Revenue from retail and services up 16%

Viet Nam estimated to collect VND 2.324 trillion generated by the retail and services sector in 2012, up 16% against 2011, according to the General Statistics Office.

The revenue made by the State sector hit VND 288.9 trillion, accounting for 12.3% of the total value, but representing a drop of 1.2% year on year.

The private sector reported VND 1.986 trillion in revenue, accounting for 84.8% of the total value and up 18.4%.

The foreign-invested sector posted a year-on-year increase of 34.7%, with VND 67,400 billion.

The trade sector ranked first with VND 1.789 trillion, followed by the hotel and restaurant sector VND 273,300 billion, the service sector VND 237,600 billion and tourism VND 23,900 billion.

In 2011, the retail and services attained VND 2.004 trillion, up 24.2% compared to 2010.

VN eyes $7-bln investment in Laos

Viet Nam has planned to double its total investment in Laos to US$7 billion by 2015, according to the Vietnamese Ministry of Industry and Trade.

The ministry, in coordination with relevant Vietnamese and Lao agencies, on December 25 in Vientiane held a business forum, which drew the participation of nearly 100 Vietnamese enterprises and overseas Vietnamese.

Now, Viet Nam has over 200 investment projects with the total capital of some US$3.5 billion. Vietnamese enterprises have made strong presence in Laos, including Laos-Viet Nam Bank, Saigon Bank, Gold Long Thanh Group, and Dao Huong Group.           

The two-way trade between Viet Nam and Laos is nearly US$900 million.

Hanoi: 8.1 percent economic growth

Hanoi’s Gross Regional Domestic Product (GRDP) reached 87.504 trillion VND (43 billion USD) in 2012, an increase of 8.1 percent from last year, the municipal statistics department has announced.

Although the growth rate was lower than the city had expected and that of last year, it is still a praiseworthy achievement, especially in a time of economic difficulty.

The service sector recorded the highest growth with 9.3 percent, creating more than 45 trillion VND for the city and contributing 4.8 percent to the combined increase.

Meanwhile, the industry and construction sector rose by 7.7 percent from last year, with over 37.5 trillion VND in revenue and contributing 4 percent to the capital’s total growth.

Agriculture, forestry and aquaculture saw a slight increase of 0.4 percent to reach 6.761 trillion VND, according to head of the Hanoi Statistics Department Cong Xuan Mui.

Auto registration fee cuts seen not steep enough

While the Government’s draft resolution implies automobile registration fee reductions would start next year to support consumers and enterprises, there are concerns the fee will remain high and cause little positive impact on the gloomy auto market.

According to this draft resolution, the proposed personal car ownership restriction fee will not be put into practice. The registration fee for cars under 10 seats will be cut to 10 per cent but local authorities are allowed to revise up this fee by no more than 50 per cent. For secondhand cars, the registration fee will also decrease sharply to 2 per cent nationwide.

The fact that personal car ownership restriction fee collection was proposed while car registration fees were hiked from 10 per cent to 15 per cent by HCMC and from 12 per cent to 20 per cent by Hanoi early this year has dealt a blow to the auto market.

The Vietnam Automobile Manufacturers Association (VAMA) said that these fees are a big obstacle to car ownership, causing a sharp decline in auto sales this year. Besides, the auto industry is facing challenges due to the economic crisis, credit limits and consumers’ tightening their expenses.

Some enterprises said that solutions in the draft solutions will not bring about impacts to all localities in the country. Although registration fee for cars under 10 seats will be cut to 10 per cent, local authorities still have the right to revise it up to the maximum rate of 15 per cent like now.

If the draft resolution is adopted, Hanoi, where car registration fee is up to 20 per cent, is the only city to cut this fee to 15 per cent. Meanwhile, other localities like HCMC and Dalat are now applying registration fees at 15 per cent, the enterprises explained.

VAMA suggested applying a single car registration fee at 10 per cent throughout the nation to stimulate consumption.

The enterprises were also worried that whether the disapproval of personal car ownership restriction fee collection would take effect only in 2013 and this fee will be applied in the following years.

