Vietnam records 1.35 billion USD trade deficit in first half of June
Vietnam reported a trade deficit of 1.35 billion USD in the first half of June as exports reached only 12.3 billion USD – down nearly 2 billion USD compared to the latter half of May, the General Department of Customs has announced.
Among items posting the strongest turnover decline included computers, electronics and parts with 1.06 billion USD, down 800 million USD; machinery and equipment with 1.1 billion USD, down 260 million USD; and telephones and components with 1.96 billion USD, down 50 million USD.
Since the beginning of this year to mid-June, the nation’s trade value surpassed 288.6 billion USD. Of the sum, over 143.3 billion USD came from exports, up 30 percent year-on-year while the remainder of 145.3 billion USD was from imports, up 36 percent. That resulted in a trade deficit of 1.96 billion USD, the department said.
According to trade experts, the above-mentioned trade deficit was not a worrisome figure as enterprises ramped up their imports of input materials to meet their production demands.
Tran Thanh Hai, Deputy Director of the Import-Export Department under the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT), said at the MoIT’s regular press meeting for the second quarter last week that the import of production materials currently accounted for a high proportion, especially in garment and footwear sectors, thus pushing up the import value, affecting the trade balance.
The COVID-19 resurgence in late April had certain impacts on many production industries which had started to recover such as electronics and mobile phones. However, exporting enterprises which already had orders still had to import raw materials and accessories for production. Thus, an import increase should be considered a good sign rather than a cause for concern, Hai said.
According to the MoIT, exports are set to increase by about 21.7 percent by year-end compared to the year’s respective targets of 4-5 percent.
To this end, the ministry would continue to give priority to promoting trade connections between Vietnamese enterprises and foreign partners, and the introduction of made-in-Vietnam goods to domestic and international consumers.
Particularly, it would continue working to promote overseas shipments, diversify both export and import markets, optimise opportunities generated by free trade agreements, and remove barriers to enter new markets.
Last year, the country’s trade surplus hit a record high of 9.9 billion USD, the highest level seen in the past four years./.
MoIT asks for cooperation in anti-dumping investigation on imported steel products
The Trade Remedies Authority under the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) said that it had sent questionnaires on end-of-term review of anti-dumping measures against imported galvanized steel products originated from China and the Republic of Korea (RoK) to all foreign steel producers and exporters.
Earlier, on June 4, the MoIT decided to conduct the end-of-term review of anti-dumping measures against galvanized steel products imported from China and the RoK.
On March 30, 2017, the ministry issued a decision on the application of official anti-dumping measures on imported galvanized steel products in five years from April 14, 2017 to April 13, 2022.
According to the Law on Foreign Trade Management and Decree 10/2018/ND-CP, for the end-of-term review, the investigation authority will comprehensively assess the possibility of imported goods being dumped and the possibility that the domestic industry will suffer material injury or be threatened to material injury if anti-dumping measures are removed.
It will also consider the causal relationship between the possibility of dumping and the possibility of damage suffered by the domestic industry, as well as the necessity, rationality and socio-economic impacts of the continued application of anti-dumping measures.
The MoIT also stated that the review will serve as a basis for the investigation authority to collect information and evaluate domestic producers’ production and business activities, balance supply and demand, and monitor price movements of galvanized steel products in Vietnam, especially in the context that the steel market is experiencing strong fluctuations.
Therefore, it can make recommendations on whether to continue applying anti-dumping measures or adjust the level of application in accordance with the law and based on the information and practical data collected.
The authority advised all foreign producers and exporters to show full cooperation throughout the investigation process. It added that all information and data submitted by them will be kept confidential in line with the law.
The deadline for submitting the answers is 5pm on July 26, 2021 (Hanoi time)./.
Nearly 36 percent of public investment for agriculture disbursed in six months
The agricultural sector has disbursed about 3.52 trillion VND (152.98 million USD) of public investment in the first six months of 2021, completing 35.83 percent of its yearly target, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD).
The MARD has planned to roll out a number of measures to remove difficulties and speed up the disbursement of capital for programmes and projects, thus boosting production and preventing natural disasters.
Along with convening online meetings to seek ways to deal with problems in each project, the ministry has reviewed the plans for the implementation of particular projects for timely adjustments.
The ministry has made flexible capital amendments for projects to ensure their highest disbursement. In May alone, it issued two documents on the adjustment of capital worth 412 billion VND for projects using Government bonds and official direct assistance (ODA) loans.
It is likely to disburse 100 percent of the domestic capital allocated for 2021.
According to the MARD, this year, the sector is allocated over 9.8 trillion VND (425.91 million USD) of capital, including 2.84 trillion VND worth of ODA./.
Support required to grasp customs boon
A preferential customs treatment can help export processing enterprises make powerful savings each year, but only a few manufactures meet the criteria to enjoy these incentives.
In the first days of June, the General Department of Vietnam Customs (GDVC) decided to extend a preferential customs treatment afforded to authorised economic operators (AEOs) for three foreign-invested enterprises (FIEs) – Sonion Vietnam Co., Ltd., Pou Chen Vietnam Enterprise Ltd., and Vedan Vietnam Co., Ltd.
These are three of the slightly more than 70 businesses which have fully met the criteria for preferential customs treatment by Vietnamese authorities, according to the Post-Clearance Inspection Department of the GDVC, the unit implementing the Priority Enterprise Programme.
Jack Nguyen, partner at audit, accounting and consulting firm Mazars, told VIR that 70 is a relatively low number, considering that about 80,000 export-oriented processing enterprises are operating in Vietnam.
“Many of these enterprises want to be recognised as AEOs and the ideal number should be in the range of 10-15 per cent of all enterprises operating in Vietnam,” he said.
