BUSINESS IN BRIEF 10/11

VN, Japan businesses enhance connectivity

A programme to promote connectivity between Vietnamese and Japanese businesses operating in mechanical engineering, food processing, woodworks, plastics and real estate was launched here on Wednesday.

Municipal Investment and Trade Promotion Centre (ITPC) said the event created a chance for businesses to seek new partners and exchange delegations to promote marketing and investment environment research.

Isao Obayashi, general secretary of the Japan Business Association in HCM City (JBHA), said the programme helped Vietnamese firms improve product quality and sharpen competitiveness to penetrate the Japanese market.

The event was co-organised by ITPC, JBAH and the Japan External Trade Organisation.

Mekong Delta expects rise in industrial production

Mekong Delta provinces expected their industrial production value to grow 18 per cent this year to reach VND495 trillion (US$23.27 billion).

The value for the first 10 months stood at over VND371 trillion ($17.43 billion).

This year, Mekong Delta focused on improving competitiveness and efficiency, said the steering committee for the west-southern region. It also concentrated on developing industries of its strength such as seafood, rice, garment and textile, beverage, animal feed, fertilizer and cement.

European firms split on economic outlook

Business confidence among European firms in Viet Nam remained unchanged for the third year in a row, with exactly half of businesses being confident about the future.

This was the result of the 13th quarterly EuroCham Business Climate Index (BCI) survey, which was released on Wednesday.

However, investment plans and business orders are expected to increase, thus boosting recruitment, and inflation is likely to have a decreased impact on business, according to the report.

More respondents expected to increase investment in Viet Nam, with the figure jumping from 34 per cent last quarter to 41 per cent this quarter. Furthermore, the rate of respondents planning to "significantly increase investments" doubled from last quarter's 8 per cent. In line with this development, the expected number of business orders continued growing to 67 per cent.

Respondents remained conflicted about the macro-economic outlook, with 47 per cent expecting "stabilisation and improvement" and 35 per cent expecting no change. The findings demonstrate that initiatives undertaken by the Government to reduce inflation have been effective, as the number of respondents expecting inflation to have a "significant or threatening impact" on their business substantially declined (29 per cent compared to 43 per cent last quarter and 50 per cent last year).

EuroCham Chairman Preben Hjortlund said it was worrisome to see the BCI come out at 50 per cent for the third year in a row; moreover, he found it interesting to see that so many respondents feared that legislative changes would negatively impact their business in 2014.

"This clearly demonstrates the need to incorporate the business community in the legislative process and to take their opinions into account in order to avoid legislation having perverse effects when implemented. Finally, it is important to note the high level of respondents calling for the Vietnamese Government to take note of the Whitebook 2014, which will be published on November 11," he said.

Since its establishment with only 60 members in 1998, the European Chamber of Commerce in Viet Nam (EuroCham) has grown to represent more than 750 European businesses, counting among its supporters many of the world's leading enterprises.

Ad agency creates ‘anxiety' rating

International advertising agency JWT has unveiled the AnxietyIndex, a global study on consumer anxiety and impact on brands and businesses.

It tracks consumer anxiety and its drivers, and examines how that influences business and marketing in 27 countries.

Ann Mack, director of trendspotting at JWT, said when consumers are anxious they tend to exert more control over areas of their life that are within their control.

"Often control applies to brand and product choices, this means brand owners must understand their consumers' anxieties and address them proactively."

Saby Mishra, CEO of JWT Viet Nam, said: "In uncertain times companies need data to help them navigate a rapidly changing marketplace.

"We aim to uncover insights that help inform business strategy during times of low."

The report found Singaporeans fretting most over the cost of living and Thais worrying about natural disasters.

Indonesians are most worried about the stock markets and corruption while Indians could be happier if gasoline prices were reined in and the world got its act together on global warming.

The study examines safety and security concerns, economic worries such as the cost of health care, the cost of living, and job security.

People in Pakistan are most anxious overall, with 92 per cent of the respondents worried about issues that range from the cost of everyday essentials to crime.

Globally, residents of the Middle East and Africa are most worried at 82 per cent of the total respondents, while south and Southeast Asia fare better at 63 per cent. That compares with a global average of 71 per cent.

Of the individual factors, the cost of living generates the greatest anxiety, specifically driven by concern about the prices of everyday essentials such as food and gas. Unemployment is also driving anxiety around the world.

Asian workers need clear career path

Eighty per cent of professionals in Asia have left a position because of a lack of clear career progression, according to the latest white paper from Robert Walters, one of the world's leading specialist recruitment consultancies.