This fee proposed by the Ministry of Transport has raised public concerns and sharply driven down the auto market. If disapproval of this fee is just a solution for next year only, consumers will still feel hesitant.

Local firms predicted low demand for cars next year as the economic situation has yet to improve while many consumers will continue cutting expenditures.

VNPost looks for express delivery

VNPost’s proposed split from state telecoms group VNPT is under scrutiny.

From the start of next year Vietnam Post Corporation (VNPost) will split from VNPT to come under Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) management via Decision 1746/QD-TTg dated November 16, 2012.

According to VNPT chairman Pham Long Tran, the trajectory of splitting post from telecom services had taken place for around a decade. The idea was first conceived in 2000 and piloted in several localities.

From January 1, 2008 post and telecom became two independent services provision areas but were still put under one roof of VNPT. At this time conditions were sufficient for VNPost to become an independent entity with a new name VNPost under MIC management.

Tran assumed VNPost operating separately from VNPT would be a necessity to prop up innovations and development for both sides.

“For VNPT, it is an important part in the group’s business system restructuring process whereas to VNPost, it would motivate the post sector to embrace further innovations for sustainable development,” said Tran.

At this point, procedural issues relevant to the transfer were reportedly completed, not regarding financial transfers.

“The move pursues national interests. Moving VNPost from VNPT to MIC does not entail changes to operations, management, interests and obligations of VNPost staff members,” said MIC Minister Nguyen Bac Son.

Son underscored the transfer, which was part of the process to restructure state-owned enterprises in the information and communications sector, aimed to better firms’ operational efficiency and help them grow stronger.

According to VNPost chairman Do Ngoc Binh, VietnamPost always considered postal services as part of VNPT sales network, playing as VNPT’s extending hand to customers.

“Post and telecom has been cooperating closely under VNPT roof in the past years. In the upcoming years, VietnamPost and VNPT need to scale up cooperation to bolster efficiency,” said Binh.

In 2013, VNPost set to achieve VND45.5 billion ($2.2 million) in the whole system’s full-year revenue, hiking 7 per cent against the expected 2012 figure, including VND32.5 billion ($1.5 million) from the parent company up 5 per cent against 2012’s estimated level and VND13 billion ($620,000) from subsidiaries, up 14 per cent.

Attractive promotions at LG brand shop system

An appealing auction will take place this weekend December 29-30, at LG first brand shop at 23 Lang Ha street in Hanoi.

It will provide customers with a chance to win LG luxury items at half of their value.

Under the programme, four LG optimal products will be auctioned each day, including one oven model MH6349B valued at VND2.99 million ($142) with a starting price VND1.495 million ($71); one modern TV 26-inch model LS3300 valued at VND4.9 million ($233) with a starting price VND2.45 million ($116); one two-way air conditioner model H12DN1 valued at VND9.29 million ($442) with a starting price VND4.645 million ($221) and one top-notch LG Optimus Vu P895 valued at VND12.388 million ($590) with a starting price VND6.194 million ($295).

The auction will tale place at 17h on December 29-30, 2012 at 23 Lang Ha Street brand shop.

The auction is the second of its kind as the first one took place also at 23 Lang Ha brand shop last weekend December 22-23.

Besides, during sales promotion time running between December 20, 2012 and January 5, 2013 customers when shopping at 23 Lang Ha brand shop will have a chance to win a Goldsun hotpot valued VND700,000 ($33) for vouchers from VND7 million ($333).

Especially, during the period customers can take part in a lucky draw with a chance to win a four-wheel vehicle from TopCare.

