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As many as 322 firms in 30 provinces and cities in Vietnam had suspended operations and 553 others had scaled down their businesses as of February 12 due to the impact of the deadly coronavirus outbreak.

The Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs has reported the impact of the flu-like disease on the country’s labor sector to the prime minister, Thanh Nien reported, quoting Nguyen Ba Hoan, chief of the Ministry Secretariat on February 13.

The spread of the COVID-19 virus, which emerged in Wuhan in China's Hubei province late last year, has prompted 25 out of more than 5,000 cooperatives to suspend operations and five others to downsize operations.

As recorded in 22 localities, the epidemic has left impact on almost 9,000 employees, with over 3,200 people in the agro-forestry-aquatic sector; over 2,200 working in the fields of water supply and waste management and treatment; and roughly 1,100 in the transport and logistics sector.

More than 1,000 employees in the hotel and food services sector have lost their jobs as a result of the outbreak.

According to Minister of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs Dao Ngoc Dung, the percentage of workers returning to work after the Tet holiday reached 97% nationwide. Many companies reported that 100% of employees were back to work, he said.

Fisheries sector grapples with impact of COVID-19

The fisheries sector of Vietnam is facing an array of difficulties as the acute respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has led to contracted exports.

According to the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), aquatic exports in January fell 25 percent from the same period last year to 556 million USD.

Except for shrimp exports which increased by 7 percent year on year to 251 million USD, tra fish shipments nosedived by 64 percent to only 75 million USD. Seafood exports also decreased by 22 percent to 230 million USD, including about 40 million USD worth of tuna (down 30 percent) and 33 million USD worth of squid and octopus (down 50 percent).

Among the key markets, aquatic exports to Japan dropped 20 percent to 98 million USD, the US down 36 percent to 75 million USD, and China (including Hong Kong) – where COVID-19 is raging – down 45 percent to 51.5 million USD.

The only highlight last month was the EU, to which aquatic exports grew 13 percent to 127 million USD.

VASEP Secretary General Truong Dinh Hoe said exports plummeted from the same period last year partly because January coincided with the Lunar New Year holiday, which interrupted export activities for about 10 days.

Additionally, the strong COVID-19 outbreak in China in early February has caused serious impact on multiple fields like transport, tourism, retail, as well as the production and export of aquatic products.

In 2019, China was the largest importer of Vietnamese tra fish with the value of 622.7 million USD, equivalent to 31 percent of total tra fish exports. Thanks to stable export growth, good prices and diverse segments, many domestic processors continue to see China as their strategic market for 2020. Therefore, when Vietnam-China trade is interrupted by the COVID-19 epidemic, tra fish is the hardest-hit commodity, Hoe noted.

Tran Van Hung, Director of the Hung Ca Co. Ltd, said for those companies that have diversified their markets, the discontinuity in tra fish shipments to China only affects part of their operations. However, for those that mainly target the Chinese market, they will suffer heavy losses if the epidemic is not curbed soon.

Compared to tra fish, shrimp products are believed to face fewer impacts as China mainly imports large-sized black tiger shrimp and the shrimp crop already ended.

However, some shrimp exporters said goods previously ordered by Chinese partners now have to be kept in storage as importers have to delay delivery dates. Meanwhile, demand in the Republic of Korea, the US and the EU show signs of decrease due to fears of COVID-19.

VASEP noted in the most positive scenario that the epidemic is put under control during the first quarter of 2020, aquatic exports to China in the first three months will shrink by at least 40 percent from Q4 of 2019. They will continue recovering in the following quarters and return to normal in the second half of this year.

In case the epidemic lingers, exports to China will plummet, leading to declines in shipments to other markets, and Vietnam’s aquatic exports in 2020 may grow by only 3 – 4 percent from last year, the association added.

In this context, VASEP has recommended businesses to keep updated with information from Chinese partners to ship the previously ordered batches immediately when customs clearance is permitted to minimise preservation and storage expenses.

Firms have also been suggested to adjust processing and farming plans to avoid excessive supply of materials.

