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Vietnam struggles to have 5,000 science and tech firms this year

Vietnam would have difficulty achieving the goal of having 5,000 science and technology enterprises this year under the 2011-20 science and technology development strategy.

Vietnam struggles to have 5,000 science and tech firms this year

Students during a class at FPT University. Viet Nam is striving to reach 5,000 science and technology firms this year, but there are obstacles.

The Ministry of Science and Technology has proposed many solutions to reach this goal, including the Decree 13/2019/ND-CP on developing science and technology enterprises effective from March 20, 2019 with better incentives and opened mechanisms.

It has also improved policies and institutions, including amendments of some laws on investment, enterprises and corporate income tax and regulations supporting incubation and development of science and technology enterprises.

The system of mechanisms, policies and regulations on development of science and technology, and creative innovation is synchronised to ensure efficiency in supporting the development of science and technology enterprises and using results of State-invested research on science and technology.

However, Viet Nam now has about 500 science and technology enterprises, reaching 10 per cent of the target.

The ministry has found many barriers to having 5,000 science and technology firms this year.

Pham Duc Nghiem, deputy director of the ministry’s Department for Development of Market and Science and Technology Enterprises, said that the number of enterprises interested in science and technology is not high and programmes as well as disbursement of capital for the development of science and technology firms are also limited.

Recently, the ministry has reformed mechanism on investment to create more favourable conditions for businesses in becoming science and technology firms but they still need to renew themselves, Nghiem said.

Science and Technology deputy minister Bui The Duy said the failure to achieve this goal firstly is the responsibility of the science and technology ministry because its communication on the target is limited.

“The ministry has not cooperated with media agencies to encourage development for science and technology enterprises as well as incentives for those enterprises,” Duy told the Voice of Viet Nam.

Meanwhile, Nguyen Hong Phong, general director of the Tien Nong Agriculture Joint Stock Company, one of the first science and technology companies in Thanh Hoa Province, said it has had a difficult beginning to be recognised as a science and technology company.

Since its establishment in 1995, the enterprise has identified science and technology as a foundation for its development and built a research and development (R&D) centre with modern equipment and technology.

With this R&D centre, the company has implemented many research projects to produce high-quality farming products to increase its revenue and output in farmers’ production.

However, to become a science and technology company is not easy, especially for small and medium sized enterprises like the Tien Nong, according to Phong. The State has many incentives to support the development of science and technology companies such as tax, land and credit, but whether they receive these incentives or not is another issue.

Besides that, Luu Hai Minh, chairman of the Nhat Hai New Technology Joint Stock Company with a certificated science and technology enterprise, said the right of using a State-invested scientific and technological research project has the same value as land use rights.

An enterprise could mortgage its land use right to get loans for development but is not permitted to mortgage the use right of State-invested scientific and technological research to have capital for producing new products, he said. — VNS



Analysts, authorities make contrasting claims about high Vietnam gold prices

Analysts, authorities make contrasting claims about high Vietnam gold prices

Customers buy and sell gold at a jewelry shop in Binh Thanh District, Ho Chi Minh City, August 7, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran.

A supply shortage in Vietnam has widened the difference between domestic and global gold prices, according to experts, but authorities reject the claim.

Gold prices have been rising relentlessly this year as investors sought a safe haven amid the uncertainties caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Vietnamese gold prices have always been higher than international rates, but in recent weeks the difference has been widening.

Prices of the popular SJC gold on Saturday morning was VND60.3 million ($2,594.87) per tael of 37.5 grams (1.2 ounces). This translated into a difference of $150, up from $40-100 last month.

Huynh Trung Khanh, senior consultant to the World Gold Council in Vietnam, Singapore and Indonesia, said the growing difference could be because there is a short supply and gold sellers have hiked prices.

The chairman of the Vietnam Gold Investment and Trading Corporation (VGC), Tran Thanh Hai, concurred with him saying local distributors like Saigon Jewelry Company (SJC) and DOJI are concerned about a shortage and have pushed their prices up.

DOJI reported a 30 percent surge in the number of customers in July and this month from a year ago. Bao Tin Minh Chau, another seller, said at times in recent weeks demand was several times higher than in the same period in past years.

But authorities dismiss this. Nguyen Hoang Minh, deputy director of the State Bank of Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City branch, said there is no short supply of gold bullion.

Gold companies are only pushing up prices to hedge the risks arising from the global volatility, he said.

Vietnam, with reserves of nearly $90 billion, could intervene in both the gold and foreign currency markets if necessary, he added.


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Vietnam becomes second most optimistic country in Q2 2020: Nielsen

After one year, Job security overtook Health to become No.1 concern of Vietnamese consumers.

Overcoming the first wave of Covid-19, in the second quarter (Q2) of 2020, Vietnam became the second most optimistic country globally with Consumer Confidence Index of 117 points, despite being down 9 points compared to Q1, according the latest report by Nielsen Vietnam for Q2/2020. 

 Source: Nielsen Vietnam

In Q2, the Global Consumer Confidence Index fell sharply from a near historic high of 106 in Q1 to 92, indicating pessimistic consumers outnumbered optimistic ones globally for the first time since 2016. A reading below 100 is considered negative.

The 14-point drop is the largest quarterly decline since the index began in Q1 2005 and is twice the largest drop in the index during the global financial crisis in 2008/09, according to the report.

In Q2, 56 out of 68 markets in the survey reported confidence levels under 100, signaling greater pessimism among consumers globally. Ten markets reported levels under 66 (very negative territory). This implies that almost all consumers surveyed globally are pessimistic. Despite the plunge in confidence across all Asia-Pacific markets, the region polarized, being home to many of the most optimistic as well as the most pessimistic consumers in the world.

Although there was a sharp decrease from 126 to 117 points compared to the previous quarter, Vietnam still placed among the most optimistic countries globally. As such, Vietnam overcame the Philippines and Indonesia to rank 2nd in the world for having the most positive consumers, after India, whose score was 123.

 Source: Nielsen Vietnam

The combination of deteriorating job prospects, rising anxieties about short-term personal finances and spending readiness drove the decline in Vietnam’s consumer confidence this quarter.

