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Vietnam needs IT engineers to meet 4.0 industrial revolution
In Vietnam, IT university graduates are plentiful, but the number of IT engineers qualified to meet requirements in the fourth industrial revolution is insufficient to meet demand.
A report of Navigos, a job consultancy firm, showed that the number of job openings offered in the IT sector in Vietnam increased from 9,000 in 2014 to 15,000 in 2016. In 2016, IT was among the top five industries with the highest recruitment demand.
Meanwhile, the demand is predicted to increase even more sharply in the time to come when Vietnam enters the 4.0 industrial revolution era.
However, the Ministry of Industry and Trade, in its latest report, pointed out that while the worker supply in the IT sector is abundant, the number of workers qualified enough to satisfy requirements in their jobs is not high.
One of the important criteria for assessing an applicant’s qualification and knowledge is the professional certificate.
Surveys have found that certificates on project management skills, Agile project management, Cisco, Microsoft and Amazon Web Service are the most highly appreciated.
Up to 54 percent of employers are willing to pay higher salaries to the candidates who have these certificates.
Regarding the pay for IT engineers, VietnamWorks, in its report released in March, showed developers in Vietnam can earn $1,300-2,000 if they have updated knowledge about the most advanced technologies.
The high pay is attributed to the current recruitment demand which is expected to rise.
The report showed the results of the survey conducted on 2,400 applicants and 70 recruiters in the IT sector in Vietnam.
Fifteen years ago, the demand for IT personnel was mostly for the software outsourcing sector. However, the demand has shifted to the service sector with many software development firms having built their own offices and software development centers in Vietnam.
HCMC remains the country’s largest technology center which had 53 percent of total job openings, while Hanoi had 43 percent in 2016.
According to MOLISA, Vietnam needs 80,000-100,000 workers for the IT sector every year. Meanwhile, there are 30,000 university graduates every year.
“I can introduce job opportunities with pay of $2,500. However, there are not suitable candidates in Vietnam,” Huong from Navigos Search Hanoi.
Kim Chi, VNN
Vietnam’s notorious pyramid firm Thien Ngoc Minh Uy shutdown raises doubts
Thien Ngoc Minh Uy, infamous for duping Vietnamese consumers into joining its multi-level marketing network, has requested to stop operating as a pyramid firm, raising doubt whether they really want to withdraw from the lucrative business.
Thien Ngoc Minh Uy is infamous for duping Vietnamese consumers into joining its multi-level marketing network.
Thien Ngoc Minh Uy was fined a total of VND1.5 billion (US$66,964) by Vietnam’s Ministry of Industry and Trade in 2016 for 80 separate offences, before being hit with an additional fine of VND215 million ($9,598) earlier this year.
The offences include breach of the contracts it signed with network members, failing to meet the level of required training for new members, operating without notifying the local authorities and violating label regulations on its goods.
The trade ministry has said it would handle all violations concerned with the pyramid company strictly; however, Thien Ngoc Minh Uy has recently filed a petition to withdraw from the multi-level marketing scheme, meaning the ministry is also completing procedures to approve their request.
According to the law, once officially able to cease operating its ‘pyramid’ scheme, Thien Ngoc Minh Uy is still required to fulfill all of their obligations to the members of its network.
Given the said violations by Thien Ngoc Minh Uy, the trade ministry has transferred the case file to the investigative police unit under the Ministry of Public Security, which will take a final decision on whether to criminally punish the company.
Old wine, new bottle?
While multilevel marketing is legal in Vietnam, fraudulent variants of the scheme have fooled people with promises of easy money, before eventually scamming large sums of cash from them.
In 2015, Vietnam’s multilevel marketing sector reported more than VND7 trillion ($312.5 million) in revenue, with 1.4 million distributors receiving a total of VND2.1 trillion ($93.75 million) in commissions, according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade.
In most network marketing firms, salespeople not only sell their products, but also encourage others to join the company as distributors. Participants will from then on not only receive commissions for the sales they generate, but also for the sales of the other distributors they recruit.
While people hope that the withdrawal from the multi-level marketing industry by Thien Ngoc Minh Uy will save many from falling victim to the same ‘easy money’ trap, some remain skeptical about the unusual move by the pyramid marketing firm.
It has been speculated that the withdrawal is just another strategy by which Thien Ngoc Minh Uy can continue to attract members to its network, a tactic known as ‘old wine in a new bottle.’
On Tuesday, Thien Ngoc Minh Uy announced on its Facebook page that the trade ministry was handling its request to stop its multi-level marketing operations, accompanied by an outline of its new business model.
The company said it would become a holding company with multiple subsidiaries operating in various business sectors, including multi-level marketing.
This means that while Thien Ngoc Minh Uy will not officially be involved in the multi-level marketing sector, one of its subsidiaries will be a pyramid firm, recruiting new members on behalf of the parent company.
TUOI TRE NEWS
Stricter fuel standards cause headache to major oil refineries
Higher fuel quality requirements have perplexed Vietnam’s major oil refineries.
Major fuel trading businesses were recently required to supply diesel oil level 4 (Euro 4 standard) to the market no later than on January 1, 2018, a move which put Vietnam’s two existing refineries—Dung Quat and Nghi Son—into a tight spot.
The two refineries need more time to upgrade their facilities to reach the required standards.
Dung Quat, Vietnam’s first oil refinery based in the central province of Quang Ngai, had its initial investment project approved in 1997 and revised plan approved in 2005.
At the time the technical blueprint was approved, the products made by Dung Quat were ensured to meet or surpass contemporary quality requirements.
The first batch of products came out in February 2009 and the facility was ready for commercial operation from May 2010, with products strictly meeting Vietnamese quality standard requirements.
In September 2001, following the enactment of the prime ministerial Decision 49/2011/QD-TTg (Decision 49) which requires the supply of Euro 4 fuel products to the market starting from January 2017, Dung Quat has set to upgrading and expanding its production lines.
For a combination of factors, its targets for quality improvement and capacity expansion have yet to be fully completed.
Dung Quat’s upgrade and expansion project was scheduled for completion in 2022.
A recent report by domestic state-owned fuel giant and Dung Quat’s management authority PetroVietnam stated that even when the upgrade and expansion was finalised, Dung Quat could only produce and supply petrol and diesel oil meeting Euro 2 standards.
With the current production capacity of 2.48 million tonnes of petrol and 2.33 million tonnes of diesel oil per year, Dung Quat can satisfy only part of the local fuel demand.
Nghi Son complex (NSRP), based in the north-central province of Thanh Hoa, has run into similar difficulties.
NSRP’s investment project was approved in April 2008 and its master technical design was approved in December 2009.
The bidding process took place in March 2009. This means all important steps for the project’s deployment were implemented before the enactment of Decree 49.
According to the blueprint, the products made by NSRP will met or surpass existing quality requirements. The oil refinery is to begin test-runs and market its first batch of products within this year.
Once operational, NSRP will be producing 1.47 million tonnes of common diesel oil and 2.2 million tonnes of top-grade diesel oil per year.
Both Dung Quat and Nghi Son oil refineries will have a large part of their production falling short of Euro 4 standards, making it hard for these two oil refineries to satisfy the recent requirements on Euro 4 standards.
Earlier, Notice 398/TB-VPCP dated December 2016 of the Government Office stipulated that passenger cars and buses with diesel engines shall be applied Euro 4 emission standards from January 1, 2018, while the deadline for trucks with diesel engines will be extended to 2022.
Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung, however, via Document 436 TTg-CN dated March 2017, asked the Ministry of Industry and Trade to require major fuel trading businesses to work out a plan ensuring the supply and distribution of Euro 4 and 5 fuel products in the market to meet the requirements of Decision 49.
Right in this year’s fourth quarter, these firms must improve infrastructure conditions and other commercial factors to be able to supply Euro 4 diesel oil to the market no later than January 1, 2018.
By Thanh Huong, VIR
FDI attraction up 40.5% in four months
As of April 20, as many as 734 newly-registered projects were granted with investment certificates with a total registered capital of US$4.88 billion, equal to 96% of the same period last year, according to the Foreign Investment Agency, under the Ministry of Planning and Investment.
345 projects increased US$4.36 billion in capital, a year-on-year increase of 241.8%.
Foreign investors spent US$1.35 billion contributing capital to and purchasing shares from local firms, up 106.8%.
The total registered and additional capital in four months reached US$10.95 billion, up 40.5%.
As of April 20, US$4.8 billion in FDI were disbursed, up 3.2%.
The export value of the foreign-invested sector attained US$44.05 billion (including crude oil), up 16.1% and accounting for 71.82% of the total export value.
The processing and manufacturing sector took the lead in attracting FDI with US$7.36 billion, accounting for 69.53%.
The mining and retails sales sectors occupied the second and third positions with US$1.28 billion and US$546.68 million, making up 12% and 5.16%, respectively.
Among 83 nations and territories investing in Viet Nam, the Republic of Korea was the largest investor with US$4.05 billion, accounting for 38.25%. It was followed by Japan and Singapore with US$1.85 billion and US$1.1 billion, respectively.
The northern province of Bac Ninh led in attracting FDI with US$2.7 billion, making up 25.51%, followed by the southern provinces of Binh Duong and Kien Giang with US$1.53 billion and US$1.28 billion, respectively.
Top executive of BMW dealer in Vietnam arrested on smuggling charges
Three people, including the top executive of the authorized Vietnamese dealership of BMW, have been arrested in an investigation involving a batch of the German luxury cars smuggled into Vietnam.
Nguyen Dang Thao is seen in this photo posted on Euro Auto's website.
Officers of the economic police unit under the Ministry of Public Security (C46) confirmed on Thursday that one of the arrestees is Nguyen Dang Thao, general director of Ho Chi Minh City-based Euro Auto, while keeping the names of the other two undisclosed.
Some local media sources said Thao no longer keeps the executive post at Euro Auto – BMW’s official authorized importer in Vietnam providing renowned BMW products and services.
However, the company’s board section on Euro Auto’s website still lists Thao as the general director, according to a check on Thursday by Tuoi Tre News.
The arrest came after the C46 launched a probe into Euro Auto importing and selling a suspicious batch of BMW cars late last year.
In December 2016, the BWM dealer was found to have sold a shipment of imported cars while it was still pending clearance from the Ho Chi Minh City customs agency, in addition to violating multiple regulations, according to the finance ministry.
Euro Auto was also unable to present certificates of origin (C/O) and other papers, documents, and receipts for its imports – a sign of fraud and customer scamming.
An inspection by the finance ministry found that Euro Auto had used fake documents, such as sales contracts and commercial receipts, to import the BMW cars in question.
Also in December, the finance ministry requested that the Ho Chi Minh City customs department suspend all shipments imported by Euro Auto from clearing customs and call on the municipal procuracy to launch a probe into the import and business activities of the car dealership.
The investigation was initiated shortly after, and the three individuals involved were arrested four months thereafter.
Nguyen Dang Thao had been Euro Auto’s director of sales and marketing before being appointed general director in 2015.
Kudos, brickbats greet proposal to double overtime limits
A labour ministry proposal to double the overtime limit for workers to 400 hours per year has evoked a mixed response from workers, and clear disagreement from some officials.
In draft revisions to the 2012 Labour Code, the Ministry of Labour, Invalid and Social Affairs has proposed that Vietnamese employees are allowed to work overtime for up to 400 hours per year.
The current limit is a maximum of 200 extra hours per year per worker, according to Article 106 of the 2012 Labor Code. In some specific areas like textiles and garments, leather, aquaculture processing, telecommunications, water and power supplies, overtime is capped at 300 hours per year.
The latest proposal came at the request of many enterprises who’ve argued for several years that more overtime is needed to improve production efficiency, increase workers’ incomes and raise the competitiveness of Vietnamese labour market.
A study by the ministry showed that the maximum number of overtime hours allowed in Viet Nam was currently 30 hours per month, much less than other countries in the region. The limit was 36 hours per month in China, 45 hours in Laos, 56 hours in Indonesia, 72 hours in Singapore, 104 hours in Malaysia, and no limit in Cambodia and the Philippines.
The ministry said its proposal sought to harmonise the benefits of enterprises and labourers, and boost the competitiveness of Viet Nam’s labour market to match other countries in the region.
Good and not-so-good
Several female workers felt overtime limits should not be increased by much because they needed time to take care of their children and families, the An ninh thu do (Capital Security) online newspaper reported.
It quoted Nguyen Thi Duyen, a female worker at the Bac Thang Long – Noi Bai Industrial Park as saying working overtime helped her increase her income, but she preferred to spend time for her children.
If the draft was approved, enterprises would have a legal basis to ask workers for more overtime work, she said.
Hoang Thu Hang, a female worker in an industrial park in Bac Ninh Province, applauded the proposal.
She said almost workers of industrial parks came from other provinces and had to cover their living expenses and save some money.
If the overtime limit was increased, she could earn more, Hang said.
Not good at all
Le Dinh Quang, deputy head of the Labour Relations Department under the Viet Nam General Confederation of Labour, said he did not agree with the proposal.
Quang said any increase in overtime limits should be carefully calculated to avoid the situation that enterprises take undue advantage of workers.
A representative of an export processing zone in Ha Noi said specific assessments of Vietnamese physical conditions had to be made before green lighting the proposal.
He said that workers at the processing zone had reported feeling faint as they worked. This meant they were suffering from high work intensity.
Other experts also advised caution about increasing overtime limits, saying workers needed enough time to rest so that they could reproduce their capacity.
Lifting farmland limits is key to agriculture development: expert
In 2016, when agriculture suffered from drought, low production and low yield, which led to a negative growth rate, the lowest since 2011, experts said that Vietnam’s agriculture needed critical reform.
At a working session earlier this year in the northern province of Ha Nam, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said that Vietnam needs to shift from ‘untied agriculture’ into ‘tectonic agriculture’.
Government officials and experts have recently mentioned the farmland limit policy as a barrier to large-scale agriculture production which hinders development.
They have called to lift the farmland limit to push up land accumulation and pave the way for large-scale production.
Expansion of land limits and accumulation of land for large-scale production are expected to be the foundation for the branding of farm produce.
Pham Chi Lan, an economist, understands the value of the new policy. However, she said the policy needs to be implemented so that land won’t fall into the hands of a few wealthy landowners.
ADB (Asian Development Bank) commented that it is agriculture which is the key to development of Vietnam, not industry or trendy phrases such as ‘4.0 industrial revolution’.
Sixty five percent of the population live in rural areas, directly or indirectly living on agriculture. And, 47 percent of the labor force works in agriculture.
So, the new farmland policy, once applied, will play an important role for the whole economy, not only for agriculture.
Lan believes that innovation would create new opportunities for Vietnam’s agriculture.
First, farmers will have more land for cultivation because the old principle ‘every farmer has land to cultivate’ has been removed.
“Many farmers don’t cultivate fields any longer. Why do we still have to allocate land to them just because of the principle of allocating land to everyone?” she asked.
“In the past, there were too many farmers, while there was limited land fund. But the number of farmers has decreased, so the farmers who still devote themselves to rice fields have opportunities to use more land,” she said.
Second, the land accumulation will organize large-scale production, empowered by mechanization and high technology.
However, Lan pointed out that the new policy does not simply mean giving more land to farmers, and that the state needs to do more than this.
“The state needs to educate farmers about the rights and benefits they have and the responsibilities they have. It is also necessary to re-organize agricultural production,” she said.
Thanh Lich, VNN
Vietnamese woman mortgages house to send $40k to US ‘boyfriend’
Quang Nam police said on Friday that it had just received a denunciation penned by N.T.P., who claimed to have been scammed by an online boyfriend.
P. had been exchanging Facebook messages with a man by the name of Muller, who claimed to be the ‘Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army’, stationed in Afghanistan, according to the woman’s account.
Muller reportedly confessed his love for P., offering to send her a large sum of money as a gift to prove his sincerity.
A few days later, the man called P. on the phone, telling her that the gift had been confiscated by Hanoi authorities, and that P. would have to pay VND37 million ($1,600) in order to receive it.
Confident in her boyfriend’s words, P. transferred the sum without a second thought, only to be asked to make multiple further transactions that added up to over VND900 million ($40,000).
Not having the large amount of cash readily available, P. mortgaged her house and other properties for bank loans.
It was not until P. had waited too long without receiving any gift that she realized she had fallen victim to a scam and reported her case to the police.
Earlier this year, a Vietnamese woman from Lam Dong Province in the Central highlands was also VND366.5 million (US$16,000) to a self-claimed U.S. military official she had met on Facebook, using similar con technique.
BUSINESS IN BRIEF 29/4
Viglacera to form joint venture with Cuba
The Viet Nam Glass and Ceramics for Construction Corporation (Viglacera)’s annual shareholder meeting on Tuesday highlighted the company’s business plan to implement investment activities in Cuba.
The company plans to set up a joint venture in ceramic and porcelain tiles with chartered capital of nearly US$40 million and total investment of some $61.8 million.
In the first phase, Viglacera will contribute capital by providing technical services, spare parts replacement and cash to renovate two factories to serve Cuban market demand and export and invest in new production lines of sanitary ware and floor tiles.
In the field of tourism and hotels, Viglacera is also co-operating with domestic partners to attract capital to establish a company, expected to have charter capital of some $3 million, to cooperate with Cuban partners.
