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Hanoi -Vietnam’s industrial real estate sector stands ready to take off after the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) comes into effect, experts have said.
Vietnam’s industrial real estate sector stands ready to take off after the CPTPP takes effect. (Photo: cafef.vn)
France’s FM Logistic, a leading group in international supply of warehouse, transport, and packaging, has been successful in renting and purchasing land in the northern region with the advice from real estate services company Cushman & Wakefield.
As part of the firm “Ambition 2022” plan to expand geographical coverage to support customer growth, FM Logistic launched a 5,000 square-metre tri-temperature logistics warehouse in Bac Ninh province while purchasing an additional 50,000 square metres in the northern region to build the first European-standard storage in Vietnam.
According to Director of Operations in Asia for FM Logistic Stéphane Descarpentries, FM Logistic is striving to become one of the leading logistics providers in Vietnam by 2020.
While holding that Vietnam’s logistics sector is enjoying thriving development, with vast expansions of leased space by many famous names in the world, Managing Director of Cushman & Wakefield Vietnam Alex Crane, said that it’s fantastic time for the industrial and logistics businesses.
Meanwhile, Stephen Wyatt, Country Head for Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) Vietnam, believed that Vietnam is grasping the attention of foreign investors with 80 percent of the investments poured into the industrial and manufacturing sectors.
Many investors are shifting their capital from China to Vietnam as Vietnam has sound planning for industrial parks and the Government is considering the establishment of specialised economic zones which offer preferential taxes for corporations, he stressed.
According to the JLL’s latest report, more than 18,000 hectares of industrial land in the north will be put into use by the end of 2020.
Currently, Hai Phong city and Bac Ninh province are the two localities that have the highest number of industrial parks in the country. They are also the largest attractors of industrial investment in the northern key economic region.
Meanwhile, the central region is expected to be an emerging playground that will attract a large pool of investors in 2018.
Strong growth of manufacturing and consumption will spur the surge of demands for warehouses in the country, according to the CBRE Vietnam. Warehouse rental fees are said to rise 1.5 percent to 4 percent per year in the coming time.
Good transport infrastructure also makes the southern localities like Ho Chi Minh City, and Binh Duong, Long An and Dong Nai provinces, become a magnet for foreign investors. Land rental fees at the southern industrial parks have picked up 3 percent from the same time last year.
Vietnamese depot market will be thriving thanks to the expanded operation of e-commerce giants like Alibaba, JD.com and Tencent together with strong growth of convenience stores and retail models developed by such large firms as Lotte and Aeon.
Economists optimistic about Vietnam’s economic outlook
Positive socio-economic signs in the first months of 2018 have made economist optimistic about the Vietnamese economy’s outlook for the whole year as well as until 2020.
Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyen Chi Dung speaks at the event
At a conference in Hanoi on May 15 on the Vietnamese economy’s outlook for 2018 and to 2020, Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyen Chi Dung highlighted the good socio-economic performance in the first months of 2018, especially a GDP growth of 7.38 percent, the highest rise of the first quarter in 10 years. The macro-economy was kept stable, and inflation was under control.
The average consumer price index (CPI) in the first four months of 2018 rose 2.8 percent. The monetary market and the banking system remained stable with the system’s liquidity ensured, he said.
The Minister added that disbursement of foreign direct investment was estimated at 5.1 billion USD, up 6.3 percent. The number of newly-established enterprises was over 41,200 with combined capital of about 412 trillion VND.
Total import-export revenue in the period was estimated to hit 73.76 billion USD, a rise of 19 percent year on year, with a trade surplus of about 3.39 billion USD.
The country also saw its ranking enhanced in many fields, including business environment, competitiveness and innovation.
“These are good signs, especially when the domestic and world economic situations have posed positive impacts on the country’s economy,” stated the minister.
He added that domestic reform policies have begun to show their good effects, while free trade agreements and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) are expected to bring positive effects.
“There are many reasons for us to believe in the growth prospects of the Vietnamese economy in the rest of the years and the years to come,” stressed Dung.
President of the Vietnam Association of Foreign Invested Enterprises (VAFIE) Nguyen Mai held that foreign investment (FDI) has played an important role in the Vietnamese economy. Last year, the FDI disbursement reached a record figure of 17.5 billion USD.
He predicted that FDI disbursement this year may hit 19 billion USD.
Meanwhile, Warrick Cleine, President and General Director of KPMG Vietnam asserted that foreign investors are becoming more confident in the Vietnamese economy.
A number of forecasts of international organisations put the country’s average GDP growth in the 2018-2020 at around 6.85 percent and even 7 percent in some years.
However, Minister Dung said the Vietnamese Government has been highly aware of the possible impacts by the economy’s internal problems and outside influence.
The country aims for fast and sustainable economic growth on the basis of making full use of humankind’s science-technology advances, especially from the 4.0 industrial revolution, towards the goal of a modern industrialized country with an advanced market economy.
Minister Dung also highlighted the need for joint efforts of all sectors at all levels as well as all economic players in maintaining the growth trend not only in 2018 but in following years.
Social News 16/5
Meeting looks to improve legal aid provision at citizen reception centres
Vice President of the VFF Central Committee Ngo Sach Thuc speaks at the meeting (Photo: daidoanket.vn)
A meeting was held in Hanoi on May 14 for lawyers to share experience in providing legal aid at citizen reception centres of the Party Central Committee and the State.
The event was organised by the standing board of the Vietnam Fatherland Front (VFF) Central Committee, the Government Inspectorate, the Ministry of Justice, the Vietnam Bar Federation and the Vietnam Lawyers Association. About 170 lawyers from across the nation attended.
Vice President of the VFF Central Committee Ngo Sach Thuc said when providing legal aid at the centres, lawyers are performing political and legal tasks as members of the VFF. Accordingly, they give legal advice to ensure citizens’ interests while helping citizens fulfill their obligations and protecting the law.
Chairman of the Vietnam Bar Federation Do Ngoc Thinh said in 2017, the citizen reception centres received 1,500 arrivals who came to seek advice in many different fields such as land seizure, granting of land use rights certificates, site clearance, compensation and resettlement and benefits for national contributors. More than 70 percent of the cases related to land issues.
Most citizens had a better understanding of their rights and obligations after receiving legal aid, he noted.
On difficulties facing lawyers while providing legal aid, Nguyen Hong Diep, head of the central citizen board of the Government Inspectorate, mentioned the increase of citizens coming to the reception centres to file complaints and denunciations before each session of the National Assembly. Therefore, legal aid given by lawyers is considerably useful to them.
He asked each lawyer to offer thorough advice and analysis to help citizens understand relevant circulars, decrees and legal basis so they can choose suitable ways to have their issues solved.
At the meeting, participants shared experience in handling cases and suggested ways to improve people’s legal awareness.
More than 500 youths join Vietnam-China border friendship exchange
At the third border youth friendship exchange programme betweem Vietnamese and Chinese children
Some 500 youths of the northern mountainous province of Lang Son and 54 others from China’s Guangxi province joined in the third border youth friendship exchange programme which began at Huu Nghi (friendship) International Border Gate on May 14.
The two-day event aims to enhance friendship between the two Parties and States as well as authorities of the two provinces, said Deputy Secretary of the provincial Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union Dinh Thi Anh at the opening ceremony.
The programme offers opportunities to youths of both sides to bolster mutual understanding, Anh said, noting that the programme also helps local children popularise their hometown’s land and people.
Meanwhile, secretary of the communist youth league of Guangxi province’s Chongzuo city Yang Zhi Ling hoped that the youths will continue to treasure and contribute to Vietnam-China ties.
Art performances, talks on the friendship between border youths and incense offering at the statue of President Ho Chi Minh will be held during the programme.
Also, the youths will visit Hoang Van Thu relic site, Phai Ve historic relic site and Lang Son Children’s Palace.
200 photos featuring Quang Ninh tourism on display
Visitors to the exhibition
Up to 200 photos by 20 photographers were on display in the northern province of Quang Ninh from May 4-14.
Co-hosted by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism’s Agency of Art, Photography and Exhibition, the provincial Tourism Department, the provincial Department of Culture and Sports and the provincial Association of Literature and Arts, the exhibition was in response to the National Tourism Year 2018 Ha Long – Quang Ninh.
After a 10-day fact-finding trip to all 14 localities in the province, photographers vividly depicted portraits of mining workers, the lives and beauty of local people, culture, landscapes and tourism in ethnic minorities groups as well as the world natural wonder Ha Long Bay.
The closing ceremony was held on May 14.
German-funded project on smart power network development approved
Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh has signed Decision 519/QD-TTg approving the proposal on a German-funded project to apply smart power network to develop renewable energy and energy efficiency in Vietnam.
The project, which will use non-refundable Official Development Assistance (ODA) capital of the German Government, aims to complete legal framework related to promoting and supporting the development of various sources of renewable energy in the power system as well as a smart energy network in Vietnam.
It is expected to help the country fulfill the Government’s targets set in the national power development programme, the green growth strategy, and the green growth action plan, towards ensuring reliable supply of energy and improving power quality along with sustainable development of the power and energy sector.
The project will enhance partnership and technology transfer among universities, research institutes and enterprises of Vietnam and Germany in renewable energy and energy efficiency, while establishing networks for cooperation and experience sharing among policy-makers, management officials as well as other project development units.
Research affiliation will focus on latest technologies and technology products and software for energy efficiency for application in building smart houses and smart cities.
To be implemented from 2018 to 2022 nationwide, the project will have total investment of nearly 5.3 million EUR, of which 5 million EUR is sourced by non-refundable ODA of the German Government, while 297,980 USD is Vietnam’s corresponding capital.
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has assigned the Ministry of Planning and Investment to send an official notice to the German side on this decision. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Industry and Trade was asked to gather ideas of relevant agencies to complete, verify and ratify the project’s document in order to issue a decision on the project.
Fishing boats requested to turn on positioning devices round the clock
Ship owners and captains are requested to turn on satellite-positioning devices (Movimar) round the clock when going fishing offshore.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) has sent a document to People’s Committees of coastal provinces and cities, requesting ship owners and captains to turn on satellite-positioning devices (Movimar) round the clock when going fishing offshore.
It was the latest move by the MARD to fight illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in an effort to have European Commission (EC)’s “yellow card” lifted on Vietnamese seafood.
All fishing boats with a total length of 15 metres or above must be equipped with a satellite-positioning device which must be switched on for 24 hours a day and connected to monitoring centres run by local Fisheries Departments, according to the MARD.
The ship owners and captains who fail to comply with this regulation will get strict penalties.
The ministry also asked the municipal and provincial Departments of Agriculture and Rural Development to review and record the number of Movimar devices being used by fishing vessels and those being damaged or lost. The fishing vessels will have their devices repaired or replaced if necessary.
On October 23, 2017, the EC issued a "yellow card" warning to Vietnam, after the country failed to demonstrate sufficient progress in the fight against fishing worldwide. Though the measure was considered a warning, which would not technically affect the EC trade policy, the Vietnamese fishing industry was concerned that the yellow card would seriously harm the reputation of Vietnamese seafood worldwide, thus weakening sales.
According to EC’s requirement, the Vietnamese seafood sector had to implement nine recommendations in six months from October 23, 2017, to April 23, 2018.
The nine recommendations included revision of the legal framework to ensure compliance with international and regional rules applicable to the conservation and management of fisheries resources, ensuring the effective implementation and enforcement of the country’s revised laws, and strengthening the effective implementation of international rules and management measures.
As the yellow card could affect the reputation and trade of Vietnamese seafood in the European and global markets, the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP) and businesses have also made every effort to cooperate with authorised agencies and with one another to fight IUU fishing over the last six months.
“Thanks to such drastic measures, the number of fishing boats and fishermen caught fishing illegally on foreign waters reduced sharply. Particularly, zero case of boats going illegal fishing in foreign waters of Pacific island nations was reported,” said Deputy Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development Ha Cong Tuan, adding that breaches are only found at disputed waters as the boundaries in these areas have yet to be fixed.
A working delegation from the EC Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries will visit Vietnam from May 16 to 23 to inspect the country’s implementation of the EC’s nine recommendations related to the fight against IUU fishing.
After the inspection, the EU will give its final decision over whether it seeks to withdraw the “yellow card” from Vietnamese offshore seafood.
HCM City needs 27,000 labourers in May
Ho Chi Minh City has more than 27,000 job vacancies in May, according to Tran Anh Tuan, Vice Director of the municipal Centre of Forecasting Manpower Needs and Labour Market Information.
Of the total, 19.93 percent are in sale sector, while 15.09 percent are in the service sector, and 18.94 percent in the garment-textile and footwear industry. The rest are jobs related to transportation, storage, mechanics and import-export.
Tuan said that to satisfy the demand, the Ho Chi Minh City Employment Service Centre will organise a second mobile job fair in District 4, which expects to draw 25 enterprises who will recruit 1,000 labourers.
Meanwhile, more than 4,800 labourers of the central province of Thua Thien Hue found jobs in the first quarter of 2018, equivalent to 30.46 percent of the area’s yearly target. Of the total, 168 local labourers were sent abroad, mostly to Japan, the Republic of Korea and Taiwan (China).
According to the provincial Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, in April, an event was held to recruit labourers for vocational training courses under the province’s manpower contracts.
In the first quarter of this year, the province also recruited 3,016 trainees for vocational training courses at different levels.
Road to hilltop unfinished for 6 years
The bumpy road that leads to a local temple in Vĩnh Phúc Province’s Bồ Lý Commune. The road remains inaccessible for motorbikes despite the commune’s decision to upgrade it in 2012. — Photo vietnamnet.vn
A road in the mountainous Vĩnh Phúc Province has remained under construction for the past six years despite receiving a fund of VNĐ9 billion (US$395,300).
