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Affordable housing supply fails to meet goal: Official

Blocks of social housing in Kim Chung commune of Hanoi’s Dong Anh district (Photo: VNA)

The supply of affordable housing for low-income earners in urban areas and industrial park workers has only met around 42 percent of the target, Bui Xuan Dung, Director of the Ministry of Construction’s Housing and Real Estate Market Management Agency, told a recent workshop.

A lack of available land and funding were to blame for the social housing shortage, Dung told the “Social Housing: The Establishment of the 2021 – 2030 Comprehensive Social Housing Policy in Vietnam” workshop on April 20 in Hanoi.

The urban population is on the rise and likely to reach 47.25 million, or 44.45 percent of the country’s total, in 2030. By that time, Vietnam will have one city of more than 10 million people, one of 5-10 million, and four of 1-5 million. Rapid urbanisation, though positively impacting socio-economic development, has put enormous pressure on housing, particularly for those on low incomes, he noted.

To boost social housing development around the country, the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) shook hands with the Ministry of Construction to launch a project on establishing the 2021 – 2030 Comprehensive Social Housing Policy, funded by non-refundable aid from the Republic of Korea (RoK).

The project aims to learn from international experience and explore the current situation in Vietnam to propose suitable policies for affordable housing development over the next decade and meet the growing demand.

A number of proposals, including those regarding land banks, the reform of procedures for social housing purchasing, renting, and “rent-to-buy” schemes, and incentives for developers have been put forward and translated into reality.

Kim Youin from the RoK Embassy in Vietnam said policies for social housing development need to be implemented in the long term and under a specific roadmap. The Government should also develop exclusive mechanisms and policies for people without financial means to access an appropriate social housing model, he said./.

Long-term plan for post-pandemic economic recovery needed: Insiders

As the COVID-19 pandemic may continue to develop in an unpredictable fashion despite vaccination campaigns being carried out in many countries around the world, experts have said that Vietnam needs to identify and adopt a long-term plan for post-pandemic economic recovery.

They were speaking at a workshop held by the Ministry of Planning and Investment’s Central Institute for Economic Management (CIEM) on April 22 to release a report on making economic recovery and institutional reforms intertwined post-pandemic.

COVID-19 has damaged the global economy, they said, forcing both developed and developing countries to speed up institutional reforms in combination with accessing the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the digital economy.

Having largely brought the pandemic under control this year, Vietnam has seen remarkable socio-economic recovery.

The resumption of international flights and the launch of vaccine passports have been discussed, with a view to opening up the economy in a safe manner.

According to CIEM Director Tran Thi Hong Minh, the report highlights several considerations for economic recovery and institutional reform in the time to come, including macro-economic stabilisation, economic institutional innovation and international integration, the State role, and economic space for the private sector.

The time to carry out economic reforms should be studied carefully during post-pandemic economic recovery, she added.

Regarding the reform process for Vietnam recommended in the report, Nguyen Anh Duong from CIEM said that it should continue its COVID-19 prevention work and its efforts to remove bottlenecks facing the business community and workers and promote economic institutional reform this year.

In 2022, it is necessary for the country to carry out economic recovery measures in tandem with economic institutional reform. Meanwhile, solutions to support economic recovery should be withdrawn, and focus should be sharpened on economic institutional reform, Duong added.

Vietnam can achieve better economic growth if it loosens monetary and fiscal policies, but it could suffer from higher inflationary pressure, he pointed out.

Loose monetary and fiscal policies could result in higher economic growth and improvements in productivity if combined with institutional reform, he added, describing this as an effective way to develop the economy in a rapid and sustainable manner in the face of global economic risks and uncertainties./.

Policies to troubleshoot barriers for social housing development

At the workshop “Building an overall social housing policy in Vietnam in the period 2021-2030” held by the Ministry of Construction on April 20 in Hanoi, experts proposed several solutions to remove barriers for social housing development and to assist poor people to have their own houses.

At the workshop, experts said social housing nearly disappeared from the current market; therefore, they suggested some solutions to tackle the present difficulties in the real estate market in a bid to help low income earners to settle down.

According to the Ministry of Construction, the country has so far completed 249 social housing projects comprising more than 104,200 apartments in a total area of about 5.4 million square meters for low-income people in urban areas, workers in industrial zones.

Besides, localities are continuing to deploy 264 projects including 219,000 apartments. However, this number is still low compared to the plan, only reaching 42 percent of the National Housing Development Strategy’s goal.

In particular, the number of social housing in the total housing supply in localities is only accounting for 1.02 percent. In fact, statistics have shown that the number of low-priced houses under VND2 billion has decreased sharply since 2020. Currently, there are not many projects with apartments pricing below VND25 million per square meters.

For instance, in Hanoi, a few social housing projects with the price below VND20 million per square meters are on sale in areas far from the center and in underdeveloped infrastructure districts such as Thanh Tri, Tu Liem, Dong Anh and Ha Dong meanwhile there are almost no apartment projects with prices below VND25 million per square meter in Ho Chi Minh City.

Presently, according to information recently announced by the real estate trading floors, real estate prices are still increasing in all segments, in which low-priced apartments have the highest increase. According to a survey of the Project on Construction of General Social Policies in Vietnam in the period 2021-2030, supported by Korea International Cooperation Agency in Vietnam, called KOICA, (Korea), in the last 5 years, the price of social places in Ho Chi Minh City has been increase about 20 percent.

The demand has continued to far outpace the supply leading to unlawful purchase and trade of social housing. Recently, real estate agents have offered to sell for VND150 million for a social house in Ha Dinh social housing project in Thanh Xuan District and the NHS Trung Van project in Nam Tu Liem District in Hanoi although they are not eligible to open for sale. Many people agreed to buy despite the risks.

