Construction begins on two solar power plants in Phu Yen

Phu Khanh Solar Power JSC held a groundbreaking ceremony for two solar power plants on the morning of January 8 in the south-central province of Phu Yen.

The project on the Xuan Tho 1 and Xuan Tho 2 solar power plants have been implemented in their communes with a total investment capital of nearly VND1,247 billion and VND1,237 billion, respectively.

Each plant has a designed capacity of over 49.6MW and is expected to generate 76.2 million kWh per year.

Phu Khanh Solar Power JSC, the main investor in the project, and other construction firms said they will strive to put the two solar power plants into operation by June 30, 2019. 

Tran Huu The, vice chairman of Phu Yen province People’s Committee, said construction on the three solar power plants in the locality so far has received a total investment capital of nearly VND8 trillion.

These projects have significantly contributed to ensuring the security of the energy in the province. 

The Xuan Tho 1 and Xuan Tho 2 solar power plants in particular will add fresh impetus to job creation along with adding resources to the local budget.

Phu Yen province has so far granted investment licenses to a total of six solar power plant projects in the locality.

Youngsters lead Vietnam’s startup scene

Vietnam is among the most dynamic startup hubs in the world and well-educated, young entrepreneurs are expected to improve the country’s position on the global startup map.

There are no official statistics on startups in Vietnam, but according to some regional tech sources, as many as 3,000 are operating in the country, making it the third largest startup ecosystem in Asia.

The country jumped 12 places to 47th among 127 economies on the World Intellectual Property Organisation’s 2017 Global Innovation Index, its highest ranking in the past 10 years. In Southeast Asia, it sits behind only Singapore and Malaysia.

This progress is believed to be driven by young entrepreneurs who are tech savvy and well educated.

About 70 percent of the country’s population of more than 90 million is under 35 years old. Thousands of new young innovators, including Vietnamese talents from overseas, are joining the startup community every year.

According to the tech platform ASEAN Post, more than 290 million USD was invested in Vietnamese startups in 2017, double investment levels from the previous year.

Entrepreneurs and investors have bet big on Vietnam’s boom economy, which has risen by an annual average of 6 percent over the past 10 years.

Forum to discuss solutions for Vietnam’s sustainable growth

The Government will cooperate with the Party Central Committee’s Economic Commission to host the Vietnam Economic Forum 2019 (VEF 2019) on January 16-17 in Hanoi.

With the theme “Strengthening the fundamental drivers for rapid and sustainable economic development,” VEF 2019 will discuss financing and governance of infrastructure development, climate change adaptation and energy security for sustainable development. It will also address opportunities and challenges for Vietnam’s digital economy in the context of Industry 4.0.

The forum will review the Vietnamese economy’s development in 2018 and discuss its prospects for 2019. It will include high-level policy dialogue and an exhibition showcase on sustainable energy technology.

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has asked relevant ministries and organisers to prepare carefully for the success of VEF 2019.

VEF 2019, which will be held in the context of escalating US-China economic tensions, Fed tightening policies, demographic challenges, debt dynamics and Industry 4.0, is expected to welcome more than 2,000 participants including policymakers, economists, academics, and representatives of businesses and international organisations.

VEF 2018 was held in January 2018 and attracted more than 1,500 delegates. The first VEF was held in June 2017.

VEF will provide a valuable and timely exchange platform for various stakeholders to discuss visionary initiatives and trends for sustainable economic development as Vietnam transitions towards a more productivity-driven and green growth trajectory to sustain its economic growth.

Trade ministry makes domestic market a focus in 2019

The Ministry of Industry and Trade will focus on developing the domestic market in 2019 with the view to creating a fulcrum for sustainable economic growth besides export, according to an official of the ministry. 

In an interview granted to the Vietnam News Agency on January 8, Director of the MoIT’s Domestic Market Department Tran Duy Dong said 2018 was the first year when total revenue of retail goods and services reached nearly 4,395.7 trillion VND (189.44 billion USD), up 11.7 percent year on year. 

The domestic market was stable last year with no sudden changes in prices thanks to drastic efforts in controlling inflation and market management measures.  

The ministry also worked hard in handling unhealthy competition, managing multi-level marketing and utilised trade remedies to assist with the development of the domestic market. 