The 1km road was sanctioned to help local residents travel easily to a temple located on top of a hill in Bồ Lý Commune in Tam Đảo District, some 100km northwest of Hà Nội.
The temple was constructed to honour the seven Lỗ brothers who fought against the Mongol enemy in 1258.
It has been accessible only through a bumpy road, which filled with mud every time it rains. In such conditions, commuters take half an hour to reach the temple from the base of the hill.
In February 2012, the People’s Committee of Bồ Lý Commune decided to upgrade the road and planned a two-phase road expansion project, which was funded by Vĩnh Phúc’s People’s Committee, Vietnamnet online newspaper reported.
According to the plan, the first phase involved levelling the road, creating drainage ditches and installing some 200 stone steps, while the entire road would be concretised in the second phase.
But to the surprise of the local people, the road looks pretty much the same after the completion of the first phase. It is still covered with rocks and was inaccessible for motorbikes.
Residents living in adjacent areas have to manually fill the holes on the road caused by landslides and erosion whenever it rains.
“We were so excited when the project started. But now we feel disappointed that nothing has changed,” said a resident of Bồ Lý Commune.
Nguyễn Trọng Dân, chairman of Bồ Lý People’s Committee, attributed the unfinished road to lack of funds.
Some VNĐ7 billion ($307,400), or 78 per cent, of the total funds were spent on the first phase of the project, he said, adding that the second phase could not be implemented with the remaining funds.
“We had requested financial support from the province’s People’s Committee but have not received any,” he said.
Gót ferry terminal to remain open 24 hours
Vehicles and visitors used to be stuck at Gót ferry terminal earlier. Now, they can ferry from Hải Phòng to Cát Bà Island 24 hours a day, throughout the week.
Hải Phòng City’s Department of Transport has decided to allow the Gót ferry terminal to operate for 24 hours throughout the week.
According to the decision on May 12, 2018 on the temporary traffic flow at Gót ferry terminal in Cát Hải District, the ferry terminal will operate round the clock every day from May 12 to serve the increasing tourist demand during the summer vacation, director of the city’s Department of Transport Vũ Duy Tùng confirmed to vietnamplus.vn online newspaper.
The terminal from Tân Vũ Bridge across the island will ferry tourists to Cát Bà tourim island 24 hours a day, so there are no time constraints for visitors to get back to the mainland.
However, two-way trucks passing through the terminal are prohibited from 2pm to 9pm on Fridays and from 5am to 9pm on Saturdays and Sundays.
The Tân Vũ-Lạch Huyện Bridge has shortened the travel time from Hải Phòng City centre to Cát Bà Island to two hours from the previous three hours.
It took 15 minutes for vehicles to go to Cát Bà Island, Cát Hải District from Gót ferry terminal but the ferry-awaiting time was up to several hours because there were many vehicles as long queues.
This is good news for visitors to Cát Bà Island as well as for residents living on the island district. The route from Hải Phòng to Cát Bà is now officially connected 24x7, said an official of the city’s Transport Department.
Previously, the ferry terminal was closed at 17h every day, so many vehicles and visitors were stuck on the island if they didn’t timely present at the terminal before 17h to come back land.
The ferry terminal remains crowded on weekends and holidays, especially summer. Such loss of time, besides causing inconvenience, affects tourism as well as socio-economic development of Cát Hải Island District.
The number of people and means of transport going to Cát Hải District and Cát Bà Island through Gót ferry has increased significantly, especially in the peak times, from 1,000 to 2,000 cars; from 1,000 to 2,500 motorcycles and about 7,000 to 14,000 people, according to the city’s Department of Transport.
Kiệt takes cycling tour’s fifth stage
Cyclists at the fifth stage of the Return to the Countryside tournament.
Trần Tuấn Kiệt of Domesco Đồng Tháp won the fifth stage of the Return to the Countryside cycling tournament yesterday.
Kiệt completed the 50.4km stage in Sóc Trăng City with a time of 1 hour, 20.02 minutes.
He was followed by Nguyễn Hoàng Giang of Gạo Hạt Ngọc Trời-An Giang and Joshua Mari Bonifacio of the Philippines’ team Go for Gold.
The overall ranking remained the same after the fifth stage.
Quách Tiến Dũng of Military Zone 7 was on top with a total time of 10:48.56.
Nguyễn Phạm Quốc Khang from Bike Life Đồng Nai and Phạm Minh Triết of Gạo Hạt Ngọc Trời-An Giang were second and third, respectively.
Gạo Hạt Ngọc Trời-AN Giang took the lead in the team ranking. Bike Life Đồng Nai and Team Go For Gold were close behind.
The sixth stage today will be 30 laps around Hoà Bình Boulevard in Cần Thơ City totalling 42km.
Giang starts with a win at F3 Futures
Trịnh Linh Giang of Việt Nam wins first round match at the F3 Futures event in Huế. — Photo VTF
Trịnh Linh Giang defeated Nguyễn Đắc Tiến in the first round all-Vietnamese match at the Vietnam F3 Futures tennis tournament yesterday in Huế.
Giang won the singles match 6-4, 6-1 within 80 minutes and set up a rendezvous with No 2 seed Karunuday Singh of India in the second round. Singh overcame his countryman Nitin Kumar Sinha 6-3, 6-2 in another match yesterday.
In another match, Vietnamese player Trần Quang Trường lost 1-6, 1-6 to No 8 Song Min-kyung of South Korea.
Takashi Saito of Japan beat Australian Matthew Romios 7-6 (2), 6-1; No 4 Alexios Halebia from the US won 6-3, 6-7 (3), 7-5 over Adrian Andrzejczuk of Poland.
No 1 seed Lý Hoàng Nam of Việt Nam will play today against Son Ji-hoon of South Korea. His partner in the F1 Futures’ doubles win Phạm Văn Phương will face Japan’s Gengo Kikuchi.
According to latest world ranking release, Nam has jumped to No 433—his highest position ever and the highest spot ever held by a Vietnamese player.
Phương is No 1,430, a leap of 153 spots.
In the doubles event, Giang paired with Phương lost 5-7, 6-2, 7-10 to the Thai team Chantha Thanapet and Rakpuangchon Vorachon. Lê Quốc Khánh and Trần Ngọc Quốc Vinh were beaten 6-7 (3), 7-5, 7-10 by mixed pair Jayden Court from Australia and Nguyễn Bùi Trí of Việt Nam.
Hải Phương Nam Gia Định University beat veteran Sanna Khánh Hoà
Hải Phương Nam Gia Định University (in white) win 3-2 over Sanna Khánh Hoà in the first-round match of the National Futsal HDBank Championship in Đà Nẵng on Sunday. — Photo vov.vn
Hải Phương Nam Gia Định University fought back to win 3-2 over Sanna Khánh Hoà in the first-round match of the National Futsal HDBank Championship in Đà Nẵng on Sunday.
As one of the senior clubs, Sanna Khánh Hoà had no difficulty in dominating the young team since the beginning of the match.
They quickly made a 2-0 lead, thanks to goals by Khắc Chí and Quốc Hiền in the first set. But they underestimated their rivals, who bounced back with three goals by Tấn Phát, Quốc Hưng and Tấn Tiếp in the second half.
“I told my players to keep playing while fixing our mistakes. We had better ball procession in the second half (and scored goals). My players competed with great spirit to win this match,” said coach Nguyễn Tuấn Anh of Hải Phương Nam Gia Định University.
In an earlier match, runner-up Sanatech-Sanest Khánh Hoà lost 0-1 to Sài Gòn FC.
The only goal belonged to Bá Tiến with a close-range finish.
Speaking about their shocking loss, head of Sanatech-Sanest Khánh Hoà football delegation Trần Duy Hiếu said it was an unlucky match.
“Sanatech-Sanest Khánh Hoà had a good start, but there were times when the players lost focus in defending, while strikers did not finish well, leading to the goal for Sài Gòn. I do not understand why we could not score a single goal. We regret this match,” Hiếu said.
Coach assistant Phan Trần Tuấn Anh of Sài Gòn said the key reason for their win was the high performance of goalkeeper Châu Bảo Giang, whose skills have improved a lot. Other players are also at their peak owing to careful preparation months ahead of the tournament.
In another match, Hoàng Thư Đà Nẵng drew 1-1 with Cao Bằng.
The championship will officially begin this afternoon at Tiên Sơn Sports Palace.
Defending champions Thái Sơn Nam will begin the tournament against Thái Sơn Bắc. Tân Hiệp Hưng will play Kim Toàn Đà Nẵng in the second match of the day today.
Bad luck after bad luck
Phạm Duy Hưng, 32, of the northern province of Hà Nam’s fell into deep distress when he learned he’d been cuckolded last Friday, as he learned his girlfriend was having a sexual relationship with another man.
Hưng was so angry that he grabbed a shotgun, a scimitar and then drove his car to the hotel his girlfriend was staying in with her new partner to punish the man and win his lover back.
Luckily, fortune doesn’t always favour the bold or potentially murderous.
Hưng was arrested on the way to go to the hotel by local police for illegal possession of weapons.
Losing your lover and liberty on the same day has to be a bitter pill to swallow!
Dance and music show celebrate President Hồ Chí Minh’s birthday
Contemporary Còn Mãi Bản Hùng Ca (The Legends Live On) will be staged at HCM City Opera House on May 19 to celebrate the 128th birthday of President Hồ Chí Minh. — Photo courtesy of HBSO
Còn Mãi Bản Hùng Ca (The Legends Live On), a special music and dance show to celebrate the 128th birthday of President Hồ Chí Minh (May 19), will be staged at the city’s Opera House on May 19.
The show will open with composer Nguyễn Mạnh Duy Linh’s latest symphony Huyền Thoại Mùa Xuân (Legend of the Spring), which will be performed by the HCM City Ballet Symphony Orchestra and Opera (HBSO).
Linh studied composing at Magnitogorsk State Conservatory in Russia from 2000 and graduated in 2008 with a Master of Arts degree.
In 2007, he won the Best Composer prize at the 4th International Festival of Music in Chelyabinsk in Russia for his concerto for violin and chamber orchestra.
Linh’s compositions have been performed by famous Vietnamese and foreign soloists like Bùi Công Duy and Sergei Sivolgin.
He has also composed music for HBSO’s ballets, HCM City Television’s serials and a few movies.
In 2013, he won the Best Composer award at the Golden Kite Film Festival for his score for the movie Đường Đua (The Race).
He now works as a manager of the performing arts department and a stage manager at HBSO, and as a lecturer at the HCM City Conservatory of Music.
The show will continue with the ballet Còn Mãi Bản Hùng Ca, which portrays soldiers and people in Southern Việt Nam in the resistance war against the Americans.
The play was choreographed by People’s Artists Vũ Việt Cường and Kim Quy, and their students Phúc Hùng and Phúc Hải. Its music was composed by Meritorious Artist Trần Vương Thạch
Cường and Quy have made a great contributions to the development of HBSO and the country’s dance sector.
Hùng and Hải have choreographed many contemporary ballets, such as Ru Đêm (Night Lullaby), Chạm Tay Vào Quá Khứ (Touching the Past) and Những Mảnh Ghép Của Giấc Mơ (Dream Puzzles). All have received high praise from critics and audiences.
The 60-minute ballet will feature HBSO’s dancers and orchestra.
The show will begin at 8pm at 7 Lam Sơn Square in District 1. Tickets are available at the venue and at www.ticketbox.vn.
Sixth GEF Assembly to be held in Da Nang
The Sixth Assembly of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) will take place from June 27-28, 2018 at the Furama International Conference Center in Da Nang, Vietnam. This assembly was set up to tackle the planet’s most pressing environmental problems.
Held every four years, the GEF Assembly brings together environment ministers and other senior officials from its 183 member countries, along with heads of UN agencies, regional development backs, civil society organizations and business leaders to share ideas, solutions and actions needed to protect the global environment.
“A clear majority of donors have stepped up their support for the GEF, signaling the urgency of the global environmental agenda, and trust in the GEF to help tackle the problem and achieve even greater results,” said Naoko Ishii, GEF CEO and Chairperson.
Last month, close to 30 countries jointly pledged $4.1 billion to the GEF for its new four-year investment cycle, (known as GEF-7), to better protect the future of the planet and its inhabitants.
With the health of the global environment worsening, the GEF received strong support in its efforts to help safeguard the world’s forests, land, water, climate, and oceans in order to build green cities, protect threatened wildlife, and tackle new environmental threats like marine plastic pollution.
These issues and more will be on the agenda of the GEF Assembly.
The GEF Assembly, with all sessions open to the media unless otherwise indicated, will include statements from current and former heads of state, expert presentations and a series of interactive roundtables on the new themes of GEF-7.
The opening plenary sessions on June 27 will cover the state of the global environment, the ambition needed to help transform the systems that support how we live, how we eat, how we move, how we produce and consume, and how implementation of GEF-7 can contribute to the necessary systems change.
Fourteen interactive high-level round tables will dig deeper into new themes in GEF-7 and other global environment issues. Each round table will feature well-known speakers and interventions from ministers, to discuss the challenge, what needs to be done, and how the GEF and others can address the problem.
The GEF Assembly will be preceded by the 54th GEF Council Meeting on June 24-26 and the 24th Least Developed Countries Fund/Special Climate Change Fund Council Meeting and a Civil Society Forum on June 26. There is an opportunity to visit GEF projects surrounding Da Nang on June 29. The week will also feature numerous side events and exhibitions.
