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Kiên Giang keen to become sea-based economic powerhouse by 2025




Fishing boats are at anchor near Thổ Chu Island, Phú Quốc District in Kiên Giang Province. The southern province is striving to branch out its maritime sector and become a sea-based economic powerhouse by 2025. — VNA/ Photo Lê Huy Hải

KIÊN GIANG — Boasting 200km of coastline and 143 islands, the Mekong Delta province of Kiên Giang is striving to branch out its maritime sector and become a sea-based economic powerhouse by 2025.

The move aims to contribute to realising the ‘Strategy for Sustainable Development of Việt Nam’s Marine Economy by 2030 with a Vision to 2045’.

According to Permanent Deputy Secretary of the provincial Party Committee Mai Van Huỳnh, the province is prioritising building its maritime sector to boost economic development while protecting the environment and strengthening national defence at sea and on islands.

Major investments have been made in several key industries, such as seafood, tourism-marine services, energy, and the maritime industry, among others, helping the province rank second among the 13 Mekong Delta localities in terms of maritime economic development in 2020.

The sea-based economy accounted for 79.75 per cent of the local gross regional domestic product (GRDP) in the year, he added.

High-capacity fishing vessels have been built to bolster offshore fishing, contributing to sustainable fisheries and the protection of the nation’s sovereignty over sea and islands.

With vast fishing grounds and a strong fleet, the province’s annual seafood output tops 500,000 tonnes and its aquaculture yield was estimated at more than 264,100 tonnes in 2020.

Kiên Giang is working to secure a total seafood catch and aquaculture output of 800,000 tonnes by 2025.

According to the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, farming areas in Phú Quốc City, Kiên Hải island district, the island commune of Tiên Hải in Hà Tiên City, and Sơn Hải and Hòn Nghệ in Kiên Lương District will focus on farming groupers, cobias, yellow-fin pompanos, and seabass, as well as blue lobster, mantis shrimp, crab, and oysters for pearl farming.

Meanwhile, coastal areas in Hà Tiên City and the districts of Kiên Lương, Hòn Đất, An Minh, and An Biên will develop zones for farming molluscs such as blood cockles, saltwater mussels, green mussels, and oysters.

Attention will be paid to high-tech aquaculture, the development of quality staples with high economic value, and measures to prevent illegal fishing.

Local maritime tourism has helped drive the tourism sector thanks to renowned destinations like Phú Quốc Island. A huge amount of capital has been injected into Phú Quốc City for years, most of which comes from strategic investors such as Vingroup, Sun Group, BIM Group, and CEO Group.

According to the provincial Department of Tourism, the province welcomed more than 5.2 million visitors in 2020, accounting for 55.8 per cent of the goal but down 40.7 per cent year-on-year. Revenue from tourism services was at more than VNĐ7.8 trillion (US$339.8), or 39.3 per cent of the target, and down 57.7 per cent compared to 2019.

Local tourism is seeing a sound recovery thanks to stimulus measures.

The province will sharpen its focus on tourism infrastructure at key attractions, including Phú Quốc Island.

Vice Director of the Department of Tourism Bùi Quốc Thái said the province encourages all economic sectors to build and diversify local tourism products, as well as join in efforts to form a major tourism centre.

Regarding energy development, the province prioritises investment in wind power, electrification, solar power, and many other sources of renewable energy.

It also plans to build coastal roads and improve logistics services, while working to preserve ocean biodiversity and restore ocean ecosystems, protecting mangrove forests in tandem with the effective and sustainable exploitation of marine resources. —



Local firms focus on customer experience



In Việt Nam, large enterprises and SMEs place significantly less emphasis on boosting their focus on innovation, SAP has revealed. — Photo

HÀ NỘI — According to a new study, large Vietnamese enterprises are likely to have strategic priorities focusing on growth (42 per cent) as companies respond to market volatility and widespread operational disruptions.

The findings were released as part of a new study of enterprises in Southeast Asia, uncovering the state of businesses and their strategic priorities, as well as challenges and opportunities for post-pandemic growth, by SAP SE.

The regional study “Digital, resilient, and experience-driven: How enterprises in Southeast Asia can prepare for the new economy”, reveals that enterprises in Southeast Asia are gaining steady momentum prioritising growth and customer experiences. However, they face significant challenges in the areas of talent attraction and retention, cloud adoption, and gaining insights from data. 

Conducted in collaboration with Oxford Economics, the study surveyed 600 senior executives – including 400 from small-and-medium enterprises (SMEs) with less than US$500 million in revenue – across Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Việt Nam, Indonesia, and the Philippines.

In Việt Nam, larger firms also recognise that the experience economy is about more than customers – employees matter, too. They are somewhat more likely than smaller firms to cite improving the employee experience and attracting and retaining top talent as strategic priorities (27 per cent). 

