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VIETNAM BUSINESS NEWS JANUARY 21

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Two wind power plants to be built in Tien Giang province

VIETNAM BUSINESS NEWS JANUARY 21

The People’s Committee of the Mekong Delta province of Tien Giang on January 18 granted investment approval decisions to two wind power projects.

They are Tan Phu Dong 1 and Tan Phu Dong 2 wind power plants in Tan Phu Dong and Go Cong Dong districts.

Invested by Thanh Thanh Cong (TTC) Group, the 100-MW Tan Phu Dong 1 covering about 22 ha, will be built with a total investment of 4.46 trillion VND (193.88 million USD). It is projected to generate about 307.6 million kWh of electricity per year.

Meanwhile, the second 50MW plant spans 10.25 ha and will be built at a cost of 2.24 trillion VND, producing 153.8 million kWh of power per year.

Construction of the two plants is expected to begin later this month and they will come into operation by October 2021. The projects will run for 50 years.

Vice Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Tran Van Dung pledged that the provincial authorities will create optimal conditions for businesses investing in the province.

For his part, TTC Group Chairman Dang Van Thanh vowed that the projects will be carried out on schedule./.

Hai Phong targets at least 2.5 billion USD in FDI in 2021

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The northern port city of Hai Phong will make efforts to attract between 2.5 – 3 billion USD in foreign direct investment (FDI) in 2021.

Accordingly, the municipal authorities will focus on luring FDI to industrial and service projects using modern and environmentally friendly technologies.

To that end, attention will be paid to promoting management and technical infrastructure development of industrial parks and clusters in the next five years.

Adjustments will be made to the master plan for the construction of the Dinh Vu-Cat Hai Economic Zone, while more IPs will be established in accordance with the city’s action plan to attract investment to the three economic pillars of hi-tech industry, seaport-logistics, and tourism-commerce.

By December 31, 2020, these zones lured 400 FDI projects totaling nearly 16.25 billion USD./. 

Over 9,000 Mitsubishi cars recalled over fuel pump fault

The Mitsubishi Motors Vietnam Co. Ltd (MMV) on January 18 began recalling 9,066 units of Xpander and Outlander models to replace fuel pumps.

The recall covers 3,696 Mitsubishi Xpanders manufactured from August 21, 2019 to September 20, 2019, and 5,370 Mitsubishi Outlanders assembled between January 15, 2018 and July 21, 2019.

The carmaker said the fuel pump inside the gas tank may stop working, leading to inability to start the engine or shut-down of the engine.

It cited an investigation of Mitsubishi Motors Japan as finding that the inflated impeller inside of the pump might have caused it to touch the surrounding parts of the pump body and stop the pump from spinning, which can result in the engine inability to start or the engine stalling. For fuel pumps, the impellers are made of low molecular density plastic, so it is easily swollen under normal operating conditions.

MMV will conduct a replacement campaign with the new improved fuel pumps for Xpander and Outlander for free completely, including spare parts and replacement fee, at all of its authorised distributors nationwide from now to January 17, 2023.

It noted that all Mitsubishi Xpander cars sold from September 25, 2019 onwards and Mitsubishi Outlander assembled after July 21, 2019 have been equipped with improved fuel pumps.

Xpander and Outlander are currently the key models of Mitsubishi in the Vietnamese market.

In 2020, 16,844 Mitsubishi Xpander cars were sold, three times higher than its rival Toyota Innova with 5,423 units, according to the Vietnam Automobile Manufacturers’ Association.

However, MMV also conducted several recall programmes last year with 2,523 cars affected./.

HCM City needs thousands of seasonal workers during Tet

Ho Chi Minh City has rising demand for part-time and seasonal workers as the traditional Lunar New Year (Tet) Holiday approaches.

According to the city Youth Employment Service Centre (Yes Centre), there are a variety of seasonal jobs for workers and students such as cashiers, chef assistants, salesmen at supermarkets, security guards, shippers, and restaurants servants, among others.

Workers are hired for 25,000 – 50,000 VND (1.08-2.17 USD) per hour, or 6 million VND per month and other allowance during Tet.

The Yes Centre has worked with many businesses to provide more than 2,000 jobs for workers and youths in need, while the city Student Assistance Centre is offering over 3,000 jobs for students during Tet holiday.

Together with job centres, many local universities like HCM City University of Agriculture and Forestry, Banking University HCM City, and University of Natural Sciences are carrying out various programmes to offer seasonal jobs to students with difficult circumstances, helping them make some extra cash to cover tuition fees.

Experts warned that workers should be vigilant and study recruiters carefully to avoid being swindled by illegal middlemen./.

Long An expands organic dragon fruit cultivation

The Mekong Delta province of Long An is mapping out plans to expand cultivation of organic dragon fruit, primarily in Chau Thanh district, said Nguyen Chi Thien, Deputy Director of the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

He said the authorities in the district, the department and companies had piloted an organic dragon fruit model in Thanh Phu Long, Phu Ngai Tri and Duong Xuan Hoi communes that turned out to be highly efficient.

Nguyen Ngoc Tai, who cultivates 520 organic dragon fruit plants in Duong Xuan Hoi commune, said the model does not use chemicals and pesticides, and produces a high yield.

