Tra fish exports enjoy robust growth to UK, Singapore
Despite Vietnam’s Tra fish (pangasius) exports to major export markets suffering negative growth, there has been strong signs of growth to both the UK and Singaporean markets in the first half of the year, according to the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP).
VASEP attributed the general sharp decline of local Tra fish exports to the negative impact caused by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in ten major markets during the six-month period. The export value of the fish in the first half of June alone decreased by 29.8% to US$612.3 million against the same period from last year.
Despite this slump, both Singapore and the UK represent two rare export markets that have been able to maintain positive growth even during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Most notably, the first half of June saw the export value of pangasius to Singapore, the country’s second largest export market for Tra fish in ASEAN, enjoy a surge of 5.7% to US$18.5 million against the same period last year. Meanwhile, Tra fish exports to the UK market also enjoyed an annual rise of 7.1% to US$28.6 million.
After recording positive growth during the previous three months until May, the export value to China (Hong Kong), the United States, ASEAN, and the EU markets all experienced on-year declines of 11.3%, 51.2%, 57.6%, and 36.2%, respectively.
Pangasius exports to the EU market in the first half of June just raked in US$64.6 million, with the total value to the bloc’s three largest export markets, the Netherlands, Germany, and Spain, decreasing by 32.7%, 37.1%, and 16.7%, respectively.
Binh Dinh locals to act as ambassadors to promote tourism
A campaign to call for Binh Dinh’s locals to act as ambassadors to promote the province’s tourism took place on July 8.
Binh Dinh’s tourism sector has carried out several measures to boost tourism while local travel agencies have well prepared to bring tourists unforgettable experiences during this summer.
Ninh Binh diversifying tourism products
Kayaking, hovering above Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex in a helicopter, and exploring the night-time in Cuc Phuong National Park count among the many new tourism products the northern province of Ninh Binh has introduced to attract tourists.
They needn’t be too skilled to steer the kayak and a team of lifeguards is always on standby. Tourists are free to go wherever they please, to spots such as Hanh Cung Vu Lam Temple, for example, which is a three-hour round-trip.
Trang An’s management board recently introduced helicopter tours over the complex.
The helicopter flies and hovers at low altitudes, just 150 to 200 meters above the ground, providing a “bird’s-eye view” on ten-minute trips over wild and majestic beauty.
New FDI wave set to bring both challenges and opportunities
This comes after the Politburo for the first time issued a separate resolution on foreign investment attraction, Resolution 50 /NQ-TW dated August 20, 2019, relating to orientations aimed at fine-tuning institutions and policies, whilst improving quality and efficiency of foreign investment co-operation until 2030.
By moving to attract greater foreign investment for socio-economic development, this indicates that the country truly regards foreign investment as an important component of the national economy.
During an annual Vietnam Business Forum held in January, Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyen Chi Dung summarised the achievements of FDI enterprises recorded in 2019, with disbursed capital reaching US$20.4 billion, setting the highest ever record whilst simultaneously totaling registered capital of over US$38 billion, the highest figure within the past 10 years.
The event saw business associations from the United States, the Republic of Korea, Japan, the UK, Australia, India, and the European Business Association in Vietnam affirm their commitment to long-term development in the Vietnamese market. In addition, they contributed ideas regarding the development of the legal environment, infrastructure facilities, and talent attraction in an effort to boost innovation for the country’s sustainable economic growth.
Despite these intentions, the first half of the year has seen the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic have a profound effect on the global economy as economic forecasts all paint a gloomy picture with a negative growth outlook in many major powers across the globe.
According to the International Monetary Fund’s World Economic Outlook Report in Q1 of 2020, it is anticipated that the global economy will fall by 3% this year as a result of the pandemic, making it far more serious compared to the 2008 financial crisis.
Moving forward from the initial shock of the global pandemic, many countries and major economic groups have learnt valuable lessons from their experience. One of these is the need to diversify supplies while avoiding becoming dependent on an economy or country to minimise the risk to their own supply chain.
This therefore presents a rare golden opportunity for developing economies such as Vietnam. The nation’s success in containing the COVID-19 pandemic and drastic policies implemented to revive the national economy have been capturing the attention of foreign financiers and major global economic groups, with many questioning if Vietnam is ready for a fresh wave of investment.
Whilst the country enjoys outstanding competitive advantages such as political stability, a large consumption market, an innovative government, and an abundant labour force with competitive costs compared to other countries in the region, investors remain concerned about the instability of policies.
