Coffee ambassador to be selected
A national campaign is underway to find an “ambassador” to promote the Viet Nam coffee brand around the world.
The campaign will take in HCM City, Buon Ma Thuot, Da Nang and Ha Noi.
The aim is to find 25 creative experts to join the selection process at the Buon Ma Thuot Coffee Festival in the Tay Nguyen (Central Highlands) province of Dak Lak on March 6-12.
The final round will be in Buon Ma Thuot City on March 10. The winner will walk away with a cash prize VND100 million (US$4,700).
Ha Long Bay – a lifetime must-go destination
Ha Long Bay of Vietnam has been included in the list of “100 trips you must take in your lifetime” recently released by the US magazine Business Insider.
The magazine recommended spending a night on a junk boat in the bay, amid a multitude of limestone islands and islets rising from the sea, in a variety of sizes and shapes and presenting picturesque, unspoiled nature.
The bay covers an area of 43,400 ha and includes over 1,969 islands and islets, most of which are uninhabited and unaffected by humans.
Recognised by UNESCO as the World Natural Heritage in 1994, Ha Long Bay welcomes 2.5 million tourists each year, including 1 million foreign visitors. It was voted as one of the world’s seven New Wonders of Nature last year.
Also on the magazine’s list are trips of hiking along the unrestored section of the Great Wall of China, attending a cherry blossom festival in Japan and driving a classic car in Havana, Cuba.
Vietnam attracts British tourists
Vietnam is ranked seventh among the ten leading long-haul destinations selected by British tourists, according to the website easyvoyage.co.uk of the famous travel agency Hayes Jarvis.
The ranking is based on the bookings of British holidaymakers from October 2012 to January 2013.
Vietnam has become more attractive to the UK’s tourists in the long-haul holiday market thanks to the opening of Vietnam – UK direct airline in December 2011, the appearance of seaside resorts and reasonable prices of services, according to the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism.
There are only two Asian countries in the top ten list, including Vietnam and Thailand. This year, Vietnam outperforms its famous neighbour destination to rank the seventh.
The combination of exploration, rich heritage and beautiful beaches is the advantage of Vietnam’s tourism.
Before, Vietnam was also ranked second of the best value long-haul destinations according to the Long Haul Report 2012 of the British company Post Office Travel Money.
Aquaculture meet discusses climate change threat
Sustainable aquaculture in the face of climate change challenges and food safety were major oncerns as the 24th annual meeting of the Network of Aquaculture Centres in Asia-Pacific (NACA) opened in Can Tho City on Monday.
Representatives from 18 NACA member nations are attending the three-day meeting that closes Wednesday.
In his welcome speech, Vu Van Tam, Deputy Minister Agriculture and Rural Development, said the NACA annual conference offers members an opportunity to exchange information on achievements, experiences and challenges facing aquaculture in each country and the region as a whole.
The conference will also boost co-operation between NACA members and international organisations in developing sustainable aquaculture and ensuring food safety in member countries, Tam said.
NACA members are: Australia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Hong Kong of China, India, Indonesia, Iran, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, South Korea, Thailand and Viet Nam.
According to NACA, annual per capita aquaproduct consumption in the Asia-Pacific region is about 29kg.
Since 2011, Viet Nam’s aquaculture sector has posted annual production of more than 3 million tonnes with an average growth rate of about 16 per cent per year, said Mhuyen Huy Dien, Deputy head of Viet Nam’s Directorate of Fisheries.
“Although aquaculture production has contracted or stagnated in Japan, the US, and some European countries, global production will continue to rise, creating opportunities for many countries and states in the coming years,” said Dien.
“Our NACA member states are still leading aquaculture production in the world,” he said.
Aquaculture has made crucial contributions to food and nutritional security, especially in underdeveloped and developing countries.
“Asian countries, particularly China, Viet Nam, India, Indonesia and Bangladesh, have benefited from the culture of low tropic-level species such as carp, tilapia and Pangasius catfish,” said Dien.
“Millions of jobs have been created to maintain stable sources of income and livelihood for a significant segment of the population directly or indirectly engaged in aquaculture in our member states,” he added.
However, recent rapid developments in world aquaculture have spotlighted several challenges including the ongoing financial and economic crisis, greater climate change vulnerabilities and extreme weather events, degradation and pollution of coastal, marine and fresh water environments, diseases, and abuse of chemicals and drugs in fish farming.
