BUSINESS IN BRIEF 29/11

GE to expand operations in Vietnam

General Electric, an American multinational corporation, is considering expanding its wind turbine plant in Haiphong city in 2014.

VnExpress quoted GE Vice Chairman John Rice at a press briefing in Hanoi on November 27, saying the conglomerate is considering market needs and entering into negotiations with Haiphong leaders of the second phase of the plant.

GE poured US$110 million into the first phase of the Haiphong plant in 2009 and raked in US$390 million in export earnings. The plant manufactures wind turbine components for export to ASEAN countries.

International Energy Agency (IEA) and World Bank statistics show Vietnam has greater potential for wind power development than Thailand, Laos and Cambodia.

About 8.6% of Vietnam’s territorial area is suitable for large-scaled wind power projects, in comparison with 2.9% of Laos, and just 0.2% of Cambodia and Thailand.

GE Vietnam General Director Nguyen My Lan said Vietnam has taken first steps toward developing wind power in recent times. The Ministry of Industry and Trade and GE recently signed a consulting contract to turn wind power into a stable source of power in Vietnam.

Vietnam’s bond market fastest growing in East Asia

The scale of the bond market in Vietnam reached nearly US$25 billion in the third quarter of 2013, according to the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

Despite representing a national drop, it still obtained the highest growth among emerging markets in East Asia compared with the same period last year.

ADB has resealed its quarterly report on the Asian bond market, saying that from July to September this year the government bond market of Vietnam fell by 8.7% from the previous quarter, mainly due to the declining demand for treasuries.

However, Vietnam’s bond market on an annual basis gained the fastest growth in the region, with a year-on-year increase of 18.8% to US$25 billion. In particular, government bond market registered an increase of 24.8% to US$24 billion while the corporate bond market in the third quarter stood at US$700 million.

The report said East Asia’s emerging local currency bond markets grew 2.4% quarter-on-quarter and 12.5% year-on-year to reach US$7.1 trillion in the third quarter, propelled by growth in both the government and corporate bond sectors.

Meanwhile, the region’s local currency government bond market expanded 2.1% quarter-on-quarter, up from 1.1% quarterly growth in Q2 in 2013, to level off at US$4.4 trillion.

Indonesia had the fastest growing bond market in the region during the third quarter, expanding 3.9%, followed by the Philippines (3.6%) and China (3.0%).

The Asia Bond Monitor reviews recent developments in East Asian local currency bond markets along with the outlook, risks, and policy options. It covers ASEAN’s member countries plus China, Chinese Hong Kong and the Republic of Korea.

The Manila-based ADB is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through exclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable development and regional integration. Established in 1966, it is owned by 67 members, including 48 from the region. In 2012, the bank’s assistance totaled US$21.6 billion, including co-financing of US$8.3 billion.

Mekong Delta strives to remain as top rice granary

The Mekong Delta has targeted an annual rice output of 24 million tonnes from 2020 to 2030 to remain as the country’s top rice producer.

To reach the goal, the region is required to zone 4.3 million hectares of land for rice farming from now to 2030.

Localities are also working with research institutes to apply new biotechnology allowing the creation of new rice varieties and improving existing ones.

From now to 2015, Mekong Delta provinces plan to increase the mechanisation of farm work to minimise post-harvest and storage losses. They are set to popularise sustainable cultivation techniques to enlarge high-quality rice areas in order to satisfy domestic and international demands.

From 2015 onwards, the localities will multiply cultivation under the Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) so that the area under clean rice will account for at least 40% of rice land.

They plan to expand the processing technology to reduce the sector’s dependence on export and turn rice into materials for the processing industry, thus raising rice value and creating jobs for locals.

According to the Mekong Delta Rice Research Institute, the region increased its rice output from 4.2 million tonnes in 1976 to 24.5 million tonnes in 2012.

Vietnamese bank makes deal with foreign consultant

The Vietnam Public Bank (PVcomBank) on November 27 agreed a deal with the leading global advisor Boston Consulting Group (BCG) to build a business strategy for the firm.

The six-month project aims to make the bank one of the top credit institutes in Vietnam.

During the project, BCG will help improve capacity for the bank’s staff and officials, while conducting a technology transfer to the bank.

Founded in 1963, BCG is a global management consulting firm and the world's leading advisor on business strategy, with 79 offices in 44 countries.

It partners with clients from the private, public, and not-for-profit sectors in all regions to identify their highest-value opportunities, address their most critical challenges, and transform their enterprises.

PVcomBank officially debuted on October 3 with assets totalling VND100 trillion (US$4.7 billion) and charter capital of VND9 trillion (US$423 million).

