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VIETNAM BUSINESS NEWS HEADLINES DECEMBER 17

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First Mekong Delta Economic Report debuts

The annual Mekong Delta Economic Report, the first of its kind, was announced during a ceremony in the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho on December 14.

It has been so far the most comprehensive report jointly made by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) and the Fulbright School of Public Policy and Management.

Speaking at the event, VCCI President, Vice Chairman of the Administrative Reform Council of the Prime Minister and head of the Steering Committee for Mekong Delta Economic Report Vu Tien Loc said Vietnam is the hardest hit by climate change and rising sea level, with the Mekong Delta suffering the most severe impacts nationwide and globally.

The Government issued a number of resolutions and policies to sustainably develop the Mekong Delta adaptive to climate change. However, the implementation remains limited due to the lack of orientations to regional development and a coordination mechanism to ensure joint work among regional localities.

With five chapters, the report focuses on an overview of the Vietnamese economy, 10-year development of the Mekong Delta economy, regional competitiveness based on analysis of natural conditions, infrastructure, human resources, local competitiveness, sectors of strength and regional potential in agriculture, processing industry, energy and logistics. It also mentions shortcomings and challenges to regional development, thereby issuing policy recommendations for the near future.

According to the report, the Mekong Delta’s contributions to the gross domestic product have fallen strongly over the past three decades because it only focuses on agriculture and rice production to ensure national food security instead of switching to sectors with higher productivity.

The region’s migration to Ho Chi Minh City and the southeast has also been alarming. Its immigration was the lowest nationwide with 4.9 percent during the 2009-2019 period while migration highest at 44.8 percent.

Its labour productivity remains low due to the shortage of foreign direct investment. Meanwhile, its urbanisation only rose slightly from 22.8 percent to 25.1 percent in a decade compared to the country’s rise to 34.4 percent from 29.6 percent.

The report also suggested replacing intensive farming systems with effective and eco-friendly farming models and changing the priority order of farming structure to seafood-fruit-rice from rice-seafood-fruit./.

Binh Duong eyes more Indian investments

VIETNAM BUSINESS NEWS HEADLINES DECEMBER 17

The southern province of Binh Duong wishes to attract more investments from India, heard an online conference on December 14.

The investment promotion conference was jointly held by the provincial People’s Committee and the Indian Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City.

According to Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Nguyen Hoang Thao, with 206 projects worth nearly 900 million USD, India now ranks 26th among the 129 countries and territories investing in Vietnam.

In Binh Duong alone, India has invested in 10 projects valued at 116 million USD, the official said, stressing that the province stands ready to facilitate the operation of Indian firms for the long term, particularly in renewable and high-tech, and pharmacy.

Indian Consul General in Ho Chi Minh City Madan Mohan Sethi said he hopes to help Indian enterprises invest in Binh Duong that has good infrastructure and favourable geographical location.

Vietnamese Ambassador to India Pham Sanh Chau lauded Binh Duong’s efforts in online investment promotion, saying the locality’s dynamic development has drawn great attention from Indian firms.

Participating businesses suggested local authorities attract Indian firms operating in pharmacy and yarn production to serve the footwear and leather sector in Vietnam.

Chairman Thao said Binh Duong always welcomes Indian investors and businesses, and the locality will organise trips for Indian firms to have a better look at the local investment climate after COVID-19./.

Vietnam – South America logistics trade forum held

The online Vietnam – South America logistics trade forum has been held to help the two countries’ firms expand business cooperation opportunities in the field.

Speaking at the event, deputy head of the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT)’s Vietnam Trade Promotion Agency Le Hoang Tai said South America is a promising market for Vietnam’s exports such as apparel, leather and footwear, handicraft, aquatic products and processed food. However, its export turnover remains limited.

Recently, both sides have met difficulties in trade due to COVID-19 pandemic. Moreover, far distance and limited transportation of goods also resulted in high logistics cost, making it hard for Vietnamese goods to compete with rivals.

Logistics firms also faced barriers related to language, cultural differences and access to market information, he said.

Vice General Secretary of the Vietnam Logistics Business Association Nguyen Tuong said Vietnam’s logistics sector is undergoing digital transformation to meet development demand following the pandemic.

He proposed enterprises meet together or via agents to learn about information related to the market and demand. Embassies should also hold trade promotion trips to support them.

CEO of the Empresas Taylor Company Matthew Taylor Pollmann suggested Vietnamese logistics firms join projects on technological transformation, adoption of artificial intelligence in logistics, or switch to green energy in Chile. 

Tai added that the MoIT is reviewing administrative procedures to create favourable conditions for export and logistics firms.

The ministry should also encourages logistics companies to invest in infrastructure and digitalise operations to improve competitiveness, he said./.

Durian farmers’ incomes rise after employing advanced techniques

Farmers in Cai Lay district, the largest durian producer in Tien Giang province, have raised their income by improving yield and quality with the use of advanced techniques.

The Mekong Delta district has about 9,000ha of durian with an annual output of more than 250,000 tonnes for domestic consumption and export, according to the province’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

More farmers in the district have planted durian under good agricultural practices (GAP) and have used automated irrigation and bio-products, as well as techniques to produce off-season durian.

Farmers have also been using quality durian seedlings. Durian trees normally begin to bear fruit after five years and increase their yield year by year.

The high-quality durian varieties Mong Thong and Ri 6 are the most commonly planted varieties in the district.

Nguyen Van Cua, who has a 3,500 sq.m Mong Thong durian orchard in Tam Binh commune, invested 30 million VND (1,300 USD) in an automatic spraying irrigation system that takes about 15 minutes to water plants.

Previously, it took him nearly one day to irrigate durian trees manually.

The use of advanced techniques has reduced production costs and increased yield, improving the lives of farmers, according to the department’s Agriculture Extension and Services Centre.

The use of an automatic system, for instance, saves 50 percent of irrigation water compared to manual irrigation and saves 90 percent of labour costs for irrigation. It has helped raise farmers’ incomes by 5 – 10 percent and solved the labourer shortage for crop irrigation in rural areas.