In addition, the corporation plans to set up a company in Cuba to implement real estate projects, initially to invest and upgrade two hotels owned by two groups in Cuba, at the same time seeking new investment projects.
Viglacera also plans to invest in industrial park infrastructure, with a 168ha project in Cuba’s Mariel Special Economic Zone.
Last December, Viglacera entered into a joint venture partnership with Cuban giant developer Geicon to manufacture building material in the Caribbean island nation, of which, Viglacera was responsible for upgrading two existing ceramics and sanitary ware plants and investing in two more, four years after the joint venture is operational.
PNJ to issue more than 9.8 million individual shares
Phu Nhuan Jewelry Joint Stock Company will issue more than 9.8 million individual shares raising its total charter capital to VND1.081 trillion (US$47.4 million).
The funds will be used to expand its retail distribution network and add working capital to its new shops.
Speaking at its annual shareholders meeting in HCM City on April 27, Cao Thi Ngoc Dung, PNJ’s chairwoman and general director, said the company had set a target to achieve VND10.2 trillion in net revenue and VND751 billion in net profit, a year-on-year increase of 19 per cent and 37 per cent, respectively.
To realise the targets, besides adding high-ranking staff, PNJ will develop its core sectors and maximise its distribution system, especially in markets of high potential, in order to increase the number of its shops to 300 in 2018 from 220 in 2016.
It also plans to improve the application of information technology to its production and trading activities.
PNJ reported revenues of VND8.72 trillion last year, a 12 per cent increase over 2015, with jewellery retail sales going up by 26 per cent.
Its pre-tax profit was VND608 billion last year, a 220 per cent rise year-on-year.
Nguyen Thi Cuc, PNJ’s deputy general director, attributed the company’s success to its focus on investing in modern production technologies, human resource development, effective financial management activities, and professional marketing.
Cuc said with 70 per cent of the country’s 90 million people being of working age and per capita gold jewellery consumption remaining low, compared to other countries in the region, Viet Nam offers great potential for jewellery traders, including PNJ.
The shareholders have approved a 18 per cent cash dividend for 2016.
With its revenue and pre-tax profit increasing by 34 per cent and 105 per cent, respectively, in the first quarter of the year, Dung believes the company will reach its targets for the year.
VIB shareholders approve payout of 44.6% in dividend
Vietnam International Bank (VIB) received shareholders approval to distribute 44.6 per cent dividend payment rate in 2016, including 5 per cent in cash and 39.6 per cent in bonus shares.
The rate is 25 per cent higher than the previous year, which included 8.5 per cent in cash and 16.5 per cent in bonus shares.
At their meeting in Ha Noi on Thursday, shareholders agreed to pay bonus shares to the bank’s employees at a rate of 0.4 per cent of the charter capital.
The bank’s shareholders also approved the business plan for this year, which includes pre-tax profit of VND750 billion (US$33 million), surging 7 per cent over last year’s figure, and VND120 trillion in total assets, up 15 per cent year-on-year.
VIB chairman Dang Khac Vy believed 2017 would be a promising year for the banking industry and the bank would focus on ensuring the quality of products and customer services and investing in human resources to reach the reviewed goals.
Han Ngoc Vu, VIB general director, said the bank would strive to enter into M&A deals and grasp opportunities to buy retail businesses of other banks.
Over the past three months, the bank posted after-tax profit of VND126 billion, up 14 per cent year-on-year.
During the reviewed period, its net interest income, net fee and commission income and gain from investment securities also experienced positive growth of 16 per cent, 31 per cent and 21 per cent, respectively.
Debts purchased from the Viet Nam Asset Management Company were handled well, resulting in a decrease of 2.19 per cent in the bank’s non-performing loan ratio as of March 31, lower than the 2.58 per cent seen at the end of 2016.
VIB shares (code VIB), meanwhile, dropped 0.5 per cent to close at VND20,000 on the Unlisted Public Company Market (UPCoM) on Thursday.
Vingroup targets 40% revenue growth, lower net income
Leading business conglomerate Vingroup, one of the nation’s largest real estate developers and a retail sector giant, targets higher revenues but expects lower net profit this year.
At the group’s annual shareholders meeting held on Wednesday in Ha Noi, the board of shareholders approved a total revenue target of VND80 trillion (US$3.5 billion) for the year, and a post-tax income of VND3 trillion ($134.2 million).
In 2016, the company earned net revenues of VND57.61 trillion ($2.57 billion), up 69 per cent over 2015, and a post-tax income of VND3.51 trillion ($157 million).
The group’s 2017 targets show a year-on-year drop of 15 per cent in post-tax income, but a 40 per cent increase in revenues.
The value of real estate transactions was VND83 trillion ($3.7 billion), with 15,000 apartments, villas, townhouses and hotel condos sold.
Vingroup Chairman Pham Nhat Vuong said that increase in revenues do not necessarily mean an equally high increase in profits, because of changing market conditions.
Vingroup paid VND6.18 trillion ($276 million) in taxes in 2016.
The group informed its shareholders that it would continue to issue new shares and intensify focus on its retail sector operations.
The group’s stocks are publicly traded on the HCM Stock Exchange under the stock code of VIC. On Thursday, VIC stock stood at VND40,900 per share.
Announcing its audited, consolidated earning results for 2016, the group said net profit attributable to the shareholders was VND2.43 trillion or VND1,178 per basic and diluted share compared to VND1.21 trillion or VND558 per basic and diluted share the year before.
All of Vingroup’s core businesses grew and secured significant market shares last year, the meeting heard.
The retail sector showed the most significant growth last year, as its supermarket chains, convenience stores and other retail outlets posted a 115 per cent increase over 2015, earning total revenues of VND9.24 trillion ($413.4 million).
Three years after it entered the sector, the group now operates more than 1,000 retail stores across the country, serving more than 56 million customers.
Other areas earning high returns in 2016 included the hotel, travel and recreation business with VND4.25 trillion ($190 million) for a 49 per cent increase from 2015’s figure; the health and medical care service sector with VND1.09 trillion ($48.77 million) for a 42 per cent increase; and the education sector with VND713 billion ($31.9 million), a 39 per cent increase.
Vingroup opened two new hotels and 10 new shopping malls in 2016, bringing the total to nine hotels and 32 malls.
The board’s decisions and future business plans received near unanimous approval of 96 to 100 per cent from shareholders.
Household firms fear red tape
The Government should create the best possible conditions, including easing tax procedures, to encourage household businesses to expand into companies.
Speaking at a seminar on April 27 on “Transforming household businesses into companies” organised by Tuổi Trẻ (Youth) newspaper, Nguyen Thi Cuc, chairwoman of the Vietnam Taxation Consultancy Association and former deputy head of the General Department of Taxation, said, “Household businesses worry about the complex procedures and paying higher taxes and so don’t want to expand into companies.”
There are around five million household businesses in the country with total annual turnover of US$100 billion and nearly eight million employees.
Household businesses are mostly involved in trading and services, especially wholesale and retail business, accommodation, food, and motorbike and car repair.
But since they are designated as household businesses, they face limitations with respect to their development.
“They cannot expand to other districts, can’t do business in several industries, can’t employ more than 10 workers and have limited financial resources,” Phan Duc Hieu of the Central Institute of Economic Management said.
He pointed out they would have certain advantages if they expand into companies like better labour quality, accurate taxes and greater capacity to mobilise financial resources.
“The process of upgrading into an enterprise is very simple, and household businesses can benefit from consultation and incentives from the Government [for upgrading].”
However, when asked in a recent survey by the institute what problems they fear in upgrading, household businesses said they would have to pay higher salaries, social insurance and bonus for employees; adopt a complex accounting system; follow many cumbersome procedures and spend more on management and other fees; undergo regular inspections; and would be unable to negotiate their taxes like they do as household businesses.
To encourage businesses to upgrade, Cuc said the Government should pass a Small and Medium Sized Enterprises Law.
“The Government should show household businesses through a clear legal framework how they can benefit if they expand into enterprises.
“Administrative reforms should be sped up to reduce costs and time for them.
“The Government should support household businesses in terms of technology, market information and product demand if they turn into enterprises.”
Hieu said, “Relevant authorities should review the whole legal system, especially on taxation, conditions for doing business and investment to create the best conditions for small enterprises.”
He also wanted more taxation and accounting agencies set up to support them.
HCM City authorities are encouraging and helping household businesses become companies to achieve the city’s target of registering more than 50,000 enterprises this year and having a total of 500,000 by 2020.
NCB to raise total asset to 4.18 bln USD
The National Citizen Joint Stock Commercial Bank (NCB) has set to raise total value of its asset to 95 trillion VND (4.18 billion USD) in 2017, up nearly 40 percent from last year, heard a shareholders meeting on April 27.
The bank’s net revenue is expected to hit 350 billion VND (15.4 million USD), up 60 percent against the last year, the bad debt rate is kept at below 3 percent.
This year, NCB will focus on improving its business model, enhancing risk management capacity, and expanding customer and partner ecosystems.
It will select foreign strategic shareholders among its partners, which are interested in adding 3 trillion VND more to NCB’s charter capital.
Last year, NCB started a development strategy for the 2016-2020 period and made impressive performance.
The State Bank has approved NCB’s plan to open six more transaction points.
NCB’s report shows that the bank’s total asset was valued at 70 trillion VND (3.08 billion USD) in 2016, registered growth of 43 percent against 2015.
Capital mobilisation and lending recorded high growth, hitting over 18,467 billion VND (812.5 million USD) and 8,937 billion VND (393.2 million USD), respectively.
The bank’s 2016 revenue reached 211 billion VND (over 9.28 million USD), 91 percent high than 2015. The quality of balance sheet has been improved and the rate of bad debt stood at below 3 percent.
NCB, established in 1995, started off as a bank for the agricultural sector before transforming into a commercial bank in 2014.
It was named the “Most Innovative Retail Bank Vietnam 2015” and “Most Innovative Bank for Enterprise Culture Vietnam 2015” by the UK-based Global Banking and Finance Review.
Vietjet Air launches Hanoi-Singapore service
Vietnam’s low-budget Vietjet Air officially launched a flight between Singapore and Hanoi from Singapore’s Changi international airport on April 27.
The airline hoped the new route will meet travelling demand and help facilitate trade and integration in the region.
The daily flight will take 2 hours and 55 minutes, taking off from Hanoi at 10:00 and landing Singapore at 13:55 (Singapore time) and taking off from Singapore at 14:55 and landing Hanoi at 16:50.
Vietjet is the first airline in Vietnam to operate as a new-age airline with low-cost and diversified services to meet customers’ demands. A member of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) with the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) certificate, the airline was also named as one of the Top 500 Brands in Asia 2016 by global marketing research company Nielsen and “Best Asian Low Cost Carrier” at the TTG Travel Awards 2015, which compiles votes from travelers, travel agencies and tour operators in throughout Asia. The airline was also rated as one of the top three fastest growing airline brands on Facebook in the world by Socialbakers.
Currently, the airline boasts a fleet of 45 aircraft, including A320s and A321s, and operates 350 flights each day. It has already opened 63 routes in Vietnam and across the region to international destinations such as Thailand, Singapore, the Republic of Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia, China and Myanmar. It has carried nearly 35 million passengers to date.
Toyota Vietnam produces 400,000th car
Toyota Motor Vietnam (TMV) completed the production of its 400,000th car on April 27, marking the company’s development milestone in the Vietnamese market.
At a ceremony in celebration of the event, TMV President Toru Kinoshita said his company has been working on the improvement of assembly lines and product quality.
This is the reason why Toyota is listed among favourite brands in Vietnam’s domestic auto market.
TMV started production in Vietnam in 1996, with two cars per day on average. Now, the figure is 170, with cumulative sales as of 2016 exceeding 412,000 cars.
Brazil initiates anti-dumping probe on welded steel pipes
The foreign trade secretariat of Brazil has announced it has begun an antidumping duty investigation on imports of welded austenitic stainless steel pipes from Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand.
The inquiry is predicated upon a complaint filed by Aperam Inox Tubos Brasil Ltda and Marcegaglia do Brasil Ltda covering the period between October 2015 and September 2016.
The goods in question fall under Custom Tariff Statistics Position Numbers 7306.40.00 and 7306.90.20.
Travellers flock to resort cities for holidays
Almost all hotels in the resort cities of Sa Pa and Đà Lạt are reportedly fully booked for the four-day Reunification and Labour Day holidays.
Travellers complain that the rates of the few remaining rooms have doubled, but that they don’t have a choice now.
Sa Pa and Đà Lạt were last year named among the best destinations for 2017 by TripAdvisor travellers.
As most of southern Việt Nam is going through one of the hottest summers in years, there will certainly be huge crowds in places that can offer some relief from the heat.
Vietnam Airlines has added 175 flights on domestic routes, anticipating a 15 per cent increase in demand compared to last year.
Railway companies will also schedule dozens of extra trips to destinations such as Nha Trang and Phan Thiết.
Mekong Delta farmers begin shrimp harvest
Farmers in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta region have begun this year’s first harvest season of brackish water shrimp, earning strong profits due to high prices and favourable breeding conditions.
The price of 30-piece-per-kilo size black tiger shrimp, which is bought at ponds by traders, is 245,000-250,000 VND (10.6-10.8 USD) a kilo.
Nguyen Duy Bao, who rotates growing shrimp and rice in a rice field in Kien Giang province’s An Minh district, said “At this price, shrimp-rice rotating farmers can earn a profit that is equal to 60-70 percent of the production cost of shrimp.”
In the early months of this year the weather was not severe as during the same period of last year, so shrimp grew quickly, Bao said.
Farmers in Kien Giang have bred more than 102,000ha of shrimp in the first three months of the year, up 11 percent against the same period last year, according to the province’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.
In Ca Mau province, which is the country’s largest shrimp producer, farmers who began breeding shrimp fries early this year have reaped their harvest.
Nguyen Van Thoa in Ca Mau province’s Phu Tan district has sold two ponds of white-legged shrimp after three months of breeding and got a profit of 700 million VND (30,400 USD).
Many farmers here have not bred shrimp this year because they were afraid of severe drought, salt water intrusion and poor harvest as last year, Thoa said.
This year, saline water intrusion in the delta occurred late and the salinity has been low so many farmers are waiting for the proper time to release shrimp fries into ponds for breeding.
At present, the weather is hot, causing a high content of pH (potential of hydrogen) in shrimp ponds or rapid growth of algae in shrimp ponds. This could affect the growth of shrimp.
Quach Thi Thanh Binh, deputy head of the Soc Trang province Aquaculture Sub-department, said farmers should regularly carry out water inspections as well as heed the warning of competent agencies about shrimp diseases in order to choose a proper time to put water into shrimp ponds.
Soc Trang will enter its main period for releasing shrimp fries into ponds for breeding after May when the rainy season officially begins, according to the province’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.
The province’s shrimp breeding areas expect to increase as the price of shrimp is high this year, said the department.
Soc Trang farmers have harvested more than 1,000ha of shrimp with a total yield of 4,153 tonnes so far this year.
Ngo Thanh Linh, General Secretary of the Ca Mau Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers, said most shrimp processors in Ca Mau are facing a shortage of shrimp material.
The supply of raw shrimp can only meet 40-50 percent of the demand of large shrimp processing firms in the province, he said.
In addition, the third quarter of the year is the main shrimp export season so most domestic shrimp processors are buying more raw shrimp to ensure their production.
The domestic supply of raw shrimp will not meet the demand of shrimp processors in the coming time and the price of shrimp will remain high, Linh said.
The delta, which accounts for more than 80 percent of the country’s shrimp breeding area, has raised more than 536,000ha of shrimp as of the end of last month, up about 53,300ha against the same period last year.
Honda Viet Nam recalls 300 Civic cars
Honda Viet Nam is recalling 300 cars of the Civic 15TOP 2016 model over the faulty three-way connector in the cooling system, according to Register Viet Nam.
Three-way connector is the coolant transfer port for the engine cooling system. While replacing the entire cooling water in the system, some impurities in the cooling system may adhere to the screws on the three-way adapter, making the connector’s cross section narrower than the standard and resulting in insufficient supply of cooling water..
This phenomenon can cause the air’s failure to return to the expansion box and mix with the cooling water, and hence reduce the cooling effect. Thus, overheating of the engine can occur and the MIL warning light will illuminate. In the worst case, it can damage the engine, Register Viet Nam said.
All cars recalled under this campaign were produced in Thailand in 2016, of which, Honda Việt Nam imported and distributed 300 cars.
The process of checking and replacing the three-pipe coupling of the engine cooling system is expected to take 20 minutes for each car. Replacement parts and labour cost associated with the recall will be paid by Honda Viet Nam.
The recall campaign is scheduled to end on April 13, 2018.
Civic is the latest model introduced by Honda Viet Nam in the market in January 2017. The new-generation Civic has been completely transformed from the previous generation model – in terms of both the exterior and interior – especially the 1.5 litre turbocharged engine.
Earlier, in March, Honda Viet Nam recalled 1,355 cars to repair and replace air bag inflators of models Honda Civic, Honda CR-V and Honda Accord.