Sale of organic dragon fruit is guaranteed for prices 10 percent higher than the market price, he said.

Chau Thanh, which has the largest dragon fruit growing area in Long An, has more than 9,000ha of dragon fruit.

Nguyen Quoc Trịnh, Chairman of the Long An Dragon Fruit Association, said that localities should encourage farmers to expand the pilot models, which will help increase both yield and quality, and open up possibilities for exporting to demanding markets.

Long An, the country’s second-largest dragon fruit producer, after only the south-central province of Binh Thuan, has nearly 12,000ha of dragon fruit, including nearly 2,100ha planted with efficient irrigation facilities and other advanced techniques.

Efficient irrigation helps farmers save 50 – 80 percent on irrigation water compared to manual irrigation and 10 – 40 percent on fertiliser, reducing production costs by 2 – 4 million VND (86 – 172 USD) per hectare a month, according to the department.

Among other cooperatives that have received assistance, the Thanh Phu Long Agriculture Cooperative in Chau Thanh’s Thanh Phu Long commune last year received instruction in growing techniques under Vietnamese Good Agricultural Practices (VietGAP) from the Vietnam Cooperative Alliance. The alliance also helped them build a brand name for their dragon fruit and informed them of the importance of origin traceability.

After this, the cooperative signed contracts to supply dragon fruit to various supermarkets in HCM City.

Dragon fruit is one of Vietnam’s nine key crops that have competitive advantages in the world market. However, most dragon fruit farmers in the country have unstable incomes because they have not have secured outlets.

Dragon fruit is cultivated in 30 cities and provinces nationwide, with Binh Thuan, Long An and Tien Giang provinces, accounting for 93 percent of the country’s total dragon fruit growing areas.

Binh Thuan has 29,000ha of dragon fruit and Tien Giang has 8,000ha./.

BSR posts after-tax profit of over 1.25 trillion VND in Q4 2020

The Binh Son Refining and Petrochemical Joint Stock Company (BSR) posted over 1.25 trillion VND (54.14 million USD) in after-tax profit in the fourth quarter of 2020, up 1.08 trillion VND over the previous quarter, reflecting its better business performance.

According to its financial report for 2020, though it posted negative growth for the year as a whole, its indications in cash flow for payments and operations remained stable.

As of the end of 2020, its total property was worth 54.53 trillion VND, an increase of 2.31 trillion VND against 2019.

The company basically completed all of its targets in 2020. It operated the Dung Quat Oil Refinery in a safe and stable manner, with average operational capacity standing at 105 percent and total output at about 5.95 million tonnes, surpassing the target by 7 percent.

Total revenue hit more than 57.89 trillion VND last year, while State budget contributions totalled 6.24 trillion VND. It cut costs by about 1.8 trillion VND (excluding costs for crude oil).

The negative growth in revenue was due to COVID-19 as well as the slump in the oil price. It managed, however, to minimise its losses and keep negative growth at the lowest possible level.

According to the company, a number of drastic and flexible measures were applied to keep the Dung Quat Oil Refinery operating at optimal capacity.

Thanks to such efforts, though the refinery was closed for 51 days for maintenance, it still ensured supply to customers. From the third quarter of 2020, it began to turn a profit.

It expects to recover quickly in 2021 as the global oil price rises./.

Dak Lak promotes shipments via Amazon

Enhancing exports via Amazon, the world’s largest Internet retailer by revenue and market capitalisation, is an effective way to help staples of the Central Highlands province of Dak Lak reach out to the world in the context that COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc on global economy, according to insiders.

At a conference held in the locality on January 20, experts discussed measures to step up shipments via the e-commerce platform, and opportunities for Vietnamese firms to boost cross-border sale. Besides, they shared solutions to developing brands in the digital era while introducing several support services to businesses who want to sell products on Amazon.

Vice Chairman of the provincial Department of Industry and Trade Huynh Ngoc Duong said that selling products on Amazon will help local goods engage in global value chain, adding many training courses were held to better local firms’ understanding of e-commerce activities.

The department also worked with Alibaba and Amazon to pen suitable training for businesses to join the online retail sale system, he added.

Dak Lak province holds huge potential to ship several agricultural products abroad such as coffee, pepper, rubber, cashew, honey, and handicrafts. Local businesses have paid due attention to distributing their products on e-commerce platforms; however, most of them prefer traditional selling method.

From 2019, Amazon has opened up its platform for more than 100 Vietnamese firms.

Chairman and General Director of MCC Group Phan Thanh Dung said MCC and Amazon Vietnam are working together to help businesses across the nation sell their products on the e-commerce platform effectively.

Currently, 25-30 percent of the Vietnamese goods sold on Amazon are handcrafts and agricultural products, which have been favoured by foreign consumers, he said, stressing MCC Group pledges support for Vietnamese firms and those in Dak Lak province in particular to develop brands and open booths on Amazon until they can operate independently on the platform./.

Tourism recovery critical for Hanoi’s 2021 growth: Official

Hanoi’s tourism sector needs to quickly restructure or risk falling behind other localities and struggling to post growth, given the sector’s recovery will be a decisive factor in the capital’s overall growth this year, according to Politburo member and Secretary of the municipal Party Committee Vuong Dinh Hue.