The Ministry of Finance has set six groups of conditions that companies must satisfy to apply for AEO treatment, including substantial export-import volumes, legal compliance, and more. Nguyen believed that it is in everyone’s interests that more FIEs are able to qualify for preferential customs treatment. “Customs authorities could guide FIEs on the procedures to qualify. Any sanctions applied to non-compliant FIEs should be done with the intent to help them achieve compliance rather than be an exercise in penalising them,” Nguyen said.
Of the roughly 70 businesses enjoying AEO status in Vietnam, there are 14 from Japan, including Panasonic, Canon, and Sumidenso. South Korea contributes 12 names, including Samsung, the country’s largest exporter. Others are FIEs from the United States, Taiwan, Italy, Denmark, and Russia with Vietsovpetro, a Vietnamese-Russian oil venture.
While most recognised foreign AEOs operate in the high-tech sector, many domestic enterprises are in the agricultural sector, especially the seafood segment.
As one of the first recognised AEOs in 2011, Samsung Electronics Vietnam Co., Ltd. (SEV) based at Yen Phong Industrial Park in the northern province of Bac Ninh reported substantial benefits from the programme. A representative of SEV told VIR said that previously, the company had to submit about 360-600 declarations each month, each taking an hour to prepare. Now, all export batches are exempt from physical inspection and goods are cleared immediately. Additionally, SEV does not have to pay tax before customs clearance. Instead, it is allowed to delay payments until the 10th day of the next month.
With contributions from the Priority Enterprise Programme, SEV’s export-import turnover increased from $13 billion in 2012 to nearly $18.5 billion in 2019.
Similarly, Datalogic Vietnam Co., Ltd., located in Saigon Hi-Tech Park in Ho Chi Minh City, has also shared great benefits since being accredited in 2014. “The incentives save Datalogic around $500,000 a year. It has also allowed the company an on-time delivery rate from 89 to 98 per cent,” the company reported.
New tax burden under Circular 40 finds resistance from e-commerce platforms
Various e-commerce platform operators are voicing concerns about the latest regulation putting the burden on reporting and paying tax for their individual vendors.
E-commerce platform operators have been added to the list of those responsible for declaring and paying tax on behalf of other individuals by Circular No.40/2021/TT-BTC, which will officially take effect from August 1.
As soon as it was officially released a few days ago, the Vietnam E-commerce Association, representing e-commerce platforms, advised against the circular, arguing that operators only provide a platform for vendors to conduct business, they do not pay vendors income directly. Therefore, requiring e-commerce companies to pay taxes on behalf of others would be inappropriate.
Echoing this, representatives of various e-commerce sites like Chotot and real estate platform Batdongsan.com also said that their websites’ role is to provide information on products being put up for sale or lease and are not directly involved in the transactions between sellers and customers.
Therefore, they cannot supervise the entire operations of sellers and do not have any information related to their actual revenue, bank account details, or tax numbers.
“We propose the tax authorities to reconsider requiring platforms which function only as intermediaries between buyers and sellers,” said a representative of a platform that does not offer a payment function.
The Big 4 e-commerce platforms including Tiki, Lazada, Sendo, and Shopee allow users to make payments through their platforms via diverse payment options including cash on delivery, credit card, or a partner e-wallet. So far, the four giants have not made public comments on the new tax rules.
Ta Thi Phuong Lan, deputy director of the General Department of Taxation’s Department on SMEs, Business Households, and Individuals, said that while they do not directly pay income to vendors, e-commerce platforms have direct visibility over their operations, putting them in position to pay tax on their behalf.
Ho Chi Minh City proposes 3-month delay for seaport fees
Ho Chi Minh City Department of Transport has proposed delaying the collection of seaport infrastructure fees for three months to help businesses weather the COVID-19 storm.
The department has just issued a document to business associations seeking comments on a draft amendment to the collection of seaport infrastructure fees in Ho Chi Minh City.
The city will start a pilot programme to collect seaport infrastructure fees on June 25 before official implementation begins on July 1. Due to the resurgence of COVID-19 in the city, several enterprises and business associations have proposed to delay the collection to support them during the tough time.
Ho Chi Minh City Department of Transport has drafted a dossier to amend and supplement Article 1.5 of Resolution No. 10/2020/NQ-HDND on the fee rates for the use of infrastructure works, service works, and public utilities in the port border area in Ho Chi Minh City.
Accordingly, the department has proposed to delay the collection for three months until October 1 instead of July 1 as scheduled. According to the report submitted to Ho Chi Minh City People’s Council, the 3-month timeline is based on the scenario that the COVID-19 pandemic can be basically controlled in July. Thus, there will be two months for businesses to recover from the pandemic.
Thus, foregoing an estimated VND723 billion ($31.43 million) in these three months, the department said that this is a “support for production and business enterprises as well as export-import enterprises to ensure the realisation of the dual goals of both drastically preventing the COVID-19 pandemic and promoting socioeconomic development”.
Before that, many businesses and business associations have sent requests to Ho Chi Minh City to consider delaying the fee collection time. In particular, the associations suggested reviewing the regulations on fees. Currently, the tax rate is being regulated differently for businesses that open declarations in and outside Ho Chi Minh City.
SJM Holdings wants to develop $6 billion casino complex in Quy Nhon
Binh Dinh People’s Committee is proposing the prime minister to assign the relevant ministries and authorities to support SJM Holdings Ltd. to develop a $6 billion resort and casino complex project in Quy Nhon city.
In a document submitted to the prime minister, Binh Dinh People’s Committee said that in July 2020, SJM Holdings expressed intentions to develop a resort, financial, and commercial complex in collaboration with a casino. The complex would involve the total investment capital of $6 billion and generate 3,000-4,000 jobs for local people.
The provincial leaders and representatives of the investors discussed solutions to survey the land and implementation plans. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the investors are not able to arrange trips to Vietnam to survey the investment location.
SJM Holdings wants to co-operate with a domestic enterprise to develop the project. Accordingly, the domestic partner would be in charge of completing the legal procedures and preparing the land plot for project implementation.