Hạnh Nguyễn becomes SASCO chairman
Branded goods trader Jonathan Hạnh Nguyễn has been voted as chairman of the Southern Airports Services Joint Stock Company (SASCO).
Hạnh replaces Đoàn Thị Mai Hương for the remaining duration of her 2015-19 term.
Hương took over the position of SASCO’s general director on April 20.
Hạnh’s wife, Lê Hồng Thuỷ Tiên, is currently a member of the SASCO’s executive board, but she will not be a part of the company’s management.
Tiên joined SASCO in 2014. She is now general director of Imex Pan Pacific Trading Group (IPP), which holds 31.6 million shares of SASCO, equivalent to 24.05 per cent, or VNĐ784.4 billion (US$34.46 million).
As per a VnEconomy.vn report, two other subsidiaries of IPP, Âu Châu Fashion and Cosmetics Co Ltd and Duy Anh Fashion and Cosmetics Co Ltd, have 14.6 per cent and 5 per cent stake in SASCO, respectively.
In all, IPP and its members have 44 per cent of SASCO shares. The company’s shares are currently at VNĐ24,800 per share, with a market capitalisation of VNĐ3.26 trillion.
Hạnh’s family is known to have recently entered the aviation sector business. SASCO is an affiliate of Airports Corporation of Việt Nam (ACV) and is among the largest airport service providers in the country, operating duty-free shops, restaurants, guest rooms and transport services. ACV holds 49.8 per cent of SASCO’s capital.
In the first quarter of this year, SASCO earned VNĐ597 billion in revenue and made an after-tax profit of VNĐ66 billion. The company has set a target to earn VNĐ2.2 trillion this year and make an after-tax profit of VNĐ220.7 billion.
SASCO has a charter capital of nearly VNĐ1.32 trillion. In 2014, the company’s initial public offering (IPO) saw one of the most remarkable transactions of the year, when 145 million shares were ordered, five times higher than the offering. Shares were sold at an average price of VNĐ19,330 per share.
FLC Group targets double revenue this year
Property developer FLC Group is targeting integrated revenue of VNĐ13 trillion (US$577.7 million) and pre-tax profit of VNĐ1.23 trillion in 2017, double the figures of the previous year.
This was announced at the group’s shareholder meeting held in Hà Nội on Monday. The meeting was organised earlier than usual as FLC is in a rush to introduce its real estate projects to the market.
Last year, FLC witnessed achievements in the property sector, with total sale revenue of more than VNĐ5.87 trillion, of which, its revenue from resorts reported positive results.
FLC has brought a range of large projects into operation, including FLC Quy Nhơn, the seaside ecological resort at Hồ Xuân Hương in the central province of Thanh Hóa.
In addition, it has implemented other large real estate projects nationwide, such as the second phase of FLC Sầm Sơn, Vĩnh Thịnh-An Tường (Vĩnh Phúc), Quảng Bình, Hạ Long (Quảng Ninh) and Đồ Sơn (Hải Phòng), with total investment of several thousand trillions of đồng.
It has also been successful in its sale offer of several commercial housing projects in Hà Nội, such as FLC Complex 36 Phạm Hùng and FLC Twin Towers 265 Cầu Giấy.
Following these achievements, FLC has been listed as one of top 50 most valuable brand names in Việt Nam by Brand Finance and one of the strongest brand names of 2016.
FLC’s stock continues to be one of the most active shares in terms of liquidity and average transaction amount.
The group issued stocks to its current shareholders and mobilised over VNĐ1.08 trillion, bringing its total chartered capital to VNĐ6.38 trillion since August 19, 2016.
Last year, it posted integrated revenue of VNĐ6.65 trillion, representing an 11 per cent year-on-year increase. Its pre-tax profit increased by 15 per cent from the previous year to VNĐ1.33 trillion and the company contributed VNĐ361 billion to the State budget.
Until the end of last year, its total assets reached VNĐ17.9 trillion, posting an 80 per cent increase from the previous year, while its ownership capital was VNĐ8.4 trillion.
Accordingly, FLC plans to pay dividend at the rate of 10 per cent of its charter capital, including 3 per cent in cash and 7 per cent in stocks equivalent to 44.7 million shares, in the second quarter of the year after receiving approval from the State Securities Commission.
“The rate of dividend payment from 2017 onwards would always be higher than the previous years,” Trịnh Văn Quyết, FLC’s chairman of the management board, said.
He said the group would mobilise resources to accelerate progress of its resort projects to complete the set targets. It would also negotiate to acquire other real estate projects while continuing development of industrial parks (IPs) such as Hoàng Long IP in Thanh Hóa Province and Tam Dương II and Chấn Hưng IPs in Vĩnh Phúc.
Lê Thành Vinh, FLC’s general director, said each of its resorts has created jobs for some 1,000-2,000 people per year, contributing to its prestige.
He said this was the reason many large international organisations met with FLC to seek co-operation.
Answering shareholders’ question on the construction of the Sơn Đoòng cable car in the central province of Quảng Bình, Quyết said FLC has conducted a study and survey on the project prior to calling for investment from the locality.
“It is noted that, if deployed, the cable car certainly does not enter the cave, only reaching the area near the cave’s entrance. The terminal of the cable car is a few kilometres from the entrance", he said, adding that the project would only be implemented if it received approval from relevant parties and completed all necessary procedures.
He also said FLC Group planned to merge FLC and FLC Faros Company.
In the future, the group will invest in a casino on Ngọc Vừng Island and twin towers of 60 floors each in the northern province of Quảng Ninh.
Leading construction trade fair opens in Hanoi
The largest construction trade fair in the country– Contech Vietnam 2017 – opened its doors today (Apr. 25) at the National Exhibition Construction Centre located at No. 1 Do Duc Duc Street in the Nam Tu Liem District of Hanoi.
leading construction trade fair opens in hanoi hinh 0 More than 200 exhibitors from Germany, the EU, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia, China and Vietnamare showcasing a vast array of products for the all phases of the construction and mining industry.
In a keynote address, Thai Duy Sam,vice chair of the Vietnam Construction Association noted the event offers opportunities for local businesses to purchase the latest machinery and equipment from top leading manufacturers from around the globe.
The event runs through April 28.
Int’l food & hotel exhibition underway in HCM City
The International Food & Hotel Vietnam 2017 is taking place in Ho Chi Minh City from April 25-27.
The exhibition is held by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) Exhibition Service Co., Ltd and Singapore Exhibition Services (UBM SES).
This year’s event drew over 600 businesses from nearly 40 countries and territories to showcase the latest technologies in food and hotel services.
The event houses 20 international pavilions from Canada, the US, Spain and Turkey, offering fresh and dried vegetables and fruits, canned and frozen products, poultry meat and seafood, and processed food.
For instance, the US booth brought together around 40 food and beverage companies from 14 states, providing numerous cooperation opportunities for Vietnamese importers and distributors.
Director General of UBM SES BT Tee said businesses could seek suppliers of food products and materials at the exhibition.
Conference offers trade opportunities to Vietnam, China businesses
A conference on Vietnam – China trade cooperation was organised in Hanoi on April 25 by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) and China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT) in Zhejiang.
The event was designed to provide opportunities for enterprise of Vietnam and China’s Zhejiang province to meet and look for cooperation possibilities.
At the function, Do Kim Lang, deputy head of the Vietnam Trade Promotion Agency (Vietrade), stressed Vietnam is the biggest partner of China in ASEAN, adding that Vietnam has made great efforts to stabilise the currency exchange rate and improve the business climate for both domestic and foreign investors.
Huang Xiao Hang, deputy head of the CCPIT Zhejiang, said more than 30 firms from his province want to meet their Vietnamese peers, adding that his agency expects to help both sides step up partnerships in garment-textile, leather and footwear.
VCCI General Secretary Pham Thi Thu Hang noted that China had been the biggest trade partner of Vietnam and the country’s top export market for 11 consecutive years.
Hang quoted the CCPIT’s assessment that Zhejiang boasts the highest number of firms investing in Vietnam and doing business with Vietnamese firms, compared to other Chinese provinces.
She said she expects the conference will contribute to boosting connection between Vietnamese and Chinese businesses.
According to the General Department of Vietnam Customs, trade between Vietnam and China amounted to 71.9 billion USD last year, up 7.9 percent year on year.
By the end of March 2017, China was ranked 8th among foreign investors in Vietnam with 1,615 projects worth 11.1 billion USD.
SSI to issue bonds worth VNĐ300 billion again
Saigon Securities Incorporation (SSI) has decided to issue bonds worth VNĐ300 billion (US$13.3 million) to financial and credit institutions.
The company will issue 600 two-year bonds at a par value of VNĐ500 million each. This is a type of non-convertible bond with secured property and priority payment as other secured debts, issued and paid in VNĐ, and issued in the form of book entries.
The interest rate is calculated on the basis of one-year interests for individual customers of five banks – Vietcombank, Vietinbank, BIDV, Agribank and VIB – plus amplitude. The amplitude in the first 12 months is 1 per cent annually; and from the 13th to the 24th month it is 1.2 per cent. Bonds will be paid only once, at the time of maturity of the bonds; bond interest will be paid once a year.
The VNĐ300 billion mobilised capital is expected to be used for underwriting, investing in listed bonds, and increasing the capital for SSI’s activities, but excludes other investments and stock trading.
This is the second time in 2017 that SSI has issued bonds, increasing the total value of bonds issued after both sessions to VNĐ600 billion.
In January, SSI had issued bonds of VNĐ300 billion to individuals and non-financial investors for diversifying mobilised funds and raising medium-term capital in its capital structure.
At its annual shareholders’ meeting on April 21, SSI reported that the company’s business earnings for 2016 reached VNĐ2.312 trillion, exceeding 60 per cent of the target and up 28 per cent against 2015. Its pre-tax profit was VNĐ1.056 trillion, 11.24 per cent higher than the target.
For 2017, SSI plans a consolidated revenue target of VNĐ2.108 trillion and consolidated profit before tax of VNĐ1.058 trillion.
Conference offers trade opportunities to Vietnam, China businesses
A conference on Vietnam – China trade cooperation was organised in Hanoi on April 25 by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) and China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT) in Zhejiang.
The event was designed to provide opportunities for enterprise of Vietnam and China’s Zhejiang province to meet and look for cooperation possibilities.
At the function, Do Kim Lang, deputy head of the Vietnam Trade Promotion Agency (Vietrade), stressed Vietnam is the biggest partner of China in ASEAN, adding that Vietnam has made great efforts to stabilise the currency exchange rate and improve the business climate for both domestic and foreign investors.
Huang Xiao Hang, deputy head of the CCPIT Zhejiang, said more than 30 firms from his province want to meet their Vietnamese peers, adding that his agency expects to help both sides step up partnerships in garment-textile, leather and footwear.
VCCI General Secretary Pham Thi Thu Hang noted that China had been the biggest trade partner of Vietnam and the country’s top export market for 11 consecutive years.
Hang quoted the CCPIT’s assessment that Zhejiang boasts the highest number of firms investing in Vietnam and doing business with Vietnamese firms, compared to other Chinese provinces.
She said she expects the conference will contribute to boosting connection between Vietnamese and Chinese businesses.
According to the General Department of Vietnam Customs, trade between Vietnam and China amounted to US$71.9 billion last year, up 7.9% year on year.
By the end of March 2017, China was ranked 8th among foreign investors in Vietnam with 1,615 projects worth US$11.1 billion.
Long An looks to become modern industrialised province by 2020
Although Long An province has taken the lead in foreign direct investment (FDI) attraction in the Mekong Delta, it is still using different measures to improve its competitiveness and investment climate so as to become a modern and sustainable industrialised province by 2020.
Nearly 800 FDI projects worth almost US$6 billion are registered in Long An. About 500, or 62.5%, of the projects are operational with about US$3 billion already disbursed.
They concentrate in industrial parks and clusters in key economic districts such as Duc Hoa, Ben Luc, Can Duoc and Can Giuoc, and Tan An city.
The UK, China’s Taiwan, Japan, Singapore, the Republic of Korea, and the US provide the most funds of the 37 countries and territories that invest in the province.
FDI projects are said to have been making a breakthrough in local industrialisation and modernisation, promoting economic restructuring, job creation, and social issues settlement.
From now to 2020, Long An will give top priority to FDI projects in urban residential area construction, transport and industrial infrastructure, hi-tech agriculture, and support industry, according to provincial authorities.
Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Tran Van Can said more effective solutions are being used to create a more favourable investment environment.
The administration will strictly deal with sluggish projects by cancelling them, resizing the project area to suit investors’ actual capacity, or extending the deadline for project implementation.
It will also restrict permission for projects that may cause serious environmental pollution, reclaim rice farming land, or do not match local planning, Can said.
Long An, 15th in the Provincial Competitiveness Index rankings last year, will step up administrative reforms and put its public administrative centre into use soon to save time and cost for people, businesses, as well as civil servants, the People’s Committee said.
They are going to develop vocational training establishments to improve the local workforce’s capacity, thus meeting enterprises’ employment demand.
About 5,000ha of land will be ready soon to accommodate investment projects through 2020. Areas in the districts of Dong Thap Muoi, Can Duoc and Can Giuoc will be zoned for hi-tech agricultural activities, according to the provincial Department of Natural Resources and Environment.
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Sea, islands week held in Ca Mau province
The annual Vietnam Sea and Islands Week will take place in the southernmost province of Ca Mau in June in response to World Oceans Day (June 8), the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment announced.
This year’s event, themed “Our oceans, our future”, will feature various activities, including meetings, beach clean-ups and providing gifts and medicines to soldiers and people on Hon Chuoi island.
The ministry ordered organisations and agencies to hold activities in response to the week while popularising the Party and Government’s sea and island policies, thus raising public awareness of protecting the sea environment.
Popularisation should focus on affirming Vietnam’s sovereignty over Truong Sa (Spratly) and Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelagos, international laws on sea and islands as well as bilateral and multilateral agreements between Vietnam and foreign countries and organisations.
Enhancing capacity to respond to climate change and restructuring the sea based economy to attract investment will be given prioritised.
Ministries, branches and localities will organise conferences and forums on sustainable protection of Vietnamese sea and island, ensuring socio-economic development and defence and security.
Coastal and sea areas are expected to contribute 53-55 percent to national gross domestic product (GDP) by 2020 as set by the 4th meeting of the 10th Party Central Committee on the Vietnam Strategy on the Sea.
Exhibition on Vietnam’s reunification day held in Cuba
A photo exhibition to commemorate the 42nd anniversary of the liberation of South Vietnam and national reunification has been held at the General Antonio Maceo Military Academy of Cuba.
The event was organised by the Foreign Relations Department of the Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces and the Vietnam’s Defence Attache Office in Cuba.
It featured more than 50 black and white photos that captured Vietnam’s history as well as the Doi moi (reform) process.
Addressing the opening ceremony on April 26, Vietnamese Ambassador to Cuba Nguyen Trung Thanh highlighted the significance of the 1975 Victory as well as support from other countries, especially Cuba.
He recalled the historic trip of the revolutionary leader of Cuba Fidel Castro to the central province of Quang Tri in 1973, the first foreign leader to set foot in the liberated in the south of Vietnam, which became a source of encouragement for Vietnamese people to achieve victory.
External ties to be strengthened to develop basic sciences
Vietnam is set to enhance bilateral and multilateral cooperation to step up research activities in basic sciences, according to a programme for basic sciences development between 2017 and 2025.
The programme, recently approved by the Prime Minister, focuses on chemistry, life science, earth science, and marine science.
It aims to create a contingent of highly qualified scientists to help align scientific personnel training with international standards. It looks to develop 15-20 groups of young researchers in each field by 2025 so as to speed up the formation of research universities.
The programme targets a higher stature for Vietnam’s sciences in the region and the world, with some fields expected to rank third or fourth in ASEAN by 2025.
The number of scientific studies published on international prestigious magazines listed in SCOPUS database is hoped to increase by 20-25 percent (10-15 percent in terms of marine science) each year on average.
To carry out the plan, the State will assign specialised science-technology organisations to conduct scientific research to create products that can be used in manufacturing and daily activities.
To improve the basic sciences research capacity at tertiary educational institutions, investment will be poured into key laboratories in each field and research groups. While research tasks will be farmed out to young scientists, high school and universities students who win prizes at national and international competitions will also be honoured.
Vietnam will boost cooperation with the Russian Foundation for Basic Research and countries with developed basic sciences in East Asia, the EU and North America.
In multilateral cooperation, it will foster links in UNESCO’s programmes such as the International Basic Sciences Programme, the Man and the Biosphere Programme, the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, the International Hydrological Programme, and the International Geoscience and Geoparks Programme.
NA leader meets with Can Tho voters
National Assembly Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan on April 27 met with voters in some communes in Phong Dien district, the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho and answered their questions in various issues, including environmental protection, food safety, corruption fight, fruit production and traffic accident reduction.
Regarding voters’ queries on corruption prevention and control, the top legislator noted that the NA has amended the Law on Corruption Prevention and Control, while the Party and State have also paid great attention to the work.
Over the past time, several major corruption cases have been brought to light, including the case of Trinh Xuan Thanh and those related to banks.
