Vietnam Airlines to change terminal in Singapore

As of March 27, Vietnam Airlines will drop off its passengers at Terminal 3 instead of Terminal 1 at Singapore’s Changi International Airport, the airliner has announced.

Pham Viet Thanh, Vietnam Airlines’ vice director said the new terminal, which has better infrastructure compared to others at Changi, would be more convenient for passengers.

Big airliners such as Singapore Airlines, United Airlines and Qatar Airways are also using T3.

Vietnam Airlines offers 3 direct flights to Singapore every day, using 184-seat Airbus 321 for flights from HCMC and 266-seat Airbus 266 for flights from Hanoi.

Processors struggle as catfish supply dries up

Seafood processing plants in the Mekong Delta are suffering from a shortage of catfish, the Vietnam Association of Seafood Producers and Exporters said.

Ngo Phuoc Hau, a VASEP executive, said the shortage is being caused because many catfish breeders have closed down due to various reasons.

For the first two months of the year, the processors managed from their stockpiles from 2010, but they have now run out.

Farmers are unable to procure catfish juveniles though their price has increased to VND50,000 per kilogram.

Breeders have been hit by their inability to obtain bank loans, high feed prices, bad weather, and dirty water.

The only source of catfish supply for exporters now are their own farms and large farms who can absorb the losses, Hau said.

However, soon government institutes in the region will have to provide high-quality brood fish for farmers, he added.

Meanwhile, global catfish prices have shot up 30 percent since the last quarter of 2010. Exports to the EU and US are now fetching US$3.2 and $4 per kilo.

Despite the scarcity, VASEP has set an export target of $1.5 billion for catfish this year, 6.6 percent up from last year, due to increased prices.

Furniture industry asks for power outage schedule

Binh Duong Furniture Association (BIFA), a group of furniture manufacturer in the southern province of Binh Duong, has asked the local authority for providing the specific load shedding schedule in order to reduce loss caused by sudden blackout.

Nguyen Truong Thanh, chairman of BIFA, said electricity supplier must inform furniture manufacturer about power outage schedule in advance at least for two day so that they can prepare the equivalent production schedule as well as let their labor rest when the electricity is cut.

Major member of BIFA said they are afraid of failing to meet the target volume this year because of the high power cut rate in the up-coming dry season.

PC Binh Duong, the electricity supplier of the province, must reduce load shedding to 1 time per week. Moreover, the blackout time must be fixed and be informed to BIFA in advance, Thanh added

BIFA was established in 2009, until now the association has 86 members, mostly furniture manufacturer and exporter in the region.

More brokerages likely to restructure

The recent unexpected exit from the brokerage business by Kim Long Securities Company (KLS) not only sets off alarms for other securities companies, it also points to the emerging trend of mergers and acquisations (M&A) and restructuring in this field, particularly among smaller firms.

The combined revenue of all of the nation's securities companies last year reached VND10 trillion (US$476.2 million) and was derived from brokerage, investments, underwriting and consultancy services, according to the State Securities Commission. Revenue from brokerage services accounted for just 10 per cent of the total, and about 20 companies posted losses.

The poor performance was attributed to last year's prolonged market decline, with significantly decreasing value on both exchanges – averaging VND1.53 trillion ($72.9 million) per session on the HCM City Stock Exchange and VND964 billion ($45.9 million) per session in Ha Noi.

The markets were in a "redundancy of securities companies crisis" which was leading to unfair competition with many smaller firms providing unauthorised products to lure investors, said Viet Nam Association of Financial Investors (VAFI) general secretary Nguyen Hoang Hai.

"All of these elements create a substantial risk for both investors and securities companies," Hai said. "Under the current scale of market development, many companies will have to plan to merge or restructure their lines of business, or even dissolve."

There are about 105 securities companies operating nationwide currently, servicing 1.1 million investor accounts, according to the State Securities Commission, and Hai said this number should be decreased to 40-50.

Since early February, many securities firms have also taken action to restructure their business operations,from reducing the number of staff and branches to looking for new strategic partners or appointing new executive leadership.

An Binh Securities Co and Viet Nam Industrial and Commercial Securities Co closed their branches in Ha Noi and changed the membership of their board of directors. Meanwhile, PetroVietnam Securities Inc sold a 14.9-per-cent stake to a foreign strategic partner.

Kim Eng Viet Nam Securities Co general director Le Minh Tam said securities firms would have to target particular investors and offer key products.

"Increasing capital, training human resources and expanding branch networks are all considered urgent requirements," Tam said. "If these things are delayed, some companies may not exist in two or three years."

He also urged the authorities to give companies a development impetus by quickly increasing the cap on percentage of foreign ownership in securities companies, pursuant to the country's schedule for implementing WTO commitments.

