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Viet Nam already has regulations on labelling products, however, there are no criteria for how products are labelled ‘Made in Viet Nam’.

The statement was made by Tran Thi Thu Huong, director of the Centre for Commercial Document Certification of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), at a seminar held in Ha Noi on Wednesday.

According to the VCCI’s representative, each country has its own specific provisions for each type of product to be labelled.

For example, the US regulates that all products must be labelled in the originating country when exporting to the US. Except for some cases where goods are not likely to be marked such as fruit, markings on the packages can be applied.

China regulates labelling the origin for imported food products; the EU regulates for imported food and cosmetics products; Japan specifies for imported food, and Russian regulates for all consumer goods.

The concept of “Made in …” is closely linked to the rules of origin for products. The application of origin regulations is sometimes also used to protect the domestic market, Huong added.

She also proposed it necessary to have close coordination among authorities, especially the customs department, to strictly inspect the shipments of components imported into Viet Nam, and control the output shipments of Vietnamese enterprises.

Speaking at the conference, lawyer Tran Ngoc Trung, Senior Regulatory Advisor at Baker & McKenzie, said, in accordance with Viet Nam’s law, manufacturers and importers have the right and responsibility to determine the origin of products, but they must ensure compliance with the provisions of the law as well as the international agreements in which Viet Nam is participating.

The label ‘Made in …’ is very diverse and highly customisable, including in Viet Nam. In case a company's products had components imported from China and assembled in Viet Nam. If we apply the rules of ASEAN Free Trade Agreement, the product cannot be labelled "Made in Viet Nam" but with the regulations in the ASEAN-China Free Trade Agreement, Asanzo’s labelling is absolutely correct, Trung added.

Speaking at the seminar from the perspective of a consumer, lawyer Trung emphasised the significance of product quality rather than its origin label.

“Today, the label ‘Made in …’ is just for reference, quality is the core factor to attract users as well as the main value for branding businesses,” Trung said.

VN industrial market seizes opportunities from the automotive sector


BUSINESS NEWS 21/7,vietnam economy,Vietnam business news,business news,vietnamnet bridge,english news,Vietnam news,vietnamnet news,Vietnam latest news,Vietnam breaking news,Vietnamese newspaper,Vietnamese newspaper articles,news vietnam

The development of the domestic auto industry offers more opportunities for Viet Nam’s industrial market, according to the consulting firm CBRE Vietnam.

The automotive industry in Viet Nam is still underdeveloped in terms of manufacturing compared to other ASEAN countries, but the accumulation of industrial land banks for this industry has been increasing.

Le Hieu, CBRE Vietnam’s Director of Office, Industrial and Logistics Services, said big players in the market already plan to build enormous automotive manufacturing hubs such as THACO with the Chu Lai – Truong Hai Complex in Quang Nam Province and VinFast with its automotive complex in Hai Phong City.

Furthermore, well-known foreign car assemblers, including Toyota, Mitsubishi and Mercedes-Benz have been releasing their own expansion plans. The expansion is strongly supported by the rapid improvement of expressway networks and deep-sea ports connecting industrial and logistics hubs, he said.

Car part manufacturers and suppliers have also joined the game with increasing land enquiries recorded in recent years. Demand is generated widely from clients in all car parts production, implicating an enhanced automotive supply chain.

Thailand and the US, the two automotive giants of each respective continent, saw growth in their industrial real estate markets thanks to the concentration of automotive makers and suppliers in specific geographical locations. High occupancy and rising rental rates challenge the expansion of manufacturing and create a demand shift to emerging markets, according to CBRE Viet Nam.

"We are also seeing the same trends in Viet Nam when traditional industrial markets in the northern and southern areas are maturing with limited land banks and very high rents," said Hieu.

However, this could also be an opportunity for real estate developers to note the increasing demand for production expansion amid the current limited supply. At the same time, each region in Viet Nam has distinct competitive advantages based on the difference in business and production nature as well as land availability, he said.

