EVFTA - A catalyst for Vietnamese businesses: diplomat hinh anh 1

The European Union-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) has created a favourable corridor for trade between the two sides and brought new impetus to economic cooperation between Vietnam and the EU, Nguyen Van Thao, head of the Mission of Vietnam to the EU, has said.

Thao, who is also Vietnamese Ambassador to Beligum and Luxembourg, told Vietnam New Agency in an interview on prospects for further promoting the EVFTA in the future.

He said the agreement took effect on August 1 last yer at a hard time when EU countries were very heavily affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, the pandemic has  continued to break out in Southeast Asian countries. Vietnam is not an exception. The country has also suffered big impacted by the pandemic.

However, trade turnover between Vietnam and the EU still reached 50 billion USD last year, and grew by 4.5 percent in the last five months of 2020.

This was an encouraging result given the context of 2020 when the EU’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) declined by 6.2 percent, he said.

In  addition, the EU's economy  shrank 0.4 percent in the first quarter of this year, but two-way trade turnover still increased by 15 percent. Thus, Thao said, it affirmed the strong effect of the EVFTA.

According to the Ambassador, this positive outcome has shown that Vietnamese products have met the high standards of the EU market. At a time when the EU is facing many difficulties, Vietnamese goods can still enter this market, contributing to maintaining and diversifying supply chains in the context of global supply chain disruptions.

Thao emphasised that there’s huge potential between Vietnam and the EU to tap.

EU countries want to import agro- forestry- fishery products outside the bloc at a value of more than 150 billion USD per year, while Vietnam's export turnover of these items to the EU is about 5 billion USD, he said, adding that the incentives from the EVFTA with a tariff rate of zero percent, and harmonious trade conditions will help increase the country’s export turnover to the EU.

However, the ambasador said there is still much work to be done in the coming time.

It iss necessary for the Vietnamese government to continue to exchange and negotiate with the EU to perfect standards, regulations and mutual recognition to help the two sides' goods penetrate more deeply into each other's markets, he said.

Thao said that trade and technical barriers need to be removed. It is essential for the Vietnamese side to push for early ratification of the EU-Vietnam Investment Protection Agreement (EVIPA) because trade and investment have a very close relationship. The agreement has now been signed and is awaiting ratification by the parliaments of EU member states.

EVIPA will promote two-way investment with high-tech and innovative services, the ambassador said, adding that applying new European technologies will help increase the competitiveness for Vietnamese products and enhance trade growth.

Referring to the skills that Vietnamese businesses need to supplement to stay firmly in the EU "playground" in the near future, Thao stressed that more capital should be poured in to improve the competitiveness for their products in terms of quality and scale to meet the high standards of the European market, while ensuring a sustainable supply for European customers.

In addition, it is a must for Vietnamese enterprises to learn about business opportunities as well as the legal system of the EU, the customs, and consumption habits of European people, the Ambassador said.

He also underscored the importance of coordination among Vietnamese businesses, saying if they work together, it will create a higher competitiveness in terms of quantity, negotiation, and building a network of relationships in Europe.

Only by doing so, can Vietnamese businesses succeed in the coming time and take full advanges of what the EVFTA brings about, the ambassador said./.

PetroVietnam: H1 pre-tax profit surpasses plan by 165 percent

The Vietnam Oil and Gas Group (PetroVietnam) reported that its pre-tax profit in the first six months of the year surpassed the plan by 165 percent and tripled from that in the same period last year, reaching 21.3 trillion VND (926 million USD).

Thanks to global economic recovery and the COVID-19 pandemic being brought under control, PetroVietnam met and surpassed almost assigned targets.

During the first half, PetroVietnam’s crude oil and condensate output surpassed the plan by 15 percent, contributing to fulfilling the goal of tapping 9.68 million tonnes of oil equivalent. The output of petrol, oil and fertiliser was also higher than the target.

The group’s total revenue hit 299.3 trillion VND, exceeding the plan by 20 percent and up 22 percent on a yearly basis. Its contribution to the State budget soared by 33 percent to 45.2 trillion VND.

With return on equity (ROE) reaching 4.6 percent in the first half, PetroVietnam was among oil and gas companies with the best ROE in the world.

Its strategic products such as oil, gas, petroleum, electricity and fertiliser not only brought high revenue to the State budget but also helped stabilise market prices, especially amid the complicated developments of COVID-19 pandemic and the hike in prices of imported necessities.

Apart from efficient business activities, PetroVietnam also achieved encouraging results in investment. The group has gradually tackled difficulties in delayed projects, and accelerated the building of value chains to tap the advantages and strength of member companies. As of the end of June, it launched 19 connectivity chains.

The group also cut costs by over 1.6 trillion VND, or 62 percent of its plan.

In response to the Government’s appeal, PetroVietnam has so far donated over 500 billion VND to the national COVID-19 vaccine fund and supported anti-pandemic work in localities nationwide. The group’s nearly 10,000 employees have been vaccinated against COVID-19.

Chairman of the PetroVietnam’s Board of Directors Hoang Quoc Vuong said challenges remain in the last half of this year, especially amid the complicated developments of the COVID-19 pandemic with the emergence of new variants and uncertain oil prices.

In the current context, units need to stay united and help each other fulfill assigned plans, especially those in value chains, Vuong said.