Czech trade offers untapped potential

Bilateral trade relations between Viet Nam and the Czech Republic still have huge potential for further development, especially in the context of global economic integration, said Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry vice chairman Doan Duy Khuong.

With flexible economic mechanisms, Viet Nam could serve as a link for Czech goods to enter the ASEAN market, while the latter could be a gateway for Vietnamese goods to penetrate the European Union.

He described a business conference held yesterday as a good opportunity for businesses to establish new trade partnerships in an attempt to speed up relations between the two nations.

The event was attended by representatives of 15 Czech enterprises that operate in the textile and garment, construction material production, wood processing, pharmaceutical and office equipment sectors.

The Czech businesses were confident that Vietnamese firms would be good trade partners, said Czech Republic Senator Vitezslav Jonas.

Beside trade, the potential for co-operation in the energy sector remained untapped, he said.

Two-way trade between the two countries saw steady growth in recent years. The figure reached over US$200 million last year with $135 million of the total coming from Vietnamese exports including agricultural products, clothing, footwear, computer components and handicrafts.

Our priority in the time ahead was to reduce the trade deficit between the two countries, the senator noted.

To date, Czech enterprises have invested about $35 million in the production of glass, crystal, electrical appliances and construction materials in Viet Nam.

At the second session of the Viet Nam-Czech Republic Inter-governmental Commission on Trade and Scientific Co-operation in Ha Noi late last year, the two countries have agreed to prioritise co-operation in finance and banking, science and technology, trade, agriculture and biology, transportation, labour and infrastructure construction.

Fostering information exchanges through different channels and encouraging businesses to open representative offices or branches, and set up companies in each country were outlined as effective methods to accelerate bilateral co-operation.

Southwest region urged to maintain double-digit growth

The southwest of Viet Nam has been set to keep up with last year's development pace in 2011, a meeting organised by the regional steering committee in the southern-most province of Ca Mau heard yesterday.

In the wake of challenges to the national economy, the region is still expected to achieve a growth rate of 12-13 per cent this year.

The steering committee also set the average annual per capita income to VND23 million (US$1,070) and the total export turnover to stand at $7.5 billion.

Addressing the meeting, Standing Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Sinh Hung said regional leaders should do their best to make the southeast a key economic area in the country.

The regional socio-economic growth increased by 12.2 per cent last year, almost double the country's average.

The total export turnover was more than $6.5 billion and the average per capita income in the region was $1,100.

The southwest includes Long An, Tien Giang, Ben Tre, Tra Vinh, Vinh Long, Dong Thap, An Giang, Kien Giang, Hau Giang, Soc Trang, Bac Lieu, Ca Mau provinces and Can Tho City.

Vietnam's 2011 GDP to grow 6.5-7.0 pct y/y: report

Vietnam's economy could expand at between 6.5 percent and 7.0 percent this year, below the government's annual target, as it concentrates on fighting inflation, a state-run newspaper reported on Tuesday.

The government "is determined not to push too much on the growth target but to focus intensively in containing high inflation," Deputy Planning and Investment Minister Cao Viet Sinh was quoted by the Vietnam Economic Times newspaper as saying.

The Vietnamese government initially projected the country's gross domestic product to rise between 7.0 percent and 7.5 percent this year, accelerating from 6.78 percent in 2010.

But inflation in Vietnam, by far the highest in the region, has been in the double-digits for four months. Consumer price rise last month hit a two-year high of 12.31 percent.

The government announced several steps in February to tighten monetary and fiscal conditions in a bid to bring down inflation, restore confidence in the currency and narrow trade and fiscal deficits.

Given the tightening measures, Sinh said annual growth would be in a range of 6.5 percent and 7.0 percent.

"This is a reasonable growth level... This growth guarantees no major impact on job and resources for production and business," Sinh was quoted as saying in an interview with the newspaper.

The policy response Vietnam unveiled last month to tackle soaring inflation is appropriate but the authorities might have to lower their gross domestic product growth target, the Asian Development Bank said.

It was not immediately clear if the government would seek National Assembly approval to cut the growth target during the coming spring session of parliament, but Hanoi said last week it had no plans to adjust the annual inflation target of 7 percent.

US reduces dumping duty on shrimp

Shrimp exports to the US are enjoying a reduction in anti-dumping taxes.

The anti-dumping duties were placed on frozen warm water shrimp from Viet Nam. The products were taxed from February 1, 2009 through January 31, 2010, reported the Viet Nam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP).

The US Department of Commerce (DoC), after conducting their fifth administrative review, imposed new, reduced duties by between 1.28 per cent and 2.56 per cent to 1.36-1.67 per cent on various exporters across the country.

For the past five years, the US has levied duties ranging from 2.5 to 25.76 per cent on frozen shrimp imported from Viet Nam.