The Vietnamese automobile industry still has much to do to reach a golden period and compete with regional rivals.

In Viet Nam, the manufacturing shift from mainland China, recent rapid changes in domestic regulations and international trade agreements have had a significant impact on the industrial market. From the real estate perspective, the most important aspect for market shift and macroeconomic conditions is the increased industrial land demand serving expansion of industrial production.

The role of policy-makers is considered the most vital, but the industry needs more than that to thrive, CBRE said. In which, industrial real estate developers can seize opportunities from the growth by offering not only land bank and storage space but also integrated industrial and logistics infrastructure, specialised in automotive manufacturing to car makers and suppliers.

Dang Thanh Son, Senior Advisor of Baker McKenzie Law Firm, said current policies are not stable while such policies have had great influence on foreign investors to Viet Nam.

Truong Minh Hanh, marketing director of the Viet Nam-Singapore Industrial Park in Bac Ninh Province, said now hundreds of companies have invested in the industrial sector. However, their biggest challenge is to find places for production as well as for residence of workers, especially skilled workers, he said.

Hanh said the State should not have too many incentives but should tighten policies to manage more effectively.

Rubber exports in June increased strongly

Viet Nam's rubber exports in June reached 122,760 tonnes, earning US$174.45 million, a month on month increase of 58.4 per cent in volume and 56.1 per cent in value, according to the General Department of Customs.

Those figures saw a small surge of 0.5 per cent in volume and 0.7 per cent in value compared to June 2018.

However, the average rubber export price in June stood at $1,421 per tonne, down 1.5 per cent compared to May but increasing 0.2 per cent compared to June 2018.

Rubber exports to the Chinese market in June fell sharply compared to the same period last year, while exports to India and Malaysia increased sharply, reported cafef.vn.

In the first six months of this year, rubber exports reached 614,390 tonnes worth $841.83 million, up 8.9 per cent in volume and 2.6 per cent in value year on year.

During the first six months, rubber exports to India and South Korea increased sharply, while there was slight surge in the exports to China and Malaysia.

Of which, the rubber exports to China, the largest export market of Vietnamese rubber, accounted for 55.7 per cent of Viet Nam's total rubber export volume.

The exports to China reached 387,110 tonnes, earning $523.9 million, in the first six months. Those figures rose by 6.6 per cent in volume and 0.8 per cent in value compared with the same period last year.

The average export price of Vietnamese rubber to China in the first six months reached $1,353 per tonne, down 5.4 per cent year on year.

According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, from the beginning of July 2019 until now, the price of domestic rubber latex decreased according to the trend on the global rubber market. 

Laimian City project developed in line with regulations

Regarding the information that the Laimian City project has been constructed without a construction license, a representative of Housing Development and Trading Joint Stock Company (HDTC), the project developer, said the project construction is legal as the project is exempted from the construction license.

The Laimian City project is located in the An Phu - An Khanh Urban Area complex in HCMC’s District 2 and was approved by the Prime Minister under Decision No. 1042/QD-TTg dated November 16, 1998. The site was allocated for the project under Decision No. 783/QD-TTg dated August 13, 1999.

The 1/500 detailed planning for the project was approved in line with Decision No. 3910/QD-UBND signed on March 29, 2010 by chairman of the District 2 government. The investor has completed the payment of land use fees for the whole project as well as other financial obligations.

Therefore, the investor is executing the project based on the Prime Minister’s decision by developing the entire urban infrastructure with traffic, electricity and water systems.

Under the prevailing regulations, the project is exempted from the construction license. Particularly, under Clause 2, Article 89 of the 2014 Construction Law, investors do not need to seek construction licenses for their projects if the projects are approved by the Prime Minister, ministers, heads of ministerial-level agencies and chairmen of the People's Committees at all levels.

Pursuant to Article 89 of the Construction Law, the Laimian City project is exempted from a construction license. Therefore, the information that the project is being executed without the approval of the competent agencies is inaccurate.