It was founded after shareholders of Western Bank and PetroVietnam Finance Corporation, approved a merger.

The establishment of PVcomBank is part of a plan by the State Bank of Vietnam to restructure the banking system, which has seen the mergers and acquisitions (M&A) of several banks in the last two years.

Aquatic products introduced in Australia

Vietnamese aquatic products were introduced to Australian importers and consumers at a dinner meeting in Sydney on November 27.

The event was jointly organised by the Vietnamese Consulate General in Sydney, Vietnam Trade Office in Australia and the Seafood Importers Association of Australia (SIAA).

At the meeting, Consul General Mai Phuoc Dung highlighted the key products of Vietnam’s aquatic sector, especially those made from shrimp and catfish.

He voiced hope that Vietnamese aquatic products will be better known by consumers in Australia – a country that heavily depends on imported aquatic products.

Meanwhile, SIIA Chairman Norman Grant introduced the process of farming, fishing and processing for a number of Vietnamese aquatic products.

He commented that Vietnamese products have high nutrition and quality, meeting international sanitation requirements.

Various dishes made from Vietnamese aquatic products were tabled at the event, earning praises from diners, who included many restaurant owners.

Australia is now the fifth largest market of Vietnamese aquatic products, buying US$182 million worth of the products in 2012, 60% of which was spent on shrimp. Vietnam has been the leading supplier of processed shrimp for Australia during the past four years.

Business confidence improves

Business confidence improved in Vietnam while faster-growing economies focused on sustainable growth, according to a new survey.

According to a business-confidence index survey by Regus, which claims to be the world's biggest provider of flexible work space, business confidence in Vietnam has increased from 109 points in April 2013 to 118, just above the global average of 113 points.

The report also indicated that Vietnamese businesses wanted to improve staff retention and find cost-effective service providers over the next 12 months, in a bid to lower costs and preserve expansion plans.

The gap in business confidence between mature and fast-growing economies fell as efficiency gains and improved competitiveness bolstered growth in emerging markets.

Findings also showed that firms prioritised cost-saving initiatives, ranging from talent retention to flexible work conditions, to improve gains on existing assets and enable fast and flexible expansions.

While mature economies are showing confidence gains as their economic outlook turns positive, the emerging world is slowing the pace of growth as businesses aim to become increasingly efficient to promote productivity," said Regus Vietnam manager Serge Dupaux.

Meanwhile, the report also showed companies revenue growth in Vietnam fell from 55% to 50%.

The top four outcomes for Vietnam included improved staff retention (58%), cost effective services providers (42%), higher return on investment on marketing and advertising (38%) and less fixed office space (33%).

Local building materials on show in Dubai

Eighteen Vietnamese enterprises are participating at the Big 5 Expo in Dubai, the largest event for the building and construction sector in the Middle East, for the first time.

The Vietnamese businesses are showcasing world-class designs of tiles, wood, decorative stone and electrical cable, as well as other construction products which have proved successful brand names in the domestic market.

According to the trade promotion centre VChoice, which brought the enterprises to Dubai, attending the trade fair will help promote local products at the largest building and construction fair in the world.

Dubai is a gateway to global markets. If the firms are successful in Dubai, they will have opportunities to penetrate international markets, said VChoice chairman Nguyen Lien Phuong.

VChoice is also helping domestic businesses seek investment co-operation in the fields of manufacturing, construction materials and interior decor products to supply the Middle East and Africa. They also hope to attract investment and cooperation for real estate projects in the country.

Phuong said the Middle East markets, particularly the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC), have high demand for building materials with plans to spend billions of US dollars on infrastructure. He said after researching the market for two years, Vietnamese products will also be on display at the VChoice showroom in the Dubai World Trade Centre for a year, aiming to promote the national brand in the international market and attract more customers.

Fake products continue to flood marketplace

Government agencies, consumers, manufacturers and the entire community should work together to fight phony or counterfeit products, delegates told a conference in HCM City on November 27.

Infringement of intellectual protection rights (IPR) is occurring more frequently, affecting licensed companies and consumers, said Do Huu Quang, deputy head of the Market Management Department under the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

Vietnamese consumers are presented with an abundance of goods, but it is difficult for them to distinguish between genuine and fake products, he said.

Fake goods are everywhere and in many sectors, from fashion accessories to agricultural materials and cosmetics, with direct impact on consumers' health, the environment, social security and producers. They are made both domestically and abroad and then smuggled into the country, he said.

Delegates at the seminar said enterprises have become more aware of IPR and made an effort to protect it, but many others have not paid much attention to this issue.

Many enterprises, when they discover that their designs and trademarks have been copied, they do not have the courage to denounce these actions to authorised agencies, Quang said.