Director of Housing and Real Estate Market Management Department Bui Xuan Dung said the supply of affordable housing still fails to meet increasing demand of low-income earners because the development of social housing is facing many problems.

First of all, the budget allocated to the Bank for Social Policies is low with about VND2,163 / 9,000 billion satisfying 24 percent of the demand in the 2016-2020 period. Meanwhile, the capital source to compensate the interest rates for credit institutions to provide loans for the implementation of social places policy has not been provided so far.

In some localities, in urban planning, industrial zones, the land fund for social place development is not clearly defined, regulations on spending 20 percent of the land fund in commercial housing projects to develop social places have not been strictly implemented. or arranged but located in unfavorable locations or the ground clearance has not been completed.

Besides, the mechanisms and policies for development of social places are not synchronous and not strong enough. Worse, some improper policies are not consistent with the market mechanism, not encourage investors to pour money to build social houses.

Therefore, Mr. Dung said many difficulties and obstacles in the policy of developing social housing will be solved in the coming time. At first, the Ministry of Construction reported to competent authorities to consider and soon allocate more capital sources according to the Government’s Resolution No. 41 to balance an additional VND1,000 billion for the Bank for Social Policies and an additional VND2,000 billion to subsidize interest rates for four commercial banks to provide preferential loans for social housing purchase.

KOICA International Cooperation Agency (Korea) on April 20 handed over the results of the Project on Construction of comprehensive social housing policies in Vietnam in the period 2021-2030 using ODA grants. re-government of Korea to the Ministry of Construction.

According to the project results, experts have surveyed the real situation of social housing in eight big cities such as Hanoi, the Northern City of Hai Phong, Ho Chi Minh City, the Northern Province of Bac Ninh, the southern provinces of Dong Nai, Binh Duong.

From the survey results, experts forecast that the period of 2021-2030, Vietnam needs 524,576 apartments on the area of 34,756 square meters. In which, HCMC needs 198,821 apartments, equivalent to 13,035 square meters.

Korean experts also proposed some solutions including the housing savings form of the social policy bank amongst employees and workers in industrial parks. In order to attract investors, localities should adjust mechanisms and policies so that investors increase their profits when carrying out social housing projects.

Vietnam-based blockchain startup secures US$4 million investment from US 

The fresh investment aims to contribute to perfecting infrastructure of decentralized finance (DeFi).
Vietnam-based startup in blockchain, Coin98 Finance has received a US$4 million investment from Alameda Research, one of the leading quantitative crypto trading firms and liquidity providers, to expand its scale, create new products and contribute to perfecting infrastructure of decentralized finance (DeFi).

Coin98 Finance focuses on building a comprehensive ecosystem of DeFi protocols and applications across multiple blockchains. The startup is developing Coin98 Wallet, Coin98 Exchange, and other fascinating DeFi products.

“Alameda Research strengthens our vision to reach vast expansion and adoption through its extensive support. With Alameda Research’s investment, our team will begin to scale up and swell resources to boost all products in development and innovate additional products to contribute to maturing the DeFi infrastructure,” a representative from Coin98 Finance said.

Earlier, Coin98 Labs, a DeFi product builder focusing on creating and developing an ecosystem of DeFi protocols and applications on multiple blockchains, announced the completion of a US$1.25 million seed round led by ParaFi Capital, Multicoin Capital, Hashed and Spartan Group for its second product, Coin98 Exchange. 

Coin98 Finance has over 200,000 users primarily in Southeast Asia and its monthly volume is about $20 million.

Vietnam warned easing monetary policy to cause asset price bubble: Experts 

Credit has not been effectively channeled into fields that contribute directly to economic growth and ultimately social prosperity, but to risky fields such as real estate, stock market or cryptocurrencies.

The current low-interest rate environment as a result of monetary easing policy adopted by the Vietnamese government is channeling social capital into risky fields of real estate or stock market, instead of production and business activities.

Pham The Anh, chief economist at the Vietnam Institute for Economic and Policy Research (VEPR), told Hanoitimes in reference to the overheating of asset markets in recent months.

“With a cheap money policy from the central bank, investors tend to stay away from business and production expansion, which seems to be riskier than betting on real estate or stock markets,” Anh noted.

At present, Vietnam’s ratio of M2 money supply (covering cash in circulation and all deposits) to GDP is at nearly 200% and the credit-to-GDP ratio 140%, the highest among five major economies in ASEAN, said Anh, pointing out similar ratios of 60-70% in Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia.

Last year, Vietnam registered a credit expansion of 12,13%, while the nominal GDP growth stood at  2.91%. “This indicated credit has not been effectively channeled into fields that contribute directly for economic growth, and eventually for social prosperity,” he added.

For the past five years, credit into real estate rose eight-fold and currently makes up 20% of total outstanding loans.

“Taking into account an addition of 20% in total outstanding loans from consumer credit, which also includes loans for home purchases, the dependent level of the economy into banks’ credit is growing at a rapid rate,” stated Anh.

Anh added idle money from the people and enterprises pouring into asset markets could also increase social inequality as real estate properties are becoming more expensive and thus making it harder for low- to middle-income groups to purchase.

On this issue, economist Can Van Luc said asset bubble price would become not sustainable and   burst eventually, leading to severe consequences for the society.

“It is especially risky for those that are using financial leverage to invest in real estate, stock market or cryptocurrencies,” he noted, saying this is also a major issue for the global economy as global debt has now reached US$277 trillion, or 365% of world GDP.