Tourism revenue, meanwhile, increased by an annual average of 17.6 percent.

Due to COVID-19, the city welcomed just 1.11 million foreign arrivals and 7.54 million domestic visitors last year, respective falls of 84.2 percent and 65.6 percent against 2019. Revenue plummeted 73 percent.

Hue told a meeting on January 19 that tourism contributed 12.54 percent of Hanoi’s gross regional domestic product (GRDP) in 2019 but only 3.4 percent last year.

The local tourism sector incurred greater losses than the national average, he noted.

Calling for prompt action to restructure the sector in the face of COVID-19, the secretary asked it to determine restructuring orientations for 2021-2025 and build a recovery plan for this year that focuses on attracting visitors nationwide, including people in the city itself.

Once Hanoi is re-opened to international tourists, it will have improved tourism products, human resources, infrastructure, and professionalism, he said.

In particular, the official requested that the sector prioritise developing large-scale MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences, exhibitions) tourism, organise more cultural tourism events such as flower, food and “ao dai” festivals, and promote craft tourism.

He also pointed out the necessity of boosting the application of IT in the sector.

The capital targets attracting 13.16-19.04 million visitors this year, including 10.96-15.34 million domestic tourists (or 50-70 percent of the 2019 figure) and 2.2-3.7 million foreigners./.

2021 GDP growth may reach 6.72 percent in best-case scenario: Conference

Vietnam’s economic growth is projected at 6.17 percent in 2021 in a base-line scenario and may even reach 6.72 percent in the best-case scenario, heard a conference held in Hanoi on January 20.

Co-hosted by the UN Development Programme and the Ministry of Planning and Investment’s National Centre for Socio-economic Information and Forecasting (NCIF),  the “Vietnam’s Economy in the Medium Term 2021 – 2025: Recovery and Growth Accelerates” conference brought together a large number of economists, business leaders, and representatives of international organisations and business associations to discuss the outlook for Vietnam’s economy over the next five years and the actions needed to turn the expected rebound from COVID-19 into a sustainable economic recovery.

In his opening remarks, Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment Tran Quoc Phuong said the pandemic has presented both challenges and opportunities to Vietnam during the 2021-2025 period. 

There have been many emerging trends reshaping international financial flows, trade, and investment, he noted, adding that the pandemic has also triggered a shift in global supply chains, creating challenges and opportunities for any economic rebound in the long run.

It is especially significant for the country to take advantage of new opportunities to revive its economy this year and create breakthroughs over the next five years in order to meet the goals set by the Party and the State, he said.

UNDP Resident Representative in Vietnam Caitlin Wiesen said Vietnam was one of only a few countries in the world to post GDP growth in 2020, of 2.91 percent, and for the first time it was ranked by the UNDP as among the High Human Development Group, with growth of 46 percent in its Human Development Index (HDI) during the 1990-2019 period, one of the most rapid transitions to high human development in history.

She went on to say that Vietnam will launch a new five-year Socio-Economic Development Plan and ten-year Socio-Economic Development Strategy that will establish a broad vision for economic recovery in the short term, in the context of continuing global uncertainty.

The strategic policy choices Vietnam makes will define its ability to turn the COVID-19 rebound into a bold recovery in 2021 and beyond. Equally, it will determine the ability of the country to accelerate policies to achieve the medium-term aspirations of realizing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and attaining high-middle income country status by 2030, she added. 

Two scenarios for Vietnam’s economic growth this year were introduced at the conference. According to NCIF Deputy Director Dr Dang Duc Anh, the base-line scenario forecasts the economy to grow at about 6.17 percent and CPI to stand at 3.8 percent if the global economy rebounds and COVID-19 is gradually brought under control.

In the best-case scenario, GDP growth will reach 6.72 percent and CPI around 4.2 percent if the global economy recovers at a pace faster than expected./.

Measures sought to strengthen Vietnam’s economic autonomy

A workshop discussing measures to improve the effectiveness of the implementation of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement and enhance the autonomy of Vietnam’s economy in the context of international integration was held on January 20 in Hanoi.

The workshop, “Making RCEP work for economic well-being and autonomy in Vietnam: Required reform of trade and investment institutions”, was co-hosted by the Central Institute for Economic Management (CIEM) and the Australia Supports Economic Reform in Vietnam (Aus4Reform) programme.

It aims to assess trade and investment activities between Vietnam and other RCEP members, clarify institutional and structural issues that may affect the ability to take advantage of the opportunities, and address the challenges posed by the deal, thus proposing institutional reforms.

According to CIEM Director Dr Tran Thi Hong Minh, in addition to efforts to realise the “dual goal” of controlling COVID-19 and resolving the difficulties and challenges posed by the pandemic for business and production, Vietnam has continually integrated into the international economy and posted outstanding results.

The RCEP creates a large market of great potential for Vietnamese exports, analysts said, adding that the country’s imports can also benefit from the agreement.

Joining the deal also presents more opportunities for Vietnam to attract FDI from investment being shifted out of China due to the impact of the US-China trade and technology war, participants said.