VASEP is also set to propose the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Government issue policies supporting affected businesses and farming households such as by reducing lending interest rates and extending loan payment deadlines./.

Imports, exports through Lao Cai border gates surge amid COVID-19

The volume of goods imported from and exported to China through border gates in the northern mountainous province of Lao Cai has continuously increased in recent days amid the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak.

The increase in trade through the locality’s border gates was attributed to relevant agencies’ efforts to support import-export activities and take drastic COVID-19 prevention measures.

According to statistics of the Lao Cai border gate customs office, Kim Thanh International Border Gate alone on February 13 received 22 export declarations, equivalent to 1,486 tonnes of goods worth nearly 975,000 USD.

An average of 100 trucks carrying dragon fruit, water melon, jackfruit, banana and face masks exported to China go through Lao Cai’s border gates each day.

In term of import, 21 customs declarations processed on February 13, with 814 tonnes of goods worth over 380,000 USD.

On February 14 morning, customs clearance was made for over 100 goods trucks./.

First high-class Japanese goods trade centre inaugurated

Akuruhi Tower, a centre selling domestically-produced high-class Japanese goods, was inaugurated in Ho Chi Minh City’s district 1 on February 14.

Up to 90 percent of goods put on sale at the centre, the first of its kind, are produced in Japan.

Invested by Vi Bien-Akuruhi Trading and Service Company Limited with a fund of 20 million USD, the 14-storey building has a total floor space of 10,000 sq.m, including a restaurant complex, a supermarket, a clothing showroom and an entertainment area for children.

Phan Thanh Tan, Chairman of the Council of Members of Akuruhi JV, said the centre is expected to offer the most high-grade experiences to customers, from entertainment and catering services to shopping activities.

He said vegetables, fruits and seafood on the shelves are purchased at wholesale markets in Japan and transported to Vietnam by air to ensure their quality./.

International cooperation key to promoting Vietnam’s tuna brand

Expanding international cooperation will be a key to helping the Vietnamese tuna sector to create its brand in the global market, according to insiders.

Since 2014, the Directorate of Fisheries under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has supported tuna fishermen and businesses to implement cooperation projects with the Philippines.

The Global Nature Fund and the directorate have carried out a project improving ocean tuna fishing in the south-central coastal provinces of Binh Dinh, Phu Yen and Khanh Hoa.

Most recently was the technology cooperation in catching and exporting tuna between Kiyoshi Kimura, a Japanese businessman nicknamed “Tuna King”, and Phu Yen.

Phuoc Dong fishery cooperative group in Nha Trang city, Khanh Hoa province, has connected with businesses to improve tuna catching techniques.

In 2019, Vietnam’s tuna exports exceeded 719 million USD, a year-on-year rise of 10.2 percent, according to the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP).

Exports saw strong growth at the beginning of the year but slowed towards the year-end.

Tuna exports to the European Union earned roughly 140 million USD, down 11.8 percent year-on-year as a consequence of the EU’s “yellow card” warning issued in October 2017 after the country failed to demonstrate sufficient progress in fighting illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

From the second largest importer of Vietnam’s aquatic products, the EU fell to the fifth, behind the US, Japan, the Republic of Korea, and China.

Vietnam has forecast 15-percent growth in tuna shipments in 2020 but in the first months of the year, only slight increases are likely because of the relatively high inventories held by key foreign markets./.

Ministry urges reduction in goods deliveries via border checkpoints with China

The Ministry of Industry and Trade has repeatedly urged Vietnamese exporters to reduce deliveries of goods via Vietnam-China border checkpoints, except for official-channel exports or that Chinese partners can confirm to take delivery of the goods.

The spreading new coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is taking toll on the economy as it has forced border trade on hold, particularly exports of fruits and farm produce from Vietnam to China.

The ministry called on all exporters to closely monitor the situation at these border gates and suggested them to export their goods through official channels.

The exporters can negotiate with their Chinese partners to shift to the official channels and apply all necessary steps to prepare for that in terms of packaging, labelling, traceability and food safety certification, the ministry recommended.