Besides, by picking up LG products at LG brand shop system from December 20, 2012 to January 5, 2013, the customers will be offered the following valued gifts:

- Winning LG top-grade audio system worth VND6.49 million ($310) when purchasing one Cinema 3D smart TV from 47-inch;

- Winning LG quality audio system worth VND2.99 million ($142) when purchasing one Cinema 3D smart TV from 42-inch;

- Winning a top-quality kitchen ware (Elmich pots and pan) valued VND1.5 million ($71) when purchasing one LG six-motion washing machine, one LG side-by-side fridge or one LG inverter technology air conditioner;

- Winning a complimentary voucher worth VND500,000 ($24) when purchasing one LG LED 3D TV from 42-inch, one LG washing machine, one LG fridge from 300 litres or one LG air conditioner;

- Winning a Double Rich set valued at VND160,000 ($8) when purchasing one LG 42-inch LED TV, one LG fridge under 300 litres, one LG washing machine from 7.6 to 12kg or one LG air conditioner model LG S09SN1 or S12E1.

The programme does not run at LG brand shop at 23 Lang Ha street in Hanoi and newly launched LG brand shops in December including Anh Duc brand shop in Bac Ninh province, Vinh Tin brand shop in Gia Lai province and Phan Khang.

Besides, during promotional time from December 20, 2012 to January 5, 2013 customers visiting and shopping at the LG brand shop system will have a chance to join joyful Christmas games to win amazing gifts from LG.

For further information, call LG customer service centre at 18001503 (free call).

Trading firms likely face tra fish export ban

Local trading companies will likely be banned from exporting tra fish in line with a new decree that will be issued in the first quarter of 2013, Truong Dinh Hoe, general secretary of the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), said

Speaking with the Daily, Hoe deemed it necessary to apply such a decree in the seafood industry at the moment.

With the overwhelming presence of tra fish trading enterprises at home, the industry have repeatedly faced tra fish import halts by foreign importers, Hoe said. The reason is that trading companies have been racing to ship substandard products abroad, with the quality of tra fish different from details on their packages, he stressed.

Vietnamese tra fish now is holding 95% global market share but this doesn’t mean that local exporters can control selling prices, he stated. As foreign importers will sell out Vietnamese tra fish after buying them from local sellers, selling prices will be decided by consumers, not by either importers or exporters, he clarified.

Therefore, Hoe asserted, the decree will not push up tra fish prices when issued.

In fact, to avoid being accused of upholding large companies only, VASEP in the petition proposed that only enterprises meeting food and safety and hygiene standards should be allowed for to engage in export activity.

Right after the decree’s release, VASEP will send the list of local qualified exporters to 135 nations and territories that are buying tra fish products from Vietnam. At that time, trading entities that are exporting tra fish will be no longer allowed to do the job, Hoe noted.

Charter flights connect Moscow with Khanh Hoa

A charter flight operated by Orient Air on Wednesday brought over 370 tourists from Moscow to Khanh Hoa Province, and there will be a charter flight on this route every ten days towards next year-end.

This is the first charter flight flying from Moscow to Khanh Hoa arranged by Russia’s Pegas Touristik and Anh Duong Co. Among tourists on this flight, over 240 tourists will stay at resorts in Binh Thuan Province and the rest will stay in Khanh Hoa Province’s Nha Trang City and Ninh Thuan Province.

From late last month until next April, Pegas Touristik and Anh Duong arrange charter flights from Russia’s Far East and Serbia to Khanh Hoa every day. A charter flight of Nordwind Airlines with 278 passengers on board also arrived at Cam Ranh International Airport in Khanh Hoa on Wednesday.

Hoang Thi Phong Thu, chairwoman of Anh Duong Co., said that during the period, the firm would welcome around 100,000 Russian tourists coming to Vietnam on charter flights, doubling the figure of last year’s same period.

“However, good news is that from next April to October, which is the off-season, the estimated number of tourists will also reach 100,000,” she said.

Russians have become highly-potential customers for Vietnam’s tourism. Together with Anh Duong, many other travel firms such as Huong Giang, AT Travel and Focus Travel are ones having large numbers of tourists from the Russian market.

Russian tourists come to Vietnam not only on charter flights but also on flights of Vietnam Airlines and Aeroflot to HCM City.

According to the General Statistics Office, there have been over 174,000 Russian tourist arrivals in Vietnam this year, up 71.5% from last year.

Rice export prices stable at low levels

Rice export prices are stable at low levels now in the absence of large rice export orders, said rice exporters.

