Prof. Dr. Tran Ngoc Tho, Member, National Financial & Monetary Policy Advisory Council, University of Economics, Ho Chi Minh City
Long term investment plans in india
|Feed group sales are rising, but the competition is fierce with more farms outsourcing for husbandry companies. Photo: Le Toan|
As the largest animal feed production country in Southeast Asia, the sector in Vietnam witnessed high growth of 13-15 per cent on average during the 2016-2020 period, according to Grand View Research, an India and US-based market research and consulting firm. Consumption output in 2019 and 2020 was around 20 million tonnes, and was as much as 30 million if including aquaculture feed.
In a specific case, from just over one million tonnes in 2013, Cargill’s output increased to 1.5 million tonnes in three years. Currently, the company’s output remains stable.
John Fering, regional managing director of Cargill Animal Nutrition South East Asia, told VIR that pre-2017 the feed industry experienced rapid growth on the strong domestic demand, and pork that was moving to overseas buyers. The feed industry responded with investment plans to increase capacity to fulfil the demand. The overseas demand for pork stopped abruptly in late 2016, resulting in the demand loss of nearly 30 per cent for swine feed.
“In 2019, challenges like African swine fever (ASF) also suppressed demand for swine feed by another 30 per cent, which was partially compensated by growth in poultry and aqua segments. As the supply of pork contracted, pork prices increased and offered higher profits for producers,” Fering said. “This favourable margin for producers has resulted in farmers investing to modernise farms and expand operations – and resulted in improved demand for swine feed.”
“Cargill has long recognised the importance and huge potential of Vietnam as a top growth market in Asia. Vietnam will continue to be a key market for us,” Fering added.
In the same situation, Dutch-based De Heus reported positive growth year-by-year, from 314,000 tonnes in 2013 to 1.2 million tonnes of feed in 2019, but experiencing a 2020 drop down to just over one million tonnes. Talking with VIR, De Heus Vietnam and Cambodia general director Johan van den Ban said, “We were able to more or less stabilise our volumes, whilst moving part of our production from Vietnam to Cambodia, where we opened a new feed mill during the course of 2020.”
Some other foreign players are maintaining their production, with only modest rises in output. CJ Vina saw its sales from 423,000 tonnes of feed in 2013 to 716,400 tonnes last year; and American Feeds Company has only seen an increase from 203,000 tonnes in 2013 to 530,500 tonnes in 2020.
According to Vietnam’s AgroMonitor specialised in agricultural analysis, the most sustainable players in the market are those have strong finance and rich experiences like C.P. Vietnam, Japfa Comfeed Vietnam, Emivest, and Newhope with stable sales at 3.44 million, one million, 952,000, and 739,000 tonnes in 2020, respectively.
Bui Hoang Ha, an expert in animal feed distribution, told VIR that the up and down in the sales of the foreign producers could be caused by the emergence of some local players, including Masan Group. Masan acquired 52 per cent of Vietnam French Cattle Feed JSC and 70 per cent stake of Agro Nutrition Company JSC, ranking second in the list of animal feed producers, with the sales of around 1.3-2.3 million tonnes per year, over the last decade.
However, the presence of new local players like Hoa Phat (308,000 tonnes in 2020) as well as the efforts of others like Lai Thieu, Dabaco, Vina, and Hong Ha have been challenging overseas groups, despite their differing performances.
“The competition of feed production is quite fierce. Despite the increase of the market scale from 14 million tonnes in 2013 to 20.3 million tonnes in 2020, the development of the players’ feed production is not as fast as the market, and the sales of each player could change by millions of tonnes on-year,” said Ha. “And it is getting fiercer. As the number of household farmers is decreasing sharply after the ASF epidemic, most big farms are outsourcing for husbandry companies. Thereby, the more farms a company develops, the more animal feed the company can sell.”
This enables more chances for big feed producers, which are operating thousands of farms across the country, while the market share of animal feed is already dominated by them. Despite operating 68 per cent of the total number of factories including some big plants from Dabaco, Masan, Greenfeed, Vina, and Lai Thieu, productivity of local players is making up 35-40 per cent only.
While the number of foreign producers’ plants is 32 per cent, their output accounts for 60 per cent and could raise in the time to come, according to statistics from the Ministry of Agricultural and Rural Development.
In late-2020, C.P. Vietnam inaugurated the most modern and largest chicken breeding and processing project in Southeast Asia. With a capacity of 100 million broilers a year, CPV Food Complex in the southern province of Binh Phuoc is expected to generate $200 million revenue annually.
Last November Japfa Comfeed Vietnam inaugurated its sixth feed mill in the central province of Binh Dinh, with the total investment capital of $13 million and annual capacity of 180,000 tonnes. It also broke ground on a $230 million self-contained animal husbandry project in Binh Phuoc.
However, local conglomerates have been interested in the market for some time, with Vingroup acquiring aquaculture giant Viet Thang Feed JSC back in 2018. “Some local players are strengthening their linkage to build supply chains of production, husbandry, and consumption, and reaching small success first,” said Ha. “The foreign players should not be subjective, because the finance and experience of these local players are quite good, in addition to the advantages of a home playing ground.”
As for Cargill, it is building a $28 million feed mill in the southern region. “Overall, as a growth company, we will keep investing in and growing our business here over the medium to long term. This includes expanding our capacity and capabilities besides building strong talent and resilient communities,” Fering said.
Animal feed in Vietnam saw fast growth from only 8.5 million tonnes in 2008 to 20.3 million tonnes in 2020, while the total capacity of all plants rose from 12 million tonnes in 2008 to nearly 40 million tonnes last year. Vietnam ranks 10th in the world and first in the region in terms of animal feed, higher than Thailand (18.6 million tonnes) and Indonesia (18.3 million tonnes).
Experts say the demand for feed in Vietnam will rise to 30 million tonnes annually by 2025, valued at $12-13 billion, and annual growth at 13-14 per cent can enable Vietnam to become a promising market. However, expectations could be challenged by feed material price rises.
“Depending on overseas material supply could cause a lot of risks, so every animal feed producer should find out its own solutions to proactively manage supply and remain sustainable growth,” added Ha.
By Hara Nguyen
Fruit exports to the US thrive
Vietnam’s fruit exports reached about 1 billion USD in the first quarter of this year, up 10 percent compared to the same period last year. Of the figure, exports to the US – Vietnam’s 4cond-largest fruit and vegetable market – accounted for 30 percent. The market’s potential is expected to grow in the time to come.
Growth is expected to continue in the future due to increasing market demand.
The US is Vietnam’s second-largest fruit market, after China. It imports about 150 million USD worth of fruit each year. While the figure is rather modest, it is still significant in creating a driving force for fruit growers to improve the quality to meet the requirements of other demanding markets.
Greater profit margins will create fiercer competition in the market. The price of Vietnamese fruit, meanwhile, is always higher than in countries such as Thailand.
Prices are expected to fall in the time to come, though, as more enterprises invest in post-production facilities and irradiation areas. This will be a foundation for enterprises to cooperate more strongly to sustainably exploit markets./.
SMEDF expects to directly provide loans for SMEs from this year
The Ministry of Planning and Investment’s Small and Medium Enterprises Development Fund (SMEDF) expects to deploy direct lending for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) from this year.
This will help SMEs access the Government’s preferential capital through many different forms, according to the ministry.
At present, this fund has often provided loans through the entrusted banks and financial supports for SMEs.
The SMEs enjoying those loans including start-ups, and enterprises in industrial clusters and value chains will take loans via five entrusted banks by the fund.
These five commercial banks are Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Investment and Development of Viet Nam (BIDV); Military Commercial Joint Stock Bank (MB); Saigon Hanoi Commercial Joint Stock Bank (SHB); HCM City Development Joint Stock Commercial Bank (HD Bank) and Bac A Commercial Joint Stock Bank (Bac A Bank), reported the Vietnam News Agency.
The lending rate of those loans in April 2021 was 2.16 per cent per year for short-term loans and 4 per cent per year for medium and long-term loans to overcome difficulties in production and business during the COVID-19 pandemic.
With the duties of receiving, managing and using financial sources, domestic and foreign entrusted capital to create capital to support the development of SMEs, the fund has more capital for SMEs.
According to the Ministry of Planning and Investment, early this month, the SMEDF had a meeting with those banks to evaluate the implementation of indirect lending in 2020. They have also set this year’s disbursement target for loans providing for eligible SMEs.
The fund has also organised activities to improve operation ability of SMEs, such as seminars, training, consultancy and investment promotion.
Up to now, the capital from the SMEDF’s lending programme has been used effectively. The enterprises with the loans are operating well with many production and business expansion projects being implemented as planned, so the enterprises have repaid principal and interest.
Tax watchdog eyes further reforms in the next ten-year period
The tax watchdog was eyeing further reforms in the 2021-30 period with focus on simplifying tax procedures and applying information technology in management to contribute to improving the business climate and bringing Viet Nam to the top 30 in the world in terms of the ease of doing business.
Director of the General Department of Taxation Cao Anh Tuan said that the tax reform strategy in the 2021-30 period aimed at two goals, improving and synchronising tax policies to implement socio-economic development goals and developing a modern and streamlined tax system that operates efficiently.
Tuan said that reforms must ensure the stability, sustainability and transparency of the tax collection revenue while seting up a competitive economic environment appropriate to the country’s integration and development process.
The highest goal of reforms was to promote production and increase the competitiveness and encourage Vietnamese enterprises to participate in global value chains to create high added value.
Accordingly, the corporate income tax would be kept stable at 20 per cent as currently to the end of 2025 and adjustments could be put under consideration from 2026 depending on the Vietnamese economy’s situation and the global context.
Regarding value added tax, it was necessary to narrow down the subjects for tax exemption to expand the tax base, from 20 categories of goods and services in 2025 to 12 in 2030.
He added that the efforts would be made to speed up the development of an e-government towards a digital government by 2030 and bring Viet Nam to the top 50 countries in the world and third in ASEAN in terms of e-government and digital economy.
The Ministry of Finance recently asked the General Department of Taxation to continue to strengthen the application of information technology in tax management. Specifically, priority would be placed on expanding the application of electronic invoices, electronic tax payment, registration fee payment and individual tax payment.
By 2022, the tax watchdog targeted that all administrative tax procedures would be conduct electronically with connection to the national public service portal at level 4.
Phi Van Tuan, Deputy Director of the General Department of Taxation, said that it was important to keep a close watch on the compilation of tax policies to ensure that the administrative reforms really create a more favourable environment for taxpayers and there would be no new procedures.
Currently, the tax watchdog was developing circulars and decrees to guide the implementation of the Law on Tax Management No 38, Tuan said, adding that close watch was being placed on the process to ensure that no new procedures arise in the new circulars.
The General Department of Taxation’s report showed that electronic tax declaration was implemented in all 63 provinces and cities nationwide. The tax watchdog also cooperated with 50 commercial banks to facilitate electronic tax payment and refund.
Gov’t affirms FDI’s important role in Vietnamese economy
The foreign direct investment (FDI) sector continues to be an important economic driver, contributing to making Viet Nam more prosperous, Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh said.
At the connections for development forum 2021 with the theme ‘Presenting opportunities and challenges from the movement of FDI flows in the new context’ co-organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and newspaper Vietnam Economic Times on Monday in Ha Noi, Minh said since 1987, along with the process of renewing and opening up the country’s economy, the Law on Foreign Investment had been enacted. The country had seen three FDI waves, which had made the FDI sector present in many important industries and contribute significantly to the overall socio-economic development of the country.
As of December 2020, over 33 years of developing and attracting FDI, Viet Nam has 33,070 FDI projects with registered capital of more than US$384 billion, of which about $231.86 billion has been disbursed.
In order to successfully attract FDI in the new context, the Deputy PM said the Government would focus on solving four issues.
Firstly, Viet Nam would be determined to maintain a stable socio-political environment, considering it a competitive advantage of the country in the context that the world has many unpredictable uncertainties and it is difficult to forecast the COVID-19 pandemic.