Competent agencies have been directed to clarify and publicise 12 cases in 2017, she said, affirming the Party and State’s consistent stance of allowing no “safety zone” for corruptors.
About issues related to fake and under-quality commodities, NA Chairwoman Ngan said that NA deputies toughed upon the matter in all socio-economic discussions, while building a supervision programme in the field.
The legislature has also issued a resolution on the matter and assigned the Government to strengthen State management over fake and poor quality commodities, especially in the field of agriculture, she declared.
Answering voters’ questions on measures to support pig breeders suffering lossesdue to falling pork prices, she attributed the situation to poor market forecast for production orientation.
She revealed that the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development is seeking ways to boost processing, while urging authorised agencies to give more exact market forecasts.
Regarding measures to prevent the use of food additives without clear origin and enhance food safety, the top legislator pledged that in the upcoming third session, the NA will conduct supreme supervision over the issue before releasing a resolution asking ministries and sectors to strengthen supervision and management in the field.-
200 youngsters dispatched to visit Truong Sa archipelago
A ship with nearly 200 outstanding youngsters from across Vietnam onboard was dispatched from Ho Chi Minh City on April 27 to present gifts to residents and soldiers living in Truong Sa (Spratly) Archipelago and Platform DK1 in the country’s southern continental shelf.
The trip is part of the programme “Youth for homeland’s sea and islands” held by the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union (HCYU) Central Committee this year.
Speaking at the dispatch ceremony in HCM City, Secretary of the HCYU Central Committee Nguyen Ngoc Luong said the visit is made in the celebration of the 42th anniversary of the Southern Liberation and National Reunification Day to promote patriotism among youngsters.
It also aims to provide support to local residents in Truong Sa island district and motivate officers of Platform DK1 who are on duty to protect the national sovereignty, he said.
Luong hoped that the youth would propose more ideas to contribute to the country’s sea and island protection and building.
A photo exhibition on the vitality of Truong Sa and a writing competition on the Truong Sa aspiration will also take place as part of the programme.
Playground expected to increase kids’ creativity
Parents in Hanoi may feel delighted when knowing that a fascinating playground for toddles and kids will be held in May.
Coming to the playground, not only kids but also their parents can immerse themselves in a fairyland with animation characters, a cotton-candy factory, dazzling pink trees and giant mushrooms.
The event aims at creating a getaway venue where family can set aside stress and work to have fun, while kids’ creativity is stimulated.
The event will take place on May 28th at Ecopark urban area, Hung Yen province.
Seoul ceremony celebrates 42nd anniversary of national reunification
The Vietnamese community in the Republic of Korea (RoK) and foreign guests gathered at a ceremony held on April 27 by the Vietnamese Embassy in the RoK to celebrate the 42nd anniversary of the Liberation of the South and National Reunification (April 30, 1975-2017).
Lao Ambassador to the RoKKhamsouayKheodalavong and representatives of the host country’s government, ministries and major businesses were also among guests at the event.
Addressing the ceremony, Ambassador Nguyen Vu Tu highlighted the great significance of the Spring 1975 Victory, ending 30 years of the country’s separation.
He stressed that the historical triumph brought Vietnam to a new era of peace and development with the spirit of “closing the past, heading to future,” and “Vietnam is willing to be a friend and trustworthy partner of all countries”.
The diplomat delightedly noted that after 30 years of national reform, Vietnam has gained great achievements. The country has set up diplomatic ties with more than 180 countries around the globe, including the strategic partnership with the RoK.
He took the occasion to thank the 150,000-strong Vietnamese community in the RoK as well as Korean friends for connecting the two peoples and contributing to the sound development of bilateral ties over the past years.
Ambassador Tu also expressed belief that on the foundation of similarities in culture, and history as well as supplementary economic structures,sound sentiments towards each other and joint efforts, Vietnam and the RoK will further bolster their partnership in the future, especially when they are celebrating the 25th anniversary of diplomatic ties this year.
Conference promotes heritage tree preservation
A conference was held by the Vietnam Association for Conservation of Nature and Environment (VACNE) in Hanoi on April 27 to review public efforts to conserve Vietnam’s heritage trees over the last seven years.
Addressing the event, Prof. Dr Dang Vu Minh, Chairman of the Vietnam Union of Science and Technology Associations, suggested preserving heritage trees in connection with environmental protection, thus creating livelihoods for the community.
The conference heard that a total of 2,700 ancient trees in 52 provinces and cities nationwide have been recognised as heritage trees so far. This showed the great significance of the movement.
Prof. Dr Dang Huy Huynh, Chairman of the Council for Vietnam Heritage Trees, the programme contributes to raising public awareness of protecting heritage trees and calling for public involvement in preserving biodiversity and valuable flora gene sources, and protecting the environment.
In the coming time, the VACNE will work hard to support localities in prolonging the life of recognised heritage trees and other ancient trees, towards improving livelihoods for the community, he said.
In 2011, the VACNE launched a programme to conserve Vietnam’s Heritage Trees, aiming to select and honour significant trees in a bid to conserve their gene sources, while raising public awareness of protecting the environment.
It also contributes to promoting the diversification and abundance of Vietnam’s flora as well as developing scientific research in the field.
To win the honour, the trees must be at least 200 years old in the case of wild trees, and at least 100 years for those planted. Moreover, the trees should be connected with the historical and cultural characteristics of the area where they grow.
Those which do not meet the criteria, yet have special value to science, history or culture, will also earn recognition.
Campaign launched to support policy beneficiaries
President of the Vietnam Fatherland Front Central Committee Nguyen Thien Nhan on April 27 launched a three-month campaign to encourage people to join a movement to show gratitude to those who rendered service to the nation towards the 70th Vietnam's War Invalids and Martyrs Day (July 27).
According to the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, Vietnam has more than 9 million policy beneficiaries, including 1.2 million martyrs, over 127,000 heroic mothers, and over 2 million wounded soldiers.
Minister Dao Ngoc Dung stressed the need for organisations and individuals to participate in supporting war invalids, families of martyrs and Agent Orange/dioxin victims in order to improve their living conditions.
Communications should be intensified to raise public awareness of the work, he stated, suggesting expanding the movement “all people take care of war invalids, martyrs’ families and people who rendered service to the nation” and encouraging policy beneficiaries to take part in socio-economic development activities.
Nguyen Thien Nhan called on each office, organisation and family which does not live in poverty to do specific deeds to care for policy beneficiaries.
Right after the launching ceremony, more than 50 organisations, businesses and individuals donated a total of 3.8 billion VND (167,200 USD) to help policy beneficiaries.
HCM City breaks ground on bus terminal
The Sài Gòn Transportation Mechanical Corporation (SAMCO) has broken ground for construction of the new Eastern Bus Terminal (Bến Xe Miền Đông) in HCM City’s District 9.
The terminal complex, which will include convenience services, will be located in Long Bình Ward in District 9 and in the southern province of Bình Dương’s Dĩ An Town, the SAMCO announced on Wednesday.
The new Eastern Bus Terminal will cover an area of 16 hectares, three times as large compared with the existing Eastern Bus Terminal in HCM City’s Bình Thạnh District.
It will include 12.3 hectares in HCM City’s outlying District 9 and the remaining 3.7ha in Dĩ An Town of Bình Dương Province.
The bus terminal will be connected with metro line No 1, linking Bến Thành Terminal in District 1 with Suối Tiên Terminal in District 9.
It is designed to accommodate more than seven million passengers each year who travel to eastern provinces as well as to localities in the central region and north Việt Nam, the SAMCO said.
It will also provide services to some 21,000 passengers and accommodate 1,200 buses per day.
The figures are expected to increase to 52,000 passengers and 1,800 buses per day on holidays and during the traditional Tết (Lunar New Year) festival.
Construction of the first stage of the project, which includes the main station, parking space and infrastructure facilities, is scheduled to be completed by the end of this year.
The new bus terminal will help ensure traffic order of HCM City and wipe out illegal bus services and parking spaces in the city.
Located on an area between HCM City and Bình Dương Province, the new Eastern Bus Terminal is expected to play an important role in the city’s transportation system, according to SAMCO.
Speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony, Lê Văn Khoa, deputy chairman of HCM City People’s Committee, said the new terminal complex would link urban areas with public transportation networks and include multi-story parking spaces, maintenance areas, fuel stations, cargo depots, and commercial centres.
The new bus terminal is expected to reduce traffic congestion and the number of accidents in the city through 2020.
It will also replace the existing Eastern Bus Station which is in an inner city district and is no longer suitable for the city’s urban development plan.
The terminal complex will also help facilitate transportation between HCM City and neighbouring provinces, said Khoa.
He also asked authorities to create favourable conditions so that SAMCO could complete construction for the first stage and open the new terminal later this year.
Tăng Thu Lý, deputy director general of SAMCO, said that total capital for the project amounted to VNĐ773 billion (US$34.5 million).
Thái wins another stage, Phounsavath takes top spot
Phan Hoàng Thái secured the HCM City Television Cycling Tournament’s red jersey for the King of Mountain yesterday.
Thái of Domesco Đồng Tháp was the first to reach the peak of Prenn Hill and was second at the Ngoạn Mục Hill, the two challenges in the 17th stage, which covered 120km from Phan Rang-Tháp Chàm City of Ninh Thuận Province to Đà Lạt City, Lâm Đồng Province.
It was enough for Thái to win the red jersey for the overall tournament with 30 points.
The winner of the stage was Nguyễn Tấn Hoài of Domesco Đồng Tháp, who won his second stage in a row.
Lê Ngọc Sơn of Hạt Ngọc Trời An Giang and và Lois Desriac of Bikelife Đồng Nai were second and third, respectively.
Alex Ariya Phounsavath of VUS-HCM City replaced Nguyễn Văn Dương of Bikelife Đồng Nai as the leader of the tournament after 17 stages.
The Laotian cyclist finished fourth yesterday and jumped to the top place with a total time of 40:41.02min.
He is followed by Sơn and Nguyễn Nhật Nam of Domesco Đồng Tháp.
Domesco Đồng Tháp led the team ranking. VUS-HCM City and Hạt Ngọc Trời An Giang were close behind.
The 55-km long 18th stage will see cyclists tour 10 laps around Đà Lạt’s Hồ Xuân Hương Lake today.
4.25 Club advance to semi-final of volleyball tourney
North Korean 4.25 Club won 25-15, 25-19, 22-25, 25-20 against Thailand’s Bangkok Glass for the last semi-final ticket in the International Women’s Volleyball Tournament being held in Tây Ninh Province.
The Korean side met with a little difficulty in the third set before winning the match, maintaining hopes of defending their top position at the Việt Nam’s annual event.
In a later Group B match, China’s Fujian beat former champions Vietinbank 2-1 in a game where both teams had no chance of advancing to the next stage.
In the semi-finals tomorrow, Yunnan Club of China will play 4.25 while Bangkok Glass will meet VTV Bình Điền Long An.
The final is on Sunday with a total bonus of VNĐ1 billion (US$45,000) to be given to the teams, in which the champions will receive $15,000.
Hanoi, Japanese Saijo city beef up cooperation
Chairman of the Hanoi People’s Committee Nguyen Duc Chung received a delegation from Japan’s Saijo city, led by Mayor Tamai Toshihisa, in Hanoi on April 27.
At the meeting, the sides informed each other on their respective socio-economic affairs.
Mayor Tamai Toshihisa said his city is home to a large number of small- and medium-sized enterprises and holds strength in the production of machinery and electronic components.
He noted that to boost partnerships with local firms, particularly those in Hanoi, a Saijo working group was established in Vietnam in April 2015.
He expected his current visit will pave the way for future cooperation between his city and Vietnam in general and with Hanoi in particular.
For his part, Chairman Chung stated Japanese investment is always on top in the local sectors of industry, agriculture and tourism, adding that the capital city plans to call for more investment in high-tech farming and biotechnologies.
Chung said Hanoi wants to step up engagements with Saijo and affirmed to create favourable conditions for Saijo investors in the city.
Lotte Foundation presents 76 scholarships to Vietnamese students
The Lotte Foundation has presented grants and scholarships valued at US$15,600 to 78 outstanding university students in Hanoi for the 2016-2017 academic year.
Addressing the awards ceremony, BaekWoon General Jae- Director of Lotte Vietnam Coralis extended his warmest congratulations to the students who have excelled in their academic years and hoped the educational awards will encourage them to pursue their dream.
The Lotte Foundation scholarship fund was established by the chair of the Lotte Group, Shin KyukHo in 1983.
Established in Vietnam in 2008, the Lotte Scholarship Foundation grants scholarships twice a year to high-achieving students. Those scholarship beneficiaries will have the opportunity to work at Lotte Group in Vietnam after graduation.
Youth’s art festival to run in October
The fourth National Youth Fine Art Festival, which is slated for October, will open for submissions from June 19 to 23, as heard at a ceremony in Hanoi on April 28.
Organizers from the Department of Fine Arts, Photography and Exhibition under the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, said they welcome creative works on contemporary life, stressing that the works must not violate patent.
Each of local artists, aged between 18 and 35 years old, can submit a maximum of two entries, which are in the form of photos or CDs and have been made between 2014 and June 2017.
The entries must not be displayed previously at any other national exhibitions oprganised by the department.
Selected submissions will be exhibited at the October festival and compete for 3 first, 6 second and 9 third prizes.
More information on the event can be found at www.ape.gov.vn .
Two new bus routes open in Hanoi
The Hanoi Transport Corporation has opened two new bus routes to boost public transport in the city’s suburban areas.
Routes No.93 and No.94 offer convenience services to passengers, such as free wi-fi and a discrete space for the disabled.
Route 93 travels along Nam Thang Long - Pham Van Dong - Thang Long Bridge - Vo Van Kiet - Quang Minh Industrial Zone - National Highway No.2 - Bac Son (Soc Son district), while Route 94 travels along Giap Bat - Giai Phong - Kim Dong - Truong Dinh - Giai Phong - National Highway 1A - Thuong Tin town - National Highway No.21B - Kim Bai town (Thanh Oai district).
The new routes run every 20-25 minutes, with about 80 trips a day. The first trip on Route 93 is at 5am and the last at 8.33 pm, with tickets costing VND9,000 (40 cents) regardless of distance, while Route 94 runs from 5.05am to 9.20pm, at VND8,000 (35 cents).
Hanoi plans to open 14 more bus routes this year with 200 new modern buses and is conducting research on a City Tour to promote tourism in the capital.
Programme highlights northern mountainous cultures in Hanoi
An art, cultural and exchange programme highlighting ethnic cultures of the northern mountainous provinces will be held at the Vietnam National Village for Ethnic Culture and Tourism in Dong Mo tourism area of Son Tay town in Hanoi from April 29 to May 2.
The programme is a part of activities to mark the upcoming anniversaries of Liberation Day (April 30) and May Day (May 1).
Under the theme ‘Tay Bac Colours’, the event will feature a variety of activities aiming to preserve and promote the northern mountainous provinces’ traditional cultures and introduce its socio-economic and tourism potential.
A highlight of the programme will be a mountain market promoting the ethnic groups in Moc Chau plateau in Son La province’s unique cultures and featuring local handicrafts, food and everyday items. The market is also a place to rendezvous for singing, dancing, making friends and enjoying community activities.
Traditional costumes, items used in daily life, tools, handicrafts, musical instruments, and ritual and festival artifacts will be on display as well as booths from each province showcasing their unique products, socio-economic achievements and tourism potential.
Various arts performances, festivals and folk games will also take place showcasing the region's music, dances and cultural activities, with the participation of amateur and professional art troupes from the region.
HCMC faces shortage of funds for Ben Thanh-Suoi Tien metro line
Ho Chi Minh City now is owing the contractor of the first metro line Ben Thanh-Suoi Tien VND1,339 billion (US$59 million) because the central Government has yet to arrange funds for the project, reported HCMC Urban Railway Management Board yesterday.
At a socio-economic review meeting chaired by chairman of the city People’s Committee Nguyen Thanh Phong, head of the board Le Nguyen Minh Quang said that the city had urged the contractor to speed up the project’s progress and the contractor accepted the requirement but required on schedule payment in return.
The city has proposed relevant ministries and agencies to solve capital issue for the project for many times but they have taken no action.
The Ministry of Finance asked the State Treasury to stop disbursement for the project last September because payment amount had exceeded official development assistance (ODA) funds of the year.
Before Tet holidays, HCMC advanced about VND900 billion ($39.59 million) for the contractor to pay workers’ wage.
This year, the project needs over VND5.4 trillion ($238 million) however the central budget has agreed to spend only VND2.1 trillion, which is only sufficient to pay the old debt and the city’s advance.
The city’s target should suggest the Government not to apply disbursement under capital application in terms, but apply installment payment mechanism in line with the project’s progress.
While sponsors said they could advance a sum of money for the project, the city has been stuck in a vicious circle and unable to make payment on schedule, said Mr. Quang.
In a document sent to the Ministry of Planning and Investment, the city People’s committee proposed VND7 trillion ($308 million) for the first metro line and the second phase of the water environment improvement project. Still, the ministry has scheduled to spend half of the amount.
Private vehicle limit a must in HCMC: Department director
“Private vehicle limit will be a must in HCMC in the upcoming time because traffic system development has been unable to catch up with the growth rate of private vehicles,” said director of the Department of Transport Bui Xuan Cuong.