All three drivers of consumer confidence including job prospects, personal finances, and spending intentions witnessed significant declines.

“Having successfully managed the first wave of the outbreak, Vietnam is on a rebound, however, consumer confidence is weaker overall due to the impact of the pandemic which has impacted many people’s personal situation as well as their outlook of going forward,” said Louise Hawley, managing director of Nielsen Vietnam.

Job security becomes No.1 concern

In the quarter, Job security overcame Health to be the top concern of Vietnamese consumers who continued to rank Job security and Health as their top two key concerns.

 Source: Nielsen Vietnam

Remarkably, there was a big jump in consumer concern about the Economy (31%, up 10% against Q1), which is now at the highest level since Q2 2014.

Work-life balance moved down one spot on the key concern list with less than one in four consumers indicating it as a worry (23% compared to 22% respondents in Q1). Hanoitimes

Nhat Minh


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Industrial production declines in HCM City in seven months

Industrial production declines in HCM City in seven months


The index of industrial production (IIP) in Ho Chi Minh City went down 5.5 percent year-on-year in seven months of this year due to COVID-19 pandemic, according to the municipal Department of Industry and Trade.

In July alone, the index rose by 8.6 percent month-on-month, including manufacturing and processing up 9 percent, electricity production and distribution up 3.9 percent.

However, four key industries saw a 0.9 percent decrease in seven months but moved up more than 4.6 percentage point from the IIP, including electronics up 18.6 percent, and chemicals and pharmaceuticals up 7.3 percent.

According to local enterprises, domestic industrial production is facing pressure caused by imports.

Deputy Director of the department Nguyen Phuong Dong highlighted a need to issue breakthrough solutions and policies to support enterprises as a number of markets have yet to open their doors due to the pandemic.

Dong said local exports via border gates nationwide rose by 5.8 percent to 24.7 billion USD in seven months. However, its shipments to European markets joining the European Union – Vietnam Free Trade Agreement only reached over 2.74 billion USD, down 7 percent year-on-year.

China remains the city’s largest importer with a value of over 6 billion USD, up 44.7 percent annually, followed by the US and Japan.

The total retail of goods and services surpassed 718.1 trillion VND, down 3.8 percent annually during the period, including accommodation and dining services down 45.1 percent and travelling down 74.9 percent.

At the same time, inventory in the manufacturing and processing sector also increased by 5.5 percent year-on-year.

In the current context, experts suggested firms grasp of opportunities from domestic and foreign markets by meeting technical requirements such as origin of products and intellectual property protection.

Deputy PM demands faster SOE equitisation, State capital divestment

Deputy Prime Minister Truong Hoa Binh on August 6 requested the utmost effort from ministries, sectors, and State-owned enterprises (SOEs) to achieve the best result possible in equitising SOEs and divesting State capital from businesses.

At its meeting in Hanoi, the steering committee for enterprise reform and development reported that from 2016 to June 2020, more than 218 trillion VND (9.4 billion USD) was collected from SOE equitisation and State capital divestment, up 2.79-fold against the figure recorded in the 2011-2015 period as a whole, of about 78 trillion VND.

State capital divestment, however, is still behind schedule, it said, pointing out that under the PM-approved plan for 2017-2020, divestment at 348 enterprises is to be completed within the period but has been carried out at just 92, or only 26.4 percent.

Also head of the steering committee, Binh blamed the problem on the slow revision of regulations on equitisation and divestment as well as the lax implementation of the land law and the law on the management and use of public assets, while noting that many enterprises waited until the equitisation process began before beginning to address land-related issues.

Some ministries, sectors, localities, and SOEs haven’t been serious in completing the task, he said, adding that the COVID-19 outbreak has had an adverse impact in every socio-economic regard, including equitisation, divestment, and the stock market, not to mention certain existing barriers to the private sector development.

Noting that the remaining months of this year is also the final period for implementing the equitisation and divestment plan for 2016-2020, Binh asked ministries, sectors, and SOEs to exert every effort to restructure SOEs while accelerating equitisation and divestment to record the best possible results.

Localities set out COVID-19 preventive plans

An Giang, Quảng Ninh, Quảng Trị and Vĩnh Phúc provinces are urgently stepping up measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 as Đà Nẵng City faces an outbreak of the disease.

The People’s Committee of An Giang Province in the Mekong Delta sent an urgent dispatch to ask authorities of districts, especially border areas, to strengthen COVID-19 preventive measures on Tuesday afternoon.

Vice-Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Lê Văn Phước said the committee warned district authorities to focus on preventing illegal entry through the border area.

It also requested leaders of departments, agencies and district People’s Committees to strictly direct the implementation of COVID-19 preventive measures.

The provincial People’s Committee asked local authorities to work with police and health authorities to classify local citizens returning from Đà Nẵng since July 1, and take appropriate quarantine measures.

The localities need to conduct medical supervision and testing for all F1 cases, said Phước.

The Department of Health and provincial Border Guard Command were asked to prepare human resources and medical equipment to ensure quarantine and treatment.

Provincial police will prosecute all individuals and groups organising illegal entry into Việt Nam.

Quảng Ninh Provincial People’s Committee on Tuesday asked the COVID-19 Prevention and Control Steering Committee in co-ordination with the Health Department to finish health declaration forms for all citizens before August 10.

The health department will check and monitor all those with underlying medical conditions and those with COVID-19 symptoms.

Concentrated isolation facilities in the province must be ready to receive F1 cases from community transmission.

Ninh Văn Chủ, Director of Quảng Ninh Centre for Disease Control, said the number of flights bringing people returning from abroad through Vân Đồn airport brings the risk of many patients positive for SARS-CoV-2 entering the area.

Therefore, the province must control trails, cross-border areas and strictly conduct health declaration forms.

Quảng Trị Province has reopened all medical isolation facilities to be ready to receive suspected COVID-19 cases.

These facilities included Quảng Trị General Hospital, Triệu Hải General Hospital, and eight health centres.

Quảng Trị has tested all local citizens returning from coronavirus hotspots via quick testing and the provincial People’s Committee has spent VNĐ2.1 billion to buy 15,000 test kits.

