Can Tho’s export revenue grows 13 percent in Q1

Processing tra fish for export at the Southern Fishery Industries Co. Ltd in Can Tho city

The Mekong Delta city of Can Tho exported 447.8 million USD worth of goods in the first three months of 2019, up 13.32 percent year on year, according to the municipal Department of Industry and Trade.

Aquatic products and rice remained the key foreign currency earners for the city during the first quarter.

Nearly 46,500 tonnes of aquatic products worth 132.57 million USD were shipped abroad, respectively rising by 27.29 percent and 10.78 percent against the same period last year. The biggest markets were Japan, Singapore, Mexico, Brazil, and Hong Kong (China).

Seafood exporting companies said the shipment of shrimp and tra fish products has benefited from many preferential tariffs in other member countries of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) as from March. Therefore, they have been applying for certificates of origin to make use of such preferential treatment under the CPTPP, and they predict the aquatic export volume and value will rise sharply in Q2.

Meanwhile, local businesses earned 88.6 million USD from exporting nearly 200,000 tonnes of rice during Q1, up 13.68 percent and 9 percent respectively. A majority of the rice was destined for the Philippines, Hong Kong, Papua New Guinea, and Malaysia.

Rice exporters said most of their export in Q1 was under contracts signed last year. They expect many new contracts will be inked in Q2 and the delivery will be conducted in the following quarter.

Other commodities with high export growth rates during the last three months include garment (53.4 million USD – 16.16 percent), processed agricultural products (36 million USD – 13.26 percent), steel and nails (7.68 million USD – 11.95 percent), and pharmaceuticals (7.1 million USD – 14 percent).

Can Tho International Travel Mart slated for late November

Visitors at the recent Vietnam International Travel Mart 

The Can Tho International Travel Mart will be held in the Mekong Delta city from November 29 to December 1, expecting to have 200 booths of Vietnamese and foreign travel companies.

The expo’s highlight will be a conference to seek measures to turn the Mekong Delta region and Can Tho into a leading tourist hub of Vietnam.

With the engagement of regional provinces as well as Vietnamese and foreign travel firms, the Can Tho International Travel Mart is hoped to become an outstanding annual tourism event in the Mekong Delta region.

Over the past years, Can Tho tourism has been growing strongly, contributing a large part to the economic growth of the locality.

In 2018, Can Tho welcomed more than 40 million tourists, up 17 percent over 2017, with total revenue of more than 24 trillion VND, a surge of 30 percent year on year.

The regional localities have shown close connection in tourism. The Mekong Delta Tourism Association has so far developed 12 national tourist sites typical for the region.

VinaCapital invests in tourism project in Binh Dinh province

FLC Quy Nhon, Binh Dinh 

Investment group VinaCapital has injected over 1.1 trillion VND (47.4 million USD) into a project at the Nhon Ly – Cat Tien marine tourism area in Phu Cat district, central Binh Dinh province.

On March 30, the group kick-started the construction of the four-star Maia Quy Nhon Beach Resort on 34.15 hectares. The resort is designed with 755 rooms, and 80 percent of its villas have swimming pools and outdoor living space.

Vice Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Nguyen Phi Long said the project is expected to promote tourism in Binh Dinh.

He stressed that the province is investing to build a road connecting Phu Cat airport to Nhon Hoi economic zone, and Cat Tien urban area.

This will help ensure the success of the resort and other tourism projects, Long said.

Chief Operating Officer at VinaCapital Brook Colin Taylor said he is confident that the Maia Quy Nhon Beach Resort will become one of the most popular destinations of tourists in the future.

Binh Dinh welcomed more than 4 million tourists in 2018, up 10.6 percent from a year earlier.

Among the visitors, there were over 286,400 foreigners and 3.8 million domestic holiday makers, respectively rising by 8.3 percent and 10.8 percent.

The province recorded a surge of almost 55 percent in tourism revenue to reach 3.3 trillion VND.

The province aims to welcome 5.1 million tourist arrivals in 2019, up 25 percent from this year, and earn 6.5 trillion VND in revenues.