Luc called for the government to act drastically in addressing hikes in land prices in many provinces/cities which have doubled or tripled in the past months in Vietnam by providing more transparent information on land planning, while working on measures to promote professionalism and transparency in the stock market.

In a recent meeting, Governor of the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) Nguyen Thi Hong stressed the importance of tightening credit into risky fields and meeting growing capital needs for priority fields [agriculture, industry, small and medium enterprises], adding the move is in line with Vietnam’s ongoing restructuring process to ensure sustainable development and maintain stability in the banking sector.

In the first quarter of 2021, credit channeled into real estate was estimated at VND1,850 trillion (US$80.35 billion) up 3% against late 2020 and higher than the overall credit expansion rate of 2.93% for the period.

VIMC set to earn 469 mln USD in 2021

The State-owned Vietnam Maritime Corporation (VIMC) plans to earn some 10.8 trillion VND (nearly 469 million USD) in revenue this year and post 944 billion VND in consolidated profit, its shareholders’ meeting in Hanoi on April 22 heard.

In the 2021-2025 period, the company will conduct a number of major projects, such as Terminal 4 and 5 at Hai Phong’s Lach Huyen International Gateway Port, upgrades and expansions to Quy Nhon Port, and the second phase of Da Nang’s Tien Sa Port.

VIMC currently holds dominating stakes in 19 subsidiaries and 16 associates and shares in 16 seaport enterprises, and manages and operates more than 13,000 metres of wharves, including at key ports around the country such as Hai Phong Port, Saigon Port, Da Nang Port, and Quy Nhon Port.

It officially began operations as a joint stock company last September, with more than 1.2 billion shares listed.

It generated over 1.4 trillion VND in pre-tax profit from port services last year and more than 1.7 trillion VND from maritime services, 9.8 percent and 12 percent higher, respectively, than the annual goals, despite being challenged by COVID-19, according to VIMC Director General Nguyen Canh Tinh.

Ending the year, VIMC posted total revenue of nearly 651 billion VND but incurred losses of more than 1.1 trillion VND due to large debts remaining from previous years.

Quang Ninh eyes 550,000 visitors during April 30-May Day holiday

Home to Ha Long Bay – a recognised world natural heritage, the northern coastal province of Quang Ninh is set to welcome between 500,000 and 550,000 visitors during the upcoming National Reunification Day (April 30) and International Labour Day (May 1) holiday, said a local official.

Speaking at a press conference on April 22 to announce the organisation of activities to stimulate tourism demand in the locality, Vice Chairwoman of the provincial People’s Committee Nguyen Thi Hanh said Quang Ninh aims to cater to 10 million holidaymakers and earn 20 trillion VND (867 million USD) in revenue this year, becoming the leading choice of destination for Vietnamese and foreign tourists.

A series of cultural, sports, and tourism programmes are taking place across the locality from April 18 to May 16, she added.

The highlight will be the Ha Long Carnival 2021 on May 1.

Among a series of ongoing and upcoming events to mark the start of the 2021 tourism season, the province is focusing on large-scale activities, such as a music night gathering top Vietnamese singers, an inauguration ceremony for Hon Gai Beach, and a fireworks display./.

Tien Giang targets 160.64 million USD in key construction investment

The Mekong Delta province of Tien Giang plans to mobilise over 3.7 trillion VND (160.64 million USD) in public investment capital this year, Director of the provincial Department of Planning and Investment Nguyen Dinh Thong has said.

Of the figure, the local budget will fund nearly 3 trillion VND, while the remainder will come from the State budget.

Local authorities are set to roll out 189 key constructions in the fields of education and vocational training, health care, population and family planning, transport, agriculture, irrigation and aquaculture, and the national target programme on building new-style rural areas, including works remaining from last year.

Since the start of this year, the province has disbursed close to 998 billion VND in public capital, reaching nearly 27 percent of the target, of which 936.5 billion VND was from the local budget.

For prompt disbursement, contractors are asked to speed up the construction of remaining works and those for the programme building new-style rural areas.

In addition, the province will bolster transparency, inspections, and supervision at all levels and by local people, and spare no effort in tackling corruption, losses and wastefulness as well as detecting and strictly handling violations by collectives and individuals regarding public investment./.

Soft power helps Vietnam enhance national brand value: Expert

Vietnam has performed strongly in optimising soft power to enhance the value of domestic product trademarks, according to Vu Ba Phu, head of the Vietnam Trade Promotion Agency at the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT).

Phu told a conference in Hanoi on April 22 that a report from Brand Finance shows that, last year, Vietnam’s national brand value jumped nine places to 33rd among the 100 most valuable national trademarks.

He said that Vietnam was the only country among ASEAN members to see a rise in its ranking in the global soft power index, from 50th in 2020 to 47th globally in 2021.

Moreover, Vietnam’s national prestige also increased last year thanks to the response and policies from the Government, especially on supporting businesses in building and promoting their trademark domestically and internationally, along with the dynamism and efforts of businesses, he said.

In the future, he went on, MoIT will continue to cooperate with ministries, sectors, and relevant agencies to create favourable conditions for and assist enterprises in national trademark promotion.

Meanwhile, Nguyen Thanh Son, CEO of the MVV Group, said the prestige of the national trademark encourages businesses to build communications programs.

He added that businesses should focus on the benefits they can enjoy from the growing national trademark, including tools for self-assessment and the timely introduction of changes.

Part of the Vietnam National Brand Week 2021 taking place from April 19-25, experts at the conference offered advice to businesses on how to tap opportunities the national trademark presents and improve their marketing strategies.