Second, the country would focus on improving the quality of institutions and legal policies towards enhancing transparency, soundness, safety and efficiency as well as improving the governance and macroeconomic management of the State to attract high-quality FDI inflows and enhance the competitiveness of the economy.
In addition, the Government would encourage and support domestic enterprises to enter into joint ventures, contribute capital and purchase shares of FDI enterprises in projects using high and new technologies and supporting industries to master technology, manage and develop national products.
Third, the Government would prioritise investment in infrastructure development to create smart and efficient connections to help reduce transaction costs and enhance the competitiveness of businesses, investors and the entire economy.
In particular, the Government would encourage investment in education and science and technology, considering it an engine of growth for the country in the coming decades.
Finally, together with investment attraction, provinces and cities would organise and support investors to build their projects effectively and promptly through reforming the business environment and administrative procedures, especially in land clearance.
Minh expected the measures would help reduce investment costs for investors and strengthen their confidence besides supporting domestic enterprises to develop and participate more deeply in the global production and distribution chains.
Vietnam not impacted by ban on importing 13 types of Algerian fruit
The Algerian Ministry of Trade has recently informed the Vietnamese Ministry of Finance about the updated list of suspended fruit imports into Algeria during the harvest time, according to the Vietnam Trade Office based in Algeria.
In total, there are 13 types of fruit, including oranges, tangerines, apricots, cherries, peaches, plums, grapes, pears, apples, almonds, figs, pomegranates, camellia, and quince, which are subject to the list.
The decision has been made with the aim of protecting domestic production, along with intensifying control over imported fruit as part of efforts to avoid billing over real value, whilst simultaneously ensuring food safety quality for the health of consumers.
Due to the nation not exporting these types of fruit to the North African country, there will no effect for Vietnamese farmers. In fact, this ban was initially introduced and applied by Algeria back in July, 2020, whilst they are among one the few countries globally not to be a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
COVID-19 crisis may be opportunity for Vietnam’s agricultural trade: Experts
The COVID-19 pandemic has rocked the global economy and created unprecedented trade uncertainty and challenges for all sectors, but from the crisis may come opportunity for Vietnam’s agricultural trade, experts have said.
At a workshop held by the Institute of Policy and Strategy for Agriculture and Rural Development (IPSARD) and the Australia – Vietnam Economic Reform Programme (Aus4Reform Programme), Do Lien Huong from IPSARD said that although the agricultural sector suffered a decline in agricultural trade last year, it maintained a trade surplus of 10 billion USD.
There are challenges for Vietnam’s agriculture since the country has no particular support policies for the sector while demand in traditional trade partners such as China and the US are falling.
“The pandemic highlighted shortcomings in the agricultural sector and imposed stringent requirements on uniform policies as well as production and cultivation methods,” Huong said.
She stressed that the agricultural sector could find new markets if changes are made in a timely manner.
According to Deputy Secretary General of the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP) Nguyen Hoai Nam, the shipment of seafood in 2020 fell 1.9 percent year-on-year due to increasing input costs and labour shortages.
In the first quarter of 2021, however, seafood exports inched up 6.9 percent from the same time last year.
Nam said that Vietnamese firms may have opportunities to promote exports and gain greater market share in the time to come as large markets such as the US, Japan, and China are increasing imports while competitors like India and Thailand are struggling with spiralling pandemic outbreaks.
Regarding the production and trade of fruits and vegetables, Chairman of the Vietnam Fruit and Vegetable Association Nguyen Thanh Binh said production and shipments have fallen since 2019 as a result of the US – China trade war and COVID-19, but he believed they will bounce back this year.
It is necessary to promote production links and form a sustainable value chain to improve food safety, quarantine, and origin traceability, he suggested, adding that localities and businesses should focus on large-scale production and the application of advanced technologies and good practice standards such as VietGAP and GlobalGAP.
Other experts held that State agencies should provide businesses with full market information and raise awareness about import-export activities.
In addition to expanding markets and adjusting the export market structure, the State should also outline measures to stimulate the economy and support companies in production and business.
According to Director of the Legal Department at the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Dau Anh Tuan, Vietnamese enterprises expect support from the State, including exemptions from corporate income taxes, extensions on tax payments, and reductions or extensions on social security payments, among others./.
Workplace productivity improvements needed for economic competitiveness: Expert
Vietnam must look to improve national workplace productivity if it wants to promote its economic competitiveness and growth, according to Chairman of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) Vu Tien Loc.
Loc made the statement at a workshop held by the VCCI and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in Hanoi on April 28, part of activities launched by VCCI to improve workplace productivity at businesses.
According to Loc, Vietnam’s workplace productivity has improved remarkably in recent years, posting a rise of 5.8 percent each year in the 2016-2020 period and exceeding the target by 0.8 percent.
The country’s growth model has gradually reduced a dependence on the exploitation of natural resources, raw material exports, low-cost labour, and credit expansion, and begun relying on the application of science, technology, and innovation, he said.
According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), Vietnam’s workplace productivity in the 2011-2020 period rose 5.11 percent, 2 percent higher than the average in ASEAN.
Its productivity has improved significantly but is still low compared to countries such as China and India, it noted.
Kenichi Ohno from the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies of Japan said with the support of international organisations such as the Asian Productivity Organisation (APO), a number of productivity improvement programmes have been implemented in Vietnam over recent years, contributing significantly to boosting workplace productivity.
Vietnam should learn from Japan’s experience and tools as well as those of other Asian countries to improve its workplace productivity.
The Japanese Government and business community are willing to cooperate and support Vietnam in effectively improving productivity, he said.
Participants at the workshop also highlighted the important contribution of the digital economy to productivity and efficiency in the economy, saying that this is a new driver of rapid improvements./.
Measures to bring Vietnamese goods to the world sought
Ways to facilitate Vietnam’s development of cross-border e-commerce were discussed at a workshop on exporting Vietnamese products to the world with Amazon on April 28 in Hanoi.
The workshop was held jointly by the Vietnam E-commerce and Digital Economy Agency at the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the Hanoi Department of Industry and Trade, and Amazon Global Selling.
Lai Viet Anh, deputy head of the agency, said Vietnam has the fastest cross-border e-commerce growth rate in the world.
Cross-border e-commerce continues to be an effective way for Vietnamese businesses to open their doors to global supply chains and minimise risks when traditional supply chains are disrupted or stagnant due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she added.
Last year, despite the impact of the pandemic, Vietnam’s business-to-consumer e-commerce sales grew by 18 percent to 11.8 billion USD, accounting for 5.5 percent of the country’s total retail sales and service revenue. It is eyeing annual growth of 25 percent during 2021-2025, to hit 35 billion USD.
To help Vietnamese goods connect effectively with the global market, Anh stressed the need for enterprises to engage in and adapt to the trend, besides measures carried out by competent agencies.
Assessing cross-border e-commerce as an effective export channel, acting director of the Hanoi Department of Industry and Trade Tran Thi Phuong Lan said that sales via e-commerce platforms are also one of the fastest ways for businesses, especially those of small and medium size, to build their own brands for bringing goods to the world.
Gijae Seong, Vietnam Country Manager at Amazon Global Selling, said his company hopes to contribute more to the development of cross-border e-commerce in Vietnam.
Joining hands with the Ministry of Industry and Trade in helping Vietnamese businesses develop cross-border e-commerce, Amazon Global Selling officially launched a programme aimed at enhancing support for Vietnamese sellers on their journey to the world by providing them with cross-border e-commerce knowledge, helping them set up and operate stores on Amazon, and improve their competitiveness./.
Vietnam Grand Sale 2021 to offer discounts up to 100 percent
The Vietnam Grand Sale 2021 will take place nationwide from July 1 to 31, with discounts of up to 100 percent, heard a press conference in Hanoi on April 28.
Director of the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Vietnam Trade Promotion Agency Vu Ba Phu said merchants can register to introduce products and services in line with regulations.
Apart from exhibitions, they can also join traditional festivals in localities to develop tourism and e-commerce and encourage cashless payments.
Last year, over 27,450 promotional programmes were held in response to the event, nearly 1,000 of which offered discounts of 80-100 percent, 1,100 60-79 percent, and some 2,500 50-69 percent.
Discounts were mostly on apparel, consumer goods, electronics, and telecommunications via supermarkets, retail networks, and electronic transaction floors.
According to the General Statistics Office, the total retail of goods and services reached 431.9 trillion VND last July, up 3.3 percent against June and 4.3 percent year-on-year.
Experts said the event will help raise public awareness about Vietnamese goods and services and provide a means for suggesting support policies for participating firms./.
Measures sought to expand export markets for farm produce
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Le Minh Hoan asked agencies within the ministry, local authorities and departments of agriculture and rural development of localities to focus on measures to seek new export markets for Vietnamese farm produce, stressing that this is a decisive factor in the country’s agricultural economic development.
Addressing a national conference in the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho on April 28, the minister underlined the need to pay special heed to building orientations for domestic and international market development for agricultural products.
Jointly held by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Ministry of Science and Technology, and the municipal People’s Committee, the conference aimed to identify measures to effectively implement plans to restructure the agricultural sector in the 2021-2025 period.
Hoan said it provided a venue for ministries, localities, and businesses to share their experience and discuss ways to improve the value chain of Vietnamese farm produce in the time to come.
According to the minister, Vietnam is ranked 17th in agro-forestry-aquaculture exports in the world, with turnover hitting 41.2 billion USD in 2020, accounting for 1.95 percent of the global total. Therefore, there is major space for Vietnam to boost such exports.
Relevant ministries, sectors, localities and business associations were urged to work hard on addressing bottlenecks so as to develop agricultural product markets in the time to come. They were asked to continue negotiations to remove technical and trade barriers in key markets such as the US and the EU, while promoting negotiations to facilitate the export of fresh fruit and vegetables, aquatic products, birds’ nests, and meat to China, as well as expanding exports to Japan, the Republic of Korea, India, the Eurasian Economic Union, Africa, and ASEAN, and for the Halal market.
Attention should also be paid to planning domestic production to create agricultural products that meet the requirements of fastidious countries, participants said.
They emphasised the need to strengthen trade promotion activities, bolster the application of technology in agricultural development, raise the quality of farm produce for export, while share experience, global market trends and issues relating to brand building and protection, and geographical indications with businesses operating in agriculture./.
Deputy PM lauds contributions of Japan’s financial, credit organisations
Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh on April 28 hosted a reception for Masahiro Yoshimura, General Manager of Business Development Department at Japan’s Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group (SMFG), who is also in charge of managing Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC).
At the meeting, Minh said the Vietnam-Japan relationship is developing fruitfully across spheres, and Japan is now Vietnam’s largest ODA supplier with about 27 billion USD.
Japan is also Vietnam’s second foreign investor with accumulated investment amounting to 60.3 billion USD, making up 15.7 percent of total foreign investment in the country.
Japan is the fourth largest trade partner of Vietnam, with bilateral trade reaching 60 billion USD last year, the official added.
Minh attributed the achievements to contributions in terms of both finance and operational experience of Japanese financial and credit organisations over the past time, including SMFG.
The Vietnamese government appreciates the role of SMBC that has operated in Vietnam over the past nearly two decades, providing financial and banking services, as well as support for many major energy and infrastructure projects in the country with combined funding of about 20 billion USD.
Minh expressed his hope that SMFG and SMBC in particular will develop further and expand its investment and business in Vietnam, while continuing to work as a bridge for Japanese firms in the Southeast Asian nation.
The Vietnamese government also encourages the participation of credit organisations with financial potential, experience and capacity to help local credit organisations, the Deputy PM said, adding that he welcomed SMBC’s investment in FE Credit – a consumer finance division of VPBank, and noted his belief that the cooperation will be a success.
For his part, Yoshimura pledged that SMFG will continue to prioritise its efforts and resources to business development in Vietnam, saying he believes that the group will contribute to the growth of relations between the two countries.
He said SMBC’s investment in FE Credit is the biggest foreign invested project in the banking sector in Vietnam, which has demonstrated SMFG’s commitments to contributing to the country’s development as well as the bilateral ties for a long run.