As of mid-April this year, HCMC has had about eight million vehicles including 640,000 automobiles and the remaining number is motorbikes, he figured out at a meeting on Thursday.
The city sees new registration of 168 automobiles and 816 motorbikes a day on average.
Mr. Cuong said that with such fast development speed, private vehicle limit would definitely be applied. The agency planned to submit to the city People’s Committee specific measures and a roadmap to materialize the plan in October.
The Transport Department and relevant agencies are working together to survey and build a project on private vehicle restriction and traffic jam reduction. The project will be implemented in accordance with regulations and in right process. The agencies will consult experts and scientists’ opinions and organize public opinion poll.
According to plan, HCMC needs to reduce 70 percent of exhaust fume by 2020. Therefore, the project will not only help ease traffic jam but also environmental pollution.
Young scientific researchers to have chance to receive $4,398
Winners of Vuon Uom Sang Tao program 2017(Innovation Incubator Program of Science and Technology Young) are able to receive VND100- 150 million ($4,398) to carry out their project within 12 months.
The program launched by the Department of Science and Technology and the Ho Chi Minh City Youth Communist union is open to all Vietnam citizens currently living, study, and working in Ho Chi Minh, under the age of 35.
Candidates have not achieved the doctorate.
Entries should be sent to Science-Technology development center at 1 Pham Ngoc Thach, in district 1 before May 15, 2017. The organizer encourages researches on social matters for managing and developing teenagers in addition to basic researches and applied researches connecting to the city’s programs.
Southern traffic development faces capital shortage: deputy minister
The amount of capital allocated from the state budget to the Ministry of Transport for traffic development by 2020 meets only 31 percent of total demand, deputy Minister of Transport Nguyen Nhat told Sai Gon Giai Phong Newspaper.
According to Mr. Nhat, the ministry has built a medium public investment plan in the phase of 2016-2020 with the total capital of VND952 trillion (US$42 billion).
The Mekong Delta alone needs VND206,772 billion including VND102,243 billion social investment and VND104,529 billion from the state budget, government bonds and official development assistance (ODA) sources.
Still, social investment mobilization now meets with difficulties because the medium and long term credit market has been tightened while tax and fee policies have not been improved.
According to the Ministry of Planning and Investment’s instructions, state budget will mainly be spent on paying basic construction debts, reclaiming advanced capital and reciprocal capital of ODA projects and focusing on building some stretches of North-South Expressway and other important urgent projects.
Therefore, it will be difficult for the ministry to arrange state budget capital for new project.
However, the southern region’s traffic will be improved in the upcoming time with large projects having called for investment and implemented such as Trung Luong-My Thuan-Can Tho and some BOT (Build-Operate-Transfer) ones.
The Prime Minister has approved expansion of Lo Te-Rach Soi route from two to four lanes.
The country have so far built 746 kilometers of 12 expressways and implemented nine others with the total length of 525 kilometers.
Of these, the southern region has built HCMC-Trung Luong and HCMC-Long Thanh-Dau Giay with the total length of 91 kilometers. Two others routes are under construction namely Ben Luc-Long Thanh and Trung Luong-My Thuan over 108.8 kilometers.
In addition, ring road no.3 HMC-My Thuan-Can Tho, HCMC-Moc Bai, Bien Hoa-Phu My, Dau Giay-Lien Khuong with the total length of 331 kilometers are calling for investors.
Once being completed, these projects will increase the expressway length in the southern region to 530 kilometers.
According the Ministry of Transport, the southern region has developed vertical and horizontal roads suiting plans as well as strategies and contributing in boosting socioeconomic development.
However, investment cost for project in the southern region has been huge because of the low starting point of the traffic infrastructure system in the region compared to the country and weak terrain with intangible rivers and canals. That has caused some roads have not been completed as per planned scales because of capital shortage.
For instance, National Highway 1A from HCMC to Can Tho city has been built with four lanes but seven bridges in the route comprise only two lanes, creating bottlenecks causing traffic jam during holiday time.
The Ministry of Transport has completed Cai Lay bypass to ease pressure for the highway. The Government has permitted use of Government bond funds remaining from expansion projects of National Highway 1A and Ho Chi Minh Highway in the Central Highlands to broaden the seven bridges, which work is expected to start in 2017-2018.
For the last past, the Party and the Government has given resource priorities to develop the traffic infrastructure in the southern region with many major works opening to traffic and changing the region’s face. They include Can Tho, Ham Luong, Rach Mieu, Co Chien, Nam Can, Dam Cung and My Loi bridges.
FameLab Vietnam 2017 winner named
Pham Ha My, a student at the Oxford University Clinical Research Unit (OUCRU) in Vietnam, has won FameLab Vietnam 2017, a communications contest for young talent nationwide to break down science, technology and engineering concepts into three minute presentations.
With her presentation on how to use Wolbachia bacteria to fight dengue, My defeated 12 other contestants who are young scientists, lecturers, doctors and students nationwide in the final round on Tuesday night in Hanoi.
She will represent Vietnam to compete with other rivals from 30 countries and territories in the International FameLab Competition 2017 to be held at the Cheltenham Science Festival in the UK.
Organized by the British Council in Vietnam, the Vietnam National University in Hanoi and Euraxess, FameLab required the participants to make a three-minute presentation on any interested topic in science, engineering, mathematics and medicine.
The judges of the contest consisted of Professor Mai Trong Nhuan, journalist Ta Bich Loan, and Associate Professor Le Anh Vinh.
Launched in 2005 in the UK, FameLab has quickly become a successful training program for identifying, training and mentoring scientists and engineers to share their enthusiasm for their subjects. The Cheltenham Science Festival has cooperated with the British Council to host the contest in over 30 countries.
HCMC offers online waterway services
The Department of Transport of HCMC has announced to offer online services at level 3 for 22 kinds of administrative procedures in the inland waterway field, allowing citizens to fill and submit forms online.
There will be 15 procedures processed by the HCMC Department of Transport and seven procedures handled by the city’s Inland Waterway Port Authority. Some procedures that used to require people and enterprises to go back and forth, including first-time registration procedures, procedures for re-registering vehicles and procedures for re-issuance of certificates, now only require people to submit documents via the Internet.
Citizens and enterprises can register online anytime and anywhere on their private computers or cellphones with Internet connection at the websites www.dichvucong.hochiminhcity.gov.vn or www.sgtvt.hochiminh.gov.vn., then select the necessary administrative procedures and follow the instructions.
The application of public waterway services at level 3 will help the city’s agencies simplify administrative procedures and reduce negations. Meanwhile, citizens and enterprises can save time and money.
In November 2016, the Inland Waterway Port Authority offered online procedures at levels 3 and 4, accepting online payments and allowing sending and receiving results online or through post offices.
Footwear manufacturers plan comeback to conquer home market
Though only around 10 Vietnamese footwear brands exist in the home market and each holds a modest 2 percent of market share, the products have begun conquering the local consumer market.
With mid-range prices, and a design center and workshop in Brazil, Vascara has great advantages in the Vietnamese market. As the brand has become better known to youth in Vietnam, Vascara has opened over 80 shops in large cities and provinces.
More and more 100 percent Vietnamese brands have appeared in the market recently. However, the investors prove to be wise enough to give ‘western’ names to their brands, such as Dolly, Juno, Sablanca, Bejo, Mirrabella, Hodono and Evashoes, to avoid repeating the mistakes made by predecessors such as Hanh Dung, Hong Thanh and Dong Hai.
The common characteristic of Vietnamese brands is that they target ordinary people with mid-range prices and avoid the high-end market, where small and medium enterprises don’t have advantages.
A branding expert commented that Vietnamese brands won’t have many opportunities to succeed in the high-end market, because consumers won’t pay high prices for Vietnamese brands. High income earners spend big money to show off their class, and Vietnamese brands don't help them do this.
Vietnamese brands have attracted consumers in the mid-end market segment thanks to high quality and reasonable prices. Domestic manufacturers have high skills as they have been doing outsourcing for foreign brands for many years.
However, since most Vietnamese brands target the mid-end market segment, the competition among them is stiff, especially when foreign brands target the market segment that includes Zara, H&M, Top Shop and Uniqlo.
Do Thai Thuc Uyen, manager of Mirrabella, said business performance is satisfactory with the growth rate of 10-15 percent because its holding company does outsourcing for its foreign partner.
The big problem now for Mirrabella is in the development of the distribution network. Since the retail premises rent is high and Mirrabella is just a small brand, it is difficult for them to enter large shopping malls. They have had only three shops after three years of development.
Janny Thuy Tran, director of Vertex Co, said that there was no big difference in the quality and design among Vietnamese brands. The competitive edge lies in financial capability which helps brands advertise their products.
Juno shows the power of financial capability. Juno has been in the market for 10 years, but it became well known only in the last two years after receiving investment from Seedcom in finance and technology.
Kim Chi, VNN
VN garment exports grow despite hurdles
The domestic garment industry has faced many challenges in exporting to key markets, such as the European Union (EU) and the United States, but it still has a chance of achieving its export target this year, according to experts.
Workers inside the Nam Dinh Textile Garment Joint Stock Company in Nam Dinh
First quarter figures appear to support this expectation. Vietnam earned 6.84 billion USD from garment and textile exports in the first quarter of this year, 11.2 percent more than in the same period last year, according to the Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association (VITAS).
Vietnam’s textile and apparel sector has set a target of seven percent growth over 2016, with total export earnings of over 30 billion USD.
Currently, Vietnamese garment and textile products are available in 40 countries and territories, with major markets including the United States, Japan, the Republic of Korea, China and the EU. VITAS has urged enterprises to optimise the capacity of their equipment to reduce production costs and seek orders for high-quality products.
But Dang Phuong Dung of the VITAS advisory board said the growth of export value and volume to the EU was low, with local manufacturers receiving only small orders. Vietnam’s garment industry has also not developed in terms of design, so most textile and garment enterprises have found it difficult to complete export orders from this market.
A high import tax rate of 8-12 percent to the EU market is also one of the obstacles facing garment exporters to this market.
The EU is the second largest export market of Vietnamese garment products, but it has only captured a 1.9 percent share of the union’s total import value, according to the association, presenting opportunities for growth.
However, Dung said, meeting the rules of origin under the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement in terms of preferential tax rate would be the biggest challenge for Vietnamese garment exports.
The garment industry expects ASEAN countries, including Vietnam, to sign an FTA between the ASEAN region and the EU, and then local garment enterprises would have more options to get material for garment production from other ASEAN countries, meeting rules of origin under the FTA.
According to data of the General Department of Customs, in 2016, the textile and garment sector reached total export value of 23.8 billion USD, an increase of 4.6 percent year-on-year. In particular, the United States continued to be the largest export market of Vietnamese garment products, accounting for 48 percent of the total garment export value. The textile and garment export to the United States has increased by 12-13 percent in value each year in recent years.
Many enterprises invested in building textile and dying factories on an extensive and intensive scale to boost opportunities in production and business for the planned Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), according to the association.
But now that the TPP with the United States' withdrawal is no longer in the cards, experts say these facilities would help the textile and garment industry complete production processes and actively source material, focusing on the significant opportunities offered by other FTAs, such as the EU-Vietnam and the Vietnam-Republic of Korea FTAs.
When will there be direct flights to the US?
In December 2003, the Vietnam-US Bilateral Air Transport Agreement was signed, allowing air carriers to open direct air routes between the two countries. Two years after the day the agreement was signed, each country had the right to designate up two airlines to provide direct flights between Vietnam and the US.
On the US side, United Airlines became the only American air carrier providing direct flights to Vietnam. It flew from San Francisco to HCMC with transit in Hong Kong.
However, in 2016, the air carrier suspended the route. Analysts said the market was not good enough for the carrier to keep exploiting the route.
Vietnam Airlines, the nation’s flag air carrier, has many times mentioned the possibility of setting up a direct air route to the west coast of the US. However, the plan has stalled.
Analysts said there are many reasons concerning both market and technical conditions hindering Vietnam Airlines from moving ahead.
The US is well known for its strict requirements on flight safety. Before granting licenses to any airline to fly to the US, the country’s aeronautical authorities will consider and give assessments about flight providers and agencies in charge of state management over the airlines.
In order to obtain a license to fly to the US, airlines and aeronautical authorities must be official members of IATA (International Air Transport Association) and have certificates on meeting flight safety IOSA (The IATA Operational Safety Audit) and on extended range operations with twin-engine aircrafts.
The aeronautical authorities must prove that they have capability to monitor flight safety in accordance with US standards and be recognized by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
According to CAAV, the agency still has not received CAT1 (category 1) certificate. Thus, Vietnam’s air carriers cannot open direct air routes to the US.
In an agreement signed with Boeing in 2015, CAAV planned to obtain CAT1 in the fourth quarter of the year. However, this was later delayed until the third quarter of 2016.
Most recently, in order to settle the problem, the Ministry of Transport agreed to allocate $40,000, so that CAAV could cooperate with the FAA to carry out a technical review, slated for May 2017, to check CAAV’s overall capability for flight safety monitoring in accordance with ICAO’s regulations.
A local newspaper reported that 689,000 passengers travelled between Vietnam and the US in 2016. There are no direct routes between the two countries at the moment.
M. Ha, VNN
Vietnam to fine businesses for illegally displaying ads in public
Ads are hung on tree trunks along Ly Nam De Street in Hanoi. Tuoi Tre
Several decrees are scheduled to be implemented in May, detailing administrative penalties for violations in public advertising, along with some other fields.
In accordance with Decree 28/2017, not only those who are hired to hang advertisements on utility posts, traffic light posts, and tree trunks but also the owners of these banners will be fined.
People who are employed to display such ads will be fined from VND1 million (US$44) to VND2 million ($88).
Those who own the law-breaking advertisements will have to pay VND5 million ($220) to VND10 million ($440) in pecuniary punishment.
Handing out leaflets that compromise urban esthetics and traffic safety will subject one to a warning by authorities or a fine of up to VND500,000 ($22).
Operators of businesses and services promoted in these flyers will be fined VND5 million to VND10 million.
According to the observation of (Youth) newspaper reporters on Monday, ad banners were still hung on tree trunks and traffic light posts along many streets in Hanoi, namely Ly Nam De, Ton Duc Thang, and Tran Phu.
That also happened in Vinh City, located in the north-central province of Nghe An, as ads of all sizes and types were stuck on tree trunks and utility posts.
Tran My Phuong, a local resident, stated that it would be easy to deal with this kind of violation as the contact details of businesses were clearly displayed in their advertisements.
According to Nguyen Quoc Than, head of the city’s Urban Management Unit, attempts have been made to clear these violating banners.
However, advertisers tend to hang ads at night to duck competent agencies, Than said, without hinting at any solution to the problem.
TUOI TRE NEWS
How cheap will cars be once tariffs are cut to zero percent?
The tariff cut to zero percent will pave the way for imports from ASEAN to flood Vietnam, but analysts do not think low-cost cars will be available by 2018.
The CBU imports
Meanwhile, Vietnamese manufacturers still nurture the ambition of exporting cars to SE Asian markets.
Under AFTA, the tariff on imports from ASEAN will be cut to zero percent by 2018. Therefore, 2017 is expected to see big changes in the market.
The CBU (complete built unit) imports form ASEAN are on a sharp rise, with Thailand and Indonesia having emerged as the two biggest exporters in the first three months of 2017.
Large foreign automobile manufacturers are not commenting about the changes in their production and business strategies.
According to Ngo Tri Long, a renowned economist, the production cost in Vietnam is higher than other regional countries.
Therefore, it is highly possible that automobile joint ventures would rather import cars for domestic sale instead of making cars domestically.
If this happens, thousands of workers at auto assembly factories would become redundant, while enterprises that provide supporting components may go bankrupt as the market shrinks.
A report from the General Department of Customs (GDC) showed that 14,460 cars were imported to Vietnam from ASEAN in the first three months of the year, an increase of 67.6 percent over the same period last year.
Of the 64,729 cars sold in the first three months of the year by VAMA members, imports from ASEAN accounted for 22.3 percent.
Toyota Vietnam’s list of products includes three import products from ASEAN, namely Fortuner, Yaris and Hilux.
The revenue from the three product lines made up 25 percent of total sales in the first quarter. The two bestsellers of the joint venture were assembled in Vietnam - Vios (4,152 products) and Innova (3,193).
Vietnamese manufacturers plan to export cars
While other auto manufacturers plan to import more cars from SE Asia for domestic sale to enjoy preferential tariffs, Truong Hai and Thanh Cong plan to export assembled-in-Vietnam to SE Asia.
Truong Hai has spent $0.5 billion to build a factory to assemble Mazda cars with the capacity of 100,000 products a year in Chu Lai IZ in Quang Nam province.
In late March, Thanh Cong decided to cooperate with Hyundai to build a complex to make Hyundai products in Vietnam.
Explaining their decisions, Truong Hai and Thanh Cong said they understand that the government is still determined to build an automobile industry in Vietnam.
Tran Thuy, VNN
BUSINESS IN BRIEF 3/5
Trung Son Hydropower Plant synchronized national power grid
The turbine group No.3 of Trung Son Hydropower Plant was officially generated power and successfully synchronized with national power grid system.