They also proposed measures to support firms in penetrating into international markets as well as setting up information systems and updating knowledge about trademarks, to meet the criteria of the Vietnam National Brand Programme in the new circumstances./.

Lam Dong, India seek stronger agricultural cooperation

As a locality that leads the way in high-tech agriculture in Vietnam, the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong holds advantages in cooperating in this regard with different countries from around the world, including India, an online conference has heard.

The conference was jointly held in Lam Dong’s Da Lat city by the provincial People’s Committee and the Indian Consulate General in HCM City on April 22.

It was reported at the event that the province exported 110 million USD worth of goods to India last year, mainly coffee, silk yarn, and bauxite-aluminium.

Cooperation, however, has yet to match potential and the strengths of both sides, a provincial official said.

Indian Ambassador to Vietnam Pranay Verma said that more than half of agricultural exports from Lam Dong have gone to India and expressed a hope that the two sides will become strategic, comprehensive partners in agriculture.

On this occasion, Lam Dong introduced several major projects, including a tomato processing plant in Don Duong district and the Ka Do industrial complex, as well as incentives for domestic and foreign agricultural processing firms.

Indian partners asked questions regarding solutions to ease the impact of climate change and greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural production, saying they want to import Vietnamese products such as garlic, honey, and fruit.

Meanwhile, Lam Dong said it wants to buy silkworm eggs from India.

Madan Mohan Sethi, Indian Consul General in HCM City, pledged that Indian State management agencies, organisations, and businesses will stand side-by-side with Lam Dong in agricultural production and consumption and share their experience with the province./.

Digital transformation a must for technical infrastructure sector

Digital transformation has become a critical need for technical infrastructure enterprises to survive in the fourth industrial revolution, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic, speakers said at a recent seminar in Ho Chi Minh City.

Nguyen Van Dang, director of the Gia Dinh Water Supply Joint-Stock Company under the Saigon Water Corporation (SAWACO), said that digital technologies improve administrative methods and production activities, helping to better serve customers.

The water supply sector, for example, uses GIS (Geographic Information System) technology for data sharing among units. This helps to reduce leakage and improve water supply management, with the goal of supplying clean water to all urban residents in Vietnam.

The GIS technology also uses virtual assistants to handle repetitive questions and collect data from customers. It provides information on mangrove forecasting to farmers via telephone, and analyses water levels to help scientists assess the water situation during different seasons of the year.

“To successfully implement digital transformation, enterprises must improve the quality of human resources, which will help productivity and thus enhance competitiveness,” Dang said.

“This success depends heavily on the determination of all participants involved, especially the leaders of the company,” he added.

Tran Quang Minh, general director of SAWACO, said that digital transformation has a far-reaching impact, especially in the water supply sector. It can reduce the time to install water metres, increase labour productivity, save costs, and better monitor the water quality at source.

Vo Thi Trung Trinh, deputy director of the city’s Department of Information and Communications, said that technical infrastructure businesses need access to preferential loans to implement digital transformation.

She said the city plans to provide professional training about digital transformation to businesses.

The city will also promote the use of shared databases to share data with industries and sectors related to technical infrastructure, such as electricity and water supply, to better serve customers.

HCM City has set a target by 2025 that the city’s digital economy will contribute about 25 percent of its GDP, she added.

A 2019 report by the US-based McKinsey Global Institute showed that in the construction industry, digital transformation could increase productivity by 14-15 percent and reduce costs by 4-6 percent.

Vietnam last year began its national digital transformation programme focused on “a digital government, digital economy and digital society”.

Under the programme by 2030, the country will adopt new technologies and models, completely overhaul the way the Government operates, update business operations, change the work style of citizens, and create a safe, secure and humane digital environment.

The digital economy is projected to produce 20 percent of the country’s GDP in the near future, with at least 10 percent of each economic sector part of the digital economy, while annual labor productivity will likely increase at least 7 percent.

Experts said the country is set to be among the top 50 countries in the information and communication technology development index within the next five years./.

Workshop discusses control of risks in tropical timber imports

Easing the associated risks in the importation of tropical timber would help Vietnam maintain its wood exports while expanding the market, a workshop on April 20 heard.

Do Xuan Lap, President of the Association of Vietnam Timber and Forest Products, said Vietnam imports tropical timber from Africa, certain South American countries, Laos, Cambodia, and Papua New Guinea.

Resolution No 102/2020-ND-CP on the legality of timber notes the high risk of such timber, as it is imported from areas where illegal deforestation is common, he said.

It therefore requires that importers present paperwork proving the timber’s legality as well as measures to ease the risks.

According to To Xuan Phuc from the Forest Trends organisation, reducing risks regarding the legality of imported tropical timber is significant for Vietnam’s wood industry.

The work must be done in both policy and reality, he said, stressing the need to tighten the management of the import of high-risk timber in line with the resolution, he said.

Dao Duy Tam from the General Department of Vietnam Customs said it will coordinate with relevant ministries and agencies to prevent trade fraud and facilitate the operation of businesses, especially forestry product exporters.

Lap said revenue from timber and wood products grew 20 percent in the first quarter of this year, adding that if the pace is maintained, the target of 14-14.5 billion USD in export value set by the Government for this year is achievable./.

Hanoi eyes 150,000 new firms in next five years

Hanoi sets a goal of having more 150,000 businesses between 2021 and 2025 as part of a recently-launched local emulation campaign.

The campaign, which aims to set the scene for the city’s enterprises to integrate internationally and develop over the next five years, will call for agencies and businesses in the city to encourage production, start-ups and innovation, and promote patriotism and corporate responsibility among them.

