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With good results seen in the first seven months of this year, experts forecast that the revenue target of 4.2 billion USD in vegetable and fruit exports for 2019 is reachable.

Earnings from vegetable and fruit exports in the first seven months of the year are estimated at 2.3 billion USD, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s Processing and Market Development Authority (AgroTrade).

China remained the biggest export market of Vietnam in the reviewed period, accounting for 71.9 percent of the market share. Vietnam’s vegetable and fruit exports to China reached 1.5 billion USD.

The General Department of Vietnam Customs reported that high growth was also recorded in many other markets in the first half of 2019, including Indonesia (339 percent), Italy (208 percent), Laos (161.8 percent), and Hong Kong (133.3 percent).

Last year, fruit and vegetable export revenue reached 3.8 billion USD, up 8.8 percent year on year.

Experts held that the EU is a promising market for Vietnamese vegetables and fruits, despite strict requirements in quality and food safety.

In the first half of 2019, Vietnam shipped 73.1 million USD worth of vegetables and fruits to the EU market.

Pham Tuan Long, deputy head of the agro-forestry-aquatic product import-export division under the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Import-Export Department, said average vegetable output of Vietnam reaches 14.6 million tonnes per year, while that of fruits is 7 million tonnes per year.

In order to optimise great potential of foreign markets, the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development are working together to open markets for Vietnamese longan, litchee, rambutan to the Republic of Korea, Brazil, Argentina, and Vietnamese star apple to the US, grapefruit and custard apple to China.

To date, nine Vietnamese fruits have been allowed to be officially imported into the Chinese market, namely dragon fruit, water melon, litchee, longan, banana, mango, jackfruit, rambutan and mangosteen.-

Cooperative turns Son La coffee into profitable business

Son La has successfully applied research and technologies to develop a thriving coffee business.

Enlisting the help of experts from the US and Germany, the Bich Thao coffee cooperative in Son La city’s Hua La commune has adopted the honey processing technology for coffee products for export.

Using locally-grown Arabica beans, the cooperative’s honey coffee has received warm response from overseas customers despite its high price of 22 USD per kg of ground coffee, compared to 1.8-2 USD for a kg of bean processed in the traditional wet method.

According to Bich Thao cooperative’s director Nguyen Xuan Thao, his cooperative has received orders for tens of tonnes of honey coffee from European and American countries.

Bich Thao has signed contracts to buy coffee beans from 300 local farms, whose plantations spanning nearly 1,000 hectares in total. In the 2018-19 crop, the cooperative bought 12,500 tonnes of beans for processing. Its products, including green/roasted coffee bean and ground coffee, have been shipped to Germany, the US, the UK, France and Thailand.

It is noteworthy that the cooperative has researched and successfully manufactured several kinds of processing machines. In 2016, the cooperative put into use the first pulper machine designed by itself. Since then, it received between 300 and 400 orders for the machine from coffee farmers in Son La, Dien Bien, and the Central Highlands on an annual basis, reeling in dozens of billions of VND.

The cooperative later designed a coffee processing machine that covers all steps from cherry to cup.

Bich Thao’s coffee with the trademark Son La organic coffee has been selected among 18 outstanding local products to be developed under the province’s One Commune One Product (OCOP) programme for 2019.

Coffee was first introduced into Son La and other northern provinces in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by French colonialists, turning this region into an important producer of raw Arabica coffee for the French coffee industry of the time.

The coffee area in Son La has been expanded, concentrating in Mai Son and Thuan Chau districts and Son La city, especially since 1995 when the provincial People’s Committee approved a project to plant 3,000ha of coffee trees. The tree is considered a key plant for local poverty reduction and economic development.

Up to 80 percent of local coffee beans are exported to the US, Japan and some other countries.

Saigon Beauty Show to debut next month

The first Saigon Beauty Show will be held in HCM City from September 5 to 7.

Co-located with K Beauty Vietnam Expo, the event is expected to attract more than 100 exhibitors from South Korea and Southeast Asian countries.

It will showcase a wide range of products such as cosmetics, hair care, nail care and health products and spa, beauty and aesthetic equipment.

Displaying them will be leading international brands such as Elluks, Inkoa, Woosin Cosmetics, Pongdang, Banobagi, Medicare Domax, Erlin, Saenggreen, Enable International, and The Skin Master.

A B2B matchmaking programme will be held during the show.

