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The General Department of Vietnam Customs (GDVC) has ordered customs agencies in provinces and cities to intensify inspections to fight origin-related frauds, violations of intellectual property (IP) rights and illegal transport of import-export goods.

In a document sent to provincial and municipal customs agencies, the general department warned about the increase in trade frauds in connection with goods labeling and IP rights.

The GDVC said competent forces have uncovered many cases in which imported goods were labeled “Made in Vietnam”, “Manufactured in Vietnam”, “Originated in Vietnam”, or had their foreign labels replaced with such, with the purpose for consumption in the Vietnamese market.

Traders have taken advantage of legal documents on not requiring sub-labels at customs clearance to import goods and then do not attach sub-labels but change labels, packages and the names of goods for domestic consumption.

The general department also detected the import of goods with counterfeit registered trademark; or the transport of counterfeit goods, goods violating IP property rights or carrying fake Vietnamese origin under the name of transit.

For goods imported into Vietnam with the aim of making use of special preferential tax rates under free trade agreements, importers used fake or invalid C/O to carry out customs procedures or declare false information on C/O.

Besides, a number of enterprises, including foreign-invested ones, import raw materials, semi-finished products, components and spare parts for production, processing and assembly, but their products for export do not undergo processing and manufacturing stages or undergo simple processing, manufacturing and assembling stages that do not meet the origin criteria prescribed. However, they still label the products with Vietnamese origin when exporting. Some enterprises imported goods with the aim of legalizing goods’ dossiers or applying for C/O to give the goods Vietnamese origin, for exporting to the third country.

The GDVC instructed provincial and municipal customs agencies to inspect, supervise and control goods origin and labelling; infringement of IP rights and illegal transit of import and export goods in accordance with legal documents.

Banks warned of sanctions against interest rate race

The State Bank of Vietnam will intensify the supervision of implementing interest rates and credit programs of credit institutions whilst also strictly handling relevant infringements.

The State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) stated in a newly-issued document that credit institutions, including foreign bank branches, have intentionally pushed up interest rates for VND deposits of certain terms while having issued certificates of deposit at high interest rates.

Increased interest rates could pose a threat to the stability and sound development of the domestic banking system, resulting in market volatility and potentially leading to a “deposit interest rate race” among various credit institutions.

The central bank is to issue sanctions on credit institutions that infringe upon legal regulations and the bank’s instructions related to interest rates. The SBV asserted that it could narrow the credit growth limits previously assigned to credit institutions if necessary.

Le Minh Hung, Governor of the SBV, has requested that credit institutions stringently abide by its Directive No.01/CT-NHNN dated January 8, 2019 with a focus on stabilizing deposit interest rates as a means of balancing funds and expanding outstanding credit in a proper manner. Commercial banks are also required to obey regulations on deposit interest rates and intensify the control of credit across risky fields.

Previously, a number of commercial banks reportedly rose 0.2 to 0.8 percentage points for interest rates on deposits of a six-month term and beyond. Many banks mobilized deposits of six-month term at the annual interest rate of 8 per cent, equivalent to that of deposits of over a one-year term.

Some issued certificates of deposits for one to five years at the annual interest rate of around 9 per cent or even 10 per cent.

Trade deals bring more foreign investment but also challenges

With its series of recent free trade agreements, Vietnam is becoming very attractive to foreign businesses, especially in the textile and garment sector.

Herberton Co., Ltd from Singapore recently invested in a textile and garment plant in Nam Dinh province in the north. The 80 million USD will have a capacity of 25,000 tonnes of yarn of all kinds and 15 million pieces of garments a year, and provide around 3,000 jobs.

Last year the textile industry earned 36 billion USD from exports, a 16 percent rise year-on-year, making the country one of the world’s three biggest exporters of textiles and apparel, according to the Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association (VITAS).

Vu Duc Giang, chairman of VITAS, said the association has this year set a target of 40 billion USD.

To achieve the target, the association has recommended that enterprises should focus on investment, markets, human resources, and the use of the latest technologies.

