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BUSINESS IN BRIEF 20/4

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Japan’s Transcosmos, Can Tho city seek e-commerce partnership

BUSINESS IN BRIEF 20/4


The People’s Committee of the Mekong delta city of Can Tho had a working session on April 18 with a delegation from Japan’s Transcosmos group on a plan to cooperate and invest in e-commerce.
Komura Yohei, Director General of Transcosmos-Vietnam said the group started its Vietnam operation in July 2014 and set up representative offices in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
Setting its foot in Can Tho will help the group expand its operation in Vietnam and reflect its commitment to long-term business in the country, he said.
Though Vietnam posted the highest growth rate in Southeast Asia, its e-commerce is yet to keep up with that in Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia, he noted.
Transcosmos aims to launch services it has succeeded in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, including customers’ service, BPO and IT outsourcing services, in the city, according to the executive.
It will initially send its leading engineers to help with training and technology transfer and if the partnership works, packaged e-commerce services and others will be launched, he told his hosts.
With more than 50 years of operation and high-quality personnel, Transcosmos is confident that it will become an important and long-term partner of Can Tho in developing and applying e-commerce services, he said.
Vice Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee Truong Quang Hoai Nam welcomed the group’s interest and cooperation, pledging the provision of maximal legal and assistance.
Established in 1966, Transcosmos is one of the leading e-commerce solution providers in Japan, making its presence in 34 countries worldwide.
In Vietnam, it is a big stakeholder and a strategic partner of Lazada, HotDeal, Vinabook and Yesgo.

Deputy PM visits world’s largest flower auction platform in Netherlands


Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung visited Aalsmeer – the world’s largest flower auction platform – near Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam on April 18 as part of a working visit to the Netherlands.
Aalsmeer town provides a venue for the transactions of about 60 percent of the world’s flowers, or nearly 50 million flowers each day.
Aside from flowers grown in the Netherlands, flowers from other European countries, Central America or Africa are also transported to Aalsmeer by air, auctioned at 7am every day, and then delivered to around the globe in less than 24 hours.
The town has formed an uninterrupted chain of services, from finance, transport to trading.
By strongly invest in hi-tech agriculture, the Netherlands has helped farmers increase added value in traditional products while exporting many agricultural technologies to other nations. Its agriculture gains a revenue of 50 billion EUR each year, accounting for about 10 percent of GDP, although labourers in this sector make up only 2 percent of the population.
Deputy PM Dung said he is impressed with the Netherlands’s strength in agriculture, voicing his hope for the two countries’ closer cooperation to help shift the agricultural structure and increase the value of agricultural products of Vietnam.
On late April 18, he met with the Vietnamese Embassy staff and representatives of Vietnamese people in the Netherlands.
First fair of cooperatives’ products kicks off in Hanoi
A fair featuring farm produce and craft products from Vietnamese cooperatives opened in Thong Nhat Park, Hanoi, on April 18.
The fair was organised by the Vietnam Cooperative Alliance (VCA) on the occasion of the 10th Asia Pacific Cooperative Ministers’ Conference held in Vietnam for the first time.
It features 320 booths of more than 100 domestic units and three booths of cooperatives in Asia – Pacific region, with thousands of products on display, including agricultural products, medicines, aquatic products, handicrafts and processed food.
Addressing the opening ceremony, Vo Kim Cu, President of the VCA said that the fair offered opportunities for cooperatives, traditional trade villages and businesses to promote trade and cooperation in domestic and global markets.
The fair runs until April 21

Sri Lankan PM urges serious efforts to achieve 1bln USD trade value


Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe called for serious efforts to be made to raise two-way trade value to 1 billion USD during a Vietnam-Sri Lanka investment forum held in Hanoi on April 18. 
Speaking at the event, the PM said Sri Lanka wants to establish ties with many countries worldwide, especially those in Asia, including Vietnam, vowing that the South Asian country always provides all possible support for investors there. 
Sri Lankan businesses are interested in extending their commercial reaches to the ASEAN member states and continuing to invest in Vietnam, he said, adding that both sides should further boost tourism cooperation. 
In order to become an export-reliant economy, he suggested investing in the Indian Ocean and Sri Lanka in particular. 
As Vietnam and Sri Lanka share similarities, the PM encouraged Vietnamese firms to invest in transport, industry, shipbuilding, logistics and automobiles.
Chairman of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) Vu Tien Loc lauded Sri Lanka’s English proficiency among the general public, the use of European trade law system and standards, which he said, are extremely significant for the country to fulfill the goal of becoming a transit hub and gateway to the Indian Ocean. 
He emphasised that Vietnam is a gateway for Sri Lanka to navigate the Southeast Asian markets. 
As a member of free trade agreements with almost major economies across the world, Vietnam is hastening renovation and business climate improvement while facilitating start-ups, he said. 
On the occasion, representatives from the two countries’ ministries and agencies introduced respective strengths and potentials and discussed specific cooperative ideas.-

Fuel retail prices seen rising over Syria tension


Fuel retail prices are forecast to surge on April 20 given the rising tension in Syria.
A source from a fuel trading enterprise in southern Vietnam told the Daily that the base fuel prices, which are constituted by import prices, taxes and fees, were VND600 (US$0.03) higher than the retail prices on April 13.
RON92 gasoline rose to a two-month high of US$67 a barrel on April 12. Diesel oil 0.05S and kerosene also shot
up following the U.S. missile strikes against Syria. Domestic prices might edge up by at least VND500 a liter.
According to the General Department of Customs, Vietnam imported 1.3 million tons of fuels worth US$662 million in March, up 65.5% in volume and 54% in value over the previous month.
Of this volume, 481,000 tons came from Singapore, 368,000 tons from Malaysia, 305,000 tons from South Korea and 122,000 tons from China. Vietnam’s fuel imports from Malaysia surged a staggering 191.1%.
Fuel imports in the first quarter amounted to 2.95 million tons worth nearly US$1.6 billion, up 7.2% and 74.6% over the same period last year respectively.