With support from the Korea Trade and Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA), more than 100 leading VIP buyers from Southeast Asian countries have been invited to the show to connect with the participating businesses.

To be held at GEM Centre in District 1, which has a large number of distributors, cosmetics shops, beauty salons, spas, hair salons, nail salons, makeup studios, and customers with high demand for beauty products, the show will be an ideal forum to strike business ties for Vietnamese and international enterprises.

It will be organised by the Korea International Exhibition Center and Minh Vi Exhibition and Advertisement Services Co., Ltd.

Solutions to ease HCM City’s low-priced house shortage proposed

Ho Chi Minh City Real Estate Association (HOREA) have recommended some solutions to ease the city’s low-priced house shortage amid rapid population growth.

According to the association, HCM City is now home to around 9 million people which shows an increase of 1.83 million against 2009 or a rise of around 180,000 people per year on average.

HCM City’s average housing area was estimated at 19.75 square metres per person compared to 25 square metre of the whole country.

The HOREA suggested that the city needs to have incentives to encourage businesses to carry out housing projects for low-income earners.

At present, state employees in HCM City can get a loan of up to VND900 million (USD39,130) from the municipal budget with a preferential interest rate of 4.7% per annum for 15 years to buy houses. Regarding this, the association proposed the capital increase for the fund and expanding the beneficiary.

The association has urged to focus on infrastructure development in the city’s suburban districts such as Cu Chi, Hoc Mon, Binh Chanh and Can Gio to serve housing projects. This would help mitigate traffic jams in the city centre.

Municipal authorities should also simplify administrative procedures in licensing low-priced housing projects. In addition, it is necessary to use 20% of the area of commercial housing projects of 10ha or more for building low-priced houses.

In the association’s opinion, the selection of investors for housing projects needs to guarantee transparency.

Vietnam: Asia’s bright spot amid trade tensions

Amid the trade tensions between the United States and China, Vietnam has been one of Asia’s bright spots with the expectation of economy growth of 6.7 per cent in 2019 thanks to robust domestic demand and increasing foreign direct investment (FDI).

This assessment was announced yesterday in Hanoi by the researchers of Global Economics and Markets Research, United Overseas Bank (UOB) at a seminar on the Vietnamese economy and its growth dynamics as well as economic trends for the remaining months of 2019.

In the first half of this year, the economy grew by 6.8 per cent year-on-year. All major sectors recorded notable growth, buoyed by manufacturing, construction, and wholesale and retail, which rose by 13, 9.2, and 8.5 per cent, respectively. Tourism also sees a bright outlook with the number of international arrivals surging by 20 per cent.

“We are projecting Vietnam’s GDP growth to reach 6.7 per cent [generally in line with the official growth target of 6.8 per cent] and inflation of around 3.4 per cent for 2019. This will rank Vietnam as one of the fastest-growing economies in the world,” Manop Udomkerdmongkol, economist of UOB, said.

According to the experts, geographic proximity to China, a young labour pool, competitive wages, multilateral trade privileges, and FDI incentives have helped position Vietnam as an attractive investment destination in Asia, laying out a positive growth trajectory for the country in the years ahead.

In first seven months of 2019, Vietnam has recorded 2,064 new projects, 25 per cent higher than in the same period in 2018, setting a new record.

Referring to the causes, UOB said that following the general trend, relocating production facilities to alternative locations has enhanced the shift of global capital flows to destinations not only in Vietnam but also in other ASEAN countries.

The International Monetary Fund's balance of payments analysis also showed a sharp increase in FDI inflows to the ASEAN since the beginning of the third quarter of 2018, when the US-China trade war began to escalate.

“Based on the average FDI inflows to each ASEAN country, it can be assumed that Vietnam and Malaysia are the main beneficiaries of this capital shift,” Manop said.

Another strength of Vietnam as an export production base is its excellent network of trade agreements. A total of 13 free trade agreements (FTAs) have been signed and another three are under negotiation. This means that Vietnamese exports to significant parts of the world are free from tariffs, offering opportunities for manufacturers relocating to Vietnam to sell to more partners at minimal cost.

Eliminating import tariffs on goods, particularly the ones traded in the CPTPP and the EVFTA, will push Vietnam towards domestic reforms and enhance the country’s competitiveness in the medium term. Besides, they also help improve the quality of FDI, attracting more capital to industries like processing and manufacturing, high-tech applications, clean energy, and financial services.