The ministry will continue its efforts to seek new foreign markets for the Vietnamese goods, especially fruits and farm produce./.

Ca Mau looks for measures to achieve export turnover target

In the context of the complicated development of the acute respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the Ca Mau provincial People’s Committee has held a meeting to discuss measures for supporting local enterprises to realise the export target of 1.2 billion USD in export turnover it has set for this year.

Chairman of the committee Nguyen Tien Hai has asked relevant departments and sectors of the locality to keep a close watch on the situation in order to update information to local enterprises, thus helping them proactively prepare production and processing plans.

Local enterprises will also benefit from preferential policies on capital and interest rate, he said.

According to the provincial Department of Industry and Trade, the just-ratified European Union – Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) will help Vietnam expand shrimp shipments to European markets.

Export enterprises in Ca Mau should strive to fully tap opportunities brought about by the agreement to increase the export turnover of shrimp and other key products, it said.

Ca Mau’s export turnover is estimated to reach about 60 million USD in January, up 7 percent year-on-year. Of this, the aquaculture export valued nearly 59 million USD, 8 percent higher than that of the same period last year.

The main export markets of Ca Mau are the US, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Canada, Australia, China, and European nations./.

Petrol prices drop for third time

The retail prices of petrol were strongly reduced starting 3pm on February 14 in the latest review, the third decrease since the beginning of the year.

The Ministries of Industry and Trade, and Finance review fuel prices every 15 days to adjust domestic prices in accordance with fluctuations in the global market.

Price of E5RON92 dropped by 765 VND per litre to 18,503 VND (0.80 USD) per litre at the highest, while that of RON95-III was adjusted down by 742 VND per litre to 19,380 VND per litre.

The prices of diesel 0.05S and kerosene were capped at 15,175 VND and 13,954 VND per litre, dropping 961 VND and 1,108 VND per litre, respectively.

Meanwhile, mazut 180CST is sold at no more than 11,652 VND per kg, down 792 VND per kg.

The two ministries are flexibly using the petrol price stabilisation fund as a tool to ensure domestic petrol prices reflect global trend and curb inflation in the face of the acute respiratory disease caused by a new strain of coronavirus (COVID-19).

They decided to subsidise 100 VND and 600 VND per litre for E5RON92, RON95, and 700 VND for diesel and kerosene, and 200 VND per kg for mazut./.

Seminar reviews decade-long continuous efforts for EVFTA

The government portal held a seminar in Hanoi on February 14 to review the decade-long efforts on the European Union – Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA).

On February 12, the EVFTA was ratified by the European Parliament with 401 votes for, 192 against and 40 abstentions. The move also reflected Vietnam’s important political stature in the region.

Once the deal takes effect, over 99 percent of tariff lines will be removed, thus creating favourable conditions for the EU’s exports to Vietnam.

Speaking at the event, President of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry Vu Tien Loc described the EU as a huge market with the world’s biggest purchasing power.

Head of the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Multilateral Trade Policy Department Luong Hoang Thai said the EVFTA marks the success of the economy during global integration and reflects determination in expanding trade ties with the EU.

Head of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s International Cooperation Department Nguyen Do Anh Tuan said the EU has a need to import about 150 billion USD worth of Vietnamese farm produce each year, and this means the room remains huge.

Meanwhile, Vice President of the Vietnam General Confederation of Labour Ngo Duy Hieu affirmed that workers will have more competitive and sustainable jobs with higher income thanks to the deal./.

Long An exports 50 tonnes of dragon fruit by sea a day

The Dragon Fruit Association of southern Long An province exports 50 tonnes of dragon fruit a day on average to China and other Southeast Asian nations by sea as export by road has faced lots of difficulties due to the outbreak of the acute respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

The association has exported over 1,000 tonnes since the Lunar New Year festival which fell on January 25 this year, Sai Gon Giai phong newspaper reported.

According to Chairman of the association Nguyen Quoc Trinh, the outbreak has long caused stagnancy in dragon fruit export and price drop for farmers.