PetroVietnam General Director Le Manh Hung said in order to reach 2021 targets, PetroVietnam and its affiliates need to stay updated and improve forecast about macro-economic situation and markets, in order to timely and flexibly adjust management measures.

The group is also taking synchronous measures to keep its staff safe from the pandemic, thus preventing disruption to production.

PetroVietnam will also expand the markets of gas, petrochemical and other products; improve management work, tackle difficulties in production and trade in State management agencies.

At the same time, it is continuing to optimise investment, production costs, connectivity chains and increase mutual support among units.

The Politburo issued Resolution No 41-NQ/TW, dated July 23, 2015, on the strategy for developing Vietnam’s oil and gas industry to 2025 and vision to 2035, and Resolution No 55-NQ/TW, dated February 11, 2020, on the national energy development strategy to 2030 and vision to 2045. Both resolutions stress that PetroVietnam must further apply scientific and technological advances in petroleum exploitation as well as the production and trading of oil and gas, electricity, fertiliser, and new energy such as shale oil, gas hydrate, and hydrogen gas, so as to guarantee national energy security.

The group’s development strategy also emphasises the overall goal of building strong scientific and technological capacity by adopting breakthrough solutions, which is considered a foundation for PetroVietnam to accelerate its growth and develop sustainably.

Over its 60 years of development, PetroVietnam has worked to improve its sci-tech development and application capacity, adopted advanced techniques and technologies, and made the best use of existing technologies in order to keep up with its counterparts in the region and the world./.

Son La longans in harvest season

Visitors to Song Ma district in the northern mountainous province of Son La these days will see a bustling atmosphere of farmers harvesting their ripened longans. The fruit has recently been exported to the EU and the UK despite the complex developments of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Song Ma district is currently the largest longan area in Son La province, with over 7,200 hectares, of which nearly 5,900 hectares have been harvested, for an output of over 55,800 tonnes, or more than 55 percent of the province’s total longan yield. More specifically, Son La’s longans have officially conquered the fastidious markets of the UK and Europe.

Song Ma longans are characterised by large fruit, thin skin, thick pulp, and a sweet aroma. Local farmers in Song Ma district also make dried longans to diversify products, generate more jobs, and help improve Song Ma’s trademark.

The province recently granted a Trademark Registration Certificate to Son La longans, and exported a batch of Song Ma - Son La longans to the EU and the UK.

Despite the complex developments of the COVID-19 pandemic in Vietnam and around the world, Song Ma longans continue to be exported to the EU and the UK. This is affirmation of the reputation and quality of the province’s agricultural products, creating a solid foundation for the supply of longans to both domestic and foreign markets./.

Vietnam strives for over 4 billion USD in shrimp exports

Vietnam’s agricultural sector is focusing on solving difficulties to earn over 4 billion USD from shrimp exports in 2021.

Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Phung Duc Tien said that the ministry will work with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment on land procedures as a legal basis for granting farming area codes and ensuring traceability.

Biosecurity is an important requirement of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) to be able to export whole shrimps, Tien said, adding that the ministry will discuss with localities to find radical solutions to ensure biosecurity.

Localities with shrimp farms should actively strengthen information, dissemination and transfer of science and technology to replicate shrimp farming models using probiotics and high technology as well as effective production linkage models to help farmers and businesses reduce damage and take initiative in production.

The ministry will also coordinate with relevant parties to seek solutions to addressing difficulties related to credit.

According to the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), Vietnam’s shrimp export revenue in June hit nearly 402 million USD, bringing the six-month figure to 1.7 billion USD, up 13 percent year-on-year.

Specifically, the country’s shrimp exports to the US grew by 45 percent monthly; Japan up 17 percent; the Republic of Korea, 10 percent; and several European nations, 15-60 percent.

Though the US accounts for 30 percent of the world’s shrimp import turnover and 22 percent of Vietnam’s shrimp exports, Vietnamese shrimp products secured only 8.5 percent of the US market share, behind India, Indonesia and Ecuador./.

Organic farms, agro-tourism in Bạc Liêu yield higher profits, protect the environment

The Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta province of Bạc Liêu is promoting organic and other high-quality standards for rice and key agricultural products as well as agro-tourism services in a bid to raise farmers' incomes.

The province aims to have 41,000ha rice under organic standards and 100,000ha of large-scale rice fields by 2025, or more than 51 per cent of the province’s total rice growing areas.

More than 1,700ha will be devoted to disease-free areas producing high-quality rice seeds. Varieties like fragrant rice, specialty rice and saltwater-resistant rice will account for 92 per cent of the province’s total rice growing areas.

According to Lưu Hoàng Ly, director of the province Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, 58,600ha of rice will be grown in the freshwater area located north of National Highway 1A. Shrimp – rice farming areas will be expanded to 43,000 – 48,000ha north of the highway.

Farmers are being encouraged to engage in sustainable intensive farming and advanced techniques, and follow environmental-protection measures such as decreased use of pesticides.

New rice varieties that have high yield and quality, are resistant to disease, and can adapt to climate change will be grown.

"Clean" vegetables will be planted under good agricultural practices (GAP) standards. Vegetables will also be grown in rice fields in rotation to improve farmers' incomes, and high-value fruits will be grown for domestic consumption and exports.