Even though more inspections have occurred, as well as increased fines, a lack of resources and personnel have caused the battle against fakes difficult to implement.

In addition, sanctions imposed on these violations have not deterred the practice, he said.

Luong Hoang Hung, deputy general director of the Vietnam Intellectual Property Association, said businesses have a role to play by improving their public communications and helping people identify fake and substandard goods.

Many delegates at the meeting agreed that authorities should publicise the names of violators in the mass media.

Consumers must protect themselves by purchasing goods at prestigious shops and websites, they added.

Nguyen Thanh Tai, director of NewTech Company, said enterprises need strategies to protect their trademarks from counterfeit goods and should co-operate with government agencies in enforcement procedures.

Nguyen Thanh Binh, head of the National Office of Intellectual Property of Vietnam in HCM City, said all enterprises, both large and small, should focus more on IP protection.

But Binh noted that, with current technology, a new product can be quickly analysed and copied. However, this makes owning IP rights even more important.

Companies employing IP protection effectively have been able to create prestigious trademarks. This has also helped them improve competitiveness in both local and international markets, and increase revenue, he said.

The conference was organised to mark Day for Fighting Fake Goods on November 29.

Retail sector posts 12% profit rise

The country's total retail sales and service revenue in the first 11 months of this year reached VND2,386 trillion (US$113 billion), the General Statistics Office (GSO) reported.

The figure represented a 12.6% year-on-year rise, the highest level so far this year, the GSO said, adding that the increase will be 5.5% if price hikes are excluded.

Le Thi Minh Thuy, head of the GSO's Trade Department, said the consumer price index in November grew 0.34%, the lowest level in the past five years, sparking an increase in retail sales and service revenue.

Thuy said that purchasing power has risen, contributing to revenue growth.

She added that the increase is only one-third of the level recorded during the same period in 2010 due to low incomes and tighten spending.

People are only buying essential goods, and spending is limited on hotel and restaurant services.

The trade sector, which accounted for 76.8% of the total, rose 12.2% over the same period last year, while hotel and restaurant services were up 15.3%.

The service sector posted a 13.4% year-on-year increase, followed by the tourism industry with a 1.8% jump.

The individual economic sector accounted for half of the total retail sales and services, reaching VND1,201 trillion (US$57 billion).

It was followed by the private sector with VND824.6 trillion (US$39 billion), accounting for 35.3%.

Several items posted sharp decreases, including gold, motorbikes and electrical products.

Hanoi seminar discusses new growth strategy

Nearly 100 domestic and foreign experts shared experience in drawing up and implementing a new growth strategy in Vietnam.

Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Nguyen Cam Tu said like other APEC member states, the Vietnamese government has started renewing its growth paradigm since 2009, with priority given to restructuring labour and sectoral mechanism, and improving the operational efficiency of the market economy to achieve rapid and sustainable development.

Dr Nigel Finch from Sydney University said in its new growth strategy, the Asia-pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum aims to achieve balanced, inclusive, sustainable, innovative, and secure growth, focusing on macroeconomic policies and structural reform to redress imbalance and improve operational efficiency.

The new strategy will help the member economies to benefit from the global economic recovery and protect the environment towards a green economy.

Introducing Japan’s experience, Akio Hosono from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Research Institute, said his government kick-started a new growth programme in June 2013 after experiencing annual low growth of 0.8% over the past two decades.

The strategy focuses on the financial-monetary and fiscal policy reforms and private investment promotion.

However, he said Japan is meeting a number of challenges in realising its strategy, especially in accelerating its institutional reform, privatising State companies, creating of a friendly working environment, and developing highly competitive human resources.  

Kensuke Tanaka, an official of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), pointed to the fact that most Southeast Asian nations have now shifted to increasing exports, achieving green growth, generating jobs and reducing poverty.

He underlined the need to increase the quality of human resources and education, and develop small- and medium sized businesses, especially the private sector, considering this a key factor behind dynamic growth.

To reap a success, according to the OECD expert, Vietnam needs to address three issues: macroeconomic management, education and its quality, and middle-income trap.

He said Vietnam still has room to improve the quality of its human resources, citing the result of a recent survey which shows the country’s skilled labour force has yet to obtain high growth over the past five years.

The new growth model is now based on productivity rather than production, which has brought initial success to the Republic of Korea, Japan and Singapore. Yet, Tanaka warned lessons learnt from these countries cannot be applied to other Asian countries.

Dr Le Xuan Sang, an official from the Central Institute for Economic Management (CIEM), said the global economy is likely to face uncertainties and risks in the coming months.  

World leading economic and financial institutions all lowered global growth forecasts made in late 2012. But they were optimistic the global economy is on the road to recovery, projected to grow by 2.4% in 2013 and 3.2% in 2014.