Vietjet offers 1.1 million super saving tickets to mark new routes from Can Tho

Low-cost carrier Vietjet Air will offer 1.1 million super saving tickets priced only from 0 VND on three golden days from April 3 to April 5 on the occasion of its opening five new routes from the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho.

The promotional tickets are available on website during golden hours from 12 p.m to 14 p.m, applied for all Vietnamese domestic routes. Flying time is from June 4 to December 31, 2019. 

Welcome vibrant summer, Vietjet opens sales on two new routes from Can Tho to the beach city of Nha Trang (south central Khanh Hoa province) and the Central Highlands resort city of Da Lat (Lam Dong province). Flights on those two new routes will operate from April 26. 

Earlier March, Vietjet also opened three routes from Can Tho to the northern port city of Hai Phong, and the two central provinces of Nghe An and Thanh Hoa. 

Thanks to the new routes, Vietjet will be the airline having the most routes and flights from and to Can Tho.

With a network comprising 39 domestic routes and 69 international routes, Vietjet operates safe flights with a technical reliability rate of 99.64 percent — the highest rate in the Asia Pacific region. As a fully-fledged member of International Air Transport Association (IATA), Vietjet has obtained the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) certificate and has been awarded a 7-star ranking, the world’s highest rate for safety, by AirlineRatings.

Vietjet is the first airline in Vietnam to operate as a new-age airline offering flexible, cost-saving ticket fares and diversified services to meet customers’ demands. It provides not only transport services but also uses the latest e-commerce technologies to offer various products and services for consumers. 

The airline has also been listed as one of the world's 50 best airlines for healthy financing and operations by Airfinance Journal in 2018.

Currently, Vietjet operates around 400 flights daily, carrying more than 70 million passengers to date, with 108 routes covering destinations across Vietnam and international destinations such as Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, the Republic of Korea, Taiwan, mainland China, Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia and Cambodia.

Fisheries sector required to continue improving product quality

Tra fish processing for export - Illustrative image 

Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung has urged the fisheries sector to build a safe and high-quality seafood brand, continue increasing the quality of products, maintain traditional markets and develop new ones.

Addressing a ceremony to mark the 60th traditional day of the sector in the northern coastal province of Quang Ninh on March 31, Dung affirmed that its development goals are to step up industrialisation and modernisation, achieve comprehensive and sustainable development, become a major commodity sector with appropriate production organisation forms and structure, gradually raise income and living conditions of farmers and fishermen, protect the ecosystem and contribute to defence and security.

He asked the sector to speed up disseminations for fishermen to obey Vietnamese law as well as international regulations on fishing and aquaculture that Vietnam joins.

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Xuan Cuong said that the volume of Vietnam’s aquatic products exceeded 7.4 million tonnes in 2018, a 5.6-fold increase compared with that of 1995. They have been sold to over 170 markets, with the total export turnover surpassing 9 billion USD last year, making Vietnam one of the world’s largest aquatic product exporters.

According to him, Resolution No.36 of the 12th Party Central Committee on the sustainable development strategy of the Vietnamese maritime economy until 2030 with a vision to 2045 sets a target of turning Vietnam into a strong sea-based nation which meets basic criteria on sustainable maritime economic development and take the initiative to respond to climate change, sea-level rise, coastal erosion and saltwater intrusion.

On this occasion, the Directorate of Fisheries was presented with the Labour Order, first class.

Can Tho works to enhance investment, trade bond with Japan

The launching ceremony of the Vietnam-Japan friendship industrial park in Can Tho 

The Mekong Delta city of Can Tho has worked to promote trade and investment cooperation with foreign partners, especially Japan. 

According to Director of the Can Tho Trade, Investment Promotion and Exhibition Centre Tran Khanh Tung, the city has launched Japan Desk, which serves as a bridge between Japanese businesses in the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho and local authorities. 

Motonori Tsuno, Director of RION company and Chairman of the Japan-Vietnam Friendship Association in Kansai prefecture of Japan, has been invited to be a strategic advisor of the municipal People’s Committee. 