Organic farming

Under the central government’s Organic Agriculture Development Project for 2020 - 30, Bạc Liêu started two organic farming models last year, according to the province Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

One farming model is the intercropping of black tiger shrimp, crab and fish in the same ponds in Đông Hải District on a total of 80ha in four communes.

Hồ Thanh Tuấn, head of the Đông Hải Bureau of Agriculture and Rural Development, said the model offered a profit of more than VNĐ80 million (US$3,500) per hectare a crop, VNĐ25 – 30 million ($1,100 -1,300) higher than traditional farming models.

“The most important thing is that the breeding environment is protected and the risk of disease is mitigated."

The second farming model rotates the cultivation of shrimp and ST24 and ST25 rice varieties, two of the world’s best quality rice, in the same fields, or grows only ST24 and ST25 rice varieties, on a total area of 3,560ha.

Võ Văn Thum, chairman of the Lộc Ninh Commune People’s Committee in Hồng Dân District, said the shrimp - rice farming model had high profits, especially the ST24 and ST25 rice varieties.

“Outlets are guaranteed for farmers, so the model will be expanded,” he said.

Under the 2020 - 30 project, the department will invest in infrastructure and strengthen State management in agricultural production, according to Ly, director of the province's Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The province is seeking funds from the central Government to invest in irrigation, transport and power supply systems.

Agro-tourism services

Besides high-quality agricultural products, the province is also developing agro-tourism services.

Farmer Phương Văn Sị in Bạc Liêu City’s Vĩnh Trạch Đông Commune, for example, is offering tourism services at his 3.5ha jujube orchard. Tourists can help harvest ripe jujube, and eat and buy the fruit.

When jujube trees begin to bear fruit, Sị uses nets to cover the orchard to prevent pests from damaging the fruit. "This method produces clean fruit as the orchard does not use pesticides," he said.

His jujube sells for prices 20 – 30 per cent higher than those planted under other methods.

The commune has five farming households offering agro-tourism services at fruit orchards.

In Bạc Liêu City’s Vĩnh Trạch Đông and Hiệp Thành communes, 48 households offer tourism services at their orchards that have a total of 1,100 longan trees aged 100 years or more.

Cao Xuân Thu Vân, deputy chairwoman of the province People’s Committee, said the province was promoting the value of old longan orchards by both preserving them and offering tourism services. It had encouraged orchard owners to develop homestay services.

The province is also encouraging salt farmers in Đông Hải District’s Long Điền Đông Commune to offer tourism services. Bạc Liêu is the delta’s largest salt producer and has nearly 1,600ha of salt.

The province is calling for investment in agro-tourism, including eco-tourism areas along the sea and rivers, and bird gardens.

Farming cooperatives cultivate GAP-standard products, raise value in Kiên Giang

The Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta province of Kiên Giang is taking measures to develop the collective economy in the 2021-25 period in an aim to improve efficiency and produce high-value products.

The province, the country’s largest rice producer, plans to have 90 collective economy units and co-operatives that use advanced production techniques and have product value chains.

Fifty per cent of its collective economy units and co-operatives will have linkages with companies by 2025.

It aims to have 105 new co-operatives, 560 new co-operative groups and one co-operative alliance by 2025, with 90 per cent of them operating effectively and making profits.

To meet the targets, the province will develop information and legal regulations for the establishment of new co-operatives and co-operative groups and their operations.

The aim is to improve efficiency as well as provide professional skills for more than 6,100 staff members of co-operatives and co-operative groups.

It will offer financial support to these groups to participate in trade fairs, exhibitions and forums at home and abroad, and to register for certificates of product quality, brand names and origin.

Cooperatives operating in agriculture, forestry, fisheries and salt production will build processing and packaging facilities, irrigation works, and in-field roads.

The province has 493 co-operatives operating in various sectors, up 46 against 2019, and 2,109 co-operative groups, down 39 against 2019.

Co-operatives have at least seven members each and co-operative groups at least three members each.

This year Kiên Giang is spending nearly VNĐ30 billion (US$1.3 million) to support the development of the collective economy and new co-operatives, according to the province’s People’s Committee.

The money is being used to provide professional skills to members of co-operatives and co-operative groups, and organise trade promotion activities for them. It is also being used to help them build brand names and origin traceability.

The province’s Steering Committee for Renovation and Development of Collective Economy and Co-Operative will act as a link between companies and co-operatives.

This year the province plans to establish 50 new co-operatives and 10 new co-operative groups with value chains for their products, according to the steering committee. It will focus on new co-operatives and co-operative groups producing rice, sweet potato, vegetable, fruit and seafood.

It will also support the use of good agriculture practices (GAP) standards like VietGAP and Global GAP, and help cooperatives register for VietGAP and Global GAP certificates this year.

GAP standards

Under the province’s support policies, localities have developed co-operatives and co-operative groups that produce agricultural products to GAP standards or organic standards.

In U Minh Thượng, an agrarian district, local agricultural co-operatives and co-operative groups have produced organic products since 2018.

Đặng Xuân Thắng, deputy standing secretary of the U Minh Thượng Party Committee, said that agriculture, forestry and aquaculture are the district’s strong advantages, with rice, vegetables, fruit and shrimp the key products.

