EC limits Vietnamese fuel lighters
The European Commission (EC) has officially announced anti-dumping duties on disposable gas-fuelled pocket lighters imported from Viet Nam.
Under the EC’s latest decision, lighters made in China and then transported to Viet Nam to evade anti-dumping duties will be subject to a tax rate of 0.065 euros (VND1,800) per unit.
Products that were exported to the European market from June 27 to December 13, 2012 are also included in the EC’s anti-dumping list.
The EC had launched earlier investigations into Vietnamese and Chinese gas lighter producers and exporters. These investigations, and customs data, revealed a sharp increase in gas lighters imported from Viet Nam into the European market since 1997.
In 2011 they made up 84 per cent of all European lighter imports.
During the reviewed period, Viet Nam also significantly increased its gas lighter imports from China, from 3 per cent in 1999 to 26 per cent in 2010.
On June 26, 2012, the EC initiated a probe on Chinese lighters attempting to evade anti-dumping duties via re-export to Viet Nam. The investigations lasted until April 26 this year.
Of the 15 Vietnamese businesses included in the EC investigation’s inquiry list, only seven provided feedback. They were mostly based in HCM City, central Nghe An, southern Binh Duong and Tay Ninh provinces.
Thaco, Peugeot cut deal to manufacture cars in Vietnam
Truong Hai Auto, also known as Thaco, will produce French-brand Peugeot cars in Vietnam late this year under a contract signed at the 2013 France-Vietnam Business Forum opened on Monday in HCMC.
Peugeot Company of France will transfer a complete knock-down Peugeot car sample to Thaco in late 2013 and another one in 2014. The local auto firm intends to build a new plant for assembling Peugeot cars, said Nguyen Mot, communication director of Thaco.
The two parties also inked a deal for distribution of Peugeot sedans in Vietnam. Through Thaco as an exclusive distributor, Peugeot will bring award-winning cars equipped with gasoline engines and automatic gearboxes from France to the local market.
Five showrooms for sale, warranty and maintenance of Peugeot cars will be set up in Thai Nguyen, Hanoi, Vinh, HCMC and Binh Duong this year. The distribution network will be expanded to 15 showrooms in 2014.
The 2013 France-Vietnam Business Forum is the first major event in the France-Vietnam Year. The event attracts 126 enterprises and agencies from France, including 91 small and medium-sized enterprises, two of which are operating in Vietnam.
The French enterprises are active in several areas like traffic infrastructure, electricity, environment, energy efficiency, food, healthcare, telecom, tourism, distribution and training. They have more than 1,000 business meetings with some 500 Vietnamese businesses on Monday and today to study the market potentials and find partners for operation in Vietnam.
Nicole Bricq, France’s minister for foreign trade, said Vietnam is one of the ASEAN nations that France will boost trade with in the coming time. France will invest more heavily in Vietnam to further penetrate this market and to improve the quality of Vietnamese products for export to other countries.
France is waiting for Vietnam to promote a number of transport, traffic and water treatment projects, she said.
According to the chairman of the French Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Vietnam (CCIFV), French entrepreneurs now have to get out of France and Europe to look for new destinations and Vietnam is said to be full of potentials for French firms.
At a press briefing on the sidelines of the forum, Nicole Bricq said France hoped the free trade agreement between Vietnam and the European Union (EU) would be signed soon to facilitate the two-way trade. Import tariff reductions are expected to give French goods lower prices in Vietnam.
France is the sixteenth largest investor in Vietnam with total foreign direct investment of US$3.1 billion as of end-2012.
France mainly invests in information and communications (22%), other services (19%), production and distribution of power, gas and water (17%), processing technology (13%), agriculture (6%), restaurant and hotel (6%) and construction (5%). The remaining fund from France has been poured into distribution, banking, insurance, traffic and science-technology.
Vietnam last year exported 2.69 billion euros, or US$3.5 billion, worth of products to France, an increase of 37.7% against 2011, and imported a total of 613.5 million euros, nearly US$800 million, up 7%.
Central bank launches fourth gold auction
The State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) today will sell 26,000 gold taels via another auction in an effort to narrow the wide gap between local and global gold prices that it failed to do during the three auctions held last week.
The total gold volume that has been processed into one-tael SJC gold bars for gold auctions amounts to about ten tons, a source told the Daily. The central bank this time set the reference price for auction at VND43.39 million a tael.