The project investor has completed procedures, receiving the project approval and land allocation decision from the Prime Minister, District 2’s approval of1/500 detailed planning and approvals by the HCMC government, the municipal Department of Planning and Architecture and the city’s chief architect.

As for items that need construction licenses, the investor has applied to the Ministry of Construction and the ministry will make a decision by July 30, 2019, according to a source from the Ministry of Construction.

The representative said the rumor might have been spread by HDTC’s rivals. HDTC will inform customers of its sales policies, apartment prices and payment process when the apartments are officially put up for sale.

The Laimian City apartment project, located in the An Phu - An Khanh Urban Area in District 2,a prime location in the new administrative center of District 2, covers 133 hectares and is divided into 12 functional areas for apartments, commercial centers and offices. Laimian City offers a great view of the city center with a lot of conveniences, so it attracts great interest of customers.

U.S. gets tough on Vietnamese goods’ origin traceability

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials will not pay much attention to certificates of origin provided by Vietnamese exporters for their products but will take steps to trace the origin of these products, said Nestor Sherbey, an expert from the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation.

At a seminar titled “From the United States-China trade war to EVFTA: How can Vietnamese enterprises utilize opportunities?,” held in HCMC today, July 16, Sherbey stated that there has been a surge in the volume of Vietnamese goods being shipped stateside, while a large volume of exports to this country in previous periods came from China. Therefore, the United States’ competent agencies have taken precautions and will take steps to make sure that the products are really being made in Vietnam.

According to U.S. customs officials, goods shipped by Vietnamese firms are not necessarily produced in Vietnam.

They will collect the required information and even launch investigations into Vietnamese products. Therefore, local exporters should provide information accurately and adequately, Sherbey added.

If violations are found, enterprises will receive heavy sanctions.

Sherbey said that 90% of the cases being addressed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection relate to the transport of Chinese goods to Vietnam and Thailand for re-export to the United States.

He also advised Vietnamese firms exporting products to the United States to take precautions by tracking all relevant statistics, complying with regulations in the importing market and seeking consultancy services from professional agencies.

According to Vu Thanh Tu Anh, Dean of Fulbright School of Public Policy and Management, the volume of Vietnamese goods exported stateside could not have increased sharply without the influx of Chinese goods into Vietnam.

For example, imports of electronic products from China to Vietnam in the first five months of this year rocketed 81% year-on-year, while exports of these products to the United States surged 72%. Similarly, the wood sector reported an increase of 35% in both imports from China and exports stateside.

Although there was not enough evidence to prove that Chinese enterprises consider Vietnam a transit point for their products to avoid high import duties in the United States, Vietnam should take steps to prevent possible negative effects, Anh said.

The country should work with both China and the United States and warn domestic firms not to pursue immediate benefits that would harm these sectors and the economy as a whole.

Vietnam should also enhance control over Chinese goods being shipped to Vietnam, Anh added.

He confirmed that the U.S.-China trade war is just an opportunity for Vietnam, noting that it is more important to improve domestic enterprises’ competitiveness.

FPT Shop receives orders for int’l products

Local retailer FPT Shop has expanded its ecommerce business by allowing customers to place orders for goods made in the United States and Japan on the shopping website hangmy.fptshop.com.vn through its business partner Amazon, a U.S.-based multinational ecommerce platform.

FPT Shop officially launched the cross-border ecommerce service on the occasion of Prime Day 2019, from July 15 to 17.

Customers can visit the website and choose from a wide selection of products, mainly those made in the United States, Japan and Germany, in terms of technology, fashion, cosmetics and travel, ranging from luxury to regular brands. They can also enjoy special discounts of up to 80% during the Prime Day event.

After choosing their favorite items, buyers must place a 50% or 100% deposit for their orders through the Payoo online payment gateway or when making a payment at over 500 FPT stores nationwide.

FPT Shop will send an SMS containing a one-time password to notify buyers that their products have been shipped to Vietnam. Buyers can get their items by visiting the nearest FPT store or through home delivery services.

Within 48 hours of joining Prime Day on its website, FPT Shop received 12,000 orders, worth almost VND10 billion.