He said the impacts and consequences of climate change on aquaculture should be paid careful attention.
Aquaculture is known to be very sensitive to climate variables and high levels of exposure to natural hazards and climate change impacts, said Dien.
“Therefore, I strongly recommend that the NACA continues to play an important role in promoting sustainable aquaculture in the region and assist member states with aquaculture development programs,” he said.
“We also need to strengthen technical co-operation and provide guidance to member states with the aim of achieving higher production efficiency and introducing better aquaculture practices and for long-term sustainablity add prosperity for all.”
He asked the governments of NACA members to consider adopting and implementing a number of policies to support responsible and sustainable aquaculture development as well as to respond to and recover from impacts and consequences of climate change.
“We also need to co-operate with each other to help aquaculture production in some areas, to prevent disease outbreaks, control environmental pollution and resolve conflicts arising from the use of natural resources,” said Dien.
Building a sustainable aquaculture system in Asia
How to develop a sustainable aquaculture system in Asia is the main focus of the 24th annual conference of the Network of Aquaculture Centres in Asia-Pacific (NACA), held in Can Tho City from February 25-27.
The event was attended by representatives from 18 countries and territories around the globe.
Participants examined ways of building a sustainable aquaculture system, protecting aquatic animal health, maintaining biodiversity, and adapting to climate change.
Addressing the event, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Vu Van Tam highlighted remarkable achievements of Vietnam’s seafood sector over the years.
Especially, last year, he said Vietnam produced 3.2 million tonnes of aquatic products, making up 55 percent of the fishery sector’s output, up 6.8 percent compared to 2011’s figure, ranking Vietnam among the top three nations in the world in exporting seafood products.
Vietnam has actively applied the GlobalGAP (Good Agricultural Practices), BMP (Better Management Practices), SQF (Safe Quality Food)-1000 programme, advanced aquaculture technologies, and biotechnology in agriculture as well as strengthening national supervision programmes for excessive use of chemicals at breeding farms.
In recent years, regional countries have shifted to aquaculture farming from offshore fishing, helping raise the annual output by 11.4 percent in the 2006-2010 period.
The Asia-Pacific region has great potential for consuming seafood products, around 29kilo per head per year. The demand for fish is expected to increase by 30-40 million tonnes per year by 2050.
Hanoi to host expos on support industries
Three support industry exhibitions will be held in Hanoi from September 4-6, Thailand ’s Reed Tradex Co has announced.
The Reed Tradex-hosted Vietnam Manufacturing Expo 2013 will combine four international exhibitions on machinery and technology for specific industries.
Its components will include InterPlas Vietnam for plastic and rubber, InterMold Vietnam for mold and dye making and Automotive Vietnam on automation for production and assembly lines.
Vietnam Manufacturing Expo 2013 is expected to attract over 10,000 local industrialists who will examine the latest technology, solutions and services provided by 200 participating companies from around the world.
Around 50 Japanese companies will showcase components they hope to sell in Vietnam, while local firms will showcase domestically manufactured products at the upcoming fifth Vietnam-Japan Exhibition on Support Industries.
The event will be co-organised by the Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO) and the Trade Promotion Agency.
“Vietnam is a promising market for Japanese investors. It will become an industrialised nation with sufficient supply of raw materials in the near future,” said Hirokazu Yamaoka, chief representative of JETRO in Hanoi.
“The three expos will be a real industrial platform for buyers and sellers to meet and wider business networks, particularly Japanese investors, to expand their operations in Vietnam,” he said.
Farm produce exports up 31.5 percent
Export earnings from agricultural, forestry, and aquatic products in the first two months of 2013 are estimated at US$4.83 billion, up 31.5 percent over the same period last year, according to Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD).
Of the total value, major agricultural staples earned US$2.57 billion, up 28 percent; seafood generated US$876 million, up 11.6 percent, and forestry products also raked in US$876 million, up 36.2 percent.
In the last two months, Vietnam exported 677,000 tonnes of rice and earned US$310 million, increasing 68.2 percent in volume but decreasing by 15.4 percent in value, from a year earlier.
China consumed 34.7 percent of Vietnamese export rice total, followed by Singapore (7.2 percent),the Republic of Korea (5.64 percent) and the Philippines (5.64 percent).