Can Tho also opened Japan Desk liaison office in Hanoi, Tokyo, and Osaka to promoting its connection with Japanese enterprises, Tung said. 

Through Japan Desk, a working delegation of Can Tho visited Japan in March, during which the city granted an investment certificate to a joint venture between the Marine Foods Corporation of Japan and Nam Hai Exports Food Stuff Limited (VietFoods Co. Ltd). The joint venture will invest to build a seafood production and processing plant worth 14 million USD in Tra Noc 1 Industrial Park in Can Tho city. 

The municipal authorities also signed memoranda of understanding with the Japanese side on cooperation in IT personnel and Japanese language training, towards improving the profession and skill for Can Tho’s labourers working in Japan.

Can Tho’s leaders held talks with representatives from authorities of Wakayama  and Hyogo prefectures, and those from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to discuss cooperation in hi-tech agriculture, industry, tourism, logistics, health and education. 

Tung stressed that the city will continue to work with the Japanese Embassy in Vietnam and other agencies such as JICA, JETRO, the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI) to further promote investment, trade and tourism bonds between Can Tho and Japan. 

By the end of 2018, Can Tho was home to 81 foreign direct investment (FDI) projects worth nearly 700 million USD.

Vietnam’s property company Netland opens office in Japan

Netland Real Estate JSC’s representative office inaugurated in Japan on March 28.  (Source: courtesy of Netland)

Vietnamese property developer Netland Real Estate JSC has opened a representative office in Tokyo, a step in the company’s plans to expand into the international market to attract investment into its projects in Vietnam.

The office will introduce the company’s real estate projects to partners and investors in Japan, and hopes to attract especially individual investors to the real estate, particularly the tourism property segment in Vietnam.

It is also collaborating with local real estate trading floors and companies to sell its products there and also Japanese products to Vietnamese.

At the opening ceremony on March 28, the company introduced 16 projects that it solicits investment and its ongoing projects, including those that it holds exclusive distribution rights.

Japan was the top investor in Vietnam last year with investments of 8.59 billion USD, or almost a quarter of the total FDI.

Japanese investments are forecast to rise sharply this year. 

REE targets $240 million revenue this year



REE expects to make after-tax profit of nearly VND1.5 trillion this year. — Photo

 Refrigeration Electric Engineering Co (REE) plans to earn nearly VND5.6 trillion (US$240.8 million) in revenue this year, up 10 per cent year-on-year.

The figure was released at the annual general meeting to approve business targets for 2019 held in HCM City on Friday.

Of the figure, revenue from its refrigeration electric engineering segment will account for the majority at VND3.6 trillion, or about 65 per cent. Meanwhile, the number from office leasing is estimated at VND836 billion, power and water utility infrastructure at VND772 billion and real estate is expected to reach VND369 billion.

It’s expected to make after-tax profit of nearly VND1.5 trillion, down 18 per cent compared with the same period last year, in which power and water utility infrastructure is set at VND685 billion, office leasing contributes VND390 billion, mechanical and electrical engineering segment brings in VND275 billion and real estate VND115 billion.

Speaking at the meeting, REE Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Mai Thanh said many shareholders asked why not set a higher target. “If we really want to set it high, we can do it, but it must use the plan from November to December 2018, based on objective factors in policy changes, so that it is close to reality.”

With the above target, REE expects a minimum dividend payout ratio of 16 per cent of charter capital this year.

Regarding operating capital, Thanh said that the company had mobilised capital through the issuance of bonds (US$100 million). In terms of each segment, the 2019 refrigeration electric engineering segment will not need additional capital, instead the company will focus on increasing investment in two areas of electricity and water utility infrastructure and real estate.

"It is estimated that this year will disburse all the capital mobilised. At the same time, with the cash balance as of the end of 2018, the company will disburse at least VND2 trillion," Thanh said.

In terms of office leasing, the company will have an additional 200,000 sq.m for lease this year, including a building in Ha Noi.