Each bidder must bid for at least 1,000 taels, twice the volume in the previous auctions, with the maximum bid volume fixed at 5,000 taels.
Local companies in the previous auctions had purchased a combined 53,400 taels of gold from SBV, equivalent to more than two tons of gold. However, as supply has still been way below demand, SBV will hold three more auctions this week.
The central bank also plans to organize more gold auctions until local banks and companies have no appetite for the yellow metal.
Local banks are required to stop gold mobilization and lending activities by June in line with SBV’s regulation. In a talk with the Daily last year, an SBV official said lenders would need about 20 tons of gold to settle all arrears, meaning commercial banks will have opportunities to buy big gold volumes at lower prices than in the market if SBV continuously offers gold supply as it is doing now.
An executive of a bank joining the three auctions said the gold purchased from the central bank helps his bank balance its position in a much faster way than planned.
As such, the aforesaid gold supply is to cover the amount that local banks are lacking rather than being directly launched onto the market. This is also a way helping local banks reduce gold volumes that they have to buy from other suppliers in the market.
The gap between local and global gold prices has slightly narrowed down. The closing gold price at Saigon Jewelry Holding Co. was VND43.45 million a tael on Monday, some VND3.6 million a tael higher than the global price at 6p.m. on the same day but lower than the VND4.1-million gap recorded last Friday.
The fact that global prices sharply rose while local prices only inched up late last week has resulted in local prices moving closer to global prices.
In fact, transactions in the market have shown no signs of considerable changes after the central bank started gold auctions.
For instance, trading volumes at SJC has still remained stable, with buying volume equal to selling volume every day, at around 1,000 taels, said Nguyen Cong Tuong, deputy sales manager of SJC. He noticed massive gold selling for fear of more supply from the central bank dragging down prices hasn’t been seen so far.
In the auctions last week, the winning bid prices fluctuated between VND43.2 million and VND43.22 million a tael.
Real estate firm seeks affordable housing investors
Real estate developer Nam Long Joint Stock Co will list 95.5 million shares on the HCM City Stock Exchange (HOSE) today with a reference price of VND27,000 per share.
This was announced by Nguyen Vinh Tran, deputy general director of the company, who said that the company wanted to call on more investors as it was implementing many feasible projects for low and medium income people, meeting existing market demand.
The company, which has a charter capital of VND955 billion (US$47.8 million), is one of very few firms in Viet Nam with 20 years of experience focusing solely on real estate project development.
Its strength is that it is one of the biggest land owners with nearly 570ha earmarked for project development in key locations across southern Viet Nam including Binh Duong, Long An, Can Tho, Vung Tau and HCM City.
“Nam Long targets to be among the top three leaders in the affordable housing market, providing an average 2,000 units or more per year. The company also wants to be one of three leading urban area developers in Viet Nam by 2020,” Tran said.
For the near future, the company’s key business strategies are focused on its affordable housing programme called EHome (Economy – Efficiency – Ecology) and Urban Area Development, which have been successful in the past.
Non-life insurance firms suffer losses while sector booms
While the non-life insurance sector recorded strong growth in 2012, most of the businesses in the sector reported losses.
The non-life insurance market collected VND22.8 trillion (US$1.08 billion) in fees, a year on year growth over 10 per cent. But 17 out of 29 non-life insurers reported a collective loss of VND161.9 billion ($5.5 million).
According to the Ministry of Finance’s Insurance Management and Supervisory Department director Trinh Thanh Hoan, the problem was due to unhealthy competitiveness and unsustainable development.
He said that if all the businesses were inspected, mistakes would likely be revealed in all of them.
Trinh Quang Tuyen, chairman of the Viet Nam Insurance Association, agreed, saying that the cooperation between the businesses was weak and they often tried to steal each other’s customers.
“If they do not change, they will continue losing out,” said Tuyen.
Under the Insurance Law, insurance commissions are paid only to agents and brokers. But in order to increase sales, businesses gave a portion of their commissions to customers to get them to buy insurance.
In some branches, customers received incentives that amounted to more than employees’ salary.
The desire to get as many clients as possible means that many agents and brokers do not check their clients carefully enough, so compensation ends up totaling more than profits.
Do Thi Kim Lien, former CEO of AAA Insurance, told local newspapers about a recent vehicle insurance case in which her company paid VND1 trillion ($47 million) in compensation for over 10,000 accidents.