Two- month rubber exports experienced a reduction in volume but showed a sharp increase in value. In February alone, rubber exports dropped 31.5 percent in volume but rose 16.6 percent in value, over the same period last year.
Meanwhile, tea and coffee export earnings hit US$33 million and US$884 million, up 18.6 percent and 38 percent, respectively.
Vietnam’s seafood exports achieved a year-on year increase of 11.6 percent in the first two months of this year.
FDI disbursement hits over US$1 bln
About US$1.05 billion in foreign direct investment (FDI) has been disbursed over the past two months, a year-on-year increase of 5 percent.
The figures were released by the Foreign Investment Agency (FIA) under the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI).
As of February 20, total registered capital of the newly licensed FDI projects reached US$532 million, equivalent to 46.1 percent of the same period last year.
In addition, 31 operational FDI projects registered to increase their exsiting capital by US$98.3 million, equivalent to 19.7 percent compared to February 2012.
The processing and manufacturing industries ranked first, attracting a total of US$408.9 million in newly licensed and added capital, accounting for 64.9 percent of the country’s two-month total.
The healthcare sector came second with US$80 million and the real estate sector was placed third with US$50.2 million.
FDI enterprises recorded an export surplus of US$2.96 billion, contributing to the country’s trade surplus of US$1.67 billion.
Japan topped the list of foreign investors in Vietnam in the past two months with US$258 million poured in various industries. Then came Taiwan (US$81.4 million) and Singapore (US$56 million).
Dong Nai province attracted the largest FDI investment (US$214.35 million), followed by Binh Duong (US$143.9 million) and Haiphong (US$ 118 million).
Some big licensed projects included Terumo BCT Vietnam (valued at US$98 million), Shink Mark hospital (US$80 million), and Pruksa Vietnam (US$50 million).
Garment businesses see bright signs in export
Experts predicted that the garment and textile sector will maintain its growth rate of 12-15 percent to pocket around US$19.3 billion in export turnover this year.
Local garment and textile businesses felt excited in the first two months of 2013 as orders from abroad came in droves.
For the goal, the sector needs a large workforce, senior advisor to the Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association (VITAS) Le Quoc An said, suggesting the employment of additional 200,000 workers.
In 2012, it kept topping the country’s export list, raking in US$17.2 billion, a year-on-year rise of 8.5 percent.
The sector aims to continue being the country’s spearhead hard currency earner in at least 10 years.
Conference discusses coffee sector’s prospects
The Central Highland province of Dak Lak will host a conference discussing the prospects facing Vietnam’s coffee sector on March 10.
The event, co-organised by the Central Highlands Agriculture and Forestry Science Institute and the Institute of Policy and Strategy for Agriculture and Rural Development, is part of the Buon Ma Thuot Coffee Festival, scheduled for Buon Ma Thuot City from March 9–13.
The conference intends to discuss sustainable coffee production methods, identify ways of improving Vietnamese coffee’s value on the global market, and highlight the policies affecting the sector that require updating.
It is also an ideal opportunity for leading experts from both domestic and international organisations like Nestle, Vinacafe, and Trung Nguyen to share information, negotiate mutually beneficial partnerships, and hone Vietnamese coffee’s competitive edge.
The Buon Ma Thuot Coffee Festival, held annually since 2005, has become one of the ten major events on Vietnam’s trade calendar. It contributes to promoting Vietnamese coffee internationally.
Four additional seaport projects to enter operation
The southern coastal province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau will begin operations on four additional seaport projects this year boasting a combined design capacity of around 20–25 million tonnes.
The projects include Vung Tau Petro, Cai Mep-Thi Vai International, SSIT, and Gemalink’s first phase.
The province aims to process around 50.7 million tonnes of cargo and roughly 125,000 passengers at local seaports. More than VND4.2 trillion will be pumped into implementing the seaport projects in 2013—an increase of approximately 10 percent compared to last year.
The provincial port system’s overall length totals more than 20 kilometres. Last year, Ba Ria-Vung Tau border guards completed entry-exit procedures for more than 4,300 international ships with a total cargo volume exceeding 28 million tonnes, up more than 6.4 million tonnes compared to 2011’s figure.
Border personnel also finalized procedures for more than 900 domestic ships carrying 6.56 million tonnes of cargo, up 357,000 tonnes on 2011’s total.