Farmers in the district have also been producing off-season durian with advanced techniques. Durian trees have one harvest a year in lunar May and June. With the techniques of producing off-season durian, farmers can have harvest in lunar September and October.

The price of off-season durian is three to four times higher than durian from the main harvest, according to farmers.

Local authorities have encouraged durian farmers to use VietGAP and GlobalGAP standards to ensure food safety, environmental protection and origin traceability.

Nguyen Van Lam, chairman of the Tam Binh commune People’s Committee, said the commune has 1,400ha of durian and is the district’s largest durian cultivation area.

The commune has two durian co-operative groups – Binh Hoa B and Binh Hoa A – which instruct farmers to grow durian under VietGAP and GlobalGAP standards.

The Binh Hoa B durian co-operative group has 21.1ha of durian that has been granted GlobalGAP certification.

Nguyen Van Nhu in Tam Binh’s Binh Hoa B commune has a 5,000-sq.m durian orchard and harvests about 10 tonnes of durian a year at an average price of 60,000 VND a kilogramme.

He earns a profit of 400 million VND (17,300 USD) after deducting all production costs for his 10-year-old durian orchard.

“I switched from growing rice to planting durian after seeing an opportunity to improve the life of my family,” he said.

The communes of Tam Binh, Long Trung, Long Tien, Ngu Hiep, Hoi Xuan and Cam Son in the district that specialise in growing durian have established agriculture service co-operatives to encourage farmers to work together and apply GAP standards.

The Ngu Hiep Durian Cooperative in Ngu Hiep commune has 15ha of durian planted under VietGAP standards and has built a 200 sq.m workshop for packing durian fruit.

The cooperative has also developed a value chain for durian production, and supplies about 400 tonnes of VietGAP-quality durian to the market a year.

To develop sustainable cultivation, district authorities plan to develop value chains for 3,000ha of durian in the district’s major durian growing communes.

Last year, the National Office of Intellectual Property granted a collective brand name “Sau riêng Cai Lay” for the district’s durian fruit.

Tien Giang province is the country’s largest fruit producer, with many speciality fruits like durian, mango, milk apple and longan./.

Hanoi active in stimulating tourism demand

A series of cultural and sporting events as well as tourism promotion programmes have been organised in Hanoi as part of the efforts by municipal authorities to attract holiday-makers to the capital, amid the difficulties posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Municipal authorities plan to organise a folk culture festival this month, which is expected to contribute to further promoting Hanoi’s image among more and more holiday-makers, especially Vietnamese travellers.

A ceremony to celebrate 10 years since Vietnam’s Giong Festival was named by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity took place in the capital on December 12.

The Vietnam International Travel Mart 2020 (VITM 2020) was held in November, offering a chance for travel agencies and localities to promote tourism products and services, and seek business partnerships.

The municipal Department of Tourism reported that the number of tourists visiting the capital surged over 29 percent in November, and they were mainly domestic.

The city also welcomed 21,000 foreign visitors, up 5 percent compared to the previous month, and this is a positive sign, creating momentum for the city to speed up its tourism recovery, it said

Local travel agencies have also focused on creating new tours to stimulate domestic tourism demand while also maintaining traditional tours. They have also adopted a wide range of measures to attract tourists./.

Rubber industry told to target sustainability

Sustainable latex production is important for Vietnam’s rubber industry, and the country should focus on getting rubber plantations to obtain certifications on sustainability, experts have said.

Vo Hoang An, Deputy Chairman and General Secretary of the Vietnam Rubber Association, said Vietnam produces around 1.1 million tonnes of natural rubber every year, with 60 percent coming from small farming households, and imports another half a million tonnes from Cambodia and Laos annually.

Vietnam is the third largest exporter of natural rubber in the world, with around 80 percent of its output exported and China being the biggest buyer.

The remaining 20 percent is used for making products such as tyres, shoe soles and sport equipment.

An said in recent years global demand has been shifting towards sustainable, environment-friendly rubber products. Products that are certified as sustainable could bring higher added value and enter more markets around the world, he added.

Nguyen Vinh Quang, a research associate at Forest Trends Vietnam (a non-profit focusing on conserving eco-systems) said most of the rubber collection occurs via traders who connect households with processing companies.

Most of the output is from small farming areas without certification for sustainability, which makes their added value limited. Sustainable rubber farming is still a relatively new idea for most households.

The Vietnam Rubber Association is working to develop a Vietnam rubber brand, provide guidelines for sustainable natural rubber production and ensure international cooperation and trade.

Dr To Xuan Phuc, senior analyst at Forest Trends in Australia, said there are many international standards for sustainability, several of which are easy to obtain for Vietnam’s rubber industry.

So strategies to develop the rubber industry sustainably should start with easier standards and ones that receive greater priority in global markets, and gradually move up to the harder ones, he said.

Both large companies and small farming households need to contribute to the industry’s sustainable development, he added.

Huynh Nhat Tan, deputy head of business division at the Lien Anh Rubber Company, said companies need to help rubber farmers understand the importance and benefits of complying with standards and help farmers with initial investment and by buying their produce.

Nearly one million hectares around the country are planted with rubber trees, and around 70 percent of them are available for tapping latex./.

Tuna exports to EU rise after FTA comes into being

Vietnamese tuna appears ideally placed to take advantage of the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA), with shipments rising 0.5 percent year-on-year to 126 million USD during January-November despite COVID-19.

According to the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), tuna exports to Italy, Germany, and Spain rose 60 percent, 20 percent, and 41 percent, respectively.

Exports to the EU are expected to increase handily in December as importers prepare for tuna batches for 2021 while taking advantage of tariff incentives under the FTA.

Under the agreement, which came into effect on August 1, the EU has eliminated tariffs on fresh and frozen Vietnamese tuna, with 11,500 tonnes of canned tuna and 500 tonnes of canned fish balls benefiting from the exemption annually.

