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Vietnam is expected to export more than six million tons of rice this year.

Vietnam’s 5% broken rice price has risen to around US$500-505 per ton in early 2021, the highest since December 2011.

“Such a high price indicates high quality of Vietnamese rice,” said Vice Chairman of Vietnam Food Association (VFA) Do Ha Nam, pointing out growing demand for rice from major markets, including the Philippines, as a key factor for higher prices.

Since the beginning of 2021, major rice buyers of the region, including China, Bangladesh and the Philippines are importing a large amount of rice. Meanwhile, Thailand, one of the world’s largest rice exporters, could see its export volume reduced this year given an appreciation of the Bath value.

Tran Thanh Hai, deputy director of the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT)’s Import and Export Department, expected the current Covid-19 situation would be a major factor keeping high demand for rice in the global market.

Sharing the same view, General Director of Trung An Hi-tech Farming Company Pham Thanh Binh noted the outlook for Vietnam rice exports remain bright thanks to the country’s recent signing of new free trade agreements.

Under the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA), EU country members have committed to allocating tariff quota of nearly 10,000 tons of rice for Vietnam in 2021, while the UK-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (UKVFTA) would reduce import tariff for Vietnamese rice into the UK to 0%.

To ensure sustainable rice export in the future, agricultural expert Hoang Trong Thuy suggested local producers should focus on product quality with high value (aromatic rice, Japonica rice) and study the target market’s preferences to ensure efficiency in the trading process.

“Otherwise, Vietnam would face difficulties in competing with low quality rice from India or Pakistan,” added Mr. Thuy.

This year, the VFA forecast Vietnam to export more than six million tons of rice. In 2020, the country exported 6.15 million tons of rice worth US$3 billion, down 3.5% year-on-year in volume but up 9.3% in value.

As of January 18, the MoIT has issued rice export licenses for 205 traders. 

Vietnam banks required to meet cash demand ahead of Tet 

Relevant agencies are required to strengthen inspection, detect and strictly handle violations in foreign/cash exchange trading, according to the State Bank of Vietnam.

Vietnam’s banks are required to ensure enough cash for people as the demand for cash rising ahead of Tet holidays, causing many ATMs to be out of service.

It is one of the requests made by the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) to ensure the safety of banking operations during the Lunar New Year.  

According to Document No. 684, the SBV requested its branches in provinces and cities to be responsible for providing cash to credit institutions, foreign bank branches, and the local state treasury to ensure the smooth monetary circulation and absolutely prevent the shortage of cash. 

The SBV has also required credit institutions and foreign bank branches to proactively build appropriate cash plans to timely meet cash needs of customers both in terms of value and denominations, closely monitor the progress of cash collection and spending at the branches to promptly meet the demand for cash before, during and after Tet. 

The SBV’s branches are asked to conduct payment services for production, business, import and export activities; proactively meet the requirements about international payments for foreign-invested enterprises, importers and exporters during holidays; ensure the stability and safety of electronic payment services and card payments. 

The concerned agencies are required to strengthen inspection, detect and strictly handle violations in foreign/cash exchange trading, according to the Document. 

Vietnam speeds up implementation of trade agreement with Cuba

The two countries target to increase the trade value to US$500 by 2025.

Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc asked different ministries to step up the implementation of a trade agreement with Cuba that took effect in April 2020.

Under the PM’s decision signed on February 3, authorized bodies include the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Science and Technology, and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The Vietnam-Cuba Trade Agreement was signed in Hanoi in November 2018 replacing the agreement on trade exchange and other form of economic cooperation signed in 1996.

The agreement, with 14 chapters, covers regulations on trade in goods, rules of origin, customs management and trade facilitation, technical standards, food safety, and animal and plant quarantine, among others.

Under the pact, the two sides have pledged to eliminate or reduce tariffs on nearly all commodities currently traded between them over the next five years.

The government in April 2020 issued a decree promulgating Vietnam’s Special Preferred Import Tariff for the implementation of the Vietnam-Cuba Trade Agreement for 2020-23.

Accordingly, import tariffs on 514 items from Cuba, including some types of shrimp, fish, honey and fruit, cement, chromium ore, disinfectants, protective suits and wireless internet devices have been slashed to 0%.

