Singaporean enterprises seek opportunities in Vietnam

A Singaporean mission of nearly 20 firms will visit Vietnam from October 15 to 19 to sound out cooperation prospects. The trip is jointly held by the Vietnam Trade Office in Singapore, the Malaysia-Singapore Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Singapore Business Federation.

According to the organizers, the Singaporean delegation includes representatives of large corporations, such as Sembcorp, which has developed seven Vietnam-Singapore industrial park projects in Vietnam, and NTUC, the retailer accounting for more than half of Singapore’s market share.

Besides visits to corporations and industrial parks in Vietnam, there will be trade promotion meetings in HCMC and Can Tho City so that enterprises of the two countries can seek partners and export goods.

Representatives of the South Agency of the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the HCMC Department of Industry and Trade and the Vietnam Trade Office in Singapore will also participate in these meetings. A representative of the Export-Import Department under the Ministry of Industry and Trade will discuss Vietnam’s export strengths and new trade policies, while a representative of the HCMC Department of Industry and Trade will introduce investment opportunities in the city.

Nearly 70% Vietnam's SMEs see revenue improvements in 2018

Sino-American trade war can help boost Vietnam's agro-aqua-forestry exports,Da Nang to call investors from Russia at St. Petersburg Economic Forum,Stocks rally due to trade war aid,VNA inks deal with Thales to offer AVANT IFE services

Vietnam`s overall prospect for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) appears positive as the government continues to overhaul the business regulatory system.

Vietnam's SMEs have an optimistic business outlook, with over 67% of survey respondents anticipating revenue growth and 34% projecting a double-digit expansion in revenue, according to a report by EY, United Overseas Bank (UOB) and Dun & Bradstreet (D&B).  

This positive outlook is due to robust domestic demand and increased trade opportunities from the new bilateral FTA with the European Union. Such developments, alongside Vietnam's labor cost competitiveness and proximity to the Chinese production chains, make it a premier location for SMEs to set up manufacturing hubs, stated the report.

Additionally, the government's effort in overhauling the business regulatory system is considered an important factor. Initiatives such as simplifying business procedures, enhancing national competitiveness, improving transparency and trimming corporate taxes will create a more conducive environment that will help facilitate greater internationalization and trade growth for SMEs. 

In ASEAN, SMEs are often the largest source of local employment across all economic sectors. In case of Vietnam, SMEs account for nearly 99% of all registered businesses and employ more than 70% of the workforce.

According to the report, SMEs in Vietnam are facing numerous challenges, including shortage of suitable challenges, business funding cost, and manpower cost, among others. 

Talent scarcity is more prevalent in emerging nations where enrolment in tertiary education and vocational training remains relatively lower and employers must groom new hires to counter skills shortages. For instance, SMEs in Vietnam ranked this concern a 4.5 out of 5, much higher than the regional average of 3.5 out of 5. 

In response to these challenges, SMEs are changing to be leaner, more effective organizations, gaining productivity improvements by harnessing digital technology or upskilling their workforce. Given productivity levels at some SMEs can be as low as 20% when compared with large corporations, narrowing this gap is critical to remain competitive. 
Given the limited resources that most SMEs have, governments can support their automation efforts by partially subsidizing salaries or providing training to improve their digital readiness and capabilities. 

Specifically, 58.6% of respondents are keen to invest in technologies instead of traditional investment options such as factory, machinery and equipment. Of which, 71.4% would target improvements in software and services, followed by ICT hardware and network with 63.9%. 

Additionally, 86% of respondents consider technologies as key solution to manage cost efficiently, which was higher than to reduce overall cost (81%) or in search of other suppliers (78%).

With a globally competitive manufacturing sector integrated into regional supply chains, Vietnam is expected to be one of the top five emerging logistics markets in the medium term. 

Other than agriculture which is vulnerable to climatic uncertainties, the near-term outlook for all other sectors is positive. Manufacturing production will be boosted by continued opening of new foreign invested factories. 

Construction will continue to benefit from high FDI disbursements to set up new factories, a strengthening housing sector and continued high transport and energy infrastructure investments.

Growth in services is projected to remain strong with tourist arrivals boosted by the new e-marketing campaign launched by the government, according to the report.

Japan-invested refinery risks cancellation as Vietnam partner pulls out

Oversupply concerns, slow increase in gasoline demand, and financial constraints seem to be factors behind the Vietnamese partner`s withdrawal.

Japanese giant JXTG Nippon Oil & Energy's plan to build an oil refinery in south central Vietnam is on the edge of cancellation, as its Vietnamese partner, Petrolimex, is seeking to exit amid oversupply concerns.