Turkey conducts safeguard investigation into pneumatic tyres


Turkey has announced its initiation of safeguard investigation into pneumatic tyres imported from Vietnam as from April 6, according to the Vietnam Competition Authority.
The plaintiff accused that the import growth has caused significant damage to the domestic industry resulting in the reduction of consumption, productivity, sales, exports, employment and profits.
Turkey said if any businesses want to register to become relevant sides they should fill in the registration form and send it to Turkey authorities within 20 days as from the issuance date. While filling in the form, they can also ask for consultation by the investigation agency. Consultation time and place is announced on the website of the Turkey Ministry of Economy.
Vietnam is currently exporting a huge volume of pneumatic tyres to Turkey.
Earlier in August 2016, Turkey extended anti-dumping duties of 29% and 49% on Vietnamese motorbike tyres.

International beauty industry exhibition opens in HCM City
     

A wide range of products, technologies and services used in the cosmetics, beauty, hair, and spa industries are on display at the 2017 Cosmobeaute Vietnam, the biggest beauty trade exhibition in the Indochina region, which opened on April 18 in HCM City.
The 10th annual expo, also the largest so far, has more than 190 exhibitors from 12 countries and territories, including South Korea, Spain, Taiwan, China, Germany, Italy, Turkey, Malaysia, China, and Viet Nam.
For the first time Spanish beauty products will be seen at the expo, courtesy the Spanish Cosmetics, Toiletry and Perfumery Association.
There will be beauty workshops, skill competitions, live demonstrations for the benefit of visitors and a “Beaute Meeting” programme that will offer exhibitors, manufacturers, suppliers, importers, and trade visitors a chance to explore business opportunities.
Professionals can see the latest trends in beauty products and equipment and learn about salon management, CP Saw, director of ECMI ITE Asia, said.
Co-organised by ECMI ITE Asia and the Minh Vi Exhibition and Services Co. at the Saigon Exhibition and Convention Centre in District 7, the expo will go on until April 20. 

2 fairs on home décor, gifts, handicrafts open in HCM City
     

The International Viet Nam Home Decor and Gifts Fair (Lifestyle Vietnam 2017) opened on April 18 in HCM City with 800 booths set up by Vietnamese exporters, foreign companies in Viet Nam and exhibitors from Laos, Taiwan, Japan, Cambodia, Myanmar and other countries.
On at the Saigon Exhibition and Convention Centre in District 7 and to run until April 21, the annual event is expected to attract 2,000 importers of home decor items and gifts from 30 countries and territories, including from Japan, the US, Australia, and Europe, according to the Viet Nam Handicraft Exporters Association (Vietcraft).
The fair helps local exporters, particularly handicrafts makers, connect with new buyers and create new business relations, it said.
Another fair, the 2017 Vietnam Craft Village Fair, which seeks to help traditional craft villages and industries nation-wide promote their products and brands and expand their markets, opened on April 17 at the Gia Định Park in HCM City’s Tan Bình District.
Organised by the Viet Nam Association of Craft Villages, the fair features 350 booths, 200 of them displaying handicrafts like wood sculpture, pottery and ceramic and local specialties like Ly Son garlic, Tan Trieu grapefruit and Thai Nguyen tea.
Nguyen Huu Phuoc, deputy chairman of the association, said Viet Nam is home to more than 5,400 craft villages, including 1,864 traditional craft villages, which employ 11 million people.
Products from craft villages, especially those made from wood, rattan and bamboo, are exported to over 160 countries and territories, he added.
To run until April 23, the fair is expected to help enterprises expand into markets with high demand for craft products such as the US, EU, Japan, South Korea, and the ASEAN Economic Community. 

Made-in-VN internet platforms planned


BUSINESS IN BRIEF 20/4


     

