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Handover of US$30-million GPPD battery factory in Binh Phuoc



A ceremony was held on October 19th, 2020 at Becamex Industrial Park in Binh Phuoc Province to hand over the GPPD factory project from the general contractor WorldSteel Group to GPPD Energy Co., Ltd. as the investor.

GPPD factory project, invested by GPPD Energy Co., Ltd. with 100% investment capital of Singapore, is built in Becamex Industrial Park in Binh Phuoc. GPPD Pte Co. boasts a batterry manufacturing history spanning 66 years and has the most advanced, fully automatic alkaline battery production line in the world. In Vietnam, this is the first mercury-free manganese zinc alkaline battery factory, which comes with very high requirements on construction and finishing techniques.

The factory covers an area of over 30,000m2 with a total investment of US$30 million, and has a total capacity of 936 million products/year, including phase-1 capacity of 336 million products a year and phase-2 output of 600 million products a year.

Especially, when the GPPD factory comes into operation, it will contribute significantly to the economic development of Binh Phuoc Province in terms of job creation for local workers, tax payment and supply chain development.

Representative of GPPD company – Ms. Huang Xiao Yun – Chairman (Left) – Representative of WorldSteel Group – Mr. Nguyen Khanh Lam – Chairman and CEO (Right) shake hands during the signing ceremony.

This project is assumed by WorldSteel Group as the general contractor. Although the early and mid-2020 project implementation phase was an extremely difficult time not only in Vietnam but all over the world as the extremely complicated Covid-19 epidemic affected most respects of life, WorldSteel’s team have focused on the highest service spirit, best control, excellent operation to ensure progress and quality for each work item.

Representative of the investor – Ms. Huang Xiao Yun, General Director of GPPD Energy Co., Ltd., stated at the ceremony:

On behalf of the GPPD, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to all WorldSteel employees, also to the Government of Vietnam and Becamex Industrial Park for their help. Our head office in Singapore is also very fortunate to invest in Vietnam. Today, Vietnam’s first alkaline battery factory has been established. We have 66 years of battery manufacturing history and have the world’s most advanced, fully automated alkaline battery production line. Clean batteries produced will fill gaps in the Vietnamese battery market and create green energy for Vietnam. We will also train outstanding Vietnamese industrial workers to contribute to local technology innovation and industrial development.

Representatives of both sides conduct the opening ceremony.

In addition, WorldSteel Group in Vietnam is known as the first company in Vietnam and Asia to achieve the US IAS AC472 certificate, an important certificate demonstrating the ability to meet stringent quality standards in the field of steel structures for industrial buildings according to American quality standards.

An overview of the project completed by WorldSteel Group.

World Steel Group is increasingly asserting its position in the domestic and international markets by developing many key projects including Hoa Phat Iron and Steel Complex project, CPV Food – Binh Phuoc Becamex, the items in the Long Son Petrochemicals project, and different stages of Tongwei Group’s projects in Tien Giang and Hai Duong.

It has also assumed overseas projects such as Thailand 7-Eleven project, Philippines Coca Cola Warehouse project, Steel Bridge in Singapore, and especially projects in the US market. These projects have received the investor’s trust, praise and appreciation for the quality of the work, construction progress and implementation capacity.




Nearly a third of local sugar plants shut down



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.


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UL help deliver confidence in life safety & business continuity



Building owners and operators know that life safety and efficient operation are important concerns. However, meeting these criteria requires thorough understanding, effort and knowledge.

UL has helped many investors in Vietnam and the community in the field of inspection and verification as they build a safe foundation for buildings and occupants.

Customers choose to work with UL to help demonstrate their safety commitment to occupants, insurers as well as take advantage of such added values as detailed and complete reporting, useful information for further informed decisions, improvement and study. They may also have improved peace of mind that systems have been objectively inspected and accurately evaluated.

According to Ms Lưu Thị Thanh Mẫu, CEO of Phuc Khang Corporation, “The infrastructure quality in Vietnam is gradually developing in parallel with the perfection of safety standards. Vietnamese real estate companies have also been contributing significantly to improving general safety standards and applying international assessment programs for their buildings.”