The district has encouraged farmers to cultivate shrimp-rice, freshwater fish, vegetables and fruits to VietGAP standards. These projects receive investment priority.

The district has set up a concentrated rice farming area, shrimp-rice farming area, and other farming areas for fish - rice farming, freshwater fish, fruit and vegetables.

It has more than 7,250ha of shrimp-rice farming areas, including more than 1,000ha of them with farm contracts that secure outlets and stable prices for farmers.

Many co-operatives and co-operative groups in the district have received certificates of VietGAP, Global Gap or organic standards for their products.

The Minh Dũng Hamlet rice-fish farming co-operative group in Minh Thuận Commune has an organic standard certificate, while the Agricultural Service Co-operative in An Minh Bắc Commune has received a GlobalGAP certificate.

The Kênh 10 Agricultural Service Co-operative in Minh Thuận Commune has a VietGAP certificate for 74ha of vegetables.

The district’s agricultural products planted under GAP and organic standards are guaranteed outlets by co-operatives and companies in and outside the province. 

Nearly 11,400 businesses withdraw from market each month

Approximately 11,400 local enterprises leave the market each month, with the number of newly-established businesses decreasing sharply in July by 33.8% compared to the same period from last year, according to information compiled by the Ministry of Planning and Investment.

The number of withdrawals can largely be attributed to social distancing measures being put in place across 20 provinces and cities nationwide due to complicated developments relating to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This has seen a total of 4,527 enterprises register to suspend their operations, an annual rise of 34.3%.

Roughly 3,932 enterprises have since halted their activities and have dissolution procedures pending, up 28.2% on-year, while 1,442 firms have since completed dissolution procedures, a drop of 4.1%.

There were 75,800 newly-established businesses during the seven-month period, with registered capital totaling over VND1 trillion, an increase of 0.8% in the number of enterprises and 13.8% up in terms of registered capital.

Furthermore, there were 29,600 businesses that resumed their operations during the reviewed period, up 3.6% against the same period from last year.

On average, approximately 15,100 enterprises are either newly-established firms or resume operations each month.

Despite this, nearly 79,700 enterprises suspended their operations or are pending dissolution procedures between January and July, a sharp year-on-year rise of 25.5%.

Steel producers record big profits on high prices

Steel producers continued to post great results in the second quarter of this year, supported by high steel prices.

In a statement to the State Securities Commission of Viet Nam (SSC), Hoa Phat Group (HPG) said that its revenue reached VND35.4 trillion (US$1.54 billion) in the second quarter, resulting in profit after tax of over VND9.7 trillion.

In the first half of this year, Hoa Phat reported revenue of nearly VND66.9 trillion, up 67 per cent year-on-year. Its profit after tax was more than VND16.7 trillion, three times higher than the same period last year.

The significant growth was driven by higher steel prices.

Due to disruptions amid COVID-19 outbreaks around the world, prices of materials for steel productions like coke and iron ore jumped, causing steel prices to surge.

On the Shanghai Futures Exchange, the price for October delivery of rebar was 5,737 yuan per ton yesterday, up 32 per cent since the beginning of 2021.

Strong construction activities during the first six months of the year also boosted steel product sales.

According to Viet Nam Steel Association (VSA), construction steel prices rose nearly 9.3 per cent for the year to VND16,500 per kg in July, which was up 50 per cent over the same period last year.

“The negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy have boosted the Government to carry out great fiscal stimulus measures, helping the recovery of demand for construction materials since the second half of 2020 until the first half of 2021,” Viet Capital Securities JSC (VCSC) said in its report.

In the first half of this year, “construction steel consumption and total sales of galvanised steel and steel pipes grew by 14 per cent and 36 per cent respectively over last year,” the company added.

Tien Len Steel Group JSC (TLH) also has just released its second quarter results showing good performance. Of which, it witnessed a consolidated net revenue of nearly VND1.4 trillion, up 36 per cent over last year.

During the period, the company’s sales expenses rose sharply to over VND31.4 billion from just over VND8.1 billion of the second quarter in 2020.

However, the steel producer still set a record net profit of nearly VND196.7 billion, while it had lost over VND15.4 billion in the same period last year.

In the first six months of 2021, its net revenue reached nearly VND2.4 trillion, up 21 per cent year-on-year. This led to profit after tax of VND316.8 billion, compared to a loss of VND11.7 billion last year.

Similarly, Viet Nam Steel Corporation (TVN) posted net revenue of VND10.9 trillion in the second quarter, up 35.7 per cent over the year. The gain in revenue was over rises in cost of goods sold, so its gross profit climbed 128 per cent to VND886.6 billion.

 

After deducting expenses, the company’s profit after tax was VND576.3 billion, 2.6 times higher than the second quarter of 2020. This is also the highest quarterly profit since Viet Nam Steel was founded.

As of June 30, the company’s net revenue increased 32.5 per cent to VND20.37 trillion, resulting in profit after tax of 970.5 billion, 3.8 times higher than that of last year.

While steel maker Hoa Sen Group (HSG) posted an increase in revenue of 90 per cent to nearly VND13 trillion in the second quarter. Its profit after tax reached VND1.7 trillion, over 5 times higher than last year.

It reported net revenue of VND33 trillion and profit after tax of over VND3.37 trillion in the first six months of the year.