Ten teams vie for trophy at National Futsal Championship
At the opening ceremony of the 2018 National Futsal Championship.
The 2018 National Futsal Championship officially opened at the Tien Son Sports Palace, in the central coastal city of Da Nang on May 14, with a total of ten teams battling it out for the overall trophy.
The participants include the top six finishers at last year’s tournament, including reigning champions Thai Son Nam, defending runners-up Sanatech Khanh Hoa, Hai Phuong Nam Phu Nhuan, Sanna Khanh Hoa, Saigon FC, and Thai Son Bac, and the four qualifiers, namely Cao Bang, Tan Hiep Hung, Hoang Thu Da Nang, and Kim Toan Da Nang.
According to the regulations, the teams will be competing in a double round robin format, both at home and away, to decide the title holders. Those finishing from first to sixth place will receive automatic byes to the second stage of next year’s championship, while the others will have to play in the qualification round.
The overall champions will represent Vietnam at the AFC Futsal Clubs Championship, while the second-place team will represent the country in the AFF Futsal Clubs Championship, if they fully meet the requirements, in terms of finance and other criteria, from the AFC or the AFF.
The first leg of the 2018 National Futsal Championship will take place from May 13 to June 3 at Da Nang’s Tien Son Sports Palace, while the second leg is scheduled for September 7-29 at the Lanh Binh Thang Gymnasium in Ho Chi Minh City.
Vietnam’s northern, central provinces hit by heat wave
The temperatures could reach over 38C in some areas.
The first heat wave of 2018, with highest temperatures recorded at 35-37C, is spreading to provinces and cities in the northern and central regions, the national weather service has stated.
The mercury could reach over 38C in some areas, the National Centre for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting has forecast.
The heat wave is the result of a phenomenon known as foehn caused by a low pressure expanding eastwards and southwest winds.
In the capital Hanoi, the highest temperatures hit 36C on May 15, up 2C from the previous day, and will rise to 37C the next day, remaining until May 20.
The heat wave, which has arrived late compared with previous years, is forecast to let up after May 20 in the northern region and after May 21 in the central region.
Heavy showers and thunderstorms, coupled with whirlwinds and strong gusts, are expected in the late afternoon and evenings after a day of hot weather.
Work begins on flyover at Nguyen Van Linh intersection in Hai Phong
Delegates at the ground-breaking ceremony
The northern port city of Hai Phong kick started the construction of a flyover at the Nguyen Van Linh intersection on May 14.
The flyover features seven lanes measuring 288.2 metres in length and 19 metres in width, and is built at a total investment of VND360 billion (US$16.9 million) sourced from the city’s budget.
The construction of the project is expected to be completed and opened to traffic by 2020.
The facility will be built as an important arterial part of the construction of the Ho Sen - Cau Rao 2 route, which has a total investment of VND1,405 billion (US$61.5 million).
The Ho Sen Cau Rao 2 - Nguyen Van Linh intersection project is designed to complete the city’s traffic system, creating a main road connecting the city centre with Highway No 5, Pham Van Dong Street and the city’s southern area.
It will also help to reduce heavy traffic on the Cau Dat – Lach Tray – Cau Rao route.
Germany provides EUR5 million for Vietnam’s smart grids
Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh has approved a project in which Germany will provide EUR5 million to help Vietnam develop smart grids for renewable energy and energy efficiency.
The project will be implemented over four years from 2018.
The project, known as SGRE-EE, costs nearly EUR5.3 million and will be implemented during the 2018-2022 period.
The remainder of the cost will be accounted for by Vietnam’s Ministry of Industry and Trade.
SGRE-EE is designed to perfect the legal framework for promoting and supporting the development of renewable energy sources and smart grids in Vietnam, thereby helping to achieve the goals of the national power development plan and the green growth strategy.
The project will focus on the application of information technology in managing renewable energy sources and optimising energy use.
Professional staff at state management agencies and power experts will also have their capacities enhanced as part of the project to form a network of experts with knowledge in the area of smart power grids.
At the same time, cooperation and technology transfer in the field between Vietnam and Germany will be increased.
Seas, islands week 2018 to be held in Quang Ninh
The Viet Nam Seas and Islands Week 2018 will be held in the northern province of Quang Ninh in June in response to World Oceans Day (June 8).
In the framework of the launch ceremony on June 2, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment will organize a live performance to keep the ocean clean, followed by a “Clean up the sea” movement and a song contest for the maritime environment.
In addition, there will be art performances and a seminar on youth’s role in the sustainable development and protection of the country’s seas and islands sovereignty, along with the launch of a contest to compose songs for national seas and islands protection.
The event aims to raise public awareness of the importance of seas and islands in national building and protection, encouraging organisations and individuals to take action to protect marine resources and the environment for the country’s growth, and its seas and islands sovereignty.
Tay Ninh, Cambodian Prey Veng province strengthen cooperation
The signing ceremony of cooperation agreement between Vietnam’s Tay Ninh province and Prey Veng province of Cambodia was held at the head office of the Military High Command of the southern Tay Ninh province on May 14.
Under the agreement, the two sides will strengthen diplomatic relations in fields of trade and investment, agriculture, forestry, fishery, culture and society, environment, border security management, planting of border pillars; and cooperate to implement targets and projects to develop the economy, society, security and public order, as well as protect the border area between the two provinces.
On this occasion, Vice Governor of Prey Veng province Chhan Tha conferred Friendship Medals of the Kingdom of Cambodia on Secretary of Party Committee of Tay Ninh province Tran Luu Quang, Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Pham Van Tan and former Chairwoman of the provincial People’s Committee Nguyen Thi Thu Thuy for their outstanding contribution to the promotion of friendship and solidarity between the two countries and two provinces.
HCM City dweller grateful for chivalrous deed of “street knights”: Party Chief
Politburo member, Secretary of Ho Chi Minh City Party Committee Nguyen Thien Nhan yesterday paid a visit to “street guardians” who were injured while trying to stop a gang of robbers in the night of May 13 in district 3.
Street knights Nguyen Duc Huy and Dinh Phu Quy both born in 1996 are being treated in the Heart Department in Thong Nhat Hospital. Nguyen Duc Huy was stabbed in the lung and Dinh Phu Quy’s right hand was slashed.
Medical workers tried their best to save the two men. Their health condition is stable.
Visiting the two young men at their beds in the hospital, Party Chief Nhan said city inhabitants were grateful for their chivalrous deed of the street guardians, wishing they will be soon better.
He asked medical workers to take best care of the street guardians and promissed the city leaders would call for financial assistance for their best treatment. Mr. Nhan stressed all HCMC dwellers are indignant at cruel acts of robbers.
He added that the police have detained a suspect in the robbery, promising that these robbers would incur a punishment appropriate to their cruelties as per the law.
Street knight Nguyen Duc Huy expected that city residents would join in the fight against crimes to keep the city safe and peaceful.
"Street knights" are the name city inhabitants call the volunteers who often prevent or catch robbers in the street. They are bike drivers, bike mechanics, students, greengrocers, construction workers, carpenters…
Foot-mouth disease in cattle spreading in nine central districts
Since the beginning of the year, 22 communes in districts in the central provinces of Quang Ngai reported foot-mouth disease amongst cattle.
The disease affected 415 local cattle including 150 buffaloes, 244 oxen and 21 pigs.
People’s Committee in Quang Ngai directed relevant agencies and local administrations to enhance measures against the disease amongst cattle. Though the disease was under control, it is likely to spread to other communes in the current seasonal transaction.
To curb fresh outbreaks of the disease, Quang Ngai People’s Committee sent its document to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development asking for supplying chemicals to prevent the disease.
Traffic safety committee gives helmets to all first graders
The National Traffic Safety Committee, the Ministry of Education and Training and Honda Vietnam will give helmets to all first graders, aiming to help all first graders to protect their life.
The Committee will preside the kick-off helmet giving meeting to publicize the helmet program for first graders in the academic year 2018-2019.
The program will start after June 15 with the theme “ Giu tron uoc mo” (Acquitting oneself of a promise) contributing to increasing public awareness of child helmet legislation when on motorbikes and electric bikes.
Historical plays celebrate 100th anniversary of Cai Luong Stage
More than 60 cai luong actors and actresses of the Vietnam Cai Luong Theater in Hanoi and Tran Huu Trang Cai Luong Theater of Ho Chi Minh City will join in a play titled Thay Ba Doi (Musician Ba Doi) celebrating the 100th anniversary of Cai Luong Stage.
The 150-minute play will take place at Hanoi Opera House on May 27-28 with the participation of artists, such as People’s Artists Vuong Ha, Hoang Dat, Meritorious Artists Xuan Vinh, Que Tran, Le Tu, Huu Quoc, Quynh Huong and others.
The play honors musician Nguyen Quang Dai who made outstanding contribution to the development of southern amateur traditional music.
Musician Nguyen Quang Dai was a mandarin under Nguyen dynasty. He moved from his birthplace, Hue ancient city, to Sai Gon (HCM City now) to promote Hue royal music and teach tai tu amateur traditional music.
In addition, Cai Luong devotees had a chance to enjoy one of the most popular historical cai luong plays, Thai hau Duong Van Nga (Empress Dowager Duong Van Nga) at Ben Thanh Theater in Ho Chi Minh City on May 6 and 13.
The play was a cooperation of veteran artists, director Hoa Ha and Kim Ngan with the participation of famous cai luong artists, such as Phuong Loan, Le Tu, Quynh Huong, Chi Linh, Kim Ngan, Hong To, Dai Nghia, singer Phuong Thanh, musician Thai An and others. The performance also aims to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Cai Luong Stage.
Chaotic urban plan
Compensation and relocation have long been a painful process in the course of development, but rarely has there been any project that has stoked agony, protests and social chaos like the scheme surrounding Thu Thiem New Urban Area in HCMC’s District 2. Such distress erupted into multiple layers of indignation at a meeting on May 9 between the city’s National Assembly deputies and affected residents. The meeting, as covered in local media, was awash with numerous accusations of wrongdoing by local authorities that have stripped local residents of their properties and their livelihoods. And that ordeal has been two decades long.
In fact, the saga started shortly after the Prime Minister issued Decision 367/TTg in 1996 to develop Thu Thiem Peninsula into a new urban area. Under the decision alongside a map of scale 1/5000 for the area, the new town would cover 930 hectares, inclusive of a resettlement area of 160 hectares for residents affected by the project.
Then came zoning plans and detailed maps of scale 1/2000, and site clearance and relocation accordingly. Under such zoning plans penned by the city government, the new town was zoned bigger, and thus the resettlement area of 160 hectares was annexed into the future town, while the affected people would be relocated farther afield in different clusters, not in a concentrated zone next to the new town as originally planned, according to the news site at cand.com.vn. Such a change was deliberately conducted by the city, and contradicted the original plan approved by the Prime Minister, says the news site.
In late 2005, according to the online newspaper Vietnamnet.vn, the city government issued its own Decision No. 6565/QD-UBND adjusting the zoning plan for Thu Thiem of scale 1/5000. The municipal government clarifies that its new decision replaces Decision 367/TTg of the Prime Minister, an act experts say overstepped the bounds of the city’s authority. Another controversial point is that the new decision does not mention the resettlement zone in its scope, says Vietnamnet.vn.
Throngs of Thu Thiem residents have ever since strongly protested against plans commanded by the city government, insisting that their properties – land and houses – were not affected by the original master plan.
In many encounters, residents demanded that the city’s authorities show the original map as the basis for site clearance, but such a plea has never been met. Even during a meeting between the people and HCMC chairman Nguyen Thanh Phong last June, according to Nguoi Lao Dong, the residents continued to challenge the municipal government, stressing their land had been illegally seized. The city leader at the time explained there remained differences in comprehending the map and supporting documents between relevant agencies on one side and the residents on the other.
The protests have never died out over the years, but the latest move by local government to proceed with development is seen as the final straw that breaks the camel’s back.
At a news briefing on May 2, the city announced plans to invite bidders for plots of land covering 7.8 hectares in Thu Thiem. And at the event, the drama reached a new twist when HCMC People’s Committee office manager Vo Van Hoan told reporters that the original map of scale 1/5000 was missing, and relevant agencies had failed to find it over the years, according to local media.
Municipal authorities also said they had asked central agencies for help to look for copies of the map, but to no avail. Nguyen Hong Diep, a senior official at the Government Inspectorate, even said that such a map has never existed, according to Dan Tri.
However, a resident in District 2 shortly after that showed the map with all the seals, casting doubt on the authorities’ claim that the map is nowhere to be found. And, to add to the city government’s confusion, former chairman of the city government Vo Viet Thanh asserted he was holding a set of 13 original maps.
In an interview with Tuoi Tre, the former city chairman says a lot of changes – for the worse – have been made to the original plan, separating native residents from their land, while the Prime Minister’s decision was to help them settle down right next to the new town. “In legal terms, any changes to the original plan must be approved by the Prime Minister… In terms of morality, any zoning plan must benefit the native people; they cannot be rendered destitute due to any zoning plans,” he stresses.
Thanh, who on behalf of the city government presented the original plan to the Prime Minister, says he suggested that pagoda, temple, church and seminary be retained, but to date, almost all have been leveled to the ground, according to Tuoi Tre.
Back to the meeting this Wednesday, many residents took turns to assert their properties were not affected by the original plan, showing the maps to back their claims. However, they were still coercively relocated, their houses being demolished.
Le Thi Ngoc Nga of Binh Khanh Ward told the meeting her house was torn down and her family was forced out though authorities did not issue any decision redeeming the land, according to Thanh Nien. Nga has for over 10 years now sent numerous complaints and letters of accusations to various agencies, but no answer was given.