The white paper, titled Using Career Progression To Recruit the Best Professionals, is the first in the Robert Walters Focus Asia white paper series which aims to examine talent management issues that have a critical impact on business performance.

It surveyed over 1,300 professionals and hiring managers across China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Viet Nam.

The survey results showed that 74 per cent of job seekers deemed career progression "very important" when considering new job opportunities.

Most professionals (85 per cent) enquired specifically about career progression during the interview process.

Thirty-three per cent of job seekers regarded "expanded portfolio and work experience" as their most valued career progression initiative.

A majority of organisations (78 per cent) offered career progression in the form of international mobility among their global offices.

Fifty-four per cent of professionals said their organisations "mostly" followed through with the career progression they advertised for the position.

Ten per cent said "always", while 36 per cent did not believe organisations followed through.

Mark Ellwood, managing director of Southeast Asia for Robert Walters, said: "The results reveal that a clearly defined career path is a strong advantage in attracting and retaining the industry's best professionals."

Robert Walters has a network of 53 offices spanning 24 countries, including the UK, Ireland, continental Europe, the US, Australia, New Zealand, Asia, South Africa and Brazil.

Steel oversupply defies weak demand

Steel makers in Viet Nam are expected to produce 10 million tonnes of steel in 2013, up 8.5 per cent year-on-year, even though the real estate market remains frozen.

The Viet Nam Steel Association (VSA) attributed the contradiction to the imbalance between supply and demand.

"While the real estate sector, the main consumer of steel products, is still in the red, massive amounts of cheap imports from China caused an oversupply and forced many steel companies to scale down production or even halt operations," said VSA chairman Pham Chi Cuong.

Speaking at a VSA meeting on Wednesday, Cuong called on steel makers to work together to overcome these difficulties and avoid unhealthy competition.

Construction steel sales in September declined 3.87 per cent against August and 2.29 per cent year-on-year to 353,792 tonnes, according to the association.

Production in the same month also fell 9.46 per cent from August and 7.43 per cent against September 2012 to 347,780 tonnes.

However, in the first nine months of this year, production reached 3.36 million tonnes, a marginal increase of 0.02 per cent against the same period last year, while consumption rose 2.46 per cent to 3.38 million tonnes.

The steel inventory reached 317,504 tonnes in the first nine months of this year. Producers had a steel ingot inventory of 520,000 tonnes, which was expected to meet production demand in the coming months.

Meanwhile, the association said the building season got off to a slow start in September, as many storms and floods hampered projects.

VSA expected steel prices to remain stable, while production and consumption would also see little change in the coming months.

Garment, textile exports to reach $19bn ahead of TPP

Viet Nam's garment and textile export turnover is expected to hit US$19 billion this year, $1 billion higher than the set target.

According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the January-October figure was estimated at $14.8 billion, representing a year-on-year increase of 18.7 percent.

The Republic of Korea, the US and Japan were the biggest importers of Vietnamese products, posting growth rates of 68 per cent, 37 percent and 35 per cent, respectively, against the same period last year.

Local textile and garment companies are anticipating the success of the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, which should promote export turnover to several markets, especially the US, thanks to zero export duties.

Industry insiders said participation in the agreement would create favourable conditions to boost Viet Nam's textile and garment sector as the third key industry of the country.

However, businesses said that they had to compete with rivals from other textile producing countries in buying materials and that material suppliers took the advantage of material shortages to increase material prices by 10-15 per cent. These problems affected the accomplishment of orders, they added.

The Viet Nam National Textile and Garment Group (Vinatex) is accelerating investment in the central region of the country as part of the national strategy for the garment and textile industry until 2020.

In a recent working trip to central Nghe An Province, Vinatex general director Tran Quang Nghi said the region would be a destination for many large projects due to their advantageous geographical positions, developed traffic systems and abundant human resources.

"The group will invest in Nghe An so that it will become a regional garment and textile centre, which is especially important as Viet Nam prepares to enter new free trade agreements," he said.

Ha Noi Textile Garment Corp (Hanosimex) deputy general director Nguyen Song Hai said central Nghe An, Ha Tinh and Thua Thien – Hue provinces would be strategic investment areas for the Vinatex affiliate in the coming years, with local incentives stimulating their investment.

In Nghe An, the corporation poured about VND700 billion ($33.33 million) into new projects in the last two years and opened two textile mills with a combined annual capacity of 8.7 million products in April.