Binh Dinh People’s Committee introduced SJM Holdings to Hung Thinh Group, the investor of Hai Giang Merry Land Quy Nhon project for co-operation. Hai Giang Merry Land Quy Nhon covers an area of 656 hectares and has a total investment capital of VND3.42 trillion($148.7 million). It includes international-standard hotels, resorts, and a high-end amusement area.
South Korean group intends to develop three projects in Thua Thien-Hue
Korea Land & Housing Corporation (KLHC) has just released its final report on the projects in Chan May-Lang Co Economic Zone in the central province of Thua Thien-Hue.
The projects are divided into three phases. In the first phase, KLHC will implement the HuKo industrial park project covering an area of about 115 hectares with an investment of $34.5 million.
In the second phase, the group will develop a high-tech industrial park with an area of about 700ha. In the third phase, the group will build an urban area of about 1,000ha. The total area of the three projects is about 1,815ha.
In November 2019, Thua Thien-Hue signed an MoU with KLHC to invest and develop Chan May-Lang Co Economic Zone.
At virtual meetings, provincial leaders have urged businesses to accelerate research and survey plans. Businesses must regularly provide research and progress reports so the province can faciltate the implementation of the projects.
Previously, AEON Mall Vietnam Co., Ltd. and Thua Thien-Hue People’s Committee signed an MoU to outline the pathway for the opening of a shopping mall in the locality with the total investment capital reaching $160 million.
Nguyen Dai Vui, director of Thua Thien-Hue Department of Planning and Investment, said that the province is building a portfolio projects calling for investment in the 2021-2022 period. The province has adopted a project management software connecting the local authorities and businesses and helping investors track progress.
Vincom Retail to merge two real estate subsidiaries capitalised over $264 million
Vincom Retail JSC (HSX: VRE) has announced the merger of two wholly-owned subsidiaries in order to restructure the internal ownership of subsidiaries.
Specifically, Northern Vincom Retail LLC (VCRMB) will merge with Ha Thanh Real Estate Development and Investment Co., Ltd. (Ha Thanh).
After the merger, the charter capital of VCRMB is expected to increase to VND6.16 trillion ($267.83 million). VCRMB will inherit all assets, legal rights, and interests, as well as unpaid debts and other obligations of Ha Thanh.
On June 23, VRE will hold its 2021 annual shareholders’ general meeting. According to the published documents, the company’s Board of Directors will present to shareholders a plan for 2021 with net revenue of about VND9 trillion ($391.3 million), after-tax profit of about VND2.5 trillion ($108.7 million), increases of 8 and 5 per cent compared to 2020.
If the plan is approved, VRE will have completed 24.7 per cent of its revenue target for the first quarter and 31.2 per cent of its net after-tax profit target for 2021.
According to its latest financial statement, as of March 31, the company currently owns four subsidiaries. In addition to VCRMB and Ha Thanh, VRE also owns all shares in Vincom Retail Southern Co., Ltd., and holds 97 per cent of Suoi Hoa Urban Development and Investment JSC.
Regarding its first-quarter business results, VRE recorded a consolidated revenue of VND2.2 trillion ($95.65 million), up 32 per cent over the same period in 2020. Income from leasing property contributed VND1.7 trillion ($73.9 million) of this, up 18.2 per cent. Revenue from real estate transfer reached VND452 billion ($19.65 million), up 124.9 per cent, mainly from the handover of three large commercial townhouse projects, namely My Tho, Bac Lieu, and Uong Bi.
VRE stocks closed the June 18 session at VND32,500 ($1.41), down 1 per cent against the previous day.
Aquatic product exports increase by 26% in May
Aquatic product exports of Vietnam increased sharply over the same period last year, according to the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP).
Among seafood exports, molluscs increased the most. Specifically, the export value of squid and octopus products reached US$216 million, up 13%; while bivalve molluscs reached US$48 million, up 44%. Of the total seafood export value in the first five months of 2021, marine fish products account for 75%, tuna increased by 22%, and other fish increased 53%.
In the CPTPP market, Japan is the largest import market and also the largest single seafood importer of Vietnam, accounting for 20% of the total value of other seafood exports of Vietnam, reaching US$298 million. During the period, the export value to this market increased slightly at 1%.
According to VASEP, seafood exports from Vietnam to the US reached more than US$113 million. In the past three months, the expanded vaccination against COVID-19 and the economic stimulus package of the US Government have been the driving force for the recovery of seafood consumption demand, not only in the food service and restaurants and hotels, but also in the retail segment.
These factors are considered favourable conditions for Vietnamese seafood businesses to boost exports to this market. Exports of squid and octopus to the US is growing at a high rate. In May specifically, Vietnam’s octopus exports to the US rose at a “galloping” rate of 538% over the same period last year.
Vietnam to build mobile app to diagnose plant diseases
The Ministry of Agriculture and Development (MARD) is looking to build a mobile app that can identify plant pests through pictures taken out in the field and recommend control measures for farmers.
The MARD’s Department of Plant Protection and Viettel Solutions are working together so that the app can be released and piloted on rice paddies in some provinces in the next three months, firstly in An Giang in the Mekong Delta.
With this app, farmers only need to capture symptoms of the disease on their rice plants, then artificial intelligence will analyse the photos, compare them with the database and provide information on the pests.
This way, farmers can access scientific information instead of relying on their own experience or seeking advice from pesticide sellers.
After the experimental period, the two sides will make adjustments to the app so that its recognition will become more accurate. The app will be further enhanced to include other plants in the future.
The app among the digital transformation efforts in the area of plant protection, which will provide farmers with complete and accurate agricultural knowledge, thus helping them to quickly identify pests and apply the most effective solution for their fields.