Even those residents whose properties are inside the zoning plans also made strong protests at the meeting over the compensation rate. A woman named Nguyen Ngoc Thanh said she had paid nearly 50 taels of gold, or some VND1.8 billion at the current price, to acquire a house on Luong Dinh Cua Street, but she was given only VND94 million in clearance compensation, Tuoi Tre reports. Another claimed she got VND18 million a square meter of her house in an area where the luxury Sala housing complex has taken shape, but land there is now sold at a whopping VND350 million (over US$15,000) per square meter.
The key aim of rezoning Thu Thiem and forcing the people out, said a resident identified as Tran Thi My at the meeting, is to have land for sale to investors to develop luxury housing projects whose prices are hundreds of times higher than compensation rates, according to Tuoi Tre. Another said it is money that has distorted the original plan for Thu Thiem.
At the aforesaid meeting, Thu Thiem’s residents said that given the injustice they have incurred, they no longer have confidence in local authorities. All the issues related to Thu Thiem “must be handed over to central authorities and the National Assembly for oversight, not just NA deputies of HCMC, because of serious wrongdoing here,” a resident of Binh Khanh Ward is quoted in Thanh Nien as saying at the meeting.
Revival of dead lands
An exhibition on explosive and toxic remnants of war as well as efforts made by the authorities and non-governmental organizations in clearance to make Vietnam a safe and peaceful country is running at the War Remnants Museum in HCMC.
Themed “Revival of dead lands”, the exhibition features 190 items, documents and images related to the U.S. army’s use of bombs and toxic chemicals during the Vietnam War and how the contaminated areas have been treated.
Although the war ended more than 40 years ago, its consequences are still putting adverse impacts on Vietnamese people and environment.
During the Vietnam War, three million people were killed, two million others were injured and nearly five million people were exposed to toxic chemicals.
Most cities and provinces across the country, especially in the central region, are littered with roughly 800,000 tons of bombs, mines and unexploded ordnances left by wars.
Between 1961 and 1971, the U.S. army sprayed nearly 80 million liters of toxic chemicals, 61% of which was dioxin, onto central and southern Vietnam, destroying more than three million hectares of forest.
The exhibition, opened to visitors until August 20, seeks to apprise the public of the consequences of wars and call on the people to join hands to restore the environment, bring life back the dead lands and support war victims.
Tours to Jeju get cheaper
Jeju tour operators in South Korea will financially support Vietnamese travel firms in a bid to bring more visitors from Vietnam to Jeju Island.
Companies chartering flights to carry tourists to Jeju will get a maximum of US$6,500 per flight. They will benefit from more preferential programs if arranging incentive tours.
According to a source from the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) in Vietnam, tourism firms in Vietnam can ask for aid seven days prior to departure date or 14 days after charter flights are conducted. In case firms operate more than five scheduled tours a month, they will be financed US$3,800 per flight, and US$6,500 per flight if there are less than four unscheduled tours a month.
The amount of money will be adjusted depending on the number of passengers on a flight. For instance, it will be raised if 90% of seats are occupied, but reduced if lower than 50%.
The Jeju Tourism Organization, the MICE Jeju Alliance, KTO Vietnam and Vietnamese tour operators Vietravel, Saigontourist, Ben Thanh Tourist, Transviet Travel, and TST Tourist on May 10 signed a memorandum of understanding on promoting and developing Jeju tourism in Vietnam in 2018 and 2019 to attract more travelers to Jeju.
Apart from incentives, the five local travel firms will get more preferential policies such as fees for promoting Jeju tour products, organizing FAM tours to carry out surveys, or partly sponsoring entrance fees for incentive groups to tourist attractions. More visitors, especially Vietnamese, will come to Jeju due to reasonable prices and many attractive policies, said KTO Vietnam.
Korea lured over 118,000 Vietnamese visitors in the first four months of this year, up 33.5% year-on-year, according to KTO Vietnam. With this robust growth, Vietnam continues to be among the top source markets for Korea’s tourism.
Disneylands, golf courses, museums help promote tourism: expert
Vietnam ranks 113rd out of 136 surveyed countries in terms of tourism infrastructure.
The Dragon Bridge in Da Nang City
Luong Hoai Nam, an aviation and tourism expert, said the country urgently needs to enrich tourism products.
He can see potential in the development of theme parks like Disneyland and Universal Studios in Hanoi and HCMC which serve domestic and foreign travelers.
The state needs program the land use, set up preferential investment policies, and choose experienced and financially capable investors, he said.
Nam estimates that a successful theme park can help retain foreign travelers for 0.5-1 day and increase travelers’ spending in localities by 10 percent. In addition, hotels would also gain higher revenue thanks to travelers’ longer stays.
Some large entertainment complexes such as Ba Na Hills, Asia Park of Sungroup, Vinpearl Land and Safari in Phu Quoc of Vingroup are called ‘Vietnam’s Disneyland’s ’.
However, experts say Vietnamese need more amusement complexes of international stature.
Tran Ngoc Quang, secretary general of the Vietnam Real Estate Association, commented that most resorts in Vietnam serve the demand for accommodations and business but a real resort complex needs to satisfy shopping and entertainment as well.
The Khang Thong Group once announced investment of $2 billion in the Happy Land project in Long An province. However, for many reasons, the investor had to scale down the project.
Like Disneyland, Nam believes that museums will also help persuade travelers to stay for 0.5 day more. There are numerous museums in Vietnam, but the quality is inconsistent.
Nam believes it would be better for private investors to develop ‘war tourism’. Vietnam has former war zones and battle sites that attract travelers interested in history and sightseeing.
He said Vietnam also needs to make heavy investment in golf tourism, because this targets the wealthy.
Vietnam’s golf courses can operate year round and attract golfers from Northeast Asia, Europe, the US and Australia, where golf courses do not operate in winter.
According to the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT), Vietnam welcomed more than 13 million foreign visitors and served 73.2 million domestic tourists to earn US$23 billion in 2017. The country hopes it can receive 15 million foreign travelers in 2018.
In 2017, the Politburo issued Resolution No8 on developing tourism into a spearhead economic industry.
In the latest news, Vietnam has decided to renew visa exemptions for a three-year period for the citizens of five Western European countries, including the UK, France, Germany, Spain and Italy.
Kim Chi, VNN
Experts warn of challenges to Vietnam economy despite good prospects
Vietnam’s economy had a good start in 2018 with a 7.38 percent GDP growth in first quarter, but experts warn of challenges and risks ahead in the remaining of the year as well as following years.
Participants at the workshop
At a recent workshop on prospects for the Vietnamese economy in 2018 and to 2020, Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyen Chi Dung said the country will benefit from the recovery of the world economy this year and there are many reasons to be optimistic about domestic economic growth from now to 2020.
The advisory group to the Prime Minister on economic affairs said economic development in the recent past was driven by reform efforts with drastic measures, which improved the business and investment environment, along with flexible and coordinated macro-economic policies and the effect of new policies such as developing the private sector.
The group devised three scenarios for Vietnam’s economic growth in 2018-2020, which envision annual average GDP growth rate at 6.7 percent, 6.83 percent and 7.47 percent, respectively. The group also proposed the target of an average annual growth of 6.85 percent for the next three years (2018 to 2020).
The forecast demonstrates economists’ optimistic viewpoint of the country’s economic prospects.
However, in-depth analysis of Quarter 1 economic performance also revealed potential problems, participants at the workshop said.
It is noteworthy that the high economic growth in Q1 was driven by the manufacturing sector, especially big foreign-invested enterprises such as electronics manufacturer Samsung Vietnam and steel maker Formosa Ha Tinh. The question is whether those enterprises will be able to maintain the high growth rate in following quarters in the context of unforeseeable factors in the world economy such as the trade protection policy of the US and the risk of a US-China trade war.
Economist Le Xuan Nghia said the manufacture sector is currently dominated by foreign-invested enterprises, and the domestic enterprises are saddled with high interest rates, logistic costs and informal expenses.
In particular, the enforcement of laws and policies is not strict enough, many documents guiding the execution of laws and decrees are inconsistent, incomplete and lack transparency, and administrative procedures, especially those related to land and investment in capital construction, reveal many shortcomings.
PHan Duc Hieu, Deputy Director of the Central Institute for Economic Management, was of the opinion that despite certain results, the pace of institutional reform is still slow and fails to meet expectations of the business community.
The restructuring of the economy also fell short of expectations, Hieu said.
He added that it is necessary to change the way of thinking not only among policy makers but also those who implement the policies.
“Changing the way of thinking throughout the administrative apparatus is an important content of institutional reform,” Hieu said.
Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyen Chi Dung shared the view on the need to accelerate institutional reform.
“This is the fundamental driving force of economic growth, which is both an urgent need in the context of rapid changes and a requirement for development,” he said.
Speaking on the Government’s reform priorities, the minister also highlighted the need to increase labour productivity, stressing that this is the most important factor in improving growth quality and renewing the growth model.
According to the Minister, the most effective way to enhance labour productivity is to capture opportunities brought about by the 4th Industrial Revolution.
“This is one-in-a-thousand-year opportunity,” Dung said.
He also mentioned other factors that can contribute to economic growth, such as infrastructure and human resources.
“There is plenty of room for improvement, and the question is how to improve in the most rapid and effective manner,” the minister said.
He agreed that in spite of the optimism, challenges and difficulties should not be overlooked.
Vietnam and LGBT rights: Making strides
Vietnam has seen a radical change in lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender (LGBT) rights over the last decade as the State has made significant steps to protect rights and equality.
A photo on display at an exhibition as part of "Steps for LGBT" event held by iSEE in Hanoi on May 6. The photo shows people wearing wristbands of rainbow, a symbol of LGBT community.
Just more than a decade ago, homosexuality wasn’t accepted widely. There was stigma and discrimination against LGBT people because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Things have changed.
Lawmakers slam anti-LGBT discrimination
Public attention turned to homosexuality and the LGBT community in 2012 when Minister of Justice Ha Hung Cuong became the first senior Vietnamese government official to publicly call for the end of prejudice against homosexual people and mentioned the once-taboo subject of same-sex marriage.
“Personally, I think that the recognition or non-recognition of same-sex marriage should be based on very basic studies, credible assessment of impacts on many social and legal aspects, such as personal freedom, compatibility with cultural practices of Vietnamese families and society, and sensitivity and social consequences of the regulations,” stated Cuong in an online public dialogue in July that year.
He further emphasised the need to protect the rights of gay couples. “The country should adopt a legal mechanism to protect their rights in terms of legal personality, property or children of cohabiting couples.”
For many LGBT people, the minister’s words were a bold step forwards, paving the way for their search for marriage equality, given that the previous Law on Marriage and Family specifically outlawed gay marriage.
The LGBT community did not have to wait long for the next supporter to step up.
“In the angle of human rights, gay people also have the right to live, eat, wear, love, and pursue happiness,” Vice Minister of Health Nguyen Viet Tien said publicly a few months later.
“In terms of citizenship, they have the right to work, study, receive medical check-ups and treatment, and register birth, death and marriage… in line with rights and obligations with the State and society.”
The ban made many homosexuals afraid to come out due to fear of discrimination from families, friends and colleagues and being abandoned, he stressed, calling for the legal recognition of same-sex marriage as it is a human right.
New rules spark hope and motivation
Also in 2012, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) activated a review of the Marriage and Family Law which, for the first time in Vietnamese history, brought up legal consideration of same-sex marriage.
The ministry asked all government agencies for opinions about revising the law again in an official letter sent in May, 2012, concerned that the community of gays and lesbians was expanding in the country but many lived together without registering a marriage.
“From the perspective of individual rights, marriage between people of the same sex should be recognised,” the letter said.
“The cohabitation of same-sex couples is a real social phenomenon, which results in binding relations and issues concerning property ownership and child custody.”
“The current law may not legalise their marriage but there must be a legal framework to address these issues.”
The MoJ launched a number of policy dialogues with LGBT groups during the formation of the bill.
It also engaged several organisations, including the Institute for Studies and Society, Economy and Environment (iSEE) and the Women’s Union, in civil society consultation to get insight and relevant expertise in the LGBT community and related issues, and to assess impacts of the bill on the society.
“We worked with the Ministry of Justice in many consultation workshops on this bill… We really appreciated the effort of the government in protecting the rights of LGBT people... and to show its acceptance of alternative lifestyle,” Le Phan Anh Thu, iSEE’s Acting Coordinator of LGBT Rights Programme told Vietnam News Agency.
The draft bill was submitted to the Vietnamese National Assembly for debate in 2013, making Vietnam the first country in Asia where the topic was discussed at parliamentary level.
June 19, 2014 was a special day for LGBT people.
After two years of discussion, the NA passed the revised law, with no clause prohibiting marriage between people of the same sex. The new law allowed same-sex couples to co-habit and have wedding ceremonies, but they are not considered a legal family.
Though the act does not recognise gay marriage, an activist called it “quite amazing change in such a short span of time,” given that the LGBT social movement was said to have only started a decade ago.
Many LGBT activists flock to the streets in Hanoi to applaud the new legislation. They raise flags and boards, some of which read “Cam on Quoc hoi” (Thank you, National Assembly). (Photo courtesy of iSEE)
Despite some disappointments about the outcome, many others felt optimistic. “It may be not completely there yet… but it is good to know it’s moving forward,” said H.H.T, an LGBT activist.
“The new law has positive effects on advocacy to change public awareness as it sends a message that same-sex marriage is not a bad thing.”
“Some were upset, but in return, many others have become more deeply engaged into the community’s activities because they understand if they do not advocate for their own rights, then nobody can,” he added.