The Government needs to continue with administrative reforms and inspections while removing difficulties for businesses, he said.

The association needs to connect enterprises and markets at home and abroad by increasing trade promotions, he said.

The industry is expected to enjoy a trade surplus of 20 billion USD this year with orders pouring in, he said.

“Many businesses have already received orders for even the entire year.”

Because of increased capital flows into the industry, the country has gradually created a comprehensive textile and apparel supply chain, and the upcoming FTAs are also expected to benefit the industry.

But the FTAs also bring challenges, according to VITAS.

The trade deals Vietnam has signed all have environmental barriers with higher green standards, which require enterprises to improve not only product quality but also production processes.

A failure to do this could see orders stopped or rejected, especially from major international brands.

Most Vietnamese textile and apparel enterprises do outsourcing and thus rely heavily on orders from other countries.

Customers world-wide are now increasingly environmentally conscious, which has forced global brands to include higher environmental and social standards.

Experts said to maximise the benefits from the FTAs, the country should pay attention to developing the weaving and supporting industries to reduce dependence on imported feedstock.

Vietnam – Japan trade exchange seminar held in Tokyo

Representatives from 26 Vietnamese enterprises and four provinces together with tens of Japanese firms attended a seminar on Vietnam-Japan trade exchange and economic cooperation in Tokyo on August 29 to seek business opportunities.

The event was co-organised by the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Vietnam Trade Promotion Agency (Vietrade), the Vietnam Trade Office in Japan and the ASEAN – Japan Centre.

Speaking at the event, Vietrade deputy head Le Hoang Tai introduced business environment and socio-economic achievements in Vietnam over the past years.

He said despite slowing global economy, the Vietnamese economy still grew by 6.76 percent in the first half, with exports going up 8 percent annually to 243 billion USD.

According to Tai, Japan is always Vietnam’s leading important economic partner. The two countries are members of the Vietnam – Japan Economic Partnership Agreement, the ASEAN – Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, which will facilitate bilateral trade.

Vietnamese Commercial Counsellor Ta Duc Minh suggested that the Vietnamese enterprises should actively contact Japanese partners to learn about their needs following the event.

PetroVietnam enjoys good business results despite falling oil prices

The Vietnam Oil and Gas Group (PetroVietnam) earned 489.5 trillion VND (over 21 billion USD) in revenue in the first eight months of the year, exceeding the target by 19 percent although the average price of crude oil fell to 58.62 USD per barrel in August compared to the predicted price of 65 USD per barrel.

In the period, the group contributed 68.9 trillion VND (2.96 billion USD) to the State budget, 14 percent above the plan and accounting for 78.8 percent of the yearly target.

The group also fulfilled its production targets. Particularly, PetroVietnam Ca Mau Fertiliser Joint Stock Company began its contract to export 47,500 tonnes of fertiliser to India in August.

To complete the yearly plan, PetroVietnam said it would keep a close watch on the fluctuations of global oil prices, improve market forecasting and reasonably adjust output for export and processing to ensure the nation’s GDP growth target, national security and budget collection.

Along with applying advanced technologies to improve business activities, the group will carry out financial solutions to timely respond to the variation of global oil prices.

HCMC says ODA loans shall not be used for regular expenditures

The HCMC government has asked investors to use official development assistance (ODA) loans for development, instead of regular expenditures, such as buying automobiles or paying fees and the interest on loans.

According to an announcement by the HCMC government office, ODA loans shall be prioritized for imports, goods purchase, foreign consulting services, construction and technology transfers. When the loans are used to purchase goods, the investors must explain the need for these items and the requirements of the ODA loan providers.

The reciprocal capital will be used for preparations for projects; paying taxes, fees and loan interest; and paying for site clearance and project management.

As for projects already underway, the investors must seek solutions to reduce regular expenditures and improve their project management capacity.

Seminar looks into accountability, legal assurance in timber import control

Accountability and legal assurance in timber import control was the main focus of a workshop that began in Hanoi on August 29 as part of the building of a decree on the Vietnam Timber Legal Assurance System (VNTLAS).