However, the official admitted that the demand-supply balance was not sustainable due to the absence of connections among different links in supply chains (producers, distributors, transporters and consumers), resulting in the market’s vulnerability to fluctuations.  

Moreover, competent agencies had difficulties in using tools to stabilize the market in case of sudden changes in supply or demand. 

The domestic market was also affected greatly by abnormal changes in the world market last year. 

To fulfil the goal of an increase of 10.5 – 11 percent in retail growth, Dong said the ministry will soon finalise a strategy on developing the domestic market to 2025 with a vision to 2030, while continuing to review and refine policies and the legal system on commercial infrastructure. 

The ministry plans to boost international cooperation and attract investment from all economic sectors in the development of wholesale markets, and seek ways to bolster trade in rural areas. 

The ministry will coordinate with relevant ministries and agencies in managing the prices of commodities subject to State control and effectively implementing market stabilization programmes, contributing to keeping inflation under 4 percent.

Special attention will be paid to enhancing linkages between production and distribution as well as within value chains.

Dong added that the ministry will push ahead with the plan of actions to carry out the campaign “Vietnamese use Vietnamese goods” in 2019.

Hai Phong sets socio-economic targets for 2019

The Gross Regional Domestic Product (GRDP) of the northern port city of Hai Phong is expected to grow 15.5 percent and its domestic budget collection is projected to exceed 26.3 trillion VND  (1.1 billion USD) in 2019.

The targets were set at a meeting of the municipal People’s Committee on January 8, which also aims for 129.2 million tonnes of cargo to be handled at ports and 47 communes to be recognised as new-style rural areas. 

The city hopes to welcome more than 9 million tourists and attract 1.5 billion USD in foreign direct investment in the year. 

Hai Phong has put forth various solutions to develop the economy in tandem with economic restructuring and growth model reforms, with the private sector a key economic driver. 

The city will also work to ensure an equal business environment, improve the quality of human resources and streamline administrative procedures, heard the meeting.  

In his remarks, Secretary of the municipal Party Committee Le Van Thanh said Hai Phong has been a leading locality in development over the past three years. 

Nguyen Van Tung, Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee, said budget collection and spending is an important task in 2019 and asked agencies to review land use in the city and supervise sectors which underpay taxes, such as transportation, restaurants and hotels.

He also urged agencies and localities to implement plans for the upcoming Lunar New Year (Tet) holidays, with attention paid to taking care of social policy beneficiaries.

Hai Phong’s economic growth has been relatively fast, about 1.68 times higher than the national average. In 2017, the economy expanded 4.27 times from 2003’s figure, per capita GDP reached 3,964 USD, 1.54 times more than the national average and up 5.43 times from 2003.

Breakthroughs have been recorded in the industrial sector as many industrial parks and major projects, such as those of Nomura or Vinfast, have been launched, consolidating Hai Phong’s role as one of Vietnam’s key industrial hubs.

Nearly 488 trillion VND (21 billion USD) of investment was poured into the city by Vietnamese and foreign businesses between 2003 and 2017, up 16.6 percent annually.

Quang Ninh works hard on administration procedure simplification

Doing business in Quang Ninh has become easier in recent years, thanks to local authorities’ efforts to simplify administrative procedures.

The northern coastal province has an automatic customs monitoring system and has digitised many administrative procedures. 

It has simplified procedures related to business registration and construction licensing, reducing time and money for enterprises. 

These efforts have helped reduce time of customs clearance for imported goods to only 24 hours instead of 39 hours as previously. 

Meanwhile, the time for individuals and organisarions to complete procedures to start business is six days, a cut of three quarters of the time compared with regulations in Government Resolution 19. Meanwhile, the time for granting construction permits is no more than 52 days, 68 days less than regulations in Government Resolution 19.

Thanks to the locality’s efforts to cut time spent processing administrative procedures, the locality’s investment environment has improved remarkably. 

In 2018, Quang Ninh granted and adjusted investment licences for 50 projects with total registered capital of more than 23.6 trillion VND (over 1 billion USD).

As many as 67.6 trillion VND was poured into the province in the year, including key infrastructure projects  such as Ha Long - Hai Phong and Ha Long - Van Don expressways, Van Don International Airport,  Hon Gai international port and FLC Ha Long Bay Golf Club and luxury Resort, greatly contributing to the province’s development.