The firm was finalising procedures to build another VND152 billion ($7.24 million) cotton mill in the province's Nam Dan District in the first quarter of next year. The facility would produce 4,000 tonnes of cloth per year when operational, according to Hai.

Garment 10, another Vinatex member company, said it was in the final phase of an expansion of the Quang Binh-based Ha Quang factory, which produces shirts for export.

Vinatex said it was also completing procedures to build a VND205 billion ($9.76 million) vest factory, Vinatex Bong Son Garment, in Binh Dinh Province's Hoai Nhon District. Vinatex Bong Son Garment Co Ltd had been established and local authorities had agreed to rent land for implementing the project.

Conference links producers, distributors

More than 300 enterprises, co-operatives, and craft villages in HCM City and 20 southern provinces met with large city-based distributors at a conference and exhibition yesterday to exchange information and establish links.

Organised by the Department of Industry and Trade of HCM City and the 20 provinces and cities, "Connecting producers and distributors" aimed at helping enterprises, co-operatives, and craft villages bring their products into the city's distribution system, Le Ngoc Dao, its deputy director, said.

She said last year 14 provinces and 200 companies attended the first event and signed 43 contracts with supermarkets like Co-opmart, Citimart, Maximark and Big C.

Following its success, the event this year features 70 booths, double last year's number.

The products on display include farm produce, foodstuff, processed foods, confectionery, beverages, and local specialities, she said.

"The event also attracted wholesale markets, restaurants, hotels, and eateries from the city and northern provinces," she said.

Producers and distributors compared notes about quality requirements, raw materials, and localities' specialities.

Chau Minh Nguyen, deputy director of the Dong Nai Province Department of Industry and Trade, said the province has strength in cattle and poultry farming and consumed only 20-30 per cent of its output, with the rest being mainly sold to HCM City.

Nguyen said "the province wants to continue its co-operation with the city's distributors, hotels, and restaurants to help its co-operatives and producers have stable outlets."

Long An Province sought to promote its specialities like Huyet Rong rice, Thuan Binh seedless lemon, Vinh Huong fish sauce, and Go Den wine to HCM City establishments.

Le Truong An, owner of a company processing and selling edible lotus seeds in Dong Thap Province, was making a pitch for his products.

Bui Hanh Thu, deputy general director of Saigon Co.op, said with consumers raising the bar for hygiene and food safety standards, producers should ensure their products meet those quality standards and their products have clear origins. Producers should improve packaging, she said.

Ha Noi vows to move up on PCI list

The Ha Noi People's Committee and the Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) yesterday signed a co-operation agreement to raise the city's provincial competitiveness index (PCI) rankings.

At the signing ceremony, VCCI vice president Pham Gia Tuc spoke highly of the city's determination and effort in boosting its PCI, saying that his agency will work closely with Ha Noi to attract more investment, thus further promoting the city's development.

However, Tuc also noted that the two sides need to define specific plans such as holding workshops and conferences to collect opinions for improving the index.

Municipal People's Committee vice chairman Nguyen Van Suu said the signing will create favourable conditions for Ha Noi to improve the environment for investment, production and business to quickly raise its PCI.

The city's leaders always considered this as an important task, which was included into its action plans in following years, he added.

According to a survey conducted by the VCCI, the city ranked 51st out of the country's 63 provinces and cities last year, 15 places lower than its PCI position in 2011.

The PCI programme is part of the US Agency for International Development's Viet Nam Competitiveness Initiative, which has been implemented since 2005.

Eximbank awaits SSC ruling on buy-back

Eximbank planned to buy back nearly 61.78 million shares, equivalent to 5 per cent of its total common shares, bank chairman Le Hung Dung said on Tuesday.

The bank would use capital from its share holdings, development reserves and undistributed profits for the repurchase.

It has authorised Viet Dragon Securities Co as an agent for share trading.

Dung said the bank was waiting for a response from the State Securities Commission to fix the time for the transactions, adding that it would hold the repurchased shares for six months to five years.

Eximbank shares are being traded at about VND13,500 (US$0.65) per share on the HCM City bourse. This means the bank is expected to spend VND830 billion ($39.52 million) on the re-acquisition.

The bank has not yet announced third-quarter business results, but a recent Bao Viet Securities Co report estimated its pre-tax profits would be about VND447 billion ($21.28 million), a 21 per cent decline over the same period last year.

The report said Eximbank had stable asset quality and a high capital security level, and its lending situation was expected to improve with acceleration in loans for importers/exporters, small traders and individual customers.

