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BUSINESS IN BRIEF 26/1
Ford continues to achieve record sales in VN, ASEAN
Record sales for the third consecutive year in Viet Nam and the Philippines helped US carmaker Ford achieve a 11 per cent increase in sales in ASEAN countries last year.
It sold nearly 115,800 vehicles in the region, marking the fourth consecutive year of record sales in the region too.
Thailand continued to spearhead Ford’s overall performance in ASEAN with sales rising 12 per cent to 40,972 vehicles.
In Việt Nam, sales rose 40 per cent to 29,011 units, led by record sales of the Ranger, Transit and EcoSport models.
With its sales outpacing the overall industry for the third consecutive year, Ford increased its Vietnamese market share by 1 percentage point to 9.5 per cent.
The company capped the year with its all-time best monthly performance in December, with sales increasing by 10 per cent year-on-year to 2,900 units.
The segment-defining Ranger remained Viet Nam’s best-selling pickup truck for the second consecutive year with sales soaring 62 per cent to 14,058 vehicles.
The popular EcoSport finished 2016 as the leader of the compact SUV segment with retail sales jumping 36 per cent to 5,413 vehicles.
The Transit remained the bestseller in the commercial van and bus segment with record sales of 6,850 units, a year-on-year increase of 22 per cent.
The sporty Fiesta saw sales increase 14 per cent to 949 units.
The US-imported, premium Explorer SUV, equipped with a 2.3L EcoBoost engine, made its local debut at the Vietnam Motor Show in October, and provided a year-end boost by selling 111 vehicles.
Ninh Binh fertilizer plant loses VND1.7 trillion in three years
Ninh Binh Nitrogenous Fertilizer Plant had incurred an accumulated loss of more than VND1.7 trillion since it went into production in 2012 to the end of 2014, according to the results of an inspection published on January 17 by the Ministry of Industry and Trade.
The project has a total investment of US$667 million and a design capacity of 560,000 tons per year, developed in Phu Khanh Industrial Park, Ninh Binh Province. The project owner is Vietnam National Chemical Group, while China’s Huanqiu Contracting & Engineering Corporation is the EPC contractor.
The project got off the ground on May 10, 2008 and was handed over to the Ninh Binh Nitrogenous Fertilizer Plant project management unit on September 23, 2012. The project management unit later temporarily transferred the whole facility to Ninh Binh Nitrogenous Fertilizer Co. Ltd. on October 15, 2012.
During the inspection, wrongdoing and irregularities involving the development and management of Ninh Binh Nitrogenous Fertilizer Plant and the operations of Ninh Binh Nitrogenous Fertilizer Co. Ltd have been detected.
Ninh Binh Nitrogenous Fertilizer Co. Ltd. constantly racked up losses between 2012 and 2015. The feasibility study estimated accumulated losses in the first three years would be nearly US$48 million, equivalent to some VND1.02 trillion based on the December 31, 2014 exchange rate.
In fact, accumulated losses from 2012 when the plant went into production to the end of 2014 was over VND1.7 trillion, or VND694 billion greater than estimated.
Vietnam National Chemical Group had approved adjustments to the project based on low financial efficiency evaluation results, which entails a lot of potential risks. The head of the project management unit had not complied with rules.
For the trial run, the project owner provided the contractor with an amount of coal that exceeded the EPC contract. After several rounds of negotiations, the project owner and the contractor have yet to agree on the value of and the responsibility of each party to such excessive coal volume.
Construction work was 420 days behind schedule, leading to additional costs, including VND527 billion in interest for the extended EPC contract.
The project owner received the plant from the contractor when specifications had not met the requirements in the feasibility study and the signed EPC contract. Operations of the production lines and equipment were unstable, with the number of operational days and capacity below the levels given in the approved feasibility study.
After more than four years of commercial operation, the project owner and the contractor have yet to endorse the acceptance and official handover of the project and as they are still busy solving the existing problems. Since they have not reached an agreement on responsibility of each party to the issues arising during the contract implementation process, the project remains unresolved.
The Ministry of Industry and Trade requires Vietnam National Chemical Group, the project management unit and Ninh Binh Nitrogenous Fertilizer Co. Ltd. to review and clarify responsibilities, and propose coping measures.
Inspector says Lee&Man has taken remedial measures
Tran Phong, director of the Southern Agency of Environmental Protection under the Vietnam Environment Administration and head of a team charged with inspecting Lee&Man Vietnam, said this company had already taken remedial steps.
Talking to the Daily on the phone on January 17, Phong said site examinations had recently been carried out and inspectors found Lee&Man Vietnam had added almost all components that the inspection team had required earlier.
“There are now only some procedures and paperwork left before the job is done. Probably, they (Lee&Man Vietnam) will start a trial run to see if it is qualified or not, and if they meet regulations of Vietnam, they can be up and operating,” said Phong.
Earlier, an inspection conclusion issued on October 25, 2016 by Nguyen Van Tai, director general of the Vietnam Environment Administration, revealed several irregularities at the projects run by Lee&Man Vietnam in Hau Giang Province’s Chau Thanh District, including the projects of Lee&Man Vietnam Pulp Mill Co. Ltd. and Lee&Man Vietnam Paper Manufacturing Ltd.
Specifically, the inspection team has discovered that the government of Hau Giang Province had approved two environment impact assessment (EIA) reports in a single decision, with Lee&Man Vietnam Paper Manufacturing Ltd. undersigning and as an independent legal entity from Lee&Man Vietnam Pulp Mill Co. Ltd. This is said to be legally inappropriate and makes it hard to clarify legal accountability on the event of an environmental incident.
Also, the fact that Lee&Man Vietnam Pulp Mill Co. Ltd. drew up three EIA reports for the three components including a thermal power plant, a dedicated port and a wastewater treatment facility is described as legally inconsistent and making it impossible to assess the overall impact of the project on the environment.
At the time of inspection, Lee&Man Vietnam Paper Manufacturing Ltd. was implementing a number of other components, including a repair and maintenance workshop and a mechanical warehouse (30% complete), a petroleum tank (50%), a paper roll production line and an additive mixing station (60%). The company even looked to add some other components such as a washing and garbage separating line, the second paper production line with an annual capacity of 420,000 tons and a toilet tissue line capable of churning out 250,000 tons a year, without any EIA report approved according to law yet.
As per the inspection conclusions, the thermal power plant of Lee&Man Vietnam Paper Manufacturing Ltd. had installed a cloth bag filter system to handle dust in the air under the approved EIA report. However, the report does not mention the device to treat NOx, the specific pollution parameter of a power plant.
Notably, Lee&Man Vietnam Paper Manufacturing Ltd. has been found adopting outdated technology fueled by poor-quality 6B coal or imported coal that generates a lot of fly ash and bottom ash in the course of operation.
For the dedicated port, at the time of inspection, Lee&Man Vietnam Paper Manufacturing Ltd. had yet to arrange a settling tank to separate rubbish for the rainwater drainage system at the coal wharf, and to map out a plan to collect and treat wastewater from ships as prescribed.
At the time of inspection, the company had installed a wastewater treatment facility with a capacity of 20,000 cubic meters per day, but its technology was different from the EIA report approved in 2008, and it lacked an intermediate settling tank, a fenton reaction tank and an ecological pond.
Oxfam stresses Vietnam’s growing income disparity
Vietnam has reaped outstanding achievements in terms of growth and poverty reduction, but the income gap between rich and poor has been widening, putting sustainable development at stake.
According to a report released by Oxfam, the income disparity between the richest and the poorest in the country has increasingly widened.
What the richest person in Vietnam earns a day is greater than the sum the poorest earns in 10 years. In an hour, the nation’s richest person could earn from their assets nearly 5,000 times higher than what the 10% poorest people spend a day on their basic needs.
In addition, annual income of a group of 210 super-rich people can help lift 3.2 million people out of poverty, Oxfam added.
The income disparity has made the poorest suffer from disadvantages as they are not able to ensure sufficient education for their children and have no opportunities to get access to medical services compared to those with high income.
According to Oxfam, the rising inequality is making inroads into the country’s development gains in the past decades. The organization proposed that the Government should adopt effective policies on governmental administration, tax system, public spending, public services, and the rights of laborers in an effort to reduce the widening rich-poor gap.
Babeth Ngoc Han Lefur, country director of Oxfam in Vietnam, said the country’s economic model has successfully generated high growth rates after decades of reform, helping a majority of poor people escape poverty. However, the current policies are not feasible enough to handle the growing inequality in the country.
Vietnam focuses on long-term G-bond sales
The Government’s finance agencies will concentrate on selling long-term government bonds to mobilize VND340 trillion (over US$15 billion) this year, the Vietnam News Agency reports.
Of the figure, the Government will set aside VND184 trillion to finance the budget deficit and VND156 trillion for debt service.
The central bank has issued Circular 06/2016/TT-NHNN revising and supplementing some articles of Circular 36/2014/TT-NHNN on safety ratios at credit institutions and foreign bank branches. Therefore, foreigners have shown more interest in the local G-bond market, said the State Treasury.
In recent times, the State Treasury has offered G-bonds with diverse tenors from three to 30 years, focusing on papers having terms of five years or longer to reduce debt service pressure in the near term.
According to a report of the Finance Ministry, G-bonds of five years or longer accounted for 91.1% of total sales in 2016, higher than the minimum level required by the National Assembly at 70%. Bond yields averaged out at 6.49% per annum.
At the end of 2016, domestic debt accounted for 59% and external debt 41%, meeting the Government’s goals. The nation also reduced dependence on foreign loans.
Last year, the agency issued nearly VND282 trillion worth of G-bonds, mobilized VND55 trillion from social insurance premiums, while disbursement of official development assistance (ODA) loans and other kinds of aid reached US$1.9 billion.
Seafood exports to U.S. must bear origin labels
Vietnamese seafood products exported to the U.S. from the beginning of next year will have to carry labels that make clear origins of goods, and production and processing facilities.
Herb Cochran, executive director of the American Chamber of Commerce’s (AmCham) HCMC chapter, said the regulation would apply to all products from any nations shipped to the U.S. This means Vietnam’s key export products like shrimp and tra (pangasius) fish would be no exception.
He said the U.S. would grant labels on origins and manufacturing process for seafood products. This would be a prerequisite for exporters to ship their products stateside.
A recent study showed that 25% of commercial seafood products on the world were found with labeling fraud. The actual figure may amount up to 40%, according to Cochran.
In a recent conference on fish sauce and rice in HCMC, he said food monitoring in the U.S. is quite complicated. The U.S. government has to set up a control alliance, and the President has a task force to combat fishing and seafood fraud.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will assist the Vietnamese Ministry of Health in enhancing the management of food and drugs in the short run.
Besides, FDA will offer training courses for Vietnamese management agencies and manufacturing firms, as it has done so for other nations. This is how the government has been implementing to improve the quality of products shipped to the U.S., as around 80% of seafood and 50% of fruit consumed there are imported.
Enterprises wishing to join the global supply chain which helps ship products to the U.S. must meet two compulsory conditions, namely obtaining the data universal numbering system (DUNS) code and the electronic data interchange system (EDI) number.
CBRE: Infrastructure should be one step ahead for property sector
Experts of CB Richard Ellis Vietnam (CBRE Vietnam) told a recent conference that zoning plans for infrastructure development should be drawn up before the implementation of real estate projects.
The conference on Asia-Pacific’s property market: opportunities and prospects for the Vietnamese market was held by CBRE Vietnam over the weekend.
Duong Thuy Dung, director of research and consulting at CBRE Vietnam, said master zoning plans for infrastructure development in a province or city are an important basis for businesses to carry out realty projects.
For instance, a master zoning plan must clarify construction and population density to help enterprises know which area will have a large number of office and commercial buildings, and infrastructure must be developed first.