“This might be a baby step towards equal marriage, but was an important one that brought us hope and motivation,” Anh Thu added.
“Practically, same-sex couples still are not protected by law but on the other hand, lifting the ban on same-sex marriage reflected a huge change in the mindset of policy makers.”
“LGBT people now can be more confident to not only present their visibility but also to talk about their rights to access services, such as education, legal and medical services”.
Vietnam well ahead in Asia
Vietnam grabbed big attention again in November 2015 when lawmakers took a major step by voting to pass the amended Civil Code that legalises sex reassignment surgery.
Previously, sex reassignment in Vietnam was limited to only those without complete sex organs and those with both male and female sex organs. Now anyone can have sex change surgery and can legally register under a new name and new gender.
The LGBT community is excited for more big changes in the next few years as the new Law on Gender Change is being crafted by the Ministry of Health (MoH) to protect the rights of transgender people.
The law is set to be submitted to parliament for review in 2019 at the latest.
“The bill stipulates how to identify a person whose gender identity is different from his/her assigned sex at birth through psychological evaluations... After that, doctors are allowed to perform medical interventions, such as hormone therapy or breast and genital surgeries,” said Nguyen Huy Quang, director of the MoH’s department of legal affairs.
“If passed, the bill will provide a basic and humane legal framework... for transgender people to live true to themselves and set their bodies free,” he said.
“It’s a work in progress and I am pleased to see the efforts that are going in to considering the different aspects of the bill on protecting the rights of transgender people in healthcare,” Ambassador of Canada to Vietnam Ping Kitnikone told Vietnam News Agency.
Ambassador of Canada to Vietnam Ping Kitnikone makes an opening speech in Hanoi Pride 2017. (Photo courtersy of the Embassy of Canada)
“The support of the MoH as well as iSEE clearly shows that the LGBT issue is becoming more and more salient in Vietnam, and that more and more officials and individuals are beginning to see the importance of empowering this community.”
According to H.H.T, his activist peers in the region are impressed with what Vietnam has achieved so far, referring to those from the Asian countries where gay marriage remains outlawed.
“This makes Vietnam one of the leaders in the region”, H.H.T said.
“During our interactions with fellow activists, Vietnam is always being referred to as a beacon of hope with regards LGBT rights in ASEAN,” said Ryan V. Silverio, Regional Coordinator of ASEAN Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity/Expression Caucus (ASC), a regional organisation of LGBT human rights activists in Southeast Asia.
“The revision of the civil code and the Vietnamese government's openness to LGBT organisations in crafting a new law on gender recognition was positively welcomed by activists.”
If Vietnam adopts the bill, the country will become the sixth in Asia and the second in Southeast Asia to have specific legislation on gender reassignment.
Anh Thu was convinced that it (the adoption of bill) reflects the government’s consistent view – LGBT rights are basic human rights.
“So protecting them is the right thing to do.”
Economists oppose golf course proposals, say investors are engaging in land speculation
Local authorities have proposed adding tens of golf course projects to the program on golf course development, a move many economists oppose.
Local authorities want to develop more golf courses
Le Cao Doan from the Vietnam Economics Institute said that this is a ‘strange move’ which is contrary to economic laws. Investors still want to build golf courses though golf courses don’t bring high profits as it is very difficult to attract players.
The Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI) confirmed that half of 98 projected golf courses have not become operational or have been unprofitable.
This is explained by the fact that golf courses require huge initial investment capital, while it takes investors a long time to recover investment capital.
Doan said that scandals related to golf course development in Phu Yen, Vinh Phuc and Ninh Thuan, in which investors used the land allocated to develop golf courses for other purposes.
“The scandals have posed questions about golf course programming quality,” Doan said.
In some localities, investors were allocated hundreds of hectares of protective forestland or agricultural land to develop golf courses, resorts and villas at dirt-cheap prices.
Doan doubts that the large land plots investors expect to be allocated are what they target when registering to develop golf courses.
They must not expect to earn money from golf club members, who are believed to account for 0.01 percent of the population .
Meanwhile, they can make big money from the land plots where golf courses are located, because the courses increase the value of properties nearby.
Doan warned of a “golf course boom” which would harm the national economy.
“We have to learn a lesson from the ‘seaport and airport boom’. Many of these projects have been left idle and are unprofitable. This must not occur with golf courses,” he said.
Bui Ngoc Son from the World Economics and Politics Research Institute agrees with Doan, saying that investors are targeting large land plots which can bring real estate development opportunities, not golf courses.
“I think registering golf course projects is an intentional move which for private purposes and don’t serve local economic development,” Son said.
“This is just land speculation,” he said, adding that Quang Binh province alone wants to develop up to 10 golf courses, which is described as an ‘unacceptable and arbitrary’.
“One province wants to develop 10 golf courses. How many golf courses will Vietnam have in 63 provinces and cities then?” he said.
Cycling up the mountains with a purpose
Hanoi -The fifth session of the National Assembly (14th tenure) opened in Hanoi at 9 am on May 21.
An overview of the 4th session of the 14th Natinal Assembly (Photo: VNA)
The opening is being broadcast live by the Vietnam Television and Radio The Voice of Vietnam.
Prior to the opening ceremony, Party, State and NA leaders and deputies laid wreaths and paid respect to President Ho Chi Minh at his mausoleum.
The NA will spend 60 percent of the session’s time to law making work. The legislature plans to consider and approve eight draft laws and one resolution.
The draft laws to be passed are the Law on Denunciation (revised), Law on Special Administrative and Economic Units, Law on Measurement and Maps, Law on Competition (revised), Law on Cyber Security, Law on National Defence (revised), Law on amendments and supplements to several articles of the Law on Physical Activity and Sports, and Law on amendments and supplements to several articles of the Law on Planning.
The NA is expected to adopt the resolution on the NA’s supervision programme and the establishment of a specialised supervision group in 2019.
Eight other bills will also be tabled for discussion at this sitting, which are the Law on Corruption Prevention (revised), Law on the People’s Public Security Force, Law on Husbandry, Law on Cultivation, Law on amendments and supplements to several articles of the Law on Amnesty, Law on Marine Police, Law on amendments and supplements to several articles of the Law on Education, and Law on amendments and supplements to several articles of the Law on Higher Education.
Besides law making, the NA will also devote time to supreme supervision of the implementation of policies and laws on management and use of State capital and asset at enterprises and equitisation of State-owned enterprises during 2011-2016.
The NA will consider and make decisions on several important issues, including a report assessing the implementation of socio-economic development and State budget plans in 2017 and the first months of 2018, the ratification of 2016 State budget balance, and personnel work.
During the fifth session, the legislative body will for the first time introduce a new regulation for question-&-answer activity. Accordingly, each NA deputy can have one minute to put question, and after three questions, the Cabinet member has three minutes to make the answer. The change is designed to increase dialogue and face-to-face debate.
The fifth NA session is slated to conclude on June 15.
Lazada and DeAura the biggest pains for customers in 2017
In 2017, the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Vietnam Competition Authority received a large number of complaint letters related to the quality of goods and services of Lazada, while DeAura has made its name by swindling thousands of customers into debt.
According to the Vietnam Competition Authority (VCA)’s annual report released on its website, the authority processed about 1,000 requirements and feedbacks from customers in 2017 received via its hotline, email, its website, and post. Some of the businesses hit by the most complaints are Recess Co., Ltd. (lazada.vn), Cat Hung Thinh Trading Co., Ltd., and DeAura Vietnam Co., Ltd.
Accordingly, VCA has received a large number of complaint letters on the quality of products and services at lazada.vn, as well as delays in delivery, goods being different from the advertisements, delivering used/old items or the wrong articles, repudiating liability, cancelling orders, fake promotions and wrong prices, selling goods not in inventory, and abandoning customers. By the number of complaints, lazada.vn has made customers very angry this year.
VCA has been working with Recess and asked the company to resolve complaints and explain its business process. The firm has resolved the complaints satisfactorily since then. However, VCA will also inspect and supervise lazada.vn in the time coming.
A week ago, a lazada.vn customer claimed that it delivered a laptop with a damaged battery and keyboard, and then delayed a refund or exchange for over a month, although the website promises to “Return or exchange items easily within 14 days, even if you simply do not like the product.”
Only after vir.com.vn reported this incident was this customer allowed to return the damaged laptop and got his money back.
In addition to Recess, numerous customers complained about purchasing jewellery worth more than VND1 million ($44) after watching an advertisement of Cat Hung Thinh on television. The item was very bad, stained, and crude.
After feedbacks from customers, the company has taken back the jewellery for warranty, but the new goods were even worse than the ones before. Customers contacted Cat Hung Thinh but the calls were not received.
Numerous customers also complained about free promotional skin care services at DeAura spas in Hanoi, where they were solicited into buying a set of cosmetics worth VND43 million ($1,900) payable in instalments via Vietnam Prosperity Joint Stock Commercial Bank (VP Bank) or FE Credit. They have faced many troubles with the quality of these cosmetics and the unclear credit terms.
Vietnamese willing to pay to enjoy World Cup in Russia
Vietnamese tourists are willing to pay as much as US$2,300 for a match at 2018 FIFA World Cup, excluding travel expenses to Russia
Volunteers react near the stadium Mordovia Arena, which will host matches of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Saransk. Photo: REUTERS
Many Vietnamese football aficionados are ready to travel to Russia this summer to explore the country’s attractions and watch the 2018 FIFA World Cup, local travel agencies said.
Startups in VN need easier capital attraction
Luxstay recently announced it raised an additional $2.5 million through its Pre-Series A Round funding from investors including Genesis Ventures, Founders Capital, Y1 Ventures, and two others. Japan’s Genesis Ventures and the Singapore-based ESP Capital previously provided funding to the startup, founded by Vietnamese entrepreneur Steven Nguyen and incorporated in Singapore, mid-last year.
ELSA, a mobile app founded and managed by Vietnamese Vu Van and that uses artificial intelligence (AI) and speech recognition technology to help language learners improve their English pronunciation, also announced Pre-Series A Round funding of $3.2 million, led by Monk’s Hill Ventures.
“We are pleased to support ELSA’s team of experts in the fields of AI and speech recognition as they scale their technology to new languages and markets,” said Monk’s Hill Ventures’ Managing Partner Peng T. Ong.
“ELSA has achieved exceptional organic growth over the past two years and we’re excited to help grow their business and partnership efforts in 2018 and beyond.”
Luxstay and ELSA are among the notable cases of startups attracting handsome funding and were highlights of investment flows into startups in 2017 and the opening months of 2018.
Vietnam witnessed another year of robust startup funding activities in 2017, marked by major rounds and also the entry of new regional venture capital (VC) players.
According to a report from Vietnam-based accelerator Topica Founder Institute (TFI). The total number of deals shot up to 92, nearly double the 50 in 2016.
Thanks to foreign investments, the total collective startup deal value soared to $291 million last year, representing 44 per cent growth against the $205 million in 2016.
The NYSE-listed Sea Group (formerly Garena) was a particularly voracious foreign investor, acquiring an 82 per cent stake in restaurant review platform Foody in a deal worth $82 million (the largest for the year), while two fintech and logistics startups closed deals reportedly worth up to $50 million.
Other notable investments were the $54 million Series C investment in e-commerce platform Tiki, jointly made by Chinese internet giant JD.com and South Korea’s STIC Investments, Hendale Capital’s $10 million investment in Vntrip, and TNB Ventures $20 million Series A investment, among others.
The greatest potential for Vietnamese startups is believed to lie in developing technology solutions that resolve problems in emerging markets.
According to Mr. Eddie Thai, General Partner at 500 Startups Vietnam, which had invested in 18 tech startups as at the end of 2017 and had closed 21 deals as at the end of March, Vietnam is one of the rare places in the world where there is a lot of engineering talent. IBM has projected that Vietnam could be in the Top 3 in the world by number of engineers in five years.
“Many of these engineers are uniquely familiar with the challenges that poor people or rural people face, compared with engineers from wealthy places like San Francisco or New York or London,” Mr. Thai said.
“This should mean that Vietnamese engineers are better able to resolve such challenges.”
According to the Topica Founder Institute report, 500 Startups Vietnam was the most active VC fund in Vietnam in 2017.
“We want to be even more active in 2018, perhaps with more than 20 investments this year,” Mr. Thai added.
Some Vietnamese startups have successfully called for tens of millions of dollars but none have called for hundreds of millions of dollars.
“Vietnamese startups have no history of winning in Southeast Asia,” Founder and CEO of Beeketing, Mr. Quan Truong, acknowledged.
“This is why they find it hard to attract foreign funds compared with startups from elsewhere in the region.”
In principle, capital flows from big to small markets; from the US to Japan, China, India and then to Southeast Asia, for example. Indonesia is the largest market in Southeast Asia, with a GDP 4.5 times higher than Vietnam’s, followed by Thailand.
Regional countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand also have better capital mobilization policies than Vietnam does.
High risks and complex procedures and sub-licenses, which take a long time to disburse for one deal, all make investors hesitate to inject money into Vietnamese startups.
“In Singapore, it takes about one week to fulfill procedures and complete disbursement,” said Mr. Nguyen Hoang Hai, Founder and CEO of Canavi.
“The time needed in Thailand is a month but in Vietnam is at least four to six months.” If this situation continues, he added, more and more Vietnamese startups will move and found in other countries.
Founders are getting better and foreign VC investors are becoming more aware of Vietnam, but there’s still a lot of work to be done and many more people that could become involved.
According to Mr. Thai, before this year, 500 Startups Vietnam spent a lot of time spreading the word internationally about tech in Vietnam. It will now shift its attention to spreading the word in Vietnam.