The two-day workshop was co-organised by the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) and the Vietnam Administration of Forestry (VNFOREST), in the framework of a project supporting the implementation of the Voluntary Partnership Agreement on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (VPA FLEGT) in Vietnam, Laos and Cameroon.

VNFOREST Director General Nguyen Quoc Tri said the workshop provided a platform for State agencies, foreign experts, the wood industry, research institutes and social organisations to share experience and lessons in preparation for the building and implementation of the VNTLAS in line with Vietnam’s commitments in the Vietnam-EU VPA FLEGT, which was signed in 2018 and took effect on June 1 this year.

The decree on VNTLAS, scheduled to be issued at the end of this year, will guide the implementation of a number of articles of the VPA FLEGT and the 2017 Forestry Law.

Representatives from relevant agencies in Europe and the US will share experience in enforcing regulations on legal timber and import control, serving discussions on specific issues and solutions to improve the accountability and legal assurance in reality.

According to statistics of the General Department of Vietnam Customs, the customs sector uncovered 48 cases of violations of rules on timber import-export, seizing nearly 90 tonnes of precious timber since the beginning of 2018 to now. The sector has imposed administrative fines in 30 cases, started criminal proceedings in one case and transferred five cases to other competent agencies, and is investigating 12 cases.

The customs sector is also participating in the building of the decree.

HCM City infrastructure firm to sell treasury shares

The Ho Chi Minh City Infrastructure Investment Joint Stock Company (CII) wants to offload 35.3 million treasury shares for at least 32,650 VND (1.40 USD) per share.

The company expects to receive at least 1.15 trillion VND (49.5 million USD) from the deal. CII shares are listed on the Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange (HoSE: CII) and dropped 1.2 percent to 20,050 VND per share on August 27.

The company bought treasury shares to help cushion its share price on the stock market.

According to the firm’s first-half financial report, the 35.5 million treasury shares are equal to 12 percent of the company’s charter capital.

Those shares were previously bought for 21,100 VND per share, making the total value 852 billion VND.

In the last two months, CII has raised 1 trillion VND by issuing bonds. The figure includes 800 billion VND worth of fixed-interest bonds (9.5 percent per year).

In the first half of 2018, CII earned 1 trillion VND in total revenue, down 35 percent year on year.

But financial income was up 67 percent yearly to 489 billion VND, helping CII increase its post-tax profit by 68 percent to 68 billion VND.

Russian company considers investing in thermal power in Ninh Thuan

Officials of the south central coastal province of Ninh Thuan held a working session on August 29 with a delegation from Technoprom Export, an affiliate of Russia’s Rostec group, on the firm’s intention to invest in thermal power development in the province.

Vice Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Tran Quoc Nam introduced the guests to existing Russian investment projects in the locality, including the Dam Vua salt making farm in Ninh Hai district and a vodka plant soon to be constructed.

Technoprom Export Director General Topo Gilka highlighted the company’s capacity and experience in building power projects in the world and in Vietnam. The firm has built five thermal power plants in Vietnam with combined capacity of 685 MW, and joined in six hydro power projects with combined capacity of 3,146 MW.

He said the company wants to study the building of a 2,000 MW thermal power plant in Ninh Thuan.

He asked Ninh Thuan authorities to provide more information on the locality’s potential, infrastructure and requirements towards investors.

The Russian executive also expressed hope that the Vietnamese Government, ministries and agencies will assist the company when it conducts investment procedures.

Ninh Thuan has great potential for developing renewable energy, including gas-fuelled power. With permission from the Prime Minister to develop into a renewable energy hub, the province has effectively attracted investment in wind and solar power plants, with total capacity already reaching 2,000 MW.

Belgium’s Antwerp expands trade ties with Vietnam

Belgian businesses got insights into investment opportunities in Vietnam when they attended a seminar in Belgium’s Antwerp province recently.

The seminar took place ahead of a Vietnam visit in November by a delegation of Antwerp’s startups and firms operating in such spheres as diamond business, fashion, pharmaceuticals, telecommunications and construction in November.