Since the amount was so large, she questioned whether they were real accidents or tricks played by clever garages. Her staff was unable to uncover the truth.
Another reason for the loss was that most of the insurance companies earned their profit from financial investments, which did not do well this year.
Director Hoan told the conference that the department was working on a draft decree for sanctions against violations, adding that “a billion dong penalty might not affect an enterprise, but an individual violator would see a penalty of millions as a real problem”.
Inspections of insurance businesses would also continue, said deputy director Phung Ngoc Khanh.
To promote a better environment for insurance businesses, the conference also urged agencies and businesses to implement more training to improve the quality of their staff.
Low-cost housing helps revive real estate market
The real estate market’s recovery will be led by low-cost housing and land plot segments this year, according to market analysts.
They say their assessment is based on rising demand for these kinds of properties and the government’s recent changes of policies encouraging development of these market segments.
The prolonged economic slowdown has seen a sharp fall in demand for luxury homes. Also, increasing competition in this segment has seen many developers shift their focus to affordable homes so as to meet market demand and diversify their risk.
There is a huge gap between demand and supply of low-cost homes. By 2015, the total housing shortage in urban areas is estimated at 891.8 million square metres, more than three-fourths of which will in the low-income segment.
To meet the market demand and help real estate developers settle their inventory problem, ministries and sectors have started implementing several new policies, particularly supporting development of the low-cost housing segment.
One of them is the Ministry of Construction’s Circular No 02/2013, which allows enterprises to change the apartment structure of commercial housing projects to make them more affordable.
Other policy incentives include a decision to set up a Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) this July that would, according to Deputy Construction Minister Nguyen Tran Nam, help mobilise idle money from society and ease the current capital shortage in the real estate market.
Nam said those contributing to the REIT should be those experienced in making “professional investments”.
These policies have been welcomed by both individuals and enterprises because changing the apartment structure creates more opportunities for low-income earners to buy apartments, while the trust fund will help developers mobilise much-needed capital for their projects.
However, the main catalyst in reviving the local real estate market is likely to be the recent cuts in lending rates, experts say.
Dang Hung Vo, former Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, said the lower lending rates would have an impact on people who really need houses to live in as opposed to making speculative investments.
There would be more people who want to take advantage of this opportunity and withdraw their savings from banks to buy houses, he said.
Many commercial banks have already lowered the deposit interest rates to around 7.5 per cent per year, suggesting that lending rates could drop to 10 per cent per year as the central bank expects.
In addition, the central bank’s decision announced last month to pump VND30 trillion (US$1.4 billion) into five banks to enable them provide loans on easy terms to home buyers and social-housing developers has prompted the launch of several preferential credit packages.
According to a circular issued by the State Bank of Viet Nam on March 14, buyers of low-income housing, including government workers and military personnel, can borrow loans at just six percent interest for the first three years for buying houses with an area of less than 70sq.m that cost no more than VND15 million per square metre.
BIDV has unveiled a VND30 trillion ($1.44 billion) package for developing social housing projects while Sacombank and HDBank have come up with VND1 trillion ($48 million) and VND1.5 trillion ($72 million) packages respectively, aiming to boost the low-cost housing segment.
Observers expect more credit packages targeting the real estate market in the coming time, sparking hopes of a much-awaited recovery.
In addition to the low-cost housing segment, land plots, particularly those that have developed infrastructure, are attracting long-term investors since they have “soft prices” and can be used for various purposes.
For now, more transactions relating to land plots are taking place in provinces neighbouring HCM City, like Long An and Binh Duong.
Binh Duong is considered to the most attractive place to invest in land plots since infrastructure development is advanced in the province compared to other places, with the emergence of many new and modern urban areas.
Land plot transactions in the province’s residential areas including My Phuoc 1, My Phuoc 2, Eastern Land and Bencat Center have recently increased significantly, and this has led to steady increases in prices as well.
Central city seeks hi-tech investment
The central coast city of Da Nang will continue to perfect infrastructure facilities at its Hi-Tech Park to help attract more investment, especially from foreign groups.
According to the park’s development plan for the next two years, top priority would be given to encouraging foreign investors from Japan, South Korea, the US, Taiwan and Singapore.
The plan was approved late last year by the municipal People’s Committee and also aims to accelerate administrative reforms to better facilitate investors and support them in seeking financial resources to develop projects.
