HCM City’s industrial production grew by 3.8 per cent year-on-year in the first three months of the year, and retail sales went up by 12 per cent. It suggests the COVID-19 pandemic has been well controlled and enterprises feel secure about doing business again, according to the city Department of Industry and Trade.
Its director, Bui Ta Hoang Vu, speaks to Viet Nam News about the manufacturing situation in the first quarter and measures needed in the second to sustain it.
How was the retail sector’s performance in the first quarter of the year and what will the department do to stimulate consumption and boost the sector’s growth during the rest of the year?
Total retail sales and services in HCM City in the first quarter of the year were estimated at VND279.04 trillion (US$12.1 billion), an increase of 6.2 per cent over the same period last year. Of this, retail sales were worth VND156.5 trillion ($6.79 billion), a year-on-year increase of 12 per cent.
We enjoyed some growth in Q1. To maintain the momentum we have to do a lot of work to promote trade and production activities. To be specific, we continue to deepen our linkages with provinces and cities in the supply chains for goods and services through agreements we have signed. We will continue to join hands with localities to organise programmes that enable enterprises from other cities and provinces to meet directly with enterprises and traders at wholesale markets in the city so that they can together make market forecasts and prepare goods for the former to meet the city’s demand and vice versa.
In addition, we facilitate businesses’ promotional activities by solving administrative procedures related to promotion activities quickly and conveniently.
Every year the department receives 500,000 applications to carry out promotion programmes from businesses. This year, with an increase in IT use, the number is expected to rise by 10-15 per cent.
We have got the green light from the city People’s Committee to organise consumer promotion fairs and a concentrated promotion programme along with the tourism sector, airlines, transport companies, accommodation establishments, and shopping centres to offer big sales promotions for local and foreign tourists as well as city residents.
We will start organising the concentrated promotion programme this year. Other cities in the region such as Singapore and Bangkok have impressive sales seasons and HCM City will gradually learn from them to become a shopping hub of the country and region.
We will also take steps to stimulate investment, expand land availability for production establishments and improve the quality of human resources for the industrial, trading and import-export sectors.
We are still both fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and intensifying economic activities. Therefore, the first priority is to continue to ensure epidemic prevention at all production and trading facilities.
What do you think about the retail industry’s prospects this year?
With a network of nearly 240 supermarkets and shopping malls, 237 traditional markets and three large wholesale markets, and an increase in digital application in commercial activities, we expect the city’s retail industry to achieve double-digit growth this year.
In this, e-commerce will continue to be the bright spot and could reach a growth rate of 20 per cent.
Many consumers still complain about sales of fake goods on e-commerce platforms. How will your department deal with this issue to make shoppers feel secure when shopping online?
There are certain people who always operate in contravention of the provisions of the law. They sell knock-offs of famous brands or sell products with unclear origins. We have an agency associated with the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Market Surveillance Agency to strengthen inspection and strictly deal with violations like selling of counterfeit goods and products with unclear origins.
The department’s inspectorate has collaborated with the city Department of Information and Communications’ Inspectorate to gather information about online frauds. We work actively and have prevented a number of cases involving companies taking advantage of the online environment to sell illegal goods.
As for industrial production, what will the department do to sustain growth this year?
The city’s industrial production sector has recovered quarter after quarter, with the index of industrial production in the first quarter of 2021 going up by 3.8 per cent over the same period last year (it was down by 0.99 per cent in Q1 2020), with the four key sectors (electronics, mechanical engineering, food processing, and pharmaceutical chemicals-rubber-plastic) growing by 7.5 per cent.
This was thanks to enterprises being proactive in production and trading amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the assistance from the municipal government in addressing administrative issues rapidly and creating favourable conditions for businesses.
We have adopted many comprehensive solutions for improving the investment environment and making it easy for businesses to get land and capital and enhance the use of IT.
In the near future the city will announce policies to help firms operating in the industrial sector operate in a methodical way. We will continue to carry out the investment stimulation programme to enable more firms to get free loans to invest in new technologies and equipment and improve their competitiveness. — VNS