Vietnam is forecast to grow by 5.3% in 2013 and 5.8% in 2014.

The Vietnamese government has approved a master plan on economic restructuring, with a focus on State businesses, commercial banks, and the stock market.

Delegates agreed that to realise the new growth strategy, Asian countries need to pay more attention to regional integration, tightly control capital sources, shift their growth paradigm, improve productivity, and develop services.

Vietnam secures rice contract with the Philippines

Vietnamese businesses have beat their Thailand and Cambodian rivals in a bid to supply 500,000 tonnes of 25% broken rice to the Philippines, according to the Vietnam Food Association (VFA).

Rice will be delivered to its importers from December 2013 to March 2014, VFA President Truong Thanh Phong revealed on November 27.

Vietnam has shipped 350,000 tonnes of rice to the Philippines since the beginning of this year, Phong said.

It has exported 5.93 million tonnes of rice FOB for US$2.548 billion as of November 21, 2013. Fragrance rice for export is expected to amount to 700,000-800,000 tonnes this year, an increase of 70% from the previous year.

Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia improve quality of audit

The State auditing agencies from Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia gathered in Phnom Penh on November 27 to discuss ways to improve the quality of audit.

The three Heads of the State auditing agencies introduced the current auditing system in each country and pointed out future advantages and disadvantages.

They shared their experiences in helping the Government implement economic development strategies. They discussed measures to boost cooperation between the three agencies and agreed to frequent exchange visits to increase the capacity of auditors and auditing agencies.

Vietnam’s State Auditor General Nguyen Huu Van emphasised that management of the quality of audit is the key task of the State Audit and the main objective in the development strategy to ensure the existence and development of the State Audit to meet the social requirements for open, effective and sustainable finance.

At the conference, the three State auditing agencies agreed on the desire and need for closer cooperation in order to fulfil their development objectives.

The next conference is scheduled for Vientiane, Laos, in 2014.

Promoting Vietnam-Thailand trade ties

Vietnam and Thailand are each other’s key trade partners and they have great potential for strengthening their trade ties.

The view was shared by Vietnamese and Thai economic experts and businesses at a joint forum in Bangkok on November 27 to introduce investment opportunities in Vietnam’s central region.

Vietnamese ambassador to Thailand Ngo Duc Thang revealed two-way trade turnover between Vietnam and Thailand reached US$7.8 billion between January-October 2013, up 15% compared to the same period last year.

Since the two countries entered into a strategic partnership in June 2013 they have achieved significantly better economic results and improved trade and investment cooperation.

Thailand currently ranks ninth among foreign investors in Vietnam, 324 valid projects valued at approximately US$6.5 billion.

Thang acknowledged in recent times, Thai businesses have cooperated effectively with their Vietnamese partners in the central region, reaping practical benefits for both sides.

 “The forum is the first step towards closer ties between localities and businesses in the central region of Vietnam and Thai localities, investors and businesses,” he said. “It is essential that trade promotion activities and fact-finding tours are conducted in the future to further promote cooperative ties.”

The forum gave Vietnam Trade Counselor Nguyen Thanh Hai, representatives from the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI), and leaders of Quang Nam, Quang Ngai and Quang Tri the opportunity to introduce economic development and potential investment environments in central Vietnam.

Trinh Minh Van, Director of the Investment Promotion Agency in the central region under the MPI, concurred that the information disseminated at the event will prove extremely useful for businesses from both countries.

 “The exchange is expected to help deepen Thai businesses’ understanding of the current investment environment and encourage them to further invest in Vietnam,” he said.

He expressed his hope that bilateral investment, trade and tourism cooperation will continue to grow and flourish in the future.

Chokedee Kaewsang, Vice Secretary General of the Board of Investment (BoI) of Thailand, affirmed Vietnam, the central region in particular, is an attractive destination for investment due to its rapid economic growth and abundant natural resources.

The Thai Government encourages its businesses to invest in Vietnam, he said.

Companies from both countries shared information and examined ways to establish partnerships at the forum.

US$8 billion for leather shoe exports in 2013

Vietnam’s leather shoe exports are expected to bounce back following four consecutive monthly decreases, aiming to fetch US$8 billion by the year’s end.

According to the General Department of Customs, the leather shoe sector achieved an impressive export recovery in October, pocketing US$716.7 million, up 30.51% from the previous month.

Its export value nosedived 3.11% in September, 4.17% in August, 2.9% in July and 8.44% in June.

In 10 months, the sector earned US$6.7 billion from exports, a year-on-year increase of 15.13%.