However, one constraining factor for Vietnam is the relatively large proportion of the labour force engaged in the agricultural sector. This could inhibit the manufacturing sector's speed of development in the near-to-medium term, due to the limited supply of skilled workers.

Over the mid- to long-term, Vietnam is striving for sustainable development by tapping into Industry 4.0 to help improve growth quality and elevate standards of living. According to UOB, the government has shown its resolve and determination in carrying out policies related to Industry 4.0, helping to underpin Vietnam’s growth potential in the years ahead.

Regarding monetary policy, UOB predicts that the State Bank will maintain the refinancing rate at 6.25 per cent this year. With current deposit rates, monetary policy continues to create favourable conditions to help GDP grow steadily, and keep prices stable.

To prepare for changes from external factors, according to UOB, it will be important to maintain policies, especially amidst the US-China trade tension.

Interval International assigns first partner in Vietnam

Interval International, one of the world's leading quality vacation exchange networks, has assigned Liv Resort as its first partner in Vietnam.

Accordingly to the assignment from Interval International, customers of LiV Resorts will be entitled to exchange vacations within the international system of over 3,200 high-quality hotels and resorts (with the highest 4 and 5 stars ratio) located at the best locations of travel destinations in 80 nations around the world, including the best choices of prestigious hotel systems such as Anantara, Accor, Marriott, Hyatt, Four Seasons, Starwood, offering many privileges exclusive for Interval International members.

According to Kit Whalley, representative of Interval International, the company's goal is to bring the best experience to vacation owners wherever they travel to.

“LiV Resorts' entry into the system is a continuous quality offer to our customers, and it is also an open door for Vietnamese travel lovers to our top leisure destinations globally," sais Whalley.

Nguyen Ky Tam Anh, CEO of LiV Resorts, said that vacation ownership has been a famously effective trend of travelling around the world since the 1960s. However, Vietnamese travellers only found out about this concept in recent years, opening new opportunities for vacation ownership providers in the market.

According to a Reuters report, the global vacation ownership market is valued at $13.5 billion in 2019 and is expected to grow to $21.4 billion by 2024.

“This shows the tremendous potential and attraction of this concept to customers around the world,” said Anh.

She added that in Vietnam, LiV Resorts offers Vietnamese customers a brand new vacation ownership product, which enables them to create life-long experiences and memories at a reasonable cost.

In addition to providing accommodation services, the vacation ownership package from LiV Resorts is also a smart investment that helps save time and cost as well as provides diverse life experiences.

Founded in early 2018, LiV Resorts is the vacation ownership provider that owns 44 apartments of 5-star quality from one to three bedrooms located in The Pearl Hoian compound.

With an area of more than 8.1 hectares, The Pearl Hoian is situated at An Bang Beach – one of the 25 most beautiful beaches in the world, according to Trip Advisor Asia.

This is a large-scale tourism and entertainment complex, bringing together the features of a high-class resort such as a private beach, up to 4,000 square metres of children's and adults’ swimming pools, a 20,000sq.m shopping centre, bowling area, clubs, and especially Lotte Cinema with a capacity of up to 500 people.

The entire operation is managed by 5-star residence management group The Ascott Limited from Singapore.

Currently, LiV Resorts is offering vacation ownership package of fixed week units throughout a period of 35 years.

The rates vary according to room type and week type from about $11,800 to $18,000 per week per unit in 35 years. Especially, in addition to traveling value, this product can also be used as a gift, rental property, inheritance or transfer, to meet customers' needs for flexibility and liquidity of long-term investments.

Vietnam remains attractive to Japanese investors

Vietnam has been an attractive destination for Japanese investors and experts predicted that more Japanese firms will come to do business in the Southeast Asian country thanks to its economic growth and integration advantages.

At the Mergers & Acquisitions Forum 2019 that took place in Ho Chi Minh City in early August, Tamotsu Majima, senior director of Recof Japan, said that transactions of Japanese firms with Vietnam reached a record figure, with 21 transactions in the first seven months of 2019.

A report issued by the Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO) in early 2019 showed that 65.3 percent of 787 Japanese enterprises in Vietnam enjoyed high profits in 2018.

The localisation ratio of the firms rose from 23.7 percent in 2008 to 36.3 percent in 2018, showing their commitments for long-term operations in Vietnam, according to the report.

Takimoto Koji, JETRO Chief Representative in HCM City, noted that in 2018, Japan was the biggest foreign investors in Vietnam with combined registered capital of 7.98 billion USD in 630 projects.

