Thu. Nov 24th, 2022

HOSE to honor sustainability reports

The Hochiminh Stock
Exchange (HOSE) has announced to present the Sustainability Reporting
Awards to listed enterprises with remarkable contributions to
environmental and social issues given the framework of the 2013 Annual
Report Awards (ARA).

Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday,
the awards will be granted for the first time in this year’s
competition. The World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC)
and Britain-based Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA)
will be in charge of professional aspects and send judges to evaluate
related contents in listed firms’ reports.

On Tuesday’s 2013 ARA
launch also witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU)
between the ARA’s organizing committee, IFC and ACCA.

Following
its success over the past five years, the ARA contest is co-organized by
HOSE and Vietnam Investment Review’s sister publication Dau tu Chung
khoan and sponsored by fund manager Dragon Capital. This year, over 700
annual reports of listed firms are expected to join the contest.

Launched
in 2008, ARA has attracted many investors and listed companies. Between
2008 and 2012, the organizers honored 129 reports out of over 1,700
entries, including 299 qualified for the final rounds. The ratio of
winning reports out of the finalists increased steadily from 13% in 2010
to 17.8% in 2012.

Lower inflation pulls down interest rates

The State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) has decided to lower interest rates by between 0.5% and 1% beginning from March 26.

Interest rates for short-term deposits in VND will be cut to 7.5% per year

The SBV’s decision followed a fall in the country’s consumer price index (CPI) by 0.19% in March.

As a result, the cap for deposits at banks and financial institutions in VND with terms of from one month to one year would be reduced from 8% to 7.5% per annum.

The maximum interest rates for deposits of less than one month will be maintained at 2% per year.

For People’s Credit Funds, deposit interest rates, with terms from one to 12 months, will be lowered from current 8.5% to 8% per year.

Financial institutions and banks are allowed to set interest rates for deposits with terms of more than a year based on market demand.

The SBV will require a 1% reduction in interest rates in some financial services.

Annual interest rates on refinancing services and the overnight rate will also be cut by 1%, to 8% and 9% respectively.

Interest rates on rediscounted loans will be cut to 6% per year, from the previous 7%.

The cap of 11% for lending interest will be applied to industries, including agriculture and rural development, production and trade in exports, production and trade for small and medium-sized enterprises, supporting industry, and high-tech applications.

Local People’s Credit Funds and microfinance institutions will be allowed to apply a ceiling lending interest rate in VND for these industries, at 12% per year, the SBV said.

According to the SBV, apart from lower inflation rate, lending at banks and financial institutions is still modest, encouraging it to further cut interest rates.

Even though the SBV applied six interest rate cuts last year, many enterprises continued to find it hard to get bank loans amid economic difficulties. 

Work begins on Samsung’s largest cell phone factory

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung yesterday applauded Samsung’s decision to expand operations in Vietnam, adding that it would contribute to the strategic partnership between Vietnam and South Korea.
 
Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung on March 25 attended a ceremony of the Samsung group to begin construction of a 3.2 billion USD high-tech complex in the northern province of Thai Nguyen

The complex, which will house Samsung’s largest mobile phone factory, is expected to provide jobs for thousands of local people.

It will also contribute tens of billions of US dollars to the country’s annual export turnover, while boosting the development of the electronics support industry in the northern region of Vietnam.

Dung spoke highly of South Korean businesses’ operation in Vietnam and pledged to create favourable conditions for them and other foreign businesses to do business in the country on the basis of friendship, co-operation and equality.

The same day, the Prime Minister held a working session with provincial leaders where he urged Thai Nguyen Province to use its potential and advantages in agro-forestry and industry.

Dung affirmed the Government’s policy of creating the best possible conditions for Thai Nguyen to develop into an economic, political, cultural and educational centre in the northern midland and mountainous region.

On the province’s famous tea trees, the leader said Thai Nguyen should develop industrial-scale processing for the product, which was key for the locality’s poverty reduction.

He also urged Thai Nguyen to improve the investment environment, reforming administrative procedures and attracting high-tech projects.

Last year, the province recorded an economic growth of 7.2 per cent, generated jobs for 22,600 people and reduced the percentage of poor households by 2.93 per cent.

Particularly, tea trees have been a lifeline for poor families in the province with the crop growing on a total area of 18,500 hectares.

S’pore investor sells golf course stake to local partner

Singapore
firm TCI has transferred the entire stake it is holding to Protrade,
its local partner in the Song Be golf course in the southern province of
Binh Duong.

The Singaporean investor has sold its 75% stake in
the 27-hole golf course to Protrade, and the deal was finalized about
one moth ago but no information on its value is available.