The powerhouse is located at Trung Son commune, Quan Hoa district in Thanh Hoa province which includes four generating units with a total capacity of 260 MW and an annual output of 1,018 billion kilowatts.
It is also the first hydropower plant of Vietnam funded by the World Bank (WB).
After putting into the operation, the hydropower plant will provide electrical energy for the whole national power grgrid, contributing to control Ma River’s flood downstream.
Especially, the project is considered as new motivation for economic development, hunger eradication and poverty alleviation in the locality.
Ministries discuss measures to deal with oversupply of pork
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) met with several ministries on April 28 to discuss measures to deal with an oversupply of pork, which has caused prices to plunge in recent months.
MARD Minister, Nguyen Xuan Cuong, said Vietnam’s meat output, especially pork, has now far exceeded domestic demand, causing prices to fall drastically to VND28,000 (US$1.23) a kilogramme, meaning farmers are suffering losses of VND1.5 million (US$66) a pig.
He warned that if this situation continued, pig raisers, including large farms, would go bankrupt, and sectors such as animal feed, veterinary care, slaughtering and pork trading will suffer damaging consequences.
The minister informed that a number of feed manufacturers have cut prices of their products, while some farms stopped supplying more pork to give up the market to smallholders, while several food retailers increased purchases of pork for freezing.
At the meeting, Deputy PM Trinh Dinh Dung asked the MARD, the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to step up negotiations so that Vietnam’s pork can be exported.
He also urged relevant ministries and local authorities to work with large consumers of meat such as industrial parks and armed forces to increase pork consumption.
Meanwhile, the State Bank of Vietnam was asked to instruct commercial banks to consider extending debt payment deadline and reduce interest rates on secured loans to help pig raisers tide over this crisis.
In addition to immediate measures, in the long term, the MARD should reorganise the animal husbandry sector, reduce the size of pig supplies and restrict the establishment of new feed production facilities, stated Deputy PM Dung.
Vietnam’s exports hit US$61.34 billion in first four months
Vietnam exported goods worth an estimated US$61.34 billion in the first four months of 2017, up 15.4% year on year while imports surged 24.9% to US$64.07 billion, according to General Department of Customs.
In April alone, exports fell 3.2% from the previous month to 16.7 billion and imports dropped 4.6% to US$17.5 billion.
Main exports in the last four months were still phones, garments and electronic devices, which brought in US$11.37 billion, US$7.47 billion and US$7.27 billion respectively.
Other top-performing exports were footwear products at US$4.17 billion and equipment at US$4 billion, a surge of 38.8%.
Seafood exports also posted solid growth at 8.2% to US$2.1 billion for the January-April period, according to data from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
On the import side, Vietnam’s major purchases were equipment and electronic devices which rose by 38.9% and 24.7% to US$11.32 billion and US$10.45 billion respectively.
The trade deficit in the first four months was nearly US$2.74 billion, equivalent to 2.2% the total export value.
HCMC townhouse/villa segment sees high Q1 growth
The Ho Chi Minh City market received a primary supply of around 3,500 units from 50 new projects in the first three months of this year, including 1,200 villas and 2,300 townhouses. The new supply was up 62 per cent quarter-on-quarter, with more than 500 units from five villas and townhouses entering the market, according to the latest Vietnam Quarterly Knowledge Report in Q1/2017 released by Collier International.
The transaction rate in the segment reached 1,000 units, up 6 per cent quarter-on-quarter. Projects with completed built-in infrastructure and utilities developed by reputable developers have a sales rate of up to 90 per cent.
In the secondary market, sale prices increased by between 1.5 and 3 per cent quarter-on-quarter, depending on the project’s location. Prices are expected to continue increasing due to improved buyer demand and psychology.
The second quarter will see the arrival of 16 new projects, with most supply coming from the eastern and southern areas of the city, in which District 9 will lead, accounting for 35 per cent with about 900 units.
Collier International commented that in the past two years, districts in the eastern area of the city led the supply of real estate attached to land. Infrastructure development and rapid urbanization have created investor confidence in the area. Many people have been looking to buy townhouses with an average land area of 90-150 sq m. These customers prefer real estate products with an average land area of less than VND6 billion ($263,000) with internal facilities, good security, and convenient access to the city center.
Mr. Vo Van Anh Tuan, Deputy General Director of the Thang Long Real Estate JSC, said that the eastern area has been attractive not only to investors but also to buyers.
The area’s real estate benefited from synchronous infrastructure development, convenient transport links with the Long Thanh - Dau Giay Expressway, the upcoming urban railway line, and new bridges being built. The expansion of National Highway No.13 from Thu Duc to southern provinces and the central highlands will create uninterrupted conditions for the city’s northeastern gateway.
Rapid infrastructure development has also significantly cut travel times from suburbs to the city center and encouraged customers to purchase houses in coastal projects.
Contrary to the optimistic situation in townhouses and villas, apartment trade fell 50 per cent in the first quarter against the previous quarter, with 6,000 successful transactions. The number of apartments for sale fell 40 per cent, to around 4,000.
Most new supply comes from subsequent sale openings of existing projects. Eastern and southern areas of the city continue to lead in supply thanks to strong growing potential from major infrastructure development projects and large land reserves.
PNJ targets opening 40 new stores this year
The Phu Nhuan Jewelry Joint Stock Company (HSX stock code PNJ) has set a target of opening 40 new stores this year and recording profit growth of 33 per cent.
It held its 2017 annual general meeting (AGM) on April 27, to approve results in 2016 and targets set for 2017.
It Board of Management reported total revenue of VND8.56 trillion ($376.8 million) in 2016, up 11.3 per cent and fulfilling 97.5 per cent of the annual plan. Wholesale sales of jewelry reached 78.9 per cent of the plan and were down 15 per cent compared to 2015,
Revenue from sales of gift and promotional products grew 59 per cent and exceeded the plan by 11 per cent. PNJ sees this as a potential niche market.
Exports grew 10 per cent, fulfilling 95 per cent of the annual plan. Silver jewelry increased 22.3 per cent in revenue and nearly met the annual target. Its online business contributed only a small part to total revenue, with VND15.2 billion ($670,000), reaching 96 per cent of the plan and up 30 per cent against 2015.
PNJ increased its network over the last year, with 30 new stores (five more than targeted), bringing the total number to 219 and increasing its coverage to 47 out of Vietnam’s 63 cities and provinces. This resulted in higher sales, general and administration (SG&A) expenses of 9.5 per cent and 1.4 per cent, respectively.
Pre-tax profit in 2016 reached VND608 billion ($26.7 million), up 223 per cent compared to 2015 and 32.2 per cent higher than planned. After-tax profit was VND470 billion ($20.7 million), up nearly five-fold and exceeding the plan by 30 per cent. Consolidated net profit came in at VND449 billion ($19.8 million), nearly double against 2015.
According to Chairman Cao Thi Ngoc Dung, 2017 is a pivotal year for the company’s ten-year development strategy for 2012-2022. The company focuses on three main areas of business: improvements in the quality of its human resources, its processing system, and the computerization of its management system.
It also targets promoting efficiency in its supply chain, with the goal of opening 40 more stores this year and reaching the 300-mark in 2018.
In terms of financial performance, the company plans to increase sales of gold jewelry (wholesale and retail) by 23 per cent, silver jewelry sales by 30 per cent, and export sales by 20 per cent. Consolidated net sales are targeted at VND10.2 trillion ($449 million), up 19 per cent year-on-year, with net profit of VND600.8 billion ($26.4 million), up 33 per cent. The dividend will be maintained at 18 per cent.
SCG's profit up 29% in Q1
Thai industrial conglomerate the Siam Cement Group (SCG) has announced its business performance in the first quarter of 2017, with profit up 29 per cent year-on-year thanks to its chemicals business. ASEAN investments also prospered, as it worked with partners in Vietnam in the first petrochemical complex in the country.
The company’s unaudited business results for the first quarter show revenue from sales up 6 per cent year-on-year to around $3.4 billion. Profit reached $495 million, an increase of 29 per cent, attributed mainly to the solid performance of its chemicals business and non-recurring gains from the sale of investment assets and non-used assets. Export revenue, which accounted for 27 per cent of SCG’s total revenue from sales, reached $884 million.
In SCG’s operations in ASEAN (excluding Thailand), revenue from sales rose 15 per cent year-on-year, to $413 million, representing 13 per cent of the group’s total revenue from sales. Total assets as at the end of March amounted to some $16 million, while assets in ASEAN (excluding Thailand) totaled $3.9 million, or 24 per cent of total consolidated assets.
In Vietnam, it owns nearly $1.4 million in assets, an increase of 72 per cent year-on-year. Revenue from sales was $186 million, up 30 per cent year-on-year and primarily from packaging and its cement - building materials business.
“SCG’s investment in ASEAN is in line with its vision,” said Mr. Roongrote Rangsiyopash, President and CEO of SCG. “It recently increased its investment in the Long Son Petrochemicals project, the first integrated petrochemical complex in Vietnam, to 71 per cent.”
“The project is located in Ba Ria Vung Tau province near Ho Chi Minh City, a location with promising economic growth. It has incorporated state-of-the-art technology of international standard for health, safety, and the environment. Its output will meet rising domestic demand and in ASEAN. SCG is now in the final stage of the financial investment decision with its Vietnamese partner. Construction is expected to take five years, with plans for commercial operations in 2022.”
In the cement - building materials business, SCG recently acquired the Vietnam Construction Materials JSC (VCM), an integrated cement operator with a production capacity of 3.1 million tons per year. Located in central Quang Binh province, the plant will serve nearby markets in the first phase and later serve the entire country.
In the packaging business, SCG’s Vina Kraft Paper Co. Ltd. recently completed the installation of new manufacturing lines to expand capacity at its packaging paper business in Vietnam. This will enable SCG to achieve a total production capacity of 500,000 tons per year and retain its position as the largest packaging paper manufacturer in Vietnam.
Woomentum to support Vietnamese startups
Woomentum, a Singapore-based startup community and crowdfunding platform, recently launched its first “CrowdFundHer Live!” event in Vietnam, supporting female entrepreneurs and their startups by connecting them with investors and consultants. The event took place at Dreamplex 2 in Ho Chi Minh City.
“We look forward to becoming a bridge to help startups gain access to whatever is needed for their journey,” Ms. Mouna Aouri, founder of Woomentum, said at the event.
Six women-founded startups were selected at the event, operating in sectors including education, the Internet of Things (IoT), lifestyle, high-tech agriculture, and FinTech, and given the chance to showcase their work and vision to investors, seek funding, and see how experts responded to their products.
Each had four minutes to present their projects and convince investors to back them, and eight minutes to interact with four panelists. Woomentum also facilitated discussions between the startups and interested investors.
Guests famous in Vietnam’s startup community included Mr. Adrian Tan, Director of Vietnam Innovative Startup Accelerator (VIISA), Ms. Ngo Thuy Ngoc Tu, co-founder of YOLA Language Center, Mr. Nguyen Ngoc Dung, Vice Chairman of the Vietnam E-commerce Association (Vecom), Ms. Violet Lim, CEO of Lunch Actually, and Mr. Michael Blakey, Managing Partner of Cocoon Capital, a renowned investor from the UK.
The first presentation came from CricketOne, a startup in high-tech agriculture that provides the means to feed protein-rich crickets. The five other projects were DropDeck, Giki, Fastsell, Phleek and Rudicaf.
While DropDeck provides data to evaluate a startup, Giki brings a new vocabulary recording tool inspired by Cambridge University. FastSell, meanwhile, introduced a new option in the e-commerce industry with an emphasis on purchases from people living nearby.
The Phleek team said they needed more money to develop their app because it now primarily runs on Facebook, offering personalized stylist services and online purchases. Rudicaf brings a new selective dating app to the market. Those joining the app are required to have a Bachelor’s degree or a college degree and earn good incomes. The membership fee is quite high, ranging from $500-$1,000 a year, to ensure community quality.
Woomentum has already organized four “CrowdFundHer Live” events in Singapore with support from Bloomberg, Google, the Hub Singapore, and other organizations. The events, which drew 600 people, saw 23 tech startups receive more than $143,000.
In organizing the event, Woomentum worked with the Vecom Startup Vietnam Foundation, the Mat Bao Corporation, Baker McKenzie, Citylinks, and others.
Founder Mouna Aouri said Woomentum will make its official debut in Vietnam in the summer, offering opportunities for startups with female founders to approach new knowledge and capital and receive valuable feedback to create better products.
She said Woomentum wants to work as a bridge to link Vietnamese startups with investors, entrepreneurs, and consultants in Southeast Asia and, more importantly, connect male and female entrepreneurs.
Woomentum last year announced it would launch its crowdfunding platform, the Woomentum Fund, the first women-centric crowdfunding platform in Asia.
Private enterprises up against it
It is difficult for private enterprises to compete with State-owned enterprises (SOEs), Mr. Truong Dinh Tuyen, former Minister of Trade, said at the first Private Business Forum held in Hanoi on April 26.
Although there is no difference between SOEs and private enterprises under Vietnamese law, private enterprises must cope with a host of difficulties when competing.
He suggested that development strategies promote market share and improve competitive capacity.
He still believes, however, that there are advantages held by private enterprises. The government has acknowledged the important position they play in Vietnam’s economic development and has been improving administrative processes and the business environment. It has also pushed forward with SOE equitization.
In discussing the private sector in Vietnam after 30 years of “doi moi” (renovation), Mr. Tran Dinh Thien, Director of the Vietnam Institute of Economics stated that private business is foundation of economy.
Vietnam’s private sector has proved its position in the economy, especially over the last decade. It contributes about 40 per cent of GDP, about 30 per cent of total industrial output, and about 64 per cent of total goods production.
Mr. Tuyen said that private enterprises should have reasonable strategies for development in new free trade agreements (FTA). They must also reduce their weaknesses and promote their strengths to improve the competitive capacity. The growth strategy is, indeed, competitive improvements.
They should also restructure with reasonable strategies and green growth. Restructuring should be deployed when there are changes in the market. Enterprises should express their responsibility to Vietnamese society.
The Private Business Forum, entitled “The Private Economy in Socio-Economic Development”, was organized by the Vietnam Private Business Association (VPBA).
Deputy PM urges EVN & MoIT to conduct Gencos' equitization during Q3
Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue, who is also Head of the Central Steering Committee for the Innovation and Development of Enterprises, urged the Ministry of Industry and Trade and Electricity of Vietnam (EVN) to conduct the equitization of the latter’s power generation corporations during the third quarter of this year.
In a working session on April 26, the Deputy PM asked EVN to actively review and list the group’s loss-making projects in accordance with market principles, balance cash flows in production and trade, apply modern technology in management, reduce labor costs, reduce energy consumption, and ensure transparency in calculating electricity prices, reducing the price by at least 10 per cent.
In regard to input costs, Deputy PM Hue requested that EVN prepare different scenarios for retail electricity prices during 2016-2020 and the management mechanism for electricity prices during the period and for 2017.
He urged EVN to determine the electricity price for 2017 with prudence, ensuring appropriate returns and creating the grounds to attract investment and ensure energy security, in particular attracting investment in renewable energy sources like wind and solar.
EVN owns all capital in three major power generation corporations and plants that play an extremely important role in the country’s socioeconomic development and national security.
It also owns 100 per cent of the National Power Transmission Corporation and five other corporations that manage power distribution, trading, and market operations.
In an interview last month, Mr. Dinh Quang Tri, Deputy CEO of EVN, said the Power Generation Corporation 3 (Genco 3) will undergo its equitization process this year and Genco 1 and 2 in 2018. As per the Prime Minister’s approval, it will equitize the three Gencos in two phases.
In the 2016-2018 period, the Gencos will remain under EVN’s management, with the group holding at least 51 per cent. In 2019-2020, the group will consider reducing its controlling stake, and two years after equitization the Gencos will cease to be EVN subsidiaries.
The Gencos are currently having difficulties investing in power projects, Mr. Tri said. The group has submitted a restructuring plan to the PM, under which they can sell part of their equity in power generation companies to improve financial capacity and ensure a debt-to-equity ratio of less than three, as per the law. This would help EVN and the Gencos ensure reciprocal capital for attracting investment into new power projects.
EVN has also suggested that the PM allow the Gencos to put up shares worth more than half of their charter capital in their IPOs. If those shares are not sold, EVN would continue to hold a controlling stake in the corporations and divest at a later date.
In August 2014, the Ministry of Industry and Trade approved initial plans to equitize Genco 3, with a valuation to be conducted by January 1, 2015. The plan aimed at conducting an initial public offering (IPO) in March 2016 and then hold its first shareholders’ meeting a month later.
Knock-on effects of Can Gio growth
An influx of transport and real estate projects planned for Can Gio has created a land fever in this island district. Alongside with expectations of what the turnaround could do for one of poorest areas in Ho Chi Minh City, many experts have raised concerns about the environmental threats that come with such a development. Gia Huy reports.
Can Gio is an island district southeast of Ho Chi Minh City, about 50 kilometres away from the city centre. This is the only district of Ho Chi Minh City that touches the East Sea, and the surrounding river and stream system is populated by a vast mangrove forest – one of the most distinct hallmarks of a diversified ecosystem consisting of a wide variety of flora and fauna endemic to coastal Vietnam.