As many as 70 percent of Japanese companies in Vietnam said that they will expand their operations in Vietnam in 2019, mostly in the manufacturing, trade, service, retail and real estate sectors, he said.

Koji revealed that on September 11, a delegation of 47 Japanese businesses in fisheries, manufacturing, wine, functional food, breeding, and confectionary will visit Vietnam to seek partners.

Japanese companies are focusing on mergers and acquisitions. According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, of 755 million USD of Japanese investment in the first seven months of this year, 374 million USD was poured into M&A deals.

Masahiro Kotaka, CEO of KPMG Japan, said that the Vietnamese and Japanese economy are getting closer, giving more chances for businesses of both sides to foster their partnerships.

At the M&A Forum 2019, Japanese firms also expressed their belief that the flow of Japanese investment in Vietnam will continue to rise in the coming time.

Due to the fierce competition from investors from other Asian countries in Vietnam, they should work harder to gain successes in the Vietnamese market, Kotaka stressed.

Ministry proposes major solutions to fuel economy in central region

The Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI) proposed three large groups of solutions to boost economic development in the central region, during a conference held in Binh Dinh province on August 20.

The first group relates to the building of policies and mechanisms.

The MPI asked relevant ministries, departments and localities to speed up the building of regional and provincial planning schemes according to the Planning Law.

It suggested building modern coastal urban areas and improving the North-South and the East-West transport systems connecting seaports and coastal provinces with the Central Highlands.

In addition, ministries and sectors should build new strategies and plans ensuring the harmonious combination between the preservation and development of coastal areas, exclusive economic zones, and continental shelf.

It is also necessary to build a national marine spatial planning and a general plan for sustainable use of coastal resources, according to the MPI.

The second group of solutions refers to the connection between fields and sectors.

The MPI proposed boosting the shift of economic structure according to the regional advantages in association with the implementation of the 12th Party Central Committee’s resolution on sustainable development strategy of Vietnam’s marine economy through 2030, with a vision to 2045.

Building brands and products with high added values and increasing the application of science and technology in highly competitive industrial sectors to join global value and production chains are one of the solutions.

Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyen Chi Dung suggested enhancing regional connectivity.

The central region should coordinate with the Central Highlands in storing and regulating water resources, and continuously implementing the Government’s decree on aquatic development policies.

It also needs to boost coordination between localities in and out of the region to promote investment, mobilise and arrange financial resources, build socio-economic infrastructure, increase training and employment, and build inter-regional tourism routes and programmes, the minister recommended.

The MPI also proposed developing multi-target infrastructure to connect the regional transport network with the nation’s economic hubs, industrial parks, economic zones, urban areas, coastal regions, and seaports.

The last group of solutions is about resources. According to the MPI, the region should prioritise the State’s resources to consolidating the regional apparatus and giving decision-making rights to the council of the key central economic region.

It is necessary to have a specific financial mechanism to serve the council’s activities.
Minister Dung suggested enhancing science cooperation and technology transfer in the region.

 

The ministry proposed the Government to soon build and share a common database system on cities and provinces in the central region as well as economic sectors, social fields and progresses of key projects in the region.

It held that the development of the economy should go with the development of culture, society, social welfares, environmental protection, and security-defence.

Export turnover to countries with FTAs enjoys robust growth

Vietnam's exports to markets that have signed FTAs with Vietnam have recorded robust growth during the seven-month peirod, according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT),

Topping the list were exports to Japan, the Republic of Korea, and the ASEAN market which have enjoyed rises of 9.3 per cent, 4.4 per cent, and 5.4 per cent to US$11.4 billion, US$10.4 billion, and US$15.1 billion, respectively.

In addition, exports to new markets under the Comprehensive and Progressive Partnership Agreement (CPTPP) have experienced positive growth with exports to both Canada and Mexico increasing 1 per cent and 24.2 per cent to US$2.18 billion and US$1.6 billion, respectively.

Pham Tat Thang, former director of the MoIT’s Centre for Industry and Trade Information, attributed the increase in export turnover and economic growth during the reviewed period to the signing several FTAs and attraction of additional foreign direct investment to the country.

Of the FTAs signed, the CPTPP and the Vietnam-EU Free Trade Agreement are considered to be most significant agreements, which have allowed domestic goods to penetrate deeper into a number of demanding markets.