It still offered multiple high-quality products from leading global brands at discounts of up to 50% to customers after the event.

P.H. Quan, a customer from Hanoi, said he had ordered Elac speakers and a Denon-branded amplifier worth a combined VND70 million on July 17 on the FPT Shop’s website, after searching for information on the products on multiple websites. FPT offered the items at reasonable prices and showed clear product origins, he stated.

The retailer added this cross-border ecommerce service to its platform from the second quarter of the year, as part of its business plan to generate additional revenue. It has gradually adopted purchasing policies and improved service quality after two months of piloting the service.

Prime Day is an annual celebration by Amazon, when special deals are offered at maximum discounts of 80%. The event is organized every July and is expected to encourage purchases during the off-peak shopping season.

PVN’s business result exceeds set target

The Vietnam Oil and Gas Group (PVN) gained 365.5 trillion VND (15.78 billion USD) in revenue in the first half of this year, or 18 percent higher than its six-month plan, heard a conference held by the group on July 17.

The corporation contributed more than 53 trillion VND to the state budget, 15 percent above its target.

During January-June, the State-owned firm generated around 11.52 billion kWh of electricity, exceeding its set plan by 246 million kWh, and produced 705,800 tonnes of nitrogenous fertiliser, or 71,000 tonnes higher than the goal.

Meanwhile, petroleum production hit 5.66 million tonnes, surpassing its plan by 48,000 tonnes.

The group enjoyed a solid first half despite considerable challenges, including slower recovery of crude oil prices, shortage of capital to carry out large projects, and decline in oil reserves, among others.

To fulfill this year's business goals, the group will keep a close eye on global oil prices, according to the PVN.

The firm also plans to rationally balance production output, export and processing of oil-gas and electricity so as to ensure targets set by the Government on raising gross domestic product, State budget collection and national energy security. It will also promote the use of scientific solutions and technology to improve efficiency.

COREPER passes signing of framework participation agreement with VN

The Committee of Permanent Representatives in the European Union (COREPER) has recently approved the signing of a Framework Participation Agreement (FPA) with Vietnam to establish the Southeast Asian nation’s participation framework in the bloc’s crisis management activities.

The FPA will be the second of its kind to be signed under the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) with an Asian nation after the Republic of Korea. Similar deals have been reached with New Zealand and Australia.

The EU has decided to send military advisors to Asia, starting with its delegation to ASEAN in Jakarta.

EVFTA to create new push for economic growth: Minister

The successful negotiations and signing of the free trade agreements with big partners will heighten Vietnam’s image in the world stage, creating a new push for the economic growth in the long term, Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh has said, refering to the trade deals recently inked with the EU.

Vietnam and the EU signed the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) and EU-Vietnam Investment Protection Agreement (EVIPA) at a ceremony in Hanoi on June 30.

The negotiations of the EVFTA concluded after six years. The deal, expected to be an engine for growth, would open up opportunities for Vietnamese enterprises to enter a market of 508 million consumers with a combined GDP of about 18 trillion USD, Anh told the Vietnam News Agency.

He described the EVFTA as a comprehensive, high-quality agreement that ensures a balance of benefits for both Vietnam and the EU, saying it is important to Vietnamese economy as it is hoped to make Vietnamese goods and services more competitive in the EU market.

Almost all Vietnam’s exports to the EU will see custom duties removed gradually following a short roadmap. It is the highest commitment so far from a partner to Vietnam in a FTA, he noted.

In the trade, service and investment areas, Vietnam’s commitments in the EVFTA are higher than those in the World Trade Organisation (WTO), in parellel with the EU’s highest commitments in the FTAs it signed recently, the minister said.

The trade deal does not include the near complete removal of tariff barriers but is also very comprehensive, covering a wide range of areas, from trade in goods, public procurement, trade defence and intellectual property. Therefore, he expected the agreement would not only boost exports from both directions but also help Vietnam improve its competitive edges and join new value chains.