Vĩnh Phúc Province, home to numerous industrial zones, has asked enterprises to seriously implement COVID-19 prevention measures.

Enterprises must constantly monitor the number of labourers returning from pandemic-hit areas.

Leading tour operator reports loss of US$3.4 mln

With COVID-19 precluding travel, Vietravel reported a first-half loss of VND80 billion (US$3.4 million), down from a profit of VND30 billion in the year-ago period.

The giant tour company suffered a loss of over VND38 billion in the second quarter, its third quarterly loss in a row, according to its latest consolidated financial statement. Revenues were down 90% year-on-year to VND206 billion. 

First half revenues fell 72% to VND995 billion.

The company blamed the losses on the pandemic’s severe impact on the tourism industry, with Vietnam curbing international travel since March and closing all tourist destinations in April 1 to 22 for a social distancing campaign.

With its revenues depending mainly on selling tours, Vietravel is one of the tour companies to be hardest hit.

Vietravel has invested nearly VND27 billion in its Vietravel Airlines. It was originally planned for its first commercial flight to take off in early 2021.

VNPT to sell stakes in three companies

The Viet Nam Posts and Telecommunications Group (VNPT) will auction a total of 514,000 shares it currently holds in three companies.

The firms are Baclieu Telecommunication Construction & Investment JSC, Dongthap Telecommunication Investment And Construction JSC and Camau Post-telecoms Assemblage And Services JSC.

VNPT plans to sell all 168,000 of its shares in Baclieu Telecommunication Construction & Investment JSC, equivalent to 48 per cent of the company’s charter capital, with an initial price of VND17,493 per share. VNPT expects to collect VND2.9 billion (US$125,100) from the sale.

Baclieu JSC was established in 2004 and operates in the fields of electrical system installation, construction of power grid projects and construction of other works.

It recorded net revenue of nearly VND4.4 billion last year and a post-tax profit of more than VND141 million, respectively up 53 per cent and down 11 per cent compared to 2018.

For the divestment from Dongthap Telecommunication Investment and Construction JSC, VNPT will auction 320,000 shares, equivalent to 32 per cent of Dongthap’s charter capital.

With a starting price of VND87,372 per share, VNPT expects to earn nearly VND28 billion from the sale.

The company was established in late 2004. It operates in the fields of construction of railways and roads, consulting for telecommunication construction projects, industrial works, civil transportation and other constructions.

Dongthap achieved a net revenue of nearly VND65 billion and after-tax profit of VND1.4 billion last year, up 36 per cent and 96 per cent compared to the previous year.

At Camau Post-telecoms Assemblage And Services JSC, VNPT will auction 26,000 shares, equivalent to 43.33 per cent of the company’s charter capital with an initial price of VND506,056 per share. VNPT expects to earn VND13 billion from the sale.

Camau JSC was established in 2006. The company operates in the fields of communication equipment production, inland and waterway passenger transport. The company reported net revenue of VND18.7 billion and a post-tax profit of more than VND814 million last year. 

CVS eKYC start-up receives US$500,000 investment

NextTech Group and fund on Tuesday officially announced their investment of US$500,000 into Computer Vision Vietnam (CVS eKYC) – a start-up providing artificial intelligence (AI) and computer vision solutions for financial technology companies (fintech).

The investment aimed to maximise convenience for companies in electronic Know Your Customer, or eKYC, thus promoting digital transformation in the finance and banking sector.

Established only three months ago, CVS eKYC has offered AI to recognise face and characters; detecting invalid papers and faces to provide a complete and fully automated eKYC solution.

CVS solution is based on intelligent image processing technology, providing identification and customer verification solutions for fintech and banks.

CVS eKYC has the ability to extract information from photos to help fintech companies automatically process customer records more quickly and systematically. In addition, the project also includes many solutions related to images such as searching a database of millions of related images of customers for businesses, face attendance, licence plate recognition and analysing facial features.

With this technology, CVS’ partners could fully control customer identification through photos or videos of selfies, collating with ID documents as a basis for making decisions on opening trading accounts for customers.

Computer vision has been applied widely around the world in recent years. However, the market is quite new in Viet Nam.

Nguyen Van Viet, CEO and Co-Founder of Computer Vision Vietnam, said: “Customers choose CVS because we always try to understand their problems and solve them in the best way. CVS actually solves customers’ core business.”

After only three months of establishment, CVS has many customers such as Fiin (Fintech), Mofin (Fintech), BPech (software solution), Cozrum (hotel management).

With the investment, CVS would continue to invest to upgrading their current products and develop new services for fintech and digital transformation. In addition, it would co-operate with members of NextTech’s ecosystem to promote access to customers in fintech, banking, insurance, security, network providers, data digitalisation and automated check-in industries.

CVS is implementing its expansion to the southern region and Southeast Asian countries.

It targeted to become one of the leading companies in the sectors of eKYC, fintech, digital transformation using AI and Big Data in Viet Nam and Southeast Asia.

Shark Nguyen Hoa Binh, CEO of NextTech Group, said eKYC is a necessary foundation for digitalising transactions in the finance and banking sector.

He said eKYC could bring huge benefits to finance and banking institutions by maximising human resources, reducing risks and costs for customers.

“With the investment from Next100 and support from NextTech Group’s ecosystem, we expect that CVS would bring a modern technology solution for fintech and banks in improving service quality as well as convenience for Vietnamese people,” he added. 

PetroVietnam subsidiaries ink deal on projects

Three subsidiaries of the State-owned Vietnam Oil and Gas Group (PetroVietnam) signed a business cooperation contract (BCC) on August 3 to carry out a chain of gas, power, and service port projects.

The three are the PetroVietnam Gas Joint Stock Corporation (PV Gas), the PetroVietnam Power Joint Stock Corporation (PV Power), and the PetroVietnam Technical Service Joint Stock Corporation (PTSC).

PTSC General Director Le Manh Cuong said the contract is to implement a chain of gas, power, and service port projects on the basis of business performance-based risk and profit sharing along with the optimisation of financial resources, personnel, and technical infrastructure.

In the first phase, the three companies will invest in new infrastructure to supply re-gasified liquefied natural gas (LNG) to the Nhon Trach 1 and Nhon Trach 1A power plants.