The CPTPP is regarded as a new-generation and high-quality trade deal which has allowed countries to take full advantage of the agreement to boost exports. To make the most of the CPTPP deal, Vietnam has focused on key products such as textiles, footwear, telephones, in addition to aquatic and seafood products.

Thang expressed his belief that during the remaining months of the year, the import and export of goods will continue to enjoy bright prospects, particularly with FTAs being fully tapped.

In particular, if the EU removes the yellow card for Vietnamese seafood and other commodity exports to the trading bloc will prosper in the coming time. He also raised concerns regarding the decrease in export turnover of a number of traditional products such as rice, coal, and oil, which all require domestic businesses to make great strides in their export activities in the future.

Promising signs lay ahead for Japanese FDI inflow

A number of positive signs are emerging from the trend in which Japanese firms look to shift their investment to Southeast Asian countries, including Vietnam, with many viewing the country as one of the most attractive investment destinations across the region.

Over half of the Japanese firms surveyed by Ishikawa prefecture confirmed that they have planned to move their production bases to Southeast Asian countries instead of continuing their investments in China. Of which, Vietnam has emerged as a reliable investment destination.

Tanimoto Masanori, the mayor of Ishikawa prefecture, made the statement at a recent meeting with representatives of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Many queried firms have placed importance on making investments in the Vietnamese market as they appreciate the hard-working spirit of Vietnamese workers, the mayor quoted their comments as saying.

According to a report released by the Japan External Trade Organization in Hanoi in early 2019, up to 70 per cent of the reviewed Japanese firms voice their hope to expand their production in Vietnam.

In fact, Japan topped the list of foreign investors in Vietnam with its foreign direct investment (FDI) reaching nearly US$8 billion in 2018. Japanese FDI accounted for 31 per cent of the total FDI inflows into the Southeast Asian country.

2018 is the third consecutive year in which Vietnam attracted a record level of Japanese FDI with 630 projects. It is also the fourth consecutive year which saw an increasing number of Japanese companies enlarging their production in the country.

The Mekong Delta has grown into a magnet for Japanese FDI. As of last October, the region had lured 169 FDI projects with a total registered capital of US$2.2 billion, 10.5 per cent of combined FDI inflows into the region. Can Tho city in particular had attracted seven Japanese-invested projects, totally valued at US$12 million.

Nguyen Phuong Lam, head of the VCCI branch in Can Tho, noted that Japan enjoys considerable advantage in cutting-edge technologies which could serve as an effective supplement to the Mekong Delta’s agricultural production as the region inclines towards boosting the sustainability of agricultural production coupled with increasing high-tech application.

Among nationwide regions, the Mekong Delta has enjoyed the highest economic growth with an annual average growth rate of 7.8 per cent. The processing of agro-aquatic products has remained as a major contributor to the region’s economic growth while half of the region’s shrimp exports are regularly shipped to Japan, Lam added.

He noted that the increasing interest from Japanese investors into the Mekong Delta represents a positive signal for the overall economic outlook.

A promising outlook lays ahead for cooperation between the Mekong Delta and Japanese investors. Potentially, both sides are looking to build an area dedicated to producing safe agricultural products and those for export.

Can Tho city was mentioned as a good example that have managed to offer a number of investment incentives aimed at luring FDI from Japan. The Vietnam - Japan Friendship Industrial Park, which covers at least 30 hectares in Cai Rang district, serves as a boost to the attraction of FDI inflows.

Okamoto Akihiro, owner of an agricultural firm in Japan, highlighted the Mekong Delta’s advantage in maritime resources, fertile soil, and minerals. Therefore, a slew of Japanese firms are eyeing investment and business opportunities in Can Tho city and the Mekong Delta at large.

Vo Tan Thanh, Vice Chairman of the VCCI, said that the country has been striving to maintain its stable and favourable investment climate for foreign investors, including those from Japan, amidst escalating US-China trade frictions.

“It’s high time to make investment in the Vietnamese market as the Government has been making determined efforts to enhance administrative reforms and create favourable conditions for businesses”.

As a result, more than 50 per cent of the total conditional business lines have so far been eliminated, Thanh said, citing remarks made by the World Bank as saying that the domestic business climate has made progress in the past time.

Mekong province seeks investment in hi-tech agricultural park

The Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta province of Hau Giang continues to solicit investment in its hi-tech agriculture park, including in its infrastructure.

According to Truong Canh Tuyen, deputy chairman of its People’s Committee, who spoke at a conference for the purpose on Monday, the province has great potential in agriculture with over 140,000ha of arable land.