Gross profit expected to fall in rest of 2021

In the second half of 2021, VCSC believes that as China begins to taper economic stimulus, it will restrain the gain in global steel prices.

And even though high steel prices provide significant benefits for steel producers in the short term, it also creates economic pressure on many downstream industries including construction, machinery manufacturing, real estate and public investment.

"Higher construction steel prices have caused many small construction constructors to go bankrupt, and even big constructors to halt working," Tran Bao Thach, Deputy Director of Ha Noi Housing Investment and Development Corporation, said.

This situation will lead to a decrease in steel demand and will eventually rebalance the market.

The report noted that the difference between the price of hot rolled coil (HRC) and finished products of galvanised steel companies was much thinner than the difference between iron ore and construction steel. This will increase the risk of lower margins as low-cost inventory runs out and input costs catch up with product prices or product prices fall.

VCSC's scenarios suggest that the profit margin of steel producers will drop in the second half of 2021 from the high in the first six months of the year, mainly due to raw material prices rising and selling prices across the supply chain will adjust in 2022.

In addition, the rally of steel prices is expected to slow down in the rest of 2021, resulting in a reversal of gross profit.

On the stock market, HPG, TLH, TLV and HSG shares all closed higher on Friday, up in a range of 0.42 - 2.46 per cent.

Inspections no longer needed to free up flow of goods into the capital

No inspections will be carried out at checkpoints for vehicles which have valid QR Code identification certificates to transport goods serving construction, production, business, import and export and consumption on all highways, national roads, provincial roads, inter-district roads and urban roads nation-wide from Friday.

Deputy Prime Minister Le Van Thanh said via Document No 5187/VPCP-CN on Thursday in response to congestion at checkpoints amid social distancing measures.

In cases where vehicles had no identification certificate or QR code or the certificate had expired, the authorities will check the driver’s medical declaration and test results along with anyone else accompanying the vehicle.

The checks on vehicles at collection points such as ports, stations, warehouses, industrial zones and production facilities must ensure all virus prevention requirements without causing congestion.

Thanh also requested that people on vehicles transporting goods must strictly comply with virus prevention regulations and have a negative COVID-19 PCR or rapid-test certificate within the previous 72 hours.

In virus-hit areas, the Government asked localities to have appropriate processes in place to limit vehicles entering the centres but to ensure smooth transportation, circulation and distribution of goods at the same time.

This Government’s document clarified earlier regulations and is designed to dispel confusion among different localities that has caused problems in supply chains earlier this week.

According to the Ministry of Transport, more than 80,000 vehicles were granted QR Code identification certificates, which allow them to enter the “green channel” at checkpoints.

Ha Noi and other northern provinces were giving priority to granting QR Code to facilitate the transportation of goods, especially necessary goods, while social distancing measures are in place.

Do Cong Thuy, Deputy Director of the Department of Transport under the Directorate for Roads of Viet Nam, said that the software system to grant QR Code of Ha Noi Department of Transport was now operating and stable after earlier being overloaded due to a large number of registrations.

As of Thursday, Ha Noi had granted QR Codes to 13,290 vehicles.

Tran Hung Ha, Director of the Road Management Department No 1, said that traffic at gateways to Ha Noi was running more smoothly with no congestion at former hotspots like Phap Van – Cau Gie and Phu Dong Bridge checkpoints.

Minister of Transport Nguyen Van The also asked that focus be placed on ensuring the security and stable operation of the QR Code granting system.

Regarding air transportation, Dinh Viet Thang, Director of the Civil Aviation Authority of Viet Nam, said the transportation of goods by air between Ha Noi and other provinces and cities where social distancing was in place was taking place as normal. 

HCM City construction department wants crackdown on dubious real estate activities

The HCM City Department of Construction wants the People's Committee to prevent illegal real estate activities by stepping up propaganda and publicly naming and shaming offenders.

It said the overlaps and contradictions in the real estate laws were making it difficult to find and handle violations such as illegally selling housing plots, spreading of rumours by brokers to drive up prices and collection of excessive deposits from buyers by developers.

The legal system is also cumbersome and complicated.

The high demand for low-income housing has been a major cause of violations, including the sale of agricultural land for residential purposes and illegal division of land plots for sale, according to experts.

Slow implementation of social housing projects exacerbates the problem.

They pointed out that violations occurred nearly everywhere in the city, but especially in outlying areas such as Binh Chanh, Cu Chi and Hoc Mon districts, and in District 9 and Thu Duc City.

The police have cracked down on many frauds related to land projects, illegal sale of agricultural lands and spreading rumours of rapidly increasing land prices in Thu Duc City and Cu Chi District.

To prevent further violations, the department also wants the police to closely monitor the real estate market to promptly investigate cases of false information about real estate projects and violations and frauds related to real estate transactions.

Viettel posts US$5.59 billion revenue in H1

The military-run telecom provider Viettel achieved revenue of VND128.6 trillion (US$5.59 billion) in the first half of the year, posting a 6.8 per cent year-on-year increase.

Viettel on Thursday announced its business results, saying that due to the complex development of the pandemic, 95 per cent of its points-of-sale in HCM City and 80 per cent in Ha Noi were shut down or suspended operations.