MPI submits development plan     

The Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI) has composed a draft plan for sustainable development of Vietnamese private enterprises by 2030.

As per the draft, MPI plans to improve the quality and operational efficiency of private enterprises, as well as the business environment for enterprises to develop. Viet Nam strives to have at least 1.5 million sustainable businesses throughout the country by 2030.

According to MPI, Viet Nam’s private enterprises will have to narrow the gap in technology level, quality of human resources and competitiveness with the leading group of ASEAN 4.

The ministry will focus on promoting innovation in private enterprises as well as strengthening business links, in order to raise the rate of enterprises participating in regional and global production networks and value chains equal to the leading countries in ASEAN 4 by 2030.

In addition, till 2030, it is expected that growth in the number of workers in the private sector will reach 6-8 per cent and the rate of income improvement of workers in this area must also reach 15 – 20 per cent.

Regarding solutions, MPI proposed ministries, ministerial-level agencies, and local authorities to continue to improve the business investment environment to ensure the maintenance of trust and enhance sustainable business investment of private enterprises.

In addition, enterprises are encouraged to apply sustainable business models, clean production technologies, efficient use of natural resources and environmental protection as well.

In order to implement the sustainable development plan of private enterprises by 2030, ministries, departments and localities should integrate the contents and solutions of sustainable development for private enterprises with national target programmes, projects, and target programmes of related ministries, branches and localities to use resources effectively.

This draft plan will be submitted to the Government and sent to ministries and agencies for comments before approval. 

Mekong Delta aims for high-quality agriculture in 2019     

Localities in the Mekong Delta have set ambitious targets this year with a focus on high-quality agriculture combined with eco-tourism, services and industry.

Last year, though the Delta faced unseasonable weather, flooding and a decline in agricultural product prices, the localities achieved positive socio-economic targets.

Located in a key economic region, with advantages in tourism, aquaculture and rice production, Kien Giang Province, for instance, achieved an economic growth rate of 7.5 per cent last year.

The province’s total Gross Regional Domestic Product (GRDP) reached more than VND62.3 trillion (US$2.68 billion), and budget revenue collection VND9.95 trillion, 7.7 per cent higher than estimated.

Pham Vu Hong, chairman of the Kien Giang People’s Committee, said in 2018 the province created 213 large-scale fields to help farmers apply technology to rice production.

The province produced more than 4.2 million tonnes of rice in 2018. At least 76 per cent of high quality rice was exported, he said. The province’s aquaculture yielded about 815,400 tonnes, exceeding 4 per cent of the plan.

It welcomed over 7.6 million visitors, of which international visitors were 580,000, exceeding 34.8 per cent of the year’s plan, he added.

Nguyen Van Duong, chairman of Dong Thap Provincial People’s Committee, said that export turnover of the province reached a record US$1.2 billion last year, a surge of over 40 per cent compared to the previous year.

The province sent more than 2,000 people to work overseas in Japan and South Korea (the target was 1,000).

The province also focused on smart agricultural production, applying advanced technologies to ensure sustainable agriculture.

In addition, in 2018 Vinh Long Province achieved VND10.593 trillion worth of agricultural production, according to the provincial People’s Committee.

The province’s investment environment improved with 22 new projects with total registered capital of VND5.893 trillion, up by 10 projects over the same period.

The number of tourists to Vinh Long also increased by more than 8 per cent over the previous year.

Tien Giang Province also achieved good results in industry, export, tourism, rice production, and fisheries, among others.

Income per capita in Tien Giang increased to VND47.6 million last year, exceeding the set target, which was higher than the average of the entire Mekong Delta region.

Le Quang Trung, vice chairman of Vinh Long Provincial People’s Committee, said this year Vinh Long planned to improve its growth models by increasing labour productivity and competitiveness.

The province plans to enhance cooperation activities among other localities in the region to develop its trade, service and tourism sectors.

Vinh Long will continue to restructure agriculture with the building of new rural areas, and focus on building value chains for production and promoting major agricultural products.