The Government is encouraging made-in-Viet Nam internet platforms to replace international giants like Google and Facebook as part of its long-term efforts to strengthen cyber security, the communications minister said yesterday. As part of its efforts to ensure accurate information, the ministry has also convinced YouTube to remove 1,500 clips with “illegal content”, he added.
Minister of Information and Communications Truong Minh Tuan took the stage during a Q&A session broadcast live from the National Assembly (NA)’s Standing Committee in which lawmakers fired questions at him about the spread of fake news on the internet and cyber security risks in Viet Nam.
This is the first time a Q&A session has been held during a meeting of the NASC.
The number of Facebook accounts in Viet Nam currenly stands at about 45 million, out of a population of 95 million, meaning that one in two Vietnamese have an account. Vietnamese are also among the top 10 nationalities in terms of time spent watching Youtube clips. Google is consistently the country’s number one search engine.
Vietnamese authorites, however, do not control those international sites and cannot prevent the spread of inaccurate information,slander of Vietnamese leaders or fake news that provoke enmity and hatred among people, the minister said.
Such content, though deemed illegal by the Vietnamese Government, is lawfully allowed by the countries where those kind websites are headquartered, Tuan said, adding that it was difficult to ask those websites to remove such illigal content.
A new circular of the Ministry of Information and Communications that went into effect in February allows the ministry to take “technical measures” against any crossborder information providers should they fail to co-operate with the authorities to remove the illegal content in question.
“By April 2017 we had worked with Youtube to delete 1,500 clips containing illegal content. We will also work with a Facebook leader regarding the issue later this month,” Tuan said. “However, these are all short-term solutions. In the long term, we need Vietnamese companies to develop our own plaforms that are capable of replacing those international websites.”
Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam said that Viet Nam should seek more co-operation with information providers to work out a win-win solution regarding such illegal content. “But we also need to provide true information to fight against the spins. It should be sufficient, timely and posted on the very websites that spread the false content,” he said.
On another issue discussed by lawmakers, the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs reported that it had been reviewing policies designed for people who made significant contributions to the cause of national revolution, said minister Dao Ngoc Dung in the morning Q&A session.
The country has recognised over nine million revolutionary contributors, making up nearly 10 per cent of the total population. More than 1.4 million revolutionary contributors and their families are receiving monthly allowances, he noted.
The ministry reviewed the list in 2014 and 2015, and found around 28,500 cases of self-claimed contributors who had not received benefits. However, Minister Dung said the verification of those cases faces difficulties due to lack of documents as evidence, which is also the biggest problem in this field.
According to the minister, inspections so far also revealed the misapplication of preferential policies in 1,872 cases.
Regarding preparations for the 70th anniversary of the War Invalids and Martyrs Day (July 27), Dung said various activities will be held to mark the event, including a meeting in Ha Noi, a national conference to honour people who rendered services to the revolution, and commemorative and incense-offering ceremonies at cemeteries of fallen soldiers nationwide. 

Hai Phong intensifies investment promotion


The Investment, Trade and Tourism Promotion Centre in Hai Phong city on April 18 held a conference to promote investment and launch the website www.hppc.gov.vn.
The centre’s director Le Tri Vu said that the website was designed to provide information about the northern port city’s socio-economic affairs and its potential, strengths and policies in investment, trade and tourism for domestic and foreign enterprises.
At the conference, the centre signed contracts with the Transport Engineering Construction and Mechanics Joint Stock Company, Nam Dinh Vu Investment JSC, Hai Phong VSIP limited company and Shinec JSC.
The parties will coordinate in organising seminars and programmes to promote investment, aiming to attract 5 billion USD in 180 projects, with a goal of 40 projects worth 1.8 billion USD in the 2017-2018 period.
The centre also inked a memorandum of understanding on a 450 million USD credit with the Bank for Foreign Trade of Vietnam (Vietcombank) – South Hai Phong branch in order to support 20 ongoing projects in the city.
Director of the North Vietnam Investment Promotion Centre Pham Vu Hai said that the centre will help the Hai Phong centre connect with investors, investment promotion centres of other localities, embassies, and foreign organisations, while supporting it in holding investment promotion activities and improving the city’s business and investment environment.

Binh Thuan should raise tourism’s stake in local economy: PM


The south central province of Binh Thuan needs to fully tap its tourism potential and increase this industry’s proportion in the local GDP to at least 15 percent, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc told provincial officials on April 18.
Home to a nearly-200km-long coast, Binh Thuan boasts warm climate, clean beaches, beautiful landscapes, including Mui Ne – a leading tourist destination of Vietnam, and favourable transport.
Tourism accounts for 8.26 percent of the province’s gross regional domestic product (GRDP) at present. 
Binh Thuan welcomed over 4.52 million tourists in 2016, earning 9.04 trillion VND (397.48 million USD). In the first quarter of 2017, the tourist number rose 8.9 percent year on year, generating nearly 2.77 trillion VND (121.7 million USD) in tourism revenue – up 17.4 percent from a year earlier.
At the working session in the province, PM Phuc said Binh Thuan has yet to fully capitalise on its tourism potential. This sector hasn’t received appropriate investment while the number of foreign visitors is still low.
Representatives of some ministries and central agencies also underscored the local sea-based economic potential, especially tourism.
They said if transport infrastructure is developed in a modern and synchronous manner, there are many opportunities to turn tourism into a spearhead industry in Binh Thuan in the near future. 
They asked the province to pay attention to human resources training and better mechanisms and policies to attract investment, thereby improving infrastructure and creating more interesting and quality tourism products. By doing so, it could soon become a strong tourism brand name of Vietnam.
In 2016, the province posted a GRDP growth rate of 7.42 percent and per capita GRDP of 40.3 million VND (over 1,770 USD). Among key projects in Binh Thuan, the Phu Lac wind power plant with a total capacity of 24MW has been operational.
PM Phuc applauded the province’s achievements while pointing out certain problems, including a shortage of economic driving forces, high household poverty rate, modest application of high technology in agriculture, high rate of agricultural labourers, and low provincial competitiveness.
In the mid-term, Binh Thuan should focus on tourism, processing industry and agriculture, especially hi-tech agriculture, he stressed.
He asked local officials to improve development plans, particularly those for coastal areas, and diversify investment sources. It needs to facilitate entrepreneurship so as to have more than 7,000 businesses by 2020.
The Government leader also requested renewable and non-renewable energy to be harmonised during economic development. He encouraged the province to strive to take the lead in the renewable energy industry in Vietnam.
Additionally, it is necessary to associate sea-based economic activities with sea and island sovereignty protection, he said, adding that fishermen need more support to modernise their fishing vehicles and develop fisheries logistics services, helping to safeguard the marine sovereignty.
During his working trip to Binh Thuan, PM Phuc attended a ceremony to start the construction of a hi-tech agricultural complex in Song Binh commune of Bac Binh district. The 3.9 trillion VND complex, covering 800ha, is set to plant short-term trees, farm dairy and beef cattle, and produce milk products.