State-controlled Petrolimex, which stands for Vietnam National Petroleum Group, last week asked for the Vietnamese government’s permission to back out of the Nam Van Phong refinery project in Khanh Hoa Province, citing funds are needed to finance other major projects.
“We are awaiting a response from Petrolimex” about the situation, a JXTG spokesperson was quoted by Nikkei Asian Review as saying. “But we plan to keep the project on the table as an option.”
A 200,000-barrel-per-day refinery, the second of its kind in Vietnam, recently came into operation, and lackluster new-car sales and the resulting slow increase in gasoline demand are also contributing to fears of an oversupply of oil products.

The project received a green light from the government in early 2008 under the Vietnamese company's initiative. It was to be JXTG's first overseas oil refinery construction project, according to Nikkei.

The project, initially estimated to cost a total of $4.4 billion to $4.8 billion, was to build a refinery with an annual production capacity of a combined 10 million tons of liquefied petroleum gas, gasoline, kerosene and diesel.

JXTG Nippon Oil & Energy and Petrolimex signed a memorandum of understanding on the project in 2014. In 2016, the Japanese company purchased an 8% stake in Petrolimex for about $175 million.

Petrolimex, which now controls around a half of the country's gasoline retail market, has craved a refinery of its own. The funding and technological fronts from JXTG, a JX Holdings unit eager to expand abroad amid shrinking demand back home were hoped to make the partnership a successful.

Vietnam's two existing oil refineries, Dung Quat in Quang Ngai province and Nghi Son in Thanh Hoa province, were built with the help of tax breaks from the government.

Petrolimex apparently could not secure enough such support, in what some view as a key factor in the decision to call off the JXTG project, Nikkei said.

In addition, concerns over oversupply are seen as a factor in the government's reluctance to offer aid. If Nghi Son Refinery boosts production, about 90% of domestic gasoline demand could be supplied by the country's two refineries, according to local media reports.

At a meeting last week, Deputy Minister of Finance Do Hoang Anh Tuan backed Petrolimex’s plan to withdraw from the project. Meanwhile, Vice Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyen Van Hieu said there was no longer rush to build a third oil refinery like before with the two now operational, Thanh Nien newspaper reported.

Transparency for Cai Lay Tollgate is a must: expert

Discussing the controversial Cai Lay Tollgate in the Mekong Delta province of Tien Giang, an expert has noted that if an extra tollgate is built on the bypass alongside the current one on National Highway 1A to collect toll fees, it is vital to publish the relevant information in a transparent manner.

The operator of Cai Lay Tollgate, National Highway No.1 Tien Giang Investment Co., Ltd, built a 12-kilometer road bypassing Cai Lay Town and gave a facelift to a 26.5-kilometer section of National Highway 1, which runs through Cai Lay Town in Tien Giang, under the build-operate-transfer format.

The company set up a tollgate on National Highway 1 to recover capital of roughly VND1.7 trillion, but since toll collection started, in August 2017, drivers have staged strong protests, repeatedly paralyzing the tollgate’s operation.

Drivers reasoned that the investor had only built the bypass, so it only had the right to collect tolls on vehicles that use this road section. They considered it unreasonable to charge vehicles running elsewhere on National Highway 1A and found the toll fee too high, as it is almost the same as the fee for using the 40-kilometer HCMC-Trung Luong Expressway.

In December 2017, following more protests, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc ordered the suspension of the tollgate operation and called on the transport ministry to seek solutions.

Deputy Minister of Transport Nguyen Ngoc Dong stated at a Government press conference on Monday that his ministry was weighing the pros and cons of two solutions.

The first solution is to keep the tollgate at the current site and offer special discounts for vehicles with fewer than 12 seats, trucks weighing less than two tons and commuter buses, with a fee reduction from VND35,000 to VND15,000 per trip.

The second solution is to build another tollgate on the bypass alongside the current one on National Highway 1A. The current fares will be applied to both tollgates.

These two solutions include fare reductions and exemptions for households living within 10 kilometers of the tollgate.

Following a recent meeting with the People’s Committee of Tien Giang, the local government was in favor of the second option to ensure more fairness, according to Deputy Minister Dong.

He said that the ministry will continue to improve these options and further assesses their effects, as well as work with the relevant agencies such as the Ministries of Public Security and Information and Communications to have the final solution based on the instructions of the Prime Minister.

A transport expert, who prefers to remain anonymous, told The Saigon Times that the main issue is to make relevant information available to the public.

