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Businesses register to implement tourism safety criteria

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Two foreign tourists receive free face masks from a volunteer in front of the HCMC Central Post Office in this file photo – PHOTO: VNA

HCMC – HCMC has kicked off a tourism stimulus program, wherein enterprises operating in the tourism industry will have to register to fulfill three criteria, including safety for tourists, in line with the municipal tourism authority’s requirements.

The program, which will last until the end of 2021, will focus on safety, attractiveness and competitive prices, with safety being given the most importance by the authorities.

“Hundreds of businesses have completed the registration. We will make a list of safe businesses and tourist destinations that will be added to the digital safe tourism map,” noted Nguyen Thi Anh Hoa, director of the HCMC Tourism Department, at the HCMC Tourism Stimulus Conference that took place on October 23.

Nguyen Thi Khanh, vice chairwoman of the HCMC Tourism Association, pointed out that having a good set of tourism safety criteria is important to make the tourism stimulus program more effective.

She observed that the tourism market has also seen a positive response as guests who had previously canceled their tours due to the Covid-19 outbreak have registered to travel once again.

With regard to the stimulus program, from now until the end of 2021, HCMC will introduce 200 tourism products, 20% of which will be new. For example, there will be half-day city tours around HCMC comprising traveling along the Saigon River or rowing a boat on the Nhieu Loc-Thi Nghe canal.

As part of the program, 30 hotels will offer discounts from 20 to 60% and more than 10 will offer discounts of 15 to 20%.

Source: https://english.thesaigontimes.vn/79119/businesses-register-to-implement-tourism-safety-criteria.html

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ASEAN customs transit system launched

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The online ASEAN Customs Transit System (ACTS) was officially launched on November 30 to accelerate trade in goods by road within Southeast Asia.

ASEAN customs transit system launched hinh anh 1

The Asean Customs Transit System was officially launched at a virtual event on Nov 30, 2020. (Photo: ACTS)

In 2017, ASEAN economic ministers set the twin goals of reducing trade transaction costs by 10 percent by 2020 and doubling intra-bloctrade between 2017 and 2025. ACTS has been developed to realise this goal to allow businesses to lodge e-transit declarations directly to ASEAN customs authorities and track the movement of their goods from loading to delivery.

Being developed with the support of the European Union, ACTS is simplifying the movement of goods across the region, making it more efficient and cost-effective.

Following trials in Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam, the system has now been formally launched.

The first successful ACTS transit movement occurred on October 23-24 when a truck travelled from Singapore via Malaysia to Thailand.

The system will soon be available in Myanmar, and, depending on business needs, may later be expanded to Brunei, Indonesia and the Philippines.

Now transporters can make a single customs transit declaration that covers the transport of goods across multiple countries, without the need to make repeated customs declarations or change vehicles at each border.

Special arrangements allow reliable traders to load their goods at their own premises in the country of departure, and to deliver the goods to their own premises at other places.

Faster customs clearance at borders helps accelerate transit and reduce the time and expenses needed for carrying out regional trade in goods.

Dato Lim Jock Hoi, Secretary-General of ASEAN, said: “The implementation of the ASEAN Customs Transit System plays a vital role in facilitating seamless movement of goods in the region. I believe the system will be an excellent tool in enhancing ASEAN’s trade and production networks as well as establishing a more unified market for its firms and consumers.

“ACTS could also support post-COVID recovery to accelerate the transit movement of medical supplies, vaccines and personal protective equipment within the member states.”

The system is managed by a permanent ACTS central management team based in the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta, Indonesia, with support from the EU-funded ARISE Plus programme.

“ACTS is a remarkable achievement that is testament to the strong, dynamic and long-standing partnership between ASEAN and the European Union,” Koen Doens, director general for international cooperation and development at the European Commission, said.

“The EU is proud to have joined ASEAN to make ACTS a reality, providing European technical expertise and 10 million euros since 2012.”
ARISE Plus has provided extensive ACTS training for stakeholders in the public and private sectors, including customs authorities, government transport agencies, freight forwarders, transporters, banks, and insurance companies./.VNA

Source: https://vietnamnet.vn/en/business/asean-customs-transit-system-launched-694172.html

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Freight and logistics stocks on the rise despite pandemic

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Quy Nhơn Port in south central province of Bình Định. — VNA Photo

HÀ NỘI — Freight and logistics stocks have seen major gains since the beginning of 2020 even as the COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on the economy. 