Deputy PM visits Laos’ largest rubber plant
Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and his Lao counterpart Somsavad Lengsavath attended the inauguration of the largest rubber plant in Laos’ Attapeu province on December 25.
Vietnam’s Hoang Anh Gia Lai Group is the main investor behind the US$15 million plant, which covers a five-hectare area.
The plant is equipped with advanced production line technology capable of processing 25,000 tonnes of rubber annually.
It generates employment opportunities for 15,000 labourers, offering an average monthly salary exceeding US$250.
Provincial Chairman Khamphan Phommathath praised Hoang Anh Gia Lai’s investment for helping to develop provincial infrastructure and improve local living standards. He encouraged interested Vietnamese enterprises to continue to invest in the province.
The two Deputy PMs also observed a provincial Lao-Viet Bank branch’s groundbreaking ceremony on the same day.
It is the sixth of its kind in the country.
Pepper exports surge
Pepper exports rose sharply in January to 12,000 tonnes, earning US$79.5 million (up 330 percent compared to the same month of last year).
According to the Vietnam Pepper Association (VPA), Vietnam is the only supplier as it is harvest time in the country. Other countries will have to wait until July.
However, the association predicts that this year’s pepper output will drop by 20-25 percent due to dry weather conditions.
It has recommended that Vietnamese businesses and farmers have second thoughts before signing major or fixed-term contracts with importers.
Laos-Vietnam Bank branch gets off ground
The Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam (BIDV) on February 25 held a ground-breaking ceremony for a new Laos-Vietnam Bank (LVB) branch in Attapeu town of Southern Laos.
The five-storey building, covering a total area of more than 3,000sq.m, will be equipped with modern infrastructure facilities, including elevators, air conditioning, internet connection, and a CCTV system.
The project also comprises a garage, a sports field, and a two-storey house for public affairs.
By kick-starting the third LVB office project in Laos, BIDV aims to attract more foreign investors, including those from Vietnam, to Laos.
Attapeu governor Khamphan Phommathath expressed his hope that the building will be inaugurated on schedule to meet the increasing demand for transactions by local people and businesses investing in Southern Laos.
The ceremony was attended by Lao Deputy Prime Minister Somsavad Lengsavath and Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc.
Vietnam-EU trade hit US$29.9 bln
Two-way trade turnover between Vietnam and the EU in 2012 reached US$29.9 billion, 19.77 percent higher than 2011’s figure, according to the General Department of Customs.
The EU has surpassed the United States to become Vietnam’s biggest export market with its 2012 turnover figure of US$20.31 billion, up 22.71 percent compared to 2011.
Among key imports were garments, footwear, coffee, seafood, and computers.
Vietnam’s export earnings from the EU rose 13.48 percent to US$8.79 billion.
The volume of mobile handsets and spare parts exported to this market was worth over US$5.4 billion, accounting for 75 percent of the country’s total exports in 2012.
Moderate export growth rates were maintained in other commodities such as plastic products, wood and wooden products, bags, suitcases, umbrellas, pepper and cashew nuts.
Vietnam mostly imported machinery and equipment, pharmaceuticals, and dairy products from the EU.
SOEs restructuring to be accelerated
Restructuring State-owned enterprises (SOEs) with a focus on groups and corporations is a priority of the Vietnamese Government in 2013, with the hope of directing the capital flow on the right track and improving the sector’s performance.
By the end of 2012, 75 groups and corporations completed their restructuring projects, 45 of which received approval from authorities.
Dang Quyet Tien, deputy director of the Corporate Finance Agency under the Ministry of Finance, said restructuring helps establish strong economic groups, enabling them to invest in highly profitable sectors and bring large revenue for the State.
Up to now, State-owned enterprises which have their restructuring projects approved are ready to implement them as scheduled.
The National Power Transmission Corporation under the Electricity of Vietnam (EVN) will reorganise its system and reform business administration to increase the effectiveness of power transmission and reduce the power loss to 8 percent.
Nguyen Duc Cuong, a corporation official, said this year the corporation will seek foreign investment and increase the application of science and technology in operation and management.
Restructuring SOEs is a right and inevitable policy. It is also an urgent task to bring about an effective and positive change for businesses and help them raise their competitiveness in the increasingly deep and broad international integration.
To make the strategy effective, measures need to be carried out, including issuing a mechanism to monitor and evaluate SOE operations.