He pointed out that investment capital should be made public for all construction work, including the construction of the new bypass and the facelift of the national highway. Besides this, the Directorate for Roads of Vietnam should present solutions to update data on the number of vehicles travelling through the two tollgates.

These steps will act as the basis for determining capital recovery and the toll collection period at each tollgate.

Nguyen Van Phuong, a truck driver transporting goods between the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho and HCMC, echoed the same views as the expert. He noted that the second option could be optimal. “It is necessary to publicize information on investment capital for each construction component and traffic circulation volume,” he said.

VNA inks deal with Thales to offer AVANT IFE services

The national flag carrier, Vietnam Airlines (VNA), has signed an agreement with Thales Group, headquartered in France, to equip the carrier’s new Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner fleet with AVANT inflight entertainment (IFE) systems.

Thales Group is a multinational firm that designs and builds electrical systems and offers services for the aerospace, transportation and security markets.

AVANT features a customized passenger experience with a wide range of applications. With its lightweight design, Thales’ high-performing IFE solution allows VNA’s passengers to experience a wide choice of entertainment activities during their flight. The onboard entertainment services comprise numerous television series, the most recent feature films, music and games.

The agreement reportedly helps expand the existing partnership between the Vietnamese carrier and Thales. Earlier, the airline had chosen Thales’ AVANT IFE system for its A350-900 XWB and B787-9 aircraft.

Thales also provides turnkey maintenance services on these aircraft in collaboration with Vietnam Airlines Engineering Company, which is a subsidiary of VNA. Thales’ turnkey maintenance program ensures the provision of outstanding services across the airline’s fleet, enabling VNA to focus on its core business activities.

Nicolas Bernardin, country director at Thales Vietnam, stated that Thales had entered the country nearly 30 years ago, providing advanced technology for multiple sectors. The agreement will strengthen the partnership between the two parties, he said, adding that the French firm has contributed to supporting VNA in providing a remarkable onboard experience to its global passengers with AVANT IFE and aircraft maintenance services.

The national carrier currently operates air routes connecting 50 destinations across 17 countries and regions. It was recognized as a four-star airline for three consecutive years by the UK-based international air transport rating organization, SKYTRAX.

As for Thales, its manpower includes 65,000 employees in 56 countries, providing advanced technology solutions to a large number of customers around the world and reporting sales of EUR15.8 billion, equivalent to some US$18.2 billion, last year.

Hong Kong FTA to boost investment

Vietnam is expected to become a haven for investors from Hong Kong once the ASEAN-Hong Kong Free Trade Agreement comes into force next year.

Paul Chan, financial secretary of the government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), said, “Hong Kong and the 10 member states of the ASEAN – including Vietnam – signed a free trade agreement (AHKFTA) and a related investment agreement last November. The agreements, taking effect in January, will undoubtedly boost trade and investment ties between Hong Kong, Vietnam, and the other nations of the region.”

Hong Kong and Vietnam enjoy good and long-standing economic relations and the ties have only grown stronger. In 2017, Vietnam was Hong Kong’s 10th largest trading partner, while Hong Kong was Vietnam’s ninth largest trading partner. Bilateral trade in goods reached $18.1 billion during the year, making Vietnam Hong Kong’s fourth largest trading partner among the ASEAN economies.

According to the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC), the AHKFTA will bring about legal certainty and better market access for trade in goods and services for both parties. The agreement will improve mutual investment protection between Hong Kong and ASEAN member states. It will not only enhance trade and investment flows between Hong Kong and the ASEAN, but also facilitate business opportunities for service providers.

Concerning trade in goods, ASEAN member states have agreed to reduce the customs duties for goods originating from Hong Kong. Different economies may have different commitments, though. Vietnam, for example, will reduce its tariffs by 75 per cent over the next 10 years and another 10 per cent over the subsequent 14 years.

Except for a few types of goods, such as tobacco, petroleum, and certain food items (including dairy products, agricultural products, and fishery and aquaculture products), imports of Hong Kong-made products to Vietnam will be tariff-free upon full implementation of the agreement.

From January 2019, Hong Kong-produced merchandise is expected to have better access to ASEAN markets, including trade in goods and services. Hong Kong and ASEAN economies will be able to eradicate the barriers for service providers who enter the market, as well as encourage more trade exchange.

Speaking at the In Style Hong Kong Symposium organised two weeks ago in Ho Chi Minh City, Jonathan Choi, chairman of Sunwah Group, said that more investors from Hong Kong are exploring the possibility of coming to the ASEAN. Vietnam is emerging as a good place for investors from Hong Kong, as the country stands to gain from a wide range of FTAs, including the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership and the AHKFTA.