Viet Nam filed a case with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in February 2010 to contest the tariffs. This marks the first time Viet Nam has filed a complaint with the global trade body's dispute settlement system since it formally joined the WTO in January 2007.

Viet Nam disagreed with the US's method of calculating dumping by using periodic reviews, which is zeroing under US law. Viet Nam argued that zeroing was inconsistent with WTO rules as well as with Viet Nam's protocol of accession to the trade organisation.

Last year, Viet Nam exported 240,000 tonnes of shrimp worth of US$2.08 billion to 92 markets, including the US.

Medium- and low-cost houses top picks on property market

Property companies said the demand for medium- and low-cost houses were very strong, expecting the market will recover in the last six months of the year.

“The government determined to fight against inflation, tightening the monetary policy. The move, in short term, may make some impacts to the market, but later it will help the market to develop more steadily.”

Chau noticed that administration procedures for property investments were gradually getting simple, encouraging investors to make more investments.

“That is signals of a strong recovery on the market this year, especially at yearend. I expect houses and apartments with medium and low cost will be the top picks,” he said.

Orders of customers for medium-cost houses this year made out of 40 percent, Le Chi Hieu, chairman and general director of listed property house ThuDuc House said, expecting investors will focus on this segment.

Analysts said a fast urbanization process and large waves of immigrations from rural areas to big cities including Hanoi and HCMC boosted the housing demand in the next 20 years, making the property market pretty promising.

However, investors are coping with many challenges including high interest rates as the government is implementing a tight monetary policy to tackle inflation. Experts proposed that tariffs of land usage should be lowered to heat up the real estate market.

“A lot of cash will flow into the property market right after the macroeconomic is getting stable, with inflation slowed down,” said Hieu.

However, Hoang Anh Tuan, general director of property firm Tat Dat Tat Vang, showed concerned on the property market, noticing the market’s move depends on banks’ credit policies on real estates.

“Most property buyers need financial supports from lenders. But investment flows are being hindered by high interest rates and the fact that banks limit loans for property trading,” Tuan said.

Surveys of the company show that the demand for medium- and low-cost houses is very strong, especially at provinces adjacent to HCMC, including Dong Nai and Binh Duong.

“Only when banks offer loans to property investors, the market will be booming,” Tuan said.

Chairman Tran Van Thanh of property firm Viet Nam House said real estate prices would likely to move up in the third and fourth quarters this year if inflation is curbed and interest rates drop.

“Prices of houses and apartment in many property projects are attractive now as they fall to the bottom. Therefore, it is the time to invest in property,” Thanh said.

Ministry urges firms to cut costs

Minister of Industry and Trade Vu Huy Hoang has called on businesses to review their manufacturing processes and the demand in the domestic market in order to reduce their production costs as part of the Government's plan to curb inflation.

At an online meeting held by the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) on Monday, Hoang said that inflation, forex, and high lending rates, along with the rise in petrol and electricity prices, were the most challenging factors to enterprises in the coming months.

Since March, several essential commodities, such as gasoline, diesel, fuel oil and electricity have seen big increases in prices.

At the meeting, business representatives expressed their concerns that increasing the prices of input materials would further raise the prices of their finished product.

Deputy General Director of the Viet Nam Steel Corporation (VNSTEEL) Le Phu Hung said domestic steel manufacturers had faced many disadvantages, such as the devaluation of the Vietnamese dong against the US dollar, high interest rates and surging input materials prices, which, in turn, forced producers to reduce production volumes on the domestic market.

He said that his corporation has used several solutions to cut costs and update technology to save power, adding that steel price stabilisation needed the consent of all manufacturers since VNSTEEL made up only 30 per cent of the market.

However, the general director of the leading petrol distributor, the Viet Nam National Petroleum Corporation (Petrolimex), Nguyen Ngoc Bao, said the recent increase in petrol prices was only a temporary solution as it was able to compensate for about 40 to 50 per cent of petrol dealers' losses. Therefore, petrol dealers and distributors were still incurring huge losses.

Hoang said petrol dealers should not raise prices dramatically in a short time. Instead, they should adjust them carefully to avoid fluctuations.

He also praised petrol distributors' efforts to satisfy the domestic fuel demand as global oil prices had fluctuated and several private gas stations had closed.

The minister also asked market management bodies to crack down on speculation, trade fraudulence and illegal price increases.

At the meeting, the ministry also forecast the demand for power would increase from 17 to 18 per cent this year, stirring a fear of an electricity shortage this summer.

In response, Deputy General Director of Electricity of Viet Nam (EVN) Duong Quang Thanh said his corporation had implemented several solutions to reduce power shortages this summer, including mobilising thermo-electricity sources, while speeding up projects that were expected to be put into operation this year.

According to MoIT, the country's industrial production was estimated at VND59.7 trillion (US$2.88 billion) last month, an increase of 17.7 per cent in comparison with the same period last year.