Once the EVFTA takes effect, Vietnam will grant registration and protection to over 160 EU Geographical Indications (GIs) while the EU will do the same with 39 Vietnamese GIs.

 

The agreement also contains chapters in competition, state-owned enterprises, sustainable development, and cooperation and capacity building. These contents are consistent with Vietnam’s legislation, laying legal foundation for the two sides to foster partnership and the development of bilateral trade and investment, he noted.

Anh moved on to said that the EVFTA still needs to be ratified by parliaments of each side, and that Vietnam will have to go through another process of ratification to officially make it effective. Whether this process can be short or lengthy, it depends much on the efforts of both Vietnam and the EU, he added.

The EVFTA requires the EU to give its consent while the EVIPA will take longer to come into force due to the requirement for member states’ ratification.

All the EU member states have approved the signing of both the EVFTA and the EVIPA, which would certainly smooth the way for the ratification, he said.

He believed with the spirit and efforts both sides have demonstrated in the negotiation process, concerned agencies of Vietnam and the EU will complete the ratification at the soonest possible time.

Vietnam remains the EU’s second largest trading partner within the ASEAN. The two-way trade hit 55 billion USD last year with Vietnam mostly exporting to the EU telephone sets, electronic products, footwear, textiles and clothing, coffee, rice, seafood and furniture.

Under the EVFTA, Vietnam’s exports to the EU market are forecast to rise 4 – 6 percent compared to a non-FTA trade relation. Its exports are expected to touch 75 billion USD in 2028.

Vinh Tan int’l sea port welcomes first foreign vessel

The Vinh Tan international sea port in the southern province of Binh Thuan on July 17 received cargo vessel Spring Hummer of Belize, which was the first foreign ship to dock at the port.

It is a new development in export-import activities via sea route of the Vinh Tan port one month after receiving a certificate recognising it as a location for shipping inspection and monitoring.

The Belize vessel, with a deadweight tonnage of more than 9,000 tonnes, carried machinery for the expansion of the Vinh Tan 4 thermal power plant.

The welcome of an international ship at the port has opened up opportunities for the transport of large cargo in service of industrial and energy projects in Vietnam’s southern and Central Highland regions, thereby reducing time and costs for those projects.  

Motorbike sales drop in Q2

The number of motorbikes sold on the local market was 740,000 units in the second quarter of the year, dropping by over 4% year-on-year, which shows that the local market has likely reached its saturation point.

According to statistics released by the Vietnam Association of Motorcycle Manufacturers (VAMM), its five members---Honda Vietnam, Piaggio Vietnam, Suzuki Vietnam, SYM Vietnam and Yamaha Motor Vietnam---sell an average of 250,000 motorbikes per month, which means that some 8,300 units are purchased per day nationwide.

The sales excluded the number of exported motorbikes and those sold by other non-VAMM members such as Kymco, Ducati, Kawasaki and Harley Davidson.

VinFast is a non-VAMM member as well, so its sales of Klara smart electric bikes, which were launched on the local market in November last year, were not released.

In spite of being forecast to have reached its saturation point, the local motorbike market still has great potential for growth.

Speaking at a recent event, Keisuke Tsuruzono, president of VAMM and general director of Honda Vietnam, said that over three million motorbikes were sold in fiscal 2019 (from April 2018 to March 2019) in the country, up 2.7% year-on-year.

Among these, sales of Honda Vietnam increased by over 7% versus the fiscal 2018 figure to reach some 2.5 million units, accounting for 76% of the local market, and the remaining market share was owned by the other four VAMM members.

Gianluca Fiume, executive vice president of Piaggio Asia Pacific and chairman and general director of Piaggio Vietnam, told the local media that the number of high-end scooter users has been surging as the local economy is thriving and thus the local people’s average incomes are improving. The high-end scooter segment is expected to see strong sales in the coming period, he added.

Similarly, VAMM previously predicted that the local motorbike market has entered a saturation period, underlining a trend among the local people who are switching to using scooters. The scooter segment currently makes up 45% of the local market share and may see strong sales in the coming years as the average income per capita rises, according to VAMM.