Currently, Japan ranks third in terms of its presence in Vietnam’s banking sector, with six branches, two financial companies and 10 representative offices./.
Room for Vietnam – US post-pandemic cooperation considerable: Experts
Vietnam and the US have huge potential to boost cooperation in trade and supply chains after COVID-19 is brought under control, experts said at a conference held by the Investment and Trade Promotion Centre of Ho Chi Minh City (ITPC) and the American Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam (AmCham Vietnam) on April 28.
According to ITPC Director Nguyen Huu Tin, Vietnam and the US have enjoyed impressive strides forward in economic cooperative ties, with the US being Vietnam’s largest export market and Vietnam being the US’s 6th-largest importer.
The US has shifted to purchasing products from emerging countries, including Vietnam.
Vietnam has affirmed its position as an important trade partner of the world’s largest economy, Tin said.
For the first time in 26 years of relations, the US is Vietnam’s largest export market, he said, adding that two-way trade in the first quarter topped 25.9 billion USD, up 33.5 percent year-on-year, with Vietnam’s exports estimated at 22.2 billion USD.
The two governments and business communities have made efforts in the past to bolster cooperation in a practical fashion and based on the complementary nature of the two economies.
Vietnam is stepping up its economic reform and international integration while enhancing win-win cooperation with the US. Meanwhile, the US has attached much importance to ties with Vietnam and encouraged its companies to set up value chains with the country and expand investment.
Thanks to the good control of COVID-19 in Vietnam, Vietnamese firms have a huge advantage over foreign rivals struggling to fight the pandemic, Tin stressed, while suggesting that improving business and production capacity and capitalising on the US market will provide opportunities for Vietnam’s economy to develop further in the time to come.
Evaluating the cooperative potential between Vietnam and the US, Alexander Tatsis, Economic Officer at the US Consulate General in HCM City, said they have witnessed advancements in their trade and foreign relations over more than two decades.
He highlighted that the US’s demand for high-quality Vietnamese products has been increasing due to changes in the global supply chain, and US firms sees Vietnam as a potential, safe investment destination post-pandemic.
Meanwhile, AmCham Vietnam Executive Director Mary Tarnowka said that Vietnamese staples like tropical fruit, rice, and fish sauce are now popular in the US.
Pointing to the complementary nature of the two economies, she underscored that Vietnam has good production capacity in the fields of agriculture, seafood, and wood processing, among others, while the US is the world’s leading materials supplier and has the strongest purchasing power.
Vietnam is an important link in the global supply chain, and the country’s development has positive impacts on the US market, she said.
Ken D. Duong, Director of the TDL International Law Firm, suggested Vietnamese firms select suitable measures to effectively access the US market, adding that small businesses should export products via popular e-commerce platforms in the US, as this helps them cut costs at a time when the number of online shoppers is increasing amid COVID-19.
Medium and large-scale firms should establish representative offices or find distributors in the US, he said.
It is also necessary for enterprises to protect their trademarks by registering them not only in the US but also in target markets, he recommended./.
Vietnam’s economic growth likely to expand 6.7 pct in 2021: ADB
Vietnam’s economic growth is expected to rebound to 6.7 percent this year despite the recent resurgence of the COVID-19 pandemic in nearby countries, and rise to 7 percent in 2022, according to the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
In its Asian Development Outlook (ADO) 2021 released on April 28, the ADB said Vietnam’s economic growth will be boosted by export-oriented manufacturing, increased investment, and expanding trade.
The growth momentum is expected to continue, thanks to ongoing reforms to improve the business environment and Vietnam’s participation in multiple free trade agreements (FTAs) involving almost all advanced economies.
Rising international oil prices and increased domestic consumption is expected to push inflation up to 3.8 percent this year and 4.0 percent in 2022, the report said, adding that faster-than-expected recovery in China and the US would significantly expand Vietnam’s trade and growth prospects.
The report said Vietnam can maintain inclusive growth by softening the pandemic’s impact on poverty and incomes.
The ADB also raised its 2021 economic growth projection for developing countries in Asia amid ongoing COVID-19 vaccine campaigns and the sharply increasing export demand in the world market.
The developing region in Asia, comprising 45 countries in Asia Pacific, is forecast to grow 7.3 percent by 2021, and 5.3 percent in 2022.
Meanwhile, the growth rate forecasted for the Southeast Asian region is 4.4 percent, down from the earlier projection of 5.5 percent due to the instability in Myanmar. The Philippines, the slowest economy in Southeast Asia last year with a 9.6-percent contraction, is forecast to grow 4.1 percent this year./.
Bamboo Airways opens three new domestic routes to Quy Nhon
Bamboo Airways officially announced on April 28 its opening of new routes from the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho, Da Lat city in the Central Highlands’ province of Lam Dong, and Thanh Hoa city in the north-central province of Thanh Hoa to Quy Nhon city in the south-central province of Binh Dinh.
There will be five flights weekly on the Can Tho – Quy Nhon route, four on Da Lat – Quy Nhon, and three on Thanh Hoa – Quy Nhon.
Quy Nhon’s Phu Cat Airport now hosts a total of seven routes, catering to 60 flights on a daily basis.
Vice Chairman of the Binh Dinh Provincial People’s Committee Lam Hai Giang said the opening of the new routes marks a new stage of development in provincial air passenger transport and tourism, toward its goal of welcoming 4 million arrivals by air in 2021 and 8 million by 2025.
Quy Nhon hosts more than 5 million tourists annually. Most local hotels are already fully booked for the upcoming National Reunification Day (April 30) and May Day (May 1) holiday./.
Vietnam racks up nearly 1.9 billion USD in trade surplus in four months
Vietnam posted a trade surplus of nearly 1.9 billion USD in the first four months of the year, according to the Ministry of Planning and Investment’s Foreign Investment Agency.
The foreign-invested sector enjoyed 14.4 billion USD in trade surplus while domestic firms reported a trade deficit of 12.5 billion USD.
In the first four months to April 20, foreign investors pumped 12.25 billion USD in Vietnam, equal to 99.3 percent of the amount recorded in the same period last year.
Of the amount, nearly 8.5 billion USD was poured into 451 new projects, up 24.7 percent in value and down 54.2 percent in project numbers year-on-year.
Meanwhile, more than 2.7 billion USD was added to 263 existing projects, down 10.6 percent and 21.5 percent, respectively.
The remaining investment capital, over 1 billion USD, was used for capital contribution and share purchases in a total 1,151 transactions.
Foreign investors landed investment in 17 sectors, with processing and manufacturing absorbing the largest amount of capital (5.2 billion USD), followed by power generation and distribution (5.1 billion USD), real estate (778 million USD), and whole sale and retail sale (464 million USD).
Among 67 countries and territories having investment in Vietnam in the period, Singapore took lead with 4.8 billion USD, Japan came second with more than 2.5 billion USD, and the RoK was the third largest investor with 1.5 billion USD.
Localities that attracted the most FDI were Long An (3.3 billion USD), Can Tho (over 1.3 billion USD), and Ho Chi Minh City (1.1 billion USD).
Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyen Chi Dung said that the ministry will work to complete mechanisms with a view to improving business climate for foreign investors, and set up preferential mechanisms to attract investment into the fields of high technologies and source technologies./.
Quang Nam province develops sustainable marine tourism
The central province of Quang Nam has been paid due attention to the development of tourism infrastructure as the locality is looking to develop sustainable sea and island tourism products.
According to Director of the provincial Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism Nguyen Thanh Hong, Quang Nam is working to create strong “brand” names for its sea and island eco-tourism models.
Quang Nam is home to renowned Hoi An ancient city, a UNESCO cultural heritage site. Over the years, Hoi An has been a top global travel destination and considered as a living museum of history and architecture.
Besides, it houses Cu Lao Cham (Cham Island) which was recognised as a World Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in May 2009 thanks to its diverse eco-system and ancient cultural and historical sites.
Secretary of the Party Committee of Hoi An city Tran Anh said sustainable sea and island tourism development has been an inevitable choice of the ancient city.
The city successfully restore local coral reefs to serve scuba diving of visitors, particularly foreigners, he said, adding with support of advanced technologies, locals in Tan Hiep commune assisted marine reserves to recover more than 6,000 coral reefs./.
Cat Linh – Ha Dong metro line to begin commercial operation from May 1
Hanoi’s first metro service running from Cat Linh to Ha Dong will start commercial operation from May 1 as directed by the Prime Minister.
Safety problems in the project have been removed, according to a report from the Ministry of Transport, adding ACT – French safety consultants – which is hired to oversee the final stages of the metro project – is expected to complete safety certification for the railway on April 28.
Travel on the Cat Linh – Ha Dong Urban Railway will be free for the first 15 days of operation.
After that, a one-way ticket will cost 15,000 VND (0.65 USD). Then, the operation unit will notify passengers of the price of monthly and quarterly tickets soon.
The Cat Linh – Ha Dong Urban Railway project started in 2008 with a total investment of 18 trillion VND (782.6 million USD) and was initially expected to be completed in 2016. However, it has missed its completion deadline several times.
The Cat Linh – Ha Dong line runs 13.5km with 12 stations, encompassing Cat Linh, La Thanh, Thai Ha, Lang, Thuong Dinh, Ring Road 3, Phung Khoang, Van Quan, Ha Dong, La Khe, Van Khe and Yen Nghia.
Meanwhile, Management Authority for Urban Railways Ho Chi Minh City said that two three-car trains and four six-car trains for the first metro line (Metro Line 1) in the southern hub are expected to arrive in the city between May and July.
The two three-car trains will be shipped from Japan on May 1 and reach Ho Chi Minh City in nine days. The remainders will be delivered to the city in June and July.
The trains will be on trial run from Quarter 4 this year. Within the same time, other tasks like operations, training, technology transfer, and examination will be in progress.
Metro Line 1, which is 20 kilometres long with 3 sub-stations and 11 stations, is 83 percent complete and is expected to officially open for use in 2022. It is built at the total cost of more than 43.7 trillion VND./.
CPI in April records decline of 0.04%
The General Statistics Office (GSO) unveiled on April 29 that the consumer price index (CPI) in April slipped by 0.04% compared to the previous month but rose by 1.27% from the figure recorded last December.
This latest decline in the CPI can largely be attributed to a plentiful supply of goods coupled with a low consumption demand for electricity and water.
CPI in April climbed by 2.7% against the same period from last year, while the average CPI during the initial four months of the year saw an increase of 0.89%, the lowest rise since 2016, with core inflation increasing by 0.74%.
Among the 11 main groups of consumer goods and services throughout April, a CPI decline was recorded in four categories, including restaurant and food services (down 0.13%), housing and construction materials (down 0.43%), post and telecommunications (down 0.2%), and cultural, entertainment, and tourism services (down 0.11%).
Elsewhere, the surge in the CPI could be seen in six groups, including transportation (up 0.87%), beverage and tobacco (up 0.14%), and household appliances (up 0.11%), while prices remained stable in other groups, such as garment and footwear.
According to the GSO, there are a number of other factors behind the CPI increase during four-month period, including rising rice prices and the increasing consumption demand for sticky rice and other forms of delicious non-glutinous rice during the Lunar New Year festival, known locally as Tet.
These moves have served to make rice prices during the reviewed period climb by 7.76% against the same period from last year. Experts also attributed the CPI hike to rises in the prices of food, oil and gas, and educational services.
Along with reasons for the CPI increase, experts said the slight CPI decline was also affected by the Government’s deployment of support packages for residents and businesses negatively impacted by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
In addition, railways, airlines, and travel firms have also offered attractive discounts to stimulate tourism demand, causing travelling ticket prices to decline.
April witnessed local gold prices move in tandem with global gold prices, while the US dollar in the global market rose amid a tightening control of interest rates in the United States, along with improved prospects relating to the implementation of the COVID-19 vaccination programme in Europe.
Workshop examines export opportunities for farm produce post COVID-19
Localities and businesses must focus on developing large-scale production by applying advanced technology and organic farming practices in order to generate high-quality products for processing and export, experts have said.