The US is currently the leading market for Vietnamese footwear exports , with a turnover of US$2.14 billion in just ten months, accounting for 31.91% of the country’s total exports.

This was closely followed by the UK with US$445.85 million, Belgium,US$401.39 million, Germany, US$338.2 million, and Japan, US$315.68 million.

Twelve foreign markets attaining a growth rate of more than 100% in the first three quarters included Slovakia (up1.212%), Argentina ( 361.2%), Denmark (234.5%), Turkey (234.16%) and China (232.38%).

Vietnam joins int’l trade expo in Malaysia

Vietnamese fine arts and handicraft businesses are showcasing their products at an annual international trade and export exhibition in Kuala Lumpur from November 26-28.

Themed “Revitalising Export Growth” Intrade Malaysia 2013, the seventh of its kind, aims to provide opportunities for global businesses to network, form partnerships, and exchange ideas, knowledge and information..

The event has housed nearly 500 stands from over 400 domestic and foreign enterprises and attracted representatives from 18 countries worldwide.

It highlights the four main areas of industry predicted to stimulate  economic growth, namely building materials, electricity, electronics and information and communication technology, lifestyle and manufacturing support.

Joining the exhibition, Vietnamese businesses hope to promote their traditional handicraft products and introduce to international friends to the country’s investment potential

Intrade Malaysia 2013, organised by The Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (MATRADE), is expected to attract 9,000 visitors.

Exports to RoK surge 21%

Vietnam’s exports to the Republic of Korea reached a staggering US$5.49 billion in the first 10 months of 2013, showing an increase of 21% year on year.  

In October alone exports to the market hit more than US$725.4 million, up 20% compared to the previous month.

Among major export items in the reviewed period, garments took the lead, raking in more than US$1.3 billion, up 49.2%.

Garment exports are expected to keep growing in the remaining months of the year, making the RoK one of Vietnam’s key garment consumers after the US, EU and Japan.

Crude oil and means of transports placed second and third in terms of export value.

Other products also experiencing high export growth included footwear, wood and timber products, computers, electronics and components, and mobile handsets.

2013 export turnover to hit over US$132 billion

Vietnam earned an export turnover of US$121 billion in the past 11 months, being closer to achieving its target for the whole year.

According to the General Statistics Office (GSO), its export revenue was estimated at US$12.3 billion in November, representing an increase of 18.9% compared to a year earlier.

The 11-month figure showed a year-on-year increase of 16.2%, with the foreign-invested sector making US$81.2 billion (up 23.5%) and the State-owned sector US$39.9 billion (up 3.6%).

Key export items included telephones, garment and textiles, electronics, computers and spare parts, footwear, plastics, timber and leather products, and fruit and vegetable.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) has fixed the yearly export turnover at US$126.1 billion, 10% higher than last year. With the rising export growth in recent months, Vietnam is likely to surpass the target.

Sun Wah says will diversify property investments

Hong Kong’s Sun Wah group will diversify its investments in Vietnam’s property industry besides its traditional segment of trade centers and office buildings, said the group’s chairman.

Jonathan Choi told the Daily on Monday that the group would consider to invest in industrial parks and given the group’s relationships with international companies, Sun Wah will bring more investors to Vietnam.

Choi was speaking at a press briefing to introduce the community event “Sun Wah and Friends” that is scheduled for December 1 in the campus of the Saigon Pearl residential complex on Nguyen Huu Canh Street.

Sun Wah, established in Hong Kong in 1957, is known for its business in six different spheres, including financial services, real estate, infrastructure, food, and telecommunication.

Its investment projects in Vietnam are numerous, including the 22-story Sun Wah Tower on Nguyen Hue Street in HCMC’s District 1, the aforesaid Saigon Pearl, and a big stakeholder in the investment fund VinaCapital.

Tra fish farming in dire need of sustainable development

A seminar on tra fish farming took place in Hanoi last Friday, focusing on searching for sustainable solutions to tra fish production restructuring and consumption in an effort to prop up the industry that now is struggling at home.

The seminar was organized in the context that tra fish as the local major product holding a global market share of over 90% has been mired in troubles since 2008, with a series of companies being on the verge of bankruptcy and farmers abandoning their farming areas.

The Vietnamese catfish is a strategic seafood product for exports. The fish was seen as a breakthrough phenomenon in the country when its average farming productivity reached up to 500 tons a hectare between 2000 and 2012. Meanwhile, the total yield was 1.3 million tons, export products exceeded 600,000 tons and export value amounted to US$1.8 billion a year in the same period.

Furthermore, the tra fish industry only uses a small area for farming, at some 6,000 hectares equivalent to only 1% of total shrimp farming area and has high competitiveness without requiring State investments. The industry creates jobs for more than 300,000 workers, contributing to changing the nation’s economic structure, especially in rural areas in the Mekong Delta.