Furthermore, there are worries about factors such as unclear legal regulations, a general lack of transparency, poor logistic infrastructure, and limited high-quality human resources, all of which can cause headaches for investors during the implementation process.
There exists objective challenges which need more time and financial resources to comprehensively address, but there are also subjective challenges that must be dealt with, of which management agencies and FDI enterprises have shown a high determination and a close degree of co-operation.
Some of the leading issues that financiers remain concerned about are the stability of tax policies, the suitability of the nation’s accounting standards in line with international standards, transparency in the implementation of legal regulations on tax, accounting, and investment protection measures.
One hurdle is that almost all firms have no opportunity to lodge claims against decisions or conclusions of tax inspectors before local tax authorities apply coercive measures such as blocking accounts or neutralising VAT invoices.
Major FDI enterprises such as Unilever or Sabeco once sought assistance from the Prime Minister to halt coercive measures from tax or auditing authorities in an effort to avoid facing a detrimental impact on their business operations.
BG Container Glass of Thailand plans to purchase local solar farms
Information regarding the deal was unveiled in an article published on the prestigious Thai news website the Bangkok Post on July 9 with the company seeking fresh business opportunities in the renewable energy sector.
The firm therefore expects to conclude a deal during the year’s fourth quarter for at least two solar farms, with a combined capacity of between 50 and 100 megawatts, with an overall budget of between one billion and two billion baht set aside specifically for the purchases.
The article quotes Silparat Watthanakasetr, BGC chief executive, as saying that the company has plans to diversify its business and remains keen to invest in the field of renewable energy, with a specific focus on solar, wind, and water resources.
The BGC chief executive attributes his company’s shift in focus on renewable businesses in Vietnam, Japan, and Taiwan (China) to the high potential for renewable energy in the development plans of these countries, and growth in electricity demand.
BGC has initiated plans to increase its capacity for electricity generation to up to 400MW by 2022 with the company already acquiring solar farm in the nation, with a capacity of 67MW.
The company has allocated a total of between three billion and four billion baht for renewable energy and packaging businesses for the remainder of the year.
Thailand targets 100 smart cities
Thailand’s Digital Economy Promotion Agency (DEPA) has set a goal to have 100 smart cities nationwide to improve the economy and quality of life in line with the 20-year national strategy plan.
Cities in six provinces plus Bangkok have begun the process of transforming into smart cities. The provinces are Phuket, Chiang Mai, Khon Kaen, Chon Buri, Rayong and Chachoengsao.
The National Steering Committee on Smart City Development, chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon, has opened the application process to cities that want to join the scheme by submitting their proposals for evaluation and approval since May. A total of 39 cities have submitted proposals.
To get approval for smart city development, they must meet five criteria: have clear geographical boundaries and smart city goals; have infrastructure investment and a development plan; have a design for an open and secure city data platform; provide smart city solutions; and have a sustainable management model.
Approved cities are entitled to use the Smart City Thailand logo and are allowed to apply for investment privileges from the Board of Investment.
The characteristics of smart cities under the planned development cover seven smart city dimensions: economy, mobility, energy, living, people, governance and environment.
DEPA President and Chief Executive Nuttapon Nimmanphatcharin said the project is not limited to cities and could cover broad areas where there is potential to be developed under the smart city concept.
To pursue the project, city development companies involving state and private cooperation must be established to help move smart city schemes forward through private sector funding, he said.
The agency and the Department of Local Administration (DLA) recently signed a memorandum of understanding to pursue smart city development with an aim to enhance local management efficiency that can meet people’s needs.
According to Nuttapon, the goal of the smart city project is to answer diverse needs and distribute prosperity to citizens living in provincial areas. Smart cities are expected to help create jobs and boost the economy.
Soc Trang exports jump 26% despite pandemic
The Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta province of Soc Trang’s exports in the first six months of the year increased by 26 per cent year-on-year to US$470 million.
Seafood accounted for $332 million, a 24.8 per cent increase, and rice for $97 million, 2.2 times higher.
Vo Van Chieu, director of the provincial Department of Industry and Trade, said seafood exports had been sustained despite the difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic thanks to efforts to control it.
Vo Van Phuc, director of the Viet Nam Clean Fishery JSC, one of the biggest exporters in the province, said shrimp exports would increase by 50 per cent in July from the same period last year thanks to Viet Nam controlling the disease outbreak.