Along with pioneering the application of green building assessment programs, Phuc Khang Corporation has been cooperating with UL to evaluate comprehensively systems of fire protection, security and life safety inside buildings and fully trusted in UL’s competence and expertise to these programs.

Rome by Diamond Lotus of Phuc Khang Corporation is the first residential building that applied UL Standards right from its design stage”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, UL had urgently built an evaluation program for reoccupancy
(Building Reoccupancy), aiming to support enterprises as they emerge from occupancy restrictions.

Some services provided by UL’s Building Inspection Services in fire and life safety include: occupancy classification, fire zones/compartmentation, emergency and escape lightning, and illumination of means of egress; as well as other important services in security systems and fire protection systems such as fire pump, sprinkler, burglar alarm system and monitor detectors.


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Private airlines appeal for Government support




A Vietnam Airlines aircraft. VNA/ Photo Huy Hùng

HÀ NỘI — Aviation firms appealed for Government support to overcome the difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic at a seminar recently held by the Vietnam Aviation Business Association (VABA) in Hà Nội.
Nguyễn Khắc Hải, deputy general director of Bamboo Airways, told the seminar last week that private airlines needed the same support that was being afforded to State airlines.

“Bamboo Airways has asked the National Assembly and the Government to consider the same support packages for private airlines that have been approved for Vietnam Airlines.”

Hải said the pandemic had severely affected the operation of airlines, and Bamboo Airways had lost up to 90 per cent of its business at the peak of the pandemic.

Although the firm has not disclosed details of its business results in 2020, Hải said additional costs for quarantine and pandemic prevention had added to the airline’s losses.

In response to this, Hải said Government financial support was necessary for firms to maintain cash flow alongside support policies such as tax breaks.

Considered a private airline with a strong financial foundation, VietJet Air is forecast to lose in 2020. Vietjet Vice President and CFO Hồ Ngọc Yến Phương told local media that VietJet Air needed VNĐ10 trillion in loans. 

“Other domestic airlines want access to preferential loans over three to five years from the State to overcome the crisis,” she said, asking the Government to simplify procedures to disburse support packages in a timely manner.

Having been issued a support package of VNĐ4 trillion at 4 per cent interest recently, Nguyễn Tiến Hoàng, deputy head of the Development Planning Department at Vietnam Airlines, said the firm was still facing with difficulties, estimating the recovery would take three to four years.

Hoàng forecast that the local aviation sector would lose $4 billion in 2020, of which Vietnam Airlines’ revenue would fall $608-652 million.

“Although the domestic market has recovered, purchasing power remains weak and ticket prices have dropped sharply. The only international routes operating are repatriation flights. The pandemic has created a long term psychological concern that has halted the aviation industry.”

Hoàng said the Government and Ministry of Transport (MoT) should not consider licensing new airlines before the market recovered.

According to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), there were two scenarios for the aviation industry. The first was a freefall followed by rapid growth, whilst the second was a three- to five-month baseline.

The ICAO forecast the aviation market would decline 48-71 per cent depending on the pandemic.

Phạm Văn Hảo, deputy director of VABA, said the association was co-ordinating with research firms to submit a plan to the Government regarding reopening international flights.

Hảo said: “In the most positive scenario, the aviation market will take three years to bounce back to where it was in 2019.”

Economist Trần Đình Thiên said given the Government held a 86 per cent stake in Vietnam Airlines, the support package was transparent and marketable. However, he said other airlines also needed refinancing interest rates from the Government to stand firm and bounce back when the global aviation market recovered.

Thiên said local airlines should focus on the domestic market as a means to survive and recover from the pandemic.

“The pandemic has changed the structure of the global aviation industry and created opportunities for local aviation firms to better serve local customers.”

According to the association, in 2019, local airlines carried more than 136 million passengers and operated more than 900,000 flights. However, the pandemic had disrupted economic activities, causing great losses to the aviation industry.

Deputy Minister of Transport Lê Anh Tuấn said the ministry would continue to monitor the situation and formulate policies to help the aviation industry recover. —


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