More importantly, Vietnam is one of the more politically stable countries in the region. The country has a large population, most of which is young and well educated. It has a large consumption market with a rising middle class and growing consumerism.

Choi stressed that there is a good chance for Hong Kong’s companies to invest in Vietnam and tap into the domestic market. Hong Kong-based GR International, for example, used the Circle K brand to join the local market.

According to Wallace Lam, managing director and co-head of global banking at HSBC Hong Kong, Hong Kong is consistently listed as one of the markets and territories with the highest foreign direct investment in Vietnam. In 2017, investors from Hong Kong invested nearly $18 billion across 1,000 projects in Vietnam, and there will be more room for growth following the implementation of the AHKFTA.

Lam further noted that a number of entrepreneurs from Hong Kong with factories in China seem very alert to developments in the trade tensions between the US and China. They think of moving some of their manufacturing capability from China to other countries in the Southeast Asian region, including Vietnam, Malaysia, and Thailand.

Hong Kong textile manufacturer Esquel Group came to Vietnam in 2001. John Cheh, vice chairman and CEO of Esquel Group, said that this timing was opportune for the group to profit from the meteoric rise of the Vietnamese textile and apparel industry. In 2005, Vietnamese-made products accounted for a mere 4 per cent of the US textile and apparel market. Currently, Vietnam is the second-largest supplier of textiles and apparel to the US market, trailing only China.

To stay ahead of the development curve, Esquel Group has developed four factories in Vietnam. It is also mulling over opening its own apparel stores in Vietnam to target the country’s growing purchasing power.

The wave of foreign capital inflows from Hong Kong is expected to increase in other fields as well, including professional services, fintech, urban infrastructure, and creative industries.

On September 20-21, over 130 companies from Hong Kong gathered at the In Style Hong Kong Expo trade event held by the HKTDC in Ho Chi Minh City. The expo showcased Hong Kong’s leading branded and designer lifestyle products with a view to connecting with importers, distributors, retailers, department stores, and specialised shops in Vietnam and neighbouring ASEAN economies.

Stocks rally due to trade war aid

As trade tensions between the US and China worsen, Vietnam’s textile and aquaculture stocks are rallying thanks to their strong business prospects. However, challenges may still arise due to protectionist sentiments.

As the dark clouds clear on Vietnam’s stock market, discussion now turns to stocks that can benefit from the US-China trade war. Most investors seem to think that companies in the garment and textile sector will see the biggest opportunities, as evidenced by the recent bull run of their stock price.

For example, TNG Investment and Trading JSC’s revenue has risen by 51.72 per cent in September alone. The company expects 2018 revenue to jump 140 per cent from its original target thanks to new orders from the US.

Similarly, stocks of Century Synthetic Fiber Corporation (CSFC) have gone up by 33 per cent this month. Chairman Dang Trieu Hoa told VIR that the US is now seeking new import sources of polyester filament, and CSFC is confident that it can meet US quality standards. “This kind of yarn has a very good profit margin, so we’re working closely with partners to push our exports to the US,” said Hoa.

Other listed companies, such as Thanh Cong Textile and Garment Company, Mirae JSC, and Saigon Garmex Manufacturing Trade Company, are also delighted to be receiving new orders from the US. There is a general expectation that, to avoid tariffs, US clothing brands will diversify their supply chains and switch to Vietnam, bringing new business opportunities to the country.

“A notable US garment brand is moving its assembly line to Vietnam, and Mirae is now its official exporter. Our revenue from US customers has skyrocketed from VND165 million ($7,300) in 2016 to VND25 billion ($1.1 million) in 2017,” said Kim Chul Soo, deputy president of Mirae JSC.

Meanwhile, aquaculture businesses are also poised for strong growth. A business with great potential is Minh Phu Corporation, Vietnam’s number-one prawn exporter. Last week, its stock price hit a historic high at VND51,000 ($2.25), following a month-long bull run. Minh Phu is expected to push its exports to the US. The company also has an opportunity to increase its trade with China, which is the fourth-largest importer of Vietnamese prawn products.

Tran Hai Yen, analyst at Bao Viet Securities, wrote in a recent report that Vietnam’s catfish producers such as Hung Vuong Group, Vinh Hoan Corporation, and Nam Viet Corporation are likely to push their exports to both major economies.