Businesses in Soc Trang have methodically invested, branded and built value chains, and so the province’s exports increased even when the export markets were plagued by difficulties.
The province has set this year’s export target of $900 million, $670 million from seafood.
To meet it, it encourages firms to expand markets, improve design and quality, and diversify products to meet various consumer demands.
Petrolimex sells 15 million treasury shares, earning $29 million
The Viet Nam National Petroleum Group (Petrolimex or PLX) has completed the sale of 15 million treasury shares, the group announced on Wednesday.
After the sale which was carried out from June 16 to July 2, Petrolimex has reduced the number of treasury shares from more than 103 million to some 88 million shares.
The average selling price was VND45,318 per share. The group collected nearly VND680 billion (US$29.3 million) from the sale.
Petrolimex (PLX) closed Wednesday at VND46,300 per share.
The group is aiming for consolidated revenue of VND122 trillion this year, down 35 per cent compared to 2019. Pre-tax profit is estimated at VND1.57 trillion, equal to 28 per cent of profit achieved in 2019.
In the first quarter of 2020, the group earned VND38.5 trillion of revenue and recorded a loss of VND1.8 billion.
Over 840.88 million USD raised via G-bonds auction
The State Treasury raised 19.5 trillion VND (840.88 million USD) via a recent auction of Government bonds (G-bonds) at the Hanoi Stock Exchange (HNX).
Interest rates of all bonds declined by 0.03 – 0.08 percent compared to the previous auctions.
The annual interest rates were 1.92 percent for the five-year, 2.87 percent for the 10-year, 3.06 percent for the 15-year, and 3.35 percent for the 20-year bonds.
Since the start of 2020, the total value of G-bonds hit more than 120.78 trillion VND, according to the HNX.
Vietnam urged to unlock potential for world-class healthcare
On July 7, KPMG Vietnam in conjunction with Pharma Group organised a dialogue to discuss the potential and challenges of Vietnam in unlocking world-class healthcare.
Titled “Unlocking world-class healthcare in Vietnam: the time is now”, the event attracted the participation of over 85 representatives from the government, embassies, and companies from startups to multinationals.
At this multi-stakeholder dialogue, experts discussed opportunities to realise the full potential of the healthcare sector in Vietnam, especially how to shape an enabling, predictable long-term business environment that in turn improve patient access and fully yield the value that the innovative pharmaceutical industry can bring.
Addressing short-term challenges in key legislations, for example the issues relating to Certificate of Pharmaceutical Product, Marketing Authorisation extension in the Circular guiding Drug Registration (Circular No. 32/2018/TT-BYT dated November 12, 2018) and ensuring the proper execution of existing regulations – such as the price negotiation mechanism for brand-name medicines as regulated in the Tender Circular (Circular No.15/2019/TT-BYT dated July 11, 2019) – will ensure opportunities are unlocked as fast as possible.
Also at the event, KPMG Vietnam has launched its latest report titled Value of Innovation which examined the current and potential benefits that the innovative pharmaceutical industry could bring to Vietnam.
Luke Treloar, director, Strategy, National Head of Healthcare & Life Science, said, “KPMG is excited and delighted to work on this exciting report. This industry touches all of our lives. Expanded access to cutting-edge medicines and quality care, and sustainable health financing will ensure that Vietnam meets its ambitious development goals.”
Vietnam has high potential for life sciences and healthcare in Vietnam which bring faster access to more innovative pharmaceutical products; increased employment; local pharma sector development; foster startup and entrepreneuship ecosystem; domestic research and development and clinical trials expertise development; and attracting more FDI and tax.
However, according to the KMPG report, the key challenges to Vietnam’s pharma sector development include a clear sectoral vision; clinical trials; local manufacturing; presence and technology transfer; education and workforce development; health financing; and access to innovative medicine.
The report said that the Vietnamese government should consider implementing targeted policies and reforms in a wide variety of areas, from investment incentives and legislation to education and training. Thus, the Government of Vietnam is well-positioned to promote growth in the economy through targeted and informed policies, and collaboration with industry stakeholders. These factors will be crucial in developing a dynamic and vibrant future for both the industry and the nation as a whole.
The report also suggested key policies for the Southeast Asian country in the coming years, including continuing to prioritise the pharmaceutical industry on a national level; establishment of a comprehensive legal and regulatory framework and dedicated support institutions; introducing incentives to drive investments into the industry; increasing emphasis on industry-focused education and training; promoting health innovation and improving health financing.