“Infrastructure must be developed before property projects are executed. Demand for homes has surged but State governance in the housing market remains weak in Vietnam. A number of apartment buildings are under construction in districts 7 and Nha Be despite underdeveloped infrastructure in certain areas there,” Dung said.
She said there should be rules to force investors, developers and homebuyers to follow master zoning plans.
Henry Chin, head of research at CBRE Asia-Pacific, told the conference that Vietnam’s property market needs transparent information and legal system. Foreigners planning to invest in Vietnam must come to the country to get information, but in many cases such information may be inaccurate. Meanwhile, they can get adequate information about other markets such as Singapore on the Internet.
He said Vietnam’s office-for-lease market would hold strong potential in the coming time. Rents are high now due to limited supply and high tenancy. In 2016, the respective vacancy rates for Grade A and Grade B office space were 4% and 2.8% in HCMC.
CBRE forecast the vacancy rate would remain at the current level when the market absorbs new supply of Grade A and Grade B office space in 2017-2020. The occupancy rate will stand at an average of 86% of total new supply in one year.
Given robust growth of startups, demand for co-working and serviced offices will edge up.
Lean-meat stimulant Cysteamine banned in livestock farming
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has issued a circular prohibiting the use of cysteamine, a substance used in livestock farming.
Cysteamine, a sulfhydryl amine that is part of coenzyme A, has been added to the list of chemicals and antibiotics prohibited from import, production, trading and use in livestock and poultry feed in Vietnam.
Many debates have centered on whether cysteamine should be put on the list or not.
The substance under the form of cysteamine hydrochloride is added to animal feed as a growth stimulant for pigs, cattle, sheep and poultry. However, based on relevant materials of its practice in many countries, the substance should not be
permitted as an additive for animal feed production, according to a specialized document prepared by Professor Vu Duy Giang at the Vietnam National Institute of Agriculture.
Therefore, the ministry has decided to add the substance to the list. This means that animal feed makers will not be allowed to put it into their products.
Earlier, the ministry added lean-meat stimulant Salbutamol and diarylmethane dye Auramine O to the list. This created a legal framework, facilitating competent agencies to further control the rampant use of banned substances in the livestock farming sector.
US$3 billion worth of lottery tickets sold in southern Vietnam in 2016
That did not include sales of Vietlott, a newcomer that has shaken the market with an American-style jackpot game.
Around 856 million lottery tickets were sold in southern Vietnam last year, worth a total of VND66.68 trillion (US$2.9 billion), up 8.1% from 2015, according to media reports.
The region's 21 lottery firms spent nearly half of that on prizes for winners and sent VND22.35 trillion to the state budget. Their combined profit was estimated at VND8.79 trillion.
These company, selling the so-called "traditional" pre-printed tickets, have been facing a tough competition from Vietlott, a state-run company with an American-style jackpot game that has shaken the market in recent months.
In a meeting of the Southern Lottery Council on January 17, the lottery firm from Bac Lieu Province proposed raising the top prize to a whopping VND12 billion, from VND2 billion currently, to at least match the minimum prize offered by Vietlott. The council has already raised their prize from VND1.5 billion.
Traditional tickets still dominate the market for now. In comparison, Vietlott said its sales last year reached VND1.6 trillion, with VND1.3 trillion coming from the southern region.
But the company is expanding.
The Mega 6/45, launched in July last year as part of an exclusive 18-year contract with Malaysian conglomerate Berjaya, is in fact its very first foray into the market. In the American-style game, players select six numbers from 1 to 45 and win the jackpot, starting at VND12 billion (US$538,000), by matching all six winning numbers from the draw. Each ticket costs VND10,000 (40 cents).
The jackpot prize will keep growing with time and with more players, until there is a winner. The odds of winning are extremely low, believed to be around one in 8.14 million.
The southern lottery council has complained that instead of letting players choose their own numbers, Vietlott also sold pre-printed tickets, to unfairly compete with other companies. Vietlott has also been accused of overcharging.
Local authorities have not responded to these accusations.
Vietnam bans gambling among its citizens but lottery tickets are popular nationwide.
Vingroup to invest in HCM City sports complex
HCM City’s People’s Committee had given Vingroup Joint Stock Company (Vingroup JSC) the go-ahead to invest in a sports and entertainment complex in District 2’s new Thu Thiem urban area.
The complex would be located on 31.39 hectares, and the People’s Committee has approved a district planning scale of 1/ 2,000, the city’s department of planning and architecture (DPA) said on Monday.
The project would require an estimated total capital of VND6.77 trillion (US$305.1 million), excluding compensation for site clearance.
So far, 99 per cent of the land in Thu Thiem urban area had been cleared, with 382 hectares set aside for residential purpose and another 334 hectares for commercial purpose. Once Thu Thiem had been developed, it would be able to house 150,000 residents and attract 220,000 workers.
Vingroup JSC had acquired approval to build the complex as part of the second functional area in Thu Thiem and An Loi Dong wards, Disctrict 2. The total construction is expected to take 36 months; the project utility period would be 50 years.
Vingroup JSC’s sports complex would have infrastructure so it could be used as a multifunctional sporting halt and an amusement park. It is considered to be one of the key high-value projects in the planning of Thu Thiem urban area.
Recently, many domestic and foreign investors had expressed interest in putting money into housing, commercial and office projects in Thu Thiem. — VNS
Vocarimex approves Kido’s acquisition
Foodstuff producer Kido Corporation (KDC) has finally been given the go-ahead to raise its stake in Vietnam Vegetable Oil Industry Corporation (Vocarimex), paving the way for the group to penetrate deeper into the vegetable oils market.
In the latest filing to the Ha Noi Stock Exchange, Vocarimex agreed to Kido’s offer to raise its stake from 24 per cent to 51 per cent.
The transaction will be conducted through negotiation, bypassing the obligation of making a public bid to purchase shares.
The move is necessary for Kido to become the parent company of the oil vegetable oil manufacturing company.
Vocarimex’s shares are trading on the Unlisted Public Market Company (UPCoM) for about VND28,000 (US$1.24) per share. At this price, Kido is estimated to spend almost VND921 billion ($40.7 million) for the purchase.
The deal is expected to occur in the first quarter of this year.
Apart from Kido, the State Capital Investment Corporation (SCIC) and VP Bank Securities Co (VPBS) are other two major shareholders of Vocarimex, each holding 36.3 per cent and 8 per cent of its capital, respectively.
In a related development, Vocarimex also accepted the VPBS’s proposal to divest its holdings ahead of schedule.
Vocarimex is one of the largest local vegetable oil firms where Kido has aimed to seize a controlling stake to penetrate into the food and spice markets after its withdrawal from the confectionery sector.
Besides Vocarimex, in November 2016, Kido spent more than VND1 trillion to buy a 65-per-cent stake in Tuong An Vegetable Oil Joint Stock Company (TAC)
Kido reported total revenues of VND2.24 trillion and net profits of nearly VND1.2 trillion by the end of 2016, up 43.2 per cent in revenues but down 77.8 per cent in net profits compared to the previous year.
Frozen food remained the biggest contributor to the company’s total revenues with sales of more than VND1.3 trillion, up 30 per cent year-on-year. According to Euromonitor International, Kido holds 36.9 per cent of the domestic ice cream market. – VNS
Vietnamese furniture makers hit by dwindling timber supplies
Many Vietnamese furniture makers are struggling to win large orders from global retailers due to a significant shortage of wood.
It is estimated that local furniture firms use about 30 million cubic meters of solid wood and wood-based board materials each year, which translates as about 2.2% of all wood used commercially around the world.
About 67% of wood used in Vietnamese products is domestically sourced, mainly from defunct rubber plantations, while the remaining 33%, translating into around 10 million cubic meters, must be sourced from overseas.
In the meantime, data released by the Agriculture Ministry showed that last year Vietnam exported 8 million cubic meters of solid wood to neighboring China.
This clearly presents a supply problem.
Vietnam’s furniture exports have been growing steadily by 10%-15% in recent years, said To Xuan Phuc, an industry expert from non-profit organization Forest Trends.
“Last year, Vietnam exported more than US$7 billion worth of wood products, while global demand was estimated at US$400 billion. There is potential for more growth,” said Duong Phuong Thao, a senior official from the trade ministry.
However, given the continuing high demand for timber, local furniture companies are faced with a significant shortage of materials.
Vietnam currently has 4,000 furniture makers and exporters and 93% of them are small-and medium-sized companies. These companies have struggled to fulfill large orders from retailers in the US, the European Union and Japan,” said Huynh Van Hanh, vice chairman of Ho Chi Minh City’s Association of Handicraft and Wood Businesses.
Only 7% of Vietnamese furniture makers have managed to win large orders from global retailers, Hanh added.
Local companies believe that the government should throw its considerable weight behind a plan to develop a sustainable forestry system that can be expanded as demand for wood continues to grow.
Vietnam may hike tariffs on solid wood exports to 30%–35%, the same level Cambodia and Thailand apply, to promote better forest management, end deforestation and help with timber supplies, said Huynh Kim Bau, assistant to the general manager of Saigon Furniture.
The Agriculture Ministry plans to develop 200,000 hectares of certified sustainable forests this year, and it is forecast that Vietnam will have 500,000 hectares of certified forests by 2020.
A shortage of solid wood and wood-based materials is not the only problem facing Vietnamese furniture exporters.
Local firms mainly do outsourcing works for foreign furniture suppliers, most of which are Chinese, Hanh said.
Official statistics show that a third of foreign-invested companies in Vietnam’s furniture industry are Chinese.
In an attempt to dodge anti-dumping tariffs imposed by the US, Chinese furniture companies are flooding into Vietnam, relocating their manufacturing facilities and exporting to the US from here.
Since 2015 the US has imposed import tariffs on Chinese-made furniture including beds, nightstands and other wooden wares in an attempt to protect its domestic manufacturers from Chinese “dumping”, or the export of goods at unfairly low prices.
Ngo Sy Hoai, vice chairman of the Professional Association of Timber and Wood Products (Vifores), said the US is currently imposing a tariff of between 55% and 120% on Chinese furniture, but there is no tariff on furniture imports from Vietnam.
Local woodwork factories in Vietnam are concerned that their businesses will suffer if they act as a shield for Chinese furniture companies from US anti-dumping actions.
The fact that Vietnamese manufacturers may come under the radar of American anti-dumping investigators is obviously unwelcome as the US has become Vietnam’s largest buyer. Vietnam’s furniture exports to the US have reached more than US$2 billion per year, equivalent to 30% of all exports.
Vietnam’s steel imports hit record high in 2016
Vietnam’s steel imports increased 18.4% to a record high of 18.4 million tons last year, while its steel exports soared 36% to 3.5 million tons, customs data showed.
Vietnam’s steel imports increased 18.4% to a record high of 18.4 million tons last year, while its steel exports soared 36% to 3.5 million tons, customs data showed.
Accordingly, its steel trade deficit widened to 14.9 million tons or US$6 billion in 2016.
The trade ministry estimated the country will spend US$15 billion annually on steel imports by 2020 to meet rapidly rising domestic demand. The ministry also forecast Vietnam will be short of 15 million tons by 2020 and 20 million tons by 2025.
Statistics show that Vietnam’s steel imports so far meet up to 60% of the market demand.
Faster economic growth means more steel is needed to make everything from cars to buildings.
Given gross domestic product growth of 6.2% last year, the country’s rising steel demand will boost production by 10%-12% in 2017.
Vietnam’s per capita steel consumption could grow further in the next few years from just below 300 kilograms today, said industry experts.
“The country has ample reserves of iron ore but its manufacturing sector, arms industry and shipbuilding businesses are fully reliant on steel imports,” said Truong Thanh Hoai, a senior official at the trade ministry.