The Kien Giang Provincial People’s Committee plans to improve the quality of human resources and administrative reforms, promote investment in major transport infrastructure, and develop Phu Quoc island district as a special economic zone and driving force of the province.

Kien Giang will also continue to restructure the agricultural sector with a focus on building new rural areas, and issue more incentives to attract investment in clean and organic agriculture.

The province will enhance investment promotion and recover delayed projects or those that have been implemented slowly.

Kien Giang aims to achieve a growth rate of more than 7.8 per cent, the top figure in the Mekong Delta region.

In addition, Soc Trang will also improve its business environment and promote agricultural development with linkages to value chains, with priorities given to clean rice and aquatic products, use of high technologies, and promotion of tourism and renewable energy.

Soc Trang targets a growth rate of between 7.3 per cent and 7.5 per cent this year, with income per capita of more than VND42 million.

It will continue to reduce the rate of poor households in the Khmer community people to 3 – 4 per cent per year.

Vo Thanh Thong, chairman of Can Tho City People’s Committee, said Can Tho is playing a major role in the Mekong Delta in many fields such as education and training, healthcare, science and technology, industry, trade, services and tourism.

Can Tho will continue to reform its growth model, restructure the economy towards sustainable development, and promote administrative reform, as well as create more favourable conditions for local and foreign enterprises to operate effectively.

Can Tho will also promote a knowledge-based economy.

The Mekong Delta accounts for 12 per cent of the national area and 19 per cent of its population. It contributes 50 per cent of the rice crop, 65 per cent of aquaculture, 70 per cent of fruit, 95 per cent of exported rice and 60 per cent of exported fish. 

Firms more satisfied with customs: survey     

Businesses have been increasingly satisfied when dealing with administrative procedures in export-import activities. However, more reforms are needed to further facilitate firms’ operation, heard attendants at a conference in Ha Noi on Tuesday.

The Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) in collaboration with the General Department of Viet Nam Customs, and the US Agency for International Development conducted the survey as part of a 2018 report on business satisfaction concerning administrative procedures for import and export activities.

The survey included more than 3,000 domestic enterprises, foreign-invested firms and State-owned enterprises, covering aspects such as access to information, customs officers’ services and goods inspections.

“The satisfaction of the business community towards the customs sector has improved in most aspects,” said VCCI’s head of Legal Affairs Department Dau Anh Tuan.

He said that 91 per cent of the surveyed enterprises considered the information provided by customs agencies consistent and 90 per cent reported that the available customs information was easy to find.

The respective figures for 2015 were 77 per cent and 81 per cent.

In addition, the ratio of enterprises reporting difficulties also dropped considerably compared with the findings in 2015.

The report showed that ‘unofficial fees’ which firms sometimes had to pay to customs officers in implementing import-export procedures have reduced sharply. Only 18 per cent of surveyed companies said they had to pay the fees, which was much lower than that of 28 per cent in 2015.

However, up to 70 per cent of the 3,000 import-export firms polled nationwide said they wanted simpler administrative procedures.

According to the report, 56 per cent and 53 per cent of the surveyed firms faced difficulties in looking for information about the procedures and in checking the codes of their submitted documents, respectively.

Some 53 per cent of them suggested relevant agencies increase their application of IT, while 43 per cent asked for boosted customs openness and transparency as well as better performance of public personnel.

Approximately 30 per cent recommended the customs sector improve its infrastructure system.

Tuan said the survey was carried out amid the emerging need of customs reform in line with the Government’s Resolution 19 on improving the business climate and national competitiveness.

It focused on categories of information access, customs administrative procedures, customer service, the national single-window information portal, and unofficial fees, among others.

The survey was conducted as a way to make recommendations to relevant authorities for suitable amendments to legal regulations that could facilitate the business community.

Deputy General Director of Viet Nam Customs, Hoang Viet Cuong, said the sector had been working to implement comprehensive reform toward reinforcing the customs – enterprise partnership and increasing activities that facilitate import and export activities.

The customs authority had conducted numerous surveys to learn of businesses’ difficulties and gather their feedback regarding procedures, he noted, adding that the comments had been turned into proposals to relevant State agencies.

In addition, the customs sector had increased check-ups using modern technology. The General Department of Customs has installed a system of container scanners and cameras, as well as implementing an automatic customs supervision system which helps reduce customs clearance time and the supervision of customs officers.