Nitin Kapoor, Pharma Group vice chairman, noted that, “Pharma Group members fully endorse key conclusions from the report, including specifically the opportunity to unlock ever better healthcare provision to the people of Vietnam, and bring further investments to Vietnam, from R&D to digital infrastructure and capabilities. PG members are ready to work hand-in-hand with domestic companies, healthcare professionals, and government to make these opportunities come alive.”
Vietnam is well-positioned to join the value chain in life-sciences ahead of several other ASEAN countries, and can attract further investment from the innovative pharmaceutical industry to make this happen. The time to consider the value this can bring to Vietnam is now.
According to the latest statistics of the Drug Administration of Vietnam, as of August 2019, Vietnam has approximately 184 local and foreign pharmaceutical manufacturers operating in the market, of which 225 manufacturing sites qualified for GMP-WHO. Most of these companies produce generics for local consumption. 90 per cent of the Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs) for these products come from imported sources, primarily China and India.
Conference seeks to promote Japanese investment flows into Vietnam
An online conference was jointly organised in Hanoi on July 9 by the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MoPI), the Japanese Embassy in Vietnam, the Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO) and the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) to promote Japanese investment flows into Vietnam.
The conference saw the participation of more than 1,000 Japanese enterprises in Japan and around the world.
Addressing the event, Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment Vu Dai Thang said the conference provided the latest information on Vietnam’s business and investment environment in the context that Vietnam has successfully controlled the COVID-19 pandemic and issued new policies, including the Law on Investment (revised), the Law on Enterprises (revised), and the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Law.
The Vietnamese National Assembly recently has approved the European Union -Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) and the EU-Vietnam Investment Protection Agreement (EVIPA), he noted.
Director of the MoPI’s Foreign Investment Agency Do Nhat Hoang said Vietnam has a stable political situation, high economic growth, abundant human resources, potential market, and increasing per capital income.
Vietnam has also expanded international integration and cooperation with other economies worldwide, he stressed, adding that the Southeast Asian country has a strategic position as it takes only 3-5 hours to fly from Vietnam to Japan, Thailand, India and China – the key investment hubs in Asia.
Vietnam also has preferential policies to attract foreign investment, with priority given to new technology, environmentally-friendly and high value projects, Hoang said.
Aguin Toru, Chief Representative of JBIC’s Hanoi Office, said the bank considers Vietnam as a key area, and an important partner of Japan in many fields such as infrastructure, production and resources.
Meanwhile, Envoy Okabe Daisuke from the Japanese Embassy in Vietnam said Japanese investors are now very interested in Vietnam.
According to a survey on Japanese enterprises in Asia and Oceania conducted by JETRO in February 2020, 63.9 percent of asked Japanese businesses that are doing business in Vietnam said they will continue to expand business activities in the Southeast Asian nation, he noted.
Okabe said in order to attract more investment, Vietnam needs to speed up the disbursement of capital for public investment projects, ensure transparency, fairness, and effectiveness in implementing policies, and further foster international integration.
Thailand’s financial system more vulnerable amid COVID-19: BoT
Thailand’s financial system has become more vulnerable due to the more-than-expected contraction of the country’s economic outlook due to impacts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Bank of Thailand (BoT).
At a meeting on July 8, the BoT assessed that the Thai economy will contract by 8.1 percent in 2020 but would expand by 5.0 percent in 2021 in tandem with a gradual improvement in both domestic and external demand.
The BOT’s monetary policy committee deemed it important to prepare financial measures to continuously alleviate impacts on households and businesses, especially after the phase-outs of the batch of financial and credit measures.
According to the BoT, fiscal and credit measures, monetary support policies and efforts to accelerate the debt restructuring process still have a key role in supporting Thailand’s economic recovery.
Thailand’s economy is said to fall into recession after its GDP fell by 1.8 percent in the first quarter of 2020 – the sharpest decline since the fourth quarter of 2011.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has forecasted that Thailand’s economy will fall by 6.5 percent this year, the sharpest decline among members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
Japanese firms maintain investment plans in Indonesia
Japanese companies operating in Indonesia will stick to their future investment plans, despite declines in sales and production due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a survey conducted by the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) has shown.