The office leasing segment is expected to contribute major growth to profit in 2019, when the central building in HCM City starts to record all revenue and profit, along with the contribution of another building, which has a 14,000 m2 rental space with average rental price of $17 per sq.m, coming into operation in the second quarter of this year.

REE also approved a plan to issue $100 million of non-convertible bonds, equivalent to about VND2.32 trillion, with the goal of developing office real estate projects for rent on its existing land fund in HCM City, and for payment of land use fees, land purchase, and development of land fund.

Bonds are expected to be issued to individual investors in the first quarter of this year.

As for electricity, the company aims to develop renewable electricity, including wind and solar power. It will also aim to buy shares in some power companies which have planned to divest in the future. However, the company refused to divulge further details at this time.

By the end of 2018, REE has invested in eight hydropower companies with a total designed capacity of 1,034 MW, three thermal power companies with a total capacity of 2,340 MW, one wind power company with a capacity of 24 MW and a power distribution unit with an output of 250 million kWh.

At the meeting, the shareholders approved the dismissal of Adrian Teng Wei Ann from the board. Instead, REE will elect Stephen Patrick Gore (British national, born in 1972) to take this position for the remainder of the 2018-20 term.

In 2018, REE made revenue of VND5.1 trillion, up 2 per cent and after tax profit of nearly VND1.8 trillion, an increase of nearly 30 per cent compared to 2017. With this result, the company will pay dividends at the rate of 18 per cent in cash for its shareholders on April 5, equivalent to about VND558 billion.

Savills Vietnam launches property management software



Savills Vietnam has launched a new property management system to connect developers and residents. — Photo

 Property consultancy Savills Vietnam on Thursday launched the Savills Property Management System (SPMS), a new technology platform connecting property investors and managers to house buyers.

Developed by experienced experts of Savills, SPMS is an official and direct communication channel between developers and residents. The new software is expected to set a new standard in property management and address the needs of residents, ensuring the smooth operation of buildings.

At the launch event in HCM City, general director of Savills Vietnam Neil MacGregor said the SPMS will open a new door for technology application in the real estate sector and property management in particular.

The mobile application offers immediate and personalised responses to requests and demands via an automated system. Providing a clear line of communication between residents and property managers, SPMS also enables residents to process bills and book building amenities with a few simple clicks.

Savills Vietnam utilised technological advances and new consumer attitudes to create this bespoke software solution.

The SPMS has been integrated in some of Savills Vietnam’s projects in HCM City, Ha Noi and Da Nang.

Savills Vietnam manages more than four million square metres of housing and trading areas nationwide, including about 40,000 apartments.

VIB shareholders approve dividend payouts of 26.5 per cent



VIB held its shareholder meeting in HCM City for the first time this year. 

 Vietnam International Bank (VIB) received shareholder approval to pay dividends at a 26.5 per cent rate in 2019, including 5.5 per cent in cash, 18 per cent in bonus shares and 3 per cent in treasury shares.

At their meeting in HCM City on Thursday, shareholders approved the business plan for this year, which includes a pre-tax profit of VND3.4 trillion (US$146 million), up 24 per cent from last year, and VND182.9 trillion in total assets.

They also agreed to increase the bank’s charter capital to VND10.9 trillion from VND7.84 trillion and use more than 7.7 million of treasury shares worth VND175 billion to reward employees.

Shareholders also passed other important business targets, including that deposits will reach VND127.2 trillion and non-performing loans will be kept at below 2 per cent.

Dang Khac Vy, chairman of the VIB Board of Directors, briefed the meeting on the bank’s 10-year transformation strategy from 2017 to 2026, with a focus on customers, products and personnel resources.

VIB has built and implemented a model that shares profits and maintains quality services. It has also paid attention to developing competitive and innovative products.

The bank has focused on improving the capacity of employees and providing attractive welfare packages, Vy said.

He said VIB’s profit targets are usually modest and cautious.

In 2017, its pre-tax profit reached VND1.4 trillion and exceeded 87 per cent of the target. In 2018, pre-tax profit hit VND2.74 trillion.

The VIB leader hopes pre-tax profit in 2019 will be 20-30 per cent higher than the goal.