Experts in the field also said that the motorbike is still a major mode of transport among the local people thanks to its economy and flexibility, particularly in urban areas where there are many alleyways that public vehicles find hard to access.

Housing supply may surge in second half

As there is no sign of a real estate bubble in the first six months of 2019, the local property market, mainly in HCMC and Hanoi City, is expected to see a strong rise in home supply in the second half of the year, according to a report from the Vietnam Association of Realtors.

The association was optimistic about the growth of the property market in the second half of the year, with the supply of property products likely to surge, the local media reported.

Discussing the performance of the real estate market in the second quarter, Nguyen Van Dinh, vice chairman of the association, said at a press briefing on July 17 that the country had supplied 19,000 apartments and 10,000 low-rise houses in the past three months.

He confirmed that these supplies were reportedly higher than figures seen in the first quarter, indicating a potential boom for the rest of the year.

Hanoi and HCMC made up large proportions of the supply, with Hanoi seeing over 7,300 apartments and 400 low-rise houses put up for sale. Meanwhile, HCMC had over 6,500 apartments and 700 low-rise houses on sale. These figures were higher than those in the first quarter.

In the second quarter, the majority of Hanoi City’s housing supply was in the mid-end segment, with over 5,700 apartments. Of the total, some 4,200 mid-end apartments were sold successfully.

In HCMC, more than 4,500 mid-end apartments were put up for sale in the second quarter and up to 3,400 units found buyers.

The association stated that of the total 50,000 real estate products put up for sale in the first half of the year, over 32,000 units were sold. However, the supply and the sale of property products declined against the year-ago period.

HCMC saw the supply plunge 39.1% year-on-year, whereas Hanoi City experienced a year-on-year drop of 46.8% in the supply of real estate products in the first six months.

The vice chairman of the association acknowledged that during the six-month period, the property market, despite a decline in the supply and sale of units against the year-ago period, remained stable, with high demand in the two localities.

House prices rose slightly during the period, but a real estate bubble did not form, he said.

Lack of incentives hinders HCMC from becoming international financial hub

The lack of preferential policies for HCMC has been a hindrance to the city’s development into an international financial center, stated HCMC Chairman Nguyen Thanh Phong.

At a seminar held today, July 17, on a plan to develop HCMC into an international financial center, Phong said special policies are a decisive factor in the plan’s execution, Sai Gon Giai Phong newspaper reported.

The lack of high-skilled human resources is also a major obstacle, Phong noted.

Phong told the seminar that the city expected experts, scientists and representatives of enterprises to comment on the current financial market, from which the city can work out strategies for transforming into a financial center in the region and the world as a whole.

The role of financial markets has been confirmed. It is an important capital channel for the economy and helps reduce enterprises’ reliance on bank loans.

In 2001, HCMC determined finance was one of the nine key services of the city. At present, the finance sector reports an annual growth rate of 8.8% and accounts for 5.7% of the city’s gross regional domestic product.

The sector helps the city mobilize some VND460 trillion (US$19.8 million) per year.

The international financial center, when in place, must attract large enterprises and financial institutions. The city will accept the loss of immediate benefits to ensure greater achievements in the future, Phong said.

At the seminar, Vu Thanh Tu An, a member of the prime minister’s economic advisory group, stated that HCMC was an ideal location for developing services. The city should focus on boosting the development of financial services to gradually become an international financial hub, serving the demands of the country, the region and the world.

The city set a target to become an international financial center many years ago but has yet to reach the target, An stated, proposing that the city keep pace with developments in the regional and global markets and create breakthroughs in the sector.

Economic expert Tran Du Lich pointed out that developing HCMC into an international financial hub is a national task, not HCMC’s responsibility alone. Therefore, the Government must issue policies and directives to help HCMC successfully execute the plan.

Agriculture ministry asked to ensure food supply in year-end

The Government has urged the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) to mobilise resources and engage the whole political system and community to prevent the spread of African swine fever, restructure the animal breeding sector and ensure foodstuff supply for year-end occasion.