The
golf course covering more than 100 hectares along Binh Duong Boulevard
in Thuan An Town’s Lai Thieu District came into operation in 1994 with
18 holes after two years of construction. Some 13 years later, the
course was upgraded into the 27-hole facility.

HCM City calls for investors into wastewater project

HCMC
is calling for capable investors to develop a project for treating
wastewater along the Tham Luong-Ben Cat-Nuoc Len Canal basin with a
capacity of 150,000 cubic meters per day.

The project called
Saigon West Wastewater Treatment Plant will be built on 11 hectares in
Binh Tan District at a cost of some US$80 million, said Luu Van Tan,
head of the wastewater management department under the Steering Center
for the HCMC Urban Flood Control Program.

The city wants this
project to be developed under the format of build-transfer (BT) or
build-operate-transfer (BOT). The plant is scheduled to start operation
in 2015 to handle wastewater for the Tham Luong-Ben Cat-Nuoc Len Canal
basin running through District 12, Tan Phu District and Binh Tan
District.

As planned by HCMC, there will be three wastewater
treatment plants along the Tham Luong-Ben Cat-Nuoc Len Canal basin,
namely Saigon West, Tham Luong-Ben Cat (with a daily capacity of 250,000
cubic meters) and Binh Tan (180,000 cubic meters).

Attracting
investors into the wastewater treatment projects along this basin has
proved very difficult for the city. Most investors are lukewarm to these
three projects, while those who are interested face financial distress.

Slow
site clearance is another headache. It is the reason why the Tham
Luong-Ben Cat wastewater treatment project in District 12 is three years
behind schedule. It is expected that the cleared site will be handed
over in early 2014, so not until 2016 will the plant be operational.

The plant covering 13 hectares is developed by Phu Dien Construction Investment and Trading Company under the BT form.

Meanwhile,
the Binh Tan wastewater treatment project has not been included in the
list of priority projects yet due to the difficulty in attracting
investors.

Among the seven wastewater treatment facilities in
HCMC, only Binh Hung Wastewater Treatment Plant with a daily capacity of
141,000 cubic meters has been put into operation.

In HCMC, over
1.2 million cubic meters of untreated household wastewater is dumped
every day. Due to the lack of treatment facilities, most wastewater is
directly discharged into the city’s canals and the Saigon River.

Vietnam attends 2013 MITT in Russia

The
Vietnam General Department of Tourism, Vietnam Airlines, Viettravel 
and over 10 Vietnamese tour operators have attended the 20th Moscow
International Exhibition for Travel and Tourism (MITT) which opened on
March 20.

Their stalls turn the spotlight on the country’s land
and people, its beautiful scenery, tourism services and unique culinary
arts.

At a press briefing held on the occasion Vietnam Airlines
announced the opening of Moscow-Nha Trang direct air route as of April
5.

This is part of Vietnam’s plan receive about 250,000 Russian travelers this year and 300,000in 2014.

MITT is the largest tourism fair in Russia and listed among the five most prestigious events in the world.

This
year’s event attracted over 1,000 travel agencies, consultancy and
service companies, airlines and insurance firms worldwide.

Handicraft exports to hit US$1.6 bln in 2013

Vietnam’s
export of handicraft products in 2013 is estimated at US$1.5 or 1.6
billion, equal to last year’s figure and about 1.5 percent of the global
market share, according to the Import-Export Department of the Ministry
of Industry and Trade.

Domestic producers and exporters are
urged to seek new outlets in the emerging markets of Brazil, Russia,
India and China, along with traditional markets, namely the US, EU and
Japan.

Experts said local businesses should apply modern
technology in handicraft production for a higher output of premium
products having additional designs.

They should also create conventional design to meet current trends.

With
Government support, they should form a group of qualified designers and
market researchers as a driving force behind the business.

RoK, Japan to build a thermal power plant in Vietnam

An
international delegation led by the Korea electric power Corporation (
KEPCO) has won a 2.3 US$ billion contract to build a thermal power plant
in Vietnam recently.

Under the contract, the plant is scheduled to be operational by 2018 with an annual capacity of 1.2 million kWh.

The
coal-fired power plant is expected to generate a US$ 15 billion profit
for the KEPCO in 25 years before it is handed over to Vietnam.

The KEPCO and Murabeni Corporation of Japan hold an equal share of 50 percent.

Japanese consumers keen on Vietnamese goods

Vietnam’s share of the Japanese consumer market remains modest, making up just 1.3 percent of its total import demand.

The
Ministry of Industry and Trade said in the past two months, the
country’s exports to Japan reached US$1.87 million, up 0.84 percent
against the same period last year.

Among major items were crude oil, seafood, rice, garments and textiles, timber and wood products, and electric cables.