This is the first time VIB has held its annual general meeting in HCM City after being approved by the central bank to relocate its headquarters to the city last November. 

HCM City targets sustainable economic development


HCM City’s recently launched project to promote sustainable development aims to help firms reach “green” standards. 

 Businesses should aim for sustainable economic development by using environmentally friendly production and “green” financial sources, experts have recommended.

Such goals are part of the “Trade for Sustainable Development” project, which promotes green production and green finance (finance that facilitates sustainable and environmentally friendly practices).

The project kicked off in HCM City in March. The city is the second region in Viet Nam to launch the project after Ha Noi. The two-year project is run by the Viet Nam Trade Promotion Agency under the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the International Trade Centre.

Bui Thi Thanh An, deputy head of the agency, said the project assisted businesses and co-operative groups in improving production value and joining international value chains through sustainable business strategies, green standards, and green finance.

The project provides technologies and solutions, and helps businesses identify and access green financial sources, and penetrate international markets.

Many businesses, especially small to medium sized, and agricultural co-operatives still lack the knowledge and skills for sustainable development, according to experts.

The project offers training and international upskilling courses (created by renowned international universities), and helps firms improve their skills so they can operate their businesses in a sustainable manner.

Green development is considered a key to sustainable development. Even though the use of green technologies has high initial costs, businesses that use such technology will attract more foreign investors and customers, according to a representative of ITC’s Department of Business and Organisation.

Dang Duc Tuan, a marketing analyst at ITC, said that sustainability standards helped businesses become more competitive as more customers demand products that meet such standards.

However, costly investments are needed to set up new, more environmentally friendly production lines. Helping businesses gain access to green finance sources is crucial, experts said. 

HCM City promotes consumption of safe foods, regional specialities at restaurants, tourism sites



Delegates at a meeting to review the price stabilisation programme in 2018 and during the 2019 Lunar New Year and set tasks for this year and the 2020 Lunar New Year. 

 The HCM City Department of Industry and Trade, the Food Safety Management Board and the Department of Tourism will join hands to promote consumption of safe food and regional specialties at restaurants, hotels and tourism sites in the city.

Under a programme they unveiled on March 29, they will create a list of agricultural products and regional specialties that meet food safety standards and are produced and processed in a closed, modern chain.

They will survey demand for foods at restaurant and hotels and other criteria and requirements for choosing the items.

Pham Khanh Phong Lan, head of the Food Safety Management Board, said the board would provide information about safe food and regional specialties to city hotels and restaurants and organise a meeting to connect them with producers of these products.

Nguyen Thi Anh Hoa, deputy director of the Department of Tourism, said the city has more than 3,000 tourist accommodations, including 124 hotels with three to five stars, 180 with two stars, and many tourism sites.

“Restaurants rated two stars and above and tourism sites have huge demand for safe foods, but to be accepted by them, products must ensure food safety standards and traceability but also have competitive prices,” she said.

Producers of processed goods must focus on design and packaging, she added.

Pham Thanh Kien, director of the Department of Industry and Trade, said the programme was among the new features of the city’s price stabilisation programme.

“Through the programme, we want to promote consumption of food products under the programme that meet VietGap and GlobalGap standards at restaurants and hotels.”

The department was discussing with MM Mega Market to introduce Vietnamese products, especially those in the city’s price stabilisation programme, at a fair to be held in Thailand this year, he said.

Nguyen Quynh Trang, deputy director of the Department of Industry and Trade, said the city was simultaneously implementing four programmes to stabilise the prices of essential foods and foodstuffs, school supplies, dairy products, and medicines for a year starting on April 1.

For instance, under the programme for essential foods and foodstuffs, 10 goods — rice, sugar, cooking oil, poultry and cattle meat, poultry eggs, processed foods, fruits and vegetables, seafood, and spices – are sold at fixed prices.

They will meet 25-30 per cent of demand, rising to 30-40 per cent during Tet.

In the school supplies programme, 122 items, 19 more than last year, are covered and will meet 35-50 per cent of demand.