Developing a growth scenario suitable for the new situation
The GDP growth target of 6.5% in 2021 is becoming more and more challenging as the fourth wave of COVID-19 has spread to many localities with complicated developments. The successful response, prevention and control of the Covid-19 epidemic is an important factor that will play a decisive role in macroeconomic stability and economic recovery in the last months of the year.Two waves of the COVID-19 epidemic have reduced the country’s GDP growth in the first six months of 2021 from 6.22% as planned for in the operating scenario to about 5.8%. According to the Ministry of Planning and (MPI), the target of 6.5% growth for the whole year has become extremely challenging as the prospect of economic growth in the last months of the year still facesmany risk factors. The remaining two quarters of the year must reach a growth rate of more than 7% in order to achieve the full-year growth target.
Assessing the impact of the fourth wave of the COVID-19 epidemic on the socio-economic situation, Dr. Can Van Luc and a research team from the Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam (BIDV) said that there will be a very strong impact on the economy in many aspects such as: supply chain, consumption, import and export, employment, bad debt, budget revenue. GDP growth will slow down, to about 5.5% – 5.8% in the second quarter and about 5% for the first six months.
In the last months of the year, growth will recover again, whole year growth is expected to reach 6.1% – 6.3%. According to Dr. Can Van Luc, this is a lower growth rate than expected, because this outbreak has had a direct impact on production areas such as Bac Giang and Bac Ninh, these two localities accounting for about 10% of industrial production and 15% of the total export revenue of the whole country.
Notably, the fourth outbreak of the epidemic is the most dangerous ever, requiring the Government’s executive response to soon adapt as many previous anti-epidemic experiences are no longer relevant. The strategy of epidemic prevention and control has been switched from defence to active attack, to avoid disrupting production and minimise the impact of the epidemic on socio-economic life.
According to Dr. Nguyen Duc Kien, Head of the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Group, the Government’s point of view is that each locality should base their approach on the actual situation to have solutions to successfully implement the “dual goals”, then study and assess all impacts to replicate this throughout the country. For example, in Bac Giang province, even in the peak days of the outbreak, it was not necessary to blockade the whole province.
Bac Giang’s lychee harvest fell at the same time as a strong outbreak, but the province proactively planned to respond by building safe lychee areas; vaccinating lychee growers and drivers to consumption points; proposed the Government to direct ministries, branches and localities to create a “green channel” so that lychees could be quickly approved at COVID-19 epidemic control checkpoints when all procedures for epidemic prevention and control were completed and opened multiple consumption channels on e-commerce platforms.
In addition, many important issues were also handled very quickly by the Government, for example, decisions on a mechanism to import vaccines or having an unscheduled meeting to grasp the situation and quickly issue Resolution 60/NQ-CP on the application of a specific mechanism on licensing the exploitation of minerals as building materials for the construction of north-south expressway project to promote public investment.
Issuing its comments on the evaluation of the results of the implementation of the socio-economic development plan and the state budget in the first six months of the year and the plan for the last six months of 2021 at itsrecent 57th session, the National Assembly Standing Committee suggested the Government take the initiative in formulating socio-economic development scenarios in the short and long term. At the same time, it is also necessary to re-evaluate major economic indicators and balances for the whole year, coordinating synchronously between fiscal and monetary policy, while maintainingmacroeconomic stability.
The National Assembly Standing Committee also proposed the Government conduct a comprehensive review and assessment of policies to support people affected by the COVID-19 epidemic in order to make appropriate forecasts and proposals with more effective support policies; timely remove difficulties, develop epidemic prevention and control scenarios in industrial parks and export processing zones; concentrate resources on the research and application of science and technology in disease prevention and control, speed up the implementation of the “vaccine strategy” and recommend strong enough solutions to attack, control and prevent COVID-19 in the coming time. In particular, there must be a solution with a specific roadmap regarding the plan to vaccinate the population against COVID-19 to ensure effective disease prevention and control, creating a premise for socio-economic development.
According to Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyen Chi Dung, in the last six months of the year, the Government will steadfastly implement the dual goals of fighting the epidemic while protecting people’s health and promoting socio-economic development; focus on maintaining macroeconomic stability, controlling inflation, ensuring the major balances of the economy; close coordination between fiscal policy, monetary policy and other macro policies; closely monitoring price movements to analyse, forecast and review growth scenarios, and promptly proposing solutions to control inflation. The government will utilise all its resources to provide free vaccinations to the entire population in order to achieve herd immunity.
Increasing cashless payments pose security risks to users
Although Vietnam is moving toward a cashless society, with many new methods of cashless payments being deployed widely, new technologies and applications come with their share of security risks to the users.
Data of the Payment Department of the State Bank of Vietnam showed that in the first quarter of 2021, 156.2 million transactions worth VND8,100 trillion were made via the Internet, increasing 55.9% in volume and 28.4% in value compared with the same period last year.
Besides, 395.05 million transactions worth VND4,600 trillion were made via mobile phones, surging 78% in volume and 103% in value year-on-year.
According to the Fintech and Digital Banking 2025 – Asia Pacific report by Backbase, mobile transactions are forecast to increase 400% in Vietnam by 2025, thanks to the booming digital economy.
The trend could be accelerated by the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, together with the Government’s policies that encourage digital transformation.
In March, the Government approved the pilot application of Mobile Money, a service that enables users to transfer and receive money as well as make payments for low-value goods and services through mobile accounts.
The pilot outcomes will be the basis for policymakers to draw and issue official regulations for the operation of mobile money services in Vietnam.
Together with e-wallets, credit cards and Internet banking, mobile money services are expected to make cashless payments more popular, even in rural and remote areas.
However, security risks come hand in hand with the surge in cashless payments. Many users have reported that they received malicious messages from cybercriminals disguised as banks in recent months.
The messages warned them of suspicious transactions related to their accounts and asked them to log into their accounts using a link provided in the message. Some users did so and lost their money.