In 2011, the city’s management authorities inaugurated the 31km-long Sac Forest road at a total investment capital sum of VND1.56 trillion ($71 million), stretching from the Binh Khanh ferry-landing to the district centre.
The Can Gio real estate market began to warm up in late 2016, after the completion of the 5.8km-long Binh Khanh Bridge which connects Nha Be and Can Gio districts. This is the first bridge linking Can Gio to Ho Chi Minh City’s centre, which should help bolster tourism and entertainment activities in Can Gio’s seaside areas.
Early last month, the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee approved a plan to build Can Gio Bridge, which will replace the Binh Khanh ferry-landing. The 40m-wide, six-lane bridge will have a 5.8km-long approach road, with a speed limit of 60km/hour. The total investment capital for this project sits at around VND5.3 trillion ($241 million).
After the plan was made public, a string of real estate development plans were announced. On April 10, Chairman of the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee Nguyen Thanh Phong gave a nod to the Can Tho Urban Tourism JSC, the project’s developer, to increase the land area of Can Gio tourism and urban complex from 1,080 to 2,870 hectares. The project received approval for its investment proposal 17 years ago, at an initial area of 600ha. It then incurred delays due to a variety of factors, and now the project is accelerating its pace alongside the expansion of its scope.
Nguyen Thanh Nha, director of the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Planning and Architecture (DPA), said that Can Gio has received many proposals for building resorts and modern trade centres in the district.
In the future, investors might also build a casino in the district to serve visitors. DPA is reviewing the district planning and the projects which are in progress or set to commence construction to report to the prime minister early next year.
Ho Chi Minh City-based real estate developers have recently begun to seek investment opportunities in Can Gio.
“When Can Gio Bridge’s construction is finalised, the district will turn into a resort property hot spot. Many other investors will also flock there for project development,” said Nguyen Van Hau, general director of realty firm Asian Holding Real Estate JSC.
Real estate projects in the district saw their prices ascend sharply in the past weeks, as many secondary investors flocked there to hoard land for speculative purposes. The transaction price has reportedly increased week after week since early April, after the news on the construction of Can Gio Bridge was released.
One square metre of residential land in an area next to Sac Forest Square fetched VND2.5 million ($113) in early April. By mid-April, that same plot went for VND3.5 million ($159) per sq.m.
“The land price rose the most in coastal areas, which currently average VND13 million ($590) per sq.m. Meanwhile it stood at only about VND10 million ($454) per sq.m last year,” said Nguyen Van Cuong, a local real estate investor.
“These inflated prices are driven by speculative investors. The actual price is much softer, at about VND8 million ($363) per sq.m,” he added.
To experts, the market’s recent movements act as a warning sign. The commitment of Ho Chi Minh City leaders to turn Can Gio into a tourism hub has long been known, but the recent ascendant land prices are an aberration. Going on little more than rumour, the land prices are rising day by day.
“Without prudence, the real estate market might backslide as it did in 2008, and these inflated land areas might turn into deserted land areas,” said Tran Khanh Quang, a real estate consultant.
According to Deputy Chairman of the Can Gio District People’s Committee Truong Tien Trien, the district is home to an important biosphere reserve zone which covers 33,000 square kilometres, nearly half of the district’s overall area. If too many investors head there, the land price will increase and the general planning will be disrupted, negatively affecting forested areas as well as the local ecosystem.
A source from the Ho Chi Minh City Real Estate Association said that the Can Gio Bridge construction has yet to be officially approved, and most property developers have just studied investment plans in the district. The source cautioned that claims of Can Gio quickly becoming a tourism hub are unrealistic, and only facilitate speculation in the area.
Architect Nguyen Van Hung, director of Green Architecture Company, said that besides being a biosphere reserve site, Can Gio is a strategic location for national defense, which adds one additional wrinkle to the planning forecast. Any megaprojects developed in the district must carefully consider their effect on Ho Chi Minh City’s buffer zone planning.
Samsung Vietnam’s largest recruitment test in two big cities
Samsung Vietnam yesterday held its Global Samsung Aptitude Test (GSAT) for applicants from both the north and the south at the National Convention Center (NCC) and at Samsung HCMC Complex (SEHC).
About 8,800 applicants who are engineers, bachelor degree holders were selected from 20,000 applications to join the GSAT this time.
GSAT is a Samsung global capacity test for new candidates graduating from the universities, including three main topics, "mathematical ability", "deductive reasoning", and “visual thinking”. This is one of the first rounds of recruitment procedures for graduated staff of all Samsung subsidiaries worldwide.
After the GSAT, high scorers will go through interviews in May 2017. After passing two rounds, the most outstanding and suitable candidates will become official employees of Samsung Vietnam in June 2017. The new recruits will work at eight facilities/centres of Samsung Vietnam.
Samsung Vietnam has organised GSAT since 2011, and there have been nearly 9,500 employees enrolled from this recruitment. The recruitment of a large number of university graduates is a part of Samsung’s expansion plan in Vietnam. This is an important step in the transformation of Samsung's strategy to strengthen its leading position of the world’s largest mobile phone manufacturer.
Annually, Samsung recruits thousands of bachelor degree holders into entry-level positions, with exciting salary and personnel policy. Samsung Electronics Vietnam has always adhered to the laws, as one of the factors to attract hi-quality human resources.
Samsung has been conducting the fair and transparent recruitment test, GSAT, since 1995 in Korea to recruit outstanding university graduates. Vietnam is the only country that Samsung organise GSAT except for Korea and China.
Long Thanh Golf Course maintains leading position in Vietnam
The various awards that Long Thanh Golf Course has received over the years are testaments to the course’s quality.
Long Thanh Golf Course is located in the southern economic triangle, about 40 minutes’ drive from Ho Chi Minh City centre.
It was designed by Ron Fream – the founder of Golfplan-Fream & Dale Golf Course Architecture, with more than 35- year experience in designing, building, and maintaining golf courses throughout the world.
Of the over 350 hectares in land-scape area, the golf course has around 100ha for high lawn hills. Two thirds of its circumference is surrounded by branches of the Dong Nai River.
Hence, it has very cool, fresh climate, with poetic natural scenery consisting of rows of palms, artificial pools and lakes, and tumbling falls.
The grass for the course is Paspalum grass, which not only helps golfers make exact shots but also contributes to making them feel more relaxed.
At present, Long Thanh Golf Course is being operated with 18 rounds on Hilly Course, and 18 rounds on Lake Course, both delicately designed to bring attractive challenges to professional golfers and beginner players as well. The lighting system meets international standards and can serve golfers at night.
The experienced staff are very courteous and well trained in golf rules, foreign languages and services, by an expert from the British Professional Golf Association.
Long Thanh Golf Course is serving more than 1,000 members, more than 60% of whom are from Europe, Japan, Republic of Korea, Singapore, China and Thailand.
Most recently Long Thanh Golf Investment and Trading JSC, operator of the golf course, has received the Biggest Charity Fundraising Golf Award in May 2016 from the Asia Book of Records.
In 2015, World Records University conferred on Le Van Kiem – chairman of Long Thanh Golf Investment and Trading JSC the honorary degree of Doctorate in record Breaking Hanoris causa for: “The Creator and Initiator of the largest Charitable Golf Tournament".
In 2014 Long Thanh Golf Investment and Trading JSC received the Global Ethics Awards from the Vietnam Federation of UNESCO Associations.
Vietnam’s exports see positive signs
The Ministry of Industry and Trade forecasts that Vietnam’s exports will grow stronger in the second quarter, thanks to business reforms and the implementation of free trade agreements.
Vietnam earned US$45 billion from exports in the first quarter, up 15% from last year.
This encouraging result is attributed to a surge in the price of key export items including raw materials, crude oil, farm produce, seafood, and processed products.
Exports revenues from major markets like China, Japan, Russia and ASEAN also increased significantly.
“Businesses should apply advanced technologies and update their management methods. We have signed 17 free trade agreements and are negotiating several others,” said Tran Thanh Hai, Deputy Director of the Export-Import Department of the Ministry of Industry and Trade.
The Vietnam-Eurasia Economic Union Free Trade Agreement which took effect last October offers an opportunity for Vietnam’s exports to reach a market of 183 million people.
“We are trying to consolidate existing export markets while seeking new ones. Other important missions include reducing tariffs and remove non-tariff barriers to boost exports,” said Nguyen Khanh Ngoc, Deputy Director of the Europe Market Department.
Under the Vietnam-Eurasia Economic Union Free Trade Agreement, both sides will reduce or exempt tariffs on nearly 90% of items and open their markets for investment and services.
The Eurasia Economic Union, which consists of Russia, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, Belarus, and Kazakhstan, is expected to be a lucrative market for Vietnamese apparel, seafood, agricultural products, and footwear.
Mekong Delta expands farm land toward large-scale production
Land concentration toward large-scale commodity production is one of the main objectives of Vietnam’s agriculture restructuring.
Farm land expansion in the Mekong Delta region has benefitted those involved in large-scale production models.
With 120 ha of farmland, Nguyen Van Khanh of Phu Cuong village is one of the largest individual landowners in Dong Thap province. Until recently his family farmed several small disconnected fields. Khanh has found ways to consolidate his farmland by renting the land from others to create large-scale production areas.
But Khanh says this is a band-aid solution. In the long run, he says, he hopes the government will promulgate a clearer policy on farmland expansion.
Khanh told VOV “With this model, we can mechanize agricultural production to increase efficiency. But we need clearer policies on the expansion of farm land so farmers can feel secure about their production.”
In Dong Thap, one of the Mekong Delta’s largest farm areas, the average farm household has about 1,440 square meters of farmland, which is usually divided into separated rice fields, making mechanization unfeasible. But lately some farmers and collectives, in expanding their farmland, have begun to develop larger-scale production models.
Le Minh Hoan, Secretary of the Dong Thap provincial Party Committee, said land expansion is an important lever for boosting production of farm commodities and changing farmers’ ways of thinking.
“We should find a way to get farmers to reach a consensus on farmland expansion and indemnify their risks. Dong Thap is trying to persuade farmers to expand their farmland or lease land to create larger-scale paddy fields,” said Hoan.
Farmland expansion began earlier in the Mekong Delta than elsewhere in Vietnam, but there have been lots of difficulties in affirming ownership of the land.
Huynh Van Thon, Director General of the Loc Troi Group, a leading distributor and manufacturer of crop protection chemicals in Vietnam, said farmland expansion has made it easier to mechanize production and apply modern technology and farming techniques.
Thon said that in recent years a growing number of farm households have joined his group’s large-scale rice field model. For the first winter-spring crop of the 2010-2011 period, the model was applied to about 1,000 ha. That figure had grown to more than 90,000 ha by 2015.
He said “I hope the government can convince the National Assembly to increase farmers’ land ownership and allow them to expand their fields. That will foster large-scale production and mechanization and modernize Vietnam’s agriculture.”
According to the Steering Committee for the Southwest Region, the large-field model has cut production costs 10% to 15% and increased production values 20% to 25%, boosting farmers’ profits to US$330 per hectare.
Kido to acquire Vocarimex’s controlling stakes
Foodstuff producer Kido Group (KDC) has decided to acquire a controlling stake in Vietnam Vegetable Oil Industry Corporation (Vocarimex) in a deal worth nearly VND1 trillion (US$44 million).
In a filing to the State Securities Commission on Wednesday, Kido registered to purchase nearly 32.9 million shares in Vocarimex to increase its holding there from 24 per cent to 51 per cent.
The purchase will be conducted through negotiations from May 4 to June 2.
Vocarimex’s shares (VOC) are traded on the Unlisted Public Market Company (UPCoM) for about VND30,000 (US$1.32) each. At this price, Kido is estimated to spend almost VND987 billion ($43.5 million) for the deal.
After the announcement, VOC shares increased 8.5 per cent in the last two sessions. The shares have increased 5.2 per cent this year.
In January this year, the vegetable oil producer approved Kido raising its stake, bypassing the obligation of making a public bid to purchase shares.
On Monday, VP Bank Securities Co (VPBS) announced it sold its entire holding of 9.74 million VOC shares, equivalent to 8 per cent of Vocarimex’s capital.
Apart from Kido, the State Capital Investment Corporation (SCIC) is the second biggest shareholder with a 36.3 per cent.
Vocarimex is one of the largest local vegetable oil firms, with Kido aiming to seize a controlling stake to penetrate deeper in vegetable oil market 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). This acquisition is reportedly boosting Kido’s performance.
The company announced its first-quarter consolidated revenues soared 217.4 per cent year-on-year, totaling VND1.25 trillion, after acquisition of Tuong An Vegetable Oil. Its after-tax profit rose 9.4 per cent to VND30.1 billion.
However, revenues of the parent company Kido Group declined 74 per cent from VND162.7 billion in 2016’s first quarter to just VND42.3 billion in the first three months of this year.
Kido attributed the decline to the group’s business model transformation in which it gives more autonomy for subsidiary and affiliate firms in doing business while the parent company plays key role in planning strategic development, risk management and brand marketing.\\
Start-up businesses to get funding from VCIC
Start-up businesses that focus on green growth will have the opportunity to receive funding and access to comprehensive business development support services from the Viet Nam Climate Innovation Centre (VCIC).
The announcement was made by Pham Duc Nghiem, VCIC’s deputy director at the launch of a contest named “Proof of Concept”, sponsored by the World Bank and Ministry of Science and Technology, held in Ha Noi on Friday.
Specifically, start-ups would receive funds amounting to US$75,000 for the development, deployment or extension of a product or service, he said.
In addition, sponsored businesses will also receive VCIC’s counseling from the initial stage to the market development phase.
Innovative products, services, or business models can be included in VCIC’s second contest in the following categories: effective energy, sustainable agriculture, water management and purification, renewable energy technologies, technology information and other technologies related to climate change.
"This is an opportunity for start-up projects to reduce the impact of climate change on the environment, as well as an opportunity to showcase the potential of Vietnamese companies in the field of technology to cope with climate change," Nghiem said.
"These companies are in the best position to provide innovative solutions to fight climate change, because they know better than anyone else about the difficulties, challenges and potential of the locality. It will help them come up with good ideas to improve the local economy and create more jobs," he added.
Climate change is increasingly attracting the interest of the international community.
As one of the five countries most vulnerable to climate change, the Vietnamese Government has been implementing a number of policy and action programmes to strengthen national capacities to adapt and respond effectively to climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emission.
The Ministry of Science and Technology expects that VCIC will create the foundation to help businesses identify business models and commercialise their products to cope with climate change.
VCIC will also organise seminars to call for ideas in Ha Noi, Da Nang and HCM City to provide more information for businesses who want to join the contest, Nghiem said.
At least 18 enterprises received funding from VCIC in the first contest in 2016.
Their projects included a car sharing solution to save costs and help passengers access transportation services, an automatic unbaked brick molding chain and bio-produce for agriculture.
Tra Vinh attracts additional projects
The southern province of Tra Vinh granted licenses to eight projects in April, including seven domestic ones worth more than 327 billion VND (14.2 million USD) and one foreign-invested worth 3 million USD, according to the provincial authorities.
Since early this year, the province has lured 15 domestic projects with a total registered capital of nearly 581 billion VND (25.26 million USD) and three foreign-invested ones worth 5.64 million USD, up 518 billion VND (22.5 million USD) and 4.64 million USD year-on-year.
Tran Anh Dung, Vice Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee, described key national projects in the province as one of the favourable conditions for local investment attraction, including Luong work for the travel of large capacity vessels on the Hau River and Co Chien bridge that facilitate the marine-based economy and goods transportation by road.
The Duyen Hai power centre with four power plants is capable of generating nearly 4,500 MW of electricity to major industrial projects, meeting power demand in the region.
With a lengthy coastline and extensive fishing grounds, Tra Vinh is well-positioned to develop wind and solar power; cruise, ecological, spiritual and resort tourism, he said.
Tra Vinh currently records 181 projects, including 35 foreign-invested ones worth about 3 billion USD and 146 domestic ones with a total registered capital of more than 98 trillion VND (4.26 billion USD).
It is home to 1,900 businesses and 1,001 affiliates with a total registered capital of some 25 trillion VND (1.08 billion USD) and creates jobs to in excess of 85,000 workers in and outside the province.
Quang Ninh’s exports increase by 5 percent in first months of 2017
Total export turnover of the northern province of Quang Ninh hit 461.3 million USD in the first four months of 2017, making up 28 percent of the yearly plan and up 5.3 percent from a year ago, according to the provincial Department of Planning and Investment.
In April also, the province earned 130 million USD from exports.
Coal export brought home 59.7 million USD from shipments of 455,000 tonnes.
Other export goods seeing increase included cement, up 32 percent; wolfram, 19.1 percent; textiles, 14.4 percent; and vegetable oil, 9.2 percent.
Imports of local businesses were valued at 128.31 million USD in April, adding up to 496.4 million USD in total imports in the January-April period, down by 24 percent compared to the same period last year.
OV scholar suggests shifting to overseas venture investment
A Vietnamese scholar in the Netherlands suggested Vietnam shift to venture investment abroad rather than relying on developing the intellectual-based economy at home during a seminar recently held in Geneva, Switzerland.