In March, Hanoi also announced its target of having 900 businesses in supporting industries this year, 300 eligible to join global production networks of multinational groups in Vietnam.

Last December, the capital city approved a small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) support project, which will offer assistance to local SMEs and help those converted from business households play a part in sectoral linkages and supply chains from 2021 – 2025.

The project sets for the local SMEs to create about 1.5 million new jobs and to make up more than 25 percent of Hanoi’s total exports, over 40 percent of the city’s Gross Regional Domestic Products (GRDP) and 30 percent of the local budget.

It is expected to benefit at least 500 SMEs in manufacturing and processing in the areas of information technology, electronics, mechanics, hi-tech, food and agricultural preservation and processing./.

Vietnam posts trade deficit of US$1.31 billion in first half of April

Vietnam’s imports during the first 15 days of April recorded a sharp increase, with the country racking up a trade deficit of up to US$1.31 billion, according to data revealed by the General Department of Vietnam Customs.

The department indicated that the nation had an import-export turnover of approximately US$27 billion, of which exports and imports reached US$12.65 billion and US$13.96 billion, respectively.

Throughout the reviewed period, the two groups of imported goods with a revenue of over US$2 billion consisted of computers, electronic products and components with US$2.82 billion, along with machinery, equipment, tools and spare parts with more than US$2 billion.

With regard to ongoing export activities, four categories of goods with a turnover of billions of US$, included computers, electronic products and components with US$1.84 billion, phones and accessories with US$1.82 billion, machinery, equipment, tools and spare parts with more than US$1.45 billion, along with textiles and garments with US$1.2 billion.

Since the beginning of the year to April 15, the country’s total export turnover recorded a surge of 26.8% to over US$90 trillion compared to the same period from last year, equivalent to an increase of US$19.23 billion, while imports soared 29.1% to US$89.5 billion on-year, equivalent to a rise of approximately US$20.2 billion.

Throughout the reviewed period, Vietnam’s total import-export turnover reached US$180.5 billion, with the country maintaining a trade surplus of roughly US$1.5 billion.

Over 100 Lao Cai firms support tourism stimulus campaign

More than 100 businesses in the northern mountainous province of Lao Cai have jointly participated in a tourism stimulation programme, aimed at attracting more visitors to the locality.

Under the recently-launched people’s committee-supported Beauty of Lao Cai programme, discounts of 10-70% will be offered for different tourism services in the province, including entrance tickets to tourism destinations, food and drink as well as accommodation services.  

All companies which join the campaign have pledged to apply the discount and ensure their product and service quality.

The programme will also include various activities for visitors such as a flower and brocade festival in Sapa, a Sapa cultural and tourism fair to be held in Hanoi, a carnival for tourism connection among Ninh Binh, Hue, Danang and Hoi An and spiritual tours to Thuong and Bao Ha temples.

According to Ha Van Thang, director of the provincial Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the province has tried to ensure safety for visitors amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic while providing good services. “The recent survey from the Vietnam Tourism Advisory Board indicated that Lao Cai now stands fourth among the 15 most attractive spots in Vietnam,” Thang said.

Last year, Lao Cai held two tourism stimulation campaigns in May and October, which helped to lure more travellers. This was among activities to help recover the local tourism sector after being hit by Covid-19.

The room occupancy rate at local hotels for the coming Reunification Day and May Day holidays has reached almost 100%.

Vietnam’s agriculture grows up thanks to EVFTA

The EU – Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) has provided the Vietnamese agricultural sector with favourable opportunities for promoting export growth, while also posing challenges in terms of the implementation of the agreement.

However, these challenges are also an important lever, helping the country’s agricultural sector be more mature in its integration process on the basis of promoting restructuring via improving product quality and deep processing towards an organic and modern agricultural system.

Promoting the processing industry

The EVFTA is the free trade agreement (FTA) with the highest level of commitments for Vietnam among all signed FTAs thus far, with more than 99% of import tariff lines between the two sides being eliminated across a 7-10-year roadmap. In particular, tax rates applied on many agricultural products that Vietnam has advantages in producing and exporting, such as rice, seafood, coffee and cocoa, will be cut immediately or in a short time.

Currently, the EU’s importation of agricultural, forestry and fishery products accounts for about 8.4% of the total. Therefore, Vietnam’s agro-forestry and aquatic products still have plenty of room for export growth in this market.

However, Europe prefers processed products, so in order to increase the quantity of goods as well as export turnover, the agricultural sector needs to focus on strongly developing the processing industry in the coming time. Specifically, Vietnam’s tropical fruit products are very welcome in Europe but the geographical distance makes it difficult to transport and preserve fresh produce.

Therefore, the development of post-harvest preservation and processing technologies is the “golden key” to help Vietnamese fruits penetrate the EU market, especially in the context of the tax rate of 85.6% of processed fruit and vegetable products from Vietnam to the EU having been reduced to 0% once EVFTA came into effect.

However, at present, Vietnam’s export of processed fruits and vegetables accounts for less than 19% of the total export value of vegetables and fruits, so if these products do not increase rapidly, it is likely the fruit and vegetable sector will miss out on a sizeable proportion of the tax advantages that EVFTA offers .

Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Dong Giao Food Export Joint Stock Company Dinh Cao Khue said that according to statistics, there are currently more than 150 fruit and vegetable processing establishments on an industrial scale with total capacity of more than 1 million tonnes of product per year, but the processed products sector is still small, accounting for only about 5-10%, while the average designed capacity utilisation rate is only 56.2%.