Since
2005, Vietnam’s export earnings from Japan has risen 159.9 percent,
from US$4.41 billion, to US$13.05 billion by the end of last year.

Vietnam’s key competitors in the market are China, the Republic of Korea and Indonesia.

In
recent years, Vietnam’s garment and textile exports to Japan have grown
by 12 percent on average to become the third largest supplier to Japan,
just after the US and the EU.

According to the Trade Promotion
Agency under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, Japanese consumers have
a huge demand for up to US$3.7 billion worth of clothes, of which only
five percent are made in Japan. But they are keenly interested in the
quality and design of consumer goods for convenience rather than
fashion.

Trade surplus expands 700 million USD

The
nation’s trade surplus so far this year reached 700 million USD by March
15, according to statistics from the General Department of Customs.

The
country’s export value in the period hit 24.5 billion USD, up 23
percent over the same period last year while import value surged 17.9
percent to nearly 23.8 billion USD.

During the first two weeks of
March, exports of such product as precious stones and jewelry, textiles
and garments, mobile phones and components, crude oil and wood products
saw significantly increasing value against late February, with turnover
hitting 80 million USD to 350 million USD each.

Imports of
several products including refined petroleum, animal feed, and machines
and equipment also surged sharply, ranging between 90 million USD and
230 million USD for each type of product.

On March 21, the Ho Chi
Minh City Statistics Office released estimates indicating the city
enjoyed a 1.32 billion USD trade surplus for the first quarter of this
year, including a 440.3 million USD trade surplus in March.

The
city earned a total of 6.58 billion USD from exports in the first three
months, up 12.8 percent year on year, of which key export staples
included rice, sea-food, milk, garments and textiles, footwear and crude
oil.

Meanwhile the city spent 5.26 billion USD on imports of
goods and services during the period, a rise of 7.8 percent compared to
last year.

Meanwhile, the Hanoi Statistics Office estimated the
capital city had a 2.9 billion USD trade deficit in the first quarter of
2013, with exports inching up 0.3 percent to 2.4 billion USD while
imports increased 2.9 percent to 5.35 billion USD.

The office
attributed the insignificant export increase to low import demand from
Vietnam’s key export markets — the US, China and Europe.-V

US equity firm eyes VN opportunities

TPG
Growth, a member of US private equity investment firm Texas Pacific
Group, said it is looking for further investment opportunities in
Vietnam, with the market poised for substantial growth.

Finishing
the firm’s two-day annual limited partner meeting in Hanoi on March 21,
TPG Group founder ad managing partner William McGlashan highlighted
Vietnam’s potential to his company’s investor from around the world.

This is first time TPG Group has held its annual meeting abroad and Hanoi was selected to be the venue.

“We
chose Vietnam because we have a very successful history investing here
with FPT (software developer) and Masan Group (private sector group),
McGlashan said.

He added that Vietnam is an interesting country
for investors, with a young consumer population and reforms taking place
in the financial sector and state-owned enterprises.

“We did a survey of our investors and Vietnam is a country that they are all interested in understanding,” he added.

Unlike
country funds, TPG Growth allocated its portfolios to companies. “For
us what really matters is whether we can find companies with potential
to become bigger, more valuable and more productive, and Masan is an
example.”

According to the investment fund founder, a good company is one positioned to take advantage of the maker context.

After
divesting from FPT, the US-based firm has maintained its investment in
Masan since 2009 and is eager to invest elsewhere in Vietnam .

When
considering an investment opportunity, he looked at two criteria: the
quality of corporate management and the economic sector the company is
operating in, McGlashan said.

“I think the Vietnamese market is looking substantially better today,” he said.

TPG
Growth manages 4 billion USD in capital, focusing on middle markets and
growth equity. In October 2006, it purchased stake in FPT for 21.5
million USD. However, the partnership ended the following year. The
transaction with Masan in 2009, valued at up to 35 million USD, was the
largest private equity deal at that time.

Meanwhile, Masan Group
is Vietnam’s premier private sector group, whose subsidiary Masan
Consumer recently received 200 million USD from investment firm Kohlberg
Kravis Roberts.Da Nang confident of tourism demand

The central
coastal city of Da Nang will put an additional 1,800 new hotel rooms
into operation this year, but it is not worried about a guestroom
oversupply.

Da Nang had 10,570 rooms at 326 hotels last year, and the number of rooms is expected to rise by around 5,000 by 2015.

There have been many famous hotel brands entering Da Nang, such as Pulchra Resort, InterContinental, Melia and Brilliant.

The city had 2.7 million tourists last year, up 12 percent from the previous year, including nearly 631,000 foreign visitors.

In
2013, Da Nang will organise several tourism events, including the Da
Nang International Fireworks Competition 2013 and the Da Nang
International Marathon held by US-based World Marathon Tour Inc.