According to Dr Hoang Ngoc Giang, lecturer at Utrecht University of the Netherlands and former independent advisor to several venture investment funds in Switzerland, the Vietnamese economy is focusing on attracting foreign capital to facilitate technology transfer and send experts abroad for studies, and has recently embarked on a plan to develop itself into a start-up nation.
However, he described this approach as unfeasible, reasoning that four major pillars of Vietnam’s intellectual-based economy, including education-training, innovation eco-system, information infrastructure, economic climate and social institutions, remain insufficient and weak.
In his suggestion, the top priority should be given to technology because it is the greatest source of added value in the future. In spite of requiring long-term capital (5-10 years) and exposing weak liquidity and high risks, it will bridge development gap and bring strategic interests to Vietnam regarding governance skills and competiveness learnt from the most developed economies.
He proposed that direct outbound investment could be made by sending the most excellent intellectuals abroad to nurture and commercialise inventions, providing aid for successful start-ups to join relevant overseas competitions, and pouring capital into start-up ideas by Vietnamese students and workers in host countries.
Indirect investment could be made by contributing capital to overseas venture investment funds and start-ups, he said.
In order to utilise linkage between overseas venture investment and domestic manufacturing, he called attention to drafting a detailed plan on venture investment abroad, arranging human resources and capital to build a start-up ecosystem, establishing a Vietnam venture investment fund abroad, prioritising agricultural and processing technology projects, and screening relevant start-ups.
Saigon Co.op retailer expands market share
The Saigon Union of Trading Co-operatives (Saigon Co.op) is affirming its status as Vietnam’s leading retailer by opening additional 8-10 Co.opMart supermarkets this year.
In addition, it will build one Sense City commercial centre and launch 65 Co.op food stores and 500 convenience store called Co.op smile.
The company will also flesh out its brand-new business model- Co.opMart Finest that connects multimedia and other forms of shopping.
It also runs the programme “Accumulating Stamps to Exchange for Gifts” until July 30 for customers holding Co.opmart cards. The programme has been launched in collaboration with Brand Loyalty that enables customers to collect a set of high-quality crystal imported from Germany.
According to Nguyen Anh Duc, permanent deputy general director of the Saigon Co.op, constant updates of international trends and renewal of promotional programmes will help the company bring practical benefits to its customers while connecting consumers and the supermarket.
The move also fosters the consumption power of the Co.op market chain’s products, 90 percent of which are made in Vietnam, he added.
Lavifood begins construction of $66m fruit, vegetable processing plant in Tay Ninh
Lavifood Joint Stock Company on May 2 broke ground for a fruit and vegetable processing plant in Tay Ninh Province’s Go Dau District.
The 15ha Tanifood plant on National Highway 22B in Thanh Duc Commune is expected to cost VND1.5 trillion (US$66.07 million).
To be equipped with technologies from Germany, Sweden, Italy, and Japan, it will include a production line for fresh fruits and vegetables and heat treatment with a total capacity of 10,000 tonnes a year, a frozen fruit and vegetable production line with a capacity of 20,000 tonnes, a production line for drying, soft-drying and sublimation drying of fruits and vegetables, and a line for producing condensed fruit juice.
It will also have a production line with a capacity of making fruit juices in 600 million cans, bottles and Tetrapak cartons a year.
Pham Ngo Quoc Thang, general director of Lavifood JSC, said the new plant would make “international standard” products for export to the US, EU, South Korea, Japan, and Australia.
The plant targets daily consumption of 500 tonnes of fruits like mangoes, passion fruits, pineapples and dragon fruits when it begins operation in November 2018.
Pham Van Tan, chair man of the Tay Ninh Province People’s Committee, said "The Tanifood plant is an important link in developing an agricultural value chain in the province and enhancing farmers’ incomes".
Thang’s company plans to build four more such plants in the province to enable Tay Ninh to become a high-value farm produce export hub and raise farmers incomes by three to four times from the current $1,500 per year.
Many farmers in the province yesterday signed agreements with Tanifood to supply fruits for the plant.
Established in 2014, Long An Province-based Lavifood processes and exports fruits and vegetables to the US, France, Japan, Australia, Korea, Algeria and other countries.
The plant is its first project in Tay Ninh Province.
Samsung’s weighty contribution to Vietnamese economy
By expanding its businesses in Vietnam, Samsung’s contribution to the Vietnamese economy is getting larger.
Samsung has several huge manufacturing complexes in Vietnam. Its subsidiary Samsung Electronics already has three complexes in Bac Ninh Province (SEV), Thai Nguyen Province (SEVT), and Ho Chi Minh City (SEHC), with a total investment value of $9.5 billion.
While SEV and SEVT have become familiar with the Vietnamese people, as these two complexes have been operating for many years and have contributed significantly to the Vietnamese economy and society, SEHC is brand new. Being launched in the middle of last year with a total investment of $2 billion, SEHC manufactures complete television units and consumer electronic products, such as vacuum cleaners, washing machines, and fridges.
Compared to Samsung’s previous television manufacturing plant in Thu Duc district (Ho Chi Minh City), SEHC in on a whole different scale and technological modernity. The large factory buildings were constructed on a 94-hectare area, and according to Samsung, all the production lines are the most modern available freshly imported for the production of high-end product lines, such as TV SUHD, Smart TV, and LED TV.
At the time VIR’s reporters visited SEHC in the middle of April 2017, it was focusing on the production of QLED televisions, the most high-end product line of Samsung available domestically and internationally. SEHC specifically reserved a special manufacturing area, called LCM, to manufacture screens, the part accounting for 70 per cent of televisions’ value. This place must be kept absolutely clean, so the production process is very strict: all components, devices, and employees must be “clean” before entering this area.
With the capacity of 40,000 LCM products each day, this production line not only supplies enough components for SEHC but 30 per cent of its capacity goes to export.
“There are not many Samsung plants in the world that can manufacture LCM screens. This technology is considered an original production process, which means that Samsung highly appreciates its Vietnamese operations,” a Samsung’s representative told VIR.
Despite only being launched for a short time, SEHC now has an average capacity of about 1.1 million products each month. Beside semi-finished products, 80-90 per cent of SEHC’s finished products are exported. In particular, the consumer electronic products are exported to 75 markets and the audio visual products are exported to 60 markets.
Samsung’s mobile device manufacturing complexes in Thai Nguyen Province and Bac Ninh Province, both larger in scale than SEHC, are faring similarly. At present, the mobile devices of SEV and SEVT are exported to 78 markets. 40 per of Samsung mobile devices in the world are manufactured in Vietnam. With over 110,000 employees, Samsung Vietnam now employs one third of the total Samsung Electronics staff all over the world.
The statistics of Vietnam’s socioeconomic situation in the first quarter of 2017 indicate that the GDP growth rate was 5.1 per cent only. According to some regulatory authorities, this fairly low percentage resulted from the decreasing production of Samsung during the observed period.
Samsung’s decreasing production may derive from the Note 7 incident last year. It is not clear yet whether Samsung is the reason behind the decline in Vietnam’s GDP in the first quarter of 2017, but it seems that Samsung is playing an increasingly important role in the growth of the Vietnamese economy.
Thus, when discussing the movements of the Vietnamese economy in the rest of the year, experts again mentioned Samsung. Accordingly, when Samsung increases its production in the second quarter, the Vietnamese manufacturing industry will recover, thereby pushing economic growth.
Bang Hyun Woo, deputy general director of Samsung Vietnam, said that last year, despite the incident of Note 7, SEV and SEVT still had an export turnover of $36.2 billion. In total, all Samsung manufacturing activities in Vietnam generated a revenue of $46.3 billion. Of the total, the revenue from exports was $39.9 billion, an increase of 9.9 per cent compared to 2015.
In the middle of April 2017, when visiting SEVT, VIR’s reporters saw that the $5-billion production line was focusing on the production of new smartphones Galaxy S8/S8+. According to its schedule, on May 5, these smartphones will be officially sold in Vietnam as well as in global markets.
After the Note 7 incident, Samsung is now very careful in producing and testing the S8/S8+ devices. All products are tested for 72 hours, instead of the two hours of the previous practice, to ensure that there will be no defect or incident. In the reliability test lab, the product safety testing department now added an explosion testing stage, and additional tests to verify the products’ ability to withstand force, temperature, and chemicals.
This is the reason why Samsung believes that the S8/S8+ will generate a significant revenue, as the rising demand will bring about increasing production, thereby increasing SEV and SEVT’s production and export value.
Samsung expected that SEV and SEVT’s export turnover will increase by 10 % compared to last year, reaching $40 billion this year.
In addition, when SEHC stabilises operation during this year, its export turnover will increase by about $4 billion, while last year’s export turnover was $1.7 billion only. Thus, these three Samsung complexes will contribute $44 billion to Vietnamese exports. Almost no other domestic enterprise can contribute such a large amount to Vietnamese exports.
None of these calculations include the manufacturing and export activities of Samsung Electro Mechanics Vietnam in Thai Nguyen Province or Samsung Display in Bac Ninh, which has increased its investment to US$6 billion. If it is counted, it is estimated that Samsung’s export turnover will be US$50 billion this year, a remarkable increase in comparison with the US$39.9 billion of last year.
Elevated highway proposed to ease traffic pressure at Tan Son Nhat airport
A map showing the elevated highway (in blue) connected to the Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City.
The project will be executed under a PPP (public private partnership) and is among five other project planned by the city to construct elevated highways in an effort to curb traffic congestion.
A public-private partnership is a government service or private business venture funded and operated through a partnership of government and one or more private sector companies.
The construction of the elevated road leading to Tan Son Nhat was proposed by the 319 Corporation, which is managed by the Ministry of National Defense, Dong Mekong Company Ltd, and Dong A Infrastructure JSC.
The structure will be 3,240 meters long at completion, starting at the T2 international terminal of Tan Son Nhat Airport, passing T1 domestic terminal, then running along Thang Long and Phan Thuc Duyen Streets, passing over Hoang Van Thu Park, and splitting into two branches before landing on Hoang Van Thu and Nguyen Van Troi Streets.
According to Hoang Dinh, project director from Dong A Infrastructure JSC, the highway will create a convenient and fast way for vehicles to exit the airport.
Along with other projects to expand and upgrade the facility, the construction of an elevated highway will help solve congestion at the entrance of the facility and improve the level of service to passengers, Dinh said.
The road can also be linked to Elevated Highway No.1, an under-utilized project which leads to the city’s center, the director continued.
Nguyen Van Tam, deputy director of the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Transport, said that the agency had been tasked with evaluating and gathering feedback for the scheme before submitting a report to the Municipal People’s Committee.
Regarding funding for the project, the three developers estimated costs to be in the vicinity of VND2.6 trillion (US$114.3 million), of which VND450 billion ($19.8 million) will be provided by the local state budget for land clearance.
The project is considered an attractive investment proposition for commercial banks, while its financial plan also includes regular maintenance in order to achieve continuous service upon its completion.
According to Dinh, implementing the construction under a PPP contract is necessary and suitable in the current economic climate, in which funds from the city’s coffers are limited.
The director also asserted that the design of the highway will take into account urban aesthetics and the architecture of the airport.
The area of land required to be cleared, about 50,600 square meters, will only impact a few buildings and a small portion of Hoang Van Thu Park, he elaborated.
The project’s developers and relevant agencies are currently expediting procedures for the construction to be approved in the third quarter of 2017.
Work is expected to begin in the fourth quarter of 2017 and the elevated road is scheduled to be put into operation by early 2019.
TUOI TRE NEWS
Plans ignored, urban areas hurt
Failure to follow planning in many urban areas has negative consequences for urban development, Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung said at a recent conference of the construction sector.
As regulated, an Urban Development and Management Board will be set up to help local authorities implement and manage development plans to ensure infrastructure connectivity and co-operation between contractors.
The Ha Noi Capital Construction Master Plan was the first planning directed by the Politburo and approved by the Prime Minister, but many problems remained unsolved, such as traffic congestion, flooding and dense high-rise buildings in the inner city.
The director of the HCM City Department of Construction, Tran Trong Tuan, pointed to a lack of connectivity between housing development and infrastructure development.
Many home construction projects were built following approved planning but urban development projects, particularly technical and social infrastructure projects, failed to keep up with them. In some areas, there was some connectivity between these projects, but it did not comply with the Construction Law on comprehensive connectivity, according to Tuan.
To tackle this issue, big urban areas like Ha Noi and HCM City need to complete housing development programmes on the basis of urban development programmes to deal with shortcomings relating to infrastructure and traffic, he said.
According to Construction Minister Pham Hong Ha, the ministry will review and inspect planning and the implementation of planning of all urban areas this year, particularly big urban areas.
The Linh Dam Urban Area in Ha Noi’s Hoang Mai District is a typical example of the problems raised at the conference. The area was planned ten years ago, but adjusted often since then. On an area of 3ha in the urban area, up to 12 high-rise buildings were built with a construction density of 50 per cent.
Another land plot was planned for low-rise houses, but a 35-storey building was built instead. The Linh Dam Urban Area is now in disorder and all the initial planning has been wiped out.
Experts said planning adjustments are common, but such “excessive” adjustments as in Linh Dam create a negative precedent.
Recently, an investor asked Ha Noi authorities for permission to fill up one hectare of the 6ha Thanh Cong Lake to build an apartment complex. In exchange, the investor would dig up a hectare nearby to make a man-made lake.
But the Vice Chairman of the Ha Noi Urban Planning and Development Association, Dao Ngoc Nghiem, said the proposal did not match the urban planning. The developer suggested digging a man-made lake, but failed to take into account the connectivity with surrounding infrastructure, he said.
Harmonious co-operation needed
According to Construction Minister Ha, people and businesses are the ones affected by planning, but they have no say in it.
For example, in big urban areas like Ha Noi and HCM City, if businesses choose to invest in an urban area in line with approved planning, they must ensure that the plans will not result in traffic congestion, he said. "Businesses themselves must not adjust planning without permission from local authorities, and both sides must abide by the approved urban planning."
Associate Professor Nguyen Trong Hoa from the HCM City Institute for Development Studies said urban planning in some areas was not effective enough or lacked sustainability.
Many urban areas incorporated construction planning into their socio-economic development plans but are still weak in building development plans.
As a result, current urban development plans were just “puzzle pieces” of projects that the State had enough budget to invest in or businesses wanted to invest in because of their own interests, he said.
Above all, authorities at all levels must manage urban development publically and transparently and be held accountable. Many countries in the world developed sustainably thanks to this “gold principle”, he said.
All planning requires the participation of many relevant ministries and sectors, particularly localities which benefit from the planning. Therefore, if all ministries and localities have a responsibility to carefully study and contribute opinions to the planning, its quality would be much improved, Ha said.
VN trade value up 20.1 per cent in four months
Thach Khe iron mine: ministry urges go ahead, local authorities demur
The decision to resume the exploitation of Thach Khe, the biggest iron mine in SE Asia, and the biggest ever open-cast mine, has yet to be determined.
Following the Prime Minister’s instruction, the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI) gathered a meeting with relevant parties to discuss the fate of Thach Khe.
The information about Thach Khe has once again been put on the table as the Vietanm Coal and Mineral Industries Group (Vinacomin), the nation’s biggest miner, in late 2016 proposed to the Prime Minister a plan to resume exploitation at Thach Khe.
However, opinions vary about whether to continue exploiting iron ore at Thach Khe. While the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MOIT) urges to resume the exploitation, the Ha Tinh provincial authorities are indecisive.
The provincial authorities have expressed their concern about the capability of arranging capital for the project, saying that it is necessary to clarify the issue. They have also warned about the oversupply of iron ore as domestic demand is limited.
Meanwhile, environmentalists have warned about the possible impact on the environment, reminding them of the lessons from Formosa.
MOIT recently sent a document to the Prime Minister to clarify the issues of Ha Tinh provincial authorities’ concerns.
The ministry admitted that the Thach Khe Iron JSC (TIC) doesn’t have money to continue the investment, while the required investment capital for 2016 and upcoming years is very high.
Besides, the investor will also have to pay for the granting of mineral exploitation rights, VND114 billion a year. The compensation for site clearance alone would cost VND1 trillion.
Meanwhile, TIC's only financial source is from iron exploitation. It is nearly impossible to seek capital from credit institutions to implement site clearance and resettlement.
Therefore, the ministry has thought of another solution – restructuring shareholders and mobilizing more capital to implement the project.
The shareholders with limited financial capability which did not contribute capital as scheduled, must transfer the capital contribution to existing shareholders or other capable enterprises.
Regarding consumption, MOIT affirmed that some domestic enterprises have committed to buy iron ore from Thach Khe. These include Hoa Phat Steel JSC and Thai Hung Trade JSC.
The total registered demand is 5,700 tons, while the total output of the first phase of exploitation is 5,000 tons per annum.
Also according to MOIT, the project is expected to occupy 4,821 hectares of land and affect the lives of 5,000 households in six communes as it will use a large volume of fresh water during the exploitation.
However, TIC has committed to apply necessary measures to protect the environment.
The company, for example, has suggested throwing waste to encroach on the sea instead of throwing waste on the mainland.
Luong Bang, VNN