Do Lien Huong, deputy head of the Department of Market Research and Commodity Development, revealed that rice exports have significantly increased in recent times due to the rising global demand. In contrast, seafood and fruit exports have endured a downward trajectory due to disruption occurring in supply chains and high transportation costs.
Huong noted that despite agricultural trade witnessing a decline, it should not be considered a concern as food items remain essential goods amid the ongoing impact caused by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
Nguyen Hoai Nam, vice secretary general of the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), said that seafood exports last year faced falls of 1.9% compared to 2019 as a result of the COVID-19 impact.
The most influential factors include the high input costs and a serious shortage of workforce caused by social distancing measures which have ultimately led to a sharp decrease in production capacity, Nam confided.
Despite these drops, local seafood exports during the first quarter of 2021 recorded signs of recovery, securing a growth rate of 6.9% compared to the same period from last year. This recovery can largely be attributed to a sharp increase in export turnover in most products and major markets.
Nam predicted that while Asian countries such as India and Thailand are struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States, Japan, and China are poised to increase imports in the coming months, offering Vietnam plenty of opportunities to boost production and exports. Yet, he also noted seafood exports would be affected by high transport and input costs.
For fruit and vegetables, Nguyen Thanh Binh, chairman of the Vietnam Fruit and Vegetables Association, revealed that the import-export turnover of the products has suffered a decline since 2019, due to the dual impact of both trade wars and COVID-19.
Vietnamese production and consumption of fruit and vegetables is expected to rebound and enjoy strong growth momentum moving forward, Binh stated.
He went on to underline the need to promote regional connectivity as it forms a sustainable and highly-effective production value chain, whilst also applying high technology and Good Agricultural Practice, such as VietGAP and Global GAP in farming.
The State should provide timely market information and launch economic stimulus measures to support enterprises in order to help them weather the COVID-19 crisis, Binh noted.
The workshop was co-hosted by the Institute of Policy and Strategy for Agriculture and Rural Development (IPSARD) in conjunction with the Australia supports Vietnam’s economic reform program (Aus4Reform).
HCM City needs a push to become a global financial centre: conference
With a favourable business environment and rapid and steady economic growth, HCM City meets all essential conditions to become a global financial centre, a conference heard in the city on Tuesday.
The city contributes around 22.3 per cent to the country’s GDP and 27 per cent to the national budget, and attracts 34 per cent of the country’s FDI.
It has excellent financial infrastructure with numerous banks, financial intermediaries, investment funds, and financial firms that play a vital role in attracting and distributing capital.
Dr Tran Du Lich, member of the Government Advisory Group, said the city is a gateway to major financial centres and capitals in Southeast Asia, and the idea of turning it into a regional and international financial centre is not new.
However, the growth of the financial sector, especially HCM City’s, has not been consistent and the dependence on the banking system for capital has been significantly distorting the financial markets, he explained.
Key characteristics of international financial centres include a deep, liquid and sophisticated capital market, and competitive tax and regulatory regimes designed to attract foreign investment in financial services.
HCM City must become a development locomotive for the country and the key economic regions in the south, and drive the development of the Mekong Delta and the Central Highlands.
It needs to strengthen its competitiveness in terms of institutions, human resources and infrastructure.
It should continue to aim for sustainable growth by improving its competitiveness and growth quality through healthy economic restructuring, and ensure a favourable business environment for enterprises and encourage start-ups, innovation and smart-city measures.
Lich said the plan to make HCM City a regional and international financial hub should be stated clearly in the national strategic economy to ensure the National Assembly and Government could develop policies and specific mechanisms.
To turn HCM City into a financial centre requires three phases, with the first phase from now until 2025 used to complete all the necessary infrastructure for the financial centre, he said.
In the second phase until 2035 the key mission would be to complete its institutional, human resources and urban infrastructure requirements, he said.
The third phase from 2035 should develop an international financial market, he added.
Experts said with strong support from the Government and local authorities, HCM City would graduate from being a national financial centre to a regional and then international centre in future years.
Viet Nam-US trade has new opportunities post-pandemic
Viet Nam plans to further enhance trade and investment cooperation with the US, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic ends, said a city official.
Speaking at a seminar on Wednesday Viet Nam – US Trade, Nguyen Huu Tin, director of the Investment and Trade Promotion Centre in HCM City (ITPC), said: “US-Viet Nam trade has made impressive progress in recent years, with the US currently being Viet Nam’s largest export market.”
Last year, Viet Nam ranked sixth in the world and third in Asia in exports to the US, after China and Japan, he said.
The US is shifting from imports of goods from traditional exporters to other emerging countries, including Viet Nam. “Viet Nam is gradually asserting its position as the leading partner of the world’s largest economy,” he said.
Tin attributed the achievement to “an open, dynamic and practical cooperation” of the two countries’ governments and business communities.
The US has encouraged American enterprises to establish production and value chains between the two countries.
Viet Nam can benefit from its control of COVID-19 by enhancing trade with its partners, Tin said. Vietnamese businesses should grasp the “golden opportunity” to innovate and improve production and business capacity to exploit the US market, he added.
Nguyen Ba Thien Thu, chief representative of Registrar Corp, an FDA consulting firm, explained that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates food, beverages, drugs, medical devices and cosmetic products available for commercial distribution in the US.
“Local businesses need to understand the FDA standards for exporting goods to the US market,” she said.
The FDA regulations include safety and sanitary requirements for products exported to the US. To export food to the US, businesses are required to register wirh the FDA, while complying with the new labeling regulations and the Food Safety Modernisation Act (FSMA) by FDA.
Some local businesses are facing problems reaching required standards and quality, especially on completing procedures for FDA certification.
In the future, local enterprises must have FDA certificates for their products to be exported to the US.
To reach FDA standards, Vietnamese enterprises must have input materials that meet those standards. The US market has high technical and high product quality requirements.
Experts said Viet Nam should complete its system of standards and regulations to improve the quality of exports to the US. This will promote the competitiveness of Vietnamese products in the global market.
The event was organised by the Investment and Trade Promotion Centre in HCM City.
Experts impressed by Vietnam’s renewable energy adoption
The UK’s Financial Times on April 26 ran an article highlighting that the expansion of Vietnam’s wind and solar farms is proving crucial to powering its economic growth.
According to data from Irena, an inter-governmental renewable energy organisation, Vietnam’s production from solar and wind increased 237 percent and 60 percent, respectively in 2020, raising the share of these sources to a quarter — almost a decade ahead of schedule, it wrote.
With an average speed of more than 10 metres a second, Vietnam’s territorial waters rank in the top 10 percent of the windiest places on the planet.
The seas off the provinces of Binh Thuan and Soc Trang where developers plan to build multibillion-dollar offshore wind farms are also relatively shallow, with depths of 20 metres to 50 metres.
The author quoted Thu Vu, an energy finance analyst at the Ohio-based Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis as saying that Vietnam’s renewable energy adoption is impressive. The higher cost of offshore units relative to onshore or nearshore wind, the expert noted.
Ian Hatton, Chair of Enterprize Energy, a UK-renewable energy company, said in order to reduce cost, Vietnam must improve its infrastructure, build substations, and lay cables along the seabed for offshore production, or finding alternative solutions. Enterprize is experimenting with converting wind energy and seawater to hydrogen.
He also noted an example of the dilemma facing low- and middle-income nations such as Vietnam. Accordingly, if they produce enough energy to meet demand without improving transmission infrastructure, additional capacity could be squandered.
But William Gaillard, Vice President of wind turbine manufacturer Vestas, believed that Vietnam has “shown a path for others to follow, adding that the combination of an attractive feed-in-tariff with ambitious installation targets and a transparent permitting process has been a critical factor in unlocking this market./.
Source: VNA/VNS/VOV/VIR/SGT/Nhan Dan/Hanoitimes
Five domestically-transmitted cases of COVID-19 reported on April 29
Vietnam recorded 45 cases of COVID-19 in the past 12 hours to 6pm April 29, with 39 detected among people being quarantined after arrival, one case who had completed quarantine after arrival and five connected cases, according to the Health Ministry.
Patient 2899 returned from Japan on April 7 and was released from a concentrated quarantine site in Da Nang on April 22 after completing two weeks in quarantine and testing negative for the coronavirus three times. After returning to his home in the northern province of Ha Nam, he showed symptoms of coughing, fever and sore throat, and turned out to be positive on April 24. Four others in his family also contracted the virus.
Another case detected in Ho Chi Minh City was also connected to Patient 2899.
The total number of COVID-19 cases in the country rose to 2,910, with 2,516 having recovered. The death toll remains at 35.
Among patients still under treatment, 13 have tested negative for SARS-CoV-2 once, 15 twice and 20 thrice.
Meanwhile, 38,513 people are being quarantined nationwide.
Ha Nam authorities have taken urgent measures to track people who had made contact with Patient 2899. The village where he lives has been put under lockdown./.
Vietnam stands side by side with India in COVID-19 fight: leaders
Vietnam always stands side by side with India in the fight against COVID-19, the Vietnamese leaders affirmed on April 28.
In their messages of sympathy sent to their Indian counterparts Ram Nath Kovind and Narendra Modi, State President Nguyen Xuan Phuc and Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh said they share difficulties faced by the Indian people in the fierce battle against COVID-19 in the context that the pandemic is developing complicatedly around the world.
They expressed his belief that India will uphold its great internal strength to soon bring the country out of this difficulty, for the peaceful, happy and prosperous life of the residents.
On the same day, Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son cabled his sympathy to his Indian counterpart Subrahmanyam Jaishankar.
Culture ministry calls for COVID-19 vigilance during national holiday
The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (MoCST) has asked provincial and local authorities in the field of culture, sports and tourism to enforce preventive measures against the COVID-19 pandemic, especially during the upcoming four-day national holiday.
In an official circular issued by the ministry and sent to the People’s Committees of provinces and cities on Monday, the ministry said the COVID-19 pandemic continues to develop in the world with the number of new cases and deaths still increasing in many countries.
Notably, the pandemic is booming on a large scale in a number of countries that share a border with Việt Nam, it said.
“Although it has been well controlled domestically, the risk of returning outbreaks is always permanent, especially from sources of official entries and illegal immigration,” the ministry said in its circular.
The ministry warned that some people have been negligent in pandemic prevention.
To maintain control of the pandemic, the ministry urged People’s Committees of provinces and cities to strictly follow the directions of Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh on strengthening COVID-19 pandemic prevention and control, with continued vigilance against the risk of a new outbreak.
It is necessary to ensure absolute safety for residents and tourists, according to the ministry.
The ministry also asked provinces and cities to limit the organising of unnecessary events and activities that gather crowds of people and direct local tourist service units and agencies to register and self-assess their COVID-19 safety measures.
Provincial and city authorities should inspect pandemic prevention and control measures to promptly detect violations and issue strict punishments if necessary.
The ministry has requested provinces and cities to report on the results of the implementation of the COVID-19 prevention and control programme not later than May 10.
Highland market to be recreated in Hanoi
People of Hanoi capital and tourists will have a chance to watch unique cultural performances and sample specialties of ethnic people in the highland region when a highland market is recreated in the capital city.
Such a market is scheduled to be held at the Vietnam National Village for Ethnic Culture and Tourism in Son Tay town on the outskirts of Hanoi between April 29 and May 3 as part of activities to celebrate National Reunification Day (April 30) and May Day (May 1).
The highlight of the event is set to be an array of booths which will display a range of agricultural and forestry products, along with handicraft items and traditional food native to Hoang Su Phi district in Ha Giang province.
A photo and book exhibition is due to be held in order to introduce the culture and tourism products of the northwestern region to visitors.
Brocades of ethnic groups such as the Mong, the Thai, and the Dao will be put on sale, while their folk games are anticipated to attract plenty of participants.
Most notably, “Keo Vo”, wife snatching, a ritual of the Mong ethnic group, will be recreated daily between 10:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m., along with 3 p.m. and 4 p.m., from April 30 to May 3.