Many Vietnamese citizens, government officials, and businesspeople are aware of Industry 4.0 but not everyone knows what it means for them or how to take advantage of it.
“So, we want to talk with Vietnamese small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and corporations about how they can adopt or develop new technology,” Mr. Thai said.
“We want to advise policymakers on how to improve the regulatory environment for innovation. We want to help students gain practical experience in technological innovation and entrepreneurship. And we want to work with wealthy Vietnamese who want to earn money investing in the future of Vietnam as a startup nation.”
VN Economic Times
Dozens of taxes, fees burden VN car users
Vietnam is among the countries with the highest selling price of cars in the world.
Vietnam is among the countries with the highest selling price of cars
There are also many kinds of official taxes and fees on cars. These include the car part import tax for domestically assembled cars (assemblers pay this tax and take it into consideration when setting selling prices), import tax (paid by importers) of 50-150 percent, luxury tax at 40-60 percent, VAT of 10 percent and corporate income tax of 22 percent.
Currently, the imports from ASEAN, including Thailand and Indonesia, don’t bear import tax any more as per Vietnam commitments in FTAs. Meanwhile, the imports from non-ASEAN sources, including Europe, the US, India and Japan, still bear the tax.
To put cars into circulation, car owners will have to pay about 10 kinds of fees. These include the ownership registration fee (10-15 percent), number plate granting fee, vehicle registration fee (VND240,000-560,000), technical safety assurance certification fee (VND50,000-100,000), emission testing fee, fuel consumption testing fee, energy labeling certification fee and others.
As for road maintenance fees, car owners have to pay twice, when they register as owners of the vehicles and when going through BOT fee collection stations.
The car prices in Vietnam are among the highest in the world because of too many kinds of taxes and fees. It is estimated that the taxes and fees make up over 50 percent of the total prices.
Though the tariff on imports from ASEAN has been cut to zero percent, the selling prices still have not decreased as expected by consumers.
Car owners have been warned that they may bear another kind of tax – asset tax. The Ministry of Finance has proposed a tax of 0.3 percent or 0.4 percent on cars valued at VND1.5 billion or more.
An analyst said if the tax takes effect, it will mostly affect luxury car imports, most of which have value of over VND1.5 billion.
Decree 116, with its strict regulations, restricts car imports. And the number of car imports will decrease further if the tax is applied.
Luxury imports are mostly from Japan, the US and Germany, which are taxed 40-150 percent, depending on cylinder capacity.
Nguyen Xuan Thuy from the Ministry of Industry and Trade confirmed that some car models are 60-80 percent more expensive than in Indonesia and Thailand.
In 2017, a total of 272,750 cars were sold, according to the Vietnam Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (VAMA).
Vietnam sends seven more officers to UN peacekeeping mission
Seven officers from the Vietnam Peacekeeping Centre will be dispatched to the United Nations (UN) peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic and South Sudan in 2018.
Deputy Defence Minister Senior Lieutenant General Nguyen Chi Vinh (second from right) presented flowers to officers who fulfilled their missions in Central African Republic
Deputy Defence Minister Senior Lieutenant General Nguyen Chi Vinh presented the President’s decision to the officers at a ceremony in Hanoi on May 21.
Accordingly, two officers will be sent to South Sudan as military observers.
Meanwhile, the group of five officers sent to the Central African Republic comprise one military observer and four staff officers.
Sen. Lieut. Gen. Nguyen Chi Vinh, who is also Head of the Defence Ministry’s Steering Committee for Vietnam’s participation in UN peacekeeping operations, told the officers to adhere to the Party and State’s diplomatic policies, military rules and regulations of the UN and law of the host countries.
He asked them ensure safety while doing the mission.
The officers are also assigned with the task of working with the UN mission to help with the deployment of Vietnam’s level-2 field hospital in South Sudan in late June this year.
The Deputy Defence Minister requested the Vietnam Peacekeeping Centre to assist the officers in carrying out their missions as well as take good care of their family members.
The centre needs to continue selecting and training of capable and virtuous officers to work for the UN peacekeeping mission in the following years, Vinh said.
The dispatched officers pledged to apply military and diplomatic knowledge and promote their responsibility and creativity to fulfil their missions.
Vietnam has sent 20 officers to work at the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Central African Republic and the UN Mission in South Sudan, including a female officer, after nearly four years of joining the UN peacekeeping operations.
Vietnam’s leading mobile retailer The Gioi Di Dong shutters six stores in month
The company’s expansion into grocery is said to bring more losses than profits
A The Gioi Di Dong store in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Tuoi Tre
Vietnam’s leading mobile retailer The Gioi Di Dong (Mobile World) has for first time had to close as many as six stores in a row this year, whereas its new business in the grocery sector is struggling.
Life's a breeze for most expats in VN
When he came to Vietnam six years ago to experience life in Asia, Shane McGrath’s plan was stay for six months or so. He did actually leave, after two years, to elsewhere in the region to live and work, but he always found himself missing Vietnam.
It’s now six years he’s lived here and some of his friends and even cousins have come to join him. They are part of the country’s expat community and very much enjoy their new life in Vietnam.
More doors open
Vietnam was recently named among the Top 10 destinations for expats in the InterNations’ 2018 Expat Insider survey, one of the largest surveys worldwide offering an in-depth analysis of expat life around the globe.
Nearly 13,000 expats from 188 countries and territories took part and more than half in Vietnam said they planned to stay in the country for up to five years, which is well above the global average of 35 per cent.
With its rapid development, international and regional integration, and positive changes in policies to welcome foreign investment in recent years, Vietnam is an appealing working environment amid tough times in a lot of Western countries. Many expats agree they have more job opportunities and can earn more in Vietnam than they would at home.
After graduating in Psychology in Ireland, Shane found it difficult to find a job in his chosen field and ended up working as a waiter in a bar. One day he saw English teaching jobs in Vietnam on the internet and decided to take the plunge. After interviews, he got a job at an English center before coming to the country.
His weekly schedule was soon filled with more lessons after he arrived and looked for more work. “There are a lot of jobs teaching English, as demand is high,” he said
Agreeing, his friend Melanie Craddock from South Africa also easily found work teaching English. She received offers just minutes after posting on social network and forums like Hanoi Massive and The New Hanoian seeking work. Her week was soon full.
From France, Clement Vrmin doesn’t teach English like the majority of expats but found a good opportunity to open a business. After visiting Vietnam and recognizing that there are not many companies offering tennis lessons and sports equipment, he decided to return and see if he was right. With less competition than back in France, his company had many customers not long after opening. “I’m always busy and business is good,” he said.
Not only are there more job opportunities but they come with a higher income. At an average of $20-25 an hour for teaching English, an expat usually earns around $1,500-$2,000 for working three to five hours a day. “I easily earn more than at home,” Melanie said.
Higher salaries and cheap living cost makes Vietnam an attractive proposition for foreigners. Expat Insider 2017 voted Vietnam as having the lowest cost of living for expats among 15 other countries, including Thailand and Mexico.
Depending on the location, rents in major cities like Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and Da Nang run from $200 to $500 for a nice room in a shared house or a one-bedroom apartment. It’s half the price and double the space of the last place Shane lived in in Ireland.
Getting around is easy enough for those who get a motorbike. Most expats can afford $2,000 or so for a good second-hand or new motorbike that will last several years. The traffic looks crazy, the expats agree, “but as soon as you get out there you learn how to adapt and it’s fine,” Melanie said.
Vietnamese food, meanwhile, is diverse and cheap. Many expats said they rarely cook in Vietnam even though they often did back home. In France, Clement said, the choice when going out eat was only expensive restaurants and he could afford it only once a week at a maximum.
Moreover, he had to plan ahead before venturing out as restaurants and eateries are not found everywhere. In Vietnam, though, food is available on nearly every corner. “It’s also really cheap. For $1 you can fill your stomach with a ‘banh mi’ (Vietnamese sandwich), a bowl of pho, or a noodle soup,” he said. “They’re all yummy, and Western food is also cheaper here than at home.”
Melanie also fell into Vietnamese food immediately. As one of many foreign vegans she was surprised to find there were so many places she could eat. One of her favorite places is a “com binh dan” (rice eatery) for vegetarians with a range of dishes served like a buffet and costing just $1-2 for a meal.
Drinks are also bargain basement and add some fun. A glass of “bia hoi” (draft beer) is just 25 cents, a mixed drink $2, and a cocktail $3-$5. “I spend $20-50 on a night out here and do it three or four times a week,” Shane said. “It would be impossible for me to do the same in Ireland. One night out costs at least $150.”
Though enjoying the cheap drinks, many expats find they start drinking too much and notice its effect on their health. The same with cigarettes, which are a tenth of the price back home. They also find the pollution in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City a little hard to deal with, but that’s really the only thing that would make them hesitate to live here for a long time.
One of the things that leaves an impression on most expats living in Vietnam is the friendliness and kindness of Vietnamese people.
They were surprised to get smiles and hear “hello” while walking down the street. “It’s weird when a stranger smiles at you on the street back home,” said Clement. “You would wonder what’s about to happen. Here, it’s normal.”
Shane will never forget watching Vietnam play Qatar in the U/23 Asian Cup at a bia hoi, when strangers came up to him to toast or jump on the table in celebrating Vietnam’s win. He became friends with some of them and was invited to their house to eat and to go to karaoke. “I really missed Vietnam and the people when I left. So I came back,” he said.
Melanie is very much impressed by the level of safety in Hanoi. She can go out late and have no problems, which she wouldn’t dare do in South Africa, where she could easily be mugged. She also appreciates the honesty of the people. When she first arrived and was confused with the value of the currency, with all those zeros, she just opened her purse and allowed the vendor to take out the right money.
“They always took what was right,” she said, adding that she heard about scams in Vietnam but that seemed limited to tourist places. One time she paid VND500,000 ($22) instead of VND20,000 ($0.8) for a beer in a bar by mistake because their color is similar and she wasn’t yet familiar with the different notes. Two weeks later, she returned to the bar and the bartender remembered her and gave her the change.
“I couldn’t believe that - two weeks later and he remembered me, even though that was the first time I went there,” she said. “It would never happen at home. I really fell in love with Vietnamese people.”
VN Economic Times
Government News 23/5
Japanese firms step up win-win cooperation with HCM City partners
Vice Chairman of the HCM City People’s Committee Huynh Cach Mang (R) presents a souvenir to JCCH Chairman Kadowaki Keiichi
The Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Ho Chi Minh City (JCCH) will actively collaborate with businesses in Vietnam’s southern economic hub for mutual long-term benefits and development.
JCCH Chairman Kadowaki Keiichi made the statement at a working session with Vice Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee Huynh Cach Mang in the city on May 22.
He said the Japanese business community recognised the city’s reform efforts to its improve business environment over the past time.
The city has helped businesses remove difficulties relating to administrative procedures, taxation and customs, he said.
According to the Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO), Vietnam is one of the countries in Southeast Asia that Japanese enterprises want to expand operation.
In the coming time, the JCCH will host more business forums and trade-investment exchanges with businesses in HCM City, he said.
Mang said the effective operation of the JCCH has contributed to the city’s economic development and deepening the strategic partnership between Vietnam and Japan.
As of February 2018, Japan had 1,149 valid projects worth 3.96 billion USD in HCM City, ranking sixth among countries and territories investing in the southern economic hub. Trade between Japan and HCM city reached 5.1 billion USD in 2017.
HCM City hopes foreign enterprises, including those from Japan, will make long-term investments in the city as well as boost transfer of technology, human resources training and share experience in business administration, Mang said.
Local authorities will create the best policy mechanism for businesses to operate effectively in the city, he asserted.
Cuban youth union delegation visits Ben Tre
Ben Tre officials and the delegation led by First Secretary of the National Committee of the Young Communist League of Cuba (UJC) Susely Morfar González pose for a group photo
A delegation led by First Secretary of the National Committee of the Young Communist League of Cuba (UJC) Susely Morfar González paid a working visit to the Mekong Delta province of Ben Tre on May 22.
At a working session with Cuban guests, Vice Secretary of the provincial Party Committee Phan Van Mai highlighted traditional and special Vietnam – Cuba ties, saying the local Luong Hoa commune (also called Moncada village) has been selected to establish twin relations with Cuba. In Cuba, there is a village named Ben Tre located in Artemisa province.
Mai said he hopes the UJC and the Ben Tre Party Committee exchange experience in organising youth activities, and expects the UJC to help Cuban firms visit Ben Tre to seek partnerships.
Ben Tre wants to learn from Cuban startup programme, he added.
For her part, Susely Morfar González thanked the provincial support for her visit, particularly a tour to the Moncada village.
She said Cuban youths have been educated on Vietnam’s historical fights for independence and Vietnam – Cuban close-knit ties.
She lauded Ben Tre support for its young residents, particularly in start-up activities.
HCM City learns from Tel Aviv’s experience in smart city building
Secretary of the Ho Chi Minh City Party Committee Nguyen Thien Nhan (second, right) held talks with Mayor of Tel Aviv Ron Huldai (second, left) on May 22
Secretary of the Ho Chi Minh City Party Committee Nguyen Thien Nhan had talks with Mayor of Tel Aviv Ron Huldai in the Israeli city on May 22 to discuss bilateral cooperation, especially in developing a smart city, high technology and start-up ecosystem.
Nhan, who is on a working visit to Israel, highly valued the country’s experience in developing technology, smart cities and start-up ecosystem. He noted that despite different population and geographical conditions, both HCM City and Tel Aviv are the economic locomotives and high-quality human resources hubs of their respective countries.