According to Visa’s Consumer Payment Attitudes study in Vietnam, up to 51% of Vietnamese consumers worry about their phones being infiltrated with malwares and viruses and 41% are concerned about information exposure when third parties gain unauthorized access to their devices. These are barriers to an even greater adoption of digital payments that have to be addressed by innovations built around security.
In 2020, Kaspersky blocked more than 673,000 phishing attempts aimed at small and medium sized businesses in 2020.
Phishing is a social engineering technique used by cybercriminals to steal information from a user’s private computer, laptop or smartphone for stealing money or data.
“The increase in our reliance on e-wallets and mobile banking apps invites greater interest from cybercriminals who are almost always after our money and our confidential data. As a result, we see an increase in sophisticated smishing and phishing attempts targeted at mobile banking users,” said Yeo Siang Tiong, general manager for Southeast Asia at Kaspersky.
“We expect more of these incidents in the future, hence it is important to secure your devices and be aware of the risks online as we embrace a digital society,” he added.
Another Covid-19 field hospital in Bac Ninh disbanded
The Covid-19 Field Hospital No.3, which was earlier set up at the Thuan Thanh Medical Center in Bac Ninh Province, was disbanded yesterday afternoon, June 20, as the 300-bed hospital has fulfilled its task of providing medical treatment to coronavirus patients.
The local competent forces in Thuan Thanh District disinfected and cleaned the hospital, ensuring that the medical center can resume its original function and comply with anti-Covid-19 regulations. The district reported the highest number of cases and was among the biggest coronavirus hotspots in this northern province during the fourth coronavirus wave, reported VnExpress.
Earlier, the province set up four Covid-19 field hospitals at the Gia Binh District Medical Center, the Tien Du District Medical Center, the Thuan Thanh District Medical Center and the Bac Ninh Lung Hospital and the Bac Ninh Traditional Medicine and Rehabilitation Hospital. Among them, the one at the Gia Binh Medical Center was disbanded on June 14.
At present, the province has four medical facilities providing Covid-19 treatment, with over 1,000 beds.
Among the 658 active cases in the province, 14 were receiving intensive care treatment. Meanwhile, 843 others were declared free of the virus and discharged from the hospital.
Tan Yen fresh lychees hit shelves in Japan
Lychees grown in Tan Yen district, the northern province of Bac Giang have made their way to stores in Japan this year.
The first shipment of early-ripening lychee was sent to the East Asian country at a ceremony at the end of May. From May 24-26, around 20 tonnes were exported to Japan.
This is the second year that the local staple has been exported to this fastidious market, and the achievement is more special as it is attained during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Chairman of the Bac Giang provincial People’s Committee Le Anh Duong said local authorities have taken measures to ensure the quality, food safety and hygiene of the fruit.
Speaking at the ceremony, Phan The Tuan, vice chairman of the provincial People’s Committee said in the context of complicated changes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Bac Giang province has built strong lychee growing areas, especially in Tan Yen and Luc Ngan districts.
The province has prepared necessary conditions to ensure absolute safety in terms of health, security and order for businesses, traders, and drivers entering Bac Giang to purchase and consume lychee. The first shipment of lychees exported to Japan, a large market with very high quality standards, has shown the locality’s determination, seriousness and responsibility in the process of producing and consuming lychee, he added.
The authorities also actively worked with the Japanese Embassy in Vietnam to receive a Geographical Indication (GI) certificate for lychees grown in Luc Ngan district, making it the first Vietnamese product to obtain such certification from Japan.
Since the pandemic has seen complicated developments, particularly as Bac Giang is now one of the country’s hotspots, the provincial authorities have well prepared for lychees consumption this year.
Nguyen Viet Toan, Chairman of Tan Yen District People’s Committee, said: “In 2021, in the context of the COVID-19, the district will focus on protecting lychee areas from the pandemic such as persuading local residents to refrain from travelling out of the areas, setting up checkpoints to control people and vehicles entering the concentrated lychee area, and keeping close health monitoring of local farmers as well as seasonal labourers working in fruit harvesting and transport.”
This year, Bac Giang province has around 28,100 ha of lychees with an estimated output of more than 180,000 tonnes, an increase of 15,000 tonnes year-on-year. This includes 45,000 tonnes of early-ripening lychee harvested on an estimated area of 6,050 ha along with 135,000 tonnes of lychee from the main crop on an area of 22,050 ha.
“The Tan Yen early-ripening lychee has the best quality so far, ensuring food hygiene and safety and not affected by COVID-19,” he added.
The district cultivates lychee in an area of 1,329 hectares, 1,200 hectares of which are set aside for early-ripening lychee.
Many traders have come to survey and sign contract to purchase early-ripening lychees, he said, stressing each kilogramme is sold at 25,000 – 30,000 VND (1.09 – 1.3 USD), particularly the price is 55,000 VND per kilogramme for the Japanese market, and the prices are expected to increase in the coming time.
Last year, Bac Giang shipped 200 tonnes of thieu lychee to Japan.
A year after Japan first opened its market to Vietnamese lychees, the export and consumption of the fruit have been going smoothly despite COVID-19, Vietnam’s trade office in the Northeast Asian country said.
Vietnam began negotiating lychee exports to Japan in 2014. After five years, on December 15, 2019, Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries announced that Japan had officially opened its market to Vietnamese lychees but also requested that the fruit undergo a strict plant quarantine process prior to export.
In early June 2020, an agricultural expert from Japan was sent to Vietnam to monitor fruit packaging and sterilisation, completing the final step required by Japan for lychees to be shipped to the market.
Thieu lychees have been exported to 30 countries such as China and the EU, Russia, the US and Canada.
Lychee is the fourth kind of fruit from Vietnam that has successfully made inroad into the Japanese market, following dragon fruit, mango and banana./.
Vietnamese lychee becomes “hot item” in Australia
One kilo of Vietnamese fresh lychees was sold for 3,000 AUD (2,254 USD) at a special auction in Perth city of West Australia recently, which opened the Vietnamese Lychee Week held by the Vietnamese Trade Office in Australia.