For the 49 remaining tariff lines, tax rates will be cut gradually. Commodities such as sugar and unprocessed tobacco will have their tariff rates reduced to 15% in four years, cigarettes and cigars to 70%, and liquor and alcohol to 20%.

In 2019, trade between Vietnam and Cuba stood at US$226.81 million, including US$221.62 million in exports from Vietnam.

Vietnam’s staples to Cuba include rice, coffee, chemical products, apparel, and footwear while its imported items are vaccines and pharmaceuticals.

Covid-19 resurgence hits Vietnam transportation sector

Instead of returning home or traveling during the Tet holiday, people would choose to stay put due to concern of the pandemic.

The new wave of novel coronavirus in Vietnam once again causes severe impacts on Vietnam’s passenger transportation sector, particularly at a peak season ahead of Tet (Lunar New Year) holiday, when people are set to leave big cities and return to their hometowns.

For the first time in many years, train tickets for the upcoming 2021 Tet were not sold out, as the Vietnam Railways (VNR) said 70,000 out of the total 200,000 tickets are still on offer with one week left before the holiday.

According to the VNR, workers at industrial parks in Ho Chi Minh City and the southern province of Binh Duong could not return to their hometown due to the current Covid-19 outbreak, not to mention the lack of international tourists.

This is despite the fact that the VNR has been providing sales promotion programs, including free tickets for children of less than six years old, and 50% of discount of ticket prices for those from six to 10 years old. Meanwhile, students and workers at industrial parks are entitled to a discount of 5-10%.

Experts noted the timing could not be worse for transportation companies as the pandemic outbreak occurred near Tet, forcing people to reschedule their homecoming plan. In some cases, people even returned their train tickets and chose not travel at all.

Facing a similar situation, the aviation market has been quiet despite much lower air fares compared to previous years.

As airlines are planning to increase flights during the Tet holiday, it is expected that the prices of air tickets would be further reduced in the coming days. In a latest move, national flag carrier Vietnam Airlines and budget airline Pacific Airlines and Vietnam Air Services (VASCO) have announced to add 2,100 flights during the  holiday, taking the total number of the passenger capacity the three airlines are preparing to serve in the festive period to 2.4 million.

To ensure safety for passengers during the pandemic, Vietnam Airlines has been providing different methods of check-in services for customers, including check-in online or via smartphone. Vietnam Airlines is also the only airline to date offering in-town check in, which means passengers could go through the process at ticket offices in major cities such as Hanoi or Danang.

Transport expert Nguyen Xuan Thuy told Hanoitimes said the transportation sector is facing severe consequences from the Covid-19 outbreak.

“Instead of returning to hometown or traveling, people would choose to stay put due to concern of the pandemic,” said Mr. Thuy, adding this would directly hit revenue of transportation firms.

In a difficult year of 2020 for the aviation industry, the budget Vietjet emerged among a handful of airlines in the world with positive business result with an after-tax profit of VND70 billion (US$3 million).

The airline in its financial statement noted it has shifted focus on providing different air services to make up for revenue losses from low demand for air transportation.

Vietnam car market stays quiet ahead of Tet festival

The low sale volume was due to difficult economic conditions that forced customers to tighten spending.

Despite various sales promotion programs from car dealerships, the domestic car market remains quiet ahead of the Tet festival.

To boost car sales, car dealerships have been offering sales promotion programs that go up to thousands of US dollars per car, or car accessories upon purchase.

For example, customers buying Hyundai Santa Fe would be subject to a discount of VND50-60 million (US$2,200-2,600), and VND12 million (US$522) for Hyundai Elantra.

Suzuki is also offering discounts for most of its car models in range of VND25-42 million (US$1,100-1,800), including Ertiga, Ciaz, XL7 and Swift.

Vice General Director of Nissan Tay Ho Nguyen Tri Bay said Nissan is lowering prices for pickup truck Navara by VND36 million (US$1,600) and extend its insurance period to five years, while the SUV X-Trail is subject to a discount of VND124-152 million (US$5,400-6,600), depending on certain models.