The Southeast Asian country plans to put as many as 10 steel projects into operation this year in an attempt to reduce its high dependence on Chinese steel imports.
More than half of Vietnam’s total steel imports in 2016 came from China. Customs data showed that the Southeast Asian country imported 10.85 million tons from its neighbor last year, a 14.3% increase from the year before, with a value of US$4.45 billion.
Nguyen Van Sua, chairman of the Vietnam Steel Association, said this year the steel industry will remain under mounting pressure of cheap steel inflows mainly driven by Chinese overcapacity.
He said the government should continue to shield domestic steel makers from a detrimental surge in steel imports by imposing safeguard duties.
“Chinese steel imports mainly came from manufacturing facilities along the southern coastal provinces,” said Thanh Hoai, explaining that as Chinese steel imports are transported by sea, lower transport costs make Chinese steel more competitive than Vietnamese products.
Vietnam courts Japanese high-tech manufacturing
Vietnam is courting high-tech Japanese investment in manufacturing, Dr Vu Tien Loc, chair of Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said on January 24 during a business forum in Hanoi.
Japan is the second-largest foreign investor in Vietnam, a manufacturing hub in Southeast Asia seeking to expand exports from apparel and agriculture to high-value goods like electronics and automobiles.
Transnational companies operating in Vietnam have become fierce competitors to those operating in regional neighbours like Thailand, Malaysia, China and Taiwan, especially in hi-tech manufacturing, said Dr Loc.
He added that the globe’s electronic giants like Panasonic, Samsung, Foxconn and Intel have all made significant investments and now the country is desirous of attracting more Japanese based companies.
Ties between Tokyo and Hanoi have warmed over recent years, and currently the world’s No. 3 economy has invested heavily in Vietnam. Japanese companies are currently involved in more than 3,000 ventures worth roughly US$42 billion in Vietnam, principally in the manufacturing sector.
Members of the Vietnam business community welcomed the push toward high-tech at the forum, which was attended by representatives of several Japanese transnational giants including Mitsubishi, Canon and Fukuyama Transporting.
Vinacomin targets 5.5-6 percent growth in revenue
The Vietnam National Coal – Mineral Industries Holding Corporation Limited (Vinacomin) strives to achieve an annual average revenue growth of 5.5-6 percent in the 2016-2020 period.
According to Vinacomin’s five-year business production and investment plan approved by the Prime Minister, the company aims to produce 42 million tonnes of coal and reduce the loss rate of coal exploited from underground mines by 5-20 percent by 2020.
It will also work to satisfy the domestic demand and ensure national energy security.
The company plans to import nearly 8-9 million tonnes of coal to serve economic sectors at home, especially electricity generation.
It moves to put into operation thermal and hydropower coal plants with a total output of 10.2 million kWh, accounting for over 4-5 percent of the country’s total electricity.
Vinacomin will reform production technologies in the chemical industry to supply industrial explosive material and drilling and blasting services for coal and mineral production, as well as improve the production capacity at mechanical factories.-
M&A deals in Vietnam's real estate sector forecast to take off in 2017
Mergers and acquisitions in Vietnam's real estate market are expected to jump in 2017 as foreign investors look for local partners rather than starting their investments from scratch.
President Donald Trump has pulled the US ouf of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a deal from which Vietnam, was expected to gain the most. Even so, Vietnam will be viewed no less attractive as an investment destination than it could have been with the TPP, said Stephen Wyatt, general manager of property consultancy firm Jones Lang LaSalle.
He forecast Vietnam’s strengthening real estate market will lift the number of mergers and acquisitions (M&As) to a new record in 2017.
m&a deals in vietnam's real estate sector forecast to take off in 2017 hinh 0ietnam has emerged as a potential investment destination that can generate an annual return of between 20% and 25%, said Than Thanh Vu, chief executive of an M&A consulting company in Ho Chi Minh City.
Investors’ interest is fuelled by the Southeast Asian country’s annual economic growth, which has been above 5 percent on average since 1999, Vu said.
There are many factors driving the inflows of foreign investments into Vietnam’s real estate market, including its fast-growing economy, accelerated urbanization and expanding middle-class population with higher incomes.
Foreign property developers want to tap into Vietnam’s growing population because it will lead to a rapidly expanding demand for housing.
Global investors are increasingly entering the local market through M&As, Vu said , explaining that they prefer gradually acquiring stakes in local property developers so that they can gain a better understanding of local demands.
Besides, M&A deals also allow foreign investors to quickly gain a foothold in the market as they can skip the massive amount of paperwork required to enter the real estate sector.
The number of announced M&As in 2015 increased by 40% from 2014 with total value of US$4.3 billion, according to data released by the Institute of Mergers, Acquisitions and Alliances.
A third of Vietnam’s top 10 largest mergers and acquisitions over the past two years have involved real estate companies.
The market has been spurred on by foreign buyers from Japan, the Republic of Korea and Singapore who are interested in large-scale mixed-use developments comprising apartments, serviced apartments, and retail and office space in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
For instance, a large number of Japanese property developers including Sumitomo, Sanyo Homes, Daiwa House, Aeon and Toshin have pledged to invest up to US$2 billion in the country.
In its biannual Global Real Estate Transparency Index 2016, Jones Lang LaSalle Vietnam ranks 68th out of 109 markets, but far below other countries in the region such as Singapore in 11th and Thailand at 38th.
According to the index, transparency across Vietnam’s real estate markets has steadily improved in recent years with better access to market information, increased availability of market data, and improved enforcement of planning and land use regulations.
Jetstar Pacific offers 111,000 cheap fares for TET
The low-cost airline Jetstar Pacific announced on January 24 it will offer 111,000 cheap tickets priced from VND11,000 on domestic flights to mark the Lunar New Year festival (TET).
The discount program is scheduled to run from 11pm on January 27 till the end of February 5. The cheap tickets are for flights departing in the period between February 25 and April 26.
The airline also offered cheap fares on international flights. The ticket for flight from Hanoi/HCM City to Guangzhou is priced at VND68,000, Hanoi/HCM City to Bangkok at VND118,000, Da Nang to Taipei at VND188,000, Hanoi/Da Nang to Hong Kong and HCM City-Singapore at VND288,000 and HCM City-Hong Kong at VND388,000. These prices exclude tax and surcharges.
A representative from Jetstar Pacific said the airline has met the travel demand of 22,000 passengers per day during TET festival. Jetstar Pacific Airlines has also implemented its web and mobile check-in service to allow passengers to get boarding pass without lining up at check-in counters.
Seafood sector aims high despite barriers in international market
Seafood producers and exporters have been warned that many barriers, from protectionism to media campaigns, will affect them in the international market in 2017.
Vietnam estimates it exported $7.1 billion worth of seafood products in 2016, an increase of 8 percent compared with 2015, despite difficulties, including drought, saline intrusion and environmental disaster in four central provinces caused by Formosa’s untreated waste water discharge.
VASEP (Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers) have consulted with leading experts who say that there would be seven challenges for Vietnam’s seafood sector in 2017.
The drought and saline intrusion which occurred in 2016 would continue tomhave effects on fresh water fish breeding. This would have a big impact on the cultivation area and material output.
With trade barriers removed, Vietnam’s seafood products would have opportunities to penetrate the world’s markets.
However, they would meet non-tariff barriers set up by import countries to prevent them from penetrating the markets.
Import countries’ regulations on inspecting import quality are one barrier. Japan, for example, examines shrimp import consignments from Vietnam to detect Furazolidone, Enrofloxacin and Sulfadiazine.
Meanwhile, Australia has announced it will strengthen the examination for biological toxins and microorganisms. From January to September 2016, 11 seafood consignments from Vietnam to the EU were warned for the heavy metal concentration (cadmium and mercury) higher than the permitted level.
In the latest news, the Vietnam News Agency has reported an Australian ban on green and raw shrimp from Asia, including Vietnam, commencing from January 9.
The Australian government banned Asian shrimp imports after detecting white spot viruses in shrimp sold at stores and after a white spot outbreak occurred in Queensland.
The anti-dumping duty and catfish inspection program will still be a barrier to Vietnam’s catfish in the US market. With high anti-dumping duties, only two or three Vietnamese companies can keep exporting products to the market.
Meanwhile, Vietnam’s material production cost is relatively high. A survey found that the production cost in Vietnam is 10-30 percent higher than in India and Thailand. This will make the material shortage become more serious.
The risk is believed to come from media as well. On January 5, 2017, a video clip on Spanish television gave incorrect information about Vietnam catfish.
However, despite the risks, Vietnam still hopes it can boost seafood exports in 2017.
Nguyen Hoang Anh, general director of Nam Mien Trung Seafood Investment, first mentioned the possibility of earning $10 billion from shrimp exports.
He said Vietnam, with its long coast and brackish areas in Mekong Delta, can expand the shrimp breeding area to 2 million hectares.
In 2016, Vietnam exported $1.7 billion worth of catfish.
Vietnam cold storage market: huge potential but fierce competition
Cold storage is classified as climate control logistics which refers to a system controlling the temperate and humidity with the purpose of increasing the storing period for particular categories of goods.
Cold storage can be segmented into three main categories namely deep frozen (-28 – -30oC for storing seafood), frozen (-16 – -20oC for storing meat), and chiller (2 – 4oC for vegetables, fruits and flower).
The cold storage market in Vietnam has a short development history of 20 years. The first commercial cold storage was built in 1996 by Konoike VinaTrans, a logistics joint venture between Konoike transport Co. Ltd (Japan), Vinatrans Co. (Vietnam), Vinalink Co.(Vietnam), and Vinafreight Co. (Vietnam).
Subsequently in 1998, Swire Cold Storage from Australia followed Konoike to build one of the most modern cold storages to date in Vietnam. The market started booming in 2007 with the construction four cold storages in the same year. Hung Vuong built two storages with a total capacity of 40,000
pallets to meet its in-house storage demand as well as to provide storage services for other seafood and retailer companies in the market. Both local and foreign cold storage providers have become interested in the market since then.
As surveyed by StoxPlus, major commercial cold storage providers are mainly situated in the South due to high demand of this region and can be classified into four main groups of players namely local, foreign-owned logistics companies, and others as Figure 3.
Despite of dominating the market in terms of designed capacity, local companies are considered the second tier. The leading local companies are Hoang Lai, Hung Vuong, SATRA, and Phan Duy. Of which, two leading companies, namely Hung Vuong and SATRA were the first to operate cold storage facilities to serve their in-house demand. However, local companies’ cold storages are equipped with standard facilities and simple designs. Some cold storages even do not even have racks for storing.
Meanwhile, foreign-owned group lead the market by leveraging professional management and modern facilities. Established in 1998, SWIRE was one of the first foreign-owned cold storage providers penetrating Vietnam with professional management as well as modern facilities. Other foreign-owned providers are Lotte Sea (2009) and Preferred Freezer Services (2010). Foreign-owned commercial cold storage providers are the market leaders in quality and management services with a diversified portfolio of clients and prime location.
Huge potentials from Vietnam commercial cold storage market According to Vietnam Cold Storage Market 2016 by StoxPlus, cold storage is one of the most potential logistics segment for growing in Vietnam, since Vietnam is an agriculture economy. Few foreign and local companies tapped in this segment and none of them provides the whole chain service.
Four main sources of cold storage demand include seafood, meat, fruit and vegetables, and grocery retailing. Of which, seafood export and grocery retailers are expected to be drivers for cold storage demand growth in the future thanks to a number of free trade agreements (FTAs) signed in 2015.
In particular, the zero import tariffs in large markets like the US, Japan, and Canada will create a huge advantage for Vietnamese exports. This will lead to increasing logistics demand including cold storage for preserving the goods serving for importing and exporting purposes.