The auctioned lychees are chosen from the first batch of 17 tonnes of fresh lychees in the crop of 2021 that has just arrived in Australia.
The auction, took place in MCQ supermarket on June 16, drew a large number of visitors who lauded the outstanding quality of Vietnamese lychee this year.
Head of the Vietnamese Trade Office in Australia Nguyen Phu Hoa said that along with the high quality, this year, importers and distributors have paid great attention to packaging.
The auction aimed to affirm the value of Vietnamese lychee and support the promotion of the trademark, he said, adding that all the money from lychee selling at the event will be sent home to support children in the lychee-growing regions.
Prior to the harvesting season at home, the office had implemented the trademark-building programme to promote consumption of Vietnamese lychee in the largest market in the Oceania.
In the Vietnamese Lychee Week, it has conducted a series of activities to advertise the Vietnamese lychee trademark.
This year is expected to be a good year for Vietnamese lychee in Australia. The leading importer of Vietnamese farm produce in Australia, 4wayfresh, said that this week, an additional batch of lychees will arrive in West Australia as part of its plan to import 100 tonnes of lychees in this crop. In other states such as Victoria and South Australia, importers are importing fresh lychees from Vietnam to meet the market demand.
Vietnamese lychee has been favoured by Australian consumers since the product was first sold in the country in 2015. Last year, 80 tonnes of the product was sold in the market.
Ly Hoang Duy, Director of 4wayfresh, said that Vietnamese lychee has outstanding taste and quality thanks to improved storage and transport technology. The majority of consumers in Australia agree that this is the best of its kind in the market.
This year, Australian importers plan to import 300-500 tonnes of Vietnamese lychee./
Rattan, bamboo, sedge exports surge by 76.8% over five months
Vietnam’s rattan, bamboo, sedge, and carpet exports recorded a surge of 76.8% to reach US$356.47 million against the same period from last year, according to the General Department of Vietnam Customs.
May alone saw the country rake in US$80 million from shipping these products abroad, an increase of 1% compared to April and a huge annual rise of 113.7%.
During five months, the export of these products to the European Union rose 57.6% to US$68.73 million on-year, of which carpet exports to the demanding market saw a sharp increase with turnover reaching US$23.13 million, an annual rise of 133.6%.
Meanwhile, Vietnam also grossed US$111.62 million from exporting similar products to the US, up 111.0% compared to last year’s corresponding period. Carpet exports to the US alone reached a total of US$58.90 million, climbing 119.7% from last year’s corresponding period.
According to statistics compiled by the US International Trade Commission, import demand from the US for carpet products increased continuously throughout the 2010 to 2018 period, with India, Turkey, and China being the three major suppliers of the product to the market.
Despite high demand for carpet imports coming from the US, market shares of the product from Vietnam remained low, rising from 0.02% in 2018 to 3.11% last year.
According to industry experts, there remains bright prospects ahead for exporting Vietnamese handicrafts to the US market in the time ahead, particularly as American consumers are seeking to switch to importing handicrafts from other markets, with a view of looking torwards Vietnam as opposed to China.
Source: VNA/VNS/VOV/VIR/SGT/Nhan Dan/Hanoitimes
Market maintains rally with strong inflow of foreign investment
HÀ NỘI — The market continued to rise on Thursday, boosted by gains in material stocks and interest from foreign investors as they net bought more than VNĐ1 trillion on two main exchanges.
The VN-Index on the Hồ Chí Minh Stock Exchange (HoSE) settled higher yesterday, up 10.81 points, or 0.81 per cent, to 1,345.55 points. The index struggled in the morning trade as strong selling pressure caused the index to fall in the early session, but surging demand helped halt losses and push the index to recover.
The market breadth was positive with 262 stocks increasing, while 116 fell. However, the liquidity was lower than the previous session as 635.5 million shares were traded on the southern market, worth over VNĐ19.32 trillion (US$840.5 million).
The gain was mainly driven by large-cap stocks in material, real estate and banking sectors.
The 30 biggest stocks tracker VN30-Index posted a rise of 0.97 per cent to close yesterday at 1,486.46 points. Twenty of 30 biggest stocks in the VN30 basket climbed while eight stocks fell and two ended flat.
Hoà Phát Group (HPG) and Việt Nam Rubber Group JSC (GVR) were the two biggest influencers on the market’s trend yesterday, with gains of 2.74 per cent and 4.19 per cent, respectively.
Vinhomes JSC (VHM), Vietcombank (VCB) and VPBank (VPB) also support the benchmark, up in a range of 0.91 – 2.15 per cent.
Other stocks, mostly in the banking sector, also recorded good performance. There stocks were Techcombank (TCB), Mobile World Investment Corporation (MWG), Asia Commercial Joint Stock Bank (ACB) and MBBank (MBB).
On Hà Nội Stock Exchange (HNX), the HNX-Index settled higher yesterday, up 1.7 per cent to 325.46 points.
Investors poured nearly VNĐ3.9 trillion into the northern bourse, equivalent to a trading volume of 154.2 million shares.
Meanwhile, foreign investors were net buyers on both exchanges with a total value of over VNĐ1.14 trillion. Of which, they net bought a value of VNĐ1.1 trillion on HoSE and a value of VNĐ19.32 billion on HNX.
In its recent report, VNDirect Securities Corporation was more cautious on the complexity of the COVID-19 outbreak and said that the prevention measures might make it difficult to build another rally in the short-term.
“The VN-Index had plunged 13.7 per cent from the peak due to concerns about negative impacts on the macro-economy and business activities,” the securities firm said.
“The average liquidity in July also decreased by 12.8 per cent compared to the previous month.”