In addition to implementing measures for human resource training to better meet the demands of foreign investors for skilled employees, speeding up domestic and overseas investment promotion to timely provide enough updated information about the park would also a focus.
The Da Nang Hi-Tech Park, the third of its kind in the country after Hoa Lac and HCM City hi-tech parks, covers an area of 1,010ha in Hoa Vang District and was first established in October 2010.
Over half of the park is designated for facilities related to scientific and technological research and development as well as hi-tech human resource training.
Other prioritised industries include biological, new material and energy production, nano-technology and environmental and microelectronics technologies.
City authorities are offering preferential policies on land use tax, waste water treatment fees and corporate income tax to encourage investors.
Last year, the park’s management board granted approval for Japanese firm Tokyo Keiki Co to develop a US$40 million factory producing electromagnetic switching valves and high-pressure pumps for export, making it the first project in the park.
Another Japanese firm, Niwa Foundry Company, has also committed to pump $21.87 million into a 2ha casting parts production project in the park.
The US-based semiconductor Qualcomm pledges to broaden its mobile ecosystem by offering cheaper smartphones, better networks and more local digital content for users.
The company has invested in foundation technologies that allow computer programmers to create quicker and better products.
More than 70 of local computer programmers of applications have taken part in the company’s workshop on new technologies for the Vietnamese market.
The company has also connected Vietnamese programmers and international investors who want to work with network service providers’ value-added units.
By 2016, 90 per cent of the country’s population will be able to use 3G services as the infrastructure in Viet Nam is the best in Southeast Asia.
Rotterdam, HCM City to sign environmental MoU
HCM City and Holland’s Rotterdam city are set to sign a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that will advance co-operation between the two sides in climate change adaptation.
The development follows the city submitting a comprehensive climate change adaptation strategy at a meeting held between the two sides today.
‘The established climate adaptation strategy is the start of a new phase for which Rotterdam has been explicitly requested to continue to play a role, especially when it comes to securing responsibilities and increasing the knowledge of the various government agencies. The cooperation agreement will formalise this,” said Rotterdam deputy mayor Alexandra van Huffelen.
Huffelen will sign the new MoU on behalf of the Rotterdam, the Dutch Consulate in HCM City said in a press release.
HCM City is one of the cities in the knowledge network Connecting Delta Cities (CDC) and the completed strategy will be shared with CDC member cities, it said.
“Delta cities are to some extent similar throughout the world. More and more people are living in these areas, there is a need for more space and the cities are prone to the sea level rise because of their location.
“The strategy for HCM City could, therefore, serve as a blueprint for an integrated approach to the climate issues in delta cities around the world,” said Van Huffelen.
The problems city residents experience and the risks they face will only increase as a result of the predicted rising sea levels, increased water discharge from rivers and rising temperatures, the press release noted.
Since its population and economy are growing rapidly at the same time, HCM City has been expanding towards flood prone areas along the coast. A third of the city is already exposed to flooding at present. The city’s expansion and urbanisation is bound to contiue, given its attraction as a location to move to, and its population has already doubled in the past 25 years.
If HCM City’s master plan through to 2025 is implemented, its built-up surface will increase by fifty per cent and two-thirds of the city will experience regular flooding, the press release noted.
Two international digital audio-visual exhibitions open
At least 55 companies from 10 countries, including Viet Nam, are taking part in two exhibitions showcasing digital audio and visual equipment in HCM City.
The exhibition, which began yesterday, is in two parts: the “Viet Nam International Digital Photo and Sign Show 2013” and the “Viet Nam International Broadcast and AV Show 2013”.
The exhibitions showcase advanced technologies such as audio and broadcasting equipment as well as cameras. The two exhibitions offer Vietnamese companies more business opportunities and act as a bridge connecting investors and producers around the world. The other countries involved include Japan, South Korea, the US, France, Singapore, Thailand, China and Indonesia.
Eliademy, a free online classroom from Finland
CBTec is launching the Vietnamese version of Eliademy, a free online classroom that supports educators and students in creating, sharing and managing courses. It is available for anybody to teach and learn any subject, for free.
Eliademy’s mission is to democratise education with technology. “We want to change the global educational system,” said Sotiris Makrygiannis, the company’s co-founder and CEO.
“With Eliademy, we bring modern Internet service innovation in design and usability to educators and students all around the world for free,” said Sergey Gerasimenko, co-founder and Chief Product Officer at CBTec, the company behind Eliademy.