Most investors are placing their biggest bets on Vinh Hoan Corporation, Vietnam’s leading catfish exporter to the US. The firm’s stock reached an all-time high of VND97,000 ($4.29) last week, after rallying by 33 per cent throughout September. When asked about the trade war, Vinh Hoan said it is switching to high-value products besides catfish and tilapia, aiming to enter a new market segment in the US.

However, despite their general optimism about Vietnam’s textile and aquaculture stocks, some concerns have been raised.

The Vietnam Cotton and Spinning Association (VCOSA), for example, is quite reserved about the positive impact of the US-China trade tensions on Vietnam’s garment and t extile industry.

According to the VCOSA, it remains to be seen how the US will impose tariffs on Chinese garment and textile products. Most Vietnamese manufacturers import their materials from China, so the tariff risk may still be a problem if the US proceeds tax all products made with Chinese materials. Moreover, if Chinese manufacturers set up garment factories in Vietnam to avoid the tariffs, they will be able to compete against Vietnamese garment producers.

Industry insiders are also concerned that Chinese manufacturers may export their products to Vietnam purely to export again to the US with a made-in-Vietnam tag. This may mean more competition for Vietnamese products.

Similarly, the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers also noted that both China and the US may impose stricter technical barriers on Vietnamese seafood products, due to higher protectionist sentiments in both countries.

Hoan My Medical issues fixed rate bonds

Standard Chartered Bank Vietnam announced on October 8 a placement for Hoan My Medical Corporation to inaugurate $100-million dual-tranche fixed rate bonds. The issuance was guaranteed by Credit Guarantee and Investment Facility (CGIF), a trust fund of the Asian Development Bank rated AA internationally by S&P.

Hoan My is the leading and largest private hospital network in Vietnam by number of hospitals and operating beds. With 14 hospitals and six clinics, it serves more than 3 million patients annually, providing affordable, high-quality healthcare to the people of Vietnam.

SCB Vietnam’s expertise in local currency bond origination in Vietnam has enabled Hoan My to achieve its objectives of a dual-tranche issuance, locking in fixed-rate long-term funding at competitive yields. This is the fifth time SCB Vietnam has acted as the Bond Issuance Agent for a guaranteed VND-denominated corporate bond issue.

“We are delighted to partner with CGIF on the first bond issuance out of the healthcare industry in Vietnam,” said Mr. Huynh Le Duc, CEO of Hoan My. “This issuance enables us to tap into capital markets for fixed-rate long-term funding, which better suits the nature of our business. This will allow us to grow and invest in our healthcare services across Vietnam and further our mission of helping more people to live healthier and more prosperous lives.”

“We are pleased to arrange the first healthcare bond for the healthcare industry in Vietnam, for Hoan My,” said Mr. Nirukt Sapru, CEO Vietnam and ASEAN & South Asia Cluster Markets at Standard Chartered Bank. “We have achieved this bond issuance with the support of CGIF, a trusted partner in Vietnam. We are honored to be able to play a part in the growth of the local capital market, which offers an alternative avenue of funding for both listed and private companies in Vietnam.”

“We are grateful to anchor another successful landmark bond issuance this year in Vietnam, and even more delighted this time as we have not only successfully mobilized savings to match the funding requirements of a first-time issuer, but also introduced a first-time issuer from a private and unlisted group in Vietnam to the capital markets,” said Mr. Kiyoshi Nishimura, CEO of CGIF.

“The success of this first healthcare bond is a reflection that the VND bond markets is ready and can play an important role in funding private healthcare businesses towards better accessibility, quality and affordable healthcare services for the Vietnamese people.”

Food Empire launches the campaign 'Café PHO - Stir up the love for Vietnam'

Food Empire Vietnam Co., Ltd - a member of Singapore-based Food Empire Holdings Group celebrates the five-year journey of Café PHO brand and officially launches the “Café PHO -Stir up the love for Vietnam” campaign to spread out the pride and love for the country as well as the national cultural values in the community, especially the young generation.  

Café PHO was launched in the Vietnam market in 2013 - the launch has been a result of Food Empire Vietnam’s comprehensive understanding of the culture, the habit of drinking coffee and local taste in Vietnam, as well as the desire to connect with the Vietnamese consumers.

With the strong and harmonious coffee taste, similar to the Vietnamese traditional filter iced milk coffee and a relatable and close name, Café PHO has quickly gained love from consumers. After five years in the market, the solid and continuous growth of Café PHO has exceeded the company’s expectation And Café PHO now is in Top 5 leading brands in the instant coffee category with approximately 10-per-cent market share in terms of volume, according to Nielsen Retail Audit Tracking as of June 2018. Until now, the brand has been proudly serving more than one billion cups of Café PHO to Vietnamese consumers all over the country.