They will continue to consider investment in the Nhon Trach 5 power project in the second phase, with an expected capital contribution of 51 percent by PV Gas, 34 percent by PTSC, and 15 percent by PV Power.

General Director of PetroVietnam Le Manh Hung said the BCC will help consolidate the group’s business model and fully capitalise on every resource of its subsidiaries, thereby improving its competitiveness and prestige.

Following that, PV Gas and the PetroVietnam Chemical and Services Joint Stock Corporation (PV Chem) also inked a cooperation contract.

Under this deal, PV Gas will support PV Chem’s provision of products and technical and industrial services of the latter’s strength for the former’s production and business activities and projects.

PV Gas agreed in principle to supply cold energy from its LNG warehouse projects to industrial gas plants of PV Chem and its partners. The two will also look into plans to use cold energy from PV Gas’s LNG warehouses to enhance the economic benefits of LNG projects and environmental protection efforts.

The signing of the contracts is a step towards implementing PetroVietnam’s package of measures in response to the recent “twin crises” of COVID-19 and tumbling oil prices.

Plan issued for implementing Vietnam – Cuba trade agreement

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has issued a plan for implementing a trade agreement between Vietnam and Cuba.

The plan outlines the tasks for ministries, ministerial-agencies, State agencies and localities, one of which is to promote the dissemination of information related to the agreement through the media, websites, training courses, and seminars.

Information and forecasts related to import, export, trade and investment should be updated to Vietnamese enterprises, helping them understand more about Cuba’s technical requirements, rules on management of goods import and export, as well the market’s demand.

Regarding policy and institutions building work, ministries, ministerial-level agencies, Government agencies, People’s Committees of provinces and centrally-run cities must consult related parties in the process.

Ministries and sectors were asked to continue coordination with the Cuban side to develop and complete necessary institutions for the implementation of the agreement.

Attention should be paid to building market development programmes for Vietnam’s potential export items and training enterprises in specific commitments related to the agreement.

The Vietnam-Cuba Trade Agreement was signed on November 9, 2018 after two years of negotiation. The Agreement replaces the earlier deal between the two governments on trade exchange and other economic cooperation forms signed on April 8, 1996.

It features 14 chapters, covering the trade of goods, rules of origin, customs administration and trade facilitation, trade remedies, technical standards and regulations and conformity assessment procedures (STRACAP), sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures, trade of services, economic and trade cooperation, review and management, and dispute resolution.

In addition, the agreement, which officially took effect on April 1 this year, also contains annexes, mainly related to commitments on market opening.

Under the pact, the two sides have pledged to eliminate or reduce tariffs on nearly all commodities currently traded between them over the next five years.

The Vietnamese Government recently issued Decree No.39/2020/ND-CP on a list of Vietnam’s special preferential import tariffs to implement the trade agreement with Cuba from now until 2023.

Accordingly, import tariffs on 514 items from Cuba, including some types of shrimp, fish, honey and fruit, cement, chromium ore, disinfectants, protective suits and wireless internet devices have been slashed to zero percent.

For the 49 remaining tariff lines, tax rates will be cut gradually. Commodities such as sugar and unprocessed tobacco will have their tariff rates reduced to 15 percent in four years, cigarettes and cigars to 70 percent, and liquor and alcohol to 20 percent.

Kien Giang sees surge in tourist arrivals in July

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The Mekong Delta province of Kien Giang welcomed nearly 1 million visitors in July, a surge of 75.3 percent compared to the previous month.

Amidst the complicated developments of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Tourism requested accommodation facilities in the province to strictly apply preventive measures against the pandemic following guidelines of the Health Ministry, especially those in health declarations.

Local travel firms have been asked to cancel all tours to pandemic-hit localities, while entertainment centres and tourist destinations have been equipped with hand sanitizer.

In the coming time, the province will continue to launch tourism promotion programmes in parallel with the implementation of preventive measures, thus ensuring safety for tourists./.

Thua Thien-Hue adopts strict measures to keep tourists safe amid COVID-19

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Adjacent to Da Nang, which has become a COVID-19 hotspot, Thua Thien-Hue province has been implementing strict measures to protect visitors against the disease.

Since the new outbreak was first reported in neighbouring Da Nang city, all accommodation facilities in Thua Thien-Hue have prepared hand sanitiser and face masks for visitors, asked them to complete health declarations, and arranged for them to have their temperature taken every day. Some hotels have even gone the extra mile by setting up a quarantine zone for suspected cases.

All entertainment services are now suspended in the province, and wearing face masks is compulsory for tourists.

IFC helps Vietnamese bank aid SMEs amid COVID-19

The International Finance Corporation (IFC) – a member of the World Bank Group – will provide another 40 million USD for the Orient Commercial Bank (OCB) to help with the support of COVID-hit clients, especially small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

The one-year renewable senior loan will offer OCB additional liquidity to continue lending to businesses as it is offering payment relief to its borrowers at the same time.

OCB will prioritise clients working in sectors facing direct impact of COVID-19 like tourism and production as well as those related to disease response activities.

“Our experience from past shocks, including the global financial crisis 2008, has taught us that micro, small and medium enterprises are especially impacted by the current crisis. Keeping them solvent is therefore key to saving jobs and limiting the economic damage,” said Kyle Kelhofer, IFC Country Manager for Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.

He noted the IFC’s support to OCB will not only help the bank extend payment relief to clients but also enable it to offer new loans to SMEs, supporting continued operations and preserving jobs, thereby accelerating Vietnam’s economic recovery.

Nguyen Dinh Tung, CEO of OCB, said the bank is reviewing and adjusting its credit programmes to make them more suitable for the current situation while continuing the implementation of preferential policies for firms to access capital and restore operation, thus helping with the recovery of the national economy.

ADB provides 1.5 billion USD loan to help Thailand fight COVID-19

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) announced on August 4 that it will provide a loan worth 1.5 billion USD to support Thailand’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

ADB President Masatsugu Asakawa said that the loan will help reduce the pandemic’s social and economic impacts on the Southeast Asian country.