Recent changes in key personnel, an increase of Eximbank equity in Sacombank to more than 10 per cent, plus large put-through transactions carried out in September, could affect management and business plans. The report added that this was an unknown factor that required investor attention.

Bad debts were estimated to account for 1.56 per cent of Eximbank's total outstanding loans at the end of Q3, according to the brokerage.

Incomplete resort opens, posing risks for tourists

A five-star ranked resort in Danang City has been put into operation despite it not having being completed, posing danger to hundreds of travellers each day.

Olalani Resort, invested by My Phat Joint Stock Company, became operational in June 2013 without local authorities’ permission. A staff member from the resort said a number of rooms in the resort remain incomplete due to capital shortage. Many rooms do not have a TV, curtains and still lack tables and chairs.

However, in order to start earning profits, the investor started recruiting staff for the hotel. The investor has also signed contracts with tourist companies to take in visitors, mostly foreigners, and they have begun a promotion campaign.

The violations have led to public outrage, as Danang is famous for safe tourism. The resort has hundreds of rooms that have been put into use despite receiving no approval from local authorities. They have not been cleared for meeting the requirements of fire prevention and control, security or wastewater discharge.

Speaking with a reporter from VietnamNet, the Danang Fire Prevention and Control Department said the department has fined the company’s chairman, Pham Xuan Duc, VND25 million (USD1,190) for the violation. However, Duc continues operates the resort, putting thousands of tourists at risk.

Not only the fire prevention and control system but a number of other facilities are incomplete.

The Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee, Van Huu Chien, has urged local management agencies to investigate the case of Olalani Resort and to report their results before November 10.

HCM City pushes for trade cooperation with southern provinces

HCM City authorities have started a new programme to introduce agricultural products from 20 neighbouring provinces into the city's supermarkets.

The programme was started on November 7 by the departments of industry and trade in HCM City and 20 neighouring provinces. This is a part of a larger trade and services cooperation agreement between Ho Chi Minh City, the Southern-Eastern regions and the Mekong Delta for the period 2011-2015.

Through the programme, the local departments of industry and trade will be able to take into account suggestions and act as a bridge to solve any problems between producers and distributors. Agricultural products, especially those that meet VietGAP standards, will be given priority in supermarkets.

"Since the first cooperative programme was successfully completed in 2012, there have been 21 provinces in the southern region that have rejoined. In addition, 10 enterprises and several distributors based in the north have also registered to our programme," said Le Ngoc Dao, Vice Director of the HCM City Department of Industry and Trade. "This year, we've sent all information about producers and their products to the distributors so they can easily choose and sign contracts."

In order to attract customers, the distributors and local provincial authorities will continue to help producers promote and improve their products. After the first programme, several products sold very well, such as coconut candies from Ben Tre and Hong Sen Tuu wine from Dong Thap Province.

"In near future, we, along with the Saigon Union of Trading Co-operative, will hold a conference to discuss about promotion and development for local commodities." Dao said.

Other provinces in the southern region will also begin to hold similar cooperative programmes to stabilise market prices and create more jobs.

Motorcycle market runs down

The local motorcycle market has so far this year going down with sales contracting sharply, though certain distributors have marked up prices of some makes to cash in on the peak season of shopping.

No statistics about the entire motorcycle market are available, but traders agreed that sales have tumbled by 30% to 40% compared to the same period of 2012, a year that already started to see falling demand.

Distributors of such manufacturers as Kymco, Yamaha, Suzuki and SYM asserted that sales had fallen by 40% to 50% compared to the year-ago period.

A HCMC-based distributor of Honda Vietnam, commonly known as HEAD, told the Daily that sales had tumbled 30% year on year, and “most distributors have to sacrifice discounts offered by Honda Vietnam so as to offer softer prices for customers.” The distributor said most sales agents are now relying on repair services to gain profits.

In fact, Honda distributors have offered prices lower than levels suggested by the manufacturer so as to boost sales, a situation that has taken place for many months now.

For example, the scooter Honda Airblade that was much sought after on the domestic market in the past four years is no longer appealing to consumers anymore. Last month, Honda Vietnam launched a promotional program, discounting VND1 million for each scooter, but distributors are now offering VND500,000 as an additional incentive for customers.

Distributors said the economic slowdown has discouraged consumers from buying new motorcycles though the peak season is coming.

Despite the gloomy situation, Honda distributors have marked up prices of some popular makes, especially SH Mode, SH and Lead, to earn more in the final months of the year.