Besides, modern trade is of increasing importance and giant, international retail corporations have plans to penetrate the Vietnam market in the near future. Vietnam is expected to have about 1,200-1,300 supermarkets, 180 shopping centers, and 157 department stores by 2020. Distribution centres including cold storage will also increase in number and capacity to fulfill the demand from the development of supermarkets.
It is noted by StoxPlus that each end-use sector posts different requirements and cold storage demand outlook. The market is expected to be more competitive with a few cold storage investment projects developed by both local and foreign investors. Particularly, the biggest investment is the 50,000 pallet cold storage facility in Song Hau Industrial Zone in the Mekong Delta province of Hau Giang. The project is in the initial phase and developed by Minh Phu and Gemadept Corporation with the total investment capital of $46.1 million. When completed it will be the largest cold storage facility in the Mekong Delta.
Besides, the Cool Japan Fund established a joint venture with Japan Logistic Systems Corp. (JLS) and Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha Co. Ltd, (“K” LINE) to build a $15 million refrigerated storage facility in the Ho Chi Minh City suburbs.
As such, to seize the upcoming opportunities in Vietnam cold storage market, it is argued by StoxPlus that existing players as well as foreign investors who want to penetrate in Vietnam market should identify the key segments and appropriate sale and marketing plans to catch the trend.
By Minh Hai, VIR
Social News 26/1
Farmers struggle to access loans to develop production
Difficulties in borrowing money from banks have made it difficult for farmers to develop agricultural production in Hà Nội.
Trần Đình Thành, head of the Farmers Association of Ba Vì District’s Cẩm Lĩnh Commune said the association includes 61 households raising a total of 270,000 chickens, reported by Tiền Phong (Vanguard) newspaper.
It needs VNĐ17 billion (US$748,000) to maintain their breeding activities, he said.
This meant each household was required to contribute about VNĐ300 million ($13,200).
However, most of them could only borrow VNĐ100 million ($4,400) from banks because to borrow more, banks required farmers to use their land-use right certificate as collateral, he said.
Most co-operatives households rent land for breeding farms, so they have no land-use right certificates.
Ngô Thanh Tùng, head of a group of animal breeders in Đông Anh District’s Việt Hùng Commune in Hà Nội said the group was raising more than 50 sows and hundreds of pigs.
The group provided jobs for more than 20 local labourers with regular income of VNĐ3-5 million ($132-220) each month, he said.
Yet he and other breeders could only access 12 month loans from the State Bank of Việt Nam (SBV). The short-term loans affected the breeders’ mindsets as they had to pay their loans back quickly, he said.
Thành said he hoped the Government would help farmers could borrow middle and long-term loans in the future.
In June 2015, the Government issued Decree 55/NĐ-CP, aiming to create favourable conditions for farmers to borrow money with preferential treatment. Under the decree, farmers can get a loan from VNĐ50 million – 3 billion ($2,200 - $1.3 million) but were required to give banks their land-use right certificates before receiving money.
A representative from the SBV admitted to shortcomings in providing loans for farmers.
Nguyễn Tiến Đông, head of the SVB’s Credit Department said he knew many famers failed to borrow money due to the need to provide land-use right certificates as collateral.
Đông said the SVB would ask the Government to amend regulations on mortgages to fix the shortcomings.
Economist Cấn Văn Lực said lending money without collateral should be carefully considered because banks would risks borrowers failing to pay back their loans.
It was easy to see why banks had to carefully calculate the feasibility of a project before lending money, he said.
Lực said authorised agencies were advised to provide training for farmers so that they used the money they borrowed from banks effectively. When they presented a feasible plan, they could borrow money from banks easier.
Telecom firm to compensate child
A branch of the Việt Nam Posts and Telecommunications Group (VNPT) in central Hà Tĩnh Province’s Lộc Hà District yesterday publicly apologised and offered compensation of VNĐ450 million (US$19,800) to a child whose leg was amputated after being crushed in a pole collapse.
On August 2, 2016, five-year old Nguyễn Đức Trần Sang had his leg amputated after being crushed by an electric pole that collapsed while being removed by workers hired by VNPT.
Previously, the branch only offered compensation of VNĐ30 million ($1,300) and kept silent. Local media followed the case and reported on it and authorities at the province and district level asked the company to assume proper responsibility for the accident. — VNS
Thái Nguyên-Bắc Kạn road opens to traffic
A new road linking the northern province of Thái Nguyên and the mountain province of Bắc Kạn has been opened to traffic, shortening the trip from Hà Nội northward to Bắc Kạn from four to two hours using National Highway 3.
Construction of the new road lasted over two years and it runs through complicated terrain, some mountainous. More than one million cubic metres of soil and rock were dug up and over 700,000 cu.m of soil were embanked to build the road.
According to Việt Nam’s highway development plan to 2020, the Hà Nội–Thái Nguyên–Bắc Kạn highway, stretching 90 kms, is one of seven major highways leading to the country’s capital.
EVN HCM City ensures power supply during Tết
Electricity of Việt Nam (EVN) in HCM City is planning specific measures to ensure enough power for the upcoming Tết (Lunar New Year) holiday, which begins this week.
Under the plan, it will not operate anything that requires an electricity cut on the national grid from January 26 to February 1, 2017.
It will also check and resolve any problems on the grid and electrical stations to ensure the grid operates smoothly and safely during the holiday.
EVN Việt Nam and its branches will also ensure there will always be staff available on duty 24/24 to fix any electrical problem during the holiday.
In addition, it will ensure enough power supply for locations where a range of political and cultural activities will be held to welcome the Lunar New Year.
EVN HCM City will also work with local authorities to enhance security of electricity works in the city and ensure fire safety at residential areas, recreational areas and public places.
It has committed to fixing any electricity-related problems immediately to ensure that all the citizens will have a safe and prosperous holiday.
Tết is the most important celebration in Việt Nam. The holiday takes place from the first day of the first lunar month (around late January or early February) until at least the third day.
Gov’t hopes new model will bear fruit
The Mekong Delta is looking for a new model to increase the efficiency of its agricultural production and distribution.
Early last year the Government approved a pilot co-operative model for the delta for 2016 -20.
It seeks to have 10 – 15 new co-operatives with a focus on developing infrastructure for cultivation, improving governance, mobilising capital for stronger connectivity and expanding markets.
“Members of the new co-operatives will contribute money and get quality service, savings and good, steady prices,” Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Trần Thanh Nam was quoted as saying in Thời báo Kinh doanh (Business Times) newspaper.
According to the chairman of the Việt Nam Co-operatives Union, Võ Kim Cự, the most important task for the region is drafting a master plan for co-operatives based on the strengths of each province.
“Developing a new co-operative model is imperative but output and quality should be improved to compete in the domestic and international markets.
“High-quality human resources and high technology are two very important things to ensure the success of the new model.”
According to statistics from the Crop Production Department, the delta now has over 307,000 hectares of orchards, accounting for 37.5 per cent of the nation’s total area, which produce 3.5 million tonnes of fruits each year.
The provinces of Tiền Giang, Vĩnh Long, Hậu Giang, Sóc Trăng and Bến Tre account for the largest areas of high-value produce like banana, mango, orange, coconut, pomelo, and blue dragon fruit.
Vietnamese fruit exports have been increasing. In 2015 the country exported US$1.8 billion worth to 60 nations and territories, eight times the 2005 figure.
In the first seven months of last year exports surged to $1.4 billion, a 135.5 per cent increase year-on-year.
However, the links between production and distribution remain loose, and farmers are ready to sell their produce to the highest bidder and to move to more lucrative fruits without any long-term strategy.
Authorities have not been competent at market forecast and sale and seed and quality management.
“The biggest challenge for our farmers is selling,” Nguyễn Văn Chiến, director of Thạnh Phước Co-operative in Châu Thành District, Hậu Giang Province, said.
“Our sales mostly depend on private dealers, and so prices are very volatile.”
“We wish to have a strong intermediary organisation that links farmers and enterprises for transfer of green technologies based on VietGap standards to achieve steady sales,” Thái Thùy Linh, owner of a dragon fruit farm in Lương Hòa Lạc Commune in Tiền Giang’s Chợ Gạo District, said.
Kids with HIV/AIDS celebrate Tet
The city’s HIV/AIDS Prevention Centre and the Việt Nam Health Improvement Project (VNHIP) hosted a pre-Tết (Lunar New Year) celebration for children with HIV in Đà Nẵng and Quảng Nam Province yesterday.
The event was one in a series of activities that the centre and donors often organise to encourage the children and their families in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
The teen-age children, born with HIV/AIDS, receive medical treatment, nutrition guidance and financial support, as well as scholarships and school facilities from the centre.
Earlier this year, VNHIP, an NGO from the US, and Betula Asian Aid Foundation, signed a new agreement on improving health care for 50 kids and young people under 25 in Đà Nẵng from 2017-21. The project will aim to provide scholarships, school facilities, health care, and life-skills training for those with HIV/AIDS, and to support the children’s families.
According to the centre, some 100 kids in the central city have HIV/AIDS.
The city has been a leader in efforts to control the number of new HIV cases, maintaining a ratio of 0.15 per cent of HIV cases among the population since 2008.
Also yesterday, the Đà Nẵng Association for Victims of Agent Orange (DAVA) organised Tet celebration for Agent Orange (AO) victims in the city, which is home to more than 5,000 AO victims, 1,400 of them children. Over VND54 billion ($2.4 million) was raised from domestic and foreign donors for AO victims in the city.
Donors also presented gifts to nearly 5,000 poor households living in Đà Nẵng and Quảng Nam Province on Saturday.
Semi-trailer rams bus in HCM City, several injured
A semi-trailer and a passenger bus collided yesterday in HCM City’s District 4, leaving the bus driver with a broken leg and 14 passengers slightly injured.
At around 5.30am on Khánh Hội Street near Kênh Tẻ Bridge, the semi-trailer with 6.1m containers suddenly ploughed into the road divider and rammed the bus which was travelling in the opposite direction, according to the District 4 Traffic Police.
Though there were many passengers in the bus, miraculously no one was killed or seriously injured.
Both vehicles were damaged.
On receiving a call, police and firefighting and prevention police officers arrived at the scene to remove the passengers from the bus and take the injured people to People’s Hospital 115 in District 10.
The accident blocked the road until a salvage truck arrived and took them away.
Investigators are examining the cause of the accident.
Two men sentenced to jail for cheating labourers
The Hà Nội People’s Court sentenced two men to jail for cheating labourers of over VNĐ4 billion (US$180,000) with promises of finding them jobs abroad.
Vũ Xuân Thành, 30, a resident of Hoàng Mai District’s Hoàng Văn Thụ Ward in Hà Nội, was handed a 20-year sentence, while Lý Văn Minh, 28, a resident of Thiệu Hóa District’s Thiệu Hợp Commune in Thanh Hóa Province, will spend four years in jail.
As per the indictment, in 2010, Petro Vietnam Machinery-Technology Joint Stock Company (PVMachino) set up an overseas manpower supply and services centre, PVManning, whose main job was to send labourers abroad. In 2013, PVManning opened a labourer training centre in Hà Nội’s Văn Khê new urban area. The centre, however, was not registered so it did not have its own account or stamp. Thành was invited to work at the centre and his job was to find and introduce local labourers to the centre so that they could enrol in its vocational training and foreign language courses.
In May 2014, PVManning’s officials instructed the Văn Khê labourer training centre to stop all activities after figuring out that it was violating rules. However, Thành and Minh continued to approach labourers as Văn Khê centre officials who could help them find jobs abroad.
From May 2014 to May 2015, Thành collected VNĐ3.7 billion from 32 labourers. He would issue receipts himself and also get money from labourers via brokers. From April 2014 to July 2016, Minh collected VNĐ380 million from five labourers whom he promised jobs abroad.