They also underlined the importance of institutional reform in improving the national economy’s autonomy./.

Power transmission output up 2 percent in 2020

Vietnam’s electricity transmission output hit more than 203.8 billion kWh in 2020, fulfilling the plan set by Electricity of Vietnam (EVN) and representing a year-on-year increase of 2 percent, according to General Director of the Electricity of Vietnam National Power Transmission Corporation (EVNNPT) Pham Le Phu.

The company worked hard to safely operate the power transmission system without interruption, contributing to ensuring sufficient supply for the country’s socio-economic development, Phu told a recent conference to review the EVNNPT’s performance in 2020 and set out tasks for 2021.

It transmitted 910.5 billion kWh of electricity in the 2016-2020 period, Phu said, with yearly average growth standing at 9.7 percent.

He also touched on the difficulties facing the corporation in cutting power loss last year, saying that the loss in the transmission grid stood at 2.23 percent, up 0.08 percent compared to 2019.

Addressing the conference, Chairman of the Committee for Management of State Capital at Enterprises (CMSC) Nguyen Hoang Anh praised the EVNNPT’s achievements in 2020 and suggested that EVN direct and work closely with the corporation to ensure the stability and safety of power transmission and supply and continue with measures to cut power losses and incidents.

He underlined the need to speed up the implementation of key projects, especially renewable energy projects.

Participants urged the EVNNPT to further promote the application of modern technologies in detecting the risk of incidents and in promptly handling them when they occur, to ensure the safe and stable operation of transformers and transmission lines./.

FPT Software sets up first international production centre in Costa Rica

FPT Software said on January 20 that it had recently set up its first international production centre in Costa Rica, in the capital San Jose.

This is also its 52nd office in 25 countries and territories.

With advantages in geography and human resources, the centre is expected to play an important role in ensuring round-the-clock operations in service of US clients.

Together with a centre in Hyderabad, India, FPT Costa Rica will create a chain providing solutions in technological services to US clients.

FPT Software posted annual growth of nearly 12 percent last year in the US and signed a contract worth nearly 150 million USD with an automobile manufacturer.

CEO Pham Minh Tuan said FPT Costa Rica has set a goal of developing a staff of 1,000 in the next three years, laying an important foundation for FPT Software to boost production and become one of the top 50 information technology companies in Asia in the near future.

High-value contracts with demanding customers not only help FPT Software achieve growth but also enable its staff to become leading experts in both business and technology, he added./.

Quang Ninh eyes becoming dynamic sea-based economic hub

The northern province of Quang Ninh has outlined various solutions to expand its sea-based economy, with the focus sharpened on tourism, sea services, and coastal industries that are environmentally friendly, according to Deputy Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Cao Tuong Huy.

On the eve of the 13th National Party Congress, Huy told Vietnam News Agency reporters that the province, billed as a locomotive for the development of the Northern Key Economic Region, is turning itself into a strong sea-based economy.

With a vision of becoming an international tourism centre with uniform infrastructure, a kaleidoscope of high-quality tourism products, and a competitive edge over rivals in the region and the world, the province has invested heavily in tourism and trade facilities, developing eco-tourism in a sustainable manner, and forming high-end tourism sites in Ha Long, Van Don, Co To, Hai Ha Mong Cai, and Bai Tu Long.

The province will prioritise building Ha Long into a modern tourism city while developing Van Don-Co To into an international entertainment centre. It is also studying how to develop new tourism products such as yachting, water taxis, seaplanes, ballooning, and scuba diving.

Due attention will be paid to upgrading local fishing ports and anchorages, improving fisheries logistics in Co To and Van Don districts, and forming three fisheries centres in Co To, Van Don and Dam Ha, and two seafood trading centres in Ha Long city.

Quang Ninh province will also develop logistics into a high added-value sector in tandem with the trends in global trade.

Regarding coastal industries and new economic sectors, Huy, who is a delegate to the Congress, underlined that Quang Ninh gives top priority to environmentally-friendly industries such as hi-tech shipbuilding and encourages foreign investment in support industries for shipbuilding.

It will capitalise on the fourth Industrial Revolution to enhance the processing of exports, helping to create added value for products and save maritime resources.

Possessing advantages in maritime resources and biodiversity, the province is interested in developing sea-based economic sectors such as maritime pharmaceuticals and seaweed, and seagrass farming and processing, Huy added./.

Hanoi calls on foreign firms to invest in industrial zones

Politburo member and Secretary of Hanoi’s Party Committee Vuong Dinh Hue asked foreign hi-tech groups to consider investing in the city’s existing industrial zones, including the Hoa Lac Hi-Tech Park, while receiving representatives from FDI enterprises operating in the high technology industry on January 19.

Hue encouraged the Kinh Bac City Development Holding Corporation (KBC) to invest in industrial zones in Soc Son and Dong Anh districts to attract more foreign businesses.

He expressed his hope that major technology groups will set up search and development (R&D) and innovation centres in Hanoi in the way the Republic of Korea’s Samsung Group has done.

The official highlighted the fact that the capital city is home to 82 percent of universities, 65 percent of scientists and 80 percent of key scientific and technological research potential of the country.