Vietnam to produce cheap smartphones and tablets

Vietnamese
consumers may have more choices when the first locally made smartphones
and tablets are unveiled at around just USD50, one official said.

Thieu
Phuong Nam, CEO of Qualcomm in charge of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia,
announced that the company is cooperating with Vietnamese  producers and
network providers to realise the plan.

According to Nam, mobile
phones are a new technology trend that could change the lives of people
in Vietnam and many other countries in the world.

“3G and mobile devices have become a common part of people’s lives when they find more affordable to normal mobiles,” he noted.

He
said that Qualcomm planned to intensify its operations in Vietnam this
year in a bid to bring 3G technology to almost every resident in the
country.

“While there are around two billion 3G subscribers in
the world, Vietnam has only 20 million 3G subscribers, according to the
Ministry of Information and Communication. We see a great potential for
3G development in Vietnam in the time to come,” he said.

He
forecast that people would switch from feature phones to smartphones
this year while more people, including those who live in remote areas,
would use 3G services during the year. Mobile computing technology would
continue to strongly develop in the education sector thanks to the wide
use of tablets.

“Demand for smartphones in Vietnam and some
regional markets increased by 400% last year. Of the total smartphone
users, over 60% have preferred cheap devices at less than USD200,” John
Stefanac, President of Qualcomm in charge of Southeast Asia -Pacific
commented.

Stefanac said that Qualcomm will cooperate with Vietnamese producers to make cheap smartphones and tablets for local consumers.

Currently,
Qualcomm is cooperating with FPT to launch the first made-in-Vietnam
smartphone, FPT IV at VND4.5 million (USD214.7). Such devices are to
serve medium-income people.

He added that it would take a certain period of time to release smartphones at USD50.

Banks cut deposit rates as liquidity improves

Many Vietnamese banks in HCM City have lowered deposit interest rates since early March as deposits continue to rise.

The
interest rate of Bank for Foreign Trade of Vietnam (Vietcombank) has
been lowered from 8% to 7.5% for one to three months loans. Asia
Commercial Bank (ACB), Saigon Commercial Bank (SCB) also lowered their
rates for less than one year loans.

Other banks have also indicated that they would also start to lower their rates.

Bank
leaders said although the rates had not increased after Tet and despite
credit growth falling 0.16% compared to late 2012, deposits still grew.

“When
the cap for deposit interest rates for less than one-year terms was
limited to 8%, we thought the customers would withdraw their money to
investment, but it has proven otherwise,” a bank president said.

The
interest rates on the interbank market have remained low with most of
the activities centred around deposit transactions as bank liquidity
improves from the increased deposits.

According to the SBV, most
of the transactions on the interbank market are less than three months
terms so the interest rate for those terms increased slightly by 0.60%.

Moreover, banks have increased their purchases of bonds while restructuring their capital so they can lower deposit rates.

An
expert in HCM City said lending activities could only be improved when
banks were able to ensure a strong level of capital. Lending rates may
then fall and boost the business.

Vietnamese firms look forward to a brighter year

Many Vietnamese enterprises expecting more growth this year as foreign investment increases.

In
the last five years, many domestic companies have sold their
controlling shares to foreign companies, with perhaps the most
high-profile sale being that of the brand Highlands Coffee to the
Philippines’ Jollibee Foods Corporation. The Thai building materials
firm, Siam Cement also acquired an 85% stake in Prime Group, one of
Vietnam’s largest brick-makers.

Recently the Vietnam Commercial
Bank for Industry and Trade (VietinBank) sold 20% of its stake to the
Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ at the price of USD750 million. This
acquisition was limited because Vietnam law only allows foreign partners
in Vietnamese credit institutions to hold a maximum of 20% stake.

A
number of Vietnamese experts have warned that, while foreign investment
is important for the country’s economic development, that many foreign
groups seek to take control over Vietnamese companies. They have said
that domestic firms should be aware of this and balance the need to
attract foreign capital with the importance of retaining control.

Over
the last six months, a number of private foreign investment deals have
taken place which allow the domestic firms to keep control. KKR
Co., the private equity giant has invested an additional USD200 million
in the Vietnamese retailer Masan Consumer.

Another US
private-equity giant Texas Pacific Group (TPG) is going to organise a
limited partners conference in Hanoi. This is the first time this
conference will be held outside of the US, creating optimism among the
business community here.

The return of foreign private capital
has been taken by many as a sign of recovery in the Vietnamese economy.
For many firms, this is an important source of capital as banks tighten
credit.

Shrimp exports to South Korea face ethoxyquin tests

South
Korea, a big market for Vietnam’s shrimp in Asia, will test the
ethoxyquin contents in shrimp shipments from now until the year-end.