Nghe An promotes investment opportunities
The central province of Nghe An is making a breakthrough in administrative reform, creating the best possible conditions for businesses to operate in the locality.
Ho Duc Phuoc, chairman of the provincial People’s Committee, made the remarks at an investment promotion conference in Nghe An on February 23.
He said the province has introduced numerous incentives to attract investment in such priority areas as high-tech and clean technology industries.
Our consistent policy is to facilitate business operations for mutual benefits, said Phuoc.
He also assured the local administration will deliberately revoke licenses granted to project investors that fail to implement the project on schedule or capitalise on the incentives to operate illegally.
Economists and businesses attending the event proposed that Nghe An boost inter-regional links to attract more investment and create harmonious development between Nghe An and other localities in the North-central region and other regions in the countries.
They also proposed that the province speed up land clearance, further simplify investment procedures, and shoulder difficulties with businesses for shared development.
In his speech, National Assembly Chairman Nguyen Sinh Hung asked Nghe An to better the administration-business relationship, restructure the local economy with a focus on public investments, and fully tap its potential.
The province should pay special attention to inter-regional links in line with national development planning, upgrade infrastructure, and invest heavily in high-technology and eco-tourism for sustainable development, said Hung.
He reminded the province to create an attractive investment environment based on its complete transport infrastructure.
Domestic and foreign businesses signed a number of contracts worth nearly VND6,000 billion at the gathering.
This is the fifth time Nghe An has hosted such investment promotion conference. It has so far attracted 335 local and foreign investment projects.
February inflation kept at low level
February’s consumer price index (CPI) rose just 1.32 percent from January, bringing the two-month price index to 2.59 percent, the General Statistics Office announced on February 23.
A sufficient supply of essential commodities during the week-long Lunar New Year (Tet) holiday in February halted the increasing price trend as normally seen in previous years, said Nguyen Duc Thang, a GSO official.
He quoted statistics showing the February price index climbed between 2 and 3.56 percent from 2002 onwards before falling to 1.37 percent in February 2012.
Foodstuff prices still climbed 3 percent due to increasing Tet holiday demand. The price of beef rose 6.62 percent, chicken 5.68 percent, fresh aquatic products 3.66 percent, and pork 2.27 percent.
Beverage and rice prices edged up 1.5 percent and 0.37 percent respectively, and transport costs also increased 0.81 percent.
Explaining how the CPI slowed in February, experts say inefficient operations prompted many businesses to cut Tet bonuses by 10 percent compared to 2012. The national economy’s sluggish recovery also impacted people’s spending during Tet.
In addition, the price stabilisation programme and sufficient supplies of essential commodities in big cities undoubtedly helped cool prices down.
The GSO forecasts that if retail petrol prices are adjusted upwards by VND1,000 per litre in late February or early March as has been proposed by petrol businesses, March’s CPI will rise an additional 0.1 percent.
PM urges bad debt settlement
The Prime Minister has asked the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) to quickly establish a national asset management company (AMC) to deal with bad debt burdening credit organisations.
In instructions released by the Government Office on February 22, the PM urged the central bank to submit a bad debt settling plan for approval, as well as the detailed rules that will govern the AMC’s operations once taking effect in the first quarter of 2013.
The company, which is said to have an initial capital fund of VND100 trillion, will purchase commercial banks’ bad debts.
The central bank has said the company will mobilise capital from alternative sources other than the State budget.
Credit organisations reported that as of November 2012, the bad debt/total outstanding loan ratio stood at 4.7 percent (VND117 trillion). However, the SBV estimated the ratio at 8.82 percent (VND202 trillion) in June 2012.
Bad debt is one of the major issues hampering economic development. Experts say the best solution to bad debt is to assist businesses owing large amounts of capital to banks.
Sweet potato export prices rise
The export prices of purple sweet potatoes sharply increased in the wake of the Lunar New Year holiday.
Huynh Van Quan, Deputy Head of Tan Thanh cooperative in the Mekong Delta province of Vinh Long, said prices are currently ranging between VND1.2–1.3 million per 100kg—the highest levels recorded in recent years.
He attributed the surging price to Chinese traders’ large volume purchases combined with the Mekong Delta’s output’s failure to meet the increasing demand.