Mitsubishi is offering a competitive pricing policy with a discount of VND55-65 million (US$2,400-2,800) for Outlander, not to mention car accessories; Pajero Sport buyers would receive gifts worth up to VND55 million (US$2,400). Buyers of US automaker’s latest model of Ford Everest 2021 are subject to  a promotion sales program with a financial support of up to VND75 million (US$3,200) in registration fee.

While discount programs are being offered, the number of car sales have plunged by 50% month-on-month in January, with many pointing to the expiration of the government’s supporting policy by shaving 50% off the registration fee for domestically-produced cars at late 2020.

Director of Toyota Thang Long Pham Quoc Hien said the low sale volume was due to difficult economic conditions that are forcing customers to tighten spending.

“Many customers are also waiting for new car models that are scheduled to launch in the second half of 2021,” he said.

For many car experts, the situation has been expected, given the Covid-19 situation remains serious around the globe.

“The year of 2021 is set to be another difficult one for Vietnam’s car market,” said Head of the Policy Department under Vietnam Automobile Manufacturers Association (VAMA) Nguyen Trung Hieu.

No big changes in Hanoi’s apartment market in 2021: Savills

Hanoi is unlikely to see any major changes in its apartment market this year or experience the short supply as seen in HCM City, Director of Savills Hanoi Matthew Powell has said.

Positive changes have been seen in the quality of various projects, he said, citing the mid-range apartment segment as an example.

Infrastructure development plays a vital role in unleashing supply as it paves the way for the expansion of new projects to neighbouring cities and districts, he noted.

He doesn’t foresee any bubbles in Hanoi’s apartment market this year since the economy is back on the track with demand remaining strong and prices under control.

Hanoi’s infrastructure improved significantly last year. Several new apartment buildings near newly-upgraded or nearly-completed infrastructure projects will fetch relatively higher prices than the market average.

From a different perspective, Do Thu Hang, Senior Director at Savills Hanoi’s Advisory Services, said prices of high-end apartments in the capital are relatively lower than those in its regional peers. Prices depend, however, not only on input costs such as land, infrastructure development, landscapes, and construction, but also supply and demand, she added.

A stable and sustainable real estate market is essential to economic growth, she continued, and once Vietnam’s economy grows strongly, income per capita increases, and the market offers a more diverse range of housing products, there will be greater opportunities for buyers to secure a home./.

New securities trading accounts hit record high in Jan

Close to 86,270 securities trading accounts were opened by domestic investors in January, an increase of 36.4 percent from the previous month, according to the Vietnam Securities Depository (VSD).

It is the largest-ever number of newly-opened trading accounts in a month since Vietnam’s stock market debuted, the VSD said.

Foreign investors also opened about 86,270 accounts, 99.8 percent of which were of individuals.

Last month, market liquidity repeatedly hit record highs with value of many trading sessions exceeding 20 trillion VND (866.56 million USD).

About 14.78 billion shares, worth 335.9 trillion VND in total, were traded on the Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange (HoSE) alone in January, up 8.71 percent and 17.37 percent, respectively, month-on-month.

Trading value averaged nearly 16.8 trillion VND per session while average trading volume exceeded 739 million shares per session, month-on-month surges of 34.97 percent and 25.01 percent, respectively.

The surges were even more significant compared to the same period last year, with average trading value rising nearly 334 percent and average trading volume expanding more than 291 percent./.

Efforts made to promote sale of crops in virus-hit provinces

Efforts are being made to promote the sale of crops, fruits and meat of farmers in coronavirus-hit provinces, including the two hardest-hit Hai Duong and Quang Ninh, as the Tet (Lunar New Year) holiday nears.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the total winter crop area which had not been harvested was more than 7,830 ha, or 35 per cent of the northern province’s total crop area. In Kinh Mon district, there was about 3,500 ha of onion, 350 ha of carrot in Nam Sach and 400 ha in Cam Giang, 200 ha of vegetables in Gia Loc, 200 ha in Tu Ky and 400 ha in Kim Thanh.
In Quang Ninh, the total unharvested crop area was more than 2,000 ha, mainly potato, corn and vegetables with a total yield of about 30,000 tonnes.

The ministry said that it was important to raise solutions to promote the sale of farm produce for farmers in locked-down areas.
The ministry said that prices of farm produce in Hai Duong had decreased by around 10-20 percent since the outbreak of virus clusters late last month.