The bloc also removes tariffs on frozen tenderloin and fillets under a three-year roadmap, and on steamed tenderloin and fillets under a seven-year roadmap.

With the tax breaks from the EVFTA, Vietnamese tuna products are able to gain a competitive edge over rivals from other exporters like Thailand and China.

However, VASEP Vice President Nguyen Thi Thu Sac said that local firms must obey the strict rules of the EU market, such as in illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, food safety, and food origin traceability.

The General Department of Vietnam Customs said nearly 600 million USD was earned from tuna exports in the eleven-month period. The US continued to be the largest importer, outlaying over 260 million USD, followed by the EU with more than 126 million USD.

Several markets posted a fall in tuna consumption, such as Egypt and the Middle East, since governments banned gatherings and ordered restaurants closed as part of COVID-19 prevention measures.

According to Nguyen Duy Hung, First Secretary and head of the trade office under the Vietnamese Embassy in Egypt, demand for tuna has surged in Egypt and the Middle East in recent years. Thailand is currently the largest tuna provider to Egypt. Though Vietnam is the second-largest exporter, it has a market share of just 5.6 percent.

Vietnam, he believes, holds substantial potential in shipping tuna to the north African nation because COVID-19 has driven many importing countries to diversify suppliers to avoid any dependence on a single source./.

Indonesia: 5G predicted to add over 8 billion USD to telecom revenue by 2030

The 5G services can help telecommunications operators in Indonesia increase their revenue by 35 percent, or 8.2 billion USD, by 2030, a recent study shows.

The November 2020 edition of the Ericsson Mobility Report said that telecommunications providers can gain the most benefits from offering business-to-business (B2B) 5G solutions for manufacturing firms, energy providers and utilities as well as media and entertainment companies.

Indonesia is seeking to accelerate its 5G spectrum allocations by properly allocating spectra that meet the demand for the 2,047-megahertz frequency spectrum necessary for both 4G and 5G by 2024. The country has also run at least 10 trials on the use of 5G between 2017 and 2019.

Ericsson Indonesia Network Solutions head Ronni Nurmal said during an online press briefing that in the 5G-enabled digital consumer services, revenue would be driven by enhanced video and high-definition music, which would make up 56 percent and 23 percent of total consumer-facing revenue, respectively.

Other potential segments include consumer internet of things (IoT) applications, cloud gaming, mobile games and live sport, he said.

Local telecom operators were ready to deploy 5G and the industry is waiting for the government to make the spectrum available to roll out the technology within the next one to two years, Ericsson Indonesia country head Jerry Soper said during the same event./.

Eleven-month seafood exports down 0.9 percent

Vietnam’s seafood export turnover in the first 11 months of 2020 hit 7.75 billion USD, down 0.9 percent from the same period last year, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD).

In November alone, the country raked in 800 million USD from exporting seafood, with 418.99 million USD from shrimp and 174.64 from Tra (pangasius) fish.

The US, Japan, mainland China and the Republic of Korea (RoK) were the major import markets of Vietnamese seafood products in the last 11 months, making up nearly 60 percent of total export value, the ministry said.

Vietnam also spent 1.59 billion USD on importing seafood during January-November, a year-on-year decrease of 1.4 percent.

Of the total imports, 14.4 percent came from India, 11.1 percent from Norway, and 9.2 percent from Japan./.

Hoa Phat posts surging imports from Australia

The Hoa Phat Group has reported some 700 million USD worth of imports from Australia this year, more than double the figure from last year and making the industrial manufacturer the largest Vietnamese client of the country.

More than half of the total import value, or 364 million USD, came from coal, compared to just 115 million USD in 2019.

The group’s purchases of iron ore leapt a whopping 19-times to 123 million USD in the first eleven months of the year.

Hoa Phat bought more coal and iron ore this year to serve production at its iron and steel integrated complexes in the northern province of Hai Duong and the central province of Quang Ngai’s Dung Quat Economic Zone.

Meanwhile, it annually purchases hundreds of thousands of cows from Australia, with its herd now accounting for 50 percent of all Australian-imported cows in Vietnam.

With such soaring import numbers, Hoa Phat is estimated to account for 17 percent of Australia’s total export value to Vietnam, compared to 7.4 percent in 2018 and 7.6 percent in 2019.

It is expected to outlay over 1 billion USD on goods from Australia next year, an annual increase of 40 percent./.

Eleven-month seafood exports down 0.9 percent

Vietnam’s seafood export turnover in the first 11 months of 2020 hit 7.75 billion USD, down 0.9 percent from the same period last year, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD).

In November alone, the country raked in 800 million USD from exporting seafood, with 418.99 million USD from shrimp and 174.64 from Tra (pangasius) fish.

The US, Japan, mainland China and the Republic of Korea (RoK) were the major import markets of Vietnamese seafood products in the last 11 months, making up nearly 60 percent of total export value, the ministry said.

Vietnam also spent 1.59 billion USD on importing seafood during January-November, a year-on-year decrease of 1.4 percent.

Of the total imports, 14.4 percent came from India, 11.1 percent from Norway, and 9.2 percent from Japan./.

VIETRADE launches trade portal to boost international trade procedures

The Viet Nam Trade Promotion Agency (VIETRADE) has recently launched the Info Viet-Trade Portal to facilitate international trade procedures in Viet Nam.

The Info Viet-Trade Portal at infovietrade.vn was established by VIETRADE with the technical support of the International Trade Centre (ITC) and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), and the funding support of the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA).

It is an online platform that provides a step-by-step description of import and export procedures and formalities in Viet Nam from the trader’s point of view. The portal fully ensures compliance of the Government of Viet Nam with Article 1.2 of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA).