The two remaining programmes keep fixed the prices of formula milk for babies and pregnant women, milk powder and liquid milk fortified with micronutrients and 21 classes of medicines with 634 items.

All the products will be sold at 5-15 per cent below market prices.

Trang said the programme this year has the participation of 79 companies, with C.P Vietnam (animal meat, poultry eggs), Binh Minh (poultry meat), Anh Hoang Thy (animal meat) and Vinamit (vegetables) joining for the first time.

Twelve banks have signed up for the programmes and would lend VND19.65 trillion (US$847.1 million) to the participating companies at interest rates of 5.5-7 per cent for short-term loans and 9-10 per cent for medium- and long-term loans, Trang said.

Sales under the fixed-prices programme increased by 9.8 per cent last year to VND30.65 trillion, she said.

There were 10,983 outlets selling the goods last year.

Viet Nam’s economic growth impressive in Q1


Tea grown in Lai Chau Province’s Tam Duong District. Viet Nam’s economic growth was impressive in the first quarter of this year with GDP rising by 6.79 per cent, the highest level since 2009 (except 2018). 

 Viet Nam’s economic growth was impressive in the first quarter of this year in the context of a global slowdown, Nguyen Bich Lam, General Director of the General Statistics Office (GSO) of Viet Nam said at a press conference on Friday.

The gross domestic product (GDP) grew at 6.79 per cent in the quarter, lower than the growth rate of 7.45 per cent in 2018 but still the highest since 2009 (except for 2018).

Stable growth was seen in agro-forestry-aquaculture; industry and construction; and service sectors, with respective increases of 2.68 per cent, 8.63 per cent and 6.5 per cent. Notably, the industrial sector climbed 8.95 per cent compared to the same period last year. Processing and manufacturing was the pillar of the growth, scaling up 12.35 per cent.

Lam said that this was an impressive result for Viet Nam which now had a high rate of economic openness, in the context of a global slowdown and declining global trade.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) in January revised down its estimates for global growth to 3.5 per cent for 2019 and 3.6 per cent for 2020, 0.2 and 0.1 percentage points below its last forecasts in October. The World Bank also forecast the growth of the global economy would slow to 2.9 per cent in 2019, compared with three per cent in 2018.

The country’s consumer price index (CPI) rose 2.63 per cent in the first quarter of 2019, the lowest rate in the past three years.

GSO said that low inflation in the quarter was attributed to a fall in consumption demand regularly occurring after Tet (Lunar New Year) holidays (which fell at the start of February) coupled with the impact of African swine fever.

In March, CPI dropped by 0.21 per cent over the previous month.

Fuel prices dropped by 8.22 per cent on average during the quarter, which contributed to lowering overall CPI by 0.35 per cent.

The electricity price hike of 8.36 per cent, starting from March 20, did not have an impact on inflation in the quarter, Lam said.

He said that increasing electricity prices was necessary because they remained low in Viet Nam, 28 per cent lower than Cambodia and the Philippines and 12 per cent lower than Laos and Cambodia.

Increasing electricity prices also helps attract more foreign investment in power generation, especially renewable energy, promotes energy savings and encourages firms to renovate production technology to improve energy efficiency.

Core inflation (excluding food, energy, and State-managed services such as healthcare and education) rose 1.83 per cent in the quarter.

Do Thi Ngoc, Head of GSO’s Price Statistics Department, said that the prices of State-management services should be adjusted at reasonable intervals to keep inflation under control.

“Economic growth is robust, the macro-economy remains stable and inflation is kept under control,” Lam said, adding that he was optimistic about socio-economic development in the coming quarters. "The rate of unemployment has decreased, the economy’s production capacity is expanded, creating momentum for economic development."

With an improved investment climate, Viet Nam also saw a record number of new firms in the first quarter.

GSO revealed that nearly 28,500 new firms were set up in the quarter, with total registered capital of VND375.5 trillion, up by 6.2 per cent and 34.8 per cent, respectively, over the same period last year. More than 15,000 firms resumed operation, up by 78.1 per cent.