The survey, which illustrates the impact the pandemic has had on more than 350 Japan-based companies operating in Indonesia, showed that due to the pandemic, 80 percent of the companies have seen a decrease in sales, with 37 percent stating their sales had fallen to half their normal levels in this year’s second quarter.
Despite plunging sales and production rates, 69 percent of respondents remained confident about their future investment strategies in Indonesia. Only 15 percent intended to slash their future investments amid the current economic woes.
“Many Japanese companies still see Indonesia as a potential market. While it’s true that demand is decreasing in the short term, consumption will return in the long run,” JETRO senior director Wataru Ueno told reporters during an online briefing on July 7.
Japan was the fourth largest contributor of foreign investment to Indonesia in the first quarter of the year, investing 604.2 million USD. Last year, it invested a total of 4.3 billion USD, making it the third-largest foreign investor overall, just behind China and Singapore, Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM) data showed.
Cambodia, RoK agree to launch FTA talks
Cambodia and the Republic of Korea (RoK) agreed on July 9 to launch official negotiations for a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA), paving the way for the RoK, Asia’s No. 4 economy, to make further inroads into the Southeast Asian market and boost exports.
According to Yonhap News Agency, the announcement came more than a year after Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen proposed making preparations for a free trade deal during his summit with RoK President Moon Jae-in in Phnom Penh in March 2019.
The two countries have carried out a joint feasibility study over the first five months of this year.
RoK Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee said in a statement that amid the spread of COVID-19, it has become more important for his country to expand cooperation with Southeast Asian countries.
She noted the RoK is pleased to launch FTA negotiations with Cambodia, which can potentially rise as the new hub of production and trade in ASEAN, adding that the two countries will make efforts to come up with a meaningful result within this year.
The two sides are likely to hold their first round of talks in July.
Their trade volume reached an all-time high of 1 billion USD in 2019, up 6 percent from a year earlier. That included 697 million USD of the RoK’s shipments, up 5.5 percent on-year, according to the data compiled by the Korea International Trade Association.
The increase was significant as the Northeast Asian country’s annual exports fell more than 10 percent year-on-year in 2019 amid the trade row between the US and China.
Vietnam seeks to forge trade ties with Switzerland
Delegates at a webinar in Switzerland on July 9 shared the view that Vietnam is a promising destination for the movement of investment capital and production and supply chains that have been triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The webinar on Vietnam’s investment opportunities was jointly held by the Vietnamese Embassy in Switzerland, the Swiss-Asian Chamber of Commerce and Becamex Binh Duong, with the participation of nearly 30 firms from Switzerland, Germany and Singapore, along with domestic enterprises.
Speaking at the event, Vietnamese Ambassador Le Linh Lan highlighted Vietnam’s bright growth outlook in 2020 and 2021 as forecast by major financial and economic institutions like the International Monetary Fund and the Word Bank.
Vietnam is now focusing on promoting domestic private investment, attracting foreign direct investment, boosting export, increasing public investment and encouraging domestic consumption, Lan continued.
She also commended trade and investment ties between Vietnam and Switzerland, with two-way trade hitting 3.61 billion CHF (3.84 billion USD) last year, saying Switzerland is Vietnam’s sixth largest European investor with a total capital amounting to 2 billion CHF.
Vietnam believes that with their capacity and experience, Swiss investors in finance, pharmacy and food processing will continue to choose Vietnam as a safe and attractive destination during economic recovery post COVID-19, the ambassador said.
Laos calls for investment to agriculture from Can Tho firms
Laos is calling on Vietnamese firms in general and those from the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho in particular to study investment chances in Laos, especially in agriculture such as rubber and banana plantations for joint benefits, Lao Ambassador to Vietnam Sengphet Houngboungnuang said on July 10.
During a working session with municipal leading officials, the Lao diplomat further said as it is land-locked, the country hopes for cooperation with Vietnamese firms to bring Lao exports to foreign markets in a more convenient way.
Laos enjoys an advantage in the large availability of good agriculture land while Can Tho firms boast rich experience in plant cultivation, that is why the cooperation between the two sides will usher in many chances to increase benefits for both side, he stressed. Besides, the Lao side also hope to cooperate with Can Tho in the fields of education and health care.
For his part, Can Tho Party Committee Secretary Tran Quoc Trung said the city is home to a high-quality education and training system as well as a modern medical one, and this will be favourable for training Lao personnel in those fields.
Trung pledged to serve as a bridge to connect Laos with local firms interested in doing business with Laos, especially in agriculture.