Three firms delist in May on heavy losses
Three companies will have to delist shares from the HCM City Stock Exchange, including Meca Vneco Investment And Electricity Construction (VES), International Foods (IFS) and South Vietnam Container Shipping (VSG).
VSG and IFS had accumulated losses of VND140.7 billion (US$6.7 million) and VND495.7 billion ($23.6 million) respectively, exceeding their charter capital. VES will delist due to consecutive losses during the past three years.
The delisting will be effective for these three stocks from May 3.
HCM City Securities Co leads Ha Noi’s market share
HCM City Securities Co continued to rank first in market share on the Ha Noi Stock Exchange in the first quarter, increasing from 8.4 per cent to 10.54 per cent.
In second place was VNDirect Securities (VND) with 8.09 per cent.
Two new names in the top 10 included Saigon – Hanoi Securities (SHS) and BIDV Securities. Meanwhile, two brokerages of Golden Bridge Securities and Dong A Bank Securities left the top 10.
Bao Viet exceeds dividend target with 15 per cent
Insurer Bao Viet Holdings (BVH) said dividends from last year were paid at 15 per cent, exceeding their target by 3 per cent, with this ratio remaining for this year.
Last year the group’s profits amounted to VND1.86 trillion (US$88.5 million), increasing 22 per cent compared to 2011. It expects this year’s revenue to reach VND17.8 trillion ($847.6 million)– rising 11.4 per cent over last year – and VND1.76 trillion ($83.8 million) in gross profit.
BVH shares added 3.8 per cent yesterday.
Over VND2 trillion in Government bonds mobilised
A total of VND2.1 trillion (US$100 million) worth of Government bonds was sold this week, according to the Ha Noi Stock Exchange.
VND1.75 trillion ($83.3 million) worth, or 35 per cent of the bonds issued by the Viet Nam Development Bank, found buyers on Wednesday alone. Bond yields ranged between 8.8-9.4 per cent.
On Tuesday, the Bank for Social Policies put up VND1 trillion worth of bonds ($47.6 million) but only VND350 billion ($16.6 million) was raised. The bonds yielded 9-9.29 per cent.
Since the beginning of this year, the two banks have raised nearly VND12.1 trillion ($576.1 million) through bond auctions.
State budget revenue drops despite increase in imports
Imports and exports in the first three months totaled US$58.8 billion, up 18.3 per cent over the same period last year.
Meanwhile, the State budget revenue from imports and exports reached VND41.15 trillion ($1.9 billion), equal to 17.3 per cent of the estimate – a drop of over VND3.4 trillion ($162 million) or 7.7 per cent year-on-year, according to the Ministry of Finance.
After VND14 trillion ($667 million) in value added tax was refunded, the State budget revenue from import-export in the first quarter stood at VND27.15 trillion ($1.3 billion), or 16.2 per cent of the estimate – down 10.7 per cent year-on-year.
The decline was attributed to the sharp decline in trade of items subject to high tariffs, such as automobiles, said the finance ministry.
Under Viet Nam’s commitments to free trade agreements, import duties on a number of products will be gradually lowered.
Can Tho-Con Dao air route reopened to meet rising travel demands
The Viet Nam Air Service Company (VASCO) has resumed flights between the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho and Con Dao Island.
Four flights per week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday) will travel the route starting May 1, as the number of tourists visiting Con Dao Island is expected to see a sharp increase during the summer holidays. The air route was first launched in 2011 but was suspended this year due to low demand.
Viet Nam agriculture conference gets underway in capital
Experts are reviewing the agriculture production – both domestic and global – during a conference that kicked off on Thursday.
Agriculture will face many challenges this year due to the slow recovery of the global economy and declining agro-export prices.
The sector met its goals for 2012, but growth decreased to 2.72 per cent from 4 per cent.
There were some bright spots: exports of rice, coffee and wood products hit over US$3 billion and seafood exports ranked fourth in the world.
Experts urged sustainable development as well as restructuring of farming, breeding, aquaculture and epidemic prevention.
Import tax rate for styrene polymers bumped to 5 per cent
The import tax rate for styrene polymers will increase from three to five per cent under Ministry of Finance Circular 38/2013/TT-BTC, which goes into effect on May 19.
In addition, filament thread and high-carbon copper steel for rail tank cars, which currently are imported tax-free, will be subject to a three per cent tax.