At the working session, leading officials of Heesung Electronics, Goertek Technology, Mitac Computer and Luxshare ICT Vietnam showed their hope to expand production or shift the most important production lines to Hanoi.

KBC Chairman Dang Thanh Tam also said he wants to take advantage of the capital city’s ideal conditions for his investment projects, thus helping attract more FDI for the city.

General Director of Foxconn Vietnam Zhuo Xianhong said that the position near the airport and high-quality human resources are the advantages of Hanoi in developing hi-tech industries./.

Malaysia files WTO lawsuit against EU on palm-biofuel curbs

Malaysia has recently filed a complaint with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) over the European Union (EU)’s rules affecting the consumption of palm oil-based biofuels.

In the complaint, dated January 15, Malaysia charges that the EU, particularly its member states such as France and Lithuania, had imposed restrictive measures on the use of palm oil that violate international trade agreements.

Malaysia holds that the bloc and its members confer unfair benefits to EU domestic producers of certain biofuel feedstocks such as rapeseed oil and soy, and the biofuels produced therefrom at the expense of palm oil and oil palm crop-based biofuels from Malaysia.

The EU has embarked on a major plan committing its members to build a carbon neutral economy by 2050, including by promoting the use of biofuels. However, it has deemed that palm oil production is not sustainable and palm oil-based biofuels cannot be counted towards EU renewable targets.

Malaysia, the world’s second largest producer of palm oil, baulked at EU efforts to phase out the use of palm oil as a biofuel, and has requested consultations to help resolve the dispute./.

Power transmission output up 2 percent in 2020

Vietnam’s electricity transmission output hit more than 203.8 billion kWh in 2020, fulfilling the plan set by Electricity of Vietnam (EVN) and representing a year-on-year increase of 2 percent, according to General Director of the Electricity of Vietnam National Power Transmission Corporation (EVNNPT) Pham Le Phu.

The company worked hard to safely operate the power transmission system without interruption, contributing to ensuring sufficient supply for the country’s socio-economic development, Phu told a recent conference to review the EVNNPT’s performance in 2020 and set out tasks for 2021.

It transmitted 910.5 billion kWh of electricity in the 2016-2020 period, Phu said, with yearly average growth standing at 9.7 percent.

He also touched on the difficulties facing the corporation in cutting power loss last year, saying that the loss in the transmission grid stood at 2.23 percent, up 0.08 percent compared to 2019.

Addressing the conference, Chairman of the Committee for Management of State Capital at Enterprises (CMSC) Nguyen Hoang Anh praised the EVNNPT’s achievements in 2020 and suggested that EVN direct and work closely with the corporation to ensure the stability and safety of power transmission and supply and continue with measures to cut power losses and incidents.

He underlined the need to speed up the implementation of key projects, especially renewable energy projects.

Participants urged the EVNNPT to further promote the application of modern technologies in detecting the risk of incidents and in promptly handling them when they occur, to ensure the safe and stable operation of transformers and transmission lines./.

Thailand’s domestic car sales may fall 5.3 percent in 2021

Domestic car sales in Thailand may drop 5.3 percent this year, after a 21.4 percent slump last year, amid a recent outbreak of the coronavirus, the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) said on January 20.

Sales are targeted at 750,000 cars in 2021 after 792,146 vehicles sold last year, the FTI said.

Thailand is a regional vehicle production and export base for the world’s top carmakers.

Car production is expected at 1.5 million vehicles this year, half of which would be exported and the other half sold domestically. That compares to the 1.43 million produced last year.

Spokesman of the FTI’s automotive industry division Surapong Paisitpattanapong said the FTI is still worried about second of third coronavirus waves in some countries while Thailand has a second wave.

There is also a chips shortage, making some carmakers stop production temporarily. Therefore, car exports may not grow this year, he added.

Car exports plunged 30.19 percent last year.

The FTI’s Thai industries sentiment index fell in December for the first time in eight months due to concerns over the outbreak and the state of the Thai and global economies./.

Fruit, nut exports to demanding markets enjoy growth

Vietnam achieved considerable growth in fruit and nut exports to demanding markets despite a downward trend in the Chinese market, according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT).

The ministry reported that Vietnam’s fruit and nut exports in December 2020 alone recorded an increase of 3.3% to US$175 million in comparison to November, but a fall of 24.4% against December 2019.

Fruit and nuts are among the key farm produce for export, with their export value accounting for 67.5% of the country’s total exports of fruit and vegetables.  

However, China, Vietnam’s largest commodity consumer, lowered fruit and nut imports in 2020 after it enforced stricter regulations with regard to origin traceability, food hygiene, and safety due to COVID-19.

In contrast, fruit and nut exports to some markets such as Thailand, the United Arab Emirates, Australia, the Republic of Korea (RoK), Taiwan (China), and Japan, witnessed a sharp increase during the January-November 2020 period. Yet, the export proportion to these markets remains low compared to their import demand.

The sharp increase recorded in the export of fruit and nuts in high-end markets such as Japan, Australia, the RoK, and the EU has opened up prospects for the products to penetrate other markets globally, said the MoIT.