Nguyen Nhu Cuong, Director of the ministry’s Department of Crop Production, the sale of carrot and potato was the most difficult at the moment because these two products had high output volume while domestic consumption accounted for just 10 percent and the rest must be exported.

The capacity of cold storage in Hai Duong was limited, which would be a problem if the virus was not put under control before Tet, he said.
He added that the transportation of goods to/from locked-down areas was very difficult. Local markets were also tightening disease control measures.

Hanoi, Hai Phong and Quang Ninh were the major markets for the consumption of Hai Duong’s farm produce. However, these provinces were banning all vehicles and people from Hai Duong, which affected the consumption. Wholesalers from other provinces did not want to come to Hai Duong to collect farm produce with hesitation over the virus and worries that they must practice social distancing.

According to the Hai Duong provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, around 128,000 tonnes of vegetables, meat and fish in the province were waiting for consumption.

In that context, it was important to promote consumption in the province, increase storage and implement processing for longer preservation, the ministry said.

It was a must to apply prevention measures following the guidance of the Ministry of Finance when transporting products out of the virus-hit areas, the agriculture ministry said.

At the same time, preparations must be made for the next cultivation season.

Recently, the Quang Ninh provincial Department of Industry and Trade helped connect for the sale and 17 million potatoes, worth 153 million VND (6,600 USD).

Six enterprises also bought more than 10,000 chickens for farmers in Chi Linh city./.

Ministry to boost trade defence measures in line with int’l commitments

As trade protectionism is forecast to grow further around the world in 2021, the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) is set to step up trade defence measures in accordance with international law and commitments.

Le Trieu Dung, Director of the MoIT’s Trade Remedies Authority of Vietnam (TRAV), said the ministry will accelerate current trade remedy probes into imports so as to take timely action to protect domestic manufacturers.

An early warning system on trade remedy risks for certain exports will be completed this year so that enterprises can gear themselves up early.

Additionally, MoIT will coordinate with relevant agencies to boost action against origin fraud and illegal transhipments aimed at evading trade remedies, while working to improve the trade remedy-related capacity of domestic businesses and State agencies, Dung said.

Since becoming a member of the WTO and free trade agreements (FTAs), Vietnam has opened its market and slashed import tariffs on a large number of goods, exposing its businesses to strong competition from imports.

Trade defence measures, which are policy tools permitted by the WTO, he said, have an important role to play in ensuring effective economic integration and minimising its adverse impact on businesses.

Between 2016 and 2020, MoIT launched 13 trade remedy investigations into imported commodities such as DAP fertiliser, monosodium glutamate (MSG), steel, and BOPP film.

Remedies applied so far have proved effective in addressing losses caused by surges of imports and protecting domestic producers, according to Dung.

He pointed out that State agencies and some enterprises have worked to promote their trade remedy-related capacity, but many shortcomings remain, so a new policy and legal framework that matches provisions in the FTAs Vietnam has joined is needed.

The issue of trade defence is stipulated in Chapter 5 of the Law on Foreign Trade Management, but one chapter cannot provide all detailed regulations. This has led to certain limits in the investigation and implementation of trade defence measures.

New issues frequently emerge in the field, which also require that relevant State agencies and businesses have in-depth knowledge about law and finance. The complex developments of COVID-19 last year also hampered support to enterprises, he acknowledged.

Meanwhile, trade remedy probes targeting Vietnamese exports in foreign markets also increased considerably in 2020 and are projected to rise even higher this year.

Given this, he said, MoIT has recommended local businesses equip themselves with knowledge on trade remedy regulations, particularly those of Vietnam and export markets, while readying resources to cope with possible foreign trade remedies.

They should also keep a close watch on the import of related products so as to detect any signs of dumping or subsidies in a timely manner and prevent losses for domestic manufacturers./.

World Economic Forum in Singapore postponed until August

 

The World Economic Forum (WEF) on February 3 announced that its annual meeting, which has been postponed and moved from Switzerland to Singapore, will be pushed back again due to pandemic-related challenges.

The annual gathering of the world's political, economic and business elite is traditionally held each January in the Alpine village of Davos. While a virtual meeting of world leaders was held last month, the physical meeting had already been moved due to the COVID-19 crisis and rescheduled to take place in Singapore in May.