Plenty of art performances will also be held at fixed times such as from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., and 3 p.m. to 4 p.m., each day from April 29 to May 3.
HCM City prepares to host Vietnam Junior Fashion Week 2021
The 14th version of Vietnam Junior Fashion Week is set to get underway in Ho Chi Minh City from May 1 to May 2, with the occasion due to feature the participation of many famous local fashion designers.
For the first time ever, child patients of Ho Chi Minh City Oncology Hospital will perform alongside other professional child models, with the aim to encourage them to overcome their difficulties and help make their dreams come true.
During the course of the two-day event, a total of 14 fashion designers and brands, including Domark Kid, An ST, Vicky Princess, Lala Babe, and Cindy For Kids, will introduce their latest collections to excited viewers.
Vietnam Junior Fashion Week was first held in 2016 and has been held annually since in both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Famous Vietnamese model Xuan Lan is the founder of the event.
No new COVID-19 cases logged over 12 hours, vaccination effort ramping up
Vietnam reported no new COVID-19 cases during the past 12 hours to 6:00am on April 29, keeping the national count at 2,865, according to the Ministry of Health.
As many as 38,513 people having close contact with COVID-19 patients or entering Vietnam from pandemic-hit regions are currently quarantined across the country.
The ministry’s Medical Service Administration reported that a total of 2,516 patients have been given the all-clear from COVID-19 so far, while the death toll related to the disease remains at 35.
Among active patients undergoing treatment, 13 tested negative to the coronavirus once, 15 twice and 20 thrice.
Vietnam’s COVID-19 vaccination effort is ramping up with 92,445 people vaccinated on April 28, the highest number of doses administered daily to date. A total of 425,638 people have been vaccinated against the virus in Vietnam so far, most of who are frontline medical workers and members of community-based anti-COVID-19 groups and steering committees for COVID-19 prevention and control in localities.
The Health Ministry continuously warns about the high risk of the pandemic to spread to Vietnam, and urges people to remain proactive in pandemic prevention and control by continuing to wear face masks when going out, disinfecting frequently, maintaining a safe distance, refraining from mass gatherings, and making medical declarations./.
Vietnam, Russia promote AI cooperation
The Committee for External Relations of St. Petersburg on April 28 organised a teleconference on cooperation between Vietnam and Russia in artificial intelligence (AI).
This is the first online conference between the two countries in the field which is developing rapidly and holding both development potential and challenges.
It received the support from the Vietnam Software & IT services (VINASA), Russoft – an association of software developing companies in Russia, the Technological Sovereignty Exports Association, and the Overseas Vietnamese Association in Russia.
Deputy Chairman of the Committee for External Relations of St. Petersburg Vyacheslav Kalganov said that the theme of this teleconference is a topical issue because the current technology development makes the demand for control and automation systems increase.
Experts and speakers exchanged views on the high technology situations in the two countries as well as potential cooperative fields.
They highlighted priorities for cooperation between the two countries in information technology and digital transformation and made interactive proposals in the AI field./.
State leader chairs meeting on building key legal training institutions
State President Nguyen Xuan Phuc, who is head of the Central Steering Committee for Judicial Reform, chaired a meeting discussing the building of several key legal training institutions on April 28.
The meeting assessed the results of implementing the Prime Minister’s Decisions on a project to build the Hanoi Law University and Ho Chi Minh City Law University into key educational institutions for training legal officers and a project to turn the Academy of Justice into a major training centre for judicial positions.
Addressing the event, President Phuc stressed that public units, including schools and hospitals, play an extremely important role in national developments.
He spoke highly of efforts made by the universities and academy to carry out the two projects, reflected through the improvement in their training scale and quality.
Phuc emphasised the need to continue increasing the training quality to meet higher requirements, especially in the context of international integration and the occurrence of international lawsuits and conflicts.
He affirmed that the State always pays attention to supporting the units, and require localities to help them in issues related to the ground and resources.
In order to become the country’s key units in training legal officers and judicial positions, the institutions must exert more efforts with a greater determination and the spirit of daring to think and daring to do and proactively proposing necessary mechanisms, policies and measures, he added./.
Saudi Arabia lends helping hand to disadvantaged Vietnamese
The Central Committee of the Vietnam Red Cross Society (VRSC) on April 28 received aid worth over 166,000 USD from Saudi Arabia’s King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (Ksrelief) in support of poor Vietnamese households.
Saudi Arabian Ambassador to Vietnam Saud F.M. Alsuwelim handed over the aid to Vice Chairman of the VRSC Central Committee Tran Quoc Hung.
The ambassador affirmed that the Government of Saudi Arabia wants to develop ties with Vietnam in all areas. In the near future, it will deliver a batch of medical supplies worth 500,000 USD.
Hung, for his part, said the aid will be used to assist 6,890 families hard hit by disasters and the pandemic in An Giang, Binh Thuan, and Ninh Thuan provinces via the humanitarian market model, which offers food, necessities, and other goods of clear origin and good quality.
Each beneficiary household will receive a voucher worth 500,000 VND (21.7 USD) for shopping at the market, he said.
He also expressed his hope that ties between the two will become increasingly close.
In December 2009, the Saudi Arabian Ambassador to Vietnam handed over 200 tonnes of goods valued at 100,000 USD to the VRSC in support of people hit by typhoons./.
Vietnam, RoK beef up diplomatic collaboration
Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son and his Republic of Korea counterpart Chung Eui-yong held their first phone talks on April 28, during which they agreed to maintain all-level exchanges, especially high-level ones, through flexible forms.
FM Chung congratulated Son on his election as Vietnamese FM, affirming to coordinate closely with him to lift the strategic cooperative partnership between the Republic of Korea (RoK) and Vietnam to a new height.
He appreciated Vietnam’s efforts to well control the COVID-19 pandemic. Affirming Vietnam is a key partner in the RoK’s New Southern Policy, he showed his belief that Vietnam will achieve its targets set out in its 2021-2030 socio-economic development strategy.
Son, for his part, expressed his delight at the rapid development of bilateral ties in all fields, affirming that Vietnam always considers the RoK one of its leading partners and wishes to further boost its relations with the country.
Both sides reached a consensus on stepping up close cooperation between the two foreign ministries, including in implementing activities in celebration of the 30th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic ties in 2022, working to achieve a goal of 100 billion USD in two-way trade, promoting the relationship between the two countries’ localities and businesses, as well as in citizen protection.
They agreed to support and coordinate closely with each other within the regional and international cooperation frameworks such as the United Nations and ASEAN-RoK.
They also exchanged views on regional and international issues of mutual concern, including the East Sea and Korean Peninsula issues. Regarding the Myanmar situation, the two ministers agreed to work closely at regional and international forums to call for relevant parties to exercise restraint, avoid the use of violence and conduct peaceful dialogue.
They took the occasion to invite each other to visit their respective country at an appropriate time./.
Top legislator holds working session with NA Committee for Science, Technology and Environment
National Assembly Chairman Vuong Dinh Hue held a working session with the standing board of the NA Committee for Science, Technology and Environment in Hanoi on April 28.
Speaking at the event, Hue said there remains room to continue improving the operational efficiency of the legislature, such as raising the quality of discussions in groups about issues with mixed opinions.
About lawmaking, he said the legislature and NA agencies should play a more active and guiding role and offer all possible support to lawmakers to carry out legislation initiatives.
He agreed with the committee’s proposal to increase monitoring of the implementation of documents guiding legal enforcement, as well as presentation activities at the NA Ethnic Council and NA committees.
Hue hailed the committee’s proposal to pilot digital transformation in several activities, and hoped that the committee will offer consultations to the legislature in building the e-legislature.
He also suggested the committee present reports on digital transformation, digital and circular economy in the NA’s upcoming meeting./.
Vietnamese, Malaysian senior officials convene strategic dialogue
The second Vietnam-Malaysia Senior Officials’ Strategic Dialogue took place virtually on April 28 under the chair of Assistant to the Foreign Minister Pham Quang Hieu and Deputy Secretary General at the Malaysian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Amran Bin Mohamed Zin.
At the event, the Malaysian official lauded Vietnam’s success in COVID-19 prevention and control, socio-economic development, and external relations, particularly in its positions as Chair of ASEAN in 2020 and a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for 2020-2021.
Stressing that Vietnam is the only strategic partner of Malaysia in Southeast Asia, he affirmed that Malaysia always attaches importance to and wants to foster its cooperation with Vietnam so that the relations will be more extensive and effective.
For his part, Hieu expressed his belief that Malaysia will soon overcome the pandemic and recover its economy.
Taking the occasion to thank the Malaysian side for facilitating flights to repatriate Vietnamese citizens in the past time, the diplomat requested that Malaysia continue to support Vietnamese businesses and citizens living in the country as well as give humanitarian treatment to Vietnamese fishermen detained in Malaysian waters.
He stated Vietnam will continue creating favourable conditions for Malaysian investors, experts, managers, and skilled workers to enter Vietnam in line with health and pandemic control requirements.
The officials noted the robust growth of the Vietnam – Malaysia strategic partnership over the past years, and discussed specific collaboration orientations across fields to implement outcomes of a meeting between the two countries’ Prime Ministers on the sidelines of the recent ASEAN Leaders’ Meeting in Indonesia.
The two sides pledged to work closely to hold high-level and all-level delegation exchanges when conditions allow and to soon implement bilateral cooperation mechanisms such as joint committee and joint trade committee.
The officials noted they will also speed up the building of an action programme on implementing the nations’ strategic partnership for 2021 – 2025 so that the document can be approved by the 6th meeting of the countries’ joint committee for cooperating in economy and science-technology. The meeting is scheduled to take place in the last half of this year.
The sides also discussed regional and international matters of common concern and vowed to continue with mutual support and collaboration at multilateral organisations and forums, including ASEAN and the UN.
Regarding the East Sea issue, they emphasised the importance of maintaining peace, stability, security, and maritime and aviation safety in the waters; resolving disputes by peaceful measures in line with international law, particularly the 1982 UN Convention for the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS); and facilitating the negotiation on a practical and effective Code of Conduct in the waters (COC)./.
Vietnam promotes gender mainstreaming in climate change policies
Gender mainstreaming in climate change policies is crucial to promoting gender equality in Vietnam, according to Deputy Director of the Institute of Strategy and Policy on Natural Resources and Environment (ISPONRE) Nguyen Trung Thang.
At a workshop held in Hanoi on April 28, Thang said that ISPONRE carried out research on the state of gender equality in climate change policies in Vietnam, with focus sharpened on the four sectors of renewable energy, agriculture, water resources management, and garbage management.
The research showed that Vietnam has made efforts to complete policies on gender equality and climate change response but pointed out that women’s participation in policy making and management is limited.
Additionally, a lack of information and data on climate change’s impacts has affected the building and implementation of climate change policies with gender mainstreaming, he said.
The Vietnamese Government integrated gender equality and social inclusion in its updated Nationally Determined Contribution, which was submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in September 2020.
Vietnam is among six countries hardest hit by extreme weather that killed 286 people and resulted in economic losses of 2 billion USD each year over the last two decades.
In a bid to cope with future challenges, Vietnam should adopt more ambitious targets to evaluate the state of gender mainstreaming in climate change policies, according to Swedish Ambassador to Vietnam Anne Mawe.
Experts at the workshop suggested promoting the application of technical instruction on gender mainstreaming in climate change policies in combination with the implementation of other development plans./.
Private sector important to public health emergency response: Workshop
A workshop held in Hanoi on April 28 highlighted the important role of the private sector and digital technology in public health emergency response and monitoring.
After global disease outbreaks in the past, 196 countries, including Vietnam, agreed to comply with the International Health Regulations 2005 to develop the capacity of collecting and analysing health information so as to make early warnings and response to public health events.
Event-based surveillance (EBS), one of two methods for monitoring communicable diseases, aims to quickly detect any public health events that run the risk of causing disease transmission and outbreaks or affecting public health, and to issue a timely and appropriate response, thus minimising any negative impact on the public.