A GSO survey on manufacturing and processing companies revealed 54.6 per cent said that they forecast better business and production in the second quarter of this year, 34.8 per cent saw stable business while only 10.6 per cent anticipated more difficulty.

GSO proposed more efforts in improving the business climate to create conditions for businesses and promote the development of the private sector.

In addition, disbursement of public investment also needed to be sped up, Lam said, adding that every one-per-cent in public investment would help private investment rise by 1.37 per cent. 

Forming value chains to enhance competitiveness for pig farmers

Pigs are raised in a farm belonging to Bùi Đức Luận in Sơn Vi Commune, Lâm Thao district in the northern province of Phú Thọ. Farmers are urged to form value chain to enhance the competitiveness for their products. 

The pig industry plays an important role in the Asia Pacific, but, like other sectors, is facing challenges such as price volatility, food safety concerns and recently reported outbreaks of African swine fever. Therefore, solutions are needed to promote smallholder pig production in a sustainable way, experts said.

According to Fred Unger, a scientist from the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), pork is an important part of the Vietnamese diet. Additionally, more than 70 per cent of meat consumption is supplied by small scale producers.

While Vietnamese consumers have a strong preference for fresh, un-chilled pork sold at traditional markets, increasing concerns over food safety have been expressed by Vietnamese consumers, he said at a regional symposium on research into smallholder pig production, health and pork safety which ended in Hà Nội on Friday.

Research conducted since 2013, including risk profiling and assessment for biological and chemical hazards, a cost of illness study and most recently a food safety performance assessment of a range of current pork value chains in four provinces of northern Việt Nam have showed that pork is not safe. Between 44 and 82 per cent of pork sampled was contaminated with Salmonella, a group of bacteria that normally inhabit the intestines of animals and human. 

Unger said that contamination occurred mainly during the slaughtering and retail process.

Despite effort paid to the production of safe pork, it has not yet reached a significant share of the market in Việt Nam. He also pointed out that key constraints to the uptake including high cost of adoption, lack of visible benefits from changing behaviour and low consumer trust.

To overcome these constraints, Unger suggested that focus would be on gradual improvements to the food system in place, rather than introducing a new system and incentive-based interventions.

The fact that Việt Nam has joined the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) was also a challenge for the animal husbandry industry as the requirements for product quality and traceability are set higher. Thus, farmers needed to join value chains to meet the demand for producing and supplying safe pork for the market, experts said.

Lê Thị Thanh Huyền, from the National Institute of Animal Science, said individual households faced poor competitiveness in the market and found it difficult to access resources.

Once smallholder alliances form cooperatives or groups of producers, it would be easy for them to solve capital problems, searching for consumer markets as well as building brands for products and traceability.

While indigenous pigs, such as Bản pork, are preferred by consumers and able to be sold at a high price, awareness of food safety is considered very poor among ethnic farmers, Huyền said.

A survey conducted in Đà Bắc District, Hòa Bình Province, where Bản pig production is promoted by the Government, showed that most thought safe food could be detected by its physical appearance and blamed chemicals in food as the main cause of cancer, she said. All interviewed consumers thought well cooked pork is safe while fewer people had this view among other stakeholders.

Huyền said better communication was needed to improve the awareness of food safety among different stakeholders along the Bản pork value chain. It is expected that by improving their practices, farmers’ livelihoods would be enhanced by giving them the opportunity to access potential marketing and branding options.

According to Nguyễn Thị Dương Nga from Việt Nam National University of Agriculture, the forming of cooperatives was to serve three purposes – to buy feed in bulk at cheaper prices and quality; collecting pigs to sell to slaughterhouses and big traders; to slaughter pigs and supply supermarkets and institutional buyers.

The challenges in the application of good practices in the animal production value chain include the synchronisation of market infrastructure, processing and retail; price, food safety monitoring, consumer awareness and trust.

To deal with the above-mentioned problems, Nga said, incentives should be offered for value chain upgrades including favourable conditions for good practices and communication to consumers about the product.

According to Dieter Schillinger, ILRI Deputy Director General, factors to develop value chains include health, feed and pig genes.