Meanwhile, processing plays a very important role in agriculture. In addition to meeting the tastes of European consumers, processed products, especially processed fruits, also have a long shelf life, thus avoiding losses where they cannot be exported. This was most clearly demonstrated during COVID-19 outbreak peaks, when fresh fruit exports were jammed, but processed products were still exported smoothly, even strongly welcomed due to the fear of using fresh goods by consumers globally.

Along with fruit, rice, seafood, pepper, cashews and wood also face high requirements for deep processing to increasing their output and export value to the EU market. In fact, the export of wood products could grow even more strongly if the processing industry reached a higher level of proficiency. However, at present, domestically planted wood material is still low, mainly serving the exploitation of young timber to make raw materials for paper, wood chips and pellets.

Meanwhile, the large timber material areas are mainly concentrated in the northern mountainous provinces and on the central coast, but these areas have very few processing enterprises, making the production of refined wood products very limited, not to mention most Vietnamese wood processing enterprises are small and medium in size, while the number of businesses with a design capacity of less than 500 m3 of log timber per year accounts for only 47%.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), most current agricultural products are still primary products with low added value, accounting for 70-85%, while processed products with high added value account for only 15-30%. In particular, processing technologies are still outdated, with the equipment innovation ratio of processing facilities at only 7% a year.

Therefore, the EVFTA with its high demands on deeply processed products has become a great driving force for domestic businesses to build sustainable raw material areas and innovate with processing technologies in order to diversify products in line with the needs of the European market. From which, they could form clusters linking production, preservation, processing and consumption of agricultural products together, in association with concentrated raw material areas in order to create products of equal quality, with traceability and assurance of all factors related to food safety, labour and the environment, according to the commitments in the EVFTA.

Boosting organic agriculture

Currently, the global market for organic agricultural products is about US$120 billion, half of which is in the European market. Europe is the largest consumer of organic products in the world, of which organic nuts, spices and fruits are the Vietnamese products currently favoured by the EU. According to the online offices of the Vietnam Trade Offices in Belgium, Luxemburg and the EU, in 2019, the EU imported 3.24 million tonnes of organic agricultural products, an increase of 0.4% as compared to 2018. Organic agricultural products account for about 2% of the total number of agricultural products imported to the EU, especially due to the fact that processed products still dominate and have a total value 15% higher than raw products. In particular, tropical fruits, nuts and spices were the organic products most imported into the EU in 2019, accounting for 27% of total organic imports (0.9 million tonnes).

Therefore, when the EVFTA came into effect, it opened the door for Vietnam’s organic agriculture sector, offering a “unique” opportunity for the rapid and strong development of organic agricultural products to best meet the product quality requirements of the EU market, while at the same time increasing competitiveness countries, especially in terms of rice, shrimp, fruits and spices. Organic agricultural products must meet many strict requirements but in return, their export value is very high. For example, for organic cinnamon spice, in the EU market, one tonne is priced US$1,000 higher than that of regular cinnamon.

According to general calculations, promoting organic agriculture would help Vietnamese agricultural products increase in value by 1.5-1.8 times as compared to conventional production. To realise that value, the Director of the MARD’s Crop Production Department Nguyen Nhu Cuong said that Vietnamese agriculture needs to make rapid changes from the traditional mode of production to standard-based farming, covering water and land sources and the use of agricultural materials, such as fertilisers and pesticides. The minds of managers, businesses and farmers also need to be thoroughly “refreshed”. Instead of chasing output, it is a must to prioritise quality and add value to agricultural products.

These changes can be realised, because at the end of June 2020, an organic agriculture development project for the 2020-2030 period was approved by the Government. Specifically, it sets targets such as by 2025, the area of agricultural land for organic production will reach 1.5-2% of the total area of agricultural land; the area of organic cultivated land will account for more than 1% of the total cultivated land focussed on key crops such as rice, vegetables of all kinds, fruit trees, tea, pepper, coffee, cashew and coconut; and the area of organic aquaculture will be about 0.5-1.5% of the total area of aquaculture. These goals are all geared towards the increasing demand for organic products from the EU as well as from other countries around the world.

MARD Deputy Minister Tran Thanh Nam also assessed that organic agriculture is a growing trend, one which will develop rapidly in the near future, so Vietnam must be determined to build its organic agriculture with a production level on par with advanced countries. Accordingly, Vietnam aims to promote the training of staff for the management, inspection and supervision of organic agricultural product certification organisations from ministerial to local level. In addition, training courses have been held for businesses, producers and traders of organic products to improve the quality of human resources in the field.

It can be seen that although the EVFTA has only been valid for a very short time, it has created new “waves” of positive change for the entire Vietnamese agricultural sector. Although there are still many difficulties and challenges ahead, with a willingness to overcome these obstacles, great expectations for the country’s agriculture originating from EVFTA can come true soon.

According to the MARD, in 2019, the country exported 150,000 tonnes of organic agricultural products to Europe. This is a relatively modest number compared with the market’s demand for more than 3 million tonnes of organic products per year, so there is significant room for the organic agricultural products of Vietnam to enter the EU market. The country has so far about 240,000 ha of organic farming space, with the participation of nearly 20,000 farmers across 46 provinces and cities. Besides these, there are about 160 enterprises producing and trading organic products with an annual export turnover of about US$335 million. Vietnamese organic agricultural products have been exported to 180 countries around the world, including selective markets such as the US, EU, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Russia and Singapore.

Companies face apparent laborer shortage

Currently, a lot of enterprises in the Southern Province of Binh Duong which are facing apparent worker shortage need to recruit hundred to thousands of workers, but hiring in a pandemic is not always as easy as it looks. Human resource staffs of many companies stand in front of the gate to invite workers to work for urgent orders. 