In another development, the Mekong Delta province of Kien Giang is cooperating with local businesses to buy rice for reserves. The province has so far purchased more than 5,000 tonnes of rice for stockpiling.
EC inspects Vietnam’s seafood quality control system
The legal system, organising mechanism and the performance of Vietnamese agencies in charge of controlling the quality and safety of seafood production at both central and grassroots levels have met European Commission (EC)’s regulations.
The assessment was made after a group of EU inspectors conducted a fact-finding trip to the Vietnamese agencies last year, the National Agro-Forestry-Fisheries Quality Assurance Department (NAFIQAD) said.
However, the mission also pointed out shortcomings relating to hygienic conditions at pre-processing facilities, including fishing boats, ports and fish-raising farms.
NAFIQAD has asked provincial Departments of Agriculture and Rural Development to raise awareness and continue training on food safety for boat owners and managers at fishing ports, farms and purchasing agents.
Agro-forestry-fisheries quality assurance branches are also required to intensify their inspection over hygienic conditions at the pre-processing facilities.
Businesses that process aquatic products for export are asked to use materials verified by municipal and provincial agro-forestry-fisheries quality assurance branches.
Vietnam, Japan banks boost cooperation
The Import-Export Commercial Joint Stock Bank (Eximbank) of Vietnam and the Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporations (SMBC) marked the 5th anniversary of their strategic alliance in HCM City on February 22.
Speaking at the event, Eximbank Director Truong Van Phuoc affirmed that this strategic cooperation is remarkably effective, helping his bank gain gigantic growth in both operation scale and service quality.
HarumitsuHida, Japanese consul general in HCM City, highly evaluated the cooperative relations, especially at a time when the strategic partnership between Vietnam and Japan has been developed constantly.
He expressed his belief that with the SMBC’s support, Eximbank will be able to achieve its target of becoming the most powerful retail bank in Vietnam, contributing to the development of the two countries’ trade.
With the SMBC’s effective support, Eximbank has reinforced its position as one of the leading commercial banks in Vietnam during the past five years.
It has earned a host of prestigious prizes, including those from The Banker and Asiamoney magazines.
In the coming time, the two sides will continue boosting cooperation in training to improve proficiency of their staff.
Japan group to build 100 hotels in Vietnam
Japanese hotel chain, Toyoko Inn, revealed its ambitious plan to build 100 starred hotels in Vietnam at a seminar in Hanoi on February 22.
Nishida Norimasa, President and founder of Toyoko Inn, said he believes that the project would be successful as for the long term Vietnam’s economy will be surely better than at present.
Vice President of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry Doan Duy Khuong welcomed the corporation’s project which he said testifies to the growing economic, trade, tourism and cultural ties between the two countries.
He expressed his hopes that the project, once completed, will contribute to boosting the two countries’ tourism and investment cooperation, promoting Vietnam’s international image and facilitating tourism, investment and business activities in Vietnam.
Japan now ranks third among 84 foreign investors in Vietnam.
Central bank acts to quash rumours
The State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) released a statement on February 22 revealing it is ready and willing if intervention is necessary to stabilise the foreign exchange market.
The central bank made clear its stance refuting rumours circulation on February 21 that Tran Bac Ha, President of the Board of Directors of the Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam (BIDV) had been arrested.
The State bank says it has the capacity to intervene in the forex market if required (Photo:VNE)
The monetary market was immediately plunged into chaos. The stock market’s VN-Index lost 18 points – the sharpest fall over recent months.
The exchange rate also skyrocketed to surpass the VND21,000/US dollar mark.
After the rumours were denied, shares rallied on February 22, with VN-Index increasing 0.96 points. Commercial banks lowered their exchange rates to below the VND21,000/US dollar mark.
Le Minh Hung, SBV Deputy Governor, said foreign currency reserve in the banking system is in surplus and the bank is ready to intervene in the forex market if required.
An SBV official earlier also confirmed that it is not the right time to adjust the exchange rate.
In its statement, the central bank asserted that it will continue to keep the exchange rate in check taking into account macroeconomic changes and the market law of supply and demand.
It is working with the Ministry of Public Security to identify those responsible for spreading the rumours and deal with black market speculation.
The bank also cautioned people against acting on misleading information to avoid unwanted losses.
Agricultural exports enjoy early growth
Many Vietnamese agricultural export commodities, including coffee, pepper, and cashew nuts, have started early 2013 off positively thanks to increasing order numbers and good prices.