Hoa Lac Hi-Tech Park hopes for new wave of investment
Politburo member Vuong Dinh Hue, Secretary of the Hanoi Party Committee, made a working trip to the Hoa Lac Hi-Tech Park on July 10 with the aim of removing bottlenecks for the park to welcome a new wave of investment.
He urged the park’s management board to intensify administrative reforms to make it easier for both domestic and foreign businesses to make investment, while implementing more effectively hi-tech research activities, human resources training, and creating an ecosystem for start-up firms.
The official said Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has approved the urban planning for Hoa Lac as one of the first five satellite towns of Hanoi, adding that the capital also plans to invest in an urban railway project to connect with the park.
Therefore, the park should make use of these opportunities to draw more investment, he said.
Covering over 1,580 hectares, Hoa Lac Hi-Tech Park has so far attracted 94 investment projects with total registered capital of 89.3 trillion VND (3.85 billion USD). Of them, 51 projects are operational with combined trade turnover of over 4 billion USD in the past five years.
More than 22,000 people are studying and working in the park, including 13,000 workers.
Cambodia’s garment-textile exports reach 3.7 billion USD in H1
Cambodia earned 3.7 billion USD from the export of garment products, including clothes, footwear, and travel goods –in the first half of this year, down 5 percent compared to the same period last year, according to Cambodian news agency AKP.
According to Heng Sour, spokesperson of the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training, the decrease was due to the order suspension from the targeted markets caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
He was quoted as saying that purchasing dropped globally, and the decrease was seen not only in Cambodia, but also in other garment-producing nations such as Bangladesh and Vietnam.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, 450 factories in Cambodia suspended production in the garment, footwear and travel goods sector, and 83 factories were formally closed.
However, Vongsey Vissoth, Permanent Secretary of State at the Ministry of Economy and Finance claimed that Cambodia’s exports to the international market remained positive.
In the first five months of this year, Cambodia saw growth in the export of non-garment products, he said, adding that the country saw growth in some products such as bikes, rice, electronic components and some agricultural raw materials.
Cambodia exported 9.3 billion USD worth of garment products, footwear and travel goods in 2019, a year-on-year increase of 11 percent, according to a report from the Ministry of Industry, Science, Technology, and Innovation.
Africa remains potential market of Vietnam post-pandemic: Trade official
With a population of 1.3 billion, Africa will still be a market of good potential for Vietnam after the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Vietnamese Trade Counsellor in Algeria Hoang Duc Nhuan, who is also in charge of trade affairs in Senegal, Mali, Gambia and Niger.
In a recent interview granted to Vietnam News Agency correspondents in Algiers, Nhuan noted that trade between Vietnam and these countries and Africa in general have all been affected by COVID-19.
He cited preliminary figures from the General Department of Vietnam Customs that showed exports to Africa in January-May experienced a year-on-year decline of 6.1 percent. Meanwhile, African countries’ earnings from exports to Vietnam also fell slightly, by 1.2 percent. Trade items most affected were cotton, raw cashew nuts, wood, copper, and minerals.
Vietnam’s exports to some African countries, however, headed upwards, as those countries boosted import of rice, confectionery, cereal products, pepper, and cashew nuts for stockpile in response to the pandemic. Vietnamese rice shipments to Senegal surged 26-fold in volume and 18.3-fold in value, contributing to raising total export turnover to the country by 88.6 percent.
Though the governments of Algeria, Senegal, Mali, Gambia, and Niger have yet to determine when international flights will resume, trade and cargo transport have been maintained.
The trade counselor suggested Vietnamese businesses focus on exporting farm produce and foodstuffs such as rice, coffee, cashew nuts, pepper, and cereal products, as well as medicine, means of transport, and automobile and motorcycle spare parts, all of which are in high demand.
Regarding international integration, Nhuan said African countries are striving to realise the African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA), which is expected to increase regional trade to nearly 60 percent by 2022.
He noted that governments in Africa have been encouraging foreign investment in the processing industry and developing high added value products.
Trade between Vietnam and Africa stood 7.4 billion USD last year, of which 3.4 billion USD was from Vietnam’s exports, up 17 percent against 2018.
Renewable energy yet to meet potential: conference
The development of wind and solar power has not matched its great potential, especially in the central and southern regions, experts said at a recent conference.