It has areas for producing safe agricultural products as well as for high-quality rice, sugarcane, pineapple, citrus fruits, and aquaculture.

It has established a 5,200ha hi-tech agricultural park in Long My District and is seeking investment in it, including for developing infrastructure.

According to Nguyen Viet Trieu, deputy director of the Hau Giang Hi-Tech Applied Agricultural Park’s management board, the park has collaborated with local and international investors to test several biological products, carried out many scientific projects and applied their results.

But it still lacks infrastructure and has limited funds for investment promotion.

Therefore the conference was an opportunity for the province to introduce the park's potential, advantages, investment opportunities, and investment incentives, he said.

It was also a good platform to compare notes with other localities on developing hi-tech agricultural parks and expand co-operation with local and foreign investors, he said.

He suggested the managements of hi-tech agricultural parks in other provinces and cities should share their experience with the park in transferring technologies to farmers and attracting and incubating hi-tech agricultural firms.

He called on scientists and schools to partner with the park to enable more research to be applied practically in production to increase the value of agricultural products and farmers’ incomes.

Many other issues were also discussed at the conference, including the use of automation to improve the efficiency of agriculture, producing mushrooms in climate-adapted greenhouses, linkages in agricultural production: solutions for Viet Nam's agriculture to develop effectively and sustainably, and drip irrigation: applicability for the Mekong Delta and areas that were affected by saltwater.

The event, organised by the Hau Giang Hi-Tech Applied Agricultural Park’s management board, attracted more than 100 agriculture and rural development officials from many provinces and cities; leaders of research institutes, universities and colleges and executives from local and foreign companies.

Insurance industry targets 20 per cent growth this year

The country’s insurance sector has targeted a growth rate of 20 per cent this year, according to the Viet Nam Insurance Association.

Bui Gia Anh, the association’s general secretary, said the insurance market had maintained its strong growth so far this year.

The mechanisms and policies in the insurance industry were nearly complete while businesses had secured their financial security to become more competitive and effective, Anh said.

The total assets of insurance companies in the first seven months of the year were estimated at VND423.4 trillion (US$18.2 billion), representing a 19 per cent year-on-year increase.

During the period, insurance companies re-invested nearly VND342.8 trillion into the economy, marking a rise of 26 per cent from the same period last year.

The sector’s total revenue in the January-July period surged by 24 per cent from the same period last year to VND71.1 trillion. Insurance firms paid out VND10.3 trillion to customers in the period, up 30 per cent. The number of new insurance contracts reached 1.22 million, a 27 per cent rise.

Previously, leaders of some insurance companies forecast that the sector's growth rate would be lower than in previous years. However, it has grown more quickly than expected so far this year.

The country now has 64 life insurance firms, 18 non-life insurance firms, two reinsurance businesses and 14 other insurance brokers.

According to Ngo Trung Dung, the association’s deputy general secretary, the country now has 779,600 insurance agents. Agent quality has been an area of focus for life insurance companies, and firms have introduced policy adjustment to develop strong agent channels.

The Viet Nam Report Company earlier this month announced a list of the 10 most prestigious life insurance companies in Viet Nam 2019. The list included Bao Viet, Prudential, AIA, Dai-ichi Life, Manulife, Chubb Life, Sun Life, Hanwa Life, Cathay Life and Mirae Asset.

The most prestigious non-life insurance companies named were Bao Viet, PVI, Petrolimex, PTI, Bao Minh, BIC, VietinBank, MIC, Liberty and Aviation Insurance.

Authorities urged to promote Central region’s economy

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc wants the central regions of Viet Nam to become a driving force for the country’s socio-economic development and an important sea gateway of the Central Highlands provinces linking the East-West corridor.

Phuc made the statement at a conference on reviewing results, shortcomings and limitations in socio-economic development held in the central province of Binh Dinh on Tuesday, with the participation of representatives of foreign and domestic investors, economists, researchers and more than 700 delegates.

The central region, an important part of the country stretching from Thanh Hoa to Binh Thuan, is linked by 14 provinces and cities, with a coastline of up to 1,900 km. The region has nine airports, including five international airports, and 14 seaport groups, of which, there are eight groups of deep-water ports.

Phuc said that "economic development in the Central region is not a private affair of 14 central provinces". All ministries and local authorities should pay attention to its development.