As bulk orders are few, Nguyen Van Tien, general director of An Giang Import Export Company (Angimex), said his firm would face many challenges early next year, especially when the winter-spring crop harvest is nearing.

As per the rice market information website Oryza, the offering prices of the 25% broken rice of Vietnam on Monday were US$375-385 per ton, US$5 lower than the same product of India and US$155 lower than Thai rice. Meanwhile, the 5% broken rice was priced at US$405-415 each ton, US$20 and US$130 lower than Indian and Thai rice respectively.

Compared to December 17, the prices on Monday had fallen an average US$5 per ton.

Recently, the Vietnam Food Association (VFA) has revised the export price of the 35% broken rice, applicable this Thursday. Based on rice prices at home and abroad, the FOB floor export price of the 35% broken rice is set at US$370 per ton.

According to VFA, in the first two weeks this month, local exporters delivered over 235,100 tons of rice, with a total value of US$107.6 million. Overall, Vietnam had exported more than 7.3 million tons of rice worth US$3.27 billion as of December 13.

Positive apparel, footwear orders for 2013

Local enterprises have obtained a stable number of apparel and footwear orders for the first few months of 2013, although some customers have yet to decide on volume or price.

Dang Phuong Dung, vice chairwoman and general secretary of the Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association (VITAS), said there are no specific statistics on enterprises’ orders for next year. However, some garment and textile firms have reported that the situation is better than in early 2012.

Nguyen Huu Toan, deputy general director of Saigon 2 Garment Joint Stock Company, said that customers have placed orders until June to supply the U.S., European and Japanese markets. However, they have yet to decide on prices.

A representative of Taiwan’s sport shoe producer Pou Yuen said that order volume varies from brands. In general, the situation in the final quarter of 2012 and the first half of 2013 has much improved after order volume slumped strongly earlier this year.

Truong Thi Thuy Lien, director of Lien Phat Shoe Company, said that sport shoe producers still fare well while sandals, women’s and kids’ shoe makers are facing challenges.

Lien Phat Company, which specializes in exporting women’s shoes, is still negotiating with customers and has yet to sign contracts. Therefore, difficulties will remain next year, Lien said.

Lien earlier said that the enterprises had been looking for Japanese customers given hardship in the EU market.

Though orders have been obtained, apparel and footwear firms may see low profits next year as customers who are having financial problems will not agree to high prices. Meanwhile, input costs keep rising with higher minimum pay rises and electricity price hikes.

According to the General Department of Customs, Vietnam’s apparel export value hit US$14.3 billion as of December 15, a 7.6% year-on-year rise, while footwear exports rose 11.7% to US$6.8 billion.

FDI (foreign direct investment) firms made large contributions to export revenue growth of the two sectors.

Ministry seeks to refund plastic-bag tax to local firms

Those companies that have paid environmental protection tax for plastic bags from the year’s beginning to last month might get the sum back if a proposal of the Ministry of Finance on the issue is approved by the Government.

The ministry’s office on Tuesday announced that the ministry had proposed the Government refund environmental tax to corporate taxpayers at the online meeting between the Government and localities on the same day.

As such, if the Government and the Prime Minister allow the suggestion to go ahead, local enterprises will be refunded environmental protection tax they had paid from January 1 to November 14 for plastic bags used for products’ package.

As per the Environmental Protection Tax Law effective from January 1, 2012 along with Decree 67/2011/NCD-CP and Circular 152/2011/TT-BTC, plastic bags including thin sheets made from HDPE, LDPE or LLDPE, exclusive of packages of commodities and plastic bags meeting environmentally friendly criteria, are subject to the tax.

The input cost of local exporters using plastic bags for packaging products has increased due to the regulations. Besides, domestic package makers’ business has been mired in difficulties as many firms have imported bags to evade tax.

The Government therefore had issued Decree 69/2012/ND-CP ruling that local enterprises would not be charged environmental tax from the middle of last month for commodity packages, exclusive of packages for imported commodities and those made by households and individuals to pack their own products.