Before Tet holiday, traders paid as low as 5,000 VND per kg of red flesh dragon fruit. The price increases to 12,000-15,000 VND per kg now. After transporting the fruit to China and some other nations by sea, mostly through Cat Lai seaport, traders sell the fruit in local markets at the price of 40,000-42,000 VND per kg

The volume of dragon fruit exported by sea has been increasing for the last few days./.

Tiki among top brands in all categories in YouGov BrandIndex

Tiki is the only e-commerce platform to be among top brands in all three categories of YouGov in 2019: Top Advocacy, Top Index and Top Recommend.

In a release on February 14, the company said it ranks first in Vietnam’s e-commerce market and in the top five in the Top Advocacy Rankings, which honour brands achieving the highest satisfaction rate from customers.

It is in the top 10 in the Top Index Rankings.

The rankings are based on a measurement of the overall brand health calculated by taking the average of impression, quality, value, satisfaction, recommend, and reputation.

According to YouGov, the recommend score asks customers the question "Would you recommend the brand to a friend or colleague?" thus arriving at the proportion of a brand's customers who are willing to recommend it to others.

BrandIndex is an authoritative measure of brand perception.

Unlike any other brand intelligence measurement services, it continuously measures public perception of thousands of brands across dozens of sectors./.

EVFTA gives new boost to Vietnam-Czech Republic economic ties

The European Parliament (EP)’s ratification of the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) and the EU-Vietnam Investment Protection Agreement on February 12 has been applauded in the Czech Republic.

Czech member of the EP and EP Vice President Dita Charanzova welcomed the ratification, saying the European Commission successfully negotiated a high-quality agreement.

She held that the EVFTA will create conditions for opening a new market for Czech companies, and a trade agreement with a country like Vietnam is important to an export-oriented economy like the Czech Republic.

She noted Vietnam is a traditional trade partner of her country, and the deal provides considerable advantages for Czech firms in trade competition.

Sharing the view, some economic experts of the Czech Republic believed that the EVFTA will generate big opportunities for the two countries to expand bilateral economic and trade ties as under this agreement, almost all tariff barriers will be gradually removed. This will help Czech businesses to boost exports in the fields they have strength in like textile-garment, glass, automobile, mechanics, electronic technique, food and chemical manufacturing.

According to the Czech Republic’s Foreign Ministry, the EVFTA will help increase the country’s exports of mechanical products to Vietnam by over 30 percent in the next few years, and Czech enterprises will also have chances to engage in public procurement in Vietnam.

Vice President of the Czech Chamber of Commerce Borivoj Minar said the EVFTA will bring about important benefits to Czech businesses since about 85 percent of the country’s exports to Vietnam will be subject to tax exemptions. Besides, it will also help Vietnamese companies to boost shipments to the EU nation.

Reporting on the EVFTA ratification by the EP, Czech media like TV broadcaster Česká televize, economic newspaper Hospodárske noviny and news website Novinky.cz highlighted the pact’s significance to and benefits for the economy of the EU, as well as the Czech Republic. They noted that when coming into force, the EVFTA will provide conditions for expanding trade and promoting employment and economic growth in both sides through the gradual elimination of 99 percent of tariff lines./.

Vietnam, India to boost exports to each other’s markets

With the comprehensive strategic partnership and large purchasing power, Vietnam and India have large potential to increase two-way trade via boosting the export of their strong commodities to each other’s markets, trade officials of the two countries said.

 

Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Cao Quoc Hung recently held a working session with his Indian counterpart Anup Wadhawan in New Delhi on how to bolster bilateral trade.

Hung said Vietnam has high-quality and competitive products such as agro-fishery and fresh fruits, but the exports of these products are facing difficulties due to the outbreak of the acute respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in China.

He asked the Indian Ministry of Commerce and Industry to help with the promotion of Vietnamese agro-fishery and fruits, especially dragon fruit and basa fish, to Indian businesses and consumers.

The Deputy Minister also informed the Indian official about the outcomes of the working sessions on February 12 between the Vietnamese ministry and Indian Importers Chambers of Commerce and Industry, the Indian Trade Promotion Council, and supermarket chains.