The meeting will now take place from Aug 17 to 20.

“The change to the meeting's timing reflects the international challenges in containing the pandemic. Current global travel restrictions have made planning difficult for an in-person meeting in the first half of the year," the WEF said.

"Furthermore, differing quarantine and air transport regulations have increased the lead time necessary to ensure that participants globally can make arrangements to join."

WEF stressed the importance of its 2021 meeting, pointing out that it would "be the first global leadership summit to address the challenges of recovering from the pandemic and laying the basis for a more inclusive and sustainable world."

"It will bring leaders face-to-face to focus on shaping solutions to the most pressing challenges of our times."/.

PetroVietnam, Taiwanese fiber producer step up cooperation

The Vietnam Oil and Gas Group (PetroVietnam) and the Shinkong Synthetic Fibers Corporation (SSFC) – an affiliate of Taiwan (China)’s Shin Kong Group signed a cooperation agreement via a video conference on February 4.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, PetroVietnam General Director Le Manh Hung pledged to offer all possible support to carry out the deal.

Praising the active and effective cooperation of the Vietnam PetroChemical and Fiber JSC (VNPoly) under the PetroVietnam with SSFC in producing drawn textured yarn (DTY), President of the Shin Kong Group Eric Woo also vowed to strongly step up the joint work.

In January last year, VNPOLY and SSFC inked a deal on producing DTY in Vietnam.

As of the late January 2021, PetroVietnam’s Dinh Vu polyester fiber plant produced over 3,900 tonnes of DTY, over 92 percent of them met AA quality standard.

With the support of the SSFC experts, VNPoly has been chosen by well-known fashion houses as a fiber supplier.

In the near future, SSFC and VNPoly will continue expanding production and operating all 27 DTY production chains from April as well as those for pre-oriented yarn (POY) and polyester staple fiber (PSF)./.

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Aviation sector takes COVID-19 fight to highest level

The Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) has recently issued a document requesting the aviation sector to enhance COVID-19 prevention measures before, during and after the traditional Lunar New Year (Tet) holiday.

In a bid to ensure safe public transportation and minimise infection risks among passengers, pilots, drivers and flight attendants, the CAAV said all aviation businesses and organisations must remain vigilant against the pandemic, and fully carry out prevention measures.

They were urged to raise the COVID-19 warning status at airports, flight operator facilities, and public transport to the highest level.

Any passenger with abnormal symptoms must be reported to medical authorities, while equipment at airports must be constantly disinfected to prevent contamination, the CAAV said.

“Passengers must obey COVID-19 prevention rules before and during boarding. Meanwhile, conveyances must refuse to anyone who does not wear face masks appropriately, as well as strictly follow regulations on medical quarantine”, it added.

A representative from national flag carrier Vietnam Airlines said the airline has disinfected its planes flying to Hai Phong, adjust equipment on board, as well as space out passengers on flights to reduce risks of coronavirus infection.

Staff serving flights from Cat Bi airport have been equipped with three-layer face masks, dual layer medical gloves, hand sanitiser, and medical protective clothing, the representative said.

Meanwhile, Vietjet Vice President Dinh Viet Phuong said that the airline has given top priority to ensuring safety for its staff and passengers, adding it disinfects airplanes every day, and encourages passengers to carry out online check-in procedure or process it at check-in kiosks to prevent infection.

HCM City’s State budget collection up 2.9 percent in January

State budget collections in Ho Chi Minh City in January were estimated at 42.47 trillion VND (1.84 billion USD), 11.6 percent of the estimate and up 2.9 percent year-on-year, according to the municipal Statistics Office.

Domestic budget collections declined 3.5 percent year-on-year to 31.27 trillion VND, accounting for 73.6 percent of the total.
Revenue from crude oil totalled 800 billion VND, down 55.5 percent.

Notably, revenue from exports and imports surged 47.2 percent annually to 10.4 trillion VND. The increase is linked to good growth of the city’s import-export activities in the period, at 46.9 percent year on year.

State-owned enterprises contributed over 2.96 trillion VND to the State budget, making up 11 percent of domestic collections, up 4.3 percent year-on-year. Contributions from private enterprises fell 8.5 percent to over 9.8 trillion VND, while that from foreign-invested enterprises was over 9.4 trillion VND, down 3.1 percent.