Available in English and Vietnamese, the portal serves as one-stop-shop providing useful, clear, precise and up-to-date information on export and import procedures in Viet Nam in an easily accessible manner for business operators, thereby contributing to fulfilling enhanced transparency, predictability and certainty of trade information in Viet Nam for the benefit of policymakers, border regulatory agencies and the business community alike, said VIETRADE Director Vu Ba Phu at the launching ceremony held late last week in Ha Noi.

The Info Viet-Trade Portal, which will be maintained and regularly updated by VIETRADE to enhance the user experience, will bring public and private sector stakeholders one step closer, strengthening opportunities for trade-related public-private dialogue and collaboration to boost the conduciveness of the business environment in Viet Nam, Phu said. 

VN needs to improve coffee value and brand to dominate international market: conference

Global demand for coffee will continue to increase for the next 30 years, but Viet Nam should focus on improving the value of its coffee to raise its profile in the international market and become the number one power in coffee, according to industry experts.

Luong Van Tu, chairman of the Viet Nam Coffee and Cocoa Association (VICOFA), told the trade promotion and international investment conference held by his association last week, “Besides coffee beans, Viet Nam’s coffee exporters have also promoted the export of roasted and instant coffee in recent years.”

“Viet Nam has also promoted coffee consumption in the domestic market. The rapid increase in the number of coffee chains has boosted consumption to over 10 per cent of total coffee output.”

The industry has taken advantage of the free trade agreements the country has signed, including the EU-Viet Nam FTA and CPTPP, to boost exports to these large markets.

Le Hoang Diep Thao, VICOFA deputy chairwoman, CEO of coffee brand King Coffee, and co-owner of Trung Nguyen coffee, said, “Viet Nam is facing a rare opportunity to break through and become the number one power in coffee.

“If we increase the value of the Vietnamese coffee industry, we will have a chance of achieving two important things: help 10 per cent of coffee exports turn into high-value coffee product exports and increase coffee consumption in the local market from 1.68 kg/person (in 2019) to three kilogrammes (in 2023).”

“Only when there is enough internal strength and stability in the domestic market would Vietnamese coffee have the opportunity to be treated equally and respected and Vietnamese farmers and producers get the right prices,” she said.

She spoke about her company’s model to increase the value of Vietnamese coffee.

The conference organised both offline and online attracted over 62 local and foreign businesses who spoke about solutions to increase coffee consumption in their domestic markets, experiences in developing national brands and measures to promote coffee trade.

Xiong Xiangren, president of the Asian Coffee Association and CEO of Dehong Hogood Coffee Company Ltd, said this year China’s coffee consumption was 350,000 tonnes worth 250 billion RMB (US$38.2 billion), an increase of 30 per cent from last year.

“Last year China imported 110,000 tonnes of coffee from 84 countries, with imports from Viet Nam accounting for more than 30 per cent of [it].”

Viet Nam’s exports to China included coffee beans and roasted, instant and ready to drink coffee. ACA would work with VICOFA to promote the export of Vietnamese coffee, he said. 

US, Japan support Vietnam’s energy transitions through LNG utilization

The United States and Japan will assist Vietnam to develop its liquefied natural gas (LNG) power projects with the participation of businesses of the three countries in order to help the country realize its Power Development Plan 8.

The recent 2020 Trilateral Vietnam-U.S.-Japan Commercial Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Forum released a statement, emphasizing the importance of energy transitions through LNG utilization in Vietnam, according to the media release by the US Embassy in Hanoi.  

In the statement, the three countries acknowledged the importance of a realistic and pragmatic energy policy that utilizes all energy sources and all technologies for achieving both the goal of economic recovery and private sector-led growth following the COVID-19 pandemic, and the goal of reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

They upheld the essential role of LNG in improving energy supply security, reducing air pollution, and supporting the gradual transition towards a low carbon future in Vietnam. They valued the contributions LNG projects approved in the Power Development Plan 7 revised, as well as LNG power projects being considered for Vietnam’s Power Development Plan 8 (PDP8), will make towards the country’s energy transition

The three countries stated that the energy transition in Vietnam is focusing not only on shifting from fossil fuels to renewables, but also to affordable, reliable, flexible, and resilient cleaner energy options and technology that would also contribute towards a post-pandemic economic recovery.

To this end, the US and Japan agreed to support LNG to Power and LNG Terminal projects in Vietnam, in which companies of Japan, the US, and Vietnam participate and have access to the financial tools of Japan and the US.

They were committed to supporting capacity building for Vietnam, such as providing technical assistance on procurement and tender processes that promotes best practices, high standards, a culture of transparency.

Both countries agreed to assist Vietnam to realize the goals Vietnam has set in its PDP8. They will exchange information on the content and implementation of essential policies related to LNG, such as LNG procurement, supply diversification, market deregulation, and the promotion of open gas infrastructure, including LNG re-gasification terminals, underground gas storage, and pipelines.

They also agreed to hold joint meetings that enhance trilateral cooperation and reflect private sector consultation concerning private sector investment challenges and opportunities.

Green building trend severely undervalued in local real estate

With the runaway growth of urbanisation and the real estate sector in recent years, renovation and construction of green and energy-efficient buildings has become a key trend in Vietnam, even though the true concept of going green is still vague. 

Besides COVID-19, the second key word of the year is “green building” but many developers and consumers are still hazy on the concept. A “green” building is deemed one that, in its design, construction, and operation, reduces or eliminates negative impacts and can create positive impacts on the climate and natural environment. Green buildings preserve precious natural resources and improve quality of life.

However, in Vietnam the concept is sometimes confused with buildings covered with green trees only, sporting the usual image of a resort or an eco-urban area. Meanwhile, key features such as the efficient use of energy, water, and other resources, use of renewable energy, pollution, and waste reduction measures, and good air quality indoors are glossed over.

The Ministry of Construction, with support from the Global Environment Facility through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), has been promoting the 2016-2021 EECB project on improving energy efficiency in commercial and high-rise residential buildings.