Navico invests VND4 trillion in aquaculture     

Nam Viet Joint Stock Company started the massive Nam Viet Binh Phu high-tech aquaculture project in An Giang Province’s Chau Phu District on Tuesday.

The project is developed by Navico’s Nam Viet Binh Phu Seafood Co, Ltd on an area of 600 hectares with a total investment of VND4 trillion (US$171.7 million) in the district’s Binh Phu Commune.

It will be the country’s largest-ever tra fish farming project.

The project will have one zone devoted to high-quality fingerlings of tra fish with an investment of VND1 trillion and an annual capacity of 360 million units for the local market.

The other zone will use high-tech applications to rear commercial tra fish with an investment of VND3 trillion and an annual capacity of 200,000 tonnes for export processing.

According to Navico, one of the project’s goals is to complete a sustainable value chain. With this project, Navico will have its own supply meet export processing demand and improve fingerling production. That will help the corporation increase exports in the future.

Doan Toi, Navico chairman, said the company’s total export value is expected to double to between US$250 million and 300 million, including $150 million contributed by the Binh Phu project when it comes into operation.

Fingerling shortages have been a key problem for the domestic tra fish industry, leading to a lack of raw material for export processing. Over the past three years, the lack of raw materials has pushed up the price of tra fish by 66 per cent.

Development of the production chain will help Navico lower production costs and increase the competitiveness of its products.

In 2018, Navico gained VND4.1 trillion in revenue, of which, export value reached $150 million and after-tax profit was more than VND600 billion. Navico’s main export markets are South America, the Middle East, Europe and Asia. 

Nova Buildings acquires BlueScope's key Vietnam assets

The Nova Buildings Group has finalized the acquisition of BlueScope Buildings’ key fabrication assets in Bien Hoa city, southern Dong Nai province.

The plant will serve as Nova Buildings’ key manufacturing hub for the supply of pre-engineered buildings across Southeast Asia.

Thirty kilometers north of Ho Chi Minh City, the plant is scheduled to commence operations shortly, led by key operational team members who formerly managed facilities under BlueScope Buildings.

“Nova Buildings’ management has worked with multinationals and large domestic clients in design, engineering, and completion of thousands of pre-engineered buildings in logistics and distribution, retail hypermarkets, agriculture, food and beverages, and aviation facilities in Southeast Asia,” said Mr. Cheong Ku Wei, CEO of the Nova Buildings Group. “We will continue to provide support to clients looking to further invest and expand in this fast-growing region.”

Nova Buildings was founded by a group of seasoned and experienced managers previously from BlueScope and provides steel, building products, pre-engineered buildings, and multinational construction services in the region.

It is headquartered in Singapore, with local business entities incorporated in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam. These entities, with experienced in-market sales and engineering teams, will work closely with clients to provide competitive and functional pre-engineered buildings integrated with a broad range of quality building products and systems sourced locally with strong domestic after-sales support.

The business is backed by a private equity investment structure comprising major investors from within the region’s construction industry, led by the Singapore-based investment firm the Fintonia Group. “Nova Buildings is supported by several prominent companies in the construction industry,” said Mr. Cheong. “This is affirmation of the founding management team and the synergy with our investors in regional market expansions in the high growth construction industry in Southeast Asia.”

EU & Vietnam partner to promote trade in legal timber

The EU and Vietnam are preparing for the ratification of a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT), which will help improve forest governance, address illegal logging, and promote trade in verified legal timber products from Vietnam to the EU and other markets.

From January 7 to 9, Ms. Heidi Hautala, Vice President of the European Parliament, is paying a working visit to Vietnam to discuss Vietnam’s preparation for the implementation of the VPA.

“This VPA is the second the EU has concluded with an Asian partner, after Indonesia,” she said. “It is a very important building block in the EU’s wider strategy of promoting biodiversity and sustainable development in Asia and fighting illegal logging and associated trade. Vietnam has committed to adopting legislation to ensure only legally-produced timber is imported to its market.”