However, the inflows of foreign investment were a positive signal, VNDirect added. Last month, foreign investors net bought a value of nearly VNĐ4.6 trillion on the market, boosted by inflows from exchange traded funds (ETFs), especially Fubon FTSE Vietnam ETF. —
Analysts praise VIB’s business strategies at meeting for Q2 business results
HÀ NỘI — The Vietnam International Bank (VIB) organised an online meeting with the participation of more than 180 representatives from large funds, securities companies, independent analysts and the press.
The online meeting discussed three main topics, including VIB’s strong business results in the first half of 2021, key business strategies that have helped VIB become the top retail bank in Việt Nam and digital banking – the future of retail business.
During the event, VIB representatives reported on the bank’s business results in the first half of 2021 while sharing the strategy of maintaining high and sustainable growth momentum that the bank has ensured for many years and its support for customers and the community amid complicated developments of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since the pandemic hit Việt Nam, VIB has offered many reductions in lending interest rates for corporate and individual customers to help them overcome this difficult time.
The bank has restructured debt for more than 3,000 customers under the Circular 01 and 03 issued by the State Bank of Việt Nam, VIB Chief Financial Officer Hoàng Linh said at the event.
It has also slashed lending rates by between 0.5 and 2 per cent for nearly 10,000 clients affected by the pandemic, he said.
Recently, VIB continued to reduce lending interest rates for individual and corporate customers with an average interest rate reduction of 1.5 per cent from July 15, focusing on customers severely impacted by the pandemic, Linh added.
Thanks to VIB’s timely and effective assistance, the outstanding balance of the restructured loans was paid in full and on time by most customers, helping the bank’s total loan balance decrease.
Meanwhile, VIB has also continued to expand its Net Interest Margin (NIM) by promoting the development of the retail segment and optimising funding costs.
A report from the bank showed that the NIM trend in the last six quarters had improved significantly due to the reduction in Cost of fund (COF). VIB’s COF decreased from 5.4 per cent in the first quarter (Q1) of 2020 to 3.8 per cent in the second quarter (Q2) of 2021. Meanwhile, NIM increased from 3.9 per cent in Q1/2020 to 4.6 per cent in Q2/2021.
Linh said the bank has actively optimised the funding cost by promoting the growth of Current Account Savings account (CASA) while increasing low-cost funding sources on the international market.
Recently, the bank signed a syndicated loan worth US$260 million over three years with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and a number of international financial institutions.
“VIB is also implementing a plan to digitise all CASA and deposit products to further grow this capital source,” Linh said.
As of June 30, VIB’s total assets reached over VNĐ277 trillion; its credit balance was over VNĐ185 trillion, 8.1 per cent higher than the beginning of the year, while deposits from customers increased over 12 per cent year-on-year.
VIB’s NPL ratio decreased to 1.3 per cent. With strict risk management, the bank has maintained its risk indicators and prudential ratio. Capital adequacy ratio (CAR) according to Basel II was recorded at 10.3 per cent, the loan-to-deposit ratio stood at 73.1 per cent.
Effective retail business strategy
With its effective retail business strategy, VIB’s outstanding retail balance experienced positive growth at 14.2 per cent in the first six months of this year, accounting for nearly 90 per cent of total outstanding credit balance amid the pandemic.
The retail portfolio has also helped VIB reduce concentration risks and better adapt in the current volatile market environment. It is also one of the banks that has the highest retail credit portfolio in the country.
In her speech at the event, Trần Thu Hương, Head of Strategy and Head of Retail Banking, outlined mortgage loans such as real estate, automobiles, credit cards, and insurance as VIB’s market-leading business segments.
After five years of transformation, VIB was among the Top 4 joint-stock commercial banks in terms of retail loan balance by the end of 2020 and this position may change in 2021, Hương said, adding that the retail segment accounted for 70 per cent of the bank’s pre-tax profit in 2020, from 21 per cent in 2016.
“VIB’s business strategies prioritise gradually receiving positive results from the automation and digitisation of sales and after-sales service in the retail segment,” Hương said.
Also at the event, analysts questioned that as the leading bank in terms of auto loan market share for five consecutive years, whether VIB had difficulties in bad debt management and debt recovery, especially in the context of social distancing and the impact of the pandemic.
Hương said: “VIB is not only the leading bank in terms of sales but also the industry leader in risk management of the auto lending segment. VIB applies a strict risk appetite right from the product development stage and the customer’s debt repayment requirements, the loan to value (LTV) ratio is always below 80 per cent, closely evaluates collateral, and at the same time with selective lending: 90 per cent of auto loans are new car loans for consumers, concentrating on the top car brands in the market.”
“Thus, with a tight risk appetite from the upstream, after 18 months since COVID-19 pandemic started, the bad debt ratio of the retail segment in general and the auto segment in particular at VIB has almost remained unchanged,” Hương said.
Talking about VIB’s outstanding areas of bancassurance and credit cards, Hương said VIB is currently ranked in the Top 1 and Top 2 for many consecutive years in the bancassurance business. Despite social distancing, VIB has maintained its top bancassurance sales in recent years, thanks to digital sales platforms and digital solutions that have been implemented by VIB in the last two years.
“The cake is huge for everyone to join in and do a good job. Việt Nam’s bancassurance premium to GDP ratio is less than 1 per cent, compared with an average of about 10 per cent of other countries in the region.”
Regarding the credit card business, Hương said the bank’s credit card opening and card spending rates reached the highest-ever level in the bank’s history as VIB is a pioneer in applying modern technologies to daily life. From the opening stage to usage, it is completely online, besides others outstanding features that VIB applies in Việt Nam.
After more than two years of strong implementation of the credit card business, the bank has successfully applied artificial intelligence (AI) and big data processing (Big Data), along with modern technologies such as e-KYC and e-Signature in the credit card approval process, setting a new record for processing and approval period until the card is used: only 15-30 minutes, equal to 1/500 of the average time in the market. As a result, VIB continues to be in the top position in terms of growth in the number of credit cards and spending on cards, ranked second in the whole market, according to a report by the Vietnam Card Association.