Pham Thi Hong Ha, Director of the municipal Department of Finance, said that the finance sector will focus on measures to manage and increase revenues, and speed up equitization and divestment of State-owned enterprises in line with the approved plan.

Attention will be paid to removing difficulties facing enterprises and individuals affected by the COVID-19 pandemic to help them recover their production and business as soon as possible, towards increasing sustainable State budget revenue, she added.

According to Deputy Director of the municipal Tax Department Nguyen Nam Binh, the city’s tax sector set a target to collect at least 25 percent of the yearly budget collection estimate right in the first quarter of 2021./.

Indonesia eyes partnering with Vietnam in fisheries

The Indonesian government is looking to collaborate with Vietnam in developing the marine and fisheries sector, especially in lobster farming.

Indonesian Minister of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Sakti Wahyu Trenggono discussed the idea in a meeting with newly-appointed Indonesian Ambassador to Vietnam Denny Abdi in Jakarta on February 4.

Trenggono said Vietnam has the experience in advancing fish cultivation, especially using technology in lobster farming.

He expressed his belief that cooperating with a neighbouring country that has already succeeded in aquaculture will benefit Indonesia’s fisheries and boost the country’s competitiveness.

He also revealed a plan to invite Vietnam to join a cooperation project to promote the development of Indonesia’s aquaculture sector.

Expressing his hope to increase exports from farmed aquatic products, Minister Trenggono showed his belief that similarities and traditional relations between Indonesia and Vietnam could be the basis for the two countries to work well together, especially in fisheries.

Indonesia also wishes to cooperate with Vietnam in processing aquatic products, he said, stressing that the two countries can promote win-win cooperation, especially in producing key seafood products so that they can become ASEAN contributors to the world's food supply.

For his part, Ambassador Abdi welcomed Trenggono’s plan, saying that Indonesia’s wealth in marine and fisheries could be further explored.

He hoped the Indonesia – Vietnam relations could be stronger./.

Export of farm produce down due to container shortage

Exports of many agricultural products continued to decline sharply in January due to a shortage of empty containers.

According to the General Department of Customs, in the first half of January, Vietnam’s coffee exports decreased by 46 percent in volume and nearly 43 percent in value to 52,000 tonnes and 95 million USD, respectively, compared to the same period of 2020.

Rice exports also fell sharply by 44 percent in volume to 131,000 tonnes and 38 percent in value to 72 million USD.

Fruit and vegetable exports reached 130 million USD, 33 percent lower than the same period of last year.

The general department said some other farming products also saw a strong reduction in export value during that period, including tea (22 percent to 6.6 million USD), pepper (10 percent to 21 million USD) and seafood (14 percent to 278 million USD).

The reduction in exports of those key agricultural products was mainly due to a severe shortage of empty containers. Therefore, agricultural products exported in January had very high shipping costs.

According to the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), seafood businesses said that in January, the freight to Europe continued to increase strongly by between 145-276 percent, depending on the port.

Specifically, this freight at the main ports surged by 145 percent to 7,000 USD per container in January 2021 from 2,850 USD in December 2020. Some firms increased the freight from 2,800 USD per container to 10,550 USD.

The same situation happened at US ports. The freight in January increased by 14 percent to $4,000 per container for shipping goods to the West coast and by 14-19 percent to $5,600-5,850 per container to the East coast. It also increased from $50-100 per container to Japan’s ports.

Do Ha Nam, Vice Chairman of the Vietnam Cocoa and Coffee Association, said the shortage of empty containers to transport coffee has led to stagnant exports at many countries and lower supply in consumption markets.

The Vietnam Pepper Association’s survey in January 2021 for some pepper agents and cooperatives in Dong Nai province showed that pepper inventory is still large, excluding the volume that has been sold but not yet shipped. That was due to high freight and the shortage of empty containers.

According to domestic and international logistics experts, the serious shortage of empty containers will last at least until the end of the first quarter this year, reported the Nong thon Ngay Nay (Countryside Today) newspaper.

In the long term, Vietnam should have a strategy to reduce dependence on international shipping companies as present, including a solution encouraging investment in the development of container shipping fleets and plants producing containers, they said.