In Resolution No. 50/NQ-CP, the Government also asked the ministry to work with central agencies to direct coastal localities to guide fishermen in sustainable fisheries exploitation and prevent illegal fishing.

The ministry should keep a close eye on weather developments, thus directing localities on natural disaster, flood and drought prevention, ensuring water supply for production, preventing wildfires and protecting dykes and dams, according to the resolution.

In the resolution, the Government also asked the Ministry of Health to improve the quality of healthcare services with greater focus on local hospitals.

The ministry should strengthen IT application, while popularising medical knowledge in the national digital knowledge system and strengthening inspection and settlement of violations in food safety.

At the same time, the Ministry of Education and Training was asked to implement the Law on amendments and supplementations to a number of articles in the Tertiary Education Law, and the revised Education Law, while guiding localities in personnel training, building safe education environment and prevent violations at schools.

Thua Thien-Hue develops community-based tourism

Feasting the eyes with tree-lined tracks, typical Hue-style garden houses, ancient ruong houses, as well as the making of paper lotus and incense sticks are among a thousands of things that impress foreigners when engaging in a community-based tours in Thua Thien-Hue province.

Bestowed with stunning landscapes, cultural charm of an imperial city, and diverse cultures of ethnic minorities, the central coastal locality boasts huge potential to branch out community-based tourism.

However, the development of this model still lags behind expectation as poor infrastructure, lack of attractive tours, and unqualified human resources make the community-based tourism lure only some 300,000 visitors a year.

Local authorities have decided to carry out several policies to support community-based tourism until 2025. Accordingly, more than 30.8 trillion VND (1.33 billion USD) will be earmarked to help 14 community-based tourism sites improve services and infrastructure, 70 percent of which comes from the province’s budget, and the remainder are corresponding funds of districts, township and Hue city.

A maximum of 2 billion VND will be allocated to the construction of a road connecting national highway, provincial road, and district roads with one tourism site, while expenditure to upgrade and build new inner road at the site is 1.5 billion USD.

About 200 million VND is set aside for the construction of a parking lot.

Besides, owner of each accommodation facility with three rooms or more is supported with a maximum 100 million VND to build new rooms, and 50 million VND to repair the infrastructure.

In addition, money will be used to help local people restore folk art performances, traditional crafts and cuisine, as well as develop eco-tourism products.

The tourism sector will organise vocational training courses on community-based tourism and foreign language training classes, helping local business owners and tour guides provide good services to the visitors.

VN, Latvia to boost trade cooperation

Viet Nam and Latvia have maintained close diplomatic relations, however, trade relations are not commensurate with the potential of the two countries.

The statement was made by the vice chairman of the Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), Doan Duy Khuong, at the Viet Nam-Latvia Business Forum held in Ha Noi on Wednesday.

In 2017, Viet Nam and Latvia celebrated 25 years of diplomatic relations with important achievements in all fields of politics - diplomacy, economy - trade, security - defence, science - technology, education - training, culture and tourism. The two sides also regularly support each other at international forums.

Regarding trade, the two countries have made positive progress in recent years, according to VCCI’s representative.

Currently, Viet Nam is Latvia's largest trading partner in Southeast Asia and Latvia is also Viet Nam's largest trading partner among the Baltic countries with bilateral turnover in 2018 of US$186.1 million, up ten times compared with 2010.

The proportion of imports from Viet Nam accounts for about 0.86 per cent of Latvia's total imports.

In particular, Viet Nam's main export products to this market are machinery, electronic equipment and mechanical parts, which account for 90 per cent, while the rest is made up of agricultural products, aquatic products, textiles and footwear.

Viet Nam mainly imports rubber, wood products, textile materials, shoes, machinery and equipment from Latvia.

However, Khuong added, enterprises of the two countries do not have much information about each other's investment and business environment, as well as little opportunity to contact and create trust in business, thus, two-way trade relations are still modest.