“A system based on due diligence by importers can be considered a major achievement of the VPA,” she went on. “Vietnam should make all efforts to ensure that due diligence obligations are not reduced to a ‘tick the box’ exercise. Therefore, the European Parliament is following preparatory work regarding the implementation of the VPA with Vietnam. There are also commitments in this area within the framework of the EVFTA [EU - Vietnam Free Trade Agreement]. Proper implementation of the VPA will therefore facilitate fruitful discussions on the EVFTA.”

“The visit by Vice President Hautala at this time is a good opportunity for both sides to strengthen mutual trust and understanding,” said Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Xuan Cuong. “This is also a good chance for Vietnam to affirm the efforts and determination of the government and timber processing and exporting enterprises in fulfilling commitments outlined in the VPA in order to develop a timber processing industry using legal and sustainable timber materials.”

After six years of negotiation, the FLEGT VPA was signed by both the EU and Vietnam on October 19 last year in Brussels. Before it can enter into force, each side is required to complete procedures for its ratification in line with internal procedures. From the EU side, the VPA needs to gain the consent of the European Parliament before it is submitted to the Council of the European Union for approval. From the Vietnam side, the VPA is an international treaty that will be signed on behalf of the government.

Vietnam has approved an Action Plan for the VPA’s implementation, including the development of legal documents and the strengthening of independent monitoring by non-government organizations, industry associations, and relevant stakeholders in the implementation process.

Once the VPA is fully operational, all timber and timber products arriving in the EU from Vietnam will carry a FLEGT license issued by Vietnam. Before the start of this licensing, there will be a period of preparation and assessment to verify that all the commitments outlined in the VPA have met the criteria for operational readiness as set out in a dedicated Annex to the agreement.

The VPA, therefore, is a legally binding commitment to ensure the enforcement of governance and regulatory measures to tackle the problem of illegal logging and at the same time bring credibility as well as economic, social, and environmental benefits.

Facebook & Haravan boost Messenger marketing and chatbots

Businesses that can capture the tendency of automating or personalizing the customer experience will see a difference in digital marketing in 2019. Understanding this, Haravan and Facebook last week coordinated to organize an event to introduce potential trends and a chatbot platform on Facebook Messenger for automated customer care, called Harafunnel.

At the event, Mr. Anand Arivukkarasu, Product Growth Manager at Facebook, spoke of valuable data published for the first time by Facebook as well as the potential of Messenger Ads in digital marketing and e-commerce.

“There are 10 billion messages between customers and businesses every month on Messenger,” he said. “This shows that customers are changing their behavior in approaching products and merchandisers, and merchants and marketers should seize opportunities to create touch points with them.”

Ten leading experts in digital marketing, technology, and e-commerce also shared insights into engagement marketing. They agree that keeping in touch with customers is not simple, and besides creating content that may interest customers, 2019 will also require businesses understand and personalize the user experiences based on data, optimize purchase conversion rates, and automate customer care with chatbots. Understanding and applying these techniques will help merchants and marketers stay abreast of trends in digital marketing and e-commerce.

In Vietnam, Haravan was the first company (on January 5) to provide a chatbot platform and a Facebook Messenger advertising management platform under the name Harafunnel. The platform allows merchants to build a chatbot system that can automatically become a sales assistant and conduct customer care 24/7, while taking advantage of customer data to sell products with low advertising costs.

Furthermore, with the built-in Facebook Messenger advertising management system, Harafunnel also supports businesses to approach the right target audience, helps increase advertising effectiveness, and save on the cost of advertising to the wrong audience. Haravan also recently became the only Official Technology Marketing partner of Facebook in Vietnam.

“Facebook Messenger and the Harafunnel chatbot is a potential marketing method for Vietnamese businesses, especially e-commerce businesses,” said Mr. Huynh Lam Ho, CEO of Haravan. “It helps businesses reach customers directly and easily through mobile phones with friendly and clear messages, helping them create a relationship between brands and customers and thus exploiting the purchases of old customers and loyal customers. Businesses can easily apply this technology despite being large or small, with no need to invest in high-cost resources, and the system is fully automated.”

One year after officially launching the Harafunnel chatbot in Vietnam, Haravan had more than 60,000 Facebook fanpages as at December, with business results beyond expectations. Harafunnel is ready to help online businesses in Vietnam keep pace with trends in engagement marketing and to use chatbots effectively to increase revenue, conduct automated customer care 24/7, and reduce human resources.