Lao Cai, Yunnan seek sustainable border development


Solutions to achieve sustainable development for border areas of Vietnam’s Lao Cai and China’s Yunnan provinces were the focus of a workshop held in Hanoi in April 18.
President of the Vietnam Social Science Academy Nguyen Quang Thuan said the Lao Cai-Yunnan border area has many advantages as the key gate for linkages between Vietnam’s northern mountainous region and China’s southwest region.
Dr. Nguyen Dinh Liem from the Institute of China Research laid stress on the area’s role as the bridge of the Two Corridors-One Belt, connecting the markets of Vietnam, China and the ASEAN.
Lao Cai and Yunnan are concentrating their resources on building the Lao Cai-Hekou international border gates to meet the demands of goods transit between Vietnam, China and ASEAN countries.
At the same time, the two localities are investing in expanding their border economic zones. The Kim Thanh trade-industrial economic zone at Lao Cao border gate and the Beishan economic zone at Hekou are gradually developed into a cross-border economic zone to attract more investment and trade.
Participants shared their ideas on how to develop the border area, while calling on the State to assist with the development through suitable policies.
Lao Cai and Yunnan share 184km of border line, with 131km along rivers.

Vietnamese, Chinese auto spare part manufacturers meet


Vietnamese and Chinese firms operating in heavy-duty automobile spare parts met at a seminar in Hanoi on April 18 to seek partnership opportunities. 
Pham Quang Thinh, deputy head of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI)’s Department of International Relations, said the event affords both sides a chance to introduce their manufacturing capacity, learn about respective markets and find partners. 
Liu Chang Yong, Chairman of the Association of Heavy-duty Automobile Spare Parts of Jinan city, the Chinese province of Shandong, said the association currently counts more than 500 member enterprises which ship products to over 100 countries worldwide and earn tens of billions of USD. 
According to the General Department of Vietnam Customs, two-way trade between Vietnam and China neared 70 billion USD last year, nearly 20 billion of which was Vietnam’s export. 
By the end of March 2017, China invested in more than 1,500 projects worth around 11 billion USD in Vietnam, mostly in the fields of processing, industrial manufacturing and mining. 
The Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Heavy Industry Department forecast that the domestic demand for automobiles could amount to over 600,000 units per year in 2015. 
Last year, 400 businesses designed and assembled about 460,000 units per year. The automobile manufacturing and assembling sector expands nearly 17 percent annually. 
A strategy to develop domestic automobile industry until 2025 with a vision to 2035 has been approved by the Prime Minister, with incentives regarding credit, demand stimulation, and investment studies being outlined.

Deputy PM meets BNP Paribas executives over equitisation


Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue and ministry and sector leaders had a working session with the managing board of the Paris-based BNP Paribas bank on equitisation and divestment in Hanoi on April 18.
Head of BNP Paribas for the Asia-Pacific region Christian De Charnace said his bank has participated in consulting many privatization deals of State-owned enterprises in France and is the consultant for Vietnamese low-budget Vietjet Air’s IPO. 
He gave advice on how to evaluate State-owned enterprises; strategic investors; the role of consultants in State-owned enterprise equitisation; classification of shares; among others.

 

Deputy PM Hue regards the recommendations as significant to the Vietnamese Government in making and refining policies and laws pertaining to equitisation and divestment.
He expressed his hope that the bank stands ready to provide consultancy for the Vietnamese Government, ministries, and sectors in related fields.
Up to 96 percent of State-owned enterprises have been equitized but only 8 percent of State capital was sold to the public, said Hue.

Nokia: Hanoi & HCMC welcoming of new ideas


Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City are among the Top 10 cities in the world in absorbing new ideas, Mr. Harard Preiss, Director of Nokia North Asia, said at the recent launch of the company's "The Smart City Playbook" on April 12.

He added that this is a sign that these cities are ready to apply new technology in collaboration with network operators and ministries such as the Ministry of Information and Communications (MoIC) to deploy smart cities.

A challenge for Vietnam in building a smart city, he went on, is identifying priority sectors. Vietnam is beginning the construction of smart cities around the country and it is important to identify prioritized options when implementing the plan.

“The Smart City Playbook” is a report that recognizes the optimal approach for smart cities. Although it did not mention Vietnam, a representative from Nokia said that research on the strategies and development of 22 cities around the world will provide specific guidance to Vietnamese leaders.

These strategies have been successfully applied in many cities in the process of building smarter, safer, and more sustainable cities and will be useful for Vietnam.

The report identified three routes to support countries like Vietnam in developing smart cities safely and sustainably.

With the “anchor” route, the city first chooses to deploy a single application to solve an urgent issue, such as traffic congestion, then gradually expands to other applications.

With the “foundation” route, cities construct the necessary infrastructure to support applications and smart services in various sectors.

Another route is “Beta city”, with the city deploying multiple applications at the same time to test their effects before deploying in the long term.

“There is a tendency to move factories from other countries to Vietnam and the Philippines,” said Mr. Danial Mausoof, Director of Marketing and External Relations at Nokia Asia Pacific & Japan. “Vietnam is also very respectful of industry and can therefore consider it a priority area for smart city development.”

The Vietnamese Government has been turning the concept of a smart city into a national priority, encouraging domestic and international companies to work together to support the plan.