“Our budget support will help fund the government’s relief packages, which aim to better prepare the country’s health care system for possible future waves of COVID-19; protect the vulnerable; support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in industries most affected by the outbreak such as tourism and manufacturing; and provide overall economic stimulus,” he said in a statement.

Thailand has one of the more developed health care systems in Southeast Asia, but the country remains highly vulnerable to the pandemic due to its deep integration with regional and global economies.

ADB forecast Thailand’s economy to contract by 6.5 percent in 2020, in contrast with its December 2019 projection of a 3 percent growth.

The ADB said the loan to Thailand is funded through its COVID-19 pandemic response option (CPRO) under its Countercyclical Support Facility.

CPRO was established as part of the bank’s 20 billion USD expanded assistance for developing members to respond to COVID-19, announced on April 13.

Philippine economy may shrink 8 percent in Q2: Moody’s Analytics

The Philippine economy may contract by 8 percent in the second quarter of 2020 due to containment measures against COVID-19, according to Moody’s Analytics.

That will follow the GDP decline of 0.2 percent in Q1, ending 84 straight quarters of positive growth since Q4 of 1998.

Steven Cochrane, chief economist for Asia Pacific at Moody’s Analytics, said the country’s GDP is seen sinking by 4.5 percent in 2020.

Meanwhile, economic managers, through the Development Budget Coordination Committee, forecast the GDP of this archipelago nation may contract between 2 and 3.4 percent this year.

The last time the country’s economy contracted was in 1998 with 0.5 percent due to the Asian financial crisis.

Cochrane warned that if the lockdowns continue well into Q3 of 2020, the risks to the outlook for both 2020 and 2021 are clearly to the downside.

Ca Mau’s socio-economic activities recovering

The socio-economic situation in the southernmost province of Ca Mau is recovering, with many major targets reached, according to the Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Nguyen Tien Hai.

Over the past seven months, the province’s aquatic product output reached 343,500 tonnes, up 2.7 percent year-on-year, including 115,000 tonnes of shrimp, up 5 percent. In July alone, shrimp output was 50,500 tonnes, 1 percent higher than in June.

The industrial production index rose 1.6 percent, while total retail sales and service revenue inched up 1.1 percent to over 4.8 trillion VND (208 million USD), and export value increased 1.9 percent month-on-month to 85 million USD in July.

State budget collections also rose 14 percent year-on-year, Hai added.

Limitations remain, however, such as falling output at the Ca Mau Gas-Power-Fertilizer Complex and a year-on-year decline of 10 percent in export turnover, along with slow public investment disbursement, especially official development assistance (ODA) and capital for the national target programme, and a rise in traffic accidents.

To fulfil the targets set for this year, the People’s Committee has called for greater effort from departments, agencies and localities, especially in public investment disbursement, focusing on infrastructure facilities in service of natural disaster response, major projects, and those using ODA and foreign preferential loans.

During the closing months of this year, Ca Mau will continue with agricultural restructuring in tandem with the national target programme on new-style rural area building.

It will duplicate production models adaptive to climate change and using high-technologies, while paying attention to intensive industrial production in order to turn out competitive products.

The People’s Committee will also seriously observe instructions on COVID-19 prevention and control, Hai said.

Remittances to Cambodia to plunge by millions of US dollars this year: ABD

Cambodia could lose more than 15 percent of its international remittances this year under the worst-case scenario because of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a report by the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

Based on the country’s total remittances of 2.8 billion USD in 2019, more than 420 million USD will not be sent home in 2020 – mostly from Thailand – because hundreds of thousands of workers have returned home.

In its report on “COVID-19 Impact on International Migration, Remittance, and Recipient Households in Developing Asia”, the ADB said that the economic recession caused by COVID-19 threatens the job security and wellbeing of more than 91 million international migrants from Asia and the Pacific.

Total remittances to Asia are expected to drop between 31.4 billion USD (baseline scenario) and 54.3 billion USD (worst-case scenario) this year, equivalent to 11.5 percent and 19.8 percent of money sent home, respectively, according to the report.

Among developing Southeast Asian economies, the Philippines is the most affected, with remittances falling more than 20 percent and others such as Cambodia in excess of 15 percent, the report said.

Cambodian migrant workers from the Republic of Korea and Japan sent home 12.91 million USD via ACLEDA Bank Plc in the first haft of this year, a decline of 1.41million USD from the same period last year, according to figures from the financial institution.

Last year, 1.2 million Cambodian workers, employed in Thailand, the RoK, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong (China), Malaysia and Saudi Arabia, sent home some 2.8 billion USD in remittances, an increase from 1.4 billion USD in 2018, according to figures from the Cambodian Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training.

Footwear exports likely to bounce back at year’s end

Footwear exports were estimated to hit 9.53 billion USD in the first seven months of 2020, a year-on-year decline of 7.9 percent, according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

The sector is among the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, along with garment-textile and manufacturing.

Europe is the leading export market of Vietnam’s leather and footwear, yielding nearly 6 billion USD annually and holding a lion’s share of nearly 30 percent.

As the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) took effect on August 1, footwear exports are expected to re-bounce in the remaining quarters, offsetting losses in the beginning of the year./.

Cassava exports increase over seven-month period

Vietnam exported 1.6 million tonnes of cassava and cassava-based products with a value of US$542 million during the opening seven months of the year, according to figures released by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The latest statistics represent an annual increase of 15.2% in volume and 3% in value. China remains the main export market for Vietnamese cassava and cassava-based products. 

Most notably, cassava chip exports enjoyed a sharp rise due to the increasing demand from the northern neighbor. The average export price of cassava chips increased 7% to US$227.3 per tonne compared to US$211.5 per tonne recorded in July 2019.

However, the average export price of cassava and cassava-based products throughout the reviewed period fell 11% to at an estimated US$345 per tonne .

Exports of cassava starch also suffered a decrease with the average export price reaching US$396 per tonne, representing a fall of 7% on-year.

The Agro Processing and Market Development Authority anticipated that the export price of cassava chips will continue to rise in the near future due to supply shortages and rising demand from China. 

Local businesses told to upgrade upon entering EU market

With the EU representing a meticulous market, there is no room for impatient businesses that show a lack of creativity or have poor-quality goods, meaning that local firms must be proactively innovative with their product quality and strive to meet high standards set on goods and services.