Good feed could help bring about high quality pork. Given the current climate, some types of pigs could easily adapt to adverse weather.

Regarding health, he said, it was necessary to enhance the veterinary system to better control diseases as well as biosecurity and vaccines to ensure the health of the pig herd.

The establishment of value chains in animal husbandry was the right direction because it would help ensure food safety and traceability for consumers, he said. 

Steel exports edge up 5.8 percent in Q1

Vietnam’s total steel export value in the first quarter this year rose 5.8 percent year-on-year to 744 million USD, the General Department of Vietnam Customs said on March 27.

In March, Vietnam earned 280 million USD from steel shipments, up 60.3 percent from February and 6.8 percent from the same month last year.

The largest amount of Vietnamese steel was sold in the US with 19.64 percent of market share.

The country saw strong growth in exports to China’s Hong Kong (197.61 percent), the UK (159.59 percent) and South Africa (100.7 percent).

In stark contrast, shipments to Saudi Arabia and Myanmar fell more than 60 percent to 1.1 million USD and 6.6 million USD in the period.

Vietnam enjoys trade surplus with Israel

Two-way trade between Vietnam and Israel hit 131.29 million USD in the first two months of 2019, with Vietnam enjoying a surplus worth 77.47 million USD 

Two-way trade between Vietnam and Israel hit 131.29 million USD in the first two months of 2019, with Vietnam enjoying a trade surplus worth 77.47 million USD. 

According to Vietnamese Trade Counsellor in Israel Le Thai Hoa, Vietnam earned 54.51 million USD from exports to Israel in February alone, raising Vietnam’s export revenue to the Middle East market to 104.38 million USD. 

Vietnam’s main exports to Israel include mobile phones and components, aquatic products, cashew nuts, footwear, garment-textile and coffee. Notably, Vietnamese rice has entered the market and holds great potential to meet demands of Asian workers and people living in Israel.

Meanwhile, Vietnam’s imports from Israel hit 13.32 million USD in February, bringing the figure in the first two months to 26.91 million USD, with major products fertiliser, machines and farm produce.

Israel is currently among Vietnam’s top partners in the Middle East in terms of economic and science-technology cooperation.

In 2018, the two countries held various activities to commemorate the 25th founding anniversary of diplomatic ties. Two-way trade surpassed 1.2 billion USD last year as many of Vietnam’s staples gained footholds in the Israeli market.

A bilateral free trade agreement is under negotiation and is expected to be inked shortly, in hope of lifting two-way trade to 3 billion USD.

Over 7.3 trillion VND for power grid in central, Central Highlands regions

The Electricity Vietnam’s Central Power Corporation (EVNCPC) has announced that it plans to invest over 7.3 trillion VND (317 million USD) in a power grid in the central and Central Highland provinces this year. 

Of the figure, 215.6 billion VND will be from the State budget, over 3.1 trillion VND is its own capital, more than 998.3 billion VND is foreign loans and the remaining is commercial loans. 

It will put into operation the first stage of a 10MW solar power plant in the south central province of Khanh Hoa in June 2019 and the whole plant in August 2019, and the second and third stage of a solar roof tile project in the first and second quarter this year, respectively. 

Apart from putting into use 51 110kV power grid works this year, EVNCPC will also launch three sub-projects on power distribution funded by the Germany’s KfW Development Bank in the central province of Thua Thien-Hue, the Central Highlands provinces of Gia Lai and Kon Tum, a power supply project using submarine cable system in Nhon Chau island, the central province of Binh Dinh, a sub-project using loan from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in Son Tra district, the central city of Da Nang and three sub-projects with JICA loans in Phu Yen, Dak Lak and Da Nang.

The corporation will focus on highly effective projects on preventing power oversupply, providing electricity for industries and services, review the effectiveness of grid works each year and the five-year plan in each area. 

It plans to diversify capital sources at home and abroad via bond issuance, work closely with localities to promptly deal with site clearance, raise public awareness of its policy of protecting grid works in the central and Central Highlands provinces.

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