Hung said Indian firms praised the quality and taste of Vietnamese fruits such as dragon fruit, lychee, longan, and rambutan. They hoped to see more trade promotion activities to build brand for Vietnamese dragon fruit in India.

Besides agro-fishery products, Vietnam also has a developed garment-textile industry. However, in the context that China is suspending the operation of many manufacturing factories, Vietnam is facing difficulties in material supply for the apparel sector, Hung said, asking for India’s assistance in this field.

For his part, Anup Wadhawan agreed with the Vietnamese Deputy Minister to boost bilateral trade and step up trade promotion activities and business exchanges, especially in 2020 – the year Vietnam and India mark the 48th anniversary of their diplomatic ties, and Vietnam holds the Chair of ASEAN.

He added that apart from dragon fruit and basa fish, Vietnam is able to boost exports of other products to India./.

PetroVietnam Construction JSC at the risk of de-listing

If its losses for the third consecutive year are verified in the audited financial report, PetroVietnam Construction JSC (HNX: PVX) may have satisfied one of the conditions of mandatory delisting.

According to the financial report for the last quarter as well as the whole year of 2019, PVX's accumulated losses as of the end of December 31 increased to VND3.89 trillion ($169.13 million), making up 97 per cent of the equity (VND4 trillion – $173.9 million).

In the fourth quarter, PVX collected VND316 billion ($13.74 million) in revenue, decreasing by 72 per cent on-year. PVX had to sell its products below cost while expenses remained high, resulting in a net loss of VND81 billion ($3.5 million), half the loss of VND160 billion ($6.96 million) in the last quarter of 2018.

For the whole year of 2019, PVX reached VND1.94 trillion ($84.35 million) in net revenue, down 42 per cent over the same period, and after deducting expenses, the parent company recorded a net loss of VND198 billion ($8.6 million).

This is the third consecutive year of loss for PVX, with losses of VND416 billion ($18.1 million) in 2017 and VND414 billion ($18 million) in 2018, respectively. This is one of the conditions for mandatory delisting under Decree No.58/2012/ND-CP of the government. Previously, PVX also suffered big losses in 2012 and 2013 but managed to “escape” delisting in the last minute.

As of December 31, 2019, the corporation's total accumulated losses increased to VND3.89 trillion ($169.13 million), with short-term liabilities at VND8.2 trillion ($356.5 million), exceeding short-term total assets by VND535 billion ($23.26 million).

The corporation's working capital is insufficient to pay its due debts. Because of this, the audited 2019 semi-annual report raised doubts whether the corporation can continue operating.

Currently, the total assets of PVX shrank to VND9.9 trillion ($430.4 3million), with inventory (VND3.5 trillion - $152.17 million) and accounts receivable (VND3.3 trillion – $143.5 million) account for the largest proportion, accounting for nearly 35.3 and 33 per cent of the assets.

PVX is the EPC contractor of Thai Binh 2 Thermal Power project, one of the key national projects that are running behind schedule. Many former leaders of PVX such as former chairman Trinh Xuan Thanh and former general director Vu Duc Thuan were imprisoned for wrongdoings at this project. PVX is still the general contractor on paper. However, chairman of the Board of Directors of Vietnam Oil and Gas Group (PetroVietnam) said that the group is directly taking part in, directing, and operating all issues.

On the stock exchange, PVX continued to plunge and was only VND1,100 (4.7 US cent) on February 6.

Son La hydropower company aims to produce more electricity in 2020

Son La hydropower company has set a target of producing over 11.7 billion kWh of electricity in 2020, up about 2.5 billion kWh compared to the previous year.

Director Khuong The Anh said his firm, which manages the Son La and Lai Chau hydropower plants, will strive to ensure safe and effective operation of the two plants by intensifying inspection and regular repair of technological equipment systems.

In 2019, the two plants generated over 9.2 billion kWh of electricity.

The company contributed over 1.8 trillion VND (77.4 million USD) to the State budget.