Vietnam Pepper Association (VPA) Chairman Do Ha Nam said the world market’s demand for agricultural products is rising, fuelling the pleasing export prices.
In Vietnam, the average price of pepper ranges from VND122,000 to 123,000/kg, higher than the same period last year.
The pepper export shortages suffered by competitors like Brazil, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka are also helping Vietnamese producers and exporters. Many overseas traders are monitoring the Vietnamese pepper market closely.
Vietnam Cashew Association (VINACAS) Chairman Nguyen Duc Thanh reported the Association has already signed contracts to ship nearly 300 containers of cashew nuts, doubling the figure recorded a year earlier.
The export price of cashews continues to rise, especially in the European Union (EU), North American, and Australian markets. Thanh attributed the surging price to a decrease in international cashew reserves and the approaching festive seasons in large importers like the EU, US, and the Middle East.
Vietnam Coffee Corporation (Vinacafe) General Director Nguyen Nam Hai also said his firm has received many orders since the beginning of this year.
The local coffee sector is expected to see higher export prices as the stockpiles of other coffee exporters have fallen 17.1 percent compared from 2012. The International Coffee Organisation (ICO) said stockpiles are at their lowest levels in recent years, adding that the demand for Robusta coffee is increasing.
Vietnam-Brazil trade rockets upwards
Trade turnover between Vietnam and Brazil hit US$1.64 billion last year, 13.8 percent higher than 2011’s figure.
According to the Brazilian Ministry of Development, Industry, and Foreign Trade (MDIC), Vietnam’s export earnings increased 26.3 percent on 2011 levels to US$817.2 million, while its imports from Brazil rose 3.6 percent to US$822.6 million.
Brazil’s primary Vietnamese export commodities included soya beans, cotton, tobacco materials, corn, and iron. Vietnam shipped footwear, frozen fish products, printers, and rubber to Latin America’s largest economy.
Vietnam-Brazil two-way trade has grown considerably since 2000. The bilateral annual trade exchange exceeded US$1 billion for the first time in 2011.
HR firm highly Vietnam’s potential
Careerbuilder, a leading human capital solutions provider headquartered in the US, announced its official entry into Vietnam on February 21.
The company said that it see good development potential in the country despite the serious economic downturn.
It has acquired HR Vietnam and Kiem Viec, two of four main sites belonging to Vietnam Online Network (VON), for an undisclosed sum.
Company officials said they see their business in Vietnam as a base from which it can expand in the Asia-Pacific region especially Southeast Asia.
Hunter Arnold, President of Careerbuilder Asia-Pacific, who has spent the last four years travelling around Asia, said he is optimistic about the Vietnamese market’s education levels and its “hungry” workforce.
The company’s latest acquisition is a “typical illustration” of the growing economic relationship between the US and Vietnam, officials said at the ceremony on February 21.
Two-way trade rose sharply from only US$500 million in 1995 to US$22 billion last year.
The US has become the most important export market for Vietnam, Le Thanh An, US Consul General in HCM City, said at the ceremony.
Founded in 2004, Kiem Viec is the second largest career site in Vietnam. Along with Vietnamworks, the site accounts for 90 percent of the revenue in this industry.
According to Paul Hung Nguyen, CEO of Kiem Viec and HR Vietnam, the company’s revenue has increased by between 80 and 150 percent every year since it was founded. Kiem Viec has over 1 million registered users and attracts over 400,000 visitors per month.
With its new acquisition, CareerBuilder now operates in 22 markets outside the US and has a presence in more than 60 markets worldwide.
Vietnam’s high economic growth rate, averaging between 6-8 percent in the last ten year, coupled with a high internet penetration rate at 33 percent, makes the market attractive for online recruitment, officials said.
In Asia, CareerBuilder is already present, through acquisitions and partnerships, in mainland China, Hong Kong Singapore, Indonesia, the Republic of Korea and India.
ASEAN Economic Ministers to meet in Vietnam
The capital city of Hanoi will host the 19th ASEAN Economic Ministers (AEM) Retreat and Related Meetings from March 7-9.
At the AEM meeting, the 10 ASEAN Economic Ministers and ASEAN Secretary General will discuss important initiatives to strengthen regional economic integration and set the directions for ASEAN economic integration in 2013, with a view to establishing the ASEAN Economic Community in 2015.