In the first two months of the year, the figure totalled VND131 trillion, a rise of 14.6 per cent compared with the same period of 2010. Of this, private and foreign direct invested sectors saw the highest increase, at 17 per cent and 16.6 per cent, respectively. State-owned enterprises experienced a rise of 7 per cent.

Firms to get help to be more competitive

Vietnamese small and medium enterprises will be provided with technical assistance to sharpen their competition in global markets, as part of project funded by Italy.

The 3 million euro (US$3.42 million) SME Cluster Development project will help textile and garment firms in Ha Noi, the northern province of Hung Yen and the southern hub of HCM City; footwear and furniture producers in HCM City and southern Binh Duong province.

Deadline for applications is March 22.

Italian Ambassador Lorenzo Angeloni said today that elected enterprises would benefit from high level, specialised consultant and capacity upgrading programmes. They would also have opportunities to open up new markets and establish new partnership, especially with Italian enterprises.

Study tours and training would offer the firms access to international best practices, knowledge on markets, demands, designs and buyer standards.

"Through business co-operation, the project will help Vietnamese firms upgrade and be more competitive," Angeloni said. "Italian enterprises will also get opportunities to know and enter into one of the fastest developing economies in the world."

Textile exports may take hit from power shortage

Vinatex, Vietnam’s leading textile firm, said most of its subsidiaries have received export orders for the whole of this year but they may struggle to execute them due to the expected power cuts in the dry season.

In recent times many textile firms have moved their plants to the rural areas in central Vietnam to take advantage of cheap labor. With a power shortage looming, rural areas are expected to be worse-hit than cities.

The textile industry also faces challenges in expanding production due to difficulty in getting loans from banks.

The recent devaluation of the dong has put it under pressure by increasing raw material costs, which are already high. The price of cotton, for instance, has skyrocketed to a record high of US$5.2 per kilogram, 300 percent up year on year.

The Vietnamese government has asked authorities in the central region to focus on supplying sufficient power to textile plants this year.

In the first two months textile exports were worth $2.1 billion, 54 percent up from the same period last year.

Six Senses Con Dao launches March promotional package

Six Senses Con Dao has introduced new promotional program starting from US$599 a two-night package which is inclusive for Vietnam Residents within this month.

The program will include 2-night accommodation in an appointed villa, daily breakfast, round trip transfers on Con Dao, one set 2-course dinner (excluding beverages). For the starting price of US$799, two airfares will be included for customers, customers will we can include.

The rates are applied for double occupancy and Residents Card will be required upon check in.

The resort, located on Con Dao archipelago, is about 45-minute flight from Ho Chi Minh City. It has 50 single and duplex villas with up to four bedroom and private infinity pools.

For more information, please visit Reservation can be made via

High prices slow building market

Increased prices have had a tremendous effect on the domestic building material market, according to trade insiders.

"The market is as quiet as a graveyard," Nguyen Thi Yen, director of the Hoang Yen Company Ltd in the northern mountainous province of Lai Chau said.

"No one is buying anything. We're sitting around waiting for the whole day without selling anything. Customers just come, ask about the price and then leave," Yen said explaining that many contractors have suspended their work.

"They have to reassess their costs because no-one wants to face losses," Yen said.

Yen also affirmed that the situation was not unique to Lai Chau but could be seen across provinces throughout the country.

"I've just visited Ha Noi and found that the situation there isn't any better," she said.

Traditionally, demand for building material has never been high at the beginning of a year. This year, however, the situation was worse, said owner of Binh Bang building material shop on Hoang Quoc Viet Street in Ha Noi.

The trader said that at the moment, the price of most building materials, such as bricks, sand, steel and cement had increased by 5 per cent.

The Viet Nam Cement Association announced that in the first two months of this year, only 6.2 million tonnes of cement had been sold.

The association's chairman Nguyen Van Diep said that for the country to meet the target of consuming around 55 million tonnes of cement this year, 8 million tonnes would have to be sold in the first two months of the year.

Diep also said after price increases in petrol and power, most companies were still taking into account the effects, and were considering new pricing.

Since the beginning of February, however, some cement companies have increased prices by about 6 per cent to between VND900,000 (US$42) and VND1.36 million ($65) per tonne.

Diep affirmed that cement prices were certain to rise in the near future.

Like cement, building glass prices have also risen by 15-17 per cent.

Due to the increase in petrol and power prices, construction glass prices rose from the first days of this month, said chairman of the Viet Nam Glass Association Tran Quang Thai.

Thai added that due to this increase, purchases had sharply dropped.

Since the beginning of March, steel companies also announced a surge, with prices up by VND500,000 ($24) per tonne.

Steel prices now stand at VND17 million ($810) to VND18.5 ($880) million a tonne.