With a total investment of 60 trillion VND (approximately 2.85 billion USD), the Son La Hydroelectric Power Plant was officially put into operation on December 23, 2012, after seven years of construction, three years earlier than scheduled.

It has six turbines with a total capacity of 2,600 MW and will provide the national grid with over 10 billion kWh of electricity each year.

Meanwhile, the Lai Chau hydropower plant, a major facility on the Da River, has been listed as an important work related to national security.

The plant, located in Nam Nhun district of the northwestern province of Lai Chau, consists of three turbines with the total capacity of 1,200 MW, producing 4.67 billion kWh of electricity annually on average. Since its inauguration in late 2016, the plant has generated more than 15.1 billion kWh to the national power system.

Binh Phuoc farmers see good cashew crop, but lower prices

Farmers in Binh Phuoc province have begun to harvest their cashew crop and yields are higher than last year because of favourable weather and the efforts of authorities and farmers to prevent diseases.

Last year, many cashew farms in the southeastern province, the country’s largest cashew producer, were affected by diseases and had low yields, but authorities and farmers have taken measures to tend disease-affected orchards this year, enabling them to recover and bear more fruits.

This year, the rate of flowers developing into fruits is in fact high at more than 50 percent in most orchards, according to farmers.

Dieu Thanh, a farmer in Bu Gia Map district’s Dak O commune, said the weather this year is much better for cashew trees to fruit than last year.

Last year, inclement weather caused disease outbreaks, making his yield to decline, and his family had to spend dozens of millions of dong on fertiliser and labour to revive the orchard this year, he said.

Most cashew trees flowering this year have a high fruiting rate and harvest has begun, he said.

Dieu Hung, who has a 4ha cashew orchard in Bu Gia Map district’s Phu Van commune, said the harvest season this year came a few days after Tet (Lunar New Year) making it convenient for farmers to clean their orchard and do the harvest.

At the beginning of the blossoming season, the province's Agriculture Service Centre organised farming courses for hundreds of cashew farmers.

They were taught techniques to make the trees flower at the same time and how to treat some common diseases.

In the province, Ba Gia Map, Bu Dang and Bu Dopp districts have the largest cashew growing areas.

Nguyen Van Bac, acting director of the Bu Dop District Agriculture Service Centre, said the centre instructs farmers to regularly monitor their cashew farms to promptly discover diseases and pests and control them.

The most common disease is anthracnose, a fungal infection that damages flowers and fruits. Mosquito bugs and the striped mealybug are major pests.

Farmers are having a good harvest, but the price of cashew is currently low.

Traders are buying the nuts on farms at around 28,000 VND (1.2 USD) a kilogramme, down 10,000-12,000 VND from a year ago, farmers said.

The province has more than 130,000ha under cashew, according to its Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

It is among the crops that have helped farmers escape poverty in recent years.

The province’s cashew nut has been granted geographical indication certification./.

FPT targets 18 percent growth in pre-tax profit

FPT Corporation is aiming to earn 32.45 trillion VND (over 1.38 billion USD) in revenue and 5.51 trillion VND in pre-tax profit this year, gaining 17 percent and 18 percent respectively against 2019.

With a digital transformation strategy in place, the corporation expects to maintain its growth momentum from last year, with its technology business acting as a key growth driver, according to its newly-adopted 2020 business plan.

FPT also plans to issue nearly 3.4 million shares, equivalent to 0.5 percent of its charter capital, before June 30. The shares will be non-transferable for 3 years.

In addition, the group has approved raising FPT Software’s charter capital to 2.8 trillion VND from 2.4 trillion VND, and FPT Education’s to 1 trillion VND from 600 billion VND.

Ending 2019, FPT Corporation reported a pre-tax profit of nearly 4.7 trillion VND (203.3 million USD) on revenue of 27.7 trillion VND (1.19 billion USD), both up around 20 percent.

Earnings per share (EPS) were 4,220 VND, up 19 percent.

The profit margin was slightly up at 16.8 percent compared to 16.6 percent in 2018.