“It’s necessary to issue specific proposals, especially ideas and solutions that can be implemented right now or in 2020,” he said.

"The ministries and localities need to point out bottlenecks, finding new solutions and taking steps to promote the Central region’s economic development in the next period,” he added.

Phuc said the economic scale of the Central region reached nearly VND1 quadrillion, accounting for 20 per cent of national GDP. “This figure was low compared with its tourism potential. We need to increase this proportion.”

He said it must issue motivations to promote the region’s development in three aspects relevant to institutional policies, force (industry, agriculture, sea economy and tourism), and factors (natural resources, people and science-technology).

At the conference, Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyen Chi Dung pointed out bottlenecks hindering the development of the region, including its modest economic scale and limited growth. Out of 14 provinces, only Thanh Hoa, Ha Tinh, Quang Ngai and Quang Nam have large-scale projects. The remaining provinces have low growth rates and have not yet exploited the existing seaport and airport systems.

“The inter-regional transport infrastructure is weak and insufficient, while it has not yet connected provinces and areas along the central coastline. Meanwhile, the risks of freshwater shortages, salinity and drought have increased. Environmental pollution in economic zones, industrial zones and industrial production areas is still high,” Dung said.

He emphasised that the attraction of foreign investment was low, mainly focused on small- and medium-sized projects. “Big foreign investors, corporations and large enterprises are reluctant to invest in areas frequently hit by natural disasters, floods and storms.”

He said the quality of human resources is also a problem. The rate of qualified workers is only about 22-23 per cent – the lowest in the country.

Minister Dung proposed three groups of solutions to promote the Central region’s socio-economic development, so it can become a driving force and an economic leader of the country.

As for the group of policies relevant to development, the ministry required other ministries and localities to speed up regional planning and construction following the Law on Planning, focusing on sea and coastal areas, completing the transportation system linking North-South and the system of East-West crossroads connecting seaports and coastal provinces in the Central Highlands.

In the group of solutions boosting the economy, the ministry proposed to enhance tourism quality, build national brands and products for the region’s advantageous products with high added value, enhancing the contribution of science and technology to high value-added industries and competitive advantages to join global production and value chains.

Regarding the group of solutions for management, the ministry proposed the State give decisive power to the Council for the Central Key Economic Region, improving institutions to promote the activeness and creativity of the council members.

Dung said it was necessary to select a number of cooperation activities in the area of ??science and technology in the region, mobilising the advantages of localities, universities, research organisations and large investors to have qualified products and supporting technology incubation centres, which should be seen as a key factor for the application of science, technology and innovation.

E-commerce narrows gaps between businesses

E-commerce allows small and medium enterprises to close the gap between them and large enterprises thanks to the equal and flexible competitiveness of the digital business environment.

The remark was made by Vice Chairman of the People's Committee of Ben Tre Nguyen Huu Lap at the seminar titled ‘E-commerce-breakthrough solutions for businesses’, held in the southern province of Ben Tre on Tuesday.

The event, attended by provincial authorities and more than 300 enterprises in the Mekong Delta region, aimed to share and update information on the trend of e-commerce development in the country. It created favourable conditions for enterprises of all economic sectors to approach e-commerce solution providers, gradually exploit the benefits of e-commerce, boosting brand promotion and increasing business efficiency.

"Thanks to e-commerce, consumers can access an unlimited source of diversified brands and products," Lap told the seminar, co-organised by Ben Tre Department of Industry and Trade, the Viet Nam E-Commerce Association and the Department of E-Commerce and Digital Economy, under the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

However, at present, many businesses had not grasped and fully exploited the advantages of e-commerce but still focused on traditional sales channels, Lap said.

At the seminar, experts said that the development of science and technology and drastic changes in production methods, management, services and trade brought by the Fourth Industrial Revolution required businesses to innovate thinking, build online business models with abundant supply systems to enter the market, meeting the requirements of distributors and importers.

Nguyen Ngoc Dung, Vice Chairman of Viet Nam E-Commerce Association (VECOM) said that in 2018, Viet Nam witnessed strong growth of e-commerce with an average rate of over 30 per cent. E-commerce sales posted over US$4 billion in 2015 and reached $7.8 billion in 2018. They are expected to touch $13 billion by 2020.

According to Deputy Director of the Department of Industry and Trade of Ben Tre Province Nguyen Van Niem, provincial leaders pay special attention and create favourable conditions for enterprises to develop e-commerce. Currently, the number of businesses applying e-commerce to business activities and trade is increasing.