Speaking at the conference on renewable energy and roof-top solar power held on July 9 in HCM City, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Hoang Quoc Vuong pointed to many barriers that have hindered solar and wind power development.
Infrastructure for the energy transmission grid, for instance, has not kept pace with renewable energy projects.
As a result, several projects in Ninh Thuan and Binh Thuan cannot generate 100 percent of capacity at certain time, the Deputy Minister said.
Roof-top solar power also has high initial costs, and while products and services related to roof-top solar power are available, they have no specific technical standards. This has affected the interest of investors in such projects.
Vuong noted that the Government has created preferential policies that offer favourable conditions for investors to exploit the potential of renewable energy for sustainable socio-economic development.
The ministry has also set up action programmes, which have been submitted to the Prime Minister for approval, that would be the legal basis for implementation of such projects, Vuong added.
Since the issuance of the governmental decision on preferential policies for solar power development in April 2017, around 4,500 MW of power has been connected to the grid.
Nearly 500 MW of roof-top solar power and more than 400 MW of wind power systems are operating. About 3,000 MW of solar power and 2,000 MW of wind power systems are under construction and are expected to be operating by the end of this year.
These solar and wind power systems will reduce pressure on the national electricity system and help set up a renewable energy market in the country, contributing to local socio-economic development, Deputy Minister Vuong said.
Vo Quang Lam, deputy General Director of Vietnam Electricity (EVN), said that energy demand continues to grow. The demand in the 2016-20 period increased by 0.3 percent to 11.3 percent per year. From 2021 to 2030, it is estimated to rise by 8 percent to 8.5 percent each year.
According to the Electricity and Renewable Energy Authority, the country will lack 12,690 MW of power by 2023.
A shortage of power could occur in the southern region, with 3.7 billion kWh in 2021, increasing to nearly 10 billion kWh in 2022 and 12 billion kWh in 2023.
Forestry exports will not be lower than 12 billion USD: Official
Forestry exports will be no lower than 12 billion USD this year, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Ha Cong Tuan told a meeting in Hanoi on July 10.
Forestry contributed most to the agriculture and rural development sector in the first half, he said, with export value rising 2.7 percent to 5.3 billion USD.
He asked the forestry sector to focus on addressing issues such as anti-dumping lawsuits and product origin fraud, and to coordinate with ministries and agencies in handling trade disputes.
Vietnam planted 106,300 ha of concentrated forest in the first half of this year, up 0.2 percent year-on-year and reaching 48.3 percent of the annual target, Tuan said, adding that the total area is expected to reach 220,000 ha by the end of the year.
The meeting also heard that there were only 5,801 violations of the Law on Forestry, down 16 percent since last year, while 109 forest fires burned 260 ha, down 35 percent and 75 percent, respectively.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the hot weather have affected forestation in some localities, said Nguyen Huu Thien, head of the Forest Protection Agency.
Deputy head of the Vietnam Administration of Forestry Pham Van Dien said the sector will work to reduce the number of forest fires by 10 percent and the affected area by 20 percent.
Cutting-edge technologies will be utilised in the early wildfire warning system, he added.
HCM City: industrial production grows 13.74 percent month-on-month in June
HCM City’s index of industrial production (IIP) in June rose 13.74 percent from the previous month, according to statistics of the municipal People’s Committee.
The six-month IIP was equivalent to only 96.8 percent of the figure of the same period last year.
The four key industries of electronics, food and beverages, chemicals – rubber – plastic, and mechanics expanded by 0.8 percent. The electronics industry grew at 17.7 percent and the chemical industry by 9 percent.
The electronics industry is seen to benefit from a strong and steady increase in domestic demand.
According to a report by the HCM City Computer Association, during the social distancing campaign, the demand for computer products and internet services increased sharply to serve the needs of people studying and working from home.
Besides, industries with high growth of more than 10 percent included tobacco (11.7 percent), pharmaceuticals and pharmaceutical materials (20.7 percent).
Industries with strong reductions were wood processing and wood and bamboo products (except furniture), metals, among others.
A survey by the HCM City Statistics Department of more than 16,300 enterprises in various industries found half of those affected by the pandemic saying the consumer market had shrunk.
More than half of State-owned enterprises and 48.45 per cent of foreign enterprises that regularly export said they have been unable to do so this year.
Workshop seeks measures to improve access to e-public services
The National e-Services Portal is set to provide more level-3 and level-4 e-public services to people and businesses in the near future, as part of Vietnam’s efforts to make public service delivery more transparent with less time taken, lower compliance costs, and less petty corruption, an official said on July 10.