Vietnamese Ambassador to Belgium Vu Anh Quang said Vietnam is an open market economy with total trade value reaching 482 billion USD and combined foreign direct investment hitting 35 billion USD in 2018. The country welcomed about 16 million foreign tourists in the year.

He described the upcoming visit by Antwerp’s enterprises as an important highlight within the new framework of the bilateral ties that is the Vietnam-Belgium strategic partnership in agriculture and the EU-Vietnam free trade and investment agreements.

The ambassador suggested the two sides enhance cooperation in trade and investment as the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) was signed, further explaining that the deal is expected to open up great opportunities for trade and investment ties between Vietnam and the EU once it is ratified by the European Parliament.

Speaking highly of cooperation between Vietnam and Belgium, and Antwerp in particular, Quang said the Port of Antwerp – the second largest port in the EU – is an important gateway for Vietnamese goods to access Belgium and the EU as well.

With a coastline of about 3,260km, Vietnam wishes to step up cooperation in seaport logistics and infrastructure, he said.

Antwerp’s Governor Cathy Berx, who will lead the Belgian delegation to Vietnam in November, told the Vietnam News Agency that the Southeast Asian nation has a lot of business opportunities.

She lauded the country’s business environment, saying it is time to come to Vietnam to explore all opportunities in the country.

Businesses should focus on cooperation in sustainable development, especially renewable energy, she said, suggesting Antwerp’s companies to find suitable cooperation and operation methods to persuade Vietnamese firms to partner with them.

Vietnamese firms learn about US-related export regulations

Vietnamese exporters were updated on regulations and standards for exporting goods to the US market at a workshop held in Hanoi recently.

Jointly organized by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) and the American Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam (AmCham), the event aimed to support Vietnamese exporters in building export business plans and strategies.

Deputy head of the Department of International Relations of VCCI Nguyen Vu Kien highlighted the role and importance of trade and investment ties between Vietnam and the US. In the context that economies are applying trade protection measures to protect their domestic economy, Vietnamese exporters need to be acquainted with information related to their target markets, he said.

Addressing the event, Chairwoman of AmCham in Ho Chi Minh City Amanda Rasmussen shared useful information about the US market and issues that Vietnamese businesses should consider when exporting to this market.

According to Amanda, export-import turnover between Vietnam and the US in the first quarter of 2019 hit 18.44 billion USD, up nearly 37 percent year-on-year, of which Vietnam’s export to the country increasing 16.9 percent and import, 40.15 percent.

Before approaching the US market, Vietnamese exporters need to check import restrictions, estimate customs fees, and provide sufficient documents requested by the host country, participants said.

Amanda said the latest report on business environment in Vietnam compiled by AmCham shows that Vietnam is attracting attention of investors.

Vietnam seeks to develop smart energy

A forum on smart energy and optimization of power structure in Vietnam with flexible solutions was held by the Finnish Embassy in Vietnam and Wartsila Group in Hanoi last week.

Addressing the event, Finnish Ambassador Kari Kahilouto said his country wants to partner with Vietnam in producing clean and smart energy.

The Vietnamese Government has implemented a very ambitious policy to develop renewable energy with its inherent potential, and in the future Vietnam will have more opportunities to develop its solar, wind, biomass and waste sources, he noted.

Jaakko Eskola, Chairman and General Director of Wartsila, said Vietnam has great potential for developing wind and solar power.

 

According Jaakko, production costs of solar and wind power and storage battery have now decreased significantly and it is forecast that these will continue to be down in the near future.

Vietnam has set to produce 2,000MW of wind power and 4,000MW of solar power by 2025, according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT),

Nguyen Manh Cuong from the Energy Institute under the MoIT said by 2030-2035, renewable energy proportion can account for between 50-80 percent of Vietnam’s total energy productivity.

Participants said that Vietnam needs to have new policies on renewable energy development and those to attract more investment to the field.