HCM City is interested in promoting a knowledge economy and green growth basing on science-technology, innovation and start-up, he said, adding that his city wants to learn from Tel Aviv’s experience in this field, which is also the strength of Tel Aviv.
As the two cities share similarities in smart city building targets, which are to provide convenient services and improving living conditions for local people, they should step up cooperation and sharing experience in smart city building, the official said.
For his part, Mayor Ron Huldai said Tel Aviv is an economic and cultural centre and also the biggest start-up city of Israel. It is also experienced in building a smart city and providing smart city solutions.
He said Tel Aviv is now one of the smartest cities in the world thanks to an open data system for all people, applying hi-tech in administrative activities, and putting people in the centre of its innovative activities so as to provide services best serving people. Its administration has also built a 15-year strategic vision and made reviews and updates to continue developing this plan in the future.
He expressed his city’s willingness to cooperate with HCM City in creating start-up incubators and exchanging experience in smart city building.
He also invited HCM City to attend an innovation week hosted by Tel Aviv in the time ahead.
Also on May 22, the Vietnamese official paid a courtesy call to Israeli Minister of Science and Technology Ofir Akunis.
Trade cooperation a focus of Vietnam-US ties: Deputy PM
At the meeting
The relationship between Vietnam and the US continues to develop effectively in many areas, of which economic and trade cooperation is one of the focuses, said Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue.
The Vietnamese Government official made the remark at a meeting with US Deputy Trade Representative Jeffrey Gerrish in Hanoi on May 21, during which he affirmed that the Vietnamese Government is making great efforts to improve business environment and fine-tune national competitiveness.
Vietnam attaches importance to perfecting institutions and policies to create favourable conditions for domestic and foreign investors, including those from the US, to operate effectively in the country, Hue stressed.
Sharing Hue’s opinion, Gerrish said the US would further develop its cooperation with Vietnam.
The US wants to reach agreement with Vietnam in settling problems related to car import, electronic payment, and regulations in Vietnam’s draft law on cyber security that requires servers managing data of Vietnamese users be installed in Vietnam, he noted.
In his reply, Deputy PM Hue said he would ask relevant ministries to propose ways to address the issues mentioned by Gerrish before a delegation of the Vietnamese Government make a working visit to the US next month.
Regarding the Vietnam-US trade and economic ties, the Vietnamese Government is concerned about the US’s imposition of anti-dumping tax on shrimp and leather shoes, and high taxes on steel and aluminium of Vietnam, Hue said.
Gerrish said he believes difficulties between the two sides would soon be resolved, thus pushing the economic relations between the two countries in the coming time.
HCM City official encourages Vietnam-Cuba youth ties
Vice Secretary of Ho Chi Minh City Party Committee Nguyen Thanh Phong (R) and UJC First Secretary Susely Morfar González
Vice Secretary of Ho Chi Minh City Party Committee Nguyen Thanh Phong urged the youth unions of Vietnam and Cuba to hold regular exchanges to share working experience in building the unions as the strong vanguards of their countries’ revolutionary and trustworthy personnel reserves for the Parties.
Receiving First Secretary of the National Committee of the Young Communist League of Cuba (UJC) Susely Morfar González on May 21, Phong, who is also Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee, assured his guest that the city is determined to continue preserve and develop the heritage left by President Ho Chi Minh and Cuba’s hero Jose Marti and General Commander Fidel Castro, who founded and fostered Vietnam-Cuba traditional friendship.
He congratulated Cuba on successfully holding the election of National Assembly and People’s Committees at all levels and expressed his belief in the success of the Cuban Party, State and people’s cause of updating the socio-economic development model to improve local lives.
Susely Morfar González, for her part, said her visit aims to boost cooperation and share experience in youth union work in the fields of science-technology, biology, and education-training.
She said young Cuban generations are always aware of upholding bilateral special solidarity and close attachment founded by the previous generations.
On the occasion, Phong conveyed his condolences to victims and their families in the recent aircraft crash in Havana.
Party official visits Buddhist monk on Lord Buddha’s birthday
Head of Party Central Committee’s Commission for Mass Mobilisation Truong Thi Mai visited Most Venerable Thich Pho Tue, Supreme Patriarch of the Vietnam Buddhist Sangha (VBS), at Vien Minh pagoda in Quang Lang commune in Hanoi’s Phu Xuyen district on May 21.
At the meeting taking place on the occasion of the 2562nd birth anniversary of Lord Buddha, Mai wished the Most Venerable good health and further contributions to the development of the VBS and the country.
She said the Party and Government acknowledged the VBS’s contributions to national construction and will spare no effort in supporting Buddhism development for national solidarity.
Mai expected the Most Venerable will continue to lead the solidarity and united Buddhist community.
The Supreme Patriarch stated he will encourage Buddhist followers to follow the Party’s policies, as well as the Government’s laws and national campaigns.
Vietnam attends India-CLMV trade conference in Cambodia
Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Cao Quoc Hung
Potential for enhancing trade ties between India and CLMV countries (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam) was highlighted at a conference which opened in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on May 21.
Themed “India-CLMV Economic Development: Collaboration for Regional Integration”, the two-day event saw representatives from trade ministries, sectors, localities and big enterprises of India and those from the four countries.
In his opening remarks, Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Cao Quoc Hung highly valued cooperation between the CLMV countries and India, saying that India always considers ASEAN in general and the CLMV countries in particular as a focus in its Act East Policy.
He affirmed that the maintenance of such events will be an opportunity to further promote regional integration between India and CLMV countries.
Hung also pointed out potential for pushing the cooperation mechanism.
H said India has the strength in capital, technology, new and renewable energy, education, pharmaceuticals, and high-tech products, while CLMV countries have advantages in production of textiles and garment, footwear, agricultural products, wood, minerals, vegetables, machinery components, which can meet India’s import demand.
However, Hung also mentioned difficulties and challenges facing the regional integration between India and the CLMV countries such as differences in infrastructure quality, lack of connection, unimproved border trade infrastructure.
Hung suggested the countries enhance traffic infrastructure connection, especially those in India’s northeast region and Myanmar - the two important points to connect India with CLMV countries.
The countries should also strengthen institutional linkage by harmonising trade investment and finance policies, he added.
He believed that the regional integration between India and the CLMV countries will be fostered on par with the potential available once the above-mentioned measures are implemented effectively.
The fifth India-CLMV trade conference focuses on topics related to manufacturing industry, agro-forestry-aquaculture, health care, education, IT and vocational training.
Bilateral discussion sessions between India and each CLMV country are also arranged in the framework of the event.
Relations between India and the CLMV countries have been growing since India established the diplomatic ties with each of them, and the partnership with ASEAN in 1992.
The CLMV countries are also the gateways for India to enter the ASEAN market and other FTA markets that the CLMV countries are members. Meanwhile, India is the gateway for the CLMV countries to penetrate other South Asian countries by taking advantage of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).
The advantage from the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) cooperation mechanism’s East-West Economic Corridor (GMS) is also a favourable condition for stronger trade cooperation between India and the CLMV countries in the future.
Trade between India and the CLMV countries hit 14.5 billion USD in 2017. India is the largest trade partner of the CLMV countries in South Asia.
People hope for more efforts to address unsolved problems: VFF official
VFFCC President Tran Thanh Man
Voters and people nationwide hope that the National Assembly (NA), the Government and all-level administrations will continue working to solve the problems they used to mentioned, said President of the Vietnam Fatherland Front Central Committee (VFFCC) Tran Thanh Man.
He was reporting on voters and people’s opinions at the opening meeting of the fifth session of the 14th-tenure NA in Hanoi on May 21.
He said since the NA’s fourth session in late 2017, the VFFCC Presidium and the NA Standing Committee have received more than 3,460 opinions that people nationwide wanted to send to the parliament.
He noted the public expressed their trust in the Party’s leadership and the State’s steering and management role. They hope the NA, the Government and all-level administrations will continue paying attention to the problems they mentioned at previous sessions of the NA, including ensuring social welfare; prioritising development resources for disadvantaged, ethnic minority, disaster-hit and climate change-prone areas; ensuring social order and safety; and fighting crimes.
The VFFCC Presidium asked the NA and the Government to promptly institutionalise and seriously and effectively implement resolutions of the Party Central Committee, especially the resolutions on economic development, personnel work, and salary and social insurance reforms, which were issued at the 5th, 6th and 7th session of the 12th-tenure Party Central Committee.
They should promote their responsibility towards major issues discussed at this 5th session such as the draft revised law on denunciation, the draft law on special administrative-economic units, the draft revised anti-corruption law, and the laws amending some articles of the laws on construction, housing and urban planning.
Meanwhile, the parliament needs to press on with reforming NA deputies’ meetings with voters so that more people can express their opinions, Man said.
In his report, the official asked the NA and the Government to order relevant agencies and authorities at all levels to increase attention to agriculture, farmers and rural areas. The Cabinet should step up administrative reforms at all sectors and agencies, from central to grassroots levels.
The Party and the State need to take stronger and more effective solutions to fight corruption and wastefulness and promote thrift practice in the whole political system and society. They also need to order law protection agencies to strictly handle persons with corruption and wastefulness, boost the effectiveness of corrupt asset recovery, and enhance the responsibility of leaders of ministries, sectors and administrations in this work.
VFFCC President Man also called on the Government to overhaul urban planning and construction licensing activities and take drastic actions to combat illegal sand mining and deforestation, which were continually reported to the parliament at its sessions from 2013 to 2017 but still linger.
Activities in Netherlands, Canada mark President Ho Chi Minh’s birthday
Vietnamese Ambassador to the Netherlands Ngo Thi Hoa presented certificates of merit to outstanding Vietnamese students in the Netherlands at the ceremony.
The 128th birth anniversary of late President Ho Chi Minh (May 19, 1890) was marked with a ceremony in The Hague, the Netherlands, and a discussion in Toronto, Canada, recently.
At the celebration in The Hague, Vietnamese Ambassador to the Netherlands Ngo Thi Hoa said on May 19 every year, each Vietnamese people think of Ho Chi Minh with great respect and gratitude.
The movement of studying and following the late leader’s ideology, morality and style has been enhanced, helping Vietnamese people at home and abroad to better understand the significant values of his ideology, morality and style, she noted.
Participants in the ceremony offered incense to pay homage to President Ho Chi Minh. A documentary was also screened to give participants an insight into his journey abroad to seek ways to save the country.
At the event, the embassy also presented merit certificates to eight Vietnamese students with excellent achievements in youth activities in 2017 and 2018.
Meanwhile, the discussion in Toronto, organised by the Canada Vietnam Society, talked Ho Chi Minh’s viewpoint on women empowerment. It drew Canadian scholars and researchers, along with many Chinese, Indian and Vietnamese students in the Canadian city.
Opinions focused on gender equality and women empowerment, which President Ho Chi Minh used to mention for a long time and are still hot issues nowadays not only in Vietnam but also around the world.
Dr Nguyen Dai Trang, who wrote two books about President Ho Chi Minh, said the leader called on Vietnamese women to join the fight against foreign invaders, exercise their rights and take part in the global women’s rights movement. He also wrote many articles about many women’s movements in the world.
Trang said after Vietnam gained independence in 1945, the leader called on people nationwide, especially women, to learn the national language to create opportunities for them to keep up with men and be able to vote and run for election. He also encouraged support for women to hold leading positions and more communications about women successes.
President Ho Chi Minh (1890-1969) was the founder of the Communist Party of Vietnam. He led the Vietnamese revolution to victory with the establishment of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, now the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, in 1945.
VN actively contributes to preparing for meeting of workers’ parties
Vice Chairman of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) Central Committee’s Commission for External Relations Nguyen Manh Cuong
A delegation of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) attended a meeting of a working group in Athens, Greece, on May 19 and 20 to discuss preparation for the 20th International Meeting of Communist and Workers’ Parties (IMCWP).
Vice Chairman of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) Central Committee’s Commission for External Relations Nguyen Manh Cuong led a delegation, who was active at the discussion, held during the meeting’s course.
The preparatory meeting also tabled others common tasks set for the international communist and workers’ movements, stating the necessity of solidarity among members of communist and workers’ parties amid today challenges and difficulties.
The Communist Party of Greece will host the 2018 IMCWP in November, coinciding with the meeting’s 20th founding anniversary.
The function, considered the most important forum of the communist and workers’ forces, is set to discuss the contemporary worker class and their alliances in the fight against wars and interference of imperialism for independence, peace, workers’ rights and socialism.
Deputy PM stresses need to improve national competitiveness at NA session
Deputy PM Truong Hoa Binh
Deputy Prime Minister Truong Hoa Binh stressed the need for Vietnam to boost potential and strong fields to motivate socio-economic development, improve the business and investment environment and national competitiveness.
Binh made the statement while delivering a report on supplementary assessment of socio-economic development results in 2017 and the first months of 2018 as well as key tasks and solutions for the coming times at the 14th-tenure National Assembly’s fifth session, which kicked off in Hanoi on May 21.
He said that the Government’s management work will follow the orientations of building on achievements gained from the beginning of this tenure, especially in 2017 and the first months of 2018, pressing ahead with the drastic and synchronous implementation of tasks and measures set in the Party, National Assembly and Government’s resolutions, and avoiding subjectivity in steering and administration.
The Government will keep a close watch on the domestic and international situations in order to make suitable and timely reactions, while paying attention to addressing newly emerging issues, tackling existing shortcomings and weaknesses, and making efforts to fulfil all targets set for 2018 in order to facilitate sustainable development in the following years, thus contributing to the successful implementation of the five-year plan from 2016-2020.