According
to the National Agro-Forestry-Fisheries Quality Assurance Department
(Nafiqad), Vietnam’s shrimp exports to South Korea will undergo the
ethoxyquin test in one year. The level permitted by South Korea’s
Animal, Plant and Fisheries Quarantine and Inspection Agency (QIA) is
0.01mg/kg, equivalent to Japan’s standard.

Speaking to the Daily,
Truong Dinh Hoe, general secretary of the Vietnam Association of
Seafood Producers and Processors (Vasep), said that the decision about
the ethoxyquin tests was made as many South Korean firms also processed
shrimps imported from Vietnam before exporting them to Japan.

Therefore,
the ethoxyquin tests are imposed on Vietnam’s shrimp exports to avoid
potential difficulties of South Korean firms in the Japanese market.

Regarding
the Japanese market, there were 30 local firms detected violating the
antibiotic residues from June 12, 2012 to February 7, 2013.

However,
according to Nafiqad’s Document 421 sent to seafood firms, South Korea
did not say how many shrimp shipments from Vietnam would be tested.
Previously, with the ethoxyquin residues, Japan at first tested 30% and
then 100% of Vietnam’s shrimp export batches.

Currently, shrimp
export to Japan is still in difficulty due to the tests although the
Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has worked with Japan for
several times to address the problem. In addition, Vietnam’s shrimps are
facing a risk of anti-subsidy tax in the U.S. market.

Difficulties in the importing markets may make the fishery export target of US$6.5 billion set by the ministry unobtainable.

According
to Vasep, seafood export in the year’s first two months dropped by 0.6%
to US$779 million, with shipments to the U.S. declining by nearly 10%,
EU 33%, Japan 33%, Mexico 55% and China 23.5%.

VietnamWorks and Nick Vujicic to motivate Vietnamese jobseekers

VietnamWorks,
Vietnam’s leading jobsite, has announced that the famous motivational
speaker, Nick Vujicic, will be guest appearing at its jobseeker events
in Ho Chi Minh City on May 23 and in Hanoi on May 24, as part of its
‘Choose to Succeed’ campaign.

The campaign kicks off on the March
19 with the launch of the microsite,
www.vietnamworks.com/chonthanhcong, which will be focussed on helping
Vietnamese jobseekers to make the best decisions for their career
futures. Jobseekers can take part in an online quiz, get career advice
and update their CV on the microsite.

“Being successful in work
and life is not something that just happens, you first have to make the
choice to be successful,” said Carlton Pringle, CEO of VietnamWorks.
“Choosing to do or be something means that you do not stop until you
have achieved it. Our mission is to provide you with the tools and
support on your path to success that is why we have developed the
microsite and the reason we are bringing Nick and his amazing story to
Vietnam’s jobseekers.”

Nick Vujicic was born with no arms and no
legs, and has overcome immense difficulties to live an exceptional life.
As well as addressing audiences across the world, Nick has published
two books, a DVD, starred in an award-winning short film and appeared on
the world famous The Oprah Winfrey Show. In February last year he
married his fiancée and last month his first child was welcomed into the
world.

“Nick has done more and seen more than most able bodied
people. He is truly an inspirational person and has a story which will
stop you in your tracks. It is a story that we would love to share with
you and that is why we are making this possible. At VietnamWorks we are
committed to helping you become successful and by giving you the
opportunity to hear Nick’s story we will enable you to take stock of
your journey so far and make all those important decisions for your
career path. In order to be part of Nick’s story you first need to take
control of your own. We will reward those who choose to succeed with a
ticket to hear Nick,” added Carlton.

The event will be held in
both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh city, and tickets to both events will be
available free of charge to jobseekers who register on website
www.vietnamworks.com/chonthanhcong.

VietnamWorks is the largest
online recruitment provider in Vietnam with more than 80,000 people
visiting our website vietnamworks.com every day. VietnamWorks has more
than 4,000 new jobs every month from biggest companies in Vietnam and
the finest resources for career advancement to help jobseekers get their
dream jobs.

For employers, VietnamWorks provides online
recruitment solutions and a searchable database containing over 400,000
CVs to help them get the right talent to grow their businesses.
 
Credit growth bounces back in February

The
State Bank of Viet Nam said February’s credit grew by 0.26% against
January but in the first two months the growth rate fell by 0.28%.

The
decrease was attributed to the shrinkage of foreign currency credit,
which is in line with the Government’s effort to prevent dollarized
economy.

In early February, liquidity of credit organizations
fell sharply but it has improved quickly after the central bank used
open market tool to support their seasonal capital demand to satisfy
businesses’ capital need during the Lunar New Year holiday.