However, a lot of enterprises before and after the decree’s issuance have still asked for the tax collection removal for plastic bags given their business difficulties. They proposed relevant authorities refund the amount they had paid from early this year to last month.

In response to such expectations, the finance ministry had officially sought approval from the Prime Minister for tax refund to help struggling enterprises.

Huge additional FDI capital poured in 2012

This year’s fresh foreign direct investment (FDI) attraction has continued falling sharply compared to last year but additional capital poured into operational FDI projects has surged, said the Foreign Investment Agency (FIA) under the Ministry of Planning and Investment.

FIA said in a recent report that the nation as of the middle of this month had attracted more than US$13 billion of FDI including both fresh and additional capital, tumbling 15.3% over the same period last year.

The number of new projects is 1,100 with total pledges of US$7.85 billion, slipping more than 35% over the year-ago period.

However, there have been 435 projects registering to raise capital by an additional US$5.15 billion, up a mere 7.4% in the number of projects while the increased capital marks up 58.5% year-on-year.

The result of fresh FDI capital, albeit low, is in line with expectations of local experts due to the current global economic woes and the planning ministry shifting its focus to FDI disbursement rather than new FDI capital commitments.

However, that many operational FDI enterprises have expanded operations with capital volumes higher than in 2011 despite the ongoing economic slump is beyond all predictions. The steep rise is all the more astonishing when expanded projects are no longer subject to tax incentives at home like fresh ones.

FIA noticed that several giant companies have still continued to raise huge investment capital such as the project to expand production of Wintek Vietnam Limited Co. in the northern province of Bac Giang. The producer of touch screens for iPad and iPhone products has poured an additional US$870 million into the plant specializing in export products.

Another impressive case is the project of Samsung Electronics Vietnam Limited Co. in Bac Ninh Industrial Park with a capital increase worth US$830 million.

Experts said the phenomenon is a spotlight in luring foreign investment in 2012, now that the planning ministry does not attach much importance to newly-registered capital, but the quality of projects and their disbursement progress.

The expanded projects are in most cases carried out faster than new ones, since only companies doing good business will continue to expand investment.

FDI projects have disbursed an estimated US$10.46 billion in 2012, FIA said. Although the result decreases by a slight 4.9% compared to last year, it still remains high in the present difficulty conditions.

Regarding business operations, the foreign investment sector has posted strong growth, FIA said. For instance, export value of the FDI sector including oil is predicted to reach US$72.29 billion, rising 31.2% year-on-year and accounting for 63.07% of the country’s total export value.

Import spending of the sector was US$60.33 billion, picking up 23.5% year-on-year and making up 52.76% of the total import value. The FDI sector in all 2012 has had a trade surplus of US$11.96 billion.

Processing and manufacturing industries have captured great attention from foreign investors this year with 498 newly-registered projects. Meanwhile, the total fresh and additional FDI capital for the industries is US$9.1 billion, or nearly 70% of the total.

Viettel urges issuance of cable TV service license

Viettel has asked the Ministry of Information and Communications for a license to provide cable TV service, said Nguyen Manh Hung, deputy general director of the military-run telecom firm.

He was speaking at a review conference held by the information ministry in Hanoi this Monday. This is the first time Viettel has voiced its proposal for the cable TV service license since it applied in February.

Deputy Minister of Information and Communications Tran Duc Lai said the ministry was considering submitting it to the Government for approval.

Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Thien Nhan said the information ministry should promptly support enterprises in need of providing new services. If feeling unsure about licensing these services immediately, the ministry could allow enterprises to pilot the services in one or two years and then make adjustments to the policies, he suggested.

He asked the ministry to report on this case no later than February 2013.

Minister of Information and Communications Nguyen Bac Son said the ministry would reply on the cable TV service license for Viettel in the next two months.

Pay TV is considered a very potential market because there are now only four million subscribers over 20 million households across the country. This is why Viettel, FPT and AVG have applied for cable TV service licenses.