“Green buildings and energy-efficient real estate projects have received a great deal of global attention in recent years and the latest moves from the government show that Vietnam is refusing to be left behind. People today pay attention to not only projects featuring fair value but also comfort, health, and environmental benefits. This motivates investors to integrate green elements and energy efficiency features into their projects,” said Vu Ngoc Anh, director of the Science-Technology and Environment Department of the MoC.

While Somerset – like many certified green buildings – is reporting gains from its eco-minded renovation, according to the International Finance Corporation (IFC), by the end of the third quarter of 2020, certified green buildings in Vietnam only numbered 155 – a sparse figure compared to other Southeast Asian countries.

In its recently updated Nationally Determined Contribution, the Vietnamese government has committed to reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emission by 9 per cent on its own (compared to the business as usual scenario) by 2030, which can be improved to 27 per cent with international support.

The government has also shown strong commitment by joining the Kyoto Protocol and more recently, the Paris Agreement. Accomplishing its targets under these schemes requires the enhancement of green and energy-efficient buildings.

Accordingly, after the Law on Economical and Efficient Use of Energy was issued a decade ago, the MoC issued the National Technical Regulation on Energy Efficiency Buildings No.09:2013/BXD, to be brought in line with modern-day realities in 2017.

These commitments were enshrined in several policies this year, including Resolution No.55-NQ/TW from February providing orientations for Vietnam’s National Energy Development Strategy towards 2030 and outlook to 2045; Resolution No.140/NQ-CP dated October that set the specific tasks for energy saving and efficiency in the construction sector, and the revised Law on Construction 2020; as well as the Vietnam Energy Efficiency Programme 2019-2030 and the Construction Materials Development Strategy 2021-2030 with a vision until 2050.

These pieces of legislation are expected to set the grounds for the development of green and energy efficient buildings.

“Although Vietnam is already implementing its green building goals through several programmes as well as by organising the annual Green Building Week, it needs to enhance the promotion of green and energy-efficient development,” said Sitara Syed, UNDP deputy resident representative in Vietnam, adding that local authorities of all levels should pay more attention to promoting green features and materials, as well as green buildings in general.

Co-organised by the MoC and the UNDP as well as supported by the IFC, German organisation GIZ, and other agencies and institutions, the Vietnam Green Building Week 2020 during December 9-12 provided a forum for local and international experts, policymakers, and entrepreneurs to exchange their opinions and experiences on key topics, including policy development, master planning, as well as the design and operation of green and energy efficient buildings.

Deputy Minister of Construction Le Quang Hung also stressed that over past years, with cooperation and support from international organisations such as the IFC, the United States Agency for International Development, the UNDP, and the Global Environment Fund, the MoC has organised many training courses to enhance green design and construction practices while conducting studies on criteria for green buildings and urban areas.

“We believe that the MoC’s policies, guidelines, and activities like the annual Vietnam Green Building Week, will help effectively raise awareness among stakeholders and promote green and energy-efficient projects,” said Hung.

Throughout activities like technical seminars, field trips to Viettel’s green building, policy dialogues, plenary sessions, as well as exhibitions of buildings, materials, equipment, and technologies, the events of the Green Building Week showcased the efforts and actions of Vietnam in the implementation of international commitments on climate change and green and sustainable development.

Specifically, during the Policy Dialogue among the Ministry of Construction, related ministries and other stakeholders – who have been making a great efforts to transform Vietnam into a greener, more environmentally-responsible construction market – shared specific and effective policy orientations to create momentum for the development of the green construction market across the country.

Luxury real estate dominates portfolio of super-rich

Real estate has been consistently placing high on the investment portfolio of the world’s super-rich. What about the super-rich in Vietnam?   
 
The establishment and development of the luxury real estate segment in Vietnam seems to always be associated with the fast-growing middle and upper classes. In recent years, this market is heating up thanks to the sharp increase of wealthy Vietnamese.

According to statistics by the UK’s leading real estate consultancy Knight Frank, in 2019, Vietnam had 25,727 millionaires, an increase of 12 per cent compared to 2018, with 458 super-rich people (those having assets worth more than $30 million), an increase of 7 per cent compared to 2018. This is considered the most promising target customer of luxury real estate projects.

The upper class in the region’s developed markets has a strong influence on the luxury property market not only within the territory, but also in many foreign markets such as the UK, Australia, and the US. In Vietnam, the same impact can be observed due to many indicators: the growth in the number of luxury real estate projects, construction density, the quantity and quality of amenities, and especially the selling price.

According to Batdongsan.com.vn’s real estate market report, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, in the second quarter of 2020, the level of interest among homebuyers in the high-end segment in the southern growth centre Ho Chi Minh City picked up 38 per cent, while this rate in the affordable segment was only 33 per cent.

Regarding selling prices, according to the Market Highlights report in the third quarter of this year by leading real estate consultancy firm CBRE, the average selling price of the whole market in 2020 is expected to increase by 5 per cent over the same period last year, in which the high-end and luxury segments are forecast to surge by around 3 per cent on-year. Geographically, the East Saigon area will continue to be the investment hot spot with many new projects.

The elite continue to hunt for luxury real estate projects

“I will tell you about the super-rich. They are different from me and you”, American writer F. Scott Fitzgerald once said. For the super-rich, luxury real estate has always been considered the embodiment of wealth, whether it is a 1,000-square-metre mansion in Beverly Hills or a super luxury penthouse in Hong Kong.

According to Knight Frank’s data, in the portfolio of the super-rich, real estate occupies the top spot with 27 per cent, followed by stocks (23 per cent), bonds (17 per cent), collectibles (5 per cent), gold and gemstones (3 per cent), and digital currency (1 per cent).

It is clear that real estate is also prioritised by the rich Vietnamese for their investment portfolios. According to the market report for the second quarter by JLL Vietnam, despite the pandemic, the demand for owning and investing in luxury real estate in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City is constantly increasing, while new supply of residential real estate in Ho Chi Minh City is scarce. This explains why luxury real estate prices are always on an increasing trend.