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc made the remarks at a teleconference on August 6 to discuss the implementation of the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA), 

During his address, the Government chief described the recent trade deal as a new generation agreement which sets comprehensive high standards, whilst also boasting a large openness that balances the interests of both sides.

Most notably for the country, a study by the Ministry of Planning and Investment indicates that under normal circumstances, the EVFTA has the potential to contribute to an average GDP increase of up to 3.2% over the first five years of its implementation. Indeed, this average GDP increase will rise to 5.3% over the subsequent five years and up to 7.72% ahead in the following five years.

With a strong commitment to open markets and eliminating almost all import taxes on EU tariffs, the EVFTA is expected to provide a widow of opportunity for local enterprises to increase export turnover to the EU by 42% in 2025 and to nearly 45% in 2030 in comparison to the scenario without the agreement in place. In addition, the agreement will serve to increase the nation’s potential to attract greater FDI investment.

Furthermore, the Agreement also serves to create approximately 150,000 jobs annually whilst helping between 800,000 and 1 million people escape from poverty by 2030, according to a report compiled by the World Bank.

PM Phuc said the EVFTA offers plenty of opportunities for the country to innovate its growth model, motivate domestic businesses to strive for improvements, whilst also accepting stricter new rules in order to progress with higher values in the EU, along with global supply and distribution chains.

The implementation of the trade deal is also important for the nation in the context of several major EU groups shifting their investment to the country by diversifying their production supply chains, the PM said.

Amid global economic growth being affected by the novel coronavirus pandemic and the EU suffering an economic slowdown, PM Phuc believes the EVFTA promises to bring optimistic forecasts regarding export growth in the near future.

With the trade deal entering into effect, several Vietnamese products must now compete with EU products in the domestic market due to the removal of protection barriers.

As a result of this increased level of competition, the Government and local businesses must take steps to effectively manage the market whilst creating a healthy business environment in order to be able to meet the requirements set by the EU market.

PM Phuc added that EU and Vietnamese goods can be considered to be supplementary for each other due to their differences in geography and development level.

Rice exports to EU remain modest due to limited quota

Vietnam witnessed modest earnings from rice exports to the EU market as a result of high import duties and restrictions caused by limited rice quotas provided by the EU, according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT).

Tran Thanh Hai, deputy director of the MoIT’s Import and Export Department, said the country’s rice export volume to the EU last year remained at a low level, reaching approximately 20,000 tonnes worth US$10.7 million. 

Meanwhile, the EU’s average rice consumption hovered at roughly 2.5 million tonnes per year in the 2016 to 2020 period.

This situation can be attributed to the fact that the nation has only been granted limited rice quotas by the EU, therefore making it difficult to compete with other countries such as Thailand, the United States, and Australia, all of which have received higher tariff quotas.

Furthermore, underdeveloped regional countries including Laos, Cambodia, and Myanmar are exempt from import duties and enjoy quota-free access for all of their export goods to the EU market. 

In line with the European Union-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) which came into force on August 1, the EU has pledged to provide an annual rice quota of 80,000 tonnes to the nation, including tariffs on rice products being slashed to 0% over the next three to five years.

Despite these pledges, the EU is expected to allocate a significant rice quota to European enterprises, therefore Vietnamese rice exporters have been advised to contact these firms in order to do business with them.

With regard to jasmine rice, the EVFTA requires additional documents from Vietnamese authorities who must finalise all legal documents as a means of meeting the requirements set by the EU market in the near future.

SCG latest operating results highlight agility and strategies to overcome COVID-19

SCG, a leading conglomerate in the ASEAN region, has amped up business strategies to triumph in the dragged out COVID-19 battle with agility and solid business continuity management. 

The group will continue to focus on maintaining long-term business stability with developments of total solutions and innovations to fulfill needs in the new normal, leveraging digital channels to push online purchases to shine in the ASEAN market.

SCG’s profit in the second quarter of 2020 reached VND6.860 trillion ($297.83 million), up 33 per cent on-year, due to the improved performance at all three of SCG’s key business units – cement-building materials, chemicals, and packaging – driven by cost optimisation efforts and business continuity. Additionally, it reported an increase of 35 per cent on-quarter mainly attributed to improved chemicals business performance.

The group’s sales revenue for the first half of 2020, however, dropped 9 per cent on-year to VND148.6 trillion ($6.46 billion), due to lower chemicals prices. Profit for the period declined by 13 per cent on-year to VND12.052 trillion ($524 Million), which is mainly attributed to decreased chemicals margins during the first quarter.

SCG’s revenue from sales of high-value-added products and services (HVA) for the first half of 2020 reached VND67.062 trillion ($2.9 billion) or 45 per cent of its total sales revenue.

As of June 30, 2020, the total assets of SCG amounted to VND530.5 trillion ($23 billion), while the total assets of SCG in the ASEAN (ex-Thailand) amounted to VND192 trillion ($ 8.35 billion), which is 36 per cent of SCG’s total consolidated assets.

Based on its recently-released second-quarter report, SCG in Vietnam owned VND88.8 trillion ($3.86 billion) worth of total asset, an increase of 59 per cent on-year mainly from its chemicals business.

During the period, the group reported sales revenue of VND6.976 trillion ($303.3 million) which includes sales from both operation in the country and imports from the Thai operations. This represents a decrease of 6 per cent on-year. For the first half of this year, SCG’s Vietnamese market reported revenue from sales of VND13.086 trillion ($568.96 million), down 5 per cent on-year mainly from all businesses.

Regarding to the current COVID-19 pandemic in Vietnam, SCG have been continuing on implementing full-blown business continuity management. To keep employees and their family safe from COVID-19, SCG has applied a new way of work called “Hybrid Workplace” that allows much greater flexibility for employees.

They can work on site, work from home, or work from anywhere the company considers safe and apply physical distancing guidelines. Furthermore, SCG and its subsidiaries realise that the health and safety of stakeholders are the most important aspect of having a good quality of life in times of COVID-19 pandemic, and so they continuously support communities across the nation by donating 400 tonnes of cement to build 45 playgrounds in the central province of Quang Binh and provided mobile clinics for health checks and safe transportation education programmes for communities in Long Son commune and Ba Ria-Vung Tau province in southern Vietnam.