EBS is conducted by collecting information from three main sources: the community, healthcare establishments or testing labs, and the media (press, social networks).
Nguyen Thi Huong, an official from the Ministry of Health’s General Department of Preventive Medicine, pointed out the low participation of private health establishments in public health surveillance and reporting, even though the sector is potentially a major source of input information for EBS.
Since 2020, based on the success of involving the private healthcare system in screening and reporting non-communicable diseases, malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV, Population Services International (PSI) Vietnam has applied chatbots, via which private healthcare facilities report suspected COVID-19 cases and infectious diseases that may turn into outbreaks.
The application has received financial support from the UK Department for International Development, the Unilever group, and the World Health Organisation in Vietnam.
PSI Vietnam has carried out a project on engaging the private sector in public health emergency response in Hanoi and the provinces of Bac Ninh, Thai Nguyen, Ha Nam, and Quang Binh. The project has applied technological solutions to optimise efficiency and increase the timeliness of the EBS system.
After six months, it has provided training on the system to nearly 3,100 pharmacies and clinics. More than 81,900 cases with suspected symptoms have been reported via the system, becoming a source of supplementary data for the early detection and zoning of disease hotspots.
Underlining the importance of engaging the private healthcare sector in EBS, UK Ambassador to Vietnam Gareth Ward said close cooperation between the Government, international organisations, and private healthcare establishments can help boost the application of scientific initiatives so as to secure the public’s health and safety and sustainable development./.
Experts seek solutions to fluorocarbon management
Vietnamese and foreign scientists and experts gathered at a conference in Hanoi on April 28 to share information on current regulations relating to the control of fluorocarbons and to exchange experience in the management of the ozone-depleting substances.
Tang The Cuong, Director of the Department of Climate Change at the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment said that the agency has been assigned to compile documents guiding the implementation of the revised Environment Protection Law, which was adopted by the National Assembly in November 2020 and will take effect on January 1, 2022.
He said he hopes that participants will contribute to the creation of regulations on the management of fluorocarbons in Vietnam.
Nguyen Dang Thu Cuc, National Ozone Coordinator at the Department of Climate Change, said that Vietnam was one of the first countries to join the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer and the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, in 1994.
In implementing the Montreal Protocol, it has completely excluded a number of ozone-depleting substances such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), Halon, and carbon tetrachloride (CTC), while controlling the import and export of Methyl Bromide and implementing a roadmap to eliminate hydro-chlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs).
With the adopted roadmap, Vietnam will end the consumption and use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which are mostly used in the production of refrigeration, air conditioner, insulating foam, and aerosol propellants, from 2024. In 2045, HFC use is expected to be cut by 80 percent compared to baseline consumption, Cuc said.
She noted that, in 2019, the Government issued a resolution approving the amended and supplemented Kigali version.
Figures show that HCF consumption in Vietnam stood at more than 3,700 tonnes in 2019 and more than 6,000 tonnes in 2020.
Experts at the conference pointed to challenges facing countries in managing fluorocarbons. A Japanese representative shared information about a project to manage fluorocarbons’ lifecycle.
They also proposed a number of measures and solutions to manage HCFCs and HFCs, including the formation of a specialised agency to manage facilities using fluorocarbons./.
NA Chairman commends Economic Committee’s law-making performance
Chairman of the National Assembly (NA) Vuong Dinh Hue met with the standing board of the legislature’s Committee for Economic Affairs on April 28.
The top legislator highlighted the committee’s performance in law-making during the 14th tenure, as seen in its chairing of the verification and submission of 13 draft laws, including eight amended and supplemented laws and five new laws, to the NA for consideration and approval.
Among them, the law amending and supplementing certain articles of the Law on Credit Institutions, and the NA’s Resolution No 42/2017/QH14 on piloting the settlement of non-performing loans at credit institutions were milestones in legislative activities during the 14th tenure as they have been swiftly enforced in reality, he noted.
Meanwhile, he went on, the legal system on investment and business has been increasingly reformed and perfected, with the issuance of the Law on Investment, the Law on Enterprises, the Law on Investment in the form of Public-Private Partnerships, and the Law on Securities.
The committee’s verification reports have also been of higher quality and more persuasive, Hue said, asking that it continue working on a plan to reform and improve its activities.
The chairman requested the committee provide early and timely advice to the NA and the NA Standing Committee about major issues such as the five-year socio-economic development plan, the public investment plan, and the five-year financial plan.
It should thoroughly consult with experts about nationally important projects, he demanded.
The Committee for Economic Affairs also needs to assist the NA, the NA Standing Committee, and the Government in overhauling any overlaps and problems in legal regulations on investment and business, according to Hue./.
Exhibition highlights President Ho Chi Minh’s role in past general elections
An exhibition was opened at the Museum of Military Region 9 in the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho on April 28, giving visitors an insight into late President Ho Chi Minh’s role in the elections of the National Assembly (NA) and all-level People’s Councils in history.
The display is an activity celebrating 46 years since the South Liberation and National Reunification Day (April 30, 1975), the 131st birthday of President Ho Chi Minh, and the elections of deputies to the 15th NA and all-level People’s Councils for the 2021-2026 tenure that are slated for May 23.
It features more than 200 photos, documents, and objects showing the late leader’s role in the preparation for and organisation of the first general elections and the following ones.
Maj. Gen. Nguyen Thanh Hai, Deputy Chief of the Staff of Military Region 9, said the tradition of solidarity and working for the sake of the people and the country in the first NA, whose foundation was laid by President Ho Chi Minh, is one of the important prerequisites for the legislature in the 14th term, as well as in future tenures, to outstandingly perform the duties of the supreme organ of State power, helping to develop a Vietnam of prosperity and happiness.
The event will also help raise the community’s awareness of their role in selecting moral, capable, and prestigious persons representing the people’s aspirations and right to mastery for the 15th NA and all-level People’s Councils, he added.
The exhibition will last through this May./.
President attends ceremony marking International Labour Day
The Vietnamese Party and State always give special attention and care to the working class, labourers and trade unions, President Nguyen Xuan Phuc said on April 28.
Addressing a ceremony held in Hanoi to celebrate the 135th anniversary of International Labour Day (May 1), the President said workers and labourers have continued to play an important role after 30 years of reform, noting they are the driving force in the process of national industrialisation and modernisation.
President Phuc hailed initiatives raised by trade union members and employees nationwide for the development of their businesses, agencies, units and the nation as a whole.
Pointing out difficulties facing workers and labourers in general, notably those working in the informal sector, as Vietnam and the world are combating COVID-19, the leader stressed that the Party and the State have adopted effective measures to fight the pandemic and recover the national economy.
Incomes of labourers are expected to increase again and new jobs would be created in the time ahead, helping to boost the rapid, sustainable economic growth of the country, the President said.
In that spirit, he emphasised the need for the Vietnamese trade union to soon draw up an action plan in order to realise the Resolution adopted at the 13th National Party Congress, saying the plan must carry forward the core, pioneer role of workers and labourers nationwide.
At the same time, trade union organisations at all levels should revamp their operational methods to better care and protect legitimate rights and interests of workers, he said.
Nguyen Dinh Khang, President of the Vietnam General Confederation of Labour (VGCL), highlighted great contributions of the working class to the development of the Vietnamese revolution.
The VGCL has chosen the theme of “Solidarity, Creativity, Overcoming Difficulties, Development” for 2021, he said, adding that up to 245,000 initiatives were raised by workers and labourers across the country under a programme launched by the confederation.
On this occasion, the VGCL launched the Workers’ Month and the Month for Labour Safety and Hygiene./.
HCM City asked to support southwestern provinces in COVID-19 fight
Deputy Prime Minister Truong Hoa Binh has asked Ho Chi Minh City to maintain a high level of vigilance against COVID-19, improve its quarantine capacity, and be ready to support other localities, including southwestern border provinces.
At a working session with HCM City’s leaders on April 28, Binh said the city should review its COVID-19 prevention and control from the highest to the grassroots levels.
Along with strengthening the inspection of pandemic prevention activities, especially at hospitals, schools, supermarkets, and places of worship, it should strictly punish those who fail to abide by prevention and control regulations as well as those facilitating illegal entry into Vietnam and illegal immigrants, he said.
Amid the complex developments in the region and the world, localities around the country must strictly implement the directions from the Party Central Committee’s Secretariat, the Government, and the Prime Minister, especially during the National Reunification Day (April 30) and May Day (May 1) holidays and the upcoming general elections, the Deputy PM stressed.
At the working session, Deputy Minister of Public Security Sen. Lieut. Gen. Nguyen Van Son said that, since the beginning of April, the public security force has held four working sessions in southern localities on COVID-19 prevention while directing the force in HCM City to strengthen its engagement in the task.
Meanwhile, Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long said that HCM City is facing a high risk of another COVID-19 outbreak, stressing the need for it to work harder to prevent that from happening. Together with cancelling mass gatherings, the city should also prepare more medical equipment for fighting the pandemic, he said.
The minister hoped the city will help Mekong Delta localities in COVID-19 prevention and control.
According to Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee Nguyen Thanh Phong, the city has discovered 108 illegal immigrants since the beginning of April.
Although it has gone 73 days without any cases of domestic transmission, it has remained vigilant. Since April 27, it has strictly punished those not wearing a face mask in public places, while designing specific plans to ensure safety during the upcoming general elections, he said.
Nguyen Tan Binh, Director of the city’s Department of Health, said the southern hub has recorded 254 COVID-19 cases to date, including 68 domestically-transmitted infections.
Since the beginning of the year, it has sent 66 illegal immigrants to quarantine and is encouraging local people to make health declarations and strictly implement the “5K message”./.
Can Tho to take part in WWF’s One Planet City Challenge this year
The Mekong Delta’s Can Tho city will take part in the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)’s One Planet City Challenge (OPCC) this year, with the aim of transforming itself into a clean and green city, a recent meeting heard.
The statement was made by Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee Duong Tan Hien during a meeting with WWF representatives in the city on April 28.
The OPCC was initiated by the WWF to mobilise action and support from cities in the global transition towards a climate-friendly future and to promote measures for climate change mitigation and adaptation.
It first began in Sweden in 2011 and expanded globally in 2013, according to Tran Anh Tuan, technical advisor with the OPCC. Since 2017, it has been held twice a year on an increasingly larger scale, and more than 320 cities from 20 countries have joined in to date.
Via the challenge, he said, cities share smart, efficient solutions for low-carbon and climate-resilient urban development and drive the global transition towards a 100-percent renewable energy future.
More than half of the world’s population live in cities that are seeing rapid urbanisation, Tuan continued. They generate over 80 percent of global GDP but also contribute 70 percent of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. As political and business hubs, cities should play a decisive role in mitigating climate change, he said.
A number of central cities in Vietnam have participated in the OPCC since 2015, including Hue, Da Nang, Hoi An, Dong Ha, Dong Hoi, and Vinh. In 2020-2021, two more – Can Tho and Soc Trang – are expected to join.
As a first-class municipality, Can Tho faces many of the same problems other cities are confronting in their development process, Hien said. It has taken part in several programmes and networks, such as The Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities, in an effort to minimise the negative impacts of climate change in each area.
He pledged that Can Tho will fulfil all of its commitments and adopt effective measures to make itself a greener and more modern city when joining the OPCC.
In 2018, Da Nang was awarded the title National Capital of the OPCC, making it the only city in Vietnam to join a list of 21 winning cities around the world./.
Aviation sector tightens pandemic prevention for upcoming holiday
Increasing COVID-19 prevention and control measures have been noticed at Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi and Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City over the last few days as the National Reunification Day (April 30) and May Day (May 1) holiday approaches.
A representative from Noi Bai said the airport has worked with carriers and ground units to seek agreement on measures to control health declarations and deploy human resources for the task. In waiting areas, internet-connected computers and support teams are in place to help passengers complete their declarations.
At Tan Son Nhat, more security scanners have been added to handle any overcrowding.