At the same time, the Internet of Things (IoT) as well as Industry 4.0 are also considered great opportunities to promote the development of the country as well as the development of intelligent cities.

Initially, 15 cities were oriented towards smart cities, including Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Hai Phong, and Da Nang. The big question, however, is how to build a smart city.

“Nokia can help the government, through the MoIC, to develop appropriate policies and strategies or share lessons learned in building smart cities,” Mr. Preiss.

Ba Huan opens poultry egg packaging plant in Hanoi


Ba Huan Company inaugurated a high-tech poultry egg packaging plant covering two hectares in Hanoi’s outlying district of Phuc Tho on April 15.
The VND100 billion (US$4.4 million) facility has a designed capacity of 65,000 eggs per hour. It uses automated egg packaging equipment supplied by the Netherlands’ Moba Group, which specializes in egg grading, packaging and processing machinery.
Thanks to advanced technology, eggs are processed and sterilized to meet international standards for food safety and hygiene.
The plant also has cold storage facilities for processed food such as hot dogs and sausages transferred from HCM City to the country’s north for sale.
The company also supplies traditionally salted and preserved eggs for the northern market.
The company has an 18-hectare farm with one million poultry, a feed processing facility with an hourly capacity of 20 tons, a two-hectare poultry egg packaging plant with a capacity of 185,000 eggs an hour in HCM City, and a five-hectare food processing plant with a daily capacity of 50 tons.

KDB urged to encourage RoK firms to invest in Vietnam


Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has expressed his belief that the Korea Development Bank (KDB), with its prestige, scale and experience in the Republic of Korea (RoK), would continue encouraging more RoK firms to invest in Vietnam.
While receiving KDB CEO and Chairman Lee Dong-geol in Hanoi on April 17, PM Phuc spoke highly of KDB’s expansion of cooperation with commercial banks in Vietnam as well as its continued implementation of investment projects in the country.
He stressed Vietnam and the RoK have enjoyed a close relationship in various fields such as politics, diplomacy, economy, investment, trade and banking, adding that RoK-invested projects have been successfully carried out in Vietnam.
Vietnam expects to welcome more RoK enterprises, PM Phuc said, noting that this would create favourable conditions for the KDB to expand operations in the country.
Lee informed his host that the KDB has so far invested about 8 billion USD in Vietnam and the bank is planning to embark on a number of projects in the coming time.
He highly evaluated Vietnam’s potential for economic growth and affirmed that the KDB wants to contribute more to Vietnam’s socio-economic development.

Over 100 businesses to be named at top national services award


The 2016 Vietnam Top Trade Services award, which will hounour 103 outstanding firms and individuals, will take place in Hanoi on April 22.
The recipients operate in 11 sectors, with Vietnam committed to opening these markets since the country joined the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in 2007.
Businesses nominated for the award this year are not only found in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City but also rural provinces such as Cao Bang, Kon Tum and Lam Dong. These firms have made significant contributions to a number of national campaigns, including the “Vietnamese people prioritise Vietnamese goods” and the “Goods introduction to rural areas”.
Nguyen Huu Quy, deputy head of the award organising board, noted, apart from revenue and profit, a key criterion for winning is earnings yield.
The board said after four months of collecting submissions, it received more than 400 nominations from provincial-level people’s committees and departments for industry and trade, business associations, and individuals. 
Of the total, 95 enterprises and 36 businessmen met all criteria set by the board and were eligible for the award.
WTO membership has contributed to boosting Vietnam’s exports by 3.5 times, from 48.6 billion USD in 2007 to 176.6 billion USD in 2016.

Official: Vietnam has yet to export live poultry to Saudi Arabia


BUSINESS IN BRIEF 20/4



Saudi Arabia’s temporary ban on the imports of live birds, hatching eggs and chicks from Vietnam over concerns about avian flu has no effect on the nation as it has not exported live poultry to any country yet, an official said on April 17.
The official of the Department of Animal Health under Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Department (MARD), made the confirmation after the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on April 16 that the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture of Saudi Arabia has temporarily banned imports of live birds, hatching eggs and chicks from Vietnam over concerns about avian flu.
Currently, only one Vietnamese company is planning to export processed chicken to Japan. This enterprise has built a chicken slaughtering and processing in southern Dong Nai province, the official added.
The SPA quoted Director General of Department of Animal and Plant Quarantine Osama bin Abdullah Al-Saleh as saying that the ban was based on a warning issued by the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH).
Previously on March 26, the Ministry announced the suspension of imports of poultry products, hatching eggs and chicks from Tennessee after a form of bird flu highly lethal to poultry was found in the US state.
That ban was also issued after a WOAH warning and will remain in place until it is certain that they are free from the disease.
According to the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, in March, two flocks were found to be infected with H7N9, the state's first infection of bird flu in more than a year.