One of the most important solutions at present is to free up containers of imported goods and to move the containers in the most reasonable and fast manner to have more containers for shipping export goods.

Nguyen Duy Hong, deputy general director of the Smartlogs Supply Chain Solution Corporation, said there are about 300,000 20-feet empty containers circulated among seaports in Vietnam each year.

The circulation is ineffective because empty containers are often sent to major ports before moving to secondary ports for exporters, he said.

If it is organised properly, many containers will be used to transport export goods quickly, Hong said. For example, the technology process will optimise the use of containers by moving empty containers from importers directly to exporters and to flexible locations according to regional needs. That will create favourable conditions for businesses to have empty containers for shipping export goods, he said./.

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Vietnam's tuna exports to US increase

Vietnam's tuna exports increased strongly in the first month of this year, especially to the US market with many orders.

According to tuna export enterprises in Khanh Hoa province, in January, they saw an increase of 3-5 times in tuna import orders and even 10 times compared to December 2020, especially for the US market.

Nguyen Thi Thu Thanh, director of Ben Vung Seafood Co, Ltd., said the company received many orders to export tuna to the US in January. However, the local companies have faced shortages of raw materials for processing tuna products due to a strong reduction in tuna output in many countries such as India and Singapore. This has led to higher prices of raw tuna.

At present, the price has surged to 5 USD per kilo of tuna from 3.5 USD in November 2020. Le Buu Quoc, head of the Thinh Hung Co, Ltd’s Procurement Department, said that the higher price of imported raw tuna and impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic had pushed the price of tuna up in the domestic market. But businesses still had to buy the material at high prices for processing export products.

Quoc said the company had received many orders to export tuna products to the US, mainly for supermarkets, while restaurants in the US, especially high-end establishments, had not reopened.

Amid the pandemic, export orders to the US helped the company maintain stability in production. Meanwhile, the export price had increased by about 4 percent compared to the previous month.

T&H Nha Trang Co, Ltd. is also receiving orders for tuna from many markets. Therefore, this company has also increased the purchasing price of tuna to 115,000 VND per kilo to encourage fishermen to catch the fish.

Huynh Dac Tri, director of the T&H Nha Trang Co, Ltd., said the tuna export markets were under normal operations, excluding the European market that was still tightly controlled. Of which, the consumption of fresh tuna products from Vietnam was stable.

“The US market has not reduced demand. Therefore, the domestic tuna exporters are increasing purchases of raw material to fulfil export contracts because they face a serious shortage,” said Tri.

Nguyen Trung Hieu, head of the Management Board of the Hon Ro fishing port and the South Central Coast seafood market, said in January, most tuna fishing vessels achieved higher output than the previous month.

Specifically, each fishing vessel caught from 30-40 units of tuna fish on average, or 1.2-1.5 tonnes, with some managing 50-80 units of tuna or 2-3 tonnes. Purchasing price of tuna ranges from 110,000-115,000 VND per kilo, an increase of about 10,000-20,000 VND.

According to the Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic had a great impact on the global and Vietnamese tuna industry.

VASEP said that tuna exports in 2021 could not recover due to continuing developments of COVID-19.

Currently, the pandemic is not under control and moreover there is a risk of a rebound, so the global tuna market is expected to not yet recover.

However, the EU market will continue to be the lever for Vietnam's exports of tuna products, such as canned tuna, fresh and frozen tuna, to the EU market in 2021.

Vietnam gained a total export value of 649 million USD in 2020 from exporting tuna to 108 markets in the world. The value fell by 9.8 percent year on year./.

Domestic retailers strive to expand market share in 2021

The local retail market is forecast to grow at a double-digit rate in 2021, so domestic retailers have rushed to open new stores across the country to expand their market share since the beginning of the year.

Earlier this week, Finelife - the high-end supermarket system of Saigon Co.op - opened its fourth store in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 7. The store, named Finelife Supermarket Urban Hill, stocks more than 17,000 local and imported organic products like fresh and processed foods, cosmetics, deli foods, fruits, vegetables, beverages and more.

Finelife Supermarket Urban Hill is the first high-end supermarket in Vietnam to use automatic e-label technology and is also the first local supermarket to have self-checkout counters.