Thanks
to high liquidity, inter-banking interest rates are slightly lower
against the beginning of the year while deposits are bouncing back with a
2% increase in the first two months. This is sign of restored
confidence in credit organizations.

The lending rates for
agriculture, rural areas, exports, small and medium-sized enterprises
are kept at 9-12%/year and for other fields at 11-15%.

The foreign currency market has also been stable, said the State Bank of Viet Nam.

The above signals shows that macro-economy and monetary market are on the right track, the bank noted.

This
year, the Government targets a 12% credit growth and focuses on dealing
with non-performing loans. Earlier this year, the Government issued
Resolution 02 on solutions to remove difficulties against production and
business, support the market and deal with non-performing loans.

Binh Duong’s billion dollar project opens apartment sales

Becamex
Tokyu Company Ltd, a Viet Nam-Japan joint venture, began selling
apartments in its first real estate project in the country on Wednesday.

On
offer are more than 400 apartments at Sora Garden 1, one of three
high-rise condominium projects being built under an overall project
called Sora Gardens.

The first stage of selling will last until
April 18 in the form of capital contribution contracts for a limited
number of customers. From April 19, it will be open to all.

Sora
Garden 1 is being built on an area of more than 9,000 sq.m with two
24-storey buildings. It is a complex that combines residential,
commercial and retail centres. The apartments on sale are 67sq.m to
105sq.m in size. The average cost of the apartments is around US$1,000
per sq.m.

Construction of the project began in November 2012 and is expected to be handover in 2014.

Also
on Wednesday, the company signed an agreement with Vietcombank,
Vietinbank and Eximbank to provide client support for those buying
apartments inSora Garden 1.

Sora Gardens is one part of a US$1.2 billion-Tokyu Binh Duong Garden City Project.

With
this project, total foreign-direct-investment (FDI) coming into the
province increased more than 2.5 times over the previous to $2.8 billion
last year. It pushed the southern province to first place in the
country in attracting FDI.

The project is an important part of
the Binh Duong New City, which is planned as a new green and clean urban
area that will become the core political, economic, cultural and social
centre in the province by 2020.

Population of the new city is
expected to increase rapidly once the provincial government offices are
moved to a new location at the heart of the city this year.

Viet Nam fishery sector faces major challenges

Viet Nam’s fish and seafood exports have seen more and more rejections by three out of four major global markets.

Viet
Nam was a relatively poor performer in the fishery export sector, said
Professor Spencer Henson from the UK’s Institute of Development Studies
(IDS) at a scientific workshop in Ha Noi yesterday.

He explained
his conclusion by drawing the participants’ attention to the relative
rejection rate, which measures the ratio of a country’s share of total
rejections to the share of total imports.

“In other words, Viet
Nam’s share of rejections is more than its share of imports in all major
export markets (including the EU, the US and Japan) except for
Australia,” he noted.

Financial losses stemming from these rejections average an estimated US$14 million per year, the workshop heard.

While
the main reasons for rejection differed across export markets,
bacterial contamination was frequently cited, as were veterinary drug
residues (a problem for the EU market), hygienic conditions and poor
labeling (the US) and other contaminants such as chemicals and “foreign
bodies” (Japan).

Certifying tra fish would be an important step
towards reducing such rejections, said Nguyen Hoai Nam, Deputy Secretary
of the Viet Nam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP).

So
far, 103 tra fish farms nationwide have been certified, accounting for
40 per cent of the total tra fish aquaculture area, according to VASEP.

However,
during the last few years, importers have imposed increasingly
complicated safety standards related to chemical and drug residues and
certification.

There are more and more voluntary certificates
(GlobalGAP, ASC, BAP, to name a few) which have many advantages, but
also raise production costs, reduce consumers’ trust and even create
misunderstandings between producers and major consumption markets, Nam
noted.

He also emphasised the fact that domestic production costs
(including salary, electricity, water, packaging, chemicals and
testing) are increasing while export prices tend to stand still,
discouraging farmers.

It is too costly for farmers to satisfy
these standards if they are not rewarded with higher prices for their
products, he stressed.

Many other challenges also pose
difficulties on seafood imports from Viet Nam, such as diseases,
international anti-dumping and anti-subsidy lawsuits, competition from
other countries and the impact of climate change as well as strict
market regulations on food safety, tracing, environmental responsibility
and resource protection.

The major problem facing the Vietnamese
tra fish and shrimp industry was contamination, mainly due to the
improper usage of feed and veterinary drugs, according to studies
conducted by lecturers Aya Suzuki from Tokyo University and Vu Hoang Nam
from Viet Nam’s Foreign Trade University with assistance from VASEP and
other local researchers.

UNIDO’s Asian Report proposed that Viet
Nam support the development of leading firms and provide necessary
technical and financial support to those entering international markets
for the first time.