A 35 years old employee of HR department of a company in Dong An Industrial Park said that the company lacks more than 2,000 workers. If in the past, the recruitment was not easy, with strict requirements on qualifications and health whereas the company recruits those who are healthy without criminal record.

Additionally, company leaders proposed to offer a bonus of VND1 million encourage to workers who introduce their relatives to work in the company. New laborers will be supported travel expenses, accommodation, generous bonuses such as 13th month salary.

The situation is similar in Song Than Industrial Park in Di An City. In front of the gate of some companies, many laborers gathered to discuss and compare the salary, bonus, and nature of the job. A 37 years old woman from the Central Province of Nghe An said that she has applied to five companies but has not decided where to work because her basic salary is VND4 million (US$173.6 ) per month. Her total monthly salary including overtime payment is around VND 8 million not enough to cover family expenses and school fees for the children.

Meanwhile, a 48 years old man living in Tan Binh ward in Di An city wants to find a job with an income of more than VND10 million per month and close to his house as he has to pick up his children. He shared: “Previously, I worked as a worker in a textile and garment company with the salary of more than VND 10 million a month; however, because of the coronavirus pandemic, he was suspended from the company. I turned to work as a marble assistant, earning nearly VND15 million a month but the job is dangerous of exposure to dust at work”. Therefore, he wants to change jobs more stably and have enough income to support his family.

According to the Labor Confederation of Binh Duong province, businesses are currently recruiting more than 100,000 employees; mostly in the fields of wood, furniture, apparel, footwear. For instance, Yazaky Company (Di An City) needs to recruit 2,000 workers; Phu Dinh Furniture Company Limited in Dau Tieng District needs to recruit more than 500 people; Chi Hung Company recruits 1,000 people…

The group of enterprises that are strongly affected by the labor shortage after the Tet holiday and the prevention of the Covid-19 epidemic are wood production, garment, leather shoes. Typically in the processing and manufacturing of wooden furniture for export in Binh Duong, labor is in serious shortage.

The number of orders increased strongly. In 2020, orders have been up 15 percent compared to the plan, the first months of 2021 tend to increase due to the electronic transactions, while companies are bumping apparent worker shortage.

In the context of labor shortages and recruitment difficulties, some businesses have turned to long-term investments by buying automated manufacturing robots, such as Shyang Hung Chen, which specializes in manufacturing adidas shoes.

Ms. Nguyen Kim Loan, Chairman of the Labor Confederation of Binh Duong province, said that businesses in the province have been facing shortage of workers. Currently, many workers returning to their hometown to have stable jobs with more favorable conditions because they do not have to spend money to rent accommodation, travel; hence, it is difficult to recruit workers to work in Binh Duong. 

Long An sets its economic zone to drive southern region development 

As completed, it will be one of the world-scale economic zones in the category of Aqaba in Jordan, and Suzhou, Tianjin, Beijing and Qingdao in China.

Long An province is pondering the development of a super economic zone covering 32,000ha of land, one of the largest in the southern region, according to the latest proposal from the Long An Economic Zone Authority (LAEZA) at a recent conference held in Tan An City.

The EZ project was part of the province’s development plan for the 2021-30 period with a vision to 2050, which will be submitted to the relevant ministries and agencies and the government for consideration and approval, according to the LAEZA. 

With a strategic location and an abundant land fund, the project can connect with major localities such as Binh Duong, Dong Nai, Cantho, Vung Tau and Ho Chi Minh City, and  Phnom Penh in Cambodia. The project will become a link of a supply chain, especially in the hi-tech and agriculture industries. 

The EZ will focus on smart electronics, robotics and automation, advanced agriculture and biotechnology, biofuel, biochemistry and healthcare. 

Addressing the conference on April 19, Deputy Prime Minister Truong Hoa Binh said: “Long An needs to achieve a harmonious development of urban and agricultural areas. The provincial authority should define key industries for investment and focus on hi-tech, supporting industries and logistics services as well as enhance the technological application in agriculture.” 

“The province must continue improving its institutional reform, the business environment and promptly remove obstacles for local enterprises,” he added. 

The province will build the hi-tech economic zone in association with smart urban areas similar to those in South Korea to attract hi-tech projects, Nguyen Van Duoc, secretary of the Long An Party Committee, said. Besides, the province has signed ten memoranda of understanding on digital transformation and investment. 

The zone, which will include Can Giuoc District and part of Can Duoc District, will be developed based on some existing industrial and hi-tech parks such as Long Hau, Dong Nam A, Tan Kim and Tan Kim. 

The project is divided into seven functional areas, including two satellite residential areas in Can Giuoc and Can Duoc, an education, healthcare and sports complex, an auxiliary area, an industrial park-international seaport, a hi-tech agriculture and an eco-urban area. 

Residential areas are expected to cover about 15,000ha, while more than 5,800ha will be reserved for seaport and agricultural areas, over 7,800ha are planned for high-tech agriculture and the rest for traffic projects and water surface.

Source: VNA/VNS/VOV/VIR/SGT/Nhan Dan/Hanoitimes   



US-based SSA Marine partners with Gemadept to build $6.7-billion logistics centre

The US-based SSA Marine and Vietnam’s Gemadept are collaborating to build the Cai Mep Ha Logistics Center in Vietnam, which is expected to be worth $6.7 billion.



According to local media on September 12, the agreement focuses on the southern Vietnamese port region, particularly the construction of the Cai Mep Ha logistics center.