Revenue from the technology business exceeded 15.78 trillion VND, accounting for 57 percent of the corporation’s total income and up 17.8 percent year on year, while its pre-tax profit reached more than 1.97 trillion VND, up 29.9 percent./.

Hai Duong prepares to export fresh lychees to Japan

The northern province of Hai Duong is taking the necessary measures to export fresh lychees to Japan in 2020.

In late 2019, Japan officially announced that it would open the door for Vietnamese lychees following more than five years of negotiations between the Vietnamese Plant Protection Department and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan (MAFF).

After receiving the department’s document on requirements for lychees exported to Japan, Hai Duong province’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development asked the People’s Committees of Thanh Ha district and Chi Linh city, which grow lychees, to register new regions that grow lychees for export in 2020.

The localities were asked to check plantations that supply lychees to the United States, Australia and the European Union, and finish area codes for regions that meet criteria to export the fruit to Japan in February.

The provincial Plant Protection Sub-department will provide support for exporters and help connect them with lychee growers, and supervise plant quarantine. The department said it has contacted several potential exporters inside and outside the province to start promotions and seek Japanese partners. It is also preparing to provide technical guidance for farmers.

Vietnamese lychees exported to Japan must be grown in gardens supervised and granted area codes by the Plant Protection Department, and comply with Japan’s regulations on plant quarantine and food safety.

Exported batches must be packed and treated with Methyl Bromide at facilities recognised by the Plant Protection Department and the MAFF with the minimum dosage of 32g/m3 for two hours under the supervision of Vietnamese and Japanese plant quarantine officers.

They must be enclosed with a phytosanitary certificate issued by the Plant Protection Department.

Hai Duong province has about 10,000 hectares of lychee mostly in Thanh Ha district and Chi Linh city. In particular, over 300ha of VietGAP certified lychees and over 80 percent of the production area are run under the VietGAP process. Currently, 13 areas covering over 130ha have been granted export codes to the US, Australia, the EU and the Republic of Korea./.

HCMC wants site clearance for 2nd metro line done by June 30

The site clearance work for the second metro line project in HCMC must be completed by June 30, according to an order by Tran Luu Quang, deputy secretary of the municipal Party Committee.

At a meeting on February 14 to discuss the site clearance, compensation and resettlement for the urban rail link between Ben Thanh Market in District 1 and Tham Luong Depot in District 12, Quang asked the districts where the line will pass through to complete the compensation for affected households by June 30, to allow the city to take the next steps.

If work on the site clearance is slow, the capital allocated for the project cannot be disbursed in October, which would affect not only the project’s progress, but also the prestige of the city.

Site clearance is a tough job, which requires the strong efforts of the agencies responsible for the work, Quang said.

The steering committee for site clearance, compensation and resettlement for the project will hold monthly meetings to speed up completion of the work. Officials noted that relevant departments, agencies and districts must cooperate with each other to remove obstacles within their jurisdictions.

The city’s metro line No. 2 is 11 kilometers long, including 9.1 kilometers underground and 1.9 kilometers elevated. With 10 stations, the route will pass through districts 1, 3, 10, 12, Tan Binh and Tan Phu.

Last year, the investment in the project was revised up to nearly VND47.9 trillion (US$2.1 billion). The project is expected to be ready in 2026 and transport some 140,000 passengers per day in the first phase.

Japanese firms expect to expand operations in Vietnam

Some 64% of Japanese enterprises participating in a survey intend to expand their business in Vietnam, the highest proportion among the ASEAN countries, heard attendees at a press briefing on February 14.

Speaking at the press conference to announce the results of the 2019 survey of the business conditions of Japanese firms in Asia and Oceania, Takeo Nakajima, chief representative of the Japan External Trade Organization in Hanoi, noted that the intention to expand remains strong among Japanese firms in Vietnam.

The reason for this is that they expect their profits to improve in the country, the chief representative stated.

Speaking at the event, Do Nhat Hoang, head of the Foreign Investment Agency, under the Ministry of Planning and Investment, explained that Japanese firms still believe in the Vietnamese business market.