SH Mode and Lead scooters are now priced some VND3 million and VND2 million a unit higher than the retail price suggested by Honda Vietnam, while SH 125i is sold at a margin of VND5-6 million.

Honda Vietnam said the prices were driven higher due to the rising demand from students upon the new school year, while the final months of the year also ushers in the peak season of shopping.

The manufacturer said prices are determined by supply and demand, and during the low season, distributors often slash prices to attract buyers. The higher prices now are for distributors to make up for the shortfall earlier this year when distributors had to cut prices.

Canada drug firm enters Vietnam

Canada’s biggest drug firm Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. on Wednesday formally announced its acquisition of a majority stake worth US$21 million in Vietnam’s Euvipharm.

Andrew Howden, CEO of iNova as a member of Valeant Group that makes and supplies many kinds of drugs in the dermatology, nerve and infection areas, said the group chose Vietnam as a highly potential market as Valeant was seeking to tap the Southeast Asian market. He said his group had spent more than one year examining the local partner Euvipharm before making the deal.

Howden said that production workshops at Long An-based Euvipharm are equipped with modern technology enabling the Canadian group to research and manufacture high-quality drugs in the country.

Howden did not specify the exact stake the group now holds in Euvipharm, but said it was more than 50%.

Japanese investors encourage policy improvements

Japanese investors are urging the Vietnamese government to further improve the investment climate to attract Japan’s small and medium-sized enterprises.

69 representatives from 52 Japanese multinationals and small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) attended a meeting last week with the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI) to propose measures that could further enhance Vietnam’s investment environment.

“Vietnam is not the most competitive nation for foreign direct investment (FDI) at this time because of many unattractive regulations,” said Naoki Sugiura, director of corporate planning at Panasonic Vietnam.

Though Japan is the biggest source of FDI in Vietnam this year to date with $4.84 billion, 25.2 per cent of the total, investors say this pales in comparison with neighbouring countries like Thailand and Indonesia.

“From my perspective there are three issues deterring investors here. Firstly, incentives for the manufacturing industry, particularly supporting industries, are not good enough. Secondly, administrative procedures are too complicated. Finally, there is no consistency in the co-operation between state agencies,” said Sugiura.

He added that Vietnam should promote investment to Japanese SMEs to help develop local supporting industries.

“I heard Vietnam wants to attract more hi-tech investment from multinational companies, and also wants to benefit from technology transfer. But to do that you have to first develop supporting industries,” said Sugiura.

The Vietnamese government has acknowledged the importance of foreign SMEs in national development with MPI Minister Bui Quang Vinh stating in the meeting that Vietnam planned to not only focus on multinationals, but to also prioritise foreign SMEs.

In a bid to generate interest from Japanese SMEs, the two countries signed an industrialisation strategy focusing on six important industries – electronics, agricultural machinery, agricultural and seafood processing, ship building, automobile manufacturing, and environment and energy.

“Vietnam needs to build a system that creates an industrial structure with high value added elements that can be incorporated into its industrialisation strategy and an action plan for policies that will foster supporting industries, build a domestic supply chain, and expand the percentage of parts and other items that are sourced locally,” said Kohei Wantanabe, chairman of the Japan-Mekong Business Cooperation Committee and leader of the delegation to the MPI last week.

Wantanabe, who is also senior corporate advisor of the Itochu Corporation, said many Japanese SMEs want to relocate their manufacturing facilities from China and Japan to Vietnam, but were hesitant given the current investment climate.

“We are concerned by import tax refunds in Vietnam. It generally takes a long time to get a refund and this turns away SMEs as they lack financial strength,” said Mitsuhiko Lino, president of Toyo Drilube which is building a manufacturing facility in Vietnam to supply clients such as Toyota and Honda.

Tax is not the only issue. Kenichiro Nishikawa, general director of Toyota Tsusho Vietnam, said administrative procedures should be simplified and the country should focus on training human resources to attract and supply supporting industries.

“The competition between Asian nations is tough and if Vietnam fails to create favourable environment, Japanese SMEs will choose other countries to invest in,” Nishikawa added.

Condo division not a wise solution: experts

Some experts have cast doubt on the success of real estate enterprises’ reduction of condo sizes to clear stockpiles, saying that the solution may only help reduce financial burden of homebuyers while it still fails to drag down house prices.

The current Housing Law requires commercial apartments to be at least 45 square meters each. However, given the amended Housing Law the Ministry of Construction is fielding suggestions for, housing developers in Vietnam will get the green light to divide large apartments into smaller units for which they expect greater demand.