Notably, SCG’s subsidiary Binh Minh Plastic was ranked amongst the Top 50 Best-Performing Companies on the Vietnamese stock exchange in 2019 by by Nhip Cau Dau Tu Magazine for in financial results for three fiscal years in a row, based on three indicators: revenue, return on equity (ROE), and earnings per share (EPS).

Roongrote Rangsiyopash, president and CEO of SCG, said, “Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, while SCG isn’t in industries severely affected like tourism or airlines, the group has constantly monitored and assessed the situations to stay atop in an environment of high uncertainties.”

SCG has put in place more-focused business strategies ranging from Prepare for the Worst by setting up sales plans and transport arrangements for possible lockdown and Plan for the Best by optimising production capacity to meet the growing demand to Digital Transformation to implement the group’s Optimisation Model.

Furthermore, the group has taken a dynamic approach by offering solutions, products, and services that better fulfill the needs and capture the untapped market in the wake of growing trends of e-commerce, on-demand food delivery service, and health and wellness. As a result, the operating results for the second quarter and the first half of this year were relatively less affected by the global economic slowdown.

The Packaging Business remains strong with upside potential due to the merger and partnership with Fajar Surya Wisesa Tbk, a leading Indonesian packaging paper company, Visy Packaging (Thailand) Ltd., and the planned acquisition of Bien Hoa Packaging JSC or SOVI in Vietnam. The moves have contributed to a strengthening of the company’s portfolio in the ASEAN market as well as better satisfying customer needs.

For business continuity management, Packaging Business focuses on optimising manufacturing process in Thailand and ASEAN countries, namely, Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Malaysia to streamline processes as well as introduce new standards in countries where the company operates to ensure the safety of staff, customers, and partners.

Packaging business also works closely with clients throughout the supply chain to ensure reliable raw material sourcing and logistics management as well as enforce strict hygiene practices in delivering packaging solutions.

The Chemicals Business has executed its business continuity management to ensure maximum production capacity and seize business opportunities in a challenging market environment brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The group has made efforts to ensure the safety of staffs such as providing accommodation, facilitating transportation, arranging working groups and area divisions at the plant, and maintaining high standards in quality control and cleanliness. Meanwhile, with production flexibility, the business could cater to rapid change in demand and secured increased sales volume amid market volatility.

SCG will continue to expand the proportion of high value added products and services to improve competitiveness, ride a market upturn, and meet customers’ needs.

Furthermore, Long Son Petrochemicals (LSP) in Vietnam has progressed as planned. The project remains under construction and has reached 45 per cent completion.

The Cement-Building Materials Business has also faced challenging market conditions. The business has taken adaptive approach by focusing on offering product and services with total solutions and developing Active Omni-Channel to increase retail sales and construction innovation that help improve the convenience, precision and efficiency of construction.

SCG began its business operations in Vietnam since 1992 with trading business and gradually expanded investment in diversifying business in the cement-building materials, chemicals, and packaging sectors.

Pork imports double on-year in first seven months

In the first seven months of this year, Vietnam imported 93,248 tonnes of pork, doubling the figure from the same period last year, with Canada, Germany, Brazil, and the US accounting for almost the entire volume.

According to statistics published by the Department of Animal Health under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), in the past seven months, 130 Vietnamese businesses imported 93,248 tonnes of pork, up 223 per cent on-year.

Regarding breeding pigs, 27 enterprises registered to quarantine 292,590 imported pigs, 15 of which have so far brought in 16,537 animals almost entirely from the US, Canada, Thailand, and Taiwan.

As of now, Vietnam allowed more than 800 enterprises from 19 countries to import into Vietnam pork and goods processed from pork. Between June 12 and August 1, 36 traders registered to quarantine 4.7 million pigs imported from Thailand. However, only 75,334 pigs were brought to Vietnam by 15 enterprises to be processed into food.

In the morning of August 4, the selling price of pigs was VND87-90,000 ($3.80-3.90) per kilogramme.

The African swine fever (ASF), which decimated the pig population across the region in 2019, returned to 235 districts of 44 cities and provinces, forcing farmers and authorities to destroy 39,000 pigs (2,000 tonnes) by the end of July.

Phung Duc Tien, deputy minister of the MARD, ensuring biological safety is the most important task for the pig breeding sector in the context of the ASF breakout as there is no vaccine or effective medication available yet.

Sabeco sees recovery in second quarter after dual pressures

Vietnamese brewer Sabeco began to regain some of its lost momentum in the second quarter, after being set behind by COVID-19 and tough local drink-driving laws earlier this year. However, future pandemic uncertainties could slow down recovery in the whole sector.

Vietnam Beer-Alcohol-Beverage Corporation (Sabeco) has just announced its business results for the second quarter, with both revenue and profit much higher than the first quarter’s VND5 trillion ($217.39 million) of revenue and VND 700 billion ($30.43 million) of profit. This shows that the effects of Decree No.100/2019/ND-CP on sanctions for drink-driving and the COVID-19 epidemic are softening.

In the second quarter of this year, net revenue went up 45 per cent on-quarter while earnings rose by 66 per cent, supported by improving sales in May and June following the COVID-19 lockdown.

Neo Gim Siong Bennett, general director of Sabeco said the company’s performance has improved as the market gradually recovers from the pandemic.

However, throughout the first six months, Sabeco’s revenue and profit dropped on-year, reaching VND12.044 trillion ($523.65 million) and VND1.933 trillion ($84 million), respectively. Sabeco adjusted its business plan to better align with market conditions. Accordingly, the company has fulfilled 51 per cent of its revenue plan and 59 per cent of the profit plan for the year.

In a recent e-mail interview with VIR, Sabeco said, “While it is difficult to provide forecasts due to uncertainty, particularly with regards to COVID-19, we have been seeing some positive signs of recovery as of late. This is in large part attributable to the Vietnamese government’s swift and effective actions to prevent and contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Further, this has helped put the country’s economy in a great position to recover faster, and we believe that this bodes well also for our industry and our company.”