Mekong targets GDP rise
The Mekong Delta region has planned to raise the average income per capita to VND36 million (US$1,700) this year.
It was an increase of VND3.7 million ($176) compared to last year, said the South-western Region Steering Committee.
The region would be developed comprehensively in agriculture, industry, trade, service and tourism to achieve the goal.
As a strong contributor, the agriculture sector’s growth would be accelerated followed by the diversification of products and intensive farming, according to the committee.
Areas specialising in cultivating rice, fruit trees and short-term cash crops would be established along with the development of plants for industrial materials and producing animal feed.
Advancements in the aquaculture industry would be implemented along with multi-target irrigation systems and agro-aqua product processing facilities.
In the industrial sector, priorities would be given to small and medium operations with a focus on the imminent utilisation of gas in the South-western sea area for the gas. The gas would further support the growth of the electricity and fertiliser industry, industrial zones and sea transport.
Phu Quoc Island district of Kien Giang Province would be developed into a tourism centre while Can Tho City is expected to become an industrial, trading and service centre, utilised as a driving force for the entire region’s development.
Priorities would be also given in handling pressing issues, such as land and water environment protection and job generation.
The national target programme on poverty elimination would be implemented comprehensively along with supported policies in housing, clean water, land and social security with an aim to help the more impoverished to expand production and trade.
Farmers benefit from co-operation
Farmers in two Can Tho communes increased their profit margin by almost 50 per cent in last year’s winter-spring crop by pooling land and other resources.
A conference held in the Mekong Delta city on Wednesday also heard that in Vinh Thanh District’s Thanh An and Thanh Loi communes, an average profit of VND16.6 million (nearly US$800) per hectare were earned from applying the large-field model.
Under this model, many small farmers pool their land to achieve economies of scale.
Growing interest has helped Can Tho City increase the total area under the model from 1,800ha during last year’s crop to 9,100ha now, the conference heard.
In Thoi Lai and Vinh Thanh districts, the area has expanded from 500ha and 700ha to 3,800ha and 3,200ha respectively.
Nguyen Van Phuoc, chairman of the Vinh Thanh People’s Committee, said the large-field model has catalysed local development by increasing produce value and boosting farmers’ incomes.
Three years after it was first adopted, 200 households in Thanh An Town established the Dong Van Co-operative by pooling 400ha of rice fields.
By exchanging information on cultivation methods and quality of strains, they farmers were able to extract maximum yield from their fields.
After harvesting bumper crops the co-operative signed agreements with large food and fertiliser companies that agreed to supply them with inputs and buy their produce.
Phuoc said three communes in the north of the Cai San area in the province have created a vast farm of over 2,000ha.
Pham Van Huynh, director of the city’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said at the seminar that the new model has helped change people’s farming habits with regard to sowing schedules, choosing rice varieties, and use of technology.
Farmers attending the seminar called on relevant authorities to further invest in infrastructure projects to build roads and irrigation systems that facilitate intensive cultivation.
Tran Manh Hung, chairman of Thanh Loi Commune, said the Government should issue policies that encourage businesses to buy and consume rice and enable farmers to access cheap loans.
Meanwhile, farmers are having difficulties selling their high-quality rice.
Le Van Thanh, a farmer from Dong Thang Commune in Can Tho City’s Co Do District, said that for the last winter-spring crop, he sowed high-quality Jasmine paddy on 2ha which produced over 20 tonnes of rice.
However, only 4.2 tonnes has been purchased so far.
In Can Tho alone, some 200,000 tonnes of high-quality rice have been left unsold and stockpiled since the harvest of the winter-spring crop.
The unsold quantity of high-quality paddy in Kien Giang Province amounted to 600,000 tonnes.
Many farmers in the province have not sold their winter-spring paddy, waiting for better prices.
PVN steps up project progress
PetroVietnam will speed up procedures and arrange capital needed to implement its on-going projects on schedule during the next three months, said PetroVietnam’s chairman Phung Dinh Thuc at a press conference in Ha Noi yesterday.
The projects on the list include the Nghi Son petrochemical refinery complex, two thermal power plants (Vung Ang 1 and Thai Binh 2) and two coal-fired power plants (Long Phu 1 and Song Hau 1).
An engineering, procurement and construction contract to build the US$9 billion Nghi Son Refinery was signed in central Thanh Hoa Province on January 27. Construction of the refinery is expected to start in July this year, with the refinery put into commercial operation in 2017.