Some have raised concerns over huge supply of small-sized condos in the future given large apartment stockpiles in the country. According to the ministry, the nation saw a condo stockpile of around 27,800 units as of June, including nearly 6,200 units in Hanoi City and 12,600 units in HCMC.

Phan Thanh Mai, general secretary of the Vietnam Real Estate Association, said that apartments around the world are usually measured at 30 to 50 square meters each while a commercial condo in Vietnam is around 70 square meters. With limited finances, most customers cannot afford large apartments.

“In my opinion, investors should be allowed to choose condo sizes following market demands,” Mai said.

Pham Trung Ha, general director of Hoa Phat Land, said that if investors can decide condo sizes, the real estate market will see positive impacts.

This solution will help enterprises speed up sales and improve market liquidity. Hoa Phat Land also has plans to convert some projects into small-sized condos to reduce investment expenses.

According to the Ministry of Construction, investors registered to convert over 50 commercial projects into budget home projects as of August 31. Enterprises also sought approval to revise sizes of 6,000 commercial condos of 22 projects to turn out over 8,300 apartments.

However, many experts said that division of condos into smaller units will not help reduce prices. In contrast, condo prices may increase given this solution.

Tran Minh Tri, deputy director of Thu Do Trade and Investment Joint Stock Company, said that this solution will only support homebuyers. Meanwhile, enterprises cannot cut investment costs and have to spend more on re-building condo projects. Only firms building new projects can save construction expenses.

Some even said that this solution actually cannot help reduce sales prices per square meter although the total value of a condo has been lowered.

Nguyen Quoc Hung, director of a real estate trading center in Hanoi City’s My Dinh District, said building smaller apartment units would lead prices per unit to slide but the cost of each square meter built is not lower, or even higher than medium-sized apartments.

For instance, a condo measured at 53 square meters in Xa La is offered at around VND20-22 million per square meter, much higher than the per square meter price of a 70-square-meter unit.

Can Tho Univ., Party’s Economic Commission join forces

Can Tho University in the Mekong Delta city of the same name and the Central Party’s Economic Commission on Wednesday clinched an agreement on research, under which the university will conduct research on agriculture.

Key contents of the agreement include research on theory and reality of socio-economic development in Vietnam, building up socio-economic development projects for the Mekong Delta regarding marine economy, climate change and tourism, and organization of conferences on the economy.

Bui Van Thanh, deputy chief of the Economic Commission, said after the signing that the commission will send the university a list of projects, focusing on agriculture and rural development, especially agricultural restructuring and introduction of science and technology advancements.

Ha Thanh Toan, principal of the university, suggested research areas to include development of rice and fruit farming, fishery and environment.

Malaysian firms turn their eyes to Quang Ninh

The top leader of the Malaysia-based Shin Yang Group of Companies has expressed his desire for more business opportunities in shipbuilding, road construction, hotels, trade centres and the processing industry in the northern province of Quang Ninh.

Chairman Tan Sri Ling Chiong Ho, leading a delegation from the Malaysian Ministry of Plantation Industry and Commodities to Vietnam, made the point at a working session with the provincial People’s Committee on November 4.

He said Malaysian investors wish for all possible support to do business in the locality.

The guest noted that his visit is to learn more about Quang Ninh and its system of seaports.

Thai Binh targets additional 1,350 SMEs by 2015

The Red River Delta province of Thai Binh is expected to increase its number of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) by 1,350 between now and 2015 in a bid to step up the development of these types of businesses and raise their contribution to provincial growth and economic restructuring.

Under the plan, SMEs in Thai Binh will reach 4,688 in the reviewed period while the investment of these enterprises will account for around 14 percent of the province’s total social investment.

The SME sector will contribute 13.21 percent of the province’s annual GDP growth and 1.59 trillion VND (74.73 million USD) of local budget as well as earn about 1.2 billion USD from exports, equivalent to 50 percent of local export turnover.

To realise the goal, Thai Binh will give priority to expanding its SMEs in all fields, focusing on high value-added and competitive products.

The province will also promote the reform of administrative formalities in business and investment registration and direct local banks to lower lending rates to stimulate the sector’s business and exports.

In addition, more industrial parks and clusters with convenient facilities will be established to boost SME investment. The province also supports these firms to improve their technical level and apply advanced technologies to raise productivity, quality and competitiveness of products in domestic and foreign markets.