Forum mulls measures to boost farm produce export to RoK

Experts from the Republic of Korea (RoK) offered their advice to Vietnamese farm producers on how to get their products into the RoK market, which has a high demand for agricultural products, at a forum in HCM City last week.

Vietnamese firms and farmers must focus on improving quality, building brand and offering competitive prices, delegates told the forum on Vietnam-Korea Trade Promotion of Agricultural Products.

Le Thanh Hoa, deputy director general of the Agro Processing and Market Development Authority, said the RoK’s agricultural imports have soared in recent years, reaching 35.2 billion USD last year.

Yet Vietnam’s exports of those products to this market were very modest, he said.

Deputy Minister of Agricultural and Rural Development Tran Thanh Nam said bilateral trade in the agricultural sector is very low compared to the potential of the two countries.

Vietnam exports wooden products, seafood and fruits to the RoK and imports animal feed, fertilisers, seafood and fruits from there, he said.

Nam noted that the RoK has allowed the import of coconut, pineapple, banana, mango and dragon fruit from Vietnam, adding that Koreans are very fond of Vietnamese fruits and seafood, while Vietnamese like many Korean products, including kimchi.

Hong Sun, vice chairman of the Korea Chamber of Business in Vietnam, said to be able to enter the market, agricultural products must meet certain conditions like consistent quality, size, colour, and breeds and strong brands and have pricing strategies to ensure competitiveness.

He called on Vietnam’s agricultural sector to speed up the development of organic agriculture to meet international export standards, including those of his country.

Relevant agencies should instruct farmers in technological application to improve product quality and output, he said.

Son Sung Hoon, CEO of CJ Freshway in Vietnam, said to expand the export of agro-forestry and aquatic products, Vietnamese companies must ensure they have a steady supply of quality raw materials.

Choosy markets like the RoK have very strict regulations and standards for imported goods, and so relevant authorities must update farmers and producers of these standards to enable them to meet these criteria, he said.

Kim Yae Jin, vice director of the Korea Agro-trade Centre in HCM City, spoke about Korean consumer trends that enterprises need to know if they plan to enter that market.

Food safety is a top priority for consumers when choosing a product, she said, adding that the Korean Ministry of Food and Drug Safety plans to strengthen inspection of foreign foods.

At the forum, delegates also spoke about food safety inspection regulations and aquatic product quarantine in the RoK.

Vietnam, US state audits foster collaboration

A State Audit of Vietnam (SAV)’s delegation led by Auditor General Ho Duc Phoc had a working session with their US counterparts led by Gene L. Dodaro, Comptroller General of the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) in Washington DC recently.

The two sides briefed each other on the structure and legal framework of each other, while discussing the strengthening of GAO’s capacity and engagement in the International Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI), and sharing experience in enhancing auditing capacity, IT and environmental auditing and IT application in auditing activities.

Dodaro congratulated the SAV on achievements that the agency has obtained, affirming that he is ready to promote cooperation between the two agencies in order to share experience and expertise, particularly auditing methods for areas of shared interest such as operation, environment and IT auditing.

Phoc lauded the great contributions of the GAO in the common development of the international auditors and accountants’ community.

He noted that over the years, the partnership between the SAV and GAO have been reinforced in both bilateral and multilateral aspects with the regular exchange of delegations.

The Vietnamese Auditor General expressed his hope that in the future, the two sides will continue increasing the exchange of delegations, while inviting representatives of each other to attend international conferences, forums and training courses that they host or within the INTOSAI framework.

Both sides should organise meetings on the sidelines of multilateral events held by the INTOSAI and the Asian Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions (ASOSAI) as well as other organisations, he suggested.

As the ASOSAI Chair, the SAV is working hard to promote the growth of the organisation as well as its members, striving to make ASOSAI a model working group of the INTOSAI, he said.

To this end, the SAV has focused on realising the ASOSAI strategic plan and the Hanoi Declaration released at the 14th ASOSAI Assembly in September 2018 on environmental auditing and auditing of sustainable development goads, which are also important agenda of the INTOSAI, said Phoc.