In 2019, the number of Japanese firms visiting Vietnam to research and study the investment and business climate rose by 30%, Nguoi Lao Dong newspaper reported, citing Hoang.

Nakajima pointed out that projects related to power and smart cities have drawn the most interest from Japanese firms.

Apart from this, the number of tourists exchanged between Vietnam and Japan has reached 1.4 million each year, revealing the great potential of the tourism sector in Vietnam, thereby attracting more Japanese investors.

The survey indicated that 42.3% of 122 respondents plan to move their production bases to Vietnam in the coming years, while over 62% of these surveyed companies aim to move out of China.

Nakajima revealed that many firms prefer to open production facilities in Vietnam or other countries while maintaining operations in China to disperse business risks in China due to high production costs.

Nghe An culls 7,000 sick poultry

Officials in the north-central province of Nghe An have culled 7,000 chickens and ducks displaying symptoms of illness and whose origin was unclear.

A team, including market surveillance employees and local police in Quynh Luu District, stopped a truck driven by Nguyen Ngoc Thoi, residing in Danang City, at around 8:30 p.m. on February 13, reported VietnamPlus.

The officials discovered 80 cartons containing 3,600 chicks and 3,400 ducklings that were about one week old on the vehicle.

The driver failed to show quarantine or origin certificates for the birds. Officials reported that the birds looked unhealthy and weak.

After completing legal procedures, the officials decided to immediately cull all of the poultry, in line with prevailing regulations.

Quynh Luu is currently the epicenter of the A/H5N6 avian influenza in Nghe An, as four outbreaks have been reported in communes in Quynh Hong, Quynh Ba, and Quynh Hau. The district is home to farms raising some two million poultry.

The north-central province is adopting measures to prevent the bird flu virus from spreading to other areas.

Boeing hopes to rebound with new focus on Vietnam

Boeing expects to recover by setting a new target on Vietnam after the two tragic crashes of Ethiopian Airlines and Indonesian Lion Air of the manufacturer's causing the death of 346 people.

Newswire SCMP cited that US-based aircraft manufacturer Boeing is eyeing the Vietnamese market because of its fast-growing middle-class as well as high demand for travel. The plan was made after Boeing's poor performance at the Singapore Airshow.

“It’s been a robust market which is growing at very fast rates. There are great opportunities and a lot of activity around low-cost carriers there,” said Randy Tinseth, vice chairman of marketing at Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “As you can also see, we are starting to see more and more interest in long-haul flying.”

Its first step in materialising the plan was providing the latest aircraft model Boeing 777X to local airline Bamboo Airways. According to the company, Vietnam recorded a growth rate of 15 per cent in seat capacity over the past decade, while the rate was less than 10 per cent in Indonesia.

Moreover, Boeing also intends to target Southeast Asia and emphasised Vietnam, Indonesia, and Thailand as the three fastest-growing aviation markets in the world. The aeroplane manufacturer forecasted Southeast Asia’s tourism by airways to grow by 7.1 per cent in the next two decades, while the European market’s growth will be 2.8 per cent.

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The spike in the number of low-cost airlines in the area is one of the reasons bringing Southeast Asia on the radar of plane makers. Tinseth also said that the regional airlines will need 4,500 aeroplanes worth $710 billion in the next two decades.

However, Boeing has been starved of orders since early last year due to the Boeing 737 Max crisis. According to Reuters, Boeing has received no orders in January 2020.

Regarding the hardships, Tinseth revealed that Boeing has been working with more than 40 regulators around the world.

“We expect that the Boeing 737 Max would return to service in the middle of this year. But between now and then, we have a lot of work to do with the authorities,” Tinseth said, adding he wished to get 400 planes back in service.

157 people died in the crash of Ethiopian Airlines’ B737 Max 8, shedding further doubt on the safety of Boeing 737 Max aircraft, not long after 189 deceased in another crash in last October. The two crashed B737 Max aircraft and the decision of national authorities around the globe to ground the aircraft may lead to Boeing losing $600 billion worth of orders for more than 5,000 aircraft across the world.