This is a key oil and gas project for the country. Together with the Dung Quat refinery, the two plants are expected to meet 70 per cent of Viet Nam’s demand for petrol and oil and help ensure national energy security.
The group expects to sign 4-5 new oil contracts this quarter and start exploiting four oil mines – three in the country and one overseas. Two bio-fuel projects in Quang Ngai and Binh Phuoc will also be completed and run production trials this quarter.
Thuc said production of bio-fuels faced many difficulties due to low demand, but added that he expects the sector will improve from 2015 when a regulation promoting bio-fuels will take effect nationwide.
PetroVietnam produced 26,000 metric tonnes of bio-fuels last year but half of the figure was exported due to lack of domestic demand.
“Export prices for bio-fuels were low, at around $650 per tonne and for most of the time the export price was lower than the production cost,” Thuc said.
In the second quarter, PetroVietnam plans to raise its oil and gas production to 6.43 million tonnes of oil equivalent, including 4.03 million tonnes are crude oil and 2.4 billion cubic metres of gas.
Ending June, the group expects to earn a revenue of VND338 trillion ($16.1 billion) and contribute as much as VND76.3 trillion ($3.6 billion) to the State budget.
In the first quarter, the whole group earned a total revenue of VND178.7 trillion, up 3 per cent over the same period last year and up 17.4 per cent compared to its targets.
Contributions to the State budget reached VND43 trillion, equivalent to 29 per cent of its yearly plan and up 5.6 per cent over the first quarter of 2012.
Waste treatment zone causes pollution
Hundreds of people living near the Binh Nguyen Solid Waste Treatment Zone prevented lorries from transporting waste to their living area, as they believed that the zone was heavily polluting local air and water.
The 19-hectare zone, located in Binh Chanh Commune in the central province of Quang Ngai’s Binh Son District, is managed by the Lilama Electrics, Mechanics and Environmental Corporation.
The zone opened for use in 2007 and received solid waste from the Dung Quat Oil Refinery Plant and other plants in the Dung Quat Economic Zone.
It has a capacity of 50-100 tonnes of daily waste per day, 25,000 tonnes of industrial waste per year and 30,000 tonnes of harmful waste per year.
The design includes one hole to bury daily and industrial waste, one kiln to burn harmful solid waste and a system to recycle waste, said Huynh Van Phuc, deputy director of the Lilama company.
Chairman of the Binh Chanh Commune People’s Committee Tran Quang Tam said that when the treatment zone began operating, local residents thought that it would only deal with daily waste.
However, later industrial waste began to be continuously transported to the zone.
“The most serious issue is that the industrial waste was buried in a hole only 2km from the residential zone. Water from the hole ran into streams and fields, seriously affecting residents’ health,” said Tam.
Fish in streams died and many residents developed skin diseases, he added.
Whenever the waste is burnt, a nasty smell fills villages, so bad that local people get headaches and frequently vomit.
“We asked the company to move the waste-disposal hole farther from residential areas and stop discharging wastewater without treating it first,” said Tam.
Lilama deputy director Phuc said the company had already set up a plan to treat the wastewater and then use it for watering trees and farm produce.
Every day the Binh Nguyen zone receives about 32 tonnes of daily waste, two tonnes of harmful waste and 18cu.m of industrial waste.
About 3cu.m of industrial waste is recycled to produce unbaked bricks per day. The remaining 15cu.m is buried.
“Burying is the only way to deal with the mud from the Dung Quat Oil Refinery since we don’t have any more modern treatment,” said Phuc.
The company aims to move the burying hole before June, he added.
Slump in seafood exports in first quarter
According to the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers, the country’s seafood exports merely touched US$450 million in March, down 18 percent year-on-year, bringing total seafood export turnover in the first quarter of this year to $1.2 billion, a decrease of 8 percent year-on-year.
Seafood exports posted a drop in the first quarter because the country’s key seafood products continuously faced difficulties at consumer level and in sourcing material.
Pangasius exports fell 7.6 percent in the first quarter, compared to the same period last year, as firms were hit by a shortage of capital and continuously faced many technical barriers in EU market, and anti-dumping laws in the US market.
The supply of shrimps became scarce because of disease outbreaks causing mass deaths of shrimps in several provinces. In addition, Japan and South Korea announced that they would impose Ethoxyquin testing on Vietnamese shrimps, causing shrimp exports in the first three months of this year to drop by 8 percent compared to the same period last year.