Non-bank lending an emerging solution

Non-deposit-taking lenders are becoming an optimal solution for smaller enterprises that cannot access bank loans, as well as a crucial factor to improve the supply chain in Vietnam. 

Jinchang Lai, principal operations officer at Financial Institutions Group (FIG) in Asia-Pacific, noted that non-deposit-taking lenders (NDTLs) should offer great potential to grow the leasing industry in Vietnam – and with an enabling environment, it can be further improved. “Personally, I know that there are private investors, both Vietnamese and foreign, who want to pour money into the leasing industry,” Lai said, adding that commercial NDTLs are currently missing from the Vietnamese market with the exception of a handful of financial leasing companies.

Non-deposit-taking finance companies are non-bank lending institutions that do not issue a prospectus or take deposits from the public. Funding for these institutions generally comes from wholesale financial markets or from parent companies.

According to a survey from Validus Vietnam, nearly 60 per cent of investors consider financing small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) as an attractive investment channel in the current challenging economic environment after the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition, 58.5 per cent of investors assume that fintech platforms are an attractive investment channel to finance SMEs. It is believed to become a new financial channel and will gradually replace the current financial models for such enterprises.

Vu Ngan Ha, business strategy director of Vina Digital Finance Platform Co., Ltd., a subsidiary of South Korea-based Mirae Asset Consulting, said that amid the pandemic, the company has financed up to 50 SMEs. And for each customer, the amount of loans can oscillate between VND2 billion ($87,000) and VND10 billion ($435,000).

“SMEs look for our company because there is not any requirement from face-to-face interaction or verifying financial reports. Additionally, we use an e-platform, which allows customers to use digital signatures instead of signing physical papers like banks to supply disbursement as quickly as possible,” she said.

Moreover, Vina Digital ensures fast evaluation and disbursement time. From the time customers place orders, the transactions will be disbursed within 24 hours. Ha confirmed that the fastest transaction was within three hours after the orders were taken.

There are many reasons why SMEs choose NDTLs like Vina Digital for loans. Ha explained that most enterprises choose the company because they do not have enough collateral and cannot access bank loans. However, the number of NDTLs such as Vina Digital accounts for a merely small portion in Vietnam.

Can Van Luc, chief economist and president of the Training and Research Institute at BIDV, claims that NDTLs play an important role in the finance supply chain. However, solutions are mainly provided by commercial traditional banks, as NDTLs such as finance companies have not yet entered the market.

Luc added that in Vietnam, supply chain finance is low at about $1 billion per annum, while the total trade revenue hit $527 billion in 2019. Therefore, counting particularly in the trade sector, funds for SMEs are still limited while the need for supply chain finance rises increasingly.

In the eighth conference of APEC’s Financial Infrastructure Development Network, Jonas Grunder, deputy head of Cooperation for the Embassy of Switzerland in Vietnam, stated that financial services are one of the more critical elements for improving the competitiveness of supply chains and boosting trade.

“However, the supply chain finance market in Vietnam is still at the nascent stage of development. Increasing access to supply chain finance solutions, subsequently, will help SMEs grow their businesses, expand into new markets, and drive Vietnam’s economy,” he explained.

Lai of FIG meanwhile highlighted that to facilitate NDTLs, governments generally should have good regulatory regimes that are relatively liberal and easy, so that investors can get licences.

Besides that, governments need to improve NDTLs as part of the full financial system so that SMEs can access funding, credit reporting services, or any other services that are necessary for financial institutions to function. “In some countries, SMEs can also access the interbank market so that they can borrow, because they do not take deposits,” he added.

Nowadays, Lai said, many international associations provide training services so people can more easily get training online. If investors can get licences, experience or knowledge are not big issues.

“In regards to funding, because there is no deposit, NDTLs need to get funding resources,” Lai added. “There are about a 1,000 sources of funding for NDTLs such as long-term financial providers, banks, shareholders, or a high network of individuals, and all these need to be allowed.”

Luc also suggested that the government should improve the Law on Credit Institutions, while it may also be necessary to accelerate the construction of legal corridors for new business models, and build databases for both individuals and businesses.

Platform on intangible cultural heritage information to debut
Monday, 2020-12-14 16:28:06
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Water puppetry is one of Vietnam’s intangible cultural heritages. (Illustrative photo) Font Size:     |  
NDO – ‘ichLinks’, a digital platform covering information on intangible cultural heritage (ICH) in the Asia-Pacific region, will make its debut in March 2021.
The ‘ichLinks’ project is being implemented by the International Information and Networking Centre for ICH in the Asia-Pacific region under the auspices of UNESCO (ICHCAP). The Vietnam National Institute of Culture and Art Studies is among the coordinating agencies in the implementation process.

‘ichLinks’ is a one-stop online platform where a wide range of ICH information and content shared by and with Asia-Pacific member states can be found. The platform name, ‘ichLinks,’ is a combination of the words ‘ich’ (intangible cultural heritage) and ‘links.’

Through the platform, researchers, practitioners, policymakers and other relevant people can easily search for and locate ICH-related information and content with the help of advanced digital technology. Besides this, they can also use that information and content to promote their cultural heritages and create opportunities to exploit ICHs for socio-economic development in many areas, such as tourism and cultural and creative industries.

After being activated, this online platform will also help organise the live cultural, tourism and creative events based on the ICH content provided through this platform in a broader fashion.

HCMC tourism mulls solutions to survive Covid-19 impact

The HCMC Department of Tourism has proposed numerous solutions for tourism growth in the city as it has seen a plunge in tourist arrivals triggered by the coronavirus pandemic, while the city is looking to earn a tourism revenue of US$12-14 billion in the next five years, double the 2019 figure.

Data from the municipal department indicated that international tourist arrivals to the city this year may reach over 1.3 million, an 84.8% year-on-year decline. The number of local visitors to the city could total 15 million, dipping by 54.2%.

As such, the city’s total tourism revenue this year is expected to amount to some VND84 trillion, down over VND56 trillion year-on-year.