To stabilise the macro-economy, control inflation and boost economic growth, the official emphasised that the Government will maintain the effective and synchronous implementation of monetary and financial policies.
Efforts will be exerted to control the average consumer price index increase of around 4 percent, achieve a gross domestic product (GDP) growth of over 6.7 percent, and reduce interest rates, especially in priority fields, he stated.
He also stressed the importance of stabilising the foreign currency market, raising the State’s foreign exchange reserves, controlling the credit scale at a reasonable level, and strictly monitoring highly risky fields.
Predicting both opportunities and challenges for Vietnam brought by the regional and world situation, the Deputy PM said that the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) will generate positive effects, while many international organisations forecast the Vietnamese economy will continue growing well.
However, he noted that the country’s labour productivity and competitiveness remain low, with a lack of high-quality human resources. Production technologies and administration capacity in many sectors and enterprises are out-of-date, and State management efficiency is still low.
Demands for investment in infrastructure, social welfare, environmental protection, climate change response, and defence and security remain huge, while the domestic resources are limited, Binh stated, adding that natural disasters are forecast to develop complicatedly, affecting production and lives of people.
Comparing the final outcomes of socio-economic development in 2017 with preliminary results mentioned in a Government report in the legislature’s fourth session, Binh said that seven out of 13 criteria saw improvement. Notably, GDP growth rate reached 6.81 percent compared with 6.7 percent as reported earlier, while export turnover rose by 21.2 percent in comparison with the estimated 14.4 percent.
In the first months of 2018, the marco-economy maintained stable, core inflation was curbed at 1.34 percent, and CPI increased by 2.8 percent during January-April.
Monetary policy was managed flexibly, the foreign exchange market and foreign exchange rate were stable, and the State’s foreign exchange reserves were 63.5 billion USD.
GDP growth rate hit 7.38 percent in the first quarter of 2018 – the highest rate in the past 10 years, with expansion seen across agriculture, industry and construction, and services.
The Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) was 52.7 points, and listed in the leading group in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said Binh.
Online real estate brokerage gaining acceptance
VinaCapital’s flagship fund the Vietnam Opportunity Fund (VOF) and Dragon Capital last month announced they spent $21 million acquiring a 25 per cent stake in the Century Land JSC (CenLand), one of Vietnam’s leading real estate brokerages and the leader in the northern region.
CenLand has focused on traditional sales channels since 2002, with its popular real estate supermarket system STDA, and has developed its online brokerage platform Nghemoigioi.vn over the last two years.
Online channels contributed to the surging number of the company’s transactions in 2017, at 11,555, an increase of 20 per cent against 2016, thanks to real estate support technology.
“Online real estate has seen impressive growth of more than 60 per cent over the last three years and is expected to continue growing into the future,” said Ms. Le Hoang Uyen Vy, General Partner at ESP Capital.
In line with Vietnam’s burgeoning real estate market, online brokerage has also found greater appeal among both local and international investors.
The local market has witnessed a number of foreign investors setting up business as well as many newly-established Vietnamese startups receiving private equity (PE) investment over the last two years.
After Dot Property, a rapidly-growing property portal based in Singapore, opened its first representative office in Ho Chi Minh City in September 2016, another leading Asian online property group, PropertyGuru, also announced a strategic investment to secure a 20 per cent holding in Vietnam’s No. 1 property site, Batdongsan.com.vn, a month later.
With support from PropertyGuru, Batdongsan.com.vn has maintained its leading position in the country’s online property listings market, with the highest traffic, of 6.4 million visits, every month, according to figures from web measurement tool SimilarWeb.
2017 was an active year for fund raising by local startups in the online property brokerage business. The Ho Chi Minh City-based PE firm the Vietnam Investment Group (VIGroup) led a $2 million Series A funding round in the first quarter to pick up 15 per cent in the online-to-offline (O2O) real estate platform Congnhadat.net.
In the second quarter, one of the leading transaction-focused classifieds businesses, Propzy Vietnam, successfully mobilized $2 million from the Malaysia-based online classifieds business operator Frontier Digital Ventures and other investors.
Another investment was made in Vietnamese property portal Homedy.com, co-led by two Japanese early investors Genesia Ventures and the Singapore investment house Vine Capital last year, following a previous investment from ESP Capital.
Norway’s telecom group Telenor, meanwhile, last year fully took over one of the largest online marketplaces in Vietnam, Cho Tot, including its real estate classifieds platform, Cho Tot Nha.
Real estate inventories were estimated at around $1.15 billion last year, according to the Vietnam Housing and Real Estate Agency at the Ministry of Construction.
There are no exact figures on the country’s online property brokerage market, but it was estimated at nearly $400 million as at the end of 2017, according to Mr. Phan Nhat Minh, Co-founder of Rever, a brokerage startup on the O2O property platform and a provider of data analysis.
Top 10 real estate websites, per visits
Source: VET research on SimilarWeb
From offline to online
Founded in 2016, Rever has been a pioneer in using 3D technology to introduce housing to customers. Mr. Minh believes that future homebuyers will mainly be the younger generation, who are familiar with technology and can save time seeing a 3D perspective online and not having to actually visit the property.
“This has been a part of our digitalization itinerary,” he said. “Over the past year, we have introduced a new search interface and continued developing interactive and 3D models for real estate projects that are able to be integrated into the Rever platform.”
Rever is a real estate brokerage startup on the O2O platform, with online promotional products, marketing, and multi-link pages for advertising for customers to make transaction quickly and for free. This year it will offer new features for users, such as financial comparison and calculation tools, data analytical tools to forecast real estate prices, and an NPS measurement tool.
“From our first office in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 2, we have plans to expand to 14 locations in the city with 200 qualified staff and record four-fold growth this year,” Mr. Minh said. “We are also working with potential investors for upcoming fund raising.”
The 5,000 newly-registered real estate enterprises in 2017 is part of the rising quantity and quality of local brokerage startups in Vietnam, according to Mr. Nguyen Ba Duc, Founder of Homedy.
The three-year-old startup is now among the Top 3 online real estate portals, with around 1.5 million visits per month, after receiving financial support of around $1 million from three foreign investors last year.
Homedy has invested in technology and in upgrading its system infrastructure to provide greater access to its website. Its big data system has been developed to support user behavior analysis and optimize products. It has also researched and is in the process of testing intelligent and highly-automated technologies.
“This year we plan to launch new versions of both the website and the mobile app to further improve users’ experience and allow them to find full information and increase ads by at least five-fold every year,” Mr. Duc said.
With a tech-savvy population and high internet penetration, online property brokerage and listings in Vietnam help to further grow the local real estate sector, as buyers are exposed to more choices in a transparent manner, which enables them to compare and make informed decisions, according to Mr. Bryan Teo, CEO of Cho Tot.
“We experienced this exciting trend when monthly successful transactions so far in 2018 have risen 24 per cent and the number of ads in the first quarter increased 40 per cent year-on-year,” he told VET.
Cho Tot Nha is a customer-to-customer (C2C) platform where users can buy and sell property directly from each other and are responsible for the transaction and payment, which take place offline. “We have invested resources and technology in an ad-review system,” Mr. Teo said.
“Cho Tot Nha’s ad-review team has been trained in the specific characteristics of this sector to increase the accuracy of ads.” It has also developed a feature that allows buyers to report ads on the site and quickly handle any reports from buyers. He also said that, in the future, Cho Tot plans to work with stakeholders to identify brokers, ask them to create their own profiles, and record their transaction history to build up and strengthen the trust of users.
Technology, by definition, involves innovation, so all online real estate brokerages must change and develop in order to stay abreast of the market, according to Mr. Duc from Homedy.
“Technology investment is among the challenges not only for Homedy but also for others,” he said.
“Both online and offline hold certain advantages and disadvantages. Traditional brokerage is not competitive in closing deals, as it takes much time. Conversely, the online model can classify potential customers for brokers, saving time and human resources.”
In the long run, the online property brokerage business has been forecast to increasingly compete and replace traditional real estate agencies, using technology to supplement or even replace agents so that buyers and sellers pay lower transaction costs, according to Mr. Teo. This is generally in line with other “disrupting” technologies that result in consumers getting faster and better service at a lower cost.
However, “along with local customers still preferring to purchase property via an actual agent, legislation to regulate property ownership in Vietnam is still evolving and the property conveyancing process is also in the development stage,” he added.
“In such a complex environment, buyers and sellers still need professional advice to guide them in property transactions. As such, technologies will not replace agents in the immediate future.”
He also said that Vietnam’s online property brokerage market has lots of room to grow. The first step in such development is information transparency, where online listing sites come into play.
There’s a growing demand for efficiency and transparency in the real estate industry, and one online platform has been listening. By striving to create an open, user-friendly platform where demand and supply can be matched by just a click, online property brokerage sites have gradually eked out a position in the market.
VN Economic Times
Heavy competition behind the allure: Vietnam’s beer market
The Vietnamese beer market is considered a promised land for both foreign and local brewers due to the massive consumption. However, in reality, it is a playground with strict competition.
According to statistics from Euromonitor, the global beer consumption volume remains unchanged since last year, while beer consumption in Vietnam soared.
Notably, in 2008, Vietnam ranked 8th in Asia in terms of the volume of beer consumed, however, after eight years, Vietnam now stands at the third position, following Japan and China.
According to statistics from Viet Capital Securities, the Vietnamese beer sector is dominated by four brewers, namely Habeco, 100% Carlsberg-owned Hue Brewery, Sabeco, and Heineken NV.
These four entities hold 90% of the market, while the remaining 10% is divided among Masan Brewery, Sapporo, AB InBev, and Calsberg-owned Southeast Asia Brewery.
While Habeco, Hue Brewery, and Sabeco dominate the market in the northern, central, and southern regions, respectively, Heineken NV holds dominion in the high-end and medium beer segments.
According to a report of the Vietnam Beverage Association, in 2017 Vietnam sold four billion litres of beer, equalling an average of 45 litres per people per year.
Besides, Vietnam set the target the output of 4.1 billion litres of beer by 2020 and 5.5 billion litres by 2035.
Despite the beer sector having great potential to exploit, only a number of brewers are operating at massive profits.
According to enternews.vn, Nguyen Van Viet, chairman of VBA, stated that despite Japanese brewer Sapporo seeing an increase in sales volume, the production expenses as well as the advertisement programmes reduced profit heavily.
Additionally, numerous players failed in this playground and had to leave. Notably, in July 2006, Asia Pacific Breweries bought two Vietnamese breweries from Foster's Group in a deal worth US$105 million.
Besides, SABMiller co-operated with Vinamilk to establish a US$45-million joint venture to develop a brewery in the southern province of Binh Duong. The brewery was expected to start operations in 2007 with the initial capacity of 50 million litres per year.
The capacity was expected to double if the plant goes well. However, the joint venture faced difficulties in competing with existing beer products. As a result, Vinamilk had to transfer its entire holding in the joint venture to SABMiller after only two years.
In October 2015, AB InBev spent US$106 billion on acquiring SABMiller's global operations, including SABMiller in Vietnam. At present, SABMiller's products just make up a small portion of the market in the domestic beer sector.
In spite of massive spending on advertisements, Habeco reported decreases in both revenue and profit in the first three quarters of 2017.
According to the corporation’s financial report in the third quarter of last year, Habeco earned VND3 trillion (US$131.8 million) in revenue and VND317 billion (US$13.9 million) in after-tax profit, signifying decreases of 18 and 27%, respectively, the greatest plunge during the year.
Notably, in the nine months of last year, Habeco’s revenue decreased to VND7.2 trillion (US$316.3 million) and after-tax profit decreased by 17%, to VND613 billion (US$26.9 million).
According to the 2017 consolidated business results, Habeco reported a net revenue of VND9.8 trillion (US$430.4 million), a decrease of 2% on-year and a decrease of 4.9% in pre-tax profit to VND972.6 billion (US$2.7 million).
Babysitters sought after during summer holiday
Parents in Hanoi are in a hurry to find babysitters for their children in the coming school summer holiday.
To Thuy Duong, a local in Cau Giay District, Hanoi, said they were always in a rush to pick up and drop off their children at summer classes last year.
This year, they hired student tutors to teach and take care of their children at home.
"My friends also have children of the same age group so we jointly hired two student tutors. They will teach and cook lunch for VND1.3m (USD57) to VND1.5m per child. We don't have to worry about work hours and the children have close friends with them all day long," Duong said.
Nguyen Thi Thoa and other teachers at a kindergarten in Bac Tu Liem District have set up a summer class at home for more than 10 children.
At first, there were only three to four children but more and more parents have come to the class. Most children are from six to eight years old.
However, the teachers have to face many difficulties when having to teach children at different ages at once.
"We're free during summer while parents need someone to take care of their children. During the peak time, we take care of as many as 20 children. The summer holiday hasn't started yet but dozens of parents have already registered their children at our class," Thoa said.
According to Thoa, she collects VND1.3m per month per child without lunch and VND1.8m with lunch.
She invited music, art and English teachers to make the class more exciting and life skills are prioritised over academic results.
Thoa said she earned about VND10m (USD437) a month during the summer holiday.
This is also a profitable job for housewives and retirees whose prices range from VND2m (USD87) to VND5m per child.
Nguyen Thi Tinh, a retiree in Minh Khai Ward, said, "My children are at workplace most of the day so I take care of children as a part-time job. They make me happier and I feel younger. Normally, I only receive one to two children. Even when many parents come to me during summer, I can only agree to receive up to four children."
Tinh said her work started at 7 am and basically ended at 6 pm. Since the children are mostly from one to three years old, they need a lot of care and attention. Taking care of children brings in VND5m (USD218) to VND10m a month.