This will likely become an even greater focus as companies seek to quickly adapt their workforces to fit the changing market by increasing organisational agility (27 per cent). While building trust with customers – which smaller firms tend to see as their inherent competitive advantage – can ultimately support resiliency and give SMEs the strong foundation they need, almost half of SMEs’ strategic top priorities are improving the customer experience (44 per cent), followed by increasing profits and reducing costs (30 per cent).

The overwhelming focus on experiences and service excellence so far is cited as the primary source of value and differentiation for large enterprises and SMEs in Việt Nam. Among survey respondents in Việt Nam, large enterprises and SMEs place significantly less emphasis on boosting their focus on innovation.

Larger organisations and SMEs in Việt Nam are less fluent in the use of technological solutions to transform the organisation. Instead, larger firms and SMEs in Việt Nam are focused on cutting prices on their goods and services and increased focus on ethics and sustainability issues are become second priority to improve customer experiences.

“Digital, resilient and experience driven are part of today’s business,” said Nguyễn Hồng Việt, SAP Vietnam Managing Director. “Technologies are changing how we live and work, and the pandemic exposed how fragile our world is. Only companies that can adapt quickly will thrive. We need to be more agile, more intelligent, more efficient to point out new ways. RISE with SAP initiative will help business transform holistically by changing the whole culture and mindset of an enterprise and redesigning your business processes to unlock new ways of running your business and stay ahead of your industry.” —


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LIXIL redefining corporate culture through transformation



Satoshi Konagai, leader of LIXIL Water Technology – APAC. — Photo courtesy of LIXIL

LIXIL, a global leader in housing and building materials, and known in Viet Nam as a provider of global brands such as American Standard, GROHE, INAX and TOSTEM, has been able to nimbly adapt and transform during the COVID-19 pandemic. Satoshi Konagai, leader of LIXIL Water Technology – APAC, spoke to Việt Nam News about its growth strategies in the country and around the region.

What activities did the corporation undertake during the pandemic?

Last year was an interesting year for us all and I believe we have learnt a lot from dealing with this unprecedented pandemic, which has affected markets globally. Yet, we remained focused on our medium-term plan, which involved improving profitability and transforming the organisation to be more agile, entrepreneurial, and resilient to achieve sustainable growth – which are ever more relevant in these unprecedented times.

Most importantly our purpose-driven approach, focusing on pioneering water and housing products that solve everyday, real-life challenges, has contributed to our consumers’ health and hygiene. With COVID-19, the entire world is focused on hygiene, and that is what LIXIL already does better than most. LIXIL has responded to this major macro trend of health, wellbeing and multi-purpose living space by focusing on retail and accelerating development for touchless faucets and flushing, antibacterial finishes, water filtration, bidets, and shower toilets.

During the pandemic, we continued to build a platform-based, global product pipeline worth US$1 billion in sales across all our brands. This was key for us given the increased renovation demand with people now spending more time at home and using it for more and more daily functions like work, family time, exercising, cooking and other hobbies.

LIXIL’s products focus on pioneering water and housing products that solve everyday, real-life challenges, contributing to consumers’ health and hygiene. — Photo courtesy of LIXIL

How do you improve your business fundamentals in these trying times, and what is the main focus moving forward into a new normal?

At LIXIL, our purpose of making better homes a reality for everyone, everywhere requires a deep understanding of consumers – how they live and what they expect from their living spaces. And by fully understanding the evolving consumer needs as well as the importance of being data-driven, we took actionable steps to focus on LIXIL’s core businesses and to simplify our business structure, enabling our approximately $14 billion global corporation with operations across more than 150 countries to further drive growth.

We have a new ‘go-to-market’ strategy serving as a starting point for a comprehensive approach that will reinforce our industry leadership by moving away from a one-size-fits-all approach. New product launches are also specific to customer groups (consumer/professional) and their needs and preferences. 

We have also invested in technology, such as intuitive IoT-backed products, to bring not only better designs but also optimum hygiene, enhanced comfort and convenience.

GROHE Sensia Arena stands for intelligent care: enjoying innovative functions that are tailored to your personal needs.

Due to the effects of the pandemic, we are striving to put across the importance of hygiene, wellbeing and sustainability, especially when it comes to hospitality. Increased levels of hygiene will be a more fundamental expectation from consumers, and decisions by consumers on where to book will be influenced by the availability of touchless solutions and generally safer experiences, and so it is important to offer bathroom solutions that offer peace of mind.

There will also be an increased willingness by consumers post-pandemic to pay more for a luxury wellbeing experience that feels vastly different to home. With that in mind, we can place enhanced focus on sustainability through reduced water consumption, while maintaining the same strict levels of performance and cleanliness.  

What can the power of culture and purpose-driven approach bring about?