In response to this move, the Vietnam Pay Television Association, VCTV and SCTV have sent a petition to the information ministry and the Central Commission for Propaganda and Education seeking a halt to licensing new cable TV service providers.

Decision 20 of the Prime Minister on management of pay TV specifies that cable TV service providers must have their own telecom infrastructure or use infrastructure of other firms under business agreements. Based on this condition, there are still chances for those currently applying for licenses to provide cable TV service.

There are now 47 cable TV service providers nationwide, including many small and weak ones. The strict regulations on licensing are aimed to filter out the competent enterprises, ensuring sustainable development of the market in the long term.

Hawa mulls opening furniture distribution outlets at home

The Handicraft & Wood Industry Association of HCMC (Hawa) is studying a scheme to open furniture outlets at residential areas to improve consumption of products in the local market.

Speaking at a seminar organized by Hawa on Tuesday, enterprises suggested that stores should be opened at condo and office buildings besides the current furniture retail and wholesale systems on the market.

Tran Viet Tien, director of Gia Long Fine Art Joint Stock Company, said that there is a huge potential for furniture sales in these areas. However, enterprises should pay attention to prices as this factor will determine the competition between domestic products and imported ones.

This scheme aims to help exporters in the woodworking industry improve domestic revenues. Hawa expected that furniture sales in the local market may reach US$2.5 billion a year.

A problem of exporters in returning to the local market is competition with large foreign importers and distributors from Thailand and Malaysia.

Bid invitation for Metro Line No. 2 slated for 2013

An international bid invitation for Metro Line No. 2 in HCMC will be held next year so that the project can get off the ground the following year, said the project owner.

Nguyen Van Quoc, deputy director of the HCMC Management Authority for Urban Railways, told the Daily that his agency was finalizing the basic design for the metro line to serve technical design bidders.

To build 10 metro stations, some 1,000 households are to be relocated. The city government on Monday asked Quoc’s agency to join hands with relevant agencies to seek the optimal ways to locate Tao Dan Station, Le Thi Rieng Station and some other stations of Metro Line No. 2 to minimize the number of affected households.

In addition, the city government requested the HCMC Department of Planning and Architecture to complete the urban underground space planning schemes for the two major intersections along the route no later than June 2013.

The HCMC Department of Planning and Architecture was also told to quickly finish urban underground space planning associated with metro lines, especially metro stations.

On August 24, the HCMC Management Authority for Urban Railways began fencing and ground leveling for the Metro Line No. 2 in District 12.

The line stretching from Ben Thanh to Tham Luong with a total cost of VND23.7 trillion will be funded by ODA of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the German Development Bank (KfW) and reciprocal capital from the State budget.

Metro Line No. 2, from the northwest to the southeast, will start from Tay Ninh Bus Station, running along Truong Chinh, Cach Mang Thang Tam and Pham Hong Thai streets to Ben Thanh Station before crossing the Saigon River to Thu Thiem New Urban Area in District 2.

KOICA suggests priority for bus rapid transit project

Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) has suggested HCMC set up eight new bus rapid transit (BRT) projects to improve the city’s traffic situation.

KOICA proposes prioritizing the establishment of the Bus Route No. 7 connecting Ben Thanh Market in District 1 and An Suong Coach Station in District 12, saying the number of passengers on this route is pretty large.

The agency presented this proposal at a seminar which is the last to report studies of the feasibility of the BRT system in HCMC that KOICA and the municipal Department of Transport jointly organized in the city on Wednesday.

At the seminar, a representative of KOICA suggested arranging eight BRT routes on existing streets in HCMC with a total length of 127.1 kilometers, with priority given to the Bus Route No. 7 to serve a huge number of passengers traveling from Ben Thanh Market and Tan Binh District’s Tan Son Nhat International Airport.

As per KOICA’s calculation, the expense for BRT development is quite cheap. For instance, eight BRT projects will cost a combined VND869 billion, with every kilometer requiring around VND1.34 billion only.

The opening of BRT routes in the city is mainly based on the existing roads and minimizes road expansion. On routes running through the city’s center, BRT vehicles and motorbikes will be allowed to share one traffic lane due to costly investment for road expansion.