WB helps Vietnam improve energy efficiency in industry


The World Bank (WB) in Vietnam announced on April 17 that the bank’s Board of Executive Directors had approved a 102 million USD loan to the Vietnamese Government to support enterprises in adopting energy-efficiency technologies and practices.
Under this project, industrial enterprises can access new credit to fund their purchases of energy efficiency and production-optimisation technologies, thus reducing energy consumption and production costs and increasing their overall competitiveness in the domestic and international markets.
With the support of the project, financial institutions and enterprises will be able to prepare, evaluate and appraise energy efficiency projects. Financial institutions can provide loans to support industrial energy efficiency investments, which will enable them to scale up energy efficiency lending to industries.
“We are committed to support Vietnam’s drive to meet its future energy demand, and improving energy efficiency is the single best and cheapest option, because it will help consumers save energy and reduce the need for new thermal power generation, while also reducing pollution and mitigating the risks of climate change,” said Ousmane Dione, the World Bank’s Country Director for Vietnam. “If stronger programs and policies are put in place, businesses would also have the incentive to cut down on wasteful practices and adopt more energy-efficient technologies.”
Funding under this project will be provided to participating financial institutions, which will then lend to industrial enterprises to invest in energy-efficient subprojects.-

Saudi Arabia asks meat exporters to register online


Saudi Arabia has urged Vietnamese exporters of meat and seafood products to register their companies with product information on its Food and Drug Authority website.
On the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s website, its department of African, Western and Southern Asian markets has stated that the ministry received a note regarding the registrations from the Embassy of Saudi Arabia on March 31.
Saudi Arabia recommends that Vietnamese food export firms register information via the link: sfda.gov.sa/ar/food/eservices/Pages/FERS1.aspx, the MoIT said on its website on Monday.
The Middle Eastern kingdom said registration is compulsory for all firms that export food and drug products to the country so as to facilitate the export process.
Saudi Arabia is working to improve its monitoring process with regards to food hygiene and safety of imported products. 

Lam Dong enterprises connected to SME development fund


The People’s Committee of the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong and the Small & Medium Enterprise Development Fund launched a connectivity programme in the locality on April 14. 
More than 200 local small and medium-sized enterprises were introduced to the fund, and how to access its financial support. 
Many SMEs expressed interest in the fund’s assistance for start-ups and the use of greenhouses as collateral for loans. 
Vice Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Nguyen Van Yen said the province currently records 6,447 businesses with a total registered capital of nearly 61 trillion VND (2.65 billion USD), including 917 new firms established in 2016. 
He said the average annual revenue of local firm is more than 10 billion VND (434,000 USD) and over 53 percent of businesses earn profit. 
Thanks to strength in agriculture and tourism services, Lam Dong leads the country in high-tech agricultural production with more than 40,000ha and an average earning of 800 million VND – 1 billion VND each ha per year.

Japan commends Vietnam’s business climate


Approximately 1,600 Japanese firms are operating in Vietnam as a result of the country’s efforts to improve investment climate, said Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida.
He made the remark at a meeting with visiting Vietnamese Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyen Chi Dung in Tokyo on April 14.
Highlighting that the Vietnam – Japan relationship is at its best ever, Kishida asked the Vietnamese side to continue helping Japanese investors by removing outstanding obstacles and difficulties.
Agreeing with his host on the development of bilateral ties, Minister Dung stressed that the changing global situation is creating challenges along with opportunities for both nations. 
He said his ongoing visit to Japan aims to convey the Vietnamese Government’s appreciation for the support and cooperation from Japan, particularly its business community.
Vietnam wants to share new visions and orientations with Japan for the development of the bilateral comprehensive strategic partnership, the official added.
Japan is currently Vietnam’s second biggest foreign investor with 3,355 projects worth 42.49 billion USD.  Most of these projects belong to the sectors of manufacturing-processing, real estate, and electricity and water supply.

Seminar discusses solutions for business survival


Economists and entrepreneurs discussed solutions for businesses to survive in a changeable world at a seminar in Ho Chi Minh City on April 15.
Vu Tien Loc, Chairman of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), was optimistic about opportunities for firms this year in light of the ongoing recovery of the global economy. 
He said the Vietnamese government will continue delivering on its global integration commitments this year, including hosting the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit and executing signed free trade agreements.
However, he also expressed concern over the return of nationalism and trade protectionism triggered by the public debt crisis in several European countries, the migration wave from the Middle East and Africa, the UK’s exit from the European Union (EU), and the US’s new economic policy, noting that the trend would hurt global trade freedom and export-reliant developing countries like Vietnam. 
Sharing his view, Associate Professor Vu Minh Khuong from the National University of Singapore (NUS) said a stable export growth, good prospects of tourism and consumption services along with improved business climate are bright spots in Vietnam’s economic landscape. 
At the same time, the global economic instability, changes in economic policies, and risks in the new context will pose challenges to Vietnamese firms. 
In such a situation, experts underscored the need for businesses to have a sound governance system, a sharp vision and quick strategic moves to grasp new opportunities and manage risks. 
Loc urged policymakers to assist the upgrade of operating firms besides promoting startups. 
 The seminar was co-organised by the University of Economics and Law under the Vietnam National University – Ho Chi Minh City and the Paris Graduate School of Management.

Conference discusses economic growth in Vietnam


The Mekong Times, under the Vietnam-Laos-Cambodia Association for Economic Cooperation Development (VILACAED), organised a conference on measures to boost Vietnam’s economy in 2017 in the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho on April 15.
The discussion brought together authorities, State agencies and businesses from 13 Mekong Delta provinces and cities. 
Speakers of the conference, including economic experts and policy-makers, talked various topics related to small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), including the fourth scientific revolution, global market fluctuations in 2017, and new generation free trade agreements.
They fielded questions from participants on preparations for global integration, which could help them reduce risks and consolidate their foothold.
Nguyen Hoang Dung, Research & Development Director at the Ho Chi Minh institute of economics and management, said to seize opportunities and overcome challenges created by the implementation of free trade agreements, Vietnam should strive to reach the average level of national competitiveness of Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore by 2020 and to be among top 30 global competitive economies by 2030.
He listed a number of solutions to realise these goals, including boosting the implementation of the Government’s Resolution No 19 and No. 35 on supporting business development, completing the legal framework for trade and business competition, and enhancing the enforcement of business law.
Participants focused their discussion on SMEs-related State policies, capital sources, human resources, and technology, among others.