At the trial, Minh returned VNĐ320 million to the victims he had defrauded.
Bus ticket prices increase during Tết
Sixteen transport companies have announced increases in bus ticket prices of between 10 and 60 per cent, depending on the route, during the upcoming Tết (Lunar New Year) holiday.
The main reasons given for the increase at peak times one week before Tết was rising petrol prices and a large number of passengers travelling one-way. Transport companies must therefore adjust ticket prices to offset costs incurred, an official from Tuấn Việt Transport Ltd Co said.
Director of Giáp Bát Bus Station, Nguyễn Tất Thành said the increase in prices would mainly affect journeys over 500km.
At Giáp Bát Bus Station, four transport companies registered to increase bus ticket prices by between 20 to 61 per cent, depending on the period of travel.
From January 31 to February 15, for those traveling from Hà Nội’s Giáp Bát Bus Station to the central city of Đà Nẵng, fares will jump from VNĐ380,000 (US$17) to VNĐ610,000 ($27).
Since January 18 to 23, for those travelling from Hà Nội to HCM City’s Miền Đông Bus Station, prices will rise from VNĐ860,000 to VNĐ1.2 million.
The companies were Thuận Phát Transport and Tourism Joint Stock Company, Vinamotor Investment Joint Stock Company, Trường Khoa Tourism Joint Stock Company and Hải Vân Tourism Service and Transport Ltd Co.
At Nước Ngầm Bus Station, ticket prices for longer routes increased by between 30 and 60 per cent.
Hoàng Long transport company announced that tickets on the route from Hà Nội to HCM City increased from VNĐ950,000 to VNĐ1,330,000.
For short routes, from Hà Nội to northern provinces, the ticket prices remain unchanged.
At Mỹ Đình Bus Station, nine companies confirmed that fare prices would increase by a maximum of 18 per cent during Tết.
Tuấn Việt Ltd Co, providing buses for Mỹ Đình-Nghệ An Province’s Đô Lương route, said the price on this route would rise from VNĐ170,000 to 200,000.
Other transport suppliers confirmed fare increase of 12-13 per cent.
Director of Nước Ngầm Bus Station’s management board, Nguyễn Văn Lập said the increase in fare prices must be controlled by stations’ management boards and be allowed by State’s relevant agencies. A MTV-Hà Nội Bus Station Ltd Co official warned transport enterprises to consider the increase of fare prices, and not to set them too high so as to avoid negative reactions from passengers.
Parks of embankment broken in Hà Tĩnh
The embankment built to prevent landslides, which belongs to the Ngàn Trươi-Cẩm Trang Irrigation Project in the central province of Hà Tĩnh, is seriously damaged.
The embankment is in the lower reaches of the Vũ Quang Dam. The management board of the Ngàn Trươi-Cẩm Trang Irrigation Project is the investor of the dam, while the Sơn Hải Group in the central province of Quảng Bình built it.
According to a Voice of Việt Nam (VOV) correspondent, the part of the embankment that is broken is dozens of metres in length and depth, in addition to being close to the residential quarter, hence locals were worried.
According to initial research of the Sơn Hải Group, the damaged part is some 90m.
Technological experts from the group said the embankment’s technological design is reasonably strong and solid. However, water was discharged via the embankment with great pressure, which had damaged some parts.
VOV’s correspondent tried to meet Nguyễn Bá Đức, deputy director of the Hà Tình Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and also director of the project management board, but Đức said he was busy with conferences.
Health Ministry warn residents to prevent diphtheria
The Ministry of Health (MoH) on Wednesday urged residents to give children the complete four doses of the diphtheria vaccine.
The request was released after two students from a high school in the central province of Quảng Nam died of diphtheria.
Associate professor Trần Đắc Phu, director of the Preventive Medicines Department under the MoH, said that the two students were among 24 sick patients under isolation in the Tây Giang mountainous district.
One of the students died after receiving the wrong diagnosis at first, he said.
"Diphtheria is a viral and dangerous disease with high risk of fatality and no proven medicinal cure," said Phu.
Phu added that Tây Giang District was close to a district of Laos which had seen a diphtheria epidemic killing 600 people in the beginning of 2015. Most of the patients were adults who might not have received the vaccine.
The disease can spread quickly, so the department warned that residents should strictly implement preventive methods.
Children must receive enough vaccination. People must keep personal and environmental hygiene. Residents living in the affected areas must be isolated and receive proper treatment.
Free blood-pressure tests offered in HCM City
More than 280 blood-pressure screening spots have been set up in HCM City under the Communities for Healthy Hearts programme.
Launched in June last year with a pilot programme, the community-based project aims to raise patient awareness of hypertension.
By the end of last year, more than 2,700 people in the four pilot districts of 8, 12, Gò Vấp and Thủ Đức had received blood-pressure screening.
A total of 554 people at the 289 screening spots were diagnosed with high blood pressure and referred to healthcare facilities for treatment.
Nearly 25 per cent of the adult population in Việt Nam has high blood pressure, but less than half are aware of their condition, according to Nguyễn Hữu Hưng, deputy director of the city’s Department of Health.
The programme is part of the Novartis Foundation’s larger effort to combat the rise of chronic disease in urban areas of developing countries.
Two Laotians caught smuggling 41,000 pills
Two Laotians were arrested on Wednesday for smuggling some 41,000 pills of synthetic drugs into Việt Nam, according to the border force of the central province of Quảng Bình.
The local border guards, in collaboration with Laos’ Public Security Department of Khammouane Province, stopped two men in a car at around 11am on Wednesday, about 120km away from the Vietnamese border. Several parcels containing 41,000 pills were found on the car and later tested positive for synthetic drugs.
The two men, aged 40 and 42 years old, admitted to buying the drugs in Laos and were attempting to smuggle them into Việt Nam.
City asks Chợ Rẫy Hospital to build new satellite hospitals
HCM City authorities have asked Chợ Rẫy Hospital, the major hospital in the southern region, to build new medical facilities and satellite hospitals to reduce severe patient overloading at city hospitals.
City Party Committee Secretary Đinh La Thăng said the hospital should be the pioneer in adopting new medical technologies and improve the quality of examinations and treatment.
He spoke on Wednesday during a visit to the hospital on the occasion of Tết (Lunar New Year).
Thăng asked the hospital to apply public-private partnerships to upgrade infrastructure and buy advanced medical equipment and technologies.
The top-tier hospital, he said, should also provide favorable conditions for medical students to practise as well as transfer advanced medical techniques to doctors at provincial hospitals.
He praised the hospital’s achievements and its support for disadvantaged patients over the last year.
Last year, the hospital provided health check-ups and treatment for 1.4 million patients, including many patients with rare and serious diseases, said Nguyễn Trường Sơn, director of the hospital.
The hospital performed its 500th kidney transplant operation last year.
Doctors at the hospitals conducted hundreds of scientific research studies over the period.
The hospital earmarked more than VNĐ11 billion (US$490,000) to assist poor patients and families covered under the Government’s preferential policies, Sơn added.
Traffic inspectors to be prosecuted for receiving bribes
The Cần Thơ City Police on Wednesday asked the municipal People’s Procuracy to prosecute nine traffic inspectors for receiving bribes.
Seven out of the nine people are former leaders and members of traffic inspection teams in different districts in the city, such as the Thốt Nốt, Cái Răng, Phong Điền and Ninh Kiều Districts. The remaining two people worked as intermediaries between traffic inspectors and bribe givers.
The nine people received bribes from 135 organisations and individuals; 260 people are related to the case.
The municipal police has evidence that the inspectors took advantage of their position to receive money from organisations and individuals for looking the other way.
The total bribes reached VNĐ4 billion (US$177,700). The people giving the bribes are from different provinces and cities such as Đồng Nai, HCM City, Long An, Tiền Giang and Vĩnh Long.
Poor students, workers gifted bus tickets to return home for Tết
The Việt Nam Fatherland Front Committee, Youth Union and Student Support Centre have gifted bus tickets to 5,000 disadvantaged students and workers for returning home for Tết (Lunar New Year).
Of them, 4,000 are from central provinces while the rest are from Đà Nẵng and Hà Nội.
This is the 14th year of the charity programme, and the organisers spent VNĐ3.5 billion (US$1.56 million).
Đinh La Thăng, the city Party Committee Secretary, and other city leaders met with the students, who returned home on Tuesday, and gave them gifts and Tết ‘lucky money’.
The workers will leave later.
For the Sài Gòn Railway Station, the peak Tết season has begun.
Đỗ Văn Quang, director of the Sài Gòn Railway Transport Joint Stock Company, said there would be 18 - 20 trains and 12,000 - 16,000 passengers every day between January 17 and 26.
There would also be an increase in the number of trains to Quảng Ngãi, and fares would remain unchanged until January 26, he said.
However, at the Eastern Bus Station, fares to Huế and northern provinces began rising on Tueday.
From January 21 fares to the central provinces of Phú Yên, Quảng Nam and Bình Thuận and Đà Nẵng will increase by a whopping 60 per cent.
The inspectorates of the Departments of Transport and Finance will check fares to prevent illegal hikes, deputy chief inspector of the transport department, Lê Hồng Việt, said.
It would also inspect all buses leaving bus stations to ensure they do not have more passengers than permitted and have all safety equipment, he said.
The bus station has promised to provide good seats and collect only permitted fares.
Health inspectors found 244 cases of unsafe dietary supplements and medicine in 2016
Inspectors from the Ministry of Health discovered 244 cases related to the trade and manufacture of unsafe dietary supplements and pharmaceutical products last year.
The statistics were released at the Ministry’s 398 Steering Committee held on Tuesday afternoon in Hà Nội to review last year’s activities of the fight against smuggling, trade fraud and the trade of fake medical products.
Health inspectors issued fines totalling VNĐ21.7 billion (US$943,000).
Last year, health inspectors found 111 violations out of 137 examined pharmaceutical trading workshops, an increase of 16 per cent against 2015, and fined VNĐ9.2 billion ($400,000), an increase of 57 per cent against 2015.
Meanwhile, health inspectors discovered 133 food safety violation cases. VNĐ12.5 billion ($543,000) was added to the State budget through fines, an increase of 172 per cent against 2015.
Over one tonne of dietary supplements was destroyed due to having unknown origins.
The ministry’s inspectors co-ordinated with relevant offices to examine medical material stores of individuals and companies and trucks carrying medicine, seizing 45.9 tonnes of unlicensed medical materials of 374 different kinds.
Deputy minister of health, Phạm Lê Tuấn said “now is the peak of shopping for Tết holidays, counterfeit goods, poor-quality products trading is increasing, especially foodstuffs, cosmetics and supplemental foods”.
He asked relevant offices to continue inspections at key areas and across the border. Police, customs and market management officials need close co-ordination in the fight against trade fraud and fake medicine.
The deputy minister also asked mass media to help disseminate information on counterfeit and poor quality goods, and goods of unknown origin, that can have a negative effect on people’s health.
Goods included foodstuffs, pharmaceutical products, cosmetics, supplemental food, and banned substances used for food production and poultry breeding.
Famous composer Ca Lê Thuần passes away
Professor-composer Ca Lê Thuần, who helped develop classical music in the country, passed away last Friday (January 20) at Thống Nhất Hospital in HCM City after a period of time of being treated at the hospital for a stroke.
Thuần, from the Mekong Delta province of Bến Tre, was born in 1938. His parents were teachers and his siblings worked in culture and art fields.
He was one of the famous composers in the country, composing opera and music for ballet, which expressed love for the country and people.
His famous music works include the opera of Người Giữ Cồn (The Island’s Watchman), which won a prize at the first HCM City Literature and Art Awards in 2010, Dáng Đứng Việt Nam (Việt Nam’s Standing Posture) written in 1974, and music for the ballet Võ Thị Sáu-Người Con Gái Đất Đỏ (Võ Thị Sáu-The Woman from Đất Đỏ District).