He also proposed that the GAO, acting as the editor-in-chief of the International Journal of Government Auditing and head of the working group on Financial Modernisation and Regulatory Reform of the INTOSAI, will support the ASOSAI and the SAV in areas on government auditing.

During his stay, Phoc is scheduled to have a meeting with representatives of the World Bank to discuss partnership orientations and forms in projects and areas of mutual interest such as IT auditing and the application of IT in auditing activities, as well as the strengthening of capacity in realising sustainable development goals.-

Russian businesses seek trading opportunities in Hanoi

The Association of Vietnam Retailers (AVR) held a business matching programme in Hanoi last week to connect Russian businesses with local partners, and to introduce Russian goods to local retailers.

Thirteen Russian firms brought to the event many typical products, such as sausages, ham, salami, kvass, dried fruit, nuts, confectionery, beer, beverage and organic cosmetics.

The programme also attracted many Vietnamese retailers, importers and exporters, besides delegates from Vietnamese management agencies.

Chairwoman of ARV Dinh Thi My Loan said the event was designed with the aim of providing a venue for businesses from both sides to connect and discuss cooperation opportunities, towards bolstering two-way trade.

Nguyen Viet Linh, a representative of ARV, presented statistics that showed trade between Vietnam and Russia saw good growth after the Vietnam – Eurasian Economic Union Free Trade Agreement took effect in 2016.

In 2018 two-way trade value grew 28.63 percent year on year, with Russia’s exports to Vietnam shooting up by 53.38 percent to 2.1 billion USD.

According to the Ministry of Trade, Russia ranked 24th among 129 foreign investors in Vietnam in 2018, with 123 projects worth 932 million USD in total. Vietnam also had 22 investment projects in Russia with total capital of nearly 3 billion USD.

OFID gives loan to transport infrastructure project in Da Nang

The OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID) will loan 45 million USD to a transport infrastructure improvement project in the central city of Da Nang.

The loan agreement was inked between the OFID and the Vietnamese Ministry of Finance in Hanoi recently.

The project has the total investment of 61.37 million USD, including 45 million USD lent by the OFID and the rest covered by Da Nang’s budget.

It is set to build 14.3km of the city’s western belt road No. 2, bridges on this route and associated technical facilities like culverts, lighting systems and trees. The project will also construct a 1.2km-long road connecting Co Co Bridge with the Tran Dai Nghia – Vo Chi Cong intersection, and a 100m-long bridge spanning the Co Co River and linking Vo Qui Huan and Vo Chi Cong roads.

The project is expected to be completed by the end of 2022 to help Da Nang develop its transport infrastructure effectively, thereby helping promote local socio-economic development.

Founded in January 1976, the OFID is intended to enhance cooperation between members of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and developing nations. It also provides special support to assist socio-economic development in low-income countries.

In Vietnam, the fund has so far supplied loans worth 238.65 million USD for 20 projects and programmes which cover a wide range of fields, including transport, irrigation, poverty reduction, health care, education and urban development. Most of them are implemented in rural provinces, thus helping with socio-economic development and living standard improvement in the country.

VN, USAID partner to enhance import-export specialised inspection

A Vietnamese top customs official last week met with representatives from ministries, public agencies and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) to discuss the implementation of a trade facilitation project, with an emphasis on import-export specialised inspection.

The USAID-funded Trade Facilitation Programme (TFP) aims to reform, standardise and streamline import-export administrative procedures to conform with the international standards as committed by Vietnam in the WTO Agreement on Trade Facilitation (TFA) and the Government’s policies in customs reforms, said Deputy Director General of the General Department of Customs Mai Xuan Thanh.

One of the project’s most important components is to reform import-export specialised inspection, enhancing the National Single Window (NSW), which requires inter-sectoral cooperation among relevant ministries and agencies, he noted.

Thanh expected the relevant ministries and agencies to actively coordinate with customs authorities and USAID experts to step up the TFP implementation.

Over the past two decades, Vietnam has become one of the most open economies in the world but suffers from inefficient customs and border procedures that lead to long delays at the ports and hurt Vietnam’s trade competitiveness.