The meeting will be held alongside the third ASEAN-EU Business Summit (AEBS) with the participation of the ASEAN Economic Ministers, EU Trade Commissioner and business communities from ASEAN and EU.
The Retreat’s website at http://aemretreat19.vn/ says the 3rd AEBS will examine cross-sectoral issues that can help businesses and policymakers learn from experiences in doing business as perceived by leading companies from ASEAN and the EU. They will also discuss potential opportunities and existing challenges in the two regions.
Meanwhile, the 12th AEM-EU Trade Commissioner Consultations will be also held in Hanoi, focusing on activities and initiatives to enhance economic cooperation and facilitate greater trade and investment flows between the two regions.
Investment environment introduced in Japan
A seminar has been held in Japan’s Ehime prefecture to promote investment in Vietnam.
Addressing the seminar, Vietnamese ambassador to Japan Doan Xuan Hung briefed more than 200 participants on Vietnam’s cultural, socio-economic and political situation. He said that Ehime has great potential for cooperation with Vietnam in the field of hi-tech machinery, garment and textiles, and human resource training.
Vietnamese Counselor for Investment Le Huu Quang Huy said Vietnam is located in the most dynamic economic development region of South East Asia and its growing relations with Japan have made the country ever more attractive to investors.
Director of Ichihiro Vietnam Co, Ltd, Itsuhiro Ochi exchanged his experience in seeking right locations and partners to do business in Vietnam.
Director of Tact Noda Company, Mr Noda emphasized the need to train Vietnamese workers for small and medium-sized enterprises in Ehime.
However, he said there remain snags in the training process due to high costs and language barriers.
Representatives from financial institutions and Ehime University proposed measures to support investors in Vietnam and help train human resources properly. Late this year, the mayor of Ehime will lead a Japanese business delegation on a fact-finding visit to Vietnam.
HCM City’s February CPI up 1 pct
HCM City’s Consumer Price Index (CPI) in February went up by 1 percent and 1.44 percent compared to those of the previous month and last December respectively.
According to the municipal Statistics Office, beverage and cigarette saw the highest price rise of 3.34 percent due to the high demand during the Lunar New Year festival. Other commodity and service baskets increased by 1.45 percent.
Thanks to the Price Stabilization Programme, food and restaurant services rose by only 1.42 percent.
Slight increases were seen in prices of garments and footwear, up by 0.70 percent; household appliances, 0.54 percent; culture-entertainment-tourism services, 0.41 percent, and educational products and services, 0.10 percent.
Medicines and healthcare services did not experience any price hike. During the month, the gold price decreased markedly by 1.30 percent while the US dollar price rose slightly by 0.02 percent.
Southeast Asia port expansion summit opens in Vietnam
The Southeast Asia port expansion summit 2013 got underway in Ho Chi Minh City on February 21 with the participation of 120 maritime delegates from ASEAN countries.
Jointly held by the Vietnam National Maritime Bureau and L’noppen Company, the event was an excellent opportunity for regional countries to seek opportunities for investment cooperation, in maritime transport service and seaport development.
Director of the bureau Nguyen Nhat said that ASEAN is gradually taking steps to shape the key economic sectors, which are able to compete with other economic communities in the region and the world.
To achieve that goal, ASEAN needs to improve the quality of a system of maritime policies, which has contributed to boosting cooperation between economic sectors and enterprises in regional countries.
According to maritime experts, the investment in seaports located in Southeast Asia’s fastest growing economies will accelerate in the next few years thanks to its experience in privatization in the maritime field.
Currently, Vietnam is bettering its law system, mechanism, and policies relating to maritime service development in accordance with the latest commitments to ASEAN and the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
Southern hub vows to facilitate FDI businesses
Leaders of Ho Chi Minh City on February 21 held a working session with representatives of foreign- invested enterprises to seek ways to remove their obstacles.
The representatives made their proposals for preferential tax, customs procedures, spaces, water supply as well as other matters.
Nguyen XuanThuy from Mtex Vietnam Company recommended the city build more kindergartens and primary schools near the industrial zones.
City Mayor Le Hoang Quan pledged to hold direct dialogues with enterprises every quarter to tackle the problems.
He added that the city wishes to get more ideas from the firms to come up with timely adjustments.