However, the group still posted pre-tax profits of VND19.9 trillion, increasing 3.1 per cent from the same period last year as it continued stepping up digital transformation in governance and fully using technological advances to care for customers via online platforms.

All of its foreign markets saw improvements in market share with Haiti increasing by 1.5 per cent and Peru 1.4 per cent. Viettel still took the leading market share in Cambodia, Laos, East Timor and Burundi. It holds 30.8 per cent of market share in Myanmar.

It also remained a key unit in building e-Government and smart urban areas, improving cyber security and creating digital society. It upgraded data infrastructure and began to build a new data centre in the southern province of Binh Duong. It has expanded AI researches in healthcare, industry and remote sensing.

In addition, it completed a project to build business policies, ensuring infrastructure for Mobile Money services as soon as it receives a licence.

It also piloted a “micro 5G” station to commercialise 5G network later this year.

Viettel has put into operation a COVID-19 vaccination management platform capable of updating 5 million shots per day.

The platform, launched earlier this month, links with nearly 7,500 cameras in quarantine facilities in cities and provinces nationwide.

The group has also deployed mobile vehicles to 28 temporary hospitals, 68 others treating coronavirus patients and 200 concentrated quarantine facilities. Earlier, it launched remote health check-up and treatment systems: Telehealth, the Viet Nam Health Declaration app, the national communicable disease supervision system and the national drug supply system.

SABECO posts US$87.1 million after-tax profit in H1 despite COVID-19

The country’s largest brewer, Saigon Beer-Alcohol-Beverage Corporation (SABECO) hit more than VND2 trillion (US$87.1 million) after-tax profit in the first half of the year, posting a 6 per cent year-on-year increase.

SABECO on Thursday announced its business results in the first six months of the year, saying that they have implemented many comprehensive solutions to optimise business management and continue to promote sales activities. These have contributed to minimising the impact of the third and fourth waves of the COVID-19 pandemic and improve business efficiency.

Accordingly, its revenue in the first six months of the year reached VND13.1 trillion, an increase of 9 percent over the same period last year. Of this, VND11.6 trillion came from beer products, accounting for 89.1 per cent and selling raw materials contributed more than 10 per cent of total revenue. The rest was soft drinks, wine, alcohol and other items.

In the second quarter of the year alone, its revenue was VND7.2 trillion, the equivalent to the corresponding period last year.

COVID-19 saw SABECO reduce its expenditure markedly. Particularly, interest expenses decreased by 22 per cent while management costs were also cut by 54 per cent in the period.

However, the corporation’s spending on promotions and advertisements increased by 44 per cent to VND1.9 trillion.

This year, SABECO set a revenue target of VND33.5 trillion and profit of VND5.3 trillion.

By the end of June, SABECO's total assets reached VND28.5 trillion, up 4 per cent compared to the beginning of the year. This includes bank deposits with a term of three months to one year of VND15.2 trillion, accounting for 54 per cent of the total.

At its shareholders meeting in April, SABECO’s board of directors expected good business results.

However, SABECO is also dependent on the global economy, which is connected to export products as well as tourist arrivals.

The company expects vaccinations to be implemented quickly and efficiently globally. In this case, they could return to normal or near-normal in the next one to two years.

Masan net revenues up 16.4% in H1

Masan Group Corporation’s revenues increased by 16.4 per cent year-on-year in the first half to VND41.2 trillion (US$1.79 billion), primarily due to double-digit organic topline growth in the branded consumer and meat businesses, 1.7 per cent growth in modern retail in the second quarter and 137.6 per cent growth at Masan High-Tech Materials due to consolidation of H.C. Starck and higher commodity prices.

Its consolidated earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation (EBITDA) in H1 grew 84.1 per cent and EBITDA margins rose to 16.7 per cent from 10.6 per cent a year earlier, primarily driven by VinCommerce’s EBITDA margin improving by 8.48 percentage points to positive 2.1 per cent.

Masan Group EBITDA margins in Q2 rose by 180 basis points from the previous quarter, and are expected to grow further in H2 as strategic investments made in the first half start to yield results.

Net profit after tax post minority interest (NPAT Post-MI) grew 8.4 times in H1 to VND979 billion ($42.68 million), driven by significantly better bottom-line results across all business segments.

Among its subsidiaries, the CrownX, Masan’s integrated consumer-retail platform that consolidates VinCommerce (VCM) and Masan Consumer Holdings (MCH), delivered EBITDA of VND2.85 trillion ($124.2 million) during the first half, more than double the VND1.31 trillion in the same period last year, as EBITDA margins expanded by 610 bps to 11.2 per cent.

VCM has delivered three consecutive quarters of positive EBITDA as it improved from 0.2 per cent in Q4 last year to 2.2 per cent in Q2 this year.

It delivered a 2.1 per cent EBITDA margin for H1, up 848 basis points from a year earlier, driven by total commercial margin improvement, store operating costs optimisation, logistics initiatives, and management plans to achieve break-even EBIT in Q3.

The trial of setting up Phuc Long kiosks inside VinMart+ stores has shown positive signs with lesser time required for new stores to break even.

MCH’s net revenues grew by 11.7 per cent in H1 to VND11.47 trillion ($499.7 million) driven by an innovation-led growth strategy.