As of the end of 2012, Thai Binh had over 3,300 SMEs, making up more than 90 percent of the province’s total number of enterprises, noted the provincial Department of Planning and Investment. The sector contributes more than 500 billion VND (23.5 million USD) of Thai Binh’s annual budget while raising about 350 million USD from exports and generating jobs for around 72,000 workers.

However, the operational quality and effectiveness of local SMEs remain poor and unsustainable as many have not yet prepared a precise business strategy.

SME owners lack knowledge of legal regulations and business management while a number of the firms use backward technologies and must rent premises for production, which results in a higher risk of environmental pollution and an increase in production costs.

The province needs to soon perfect its mechanisms and policies to back the sustainable development of SMEs, according to Secretary General of the Thai Binh Business Association Ngo Van Dung.

Specifically, it is vital to ease SMEs’ three great difficulties including premises for production, capital and management skills.

The province also needs to provide more information on domestic and foreign markets to help the firms orientate their production and business, Dung said, adding that his association will establish a centre to offer support and consultation to local enterprises in the coming time.-

Vietnam cuts 2013 rice export target to 6.7 million tonnes

The Vietnam Food Association (VFA) reports Vietnam has cut its 2013 rice export target by 4%, down to 6.7 million tonnes from the earlier goal of 7.2 million tonnes.

Vietnamese exporters have cancelled some Chinese contracts due to low prices and are shifting attention to the domestic market. Thai competitors will also challenge Vietnamese rice exporters. 

VFA said Vietnam’s rice export volume totalled 5.733 million tonnes after the first ten months of this year, valued at US$2.466 billion (FOB) or US$2.553 billion (CIF), and sliding 12% from 2012.

Jewelry Fair 2013 attracts foreign brands

The 22nd Vietnam international Jewelry Fair (VIJF 2013), opened in Ho Chi Minh City on November 7.

The fair, organised by Saigon Jewelry Company Limited (SJC), has more than 130 stands displaying giant brands such as SJC, DOJI, PNJ, and SBJ as well as other products of foreign businesses from Hong Kong (China), Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Italy and India.

SJC showcases a collection of luxury jewelry named “SJC Diagold” which is part of its long-term development strategy aimed at creating a breakthrough in jewelry manufacturing.

In the first nine months of 2013, SJC’s jewelry revenue hit VND650 billion, doubling last year’s figure.

International Telecomp 2013 bound for HCM City

The 15th Vietnam International Exhibition on Telecommunications and Information Technology (Vietnam Telecomp 2013) will be held at the Saigon International Exhibition and Convention Centre from November 20 -23.

It is expected to attract 200 domestic and foreign enterprises from China, India, Singapore and Vietnam including its giant telecom and IT providers like Viettel, VNPT, Ericssion Vietnam and VP Bank.

The organizing board said Vietnam Telecomp 2013 will provide a good opportunity for participants to exchange experience and promote their products in the fields of telecommunications and information technology (IT) services.

A series of activities including exchange, trade promotion, and seminar on the OTT (Over-the-top) service trend and ICT sector will also be held during the event.

Int’l sound, lighting expo opens in HCMC

The Vietnam International Exhibition for Pro Audio, Lighting, AV and Broadcasting is taking place in Ho Chi Minh City from November 6-8.

The event, the third of its kind in Vietnam has attracted 130 companies and brands from more than 25 countries in Europe, Asia and the US.

They bring to the exhibition their advanced technological devices and machinery in the fields of communications and broadcasting, including cameras, audio and lighting equipment.

The exhibition offers a chance for investors and producers to approach new markets and exchange advanced achievements in producing programmes.

A live outdoor sound system demonstration is scheduled to be held during the exhibition.

The first exhibition took place in Ho Chi Minh City in 2010 and the second in Hanoi in 2011.

Roundtable discusses intellectual property practice

The enforcement of intellectual property rights is important to economic growth, especially as Vietnam has joined the global playing field.

The view was shared by participants at a round-table in Hanoi on November 7 between the US Embassy, the US Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Vietnam and the Ministry of Science and Technology.

US Ambassador to Vietnam David Shear highlighted the role of policymakers as well as industry experts of both countries in discussing solutions to better the current implementation of IP rights.

Deputy Minister of Science and Technology Tran Quoc Khanh said Vietnam needs expertise and support from countries including the US in perfecting its legal framework to accelerate IP practices, particularly when the country has joined international institutions and is negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement.

A firm legal framework and good conditions for the implementation of IP rights remain an attractive factor to foreign investors specialising in technology.

ANZ – Vietnam’s best foreign FX provider

ANZ has been ranked Vietnam’s best foreign FX provider for the second year, winning plaudits for its FX products and services and FX research and market coverage.