Earlier in January, Saigon Co.op said it launched new Co.op Food stores in Phu Yen, Soc Trang, Can Tho and Ca Mau provinces.

By 2025, Saigon Co.op plans to expand its network to at least 2,000 stores with priority given to improving the investment efficiency of Co.opmart stores and Co.op Food stores as well as on developing large-scale outlets to sharpen its competitiveness, congthuong.vn quoted Nguyen Anh Duc, General Director of Saigon Co.op, as saying.

In the short term, Saigon Co.op is working to expand its market share to between 43 percent and 45 percent from the current 41 percent, Duc told the online newspaper.

Another retail giant, Mobile World Investment Joint Stock Company (MWG) which owns the Dien May Xanh and Bach Hoa Xanh retail chains, also opened a number of new Dien May Xanh stores in January.

By the end of 2021, MWG aimed to raise the number of Dien May Xanh stores to 1,000 nationwide and reach revenue of 5 trillion VND, 10 times higher than 2020’s figure. The firm hopes to have 1,200 Dien May Xanh stores one year later, with revenue 30 times higher than that of 2020 to 15 trillion VND and accounting for 60 percent of the electronics retail market share.

Along with Dien May Xanh outlets, MWG is also striving to have more than 500 newly-opened and upgraded Bach Hoa Xanh stores by the end of 2021. Previously in 2020, it opened 711 new outlets, bringing the number of these stores up to 1,719. The stores last year recorded a combined revenue of 21.26 trillion VND in 2020, double that of 2019 and contributing 19.6 percent of the total revenue of MWG.

According to Vietcombank Securities (VCBS), the domestic retail market will rebound strongly in the second quarter of this year with a growth rate of 14.5 percent.

However, local retailers face fiercer competition from foreign rivals as many foreign retail brands have entered the Vietnamese market in recent years.

Nguyen Anh Duc from Saigon Co.op said his firm would use digital transformation to better adapt to changes in the market and local consumer behaviour. Also, it will enhance connections with localities nationwide and in overseas countries, he said, adding that these connections are hoped to ensure Vietnamese products continued to be the mainstay of the nation’s economy.

Meanwhile, Nguyen Dang Quang, chairman of Masan Group, told congthuong.vn that Masan planned to turn VinCommerce from a pure shopping point of sale into a platform serving essential needs with essential goods and services, accounting for more than 50 percent of spending on consumer goods, including fast-moving consumer goods, fresh food, financial services and added value services. This was Masan's goal when it decided to expand into the retail sector.

For MWG, it will still focus on the handsets, electronics and essential consumer foods through a chain of small retail stores– a core strength that has helped the firm grow strongly in recent years.

Trade experts said although the COVID-19 pandemic had negative effects, it also motivated Vietnamese retailers to improve their abilities and be ready to cope with harsher competition as the country has deeply integrated into the global market.

Canada may impose anti-dumping duties on Vietnam’s concrete reinforcing bars

Canada may impose anti-dumping duties on certain concrete reinforcing bar imports from Vietnam and other six countries following a preliminary determination recently released by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).

The anti-dumping duty investigation was initiated by the CBSA on September 22, 2020 against certain concrete reinforcing bar imports from Vietnam, Algeria, Egypt, Indonesia, Italy, Malaysia and Singapore, after a complaint was filed by a number of domestic steelmakers.

The products subject to the investigation fall under HS Codes 7213.10, 7214.20, 7215.90, and 7727.90.

The agency determined that the preliminary dumping margins by Vietnamese producers range from 3.7 percent to 15.4 percent, based on which Canada will impose temporary anti-dumping duties on the products.

The final decisions are expected to be issued on May 5 and June 4, 2021.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade has recommended concerned steelmakers in Vietnam to continue cooperating with Canadian investigators on the matter. The ministry itself will further coordinate with the Vietnam Steel Association, exporters and other stakeholders to keep a close watch on the case and take necessary act to protect the legitimate rights of Vietnamese enterprises.

During the investigated period, from June 1, 2019 to June 30, 2020, Vietnam exported nearly 66,500 tonnes of concrete reinforcing bars to Canada for around 30 million USD./.

Source: VNA/VNN/VNS/SGGP/VOV/NDO/Dtinews/SGT/VIR