Masan MEATLife’s meat category has become a sizeable standalone business, contributing VND2.07 trillion in revenues and VND163 billion in EBITDA, including 3F Viet.

The next milestone is to deliver positive net profits, which management believes will occur by year-end when its meat processing plants reach 25-30 per cent capacity utilisation in Q4 this year, up from the current rate of 11 per cent.

Masan High-Tech Materials (MHT) posted net revenues of VND6.1 trillion in H1, a 137.6 per cent increase year-on-year.

It delivered VND2 billion in net profits for Q2, a VND295 billion improvement over Q1 driven by rising demand for its hi-tech products and higher pricing for all segments.

Management believes tungsten prices will continue to rise in H2, further improving the financial performance.

Techcombank, MSN’s associated company, delivered profit before tax growth of 71.2 per cent to reach VND11.5 trillion in H1 driven by net interest margin (NIM) of 5.81 per cent and 46.1 per cent CASA (current account and savings account) ratio.

MSN achieved 44.8 per cent of its lower-end revenue target of VND92 trillion ($4 billion) and 39.1 per cent of its lower-end profit target of VND2.5 trillion ($108.8 million) for full-year 2021.

It expects to deliver over 20 per cent topline growth and double profit margins in Q3.

Chairman Dr Nguyen Dang Quang, said, “I am extremely grateful for the thousands of Masaners who are making sacrifices every day to ensure that each and every VinMart is open to serve our consumers and that each essential product we produce is readily available.

“During these trying, emotional and stressful times, we are committed to providing our people their daily needs to the best of our abilities and beyond. We will play our part to uplift the spirits of our people as Vietnam tackles this pandemic. We will ‘Keep Going’ to deliver on our promise."

Petrolimex registers to sell another 8 million treasury stocks

Viet Nam National Petroleum Group (Petrolimex, PLX) has just released an announcement to sell treasury stocks by order matching method on the Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange (HoSE).

Accordingly, Petrolimex registered to sell 8 million treasury stocks from August 6 to September 3. Once the deal is completed, the company’s treasury stocks will decline to 17,064,846 from 25,064,846.

In its previous deals, Japanese petroleum company, ENEOS Corporation, successfully bought most of Petrolimex’s treasury stocks.

Of which, ENEOS Corporation bought all 13 million treasury shares of Petrolimex sold from August 27 to September 14, 2020 and held 1 per cent of Petrolimex shares.

Then, from March 1 to March 19, 2021, Petrolimex announced that it had sold 25 million treasury shares to ENEOS Corporation with an average trading price of VND57,057 per share, earning more than VND1.4 trillion (US$62.1 million).

From May 24 to June 15, ENEOS Corporation reported that it has completed the purchase of 25 million treasury stocks of Petrolimex.

After these deals, ENEOS Corporation increased its ownership in Petrolimex from 38 million shares (equivalent to 2.94 per cent) to 63 million shares (4.87 per cent) and is on track to become a major shareholder.

Meanwhile, JX Nippon Oil & Energy Vietnam Co., Ltd, now RNEEOS Vietnam Co., Ltd, currently holds 103,528,476 shares, accounting for 8 per cent of Petrolimex shares.

JX Nippon Oil & Energy Vietnam is a subsidiary of ENEOS Corporation and a major shareholder of Petrolimex.

Currently, Toshiya Nakahara, the senior leader at ENEOS Corporation, is also a member of the Board of Directors of Petrolimex.

In the 2020 - 2021 divestment programme, Petrolimex continues to reduce state ownership to 51%.

On the stock market, PLX shares were traded at VND50,500 per share on Wednesday morning. 

Belgian and Russian investors keen on Vietnamese offshore wind power projects

The consortium, Russian oil & gas consortium Zarubezhneft and Belgian DEME Concessions Wind have been granted permission from the southern province of Binh Thuan to implement the US$3.1 billion Vinh Phong offshore wind farm project within the locality.

The 1,000 MW project is set to be divided into two phases, with the consortium planning to commission the project’s first phase of building the site up to 600 MW capacity by 2026, with the second phase to add a further 400 MW capacity by 2030.

When fully operational, the project is anticipated to provide billions of kWh of electricity each year, thereby contributing approximately VND10,000 billion to the state budget and creating 2,500 jobs for people in the locality.

This comes after the consortium and its member companies, including DEME Offshore Company and Vietsovpetro, signed a Memorandum of Understanding in April, outlining their aims to develop the project.

Recently, offshore wind farm projects in the nation have become increasingly attractive to investors, with many showing a keen interest in large projects, with capital reaching up to several billions of US$.

Prominent among the projects is the 3.4 GW Thang Long Offshore Wind Power Project which has a total investment of US$11.9 billion. This is along with the 3.5 GW La Gan offshore wind power project which is a joint venture among Denmark-based Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (CIP), Asiapetro, and Novasia Energy with capital hitting roughly US$10.5 billion.

Statistics compiled by the Ministry of Industry and Trade revealed that 157 offshore wind power projects with a capacity of over 61,000 MW have been proposed to be surveyed and added to the national plan.

Vietnam cuts rice prices to increase competitiveness

Vietnam's rice prices have dropped by USD110 per tonne to compete with other countries.