To operate BRT services effectively, KOICA asked for construction of parking areas around bus stations to encourage locals to use the services. But with the present fare of VND5,000 for a single trip, the State will have to give subsidies to this kind of transport service, KOICA noted.

Duong Hong Thanh, deputy director of the transport department, told the seminar that the city from now to 2020 will only be able to construct two metro lines since the others are now lacking capital. Local passengers’ main gripes about the current bus system are unpunctuality and slow moving and these problems should be addressed by the BRT system, he said.

The application of BRT services in other countries is very successful thanks to their separate lanes on roads. However, as up to 90% of HCMC residents travel by motorbikes, setting up a separate lane for BRT services is a tough sell, Thanh stated.

As for the Bus Route No.7 as suggested by KOICA, Thanh said it is possible for the service to run from An Suong Coach Station to Cong Hoa Street as the road face there is wide but he deemed it difficult to have the bus operational from Cong Hoa Street to Ben Thanh given a narrower route. Therefore, he said, the city will have to design separate sections for buses on this route when developing the BRT system.

HCMC plans to start construction of a BRT route on East-West Highway from Mien Tay Coach Station in District 6 to Thu Thiem Urban Area in District 2 in around 12 months’ time. The city is looking to meet 15% of local travel demand with public transport services by 2015 and 20% by 2020.

BRT services use large vehicles which hold two to three times more passengers than normal buses.

Agro-forestry-aquatic exports hit US$27.5 billion

The total export value of agro-forestry-aquatic products is estimated at over US$27.5 billion, rising 9.7% year-on-year, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development reports.

Meanwhile, the total import spending of certain major farm products is put at over US$16.9 billion, resulting in a trade surplus of US$10.6 billion for the agricultural sector in all 2012.

Export value of such products as coffee, cassava, pepper and tea have still maintained stable growth this year. Coffee exports have brought home some US$3.74 billion worth of 1.76 million tons, a surge of 40% in volume and 36% in value compared to the same period last year.

The coffee export price averages out at US$2,137 a ton, which is lower than that of last year but still stays high, bringing considerable profits for coffee farmers. The two largest importers of Vietnamese coffee are the United States buying 12% of volume and Germany with nearly 12%.

It is noted that coffee shipments bound for the Indonesian market has recorded an impressive growth when jumping by 5.6 times in volume and value over the year-ago period.

Similarly, rubber exports this month reached 117,000 tons valued at US$304 million, taking the 2012 export volume to 1.02 million tons worth US$2.85 billion, up 25% in volume but down 11.7% in value. The average rubber export price in this year’s January-November was US$2,816 a ton, slipping 31.4% year-on-year.

Pepper export volume of 2012 is forecast at 118,000 tons with a combined value of US$802 million, shrinking 4.3% in volume but marking up 9.6% in value. Pepper is exported at an average US$6,792 a ton, picking up 15.8% over 2011.

Cashew exports of the whole year are valued at US$1.48 billion worth of some 223,000 tons, growing nearly 25.4% in volume and 0.7% in value. Vietnam remains the top cashew exporter, with the U.S., China and the Netherlands being its major buyers.

The country has shipped about 8.1 million tons of rice abroad worth US$3.7 billion this year, jumping nearly 14% in volume but rising a mere 2.1% in value year-on-year due to the falling export price.

In the meantime, seafood exports have fetched US$6.15 billion, inching up 0.7% compared to 2011. The U.S. has still been the largest importer of Vietnamese seafood with a market share of around 19.5%, followed by Japan with roughly 18% and South Korea with about 8%.

More localities seek to issue bonds

After the Ministry of Finance approved the bond issuance plan of Danang, many localities have asked for permission to issue bonds.

Speaking at the Government meeting on the key measures to implement the socio-economic development plan for 2013 on Tuesday, Binh Duong Chairman Le Thanh Cung proposed the Government allow his province to issue local government bonds in the period 2013-2015.