This would lead to the expansion of contract farming, improving product quality, it added.

Technical
assistance and information services for farmers and producers are also
necessary for them to understand the changing market environment,
workshop participants said.

These would help them understand new
food safety standards (both mandatory and voluntary) and help them use
drugs and chemicals appropriately, they pointed out.

Participants
also commented that to preserve the position of small-scale farmers in
the value chain, public labs should be established. International
efforts to create standardised certifications could also help the
situation.

The workshop was held by the National
Agro-Forestry-Fisheries Quality Assurance Department (NAFIQAD) under the
Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in co-ordination with the
United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and Japanese
Institute of Developing Economies (IDE-JETRO).

Guam visas on tap for investors from Viet Nam

Pitching
Guam as a great investment, travel and education destination for Viet
Nam, Eddie Calvo, Governor of the US-governed island said it would offer
special FDI investor visas for interested Vietnamese businesses.

He was speaking at a meeting held yesterday in HCM City as part of a week-long trade mission to Viet Nam.

“Guam’s
convenient location in Asia – where America’s day starts, favourable
tax and incentive environment, similar climate, and proximity to HCM
City makes the island an unrivaled destination for Vietnamese outbound
investment,” Calvo said.

During their stay here, Calvo, along
with representatives from the Guam Visitors Bureau and the Guam Economic
Development Agency, are meeting with Vietnamese officials and business
leaders in Ha Noi and HCM City to discuss potential co-operation
opportunities.

VinaWealth wraps up IPO of open-ended fund

VinaCapital’s
VinaWealth Fund Management JSC has concluded the IPO of its VinaWealth
Enhanced Fixed Income Fund (VFF), the first open-ended domestic fund
licensed for public offering by the State Securities Commission.

It has a face value of VND1 million.

As
of March 12 more than 150 investors had subscribed a total of over
VND50 billion (US$2.4 million), most of them domestic investors.

The
VFF will have a target net asset allocation of at least 80 per cent in
bonds, including in Government-guaranteed bonds, treasury bills,
corporate bonds, money market investments, and others.

Roy Fong, the fund’s director of fixed income, said: “We target to outperform the average HSBC 12-month deposit rate.”

Sebastian Subba, CEO of VinaWealth, said: “We are happy with this first success.

“It
is not about the amount we raised but through this exercise, we had a
chance to meet and talk directly with the investors to better understand
their needs and expectation from us.

“We have been able to
discuss, deliberate, and provide our professional advice on the merits
which the product provides investors including diversification for
corporates in cash management and individuals who see the VFF fund as a
proxy for their retirement savings.

“All of the activities and
meeting presentations we have done indicates that we are going in the
right direction. We are optimistic that once the IPO is launched more
investors will invest in the VFF, especially foreign investors.”

VFF is not listed on the stock exchange. The fund will deal directly with it through distributors.

Japan bank targets PPP acceleration

Financial
institutions could help boost the implementation of the Public-Private
Partnership (PPP) model in Viet Nam, said Minister of Planning and
Investment Bui Quang Vinh yesterday at the first high-level meeting on
establishing a dialogue framework for accelerating PPP projects between
the ministry and Japan Bank for International Co-operation (JBIC).

The
country was making efforts to innovate public investment in
infrastructure development, shifting from heavy reliance on the State
budget to mobilisation of private resources, said Vinh. Thus,
international experiences would be useful, particularly as the country’s
first regulations on PPP were not as fruitful as expected.

While
the country needed about US$15-16 billion each year for infrastructure
development, public spending could only provide about 50-60 per cent, he
said.

“The engagement of the private sector in infrastructure
projects not only generates economic benefits but can also help improve
investment efficiency and project quality,” he said, emphasising that
PPP could be a driving force for the country’s socio-economic growth.

CEO
of JBIC Hiroshi Watanabe said that Viet Nam was the fifth-most
promising country for overseas business in the medium-term and long-term
as measured by a survey of 160 companies.

A majority of
respondents said that Viet Nam was promising for overseas operations
because of the future growth potential of the local market and
inexpensive labour. However, the country also faced issues of
underdeveloped infrastructure, a frequently changing legal system,
difficulty in securing management-level staff, rising labour costs and
intense competition.

Over the last decade, Japanese companies
that came to Viet Nam prospered, Wantanabe said, noting that since 2002,
the bank provided $8.5 billion for public-private co-operation projects
including Phu My 2 and three combined-cycle gas-fired power projects.

However,
its funding for other southeastern nations including Thailand,
Philippines, Indonesia and Singapore was much more significant.

Minister
Vinh said that though Viet Nam had become a middle-income country, the
country’s investment environment had many limitations including
bureaucracy, cumbersome administrative procedures and unstable policies.