At LIXIL, our people are our biggest strength. Hence, we have embarked on a journey of transformation towards a more agile and empowering work culture. As an important first step in this journey, LIXIL decided to adopt a common, simple and unifying title of ‘Leader’.

LIXIL has redefined corporate culture through transformation towards a simpler, more empowered and non-hierarchical culture. This is a highly significant milestone. What’s important is the actual work individuals are responsible for, not the title or rank they carry. We are focused on strengthening agile, team-based work. Teams create value for the organisation by capitalising on the collective strengths and diversity of thought, which will be made possible when we have an environment that does away with deference to hierarchy, fear of consequences, and lack of transparency. We want the best ideas to win, rather than a person’s rank. My leadership team and I are committed to making this change a meaningful one.

This change in titles to ‘Leader’ is a visible change that will remind us every day of the promises we are making to ourselves and to all stakeholders – that what we do matters more than who we are, that everyone’s voice matters, that a leaders’ job is first and foremost to empower. This is how we deliver better in line with our mission, and continue to inspire and improve living and working solutions that touch the lives of 1 billion people every day.

There will be more willingness by consumers post-pandemic to pay more for a luxury wellbeing experience that feels vastly different to home. — Photo courtesy of LIXIL

What are the priorities in Việt Nam for the group?

Việt Nam is a fast-growing vital market for LIXIL in the APAC region, and in 2021 we will continue to build resilience and agility to cater to partners, developers, professionals and consumers with our latest innovations, creating better homes for everyone, everywhere. 

LIXIL is present in the Vietnamese market with our industry-leading brands American Standard, GROHE, INAX and TOSTEM, covering a wide range of bathroom, window and door product categories across all market segments, from the luxurious to the basic ends of the spectrum, while catering to different lifestyle preferences and local tastes. Already in Việt Nam for more than 25 years, INAX is one of the most important brands in the Vietnamese market, and launched in late 2020 the S200 Series – maximising comfort and functionality within compact urban bathroom spaces.

The INAX S200 LINE bathroom collection reflects the brand’s design values of essence, sophistication and thoughtfulness to transform the bathroom experience.

We believe we need to, and can, change perceptions of how bathrooms are used in this country, which is especially important post-pandemic. It is the correct time to change mindsets from those that think a bathroom is solely a simple and necessary function. Hygiene is ever more prevalent in people’s minds, even in a country that has prevented large outbreaks, and so it is right to focus on improving hygiene – and that starts at home.

This is our approach to staying fully committed to transforming the way Vietnamese consumers approach their living spaces and making better homes a reality for them, while balancing business needs to not only ensure business continuity but business growth amidst external challenges and disruptions. —


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Wood export expected to hit a new record



A worker checks furniture products at Tài Phước Co., Ltd. in Phú Tài Industrial Park in the central coastal province of Bình Định. — VNA/ Photo Vũ Sinh

HÀ NỘI — Việt Nam’s wood exports have increased over the last few years and are expected to reach a new record in 2021.

The export turnover of wood and wood products has seen an average increase of 15.4 per cent per year in the 2017-2020 period, or US$1.35 billion, even greater than the total turnover of many items.

The export turnover of wood and wood products reached approximately $3.7 billion in the first quarter of this year, up 41.5 per cent, nearly double the growth rate of the total export turnover of the country at 22 per cent.

It is expected the export turnover of wood will surpass the $14.8 billion milestone, an increase of nearly 20 per cent, or $2.4 billion compared to the previous year.

Export turnover of wood and wood products is the sixth largest among Vietnamese export sectors. Wood and wood products are also the items with the largest trade surplus, contributing to improving the trade balance.

This sector has achieved such great results due to many factors, including the rate of forest cover being kept at around 42 per cent. Every year, the concentrated afforestation area is over 260,000 hectares.

These are among the factors to protect and improve the environment, as well as a fundamental factor to create jobs, reduce poverty rates in the mountainous and midland provinces, and as a source of raw materials for wood processing industry and wood export.

The amount of annual exploited wood has increased, surpassing 10 million cubic metres in 2015 and 16 million cubic metres in 2019.

Exploited wood grew by 33.9 per cent last year compared to 2016, an average annual increase of 7.6 per cent, or 1.07 million cubic metres.

In terms of market, the US is the largest export market, accounting for 60.4 per cent of Việt Nam’s total wood export turnover, followed by China with 9.9 per cent, Japan 9.5 per cent, and South Korea 5.7 per cent. These four markets alone account for 85.5 per cent of the total.

In terms of production capacity, excluding individuals, production groups and cooperatives, Việt Nam currently has nearly 12,000 enterprises, with about 500,000 employees and VNĐ320 trillion (nearly $14 billion) of production-business capital over VNĐ120 trillion in value of fixed assets, and nearly VNĐ360 trillion in net revenue. —


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