However, after the period of such strong growth, the tra fish industry has been facing many difficulties since 2008, resulting in a slowdown in production and exports.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, tra fish farming area only totaled about 5,600 hectares in this year’s January-October, down 13% over the same period in 2012. Similarly, the tra fish yield volume only posted 732,000 tons in the ten-month period, dipping 11% year-on-year.

The prestige of Vietnamese tra fish products’ quality in many foreign markets has been hurt seriously, with the ratio of the added value of the products staying low, at less than 1% of the total tra fish export value.

Nguyen Huu Dung, vice chairman of the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), noted tra fish farmers and enterprises had been experiencing a really tough period, with numerous businesses facing the threat of bankruptcy while farmers have left their farming areas abandoned.

These difficulties are seen right in the EU as the major importer of Vietnam’s tra fish. Tra fish exports to the EU have constantly fallen, from US$581 million in 2008 to US$425 million only in 2012, decreasing over 5% annually on average and up to 18.8% last year, the agriculture ministry reports.

To stabilize and manage tra fish farming in a much more effective way, Dung insisted that tra fish farming, processing and exporting activities must be treated as conditional business.

Besides, to minimize the demand-supply imbalance given the lack of a connection between material production and processing, exports and consumption, VASEP suggests applying the quota mechanism to tra fish farming. To do so, the agriculture ministry needs to work with provincial governments annually to set the quotas of tra fish farming volume for every province, and the quotas will then be allocated to every farming area in line with their natural conditions and capacity, according to the association.

LG launches curved-screen TVs in Vietnam

LG has launched the first curved-screen television in Vietnam with a price of VND250 million a unit.

With a thinness of 4.3 mm, the TV’s screen is curved naturally ensuring the same distance from a viewer’s eyes to all points on the screen.

The new TV using the WRGB OLED technology offers fine pictures and is designed with crystal support made by Japanese Kyocera. It has a loudspeaker system which is only 1 mm thick but has an output of up to 40W.

According to Ko Tae Yeon, general director of LG Electronics Vietnam, LG is the first brand in the world to launch onto the market the curved-screen OLED TV as a high-class item.

The first curved-screen OLED TV that LG offers for sale in Vietnam is the 55EA9800 having a weight of 17 kilograms.

The curved-screen TV is not only a three dimension (3D) one but also a smart one using the passive 3D technology with a strong 3D effect, with the usage of 3D glass safe and convenient. The new product of LG is already available in Korea, the U.S. and Germany.

Offshore fishing fleet to be expanded

To ensure the sustainable development of the local fishing industry, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has set a target of increasing the fleet of large fishing boats with a capacity of over 90 CV each to focus on offshore catching in the next few years.

In a restructuring plan to increase the seafood industry’s added value and ensure its sustainable development, the ministry has set the target to develop the industry in a sustainable way. Therefore, one of the targets of the plan is to reduce the onshore fishing volume and increase the offshore volume.

According to the plan, the fishing volume will be kept stable at 2.4-2.6 million tons annually by 2020 with the onshore volume being lowered to 0.8-0.87 million tons annually from the current 1.2 million tons. Meanwhile, the offshore fishing volume will be raised from one million tons annually to 1.4-1.53 million tons as per the plan.

There are a total of some 130,000 fishing boats nationwide, which will then be cut down to around 110,000 boats in the next seven years, the ministry reports. As a breakdown, the number of fishing boats of less than 20 CV will be reduced to 34.5% from 49% while that of fishing boats of over 90 CV will be raised from 20.7% to 27.3% and that of 20-90 CV will be increased to 38.2% from 30.4%.

At the same time, it is also necessary to make changes to exploiting activities to focus on catching high-value seafood products like shrimp, cuttlefish, octopus and mackerel as well as applying new technologies to mitigate after-harvest losses from the current level of 20% to 10% in 2020.

FDI firms raise material area investment

Some foreign direct investment (FDI) enterprises are raising investment in material areas in Vietnam to secure stable and safe supplies and expand market shares.

Mondelz International Company has opened the first coffee training center for farmers to help them improve production and business. This is part of the enterprise’s sustainable development program titled “Coffee Made Happy” that pledges to invest a huge sum to support farmers until 2020.

According to a representative of Mondelz International, the program will train 1,500 farmers to help them raise coffee output and quality. Farmers are expected to provide around 7,000 tons of standard coffee for the enterprise.

Meanwhile, Metro Cash & Carry Vietnam has invested VND5 billion on giving clean seafood production training to farmers. The program organized via a public private partnership project with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has brought over 3,000 tons seafood to Metro.