Sudeep Nair, group CEO of Food Empire Holdings Group, said: “MacCoffee is the key brand of Food Empire globally and MacCoffee - Café PHO is one of our most successful brands in Vietnam. The success of Café PHO comes from the commitment to serious and long-term investment of the company, especially in R&D to produce the quality products and to obtain deep understanding of the cultural values and local consumer’s insights. The significant growth after five years joining the market indicates consumers’ trust to our brand and products, and Café PHO has become an essential part in the daily life of Vietnamese. We are proud to be able to bring the quality, right taste products as well as unique and distinctive experiences to Vietnamese consumers."

Moving forward from the milestone of the five-year anniversary, Food Empire Vietnam commits to investing more in the Vietnam market. It is not only about improving the product quality, developing the widespread distribution system, but also creating innovative engaging activities to enhance “Fun as Street” spirit for Vietnamese consumers. Accordingly, Food Empire Vietnam officially launches the campaign “Café PHO - Stir up the love for Vietnam” with three main themes: Stir up the love for Vietnamese beaches; Stir up the love for Vietnamese Tet and Stir up the love for the Gong culture.

“Vietnam is a very beautiful country and rich in cultural values. We respect that each of Vietnamese consumers is proud of their homeland and loves it so much. By deploying the campaign “Stir up the love for Vietnam”, we want to become a catalyst to help spread out such further and deeper love and pride to, once again, stir up the love for Vietnam, just as how Café PHO has stirred up a fun of enjoying coffee in Vietnamese consumers over the past five years”, Sudeep Nair once again shared the concept of launching this campaign," he added.

In this event celebrating the five-year journey of Café PHO, Food Empire Vietnam officially introduces Miss Universe H’Hen Nie as the Goodwill Ambassador for the campaign “Café PHO -Stir up the love for Vietnam”. Born and grown up in the mountainous Western Highland, home of the Gong culture and the vast coffee forests and embodied within herself the passion to make more contributions to the community, Food Empire Vietnam believes she is the ever rightest choice who able to stir up the love for Vietnam with Café PHO with impact and impression.

“I feel very proud of being selected and excited to become the Goodwill Ambassador for the campaign “Café PHO -Stir up the love for Vietnam”. I do hope through the meaningful activities of this campaign, we can really enhance the love and pride for the beauty and cultural values of Vietnam, from a very simple and familiar thing as a morning cup of coffee,” Miss H’Hen Nie said.

After the press conference and announcement of the Goodwill Ambassador, the campaign “Café PHO -Stir up the love for Vietnam” will be followed by the ever biggest and most impressive event “Café PHO -Stir up the love for Vietnam”. The aim of this event is to bring out the unique and amazing experiences for young people and families when it is the first time ever, there will be an artificial tropical PHO island in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City and various exciting activities during the day and a music concert with the participation of top singers in Vietnam in the evening. The event will be held for two days, October 13 and 14 at Quan Khu 7 Stadium.

Founded in 2004, Food Empire Viet Nam is one of the first companies to bring instant coffee culture to Vietnam with two product lines MacCoffee 3 in 1 Strong and MacCoffee 3 in 1 Classic. In addition, Food Empire also brings to Vietnam consumer convenient and nutritious products such as MacCereal instant nutritious cereal, instant chocolate drink MacChocolate. In 2005, Food Empire built a factory in Binh Duong province, beginning the conquest of Vietnamese consumers.

Food Empire Vietnam belongs to Food Empire Holdings Limited, a global branding and manufacturing company in the food and beverage sector. Its products include instant beverage products, frozen convenience food, confectionery and snack food.

Food Empire’s products are exported to over 50 countries such as Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Central Asia, China, Indochina, the Middle East, Mongolia and the US. The group has 24 offices (representative and liaison) worldwide and operates eight manufacturing facilities in Malaysia, India, Vietnam, Myanmar, Russia and Ukraine.

Da Nang to call investors from Russia at St. Petersburg Economic Forum     

The central city of Da Nang will participate in the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum 2019 on June 6-8 as a chance to call for more investment from Russia as well as showing off potential of the coastal central local.

Chairman of the city’s People’s Committee Huynh Duc Tho said in a recent meeting with Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Viet Nam Konstantin V. Vnukov that the city would promote projects in the fields of hi-tech industries, sea port development, hi-tech farming, tourism property, information technology, healthcare service and supporting industries to Russian investors.