At the forum, representatives of the two countries introduced market information and connected Vietnamese businesses with Latvian businesses operating in the fields of information technology; wood processing; chemicals and pharmaceuticals; heating and cooling technologies; marketing and consulting.

According to VCCI’s vice chairman, the potential of trade and investment cooperation between Viet Nam and Latvia is still very high. The organisation of the Viet Nam-Latvia Business Forum will create a bridge for businesses of the two countries to understand each other, thereby increasing trade.

The event is in the framework of the visit of the Latvian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Edgars Rinkevics to Viet Nam, in order to strengthen cooperation between Vietnamese and Latvian enterprises.

VN, South Korea trade, investment ties on strong footing: seminar

South Korea has increased investment in Viet Nam in the last few years, and this trend is expected to continue, a seminar heard in HCM City on Tuesday.

Nguyen Thi Huyen Ngoc, head of the investment promotion division at the Investment Promotion Centre in the south, said South Korea had been the biggest foreign investor in Viet Nam for many years, investing over US$64.5 billion mainly in manufacturing (74.1 per cent), real estate (13.3 per cent) and construction (4.3 per cent).

With its stable political situation, rapid economic growth, clear and transparent investment policies, large workforce, improved infrastructure, and regional and global economic integration, Viet Nam is an attractive investment destination, including for Korea, according to Ngoc.

Its ceiling income tax rate of 20 per cent is equal to or lower than that of other Southeast Asian countries, except Singapore, which is also an important factor.

Kim Hyung-Joo of the South Korean Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said more than 6,200 Korean firms had invested in Viet Nam and the number would increase in future.

Korea is now Viet Nam's fourth largest trade partner and largest foreign investor after their trade expanded rapidly over the years.

“Viet Nam is an important investment and trade partner for South Korea, especially in our New Southern Policy that is based on the '3Ps' of People, Peace and Prosperity.”

Since establishing diplomatic ties in 1992 the two countries had developed close ties, with trade going up from just $500 million in 1992 to $68.3 billion last year, he said.

The Viet Nam-Korea Free Trade Agreement that took effect in 2015 had contributed greatly to boosting investment and trade ties between the two sides, he said.

His ministry had inaugurated the VKFTA Support Centre in Ha Noi and HCM City to enable businesses from the two countries to make use of the FTA, he said.

Choi Dae-Kyoo, certified customs consultant at Shinhan Customs Service Inc, said Viet Nam had two trade deals with Korea, the ASEAN-Korea FTA and the VKFTA, and trading companies could choose either.

However, businesses must make good preparations to better utilise FTAs, he said.

The seminar also spoke about the opportunities and challenges from the EU-Viet Nam FTA and the Comprehensive, Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, and the US-China trade war.

Ngoc spoke about investment procedures in Viet Nam, tax breaks offered to priority sectors and projects for which investment is solicited.

Still work to do to reform specialised inspections

Reform of management procedures and inspections for export and import goods has changed little in the first half of this year, according to the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI).

During six months, ministries and sectors removed 50 per cent of goods from the list of products under specialised management and inspection.

However, according to the MPI, there are still more than 77,400 goods under specialised management and inspection. The average time for a specialised inspection is 76 hours per procedure, nearly three times higher than in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines.

Procedural reforms were mainly to change the inspection step after customs clearance.

Businesses and other relevant ministries have asked the Ministry of Industry and Trade to review specialised management and inspection procedures for some products under the ministry's management because they have caused businesses to waste time and pay more fees. However, the ministry has not yet reviewed the goods in question.

The procedures businesses have requested to be reviewed include the checks on formaldehyde limits for textile products, energy efficiency tests and requests for additional licences for alcohol distribution.

Although Viet Nam has been working to reform the system, businesses say there is still a gap between policies and their needs. They continue to recommend changes to administrative procedures, investment conditions and laws.

Viet Nam is still targeting having one million businesses in operation by 2020, but the MPI says challenges including the implementation of support policies for small- and medium-sized enterprises could make the goal difficult to achieve.