Khuat Quang Hung, head of Public Affairs & Corporate Communications General Management of Metro Cash & Carry Vietnam, said that the enterprise will expand the model to help farmers raise incomes and launch safe products onto the market.

“Building good material areas is the most important step in exploitation of the domestic market. Enterprises cannot convince consumers if they cannot secure safe products,” Hung said.

To support FDI enterprises, developed nations have launched many programs to provide competitive farm produce for the local market.

Speaking at a seminar last week, Joop Scheffers, the Netherlands ambassador to Vietnam, said that local consumers have increasing demand for safe food products.

However, local people are concerned about substandard China-made veggies and fruits in the North.

“Via the project on establishing veggies value chain in Vietnam funded by the Netherlands Embassy, we hope to offer safe products to consumers and raise incomes of farmers,” Scheffers said.

100% foreign-owned securities firms get nod

Foreign institutional investors are likely allowed to acquire a 100% stake in securities enterprises if they meet the required conditions, according to a draft rule.

The Ministry of Finance has submitted to the Government a draft decision on foreign ownership limit increase, under which foreign individuals and institutional investors can generally acquire up to 49% of the shares of an existing securities company.

However, a foreign bank, a foreign securities company or a foreign insurance firm which has been in operation for at least two years can be permitted to acquire 100% of the shares of an existing securities company or set up a new 100% foreign-owned securities company subject to satisfaction of certain conditions.

For instance, the investor is required to have made profits for at least two years and have no accumulative debts. The enterprise must not be under special scrutiny or have any other warning conditions.

These requirements, however, are complicated and will cause challenges for local brokers in seeking partners.

SSC strengthens market monitoring

Supervision of the stock market is being tightened, Director of the State Securities Commission (SSC)'s Inspection Department Nguyen The Tho said to Dau Tu Chung Khoan (Securities Investment) newspaper.

In the first ten months of this year, the commission analysed 70 stocks with unusual transactions and examined some cases further.

In the HCM City Stock Exchange, three cases of securities market manipulation were handled this year, in comparison to only one or two cases in previous years, Tho said.

According to current regulations, stocks found with unusual transactions are reported to the State Securities Commission for analysis of cash flow and collusion between investors.

However, Tho said these tasks remained difficult because they required the co-operation of the banks and other relevant organisations.

According to Le Thi Tuyet Hang, director of the Transaction Supervision Department of the HCM City Stock Exchange, in some countries with developed stock markets, stock exchanges would warn investors about unusual transactions.

In Korea, stock exchanges publicly announced codes with unusual fluctuations, such as those continuously traded by one or two accounts or those frequently fluctuating sharply, Hang said.

High-tech park plan announced

A detailed plan for building a high-tech zone in the South Phu Yen Economic Zone to concentrate resources for high-tech industries has been announced.

The high-tech zone, covering a total area of 369.96 hectares, will be built in Dong Hoa District, central province of Phu Yen, the Phu Yen economic zone management board said.

Businesses will have access to an industrial concentration of high-tech industries dealing with building materials, electronic assembly equipment, the production of components for and assembly of automobiles, and machining, among other things.

Expo promotes industrial parks

An exhibition to promote investment in industrial zones with the theme "Linking co-operation and promoting investment in industrial parks in Viet Nam" will be held from November 28-30 at the Friendship Cultural Palace in Ha Noi.

The exhibition is expected to attract the participation of hundreds of housing companies. It will include a seminar where participants will share experiences in attracting industrial investment to Viet Nam.

Can Tho aims to attract more investment in industrial areas

The Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta city of Can Tho seeks domestic and foreign direct investment in 27 projects worth a combined VND28.18 trillion (over US$1.34 billion), local authorities have said.

Among these large-scale projects is the second phase of Thot Not Industrial Zone (IZ), valued at VND3.16 trillion (US$151 million); the infrastructure development of O Mon  

IZ, valued at VND864 billion ($41.14 million); and a $27.2 million factory manufacturing machines used for agriculture.

The city also called for investment in other projects involved in seaport development, the establishment of urban service areas, and the high-tech and tourism industries.

In order to attract further investment, the city has continued to foster administrative reforms in reducing the amount of time it takes to grant licenses and lowering the land lease fee, said the provincial Department of Planning and Investment's deputy director Le Duong Cam Thuy.

An Investment and Trade Promotion Centre was also set up to provide information and connect the enterprises with the local authorities, she stated.

The city also moved to complete its electricity, water supply and transport infrastructure; develop supporting industries; and provide high-quality manpower to foreign-invested projects.

In addition, the city has stepped up trade promotion activities and strengthened co-operation with other provinces in the region and the southern economic hub of HCM City to lure more investors.