According to Vietnam Food Administration, Vietnamese 5% broken rice prices dropped by USD110 from between USD513-517 per tonne to USD400-404 per tonne from February.

During this time, Indian rice prices only dropped by USD15 to USD383-387 per tonne. Thai rice prices dropped by USD90 to 480-484 to USD390-394 per tonne.

Several export firms in the Mekong Delta said the price dropped to make Vietnam rice more competitive. It is hoped that the rice export industry will pick up again.

From early 2021 to mid-July, Vietnam exported over 3.3 million tonnes of rice for USD1.8trn, a drop of 10.31% in the volume and 0.15% in revenue compared to the same period last year.

However, in the first half of July, when the rice prices were lowered sharply, Vietnam exported 297,897 tonnes for USD156m, an increase of 59.34% on volume and 72.71% on revenue compared to the same period last year.

Multiple enterprises in Binh Duong, Tien Giang stop applying stay-at-work mode

As many as 150 enterprises in Binh Duong Province and those in nine industrial parks and clusters in Tien Giang Province, the two large coronavirus hotspots, will stop employing the stay-at-work mode as they have detected a large number of Covid-19 cases.

Binh Duong Vice Chairman Mai Hung Dung on July 29 said the 150 enterprises had found it difficult to ensure sufficient food for workers and materials for production, and their workers were anxious after Covid-19 cases were found at their companies, news site VnExpress reported.

The Binh Duong Industrial Zones Authority and the local authorities have provided detailed instructions about the halt of the stay-at-work mode.

Firms which want to stop applying the mode must conduct Covid-19 tests for all of their employees. Those who test negative will stay at the factories for at least three days and undergo another test to ensure safety before they return to their residences.

Binh Duong is now home to 29 industrial parks and 12 industrial clusters with more than 1.2 million workers. As of July 28, nearly 3,600 enterprises with some 390,000 laborers in the province had registered to apply the stay-at-work mode.

In the current coronavirus wave, the province has detected more than 10,000 cases, including over 2,000 workers. It is now the second largest coronavirus hotspot, following HCMC.

The Tien Giang government on July 29 also announced that nine industrial parks and clusters in the province would suspend their operations from August 5 to stop the spread of the virus.

The move was made after 260 workers of enterprises employing the stay-at-work mode in the Long Giang and My Tho industrial parks were found to be infected with the coronavirus.

By August 4, these firms must conduct RT-PCR tests for workers.

Tien Giang currently has nine industrial parks and clusters with more than 100,000 workers. The province has recorded nearly 2,400 Covid-19 cases, including 342 recoveries and 38 fatalities.

In Dong Thap Province, chairman of Sa Dec City Nguyen Van Hon said the city found that Bich Chi Food JSC violated Covid-safe regulations while employing the stay-at-work mode. On July 27, three Covid-19 cases linked to the company were detected.

However, all the employees of the company have tested negative for Covid-19.

Bich Chi Food JSC general director Pham Thanh Binh said on July 23, the Sa Dec City government allowed it to remain operational with 461 employees. The number was later reduced to 350 people. The company was willing to suspend its operations although the three cases were not among its employees but those delivering goods to the company.

Only seven companies in Sa Dec were permitted to operate during the stay-at-home mandate, while 69 others were asked to suspend their operations.

Dong Thap has detected more than 2,600 cases.

Banks to tighten credit in risky sectors in remaining months of this year

Banks will continue to tighten lending in risky sectors including securities, real estate, financial, and tourism business, seeing higher credit risks in the remaining months of this year, a survey carried out by the Monetary Forecasting and Statistics Department has said.

The survey included 95% of credit institutions and branches of foreign banks operating in Vietnam.

The survey found that credit institutions saw an increase in overall credit demand in the first half of this year and forecast the trend would continue in the second half. Only credit demand from tourism businesses dropped in the first half but it was expected to see a slight recovery in the second half.

Credit risk was seen to increase in the first half of 2021 but at a lower rate than the second half of 2020 in almost all sectors. However, securities, real estate, financial and tourism businesses were considered sectors with higher credit risk in the pandemic.

Banks said that they intended to tighten lending for securities, real estate, financial and tourism business in the remaining months of this year but loosen credit criteria for enterprises, especially those of small and medium-sized enterprises, on positive economic prospects, improved financial capacity of credit institutions, and the Government’s drastic measures to fight the virus.

Retail and wholesale, import and export and lending for living expenses were the major drivers of credit growth in the first half of this year and would continue in the remaining months of this year and next.

State Bank of Vietnam statistics showed that total outstanding loans were estimated to be more than VND9.6 quadrillion (US$414 billion) as of the end of May and banks pumped a net value of more than VND455 trillion into the economy through lending channels in the first five months of this year.

Trade and industry were the two sectors with the highest outstanding loans, worth more than VND2.22 quadrillion and VND1.84 quadrillion respectively.

Credit for trade saw a growth rate of 5.73% while industry had a 6.73% growth rate, higher than overall credit growth of 4.95% in the first five months of this year. 

Source: VNA/VNS/VOV/VIR/SGT/SGGP/Nhan Dan/Hanoitimes 

VIETNAM BUSINESS NEWS JULY 31

VIETNAM BUSINESS NEWS JULY 31

July retail sales plunges nearly 20% due to COVID-19