BIDV asked to help expand investment abroad


Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has asked the Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam (BIDV) to continue taking the pioneer role in supporting businesses to expand investment abroad, especially in Laos and Cambodia, and become a leading commercial bank in the region.
Speaking at a ceremony in Hanoi on April 15 to mark the bank’s 60th founding anniversary, the PM said that BIDV must consider the assistance as an international mission, helping speed up Vietnam’s global integration and enhance the country’s prestige in the region and the world, initially in Laos, Cambodia and Russia.
The ceremony was attended by former Party General Secretary Le Kha Phieu, former National Assembly Chairman Nguyen Sinh Hung, and Lao National Assembly Chairwoman Pany Yathotou, among others. 
He urged the bank to actively and effectively engage in the reform of credit institutions, whose focus is settling bad debts and banks with poor performance, in the role as the largest joint stock commercial bank in the country.
At the same time, the bank should continue renovating and improving its financial management, operational effectiveness and competitiveness, thus entering the list of top 25 largest commercial banks in ASEAN.
Learning that BIDV’s current charter capital of about 1.5 billion USD is lower than that of many regional banks, he asked the bank to increase its financial capacity and take it as a priority task.
Along with making the best use of information technology to take advantage of the fourth industrial revolution, BIDV should improve its management and governance capacity towards international standards, while simplifying procedures to enable capital access for lenders, he asked.
BIDV was also requested to ensure a capital source for socio-economic development programmes as well as major national projects and prioritized sectors such as agriculture, high tech industries, export, support industry, while supporting startups and small and medium-sized enterprises.
As one of the oldest credit institutions of Vietnam, BIDV’s initial missions include providing capital to national projects serving the national recovery and construction.
The bank’s asset has mounted to 1 quadrillion VND, with over 1,000 branches and transaction offices with over 25,000 employees. Annually, the bank contributes 5 trillion VND to the State budget. It has become the first bank to invest abroad in six countries, including Laos and Cambodia. 
At the ceremony, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc presented the Labour Order, first class, to the bank.
On the occasion, BIDV was honoured with Laos’s Independence Order, first class, and Cambodia’s Monisaraphon Medal, Moha Seruivanth class.

Domestic logistics firm looking to increase competitiveness


Domestic logistics providers, such as TBS Logistics, Transimex Saigon, Gemadept, Sotrans, and SNP Logistics, and hundreds of others, gathered on April 14 in Ho Chi Minh City to find ways to cooperate and increase their competitiveness.
According to Le Duy Hiep, chairman of Vietnam Logistics Association (VLA), increasing their competitiveness and finding more efficient cooperation methods among logistics providers is a must in recent times.
”The government has assigned VLA to implement the National Action Plan to improve the logistics sector by 2025 and many solutions were mapped out,” Hiep said.
In February this year, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc approved the action plan aiming to increase the contribution of the logistics sector to the country’s GDP to 8-10 per cent from the current three, with annual growth of 15-20 per cent by 2025.
The plan also targets to make Vietnam one of the world’s 50 leading logistics service providers.
”The aim is to have logistics companies that can be competitive both in the domestic and the international markets and enhance Vietnam’s connectivity with neighbouring countries and develop a regional and international logistics hub,” Hiep said.
The plan will also set up level 1 logistics hubs (the highest level) in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, and level 2 logistic centres in Lang Son, Lao Cai, Haiphong, Danang, Quy Nhon, and Can Tho.
The Vietnamese logistics sector has been budding since the 1990s. According to the World Bank’s 2014 Logistics Performance Index, Vietnam stood at the 48th out of the total of 153 ranked countries.
The country now has more than 3,000 firms in the sector. More than 70 per cent of these businesses are small and medium-sized.
“Vietnamese logistics firms must utilise their advantages, such as the knowledge about the domestic market, owning infrastructure facilities, such as ports, storage warehouses, customs declaration, and many others. The action plan would provide short- and mid-term solutions to improve the logistics sector in the next seven or eight years,” Hiep added.

Saudi Arabia suspends live poultry import from Vietnam over bird flu


The Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture of Saudi Arabia has temporarily banned imports of live birds, hatching eggs and chicks from Vietnam over concerns about avian flu.
The Saudi Press Agency quoted Director General of Department of Animal and Plant Quarantine Osama bin Abdullah Al-Saleh as saying that the ban was based on a warning issued by the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH).
Previously on March 26, the Ministry announced the suspension of imports of poultry products, hatching eggs and chicks from Tennessee after a form of bird flu highly lethal to poultry was found in the US state.
That ban was also issued after a WOAH warning and will remain in place until it is certain that they are free from the disease.
According to the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, in March two flocks were found to be infected with H7N9, the state's first infection of bird flu in more than a year.