On April 24, Deputy Minister of Transport Le Anh Tuan signed a dispatch for the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) and carriers Vietnam Airlines, Vietjet Air, Pacific Airlines, and Bamboo Airway on enhancing pandemic prevention measures at airports.
It strictly ordered the implementation of the Ministry of Health’s 5K message: khau trang (face masks), khu khuan (disinfectant), khoang cach (distancing), khong tu tap (no gatherings), and khai bao y te (health declarations).
Travel demand over the public holiday is expected to increase significantly, with travel companies saying that up to 60 percent of tours have been booked for the four-day holiday. Tourists are mostly taking short-distance trips and making brief stays in Sa Pa, Ha Long Bay, Phu Quoc Island, Da Nang, Da Lat, and Con Dao Island./.
Dong Thap aims to cut down poverty ratio by 0.5 percent in 2021
The Mekong Delta province of Dong Thap is striving to reduce the ratio of poor households by 0.5 percent in the end of 2021, according to a plan released by the provincial People’s Committee on the implementation of the National Target Programme on sustainable poverty reduction and social welfare.
In recent years, Dong Thap has seen a dramatic drop in the ratio to 1.86 percent in 2020 from 2.73 percent in 2019.
Various support policies have been applied, including providing credit for poor and near-poor households as well as those just escaped from poverty, and poor students. Last year, more than 443 billion VND was provided to more than 13,000 households.
Meanwhile, more than 124,800 health insurance cards have been handed over to poor locals, while more than 26,000 students have received learning support, and nearly 1,400 houses have been built for poor households.
As part of efforts to implement Resolution 42/NQ-CP issued by the Prime Minister dated April 9, 2020 on measures to assist COVID-19-impacted people, Dong Thap has provided more than 180 billion VND to more than 183,400 needy people to help them ease difficulties and stablise their life.
At the same time, the provincial Vietnam Fatherland Front (VFF) Committee and member orgaisations have mobilised more than 300 billion VND from the society and over 84 scholarships worth 51 billion VND for the poor.
Doan Tan Buu, Vice Chairman of the Dong Thap People’s Committee said that in order to complete the target of reducing the poverty ratio by 0.5 percent by the end of this year, the province will focus on associating the implementation of sustainable poverty reduction with the building of new-style rural areas.
Along with providing favourable conditions for locals, especially those in rural areas to access basic social welfare, the locality will conduct vocational training to rural labourers and increase labour export, he said./.
USAID launches environmental conservation projects in Việt Nam
The US Agency for International Development (USAID) is launching two new projects to facilitate Việt Nam to contribute climate-positive actions to helping address the global climate crisis, according to a recent announcement from the US Embassy in Việt Nam.
These new projects will help conserve more than 950,000ha of forested area across 12 provinces in the country.
“Healthier, fuller forests, coupled with strong biodiversity, is critical to reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” the statement reads.
The Sustainable Forest Management project, implemented by DAI Global, will reduce carbon emissions from deforestation, forest degradation, and poor timber plantation management in seven provinces.
The project is expected to strengthen Vietnamese law enforcement’s ability to combat forest crimes such as illegal logging, improve the livelihoods of 60,000 people in forest-dwelling communities, and strengthen the management of more than 250,000ha of forest.
The Biodiversity Conservation project, implemented by The World Wildlife Fund, will protect critical ecosystems to build resilience against the impacts of climate change, maintain and increase forest quality, and protect and stabilise wildlife populations.
The project is set to improve the ability of community patrol teams to detect and deter wildlife trafficking, improve economic opportunities for forest-dependent communities, and strengthen the management of 700,000ha of forest.
These activities build upon more than a decade of USAID’s partnership with the Vietnamese Government, the private sector, and other partners to protect forests and biodiversity, counter wildlife trafficking, and curb environmental pollution to mitigate the effects of climate change.
Belgium, Vietnam see growing multifaceted cooperation: Belgian politician
Vietnam is a priority partner of Belgium in many fields and bilateral cooperation has recorded fruitful developments, matching the demand and strengths of the two countries, a Belgian politician has said.
In an interview with the Vietnam News Agency’s correspondent in Belgium on April 28, Anne Lambelin, Vice President of the Belgian Socialist Party, said the successful organisation of the 13th National Congress of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) and the perfection of key leadership by the Vietnamese National Assembly will offer the two countries opportunities to expand their multifaceted cooperation.
The increasing presence of young deputies in the next Vietnamese legislature is hoped to create favourable conditions for the two sides to further strengthen future cooperation, she said.
Referring to the prospect of multilateral cooperation, Lambelin emphasised that the European Union (EU) – Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA), which has come into effect for eight months, is benefiting European countries and Vietnam in import and export fields.
As a country that attaches great importance to international trade and looks toward economic diplomacy through FTAs, Belgium considers the EVFTA an opportunity to promote its collaboration with Vietnam.
Cooperation in culture and education will also be a highlight in the bilateral relationship, while economic, cultural, and judicial connections will be paid more attention in the relations between the EU and Vietnam, she noted.
Regarding the East Sea issue, she emphasised the need to respect the self-determination of the people in each country on natural resources and national integrity, expressing her hope that there would be no escalation of tensions in the waters in the future and people in the region would not become victims of aggressive acts./.
Medical workers quarantined after contact with illegal entrants from Cambodia
As many as 40 medical workers from Tu Du Hospital have been put into quarantine and tested for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) after coming into contact with two illegal entrants from Cambodia.
Nguyen Tan Binh, director of the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Health, said during a virtual meeting on April 28 held to discuss COVID-19 prevention and control in the city that the risk of transmission occurring in border areas remains high. This is largely due to the huge number of people who travel back and forth, both legally and illegally.
He also stressed that hospitals in Cambodia are currently overloaded due to a rise in COVID-19 cases. Therefore, many Vietnamese citizens there are attempting to find ways to return to home, including individuals who have contracted COVID-19. This represents a new threat to localities in general and Ho Chi Minh City in particular.
The southern city’s Department of Health immediately directed hospitals to implement prevention measures and requested that local people wear face masks in public areas, as well as declaring information honesty when filling in their health form.
Source: VNA/VNS/VOV/VIR/SGT/Nhan Dan/Hanoitimes
|Raymond Mallon, a senior economic expert based in Vietnam|
Most external observers recognise Vietnam’s socioeconomic performance since 1975 as a remarkable development success story. From one of the world’s poorest countries, Vietnam has drastically reduced poverty and leapfrogged to middle-income status, while also achieving health and education outcomes typically seen at much higher income levels.
The Party formally adopted central planning as the economic model for the reunified country in 1976 with a focus on state-owned heavy industry, collectivisation of agriculture, and abolishing private enterprises.
The country faced enormous difficulties over the following decade with limited resources, economic instability, food shortages, and negligible private investment, coupled with US led-economic sanctions and cessation of development support from major western development agencies.
There was some decentralised experimentation with economic reforms in the early 1980s targeting market-based production incentives. This experimentation helped demonstrate that economic reforms could improve well-being.
Despite a struggling economy, Vietnam was able to develop a relatively effective and equitable system for delivering public health and education services to the bulk of the population. The resulting improvements in human capability helped lay the foundations for subsequent successful economic reforms.
The relatively equitable distribution of agricultural land early in the reform process was also crucial as it helped ensure broad-based benefits, thus helping build support for such reforms.
Renovation and integration
The economic situation was dire when the doi moi reforms were formally announced in 1986 with food shortages, high poverty rates, hyper-inflation, and macroeconomic instability. External economic inflows from the former Eastern bloc countries were also set to decline further with the break-up of the former Soviet Union.
The reforms were introduced incrementally as the process required “learning by doing” and because extensive consensus building was often needed prior to securing the support needed to implement reforms.
Key initial reforms included allowing farmers to use agricultural land to farm and to allow farm produce to be sold in the markets. Restrictions on small-scale private retail activity were also lifted. The previous sector focus moved from heavy industry to more labour-intensive agriculture, manufacturing, and services. These reforms generated an immediate positive supply response, boosting food availability and economic growth rates.
The successful macroeconomic stabilisation programmes in the late 1980s and early 1990s were also critical to improving living standards and providing the greater certainty needed to mobilise foreign and domestic investment in business activity.
Tax and budget reforms implemented from the late 1980s, together with increased inflows of development support, led to increasing budget revenues, and a greater concentration of public expenditure on providing better public services and infrastructure.
Following the adoption of a foreign investment law in 1987, and subsequent trade reforms, foreign direct investment (FDI) and trade increased dramatically. By the late 1990s trade and FDI to GDP were high relative to other comparable countries. These ratios have continued to grow over the last two decades.
The United States lifted its objections to multilateral (World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and Asian Development Bank) financing operations in 1993 and loosened its trade embargo in 1994, further expanding the range of investment financing and trade opportunities available to Vietnam.
Vietnam actively pursued international trade and economic integration agreements since the 1990s. Membership of ASEAN in 1995 and the ASEAN Free Trade Area was an important turning point in Vietnam economic development and its place within the region.
Vietnam acceded to the World Trade Organization in 2007, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership in 2019 and signed the Regional Economic Cooperation Partnership last year. It has also signed bilateral trade agreements with several countries, notably the EU, Japan, South Korea, and the US.
Rapidly-growing external economic links stimulated competition and facilitated rapid inflows of tech, know-how and ideas in addition to increased capital and access to international markets. Increasing numbers of Vietnamese began travelling abroad for business and leisure further facilitated the transfer of ideas.
The late 1990s/early 2000s enterprise law and related reforms marked an important turning point leading to the gradual emergence of a domestic corporate sector. Prior to these reforms, bureaucratic obstacles had made it difficult for private businesses to grow and develop the scale often needed to engage with foreign investors and to be competitive in international markets.
Since the 2000s, the government had focussed on regular review of, and actions to address, bottlenecks to trade and business. Business-related laws were periodically amended, and bureaucratic and administrative procedures were gradually streamlined despite periodic setbacks.
Government consultations with the business community and other stakeholders to identify constraints became more regular and systematic. This was important as businesses faced increased competition from new business entrants.
The net result is that domestic private output, employment and exports grew at a faster rate than both the state and FDI in recent years. While the pandemic has particularly impacted the domestic private sector over the last 12 months, overall private sector growth is expected to recover strongly from 2021.
|Vietnam has transformed immensely over the past few decades, photo Le Toan|
Reaching developed country status
Vietnam is already close to, or exceeds, average developed country levels for some health and education indicators. However, there remain major gaps relative to average per capita income in developed countries and in areas such as the human living environment.
Reducing these gaps will not be easy, given the challenging global economy, climate change, the ongoing impacts of the pandemic, and a population that will soon start ageing. Rapid urbanisation provides an opportunity for accelerated poverty growth but needs to be managed well to improve living environments in urban and rural areas. Global technological innovations related to Industry 4.0 will disrupt the status quo generating both opportunities and risks.
Sustained broad-based productivity growth will be essential for reaching developed country per capita income levels. Accelerated progress in developing vocational training, higher education, and lifelong learning opportunities, while continuing to strengthen the relevance of primary and secondary education, will be critical to accelerating productivity growth.
Reducing the substantive productivity gaps between informal and formal employment, between women and men, between rural and urban areas, and between different sectors needed could boost growth, generate more benefits for marginalised groups, and promote more equitable economic growth.
Sustained efforts to enhance the competitiveness of domestic private enterprises will also be critical. Policymakers should continue working with the business community, workers, educators and the community to identify and address bottlenecks. Renewed efforts are needed to further reduce corruption.
Benchmarking Vietnam’s performance with neighbouring countries has proved to be an effective tool for holding government agencies accountable for delivering improvements. This approach should be extended to other priority policy areas.
The potential scale economy benefits from urban agglomeration are substantial. Developing urban clusters can facilitate technology transfer and help nurture the development of a creative and innovation-led economy.
A renewed focus is needed to build market economy institutions. There is a need for strong and independent economic regulators (for example, for competition, energy, and telecommunications), to enforce property rights (for instance, courts, and arbitration), to better protect the environment, and to improve transparency, corporate governance, and accountability mechanisms.