The MoIT has advised businesses to improve product quality, enhance origin traceability and diversify export markets as Vietnam has the chance to increase the export of various types of tropical fruit such as dragon fruit, mangoes, watermelons, bananas, longan, litchi and jackfruit.

Vietnam needs to develop vocational education and training in transition to Industry 4.0

The nation must strive to develop dedicated technical and vocational education and training (TVET) schemes to enable its transition to the fourth industrial revolution (4IR), with efforts being made to boost worker productivity and local competition, according to a new study by the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

Vietnam needs to develop dedicated technical and vocational education and training for its transition to the fourth industrial revolution.
Reaping the benefits of industry 4.0 in Vietnam examines domestic logistics and agro-processing industries which can be viewed as both important for growth, employment, international competitiveness, and 4IR.

The investigation finds that 4IR technologies can eliminate between a quarter and a third of jobs across these industries, although these losses would be more than offset by fresh labour demand which could ultimately lead to positive job gains in these sectors.

“While applications of 4IR technologies will help the country move up the value chain in products and services, Vietnam should consider new approaches to ensure inclusion and social protection for entry-level workers, especially those at risk of job displacement, and those who need upskilling,” said Andrew Jeffries, country director for Vietnam of ADB. “Adequate and timely investments in skills development can help the country not only to harness the potential of 4IR to increase productivity but also ensure that 4IR will benefit workers at large.”

Due to the severe impact of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) on supply and value chains, the country’s agro-processing industry will need to make adjustments to adapt to shifting consumer behaviour. While logistics are likely to witness a post-pandemic upswing due to the growth of e-commerce and the changing nature of retail, both agro-processing and logistics must embrace digital supply chains. Indeed, they must launch attractive new digital initiatives, with these factors meaning that the need to upskill and reskill local workers is even more urgent.

The study is part of a four-country report conducted on ASEAN member states, including Cambodia, Indonesia, and the Philippines.

While 68% of training institutions in the country reported feeling well-equipped for 4IR, this was a lower rate than Cambodia who recorded 73%, the Philippines with 81%, and Indonesia at 95%. In addition, there is also a mismatch in perceptions between training institutions and employers in terms of the readiness of graduates to work. Only 4% of domestic training institutions reported using online training platforms, while 18% reported using augmented reality and virtual reality tools for training purposes.

“As 4IR technologies spread rapidly, extensive investments in digital skills will improve the chances of the young and old to access higher-quality jobs and lower the risk of job losses,” said Shanti Jagannathan, principal education specialist of ADB. “Now is the time to rethink delivery of skills using virtual platforms and mobile technologies, and to develop agile training institutions with courses and credentials that match labor market needs.”

Moving forward, ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and Pacific region, while simultaneously sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Originally established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members, including 49 from the region.

Measures sought to strengthen Vietnam’s economic autonomy

A workshop discussing measures to improve the effectiveness of the implementation of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement and enhance the autonomy of Vietnam’s economy in the context of international integration was held in Hanoi on January 20.

The workshop, “Making RCEP work for economic well-being and autonomy in Vietnam: Required reform of trade and investment institutions”, was co-hosted by the Central Institute for Economic Management (CIEM) and the Australia Supports Economic Reform in Vietnam (Aus4Reform) programme.

It aims to assess trade and investment activities between Vietnam and other RCEP members, clarify institutional and structural issues that may affect the ability to take advantage of the opportunities, and address the challenges posed by the deal, thus proposing institutional reforms.

According to CIEM Director Dr Tran Thi Hong Minh, in addition to efforts to realise the “dual goal” of controlling COVID-19 and resolving the difficulties and challenges posed by the pandemic for business and production, Vietnam has continually integrated into the international economy and posted outstanding results.

The RCEP creates a large market of great potential for Vietnamese exports, analysts said, adding that the country’s imports can also benefit from the agreement.

Joining the deal also presents more opportunities for Vietnam to attract FDI from investment being shifted out of China due to the impact of the US-China trade and technology war, participants said.

They also underlined the importance of institutional reform in improving the national economy’s autonomy.

VN economy likely to enjoy long-term benefits despite COVID-19

Nikkei Asia, a global leading financial newspaper run by Japanese media giants Nikkei Inc., has recently hailed Vietnam’s success in economic development amid the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic.

According to the publisher, Vietnam has avoided a year of lockdowns, high death tolls, overwhelmed hospitals, and ongoing national arguments about the COVID-19 situation.

“The economy, bars and all, has stayed open, propelling it to one of 2020’s highest growth rates even while neighbouring countries wrestled with recession,” Nikkei Asia reports.

It adds that despite the decimation of health systems and economies globally, 2020 saw the country sign three trade deals with major foreign powers. In addition, it lured significant investors such as Apple, another airline was launched, and the nation rose to sixth in Southeast Asia in terms of per capita income.

“The contrast between life inside and outside Vietnam’s borders could hardly be starker. Outside, hospitals are deluged and families hole up indoors for the better part of a year. Inside, people share entrees, go to school, fly on weekly business trips, hit the gym, and cram into buses and elevators. The same dynamic is reflected in the economy,” Nikkei Asia adds.