ANZ Vietnam CEO Tareq Muhmood said “Asiamoney’s recognition of ANZ as the No.1 foreign FX provider in Vietnam directly reflects what our customers are saying about us, and confirms ANZ’s continued market leadership in this segment.”

“Despite the challenging business environment, ANZ’s ability to provide our customers with comprehensive market information and tailored products and services has helped us achieve the industry-leading ranking in two consecutive years. We are grateful for this support,” Muhmood said.

In this year’s Asiamoney FX Poll, ANZ won praise in several categories for its operations in Australia, the Republic of Korea, the Philippines, and Taiwan (China).

The Asiamoney FX Poll is a direct survey of 3,044 different companies split between 2,569 corporate and 475 financial institutions. The valid responses are all independent feedback.

ANZ was one of the pioneering international banks to establish a Vietnamese presence, opening its first office in 1993. The bank has eight Vietnamese branches and transaction offices, one saving kiosk, and two representative offices. Its services span retail banking; commercial banking for small, medium, and emerging businesses; and institutional banking.

Trade Finance Magazine voted ANZ “The Best International Bank in Vietnam” in June 2012, ANZ. In March 2013, Asjan Banker Magazine named it the “Best Retail Bank in Vietnam”.

Vietnam Day in Havana fair 2013

Twenty-four Vietnamese businesses were among the 1,400 representatives of 64 countries attending the 31st Havana International Fair (FIHAV 2013).

The Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Trade Promotion Agency (TPA) and the Vietnamese Trade Office in Cuba organised a Vietnam Day as part of the Fair.

Ambassador Duong Minh highlighted the traditional solidarity shared by Vietnam and Cuba and called on both countries’ businesses to boost economic and trade ties to a level on a par with their bilateral political relations.

TPA Deputy Director Ta Hoang Linh said the fair enables Vietnamese and Cuban businesses to exchange experience and discuss long-term cooperation.

Linh expressed his hope that Cuban authorities will create the most favourable conditions possible for the two countries’ businesses to increase their trade and investment cooperation.

Cuba’s First Deputy Minister of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment Antonio Carricarte said bilateral trade relations have yet to reflect the two countries’ potential.

He said the fair offered both sides the chance to exchange new products in addition to the traditional rice, coal, coffee, and pharmaceutical trades. Vietnam and Cuba are actively cooperating in tourism and energy.

Carricarte also briefed Vietnamese businesses on the advantages of investing in Mariel Port’s industrial zone.

US becomes biggest Vietnamese shrimp consumer

The Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP) has announced the US recently overtook Japan to become the world’s biggest importer of Vietnamese shrimp.

The November 7 announcement noted US shrimp prices sharply increased in the first nine months, prompting Vietnam to boost its shrimp shipments to this market.

Vietnam Customs said shrimp exports to the US increased 62.6% from last year’s levels to more than US$542.7 million in the reviewed period.

September 2013’s record 138.7% high was helped by two important US regulatory rulings. All 33 Vietnamese companies were exempted from US anti-dumping tariffs. The US International Trade Commission also vetoed a Department of Commerce decision imposing an average 4.52% anti-subsidy tariff on Vietnamese shrimp, concluding a lawsuit initiated in December 2012.

The two decisions not only lessened Vietnamese shrimp exporters’ cost burdens but also acknowledged the sector operates according to the principles of the market economy and does not receive any Government subsidies.

Shrimp exports to Japan increased 12.8% between January-September 2013 to US$497.1 million.

Exports to the EU show signs of recovering from 2012’s decline. Nine-month exported shrimp value exceeded US$263.6 million, an increase of 14.8%, and shrimp exports to Germany, France, and the UK rose 2.7%, 48.5%, and 34.2% respectively.

Toyota Vietnam marks 250,000th product

Toyota Motor Vietnam (TMV) on Thursday announced its achievement of turning out 250,000 products at TMV’s plant in Vinh Phuc Province, marking a special milestone in production after 18 years of operation in Vietnam.

After nearly two years from November 2011 when the company marked the 200,000th unit, TMV reached another significant number of 250,000 units on Thursday.

From the daily production of two units in the first year in 1996, now the daily production capacity has reached 140 vehicles.

From only 212 units in 1996, now the yearly production has reached more than 30,000 units, and Toyota has maintained its position as the leading automobile maker in the past 18 years.

Source: VEF/VNA/VNS/VOV/SGT/SGGP/Dantri/VIR

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