Moreover,
the country faced a barrier that few countries did: the practice of
relying heavily on the State budget, which did not prepare the nation to
co-operate with private partners in infrastructure projects, Vinh
pointed out. Therefore, Government-appointed investors, usually
State-owned companies, took on many commercial bankable projects that
should have been carried out under the PPP model.

The country was
also revising PPP regulations so that they were more like international
ones and thus more attractive to investors, he said.

In the next
two years, Viet Nam planned to allocate VND20 trillion ($952 million)
to PPP projects, Vinh said, adding that the large sum could potentially
increase if the projects did well.

Also at the meeting,
representatives from the ministry and the bank inked a Memorandum of
Understanding to boost co-operation on PPP.

Exporters get top trade advice

One
of the world’s leading law firms, Mayer Brown JSM (formerly known as
Johnson Stokes Master) and Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce in HCM
City today offered local companies advice on how to handle trade
remedies.

More trade-barrier cases are being brought by Viet Nam’s trading partners, especially anti-dumping and countervailing cases.

Vietnamese manufacturers face increasing competition from the growing number of goods being unfairly imported into Viet Nam.

Since
late last year, warnings have been arising concerning the initiation of
trade remedy cases against several Vietnamese exports, including steel
products exported to Thailand, cashews to India, and cement to South
Africa.

More than 170 representatives from Vietnamese
enterprises, business associations, media and related authorities
attended the seminar.

The speakers at the seminar are leading
trade experts and include Ambassador Susan C. Schwab, former US Trade
Representative and current strategic advisor to Mayer Brown; Nguyen Duy
Khien,director of America Market Department, Ministry of Industry and
Trade; and Matthew McConkey, partner in charge of Mayer Brown’s Global
Trade Group in Asia.

The seminar is expected to provide
Vietnamese exporters with the opportunity to gain useful and practical
knowledge of trade remedy matters that could have a direct effect on
their production and export activities.

Mayer Brown JSM, the
seminar’s sponsor, is one of the few global law firms to have a team
that specialises specifically in government and global trade.

The
team has participated in negotiations concerning most of the material
agreements and trade incentives over the past 30 years, such as the
agreements on establishment of the WTO, GATT, APEC, and NAFTA, and the
negotiations for the accession of Viet Nam and other countries to the
WTO.

In Viet Nam, Mayer Brown JSM has been acting on behalf of
Vietnamese exporting enterprises since 2000 in the antidumping cases
against catfish and warm-water shrimp.

Currently, Mayer Brown JSM is representing a large number of Vietnamese seafood enterprises in a frozen-fish fillet case.

Hotel rooms aplenty in Binh Thuan

Over-investment
in Binh Thuan Province’s hotel-resort segment over the past years has
resulted in a sharp increase in the number of hotel rooms.

According
to the Binh Thuan Tourism Association, last year the province had 1,000
new hotel rooms, up 12.5 per cent from the previous year compared to
the 10 per cent rise in the number of tourists coming to the province.

Although
there were periods when hotel rooms in the province were fully booked,
the average occupancy rate reached only 58 per cent in 2012.

The province welcomed over 3.14 million tourists last year.

JICA supports tourism info centre

The
new Tourism Information Centre of Phuoc Tich Village, a destination in
the central province of Thua Thien-Hue, has now been completed and is
open to serve visitors, thanks to the support of the Japan International
Co-operation Agency (JICA).

The 550-year-old village contains 24
very old houses, of which the oldest was built in the 1850s. All the
homes were constructed 3.5m above sea level to minimise damage caused by
the annual flooding that has always plagued central Viet Nam. They are
surrounded by gardens and orchards. Tourists visit the village to
explore these historic buildings and to buy local traditional
handicrafts.

JICA sponsored VND700 million (US$33,000) for Phuoc
Tich to build the tourism centre, which will manage tours to the
village, provide services for visitors and offer a place for them to
rest.

Handicraft exports to hit US$1.6 bln in 2013

Vietnam’s
export of handicraft products in 2013 is estimated at US$1.5 or 1.6
billion, equal to last year’s figure and about 1.5 percent of the global
market share, according to the Import-Export Department of the Ministry
of Industry and Trade.

Domestic producers and exporters are
urged to seek new outlets in the emerging markets of Brazil, Russia,
India and China, along with traditional markets, namely the US, EU and
Japan.

Experts said local businesses should apply modern
technology in handicraft production for a higher output of premium
products having additional designs.

They should also create conventional design to meet current trends.

With
Government support, they should form a group of qualified designers and
market researchers as a driving force behind the business.

Source: VEF/VNA/VNS/VOV/SGT/SGGP/Dantri/VIR

By vivian