Notably, since April, Ben Tre Department of Industry and Trade has co-operated with the Viet Nam E-Commerce Association and Lazada Group to implement the program "Online Day of Ben Tre Coconut Village". So far, 16 enterprises, co-operatives and coconut villages in Ben Tre are participating in the programme, selling 1,877 kinds of coconut products.

Niem said that at present, Ben Tre Department of Industry and Trade was planning to build an e-commerce platform to sell specialties of the province to help local businesses promote and sell goods.

In the future, the Department will continue to support local businesses in developing e-commerce such as organising training courses, co-ordinating with Lazada to promote local products, encourage businesses to participate in sales on lazada.vn, building free websites for businesses, develop an online brand set for key products of Ben Tre province, Niem said.

Mong Cai city – new property attraction in Quang Ninh province

Following the property boom in Ha Long city, Van Don district and Quang Yen town, Mong Cai city is emerging as a new magnet for real estate developers in the northeastern province of Quang Ninh.

The attractiveness of Mong Cai is attributable to its good economic development and transport infrastructure, especially thanks to the Mong Cai Border Gate Economic Zone (EZ).

The EZ consists of the entire Mong Cai city along with nine communal-level localities of Hai Ha district. It has a total area of 121,197ha, including 66,197ha of land and 55,000ha of sea surface.

According to a report sent to the Ministry of Planning and Investment last May by the Quang Ninh provincial People’s Committee, the EZ has recorded strong socio-economic improvements over the past years.

Local transport infrastructure has been developed synchronously. Construction of Van Don – Mong Cai Expressway kicked off on April 3 this year, and it will directly connect with the expressway traversing Hanoi, Hai Phong city and Quang Ninh’s Ha Long and Van Don. Meanwhile, the temporary road linking Mong Cai with Dongxing town of China has also been completed.

This EZ’s contribution to the province’s economy is considerable as the trade revenue via the Mong Cai Border Gate approximated 16.59 billion USD between 2016 and 2018.

Additionally, more than 2.7 million people exited Vietnam via this port of entry, through which another over 2.9 million entered the country in 2018. The figures are expected to amount to 2.9 million and 3.1 million, respectively, this year. Meanwhile, the statistics in other border gates of Quang Ninh are less than 30,000 people per year.

The Mong Cai Border Gate EZ is also a concentration of labourers. Last year, there were nearly 76,000 labourers in the zone, compared to about 2,300 in the Bac Phong Sinh Border Gate EZ and 4,500 in the Hoanh Mo – Dong Van Border Gate EZ, also in Quang Ninh province. It is hoped to raise this number to 78,800 by the end of 2019 and 102,000 by 2025.

With these results, the Mong Cai Border Gate EZ is not only the busiest one in Quang Ninh but has also helped the province rank first in terms of economic activities among the seven Vietnamese localities bordering China.

Aside from vibrant economic activities and good transport infrastructure, the EZ also boasts a lot of tourism potential. From 2010 to 2015, tourism revenue of Mong Cai city grew 3.7 percent annually to almost 2.88 trillion VND. The city also posted a surge in the number of tourist arrivals to 2.7 million last year. This is a driving force for the investment flow into resort property in the city.

The Mong Cai City People’s Committee said in June that the administration of Quang Ninh province had given permission in principle to five big Vietnamese developers to make investment plans in the city. Among them, Vingroup proposed three projects, FLC group four and Sun Group one.

With strong moves by giant real estate developers, the land and house segments are also warming up. Many projects with completed infrastructure are recording strong sales like Kalong Riverside City or Green Park.

The local property market is benefiting from what is the busiest border gate EZ in the north of Vietnam in terms of trade, services and tourism.

This is also the panorama of the real estate market in Quang Ninh province.

Many big names in the sector have chosen to invest in the coastal province, attracted by good infrastructure and the local government’s policies designed to facilitate investment.

Ten years ago, Quang Ninh ranked 58th in the Provincial Competitiveness Index (PCI), but it has risen quickly to the top five and kept the place among the top group for several recent years. In particular, in 2017, the province rose to the first place and maintained this position in 2018.

This is one of the reasons why Quang Ninh province has been attracting more and more investors.

Since 2014, the number of real estate projects implemented in Quang Ninh has surpassed 100, with total investment capital amounting to 5.5 billion USD, ranging from resort, entertainment park to shop house and apartment building.