Meanwhile, the city is working on increasing tourist arrivals by 8%-9% and earning an annual revenue of US$12-14 billion during the 2021-2025 period.

To fulfill the targets and overcome the challenges that the post-Covid-19 period with its reduced travel demand from international visitors might bring, Nguyen Thi Anh Hoa, director of the municipal Department of Tourism, said the tourism industry must enhance efforts to prevent the spread of Covid-19 while supporting affected firms.

Besides, the department will introduce a series of tourism promotion programs and restructure the market and human resources as well as build a digital platform.

As some preferential credit policies and support for workers active in the tourism sector have yet to produce results, the city’s tourism authorities will continue to propose some suitable policies.

Apart from this, the department is planning to adopt many other solutions including creating favorable conditions for tourism growth, supporting startups active in the tourism sector, aiding firms with building tourism brands and strengthening the link between firms.

In addition, the department will also call for investments in tourism, develop smart tourism, focus on forming a tourism database, set up a smart business ecosystem and come up with many experiences for tourists.

The department will prioritize three main groups of products—culture-history, cuisine and shopping—while developing four potential groups such as waterway tourism, Meeting, Incentive, Convention and Exhibition tourism, medical tourism and nighttime tourism activities.

A number of programs to boost the tourism cooperation between HCMC and 13 provinces and cities in the Mekong Delta region and other regions will continue to be launched.

Danang hosts webinar to attract Japanese tourists

Nearly 700 users registered to attend a webinar themed “Danang, the convergence of Central Vietnam’s heritages, a safe and fantastic destination in 2021” that took place on December 15.

The online event was first co-organized by the Danang Tourism Department and the Japan Association of Travel Agents (JATA), aimed at updating businesses in Japan about travel products and destination safety in Danang City and the region in general so they can soon come up with plans to bring tourists from Japan to Danang and vice versa.

Participants, businesspeople and authorities alike, agreed that Vietnam is managing the Covid-19 outbreak well. Thus, it could serve international flights again from Japan in the near future.

“Although Covid-19 has disrupted the tourism exchange between Vietnam and Japan, with the recent drastic direction of the two governments as well as stakeholders, I believe the tourism industry will bounce back, while flights from Danang to Japan’s localities will soon be resumed,” said Nguyen Xuan Binh, Deputy Director of Danang Tourism Department.

He highlighted that the Airport Council International had certified the “Airport Health Accreditation”, recognizing that the Danang International Airport meets high standards of health and safety and prevention of Covid-19 during its operation.

Moreover, currently, more than 70% of Danang’s tourism businesses are back doing business, signing commitments to ensure pandemic prevention with the tourism department.

Thus, according to Binh, this online event was a good opportunity to introduce the three central provinces of Vietnam –Quang Nam, Danang and Thua Thien Hue – to the Japanese community, especially travel agents, experts and partners of JATA.

“We want to emphasize the Danang Fantasticity brand to enhance destination awareness as well as focus on some products specialized for the Japanese market such as schooling travel, golf and MICE,” said Mai Thi Thanh Hai, Deputy Director of the Danang Tourism Promotion Center.

Presenting at the webinar, Yakabe Yoshinori, Chief Representative of the Consulate Office of Japan in Danang, said he has been in Vietnam for nearly six years, having lived in Hanoi, HCMC and Danang. “Generally speaking, I love Danang the most,” he said, adding, “From Danang, we can easily visit the Hoi An ancient town, the My Son holy land, the Hue ancient capital and the Phong Nha Ke Bang Nature Reserve.”

He also revealed that the construction of a Japanese nursing home in Danang City is being discussed. He hoped that many Japanese people would fall in love with Danang City once the pandemic ends and travel between Japan and Danang is resumed.

“Now is the time for cooperation promotion and preparation for tourism exchanges between the two countries,” said Vu Nam, Deputy Director of Tourism Market Department, Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, at the webinar. He believed that Vietnam would be the first destination chosen by Japanese tourists once the international travel market opens up again thanks to its effective control of the Covid-19 outbreak.

Nam also said that in 2019, Vietnam welcomed nearly one million Japanese tourists, up 15.2% against 2018, while Vietnamese tourists to Japan in 2019 reached nearly 500,000, up 17.4%. Had it not been for the Covid-19 pandemic, the travel exchange between the two countries would have reached two million in 2020, Nam said.

Reportedly, the webinar is part of the JOTC Destination Webinar Series organized by JATA in November and December 2020. The JOTC Destination Webinar Series attracted the participation of partners from 37 destinations and more than 23,600 users in the world.

Source: VNA/VNN/VNS/SGGP/VOV/NDO/Dtinews/SGT/VIR 

Source: https://vietnamnet.vn/en/business/vietnam-business-news-headlines-december-17-697565.html

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Pork price not expected to spike during Lunar New Year

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A consumer buys meat at a Hapro supermarket in Hà Nội. — VNA/ Photo Phương Anh

HÀ NỘI —Demand for pork rises in the run up to Lunar New Year (Tết), prices are expected to increase, but not rise to the levels seen last year.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development said out of 5.37 million tonnes of meat consumed during this period last year, 3.8 million tonnes were pork.

Pig production remains healthy, and across 16 provinces the reproduction rate has topped 100 per cent, with more than 27 million animals available.

However, Nguyễn Văn Trọng, deputy director of the Livestock Breeding General Department under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, said prices would rise as demand grows.

Currently, live pigs are priced at VNĐ83,000-85,000 (US$3.5) per kilo but Trọng said although prices would rise, they would not reach levels seen last year.

He also said there would not be any expected shortages of the meat, but they were stepping up measures to preventing illegal exports to China. 

According to the Department of Animal Health, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the country imported nearly 226,000 tonnes of pork last year, a year-on-year increase of 260 per cent.

The main import markets are from Russia, Poland, Brazil, Canada, the US, Germany and Spain.

This year, 600 tonnes of pork have been imported to supplement supplies for the Tết market.