A growing middle-income population will demand better environmental management and improved living environments, including better-enforced pollution controls, reduced environmental degradation, improved sanitation and waste management, and increased parks and green areas. Improved living environments will also be important in attracting and retaining the best national and international talent needed to build a creative, knowledge-based economy.
Better environmental infrastructure and management is also needed to sustain improvements in productivity and to facilitate urban agglomerations. In addition to promoting national and international action to slow climate change, increased attention should be given to the impacts of climate change when planning infrastructure development.
It will be increasingly important to boost public expenditure efficiency and to reallocate resources to better reflect the priorities of an increasingly urbanised and middle-class society, an increasingly more sophisticated economy, and an ageing population with declining workforce participation rates.
Despite these real and difficult challenges, there are good reasons for remaining optimistic that Vietnam will achieve its ambitious goals.
Manoj Barthwal – Chairman, Indian Business Chamber in Vietnam
As a prominent member of ASEAN, and with a host of free trade agreements with the developed world, Vietnam foresees a bigger role in world politics and trade. It, therefore, needs its strategic partnership with India to maintain its superiority and sovereignty in the region.
The uncertainty in global trade due to the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the over-dependence of world trade on China and the importance of the India-Vietnam trade route for international business. There is a growing realisation across the world to have an alternative cost effective manufacturing hub and a reliable source of finished goods and raw materials.
Vietnam, due to its proximity to China and India and due to its size, makes for a symbiotic partnership to achieve this goal. Vietnam has shown its exemplary resilience in fighting the coronavirus pandemic, whereas India has shown its manufacturing strength in being the largest supplier of COVID-19 vaccines to the world.
In light of the above, I foresee a possibility of very strong business ties between the two nations. My goal as a chairman of the Indian Business Chamber in Vietnam is to improve the understanding of each other’s business interests and inherit strengths, so that we may work towards realising the true trade and investment potential between the two nations and complement each other in getting due recognition on global platforms.
Michael Chiu – Chairman, Hong Kong Business Association Vietnam
Vietnam has done a stellar job in handling the pandemic and is admired by most of the world for a country that has limited resources to handle this level of adversary. Vietnam has raised its game to maintain growth during 2020 and the trend continues for a very positive trajectory into 2021.
The association has been a great source of information for our community during COVID-19 and we continue to disseminate information about business opportunities in Vietnam and for collaboration opportunities with the Hong Kong business community in Vietnam and in Hong Kong.
The investment from Hong Kong and China has not slowed down, and indeed we are seeing many first-time investors in Vietnam. Vietnam is on the road map for many to expand to and this will continue to materialise.
The association has been participating at high level conversations through the Vietnam Business Forum and other mediums, representing members and investors to communicate challenges and contributing to administrative reform and Industry 4.0 improvement with the Vietnamese government.
These constructive conversations will continue to benefit our community of members and their investments in Vietnam. We continue to assist our members to access the Vietnamese market by sharing our experience, knowledge, and connections.
Patrick Downey – Manager, Harrison Assessments Talent Solutions
My recommendation would be for the new government to follow the policies and procedures of the last one. This particularly applies to the COVID-19 pandemic which has been the most adverse event to happen to the world for many years but the past government did a very good job in handling it and keeping it under reasonable control. This needs to continue until it is truly eliminated.
Our business with the Success Software entity is focused via our Harrison Assessments Talent Solutions distributorship on assisting companies to recruit, develop, and also train personnel to maximise productivity, professionalism, and results.
However, with many organisations reducing staff and business functions because of the adverse effect of COVID-19, the negative reaction has not only been detrimental to them but has seriously and adversely effected our business. Here’s to the end of the COVID-19 pandemic and a bright and prosperous future for all.
Kenneth Atkinson – Senior board member, British Chamber of Commerce Vietnam
We would like to congratulate Vietnam on its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, as all our members have been very grateful for Vietnam’s swift action and successful containment of community spread and all have considered themselves lucky to be in Vietnam.
As one of the oldest business chambers in Vietnam, it is especially pleasing to see the growth of Vietnam’s engagement with the international community and its success in the chairmanship of ASEAN in 2020 and election as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council in 2019, as well as the second tenure as council president during the 2020-2021 period.
These efforts help Vietnam attract continuing high levels of foreign investment and should continue to do so going forward. In 2020, we also celebrated the 10th anniversary of the United Kingdom’s strategic partnership with Vietnam and conclusion of negotiations of the UK-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement. This maintains the tariff reductions on trade gained as part of the EU-Vietnam deal and also improves market access for UK companies.
Our business centre, which supports trade and investment between our two countries, has already seen an increase in enquiries from the UK, and we have seen a significant increase in trade flows in the first quarter of 2020.
We look forward to continuing our engagement with Vietnamese authorities and companies and also to assisting in the growth of UK trade and investment.
Aleksandrs Parfjonovs – Head of Vietnam Operations, Grindeks JSC
Generally, compared with all other countries, Vietnam has handled the COVID-19 situation amazingly, as currently in Europe the pandemic is increasing and it has huge impacts on businesses. For example, most of our head office employees must work from home.
As for the new government, we have a new health minister who supported a very important law for the pharmaceutical industry and currently our business in Vietnam is actually growing because we can supply more high-quality medicines to the patients, despite COVID-19.
I think the Vietnamese government is doing a good job and needs more support to implement the EVFTA, as this new policy was extremely difficult to achieve, but is even more difficult to implement. I personally hope that the vaccination plan will be implemented faster and the government will open borders, especially for foreign experts who are vaccinated to move without quarantine. However, this is a global challenge which every country is working hard to resolve.
Greg Ohan – CEO and co-pioneer, The Sentry Vietnam
We have been very fortunate as the government has taken many effective measures to minimise the negative impact of COVID-19. Vietnam learned and drew from its experience in dealing with the SARS virus in 2003. Suspending flights immediately and restricting visas and visitors to contain the spread of the pandemic appears to have paid off.
As the number of cases began to drop, gradually lifting social isolation measures and reopening the economy allowed businesses to resume. This has maintained a positive environment for business and set the global spotlight on Vietnam.
Like other organisations, we have stepped up to the challenge, having to adapt our business to both protect our employees and to continue serving our customers and communities.
Business-model innovation was a key differentiator for our firm during the pandemic. New digital experiences and services in response to changes in customer behaviours and needs, in addition to new strategic partnerships, allowed us to be more resilient.
As a result of Vietnam’s policy, we have gained an advantage of resiliency compared to others. While normal business operations will never be the same, thanks to Vietnam’s recovery, both domestic and international investors are increasingly looking to Vietnam.
K. M. Leong – General manager, Southeast Asia, Xiaomi International
Despite COVID-19, the explosion of digital transformation and new platforms has been creating so many opportunities for corporations of all sizes.
During this uncertain time, technology is the key to opening opportunities for growth, enhancing operations, improving customer experience, and creating new business models. In these changed circumstances, digital transformation would have a bigger effect, enabling enterprises to play a critical role in shaping new realities to support the local market.
Xiaomi understands that digital transformation is a long-term process. Xiaomi achieved amazing results across all segments in 2020, and we will keep investing in research and development and support the local market in alignment with the government’s directions.
Katsuhiko Usui – General director, Sapporo Vietnam
Vietnam has made great efforts which and achieved great development in economic and social aspects. According to statistics, by the end of 2020, Vietnam’s economy has a scale of about $343 billion, ranking in the top 40 largest economies in the world and fourth in ASEAN.
In addition, Vietnam is the only Southeast Asian country to achieve five UN action targets, with groups of measures to reduce CO2 emissions, promote renewable energy, and enhance resilience to climate change. Efforts in many aspects have helped Vietnam’s national brand value reach $319 billion in 2020, ranking 33rd in the world.
We believe that Vietnam will continue to be one of the most attractive long-term destinations.
Sapporo Vietnam has been operating in this market for 10 years, and we will continue to bring new and unique experiences to Vietnamese consumers, thereby becoming an essential brand in Vietnam.
|Capital injections loom in finance M&A|
Japanese financial group Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group (SMFG) – parent of Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC) and consumer arm SMBCCF – was last week reportedly to acquire 49 per cent in FE Credit, Vietnam’s largest consumer finance company under VPBank.
Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh told Masahiro Yoshimura, general manager of Business Development Department at SMFG, at a reception last week that he welcomed SMBC’s investment in FE Credit, and noted his belief that the cooperation will be a success.
SMFG will pay $1.4 billion to buy 49 per cent at FE Credit, making it the largest deal conducted by a Japanese bank in Vietnam’s financial institution landscape. “The looming acquisition comes as Vietnam’s consumer loan market rapidly expands on the back of strong and sustained economic growth,” reported Nikkei Asia. “Sumitomo is aiming to widen its business in Asia by leveraging its digitalisation and customer management expertise.” FE Credit, after the deal, is now valued at $2.8 billion.
A representative of VPBank told VIR, “Through this transaction, FE Credit is expected to receive additional support and international expertise in capital resources, as well as management skills from SMFG, especially from SMBCCF.
“At the same time, this transaction will inject a large amount of capital to VPBank, bolstering the bank’s solid growth fundamentals and enhancing its financial capabilities to explore its huge potential as well as capitalise on the emerging financial industry in Vietnam,” the representative added.
VPBank’s Board of Directors initially forecast that a successful initial public offering could triple FE Credit’s share price compared to the book value after equitisation.
The $1.4 billion bet on FE Credit is part of SMFG’s strategy to increase its footprint in Asia. The mega deal will offer mutual benefits, where the Japanese lender fund could jump on the lucrative consumer finance bandwagon in Vietnam, and FE Credit could enhance its operations to international standards.
SMBC Group is one of the three biggest banking and financial groups in Japan, with total assets of over $2.1 trillion as of December 31 last year. The group operates in retail banking, corporate banking, and investment banking worldwide, and is present in over 40 countries.
Last December, SMFG was allegedly planning to acquire an Asian lender, specifically in Vietnam, the Philippines, and India. Accordingly, the bank would cooperate with a global investment bank on US deal-making activities.
Elsewhere, international banks including DBS Group, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, OCBC, and Standard Chartered are allegedly vying to each other to buy Citibank’s retail banking business in Asia after the latter’s announcement to shut down this arm in 13 markets a fortnight ago.
“The sale process will start within a couple of weeks, they added, declining to be named as they were not authorised to speak to media. Potential bids from the regional banks and Standard Chartered, which makes most of its profit in Asia, underscores their growing appetite for businesses like credit cards and mortgages in a push to lock in long-term income growth,” Reuters noted.
“Asia is critical to our group’s strategy, and we will allocate resources to drive profitable growth,” a Citi spokesman in Hong Kong said.
At the same time, Japanese banks MUFG and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group, along with Brit-based Standard Chartered, are mentioned as other potential bidders. In South Korea, financial institutions OK Financial Group and DGB Financial Group are strong candidates if a bidding war to acquire Citibank’s retail subsidiary takes place.
Specifically, DBS – the Singaporean multinational banking and financial services corporation – is reportedly mulling over buying Citibank’s retail business in India, according to The Hindu Times.
“DBS has always been open to exploring sensible bolt-on opportunities in markets where we have a consumer banking franchise and where we can overlay our digital capabilities,” DBS said in a statement.
Besides DBS, Standard Chartered and Kotak Mahindra Bank and Axis Bank also show their interest in the deal in India. Meanwhile, Bloomberg reported the Bank of the Philippines – the country’s oldest lender – is mulling over acquiring Citibank’s retail arm domestically.
“We have told them that as soon as there is any information, we will take a look at it and most likely, we will be interested,” the bank’s president TG Limcaoco said, referring to Citigroup’s retail banking business.
In Vietnam, Citibank has been one of the most prestigious foreign lenders for years, providing a wide range of services from credit cards to wealth management, among others.
Citibank’s representative in Vietnam previously said that the withdrawal will not affect to its long-term commitment in this country. Citigroup’s consumer banking business in 13 markets made up for $4.2 billion of the bank’s revenue in 2020 of $74.3 billion.
By Nhat Minh