“The establishment of the Cai Mep Ha logistics center represents not only a leap for Vietnam but for global logistics,” an SSA Marine source stated. “The vision is grand, and the potential is limitless.”

When completed, the complex would span over 2,200 hectares and serve as Vietnam’s top logistics hub. The venture, located in the gorgeous surroundings of Phuoc Hoa district in Phu My town, has a dual-focused blueprint: a cutting-edge logistics center paired with the strategically positioned Cai Mep Ha downstream port.

SSA Marine, the largest US-owned and privately held container terminal operator and cargo handling company in the world, handles 35 million container TEUs per year at its marine and rail terminals and also operates cruise, auto- and Ro/Ro logistics, and IT Solutions.

With 73 years of existence, the firm operates over 250 ports throughout the US, Canada, Panama, Mexico, Chile, Costa Rica, Colombia, Asia, and New Zealand.

This modified plan, according to the province’s Department of Transport and consultants, increases the total area from 1,763ha to nearly 2,204ha. The core project space is approximately 1,687ha, including both the logistics center and the downstream port of Cai Mep Ha.

Moreover, the water surface area has been reduced to about 202ha. In addition, land initially reserved for clean energy storage will be repurposed for logistics and port functions.

The strategic planning adjustment aims to extend the port to handle 250,000-ton ships. Logistics and port operations will be redefined on the 198 ha of land, together with possible water surface areas.

Gemadept and SSA Marine are the leading investors, although seven others are interested. Geleximco, ITC, and Besix-Boskalis-Hateco, a Vietnam-EU collaboration, are said to be involved.

Upon completion, this hub will optimize import and export transportation costs across road, sea, rail, and air transit nodes. It aims to receive, store, process raw materials, package, label, and distribute commodities for adjacent industrial zones, notably the CM-TV port cluster, Vung Tau Port, and the southeast coastal port region.

Source: VIR


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Vietnam’s Hai Phong City attracts extra $1.4 billion in foreign investment



Several enterprises from South Korea and Japan were granted investment certificates on Friday to develop FDI projects at industrial parks in the northern port city of Hai Phong, with a total pledged capital reaching nearly US$1.4 billion.

The investment certificate handover ceremony was attended by Le Tien Chau, secretary of the municipal Party Committee.

The Hai Phong Economic Zone Management Board presented an investment certificate to Ecovane, a subsidiary of the South Korean chemicals maker SKC, to develop a hi-tech biodegradable material factory project worth $500 million.

Other key projects receiving the certificates at the event included a BW ready-built factory worth $60 million and a $40-million auto parts manufacturing plant by China’s CCTY Bearing Company.

Besides, Japan’s Kyocera Document Solutions Inc was approved to pour an additional $237.5 million into its machine and equipment manufacturing plant project, raising the project’s total investment to $425 million.

The municipal Economic Zone Management Board also finished the selection of investors for two social housing projects worth a combined $400 million, whose work is expected to begin this year.

Once completed, the social housing projects will offer more than 8,000 apartments to around 22,000 people, contributing to the city’s efforts to ensure social security and stable accommodations for low-income employees.

Hai Phong City in northern Vietnam attracted an additional US$1.4 billion of foreign capital in September 2023. Photo: Tien Thang / Tuoi Tre
Hai Phong City in northern Vietnam attracted an additional US$1.4 billion of foreign capital in September 2023. Photo: Tien Thang / Tuoi Tre

In the year to September 20, industrial parks and economic zones in Hai Phong had attracted roughly $3.1 billion of investment, reaching 120 percent of its 2023 target, said Le Trung Kien, head of the city’s Economic Zone Management Board.

Up to now, over 1,000 FDI projects worth a combined $28 billion have been developed in this northern port city, which granted investment certificates to 45 FDI projects with a total pledged capital of nearly $2.1 billion and 11 DDI (domestic direct investment) projects with a total cost of some $600 million last month.

The city’s Economic Zone Management Board previously had a working session with South Korea’s Chungbuk Free Economic Zone, which sought to cooperate with businesses active in Hai Phong as well as support them in technology transfers and human resources training.

The investment in semiconductor technology in Hai Phong is expected to advance further as SKC, the chemical unit of South Korea’s SK Group, inked a memorandum of understanding with Hai Phong to study the investment environment for advanced semiconductor materials, secondary batteries, and some other eco-friendly materials.

SK Group is the second-largest conglomerate in South Korea, just after Samsung, focusing on four main areas including energy and chemicals; telecommunications; semiconductors and other advanced materials; pharmaceuticals and logistics services, according to the Hai Phong Economic Zone Management Board.

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VinFast’s 5th electric vehicle costs under $30,000



VinFast’s 5th electric vehicle costs under $30,000

VinFast VF 6 is introduced in an even in Ho Chi Minh City on Sep. 29, 2023. Photo by VnExpress/Thanh Nhan

Vietnamese automaker VinFast has launched its fifth electric car, the VF 6 crossover in the small-car segment, with base prices starting at VND675 million ($27,800).

The Plus version, which offers a range of 399 kilometers compared to the base’s 381 kilometers, costs VND765 million.

The battery costs VND90 million for each version.

Any customer who does not buy the battery can lease it for VND1.8 million a month, with a maximum monthly distance of 1,500 kilometers.

Sales begin October 20 and deliveries will be scheduled for the end of this year.

The VF 6 is in the same price range as the Hyundai Creta (starting at VND640 million) and the Kia Seltos (from VND599 million).

The B-segment (European classification’s smallest-car category) is rife with competition in Vietnam thanks to offerings by Japanese, South Korean, German and Chinese brands all seeking a bigger share.


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