More than half a million pigs were imported from Thailand for slaughter from mid-June last year to January 13 this year. —

Source: https://vietnamnews.vn/economy/860085/pork-price-not-expected-to-spike-during-lunar-new-year.html

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HCM City, southern provinces step up efforts against fake goods, contraband as Tết approaches

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Smuggling and trade fraud are on the rise ahead of Tết, which falls on February 12. —VNA/ Photo.

HCM CITY – Officers tasked with preventing fake goods, trade fraud and smuggling in HCM City and southern border provinces have been forced to work hard ahead of Tết (Lunar New Year), which falls on February 12 this year.

Last week the HCM City customs department discovered 14 steel containers that consignee V.V Steel Company described wrongly to evade tax.

The company, in Long An Province’s Đức Hòa District, made a declaration that would have allowed it to enjoy 0 per cent tax instead of the 10-15 per cent it had to pay, equivalent to VNĐ1 billion (US$43,000).

Now, besides the tax it will also have to pay a penalty of 20 per cent of the amount.

Smuggling and trade fraud are becoming increasingly sophisticated.

Trương Văn Ba, director of the HCM City Market Surveillance Department, said last year 25,538 violations had been discovered involving loss of tax revenues of VNĐ5.8 trillion.

Competent agencies filed charges in 113  cases.

According to Steering Committee 389 of HCM City, inspections had been reduced due to the Covid-19 pandemic but specifically target warehouses, yards and sites where large volumes of smuggled goods are likely to be concealed, improving the efficiency of prevention efforts.

According to the city police, local militia have been urged to look out for dubious activities and crack down on the trade in prohibited, smuggled and counterfeit goods.

Drugs, weapons, illegal firecrackers, unsafe and violent toys, and cigarettes are in the sights of officials.

The city border guard force, the Southern Border Guard Soldiers’ Department of Drug and Crime Prevention, naval squadron No 28 under the Việt Nam Border Defence Force, and border forces in Bà Rịa – Vũng Tàu and Tiền Giang provinces will look out for possible violations at estuaries, sea ports and sea borders .

The city is also calling on businesses and consumers to join hands in the fight against smuggling and trade fraud.

Cross-border smuggling

Border authorities in the Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta provinces of An Giang, Kiên Giang and Đồng Tháp are stepping up efforts to keep out smuggled goods, which usually increases during the year-end period.

The contraband is mostly cigarettes and sugar brought in through the Châu Đốc City border in An Giang Province.

Smugglers transport the goods from Cambodia in boats, motorbikes and trucks at night to evade officers, but if spotted are not averse to attacking them.

Kiên Giang Province’s Hà Tiên City also sees smuggling of goods from across the border, usually late at night.

Smugglers travel in groups and transport large quantities of contraband, mainly foreign-made cigarettes.

Authorities have discovered hundreds of cases of smuggling and confiscated tens of thousands of packs of cigarettes and other goods.

Fishing boats are used to illegally transport and sell oil and petrol at sea.

Hundreds of thousands of litres of oil of unknown origin have been seized by local agencies, who have also collected billions of đồng in fines.

The An Giang Province steering committee for anti-smuggling, trade fraud and fake goods said troops were patrolling border gates, trails and crossings to prevent smuggling. –

 

Source: https://vietnamnews.vn/economy/860098/hcm-city-southern-provinces-step-up-efforts-against-fake-goods-contraband-as-tet-approaches.html

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Ensuring information security for cloud computing a key national goal

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Cloud computing will be the main orientation of the country to focus on in the coming time. — Photo vicloud.vn

HÀ NỘI — The Ministry of Information and Communications has determined that the cloud computing platform is a key part of telecommunications infrastructure to focus on in the coming years.

The ministry has also defined cloud computing as the digital infrastructure for the development of a digital government, digital economy and digital society.

“This is one of the main orientations of the country to focus on in the coming time,” said Nguyễn Khắc Lịch, deputy director of the Authority of Information Security, Ministry of Information and Communications, to local technology website ictnews.vn.

It is forecast that the cloud computing market in Việt Nam will reach US$500 million by 2025 with a growth rate of about 30-40 per cent.

The COVID-19 pandemic has created a “push” to promote the development of the cloud computing market and the growth rate of the market hit 40 per cent last year.

Cloud computing is a relatively large “pie” for businesses to compete for and as for the nation, with the importance of new generation telecommunications infrastructure, digital infrastructure, and the ‘Make-in-Việt Nam’ policy, domestic businesses must master this infrastructure.

Lịch said that to develop Vietnamese cloud computing platforms in the right direction, Việt Nam was one of the few countries that have issued a set of technical criteria to evaluate and choose a cloud computing solution for e-government.

The set of technical criteria consists of 153 standards, including 84 technical criteria and 69 information security criteria.

“A cloud computing platform that meets these benchmarks is considered to be a modern and secure platform,” said Lịch.

Lê Hoài Nam, deputy director of Viettel IDC, said with cloud computing services, the market has grown quite rapidly in recent years.

As for Viettel, the growth rate was twice compared to normal from 60 to 80 per cent.

However, Nam said that the story of information security for cloud computing was not only important for Việt Nam but also the world.

This field in Việt Nam was still new, so people were still worried.

However, in addition to financial investment, there was a need for a system of technical staff because the technology was changing and all certificates required by customers are constantly updated. With large service providers such as VNPT and Viettel, the sustainability of service delivery infrastructure will be ensured, he added.

Tống Mạnh Cường, product manager of VNPT IT, said there were two issues, which were whether users paid to use safe services or not and the trust factor.

Enterprises believe that to stimulate demand for cloud computing services, the Government should have activities to promote digital transformation.

The Government, ministries and agencies besides enterprises, should boost non-business public units like the departments of information and communications to deploy public cloud technology.

Source: https://vietnamnews.vn/economy/860146/ensuring-information-security-for-cloud-computing-a-key-national-goal.html

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