The comments were made by Minister and Chairman of the Government Office Mai Tien Dung at the “Improving Access to e-Public Services for Citizens through the National e-Services Portal” workshop held in Hue, the capital of central Thua Thien-Hue province.
Held by the Government Office, Australia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the workshop gathered together over 200 delegates from ministries as well as authorities and businesses in the province.
It aimed to improve access to e-public services for citizens through the portal and bolster the quality of e-public services through sharing experiences in connecting with the portal from Thua Thien-Hue and collecting citizen feedback.
It was livestreamed on the Government Office’s Facebook fanpage.
Addressing the workshop, Dung said the initial success of the National e-Services Portal is attributed to the enthusiastic participation of Vietnamese ministries and localities as well as effective support from international partners.
He revealed that Vietnam will launch its 1,000th e-public service – motor vehicle registration – on the portal on August 15.
According to the Government Office, the National e-Services Portal has so far provided more than 750 e-public procedures. In the seven months since it was launched, it has started over 189,000 user accounts and had more than 49.6 million visits. Some 179,000 applications and enquiries have been lodged to date.
UNDP Resident Representative Caitlin Wiesen said the launch of the National e-Services Portal marks an important step in Vietnam moving towards e-Government.
The portal has proven effective, helping Vietnam maintain the non-disrupted provision of public services to its citizens and businesses when the country imposed social distancing measures to contain COVID-19, she said.
Conference looks at making full use of CPTPP
The Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) and the Hanoi Department of Industry and Trade have held a two-day conference with a view of helping firms understand more about commitments in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).
As part of activities within MoIT’s plan for implementation of the agreement this year, the July 9-10 event offers a chance for businesses to find solutions to the difficulties they face on the threshold of deeper integration.
According to ministry figures, less than 40 of Vietnam’s 63 cities and provinces have trade relations with CPTPP member countries.
Ngo Chung Khanh, Deputy Head of the MoIT’s Multilateral Trade Policy Department, said the CPTPP opens up huge opportunities for Vietnam’s exports but the country is yet to make full use of them.
Trade between Vietnam and CPTPP member countries hit 77.4 billion USD last year, up 3.9 percent year-on-year. Vietnam posted a surplus of 1.6 billion USD overall but a deficit of 900 million USD with these countries.
Participants at the conference have already focused on overviews of import and export taxes and instructions on how to identify and meet import and export tax commitments, rules of origin, and customs commitments in order to enjoy preferential taxes under the agreement.
Nguyen Son Tra, Deputy Head of the WTO and Trade Negotiation Division at the MoIT, told the gathering about CPTPP member countries’ import tax commitments.
Member countries have committed to eliminating tariffs on about 78-95 percent of the tax lines Vietnam is subject to. For common commodities, the roadmap will take five to ten years. At the end of the roadmap, 98-100 percent of tax lines will have been eliminated.
Many of Vietnam’s key export items to the CPTPP are entitled to zero percent tax rates right after the agreement comes into effect or after three to five years, Tra said.
Participants have also focused discussions on services and investment, especially the obligations and basic principles of market opening, removing barriers facing services and investment, and commitments concerning investment promotion and protection.
The CPTPP, one of the largest trade pacts in the world, covers 13.5 percent of global GDP and a market of about 500 million people. It gathers 11 countries, namely Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.
It officially took effect in Vietnam on January 14, 2019.
Bamboo Airways leads local airlines in punctuality in H1
The report on the operation of flights on time (OTP) as well as delayed and cancelled flights across Vietnam in H1 showed that in the period, Bamboo Airways has a punctuality rate of 95.6 percent, higher than the overall rate of the whole industry of 89.8 percent.
It was followed by Vasco with 4,299 punctual flights out of a total of 4,560 flights made in 2020, reaching a rate of 94.3 percent.
The third and fourth places are Vietnam Airlines and Vietjet Air with average OTP rates in the first six months of 2020 at 91.9 percent and 86.6 percent, respectively.
Jetstar Pacific was bottom of the list with an average OTP rate of 83 percent, equivalent to 6,141 punctual flights out of a total of 7,401 flights.
According to the CCA, 55.6 percent of the delayed and cancelled flights was due to late flights, 31.8 percent was from the airlines and 6.3 percent was due to equipment and services at the port.
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