Thuần also was a music researcher and teacher.
In 1989, he was head of the city Department of Culture and Information. He also was deputy chairman of Việt Nam Musician’s Association and chairman of HCM City Musician’s Association.
He was one of two founders of the HCM City Ballet, Symphony, Orchestra and Opera. He contributed to training the city’s talented artists.
He was presented many medals from the government for his contributions.
Korea Corner opens at Hanoi University
The Korea Corner, a small-scale cultural centre funded by the Republic of Korea (ROK) government, has opened to the public from January 19 at Room 302, Building C at the Hanoi University.
Given the high popularity of ROK TV dramas and increasing demands for Korean language lessons in Vietnam, the opening of the Korea Corner will likely draw much attention, said ROK Ambassador to Vietnam Lee Hyuk, in a speech at the opening ceremony.
He expressed his hope that the Korea Corner improve access to information and resource on the ROK, noting it accommodates hundreds of books, movies, TV dramas, music CDs and multimedia equipment to enjoy K-pop music and dramas.
Tet of the old days to be reproduced in Hanoi’s Old Quarter
Visitors to Hanoi’s Old Quarter will have an opportunity to enjoy a taste of Tet (Vietnamese Lunar New Year) along with a wide variety of activities being held from January 19 to February 12.
At the Kim Ngan communal temple is an exhibition of three famous genres of folk paintings in the northern region, namely Dong Ho, Hang Trong and Kim Hoang.
Kim Hoang paintings have been re-established recently and will be showcased for the first time after decades of discontinuation due to most of the woodblocks being lost in a flood in the early 20th century.
The highlight of Kim Hoang is a painting titled “Than Ke” (Divine Rooster), measuring 2.2 x 0.6 metres.
The Tet celebration of a typical Hanoian family in the past will be recreated at the Heritage House at 87 Ma May Street while that of a rural family in northern Vietnam will be reproduced at the Old Quarter Cultural Exchange Centre at 50 Dao Duy Tu Street.
There visitors can compare the similarities and differences of how the Lunar New Year was celebrated between an urban and rural family in the northern delta region.
Calligraphy and folk painting performances in addition to an exhibition of traditional handicraft products will take place at the Old Quarter Heritage Information Centre at 28 Hang Buom Street.
In addition, traditional musical shows will be put on from January 29 to February 1, or from the second day to the fifth day of the Lunar New Year.
Hanoi will not ask churches, temples to ring out to mark Tet: official
Hanoi authorities are not intending to ask churches and temples in the city to ring their bells on Lunar New Year’s Eve, a senior official said on January 21.
“The city does not have any rules about ringing bells on Lunar New Year’s Eve,” Vice Chairman of Hanoi Ngo Van Quy said on January 21.
He added that the city should not ask churches and temples to do so. Instead, they should be able to decide by themselves.
Quy’s statements came after Hanoi's Department of Culture earlier this month asked churches and temples to ring their bells to mark the Lunar New Year as there will be no fireworks shows for the upcoming Tet holiday. All fireworks displays, which used to be a feature of Vietnam's biggest holiday, will be replaced by other cultural events and free performances.
The Year of the Rooster will start on January 28. The country will celebrate with a seven-day break from January 26 to February 1.
Hanoi and other major cities are following the government's call for austerity. The capital city said by scrapping fireworks shows for both New Year's Eve and Lunar New Year's Eve, it would save around VND10 billion (US$440,000), which could then be donated to disaster-hit provinces.
Film on Vietnamese workers in wartime screened in France
A documentary film on Vietnamese workers conscripted to work in war-torn France, directed by Yse Tran, was screened at the French Parliament in Paris recently.
This is the second time a film on conscripted Vietnamese workers has been shown at the French Parliament. The first one was a film on Vietnamese farmers in Carmague of southern France by director Alain Lewkowicz.
Besides the Parliament, the film Forgotten history was screened in various cities of France including Nancy, Thaon-Les-Vosges and Metz from January 16 to 20, with the aim of raising awareness of French people about the plight of 20,000 workers from Indochina, mostly Vietnamese, who were forced to go to France before the World War II to work in weapon workshops, mines and fields. The film is scheduled to be screened on France 3 channel on January 23.
The film was based on a book of French scholar-journalist Pierre Daum, along with historical documents from many sources, including the archives of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development.
Addressing the event, President of the France-Vietnam Friendship Parliamentarians’ Group Pascal Deguilhem said after various ups and downs of history, the two nations treasure their present friendly and cooperative ties. Both nations have the responsibility to further promote their close relations, he said.
Prime Minister visits heroic mothers in Quang Nam
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc visited several heroic mothers in the central province of Quang Nam on January 22 ahead of the traditional Lunar New Year.
He met and presented gifts to Le Thi Tri, 92, and Nguyen Thi Han, 103, in Dien Ban town.
The Prime Minister also offered incense at the memorial site dedicated to Heroic Mother Nguyen Thi Thu, whose nine sons, one son-in-law and two grandchildren sacrificed their lives to the country during the two wars for national independence between 1948 and 1975.
He asked Quang Nam authorities to continue improving the living standards of those who made contribution to the country, their families as well as social welfare beneficiaries.
Binh Duong-based enterprises need 20,000 labourers in early 2017
More than 30 enterprises in the Binh Duong southern industrial hub participated at a job fair on January 22, seeking 20,000 workers.
According to Nguyen Thanh Phuong, deputy director of the provincial job placement centre, participating enterprises needed around 5,000 labourers for the period during the Tet (Lunar New Year) festival, to serve surging demand in the holiday.
Other firms wanted to recruit workers to fill the gaps after Tet because a considerable number of labourers often change jobs after the holiday.
However, as the fair was held just several days before Tet, few workers came to the fair to seek employment.
Located in the southern key economic region, Binh Duong is a leading industrial hub in the country.
Currently, industry makes up 63 percent of the locality’s economic structure, while that of service is 23.5 percent and agriculture only 4.3 percent.
Over the past five years, the industrial production index of Binh Duong increased 11 percent annually. So far, the province has built 28 industrial parks and 10 industrial clusters.
Thanks to its improved investment environment, Binh Duong has attracted 25.7 billion USD in foreign investment, with 2.4 billion USD in 2016 alone.
Good care should be given to patients during Tet: Party official
Devotion from doctors and hospital staff is good medicine for patients, who have to spend their Lunar New Year festival (Tet) in hospital, said Vo Van Thuong, head of the Party Central Committee’s Commission for Information and Education.
Thuong made the statement on January 22 during a visit to Ho Chi Minh City’s Cho Ray hospital, which will accommodate up to 1,700 people during Tet.
He said he expects Cho Ray to boost research activities, create more favourable conditons for patients and improve infrastructure.
The same day, Thuong extended his New Year greetings at the headquarters of Ho Chi Minh Television (HTV).
He said HTV has grown from municipal scale to become a broadcaster for the whole southern region.
He urged the media agency to invest in new technologies and broadcast content to meet audience’s demand.
Also on January 22, a delegation from the Steering Committee for Northwest Region, led by its deputy head Hau A Lenh, visited Sapa district in Lao Cai.
The delegation presented 675 gifts, worth 400,000 VND (17.7 USD) each, to poor households, as well as 75 blankets and 20 boxes of confectionery and clothes to pupils of Suoi Thau secondary school.
The gifts were donated through a charity programme ran by the committee.
Vietnam set to send first workers to Australia, Thailand in 2017
The country is focusing more on improving its workers’ skills to meet high demands from developed markets.
Vietnam plans to send workers to Australia, Laos and Thailand for the first time this year in a bid to expand and improve its overseas labor force.
Dutch vet seeks to save near-extinct elephants in Vietnam
Dutch veterinarian Dr. Willem Schaftenarr is pictured with his colleagues taking care of the herd at the Dak Lak Elephant Conservation Center.
Dr. Willem Schaftenarr, 63, has been a household name among elephant conservationists, mahouts, and the pachyderms themselves in Ban Don (Don Village), which is nestled in the namesake district in Dak Lak Province.
Ban Don is now a popular destination for domestic and foreign tourists because of its elephant population, often used as a means of transport in some tour packages, as well as raced during traditional festivals.
Data shows that the domestic elephant population of Dak Lak experienced a sharp decline from 500 in 1980 to just 43 in March 2016.
Among these, only 16 out of 25 females are under 40 years old, an age when elephants typically stop reproducing.
Dr. Schaftenarr has visited the village three times over the past few years to help local caretakers and doctors treat diseases and injuries on the last tame elephants in an effort to prevent them from dying out altogether.
He has also passed on his knowledge and experience to his Vietnamese colleagues at the Dak Lak Elephant Conservation Center. It is their job to safeguard and repopulate the dwindling domestic herd, overcoming the threat of rampant poaching and poor fertility in the female animals.
According to Huynh Trung Luan, the center’s director, when the center rescued a wild elephant named Jun in April 2015, the 500-kg jumbo was in excruciating pain.
The animal had fallen into a trap while roaming for food in the forest, with his trunk almost severed and bleeding badly.
One of Jun’s feet had become gangrenous, rendering him unable to walk.
The seriousness of the situation prompted the conservation center to seek assistance from foreign experts.
“I instantly thought of Dr. Schaftenarr, who promised to buy an air ticket as soon as possible. Only days later, he arrived, with great concern for Jun’s condition,” Luan recalled.
The veteran doctor identified a foreign object in the mammal’s foot before an X-ray machine was borrowed to confirm that this was the case.
Dr. Schaftenarr stayed around for weeks to conduct an operation to remove a large piece of rusty steel trapped inside Jun’s foot.
“I was revolted at the sight of the metal strap when I took it out of Jun’s foot, but was still able to cope thanks to my experience,” the Dutch vet said with a shrug.
After his first visit to rescue Jun, Dr. Schaftenarr later returned to conduct check-ups on how elephant care and conservation activities were going in Dak Lak generally.
During his third trip to Ban Don, the Dutch expert, Luan and local vet Do Viet Thu worked together to give the domestic elephant population ultrasound scans to confirm their fitness for breeding.
Dr. Schaftenarr said he had gone to great lengths to contact foreign wildlife protection organizations to borrow their mobile ultrasound scanners developed specifically for elephants.
After chaining the females one by one to nearby trees to limit their movement, the slightly built veterinarian asked everyone to back up.
In scorching heat typical of the Central Highlands, Dr. Schaftenarr put on a raincoat, applied cooking oil to his shoulder-length gloves before inserting his arm into the female elephant to determine whether she was in good shape for carriage.
As the ultrasound device slowly made its way toward the elephant’s reproductive organs, she became enraged, whipping her trunk wildly, shaking the elderly vet in the process.
Dr. Schaftenarr hung on however, trying his best to push his arm deep into the raging mammal’s body, though she was continuously releasing gas and feces onto his face.
As the mechanical device went deeper inside the elephant, her vagina, cervix, and ovaries came into sight on the monitor.
Rangers, elephant caretakers and conservationists in Dak Lak have credited the highly dedicated vet with the herd’s considerably improved condition.
He always shows up without delay when most needed and keeps himself updated by email and over the phone on each of the animals’ health.
During his trip to Ban Don in July 2015, it was Dr. Schaftenarr that conducted surgery on Thoong Ngan, one of the herd’s most beautiful bulls, to amputate his almost severed tusk in an attempt to save the animal from dangerous infections.
The operation took place two days after poachers had already attempted to saw off one of his tusks, with the elephant resisting forcefully, sending the thieves scurrying away.
However the resulting wound gnawed at Thoong Ngan, with his marrow and blood dripping from the cut for weeks.
“I have a wife and a daughter who have been wholeheartedly supportive of my efforts to cure and nurse elephants in Vietnam back to health,” Dr. Schaftenarr said.