To generate funds for budget spending, he sought a special mechanism for his province to raise an amount of capital via bond sale twice as much as the total annual investment by the local budget in estimate. Currently, the State Budget Law stipulates that the capital volume borrowed by a locality before and after bond issuance must not exceed 30% of the annual budget for capital construction of that locality.

Meanwhile, Hanoi Vice Chairman Nguyen Huy Tuong said the Hanoi People’s Council had passed a plan for local government bond issuance from 2013. Under this plan, Hanoi looks to mobilize VND5 trillion in the next three years for infrastructure development projects.

The finance ministry is assessing a plan of Bac Ninh for issuance of VND1 trillion worth of bonds. Meanwhile, Danang will go ahead with its plan to issue VND5 trillion of bonds in 2013.

In addition to the aforesaid localities, a number of localities in the northwest region are drawing up their bond plans. HCMC is now the only locality to have raised funds through the bond channel.

As per a report of the Government on public debts, local government debts in late 2011 stood at around 1% of the total outstanding loans and 0.5% of GDP.

At present, local governments owe the Vietnam Development Bank (VDB) nearly VND9 trillion, which is sourced from government-guaranteed bonds. Moreover, they receive over VND5.1 trillion in advance from the State Treasury.

HOSE upgrades IT infrastructure

Hochiminh Stock Exchange (HOSE) and Korea Exchange (KRX) signed a contract worth over US$28.6 million on Wednesday to install world-class information technology (IT) infrastructure at HOSE.

KRX will design, give solutions and transfer technologies and build up IT system at the local exchange within five years. The system will be connected to the Hanoi Stock Exchange (HNX) and the Vietnam Securities Depository.

This project aims to improve HOSE’s capability in processing data of the stock market, securing continuous operation and stability of the information system.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, Vu Bang, chairman of the State Securities Commission (SSC), said that these technology solutions will help support all operations of the local stock market including transaction, supervision, market information, custody, registration and clearance.

The system is expected to start operating in the first quarter of 2015, replacing the current IT infrastructure of the local market.

A representative of SSC said that a restructuring plan will be submitted to the Ministry of Finance early next year. Accordingly, HOSE and HNX will be merged to create a market with two exchanges, sharing the same management mechanism and IT infrastructure.

HCM City’s apparel industry in need of huge manpower

The HCMC Department of Industry and Trade has completed the development planning for the textile-garment industry until 2020 and a vision towards 2030, with around 20,000 laborers needed from now till 2020.

Although the textile-garment industry in HCMC has tended to move facilities to neighboring provinces such as Long An, Tay Ninh, Binh Duong and Dong Nai to reduce the labor pressure, the number of textile-garment laborers in HCMC is still high.

According to the department, the apparel production in HCMC has nearly 15,000 facilities with around 353,000 laborers. Besides, the city also has nearly 3,300 textile and dyeing facilities with over 70,000 laborers.

According to the draft planning, HCMC will need a large amount of investment for the textile-garment industry from now until 2025, with an average estimated at some VND2.5 trillion per year. Among such huge amount, capital of local enterprises will account for 50% while foreign-invested enterprises and commercial loans will account for 30% and 20% respectively.

HCMC will continue to invest in yarn, garment, textile and dyeing plants and will relocate big dyeing and garment plants to industrial zones in neighboring provinces until 2015.

The city’s volume of textile and garment products in 2015 will rise by 53 million products, which is equivalent to 17 plants having an annual production capacity of three million products each.

Besides, HCMC will upgrade Tan Binh, Dai Quang Minh and Soai Kinh Lam wholesale markets which will supply materials for the textile-garment of the city as well as of the country.

Existing textile and garment facilities in districts 1, 3, 5 and 10 will not be expanded, but the city will focus investments on small tailors’ shops and showrooms having an area of 500-1,000 square meters.

According to the draft planning, the production volume of the textile-garment industry will increase strongly from 105,000 tons of yarn produced last year to 250,000 tons in 2025, from 430 million meters of fabric to 700 million meters and from nearly 900 million garment products to 1.13 billion products.

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