“Recall that when the COVID-19 epidemic first emerged, the World Trade Organization and others forecast a plunge in global trade,” Don Lam, CEO of VinaCapital told Nikkei Asia, adding that some suggested, “Vietnam was among the countries at the greatest risk because exports play such an important role in its economic growth.”

“Instead, the opposite has come true. Vietnam’s openness to trade is playing a key part in its quick economic recovery,” he explained.

According to Nikkei Asia, with work-from-home shopping booming in the United States and Europe, local electronics and furniture exporters took advantage its rise in demand. Manufacturers moved to take orders from nearby countries where COVID-19 shutdowns had rendered rival factories idle.

The article also praises the performance of health services, whose successful performance has allowed the country to enjoy its biggest economic opportunity in decades. Last year Vietnam achieved an economic growth rate of 2.9%, emerging as one of few countries with positive growth. It aims to reach 6.5% in GDP growth in 2021.

Moreover, 2020 also saw the country sign three trade deals, including the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), and another deal with the United Kingdom.

Nikkei Asia believes that thanks to economic growth, Vietnam has reached a small milestone. Indeed, GDP per capita squeezed past that of the Philippines, according to October projections from the International Monetary Fund. In absolute terms, Vietnamese GDP overtook that of Singapore and Malaysia, making it the fourth-largest economy throughout Southeast Asia for the first time.

According to reports by the Japanese media outlet, the Communist Party’s economic tool of choice, the five-year plan, puts the technology sector at the centre of Vietnamese ambitions to become an upper-middle-income country by 2025. In an effort to meet this goal, Vietnam recorded a handful of high-profile investments last year, including Pegatron, a supplier for Apple and Samsung, and LG Electronics, which relies on the Vietnamese market for its vehicle and smartphone businesses.

The electronics sector already comprises the largest Vietnamese export category, although it is dominated by basic production and assembly. Vietnamese officials state that they will approve high-tech and eco-friendly investments with more added value moving forward.

Nikkei Asia also reports that Qualcomm, the world’s biggest supplier of phone chips, is a tech firm keen on relocating to Vietnam. In June it debuted a research and development centre in Hanoi, its largest in Southeast Asia outside of Singapore.

First batch of biomass wood pellets exported to Japan

Biomass Fuel Vietnam Co., Ltd hosted a ceremony on January 20 in the central province of Nghe An to mark the export of the first shipment of 8,500 tonnes of biomass wood pellets by ITOCHU Vietnam Co., Ltd to the Japanese market.

Takeshy Yaguchi, general director of ITOCHU Vietnam Co., Ltd, expressed his hope that the first export shipment of biomass wood pellets to the Japanese market will serve to satisfy customers in the Far East nation and help the local company to make further inroads in European countries.

The firm also aims to secure a leading position when exporting these products to Southeast Asia moving forward, Yaguchi added.

Tran Van Dat, director of Cua Lo Port, believes that being an international trading port located in the north-central region, the site can be considered a reliable address for businesses involved in import and export activities, stating that the port has pledged to serve firms in the most responsible manner possible.

The biomass wood pellets represent clean and environmentally-friendly products which are used as burning materials for industrial plants and thermal power plants.

These items are manufactured locally at the factory of Biomass Vietnam Co., Ltd. in the Vietnam Singapore Nghe An Industrial Park. 

The company was originally granted an investment certificate in 2018, with total investment of US$25 million. With modern production lines imported from Europe, the factory currently has an annual production capacity of 160,000 tonnes of products, with Biomass Fuel Vietnam Co, Ltd now being the largest producers of wood pallets nationwide.

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

Source: https://vietnamnet.vn/en/business/vietnam-business-news-january-21-707204.html

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Land brokers rush to Binh Phuoc although airport project still being mooted

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A piece of paper with an advertisement to sell land near the projected airport site in Binh Phuoc Province. Land brokers have rushed to Binh Phuoc’s Hon Quan District and inflated the land prices although the airport project remains on paper – PHOTO: TNO

HCMC – Although an airport project has only been proposed in Hon Quan District of Binh Phuoc Province and is still being considered by the competent agencies, a large number of land brokers have rushed to the district and inflated the prices of land lots in surrounding areas.

Over the last week, land brokers from HCMC, Hanoi and the neighboring localities of Binh Phuoc flocked to Hon Quan. Besides posting advertisements on social networks, they also took land buyers to visit the site proposed for the development of the airport, the local media reported.

They have advertised land lots measuring some 1,000 square meters each and put up them for sale at VND700-900 million each. They have also said that only a small number of people could buy the land.

According to the Hon Quan District government, the land price inflation and large gatherings of people are abnormal, posing a high risk of social disorder and Covid-19 infection.

The land price inflation may encourage local residents, especially the ethnic minority people, to sell agricultural land. Therefore, the competent agencies have been educating residents so that they are not tricked by land brokers who spread false information.

Due to the complicated situation, on February 26, the government of Hon Quan District asked the police and military forces to support communes in the district to handle large gatherings and those without face masks to prevent the Covid-19 infection, especially in the surrounding areas of the proposed airport site.

The authorities of communes and towns, especially Tan Loi and An Khuong communes, were asked to enhance the construction and land use management to promptly prevent illegal projects, the improper use of land and land violations and impose sanctions on violators.