Through a vet who was also his student, he learned that the Dak Lak Elephant Conservation Center was in dire need of assistance to save Jun, the ensnared elephant in early 2015.
“I was eager to go to the poor animal’s rescue, and just days later, the center called us for help,” he said.
“Elephant conservation in Vietnam remains inadequate, and the herd is dwindling alarmingly. My friends also encouraged me to come and help their Vietnamese colleagues and the endangered mammals there. So I did."
Elephants would previously roam freely in the area, mingling with potential mates, but human settlements have cut off once-popular breeding grounds.
Those kept in captivity are mostly used to ferry tourists around leafy forests.
Their ailing condition, advancing years, loneliness and even mental illnesses have kept females from becoming pregnant on their own, Dr. Schaftenarr observed.
“At the rate they're disappearing, we'll lose the elephants altogether in 10 or 15 years unless we take drastic measures immediately,” he said.
TUOI TRE NEWS
The northern key economic region - 20 years of review
Established in 1997, the northern key economic region, which includes seven northern provinces, enjoys geographical and development advantages.
For 20 years, the zone has driven the growth not only of the Red River Delta but of the entire country.
The northern key economic region, which includes Hanoi, Haiphong, Quang Ninh, Hai Duong, Hung Yen, Bac Ninh, and Vinh Phuc, is the center of Vietnamese politics, economics, culture, science, and technology.
This region leads Vietnam in international cooperation and foreign investment attraction. All the seven provinces have a high development ranking in Vietnam, especially the capital city of Hanoi.
The region’s infrastructure has received major investment, especially the transportation infrastructure, which includes several national highways, Noi Bai International Airport, Haiphong Sea Port, and Lach Huyen Deep Water Port.
The region, unsurprisingly, has an abundance of professionally trained personnel and Vietnam’s highest per-capita rate of students.
As chair of the economic region for the 2015-2016 term and a principal economic driver of the north, Hanoi has expanded and upgraded the core routes linking the capital with Halong City, Haiphong City, Noi Bai International Airport, and Cat Bi airport.
“Hanoi and provinces in the region should unite and propose more feasible solutions to make full use of cooperation, comprehensive development, potential, advantages, and opportunities of each locality and the whole northern key economic region”, said Secretary of the Hanoi Party Committee Hoang Trung Hai at a recent conference on cooperation development in the northern key economic region.
After 20 years, the region has achieved a high growth rate but economists say that cooperative programs have mainly been for exchanging information and experience, and training assistance rather than projects aimed at creating strong breakthroughs.
Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyen Chi Dung blames the lack of a clear coordination and connectivity mechanism.
“Each locality should take responsibility for itself and other member provinces and cities. We need to evaluate the implementation process and make necessary additions and adjustments to meet immediate needs and long-term requirements for regional growth. Each locality’s advantages should be fully exploited and leveraged through connectivity”, suggested Nguyen Xuan Binh, Vice Chairman of the Haiphong People’s Committee.
The region has set a target of achieving a per-capita GDP of US$5,500 by 2020.
Exploring ethnic Cham wedding rituals in Vietnam
Members of Cham Ba Ni, a subgroup of Cham ethnic people, mostly reside in the province’s Bac Binh District.
Their long-cherished cultural legacy is manifest in their dialect, architecture, sculpture and folk art.
Their unique nuptial rituals, which are rich in religious elements, are also part of the heritage.
Couples and their families traditionally go through several steps including the dating rite and engagement ceremony before proceeding with the conjugal ceremonial, which can be held anytime within four months following the engagement.
Like several other ethnic minority communities, Cham people follow matriarchy – a social organizational form in which a relationship is determined through the female line.
As a result, the ceremony is typically held at the bride’s home, where a tent called Kajang likhah is erected and solemn rites are performed.
Intriguingly, newly-weds are banned from having sex until three days after the wedding.
Below are a series of photos by Ngo Quang Phuc showing a wedding ceremony of Cham people in Binh Thuan.
These photos were one of the entries to (Youth) newspaper's year-long competition themed “Vietnam – Country – People" concluding in October last year.
TUOI TRE NEWS
Luxury cars flooding Vietnamese market
Mercedes, Ford, Audi, Porsche and BMW auto manufacturers have been expanding their distribution networks in Vietnam in recent months.
From now to 2020, Mercedes Benz Vietnam plans to double its sales agent network, an important step for the luxury car manufacturer to cement its position in the Vietnamese market.
Speaking to local mass media on December 3, Choi Duk Jun, CEO of Mercedes Benz Vietnam, said together with the expansion of product items, the enlargement of sales agents will be a strategic move that helps Mercedes increase its market share in Vietnam.
Mercedes Benz has the highest number of sales agents in Vietnam with 12 centers throughout the country.
Sources said Rolls-Royce, a brand of German BMW, which also owns two other strong brands – BMW and Mini -- is also preparing to enter the Vietnamese market.
Toyota Vietnam has opened an authorized agent in the central region, raising the number of total sale agents in Vietnam to 44.
Ford Vietnam has opened an authorized agent in Binh Duong province, while it has upgraded Pho Quang branch of Sai Gon Ford into a 3S branch. It is preparing to open another showroom, belonging to Sai Gon Ford, in the central business district 1 in HCMC.
The new centers are reported as having investment capital of VND120 billion. The number of Ford’s sales agents and service centers in Vietnam has increased to 27.
The Vietnamese market had its highest sale growth rate of 60,000 cars in 2016 compared to 2015.
The sale of luxury cars and sports cars also increased sharply. Mercedes led the market segment with 4,401 cars sold in 2016, an increase of 22 percent over the year before.
Meanwhile, Lexus sold 1,665 cars, up by 73 percent. Audi, Porsche and BMW have not revealed the sales, but reported growth.
A source said Porsche had fulfilled its yearly sales plan in Vietnam by mid-2016.
The sales surprised many analysts, because prices had increased sharply.
Lexus LX570, for example, saw the price increasing from VND5.7 billion to VND8 billion, while Maybach S600 was from VND10 billion to VND14 billion. Rolls Royce Phantom price soared from VND54 billion to VND84 billion.
Oxfarm, a non-government organization, on January 12 released a report on inequality in Vietnam, pointing out that the income gap between the richest and poorest Vietnamese people is very large. The richest Vietnamese has the daily income higher than the 10 year-income of the poorest.
In related news, Marquardt from Germany had a working session with Da Nang authorities on its plan to set up an automobile part factory in the city.
Kim Chi, VNN
Business community and the goal of a startup country
Vietnam is working hard to realize the goal of 1 million startups by 2020. This endeavor requires great efforts by both the Government and business community.
Party leader wishes Hanoi a successful New Year
Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong paid a visit to the Party, government and people of Hanoi on January 28, the first day of the Lunar New Year, during which he wished the capital city success in completing all tasks of 2017.
The Party chief lauded the city’s achievements in the past year, noting that the capital is experiencing a flourishing period with high economic growth and improved infrastructure system as well as local’s living conditions.
With an area of 3,300 square kilometres and a population of about 9 million, last year, Hanoi reached a GDP growth of 8.2 percent and 186 trillion VND of budget collection or 110 percent of the estimate. As many as 66 percent of local rural communes were recognised as new-style rural areas.
The Party chief highlighted that there is room for the city to further grow, asking the locality to continue focusing on boosting economic development and fulfilling all socio-
economic targets, thus assuring its important role as the major economic hub of the country.
At the same time, Hanoi should maintain and promote its cultural identity and unique characteristics, while boosting tourism and showing better performance in urban management as well as security and social order protection, he stressed.
The Party leader also underscored the need for the city to take pioneer role in the building of Party and political system as well as administrative reform.
On behalf of the city, Secretary of the municipal Party Committee Hoang Trung Hai pledged that Hanoi will exert every efforts to overcome all shortcomings and limitations to successfully fulfill all set targets, thus building an elegant, civilized and modern city.
The same day, Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong also offered incense to Kinh Ly Thai To at his statue in the Ly Thai To Garden, visited Ngoc Son Temple and King Le Thai To’s Monument in Nam Huong Temple historical relic site, and walked around the Hoan Kiem Lake.
VN targets vegetable, fruit export value at $3b
Viet Nam News
Foreign investment in education sector faces higher hurdles
According to Nguyen Xuan Vang, head of the MoET’s International Co-operation Department, the draft decree is expected to replace current Decree 73 issued in 2012 which showed many problems during the implementation process.
MoET said that the requirement for higher investment capital and lecturer degrees is aimed to raise the training quality of foreign-invested schools.
Interest rate under pressure to remain unchanged
Economic outlook for 2017 through eyes of foreign investors
The Vietnam economy showed resilience in 2016 with GDP growth an estimated 6.2% bolstered mainly by robust domestic demand and strong performance in foreign sector manufacturing exports.
Railway sector strives to compete with airlines
With a small transport market share, the railway sector does not have money to upgrade infrastructure, locomotives and wagons. With poor infrastructure and facilities, it cannot attract many passengers.
Regarding transport market share, a report shows that railways account for 3.2 percent of passenger market share and 1.9 percent of cargo market share.
Deputy PM Trinh Dinh Dung, after a fact-finding trip to Hanoi and Giap Bat Stations, came to the conclusion that the problem is the lack of investment capital for infrastructure development.
It is difficult to allocate state capital for railway infrastructure with a tight budget, or call for investment from non-state sources.
An analyst said it is possible to call for private investments to upgrade trains, locomotives and wagons, but the investments may not be worth it in such poor infrastructure conditions.
Vietnam’s national railway is single-track with total length of 2,609 kilometers of backbone. There are two sizes of railway, 1000mm and 1435mm. The average travel speed is 50 kilometers per hour for passenger train and 25 kilometers for cargo train.
In the last 10 years, only 5.6 kilometers of Ha Long – Cai Lan railway and Cai Lan Station have been built.
The State every year has to spend VND1.4 trillion on the infrastructure maintenance, while the receipts from the infrastructure use (8 percent of transport revenue, about VND400 billion), and from leasing infrastructure items (storehouse, ground and premises, about VND6 billion) just can cover 21-24 percent of the total money needed for the work.
Officials reports showed that the capital allocated to implement the maintenance work just satisfy 38.6 percent of the demand, which explains why passengers complain about the service quality.
The investment capital allocated to develop railway infrastructure in 2005-2014 was VND23.504 trillion, or VND2.612 trillion a year, which only accounted for 10.3 percent of the total investment capital allocated to the entire transport sector.
The low service quality makes it less competitive than other means of transport.
High income residents would rather travel by air with airfare that is competitive thanks to the state’s high investment in the aviation sector and development of air carriers – Vietnam Airlines, Jetstar Pacific, Vasco and Vietjet.
Meanwhile, travelers would choose coach for short-distance trips. Private run transport firms nowadays are very competitive with large-scale marketing campaigns and high-quality services.
The monopoly of the Vietnam Railway Corporation in the last many years has been blamed on the underdeveloped railway services. However, analysts believe that even if the monopoly is eliminated, the problem will still not be settled if the government does not pour capital into infrastructure.
Kim Chi, VNN
Report hails Tay Nguyen’s neighbour districts development
Twenty-nine mountainous districts bordering Tay Nguyen (Central Highlands) have reportedly achieved progress in social and economic development throughout 2016.
These districts have developed especially in terms of infrastructure construction and production, contributing to raising the living standards of local ethnic groups.
The districts cover a total natural area of 2.3 million hectares, with 1.4 million people, including 317 commune-level administrative units and nearly 1,900 villages and hamlets, which include 1,236 villages and hamlets of ethnic groups.
According to a recent report of the Tay Nguyen Steering Committee, in 2016, the districts focused on planning, using land to its potential, converting plant structure and bringing technological advances to production to increase crop yield in areas with ethnic groups.