Thơ said it would be a chance for Da Nang to highlight its investment incentives and listen to the requirements of Russian enterprises looking to invest in Da Nang.

The Russian ambassador said he hoped the participation of Da Nang at the forum would help boost investment chances for businesses from Russia and the city.

He said investment and trade between Da Nang and locals from Russia has yet promoted.

The St. Petersburg International Economic Forum serves as a platform for the discussion of key issues in the world economy, regional integration, and the development of new industrial and technological sectors, as well as of the global challenges facing Russia and other nations.

As plan, Russia and Da Nang would eye priorities for promotion programmes with Russian automotive manufacturer Gorkovsky Avtomobilny Zavod (GAZ) for establishment a joint venture to distribute its products in the Vietnamese market, and Anex Tour company in boosting tourism service.

Consulate General of the Russian Federation in Da Nang, Andrey P Brovarets said lack of information about investment projects and few exchanges among businesses are seen as hurdles that limit investment and trading between Russia and the central region, and projects from Russia were rarely seen in the region.

Meanwhile, businesses from Viet Nam and the central region have very little information about the investment potential in Russia, especially the Far East region.

He said businesses from Viet Nam and the central region can invest in production and processing projects in the region for exporting goods to western Russia as Vladivostok port would be a free-tax zone.

In 2015, the Chambers of Commerce and Industry from Russia’s Union Primorye and Da Nang signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on trade, investment, export and tourism. However, cargo shipment between the city’s port and Vladivostok Port in Russia had remained poor for years

Budget airline Vietjet Air had been planning to open air routes between Vladivostok in Russia and a number of Vietnamese regions such as HCM City, Nha Trang, Hue, Phu Quoc and Da Nang.

Infrastructure conference to be held in HCMC

Large Infrastructure Project Conference 2018, themed, “Build for Life,” the first international conference on infrastructure development and trends, will take place at the Sheraton Saigon Hotel in HCMC on October 11.

The conference is aimed at creating a prestigious annual forum for leaders to connect, exchange, inspire and discuss opportunities and challenges in constructing infrastructure in the future.

The organizer said that some 200 local and international business leaders, government officials, developers, construction firms, consultants, architects and associations will join the conference.

The event will also focus on raising awareness of sustainable trends and solutions to meet Vietnam’s infrastructure demand.

In addition to a series of topics to be discussed at the event, such as “Economy Outlook: Vietnam’s performance in the next 10 years,” “The Future of Global Engineering” and “Smart City – Future Trends in Building, Mobility and Energy,” the conference will also offer more chances for participants to meet with experts in the fields of infrastructure: high-rise buildings; roads and bridges; ports, water treatment, energy and metros; and underground infrastructure.

Large Infrastructure Project Conference 2018 will be organized by INSEE Vietnam, formerly Holcim, an affiliate of Jardines, in partnership with SIKA, the British Business Association, the HK Business Association and the Green Building Council of Vietnam.

Sino-American trade war can help boost Vietnam's agro-aqua-forestry exports

The trade war between the United States and China will likely open up opportunities for Vietnam to export agro-aqua-forestry products to these two markets. However, the growing trade conflict may also lead to rampant imports of commodities into Vietnam, causing domestic goods to face stiffer competition.

Addressing a press conference on September 28, Nguyen Quoc Toan, acting head of the Agro Processing and Market Development Authority (Agro Trade Vietnam), under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, said the trade war would have both positive and negative effects on local trade.

As for the upsides, the trade war will likely buoy the local exports of agro-aqua-forestry goods to the two markets, particularly key aquatic products such as tra fish, shrimp, tilapia and canned processed items. In addition, exports of these products to the neighboring country may increase. Meanwhile, Vietnam can hike the export volume of lobster and cuttlefish to the United States, replacing China’s processed products.

Apart from that, the trade war will be beneficial for wood products. Vietnam’s wood export turnover to the United States reaches some US$3 billion per year, while that of China to the United States annually exceeds US$28 billion. Vietnam can still find ways for local products to penetrate foreign markets given the trade war, including bolstering the exports of wooden furniture to the United States, Toan said.

With advantages foreseen from these two markets, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Ha Cong Tuan said that this year’s target to export agro-aqua-forestry products at US$40 billion may be attainable and may even be surpassed. The farm produce export turnover of Vietnam to the United States continues to increase as the two countries have managed to resolve previous problems, Tuan added.