Specialised inspection forms part of customs clearance procedures performed by different ministries and agencies. The involvement of many governmental bodies has caused lengthy delays and increased unneccessary costs for businesses, particularly small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Thus, the TFP helps Vietnam adopt and implement a risk management approach to modernise and expedite customs procedures to address these challenges.

A USAID representative said that the agency wants to cooperate with the General Department of Customs and governmental bodies to streamline customs clearance procedures and foster an effective coordination among central and local authorities in enforcing trade facilitation policies.

According to the National Steering Committee for the ASEAN Single Window, National Single Window and Trade Facilitation (Committee 1899), there were close to 70,100 goods items needing import-export specialised inspection by 13 ministries and governmental agencies as of April this year.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development requires the largest number of goods – 7,623 items – to be inspected.

HCM City rolls out red carpet for Singaporean investors

Ho Chi Minh City will continue to improve investment climate as well as accelerate administrative procedure reform to better serve foreign investors, especially those from Singapore, Secretary of the municipal Party Committee Nguyen Thien Nhan said recently.

At a round-table held between authorities of the Vietnamese southern hub and Singaporean businesses in Singapore, Nhan stressed that as the metropolis is targeting to become a smart city, it hopes to receive more Singaporean investment in the field.

According to Vice Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee Vo Van Hoan, Vietnam and Singapore have enjoyed fruitful trade and investment ties for years, with two-way trade in 2017 reaching 7.66 billion USD, making Singapore become 4th largest trade partner of Vietnam in the ASEAN. Particularly, trade value with Ho Chi Minh City fetched 4.13 billion USD, a year-on-year surge of 4.58 percent.

As of August 20, Singapore is the largest investor in the city, with 1,216 valid projects worth 10.95 billion USD in manufacturing, processing, real estate, and science and technology.

Introducing the city’s potential, Hoan underlined as an attractive investment destination in Southeast Asia and the Asia-Pacific as a whole, Ho Chi Minh City is promoting mechanisms for innovation and effective use of resources, and facilitating business conditions for foreign investors, including Singaporean enterprises who are interested in landing long-term investments in the city.

Meanwhile, a representative from the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) spoke highly of the business climate in Vietnam, saying the SBF has set up the Singaporean business forum in Vietnam to support business between the two countries after meeting with Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and working with several localities in Vietnam.

Lauding investment environment in Vietnam and Ho Chi Minh City, many Singaporean firms expressed their interest in investing in high-tech fields, smart urban area building, real estate and treatment of industrial sewage in the southern hub.

They also suggested local authorities to outline more preferential policies in tax, and be more transparent in related policies.

Vietnam's seafood exports rise but challenges continue

Vietnam’s seafood exports increased slightly in July but the country is forecast to continue facing challenges, experts told a conference held by the Vietnam Association for Seafood Exporters and Producers in Ho Chi Minh City recently.

Seafood exports in the first seven months raked in 4.7 billion USD, down 0.2 percent from a year earlier, but 9 percent up month-on-month in July.

While exports of tuna and crustaceans such as crab and sentinel crab remained strong, rising by 20.3 percent and 22.7 percent year-on-year, main export items such as shrimp and shark catfish, which account for 60 percent of total exports, were down from last year.

Shrimp, which accounts for nearly 38 percent of exports, recovered in July after a weak performance since the beginning of the year.

Exports to Japan increased by 11.3 percent year-on-year, and other markets apart from the European Union (EU) and the Republic of Korea too saw increases. Shipments to China were up dramatically in July.

VASEP General Secretary Truong Dinh Hoe said while one of Vietnam's strengths is aquaculture, it still has to import large volumes of raw seafood for processing and exporting, leading to higher prices and lower competitiveness. It imported 1.7 billion USD worth of seafood last year.

Hoe said this is due to many reasons like diseases and climate change affecting supply, inconsistent quality and unstable markets.

He also warned that other countries are becoming more and more successful in farming shark catfish and shrimp, and Vietnam is thus set to face tougher competition.