Many districts in localities bordering Tay Nguyen areas of Khanh Hoa, Binh Phuoc and Phu Yen strengthened agricultural and forestry extension systems, using high yield seeds and good quality breeds in cultivation and animal husbandry to raise people’s income.
In 2016, despite unfavourable weather, the value of agricultural production in the districts bordering Tay Nguyen area was up 7.7 per cent compared with 2015. Some key crops such as rice, maize, cassava, and coffee, as well as pepper, rubber, cashew all increased, with over 71,000ha of rice, producing an average yield of 3.5 tonnes of paddy per hectare; over 116,800ha of cashew; nearly 12,000ha of coffee; and more than 41,300ha of rubber.
Last year witnessed an investment into husbandry in these districts with 1.4 million cattle.
In 2016, the districts invested in building 276 rural road projects, irrigation works, national power grid and water supply facilities. Currently, up to 94 per cent of villages and hamlets have access to the national power grid. Of these, districts in Phú Yên and Khánh Hòa have had all connected to power grid.
Over 96 per cent of communal medical stations in the districts have doctors. The whole region has created jobs for 56,000 workers and provided vocational training to 35,000 people.
Thanks to the positive measures, in 2016, the average income capita reached VNĐ17.6 million (over US$780), an increase of 9.5 per cent compared with 2015, while the poverty rate decreased on average 3.8 per cent per year.
However, according to the Tay Nguyen Steering Committee, the districts’ production has yet to match the potential. Forestry is strong but still underdeveloped. Poverty reduction still faces difficulties and is unstable.
The committee recommended the government and the prime minister allow districts to apply all special mechanisms and policies such as in the Central Highlands.
At the same time, the State was asked to have special preferential policies to encourage organisations and individuals to invest in the development of production, business and services.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development is collaborating with other ministries, sectors and provincial people’s committees in the region to build a master plan for the investment and development of agricultural production and forestry and to implement policies to encourage forest protection and development in association with the processing industry and product sales, the Tay Nguyen Steering Committee said.
An Thoi Port in Phu Quoc Island (Photo: VNA)
Hanoi – Building trademarks for maritime products is crucial for Vietnam to exploit sea resources in an effective and sustainable way, making Vietnam a strong country in terms of maritime economy.
With a total coastline of over 3,260km spanning across 28 provinces and cities, over 1 million square kilometers of exclusive economic zone and more than 3,000 islands and islets, including Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagos, Vietnam’s potentials for sea-based economy are abundant.
The major target of the Vietnam maritime strategy to 2020 is to turn Vietnam into a country that has sea-driven strength and wealth. To this end, it is crucial to build an effective and sustainable maritime economy in line with the development of a strong sea and island trademark of Vietnam.
According to statistics from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, more than 3,000 islands and islets of Vietnam has a total land area of 1,700 square kilometers.
Three islands having an area of more than 100 square kilometers are Phu Quoc in the southern province of Kien Giang, Cai Bau in the northern province of Quang Ninh and Cat Ba in the northern province of Hai Phong. There are 23 islands with more than 10 square kilometers in area, 82 others with area of over 1 square kilometers and more than 1,400 unnamed islets with high potential in tourism and economic development.
However, experts held that only a small number of islands have developed their own trademarks for their tourism and other products.
Many localities are still lacking suitable and comprehensive measures to make a master plan for the exploitation of their sea and island potential. They have underestimated potential of sea resources and environment. The building of maritime trademark has just begun.
The trademark of a maritime country is a collection of sea trademarks, which are not only marked with economic and business features but also with other areas, including names of place, recognised trademarks, and characteristics of culture, history, and prominent figures. It could easily leave strong impression and win customers’ interest.
Trademarks for maritime products are those developed for products and names attaching to the areas of navigation, seafood, tourism, natural resources, sea industries and maritime reserve areas.
The commercial products and names must be famous and become trademarks. A great number of businesses and localities with their strong maritime trademarks will help Vietnam become famous for its prestigious and high quality products.
In recent years, domestic and foreign consumers have become familiar to products with origin from Vietnam’s sea and islands, including Phu Quoc fish sauce, Ly Son garlic and Nha Trang bird’s nets, which have contributed to the growth of Vietnam’s sea and island trade mark.
Huynh Quang Hung, Vice Chairman of the People’s Committee of Phu Quoc district, said the locality has developed a pepper farm to the GlobalGAP standards that would help build the island into a centre for ecotourism, resorts and high-end entertainment nationally and internationally.
The farm is expected to serve as an attractive site for tourists, contributing to expanding the “Phu Quoc Peppercorn” trademark which was recognised by the Department of Intelligence Property in 2011.
Along with peppercorn, Phu Quoc fish sauce and mother-of-pearl are also among trademarks that are being developed by Phu Quoc, said Hung.
Meanwhile, Ly Son island of the central province of Quang Ngai, which is also known as the “Kingdom of Garlic,” is focusing on growing trademark for its garlic.
Garlic brings an income of 1.5-2 billion VND per hectare for islanders each year. The peak season for garlic harvest is in April and May when tourists flock to the island to experience garlic harvesting.
At the same time, the south central province of Khanh Hoa has also worked to promote its own trademark for Nha Trang birds’ net, and the northern coastal city of Hai Phong has been advertising its Cat Hai fish sauce and Cat Ba’s forest bee honey.
According to Vu Sy Tuan, deputy head of the Sea and Island Department under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, the building of trademark for maritime products requires joint efforts of central and local levels.
He stressed the need for specific, proper and synchronic policies as well as strong enough resources.
Tuan also highlighted the necessity of close coordination and high consensus among ministries, sectors, localities and businesses to improve the exploitation of sea resources.
About ten thousand of people visited the Hung Kings Temples Complex on the Lunar New Year’s Day (Photo: baophapluat.vn)
Phu Tho -About ten thousand of people visited the Hung Kings Temples Complex in the northern province of Phu Tho on the Lunar New Year’s Day to pay tribute to the founders of the nation and pray for a happy new year.
Chu Van Duong, a resident in Au Co Ward of Phu Tho province, said as a New Year custom, his family always visit the Hung Kings temples and then worship the legendary ancestors of Vietnam - Mother Au Co and Father Lac Long Quan, at the temples dedicated to them on Sim Hill.
Security situation and environmental hygiene at the temples were well kept this year, said Luu Quang Huy, director of the historical complex.
As the number of visitors were likely to increase in the next few day, Huy suggested that people should continue to promote their sense of responsibility and follow the temples’ regulations to avoid pushing while keeping the environment there clean.
Located on Hung Mountain or Nghia Linh Mountain in Hy Cuong Commune, Viet Tri city of Phu Tho Province, Hung Kings Temple is one of the most sacred places of worship in the country.
People across the country and overseas visit this place every year on the Lunar New Year, and on the national day designated for commemoration of the Hung Kings (the tenth of the third lunar month).
The Hung Kings ruled Vietnam from 2879 BC until 258 BC and are considered as the founders of the nation.
The worshipping rituals of the Hung Kings was recognised as UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2012.-VNA
Retailers boost sales by developing multiple channels
The revenue from e-commerce only accounts for 2.8 percent of total revenue of Vietnam’s retail industry, but state management agencies say they want to see the figure rise to 5 percent by 2020.
Nga, the owner of a fashion shop on Thanh Cong street in Hanoi, has decided to shut down the shop after 10 years of running it. But Nga won’t give up the business. She will continue selling fashion goods, but at home and on Facebook, because the online sale method allows her to save money on retail premises.
“The demand for online shopping is very big, especially from busy office workers,” she said.
She closed the shop and gave back the retail premises to the landlord because she cannot afford the high rent. However, she thinks she will open a new shop again when she saves enough money. By that time, she will sell goods both online and offline to optimize profits.
Nga is one of thousands of private traders in urban areas of Vietnam who have been trying to boost sales through different channels. They are contribyting to the plan of obtaining $10 billion through e-commerce set by the Ministry of Industry and Trade.
According to Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Ho Thi Kim Thoa, the 2015 Online Friday attracted 2,000 businesses. One year later, the event attracted 3,000 business.
Nguyen Thanh Hung, chair of the Vietnam E-commerce Association, also commented that though Vietnam’s e-commerce has been developing rapidly (over 20 percent) in the last 10 years, the market scale and transactions are small. Though the sales at Online Friday 2016 were double the year before, the figures were too small compared with other regional countries.
He cited an official report as saying that the retail industry has been growing steadily by 10 percent per annum in the last 10 years, while revenue from traditional sales accounts for 80 percent and modern sales by 20 percent of total revenue, or 2.8 percent, a modest proportion compared with 12.8 percent in Asia.
Dinh Thi My Loan, chair of the Vietnam Retailers’ Association, commented that retailers should understand they now live in the internet era where new technology trends cause big changes to the retail industry and have impacts on buyers’ habits.
She went on to say that with the number of smart phone users on the rise, shopping via internet will become more and more popular in Vietnam. Therefore, retailers need to diversify their sale channels by integrating online payment into online retail. This will help businesses increase their revenue and improve their competitiveness.
Chi Mai, VNN
Samsung pledges $2.5 billion FDI, asks for more investment incentives
Samsung Display Vietnam (SDV) has expressed its willingness to invest $2.5 billion more in Bac Ninh province, thus raising total investment scale of the project in the locality to $6.5 billion. However, its claims for investment incentives have raised controversy.
Samsung wants its operational project in Bac Ninh province to enjoy the preferential policy offered to ‘large scale projects’ and the investment incentives for 'high technology project'.
It also wants the additional investment capital of $2.5 billion to enjoy corporate income tax incentives as now applied.
Meanwhile, the Bac Ninh provincial authorities have proposed to the Prime Minister to retain the additional incentives (SDV can enjoy preferential corporate income tax rate of 50 percent for three more years for its project in Yen Phong Industrial Zone after it shifts from ‘high-technology project’ to ‘large scale project’).
Vu Duc Quyet, director of the Bac Ninh provincial Industry and Trade Department, said since this case does not come under the local authorities, Bac Ninh will have to report to the Prime Minister for the final decision.
According to Nguyen Hong Nga from the Economics & Law University, it is necessary to clarify that the promised $2.5 billion is ‘additional investment capital’. It will be unreasonable to add the newly pledged sum of capital of $2.5 billion and the $4 billion for the operational project to calculate tax incentives.
Nga believes that Samsung can enjoy investment incentives for its operational project until 2019.
As for the new project capitalized at $2.5 billion, it will be able to enjoy investment incentives from 2018 to 2022. This means that the two projects will be treated separately.
Agreeing with Nga, Bui Ngoc Son from the Institute of World Economics and Politics, said it is necessary to refer to current laws about ‘large scale projects’.
Some investors in the past committed $10 billion with disbursement within five years. But they only disbursed money in the first year or two and then stopped disbursement due to financial difficulties.
The problem was that they still enjoyed investment incentives in the first two years offered for a $10 billion project.
Son noted that Samsung has received many investment incentives from the government of Vietnam and local authorities. Meanwhile, what Vietnam has received is just jobs for local residents.
“Samsung reports the export turnover of several billions of dollar a year, but Vietnam can pocket some tens of millions of dollars only,” he said.
Meanwhile, Nga said it would be better not to consider Samsung’s proposal for incentives, at least for the next five years, because Vietnam now prioritizes to attract investment into high-tech sector.
Exports revenues from the two plants of Samsung Electronics Viet Nam (SEV) in Bac Ninh Province and Samsung Electronics Viet Nam – Thai Nguyen (SEVT) in Thai Nguyen Province were estimated to reach US$35 billion in 2016, posting a 7 percent year-on-year increase despite the impact from Note 7 incident.
Thanh Mai, VietNamNet Bridge