-on-year increase of 7.2 percent, according to the Department of Farm Produce Processing and Market Development under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD).

The US, Japan, China, and the Republic of Korea remained the four largest seafood importers of Vietnam, accounting for 54.1 percent of the total value. Meanwhile, strong increase was seen in the seafood shipments to the Netherlands (28.2 percent), Hong Kong (23.6 percent) and the UK (19.9 percent).

During January-September, Vietnam spent 1.26 billion USD purchasing seafood from foreign countries, up 21.3 percent from the same time last year.

The department also gave positive outlook for seafood exports in the end of the year as the US Department of Commerce (DoC) decided to lower anti-dumping duties on the imports of Vietnamese shrimp and tra fish.

Last month, the DoC announced the final results of the 12th Period of Review (POR12), lowering the anti-dumping tariff on shrimp imports from Vietnam to 4.58 percent. The final rate is much lower than the preliminary rate of 25.39 percent, first announced by the DoC on March 8.

Also, the US reduced anti-dumping duty on Vietnamese tra and basa (pangasius) fish under its preliminary conclusion of the 14th period of review (POR14). The new duty is 2.39 USD per kilogramme as compared to 3.87 USD per kilogramme in the previous review.

The US Office of the Federal Register published proposed rules on its website, listing Vietnam, China and Thailand as three foreigners qualified to ship catfish to the American country. The proposed rules announced the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) under the US Department of Agriculture’s determination that catfish inspection systems of the countries be equivalent to those in the US. The proposals are open for public comment for 30 days. However, further inspections will be carried out for Thai and Chinese systems. 

In addition, demands for shrimp and tra fish are forecast to advance by leaps and bounds in the end of the year. Vietnam will gain competitive edge over its competitors-Thailand and India whose shrimp productivity is on the decline.

The MARD has ordered the seafood sector to channel focus to remove “yellow card” to bolster exports to the EU market, instruct localities to enhance fishing management, inspect efforts to fight illegal fishing, and direct shrimp and tra fish production in the Mekong Delta region.

Nine-month seafood exports estimated at 6.4 billion USD, Market Surveillance Agency upgraded to General Department of Market Surveillance, Local firms and farmers must meet tracebility requirements in foreign markets
 
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