The Binh Phuoc government had earlier proposed the Government and the Ministries of National Defense and Transport allow the province to manage the existing 100-hectare airport in the province to develop it into an airport that can be used for both civil and military purposes with an area of 400-500 hectares. The land for the airport expansion is public land and the expansion project was proposed to be executed under the public-private-partnership format.

Source: https://english.thesaigontimes.vn/80701/land-brokers-rush-to-binh-phuoc-although-airport-project-still-being-mooted.html

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UK investors eye renewable energy in Vietnam

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Investors from the UK were showing significant interest in investing in renewable energy projects in Vietnam, especially wind power, 

expecting the Vietnamese Government to introduce long-term support policies as well as simplification of procedures for project implementation.

UK investors eye renewable energy in Vietnam hinh anh 1

A wind farm in Binh Thuan province (Photo: VNA)

British Ambassador to Vietnam Gareth Ward said at the UK – Vietnam Renewable Energy Dialogue on Wednesday that clean energy was becoming a global trend, adding that every 1 investment USD in clean energy would help generate from 3-8 USD.

The Vietnamese Government in 2015 approved the renewable energy development strategy to 2030 with a vision to 2050 which aimed to increase the percentage of renewable power from 35 percent in 2015 to 38 percent in 2020 and 43 percent in 2050.

The Government also introduced incentive policies to encourage the development of wind power, biomass energy, energy from waste and solar power.

Hoang Tien Dung, Director of the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Electricity and Renewable Energy Authority, said developing renewable energy was important in the context that sources for hydropower were being exhausted, thermopower was limited due to commitments to global climate change and gas-fired power had high production costs.

According to the draft national power development planning for 2021-30 period with a vision to 2045, Vietnam had large potential for renewable energy development which was estimated to amount up to 855GW, mostly solar power (434GW), and wind power (375GW). The potential for off-shore wind power was estimated at 158GW.

Off-shore power was attracting increasing interest from foreign organisations and investors, Nguyen Ninh Hai, Head of the Renewable Energy Department under the Electricity and Renewable Energy Authority, said.

Hai said that as off-shore wind power was a new thing to Vietnam, the Ministry of Industry and Trade was cooperating with some research organisations to have a comprehensive evaluation about the off-shore wind power development potential in the country.

Bui Vinh Thang, Director of Mainstream Renewable Power Vietnam, said that the Government’s planning and policies played a very important role for renewable energy investors, especially in wind power and off-shore wind power.

Benjamin Dubas, a representative from Lightsource BP, said that renewable energy investors expected the transparency and stability of policies in the long term to invest in Vietnam, especially feed-in tariffs (FIT).

According to Dung, FIT pricing was applied to accelerate investment in renewable energy in the first stage in Vietnam but this mechanism would not be maintained for a long period and be replaced by competitive bidding when the technology development helped push down prices of solar and wind power.

He added that the national power development planning which was being completed would give priority to renewable energy on the basis of ensuring balance of power sources and the power transmission between regions.

The ministry expected to continue receiving support from the UK in renewable energy, especially off-shore wind power which the UK had experience in and Vietnam had large potential.

By the end of 2020, the total renewable energy output accounted for around 25 percent of the total output worth 69,000MW of the Vietnam’s power system. There were 148 solar power projects with a total capacity of more than 8,800MW, 100,000 rooftop solar power projects with a total capacity of 9,300MW, and 11 wind power projects with a total capacity of 511MW./.VNS

Source: https://vietnamnet.vn/en/business/uk-investors-eye-renewable-energy-in-vietnam-715833.html

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Mitsubishi pulls out of central Vietnam coal plant

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Mitsubishi pulls out of central Vietnam coal plant

The logo of Mitsubishi Corporation is displayed at the entrance of the company headquarters building in Tokyo, Japan, April 26, 2016. Photo by Reuters/Issei Kato.


Japan’s Mitsubishi Corp has decided to pull out of a coal-fired power plant in central Vietnam amid growing international concern about environmental impacts.

The Japanese trading house will pull out of the 2-gigawatt Vinh Tan 3 project, planned to be located in the southern province of Binh Thuan, because of climate change targets, Reuters reported, citing two anonymous sources.

Without mentioning Vinh Tan 3 specifically, Mitsubishi said in a statement that it was committed to reducing its investment in coal power in line with international climate goals.

The 2-gigawatt plant was originally scheduled to come online in 2024.

OneEnergy, a joint venture of Mitsubishi and Hong Kong’s CLP group, holds a 49 percent interest in the $2 billion project. State-owned utility Vietnam Electricity owns another 29 percent. Chinese companies are handling materials procurement, construction and equipment delivery.

This marks Mitsubishi’s first withdrawal from a coal plant project. The trading house has said it will not build any new facilities of this type after Vung Ang 2, a Nikkei report said.

Mitsubishi still has a stake in the Vung Ang 2 coal power plant being built in the central province of Ha Tinh, which is more widely known after being subject to critical scrutiny by environmental and other groups as well as investors.

Source: https://e.vnexpress.net/news/business/companies/mitsubishi-pulls-out-of-central-vietnam-coal-plant-4240625.html

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