However, the tense trade conflict could have some drawbacks for Vietnam, especially the possibility of trade fraud becoming more rampant. Some Chinese exporters may label their products as “Made in Vietnam” to continue their shipments to the United States, provoking concerns over trade fraud management and product quality, an issue that Agro Trade Vietnam was aware of and had raised with the ministry, according to Toan.

At the conference, delegates also discussed the prospect of Vietnam bolstering fishery shipment stateside given recent changes to tariffs on Vietnamese products.

The U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) on September 10 announced the 12th Period of Administrative Review’s (POR12) final results regarding dumping tariffs on Vietnamese shrimp products at 4.58%. This finalized tariff is much lower than the preliminary figure of 25.39% that DOC issued on March 3 this year. The results are more positive than that of POR11, according to the ministry.

DOC also announced the preliminary results of the POR14 on antidumping duties on tra fish products at US$2.39 per kilogram, which was drastically reduced versus the previous review of US$3.87 per kilogram. The lowering of antidumping tariffs on tra fish and shrimp products by the United States has paved the way for these items to enter the U.S. market in the coming period.

Aside from Vinh Hoan Corporation and Bien Dong Seafood Co., which enjoy a zero tariff rate on catfish exports, four additional catfish exporters are being charged an import duty of US$0.40 per kilo of catfish.

In short, the positive signs seen from the United States and China will encourage Vietnam to achieve the target of agro-aqua-forestry exports during the year, Tuan said.

Hanoi Gift Show 2018 opens

The Hanoi Gift Show 2018 opened on October 17, attracting the participation of hundreds of foreign importers seeking cooperation opportunities with Vietnamese businesses. 

The event features more than 100 new products by domestic and foreign designers, including winners of a handicraft design contest this year. 

With more than 650 stalls by nearly 250 domestic and foreign firms from India, Nepal, Japan, the Republic of Korea and China, the show is expected to lure some 12,000 visitors, including more than 600 importers from the US, Europe, Japan, Australia, Canada and Brazil. 

Within the framework of the event, there will be a seminar on craft villages and handicrafts. 

Up to 40 university students majoring in the English, Japanese, and French languages are present to help domestic firms connect with foreign buyers, according to the organising board. 

The show will last until October 20.

Vietnam firms attend sixth India International Silk Fair

More than 20 Vietnamese enterprises are showcasing their products at the sixth India International Silk Fair, which opened in New Delhi on October 16.

The three-day event allows Vietnamese firms in the garment and textile and interior decoration sectors to seek partners, expand markets and learn about new technology and techniques.

It gathers 120 leading Indian silk producers and 250 foreign businesses from across the world.

Along with showcasing silk and silk blended garments, fabrics, accessories and carpets, the fair is also expected to feature business meetings, a fashion show and workshops.

The organising board expects to welcome about 10,000 visitors during the event.

India is the second largest producer of silk after China and is emerging as a leading exporter. 

Statistics of the Vietnam Customs show that in the first eight months of 2018, two-way trade between Vietnam and India in the garment and textile, cotton, and fabric fields reached 799 million USD, up 35 percent year-on-year. Of the total, Vietnam’s imports of Indian cotton were valued at 343.8 million USD, up 46 percent year-on-year, and the country’s exports of garment and textile products and fabric hit 203 millin USD, up 20 percent against the same period last year.

Singaporean, Vietnamese businesses foster connectivity

A conference on Singapore-Vietnam business connectivity was held in Ho Chi Minh City on October 15, drawing representatives of 12 Singaporean businesses including two groups - Sembcorp and NTUC, which are on a Vietnam trip from October 15-19 to seek trade and investment opportunities.

Addressing the conference, Nguyen Thi Van Nga, deputy director of the Agency for Southern region of the Ministry of Industry and Trade, spoke highly of the close connectivity between Singaporean and Vietnamese businesses, adding that the event offers a chance for them to compare notes and transfer technology in order to improve the quality of services and accelerate investment and trade cooperation.

Ho Si Bao, director of Bapula Chocola Company, said he hopes that after the conference his company can seek partners to distribute chocolate products in the Singaporean market.

Daininal Sani Lim, a representative of the Singapore-Malaysia Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that besides fact-finding tours at industrial groups and parks, the HCM city trade connectivity conference helped participants look for partners and investment opportunities

Bilateral trade and investment ties have developed extensively. Singapore has been one of the biggest trade partners and foreign investors in Vietnam since 1996. Total trade turnover increased by 8.9% to US$8.3 billion in 2017. Vietnam mainly exports computers and components, means of transport and spare parts, material plastics, crude oil and petroleum to Singapore.

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