“This confirms that our credit card development strategy is promoting our strengths in technology, unique product features, and the outstanding customer experience in the market,” Hương said.
Answering questions from some fund representatives on whether VIB would consider expanding its customer base through developing strategic partnerships with other companies, Hương said that VIB focuses on developing digital banking, with digital solutions to be able to reach a diverse set of customers instead of targeting a few specific customer groups.
In her speech, VIB’s representative also expressed optimism and confidence in the policies of the State Bank of Việt Nam and the Government in both protecting the community against the pandemic and facilitating economic activities.
Pioneering in digital banking
VIB has the leading technology platform in the market. The bank has pioneered the application of technologies such as Big Data, AI, and cloud computing in transactions to make the online payment experience of customers easier and more convenient.
Trần Nhất Minh, Deputy Chief Executive Officer and Chief Digital Officer, said VIB’s digital banking experienced an impressive registration growth of 130 per cent in 2020. Customers can easily open cards for payment, account opening, online savings, money transfer, and other banking services at home instead of going to a branch.
VIB has also offered many 100 per cent digital products while cooperating with partners such as Ho Chi Minh City Securities Co (HSC) and VNDirect securities company to better support customers.
“The bank’s CASA ratio is currently at 13 per cent and there is much room for growth in the future, helping to maximise capital expenditure and expand NIM. These factors help VIB become one of the top banks in terms of online transactions which account for 91 of the total number of transactions,” Minh said.
In the future, VIB representatives said the bank will continue the outstanding achievements of the 10-year transformation programme to maintain its leading positions in retail and technology in particular and at the same time exceed its challenging business goals in 2021. —
Businesses dig deep to make sure they come out on other side of pandemic intact
HCM CITY — Businesses in Việt Nam are making all efforts to survive the fourth wave of COVID-19 which is battering the country.
Giant food producer KIDO Group said in a recent press release it has adopted a number of solutions to adapt to the new situation and keep production going while also ensuring safety.
A spokesperson told Việt Nam News that to ensure uninterrupted production, the company has adopted the “3 on-site” model, which involves on-site production, dining and rest, for over a month.
It unfailingly complies with the provisions of the Government’s circular No 16 and 5K message, he said.
It is also preparing for life after the pandemic, he said.
“We are ready to bring new products and segments into the market immediately after COVID-19 is controlled.”
It plans to introduce the Vibev brand of products made in collaboration with Vinamilk.
Another plan is to introduce Chuk Chuk, a new food and beverage brand, opening 1,000 stores by 2025.
The company’s general director, Trần Lệ Nguyên, said the first market for Chuk Chuk would be HCM City, and stores would open in Hà Nội and some northern provinces by September if the pandemic is controlled by then, adding it would be present across the country by 2025.
Ride-hailing and delivery company Grab has rolled out a number of programmes to help customers buy foodstuffs.
To ensure the safety of its drivers and customers, it has tied up with the General Department of Vocational Education and Training to fully equip its drivers with the necessary skills and competencies.
They have also jointly built and standardised the training materials, and drawn up communication plans for raising awareness about vocational skills development for drivers.
Trương Anh Dũng, director general of the department, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has had a great impact on the Vietnamese economy, and drivers cannot be immune to it. This partnership helps resolve long-term problems for technological drivers, equipping them with the necessary skills to sustain and improve not only their livelihoods but also the quality of life of themselves and their families.”
Grab also has a programme to support disadvantaged people in HCM City in co-operation with Golden Lotus Foundation. It provides free meals to people economically affected by the pandemic or living in locked-down areas.
To start with, around 11,500 meals would be provided, it said.
Tourism is one of the many sectors badly hit by the pandemic, and many businesses in it have been striving to overcome the challenges they face.
For instance, before the semi-lockdown began weeks ago some hotels had begun to offer co-working space to provide customers with a safe working environment.
Now, with stricter social distancing regulations, they have changed their strategy and offer quarantine facilities, and this has received strong support from customers.
Recently a Southeast Asian travel and lifestyle superapp, Traveloka, announced that it is working with the HCM City Department of Tourism to help the city’s residents find and book hotels and transportation to enable quarantine.
Demand for quarantine facilities has increased along with the developments of COVID-19 in HCM City, and its quarantine hotel and transportation online booking and payment solutions are expected to help curb the spread of the pandemic by limiting direct contact between people, Traveloka said.
They have been available since the start of August.
Lê Trương Hiền Hoà, director of the HCM City Tourism Promotion Centre, hailed the partnership, saying: “With support from Traveloka, HCM City is the first city in Việt Nam to digitise the quarantine hotel booking process … and will extend it to international arrivals in the near future.
“It also helps hoteliers switch their business model to survive amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.”
With the aid of the app’s advanced technologies, customers can easily access complete information about room types, prices and transportation options in real-time, and pay for it via Traveloka.
Traveloka said it is partnering with more than 80 hotels and selected transportation partners across HCM City, including private cars and shuttle buses.
MVV Academy, a pioneer organisation for comprehensive, on-site and advanced resource development solutions in Việt Nam, decided to organise training programmes to make its staff sales consultants and brand ambassadors to introduce its products to the public.
It also recently launched MVV Uni, an advanced training platform that offers working professionals an interactive and flexible experience to support their various learning needs, and acts as a one-stop-shop with courses in all essential business skill sets such as leadership, sales, marketing, management, soft skills, and digital transformation.
“The COVID epidemic has disrupted many human resource training activities at Vietnamese enterprises,” Bùi Đức Quân, CEO of MVV Academy told Việt Nam News.
“Taking advantage of the strength of technology, combined with experience in content building and understanding of learner experience through operating platforms such as TopClass and Everlearn, we quickly built a solution, MVV Uni, to offer enterprises training programmes for their employees during Covid.
“Our ambition is to build a university community on the cloud.” —
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