With shrimp and shark catfish exports forecast to fall by 3-4 percent this year, VASEP plans to offer more assistance to businesses by pushing for more favourable policies, helping them overcome technical barriers, trade facilitation, and promotion of Vietnamese seafood.

It urged businesses to adopt modern technologies in aquaculture and focus on traceability of products and sustainable development.

Last year, seafood exports were worth nearly 9 billion USD, a 6 percent increase from 2017 as against a target of 10 percent. The target for this year is 10 billion USD.

Conference popularises Vietnam’s EVFTA commitments

Leaders of the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the northern localities of Quang Ninh, Hai Phong and Hai Duong as well as representatives of enterprises from across the nation attended a conference in Ha Long city recently to get a thorough understanding of Vietnam’s major commitments in the just-signed EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA).

Participants were briefed on the major contents of the pact, signed in June and to become effective early next year.

They clarified issues related to tariffs, the impact of the EVFTA on Vietnamese industrial products’ engagement in the regional and global value chains, as well as State management over the avoidance of trade protection measures, market management and trade promotion.

Addressing the event, Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh said the EVFTA and other agreements will be tools for economic restructuring and the transformation of the growth model, which will facilitate Vietnam’s economy and businesses ingetting more involved in newly-formed value chains in partnership with other countries.

The minister said to make the best use of the deal, businesses should focus on studying its contents.

The ministry will hold communication events to update people and enterprises on the contents of the agreement, which is a new generation FTA with higher requirements and broader coverage, he said.

Minister Anh reminded companies with EU partners to carefully study the FTA to ensure competitiveness.

The EVFTA is expected to boost export growth and diversify the markets and export products of Vietnam.

Right after the EVFTA is effective, 85.6 percent of the products of Vietnam shipped to the EU will enjoy zero tax rates. After seven years, 99.2 percent of the products will receive zero percent tax rate.

At the conference, delegates received training on Vietnam’s commitments in tariff, origin and investment-service regulations.

Foreign arrivals surge over 14 percent in August

The number of foreign visitors to Vietnam in August is estimated to rise over 14 percent month-on-month to 1.51 million, according to the General Statistics Office (GSO).

Around 11.3 million foreigners spend their holidays in Vietnam during January-August, with visitors from Asian markets accounting for the lion’s share of 78.1 percent.

The figure for those from Asia witnessed a 9.9 percent climb year on year. Arrivals from China fell 0.9 percent while those from the Thailand, China’s Taiwan, the Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Japan and Singapore inched up 46.3 percent, 27.1 percent, 22.5 percent, 14.6 percent, 13.7 percent, and 5.4 percent, respectively.

Meanwhile, the number of tourists from Europe is estimated to grow 5.3 percent from the same time last year, with arrivals from Europe-America increasing 6.2 percent, Russia 5.7 percent and Germany 5.6 percent.

The US has been seen as a major tourism market of Vietnam. As the world’s second outbound market, some 93 million US travellers spent 245 billion USD on their foreign tours in 2018. Among nearly 9.3 million visitors to the Asia, 687,000 chose Vietnam for their holidays, increasing 12 percent compared to 2017.

According to the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT), the country holds huge potential to tap into the US tourism market, especially after VNAT General Director Nguyen Trung Khanh led a delegation to promote tourism at the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) Global Convention 2019 in the US from August 23-27.

Besides, Vietnam has been officially granted Category 1 rating certification (CAT1) by the US Federal Aviation Administration, allowing Vietnamese carriers to fly direct to the US. Therefore, several Vietnamese airlines are planning to open non-stop routes to the American nation in the next one or two years, helping the tourism sector diversify its markets.

The GSO said revenue from catering and accommodation services in the past eight months totals nearly 386 trillion VND (16.6 billion USD), soaring 9.8 percent from the same period last year. Meanwhile, local tours earn an estimated 30 trillion VND, surging 12.1 percent year on year.

This year, the industry targets to serve 17.5-18 million foreign arrivals and 85 million domestic ones. Total revenue from tourism is expected at 700 trillion VND.