VN, Turkey to boost development
Turkey and Viet Nam can enhance joint efforts on boosting development in both countries, according to diplomats and professors at a seminar held in Ha Noi yesterday.
Speaking at the seminar on Viet Nam and Turkey in the new development context, Turkish Ambassador to Viet Nam Ahmet Akif Oktay praised Viet Nam’s achievements during its renewal process during the past 20 years.
Oktay singled out successes in the fields of economics, politics, security and social order, as well as during Viet Nam’s period of international integration.
The seminar was co-organised by the Institute for Africa and Middle East Studies (IAMES) at the Viet Nam Academy of Social Sciences, the Turkish embassy and the Centre for Strategic Research (SAM) at the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs to mark 35 years of diplomatic relations between Viet Nam and Turkey.
Oktay said that despite the challenges still ahead, he believed developments in bilateral ties revealed huge potential for further co-operation, especially in economics and trade.
Sharing his view with the Turkish ambassador, Professor Vo Khanh Vinh, Vice president of the Vietnamese Academy of Social Sciences, said bilateral ties had entered a remarkable era since Viet Nam implemented its doi moi policy and particularly since the two sides signed an agreement to boost bilateral trade in 1997.
“Turkey has become the biggest trade partner in Western Asia. Investment co-operation in many areas including tourism, labour and strategic dialogues have blossomed,” said Vinh.
Meanwhile, Prof Bui Nhat Quang from the IAMES said Turkey enjoyed a special geographic position in the Eurasian region that bestows the country with many advantages in its economic, political, cultural and social development.
“In Viet Nam, Turkey is perceived as a power which is emerging on the world scene and should be taken into consideration as a ‘would-be strategic partner’ in the region,” Quang said.
However, Quang added, Viet Nam needs to better understand Turkey to ensure closer co-operation.
He appealed for more Vietnamese groups to engage with Turkish people and suggest some suitable solutions for enhancement of bilateral relations towards 2020.
Ministry proposes rental scheme of commercial houses
The Ministry of Construction has just submitted to the Prime Minister a pilot project for renting houses instead of selling, a plan aimed to bring some relief to the stagnating real estate sector.
The Ministry is expecting the conversion of unsold properties to rental housing, which they hope will partially relieve pressure on the local property market, and meet the needs of low-income people who cannot afford a high market price.
Rented houses account for more than 6.3 percent of people who own a house in the country.
Many real estate projects in the city are far behind schedule or are still incomplete, with investors not eager with the plan to build houses for renting, as payback period would stretch for a long time.
According to news reports, property enterprises will enjoy preferential taxes and interest rates that will be announced by the central bank.
A minimum loan term for house buyers and for those renting property will be 10 years, and five years for corporate groups.
Regarding loans, people renting houses can borrow at least 80 percent of the value of the house they intend to rent, while corporate customers can borrow up to 70 percent of the amount.
The Ministry has selected five real estate projects in the country to carry out the pilot proposal. Selected projects are commercial house projects for selling in which investors are facing difficulty in selling and want to transfer to rental property as per market demand.
The Ministry also suggested to the PM to have more such projects included in the new scheme.
Five projects have been selected for conversion from commercial houses to rental property, namely, Bee Home 1 at 928 Than Nhan Trung Street in Tan Binh District and Bee Home 2 at 359 Pham Van Chieu Street in Go Vap District; both of them belong to CT Group Corporation.
A third project is a housing project for workers in My Hoa Commune in Binh Minh District in the Mekong delta province of Vinh Long, belonging to Hoang Quan Realty Commercial Company.
The fourth and fifth project are for business purpose in Tien Son district and housing for staff and workers in Yen Phong Industrial Park. Both projects are in the northern province of Bac Ninh belonging to Viglacera Company.
Pepper exports at all-time high
Export price of pepper from Vietnam in the first three months of the year went up between US$6,690-6,700 per ton, the highest in the past few years, ensuring healthy profits for both exporters and farmers.
According to Vietnam Pepper Association, in the first quarter of this year, firms exported more than 39,000 tons of pepper, bringing in about $261 million in revenue, up 27 percent in volume and 23.6 percent in value compared to the same period last year.
Vietnam currently accounts for about 40 percent of market share in the global pepper market.