Sabeco added that the pandemic has altered consumption habits. “For instance,” they wrote, “we see off-premise as potentially becoming the new norm after COVID-19. The pandemic has also accelerated people’s move towards online shopping and home delivery. We at Sabeco are working to adapt to these developments, including planning how to structure our processes, employees, logistics and supply chain.”

For instance, the corporation plans to continue focusing on developing the “home delivery” channels it set up when Vietnam introduced strict social distancing initiatives.

Meanwhile, regarding Decree 100, Sabeco said, “We at Sabeco fully understand the good intentions of the government’s policy in line with the campaign to reduce drink-related accidents. Sabeco, along with other members of the Vietnam Beverage Association (VBA), is continuing to engage relevant authorities to identify effective ways to promote and encourage responsible consumption, in line with the government’s objective.”

Given these challenges, the company feels it is especially important for it to double-down on meeting the needs of consumers and adapting to new market demands.

Bao Viet Securities (BVSC) predicted that 2020 would be a challenging year for beer and beverage firms who are experiencing two main sources of headwinds in the new decree and the coronavirus outbreak which are expected to continue slowing down beer and alcohol consumption in Vietnam in the foreseeable future.

MPI proposes four groups of solutions for EVFTA implementation

Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyen Chi Dung submitted an action plan of four groups of solutions to ensure the smooth implementation of the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) at a video conference in Hanoi on August 6.  

The Minister of Planning and Investment outlining the solutions to implement the EVFTA
The Minister of Planning and Investment laid out the action plan at a video conference on August 6 to ensure the smooth implementation of the EVFTA and that both sides can maximise benefits from the agreement.

The minister outlined four groups of solutions. Notably, the first solution group would increase the organisation of investment promotion programmes and conferences to disseminate Vietnam’s commitment to local authorities and the business community.

The investment promotion programmes would aim to increase the awarness of foreign investors, particularly EU enterprises about Vietnam’s commitments to open its market and liberalise investment.

These investment promotion events will be based on Resolution No.50-NQ/TW on orientations to perfect institutions and policies and to improve the quality and effectiveness of foreign investment cooperation until 2030. Accordingly, Vietnam will focus on attracting investment in sectors where EU investors have an advantage or a particular strength, including manufacturing and processing, renewable energy, or sectors which can connect Vietnam’s supporting industries with global supply chains.

The second group of solutions revolves around completing policies and regulations to improve the investment and trading environment as well as to ensure that Vietnam’s commitments are met.

“In to order to implement the EVFTA, the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI) has cooperated with the Ministry of Justice of Vietnam and relevant authorities to check related regulations and propose adding new regulations where it was necessary. The result shows that almost all EVFTA commitments relating to state management suit existing regulations,” Dung said.

“In order to maximally take advantages of the EVFTA and the EVIPA, the ministry will continue completing the regulatory system. One of our major missions is to build a decree guiding the implementation of the laws on Investment, Enterprises and PPP Investment so that all three can come into effect on time from January 1, 2021,” Dung said.

The third group of solutions is to rapidly implement plans to improve the competitive capacity of the economy. The MPI submitted the prime minister the national programme about supporting small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), startups, and innovations to join global value chains in the 2021-2025 period for approval. In addition, the ministry will accelerate taking the National Innovation Centre into operation to support these SMEs. Furthermore, the MPI is also building a policy to encourage and support enterprises to embrace digital transformation.

Building and completing policies to control and prevent disputes between the state and investors is the last solution. Notably, it is necessary to accompany investors after they implement their projects to deal with arising difficulties and problems to avoid disputes.

Vietnam, Japan foster cooperation in industry, trade, energy

The 4th meeting of the Vietnam-Japan Joint Committee on Cooperation in Industry, Trade and Energy was held in Hanoi on August 7 in the form of video conferencing.

The meeting was co-chaired by Vietnamese Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh and Japanese Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Kajiyama Hiroshi.

The ministers rejoiced at cooperation outcomes between the two sides since the 3rd meeting, especially collaboration within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), as well as cooperation in energy, automobile and chemical industries and industrial workforce training.

They reiterated the significance of the joint committee in removing difficulties for businesses and promoting cooperation between the two countries, particularly in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

They shared the view that Vietnam-Japan cooperation in trade, industry and energy should go with targets set in the ASEAN-Japan Economic Ministers’ Joint Statement on Initiatives on Economic Resilience in Response to the Coronavirus Disease, and the ASEAN-Japan Economic Resilience Action Plan.

Hiroshi lauded the leadership of Vietnam as ASEAN Chair 2020, and committed to further coordination with the country.

The two ministers highlighted diversity, transparency, and sustainability in building a firm supply chain in the industrial sector.

Anh said the Vietnamese Government pledges to perfect the investment environment in the time ahead to facilitate the operation of foreign investors in general and those from Japan in particular.

He appreciated Japan’s technical assistance in personnel development in the industrial sector over the past years.

The minister expressed his delight at projects in Vietnam included in Japan’s initiative on personnel development in the sphere of auto control software in ASEAN, to be rolled out for the first time this year.

He suggested applying Japan’s KOSEN model in personnel development in training facilities of the Vietnamese Ministry of Industry and Trade in order to improve capacity and create more added values for a number of key industries in Vietnam like chemicals, garment-textile, auto and supporting industries.

Both ministers pledged to make efforts for a free, fair, transparent, stable and foreseeable trade and investment environment in Asia-Pacific.

They reiterated commitments to promoting economic integration in Asia-Pacific, and agreed to support each other and closely coordinate at multilateral economic and trade cooperation frameworks of which the two countries are members.

They also discussed other issues like digital transformation, the fourth Industrial Revolution and the free flow of data with trust.

In the field of energy, they said the Nghi Son oil refinery is significant to both sides, and suggested the Vietnamese and Japanese governments facilitate the implementation of the project.

It is necessary to diversify energy resources, step up oil and gas cooperation and promote energy-related policies to meet the increasing demand for energy, they said.

The two countries will also foster collaboration in addressing global challenges like climate change, while mobilising financial resources, including private investment, for energy infrastructure projects and projects on free and competitive energy market development in Indo-Pacific through multilateral frameworks.


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