Techcombank to raise charter capital by 5 trillion VND


The Vietnam Technological and Commercial Joint Stock Bank (Techcombank) will raise its charter capital by 5 trillion VND (220 million USD) to nearly 14 trillion VND (616 million USD) this year through selling shares.
The decision was made at the shareholders’ annual meeting on April 15.
Ho Hung Anh, Chairman of Techcombank’s board of directors, said the charter capital needs to be increased to help the bank improve its financial strength, size and competitiveness.
In 2017, Techcombank aims to hit consolidated pre-tax profit of 5.02 trillion VND (220.88 million USD) and total asset value of 279.017 trillion VND (12.27 billion USD), up 26 percent and 19 percent from a year earlier respectively.
It also wants 31-percent growth in mobilised capital to 227.133 trillion VND (9.99 billion USD) and another 16-percent rise in outstanding loans to 181.067 trillion VND (7.96 billion USD) by the end of this year.
The bank also hopes to keep the rate of bad debt at less than two percent.
In 2016, it posted pre-tax profits of 3.997 trillion VND (175.86 million USD), soaring by 96.2 percent from the previous year and 13 percent from targets.
Techcombank mobilised 173.449 trillion VND (7.63 billion USD) and recorded outstanding credit of 159.01 trillion VND (6.99 billion USD) by the end of last year, up 21.9 percent and 24.8 percent year on year.
The bad debt rate was cut to 1.57 percent from 1.67 percent in 2015.

Pressure expected on dollar-đồng exchange rate


On April 11 the State Bank of Việt Nam decided to increase the rate of the US dollar it buys from credit institutions by VNĐ100 to VNĐ22,675.
The selling price was pushed to the prescribed ceiling.
The dollar’s value against the đồng, which had been steady for a while, has been on an upward trend recently.
A report by the National Financial Supervision Committee says the exchange rate showed signs of decreasing in January, but has increased steadily since mid-February and nearly reached the ceiling rate fixed by the State Bank of Việt Nam.
This upward trend has continued in April and the central bank had to raise its central rate by VNĐ5 to VNĐ22,316 to the dollar, up VNĐ175 or 0.7 per cent from late last year.
Following this, banks fixed their dollar selling price at VNĐ22,710-22,720.
One of the prominent economic happenings globally in recent times has been the appreciation of the greenback, which has affected most countries including Việt Nam.
The dollar has risen steadily as the US Federal Reserve has been continuously hiking the interest rate.
On March 15 the FED raised the rate by 25 basis points to 1 per cent, the second hike in three months, and expects to effect two more hikes this year and three next year.
In the face of the appreciation of the dollar, many countries will continue to devalue their currencies to support their exports.
Since Việt Nam’s public debts have been growing at a rate three times faster than its economic growth the Government has made herculean efforts not to devalue the đồng.
But this has been threatening to make the country’s exports uncompetitive, and so finally the Government has begun to act, tweaking the đồng’s value a few days ago.
Analysts said the exchange rate is affected not only by the dollar’s appreciation but also by other factors, domestic and global.
The flow of foreign exchange into Việt Nam this year is expected to be modest because from July this year the country will no longer get preferential loans in the form of official development assistance (ODA) since it has become a middle-income country. 
Instead, the country would get preferential loans and, gradually, market-based financing.
A Central Economic Committee official said the low interest rate in the Vietnamese inter-bank market also contributed to putting pressure on the exchange rate.
The rate sometimes dropped to under 1 per cent.
These moves encouraged credit institutions to hoard the greenback, thus creating a shortage in the market, putting pressure on the exchange rate.
The rising inflation in recent months brought back fears about the robustness of the đồng, bringing more pressure on the exchange rate.
In the first two months of the year prices rose by 4.96 per cent year-on-year.
Rising imports combined with sluggish export growth sent the country’s trade deficit soaring in the first three months of the year to US$1.9 billion, or 4.4 per cent of exports.
The larger trade deficit also had an impact on the exchange rate, experts said.

BIDV asked to help expand Vietnamese investments abroad


Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc has asked the Bank for Investment and Development of Việt Nam (BIDV) to continue its pioneering role in supporting business investment abroad, especially in Laos and Cambodia, and becoming a leading commercial bank in the region. 
Speaking at a ceremony in Hà Nội on Saturday to mark the bank’s 60th founding anniversary, the PM said BIDV must consider assistance to companies as an international mission, helping speed up Việt Nam’s global integration and enhance its prestige, initially in Laos, Cambodia and Russia. 
The ceremony was attended by former Party General Secretary Lê Khả Phiêu, former National Assembly Chairman Nguyễn Sinh Hùng, and Lao National Assembly Chairwoman Pany Yathotou, among others. 
He urged the bank to engage in the reform of credit institutions, whose focus is settling bad debts and banks with poor performance, as the largest joint stock commercial bank in the country. 
At the same time, the bank should continue renovating and improving its financial management, operational effectiveness and competitiveness, thus entering the list of top 25 largest commercial banks in ASEAN. 
Learning that BIDV’s current charter capital of about US$1.5 billion is lower than that of many regional banks, he asked the bank to increase its financial capacity and make that a priority. 
Along with making the best use of information technology to take advantage of the fourth industrial revolution, BIDV should improve its management and governance capacity towards international standards, while simplifying procedures to enable capital access for lenders, he asked. 
BIDV was also requested to ensure capital for socio-economic development programmes as well as major national projects and prioritised sectors, such as agriculture, high tech industries, export, support industry, while supporting startups and small and medium-sized enterprises. 
The bank’s assets have grown to VNĐ1 quadrillion, with over 1,000 branches and transaction offices with over 25,000 employees. Annually, the bank contributes VNĐ5 trillion to the State budget. It has become the first bank to invest abroad in six countries, including Laos and Cambodia. 
At the ceremony, PM Phúc presented the Labour Order first class to the bank. 
On the occasion, BIDV was honoured with Laos’ Independence Order, first class, and Cambodia’s Monisaraphon Medal, Moha Seruivanth class.

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