According to the General Statistics Office, the country’s exports topped US$254 billion during the first 11 months of the year, making for an increase of 5.3 per cent over the previous year, while imports were estimated at $234.5 billion. 

Increased trade activities coupled with a number of international trade deals which were recently signed or came into effects such as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) have significantly boosted investors’ confidence in logistics stocks.

A number of stocks such as VSC, GMD, DVP, DXP, SFI and HAH have seen double-digit growth in recent months and some of them set all-time high records on the trading floor. 

Experts, however, pointed out the recent rise in stock value did not necessarily come from better business performance but rather investors’ optimism in the sector’s future. For example, despite the increased trading value, Gemadept has reported a 32 per cent drop in profit in the first three quarters, Tân Cảng Logistic (TCL) a 15 per cent drop and Hải An Logistics a 9 per cent drop. 

A container shortage, typically experienced by logistics firms during the end of the year when import/export activities are at the highest level, especially for an export-oriented economy such as Việt Nam, contributed to an increase in logistics costs.

A report from the Vietnam Logistics Business Association (VLA) showed more than 40 per cent of firms had difficulty finding containers for their cargo with up to 17 per cent unable to rent them. This has created a large backlog of cargo at port and storage facilities across the country, which generated additional revenue for logistics firms. 

Meanwhile, freight charges have skyrocketed in recent months. According to Freightos, a Hong Kong-based shipping company, the freight charges for a 40-feet container from China to the US west coast has almost tripled to near $4,000. 

Investors also seem to be betting on an increase in port charges as Việt Nam’s current prices were comparatively low in the region. A statement from the VLA said the sector has set an objective to bring charges to 60-70 per cent of the region’s price level by 2025, which they have planned to start bringing up at the beginning of next year. —

Source: https://vietnamnews.vn/economy/816951/freight-and-logistics-stocks-on-the-rise-despite-pandemic.html

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Nearly a third of local sugar plants shut down

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A farmer harvests sugarcane. Nearly a third of domestic sugar plants have shut down – PHOTO: THANH HOA

HANOI – Only 29 of 40 local sugar plants remained operational in the 2019-2020 season due to a high volume of sugar imports and the deployment of the ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement (ATIGA) with lower tax rates for sugar imports from ASEAN markets, according to the Vietnam Sugarcane and Sugar Association (VSSA).

The 2020-2021 season is forecast to be a hard time for the sugar sector, especially since the Covid-19 pandemic remains a big challenge. Four more sugar mills—Son Duong, Nong Cong, Van Phat and Pho Phong—are likely to stop their operations due to a shortage of input materials, resulting in their poor performance.

The local sugar sector has been hit for many years due to the smuggling of sugar, mainly from Thailand.

Meanwhile, other ASEAN countries, such as Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia, despite commitments to the ATIGA, have still employed measures to protect their sugar firms.

Vietnam has fulfilled its commitments to the agreement since January 1 by setting no limits on the volume of sugar imports from ASEAN countries and applying a tax rate of 5% for sugar imports from these markets.

According to statistics from the General Department of Vietnam Customs, nearly 884,300 tons of sugar was imported into the country in the January-October period of this year, higher than the locally-produced volume of sugar. Of the total, sugar from Thailand accounted for 87.67%.

Due to a high volume of low-cost sugar imports, the prices of local sugar products have plunged, leading to low sugarcane prices. As a result, many farmers have incurred debts and stopped growing sugarcane.

In reality, the Ministry of Industry and Trade launched an anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigation into sugar products that originate from Thailand in September. The ministry had earlier imposed anti-dumping measures on high-fructose corn syrup products originating from China and South Korea.

According to VSSA, Thailand has banned sugar imports, while Indonesia and the Philippines have allowed the import of a volume of sugar equivalent to the deficiency in volume.

In these three countries, sugarcane farmers are supported through direct and indirect aid and the profit sharing system to ensure they earn a stable income.

Specifically, the Thai Government annually provides at least US$1.3 billion to the sugar sector.

Therefore, Nguyen Van Loc, acting general secretary of VSSA, proposed Vietnam should apply trade remedies in line with the international law and rules of the World Trade Organization.

Source: https://english.thesaigontimes.vn/79609/nearly-a-third-of-local-sugar-plants-shut-down.html

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