With recognition and constructive support from Facebook, Haravan will provide the chatbot platform to the international market this year, starting with Thailand and the Philippines, where e-commerce markets are similar to Vietnam, to realize the dream of bringing Vietnamese technology to the world.

Thai officials explore cooperation opportunities in Thai Nguyen

Thai Ambassador to Vietnam Tanee Sangrat led a delegation of the Thai embassy on a working trip to the northern province of Thai Nguyen on January 8 to enquire about cooperation opportunities between the two sides.  

Tanee was accompanied by representatives from the Thai Foreign Ministry’s International Cooperation Agency (TICA), the Thai Ministry of Interior’s Community Development Department, the Chaipattana Foundation, and Maejo University. 

At a working session with the provincial authorities, a TICA representative introduced a sustainable community development project based on “sufficient economy philosophy” (SEP) by late King Rama IX. 

Initiated in 1927, SEP aims to improve the lives of the poor across Thailand, which has been successfully applied in over 20 countries worldwide, including Laos, Cambodia, East Timor, Sri Lanka, among others. 

SEP is due to be launched in Yen Lac commune in Thai Nguyen province’s Phu Luong district, as it is home to many craft villages. 

Earlier, the delegation paid courtesy calls on provincial leaders and was briefed about the province’s socio-economic development as well as its development potential in the coming time. 

The ambassador pledged to do his best to tighten both Vietnam-Thailand relations and Thailand–Thai Nguyen ties in particular. 

On January 9, the delegation will take a fact-finding trip to Yen Lac commune before launching the project.

HCM City shifts to develop more cost-efficient crops, animals

Ho Chi Minh City’s agricultural sector will concentrate on shifting to crops and animals that can bring greater economic value and improve farmers’ incomes, heard a conference in the city on January 8.

Director of the municipal Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Phuoc Trung said the southern city has announced its list of key plants and animals, including vegetables, flowers, pigs, dairy cows, brackish shrimps, and ornamental fish.

In 2019, the agriculture sector sets to maintain its gross regional domestic product (GRDP) growth at a high level of 6 percent and increase the average production value to 550 million VND (23,712 USD) per hectare, from 502 million VND (21,643 USD) per hectare in 2018.

To realise this target, the city will forge ahead with agricultural restructuring and boost the conversion of low-yield rice, sugarcane, and rubber farming to production of key crops products using high technology and biotechnology, Trung said.

HCM City is striving to expand its area of vegetables certified with Vietnamese Good Agricultural Practices (VietGAP) from 45.5 percent to 60 percent (equivalent to 12,300 hectares), while raising the rate of VietGAP pigs from 45 percent to 47 percent (equivalent to 131,600 heads).

Deputy Director of the municipal Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Tran Ngoc Ho suggested the city needs more new and efficient cooperatives to realise the goals of sustainable agriculture and urban development.

He suggested local authorities put forth more preferential policies to attract young and qualified human resources to improve the management of cooperatives, as well as encourage farmers to join cooperatives.

The official recommended developing processing, promoting trade, and expanding markets to increase the value and competitiveness of farm produce.

Besides, the agriculture sector should accelerate administrative reform and improve the business investment environment in order to draw foreign investment in the production, distribution, and export of agricultural products, he added.

Transmitted power volume rises 11 percent last year

The National Power Transmission Corporation (EVNNPT), a subsidiary of the state-owned Vietnam Electricity (EVN) group, transmitted 184.5 billion kWh of electricity in 2018, up 11.03 percent from the previous year.

The statistics were released by EVNNPT General Director Nguyen Tuan Tung at a meeting in Hanoi on January 8 to review the firm’s performance last year.

He said the corporation has ensured the safe and stable operations of the nationwide transmission system, contributing to EVN’s efforts to supply sufficient power for socio-economic development and people’s daily needs.

Notably, the network’s operation has been substantially improved, with many projects to build and repair transmission facilities having been completed in recent years to address the transmission overload, Tung noted.

However, he also admitted certain problems, elaborating that the overload was still recorded in some areas. The 500kV north-south power lines are currently under strain as they will have to carry a huge power volume to serve the soaring demand in the southern region until 2020 and beyond, which may lead to higher power losses and breakdown risks, Tung said.