The Foreign Investment Agency's latest report revealed that the city has attracted 63 foreign-invested projects, with capital totalling $781 million during the first 11 months of this year.

This has helped the area rank 34th among the 63 provinces and cities in terms of FDI attraction, it said.

Trade ministry approves promotion

The Ministry of Industry and Trade has approved a fourth round of a trade promotion programme with 131 projects worth VND94 billion (US$4.4 million).

Due to limited funding, the Ministry is pushing exports of fisheries, textiles, footwear, agricultural products and furniture.

In parallel with the implementation of the export programme, the trade promotion programme will continue activities to develop the domestic market, particularly in distribution channels.

Steel company to open new factory

Wada Yuji, general director of Maruichi Sun Steel Joint Stock Company (SUNSCO), said his company would open a new factory next month.

Maruichi Sun Steel specialises in producing galvanized steel coils, colour coated steel and pipes, with total investment of around US$120 million.

The company was established in 1996 as the first 100 per cent foreign invested steel company in Viet Nam.

Opportunities to reach largest Trans-Pacific partners: officials

When the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is put into place, Vietnam will benefit from its position as a TPP member, and the country’s garment and textile is expected to benefit a lot. However, the deal offers both good opportunities and challenges. Insight from Vietnam Business Forum.

Through negotiations of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the participating countries have reached a preliminary agreement on many important issues such as tariff reductions, textiles, services and investment liberalisation. For Vietnam, the TPP offers both good opportunities and challenges.

This was a conclusion of the conference "Agreement on Trans-Pacific Partnership and the participation of Vietnam" held recently by the Ministry of Industry and Trade in cooperation with the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI).

Minister of Industry and Trade Vu Huy Hoang said: "Agreement on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a high-standard free trade agreement (FTA), regarded as a model treaty of the 21st century."

The TPP currently has 12 members including Brunei, Canada, Chile, the US, Malaysia, Mexico, Japan, New Zealand, Australia, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

Tran Quoc Khanh, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade, chief begotiator for the TPP, said the TPP has conducted 19 formal sessions and multiple mid-sessions, including two ministerial sessions. Ministerial negotiations will take place in Singapore early next month.

According to the statement of the TPP's leaders at a meeting on the sidelines of the APEC summit, held in Indonesia from October 3 to October 8, the TPP countries are trying their best to promote the basic negotiations to finish the negotiations at the end of 2013.

Deputy Minister Khanh said: "Through the negotiations, the participating countries have reached a preliminary agreement on several important issues such as tariff cuts, textiles, liberalisation of services and investment, government procurement, and intellectual property."

Besides, nearly 20 other areas in the progress of negotiations include the issues related to the open markets for goods, rules of origins, TBT, SPS, provisions of the cross-border services, financial services, e-commerce, investment, intellectual property, government procurement, labour, environment, and state-owned enterprises, etc.

"Participation in TPP would help Vietnam improve export markets structure, open more markets for Vietnamese goods, participate in regional and international production chains, facilitate the economic restructuring and innovate the growth, improve the institutional environment and increase the attractiveness of the foreign and domestic investment, create new production capacity as well as jobs for workers," said Khanh.

The TPP aims to eliminate 100 percent import duty, of which 90 percent will be removed immediately once the agreement takes effect. The opportunities to increase exports and competitive advantages of Vietnamese goods in major markets such as the US or Japan will be bigger.

Le Tien Truong, Vice President of the Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association (VITAS) cum Deputy General Director of Vietnam Textile and Garment Group, also pointed out the advantages this industry will gain after joining TPP.

Among the 16,000 tariff lines in the HS 8 digits, the textile imported to the US market is regulated under Chapters 50 to 63 and Vietnam has exported to the US with approximately 1,000 tariff lines at the average MFN tax of 17-18 percent. The TPP is expected to cut tariffs gradually to 0 percent.

According to the calculation, textile exports from Vietnam to the US could grow by 13 percent to 20 percent per year in the period 2013 to 2017 and may reach from 25 billion USD to 30 billion USD in 2025.

However, Truong also said the TPP will provide both good opportunities and challenges. The challenges may relate to the rules of 'yarn forward' origin, tax cuts and the lower competitiveness of the textile industry of Vietnam.

Experts also pointed out a number of industries in Vietnam, which will certainly have difficulties joining the TPP. Among those areas, we could list some such as agricultural products, livestock related to chicken, pork, and beef industry, which are known as the advantages of Australia and the US. Besides, Vietnam's automobile industry will face difficulties when the country fully opens its market to the US, Japan and some developed markets.-

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

GE, bond market, TPP, textile, garments
 
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