Meanwhile, the increase of renewable power plants joining the national grid from this year onwards will also affect the operation of transmission facilities, Tung added.

The General Director said numerous measures will be taken to continue ensuring the safe and stable operations of the transmission system.

EVNNPT has set the target of 203.2 billion kWh of electricity transmitted in 2019, up 10.15 percent from last year.

PV Power to list shares on HoSE

PetroVietnam Power Corporation, a subsidiary of the State-run Vietnam Oil and Gas Group, is tipped to list more than 2.34 billion shares on the Ho Chi Minh City Stock Exchange on January 14.

As many as 2,341,871,600 shares with the code POW will be listed on the southern bourse at a price of VND10,000 (43.79 US cents). In total, this move is expected to gain market capitalisation of over VND23.418 trillion (US$1.02 billion), PetroVietnam Power Corporation (PV Power) stated at a meeting held in Hanoi on January 8.

The listing of PV Power gained the approval of the Ho Chi Minh City Stock Exchange (HoSE) last December. Back in January 2018, PV Power made VND6.99 trillion ($306 million) from selling 468.37 million shares via its initial public offering, equivalent to some 20 per cent of its charter capital.

This year the business plans to execute the feasibility study of liquefied natural gas (LNG) - fired Nhon Trach 3 and Nhon Trach 4 power plants while speeding up negotiations on LNG supply deals, purchase power agreement, and the allocation of capital for the two power stations as scheduled.

The two LNG-fired power plants, with a combined capacity of up to 1,500 MW, were added to the revised national power plan VII following a decision issued by the government last year. The firm has so far finalised the pre-feasibility study of these plants.

PV Power plans to foster its restructuring and divestment from its subsidiaries in conformity with the approved scheme in 2019 while putting a focus on allocating financial resources to carry out the corporation’s growth targets.

The corporation will strive to generate some 21.6 billion kWh throughout 2019, expecting to reap more than VND32.769 trillion (US$1.43 billion) in revenues and VND2.275 trillion (US$99.62 million) in after-tax profits.

Last year, PV Power produced over 21 billion kWh and earned VND33.363 trillion (US$1.46 billion), 6% higher than the figure set for the year. PV Power also raked in VND2.351 trillion (US$102.9 million) in pre-tax profits.

One-stop shop mechanisms decree to ease customs procedures

A pending decree on the implementation of the national and ASEAN one-stop shop customs mechanisms would certainly ease bureaucracy and cut red tape regarding the realization of import and export procedures, according to a customs official.

Hoang Viet Cuong, deputy head of the General Department of Vietnam Customs, made the statement at a workshop releasing a report on the business satisfaction of customs administrative procedures throughout 2018, held in Hanoi on January 8.

The decree was submitted to Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc for approval, Cuong revealed. 

More than 3,000 businesses were asked to rate their satisfaction of customs administrative procedures. Of these, 33% were foreign-invested enterprises.

Dau Anh Tuan, head of the Legal Department under the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), said the implementation of customs procedures in 2018 was leveraged significantly in comparison with 2015.

The access of businesses to customs procedures enjoyed an increase in 2018. Up to 76% of the surveyed businesses were satisfied with their access to the portal of Vietnam Customs while 62% were content with the portal of provincial customs departments.

The survey indicated that customs facilitation in 2018 had improved against 2015. Around 50% of the surveyed companies in 2018 confirmed that check points and customs stations had created favourable conditions for paying taxes when clearing customs whilst the figure stood at only 26% in 2015. 

As many as 25% of the businesses queried found it simple to carry out the customs clearance procedures while the ratio in 2015 was at a low of 10%.

At the workshop, representatives from associations of milk, seafood, and textile production pointed out a number of barriers that are currently hindering imports and exports. Calls were made upon the customs sector as well as other stakeholders to improve current inadequacies for the sake of trade facilitation.

Cuong from the General Department of Vietnam Customs asserted, the customs sector would continue to hasten its administrative reforms aimed at slashing the time for customs clearance and relevant costs.

He noted the sector would scrutinize the criteria for assessing businesses’ adherence to customs regulations and the relocation of check posts and land custom stations with a proximity to manufacturing firms.

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